BOOK REVIEW: The Hollow Man by Paul Hollis

Posted by Ryder Islington, author of Ultimate Justice, a Trey Fontaine Mystery

I love a man with a sense of humor and Paul Hollis certainly has one. His The Hollow Man is fun to read. Though the subject matter of the plot is very serious, the main character, a young analyst for the NSA who is in the field doing things only a trained spy should do, is constantly in trouble, and the author’s humor jumps off the page as this man stumbles through the streets of Europe on the trail of a killer. Assigned to verify intercepted communications and learn if the information has anything to do with danger coming to America, the analyst is in somewhat over his head. His boss calls him “Kid.” He’s no Barney Fife or Maxwell Smart. He holds his own. Barely.

Without the help of Zita, an MI6 operative who shows up just in the nick of time more often than not, the analyst might have ended up dead, or at least seriously wounded, more than once. Zita calls him “Darling.”

Haunted by the needless death of a little girl, and driven by the need to finally succeed, the analyst goes from Spain to Paris in search of the girl’s killer. This is not his assignment, but with visits from the little girl’s ghost, he can’t stop himself.

It’s not my habit to give away many details of a book. A review is designed to give the reader an idea of what I thought of the book. Here’s my thought: I really enjoyed it and think it’s a great read for those who enjoy international intrigue, spys, and suspense with a little humor to ease the tension now and then. Set in 1974, with terrorism as it’s backdrop, this is a story that will keep you on your toes.

Below you’ll find more information about the book and the author, as well as a list of sites where you can find reviews, interviews, guest posts by the author,  and chances to win a free copy of The Hollow Man.


The Hollow Man (1)

Book Description for :

A terrorist’s plot, the assassination of a prime minister, holds the key to an apocalyptic plan to destroy Europe’s economy. It’s impossible to stop, but one man doesn’t know enough to think the world can’t be saved. He’s no hero; not clever or capable, talented or tested. The Hollow Man is just trying to survive in an uncertain climate where terrorism is changing the rules of how we live.

The Hollow Man won 2nd place in World’s Best Story Contest.

Buy the book:

Amazon     Barnes & Noble    Book Depository     Chapters/Indigo


Paul Hollis

Author’s Bio:

Having lived in twelve states and eventually working in all fifty, he fell in love early with seeing the world on someone else’s money. Since then, he has lived abroad nine years while working in forty-eight countries, spanning five continents. These experiences helped Paul Hollis bring his own unique viewpoint to his mesmerizing thrillers.



Connect with the author:    Website  ~  Twitter  ~   Facebook

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Tour Schedule:

Sept 14 – – review / giveaway

Sept 14 – She Reads New Adult – book spotlight

Sept 15 – The Autistic Gamer – review

Sept 15 – Pinky’s Favorite Reads – book spotlight

Sept 16 – A Soccer Mom’s Book Blog – book spotlight / giveaway

Sept 17 – Roughseasinthemed – review

Sept 18 – Book Stop Corner – review / author interview / giveaway

Sept 21 – Olio by Marilyn – review / author interview / giveaway

Sept 22 – Geeks in High School – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway

Sept 22 – Her Book Thoughts! – review / guest posts / giveaway

Sept 23 – A Mama’s Corner of the World – review / giveaway

Sept 24 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – review / author interview / giveaway

Sept 25 – Vic’s Media Room – review

Sept 28 – Library of Clean Reads – review / giveaway

Sept 29 – The Things We Read – review

Sept 30 – The Cheshire Cat’s Looking Glass – book spotlight giveaway

Sept 30 – Deal Sharing Aunt – review / giveaway

Oct 1 – The World As I See It – review / giveaway

Oct 1 – Laura Fabiani – Top 500 Reviewer – review

Oct 2 – My Love for Reading Keeps Growing – review

Oct 5 – A Blue Million Books – book spotlight / author interview

Oct 6 – Book and Ink – review / author interview / giveaway

Oct 7 – Life as Leels – review

Oct 8 – Ryder Islington’s Blog – review / giveaway

Oct 9Create With Joy – review / giveaway



BOOK REVIEW: Asia’s New Wings, The Untold Story of a Little Girl Lost on 9/11 by Clifton & Michelle Cottom

Posted by Ryder Islington, author of Ultimate Justice, a Trey Fontaine Mystery

Asia’s New Wings is a non-fiction book about the loss of 11 year old Asia Cottom on Flight #77, the plane that crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. It is not written by professional authors, and has it’s problems as far as proper writing technique goes, but this story is worth reading. It is not only a story of trajedy, but of triumph, not only a story about pain and loss, but also about faith and recovery.

Asia left behind not only two grieving parents, but an older brother, and many friends.  This book is a tribute to her, and a way for those who suffered the loss to do good. Clifton and Michelle Cottom have created a scholarship fund in Asia’s name and proceeds from this book go toward that wonderful cause.

I recommend this book to anyone who has suffered the loss of a child, or any loss of a loved one. And also, especially to anyone whose faith has flagged as a result of such loss. Below you’ll find all the details about Asia’s New Wings as well as a list of other sites where you can read reviews and author interviews, see a trailer, and put your name in a hat for a chance to win a free copy of Asia’s New Wings.

Asia Cottom lived eleven short years on this earth. Her tragic death on Flight #77 on 9/11 is forever etched in the hearts of the countless people who loved her.




Book Description:

Asia Cottom lived eleven short years on this earth. Her tragic death on Flight #77 on 9/11 is forever etched in the hearts of the countless people who loved her. But her wise and influential life, her positive attitude, and profound faith in God are her true legacy.

You may love God with all your heart and soul, yet not understand what He is doing. In Asia’s New Wings, Clifton and Dr. Michelle Cottom, along with family and friends, walk beside you, sharing their thoughts and offering compassion to help you come to a place of acceptance, when trying to make sense of suffering great loss. The people in this book have learned to come to terms with what God allows, and are now in a place where they can help heal others. If you have gone—or are going through—the “valley of despair,” you will find comfort and empathy from those who care. You will also find hope and the strength to move forward as you rediscover your life.

What Asia’s parents and all those who loved her went through, healed from, and learned will bring comfort and relief to those who travel down the road of loss. Reading and experiencing Asia’s story will truly bring healing and life to all who turn these pages.

Book Details:

Book Title:  Asia’s New Wings:  by Clifton & Michelle Cottom
Category:  Adult non-fiction,  222 pages
Genre:  Self-help / bereavement / personal growth
Publisher:  Next Century Publishing
Release date:  August 25, 2015
Will send books:  USA & Canada
Content Rating:  PG

To see the trailer, go to:



Meet the authors:  

Clifton and Michelle Cottom live in Prince George’s County, Maryland and they have one son, Isiah. The Cottoms are the co-founders and executive board members of the Asia SiVon Cottom (ASC) Memorial Scholarship Fund.




Connect with the authors:   Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter


With Special Book Spotlight feature
on Sept 11 to commemorate Asia’s passing on that day

All of these articles, reviews and interviews are still available.
Sept 7 – Create With Joy – review / giveaway
Sept 7 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy and Sissy Too – review / giveaway
Sept 8 – Mommy’s Gone Shopping Again – review / author interview / giveaway
Sept 8 – TW Brown on Zombies, Border Collies and the Indie Writing Scene – review / guest post
Sept 9 –   Room with Books –  review / author interview / giveaway
Sept 10 – XoXo Book Blog – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Sept 11 – A Mama’s Corner of the World – special book spotlight feature
Sept 11 – Jessica Cassidy – special book spotlight feature
Sept 11 – Nighttime Reading Center – special book spotlight feature
Sept 11 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – special book spotlight feature
Sept 11 – Room With Books – special book spotlight feature
Sept 11 – T’s Stuff – special book spotlight feature
Sept 11 – TW Brown on Zombies, Border Collies and the Indie Writing Scene – special book spotlight
Sept 11 – Deal Sharing Aunt – special book spotlight feature
Sept 11 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy and Sissy Too – special book spotlight feature
Sept 11 – I’d Rather Be at the Beach – special book spotlight feature
Sept 11 – Two Children and a Migraine – special book spotlight feature
Sept 11 – Everyday Gyaan – review
Sept 11 – Penny Minding Mom – special book spotlight feature
Sept 11 – Library of Clean Reads – special book spotlight feature / giveaway
Sept 14 – T’s Stuff – review / author interview / giveaway
Sept 15 – Nighttime Reading Center – review / author interview / giveaway
Sept 16 – Did You Hear About the Morgans? – review
Sept 17 – Deal Sharing Aunt – review / giveaway
Sept 18 – The Autistic Gamer – review
Sept 20 – Writers and Authors – book spotlight
Sept 21 – Hanna Marie Lei – review / guest post / giveaway
Sept 22 – Two Children and a Migraine – review / guest post / giveaway
Sept 23 – For Him and My Family – review / giveaway
Sept 25 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – review / guest post / giveaway
Sept 28 – A Mama’s Corner of the World – review / giveaway
Sept 30 – Penny Minding Mom – review / giveaway
Oct 2 –  I’d Rather Be at the Beach – review / giveaway
Oct 2 –  Jessica Cassidy – review / guest post / giveaway
Oct 2 –  Ryder Islington’s Blog – review
TBD – The Booksnake Etc. – review


Additional Information

Please note that this Rafflecopter and Giveaway is hosted by iRead Book Tours and is being hosted across several blogs. They are overseeing the drawing and assume full responsibility for all aspects of this contest, including notification and prize fulfillment.


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AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Phil Harvey on Show Time

Posted by Ryder Islington, Author of Ultimate Justice, A Trey Fontaine Mystery

Below is an interview of Phil Harvey, author of Show Time, followed by a synopsis, chapter sample and author bio. An accomplished author, Mr. Harvey’s interview is quite revealing. Enjoy!




Phil Harvey is an award-winning author, philanthropist and libertarian whose stories won a prize from Antietam Review and were nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His dark fiction and controversial ideas have broadened debate on violent entertainment, relationships and sexuality. At the core of his fiction stand the motives, methods and goals of the characters. Here he talks about his latest novel Show Time and the release of three new collections: Wisdom of Fools: Stories of Extraordinary Lives, Devotional: Erotic Stories for the Sensual Mind, and Across the Water: Tales of the Human Heart.

Q: Your three new books are collections of short stories in which characters touch something important in themselves or in others.

PH: The centerpiece of my fiction is always the individual. I like to put characters in demanding physical/psychological settings that force them to respond. Frankly this saves work and imagination because some responses are fore-ordained. Other ideas come from experience. Fly fishing. Sex. Upbringing. And so on. Some ideas even spring from other books. Really, the stories run the gambit. A few end in death, one in time travel, a few in redemption.

Show Time engages with seven people and their idiosyncrasies, lust, belligerence, and desire to survive. How they are attracted to each other, how they fight with each other, how they sometimes undermine and then strengthen each other. They boil, they confer, they fight, they make love—but overall, they must survive.

For all my characters, life goes on but is changed.

Q: Tell us about Show Time. The novel challenges seven reality show contestants with the possibility of starvation or freezing to death.

PH: My book explores the use of violence and death as entertainment. We already have real-world examples like the potential fatal violence that helps fuel the popularity of car racing. We like violence. It fascinates us. That’s why it leads the news every night. My idea is that policymakers someday will, perhaps without knowing it, encourage certain kinds of violence to keep people satisfied. Presidents like wars—even though they won’t admit it. Wars unify us. We always support the troops. So deliberate steps to encourage controlled violence are not so farfetched.

Q: Your fiction is occasionally threaded with darker impulses. Why delve into the shadow side?

PH: A wise writing instructor once said, “People don’t read nice. It puts them to sleep.”

I write dark-side fiction because that’s the only kind people read. I am not especially interested in venality, violence (which I really do not like), human weakness, etc. but these are essential elements of fiction. Of course we’re all fallible, and some of my fiction reflects this theme.

In Show Time, the producer arranges for a murder to happen on the show because her entire focus in life is on her ratings. Nothing else matters. We humans can get blinkered that way and occasionally take desperate measures to keep things on track. That’s true reality. But overall, I write in this vein because it is artistically satisfying and readers demand it.

Q: In Beena’s Story an Indian woman is disfigured by acid, in Virgin Birth a surrogate mother is attacked, and Show Time explores personal and social violence. How do you address violence without becoming graphic?

PH: Writing that is too graphic turns people off. Different readers (and writers) have different limits; mine are probably about average. Some would say I’m too cautious but bodies run through and guts spilling out simply seem unnecessary and distracting. It comes down to a matter of style. A very clear case is the “cozy.”  There’s always a murder but never a body.

Q: These three new books include one that has a more erotic tone yet you don’t shy from sexual activity in stories that aren’t specifically erotic. Is there a line here, too?

PH: As to sex, I think I provided the appropriate amount of detail in Show Time and, very differently, in Vishnu Schist, Swimming Hole, and Devotional. Sex scenes can be sexy, even graphic as in Devotional, but clichés must be avoided like the plague. In Charlie Stuart’s Car got a little close to that, I think. I’ll let readers decide.

Q: How do you align your dark fiction with your Huffington Post article about the world getting better?

PH: The reality is that dark impulses, especially violence, will always be there. The world is getting better in part because we are learning to curb our natural violent instincts. We sublimate by watching violent sports. Boxing. Football. NASCAR. We punish. Murderers and rapists are jailed. And so on.

Backing this up must be the rule of law. People are capable of unspeakable horrors. And that includesnice, civilized people. See the enforcers of the Holocaust. See Uganda. See North Korea. The fact that the government has a monopoly on legal violence (wars, executions, etc.) is a good thing. The great majority of citizens want violence curbed, and only a governmental entity can do that consistently.

So, yes, humans will always love violence (see video games), and in the societies that function best, violence will be sublimated. Hence my novel Show Time. Hence my short story Hunting Dora.

Q: You support the rule of law but some of your stories demonstrate abuses of power. Should readers beware authority?

PH: No society can exist without rules that prevent people from harming others. But the government can be a poor purveyor of justice. Where’s the justice in the War on Drugs?  Where’s the justice in taking (by force) billions from hardworking taxpaying Americans and giving it to rich farmers and agricultural corporations?  And on and on.

The government is necessary for some things, and I appreciate that. An army. Rule of law. Enforceable contracts. But it is not such a stretch to depict the government as complicit (behind the scenes!) in a brutal scheme to satisfy Americans’ lust for violence as in Show Time. Readers should worry, because government’s perfidy is backed by government force. The worst perpetrators of violence have been governments. Stalin. Mao. Hitler. Pol Pot. Dystopian fiction is perhaps popular because in the digital age it seems more feasible. Big brother is watching.

On the other hand, people are generally very good about making decisions for their own lives. Over two centuries or so we’ve seen that life can be pretty successful and satisfying in democratic, free market societies. That’s why messy democracy is so terribly important.

Q: What’s the takeaway for readers of your fiction?

PH: I would hope they have journeyed to a place they would not have seen without the novel or one of the stories…that they experienced it and enjoyed being there, became engrossed, and had the pleasure of a good read. I always welcome emails with serious and thoughtful questions. I invite readers of Show Time to think about the complexities of violence. Perhaps this is worth considering: “War unites us. Love divides us.”

Q: It’s interesting that some of your stories revolve around activists. Your own efforts range from philanthropy to utilizing social marketing to distribute birth control, yet some of your characters view “do-gooders” with sharp cynicism.

PH: We compassionate humans so love to think highly of ourselves that we do “good” things without using the brains god gave us. For a decade the U.S. sent huge amounts of grain to India. Result: Indian farmers couldn’t make a living, Indian agriculture stagnated, Indians were generally worse off than they would have been without our “help.”

Doing stuff that feels good instead of stuff that will acutely help is something I really abhor. Feel-good giving is self-indulgent and occasionally cruel. It’s great to feel superior to that panhandler on the corner, so give him a dollar (and assure the future of panhandling) and think how morally superior you are. Whatever you do, don’t think about how you could actually be helpful. Not emotionally satisfying!

So the cynics in my stories are right, only it’s not really cynicism. It’s clarity. It’s intellectual integrity. If you want to help people thenempower them to take control of their lives. And don’t expect gratitude. You’re doing your job; they’re doing theirs.

Q: What’s next for you?

My most promising novel is Just In Time, in which a Wall Street trader is deposited back in the Pleistocene era. The other, Indian Summer, follows a Peace Corps volunteer’s transformation fighting famine in India during the 1960s. I plan to write more short stories focused on the transformative powers of sex and alcohol.

As for myself, I will continue enjoying my married life, being a stepfather, and nurturing my very promising grandkids. And, of course, I’ll continue organizing projects that promote civil liberties through the DKT Liberty Project, work to end the War on Drugs, and debunk yahoos who ignore the reason and science behind immunization and the genetically modified crops that can relieve suffering worldwide.


Show Time (Small)









Future viewing audiences have become totally desensitized to violence and entirely dependent on sensation to escape their boring workaday lives—an addiction nurtured by the media with graphic portrayals of war and crime and with so-called reality programming. Now, TV execs in pursuit of the only things they care about—higher ratings and bigger paychecks—have created the ultimate reality show: Seven people, each bearing the scars of his or her past, are deposited on an island in the middle of Lake Superior. Given some bare necessities and the promise of $400,000 each if they can endure, the three women and four men risk death by starvation or freezing as the Great Lakes winter approaches. The island is wired for sound, and flying drones provide the video feed, so everything the contestants do and say is broadcast worldwide. Their seven-month ordeal is entirely unscripted, they can’t ask for help or they forfeit the prize, and as far as the network is concerned—the fewer survivors the better.

Show Time is erotic and chilling in its portrayal of human survival. Entertainment serves government by dishing up the ultimate reality program to sate a nation of voyeurs and ensure the continuance of our most civilized of societies. Check your calendar—the future is already here.”

—Sal Glynn, scriptwriter, and author of

The Dog Walked Down the Street

Show Time is a gripping page-turner. Reality TV has never been more frighteningly real.”

—John Fremont, author, Sins of the Fathers

“A vision of the future that is laugh-out-loud, until we realize how much it looks like the world we live in now.”

—Frank S. Joseph, award-winning author of To Love Mercy

“A thrilling immersion in the emotional, physical, and sexual reality of characters who thought they were playing a game but find they must fight to survive.”

—Linda Morefield, senior review editor,

The Washington Independent Review of Books

Phil Harvey’s fiction has appeared in fifteen literary magazines, including Phantasmagoria, which nominated one of his stories for a Pushcart Prize, and Antietam Review, which named another the winner of its annual contest. Most recently his work has appeared in The MacGuffin, Natural Bridge, and the Dos Passos Review. Harvey’ nonfiction includes: Let Every Child Be Wanted, which drew praise from former President Jimmy Carter; Government Creep, which, as one reviewer noted, “proves that government has invaded virtually every nook and cranny of our lives”; and The Government vs. Erotica, which Publishers Weekly and Booklist praised, the ALA Intellectual Freedom Roundtable nominated as the year’s best book on intellectual freedom, and Media Coalition called “a frightening, enlightening story.” By day, Phil Harvey is president of DKT International, a nonprofit family planning and AIDS prevention organization. He lives with his wife, Harriet Lesser, in Maryland.

Excerpt: Show Time

Day 198

THE SNOW WAS DEEP, drifting and crusting into whorled shapes under the pale sky. The thermometer nailed to the tree at the edge of the camp area read minus 11, inching down toward the minus-40 line where Fahrenheit and Celsius were equal. Ambrose had a bet with himself that it wouldn’t go that far.

He puffed his breath out, watched the faint cloud quickly disappear in the dry Lake Superior air. I’m going to do it today, he thought. I’m going to start today. The time has come.

He walked carefully to the tree where three wood saws hung, and selected the smallest, a band-type saw with an eighteen-inch blade stretched between the ends of a bowed metal tube. The teeth of the saw were deeply serrated, worn from cutting wood, hundreds of small logs and sticks that had kept them from freezing. He tested the teeth. For all the work they had performed, they remained remarkably sharp. This saw would do, this saw and his hunting knife.

He checked the leg pocket of his pants for the waterproof match container. In the same pocket there were three fire-starter pellets. No shortage of those.

As Ambrose left the clearing, Maureen and Ashai looked up. Ambrose flipped his fingers in a little wave. Ashai nodded back. Maureen looked at him for a moment and then went back to the tedious job of softening boiled lichen with her teeth. It was all they’d had to eat for five days.

Ambrose walked slowly and with great care along the trail to Rudy’s camp, the little saw hanging heavy in his hand. As he walked, his eyes darted from side to side, alert for a rabbit or a vole or perhaps even a fox, but there was no sign of edible life, only fir trees and yew bushes.

Ambrose had been hungry before. He had gone without food for three days on a camping trip in Manitoba. It had not been pleasant, but at the end of the third day they had arrived back at their truck and driven straight to an all-night diner at the intersection of Route 124 and old route 42 where their hunger was soon sated with pancakes and maple syrup.

Here, it had settled into a rhythm. When he woke in the middle of the night, and again in the morning, well before dawn, there was an empty feeling in his stomach, an urgent pull, a void. He knew the feeling would come, and he was afraid of it. Usually, it went away for a few hours during the daylight. Then it came back.

Sometimes, with the others, Ambrose drank hot water just to have some feeling in his belly, but the water didn’t make the empty feeling go away. From the dreaded gnawing, it would progress to a sense of weakness. At the really bad moments, when he sat or lay in the darkness, he could feel his strength draining from his extremities toward the center of his body, a sense that his vital parts were demanding nourishment, and his blood was pulling his energy inward like a turtle retracting its head and legs.

At those moments, Ambrose felt himself becoming weaker and, truly, when he stood up afterward he felt as though his body would not do what he asked, chop wood or walk far. At such moments there was no question of returning to the den he shared with Cecily. He sat down or lay back and hoped for that terrible draining, weakening sensation to go away.

It didn’t take long to reach the clearing on the north shore. What was left of Rudy’s shelter was barely visible under the deep snow, but it was enough to mark the shallow grave where they had left Rudy’s body two months before.

Ambrose went to work. Under a stiff, frozen tarpaulin and a few inches of frozen dirt lay a hundred pounds of frozen meat. It was time.

There was a layer of fresh powder and then a crust, but the crust was thin and Ambrose broke it with his boot heel, quickly uncovering Rudy’s grave. The blue tarp just showed through the dirt. They had dumped enough soil on top of the tarp so the foxes and raccoons wouldn’t find it interesting. With the body frozen, there would be no smell. On that, at least, they had been right. There was no sign of animal digging.

Ambrose pushed the soil back with his gloved hands, standing from time to time to kick at a heavy frozen clod with his boots, then working again on his knees until the blue tarp over Rudy’s body was uncovered. He tugged at the corners of the tarp near where he knew Rudy’s head would be. It took some more kicking and digging until the corners came free. Then he pulled the tarp back slowly, one corner, then the other. There was Rudy. Frozen solid. His once-dark face was nearly white, ashen. One hand stuck off awkwardly to the side, the head turned back in the direction of the main camp.

Ambrose slid his hunting knife carefully out of its sheath and slowly, fearfully, began cutting the back of Rudy’s parka pants.


“Do you think they’ll do it?” Janice McNeely said. She was staring at the #12 monitor.

Jimmy Asaki looked up. “Yes,” he said. “They’re starving.”

“They’ve uncovered him. Look.”

“I see.”

“If they do it, do you think Bud will air it?”


“Maybe they’ll keep it away from the open mikes.”

“I don’t think they care about that anymore. I don’t think they care what reaches the open lines. They’re fighting for their lives.”


About the Author:  Phil Harvey

Harvey AuthorPhoto-(Small)









Phil Harvey’s fiction has appeared in over a dozen literary magazines including Phantasmagoria, The MacGuffin, Natural Bridge, and the Dos Passos Review.His short story Roberta’s River was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and Bait and Switch won an award from Antietam Review. The author’s latest releases, three collections of short stories, examine the important moments when people touch something at their own core or at the core of their relationships with others. Currently he is working on more stories about the transformative capacities of alcohol and sex.

Show Time, his first novel, was hailed by the Washington Independent Review of Books as “a psychological thriller that takes reality shows, and in fact much of our popular culture, into a realm of true horror…a thinking reader’s thriller and a thoroughly entertaining read.”Other novelsinclude Just In Time,in which a Wall Street commodities trader is deposited back in the Pleistocene era. Indian Summer follows the transformation of a Peace Corps volunteer during the Eastern India famine in 1967.

Harvey’sbook Let Every Child Be Wanted: How Social Marketing is Revolutionizing Contraceptive Use Around the World drew praise from former President Jimmy Carter.Government Creep: What the Government is Doing That You Don’t Know About, saidACLU President Nadine Strossen, “will give you the creeps about the increasingly invasive role of government in every aspect of our lives–our homes, our workplaces and even our bodies and minds.”

The author’s efforts to enhance the quality of life for others expand far beyond fiction. He and co-author Lisa Conyers interviewed 150 welfare recipients for the book The Human Cost of Welfare.The authors believe the system is broken, and proof is found in the anecdotes shared from people with direct experience of its flaws. This detailed review offers solutions based on common sense and a deep understanding of how humans value themselves and their lives.

As the president of Adam & Eve, one of the world’s leading suppliers of sex toys, adult films and condoms, Harvey is a warrior for libertarian values. The Government vs. Erotica, the true story of the federal government’s attack on his company, drew praise from Publishers Weekly and Booklist.The narrative of his long fight for the freedom to distribute “obscene” materials—meaning condoms—by mail spurred the ALA Intellectual Freedom Roundtable to nominate the work as the year’s best book on intellectual freedom. The Media Coalition called it “a frightening, enlightening story.”

Harvey is currently writing Welfare for the Rich, an exploration of how the government subsidizes the wealthy at the expense of ordinary taxpayers. Some of the worst offenses are found in the vast sums paid to thriving agribusinesses and wealthy farmers. “Needy” companies like Boeing are given subsidies while oil companies receive tax breaks. Solar panel companies are given government loans and General Motors gets bailed out. Wealthy taxpayers, meanwhile, are allowed to deduct mortgage interest on their palatial second homes.

The Huffington Post, Forbes and other publications have published his contrarian articles and essays. These shorter pieces detail the issues about which he is most passionate: libertarian causes like civil liberties, ending the war on drugs, and reproductive health. He has appeared on CNN’s “Business Unusual” and was the subject of a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation special.

Harvey is the chairman of DKT International, a Washington, D.C.-based charity that implements family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention programs in eighteen countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America. As a philanthropist, he provided funds to Oregon State’s initiative to legalize marijuana. The DKT Liberty Project, which Harvey founded,works to end the injustices perpetuated by the War on Drugs and to raise awareness of freedom of speech issues. Harvey is also on the board of the National Coalition Against Censorship.

Phil Harvey lives with his wife, Harriet Lesser, in Cabin John, Maryland.He is stepfather and grandfather to several very promising kids. He welcomes emailsfrom readers who have serious and thoughtful questionsabout any of his stories, novels or books.



BOOK REVIEW: Sapient by Jerry Kaczmarowski

Posted by Ryder Islington, author of Ultimate Justice, A Trey Fontaine Mystery

Reading Sapient by Jerry Kaczmarowski was a fun ride. I really enjoyed sharing time with loving mother Jane Dixon, and the animals she is using in her search for a cure for autism. As any mother would, Dixon will go to any length to help her child, as well as to protect him. The characters are fun to be with…well…except for Kenny. Even those who are not so savory, are still interesting. The story is truly intriguing.

Einstein is a rat whose intelligence is astounding. And Bear, the dog, ain’t no slouch. Add a loving son, a smart and caring nanny, a letch of a boss, a CDC employee who is a pain in the backside, and a man named Jim, who works for the government and seems to be at the lab to take over, and you have a cast of characters who will keep you reading whether it’s bedtime or not.

I would recommend this book to all lovers of science fiction, but also to those of us who just like a good yarn. A good read for tweens, teens, young adults, and the rest of us.

Abandoned by her husband after the birth of their child, Jane Dixon’s world is defined by her 12 year old autistic son, Robbie, and the research she does to find a cure for his condition. She knows her work on animal intelligence may hold the key. She also knows that the research will take decades to complete. None of it will ultimately benefit her son.
All that changes when a lab rat named Einstein demonstrates that he can read and write. Just as her research yields results, the U.S. government discovers her program. The army wants to harness her research for its military potential.  The CDC wants to shut her down completely.  The implications of animal intelligence are too dangerous, particularly when the previously inert virus proves to be highly contagious.
She steals the virus to cure her son, but the government discovers the theft. She must now escape to Canada before the authorities can replace her son’s mental prison with a physical one.
Praise for Sapient:
“A timely, winning adventure that brings up serious questions about technology and medical research.” – Reviewed by Kirkus
“Sapient by Jerry Kaczmarowski is an intense, action-packed, suspenseful and thrilling read! The storyline is definitely unique and pulls readers in right away… The book was fast-paced, flowed nicely and provided a thought provoking message. I believe Sapient will really make readers wonder just how far and to what lengths they would go to save someone they love.” – Reviewed by Charity Tober for Readers’ Favorite
“The plot is fast-paced, thought provoking, funny at times, and kept me reading to find out what would happen next. I think that the YA audience will love it.” – Reviewed by Dana Bjornstad
“I loved this story and I especially liked its animal characters – Einstein the lab rat with the keen sense of humor and Bear, the one-eyed German Shepherd dog who seems to always be the butt of Einstein’s jokes. And the human characters aren’t half bad either.” – Reviewed by Cheryl Stout
“A timeless, engrossing and perfectly-paced techno thriller about the promise – and fear – of modern medical science.” – Reviewed by Best Thrillers

Read the first chapter in the book Sapient:

Chapter 1
A young research assistant poked his head through the laboratory door and said, “We’re heading out to grab some beers. Want to join us?”
Dr. Jane Dixon brushed aside a strand of dark hair that had fallen from her ponytail. She waved the offer off without turning to face him and gave a curt, “Too much work.” I need to get out of here at a decent time to see Robbie, or I’m going to need to find a new nanny.
“Come on, Dr. Dixon. One quick drink. It’s Friday.”
She sighed and faced him, removing her dark-rimmed glasses. “How about a rain check?” She gave the younger man her best smile, but Jane knew she sounded insincere.
“Sure, a rain check.” The research assistant gave a perfunctory nod and let the door swing shut. Jane wouldn’t receive another invitation anytime soon, which was fine with her.
She put her hands in the small of her back and stretched, yielding a satisfying pop. Not for the first time, she congratulated herself on the regularity of her yoga workouts. They were one of the few distractions she permitted herself. With forty in the not-too- distant future, it was one distraction she couldn’t afford to forgo. She pulled her stool closer to her computer and checked her maze for the final time. She chuckled to herself. After all her years of education, she was reduced to playing video games with rodents. Using a virtual maze allowed her to create a level of complexity unrealistic with traditional animal intelligence testing.
Jane walked into an adjoining room with rows of cages where her subjects spent most of their day. She approached a cage adorned with a garish blue first-place ribbon. Her assistant had put it on the door as a joke. At first, it migrated back and forth as different rats outperformed others. For the past two months, it hadn’t moved.
She opened the cage and made a coaxing motion. “Come here, Einstein.” A fat, white rat dashed out the door onto her hand and scrambled up her right shoulder. His neon-blue eyes gave off an icy intelligence. The change in eye color was one of many side effects of her tests Jane still couldn’t explain. The rat whipped its tail into her hair for balance, hopping from paw to paw.
Settle down, boy,” she said. She carried Einstein back into the lab with its virtual maze and extended her hand. He raced down her arm to the large trackball and made little jumps in anticipation of the race. As Jane clamped him gently into the metal rig that held him in place, he stopped jumping. Einstein differed from the other rats—he never struggled when Jane locked him in place. The other rats fought against the harness, making it difficult to complete the test preparations.
A two-dimensional overview of a simple maze flashed on the screen. Without hesitating, Einstein rolled through the maze on his trackball, completing the challenge in seconds.
“Too easy,” Jane said. “You don’t even deserve a prize.” Despite this, she stroked the rat’s head and gave him a small piece of cheese. Einstein snapped it up in his front paws. As soon as he devoured it, he pulled against his harness and chattered at Jane.
“Relax, big fella.” She tapped on her keyboard to reconfigure the course before bending down to eye level with Einstein. “Now the real challenge begins.” He stared into her sea- green eyes. The small rodent had the intense focus of a fighter about to get in the ring.
A second maze flashed on the screen. There was a straightforward solution that was long and twisting. A second solution existed, but so far, none of the rats had figured it out. The second path had two tiny virtual teleportation pads. If the rats stepped onto one of the pads, they were transported to a corresponding location in a different part of the maze. For this test, the pads would save precious seconds.
“Go,” Jane shouted, starting the timer. Einstein didn’t budge. Instead, he looked back and forth between the obvious path and the first teleportation pad.
“Clock’s ticking,” Jane said to herself in frustration.
Einstein shrieked as he noticed the decreasing progress bar. A tentative paw step forward cleared the maze overview and put him in a six-inch-high virtual hallway. He waddled straight to the teleportation pad but stopped short. He turned his gaze to Jane as his whiskers moved back and forth, up and down. Jane stared back, willing him to make the right move.
The rat rolled forward on his trackball across the pad. The screen flashed, and he teleported to within a few steps of the exit. With a final glance at Jane, he spun through the gate with twenty seconds left on the clock.
Jane clapped her hands. “You did it.” She reached toward him. He clambered up her arm, slower now that he was out of the virtual world. She gave him a piece of cheese and returned him to the steel table.
“Impressive,” she said to the empty room. At times like this she wished someone could appreciate her triumphs. Her coworkers were at the bar. And Robbie? Robbie is Robbie. The warm smile of a mother flitted across her face as she thought about her son.
Einstein broke her reverie as he scratched and clawed at an iPad on the table. “It’s like having a second child,” Jane sighed to herself. She obliged Einstein’s pestering by starting an old episode of Sesame Street. The classic show was his favorite. Most other children’s programming bored him. His second-favorite genre was as far from the Children’s Television Workshop gang as you could get. One of Jane’s more unsavory assistants had decided to play Rated R comedies on the screen in the evening when the animals were alone in their cages. The crass movies entertained Einstein for hours despite the fact he couldn’t understand any of them.
Jane’s mobile phone vibrated. A message from her nanny read, “WHERE R U!!!” She glanced at the time in the lower right of her screen and gave a sharp intake of breath. I did it again, she chided herself.
“Leaving now. Sorry.” She almost typed a sad face emoticon but caught herself. It wouldn’t be well received. She pushed Send and dropped the phone on the lab table. She pounded the results of today’s tests into her computer, not bothering to correct spelling errors as she raced to enter her observations while they were still fresh.
The phone buzzed again. Jane gritted her teeth at the unnecessary back-and-forth. These nastygrams would only delay her departure. She reached for the phone in frustration, but Einstein was perched over it, staring at the screen. She nudged the little rodent back and set her jaw as she read the text.
The screen read, “Who is Einstein?” As she struggled to make sense of the nanny’s text, her eyes scanned back to the previous outbound message. She juggled her phone, almost dropping it on the floor.
The screen read, “I am Einstein.”
About the Author
Jerry Kaczmarowski lives in Seattle with his family. He writes techno-thrillers that explore the benefits and dangers of mankind’s scientific advancement. His first book, Moon Rising, was released in June 2014.  His second book, Sapient, was published in April 2015.
Jerry spent the first twenty years of his professional life in the consulting industry on the West Coast. His fascination with technology is matched only by his love of stories. His books intertwine action with a keen insight into how technology will shape our lives in the coming years.
To learn more, go to
Connect with Jerry on TwitterFacebook, and Goodreads.

BOOK REVIEW: Conquer Your Pain in 9 Steps by Carole Staveley With a Guest Post by the Author

As a sufferer of fibromyalgia as well as myofascial pain syndrome, I’m always looking for ways to get pain under control, so when I saw Conquer Your Pain in 9 Steps, I had to have it. I’m glad I found it. Ms. Staveley did an excellent job of writing a concise and understandable book to help those of us with chronic pain. As much as I’m sorry that Ms. Staveley has suffered, I appreciate that she understands what it’s like to always be in pain. She tells her personal story, and then outlines a plan to improve the quality of life for those with chronic pain. She taught me to take control of my own life, to stand up to medical professionals and demand whatever it takes to improve my quality of life.  Thank you, Ms. Staveley, for giving me hope. Among other things, Conquer Your Pain in 9 Steps, gives a step-by-step guide, from setting goals, and building a healthcare team, to finding motivators and developing long-term solutions. I would recommend this book to anyone who suffers from chronic pain, or knows someone else who does. Below you’ll find further information on this great book, as well as on the author, including a guest post.  There is also a list of other sites where you can find more reviews, interviews, and opportunities to win a free copy of Conquer Your Pain in 9 Steps. There is info on where to buy the book, and how to contact the author.   Conquer Your Pain in 9 Steps

Book Description:

Recognizing the years of unnecessary suffering in her own life, Carole Staveley makes it her mission to maximize your chances of overcoming health barriers in the shortest possible time. Her 9 Step Health Champion approach shared in this book will help you achieve your full potential by taking you through the process of establishing a Health Champion mindset, building your most effective health team, and maximizing your odds of persevering through it all. Become your own Health Champion and keep your healthy vision alive—no matter what challenges you face.

Carole Staveley

Author’s Bio:

After suffering 13 years of debilitation caused by a chronic myofascial pain condition, Carole Staveley realized there was no “magic bullet” coming to her rescue. She took charge of solving her health challenges and went on to complete an IRONMAN triathlon in 2013. Carole’s book, Conquer Your Pain in 9 Steps, takes you through her proven 9-step Health Champion approach to suffering less and achieving more. Carole Staveley is President of Inner Victory Coaching, an organization she founded to empower others to become their own Health Champions and reach their full potential.   Connect with the author:    Website ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

Becoming Your Own Health Champion, Step 5: Select and Challenge the Right Health Professionals Becoming your own Health Champion essentially means becoming the Chief Problem Solver for your health challenges. This does not mean you need to go out and earn an M.D. diploma! What it does mean is that you need to know how to discover and get the most benefit from the health resources that exist out there. Rights and Responsibilities in Your Relationships with Health Professionals You have the right to demand a problem-solving partnership from the members of your health team. You must be prepared to advocate for yourself, and let them know when you’re not satisfied with the answers you’re getting. If you don’t feel qualified or capable of self-advocacy, find a member of your social network who is willing to help you prepare for appointments or have these conversations on your behalf or simply be there with you for moral support. Another option is to hire a health coach who can help you build your self-advocacy capabilities and steer you in the right direction. Your rights to being treated as a partner and being respected for self-advocating in healthcare come with responsibilities. You have the responsibility to be as prepared and informed as possible when you attend an appointment. This is your part of the equation. You will not get the most from your healthcare appointments if you’re not informed or prepared. Being prepared means you will have done the following:

  • You’ve compiled a list of symptoms and any related circumstances that could shed light on the cause of the symptoms.
  • You’ve prepared questions in advance, and are ready to ask as many questions as it takes to be satisfied that the health professional is going down the right path in terms of diagnosis and treatment.
  • You’ve done some research, either by speaking to others who have suffered similar symptoms, by searching on the internet, and/or by asking for input from anyone in your social network who has some sort of healthcare background, or who might know someone with a healthcare background.

Do Your Homework If you think about it, what I’m suggesting in terms of preparing for healthcare appointments is comparable to the degree of preparation you would put into a large purchase like a car or an expensive appliance. Consider the value of a healthy life compared to these types of purchases. I know we’ve been taught to defer to physicians when it comes to health knowledge, and it’s likely they will always have more specific health knowledge than we do. However, there is no way to leverage the full power of their knowledge to our maximum benefit unless we do our homework and work with the medical professional to solve our unique problem. I believe our biggest mistake in dealing with health issues is having the expectation that the “experts” hold the answers, and that we just need to bring our problem to them to get a resolution. There are a number of issues to take into consideration when dealing with health professionals:

  • The letters beside their nameswill not tell you if they are good at what they do or if they will be effective at solving your problem.
  • A top expert in his/her field might have the best grasp of the medical literature, but they don’t have insight into the nuances of what’s been happening in your body. They need your input in order to tailor their knowledge to address your particular situation most effectively.
  • Depending on your particular health issues, the professional(s) who can help you the most might not be found in the mainstream medical system.
  • Health professionals who are open to working collaboratively with other health professionals and who embracea holistic, multidisciplinary approach are generally valuable and are more likely to be problem solvers determined to help you get to the bottom of the issue.

In my journey from chronic pain sufferer to IRONMAN finisher, it was my own research, combined with key questions I asked of excellent health professionals that added up to a successful recovery.  Along the way, I broadened my definition of “health professional” and discovered so many additional valuable resources outside of our mainstream medical system. Start by appointing yourself Chief Problem Solver of your health challenges, vow to identify and leverage key healthcare resources, and dare to discover new approaches to managing or solving your health challenges. Book Trailer:


Where to buy the book:

Enter to win a copy: 
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Tour Schedule:

July 6 – Library of Clean Reads – review / giveaway

July 6 – Ryder Islington’s Blog – review / guest post / giveaway

July 7 – Griperang’s Bookmarks – review / author interview / giveaway

July 8 – The Autistic Gamer – review / author interview / giveaway

July 9 – I’d Rather Be at the Beach – review / giveaway

July 10 – Green and Glassie – review / author interview

July 13 – Create With Joy – review / giveaway

July 14 – The Novel Life – review / guest post

July 15 – Sarah Rehmatullah – review / giveaway

July 16 – Brooke Blogs – review / guest post / giveaway

July 17 – Working Mommy Journal – review / author interview / giveaway


REVIEW: Out From The Underworld by Heather Siegel

Posted by Ryder Islington, author of Ultimate Justice, a Trey Fontaine Mystery I’m not usually one for reading memoirs but Out From The Underworld caught me by surprise. In it, Heather Siegel tells the story of her childhood, as her mother disappears and her dad moves Heather and her siblings into the basement of his childhood home. Crowded, dark, and musty, the basement reminds her of Persephone’s trip to the underworld. But Heather and her siblings survive their dad’s craziness, and their grandparents’ rules as they decide that they must find out what happened to their mother. Ms. Siegel pulls the reader into the dark, into the insecurity, into the confusion only a child can suffer when things go wrong and no one has answers. I found in it dark humor, and hope. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good story. Below you’ll find a book description, an author bio, a list of other sites where you can find reviews, interviews, guest posts and chances to win a copy of this poignant book. Also, there are ways to contact the author and a chance to win a copy of Out From the Underworld at the bottom of this page.     Out from the Underworld   Book Description:

Heather Siegel was six years old when her mother disappeared, sending her father into a tailspin that took Heather and her siblings down with him— from a comfortable suburban home to a barely habitable basement apartment, a dark world they soon found themselves fighting to return to from the exile of foster care, then fighting even harder to escape.

Forty years later, Heather Siegel tells the remarkable story of how she and her siblings, Jaz and Greg, banded together to find out what happened to their mother and fight their way Out from the Underworld with nothing but their wits, determination, unbreakable bonds and gifts for humor and compassion to sustain them. A wrenching, inspiring story filled with heartbreak, hope and love, Out from The Underworld will move you to laughter and tears.     Heather Siegel Author’s Bio:


Heather Siegel holds an MFA in nonfiction writing from The New School. Her work has appeared on and in The Mother Magazine and Author Magazine, as well as in various trade publications. She was a finalist for the 2010 Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Award in Nonfiction Writing, the 2011 San Francisco Writers Conference Nonfiction Writing Award, the Carolina Wren Press 2012 Doris Bakwin Award and the 2012 Kore Press First Book Award. A multi-creative person with interests in the arts, nutrition, health and beauty, she has founded several independent businesses, including a coffeehouse, a café, an organic juice bar and a natural beauty bar. She currently lives with her husband, Jon, and daughter, Julia, in the woods of Long Island in a house filled with light.

Tour Schedule:

May 18 – Library of Clean Reads – review / giveaway May 19 – T’s Stuff – review / guest post / giveaway May 19 – The Cheshire Cat’s Looking Glass – book spotlight / giveaway May 20 – TW Brown on Border Collies, Zombies, and the Indie writing scene – review / guest post May 20 – Vic’s Media Room – review May 21 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – review May 22 – Life as Leels – review May 22 – Back Porchervations – review  May 25 – The All Night Library – review May 25 – Pinky’s Favorite Reads – book spotlight / author interview May 26 – Svetlana’s Reads and Views – review May 27 – The Things We Read – review  May 27 – chic.toronto – review May 28 – Sincerely Stacie – review May 29 – Room With Books – review / author interview / giveaway June 1 –  Deal Sharing Aunt – review June 1 –  A Blue Million Books – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway June 2 – The World As I See It – review / giveaway June 3 – Nighttime Reading Center – review / author interview / giveaway June 4 – Jessica Cassidy – review / author interview / giveaway  June 5 – The Discerning Reader – review / giveaway June 11 – Confessions of a Reader – book spotlight / author interview June 15 – Ryder Islington’s Blog – review June 17 – A Splendid Messy Life – review / author interview / giveaway June 18 – Girl With Camera – review June 19 – Essentially Italian – review / giveaway

Connect with Heather:  Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter

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