Sunday, October 31, 2010

Review: SUPERFREAKONOMICS by Levitt & Dubner

Once again, I revisited the twisted world of Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner.  In many ways, Superfreakonomics is more of the same…the application of economic models to data in order to solve common questions.  One of the more interesting differences in this installment is the emphasis on cheap and simple solutions to some of life’s complex problems.  A few of the main topics discussed were simple solutions for global warming, the effect television has on the way women in rural India are treated, how to spot a terrorist by examining their financial records, etc. 

My favorite part of this book were the discussions on simple and cheap solutions to problems.  For example, for only a fraction of what we pay out in hurricane damage each year, a water circulation device could be created and used to cool the surface temperature on the oceans, decreasing the intensity of hurricanes.  This solution would continue to allow topical storms and low grade hurricanes to bring the much needed moisture to maintain the ecology of these affected areas of the world, yet it would prevent the storms from reaching the level four and five intensities which bring mass destruction or property and lives.  The science behind this device is so logical and easy that even I understood it!  So why don’t these cheap & simple solutions get put into action?  Because they are cheap and simple.  There isn’t enough money to be made off of them. 

Just like Freakonomics, the writing was fast-paced.  The topics seemed to bounce around a lot, but they always connected back the original thread.  This writing style keeps the reader from getting too bogged down in the data and allows them to see the big-picture.  As some of you may know, I am in grad school now for Business, so I have a broad base knowledge of finance and economics prior to reading these books.  The beauty of them though is that any person on the street could pick them up and not only follow the ideas, but enjoy what they read.  I’m so happy to see writers making economics accessible to the masses, because it really can be incredibly interesting. 

Overall, I give Superfreakonomics

Innovative Ideas – 5 bookmarks
Accessibility – 4 bookmarks

Friday, October 29, 2010

Review: THE INNER CIRCLE by TC Boyle

TC Boyle is one of my favorite authors, but I have to say…this was not my favorite of his books.  The topic was interesting, based on the true story of the Dr. Kinsey, the famous sex researcher, and his team.  The writing was sharp and precise, fitting the voice of the narrator.  But somehow, the book was…flat. 

The Inner Circle is told from the point of view of John Milk, a low-level researcher on Kinsey’s team at the University of Indiana.  He tells the tale of how the ground breaking research was conducted, including filming of live sex acts and taking thousands and thousands of sex histories—all very racy stuff in the 1940’s.  At first, the secrecy in the group is necessary to protect the integrity of the project, but as the project challenges the social mores, Milk finds himself questioning his own morals and lowing his inhibitions. 

This blog post is one of the hardest I’ve ever had to write, because I have nothing to say about this book.  The sex was clinical and cold.  The climax could be seen a million miles away, so by the time it happened, I was impatient and bored.  The methods Kinsey used for his ground breaking research were interesting, but not enough to carry this long of a book.  Boyle is a genius of a writer, but The Inner Circle is far from his best work. 

Overall, I give The Inner Circle

Plot – 1 ½ bookmarks
Character Development – 2 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Adam Brody (John Milk), William H Macy (Dr. Kinsey), James Franco (Corcoran), January Jones (Iris), Sela Ward (Mack), Megan Fox (Betty)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Review: EVERMORE by Alyson Noel

Yay!  I found a new YA series to get into!  Evermore is the first book in The Immortals series.  Sixteen year old Ever goes to live with her aunt in Southern California after her parent’s little sister and family dog are killed in a horrendous car accident.  Ever, the sole survivor suffers more than just survivor’s guilt…ever since her near death experience, she has gained psychic powers.  Now, she is forced to endure the constant thoughts of the people around her.  She also sees auras, glimpses of the future and the ghost of her little sister who is her closest companion.

When the girls at school (and half of the boys) go into a tizzy over a hot new guy, Ever is most intrigued by his lack of an aura and her inability to read his thoughts.  In fact, when the boy, Damen, touches her, all of the voices are blocked out, sending her into a blissful silence.  Ever is confused by Damen.  Some days he seems to pursue her aggressively; others he ignores her completely.  Then, there are the flowers.  Even though it is completely the wrong time of year for tulips, Damen keeps doing these magic tricks where he makes red tulips appear from behind her ear, in her lunch bag, in her locker, etc. 

