Monday, October 17, 2011

Follow the River--A Review

Follow the River, by James Alexandar Thom, was my midnight buddy for the past few days. It is the gripping story of a 23-year-old woman, Mary, kidnapped by Shawnee Indians in 1755, after they destroyed her settlement and killed many of its inhabitants. She escapes with another woman and makes a 700+ mile trek back to her husband.

I have to offer a disclaimer. The violence described in the book, especially at the beginning, is deeply disturbing, and I might have put it aside if it weren't for the overall recommendation of a friend. Other descriptions throughout are cringe-inducing as well.

Thom researched his topic thoroughly, including retracing Mary's steps, and it shows. His grasp of the terrain she covered shows in his vivid descriptions, which at times can be repetitive. I found myself skimming through the middle of the book, because of my painful anticipation of how it would end. Even though I knew she would make it, there were so many unknowns that I found myself clicking (kindle read) through the pages as quickly as I could and skipping many of the descriptions that after several hundred miles--seemed like more of the same.

He also contacted Mary's posterity and combed through rare documents, including a handwritten memoir, which serves to bring more credibility to his story.

One of the story's greatest strengths is in its protagonist, who demonstrates such remarkable strength of character, it is impossible not to stand in awe of what she accomplished. If you enjoy reading stories of real women who accomplished something extraordinary, you can't go wrong with this one.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

CONGRATULATIONS to my October Blog Tour Winner!

Congratulations to Tonya Dean--the winner of BOOKS ARE MY SHOES' October Blog Hop Giveaway.
I hope you enjoy these wonderful books as much as I have. Happy Reading!
Thank you to everyone who participated. The hardest thing was not being able to let everyone win! But the good news is, I had so much fun participating in this blog hop that you can plan on it being a regular event for BOOKS ARE MY SHOES.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Welcome to the October Blog Hop, where you can visit new blogs, enter to win prizes, and have a great time!

At the bottom of this post, you'll see a list of participating blogs. Just click on each link, check out the prize, and follow the easy instructions to enter. You can enter on each blog, so it's possible to win multiple times. It's frighteningly easy.

On this blog, you can win a BOOK BUNDLE of three of my favorite books from this last year's reading (gently loved already by ME):
These Is My Words, by Nancy Turner; Room, by Emma Donoghue, and The Help, by Kathryn Stockett.

To enter, all you need to do is:

1. Become a follower of my blog.

2. Leave a comment on this post and tell me why you'd like to win this prize. If your e-mail address isn't visible through your Blogger profile, please also leave it with the comment so I can notify you if you win. You can enter until midnight MST on Saturday night, October 15th.

That's it! You are now entered. Now please go visit all my friends on the list below. It's almost like trick or treating!
October Blog Hop Participants
1. Tristi Pinkston
2. I Am a Reader, Not a Writer
3. Bonnie Harris
4. Michael D. Young
5. Misty Moncur
6. Debbie Davis
7. Mandi Tucker Slack
8. Mary Ann Dennis
9. Deanna Henderson
10. Laura Bastian
11. Kristy Tate
12. Kristy Wilson
13. Jennifer Debenham
14. Jenny Moore
15. Elizabeth Hughes
16. J. Lloyd Morgan
17. Close Encounters with the Night Kind
18. Billy Boulden
19. Scott Bryan
20. Maria Hoagland
21. Shirley Bahlmann
22. Shelly Brown
23. Marcy Howes
24. Lynnea Mortensen
25. Jaclyn M. Hawkes
26. Diane Stringam Tolley
27. Gail Zuniga
28. Betsy Love
29. iWriteNetwork
30. Canda's InkBlast
31. Stacy Coles

Learn more about October Blog Hop here.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Book Review: Depth of Deceipt

2010 Winner of the Silver Quill for second place in the Fiction category for the League of Utah Writers Publication Awards.

Blond and stunningly beautiful, fledgling attorney Stephanie Saunders vows to protect the innocent even though as indigent defense attorney her clients rarely are. Does that include Josh Durrant, who seems to be following her? Stephanie is dismayed when her peers begin calling her "Prom Queen" like boyfriend, Todd Saxton, often does. While desperately trying to prove her credibility in her profession, she overlooks a scheme to steal her innocence. Although she plans to forgive Todd for his ultimate betrayal, she is never given the chance. Her boss, Attorney Charles Connelly, offers support, but is Stephanie's welfare, or his own, top priority? The only thing that keeps Stephanie sane in her insane world are the hores she loves but does not own. The example of the abused mare, Riskie Business, helps Stephanie make the most difficult decision of her life. Relying on wit and courage, Stephanie must save herself and another during the final showdown where she proves a loyalty and strength of which she never knew herself capable.

