February 24, 2011

Book Review: AFTERLIVES OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS by Sylvia Browne

 BOOK DESCRIPTION:  Get an All-Access Pass to the Other Side . . .

For decades—on television, in consultations, and in packed auditoriums across the country— renowned psychic Sylvia Browne has been asked one question again and again: “What is my favorite celebrity doing on the Other Side?” Now, for the first time, you can follow the red carpet into the heart of the spirit world. Browne reveals intimate details of how some of our most cherished actors, musicians, and public figures have fared since their deaths, giving us one more glimpse into the personalities we loved and lost. Both moving and rollicking, this is one book that’s truly impossible to put down!  

Afterlives of the Rich and Famous features intimate afterlife accounts of Princess Diana, John Lennon, Heath Ledger, Marilyn Monroe, and other charismatic celebrities. By channeling her longtime spirit guide, Francine, Browne gained unrestricted access to a dimension most of us can only imagine, one in which telepathic communication is the norm and everyone occupies their healthy, thirty-year-old beautiful body. In candid reports, these stars reveal fascinating details about their new lives and the work they’re doing on the Other Side, many even sharing whether and where they intend to reincarnate.

With accounts written entirely in a trance state, Afterlives of the Rich and Famous offers an unprecedented look at life on the Other Side. You’ll find detailed descriptions as Browne brings the spirit world vividly to life and explains how we get there, from what transpires at the moment of death to the extraordinary welcome spirits receive. Afterlives of the Rich and Famous is a book that no one else could have written and a must-read for every fan of this extraordinary assembly of celebrities.


I am a longtime Sylvia Browne fan,  I also believe in and enjoy aspects of the supernatural, including the belief in life after death and reincarnation.  Needless to say, I am Ms. Browne's target audience for her books.  If you are not a fan of Ms. Browne's or are skeptical to the point of not being able to open a new age genre book, you can probably stop reading this review now because Afterlives of the Rich and Famous is likely not for you. 

This book, like Browne's previous efforts, is broken into easy-to-read sections, told in the author's unique voice.  Reading a Browne offering, for this reader, is akin to a warm chat between friends and her books never fail to leave me with a warm, comforted feeling.  My favorite books of hers are those that describe The Other Side and the life that awaits us there.  Afterlives of the Rich and Famous goes one better by describing what awaited those famous celebrities and personalities and what they are doing there now. 

The book begins with a relatively brief introduction to Browne and her spirit guide, Francine, noteworthy for those readers who are new to Browne's repertoire.  Following the introduction is an overview of what happens when our bodies die and the variety of places our spirits may go, including the tunnel to The Other Side, the buildings that populate The Other Side, the horrible Left Door that leads to The Dark Side, The Holding Place and ghosts.  Finally, the section on the "rich and famous" is preceded by a glosssary of terms, in which everything from astral travel to each soul's individual chart is defined.  If you have read any of Browne's previous books you may already understand these sections and feel them redundant but they are clearly geared toward the novice reader. 

The sections on each celebrity begin with an overview of the person's history, including their deaths, which is helpful for those people you may not be wholly familiar with.   Even with those persons I had solid knowledge about I appreciated the quick rundown on before reading the text on their new lives on The Other Side. 

I was pleased with the selection of personalities Browne chose,  including everyone from Bob Marley to Katharine Hepburn to John Ritter to Sharon Tate.  I chuckled while reading about Hepburn, while remembering an earlier assertion by Browne that Hepburn lived so long because she was stubborn and did not believe in life after death.  I felt saddened by Sharon Tate's horribly violent end and relieved reading Browne's account of Tate's productive and happy life on The Other Side. 

The first celebrity written in the book, and one of my personal favorites, is Paul Newman.  From Afterlives of the Rich and Famous

Paul's father was waiting for him at the end of the tunnel, silhouetted against the sacred white light, before Paul even reached Home.  They emerged from the tunnel together, where Paul stepped into the ecstatic embrace of his son, Scott, before greeting the huge crowd of animals and friends from his forty-nine incarnations and from his stunningly productive eternal life here at Home. . . .

Paul's chosen life themes of Aesthetic Pursuits and Humanitarian served him well.  He says that while acting was never his passion, he enjoyed the process of it and appreciated it as a means to an end, with the end being the wealth and celebrity that allowed Newman's Own, the charity that was his passion, to be such a success and, as a result, to help countless people and animals in need.  . . .

Paul believes that "usually those things that 'go without saying' are the exact things that most need to be said," so he makes a pont of expressing that Joanne Woodward was his "rock" and his "anchor" and they're "too much a part of each other to be apart."  He clearly remembers all four of their lifetimes together - - two as husband and wife, one as brother and sister, and one as brothers - - and he frequently visits her and hopes that she is aware of his loving presence.  He has no intention of incarnating again, but promises he'll go right on making a contribution to life on earth "for as long as life on earth needs a helping hand."
pp. 61-62
I greedily rushed through Afterlives of the Rich and Famous in about a day, so anxious was I to hear what Francine, Browne's spirit guide, had to say.  Even those persons that didn't hold as much interest to me prior to picking up the book had my undivided attention; this book is simply impossible to put down.

My only complaint with Afterlives of the Rich and Famous was that it ended too soon.  I, for one, would be thrilled if Sylvia Browne were to provide us with a sequel, including more classic Hollywood figures, including Joan Crawford, Irving Thalberg, Louis B. Mayer, Mary Pickford and Jean Harlow, among others. 

I would most definitely recommend Afterlives of the Rich and Famous to any fan of Sylvia Browne, and to those readers who enjoy reading about "life after life." 

Afterlives of the Rich and Famous  is available for purchase now at major booksellers, including Amazon. I am an Amazon affiliate. If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission.

For more information on author Sylvia Browne, please visit her website

Review copy of this book provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.



Many thanks to Trish Collins of TLC Book Tours for the opportunity for Psychotic State Book Reviews to be a host on this tour. 

February 21, 2011

MAILBOX MONDAY: February 21, 2011

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house during the previous week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists! Mailbox Monday, which was started by Marcia at The Printed Page, is on blog tour—and The Library of Clean Reads is hosting during the month of February.


These are the goodies I received last week:

Wickham's Diary by Amanda Grange from Sourcebooks for review.

SYNOPSIS:  This prequel to Pride and Prejudice begins with George Wickham at age 12, handsome and charming but also acutely aware that his friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy, is rich, whilst he is poor. His mother encourages him to exercise his charm on the young Georgiana Darcy and Anne de Bourgh in the hopes of establishing a stable of wealthy social connections.

At university, Darcy and Wickham grow apart. Wickham is always drinking and wenching, whilst Darcy, who apparently has everything, is looking for something he cannot find. Wickham runs through the money Darcy gives him and then takes up with the scandalous Belle, a woman after Wickham's own greedy, black heart.


Publication Date:  April 2011





A Race to Splendor by Ciji Ware from Sourcebooks for review.

SYNOPSIS:  Inspired by female architect Julia Morgan, this is the riveting tale of a race against time to rebuild two luxury hotels after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed 400 city blocks and left 250,000 homeless.

Morgan's fictional protegee Amelia Bradshaw and client J.D. Thayer will sacrifice anything to see the city they love rise from the ashes; in the process, they can't help but lose their hearts.






