Friday, August 1, 2014

BOOK BLAST: Lies Told in Silence by M.K. Tod


I am pleased to be able to bring you information about a recently published book, M.K. Tod's "Lies Told in Silence".  As shown in the banner above, this tour is presented by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.  Let's go! 


In 1914 Paris half the city expects war while the other half scoffs at the possibility.

With knowledge gained from his role at the War Department, Henri Noisette fears that Germany may soon attack Paris. He therefore sends his wife, mother and two younger children to Beaufort, a small village in northern France. By late 1914, instead of a safe haven, Beaufort is less than twenty miles from the front.

As war unfolds, Henri’s daughter, Helene, grows up quickly and in 1917 falls in love with Edward Jamieson, a young Canadian soldier.

The novel examines love and loss, duty and sacrifice and the unexpected consequence of lies.



‘Dramatically depicts the horror and heartbreak of war, while also celebrating the resilience of the human spirit.’ – SHARON KAY PENMAN author of A King’s Ransom

‘An intricate, well-researched novel of life forever changed by WWI yet still sweet with the tender innocence of the age.’ – DONNA RUSSO MORIN author of The King’s Agent

‘M.K. Tod is a powerful new voice in the historical fiction genre.’ – AMY BRUNO Historical fiction blogger at Passages to the Past

‘An absorbing and rewarding historical read .. depicting the ruinous impact of war on human lives across the generations.’ – MARGARET EVANS PORTER author of The Proposal

‘A compelling read right up to its taut page-turning ending.’ – RICHARD LEE founder of the Historical Novel Society



M.K. Tod has enjoyed a passion for historical novels that began in her early teenage years immersed in the stories of Rosemary Sutcliff, Jean Plaidy and Georgette Heyer. During her twenties, armed with Mathematics and Computer Science degrees, she embarked on a career in technology and consulting continuing to read historical fiction in the tiny snippets of time available to working women with children to raise.

In 2004, she moved to Hong Kong with her husband and no job. To keep busy Mary decided to research her grandfather’s part in the Great War. What began as an effort to understand her grandparents’ lives blossomed into a full time occupation as a writer. Her debut novel is UNRAVELLED: Two wars, Two affairs. One Marriage. LIES TOLD IN SILENCE, her second novel, is set in WWI France and tells the story of Helene Noisette who featured in Unravelled. Mary has an active blog – – which discusses all aspects of historical fiction and includes author and reader interviews. Additionally, she is a book reviewer for the Historical Novel Society. Mary lives in Toronto where she is happily married with two adult children.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Write Tribe Blog Carnival - What if You Were Not Afraid?

Write Tribe

Click on the button above to join and blog carnival and to check out your co-revelers!


So, the question is:

What would you do if you were not afraid?

And I answer:

Sometimes I want it both ways.  It's either: a) too hard and I'm not capable; or b) too easy, and everyone will find out I'm a fake.

If I were not so afraid, I would act on stage for a living.  

The family into which I was born apparently does not think very much of me.  My father was a chemical engineer, working for a defense contractor.  Very smart.  Both my brother and I had artistic leanings, him in music (he's FABULOUS, by the way) and myself in live theatre.  But I was afraid to put myself center stage, as it were, and my parents were all too happy to steer me towards a more academic life.

When I left the International Department at a regional US bank, I went back to college to get a degree, because without one there was no room for advancement.  Wouldn't you know, while immersed in the finance program (BS-magna cum laude (--that's for my mother)), I saw a notice for auditions for "The Importance of Being Earnest" by Oscar Wilde.  My mind immediately began telling me all the 'why nots', but I went anyway.

And I got a part.  And I participated in about 5 plays a year for the next 6 years...or is it 6 plays a year for the next 5 years.  I get a little muddled.  But the point is, even though it took 10 years, I came back from a professor saying I should find something else to do, that I would never have a future in acting, to being paid to perform!

Then came marriage and children.  The oldest one turns 18 this year.  I have not done a play since before he was born.  Then we lived in Salt Lake City, which is vastly more urban now than when we lived there (last in 1997.)  We live in rural Kentucky ... where you know most of the other 5 people in the county.  You're right; it's not quite THAT deserted, but close.  The closest live theatre is about 30 miles away.  Not a big deal.  But they only have one or two performances.  That's a lot of physical and emotional work to put on a play for so few performances, with not so many people around to see it.

So, I'm allowing this to stop me right now.  Got any suggestions for me?

BOOK REVIEW: To Hold the Sun by Chas Watkins


This delightful and engaging story outlines the experiences of a young, poor, and disillusioned reporter who is enticed to do a series of articles about Paul, an unconventional philosopher and motivational speaker. In lieu of payment, he gets to travel to and dive on Roatan, arguably one of the most beautiful, pristine islands in the Caribbean. Through a series of meetings, the reporter gets to know Paul's innermost philosophies. He learns an alternate way of living from a man who strives to perfect handstands on a dock and practices the art of happiness. 

The author developed the book as a guide to help his children live their lives in a way that would allow them to enjoy the journey. Drawing on wildly diverse disciplines including stoicism, neuroscience, skepticism, behavioral economics, and spirituality; the reader is taken on a journey that exposes the author's philosophy of life. He demonstrates that happiness is indeed a choice.

All places detailed on Roatan exist and are more beautiful than described. Color Photos (if supported) are by kind permission of Shawn Jackson.



I don't know if my parents ever learned to really enjoy life.  Not that they were sad, morose people ... they were just so bound by responsibility, and being what they felt was expected of them.  I think my father was beginning to catch a glimpse of the possible - then he had a stroke at the age of 47.  Not that all responsibility is a bad thing.  It's necessary.  But there's a reason they say "all work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy".

What Mr. Watkins has done is shown us one way to begin celebrating life and enjoying it while we are here on this rock.

Many of us seem to be motivated by negative emotions - fear, anger, and the like.

One of the first lessons Paul Haletine shared with Mr. Watkins was how to manage those emotions, using a very personal experience.  Seems at an informal gathering the previous evening, Chas was mispronouncing the host's name for most of the evening; he was actually calling the man 'a dog'.  So, Chas was *ahem* a little embarrassed and maybe aggravated that they had let it go on so long.  Suffice it to say, by the end of the exercise, Chas was no longer feeling a bitter sting.

The closer I got to the end of the book, the more I felt like I was going to have to return from my own 'island vacation' (ok, I know it was a working vacation for Mr. Watkins).  I didn't want to go.  So I determined to go through the book again and work through those lessons and exercises for myself.

"To Hold the Sun" is part 'how-to' and part "WOOHOO"!  Let me explain.

The book gives some very practical and useful instructions on how to do things that make our lives a lot more enjoyable.  "Sun" is also part sheer and joyful celebration of life.  I want both of those things - I need more how-to and more woohoo in my life.  Thanks go Mr. Watkins' book, I now have one way of getting those very things!



Chas Watkins was born and raised in England and is a naturalized Australian. His children are all American, which he finds very confusing. He moved to Roatan nine years ago. He has an unused degree in electronics from Hull University in England and has somehow managed to work for many fine and good companies without being fired.

After the raging madness of the dotcom world in California, he moved to Roatan to settle with his family. Chas currently pretends to work as a Realtor and Radio DJ. He reads an awful lot, watches the sunrise and sunset every day and consumes way too much coffee. He runs on the beach in the mornings, practices handstands, and lives happily on Roatan with his cat Gary and the children who have not yet deserted him. Even on his best day he is nothing like his character Paul, but strives to be so.

Occasionally he "likes to dance as if no one is watching" which is ironic as his dancing makes people stare. If you are really unlucky, you may meet him, and whatever you do, don't offer him a drink as he is a very rude and uninteresting person.


(Disclosure:  I received a print copy of "To Hold the Sun" from the author and publisher via iRead Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

WeWriWa - D is for Dedication

Welcome to another edition of "Weekend Writing Warriors", hosted at the "WeWriWa" blog.  Click the cool graphic I snagged from the site to go there and see how you can join too!


My 8 sentences today are from the "Proverbs 31 - D is for Dedication" entry posted during the "2014 Blogging from A to Z Challenge":

Cooking a meal takes effort; cooking 18,615 meals (3 meals a day x 365 days x 17 years) takes dedication.  Facing danger requires effort; facing danger every day for 730 days during a two-year deployment takes dedication.  Writing one blog post takes effort.  Writing a blog post starting with each letter of the alphabet during a single month takes dedication. ...

When we put forth effort, we receive reward.  Maybe it is money; maybe it is satisfaction at a job well done or from making a difference.  One reward we get from dedication is reputation.  When one cooks a tasty meal, one hears, "That was a great meal!"  When one cooks 18,615 tasty meals, we hear, "You are a wonderful cook!"


What people or things in life have earned your dedication?  Have any suggestions, critiques, compliments?  Comment below; I comment back! :O)

Friday, July 25, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Endangered by Jean Love Cush


To save her son from a legal system bent on sending African American men to jail, a young mother agrees to an unprecedented, controversial defense offered up from a team of crack lawyers, in this debut novel that speaks to race, class, and justice in America.

Janae Williams, a never-missed-a-day-of-work single mother, has devoted her whole life to properly raising her son. From the time Malik could walk, Janae taught him that the best way to stay alive and out of trouble with the law was to cooperate. Terrified for his safety, she warned him to “raise your hands high, keep your mouth shut, and do whatever they say” if stopped by the police. But when a wave of murders hits Philadelphia and fifteen-year-old Malik is arrested, Janae’s terror is compounded by guilt and doubt: Would Malik be in jail if he had run?

Blocked at every turn from seeing her son, Janae is also unable to afford adequate legal representation. In steps the well-meaning Roger Whitford, a lawyer who wants to use Malik’s case to upend the entire criminal justice system. Janae simply wants her son free, but Roger, with the help of an ambitious private attorney, is determined to expose the system’s hostility toward black boys.

Offering a startling and unprecedented defense, the lawyers spark a national firestorm of debate over race, prison, and politics. As Janae battles to save her son, she begins to discover that she is also fighting for her own survival and that of the future of her community.



Like "Waking up White" by Debby Irving, reading "Endangered" was not always a comfortable experience for me.  It was like being Dorian Gray and looking at the picture a decade or so after it was first painted.  (For those who haven't read "The Picture of Dorian Gray", it's like looking in the mirror after a rough night.)

If I got treated the way a lot of young, black men do simply because of the color of my skin I would be indignant too.  Heck, I might be downright hostile.

I sympathize with Janae's situation.  The advice she had given her son, Malik, to do whatever the police told him to do probably lessened the chance that he would be seriously injured upon arrest.  I struggle along with her wondering if that advice actually worked against Malik in getting him caught in the first place (instead of escaping injury by running).

In steps Roger Whitford, an white attorney from the Innocence Project, who offers to take Malik's case.  On the one hand, you would think a mother would jump at that chance.  On the other hand, Janae is right to question Whitford's motives.  He is at least as interested in trying his own theory on justice for young, black men in general as he is in representing Malik in particular.  And the high-powered lawyer from the high-powered law firm working with the project as a favor to his boss (and because he is black) takes an interest in Janae as well as the case.

Cush writes very well about potentially sensitive subject matter.  Some people will deny the problem.  Some readers will be outraged at the defense used in this work of fiction.  Using stories to get one's point across is a literary device in use for thousands of years.  Hopefully "Endangered" will do the same.  I can see this being required reading in English classes around the country.

After reading "Endangered", I know two things:
1) that this book deserves as wide an audience as possible; and
2) that we will be hearing more from Jean Love Cush in the future.



A native of Philadelphia, Jean Love Cush worked for the Philadelphia district attorney’s office directly out of law school before spending three years as a family law attorney helping low-income women escape domestic-abuse situations. After moving to Fort Wayne, Indiana, she hosted a weekly radio show called A View from Summit, where she covered such topics as public safety, urban violence, and inner-city education. Cush now lives in Illinois with her husband and two children.


(Disclosure:  I received a print copy of "Endangered" from the author and publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my unbiased review.)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Friendship Friday: World's Best Story!

I am really excited to tell you about an innovative new contest platform for both readers and writers. Laura Fabiani of iRead Book Tours is now a proud sponsor for World’s Best Story!

More and more authors and writers are discovering the power of readers. Books are written for the reader audience, so why not have a say in telling others we think a writer’s story has blockbuster potential? That’s what World’s Best Story allows you to do.
In view of this, I hope you will join me in helping to spread the word and to sign up as a member of World’s Best Story to find talented storytellers and get great prizes. 

But first let me tell you more about World’s Best Story.

World’s Best Story was launched at BookExpo America on May 28. It’s the first social contest to reward readers and writers with exclusive partner prizes. So what does this mean for you?

If you are a writer:

1. Submit your story. Entering is free and the entry period ends Aug 12.
2. Prizes include publishing contracts, celebrity master classes, trademark and IP protection, book tours, big box retail distribution, PR and marketing support and more!
3. Top ten finalists and grand prize winner will be announced at the Toronto International Book Fair on November 15, 2014.

If you are a reader:

1. You get the chance to be the judge, discover new stories and win great prizes.
2. When you sign up to become a member, you automatically get $10 to spend at Beyond the Rack. Signing up is easy, requiring only your name and email.
3. When you rate and vote you’ll get a chance to win cool prizes, and the grand prize package includes a $2000 shopping spree at Beyond the Rack!

So how can you help spread the word? There are several ways:
  • Write a post about it and you can enter in a giveaway for a $20 Amazon gift card and one of 6 $25 Beyond the Rack Gift Cards
  • Add the World’s Best Story logo on your blog with a link back to their site.
  • If you are an iRead tour host, your post will count toward your incentive program if you do the above.
  • If you are not yet an iRead tour host, join and you will qualify for the incentive program
  • Tell all your readers about WBS through social media networking.
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Forever Man by Pierre Ouellette


From the author of The Deus Machine and The Third Pandemic comes a fast-paced thriller about the power of harnessing life itself—and the deadly secrets it conceals. Portland, Oregon, was once a beacon of promise and prosperity. Now it’s the epicenter of a world gone wrong, its streets overrun by victims and hustlers, drifters and gangsters. Lowly contract cop Lane Anslow struggles to keep afloat—and to watch out for his brilliant but bipolar brother, Johnny, a medical researcher. Lane soon discovers that Johnny is part of an experiment veiled in extraordinary secrecy. But he has no idea who’s behind it, how astronomical the stakes are, or how many lives might be destroyed to make it a reality.

Now Johnny’s gone missing. To find him, Lane follows a twisting trail into a billionaire’s hilltop urban fortress, a politician’s inner circle, a prison set in an aircraft graveyard, and a highly guarded community where people appear to be half their biological age. Hunted by dueling enemies, Lane meets a beautiful and enigmatic woman at the center of a vast web of political and criminal intrigue. And behind it all is a sinister, desperate race to claim the biggest scientific prize of all: eternal life.



Wow! What a book.

"The Forever Man" starts with a nearly-as-old-as-Moses man digging in a graveyard after dark, while his 'security' and staff stand guard (far enough away that they do not see exactly what he is doing.)  Though it nearly kills him, he unearths a tiny mummified body and twists one of the forearms off.  Ugh.  He then arranges with his second-in-command to have the rest of the security team take a (permanent) vacation.  Nice guy, huh?

At least I don't think the author has done this purely for shock value.  The old man, Zed, is about 120 years old, and for most of his life, has considered himself 'above' everyone else.  Society's rules do not apply to him.  Granted, his earlier home life was not all beer and skittles.  But during the San Francisco earthquake, he turns in his 'partner' and manages to walk off with a bag of expensive jewelry.

In the ensuing years, the gap between the haves and have-nots has gotten even larger, although everyone is playing a numbers game.  The well-to-do live in high-security gated communities and talk about themselves (and each other) as a 35-60, or a 42-70 (etc.);  the first number is the age they appear, while the second number is their actual physical age.  People in the lower economic strata consider themselves lucky if they have any kind of job and a roof over their heads; most don't.  In their areas of town, a crime lord called "The Bird" only allows his coins to be used.  Since most people get paid on debit cards, Bird acts as a bank and changes their plastic for the coin of his realm ... skimming a hefty 50% 'service fee'.

Against this nightmarish backdrop, we have Lane and Johnny, two brothers.  Lane is a nearing-50ish contract cop - a 'temp' if you will.  All the danger, none of the benefits.  Johnny, two years younger, is intellectually brilliant ... and subject to the wild emotional swings of a person with bipolar disorder.  He has been working on genetic manipulation that will allow cells of the aged (and wealthy) to effectively reset themselves, thus providing the patient near-eternal life.

Remember Zed from the cemetery?  He's the bank ... and ruthless enough to send Johnny and the other two geneticists to their deaths in a plane crash.  Except Johnny has a flash of brilliance and jumps off the plane before it starts to taxi to the runway.  Then he disappears for his own good.  He leaves the airport pronto, steals a copy of the technology from "Mount Tabor", and attempts to contact his brother, narrowly missing one of several hit squads attempting to seal his deal.

It constantly amazes and disgusts me the lengths to which people will go to ensure they at least maintain the status quo, or, preferably, consolidate more of societal power and wealth in their hands, while denying the same to everyone else.  And in the end, they will never be able to keep it.  It's part economics and part physics:  the more you try to hold onto, the harder it gets.

And most of the characters are betraying each other right and left.  Even if they have made deals.  Even if they have shaken each others' hands.  But then, they're not exactly ladies and gentlemen.  Lane and Johnny are true to each other, even though they spend very little of the book 'together'.  Likewise, Lane and Rachel do a good job at having each others' backs through some pretty thrilling and frightening circumstances.  You even find some *ahem* residents of the aircraft boneyard prison who have more integrity than most of the glitterati on the outside.

Most of what I read are cozy mysteries.  You know, nothing terribly disturbing reiterated on page after page.  Cute animals are the norm and maybe a romance or two thrown in for good measure.  "The Forever Man" is a much darker kind of a book - but it's a thriller as opposed to a horror novel.  I found the introduction (in the graveyard) difficult to stomach.  Thank goodness, that part was relatively short, and Ouellette's skill as a writer takes over and has the readers alternately cheering when Lane escapes one of the various traps set for him and getting riled up at the depths to which some denizens of 'humanity' have sunk.

Bottom line?  I recommend "The Forever Man", especially if you want to get riled up in service of a 'cause'.  I will keep my eyes out for Ouellette's other books too.



Pierre Ouellette entered the creative realm at age thirteen as a lead guitarist for numerous bands in the Pacific Northwest, including Paul Revere and the Raiders, and later played with such jazz luminaries as saxophonist Jim Pepper and bassist David Friesen. He has had two novels published in seven languages and both optioned for film. He has also authored two biotech thrillers published in paperback under the name Pierre Davis, and directed and produced The Losers Club, a documentary about struggling musicians. Ouellette lives in Portland, Oregon, where he now devotes himself exclusively to writing fiction and playing jazz guitar now and then in a little bar just down the street.


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(Disclosure:  I received access to an e-copy of The Forever Man from the author and publishers via TLC Book Tours and NetGalley, in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.)