Readers' Favorite

September 15, 2012

From the TBR Pile: The Mango Orchard

The extraordinary story of parallel journeys, 100 years apart, into the heart of Latin America, for fans of Sandra Cisneros's Caramelo, Tim Butcher's Blood River, and Bruce Chatwin
As a child, Robin Bayley was enchanted by his grandmother's stories of Mexican adventures—of bandits, wild jungle journeys, hidden bags of silver, and a narrow escape from the bloody Mexican Revolution. But Robin sensed there was more to these stories than anyone knew, and so he set out to follow in the footsteps of his great-grandfather. Undaunted by the passage of time and a paucity of information, Robin seeks out the places where his great-grandfather Arthur "Arturo" Greenhalgh traveled and lived, determined to uncover his legacy. Along the road Robin encounters witches, drug dealers, a gun-toting Tasmanian Devil, and an ex-Nazi diamond trader. He is threatened with deportation, offered the protection of Colombian guerrilla fighters, and comforted by the blessings of los santos. He falls in love with a beautiful Guatemalan girl with mystical powers and almost gives up his quest, until a sense of destiny drives him on to western Mexico and the discovery of much, much more than he had bargained for. From
About the Author:

Robin Bayley had a successful career in children’s television, when one morning he decided to leave his job and sell his apartment to travel and follow his muse.  

Praise for The Mango Orchard 

"Bayley’s free flowing prose is so easy to read and you are quickly drawn up into his story and adventures." ~ Book Thingo 

"I read it in one sitting and after I finished I just sat there, letting the extraordinary story wash over me." ~ Allison,

"A beautiful telling of a fantastic story." ~ Rachel Cotterill,

Connect with the Author:


Find The Mango Orchard:  



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What a Ride: All the Pretty Girls

All the Pretty Girls by J. T. Ellison
audio book, Narrator: Joyce Bean
Published: April 2010 by Brilliance Audio
ISBN13: 9781441838407
Listened: September 2012
Source: Digital Library
Find it at Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon

What a thrill ride this book was. I was not familiar with this series. I found it when searching the digital library for the Percy Jackson series. All the Pretty Girls is the first book in the Taylor Jackson series.

I didn't check it out right away because I was afraid it would be too close to horror for my liking. And it did start off pretty gruesome - a dead body with severed hands.

It was a little hard to follow on audio as the cast is kind of large and there isn't one crime, but two crimes being investigated. There is the main murder mystery - the Southern Strangler. Then there is serial rapist - the Rain Man. The secondary crime seemed a little odd. I had to check to make sure this was the first book in the series. In some ways, it was as if we should already know the players and we are dropped more into the middle of the investigation. I'm not sure what the point of having this second story except to divide the reader's attention.

The primary murder mystery had a number of twist and turns. At about 60 percent, I was sure I knew who the Southern Strangler was. But then the cops thought so too and the doubt began to creep in. There was a curve ball thrown and I'm not sure if missed something or if it really was out of left field. The ending was shocking.

I definitely want to check out more of this series. I like Taylor and Baldwin (who I hope is in the rest of the books). Unfortunately it doesn't look like the digital library has any of the others and a quick search of my library's online catalog showed none there either.

Looking for an excellent crime thriller? Pick up a copy of All the Pretty Girls.

September 14, 2012

FlashFiveFriday: Giving

I LOVE Shel Silverstein's poetry. During a poetry unit in high school we had to make a collection of poetry based on a theme. I chose humor so I could use as many of Silversein's poems as was allowed. I also discovered Odgen Nash, while his poems are hilarious I wouldn't want to read them aloud (he's a fan of made up words).

Since today's theme is Giving, I was reminded of one of Silverstein's more serious poems - The Giving Tree. It is quite the touching story; one that everyone should read (and re-read). Last year a video that is thought to possibly be the original animated film of The Giving Tree made it's way through the internet. So if you missed out on this story, now is your chance to hear it.

#FlashFiveFriday is a weekly flash fiction / flash blogging prompt.
The rules are very simple if you’d like to take part:
1) Write for no longer than five minutes
2) No upper or lower word limits
3) You must write something new
4) You can prepare your post ahead of time but the 5 minute limit still applies
5) If you add your blog post to the weekly linky you must visit five other blogs that week too to show your support

Visit The Indie Exchange for links to other great posts.
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Friday Fun with Keira Michelle Telford

In the spirit of Fun Friday, this is a guinea pig:

Sorry. That was a completely irrelevant distraction.
This post has nothing whatsoever to do with guinea pigs.

I know. It’s shocking. If you’ve been reading the other guest posts I’ve been leaving all over the interwebs, you’d be forgiven for thinking that I’m incapable of talking about anything else.

Fine. Be like that, then.
I’m actually here to talk about rutabagas.

Now that’s just plain rude.
But you’ve made your point: rutabagas are boring.
Guinea pigs it is, then.

Believe it or not, the inspiration for this:

Came from this:

See the resemblance? No? Well, you don’t have to live with her. Seriously though, she does have a lot in common with the monsters—the Chimera—in my books.

I modelled all Chimeran behavior on the behavior of guinea pigs.


From the way the Chimera sway their bums from side-to-side when they’re trying to intimidate someone, to the way they huff air through their nostrils right before they attack, it all goes on in my dining room. The shrilling for food (‘wheeking’ in guinea pig language) is something I hear every day, every time a bag rustles. The purring and gurgling is something I hear every time one of my girls decides to get a bit bossy with her cagemates. And the list goes on.

So, how’s that for something fun and interesting to brighten up your Friday?

Ugh. I give up.

About the author:

Michelle is a British ex-pat, now living in British Columbia, Canada. She is the author of a 10-book series of post-apocalyptic, dystopian science fiction books, all centering on the lead character of Ella 'Silver' Cross. The first book (a novella) in this series, Acheron, was released Nov 2011. The next book, A New Age dawns (the fourth book in the series), is due to be released later this September.

JOIN THE FIGHT! Connect with the author:


2342 CE Dishonorably discharged from the Hunter Division and banished for crimes she did not commit, Silver struggles to come to terms with her new prison-like surroundings: a segregated area of the city called the Fringe District, populated by murderers, thieves and rapists. Starving, and desperate for money, she reluctantly accepts the Police Division's invitation to enroll in a covert Bounty Hunter program: an initiative devised to infiltrate the criminal underworld of the Fringers, and to force the very worst warrant dodging law-breakers to meet their fate—death. Unfortunately, Silver doesn't realize that the Police Division is about to up the ante. They need more than little snippets of information and arrests—they need someone to pull the trigger. They need an executioner. From

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September 13, 2012

Now Playing: Jewel of Ramstone by J. M. Powers

Find Jewel of Ramstone by J. M. Powers at Goodreads and Amazon.

Watch more trailers here.

Tips on Thursday: Reddit

Reddit Sticker
Reddit Sticker (Photo credit: cambodia4kidsorg)
In last week's tips post, I shared an experiment I did with Reddit. In addition to huge amounts to comments, Reddit can also drive a lot of traffic to your site (for me, a post gets more traffic from Reddit than it does from StumbleUpon). However, Reddit is a bit tricky and my first go around with the site I was banned. In an effort to help you not get banned and also increase views to your blog I'm offering a few tips.

Tip #1 Understand what Reddit is

Reddit is a social news site. Users submit links and text posts. Users of Reddit are looking for newsworthy items and discussion.

Tip #2 Build Karma

There is no user profile on Reddit. Instead, a users credibility is built through link and comment karma. Users are able to up and down vote the content you submit. I submit content from big sites like Huffington Post, Galley Cat, Book Riot, Publisher's Weekly - these stories almost always do well. I will also occasionally submit content from blogs I follow - these do moderately well.

