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Hello, my name is Valorie. I have a Master's Degree in History and a license to teach-- I have been both university professor and public school teacher. Currently, I am a middle school social studies teacher. I love horror movies and spooky things. Every day is Halloween. I am also a passionate book blogger.

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Book Review: 23:27 by H.L. Roberts

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Guest Post: The Jewish Lady, The Black Man and the Road Trip by Carol Sue Gershman

First, I would like to apologize for not having this posted on the 18th as planned but my schedule was insane and I was simply unable to. But it is my immense pleasure to bring to you a blog post by Carol Sue Gershman, who is currently engaged in an online book tour for her novel The Jewish Lady, The Black Man and the Road Trip.

Guest Post 
Amongst girlfriends. I have been blessed with many good friends in my life. When I was in my thirties and forties I had five best girlfriends. I truly loved each of these ladies and they loved me. Each one thought that I was their best friend and to me they were all my best friends. I guess there was one that stood out more than the other and if they should read this, they would automatically say, "That was me." At other times in my life, such as my teenage years, I also had a group of wonderful girlfriends. These girlfriends were the ones I grew up with and I loved them all and they loved me. I am happy to say that two still remain my close friends but the others moved and we lost touch. Then there were the wonderful friends I had raising my kids; we shared our stories about bringing up babies and developed a social life around them. They knew my children and I knew theirs and the bond was strong. So where are all of these girlfriends now? I must admit that the majority of them have disappeared from my life and two, sadly, are deceased. Perhaps I am the cause of why they are no longer in my life. For example, one turned out to have a difficult life and manipulated me into being there for her during these times but excluding me from good times. It became an unpleasant friendship according to her terms. Another friend was the cheapest woman I ever met. She would not even treat herself to a glass of water and she had lots of money. It became discouraging as she sat in front of me with her mouth watering as I ordered dinner. In the beginning I would treat her, and then I realized I was only playing into her neurosis. She liked sitting with me but refused to order. The friendship broke up when she saw the man I was crazy about with another woman and told me. It devastated me at the time and found it not to be necessary for her to tell me. My best high school best friend disappeared as soon as we got married. When she came back it was thrilling, but no sooner did we connect, she would disappear again; and the same disappearance happened with my other best high school friend who I have not seen or heard from since high school. Now I have new friends and at 73 years old which is my age, I am lucky to connect with these terrific ladies. They have come to me in the last two years and each one is divine. One is my last boyfriend's prior lady, and the others I met at Mah Jongg. I stopped playing for thirty five years and now we are have come full circle. We have also connected on a different level and have become friends. We all have our individual lives but when we see each other we thoroughly enjoy one another and have fun. They are also wonderfully supportive of me as an author. So is this the way it is supposed to be? Is it me who has let them go or is it them that have let me go? Is it because we change over the years or is it because I have not been a good friend or accepting of their ways. I often thought how great it would be to bring all of my old friends together. Maybe we can all get in a circle and play what we used to play in grammar school. I don't like you because: But even told the truth, at this late date would we change or should I just be grateful for who I was and who they were at the time. Are relationships meant to last?
For more information about Carol Sue Gershman's blog tour here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Blog Tour & Guest Post: Stewards of the Flame (The Hidden Flame, #2) by Sylvia Engdahl

About Sylvia Engdahl

Sylvia Engdahl is best known as the author of highly-acclaimed Young Adult science fiction novels, one of which was a Newbery Honor book and a finalist for the 2002 Book Sense Book of the Year in the Rediscovery category. However, her trilogy Children of the Star, originally written for teens, was republished as adult SF, and she is now writing fiction only for adults. Engdahl is a strong advocate of space colonization and has maintained a widely-read space section of her website for many years. She lives in Eugene, Oregon, and currently works as a freelance editor of nonfiction anthologies. For more information about Sylvia Engdahl, visit her website here. If you would like to read up more about Stewards of the Flame, visit the book website here.

About Stewards of the Flame

When burned-out starship captain Jesse Sanders is seized by a dictatorial medical regime and detained on the colony planet Undine, he has no idea that he is about to be plunged into a bewildering new life that will involve ordeals and joys beyond anything he has ever imagined, as well as the love of a woman with powers that seem superhuman. Still less does he suspect that he must soon take responsibility for the lives of people he has come to care about and the preservation of their hopes for the future of humankind. This controversial novel winner of a bronze medal in the 2008 Independent Publisher (IPPY) book awards, deals with government-imposed health care, with end-of-life issues, and with the so-called paranormal powers of the human mind. Despite being set in the distant future on another world, it's not intended just for science fiction fans. Blogcritics said, "The story is compelling, and drew me in from the first few pages. . . . Stewards of the Flame is a thought-provoking novel that may make you question the authority and direction of modern Western medical practices. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading genre fiction with some substance to it."

Guest Post with Sylvia Engdahl

I've always had ideas about the future, and about humankind's relation to the universe, that I wanted very much to express. More often than not, my view of such issues contrasts with prevailing views. I'm inspired mainly by the wish to explore them, but I want to do it through the thoughts and feelings of characters who have to deal with them, rather than in the abstract. It's generally hard for me to think of events -- action -- through which the characters can confront them; I've come up with story ideas during only a few short periods of my life. But when I do get a plot idea, then I'm completely absorbed in the story until it is finished. I don't write, or even read, typical science fiction. My novels are not action/adventure stories, and they focus neither on strange environments nor on the details of hypothetical technologies. They're about characters portrayed like real people of today. Stewards of the Flame is set on a world colonized in the distant future by settlers from Earth. Its problems are more like today's problems, extended just a little beyond today's reality, than how the distant future will really be. But the story required a separate planet with a history of prior generations, and interstellar travel isn't going to occur for centuries considering that we're still dragging our feet on colonizing Mars, so I had no choice about its placement in time. In many ways the novel appeals more to readers of mainstream fiction than science fiction fans, but there is just no way to market a book about the future on another planet as mainstream; no matter what I say about it, it gets an SF genre label, making it hard for readers not looking for that genre to find. I hate the "genre" concept, but that's another topic. . . . I combined two issues I wanted to explore in fiction when writing Stewards of the Flame. In the first place, what might be the logical conclusion of today's trend toward government control of health care? My own feeling is that it could end in the takeover of the government (at least in a small colony) by medical authorities, depriving the citizens of their personal freedom. The people of the story live under what is essentially a dictatorship, but it wasn't imposed on the population by force -- they voted it in through misguided placement of health issues above all other values. The protagonists can't aim to overthrow it because it was established democratically, so they oppose it in another way, which involves the development of "paranormal" mind powers. I don't think of such powers as weird or supernatural. To me, they represent the future evolution of humankind. My view of the future is less pessimistic than the one common today, and I'm impatient with fiction that suggests we're not progressing. That, more than anything, impels me to create fiction of my own.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Book Review: The Kingdom of Matthias: A Story of Sex and Salvation in 19th Century America by Paul E. Johnson & Sean Wilentz

Title: The Kingdom of Matthias: A Story of Sex and Salvation in 19th Century America
Author: Paul E. Johnson Sean Wilentz
Genre: NonFiction - History
Finished: October 19, 2009

During The Second Great Awakening's religious revival of evangelicalism, Robert Matthews- the self-appointed prophet Matthias- was one of many to create and spread his own ultimately doomed religion, a patriarchal Kingdom of Truth in which Matthias sat at the head as the Father and redeemer. Matthias and his Kingdom were one of many religions developed and spread during the early 1800s, and many of Matthias' teachings were similar to those of other prophets and seers more successful in popularizing their messages. Yet Matthias and his group remained on the margins of society. Johnson and Wilentz want to explain not only the religion itself, but the reasons for its failure while other similar ones succeeded. The authors acknowledge that their main three sources are all biased for various reasons and were considered with this in mind. Accordingly, the sources, two books written about Matthias and the Kingdom and one pamphlet by Matthias' wife about his years before the Kingdom, must be weighted against one enough to derive something as close to the truth about the events. Other primary sources used are newspaper reports, personal narratives/memory, church records, indictment papers from Matthias' trial, and lectures. A lot of the background and contextual details are taken from various books, some of which Johnson and Wilentz wrote, and journal articles.

The rich and narrative style of the story helps it flow in a way that is interesting but informative. The two were able to create a story that read easy, that is fun to read and very enjoyable. The book is a snapshot of one religious group during the early 1800s that, though being the stuff of pure entertainment, has been all but forgotten. While the book is very isolated in its focus, it expands upon the world at the time by placing Matthias and his Kingdom in the context of their time period. Not only does the book show how the world around Matthias shaped his Kingdom, but how the Kingdom was part of the larger evolving world that it existed within. Though there were many other religions around this time in development, the bizarreness of the story of Matthias illuminates best the failures of religious revival as the others exemplify success, which allows for a more complete idea of the varied nature of 19th century American religion and society. However, the heavy use of sources that are admittedly very shaky and biased places a lot of the events into question. While no doubt everything written is based on fact and reality, and though the authors state that they have derived truth from contradicting and biased evidence to the best of their ability, there remains a matter of what is fact and exaggeration. The authors can never know what truth really is, they can only guess at it. Additionally, the book went off on tangents about people and rivalries that had no significance to the story. For example, the explanations of Matthias' brothers, and the story of the Stone and Folgers argument. They were fun to read, but ultimately had nothing to do with the story of Matthias and The Kingdom.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Guest Post: Roxanne Rhoads (Eternal Desire)

About Roxanne Rhoads

Story strumpet, tome loving tart, eccentric night owl...these are all words that can describe freelance writer and erotic romance author Roxanne Rhoads. When not fulfilling one the many roles being a wife and mother of three require, Roxanne's world revolves around words...reading them, writing them, editing them, and talking about them. In addition to writing her own stories she loves to read and review what others write. She operates a book review site, Fang-tastic Books, dedicated to her favorite type of book- anything paranormal. Her favorite genres are paranormal romance and urban fantasy but she'll read just about anything featuring vampires, ghosts, witches and whatnot. Roxanne writes everything from articles to web content as a freelance writer and poet. Her erotic and romance stories and poems have appeared in Playgirl Magazine, several print anthologies, in ebooks and on numerous Web sites including: JustusRoux.com, OystersandChocolate.com, TheEroticWoman.com, FortheGirls.com, AssociatedContent.com/roxanne, BareBackMag.com, LucreziaMagazine.com, and RuthiesClub.com She has several ebooks available through Eternal Press: Tasty Christmas Treats, Eternal Desire, the soon to be published Insatiable and 2 of her short paranormal erotic stories appear in the anthology Sexy Paranormal Bedtime Stories. All of these can be purchased in print at Amazon.com. Her story "The First Brick" appears in Lasting Lust: An Anthology of Kinky Couples in Love available at RavenousRomance.com A double shot of her paranormal erotica- Torrid Teasers Volume 59 is available through Whiskey Creek Press Torrid. When not reading or writing Roxanne loves to hang out with her family, craft, garden and search for unique vintage finds. You can visit her at www.roxannesrealm.blogspot.com and www.fang-tasticbooks.blogspot.com.

About Eternal Desire


Liz Beth, a paranormal researcher, is haunted by the seductive vampire, Quillon, who may or may not be real. She arrives in New Orleans the week of Halloween to search for the elusive vampire of her dreams and instead encounters a handsome stranger, Christien, with whom she begins a passionate affair with. Soon she is torn between her dream lover and a flesh and blood man, both of whom are a mystery to her. The closer it gets to Halloween the wilder things become. LizBeth gets closer to the truth about Quillon while Christien has her under his own spell. Will all be revealed at the Vampyre Ball or will the masks stay in place? In New Orleans at Halloween anything is possible.

To read a blurb, go here. View the trailer:

The novella is scheduled to be released October 7, 2009 through EternalPress.ca. E-books can be purchased at EternalPress.ca, Fictionwise.com and BarnesandNoble.com Print copies can be purchased at Amazon.com

Guest Blog by Roxanne Rhoads

Dark Beauties By Roxanne

I guess I've always been attracted to the dark side, even when I was really young my favorite things were witchy, spooky and creepy. I can remember rushing home every day after to school to watch Scooby Doo my all time favorite cartoon. I laugh at my husband because he said he couldn’t watch Scooby when he was little because it scared him. He still isn't a big fan of scary movies either. Though he can handle going to all the crazy Halloween haunted houses when I can't. Weird. Anyway, I digress. When I was a child my bookshelves were lined with all kinds of creepy, spooky and scary ghost stories and kids books about Halloween and anything just a little supernatural. By the time I was 10 I was already reading Steven King and Dean Koontz. I loved watching Tales from the Darkside, Twilight Zone, and of course- reruns of The Munsters and The Addams Family. Morticia Addams and Lily Munster were idols of mine, dark, scary, beautiful. Especially the original Morticia (not so much Angelica Houston). Then later came Elvira- now there was a frightening figure of femininity that men everywhere lusted after. The "Otherness" portrayed by these women was always intensely sexual. Lily was a nurturing mother but like mother nature her sexuality was apparent. Morticia was always appeared so slinky and darkly beautiful, and the refreshing flirtation between her and Gomez is something to hope for in a relationship isn't it? And Elvira, well, she was just sex incarnate wasn’t she? Did you know that Lily and Herman Munster were the first television couple to actually appear in bed together and Morticia and Gomez were always sexy and flirtatious while all the other couples on television sit coms during that time period (1960s) had no apparent sex lives and were never seen in bed together. With television showing such bland lifestyles how could you not want dark sexiness in your world? For a little girl who dreamed of wild times and fantastic places emulating the dark beauties promised a much more interesting life. And now look at the popularity of paranormal erotica and paranormal erotic romance today. These books are flying off the shelves. A lot of people are catching on to the allure of the dark side of sex and I couldn't be more thrilled. For those fans of vampires and other supernatural sexiness I hope you'll like my new novella, Eternal Desire
Here's a quick blurb: Liz Beth, a paranormal researcher, is haunted by the seductive vampire, Quillon, who may or may not be real. She arrives in New Orleans the week of Halloween to search for the elusive vampire of her dreams and instead encounters a handsome stranger, Christien, with whom she begins a passionate affair with. Soon she is torn between her dream lover and a flesh and blood man, both of whom are a mystery to her. The closer it gets to Halloween the wilder things become. LizBeth gets closer to the truth about Quillon while Christien has her under his own spell. Will all be revealed at the Vampyre Ball or will the masks stay in place? In New Orleans at Halloween anything is possible. 
E-books can be purchased at EternalPress.ca, Fictionwise.com and BarnesandNoble.com. Print copies can be purchased at Amazon.com 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Book Review: Hex in High Heels (Hex, #4) by Linda Wisdom

Title: Hex in High Heels
Series: Hex
Book Number: 4
Author: Linda Wisdom
Genre: Fiction - Paranormal Romance
Finished: October 13, 2009

Hex in High Heels was my introduction to the world of Linda Wisdom and Blair Fitzpatrick. Though it is book four in the series, I decided to start from book four and then see how the series struck me, if it was something I would be into. As it seems to be, the books are all loosely connected with the same characters reoccurring, but different ones taking the starring roles. So, though the series was new to me, I hoped that I wouldn't have to know too much about Blair and her life previously to enjoy Hex in High Heels. Blair Fitzpatrick is a witch who just so happens to run her own vintage store and has a thing for a were-collie carpenter named Jake Harrison. The drama is hot enough between the two of them as they work out mutual feelings for each other that could soon blossom into something more. Yet, it is never enough to simply have relationship drama. No. There is always more. Jake's family ad former pack come to town looking to buy some land from Blair and ease in close to. This pack is made up of wolves, far stronger than the mere collie that Jake becomes. The worst part is that the alpha of the pack is Jake's brother, working in tandem with their vicious mother, who wants him dead! Blair is as determined to keep Jake as the pack is to have him and see him dead. Good thing for the pair of them that Blair is as powerful a witch as she is. Does make it any easier that some trouble making elves are also causing Blair a considerable amount of distress. This book was a lot of fun, for sure. Throughout the story, even in times of drama and distress, the story was infused with humor. At the same time, the characters were not all lighthearted parody's of magical creatures and things. There was a really great balance to the story, to the drama versus the humor. I really liked Blair and rooted for her the whole time, though of course, we all know that the good guys generally win in the end. I did, however, feel like I may have gotten more out of the cameos made by other characters if I had read the previous novels. A few times, characters were brought in or things alluded to that I had no idea about and could only assume they happened in one of the previous books. Suffice to say I am going to put the other books on my wish list and get them one by one. If they are anything like Hex in High Heels, I know I am going to enjoy them immensely.

Blog Tour & Guest Post: Football is for Lovers by Robert Brooker & Kathleen O'Dougherty

About Robert Brooker & Kathleen O'Dougherty

Bob Brooker and Kaye O'Dougherty have been adventuring together for a lot of years now. They first met at a recording studio on 42nd Street. Yes, that 42nd Street. They recorded a commercial for E.J. Korvette's, who went out of business soon thereafter. Bob is an old saloon singer who, as Bobby Brookes, recorded for Victor and Capital back in the day. Kaye has trouble carrying a tune in a bucket. Nevertheless, over the years, as Brooker and O'Dougherty, the two have collaborated on a variety of theater projects, performing, writing, directing, managing, and producing. In keeping with the changing times, they have even created a cyber alter-ego named eBobb. Recently, Bob and Kaye both took long-overdue turns at being rather mature college kids. Kaye now holds a Bachelors Degree in the Humanities from St. Peter's College in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. Bob was graduated magna cum laude from Montclair State University with a BA in Theater, and is a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. For more information: Footballforlovers.com, Blog

About Football is for Lovers

Can learning about football be sexy? According to Football is for Lovers, when it comes to your love life, football can be better than oysters. The good news is that Football is for Lovers makes the basics so . . . well, so basic that learning the game is easy as eating an ice cream cone. And just as much fun. With anecdotes, illustrations, and a lot of laughs, Football is for Lovers not only makes it easy to understand the game, but also shows you how to put an end to the TV clicker wars, improve your relationship, and spice up your love life. It just takes looking at the game of football a little bit differently. Then again, since Football is for Lovers contains references to football great Jerry Rice in a pink tutu, images of paintings by French artist Jean Dubuffet, an alert about the dangers of speaking Northeastern Mandarin, an explanation of the value of M & M's in a relationship, and a Burma Shave sign, to say it looks at football "a little bit differently" may be something of an understatement. But if your football-obsessed partner has been making you a 'football widow' from August NFL pre-season through the February Super-Bowl, thus convincing you that you hate football, this little book may be just the 'different look' you need to discover that, after all, Football really is for Lovers!

Guest Post by Robert Brooker & Kathleen O'Dougherty

When you hear that a shared cause can keep a relationship flourishing, more than likely what springs to mind is sharing Grand Things like stamping out global hunger, or achieving world peace. Sharing football is likely not to have made it into your top ten. But maybe football deserves a recount. And no: we're not just saying that because we wrote Football is for Lovers. Actually, it's more why we wrote Football is for Lovers. It occurred to us that many of you may not have made the connection between the condition of your relationship and the condition of the planet. Which brings us back to what we see as the key to a truly electric relationship: sharing. Sadly, we appear to be to the ill-manner born. From the time we're mere babes, we're pretty much gimme sort of guys. Ever see the frown on the face of a toddler when she's told she has to share her Tommy the Talking Truck with her playmate? Ah, but then we fall in love. And we realize "amazingly!" that we are actually seeing someone else as being at least as important to us as we are to ourselves!!! Wow!!! Better than that: it doesn't just feel good. It feels positively EUPHORIC!!! Egos melt. Suddenly, we want to give our dearly beloved the world!! Hey, he can have our Tommy the Talking Truck if he wants it. Because now we see – no, make that now we feel – how wonderful sharing can be. But we're willing to bet that you still don't see the connection between Tommy, football, and World Peace. Well, there is one. And since we're also betting that you're feeling just a bit skeptical along about now, we're bringing in the Big Guns: Vladimir Solovyov. Hey, with a name like that, you just gotta take him seriously, yes? Well, you should. He's considered to be one of the greatest philosophers of the nineteenth century. Vladimir said, ". . . sexual love is the highest flowering of individual life." Oh, that Vladimir! But more than that, he said that love is "the beginning of the embodiment of true ideal humanity." That is, Vladimir sees this human physical love of ours as the doorway to that true ideal humanity that really would feed the hungry and end all war. Didn't know you had it in you, did you?! Okay. So love is a heck of a lot more heavyweight than you thought it was. But still: why football? We say, why not? Isn't it a grand way to ease yourself into the bigger stuff? It can rev up all that sharing energy you'll need for those anti-war protests and collecting canned goods to send to Wall Street. Don't understand the game? If you're a little shaky on the fundamentals, Football is for Lovers will teach you all you need to know. Quick and easy. So let yourself go! Cheer! Hug! Roll around on the rug a little. The world is counting on you!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Book Review: Slave Country- American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South by Adam Rothman

Title: Slave Country- American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South
Author: Adam Rothman
Genre: NonFiction - History
Finished: October 12, 2009

As Rothman states in his introduction, "During the Republic, slavery's expansion in the Deep South emerged from contingent global forces, concrete policies pursued by governments, and countless small choices made by thousands of individuals in diverse stations of life." The question of why and how slavery expanded after the revolution has yet to be answered. Most Americans consider slavery an embarrassment and many feel it unrealistic to question why slavery was not abolished in a post-revolutionary time of independence and achievement. Rothman approaches those issues to explain why slavery was not abolished and why it expanded in the Republic. Rothman uses a variety of good primary source documents for his research and evidence: American State Papers; census and population data and statistics; newspapers; memorials; estate inventories; personal letters and papers; journals and memoirs; public documents and declarations; and legal documents such as petitions, laws, and affidavits. For secondary sources, Rothman consulted a number of journal articles, books, and dissertations that explore topics such as, but not limited to, the rationale of expansion, slaves and slavery, a biography on politicians and plantation owners, and international relations. They all contribute appropriately to the book, and all seem to be sound documents and sources. What I liked best about this book is that it is very complete in the information that it gives. Rothman approaches a complex topic, with many various factors, influences, and causes/effects, and gives readers an in-depth view of the expansion of slavery. Rather than be very broad and general, Rothman is full of detail and history to explain its rooting. He gives details and connects it all together in an intricate weave that is still easy to grasp and understand, and makes you understand the true complexity of slavery's expansion. What I feel hurt the book, though, is that there is a lot of dates jumping back and forth. As a result, I found it difficult to keep up with at times and had some difficulty keeping things within a proper mental timeline. Another is that he frequently inserts things happening with Native Americans and places them within the context of slavery, a few times finding rationales that are very loose. While it makes sense to evaluate the impact of Native American slaveholders, the book loses focus a few times when there is no direct or important correlation. If you have ever wanted to take a deeper look into slavery, to ask and then answer the question of how American culture, economy, and politics evolved in such a way as to encourage the institution of slavery, this will be a great book to read. So often we take slavery for granted in the sense that "it was here and it existed," but its origins are far more complex and layered, full of back and forth, supporters and dissenters, and part of a shifting nation that encouraged freedom while at the same time strengthening the bondage of others.