I don’t want to give too much of the story away in my summary.  Let’s just say that I really liked how you didn’t know whether Damen was good or bad.  The author did a great job at making him beautiful and dangerous at the same time.  I also liked how Ever didn’t chase after him.  When Damen would act like a jerk, Ever didn’t pander to his crap like a lot of teen girls might.  Fair or not, some readers criticized Bella Swan in Twilight for being too passive with Edward. (I didn’t think she was that bad…)  No one will say those things about Ever.  She is a great role model for females.  Even when she does bad things (like a typical teen), she gets punished and learns from her mistakes. 

I also enjoyed how Noel handled the emotional trauma of Ever’s story.  Ever is a severely damaged girl.  She hides from the other kids under hoodies and sunglasses.  She maintains a selfish and co-dependent relationship with her ghostly sister.  She blames herself for living when her family died.  I’m glad that Noel didn’t try to sugar coat anything that Ever experienced.  It made her seem like a real person.  I’m excited to see where her journey will go in the next books.

Overall, I give Evermore

Plot – 3 ½ bookmarks
Character Development – 4 ½ bookmarks
Love Story – 4 ½ bookmarks (The scene at the end of chapter twenty-six about broke my heart!)
Age Appropriateness – A strict, Puritanical parent might find issue with some alcohol use and mention of teen sex, but for the most part, I found it realistic and appropriate for most kids thirteen and older.
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Anastasia Baranova (Ever), a less pale Rob Pattinson from the first Twilight movie (Damen), Kelsey Batelaan (Riley), Christian Siriano (Miles), Deborah Ann Woll (Drina), Malese Jow (Haven)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Review: NIGHT KEEPERS by Jessica Andersen

I wanted to like this book, I really did.  The concept was unique—an Urban Fantasy involving the 2012 Dooms Day Prophesy, Mayan gods & demons and a super human race of magi warriors, The Night Keepers, who are on a mission to save the world.  Uber cool!  The series couldn’t have come more recommended, I mean, Jessica Andersen is the great JR Ward’s writing partner!  And yet, while I liked some elements of the book, I just couldn’t get into it the way I thought I would. 

So, the question I have asked myself over and over this week while I struggled not to put the book down was why did I feel this way?  Part of me thinks that it is my fault—I clearly had gone into this with my expectations set too high.  I’ve been known to do this with both books and movies on occasion.  It’s the literary equivalent of “It’s not you; it’s me.” 

However, I can’t take all of the blame.  While the concept was brilliant, there were definite issues I had with the book itself.  For example, I never bought into the love story.  Strike (horrendous name) is the King of the Night Keepers.  Some thirteenth prophesy (the first twelve are completely never mentioned) states that he will need to sacrifice his true love on the autumn solstice in order to free some god and to prevent some crazy demon from crossing over to Earth.  (Honestly, the details were too confusing and lacking in explanation to follow.)  Then, the chick (Can’t remember her name.  Not a good sign for a book I just read.) is a hot blond police officer finds herself on a sacrificial alter before Strike saves her.  Thirty seconds after he gets her shackles off, they are going at it like rabbits.  Seriously?  It was only like page ten!  Suddenly, they are the loves of each other’s lives without ever having a getting-to-know-you phase. 

The lover’s dialogue, what little of it there was between them, consisted of unconvincing arguing (usually followed by one of them stomping out of the room) or craptastic lines like:

Hot Blond:  I love you.
Strike: Goes both ways.

Gag me with a tuning fork.  (Oh!  Just remembered hot blond is named Leah.)

What kept me reading this book was the stuff about the Mayan prophesies.  I know very little about the Mayan beliefs or the 2012 end date, so I was interested in learning about them.  Unfortuanately, the ideas were never really fleshed out in a way that I could easily grasp.  Things would be mentioned, but not fully explained.  I finished the book feeling like I only caught about 65% of what I should have.  Was I just not paying close enough attention?  Maybe.  But I also didn’t expect to have to work that hard to figure out what was going on. 