Publication Date:  April 2011






The Queen of New Beginnings by Erica James from Sourcebooks for review.

SYNOPSIS:  Alice Shoemaker habitually goes to great lengths to avoid telling the truth about herself and her past. After agreeing to help out a friend by shopping and cleaning for the unknown man staying at Cuckoo House, she soon becomes suspicious that her strange and obnoxiously rude client has something to hide. Clayton Miller's life is a mess. His career as one of the country's best comedy scriptwriters has stalled, and his long-term girlfriend has left him for his ex-best friend and ex-writing partner. Just when he thinks his life couldn't get any worse, he commits a spectacularly public fall from grace, and with the press hounding him, his agent banishes him to the middle of nowhere until the dust has settled. When Alice and Clayton discover the truth about each other they form an unlikely friendship —until Alice discovers Clayton has betrayed her in the worst possible way.

Publicatin Date:  April 2011



What goodies arrived in your mailbox last week? 

Book Review: POSSESSED: THE LIFE OF JOAN CRAWFORD by Donald Spoto

Book Description:  Joan Crawford was one of the most incandescent film stars of all time, yet she was also one of the most misunderstood. In this brilliantly researched, thoughtful, and intimate biography, bestselling author Donald Spoto goes beyond the popular caricature—the abusive, unstable mother portrayed in her adopted daughter Christina Crawford’s memoir, Mommie Dearest—to give us a three-dimensional portrait of a very human woman, her dazzling career, and her extraordinarily dramatic life and times.

Based on new archival information and exclusive interviews, and written with Spoto’s keen eye for detail, Possessed offers a fascinating portrait of a courageous, highly sexed, and ambitious woman whose strength and drive made her a forerunner in the fledgling film business. From her hardscrabble childhood in Texas to her early days as a dancer in post–World War I New York to her rise to stardom, Spoto traces Crawford’s fifty years of memorable performances in classics like Rain, The Women, Mildred Pierce, and Sudden Fear, which are as startling and vivid today as when they were filmed.

In Possessed, Spoto goes behind the myths to examine the rise and fall of the studio system; Crawford’s four marriages; her passionate thirty year, on-and-off-again affair with Clark Gable; her friendships and rivalries with other stars; her powerful desire to become a mother; the truth behind the scathing stories in her daughter Christina’s memoir; and her final years as a widow battling cancer. Spoto explores Crawford’s achievements as an actress, her work with Hollywood’s great directors (Frank Borzage, George Cukor, Otto Preminger) and actors (Henry Fonda, James Stewart, Spencer Tracy, John Barrymore), and later, her role as a highly effective executive on the board of directors of Pepsi-Cola.

Illuminating and entertaining, Possessed is the definitive biography of this remarkable woman and true legend of film.


I will start this review off by stating that I am a huge Joan Crawford fan; she is without a doubt my favorite classic movie actress.  Because of my devotion to her and her films I can easily find something positive with even the most banal Crawford offering but, happily, in this case no such searching was necessary. 

Since the publication of daughter Christina's alleged memoir Mommie Dearest in 1978, it has been a thankless job of sorts to support Crawford and acknowledge not only her contributions to the world of film but also the undeniable talent that was hidden under the tag of "movie star".   Prolific biographer Donald Spoto, who has also offered up works on Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor and Alfred Hitchcock, among others, not only acknowleges Crawford's many contributions to film and those incredible roles she turned out but does an admirable job in exploring Crawford's life and lengthy career, the highs and the lows, without titillating gossip and rehashed attacks on Crawford's character. Spoto himself is obviously a Crawford fan, and for some may come across as a Crawford apologist - for whatever reason, he does not address the question of whether Crawford's first marriage was not to Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. but to a James Welton before she arrived in Hollywood; he did not address the many tales of Crawford's rumored affairs with actresses Dorothy Sebastian and Barbara Stanwyck, among others; nor does he touch much on Crawford's sexual prowess.  However, even without these details, a reader of Possessed will leave the book with an understanding of how complex, driven, willful , fortunate, lonely and utterly compassionate of a person Joan Crawford was. 

It is remarkable today, nearly ninety years after Crawford's initial arrival in Hollywood, how this former laundry worker, a dropout, and struggling dancer would become one of the greatest stars and actresses to be put on film.  Spoto does a commendable job tracing Crawford's early life and fleshing out Hollywood of the 1920s and, when Crawford came into her own professionally, the glamorous and one of a kind 1930s.  Special attention is paid to Crawford's incomparable style and fashion, something some of her films from that time period were better known for than the actual acting or plot (but such films are still fascinating and highly rewarding in this fan's opinion).

Spoto covers Crawford's four marriages, each one to a very different type of man, her decades-long affair and relationship with Clark Gable, her long professional ties with MGM and Warner Bros. and friendships that lasted more than forty years.    He also devotes many pages to Crawford's strained and often tumultuous family relationships, first with her mother and brother and later with her own children, most notably her two eldest, Christina and Christopher.  Spoto does quote sections from Christina's Mommie Dearest as well as quotes from a fellow thespian or acquaintance of Joan's who believed Christina's tale of a harrowing childhood.  He also quotes others who claim that Joan, while strict, was an attentive and loving mother and nothing like the monster depicted in Christina's book. 

Perhaps best of all are the sections of the book that highlight Crawford's many charitable actions and donations, most of which were never publicized during her lifetime.  She not only made many financial contributions to known organizations like The American Cancer Society, The American Heart Association and The Muscular Dystrophy Association, to name a few, but also kept rooms available at a local hospital for persons unable to pay and anonymously picked up their medical bills, as well as those for the studio employees who worked on the soundstages and sets.  She never sought publicity or attention for these deeds and went out of her way to make sure she remained anonymous. 

As a diehard Crawford fan, I didn't learn a lot of new information from Possessed but I did finish the book with a greater admiration for Joan, as both a woman ahead of her time, and a devoted friend.  Her attention to detail, her passionate desire to learn the ins and outs of filmmaking (which she most certainly did) and her fierce refusal to throw in the towel on her career at a time when women over thirty-five were shunned in the industry and expected to gracefully and silently retire, make her a glorious symbol of Hollywood at its finest.  Despite her flaws and her shortcomings, Joan Crawford was and remains one of a kind, one of MGM's "stars in the heavens" and Possessed a touching and reaffirming love note to her accomplishments, both professional and personal, and I think she herself would approve.

Possessed: The Life of Joan Crawford is available for purchase now at major booksellers, including Amazon.   I am an Amazon affiliate. If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission.

FTC Disclosure: This book was borrowed from my local public library. I was neither compensated nor paid in any way for this review.

February 17, 2011

Remembering Colette, Kimberley and Kristen MacDonald

Colette MacDonald  1943-1970
Kimberley MacDonald  1964-1970
Kristen MacDonald  1967-1970

"If, in the future, you should light a candle, light one for them. 
And if, in the future, you should say a prayer, say one for them.
And if, in the future, you should cry a tear, cry one for them." 

James Blackburn, Prosecutor, 1979

Forty-one years ago today, on February 17, 1970, three precious people lost their lives at the hands of someone they should have been able to trust - - a husband and a father.  Please take a moment today to think of Colette, Kimberley and Kristen MacDonald.  They have been gone forty-one years - - forty-one years that their killer has had that they haven't. 

