Monday, January 30, 2012

Review of Wheezer and the Painted Frog - Review

Who killed Usti Yansa? Find out September 15, 2011, in Wheezer and the Painted Frog, Kitty Sutton's debut novel about the aftermath of the infamous Trail of Tears. Healthy little boys shouldn't grow weak and die when they have shelter, food and the care of their families, yet Sasa's little brother, the last of her family, sickens, mumbling the mysterious 'I didn't do it right, I didn't do enough. Why didn't it work?' Left alone, mourning and trying to survive in a new place with new ways, Sasa seeks answers with the help of her new friend, Wheezer. The Jack Russell Terrier seems too wise, too fierce and too loyal to be just a dog. Did the Creator send Wheezer to Sasa and if so, how can a dog, albeit a smart one, help to solve a murder?

From the time Europeans landed in North America, the People were forced out of the land they had known for generations. By the nineteenth century, the United States had pushed them into the remote and undeveloped area known as Indian Territory and promised them food and protection that never came. Plagued by the loss of their ability to farm and hunt, the lack of food and shelter, the disease brought by the White Man, every tribe suffered losses so great only the memories of the survivors could document the dead. This story, taking place among the Cherokee after the Trail of Tears, is a story for all the People.

Also, you might want to read my Interview with Kitty Sutton.

5 Stars
Wow! I loved this book! Narrated in an understated, almost journalistic-like, prose, this book packed one heck of a punch. Told from the perspective of a young Cherokee girl, and obviously lovingly researched, this book evoked intense emotion in me. The terrible march to Oklahoma “Indian Territory” on the Trail of Tears was only the beginning of the brutal hardships these displaced people endured.
The book focuses around a mystery. When her healthy five-year-old brother inexplicably weakens then dies, Sasa must find out why. All alone, grieving, she finds a little dog. The dog has been bitten by a snake and is barely alive. Sasa rescues the pooch and soon falls in love with the rascal. Wheezer becomes Sasa’s stalwart protector as she begins to enlist the help of others.
The "Real Wheezer"
When the dog’s owner traces him to the Indian settlement, he too, finds out that not all is as it seems. The rations and commodities intended for the Indians are not arriving. As Jackson investigates, he and Sasa help each other, and Wheezer’s loyalties are divided between Sasa and Jackson.
This is a moving story that instantly captured my heart. Never verbose or preachy, this tale flawlessly captured the flavor of the West, and the bigotry of the times. Yet, it is written in an inherently upbeat style that had me cheering for the good guys, and booing at the no-good, low-down, greedy bad guys. I also cheered for Wheezer, my favorite character. This book is the first in a planned series of mysteries. I am looking forward to the next one by this talented new author.
This book was given to me by the author in exchange for my honest review. I am not a personal friend this author.
Reviewed by Laurie

Amazon Print  Kindle  |    Barnes & Noble Paperback  Nook  

Goodreads  |  Smashwords 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Safety Expert by Doug Richardson - Character Interview, Excerpt, Giveaway | Thriller


Doug Richardson was born in Arcadia, California. The son of a career politician, Doug grew up outside Sacramento and inside the state Capitol. He used to talk his way into then-Governor Ronald Reagan's office, just to get a handful of jellybeans.

Doug left Northern California for Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California's School of Cinema. For as long as he could remember, Doug had wanted to be a movie director. But in pursuing his goal he discovered how movies are really made: in the writing.

After finishing college, Doug signed a two-year contract with Warner Brothers. In 1989 he garnered national attention when his spec screenplay was the first in Hollywood to sell for a million dollars. Doug's first feature film, the sequel to Die Hard, Die Harder, was produced in 1990. He has since written and produced feature films including the box office smash Bad Boys and, most recently, Hostage. To date, Doug's features have grossed over 800 million dollars worldwide.

In 1997, Doug's debut novel, Dark Horse, was published by Avon/Morrow in hardcover, followed two years later by his follow up, True Believers.

Doug continues to write and develop for feature films and television. He lives in Southern California with his wife, two children and four mutts.

Goodreads  |   Website  |  Blog  |  Twitter  |  Facebook


Ben Keller lives life by one simple rule. Safety first. Ben is keenly aware of life’s hidden dangers. Ben never smokes. Ben always uses the crosswalk. Ben always drives within the speed limit. He has to be because safety is his business. From his home in Simi Valley, California, one of the safest cities in the United States, Ben works hard at living a perfectly normal, perfectly uneventful, perfectly safe life.

And life is good until the past reaches into the present. In the dark of the night, a man crosses a lonely intersection and is struck by a car, setting events in motion that will unravel the finely stitched strands of Ben’s cocoon, from a recently retired porn actress who is desperate to be a mother to the butch cop determined to shield her young son from the whisperings of the queen bee moms at his private school to the addict who is clawing to hold onto the sobriety which cages the violence within him.

A long dismissed demon has resurfaced, presenting Ben with a most unsafe dilemma: preserve the haven he has carefully built for himself or confront the evildoer who decimated his carefree young life all those years ago.

Ben is in danger. Ben’s world is unsafe. Ben’s life will be changed forever. Again.

CLICK HERE To Read the First Chapter

My Review has been posted on Night Owl Reviews

With Ben Keller

Well readers, today I'd like to introduce The Safety Expert, Ben Keller.  Ben's a busy guy so I'm going to jump right in to this interview.

What books have most influenced your life?
Probably Gavin DeBecker’s The Gift of Fear. Think that might’ve started it all for me. After everything… you know. After all that bad stuff happened, I was looking for handholds. Somethin’ to hang onto because the world was upside-down. A friend handed me the book and, well. Here I am. Recovered.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Guess that depends on the age during my childhood. Lemme see. There was the fireman thing. I mean, don’t all little boys wanna be a fireman or ball player? Only I didn’t wanna be a ball player so much. Right, okay. When I was fifteen I think I wanted to be a World Cup Downhill skier. Can you imagine that kid then and me now? Though I will add that, statistically, the ride up the mountain is about as unsafe as the ride down. Just sayin’.

What is your favorite meal?
It used to be sushi. Loved sushi. Twice, three times a week. But I read up on some studies, the fishing industry. That cured me. Lotta mercury in raw fish and, well, it’s just that. Raw. Not the safest thing to ingest. Don’t recommend it anymore. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love it. Okay. Sushi and whatever we’re eating on Leftover Thursday. Somethin’ about that big meal Alex cooked that night. It’s me and my four girls. A lotta laughs.

Do you play any sports?
I did. All the kid stuff. But I was never any good. Took up surfing for awhile. But in high school I got wrapped up in my job. Spent a lot of time planning my own business. A restaurant. A lotta my clients would love it if I played golf but heck no. The golf swing isn’t conducive to a healthy back. And tennis plays havoc with knees and shoulders. Not to mention the fortune I’d probably have to spend on sunscreen. So I guess the answer is no. I really don’t play any sports.

What are you passionate about these days? 
Any advance in safety. And there are so many. Technology just keeps getting better and better. Vehicle safety, patient care safety, food safety. And it’s all consumer driven, too. People want to know that what they’re buying won’t hurt or kill them or someone they love. Seriously. It’s a safety revolution. And if that sounds weird, well…

What one word best describes you?
If you asked my wife, she’s probably say “geek” or “nerd.” One of my daughters once called me “vanilla.” But I say what’s wrong with that, right? But if I were to describe myself… “vigilant.”

What would we find under your bed? 
A First Alert fire escape ladder. Flashlight kit with extra batteries. Fire extinguisher. Kevlar vests—his and hers. Small earthquake kit. You know, space blankets, sneakers, antibiotics. Normal stuff.

Who should play you in a film of your life?
Johnny Depp. Yeah. I like him.

If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?

They’re dead. So I can’t apologize to them anymore. But… Yeah. Wish I woulda been there for ‘em. Sorry. Are we done yet?  {Ben beats a hasty exit}

Well.{stammers to self} ...guess he has to get to his next job. {hollers to his back}  Thanks Ben!!  Sorry! I didn't intend to open old wounds. Be Safe, Man!!

Thanks everyone for stopping in today! Ben's a rather peculiar guy, but when you read about him it will all make sense.  Oh!! Hang in there for a sec so you can enter the giveaway for a free copy of The Safety Expert.  The winner may have their choice of a Print or digital copy of the book (if shipped within the US).  If the winner resides outside of the US, the prize will be a digital copy of The Safety Expert. Follow Doug on Twitter for a bonus entry.  Enter below for your chance to win.  
Giveaway will end February 25th 11:59PM CDT

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Westmore: The Aftermath by Carol Cassada - Interview, Excerpt | Featured Author | Contemporary Romance

Set in a small New England town, follow the lives of three families; The Greens, the Braxtons, and the Reynolds.

The Greens:

* Widowed matriarch Charlotte never thought she could find love again after the death of her husband Michael, until handsome Detective Bryant comes to her rescue.
* Youngest son Peter returns home from college with his new girlfriend, who's ten years older than him, and is a problem for Mama Charlotte.
* Scott and Alicia are singing siblings who are on their way to the top, until tragedy strikes one night.

The Braxtons:
* Andrew Braxton is a ruthless and powerful businessman who runs his household the same way he runs his company, with an iron fist. Upon learning his son Wayne plans on abandoning the family company, he'll do everything in his heart to stop him from leaving.

The Reynolds:

* After the divorce Laura Reynolds and her daughter Megan move back home with her father, where she plans to start life anew, but little does she know that it's not easy to escape your past.

Join them and other characters as they experience love, heartache, and ups and downs in their everyday lives.

Westmore: The Aftermath is the second volume in the series. The Westmore series is set in a fictional town and follows the lives of three families; The Greens, The Braxtons, and The Reynolds. 
Here's how the series starts:
Rachel Mitchell thought she had it all, a career as a fashion photographer, an apartment in New York City and a lawyer boyfriend. When her mother dies, Rachel goes home to be with her younger sisters and grandmother. The solemn event brings her back into contact with old boyfriend Cole. On her return to the big city, Rachel begins to question her life, and what can really make her happy. Will she find that true love and happiness can only be found when one is Going Home Again?

(from Westmore: The Aftermath)

Still trembling with shock, Wayne stumbled into the den, poured a glass of vodka, and downed the drink. He closed his eyes, but the images of the wrecked car flashed through his head. The thought of what happened to the passengers weighed heavily on his conscience, I should've helped them, but I didn't. How could I leave them?
     "Wayne is that you?" Elizabeth called down.
     "Go back to bed mom," he didn't want her to see him like this, but the sound of her slippers hitting the marble floor indicated she disobeyed his request.
     "I was worried about you," upon entering the room she noticed Wayne soaking wet and trembling.”What's wrong?"
     "Nothing," he shrugged off her concern.
     "Don't lie to me, you're shaking, now tell me what's wrong."
     He took a deep breath and wiped his face, "There was an accident."
     "Are you hurt?" she searched his face for any sign of injury.
     "I'm fine," he poured another round of vodka. "It's the others," he set the bottle down. "The other driver crashed into a tree."
     "Were they hurt?"
     "I don't know,” he raised his voice. “I fled the scene."
     "Why?" lightning flashed across the sky and a clap of thunder followed, startling her.
     "I caused the accident," he took a sip of vodka and collapsed in a chair. "I was angry about my fight with dad and I got too distracted. The next thing I remember I was in the other lane, on a head-on collision with the other driver." He clasped his hands together, "the car was a mess. I wanted to help, but I panicked and left. I don't even know if they're okay." With his sleeve he rubbed his forehead, "Mom, I don't know what to do. If the police ever find out..."
     "They won't,"
     "What do you mean?"
     Elizabeth couldn't bear the thought of seeing her son go to jail. "For the time being we're going to keep this quiet."
     "What about the other driver?"
     She knelt beside her son. "Until we know further details, I think it's best to keep this between us," she wrapped her hands around his.
     "But mom,"
     "No, buts, now go upstairs, dry off, and get some sleep."
     Although he disagreed with her decision, he reluctantly obeyed his mother's wishes.
     Elizabeth twiddled her silver locket, she was willing to do anything to protect her son, even if it meant breaking the law, she wasn't going to lose him, not now, not ever.

Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?
I always have music playing while I write because it helps get me into the creative mood. I’m a rock n’ roll girl, at the moment I’m into Boston, The Eagles, Foreigner, and Heart.
What are your favorite TV shows?
My current favorites are Criminal Minds and the new Hawaii Five-0. I also love The Simpsons, Family Guy, and American Dad. Plus I like to watch re-runs of Married with Children, The Golden Girls, and I Love Lucy.
What is your favorite meal?
I’ve always loved pepperoni pizza, but I also love macaroni and cheese. Plus I have an enormous sweet tooth, so any dessert will do. 
Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?
The most important thing is don’t give up. As a newcomer myself, I’m learning how tough the industry is, with trying to get published and doing all the work and promotion yourself. It’s a pain in the butt, however if you’re passionate about writing, then you have to stick with it and keep going, cause eventually all your hard work will pay off.
How do you react to a bad review of your book?
I admit I’ve gotten a few bad reviews and it used to bother me, but I’ve learned to let it go. People differ in what they like, and that’s one of the things you have to accept. What matters most is that I love it and the readers like it. As long as they love my books, I’ll continue to write.
Who should play you in a film of your life? 
That’s tough, but I think Bryce Dallas Howard would be a good choice because of her appearance, plus she can capture my sweet and shy personality.



Friday, January 27, 2012

Man & Other Natural Disasters by Nerys Parry - Character Interviiew, Give@way

Man & Other Natural Disasters
Author: Nerys Parry
Genre: Fiction – Literary/Historical
Published by: Enfield & Wizentry, Great Plains (September 2011)
Age Recommendation: 18+
Format: Hardcover
ISBN13: 978-1926531120
Number of pages: 214

Man & Other Natural Disasters by Nerys Parry

Simon Peters, a recluse full of half-cocked theories on every subject from heart-broken shrimp to the Jungian consciousness of DNA, spends his days hiding from his horrific past in the basement of the Calgary City Library. Enter Minerva, a twenty-two year-old business major whose ghostly resemblance to Simon’s dead sister compels him to reveal his shocking past: a sister who died of spontaneous human combustion, a father crushed in a rock blast, a mother who disappeared in a tornado – all in one hot prairie summer.

But parts of Simon’s story do not add up. When he finds Minerva passed out and bleeding on his bathroom floor, he must conquer the tyranny of his own memory and confront what really happened that summer of 1962. But the truth, when uncovered, proves no less astonishing than the original tale.

Based on real events recounted during the Sons of Freedom movement of the 60s, Man & Other Natural Disasters is a testament to the power of story in a world too often shaken by forces outside our control: nature, terrorism, death—even love. Of all the planet has yet to throw at us, the question remains: can we recover from the worst natural disaster yet—ourselves?


·                 Finalist for Colophon Prize 2011

·                 Tied for 7th in Giller Prize Reader’s Choice Award

Click here to read an excerpt from Man & Other Natural Disaster.
Man & Other Natural Disasters
Author: Nerys Parry
Genre: Fiction – Literary/Historical
Published by: Enfield & Wizentry, Great Plains (September 2011)

Buy the book at:



LAURIE: Today we are lucky to have Simon Peters, the quirky and complex protagonist in Nerys Parry’s Man & Other Natural Disasters.  A rare individual, rarely sighted and hard to get a hold of, Simon has graciously agreed to answer some questions.

But, before we begin, here’s a clip of Nerys being interviewed on television. This is what she has to say about meeting Simon for the first time and working with him over the years:

Here's the link to the video if the above won't play for you.

LAURIE: Simon, let’s start with a question I like to ask my guests as a kind of icebreaker. Do your friends think you are an introvert or an extravert? Why?

SIMON:  If I had any friends, they would probably say I was introverted. When you live a lie, the less people that know you the better.

At work they’ve even gone so far as to nickname me the Yeti, after Nepal’s abominable snow creature. I presume it’s because I am so rarely sighted outside of my office, and also because of my hair, which has been stark-white since I was fourteen.

LAURIE: In the book you reveal that this hair of yours has caused you many problems over the years.  You write:

“When I was young, I used to shave my hair completely, or wear dark glasses and pretend I was an albino.  But that didn't stop people from staring. 

"What happened to you?" they would always ask.  Strangers on the train, patients in waiting rooms, people in foyers, students in libraries.  "What happened?" they'd ask, as if something so horrific as to turn my hair white could be told with justice in the seven minutes between trains.

Now I am almost forty-two, and my white crown goes unnoticed for the most part.  Many men my age are balding or greying or both.  Every life is full of surprises.  Some just take longer to catch up with us.”

Now I don’t want to ruin it for our readers, but your life has been full of some particularly nasty and shocking surprises. Do you really think everyone is at risk of going through what you went through?

SIMON: I have limited experience with other people’s lives, it is true, but have read much, and can confirm that there are others in our past and present that have suffered as nasty or worse surprises as me. As I often tell people, ‘in this infinitely frightening and expanding universe, the possibilities for natural disaster and human stupidity are endless.  The unimaginable does happen, sometimes to the most unimaginative people.  It just works out that way.’

LAURIE: It’s true that you’ve had your share of horrors—and many of them happened when you were very young.  While I know you don’t want to give too much away, can you tell us a bit about your family?

SIMON: It’s still is hard to talk about, to be honest. Thirty-three years it’s taken me to be able to face what really happened to my family, and there are still gaping holes in my memory that no amount of digging seem able to fill.

I am the only one left. My parents and sister all died one after the other, my father by earth, my mother by air, and my sister by fire.  It would appear that I was fated to die by water, and many times I have felt like I am drowning, figuratively at least, in guilt and memory. I often wonder why I keep on swimming, to be honest. But for some reason as inexplicable as life itself, I do.

LAURIE:  You had such a strange upbringing, violent and isolated.  But some of it had at least the veneer of normalcy, and for a time you even attended a regular school. You must have been asked, like any other child, what you wanted to be when you grew up.  What did you answer them?

SIMON: For a time when I was fourteen I wanted to be a doctor. But then disaster, as it so often did in my life, got in the way. After my father’s death was a long period of darkness I prefer not to talk about—writing about it was difficult enough. My first real job was in construction, working on skyscrapers overlooking the Rockies. But in the end I wound up as a book repairer. I have worked in the basement of the Calgary City library for almost three decades now, fixing the bent and the broken, the books without covers, the volumes with broken spines.

LAURIE: It seems books have a special meaning for you. In your confessions, you write:

“It used to be that we fixed almost every book and catalogue, but now, as with everything these days, there are what people call 'other factors to consider'.  Like anticipated circulation.  Like cost-effectiveness.  But I can't throw away a book, even a cheap, badly-written paperback that's been dropped in the bath so many times its pages have welded together. 

So I bring them home.
Over the years, my apartment has become something of a refuge for the forgotten ones, the broken ones, the ones with the missing back limb, the ones blind with the smeared ink, the ones naked without covers.  They wallpaper my walls, hold up my bed, keep hot coffee cups from ringing the table.  They stack themselves arm-height beside the couch, forming a perfect side table.  Books support the TV and my single potted fern.  There are drawers I can't close, doors I can't shut.  My apartment has become full to bursting with story.”

Obviously, story is important to you, and there are many myths and legends that have woven their way into your book. What do you think makes a good story?
SIMON: My Babka was the best storyteller I knew, and she always began her stories with “it was both a long and a short time ago.”  From her I learnt that a good story is timeless.  It is not just about what was, but also about what will be. What is—the indisputable present—disappears altogether in a really good story. A good fiction needs to be nothing more than pure possibility—the chance to imagine what and who we could be, if only things were different.

LAURIE: You’ve clearly read as well as repaired many books. Which ones would you say have most influenced you?

SIMON: Lyall Watson’s books on the paranormal have had the biggest influence on my understanding of the world.  Supernature, in particular, enlightened me on several ground-breaking theories, such as DNA memory, thoughtography, and spontaneous human combustion, which have helped me better understand the odd phenomena I have been unlucky to have witnessed in my life. It was also from Dr. Watson that I first learned water had a memory, which made me wonder, especially when my roommate Claude started going downhill, just what memory really was.

LAURIE: There’s a beautiful passage about this theory in your book.  If you don’t mind, I’d like to share it with our readers:

“Water has an amazing memory.  When it is ice, it forms the most perfectly bonded hydrogen structure in the world, a precisely angled crystal whose architecture is so resilient that the memory of it persists in all states.  Looking at liquid water, you would think that it was just a loose collection of ions, forming and unforming relationships with other ions that pass.  But look closer, and you will see thousands of ice crystals continuously constructing themselves, then falling apart, then struggling to rebuild again, even while the water bubbles with heat, even while it disperses in a gasp of air.  The water is forever battling its compulsion to disintegrate, always fighting to remember its ideal structure.

Perhaps that is all memory is: the struggle to return to a perfect state.”

I wonder, after having gone through everything you have since writing that passage, do you think you have, or even can, reach this ‘perfect state’?

SIMON: Even if it could be reached, I’m not so sure it could be maintained for any length of time. Memory is fickle, mutable, untrustworthy. If you’d prefer to look on the positive side, you could say it was extremely adaptable, in an evolutionary sense—it keeps us moving forward and living and reproducing despite all the mistakes we’ve made in the past.

LAURIE: Speaking of mistakes, you hint often at bearing a heavy sense of guilt. Who, of all the people you feel you have wronged in your life, would you most like to apologize to?

SIMON: Those who read my book won’t need me to name the one person who haunts me to this day.  Not a day goes by when I don’t think of her, when I don’t imagine the impossible: that I could find some way to make up for what I did. I suppose the book was my way of trying to apologize—something I have never been very good at. I hoped that telling the truth might make a difference to her, on the off chance that she might still be alive, and that, despite the disappointments and cruelties she no doubt has seen over the years, she might still be able to do such a strange thing as forgive. She was always special that way.

LAURIE: As you yourself say, “the unimaginable does happen”. One last question before you go: now that you’ve got your story out in the world, who do you think should play you in the film?

SIMON: Russell Crowe. Although he is far more handsome than I am, I hear they have wonderful makeup for that kind of thing nowadays.

LAURIE: So true! Thank you so much for being here and spending this time with me today. It's great to talk to you, Simon.  Keep the faith.
For more information:

Website  |  Email  Twitter  
Twitter: @nerysparry

Discounts available for purchases of 5 or more copies for book clubs! 
Check out Great Plains Guides for more details.

Loved the book?  Take the quiz on Goodreads.

The book is available for purchase at Chapters, Amazon and local bookstores across the country.  For those outside of the country, they can buy the book at or

About Nerys Parry
Nerys Parry is an award-winning writer with a skeleton in her closet–she’s also an engineer with a passion for uncovering buried histories. Her debut novel Man & Other Natural Disasters was inspired by the fanatical Freedomite movement that terrorized the Kooteneys for decades. This “delightfully quirky” novel was a finalist for the Colophon Prize, and tied for 7th on the 2011 Giller Prize Reader’s Choice Awards. Parry’s writing has also aired on CBC radio and been published in diverse publications.
• Long-listed, CBC Literary Prize for Fiction 2010
• Short-listed, Event Creative Non-Fiction Contest 2004, 2007
• Runner-up, FreeFall Fall Fiction Contest 2004
• Short-listed, Kenneth R. Wilson Canadian Business Press Award, 2007

Find and follow Nerys Parry on:


Enter for a chance to win a PRINT copy of 
 Man and Other Natural Disasters. US/CAN only.
Giveaway ends February 25th 11:59 PM CDT


Man & Other Natural Disasters by Nerys Parry – NURTURE Book Tour Schedule: