Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: Dreadfully Ever After

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After (Book 3) by Steve Hockensmith

Publication Date: March 2011
Publisher: Quirk Publishing
Genre: Jane Austen Mash-Up
Pages: Paperback, 320pp
ISBN-13: 9781594745027

(Received for review from LibraryThing Early Reviewers)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Steve Hockensmith on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter

Book Trailer:
Please be advised that the trailer is somewhat graphic and may not be appropriate for younger readers to view. (Nightmares and the like!)

Synopsis (Book Blurb):


When we last saw Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy - at the end of the
New York Times best seller Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - they were preparing for a lifetime of wedded bliss. Yet the honeymoon has barely begun when poor Mr. Darcy is nipped by a rampaging dreadful. Elizabeth knows the only acceptable course of action is to promptly behead her husband (and burn the corpse, just to be safe). But when she learns of a miracle antidote being developed in London, she realizes there may be one last chance to save her true love - and for everyone to live happily ever after.

Complete with romance, heartbreak, martial arts, cannibalism, and an army of shambling corpses.
Dreadfully Ever After brings the story of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to a thrilling conclusion.


The third book in the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies trilogy,
Dreadfully Ever After, picks up after Elizabeth and Darcy have been wed for some time. Author Steve Hockensmith takes the reader on another whirlwind adventure with Jane Austen's characters and a few zombies. Using Austen's book as the framework for this mash-up, Hockensmith shows his versatile writing style along with a knack for allowing the reader to see the humor in the living dead. Fans of the first two books in the series will be love the ending!

Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy had a love story for the ages.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies ended with their happy ending, but that wasn't the end of the story. Elizabeth and Darcy have been married for four years and living happily at Pemberley, when Darcy is unexpectedly bitten by a dreadful. Elizabeth knows what she has to do, behead him before he turns, but can she do that to the love of her life? Seeking the help of Darcy's Aunt, Lady Catherine, Elizabeth helps to slow Darcy's turning in order to go to London in search of an antidote that may save his life. Will she find the cure in time? What is Lady Catherine up to in her absence?

Apparently I've been on a zombie roll lately! Though zombies are generally not my favorite paranormal or horror characters, I know they are very popular with several of my readers. That being said, I am a huge Jane Austen fan and could not turn down the opportunity to review a mash-up using Austen's beloved
Pride and Prejudice characters. Hockensmith has written both the prequel and the sequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies written by Seth Grahame-Smith.

The Pride and Prejudice and Zombie series has been a huge hit with readers from all walks of life and ages. The third book in the series,
Dreadfully Ever After provides readers with an action packed ending to a great series. Author Steve Hockensmith once again uses wit and humor to diffuse some of the gory details that usually accompany books about zombies. Hockensmith's zombies are referred to in this series as 'dreadfuls', a name I thought was appropriate and meaningful. The dreadfuls are what most readers have come to expect from the undead. They are somewhat slow and shambling. Not too intelligent and definitely not a creature you would want to meet in a dark alley. Hockensmith does an excellent job of making these characters believable which is kind of scary if you think about it... LOL!

One of the things that I found interesting was Hockensmith's ability to stay true to Jane Austen's vision for Elizabeth and Darcy while creating a totally different set of circumstances in which to place them. Elizabeth is still the same intelligent and headstrong character that readers love from Austen's version, yet she has definitely acquired some skills in this novel. But her love for Darcy has not changed. It is still as strong an abiding as ever. Darcy is still the loyal and stalwart man we met from
Pride and Prejudice, but Hockensmith has instilled his character with more grit and determination. Darcy hangs on to his life with a tenuous grip, and fights the turning. I thought the author did a remarkable job of putting characters you certainly wouldn't expect into a series about the living dead.

Though this is a book about zombies, it still posed some interesting questions. What would a person be willing to sacrifice or do for someone they loved? Could you take the life of the love of your life, if you knew they would become something horrific or dangerous to others? Can true love survive even death? Not your average fare for the typical zombie tale that's for sure. It just goes to show that a good writer can take any set of characters and still find a way to give the story a deeper meaning. I liked this book a lot, in spite of my zombie prejudice, LOL!

I recommend this one for fans of Austen inspired fiction and fans of classic mash-ups. The Austen fiction fans should not pass up a chance to see Elizabeth and Darcy in a new and interesting way. Classic mash-up readers will love it. It's a great ending to a very popular series.

Dreadfully Ever After is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Steve Hockensmith is the author of the
New York Times best seller Pride and Prjudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls and several other novels, including the Edgar Award nominee Holmes on the Range. Critics have hailed his books as "hilarious" (Entertainment Weekly), "dazzling" (The Boston Globe), "uproarious" (Publishers Weekly), "wonderfully entertaining" (Booklist), and "quirky and original" (The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). He lives in Alameda, California, with his wife and two children.

Guest Post and Giveaway: Anne Easter Smith

Please join me in welcoming Anne Easter Smith to Debbie's Book Bag today! Anne is here to talk with us about Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, ancestor to every English monarch to the present Day. Cecily is the subject of Anne's latest historical fiction release, Queen by Right. Look for my review of her book early next week. Giveaway details at the end of the post!

Guest Post on Cecily Neville’s So-Called Affair by Anne Easter Smith

I was drawn to writing about Cecily Neville as soon as I began researching my first--and what I thought would be my only--book “A Rose for the Crown.” I could not write Richard III’s story without knowing a lot about his parents and his siblings. Oddly, Cecily did not appear at all in that book, but in a few scenes her absence hung over the brothers Edward and Richard and you feel she is an indomitable presence in their lives. Indeed, I think one of the reasons Edward chose not to reveal his secret marriage to Elizabeth Woodville for so long was because he feared a slap upside the head from Proud Cis. And boy, did she give him one when the marriage was finally outed, and, according to the Italian visitor Dominic Mancini who was in London in 1484--twenty years after the fact--and was the first to write about the rumor, Cecily “fell into a frenzy.” It was partly because of the scorn she had for this upstart nobody Woodville woman who must now be called queen that she began to style herself, “Cecily, the king’s mother, and late wife unto Richard, by right king of England and of France and lord of Ireland.” Or as my title infers, “Queen by Right.”

