Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Guest Blog post & visit by Laura Griffin NY Times Bestselling author

 Today I'm honored to have bestselling author Laura Griffin visiting my forum at B&N.com so please click the link and stop by.

Laura Griffin
Oct. 30, 2012
Thank you, Deb, for inviting me to be here with your group. I’m not sure if I ever told you that my nickname as a kid was “Book Nook” because I liked to finish my schoolwork early and go find a quiet corner with my book... So I love being among people who love to read as much as I do.
I’m thrilled to be here to talk about my latest suspense novel SCORCHED. This is the sixth book in my Tracers series, which has taken on a life of its own… and before anyone runs away, let me answer two questions I get all the time: No, you do not have to read the Tracers books in order. Yes, each book can be read as a stand-alone.
I’ve often discovered a new author by picking up a book in the middle of a series, so I know how that goes. I don’t want new readers to feel lost, so each book has a stand-alone suspense plot and each book features a different lead couple. The Tracers books are all mysteries, with a love story woven in. I like for the characters to work hard and struggle and eventually get their hard-won Happily Ever After.
SCORCHED features two of my very favorite characters, forensic anthropologist Kelsey Quinn and Navy SEAL Gage Brewer. These two were quite an adventure to write (I got to interview SEALs! I got to visit a body farm!) and I hope you’ll enjoy their story.
Maybe it is because of my reporter roots, but I always have to meet and interview people in my character’s professions. I love to gather colorful details that I can use to bring the characters to life. So, to learn about SEALs, I read up on them and then interviewed a few (one via BlackBerry while he was stationed in Afghanistan). To learn about forensic anthropologists, I visited a body farm and got to hear all about the study of bones and how experts can use clues to provide leads for homicide investigators.
After getting a feel for my main characters, I sat down to write.
The story begins with Gage on a daring SEAL rescue mission and Kelsey stationed halfway around the world doing a humanitarian dig in the Philippines. She is excavating bones of people killed in a massacre and comes across something that doesn’t fit. As Kelsey investigates the mystery back home in the United States, she becomes mixed up in a murder. Kelsey goes on the run, and that’s when she crosses paths with Gage, the man who once broke her heart and now must help save her life.
Like the other Tracers books, SCORCHED features some forensic twists and turns. It was fun to weave several SEAL action scenes into the novel, too. Navy SEALs make terrific heroes because there is nothing these guys cannot do. They are dedicated. They are determined. And they are literally unstoppable when it comes to fighting for what matters to them. In this case, Gage is fighting not only for his country, but for the woman he loves.
I’ve got an excerpt posted on my web site at http://www.lauragriffin.com/books/scorched.php#excerpt. I look forward to talking to you all hear at B&N. If you have questions about the books, the series, or anything at all, please ask away!

My Review of Scorched
Laura Griffin
Pocket Books
Forensic Anthropologist Kelsey Quinn while on a dig in the Philippines finds skeletal remains of a homicide that gives her pause. Looking for answers she sends samples to her ex-fiancée Blake, an FBI agent. But answers is the last thing she receives when her ex is murdered, she’s the next supposed victim and has to run for her life, with no where turn and no one to trust because the killer wears a badge.
Navy SEAL Gage Brewer is blindsided by the two FBI agents waiting for him on his return from an op. It seems he’s high on the suspect list of Kelsey’s ex’s murder because of their past relationship. But Kelsey’s just as high on their list it seems and what really scares Gage is that no one’s seen Kelsey since before the murder, now his only concern is to find her alive because she still means the world to him.
Together Kelsey and Gage will be a united front against a formidable foe whose plot is beyond belief terrifying. They’ll also discover that their feelings for each other did not die with the end of their relationship. But love comes at a cost and if they survive the threat against them are they willing to pay the price.
Laura Griffin has amazed me before but this time she went above and beyond. I could not put this down, it kept me up late and glued to the pages as my heart sped and my pulse pounded with each new and frightening development, each new threat and each time the passion was just as affecting as the violence. Her characters Gage and Kelsey were so enigmatic, so engaging, and so real. Their stories so empathic that there was never a good guy or bad guy only lost chances that I could only hope see turned to second chances. Her storyline is as A-typed as her characters, it’s fast paced and angst filled and kept my stomach in knots and my nails bitten. The best thing about Laura’s Tracer series is both the fact that they read well as a stand-alone and that we get a glimpse of our old friends and their new lives as we go.
Thank you for an awe-inspiring romance and a fearful thriller in one read, it’ll take a while for my distress to lessen, but by then I’ll be more than ready for your next roller-coaster ride.
If you like the novels of Nelson DeMille, Lisa Gardner and John Sandford. I think you’ll really love Laura Griffin.

Here are the other novels in the Tracer Series

Friday, October 26, 2012

Review of Sleep No More by Iris Johansen

Sleep No More
Iris Johansen
St. Martin’s Press
ISBN13: 9780312651244
400 pages
Eve and Joe are once again thrown into a myriad of murder and mayhem when it’s discovered that Eve’s not her mother Sandra’s only child. No the year before Eve was conceived Sandra had another daughter, Beth who’s politically and prominent paternal family literally bought the child from the arms of 14 year old Sandra. Unbeknown to Eve Sandra has kept up with this child, from her childhood in European boarding schools, to her nearly fatal skiing accident and now to her disappearance from the mental hospital she’s been in all the years since. Sandra wants Joe’s help to find Beth and although Eve has mixed feelings about the discovery and Sandra’s request, she and Joe go to find Beth. What they discover goes deep into the realm of criminal, psychopathic and even sociopathic behavior and the ultimate mastermind will shock everyone involved even the  newly discovered sisters who’s encounter has been halting and disquieting. and who’s survival is questionable at the least.

Iris Johansen has entertained and terrified me for years with her Eve Duncan thrillers as well as her stand-a-lone and co-authored novels with her son Roy. She never disappoints me and in this one she shocks me to find yet another avenue for her protagonist Eve Duncan to travel when she throws an un-known sister into her plot. The storyline is as incredible as it is imaginative with twists and evil turns one after another as she speeds me along on her on her fast pace, nail-biting journey. Her tried and true characters are joined by an old friend from her last book co-authored with her son Roy along with new stars on each side of the morality fence. Even though this is not a romance novel the love scenes between Eve and Joe never cease to awe me in their intensity and honesty and above all their love for each other. If you’ve never read Iris, it’s definitely worth your while to do so and even though this is part of a many novel series it stands well on it’s own.
To you Ms. Johansen I say thank you for your wonderful stories, your great characters and your inventive plot lines. I can’t wait to see where you take me on our next adventure.
Buy the book here visit the author's website here

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New Release Feature 10-23 + Q&A w/Karen Kingsbury

 Q&A w/Karen Kingsbury 
The Bridge

Please welcome #1 USA Today and NY Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury.
Debbie - Karen, thank you for taking this time to chat with us a little.
Will you please tell us a little about your newest novel, “The Bridge”?
Karen -First, thanks so much for having me join you! I’m forever talking to my readers about my friends at Barnes and Noble – and that’s really how I feel. Ok … The Bridge is being called by some the most-anticipated novel of the season. It is a love story about second chances, set against the demise of the American Bookstore – something we all understand very well. The owner of The Bridge bookstore in downtown Franklin, TN., is facing closure when tragedy strikes. The resulting events bring together a couple who once met up at the store during their college years, but now have gone their separate ways. The Bridge is a story that gives us a reason to believe, and a reason to hope that love can have a second chance.

Your story about becoming an author is inspirational, and very timely, for you and your family. Will you tell us how it happened that you’re a full time author now? 
I was a sports writer for the Los Angeles Times and then the Los Angeles Daily News. Eventually I worked my way to covering features for the Front Page Sunday edition. After Kelsey was born, we prayed for a way that I could do my writing at home. I had written a sad story for People Magazine about a girl killed by her best friends. A literary agent was interested so I wrote a proposal and he loved it.  A week before my maternity leave was up, he called and said he’d gotten my proposal into a bidding war. The advance brought in almost exactly what I was making a year. I quit my job at the Daily News the next day and began writing books. My first four were true crime stories, and they did well. But my heart’s desire was to write novels that touched hearts and changed lives. Finally, after that fourth true crime book, I wrote Where Yesterday Lives. It took a year to get it published, and I’ve been writing Life-Changing Fiction ™ ever since! During that time we’ve raised six kids and I’ve worked from home – just the way we prayed!

Did you always write inspirational novels?
After my first novel – Where Yesterday Lives – came out, I began receiving letters from people saying that the stories were changing their lives, restoring their hope and helping them heal broken relationships. They appreciated life more. After that I trademarked my fiction Life-Changing Fiction ™. It’s really a genre all on its own. And yes, that’s what I always write – and what I always will write. I want to bring the readers stories they can’t put down, characters and plots that make them laugh and cry. They need to walk away changed and encouraged by the experience – no matter how the story ends.

Do you prefer the term Inspirational or Christian fiction?
Tough question. I believe all stories – real or fiction – involve the physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual aspects of life. Most authors cut out the spiritual element of a story. I leave it in. I think the term Inspirational Fiction is broader and more accurate, because my books appeal to a wide-range of people, and not only Christians. Sometimes Christian Fiction makes me feel that something’s been patched onto a story or that there is preaching in it. That wouldn’t be true for my books. I love the Lord and I am a committed Christian. But I’m not religious. So I guess long answer, Inspirational Fiction with a faith element included 

You write both series and stand-alone novels.
Do you have a personal favorite?
I love them both for different reasons. Obviously with the series I can get to know the characters. Sometimes – like with the Baxters and Flanigans – I get to know them so well they become part of my family. My husband teases me that one day I won’t be able to tell my kids from my characters, and I’ll be forever saying, “That Ashley Baxter, she never calls, she never writes!” We laugh about it. But I love stand-alones as well, because they give me new topics to write about. For instance, the idea of someone giving everything to a bookstore, only to see it close. I can’t imagine that heartbreak, but I had the chance to explore it and live in it when I wrote The Bridge.

Do you have a favorite of your works?
Books are like kids, in that I pour everything I have into them. I certainly don’t have a favorite child, but I’m cheering loudest for the one on the field or stage. Right now The Bridge is on the stage, and I’m in love with it. I can’t wait for my readers to get lost in it and share it with everyone they know. It’s a very special story, one that stayed with me long after I finished writing it.

You really love, and it seems have a real affinity with, your readers.
Will you tell us why?
My dad always told me, “Karen, there won’t be autograph lines in Heaven. When you’re doing a book signing, you’re just connecting with people. Making friends.” That’s how I feel. And you’re right, I really love my readers. I spend time with them on Facebook every day – answering questions, leaving comments, sharing my heart … and giving them insider information on my upcoming books. I’ve gotten to know many of them by name, and I look for them when I come to events or bookstores in their areas. They make me cry with their comments and letters, telling me what God is doing in their lives because they read one of my novels. I always tell them, He can put a story on my heart, but He has their hearts in mind. Only He could do that. I just really have the greatest readers of all. They’re crazy loyal, and I love them. I’m always coming up with programs for them – like my reader share program, where readers pass on their gently used books to readers in need, who can’t afford the book during release week. I give books to any school librarian who asks – anywhere in the world, and I send signed books to auctions. Details for all those programs are on my website KarenKingsbury.com. But those programs came about because I hear my reader friends, and would do anything to help them.

You are the mother of six boys, three of whom you and your husband, Don, adopted from Haiti, that sounds like a very busy life.
Can you give us a typical day in the life of Karen Kingsbury?
In the twenty-four years I’ve been married to the love of my life, Don, we’ve probably never had a typical day! That was true when we lived in our garage apartment south of Ventura Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley in Southern California, and again as our children joined us – Kelsey, Tyler, and Austin. Certainly things got even crazier and more fun when we adopted Sean, Josh, and EJ from Heart of God Ministries Orphanage in Haiti. The boys were best friends, and we couldn’t separate them. A typical day? Up at 6:15 a.m., make protein shakes for the younger four boys and Don, make lunch for Austin, who has a heart condition and has to eat specific foods, read a short Bible story, pray, and at 7 a.m. see them off to school. Walk three miles – pray and listen to music the whole time!! Shower, make breakfast (egg whites and spinach) make coffee and welcome the rest of my staff at 9 a.m. My staff local staff is my sister, Trish, and my mom, along with my daughter Kelsey, and her husband Kyle. Kelsey and Kyle are pursuing acting and Christian music, but they are also passionate about my work. We all have a great time working out of my home office. We start by sharing coffee and catching up on the schedule, marketing, Facebook, Twitter, and donations, deadlines, meetings, travel, etc. Then at 10 a.m. I sneak off to my hideaway and write for 6 hours. I write in the corner of my bedroom near an open window. At 4 p.m. it’s time for sports practices, games, rehab (depending on who has a sports injury), and grocery shopping. We eat a lot of fresh foods, so that’s time consuming. At night we might watch football or Duck Dynasty! The boys can’t get enough of those type shows – Gator Boys, Big Foot, Man Tracker. Sometimes I write with my headphones on sitting beside them during those shows. Other times I’ll sign a thousand books for donation while we watch the shows together. Weekends are bike rides and walks and board games and music in the piano room. Church on Sunday and meals together. It’s truly a wonderful life. I’m savoring every single moment. 

On your website you endorse the One Chance Foundation. Will you tell us about that? The One Chance Foundation is my charitable organization that grants money to families seeking to complete an adoption. I am passionate about helping families bring home orphans who desperately need them. I’m thinking up ways to better involve the readers in this process.

Karen, thank you for visiting with us and letting us into your life just a little.
You have many events planned and quite a few at Barnes & Noble locations. I hope some of your fans here will visit you.
I hope so, too! I’ll be the one standing at the front of the line, laughing, crying, and giving hugs with every book signed Thanks again for letting me have this time with you and your amazing readers!

For those Barnes & Noble events, visit the events page at Karen’s website.

My Review of The Bridge

The Bridge
Karen Kingsbury
Howard Books
272 pages

Molly Allen and Ryan Kelly came from very different worlds, but their mutual love of music and literature bridged the gap. They nurtured their dreams in a Franklin TN bookstore, an institution known as The Bridge, and seven years ago they saw those dreams abruptly change. Charlie and Donna Barton, who built it on faith and love, own the bookstore; they named it The Bridge because Charlie felt that books were a bridge between the past, the present and the future. They never put profit over customers or community and often gave from their own pockets to fill the needs of others, one small miracle at a time. In the aftermath of the Nashville flood it’s now Charlie who needs a miracle and it reunites Molly and Ryan to fight for his cause. What they discover about their past will come as a shock to them both, it will also reaffirm their faith in each other, but it’s what they choose to do with that knowledge that may redirect their future, and will give them both a greater awareness that God truly believes in second chances.

This was my debut read of Karen Kingsbury and I can easily see why she has a great following. She combined a story of faith, love, forgiveness and what havoc betrayal can wreck. She gave me characters that were humanized by their faults and who shone because of their hearts. And she gave one very special brick and mortal building a staring role. She told a tale about questioning faith, about miracles and mostly about second chances. She does this with a narrative that’s easily read and enjoyed by all ages and all genders. And to make it even more special it’s a story set during the season of miracles.
Weather you’re seeking an inspirational novel, a love story, a drama, you will get all of these and more inside the pages of this novel.
Thank you Ms. Kingsbury for an enjoyable, refreshingly innocent and faith based novel.
Buy the book here, visit the author's website here

Photo by Dan Davis

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New Release Feature 10-16 The Panther + Q&A w/Nelson DeMille

 Q&A with #1 New York Times Bestselling author

Mr. Nelson DeMille

Mr. DeMille, first, welcome to the Barnes & Noble.com General Fiction Book Club forum. It’s my great pleasure to host such a prolific author and one of my favorite authors, as well.

Debbie - The Panther is your latest published novel and the 6th starring John Corey. And for your reader’s added pleasure, also includes Paul Brenner (Up Country & The General’s Daughter).
Can you briefly tell us a little about the novel?)
Nelson - As you said, this is my 6th novel starring John Corey, former NYPD Homicide detective, now working for the Federal Anti-Terrorist Task Force at 26 Federal Plaza in NYC.  In The Panther, Corey and his wife, FBI Special Agent Kate Mayfield, are asked to go to Yemen.  Their mission is to find and apprehend Bulus ibn al-Darwish, an American-Yemeni, who was one of the masterminds of the USS Cole bombing which took place in Aden, Yemen in 2000.

Corey and Kate fly to Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, where they are met by Paul Brenner, who previously appeared in The General’s Daughter and Up Country.  Brenner, former Army Criminal Investigation Division detective, is now working for the Diplomatic Security Service.  Later, Corey, Kate, and Brenner join a man working for State Department Intelligence, then meet up with a CIA officer whom they don’t completely trust.  Now, with their five-person team in place, they are ready to look for al-Darwish, known as The Panther.
That’s the basic setup, and some of this is based on true events and situations, such as the Cole bombing.  Of course, as in most of my novels, there is more to this assignment than meets the eye, and Corey is aware of that, and so is the reader, but we’re not quite sure what’s going on behind the scenes until the end.

John Corey is your longest running connected novel/series character. To what do you attribute his longevity?  Do you have a certain number of novels planned starring John?
The first John Corey novel, Plum Island, was meant to be a stand-alone book, which you can see if you read it.  I had never done a series character before and I had no idea that John Corey would be my first.
What got me thinking about continuing this character was the large volume of reader mail I received about John Corey in Plum Island.  Apparently I had created a character that my readers loved and related to, and wanted to see again.  The male readers enjoyed John Corey’s sarcasm, cynicism, and offbeat humor, and the female readers loved John Corey for reasons that I can only guess at.
My plan is to bring Corey back in either the next novel or the one after.  When an author hits on a character who is universally liked, such as Ian Fleming did with James Bond, or Arthur Conan Doyle with Sherlock Holmes, then it’s the reader, not the author, who decides if and when that character should retire.

Remembering back to your first published novel, does release day still excite you as much today as it did the first time?
My first published hardcover novel was By the Rivers of Babylon in 1978.  Nothing can duplicate or replace the excitement that a novelist feels for his or her first novel.  Having said that, release date is still a very big deal, filled with excitement, some anxiety, and lots of hope.  The time between books is usually long enough so that each book, in a way, feels like the first.  An author who doesn’t feel that way should take a break, take stock, and try to recall why he or she is writing.

Speaking of going back, can you tell us the genesis of your writing career?
I was an avid reader as a child, partly because there wasn’t much else available then for entertainment.  Also, I found that I admired writers and I was in awe of their ability to put words on paper that transported me to different times and places.  Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew I wanted to be a writer.
It was probably my year in Vietnam as a combat infantry officer that spurred me to attempt a war story.  That story never got published, but the experience of putting pen to paper made me realize that I enjoyed the process a lot more than I did in college writing term papers.
I served overseas with a man whose college roommate was also in the Army, but who was a book editor in civilian life.  When we all returned home to New York, we met in a bar on Third Avenue and over drinks talked about the war and also about me writing something about it.  As I said, that novel was never published, but this editor encouraged me to write a police procedural, which I did, and it was published as a paperback original.  After a few years of night and weekend writing, I quit the day job and began By the Rivers of Babylon, which was a hardcover bestseller.  Later, I finally got back to the theme of Vietnam and wrote Word of Honor, then I returned to this subject with Up Country.  So, in a way, it was my time in Vietnam that led me to become a published novelist.

In your travels to research your novels, which location was your favorite and have you ever decided because of the research to return to a location for a pleasure visit?
Interesting question.  Many of my novels are set in and around New York City and Long Island where I live, so there’s no travel involved with that research.  I did go to Moscow and Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, to research The Charm School during the Soviet era in 1986.  These were really creepy places and I had no desire to return.  But after the Wall came down, I was curious to see the changes in the former Soviet Union, but I kept putting off the trip.  Then in 2005 I booked a Baltic cruise that took me and my wife to St. Petersburg.  The city had not changed much and it’s still physically beautiful, though still run down, but the people looked and acted better, which was good to see.
My first trip to Vietnam was in 1967-68 with all expenses paid by the United States Army.  I saw all I wanted to see in that year, and I thought I’d never return. But in 1997, I did return with two friends who were also combat veterans.  The changes were phenomenal and a bit disorienting after 29 years.  I hadn’t intended to write a book about this revisit, but I’d read William Manchester’s Goodbye, Darkness, a non-fiction book about returning to the South Pacific where he’d seen combat in World War II.  I felt as he did – that the return to a bad time and place was cathartic, and that to complete the catharsis I needed to write about it, which I did in Up Country.
Most of the other locales that I’ve used in my novels were pleasant places and I have returned to some of them for pleasure.  I’m thinking of setting my next novel in Tahiti or Bermuda and spending a lot of time researching.

Do you have a favorite of your novels and why?
All of my novels are my favorite, and the new one is always my new favorite.  But to answer the question honestly, The Gold Coast remains my favorite and it seems to be everyone’s favorite.  Why?  I don’t know.  I enjoyed writing it and I’ve actually re-read it two or three times.  In some ways, it’s timeless and each reading reveals something that even I, as the author, find surprising and insightful.
My most personal novels are the Vietnam novels, Word of Honor and Up Country, but they were difficult to write in regard to having to dredge up unpleasant memories.  People who served in Vietnam as well as those who knew or loved people who served tell me these stories are hard to read, but harder to put down.

As a reader, do you enjoy fiction or non-fiction when you’re reading for pleasure?
I am a non-fiction reader for the same reason that a bus driver wouldn’t take a bus trip cross-country.  To the extent that I read fiction, I tend to be overly-critical, and I can spot when the author is either in trouble or faking it.  Having said that, I do read and love the classics.  My rule is, If the author is dead and famous, I’ll read him or her.
I find that non-fiction is helpful to me as a novelist in terms of structure and focus.  Also, non-fictions contains a wealth of facts, trivia, and other tidbits that I find myself working into my novels.  Good fiction needs to be fact-based, not totally made up, and novelists who read other novels for facts, inspiration, or stylistic tips are not spending their time wisely.
Having said all that, there’s no pleasure like the pleasure of reading a wonderful novel.

Mr. DeMille, thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions. I’m sure that the B&N fans would love to meet you in person.
Do you have any Barnes & Noble events or signings planned for this release?
Thanks, Debbie, for a great interview and for making me think about being a novelist.
I’ll be appearing at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square, NYC, on Friday, October 19 at 7 p.m.  With me will be Scott Brick, the audio narrator for all my John Corey books and many of my other books.
I’ll also be at the Barnes & Noble in Carle Place, Long Island, NY on Thursday, October 25 at 7 p.m.  This is my local bookstore and we expect a good crowd.
In addition to these talks and signings, I’ll be dropping in at a number of Barnes & Nobles in the New York area to sign copies of The Panther so readers can find signed copies on the shelves.

My Review of The Panther

 The Panther

Nelson DeMille
Grand Central Publishing
640 pages
John Corey NYPD retired and Kate Mayfield FBI have more in common that marriage, they work together for the multi-departmental, Federal Anti-Terrorist Task Force. They’ve been through a lot together and fighting terrorists is nothing new. A past threat has risen, an American born jihadist and al-Qaeda top guy known as The Panther. He’s the suspected mastermind of the USS Cole bombing plus any number of atrocities against innocent victims and men-at-arms in the name of radical Islam. Kate and John are offered an assignment to go to Yemen and apprehend this monster and being on the al-Qaeda kill list, because of their killing the terrorist known as The Lion, makes them great bait to use to lure The Panther into a trap. In Yemen they are paired with associates from various lettered agencies to help get the job done. There are many dangers in the Yemeni desert, John and Kate hope to be able to count on their partners in arms and that the only homegrown threat comes from The Panther and not from the one lettered agency that they have a troubled past with, the CIA.

Nelson DeMille delivers an explosive new novel staring our old friends John Corey and Kate Mayfield with an added bonus of Paul Brenner from “Up Country” &” The General’s Daughter” novels. This is one of his best Corey and Mayfield novels. His fast paced, action filled story takes place in the near past, the country is still reeling from 9/11, the citizens are still flying flags and the terrorists are just getting infamous. My heart rate tripled as he took me deep into enemy territory and I, like our heroes wondered whom I could trust and who to doubt. It’s not just his story-line that get’s A pluses, his characters are unforgettable both the good and the bad. As far as his stars go, Kate is the true professional and a real hero of mine and as for John, well in a recent interview I did with Mr. DeMille he said “The male readers enjoyed John Corey’s sarcasm, cynicism, and offbeat humor, and the female readers loved John Corey for reasons that I can only guess at.” Well I’ll answer that question personally, John Corey is this married woman’s worst nightmare and fondest desire in one all male package, he’s my husband every time he’s embarrassed me in public but who’s honesty, and loyalty are my dream come true. And Kate is his true match in every way, quip for quip and glib for glib but all done in a love that comes across to me as very authentic.
If you’re looking for a read after heart surgery, you may want to wait until you’re stronger. But if it’s non-stop, pulse-pounding from page one to the end action you’re looking for, if you need a hero to look up to, or an evil doer that’s par-none and worth every one of it’s 640 pages. Then it’s “The Panther” that you want to make your next Must Read.
Mr. DeMille thank you for this incredible journey, I’ll have my bags packed and ready to go in time for the next one.
Buy the book here visit the author's website here

The Book Trailer

Monday, October 15, 2012

November we're going to the Dogs at B&N's General Fiction forum

November at your General Fiction forum we’re going to the dogs with a heartwarming, story of (wo)man’s best friend.
Our author Susan Wilson will be with us the entire month to chat, to answer questions, to let us pick her brain just a little. If you’re a frequent visitor to the forum you’ll remember that “The Dog Who Danced” was featured when it released in March, 2012. I fell in love with the story and especially with Mack, as “The Dog Who Danced”. So I’m pleased to be able to share this with all of you. Whether you have a dog, or a cat, or you’re just an animal lover you will love this emotional, sentimental and poignant story of the love that one special dog can bring to the lives around him.
The reading schedule, the author interview and more about the read will be upcoming, so please be sure and check out General Fiction often so you don’t miss a thing.

Here’s what I thought of “The Dog Who Danced”.
I hope to see you all in November!

An unexpected call has Justine Meade grateful for a shotgun seat on a semi heading towards a home she hasn’t seen since she left at seventeen because it means that her dog Mack is with her. Mack has been her salvation and made her look at life in a better way than the defeatist, betrayed way she used to when all she could think of was the loss of her childhood then later the loss of her son. The dog who learned to dance with her has been much more than a mere pet which is why she’s overwrought as she finds herself abandoned and dog-less by the trucker she hitched a ride with. 
Ed and Alice Parmalee have been imitating life for the seven years since the death of their only child, a child that was prayed for then delayed until neither of them thought it was ever going to happen and then took away at fifteen, it was a tragedy that shook them to the core and that has been an invisible barrier between them ever since until the day a stray dog comes into their lives and puts color and connection back into their world.
In the midst of a family crisis Justine frantically tries to find Mack with the help of a few friends and many strangers while the Parmalees are reconnecting with the help of one small furry miracle and who know nothing about the dog’s distraught owner.

There are many dog stories out there, those who heal, those who protect, those who comfort, what makes this story different is the poignant way that Susan Wilson brings it to life with her words. Her characters are all three dimensional, so realistic that I could smell the earth at Stacy’s grave and could feel the wind in my face as she takes Justine down the highway on the back of a Harley. The dialogue is a mesmerizing string of monologues that took me into the hearts and souls of the narrator, that made me a fly on the walls of their worlds and that gave me insights that I wish they would convey to each other. And then there was Mack, who Susan gave a voice to as well and who’s expertise in translating dog really shines through, it was amusing, it was touching and it was beautifully penned. This is the story of rejuvenation of forgiving of unconditional love. It’s the story of one woman’s best friend and the lengths she’ll go to get him back and it’s the unconditional love that one dog has for his human(s).
This is my first foray into the writing brilliance of Susan Wilson but I guarantee it will not be my last.
Thank you Ms. Wilson for one of the most heartwarming and inspiring stories I’ve read for a while.
Buy the book here

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

New Release feature 10-9 + Q&A w/author Mary Sharratt

Q&A w/Mary Sharratt
Those of you who are long time members will remember Mary from 2010, when we featured her novel “Daughter’s of the Witching Hill”. She has a brand new novel out today titled “Illuminations”. And I’m pleased to announce that “Illuminations” will be our featured read in August 2013.

Debbie - Mary Welcome back to the forum.
Will you tell us a little about the new novel “Illuminations”?
Mary - Illuminations reveals the dramatic story of Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) who was offered to the Church at the age of eight, walled up in an anchorage, and yet who triumphed against impossible odds to become the greatest voice of her age—a Benedictine abbess, composer, polymath, and powerfrau. Guided by her revelations of the divine, she was truly a visionary in every sense of the word. Her courage and strength of character continue to inspire people of many diverse faith backgrounds. 
873 years after her death, she was finally canonized in May, 2012. On October 7, 2012, she will be elevated to Doctor of the Church, a rare and solemn title reserved for theologians who have made a significant impact. Presently there are only thirty-three Doctors of the Church, and only three are women (Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Ávila, and Thérèse of Lisieux).

During her own life time, Hildegard was the subject of much controversy. She and her nuns were the subject of an interdict, or collective excommunication, which was lifted only shortly before her death. She nearly died an outcast, a plight hauntingly similar to that of the modern day sisters and nuns of the Leadership Council of Women Religious.

What is it that draws you to write historical fiction?
When I first started writing, I wanted to avoid the painfully autobiographical first novel, so I set my fiction in the distant past. As Margaret Atwood has said, fiction writing is an escape for the writer as well as the reader! And I also wanted my fiction to serve a higher purpose—to write women back into history. My aim is to take women from the margins of history and set them center stage.

Are you still living in Pendle, England?
Yes, I still live in the beautiful Pendle region.

Can you tell us a little about life in a small English village?
I actually live in a post-industrial town of around 10,000 people. In its hey day, it had over 20 working cotton mills. This is very typical of East Lancashire—gritty, post industrial towns surrounded by beautiful countryside. My horse actually lives in a more idyllic and village like setting than I do!
Still I live on the edge of town, overlooking the fields and Pendle Hill. On an average day I see more horses, sheep, and cows than people.

Is it permanent?
Time will tell!

Do you write full time?
For the moment, I do. I also teach creative writing.

Those who aren’t FaceBook friends probably don’t know about Boo.
Will you tell us about Boo?
Miss Boo, aka Boushka, aka Queen Boudicca, is a Welsh mare, very beautiful, very loving, and very opinionated about any number of subjects including plastic bags, gentleman horses, and the joys of impersonating the Welsh Dragon while galloping up the woods. She acquired me over four years ago and is thus far pleased with me. We’ve had a lot of fun together. Two years ago we did the Mary Towneley Loop, a long distance bridleway ride of 50 miles which we completed in three days. The bridleways took us over lots of old pack horse trails in the West Pennines. I go to the stable yard every day to take care of her. It’s very Downtown Abbey. The horses are the lords and ladies while we humans are their faithful, hardworking servants.  

Can you tell us what’s next for you?
I’m working on a new novel, The Dark Lady’s Masque, which explores the life of Aemilia Bassano Lanier (1569–1645) who was reportedly the Dark Lady of Shakespeare’s sonnets. The highly cultured daughter of an Italian court musician, she was also an accomplished poet and the first English woman to publish a collection of poetry under her own name.

Let’s get a bit personal.
If you could vacation anywhere, where would it be?
This winter I’m traveling to Sri Lanka which has long intrigued me. I love exploring cultural settings which are very different from our Western world.

Mary, thank you for chatting with us.
And I’m so excited that you’ll be touring the US for the novel, and that there is a Barnes & Noble location included.
For a full tour schedule click here.
Congratulations and good luck on your novel.

My Review of "Illuminations"
Mary Sharratt
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
288 pages

From the time she was a very small girl Hildegard saw visions and those visions sealed her fate when at the age of eight her mother tithed her to the church. She along with Jutta von Sponheim a very devout yet troubled young woman who wished to be an anchorite were taken to the Monastery at Disibondenberg where they were entombed in two small rooms adjacent to the Monastery. There they were to spend the rest of their lives in prayer, contemplation and worship. Hildegard never stopped having visions and never stopped thirsting for the knowledge that was granted to her during her years of imprisonment. Eventually she would be freed from her confinement and with the help of some influential and powerful allies, her visions and God, would go on to become a power in her own right.
If there’s one thing I can count on from Mary Sharratt it’s to give me a powerful female protagonist whether she’s fictional or factual. In this case the very factual and just canonized in May of this year, St. Hildegard of Bingen is a commanding, dominant figure in a history that tends to forget the contributions made by women. And thanks to Mary’s imaginative and authentic way of telling a story this brilliant, holy, humble and sometimes proud woman gets her life chronicled in a way that not only entertained but educated me as I soaked up the fact and the fiction in equal measure. She brought this historical figure to life for me and although she uses terms and some dialogue of the time it was never hard for me to get the jest and I loved googling the terms I didn’t know and learning even more in the bargain. It’s especially timely to have this novel out now when Hildegard just became a saint and just became an official Doctor of the Church. So come journey through time with Hildegard as she grows from terrified child, to sibyl, to Nun, to composer, to physician, to abbess, learn the hardships and the joys of her life and times, broaden your own horizons and enjoy it while you do.
Mary to you I say thank you for this wonderful adventure and I can’t wait for my next journey through your eyes, your words and your wisdom.
Buy the book here  visit the author's website here

Mary with Boushka

Friday, October 5, 2012

Interview with Award Winning Author and October guest Hank Phillipi Ryan- The Other Woman

Interview with Hank Phillipi Ryan
The Other Woman
Debbie - Hank, first welcome back to the General Fiction forum at B&N.com. It’s been a lonely year without your smiling face and witty remarks and I know I speak for all of the visitors here when I say, it’s about time you came back. J

As many of you know Hank is no stranger to the forum. Last year we read and discussed her very first Novel “Prime Time”, where her protagonist was a TV reporter of a certain age Charlotte McNally. This month we’ll be talking about another debut novel for Hank as she introduces us to Jane Ryland and begins thus another series with yet another reporter.

How did the Jane story begin?
HANK: It began in the dentist's office. (How about that?) Yup. I went in for a root canal, and read in a waiting room magazine about the governor of South Carolina who'd told his wife and staff he was hiking the Appalachian trail--when he was really off with his Argentinean mistress. Why would someone choose to be the other woman, I wondered? It's such a terrible idea on every level. And then I thought--maybe there's a twist, maybe there's a secret, maybe there's a big juicy story behind it. Maybe it's a story I could tell! At the end of the article, the governor's wife was quoted. She said: "You can choose your sin, but you cannot choose your consequences."
At that moment --I get goose bumps when I tell you--I thought: "my book!" And that became THE OTHER WOMAN--a thriller about love, loss, and the lust for power. A book about consequences.
But I soon realized it couldn’t be a Charlie story—it was too big and too complex, and it needed multiple points of view. But I knew a reporter should be one of them. She couldn’t just be—not-Charlie, you know? So I had to create a whole new person…and she grew and developed as the story progressed. She protected a source. She had a big story. Her station was sued. It lost. She got fired. It was unfair. She needed to get back her good name and her reputation. It all just—blossomed.  It was very exciting. 

Is there a planned number of novels for Jane or is she a work in progress?
HANK:   I can think of a million stories for Jane—she’s smart and ambitious, she’s honorable and funny and devoted to her job as a reporter-even if it’s at a newspaper and not on TV anymore. What’s her next blockbuster? Would she consider going back to broadcast news? (What do you think she should do?) And what will happen to Jake? And Alex?   And Tuck? 
What’s coming next and when can we expect it?
HANK: Well, THE WRONG GIRL  comes out this time next year! In it, Jake’s working to solve a tragic murder case—who killed a foster mother? And what happened to the children she was caring for? Meanwhile, Jane begins to suspect a respected adoption agency I reuniting birth parents with the wrong children. Scary, huh? But like all my stories, it could happen.

