Friday, September 28, 2012

Review: Walk to Paradise Garden

John Armitage knows he has met the one woman he wants to spend his life with, but telling her how he feels proves harder than he expected. World War and the fact that Evelyne is already married are only two of the problems. It's a rocky start, but this is a love that lasts nearly a century. 

Walk to Paradise Garden is a beautifully written love story, but not the typical boy meets girl, happily ever after kind of love story. John and Evelyne face uncounted trials during their lives together, from war and personal tragedy to secrets and crisis of heart. 

The field of characters is deep. You meet many characters that leave an impression and none that seem shallow or pointless. Many of the characters are only in the story for a short while due to the span of time this story covers, but readers will enjoy each one while they are present. 

John and Evelyne are the overall focus of this story. Their relationship contains a lot of depth. This couple faces many of the challenges every couple faces, but they also face multiple tragedies that are life-altering. I was impressed with the way Campbell was able to balance the day to day trials with the more profound ones. Just when you thought everything was beginning to even out, their whole world was shaken again. My only issue with these two characters was that they occasionally lacked deeply emotional responses. They were of a generation where proper etiquette was valued even during tragedy, but this did make it hard to connect with them at times. 

Bertie was a favorite of mine. He was quite different from his parents in some ways. The Armitage's were eager to make a difference in the world. While this was very admirable, Bertie was a bit more of an average person. He was building his own life while still being a part of theirs. I never had any trouble connecting with Bertie. His emotions were easy to connect with and I became very invested in his story. 

There were a few areas that gave me a little trouble, and they mainly had to do with the style this story was written in. Walk to Paradise Garden is written in a memoir-like style. As often happens with this style, this book's format occasionally caused the story flow to be a little disjointed and some rather interesting events were only skimmed over. The murder of John's uncle could have been a whole story by itself, but was instead solved quickly and the characters moved on to continue the main story. I'm not a big memoir reader for these reasons, but those who enjoy the style will have no problems with this at all. 

Would I recommend this book? Yes. It was very well written, had engaging characters, and was an impressive love story. 

Who would I recommend this book to? Even though this is not a memoir, it reads like one. This could have been a real family. Memoir readers will love this. Historical fiction readers will also enjoy this book. This is a romance, but not the type serious romance readers will be looking for. This book is a journey. Those looking for an inspiring story will want to pick up a copy. 

Walk to Paradise Garden is available from Amazon and Kindle

You can also enter to win an ebook copy of Walk To Paradise Garden by leaving a comment and clicking the Rafflecopter button below. 

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Favorites: Walk to Paradise Garden

My favorite character in Walk to Paradise Garden was Bertie. This book was packed full of great characters, but Bertie really made an impression on me. Bertie is adopted by the Armitage's, who are wealthy and give him many opportunities, but his life isn't exactly charmed. Bertie came from a difficult situation. His roots never really leave him even though he falls in love with his new parents. 

Bertie is grateful for what being adopted by the Armitage's means, and loves them very deeply, but he also builds his own life. His story is a smaller aspect of the book as a whole, but I looked forward to his chapters. His charming personality and depth of thought, emotion, and love will draw readers in. 

Walk to Paradise Garden is available from Amazon and Kindle

You can also enter to win an ebook copy of Walk To Paradise Garden by leaving a comment and clicking the Rafflecopter button below. 

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Interview: John Campbell

Now let's find out more about what it took to write a 90 year love story. 

1.What was you inspiration for "Walk to Paradise Garden?" I am the organic type of writer, a pantser rather than a plotter. So, my initial inspiration was hazy at best.

I was reading the biography of Maestro Arturo Toscanini and became amazed at the fullness of his lifespan. To have interacted with Russia’s Imperial family and with sensational composers, such as Verdi and Puccini, to have lived through the madness of the World Wars all the way up to see Elvis Presley’s gyrations and the birth of Rock and Roll (which ultimately may have done him in), well, all of that sparked my imagination.

Thus, at the outset, my aim was to illustrate how the world changed as a result of the Great War, and to do so through the eyes of two dynamic characters, a married couple. I wanted this couple to be both real (relatable) and inspirational—inspirational in a humanitarian way—and their story to cover a pretty long period of time.

2.While the story is fictional, the characters were in some ways based on real people, correct? can you tell us a little about these individuals? Very generally, I paralleled my characters, John and Evelyne Armitage, with the Armour family of Lake Forest, IL. America was fast becoming the industrial leader of the world, early in the twentieth century (a bit before, to be exact). By making John the son of a Chicago industrial baron in the business of meatpacking and related products, he and Evelyne would have the resources to pursue their philanthropic dreams.

My father had worked at Lake Forest College during my childhood. When I would accompany him to his office, we would pass the various Armour estates, which introduced me to such wealth. I’d also read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and wove into the story some of the era’s Socialist concerns, as well.

3. For those who aren't familiar with where the title came from, can you tell us more about the reference? Originally, my book was entitled Armitage House. When I was writing a big scene near the end of the story, wherein Evelyne is metaphorically using the idea of gardening while discussing positive childhood development through quality education, I had recalled the intermezzo by Frederick Delius, “The Walk to the Paradise Garden”. Despite a Midwestern element, the story is very British with more than half of it taking place in London and Sussex. The warmth that John and Evelyne demonstrated while caring for the many disadvantaged children in their work, along with the British setting, fit the bucolic music and added a measure of depth. Throughout the story, one might appreciate noting the garden backdrops into which some key scenes are set.

The title also indicates a journey, and that’s what the story had evolved into: a lifetime journey.  

Here’s a YouTube clip of the music by Delius (I should add, please note the artists in this clip and the following one, as well).

4. The main characters face many personal trials. How did you balance the emotions in this books to keep it from getting too downhearted? To be honest, I didn’t give that a thought. John and Evelyne became so real to me that their character’s dictated this balance. I can only add that a little dry humor and a sense of the absurd can often refresh us in life. I tried to pepper the story with such bits of relief to offset the edginess. 

