Friday, July 8, 2011

The Blossoming of the World: Essays and Images by Brian H. Peterson

The Blossoming of the World: Essays and Images. Brian H. Peterson. Tell Me Press, LLC. July 2011. 256 pp. with photographs. ISBN #: 9780981983585.

Brian H. Peterson has a definite, creative way with words and photographs! Add to that this is a unique look at life, with emphasis that life is just as much about contradictions as it is about the every day observations and experiences we all encounter in our life's journey. Take for example a meditation on September 23, 1987 in which the author describes nature's effects, "a certain, inexplicable warmth...from the center of my being and I begin to feel whole, complete" and a paragraph later, "Sometimes when I sit in the woods as I am now, I feel empty. Not void or dark, but more like a house whose doors and windows stand wide open while the wind blows through."

Perhaps the reader will find the comments about Oprah quite different from the public's normally empathic reaction to her problems with weight loss and popularity. Either way one sees it, honesty is what one finds in these pages. Yet at the same time, we are told that "empathy and compassion and 'do unto others' have become part of my wiring, my DNA." Numerous comments like these are not only refreshing but deeply inspiring for their lack of triteness and their frankness without any ego-enhancement. It is what it is!

Or perhaps the reader will be intrigued by the thoughts and feelings the author experiences about The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, a tale that excites the imagination because it binds the soul, remakes the author in its image, includng the dark voices within it elicits. Some wonderful pages describe the faith in each other, in the "simple necessity to love and be loved" that his parents knew in their elder years.

Nature is gorgeously, wildly, and enigmaticlaly presented in numerous photographs mixed throughout these short essays.

The Blossoming of the World... defies a neat, tidy summary. It's a tough and tender book to slowly relish, ponder, revisit, and share with others who hunger for embracing the finest and richest values and aspects of a life truly lived well! Put this on your gift list not only for everyone you love - and don't love - but especially for your own true self!

Arms Wide Open: A Midwife's Journey by Patricia Harman

Arms Wide Open: A Midwife's Journey. Patricia Harman. Beacon Press. April 2011. 324 pp. ISBN #: 9780807001387.

Patricia Harman's second memoir tells the story of her hippie years and later her years as a married woman developing and practicing the science and art of midwifery. For those old enough to remember, we recognize in her character a true hippie who protests the Vietnam war, rejects everything about living a wealthy lifestyle that destroys the environment, and protests any forum that would be considered traditional or conservative. It's a time when draft-dodgers are running to Canada or sticking around to protest not only war but the development of nuclear arms or projects. Yes, the lifestyle is free and the possibilities seem endless!

Patricia Harman performs a wonderful balancing act within this well-crafted memoir! Pages fly by in which the reader seems to be right there with Patricia, Stacy, and her son, Mica, in the wilds of a Minnesota farm, hating and loving the vicious cold and snow in one moment and treasuring the rich colors, flowers, and animals seen in a place far from civilization. Or one is there singing community songs while sharing work and play in good and bad times. It's risky business, however, and the onset of illness and running out of money can turn one's Utopia into a fearful nightmare!

As time passes, the causes' force seems to lose potency, and their commune friends are leaving for other livelier places. But after a painful break with Stacy, Patricia meets Tom, a man who seems more level-headed and whose passion for medicine is equally shared. They both study in their respective fields, with financial help, get married, and begin careers in ob/gyn and midwifery often fraught with problems that could destroy them in the blink of an eye. It's the early days of wanting natural childbirth and many aspiring mothers lack the medical care or intelligence to know both the risks and the benefits of giving birth in such a way. Add to that the obvious opposition of the accepted medical world!

Arms Wide a well-written, wonderful read that deserves a large audience both for its excellent writing style and for the historical development of an unknown medical phenomenon depicted so intelligently, scientifically, and naturally! Truly Superb, Ms. Harman!

A Cure to Die For by Stephen G. Mitchell

A Cure to Die For. Stephen G. Mitchell. Creative Artists Publishing. July 2011. 360 pp. pb. ISBN #: 9780983206002.

The premise of this novel is quite simple, but don't underestimate it at all! Alex Farmer, Maury Bernstein and Joe Angolia grew up and cherished a deep friendship that only sharing childhood in New Jersey could bond and deepen. Maury was the scientific nerd, Alex a wanderer until he turned to medicine, and Joe was the less intelligent one who found shady ways of making a fortune in a hedge fund career. Parting ways to a certain degree as they grew older, Alex receives a mysterious message warning him to stay away but implying he should come to help Maury in every possible way. Alex responds but too late, as Maury has just been shot in the back at the top of a wintry Montana mountain!

After talking to Cyd, Betty, and Otis, friends of Maury, Alex learns that Maury had found two plants, marijuana and a plant called Death Star, that when combined held the key to a cure for cancer, pain, leukemia, and numerous other death-dealing diseases! The problem is that Sam Seeley, the owner of a major drug company, Rxon, knows about the discovery and is determined to destroy every vestige of the drug and its parts. He won't stop at anything, including murder!

The story seems pat, but now the author shows his creativity in how, after facing numerous threats and attacks that keep the reader reeling with tension, they manage to share the drug and eventually indirectly bypass their enemies. The story seems unreal but is all too plausible about how such a discovery would threaten the business of drugs and medicine. There have been comments over the years that such a discovery has actually been made but has been squelched.

A Cure to Die For is an amazing, adventurous, conflict-driven, and miraculous tale that will appeal to anyone with a compassionate heart and trouble those who thrive on a monopoly of care that accepts disease and death for the sake of great wealth! Stephen G. Mitchell's novel leaves the reader thinking and watching the news regarding the state of health care with a wider perspective than one had before the reading! Wonderful - may its outcome become reality! Well-done, Stephen G. Mitchell!

Crude Deception: A Novel by Gordon Zuckerman

Crude Deception: A Novel. Gordon Zuckerman. Greenleaf Book Group Press. June 2011. 288 pp. pb. ISBN #: 9781608321438.

Crude Deception is the second book in The Sentinels series. The Sentinels are a group of well-connected people who perform various missions that protect American interests on a global basis. They discover that the major oil companies in America have formed a monopoly that will ever prevent anyone from entering the market in any part of the world. The difference to take note is that this takes place in the 1950s, and the story seems to really be about the formation of OPEC, an irony indeed considering its power and sphere of influence today.

However, to take one back to the time of this novel, the Sentinels come to experience the same government officials, lobbyists, business CEOs, etc. who are in the pockets of the major oil companies. The President and other officials have a better idea, to create an agency that will open up the market to the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. It takes considerable risk for Jacques and Claudia Roth, as well as Mike Stone and Cecilia Chang, to begin the intelligence, form a plan, travel to places yielding financial support, and so on in order for their plan to develop.

As they inch forward each step, the threats change to life and death attacks. For the "Oil Club," as it is known, is more powerful than ordinary citizens realize and just as immoral and illegal in many of its actions guaranteeing its continued monopoly.

To say more would be a spoiler. Suffice to say, Crude Deception is an action-packed, intelligent adventure into the world of big business with some espionage, intelligence and counter-intelligence to exhilarate readers galore. Finely crafted story that reads more like reality than fiction!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Avery Flynn QandA - Interview - Part One

Avery Flynn
UP A DRY CREEK (The Dry Creek Series)
June 2011
Evernight Publishing/E-Book/Original/$5.99


Up a Dry Creek is the first of your novels to be published [An Evernight Publishing E-Book / Original/June 2011/ /$5.99]. Had you completed other manuscripts before this? If so, what’s going on with them?
No, Up a Dry Creek is my first novel. I’d been writing it in my head for years before I finally put my fingers to the keyboard.

How does it feel to have your very first novel published?
Better than sipping a Mai Tai on a private beach - or at least better than I imagine that feeling. I’ve lived with Claire and Jake and all the crazy inhabitants of Dry Creek, Nebraska for so long that I can’t wait to introduce them to the world.

Up a Dry Creek is set in Nebraska. What part? Why this setting? Does the area have special meaning for you?
Up a Dry Creek is set in Western Nebraska, which just happens to be where I grew up. I won’t lie, being a teenager in fly over country is not exciting. When I graduated from high school, I couldn’t cross the state line fast enough. I went all the way to Missouri. Hey, baby steps, baby steps. Of course, the older I got and the farther I moved away, the more I realized what an amazing place Nebraska had been to live. Also, I had to spend a lot of time convincing the big city types that we had indoor plumbing and other modern amenities. Frankly, I got sick of Nebraska being the butt of all the hick jokes and I swore I’d set a novel in Nebraska to give people a look into the amazing folks who live in my home state.

Are there advantages to having a small town setting? Was a small town intrinsic to the story you wanted to tell or do you think it could have taken place in a big city setting?
There’s just no way Up a Dry Creek would have worked in a big city. The small town vibe was intrinsic to the plot and Claire just wouldn’t have been Claire in a big city. She’s a small town girl with big dreams and enough stubbornness to make them come true in her home town. I think small towns are a kind of real estate underdog. I just naturally root for small town residents in other authors’ books, such as Debbie Macomber’s and Toni Blake’s.

What attributes do you share with Claire and Jake? Dexterity? Able to run long distances even in bare feet? Impetuous?
Oh, I wish it was the running or dexterity. Instead I share Claire’s lack of cooking skills and Jake’s inability to stop himself from saying the first thing that comes to mind. Some would say I share their stubbornness, but they would be wrong. Of course.

How did you learn so much about guns and other weapons? Have you ever learned to shoot?
I don’t know how to shoot, but it is on my list of things to learn. Most of my firearms information from not being afraid to ask the stupid questions and I have many friends in law enforcement who are kind enough to answer all of them.

Jake and Claire are both alphas—did you plan them that way or did they surprise you?
There is nothing better in the world than two alphas facing off against each other. I love a strong woman and a tough man. When Claire appeared in my head one day as I drove down the road, I knew she was my girl. Same with Jake. They’re just right for each other. They’d mow over anyone who wasn’t an alpha.

Who are some real-life alphas you admire?
I admire anyone who is passionate, intelligent and willing to stand up for what they believe. In today’s world it’s easy to become cynical and believe only the worst of people, but every once in a while you read a story in the newspaper or see something on the TV news and it restores your faith in humanity. Stories like the off-duty firefighter who rushes into a burning building; the stranger who stops a kidnapping in progress; or the anonymous donation that keeps a food pantry running. Those are the real life alphas I admire.

You write really wonderful and sexy scenes between Jake and Claire. But you manage to keep the sexual tension high throughout Up a Dry Creek. Why is that important to your story? Any tips for other writers on how to maintain such a strong level of attraction?
Thank you! I think sex is a major part of any romantic relationship in real life and so it should also be a main player in books. Sexual tension is what keeps the characters moving toward each other, even when their past history is pushing them to run away. Sometimes, the body and heart know the reality of a situation long before our brains.

What advice would I offer other writers? Wow, I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer that but I'll muck through it as best I can. Passion and attraction don't just happen when the characters are getting busy. Show it in the way she holds his hand, the feeling he gets when he smells her perfume, a look across the room and many more. Keep that tension pulled tight and when you do get to the actual sex, the release is amazing - for the characters and the reader.

What do you most want readers to take away from Up a Dry Creek?
You know that feeling you get when you step off a roller coaster? You're breathing a little funny? Your heart is pounding faster than normal? And you can’t wipe the grin off your face if you tried? That's how I hope readers feel after they finish Up a Dry Creek. As to the take away, well I hope, like Claire and Jake, readers find the courage to make their own happy endings come true.

Will we see Jake and Claire again? Are you working on your next book? Do you have anything else being published this year?
Oh yes, you'll see Claire and Jake again, along with the Layton brothers and, Glenda, the family matriarch. The next book in the Dry Creek series follows Claire's best friend Beth who may just find her own way to happy with one of the Layton brothers. Or does she? And, no, I won't tell which one. But I will say he's met his match in Beth. It’s called In a Dry Creek Bed and I’m hoping it will come out as soon as the end of the year.

What are some of the advantages you see to being e-published?
There are a ton of advantages. It opens up more mixing of genres. Up a Dry Creek is sexy, a little bit over-the-top action-packed romantic suspense. This sense of freedom extends to book lengths and story types. It’s an exciting time to be an author.

Why do so many people consider this to be ideal timing for e-book originals?
Because if it’s a good time to be an author, it’s an amazing time to be a reader. The number of choices out there, the ease of buying and the price difference. Wow. As a reader, I’m loving it right now.

Up a Dry Creek is available at these online retailers…


Amazon Kindle


Barnes & Noble


Diesel Books

Digibook Café

iBookstore (Apple)


ReaderStore (Sony)

… and, of course, at

Evernight Publishing

Monday, July 4, 2011

Summer 2011 Round-Up - Great Reading!


It's time for vacationing and just plain relaxing at the beach, with beautiful breezes and temperatures, a time to relax with a great read to relish while enjoying the surrounding summertime scenery! So here are some recommendations of the best reads to enjoy!

My favorite is Ten Beach Road by Wendy Wax. It's a story about a family broken by the all too well-known Ponzi schemes that drove all too many families into bankruptcy and destitution. But it's so much more than that, with an account of rebuilding a neglected classic home and numerous family relationships, with just enough spark of romance to depict hope, rivalry, betrayal, and deep abiding love! Absolutely delightful!!!

Next is Threading the Needle by Marie Bostwick. It's a tale about a trophy whose husband is facing jail time and for whom she will no longer lie. Instead she returns to her hometown to rebuild a life in which she proves her intelligence, competency, and feistiness while receiving the support of a quilting community who accept one at face value. Add a little romantic caring and you've got the perfect recipe for creating a love tapestry that will endear every reader! Such a caring, adventurous, and loving read!

Now we turn to more of a mystery story with a most unusual double-plotted story, Missing Persons: A Kate Conway Mystery. Kate's husband has died and his mistress wants to mourn with her, while investigation continues regardless of the so-called natural death. At the same time, Kate is producing a TV show about Theresa Moretti who is a young woman in her twenties who has disappeared, leaving behind plenty of suspects to eyeball. It's fascinating the way these stories interweave to provide clues about obvious and surprising clues about each mystery. Fascinating story which is crafted quite cleverly!

Next we turn to some steamier romances for those who love the genre, beginning with Lori Foster's Savor The Danger. Here's a return of the mercenary characters who are trying to totally disband the sex traffickers ruining young girls and women's lives. Jackson Savor is the protagonist of this story who radiates sexual energy on almost every pages, while being a savvy and protective sleuth determined to put an end to threats, attacks, and the crimes devastating so many young lives. Hot, hot, hot read!

Up The Dry Creek is the next romance by Avery Flynn which highlights the murder of a young girl outside of a local popular Bistro and the investigator who is hired to make sure the police do their job right. Jake Warrick is sassy, smart and sexy who becomes more than a royal pain in the butt to Claire, with plenty of other suspicious and caring characters to spark a quick and feisty read!

Missing Persons: A Kate Conway Mystery by Clare O'Donohue

Missing Persons: A Kate Conway Mystery. Clare O'Donohue. Plume Book/Penguin. May 2011. 288 pages. ISBN #: 9780452297067.

This is a most unusual novel, two parallel mysteries interwoven with some clues and conversations not only providing enlightening material for one but also the other mystery being followed!

Kate Conway is a TV producer who's job is to gain the trust of her interviewees and present them to a jury in a pleasant but factual way. She has produced one show called "Caught" and is now beginning to work on one called "Missing Persons." But this job becomes complex when her own ex-husband is found dead, his new girlfriend attempts to befriend Kate, and investigators are questioning everyone who knew him, with the suggestion that his natural death was not so innocent!

Theresa Moretti is the missing young woman whose case reveals Kate Conway's very skilled performance not only as a producer but a crime solver. It seems Kate had two boyfriends who may know of her whereabouts, but a control-freak mother, suspicious best friend, and suavely repulsive local politician all claim to know more than they do. Kate's cameramen also contribute to the theories behind this disappearance, but these change every few minutes, increasing the tension the reader is experiencing as he or she attempts to figure it all out even before Kate might do so!

Missing Persons is an excellent mystery that is totally unpredictable regarding both stories. There's also an additional tender and endearing quality, a deeply caring spark, that threads throughout the whole story without diminishing the crime or mystery aspects of what should be a well-deserved best seller!!! Superbly done, Clare O'Donohue!

Savor the Danger by Lori Foster

Savor the Danger. Lori Foster. Harlequin. 416 pages.
ISBN #: 9780373775828.

Alani Rivers is shocked when the unbelievably hot lover of the night before, Jackson Savor, wakes up and tells her he remembers nothing of the night before. He believes he's been drugged but has virtually no memory of the entire previous day. Still the way he looks at her tells her his reacting body remembers, even if his mind doesn't.

Alani had been kidnapped years before, a familiar story to readers who read the first book in this series, When You Dare. But obviously, her guard has been down to get so intimate with Jackson. While trying to initially work out any glimpse of connection, we learn that Jackson is also a mercenary whose job has involved freeing women sold into sex through professional sex traffickers. What neither Jackson and Alani, as well as Dare and Trace, also mercenaries from the previous two books, can figure out is what merited this attack. Add to that the fact that someone attempts to swipe their car and even returns to try again, obviously an effort to make a kill!

As the story unfolds, another character Marc Tobin seems to be involved with Alani in a way that defies his excuse of wanting to get closer to her. The plot deepens when an unexpected female appears to claim her "property." Who is at risk? Why wouldn't it be better for former enemies to leave all alone instead of returning withe incredible risk guaranteed as well as the formidable minds and protective skills of the three male protagonists? What is Alani not saying or doesn't know? Why is another female character, Arizona, promising to expose any threat but keeping silence at a pivotal point?

Savor the Danger is a more complex mystery than the previous two novels in this mystery/ romance series and definitely hot, hot, hot with sexual bantering and action. Fear and passion spiral side by side until the last tension-ridden moments of resolution, leading to who knows what with the spark-filled relationship that gets deeper from start to finish! Good job, Lori Foster!/span>

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Love Finds You in Amana Iowa by Melanie Dobson

Love Finds You in Amana Iowa. Melanie Dobson. Summerside Press. June 2011. 320 pages. ISBN #: 9781609361358.

Friedrich Vinzenz is a construction worker in the new Kolinie of Amana, Iowa. It’s 1863; and while Friedrich’s fiancĂ©, Amalie, is traveling from the East to Iowa, the North and South are battling over slavery. They belong to the Inspirationist religious sect that prays for peace but refuses to fight; instead upon notice of conscription, their Elders pay for another to be a substitute in their place within the Union Army. During the journey, Friedrich meets Joseph, a slave whose body bears the scars of horrific beatings but whose spirit looms large and free. His story haunts Friedrich to the point that he feels led by God to fight for those still held in inhuman bondage in the South. It’s a huge move, taken after much pondering and knowing his pacifist community will never condone his leaving!

Amalie arrives to find Friedrich gone. For three years, she has been faithful to their upcoming marriage and now she is devastated to find him gone. Friedrich’s best friend, really raised as a brother to him, Matthias is also shattered that his friend has abandoned him without saying goodbye. His anger at Amalie is a problem that others notice, but he buries himself in work and is downright rude to her each time she appears. Finally, he tells her to stay away from him. Given his background, Matthias is having an awful time, filled with unspeakable thoughts he can share with no one.

Devastation visits Amalie, Matthias and Friedrich’s family and the reader is unsure whether any of them will ever know peace again. At a certain point, Matthias realizes he may not be called to fight in the Civil War, where over 600,000 will eventually die, but can play a peaceful and very useful role which the Elders in his community approve. While all of this occurs, love quietly bonds certain couples in a way this author presents with humor, shyness, doubts, fears, and approval that comes with a deep sense of serenity.

Resolution arrives after a secret mission is attempted, and all characters have learned to live with their positive and negative memories of the war’s effect. Love Finds You in Amana Iowa is a lovely story that is both very real and very ideal – a graceful story of struggle and redemption, a potent and charming read!