I recommend having 50 - 100 link karma points before submitting any of your own content.

Build up comment karma by leaving useful comments on your content submissions as well as other submissions. Remember discussion is an important component of Reddit.

Tip #3 Read the Rule of Each Subreddit

Subreddits are categories to which you submit content. Each subreddit is its own community with its own moderators and its own sets of rules. Some subreddits do not allow any self promotion (no links to your content). Sometimes the moderators are nice and will just remove your content if you violate their rules, others will report you and you will be banned. Reddit moderators are strict and patrol their communities more so than any other site I've been a part of, so be careful.

I typically stick to Books and Selfpublish (selfpublish is a small group, but really nice). Writing and Blogging are other subreddits to check out.

Even if a subreddit allows self-promotion, many times they require special tags. Always read the subreddits rules before submitting

Tip #4 Submit Self (text) Posts

One way to get around self-promotion bans, is to do what I did in my experiment. Do a self or text post. Summarize the content you had on your blog into a post on Reddit. It will generate discussion and during the discussion mention that you said more on the blog post and perhaps leave a link for those interested.

Self posts also demonstrate you are interested in the Reddit community and not just there to drive traffic to your site.

Tip #5 Spend time on Reddit

Like any other social media network, you need to spend some time there. I find Reddit to be a fun place to have discussions and one of the easier (once you understand the rules) tools to use. There are always trolls, but for the most part people are friendly and helpful. I make checking into Reddit part of my daily social media checks. See what's new, upvote a few submissions and comments. If a big discussion gets going (like for my Mockingjay post) then I will set aside a larger chunk of time.

If you want to friend me on Reddit here is my page:

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September 12, 2012

Excerpt: The Ups and Downs of Being Dead

At first, he’d done what any intelligent man would do when the doctor folded his hands on his desk and quietly said, ‘You have cancer.’ Robert got a second opinion.

That noted oncologist laid it out in a way Robert could not deny. Like an advertising campaign, the doctor presented images from an MRI and pointed out the large mass in Robert’s liver. Then he produced colorful brochures on the finest cancer treatment centers, pamphlets touting the latest pharmaceuticals, and of course, the bar graphs and pie charts that estimated how long Robert had to live.

For the first time in almost thirty years, Robert took the rest of the day off. He struggled to get through the telephone conversation with his secretary canceling appointments, rearranging meetings. By the time he ended the call, Robert felt so weak he’d braced his arm on the roof of his car and rested his forehead on the sleeve of his hand-tailored suit. Struggling for breath, he was unable to even stop the drool that oozed out of his gaping mouth and dribbled down the window of his Mercedes. 

Stale exhaust fumes in the parking garage choked Robert, the low clearance closed in on him. He was practically running when he came out onto the open top level. The heat of the day washed over Robert, and his body sagged. He lurched to the edge of the roof, and looked out over Atlanta, the classic query drumming in his head. ‘Why me?’

When Amanda heard he was dying, she rushed home from her shopping trip in New York. Robert was in his office, on the phone, when she burst in, her cheeks flushed, her eyes aglow. If he had to describe her expression in one word, it would have been exuberant.

Almost overnight, she transformed into a loving, sacrificing wife who put everything on hold for him. She drove him to his chemo appointments. She waited patiently outside the bathroom while he puked his guts out, then helped him back to bed, tucking brand-new sheets under his chin. Death sheets, he’d called them. He was certain she’d agonized over just the right shade and design to go with cancer.

She volunteered for the American Cancer Society, masquerading as a pillar of strength in front of other spouses of dying partners. She even participated in one of those walks – Amanda, who probably hadn’t worn a pair of sneakers since she was ten. And she never went anywhere without that goofy pink ribbon pinned to her clothing.

Robert was sure the only reason she got so involved with the cancer organization was to get first-hand information on how soon he could be expected to croak. She couldn’t wait to get her hands on his millions.