5.Bertie was a wonderful character. Without giving away too much, how did Bertie impact the story and the characters? Bertie personified John and Evelyne’s work, to which they became so devoted. But again, I hadn’t planned on this. I enjoyed creating him, such as when John first met him and was taken with the boy’s large brown eyes. Those big dark pools looked back at him, whether assessing him or pleading for mercy, he couldn’t tell. 

Through Bertie, the story takes on added momentum, resulting in a turning point and the crux of life’s lessons therein.

6.This book spans 90 years. How did you plot out over such a long period of time? Again, the intent was to cover a long lifespan. Each decade offers its own charms and I tried to capture them as the characters grew. England in the 1920s: a classic whodunit during a country house party (and used for the purpose of foreshadowing). Paris in the 1930s: the Follies-Bergere with Josephine Baker, romance, ancient lanes leading to mysterious things like the secret Russian rescue group. Later, Hitler’s Blitz. Chicago in the 1950s and so on.

7. What is the message you hope readers take away from this book? A rich, rewarding life comes from being generous and humane. We need people and art more than we need financial accumulation, as learned in 1929 and repeatedly since. And, how fine it is to leave behind something lovely that can grow.

8. Who are your favorite authors? Anne Perry, Charles Todd, Will Thomas, Martha Grimes, Caro Peacock and Jeffrey Archer.

9. Do you have any interesting habits or rituals when you write? Sometimes, I’ll turn on appropriate music, but in short order I go deaf as I submerge into a story. 
Beverages at my side: I don’t suggest martinis (made a few tactical errors trying this), strong coffee in the mornings, pots and pots of tea later. My current book involves the Chinese in London’s Limehouse in the 1920s, so of late I’m sipping various Chinese teas.
Sometimes I write while our Chihuahua insists on stretching across my left wrist and our poodle rests his chin on my knee. They get a bit needy if I write too much in a day.

10. Can you tell us about any other books or projects you are working on? Lastly, I’m a third of the way through A Lark Ascending. Again, I’m playing off the music of a British composer (this time, Ralph Vaughan Williams). Although this music is pastoral in its imagery—and while my character is struggling to survive in London’s seedy East End in the 1920s—the music nonetheless conveys an order in life that nourishes and succeeds. 

Malcolm Roberts is twelve years old at the outset and is left to his own devices because his mother had died of the Spanish Flu and his father is in the throes of shell shock, his demons particularly being night terrors and alcoholism. Malcolm, naturally curious, makes some discoveries on the streets and acquires a number of people who want him dead.

“Chinamen” in Limehouse, a flamboyant auntie with her house full of mysterious bohemian artists and The Battle of Cable Street all test Malcolm’s ingenuity. 
A sneak peek of this book can be found at

Here’s a YouTube clip of The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams.


Walk to Paradise Garden is available from Amazon and Kindle

You can also enter to win an ebook copy of Walk To Paradise Garden by leaving a comment and clicking the Rafflecopter button below. 

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Introducing: John Campbell

Writing a single story that encompasses 90 years is a monumental task. Learn more about the writer behind this love story that spans almost a century. 

"John B Campbell has lived his life along the shores of Lake Michigan, from Chicago's northern suburbs to the Wisconsin home where he and his wife Pamela reside. Educated at Lake Forest College and Illinois Wesleyan University, he also studied privately with Larry Combs, long-time principal clarinetist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. As a musician, John has performed in such foreign cities as Moscow, Amsterdam, Paris and London, developing an interest in history and writing along the way. Walk to Paradise Garden is his first novel. He and Pamela enjoy volunteer teaching, hiking at national parks, kayaking and opera. Both are avid readers."

You can connect with John on his blog

Walk to Paradise Garden is available from Amazon and Kindle

You can also enter to win an ebook copy of Walk To Paradise Garden by leaving a comment and clicking the Rafflecopter button below. 

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Monday, September 24, 2012

New Book: Walk to Paradise Garden

Walk to Paradise Garden is categorized under historical fiction, but really it spans 90 years! Follow the Armitage's journey from a British medical outpost in the midst of war to a philanthropic mission that encompasses the world. 

"The world goes mad in 1914. And in the chaos, on the blood-soaked fields of the Ypres Salient, young humanitarian John Armitage meets a British nurse, Evelyne Grenville, a lady with admirable courage and a secret. Could they possibly make a difference, offering solace at the Western Front? Will Evelyne's secret life bring calamity on them both?

Their ensuing philanthropic life course encounters joy, forgiveness, horrific tragedy and a special-needs boy who shows the way to recovery.

It's a ninety-year journey for the Armitages. It's a Walk to Paradise Garden."

Walk to Paradise Garden is available from Amazon and Kindle

You can also enter to win an ebook copy of Walk To Paradise Garden by leaving a comment and clicking the Rafflecopter button below. 

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Review: Trust No One

The last thing Taylor expected when she stepped into the backyard was to be knocked down by an explosion. When she realizes the explosion came from her house, and her husband is nowhere to be found - neither in the demolished house or out - panic starts to set in. Her life was happy, ordinary...but she soon begins to realize it was all built on lies, and that those lies may very well get her killed. 

Trust No One drops you right into the action from the first page, although you start where you might not expect. Before getting to the explosion, you are introduced to the all consuming need for revenge that sets off this whole mess. I certainly don't want to give anything away, the death in the first chapter is absolutely chilling, and sets the tone for the novel very well. Follow that up with an explosion...needless to say it was a great start to the book. 

Even with the shocking events of the first few chapters, this story wouldn't have been nearly as engaging if it hadn't been for the characters. Taylor was a great character. She is completely out of her element, but she is incredibly strong and smart. She muddles her way through each bad situation without any 007-inspired gadgets or special abilities, which is really pretty impressive. Cochran is the agent assigned to protect her, and I instantly took a liking to him. He's also a strong character, but not infallible. I really appreciated the way he handled situations. As for the bad guys (one of which shall remain nameless), they were chilling. Accawi is creepy, cold, and scary, which made him a fantastic villain. The other one, well, he was just plain disturbing...another great bad guy. I was rooting for Taylor and Cochran, but worried that the bad guys would get them in the end because they were so good. The characters also had great emotions and reactions. I really felt like I was in their heads and experiencing everything right along with them. 