One of the stories about Cecily that I was determined to get to the bottom of was the one about her having an affair with an archer in the garrison at Rouen named John Blaybourne that allegedly produced a son, our Edward IV, on April 22, 1442. Here’s what we know:

Although no proof exists of her statement, according to Mancini she is supposed to have retorted in anger at the Woodville-marriage time that Edward shouldn’t even be on the throne because he was a bastard. But the rumor must have reached other ears before Mancini’s because in 1477, when her son, George of Clarence, finally aroused his brother Edward’s anger enough to be imprisoned for treasonous activity, he blurted out that Edward was a bastard. That was a final straw for Edward and George was clapped in the Tower. Even then, the devoted mother Cecily found Edward on a pilgrimage to Thomas Becket’s shrine in Canterbury and went down on her knees to beg her oldest son to spare George.

It was said that Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy and husband of Cecily’s daughter Margaret, would often refer to Edward as “Blaybourne” in fits of rage, and he died in 1477.

And then there is the time in 1483 when all hell broke loose following Edward’s unexpected death and Richard of Gloucester was made Protector (and some would say--but not me--that he was actively seeking the crown). The preacher Dr. Shaw is supposed to have proclaimed from Paul’s Cross to a crowd of Londoners that Richard should wear the crown because he was the legitimate son of his father, Richard, duke of York, and that the sons of Edward were illegitimate on two counts: one is that Edward had been previously secretly contracted to a woman before he secretly wed Elizabeth, and the second is that Edward himself was a bastard. But if he did slight Cecily in public, it is very doubtful that Richard would have sanctioned such a slander of his mother. And if he had, you would think Cecily would have denounced her son and not supported his accession, but the fact is they remained on good terms until Richard’s death.

There has been a recent calculation done as to the whereabouts of Duke Richard at the alleged time of Edward’s conception, and it is true that he was in Pontoise at the exact time modern calculations for gestation would have him and Cecily in Rouen. Look it up, guys, it’s 52 miles from Pontoise to Rouen, and Richard was known to be a fast rider. But why did it have to be in Rouen. May I suggest that during a break in the fighting (and there was one), could Richard not have met Cecily somewhere between the two cities? A horse and rider can cover 20-30 miles a day easily--and 100 if you want to kill the animal! But there is no record of Richard being in Rouen on that fateful day of conception, so I came up with the meeting in the middle solution. I have them meet at a shrine to St. Clothilde in Les Andelys--a popular pilgrimage site, 33 miles from Pontoise, and voila! a romantic tryst in secret. Certainly plausible and certainly doable.

So I say phooey to the affair! Cecily knew and liked her place far too well on the social scale to stoop so low as to have given herself to an archer and soil her reputation. As for six-feet-three-inch Edward not looking like his father, he could just as easily have inherited his stature and golden hair from his Neville blood. His sister Margaret is known to have been very tall for her time and golden haired.

Those are the facts, and I think Cecily is just another of us who has been hurt by rumors.

For more information please visit Anne Easter Smith’s WEBSITE and FACEBOOK PAGE.


Anne Easter Smith and HFVirtual Book Tours is offering one copy of Queen by Right to one lucky winner from Debbie's Book Bag!

~ You must be a Google Friend Connect follower to participate.
~ US addresses only!
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST June 13th.

1. Please leave a comment in appreciation to the author on THIS post!
2. Please fill out the

Friday, May 27, 2011

Review: A Killer Among Us

A Killer Among Us (Women of Justice - Book 3) by Lynette Eason

Publication Date: May 2011
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group/Revell Books
Genre: Christian Fiction, Romantic Suspense
Pages: Paperback, 345pp
ISBN-13: 9780800733711

(Received for review from Revell)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository,, IndieBound

Lynette Eason on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter

Book Trailer:

Synopsis (Book Blurb):


Kit Kenyon is a first-rate hostage negotiator. Noah Lambert is a good detective with excellent instincts. These new partners have hardly had time to get used to each other when they are thrown into a grisly murder case. As evidence mounts up and more victims are found, Kit and Noah realize they are on the hunt for a serial killer. The problem is, he may be hunting one of them too.

With nail-biting, clever plot twists, and a hint of romance, A Killer Among Us is the latest thriller from Lynette Eason.


The final novel in the Women of Justice series,
A Killer Among Us pulls out all the stops. Author Lynette Eason gives readers a book crafted with so many twists and turns they will guessing all the way to the end! With a touch of romance and lots of suspense Eason's latest novel gets right to the heart of the matter, pitting a hostage negotiator and a seasoned officer against a maniacal serial killer. Eason fans will be sad to see the series end, but it certainly goes out with a bang!

Hostage negotiator, Kit Kenyon returns to Spartanburg, South Carolina to meet a family she belongs to, but never knew. Finding out she was adopted has changed Kit's view of life and how things work. She is partnered with long time detective Noah Lambert and they automatically begin to clash. Noah doesn't want another female partner. After being unable to save his former partner he can't seem to let it go. As Kit and Noah work out their differences a grisly murder case pits them against a serial killer, known as "The Judge". Judge, jury and executioner. As the body count mounts Kit and Noah must find a way to work together to take down the killer before they end up on his list.

Many readers will be sad to see the end of the Women of Justice series. Lynette Eason has a remarkable way of making the reader become invested in her characters. But, I'm sure they will looking forward to what comes next from Eason. She has the ability to write romantic suspense without all the blood and guts and still add in a Christian message. Blending the romantic suspense genre with issues of faith is not an easy task, but Eason does it with style.

