Thursday, November 25, 2010

Guest Post: Bill Peschel

Bill Peschel, author of Writers Gone Wild, had been so gracious as to write a guest post for my blog. I have posted a feature of this book and details for more information in the previous post for today so I hope you will check it all out and go get this book.

The germ of “Writers Gone Wild” was planted in 1994. I was reading Michael Holroyd’s biography of George Bernard Shaw when I came across the story of how he lost his virginity to Jenny Patterson, an older woman who was his mother’s friend. Shaw was not the great playwright then. He was 26, scraping by on music journalism in London, and he had a diary in which he recorded his purchases. On that particular day, he bought his first condom, noted the price ─ 5 shillings ─ and that after he had examined them, was “extraordinarily revolted,” an odd reaction to a packet of rubbers.

Fascinated, I followed the affair that played out like a Victorian “Fatal Attraction.” Although he celebrated his 27th birthday by taking Mrs. Patterson to his bed, Shaw was deeply conflicted. He enjoyed the sex, but was ashamed of his desires.

Their relationship rocked between recriminations and reconciliations. Shaw would push her away, only to drive himself back into her arms. When he rejected her, she refused to go. Shaw took to avoiding her, sometimes in farcical ways. When he nearly ran into Jenny at his mother’s house, he hid in another room until she left. When he took up with other women, Jenny stalked him, invaded his rooms and stole his letters. When she verbally assaulted actress Florence Farr, he finally broke it off.

More than a juicy bit of literary gossip, Shaw’s story gave me insight into the iconoclast who loved political systems more than people. So I started looking for similar stories. Instead of reading Hemingway’s “The Short, Happy Life of Francis Macomber,” I researched his fight with Wallace Stevens on a Key West pier that contributed a key line to the short story. I found that one of Katherine Anne Porter greatest stories was inspired by a near-fatal trip on marijuana and hallucinogens. And who could resist reading about Virginia Woolf posing as an Abyssinian prince, running around the Royal Navy flagship in blackface and shouting “Bunga Bunga”?

It took 16 years for “Writers Gone Wild” to reach the bookstores, enough time for technological changes to help in the research. The Internet opened up the British newspapers, which cover the literary scene past and present. Google found obscure web sites, such as the one that published a thesis about Thoreau torching Walden woods. Google Books led me to contemporary works about John Milton’s exhumation. A freelance job writing essays for Oxford’s American National Biography was rewarded with access to their database, so I grabbed a ton of writer biographies (sorry about crashing the servers, guys, I hope you didn’t lose too much data).

It was slow, irregular work. I’d write a few essays, then go off and write a novel, or change jobs or get married and have a couple kids. At one point, I wrote a proposal and sent it out to four agents. All four rejected it, so back it went in the drawer. It was a true quarter-assed effort, and I was sure “Writers Gone Wild” would become another idea that went nowhere.

Jump to about two years ago, and I was looking for material to put on the web site. By this time, I had at least 2,000 computer files, two file cabinet drawers stuffed with photocopies and printouts and a bookcase packed with biographies. I decided to write a couple essays a week and put it on the website. I wasn’t trying to sell a book; I just wanted to make use of the research that had taken years to compile.

Six months later, I realized I had a book going anyway.

Now that the book is out, I’m shifting into marketing mode, writing pieces such as this one and thinking about future projects. One thing I’m trying to do is stick to my goal of writing 300 words a day on the next project. It’s not easy, and sometimes I’ll have to put that aside if an opportunity arises to promote myself.

As for reading, it’s pretty catch-all. I’ll read anything if it’s good, no matter what genre. You don’t build up a 5,000-book library without taking one from column A, two from column B, and the rest from C through Z.

In fact, here is what’s on my stack right now:

* “Dorothy L. Sayers: Her Life and Soul” by Barbara Reynolds. For an annotation project of her first novel I’m self-publishing in a few months.

* “Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman. I bought this recently and intend to start reading it, someday.

* “Schmucks With Underwoods” by Max Wilk. About screenwriters in Hollywood, for a possible “Hollywood Gone Wild” sequel.

* “My Wicked, Wicked Ways” by Errol Flynn. His scandalous memoir. I had read it years ago, but my wife saw this unexpurgated version at the library and picked it up.

* “A Sultry Month: Scenes of London Literary Life in 1846” by Alethea Hayter. Exactly what it says it is. A day-by-day account of what literary people were doing, saying, thinking about and writing. Addictive.

* “Demosclerosis” by Jonathan Rauch: About the rising, destructive influence of interest groups in Washington.

* “The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World One Correction at a Time” by Jeff Deck. Just what it says. Haven’t started this one yet.

* “Djibouti” by Elmore Leonard. And if I’m a good boy and finish these pieces on time, a bite of dessert.