Wouldn’t she be surprised?


The Ups and Downs of Being Dead - a 57 year-old man chooses cryonics over death.

Fifty-seven year old Robert Malone is the CEO of a successful clothing store chain and married to a former model. When his doctor tells him he is dying of cancer, he refuses to go quietly.  Instead of death, Robert choses cryonics. He knows it’s a long shot. His frozen body will be stored in liquid nitrogen for the next seventy-five years, and then he’ll wake up in the future. Maybe. If technology figures out a way to bring him back.

He’s willing to take that gamble.

What he doesn’t realize is that he won’t lie in some dreamless state all that time. His soul is very much awake, and free to move about, just like the others who were frozen before him.

He discovers that he can ride in the cockpit with the pilots, but he can’t turn the page of a magazine. He can sit in the oval office with the president, but he can’t prevent a child from dashing in front of a car. He doesn’t work, or eat, or sleep. These obstacles make it difficult to fall in love, and virtually impossible to reconcile with the living.

Over the next several decades, Robert Malone will have plenty of time to learn The Ups and Downs of Being Dead.
About the author:

After working for fifteen years as a cafeteria manager in an elementary school, Marsha Cornelius turned in her non-skid shoes for a bathrobe and slippers. She now works at home, writing novels, acting out scenes with her cats, and occasionally running a Swiffer across dusty surfaces.

Like thousands of others, she thought she could write romance, but soon discovered she was a dismal failure. She did increase her repertoire of adjectives such as throbbing, pulsing, thrumming, vibrating, hammering, pumping . . .

She resides in Atlanta with her husband. Her two grown sons occasionally visit for clean laundry and a hot cooked meal.

Connect with the author:



Find The Ups and Downs of Being Dead at Goodreads, IndieBound, and Amazon.


Marsha is offering two (2) signed print copies (US only) to two lucky winners.

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Elizabeth M. Lawrence: My Apple Tree (guest post)

It's Writer Wednesday and I'm pleased to introduce you to Elizabeth M. Lawrence. She is a romance author with Renaissance Romance Publishing and will have her story My Apple Tree published at the end of the month as part of the Harvest Treats collection. A lifelong writer and former paralegal, Elizabeth divides her free time between her
husband and two sons, her three cats, her collection of cozy murder mysteries, and her mildly severe
caffeine addiction. A native of Lawrence, Kansas, Elizabeth now works from her home in Cleveland, Ohio.

My Apple Tree

My Apple Tree will be published on September 25, 2012, as part of Renaissance Romance Publishing’s Harvest Treats collection, as well as individually as an e-book. I’m very excited about this release, since this will be my first work in print.

This story began years ago as a daydream I had while listening to an old Celtic song about the grief of losing the person you have sworn to love and protect for the rest of your life. It isn’t a particularly happy song, but the lyrics’ raw and unapologetic emotion paints a very vivid picture. As time wore on, the original tale of pain and hopelessness grew and changed into something more, but the story was not
really complete until this year.

My great-aunt Helen has lived in Joplin, Missouri, for as long as I can remember. Over the years, I have become very familiar with the city, its people, and its landmarks. When it was struck by a massive tornado on May 22, 2011, Joplin was changed forever. So many people lost so much, and I was heartbroken over the death and devastation that was left in the storm’s wake.

One year later, in May 2012, I traveled to Joplin with my mother to visit Helen and got to see the remaining damage first hand. It’s difficult to wrap your mind around it. You drive along the rolling hills under the shade of the trees, and then suddenly – wasteland. The change is so dramatic that you can almost believe you’ve been transported to another planet. By the time you begin to adjust to the new landscape, boom! The trees and houses and shops reappear as if by magic.

The good news is that people are rebuilding. Life in Joplin keeps moving forward, in spite of the horrible destruction and grief. When you’re there with the people who lived through it, you hear stories so heartbreaking that even the news reports didn’t broadcast them. It’s hard to imagine moving forward and continuing on when you contemplate the enormity of what these people faced. But there are signs of hope and new life and perseverance everywhere, and this is what struck me as I tried to come to terms with what I was seeing as I drove through this forever-altered landscape.

Not far away from the city is a large, out-of-the-way cemetery where a large number of my family are buried. While we were there, I took a photo that is now the cover of the ebook version of My Apple Tree. I decided to use this particular picture because, even though the story itself is about living with the aftermath of death and loss, it is also about learning to embrace life again. That is precisely what the Joplin community showed me this past spring, and it brought an entirely new dimension to my story. I hope that I managed to capture that sense of hope and renewed life well enough to share with readers who pick up the Harvest Treats collection.

Connect with Elizabeth M. Lawrence:

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September 11, 2012

For Poetry Lovers: The Aurorean Spring/Summer 2012

Click here for more book trailers.

Couldn't put it down: Sempre

Sempre Forever by J. M. Darhower
Published January 2012
ISBN13 9781465854889
Read September 2012
Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon

I'm exhausted and it's the fault of one author - J. M. Darhower. She has written a powerful, captivating tale of love, sacrifice and the gritty side of society. This story has kept me up most the night, not once, but twice. You see I read an early draft of it and couldn't stop reading it then and couldn't stop reading it in its final form

To give you a perspective of how big a deal that is. I have never pulled an all nighter for academic reasons (and I graduated 3rd in my class in high school) and I always got 9 - 10 hours of sleep all 4 years of college.

I loved the new prologue. I can't remember how the original draft started, but I thought this was a powerful beginning. I also appreciated the author's ability to adapt it for a different audience (the original draft was for a writing group that expected certain elements; these expectations are not held by the general reading public though).

I was a bit disappointed when a certain scene was not as detailed. While shocking, it was an emotional scene in its original form. I felt that it did not pack the same punch in the final version.

The story did not end in the same place the original manuscript did and I have seen some chatter on Twitter that there is a sequel on the way. There is a particular part of the original story I did not particularly enjoy and I'm hoping that it will be tweaked. Though I can not remember the catalsyst that sent the plot in that direction, the ending of Sempre Forever gives me hope that the plot may go in a slightly different direction. My fingers are crossed. I don't want more heartbreak for this couple.

For fans of Heather Huffman, I recommend picking up a copy of Sempre Forever.

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September 10, 2012

Celebrating Bloggers

It is Book Blogger Appreciation Week and I'm participating in the Celebrating Bloggers Hop sponsored by Terri Giuliano Long. Authors and bloggers will be raving about book blogs for the next 4 days. Check out Terri's blog for other participants.

I got involved with book blogging as sort of an experiement/learning excercise. I also had a great book I had read and wanted a wider platform to tell others about it.

I've read blogs and tried to start my own a few times, but they never stuck. I wasn't sure book blogging would either, but I fell in love with the community I met and decided to take the plunge.

Sometimes blogging can feel too much like work, but then I hear from a blogging friend on Twitter or Facebook and I get re-energized.

Without the people I've met (and the readers who continually visit my blog), I probably wouldn't have stuck with it and definitely would not be blogging 7 days a week. I want to thank each of you for YOU are the reason I love book blogging.

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Met My Goal


I met my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal this week. I had set it at 55 books, which is two more books than I read last year. It is kind of cool to see how many books I can read in a year.

My monthly article at The Indie Exchange posted this weekend. Read what books I want to re-read.

Remember, on September 16, several bloggers are hosting a Celebrating Womanhood day. There will be posts on all sorts of topics related to women. Learn more about the event and how to get involved here.

Have you checked out my new features? Watch trailers here and you can check out what's in my TBR pile here.


16-year-old Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival.

When her dad goes missing on a routine patrol, Grace refuses to believe he’s dead and fights the town authorities, tribal officials, and nature to find him.