Well, this blurb had me interested, I have to admit. I love a good romance thriller, and throw in a mix of law (which usually leads to crazy bad guys) and horses (which makes me all happy and nostalgic, even though I know nothing about them) and I figure I'm in for a good read. So when a friend of mine asked me to review this book for a fellow writer, Betty Briggs, I couldn't refuse. For my participation, I received a free copy of the book in question. Yes!

This book has many things going for it. It is a clean romance thriller with a heroine you want to root for and a love interest that's, well, loveable. Not to mention hunky. The premise is intriguing, and the danger the heroine faces keeps the pace moving along nicely. The majority of the book is a quick read, which makes it the perfect companion for a weekend getaway--the way I enjoyed it. I also loved the substory of Stephanie with the horses she loves. There was sadness and darkness in the story, too, which adds to the reader's desire to root for the heroine, yet Brigg's keeps it light enough that it doesn't cause despair. I also found many of the descriptions to be beautifully-written.

My biggest complaint about this story is with the character development of the heroine and other key players. It was difficult to comprehend some of the heroine's motivations and actions because we know so little about her beyond the fact that she is an orphan. A little more background information might have lent itself to helping the reader understand why Stephanie does what she does, or even why she seems so naive for a 21st-century woman. I also would have loved to have her figure out more of the mystery on her own insead of having most of it told to her by others. And a little more time interacting with (or combatting)the main villains, who have almost no "screen time," would have helped to show her strength. At times, I found the dialogue to be forced and unnatural, and sometimes the verbal sparring between Stephanie and her love interest missed the mark. Finally, the author failed to capture a strong finish when she allowed the resolution to drag on for several chapters after her gripping climax.

If you enjoy reading clean romance thrillers and a quick read with likeable characters, then this might just be the thing for you. To order Depth of Deceit, click here.

About the Author (from book cover): A retired legal secretary of thirty-three years and lifetime horse lover, Betty notes that some of her experiences sneak into her story lines, but not without embellishments. Already the author of four young adult books, she is excited to introduce Depth of Deceit, her first mainstream novel. She is the mother of two grown children adn grandmother to five. She lives in teh Rocky Mountains with her husband, Scott. Her three horses round out the family. Find out more about Betty and her books at

Hooked on the Writing Craft

If you're even remotely interested in writing, you HAVE to read Hooked, by Les Edgerton.

There. Assignment issued. I won't even mind too much if you stop reading my post to go purchase it.

Of course if you're like me and need a little more INFORMATION before you depart with your hard-earned cash, then read on to discover my glowing review.

The book, itself, is short and squatty, but it makes the most of its small stature, cramming into its tiny frame plenty of meaty tips to infuse your writing with page-turning power. I recommend reading it with a highlighter in hand. The rebel in me (which is admittedly pretty starved for action) loves an excuse to color away on any book, and this one gave me plenty of practice drawing my straight yellow lines.

Some of my favorites:

"Summary doesn't convince anyone of anything."

"The single biggest fault of most writers is that they simply don't trust the reader's intelligence to 'get' what's going on without providing lengthy backstory."

"If stories are always about one thing and one thing only--trouble--then the story shouldn't really begin at any time other than when the trouble begins. The story simply doesn't exist before that point."

Edgerton uses his vast experience in the publishing, writing, and teaching industries to create a book that informs you like a textbook and charms you like a bestseller.

Plus, he gives examples of his favorite first liners.

Which begs the question--what is your favorite first line from a book?

Happy Reading.

Fall, by Jennifer Hurst

Every so often a book comes along that you can't put down. Fall, by Jennifer Hurst, was that book for me. And what a blessed relief that this was the case! My week had been crazy-busy, crammed with my not-always-impressive efforts to help get the kiddos back into the groove of school and trying to coax all of us out of our summertime funk of no schedules and few responsibilities. We all were suffering from system shock--me worse than anyone. That's probably why I put off sticking my nose into this book until just a few days ago, even though I had a review coming up that had to be finished by the 15th. But because reading is my favorite thing, I couldn't put it at the top of my "do now" list.

No worries, I thought. I'll just cram through it--painfully difficult or not. To my great delight, no pain was involved, unless you count the discomfort I felt on many occasions when I had to put the derned thing down and go be productive. I guess the aforementioned kiddos like to eat at regular intervals. Go figure.

So here's the synopsis from Jennifer Hurst's website:

Women and construction shouldn’t mix. At least, that is what the client, Mr. Blackwell, thinks when Twenty-one year old Julia D. Halstead is promoted to project manager and tasked with remodeling a turn-of-the-century schoolhouse into a bed and breakfast in the tourist town of Torrey, Utah. However, the schoolhouse contains a dark secret that has been hidden for over a hundred years. A secret that will unleash the furies of Hell and cause the Angels in Heaven to weep as ethereal brothers, Matthew and Nathan battle over Julia’s very soul." Click here to read more.

It just so happens, construction is in MY blood too. My dad is a general contractor, his dad was a general contractor, three of my brothers are in the construction business, and yes, even my husband is a construction project manager/general contractor. I was destined to find a kindred spirit in the main character, Julia, or JD, as she insists on being called. And that's just what happened.

Hurst weaves a great tale of romance, suspense, and paranormal intrigue, intermingled with strong character development that keeps the reader emotionally invested in the outcome of the story. Just like any great romance, I found myself "falling in love" along with the heroine and feeling her pain when things don't turn out the way she had planned. I enjoyed the strong, quirky female lead. And the setting is rich and interesting and winds up taking a big part in the story.

There were some typos and grammatical errors in my ARC (advanced-reader copy), which I've been assured are fixed in the most recent copy. I didn't find them to detract from my overall enjoyment of the book, though. My only concern with the book centered on the fact that some of the premises were not as fleshed out as I would like to have seen. I often found myself questioning what exactly the rules were for her characters' paranormal abilities, as well as what rules governed their world. Much of this was left unexplained or barely touched upon. The premise is such an interesting one that I wanted to understand it all much better. In addition, JD's past is mentioned as significant, but we don't get sufficient details to piece it all together. Finally, the resolution ended abruptly and still left me with numerous questions. I think Hurst was leaving open the option for a sequel or a group of sequels, but some of the answers to crucial questions that help a reader feel satisfied at the end of a story were missing. If they are meant to be covered in future installments, an indication of that would be nice. If not, please throw us a few more morsels of delicious resolution.

In addition to my delight in having this book be such a page-turner (or a page-forward-button-pusher if you read it on your electronic reading device, as I did) I was struck with one of those other sensations we writers sometimes get when we come across a fabulous idea crafted into a captivating book. It's perhaps the best praise I can give anyone, and that is--I wish I'd written that. To purchase Jennifer's book, click here.

Best of luck to you Jennifer. And by the way . . . GREAT name!


The setting in Fall is one of the characters. I defy you to read it and not be struck with a longing to visit Torrey, Utah and the fabulous schoolhouse bed and breakfast, which is a real place. The fabulous news for you is that one lucky reader will get to do just that!

In conjunction with this blog tour, Jennifer is holding a contest. It will involve any of the blogs that Jennifer visits or where her book is featured and will close on December 31st, 2011. The entrants have to answer three questions about the book they’ve read (bought, borrowed, or stolen - shame on you) and post a link to Jennifer's website on their Twitter, Facebook, or blog (need link for verification).

Then the names will be entered in a random name picker generator ( and announced on Jennifer's website ( on January 31st, 2012. The winner will receive a gift certificate for a night’s stay at the actual bed and breakfast where the story takes place.

Other prizes include an autographed copy of FALL, and she will randomly select 3 contestants’ names to use in the sequel to FALL. Plus, they will receive a free copy of that book when it is published.

Each blog that Jennifer Hurst visits will have a different set of questions people can answer, and they may enter as many times as they want - but they can enter once per blog site that they visit. So the more sites you visit, the more you can enter your name, thus increasing your chances of winning the gift certificate, a copy of the book FALL, and your name in the sequel.
Get the book, read the book, and then read over the questions below. Once you have your answers, e-mail them to Jennifer.

Your privacy is respected and your email address will NOT be used for anything but the contest. Once the contest is over - your email address will be deleted from the database.
Here are the questions for you to answer:
What did Missy give to JD for Christmas?
Which marathon was Rick training for?
What is Mr. Blackwell's wife's name?

If you would like to visit the other sites, go here for the master list of all participating sites:
Best of luck, and thanks for participating!