In her latest book, she takes on a serial killer bent on his own form of justice. Eason's knack for creating compelling characters reaches all the way to the villain in this book. Readers will find it almost chilling being inside the head of the killer as he plots his next move. It is a riveting and heart-pounding novel that provides so many twists and turns that the reader will have to be on their toes if they want to figure out the killers next move. I loved the way Eason told the story not only from the point of view of the hero and heroine but also from the killers POV as well. It changed the entire dynamic of the book.

There were several things going on in this novel besides the main plot line involving the murders. Kit is dealing with some serious issues in her family life. She has recently discovered she was adopted and has moved in order to be closer to this new family. But, it is definitely not without it's challenges. Kit is a strong woman, a hostage negotiator and feels that she has a handle on things. But this new family dynamic throws her for a loop. I enjoyed the way Eason showed Kit's vulnerability as she settles into a new rhythm in her life. She learns a hard fought lesson when she realizes that even when we sometimes forget about God, he doesn't forget us.

Noah on the other hand thought he had everything figured out. He is a good detective. A godly man, who is loyal and just. His problems stem from losing his last female partner. When you feel like something is your fault or happened because of something you did, it's hard to forget. Noah deals with this situation throughout the book and learns that it's almost as important to forgive yourself as it is to forgive others. I thought Eason did a spectacular job of getting her message across with these two characters while not beating the reader over the head with it. It felt natural and understandable and I think readers will appreciate the subtlety.

I would recommend this book, to romantic suspense fans. It may be a little short on the romance, but it's definitely there as Kit and Noah find an attraction between them that is hard to deny. This book will also appeal to fans of fast paced thrillers and even mystery readers as well. It isn't a long complicated book an can be read in a couple of sittings, if not straight through. It will definitely keep your attention and have you biting your nails.

Available May 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Lynette Eason is the author of Too Close to Home, Don't Look Back, and three other romantic suspense novels. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. A homeschooling mother of two, she has a master's degree in education from Converse College and lives in South Carolina.

Review: The Undertakers

The Undertakers: Rise of the Corpses by Ty Drago

Publication Date: April 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Inc.
Genre: YA, Horror, Living Dead
Pages: Paperback, 480pp
ISBN-13: 9781402247859

(Received for review from Sourcebooks)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Ty Drago on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter

Excerpt from
The Undertakers
Book Trailer:

Synopsis (Book Blurb):


It's bad enough that Will Ritter discovers his next-door neighbor has become a walking, talking corpse. But when his assistant principal and math teacher also look like something from a horror flick, he begins to seriously question his sanity - until the Corpses attack.

Don't call them zombies. Zombies are slow and stupid. These things aren't. To make matters worse, only a few people, like Will, can actually see them. Forced to join a ragtag army of teenage resistance fighters called The Undertakers, Will finds himself in the middle of a war against an invasion of the living dead. And in this war, the Undertakers aren't just the first line of defense - they're the only line of defense.


Author Ty Drago has written a YA novel that will appeal to adults as well as teens and tweens.
The Undertakers: Rise of Corpses introduces readers to a group of resistance fighters who aren't your typical soldiers, they're kids! The Undertakers are the only ones who can see the corpses for what they really are, the living dead. Readers will love Drago's fresh style and interesting take on the zombie myth. Light on the gore and heavy on detail, this book is a must read for fans of the living dead!

Will Ritter is your typical twelve year old boy, with big ideas and dreams of adventure. But he gets more than he bargained for when he realizes that he has "the sight". He wakes up one morning to find that Ernie, his neighbor is looking a bit strange, ghastly in fact. Then his math teacher and his assistant principal start to look a little fiendish as well. Will is able to see corpses. These are the living dead. Stronger and faster than a normal zombie and that much more deadly. They have taken over the bodies of dead people and are invading the world. It's up to Will and a group of kids known as The Undertakers to figure out a way to defeat these ghouls before it's too late.

As many of you know, I am quite a fan of paranormal fiction and characters. I find that generally I'm very open minded when reading and I can find something I like about just about every book I read. This book was a bit of stretch for me, because zombies just don't seem to float my boat when it comes to reading. So I began the book with a bit of skepticism and found myself pleasantly surprised, because these characters aren't zombies, they're corpses and yes there is a big difference! They are not stupid, nor are they slow. Most books about zombies tend to make the living dead seem a bit underachieving. Drago's version of the living dead is smart, fast, resourceful and bent on taking over the world. I liked the way Drago was able to make them seem more menacing and worthy of being a part of the horror genre. Very refreshing in my eyes!

The plot line itself was interesting to me as well. The book is obviously written with the YA audience in mind, but I think it will appeal to adult readers who enjoy books about the living dead as well. Here you have a group of freedom fighters, so to speak, who are taking on great odds and doing things that you would expect from soldiers, but they are kids. Forced to grow up in a hurry and make some life changing decisions. But they are still kids. They think like kids. They re-act like kids and they have a lot to learn. The main character, Will is a great example. Even though he is forced to change the way he looks at everything and everyone, he is still just a twelve year old boy. He gets impatient. He tries to solve the problem on his own. He tries to be the hero, like any boy would. I loved how Drago was able to keep that innocence and feel of childhood in his characters, he definitely must be a young boy at heart!

I read quite a bit of YA paranormal fiction as well as regular YA selections and I have two daughters who fall in the age range that most of this kind of writing appeals to. So, I usually share the YA stuff with them and get their opinions as well. My thirteen year old thought the book would appeal more to boys even though there were several female characters and my eleven year old was scared half to death but couldn't put it down... LOL! I think this is a good first effort and the premise will make for a great series. I have to admit that the living dead is still not my favorite paranormal character, but books like this one go a long way toward changing my mind.

I recommend this one to fans of the living dead and YA paranormal fans in general and to those adults who love YA writing. I liked the book, and I will definitely read another from this author. And I can still say I don't care for zombies since there aren't any in this book (wink)!

The Undertakers is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Ty Drago is an author, editor, publisher, business analyst, family man, and Sicilian Quaker (not necessarily in that order) - clearly a modern Renaissance Man. Or something. For the past twelve years he has served as editor/publisher of Allegory, the online magazine of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

The Undertakers marks his debut in youth fiction. Ty makes his home in southern New Jersey with is wife, Helene, daughter Kim, son Andy, two cats and a dog.

Review: The Legend of Michael

The Legend of Michael (Zodius - Book 1) by Lisa Renee Jones

Publication Date: May 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Inc.
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: Paperback, 416pp
ISBN-13: 9781402251566

(Received for review from Sourcebooks)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Lisa Renee Jones on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter

Excerpt from
The Legend of Michael

Synopsis (Book Blurb):


One of an army of human soldiers injected with alien DNA, Michael is a legend within this new race, split between good and evil. Untamable, he has walked on the dark side and returned to the light. Feared and misunderstood, he leaves everything behind including the one woman destined to be his mate.


Fate leads Michael back to Cassandra Powell, for she holds the key to defending his comrades. With their loyalties divided between duty and the people they love, only together can Cassandra and Michael overcome insurmountable odds to save humanity from the wrath of a madman.

But no ordinary woman can control a creature such as Michael, and only one thing is clear - the world will never be the same...


Lisa Renee Jones gives readers a well-crafted blend of Sci-Fi, Romance, and Suspense with her latest book,
The Legend of Michael. This is the first book in the Zodius series and readers will have a hard time putting this one done. It's suspenseful, romantic, hot and steamy and all those things that make up a great novel. Jones' world building abilities are showcased in this book, as well as her knack for creating complex, three dimensional characters. The Legend of Michael will appeal to readers from many genres and will have readers on the edge of their seats all the way through!

Two hundred hand picked special ops soldiers are being used in a covert operation known as project Zodius. These soldiers were injected with Alien DNA, which makes them superhuman killing machines. The DNA causes the soldiers to develop abilities that no one was prepared for, especially Michael Taylor. Micheal is a legend among the people of this new race, but he is conflicted and torn between those he loves and his duty. When the Zodius soldiers splinter and Michael's friend Adam starts a new group called the Renegades, Michael joins him leaving the woman he loves. Michael is re-united with Cassandra Powell as they race against time to save the world from a madman, who is bent on destruction. Can their love survive? Can she tame the untamable?

Lisa Renee Jones takes a place that has garnered speculation and mystery for many years and turned it into the setting for her book,
The Legend of Michael. Area 51 has always been a mysterious place. What goes on there? Is there really evidence of Aliens? Are the stories of alien abductions real? What about television shows like the X-files... is there a group of Federal agents who look into these things? There are so many stories and ideas that circulate around this place. I thought it was genius to use it as the backdrop to this series. The author doesn't try to give readers explanations of what could be, she basically states it as fact and makes the reader believe it.

Jones does a remarkable job of world building in this book. She creates an atmosphere that lends itself to fear and anxiety. What could this new race of superhumans be capable of? She makes the reader wonder about the possibilities. I loved the fact that she created a very strong but flawed hero. Michael comes across as a very conflicted man. He is given abilities that he doesn't understand and has to come to terms with what he is capable of. I think readers will sympathize with his emotions and feel a deep connection to him. It just goes to show how each decision a person makes affects so much more than just themselves.

Cassandra is also a great female lead. She is led by the duty she feels to her father. Which in some ways makes her appear naive. Her father seems to be completely driven by greed and he wants to use her for his own gains as well as the Zodius soldiers. Yet, Cassandra is a woman who understands deep love. The feelings she has for Michael seem to transcend their circumstances. Readers will see two sides of the coin with her. They will see her as a young woman in love and full of joy and then they will see her as she feels betrayed and abandoned. It's how she moves forward that makes the love story aspect of the book authentic and believable. I loved both characters and thought the author showed the depth of their personalities and emotions.

The underlying motivations of each of the characters was really fun to watch develop. Michael's sense of duty, Adam's power trip, Cassandra's duty to family, General Powell's greed. All of these things worked together to provide a great plot line and lots of possibilities for the rest of the series. I recommend this one to Sci-Fi readers, paranormal and urban fantasy fans and even mainstream romance readers. This book really packs an emotional punch, while still providing heart-pounding suspense and adventure. A book for many different tastes!

The Legend of Michael is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Check out the sidebar for a chance to win one of two copies of The Legend of Michael.

Award winning author Lisa Renee Jones has published more than fifteen novels in several different languages, spanning multiple genres of romance: contemporary, romantic suspense, dark paranormal, and erotic fiction. Her awards include first place in the Romantic Times Aspiring Writers Contest. She currently lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Annoucement: John Herrick Disaster Relief

I have an announcement to make on behalf of author John Herrick. I recently reviewed John's book, From the Dead and got a lot of responses from readers about it.

John is from St. Louis, Missouri. His home state has been devastated by deadly tornadoes and storms in the past few weeks.

Because of this John has decided to donate 100% of his authors earnings from Kindle sales to disaster relief from now until June 10th. From the Dead is currently priced at .99 cents for maximum convenience. If you would like to donate to the disaster relief fund and you love to read, this is a great way to do both. I really enjoyed John's book and I know you will too! And helping out in this time of need is essential to the rebuilding of so many communities in need!