In this type of story, the ending will make or break the whole rest of the book for me. If there are holes, or the story takes the easy, lackluster way out, a book will lose my recommendation no matter how good the rest of it was. Trust No One did not have that problem. I thought it had a very solid ending that made sense, was exciting, and wrapped everything up. Having said that, I did guess the bad guy and his motive about halfway through the book. Usually that takes something away for me, but I still really enjoyed the ending. 

Now here come the caveats. There is some bad language, but it's not profuse. While there were no sex scenes, there were some sexual references. Along with the dark motives behind the attacks in the opening chapter, this book makes my "Not for my Nieces" list. 

My only other complaint about this book was that I had a hard time liking Taylor's husband, Phil. He was absent in the book for so long, where as Cochran - a character I really liked - was present and involved in protecting Taylor. I found myself rooting for Cochran over Phil at times. I think if Phil had had more of a presence I would have felt differently. 

Overall, this was an entertaining and exciting book. The strength of the characters enhanced the story, and the plot was solid throughout. 

Would I recommend this book? Yes, absolutely. I enjoyed it from start to finish. 

Who would I recommend this book to? Just about any action and adventure reader out there will enjoy this book. Readers looking for a strong female character will latch onto Taylor. Many espionage enthusiasts will like this twist on the classic format. This is a book both men and women can get into as well. 

Trust No One is available now from amazon and Barnes and Noble.

You can also enter to win a signed paperback copy of Trust No One by leaving a comment and clicking the Rafflecopter button below!

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Favorites: Trust No One

I really enjoy a good action/adventure story, whether it be book or movie. I loved the original Mission:Impossible, and I'm even a James Bond fan, although I haven't loved the new ones as much as the classics. So, I was excited to get a copy of Trust None One to review. The cover definitely hints at dangerous and exciting, doesn't it?

One of my favorite aspects of this book was one I really didn't expect. I love the gadgets that come with spies. I love the superhero-esque qualities they all possess. So when I realized the main character, Taylor, had neither gadgets, nor special abilities, you might think I was disappointed. 

Actually, it was quite the opposite. 

Reading about a regular woman being very abruptly dropped into a world of espionage and danger with nothing to fall back on was quite interesting. I was often left wondering how she would get out of a situation without the typical Bond-type scenes. It was a rather unique twist on the genre. 

Trust No One is available now from amazon and Barnes and Noble.

You can also enter to win a signed paperback copy of Trust No One by leaving a comment and clicking the Rafflecopter button below!

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Interview: Laurel Bradley

Yesterday we were introduced to Laurel Bradley, her life, and her family - a rocket scientist son in the bunch, no less - but now it's time to learn more about the inspiration behind Trust No One and how it was developed. 

1. What was your inspiration for "Trust No One?" The theme of true love lasting through adversity was the inspiration for the book. “Trust No One” is a suspense, not a romance, but that doesn’t stop me from believing that love is a decision, a decision that requires work and is worth all the work it requires.

2. In Taylor's eyes, life is perfect. Would you characterize Taylor as naive for not suspecting the secrets, or was her husband, Phil, that good at hiding that no one would have known? Taylor is an ordinary woman who expects ordinary things from her husband. She doesn’t suspect the secrets because it never occurs to her that she needs to. The signs were extremely subtle. Even if she knew what to look for, she probably wouldn’t have seen it. And she had no reason to look. Who among us looks at our life and our loving spouse and thinks he or she is up to something nefarious? Not me. And not Taylor. When the book starts, life is pretty perfect for her. She’s happily married. Both her husband’s business and hers are doing well. It’s a gorgeous day. They are thinking of starting a family. She’s not naïve. She’s living the dream. And then…

3. After an explosion at her house, Taylor is thrown into a completely unknown world. How did you balance her being scared and unfamiliar with her being smart enough to stay alive? That took some work. There’s a learning curve involved in anything, and hiding isn’t as easy as it seems. We are so connected to the grid—our cell phones have GPS, we rely on debit cards or credit cards instead of cash, there are cameras on buildings and machines that monitor our movements. We are constantly being data-mined—facebook, free email accounts, Bluetooth devices... It’s a bit disconcerting when you think about it. Taylor makes mistakes, but she figures out what to do and not to do fairly quickly. There are moments when she delves into sorrow, but she never gave into despair.

4. Agent Cochran ends up in charge of protecting Taylor. Can you tell us a little about his character? Mark Cochran is a strong, reliable guy who wants to believe that people are good, but his work experience has not helped in that department. FBI agents don’t tend to see the best of society or the most healthy interpersonal relationships. So, he admires the faith Taylor has in Phil but thinks she is misguided in her belief. Nevertheless, he would like someone to believe that firmly in him and love him in that way. He finds those qualities attractive and that made it a struggle for him to maintain an appropriate professional distance from Taylor. But he’s a really good guy with a lot of integrity, so he didn’t even flirt with line much less cross it. I like him so much I’ve been pondering what happens to him post “Trust No One.” I’m not certain yet, but we may see him again in the future.

5. Through most of the book Phil is absent, or at least absent in Taylor's mind. How did you determine when to bring him back into the story? Since something big took him away, either that thing needed to be resolved or something else big had to be about to happen in order for him to return. Since he and Taylor needed to work on some things together if there was any chance of their marriage surviving, it was clear that he needed to be brought back when he was. Their first few scenes back together were tricky. Those scenes received several rewrites before I got them where I wanted them.

6. The other side to this story relates to Accawi, a man bent on revenge. Did you plan out each step he took in advance, or let the story work itself out? This is a plotter vs pantser question. A pantser being someone who flies by the seat of their pants. Pantser describes my writing style. I’d truly love to have a plotter personality, but I don’t. Therefore, I let the story work itself out. Which means…(looks left and right to make certain no one is listening). Okay, trade secret here. Sometimes authors back-write. Yes, it’s true. Sometimes authors go back into a story and insert snippets of information (and sometimes entire scenes) to explain why a character did something. Accawi had a bit of that going on. I knew what he was doing and a little bit of the why, but the full details got added later as Accawi developed as a character.

7. Can you tell us about any research you did for this book? As far as formal research goes, I took Rae Monet’s FBI class. Anything I got right, I thank her for. All the mistakes are mine. I did some fact checking on-line when I had questions about location details. Most of the rest was more informal research. When I crawled through storm sewers as a college student (not something I recommend), I never imagined I’d use that experience in a book. The arachnophobia, claustrophobia, belief in love and coffee addiction are things I share with Taylor.

8. Who are your favorite authors? I am extremely eclectic when it comes to reading. I like Jennifer Cruise, Mary Stewart, G.K. Chesterton, Harlan Coben, Julia Quinn, Diana Gabaldon, and Ken Follet, to name a few.

9. Do you have any interesting habits or rituals when you write? Not really. I need silence and coffee. The quiet is easier to come by since only one of my five children still lives at home. The coffee continues to remain elusive. I start the day with a huge steaming mug and then spend the rest of the day wondering why my coffee cup is either empty or hiding in the microwave.

There is one little quirk, but it has more to do with inspiration than writing rituals. I’ve heard that some authors jump up to write when inspiration hits them. If I get an idea when it isn’t time to write, I acknowledge the idea and tell it to wait. Later, when I’m ready to write, I call up the idea and develop it. I’ve found that actively thinking about an idea when I don’t have time to write seems to use up the idea. Then, when I do have time to write, it isn’t there. So…I tell it to wait. This has worked very well for me, but I am told by other authors that it is unusual.

10. Can you tell us about any other books or projects you are working on? At the moment, I’m in the editing process with another title to be published by Storyteller Publishing January, 8, 2013. “For the Love of David” is the story about what happens when the college student who abandoned her baby finds the woman who rescued it and steals the infant back. “For the Love of David” is women's fiction set in 1980 Wisconsin. The plot was inspired by a story I heard on the radio years ago where a woman found a newborn in a bag outside the bank where she worked. She, of course, turned it over to the authorities. But I couldn't help wondering: what if?

I’m also doing rewrites on a suspense that takes place in the Congo in the early 1960’s. It’s about a CDC doctor who is kidnapped to work on a hemorrhagic virus that has wiped out entire villages. 

Thank you to Laurel for answering my questions!

You can learn more about Laurel and her books on her website. And don't forget to stop by and check out Laurel's other book as well:  A Wish in Time, Crème Brulee Upset, and For the Love of David

Trust No One is available now from amazon and Barnes and Noble.

You can also enter to win a signed paperback copy of Trust No One by leaving a comment and clicking the Rafflecopter button below!

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Introducing: Laurel Bradley

Before we dive into how Laurel Bradley created Trust No One, let's learn a little more about her. 

"Laurel Bradley, author of Trust No One, A Wish in Time, and Crème Brûlée Upset, lives in a small town in Wisconsin with her handsome husband and the youngest of their five charming children. The first three kids are now men. The eldest is grown and flown. He’s a rocket scientist, no less. The second is in seminary discerning the Catholic priesthood. The third just graduated from college in three years (yes!) and got married to a wonderful young woman this summer. We are thrilled. Number four is the sole girl. She has just begun her sophomore year of college. So…there’s only the youngest son at home. He’s amazed how much mowing and shoveling there is to do and shocked that his older siblings think he has it made.

When she isn’t writing, Laurel enjoys kayaking in the summer, cross country skiing in the winter and reading all year long. She also paints in watercolor and creates pysanky (Ukrainian eggs). At the moment, she is immersed in the second round of edits on her women’s fiction title, For the Love of David, which will be released in January 2013. Laurel loves to hear from fans and aspiring authors. Please contact her at"

You can learn more about Laurel and her books on her website. And don't forget to stop by and check out Laurel's other book as well:  A Wish in Time, Crème Brulee Upset, and For the Love of David

Trust No One is available now from amazon and Barnes and Noble.

You can also enter to win a signed paperback copy of Trust No One by leaving a comment and clicking the Rafflecopter button below!

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Monday, September 17, 2012

New Book: Trust No One

The cover of Trust No One instantly gave me a Bond-type vibe, but Taylor is about the farthest thing from a gadget-toting super spy as you can get! Read on to find out more about how Taylor ends up running for her life with little more than a coffee mug and a vague idea of where safety may lie. 

"IT’S ALL ABOUT SECRETS. Taylor Wilson’s husband, Phil, has them. His best friend and art agent, Sean, has them. Everyone has them except Taylor—yet she’s the one someone is trying to kill.

Moments before a bomb destroys Taylor’s home, Phil disappears. Soon after, her landscape design business blows up, as well. FBI agent Mark Cochran puts her into protective custody, but whoever is behind the bombings continues to stalk her. Cochran thinks Taylor’s husband is the culprit, but she refuses to accept it. She believes the cryptic messages Phil is sending her are proof he’s trying to protect her and lead her to where he is hiding. However, while searching for Phil, Taylor learns he may not be as innocent as she believed.


Trust No One is available now from amazon and Barnes and Noble.

You can also enter to win a signed paperback copy of Trust No One by leaving a comment and clicking the Rafflecopter button below!

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Fall Into Fantasy Giveaway Hop

The Edible Bookshelf is joining the Fall Into Fantasy Hop hosted by I am a Reader, Not a Writer and The Write Path

The Fall Into Fantasy Hop will run from October 16th - 21st. 

Every blog that is part of the hop will be giving away a fantasy book! I will be giving away a signed copy of my newest YA urban fantasy novel, Inquest:Volume 1 of the Destroyer Trilogy

Interested? Learn more about Inquest and then check out all the other blogs and their giveaways as well. 

Inquest:Volume 1 of the Destroyer Trilogy

"What would you do if your destiny was to bring chaos, and the end of the world? For Libby Sparks, turning sixteen means only one thing…death. Guardian rule demands she attend the ritualistic Inquest that will unveil her talents and secure her place in society. But that isn’t all that will be revealed in Libby’s case. The more talents you have the better, at least to some degree. Four or five talents will guarantee you a life of luxury, but seven…that is the mark of the Destroyer. 

Libby knows her Inquest will reveal her to be the Guardians’ greatest enemy. Their law requires her death before her eighteenth birthday. If she lives, prophecy foretells that the world will fall into chaos and destruction. Once her destiny is revealed, Libby is abandoned when her mother throws her out, her boyfriend tries to kill her, and her best friend shuts her out. Only Milo, a slightly grungy outcast, seems willing to be her friend—but Libby soon realizes he has secrets of his own. His secrets may very well have everything to do with her own destiny. 

In order to make it to her eighteenth birthday, Libby must bury her talents and convince the world she is harmless. Her plan only lasts until Milo is put in danger and Libby is forced to choose. Abandon her friend to save her own life, or embrace her destiny and truly become the Destroyer." 

Praise for Inquest: "Delsheree Gladden’s breathtaking dystopian young adult novel, Inquest, is one of the most brilliant books of 2012. The characters are full of life and the story will keep you turning pages until the very end. It’s a thrill ride you’ll never forget.” —Apryl Baker, author of The Promise and The Awakening 

“Inquest is pure story, and I love it. Gladden seamlessly blends realities from our world with the extraordinary fantasies from hers, to create a story that’s easy to get lost in. Her characters are flawed and perfectly irrational like the rest of us, and it was nice to read a YA novel with a protagonist that was more human than hero. I’d honestly recommend this book to anyone that’s a fan of fiction." —Jesse Anderson, author of Trailer Park Juggernauts

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Review: A Life Worth Living

Living up to his potential has always been a challenge for Matt. The perfect plan for his future is supposed to take car of that, but a car accident which leaves him paralyzed changes everything. Now Matt must relearn even the simple things like turning his head without falling over. When Abby steps in to help him adjust to his new life, the chance at a relationship between them nearly sends her running. 

One thing this book does not lack is realism. I was really interested in the actual recovery Matt goes through in this story. I had no idea how much a person who has been paralyzed has to relearn, or how hard it becomes to do even the simplest physical movements. I learned a lot, and it actually served to enhance the overall story. The reader is learning right along with Matt. When he faces something difficult, you feel his frustration. When he triumphs, you cheer along with him. 

That leads me into the next topic. Emotion. Matt and Abby's story has plenty of emotion. They both go through the gamut in this story. Matt is facing his new physical limitations and learning to deal with them, and Abby is trying to overcome a traumatic past and start living her life in earnest. Both go through immense frustration at times. You can't help but crumble right along with them. All through these difficult times you're hoping that things will work out, but Lorrie does a great job of giving you just enough doubt about how things will end to keep you reading. And when there are moments of joy, you'll get sucked in and laugh and cheer right along with them. 

It's hard to get wrapped up in a story's emotion without having good characters. Matt gave me a little trouble at first. His general attitude was a little bit annoying in the first few chapters and I was worried I wouldn't like him, but after the first few chapters Matt seemed to develop a little more depth and really became more likable for me. I was really rooting for him at the end of the book and cared about him being happy. With Abby, I liked her from the start. She is slightly damaged, but trying to overcome her past. From the first moment she felt very real and I wanted her to be happy. 

Now let's talk romance. Abby and Matt both have screwed up lives in one way or another, but they both want and deserve to be happy. This is a romance, but in reality the main focus of the story is on Matt picking up his life. I was expecting a little more of a focus on the romance side, but I did enjoy following Matt's life as well. There was a few short sex scenes. They weren't particularly descriptive, but there were also sexual topics discussed in the book. Along with some bad language, these would keep me from recommending it for younger readers. 

The only other issue I had was that the twist were somewhat predictable. Matt can't remember what happened the night of his accident, but when the events of that night were revealed, it was pretty much what I had already suspected it would be. Having said that, it really was the best way to go with the story. Even though I had already guessed the twist, I thought it was a good move. With Abby, I felt differently. Abby shares a story from a past relationship, and when she did, I suspected this would come up again. It did come up again in the exact way I had anticipated. In this case I had hoped Lorrie would come up with something more unique that would have led to the same outcome. 

Overall, this was a good read. I enjoyed Matt and Abby's story. I thought the romance could have been a little stronger, but watching both Matt and Abby develop throughout the book was very enjoyable. 

Would I recommend this book? Yes. It is a heartwarming tale of overcoming personal tragedy. 

Who would I recommend this book to? It is for adults, not one I'd recommend to teens because of the sexual aspects and language. Even with a male as one of the main characters, it leans more toward female readers than male. It will appeal to drama and romance readers, although hard core romance readers may be disappointed that the relationship wasn't as much of a focus as it could have been. 

A Life Worth Living is available now from Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Favorites: A Life Worth Living

One of the aspects I found really interesting in this book was the realism. Lorrie spent a lot of time doing research on spinal cord injuries and the treatment and physical therapy that follows. With some writers, this could lead to a lot of technical information that bogs down the story, but this wasn't the case with Lorrie. 

Following Matt through his recovery never felt like a lesson. The details provided about how a person has to relearn how to adjust their body wait when they are paralyzed and other aspects was not only interesting, but really helped highlight how difficult adjusting to his new life was for Matt. Every therapy session felt very realistic, and that realism helped to build a solid story that could draw readers in. 

A Life Worth Living is available now from Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Interview: Lorrie Kruse

Yesterday you got to know more about Lorrie, now learn more about where the idea for A Life Worth Living came from and how it went from the idea stage to being a published novel. 

1. What was your inspiration for "A Life Worth Living?" A cooking experiment – one part man, one part woman, one part tragedy, one part conflict equals an emotional read. Actually, I was looking for a creative way to get a man and a woman together and came up with Matt’s accident but the book turned into something much deeper than I’d originally anticipated and I learned so much in the writing of the story. I definitely learned to appreciate my blessings.