I was lucky enough to meet Hank in person last year at a library event while she was in town for Bouchercon. It was one of the great highlights of my life, which brings up another subject.
Hank you have a very active life how do you keep up with it all.?
(be sure and check out Hank’s events page, http://www.hankphillippiryan.com/events.php
She may be coming to a venue near you)
HANK: Yes, it’s crazy, huh? But I love meeting readers, and talking about books and stories and television and mysteries and the mystery of television. And I met Fricka in AZ and Elaine in Houston, how cool was that? So it’s a constant joy. Even though my husband sometimes thinks it’s out of control. J
Keeping up? Is sometimes like those people on Ed Sullivan who spun plates on sticks. Remember? Never a dull moment. I work at Channel 7 during the day—my husband and I leave home at 8:30 am or so and drive into Boston. I read the newspaper out loud to him, so its not as if I’m being chauffeured. (Sometimes I make stuff up to see if he’ll notice.)
We work a regular day (he’s a lawyer) and then get home at 6:30 or so. When I’m in writing mode, I write from maybe 7 until 10, then we have dinner! (Yup, I know.)
I work on weekend and on vacation days. Happily, my husband is very enthusiastic and supportive. And doesn’t mind carry-out grilled salmon.
Bottom line, I try to be organized. I don’t multi-task if I can help it—I think doing one thing at a time is most productive. And I make a LOT of lists. It’s so gratifying to cross things off! 
Are you a reader, who are your favorite authors?
Oh, yes, of course. My reading life has been full and rich since I was a kid. I started with Nancy Drew, of course, and Trixie Belden and Vicki Barr and Cherry Ames. (Anyone remember?)  I loved the Edward Eager books, and Jane Langton and Madeleine L’Engle.
And then—life changingly—all the Sherlock Holmes stories. I still have my big orange compilation of all the short stories, its all battered and rumpled and wonderful. I went on to all the  British women authors—Ngaio Marsh, and Josephine Tey and Marjorie Allingham and Dorothy Sayers…and Agatha Christie, of course.  (Which made it especially wonderful when I won two Agatha Awards!)
I also fell in love with thrillers—Failsafe and Seven Days in May and On the Beach. Advise and Consent. Then, years later, Winds of War. Remember?
It’s not just mystery. Right now I’m adoring Edith Wharton, and Tom Wolfe and Thomas Wolfe, and Mark Helprin. Stephen King’s The Stand. I focused on Shakespeare in college, (anyone notice that each of the TIME books has a specific Shakespearean play as a theme?) and though it feels like I’ve forgotten so much, still love to read the plays. 
But in contemporary mystery? My recent faves are Bill Landay’s DEFENDING JACOB (ask me about that) and Mo Hayder’s GONE and Linwood Barclay’s TRUST YOUR EYES. Oh, there are a LOT more! And I will think of them and tell you.

Your shelves at home must be getting pretty crowded with all the Emmy’s, Edward R Murrow’s having to compete with the Agatha’s, Rita’s, Top Picks and bestseller lists.
Is there one award in particular that means more than the others in either of your very successful careers?
HANK: Oh, what a nice question, but how could I choose?  The Agatha, certainly, I still get teary when I look at it.( As for my dear Emmys, I’ll send you a photo, if you like, it’s pretty funny and  I’m so proud of them! I could happily tell you the story of each and every one , individually, with much delight! But I will spare you…)
I must say when I got the email that THE OTHER WOMAN hit the Boston Globe bestseller list at number 2, (whoa!)  I was by myself, on the quiet car of the Acela train. You know how that works—in the quiet car, you have to be SILENT. NO talking, so noice, no cell phone calls. Which is usually lovely and tranquil! So here I get his fabulous news..and I can’t even make a squeak or call my husband! It was still fun to celebrate, just very very silently.
When it stayed on the list another week, I was just getting off an airplane! So again, no one to celebrate with.
And when the new issue of Mystery Scene Magazine came out—did you see it, with me on the cover? Wow.  I was in Phoenix at a bookstore, and the proprietor brought it to me to sign. I was so surprised—I had no idea that was going to happen. Poor bookseller—I was so thrilled, I gave him a huge hug. A complete stranger!

Now for something a bit personal.
Is there someone you haven’t met that you would like to?
HANK: Whoa. Ah, terrific question. Meet? That’s hard, because it’s easier to choose someone I’d like to SEE. You know? And then not have to worry about having something cool to say.
I’ve interviewed Prince Charles. Caroline Kennedy was my intern. I’m know Lee Child and Lisa Scottoline and Lisa Gardner and Julia Spencer-Fleming and Sue Grafton. Sue Grafton! Who I have to admit, bowled me over when me met.
So I’d love to see…Michelle Obama? Stephen King? Bruce Springsteen, up close? Tom Wolfe.  JK Rowling.  Yikes. I’ll have to think about this!
What about you all? Who are your choices? I’d love to hear…

Thank you for taking the time to give as an up close and personal look Hank, I can’t wait for the discussion to begin.
HANK: Thanks! See you here soon. and I will send photos!

Be sure and check out Hank’s website http://www.hankphillippiryan.com

If you haven't seen the book trailer, here it is

buy the book here