Overall, I give Night Keepers

Plot – 2 ½ bookmarks
Characters -   2 ½ bookmarks.  (Liked Strike slightly better than Leah.  Some of the supporting characters were interesting.  Unfortunately, the other Night Keepers were only given about five pages a piece toward the beginning and then dropped.)
Magical & Fantasy Elements – 2 bookmarks. 
Dream Cast  (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) -  Joe Manganiello (Strike), Kate Hudson (Leah the hot blond), Joely Richardson (Anna), Billy Miller (Sven), Christopher Walkin (Red-Boar), Suzy Amis (Alexis Gray), Velma from Scooby Doo (Jane), the black silhouette of Vlad on the cover of Heather Brewer’s books (Rabbit)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Interview: Nancy Henderson, Author of FOUR WINDS

I'm fascinated by what inspires authors to write and the paths they take toward getting published.  We are all driven by different things.  That is one of the great benefits for me in getting to interview other published authors.  This week, I had the opportunity to meet with Nancy Henderson, whose new book Four Winds will be released on October 21st.

Jesi:  Readers would like to know a little bit about you and your writing.  Tell us how you came to be a writer.
Nancy:  I've always written.  I wish I could say I woke up and had this revelation, probably would sound way more exciting.  LOL

Jesi:  Your latest book, Four Winds, is scheduled to release on October 21st.  Tell me a little about the book and where the idea came from.
Nancy:  The idea for Four Winds came from doing research on the French and Indian war. And I just love the Adirondacks where the book is set. 
A killer sworn to protect the one she risked everything to destroy.
Revenge is all Julia “Cade” Skye has left.  Determined to avenge the death of her husband, Cade is shot by one of Colonel Grey’s men, Hunter, a local native sworn to protect Grey.
Not realizing he shot a woman, Hunter has no choice but to take Cade home to his people and nurse her back to health.  While recovering, Cade opens up a world to Hunter, one of compassion and understanding, something the hardened warrior never had.  Hunter, in turn, teaches Cade that forgiveness is possible.  Can they each forget the pain of their pasts and find a future with one another?
Jesi:  Who are your writing influences?  Do you have a Muse?
Nancy:  Music is my muse.  I love listening to anything when I write, particularly movie soundtracks.

Jesi:  What do you do when not writing?
Nancy:  I work full time, so writing comes in spurts of free time.  I also read quite a bit. 

Jesi:  Ready for some fun questions?  Who is the most famous person you have ever met?
Nancy:  Marjorie M. Liu at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention.  I asked her to sign a copy of one of her books.  It's on my keeper shelf.  It was a real honor meeting her.

Jesi:  What makes for an ideal sexy hero?
Nancy:  Honesty, a willingness to fight for what and for whom he believes in despite all odds.

Jesi:  Who is your favorite fictional couple of all time?
Nancy:  This sounds strange, but Dorothy and the Scarecrow from The Wizard Of Oz.  Even as a kid, I remember daydreaming about them being the perfect couple!

Jesi:  If you could visit any time period, when and where would you go?
Nancy:  Colonial America, 1774.  It was such a volutile period, extremely dangerous.  Once I arrived I'd probably be screaming to go home to my spoiled modern convenienced life. LOL

Jesi:  Lastly, where can people purchase Four Winds?
Nancy: It can be purchased here:

Also, please visit my website for updates to my work!

Thanks for having me, Jesi! 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Interview: Daryl Sedore, author of PARANORMAL PRECOGNITIONS

The opportunity to interview fellow authors both humbles and thrills me.  I recently sit down with a fascinating new author, Daryl Sedore, to discuss his new thriller, Paranormal Precognitions.  Check it out!

Jessica:  Readers would like to know a little bit about you and your writing.  Tell us how you came to be a writer.

Daryl: It all started over 30 years ago. I hadn’t turned ten years old yet and a friend of mine, ironically enough his name was Daryl too, was reading a book that had no pictures. I commented on that and asked how he could read page after page without any pictures. He said that I was wrong and that the pages filled with text actually did have pictures. He said that the words formed pictures. I couldn’t believe it so I grabbed the book and started to read. Instantly I saw a picture form of the scene I was reading and was completely hooked with the magic of stories. Within days I started taking the pictures inside my head and making them into stories. My first short story was called Dracula vs. Frankenstein. I wrote this 30 page story in pencil longhand in 1979 when I had just turned ten.

By the time I hit 30 years of age, I had dabbled with writing, not taking it too seriously as I built a small retail empire. During the long hours away from home in hotels I decided to take my laptop and write the stories that were eating away at me. I have since written four novels and over fifty short stories. I was contracted to write a monthly short story for a magazine in Northern Ontario for over three years and a few of my stories have won awards. My current novel won second place in a contest called strong opening scenes and it has been long listed in a literary agencies Great Novel Openings contest.

Jessica:  Your latest book, Paranormal Precognitions, was recently released.  Tell me a little about the book and where the idea came from.

Daryl: The story is about a girl named Sarah Roberts, who is an automatic writer suffering from trichotillomania. Automatic writing happens when she falls into an unconscious state and writes notes about crimes that are going to happen. Someone on the Other Side is using her to try to stop these crimes before they happen. But things go terribly wrong when she tries to stop a kidnapping and ends up being kidnapped herself. The kidnappers want to know how she knew about them and will stop at nothing to find out.

A massive chase ensues with the help of a renowned psychic who the police begin to suspect as cashing in on kidnappings as he has moments of clarity and suddenly knows where kidnap victims are. (Trichotillomania is the name given when someone is a puller. It is similar to cutting, but Sarah pulls her own hair out. She’s gone so far as to’ve removed most of the hair on her head and all of the hair on her forearms, neck and so on. She actually looks quite sick so she covers herself with lots of clothing and a red bandanna.)

I got the idea one day when I was thinking about fake psychics. The original premise was called False Prophets as I wanted a story about psychics who were kidnapping teenage girls and then after the ransom was paid a “psychic” would show up and find her, not only making these psychics rich but also popular. The story idea changed a little and became what it is today: a story about a girl who is kidnapped but who is actually a real psychic with a lot of inner conflict.

Jessica:  Who are your writing influences?  Do you have a Muse?

Daryl: The only one I could name here would be Stephen King. Before I got serious about writing again, I read “On Writing”. It was after that, that I decided I would sit down in front of my keyboard and start writing, but this time with the intention of publication.

Jessica:  I loved that book!  All writers should read it.  What do you do when not writing?

Daryl: Probably the biggest time consuming activity I do is read. I’m constantly reading books. I have a huge library and there’s one whole bookcase filled with my to-be-read pile. Other than that, I would say my next love is golf.  
But, now that I’m talking about love, I do all these things with Brenda, my first love, my wife, who is also a writer, reader and golfer.

Jessica:  Ready for some fun questions?  Who is the most famous person you have ever met?

Daryl: I’ve met politicians, television personalities and authors. It’s difficult to say who would be the most important because that would be based on where you are or who the individual reader would classify as important. For instance, I met Kevin Frankish at one of my businesses about five years ago. We sat and chatted for an hour. That name won’t mean much to you unless you’re a regular watcher of Breakfast Television in Toronto. If you are, the you’d know he’s quite the celebrity in and around Toronto.

So, for this question, I’ll stick to authors: I’ve had lunch with and chatted up Diana Gabaldon and Bob Mayer. I’ve met C.C. Humphries and Jack Whyte and Michael Slade. I even met Max Haines, a true crime writer, back in 1989.

Jessica:  If your book were to be made into a movie, who would you want to play the leading roles?

Daryl: Great question. The only female that comes to mind would be Noomi Rapace. She is the intense actress from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movies (Swedish versions). I’m not really a lover of the huge stars that Hollywood sells by the pound. If she couldn’t do the female lead, then I would want Dakota Fanning or a previously unknown to do it. For the main psychic I’d love someone like Jeff Goldblum, and for the leading cop I’d go with Gary Oldman.

Jessica:  Which fictional character can you most relate to?

Daryl: This one is tough because fictional characters live larger than life. They go through their respective stories having to face huge challenges and struggles. There are characters I’ve grown to respect and others I’d love to emulate. I’ll label a few and the reasons that they inspire me.