For my personal feelings on this case, a case I have been interested in and gripped with since 1985, where I have gone from innocent to guilty, please read my post here.  For more information about this terrible crime, Joe McGinniss' Fatal Vision and Christina Masewicz' Scales of Justice are excellent resources. 

February 16, 2011

Author Interview: LEIGH MICHAELS and a Giveaway

Today I am pleased to welcome Leigh Michaels, author of the newly published The Mistress' House, a self-described "racy" yet romantic historical tale centering around a property and the people in it, to Psychotic State Book Reviews. She has most kindly answered some questions about her new book, inspirations and writing those love scenes!

Hi Leigh! Welcome to Psychotic State! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me and my readers.

LM: Thanks for the warm welcome! I’m pleased to be here today. 

I just finished The Mistress’ House and really enjoyed not only the historical aspects of the story but also the three stories that all tied in to the one house. What gave you the basis for the story?

LM: I started writing what I thought was a short story where Anne asks Thorne to ruin her – and then I thought, “But how and where are they going to have enough privacy?”, so that’s when the idea of the house came to me. What’s the point of being a rich and powerful earl if you can’t have a private spot to tryst with a mistress? When I finished that first story, my critique partner said it was sad that the house was going to be empty, and that led to the other stories.

How do you get most of your novels’ ideas? Are you inspired by true events or dreams or do they just pop into your head?

LM: I start with a problem – a main character is facing a situation or a challenge which will change his or her life. Then I figure out who would be most affected by that problem, and who would be the worst person for that character to fall in love with. Occasionally I’ll use real events, but by the time they appear in a book they bear very little resemblance to what really happened.

You are a prolific author with nearly 100 books to your credit. How do you keep each story fresh and new?

LM: I put a lot of faith in my characters to act in new and different ways, doing things that are right for them and unique to their story. I don’t plot much ahead of time, so the characters aren’t constrained by my views. That helps each story develop in a direction that’s exciting for me – so I hope it’s exciting for readers too.

You have historical romances, contemporary romances and nonfiction books under your belt. Which genre is the easiest for you to write and which is the most difficult?

LM: Each genre has its challenges. Historical is difficult because of the details – getting them all right and making the story plausible. Non-fiction is difficult because every statement has to be backed up with evidence – no making it up as we go along. Contemporary is difficult because today’s society has fewer limits on behavior, which cuts out a lot of really good story possibilities. I enjoy each one, but none of them are easy.

Who was your favorite character in The Mistress’ House and why?

LM: Georgiana, because she surprised me. She was supposed to be this demure little damsel, only Georgie didn’t get the memo and if she had, she’d have stamped her foot and ignored it and done what she wanted anyway. She made me laugh.

The romance genre used to be reserved for women – female writers and female readers. However, it has become a lot more mainstream, with men not only reading the books but writing them as well. Why do you think these books have moved away from being just “bodice rippers” and acceptable literary forms?

LM:The romance has matured, and readers demand more from their books – deeper characterization, more action, bigger situations and problems – so the line has blurred between romance and other fiction. Publishers have helped by marketing to a wider audience, with titles that a male reader can say without blushing, and cover art that doesn’tinvite comments from strangers on the subway – though there’s still a long way to go in both areas!

The Mistress’ House has quite a few erotic scenes. Are those difficult to write?

LM: Oh, yes. I came to sensual historicals from a background of writing sweet traditional contemporaries, so you can’t get much further apart on the spectrum. I always have to take at least two runs at a love scene to get it right – and sometimes much more. It helps to have my critique partner egging me on and telling me that she wants more details. :)

As a writing instructor and author of books on the craft of writing, what advice would you say is the most important to give to a struggling writer?

LM: You learn to write by writing. Reading about how to write, reading in the field you want to write in, taking classes – all can be very helpful. But you don’t learn to play tennis by watching Wimbledon or reading Sports Illustrated. So put the butt in the chair and write. Then do it again. The more you write, the better your writing will get. I see a lot of talented writers, but the ones who succeed are the ones who are both talented and persistent.

Do you have time to read yourself? If so, what authors do you enjoy reading?

LM: Not as much as I’d like. I read mysteries to relax (Margaret Maron is a favorite), and I read a lot of non-fiction for research.

What is a normal day in the life of Leigh Michaels like?

LM:I start my day by checking email and looking in on the classes I teach in romance writing for Gotham Writers’ Workshop (http://www.writingclasses.com/) and then I open up my current book and read what I wrote the day before. Once that’s neatened up to my satisfaction, I’m in the groove and I write for a few hours. The farther I am into a story, the more time I spend writing. (It’s kind of like getting a train out of the station – it takes a lot of fuel and effort to get a story moving at first, but once it’s started, it takes on energy and speed and I’m just running alongside trying to keep up.) Because I try never to quit for the day at the end of a scene or a chapter, I spend the last few minutes of a writing session working on a very rough draft of what comes next. Then the next day I have something to expand on and polish, which gets me back into the story and the voice.

Can you tell us what project(s) you’re working on now?

LM: I’m taking a bit of a break after finishing three historicals in 18 months. I love writing triple stories (three heroes, three heroines, three conflicts), and I’m working out a couple more in my head, getting ready to write one or both of them.

If you could be any one of your novels’ characters for one day, who would it be and why?

LM: Lady Stone, the gossipy old lady who’s always on the sidelines being amused by all the ins and outs of the social comedy, and who occasionally pulls a string to make things happen. (As well as playing a part in the three stories in The Mistress’ House, she also appears in my upcoming historical releases Just One Season in London, July, and The Wedding Affair, September).

And lastly, if you could use one word to describe The Mistress’ House, what would it be?

LM: Really, you’re going to limit an author to just one word? :) My editor says the book is sexy. My agent says it’s sensual. I say it’s racy.

Thank you so much, Leigh, for taking the time to answer my questions. Best of luck to you with The Mistress’ House and your future projects!

THE MISTRESS’ HOUSE BY LEIGH MICHAELS – IN STORES FEBRUARY 2011

Three beautifully intertwined love stories…

The rules are made to be broken…

When the handsome, rakish Earl of Hawthorne buys the charming house across the back garden from his town home, he never expects the lovely lady he installs there to ensnare him completely…

Again…

After Lady Keighley marries the earl, it seems a shame to leave the house empty, so she offers it to her childhood friend Felicity Mercer, who discovers that the earl’s gorgeous cousin is precisely the man she’s been waiting for…

and again…

Finally, feisty Georgiana Baxter moves into the house to escape an arranged marriage, and encounters the earl’s friend Major Julian Hampton late one night in the back garden. The handsome soldier is more than willing to give her the lessons she asks for…

There is plenty of gossip, scandal, and torrid speculations surrounding the “mistress’ house”, but behind closed doors, passions blaze…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Leigh Michaels is the author of nearly 100 books, including 80 contemporary novels and more than a dozen non-fiction books. More than 35 million copies of her romance novels have been published by Harlequin. A 6 time RITA finalist, she has also received two Reviewer's Choice awards from Romantic Times, and was the 2003 recipient of the Johnson Brigham Award. She is the author of On Writing Romance, published by Writers Digest Books. Leigh also teaches romance writing on the Internet at Gotham Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Ottumwa, Iowa. For more information, please visit http://www.leighmichaels.com/.

AND A GIVEAWAY!

Thanks to the lovely Danielle Jackson at Sourcebooks, I have not one but TWO copies of Leigh Michaels' The Mistress' House to give away! This is a fun, romantic and very sensual/sexy/racy book and if you're a fan of romance, you won't be disappointed. 

To enter, simply leave me a comment and let me know if you prefer historical or contemporary romances and if you like your preferred genre with sugar or spice when it comes to those love scenes. 

(To answer the question myself, and here comes my legal background, it depends.  Sounds like a cop out but I have found that I enjoy certain historical romances as well as contemporary ones and it's all dependent on how they are written and how the story is told.  The same goes with the love scenes.  If they are not gratuitous and merely there for titillation, and they flow well with the story, bring on the spice.)

U.S. and Canada only (my apologies to our overseas friends) and no P.O. boxes.

NO EMAIL ADDRESS WITH YOUR ENTRY = NO ENTRY!

Contest to end on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 11:59 P.M. PST and the lucky winners drawn by randomizer.org on Thursday, March 3, 2011. 

Good luck!

February 15, 2011

Guest Author: JANE ODIWE

Today I am thrilled and honored to welcome Jane Odiwe, author of the newly released Mr. Darcy's Secret, back to Psychotic State Book Reviews.  Welcome, Jane!

I asked Jane to share with me her thoughts on why Darcy and Elizabeth continue  to be the idealized literary couple, 200+ years on. 

The Iconic Darcy and Elizabeth
by Jane Odiwe

Thank you so much, Lori, for inviting me to talk about Elizabeth and Darcy, the iconic romantic couple.

Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy are perhaps Jane Austen’s most beloved characters. Pride and Prejudice was written more than two hundred years ago, yet these characters remain as fresh and fascinating to us as ever.

So, why do we love them so much? Jane Austen tells their story through Elizabeth’s eyes so it’s easy to identify with this heroine who is lively, witty, and loveable, as much for her faults as for her charms. We identify with her because we feel she is like us. Elizabeth is capable of making mistakes, but having realised her errors, she changes and we see her character develop as the story enfolds.

The first time we really see the interaction of Elizabeth and Darcy it is at the Meryton Assembly. Mr. Darcy is seen to be behaving in a particularly disagreeable manner, dancing only with Mr. Bingley’s sisters and ignores everyone else in the room. Everyone has heard that he is a rich landowner, but his wealth and bad manners only serve to make him appear arrogant. He doesn’t seem to care that his words may be overheard. In fact, he is almost goading Elizabeth whom he has heard described as a pretty girl. It’s almost as if he wants to make her aware that she is nobody special, he can have any woman in the room.

“She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.”

It’s no wonder she dislikes him instantly!

At this stage, we also think he’s horrid, it’s only when their relationship starts to develop that we think about the undeniable ‘chemistry’ between them, and question their attraction to one another from what seems such an unpromising start.

To our utter delight, Mr. Darcy finds himself attracted to her even though he is determined to find fault with her, and when she refuses to stand up with him for a dance later on, we rejoice at her opportunity for revenge. The lively banter that ensues between them is what makes their relationship so satisfying. In every respect, Elizabeth proves herself equal in intelligence. She is no simpering female. When they are thrown together at the Netherfield Ball, Darcy begins to enjoy Lizzy’s lively conversation and pert manners. Although she is determined to continue her dislike of him, she agrees to dance with him before she can help herself. The conversation that flies between them is an exercise in brilliant dialogue as each of them tries to better the other with a witty retort. Elizabeth is beginning to realize that however fixed her first impressions of Darcy seemed initially, her opinion of him is changing. She recognizes that they have similarities in their characters; they both like to think that they can use their intellect coupled with a wry sense of humour to win an argument or to make a point.

They behave for the most part as opposing forces that cannot help being attracted to the other. Elizabeth prides herself on reading the psychology of people – she likes to know what makes them tick. The infuriating thing is that she cannot make Darcy out, when she thinks she has the upper hand, he then seizes power to have the whip hand over her.

It is the continual sparring between Elizabeth and Darcy that we especially enjoy. One of them says something designed to provoke the other, and we wait with bated breath to hear their reaction. Eventually, Elizabeth comes to know the real Mr. Darcy as he lets his guard down and when she discovers the quiet way in which he saves her sister Lydia from ruin hence making it possible for their eventual alliance, Elizabeth knows she has been wrong to judge him. Darcy falls in love eventually for all the right reasons – Elizabeth’s intelligence and lively ways have captivated him, and he enjoys the fact that she is not afraid of him or sycophantic toward him. They both change to suit the other because they really love one another unreservedly. Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth both make mistakes, but try to put them right and because they admit to their shortcomings, we love them all the more! In their own way, they have both been proud and prejudiced, but by the end of the book we feel they will never be so influenced by ‘first impressions’ again.

In Mr. Darcy’s Secret, I wanted to explore this theme again bearing in mind that they are both changed, and so will not be so quick to judge the other. Elizabeth, in particular, tries hard not to behave as impulsively in the past, but in the end, when her doubts and fears get the better of her, she knows she cannot be anything but true to herself, which leads to some confrontation. Only for a short while, of course, because with Darcy and Elizabeth, there has to be a happy ending!

I wonder if your readers agree with me. Are Darcy and Elizabeth the most iconic, romantic couple in literature?

MR. DARCY'S SECRET BY JANE ODIWE- IN STORES NOW!

One dark secret can completely ruin a bright future. . . 

From the author who brought you Lydia Bennet's Story and Willoughby's Return, comes a unique look into one of the most famous relationships of all time, in Mr. Darcy's Secret.

After capturing the heart of the most eligible bachelor in England, Elizabeth Bennet believes her happiness is complete-until the day she makes an unsettling discovery. When she finds a stash of anonymous, passionate love letters that may be Darcy's, Elizabeth begins to question the quiet, stoic man she married.


About the Author

Jane Odiwe is the author of Mr. Darcy's Secret, Willoughby's Return, and Lydia Bennet's Story. She lives in High Barnet, North London, and Bath, England, with her husband, three children, and two cats.

In 2003, her obsession with all things Austen really took off when she wrote and illustrated a little book, 'Effusions of Fancy, consisting of annotated sketches from the life of Jane Austen in a style entirely new,' which is a light hearted celebration of Jane Austen's early life, in letters and paintings. In 2007, Jane was thrilled to be asked if Sony Pictures could use her Jane Austen illustrations in a short film; a biography feature about the author on The Jane Austen Book Club DVD.

It was a short step to writing her first novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, a sequel to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Her lifelong dream of becoming a published author came true when Sourcebooks editor, Deb Werksman, rang her one cold, December evening asking to meet her in London the next day to discuss publication. Sourcebooks published Lydia Bennet's Story in October 2008.

Mr Willoughby's Return, a sequel to Sense and Sensibility, was published in autumn 2009. Mr Darcy's Secret is to be published in February 2011, and Jane is contributing to a short story anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, to be published by Ballantine Books, autumn 2011.




So, readers.  What are your thoughts?  Are Darcy and Elizabeth the most iconic, romantic couple of literature?  Or does that crown belong to another couple? 

