Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tim Johnson Presents Library Quality Celebration of History of Martial Arts...And More...

Be Calm

Keep a calm state of mind
and guard yourself against depression,
agitation and stress because most of the things
we combat in life are psychological,
not physical.
--Diana Lee Inosanto
The Greatest Lessons
  from the Martial Arts
Compiled by Tim Johnson

I had one important reason for wanting to read and review this book. First, I have a beautiful niece who flies through the air practicing her particular type of Martial Arts of whom I am so proud. I wanted to share the book with her. But it was more for verifying that it provided the true philosophical lessons behind  Martial Arts that I felt was important to provide to students who choose to enter into the practice of one or more types of this field of study.

My first introduction was, of course, through television in one of the finest shows, in my opinion, that was based on the study...Kung Fu with David Carradine. It was the teachings that I most admired, especially by the Shaolin Priest who called Carradine, "Grasshopper..." Now, most movies dwell on the violence, the fighting, but this is not the true intent of Martial Arts.. For instance, Tim Bailey from Martinsburg, WV, wrote one of my favorite essays about his entering into the study because he was being bullied at school...Here is what he discovered:

"I came back to school with fervor to have a glorious martial arts showdown that would  rival a scene from Kung Fu
Theater. Instead I found that I did not need it, because I had something other than a few flash moves to combat my
bullies, I had self respect and confidence. I walked differently, talked differently, and carried myself with a stride
that told people I was not a victim anymore...
I tell...the great martial art...
is to build a strong sense of self before you build a strong body.
--Tim Bailey, Hsing yi and Bagua
This is so very important given the prominence of bullying activities in schools today! 

The fully colored art work sets the tone of study--of quiet study, of the beauty of the world, of nature. You do not have to be in the study of the martial arts to appreciate this small book of wisdom, even if it is part of a historical commemoration activity as well as the beginning of a major research effort of those who have taught and those who have studied... 

For many of us, it is a reminder of where true strength comes from... It is a gentle reminder of that maxim, "Know Thyself" which has come from many sources of ancient knowledge. The maxim has remained in my heart for many years to practice, even though I do not remember the first place that I studied it... Such is the words, the greatest lessons in this small book. You may not remember the particular contributor, but if you study the words, perhaps memorize some of them, they, too, will remain with you all your life...

Here is my favorite definition of those that are offered for Martial Art--a guiding light in times of weakness. An inner, ever-present shepherd giving us strength in times of need. Sure, I want my niece and others who study to be able to defend themselves physically, but there is so much more that is available through its philosophical study. This book, written by those who are or have been students or teachers share what they have found as important to their own lives.

For those who are actively involved with Martial Arts, please click on the link above under the Author's name. Johnson is not only a contributor, but he compiled and provided the photography and art work for this beautiful book. He is part of the new data-gathering for the Martial Arts Lineage Project. Students who read this book should provide information on this project to their instructors as well... I consider this a must-read for you...

But for the rest of us, I think it is very clear from the photos also provided by Johnson that the words of the contributors are well worth consideration for our own personal development. Who knows, after reading it, you just may have found a field of study of great interest to you or other family members! Highly recommended!


View all parts online! Here for illustrative purposes of the series!
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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Jutta Profijt Creates Fun New Character in Dust Angel!

"The shock took my breath away.
"There was a man in the cooler.
"He was stretched out on the floor.
"He wasn't moving.
"The guy lying motionless in front of me was a bum. Like the guy
handing around Lauenstein's front gate the day before. Could it be
the same guy? Had he sneaked onto the property in search of a place
to sleep and settled on the cooler? My mind was spinning like a
merry-go-round. I tried to stop it and focus. Had his coat looked like
this one? Was he the same height? Well, this was a man in any case;
at least I was sure about that.
"My attempt to distract myself by wondering about his identity failed.
The issue was not whether this was the same man as the day before;
the issue was why he was lying motionless in my customer's walk-in-
cooler...this man was dead..."

Dust Angel

By Jutta Profijt
  Translated by
  Erik J. Macki

Yes, I enjoyed Morgue Drawer Four and even more Morgue Drawer Next Door (Click over for my reviews), but Corinna Leyendecker, the main character in Profijt's latest novel, Dust Angel, touched my heart...maybe because she got fired, like I did after effectively working with a company for years...sure, I can empathize greatly with her! She also discovered that she really didn't mind leaving that job--yes, that definitely got my attention... But the business she went into? Whoa... I think I'll stick with book reviewing...  I know I'm mixing reality and fiction, but who cares? That's why we can escape into fiction! Right?!

Do you get the idea that Jutta Profijt is a lot of fun to read? She is! She doesn't "write" humor, her characters live it. That makes a great difference for me since I'm not into making jokes about people and situations like many comedians do these days. Corinna just gets into situations from where you enjoy seeing her "extract" with the dead body...

And no, she's not a new "dead ghost" to contend with, LOL as it was in her earlier books... In fact, I'm hoping this is the first in a series for her...

After all, a woman who runs a "Dust Angel" business is going to have lots of opportunity to get into trouble, even while she manages her ever-growing business! Essentially, she decided to aim her business toward wealthy men, mostly, who needed and could afford a company to manage his home activities on his behalf.

"...and guts when I informed Greg I was taking the
furniture in my study/bedroom/asylum with me.
All of it. First he turned pale and then red--but there
was no way he could ignore the fact that we'd paid
for the firniture in the apartment jointly...
"You could take the bed with you; Soledad doesn't
like it anyway." he offered instead.
"I need office furniture,"I told him. "You never
used your study for work anyway. With me the
furniture will finally be put to good use."
"He had no argument to obstruct my plan, so I
got the office furniture...
"Now I am sitting in my stylish office, typing up
this account while a dead body lies in the trunk of
my car, which I can dimly make out through the
window from where I sit...Oops. I've given away
too much, and I still need to tell the rest of the
story...That way, later on, no one can say I founded
my business expressly to perpetrate criminal
intrigues in the homes of my well-to-do
Now Corinna had help with naming her company and other marketing activities from one of her previous co-workers, which initially seemed strange since she was one of the "creative" staff who could not be touched when jobs had to be eliminated.