1.      I wish I had this characters skill and instincts. His ability to foresee things and make deductive reasoning his friend has impressed me to the edge of awe and beyond: Sherlock Holmes
 I wish I had the strength and tenacity of this character. I long to possess his level of honor and duty. If only for a day, I yearn to walk in his shoes: Jack Reacher (Lee Child)

 Finally, another character of honor and intelligence. One who has friends that would walk through any fire with him and have his back without whining or questions. A brave and awesome character. Two men fit this bill: Myron Bolitar. (Harlan Coben) and Penn Cage (Greg Iles).

Jessica:  If you could visit any time period, when and where would you go?

Daryl: The only time period that comes to mind is the future. The past interests me and at times I read historical novels, but nothing in the past has ever enticed me enough to want to visit it in real time so I’d go to the future. I’d love to see what it’ll look like in ten or twenty of even fifty years from now. Will we be here? Will the air be cleaner? Have nukes been used yet? 

Jessica:  Lastly, where can people purchase Paranormal Precognitions?

Daryl: Paranormal Precognitions is available at Amazon. That’s probably the best place because they’re offering the most competitive price. You can download a free sample of the beginning of the novel so you’ll be able to see if it’s something you’d be interested in. It’s also available in print at Amazon.

Thank you, Jessica, for the interview and your kindness. I appreciate the time and care you took in preparing this interview.

If people have further questions or just want to say hello, I can be reached at

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Review: DARK VISIONS by LJ Smith

The young adult book is actually a trilogy bound together into one volume.  The main character is Kaitlyn, a seventeen year old, gifted psychic who is feared and ostracized in her school.  Kait is an artist.  She loves to paint and draw.  However, sometimes her hand itches and starts moving on its own.  When that happens, the pictures she makes come true. 

One day, Kait is approached with an offer from a wealthy man in California.  He is running a study of psychic teenagers and would like to recruit her for his project.  She and four other psychic kids from around the country would move to California for the remainder of their senior year and undergo testing after school.  At the end of the study, they will be given a hefty scholarship for college.  The need for college money and the desire to meet other kids like her sends Kait across the country. 

One there, Kait quickly makes friends: Rob is a gorgeous and kind boy who has the powers of healing, Anna is a friendly girl who can talk to and control animals, Lewis is a funny boy who can move objects with his mind…and then there is Gabriel.  Gabriel is a telepath who is hiding the secret that he is also a psychic vampire.  He needs to draw on the life force of others in order to survive. 

The children are not at the institute long before they realize something is wrong.  It seems their sponsor may be using them in an evil plot to use psychics as weapons.  To uncover the truth and stop him, the kids set out on a dangerous journey where their loyalties and friendships are tested.

I loved this book!  Kait is likeable and not annoyingly perfect.  The romantic triangle set up between her, Rob and Gabriel is beautifully done.  I found the story highly original and exciting.  I strongly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys paranormal YA. 

Overall, I give Dark Visions

Plot – 4 bookmarks
Love Story – 4 ½ bookmarks
Characters – 3 bookmarks
Use of Paranormal Elements – 4 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Emma Stone (Kait), Hunter Parrish (Rob), Adam Gregory (Gabriel)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Review: THE ABSTINENCE TEACHER by Tom Perrotta

This book has two main characters who couldn’t be more different.  Ruth is a divorced mother of two who teaches Sex education at the local middle school.  She has always prided herself on teaching the children facts that will keep them safe.  However, when the daughter of a born-again Christian family reports back to her parents something Ruth said in class, lawyers are quickly involved.  In an attempt to fend off a lawsuit, the school board implements a new abstinence only education program.  Ruth tries to follow the new ciricculum, but her conscience nags at her constantly. 

Tim is one of the born-again Christians who attend the new evangelical church in town.  A former rocker and drug addict, he has found the strength through his faith to clean up his life.  He is now a mortgage broker who coaches a girls’ soccer team on the side.  One of the girls on his team is Ruth’s daughter.  With her nerves on edge from the public controversy surrounding her, Ruth completely loses it when she witnesses Tim leading her daughter’s soccer team in a post-game prayer. 

Both Ruth and Tim find themselves struggling to uphold their convictions while having to conform to public opinion.  This parallel existence brings them together into something like a friendship. 

I loved this book.  I thought the writing was brilliant.  Perrotta is one of the best contemporary writers I have read when it comes to interesting description.  I also loved the flow of the book—the way it rotated between both Ruth and Tim’s points of view.  It really helped to see the parallels they were living.  Lastly, the characters felt real.  They were flawed, non-stereotypical—I didn’t agree with either of them 100% of the time, yet I liked them both.  Very good read.

