Tag Archives: books

Susan Speaks: Purposefully Dark


Although I’ve been at my desk, working, during this holiday break, I decided that since most people aren’t, anything I could or would post would wind up being ignored. So… West of Mars has seemed dark.

I hate the word seemed in fiction because it’s often used incorrectly. Webster’s defines it “To give the impression of being” (or something darn close to that; let’s see how good my short-term memory is these days), and in fiction, that’s often attached to something that actually doesn’t give an impression. All too often, what’s being tagged with seem winds up doing more than giving an impression.

And so I may seem to not be around, but that’s not the whole picture. Because I’ve been here, working, both on client work and my own fiction. My workspace is insanely comfortable and I love to be in here. And there’s only so much Two Dots that a girl can play.

I have Lines of Distinction and Featured New Book Spotlights coming up in the new year. I am debating doing a year-end reading roundup like I used to, but truth be told, I didn’t read 40 books this year (I think my number stands at 38 or 39) and… they weren’t particularly memorable books. At first, looking over the list, I thought it was me, being pickier about the books I read for pleasure. But looking back at various roundups (Here’s 2011’s), I truly was more excited about what I was reading. It felt like in 2017, I was just reading books as a way of marking time.

I will have to fix that.

Give me book suggestions, will you? Books that you love, series you can’t wait to spend more time with.

And send me your manuscripts to edit, so I can afford to buy and support more of the really good stuff that’s being written. See how the cycle works? Buy it, read it, review it, blog about it, someone else buys it, reads it, reviews it, blogs about it… and on and on.

Let’s power some really good stuff to the forefront in 2018, shall we?


April Fool’s Blog Exchange, da Burgh style


I got an e-mail out of the blue, inviting me to join in an April Fool’s Blog Exchange. How could I — why would I — say no? The icing on the cake? The City to my Iron? All the bloggers are in my home town of Pittsburgh, a city I’m not nearly visible enough in.

Enough about me. Today’s blog post is brought to us by a fellow April baby and book lover. Could that matchup have been any more heaven-sent?

birthday wish.

Here’s Tiffany Harkleroad, a woman who has actually laid eyes on me and can vouch to the fact that I’m not an orange S on a red background.

I have been a book reviewer for 4 years now. I have been working at a library for 4 months. I have stacks of books in every room. I papered my living room floor with book pages. I think it is safe to call me a book lover. But how did this love of literature begin? I trace it back to my parents.
My parents are both readers, and even though they had little spare time to read while working full time and raising 3 children, books were always a present in our home. My parents always took the time to read to us, and with us, as our reading skills progressed. As I got older, I would beg my parents to take me to bookstores to spend any allowance or birthday money I had saved up. But the thing that I most strongly remember from childhood was my parents taking me to the library.

Trips to the library were not an easy thing for my parents. We lived in a rural, outlying area, so it was about a 20 minute drive to the library, then we could count on being there for at least an hour, plus the drive back. For busy, working parents, this was a sacrifice, yet my parents never complained a bit. As soon as school was out for the summer, my parents would take me to the library, and help me check out a tower of library books. Two weeks later, we would trek back, return them, and get another stack. I firmly believe that my parents’ support of my library adoration set me up to be a reader for life.

So here we are, 30 years later. I still love books, I still love libraries, and I want to share that love with others, the way my parents shared it with me. Since I have no children of my own, the best way for me to accomplish this is to encourage the children in my community to love books the way I love books. But how?

April is my birthday month, and I like to use that as an opportunity to celebrate the things I love best. Seems like the perfect opportunity to celebrate reading, and encourage reading in my community’s children. So here is what I am doing: I am asking folks to help me build a Children’s Literacy Activity Center for the Ford City Public Library (where I work). I have created an Amazon Wish List of items needed to create the center. I am asking friends, family, and fellow book lovers to purchase items from this list in honor of my birthday. The items will be shipped directly to the library. You can find the wish list here.

It is my birthday wish that I can share my love of reading with the children in my community. I hope you will help make my wish come true.
You can visit my personal blog at talltalesfromasmalltown.blogspot.com, or my book review blog at tiffanysbookshelf.blogspot.com

I think Tiffany might have topped me on this one… I usually release a book on my birthday, figuring I’ll get the gift of royalties and you can keep the goods. But this? Takes it to an entirely new level. Wow.

You go, Tiffany!


You can read my post over at Oh, Honestly, Erin.

A Librarian’s Lists and Letters

Beezus Kiddo

Crank Crank Revolution

D&T In the Burgh

Don’t Forget to Eat

Downtown Living

Emily Levenson

everybody loves you…

jelly jars

‘lil Burgers

Ngewo’s World

Oh Honestly, Erin

Orange Chair Blog

PGH Happy Hour

Radio Chumps

Red Pen Mama

Sean’s Ramblings

Small Town Dad

Sole for the Soul


Tall Tales from a Small Town

The Firecracker Blog

The Pittsburgh Mommy Blog

The Steel Trap

West of Mars

Ya Jagoff

Yinz R Readin


Yum Yum PGH


Censoring and Making Choices


I clicked through to a post this morning that was supposed to be about censoring books. I’ve had Trevor’s Song censored so many times because of its language, I like to be able to laugh it off with fellow authors.

But man, did this post set me off. It was a different sort of censorship.

The author was talking about how she’d published some romances with some sensual or sexual scenes (to what level of sensuality/sexuality, I don’t know) under her own name. Her husband wasn’t thrilled with her choice, because this woman has standing in her community.

She’d brushed him off — and been shocked to discover teens she was familiar with were reading her books. Sex scenes and all.

Her contention was that we parents should be censoring what our kids read.

Now, if you’ve been hanging around my blog for any length of time, you’ve noticed that on Tuesdays, one or the other of my kids likes to blog.

I have read very few of the books they blog about.

To put it simply: I don’t have time. Both kids can read a book in two days during the school year. Less during the summer. Teen Girl Rocks and Reads, as she calls herself, isn’t a teen yet. And she has fallen in love with the ease of Overdrive and her iPod. For her, the iPod is a book depository first and a toy second.

So let’s take a look. Two kids, who each devour books. One mom, a single parent who owns a successful, growing business, who runs the household, who is active in her community, and who has her own life. (pretty much in that order, too.)

Do the math.

Go on. Maybe your head won’t explode like mine just did.

So now I’m going to say something that might be unpopular with the helicopter crowd, but here it is: as parents, our job is to instill values in our kids. When my daughter downloaded a book with sexual content that made her uncomfortable (and hadn’t been hinted at in the book description, she claimed), she simply hit delete. No muss, no fuss. She didn’t even tell me about it until I asked her about a kissing scene in a book I’d recommended to her. When she fessed up, I shrugged it off. She’d done the right thing, as far as I was concerned.

Think about it: she saw something she didn’t like, and she walked away.

For me, that’s the greatest success I could have as a parent. She handled a situation with no drama and no demands that Mom come to the rescue and delete the book so she didn’t have to look at it ever again. She didn’t inform me she was never reading another book, never using Overdrive. Nothing. She just said she wished that the information had been in the book description. If she had known, she wouldn’t have downloaded it.

Yes, my kids are still young enough to need some protection from the world. Absolutely. But on the flip side, I dashed down to a small town half an hour from my home yesterday to pick up my son, who got off a charter bus 10 days after I’d last seen him. We’d had contact once, when he’d asked me to send him a care package.

He was at the Boy Scout National Jamboree. He spent days with new friends I’d never met, led by two men I’d never met (and two I know well), walking in the woods, managing his own schedule, his own cleanliness (a shout-out to the other Scout parents who now chuckle at the words ambient shower), laundry, money, responsibility, and even a day devoted to giving back to the West Virginia community at large.

Even if I had been one of the adult leaders on-site, I couldn’t be there to protect him. To warn him before the many thunderstorms rolled in, or tell him when it was safe to go back out. I wasn’t there to make sure he handled guns safely, or had his harness attached to the zip line properly. Those are the sorts of things that, as a Scout, he is expected to know and be attentive to on his own, even before the staff checked to make sure he was following protocol.

In short: the Scouts instill values in him, values that help him make smart choices.

As a parent, I have tried to instill values in both my kids. And when I see my daughter quietly walk away from a book with content she isn’t comfortable with, I know that while I may have hugely failed in other areas, at least in this one, I’ve been a success.

So, no. I won’t censor what my kids read. I’ll gladly read anything they tell me is worth my time and that they want to share or discuss with me. I’ll let them make their own decisions, and I’ll take a deep breath and let it out each time those decisions prove I was right to trust them.

I got that proof with my son and Jamboree. I got that proof with my daughter and that book.

For all my missteps as a parent — and some have been huge — I know I am doing something right. There’s no going backward from here.


Teen Boy Reads: Behemoth


Hello everyone!

Last week I was out of town, away from all technology, thus being unable to post. But here is Behemoth, the second in the Scott Westerfeld series. Jump in!

Behemoth: Scott Westerfeld
🙂 out of 😀

The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker Powers.
Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan’s peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory.

Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what’s ahead.

Immediately after Leviathan, our story picks up. The Clankers have revealed a new Shocking weapon, one that will bring the Darwinists to their knees. However, the Darwinists have the Behemoth, their fierce new weapon. But the Ottoman Empire is one who remains neutral, and they WILL be a turning point in the war, if the Darwinists can gain their trust.

I have read a lot of series where the books run right into each other, and most of them have been either bad, or awful. This book, by those standards was amazing, not only in the fact that the two books ran right into each other, but the book itself was amazing. Next week, we have the series finale, Goliath, and then we move on to a new series. Most likely the Bartimaeus series, but if I get any other ideas, we will delve into that.

See you next week,
Your Friend at TBR


Teen Boy Reads: Department 19: The Rising


Ok, everyone. Sorry it has been so long, but I have just forgot to post, but will have posts more regularly as summer rolls in. Again, sorry. I wrote this post a while ago, but never posted it. So, I bid you best reads.

Well, It’s here.

Department 19, book TWO! The Rising. Amazing. excited. Lets get it before I can’t type.

Department 19: The Rising
😀 out of 😀 (5/5)





After the terrifying attack on Lindisfarne at the end of the first book, Jamie, Larissa and Kate are recovering at Department 19 headquarters, waiting for news of Dracula’s stolen ashes.

They won’t be waiting for long.

Vampire forces are gathering. Old enemies are getting too close. And Dracula… is rising.

12 weeks after Lindisfarne, The department has picked itself up and most who went survived. But all who went changed. And Valeri Rusmanov has been working Dracula back to life, and the vampires and becoming bolder, and they are leaving graffiti on all the walls. He Rises 91 days to slay Dracula, because after then, Dracula becomes the world’s dictator and all the humans will be non-existent. Unlikely alliances will form, all to bring down these monsters.

Holy Heck in a handbasket. To make this simple, Department 19 blew almost every other book I have read out of the water. The Rising blew the first one out of the water. Yeah. So, next week, I am trying something new. I am going to give a “Reccommended Reads/Recently Read,” and we’ll see how that goes. After that, I will do the Leviathan Trilogy BY Scott Westerfield, and Then Mortal By Phillip Reeves.

See Ya next time,

Your Friend at TBR


Teen Boy Reads: Recommended Reads


Hey everyone,

Today is my recommended reads post. All of these books are really good, so read some!

Artemis Fowl Series- Eoin Colfer
All Books I have reviewed, for the most part
Holes- Louis Sachar
Rick Riordan- I will not read him, but I know he is really good
Margaret Peterson Haddix, Amazing author
I, Q- Roland Smith
Jerry Spinelli
Evil Genius- Catherine Jinks
Alex Rider- Anthony Horowitz
Maximum Ride- James Patterson WARNING!! When Reading a James Patterson Book, look under his name. Patterson Has many people writing under his name!
Eoin Colfer in general
Dan Gutman, Sports
Jack Gantos
HIVE- Mark Walden- LOVE IT!
Rangers Apprentice- Never read it, but have heard nice things about it.
Warriors- Erin Hunter
The Mostly True Story of Jack

Thanks for reading,
Your friend at TBR


Teen Boy Reads: Crater By Homer Hickam


Hey, guys. Sorry I haven’t posted in such a long time, but I just have been sorta busy. Today I have a good book for you. Crater, by HOMER HICKAM as in October Sky, and Rocket Boys. This is the first in a series, and is a great mix of Sci-Fi, Action, adventure, and more.

Lets get in.

Crater, by Homer Hickam
🙂 out of 😀

It’s the 22nd Century. A tough, pioneering people mine the moon for Helium-3 to produce energy for a desperate, war-torn Earth. Sixteen-year old Crater Trueblood loves his job as a Helium-3 miner. But when he finds courage he didn’t know he had and saves a fellow miner, his life changes forever. Impressed by his heroism, the owner of the mine orders Crater to undertake a dangerous mission. Crater doubts himself, but he has no choice. He must go.

With the help of Maria, the mine owner’s frustrating but gorgeous granddaughter, and his gillie—a sentient and sometimes insubordinate clump of slime mold cells—Crater must fight both human and subhuman enemies. He’ll battle his way across a thousand miles of deadly but magnificent lunar terrain before vaulting into the far reaches of space, there to recover an astonishing object that could mean the difference between life and death for every inhabitant on the moon.

Far into the future, the moon has been colonized and helium-3 found on the moon. A few men live on the moon and mine it of it’s Helium-3 to provide to a war-ravaged Earth. One day, when he save his best friend, the mining company owner calls him in and decides to send him on a very dangerous mission.

Crater, having no choice in the matter, is switched to the convoy company and is sent across the moon to retrieve a package for the owner. On the road, he must face everything from traffic delays to the subhuman trying to stop the convoy and, most of all, kill Crater. Crater is no warrior, let alone adult. Crater must wrestle with a budding interest in Maria, the mine owner’s REALLY stubborn granddaughter, who Crater Trueblood, a sixteen-year-old miner truly is, what he really wants to be and CAN be…

Wow. Hickam hit this one out of the ballpark. It has been a while since I read this, but it is amazing. Well, the book was a non-stop kind of book, you know, those books you can’t put down. I enjoyed this book a lot, and was joyed when I was able to check out Department 19, and will be giving you that review next week.

Sorry Again for the lack of reviews these past 2 weeks.

Stay bookworming, (is that a word?) my friends,

Your friend at TBR


Teen Boy Reads: The City of Gold and Lead


Hey everyone,

Next book in the Tripods Trilogy. The name will be explained. Dive in!

The City of Gold and Lead- John Christopher
😐 out of 😀

Long ago, the Tripods–huge, three-legged machines–descended upon Earth and took control. Now people unquestioningly accept the Tripods’ power. They have no control over their thoughts or their lives. But for a brief time in each person’s life–in childhood–he is not a slave. For Will, his time of freedom is about to end–unless he can escape to the White Mountains, where the possibility of freedom still exists. The Tripods trilogy follows the adventures of Will and his cohorts, as they try to evade the Tripods and maintain their freedom and ultimately do battle against them. The prequel, When the Tripods Came, explains how the Tripods first invaded and gained control of the planet.

After Will, Beanpole, and Henry made it to the White Mountains, they were taken in by a society of uncapped men. These men havea plan to get Will, Beanpole, and their best athletes in to one of the Tripods’ Cities by having them win an athletics competition, but will our three friends all make in in and out alive?

The book was good, but it was a lot of talk, and not much happened, although it did go fast, so that made up for it a little bit. Another good point was that the evil dudes were oddly human in a way. The reason the book is called such is because the aliens need heavier gravity, hence LEAD and the GOLD comes from the sheen of the walls, gold. Well, the final book in the trilogy is next week. See you then!

Happy Reading,

Your Friend at TBR


Teen Boy Reads: The White Mountains


Hey Readers,

I recently read The White Mountains by John Christopher. It isn’t the newest book, but it was still phenomenal. So, without further ado, I will launch in. Also, please don’t rage on me because I did not do the prequel first.

The White Mountains-John Christopher
🙂 out of 😀

Long ago, the Tripods–huge, three-legged machines–descended upon Earth and took control. Now people unquestioningly accept the Tripods’ power. They have no control over their thoughts or their lives. But for a brief time in each person’s life–in childhood–he is not a slave. For Will, his time of freedom is about to end–unless he can escape to the White Mountains, where the possibility of freedom still exists. The Tripods trilogy follows the adventures of Will and his cohorts, as they try to evade the Tripods and maintian their freedom and ultimately do battle against them. The prequel, When the Tripods Came, explains how the Tripods first invaded and gained control of the planet.

Many years on the future, an alien race known only to mankind as the tripods, has invaded, destroyed, and turned the Earth back in time. Everyone lives in a permanent pre-industrial revolution era. There is no war, and at age 14, everyone is given a “cap,” a metal mesh that goes over the head and is infused into the flesh. Will, who is soon to be capped, soon meets a man known only as Ozymandias who is posing to be a Vargrant, someone whose mind was destroyed during the capping process. Ozymandias tells him to go south, to the White Mountains where he will live free for the rest of his life, or so he is told.

The book was quite good, especially since I have read a few pretty bad Sci-Fi novels. However, my librarian said that before he had read the book, he HATED Sci-Fi. But, all in all, it was a good book, fusing technology with adventure, escape, and fun. More of the trilogy coming your way!

See you later,
Your Friend at TBR


Teen Boy Reads: Department 19


Well, I have another book for you today. Beware, this book is VERY mature and NOT geared for small children. DO NOT TAKE THIS LIGHTLY!

Department 19
Will Hill
😀 out of 😀

Jamie Carpenter’s life will never be the same. His father is dead, his mother is missing, and he was just rescued by an enormous man named Frankenstein. Jamie is brought to Department 19, where he is pulled into a secret organization responsible for policing the supernatural, founded more than a century ago by Abraham Van Helsing and the other survivors of Dracula. Aided by Frankenstein’s monster, a beautiful vampire girl with her own agenda, and the members of the agency, Jamie must attempt to save his mother from a terrifyingly powerful vampire.

Department 19 takes us through history, across Europe, and beyond – from the cobbled streets of Victorian London to prohibition-era New York, from the icy wastes of Arctic Russia to the treacherous mountains of Transylvania. Part modern thriller, part classic horror, it’s packed with mystery, mayhem, and a level of suspense that makes a Darren Shan novel look like a romantic comedy.

After Jamie Carpenter’s father died, his life changed. And it is not for the better. He has been moving around ever since that day. And now, his mom has gone missing. After being whisked away to top-secret wing of the British Government and given a military-level fight-and-weapons training, he learns that his mother has been captured by vampires. The second oldest, and the second most ruthless vampire, Alexandru, to be exact. This puts Jamie, a TEENAGER, on the hunt for one of the world’s most dangerous creatures, ever.
OMG! I could never stop raving about this book! It was the best thing that I have read in a long time, and that is really saying something. I won’t actually describe the book since I would go on and on and on about it, but I will say that it is a LOT more mature than all of the other books I have reviewed so far, so take caution. If this book was a video game, it is rated M, and as a movie, it would be rated R. Just saying. Young children, take caution. But it is a great book, despite all the blood and vampires exploding. Check the book’s website out at department19exists.com

Saddened by our parting again,

Your friend at TBR


Teen Boy Reads: Guys Read: Thriller


Hey, everyone.

Got another book for you in the series of books designed exactly for teenage guys to read. Well, dive in!

Guys Read: Thriller
Edited by Jon Scieszka
😐 out of 😀 (3/5)

Volume 2 of the Guys Read Library of Great Reading has been described as “chock-full of mystery, intrigue, and nefarious activity.” Also “a pulse-pounding collection of brand-new short stories, each one guaranteed to keep you riveted until the final page.” Who are we to argue? But we will say it’s all that and more.

Guys Read is BACK!! This thrilling collection contains all the Thriller short stories you could ever need! If you did not realize that, reread the title. Edited by Jon Scieszka, we have some of the greatest Thriller novel authors all piled into one!
Well, I can truthfully say that thrillers are not my favorite kind of book. However, this was MUCH better than Revolver, the last book I read. This, being the second of three existing Guys Read books, will be the second in this review trilogy. The next is Guys Read: Sports Pages.
Well, the book was good, but like I said, I don’t really like thrillers. But albeit the fact that it was a whole collection of thrillers, the book WAS good. Not really all that much more that I can say, but I CAN say that I liked the book.

Keep reading, my friends,

Your friend at TBR


Teen Boy Reads: WIldwood By Colin Meloy


Hey everyone! First blog post, more coming your way. So let’s get started.

Colin Meloy
:)(4) out of 😀 (5)

Prue McKeel’s life is ordinary. At least until her brother is abducted by a murder of crows and taken to the Impassable Wilderness, a dense, tangled forest on the edge of Portland. No one’s ever gone in—or at least returned to tell of it.
So begins an adventure that will take Prue and her friend Curtis deep into the Impassable Wilderness. There they uncover a secret world in the midst of violent upheaval—a world full of warring creatures, peaceable mystics, and powerful figures with the darkest intentions. And what begins as a rescue mission becomes something much greater, as the two friends find themselves entwined in a struggle for the very freedom of this wilderness. A wilderness the locals call Wildwood.


After Prue McKeel’s baby brother Mac is abducted by a murder of crows, Prue decides to follow them into what she knows as the impassable wilderness, and she was warned NEVER to go there. After her friend Curtis tails her in, while narrowly missing a train, they are quickly split up and taken into towns with two opposing parties. After many a startling discovery is made, Prue realizes Mac and Curtis are both in a predicament that will pose a problem for them to all make it out alive.

I personally liked this book, having read it three times. The book has a great and captivating storyline, with many different twists and turns, making it necessary to read many parts again to fully grasp the depth. There are pictures in the book, but they mostly look like a pro artist just doodled whatever he thought would go well with the content. The book is suitable for all ages, but can be slightly dark at times. The sequel is out and my thoughts on that will be out soon. See you next time!

-Your Friend at TBR


2012 Reading Roundup


So many traditions have fallen by the wayside around here that I’m glad to see this one continuing. It’s my annual reading roundup.

I wish it wasn’t my least exciting one yet.

For starters, I only read 61 books this year, which is down considerably from past years. My high, you may recall, was 144. The good news is that of those 59, there were only six I didn’t finish.

Twenty-two of these books were assignments from the Review People, so I can’t talk much about them, since I review incognito and all. (Bummer, because a couple of them were good enough to talk to you about.)

It looks like only nine were for my book club, and the only one I absolutely adored was Jenna Blum’s The Stormchasers. It might be my standout for the year, in fact. We also delved into Ariana Franklin’s Mistress of the Art of Death series, reading two of the four. The other two are in our queue. As a group, we love historical fiction and don’t shy away from Biblical Historical, but… nothing stood out this year. If you’ve read some, please let me know.

In a happier vein, I read 10 works of Rock Fiction this year, and reviews for all of them are up. The standouts? Olivia Cunning’s original Sinners on Tour novel, Backstage Passes. Okay, she gets a lot of the rock and roll details wrong, but she can tell a story and write an even better sex scene.

Other Rock Fiction worth reading: DJ Butler’s Hellhound on my Trail. I’ve got the second and third installments waiting for me here, and they had better live up to the first or I’m going hurt DJ. Join me. Book One is fantastic.

Another standout was the horror story, Voice. Joseph Garraty… you read his name here first. Not so scary you won’t be able to sleep, this one’s got a fresh take on what could have been an overly familiar trope.

Sound Bites and Rock Star’s Girl were both fun but not groundbreaking. And Rob Reid skewered everything in sight in Year Zero. Science Fiction fans and Terry Pratchett lovers should jump at that one.

Otherwise… I spent some time with old friends: Rebecca Cantrell’s A Knight of Long Knives reunited me with Hannah Vogel, Stephanie Plum still can’t stop Volume 12, Jennifer Estep’s Gin Blanco series gets better and better. She swears she’s winging the overarching plotline in that series. If so, look out, world.

Those were the highlights, such as they were. It was probably my most disappointing reading year since I started these year-end wrap ups, but I suspect that had more to do with my limited pleasure reading time. Maybe it’s because now that I’m reviewing and editing so steadily, my expectations have risen.

Either way, go pick up the books I’ve highlighted here if you’re looking for something good to read. As always, if you can order them through your local independent bookstore (or, failing that, use either of mine), you’re helping not only an author but a small business and a whole slew of people, as well.


Featured New Book: Ramblings in Ireland by Kerry Dwyer


Kerry Dwyer is another author I’ve gotten to know over Twitter. So, of course… one author + new release equals an invite from Susan, so here you go… Proving that music knows no boundaries!

When I looked at your blog and the single question my first thought were ‘What on earth will I have in common with people who read this site’. I am about double the average age of other contributors and from a completely different musical background. But the more I thought about it the more I felt I was totally wrong. Music can join many different people, people can enjoy many different types of music. Songs that were fist released nearly eighty years ago are coming back into popularity with modernised cover versions. I was brought up in the folk clubs of London and in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s met folk heroes such as Pete and Peggy Seegar, Ewan McColl and Frankie Armstrong. The only popular artist that I ever met was Kirsty McColl but we were both small children at the time. In my book, Ramblings In Ireland, I talk about this time and mention one of Ewan McColl’s best known songs ‘The Manchester Rambler’. Of course I can’t think about walking without thinking about this song and about that time in my childhood. I don’t hear that song very often. One song that has stood the test of generations is ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’. This song was written by Ewan for Peggy. in 1957 It first became a major international hit in 1972 for Roberta Flack and has since been covered and released 68 times. The more famous cover versions were by Celine Dion, Diana Ross, Elvis Presley and Alison Moyet, the version by Johnny Mathis sounds like chocolate. This year Peggy, the woman for whom this song was originally written, has released a new version. with Broadcaster. Her voice is still as magnificent as ever.I think it is wonderful that she has released this song that was written for her all that time ago.

Book Blurb

Ramblings in Ireland

This is not a book about rambling in Ireland.

It tells the tale of one particular walking trip and the memories and musings it inspired.

Exploring the West of Ireland is a time for meditation, spiritual reflection and strengthening the bonds of life. More practically the ability to read a map might have proved helpful. The tourist office in Ireland has all their paths clearly marked. You can’t go wrong if you follow that little yellow man. Or can you?

As British ex-patriate Kerry Dwyer leads Bertrand, her trusting French husband, astray once more, they reminisce and reflect upon accents and accidents, family and friends, love and what it means to be alive. Bertrand doesn’t mind getting lost – he loves Kerry all the more for going off the beaten track.

This is a book about ramblings in Ireland. Walk with Kerry and Bertrand and follow where your thoughts lead you.


My blog
Amazon UK
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Featured New Book: 10 Nights By Michelle Hughes


I met author Michelle Hughes via a Triberr tribe, but it took us awhile before we started chatting. That’s some ice I’m glad is broken… read on and see why.

I released my book 10 Nights, which is a contemporary romance. The song it reminds me of is “Love the Way You Lie“. With Rhett, he’s just such a strong Alpha Male and his dominant personality just seems to override Leah’s common sense. That song talks a lot about how they were like two freight trains destined to collide, and not in a good way. Their relationship is just volatile when it starts, and it continues on that way until the last chapter. I don’t want to give away everything in the book, so I’ll just leave how it ends up for readers to find out.

I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to include a question, but if I am… What would you do if you were asked to surrender ten nights and in return you had the opportunity to have all your desires fulfilled?

There is something about that song that is SO powerful and hypnotic… it’s in the chorus. I love this one, and I’m NOT an Eminem fan, now am I? Call it proof of the magic of a good song.

Here’s the book blurb for you:

After graduation, twenty-four-year-old Leah was determined that no man would destroy her plans for the future. Or so she thought. Her best laid plans and well-ordered life were turned head over heels after her best friend, Janie, invited her to a “coming-out” party.

One look at Rhett and all previous thoughts went straight to hell. He made an unbelievable offer to her: “Give me 10 nights and I’ll show you pleasure beyond your wildest dreams.”

Was this an invitation to paradise or would his request destroy her mind, body and soul?

From virgin to courtesan in 10 nights? Was Leah even willing to consider it?
In a game of cat and mouse in which 10 nights, 10 choices and 10 fantasies could change everything, who would declare victory?

Buy links!
Barnes and Noble


Yeah, there’s been a shark sighting


For you literary types, the shark I’m referring to isn’t the one you may be thinking of. Instead, I’m talking about mudsharks and 1970s lore.

C’mon, rock and roll fans. You get it.

Yep. Led Zeppelin.

Tomorrow, June 6, is the apparent release date (at least according to this press release I came across) for a new book about the Mighty Zep.

Here’s a cut-and-paste of it:

a September 6 release date for the “Trampled Under Foot: The Power And Excess Of Led Zeppelin” book by British music critic Barney Hoskyns.

The 624-page book is described as follows: “A unique look at the history, adventures, myths and realities of this most legendary and powerful of bands, it is a labor of love based on hours of first-hand and original interviews. What emerges is a compelling portrait of the four musicians themselves, as well as a fresh insight into the close-knit entourage that protected them, from Peter Grant to Richard Cole to Ahmet Ertegun, giant figures from the long-vanished world of 1970s rock. Featuring many rare and never-before-seen photographs, it is also the first book on LED ZEPPELIN to cover such recent events as their triumphant 2007 O2 Arena gig and Robert Plant’s Grammy-winning resurgence of recent years.”

Now THIS? Yeah. Bring it. Rocktober’s getting close, after all. This would make great autumn reading — and yes, there’s a shark reference, at least in the press release, which talks about how the mission of the book is to prove there’s more to Zep than mudsharks.

I sure hope there is… and that the book does.


Everybody and their brother’s writing a book


It wasn’t merely inevitable, it was probably forecast by the people who sit around and forecast this stuff.

Everybody and their brother’s now writing a book.

This isn’t necessarily bad, especially if it means more people find and buy my books or if more of those authors hire me to edit their books (although to be honest, I’m pretty darn backed up right now with the editing work. Go, me! And thanks to all my authors for their patience as I work through the queue to their manuscripts).

But this one? I dunno… maybe there are some books that shouldn’t be brought into the world. Maybe there are some people who shouldn’t try to seek out their fifteen minutes, you know?

Like this guy. He’s famous for punching out the legendary Glenn Danzig, and that’s about it. And now, eight years later, he’s compiling the hate mail he got and is putting it into a book.

Could be interesting, but the blurb from the official Facebook page is … full of grammatical errors. If that’s a sign of things to come, unless I’m about to be hired as the crack editor I am, I’ll pass on this one.

Most likely.

(As always, thanks to the guys at Metal Sucks for turning me on to the truly bizarre)


Featured New Book: Just Another Life by Meliha Avdic


Every now and then, someone comes along and does things their own way. Author Meliha Avdic is one of those people. Read on and see what I mean.

For instance, when I asked what song made her think of her book, Just Another Life, she sent me a link. No explanations, just the link.

And you know what? It makes sense. It really does.

Read the blurb and tell me what YOU think:

Only the extraordinary long for an ordinary life.

After a life lived, May learns how extraordinary an ordinary life is in the web of love and hate, sorrow and joy, friends and foes, good and evil, knowledge, understanding and ignorance, truth and illusion.

Hmm, huh? Intriguing…

But there’s more! Check out her buy links — definitely not what the rest of us are doing. And that, too, is different and very, very cool.



Feel free to contact me via e-mail if you wish to arrange alternatives: mbavdic at gmail dot com

For background information:

For extracts


Twitter: @MelihaAB



The stars are in alignment


I can’t believe the world is this coordinated. I can’t, and not just because if I do buy into it, it means I’m a bigger disorganized mess than I am willing to face. That’s simply not an option.

What’s going on is that the summer is being set up for a summer of Metallica, something I ordinarily would be totally into. And maybe I am, but it’s hard to tell when I’m so focused on selling the existing books, writing new ones, and building up the editing business. Which means: my Metalli-love is limited and I didn’t travel to their inaugural Orion Music + More festival. (Hmm. I wonder if next year, I could be a vendor and go sell books, even though that’s not the sort of vendor they’re looking for… what do you guys think?) Truth be told, I was okay with missing it, if only because the only bands I’m currently interested in seeing are Avenged Sevenfold and, of course, the Mighty Met themselves. And there was that pesky matter of being at Boy Scout camp.

Sheesh. When did Metallica fall in importance to the Boy Scouts? It’s funny how life changes.

Which means if I hadn’t been at camp, I’d have stayed home and read a book. Or two. Doesn’t matter which (although one’s made me yawn already).

Two Metallica books are coming out. The first is Birth. School. Metallica. Death. Yep, it’s the one that made me yawn, and I’m still yawning even with word that the book is finally scheduled for a US release — in fall of 2013. Which is, obviously, after the Orion festival, but whatever. We’re still seeing a lot of Metallica for a band who’s NOT recording a new album, let alone releasing it.

The other book is called Metallica: The Early Years and the Rise of Metal. It’s purportedly going to focus on “the massive impact of METALLICA’s first four albums on the international metal scene. The 208-page book shows the birth and rise of the monster known as METALLICA and will link the band — and the American metal scene — with the famed New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement in the U.K. and metal originators such as BLACK SABBATH and JUDAS PRIEST.” (Quote yanked from the press release I saw.)

It’s supposed to be the first and only book to do this.

Okay… I’ll reserve judgment, if you don’t mind.

At least this book is giving details about author Neil Daniels, even if they only say, “Daniels has written about classic rock and heavy metal for a wide range of magazines, fanzines and websites. He has written books on JUDAS PRIEST, Robert Plant, BON JOVI, LINKIN PARK and JOURNEY.” — it’d be nice if they’d provide titles and/or links to some of those backlist titles…

This one’s set to release on May 28, which means you could have read it before the Orion festival and used it to get all pumped. Or, if it sucks, I suppose you could make a collection of biographies about Metallica and say THAT’s your collection required to be a vendor…


A Clown to Reckon With


I’ve long had an uneasy relationship with Slipknot. They either strike a nerve with me — usually but not always in a good way — or I find them too ugly to bear. I’m sure the band’s mastermind, M. Shawn Crahan — you may think of him as Clown — would be flattered.

His art is the same way for me. Fascinating, and not always in a sick way.

So… of course I’m totally coveting his forthcoming photo and art book, The Apocalyptic Nightmare Journey.

Here’s what the press release I saw has to say:

Apocalyptic Nightmare Journey, which will be published by MTV Books in June, is a collection of explorations in darkness and light from Shawn’s experimental photography, his second and equally powerful artistic outlet which he has honed for over a decade. Weird, wired, paranoid, endlessly imaginative and cancerously prolific, he’s created thousands of dangerous representations of reality through eye-gouging Polaroids in numerous styles in this hand-picked collection.

That says everything… and absolutely nothing. Notice that?

I’ve seen pieces of Clown’s work, as it’s been posted online. It’s been enough to make me realize that for a press release that says everything and nothing all at once, it’s dead-on accurate.

The book, featuring a foreward from one of my heroes, Lars Ulrich, will be out in June.

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