Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gratitude Giveaway WINNERS!

I am thrilled to have been able to participate in the Gratitude Giveaways hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and All-Consuming Books.  This is the perfect time of year to give away as a way to thank my readers and blog followers.  I hope you have enjoyed stopping by and throwing your hat in for the win!

Here are the books and WINNERS :)

Fiction Ruined My Family (ARC) by Jeanne Darst

Paula Lee

 The Book of Dead Days by Marcus Sedgewick

Jessica @ Book Loving Mommy

Perfectly Crazy by Mitzi Penzes

Kristy Wilson

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog, hopefully I have made a follower out of you :)  Stop back by soon to catch some amazing blog tours I have planned for the upcoming months!

Under the Neon Sky by Jay Rankin: Review

I am excited to share a novel with you that caught my interest right from the first glimpse of the cover.  Under the Neon Sky by Jay Rankin is a must read - one that won't disappoint readers and will make you even more interested in Las Vegas and what happens there.

I want to thank Nurture Your Books Virtual Book Tourz for allowing me to participate in this tour, they are a fantastic PR company for authors promoting their books.

Book Summary:

Under The Neon Sky is a gripping, true story about a Las Vegas Doorman who worked the graveyard shift at one of the major hotels on the Strip. The sights, smells, and page popping characters are unforgettable as we take a journey that will transform how we used to envision the city that never sleeps. We watch as this doorman begins to emotionally break and wonder if he will become broken seeing his friends, his wife, hotel guests, and himself cross too many boundaries in this riveting, page turning story.

About the Author:

Take a step into the Las Vegas you never knew existed, seen through the eyes of a resort employee whose job was to offer the impossible. How do you ensure that boundaries don’t exist for guests while your life is defined by them? How do you maintain a normal life in a city that’s anything but? And most of all, how do you salvage your own soul when you’re drawn to the thrill of ruin? These are the questions with which Rankin wrestles on the pages of Under the Neon Sky.

Rankin, a former probation officer and television host who holds an advanced degree in psychology, worked the graveyard shift as a doorman at the 5,000-room MGM Grand hotel for six years. A memoir of sorts, Rankin’s book tells the true story of this turbulent period in his life.

One thing’s for sure: Vegas is not your average American town, and working as an MGM Grand doorman is not your average briefcase-toting job. Earning a living in Las Vegas is a nonstop thrill ride with an unknown destination. Look over Jay Rankin’s shoulder as he navigates pitfalls and temptations, and gets off the tracks just in time.

He began writing in 1993 and is currently working on his second book, about his life after escaping Vegas. He resides in Los Angeles, California.

Learn more about Jay Rankin by watching an interview done on CNN:

Jay Rankin on the WEB 
Under the Neon Sky on FACEBOOK

My Thoughts:

This story is about as real as it gets...Jay Rankin takes advantage of an eye-opening experience, being front and center in a city that most of us simply wonder about.

This book was such an experience for me, mainly because it is just so different from any life experience I have had.  I have always wondered about Las Vegas and seen it's nightlife portrayed in movies and TV shows, but never have I experienced it like this.  Being that Jay has been in the role that he writes about he has a unique and one-of-a-kind experience that he is able to share with his readers.

One of the most telling parts of this book is that Rankin includes not just the glitz and glamor, but also the tough side of the city and its effect on the people living and working there.  It is interesting to see the evolution of his character as he experiences the not so fulfilling life there and then how those experiences start to alter his own life.

I was fascinated by the descriptions of the inner-workings of the hotels (Rankin worked as a doorman for the MGM.)  He included many little known facts that added a great angle to the novel. 

The great question that came out of this for me is just how fulfilling can a lifestyle such as this really be?  What kind of person could find true happiness among the chaotic life found there.  Rankin does a great job making readers ponder this!

Add to your to-be-read list, you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Entrapped by Barbara Kyle: Review

I am thrilled to share with you an author that I have been following lately and her new book Entrapped. From one glance at the cover I was interested and it reminded me of a foreboding tale that really grabs your attention from line one.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Nurture Your Books Virtual Touz for allowing me to showcase this author and her work.  Thank you!

Book Summary:

Entrapped is a thriller of high stakes: life and death, love, and oil.

Set in Alberta, Entrapped is the story of Liv Gardner, an ambitious young oil executive intent on stopping farmer Tom Wainwright who is sabotaging her rigs after a spill of lethal "sour" gas poisoned his wife. Desperate to save the company she built, Liv plants evidence to frame Tom. But when the evidence is used to indict him for a murder he didn't commit, Liv alone can save him.

"Kyle keeps the cinematic action scenes and nail-biting suspense rolling throughout." Publishers Weekly on "The Experiment" by Barbara Kyle

"Love, betrayal, and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit" Bestselling author T.J. MacGregor on "After Shock" by Barbara Kyle

"A wonderfully intelligent, highly readable, and thoroughly entertaining thriller." New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham on "After Shock" by Barbara Kyle

"Soul-wrenching ... a tale to be read and enjoyed" Toronto Star on "Beyond Recall" by Barbara Kyle

My Thoughts:

The first thing that struck me about this book was the is ominous, foreboding, and thrilling - just like this book!  You just want to find out the story behind that image and for me, someone who judges books by their covers, this one was an attention-getter from the first glance.

If I had to choose just one word to describe this novel it would be thrilling.  There was so much about it that kept you on the edge of your seat, wanting to read on and find out what happens.  I think a big part of that for me was how realistic the story was and since there are elements of truth to the storyline it isn't hard to envision it all happening.

Another bright spot in this novel is the focus on what other alternative energy forms we need to be considering - don't worry, Kyle does not get preachy about it, she just provokes thought in the reader which is a great thing.  And she also makes you ponder just how far you would go to protect what you have and fight for what you want.

I really enjoyed these characters and their story - Liv and Tom were very believable and their stories definitely made this novel a home run.  I would only suggest that Barbara Kyle consider taking this story into another novel, it would be an amazing follow-up to Entrapped

Great job on this novel, definitely add it to your to-read list, and it will make you a certain fan of Barbara Kyle!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Featured Author: G.G. Vandagriff

Boy is it special to be able to feature an author and her work not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES! I am delighted to share her with you and to be able to get to know her better through this interview. She is amazing, and you will want to get your hands on her work as soon as possible!  Many thanks go out to Nurture Your Books Virtual Book Tourz for allowing me to participate in this tour.

 Visit G.G. Vandagriff on the web HERE
Visit G.G. Vandagriff on Facebook HERE

G.G. Vandagriff is the author of the following novels:

 Author Interview:

1. Describe what it’s like to be an author in three words. 

It is stimulating.

2. What is your favorite genre of literature? 

It changes.  At this very moment it is Women’s Fiction (because I just finished The Only Way to Paradise, Women’s Fic.) However, on Monday it will probably change to Historical Romance as I work on my next book.

3. At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I told stories with crayon pictures before I could write right. To the best of my recollection I was four, and living in a dysfunctional family, surviving by dissociating from reality into my fantasy world where people were nice.

4. What would you consider to be the best book you have ever read? 

Anna Karenina

5. What is it that you like to do when you’re not reading/writing? 

Travel and experience different cultures, preferably Italian.

6. How do you react to a bad review of your book? 

I usually write the reviewer (if I feel their criticisms were justified), thank them, and try to do better.

7. Are the names of the characters in your novels important?  How and why? 

Names are very important because they are the first bit of characterization that comes to you about a character.  I absolutely had to change MacKenzie’s husband’s name in Paradise.  It had bad vibes for my best friend (her first husband’s name) and therefore for me.  I changed the name to Kurt, with careful consideration. He is the Richard Armitage strong, silent type, so that was perfect.   Roxie is my favorite character in Paradise, and her name is the same as my beloved, nutty grandmother’s.  I know Nana would have adored Roxie!

8. Who would play you in a film of your life? 

My life has been so crazy and melodramatic that no one would believe it unless it were dramatized by a really fine actress such as a young Meryl Streep or Gwenyth Paltrow.

9. What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer? Good question! 

1.) Someone to support you financially and emotionally.  Writers hardly ever make enough money, and they’re usually “a little touched in their upper works.” I’m bi-polar, so the second is especially important. 2.) Good critics who you can trust to tell you the truth. 3.) A great massage chair (I won one!) or masseuse (I have that too) 4.) If you have children, it is preferable if they are grown up.  5.) A whacky sense of humor and plenty of reasons to laugh. 6.) At least one hour of brainless television per night. 7.) A book to read that isn’t anything like what you are attempting to write. 8.) Someone’s shoulder to cry on 9.) A schedule. 10.) Adderall.

10. Have you ever read or seen yourself as a character in a book or movie?  

There is no one out there that is either as crazy or complex as I am.  I should be a tragic figure, but fate has been kind and I am very blessed.  Know anyone like that?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Author and Book Spotlight: JM Griffin

I am thrilled to feature a great author here on the blog today - JM Griffin writes cozy mysteries that you should definitely add to your to-read list. She is a neat person all around as well and I really enjoyed the opportunity to interview her and spotlight her books.

Much thanks to Marissa over at Sizzling PR for offering a spot in this blog tour!

About the Author:

JM Griffin grew up in the Maine countryside. Inspired by the Nancy Drew mysteries, JM wrote her first story at age twelve.

With 5 books written and more in the works, JM's first book in the Vinnie Esposito series published in February of 2009. The first and second Vinnie Esposito books has been re-released through Lachesis Publishing. The third novel in the series, Dead Wrong, was released in ebook format in October 2010, and the book has been recently released in paperback as of April 2011. Stay tuned for more of the Vinnie Esposito series.

In addition to the Esposito series, JM has written a fun-filled mystery featuring faeries, pixies, murder, tea and cupcakes. Lyrical Press, Inc. presented the ebook on August 16th of 2010. The paper edition was released in June 2011.

Murder on Spy Glass Lane, a novel filled with the antics of Sarah McDougall, a psychic artist, her dog Sparky, a Bassett Hound, and their pirate-like neighbor is ready for publishing. Stay tuned for an update on the progress of this book.

JM and her husband John reside with two wild and crazy cats who rule the roost in New England. Their home is surrounded by a forest, a nearby reservoir and natures creatures.

About the Books:

For the Love of Livvy

After her favorite aunt is found dead and an alarming box is mysteriously left on the doorstep of her aunt's house now legally hers, Lavinia Esposito wants explanations.

But, having cleared the package of explosives, the local cops are dumbfounded by the precious stones which came without an explanation, just an address─her Aunt Livvy's. Frustrated by the cops' refusal to share their theories, criminal justice instructor Lavinia Esposito, a.k.a. Vinnie, takes investigation matters into her own hands.

Vinnie is soon dragged into situations beyond her control, finding herself in hot water with the law, the crooks, and her Italian father.

Willing to put her life at risk to find out what really happened to her beloved Aunt Livvy, and why jewels would be addressed to her aunt, Vinnie plunges ahead with her usual tenacity, bravery, and keen wits to solve and survive this mystery.


Dead Wrong

The race is on to save Lavinia “Vinnie” Esposito in the third book in the Esposito series.

After finding a dead man, Vinnie realizes she has become embroiled in yet another crazy situation involving stolen art, proving her twin brother’s innocence, and saving her own neck.

State trooper Marcus Richmond and FBI agent Aaron Grant are back to help Vinnie find the culprit while keeping her out of harm’s way. That's a task to try the most patient of men, because Vinnie isn't about to let a lead go stale because she's waiting for back up.

A sleuth with attitude, Vinnie Esposito is back!

Dirty Trouble
Someone is stalking Vinnie Esposito. But that’s just the start of her problems…

Criminal justice instructor Vinnie Esposito is having a very bad day. After barely escaping serious injury in a car accident, Vinnie runs into a former adversary she suspects is stalking her. Then she learns her 60-year-old aunt has been arrested and is palling around with mobsters. Suddenly Vinnie finds herself over her head in trouble – dirty trouble. It’s an awkward situation to say the least for someone who’s constantly surrounded by law-enforcement contacts – including the hunky State Trooper Marcus Richmond and FBI agent Aaron Grant.


If you're interested, they go chronologically like this:

1st: For the Love of Livvy
2nd: Dirty Trouble
3rd: Dead Wrong

Author Interview:

1. What is it that you like to do when you’re not reading/writing? 

I enjoy creating artwork. Painting and pen & ink are my favorite mediums.

2.  How do you react to a bad review of your book? 

At first I’m disappointed and somewhat annoyed, but when I reconsider the review, I try to find something positive in it that will help my work become stronger.

3. Are the names of the characters in your novels important?  How and why? 

They are important, especially if the characters have a strong ethnic background. I try to bring in names that will resonate with my readers.

4. Who would play you in a film of your life? 

That’s a great question. I hadn’t given it any thought really.

5. What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

Getting exercise, and creating time for myself away from the WIP. Take breaks often so my refreshed when you return to the story. Of course, if I’m in the middle of an epiphany concerning the story line, then I stay with it.

6. Have you ever read or seen yourself as a character in a book or movie?

Certainly.  I think when a book or movie is well done, it should feel possible that a person could be that character.

7. What do you find to be the biggest challenge when writing? 

Keeping the story moving forward. Sometimes I get swallowed up in dialogue that doesn’t help the characters keep going.

8. What do you think is the sole purpose of books? 

I think of books as a form of escapism and entertainment. I like to read a story that takes place in a location that I’ve never been to, with characters who faces problems that I’ve never encountered. Best of all, I like some humor in the novels I read.

9. How would you convince a young person to pursue writing? 

I would ask about their life, their interests and then encourage them to put a story on paper, (or computer) and enlarge upon it. I would be honest when they asked questions about writing and the hard work involved. I have been to elementary schools to speak about writing and I’m constantly awed by the intelligence of the children in the classroom. I always have a Q&A session that blows my mind. These kids ask questions that make you wonder how old they really are. Like 10 going on 25, maybe? :>)

10. Do you enjoy giving interviews? 

I do enjoy them and in front of a live audience is great fun.

11. How much impact does your childhood have on your writing? 

My siblings were much older than I and went to private schools where they lived most of the year. This left me alone a lot and we lived in a very rural area of Maine, so I had limited access to playmates. Therefore, I had many private conversations in action stories with mysteries attached to them involving my invisible characters. I have been an avid reader all my life and Nancy Drew was my heroine. She always saved the day and, yes, I imagined I was her.

12. What was the greatest thing you learned in school? 

To persevere, and that writing and storytelling is one of the greatest gifts in life. I had an English teacher in high school who was a stern person, but who had a heart of gold. She encouraged me when no one else did, and for that I will forever be grateful.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Black Lust by Karyn Gerrard - Book Spotlight

I am thrilled to share with you a new book by Karyn Gerrard - Black Lust.  Thanks go out to Marissa at Sizzling PR for allowing me to take part in this blog tour :)

Book Summary:

Lucius Black lives a debauched and wild nightlife. Being a ‘Quarter’ (1/4 vampire), blood and lust are what he is. However, his existence wears thin after a century of hedonistic pleasure.

Trevina Patterson lives a quiet, happy life running a hair salon in a village on the east coast of the United Kingdom. It was a perfect life and all she could ask for, until a chance encounter with Lucius Black.

What was it about him that was so unsettling and yet so attractive?

For Lucius, no woman had ever been enough, until Trevina. She awakened in him feelings he had not thought possible. Passions considered by him to be little more than vampiric mythology. She awakened lust.

Karyn Gerrard on the WEB
Karyn Gerrard on TWITTER
Karyn Gerrard on FACEBOOK

*Adult content in this post

Friday, November 25, 2011

Entrapped by Barbara Kyle Blog Tour: Author Guest Post

I am thrilled to share with you an author that I have been following lately and her new book Entrapped. From one glance at the cover I was interested and it reminded me of a foreboding tale that really grabs your attention from line one.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Nurture Your Books Virtual Touz for allowing me to showcase this author and her work.  Thank you!

Book Summary:

Entrapped is a thriller of high stakes: life and death, love, and oil.

Set in Alberta, Entrapped is the story of Liv Gardner, an ambitious young oil executive intent on stopping farmer Tom Wainwright who is sabotaging her rigs after a spill of lethal "sour" gas poisoned his wife. Desperate to save the company she built, Liv plants evidence to frame Tom. But when the evidence is used to indict him for a murder he didn't commit, Liv alone can save him.

About the Author:

How do you make God laugh? Make a plan. I studied classical theater (Shakespeare, Shaw, Moliere, Congreve) at the National Theater School of Canada, planning a “distinguished stage career," and then spent the next twenty years acting mostly on television in made-for-TV movies, series, sit-coms, and soap opera. But I thoroughly enjoyed all that TV work, and I did use my stage training too, performing in dozens of plays across Canada and in the US. I loved being an actor.

Barbara Kyle on the web HERE 
Enter my Giveaway for TWO of Barbara Kyle's Books HERE

A New Prospect by Wayne Zurl Blog Tour: Author Interview

Wayne Zurl has stopped by my blog today to share with you what I think is one of the best interviews I have ever done. Author of A New Prospect, he is fascinating and I very much enjoyed "getting to know" him!

Thanks to Nurture Your Books Virtual Tours for the opportunity to showcase Mr. Zurl's work!

Book Summary:

Sam Jenkins never thought about being a fish out of water during the twenty years he spent solving crimes in New York. But things change, and after retiring to Tennessee, he gets that feeling. Jenkins becomes a cop again and is thrown headlong into a murder investigation and a steaming kettle of fish, down-home style.

The victim, Cecil Lovejoy, couldn't have deserved it more. His death was the inexorable result of years misspent and appears to be no great loss, except the prime suspect is Sam's personal friend.

Jenkins' abilities are attacked when Lovejoy's influential widow urges politicians to reassign the case to state investigators.

Feeling like "a pork chop at a bar mitzvah" in his new workplace, Sam suspects something isn't kosher when the family tries to force him out of the picture.

In true Jenkins style, Sam turns common police practice on its ear to insure an innocent man doesn't fall prey to an imperfect system and the guilty party receives appropriate justice.

A NEW PROSPECT takes the reader through a New South resolutely clinging to its past and traditional way of keeping family business strictly within the family.

A Motivation to Write...and Write Well by Wayne Zurl

Wayne Zurl has stopped by my blog today to share his thoughts on getting motivated to write, and write well.  I am thrilled to have him "visit" my blog today because this is always something I struggle with as a teacher. 

Thanks to Nurture Your Books Virtual Tours for the opportunity to showcase Mr. Zurl's work!

A Motivation to Write . . . and Write Well

I don’t think anyone has suggested a better topic.

It’s 2011 and the world economy stinks. In the US, it’s almost impossible to find a job. If you’re lucky enough to get hired, you should concentrate on keeping that job. If you like your position and you have half a brain, you’ll think about advancing within the organization.

Here’s a fact of life: Many jobs require you to write . . . something during some phase of your job. Maybe it’s a letter to a potential customer explaining why they should choose you over the competition. Perhaps management wants you to explain your reason for changing a procedure and adding efficiency to their operation—an idea that may make you famous within the company. Or maybe you have to justify your request for a transfer, promotion, or a raise.

As a soldier, I had to write reports for various reasons. Few people associate the two jobs. As a police officer, I wrote so many reports that if they were on toilet paper, they’d encircle the world at least twice.

Another fat of life: Often the ultimate authority reading your written word has never met you. Your immediate supervisor may know you and think you’re a great worker and a nice kid. So may middle-management, but maybe the big boss can only judge you by what you’ve written. Write poorly and the other guy gets the customer, your co-worker gets the preferred assignment, or you don’t get that raise.

Maybe a well-constructed love letter gets you the mate of your dreams.

Write carelessly, poorly constructed paragraphs and you could live your life poor and lonely.

Doing it well only makes sense.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Book Spotlight: Silent Night's Seduction

Every now and then you need to put a good romance story in your to-be-read pile and Clarissa Yip's story Silent Night's Seduction is the perfect one to pick up right around the holidays - the release date is November 28th.  Many thanks to Marissa at Sizzling PR for allowing me to participate in this blog tour - I am excited to spotlight this book right before the holidays!

Book Summary:

Stubborn and proud cowgirl, Lily McCormick, is finally coming to terms with her quiet life on her parent’s ranch, until her older brother, as payback, signs her up for 1NightStand. Kidnapped and forced onto a plane to a foreign location, she faces the dreaded cold and an unwanted tryst, until her ex-husband appears before her…as her date.

New York City District Attorney, Rafe Martinez, would do anything to get his ex-wife back, even if it meant taking drastic measures to pretend he was there for another woman. When jealousy and rage surfaces and Lily’s tough demeanor wanes, desire and lust sparks their once powerful connection as truths unfold. Will Rafe convince her to return to him or push her further away from giving their love a second chance?

Visit Clarissa on the web HERE
Clarissa on Facebook HERE
Clarissa on Twitter HERE

Get your copy on sale from Decadent Publishing on 
November 28th!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

GIVEAWAY! 5 Print Copies of The Way of the Eagle Up For Grabs!

As part of the New Author Blog Hop my featured author, D.E. Lamont has offered to give away FIVE print copies of her book, The Way of the Eagle.  I am delighted to have you enter this giveaway, you WON'T be disappointed in this read and D.E. is sure to become on of your favorites too!

Book Summary:

Honored as an Award-Winning Finalist in the Visionary Fiction category of The USA "Best Books 2011" Awards, sponsored by USA Book News


In THE WAY OF THE EAGLE: AN EARLY CALIFORNIA JOURNEY OF AWAKENING, Tongva brave Tacu struggles to understand and survive the baffling and often dangerous lessons of Takoda, his mysterious spiritual mentor, so he will be allowed to travel to the Place of the Stones to undergo his formal initiation into manhood. Only by doing so can he earn back the respect of his peers and court the maiden he loves, for he is now shunned by the village as a despicable coward. But he is being held to a different and difficult path by Takoda. He must learn life lessons that prepare him not just for his present life, but for all the ages to come. Tacu never imagines the crucial impact these teachings will have on him or how dramatically his life will change before his journey to manhood is complete.

New Author BLOG Hop - I'm Featuring D.E. Lamont Author of The Way of the Eagle!

I am delighted to be participating in the New Author Blog Hop hosted by Of Thoughts and Words and Oh! For the Love of Books!

When I saw this opportunity I immediately emailed my best author friend and asked her to partner with me and participate.  I have been dying for another opportunity to showcase her and her work!  I hope you enjoy this author and her work as much as I have!

I am featuring D.E. Lamont and her novella The Way of the Eagle: An Early California Journey of Awakening.  Here's all the information you need to get ready for a great new read to add to your TBR list:

The Way of the Eagle: An Early California Journey of Awakening, by D.E. Lamont, has just been honored as an Award-Winning Finalist in the Visionary Fiction category of The USA "Best Books 2011" Awards, sponsored by USA Book News.

D.E. Lamont’s book features a rare people, the Tongva, the "People of the Earth," who were the original inhabitants of Los Angeles. They were driven to near extinction over the last four and a half centuries and currently number about 2,000 descendants. Unlike other tribes, they have no reservation land to call their own. D.E. Lamont, who was raised in their homeland, wished to honor the Tongva and let more people know about them and their rich culture through her story, which is set in the period just before the encroachment of Spain.

Synopsis:  In The Way of the Eagle, a young Tongva man is being held to a different path by his mysterious spiritual mentor.  He struggles to understand and survive these baffling and dangerous lessons so he can finally, years late, go to the Place of the Stones and undergo his spiritual initiation into manhood ... to regain the respect of his fellow villagers, and to win the love of a girl - for he is now considered a despicable coward.  But first he must  pass other difficult tests. He never guesses how much his life will change before his journey is done.

Where can you buy the book?

About the Author:
Not only am I excited to share D.E. with you as an amazing author, she has become an amazing friend over the past few months - I am delighted to have come into a friendship with such an awesome person!

D.E. Lamont worked as an independent nonfiction editor from the 1980s through 2010, when she focused in on her writing. D.E. Lamont writes nonfiction under the name Daveda Lamont. She has co-authored the nonfiction books "TAKING CHARGE OF YOUR STROKE RECOVERY: A Personal Recovery Workbook" with Roger & Kathy Maxwell, and "BECOMING A TRUE CHAMPION: Achieving Athletic Excellence from the Inside Out," with Kirk Mango - due out from Rowman & Littlefield in spring 2012. She is presently working on the sequel to THE WAY OF THE EAGLE and another full-length novel.

D.E. Lamont grew up in the mushrooming residential developments of the San Fernando Valley of Southern California in the 1950s and 60s. She and her brothers explored the wild chaparral-covered hills and canyons, where they found signs of former Native American inhabitants. These discoveries excited her interest in earlier times and left her with the haunting impression that many stories about these mysterious, missing people waited to be told.

Only many years later did she learn about the original people of Los Angeles, the Tongva, who had been driven to near extinction over the last four and a half centuries by the European and other conquerors. She wished to honor the Tongva and let more people know about them through her story, which is set in the period just before the encroachment of Spain. Today roughly 2,000 descendants of the Tongva live in Southern California.

D. E. Lamont lives with her husband and beloved birds and plants in an apartment overlooking the Hudson River, which at rare, magical times transforms into a mystical rolling river of clouds--hence, the name of her indie publishing imprint Cloud River Press.

D.E. on the WEB

Reviews of the Novel:

"The spiritual tale of a young Native American from the days before the Spanish arrived in California.... There is hardly a word out of place ... what is most commendable is the precision and unpretentiousness of the prose while still managing to invoke the intense quality of Tacu's visionary quest and moving nature of his movement."
                 - Kirkus Reviews

"A wonderful story that thoroughly entertains while teaching spiritual values and some history of an important culture in our world. It should be in every school library; it's relevant for adults but how important for our children growing up today with similar moral issues, and what an aesthetic way to help them as they struggle to find themselves and their own truths rather than just going along with the crowd.  The artwork and story are in beautiful harmony."
                - Mo Bairdi

"The author deftly weaves an exquisitely rich tapestry of spiritual wisdom, adorned with ornate imagery, and intertwined with the profoundly learned wealth of lives lived close to the beating heart of Mother Earth."
                 - Barbara Anne Dunn, recipient of the IGHA Legion of St. Francis Award for her work in equine welfare

My Review:

The Way of the Eagle: An Early California Journey of Awakening by D.E. Lamont is a quick, short read but one definitely worth a reader's time.

I really enjoyed this book, and felt like it was a real tribute to a culture and a people that are worth recognizing and honoring. Like many Native American tribes, the Tongva "People of the Earth" were a people whose culture and way of life were wiped away when Europeans entered North America.

D.E. Lamont uses the story of Tacu, a young Tongva brave and his journey to manhood as a way to show readers how very special this culture was. Throughout the book, the author weaves in the spiritual beliefs of the culture and parallels them with the importance of self-reliance as shown through Tacu's journey. We follow him as he prepares to become a man, and his uncle teaches him that at those times when his own understanding surpasses something taught during the traditional initiation ceremony, he should seek approval from within himself. The message of this story is that we all need to look within ourselves for approval, rather than from those around us.

The author's writing style comes across as effortless...when I was reading, it seemed as if I were right there, finding the path to my own self-reliance along with Tacu and I imagine that is just the way the author wanted it. To put it more plainly, she certainly has a way with words!

Like with most books I read, while the story was truly amazing, one of the most beneficial and interesting parts of the book was the "About the Author" section where D.E. Lamont explains the facts behind the Tongva culture, their demise, and the efforts being made to restore it for the remaining descendents and our country.

I would be remiss if I didn't also acknowledge the illustrator of this book, Jon H. Soeder. The author states that" his contribution to The Way of the Eagle is especially meaningful not only because of the dimension his cover art and beautiful illustrations add, but because of his sensitivity to the natural world and its creatures." I would wholeheartedly agree, and add that the illustrations were done so beautifully and thoughtfully that they added the perfect element to accompany the written text.

D.E. also offers an amazing blog that I highly recommend to all readers - there is a piece she just recently wrote about how Native American spirituality and everyday life are so interwoven. It, along with the book, should be required reading for high school my opinion of course!

GIVEAWAYS - The Queen's Gamble and Entrapped by Barbara Kyle

As part of Nurture Your Books blog tour for Barbara Kyle's Entrapped she is offering two amazing giveaways that you want to take part in!  Each of the giveaways is listed in this post with the forms to make it easy.  Fill out both!

Winners will be contacted and announced on November 30th.

Please fill out the form below to enter my giveaway for an eBook version of Entrapped by Barbara Kyle.  This giveaway is available internationally.

Set in Alberta, Entrapped is the story of Liv Gardner, an ambitious young oil executive intent on stopping farmer Tom Wainwright who is sabotaging her rigs after a spill of lethal "sour" gas poisoned his wife. Desperate to save the company she built, Liv plants evidence to frame Tom. But when the evidence is used to indict him for a murder he didn't commit, Liv alone can save him.

Fill out the form below to enter my giveaway for a print AND eBook copy of The Queen's Gamble by Barbara Kyle.  This giveaway is for U.S./Canada residents only.

Young Queen Elizabeth I's path to the throne has been a perilous one, and already she faces a dangerous crisis. French troops have landed in Scotland to quell a rebel Protestant army, and Elizabeth fears once they are entrenched on the border, they will invade England.

Isabel Thornleigh has returned to London from the New World with her Spanish husband, Carlos Valverde, and their young son. Ever the queen's loyal servant, Isabel is recruited to smuggle money to the Scottish rebels. Yet Elizabeth's trust only goes so far—Isabel's son will be the queen's pampered hostage until she completes her mission. Matters grow worse when Isabel's husband is engaged as military advisor to the French, putting the couple on opposite sides in a deadly cold war.

Set against a lush, vibrant backdrop peopled with unforgettable characters and historical figures, The Queen's Gamble is a story of courage, greed, passion, and the high price of loyalty. . .

True Grime by Natasha Deen - REVIEW

I had the pleasure of reading a great new book by Natasha Deen - True Grime.  This was all about faeries and fantasy and it really did capture and keep my interest as a reader!

Let me begin my review by stating how darn creative this author is!  I am captivated by her wild imagination and by how much of it she put into this novel.  I am insanely jealous as she put onto the pages of this novel gadgets, characters and a story that I could not even begin to imagine.

I loved the idea of characters entering the human world on a mission...and I always appreciate a storyline that tests the characters ability to "mesh" with the human experience.  Pepper's experiences in particular were hilarious and entertaining.  While some other reviews I have read mentioned that Pepper was a difficult character to identify with at first, I thought exactly the opposite.  I loved her from the jump and knew she would either make or break this novel - she made it!

The author does a great job introducing a whole spectrum of characters that entice the reader's imagination and stretch the limits of what we think we know.  I enjoyed each and every one of them as they came in and out of the story.

I highly recommend this fantasy adventure to my blog readers - you won't be disappointed.  Additionally, as a middle-school teacher I can see my students really enjoying this read too.  This is something that they would really get into!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

True Grime by Natasha Deen: Book Spotlight

I am delighted to participate in Partners In Crime's blog tour of Natasha Deen's young adult urban fantasy, mystery novel True Grime.  As a middle-school teacher I am always on the lookout for great young adult selections so I was definitely on board when this tour was announced!

Book Summary:

Grime cop and teen fairy Pepper Powder lives for one thing: protecting the human species from magical zealots who seek to eradicate them with Violent Illness of Unusual Resistance and Strength (humans call them “viruses,” but their mistake is understandable. The very young often get their words wrong.). When a terrorist leader releases a necrophage bomb, it not only decimates Grime headquarters, it turns Pepper into the magical world’s first fairy amputee—but she’s not going to let a little thing like a missing leg stop her. To catch her criminal, and prevent him from unleashing a VIURS in one of the human world’s biggest shopping centers, West Edmonton Mall, she goes undercover as a human. But once Pepper's theories of humanity collide with the reality of bullies, cliques, and environmental destruction, will she still believe humanity's worth saving?

About the Author:

What is there to say about me?  I was born under the sign of the Dragon, I live for husband’s cooking (and couldn't live WITHOUT it--I've been known to burn water), and I can still remember the words to the opening credits of Jem (truly, outrageous)…

When I was little, there was only one thing I wanted to be: a superhero.  Who didn’t love superheroes (other than the super villains, I mean)?  Everyone cheered for the Bats, loved Flash, and was envious of Wonder Woman’s invisible plane (though, I was envious of her ability to find it), but I wanted to do more than cheer. I wanted to fly, to lift buildings and deflect bullets, and I’ll admit it, I wanted to wear the cape.

I trained hard to achieve my goal. I learned to hide in shadows, to creep down the hallways, stealth-like, wear disguises, and change in telephone booths (much to the horror of my parents).  But there came a day when my dreams were broken, and that was the day I realized that being a klutz was not, in fact, a super power, and my super weakness for anything bright and shiny meant a magpie with self-control could easily defeat me in a battle of wills.

What was a superhero in training to do?

I turned to writing as a way to sharpen my mental super-hero skills, and as a way to bide my time until I can hone my klutzy nature into a superpower. I don’t get to orbit the earth in a space station (and thank God, because I get sick on merry go round), but I do get to say things like: “Stand aside! This is a job for Writing Girl!!”

(The Grown-Up Version)

Natasha Deen graduated from the University of Alberta with a B.A. in psychology.  An advocate for vulnerable groups, she's worked with the provincial government’s Children’s Services department as well as with non-profit agencies dedicated to helping functionally illiterate adults, and differently-abled people.  Realizing the power of allegory and myths to affect change in the lives of those around her, she turned to full time writing in 2005.  Under the pseudonym Bronwyn Storm, she is a multi-published author with The Wild Rose Press.  Her novel, Ethan’s Chase, was nominated for a 2008 CAPA Award for excellence in romance.  When not working on her manuscripts, she is a writing instructor and editor to teens, adults and children, and uses the template of the story to teach conflict resolution, empowerment and the “why” behind human behavior.  Natasha is a member of the Writers' Guild of Alberta, the Canadian Authors' Association, the Young Alberta Book Society, and sits on the board of YouthWrite.  She is also a co-founder of the Edmonton Writing Group.

Natasha on TWITTER

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Only Way to Paradise by G.G. Vandagriff - REVIEW

I am so pleased to be hosting a second stop on G.G. Vandagriff's blog tour with Nurture Your Books Virtual Tourz. She is a phenomenal author and you are not going to want to miss her books! Add her to your to-be-read pile, I promise you won't be disappointed.

This tour has been fantastic and I am honored to have been included!

Book Summary:

What causes picture-perfect suburban Oakwood residents, MacKenzie, Roxie, Sara, and Georgia to desert their therapist fly off to Florence? Answer: A romantic Italian movie that prompts Roxie to ask: “If Italy is so healing and therapeoutic what are we doing in Ohio?”

Even Sara, the most duty-bound of the group, finally joins the pact they dub “The Crazy Ladies of Oakwood,” and they all find themselves in Florence a week later. As they feel themselves embraced by the entire province of Tuscany, each woman falls and becomes entangled in experiences she could never have foretold. Not only do they find the fascinating Italian men that Georgia promised, but new sides to themselves and each other.

Against the glittering background of Florence, their dramas play out: MacKenzie returns to her student days as an art historian, discarding her identity as the controlling Oakwood charity patron and society hostess. Renewing her acquaintance with the David, she vows to let herself be sculpted rather than trying to sculpt others. MacKenzie finds not only a new talent, but a new man who appreciates it, just as her husband decides to re-enter her life. Roxie, who has always approached life as a circus, is drawn unwillingly into a passionate romance with a gorgeous Italian professor, Stefano. Her physical response to Stefano taps into lost memories, causing her to literally run from him. Roxie, normally a colorful Cubana, senses danger in visions and smells that resurface of a rotting summerhouse behind her Florida home. With his nurturing and passionate love, Stefano helps her to face the “broken piece” inside her.

Sara, a Xanax addict, unveils part of her that no one but her instructors knows. She is an extraordinarily talented concert violinist. Normally trapped in the demanding life of an ob-gyn (scripted for her by her Vietnamese immigrant parents), she is temporarily freed. She performs for others for the first time, and experiences unprecedented joy. She also falls in love unexpectedly with a man who is not only a famous Chinese actor, but has a mysterious side business. Her defense of him gives her the courage to loose the vice-like hold of her parents and step into her own script. Georgia, a grieving widow, processes her life without Ben and without her violin career that ended early because of arthritis. Looking for a new passion in life, she finds that satisfaction comes to her in “giving back” to those around her the lessons and knowledge she has learned through her successes and mistakes in La Dolce Vita. Just as her perspective is changing, she reunites with her first love, Arturo, and must make a decision about the direction of her future life.

Though ages have passed since the rebirth called the Renaissance, Florence still inspires change by breathing out its creative mix of energy, beauty, and courage. Where Michelangelo “set free” the David by sculpting a block of marble, each “crazy lady” finds her exterior “Oakwood” self burnished away by new experiences, revealing a new self. This burnishing is not a gentle process, but exuberant Italians help them through it with their all-embracing agape, or unconditional love. Though they do not know it, each of them hungers for agape’s healing power. They discover in it a balm that binds them together and puts them on the road to recovery, the road that is “The Only Way to Paradise.” Enjoy this first of four novels of self-discovery and romance.