2. Can you tell us a little about Matt's character and how his outlook shapes his story? Matt is really a fun guy. Nobody can say he’s perfect because he’s far from it. He’s messy and disorganized but he’s loyal, lovable, and he’d give you the shirt off his back. However, he can’t see what a wonderful person he is. Instead, he sees what he’s not, and when he’s injured, all he sees is an end to all of his dreams if he never walks again.

3. Can you tell us about Abby and how her background influences her side of this story? Abby is sweet. I don’t think there’s a mean bone in her body. But she’s not perfect either. She’s got love issues. Her father left her and her mother after her mother sustained a head injury in an automobile accident, leaving her mother disabled. After that, young Abby was passed from family member to family member, being shipped off to a new family just as she became accustomed to the prior family. Therefore, she’s learned that love hurts. She doesn’t want to hurt, so she runs from love. Needless to say, she’s shaken when she realizes Matt’s becoming more than just a friend.

4. Matt's accident changes his life. Without giving away too much, in what way to you think it is changed most profoundly? The reader quickly discovers Matt’s got a few insecurities when it comes to how he views his worth, even before the accident. He just feels he doesn’t measure up. I think he’s set the success bar so high that it’s impossible to ever reach the level he believes is expected of him. Of course, once he has the accident, he feels he’s slipped even further away from where he thinks he needs to be. Matt’s greatest growth is in learning that no matter what happens to him, he is loved and he is worthy of that love.

5. Abby's love life success and professional don't match up. How does this influence her decision making? Every time Abby’s let herself love someone, be it family love or romantic love, she’s been burned. She protects herself from love, but she still needs an outlet for her caring side. That’s what makes her such a great physical therapist. She really cares about her patients. Wrapping herself up in her work is safe. There’s no risk of becoming attached to a patient because they’ll soon be going home, back to their own lives. But if she’s in a situation that hints at romantic love, her internal need to protect herself will have her back peddling, trying to keep her heart safe. It’s kind of a catch 22. She wants to be loved, but she’s terrified of love.

6. Because this story focuses around a spinal cord injury, much time is spent in the hospital. How much research did you do for this story? At first, I didn’t do any research. In the early versions of the book, I just wrote what I thought made sense and made it up as I went along. Then, I found out you can’t do that. It’s a fictional story, but you can’t make it up. (Huh???) So I set out on a journey to learn as much as I could. I scoured the internet and read whatever non-fiction books I could find on the topic, but I didn’t stop there because I wanted as much realism as possible. One of my best sources was a major trauma hospital (St. Joseph Hospital in Marshfield, Wisconsin). They allowed me to come and interview their staff (trauma nurses, physical therapists, and a paralyzed social worker) for hours on end and several of the people I interviewed allowed me to repeatedly contact them with further questions. My other great source of information is a paralyzed man who lives in the same town I live in. Jeff let me ask him zillions of questions and he was so open with his answers. He’s the one who inspired me to write the mall restroom scene. I will be forever grateful to everyone at St. Joseph’s who helped me and to Jeff Mattmiller. Without them, A Life Worth Living wouldn’t have the texture of real life that brings out my readers’ emotions.

7. Although the majority of this story simply follows the characters, there is something of a mystery surrounding the night of the accident. How did you plan the details of this mystery? Hmmm. That’s a hard question. I knew I had to have unanswered questions that the reader would want to keep reading in order to find the answers. In my research for the book, I discovered that a person with a head injury often cannot remember the incident that caused the injury and often loses part of their memory before the incident, like a tape being backed up and erased. I put myself in Matt’s place…it would really bug me not knowing why I’d been out that night when I knew I should have been home, even more, when I knew for a fact that I’d gotten home, therefore, it’s a question that Matt often wonders about and one I hoped would entice a reader to want to know more.

8. Who are your favorite authors? Harlan Coben, Janet Evanovich, and Jane Porter. I could keep on going, but those three authors are definitely people whose books I can buy and know I won’t be disappointed.

9. Do you have any interesting habits or rituals when you write? Would you say that running around the house three times (exactly three times) and then rubbing the fuzzy tuft of fur between my dog’s ears fall under the category of interesting habits or rituals? Actually, it wouldn’t matter because I don’t do that. I’m a boring person. All I do is grab my laptop and sit down and write. The only writing necessity that I have is that I need quiet. I cannot write with any noise – no TV, no radio, no favorite music, no people chatting. I need peace and quiet and sometimes even that is too distracting. I often hear of writers who go to a coffee shop to write. How they can concentrate with noise all around them is beyond me.

10. can you tell us about any other books or projects you are working on? I’m working on a romantic suspense right now. I’m very excited by the plot in which Katrina’s mother has been murdered and Katrina’s police chief father has left a confession to the murder and has gone into hiding. Katrina doesn’t believe her father’s confession and the only person willing to help her prove her father’s innocence is a man she cannot trust. (As you can tell from that stunning paragraph, I haven’t spent much time on my blurb. Writing the blurb is soooo difficult. I put that off as long as I can.)

Thanks Del Sheree for letting me come talk about myself and thanks to all of you on the other side of the computer who read the interview. I hope you found A Life Worth Living to be of interest. Happy reading!


Visit Lorrie at her website to stay up to date on her books. 

A Life Worth Living is available now from Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Introducing: Lorrie Kruse

Let's get to know more about Lorrie Kruse, and don't forget to come back tomorrow for my interview with Lorrie where you'll have the chance to learn more about her debut novel, A life Worth Living

"Lorrie Kruse has always been drawn to books. She remembers the excitement when the Scholastic book pamphlets were handed out way back in grade school. She immediately started circling all of the books she wanted. Little did she know that one day she would write her own book. Being a creative person, it s only natural that her creativity would creep out in the form of writing. 

Lorrie's reading interests have shifted over the years. Once she hit the teen years and moved past kids stories, she moved on to horror stories. (Three cheers to Stephen King s wife for pulling his manuscript out of the garbage.) She s also been a fan of romance, medical mysteries, and suspense. Some of her favorite authors are Janet Evanovich, Robert Crais, Harlan Coben, Jane Porter, and John Sandford. 

Lorrie is many things besides a writer. By day she s a legal secretary (not to be confused with the illegal secretary of her evening hours). She s a wife (to a wonderful prince of a husband, Brian) and a mom (to a non-furry two-legged critter (Tyler) and a very furry four-legged critter (Token, an Alaskan husky)). Lorrie rarely sits idle. If she s not doing one of the aforementioned activities, then she s probably making jewelry or crocheting another pair of socks (much to the dismay of her hubby who says why don t you just buy socks at Walmart).

 And, if there s a wayward teddy bear in need of a home, Lorrie s your go-to-gal, as long as that bear doesn t mind living in a log home in the country in often-chilly central Wisconsin. Lorrie hopes you ve enjoyed reading this book. She would love to hear from you. Her website is: or email her at"

You can get to know more about Lorrie and her books on her website

A Life Worth Living is available now from Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Monday, September 10, 2012

New Book: A Life Worth Living

This week is another first for The Edible Bookshelf. The featured book this week, A Life Worth Living, is the first dramatic romance I have had the pleasure to featured. No vampires, no ghost or magic, just two people trying to endure difficult times in their lives and put themselves back together. 

"A Surefire Way to Jinx Your Future... is to perfectly map it out and then expect your journey to go as planned. Twenty-six year old home builder, Matthew Huntz, is on his way to making his dreams a reality: gorgeous fiance, perfect job, and the house he's always wanted. Until the accident. Paralyzed from the chest down, with his life's GPS offline, Matt is forced to recalculate his path in life." 

A Life Worth Living is available now from Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Sunday, September 9, 2012

INQUEST is now available in paperback!

INQUEST is now available from Amazon!

So far you can only get INQUEST in paperback form, but Kindle and all the other popular ebook formats should be following soon. 

Keep checking back for more updates!

If you are a book reviewer and are interested in reviewing INQUEST, please email me at I should have review copies available soon. 

If you're looking to purchase, click here! And thank you in advance for your support!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Review: Believing in Horses

Another move for Sadie, and another deployment for her dad. Sadie is sure this will be a very dismal time in her life until her parents agree to let her buy her own horse after the move. Dreams of riding and caring for her horse fill Sadie's mind, but she soon realizes there is hard work involved. Finding the right horse and the best place to board, learning how to be a real horse owner, and most surprising of all...learning that unwanted horses are being abandoned or sold overseas for there meat. Changing this may be impossible, but Sadie is determined to try. 

Sadie's journey to save the unwanted horses is clearly a book for any horse enthusiast, but don't shy away if you've never so much as been within ten feet of a real horse. Valerie Ormond does a great job of making sure those readers who are unfamiliar with horses are given explanations of terms and walked through the basics of horse ownership right along with Sadie. Readers won't feel out of place in the barn thanks to this, as well as the realistic atmosphere created. You see the barn through Sadie's eyes and take the journey right along with her. 

While this book is labeled as a young adult novel, I would say it is more of a middle grade level. The character is twelve years old, and the pacing is more in line with middle grade readers. Young readers won't have any trouble keeping up with the story at it progresses, but the moderate pace won't keep older readers waiting, either. 

The story of Sadie not only finding the perfect horse for herself, but giving her heart and soul over to rescuing the unwanted horses being sold at auction is an endearing tale. Sadie has such a  sweet nature that you can't help but route for her. Her courage is inspiring, and those that rally around her only add to the feeling of belief and hope. Sadie's story provides good lessons many children this age need. So many tweens are about to step into a world of peer pressure, challenges to their self-esteem, and questioning or their morals. This book provides reassurance that you can still have faith in yourself and your beliefs and make a difference in the world. 

The only small issue I had with this story that Sadie didn't face more complications than what were presented. At one point her horse, Lucky, is stolen, but in regards to her quest to save the auction horses everything works out quite well. I thought having a few more stumbling blocks would have been more realistic and given Sadie a chance to really show her strength by pushing though a difficult trial. Aside from that, I did wonder why the police didn't use the GPS in Sadie's phone to track down Lucky, but that was a very small thing. 

Overall, Believing in Horses is an inspiring story that truly highlights how even a child can make a difference in the lives of others, equine or human. Sadie not only affects the horses she becomes involved with, but she touches the lives of those who join with her. It's a lesson every young reader could stand to be reminded of more often. 

Would I recommend this book? Yes. It's a sweet story that readers will love and be uplifted by.

Who would I recommend this book to? It's definitely geared toward the 9-12 age group, and it's a great, easy read for that readership, but teens and adults would still be able to appreciate Sadie's story. 

Believing in Horses is available now through Valerie's website as well as Amazon

You can also enter to win a paperback copy of Believing in Horses by leaving a comment this week or following Valerie Ormond on Facebook or Twitter. Don't forget to click on the Rafflecopter button to make sure your entry is counted. 

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Favorites: Believing in Horses

One aspect of this book that really impressed me was the way Valerie introduced the reader to the world of horses. She uses technical terms that anyone familiar with horses would understand, but she knew that not every child reading her book would be as well versed. 

Any time Valerie used a technical term, she briefly explained the meaning behind it. Sometimes she used Sadie's own inexperience to do this, and other times Sadie was explaining the term to someone else. This helped to make sure readers knew what was going on without getting an in-depth lesson in horse care. 

This book had a great mix of stepping into the world of horses for the first time and feeling at home in the stables. No one will feel out of place following Sadie around on her adventure.

Believing in Horses is available now through Valerie's website as well as Amazon

You can also enter to win a paperback copy of Believing in Horses by leaving a comment this week or following Valerie Ormond on Facebook or Twitter. Don't forget to click on the Rafflecopter button to make sure your entry is counted. 

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Interview: Valerie Ormond

After learning more about Valerie and her work with horses, let's get to know more about her writing life, and how Believing in Horses came to be. 

1. What was your inspiration for "Believing in Horses?" I wanted to tell a story about what people are capable of when they believe in what they are doing, no matter how challenging the mission might seem at the time.

The actual idea for writing a story at all came from the previous owner of one of my horses, when I told her to tell her daughter that the horse was going to Washington, DC, to do something important, like be a Senator.  The owner suggested I use that idea for a children’s book.