Overall, I give The Abstinence Teacher…

Plot – 4 bookmarks
Character Development – 5 bookmarks
Dissection of Moral Issues – 4 ½ bookmarks (Really made an attempt to show all sides.)
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Kate Winslet (Ruth), Aaron Eckhart as he looked in Erin Brockovich (Tim), Philip Seymour Hoffmann (Pastor Dennis)

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with author Hank Quense to discuss his new collection of short stories and novellas entitled Tales From Gundarland.  

Jessica:  Readers would like to know a little bit about you and your writing.  Tell us how you came to be a writer.

Hank:  I live in Northern New Jersey with my wife.  We live about 12 miles from mid-town Manhattan often called the “Entertainment Capital of the Galaxy” because of all the extraterrestrials who go there on vacations.  These visitors enjoy plays, concerts and sporting events, but the most popular attraction is getting a gig driving a cab for a few days. 
To date, I've had published over forty short stories and fiction writing articles and four books.  Fool's Gold is a short novel that retells the ancient Rhinegold myth as sci-fi rather than fantasy.  Tunnel Vision is a collection of twenty previous published short stories.  Build a Better Story is a how-to ebook on fiction writing. Finally, there is Tales From Gundarland.

On my fiftieth birthday, I faced up to reality.  It was only a matter of time at work until I got tapped on the shoulder and told to take a hike so some young kid could have my office.  I needed something else to do after that and I decided I wanted to write fiction.

Jessica:  Your latest book, Tales From Gunderland, is now out in both ebook and paperback forms.  Tell me a little about the book and where the idea came from.

Hank:  It's a collection of eight humorous tales.  Six are short stories and two are novellas.  Here is my book blurb. 

“Laughter is like free health insurance: you can't get too much of it.  This book will give you enough laughs to boost your health.
It's filled with delightful entertainment.  Without commercial interruption!”

Gundarland is populated by humans, dwarfs, elves and other races; it's the backdrop for unique adventures, brilliant heroes and cunning villains.
There are six short stories and two novellas in here.  All are new. You'll meet some of Shakespeare's most famous characters, a warrior-cook, vigilantes, a trio of beautiful, lusty princesses to mention just a few of the memorable characters in the stories.
The idea to package the stories came about when I realized I had written a number of stories that take place in Gundarland and maybe it would be easier to print a collection of the stories rather than shop them around individually to various markets.

Jessica:  The success of a book depends largely on the audience.  Who is your ideal reader?  What are they like?

Hank:   Anyone who likes authors Terry Pratchett, Chris Moore or Tom Holt will like my stories.  I also think the YA market is another area.  Teenagers from around 13 or 14 and up will resonate with this collection.

Jessica:  Who are your writing and comedic influences?

Hank:  The three authors I mentioned above because I read a lot of their works.  I also get a plenty of inspiration from the front page of newspapers.  They are filled with bizarre tales and weird people.  I don't necessarily use the news items, but the way people respond to the situations described is a priceless resource for me.

Jessica:  Ha!  Agreed!  What has your experience been with reviews of the book – what are people saying about it?

Hank:  People who have read it love the stories and the characters.  Fran Lewis, for instance wrote in her review: "Hank Quense is the master of humor, satire and hilarity in this great book filled with magic, wizards, humans, and many races and, of course, some zany characters that I hope he brings back in his next book."   Another reader, Lynn Coyle, wrote: "Tales from Gundarland is a magical escape into a world of quirky and colorful characters. The author, Hank Quense, writes satirical spin-offs from traditional tales and cleverly blurs the archaic gender stereotypes. Romeo the Ballet-Dancer, Burga the Warrior-Cook, and Gerhilde the Independent Princess are just a few examples of the author's innovative and humorous characters. Tales from Gundarland is filled with lots of laughs, adventure, & wit -Don't miss out - Buy your ticket to Gunderland today!"

Jessica:  Is it safe to read these stories?

Hank:  A very good question. There are some basic precautions that readers should take.
First, check with your doctor to determine if you are healthy enough to take part in spontaneous laughter. Second, if you are suffering from a contagious disease such as the flu, wear a mask to limit the spread of airborne germs when you laugh out loud. Finally, no one should read my stories while driving a car or operating heavy machinery.

Jessica:  Where can people purchase Tales From Gunderland?

Hank:  It's at the Ipad store, Amazon both here and the UK, Smashwords, B&N and other places.  The simplest way to get access is to go to my website.  There you can find links to all the major sellers.

Here's a link to the book trailer:

Jessica:  Thanks, Hank!  I look forward to reading it, and I hope my blog readers will check it out!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My book FOUR THOUSAND MILES is available for pre-order now!!!!!!!

Four Thousand Miles

Four Thousand Miles

By: Jesi Lea Ryan | Other books by Jesi Lea Ryan
Published By: DCL Publications
ISBN # 9780984626717
Word Count: 95853
Heat Index   
Available in: Adobe Acrobat
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When Natalie Spencer loses both her career and marriage in the same morning, the emotional shock sends her on a spontaneous journey to England. There, she is nearly mugged in a Tube station, but an introverted songwriter named Gavin Ashby scares off her attackers. Recognizing Natalie’s fragile state, Gavin offers help and invites her to recuperate from her trauma at his country home.

As she adjusts to her new role and surroundings, Natalie finds healing by helping others. Gavin and his family begin to accept Natalie into their hearts, leading her to a choice…abandon her old life in the States and trust in a new chance at love, or flee once again?


Burning her last ounce of adrenaline, Natalie turned and ran to the station. A few steps inside the entrance, was a small flight of stairs. Natalie’s shoe slipped on the tile floor of the top step and sent her tumbling, landing on her hands and knees at the feet of a man. The boys came running in after her, but finding they were not alone, turned and ran back down the street.

Natalie rolled over into a sitting position and started sobbing. Her injuries were not serious; her tights were ripped on both knees where the skin was scrapped and bleeding and her left wrist ached from her landing. She sobbed for more than her scraped knees. The flood of emotion that she struggled to repress since yesterday morning came bubbling up. The tears stung her tired eyes and mixed with mucus running from her nose.

“Are you okay?” the man asked. “What can I do to help?” His voice was kind.
“No, I’m not okay,” she cried hysterically. “I’m lost and I haven’t slept in two days and I have nowhere to go and no one knows I’m here and I just need sleep and I’m...” She drifted off from exhaustion.

“You’re American.”

Natalie laid her head down on the dirty tile floor of the Tube station and curled up into a fetal ball. She thought she might die there on that grime-covered flooring, but she didn’t care. Her eyelids would no longer open for her. Her head spun with both mental and physical exhaustion. How did she get here? Where had she gone wrong in her life? How had everything gotten so far out of control? She just wanted to cry and go to sleep and never wake up.

The man stooped down near her and brushed her hair back off her face with his fingers. “Shhhh…” he whispered. “It’s going to be okay. Is there anyone you would like me to call, or anywhere you want me to take you?”

“No,” she whined wiping her face on the soft cotton of his shirt. “Leave me here. I can’t move anymore.” Her eyes were incapable of opening. Sleep nipped at the edges of her mind, trying to pull her under. She wouldn’t be able to fight it off much longer. She just wanted to give in to her exhaustion.

“Oh, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” he whispered soothingly with his warm breath close to her hair. “Let’s get you to bed. Can you stand?”

The man lifted Natalie to her feet. Whether it was the exhaustion, the hunger or an emotional unwillingness to move, Natalie’s legs gave out. With a sigh, he scooped her up in his arms, cradling her against his chest. Her body went limp as he carried her out of the station.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Review: MY BIOLOGICAL FAMILY by Helen Johansen

I debated with myself about reviewing this book for a lot of reasons.  First, it is not a published book.  It was written by my great-aunt Helen and distributed throughout my family.  Second, I have some issues with the subject of the book and how it was told.  What made me decide to write a comment on this was actually my post last week regarding the burying of family secrets and how those stories could have historical importance.  A lot of people in my family are upset by this book.  They see it as an invasion of privacy and claim there are a lot of misrepresentation of facts.  Maybe there are.  I wouldn’t know.  My grandmother and many other people written about, are deceased. 

