Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Book Review: Jemima J

Author: Jane Green
Title: Jemima J
Publisher: Broadway
Publish Date: June 5, 2001
Buy: Amazon
Book Blurb: Jemima Jones is overweight. About one hundred pounds overweight. Treated like a maid by her thin and social-climbing roommates, and lorded over by the beautiful Geraldine (less talented but better paid) at the Kilburn Herald, Jemima finds that her only consolation is food. Add to this her passion for her charming, sexy, and unobtainable colleague Ben, and Jemima knows her life is in need of a serious change. When she meets Brad, an eligible California hunk, over the Internet, she has the perfect opportunity to reinvent herself–as JJ, the slim, beautiful, gym-obsessed glamour girl. But when her long-distance Romeo demands that they meet, she must conquer her food addiction to become the bone-thin model of her e-mails–no small feat. With a fast-paced plot that never quits and a surprise ending no reader will see coming, Jemima J is the chronicle of one woman's quest to become the woman she's always wanted to be, learning along the way a host of lessons about attraction, addiction, the meaning of true love, and, ultimately, who she really is.

Review: This book was exceedingly frustrating to read. Let me count the ways.

Things that annoyed me.

1. Jemima's weight loss. 100 pounds in a few months. It could happen, but most of us only wish it were that easy.

2. The narration over the first person telling of the story. OMG! This made me nuts and detracted from otherwise decent storytelling.

3. While I along with a bazillion other women in the world could identify with Jemima and though we all loved her when she became a skinny girl, I didn't like her much.

4. I wasn't keen on the when you lose weight love, happiness, promotions etc will come to you. That kind of feeds the whole crappy way the media makes women feel about their bodies. (Even though Jemima didn't stay 121 lbs)

5. The whole Brad/Jenny thing that blows up near the end of the book. OMG this was just PATHETIC!

6. Companies just going on the web in 2000? Really? I graduated college in 1996 and though I didn't have a PC of my own, just about everyone else did.

7. Brad's friendship growing into love only after Jemima lost weight and got hot! Oh and he didn't notice a significant weight loss at his going away party? HUH?

8. I'm so sick of books where the Mother is some nasty women that doesn't care about or is ashamed of her child.

Ok so there was a lot that I found off about this book. Was there any good?

1. I did like Jemima the fat chick. I especially loved her fondness for BACON!

2. Geraldine was the kind of friend we all want. I liked the friendship that grew between her and Jemima and as a result between Jemima and Ben.

Truthfully, I can't find much more to like in this book. It was fast paced and funny at times, and yes, it reads like a fairy tale for grown up little girls, but for me it fell flat. I have a few of Jane Green's books on my TBR pile, after this one, I'm not sure if I want to try them.

Rating: 3 flowers

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Innovative Online Book Tours: The Three Lost Kids and the Death Of The Sugar Fairy

Author: Kimberly Kinrade
Title: The Three Lost Kids & The Death Of The Sugar Fairy
Publisher: Evolved Publishing
Publish Date: Sept 25, 2012
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: Innovative Online Book Tours & the author
Book Blurb: Halloween is here and Lexie, Bella and Maddie couldn't be happier. But why does everything feel so different? Fewer houses are decorated and fewer kids are out trick-or-treating. Still, that's not going to stop the three girls from eating as much candy as they can before their parents can stop them, even if that means fighting each other for it.

When they finally discover a haunted house worthy of their favorite holiday, they forget their parents' warnings and go in alone, only to discover that the house really is haunted, and not only that, but they've been transported to a whole different world!

A dying Sugar Fairy in one of the abandoned rooms send them on a quest to find her Sugar Baby and the magic Sugar Flower in order to save her and Halloween. If they fail, Halloween will be gone forever, and they'll never return to their family. But with Sugar Bug attacks, the Cavity Caves where they must face their deepest fears, and giant gummy bears armed with candy cane swords, the girls aren't sure they'll make it.

Their only chance is to work together, using each of their strengths to help each other. Can they stop fighting over candy long enough? Or will they be trapped in the dying Sugar Land forever?

Review: Kimberly Kinrade's Three Lost Kids series continues with The Three Lost Kids & The Death Of The Sugar Fairy.

This is an absolutely great Halloween story that parents and kids will love.

Halloween is Maddie's birthday, but this year isn't turning out quite the way she expected.

The book hints at some of the stuff in the past 3 books of The Lost Kids series when the girls end up in the Haunted House, but it nothing that will put young readers off, if this is the first book from the series that they grab. In fact, it will likely make them want to read the rest of the books.

Lexie, Bella and Maddie are fun kids and their quest to find the Sugar Baby and the Sugar Flower is a fun adventure. Plus in saving the Sugar Fairy, they also save Halloween! And a world without Halloween is just not a fun place at all!

Ms. Kinrade also delivers the story with a moral. The usual one associated with Halloween. But she doesn't do it in a way that makes you feel that candy is bad and we must not eat any of it.

Definitely a fun book and a fun series for anyone turning the pages.

Rating: 5 flowers

Innovative Online Book Tours Guest Post:Kimberly Kinrade


The Making of a Revolutionary

When my oldest daughter was 2 years old and first learned the sad hard truth of the chicken nugget, she formed a revolt. “The Chicken Nuggets Must Live!” she shouted, tiny fist in air.

She's turning 10 years old this Halloween, and while she still eats the occasional nugget (my children were contemplating a world where nuggets were made of people, butterflies and dinosaurs ^.^), she is still a revolutionary, and the staunchest environmentalist I know.

I have been recycling–and sometimes composting–since she was born. She went to a Waldorf School for her first year, and she loves animals and nature. It’s not surprising then, that she doesn’t want the Earth to die. What is surprising to me is how consistent she is in the little things.

She will pick up the grossest, nastiest piece of garbage you can imagine, and walk blocks to find a proper receptacle for it. As a mother, I cringe. And caution. And buy her gloves. As a human, I applaud her. (I do this as her mom too, don’t get me wrong.) She even cleans up lunch trash while other kids play. And she is making a difference. With each piece of garbage she picks up, she is saving something of our Earth for the future.

Lessons From the Young 

So often we as grown-ups get so burdened by oil spills and toxic waste and ozone layers that we forget to bend down and pick up that paper on the sidewalk. Yes, we need to be conscious of the global impact our collective choices make, but, don’t let those issues become so overwhelming as to paralyze you from the simple day-to-day things we all can do to make life more beautiful.

When she was 8 years old, after cleaning up some trash in our neighborhood, she came home and drew the picture you see above. On her own. Without any prompting. I was floored, and awed, and proud. In case the quality makes it hard, that’s an X in the eye of the deer eating trash, because it will die. (The other deer is smiling, by the way, and I’m really mostly sure that’s a leg…)


My kids inspire me daily–in my writing and in life. They are the reason I took a small break from writing my YA paranormal novel Forbidden Fire (book #2 in the Forbidden Series) to write three children’s chapter books based on worlds they discovered.

Now, all three of their books are out, and a new book, The Three Lost Kid and The Death of the Sugar Fairy has just launched. (And I even managed to finish the Forbidden Trilogy as well!)

The first book in The Three Lost Kids series is about the environment. About Lexie World 5-year-old Lexie is tired of getting in trouble for leaving her stuff and trash outside. She doesn’t mean to litter or ruin her shoes, but it’s just so hard to remember sometimes. When she, her two big sisters and their dog TayTay end up finding a portal to Lexie World, Lexie discovers the consequence littering has had on Lexie World. Garbage Goblins have taken over and are destroying the Earth!

To save Lexie World, the girls (and dog) must travel with their new Unicorn friend through the Waters of Waste and over the Mountain of Lost Clothes to retrieve a piece of the Mirror of Ice in order to remind the Garbage Goblins of their true form and break their curse.

On this journey, Lexie learns about courage, love and the importance of taking care of her world.

I’m a Mom 

I’m a mom, and I wrote this book, and the subsequent books, for my kids. I also wrote them for your kids. Lexie World includes discussion questions for you and your child to talk about how they can participate in caring for the Earth. And remember, we can help in small ways to keep our Earth beautiful. What are some ways you and your family care for the environment?

BLURB: Halloween is here and Lexie, Bella and Maddie couldn't be happier. But why does everything feel so different? Fewer houses are decorated and fewer kids are out trick-or-treating. Still, that's not going to stop the three girls from eating as much candy as they can before their parents can stop them, even if that means fighting each other for it.

When they finally discover a haunted house worthy of their favorite holiday, they forget their parents' warnings and go in alone, only to discover that the house really is haunted, and not only that, but they've been transported to a whole different world!

A dying Sugar Fairy in one of the abandoned rooms send them on a quest to find her Sugar Baby and the magic Sugar Flower in order to save her and Halloween. If they fail, Halloween will be gone forever, and they'll never return to their family. But with Sugar Bug attacks, the Cavity Caves where they must face their deepest fears, and giant gummy bears armed with candy cane swords, the girls aren't sure they'll make it.

Their only chance is to work together, using each of their strengths to help each other. Can they stop fighting over candy long enough? Or will they be trapped in the dying Sugar Land forever?

BIO: Kimberly Kinrade was born with ink in her veins and magic in her heart. She writes fantasy and paranormal stories for children, YA and adults and still believes in magic worlds. Check out her YA paranormal novels Forbidden Mind and Forbidden Fire and her illustrated children's fantasy chapter books Lexie World, and Bella World, all on Amazon.

She lives with her three little girls who think they're ninja princesses with super powers, her two dogs who think they're humans and her husband, also known as the sexy Russian Prince, who is the love of her life and writing partner.

For a list of her books, check out: For a fun fan experience, join the team at I.P.I. at For kids and parents of young kids, join the Lost Kids at

BUY NOW LINK: • Amazon paper book • Amazon Kindle copy

: • Website • Twitter: @KimberlyKinrade • IPI Twitter: @IPIAcademy • Facebook: /KimberlyKinrade • IPI Facebook: /IPIAcademy


Monday, October 29, 2012

Cover Reveal

Mystically Bound
Frostbite Book Three
Urban Fantasy Romance
Length: Novel
Heat Level: Sensual
Release date: COMING SOON
Tess Jennings’ life is in chaos. Not only has her ghost lover, Kipp McGowen, crossed into the Netherworld, but she’s the newest member of a secret society. And they want her to start work immediately. Upon arriving in White Castle, Louisiana, she is presented with an offer she cannot refuse.
The Grand Master has been murdered and Tess must solve the crime by locating his ghost. The reward—a magical spell to save Kipp. But as Tess dives deeper into the case, the more danger surrounds her. Not everyone wants the murder solved, and she is caught in the crossfire.
Soon, Tess finds herself knee-deep in a hunt for a spell, a race to locate a killer, and a journey to the beyond. Will Kipp finally take a living breath, or will Tess take her last?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Book Review: A Belated Bride

Author:Karen Hawkins
Title: A Belated Bride
Publisher: Avon
Publish Date: Jan 9, 2001
Book Blurb:She'd Never Marry Him! The last man Arabella Hadley ever wishes to see again is Lucien Deveraux, the handsome, dissolute Duke of Wexford -- who broke her innocent heart years ago and disappeared to London. So when she finds an unconscious man on her deserted country road and sees that it's Lucien, she's tempted to leave him there. But even more appalling than his presence is the brazen kiss he plants on her shocked lips and her response! So it would be totally insane to take him home to recover -- wouldn't it? Except For One Small Thing... Lucien dares not reveal why he's returned to his country estate -- or why he abandoned the strong-willed beauty years ago. Especially since Arabella clearly has secrets of her own. But when her scheming, marriage-minded aunts successfully compromise them, the two are forced to become man and wife. Which makes it ever harder for both to battle the passion that never disappeared...
Review: I read a review of one of Karen's latest books from Addicted To Romance so I went to the library and found this one, to see how well she stacked up to her most recent book.

I'm kind of on the fence with this one.

I definitely like Karen's writing style.

The characters are really interesting and you can't help but love them, especially Lucien. It is easy to see early on that he loves Arabella, though lord knows she can't. Lucien and Arabella have a past though, so that makes it easy to understand why she doesn't go so easily into Lucien's arms. And why this regency isn't as hot an steamy as it might have been.

It takes a good many pages before the two of them really end up without their clothes. Truthfully that's why this story was a bit of a dud for me. It felt too much like 300 pages of Arabella making excuses not to trust Lucien for his past transgressions, without ever hearing his end of the story.

The smuggling operation added a bit of excitement, but what really gives this story life are Arabella's aunts, Jane and Emma. I especially loved how they checked the Duke out when he was injured. And when I say checked him out, I mean, checked under the covers when he was naked to see how well endowed he was!  That was a hoot.

I was happy that just about everyone had a HEA in this story, I just wish that in some cases it would have happened a lot faster then it did.

Rating: 3 flowers

Friday, October 26, 2012

Must Buy Books: Jennifer Johnson Is Sick Of Being Single

Book Blurb:A wicked comedy about the perils of making your dreams come true

Quirky, clever, cubicle-bound Jennifer Johnson is desperate.

Everyone around her is getting married, while she's still single and stuck writing ad copy about men's dress socks.

 Her life hits crisis level, launching her into a humiliating and painfully hilarious quest to find Prince Charming at any cost. This includes agonizing online dates, diet-clinic cults, drag-queen fights, and a debilitating addiction to Cinnabon icing.

When she meets handsome, wealthy Brad Keller, she wonders if he's the answer to all her dreams, or is he just too good to be true? Darkly funny and outrageously honest, McElhatton's wit shines in this no-holds-barred cautionary tale about getting what you want—and how it can be the worst thing for you.

~After reading the sequel to this book this week, I really want to get this one, so I can see what possessed Jennifer to marry Brad!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

TLC Book Tours Book Review: My Scandalous Viscount

Author: Gaelen Foley
Title: My Scandalous Viscount
Publisher: Avon
Publish Date: Sept 25, 2012
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: TLC Book Tours & the publisher
Book Blurb: Meet the courageous men of the Inferno Club as they face their greatest challenge yet: marriage!

Sebastian, Viscount Beauchamp, lives by a code of honor, and now honor dictates he must marry Miss Carissa Portland. He has no regrets over stealing a kiss from the adorable little busybody—a fitting punishment for putting her delectable nose where it didn't belong. But now, caught in a compromising situation, he knows he must make her his bride. He's faced danger before—but nothing like this!

Carissa is not a gossip—she's a "lady of information." And all she was trying to do was warn the rakehell Beauchamp away from an irate husband. But even she can't flaunt Society, and while her head tells her that Beau's a notorious scoundrel, her heart—and her body—are captivated by his dangerous charm. But when Carissa next goes snooping, the secrets she uncovers about the Inferno Club may prove even more hazardous than falling in love with her own husband.

Review: My Scandalous Viscount is a book in the Inferno Club series. There are four books that come before this one.

Raise your hand if you'd like to read a romance that wasn't part of a series!

Me me me me!

It seems like all historical romances these days are part of long series about aristocratic men that are part of some Order etc that are protecting the crown.


This book is one of those kinds of books, however it is a really good one.

I haven't read the other books in the series so the characters were all new to me, but I didn't feel in any way lost. Gaelen did a good job giving her readers the backstory needed to know what had happened in previous books.

What made me like this book so much was Carissa. She wasn't your usual regency heroine. She was a gossip, or as she liked to call herself  a "Lady of Information." In other words, she was a busybody of the highest degree. She's always poking her nose into places it doesn't belong. That's how she ends up married to Beauchamp.

Not a bad result really, because it is quite easy to tell that Beau likes her, ALOT!

I think that's one of the reasons I liked this book so much, there wasn't a huge amount of tension between the hero and heroine. That doesn't always happen. Sure there were some trust issues, mostly on the part of Carissa, who has something from her past she doesn't want out in the open. With Beau, its just the old, don't give away secrets about The Order.

I thought The Order was going to end up being boring, but that wasn't the case. I found the mystery involving the Government and The Orders activities to be quite interesting.

As much as I wish I wouldn't be sucked into another series, I'm probably going to go back and try to find the other books, because all the characters from The Inferno Club were really interesting, and I definitely want to get to know their brides.

Rating: 5 flowers

About Gaelen Foley Gaelen Foley is the author of seventeen rich, sexy, and dramatic Regency historicals. Her books have won many awards, are published in numerous languages, and appear regularly on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. She lives in Pennsylvania with her college-sweetheart husband, Eric, and a spoiled bichon frise named Bingley. Find out more about Gaelen at her website and connect with her on Facebook.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

TLC Book Tours Book Review: Jennifer Johnson Is Sick Of Being Married

Author: Heather McElhatton
Title: Jennifer Johnson Is Sick Of Being Married
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: Oct 9, 2012
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: TLC Book Tours & the publisher
Book Blurb:Sometimes tying the knot just means getting strangled.

Not too long ago, Jennifer Johnson was stuck in a cubicle, lovelorn and addicted to Cinnabon frosting. Now she’s married to her Prince Charming—the handsome, wealthy son of a midwestern department-store magnate. But the grass on this too-manicured other side is not as green as she’d thought.

After a honeymoon from hell at a gated Christian resort in the Virgin Islands—bought and paid for by the in-laws and complete with alcohol-free drinks, curfews, and Satan-free yoga—Jennifer is beginning to have her doubts about the whole “happily-ever-after” thing. Soon she finds herself organizing Valentine’s Day abstinence dances with her mother-in-law’s church committee and dining with the ladies of the country club, who have their own theories about how to hold on to their men.

Is this really all there is to married life?

From Heather McElhatton, bestselling author of Pretty Little Mistakes and Jennifer Johnson Is Sick of Being Single, comes the next laugh-out-loud chapter in the story of an all-American everywoman whose every thought, flaw, and neurosis is on glorious display.

Review: If you are in the need of a book to lift your spirits, grab a copy of Jennifer Johnson Is Sick Of Being Married.


Because you will laugh so hard you will forget any of your troubles.

You'll laugh out loud and you won't care.

This is the sequel to Jennifer Johnson Is Sick Of Being Single. Apparently marriage isn't all that its cracked up to be, at least not for Jennifer!

There's so much craziness in this book from Ace, the three legged dog she brings home from her disastrous honeymoon at a Christian resort, to the super expensive refrigerator with a computer geisha. WTF! So weird and so funny.

I adored Jennifer because she's just so ridiculous. This book read like a romantic comedy. I devoured it in one sitting, because it was just so fun.

All the characters are over the top.

I found myself trying to cast this book the whole time I was reading it.

Jennifer does everything to fit in with her wealthy in-laws, but it always backfires...and really if you knew Mother Keller, you wouldn't want her to like you too much. (Or any other family member..except Trevor)

If you need a laugh, this is the book to reach for!

Rating: 5 flowers

Monday, October 22, 2012

99 Cent Deals!

Two books by Roxanne Rhoads..the lovely blogger who runs Bewitching Book Tours are 99 cents at amazon!

Book Blurb: 
Anwyn Rose is descended from a long line of powerful witches yet she can barely cast spells young witchlings have mastered. She has one functioning witch gift, the power of knowing, which she puts to good use as a Detective on Flint’s Preternatural Investigation Team.

It’s a new era in Vehicle City, supernaturals are running the town. The P.I.T has their hands full with paranormal crimes. Top priority is a serial killer, who appears to be a vampire, draining young women in the city.

Anwyn is on the case with her sexy partner Detective Mike Malone. Complicating things is her relationship Galen, a vampire who looks more guilty than innocent, although Anwyn trusts her instincts even if her power is on the fritz.

Mysterious spells, compromising situations, and a possible demon on the loose make it hard to focus on the case, but Anwyn has to make things right before the human police execute the wrong vampire.

Hex and the Single Witch contains magick, a little bit of mystery, a lot of supernatural mayhem, and a sexy love triangle that will leave you wanting more.

