Friday, November 30, 2012

Spotlight: Dead Heart by R.L. King

Would you give someone your own beating heart
so they may live?
Description: (from Book)
     That is the question Doctor Paul Vieyra will have to ask himself as his world comes crashing down around him, and the ghost of those who died on his operating table haunt his mind. 
     When Dr. Vieyra sister’s heart begins to fail and her life fade away, a new heart or surgery are her only chances for survival—a chance no doctor is willing to take. Dr. Vieyra will risk everything he has and more for his sister. He will need the help of both old and new friends along with his mental ghosts if he is going to overcome the incredible obstacles that stand in his way. 
The clock is ticking. Will he be able to save his sister’s dead heart? What is he willing to risk?



Chapter One

The last thing any cardiac surgeon wants to see in the middle of a heart transplant is a ghost, yet there it was. All Paul knew was that this man was a successful insurance attorney for a large firm, a family man, who just happened to have a congenital heart defect that had gone undetected for years. The man’s surgery had been uneventful and routine, when suddenly his vitals crashed. The ghost-face of the patient sat up and looked deep into Paul’s soul through the windows of his eyes.

The man looked down at his open chest, filled with flowing circuits of bloody tubes and dangling metal equipment, and then slowly turned his head back to Paul. The patient’s eyebrows lifted as if he were about to cry. After working an empty jaw, his ghost-mouth was able to speak. “What-what about my kids? What about my wife?”

Paul locked eyes with the ghost. His heart sank. “They’re fine.”

“Liar.” The ghost smiled. “But they will be. I wrote my own insurance policy.”

“Everything is fine,” Paul said through his teeth. He moved his hands at a blinding blur of delicate fingers, each hand dancing a ballet with clamps and strings; he hurried because he knew time was not on his side. The Ghost was looking to him in the same desperate way all the others had, just before their bodies died. It was the look of a spirit about to pass the point of no return. “Let’s hurry up and finish. Quick, you close him up. Delores, get the suction ready.”

The woman wearing olive green scrubs that would disgust a horror-film makeup crew reached around his midsection with the suction wand and cleaned the surgery site one last time. At once, the crimson faded, revealing flesh stained yellow from the pre-op iodine. Delores finished and looked back at Paul. “Ready, doctor.”

The short doctor on the other side of the patient set his little arms to work, closing the steel plates of the retractor and stapler into the midsection of the unseen ghost.

Paul could not look away from the eyes.

The ghost smiled. “Thanks anyway, but I cannot stay. I know the way.” The man looked up and stared into the bright overhead lights, but his gaze was far beyond the bulbs. His mouth whispered one word, and the ghost closed his eyes.

“Let’s go, we’re out of time!” Paul roared even though he knew time was death, and death had already stolen the life they were trying to save. Paul thought death and time were just two faces of the same monster, like a two-headed abomination that sometimes occurs in nature.

Instead of handing back the retractor and stapler, Doctor Quick dropped them to the floor and Delores immediately filled his empty hands with defibrillator paddles. When the machine charged, the short man sent the electrical current into the chest of the patient. For a moment, the muscles in the patient contracted, causing his back to arch off the table. Everyone in the room paused and looked at the monitors.

As the flatline drew out like a blade, the ghost began to disappear, like sugar dissolving in water.

“Charge it again!” Paul commanded as if he were a general giving orders from up on a horse on some ancient battlefield.

Delores pushed the blue button and the machine gave a mechanical whirring noise followed by a flat tone. She gave a sharp nod to the short man.

“Clear!” Doctor Quick shouted. He placed the paddles against the pale flesh and again the electricity arched the back of the patient.

At the same time that the ghost vanished, the monitors noticed a weak pulse. The beat skipped twice, and then began a steady rhythm that kept a normal pace. A collective sigh filled the operating room.

“No matter how many times we do this, I still get the biggest goose bumps every time.” Quick said as he hopped down from the stool. When his stubby legs gained his balance on the floor, he looked up at Paul, who towered over him by almost three feet. Paul was well over six feet tall, not unusual for a man of Spanish decent, but standing next to him, Quick’s Irish four and a half feet always felt so much shorter.

“That’s because Mrs. Quick has you whipped.” Paul said, looking down at his colleague.

At first, the short doctor was speechless, his mouth frozen. Quick slid his glasses back on the bridge of his nose, backed out of the way of the orderlies removing the patient, and then simply shrugged his shoulders. “Oh, like you’re not?”

“Oh no, not me, I rule the roost at my henhouse,” Paul replied, puffing his chest out like a proud rooster. “I am the king of my castle; I wear the pants in my house. When I say, Jump, she says, How high!”

Quick gave him a look of disbelief and a nod to indicate he was slathering on the sarcasm nice and thick.

“Is that so?” Delores asked, interrupting Paul’s ranting. “So you would not mind me bringing that up to Susan at the book club meeting this Saturday, would you?”

“Man alive, I thought you were gone!” Paul said. He turned to see Delores watching him with her arms folded tightly across her chest. She was one of his best friends, and they had come close to fooling around together one drunken night before he married Susan and she married Duane, but they decided to remain friends instead of risking a good thing. “She would make me sleep on the lumpy couch for a week. With no lovin’. That’s not funny.”

“Well if you’re right, you have nothing to worry about. As the self-proclaimed king of his castle, you are not whipped, right, Dr. Paul Vieyra?” she asked sarcastically. “Like you said, when you say jump, she says how high, right?”

“What do you really want?” Paul asked. “I smell extortion here.”

She shrugged her shoulders.

He looked deep into her blue eyes that seemed to be the same color as the deepest parts of the ocean. “What if I doubled the two hundred I owe you for the Patriots game?”

“I suppose we’re negotiating?” she asked. “Negotiating is not extortion, you know.”

“Whatever you call it, I still don’t see what else you could want …” Paul stopped, his mind suddenly registering her target objective, and a horrified expression covered his usually happy face. “Give it up Delores, because it is never going to happen.”

“I want the keys.”

“That car is my baby,” he said. “You can have anything else you want, just not my Porsche. I’ve had her for less than two weeks. You can have my firstborn son, second and third too, just not my new car.”

“I promise I will wash it every day you and Susan are in Paris.”

“No deal,” he said, crossing his arms over his chest to match hers. “I would rather you tell Susan that me and Quick took turns punching cute little fuzzy kittens in the face. At least that’s not as bad as you telling her I went around saying she doesn’t have me whipped like a bad dog. If I must choose between couch and car, I choose the lumpy old couch over the fresh car scent, right Quick?”

“Please don’t drag me down with you, Paul,” Quick said, smiling.

“A car that you are not using while on vacation is better than the couch? I hate sleeping on the couch, tossing and turning night after night, and with no lovin’,” Delores said. “I guess Susan wouldn’t like you and Duane golfing on Sundays either. Now that I think about it, I’m going to tell Susan how you really feel about her cooking.”

“Two conditions,” Paul said, giving in. “Man alive, I should have my head examined for this. The first condition is the custom paint. If a shopping cart even looks at my car, I want you to jump in front of it as if you’re taking a bullet for the president. And no hot-rodding; the Owner’s manual says it needs five hundred miles of easy driving to break in the camshaft-thing.”

She lifted one of her blond eyebrows, inquiring what the mysterious second condition might be.

“The other condition is that Duane and I get to go golfing whenever we want,” Paul negotiated. “That’s the deal, take it or leave it.”

“That was actually three conditions there, Paul,” the short doctor stated.

“Thank you, but you are not helping me, move along,” Paul said in mock anger.

Quick did not move along, too pleased with the chance to witness his mentor squirm like a worm in the razor sharp claws of the eagle named Delores. “I am just saying, way to wear the pants, highness of his castle.”

“Three conditions, then,” Paul said.

“That’s a deal.” Delores smiled. “Duane can go golfing anytime he wants as long as I don’t catch him proclaiming to rule my roost while wearing the pants, but you still owe me two hundred for the Patriots game last Sunday. It was one hundred the week before but you went double or nothing. You are old enough to know better than to be betting on bums.”

“But they’re my bums,” Paul said, genuinely hurt by the admission. “I’m too old to be switching teams now.”

She shook her head at his stubbornness as she removed her soiled scrubs and pushed them into the hazardous waste bin. “Well boys, I’m off to go home and wear the pants and plan illegal street races with your new Porsche. You two have fun.” With a quick wink over her shoulder, she disappeared into the washroom.

“You sure showed her,” Quick said.

“Damn right I did!” Paul said, again puffing his proud chest like a victorious fighting chicken. “This operating room is my house, and around here, I’m in charge!”

Delores pushed the door open and leaned back into the room. “I’m sorry, did you say something about in charge?”

“What I said was,” Paul said, stalling to think. “At her house, she is always in charge. I was just making sure Quick knows all of your rules.”

“That’s what I thought,” she said, knowing exactly what he’d said before she asked. “While you’re at it, king of his castle, how about you go ahead and change your name to Mr. Susan Vieyra and learn to love your lumpy couch? Or maybe you would like me to have Susan super-glue the toilet seat down?”

“Man alive!” Paul replied. “Say what you want about my poor couch, but not the toilet seat! It’s all I have left!”

“Sounds like a king of a castle to me, always crying about the throne. Bon Voyage, boys.” She said and let the door close, leaving Paul and Quick alone in the operating room.

“Tell Quick he did another good job,” the voice of a ghost said. It was a faint and distant voice only heard by Paul, no more than a loud whisper from the corner of the room. “This might be your last surgery together before he moves to the city.”

“You did another excellent job today, Hollywood,” Paul said as if he had just thought of it on his own, not one of his personal three spirits that haunt only his mind. He was glad that today’s events had not led to a fourth. He had tried talking to a therapist about seeing ghosts of patients that died on his operating table, but the only answer psychology could offer was one form of insanity or another. He may not have known why they were haunting only his world, but after several years of seeing the three apparitions every day and night, it became normal for him. Paul looked to his colleague, who was smiling. “Are you really going to give up all this to move down to Los Angeles? What if I were to lower the operating table once in a while?”

“In six months, I will be monitoring the blood pressure of the stars, living peacefully in a crime-free neighborhood,” Quick said. “We’re looking at a five bedroom.”

“How do you know there’s a crime-free neighborhood in Los Angeles?”

“Well, there is one place that criminals will not venture into, that’s for sure.” Quick began to chuckle.

“What’s so funny?” Paul asked.

“It’s a gay community,” Quick said. “If anyone breaks in, they will color-coordinate the furniture, bake some double-fudge brownies, and add Adirondack chairs to the yard before they leave.”

“This gay community just let you in?”

“Sure, why wouldn’t they? They are all super-nice guys and they believe in the buddy-system.”

“Because I figured a gay community would have, you know, certain requirements for membership,” Paul said, raising an eyebrow at the young doctor.

“Well, I told them we’re a couple, but not exclusive to each other. I may have to take you out on a couple of dates, just to convince a few of the neighbors,” Quick said, laughing. “You should join us for the parade next weekend!”

“You’re crazy,” Paul said, beginning to laugh along with the short man. His three ghosts were already laughing.

Chapter Two

After his shift, like clockwork, Paul coasted along the old county highway, making his way to his sister’s ranch, as he did everyday without fail. The radio DJ ruined the end of a great classic song, with a young voice that sounded like the kid might have actually been conceived when that very song he had just played was new and topping the charts. He did proclaim his radio station to be the best, and the best radio station was proud to announce that Eric Clapton was coming to town. Some lucky winner was going to win two front-row tickets before the five o’clock rush hour traffic jams. Then a commercial with testimonials about how well Gold-Bond medicated powder worked for them came on, and Paul switched off the radio.

“You should probably catch that,” a ghost said from the back seat. “I haven’t seen E.C. in years.”

“You call Eric Clapton E.C.?” a woman’s voice asked.

“I sure do,” the first voice said with pride. “I have never heard an E.C. song I didn’t like.”

“I think we just might go see that old man pick his guitar,” Paul told his ghosts. “Susan would get a kick out of seeing a show like that.”

“The exit is coming up on your right; you can make it in the other lane if you hurry,” the third ghost instructed as if he were an award winning back-seat driver. “The faster you get over, the sooner we get to see Rhea.”

“I know where the turn is. Rhea is my sister, not yours,” Paul said, annoyed at the third voice, but he made the lane change by cutting off a silver minivan. Ever since the apparitions appeared, all he had heard from his three mental ghosts was how great his sister was, like paranormal OCD. “Keep it down back there.”

“Or else what?” the defiant third ghost replied. “You can’t do anything to us that you have already done. Just get me to Rhea’s or I will make it worse. Turn here.”

Paul did not have a reply to his empty threats, but thankfully, the three of them rode in silence. He exited the smooth county road and turned onto an old two-lane road riddled with potholes and cracks. There were no white lines marking the sides of the old road, only short weeds struggling to grow between the ditch and the pavement. A faded yellow dash attempted to center the lanes, but it veered and disappeared at random, making it unreliable. As he traveled down the small stretch of road to the farm, large sunflower plants leaned over the fence and bobbed in the gentle breeze on the other side of the barbed wire fence, as if nodding their daily how-do-you-do’s to a familiar face.

In his passenger side mirror, Paul saw a black horse, colorless and covered with a hide as dark as crow feathers on a moonless night, first catching up to and then it began sprinting alongside the sports car. He tapped the accelerator for a quick burst of speed, but the horse and rider shot into the lead like a living bullet.

The rider’s long blond hair bounced in the wind, seemingly free of gravity’s bond, and she matched every powerful stride the magnificent beast made, as if the two were one. As the field gave way to the fence, both lifted in unison, and Paul wished the horse would somehow grow long black Pegasus wings, able to take flight with his sister up to the clouds instead of landing and coming to a dusty stop. The black stallion reared his head up and stomped hard at the dirt, indicating he would like another run at the fields, just to show the shiny black automobile what he could do. Its tight muscular flanks twitched with anticipation, should the car decide to race again back the other way towards the bobbing sunflowers.
Book Info:

Print Length: 259 pages
Publisher: 48fourteen 
Publication Date: August 30, 2012)
ASIN: B0094GZ3W6

Buy the Book:

About the Author:

     R.L. King was born in Grants Pass, Oregon, in 1978. King grew up in a poor mountain town. He and his family lived in an old school bus and shared an outhouse. They did not have a television until Reagan was re-elected.

     King is the author of Two Bad Men (2005), Parallel You (2006), and Dead Heart (2007). These novels were created at the request of his friend who needed something good to read. King also published two short stories in 2010, for publishing credentials: The Tell-Tale Soul and The Water-Grave Redemption.

     R.L. King currently resides in Oklahoma City, and works in the precious metals industry. He continues to write as late as he can most nights.

Find his short stories @ and


Tour Schedule:

Mon Nov 26th
Guest Post @KV Loves Books

Tue Nov 27th 
 Review with Promo @

Wed Nov 28, 2012
Promo: The Book Hoard -

Thu Nov 29, 2012
Guest post + promo: A Soul Unsung blog -

Fri Nov 30, 2012
Promo: The Paperback Pursuer -

Sat Dec 1, 2012
Guest post: Eternally Books –

Mon Dec 3, 2012
Guest post + promo: Nette’s Bookshelf Reviews -

Tue Dec 4, 2012
Review: Stuffed Shelves Blog -

Wed Dec 5, 2012
Promo: SIK Book Reviews -

Thu Dec 6, 2012
Guest post + promo: Sarah Ballance (pg13) - http://sarahballance.

Fri Dec 7, 2012
Review +promo: Picked by Poison -

Mon Dec 10, 2012
Promo: A Bibliophiles Thoughts on Books -

Tue Dec 11, 2012
Promo: Sapphyria’s Book Reviews -

Wed Dec 12, 2012
Review: My Cozie Corner Blog -

Thu Dec 13, 2012
Promo: A Dream Within A Dream -

Fri Dec 14, 2012
Guest post + promo: The Dark Phantom Blog -

Mon Dec 17, 2012
Guest post + promo: Mama Knows Books blog - http://mamaknowsbooks.blogspot

Tue Dec 18, 2012
Interview: Comfort Books Blog -

Wed Dec 19, 2012
Review: Beverly @ The Wormhole -

Thu Dec 20, 2012
Promo: Reviews By Molly -

Fri Dec 21, 2012
Review: Just Another Rabid Reader -

Mon Dec 24, 2012
Interview: Simply Infatuated Blog -

PROMO: Dec 29th, 2012

Tweet about the Tour:
@paranormalcravi @RlKing1 #DeadHeartTour

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Review # 253: The Tale of Lucia Grandi - The Early Years by Susan Speranza

Description: (from Amazon)
     When an old woman is asked to tell the story of her life, she tells is an intense and poignant tale about growing up in and surviving an irrational, warring suburban family during the 1950s and 60s. The narrative is told from Lucia’s perspective as the second child where she and her siblings are caught in the middle of a lifelong war between her mother, Ruth, an overbearing, unhappy homemaker, and her father, Leonard, a manipulative, sometimes violent New York City cop. Lucia is the silent, thoughtful eyewitness to her parents’ constant and sometimes life-threatening battle.   
     The story is told as a memoir; each chapter describes a particular incident in Lucia’s life which shows the constant struggle between her parents and the perverse effect it has on her and her siblings. From her complicated and unwanted birth, to her witnessing a suicide at age 3, to her stint as a runaway at age 14, the story progresses to the final crisis where as a young woman, she is turned out of her house and banished from her family forever.This timeless story of one woman’s courageous attempt to come to terms with her past and the troubled family that dominated it is powerfully and poignantly told.
*This novel recently made it to the Quarter final rounds in the 

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest!!!


     There comes to a point in time when a person has to evaluate their life - what is to come, what has been, and how it is/was lived. Everyone's life is wholly unique, filled with a conglomeration of seemingly random events, emotions, triumphs and regrets. Each individual has a distinct personality for leaving their mark on the world - no matter their age. Everyone has a story, and The Tale of Lucia Grandi: The Early Years is one that I will not soon forget! I was hooked to Lucia's story from the first page, her kind and down-to-earth wits creating a welcoming and slightly comedic tone. I knew that she was going to be a handful of a character, but I felt an instant resonance towards her and her temperament. Susan Speranza weaved an emotional tale that can be enjoyed by a diverse readership - perfect for any walk of life. Her poetic writing style was visually stimulating, as well as easy-to-understand. Lucia's fictitious biography, although rather large, proved to be a powerful and  worthwhile read. I learned a great many life lessons from her actions and experiences and was left wanting more, (The Later Years?). The novel carried a moderate pace, a structured story-line, bold characters, and a historical charm that never ceased to keep me interested; Lucia's life was thoroughly lived - through thick and thin. I would definitely read it again. Highly recommended for all readers!

Rating: On the Run (4.5/5)

***I received a copy of this book from the author (Lightning Book Promotions) in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

About the Aurthor: (from Amazon)

     Once upon a Time...I was born in New York City and grew up on Long Island where I had an interesting and creative childhood. Once in college, I studied Psychology and Philosophy, but since "thinking" didn't translate into earning money or job security, I worked at a variety of different and unrelated jobs both in New York City and on Long Island.

     ​In order to keep me sane through all the craziness of life, I spent my spare time writing. Anything and everything. The culmination of this was a fantasy - The City of Light - which has recently been reissued as an ebook.

    ​I took up the hobby of dog showing and breeding and produced many Pekingese Champions. You can see them over at our Castlerigg Pekingese website (

     ​Somewhere in the middle of my life so far, after a great personal upheaval, I went back to school, became a High School Librarian. I managed to fulfill my childhood dream of living in the country when I finally escaped suburbia and moved to Vermont where I now happily live with my beautiful Pekes.
But I've never stopped writing. ​My biography (as with my life, I hope) is to be continued...

     THE TALE OF LUCIA GRANDI, THE EARLY YEARS is my first novel. I recently entered the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, where this novel made it unexpectedly to the Quarter finals. It was also on the short list of finalists in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Competition. The book was entered in both contests under its former name, MY LIFE IN DOGS, THE EARLY YEARS. For more information visit:

Tour schedule:


1st Phaedra @ Identity Discovery (guest post)

2nd Sheila @ Sheila Deeth (guest post)

3rd Andi @ Radiant Light

5th Vidya @ Books are Magic

7th Denise @ The Pen Muse

9th Darryl @ Savage Lullabye (spotlight)

10th Nicole @ Pretty Opinionated (guest post)

11th Georgiana @ Coupon Clipping Texan

12th Bette @ 4writersandreaders (interview)

13th Marissa @ For The Love of Film and Novels (guest post)

14th vb @ Books For Me

15th Julia @ Talk Story TV (interview)

16th Melina @ Melina’s Book Blog (guest post)

19th Leslie @ Storeybook Reviews

21st Kathleen @ Celticlady Reviews

22nd Allizabeth @ The Paperback Pursuer 

24th Hayley @ Hanging Off The Wire

25th Autumn @ The Avid Reader

Friday, November 16, 2012

Review # 252: Alien Illuminati - Abductions, Psychic Dreams, Premonitions & Paranormal by Benjamin Hulett

      Alien Illuminati is based on Benjamin Hulett's personal experiences with alien abductions, psychic dreams, premonitions, and the paranormal. The first section of the book documents Benjamin's true accounts and experiences with these supernatural occurrences, also providing "undeniable" proof of their existence. The second section is written as a novel and recounts these experiences in story format.


     As a scientist, I have always wondered about what - or who - lives beyond our solar system. I figure, if Earth has the conditions to support life, then why can't other planets sustain living organisms as well? Which is why I jumped at the chance to read Benjamin Hulett's Alien Illuminati, a first-person account of the extraterrestrial. First-off, I noticed the neat cover-art, the colors and sharp lines immediately grabbing my attention. Second, I discovered the format - the first section was an in-depth overview of the author's experiences, with documents and facts supporting his supernatural claims; while the last half was a story-like recounting of events leading up to, during, and after his run-in with an otherworldly being (no spoilers!). The first section started off slow, the pace was not ideal, but the content quickly picked up speed, blurring the lines between the normal and the paranormal. I had never given much thought to alien abductions/ modifications, but the first few sections were shocking and thought provoking. Benjamin's timeline and stories seemed impossible, yet hauntingly believable. I was not a fan of the overall set-up or the minimal editing, however I was still very interested in hearing what he had to say, so such trivial errors were simple to ignore. The sections about his psychic dreams were the most bizarre and unsettling, but I liked his accounts and vivid descriptions. Alien Illuminati was a very interesting and unexpected book, indeed. Sure, I am still a skeptic, but Benjamin's well-documented experiences with the unknown have left me eager for more instances of intergalactic truths. Are non-earth life-forms already here? In my lifetime, I may never know, but the evidence seems to indicate that "they" are definitely among us. Recommended to readers interested in science-fact/ science-fiction pertaining to space and the possibility of extraterrestrial life.

Rating: Bounty's Out (3.5/5)

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

About the Author:

     Benjamin Hulett is a diverse author. He writes horror, as well as sci-fi/fantasy and is also into topics involving paranormal, and government conspiracies. He has written three novels to date, “Alien Illuminati,” being his first release. Benjamin Hulett is a single father whom has survived much adversity in his life, and has beaten death on many occasions. He has survived for a reason, and his reason is detailed in this first release. To contact Benjamin Hulett, please email him at You can also find Hulett Publishing on Facebook. Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Review # 251: Blaming Japhy Rider - Memoir of a Dharma Bum Who Survived by Philip A. Bralich PhD

Description: (from GoodReads)
     Blaming Japhy Rider is a memoir/expose of the seedier side of the beats, the hippies, and the new age. Inspired by and responding to Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginzberg, and others, this book reports on a 30 year journey into Eastern and Western psychology and philosophy to resolve an intractable case of PTSD brought on by an accident in the Peace Corps in West Africa which cost the author's wife her life and him much of the use of his left leg.


     Blaming Japhy Rider was a very interesting memoir; full of emotion, heartbreak, triumph and inspiration. Philip A. Bralich's spiritual and psychological journey was supplemented with content influenced by the most prolific writers of the "Beat Generation", particularly Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. I was surprised by how much I learned from his surroundings and experiences, especially his fight with PTSD, a disorder that is misunderstood even in today's society. The story was well-written, had a median-pace, and was highly affective. Philip's "character" was anything but boring, and his story was one that I will definitely recommend to friends and readers.

Rating: Bounty's Out (3.5/5)

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Review # 250: Smeared by Mark Rogers

Description: (from GoodReads)
     In Washington D.C. where actual policy change is a fool’s game while voter manipulation an every day occurrence, Hartford Keepe is everybody’s go-to guy. Chief of Staff to six term, senator, Harold P. Feldstone, chairman of the almighty Senate Appropriations Committee, Hartford wields his influence like a skilled marksman with uncanny aim. His job, his lot in life, his sole reason for being, is to keep the senator in power. Annie Green, Hart’s live-in girlfriend, doesn’t buy the image he pedals. She believes government’s claim of attracting the best and the brightest is pure fraud and sees her boyfriend as one of those geniuses helping to shove her country over a cliff. She wastes entirely too much of her time trying to uncover his conscience, temper his actions and salvage their relationship. When a formal little man named Thomas, decked out in eighteenth century colonial garb, with no last name and no recent memory, pokes his head into the crosshairs, Hart can hardly believe his luck. He figures the gods aren’t just smiling on him, they’re throwing him a party. Then somewhere between the “no return point” and “what the hell have I done,” Hart realizes he’s unleashed a smear campaign on this unsuspecting little dupe, of gargantuan proportions. Not only is the man’s survival in jeopardy, so is the fate of a nation. 


     I have never been one for political-based novels, but the blurb of Mark Rogers' Smeared sounded very interesting - not to mention funny. I was intrigued at the start, the well-written and researched story-line very relevant to Americas' current political state. The historical aspects, as well as the "what-if" scenarios were entertaining, easy-to-understand and highly educational. I would have loved to read this back in high school, however, I was not a fan of the conservative-bent during the last half of the book. I felt that the beginning provided a balanced view of the political spectrum and a more developed picture of the characters, but I was disappointed by the one-sided rhetoric of the book's overall climax and resolution (no spoilers!). Although Mark Rogers' ideas about Americas' political system and its shortcomings were interesting, I was put-off by some of the "smears" against more liberal methods. Recommended for readers interested in an attention-getting political read with some very timely subject matter! Good read for election month!

Rating: Bounty's Out (3.5/5)

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Review # 249: What Kills Me by Wynne Channing

The fight for survival begins.
Description: (from GoodReads)
     An ancient prophecy warns of a girl destined to cause the extinction of the vampire race. So when 17-year-old Axelia falls into a sacred well filled with blood and emerges a vampire, the immortal empire believes she is this legendary destroyer. Hunted by soldiers and mercenaries, Axelia and her reluctant ally, the vampire bladesmith Lucas, must battle to survive.
     How will she convince the empire that she is just an innocent teenager-turned bloodsucker and not a creature of destruction? And if she cannot, can a vampire who is afraid of bugs summon the courage to fight a nation of immortals?


     I used to be quite obsessed with the young adult vampire genre, devouring several paranormal reads per week, but the popularity of the Twilight series spurned my attention. Suddenly, everyone was writing, (and reading), vampire-based novels; most of which were bloodless in comparison to their predecessors. About 60% of the teen vampire books that I attempted to read after 2008 paralleled Twilight - or tried to - Girl meets sexy vampire. Girl wants to be a vampire too. Brooding vampire tells girl to stay away because he's dangerous. Girl ignores vampire, etc... I could only take so much of this "originality" before I was entirely burnt out on the genre. Until recently, I wouldn't even accept vampire fiction review requests, but a couple of interesting blurbs managed to make it into my inbox, and What Kills Me by Wynne Channing was one of them. First-off, I'll admit I was lured in by the cover art - loved the color palate and the ethereal detail. Usually, I try not to be swayed by the cover's literary agenda, (thus, "Don't judge a book by its cover"), however, It spiked my interest enough for perusal.

     After the first chapter, I was worried. I loved Wynne Channing's way with words - evocative and well-balanced - but I was not a fan of Axelia (Zee). She seemed like she was going to be another immature, limp-wristed heroine with a penchant for trouble. I was rather annoyed with her, unable to get into her personality, but when push-came-to-shove, she not only transformed from human to vampire, but also from sad-ass to bad-ass! As soon as the action kicked in, I was hooked; the pace just quick enough to propel me from cover to cover in a single night! Zee's will to survive against all odds resonated with me. Sure, she needed protection - cue Lucas - but she was not a weakling by any means; her lite sarcastic streak a notable indication. Speaking of Lucas, I enjoyed his character as well. He was not the typical "handsome hero", he had a realistic and well-crafted back-story, as well as a great set of family/relationship dynamics. I will admit, he too took getting used to, but in reality, how long does it take to really get to know someone? I was surprised how well-developed the characters were for a YA novel, especially since this is the first in a series, (and the first book by this author!). The interactions and dialogue were believable, although Zee tended to talk too much, but the build-up of the action, romance, and overall tension towards the novel's zenith was my favorite part! The entire story-line leading up to the pulse-pounding climax (No Spoilers!) was thought out and executed smoothly. I was glad to see such a refreshingly original take on vampire mythology, only noting the slightest trace of the Twilight-esque. I will definitely be on the lookout for Wynne's next novel, and recommend What Kills Me for teens and adults ready for a new take on the vampire genre!

Rating: On the Run (4/5)

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

About the Author:

Wynne Channing is an award-winning national newspaper reporter and young adult novelist.

She started writing horror/fantasy tales as a girl. She still has the first novel that she wrote when she was 10. It’s (unintentionally) hilarious.

Wynne loves telling stories, and as a journalist, she has interviewed everyone from Daniel Radcliffe and Hugh Jackman to the president of the Maldives and Duchess Sarah Ferguson. The closest she has come to interviewing a vampire is sitting down with True Blood's Alexander Skarsgard (he didn’t bite).

She briefly considered calling her debut novel “Well” so then everyone would say: “Well written by Wynne Channing.”

Friday, November 2, 2012

Review # 248: The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages - A Book Promotion Reference Guide for Authors and Small Press Publishers (3rd Ed.) by

     The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages is one of the most comprehensive guides to finding quality online book reviewers who specialize in specific genres. This resource gives author's/ publisher's the marketing information that they need to promote their books, no matter what format - eBooks, paperbacks, self-published books, etc...! Each reviewer is asked to be included in the book, no website pays to be added to this resource. Every listing details the reviewer's guidelines for submission and contact information. In addition, all reviewers are rated based on their "quality and influence" levels - taking into account the review site's age and follower count.


     Being The Paperback Pursuer, I understand the value of an honest book review - for both the author, and the book itself. Everyone who writes a book, no matter what subject or genre, deserves to have their work read, critiqued, and shared with readers. That is why it is critical to find reviewers who take pride in their work and appreciate the written word - in any format. With the advent of eReaders, audiobooks, and other digital resources of the electronic age, reading has evolved, and the readers have changed with it; thus why it can be so hard to find a reviewer specializing in the genre, as well as the format, of a particular book. Just try typing "paranormal nonfiction psychic eBook .pdf book reviewer" into the Google search box and browse the results. There may be 20,800 results, but most of them are not what you are seeking, and there is no rating system for reviewers, (that I'm aware of), so the search can be quite time-consuming, and sometimes, expensive. That is why I was so excited to hear about The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages! Authors/Publishers no longer have to sift through endless review sites to determine a reviewer's influence and submission guidelines because this book rates reviewers based on their reach and preferences. Each review site (including TPP) has its own page which includes a description, a chart describing frequency of posts, site activity, and number of followers; blog URL, contact info, book format info, genres accepted/denied, blog tour and giveaway info, review turn-around time, reviewer pet-peeves, promotions, fees, and info on where reviews are posted (FaceBook, Twitter, Amazon, B&N, GoodReads, LibraryThing, etc...). Most review sites even include an overall influence rating (1-5 stars) and advertising info. There are also tips for contacting reviewers and requesting a review! There are more than 130 reviewers included, most of whom have been around awhile and take the review process seriously -  all of whom are book lovers! There are a few typos, but the resource itself is not affected; we are reviewers, not editors, :P. Highly recommended for those seeking honest, well-written, and influential reviews! If you are looking for a review, you can find The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages in many formats on Amazon, as well as at these links:
  • Buy it now as a downloadable PDF for $3.99
  • Buy it now as a PDF: $3.99 (No DRM!)
  • Buy it now as a paperback: $14.99 On Amazon
  • Buy it now on Kindle: $3.99 (No DRM)
  • Buy it now on Nook: $3.99 (No DRM) 
  • Buy it now on Kobo: $3.99 (No DRM)

Rating: On the Run (4.5/5)

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Review # 247: Voices in the Valley by Suravi Sharma Kumar

Description: (from Amazon)
     Against the backdrop of a politically turbulent Assam, a young girl named Millie is determined to make her voice heard. She spends her childhood in a rural set-up with seven sisters, three anxious matriarchs and a resigned father this is what her small world is all about.
     Born in a family of priests, she struggles with orthodoxy and convention, and goes on to become a student leader something which only foreshadows the bigger role she is destined to play. A flawed horoscope delays her marriage, but hastens her emancipation. Her tryst with romance is overwhelming, and sweeps her off her feet, but…
     Ethnic clashes, militant activities, violent elections disturb the countryside, otherwise home to several tribal communities, lush tea gardens, exotic orchids, sundry birds, one-horned rhinos and much more.


     I have always wanted to travel the world in order to experience the richness of other cultures. Architecture, landscapes, ethnic cuisine and historical tidbits have fascinated me my whole life; so when I get the chance to read about these places, especially countries of the Middle- and Far East, I do not hesitate to make the most of the opportunity. Voices in the Valley is the story of a middle class Indian family told from the point-of-view of their oldest daughter, Millie. Millie and her four sisters are seeking suitable husbands, but their parents are very particular about the candidates, causing unneeded family drama and inevitably pushing Millie in another direction - graduate school. Here, Millie takes on more of a leadership role and begins standing up for her politico-ethnic ideals and doing what she can to protect her country, even though she is up against seemingly insurmountable odds. Her family disapproves, more persistent about marriage, but their constant bickering hinders the situation more than it helps. Only after a tragedy does Millie discover that the only choice besides marriage is to break Indian tradition and follow her own path. This novel took me on a journey through a side of India that I had never experienced. The vivid and fully-immersive writing style transported me to the lush and colorful lands of Upper Assam, allowing me to “feel” the liveliness and emotion of such a beautiful culture/ location. My senses were enlivened by the aesthetic descriptions and artfully crafted dialogue. Even with the need for some grammatical corrections, I found Suravi Sharma Kumar’s use of metaphor and Indian language poetic and culturally stimulating - I loved the the ebb and flow of the Indian names; Leelaboti, Satya Nanda, Manosi, Zunaki, Omiya, and Bibha, etc.... I do not often hear names like these, and have an appreciation for their sounds and meanings. Speaking of characters, I was impressed by their well-developed personalities, as well as the integration of cultural/ societal norms and tradition. I enjoyed how the characters, particularly Millie and her sisters, interacted with each other and their environment(s). I could tell that Kumar was invested in each character, as was I. I learned a great many things about Indian culture and politics by reading this novel; every page held something new and exotic for me to perpend. There were a couple translation issues - to be expected - but they were only a slight deterrent from experiencing the rest of the book. That said, I admit Voices in the Valley was a challenging read - in a good way - due to the flowering prose and the use of beautiful, yet difficult to pronounce, foreign names. The book also took a few chapters to get into, but my interest in the topic kept me captive. I enjoyed the cover art as well! Recommended for readers interested in a sensory journey throughout northeast India, as well as in its ethnic and political spheres.

Rating: On the Run (4/5)

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

About Dr. Suravi Kumar

     Suravi Sharma Kumar is a doctor by profession but has always been fascinated by the world of literature. What inspired her to write this book was the fact that most of mainland India is still unfamiliar with the country's Northeast and is unaware of its innate beauty. This is her first book and is based on her research and experiences in the valley.

Tour Schedule:


29th Andrea @ Andi’s Book Reviews

30th Phaedra @ Identity Discovery

30th Georgiana @ Coupon Clippin Texan

31st Gaele @ I am, Indeed


1st Angie @ Angie Mangino

2nd Allizabeth @ The Paperback Pursuer 

4th Elizabeth @ Stuffed Shelves

5th Autumn @ The Avid Reader

6th Jade @ Jade Kerrion