One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from danger by Mo, a hot guy with an intoxicating accent and a secret. As her feelings between him and her ex-boyfriend get muddled, Grace travels deep into the wilderness to escape and find her father.

Along the way, Grace learns terrible secrets that sever relationships and lives. Soon she’s enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it’s going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to save everything she loves. From
Read my review. Find Untraceable at Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon.

Percy Jackson's seventh-grade year has been surprisingly quiet. Not a single monster has set foot on his New York prep-school campus. But when an innocent game of dodgeball among Percy and his classmates turns into a death match against an ugly gang of cannibal giants, things get . . . well, ugly. And the unexpected arrival of Percy's friend Annabeth brings more bad news: the magical borders that protect Camp Half-Blood have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and unless a cure is found, the only safe haven for demigods will be destroyed.In this fresh, funny, and hugely anticipated follow up to The Lightning Thief, Percy and his friends must journey into the Sea of Monsters to save their beloved camp. But first, Percy will discover a stunning new secret about his family -- one that makes him question whether being claimed as Poseidon's son is an honor or simply a cruel joke. From
Read my review. Find The Sea of Monsters at Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon

This is a story about sacrifice... death... love... freedom. This is a story about forever.

Haven Antonelli and Carmine DeMarco had vastly different childhoods. Haven, a second-generation slave, grew up isolated in the middle of the desert, her days full of hard work and terrifying abuse. Carmine, born into a wealthy Mafia family, lived a life of privilege, never having to answer for anything he did.

Both now seventeen, a twist of fate causes their worlds to collide, making them question everything they ever believed. Entangled in a web of secrets and lies, they learn that while different on the surface, they have more in common than anyone would think.

In a world full of chaos, where money and power rule, Haven and Carmine yearn to break free, but a string of events that started before either were born threatens to destroy them instead. Murder and betrayal are a way of life, and nothing comes without a price-- especially not freedom. How much will they have to sacrifice? Can they escape their pasts? And, most of all, what does it mean to be free?

Not everything is as it seems, and no one can possibly come out unscathed, but maybe, just maybe, it’ll be worth it in the end. From
Find Sempre at Goodreads, IndieBound, and Amazon.


Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy, the brash cop from Tana French’s bestselling Faithful Place, plays by the book and plays hard. That’s what’s made him the Murder squad’s top detective—and that’s what puts the biggest case of the year into his hands.

On one of the half-built, half-abandoned "luxury" developments that litter Ireland, Patrick Spain and his two young children are dead. His wife, Jenny, is in intensive care.

At first, Scorcher and his rookie partner, Richie, think it’s going to be an easy solve. But too many small things can’t be explained. The half dozen baby monitors, their cameras pointing at holes smashed in the Spains’ walls. The files erased from the Spains’ computer. The story Jenny told her sister about a shadowy intruder who was slipping past all the locks.

And Broken Harbor holds memories for Scorcher. Seeing the case on the news sends his sister Dina off the rails again, and she’s resurrecting something that Scorcher thought he had tightly under control: what happened to their family one summer at Broken Harbor, back when they were children. From

Find Broken Harbor at Goodreads, IndieBound, and Amazon.


When a local girl falls prey to a sadistic serial killer, Nashville homicide lieutenant Taylor Jackson and her lover, FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin, find themselves in a joint investigation pursuing a vicious murderer. The Southern Strangler is slaughtering his way through the Southeast, leaving a gruesome memento at each crime scene ? the prior victim's severed hand. Ambitious TV reporter Whitney Connolly is certain the Southern Strangler is her ticket out of Nashville; she's got a scoop that could break the case. She has no idea how close to this story she really is ? or what it will cost her. As the killer spirals out of control, everyone involved must face a horrible truth ? that the purest evil is born of private lies. From
Find All the Pretty Girls at Goodreads, IndieBound, and Amazon.

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September 9, 2012