Buy: Amazon
Book Blurb: Ten tantalizing, erotic tales of vampires, witches and demons grace the pages of this short story collection by Roxanne Rhoads. Step into the darkness and let these tales tempt and tease to satisfy your paranormal cravings. Eight of Roxanne Rhoads' previous publications, now newly edited, appear in this short story collection along with two brand new, never before published tales of supernatural love and lust.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Book Review: Forever & A Day

Author: Jill Shalvis
Title: Forever & A Day
Publisher: Hatchette Book Group
Publish Date: July 31, 2012
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: Net Galley

Grace never thought she'd be starting her life over from scratch. Losing everything has landed her in Lucky Harbor, working as a dog walker for overwhelmed ER doctor Josh Scott. But the day his nanny fails to show up, Grace goes from caring for Josh's lovable mutt to caring for his rambunctious son. Soon Grace is playing house with the sexy single dad . . .

With so many people depending on him, Josh has no time for anything outside of his clinic and family-until Grace arrives in town. Now this brainy blonde is turning his life inside out and giving a whole new meaning to the phrase "good bedside manner." Josh and Grace don't know if what they have can last. But in a town like Lucky Harbor, a lifetime of love starts with just one day . . .

Review: Jill Shalvis is what good romance is all about. She writes stories like Debbie Macomber and Sherryl Woods with characters you really connect with. In this case its Amy, Mallory and Grace in the town of Lucky Habor.

But that's not all, there's each women's significant other as well as some pretty crazy people from the town particularly Lucille who runs an art gallery in town.

This story is about Grace and Josh. Josh is a super hot and highly overworked single father/doctor. He's juggling work, being a dad and new puppy owner as well as taking care of his sister who is wheel chair bound as a result of an car accident.

Yeah, he's got a lot on his plate and he needs a dog walker for Tag, his super hyper pug puppy. That's where Grace came in. Then she took over for the nanny that quit. Once you got into Josh's life, you really didn't want to get out of it, even if your like Grace, a woman looking to find some measure of success.

This story is kind of a been there done that one. Grace is in banking/finance but as the story goes on, everyone wants her to do their bookkeeping. So you kind of now what she's going to end up doing in town, just as you know to have a HEA she's got to stay in Lucky Habor.

So the story is very predictable, more so than most series romance, but it is a comfortable read. All of Shalvis' characters feel like family. It doesn't matter if this is the first Lucky Harbor book you've read or the 6th. (which this one is)

When you read the dialogue between Grace and Amy and Mallory, you feel like you are sitting around a coffee table with them.

This book really captured small town life as well as friendship. I will be putting Jill on my must read list from now on.

Rating: 4 flowers

Friday, October 19, 2012

TLC Book Tours Book Review: Lord Of Temptation

Author: Lorraine Heath
Title: Lord Of Temptation
Publisher: Avon
Publish Date: Sept 25, 2012
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: TLC Book Tours and the publisher
Book Blurb: Three young heirs, imprisoned by an unscrupulous uncle, escaped—to the sea, to the streets, to faraway battle—awaiting the day when they would return to reclaim their birthright.

Once upon a time, he was Lord Tristan Easton—now he is Crimson Jack, a notorious privateer beholden to none, whose only mistress is the sea. But all that will change when exquisite Lady Anne Hayworth hires his protection on a trip into danger and seduction. . .

Desperation brought Anne to the bronzed, blue-eyed buccaneer. But after the Captain demands a kiss as his payment, desire will keep her at his side. She has never known temptation like this—but to protect her heart, she knows she must leave him behind. Yet Tristan cannot easily forget the beauty—and when they meet again in a London ballroom, he vows he won't lose her a second time, as fiery passion reignited takes them into uncharted waters that could lead the second lost lord home...

Review: I've really been getting into historical romance again. I'm not sure why. I usually go for  regencies, but this one is a Victorian novel, set in the early days of Queen Victoria's reign.

It is hard not to love both characters in this story. Anne is head strong and not your typical Victorian woman.  It is hard to believe that a woman would undertake the journey she did just to visit the grave of her fiance. It really is touching.

Her growing feelings for Tristan cause her such frustration on the journey. She feels guilty for denying Walter her love while she's beginning to have strong feelings for Captain Jack. (Every time I thought of him as Captain Jack..I alternately saw Johnny Depp and John Barrowman.)

Tristain was the kind of hero you long for in these historical romances. He's strong on the outside, but inside he's a real softy. His seduction of Anne was slow, but more than just the romance it was how he treated his crew, especially Mouse.

I love how their relationship progressed, even though they both knew it shouldn't. I'm trying to figure out how Anne didn't feel guilt at all the luscious sex she was having before marriage when she lived in Victorian England. She was very free with her favors in a time when that wasn't quite the thing!

I preferred the time that was spent on Revenge to the time in London. Some of the characters there didn't ring quite true. I liked Walter's brother Chetwyn, who was a really good sport about his relationship with Anne, but Hermoine was borderline psycho, and she changed her feelings too quickly to be believable at the end.

This book is part of the Lost Lords of Pembrook series. It is the second of three, but the books can be read as stand alone stories. It is an enjoyable read and it will make you want to grab the first book in the series which is about Tristain's brother Sebastian and Mary.

Rating: 4 flowers

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Historical Fiction Book Tours: Days Of Splendor, Days Of Sorrow

Author: Juliet Grey
Title: Days Of Splendor, Days Of Sorrow
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publish Date:  May 15, 2012
Buy: Amazon
Book Blurb: A captivating novel of rich spectacle and royal scandal, Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow spans fifteen years in the fateful reign of Marie Antoinette, France’s most legendary and notorious queen. Paris, 1774.

At the tender age of eighteen, Marie Antoinette ascends to the French throne alongside her husband, Louis XVI. But behind the extravagance of the young queen’s elaborate silk gowns and dizzyingly high coiffures, she harbors deeper fears for her future and that of the Bourbon dynasty.

 From the early growing pains of marriage to the joy of conceiving a child, from her passion for Swedish military attaché Axel von Fersen to the devastating Affair of the Diamond Necklace, Marie Antoinette tries to rise above the gossip and rivalries that encircle her. But as revolution blossoms in America, a much larger threat looms beyond the gilded gates of Versailles—one that could sweep away the French monarchy forever.

Review: I read this book in one day. I simply could not put it down. There are a plethora of books about Louis XVI's wife. She's like Henry VIII's wives. Royals you just can't get enough of.

The more I read about Marie Antoinette, the more I feel sorry for her.

She was sent from her home at age 14 to be wed and now in this book, several years after her marriage, it isn't consummated therefore there is no heir to the French throne.

What you see is a lonely girl who is a queen, who isn't a true wife and who is a bit ditzy to start with. If you read Juliet Grey's first book, Becoming Marie Antoinette, you know that she wasn't fond of reading or anything that would have really made her a good queen. She's kind of like a 1700s version of Paris Hilton. Only Marie was probably a nicer person.

This book shows all the missteps Marie made in her years as the Queen of France. Some of those missteps weren't entirely her fault. The people of France were predisposed to hate her. The country had spent 900 years disliking Austria, it goes without saying that they weren't prepared to love her no matter how beautiful she was, and Marie Antoinette was a beautiful woman.

This story also touches on the relationship Marie Antoinette shared with Count Axel Von Fersen of Sweden. How far the relationship progressed is up for speculation, but Juliet let's us imagine that they consummated their love affair. (Go to wiki and see Axel for youself). If I were Marie, I probably would have fallen for him. And considering Louis wasn't always a ready lover, it is definitely a possibility, especially in a court were love affairs abounded.

This book also shows the years when Marie finally became a mother, first to a daughter, Madame Royal and then to the dauphin. Motherhood was not easy on Marie. Only one of her children survived to adulthood.

This is a great middle book in the trilogy. I look forward to the final book in the series.

Rating:  5 flowers

About the Author Juliet Grey is the author of Becoming Marie Antoinette. She has extensively researched European royalty and is a particular devotee of Marie Antoinette, as well as a classically trained professional actress with numerous portrayals of virgins, vixens, and villainesses to her credit. She and her husband divide their time between New York City and southern Vermont.

Tour Schedule:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Innovative Online Book Tours Book Excerpt: The Erroneous Talibani

    The Erroneous Talibani showcases all the essential components of the classic espionage novel. Exotic settings, broken hearts, treacherous allies, love, violence, redemption and vengeance spin through the book, which moves at a breakneck pace worthy of the best examples of the genre.
    Greg Damet, an Annapolis graduate with eight years in Naval  Intelligence is recruited by the CIA where he meets and falls in love with Jacquie Dean. Together they are sent to Afghanistan to work with the Special Forces. Greg is sent into the field while Jacquie remains at Bagram Air Base.
    During Greg’s tour of duty, his plane is shot down, eats raw snake to survive and is ultimately captured and beaten nearly to death by the Taliban. He is discovered by Aysha, the daughter of a tribal chieftain and she nurses him back to health. During his recovery, the two develop a romantic attraction for each other. It is also while he is recovering that he is able to obtain information that has dire international consequences, information supplied by a CIA mole. Armed with this information, Greg is forced to kiss a tearful Aysha good-bye and do whatever it takes to get to the American Embassy in Islamabad. Greg’s initial action there is key to unraveling the mystery of the mole’s true identity.

    Richard Asner describes himself as having led a “very fruitful life,” and it would be impossible to dispute him. A veteran of the U.S. Marines, which he joined at 17, he went on to graduate from the Naval Academy, like his hero Greg Damet. He then spent eight years as a naval aviator teaching midshipmen at
Northwestern University during the last three years of his flying career.
    Mr.Asner moved his focus to engineering and spent thirty years working in that field in the Chicago area before retiring. His primary enthusiasm is working out in his health club, but the keyboard will continue to compete with the weight room as a focus for his energy.

Buy: Amazon Kindle Edition

Book Excerpt:   Twenty-One

                                             Wednesday – April 4

    “Father, come quickly. Bubba has just discovered a badly wounded Taliban soldier who desperately needs our help”
    “Where is he?”
    “He’s in a cave, not far from here.”
    “How badly is he hurt? Can he walk at all?”
    “No, Father, he can’t. He barely move.”
    “Alright, we’ll take the wood cart we have for hauling wood. It’s about the right size.”
    The cart looks as if it were made 100 years earlier, boxy in shape with side boards, two large wooden wheels in front and two sturdy handles at the rear, looking pretty much like a big old-fashioned wheelbarrow.
    “Hazar and Bannu, grab the wood cart and come with me. Very well, Aysha! Show us the way.”
    They start out heading north. The cart shakes and rattles as it passes over some rather rough rocky ground. Occasionally, one of the wheels becomes wedged between two rocks and it takes some effort to force the cart forward. In about twenty minutes they reach the cave. They find Jamal in great pain. Gazni asks him in Urdu, “Where does it hurt?”
    Jamal responds, “All over.”
    “What happened to you?”
    Jamal struggles and speaks haltingly, “I got separated from my group. The Americans found me, brought me here and beat me to give them information.”
    Aysha says, “You’re in good hands now. We will take care of you and make you well again.”
    The four of them lift Jamal off the ground and carefully lay him down on the surface of the wood cart. Aysha starts to get in next to Jamal to comfort him, but decides against it, thinking it would be too much of a load. Hazar and Bannu each grab a handle and begin the jolting trip back to camp. On the way back, they stop at various times to tend to Jamal and give him a chance to rest a bit before traveling on. After about an hour of this rather arduous journey for Jamal, they reach camp. They carry Jamal into the camp’s only two room cabin, reserved for Gazni, the tribal leader and Aysha his daughter. It is also used on occasion for tribal meetings. Gazni asks Hazar and Bannu to place Jamal on his bed for now. Then Gazni says to Hazar, “You have an extra bed in your place. Bring it over.”
    A few minutes later, Hazar along with Bannu return with the extra bed.
    “Place it in the corner next to the door. This is only temporary until his condition improves enough for him to move in with Bannu.”
    “Move in with me?”
    “Yes. It will only be long enough until he’s ready to travel. Then he will be joining his Taliban friends when they return.”
    Jamal hears this with no small concern. I don’t want to be here when they return. I wonder when that might be. Jamal mumbles something and Aysha bends over Jamal.
    “What is it Jamal? I didn’t hear you.”
    In a voice barely audible, “What day is it?”
    “It’s 16 Rabi one. (April 4 on Gregorian calendar.)
    Jamal studies the situation. Okay! What’s 16Rabi one? That has to be their Islamic calendar. I don’t dare ask her what year it is. Anyway, I know as much now as I did before. I remember it was April 2 the day Joe and I were ambushed in the cave. I don’t know how long I was out before Aysha found me. I’m going to guess a day. Then it was another day or two that I was in the cave with Aysha watching over me. I have to say it’s about the fourth or fifth of April. The Taliban have left their winter haven and have probably started their summer offensive. Chances are they won’t be back for some time, unless they return at some point for a little R and R. I’m going to estimate a couple of weeks to recover.
    Jamal looks around the cabin. There’s an old potbelly wood burning stove in the center with a smoke stack penetrating through the flat wooden and tar paper roof and a rickety wooden table with a kerosene lantern. One leg appears to be a bit shorter than the other three causing the table to wobble. There are two sturdy chairs and one other bed with a rope and canvas base, no mattress, a front door, a back door, a third door leading to another room and a window in each of two side walls. Aysha must have the second room and Gazni must have the one bed in this room.
    That night after everyone had eaten, Jamal could hear the sounds of music and people singing outside the cabin. I kinda wondered what they did for entertainment in the hills here. They sound pretty good. Aysha is gone. I’ll bet she is part of the entertainment.
    Jamal listens for a while and eventually drifts off to sleep. In the morning, he wakes up early to see Aysha sleeping on the floor next to him.
    This isn’t right. I have to make a greater effort to get back on my feet.
    A few minutes later Aysha wakes up. She glances over at Jamal and asks, “How do you feel this morning?”
    “I’m feeling much better. I feel I can talk now without too much effort, but I have to as you, how do you feel after sleeping on the floor all night? Why did you do that?”
    “I wanted to be close by in case you needed anything during the night. Don’t let it bother you.”
    The fire has gone out in the potbelly stove. Aysha looks at Jamal, “I must get some wood for the stove and restart the fire. It is still a little cold in here. It warms up during the day, but you know all that. I know you suffered a lot during those days you spent alone in the cave.
    Gazni is awakened by Aysha stirring about. “Aysha, you must get some wood and restart the fire.”
    “I know father. I was just on my way when you woke up.”
    Aysha leaves to pick up the wood and Gazni looks over at Jamal, “How do you feel this morning?”
    “I feel much better than I did yesterday, thank you. I slept better last night than I have in several days. I am going to try to sit up.”
    Just then Aysha returns with her arms loaded with logs. “Jamal, what are you doing?”
    “I’m going to do my best to sit up.”
    Aysha drops the logs on the floor and rushes over to help Jamal in his effort to sit up.
    “I think I can make it, Aysha.”
    Jamal struggles, but with Aysha’s help, he manages to get up. He sits on the edge of the bed for a brief few minutes and says, “I think I need to lie down again for a while. We can try this again little later.” Aysha helps him back down.
    “That was good, Jamal. You’re making some improvement.”
    For the first time, he takes a long look at Aysha. I know I must be feeling better. I never really noticed before how attractive she is. Even in that babushka I can see she has long black raven hair. I have known some women that would look terrific wearing a gunny sack. Aysha is that kind of woman. She’s not wearing a gunny sack, but that peasant dress isn’t a whole lot better. If I can’t recover quickly by just having her near, then maybe I should crawl back into that cave.
    Meanwhile, Aysha has started the fire in the potbelly stove and it is already giving off heat to begin to warm the room. “The warmth feels good, Aysha. You’ll make some man a good wife one day.”
    “Jamal, you should know I was married once. My husband became ill and died of, ---I don’t know the name. I think it’s a name that sounds like new something.”
    “Are you trying to say pneumonia?”
    “Yes! I think that is the word. He was out with others cutting down trees for firewood two years ago during a very cold winter and became ill with, --- what was that word?”
    “Yes! New---Mo---Ne---A.”
    “You are spending so much time with me, I have to assume you have no children. Am I right?”
    “Yes, Jamal.”
    “I was hearing some music being played outside the cabin last night. I have to say it sounded pretty good. Quite professional! I noticed you were gone at the time. Were you playing an instrument?”
    “No! I sing and dance with ghungroos.”
    “With ghungroos? What are ghungroos?”
    “They are ankle bells that I use while dancing. You’ll have to get well fast so you can come and join us.”
    “I know a few Pakistani songs, I ‘m afraid I’m not much of a dancer.”
    “Would you like to learn? I’ll teach you.”
    “Thanks, Aysha, but I think I’ll just stick to singing. Maybe I should say, murdering a few songs.”
    “You’re going to kill some songs? How do you do that?”
    “The first time you hear me sing, you’ll know what I mean.”
    The next two days pass by rather quickly and Jamal has managed to free himself of the bed off and on during the day. Having so much free time during the day has given him an opportunity to talk to Gazni. He has learned from these talks a little bit of what tribal life is like. Basically, the tribe subsists on smuggling and selling stolen goods. And as a Pashtun, they have a special code that they live by, that is to give shelter to anyone who asks for it.
    “I want to thank you, Gazni, for taking me in like this. You didn’t have to.”
    “It’s really Aysha you be thanking. She’s the one who found you.”
    “You’re right, I owe her my life and I’ll never be able to repay her. However, thanks to you, I wouldn’t be here getting my life back without your permission.”
    “Well, you are a Taliban and we are obliged to take care of your people.”
    “You make it sound as if this is something you have to do. Is this something you have to do, Gazni?”
    “I don’t think we should talk anymore about this. You just get well as quickly as you can, so you can return to your people. When do you expect them to return?”
    “I’m not really sure, Gazni.”
    “Don’t you know? They are your people.”
    “I was sent out ahead of my group to scout the area. That’s when I was taken by the Americans. What do you think of Americans, Gazni?”
    “The only people I truly care about are my people, the ones that look to me for guidance and leadership. That’s all I care to say about this right now.”
    With that, Gazni leaves the cabin. All during the conversation with Gazni, Aysha was sitting on one of the two wooden chairs next to the table with one short leg.
    “You heard what I told Gazni. I owe you my life. There will never be anyway that I can repay you. All I can say is, thank you from the bottom of my heart.’
    “From the bottom of your heart? What does that mean?”
    “It means I give you total thanks and I would do anything for you.”
    “Anything that’s with my power to give you. I don’t have much to give right now.”
    “Let’s wait until you get better.”

    It is now week from the time Jamal was brought into the camp. During that time, he has had many talks with Gazni and Aysha. Although Gazni has never said it directly, Jamal knows that Gazni has an intense dislike for the Taliban. He’s just very reluctant to express it. On the other hand, Aysha is above any antipathy for anyone.
    “ Aysha, I think I’m well enough to leave the cabin for a little while. I would like very much to join you tonight during the musical gathering.”
    “What a great idea. It’ll be fun. You’ll enjoy it.”
    That evening after every had finished eating, Aysha removes one of the wooden chairs from the cabin to give Jamal something to sit on. She helps Jamal outside as the camp’s musicians begin tuning up. This is the first real opportunity that Jamal has had to see what the tribal area looks like.
    Glancing around, he counts eleven stone and timber one-room dwellings circling an area roughly 100 feet in diameter. Looks like each one would hold eight to ten people. I don’t see a stack of any kind sticking out from any of the roofs. That can only mean no source of heat inside their homes. However, in the center of the camp is what looks like about a five-foot diameter pit holding a blazing fire.
    People begin to gather around the fire. About twenty to thirty feet from the fire are several large boulders that are used by the tribal musicians to sit on as they play. They have a number of different types of instruments.
    “Aysha, can you tell me a little about the instruments they are using?”
    “All the instruments you see are played both in Pakistan and India and to some extent in Afghanistan. Hazro is playing a shanal. It has a reed type sound. Pindi has a swarmandal. It is played with little hammers and strings. That instrument is mainly Indian. Hazar and Bannu  play the sitar and Tani plays the tabla. You know it as a drum. And as I mentioned before, I dance with ghungroos around my ankles. They were tuning up while we were talking. I think they are about ready to start. Sit back and enjoy, Jamal.”
    The musicians begin to play and everyone in the camp begin to sing and clap to the music. Aysha gets up wearing her ghungroos and begins to dance. Then one by one, several others join her.
    I know some of these songs. I won’t be very loud, but who cares? Everyone here seems to accept me as a wounded Taliban. It’s hard to believe I have deceived so many people. I’m not sure about Gazni though. I think he has some suspicions. He is very astute. I may have to own up to him at some point in the future, maybe the near future. He doesn’t seem to care for the Taliban much. I wonder how he feels about Americans, especially one working for the CIA. I know the Pashtuns have a code of granting shelter to anyone who asks for it, but how far can one stretch that? I think I’m a pretty good judge of human character though and I think Gazni would respect me more if I came clean with him. Besides, Aysha may have already told Gazni how she found me. I know how hard it is for some people to keep a secret about anything very long.
    The festivities continue for almost two hours. Gradually people leave little by little and retreat to their shelters.
    Finally, the musicians put down their instruments and begin packing up. Aysha walks over to Jamal and says, “Well, Jamal, what did you think of our music? Did you have a good time?”
    “Of course! I had a great time. I was a little worried about you though, having to tae your shoes off in order to dance with those bells around your ankles. Weren’t your feet cold?”
    “Not really! I’m used to it. Let me help you back into the cabin. Then I have to make sure we have a fire in the stove for the night”
    “Aysha, I hope you are not offended by this question, but have you talked to Gazni about how you found me? By that I mean, have you mentioned that I’m not a Taliban?”
    “No, I haven’t. But I’m going to have to tell him some time. Some way he will find out on his own and I’m not sure what the consequences might be. I have to be honest with him.”
    “I was thinking of discussing it with him tomorrow. Would you rather mention it to him or would you like me to?”
    “I think it would be better if I told him, but with you present.”
    “That’s agreeable with me, Aysha.”
    The next morning, Jamal is awakened to hear Aysha stoking the fire.
    “How do you feel this morning, sleepy head?”
    “What time is it?”
    “It’s midmorning and it looks like you had a good night’s sleep.”
    “Yes, I did and I’m feeling pretty good right now.”
    “Would you like something to eat?”
    “That would be great. Thank you.”
    “I’ll fix you a little flat bread, rice and beans and some goat’s milk.”
    “That sounds delicious, Aysha. Thank you very much.”
    About the time Jamal finishes eating, Gazni storms into the cabin, mad as hell about something.
    “What is it, father? What’s wrong?”
    “The Taliban are returning. I didn’t expect them back this soon.”
    There’s a knock on the door. Gazni opens the door and asks, “Yes, what is it?
    “We have a wounded brother, Mazar, who could use your help.”
    “Bring him in. He can join one of your fellow brothers.”
    “What do you mean by that?”
    “I’m taking care of one of your brothers already, Jamal.”
    “Who’s Jamal?”
    “Well, he claims to be one of your Taliban brothers.”
    Jamal is listening to this and is beginning to feel like a trapped animal.
    Then Gazni says, “On second thought, we don’t have enough room here. Take him over to Hazro’s shelter. I think he may have a little more room there. I’ll show you the way.”
    Gazni departs. Jamal looks at Aysha and says, “What do we do now, punt?”
    Looking rather puzzled, Aysha responds, “I don’t know what you mean, but I think the sooner we confess to Gazni, the better.”
    Moments later, Gazni returns.
    “Father, Jamal and I have something we want you to know.”
    “Yes! What is it?”
    “I found Jamal in a cave.”
    “Yes, I know.”
    “When I found him, he wasn’t wearing what you see him wearing now. He was wearing western clothes, clothes that were very stained with blood.”
    “Who are you?”
    “My real name is Greg Damet and I was working with the U.S. Special Forces when my friend and I were surprised by a large number of the Taliban. We were both beaten to unconsciousness. When Aysha found me, my friend was gone and so were the Taliban. Aysha felt a certain compassion for me for some reason and felt compelled to help.”
    “But why didn’t you both tell me this right away?”
    “We both felt that if you got to know me first, you attitude toward me might be different.”
    “Well, you are right about that. I like you, Jamal. Or should I call you Greg? No, I think I should stick with Jamal. You speak perfect Urdu. How do you explain that?”
    “Although I was born and raised in America, my mother is from Pakistan. She taught me the language and customs as I was growing up.”
    “So you are half Pakistani. You look Pakistani. No one would ever suspect you to be an American, especially in those clothes.” --- “You know, Jamal, you are also liked by the other tribal leader here, Mamoud. I feel I must tell him who you really are and swear him to secrecy. If this really got around to the whole camp, you could be in big trouble with a few members of the Taliban that are here at the moment. As a matter of fact, we could all be in big trouble with the Taliban if they were to find out we were harboring an American.”
    Three days pass by before Gazni hears another knock on his door.
    “We just stopped by to say we are taking our brother back to the fight. His leg wound seems to be healing very well and he is anxious to get back into action.”
    “Allah be praised. Give your leader, Sabawi, my highest regards.”
    After they are gone, Mamoud approaches Gazni and says, “I like Jamal very much, but you know Gazni, having him here is a threat to all of us. How long do you plan to keep him?”
    “No longer than it takes for him to fully recover! He took one hell of a beating.”
    “Well, that may be nothing when you compare it to what this tribe will suffer if the Taliban find out.”
    “But they are not going to find out, are they!”
    “Seems like the Taliban that were here left in a kind of a hurry. Do you suspect they might know something?”
    “Not unless they were told by somebody and there was no way for that to happen, was there!”
    “No. Not that I know of, not unless someone overheard us talking.”
    Mamoud has been looking for an opportunity to become the number one leader of the tribe and sees this as an opportunity to destroy Gazni. If I make a report to the Taliban about Gazni, it will save the tribe from any potential danger and I in turn will be number one.
    That night Mamoud sets out to find the Taliban army. The next day Gazni looks for Mamoud for their daily morning meeting. He checks with Mamoud’s family and a number of others in the tribe. No one seems to be able to account for him.
    Gazni returns to Mamoud’s family and talks to his wife, Shirza. “This is not like Mamoud. Why do you suppose he would disappear like this without telling anyone?”
    “I don’t know, Gazni. This is the first time he has ever done anything like this.”
    Gazni returns to Aysha and Jamal. “Mamoud has left the camp without telling anyone and no one knows where he has gone. The question is, why would he do that? There is only one possible reason that I can think of and it has to do with you, Jamal. I have suspected he has been looking for a reason to take over my responsibility as tribal leader for some time. I think he means to turn you in.”
    “If you could make up a couple of crutches, I’ll try to make it out of here.”
    “You’re still in no shape to travel, even with crutches. At this point we don’t know how long it will take him to find the Taliban. As you already know, this is a big rugged country and can take days to travel just a few kilometers on foot. It could take him a week or two to locate the Taliban. In the meantime, we just sit tight. I’ll post scouts to warn us of any approaching Taliban. I know a place where I can hide you, if need be.”
    Mamoud is four days out of camp wandering through the hills bordering the Khyber Pass. “I’m fairly certain the group that left camp headed this way. This is the easiest way back into Afghanistan and I’m sure they must have been returning to the Taliban main body. The question is which side of the Pass did they head for? I think my best bet is to make my way toward the Tora Bora area.”
    After a little over a day and a half, Mamoud reaches the mountain peak of Tora Bora and there is no sign of the Taliban. “This range covers quite a large area both east and west. I think I’ll have a better chance of finding them by traveling west, deeper into Afghanistan.”
    As Mamoud grapples with the rocky mountain side, a shot rings out. Mamoud doubles over in pain and grasping his staff, slumps on top of a large boulder.
    Maury Albright looks at Bill Bishop and says, “It looks like we have one less Taliban to contend with.”
    “Let’s make sure of that.”
    “Easy Bill, there may be others in the area.”
    Bill and Maury gradually make their way over to Mamoud who is still barely alive. After reaching him, Mamoud struggles to say something. Maury bends over to hear what he is trying to say. At that point, Mamoud reaches up with his right hand, grabs hold of the collar of his fatigues and pulls Maury toward him. Wheezing and gasping for air, he says, “You don’t know what you have done. You have not killed a Taliban, but a Pashtun of Gazni’s tribe. You will pay.” Mamoud then drops his head and dies.
    “Could you make out what he was saying, Bill?”
    “I don’t know the language all that well, but I think he was trying to tell us he wasn’t a Talibani. If he wasn’t a Talibani, what was he doing in this area?”
    “We’ll never know, Bill. It looks like this is another one of the tragedies of war. I think we should give him a proper burial.”
    Jamal, meanwhile, is showing marked improvement in strength and mobility. “How are you feeling this morning, Jamal?”
    “Gazni, I feel like I’m on top of the world.”
    “That’s good, I guess. Rather the top than the bottom, eh?”
    “I think I can travel any day now.”
    “Where do you plan to go when you leave?”
    “I’m not sure. I’m fairly certain that the unit I was working with is not in the same area where they were when I left it. It would be almost impossible to find them again. I think I will try to make my way to the American Embassy in Islamabad. It may be a little closer than Kabul.”
    No sooner had Jamal finished speaking with Gazni, when a member of Gazni’s outlying posts comes running into camp.
    “The Taliban are headed this way, about fifty of them.”
    “Oh, great! We have to find a place for you, Jamal. I know just the spot. There’s a small room underneath the cabin hidden by a few loose floor boards. It isn’t very cozy down there, but you’ll be out of sight for a while until I find out why they have returned.”
    Jamal and Gazni enter the cabin and walk over to Gazni’s bed. “Are you up to giving me a hand moving this bed?”
    “Of course!”
    After moving the bed, Gazni reaches down and removes six rather loose floor boards, revealing a crudely made step ladder into a dark, totally unlit dank hole in the ground that measures about eight feet in each direction.
    “I know this is a little like solitary confinement, Jamal, but it is only temporary until I know it’s safe for you to come out. In you go!”
    Jamal descends the step ladder a rung at a time reluctantly, wondering what is really at the bottom rung. At the bottom, he calls up to Gazni, “What’s down here? I can’t see a thing.”
    “You’ll find a cot and a table with a kerosene lantern. Here, I’ll bring down a lighted candle. You can use it to light the lantern. Hopefully, you won’t have to be down there too long.”
    Gazni hands him the candle and climbs back up, then covers up the entrance with the loose floor boards. Jamal can hear Gazni shoving the bed across the floor as the last step in this cat and mouse game.
    Jamal is thinking, “Yeah, --and I’m the mouse.” Taking the candle, Jamal finds the kerosene lantern and lights it. “Holy smokes! This really is nothing more than a big hole in the ground with a dirt floor and dirt walls. It seems I have my own little private abyss. Now I have just a very slight taste of what some of our Vietnam POW’s went through, only I know I’ll be getting out of here sometime soon. Guess I’ll just lie down on this cot and enjoy it.”
    Gazni, swings open the front door of the cabin and walks onto his own little plaza with its version of an eternal fire in the center pit. Approaching him is Sabawi, the local Taliban leader.
    “Ah, Sabawi! Good to see you again, but I didn’t expect to see you this soon.”
    “We just had a very rough battle with the Americans and thought we would return for a short while to take advantage of your hospitality.”
    “Well, you and your men make yourselves at home.”
    “That’s very kind of you, Gazni. We have a man that needs some medical attention. Do you have any more medical supplies left?”
    “Yes, you’ll find them I Bannu’s shelter. I believe you remember where that is.”
    “Yes, I do!”
    “I’ve had the pleasure of taking care of two of your brothers very recently. Mazar has returned to the fight. The other, Jamal, is still here recovering.”
    “I know Mazar, but I can’t say that I know Jamal. He must be part of a different group.”
    “That could be. I have several groups that like to take advantage of our hospitality. Please! Make yourself at home.”
    “Thank you, Gazni. We’ll only be here three or four days.”
    Sabawi walks off toward Bannu’s shelter and Gazni walks back into his cabin. He moves the bed away from the entrance to the room below and pulls away the loose floor boards. “How are you getting along down there?”
    “Gazni? Yeah, I was just taking a nap in an attempt to escape this place.”
    “Well, you can take a nap up here, if you like. Based on my brief conversation with Sabawi, the Taliban leader, I don’t believe Mamoud managed to make it to his group. He didn’t show any indication that he knew anything about you.” Jamal puts out the kerosene lantern and gleefully climbs out of this very dark dank hole in the ground.
    “I can’t tell you how happy I am to climb out of that, ---what’s your name for the room, Gazni?”
    “I call it a shelter room, but it is better known as The Pit.”
    “I couldn’t have said it better.”
    “I think it is possible, even wise, for you to step outside and mingle with your Taliban brothers. It would give you an air of acceptability. Discuss your capture and the beatings by the Americans causing you to have some memory loss. You speak Urdu very fluently. You should have no trouble.”
    “Gazni, the only thing that concerns me right now, is that I don’t know if some of Sabawi’s men aren’t the ones that damn near killed me.”
    “That’s the chance you’ll have to take and only you can make that choice. I have to say though, that if by chance you are discovered, for the sake of my people, I will have to say that you made your way here claiming to be a Taliban warrior. I won’t be able to help you. I don’t believe you are able to travel yet. You still appear to be rather weak. What do you plan to do?”

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