So that’s what my life is like since "Writers Gone Wild" came out: chaotic, uncertain, tiresome but nearly always interesting. It’s not the life I expected, but it’s the life I want, and that makes it all worthwhile.

Book Feature: Writers Gone Wild

Title: Writers Gone Wild
Author: Bill Peschel
Publisher: Perigree
ISBN: 978-0-399-53618-2
Pages: 224
Price: $14.99

Synopsis from the author's website:
If you've imagined famous writers to be desk-bound drudges, think again. Writers Gone Wild rips back the (book) covers and reveals the seamy underside of the writing life.

Insightful, intriguing, and irresistibly addictive, Writers Gone Wild reveals such fascinating stories as:

* The night Dashiell Hammett hired a Chinese prostitute to break up S. J. Perelman's marriage (and ran off with his wife).

* Why Sylvia Plath bit Ted Hughes on the cheek.

* Why Ernest Hemingway fought a book critic, a modernist poet, and his war correspondent/wife Martha Gellhorn (but not at the same time).

* The near-fatal trip Katherine Anne Porter took while high on marijuana in Mexico.

* Why women's breasts sent Percy Bysshe Shelley screaming from the room.

* The day Virginia Woolf snuck onto a Royal Navy ship disguised as an Abyssinian prince.

Pull up a chair, turn on good reading light, and discover what your favorite writers were up to while away from their desks. Sometimes, they make the wildest characters of all.

About the Author:
Bill Peschel was born in 1960 in Ohio, and grew up there and in North Carolina. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in journalism. At The Avalon Hill Game Company in Baltimore, he published a magazine for fantasy role-players and developed computer games. He spent several years as a shipping clerk, bread truck driver, paste-up artist and unsuccessful novelist before returning to journalism as a book reviewer, copy editor and page designer. Currently living in Hershey, Pa., and working for The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, “Writers Gone Wild” (Perigee Books, 2010) is his first book.

Check out the links below to read an excerpt and get further information on this book and author.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Book Review: Journeys: A Grand Adventure

Title: Journeys: A Grand Adventure
Author: Judy Edwards
Publisher: Self Published
Pub Date: November 2010
Pages: 330
ISBN: 9781453777596
I received a free copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

Synopsis from the book:
Journeys is the remarkable story of a courageous mother and her 13-year-old daughter who faced their fears and left everything they knew to travel the world for a year. It is an exciting adventure in a time when the world was less consumed with fear and uncertainty. Journeys is the empowering tale of a woman who followed a vision and left with daughter in hand to pursue a dream.

About the Author:
I am a lifelong student of the arts, and live in Brevard County, Florida. In my earlier years, it appeared as if the Universe was doing all it could to prevent me from being an artist, but I persevered, albeit rather slowly. No matter what diversions came my way, and many did, in my heart, I was always an artist. It took me half a lifetime and a painting trip around the world for me to feel comfortable with that knowing.

I have studied Art at the Honolulu Art Academy, Rhode Island School of Design, Newport Art Museum, on Monhegan Island, Maine, and at the Ringling School in Sarasota, FL. Some of my teachers have left a lasting impression: James Koga, Evelyn Rhodes, Don Stone and Leslie Neumann, to name a few.

Having abandoned the anxieties of my youth, and reaching a semblance of comfort in my middle years, I make art because I love it and it is the one thing I would choose to do above all others. My insecurities and fears have had me locked into realism of all persuasions for years. A recent conversation through a medium with Arthur Dove, helped me to burst through that fear and it has been marvelous!

In my search for something else, I found Encaustics. It was like meeting an old friend that you haven’t seen for a while but could continue the conversation where you left off. It is intriguing, mysterious, magnificent, marvelous, seductive and fun. Life is Good.

My review:
Judy Edwards and her daughter Jill took an amazing journey around the world. Judy, feeling the pressures of marriage, motherhood, and the world in general, was on the search for something more and this trip was a new beginning. From Chile to Thailand to Greece, just to name a few, the trip was filled with adventure, disappointment, joy, painting, and a new found liberation. The book reads like Judy is sitting beside you telling her story and the details of their amazing trip. At times I wished for more details, yet the descriptions she does give, made me feel as if I was right along side her in the journey.

As Judy says, "Our goal is to release who we are not and discover who we are meant to be." The book is the story of an actual trip taken, yet it is so much more. It is the story of a journey of life and finding one's path and learning to find comfort in yourself. The book really spoke to me as I often feel like there is something more for me and I can't ever quite figure out what it is or how to get it. However, it has made me think more about my journey and how to figure out what is missing for me to make my journey more complete. I hope that you will all read this book and think about your own journey for your life.

Please go visit Judy's site at to find out more about the book and Judy's paintings. She is currently donating 10% off all sales for her paintings to the Central Asia Institute to promote education for girls in Pakistan and Afganistan. You can read more about her 10% pledge on the site.

America For Vets

Now, everyone can get involved and help military veterans, men and women, who have served and sacrificed for our country, prepare for a better future.

The "America for Vets" Program aims to mobilize people across America to provide veterans in need with daily supplies as a part of Veterans Village of San Diego's daily life-readiness programs. Veteran's Village of San Diego logo Veterans Village of San Diego is a nationally recognized nonprofit and nongovernmental organization that specializes in prevention, intervention, treatment, aftercare and employment services for military veterans, including men and women who have recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. Founded in 1981 by Vietnam veterans, Veterans Village of San Diego has five locations throughout San Diego County and serves more than 2,000 veterans each year.

How Can You Get Involved?

Beginning December 1st, at all participating Patricia Cornwell book tour stops, readers can make in-kind donations that will go towards the support of Veterans Village of San Diego.

Donations of the following items will be accepted:

• Shampoo
• Body Wash
• Conditioner
• Comb
• Brush
• Hair Gel
• Toothbrush
• Toothpaste
• Dental Floss
• Deodorant (stick or spray)
• Lip Balm
• Disposable Razors
• Shaving Cream
• Q-Tips
• Feminine Products
• Toiletry Kit

For those supporters not able to attend the bookstore events, but who would like to send a donation directly to Veterans Village of San Diego, that can be done online at

You can see where her tour will be stopping at

Forever Holiday Giveaway

Get ready for the holidays with some fantastic Romance titles from Hachette! I have 3 sets to giveaway and the winners will be chosen on December 16. Please leave a comment below telling me your favorite thing about the holiday season. Be sure to leave a way for me to contact you.

To Sin With a Scoundrel

A Touch of Scandal

Bound to Please

A Highlander Never Surrenders

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Book Review: My Reading Life

Book Details:
Title: My Reading Life
Author: Pat Conroy
Publisher: Doubleday, a division of Random House
ISBN: 978-0-385-53357-7
Pages: 337
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review of the book.

Synopsis from the book:
Pat Conroy, the beloved American storyteller, is a voracious reader. Starting as a childhood passion that bloomed inot a lifelong companion, reading has been Conroy's portal to the world, both to the farthest corners of the globe and to the deepest chambers of hte human soul. HIs interests range widely, from MIlton to Tolkien, Philip Roth to Thucydides, encompassing poetry, history, philosophy, and any mesmerizing tale of his native South. He has for years kept notebooks in which he records words and expressions, over time creating a vast reservoir of playful turns of phrase, dazzling flashes of description, and snippets of delightful sound, all just for his love of language. But for Conroy reading is not simply a pleasure to be enjoyed in off-hours or a source of inspiration for his own writing. It would hardly be an exaggeration to claim that reading may have saved his life-and if not his life, then surely his sanity.

In My Reading Life, Conroy recisits a life of reading through an array of wonderful and often surprising anecdotes: sharing the pleasures of the local library's vast cache with his morhter when he was a boy, recounting his decades-long relationship with the English teacher who pointed him onto the path o fletters, and describing a profoundly influential period he spent in Paris, as well as reflecting on other pivotal people, places, and experiences. His story is a moving and personal one, girded by wisdom, and an undeniable honesty. Anyone who not only enjoys the pleasures of reading but believes in the power of books to shape a life will find here the greatest defense of that credo.

About the Author:
Pat Conroy is the bestselling author of nine previous books: The Boo, The Water Is Wide, The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, The Price of Tides, Beach Music, My Losing Season, The Pat Conroy Cookbook, and South of Broad. Several of his books have been made into successful films. He lives in Fripp Island, South Carolina.

My review:
I love books. I love the feel of them in my hands, the smell of the ink printed pages, and I love devouring all of those words on the pages. I also love to read books about books. I just finished My Reading Life by Pat Conroy, about ten minutes ago and I want to start at the first page of it again. I have to admit that I have never read one of Conroy's novels and now I know that I must. His language and writing make me want to read and read as much as I can take in and never stop. I love hearing how people started reading and what keeps them enthralled with books and Conroy's book delves into his life long love and how it started and kept going. It is easy to see that Conroy writes with a passion for words and language and wants every reader to grab a bit of that passion for themselves. Towards the end of the book, there was a passage that I have to share:

"Each day of my life begins with a poem that will unloose the avalanche of words inside me, that secret ore that, once polished, will sit before me disguised as the earth's jewelry. I'll select from its garnets, its milky-eyed opals, its insect-killing amber-it's the language I revere above all. I cheer when a writer stops me in my tracks, forces me to go back and read a sentence again and again, and I find myself thunderstruck, grateful the way readers always are when a writer takes the time to put them on the floor. That's what a good book does-it puts readers on their knees. It makes you want to believe in a world you just read about-the one that will make you feel different about the world you thought you lived in, the world that will never be the same."

