Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Book Blast: THE POWER by Jeff Hennelly

The Power Book Boost & Giveaway!

"a heart-quickening novel that will thrill Michael Crichton fans and that T.C. Boyle readers will find wickedly smart"

About The Power

What if you had the power to heal others but it only brought you personal destruction and ruin? Would you still use it? 

When a street shaman meets a horrific demise on Dr. Austin MacLean's ER table, Austin soon discovers a raw and irrepressible power. But when this power inflicts traumatic effects on three chronically ill children, families rush to accuse him, his colleagues condemn him, and the police begin to investigate in this affluent New Jersey beach town....and so do others when the children begin to show inconceivable progress. 

Dara Kleows, a local reporter, is the first to connect the children's gradual healings back to Austin. The two develop a deep bond but Austin remains uncertain as to what this beautiful woman wants. Is she just after a story, or more? There are those who covet Austin's "power" and at any cost, while Dara grows concerned by Austin's headlong march toward his own perdition. 

What if you had the power to heal but people condemned you and suspected its use? Would you still use it? Read The Power. You just might need it someday when you meet the One, or if that One becomes you. 

Purchase The Book

*Only $2.99 on Kindle!*

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About The Author

Jeff Hennelly now lives outside of Philadelphia, PA. He's been in the medical device business for over 20 years and has worked with hospitals, clinics, and alternate care facilities from Palo Alto to Prague. His articles and short stories have appeared in numerous trade magazines and journals. His latest novel, THE POWER has generated motion picture interest. His fascination remains for the human condition, behavior surrounding procreation, and in art that portrays a metaphor for life. Look for his new novel, THE 95 PERCENT in December of 2013.


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Monday, April 14, 2014

Guest Post: Nancy Allen, author of THE CODE OF THE HILLS

How do you come up with a likeable heroine? Nancy Allen, author of The Code of the Hills: An Ozarks Mystery, stops by to answer this question. The Book Diva's Reads is pleased to present to you Nancy Allen:

Fictional Heroines: A Recipe
By Nancy Allen

What makes heroines tick? Why do readers fall head over heels to embrace one female protagonist, while another leaves them cold?

I think it's the right combination of ingredients: V/V, U/R. The heroine must possess the essential elements of Virtue and Vulnerability, and be simultaneously Unique and Relatable.

Think of the women we love in fiction: Skeeter in The Help, Clare Fergusson in Julia Spencer-Fleming's series, Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum. They have the V/V factor. All heroines must exhibit strength, whether they are battling racism, or fighting crime, or solving mysteries. It requires a healthy dose of virtue to get the job done.

But a heroine who is all goodness and light is a bore. I didn't read each and every volume of Spencer-Fleming's series because I wanted to hear heroine Clare Fergusson, an Episcopal priest, preach on Sunday. No, indeed; I wanted to see Clare struggle with her unbridled lust for a hunky married cop. The vulnerability factor, the contest of strength and weakness, converted her woman-of-the-cloth heroine from a potential yawn to a persona who kept me riveted to the page.

Similarly, Skeeter's fight against the racist practices of the 1960's Deep South was heightened by her angst, fear, and uncertainty as she met in secret with the maids whose stories fueled an expose. And Stephanie Plum's employment background in lingerie does not equip her for the job of crimefighter; but the fact that she stumbles makes us root for her.

Also, the heroine has to be unique in some way. We don't want to see the same woman over and over again in fiction. Stock female characters bore us; in the mystery and suspense genre, we've all seen the hard-boiled female detective, the brilliant-but-introverted medical examiner; the tough-as-nails female lawyer. If the character isn't invested with traits that set her apart, we toss the book before we reach page 50. A heroine needs a streak of something unexpected, either in her background, like Clarice Starling of The Silence of the Lambs, or her history (addiction issues, personal disasters), or her personality.

But while we want something unique, the heroine must remain relatable. A heroine who is too beautiful, too brilliant, too infallible makes us suspicious. Why should we care about her? We don't like those women in real life—the acquaintance who never has a hair out of place or a run in her hose. Why would we like her in a book? Who wants to read about that?

So we love Skeeter's frizzy hair in The Help; Stephanie Plum's family dinners with kinfolks who deliver a put-down with a hug. We want to see a heroine eat a doughnut, sleep through the alarm, walk into a kitchen full of dirty dishes. Leave the infallible heroines to the dystopian fantasies, targeting the the high school set (no doughnuts or dirty dishes in Chasing Fire). Real women need protagonists who contend with life's realities.

When crafting the heroine of my novel, The Code of the Hills: An Ozarks Mystery, I tried to follow my own advice. Elsie Arnold, the assistant prosecutor in my legal thriller, embodies the V/V contrast. She's smart, dedicated, hard-working—important virtues in the legal field. But Elsie has feet of clay. Her personal life is messy. She puts up with a bad boyfriend because he's easy on the eyes; to relax, she heads to the local bar (not the gym); she makes mistakes in her case that threaten the outcome. Elsie is a good/bad girl.

And it's important to remember the U/R quotient as well. Elsie is a hillbilly, born and raised in the Missouri Ozarks, with the quirks inherent in natives of that area; that’s something you don’t see in fiction every day. She's also a feminist fighting for women in the good ole boy community.

But she is truly relatable. Elsie buys McDonalds burgers at the drive-through and eats in the car. She watches reality TV and buys her shoes at Shoe Carnival. She turns to her mother for comfort and counsel, then rejects her advice—just like we all do.

Whether I invested Elsie with the right measures of V & V, U & R? Only time will tell. The Code of the Hills will be released by HarperCollins on April 15, and Elsie will be put to the test. I hope she lights up the page!

About the author:

Nancy Allen is a member of the law faculty in the College of Business at Missouri State University. She practiced law for 15 years, serving as Assistant Missouri Attorney General and as Assistant Prosecutor in her native Ozarks. When Nancy began her term as prosecutor, she was only the second woman in Southwest Missouri to serve in that capacity. During her years in prosecution, she tried over 30 jury trials, including murder and sexual offenses, and she served on the Rape Crisis Board and the child protection team of the Child Advocacy Council. The Code of the Hills is her first novel.

Connect with the author:     Website     |     Facebook     |     Twitter 

A powerful debut thriller set in the Ozark hills, about a young female prosecutor trying to do right by her vulnerable clients-but by breaking their silence, she herself may fall victim to The Code of the Hills. Elsie Arnold may not always have it all together, but a raucous night at the bar now and then is just how she blows off steam after a long week of hard-fought trials. When she is chosen to assist on a high-profile incest case, Elsie is excited to step up after four years of hard work as an attorney for the prosecutor’s office, and ready to realize her ambition of becoming the Ozarks' avenging angel. There might even be media attention.
But as soon as Elsie she begins to sink her teeth into the State of Missouri vs. Kris Taney, things start to go wrong -which is when her boss dumps the entire case on her. The star witness and victim's brother, who has accused Taney of sexually abusing his three daughters, has gone missing. The three girls, ages six, 12, and 15, may not be fit to testify, their mother won't talk, and the evidence is spotty. To make matters worse, it seems that some people in town don’t want Elsie to lock Taney up – judging by the death threats and chicken parts left for her to find.
Elsie is determined to break the code of silence and find out what really happened, refusing to let a sex offender walk, but the odds – and maybe the community – are against her. Even as Elsie fights the good fight for her clients, she isn't so different from them: her personal life is taking a one-two punch as her cop boyfriend becomes more and more controlling. And amidst all of the conflict, the safety of the three young Taney girls hangs in the balance.

Enter to win 1 of 10 individual promo codes to download a copy of The Code of the Hills ebook. To enter use the Rafflecopter form below. All winners must have access to Bluefire Reader AND have an Adobe account in order to download the book. 

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This author visit organized by Partners In Crime Tours.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Guest Post: Carey Baldwin, Author of CONFESSION

Today the Book Diva's Reads is pleased to host a visit by Carey Baldwin, author of the new psychological thriller Confession. Ms. Baldwin will be discussing various influences on her writing. I hope you'll enjoy her discussion and you definitely need to buy and read her book Confession!

Writing Influences
By Carey Baldwin

First, thank you so much to The Book Diva's Reads for inviting me today. I'm delighted to be here and to share with you which authors have most influenced my writing. This seemed a tough question until I realized that my influences have changed over time. So if I may, I'll divide them into groups. 

My earliest influences were perhaps the most important. It was when, as a child, I huddled under the covers reading the likes of Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge, Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott that I learned the meaning of an unputdownable book. Even though it meant reading by the dim orange light on my electric blanket control, even though it meant being dog tired at school the next day, even though it meant risking a spanking and heaven forbid "ruining my young eyes", I simply couldn't stop reading these stories. This is where my love affair with storytelling began. 

As time marched on, I found myself giving up books of my own choosing (or my mother's ) for those needed to complete my school work. Luckily for me I found wonderful authors in my "required" reading. Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte were among my favorites. And it was through my high-school literature class that I discovered my favorite book of all time: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Even today, I can't seem to keep the influence of that work out of my own stories. Somehow, references to it have appeared in each of my full-length novels. I don't do it on purpose. It just happens. 

In college, I had the time and freedom to choose my own reading, and that's when I began to read a lot of commercial fiction. I loved (and still do love) a heart-thumping romance or a shiver-inducing thriller. My favorite authors today are too numerous to name, but I'll hit a few highlights with Steven King, Cindy Gerard, Harlan Coben, Allison Brennan, Karen Rose, Lisa Gardner…you get the idea.

But the most important influences of all have been a core group of writer friends who critique with me and support me. You'll find their names listed in the acknowledgements of my books. Each one of them inspires me every day to write my best possible book, and reminds me to never give up on my dreams. 

Thanks again, for having me! And thanks for reading!

About the author:

Carey Baldwin is a mild-mannered doctor by day and an award-winning author of edgy suspense by night. She holds two doctoral degrees, one in medicine and one in psychology. She loves reading and writing stories that keep you off balance and on the edge of your seat. Carey lives in the southwestern United States with her amazing family. In her spare time she enjoys hiking and chasing wildflowers. 

Connect with the author:      Website      |     Twitter      |      Facebook 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Book Showcase: THE IDEA OF HIM by Holly Peterson

Have you ever wanted someone, something, so badly to be true that you'd overlook every shred of evidence to the contrary?

Enter Wade Crawford – the dazzling, urbane, hotshot magazine editor of Meter. With gorgeous hazel eyes, strong shoulders, a chiseled face, and long blondish hair, he was everything that Allie ever thought she wanted in a man and a husband. Until she realized he was anything but. 

The Idea of Him by Holly Peterson
ISBN: 9780062283108 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780062283115 (ebook)
ASIN: B00DB3D3A2 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Publication Date: April 1, 2014

Mary Crawford is a once aspiring screenwriter turned successful public relations executive, mother of two young children, and wife of a hotshot magazine editor whose power base spans the worlds of finance, fashion, culture, entertainment, and society. At 34, she finds herself at a crossroads: between the office and her home, her life has become an endless rotation of people pleasing-whether pulling rabbits out of hats for her mogul boss, entertaining advertisers and phony A-listers for her husband's magazine, or making elaborate costumes for children's school plays. At least, that is, until she meets a head turning, traffic stopping beauty at the bar of the famed Four Seasons Grill Room-where many of the novel's players regularly convene-and shortly thereafter finds the same woman and her husband in an apparently compromising position in her own apartment.
And so begins the story of two very different women bound by similar missions-to uncover the crimes and betrayals of various men in their lives and finally put their own interests front and center. For Mary this ultimately means leaving a husband who is ideal in theory but not in practice, and deciding to risk security for self-fulfillment and a new life on her own. Like so many women, Mary fell for the man she married when she was in her twenties only to realize years later that it wasn't him she fell for as much as it was the idea of him-the idea of a savior who would protect and provide and ferry her from her past into the future. But the guy who seemed so right at the time turned out to be nothing more than a fantasy.

Read an Excerpt:

While he was coming to quick terms with the idea that he'd finally found an attractive woman who cared about his world of nonstop news and gossip, right away, I knew that I too certainly liked the idea of this Wade Crawford man before me. He fit a need. His enthusiasm for life and work would soften my losses: my father in a plane to the ravages of an untimely blizzard and James to a burning obsession to save every child on the other side of the world. 

New York glimmered around us that night, the way it can when spontaneity falls perfectly into place. After dinner, Wade escorted me to two downtown parties filled with cigarette smoke and writers. Someday I hoped to be like his writer friends who wrote long magazine stories and books that they'd mined from their souls. It was clear from every angle that Wade’s non-stop joie-de-vivre was more than contagious. He was sheer fun, and full of the possibility of escape, of renewal even. 

