Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Feta and Freeways by Susan Baganz

Feta and Freeways

Prism Book Group

ISBN 978-1537366043
eBook $3.99
Print $13.99

From the Back Cover

He’d never noticed her…till now.

Nikolos Acton is the lead singer of a Christian Band, Specific Gravity, struggling to make it in the industry after an unplanned break, touring the country with their manager, Tia.

Tia Bartel loved Niko for the longest time, but it wasn’t until she stepped in to save his life that he finally realizes what has been there all along. Is it too late for him? Could a relationship between them work after years of ignoring her? How would he ever convince her he’s worthy of her trust?

As they journey on the freeway of life and love, they encounter struggles as they are forced to rely on their faith, and friends, to make it through.

My Review
I’m a big fan of outside-the-box contemporary fiction, and the Orchard Hill series steps right in to fill a rut of genre-specific romance, suspense, or mystery. Yes, these are love stories, but tales with a purpose that don’t need to be formulaic.

This fourth story from Baganz follows her general true-to-life premise that everyone has issues, everyone is broken and everyone needs the Lord as Master of his or her life. Then we need each other, and it’s the dealing with each other part that always gets tricky, even for Christians. These very faith-oriented stories are all stand-alone, but draw on characters from the other books. In this book, the person who makes everything work for a rising contemporary Christian band, Tia, prefers the shadows of anonymity to worship her hero, the lead singer Niko, from afar. When Niko receives his wake-up call after Tia’s attack by a crazed not-fan, the spotlight shines on her—both the ugly and the good sides of what she’s made of. Coming into the light is a huge risk, yet one she’s willing to take with Niko’s enlightened promises and support.

Feta and Freeways is this story of what it takes to be committed to a higher purpose, a network of people who rely on each other through faith, family, and talent offered to the glory of God. It’s not perfect, it can be messy and twisted, but through it all there’s some giggles, a number of surprises and twists, revelations and a set up for the next adventure. A truly enjoyable read with a peek into life on the road, roots and wings, and the joy of camaraderie. For those who like faith-based stories of contemporary life in sometimes not so nice places and realistic decision-making.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

2016 Fall Book Festivals in Wisconsin

September 24 - The Peninsula Bookman will host its third annual Festival of Books and Authors 
This year five Wisconsin writers with more than a dozen of their works will attend the festival.
This year’s event will include:

Kathleen Ernst, author of the recently released seventh volume from her Chloe Ellefson mystery series, A Memory of Muskets and A Settler’s Year from the Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

J.F. Riordan will autograph The Audacity of Goats, the follow-up novel to her award-winning debut North of the Tension Line.

Patricia Skalka will sign copies of the brand-new third volume in her best-selling Dave Cubiak Door County mystery series, Death in Cold Water.

Virginia Maher and Paul Burton will present their brand new release Selected Artists of Door County, a series of profiles showcasing the area’s working artists.

The authors will be available throughout the day to sign books and discuss their work. Drop by at any time from 10 am 5 pm to meet these accomplished writers.

The Peninsula Bookman is located at 4083 Hwy 42, in the heart of Fish Creek, next door to The Oilerie. For more information, call 920.868.1467 or visit

October 7-9 Sheboygan Children's Book Festival

October 10 - 20 Chippewa Valley Book Festival
Eau Claire, WI

October 20 - 23 Wisconsin's Book Festival
Central Library, Madison, WI

November 4-5 Southeast Wisconsin Book Festival

November 5 Edgerton Sterling North Book & Film Festival
Edgerton High School

Monday, September 5, 2016

All Writers Celebrity Sat Oct 1 with poet Liam Callanan

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

All Writers Workplace Teen Workshops


From the desk of Kathie Giorgio, Director, AllWriters' Workplace & Workshop LLC:


WAUKESHA – By popular demand, AllWriters’ welcomes high school students into our creative writing community! Teen writing is an explosive new industry, both in the areas of teen work written for other teens, and written for the world at large. Whether it’s novels, poetry, short fiction or creative nonfiction, teen work should be taken as seriously as any other, and be as well written. AllWriters’ offers professional instruction covering all genres. A full staff of traditionally published authors provides feedback, guidance, help getting ready for real-world publication, and fosters a culture of encouragement and a sense of community. On September 29th, AllWriters’ is launching a THURSDAY NIGHT TEEN WRITERS WORKSHOP!

This ten-week workshop is a carbon copy of AllWriters’ most popular and enduring writing workshops, with one notable exception; we’re welcoming high school students into our creative community! This course encourages high school writers, grades 9 to 12, of all abilities and genres, but two things are required: a genuine interest in writing and a desire to write professionally for publication. Poets, novelists, short fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers are all welcome! If you write, this is where you should be. Each week in the workshop, students present their works-in-progress to the other students and the instructor for positive and constructive feedback. Students will also receive a line-by-line edit and a thematic critique of their work from the instructor, a traditionally published author with an extensive writing resume, including two novels.

The new THURSDAY NIGHT TEEN WRITERS WORKSHOP begins Thursday, September 29th and goes through Thursday, December 8th. Classes meet each week in the AllWriters’ classroom from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. For more information, and to sign up, visit and select On Site Courses from the drop down menu under Courses, or call (262) 446-0284. Space in this course is limited to 15 students! AllWriters’ Workplace and Workshop offers on-site and online writing courses in all genres and abilities of creative writing, as well as coaching, editing, and marketing services. A schedule of all classes, with online registration, is available online or by calling (262) 446-0284. AllWriters’ is located at 234 Brook Street, Unit 2, in historic downtown Waukesha, as featured in Milwaukee’s Journal Sentinel.

Summer Hanford
AllWriters’ Assistant

234 Brook St., Unit 2
Waukesha WI 53188
Phone: (262) 446-0284
Please "like" Author Kathie Giorgio on Facebook, and follow KathieGiorgio on Twitter!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Rex Owens, Contemporary Irish Fiction

Murphy’s Troubles
Rex Owens

ISBN: 978-0615895048
eBook: $2.99
Print: $14.99
Buy on Amazon

Ian Padraic Murphy harbors a scandalous secret. To avenge the death of his best friend in a Belfast raid, Ian joins the Provisional IRA which he conceals for 30 years. He meets investigative reporter Eileen Donohue and friendship blossoms into a love affair. Eileen inadvertently discovers the man she thought was a reclusive novelist is actually the brain trust for the IRA. Eileen betrays her lover by disclosing his secret in Ireland's leading newspaper. Driven by guilt and remorse, Ian atones for his years in the IRA by working with Sinn Fein to negotiate the 1998 Peace Accord which ended The Troubles in Ireland. After deserting the IRA Ian's own troubles are far from over when they order his assassination. The assignment is given to his friend, IRA Commander, Kieran Fitzpatrick. Will Ian pay the supreme price for disloyalty to the IRA?

My review:
Owens has a passionate voice for the historical extremist movement in contemporary Ireland. Told mostly through alternating viewpoints, the reader is carried along with Ian Murphy, who as a young university student, is recruited and serves the next thirty years in the Irish Republican Army.

With loving exacted scenery and dialect, the author transports his readers to the Ireland of the sixties, to the underlying despair of prejudice, anger, and inequality due not to outward characteristics, but to devotion and heritage according to faith. Allegiance to a culture of religion causes sides to be taken and lines to be drawn. Owens’ fictional account of the inner workings of what it might have been like for principal players in the movement, unable to trust anyone, not even the people you grew up with, called brother, or confessed to or shared a bed with, provides a rich and satisfying read.

25904502Out of Darkness, book 2
Rex Owens

ISBN: 978-0983298489

Buy on Amazon

Author Ian Murphy battles lifelong alcoholism and chronic depression. Desperate to cleanse his soul, Ian dedicates himself to finding redemption. To confront his demons, he spends a summer hiking on Dingle Peninsula. He meets Mairin McCarthy, and finds unconditional love but still succumbs to the shadows within.

In the fall of 1998 the British government is determined to build walls in Belfast to separate Catholics and Protestants. The only peace citizens of the city can have requires walls. Murphy dedicates himself to stopping more walls from being built. He's convinced the challenge is his path to redemption.

While living in Belfast Ian learns that distrust and hatred divide the city's residents as much as the walls do. Both Catholics and Protestants accept the walls as the price of peace. The walls will be built. How will Ian Murphy find redemption and crawl out of the darkness?

My review:
Owens slips into first person for this second book of his trilogy about contemporary Ireland and the violence of religious extremism. We left Ian Murphy at the end of book one still alive after his friend is ordered to execute him. Realizing his entire life was one of self-imposed seclusion and layers of lies, Murphy tries to reach out and grasp a spark of life before he has nothing left but darkness. In the first book, Murphy wants to end it all; in this book, he’s coming out to meet the life he’s missed.

Told in on-the-spot scenery and dialog, Owens transports readers into a vicarious visit in Ireland of today, with all the nuances, smells, and sights that hide the brewing troubles. The authors has a fine voice with a message of hope that any reader in any era can grasp.

About the Author:
Rex OwensIn 1997 novelist Rex Owens attended the first of many UW Madison Writers Institutes. The featured speaker was author was Robert Moss who talked about conscious dreaming as a way to explore the writing life. The die was cast to be a writer. In 1999 he joined a critique group led by Dr. Laurel Yourke where he learned craft the old fashioned way – by writing. 

His son brought him newspapers from Ireland. He read a story of children injured in the Peace Zone in Belfast in 1998 which became the inspiration for MURPHY’S TROUBLES. By 2003 Dr. Yourke suggested he had enough material to consider writing a novel. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Detective mysteries from Patricia Skalba

Death Stalks Door County
A Dave Cubiak Door County Mystery

Death Stalks Door County
 First Paperback Edition
March 2016LC: 2013033800 PS
256 pp. 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
1 map

Cloth $26.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-29940-8

Paper $16.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-29944-6

eBook $16.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-29943-9

Finalist, Traditional Fiction, Book of the Year, Chicago Writers Association

Introducing the Dave Cubiak Door County Mysteries: smart, hard-edged detective fiction on a popular vacation peninsula, a scenic wonderland surrounded by the pristine waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan

Six deaths mar the holiday mood as summer vacationers enjoy Wisconsin’s beautiful Door County peninsula. Murders, or bizarre accidents? Newly hired park ranger Dave Cubiak, a former Chicago homicide detective, assumes the worst but refuses to get involved. Grief-stricken and guilt-ridden over the loss of his wife and daughter, he’s had enough of death.

Forced to confront the past, the morose Cubiak moves beyond his own heartache and starts investigating, even as a popular festival draws more people into possible danger. In a desperate search for clues, Cubiak uncovers a tangled web of greed, betrayal, bitter rivalries, and lost love beneath the peninsula’s travel-brochure veneer. Befriended by several locals but unsure whom to trust or to suspect of murder, the one-time cop tracks a clever killer.

In a setting of stunning natural beauty and picturesque waterfront villages, Death Stalks Door County introduces a new detective series, “The Dave Cubiak Door County Mysteries.”

Patricia Skalka. Photo credit, B. E. Pinkham.
About the Author:
Patricia Skalka is the author of Death at Gills Rock, the second book in the Dave Cubiak series. A former writer for Reader’s Digest, she presents writing workshops throughout the United States. She divides her time between her native Chicago and her cottage in Door County, Wisconsin.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Jill Dobbe and her new book about teaching in Egypt


Traveling across the globe to work in an international school in Cairo, Egypt, was not exactly the glamorous lifestyle I thought it would be. I cherished my travels to the Red Sea, delighted in visiting the Pyramids, and appreciated the natural wonders of the Nile River. However, I also spent days without electricity or internet, was leered at by rude Egyptian men, breathed in Cairo’s cancerous black smog, and coaxed school work from rich, apathetic students. Why the heck did I do it? So I could experience the unexpected, explore the extraordinary, and bask in the thrill of adventure! Whether you’re a traveler or not, you will be astounded at this honest and riveting account of learning to live in an Islamic society, while confronting the daily challenges of being an educator in a Muslim school.

May, 2016
168 pp
ISBN  978-1517027810
EBook $3.99
Paperback $7.99
Buy on Amazon
Also available at Book World in Shawano, WI

About the Author:
Jill Dobbe
Jill is an international educator and published author who writes about her experiences living and working in schools and countries around the world. She presently lives in her seventh country, Honduras, with her husband, Dan, and her Yorkie-Poo, Mickey. While working as an elementary principal, Jill also writes, travels, takes photos of the beautiful people and countries of Latin America, and muddles her way through the Spanish language. Jill loves her life as an international educator, and most days, feels like she is living her dream.