In the words of Conroy, I was "thunderstruck" by this book and once again my love of literature has been conjured up from within where it is always hiding in wait for that next great story to make it explode and remind me of why I started reading voraciously in the first place.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Guest Post: Kieran Kramer

Kieran Kramer is a bestselling author of humorous regency romance and she has graciously written a guest blog post for my readers. Be sure to check out her site at

“Ten Important But Oft Overlooked Things to Do at Writing Conferences.”

I've been to enough writing conferences now to have picked up on a few helpful hints for both newcomers and people who are returning. Most of these ideas have to do with keeping a positive attitude and always behaving in a classy manner. You can still karaoke at the bar and have fun with your friends , but never lose track of what's going on--this is a business event, not a personal holiday.

1. At workshops, always keep it professional. We sometimes tend to turn back into teenagers when we’re in big groups, don't we? Especially after a long day of sitting and listening to speakers! It's normal to want to relax, but until you get back into your hotel room, do your best to be polite in group settings.

So in those workshops, please turn off the ringer on your cell phone. And don't text right in front of a speaker, put on lipstick, fix your hair, or chat with your neighbor in the middle of the speaker's talk. Most importantly, ask good questions and at the conclusion of the workshop, clap loudly for the speaker--someday it may be YOU up on that podium!

2. If it IS you up on that podium, please sound animated and sit up straight behind the microphone. There's nothing more demoralizing to a conference attendee than walking into a workshop in which the speaker sounds like he or she doesn't want to be there. If you have stage fright--fake confidence! Do so by standing and walk around. That projects a lot of self-assurance, and it makes the presentation more lively.

3. Consider not talking so much when you network--and start listening. Yes, you should still try to meet at least one new person at every meal, if possible. But how many of us do that and then do all the talking? Instead, LISTEN to that person's stories. You'll pick up a lot of interesting tips about writing and publishing this way. You already KNOW what you think--this is the place to find out what others think!

4. Make sure that when you speak to the editor or agent you're pitching to that you don't read off an index card, even if you have an attack of nerves. The editor's eyes will be open and she'll nod, but she'll be dozing inside. Quite frankly, if you can't talk freely about your story idea, it might mean you don't know your story well enough or that you're not enthusiastic enough about it. Either way, that's a turn-off! I don't care if it takes you a whole year to practice your pitch before you can dump the index cards--do whatever it takes!

5. Actually SUBMIT to the agent or editor who just asked for your manuscript. I've heard the majority of conference attendees NEVER SEND IN THE REQUEST, for one reason or another. Don't be one of those. And don't assume the agent or editor will be deluged with requests right after the conference. Again, most people never submit. So strike while the iron is hot and get that request in as soon as it's in top shape.

6. Wear a smile. Don't be a cynic. And stay away from the whiners. There are always people at every conference who sit together at the bar and moan about how unfair everything is in publishing. Avoid them. Wave and walk right on by. You don't have time for that.

7. Thank every person who does you a good deed at the hotel, including your maid, the waiters, the conference volunteers, and the speakers, if you manage to interact with them. You and your roomies should take turns tipping the room maid every day. You'll get fabulous service in return. In general, just remember that lousy guests leave awful impressions. Diva-like behavior makes you look bad and makes every writer in the hotel and your writing organization look bad. So for your own sense of well-being and for all of us, please be courteous and kind to everyone you meet.

8. Focus on what kind of environment you want to have in your hotel room, starting from what roommate(s) you'll stay with to mundane things, like making sure you pack enough hangers if you're going to be sharing the closet with several people. Maybe you'll even want to arrange a snack or "party" area where all of you contribute portable food, wine, and drinks for general consumption.

Sometimes roommates are a random choice and you just have to make the best of it. You do this by being considerate and hoping the roommate will return the favor.

Be as tidy as possible so you don't aggravate the other roomies (unless you know all of you have "relaxed" standards of neatness!). Ask if people snore, and please, please volunteer that information if YOU do!

Most importantly, arrange to have a "roomie" get-together every night or morning so you can stay in touch with each other and everyone's goals. Try to create a special "roomie" memory to take home with you. I'll never forget one year when my roommates and I all went to a great dinner at a rooftop restaurant and told each other our big writing and personal goals.

9. Always keep a granola bar (or easy snack) and a bottle of water with you as you walk around the conference. You might get hungry between workshops, and you don't want to miss out on the beginning of the next workshop because you had to wait in those long lines that form at the hotel snack bars/coffee shops. As for the water, hotel environments are notoriously dry. Stay hydrated.

10. If you're waiting in a long line to get a book signed by your favorite author, when you get to the front of that line, please be aware that the people behind you are waiting, too. Help the author by ending the conversation at a reasonable time--don't put the burden on her to turn you away. I always keep my conversations with authors at booksignings short on purpose. I know they're under the gun to keep everyone happy. So be respectful of their time and the time of the people behind you.

I hope your conference experience will be memorable (in a good way ) and extremely productive! Happy writing, practice those pitches, line up some great roommates, and prepare to have a fabulous time.

Book Review: Songs of Love & Death

Title: Songs of Love & Death
Editors: George R. R. Marting and Gardner Dozois
ISBN: 978-1-4391-5014-6
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pub Date: November 2010
Pages: 468
Price: $26 US/$29.99 CAN
I was given a free copy of this book by the pubisher for my honest review.

Synopsis from the book cover:
In this star studded cross genre anthology, seventeen of the greatest modern authors of fantasy, science fiction, and romance explore the borderlands of their genres with brand new tales of ill fated love. From zombie infested woods in a postapocalptic America to faery haunted rural fields in eighteeth century England, from the kingdoms of high fantasy to the alien world of a galaxy spanning empire, these are stories of lovers who must struggle against the forces of magic and fate.

Award winning bestselling author Neil Gaiman demonstrates why he's one of the hottest stars in literature today with "The Thing About Cassandra," a subtle but chilling story of a man who meets an old girlfriend he had never expected to see.

International blockbuster bestselling author Diana Gabaldon sends a World War II RAF pilot through a stone circle to the time of her Outlander series in "A Leaf on the Winds of All Hallows." Torn from all he knows, Jerry MacKenzie determinedly survives hardship and danger, intent on his goal of returning home to his wife and baby-no matter the cost.

New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher presents "Love Hurts," in which Harry Dresden takes on one of his deadliest adversaries and in the process is forced to confront the secret desires of his own heart.

Just the smallest sampling promises unearthly delights, but look also for stories by New York Times bestselling romance authors Jo Beverley and Mary Jo Putney, and by such legends of the fantasy genre as Peter S. Beagle and Tanith Lee, as well as many other popular and beloved writers, including Marjorie M. Liu, Jacqueline Carey, Carrie Vaughn, and Robin Hobb. This exquisite anthology, crafted by the peerless editing team of Geroge R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, is sure to leave you under its spell.

About the Editors:
George R. R. Martin has been called "the Amercian Tolkien," and his books, including the volumes in his landmark A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series, have been on bestseller lists around the world. He's won four Hugo Awards, two Nebula Awards, the World Fantasy Award, and the Bram Stoker Award. As editor, he's produced the long running Wild Cards anthology series as well as the New Voices series and others. He's also worked for Hollywood and television and was part of the creative team behind such shows as Beauty and the Beast and the revival of The Twilight Zone.

Gardner Dozois has won fifteen Hugo Awards and thirty-four Locus Awards for his editing work, as well as two Nebula Awards for his own writing. He was the editor of the leading science fiction magazine, Asimov's Science Fiction, for eighteen years, and is also the editor of the annual anthology series The Year's Best Science Fiction, now in its twenty-seventh annual collection. He is the author or editor of more than a hundred books.

My review:
The stories in this anthology are sure to surprise and delight the readers of romance and science fiction. The book has something for everyone in that it covers various time periods, situations, and ideas of love across these two genres. You will not be bored by any of the stories you encounter here.

List of authors represented:
Peter S. Beagle
Jo Becerley
Jim Butcher
Jacqueline Carey
Diana Gabaldon
Neil Gaiman
Yasmine Galenorn
M.L.N. Hanover
Robin Hobb
Cecilia Holland
Tanith Lee
Marjorie M. Liu
Mary Jo Putney
Linnea Sinclair
Melinda Snodgrass
Lisa Tuttle
Carrie Vaughn

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Book Review: Lipstick in Afghanistan

Title: Lipstick in Afghanistan
Author: Roberta Gately
Publisher: Gallery Books, a division of Simon and Schuster
Pub Date: November 2010
Pages: 284
ISBN: 978-1-4391-9138-5
Price: $15.00 US/$$17.00 CAN

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher for my honest review.

Gripped by haunting magazine images of starving refugees, Elsa has dreamed of becoming a nurse since she was a teenager. Of leaving her humble working-class Boston neighborhood to help people whose lives are far more difficult than her own. no one in her family has ever escaped poverty, but Elsa has a secret weapon: a tube of lipstick she found in her older sister's bureau. Wearing it never fails to raise her spirits and cement her determination. With lipstick on, she can do anything-even travel alone to war-torn Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11.

But violent nights as an ER nurse in South Boston could not prepare Elsa for the devastation she witnesses at the small medical clinic she runs in Bamiyan. As she struggles to prove herself to the Afghan doctors and local villagers, she begins a forbidden romance with her only confidant, a charming Special Forces soldier. Then, a tube of lipstick she finds in the aftermath of a tragic bus bombing leads her to another life-changing friendship. In her neighbor Parween, Elsa finds a kindred spirit, fiery and generoud. Together, the two women risk their lives to save friends and family from the worst excesses of the Taliban. But when the war waging around them threatens their own survival, Elsa discovers her only hope is to unveil the warrior within. Roberta Gately's raw, intimate novel is an unforgettable tribute to the power of friendship and a poignant reminder of the tragic cost of war.

About the Author:
Roberta Gately has served as a nurse and humanitarian aid worker in third world war zones ranging from Afghanistan to Africa, about which she has written a series of articles for the BBC World News Online. This novel is her first.
You can check out her site at
You can check out her blot at

My review:
Lipstick in Afghanistan is the first novel of Roberta Gately and she has written it as fiction, but loosely based it on her own experiences as a nurse in third world war zones. It is the story of Elsa, a nurse from Boston that didn't seem to have an easy life growing up but tried to change her way by becoming educated and striving to help others. Elsa first read a story about Rwandan refugees in a magazine when she was a young teenager and felt from that moment on that she would pledge her life to helping those that had it so much worse than she could even imagine.

Once Elsa becomes a nurse, she does all it takes to become an aid worker and is sent to Afghanistan on her first mission. Once there, she finds herself immersed in running a clinic and learning to live a lifestyle that includes restrictions just because she is a woman. Not only does she find herself overwhelmed with starting a new life in a strange land, she really make a go of it for herself. Elsa finds friends that become a new family to her, she finds love, and she finds herself in that she becomes a new person and accomplishes what she had wished for.

The story isn't just a simple story of finding friendship, love, and a new life. This book opens up your mind to an area of the world that most of us can't even begin to imagine. Although the book is fiction, it is very real in the occurrences that it talks about. Gately has taken her own experiences and shared them with the world to open up what a war zone is like and what the people living and trying to survive in those areas are going through. The book brings home a quality of compassion, tenderness, and that people everywhere should value each other. It doesn't matter what culture you are from or what beliefs you have, relationships can form and thrive across those barriers. Sometimes it is through a common idea, or hobby, or perhaps it can be achieved over an item as simple as a love of lipstick.

The book was a quick read that I finished in a few hours over two days. I found myself waking up during the night after I had read about half of the book. I woke and found myself thinking of the characters in this book and imagining if I lived in Afghanistan and how different my life would be. The characters, the story, and the writing really made me think. I like to read for pleasure and escape but I also like for a book to resonate with me for awhile after I have finished that last page, and this book did all of that.

Elsa first feels empowered by her wearing of lipstick and she makes sure that is one of the few personal items she takes with her to Afghanistan. In the book, the women bond over tubes of lipstick. Is there an item that you can't do without and makes you feel empowered? If you were to go to a foreign country to do aid work, what would your item be? I would love to read your comments on this.

Monday, November 8, 2010

National Bookstore Day

Happy National Bookstore Day!
I think this should be a national holiday where everyone gets the day off from work so they can go and observe and buy books! Be sure and check out your favorite bookstore today-either at the actual store or online. You can follow links from my blog directly to Amazon or to the Indie Bookstore site-located on the right side of the blog. You can also check out Better World Books at and get 20% off when you purchase 3 or more used books.

I am holding a giveaway in celebration today. Email me a copy of a receipt showing me what you bought today in celebration of National Bookstore Day and the person that spent the most, will win a $10 gift card to

Book Feature and Giveaway: Stronger Than Sin

It's been six months since Liliana Carrera helped her brother rescue Caterina Shaw from Wardwell Laboratories, a group of fringe scientists experimenting on human beings. Now, Liliana--with funding from the FBI--has set up a new facility to continue testing the inhibitor complex, a cure for the patients of Wardwell. What's even better is the FBI has managed to recover another of the patients, Jesse Bradford.

When Jesse arrives at Liliana's facility, he has been drugged and displays violent erratic behavior. As Liliana helps him detox, Jesse demonstrates strange powers--superhuman strength and the ability to heal quickly.

Despite their growing attraction, Jesse is secretive and Liliana remains fearful of him. Eventually he admits that Wardwell scientists threatening his sister's life in order to maintain control over him and his powers. As they try to locate her, they begin to suspect that the scientists may have corrupted the FBI. Unless they can discover Wardwell's master plan soon, Jesse's sister, the other patients, and an unknown number of innocent people, will pay the price.

About the Author:
Caridad PiƱeiro® is a multi-published and award-winning author whose love of the written word developed when her fifth grade teacher assigned a project – to write a book that would be placed in a class lending library. She has been hooked on writing ever since.

From the start, Caridad’s novels have received acclaim and have helped redefine the landscape of modern romance novels. In 1999, Caridad was published by Kensington as part of Encanto, the first line of bilingual Latino romance novels. In 2000, Caridad was one of the first Latino authors featured at the launch of BookExpo America’s Spanish Pavillion. In December 2006, Caridad helped Silhouette launch its successful Nocturne paranormal line with DEATH CALLS, one of the novels in the award-winning THE CALLING Vampire series. In addition, Caridad has appeared at BookExpo America on numerous occasions and has captained both the multicultural and vampire genre panels at the RT BookClub Conventions.

Caridad’s CHICAS novels, including her seventeenth release, SOUTH BEACH CHICAS CATCH THEIR MAN from Simon & Schuster’s Downtown Press, have garnered praise from both fellow authors and reviewers and are helping to make Latina fiction a vital part of the publishing mainstream.

In recognition of her work, Caridad has received various awards and honors. In 2007, a year marked by the debut of six novels from Harlequin and Pocket Books, Caridad received the Golden Apple Award Author of the Year Award from the New York City Chapter of the Romance Writers of America. Other honors that Caridad has received include the selection of DANGER CALLS and DEATH CALLS as the Top Fantasy Books of 2005 and 2006 by CATALINA magazine, the Cataromance Reviewers Choice Award for Best Nocturne in 2006 and the New Jersey Romance Writers Golden Leaf award in 2001 for Best Short Contemporary. Her other titles have received a number of nominations, such as the Harlequin Readers Choice Awards and RIO Reviewers Choice Awards. Both DANGER CALLS and SEX AND THE SOUTH BEACH CHICAS have been book club selections.

Caridad’s eighteenth novel, MOON FEVER, a paranormal anthology with Maggie Shayne, Susan Sizemore and Lori Handeland, debuted in late September 2007 as #32 on the New York Times Extended Bestseller list and #123 on the USA TODAY Bestseller List. HOLIDAY WITH A VAMPIRE, a paranormal anthology with Maureen Child, made the BookScan Top 100 Adult Fiction list.

In 2009, Caridad will debut a new paranormal romantic suspense series with Grand Central Publishing. The first novel in the series, SINS OF THE FLESH, will be released in November 2009.

Caridad has appeared on Romance Novel Television, Fox Television’s Good Day New York Early Edition , New Jersey News’ Jersey’s Talking with Lee Leonard and WGN-TV’s Adelante Chicago. Articles featuring Caridad’s works have appeared in the New York Daily News, Catalina, RT BookClub, NJ Monthly, Star Ledger, Home Tribune News, Sun Sentinel, Variety Yahoo! Online News, Latina and the Waterbury Republican-American.

When not writing, Caridad teaches workshops on various topics related to writing and heads a writing group. Caridad is also an attorney, wife and mother.

Caridad was born in Havana, Cuba, and settled in the New York Metropolitan area. She attended Villanova University on a Presidential Scholarship and graduated magna cum laude. Caridad earned her juris doctor from St. John’s University and became the first female partner of Abelman, Frayne & Schwab, an intellectual property firm in midtown Manhattan.

I have five copies of this book to giveaway. Please leave a comment below with your email address. The contest is open to US and Canada but no PO Box addresses. Winners will be chosen on November 20.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

CSN Stores

I have done reviews of CSN products before and have come to love their site. I am getting married in December and thought I would check them out for wish list registry items. I would like a new dining room set so that I can have guests over for entertaining. I love to cook and want to have a table with enough dining room chairs to be able to seat many friends and we can all sit around the table and enjoy great food and great conversation. I am having a hard time deciding on just which one I like the best. Has anyone bought a dining room table and chairs from CSN? I would love to hear about your purchase and what you thought of it. Or if you have never bought an item from CSN, I urge you to check them out at as they have over 200 sites for you to choose from. Please leave a comment and let me know about your CSN purchases.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thanksgiving Giveaway

Hachette Books is offering a fantastic giveaway for the Thanksgiving season and I am so excited to be a host for it! I have three sets to giveaway. Please leave a comment with your email below to enter. Don't forget to tell me what you are most thankful for or your favorite Thanksgiving tradition. Winners will be chosen on November 25.

Here is what you win:
It Happened One Night by Lisa Dale

Montana Legacy by R.C. Ryan

Tall Tales and Wedding Veils by Jane Graves

Talk of The Town by Sherrill Bodine

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Book Review: Elizabeth, Captive Princess

Title: Elizabeth, Captive Princess
Author: Margaret Irwin
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pub Date: October 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4022-2997-8
Pages: 352
Price: $14.99 US/$17.99 CAN

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review.

