Monday, October 31, 2011

How the Mistakes Were Made

Laura Loss used to be the bass player for Second Class Citzens (SCC). A band that Laura’s brother, Anthony and his friends formed. That was years ago before the fans turned on them.

Now, Laura works at a coffee shop and bassist for the Cooler Heads. It was during one of the Cooler Heads shows that Laura first met Sean and Nathan. Laura tells Sean and Nathan that if they ever want to get serious about their music than give her a call.

Months go by before Laura receives that call. Soon afterwards, Laura, Sean and Nathan are a band. They call themselves The Mistakes. This is because they kind of were a mistake. The band rocket to instant fame but than an unfortunate incident transpires and the band is torn apart.

I have to admit that this book is not something that I would have typically picked out of a bookstore to read. Though, when the publisher emailed me and was raving about this book, I decided to take a chance. Again, not that I usually base what type of books I will read based on readers thoughts. In this case, I did. Glad, I did as this book was just as good as the publisher promised it was.

This book was about the lives of rock and rock stars but it was also more. The characters and Mr. McMahon’s writing is what propelled this book to stardom for me. Laura, Sean and Nathan each brought something different to the story. Laura with her experience. Sean with his musical gift and hot headiness. Nathan for his ability to be a leader. I really felt for these three. Of course, after reading what they had to put up with getting started as a new no name band and the fans, I will just enjoy the music and leave the rock fame to others.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

VC Andrews giveaway!!

Second in an all-new series!

Cloudburst, from the creator of Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews®

Fate swept Sasha Porter into the lap of luxury, and into a torrent of bitter lies and shocking betrayals—all revealed in the riveting new novel CLOUDBURST (Pocket Star Books; October 25, 2011; $7.99) from bestselling author V.C. Andrews®.

Since being taken in by wealthy Mrs. Jordan March and living in her exquisite home like a daughter, Sasha Porter’s traumatic past—destitute on the streets, and the shattering accident that killed her mother—seems like a fading nightmare. Beautiful and sophisticated, as bold and daring as her “sister,” Kiera March, Sasha still keeps her mother’s wise words close to her heart: never fully trust anyone. Inside her privileged new world, it’s advice that will prove more precious than gold.

Against the wishes of Jordan’s husband, Donald, Sasha attracts the attention of Ryder Garfield, a shy, handsome athlete, and maneuvers her way into his heart. But Ryder’s hidden torment soon explodes in a horrific tragedy that pulls Sasha into a flood of guilt and despair. And when someone she thought she could trust targets her vulnerability, Sasha recalls her mother’s warnings—and a violent storm of dark deceptions and shocking family secrets is unleashed. Will she sink or swim?

I have one copy of this book to giveaway to a winner. US only. Sorry. No PO Boxes. Just leave a comment with your email address. Also not a requirement but would be interested to know what is your favorite VC Andrews book or series?

I will pick a winner November 6th.

The Pentacle Pendant

Review by Nancy

The White Mountains of New Hampshire hold more than beautiful trees, universities and other delights. They also hold things best left unspoken. When Claire meets Lukas at the college bar on her twenty-fourth birthday, she was immediately smitten. He was nice, good looking and obviously swept away by her. What more can you ask for your birthday?

A bit more, as it turns out. Lukas is so in love/lust that he gives Claire a birthday gift she can’t return. He makes her like him – a werewolf. Not only a werewolf, but one who takes justice into his own….well….fangs. He sees people who are cruel, unlawful and otherwise goodness-impaired and takes them out. Claire can’t understand the whole thing for awhile, but then realizes she can’t go back to the beginning and get a “do-over” so she goes along.

Their time together is full of love and love making. Claire learns more about her new abilities and then, right in the middle of it all; Lukas’ professor enters the picture. A looker named Daciana who is a lot more than she seems. Lukas turns up missing as do many of the people in Claire’s life. Seems Daciana has a gift of her own!

This is a page-turner of great proportion! Mr. DeBrock has a good cast of characters, a plot worthy of chills and a book for by-the-fire reading. Claire is a captivating heroine.

The Christmas Cookie Club is the perfect Christmas gift!

It is that time of year again. Time for Marnie’s annual Christmas Cookie Club. There are eight rules but the most important one is number 7. Which states: It’s always on the first Monday in December (referencing to the annual Christmas Cookie Club). Put it on your calendar and count on it.

There are several new ladies joining the group this year. Marnie can not wait to visit with her friends, share memories, eat food, and of course munching on cookies. The only thing that would make this day perfect is hearing from Marnie’s older, daughter Sky and her having good news. Sky and her husband have been trying to have a child. Sky has had several miscarriages. She is currently four months pregnant and hopefully this time, she will have her baby.

Each woman had a good story to tell. I could see the strong, bond that Marnie and the rest of the ladies from the club had. They knew almost all of each other’s secrets; they have been there during life, death, marriage and divorce. I have to admit that I did like Marnie. She was the glue that held every one together. Plus, I loved that she was known as the “head cookie bitch”.

The Christmas Cookie Club is the perfect Christmas gift. Besides being a fun read, it has yummy recipes and I learned some things about the origin of some of the ingredients like butter, ginger, almonds and wheat to name a few. All that is left to do is wrap this book up and stick a bow on it and you will score a Big “Thank you”.

Be Chosen or miss out!

Author, Chandra Hoffman's first novel, Chosen is being released in paperback on November 8th. You have got to check it out. I read this book when it was first released on hardback and loved it. You can read my review here.


Chandra Hoffman has truly led a fascinating life. She has been an orphanage relief worker in Romania , a horse trainer in the Caribbean, a short order cook in a third world hospital, the director of a U.S. adoption program, and an event planner for Philadelphia ’s Main Line elite. A graduate of Cornell University and Antioch ’s MFA program, after living in eleven international cities, she has settled back in her hometown outside of Philadelphia with her husband, three young children, and an ever-changing menagerie. For more on Chandra Hoffman, including a video trailer for CHOSEN , a Q&A with her, and other writing, visit her website:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Recalculating with author Jennifer Weiner

Recalculating: A Short Story
By Jennifer Weiner

Tommy had been dead for six months when Maureen found the box he’d left for her in the attic.

She’d gone up there to retrieve the Halloween decorations, the glow-in-the-dark eyeballs and fake spiders that she’d twine around the front gate, the witch’s hat she’d perch on her head when she stood in the doorway, handing out candy to kids who looked less and less familiar each year, and the candy bowl itself, with a plastic claw perched on the edge (the claw would open and shut dramatically, grasping for a trick-or-treater’s hand when Maureen pressed a button underneath).

The Halloween stuff was where she expected to find it, in a lidded plastic storage bin with the word Halloween written in Tom’s clear, firm handwriting on a sticker on top. The box was next to it, wrapped in silvery paper, tied with a gold bow. A small white envelope was slipped underneath the bow, and her name, again in Tommy’s handwriting, was on it. For Maureen, it read.

Suddenly breathless, as if her husband’s ghost had popped up out of nowhere to stand before her, glaring, Maureen staggered backward and tripped over the Halloween stuff. The bin tipped onto its side, spilling its contents—tea light candles and spray-can spiderwebs, tubes of black and silver glitter, a squirt bottle of fake blood, a grinning, glow-in-the-dark skull—onto the attic floor. “Jesus God, Tom, you scared me!” she said, one hand over her heart and her whole body trembling. It took her a few minutes to remind herself that Tommy wasn’t here, that Tommy was gone, dead and gone, that Tommy would never scare her again.

“Silly goose,” she told herself. That hadn’t been one of Tommy’s pet names for her—dumb bitch had sufficed as an endearment during the long dark night of their marriage. “Silly goose” was what she called Tom Junior and Liza when they were up to some small bit of childish mischief. Then, knees creaking, Maureen hunkered down in an awkward crouch and began to pick up the mess. When order was restored, and the bin neatly re-lidded, she picked up the gift box in the corner. For Maureen, she read again, this time without squealing or gasping or stumbling around like some girl. She was fifty-four years old, too old to act like a child. With one ragged thumbnail she slit the envelope open. The card contained just three words: Love always, Tommy.

