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In book giveaways, book review, challenges, contests on November 22, 2008 at 8:57 am

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Courage in Patience by Beth Fehlbaum

In book review on September 19, 2008 at 7:07 am

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Kunati Inc. (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1601641567
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601641564
  • To purchase, click here.
  • Book synopsis:

    Desperate to escape from her stepfather, fifteen-year old Ashley Asher finally finds the courage to confront her mother with painful details of six years of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.  To her horror, Ashley’s mother turns her back on her.  Only a teacher at her school offers any support.  A touching story focused on the themes of abuse, social injustice, racism, peer pressure, bullying, parental responsibility, fear, forgiveness, love, acceptance and hope, which will inspire the millions of abuse victims in America, young and old alike.  Suitable for the classroom study.  No graphic content.

    Conceived on prom night, Ashley’s parents foolishly believe that they are capable of raising a child.  Three months after Ashley is born the relationship ends, and Ashley’s mother Cheryl decides to do her best.  But, like many women she feels she needs a man to make her feel complete, and in walks Charlie Baker.  In the beginning, Charlie treats Ashley just like a dad should, and makes her feel special.  Unfortunately, years later he is hoping that she will make him feel special – in a truly horrifying way. 

    Ashley retreats in her mind when these instances happen, and when she finally has the courage to tell her mother, she is dismissed as having “dreamt it all”.  And when she confides in a teacher, and a rape kit confirms their worst fears, her mother still comes to Charlie’s defense.  Life is about to change drastically for Ashley, but for the better…at least for the most part.  Her father David, and step-mother Bev have opened their home to her, and David is thrilled at the chance to be part of his little girls life.  The town of Patience is small, and fully of religious zealots, bigots (including a “secret” Klu Klux Klan), and people willing to turn a blind eye rather than stand up for what is right.  But, deep in the heart of this town are the kind of people we all want to know – people willing to fight for everything they believe in.

    Although stories like this have been told in the past, Beth Fehlbaum has a wonderful writing style that can tackle such strong subject matters without making you feel distraught while reading.  This is an excellent book and one I highly recommend!

    About the author:

    Beth Fehlbaum drew on her experience working with abused children as an English teacher in writing Courage in Patience.  She wrote Courage in Patience to give hope to survivors of abuse.  She is an English teacher with an M.Ed. and lives in East Texas.

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    The Sitting Swing by Irene Watson

    In book review, Pump up Your Book Promotion, virtual book tour on September 10, 2008 at 4:00 am


    Paperback: 248 pages
    Publisher: Loving Healing Press (July 16, 2008)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 1932690670
    ISBN-13: 978-1932690675
    Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches

    Book Synopsis:

    Irene Watson’s pretentious life could go no further until she faced her past. Her moving and inspiring memoir begins at the end, in a recovery center, whe she has gone to understand a childhood fraught with abuse, guilt, and uncertainty.

    Two distinct parts of the book look at abusive child rearing and the process of recovery years later. This story shows change, growth, and forgiveness are possible. It gives hope and freedom to those accepting the past and re-writing life scripts that have been passed down for generations. It’s never too late to change your life, never too late to heal.

    This book was truly an eye opener. Upon hearing of Irene’s upbringing, I got tears in my eyes. My mother is not a whole lot older than Irene, and yet she had clothing bought for her and plumbing and electricity her entire life! She was the oldest of 6 children, but never felt neglected (maybe the first born syndrome was in play…even then). My heart broke for young Irene, constantly living in the shadow of a brother she never knew, and was never spoken of. She could do nothing right, yet had no freedom as both of her parents were afraid of what might happen to their daughter. Their fear may have led to their inability to show her the love she so desparately craved, and led to her seeking to find any way out of a miserable exsistence.

    This books starts out with Irene enrolling in Avalon, a treatment facility recommended by her friends. She is leary from the very beginning as she looks up at the corner of the room and sees a video camera. There is no way she is going to consent to being videotaped, who do these people think they are? After dealing with Gilles for the first two weeks, she is ready to throw in the towel. She is not sure she believes anything that he is “preaching”, it is the same old, same old and he is harsh and demeaning in his delivery. After the first two weeks his wife Liliane takes over the sessions and it is a different world. Gone is the harsh and demeaning lessons, and the love and support that Irene felt so lacking in the beginning of her stay comes shining through…that is until she has to do a scripted session about a conversation she envisions with her husband. Liliane has words with Irene, words that shock Irene but in the end lead her to the breakthrough she needed all along.

    There were so many parts of this book that I could relate to. I have some people in my family that struggle with alcohol, and it is heartbreaking to watch. It also is the reason that I don’t drink, something that Irene and I share. Don’t get me wrong, I will have an occasional glass of wine, but do not enjoy being around people that have had too much to drink. I also can relate to the overprotective aspect of mothering…but I am the culprit. I don’t seclude my daughters, but I do have a daughter with heart defects and there isn’t a day that passes that I don’t try to protect her just a little bit more than you might a “regular” child. I think the part that I could relate to the most was the Needs section from her stay at Avalon. After reading that I knew that this was my type of woman – it was exactly the way I thought of things.

    This was an excellent book, and one I would recommend highly. Great job Irene, and I look forward to more from you in the future!

    About the author:

    Irene Watson holds a Masters Degree in Psychology, with honors, from Regis University in Denver, CO. Her life has taken her on many paths, with breakthrough results and exemplar growth, to find her authentic and true self. She lives with her husband in Austin, Texas. You can visit her website at

    THE SITTING SWING VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ’08 will officially begin on September 2, ’08 and end on September 26, ’08. You can visit Irene’s tour stops at in September to find out more about her and her new book!

    As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author with a recent release or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors’ blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner will be announced on our main blog at on September 26!

    Irene’s virtual book tour is being brought to you by Pump Up Your Book Promotion and choreographed by Dorothy Thompson.

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    Dead Ringer by Mary Burton

    In book review on August 8, 2008 at 10:30 am

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Zebra October 28, 2008
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1420100270
  • ISBN-13: 978-1420100273
  • To purchase, click here.
  • Book Synopsis:

    Beside each body, he leaves a simple charm bearing a woman’s name.  Ruth.  Martha.  Judith.  The victims were strangers to each other, but they have been chosen with the utmost care.  Each bears a striking resemblance to Kendall Shaw, a local anchorwoman…each brutally strangled by a madman whose obsession will never end…

    In front of the cameras, Kendall is the picture of stylish confidence.  But at night she’s haunted by nightmares in which she is young, alone, and filled with fear.  Are these memories-or omens?  Despite warnings from Richmond Detective Jacob Warwick, Kendall can’t stop investigating the recent string of murders.  She knows she holds the key to catching an obsessed psychopath-if he doesn’t get to her first…

    The deeper Kendall and Jacob dig into the victims’ backgrounds, the more terrifying the discoveries.  For from the shadows of the past, a legacy of evil has resurfaced.  Every murder, every moment has been leading to Kendall.  And this time, nothing will stop the killer making her his final victim…

    Jacob Warwick and Kendall Shaw have a past – a past both of them are trying desparetly to put behind them.  Connected through a serial killer dubbed The Guardian, both of them are emotionally scarred and not willing to open up to anyone.  When Jacob gets called to the scene of a murder, the resemblance of the victim to Kendall is obvious.  He doesn’t put too much thought into it, he has a lot on his plate and thoughts of Kendall are something he has tried to bury for awhile now, no matter how hard it is.  It just so happens that Kendall is ready for some action and is sick of being an anchorwoman sitting behind a desk dishing out the news.  She is popular with the public, and her boss decides to take a chance and send her out to try and get a lead on the murder.  Sparks fly between Jacob and Kendall, but due to the situation and their respective jobs emotions are mixed and they do their best to avoid each other.

    Another murder is reported, and at this point it is painfully obvious that both of these victims look like Kendall…and that she is in danger.  Jacob does his best to keep her safe, but is his best going to be good enough?  With many plot twists, and an ending that would make Hitchkock proud, Ms. Burton has a way of making even the most minor character come to life.  I will make sure to read her first book as well – I’M WATCHING YOU.  This is one author that is now on the top of my list for must reads.  Wonderful!

    About the Author:

    MARY BURTON’s southern family has always enjoyed tall tales and a good yarns.  Early on, MB realized that Story had tremendous power to inspire strong responses such fear, laughter, love and even sorrow.   It didn’t matter if the tale was found in the pages of a book, spoken in hushed tones around a Girl Scout campfire, or spouted at an old fashioned southern family reunion.  This appreciation of story motivated MB to earn an English degree from Virginia’s Hollins University.

    After decade of working in marketing and sales, MB became convinced she could write and sell one of the many stories buzzing around her brain.  Fingers crossed, MB left the marketing profession and devoted all her spare time to writing a novel.  Soon after, she sold her first manuscript to Harlequin Historicals.  Since that initial sale, MB had written twelve historical romances for Harlequin Historicals, four short romantic suspenses for Silhouette Romantic Suspense and a non-fiction book The Insider’s Guide to Direct Marketing.  Her first single title romantic suspense for Zebra I’m Watching You is a December 2007 release.

    In 2005, The Unexpected Wife was a finalist Romance Writers of America’s RITA contest and Wise Moves was 2006 nominee for the Romantic Times’ Critics Choice Award.  I’m Watching You received critical acclaim from New York Times Best Selling author Carla Neggers who said, “Taut, compelling and emotional, I’m Watching You is romantic suspense at its most riveting.  Mary Burton delivers a page-turner.”

    MB resides in Virginia where she enjoys yoga, cooking, hiking and the occasional triathlon.

    For more info, please visit

    The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner

    In book review on August 1, 2008 at 7:00 am

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher:Ballantine Books -July 29, 2008 
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345501845
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345501844
  • To Purchase, click here.
  • Book Synopsis:

    Juana of Castile, the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit her country’s throne, has been for centuries and enigmatic figure shrouded in lurid myth.  Was she the berefet widow of legend who was driven mad by her loss, or has history misjudged a woman who was ahead of her time?  In his stunning new novel, C.W. Gortner challenges the myths about Queen Juana, unraveling the mystery surrounding her to reveal a brave, determined woman we can only now begin to fully understand.

    The third child of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand of Spain, Juana is born amid her parents’ ruthless struggle to unify their kingdom, bearing witness to the fall of Granada and Columbus’s discoveries.  At the age of sixteen, she is sent to wed Philip, the archduke of Flanders, as part of her parents’ strategy to strengthen Spain, just as her youngest sister, Catherine of Aragon, is sent to England to become the first wife of Henry VIII.

    Juana finds unexpected love and passion with her handsome young husband, the sole heir to the Habsburg Empire.  At first she is content with her children and her life in Flanders.  But when tragedy strikes and she inherits the Spanish throne, Juana finds herself plunged into a battle for power against her husband that grows to involve the major monarchs of Europe.  Besieged by foes on all sides, her intelligence and pride used as weapons against her, Juana vows to secure her crown and save Spain from ruin, even if it could cost her everything.

    I admit it.  I am a history snob.  I don’t know what it is, but ever since I was young I found history boring and it was always my worst subject in school.  But, I have been fortunate to have seen the error of my ways, and this book is a prime example. 

    To be totally honest, I have never heard of Juana of Castile.  This book has truly compelled me to learn more.  After being part of an arranged marriage, Juana is unsure what is to become of her life.  Her mother, Isabel, Queen of Castile, and Father, Fernando, King of Aragon, have worked hard to make their two countries unite and will do anything to ensure that their people are safe. They have arranged the marriage as a way of securing power and freedom for their people.

    Even though Juana is less than thrilled about marrying a complete stranger, she has the same tenacity that is characteristic of  her mother and agrees for the good of the country.  She is pleasantly surprised when she finally meets her husband, Philip, the Archduke of Flanders.  Their marriage is riddled with love and passion that most newlyweds wish for and things seem to be going exceptionally well.  Until Juana catches him in bed with another woman while pregnant with her first child.  Philip is flabbergasted and apologizes profusely, but this is just the start of a life of betrayal that is to be Juana’s curse.

    Growing up, I think a lot of little girls (mine included) dream of being a princess.  When you read a book like this, you realize that being royalty is not so much of a blessing as a burden.  Everything you do is scrutinized and you are expected to act and carry yourself in a certain way.  But we see, time and time again, that Juana was courageous and wouldn’t change her beliefs for anyone.  Even after tragedy strikes, Juana is prepared to take her rightful place as Queen, even if it means fighting those she is closest too.  In the end it just wasn’t enough.  In a shocking turn of events she ends up a prisoner and is never allowed to fulfill her rightful place as Queen. 

    Many historians have speculated that Juana was schizophrenic and that is what led to the imprisonment that she endures for most of her life.  Mr. Gortner does and excellent job of portraying a vibrant woman whose sanity was stretched to its limits by the betrayal and cruelty that would likely break any “sane” person.  I applaud his efforts to show us the other side of Juana la Loca and show that maybe she wasn’t insane after all, but simply a victim of circumstances.

    About the author: 

    C.W. GORTNER’s fascination with history, in particular the Renaissance, is a lifetime pursuit.  He holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Writing with an emphasis on Renaissance Studies from the New College of California and has taught university seminars on the 16th century.  In addition, he travels extensively to research his books.  He has experienced life in a medieval Spanish castle and danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall; dug through library archives all over Europe; and tried to see and touch—or, at least, gaze at through impenetrable museum glass—as many artifacts of the era as he can find. 

    He has served on the board of the Women’s National Book Association/SF Chapter, an organization that promotes literacy, and he’s a regular contributor to the Historical Novels Review and Solander, publications of the Historical Novel Society. He is also a passionate advocate for animal rights and environmental issues. 

    Raised in Málaga, Spain, C.W. Gortner is half-Spanish by birth and fully bilingual.  He currently lives in Northern California.

    For more information, please visit

    A special thanks to Pump Up Your Book Promotion for hosting this awesome book!







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    What Your Mother Never Told You by Richard Dudum

    In book review on July 25, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Guest Review by Kylee Pierce of Kylee’s Book Blog

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (November 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1419678698
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419678691
  • A Definite Must Read

    5 stars

    Richard Dudum does a fantastic job of talking to young women in this book. The language, on occasion, is blunt and may put off some parents reading this book, but please do not let that stop you.

    I have a 14 year old daughter who will be starting high school in the fall and she WILL be reading What Your Mother Never Told You this summer. Mr Dudum makes so many great points in this book. This book is broken up into 10 parts (11 if you include the section of Appendices) beginning with “Perceptions and Communication Skills” which deals with, in part, “Body Language”. I think few girls understand that how they dress and act (flirting, etc) effect how boys will treat them. Should everyone treat everyone else the same, yes, do they, no.

    With other subjects, such as “Your Parents”, Mr Dudum let’s the girls in on the secret that they didn’t come to us with a manual. We don’t know what we’re doing most of the time; most of us are winging it. He gives them tricks and tools for dealing with us.

    In the Prologue Richard M Dudum states his wish that this book would become required reading for middle school girls. I wholeheartedly agree with him. This book is chock full of helpful and important information for young girls/women. In my humble opinion, this book should be in every middle school library for 8th grade girls to read. It should be in every high school library as well. What Your Mother Never Told You should become a reference book for these young women. A book to turn to when they are having trouble, because let’s face it, as much as we wish and want our children to turn to us when they have a question, they don’t always feel like we’ll listen to them. With this book in your home, you have a tool for your girls to begin a dialogue with you in an effortless manner (leave it out in the living room/kitchen with a bookmark in the appropriate chapter).

    Thank you Richard M Dudum!


    Sisters of Misery by Megan Kelley Hall

    In book review on July 21, 2008 at 10:44 am

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher:Kensington (July 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0758226799
  • ISBN-13: 978-0758226792
  • Book Synopsis:

    There are some girls who have everything.  She has the right clothes, the right friends, and the right last name, but fifteen-year-old Maddie Crane sometimes feels like an outsider in her wealthy seaside town.  And when her gorgeous, eccentric cousin Cordelia LeClaire moves to town, Maddie is drawn toward her ethereal, magical spirit and teeters even more toward the edge of her friends’ tightly-knit circle…

    Then there are the jealous ones.  Kate Endicott and the Sisters of Misery – a secret clique of the most popular, powerful girls in school – are less than thrilled by Cordelia’s arrival.  When Kate’s on-again, off-again boyfriend Trevor takes an interest in Cordelia, the Sisters of Misery become determined to make her pay…

    Now  Maddie must choose between her loyalty to her cousin and the wrath of the Sisters of Misery…

    All I can say is WOW!!!  There is nothing more thrilling than finding an author who has the capabilities of luring you into their story and not letting go.  I fell straight in, and didn’t resurface until the book was finished, reading it straight through.  Hawthorne is right next to Salem and is described perfectly in this passage from the book:

    There was the Hawthorne that most people talked about: the one with the stories as old and weathered as the shingles of the historic houses.  The town that’s picture postcard perfect, a Currier and Ives landscape filled with the scents of apple cider in the fall, pine and woodsmoke in the winter, and honey and jasmine in the summer.  The town known for sailing and quaint shops and an envialbe coastline.

    And then there were the legends.

    Stories of ghostly soldiers that still lurked outside the Old Sandy Dog Tavern and the specter of Jack Derby, the tyranical sheriff who terrorized the town over two hundred years ago.  But the most startling of all were the townspeople reporting the sensation of a small hand reaching up to grab hold and be helped across the street – the tiny hand of Hester Proctor, who died so many years ago trampled by a horse and wagon.

    During the times of the witch hunts, three sisters were killed on Misery Island.  Trying to recover, the town has tried to put all of the “evil” of the past behind it and become the perfect tourist town.  Unfortunately, the past isn’t willing to give up that easy.

    Maddy Crane seems to have it all from the outside but looks can be deceiving.  One thing she does have is a coveted spot in the elite group known as The Sisters of Misery.  A clique of sorts, these girls rule the town, and previous members are all prominent members of the community.  The Sisters of Misery is led Kate Endicott, a girl not only looked up to, but feared as well.  Maddie knows that even if she wanted to, she will never leave the club for fear of what may happen to her.  

    A spot of happiness is about to grace her doorstep.  Her aunt Rebecca and cousin Cordelia have moved in to the house she shares with her Grandmother and mother.  Her aunt and mother are like night and day, and so are her and Cordelia.  But, as time passes Cordelia becomes her best friend.  She is truly a free spirit, and eccentric, but these are some qualities that Maddie is hoping to embrace.  So, when the Sister of Misery taunt her and treat her poorly, Maddie doesn’t know what to do but try and ignore it.  Cordelia, strong as she is, doesn’t put up with any of it.  So, when they decide to do a ritual ceremony out on Misery Island, Cordelia decides to come along to experience what is so special about this group.  Kate has plans for Cordelia, and has been studying up on the witchcraft that their town is notorious for.  Maddie witnesses some of the torture her cousin endures before passing out and waking up at home.  Cordelia is nowhere to be found and the Sisters aren’t talking.  Frantic, Maddie fights to gain clues as to what happened to her cousin, at any cost.

    This was such an excellent read and I am hopeful that the author will honor me by allowing me to review her future books – EXCELLENT!!


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    Beneath a Buried House by Bob Avey

    In book review, Pump up Your Book Promotion, virtual book tour on July 15, 2008 at 7:01 am

  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Deadly Niche Press (June 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0937660817
  • ISBN-13: 978-0937660812
  • To purchase, click here.
  • Book Synopsis:

    Things aren’t always what they seem.  Tulsa Police Detective, Kenny Elliot’s qutes to uncover the truth behind the death of a transient makes him a target – from whom or what he isn’t sure.  When he brushes the dirt from the surface of an apparent John Doe overdose case, he finds a labyrinth of misdirection and deception beneath, and a trail, which leads him to an encounter with an aberration in human nature, the likes of which he’s not prepared to deal with.  Drawing on his strength of character, and sense of right and wrong, he wrestles with deep personal feelings to solve the case.

    Excerpt from the book:

    Chapter 1  
    People go missing. Llewellyn knew that as well as anyone but when a whole family fell victim to such a fate, that tended to get his attention. It had the interest of someone else as well. Threats had been made. But the way he saw it, with Millie gone, he didn’t have all that much to lose anyway.  
    Llewellyn watched his step as he moved from the sidewalk to the street, for it was dark, the sun skimming the bottom of the sky in a thin, red line, the color of embers clinging to life in a dying campfire. A disturbing thought—a deep suspicion that had grown to such proportion that he feared it might twist his reasoning—snaked through him. He’d previously abandoned the project with good reason.  
    At times like this, he would think back to when he was a boy, visiting his mother. Her house sat on a small hill and behind it was a pond with huge willow trees growing from its banks. It always struck him as odd that the surface of the water remained calm and never rippled, as if it were not real at all, but a painting, an artificial backdrop put there for the effect.  
    Llewellyn had resolved that he too would be like the waters of the pond, unmovable, unflappable, and later, during his adult life, he would call on that image, not every time the going got tough, but when life got particularly hard.  
    He stared at the dilapidated building with a sign hanging from it; a cheap plastic job with florescent lights inside that backlit the bar’s name: CYMRY’S.  
    He shook his head and pushed open the door, a heavy wooden model that looked out of place, as if it had been ripped from the hinges of an old house and brought there against its will.  
    Just inside the door, Llewellyn paused, and when his eyes adjusted to the darkness he took a seat in the second booth by the window, like the man who called himself Jerry Sinclair had told him to do. Llewellyn was five minutes late, and he hoped that wouldn’t matter, though he saw no one fitting Sinclair’s description. At least the darkness was explained. It was the décor, which included the walls and the ceilings, and even the floors. Everything was black with the exception of a large piece of red artwork that radiated from the center of the floor in a rather unprofessional manner, as if it were a bad afterthought, the awkward brushstrokes obvious even from a distance.  
    Llewellyn waited but no one showed. He checked his watch. Thirty minutes had passed. He slid out of his seat and went to the bar. The man had his back turned but a mirrored wall showed his face. He must’ve known Llewellyn was there though he did not acknowledge him. Llewellyn laid a five on the counter. “I’d like a beer, please.”  
    The man gave no visible indication he had heard the request.  
    “I’ll just cut to the chase then,” Llewellyn said. “What I really need is some information.”  
    Turning around, the man drew a pint of lager, then set it down and snatched up the five. “What kind of information?”  
    Llewellyn slid his hand around the cool, damp handle, then brought the mug to his lips, relishing the bitter yet soothing brew. After a few sips, he said, “Does the name Jerry Sinclair mean anything to you?”  
    “Doesn’t jump out at me.”  
    “He said he would be wearing blue jeans and a tan corduroy jacket. Have you seen anyone like that?”  
    “Not since the eighties.”  
    “Right, some people are habitually late. Perhaps Mr. Sinclair is one of those.” After a pause, unable to control his inquisitiveness, Llewellyn asked, “What’s up with the artwork on the floor?”  
    The bartender leaned forward, placing his beefy hands on the railing. “Don’t know. It’s always been there.”  
    Llewellyn had dealt with his kind before; smug, confident with his size, and, as with any animal, the less challenging you could make yourself the better your odds were. He slouched a little. “Do you know what it is?”  
    The bartender said this with a crooked grin, as if he and he alone were privy to the mysteries of the universe, which undoubtedly meant he knew nothing.  
    “If I had to guess,” Llewellyn said, “I’d say it has something to do with the occult. But what do I know?”  
    Llewellyn retrieved one of his business cards and held it out. “I’m a reporter, on assignment.”  
    Taking the card, the bartender examined it. “Florida? Long way from home, aren’t you?”  
    “I go where the story takes me.”  
    “Is that right?”  
    “So you haven’t seen him, the guy I asked about?”  
    “Jerry Sinclair.”  
    The bartender squinted. “Are you sure you’re in the right place?”  
    “I’m sure.”  
    “What kind of assignment are you on?”  
    Llewellyn sipped his beer, then set it down. “I look for the unusual. A few years back, I was working some leads, concerning a small town near here. You know, bizarre circumstances and all of that. Good Stuff. I decided to revive it, made a few phone calls, sent some e-mails, ran an ad in the paper. Then I get this reply from Sinclair. He claimed to have some information. It’s not unusual. I get lucky like that sometimes.”  
    Llewellyn heard the door and realized someone else had finally come into the place. The bartender had noticed as well, and Llewellyn took the opportunity to return to his booth by the window.  
    Three people had come in, and unlike Llewellyn they did not look out of place inside Cymry’s, which meant they were not wearing dress pants and button-down shirts. Nor were any of them wearing blue jeans and a corduroy jacket.  
    One of them, a tall, slender girl wearing tight leather pants, strolled across the floor, stopping in front of the jukebox. Llewellyn couldn’t imagine what kind of music might be popular in such a place, but it wasn’t the anticipation of the music that held his attention. Even dressed as she was, the girl captivated him and he could not stop looking at her, which was a mistake. That indefinable female sense that alerts a woman to a man’s attention seemed present in full force; she turned her head toward him.  
    Llewellyn looked away. He was asking for trouble. He thought of Millie. Not once during their thirty years together had he cheated on her, and he wasn’t about to start now. He heard someone walk across the floor toward him, and he prayed that it would be Sinclair, that he had come through the door while Llewellyn wasn’t looking and was even now preparing to slide into the other side of the booth across the table from him.  
    As a thick, musky smell of perfume crossed Llewellyn’s senses, desperation shot through him. He turned his head, looking at the smooth patch of skin between the bottom of her shirt and the beginning of her leather pants. A tattoo of Saint Brighid’s cross moved sensuously with the muscles of her stomach.  
    She said nothing. Llewellyn could feel her staring down at him, and when he finally raised his head, allowing for the first time their eyes to meet, he felt like the victim in an old vampire movie: frightened by the nature of his captor but hopeful that she would find him desirable and as he looked into her face, the thought occurred to him that if the eyes are truly the windows to the soul then hers was surely dark.  
    A color somewhere between purple and black graced her lips, as it did her fingernails. Her hair, which jabbed at the air in choreographed insolence, was as dark as either of these.  
    Llewellyn slid deeper into the booth, exposing an unused section of the vinyl cushion. She sat down. Llewellyn began to wonder, and not for the first time, what sort of person she really was and why was he, a slightly over-the-hill freelancer, entertaining romantic thoughts about a distant cousin of Vlad the Impaler? She was no teenager, but still half his age, twenty-four or twenty-five he suspected, and about as far away from his type as you could get. The pressure of her leg against his made none of that seem to matter.  
    She grinned. “You look a little out of place. Are you lost?”  
    “I’m here on business.”  
    She lit a cigarette, and in response to Llewellyn’s answer, she blew the smoke out a little harder than she needed to, the exhaust propelled into the air by something that could only be described as a prelude to a laugh. “What kind of business?”  
    Llewellyn checked his watch. Nearly forty-five minutes had passed and still his contact had not shown. In his opinion, that was late, even for the very lax. “I’m meeting someone, or at least I was supposed to.”  
    “Sounds to me,” she said, playing with the lapel of his jacket, “like maybe you just did.”  
    Llewellyn nodded. He tried to concentrate, but his thoughts were all over the place.  
    “Maybe your girlfriend changed her mind.”  
    “Come again?”  
    “Your little trick.”  
    Llewellyn shook his head. “There’s no trick.”  
    She leaned closer, bringing her shoulders forward in an unspoken offer.  
    Llewellyn glanced up to see the bartender hovering over the booth. He wasn’t sure how he’d gotten there without his hearing him or seeing his approach. “This guy bothering you?” the bartender asked.  
    The girl smiled and touched his arm, old friends apparently. “Nothing I can’t handle, Snub.” She reached over and took Llewellyn’s hand. “Just a little business.”  
    “You know this guy?”  
    She winked. “I do now.”  
    The bartender turned and stalked away. He acted protective, like an older brother, siblings from the dark side looking out for one another. It amazed Llewellyn that no matter how low you sank in life, you could still find evidence of a sense of community.  
    Llewellyn wondered what it might be like to be with this strange woman. Then, she leaned close, and with a kiss that teased with a slip of her tongue she said that she wanted him as well, or at least she intended to give him that impression.  
    He pushed away slightly. “Look, I’m not sure this is a good idea.”  
    “Yes you are. You’re just afraid to give in to it.”  
    “You read me pretty well.”  
    “I usually do.”  
    Llewellyn felt insecure, trapped. “I really am meeting someone.”  
    “So where are they?”  
    “I don’t know. I’m starting to have my doubts.”  
    She let go of Llewellyn’s hand and lit another cigarette. “Okay, I’ll lay it out straight. Sinclair sent me.”  
    “Is that right? Why would he do that?”  
    “I don’t know. But he said to tell you that he has the whole story, everything that you’re looking for.”  
    She took a long draw on her cigarette. Llewellyn usually felt a mixture of sorrow and disdain when he saw someone do that, but she impressed him as someone who could handle just about anything, and anyone. His sense of good judgment, what he had left of it anyway, was telling him to excuse himself from this odd encounter, yet he resisted that urge. He hadn’t told her Sinclair’s name, and yet she knew it. He certainly hadn’t said anything about a story. He’d always been drawn to the unusual, the unexplained, that which frightens most people—and here it all was, epitomized in this intimidating yet fascinating person. “So what happens next?”  
    “I’m supposed to take you somewhere. A private place where you can talk.”  
    “Thanks,” Llewellyn said, indicating with a nudge that he was ready to leave. “But I really should be going.”  
    He half expected her to move closer and refuse to let him out, but instead she slid from the booth. Llewellyn did the same and started for the door, and then it occurred to him that he had no car and there would be no cabs waiting on the street in this part of town. He signaled the bartender. “Could you call a cab?”  
    The strange girl put her arm through Llewellyn’s, and he realized that not only had they not exchanged names but he had anticipated her actions and welcomed her touch. She evaluated him with her gaze. “Save the call, Snub. I’ve got a car.”  
    The look on the bartender’s face said he was confused, and it seemed that in some strange way he might even be concerned for Llewellyn. “Whatever you think,” he said.  
    “It’s nice of you to offer,” Llewellyn said to the girl, “but I hate to impose.”  
    His resistance, though, was superficial at best. Still holding his arm, she shook her head and guided him through the door. Once they were outside, she pulled him close and they kissed again. He was in deep, and he knew it, but he kept going along with it. In the parking lot, they stopped beside a red Monte Carlo, and she did something that surprised Llewellyn. She tossed him the keys. “You drive.”  
    Llewellyn stuck the key into the slot and opened the door, and after getting inside he reached over and unlocked the passenger side. She gave him directions and Llewellyn followed them, driving farther from his place with every block. A little later she said, “Turn here. We’ll park in the back.”  
    When they got out of the car, Llewellyn glanced around the area, seeing a few spent wine bottles. “No offense,” he said, but I’m starting to have second thoughts about this. Maybe I should go.”  
    “All right, but come in for a quick drink. I won’t keep you. I promise.” She ran a long nail along his jaw, making it an almost predatory gesture and an enticing one.  
    As they approached the building, it occurred to Llewellyn that her place didn’t look much better than the bar.  
    She turned to look at him and caught him surveying the lines of the building. “Neat old place, huh? I like it here, love the vibes, if you know what I mean.”  
    “It does have character,” Llewellyn said.  
    She unlocked the door and they stepped into a small landing. The place was grim, and populated, Llewellyn suspected, by various strata of socioeconomic defeat, and as they walked the red, carpeted hallway, a red that reminded Llewellyn of blood, he thought of Dante’s Inferno, for as they walked deeper into the building each successive apartment appeared more steeped in despair.  
    The girl’s place was no exception, and once inside, Llewellyn could not imagine anyone actually living there. From a chip-edged kitchen table, she grabbed a bottle of bourbon and poured some into a glass, mixed in a little soda, and handed it to him.  
    He swirled the amber mixture, unable to meet her eyes. His heart pounded. Leave. Just gulp it down and leave.  
    Before he could consider other options, she took the untouched drink and placed it on the table. Then she took Llewellyn’s hand and placed it on her stomach, where she began to guide it upward, beneath her shirt, until it came to rest upon the warm, soft flesh of her breast.

    I try to pride myself on guessing the outcomes of books.  I am not always right, mind you, but I do have a pretty good track record.  But dang it all, this one really stumped me.  I made a few guesses and not one of them was right.  Bob Avey has done a fantastic job of developing his characters and storyline to enthrall the readers up to the unexpected ending.

    This is book two of a series, with the first book being “Twisted Perception”.  You will not need to read the first book in order to grasp the plot of this one, but I for one am going to make sure I read it so I can get some more background on Detective Elliot, a character that has all the right things.  Following a gut instinct has gotten him very far, as you will see in this book.  There are so many multiple twists in this one, if he had to go by evidence alone it may have never been solved. This was a quick read as the story grabs you and makes you want to keep reading right until the very last page.

    About the author:

    Bob Avey is the author of the Kenny Elliot mystery series, which includes Twisted Perception, released April 2006, and Beneath a Buried House, June 2008, several short stories and various non-fiction articles. He lives with his wife and son in Broken Arrow , Oklahoma where he works as an accountant in the petroleum industry, and when he’s not writing or researching mystery writing techniques, he spends his free time prowling through dusty antique shops looking for the rare or unusual, or roaming through ghost towns, searching for echoes from the past. Through his writing, which he describes as a blend of literary and genre, he explores the intricacies and extremities of human nature.

     Bob is a member of The Tulsa NightWriters, The Oklahoma Writers Federation (active board member for 2006), The Oklahoma Mystery Writers, and Mystery Writers of America.

    From Crayons to Condoms by Steve Baldwin and Karen Holgate

    In book review, Pump up Your Book Promotion, virtual book tour on June 24, 2008 at 7:06 am

  • Hardcover: 293 pages
  • Publisher: WND Books (June 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0979267110
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979267116
  • To purchase, click here.
  • Excerpt from the back of the book:

    What’s really going at your local public school? In From Crayons to Condoms: The Ugly Truth About America’s Public Schools, Steven Baldwin and Karen Holgate let parents, concerned teachers and students speak for themselves about the dismal state of government education in America today. The conclusion? Today’s schools are laboratories for disaster, where failed methodologies and policies continually find new life thanks to bureaucracies more interested in maintaining power than in educating.

    Lavishly armed with your tax dollars, government at every level encourages mass social experimentation on our kids – success optional. In From Crayons to Condoms you’ll discover…

      * The lesbian gym teacher who hands out a paper called “101 Ways To Do It Without Going All The Way” in every class.
      * The “Inventive Spelling” curriculum which demands of parents that they “avoid giving in to our natural desire to correct the mistakes” because it’s “harmful to the children”
      * The “innovative name-calling” program for kindergarteners and first graders that teaches new words and concepts like “dyke” and “faggot.”
      * The required courses in “death education” that actually encourage teen depression and suicide.
      * The math classes in which students write down how they “feel” about math problems…as opposed to learning fractions, algebra and multiplication tables.

    Today’s public schools are not just rife with bizarre, inaccurate textbooks and failed teaching practices – they encourage classroom activities that produce dangerous, even deadly, results.

    Can our schools be saved? Yes say the authors, but only if parents are informed and ready to fight for their children every step of the way. The stories in From Crayons to Condoms: The Ugly Truth About America’s Public Schools are sure to horrify and energize anyone concerned about today’s kids – and our nation’s future.

    I have two young girls and they have yet to reach the age where they will be going to school.  I have been fortunate to be able to stay home with them, but the time is drawing near where they will be leaving home to be educated.  This book was an eye-opener, but I must say that not all teachers or schools are run this way.  I do have 3 teachers in my family and I feel they do an excellent job of educating our children (granted, I am biased, lol).  Don’t get me wrong, I am not disregarding any of the information in this book.  It is truly helpful and will give you an idea of what can/may happen in your school district, just keep your eyes open because nothing is more important than the education of our children.



    About the Author
    Steven Baldwin
    is a long-time activist in the fight to reform America’s public schools. He served in the California Legislature, representing San Diego’s 77th District.

    As Chairman of the California State Assembly Education Committee, he initiated a series of hearings that demonstrated how fads, failed methodologies and political correctness have devastated the California public school system, the nation’s largest – and one of the worst.

    The co-author of “The Real Secret War,” Mr. Baldwin has appeared on numerous talk shows including Larry King Live, and has written articles published in the Regent University Law Review, Washington Times and Human Events. Mr. Baldwin is currently the Executive Director of the Council for National Policy (CNP).

    Karen Holgate became an educational activist after joining the fight against hardcore pornography. During public speaking engagements, she began hearing from parents concerned about the sex education curricula being promoted in the public school system.

    With her grandchildren in the public schools, she became involved in the myriad of problems besetting California’s education system. Soon she was traveling to Sacramento and Washington, D.C. to meet with legislators to discuss the declining quality of education and the growing emphasis of non-academic content.

    Mrs. Holgate’s articles and policy reports have appeared in publications including the Congressional Quarterly, Investors Business Daily, the Washington Times, and Insight Magazine. She has been interviewed by local and national radio shows, and has appeared on CBS, NBC and Fox News shows.

     Once again, thanks to Pump Up Your Book Promotion!

    Mrs. Lieutenant by Phyllis Zimbler Miller

    In book review, Pump up Your Book Promotion, virtual book tour on June 18, 2008 at 7:32 am

    Excerpt from the back of the book:

    They had their whole lives to look forward to if only their husbands could survive Vietnam.

    In the spring of 1970- right after the Kent State National Guard shootings and President Nixon’s two-month incursion  into Cambodia – four newly married young women come together at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, when their husbands go on active duty as officers in the U.S. Army.

    Different as these four women are, they have one thing in common: their overwhelming fear that, right after these nine weeks of training, their husbands could be shipped out to Vietnam – and they could become war widows.

    Sharon is a Northern Jewish anti-war protester who fell in love with and ROTC cadet; Kim is a Southern Baptist whose husband is intensely jealous; Donna is a Puerto Rican who grew up in an enlisted man’s family; and Wendy is a Southern black whose parents have sheltered her from the brutal reality of racism in America.

    Read MRS. LIEUTENANT to discover what happens as these women overcome their prejudices, reveal their darkest secrets, and are initiated into their new lives as army officers’ wives during the turbulent Vietnam War period.

    Vietnam was before my time.  I have heard the horror stories and one of my all-time favorite movies is The Deer Hunter.  It is frightening to think of what these soldiers endured, some drafted, others enlisted, but both seeing sights that no human being should be witness to.

    This book is about four very different women whose husbands are in officer training class in Kentucky.  As unlikely as it may seem, considering the background of these women, they become friends and bond during the six-week officer training course.   Thankfully they have each other, as the country is in turmoil due to the stress of being at war, a war that we were not wanted.  They each have a different set of circumstances they must overcome, but have their new found friends to rely on.

    The author has done an excellent job of helping to portray the other side of the war, the women behind the men who served and the hardships they endured.  Truly a wonderful read and an eye opener, I would highly recommend it!

     About the author:

    Phyllis Zimbler Miller is a former Mrs. Lieutenant and lives with her husband in Los Angeles.  The co-author of the Jewish holiday book “Seasons for Celebration,” she has written a success guide for teens (  She welcomes messages and visitors at

      Thanks to Pump Up Your Book Promotion for this book!