Synopsis from the publisher:
In July 1553, sibling rivalry looms perilous, even life-threatening, between the daughter of King Henry VIII. Their brother King Edward is dead, his successor Lady Jane Grey has been beheaded and Queen Mary Tudor has just won possession of the throne. But her younger half sister-the beautiful and vivacious Princess Elizabeth-holds the hearts of the people. Despite Mary's health fading fast and her power beginning to crumble, she won't give up the throne, determined to rule to the absolute end as her father did before her. In these treacherous times, when all about her there is secrecy and deception. Elizabeth must rely on her faith and courage if she is to survive her ordeal and rise to fulfill her destiny. With grace and elegance, Margaret Irwin continues the story begun in Young Bess, giving readers an intimate peek into the world of that most enigmatic of Britain's monarchs.

About the Author:
Margaret Irwin (1889-1969) was a master of historical fiction, blending meticulous research with real storytelling flair to create some of England's best-loved and most widely acclaimed novels, including Young Bess, Elizabeth and the Prince of Spain, The Gay Galliard, and the Stranger Prince.

My review:
This is the second book in the trilogy my Irwin and it is fantastic. I read Young Bess a few months ago and fell in love with the writing by this author. The second book is even better than the first with intrigue and deception and a story that pulls you in to where you think you are in the middle of the action. The writing is so vivid I can see it all playing out in my head as if I was watching a movie, rather than reading a book.

Irwin has written a story that she researched but it doesn't read like a history lesson, it seems more like she is telling a fantastic story that could never have happened as it is never boring. You must read this trilogy. I know I can't wait to read the third and final book in this series.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Book Feature and Giveaway: Montana Glory

The last thing in the world Zane McCord wants is a wife. But after returning home to the family ranch in Montana to help his cousins search for the lost treasure that is their legacy, Zane can't help notice that love and marriage seem to be contagious. Both his cousins have succumbed, but he refuses. Determined to stay a bachelor till he dies, Zane wants to devote his time to filming documentaries and taking care of the ranch...and then Riley Mason walks into his life.

The last thing on Riley Mason's mind is romance. Sent to the McCord ranch to save the family's accounting problems, she only wants to impress her firm in Helena and be on her way. Life as a single mother isn't easy and she needs to impress her bosses for a raise. But when Zane McCord opens the door, her breath catches in her throat and a desire she's never experienced before takes over her. When the McCords insist that she and her daughter, Summer stay at the ranch, she's forced to give in and before long, she's pulled into their search for the long lost treasure. But she absolutely draws the line at getting involved with Zane McCord, playboy and heartbreaker extraordinaire.

But as they all get closer to finding Coot's lost treasure, a dangerous series of accidents target Riley and her daughter Summer. Can Zane keep her safe while trying to win her heart?

About the Author:
New York Times bestselling author R.C. Ryan has written more than ninety fiction novels, both contemporary and historical. Quite an accomplishment for someone who, after her fifth child started school, gave herself the gift of an hour a day to follow her dream to become a writer.

The Lost, an anthology of stories by J.D. Robb, Mary Blayney, Patricia Gaffney, and R.C. Ryan writing as Ruth Ryan Langan was published in Fall 2009. Ms. Ryan’s story, “The Legacy,” is an exciting tale of intrigue and other-worldly adventure.

In a career spanning more than twenty years, Ms. Ryan has given dozens of radio, television, and print interviews across the country and Canada, and has been quoted in such diverse publications as the Wall Street Journal and Cosmopolitan. She has also appeared on CNN News, as well as Good Morning America.

Five Fun Facts:
1. As a girl I used to love reading my father's old Westerns. His favorite author was Zane Grey. No surprise, then, that I had to name a character Zane.

2. In my original plan, Riley's child was going to be a boy. I could envision these three tough cowboys having lots of fun with a miniature wrangler. But then I realized how much more fun I could have watching the interplay between three tough cowboys and a little girl who had never set foot on a ranch before. That's how Summer was born in my imagination.

3. Don't you just love when characters take on a life of their own and lead us along paths we never expected? This is what happened with Cal Randall, ranch foreman. I thought I knew everything there was to know about him. After all, I created this life-long friend of Coot McCoy. But single-mother Riley's presence on the ranch taught me some things about Cal that I hadn't known. Midway through this story, I realized why Cal had such empathy for Riley.

4. I had always planned on having a sweet, gentle love story develop between Cal and Cora throughout the series. But again, Riley was the catalyst that made their story even sweeter. I actually cried when they finally realized what the rest of their family had known for such a long time.

5. I love the idea of searching for lost treasure. I know that my readers want answers to the quest that has teased and taunted this family for generations. But I also believe, as Zane declares, that the only real treasure is family. I hope my readers will let me know if they're satisfied with the ending in this third and final book in the series.

I have five copies of this book to giveaway. Please leave a comment below with your email address to enter. The contest is open to US and Canadian residents, but no PO Box addresses please. Winners will be chosen on November 12.