Maureen bent her head. A dull red flush had risen to her cheeks. One hand wandered almost reflexively to her hair, gathered up a hank and started pulling. Not gently. “Oh, Tommy,” she whispered, sick with shame, dizzy with guilt. She and her husband had had their secret life, it was true, but that didn’t mean he was without kindness. At his funeral, their daughter had said that her dad was a man who never forgot a birthday, never forgot an anniversary, and would take time to write letters as the Tooth Fairy when each of Liza’s teeth had fallen out.

Love always, Tommy. Had he loved her after all? She sent her mind back along the thirty years of their union and decided that the answer was no . . . or maybe that what Tommy had named love was some mutant variation on the real thing, a toxic and night-blooming flower that he called a rose.

She lifted the box, feeling its weight. Not heavy, not light. She shook it experimentally. It didn’t make a sound. She would wait, she decided. “Always safe, never sorry,” she whispered—that had been one of Tommy’s sayings, he had a million of them—and carried both the bin and the box down the stairs.

Copyright  2011 by Jennifer Weiner

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Washington Square Press Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

Read Jen's recent blog post about how this story went from just an idea to a published ebook in less than a week

To Sleep Gently

Review by Nancy

Jack Dempster grew up in a small place with friends and, of course, a “best” friend. He did all right until he got caught after robbing a bank and went away for five years to pay for his sin. You’d think that reading as many books as he did for those five years, thinking about becoming a priest, really wanting to change it would have worked for him.

Fate had other plans. The first thing Jack does upon release is go visit some old friends. They talk him into one more heist in New Mexico. He gets three “assistants” who can barely assist themselves to the john but, you take what you can get. They plan on robbing a hotel/casino in Santa Fe.

Meanwhile, Jack has met his old friend and also a young woman whom he is attracted to but has serious conscious issues about. She doesn’t have – much of a conscious, I mean! As always happens his past comes back in spades and life suddenly isn’t as simple as it was yesterday.

This was my first Zelanzy book, but I doubt it will be the last. The character of Jack pulled me and I found myself feeling bad for him. Try it out. If you haven’t read and of the prior books by this author, I suggest you try them as well. Enjoy!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Haunted on Bourbon Street

Review by Nancy

New Orleans has always had its share of oddities. Some say vampires, we all know about voodoo and those wonderful cemeteries just have to have some ghosts floating about. It seems one has landed in the newly rented apartment of Jade Calhoun. Worse than that, being an empath, she can see him!

Moving to the South from Idaho was enough of a culture shock, but ghosts! Plus the hunk landlord has her bothered enough without someone staring her from the ectoplasm world all the time. Her ex-boyfriend (7 years!) basically told her she should be committed when Jade explained to him about the empathetic powers. To add wounds to an already bleeding pain, her best friend, the only one who was ever really trusted with Jade’;s secret is now living with the ex. In New Orleans!

Kane, the landlord; his pal Pyper and others try to make Jade welcome but there is always something holding her back. She meets a “ghost hunter” who wants to date her but only to take her to ghostly sites hoping for his own sighting. Kane is always there, in the background in his hunky clothes and ornery attitude. Will jade ever let him in? Or anyone? And by the way, who’s the ghost? Or is it really ghosts?

An excellent story just in time for All Hallows Eve. I hope there will be more from Jade and Kane and their crew of friends. Applause on this book and waiting for more!

Learning more about Little Did I Know.

Product Description

Here is the story of an unforgettable summer. Set in Plymouth, MA in the late seventies, Little Did I Know is the tale of a young man with an outsized dream – to refurbish a dilapidated but historic theater and produce a season's worth of vibrant musicals. A recent college graduate, he fills his cast and crew with people he has come to love and trust in his university life, and with others whose talents and personalities prove undeniable. Yet, while the productions drive his ambitions, a local woman drives his passions, and their romance is fateful, star-crossed, and ultimately more than either of them expected. Told with with, compassion, and the kind of insider's access to the theater that only someone like Mitchell Maxwell can provide, Little Did I Know is a novel about coming of age in the spotlight and embracing one's entire future in a single season.

You can read my review here

Excerpt from book


“Promise,” they all said in unison. That was enough for me.

Now my promises of weeks ago, the pledges made on that inebriated celebratory night, needed to happen, to take flight, to live. So as my silly tasseled hat hit the ground, it exploded in a burst of fire, color, and endless pyrotechnics of promise and winning.

Guest Post:

Years ago I did a musical on London's West End where it became a big smash hit. After we danced and celebrated and the thanked the theater gods toasting each one with a fresh pint we came to the sober realization that we had a show that was the buzz of Piccadilly and beyond. Within days we had offers to take the show on tour in the UK, remount it in NY were offered a lucrative guaranteed tour of Japan. Has I had come to learn "hits are fun".

So, we loved the British company and decided to keep them for the remount in NY and then bring them to Japan. Saving money and keeping the family together. Unfortunately the unions would not allow the entire company to make the journey so we were forced to choose who we might replace and went about the process with a sense of joy mixed with melancholy. We all agreed on one actor that "had to stay" even if we had to throw down the gauntlet to the gods of the union. So on the day of auditions whenever an actress walked in to sing for this "taken" role her chances were slim and none.

And then I learned something that stays with me every time a performer walks in and has the guts and resolve and courage to audition. You just never know where you will find magic or goose bumps or electricity in a performer so strong it can light a city.

This young woman stepped center stage, gave her name, which was barely noted and said she was going to sing a song from BALLROOM. Out of professional respect we listened and then within a moment, a heartbeat, a breath taken away we all knew at once that something special had happened and our plan had changed. Talent is a gift, professionalism is a craft but when God gives the ability to stop the world and have it pay attention and you are lucky enough to be in the room . . .well remember it is better than a real job--sort of like a snow flake --never to replicated, unique with its own power to be remembered.

I have auditioned hundreds of actors and so many of them are good. They are pleasant and special in the own way. But when a rocket ship walks in and fires up I have learned to get on and enjoy the ride.

That's how you discover art, your own gifts and your own insights. The journey is fluid, the play is the thing and goose bumps is the goal.

I have met hundreds of actors --I remember talent most, then character and how when we shook hands did our eyes meet and register a connection. The good ones come back and it is fun to be there when they do.

To read more about this book and another excerpt go My Rocky Mtn Mommy on October 30th.

Skeleton Lake

Review by Nancy
Running through the forest, mad as hell, hurt more than mad; Marlow saw the old dock and did what her heart told her to do. She jumped. The water wasn’t cold, even with the snow on the ground. It welcomed her and made her feel loved.

Not so much when she woke up on Lena’s sofa with people staring at her. Kids she knew from school in a “Hi, what’s up?” kinda way. Not close friends at all. Then she gets news she hadn’t planned on. She’s dead.

This isn’t a simple thing at all. Her bones are a lovely bronze color and she can see them when she goes into the lake. Skeleton Lake – the one you can’t see – the one everyone thinks is a cornfield; except for a select few. And this isn’t the worst. There are Others in the forest called Hallows and all they want is Marlow and Lena because the girl Hallows can’t have children.

A great story with a new premise. The characters are very well-written and the lake is an entirely new concept of which I completely approve! Hopefully there will be more.

Title: Skeleton Lake
Author: Angela Kulig
ISBN: 978-1937733-03-2
Release Date: October 21st, 2011
Genre: YA paranormal romance
Synopsis: Unsure if she's drowning or being saved, all Marlow wants to do is run away. Ensnared in a haunting love triangle, she realizes both boys have holes in their hearts—scars from loving the same girl, a girl who managed to stay dead. Now she is being hunted for what she has become and what she never asked to be. Even as a Skeleton Marlow isn’t the worst thing in the night—she isn’t even close.

Goodreads Page:
Author Twitter: @angelakulig
Author Website:
Publisher Twitter:@redirisbooks


"Last night you died."
I looked down at my hands. They were still perfect, still showing no signs of their previous mauling. This time I half expecting to see my skin there decaying before my eyes, but nothing happened, until they began to blur.

I blinked, and then hot tears splashed down on the forgotten quilt. I had no idea why I was crying, because at that moment I felt nothing. I was numb or maybe really dead inside. As the panic rose in me at the thought of being stuck that way forever, I welcomed it.

"Ugh," Raiden groaned. "Don't cry! That isn't even the worst of it!"
Not the worst of it? The panic escalated as I swatted at my tears. I tried to stand, but accomplished nothing. I was tired of Raiden looking down at me, and at some point my legs had forgotten how to hold my weight and I fell--never hitting the floor. Raiden caught me by the same arm as before, and quickly pulled me up to face him. He was taller than I remembered. My head barely reached his shoulders, which were so, so close. The musky scent from before began to overwhelm me when I noticed that his lips were close too, and they were moving again.

He released his grip on my arm, but he never stopped touching me. I could still feel the warmth of his fingers where they had dug into me as he stopped my fall--warm fingers--which reminded me nothing of the bony ones from the lake.

"You're warm, and skeletons are only bones."
Those were facts, no matter how incoherent they sounded coming out of my mouth.
"I can show you," he said.
And I had no idea what he meant by that, but I was already agreeing.
"Come with me?" he asked in a whisper.
He was already pulling me out the door. His breath on my cheek lingered longer than I thought about not following his lead.

After the black walls of Raiden's room, the cheery yellow hallways were almost painful to look at. The walls were all lined with pristine white molding. No dust, no dents. I had a hard time believing this was even the same house. After everything I had heard today, believing that Raiden's bedroom door was some kind of portal to another dimension would not be a stretch.

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed something reflective. I whipped my head around so quickly, the momentum of it nearly sent me to the ground. In a frantic second, I expected to see the lake there, but it was just a large mirror in an antique silver frame. It was polished to perfection, I didn't even glance at it, I was busy looking at the horrid sight in front of me.

Randomly I thought, "At least I still have all my skin." This wasn’t at all comforting.

Half my dark hair stuck flat to my head, and the other half was a frizzy mess. My lips were pale, but a line of thick dried blood sat in the creases. Likely a leak where I had bitten my tongue earlier and I was wearing someone else's clothes.
"Where are my clothes?" I asked my reflection.

Raiden who had been trying to pull me further along turned back to face me, and for the first time I swore I saw him blush.
"What your run through the woods didn't shred, the like had for dinner."
I failed to breathe. Did that mean that...?
"When you found me, was I... naked?"
"Marlow," he breathed, hot on my face again. "When I found you, you were nothing but bones."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

More Lassiter Please!

Jake Lassiter is in the middle of court when he sees her. A pretty brunette. She is watching him. After the trial is over, the brunette comes over to Jake and introduces herself. Her name is Amy Larkin. She shows Jake a picture of some guys and some strippers. It seems that one of the girls in the picture is Amy’s sister, Kristi and she has gone missing. Jake was the last person to see her.

Jake may be a lot of things but he is no murderer. In addition, he does not like that his reputation is being slung through the mud. Jake decides to investigate the disappearance of Kristi. That is the only way he can clear his name. Whatever good that is worth.

This is the first book I have read by this author. Lassiter is the latest Jake Lassiter novel. Though, I had no problems jumping right in and enjoying this book with out having read all the prior books in the series. What really made this book for me was Lassiter’s persona. He did not use ethical ways when investigating and this is what I liked about him. He is someone that I can get behind and cheer for.

In addition, all the characters involved in the story line were not just secondary but made strong presences. This was a good book. Now that I am familiar with Mr. Levine’s work, I will be keeping an eye on him. I do plan to go back and read all the other books in this series.

Bonjour 40 - A Paris travel log (40 years, 40 days, 40 seconds)

Bonjour 40 is the end product of author, Karen A. Chase’s trip to Paris. She spent forty days visiting everything and doing everything there was to do and see in Paris. This is because someone asked Karen what she was going to do for her upcoming forthwith birthday. This was asking only after Karen had just had her thirty-ninth’s birthday. Karen had a whole year to plan and save for her trip to Paris. I am jealous that Karen spent forty days in Paris. Now, this is what I call really celebrating your fortieth birthday. The picture of Karen when she was only fourteen-months old, sitting on a chair playing on the typewriter was precious. The picture of the Eiffel Tower through the Wall of Peace was great. Also the macaroon photo had my mouth watering. I have eaten these before but never the fresh, French kind. Guess, I will have to go to Paris one day myself to eat one.

This book is set up to read like a journal. Each chapter is marked by Day 1, 2 and date versus an actual chapter number. Due to Karen’s excitement with visiting Paris and all the sites, it was like I was there with her. This book is short at only one hundred and thirty four pages and is a quick read. Though, I still would have read this book in a short amount of time had it been longer due to the fact that I enjoyed having Karen as my tour guide. She is a skilled photographer. I wish you could see her work…wait you can on her website or her facebook page!

I did want to share some of the things that Karen learned being in Paris.

• Naps on the grass are essential to well-being.
• Walk more. Bike more.
• Laugh like the English.
• Kiss like the French.
• Sharing a scene is better than stealing it.

Karen A. Chase is a writer, designer, photographer, and traveler. Born in Canada, she has lived in the United States
since 1990. After more than ten years as a professional graphic designer and copywriter, she began her own branding and design studio in 2004. While building her
company, she branched into a secondary career as a freelance writer of historical fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, writing for online magazines like HOW Design and as a guest columnist for The Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper. Bonjour 40 is her first book. She and her partner, Ted, live in Virginia with their two cats.

The Last Confederate Battle

Review by Nancy

Three brothers, Dwayne, Emmett and Andrew Davis are affected by the Civil War in various ways. We see Dwayne wanting so badly to go into battle but, being a lawyer and appointed to serve the South by visiting France and England to gain support for their cause he just wishes. Emmett is a leader and very well thought of. A prior merchant he begins a plan to outrun the Union blockade to get supplies for his Southern brothers in war. Andy is wounded immediately but his fascination with the telegraph system gives him a chance to serve in a different way after his recovery.

Frank Stone is a New York City Detective who is drafted by President Lincoln to oversee investigations into why Union arms are ending up in Southern hands. He works with the Pinkertons and has made a friend for life in the person of Lincoln. He is also smitten with the widow Jenkins, who leaves him to return to Ireland.

How these men interact in the respective positions in the 1860’s is the stuff of great books and this is one. This has to be one of the best accounts of the Civil War I’ve read and, since my gr-gr grandfather fought for the North, I’ve read quite a bit. The poverty, the violence and the compassion of Abraham Lincoln all come through in this book. Great research and a great story! It would make a special gift to anyone interested in this time period.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Following a twenty five year career in both the enlisted and officer corps’, John Cline retired from the U.S. Navy as a Limited Duty Officer (Mustang) in July 1993 with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He was the director of the Idaho Bureau of Disaster Services until he retired in 2005.

He has a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Workforce Education and Curriculum Development from Southern Illinois University, and a Master of Art degree (M.A.) in National Security Studies; Homeland Security and Defense from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy (140th Session), and was nationally certified by the National Coordinating Council on Emergency Management and the International Association of Emergency Managers. He is an avid Amateur Radio Operator with the call sign W5USN. John and his wife Pat have three children and four grandchildren.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Botticelli Affair

Review by Nancy
In the world of art forgery Laila Cambridge was Queen. Her artwork seemed to come from the original artist (and, actually did, kind of) and NO ONE who didn’t know could tell hers from the original one. They sold for millions.

A part-time tour guide she takes groups through the Met now and throws her own comments in as well. A man she had met the evening before comes there and mentions he knows her father. Wait – KNOWS! The man has been missing for over 5 years! John Bolingbroke knows that, he also knows he promised the man that he would protect Laila.

Protecting is a lot harder when you fall for your charge. It’s also harder when she falls back. They are charged with finding a painting by Botticelli and Da Vinci called Coming Forth by Day. Quite a few people (and other things) are interested in this painting as it supposedly shows a cure for vampirism.

Laila, John, roomie Fern and many more join in the hunt for the painting. It turns out that not only is is wanted but people very close to Laila have seen it but never bothered to mention, of course. John is much more than a besotted guardian and has a lot more at stake than Laila knows.

What a tale! I loved this, nearly missed a class to finish it and, if your love art, vampires, great plots and characters this is the one for you. It’s perfect to start off your Fall reading.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Judy McFarland works as a kindergarten teacher at Waldorf School. Judy is currently working on organizing the school’s Christmas bazaar. Judy receives some extra pair of hands. One of her son’s friends needs some extra credit and his mom has volunteered him. His name is Zach Patterson. He is sixteen. At first Judy thought Zach was an impolite boy. Surely not someone that Judy would ever think about having an affair with. Though as time passes and Judy’s husband is occupied with obtaining his PhD, Judy feels neglected.

The relationship between Judy and Zach sounded like the relationship that I imagine Mary Kay Letourneau and Vivi had. Only, Judy did not marry Zach. I could not feel sorry for Judy. Which to me is a good thing, as it would mean that I forgave Judy for her actions. The only thing that I felt sorry for when it came to Judy is that she was weak. She gave in to her impluses and did not care who got hurt or used in the process. When it came to Judy and Zach, the sex scenes were mild. This is another plus, if the scenes had been any hotter than I may have stopped reading this book. The parts that I could not get into were the ones that flashed back to Judy and her childhood in Germany. I have to say that this book is definetly a conversation novel.

Excerpt from book

"You didn't change yours."

"I was just buying some time."

He beat an edgy rhythm with his palms against the leather. "You want it or not? Because

I really do have a ton of homework, and it's getting late."

I cringed. "Don't say it like that. It sounds awful that way."

"Is that a no?"

*Head over to Book Junkie's Bookshelf on October 27th for the next installment from THE KINGDOM OF CHILDHOOD*

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Man Who Couldn't Eat

My Review
I am not familiar with Crohn’s disease. So to read what Mr. Reiner went through dealing with this disease, it was disheartening. I can not imagine having to live with Crohn’s disease. Always having to worry about what you eat not because you want to lose weight but because you never know when some type of food could be like a time bomb towards your body.

Reading about the stool blockage that formed in Mr. Reiner’s small intestine and tore a perforation in his intestinal wall, which caused a rupture was horrible. I could just envision the horrific pain that he was in, while he lay on his kitchen floor waiting for his wife to come home. Luckily, the doctor was able to stabilize Mr. Reiner but in order to heal and avoid further surgery; the doctor informs Mr. Reiner that he will have to have a PICC line for total parenteral nutrition (TPN). Mr. Reiner will be receiving food intravenously.

The way Mr. Reiner described food was better than some food writers. I swear I could almost smell and taste the pastrami from Kazi. While, I did appreciate Mr. Reiner sharing his story, I found this book to be heavy. I could not sit and just read it. In fact I did skim over it in parts. After reading this book, I would never wish anyone to have this disease.

So who is Jon Reiner? Well I will just let Mr. Reiner explain himself.


I won the 2010 James Beard Foundation Award for Feature Writing for authoring the Esquire story, “The Man Who Couldn’t Eat.” You may be thinking, That doesn’t make any sense. You wouldn’t be altogether wrong. Because of the anti-food subject of my story, I was an anti-food food writer. It’s a niche I inhabit as the sole member. The group’s meetings generally go smoothly.

In the instant I received the award, astonishingly, I became a food writer. A major publisher (Simon & Schuster) enthusiastically received my proposal to write a memoir based on the magazine story, with food deprivation at the core of a story that would be marketed as a food book. No one found this more absurd than my wife, Susan, who’s endured my very limited cooking for 15 years, waiting, prodding, urging me to study recipes just a little and get beyond the breaded pork chops of which she and our children have long tired. “You, a food writer? Ha!”

When I wrote the book, however, an amazing thing happened. In tracing the flashpoints that would tell a life story, I discovered that food had been a telling part of just about every meaningful event I could remember, starting when I was a kid and my parents took me to Katz’s Deli on the Lower East Side. Psychologically, emotionally, socially, culturally, historically, financially – food has been there throughout. So, while I may not have a clue how to make an apricot sauce to braise the chicken (I think water is involved), I remember its aromatic jungle flavor, how buoyant it made me feel, and how my wife’s pretty face was framed by the dark brick wall in our honeymoon apartment the first time I tasted it. Me, a food writer? You’ll have to read the book.

Check Mr. Reiner on Facebook

Purchase the book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Crown on Your Head is a masterpiece that should be cherished with all.

This is a cute, quick, inspiring read. The Crown on Your Head is a book to share with your children and grandchildren. Ms. Tillman states that the message she wants to convey with her books to children is that they are loved. I agree that Ms. Tillman hit her mark. This book does tell that message. The illustrations are beautiful. Each picture was like a watercolor photo. Because each page is short and the words are not too big, a child could read this book. I know that I will be sharing this book with my nephews. The Crown on Your Head is a masterpiece that should be cherished with all.

Stolen Bride is a must read book!

Sixteen year old, Naomi Knapp has been courting with Bishop Yodder’s son, Jacob. They have only been seeing each other for four months but Naomi knows that she wants to marry Jacob. Unfortunately, Naomi’s dreams come crashing down on her when Jacob tells her that he is leaving. Jacob promises that if everything goes well that he will return in two years and ask Naomi for her hand in marriage. That was three years ago.

Abram Knapp has been married to Eunice for a long time. They have four daughters. While, Abram loves his daughters, he wishes that he had sons. That is why when Eunice informs Abram that she is pregnant, he is displeased. He has given up the idea of ever having a son. In fact, he is mad at Eunice for being pregnant.

Bishop Yodder tells Abram that there is a young man who is looking for work and he thinks that it would be a good idea if Abram hired him. The first moment that Abram sees Ted Tyler, he is brought back to the past and a woman that he was in love with. Her name is Sandra. Before she walked out of Abram’s life, she told him that she was pregnant. Could Ted be his son?

When an accident happens and the woman who is caring for Bishop Yodder’s house breaks her leg, the Bishop offers to marry Naomi. Jacob or as he goes by now Jake comes and takes Naomi to his world in New York. Will Naomi stay or go?

I have always found a fascination with books that focus on the Amish life. One of my favorite authors is Beverly Lewis. That is why I had to check out Stolen Bride. Valentine Dmitriev is a new to me author. I fell in love with this book more than I thought I would. Dr. Dmitriev really brought to life the characters and the story. I was fully immersed in this book. Naomi won my heart. She was so nice and caring. Even Naomi’s father, Abram had me feelings for him. Though, he did not act nice towards Eunice. I felt that all of Naomi’s reactions to New York and the clothing and sights were believable. I mention this because some books I have read, where this is not the case and than I feel like the book was a let down in that case. This was not the outcome in this book. Stolen Bride is a must read book! It will have you reading and re-reading it over and over again.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Calling all Kick-Ass Young Adult Heroines!

I took parts of this article from by Natalie Zutter. You can read the full article here

Don’t be afraid to make her masculine.
One of the most fascinating questions was whether the ladies consider their characters intrinsically female, and what makes them so. “Aoife does have a lot of masculine traits for when the story’s set,” Kittredge admitted. “She’s good at math, she’s athletic… She’s actually socially awkward and doesn’t have very good manners. I think with her character traits, if Aoife had been a guy, she would’ve come off as a jerk. Her desire not to be pigeonholed and to go out and seek adventure outside of the roles she’s been told she has to play, is intrinsic to her character.”

Grin and bear it when it comes to hypersexualized heroes.
However, there’s a big difference between Chicks in Chain Mail and the scantily clad superheroes that NYCC attendees saw every day on the show floor. To this relevant question, Pierce answered, “I grind my teeth a lot, I speak against it. I’m not happy with it; I would be happier if people would do it less. I support independent comics.” (You can also push to make more respectable heroines in comics, like Pierce did when she worked on Marvel’s new White Tiger series in 2006.)


My Review

The year is 1976.

Sam has just graduated college. Now it is time to pave his way in the real world. So the million dollar question is “What are you going to do now Sam?” Sam already has a plan. He shows his friends an ad for the rental of a theatre. This ad is the perfect answer to Sam’s dreams. Sam applies and receives a letter from The Barrows Foundation, who is managing the Priscilla Beach Theatre. The Barrows Foundation is pleased to offer Sam the theatre. Sam can live out his dreams and he will finally get to produce and direct musicals.

I thought this book read a little like the Great Gatsby. This is a good thing. It was zany and the characters were not to be taken too serious. I had mixed feelings about Sam. On one hand I thought he was chauvinistic, especially when it came to women and this turned me off but on the other hand, he did have some great ideas. Sam would describe the women in great detail about what their breasts looked among other details. There are also references to the male’s private parts. So, if you get offended easily than you are warned. I read another reader’s thought about this book and I had to agree that I found the sports references a bit much. At times, I had to muddle my way though sections as I thought this book moved slow at times for me. Overall, this book may not have been a Broadway hit with me but it is still worth your time to check it out.


“Is that really necessary?” Elliot asked.

Without hesitation, surrounded by nods of assent, James quickly replied, “Yes, unfortunately, it is. Quite.”

I continued. “James, well…he will be James. He will make things work that are broken. He’ll be our Spock, our man of logic and calm. He will roll us a joint in time of need. Secunda will act his ass off and sing his ass off and tell jokes and break a few hearts and help me find the money to pay the rent. We’ll kiss every frog that will ribbet, and raise this dough.”


Can you tell us something about yourself that not a lot of your readers know?

I am a tremendous optimist—I believe that you can will things to happen and when all seems at the lowest that is when you figure it out. And I can tell my wife anything which makes me very lucky.

Do you have any quirks that come out while you are writing?

I don’t trust the dialogue so I read it out loud several times in the voices of the characters to make sure it has a special and specific cadence and so that everyone sounds different. To make sure the characters speak in their “speak” their vocabulary and with a unique energy that makes us all individuals.

What is your daily routine as a writer?

I think about what I am going to write throughout the day so when I sit in front of the computer the words have been pre written in my head.

What inspired you to write your first book?

A need to revisit joy and spontaneity and lose cynicism.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Yes but I can only tell you after you have read the novel otherwise it will give too much away

What is your favorite part of the writing process?

Surprise as to where my characters go how they react to situations and how they grow in ways I never imagined. I also like to find new words to say things in a fresh fashion.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I baseball star but I couldn’t hit a curveball. To follow my passions. To leave my fingerprint on the planet. To listen and to change lives. Offer help put my beliefs ahead of my wants. To succeed. To find respect rather than be liked –if I had to choose. To find a few special persons who believed in me and not disappoint them. Be me but with a little less angst, perhaps more hair and a bigger savings account.

To read more about this book and another excerpt, click here

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


My review

Reagan Truman has grown since; she first came to Harmony, Texas. She is now a young woman has a grandpa, friends and a place to call home.

Ronelle Logan works for the post office. Her first delivery is to Mr. Marty Winslow. Ronelle was not prepared for Marty’s abrupt attitude. This would explain why on her first meeting with him, she called him a cripple.

Tyler Wright is the local funeral director. He is finally ready to make the leap from friends to more than just friends, with Kate. Though, is she ready for the same thing?

Everyone in Harmony is friendly and people that I want to hang out with. Well most of the people. There was Marty. I could not believe how grown up Reagan was. She now had to contend with boys and prior she was just happy sitting on the front porch with her grandpa. It was nice to see Noah again. I do believe that he and Reagan belong together. Ronelle became an instant hit with me. She was shy but around Marty she opened up and could be herself. Even if that meant sometimes just blurting out things.

I so love this series from author, Jodi Thomas. I have to compare this series to another one of my favorite author’s, Robyn Carr and her Virgin River series. They are both great, the characters are more like friends, and I can not read these books fast enough. The Comforts of Home is like eating a slice of Grandma’s homemade, warm, apple pie…it is delicious and makes you wants seconds and thirds!

THE COMFORTS OF HOME will be hitting the stands on Nov. 1, 2011 and I’m very excited to see my people of Harmony, Texas come alive. In my mind they already are and sometimes I feel like they’re so real that I could pack my bag and go down for a visit any time I liked.

With writing it’s always been that way for me. I don’t really feel like I create characters, I feel like I just meet people and get to know them. If I’m lucky they tell me their story. When I meet people who read and love my books I always like to hug them. After all, we have friends in common.

As the people of Harmony began to sit down and tell me their story (in my head) I found one quiet woman fascinating from the first. At a time in her life when she was young and should have been going out on dates and having a ball, she was silently working at the post office without one person she called friend. The story whirls around with people falling in love, breaking up and living life, but in the corner of my mind, Ronelle Logan waited for her story.

People in general frightened her. One by one they were terrifying. Chapter 2, The Comforts of Home.

In the opening of THE COMFORTS OF HOME she is about to meet a man who will petrify her at first and awaken her to life as they talk.

In a closing note, I’d like to add that you are going to love a new character I introduce. He’s just a kid (17) with long hair, and a dream to make it big in the music world. We’ll be watching him grow up and fall in love several times before he figures women out.

Come along with me to Harmony. We’ll have a grand visit with the people there.

Wishing you much love and laughter in your life,

Jodi Thomas

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Popularity Rules

Katherine Elliot is a music journalist for Think Louder. Though, she is at the bottom of the totem pole. This is because she does not kiss ass. Her co-workers disrespect her and so does her room mate. As if it could get worse, Kat’s ex-friend, Lauren Anderville reappears. The last time that Kat saw Lauren was when Lauren was ditching Kat for popularity. Lauren is pretty, rich, hangs with the coolest people and has a successful job. Lauren tells Kat that she wants to start over with Kat. In fact, she is willing to break one of the rules of the Popularity Rules book by sharing her secret.

The Popularity Rules book is based on the simple, psychological truth that nobody ever recovers from high school. In reality, this actually makes sense. While, we all strive to better ourselves, there is a small part of us that still reverts back to our former self in high school. I liked Kat. She showed spunk, however I also felt like she needed to take a stronger and louder stand for herself. She left Lauren just step in take the reins. Lauren did not have much substance in the way of being a three dimensional character. I knew that this book would be about clichés and popularity but I did not realize how much this turned me off. I guess if the story had been up to par and the characters than I may have liked the book better but the book and me just did not click. I do know that Abby can write as I read The Liberation of Alice Love and liked it a lot.

Dare to Live: Devotions for Those Over the Hill, Not Under It.

Review by Nancy
In 1991, Elizabeth Van Liere lost her husband and her entire life for a little while. She regained faith in a very humorous way and took up something she has enjoyed all her life – writing. Her ability to take an event and turn it into a lesson is wonderful and I hope there are more books coming from her soon.

This collection of Christian thoughts is a must read! The stories are timely, the thoughts make YOU think as well and the questions are for soul-searching. My very favorite was near the beginning and titled: “A Crown of Grey Hair.” I’m certainly getting my own and reading her thoughts on greying made me feel a bit better inside. A book of stories, devotions and Scripture quotes for everyone – even if you aren’t a Senior Citizen.

Chocolates Are Yummy, But God Is Sweeter
(from Dare to Live, Devotions for Those Over the Hill, Not Under It)

So then whatever you eat or drink or whatever you may do, do all for the honor and glory of God.
I Corinthians 10:31 (Amplified)

What is the first goodie to disappear on a dessert table during the fellowship hour at church? Anything chocolate—especially brownies. Ask those among you who is a chocoholic and hands are lifted high with the enthusiasm of a praise and worship band. And happy day! I just read, “Dark chocolate is good for you.” Those words push aside my guilty feelings when I let a piece of chocolate slowly melt in my mouth.

It’s not so much the one piece I savor. It’s when I buy a box of chocolates. Not a huge box—no more than a double layer of brown nuggets. One of my daughters-in-law can buy a Hershey’s candy bar and eat one square a day. Not me. I open the box … slowly inhale the aroma … linger over the choice. Will it be a chocolate-covered caramel, a chocolate-covered truffle, or a crunchy chunk filled with nuts?

I snatch the truffle and shut the box.

Moments later the lid is off again. Just one more piece, then I’ll stop.

Sin is like my addiction to chocolate. To live as God wants me to live, especially in light of His grace, requires that I develop self-control in all things—including chocolate. Paul tells us we are to glorify God at all times. This includes eating, drinking, working or playing. “I will not be mastered by anything,” Paul told the church at Corinth.

Chocolates are only one of God’s gifts to us. Gobbling one piece after another means the object masters us instead of our being the master, just as overindulging in anything can rule our lives. God’s sweetness is more important than craving for chocolate. Do you suppose a chocolate obsession reveals a soul that is weak and easily led astray?

Heavenly Father, You know I cannot keep my hand out of the box of chocolates by myself. I need Your help. So let my eyes skip over the sale at Walgreens for chocolates. Keep my eyes on the road ahead instead of to the side where Stouffers beckons. Grow self-control in me in everything, so all I eat, drink, or do glorifies You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Step Further
Proverbs 25:16; I Corinthians 9:24-27

Building Blocks of Faith
Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Why do I feel I can indulge myself just because I’m elderly?
Does it really matter if I take four pieces of candy instead of one?

Author Bio
Elizabeth Van Liere ‘s first story, “The Early Bird,” sent in with numerous mistakes, was published by Child Life in 1961. Since then, with much learning, her inspirational articles, poetry, children’s stories, and devotionals have found homes. Now, some fifty years later, at age 87, her first book is available: Dare to Live, Devotions for Those Over the Hill, Not Under It.

Elizabeth’s husband died in 1991, but she kept busy helping her daughter raise four sons. Others in her family: three sons, ten grandchildren, and fourteen great grandchildren. She loves the chance to visit them all, in Colorado and from California to Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Germany.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Welcome to Jeremy Robinson’s Great Kindle Giveaway and Blog Tour!

Welcome to Jeremy Robinson’s Great Kindle Giveaway and Blog Tour.

“Hurray for free Kindles!” you say, but who the hell is Jeremy Robinson? Allow me to introduce myself. I’m the author of eleven mixed genre novels, published in ten languages, including the popular fantasy YA series, THE LAST HUNTER, and the fast-paced Jack Sigler series (also known as Chess Team—not nearly as nerdy as it sounds), PULSE, INSTINCT and THRESHOLD from Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press. I’m the co-author of an expanding series of novellas deemed the Chesspocalypse, which take place in the Chess Team universe. If that doesn’t wet your whistle, I’m also known as Jeremy Bishop, the #1 horror author of THE SENTINEL and the controversial novel, TORMENT. For more about me, or my books, visit

I have watched for years as my fellow authors held online events called blog tours. Some would visit ten blogs. Others, as many as ninety. And every day they would bring something different, waxing eloquent about a multitude of topics. When I finally decided to have a blog tour of my own, and settled on doing each and every weekday in October, my first thought was, “This will be cool,” which was immediately followed up by, “Holy crap, I can’t think of something interesting to say twenty times in one month!” I can barely think of something worthwhile for my own blog just once a month. The solution is what follows; each blog participating in the tour could ask me ANY three questions. That means, if the subject matter bores you, I’m not to blame! Huzzah!

But fear not. There are other rewards for sloughing through the questions and answers. I’ll be giving away two Kindles to two randomly selected readers who sign up for my newsletter. Details on the giveaway can be found below. On to the Q&A!

1. You seem to write a lot about end of days scenarios. Is this something you believe in or just a great book topic?

A little of both. I’m a believer, but I couldn’t tell you how I think, or how the Bible says, things will actually play out. In terms of “end of days” fiction I’m about as far as you can get from LEFT BEHIND or books like that. My depictions of the end of the world aren’t based on the Biblical version laid out in Revelations. Really, I just like destroying the planet and killing everyone —okay, almost everyone. And that scenario will always bring about mentions of the Biblical apocalypse, whether or not that’s what the story is really about. ANTARKTOS RISING and TORMENT both give mention to the Bible in their very different end of the world scenarios, but a good Bible scholar would (and some have) see that very little lines up. For me, despite my personal beliefs, Armageddon is just good entertainment.

2. What do you do to get ready to write and where do you go to write?

I write every day, in my office, which is full of things (books, toys, paintings, movies, games, etc) that inspire me. I tend to play a video game, which clears my mind of distractions, before writing. During writing, I listen to a soundtrack. In fact, I pick a specific soundtrack for each novel and listen to it, and only it, as I write. For example, THE LAST HUNTER series has been (and will be) written while listening to The Book of Eli soundtrack. It has the same creepy, surreal feel that I’m trying to create in the book, and when I put on that soundtrack I’m instantly transported back into that imaginary world. And to anyone reading that series, I highly recommend listening to that soundtrack while you read!

3. Do you feel that the book industry will survive without loss of paper books?

The book industry as a whole will survive. There will always be authors. And readers. But I wouldn’t dare try to predict what that will look like. I assume there will always be publishers because most authors aren’t also entrepreneurs or have the knowledge to design a book cover, format and e-book or market their titles. But there is a growing population (including me) that can do all those things, and successfully. The author/publisher is a new publishing model that’s working great for those that treat it as a business and set their standards high. I think we’ll see a number of new authors rise to prominence this way, and I also think we’ll see some big name authors jump ship from big publishing and go it alone. Publishing is going to take a hit. They already are. But the savvy publishers that adapt to the e-book market first will pull through. Those that don’t are doomed to the fate of the dinosaurs.

Hope that was as good for you as it was for me. Now how about that kindle giveaway?

Here’s the deal: to be entered to win one of two free kindles all you have to do is visit my website—and sign up for the newsletter. That’s it. The first kindle will go to a randomly chosen newsletter signup on October 31. For the second kindle, there’s a catch. The second giveaway will only be triggered if one of my kindle books hits the bestseller list (top 100). So pick up some books (most are just $2.99 a pop) and spread the word! If one of the books squeaks up to #100 for just a single hour, the second kindle will be given away to another randomly chosen newsletter sign up on October 31.

*When you sign up for the newsletter, be sure to include the name of the blog that referred you in the field provided. I’ll be giving away two $50 gift certificates to the blog that refers the most sign-ups and another to the blog who referred the first kindle winner.

** I will announce winners via Twitter, Facebook, my blog, and newsletter (which you will be signed up for!) but I’ll also e-mail the winners directly—I’ll need to know where to ship those kindles!

Thanks for spending some time with me today. Hope you enjoyed the Q&A, and good luck with the kindle giveaway!

-- Jeremy Robinson

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Conversations and Cosmopolitans: Awkward Moments, Mixed Drinks, and How a Mother and Son Finally Shared Who They Really Are.

OMG. This book had me laughing so much. I can not remember the last time that I had such a fun time reading a book. I love Mrs. Rave. She is a sweetheart and knows all the right things to say. Of course, Mr. Rave is priceless. Like when Robert was going to get waxed and his dad gave an analogy about how he did not see a problem if his son wanted to get some things waxed as when he and Mrs. Rave first moved into their home, the back yard was over grown and they did not want anyone to come over until they had cleaned it up. Thus this classic line from Mr. Rave “I’m saying Robert needs to trim his tree and bush before anyone spends time in his backyard.”

Another favorite chapter of mine was when Robert was teaching his mom about the “gay glossary”. As you can imagine words can carry different meanings in the “gay glossary”. I have to say that one that really stuck with me and had me almost in tears from laughter was “Flagger”


Mrs. Rave’s Definition: Someone in a gang or rough around the edges.
Actual Gay Definition: Someone in the middle of a nightclub or party who starts twirling flags around; ANNOYING!

There are many more great moments like the Cosmopolitan incident…Cosmopolitan 3 versus Mrs. Rave 0. Though as much as I am a fan of Robert’s. I have read both Waxed and Spin, which are both great by the way. I have to admit that Mrs. Rave kind of stole the spotlight. Reading her point of view after each chapter was classic. If anything, reading this book mad me love Robert even more and his family. If you want to read a really good book about love, family bond, and a mother and son relationship of growth and discovering one’s self than you have to run not walk or click purchase with your mouse and get a copy of Conversations and Cosmopolitans: Awkward Moments, Mixed Drinks, and How a Mother and Son Finally Shared Who They Really Are.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cemetery Girl will give you chills.

When Caitlin was just twelve years old, she disappeared. Since that time, Tom and Abby Stuart have tried to hold on to hope that Caitlin might still return to them one day. Though, with Caitlin gone, their marriage has fallen apart. Abby is finally ready to let go of Caitlin but Tom is not.

Tom and Abby receive “the call”. The one that they never thought that they would ever receive. The police ask Tom and Abby to come down as they have Caitlin. Tom and Abby are happy but Caitlin has changed. She is withdrawn and acting like a teenager. Tom and Abby can not figure out why Caitlin does not want to identify her kidnapper. What is Caitlin hiding?

I had been seeing this book popping up on different sites that I was visiting and the more and more that I kept reading about it, I thought ok, this is a book I have to check out sooner rather than later. I have to say that I am glad that I did. It was not so much the characters that did it for me but the story. The only person I really felt for was Tom. Everyone else had their doubts and had given up but not Tom. He fought until the bitter end. Tom made me feel and cheer for him. I wanted him to prove every one wrong. Otherwise, I found Abby and even Caitlin off putting. Abby was not supportive and would verbally lash out at time at Tom. Caitlin, who I understand can change after an ordeal that she experienced but to use the foul language she did, I did not care for. I wanted to wash her mouth out with soap. When I talk about the story, it is the way that Mr. Bell hinted at what happened to Caitlin and the changes. There was one point where I actually thought that maybe Caitlin had died and this was her ghost. Cemetery Girl will give you chills.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Elephant’s Footprint is a trail filled with deception, mystery, and romance!

A tour guide for the Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa finds a young woman’s body. She has been mutilated. Her name is Kosigo and she is the daughter of a rich family and known as the Rain Goddess.

Linda Van Wyk has traveled to Rustenburg, her home town for a visit. While in Rustenburg, Linda bumps into an old friend. It is Chief Detective Inspector Arnie Swart. Arnie has a lot of pressure to solve the death of Kosigo, so when Linda offers to assist, now that she is a legal licensed private investigator, Arnie accepts. The police determine that Kosigo’s death was an unfortunate one due to a rogue elephant and close the case. Linda believes that the police have it wrong and that Kosigo’s death was an act of man and not animal. The police do not want to listen what with the upcoming World Cup. Linda won’t rest until she solves Kosigo’s murder. Luckily for Linda, she won’t have to do it alone. She is joined by George. George works as an archaeologist.

It was nice to see Linda again. I first met Linda in Scent of Oranges. Though, Linda is a reoccurring character and this series is based around her, The Elephant’s Footprint can be read as a stand alone novel. I absolutely love that these books are set in South Africa. Mrs. Zawatzky’s extensive knowledge of living in South Africa shows as I am instantly transport and it is like I can feel the dirt beneath my feet and the sun beating down on me.

It was nice to see Linda mature in this book. She and George made a nice couple. George is a sweetheart and a gentleman. What I like is that the romance was not overpowering and took away from the mystery and intrigue of the story. The resources that Linda uses to help her with her investigation are not always conventional but this is what makes this book new and intriguing. The Elephant’s Footprint is a trail filled with deception, mystery, and romance!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Edward and his brother Allard can remember their father telling them stories of Canada and the polar bears. He would talk for hours and they would go over a map. It got to be to the point that Ed and Allard decided that they could state from one frozen river to the next, until they made their way to Canada. On the day that Allard and Ed set out , they came upon a girl in trouble. The girl had fallen though the ice into the icy water. Ed and Allard saved her. The girl is named Sarah. From this day forward, the three were inseparable. Though, Sarah and Allard became just a little closer. Sarah even declared that one day she and Allard would marry. Every thing changed, one day, when a tragic event took place.

The World As We Know It is the first book I have read by Mr. Monninger. Wow. Wow. Wow. This book is breath-taking, glorious and a wonderful story of life, love, friends and family bonds. I started this book and literally a few hours later, I had finished it. Allard, Sarah and Ed were great. Of course, I also loved their parents as well. Mr. Monninger makes me want to stay in Baker River forever. This book is broken out into three parts. With each part adding to the story. The first section focuses on when Ed, Allard and Sarah all met and at this time they were just young teens. Also, at this time, Allard and Sarah experience teenage love which later progresses to more. I can always tell when I am emotionally invested in a character or the story line, when something tragic happens and I start to tear up. This book ended on a high note. The World As We Know It is a recommended read. I will be telling all my friends about this book, though they are going to have to get a copy for themselves as I am not sharing mine.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Reality Jane gives you a back stage pass to all the down and dirty gossip and work into creating a reality show.

Jane Kaufman went from being a journalist in Canada to being a producer for the hit reality show, The Purrfect Life with Lucy Lane. Don’t mistaken the title of this show to be about cats or kittens, unless you are interested in the sex kitten variety. Yep, Jane’s first role as a Hollywood producer is for a show about superficial, rich people and stuck up models. Jane’s first episode that features DJ, MC Toke (yeah I know but this is really the name he goes by). Even after this disastrous event, Jane still is willing to stick out all the catiness and give Hollywood another chance. Besides, how many people can say that they were a producer for a reality show?

I had mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, I liked the humorous banter but on the other hand I could not stand the fake characters and stereo typicalness. There was no one that I could really cheer for. At times it was Jane but not in the beginning. She was so naïve to the game that I wanted to shake her and tell her that she was so much smarter and better than the rest, so why did she care so much what the others thought and want to be their friends.

I have to give it up to Jane and Shannon as I don’t know if I could put up with being in this world for very long. Shannon has done it for years with shows like Peak Season for MTV (Supervising) and the CBC ratings winner The Week the Women Went, Bachelorettes in Alaska, Blow Out, and The Dr. Phil Show.

This book did make me glad that I am on the other side of the fence as a viewer and not staring in or producing a reality show. Reality Jane gives you a back stage pass to all the down and dirty gossip and work into creating a reality show.

If reality television hadn’t been invented, Shannon Nering wouldn’t know what to do for a living! Shannon’s a much-in-demand docu-reality producer and director, whose savant-like understanding of the genre, combined with her ability to create intimate bonds with her subjects, pays off in riveting television . . . and now riveting novels like Reality Jane.

Recent producer and director credits include Peak Season for MTV (Supervising) and the CBC ratings winner The Week the Women Went. She cut her reality chops in Los Angeles, producing on numerous shows from Bachelorettes in Alaska, to Blow Out, to The Dr. Phil Show. Shannon began her broadcast career as an on-air host and reporter for the CBC.

She currently lives in Vancouver, BC with her cameraman husband and two young sons.


Why did you decide to write a novel set in reality television rather than a book of non-fiction about reality TV?
I wanted the experience of getting to make stuff up. In my line of work, I’m limited to the non-fiction world―it’s REALITY TV, after all. My job, by its very definition, is about real life. And though the old adage “life is stranger than fiction” often rings true for me, it’s really liberating to be able to create a story that doesn’t have to live within true-life boundaries. For me, it almost felt like cheating. And then to write in a style―chick-lit―where there is license to be girly/silly/humorous/playful really was a joy.

One other reason: Some people may not take reality TV seriously, but when it’s your bottom-line and it pays your mortgage, you have to be serious about it. Writing Reality Jane helped bring the fun back for me and reminded me what I love (and hate) about this biz.

In writing for TV, what have you learned that you took over to novel writing? And what have you learned NOT to take over?
In TV land, we know that people can change the channel in a flash, so we write to create maximum impact. The style is bold, sensational, quippy, and fast. We also let the talent/subjects/cast tell the story, instead of narrating it. I definitely used this style in writing the book. It’s driven by dialogue, as are all the shows I’ve worked on. That said, writing Reality Jane allowed me to explore my voice and create a world that is familiar and yet chaotic and zany enough to provide real entertainment for the reader.

You work regularly in reality TV, both as a director and a producer. To what extent do you see this book as biting the hand that feeds you?
I don’t think I’m the first person to have a love-hate relationship with my job and career. And to this day, there are elements I really dislike about my work. But there is much to love―we meet amazing people; we’re often in a new location, sometimes daily; every day is truly different; and we constantly learn about life and people. It’s a creative job and it’s exciting. We’re so fortunate to work in “entertainment,” but it has a downside as well, and you can never take anything too personally. I don’t think I’m insulting anyone in this book or biting any hands; insiders know it’s a work of fiction. The book simply reveals that reality TV is a business like anything else, and it’s naïve to think or expect otherwise. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

I’ve heard of “publish or perish.” But, until reading Reality Jane, I’d never heard of “pitch or perish.” Same idea? Explain.
Very few people in our business have a “full-time” gig. We’re mostly freelancers, and we’re only as good as our last gig. Sometimes jobs last a week, sometimes six months, but rarely longer. A show can get pulled, cancelled, given to other prodcos [production companies], whatever. There is no security in our biz. So you’ve got to keep chucking spaghetti against the wall and hope something sticks. You’ve got to keep trying to sell shows to the networks.

It seems as if, until now, you’ve spent most of your working life in television. What draws you to it? What repels you?
I love the adventure and I love the people in the business. Producers, directors, TV-types are a very interesting bunch. They’re mostly A-types who have strong opinions and aren’t afraid to voice them, so there’s a lot of clashing behind the scenes. I like that. I don’t go for the corporate world; by comparison, it seems slow and boring, and there’s a lot of make-nice fakeness that you don’t get in the “no-shit” world of TV. It’s a fast world and my sneakers move faster than those of most others, so it suits me. Plus, my experience working with the cast of any given show is usually a kick! They’re really fascinating. They can also be petty, strange, difficult, lewd and boring, and that keeps it interesting too.