Amazon Purchase Link

Service International Link

Winner: The Wedding Shawl

The giveaway for one copy of The Wedding Shawl by Sally Goldenbaum ended recently. Due to my busy schedule, I picked the winner choosing, today. This book will be sent out directly from the publisher.

Thanks to everyone who participated!

The Winner is:


Winner: The Bake-Off

The giveaway for two copies of The Bake Off by Beth Kendrick ended recently. I have been super busy and didn't pick winners until today. I used to choose the two winners who will be notified later today.

Thanks to everyone for participating!

The winners are:


Review and Giveaway: Queen of Kings

Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley

Publication Date: May 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Historical, Paranormal
Pages: Hardcover, 384pp
ISBN-13: 9780525952176

(Received for review from Dutton/Penguin)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Maria Dahvana Headley on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter

Excerpt from
Queen of Kings
Book Trailer:

Synopsis (Book Jacket):


The year is 30 BC. Octavian Caesar and his legions are poised to enter Alexandria. A messenger informs Queen Cleopatra that her beloved Mark Antony has died by his own hand. Desperate to save her kingdom and resurrect her husband. Cleopatra turns to the gods for help. Ignoring the warnings of those around her, she summons Sekhmet, goddess of death and destruction and strikes a mortal bargain. But not even the wisest of Egypt's scholars could have predicted what would follow.

In exchange for Antony's soul, Sekhmet demands something in return. Cleopatra herself. Egypt's queen is possessed, transformed into a vampiric creature of mythical proportions, an immortal shapeshifter with superhuman strength, at once ferocious and seductive. Fighting to preserve something of her humanity, Cleopatra pursues Octavian back to Rome. She desires revenge, she yearns for her children and she craves human blood.

Clashing against witches and monsters, gods and warriors, Cleopatra journeys from the tombs of the pharaohs to the great amphitheaters of Imperial Rome to the ancient underworld, where she will meet her love once again, and where the battle between man and beast will determine the fate of the world.

Blending history, mythology, and the darkest of fantasy, Queen of Kings b rings the timeless story of Cleopatra to life like never before in this stunningly original and spellbinding debut.


Author Maria Dahvana Headley takes the timeless tale of Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt to new heights in her fiction debut,
Queen of Kings. Headley's unique gift to take a story that has captured the minds of readers for centuries and transform into something new and refreshing will have readers on the edge of their seats. This isn't your typical historical retelling of the love story between Cleopatra and Antony. With gods and monsters, shapeshifters and mythological creatures, Queen of Kings packs a definite punch. Paranormal readers and historical fans alike will find something original and different in this book.

When Cleopatra learns of her lover, Antony's death from suicide, she is beside herself. Antony was her life, he meant as much to her as the throne of Egypt. Against the advice of her closest advisers and friends she decides to do something drastic. Calling upon the mythological goddess of War and Destruction, Cleopatra hopes to make a deal that will bring Antony back to her in one form or another. But such things always carry a heavy price and in this case, it's Cleopatra's life. When she bargains with Sekhmet, she becomes her minion, carrying out her demonic plans on earth. Cleopatra becomes more than just a queen. A creature that thrives on human blood and craves the destruction of the world. Will she able to maintain her kingdom as she sinks deeper into the clutches of this monster inside her? Will she reunite with Antony, her only love?

The first thing I want to say about this book is WOW! This is a stunning retelling of the story of one of the most famous queen's in history. Cleopatra comes alive and in a very chilling way in this novel. Author Maria Dahvana Headley has crossed a lot of boundaries with this book. It is in part historical, part paranormal, part fantasy. It blends the three flawlessly together to create a story that will have readers biting their nails and sleeping with the light on! It made my skin crawl at times and also made me see the depths that a person could go for love. What would you be willing to sacrifice if you thought you could bring your lover back from the dead? It's a question that seems a lot less fantastical after reading a book like this. (Shivers!)

Headley takes a story that readers have heard a million different times and in a million different ways and is still able to make it new and exciting. To me Cleopatra has always seemed a bit legendary or fantastical. It was hard for me to believe that someone with that kind of magnetism and power could have really existed. So it wasn't that much of a stretch for me to see her has a superhuman shapeshifter. She always had the quality of dark magic about her even in historical text. She seemed supernatural and Headley certainly uses that to her advantage in this book. Headley's Cleo is terrifying in all her glory. She is a dark goddess that wields a power that few can control. It was spellbinding!

Readers will love the way that Headley gives the story a paranormal slant. Using monsters, mythical creatures and epic battles to bring the stark reality of Rome after the fall of Egypt into focus. It was a time of devastation and lawlessness. The author did an amazing job of making the scenes in this book come alive for the reader. Her descriptions of Egypt and especially Rome are dramatic and vivid, leaping off the pages. The reader will feel the sand under foot and the breeze from the Nile on their faces while reading this one. I thought it was great example of using description to make the scene almost appear like a character in itself.

This is one you won't want to miss if you are a paranormal historical fan. I think readers from both genre's will come together to make this one a hit. I recommend it to anyone who has always loved reading about Cleopatra and wants to see a different portrayal. This book is unique and creepy! I loved it. It is set to be the first in a trilogy of books about the Egyptian queen. I can't wait to read the next one!

Queen of Kings is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one a definite 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag, one of my favorites of the year so far!

Maria Dahvana Headley is the author of the internationally acclaimed memoir
The Year of Yes (2006). Her writing has appeared in the The New York Times, Elle, and other publications. She is a MacDowell Colony Fellow and lives in Seattle.


The publisher has been gracious enough to sponsor a giveaway for one copy of Maria Dahvana Headley's book, Queen of Kings of one winner from Debbie's Book Bag!

~ You must be a Google Friend Connect follower to participate.
~ US Addresses only for this one! (Publisher Request)
~ The Deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST June 9th.

1. Please leave a comment in appreciation of the author on THIS post!
2. Please fill out the FORM.

Review: When We Danced on Water

When We Danced On Water by Evan Fallenberg

Publication Date: May 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: Paperback, 256pp
ISBN-13: 9780062033321

(Received for review from TLC Tours)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Evan Fallenberg on the WEB: website, facebook

Excerpt from
When We Danced On Water
Book Trailer:

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

At eighty-five, Teo is ready to retire from the bombast and romance of life as one of the world's most influential choreographers. But when he meets Vivi, a fortyish waitress at a Tel Aviv cafe, the fires of his youth flare back to life - his passion for a woman's touch, his long-buried anguish at his wartime experiences, and his complex engagement with dance. Vivi's life will change, too, as the warmth of Teo's affection counterbalances her harrowing time as an Israeli soldier in an illicit relationship. For both, their investment in art, and indeed in life itself, will reawaken as the ghosts of their suppressed pasts - from Warsaw to Copenhagen, Berlin to Tel Aviv - cry out for forgiveness and healing.

With lustrous prose capturing the grit and fury of history and the breathtaking power of passion, When We Danced on Water is a compelling novel of intimacy and identity, art and ambition, and how love can truly transcend tragedy.


Author Evan Fallenberg tells an absorbing story about a Ballet choreographer and a waitress in his latest novel, When We Danced on Water. Readers will find that this novel is more than just a love story between two people, one in his twilight years and one half his age. It's a story of passion and ambition, and healing from the unseen wounds of the past. Readers will fall in love with Fallenberg's haunting descriptions of wartime and the suffering that took place. This is a must read for readers who enjoy WWII drama's.

Teo is eighty-five years old and still working as a ballet choreographer, but he is considering retiring. The work just doesn't seem to move him they way it did when he was young. As Teo begins to form a relationship with a waitress named Vivi in a cafe in Tel Aviv his passion starts to return in more ways than one. Both Teo and Vivi have had somewhat tragic pasts. Vivi was a former Israeli soldier who had an affair with a Christian man that ended in heartbreak. Teo spent time in Nazi Germany during WWII and will never forget what he suffered at the hands of a torturer. As their relationship grows, they begin to trust and confide in each other and are able to bring out the passions they felt in their youth and forge a love that is full of forgiveness and healing.

Evan Fallenberg's novel is more than just a love story. I enjoyed the fact that the author used two people from different places in their lives to show how love can transcend time and space. Teo is in the twilight of his life, yet he is still very passionate about music, love and the ballet. Vivi is more than forty years younger, yet they share something uncommon, a bond forged from the pain of their past experiences. I thought Fallenberg did an amazing job of showing what they had in common and how it was possible for them to fall in love. This aspect of the book was well written and evocative. The emotions Teo and Vivi share, seep off the pages of the book.

One of the things that I really enjoyed about this book, was Teo's connection to the music. His passion is palpable as the reader reads about how he feels about music and what it does to him. It is rare for people in today's world to be able to have a job or a career that evokes within them real and deep passion. It is truly a gift when a person is able to experience this kind of love for something they are doing. Fallenberg was able to share with the reader the intensity and the depth of Teo's love for music and I thought it was remarkable.

The historical aspects of the book were harrowing and emotional to read. What Teo experienced in Germany will be hard for some to read and even more difficult to process. WWII was certainly not a time for the faint of heart and this is shown through the torture that Teo was forced to suffer. I thought the author did a great job of showing what that time in history was like and how it affected those who were a part of it. This is a story that is full of emotion and the reader cannot help but feel strong emotions as they read. If a writer can make you feel something as you read, they have accomplished something great!

I recommend this one to readers who are looking for a great love story and for those who enjoy reading books that are related to WWII. This is a very emotional book and does go into detail on some of the torture Teo experienced, so keep that in mind as you read this one. It is a short book at just over 250 pages and can be read quickly, but it is a book that you won't soon forget!

When We Danced on Water is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Evan Fallenberg is the author of
Light Fell, winner of the American Library Association's Barbara Gittings Stonewall Book Award for Literature and the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction. His translation of Meir Shalev's A Pigeon and a Boy won the Jewish Book Council Award for Fiction and was short-listed for the PEN Translation Prize. He lives and teaches in Tel Aviv.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Interview and Giveaway: Lisa Renee Jones

Please join me in welcoming Lisa Renee Jones to Debbie's Book Bag today! Lisa is here to talk about her new book, The Legend of Michael, the first book in her new Zodius series. The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for two copies of Lisa's book, see details at the end of the post.

DEB: Lisa, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
LRJ: I left the corporate world for writing several years ago. I use to fly between Austin and Dallas almost daily. I worked crazy corporate hours and was completely absorbed by that world. But deep down writing was in my soul and one day I decided to give it a try and I knew then my corporate days were numbered.

DEB: Tell us a little about your book, The Legend of Michael?
LRJ: The Legend of Michael is the first book in the Zodius series—which is about a group of special forces soldiers who were told they were immunized but were given experimental DNA treatments at Area 51. They become something super human though they are still very much men. They all struggle in their own ways to deal with what has happened to them. These men split into two groups—good and evil. Michael is very tormented about his past and about the unique abilities he has that no one else develops. He can save the world but only one woman can save him.

DEB: What was your inspiration for this book? Have you always been interested in the paranormal? How did you get started with that?
LRJ: I didn’t like paranormal at all for most of my life. Then a friend convinced me to read FEEHAN and I read all her vampires back to back. Next, I met my DH who is a comic geek and paranormal addict. He opened doors for my imagination I am so very thankful for. I watched Angel and Buffy with him in matter of weeks back to back AFTER the shows were long cancelled.

DEB: What type of research did you do for your book?
LRJ: I read Area 51 books, watched shows and talked to military personnel. My ex of 17 years was army and his uncles all Special Forces. My cousin is also married to a Special Forces soldier. My DH is going to med school so he helped me with some of the DNA information. And then I went to Vegas and gambled and saw the city LOTS :) I Iove Vegas and use to go several times a year during my corporate days.

DEB: What is your normal writing day like? Do you have things that have to be in place to write comfortably?
LRJ: I love writing at coffee shops at least once a week to get out of the house. I tend to move around the house. I have a chair in the bedroom and I have an office I use during edits and real crunch times. I tend to write several hours in the morning, work out to work through plot issues, and write several more hours. I write 7 days a week or I lose the story.

DEB: What was it like when you got the word that your first novel would be published?
LRJ: My first book was an ebook and that felt special, even before the e-craze. Then I was in tons of anthologies and never had MY name on a book. Finally, my first Blaze hit a week before my birthday and it was so very sweet. I will never forget that moment, seeing it in Wal-Mart.

DEB: Do have any advice for new writers?
LRJ: NEVER give up and never judge your success by someone else’s. This is your unique path and it can’t be ranked by who did what first. Believe in yourself and embrace your journey.

DEB: When you’re not writing, what kinds of books do you like to read? Do you have a favorite author?
LRJ: I love to read historical because I don’t write historical. That means I escape and just really enjoy the read. However, I am a huge UF fan as well. I adore the Moning FEVER series as much as I love her Highlanders.

DEB: What are you working on right now?
LRJ: I just turned in a proposal to my agent and I have the first book in a Blaze trilogy due Friday which is America’s Next Top Dancer.

DEB: Tell us one thing that people may not know about you?
LRJ: Most people are shocked that I not only ran a staffing agency for 11 years but had my kids so young that they are both grown and on their own now. And I have a little cougar in me, by accident. My DH is 9 years younger than me. I didn’t know that until I fell for him. He knew I was going to freak and avoiding the age issue. I met him at Barnes and Noble. I knew I was in love when he loved books :)


Sourcebooks is offering two copies of The Legend of Michael for giveaway to two winners from Debbie's Book Bag!

~ You must be a Google Friend Connect follower to participate
~ US and Canadian Addresses Only (Publisher Request)
~ Deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST June 8th.

1. Please leave a comment in appreciation to the author on THIS post.
2. Please fill out the FORM.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Review Love Drunk Cowboy

Love Drunk Cowboy (Spikes & Spurs - Book 1) by Carolyn Brown

Publication Date: May 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Inc.
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Western
Pages: Paperback, 416pp
ISBN-13: 9781402253584

(Received for review from Sourcebooks)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Carolyn Brown on the WEB: website

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

She's a self made city girl...

High-powered career woman Austin Lanier suddenly finds herself saddled with an inherited watermelon farm deep in the countryside. She's determined to sell the farm, until drop-dead sexy neighbor cowboy Rye O'Donnell shows up...

He's as intoxicating as can be...

Rancher Rye O'Donnell thinks he's going to get a good deal on his dream property - until he meets the fiery new owner. Rye is knocked sideways when he realizes that not only is Granny Lanier's city-slicker granddaughter a savvy businesswoman, she's also sexy as hell...

Suddenly Rye is a whole lot less interested in real estate and a whole lot more focused on getting Austin to set aside her stiletto heels...


Western romance readers will love the newest book by Carolyn Brown. Love Drunk Cowboy is the first in a new contemporary western romance series, Spikes & Spurs, where the women are trading in their high heels for overalls and cowboy boots. Readers will love Brown's trademark wit and sassy writing style. Her heroes look good with a hat or without anything. Brown writes a sexy story that will have readers gasping all the way to the end!

Corporate America or the watermelon farm? That's the choice Austin Lanier must make when she inherits her grandmothers watermelon farm and winery. She's made up her mind to settle the estate and sell the farm until she meets local rancher, Rye O'Donnell. This sexy cowboy has always had his eye on Granny Lanier's dream property, but her feisty granddaughter may put a wrench in the works. The attraction between Austin and Rye comes to a boiling point and Austin has to decide what's more important to her her stiletto's or her cowboy boots.

Set in a small town, Love Drunk Cowboy is another great romantic adventure from Carolyn Brown. Brown is a seasoned author who has found a niche that works for her. Most of the western romances I've read in the past were historicals and found this contemporary approach to the western lifestyle very appealing. Brown does a wonderful job of showing the stark contrast between life in city and life in the country. Her descriptions of small town, country life will have readers wishing for a simpler time and place in their own lives.

I also enjoyed the whole idea of the heroine trying to decide what was more important to her, the life she left, where she was a high-powered businesswoman, a ball-breaker if you would, and the life she has found on the watermelon farm, quiet and full of possibilities, from wine and rodeo's to new love. I liked Austin's character a lot. She was a very self-assured woman, she had it all together, but she didn't realize that she was missing something in her life and that not only Rye, but life on farm would fill. The transformation of her dreams throughout the book was fun to read.

What's not to love about a cowboy? Sexy, handsome, self-made. Rye had all the qualities any woman would want. Readers will love his attitude and his confidence. He comes across as loyal and trustworthy and just the kind of guy that would get you a little hot and bothered. The romance between Austin and Rye sizzles off the pages. Hot and steamy doesn't quite cover it. If you like a book that's full spice, this one will be right up your alley. (Fans herself...) I enjoyed this aspect of the book and thought the author did a great job of making it seem nature and not forced. I think some writers want to write all the sexy stuff because they think that's what sells and forget that it has to be a part of the story, it has to blend and make sense to the reader. I think Brown does this with style.

Love Drunk Cowboy is the first in the Spikes & Spurs series and I'm definitely looking forward to more. I recommend this one to my romance readers, especially those of you who just can't get the idea of a sexy cowboy out of your head. This one is hot, but it also has a great plot and great characters too boot!

Love Drunk Cowboy is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Carolyn Brown is an award-winning author with more than forty books published, and credits her eclectic family for her humor and writing ideas. Her books include the cowboy trilogy Lucky in Love, One Lucky Cowboy, and Getting Lucky, and in the Honky Tonk series, I Love This Bar, My Give a Damn's Busted and Honky Tonk Christmas. She was born in Texas but grew up in southern Oklahoma where she and her husband Charles, a retired English teacher, make their home. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young.

Review and Giveaway: Ten Beach Road

Ten Beach Road by Wendy Wax

Publication Date: May 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: Paperback, 432pp
ISBN-13: 9780425240861

(Received for review from TLC Tours)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Wendy Wax on the WEB: website, facebook, twitter

Excerpt from Ten Beach Road

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

On the brink of ruin, three very different women discover themselves where they least expect... at Ten Beach Road.

Madeline, Avery, and Nikki are strangers to one another, but they have one thing in common. They each wake up one morning to discover that their life savings have vanished, along with their trusted financial manager... leaving them with nothing but co-ownership of a ramshackle beachfront house.

Madeline Singer is a homemaker comping with empty-nest syndrome and an unemployed husband. Avery Lawford is an architect - or was, until she somehow became the sidekick on her ex-husband's TV show. And professional matchmaker Nikki Grant is trying to recover from her biggest mistake...

No one is going to save them but themselves. Determined to fight back, they throw their lots in together and take on the challenge of restoring the historic beach house to its former glory. But just as they begin to reinvent themselves and discover the power of friendship, their secrets threaten to tear down their trust, and destroy their lives a second time...


Ten Beach Road is the story of three women and their journey to re-invent themselves after their lives are forever changed. Author Wendy Wax gives readers a book that explores the depth of friendship between three women and what they do, when they believe they've lost everything. Readers will love Wax' wit and simple but refreshing writing style. There are no hidden agenda's or mysteries to unravel in this one, it's all clearly about the journey, the self-discovery, and the dynamics of this unforgettable group of women.

Maddie, Avery, and Nikki wake up one morning to find that their life savings are gone in one fell swoop. Malcolm Dyer, their trusted financial adviser is suspected of conducting a Ponzi scheme that has left these three women and many others with nothing left. Except for Bella Flora, a run-down beachfront property in Florida that they each now own one third of. Their original idea is to sell the place or level it and sell the property, but when they discover it is a historic landmark, they decide to spend the summer renovating the house, in order to re-coop a little of their lost money. They have no idea that working together on this project will once again change their lives forever. Through friendship, pain, betrayal and untold secrets, these three women discover themselves in new and exciting ways.

The plot of Wendy Wax' latest novel is taken right out of the headlines. Three women lose just about everything they have in a Ponzi scheme that harkens back to Madoff and his scam that resulted in so many losing their life savings. I thought it was very current and well thought out. Wax is able to bring together three women from very different backgrounds, who have suffered a similar fate and are now forced to work together. I liked the fact that each woman had a story of her own, her own reasons for being there and her own agenda. It provides the reader with several different perspectives on this kind of lose and what it takes to start over from scratch.

This book is essentially a story about friendship and the ability we each have to re-invent and change our lives. These three woman are so relatable that readers will find themselves identifying with them in remarkable ways. Each one could be your sister, your mother, or your next door neighbor. The reader will experience that feeling of kinship while reading this one that is rare in a good book. Wax has created characters that are self reliant, yet vulnerable. They need each other and they take strength from each other.

Maddie has a lot on her plate. Her husband Steve, has lost his job because he convinced his boss to invest with Dyer. Her daughter is pregnant and unwed, her son is drop out and her mother in law needs a place to land. She is portrayed as a woman who needs something to believe in. Some thing to get her creative juices running, to give her hope that her future will be better than her present and the restoration of Bella Flora does that for her, along with clarifying what she wants out of life. I loved her character and was really happy to see the growth that she made during this journey of self discovery.

Nikki was the character that seemingly had it all. A great matchmaking business, designer clothes, sports cars and then it was all gone with one phone call. I think that she was the character that struggled the most with losing her money and self respect. She felt defeated and betrayed and she was keeping a secret that could de-rail the entire project. Nikki came across as a resourceful woman who trusted in someone she thought had her back and when she found out she was wrong that was devastating. Wendy Wax created a character with Nikki that needed to learn how to trust again after a very difficult betrayal. I thought she did an amazing job with Nikki and readers will really enjoy how much she changes throughout the book.

Avery was my favorite. I saw a lot of myself in her and I think other readers will too. Avery had plans, she had a career path as an architect and she knew where she was going in life. But things didn't quite turn out the way she thought they would. She put her trust in her husband and spent her life fulfilling his dreams. She lost herself and when he dumps her and she loses her nest egg, she has to try to find that young girl inside her that had such a bright future ahead of her. This project not only brings an old lover into her life, but a new relationship with her mother that she never would have believed possible. To me Avery exemplifies what it means to change your life and take a new direction. Wax did a great job with her character.

This is a very character driven book. It's fast paced. It's not all fluffy and full of joy, and it has some moments of great wisdom in it. This would make a great beach or vacation read or even a lazy summer afternoon book. I recommend it to all of my women readers. This book is about taking a bad situation and making something of it. It's all about the journey!

Ten Beach Road is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Wendy Wax, a former broadcaster, lives in the Atlanta suburbs with her husband and two teenage sons, who have turned her into the shortest member of their family.


The publisher has offered one copy of Ten Beach Road to a winner from Debbie's Book Bag!

~ You must be a Google Friend Connect follower to participate.
~ US and Canadian addresses only (Publisher Request)
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST June 8th.

1. Please leave a comment on THIS post in appreciation of the author.
2. Please fill out the FORM.