Required Reading

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Books I have authored.

Many times I receive books for FREE to give them an honest review. I do not get paid to give a good or bad review. Spotlights are promotional and should be regarded as advertising for the book spotlighted. Regardless of where or how I got a book, my review will be as honest as I can make it.

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Sword In Her Hand by Jean-Claude Van Rijkeghem and Pat Van Beirs

In 1347 a surprisingly modern female protagonist was born in Flanders. Not Flanders N.J. but Flanders a region with a rich history in Belgium.

In the modern world it is entirely to easy to forget how important small and nearly unknown regions of the world had historic impact. Marguerite Van Male was the last heiress of the Count of Flanders. From the authors’ deductions she would have been burning her bra and marching on the Pentagon if she had been born 625 years later. I enjoyed the portrayal of a young woman unwilling to accept the stereotypes of her time period. The authors painted a grimly realistic portrait of poor hygiene, stringent social codes and devastating diseases culminating in an early demise for the bulk of the population.

Even the background setting of the story provided insight to how the wealth involved in sheep and woven goods was changing the fabric of a stagnant society both literally and figuratively. The supplanting of the power of hereditary nobles by the wealth of the rising guilds was a excellent backdrop for the coming of age of a feisty non-conformist.

This is a book that will go well in my list of butt kicking female protagonists.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Jean-Claude Van Rijkeghem

Body of work of Pat Van Beirs

Web Sites:

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Start-Up! Episode 2: The Anti-Social Network by Sadie Hayes

This is a follow up to The Start-Up, a short story on fledgling businesses and the geeky intrigue of Silicon Valley.

I reviewed the first episode and liked it. This picks up where episode one ended. Adam and Amelia, twins are the featured protagonists again. Amelia portrays a clueless coder who revels in technology. Adam is her more business focused brother. The both exhibit startling naïveté in the story, Adam more than Amelia.

I’m familiar with overly ambitious young entrepenurs and I think there was reasonable accuracy at depiciting the unscrupulous behavior where large dollar amounts are involved.

The story reads quickly, one sitting quickly and I read it on my beloved Droid X.

Worth reading.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Sadie Hayes

Web Site:

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

May all your wishes come true this holiday season!
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Temple Mount Code Giveaway Winners

Congratulations to Marjorie from Ontario and
Kara from Indiana!
You have each one a copy of The Temple Mount Code.

Thank you to all the rest of you who participated.
Please stop back there are more GiveAways to come.
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Outrage by Robert K. Tanenbaum

It is always a treat to “discover” a new author. Sad but true with 20 plus books to his credit, Tanenbaum is hardly new but he is new to me. Described as a legal thriller, this book had good cops and robbers mystery aspects with some refreshing social commentary.

Butch Karp and his wife, Marlene are reoccurring characters in Tanenbaum’s books. Note this book stands alone quite well and there is no need to have read any preceding to catch up to the story. I suspect if you enjoy it as much as I did you will track down more of his books but that is another story.

I liked the shoot’em up parts as well as the defense of the defenseless but I most enjoyed the family dynamics of the Karp clan. I think the twins demonstrated a much needed example of how hard it is to buck the system.

I highly recommend the book, I enjoyed it.

Body of work of Robert K. Tanenbaum

Web site:

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Temple Mount Code by Charles Brokaw

In a snap shot of current events, Thomas Lourds’ linguistic talents have landed him in another intriguing mystery. A deadly grad student, a relentless Iranian zealot and a Saudi guardian angel make up the cast of Lourds addressing a mystery that may rock the Islamic wolrd. The forces of evil marshal to thwart Lourds in solving a linguistic nightmare that purports to change the world again.

As in the Lucifer Code and Atlantis Code, Brokaw paints vivid characters with strong characteristics. His main protagonist, Thomas Lourds, is a world famous linguist of immense sex appeal who unlike Indiana Jones attempts to avoid any physical confrontation outside of the bedroom. Once again Lourds shows naïve good character and although he purports to be in good physical condition, he doesn’t seem to have the sense to duck a punch. So far this is pretty much the same description as his last two books. The formula is there is a secret that captures Thomas Lourds’ attention, he ferrets out the secret and is saved from harm by lethal females smitten with his boyish charm. It sounds simplistic but regardless of that, the stories move well, entertain and provide creative action.

As in the Lucifer Code and Atlantis Code, don’t anticipate a great deal of cerebral activity just lean back and relish the action.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of Charles Brokaw

Web Site:

Charles Brokaw author of
the Lucifer Code
The Atlanti
s Code
has a new thriller!
The Temple Mount Code is another action thriller featuring Thomas Lourds
the action linguist!
Two Copies of The Temple Mount Code will be given away this month.

Contest runs from December 13th to December 23, 2011
Nothing to buy or do except fill out the simple form. Comments on the Temple Mount Review will also earn an entry. Contest is open to all, no restrictions on shipping.
Good luck!

Temple Mount Code by Tom Brokow GiveAway!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Temple Mount Code Giveaway

Charles Brokaw author of
the Lucifer Code
The Atlanti
s Code
has a new thriller!
The Temple Mount Code is another action thriller featuring Thomas Lourds
the action linguist!
Two Copies of The Temple Mount Code will be given away this month.

Contest runs from December 13th to December 23, 2011
Nothing to buy or do except fill out the simple form. Comments on the Temple Mount Review will also earn an entry. Contest is open to all, no restrictions on shipping.
Good luck!

Temple Mount Code by Tom Brokow GiveAway!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Interview with H.S. Toshack, Author of The Meerkat Wars

Thank you to H. S. Toshack (‘The Meerkat Wars’) for his willingness to be interviewed and his insightful answers.

1.) Why did you write this book? What initiated this particular burst of creativity?

Basically because I so much enjoyed writing the first two books in the Paka Mdogo series. I should talk about them first of all.

I lived and worked in Africa for ten years, and still miss the continent. Mankind may or may not have originated there, but I felt during those years that I had returned home. Waking up in the Serengeti or the Selous and stepping out of your tent onto the savannah and into the early sunlight is to emerge once more into a very young, and very pure, world.

Then there was Sheena. She was our cat in the Caribbean, and a very special animal (I have stories to tell). So when we moved to Africa she had to come with us. We couldn’t take her on safari. But I fell to wondering (much later) – what if we could have done? What if she had got lost in a Game Park? What adventures might she have had?

So came the first story, Paka Mdogo – Little Cat. It told itself, or rather Sheena told it through me: I had the very strange experience of being not a narrator but a medium.

Why did I enjoy writing it, then? Because it took me back to Africa; and because it brought Sheena alive for me once more.

The second story, The Gradual Elephant, came as easily, and as joyfully.

My third ‘burst of creativity’ began with a great unhappiness. I watch and read the news, and ask myself, ‘Why do we do these things to each other?’

‘Because we see other people, other cultures, other nations as very different from us,’ I answer.

‘But they aren’t, really,’ another voice inside me said, last year…and it was Sheena speaking.

So she began to tell another story, about the time she befriended the Duwara, a meerkat tribe, and found they were at war with the Utongo, a rival tribe – for several reasons, none of which she could see as justifying the terrible things they were doing to each other. She decided to do something about that.

2.) All your books seem to be for kids, why did you choose this particular genre?

My earlier writing has largely been for older (pre-University) students – literature resources to help them prepare for those tricky things, exams. There’s been some travel poetry as well, including, of course, a collection of African poems. Writing for children, however…well that too is like stepping into a younger, purer world, where words are fresh and powerful for your readers, and there’s a good chance they will be amused by your jokes, however questionable.

3.) What was the most difficult part about writing a book?

These books? The research. I don’t find it easy to acquire or retain facts, so I had to make lots of notes. Then you have to be selective – there’s so much information out there. It’s easy to overburden your writing with detail. The story’s the thing.

4.) Do you have a favorite character in the book and if so why?

Obviously it’s Paka Mdogo – ‘Little Cat’ – Sheena. I’ve described her in the book blurbs as ‘a clever and cheeky little black-and-white cat’, and in my press release as ‘a cat for all seasons’; but only the stories can do her justice.

5.) What do you like the most about writing?

Enjoying the stories as they develop. Writing them is more like reading them: it’s an act of discovery. Then there’s putting together the words. And moving them around. And changing some of them. And giving them a last touch before ‘fixing’ them ready for printing.

6.) Where do your new story ideas come from?

Somewhere. Here’s a quote from Paka Mdogo, about Sheena: ‘She had a little dark place at the back of her mind where ideas were born.’ Me too.

7.) What advice has helped the most in your writing?

What I’ve taken from E. M. Forster’s Aspects of the Novel. The book is a direct, simple and authentic account of how fiction works.

8.) This seems to be your third book, do you have something new in the works?

More Paka Mdogo stories. I have a very clear idea of what the last book in the series will be about (it’ll be an enormously difficult one to write) – but I want to take Sheena to several places beyond Africa before that. Or rather, I’ll let her take me.

9.) Who is your favorite author and why?

Jane Austen, because of both her style (humorous, exact, elegant) and her narrative control (unfailing).

10.) What advice would you give for the want to be writer?

Enjoy your writing for its own sake.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Helping A Fellow Author Reach Her Star!

This missive is from a fellow blogger and author:

Recently, I received good news I just had to share! Two of my picture books were accepted in an online contest through!

Round 1 is currently underway! Please help me in voting for my stories by following the links below and clicking “Like”. (Voters must have a Facebook login). The Grand Prize Winner will have their story published online and on digital devices, receive $1,500, and a publishing contract!

Please note that Round 1 ends on December 18th, so every vote counts! Should I make it to Round 2, my stories will be illustrated online in a second round of voting, leading to a Grand Prize Winner! Please feel free to share the above links with your readers and other bloggers.

I would very much appreciate it if you could help me reach my goal of publication!

Thank you in advance, and have a warm and cheerful holiday!


Katie Sparks

Please follow me!

Twitter: @KathrynSparks

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Meerkat Wars by H. S. Toshack

This book has a domestic cat acting as a mediator between two warring tribes of meerkats.

The book provides some very good lessons on helping others. It also shows that just because something is different than you doesn’t mean it is less or more than you, it is just different.

Sheena, the cat, finds herself on an unintended, hazardous adventure. The book demonstrates how philosophic differences, in this case the nature or belief of the One True Sun can turn creatures of similar nature against each other.

There a few well placed illustrations in the book and it reads easily. I like how the author demonstrates positive behavior without preaching about it. I think that will carry much more weight with the reader.

I liked the book, good messages while providing an entertaining read.

It should be readable by the advanced 2nd grader and certainly enjoyed up to and including adults, particularly cat lovers.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of H. S. Toshack

Web site:

(not really his web site but good info.)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Kill Alex Cross by James Patterson

Alex Cross is once more in the cross hairs of a psychopath. This time national security and terrorism are assaulting the Cross family.

You have to give Patterson credit both for the pace of his books and the relevancy to current events. This book moved at a break neck pace and yet showed how life goes on even in the midst of a crisis.

Alex Cross shows a more conflicted moral sense in this book than in some of his others. Samson is still got Alex’s back but is more of a bit player in this book. The relationship to terrorism and the terroristic aspects of some crimes made some aspects of this book difficult to read. The difficulty was that it smacked too true of realism.

Do your self a favor and block out a couple of hours and read it at one sitting, it will save you some angst.

I highly recommend it.

Body of work of James Patterson</a>


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Help Some Kids and Get A Great Deal On A Good Book.

Win-Win Christmas Gift

Whit Gentry wrote an excellent psycho thriller. I reviewed it on Pick of the Literate. This fall Whit’s grandson died suddenly. As a grandparent I can not imagine the pain that ensued from that sad event.

Whit has put his book on which is a website that presents Ebook formats that can be downloaded to all ebook readers, PCs, laptops, and Ipads. Smashwords is a user friendly web-site, they will not be contacting you to buy items. He put the price of his book in ebook format at $0.99 (less than a dollar).

Whatever sales yield between now and Christmas will be donated to St Jude in the name of his grandson Cager Neal Gentry. He will post the money order that he will send to St Jude's for all to see what was achieved.

If you're interested, this will take you to the purchase page --

I am posting this wherever I can to promote both Whit’s excellent book but also to help honor the memory of his grandson.

Whit is one of the good guys which proves that adage that sometimes bad things happen to good people. Rather than bitterness he is trying to help other families and their children through his donation to St. Judes.

It’s less than a buck, do what you can!

Please pass this along if you are so moved. I certainly was.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Creep by Jennifer Hillier

Do not give up after 25 pages! I had trouble getting into this book but once I got hooked, it was impossible to put down. This is a psycho thriller with plenty of emotional trauma, action and spooky people.

Sheila Tao is a psychology professor who has trouble practicing what she preaches. She has a wealth of personal issues and makes the mistake of becoming involved with one of her students with disastrous results.

This book has something for everyone, a pro-football player, homeless people, educationally elite, private eye, psychopath and much, much more. But wait! Buy it today and you will get group addiction advice, serial killers, murder and mayhem.

This was a disturbing but captivating book.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of Jennifer Hillier

Web site: