Archive for the ‘ Book Reviews ’ Category


The second novel from Michael Baron, CROSSING THE BRIDGE, tells the first person narrative story of Hugh, a young man whose younger and more popular and outgoing brother had died ten years earlier in what was deemed a drunk driving accident. Hugh’s father has had a heart attack, and Hugh, after wandering for many years since his brother’s death, has returned to his hometown to be with his parents during this difficult time and to help his father run the family stationery, gifts and card store. While in town, he runs into his brother’s girlfriend from years ago and the two strike up a friendship, renewed from their fleeting friendship and secret attraction to one another from the decade prior. This is billed as a romantic book, but the romance part of it is very small compared to the rest of the story, and I definitely wouldn’t have considered this to be a love story, as it is billed.

Hugh wanders and we, the readers, wander with him, as he makes observations about the town, his past, his life, the people in the town and the events happening with his father’s health and the employees at the store. Hugh makes observations—ones I can only say are completely off the mark and wholly inaccurate—so that I find myself thinking there is no single person in the world more clueless than Hugh. He misreads his mother, his father, his friend Iris… well, just about everyone. Now, if this had been the intent of the story, or if it had even been the story itself, this might have worked. As it was, Hugh comes off as a wholly unsympathetic narcissist, selfish and very shallow. I find myself very upset with him on several occasions, and had he been a real person, I would have taken him by the collar and shaken some sense into him.

In the first half of the book, I keep asking myself, “When is something going to happen?” We go through Hugh’s day, share his routine, but it’s more like a journal with his (inaccurate) observations on the town as he lives his life than it is a story. We spend agonizingly long days and then weeks and then months watching Hugh walk around and observe things and telling us about them. About halfway through the book, at a point where, if I had not been reading this for a review I probably would have given up on the book, we finally get to a story of some sorts. The conflict finally begins to reveal itself. The last few chapters of the book, when we discover that Hugh and Iris both have been attracted to each other for longer than they care to admit, when we learn that Chase (the dead brother/boyfriend) had secrets he kept and wasn’t the perfect image they have held him to be in their memories, and Hugh finally begins to unravel ten year’s worth of misunderstandings… those last chapters should have been the entire story, but expanded.

When I read the last chapters, from about page 200 forward (and there’s only a bit over 300 pages total), I said, “This is what the story should have been all along.” Unfortunately, once I arrived at that point, the author was already closing the story. We spend pages and chapters of agonizing back story and no plot or action to get to the part where there is finally story, and then the book is over. Very disappointing. What really stands out as most disappointing is the fact that there WAS a good story here, hidden in all the rambling observations; it just didn’t unfold like it should have.

Beyond the plodding story, the dialogue seemed unrealistic and slightly expositional in many places. The editing was not as aggressive as I feel it could have been, with rambling and tangents that a good developmental editor should have redlined. The old rule of: if it doesn’t make us feel something or further the plot, remove it—should have been followed here. Some of the chapters are in the present storyline and other chapters flip to the past, without any indication that it has done so, so that we don’t know until we see the dead brother still alive in the story that we’re in the past. This flip flopping present and past with no rhyme or reason makes for confusing reading. That, along with stock image cover art that I found used nearly identically on a small press book from a different publisher, and there was little to impress me about this particular book.

However, there was raw potential here. There was a good story behind all of this and Mr. Baron, had he sat with this story longer and really gotten to know these people in this particular story universe, I think could have done much better with this story and plot. I know he could have, because I saw the quality of writing and understanding and depth and empathy that was revealed in his first novel WHEN YOU WENT AWAY. Because of this, I still eagerly look forward to his future novels, of which I understand he has one set to release next month, even if I found myself disappointed in this one. I highly recommend the first novel by this author and hope his future novels continue and that CROSSING THE BRIDGE was simply a bit of an anomaly.


~~”Touching, tender and gentle, the moments between father and son in When You Went Away pull at the heartstrings and the tear ducts.”

Gerry is our unlikely hero in When You Went Away, a novel by Michael Baron, published by The Story Plant, a relatively new and different sort of publisher, operated by publishing industry veterans. I received an advanced reading copy of When You Went Away for review, and it appealed to me: I liked the cover, the concept of the novel from the blurb. Because of these two things, I bumped this book up in my review queue. Hey, even reviewers like to read for pleasure now and then.

I wasn’t disappointed with When You Went Away, either, so I was glad I bumped it up, but I will say it wasn’t exactly written as I expected it. First, the book is told in a near-memoir style, even though it’s a fiction novel, and the reader gets to go along with Gerry, our protagonist, on his journey of surviving after both his wife and daughter leave him—his wife through death, and his teen daughter through running away from home.

Left to raise a near-newborn son, alone, Gerry has to learn how to live again. He was young when he married, and had been married for the majority of his adult life, and now he’s a single father to Reese, the unplanned but much wanted child born just month prior to Maureen’s death.

Finding support in his sister in law–who looks remarkably like her sister, a fact Gerry finds both unsettling and comforting at different times–Gerry navigates grief, healing, guilt and redemption, all while trying to define what life without his wife will be and also seeking to understand his now almost adult runaway daughter and the reasons she left home so young.

The negatives to this book are few, but there are some. For example, the author, Michael Baron, either is a big Yankee’s baseball fan, or else he’s not one and he overcompensated by providing much too much detail that was unnecessary for the advancement of the story, about baseball and the Yankees.

Secondly, the story plods along at a steady, even pace, but it’s often too unemotional, factual, matter-of-fact. In other words, it’s a novel that is most likely a story that will appeal to women, but it was obviously written by and in the point of view of a man. This made it difficult for me, though not impossible, to connect on that emotional level with the characters.

The things I enjoyed the most in the book included something as simple as the unobtrusive references to gourmet food and cooking. I liked that Gerry enjoyed cooking. Just goes to show, women do, generally speaking, like a man who can cook well–as evidence by both Gerry’s wife and daughter’s love of his cooking and his new flame Ally’s pleasure in it as well.

Of all the characters, the one I enjoyed reading about the most was Reese, Gerry and the deceased Maureen’s infant son. Another stereotype in that women love a man who is tender and kind to children, particularly a man who loves his own children, is proved in my affection for Reese and the manner in which Gerry, through Michael Baron’s writing, talks about his son. Touching, tender and gentle, the moments between father and son in When You Went Away pull at the heartstrings and the tear ducts.

The reader never gets to meet Maureen while she is alive, but we learn a lot about her through Gerry’s thoughts and actions, as she informs many aspects of Gerry’s life, up to and including his thoughts and feelings about the woman he meets when he returns to work: Ally. Ally is, in many ways, everything that Maureen was not. Where Maureen was a mother and a wife, married young and had no other lovers prior to Gerry, Ally has had a varied love past, is a career woman, and we later learn, is unable to bear children. Even so, in the ways that matter most to Gerry, the two women share the most important qualities.

Ally helps Gerry feel again, though he questions his commitment to Maureen because he feels so much for Ally so soon after his wife has died. It’s those feelings that allow him to see and understand what his daughter might have been feeling when she left home as a teenager, to run away with her love of the moment, Mick.

I won’t give away the ending, because you’ll really want to read this one for yourself. I do want to mention, the ending slightly disappointed me, because it seemed to come too quickly, without enough full resolution. I guess that might be a good thing, in that it left me wondering what happened next, but I’m the type of reader who, if there’s not going to be a sequel, would prefer more closure.

Short of that, this approximately 360-page book by Michael Baron is an exceptional read, and one that makes me want to watch for more works by this author in the future.

~~”Michael Baron gives us likable characters in Gerry Rubato and his son Reese, with touching moments, emotion and a good story. This one is well worth adding to your reading list.”

When You Went Away, by Michael Baron is scheduled to be released on October 6, 2009.

(For permission to reprint this book review, at no cost, on your website or in your ezine or newsletter, please contact Michy at michy@twintrinitymedia.com or michelle@accentuateservices.com)


Morgan Leshay, a Georgia native, resides in the North Georgia mountains – with her husband, six kids, and a chihuahua named “Pocket”. When not otherwise engaged in generating new and exciting romance novel concepts she spends her time catching up mountains of housework neglected while writing!

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Okay, that just sounds stuffy, don’t it? Who am I really?

Most days, I’m just a mom, housewife, teacher, and a dreamer…maybe some of you can relate to that. 🙂 I’m a normal person just like anyone else, except my “bad hair days” are usually “atrocious hair days” and my schedule is a little backward to the rest of humanity. While the rest of the world around me sleeps, I work. When they are working, I sleep…about one level above dead, LOL.

Author Interview with Morgan Leshay

It’s rare today to find an author who does nothing but write for a living. Do you have a ‘real’ job other than writing, and if so, what is it? What are some other jobs you’ve had in your life?

Morgan Leshay: Nope, nothing but writing. A mom of six couldn’t possibly have time for anything else, right? Kidding. I do have time cause my kids are great, but I don’t have a job outside the home.

What compelled you to write your first book?

Morgan Leshay: I saw a vision. Seriously. I was sitting in the parking lot outside my local Walmart, and I saw this…woman…or angel…. It was a warm, early fall evening, and the wind was blowing leaves across the pavement, making that eerie whispering sound you hear and this … vision… pops into my mind. And I hear a name, just the echo of a whisper, really, in my mind. One word. Tian.

I went home and started writing. Three days later (about 72 hours), the story (first draft, yeah) was done.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Morgan Leshay: No. Well, if you count life after teen-agerdom as “always”, then the answer would be yes, but before then, I didn’t really think about it. Sure I wrote. Won awards for essays and such in school, but I didn’t consider myself a “writer” or think I was going to be a writer someday.

Then when I was 16-17 (and heavily hooked on reading romances) I decided, “Yeah. I’m gonna be a romance writer. I could write one of these in my sleep…and a lot better than some of them I’ve read lately, too!”

Scheah, right.

I then set about “learning the craft”.

Tell us a little bit about your book/s.

Morgan Leshay: My latest release is The Legacy Of Sleepy Hollow, and it tells the story of what happened in Washington Irving’s Sleepy Hollow 25 years after the Headless Horseman’s famous midnight ride. A new romantic twist on an old horror legend, The Legacy Of Sleepy Hollow is a tale of intrigue and suspense, yet at the same time, a journey to happily-ever-after for the lead characters Katherine Van Brunt and Icharus Crane.

Here’s the back blurb, so you know what the story’s about:

“…25 years after the Headless Horseman’s famous midnight ride…”

Katherine Van Brunt, daughter and only heir to the infamous Abraham “Brom Bones” Van Brunt and Katrina Van Tassel, brings back the dead and loses her heart to the son of her father’s nemesis in her quest to save the legacy of Baltus Van Tassel in…THE LEGACY OF SLEEPY HOLLOW.

To me, The Legacy Of Sleepy Hollow is a story of renewal, of growth and rebirth. I enjoyed writing it so much I cried when it was time to type “the end”.

My debut romance novel was called Redemption, and between the pages of that story, you’ll learn what happens when an angel meets the devil and is tempted to sin. I am proud of this story, as an author tends to be of “first books”, but I’m not so attached I don’t realize it could have been better. A lot better.

Are you currently working on any writing projects our readers should watch for release soon?

Morgan Leshay: I am in the planning phase of a new story, yes. But all I can say about it is that you should look for it around the holidays in 2009, and that I’ll be posting an announcement about it on my blog at http://www.morganleshay.com/musings in December 2008.

What type of music, if any, do you listen to while you write?

Morgan Leshay: Usually I listen to an eclectic mix of music, but while writing The Legacy of Sleepy Hollow, there was only one song I listened to and I listened to it repeatedly…so much so, I now call it the “theme song” for The Legacy of Sleepy Hollow, lol.

Which song inspired me so during the writing of The Legacy Of Sleepy Hollow? “Say My Name” by the gothic rock band Within Temptation (www.within-temptation.com). I must have played it a million bajillion times while writing The Legacy. I even included a special thanks to the band in my book!

How long did it take you to write your most recent (or first) book? When you started writing, did you think it would take that long (or short)?

Morgan Leshay: I wrote my first book (the first draft, lest anyone become overwhelmed) in 72 hours. I wrote my second book in about 120 hours (this was the final draft).

When I started writing the first book, I thought it would take longer…a lot longer. With the second, I was a bit lazy…not writing every day, so naturally it took longer. And of course there were a lot more words in the second book than there were in the first, so…

But this isn’t something everyone can necessarily do or even believe can be done. I frequently offer prayers of thanks that I can write so quickly.

Now, use this space to tell us more about who you. Anything else you want your readers to know?

I want to hear from you! Seriously, waiting for reader response to The Legacy Of Sleepy Hollow has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my writing career to date. Stop by my blog at http://www.morganleshay.com/musings and let me know what you think of the story.

Oh, where can you get it? Right now, one of two places:

Amazon.com

Or…

LBF Books

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Michy’s note: I contracted with the publisher to work with Morgan Leshay on her first romance novel, REDEMPTION. I was honored to get to contract with her new publisher to work with her again on The Legacy of Sleepy Hollow. We had a blast editing this novel together. I always enjoy Ms. Leshay’s work. I highly recommend picking this one up, but will admit to being a tad biased, because I enjoyed working on it so much. I will have my official review of this book up soon.

If you’d like to see what a few others are saying about The Legacy of Sleepy Hollow, by Morgan Leshay, on my writers forum, you can visit this thread.

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“Dear God, Let Me Lose Fat, Amen”

by Dr. J. R. Paine, D.Sc. & Dr. S. N. Gupta, Ph.D.

Excerpt:

Dear God, Let Me Lose Fat, Amen holds every dieter’s hand and walks them through their inner body, introduces them to their stomach, cells, tissue, heart and other vital organs. The E-School provides 24/7 personal trainer 24/7 pinups. All dieters and non-dieters can avail themselves of instant help when they get the urge to splurge.

The vast community of dieters should seek the advice and consent of their own personal physician for their special and specific health needs before they decide to diet or not to diet.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW:

It’s rare today to find an author who does nothing but write for a living. Do you have a ‘real’ job other than writing, and if so, what is it? What are some other jobs you’ve had in your life?

Prior to retirement, one of the authors’ “real” job was Distinguished Professor of Physics in Michigan and the other a free-lance journalist and political leader.

What compelled you to write your first book?

The out-of-control Obesity Pandemic that we see as a far greater imminent threat to our safety and survival as a people than global warming,

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

We have always believed that the pen is mightier than the sword. Yes, writing is one of the joys of our lives.

Tell us a little bit about your book/s.

One of our books is titled “Dear God, Let Me Lose Fat, Amen”. It looks like a book but works like a 4-year college course so artfully condensed and simplified that everyone between the ages of 16 to 106 can not only understand each and every word but become an expert in how the internal mechanics of the human machine and brain.

We knew from our extensive research that the human brain forms a million new connections for every second of our lives. It is in these changing connections that memories are stored, habits learned and personalities shaped. By reinforcing certain patterns of brain activity like desire for survival, health, vigor and vitality, and losing the craving for nutrient-poor, killer calorie-rich, high-fat, high-sugar and high-salt fatty FAST DELIVERY, FAST FOODS and fluids with FAST DELIVERY, FAST FACT knowledge nutrition for the brain, the obesity nightmare could be ended. The hands of the death clock that took the life of one American every 2 minutes could be slowed and finally stopped.

The billion dollar question for usto answer was “How did we get into such a severe health and obesity crisis and how do we get out of it?” The answer is: (a) For 5 decades, we have had 100% easy access to FAST FOODS and (b) ZERO, ZIP access to FAST KNOWLEDGE! To remedy this situation, we Innovated a 21st Century Zero Obesity System in our book “Dear God, Let Me Lose Fat, Amen”.

Our 2nd book, soon to be available on www.amazon.com is titled “Health Super Spa In a Book”. It in, we zoom our Zero Obesity System to the highest point in self-serve universal health care, indeed into the stratosphere!

Are you currently working on any writing projects our readers should watch for release soon?

Yes, indeed. We are creating an AUTO-SLIM HOME HEALTH HUB such that Families all over America and all around the world can avail themselves of 24/7/365 Virtual Health and Zero Obesity Info-Therapists, Nutritional Bodygurads, Tutors, Personal Trainers and much more.

What about your family? Do you have children, married, siblings, parents? Has your family been supportive of your writing?

Yes, the co-authors are married to each other! They work as a husband/wife team. We have a son and a daughter. Our Son, Paul R. Gupta, Esq., a Harvard Law School graduate, as a senior partner in a New York Law Firm. Our Daughter, Dr. R. K. Brylinski, a Ph.D. from M.I.T. is the CEO of her own company, Brylinski Science.

Location and life experience can sprinkle their influence in your writing. Tell us about where you grew up and a little about where you live now.

We grew up in India, Ireland and Great Britain. We currently live in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, a suburb in Oakland County. If we could live anywhere, we would like to live for a few years on the planet Venus!

What is your main goal or purpose you would like to see accomplished by your writing?

If we could, we would want everyone to understand that when we lose our health, we lose the universe. We try hard to coax and entice everyone into making good health and zero obesity a habit, a hobby and definitely not a hassle.

Now, use this space to tell us more about who you. Anything you want your readers to know?

We are scientists, educators, researchers, health scientists and world travelers. More personal information about us is available in:

  • Who’s Who In America
  • Who’s Who in the World
  • Who’s Who in Science and Industry
Please visit our blog at www.deargoddiet.wordpress.com

“Dear God, Let Me Lose Fat, Amen” is available at www.amazon.com.

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Amir Makin

A Worthy Muslim
www.unworthymuslim.com

Amir Makin found Al Islam on an unexpected yet fruitful journey to Africa. Having always been intrigued with issues of the oppressed masses, he quickly learned how this way of life directed all to defend and protect the indigent from tyranny while preserving the dignity of the dispossessed. Since that time, he has instilled in himself and advanced the type of analysis that leads to positive change throughout society. He has since immersed himself in the study of developing solutions to communities most disaffected. He regularly gives lectures and seminars on manhood training and development, and different areas in need of social justice. In the seminars, he explains how to use the tools he has developed to achieve positive results related to these issues. He routinely authors documents about facts on Sunni Muslims and internalized oppression.

What compelled you to write your first book?

Amir Makin: First let me thank you for the opportunity to share this information with your readers.

I initially got the idea when I began to notice a lack of concern among some but not all within the Muslim community to be committed to work for socioeconomic and political improvement let alone independence with the same intensity as they would use to look for a job. I began to realize that they had problems seeing a connection between Middle East or Iraq or Africa, terrorism and how it relates to our condition here at home. Partly as a result of this, I noticed that several people were getting the impression that Muslims were not supposed to get involved in social, political and economic development. Some Muslims are so ritualistic meaning that they may perform certain acts mandated by Al Islam out of habit without attempting to understand the larger reason for doing such. With this in mind, I asked can all of this be addressed and motivate people toward wanting to understand the accurate facts on Sunni Muslims also? Hopefully once the book is read, we will be one step closer to that goal.

Are you currently working on any writing projects our readers should watch for release soon?

Amir Makin: I plan to release 3 additional titles in 2009 to address family issues, leadership/manhood training and development for leadership of one’s community and reducing the recidivism rate of former convicts, so I’m extremely busy. Additionally, I write about some of the internal issues among Muslims that need to be addressed while also covering areas concerning colonialism and oppression throughout the world. I plan to post the links to all interviews, book tour sites and seminars on my blog as they happen.

How did you feel the day you held the copy of your first book in your hands?

Amir Makin: I thought finally my labor of love has paid off. All of these exhaustive months of research editing, proofreading and re-editing had come to a culmination. Lying awake at night worrying about how best to phrase this or that sentence so it can’t be misconstrued were finally over. After this passed, then I got concerned because it needed to be reviewed at that time. This gave me additional worries. However, good things come to those who wait in patience. True enough the early Amazon reviews were all positive. Understandably, I had a roller coaster of emotions.

What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?

Amir Makin: What motivates me the most is when I see certain acts of injustice ignored out of some false sense of perverted loyalty to the same. Whether it is innocent people falsely imprisoned, impoverished children being abused or worse, or an entire nation being cheated out of its God given right to maintain and assert its independence, these are the issues that really get my attention, mostly because they are usually left out of mainstream media coverage. I feel it is my duty to do as much as I can to either help correct these wrongs or bring as much attention to them as possible.

When growing up, did you have a favorite author, book series, or book?

Amir Makin: This will shock some people, but my favorite author when I was very young was Kenneth Robeson. He wrote the Doc Savage book series and his sense of character development and scene description was some of the most memorable I’ve read.

What about now: who is your favorite author and what is your favorite genre to read?

Amir Makin: As I began to get away from fiction, I started taking an interest in nonfiction books related to the struggles of the dispossessed. The Autobiography of Malcolm X is one of my favorite books in this genre. I also like the books by Nelson Mandela, Randall Robinson along with Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man.

What is your main goal or purpose you would like to see accomplished by your writing?

Amir Makin: What would make me the happiest is to see people take my literature, expound on it, grow from it and be able to transform as many negative scenarios they can into positive situations that have exchanged injustice for justice.

Do you have any book signings, tours or special events planned to promote your book that readers might be interested in attending? If so, when and where?

Amir Makin: Yes I do. On September 15, I’ll be writing guest commentaries on The Book Connection, Scribe Vibe on September 16, interviews for Blogcritics on September 18, Paperback Writer on September 19, Zensanity on September 23 and another guest commentary for Book Marketing Buzz on September 22. I’ll be posting all of these on my blog if readers miss the actual dates themselves.

Now, use this space to tell us more about who you. Anything you want your readers to know?

First because it is Ramadan (month of fasting) I’m currently having a book giveaway contest which will conclude at the end of the month. I’ve also started an open poll concerning different perspectives of Al Islam that I’m encouraging all readers to participate in before the poll closes at the end of the year. All of this information can be found on my blog which is http://aworthymuslimovercomes.blogspot.com

Additionally, A Worthy Muslim: Quranic Tools Needed to Overcome Oppression and Imperialism in Order to Institute Justice can be purchased either from my publisher’s site which is http://www.aicpublications.com/featuredbook.html or Amazon

Thank you for the time shared.

Billy Killdeere (2nd edition)
by Lee Aaron Wilson

Genre: Western Romantic Historical Fiction
Demographic: Adults
Release Date: 2/25/08
Publisher: Treble Heart Books

ISBN: 978-1-932695-670
Price: $13.50
Author URL: www.leebaldwinonline.com
Publisher URL: www.trebleheartbooks.com

# Pages: 267
Photographs: None
Index: No
Bibliography: No
Bindery: Perfect-bound Paperback

AUTHOR BIO: Lee Aaron Wilson


Lee Aaron Wilson comes from a long line of storytellers who went West as guides, scouts, lawmen and outlaws after the Civil War. After many years as a Criminal Psychologist, Lee settled down to write in Arizona. Billy Killdeere is his third book.

Visit Lee at: www.leebaldwinonline.com

Billy Killdeere
by
Lee Aaron Wilson

Is he just another man or just another outlaw?

Billy Killdeere left the outlaw life to operate the family ranch, but the murderous exploits of the Killdeere Gang find him on the run again. Wounded and alone, with his family, former friends and the law after him, he discovers Jenny.

At first Jenny distrusts Billy, but her feelings for him gradually change. Given his outlaw past Billy knows he can’t marry her, but he takes off his gun and tries to be just another man.

Then one day his Uncle Moses finds him. Moses holds Jenny prisoner, forcing Billy to ride with the Killdeere Gang on a big job. The Gang blames Billy when the job goes awry and they vow to take revenge on Jenny. Billy is left alone on the trail with no horse or gun, with Jenny in danger, and the posse bearing down. It will take all his skill as an outlaw and gunfighter to reckon with his uncle, rescue Jenny, and save himself.

“Billy Killdeere will keep you turning pages. Against the wishes of his family and to the disbelief of the law, he tries to leave the outlaw life. Billy quickly learns that riding the other side of the fence can be as tough as playing poker against a stacked deck.” ~~Douglas Sharp, Publisher, Western Digest


Read and Learn More about Lee Aaron Wilson & Billy Killdeere:

During the month of September, Lee Aaron Wilson will be taking a virtual online book tour, promoting his latest release in the Killdeere Clan books. If interested in learning more about the author Lee Aaron Wilson or his book, Billy Killdeere, you can find more at the follow online locations on the dates listed.

8/25 Rope & Wire
8/28 Books & Writers
9/1 Coffee Time Romance Blog
9/2 Michy’s Book Reviews Blog (Hey! That’s me!)
9/3 A Book Inside Blog
9/3 – 9/4 Romance Reviews Today Blog
9/5 PR.com
9/8 – 9/22 Library Thing
9/9 The Books Stacks
9/13 – 9/14 Petticoats & Pistols
9/18 Talk About My Favorite Authors
9/20 Southern Sunshine
9/22 Fallen Angel Reviews Blog
9/23 Associated Content, CP Rachel Boehm
9/24 Fresh Fiction

Excerpt from
Billy Killdeere by Lee Aaron Wilson
(Treble Heart Books, 2008)

From Chapter 13:
“The New Billy”

Out in the yard, the drivers started yelling their teams into motion. Not long now. “Jade, stand with your back to the door, facing me.”

My coat covered one gun, I held the other. Footsteps. The door started to open and Carter Desledge said, “My turn yet? What…?”

He looked at Rachel, clothed and conscious. His expression said he’d expected her to be stripped and prone. Jade had lied. He dropped. Desledge drew and fired. Afraid he’d try for Rachel, I shot too quick. I saw the tug at the side of his vest.

Desledge yelped, backed out, and jerked the door shut. I shot through it, twice. We heard the sound of pounding feet on the board porch. He was in the saddle and headed out the gate when I stuck my head outside. I turned back quickly. Jade lunged to his feet and grabbed for the girl, and got claws in his face for his trouble.

Before he could get control, I laid a gun barrel on the back of his head. That took him out of action again. Rachel pounded him about the face a few more times, for good measure. She was mad clear through.

“He was going to assault me. And they were going to kill me.” She stopped. “What can you do?”

“We’ll play it by the book.” I told her. “I don’t look like they expect Billy Killdeere to look, and generally don’t act like they expect him to act. We’ll go to the law.”

“I guess that’s the right thing to do.” Rachel, still scowling, said, “but I’d rather you just shot them all.”

Inside, I couldn’t argue with her, but this was the new me. I had to go by the book.

The freight wagons had cleared the yard. The man who’d been unconscious in the driveway was sitting up, but hurting. Several men came to the door. Olaf came on in. He looked angry when he entered. He saw Carl lying there bloody and unconscious. “What we do, Boss?”

“Get a spring wagon and throw a mattress in it. Carl Bartlett was shot, and that man has a head injury. Tie up this S.O.B., real good. I’m taking all three in the wagon. The injured two to the doctor, Jade I’ll turn over to the sheriff. We’ll see what he can do.”

“What else?” The mill hands crowding the door were angry. This was their mill and they’d been robbed. “We gotta do something!”

“You post guards, so it can’t happen again. You all tell the sheriff exactly what you heard and saw.”

Their faces were angry. “That’s all? We aren’t going after them?”

One of the guns I’d taken from Jade was still in my belt. I stuck the second in beside it and dropped my hands to my sides. “What do you want to do? Hang Jade? Go outside the law? You all know I’ve got another name and I can use a gun. Do you know there’s five thousand dollars on my head, dead or alive? Do any of you want that? I love Jenny, but I can’t ask her to marry me. Do you want that kind of thing on your shoulders?”

Olaf stared at me for a whole minute, then turned to the hand nearest him. “You heard the boss, get a wagon. Fred,” he pointed at another man, “you were a sailor. Practice your knots on that man the boss and Miss Rachel took. Move. Scotty, help Thompson, he’s hurting.”

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Paul Kiritsis Bio:

I was born in Melbourne, Australia to Greek migrants in 1979 and together with my younger brother who is five years my junior, was reared in a somewhat overprotective environment by my grandmother since both my parents worked full time. I quite freely admit I was spoilt from a young age as there was nothing my parents wouldn’t do to satisfy my young ego. If you’re remotely familiar with Greek culture and Greek migrants in particular, this type of red carpet treatment is quite common if not painstakingly regular. Greek parents exist for their children. ‘Everything we do we do for you,’ is something my ears have heard innumerable times over. In their eyes, their dreams are exalted when you succeed in becoming a valuable and successful citizen of society. (Many, if not most traditional Greek parents equate success with the faculties of law or medicine. None other will do.) Despite our differences over the years, and believe me there have been many, I couldn’t possibly fathom my life without them. They have definitely had a hand in shaping me as a person and in turn I have successfully managed to extirpate some of their backwardness and pave the way for their thinking outside of the square. (I’ve given myself a pat on the back for this on many occasions!) You might also say they are my backbone; my Djed Pillar, as the ancient Egyptians would have commended. For me, they are eternal symbols of stability and indestructibility.

As a preschooler, I had much difficulty communicating with my fellow peers and teachers because my knowledge of the English language was very limited. I only spoke Greek at home although in time this wrong was righted. By the time I reached second grade, I was competently bilingual. In 1988, my parents decided to move me from Keon Park Primary School in Reservoir to St Johns Greek Orthodox College in Preston, a school known by the Greeks of Australia for its strong cultural and religions ties to the motherland. It was a decision that was fuelled by the influence of my aunty – my dad’s sister – whose children had been attending the institution since preps. I completed my VCE (HSC) and graduated from St John’s in 1997, going on to complete degrees in Behavioral Science and Professional Writing at Latrobe University. I used to think that the biggest mistake of my young life was studying a field (psychology) in which I had no invested academic or emotional interest. That half the course was based on statistics, a subject that never failed to evoke endless yawns from a lecture room full of students, didn’t help either. In hindsight studying psychology was probably a necessary precursor in my voyage of discovery and it was many years before I rediscovered the sparks in which I had excelled at in high school; Classics and English literature. I am indefinitely a man of the arts rather than of the sciences.

As a person, I am both easy-going and down-to-earth. There are no surprise packages here. What you see is what you get. (I’m not one who turns out to possess a dark secret, double life or works under false pretenses.) I am lively, fun-loving and even goofy and aloof at times. I adhere to a high standard of personal morals and ethics and expect the people I associate with to do the same. I respect and honor those who return the favor but above all, respect and honor themselves. I am empathetic and compassionate; something which I feel is evident in the line of work I choose to be involved with. (I work for Drug Safety Services in Collingwood and help injecting drug users get onto methadone/buprenorphine programs and access community services which are otherwise reserved for the mainstream community.) My interests are wide and varied, encompassing physical activities like thrill seeking, diving, playing sports, working out and biking that are balanced by my critical inquiry into world mythology, world religions (both east and west) including early Christianity, Neo-Platonism, Gnosticism, Hinduism and Buddhism, history and archeology (both mainstream and alternative), English literature and ironically, Jungian psychology. I also love occult studies and have spent much money on acquiring books on magic and reincarnation. Just like the ancient Greeks, I wholeheartedly believe in concurrent training of both body and mind to achieve a state of balance and wellbeing. In the last five years or so, I have also succumbed to the seduction of travel, an interest which has fuelled a treasure trove of experience and has spurred me on to write about them creatively. I have penned many destinations around the world: America, Europe, and Africa, and have traveled extensively within Australia. I plan to travel to French Polynesia in November and Borneo early next year for what promises to be an awe-inspiring jungle adventure.

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It’s rare today to find an author who does nothing but write for a living. Do you have a ‘real’ job other than writing, and if so, what is it? What are some other jobs you’ve had in your life?

Paul Kiritsis: Yes I do! I work for drug safety services in Melbourne’s inner city region. We offer primary health care services for injecting drug users who more often than not, are a marginalized minority of our society. These include medical and dental services, counseling, allied health, family support and pharmacotherapy. For accommodation and legal services we refer elsewhere. I have learnt so much working there and have seen things others wouldn’t see in a lifetime of traversing the city streets. What’s certain is that I will never take anything for granted ever again! I have been involved in pharmacotherapy for five years now. Before that I was working as a barman and waiter in some well known inner city cafes.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Paul Kiritsis: I’ve always known that I would eventually end up writing. When I was a teenager I was captivated by the flamboyant lifestyle of the journalist and pursued it until the time of my graduation when I realized that it was all that movies and books made it out to be minus the glamour part. I wasn’t too enthused about working under a huge amount of pressure with the added stress of strict deadlines either. I’m hopeless with deadlines and appointments in general. I’m never on time.

Tell us a little bit about your book/s.

Paul Kiritsis: I’ve released two so far. The first is a poetry collection titled Origin: Poems from the crack of dawn (2006) and the other is a literary collection called Hermetica: Myths, Legends, Poems. (2007) Both are united by my love of ancient wisdom. Origin is probably the more generalized work of the two, dealing with aspects of life like love, friendship, hate, wisdom and greed. There is also much on religion, philosophy and mythology. Hermetica goes a step further and hones in on Egyptian mythology, Hermetics and esoteric knowledge that Egyptian culture was famed for. It culminates with seven stories written in verse prose that work to form bonds with known Egyptian myths and are a testament to the power of ancient folklore. All of them are original; they can be found nowhere else.

Are you currently working on any writing projects our readers should watch for release soon?

Paul Kiritsis: Yes I am. I’m working on a book called Fifty Confessions which will be out by January. It is my most personal work to date; not to mention my most confessional. I am really looking forward to releasing it. It is a huge shift from my other two books – raw and visceral prose. I am also working on a non-fiction autobiography/memoir titled Shades of Aphrodite which relates to my travels through Greece, a country I regard my second home. I have an intimate connection with the Hellenic land and try to provide insights into the psyche of a culture that is not to be found in any other textbook. That will be out after Fifty Confessions.

Have you ever won any writing awards? If so, what?

Paul Kiritsis: Yes, I won a literary award for Hermetica: Myths, Legends, Poems with Reader Views. I came first in the categories of fictional poetry and best Australian book.

How did you feel the day you held the copy of your first book in your hands?

Paul Kiritsis: It’s really weird seeing your name on the cover of a book for the first time. My first reaction must have been, ‘Wow, I’ve done it!’ What I take great pleasure and comfort in is that a few centuries from now, my books will have hopefully survived in libraries or personal bookshelves for others to read. The act of opening up a book and reading its contents in a way reinvigorates the psyche of the person who wrote it. The ancient Egyptians believed that you caused one to live again merely by reading out their name aloud. Indeed, the pen is mightier than the sword. I take great comfort in this.

What type of music, if any, do you listen to while you write?

Paul Kiritsis: I write in complete silence. Music, television or radio is just too distracting for me. Some people can do it but I can’t. I’ve tried to write with classical and relaxation music before; it’s only worked the few times that I was in a zone. And that was with poetry; not prose. On other nights I found that it would just put me to sleep.

What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?

Paul Kiritsis: The colorful past and my adopted spiritual mother; Egypt.

When growing up, did you have a favorite author, book series, or book?

Paul Kiritsis: Yes I did. I liked reading a lot of fiction when I was a teenager. I would absolutely love getting lost in the pages of Dean Koontz and Richard Laymon novels. I’ve read most of Dean’s work and all of Richard’s. My favourite from each was Phantoms and Funland, respectively. I think Funland was shortlisted for the Bam Stoker Award. I know he actually won the award in 2001 with the Traveling Vampire Show. Dean and Richard have inspired me beyond comprehension.

What about now: who is your favorite author and what is your favorite genre to read?

Paul Kiritsis: I don’t really have a favorite author now. There are many great books around. I try to read works from all areas of literature: fiction, non-fiction and poetry. I am mainly interested in non-fiction/spiritualism and occult works at the moment. The last book I read was Mister. B. Gone by Clive Barker. I read it all in one go. Very interesting book I might add.

Hey, let’s get morbid. When they write your obituary, what do you hope they will say about your book/s and writing? What do you hope they will say about you?

Paul Kiritsis: Good one! Um…I want them to say that I was very passionate and dedicated in the areas I chose to study and write about. I also want them to say that I gained recognition and fame and picked up a few awards on the way, but for that I suppose only time will tell…

Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting, handwriting?

Paul Kiritsis: Well, I live in a house built on a hill overlooking a golf course. It was designed and built by my parents and is a testament to open-style living. There aren’t many walls or rooms in the house and there are many windows which makes it well lighted. My glass writing desk sits in the lounge room and overlooks a spectacular view of the golf course and the surrounding Melbourne hinterland. There isn’t much spare room on my desk as it’s usually clogged up by books that are stacked one on top of the other in messy piles, my laptop, a lamp, an incense burner, pens, notebooks and other research materials. I love burning incense or oils when I write. It’s so relaxing and never fails to induce a copious amount of inspiration.

Is there anyone you’d like to specifically acknowledge who has inspired, motivated, encouraged or supported your writing?

Paul Kiritsis: Yes, there is. My mother and father, Christos and Chryssoula, for their unyielding support and my cousin, Harry Toulacis, for the inspirational chats and all the hours he spent reading and re-reading my work and offering his constructive criticism. I thank them all with requited love.

Is there any one particular book that when you read it, you thought to yourself, “Man, I wish I’d written that one!”?

Paul Kiritsis: Yes! The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown…I think everybody wishes they’d written that. Look where it got him.

What is your main goal or purpose you would like to see accomplished by your writing?

Paul Kiritsis: My primary purpose is to gain acknowledgement and credit in the fields I choose to write in. The other is to meet somebody one day who tells me, ‘I read one of your books and it inspired me so much that I wrote one of my own.’ That would be a reward unto itself, making my endeavors all that much more worthwhile.

Is there any lesson or moral you hope your story might reveal to those who read it?

Paul Kiritsis: Hermetica: Myths, Legends, Poems is a real-life compendium of morals and lessons. Each literary piece weaves its own tale and brims with meaning and life lessons which are there to be comprehended by those whom possess a keen mindset.

Now that you are a published author, does it feel differently than what you had imagined?

Paul Kiritsis: You want the honest truth? No. I always imagined that I wouldn’t change, no matter what came about in my life. In actual fact, I don’t feel any different to what I did before I was published. I am still the same person with the same personality traits, weaknesses, emotions, fallacies, hopes, aspirations and dreams.

Now, use this space to tell us more about who you are. Anything you want your readers to know?
Well I am of Greek origin if you haven’t already guessed. My parents migrated to Australia in 1978 and I was born and bred in Australia. I am bilingual; I speak, read and write Greek. I have traveled extensively within Australia, America, Europe and have touched on Africa. I am an open-water diver – a true Cancerian with a love for the ocean and water in general, despite the fact I nearly drowned swimming around the Santorini caldera in the European summer of 2003. I love keeping fit and body sculpting – I am a fitness instructor. I have been tutored in the language of music; I can play the piano and organ and have to my credit a fourth grade certification in musical practice and theory (ANZCA). I love stimulating conversation on world religions, philosophy, mythology, ancient history and the occult, and love being challenged by people who are interested in the same areas of inquiry. I am also a lover of controversy; I’ve been branded outrageous on many occasions. I am an all-or-nothing person; a man of extremes. I love my thrill seeking and adventure. I consider writing to be an extension of me.

If you would like to know more about me, please do not hesitate to visit my website at www.paulkiritsis.com or send me an e-mail. There is a plethora of material on my website: reviews, sound clips of me reciting some of my favorite poems, commentaries, interviews that I’ve done, analyses of some of my work, a short autobiography and a section on upcoming releases. My books can be purchased either through my website or through Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and iUniverse.com. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any queries.

Cheers folks!

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When I picked up the book by Charlie Hills, Why Your Last Diet Failed You, I thought, Great, yet another book on dieting. Then I read the subtitle of the book: “And How This Book Won’t Help You on Your Next One”. My thought on that was, Huh, well, at least he’s honest.

The reason I wanted to read this book wasn’t because it was yet another book on dieting, but rather because of the humor displayed on the cover. In a world where authors try hard to impress their readers with their accolades, Charlie Hills bills himself on the front cover of Why Your Last Diet Failed You as, “Author of Two Other Books You’ve Never Heard Of”, while the back cover touts, “Combined praise from eight of the author’s relatives.”

Not only did I find the cover of Why Your Last Diet Failed You amusing, but I also found it honest, and that’s what you’re going to find inside the book. That is, essentially, what the very foundation of this book, yet another book on dieting, is all about: honesty, with a dash of humor, and it’s calorie free.

One thing that stood out when reading the book is that Mr. Hills makes it clear upfront his isn’t a miraculous weight loss story. He’s never weighed 400 pounds, had a near death experience, or any of the other amazing and heartwarming stories we see in late night infomercials from people with whom we cannot relate. Instead, he’s just a normal American human being, who, like the majority of Americans, has been battling the bulge and the “trampoline” weight loss and gain, and he found himself loosing the war.

Mr. Hills documents his own ups and downs, valleys and peaks, while also tackling many of the common diets on the market today, all of which he highly recommends. The point he makes is that any diet when used properly as a tool in weight loss and maintenance, is going to be as successful as you make it. Mr. Hills reiterates what we all know: the only way to successfully loose weight and keep it off is to eat less and healthier and move more. It’s not really rocket science, and he doesn’t really tell us anything that we don’t on some level already know, but he makes it clear from the beginning he isn’t going to do so.

Unlike many of the popular diet plan books, you won’t find a lot of science and facts and figures here, although behind Why Your Last Diet Failed You there is plenty of evidence, research and facts. The difference here is the personal anecdotes, the humor and the human struggle that let’s you share the journey with the author. On the downside, sometimes I felt Mr. Hills’ spent too much time sharing is own personal journey, so that it read in places more like a personal journal than I had expected. On the upside, I enjoyed the book as a whole, and there were places in the book where I myself nodded my head in a knowing manner and other places where I literally laughed at loud.

If you’re looking for a book that is going to provide you some sort of magic weight loss formula, Charlie Hills’ 210-page, glossy cover, perfect bound paperback from Lockshire Press isn’t going to do it. If, however, you’re serious about losing weight, keeping it off, and laughing with Mr. Hills and at yourself a little bit along the way, this book can make the journey funnier, while letting you know you’re not alone in your experiences.

Pros: Humorous, realistic, practical… this book will make you laugh, might even motivate you to lose weight, and even if it doesn’t, provides enough entertainment value to make it worth the read.

Con: The book is a bit pricey with a retail listing of US $22.95, and an Amazon.com listing of $14.95.

Charlie, I assure you, if I ever find the secret crispy pepperoni pizza weight loss diet, you will be the first person I call. I truly enjoyed Why Your Last Diet Failed You, by Charlie Hills, but then my results might not be typical! (You’ll have to read the book to understand that one.)

To read Michelle Devon’s interview with Charlie Hills, author of Why Your Last Diet Failed You, click here.


Today, we once again welcome our guest blogger, Jennifer Walker, to share one of her book reviews. Be sure to stop by Jenn’s site and say hello!

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Book Review: Still Life with Elephant, by Judy Reene Singer
By Jennifer Walker

Still Life with Elephant is Judy Reene Singer’s second book, and after reading Horseplay, I had to run out and buy it as soon as it came out. Ms. Singer has a witty and lively writing style that makes me want to read everything she writes—I’d settle for shopping lists at this point!

Still Life with Elephant is a slight departure in style from her first book in that it has a much more somber tone. Neelie Sterling recently learned that her husband, Matt, is going to be a father—with another woman. Now, she is struggling to pay the bills and mend her heart by throwing herself into her horse training business. When she learns her wandering husband is headed to Zimbabwe to rescue an elephant, she decides to go along in hopes of also rescuing her failed marriage.

Ms. Singer takes the reader on an exciting ride to Africa to obtain said elephant, but the story doesn’t end there. Once the elephant is home, Neelie must tame her so she can become a safe member of the animal sanctuary where she now lives. Meanwhile, her relationship with Matt and the sanctuary’s benefactor become more complicated.

The introspective nature of Still Life with Elephant touched me deeply. My heart ached right along with Neelie’s, and I felt as though I was a part of her successes. I related to her hearing problem (or is it more of a listening problem?), because I often do the same thing. Neelie is incredibly real, with real-life problems—even though those problems come in a package most of us are not familiar with. Many of us have struggled with warring emotions and major life changes, and Ms. Singer presents them very poignantly. Neelie is likable, someone I could imagine having as a friend, and I missed her as soon as the book was over.

Although the overall theme of the books is somber, there are some light moments where Ms. Singer injects her delightful sense of humor. There are some wonderful interactions between the characters and enough lightness to keep the book from being depressing.

Still Life with Elephant is a journey. Neelie travels many miles, and in the end she not only rescues her elephant, but herself. She enters a new era of her life, leaving behind many of the trappings of the old one. I greatly enjoyed taking the journey with her and felt as though I’d changed a little myself by the time it was over. I highly recommend it, along with Judy Reene Singer’s first book, Horseplay.

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Today, Jennifer Walker is going to be our guest blogger, with her short review of the book by Meg Cabot entitled: Size 12 is Not Fat: A Heather Wells Mystery. Ms. Cabot’s book has received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and has an excellent sales ranking on Amazon, with an average customer review of four stars and shows 74 current reviews. This 368 page, perfect bound paperback book has a suggested retail price of $12.95.

Thanks for guesting with us, Jennifer – Hope you’ll come back for more!

Love and stuff,
Michy

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Book Review:
Size 12 is Not Fat: A Heather Wells Mystery, by Meg Cabot
As reviewed by Jennifer Walker

Heather Wells once had it all. She was a minor pop star, her boyfriend was one of the most desirable men in the country (for the under-18 crowd, anyway), and she had all the money she needed. That is, until she decided she wanted to have more control over her career and image. At that point, she lost her recording contract, her boyfriend, gained a few pounds, and her mother ran off with her money. Now, she’s on her own. With no marketable skills, she turns to a job as assistant dorm director at a college in New York. Although she’s one of the most competent people to ever hold the job, or maybe because of it, the residents want her out of there so the old assistant will come back and let them get away with anything they want.

Heather’s job suddenly becomes more interesting when a young female resident is found dead at the bottom of the elevator shaft. Her death is chalked up as an accident from “elevator surfing,” but Heather knows something isn’t right—daredevil boys elevator surf, not preppy girls. Heather is determined to find out who the killer is before he strikes again, but things get scarier. Another girl dies, and soon Heather’s own life is in danger.

Despite the murder mystery, Size 12 is Not Fat is a light and entertaining read. I love the concept of the main character, a glimpse of what happens to a star when she loses star status and has to walk amongst the mortals. She’s just famous enough that only some people recognize her, and others look at her and wonder where they’ve seen her before. She struggles with the same self esteem issues so many of us do, but she has a strong enough sense of self to hold out for what she wants, and to stave off the advances of her cheating, yet hunky, rich and famous, ex-boyfriend.

Meg Cabot kept me engaged and entertained through the whole story, making it hard for me to put it down. The dialogue is catchy and the plot is unpredictable. I have a horrible habit of trying to predict what will happen in every story I read or watch, and I didn’t hit the mark through this whole book. I felt connected to Heather and enjoyed exploring the mystery with her, reveling in her triumphs and cringing at her failures.

I really enjoyed Size 12 is Not Fat, and I plan to read more books by Meg Cabot, such as The Boy Next Door, Boy Meets Girl, and Every Boy’s Got One.

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