Could you work more if you didn’t have small children?
YES! Of course, that applies anywhere, but especially to TV. When you commit to being in the field, you are there for a 10-12 hour day and you have to shut your phone off (or at least to vibrate). No sneaking out to take a kid to the dentist for an hour—just not possible or acceptable.

Is there a “Canadian sensibility” to reality TV that is different from an American sensibility, or a European sensibility, or an Asian sensibility, and, if so, what is it?
Bottom line, American reality shows are more salacious. But Canadian reality shows are slowly but surely adopting this style. It’s what the people want. I remember trying to pitch a reality show about divorcees to a Canadian cable network and they didn’t believe that Canadian women could be as revealing, crazy, or wild as their American counterparts. I disagreed but couldn’t convince them. So it’s a top-down phenomenon as far as I can tell.

When I ask my Canadian friends what they like, they LOVE the American reality shows, and there’s nothing in Canada that compares. So we need to feed that if we want to keep it local, and I think that’s finally starting to happen.

As for off-continent: we’re always borrowing from other countries as they borrow from the U.S. Asians seem to love their off-the-wall goofball shows where things (or people) go kersplat. We’ve adopted that with Wipe Out, which is now a huge hit. And Europe has led the way from the get-go with clever, true-blue reality shows like Survivor and Big Brother and Missing Link, so we still look to them to be on top of the trends, while they scoop up American favorites like the Real Housewives franchise and talk shows.

To what extent is your novel’s main character, Jane Kaufman, really you?
Jane and I share a fierce ambitious streak and obviously the same career. But Jane is way more naïve than I ever was and she’s also more tolerant―she puts up with a lot of crap. I would have lost it a lot sooner than she does. Also, when it comes to men and dating, I was much more sure-footed.

Over the past decade, how has reality TV changed, for good or ill, and how are those changes reflected in your novel?
It’s grown tremendously and proven that it is here to stay. It’s expanded into soap-style TV with shows like The Hills and Real Housewives, while the anchors of the genre, like Survivor and Amazing Race and Bachelor, are still strong. It’s also provided ample fodder for a number of cable networks: HGTV, Food, etc. It’s constantly growing and morphing and we’re seeing more and more accomplished actors getting into the game―people are using it (or trying to use it) as a launching point for their careers. In Reality Jane, there’s the strange hybrid show Marry an Heiress and the opportunistic producers who create a wedding show spin-off from it. This happens and will continue to happen as long as producers create or find bankable characters. It’s all about the money and advertisers.

What do you hope readers get out of Reality Jane?
Entertainment, first. A reality check, second. I want people to recognize that their TV-movie icons―the people they so worship―are flawed just like the rest of us. I also want them to see that reality TV is a business―in fact, a big business―and in business, people sometimes do get crushed. The book shows us that first-hand. Watch your favorite reality show and enjoy it for what it is, but if you’re thinking about giving your “story” up for a reality show, I caution you: sometimes you benefit, sometimes you don’t. There are no guarantees, so be smart about it.

Also, we as producers get a lot of flack for working in what some people call a shmucky business. I want folks to see that there are many of us who have a strong moral compass and we operate within those boundaries. I think people should operate from their value systems. If someone asks you to compromise—whether you’re in TV, sales, law, medicine, home construction—stick to your guns. If not, you won’t be able to live with yourself. If Reality Jane can inspire people to stand up for what they believe in (as Jane did), then wow! Now it’s not just entertainment for you. You have a real and useful take-away.

Are you thinking about a sequel to Reality Jane?
Never say never. The content is certainly there.

If someone were to play Jane Kaufman in a movie, who would it be and why?
Kate Hudson because she’s not afraid to make an ass of herself, yet she can be taken seriously as an intelligent and capable woman with a goal to make a positive difference in the world―and that is Jane.

Do you see Reality Jane as a movie and, if so, why?
It’s got all the elements of a superb romantic comedy―great locations, beautiful people, a multi-layered protagonist with lofty aims, a complicated love triangle, heartbreak, evil bosses and colleagues, friendship dramas, universal life challenges and, of course, a happy ending.

As a first-time novelist, what did you learn about writing a novel?
It’s frickin’ hard and it takes a long time. It’s also hugely fulfilling, especially given the fact I never thought myself even remotely qualified.

You’ve written a novel that might well be categorized as chick-lit, a genre that some say is dead or dying. Is this chick-lit? Is the genre dead or dying? Who exactly is your audience?
Chick-lit is dying? Back the bus up! I find that hard to believe. In my world, that’s like saying rom-com has gone the way of the dodo bird. Not possible. I think anyone, man or woman, who is curious about TV and its inner-workings will like this book. That said, chicks will dig it, especially if they’re ambitious. It’s a smart chick-lit read with less fluff and silliness than the average chick-lit novel, but all the edge and salaciousness that contemporary audiences crave. It’s also got a strong and rather serious message, which gives it some real depth. To me, as a reader, I would find all that quite satisfying and enjoyable.

What books and authors do you read? Which do you admire? Which have had a noticeable influence on you?
I’m eclectic in my tastes in literature and just about everything else, and with two young kids and all my projects (and TV shows), my time is limited. That said, some of my favorite fictional reads include War and Peace, The Fountainhead, The Unbearable Lightness of Being (perhaps it’s clichéd but damn good just the same). My favorite chick-lit writer is Jennifer Weiner, who is a real inspiration. I also read a fair bit of non-fiction.

Among reality TV people, what’s been the reaction to this novel?
First, they all wonder where I found the time to write it. Second, they love it. It’s a bit of a mirror for an industry insider, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously, so most of my peers find it fun and humorous, and truly a nice break from reality.

Among smart people, is watching reality TV considered to be a guilty pleasure and, if so, why?

Yes, but this is changing too. People used to be embarrassed to admit it, and men still blame it on their wives, which is cute. But these days I don’t believe people when they say they don’t watch reality TV. I say, “Then you must not have access to cable!”

In Reality Jane, Jane Kaufman espouses a philosophy she attributes to her mother: “In life, shoot for the stars, but you, like most everyone else, may get only halfway there, and learn to live with that fact.” Is that your philosophy of life? And did it come from your mother?
My mom has given me a lot of guidance through my years and continues to―I will forever be grateful to her for that. I don’t remember where I first heard it, probably her, or maybe I made it up. But yes, I agree with that philosophy. It’s about NOT settling, it’s about trying, and it’s obviously about the journey. The destination is such a small part of it all, and it changes too. I love not knowing where I’m going to end up. I just know it’s going to be good! It’s how I’ve lived my life―try, reach, see where I end up, and enjoy the ride. It’s all good.

In Reality Jane, you suggest that crew for some reality TV shows, shooting on location for an extended period of time, tend to be on the randy side. True in real life?
I don’t think we are any more randy than a gang of executives in Vegas for a convention. But yes, any time you get a group of mostly single 20- and 30-somethings stuck in a hotel for a month, working their asses off, then blowing off steam with alcohol, stuff’s going to happen.

In the novel, Jane Kaufman yearns to live away from LA. True in your life, too, and, if so, why?
It’s a popular notion for those who live in LA to complain about living there. But truly, LA is a great place to live. It’s just so damn cool. It’s also got the worst traffic I’ve ever seen in my life. Complete grid-lock. I left LA to partially remove myself (and my family) from the uber rat-race, but I discovered the rat-race had followed me, so escape was a futile effort. And now I miss LA’s cool factor. Someday I may go back. I just hope they don’t run out of water!

What do reality TV participants get out of the experience? Best case? Worst case?
Best case: a $50 million boost to a fledgling business (Bethanny Frankel) or a few million dollars in cologne endorsements (The Situation)
Worst case: a severe hangover.

Seriously, like anything, it’s what you make of the experience. It can open many doors for you. Or, it can be devastating. It all depends on who you are as a person. Going on a show will show you who you really are.

In this book, do you do more dissing or dishing when it comes to reality TV?
Dishing. People love to dish and it’s why reality TV is so popular. It’s also why this book will be popular. As for dissing, nobody likes a hater. I don’t want anyone to get hurt. That’s never been my goal in anything I do.

How hard was it to get this book published?
To quote a favorite song lyric, it’s been “a long and windy road” but worth every step. I’m ever grateful to the people who have supported this process.