He dropped me at my stoop at dawn, kissing me tenderly on the lips and disappearing into the early morning glow. As I watched him bounce down the street, all I could think was that he had Daddy's electricity and confidence. And that suited me just fine.   

Read more from The Idea of Him by clicking here 

Meet the author:

Holly Peterson is the author of the New York Times and international best seller, The Manny. She was a Contributing Editor for Newsweek and editor-at-large for Tina Brown’s Talk magazine. She was also an Emmy Award–winning producer for ABC News for more than a decade, where she covered global politics. Her writing has been published in the New York Times, Newsweek, Talk, the Daily Beast, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and other publications.

Connect with the author:     Website     |     Facebook     |     Twitter

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Shattered Embrace by P. R. Newton
ISBN: 9780992023294 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780992023270 (ebook)
ASIN: B00IP2A6B8 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: March 5, 2014
Publisher: PRN Publishing

Bethlehem took her first breath as her mother took her last. 
Left to survive in overcrowded orphanages, she developed survival skills rivaling a warrior, a fierce, independent fighter before she could walk or talk. Bethlehem lived by two rules: everyone leaves and trust no one. 
A world away in Canada, Tory Witcraft and her husband are trying to adopt from Ethiopia. When the adoption agency goes bankrupt, Tory's dreams of becoming a mother are threatened. Against the advice of many, including officials threatening to revoke the adoption, she goes to Ethiopia, and her new daughter, Bethlehem. 
When they finally meet, mother and daughter struggle to connect, both tormented by their own fears and demons. Emotions and tempers run hot. Hearts and dreams collide, shattering the new family. 
The adoption journey was difficult, but no one expected the hardest part of the journey would start after they met. 
An emotional and heart-wrenching glimpse into adoption and the devastating impact of childhood trauma.

Bethlehem has been a fighter since her birth. She fought to be born. She fought for survival and to overcome the demons of hunger and apathy. She has learned that everyone she comes to care for and rely upon leaves. Tory has also had to struggle in her life. Granted she hasn't had to deal with the issues facing little Bethlehem, but she's had to deal with a highly dysfunctional family life. Her father was an abusive alcoholic and her mother was an enabler that put more emphasis on the appearance of a normal family life than she did providing a normal family life for her children. As an adult Tory has been welcomed into her husband's family and sees what a loving, caring family is and can be. Now that she and Matt have decided on adoption to fulfill their dreams of children, she is looking forward to providing a loving home to a child in need. Tory and Matt have to learn to wait, and then wait a little longer. The application process is tedious and time-consuming. Just when Tory and Matt think they've dealt with the last hurdle to receiving their child, they are informed that the agency brokering their adoption has gone bankrupt. Fearful that their daughter may be left in limbo, they rush to Ethiopia to bring their daughter home. But this journey to bring their daughter home doesn't have the happy-ever-after ending they had dreamed about.

Tory is anxious about being a good mother and she feels she isn't bonding properly with Bethlehem. It doesn't help that she didn't really have a good example of how to parent from her parents. Bringing their adopted daughter home seems to be the start of more problems than either Matt or Tory could have imagined. Is Tory a horrible mother? Is Bethlehem a problem child that her mother had warned her about?

Ms. Newton provides a powerful, gut-wrenching and heart-warming story of the problems fraught with foreign adoption. Is it possible to really now the troubles these children have endured in their young lives? Is it possible for adoptive families to mitigate against the stress and trauma experienced in young children? At first I thought that Tory was more in love with the dream of adopting than the reality, but I quickly realized that she simply didn't know about aftereffects of the trauma and stress that she would have to deal with in a child so young. We often hear such warming stories about adoption and one is lead to believe that there are never any problems. It is only in the past few years that we've heard more stories about the horrors these children have had to deal with, and not only children in so-called third-world countries. Adoption, foreign or domestic, can be beautiful and provide much needed, loving homes for children. However, even the most loving of parents needs to be aware of the trauma they may need to deal with in their adoptive child. Shattered Embrace sheds a spotlight on this powerful need in a manner that is just as emotional as the trauma endured by both Tory and Bethlehem. If you enjoy reading stories to warm your heart and tug at your emotions while remaining realistic and hopeful, then Shattered Embrace is one story you'll want to read.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from Reading Addiction Virtual Blog Tours. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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