February 14, 2011

The Winners: THE PERFECT BRIDE FOR MR. DARCY

And the winners of a brand new copy each of The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy by Mary Lydon Simonsen are . . .

Amanda Stephan

&

Skyla11377



Congratulations Amanda and Skyla!  I will be emailing you directly for your mailing address. Please respond within 72 hours so that your new book gets out to you timely.

Thank you to all who visited my blog and entered this giveaway. I do appreciate each one of you taking the time to visit and post here.

I hope everyone will stick around for future giveaways, reviews and interviews.

Thank you again to Danielle Jackson and Sourcebooks for making this giveaway possible.

Compliments to randomizer.org for selecting the lucky winners.

Happy reading!


MAILBOX MONDAY: February 14, 2011

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house during the previous week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists! Mailbox Monday, which was started by Marcia at The Printed Page, is on blog tour—and The Library of Clean Reads is hosting during the month of February. 

Here is my fruitful list from last week:

Wickedly Charming by Kristine Grayson from Sourcebooks for review. 

SYNOPSIS:   Cinderella's Prince Charming is divorced and at a dead-end in his career, so he opens a bookstore and travels the land ordering books and discovering new authors. Still handsome and still charming, he has given up on women, royalty, and anything that smacks of a future.

Mellie is sick and tired of being called the Evil Stepmother. She did her best by her stepdaughter Snow White, but the girl resented her to no end and made all kinds of false accusations.

Neither of them believes in happily ever after anymore, but both of them believe in happily for the moment...




Publication Date:   May 2011



Awaken the Highland Warrior by Anita Clenney from Sourcebooks for review.

SYNOPSIS: Historian Bree Kirkland has always been in love with the past, but when she accidentally wakes an ancient Scottish warrior who's spent the past 150 years sleeping in her backyard, her present is suddenly fraught with danger. Faelan has awakened from the time vault hungry and horny. He grieves for his lost family, wondering who sent the woman to wake him. If she's a demon, Faelan will have to kill her. If she's innocent, she's unleashed the gates of hell in her backyard. Either way they must rely on each other to save their future.






Publication Date:  May 2011







Sleeping Dogs Lie by Sharon Henegar from the author for review.


SYNOPSIS:  On a rainy October night, Louisa McGuire waits in the car while her friend Bob makes a dash into the grocery store. Soon he comes out again—but with him is a woman in a sleek red suit. She leads him to her Mercedes and they drive away. Has Louisa been ditched, or has Bob been kidnapped? She enlists the help of her cousin Kay, owner of an antique store, and two intrepid canines, Jack and Emily Ann, to follow the scant clues to find Bob. Find him they do—but when they learn who he really is, they find out that the stakes are high. Will they avoid being the next victims of a cold-blooded murderer?Funny, cozy and chilling by turns, Sleeping Dogs Lie is author Sharon Henegar's first novel and the beginning of the Willow Falls mystery series. 






The Shepherd by Ethan Cross from the author for review.


SYNOPSIS:  Marcus Williams and Francis Ackerman Jr. both have a talent for hurting people. Marcus, a former New York City homicide detective, uses his abilities to protect others, while Ackerman uses his gifts to inflict pain and suffering. When both men become unwilling pawns in a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of our government, Marcus finds himself in a deadly game of cat and mouse trapped between a twisted psychopath and a vigilante with seemingly unlimited resources. Aided by a rogue FBI agent and the vigilante's beautiful daughter -a woman with whom he's quickly falling in love- Marcus must expose the deadly political conspiracy and confront his past while hunting down one of the most cunning and ruthless killers in the world


Publication Date:  March 2011




World War Z by Max Brooks, a gift from a friend.

SYNOPSIS:    “The end was near.” —Voices from the Zombie War

The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.

Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.

Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, “By excluding the human factor, aren’t we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn’t the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as ‘the living dead’?”


Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, a gift from a friend. 

SYNOPSIS:  "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains."

So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she's soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy.

What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead.

Can she vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you'd actually want to read. 
 

So that is my Valentine's Day Mailbox Monday.  What goodies arrived in your mailbox last week? 

Happy Valentine's Day from
Clark Gable and Carole Lombard

February 13, 2011

Book Review: IN THE STILL OF THE NIGHT: THE STRANGE DEATH OF RONDA REYNOLDS AND HER MOTHER'S UNCEASING QUEST FOR THE TRUTH by Ann Rule

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  FROM TRUE-CRIME LEGEND ANN RULE comes this riveting story of a young woman whose life ended too soon—and a determined mother’s eleven-year crusade to clear her daughter’s name.

It was nine days before Christmas 1998, and thirty-two-year-old Ronda Reynolds was getting ready to travel from Seattle to Spokane to visit her mother and brother and grandmother before the holidays. Ronda’s second marriage was dissolving after less than a year, her career as a pioneering female Washington State Trooper had ended, but she was optimistic about starting over again. "I’m actually looking forward to getting on with my life," she told her mother earlier the night before. "I just need a few days with you guys." Barb Thompson, Ronda’s mother, who had met her daughter’s second husband only once before, was just happy that Ronda was coming home.

At 6:20 that morning, Ron Reynolds called 911 and told the dispatcher his wife was dead. She had committed suicide, he said, although he hadn’t heard the gunshot and he didn’t know if she had a pulse. EMTs arrived, detectives arrived, the coroner’s deputy arrived, and a postmortem was conducted. Lewis County Coroner Terry Wilson, who neither visited the death scene nor attended the autopsy, declared the manner of Ronda’s death as "undetermined." Over the next eleven years, Coroner Wilson would change that manner of death from "undetermined" to "suicide," back to "undetermined"—and then back to "suicide" again.

But Barb Thompson never for one moment believed her daughter committed suicide. Neither did Detective Jerry Berry or ballistics expert Marty Hayes or attorney Royce Ferguson or dozens of Ronda’s friends. For eleven grueling years, through the ups and downs of the legal system and its endless delays, these people and others helped Barb Thompson fight to strike that painful word from her daughter’s death certificate.

On November 9, 2009, a precedent-setting hearing was held to determine whether Coroner Wilson’s office had been derelict in its duty in investigating the death of Ronda Reynolds. Veteran true-crime writer Ann Rule was present at that hearing, hoping to unbraid the tangled strands of conflicting statements and mishandled evidence and present all sides of this haunting case and to determine, perhaps, what happened to Ronda Reynolds, in the chill still of that tragic December night.

I am an avid reader of Ann Rule's books and eagerly await each of her new releases.  Because I am such a fan of Ms. Rule I can always find positives even if those books that are not my favorites of hers.    In the Still of the Night was no different. 

From a novice writer In the Still of the Night would be a passably good true crime selection.  From Ann Rule, author of the flawless Small Sacrifices, Stranger Beside Me and her True Crimes Files series,among others, it's a bit of a disappointment.  For one, I felt that the story was simply not strong enough to be a stand alone book and would have been better served being the central, title story of a True Crime Files volume.  The sheer number of pages from being a stand alone book (over 400 pages) made the story feel a bit slow paced and slightly bogged down; compared to being an entry in a True Crime Files volume, where it would clock in at least half the number of pages. 