2. How did you decide what age your main character was going to be, and how did that affect the story? As a horse person myself, I spend a lot of time at the barn, and I interact with many young people from ages 4 to 18.  I chose to have my main character, Sadie, as 12, because this is an age where young people often seem to start doubting themselves.  It is also an age I remember well as still enjoying the pleasures of childhood without the peer pressure of the teens.  I believe Sadie’s age affects the story because she takes on a very difficult task at her young age, and while she solves problems on her own, she still relies on others to assist.   

3. Your knowledge of horses in evident in this book. Can you tell us about your personal experiences with horses? A mounted police officer put me on his horse when I was three years old, and I was hooked.  I started taking riding lessons when I was seven and finally leased my own horse when I was a teenager.  I remained in love with horses through adulthood, but due to my Navy career and the moves, was not able to fully commit to horse ownership again until just ten years ago.  My husband and I now have one 20-year-old pony, a 14-year-old American Quarter Horse, and my 6-year-old pinto, Lucky, the “star” of the book.  I am a Certified Horsemanship Association certified riding instructor in both English and Western riding, a member and volunteer for numerous horse organizations, and I compete in the National Capital Adult Equestrian League and other local amateur shows.  I still take lessons, ride as much as I can, and absolutely love trail riding.  I’ve ridden at ranches across the U.S. and in Canada, Spain, and Ireland, and even had the good fortune to be able to gallop a young Arabian colt among the pyramids in Egypt.  I think horses are magical and have seen what they can do for people, which is why I try so hard to introduce people to the world of horses.       

4. The main character, Sadie, has been promised a horse at the beginning of the book. How does this promise transform her character? DelSheree, you ask GREAT questions!  The promise of a horse transforms Sadie from feeling sorry for herself about another move and her dad’s upcoming deployment to a girl with an important task.  Sadie becomes focused on finding a home for her new horse, and finding her first horse, which distracts her from life’s other stressors at the time.  Sadie gains a sense of independence and learns some valuable lessons about decision making and listening to advice. 

5. Sadie works with several people, family and non-family that help her through the story. How do these characters contribute to the idea of believing in something? Many of the characters believe not only in Sadie’s mission, but in Sadie.  Sadie’s honesty and commitment convinces people to believe in her and what she is doing.  

6. What type of research did you do for this book? I’ll break this one down into two parts – the writing, and the story.  As far as the writing, since this was my first foray into children’s literature, I began with, and then became a member of the Children’s Book Insider Clubhouse. The Children’s Book Insider Clubhouse provided excellent background information, teaching modules, discussion forums, articles, and more, which really helped me with some of the basics such as the length of the book.  I also read many middle grade and young adult novels, and re-read a few of my favorites, to get a feel for the genre from an author’s perspective vs. a reader’s perspective.

Concerning the story, having grown up with a dad in the Navy, being in the Navy myself, and married to a man in the Navy, I felt I didn’t have to do any research on life in a military family.  For horses, although I felt I had the general background I needed, including having dealt with many of the horse issues Sadie deals with in the novel, I did not feel I had adequate information on the unwanted horse problem.  I chose to focus on this issue because I knew of the growing problem and had been involved through some of my volunteer work.  But there came a point where I knew I needed to see horse rescues hands-on and speak with the people working these issues every day.  I researched and visited the horse rescues in the book and remain involved with them to this day, including providing them a portion of the book proceeds.  “Horse savers” are among the most dedicated, hard-working people I’ve seen in the horse industry, and I’m honored to work with some of them.  The saddest part of my research was during a live horse auction; I wanted to save them all.      

7. Can you tell us about how this book has been prepared to be used in schools? I am very fortunate that my brother, Eddy Ormond, a teacher for 20 years, became very involved during my writing process, including accompanying me on some of the above mentioned research trips.  My brother provided valuable input from spending years with fourth and fifth graders, and he is, in fact, the real life Mr. Edwards teacher character in the book.  Eddy prepared Discussion Guides and Activities for my web site, and teachers and homeschoolers raved about them and asked when they would be available in print.  We listened, and published Teacher’s Tack for Believing In Horses, a comprehensive 76-page teacher’s guide to help make any teacher’s job easier in working with students and the book.  Additionally, my brother visits schools with me when he can, presenting a lively Talk Show format about the book, reading, and writing, that engages the kids every time.  I’ve been very lucky to have a caring, talented teacher who understands the demands on teachers as one of those characters who believes in me and knows how to share knowledge with students.    

8. Who are your favorite authors? All time favorite author and book:  Primrose Cumming and Silver Snaffles.  Others:  Nicholas Sparks; Gennifer Choldenko; Janet Evanovich; Sara Gruen; Deborah Wiles; Michael Morpurgo; Aryn Kyle; Patricia Cornwell….and so many more.

9. Do you have any interesting habits or rituals when you write? I really enjoy when I sit down to write one thing, and the story takes over, and takes me places I hadn’t thought about until I was immersed in words.  I like to let the story go where it wants to and see what happens.  I can always edit it out later, right?  

10. Can you tell us about any other books or projects you are working on? Right now I am working on a sequel to Believing In Horses, with a working title, Believing In Horses, Too.  While my first book highlighted unwanted horses, this book highlights equine therapy.  I’ve done some exciting research and hope to introduce readers to more about horses, life in a military family, and the continued growth of the main character, Sadie.  I was a contributing author to Chique Travel Adventures 2012:  Finding Beauty and Inspiration on Your Travels , scheduled for Fall 2012 publication by Flagrans Press, and an upcoming book for the Voice For The Horse organization, also scheduled for Fall 2012 publication by J.B. Max Publishing.  I plan to continue visiting schools, conducting writing workshops, and most importantly, encouraging people to believe in themselves and their causes.

You can connect with Valerie by email at, through her WebsiteFacebookBlog, or Twitter

Believing in Horses is available now through Valerie's website as well as Amazon

You can also enter to win a paperback copy of Believing in Horses by leaving a comment this week or following Valerie Ormond on Facebook or Twitter. Don't forget to click on the Rafflecopter button to make sure your entry is counted. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway