Saturday, 31 March 2012

Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I bought The Hunger Games trilogy last year. Then the books got stacked up and forgot about having them. Knowing that the movie starring Jennifer Lawrence was about to come out, I took a slight break from my review piles and opened the first book. It was late at night, I was tired, and I was not planning to read very much. Well, I ended up reading about half of the book, as I was caught up in the futuristic, weird world of Panem, which strangely resembles the real world. The story is told from the point of view of sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen (What a name!) who volunteers to take her sister’s (Prim) place in the annual Hunger Games that the Capital holds. There were once 13 Districts in Panem, and the 13th rebelled against the Capital. After the 13ths were vanquished, the Capital decided to punish the other districts with the Hunger Games. Each year one male and one female (between the ages of 12 to 16) from each district are randomly chosen to participate in the games which only has one main rule, fight to the death.

Friday, 30 March 2012

The Friday 56 - The Captive Heart

Kyra stood over him, breathing hard, her face flushed, the
shovel cocked over her shoulder in case she needed to 
swing it a second time.

page 56, The Captive Heart by Dale Cramer

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Review - Wicked As They Come

Wicked As They Come
BY: Delilah S. Dawson
PUBLISHED BY: Pocket Books
ISBN: 978-1-4516-5788-3
Pages: 406

    After taking a locket from a former client’s home, Tish Everett, an in-homecare nurse, the locket transports her to a bizarre world called Sang, where she meets a Bludman named Criminy Stain. Bludmen drinks blood just like vampires, but they are not dead, they are very much alive. And unlike vampires who are immortal, Bludmen live longer than humans, but they can also die. In this world, the humans are called Pinkies. Criminy is a magician and traveling carnival act owner who guides Tish through Sang. Of course, Tish believes everything is just a dream and follows Criminy’s lead into this world that is similar to ours, as there are cities called London and Manchester. There are Bludbunnies, Bludrats and even Clockworks in this paranormal tale.

    Delilah S. Dawson’s debut novel is completely different than any other paranormal romances out on the market, as she has created an original but strange new world featuring vampires with a slight twist, and has put in a little of steampunk here and there. I liked the character Tish as she is more like the girl next door and is more believable. The Bludmen Criminy is a wacky character that most readers will enjoy. The steamy love scenes between the two are well-written and surprisingly not over the top. There are lots of twists and turns as you get to explore Sang. Luckily, there is a sneak peak at the next book; Wicked as She Wants, which I can’t wait to read, but it doesn’t come out until next year. I recommend Wicked as They Come to all paranormal/steampunk romance readers.

*I would like to thank Pocket Books for sending me a copy to review.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Guest Post with author Linda D. Hays-Gibbs

Excerpt from My Angel, My Light As Darkness Falls
by Linda D. Hays-Gibbs

From the corner of the woods Pierre Blanchard saw her. She was like an angel floating around in the carnage of hell. At least she looked like an angel. Her beauty was compelling and her grace was like a dancer and a determined little flower with serious and painful intent. He could feel her emotions. Suddenly, all he wanted was to comfort her, to take her into his arms and never let her go. He started toward her and then halted, shaking his head to clear it. He could not do that. He was the enemy, the dreaded Frenchman, and he had to stay hidden. After all this horrible battle, someone had to report back to France that they were defeated. Pierre should have already left. Maybe, God willing, this time there would be no more wars. No, that was not possible. Was it not Plato that said the only men who did not war were dead men? There would always be wars. Mesmerized by his angel, he kept following her. She had on the most exquisite gown, and though it was soiled, she still looked like a china doll.

Pierre ran toward her and almost out into the clearing. He stopped just short of exposing himself. Oh, God he wanted to help her. She was so helpless and tiny and she was so broken. His heart was breaking for her as she screamed and wept, so he continued to weep too. She had found her lover. Oh, what Pierre would give for her to love him like that and to hold him like that! His features twisted into a scowl. If he could only take her in his arms and love her! His clothes would not give him away.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Guest Post with author Dina Rae

In my recent novel, Halo of the Damned, I used research about an ancient Middle Eastern religion, Yezidism. The Yezidis originated from northern Iraq and spread throughout the Kurdish community, eventually making its way into part of Europe.

Yezidis worship angels, especially Malak Tawas who many believe to be Satan. The peacock symbolizes this angel. Malak Tawas' story in the Koran matches the stories in the Bible and Old Testament about a rebellious angel who wages war with a third of all of God’s angels against God. Once defeated, God sends all of them to Hell and denies them mercy.

Yezidis believe God created Malak first, before all other angels, in His image, therefore he is also God. They also believe the world was first created as a pearl. Their holy books are Black Book and Book of Revelation. Their afterlife ideas are vague, but lean towards reincarnation. I found the religion fascinating and used it for my plot.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Friday 56 - The Hunger Games

"Here's some advice. Stay Alive," says Haymitch, and then bursts out laughing.
I exchange a look with Peeta before I remember I'm having nothing more to do with him.
I'm surprised to see the hardness in his eyes. He generally seems so mild.

page 56, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Giveaway - Calico Joe by John Grisham


Two Lucky Winner will get 1 copy of Calico Joe by John Grisham.
Courtesy of Doubleday.
Open to followers of this blog with a US mailing address!
No P.O. Boxes! 
Contest Ends April 17, 2012

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Review - Return to Finkleton

Return to Finkleton
BY: KC Hilton
ISBN: 978-1-4699-0108-4
Pages: 210
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

In this sequel to The Magic of Finkleton, taking place two years later, the Finkle children, Jack, Lizzy, and Robert have adjusted to living in the town of Finkleton. The family is still running their late uncle’s shop, in which the children discover a secret room full of mysterious books. Robert sneaks into the room and pulls a magical lever that causes lighting to strike a nearby home. Feeling guilty, Robert is determined to change his mistake, and with the help a magical clock, he might be able to do so. First, he accidentally travels to the future, where he sees the outcome of his actions.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first book and eagerly waited for the second book to be released. I read the book in one sitting! Just like the original, the sequel has a dazzling cover but this time with a magical clock. The sequel focuses more on the youngest child Robert as he travels through time to undo a fire that he caused. My favorite character still has to be Lizzy, as she and I have a love for books. This time around, we meet some new characters and get to explore some of the other shops in Finkleton. Mr. Lowsley returns as the villain, even more determined to find out what or who is responsible for the magical occurrences in Finkleton. KC Hilton has once again created a wonderfully original fantasy that both children and adults will love. I like how the author leaves a few unanswered questions for the reader to think about. Who is Mrs. Caroline? Luckily we don‘t have to wait long because we get a sneak peak at the third book Saving Finkleton, in which I cannot wait to read, in the back of the book. I recommend the book to everyone!

*I would like to thank the author for sending me a copy to review!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Giveaway - The Taker by Alma Katsu


One Lucky Winner will get 1 copy of The Taker by Alma Katsu.
Courtesy of Gallery Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Open to followers of this blog with a US mailing address!
No P.O. Boxes! 
Contest Ends April 13, 2012

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Review: The Golden Spark: The Legend of the Great Horse: Book II

Picking up where book one left off, we find Meagan and her magical horse, Promise, barely escaping being executed for witchcraft in 1616 Western Europe. Promise takes her back in time, this time landing on a ship, but not just any ship. They land on the Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cort├ęs’s ship in the year 1519 where Meagan becomes in charge of taking care of the captain’s horse. Then, Promise takes her to the court of Louis XIV of France, the Sun King, where she poses as a stable-hand. Last, the Great Horse takes Meagan to Regency, England in 1816.

The Legend of the Great Horse series is unlike any other horse series written for young adults. Just like book one, the author has gone to great lengths to add historical accuracies to this fantasy tale. Young readers will find the time traveling horse to be interesting, but there is so much more to young Meagan’s quest. You will learn about the hardships that horses went through in each period that Meagan visits. In addition, you will learn fun fact about historical figures like Louis XIV and Hernan Cortes. There are some scenes of violence in The Golden Spark especially during the Spaniards’ battle with the Aztecs, that some horse lovers may not care for, but as I said, the author is going for historical accuracies. I would have to say my favorite part of the book was the amazing descriptions of the foxhunt during Meagan’s visit to England. Both fantasy and history readers will enjoy reading about The Great Horse. I recommend it to everyone.

*I would like to thank the author for sending me a copy to review!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Review - Growing Up Ziglar

Growing Up Ziglar
BY: Julie Ziglar Norman
PUBLISHED IN: May 1, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8249-4531-2
Pages: 187

    Growing Up Ziglar is by author Julie Ziglar Norman, the daughter of the writer and motivator speaker Zig Ziglar. In this motivational and inspirational book, Julie tells us her life story. Obviously, one would think living in the Ziglar household she would be the perfect daughter, following by the rules, but just like everyone else, she is not perfect. In the book, you will read about her trouble marriages, what is like to be a single parent, and finally finding God’s grace and forgiveness.

    When I received this complementary copy from Summerside Press/Guidepost, I did not know what to think, as it was not my normal read. Late one night, and since the book is under 200 pages, I picked up the book and started reading about Julie. Honestly, I have never heard of the Ziglar family before, and after a few chapters, I was hooked. Julie has been through many rough patches in her life and you instantly feel for as she struggled to find grace. There is a lot of heartache, but there are also moments of joy and happiness through Growing Up Ziglar.  I recommend the book to all.

About the Author: 

Julie Ziglar Norman is the daughter of Zig Ziglar and worked for twenty years as his personal editor. With a background in sales and business management, she has become a dynamic international motivational speaker. Julie lives in Texas with her husband, Jim, and continues the Ziglar legacy of encouragement through The Ziglar Woman Faith and Family Conferences. 

Friday, 16 March 2012

Guest Post - The "Biography" of Lisa Herbert

The “Biography” of Lisa Herbert
by Robert Collins

Lisa Herbert is the main character of my novel “Lisa’s Way.” She’s a smart young woman trying to rebuild society. An event called the “Savage Rain” isolated her colony planet. She turns on her planet’s 
hyperspace gate and starts traveling.

That’s her story as it plays out in the novel. Lisa has another story. It’s how she came to be the main character of the novel. I hope you’ll find it an interesting story.

In the beginning a high school friend and I had the idea of casting ourselves as the heroes of a post-apocalyptic novel. We and our friends in school would be the actual characters. We’d gain cool powers, fight bad guys, and have adventures.

After high school I took over the idea, since I was the only one trying to be a writer. I decided to fictionalize the characters. I was even able to write a first draft of a novel. It wasn’t very good, and I never sent it out.

The basic idea of rebuilding society was still a good one. I tried to figure out how to turn what I had into a workable story. That’s when one of the group of characters emerged: Lisa Herbert. She was based on 
someone I knew, but as the story went through more drafts she took on a life of her own.

She was always an intelligent character. She quickly became a well-read one. She was always passionate about the cause of rebuilding. Early on it was because she’d had children. Later the idea of her children became something for her future, but the passion remained.

Lisa’s wits also changed the story. It had to be less about fighting to get her way and more about using her intelligence. She had to be smarter than her enemies, instead of stronger. She had to plan, reason, and use her knowledge to help people.

The novel turned into short stories, then back into a novel. As that was happening I began publishing travel booklets about the counties around where I live. The booklets had history in addition to listing the sights. Some of those counties were on the Santa Fe Trail. The Trail was a commerce route connecting the American frontier with Mexico (later, the Pacific Coast).

That research showed me how important trade was to developing the West. It also gave me an idea about Lisa’s story. Trade would be the way that she would try to rebuild society. Trade would allow her to 
travel. Her adventures would revolve around tying communities together by restoring trade routes (and by building new routes).

The final piece of the puzzle came when I decided to set her story in space in a more distant future, than on Earth in a closer future. I  wouldn’t have to try to figure out how real places might change. 
Instead I could make up colony worlds and place them where I wanted. I could also have the mystery of why Lisa’s region of space lost contact with Earth. With all the elements in place I wrote “Lisa’s Way” in the version that’s now available.

That is how Lisa Herbert came to be in this novel. It took fifteen years to go from that initial idea to finished novel. It took several more years to get published. It took a few more years for the contract to expire and to have it in the form it’s in now. I feel that in that time I was able to get Lisa written right. I hope that you’ll agree.

About the Author:

I've had three SF novels published: "Monitor," "Lisa's Way," and "Expert Assistance."  I've also had a coming of age novel published called "True Friends." I've had stories and articles appear in periodicals such as Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine; Tales of the Talisman; Space Westerns; Sorcerous Signals; 
Wild West; and Model Railroader. I've had two biographies published, one of "Bleeding Kansas" leader Jim Lane, and the other of a Kansas Civil War general. I've had six Kansas railroad books published by South Platte Press.


Facebook Author Page:

The Friday 56 - The Return to Finkleton

Robert noticed people hurrying past the large shop window.
He could hear people screaming, and others yelling.
He looked through the enormous window to see
what was causing the commotion. Then he saw it.

page 56, Return to Finkleton by KC Hilton

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Review & Giveaway - Song of My Heart

Song of My Heart
BY: Kim Vogel Sawyer
PUBLISHED BY: Bethany House
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0786-0
Pages: 352

    I am a fan of Kim Vogel Sawyer’s writing, so I was more than eager to review her new historical romance, Song of My Heart. Set in 1895, Sadie Wagner leaves her family’s home in Indiana and travels to Kansas. Times are tough and her stepfather is out of work because of health issues. Sadie’s cousin, Sid, had promise her a job as a clerk at the mercantile in Goldtree, Kansas, and there was possibility of another job - as a singer at an opera house. Sadie has always dreamed of being a great singer and now her dream may come true.

    The hero in this tale is Thad McKane, a man who also has a dream. He wants to become a minister, but does not have the money for the training seminars. He arrives in Goldtree after hearing reports of bootleggers in the county. Goldtree is lacking a proper sheriff and Thad volunteers for the job. He is sidetracked by the gorgeous young singer, Sadie, who is performing at Asa Baxter’s mysterious opera house. Thad and Sadie are attracted to each other and romance starts to blossom, but Thad wonders how innocent Sadie is.

    Song of My Heart is a fast-paced, well-written novel. Sadie Wagner is a sweet and innocent character, who is tangled into the wrong situation. Thad is very likable and the character steps outside the generic hero type, making him more realistic. Since this is a Christian romance, I was surprised that the author added the plot of Sid, who attempts to court his own cousin. Overall, I enjoyed the book and I loved that it was set in Kansas, as I am from Missouri. Song of My Heart is one of Kim Vogel Sawyer’s best books.

*I would like to thank Bethany House and Litfuse for sending me a copy to review. 

About the Author: 

Kim Vogel Sawyer is the author of nineteen novels, including several CBA and ECPA bestsellers. Her books have won the ACFW Book of the Year Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Kim is active in her church, where she leads women's fellowship and participates in both voice and bell choirs. In her spare time, she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy. Kim and her husband, Don, reside in central Kansas, and have three daughters and six grandchildren.

She invites you to visit her Web site at for more information.