My biggest letdown with In the Still of the Night was the unresolved conclusion.  When I read true crime, and I invest my time and energy reading the story and getting to know the victim(s), I want to have closure in my mind that the victim(s) and families have justice.  There is no such resolution in this book.  It is through no fault of Ms. Rule's and she does lay out a substantial list of possible suspects at the conclusion of the book, as well as a reward for further information on Ronda Reynolds' death, but the unfinished business surrounding Ronda Reynolds' death makes me feel that perhaps this particular crime, or alleged crime, may not have been the best subject for a book.

On the upside, Ms. Rule became personally acquainted and involved with Ronda Reynolds' family and it shows in the pages of the book.  I felt as though I grew to know her tenacious mother, Barb Thompson,  as I flipped the pages and this admirable woman is to be admired.  She does the memory of her daughter proud and I felt her heartache and pain as strongly as if they were my own. 

I also believed that Ms. Rule did well in writing former police officer turned private investigator Jerry Berry, expert Marty Hughes and longtime friend to Ronda Reynolds David Bell.  These were all people to be admired and they were more than just names in the book. 

I do hope that In the Still of the Night creates a very belated proper investigation into what I too consider to be a questionable death, giving Ronda Reynolds justice and her family and friends the peace and closure they deserve. 

In the Still of the Night: The Strange Death of Ronda Reynolds and Her Mother's Unceasing Quest for the Truth is available for purchase at major booksellers, including Amazon.  I am an Amazon affiliate. If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission.

For more information on author Ann Rule, please visit her website

FTC Disclosure: This book was borrowed from my local public library. I was neither compensated nor paid in any way for this review.

February 11, 2011

Author Interview: PAMELA SAMUELS YOUNG

Today I am excited to welcome Pamela Samuels Young, author of the Vernetta Henderson mystery series, including Murder on the Down Low, as well as the stand alone legal thriller Buying Time, to Psychotic State Book Reviews.  Pamela has graciously agreed to answer questions about her inspirations, how she gets her story ideas and the best advice for struggling authors.

Hi Pamela! Welcome back to Psychotic State Book Reviews! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me and my readers.


I just finished Murder on the Down Low (absolutely phenomenal!) and, like your thriller Buying Time, it left me thinking long after I had read the last page. What made you decide to write a book about murders of African American men on the “down low”?

PSY:  The Oprah show gets credit for Murder on the Down Low. I can still remember the day I watched in stunned silence as Oprah interviewed JL King, the author of On the Down Low. He boldly professed to sleeping with men, but at the same time, claimed that he was heterosexual. His shocking revelations about the secret world of men on the “down low” really shook me up. The very next day while I was driving to work, the plot for Murder on the Down Low came to me: What if a number of attractive, successful African-African men were being gunned down on the streets of L.A. and no one knew why?

How do you get most of your novels’ ideas? Are they inspired by true events, a la Law & Order, do they come to you in dreams or in the shower (my own personal favorite) or have you made a pact with a literary devil?

PSY:  My story ideas either come to me out of nowhere or are spurred by something I’ve heard or read. The best ideas usually hit me while I’m stuck in traffic. I’ll rack my brain for days trying to come up with a twist for a particular scene, and nine times out of ten, my light bulb moment will happen while I’m in my car stuck in rush-hour traffic.

You have a busy legal career in your “other” life. How do you juggle the demands of the legal profession with the often solitary and intensive life of a writer?

PSY:  Balancing my law practice, my writing career and my family life isn’t always easy. It requires a lot of organization, lack of sleep and sacrifice. I’ve also learned to prioritize and say “no” if I really don’t have the time. Luckily, I have an extremely supportive husband who never complains about me writing all weekend or going away for an entire week to write. My husband frequently joins me on the road when I’m out promoting my books and is my biggest supporter next to my mother.

Your legal expertise is very evident in Murder on the Down Low ; the benefit of your legal background is evident. Did you base any characters from the book, or your other books, on real people?

PSY:  I actually know a guy who’s a lot like Dre. I had a lot of fun fleshing out Dre’s character. Although he’s a “bad guy,” he has a good guy’s soul. He’s also a man’s man with his own set of ethics. While you may not agree with the life he’s leading, there’s something about the person he is inside that makes you want to like him.

Who was your favorite character in Murder on the Down Low and why?

PSY:  Without a doubt, my favorite character is Special. She’s savvy, street smart, and sexy and more often than not she goes with her emotions no matter what the consequences. That makes her both challenging and fun to write.

Being a female author of a genre that used to be fairly reserved for men is quite an accomplishment but you have created a series of books that features strong African American heroines and a stand-alone book featuring an African American hero. Did you think current fiction was lacking with such strong and determined minority characters?

PSY:  Yes! When I finished law school, I developed a passion for reading legal thrillers. But I never saw women or people of color depicted as attorneys in any of the books I read. I would close the novels feeling satisfied with the story, but disappointed about the lack of diversity of the characters. One day, I decided that I would write the kind of characters that I wanted to see. In the process, I discovered my passion. At the time, I was an associate at a large corporate law firm in Los Angeles. Despite the demands of my law practice, I somehow managed to get up at four in the morning to squeeze in a couple of hours of writing before work. I wrote all weekend, in hotels, in airports, whenever and wherever I could find the time. I never really had a true passion in my life until I discovered mystery writing. I’m currently practicing law as an in-house employment attorney for a large corporation, yet I’ve still managed to publish four books in the last five years. Nothing short of passion made that possible.

Your books have a strong element of faith in them, without being classified as Christian fiction. Does faith play an important part in your life?

PSY:  Absolutely! It’s my faith that keeps me afloat with everything on my plate. I’m fortunate that my parents stressed faith in God, hard work and education as I was growing up. Those very important elements of my life are responsible for everything I have achieved.

As a motivational speaker in your (sure to be limited!) spare time, what advice would you give to a struggling author who toils at a day job?

PSY:  Don’t let rejection stop you. When I started my first novel, I understood that most successful writers experienced years of rejection. John Grisham, for instance, continued to practice law while writing his first few novels. He received 45 rejection letters and self-published his first book, A Time to Kill, because people told him no one wanted to read about lawyers. How wrong they were! So whether your goal is to write a book, go back to school, or start your own business, never give up on your dream!

Do you have time to read yourself? If so, what authors do you enjoy reading?

PSY:  I can usually squeeze in short spurts of reading time right before bed or when I’m traveling. I enjoy reading mysteries. Some of my favorite mystery writers include Walter Mosley, John Grisham and Tami Hoag. I just finished Perfect Alibi by Sheldon Siegel and Deeper Than Dead by Tami Hoag. Loved them both!

What is a normal day in the life of Pamela Samuels Young like?

PSY:  Normal? What’s that? When I can, I’ll get in an hour or two of writing early in the morning before work. My work day at the office starts around 8:30 in the morning. It’s usually about six-thirty or seven in the evening before the day ends and it takes me an hour to drive home. If I’m not too tired, I’ll write or revise for a couple of hours in the evening. I do most of my writing over the weekend, unless I’m out promoting my books.

Can you tell us what you’re working on now?

PSY:  I’m currently working on Attorney-Client Privilege, the fourth book in the Vernetta Henderson mystery series. In Attorney-Client Privilege, Vernetta squares off against an unscrupulous female attorney in an explosive gender discrimination case that threatens to bring down a corporation. Meantime, Vernetta’s best friend Special, once again finds herself faced with a personal crises that will make you laugh, cry and root for her until the very end.

If you could sit down and have lunch with one person of historical importance, who would it be and why?

PSY:  Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a courageous man who made sacrifices that improved the lives of so many people, including me.

And lastly, if you could use one word to describe Murder on the Down Low, what would it be?

PSY:  Thought-provoking. I want everyone to think about their own perceptions of HIV once they’re done reading the book. I want people to understand that HIV is not a gay disease. You don’t become infected with HIV because you’re gay, but because you’re available.

Thank you so much, Pamela, for taking the time to answer my questions. Best of luck to you with your current and future projects.  I simply cannot wait to have my own copy of Atorney-Client Privilege in my hands!  I encourage my readers to pick up Murder on the Down Low, one of the best legal thrillers you will read this year!

MURDER ON THE DOWN LOW BY PAMELA SAMUELS YOUNG - IN STORES NOW

A brazen killer is targeting some of L.A.’s most prominent citizens.

The victims are all quintessential family men.
Well-educated.
Attractive.
Successful.

But appearances can be deceiving.

When the baffling murders are linked to a contentious wrongful death lawsuit, two savvy lawyers and a tenacious female detective soon expose a scandalous tale of lust, lies and vengeance.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Corporate attorney Pamela Samuels Young has always abided by the philosophy that you create the change you want to see. Fed up with never seeing women or people of color depicted as savvy, hot shot attorneys in the legal thrillers she read, the Compton, California native decided to create her own characters. Despite the demands of a busy legal career, Pamela accomplished her ambitious goal by rising at four in the morning to write before work, dedicating her weekends to writing and even spending her vacation time glued to her laptop for ten or more hours a day. The Essence magazine bestselling author now has four fast-paced legal thrillers to show for her efforts.

Pamela’s debut novel, Every Reasonable Doubt (February 2006), won the Black Expressions Book Club’s Fiction Writing Contest, received an honorable mention in the SEAK Legal Fiction Writing Competition and was a USA Book News Best Books of 2006 finalist in the mystery, suspense and thriller category. Her second novel, In Firm Pursuit (January 2007) was honored by Romantic Times magazine as a finalist for Best African-American Novel of 2007. Murder on the Down Low (September 2008), Pamela’s third release, was an “Editor’s Pick” by Black Expressions magazine and a finalist for the 2009 African-American Literary Awards in the mystery category, and was a USA Book News Best Books of 2009 finalist in the African American fiction category. Pamela then published her first stand-alone novel, Buying Time (November 2009). The Black Caucus of the American Library Association honored Buying Time with its 2010 Fiction Award, calling the book "a captivating, suspenseful thriller." Her short story, Setup, was selected for the 2006 Sisters in Crime anthology, LAndmarked for Murder.

Pamela has achieved a successful writing career while working as Managing Counsel for Labor and Employment Law for a major corporation in Southern California. Prior to that, she served as Employment Law Counsel for Raytheon Company and spent several years with the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers, LLP in Los Angeles. A former journalist, Pamela began her broadcasting career as a production assistant at WXYZ-TV in Detroit, where she was quickly promoted to news writer. To escape the brutal Detroit winters, she returned home to Los Angeles and worked at KCBS-TV as a news writer and associate producer..

A former Coro Foundation Fellow, Pamela has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from USC and a master’s degree in broadcasting from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She received her law degree from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law and was formerly an adjunct professor at the University of Redlands’ School of Business. Pamela currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Southern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and is the Fiction Expert for BizyMoms.com.

Pamela is a frequent speaker on the topics of discrimination law, writing and pursuing your passion. She is married and lives in the Los Angeles area. To contact Pamela or to read an excerpt of her books, visit http://www.pamelasamuelsyoung.com/.




Faithful readers, stick around for my review of the impossible-to-put-down Murder on the Down Low  . . . coming next week!

February 10, 2011

Guest Author: CHELSEA CAIN

Yes, My Daughter Is Normal: Trials of a Thriller Writer Mom
by New York Times Bestseller Chelsea Cain, author of The Night Season


I wrote my first thriller when I was pregnant, a fact that seems to surprise some people. These people have never been pregnant. Moms understand. They know that hormones can make you do very strange things. Like eat an entire two-pound bag of peanut M&Ms. Or think up a detective and a serial killer and then have the serial killer torture the detective for six chapters.

It all started with childbirth classes.

My husband and I had signed up for a course at the hospital that taught you how to have a baby and then keep it alive the first year. It met Wednesday nights. The first night, our instructor passed around a little sack she'd knitted and announced that it was a uterus. The second night, the movies started. Childbirth videos. The camera fixed, unforgiving, right up there. All labia and crowning baby skull. These videos never went well. The babies were blue and covered in poop. Birth planes were abandoned for emergency C-sections. Surgeons would lift bloody meowing babies from their mother's wombs.

I couldn't take it. 

We dropped out.

But it was too late. I had developed a taste for violence. I started watching thrillers on TV. Brooding British thrillers where bodies were always found at night in the rain. But after awhile it wasn't enough. I started reading thrillers, too. I ordered them three at a time online, and read them back-to-back as soon as they arrived. When I came to the end of the series I was reading, I decided to write my own. This seemed very reasonable to me at the time. Hormones, remember. I started writing in our scary half-finished basement. I finished the book when my daughter was a baby, sleeping in a bassinet next to my laptop.

Here's the thing -- my estrogen fueled rantings sold big. I got a multi-book deal. I kept writing. All the books hit the bestseller list. I was a thriller writer. My books were out in 20 languages. It was great. I was making tons of money. Then a terrible thought struck me: at some point my daughter would read my books. She seemed so innocent, so unaware of the morbid tales that wound round inside her mother's head. I vowed to keep them from her, at least until she was twenty-five.

For the first few years, the topic of my job didn't come up. When we enrolled our daughter at a vegan neo-humanist hippie pre-school, I was careful to be vague about my work. Writing blood soaked thrillers would probably come off worse than the time I brought Cheddar Bunnies to the school vegan potluck.

My daughter, meanwhile, was starting to ask questions. But since she was not allowed to come to my readings, she couldn't quite grasp exactly what I did. She thought I signed books for a living. One day I caught her "signing" a book off our shelf, and I had to explain that you were only allowed to sign books that you had written. 

She is six now, and writing her own books. She is also on to me. "My mother is reading a book with your mom's picture on it," a little boy she knows told her. She's also figuring out that not everyone has a skeleton in their house, or a tub of plastic eyeballs.

At some point, she's going to read one of my books and be mortified. It may be sooner than I think. Last week we were in the car and the topic of books came up. "You know that's what I do," I said. "I write books."

"I know," she said. "I'm always saying to my friends -- my mom's an author. Have you read Sweetheart?"

Sweetheart is the second in my thrillers series, and the dirtiest. When it came out I told my grandmothers that if they loved me that would never read it. 

Now my daughter was talking it up on the playground.

And you know what's terrible? 

It made me proud.

But she's still not reading that book until she's thirty.

Copyright © 2011 Chelsea Cain, author of The Night Season


Article reprinted with permission of FSB Associates and Anna Suknov

Chelsea Cain's newest thriller, The Night Season, is out March 1, 2011.  To read my review of The Night Season, please go here

About the Author

Chelsea Cain's first three novels featuring Archie Sheridan -- Heartsick, Sweetheart, and Evil at Heart -- have all been New York Times bestsellers. Also the author of Confessions of a Teen Sleuth, a parody based on the life of Nancy Drew, and several nonfiction titles, Chelsea was born in Iowa, raised in Bellingham, Washington and now lives in Portland, Oregon, with her family.



For more information, please visit http://www.chelseacain.com/ and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.

February 9, 2011

Guest Author: KAREN WASYLOWSKI

Today I have the honor of welcoming Karen Wasylowski, author of the Pride and Prejudice inspired historical fiction Darcy and Fitzwilliam, to Psychotic State Book Reviews. Welcome, Karen!

I asked her to share with us why she believes Lady Catherine de Bourgh has softened after 200 years.

Lady Catherine de Bourgh
by Karen Wasylowski


For some reason I have always liked Lady Catherine de Bourgh, although she is portrayed as an overbearing harpy in Pride and Prejudice movies and in the miniseries. Was that really the exact image Austen wished to convey? After all, this was two hundred years ago, times and attitudes have changed drastically since then. To examine Darcy’s aunt’s motives and actions you would have to consider it from a perspective alive then, not now.

The Darcys, the Fitzwilliams, the de Bourghs all lived in a time that firmly believed the aristocracy bred an inherently better sort of person, smarter, and more worthy. Even in the military positions of authority were purchased, officers were to come only from the upper classes, the lower classes deemed incapable of anything except drudge work. And while Lizzy was a gentleman’s daughter, elevating her above the working classes, it remained that she had no connections, no illustrious relatives - some were even in trade. Horrors! She possessed no proper instruction in finer ladies accomplishments! Can we blame Aunt Catherine for being incredulous at the merest idea of a match with Darcy when the man himself, who proclaimed to love her deeply, announced he did so in spite of her position? Bounder! If he had difficulty crossing the gap between their positions in society before a lot of soul searching, imagine a stranger, his crazy old aunt. She must have been floored.

She was protecting her family the best she knew how.

Love as a basis for marriage? We are talking about radical thinking in early nineteenth century life, or as it is more usually referred to - The Ideas Of The Young. And, as in all prior and post generations, the ideas of the young baffle the old. No, I find Lady Catherine appeals to me more and more as years go by and the older I become. I understand her now, much more than I did before, because fewer things make sense to me. Twitter? Good heavens but that’s very strange. Who wants to know what time you took out the garbage or how much your shoes cost? Lady Gaga and her meat dress? Justin Bieber? He looks like my neighbor’s grandson, the one that keeps hitting my car with his skateboard.

There are over fourteen million blogs (I hate that word) floating around with eighty thousand new each day. It is a mad house out there and it gives me the migraine. But that’s because it’s not my time anymore, it’s the time of the young. And that’s how it should be.

It’s what keeps the world fresh and new and always spinning.


DARCY AND FITZWILLIAM BY KAREN WASYLOWSKI - IN STORES NOW

A gentleman in love cannot survive without his best friend...


Fitzwilliam Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam couldn't be more different, and that goes for the way each one woos and pursues the woman of his dreams. Darcy is quiet and reserved, careful and dutiful, and his qualms and hesitations are going to torpedo his courtship of Elizabeth. His affable and vivacious cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam is a military hero whose devil-may-care personality hides the torments within, until he finds himself in a passionate, whirlwind affair with a beautiful widow who won't hear of his honorable intentions.

Cousins, best friends, and sparring partners, Darcy and Fitzwilliam have always been there for each other. So it's no surprise when the only one who can help Darcy fix his botched marriage proposals is Fitzwilliam, and the only one who can pull Fitzwilliam out of an increasingly dangerous entanglement is Darcy...


About the Author

Karen Wasylowski is a retired CPA. She and her husband spend their free time volunteering with charitable organizations that assist the poor. They also are actively involved with Project Light of Manatee, providing literacy instruction to immigrants and to members of the community. Karen and her husband live in Bradenton, Florida.


So, readers.  What do you think?  Is it possible for Lady Catherine to not only soften but become downright likable?  And would you accept this "new" Lady Catherine? 



February 1, 2011

Book Review: THE INNER CIRCLE by Brad Meltzer

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  There are stories no one knows. Hidden stories. I love those stories. And since I work in the National Archives, I find those stories for a living.

So says Beecher White, a young archivist who spends his days working with the most important documents of the U.S. government. When Clementine Kaye, his first childhood crush, shows up at the Archives asking for his help tracking down her long-lost father, Beecher tries to impress her by showing her the secret vault where the President of the United States privately reviews classified documents. It is also where Beecher and Clementine accidentally happen upon a priceless artifact-a 200-year-old dictionary that once belonged to George Washington-hidden inside a desk chair. Eager to discover why the President is hiding this important national treasure, the two soon find themselves entangled in a web of deception, conspiracy, and murder that will reveal the most well kept secret of the U.S. Presidency.



The back cover of Brad Meltzer's newest thriller proclaims "Secrets.  Lies. Power. Betrayal.  Murder. . . The Inner Circle - Once you're inside, there's no way out."  That pretty well sums it up. 

This was my first Meltzer book and being a fan of the thriller genre, not to mention adventure movies like National Treasure (where there are quite a few similarities to The Inner Circle), I thought this would be a fun and entertaining book. 

The backdrop for the story is phenomenal.  I loved reading about The National Archives, the secret vault and the inner workings of the U.S. government.  Meltzer's writing was descriptive and colorful, allowing this reader to visually grasp the ins and outs.  The average layperson would easily be able to follow the story; he doesn't pepper the tale with too many characters or too much prose. 

I wish there had been more references to the history involved, which I found fascinating.  A 200 year old dictionary belonging to George Washington, you say?  I would have thoroughly enjoyed getting more of a peek as to everything that was written in that book rather than just a scrumptious taste here and there. 

The book's hero, Beecher, was a perfect anti-hero in the sense that he wasn't an everyday Joe.  He was a loner, kept to himself and more than just a bit of a nerd.  He appeared to live solely for his job, with not even so much as a cat or dog waiting at home for him.  The reappearance of a childhood friend after many years, an accidental find in a room he isn't supposed to be in and a sudden death throws Beecher's world into a tailspin and himself into a whirlwind of espionage and conspiracy and a fight for his life. 

I liked Beecher precisely because he wasn't an everyday Joe and his actions and feelings were realistic without being calculated.  He never seemed to act out of character; rather, he reacted perfectly in character to the world spinning out of control around him. 

As much as I enjoyed the overall story and Beecher, I did feel as if there was something missing - - maybe that one puzzle piece that is never located or waiting on the edge of your seat for something that never happens.  The ending, however, was relatively satisfying, if a bit unresolved,leaving the door open for a sequel that I would welcome. 

In short, I found The Inner Circle to be a fast paced, adventurous thriller that kept me entertained for the duration and Brad Meltzer an author that could easily be put on my "go to" list.  If you like political thrillers and books that are geared for entertainment, The Inner Circle will be a good fit.

The Inner Circle is available for purchase now at major booksellers, including Amazon. I am an Amazon affiliate. If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission.

For more information on author Brad Meltzer, please visit his website





Review copy of this book provided by Hachette Book Group in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.