Well, Troll had another reason, but you can find out all about that because Troll and Corinna become best friends...

Not like the other co-worker with whom she had been living, with benefits, it seemed from his standpoint... Of course, Corinna had assumed they were having a relationship before he brought another woman into their apartment...and bed...

Now here's where I started my admiration for Corinna! She didn't move out quickly as he suggested. Instead she moved into "his" den, "his" sanctuary! And she didn't continue to do any of the cleaning, grocery shopping, etc.

And when she left, she took all the furniture out of the den (which they had purchased together with other furniture for the apartment)...and thus had a beautiful new office for her business! I loved how she handled his rejection--as if it didn't matter to her any more than it did to him! I loved it!

Corinna had always been close to her grandmother who would give her sound advice as well. In this case, she introduced her to her first employee--an experienced woman, even with a degree! And they got along, even though Lisbeth continued to call her new boss, "child..."

So Corinna managed the contacts, while Lisbeth handled the actual cleaning activities, which worked out fine and to their mutual satisfaction. Until the day Lisbeth was sick with the flu and Corinna had to take her place at one of the largest homes with the strangest client. It was while she was working that Corinna discovered the body of a man lying on the floor of the large walk-in freezer...

Yes, she is too afraid of losing her business to just leave it there, apparently because she had forgotten to lock the outside door to the freezer! So she put the body into the trunk of her car...where, because she had so many other previously scheduled commitments which she couldn't afford to reschedule, the body stayed for...days...

Then the real fun started!

Readers will enjoy how she came up with her idea for her business during one of the many interviews she had to continue in the advertising business. I also enjoyed Troll taking Corinna to a speed-dating event (and why!) Me, I also enjoyed what happened to Soledad later...and Gregg! Ok, if you're not into a little revenge, well...just ignore that part. However, there wasn't anything I would have changed in this delightful new group of characters, given to either to love or hate... With this one, Jutta has moved into a favorite author for me, so I highly recommend her for your consideration if you enjoy the humor of everyday life...and a dead body or two...


Jutta Profjt was born in 1967 in Ratingen, Germany. After finishing school, she lived abroad working as an au pair, an importer-exporter, a coach to executives and students, and a business-English instructor. She published her first novel in 2003 and today works as a freelance writer and translator. Her first novel feature coroner Martin Gansewein, Morgue Drawer Four, was shortlisted for German's 2010 Friedrich Glauser Prize for best crime novel.

Kudos from me also to Erik J. Macki, Translator... He has done all of Jutta's books and I've found them excellent!

Erik J. Macki worked as a cherry-orchard tour guide, copy editor, Web developer, and German and French teacher before settling into his translation career--probably an inevitable choice, as he has collected foreign-language grammars, dictionaries, and language-learning books since childhood and to this day is not above diagramming sentences when duty calls. A former resident of Cologne and Munster, Germany, and of Tours, France, he did his graduate work in Germanic and comparative syntax. He now translates books for adults and children as well as nonfiction material from his home in Seattle, where he lives with his family and their black Lab, Zephyr.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Richard Audry Stumps This Mystery Lover in Debut Canine Cozy!

The legendary swedish/danish warrior king Hara...
The legendary swedish/danish warrior king Harald Hildetann (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
King Harald proceeded up Willow Street with regal bearing.



Monarch of all he surveyed.

Up above, the maples and lindens had budded out, promising a summer’s worth of delicious shade. Harald stopped at almost every trunk, sniffed robustly, and—discreetly here and there—lifted a leg to add his own signature to the others.

The huge, ginger-colored canine was of unknown provenance. Part Chesapeake, from his looks. But the other part remained a mystery. Some folks in New Bergen joked that a moose must have had a romantic tryst with one of Harald’s forebears.
The Karma of King Harald
  A Canine Cozy

By Richard Audry

This is the debut novel for King Harald...And readers of cozy mysteries naturally assume that this is going to be a series... Why not? I'm looking forward to that and maybe King Harald will visit Book Readers Heaven one day. He certainly does have the nose for sniffing out bodies--except that one time when the rabbit actually saved the day!

Not that long ago, 
Harald had been a down-on-his-luck
adult dog, left at an animal shelter
by a family that couldn’t afford him
anymore. But then one day
the boss walked in through
the shelter’s doors. 
Harald knew instantly that this
was the human for him and he made
sure he got noticed. 
There was much tail-wagging,
but no slobbery jumping up on. 
His sales pitch had been perfect and
Harald departed with the boss 
that very same day.

Now the only clue about learning more about King Harald was to discover that there has been a long line of human kings by the same is that a positive or negative thing that this mixed breed was named after royalty? In any event, we do know that he's smart enough to have been able to play the correct role while waiting in the animal shelter to gain the attention of a young man. Sure he felt bad about leaving the other guys, but he had been playing to win the game! And to continue, he immediately began to call him Boss! Sure, I know that the boss doesn't know that, but don't you think that it made a difference in how dog and master interacted thereafter?


He really is a good dog, except where it comes to staying in his own yard! What that meant for Harald was that he was known and generally liked by everybody in town and, often, they would help to get him home, back into the yard, whose fence he could easily jump...LOL...

What that also meant was he had found the first body...and sat down beside the woman he'd known, and howled until somebody came! And then, there was that time, he smelled the smoke...

In my opinion, this mystery is much more complex and involved than many cozies, which gave me ample time to think that the author was creating a wonderful small-town setting and was offering many potential "guilty" much so that I totally missed whodunit! Thank you for stumping this mystery fan!

On the other hand, each and every potential culprit did deserve some punishment in my opinion! Whew! This little town has no willingness to consider individuals who do not think and believe like the town members...

Especially about religions...

Early tulips were nearly ready to bloom, and Asiatic lilies and peonies had poked up amidst the dirt beds scattered throughout the long grass. Lilacs and apple trees were starting to show nubbins of flower buds. The pin maples were bright and crisp and lovely to sniff. And glittering, dancing baubles of color dangled from their branches.

Harald was no ponderer, but the spectacle delighted him and held his attention for better than fifteen seconds. Until the most interesting, most enchanting aroma hit the 220 million smell receptor cells tucked way back up his substantial snout. Hit them like a Mack truck without brakes. The smell came from just overthere.

He bounded across two tulip beds—leaving disorder in his wake—and, as if sliding into home base, came to a quick stop under a flowering crab apple tree. He peered up at the most marvelous thing he had seen in, well, forty seconds.

There, dangling from a low branch, was the item that had called to him with an allure that was not to be denied. An object whose complex bouquet of scents would have challenged the vocabulary of an Elizabethan poet to describe—had the poet possessed 220 million smell receptor cells.

King Harald stared thunderstruck at the object that moved gently in the morning breeze, inhaling deeply through his nostrils.

He reared up on his hind legs, bracing himself against the crab apple trunk. With a certain reverence, he twisted himself around and began to gently prize the pretty, pretty thing from the string that suspended it among the glittering baubles.


Trudie Bock and Andy Skyberg had once had a hot romance during their college days. Now Andy was back home in New Bergen and somehow Trudie shows up there years later and started her own business. She claimed that she didn't know Andy was living there...

Trudie had married well...several when she came she was loaded! First she bought a large farm that had been owned by a local family, but left to only two of the siblings...The third wanted it and was constantly after Trudie to sell, even though her parents had not wanted the property to be changed for profit...

The second thing she did was create a mystical shop that contained all sorts of satan-worship things   (according to many), so members of one of the churches was constantly picketing the shop and trying to get her to leave town...and on and on she went, making enemies left and right... So the town was making waves, hoping she would be forced to leave! First they killed her pet iguana and left a threatening note that she would be next... Then the woman who worked with her was the one that Harold had discovered...Then the shop was burned down, and one of her employees who lived in the basement (few knew he was there) was killed in the fire...and on and on...

Now would she leave?

Andy's sister had a restaurant next door and Andy works with her as well as a painter of the beautiful scenes around the town. Of course since the canine belongs to Andy, he takes the brunt of suspicion on everything from the police officers...Then there is another friend of his that has gotten in trouble with the Feds...

This story reminded me of the little town that housed the mystery writer in Murder She Wrote...but...with a twist...LOL I could picture Betty White from the Golden Girls living here...because the town also sounded like the ethnic town from where she came, with all of its special foods and stories about the residents. In other words, there is an underlying humorous thread that kept me highly involved throughout. You don't normally find yourself quickly turning pages for a cozy, but the mystery certainly was entertaining, while being complex. The author threw us a surprise ending that you "might" have picked up, only if you are very clever...LOL A true mystery lover test! Let me know if you chose correctly from the persons of interest!
Highly recommended, especially for the fun of it!


About the Author

Richard Audry is the pen name of Dr. R. Martin, a writer with over 1500 credits in fields as diverse as music journalism, trade-press journalism, book reviewing, marketing and advertising, medical writing, and TV script writing. He is an award-winning copywriter, the former editor of a weekly newspaper, and a semi-pro photographer. The Karma of King Harald is his third mystery and first cozy.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

P. C. Zick Presents Fascinating Family Drama While Highlighting Environmental Issues!

A beach after an oil spill.
A beach after an oil spill. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"News reports on Deepwater Horizon--early May
"Wildlife experts and volunteers continued to prepare for the worst as April
gave way to May. Uncertainty in the movement of the Gulf Stream caused
emergency operations to open in Tampa and Miami with an eye on the North Carolina coast as a possible area where the slick might move if the
winds continued. As the wildlife struggled, another uncertainty loomed.
Hurricane season started June 1 and lasted for six months. Questions
swirled about "what if?"
"By the first week of May, two weeks after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, dead sea turtles began washing up on the beaches near Pass
Christian, Mississippi. Beach walkers discovered the stranded animals on
sand darkened by the blood seeping from the turtles' nostrils and
"The Sea Mammal Studies in Gulfport, Mississippi, opened a special lab-
oratory to hold twenty-three loggerhead, leatherback, and Kemp's Ridley
carcasses awaiting necropsies..."
Trails in the Sand

By P. C. Zick

Zick's latest novel is totally different than my earlier read--Live From the Road--Click over to my review if you haven't read it yet. I loved that one, but her latest is more serious, more "today's headlines" and more drama that shares a contemporary love story like no other I've read... It is a novel that covers three generations and shows the dark side of things learned through and from our ancestors. An important book in several ways.

The main character, Caroline Carlisle is an environmental writer. She also has a marine biologist degree which has served to ensure her acceptance and respect from those with whom she works. Zick chose to use turtles as the focus of her story, tying it into the family background; however, the news coverage could have been related to all ocean life affected...

By oil spills...

“Everything’s going to work out,” Gladdy said. “You’ll see. Daddy will forget all about it once he goes back to work on Monday.”
“He’s not going to forget, Gladdy. Not this,” Alex said. “And neither will I. Do you think you can forget it ever happened?”
“I can try. You can try. Let’s just put it out of our minds as if it never happened. Please, Alex. We have to.”
“It won’t work. It’s hopeless,” Alex said.
“Look,” Gladdy poked her brother who was older by ten months.
She pointed to the edge of the shoreline only feet away from where they sat on the sand. The light from the rising moon illuminated the beach in a soft white bath.
“It’s a loggerhead,” Alex said as a sea turtle lumbered out of the ocean and laboriously began its march to the dune line. “You can tell by its big head.”
“I bet it’s going to lay eggs,” Gladdy whispered.
They sat motionless as the turtle, not more than fifty feet away, pulled itself through the sand. The loggerhead moved slowly but steadily, using first the front right and then the left rear flippers to pull it forward. Then it repeated the action with the other diagonal flippers. Its march from the sea was distinct from the other species of turtles that came ashore in Florida to lay eggs. The green turtle, Kemp’s ridley, the leatherback, and the hawksbill also laid their eggs on the beaches of the peninsula, but loggerheads were by far the most numerous.
The female loggerhead, so graceful as it floated and swam in the ocean, now tromped through the sand dragging nearly 300 pounds of body weight. Every few minutes, it would stop and dig its snout into the sand.
“She’s testing the temperature,” Alex said. “That’s exactly how it was described in that book Daddy threw in the trash tonight.”
Alex read any book he could find about the ocean. Archie Carr just published a book about the sea turtles, and Alex checked the book out of the library in Calico, where the Stokleys lived, before they came to St. George Island for the summer. He’d received special permission to keep it for three months. When his father came to the dinner table that night and saw Alex sitting with his elbows on the table and The Windward Road propped up on his glass of milk, Arthur Stokley snatched the book and walked out through the kitchen to the back porch and threw it in the trash.
“We do not read at the table,” Dr. Stokley said when he returned. “You have the manners of a heathen and the sense of a moron. You never fail to disappoint me...”
“I’m up to 82,” Gladdy said. “There’s 83 and 84.”
After counting 124 eggs, they watched as the sea turtle filled in the cavity with its rear flippers and then swept the area in an effort to disguise what lay beneath the surface.
When the turtle finished her job, nearly two hours after she came from the sea, she began the slow return back to the ocean. Alex rose from the sand and followed the loggerhead.
“Alex, what are you doing? You can’t go swimming after dark – the undertow is too strong.”
“Did you know sea turtles always return to lay their eggs on the beach where they were hatched?” Alex said as he walked backwards into the sea following the trail of the female loggerhead. “The eggs will hatch in about two months, Gladdy. Be sure to come down here every night and wait for them to emerge so you can help them go home. Remember 124 eggs and remember the location.”
Alex turned toward the ocean and kept walking until the sea engulfed him, and he went under.
“Alex, come back,” Gladdy yelled out over the surf, but the only answer came from the sound of the waves lapping the beach. “We’ll find a way.”
Gladdy pulled the corners of the tablecloth up around her shoulders and waited for her brother to reappear. The waves came back to shore time after time, but as she sat transfixed in her spot on the beach, Alex never returned with them. ~~~
Readers will learn about not only the oil spill disaster but a coal mine disaster in West Virginia... Moving back and forth between the disasters to the family life affected by each of those disasters presents an extremely engaging interplay between the news that many of us just hear about, to those lives that are involved. This adds much greater depth to Zick's book in my opinion.

The Prologue begins in 1956 within Caroline's mother's life. She and her brother had been close, having the same interests and love for being out of doors. Alex loved the sea and they had gone out to sit one night when a loggerhead had crawled on shore to lay her eggs. Some internal instinct led them back to the shores where they were born as well... (This later plays a major role in the oil spill damage control)

That night when the loggerhead had finished and went back into the ocean, Alex had followed and followed her into the sea.

Gladdy had sat there watching, waiting for him to come back--until she realized he wasn't coming.. .

It was after that that Gladdy changed and when she married and had two children, she chose to ignore Caroline and Caroline had always wondered why... Caroline and her sister had never really gotten along either, especially with her mother constantly pitting the two against each other. Fortunately, Caroline had her father to support her as much as possible, but sometimes what he said was just as confusing, because he would never explain why he was willing to defend her mother.

Now, Caroline is married to Simon, her childhood friend, with whom she'd been in love since they met as children. But this is her third marriage and Simon's second... And Simon's first wife had been Caroline's sister... A little complicated? You don't know the half of it, as they say... Because.when her mother dies, Caroline finds journals that her mother had kept to herself--from her grandfather, from Alex and from Gladdy.

The truth is slowly coming out, but is it too late? Sometimes families keep secrets, thinking it will protect the family name and the individuals. But when those secrets have changed the lives of those involved? Can finding out the truth ever make it right again?

Zick has done an excellent job spotlighting the safety issues caused, normally, by the "bottom-line emphasis" routinely chosen by corporations. At the same time, she has created a set of characters that come alive, as if you are right there in the midst of the family discussions, or should I say arguments? Can love make it through when family members totally opposes the love between two people? Zick has certainly made the love between her two main characters strong enough. But...

This family tree has so many limbs that there is no way to follow unless you're reading the novel. I highly advise that you do. The drama is superb--intense, unbelievable in ways you least would expect and surprising in how much you may see issues that have occurred in your own family. Highly recommended!


About the Author
P.C. Zick’s career as a writer began in 1998 with the publication of her first column in a local paper. By day, she was a high school English teacher, but at night and on vacations, she began writing novels and working as a freelance journalist. By 2001, she left teaching and began pursuing a full-time gig as a writer. She describes herself as a "storyteller" no matter the genre. Currently, she writes two blogs. Trails in the Sand is her fifth novel and the second one self-published. She published Live from the Road in May 2012. Her blog and her novels contain the elements most dear to her heart, ranging from love to the environment. She believes in living lightly upon this earth with love, laughter, and passion. She resides in Pennsylvania with her husband Robert.

An important song used in novel...provided for your enjoyment.
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Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Touch of Poetry by Laura Stamps From Cats, Daffodils and Dragonflies...

American tree sparrow photographed in the DeSo...
American tree sparrow photographed in the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


What if one morning, 
when the coverlet of rain recedes
 and the sun offers its fiery feathers
 on the white altar of a gardenia, 
you were to discover
 that you are not what you seem to be? 
  What if you were to believe
 deep in your heart that you are

a spirit, 
divinely dressed in a cloak of humanity, 
here on earth
 for seventy or eighty years
 to bless everyone you meet
 with heavenly love?  
 What if this were your only intention, 
simple and true?
   O how the meadowlark, 
cardinal, and field sparrow 
would play the blue lute of the sky.  
 O how your life would change.


Review Coming Soon!
Cats, Daffodils and Dragonflies
By Laura Stamps

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Friday, February 22, 2013

L. J. Seller's Rules of Crime Latest in Detective Jackson Series!

"Package is delivered.
"The radio was silent as they all waited.
"Suddenly, a dark figure darted out from behind a bush. Black
jeans, black hoodie, slim build. The man grabbed the backpack
and ran down the path into the curve under the bridge...
"I've got eyes on him. He's off the path and headed through the
shrubs to the water." Fouts sounded breathless. River heard the
sound of metal slamming into concrete, then Fouts said,
"I've lost visual."
"Agent Torres' voice cut in. "He's under the bridge and I can't
see him either.
"Fouts was back. "He's in an inner tube and paddling with an
"Damn! The fol was on the river and she didn't hear any boat
motors coming their way.
"Keep eyes on him." River ran up the sidewalk, signaling
Anderson that she was headed for the bridge.
"Fouts was in her ear. "He's crossing the river as he floats
"Where's he gonna come out? Let's get uniforms on the other
side." Her voice was breathy from her run...
"Can you tell where he'll come out of the water?"
"No. He's not really in control."
"A long minute of silence as her team watched the perp float
 away...A minute later, the tube snagged on something below
the surface and flipped over. The perp went under and dis-
appeared into the green swirling water."
Rules of Crime

By L. J. Sellers

This novel is part of the Detective Jackson series, but is able to stand on its own. However, if you're really into series like I am, you will feel that you should already know the Detective by this time and wonder about some of the background. For instance, Detective Jackson is divorced, but has a 15-year-old daughter. The novel opens when his daughter calls in a panic because his ex-wife has been kidnapped.

Renee has been living with a man to whom she is now engaged and he is the target of the requests for ransom money. The $100,000 is doable for him by selling some stock; he's rich but cash poor. Fortunately, Jackson insisted on getting the FBI involved, but by the time you get into the story, you'll find that not much of anything was going to make this whole escapade work out...

You see, when the first money drop occurred, the man picked up the money, ran toward the river, used an inner tube and went speeding down the river...

Only thing is that he turned over, and they later found that he had drowned...Money never found...

She kept driving, not knowing where, not making conscious decisions. Ten minutes later she parked a half block from Serenity Lane, an inpatient rehab center for drugs and alcohol that was tucked into a quiet residential area near the campus. The site of the building made her cringe. Renee reached for the thermos and took a long slow belt of vodka. She’d never make it through the door this sober. Grabbing her phone from the seat, she started to text Katie, but couldn’t do it. Not yet. She’d call her daughter later, after she checked in.

Renee clutched her purse and stepped from the car. Would three times be the charm? Would this be her last inpatient stay? Fortunately, she ran her own publicity business now and didn’t have to explain to any boss why she needed a month off. One foot in front of the other, she forced herself to start down the sidewalk, toward the building with the glass door she knew so well.

The lowrider was suddenly there, only five feet away on the street. In the twilight she felt, as much as saw, two guys burst from the car. Renee screamed and started to run. Her heel snapped and she stumbled. From behind, a thick hand slammed over her mouth and yanked sideways. She kicked wildly, panic driving her. She connected with a shin, and the man punched her in the neck. She choked on her cry and hot tears filled her eyes. Another pair of arms wrapped around her torso and dragged her into the back of the car.

In six seconds, she’d disappeared off the sidewalk. Had anyone witnessed it? A student bicycling to class?

The car raced forward, away from the rehab building and student housing. Renee struggled, but the alcohol made her weak and the man shoved her to the floor. Strong, thick fingers dug into her flesh and quickly bound her hands and mouth with duct tape. A knife was suddenly in his hand and her heart missed a beat. She screamed into the duct tape but only made a gurgling sound. The man cut her purse strap from her shoulder, then rummaged through her pockets until he found her cell phone. He shoved her last little hope into his jacket pocket, then taped her ankles together and tied a blindfold around her head. Oh God, what did they want with her? Panic exploded in painful shards in her lungs and she couldn’t think straight.

A few minutes later, the car stopped, and the men dragged her from the floor of the backseat and shoved her into the trunk. They slammed down the lid and left her alone in the small dark space, trussed like an animal on its way to slaughter.

Heart pounding, all she could think was, I wish I’d finished the thermos.


While the kidnapping was going on, an officer who had previously been mentored by Detective Jackson, Lara Evans, caught her first major case.

A Lila Murray had been found a victim of an assault. She was in surgery and might not make it, but her wounds were very strange and vicious. She had been beaten and had dirt and shit rubbed on her body and then dumped naked at the ER.

Tracking her down had led to the local college, and soon hazing was brought up, but she had not been a part of a sorority.

Then Evans got word that she had been trying to get into a private residence with students, supposedly it was not a sorority, but she had learned that there may still be an initiation of some sort to be able to live there!

While she had been diligently working on her case, it had reached the point of "waiting" for information and Evans was quickly pulled in to work on the kidnapping charge, which was getting complicated.

Renee's fiancee had another daughter who worked at a radio station and without anybody's permission, she had gone live and asked for money for the second payoff!

His daughter was found dead soon thereafter...

Well, I must admit that I was unable to piece this one together! Good for Sellers, but sad for the characters, especially Renee's fiancee who kept trying to do everything to protect his family, only to see things continue to come apart without resolution.

And then the surprise, maybe unnecessary(?) ending really threw off everybody involved! Not a happy ending, but unfortunately maybe more realistic in today's world? This is my first read of Sellers and the writing didn't attract my attention sufficiently to backtrack... If you don't mind coming into an ongoing series, check this one out--I figured out some of it. If you do better, let me know!


L.J. Sellers writes the bestselling Detective Jackson mystery/thriller series, a Readers Favorite award winner, as well as provocative standalone thrillers. Her novels have been highly praised by Mystery Scene, Crimespree, and RT Reviews, and her Jackson books are Kindle bestsellers as well as top-ranked novels.

L.J., who resides in Eugene, Oregon where her novels are set, is also an award-winning journalist who earned the Grand Neal. When not plotting murders, she enjoys standup comedy, cycling, social networking, and attending mystery conferences. She’s also been known to jump out of airplanes.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Whole Lotta Trouble Leads to Whole Lotta Fun...

My name is Richard Wannamaker. After retiring from the IRS, I decided to write a story about my roller-coaster life as a cost accountant. Enclosed please find my 500-page autobiography, a volume I have fondly entitled Journal Entry—
get it?
Tallie winced. She got it, and about twenty others like it on her desk every week. Reams of paper containing stories utterly inappropriate for the mystery and romance fiction lines for which she acquired. It wasn't that she didn't admire the man for creating the tome, but if he'd researched Parkbench Publishing at all, he would have known they weren't looking for autobiographies. And that she wasn't a Mr., but a Miss.
 Miss— as in unmarried and unlikely to be in the near future. If only Richard Wannamaker had been on her mother's Christmas card mailing list, he'd have been privy to that tidbit, courtesy of her mother's annual Blankenship Bulletin, complete with pictures, favorite family recipes, and news. This year's headline:
It was almost February and she was still recovering from that one.
Tallie sighed and forced her attention back to the cover letter in her hand.
Whole Lotta Trouble
By Stephanie Bond

Want to take a break and sit down with a fun book about book publishing? This is one you'll least I did!  Tallie works for a small agency but has recently been outgunned by another editor, known as Scary Kara...who promised the author's agent, Jerry Key...much more than Tallie, shall we say?

Tallie had been given the job of editing the new manuscript for the top author of the agency. Her boss, Ron Springer, the executive editor, then left on an extended time away from the office, but told her he would be in touch. Tallie had met with Gaylord Cooper, had managed to get him to accept her in place of Ron, who had always edited for Cooper in the past, and then politely refused to meet with Jerry later.

Jerry was met by Kara as he was going down the elevator...and just like that, Tallie had lost the account. With Ron out of the office, there was nothing she could do.

Of course, the fact that there was only one copy of the manuscript led to problems...Yes, can you imagine a writer only making one copy of his new book, for which he had been given a high 6-figure advance?!!!

And, no copies were to be made while it was in the hands of the publishing company!

Seems Gaylord Cooper was continuously certain that somebody was out to sabotage his work...

But was he just eccentric or was there something behind it?

In any event, that precious manuscript was still in Tallie's hands, even though it was no longer hers to protect!

Tallie's best friend was not really the one she could share her frustration with--she had once dated Jerry Key and both knew she was still a little in love with him. Still, Tallie had to talk to somebody! But Felicia had her own problems with Jerry since two of his married writers were fighting and somehow Jerry seemed to be in the middle of whatever was going on...

But as they were talking another young woman stopped by their restaurant table.  She wanted to talk to Tallie about her company possibly doing a print version of an ebook she was now working on. When she started to talk about the story, however, it soon became apparent that Felicia recognized the story! Uh Oh! As they talked, the name Jerry Key came right into the middle again...

Source: via Julien on Pinterest

The door to the spa opened and out strolled Jerry Key, blond, tall, and fashionably thin, a man bag over his shoulder for his 
gadgets. The man prided himself on owning the latest and  greatest electronic equipment, from phones to laptops to stereos. He had teased Felicia about her penchant for retro, 
from her vinyl collection and the old turntable she played them  on to the big-button land line phone in her bedroom. 
As always, her pulse rate increased at the sight of him, doubly so with the anticipation of confronting him. She stood and screwed the lid onto the bottle of caffeinated water. 
She was stowing the bottle in her purse when she realized that someone had joined Jerry on the street—a woman. Frozen, she watched as the two embraced, then shared a full-on kiss. Their meeting, it seemed, wasn't accidental. Felicia removed her sunglasses and bumped her nose against the window, flabbergasted.  It couldn't be. But if the woman's long red coat wasn't enough to prove it was Suze Dannon pressed against him...

Well, these three women decided to put Jerry in the spot...they played off of his sexual activities and called to arrange a special that when they got to his hotel, he was already naked and blindfolded! They then tied him up further, took his picture and sent it to his entire mailing list... Wow... that was...cruel???

Only thing is, though, their plan to have the maid find him and let him loose didn't work... and when they did find him the next morning, he had been... murdered...

Oh yes, there's lots more, including Tallie having a blind date with a man from her home town!

A lost manuscript that Tallie may or may not have eft in a taxi, a scene of a crime, or just about anywhere else...

A late idea about why her boss and the author could not be found, and what was so important about a manuscript...

Actually, the last part of the book blew me away... Never would have saw it coming and still wonder... Let me know what you think about what was really happening. That is, besides the fun, the crazy email pictures going "viral"??? (Probably!)

Hey, check this one out!


Stephanie Bond has written over 60 novels for publishers such as Bantam, St. Martin's Press, Avon/HarperCollins, and Mira Books. She currently writes a humorous mystery series called BODY MOVERS, and romantic comedies for Harlequin Books. She is best known for writing steamy books that make readers laugh out loud. Read on to find out more about Stephanie's childhood and how she became a writer.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Rosie Thomas Takes Readers to Kashmir in Her Latest Wonderful Novel!

The Kashmir Shawl
By Rosie Thomas

I've just had a wonderful literary trip through Wales, Kashmir and many other small villages in India--one of the places I have always wanted to visit... And Rosie Thomas provided many engaging companions with which to make those travels! This was my first reading for Thomas and I'm so happy to have the opportunity to travel  with her. Yes, we were traveling together just because her descriptions were so beautifully presented. She took time to describe the land in which she had her characters fall in love with and sometimes, readers will just feel like you are there too...

"Ness," or Nerys Watkins captured most of my attention as she traveled next to her missionary husband in response to his call to serve in India. She is really the focal point of everything happening, but sees herself only as an "adjunct" to the missionary. But watch how she gathers the village children, beginning a small school as well as caring for so many there... Later, she becomes even more the one "creating" the story!

The story begins and ends with Mair, the granddaughter, who upon the death of her last parent, finds the Kashmir Shawl. She is the youngest of three children, single, and has no real commitments in life, so she takes the opportunity to "track" where the Shawl came from, and the story behind it. While Mair is greatly affected by her travels, it is secondary to the main story, so I won't say too much about it, except that I loved how Mair "closed out" everything just like her grandmother would have wanted. A truly remarkable story of family and agape love...

One thing that was interesting to me was that the Shawl that was made was so uniquely created that Mair had a hard time even finding individuals who knew how it was done. It is Mair, however, through her search, that we learn even more about making the shawls... From those who kept the animals on to those who spun and then made them. The best shawls would take up to a year to make! No wonder it had been declared as a dowry, don't you think?

It really is a small world, isn't it? Nerys and her husband traveled from Wales with Nerys knowing little of the language, yet she started to sing and play with the children, and by taking the children in, feeding them, she began the real community that developed. Not trying to discount the work of her husband, but there were two major religions in the region, so converts to Christianity--Evan was a Presbyterian minister--was slow and most of the work was in helping the community with food and medical assistance. Soon, though, the minister decided to travel to smaller communities and, because of the weather, decisions were made that affected Nerys' entire life...
The houseboats at that time were much older and in poor condition
but Nerys thought it was wonderful!

"For Nerys, Srinagar had a wintry loveliness that the society
migrants of the summer season could hardly have imagined.
"Smoke from countless wood and charcoal fires curled into the
white skies; bare trees were policed by brooding birds; the clopping
of tonga horses' hoofs was amplified by the frozen silence. When
she work up one morning the lake water was filmy, as if covered
by a layer of oil. The next day it had developed a skin on thin,
glittering plates, like the markings of some huge reptile, and the
one after that it was frozen solid. Moorhens and wagtails left
necklaces of spiky prints in the powdery rime, and garlands of
icicles festooned the houseboats' carved eaves.
"In delight at the beauty of it, she asked Myrtle, "Does this
happen every year?
..."She sighed for bygone days of glamour. 'There won't be
anything of the kind this time. There isn't a soul here and
every damned thing is scarce or rationed or unobtainable.
"I'm here, and Caroline. We'll just have to devise an ice
celebration of our own. Rainer will help..."

There were few English speaking individuals where the mission was located, so any type of social event, included Evan and Nerys because of his position in the community. It was during such an event that Nerys and Myrtle became close friends, even though they were from different social circles. Myrtle's husband was a British Officer and she was left alone often so that the women became closer...Then as Evan began traveling during the winters which were so severe, he suggested that Nerys accompany Myrtle and her husband to visit their home until he was able to come.

But Myrtle's husband soon went back to war. And Caroline and Rainer came into their lives through one of the last social events.

Caroline was a young wife of another soldier. She was so sad and in need of help that both Myrtle and Nerys became close and took her under their wings...

Especially when she had come to them about a pregnancy--that was not caused by her husband. Nearly everybody had known that she and the Prince had been involved. But nobody had known that she had been a virgin
until they had been intimate. But, of course, the Prince and his family would never consider her as a potential wife...

So the three women devised a plan...

"As ever, it was cold in the raftered room overlooking
the Jhelum river.
"Take this off," he ordered her. She unbuttoned the
Chinese robe and let it drop at her feet. Rainer kissed
her naked shoulder before wrapping her up in a
pashmina shawl. Then he lifted her chin and killed
her mouth, holding her against him as if she weighed
"You are magical," he murmured, after a long time.
With difficulty he stepped back...
"Rainer clinked his glass against hers. She could see
the weather-beaten furrows of his lion's face. 'We make
a good team,' he said. His praise was precious to her."
In the meantime, Nerys had gained her own admirer. While Evan had briefly engaged in sexual relations for his relief, it had left Nerys perhaps more vulnerable than she would have been. Rainer was a magician and much more, that is kept secret...

And so those four friends bonded together to help Caroline through her pregnancy. There was danger because the Prince had warned that there could be no shame brought upon his family. So they hid the child in various places until the day that Rainer planned an escape, which appeared to lead to an accidental death of those involved...

There is so much to discover in this 460+ page epic novel! The missionary life, the village life for those involved in the making of beautiful shawls, the lives of military wives, left alone by their soldier husbands, their fear and loneliness...and their subsequent deep friendships with other women. Truly a memorable story of the love and friendship gained in living together in times of turmoil and war...

Highly recommended as an historical novel as well as a magnificent drama of life in a beautiful part of India...


Rosie Thomas is the author of numerous critically acclaimed, bestselling novels. She has won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award twice, for her novels Iris and Ruby and Sunrise. Born in a small village in northern Wales, Thomas discovered a love of traveling and mountaineering when her children were grown. In the years since, she has climbed in the Alps and the Himalayas, competed in the Peking to Paris car rally, trekked in the footsteps of Shackleton on South Georgia Island, and spent time on a tiny Bulgarian research station in Antarctica. To research The Kashmir Shawl, Rosie Thomas traveled to Ladakh and Kashmir.
Learn more about Rosie at See more pictures on The Kashmir Shawl on the author's Facebook page too!

Added for Those Who Wish to See More About Shawls Being Made...Fascinating!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Christine Dougherty Presents Astounding Free Will Drama!

Cover of "God Told Me To"
Cover of God Told Me To
"Carrie looked.
"It was red faced, ugly, its head smooshed on one side, white hair covering its forehead and shoulders, a blister on its puckered asshole of a mouth, tiny veins visible under its thin, pale skin and Carrie had been
"Ugh, what's wrong with it? Get
it away from me!"
The Devil Stood Up

By Christine Dougherty

While I was without a Kindle, I received requests that I couldn't deal with--this was one of them. Interestingly, I had recently received another request from a writer who had the big D as a primary character and I chose not to read it. This one has been out a year, so, still catching up with e-books, I read this novel...

Wow! I am so thankful I did! I use the word "astounding" to explain my "wonder" and amazement of this story. Christine Dougherty has blasted us--all we who are human, LOL--with blunt reality and points the finger right back at us! WE have free will... So don't hide behind that old mantra, "the devil made me do it..." or even  (in my words), "God told me to..." Interestingly, this phrase brought up a book reference! For those who claim this, including suicide bombers, the criminally insane, and even other religious fanatics, Dougherty throws back...YOU decided, YOU are the one with free will...

Brave young writer, isn't she?!!!

Whether you believe in God, the Devil, or not, Dougherty looks into our eyes and tells us, we are the ones who choose to do right or wrong... I loved her message!

"The Devil rolled over, swiping a knotted forearm
across his dripping brow. Half asleep, struggling,
uncomfortable, The Litany of the evils of the
world slipped through his unconsciousness like
fine wisps of acrid smoke, intertwining, interweaving,
noxious, and necessary.
"This is how he thought of the million threads of
evil that bound his mind, they were: The Litany.
"The evil of the world spiked sharply, spoiling his
sleep, but he could not stop it any more than he
could have stopped time or stopped the evil itself.
He rolled, almost coming awake, flirting with full
consciousness, and then settled as the streaming
evil flatlined, becoming bearable again.
"This body, even, was uncomfortable: difficult to
position with grace and never entirely at rest, not
really. He'd never gotten used to it, never become
accustomed to losing grace. The weight, the stink
and yes, even the sight of it was unbearable,
because in Heaven, there'd been no ugliness, no
stink, no uncomfortable body, only awareness
and beauty.
"The Devil had never been a human, but knew
them well enough by now to this that this must
be what if felt like, to be in a body. Heavy.
Tethered. Stinking...
"...He punished one no harder than the others.
His place was not that of judgment. Only to
punish and punish and punish, until God
Himself saw fit to take this job from him, and
lift him back, weightless, bodyless to heaven
and to grace..."

Now, at first, I wasn't totally willing to accept the story line. As I thought about it, however, Lucifer was an angel at first, but he sinned, according to historical accounts. He thought he was above God...

But did that mean he would always be in direct opposition to God's will? While you explore that thought, let me tell you just a little about this exciting drama...

I've never been able to say the name without cringing, so I'm going to just say The D... OK? Anyway, the D calls it a litany--each and every day, every single thing that WE decide to do that we know (or don't know) is wrong, falls on him...I'll let you read the description but essentially he's lying down, bloodied, horribly affected by each and every sin/wrong that humans commit!

If some of you say, Cool!, you need to read this book...sure, it's a horror novel in description and tone, but, believe me, there's lots more going on in this drama and a message that will force each of us to take notice and acknowledge, yes, acknowledge that all that we do is through Free Will...

But, one day, something horrible happens and the D has reached his boiling point, literally. He painfully forces himself from underneath all of the piles of hateful emotions and screams! Not This Time!

The majority of us are selfish people, at least sometimes--we choose what we do every second, every when a your man who had chosen to become a drug addict chose to commit suicide, the D was there to step into his body!

But that young man had a sister. And she had been there when he jumped...

And also saw him, get up, brush himself off, and walk away!

She followed the Devil...

Carrie Walsh is the human who brought the Devil...and her lawyer who got her off for killing her child. Sound like something out of our headlines? You bet! One excerpt I read said this book looked at good and evil... Indeed I've said that often myself in reviews...

But this book, I think, really should be taken much more personally... I've always used "Know Thyself" to consider what I do in life. My opinion is that Dougherty is saying the same thing. We all have the potential for good or evil inside of know, those seven deadly sins that one movie covered...or all the other small things we choose to do that, really, normally evolve around selfishness, self-centeredness, pride, fear and doubt, etc... 

While I might have spent time getting to know myself, still I was confronted! But this wasn't horror or hard for me to do. And, if you have never really tried to look at yourself objectively, I suggest you begin... This book may just be the one to help you as you decide whether to choose drugs, alcoholic or other substances that give some type of escape... Drug cartels choose to sell because millions all over the world choose to buy. Their reason is simple--greed.  A suicide bomber is "influenced" to kill himself because of the story there are "virgins" waiting... Get real! When I choose a doughnut, it was my choice, not the D... No difference!

This book needs to be read by all. Do you dare to find out that you can't blame...the Devil...Yes, A Must-Read recommendation from me.


Christine Dougherty lives in South Jersey with her husband, dog and two cats. Visit her online at:

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