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Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Review: Cynthia's Attic: The Missing Locket by Mary Cunningham

Cynthia’s Attic: The Missing Locket
BY: Mary Cunningham
PUBLISHED BY: Echelon Press
ISBN: 978-1590804414
Pages: 150
Reviewed by Billy Burgess  

            In the summer of 1964, two twelve-year-old best friends Cynthia and Augusta (everyone calls her ‘Gus’) decided to explore Cynthia’s family attic. Her parents are planning on cleaning it out soon and the girls want to check it out to see if they can find anything they want to keep. The girls come upon an old trunk and are memorized by it. Mysteriously, the girls are swept fifty years into the past, where they try to unravel what happened to Cynthia’s great-great Aunt Belle, who vanished years ago without a trace. While on their adventure, the girls take a ride on the seven seas and they must also try to find a locket that was thought to be lost.

 “The Missing Locket” is the first book in the series that follows in the footsteps of the Nancy Drew, and the Boxcar Children. I can’t believe I let this book sit around in my eBook reader for several months before making time to read it. Being an amateur genealogist myself, I found the premise of traveling back in time to help your ancestors to be intriguing. Now of days, the tween market is full of “Twilight” clones, so it was a bit of fresh air to find an exciting adventure written for kids that doesn’t involve creatures of the night. The main characters are two twelve-year-olds, so I was a bit surprised to see kids at this age to be excited about finding old family heirlooms to be thrilling, but Cynthia’s Attic is set in a more simpler time, before cable, cell phones, video games, and the internet. Despite being a mystery with a bit of a science fiction twist, the book offers great humor between the two girls as they try to change the past. I recommend Cynthia’s Attic: The Missing Locket to readers of all ages.

*I would like to thank the author for sending me a copy to review.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Review & Giveaway - Sixty Acres and a Bride

Sixty Acres and a Bride
BY: Regina Jennings
PUBLISHED BY: Bethany House
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0990-1
Pages: 368

In Regina Jennings’s debut historical romance novel, we, the readers, meet a strong-headed Rosa Garner, who recently lost her husband and father-in-law while hoping to strike rich in the silver mines of Mexico. Along with her grieving mother-in-law, Louise, Rosa arrives at their Texas family ranch, which they had leased out in their absence. To her surprise, she learns that the renters had abandoned their farm and stopped paying the taxes on it. The family owned one hundred and sixty-six dollars, which was a whole lot of money back in 1878, and with only three months until the payment is due! While staying with other relatives of her late husband, a cousin, Weston Garner, returns to Caldwell County and he may be her only savior.

    Sixty Acres and a Bride is a well-written novel and a great first outing for newcomer Regina Jennings. Rosa and Weston are believable characters, but they are not perfect. They do have their flaws, which makes them more realistic. I simply loved how Rosa adapted to her new surrounds and learned the lifestyles of her new family while staying faithful to her own customs and beliefs. I find that romance novels can become stale and predictable, but the author has constructed an original romance. It is a great read and I recommend it to everyone.

*I would like to thank Bethany House and Litfuse for sending me a copy to review.

About the Author:

Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She has worked at The Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City with her husband and four children. Meet Regina here.

Friday, 9 March 2012

The Friday 56 - Cynthia's Attic: The Missing Locket

the Friday 56 is hosted by  Freda's Voice


As I casually glanced up, I caught a reflection
in the ornately carved mirror that was sitting on
top of the antique dresser, and what I saw took my breath away.
I quickly turned toward Cynthia and, to my relief, I saw my friend
of twelve years. But when I looked back into the mirror, I saw a face 
that wasn't mine - a face I recognized as that of my grandmother when she was a young girl.

page 56, Cynthia's Attic: The Missing Locket by Mary Cunningham

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Friday 56 - Sixty Acres and a Bride

Already determined she wouldn't leave the ranch without Rosa,
Molly strained her eyes at the empty road and waited 
for the lumber wagon to appear on its way back to the mill.
The sooner she got them separated the better. Weston's deep
lullaby wrung her heart, and she wasn't nestled against him 
like Rosa manged to be.

page 56, Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings