Friday, April 30, 2021

Guest post: "My Five (Recent) Favorite Reads," by Amy Rivers, Author of 'Complicit'

I am a voracious reader, so when someone asks me about my favorite books, I invariably stumble around and end up sounding like someone who has never cracked a cover. Not so—but I need context. My favorite books of all time look a lot different than my favorite thrillers or my favorite classic reads. I need specifics, because I adopt new favorites every year. So, I’m going to share my five favorite reads from the past year to keep things simple. In a year that was laced with trouble and strife, these books saw me through, giving me hope, getting my heart racing, and making me laugh.

In no particular order…

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia

After reading Mexican Gothic, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on another of Moreno-Garcia’s books. She’s written a variety, but when I read the description of Gods of Jade and Shadow, I knew it was the next book for me. The story follows Casiopea, a Cinderella-like character living in shadow of her hateful cousin. She unwittingly releases an imprisoned god, leading her on an adventure across Mexico and ultimately to freedom. The cast of characters is fascinating, and the whole tale is based on Mexican folklore. 

Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice by Mahogany L. Browne, Elizabeth Acevedo & Olivia Gatwood with Illustrations by Theodore Taylor III

In the wake of the pandemic, I chose to homeschool my kids this year. What seemed like a daunting task became a real blessing in that I was able to choose the path of our study. I ran across Woke, having read other work’s by Elizabeth Acevedo, and was introduced to an absolutely beautiful and essential piece of modern literature. The poems in this book look at topics including racism and immigration, empathy and acceptance—among others. Accompanied by colorful illustrations, the poetry in Woke is accessible and relevant and really a book that everyone should read and consider. 

One by One by Ruth Ware

Set in a chalet in the snowy French Alps, One by One is an Agatha Christie-esque thriller where a ski retreat in an isolated locale turns guilty. Everyone is a suspect, and Ware does an excellent job of keeping you guessing until the very end. My favorite aspect of this book is the case of flawed, complicated, and genuinely deplorable characters. I loved them. I hated them. And I enjoyed every moment. 

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

I admit, in the midst of quarantining in 2020, the idea of just sleeping until it was all over was a little more than tempting. That being said, the narrator in this story explores a drug-induced hibernation that is both fascinating to read about, and also horrifying. Full of black humor, interesting interactions, and a smart philosophical look at the power of alienation, the story brought to mind Girl, Interrupted but in all too accessible, normalized setting. 

Bursts of Brilliance for a Creative Life by Teresa R. Funke

This wasn’t the only inspirational book I read in 2020, but it was certainly one of my favorites. Despite having so much unexpected free time, pandemic life was often much less productive than I would have liked. Bursts of Brilliance provided a breath of fresh air in contrast with Funke urging us to examine our uniqueness, follow our passions, and create, drawing on years of experience as an author and creative entrepreneur. This book made me smile, laugh, and had me chucking my hesitation in favor of embracing the things that I love so much about being an author. 

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Book Excerpt: ADULT SUPERVISION REQUIRED by Sarah Peis #bookexcerpt @pumpupyourbook


She wants a better life for her kids. He wants the money her ex owns his club. When their worlds collide, this broody hot boy might just realize how well the single mom fits into his life…

By Sarah Peis

Author: Sarah Peis
Publisher: Hexatorial
Genre: Romantic Comedy


“We don’t lick people.”

“Don’t we?”

Nora Lindberg doesn’t let life get her down. Disowned by her family and left by the man who was supposed to love her for the rest of their lives, she packs up her kids and goes in search of a second chance.

The small town she lands in was supposed to be her fresh start, her chance at a better life. But instead, she’s a broke single mom who spends her nights looking for the chocolate she hid from her kids.

When her ex lands on the local Motorcycle Club’s most wanted list and leads them straight to her door, her life is once again turned upside down.

But maybe a broody hot guy on a motorcycle is just the thing she never asked for but got anyway.

Now the only question is: Will he be her saviour or her downfall?

This is a standalone romantic comedy. It releases on May 6.

“Why are you looking under the table? Your kids are still fast asleep upstairs,” Talon asked, watching me stick my head under the table.

“Just checking,” I muttered, my face feeling numb.

I’d had too much to drink. Five shots were too much for me. I hated tequila. But the guys looked so hopeful when I came back down. And then they offered me alcohol, and it felt rude to say no.

“Checking for what?” he asked, looking under the table as well.

“The orgies?” I said and slapped a hand over my mouth. That thought was supposed to stay in my head.

“Orgies? We don’t have orgies in the main room. And definitely not under the table. Not enough space,” Talon said and then broke out into roaring laughter.

I pushed him, his tall frame not moving an inch. “That’s not… I meant… it was just…”

“I think you’ve got bad reception. You’re cutting out,” Talon said, watching me with a twinkle in his eyes.

“You really thought we’d just all get down to business right here?” Gears asked, amusement evident on his face.

“I read books,” I said, blinking to clear my vision.

“Books of what? Orgies?”


Talon shook his head, his eyes still beaming with mirth. “You might see someone’s naked ass by the end of the night, but we keep the rest in our rooms. Sorry to disappoint.”

I’d come to realize that everyone was really easygoing. They all seemed to care about each other, liked to joke around, and welcomed me like I was their long-lost sister.

Being part of something meant a lot to me. Being part of a family, even if it wasn’t by blood, meant even more, especially since my own had discarded me so easily.

“I love you guys,” I declared, throwing my arms around Talon’s shoulders and my body into his arms, orgies forgotten.

He caught me, squeezing me around my middle. “How are you this drunk already?”

After hugging the other guys in the group that consisted of Gears, Grim, and a man they called Smoke, I settled back in my seat. I had a permanent smile attached to my face, my cheeks aching.

“I’m not drunk, you are,” I said, crossing my arms over my chest.

“You’ve had five shots over three hours and you can’t even figure out how to cross your arms. That’s the definition of a lightweight,” Gears said, taking a drink of his beer.

I looked down and noticed I hadn’t crossed my arms but instead was holding my own hand over my chest. Huh, I really thought I’d crossed them.

I squinted at the monitor sitting on the table. The image was grainy, but when I saw Luca and Lena still fast asleep, I relaxed back into the couch.

“So how did you meet Ace?” Gears asked. “You don’t seem like his type.”

“You mean he doesn’t like a woman with a brain? Or is it the kids? The half-Asian thing? You gotta be more specific here, dude.”

Grim smacked Gears over the head and murmured something to him, causing his face to blanch.

“Sorry, Nora, that’s not what I meant. Forget I said anything,” Gears said, his eyes shifting from me to Grim and back.

I waved him off, too drunk and happy to be offended by the comment. “Don’t worry about it. I know I’m not exactly a catch.”

Grim heaved himself up and squeezed in next to me. “Girl, if I was twenty years younger, I’d ask you to marry me today. You are the full package. You can cook, you’re gorgeous, you’re funny and smart, and did I mention you’re gorgeous?”

I leaned my head on his shoulder. “Thanks, Grim. That’s a really nice thing to say.”

“Don’t let Ace hear you,” Talon said from Grim’s other side. “He’ll make you disappear faster than you can say ‘wedding.’”

Grim grunted in agreement and patted my hand that was holding on to his bicep. “I don’t fear many things, but that man’s wrath is one of them. Sorry, girly, no marriage for us.”

“Shame. I was looking forward to it. I’ve never been married before.”

There was silence on the table and I sat up, brushing my hair out of my eyes. “What? I bet none of you have been either.”

“You didn’t marry the kids’ father?” Talon asked.

“Nope. We were together eight years, had two kids, and he always said it wasn’t the right time. Should have known something was up. But I guess I like to learn my life lessons the hard way. Anyway, it all worked out for the best, because there’s no way I could afford an attorney to get a divorce.”

“That deserves another drink,” Grim announced and got up.


Supporter of all things written, defender of the e-book revolution and master of the take out order – Sarah Peis is not afraid to admit she can’t cook, go a week without breaking something, read labels correctly or park cars in a straight line.

She loves the written word in all forms and shapes and if she’s not glued to a book, she’s attempting to write one. Sarah is a frequent blonde moment sufferer and still trying to figure out how to adult. She lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her two little humans, the holder of her heart and two furry demons. She loves to hear from readers so feel free to get in touch.



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Monday, April 19, 2021

Authors To Watch: Interview with Richard Robbins Author of THE TORMENTING BEAUTY OF EMPATHY #authorstowatch #interview


Richard Robbins’ novels explore the complexities of family dynamics to address important moral questions, while imparting a strong sense of location. His first novel, Love, Loss, and Lagniappe takes to the streets of New Orleans and New York City to explore the journey of self-discovery after heartbreaking loss, while revealing the scientific basis for the meaning of life. His second novel, Panicles, covers the lives of two intertwined families in and around Washington DC, while addressing the price of fame and fortune.

His new release, The Tormenting Beauty of Empathy, follows Hana, a young Guatemalan immigrant mute from childhood tragedy, as her quiet life is upended by the birth of a daughter who turns out to be different. And special. The kind of special that soon draws worldwide attention, for the better, and worse…

Richard was named Louisiana Independent Author of the Year for 2020, and his works have won numerous awards, including the Feathered Quill Book Awards and the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. He lives in New Orleans and New York City with his wife Lisa, near their beloved grown children.




Author: Richard Robbins
Publisher: Evolved Publishing
Pages: 251
Genre: Literary / Spiritual Fiction


Hana, a young Guatemalan woman who fell mute from a childhood tragedy, flees the brutal Civil War ravaging her country in search of a better life in the United States. Soon after arriving, she discovers she’s pregnant, and is banished from her new home and sent to live in a Mayan community in Indiantown, Florida.