This story revolves around my grandmother’s family living in Nebraska during the Depression.  When my great-grandmother died of malnutrition, she left behind five daughters and two sons ranging in age from two months to twelve years old.  My great-grandfather was an alcoholic and the family lived in poverty.  A year later, my great-grandfather was arrested and sent to prison for raping his two eldest daughters and impregnating one of them.  After his arrest, the children went into an orphanage.  The only sibling to go on to be adopted was the baby, Helen. 

Without going into the private details of people still living, I’ll just say that the six elder kids lead rough lives.  A few went on to find happiness as adults.  The others were emotionally scarred and went on to raise the next generation in disturbing and unhealthy atmospheres.  Helen was the fortunate one.  She is too young to remember her biological parents or the orphanage.  She grew up loved and cared for and healthy.  She talks in the books beginning about how fortunate she was and how lucky she was not to have a life like her siblings. 

My question is, was this even Helen’s story to tell?  Ninety percent of the story revolves around other people, with Helen reporting gossip that she had heard.  Sure, the ‘main characters’ were her biological family, but she never lived the horrors that they did.  Even I found facts that were incorrect, and I don’t pretend to understand all that went on in that family.  As far as I’m aware, none of the family was even interviewed.  The first they knew of their histories being documented and made public was when the bound copy showed up in the mail. 

Molestation, incest, physical abuse, malnutrition and poverty are hell on children.  The way they deal with it can range from burying it to the point of amnesia all the way to broadcasting their story via talk show circuit.  Is it their story to tell or does anyone with a stake in the DNA have the right to share it?  Should these types of stories be told without the consent of the victims?  How much time should have to pass before it is time to document family histories?  I honestly don’t know the answers to these questions.  If the emotions are too raw, these histories can be hurtful to those involved.  If too much time passes, the facts run the risk of being distorted.  Both of these things happened with Aunt Helen’s book.  I’m curious about what you all think about these issues.  What are the responsibilities of the family historian? 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Review: BLOODY GOOD by Georgia Evans

It’s been a while since I reviewed a vamp book.  This one has actually been in my purse for the last month or two, for reading while waiting in doctor’s offices and at the DMV.  I probably could have finished this in one sitting if I wasn't forced to put it down constantly.

Anyway…Bloody Good takes place during WWII in England.  The Nazi’s have recruited four vampires to parachute into England, pretend to be locals and sabotage munitions plants—basically destroying England from within.  The Nazi’s also have a fairy held hostage.  Before the vamps left, they all fed off of her, which magically links them with her.  She is forced to keep track of the vamps and report to her Nazi captures.  (They don’t trust the vamps to actually obey and pull off their mission.)

Alice is the town doctor in a small village in Surrey.  When one of the vamps is hurt in a rough landing, she tries to help him, not knowing what he is.  He disappears on her, kicking off the first of many strange events in the town.  Animals and one human turn up dead and drained of all of their blood, an elderly woman is arrested as a Nazi spy, an old man is able to lift a building to save two young boys and Peter is attacked twice by an evil being.

Peter is a former veterinary student and Conscientious Objector.  After being released from prison for refusing to fight, he is assigned by the government to work as Alice’s assistant.  At first, she dislikes him—she has brothers on the continent, risking their lives in the war.  However, Peter has a very good reason not to fight and eventually wins Alice over.  Together, and with the help of Alice’s Pixie grandmother, they set out to uncover the cause of the bazaar occurrences and put an end to them. 

This book was a light, fun read.  I didn’t get overly sucked in, by either the plot or the characters; however, I thought the idea behind the Nazi’s using vamps to fight the Allied Forces was inventive.  I learned a lot about what life in England was like during the air raids and bomb attacks.  The story was also entertaining enough.  I know there are a couple more books to this series.  I’d read them if I came across them somewhere, but I don’t feel a burning need to run out and buy them now. 

Overall, I give Bloody Good

Plot – 3 bookmarks
Character Development – 2 bookmarks
Love Story – 3 bookmarks
Interpretation of Vampire Lore – 2 ½ bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Naomi Watts (Alice), Orlando Bloom (Peter), Sandy Duncan (Gran), Anthony Hopkins (Sergeant Pendragon)