the final summit by andy andrews

Written by Darlyn At Tuesday, October 18, 2011 2 bookish peeps...
Title: The Final Summit:A Quest to Find the One Principle That Will Save Humanity
Author: Andy Andrews
Pages: 224
Published: April 12th, 2011
Rating: 3.5/5
Source: Receive for review

Synopsis (Goodreads):

David Ponder is back and this time the fate of mankind may be in his hands. David Ponder is in a race against time. He's been chosen by the archangel Gabriel to lead a summit of fellow travelers, using their wisdom and experience to save mankind before all that is known is destroyed. Though reluctant, Ponder soon finds himself traveling to the most unlikely of places to interview the most fascinating of subjects such as Winston Churchill, Joan of Arc, and Abraham Lincoln. Will the group come up with the answer in time? What could possibly be the one action that could turn the tides of history?

The Final Summit is the long-awaited sequel to The Traveler's Gift but will stand alone as its own compelling and important parable with truths for our times.

What I Think:

I didn’t know that this book is actually a sequel to the first book. I picked it with just being interested with the synopsis. The story is actually about a quest of a man named David Ponder, as he is summoned by the great Archangel Gabriel where he gets to meet a lot of interesting and wonderful people throughout history in order to save humanity. The book can be portrayed as a great quest of Christian faith and history. Nevertheless, I like the book as well as the character of David Ponder. His character is quite inspiring with his efforts to study the history while he was on the quest in order to complete his task. The best part would be how they can travel through time! That is super awesome, no? I must say that the story is actually related or can be related to our daily life. It seems like we have to learn about the past, study what went wrong, take it as guidance as we live our life for a better future. The book might have some flaw when there’s a few time I don’t get it much (about bible and all), I felt of because I was disconnected with the characters (as well as the Archangel). But like-wise, the book is great to make us off from the reality (with quite a lot of heavy thinking; maybe it's just me).

Disclaimer: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. These are my honest review and receiving a copy in no way will ever reflected my review.

interview: Author Rebeca Coleman

Written by Darlyn At Wednesday, October 05, 2011 3 bookish peeps...
Rebecca Coleman is the author of THE KINGDOM OF CHILDHOOD, an utterly absorbing look at the breakdown of a woman and a family, beautifully written novel that explores a relationship between a teenager and a teacher as it veers from platonic to unsettlingly forbidden territory.

So today I got an opportunity to join her virtual tour and get to ask her some questions.

D: Your manuscript for the TKOC was a semifinalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Competition! Tell us a little more about this.

That was a lot of fun. My friend Erika suggested I enter my manuscript-- the contest hadn't been on my radar at all-- so I did, because it's free and I had nothing to lose. And then the book ended up making it through one round after another until it was a semifinalist. I'd gotten a Publisher's Weekly review as part of that process, and it was a very strong one-- they called the book "a scalding, engaging portrait" of two people "caught in a trap of their own making." Having that review in hand was extremely helpful in getting an agent. But the process was also just very fun and exciting-- it was like a horse race, betting on which entries would make the next cut, because Amazon posted excerpts at one stage. One of the finalists that year was Johnny Shaw, who I ran into at BookExpo as he was promoting "Dove Season." He's a great guy, very funny. Entering ABNA is like being on "Survivor"-- you make friends and alliances, and other people you want to vote off the island on the first day.

D: How long did it take you to write the book?

From concept to completion, about two and a half years. That's not a very long time, on the scale of novel-writing, but it feels like a long time when you have no idea whether this is a work project or just an obsessive hobby.

D: Did you do any special research on Waldorf for the book?

I read Torin Finser's "School as a Journey," which is a very detailed look into a Waldorf teacher's mind and classroom, and I read a great deal by Rudolf Steiner, who is the originator of the philosophy. But I also spent a lot of time reading forums and websites by people who felt disenfranchised by Waldorf and critical of it. Because I idealized it for so long, it's oddly painful to be critical. I felt I did my due diligence with research, but mainly I relied upon my real-life experience with it-- attending school events and festivals, observing my son's classroom, and working with the materials-- the toys and art supplies, the storybooks. It's all been a part of my life for many years.
Thanks so much Rebecca!

About the Book

The Kingdom of Childhood is the story of a boy and a woman; sixteen-year-old Zach Patterson, uprooted and struggling to reconcile his knowledge of his mother's extramarital affair, and Judy McFarland, a kindergarten teacher watching her family unravel before her eyes. Thrown together to organize a fundraiser for their failing private school and bonded by loneliness, they begin an affair that at first thrills, then corrupts each of them. Judy sees in Zachthe elements of a young man she loved as a child, but what Zach does not realize is that their relationship is, for Judy, only the latest in a lifetime of disturbing secrets.

~~~~ Scavenger hunt ~~~~

"Yeah, but it's still safer if you use them."

"Safer for what? I don't have any diseases. Do you?"

In a scornful voice he said, "No. But they say you ought to act like everybody does,anyhow."

I gave a deprecating laugh. "Oh, the things they teach you teenagers."

*Head over to Chick Lit Plus on 10/7 for the next installment from



About the Author

Rebecca Coleman received her B.A. in English literature from the University of Maryland at College Park and speaks to writers' groups on the subjects of creative writing and publishing. A native New Yorker, she now lives and works near Washington, D.C. Her manuscript for The Kingdom of Childhood was a semifinalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Competition. An emotionally tense, increasingly chilling work of fiction set in the controversial Waldorf school community, it is equal parts enchanting and unsettling and is sure to be a much discussed and much-debated novel.

seven: seven strangers one purpose by paige agnew

Written by Darlyn At Tuesday, October 04, 2011 4 bookish peeps...
Title: Seven
Author: Paige Agnew
Pages: 392
Published: February 10th, 2011
Rating: 4/5


Meet the characters: Cecilia and Tommy: Two best friends who live on the wrong side of the tracks with crumbled lives and neglectful parents. They think running away from home will make things easier. They never imagined what they had in store. Can their friendship stand the test of Seven? Greg: He wakes up in the morning with a fresh cup of coffee, goes to work, comes home, goes to sleep, wakes up to another fresh cup of coffee, goes to work, comes home, and goes to bed. When his rote and monotonous life slowly starts to unravel, Greg, the puzzle solving lawyer, falls apart. Will be unravel completely before Seven’s done with him? Hazel and Kale: Just two teenagers madly in love. Kale’s wanted Hazel since he first laid eyes on her. Hazel needs Kale as he is the only stability in her life, the only one that can really be there for her since her parents’ jobs are more important to than their daughter. They thought the summer would be a chance for their newfound love to blossom. Will it even have the chance to before Seven rips it apart? Kariann: Supermom leads a hectic life. When she’s not taking care of her son, Noah, she’s teaching and during the summer she works at the day care center, taking care of everyone else’s kids. It’s what she’s good at. Taking care of people. Add to that list her needy sister and newly widowed father, along with an irresponsible, pestering ex-boyfriend who happens to be Noah’s father. She’s Ms. Fix-it. But how can she possibly make anything better when she’s captured by Seven? Jonathan: Finally, there’s Jonathan. He’s dark. Clever as a snake and as temperamental as one, too. All he wanted was to be left alone. Was that too much to ask? Yes. As much as he’d like to ignore it, the self proclaimed bad boy might be the only match for Seven. When seven strangers are thrown together to be pawns in a psycho’s mind game, they realize that they have to work together to reach their true potential or it could very well mean their death. Seven strangers. Seven stories. One chance to not only saves their lives, but to change them in ways they’d never even imagined possible.

My Two Cents:

Frankly speaking, I love how the book was written. At first, I thought the book will be boring because I expected that it would be difficult to relate seven strangers together and make them as the center of the story attraction. But I was proven wrong. Even though it may be not the best book ever written, I kind of impressed with the young author. I've read her "Starless Sky' last year and like it very much. Like her previous book, Agnew put an intense storyline, a little of mysteries as well as suspense. The best part of all, the twist and turn of the story because I think the book also is a psychology thriller, which is a genre that I like. But at some points, I have to admit that I lost my interest because of too much elaborating on certain parts, as I think the part should not be included and without it, the story would be just great too. Nonetheless, you should not give up to keep reading it.

The book has something promising and I was overwhelmed by it. Like I said earlier, the book maybe not the best written ever, but when a 17 years old teenager wrote it with a great intense, made a complicated story with a simple twist, that must be something cool about the author, and the book. Two thumbs up!

guest post: Author Cynthia Kocialski

Written by Darlyn At Monday, October 03, 2011 0 bookish peeps...
How I Wrote My First Book on a Whim

As a first time author, I am new to writing and publishing. I never planned on being author. In fact, a few colleagues mentioned I should write a book over lunch one day and on a whim, I decided to do it. No pursuit of a lifelong dream, no grand plans, just a spur of the moment decision. I am sure I made plenty of mistakes, many of which I am not aware of yet. I’m sure there are better ways to approach writing than the way I went about it. I was naïve, but I’m learning.

My first challenge was deciding what I should write about. I knew I would write about entrepreneurs and start-up companies, but I didn’t know exactly what. I started with a blog. I noted which posts were more popular than others. Since it takes time to build a substantial audience, I can say that I didn’t build a blog for long enough. When I started, I had no idea how much effort would be in blogging and now I fully understand why so many people start blogs and then abandon them.

Then I got involved with social networking. I was unprepared for this effort as well. Like blogging, the writing part was easy, it was the promotion and audience building that was seemed all consuming. At this point, I prefer Facebook to Twitter. I can summarize a business point in about 100 words for a Facebook posting, but the 140 characters limit on Twitter is too short for me. I consider tweeting a shorten link directing the reader to a longer article a way of circumventing the intent of the limit.

As I attend many business meetings, conferences, and networking events, I started to look at these events through a different lens. I would always note which events were the ones with more attendees. When it came to the Q&A portion of the meeting, I started to jot down the questions being asked of the speakers. I started to categorize and group the questions together to see what topics seem to garner attention.

As I was sitting through a break-out session at a conference, I had that spark of inspiration about what I would write. I had already reached the conclusion that the bulk of the audience was the first time entrepreneurs, who had an idea and wanted to start a new business. I had also reached the conclusion that business people were more interested in stories or information that would help them solve their problems.

Many newbie entrepreneurs didn’t know how to launch a company, or they had gotten started and had quickly stalled. Almost every entrepreneur thinks their idea is so brilliant that investors will fall in love with it and hand them a mountain of funding to bring the idea to market – which of course, doesn’t happen. There is a format that investors want to see business proposals presented to them, and them there is an evaluation criteria. The chapters in my book follow this format sequence, with more chapters devoted to areas that are more heavily weighted in the evaluation.

So finally, I had my topic. Before I started writing, someone suggested I research similar books on the same topic. can be a wonderful research tool. I wanted to know what readers thought about those books, why they really liked or disliked them. I focused on reading the 5-star and 1-star reviews, and I tried to include what readers liked and fix what readers didn’t.

I am impatient. The effort outlined above was not a day, a week or a month activity. By this point I was ready to write my book, which took months to write. In a nutshell, now that I am six months into promoting my book, I learned that being an author is the same as being an entrepreneur and starting a new business. It’s just on a smaller scale.

My book is Startup From The Ground Up - Practical Insights for Entrepreneurs, How to Go from an Idea to New Business”. It explores why an entrepreneur can only go so far with just an idea. New businesses don’t fail because companies are unable to build a product or offer a service; they fail because the business factors needed to bring that product into the market are misunderstood, neglected or ignored. “Startup from the Ground Up” provides practical advice for how to get an entrepreneur gets moving down the right path and thinking in the right direction with practical tips, strategies, techniques and stories on how to transform an idea into a company.

So there you have it, how I wrote my book. However, like any other start-up, I can say that marketing the product is 2 to 3 times as much work as the writing.

About the Author

Cynthia Kocialski is the founder of three tech start-ups companies. In the past 15 years, she has been involved in dozens of start-ups. Cynthia writes the Start-up Entrepreneurs’ Blog ( and has written the book, “Startup From The Ground Up - Practical Insights for Entrepreneurs, How to Go from an Idea to New Business” (

the hardline self help handbook: what are you willing to do to get what you really want by paula renaye

Written by Darlyn At Tuesday, August 09, 2011 3 bookish peeps...
Title: The Hardline Self Help Handbook: What Are You Willing to Do to Get What You Really Want
Author: Paula Renaye
Pages: 152

Series: Non-fiction / Self-help
Published: April 21st, 2011
Rating: 4.5/5
Source: Receive for review
Buy at: Amazon IndieBound

Summary :

The Hardline Self Help Handbook challenges readers to find out in this fast-track course of self-discovery and self-empowerment. By taking the "kiss" approach to self help, Hardline cuts to the chase and gives you simple, practical and easy techniques that will transform your life the minute you start working with them. Using a straightforward no-holds-barred approach, Paula Renaye gets in the trenches and shows how we cause ourselves unnecessary conflict, confusion and pain—and how we can stop. Often funny, sometimes sad, and always revealing, the brutally frank firsthand stories help readers connect with similar situations in their own lives, see opportunities for making different choices and find the courage to make them. In this down-to-earth practical guide, you'll sink your teeth into 13 tough-love bullets and learn how two simple questions can instantly clear up confusion about "what to do" and keep you on track with your goals. You'll discover the "Big 4" questions that will forever change the way you look at your "wants" and make it easier to get what you're really after. There are also some creative, practical and useful tips for dealing with negative people—and ways to uncover negative traits of your own that need reprogramming. And much, much more! Each chapter is packed with practical yet powerful tools to make positive changes quickly followed by “Line It Out” exercises that dig deep and make working the techniques personal. Whether it's a relationship issue, a health crisis, career collapse or other personal challenge, you'll gain the insight you need to find your way out of the dark tunnel and into joy. So, if you feel stuck and you're ready—really ready—to make positive changes in your life, this book will show you how to do it. And, the transformation starts immediately, because once you know—you know. Make the courageous choice to do what you know you need to do—to fix what needs fixing—and start living your joy!

My Two Cents:

For once, I thought the book ought to be one of the book that never stop preaching you, dragging over and over about how could we change ourself in being someone much better. That proves me wrong after finishing the book last night. With less than 160 pages, very short and sweet presentation to readers, I was hooked up and the book was very very interesting to put down. Paula Renaye serves much more than a thick book would give. Most self-help book I've read gave very unclear visions, wobbly instructions and lead to nowhere but this book is different. I thimk this is why people say 'less is more'. Less pages, but full of condense, compact and convincing content. Added with a few simple exercises (which has line out at every chapter), readers are spontaniously involve in solving their problem, also buliding up their confidence to let go doubts that stayed to long with us. This book is highly recommended, even I passed it and recommend it to my friend. And glad they are happy with it.

p/s: The book is also available in Kindle version.

interview: Author Paula Renaye

Written by Darlyn At Wednesday, August 03, 2011 2 bookish peeps...
Guys, we have Author Paula Renaye in the house! This is a part of her virtual book tour entitled "Hardline Self Help".

D: The title of your book is “Hardline Self Help” what does the title mean?

PR: Hardline Self Help means that you stop letting yourself off the hook—stop giving
yourself excuses for why you don‘t or can‘t have what you want—and you hold your own feet to the fire, face reality, take responsibility for your life right now and get busy doing what you know you need to do.

D: Describe your book in three words.

PR: Self Tough Love

D: What inspired you to write the book?

PR: I wanted to write a book for people who are stuck in a never-ending cycle of pain and can‘t see a way out. I know what that‘s like—and I know how wonderful it feels to finally be free of it. My first clue to this tough love approach came when I was singing my same old song of woe to a friend and she said, ―You know, isn‘t it great, that for the rest of your life, no matter who you tell your story to, they‘ll always say ‗you poor thing‘ and you can be a victim forever. Well, that jerked me up by the scruff of the neck and got my attention—fast—and in that moment I vowed I would never consider myself a victim again. I‘ve never forgotten how quickly my perception changed, simply because she had the courage to speak the truth to me. That‘s what I want to do for my readers—offer a little reality boot camp so they too can experience lightning bolt awareness moments for a ―blink of an eye‖ transformation.

D: What do you hope readers will learn/discover from reading Hardline Self

PR: Themselves. I want readers to really discover themselves—the true authentic version—and honor it! Most of us go through life being who we think we should be—we are products of our programming and don‘t even realize it. I want readers to be willing to look unflinchingly in the mirror and say, ―yeah, I did that, but I don‘t have to do it again. I have choices! If you face reality, make choices that a person with self-respect would, then take action toward what you want, you will have joy. So, ultimately, it‘s joy. I want readers to have joy—which is the natural state of the authentic self!

D: What Makes Your Book Unique?

PR: Well, let‘s just say that one title I toyed with was: Masochistic Self Help, which is different than Self Help for the Masochist, although I suppose that could work too. Whatever the case, this is about being willing to inflict short-term pain on yourself in ways that you would never tolerate from anyone else in order to get long-term happiness. I‘ve used the term ―a crash course in self tough love several times, but that‘s what it is. There‘s a chapter called ―Bullets You Need to Bite that might have some people wanting to aim one at me. If a friend said to you, ―Either start eating healthy and exercising or quit whining about being fat, you‘d probably never speak to her again. We just won‘t say those things to each other. You may, however, be willing—eventually—to take it from a book. Throw the thing across the room if you must, but when you‘re really ready for your life to be different, pick it back up and do what you need to do. And, as strange as it may sound, it probably won‘t be long before you‘re enjoying this self-inflicted tough love approach, and eager to find yet another way to feel better. So, yes, uniquely masochistic—in a good way!

D: What do you mean by “What Are You Willing to Do to Get What You Really Want?”

PR: When we are in tough spots in our lives and are in a loop of pain we just can‘t seem to find a way out of, we may say that we‘re willing to do anything to make things better. But is it really true? Many times, what we‘re really saying is, ―I’ll do anything not to hurt anymore as long as I can keep things the way I want them. For example, if what you want is a loving, peaceful and trusting relationship, but you‘re in constant turmoil and upset over the situation you‘re living in, what are you willing to do about it? Personally, I was willing to do absolutely anything except the one thing that I had to do—get a different partner. When I became willing to let go of my limitations—my attachment to that particular partner—I opened the door to being able to have what I really wanted.
Here‘s another example. A lot of people tell me they‘re going to write a book. Great! When? How? What are you willing to sacrifice to make it happen? Are you willing to watch less television to make time for writing? Are you willing to give up golfing on weekends? How bad do you really want it? I asked myself the ―what are you willing to do question repeatedly throughout the process of writing and launching this book. Every time the answer was the same—whatever it takes, which meant working 12 to 16 hours a day for months straight. Sure, I got tired, but I loved what I was doing, and getting this book in print was that important to me. I was willing.

D: How does this book help women?

PR: It‘s been said by many that the one thing we have to do in order to be happy is to simply love ourselves. Great, how? As women, we have so many ―shoulds pulling us in different directions. On the list of mother, wife, ―good girl, dedicated employee, family command center facilitator and other roles, just where does ―loving yourself rank? Even thinking about taking loving time for ourselves can feel selfish, greedy, self-centered and all those other undesirable traits we‘ve been warned against. I never did get the―just love yourself and everything will be fine model. What I do get, however—and what makes perfect workable sense to me—is self-respect. If I ask myself, ―Would a person who had self-respect do what I‘m about to do? I get a much better answer that I can work with—one that doesn‘t offer me the option of feeling bad because I shouldn‘t want so much for myself. Everyone can honor respect!

D: Where is Hardline Self Help available?

The trade paperback and ebook versions are available through and other online retailers as well as by order through most bookstores.
PDF versions of the book and the companion workbook (8½ x 11) are available from

D: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.

I always loved to read and was drawn to journalism and served as year book editor in high school and college. I also wrote for the university newspaper and served as copy editor and news editor. However, I did what a lot of women have done—and still do—I gave it up to be married. I still continued to read and wrote a few feature pieces for local newspapers, but it was many years later before I really began writing again. And, it came in quite an unusual way.

My dad passed away suddenly in the fall of 1991 and it was a tough time for me. A few months later, songs—country songs, complete with tune and lyrics—kept popping into my head. So, I wrote them down. Having found my connection again, I wanted to expand and found a local writing group. A lot of people in the group were writing novels, and since I‘d read a zillion of them, I figured I could certainly write one. So, I did—a 400- page western historical with a love story that won a contest right off the bat. But it was the fourth book I wrote—Hot Enough to Kill, which is a humorous mystery—that made it into print. The second book, Dead Man Falls, won a WILLA Literary Award.

About the Author

Paula Renaye is a certified professional coach, motivational speaker, regression hypnosis practitioner and award-winning author. She has been a consultant for 18 years and is a member of the International Association of Coaches. She presents classes, seminars, hands-on workshops and events on self-development and self-healing, as well as writing and publishing. Her passion is helping people face reality and take personal responsibility for their choices in order to reclaim their own power and live the life they really want.


book excerpt: dreamland by jared sandman

Written by Darlyn At Friday, July 29, 2011 3 bookish peeps...
“I’m gonna check around, see if I can track down our mysterious Good Samaritan. I’d like to thank him personally.” Glancing toward the doorway, I saw a male figure pass by. A male figure clad entirely in black. I told Julie, “I’ll be back in a bit.”

Before I could gain my wife’s consent, I was already out the door. The individual walking down the busy corridor stopped near the elevator bay. When I caught up to him, I jerked him about by the shoulder.

“What’re you doing here?”

The gentleman twisted toward me, bewildered. It took my brain a second to register the white collar around his throat.

“I-I just administered Last Rites to Mrs. Gentry in Room 330. Are you family?”

Immediately I felt foolish. “Oh, I’m so sorry. My mistake, I thought you were someone else. Please forgive me.”

The priest smiled warmly. “Of course. That’s kinda my gig,” he said. “Is everything all right? You look a bit spooked.”

The redness in my cheeks started to wane. “Stress. You know how it is.”
“Need to talk to somebody?” he offered.

No, not after almost assaulting him. “I couldn’t impose my problems on you, Father. It is Father?

He extended a bony hand. “Father Sterling,” he said. “Or Ted. That works too. I have some time to kill, if you want. I’m known to be a good listener.”

“I’m not Catholic,” I conceded.

“And I’m not Jewish, but that doesn’t keep me from enjoying the occasional pierogi.”

He further tried to allay my concerns. “If you’re embarrassed about sharing your feelings” — Sterling spied an empty room across the hall, into which I followed him — “I can make this feel more like a confessional.”

He set two chairs side by side at the foot of the twin beds then slid the privacy curtain between them. Taking a seat, he motioned to the second chair on the other side of the cloth partition.
I sat beside him, feeling a little out of place as I took a deep breath and collected my thoughts.

“I’ve never been the religious type, so all this seems a little — ”


“Superfluous,” I said. “Haven’t stepped foot in a church since I was twelve. When I was a kid I had no choice in the matter. My parents raised me in a very strict denomination.”

“Which one?”

“Seventh Day Adventist.”

Mine had been a childhood fueled by fear of the impending END OF DAYS, a Chicken Little existence where every news item became unfolding Biblical prophecy and critical thinking was treated as blasphemy.

“Say no more,” the priest said. “As for your faith, I assume — ”

“It didn’t take.”

“I see.” Those same damn words, even spoken in a similar tone to Doctor Langston. I could hear the judgment in his voice. “But you at least believe in God?”

“I think there’s something larger than us, call it what you will.” My hands were folded on my lap as if in prayer. “If He does exist, I don’t think He cares what happens here. To Him we must look like bacteria in a petri dish.”

“You have a mighty impersonal view of the universe,” Sterling said, “very nihilistic. Is that what’s troubling you?”

“No, something else. Days ago I had an experience I cannot pretend to understand.”

“What would that be?” he said. “If you don’t mind my asking.”

Tears welled in the corners of my eyes. Where to begin? I started with a question of my own.

“What do you believe?”

“That Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, died on the cross for the sins of mankind. I believe God has a plan for every person on this planet.”

“On this planet,” I said. “See, that’s the rub. Does Christianity take into account other forms of life?”

“I don’t follow. What type of life forms?”

“Beings not of our world,” I said. “Perhaps from beyond the stars.”

Surely not the kind of question a man of the cloth was asked everyday. He gave it some thought and said, “The Bible speaks to a host of superior beings, a complex hierarchy of angels who dwell in the heavens.”

“No, I mean . . . I mean . . . ” I couldn’t bring myself to say the words. Aliens? Little green men? Extraterrestrials? They all made me sound equally insane. “I don’t know what I mean anymore. I’m sorry.”

“You have nothing for which to apologize. Doubt tests every man.”

I stood to draw back the curtain. “I can’t do this,” I said. “You’re just doing your job, and I appreciate that, really, but this isn’t working for me. I can’t — ”

“You can. If you have faith.” The priest reached into his pocket and produced a business card. The name on it said Father Theodore Sterling, St. Sebastian Parish. “My door’s always open, if you reconsider. The address and phone number are right there.”

“Thank you, Father.”

“It was nice meeting you, Mister — ”

“White,” I said. “Derek White.”

**** **** ****

Jared Sandman’s Blogbuster Tour 2011 runs from July 1st through August 31st. His novels include Leviathan, The Wild Hunt and Dreamland, all of which are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. His next book, The Shadow Wolves, will be released in August.

Follow him on Twitter (@JaredSandman) and be entered to win one of several $25 Amazon gift cards.

See rules at for eligibility.

on hiatus!

Written by Darlyn At Thursday, July 28, 2011 4 bookish peeps...
I know.

I am probably the worst book reviewer ever. It's been a month with nothing. Zero posting. Dusty and spider webs all around the corner. =(

I never know this would happen when you go out there, having a job.

I find myself not enough time to read for my own leasure now.

Everything is about targets, due dates, and worst, to conduct a project on your own.


But I will try to sort everything out nicely, without hurting myself of not having time to read!

I think I have the worst part too, I can't really visit other book bloggers and I'm like a frog under a coconut shell. I really miss you guys!

Everything is worst for me now. But I'll try, I'll try to make it okay. Wish me luck =)

interview: Author Alison Silbert

Written by Darlyn At Monday, June 27, 2011 1 bookish peeps...
Today I would like to welcome Alison Silbert, author of Boost Your Revenues by Turning People Away for an interview about her book. The book has a very great insights to raise your income apart of other difficulties. Without further ado, I welcome you Alison Silbert. Don't forget to leave some love ;p

D: What inspired you to write the book?

A colleague had suggested I put commonly asked questions into a book that I could hand out to prospective clients. It seemed like a good idea, so I went ahead and wrote the outline, then found potential book publishers (two of which showed interest in the outline). I completed the copy of the book, resubmitted the full manuscript to the same two publishers outlining the pre-qualifying process I had already completed, and signed a deal.

D: How do you determine your ideal client?

“I” determine my ideal client by asking myself “who do I want to help?”, “what characteristics are included in my definition of an ideal client?”, and “what are the top 3 problems my ideal client has that I can solve quickly and easily for him/her?”

D: How important is choosing the right business?

Imperative. If you are marketing to the wrong business you are wasting time, energy and money.

DS: What advice can you give other entrepreneurs feeling overwhelmed by the business, especially when a lot of things are going wrong at the same time?

AS: Have faith. Regardless of your beliefs, things have a way of working themselves out. There are numerous experts available, at various different price points, who are more than willing to assist you in generating the results you want.

D: What other advice can you give women entrepreneurs?

AS: Keep doing what you love.

D: The title of your book, what does it mean?

Simply this: in spite of what most people use a website for (a glorified brochure available for everyone to see), it is possible to write website copy that builds ideal prospects’ trust in you and your business, and leads them to take some step towards starting the sales cycle for you.

D: Tell us about “Boost Your Revenues by Turning People Away”.

“Boost Your Revenues by Turning People Away” is a compilation of all kinds of experiences I have had with clients over the past 10 years woven between many useful tidbits of information about how to get a website created and optimized so that it speaks only to your ideal client, rolled into one small book you can reference at a moment’s notice. Jam packed with useful tips on how to clarify the definition of your ideal client,three easy ways to put a website together and where to get the tools, and simple things you can do to increase your search engine ranking, this book is a must-have for any entrepreneur – seasoned or brand new. This book is also ideal for college/university graduates who want a leading-edge in a competitive job market.

D: How does this book benefit the reader?

AS: This book walks the reader through three distinct phases of creating a website. Phase 1: Clarifying who you want the website to speak to (i.e. clarifying who your ideal client is) and what message you want to convey through the website (i.e., what do you want your readers to know? What do you want your ideal prospects to do from your website?). Phase 2: Three simple ways to construct the website (choosing a professional, using a content manager and using a template). And Phase 3: Simple things that an average business person can do to increase the likelihood that the website will be seen by its ideal visitors (the business’s ideal clients).

D: Who is your intended audience?

Anyone interested in learning for himself/herself how to put together an effective website that starts the sales cycle for them.

About the Author

Alison Silbert is the author of “Winning Websites” published in 2007, and “Boost Your Revenues by Turning People Away” published in January 2011. Alison's company Passionate Web Creations and Ideal Visitor Inc provides clients with a wide variety of business building, marketing services and web development services. She has helped clients of all sizes, including entrepreneurs, just starting businesses and fully operational corporate structures. Her clients have included such Canadian Universities as University of Toronto and University of Calgary.

Alison Silbert is among the prestigious ranks of Stanford Who's Who as a result of her exceptional professional career. Stanford Who's Who empowers executives, professionals and entrepreneurs around the world. During her collegiate career, she earned a Bachelor's degree in Computer Programming from Humber College of Applied Arts and Technology. She has also studied Business Management and Marketing.

When not running her business, she is a mentor, coach, and teacher, supporting individuals in living their dream of having a successful online business. She has taught database courses at the University of Toronto. She lives in Mississauga with her husband, 2 children and a loyal sheltie named Cocoa.

Buy the book at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Website

muslim women reformers:inspiring voices against oppression by ida lichter

Written by Darlyn At Saturday, June 25, 2011 4 bookish peeps...
Title: Muslim Women Reformers : Inspiring Voices Against Oppression
Author: Ida Lichter
Pages: 513
Series: Non-fiction
Published: May 26th, 2009
Rating: 4.5/5
Source: Receive for review
Buy at: Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble

Summary :

In a world where the strident demands of Islamic extremists capture the media’s attention, the courageous protests of Muslim reformers barely receive any notice. These include a surprising number of women who are prepared to challenge institutionalized persecution, risking derision, arrest, physical harm, and even death.

In this inspiring compilation of Muslim women’s stories from around the world, the voices of these long-oppressed women ring loud and clear as they question ideology and culture, patriarchal and religious beliefs, and demand the social and political rights women lack in many Muslim countries. The reformers speak out with passion, humanity, and sometimes humor in these compact and often poignant biographies, bringing alive the harsh realities for women in many parts of the world.

By surveying a wide range of Muslim reformers, not only in the Middle East but also in Europe and North America, Lichter uncovers some significant emerging trends. For example, she notes that the majority of Muslim feminists would like to see reform contained within Islam. Many criticize their patriarchal culture for suppressing egalitarian views that they believe the Koran expresses and so they advocate a reinterpretation of the holy text. Some demand changes to discriminatory Sharia-based laws. Others campaign openly for political and educational reforms.

Complete with a glossary and a list of helpful Web sites, this vibrant anthology makes use of reliable translations from original languages to demonstrate the groundswell of grassroots change that promises eventually to bring even the most conservative sectors of Islam into the twenty-first century.

My Opinion:

As a Muslim woman, the book really opened my eyes about loads of thing that happening around across the globe of Muslim country, focusing on women. Most of the researches were collected from past, likely since e few decades before, till present. I must say Muslim women at this moment achieved so many things, likely equal to men (well, almost), they struggles a lot sometimes quite horrific to me. The book was sectioned and organized by country, start up with a little introduction of issues they were going through, then introducing the women reformers behind it. The women activists struggled with a lot of different issues like human rights, justice, education, healthcare, discrimination etc. Each of them showed great courage to stand up and fight even though facing death and severe discrimination. Even though I thought Malaysia is a very overwhelming Muslim country, it's shocking to see we're included in this. But when I read it, I think that is not really a big issues since I know who the reformers were, and for me, when it comes to religion there's some part that you can't turn against it. Personally, the book were focusing on why they were reformed; because of gender, and not because of religion. I strongly believe women in different country are facing the exact same thing towards this kind of discrimination; education, jobs, healthcare, human rights, justice, etc regardless of religion. However, it's very interesting to know when there's a book focusing Muslin women on this. Lichter only compiling what she has researched and stating the facts with a lot of references, in case the readers want to check on it in details of what is going on from it. The book is easy to understand, very brief, while it is not an introduction about Muslim and Islam. I really recommend the book to Muslim readers, for us to know is the women reformers and activists that committed their lives to escape from the struggle we were facing.

About the Author:
Ida Lichter, is a clinical and research psychiatrist and contributor to The Huffington Post. Living in London for over 12 years focused her interest on the large Muslim populations in the UK and Europe and brought her closer to the eye of the storm in the Middle East. She lives in Sydney, Australia.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from Lisa Roe from Online Publicist for an exchange of fair review. Receiving a copy in no way will ever reflected my review and these are my honest review.

the imperfect enjoyment by dewan w.gibson

Written by Darlyn At Friday, June 24, 2011 3 bookish peeps...
Title: The Imperfect Enjoyment
Author: Dewan W.Gibson
Pages: 176 (pdf)
Series: No
Published: December 16th, 2008
Rating: 4/5
Source: Provided by the publisher
Get your copy: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Indiebound

Summary (Goodreads):

When college instructor Dewan Gibson leaves the Midwest for California, he expects to find a world of breast implants, beer and beaches. Instead he enters a secret and ill-fated romance with a Middle Eastern undergraduate. In this vivid and humorous memoir, Gibson describes his attempts to overcome his forbidden love affair by jumping into an office fling gone wrong (Tijuana Mornings), traveling across the world to Denmark in hopes of meeting "Ms. Booty Mama" (Arhus Ain't for Lovers) and musing over the interracial relationships between his African-American uncles and "rural white women that wore 1980's big bangs and resembled Guns N' Roses groupies" (Too Much Tupac). Toeing the line between stable adulthood and post-college debauchery, Gibson presents a comically honest look at the frailty of modern relationships. Poignant, witty and at times downright hilarious--The Imperfect Enjoyment is a story of toxic relationships and the search for a second chance at love that enlightens and amuses as very few books do.

My Two Cents:

This is totally an entertaining read, aside of very much of sex talk and stuff, and totally different from what I've ever read. The author was likely in a quest to find the perfect enjoyment in a relationship when at some point he thought that some imperfection in relationship will turn out okay and enjoyable just good. But what I'm quite off is that, he was like finding more sex than love, well, I don't know. So, maybe it was because he was finding the relation perfection. The fact that the book is interesting is actually enough to get my attention to finish reading it. I think the author nailed it and not trying too much to tell his story. Even though I like the book enough to recommend to everyone to read this, I'm kind of really don't like his attitude, because when he already in a relationship with a woman, despite all the prejudice he have from her family, he find enjoyment in something else that you can guess what a normalman would do. So typical yet so true. The book has a lot of dirty side of a man, how fragile a man could be when it's about love and also loads of funny moments that happened to him. It's fun, regardless of age and sex issues.

About the Author:

Dewan Gibson is a humorist and author of The Imperfect Enjoyment. His work has appeared in Defenestration Magazine, the International Journal of Intercultural Relations and Hobo Pancakes, among other publications. Prior to pursuing a writing career he earned a master’s degree in intercultural communication and taught at San Diego State University. Dewan is currently conducting health disparities research and writing a nonfiction humor book about working in a community clinic.

Visit him at: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher for an exchange of fair review. Receiving a copy in no way will ever reflected my review and these are my honest review.

three sisters by helen smith

Written by Darlyn At Tuesday, June 21, 2011 4 bookish peeps...
Title: Three Sisters
Author: Helen Smith
Pages: 54 (pdf)
Series: The Emily Castles Mystery #1
Published: February 2, 201
Rating: 3.5/5
Source: Provided by the author
Get your copy: Amazon

Summary (Goodreads):

It's bonfire night in London. Emily has been invited to a party in the big house at the end of her street by the new owners, whom she has never met. Emily's dog Jessie has recently died so Emily is feeling a little raw and emtional. How could she know, as she left her house that evening, that she was making an appointment with death?

My Two Cents:

Even though the first book of the series is quite short, the story begin quite fast right from the start. When her dog died, she was very sad and decided to go to a party but it turned out so chaotic when there was a murder. She took part in it to solve the mystery, and she was reminded by her dog, which it kind of helping her to solve the mystery. The story is cute yet very interesting with twist and turns. While the author created some of the characters to be dolled up, refusing to talk about the mystery until it was over. I really enjoy reading the the novella and would be happy to recommend to all cozy mystery fans.

p/s: this is my first time to read a cozy mystery, it's totally fun and suitable to youngsters. =)

About the Author:

Helen Smith is a member of the Society of Authors and the Writers Guild. She travelled the world when her daughter was small, doing all sorts of strange jobs to support them both - from cleaning motels to working as a magician's assistant - before returning to live in London where she wrote her first novel which was published by Gollancz in 1999. She writes novels, poetry, plays and screenplays and is the recipient of an Arts Council of England Award. She's a long-term supporter of the Medical Foundation for the Victims of Torture and mentors members of an exiled writers group to help them tell their stories.

Visit her at: Website | Blog

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from Author Helen Smith for an exchange of fair review. Receiving a copy in no way will ever reflected my review and these are my honest review.

no he can't: how barack obama is dismantling hope and change by kevin mccullough

Written by Darlyn At Friday, June 17, 2011 5 bookish peeps...
Title: No He Can't: How Barack Obama Is Dismantling Hope and Change
Author: Kevin McCulllough
Pages: 256
Published: April 19th, 2011
Rating: 3/5
Buy at: Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble

Book Description:

Nationally syndicated radio talk show host and columnist Kevin McCullough tackles the thorny issue of why the audacity of hope is not found in the current path that President Barack Obama has laid. As the first pundit in the world to predict that President Barack Obama would become president of the United States (verified on-air by Rush Limbaugh), Kevin McCullough was not surprised when Mr. Obama was elected to that office. Yet even McCullough admits he’s surprised by President Obama’s actions since the election. Surprised by the overt falsehoods already carried out by this administration. Surprised by our country’s sudden deficit of clarity and common sense. Surprised by a blatant lack of accountability. In No He Can’t, McCullough stands as the loyal but outraged loyal opposition to the current state of affairs.

My Two Cents:

I don't think I picked up this book in the first place because I want to know anything bad about Obama. Either way, I picked up this book because I thought it would be very interesting to know about one of the biggest influenced person in the world. Reading the book, I caught that McCullough is not a fan of Obama, he's stating a lot of what Obama had promised are not and will not coming. Since I don't really know a lot of what is going on in US so, I guess the author gave quite bad impression of Obama. I'm not really interested to know about the political views of this but the book is actually tell us what is going on if not more, a little about what is happening in the country under Obama. I found the book very interesting, even though you are not very knowledgeable about politics. But here's the thing, I don't think I'll judge Obama base on the book, yes, the book gave great insights about him but, we can't really trust it 100%. This is my opinion about it. Maybe if you are American, then you'll know the difference of what is right or wrong. I thought the book will be good to anyone who has great interest in politics in US.

Disclaimer: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. These are my honest review and receiving a copy in no way will ever reflected my review.

interview: Author R.L. Stine

Written by Darlyn At Thursday, June 16, 2011 4 bookish peeps...
Author RL Stine is the 2011 Thrillermaster for this year Thriller Fest. Stine’s thrillers and horror tales have proven to be great reading motivation for young people. The YA series, Fear Street, started in 1989 and was followed in 1992 by Goosebumps, which quickly took off around the world. Goosebumps has been translated into 35 languages. These days, Stine continues to add books to the Goosebumps series, scaring a new generation of kids.

I grew up reading his books and totally adore all of of it. When I have the opportunity to interview him, I jump at the chance. Thanks to Sarah at Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc. make this happens. Please welcome RL Stine!

D: As the author of over 330 books for children, and three thrillers for adults, there is no doubt that you are a ThrillerMaster! What does this title entail for this year’s ThrillerFest VI?

I'm very honored to be singled out for this award. It means a lot to me to be recognized by other thriller writers, especially since I admire and read so many of them.

D: What is your involvement with the ThrillerFest sponsors, International Thriller Writers?

I've been a member of ITW almost since the beginning of the organization. It's given me a chance to meet and make friends with many authors. And it allows me to talk and give advice to beginning authors who wish to write for young people—and to appear in panel discussions on all kinds of topics of interest to authors and readers.

D: Had you always assumed you’d become a writer?

Yes. I started writing when I was nine. Not sure why I thought it was so interesting. I was a weird kid, just stayed in my room typing stories and joke books. I think I knew when I was nine that I wanted to be a writer.

D: You’ve been drawn to both horror fiction and humor – penning numerous joke books and humor magazines – is there a correlation between the two genres?

I think there's a very close connection. When I go to a scary movie or read a scary book, I never get frightened. They always make me laugh. I write horror the same way you write jokes—a series of punchlines. And of course I use humor a lot in Goosebumps to keep the books from getting too intense for kids.

D: Some authors are very habitual in the way that they write – do you have any idiosyncrasies you’d like to share?

I'm pretty much a writing machine. I can write anywhere. I treat it as a job. I'm usually at my computer by 9 or 10 in the morning, and I don't get up until I've written ten pages. If I write ten pages a day, I can do a Goosebumps book in two weeks. But of course you have to count all the planning—and then lots of revising.

About the Author

R. L. Stine is the author of over 330 books for children. His Goosebumps, Fear Street, and other book series have sold nearly 400 million copies around the world, making him one of the best-selling children’s authors in history. Stine is a three-time winner of the Nickelodeon Children’s Choice Award and a recipient of the American Library Association Award.

Find him at: Website | ThrillerFest

guest post: Author Alison Silbert

Written by Darlyn At Monday, June 13, 2011 0 bookish peeps...
Today I would like to welcome Author Alison Silbert, to join her virtual book tour of "Boost Your Revenues By Turn People Away: How to Sell More to Your Ideal Client Online " release. It's a non-fiction book, and I'm very confident the book will be great to all. We are very pleased to have her today.

How It All Begin

As a child, I wrote lots of stories in school and did loads of journaling in my teen years. In 2004, I received certification in technical writing at George Brown College.

I started to write simple articles in the second year I was running my internet marketing business as a way to generate prospects’ interest, exposure and credibility. I found that I tremendously enjoyed writing as a way of expressing my unique abilities to teach others about online marketing and constructing websites, that I ended up continuing to write articles.

Boost your Revenues by Turning People Away is a compilation of all kinds of experiences I have had with clients over the last 10 years woven between many useful tidbits of information I had begun to hear and included brief instruction-sets about how to use some simple website template styles, how to use some common content management systems (e.g. Wordpress, Joomla, and Drupal) and some common questions that someone seeking a website company should ask any representative. I also included thought-provoking marketing topics such as “how to refine your ideal client definition” and “how to make your website compel your ideal client to start sales cycles for you”, and a full section dedicated to simple ways the non-technical business-person can promote a website and boost their search engine rank via article writing and social media postings.

About the Author

Alison Silbert is the author of Boost Your Revenues by Turning People Away. When not running her business Passionate Web Creations, she is a mentor, coach, and teacher, supporting individuals in living their dream of having a successful online business.

Visit her at: Website | Facebook | Twitter

About the Book

What’s the best way to increase your business? Boost Your Revenues by Turning People Away: How to Sell More to Your Ideal Client Online provides the answer in a nutshell. This informative guide that’s backed up by real-life situations is chock-full of business advice that makes success as easy as ABC, with C standing for Computer! Just how can you achieve your business goals? In three simple steps, you will learn to identify your ideal client, see how to design a website, and publicize properly so your ideal client can find your site!

guest post: Author Majanka Verstraete

Written by Darlyn At Friday, June 10, 2011 3 bookish peeps...
Please welcome Majanka guys! She just have published a novella entitled The Blood That Defines Us and you can read my review here. Please help me welcome her with a warm wishes. Her guest post today is very entertaining and hope you will like it as much as I do.

Haunted Houses: Why they’re still scary, even after being done a million times.

I’m pretty sure that everyone who enjoys reading horror novels is a fan of haunted houses as well. I mean, they’re just fun right? Fun and really, really scary. Because they’re a bit closer to home than the old ax-murderer tale or the story about the old woman who enjoyed snacking on young children’s bones or the one about a hundred year old grandmother actually sucking her grandchild’s soul right out of his body because he happened to yawn in front of her as she was dying – that is an old superstition where I come from, and I’m pretty sure it could actually happen. Some old ladies are just plain mean.

So what is it about haunted houses that they manage to scare us approximately ten times more than the local serial killer legend or the thought that your ex-best friend who is acting all weird and anti-social right now is in fact a zombie? I mean, serial killers are nasty business, and it’s not nice when your friends turn into zombies, but on the scare-level, that’s all pretty low level. Trust me that neither of those are going to freak me out while I’m curled up on my couch reading about them in the latest horror book I got my hands on. But if it mentions ghosts, eerie occurrences, things going missing without any rational explanation, voices that came out of nowhere, footsteps that walk to the walls…Then I’ll probably start looking around wondering where the heck I left my Holy Bible to perform a banishing ritual, totally freak out when I can’t find it, and eventually blame its disappearance on my own personal poltergeist. I’ll probably find it the next day on some place I least expected, and because I will probably have forgotten all about how I chose to hide it in a safe-spot so I could easily access it in case of emergency – you know, the weekly demon-possession stuff, the occasional cleaning a house from evil spirits business, or maybe just trying to avoid the apocalypse - I will totally go berserk over the fact that it’s all of the sudden under my bed instead of in the drawer I usually put it in.

No, but seriously, haunted houses have managed to scare thousands of people ever since the day some brilliant fellow had the most amazing idea to write a frightening tale and make it all happen in one house. A haunted house. I don’t know if I have Dickens to blame for it (after all, he wrote the book “The Haunted House”, with a most original title), The Castle of Otranto (supposedly the first gothic novel ever, but not all that well known) or the creators of that marvelous movie “Poltergeist”. Now don’t me wrong, “Poltergeist” doesn’t scare me. A lot. It’s a bit over the top, with the entire graveyard beneath the house business (corpses coming up from the floor, that’s more funny than scary on the big screen, take my word for it). Or maybe I should just blame H.P. Lovecraft. “The Rats in the Walls” still keeps me up at night. But then again, so does Stephen King’s “Salem’s Lost” (Part one, mind you, the vampire business kind of took the fun out of it) and “Rose Red”. A dude actually loses an arm in that movie, which by the waysolves the question once and for all: ghosts can indeed make you lose limbs. Ghastly.

Haunted houses are really frightening. Every small town in the entire world has a local haunted house legend, and they’re all equally terrifying. I should know. I’m the one who came up with our own local haunted house legend. True, I had the perfect location. An old, abandoned and reportedly haunted house. But that’s quite boring, isn’t it? You have to spice things up a little, think outside of the box. Add murdered virgins, shallow graves in the backyard, some zombies in the basement, a mad doctor and a soul-sucking grandmother. Because trust me, those are scary as well.

But no matter how much a haunted house scares me – and it does scare me a lot, with the awkward screeching sound from doors opening in the middle of the night, the persistent voices apparently coming out of the walls and the idea of dead people still walking around and well, haunting, the house – I absolutely love to write about them. I loved it when I write something and manage to scare myself by doing so, if I have to glance behind me occasionally just to make sure no ghostly apparition is standing behind me, whispering in my ear.
I’m not exactly sure why I love to write about haunted houses, ghosts and the likes, but I have some morbid fascination for them.

So, what about you? Do you enjoy reading books about haunted houses, ghosts, etc.? Did “Poltergeist” scare you to death, or did you find it funny? Do you have any local haunted house legends – if so, I would love to hear them? And the most important question: what is it about haunted houses that you find appealing, or not appealing at all?

Visit her at: I Heart Reading Blog

interview: Author Oana

Written by Darlyn At Tuesday, May 31, 2011 2 bookish peeps...
I would love to welcome Author Oana for visiting my blog today for an interview. She is the author of The Healing, and a very nice person. The Healing is very special to me because I think it's a great reading material for motivation and if you want to find some laugh and jokes. You can read my review here. Welcome Oana!

D: Hello Oana! First of all, can you tell us about yourself?

I was born in Bucharest, Romania. As you might know, until 1989 Romania was under a communist dictatorship. After the fall of the communism in 1989 I studied languages at the University in Bucharest, then received my Master’s at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. English is my third language; I have always loved learning languages. I have worked as a translator, as a teacher and eventually caring for animals both domestic and wild. I volunteered and worked for wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centers both in the United States and Canada. Now I live in Phoenix, Arizona, where I continue to work with animals and to write. I have become a pretty quiet person, when I feel I have something to say I just sit down and write.

I am lucky to work with animals. I go to work every morning knowing that there are no small office gossips there for me; instead, thirty puppies barking happily and waiting for me to feed them, give them medications and check on their well being.

D: What inspired you to write The Healings?

Undoubtedly, being around animals. They are a great source of comfort. When I used to work with wildlife, I spent most of the time in silence. You have to be quiet around these guys; you have to avoid stressing them; besides, the purpose of your work is to release them back into the wild without exposing them to human interaction too much. They have to stay wild. In a way, this type of work implies isolation – with very rare occasions when you communicate with other fellow rehabilitators. It was a great time for insights, you know. Because I grew up going on fishing trips with my dad – and silence was mandatory; he didn’t want me to scare his fish off – it was pretty easy for me to stay quiet. And focused. Observation is a key factor in working with animals. I started seeing a lot of details that usually go unnoticed: expressions, eyes, coats. It happens that writing requires a great deal of observation as well, so in a way, my passions completed each other. When I wrote the first chapter of The Healings, there was no cat. Then I realized that my character needed a companion.

D: I love the nameless man’s cat. Do you have a cat?

No, I do not have any animals right now, if you don’t count those at work. My parents still do. They have two cats and two dogs. One of the cats is an albino that loves sun and heat. In the winter, for example, he glues himself to the heaters and he sleeps there until his coat gets burnt. In the summer, they rush him to the vet with burns on his ear tips. He is a funny character; he loves heat but heat doesn’t love him. You can see his picture on my website. Cats are fascinating and sadly, misunderstood animals. We take their sense of independence as ungratefulness or selfishness.

D: Where do you do most of your writing? Anything special you must have or do while you are writing?

I do most of my writing in my head. I think of what I want to write, and how I want to write it. I think of it for days sometimes weeks and even years. Then I just write it and it is usually exactly the way I wanted it to be. For example, I had been thinking of The Healings for twenty years. I had not written a word all this time, yet I kept thinking of it. I had not “honed” my craft. I had never gone to a writing course. I had never picked English to be my language of choice the language picked me. One day I just started writing and it was overwhelming. My hands could not keep up with my thoughts that were coming at me so fast. It was an exhilarating experience.

The only requirement I have in order to write is silence. I cannot write in crowded coffee shops or at workshops. I can think of things, I can come up with ideas, but I need quiet time to put something down on paper.

D: Did you always know that you are going to be a writer?

O: In many ways, yes. It wasn’t clear to me where I was going until I joined the Central Phoenix Writing Workshop in 2008. When I got to know the people – it is a wonderful group – I realized that I was finally home, that I belonged there with the “crazy” writers and artists.

D: What are your top 5 favorite books? What book are you currently reading?

My favorite writers are classics. I love many authors; it would be hard for me to pick five of them. I love Chekhov, Dostoyevsky, Shalom Aleichem, Franz Kafka, Isaac Singer, and Bruno Schulz. I have learned so much from them, without ever wanting to copy their style or sound like them. Only great minds can teach you that.

I am currently re-reading a wonderful book written by my friend Robert Rubenstein. It is called Ghost Runners and it is a historical fiction about the only two Jews on the American Olympic team sent to Berlin in 1936 and who were removed from the relay. I think it is an important life lesson and history lesson as well. That marginalization of the Jews is what ultimately led to Holocaust. We should learn from that.

D: Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published authors?

O: Believe in yourself. Have patience. I know many awesome writers who just waited. A good book is like good old wine. Give it a little bit of time. Each of us has their own creative ways. Some write a thousand words a day, some struggle to write five words per day. You have to find your own pace. Don’t put stress on yourself trying to “catch up” with other writers. They are not you. You want to be yourself. Listen to others but also trust your instincts.

D: Tell us 3 things that we might be surprised to know about you.

O: I don’t know about three but I can tell you one: I rarely wear jewelry. I like it, but since I work with animals it is definitely in the way. I had given up jewelry, perfumes and scarves on daily basis years ago, something I would have never thought I’d be capable of. I am still very fashionable when I can be, which is kind of funny; it is almost like having a double life. I remember one conversation I had with a fellow wildlife rehabilitator many years ago. It was midnight, cold and the wind was blowing. We were in the middle of nowhere, dirty and tired, trying to catch a baby seal. She looked at me and she said, “Hey, if you told a date what you do for living, would he believe you?” We both started laughing, “Nah...”

D: Any last word?

O: Many people have asked me why my character is nameless. Partly an instinctual response to the general opinion among writers that he should have a name otherwise the book will not be interesting, partly the fact that I wanted him to be understood in any culture.

I had seen artists who come from a certain ethnic, religious or racial background and limit themselves to the point that when they promote their works they do it almost exclusively in their own world. I think this is dangerous. Writing should build bridges, should bring people together. We should learn about each other and about ourselves. We should stand for each other’s rights. But how are we going to do it if we do not reach out? To give you an example: I am working now on a memoir about the twenty years I spent under Ceausescu. I am not going to promote my book in Romanian circles. Sure I would love my fellow Romanians to read it, but they are not my target audience. Most of them know very well the horrors that took place; they have been there as well. I want people from other cultures to read and relate to that. And I am curious too to learn more about injustice around the world. We are profoundly interconnected. Discrimination against one human being is basically discrimination against humanity as a whole.
My intention is to cross the borders, to entice readers from various cultural racial and religious backgrounds. We are all humans. We all love, laugh, suffer and are happy or depressed. And this is the nature of The Healings.

About the Author

She has worn many hats, working as a translator, as a teacher, and eventually caring for animals both domestic and wild. She volunteered and worked for wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centers both in the US and Canada. She lives in Arizona, where she continues to dedicate most of her time to her animals and to writing.

Visit her at: Website | Facebook

interview: Author Spencer Seidel

Written by Darlyn At Sunday, May 15, 2011 3 bookish peeps...
Today I would like to welcome Author Spencer Seidel at Darlyn & Books. This interview is to celebrate the release of his debut book in Dead of Wynter, a mystery-thriller novel. You can read my review here. It's totally a good book!

D: Hello Spencer! Can you tell us what inspired you to write Dead of Wynter?

SS: My own family. My mother's side of the family has a troubled history. In the 1940's, an ugly rumor about a murder among cousins at a Michigan campsite surfaced. In a moment of dementia, my grandmother inadvertently revealed to my mother that there may have been some truth to the stories. Then, when my heavy-drinking uncle died (my mother's brother), I decided to combine the two tragedies into a novel. Dead of Wynter is a kind of fermented, concentrated version of those events with plenty of made-up things thrown in.

D: Where do you do most of your writing?

When I'm planning a novel, the less it seems like work the better. The creative rocket sauce is more potent that way. So, I usually sit on my sofa under my headphones with my iPad. Then, once I start my drafts, I sit at a big bare desk my father built for me writing on a laptop. Unlike many other writers, I can't write in public spaces. I need to cocoon myself, preferably in the dark under headphones.

D: Would you tell us what is your favorite book?

Honestly, I consume and like so many books that my "favorite" is usually one I've read in the last year or so. Joe Hill is in that category currently. I loved Horns and Heart Shaped Box, both of which I read this past year. A few years ago, I fell in love with Caleb Carr's The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness. Before that, I might have said Stephen King's The Shining. Ken Follett, Jack Ketchum, and Peter Straub have also written favorites for me at one time or another.

D: The whole story is awesome but which part of Dead of Wynter was the most enjoyable to write for you?

When I was about halfway through the second draft, I happened to be at my parents' house on Cape Cod. This was in the summer of 2009. There was something about the plot as it was then that had been bugging me for several weeks. One afternoon, I stepped out of the shower and out of nowhere came a new, better idea for the second half. I rushed for a pad and pen and felt incredibly happy even though I knew I would have to go back and shuffle some things around to make it work. After that, the second half of the book was a thrill to write.

D: What are you currently reading?

I'm always reading, so this is a moving target. I just finished Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis, which I liked quite a bit and read quickly. Before that, I read The Exorcist by William Blatty for the first time with my Goodreads horror group. That was a trip. I loved the whole "Captain Howdy" thing. Absolutely brilliant. Now, I'm reading Port City Shakedown by Gerry Boyle, a wonderful Maine mystery writer. In addition, for bedtime reading, I'm slowly working my way through the Harry Potter series again in preparation for the last movie. I read the books too fast the first time through, so I've decided to savor them a bit this time.

D: As a new author, do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published authors?

A lot of writers I know make the mistake of becoming too enamored with the fact that they've written a novel, so they spend years revising it, shopping it around, and trying to convince the world that they've really got something. But if no one's biting, consider filing it away for another day and get to work on something else. No shame in having a couple of novels in the back of your closet. You always learn something when you write a new novel.

Thanks so much to Spencer Seidel for his time for the interview.

About the Author

Spencer Seidel lives and works in suburban New Jersey but has also called Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Portland, Maine home. He is an honors graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University and attended the Berklee College of Music to study guitar, which he has been playing for over 25 years. His love of reading and books began as a child after discovering Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Later, he was drawn to darker work by authors such as Stephen King, Peter Straub, and Jack Ketchum, who continue to influence his dark novels and short stories.

His debut novel, Dead of Wynter, is due to be published in May 2011.

dead of wynter by spencer seidel (arc)

Written by Darlyn At Saturday, May 14, 2011 1 bookish peeps...
Title: Dead of Wynter
Author: Spencer Seidel
Pages: 272
Series: Stand alone
Published: May 1st, 2011
Rating: 4/5
Buy at: Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble

Summary (Goodreads):

“Dolly, it’s your mother.” Dolly. Jackie Ruth Wynter had called Alice that for years. The conversation that followed led her right back to the place she had run from for years. Her twin brother, younger by just a minute or so, had been fading, transforming into an image of their drunken, narrow-eyed father. Now her father was dead, and her brother, Chris, missing. Alice resigns herself to return, helping her mother and the local police with the mystery surrounding the crime. But there are some family secrets her mother would sooner take to the grave than reveal. Reacquainting with her past brings fresh pain and new friendships as she struggles with who to trust with the details of her father’s murder and brother’s disappearance. As the authorities come closer to solving the mystery of the men in her family, she begins to realize her past life as Alice Wynter is the missing part of the puzzle.

My Two Cents:

I'm glad to get an ARC of the book. It's a debut from new author, Spencer Seidel and this book is a keeper. I totally love a family secret and when the gave a full details and dig in into the secret, it's a wow. This book is something that I'm looking for. A book that is a book that you can't put down, totally absorbed as it makes you to keep reading and find what will happen in the end. The story has a mix between the present and the past but it easily to keep it on your reading track. I love the elements of mysteries, secrets that being kept tightly for years. What is very interesting for me about the story is that it's about family secret, being haunted with guilt and chasing them back causing murders. I was intrigued with the mystery till the end, with a shocking conclusion. I love the writing style with the author succeeded to portray each characters with a realistic feelings, but a few of characters are kind of off to me. All in all, the book is a very great mystery debut from Spencer Seidel. I personally think he's very talented, and he has a little bit writing style like Neil Gaiman, the kind of chilly and creepy. As that being said, I recommend this book to all mystery lovers and looking forward to read his next work.

Disclaimer: I received this review copy from publicist Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc. for an exchange of a review. These are my honest review and receiving a copy in no way will ever reflected my review.

Thriller Fest VI July 6-7, 2011

Written by Darlyn At Wednesday, May 04, 2011 4 bookish peeps...

Anticipation mounts as those who dare to scare plot their return to the Big Apple for ThrillerFest VI July 6-9, 2011


Imagine learning the craft of novel writing from Ken Follett, the world-acknowledged master of the thriller novel whose iconic prose has kept millions of fans up late turning pages. This fantasy will become reality when New York City brings back the world’s biggest gathering of masters and devotees of the crime novel July 6-9, 2011 at ThrillerFest VI at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City.

“ThrillerFest VI is breaking records again this year!” says ThrillerFest Chair Kathleen Antrim. “It’s the only event of its kind on the planet. A summer camp for thriller fans and writers. We’re especially excited to have international best seller Ken Follett teaching the craft of writing. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Class with Follett and many other New York Times Bestsellers at CraftFest is just one loop of the non-stop thrill ride that is ThrillerFest VI. This year AgentFest, the follow-through roundhouse to the one-two punch of CraftFest and AgentFest, will be bigger than ever. Sixty of the industry’s best will be there for the event described as “speed-dating with agents.” Aspiring authors will have three minutes to pitch an agent – and they can pitch as many agents as desired within two hours. Every year new writers are discovered.

There’s felonious fun in store for fans, too. More than 200 of the world’s best thriller writers will be in attendance with the express purpose of mixing, mingling and meeting their readers. There will be talks, readings and cocktail parties where tales of suspense will intoxicate more than the libations.

This year’s Thrillermaster is R.L. Stine, a name that is sure make those young at heart shiver in anticipation. The mastermind behind the wildly popular Fear Street and Goosebumps series, Stine has written 330 books for children and four adult thrillers and has sold almost 400 million books around the world. ThrillerFest will also welcome special guests:

Robert Crais, author of the bestselling Elvis Cole series and winner of the 2006 Ross Macdonald Literary Award. His novels are bestsellers in 42 countries.

Diana Gabaldon, whose unique novels blend 20th-century science-fiction with 18th-century historical romantic adventure in a way that is impossible to categorize. A true word-of-mouth sensation, she inspires writers everywhere to keep the faith.

John Lescroart, who took 20 years to become an overnight sensation, but today has novels translated into 16 languages in 75 countries.

The dénouement of ThrillerFest is the Awards Banquet, where authors and fans alike will feel pulse-racing anticipation as they wait to find out who will win the International Thriller Writers awards for best novel, best debut novel and best short story. Two beloved authors will also be honored. Karin Slaughter will receive the Silver Bullet Award for her outstanding and meritorious achievement in the pursuit of literacy and the love of reading. The True Thrill Award will go to Joe McGinnis for the verve, guts, and ambition that have inspired three generations of nonfiction suspense and true crime authors.

To make a reservation for an adrenaline-pumped summer adventure, please visit


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