There, she settles into a peaceful life of embroidery and raising her child, a daughter who turns out to be… different… and special—the kind of special that soon draws worldwide attention, for the better and worse.


“…a heart-warming, somewhat traumatic journey into the world of spirituality and the human condition. I was deeply touched by The Tormenting Beauty of Empathy. This is a beautiful, touching, and redeeming tale that I can highly recommend to everyone. When as a reader you feel better inside for having read a book, you know the author has achieved his or her goal. This is such a book.” ~ Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews, Grant Leishman (5 STARS)

“Like the simple faith aspired to in The Tormenting Beauty of Empathy by Richard Robbins, the story moves with basic grace…. This tale is told with heartfelt belief, but also with an unswerving directness that feels preordained… appealing to the contemporary Christian message of love and kindness.” ~ Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews, Joel R. Dennstedt (5 STARS)

“…a thoughtful take on an age-old theme.” ~ Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews, Lucinda E. Clarke (5 STARS)


Amazon →

We welcome you to My Bookish Pleasures! Can you tell us how you got started writing fiction?

I had wanted to become a writer when I was young, but chose a more traditional, practical career path. However, I never lost the desire, and later in life decided to give it a try. My wife had a critical illness early in our marriage, when we had three children under the age of five, and my unresolved feelings inspired my first novel, the semi-autobiographical Love, Loss, and Lagniappe. The words and emotions flew out of my heart and onto the pages, and I was honored that I was recently recognized as Louisiana Independent Author of the Year for this work.

Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write?

I am an outliner. Each of my novels began as a single idea or theme, such as exploring the relationship between a boy and a girl who have been best friends since birth, or the way that organized religion would react to a chosen one who was outside their perception of who that should be. I then make a skeleton outline of the story and gradually fill it in, chapter by chapter. First in broad strokes, then progressively more detailed.

Can you tell us about your most recent release?

My current release is titled The Tormenting Beauty of Empathy.  Here is the blurb;

One mute peasant woman flees Civil War-torn Guatemala for the United States, and soon—and forever—changes the world as we know it.

Hana, a young Guatemalan woman who fell mute from a childhood tragedy, flees the brutal Civil War ravaging her country in search of a better life in the United States. Soon after arriving, she discovers she's pregnant, and is banished from her new home and sent to live in a Mayan community in Indiantown, Florida.

There, she settles into a peaceful life of embroidery and raising her child, a daughter who turns out to be... different... and special—the kind of special that soon draws worldwide attention, for the better and worse.

How did you get the idea for the book?

Like many others, I have been troubled by the anger and tribalism in today’s culture, and the inability of some to empathize with the plight of other human beings. I have also felt that some of those who claim to be the most righteous or religious are actually the least kind and tolerant, behaving directly counter to the teachings of the major religions. I have tried to address those issues in this work. Hopefully it will cause at least one person to reevaluate their motivations and actions, and perhaps open themselves emotionally and spiritually to the needs of others.

Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?

I like Deisi, from my most recent work. She was always overlooked as a child, considered the runt of the litter, so to speak, in her school. But during a crisis, much to her own surprise, she rises up and becomes a leader. Sometimes greatness summons the least expected.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?

The biggest challenge was writing my first book. Not because it was my first, which in some ways was easier since I knew very little about writing and therefore spent less time worrying about playing by the rules. The book was very autobiographical, and dealt with the painful personal memories and experience of my wife’s illness. I spent plenty of hours drying my eyes in the corner of a Starbucks, trying to avoid people seeing my tears. However, I found the experience therapeutic, and it helped me work through my suppressed emotions.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’ve just finished the first draft of my next book, currently untitled, which is my first work of historical fiction. It is based on the formation of the American Mafia in New Orleans, which few people realize, occurred earlier, and perhaps more advanced than in New York City. It’s based on the real-life story of a family of Sicilian wine merchants who come to America to pursue an honest living, but find themselves drawn into conflict with the emerging Mafia, as well as its nastier stepchild, The Black Hand.

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring fiction authors?

Go ahead and write! For me, the actual writing is the most enjoyable part of the process. It is a pleasure to have an outlet for your creativity, and looking down at the page after a writing session and seeing a character you created come to life which didn’t exist beforehand is very satisfying. Don’t try to be perfect on your first draft, just get the words down on the page, you can change and fix things in future drafts. If you would like to discuss the process, or have questions, you can reach me at I’m happy to communicate with readers or writers.


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Authors To Watch: Interview with Rev. Dr. Leonidas A. Johnson Author of PHENOMENAL VISION EYESIGHT TO LIFE SIGHT#authorstowatch #interview



Rev. Dr. Johnson attended Evanston Township High School. From there he went on to study at Illinois Wesleyan University.  His professional education for his Doctor of Optometry degree was completed at the Southern California College of Optometry, now known as Marshall B. Ketchum University.  Rev. Dr. Johnson received his Master’s degree at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. “I plan on leading a crusade against blindness due to age related cataracts. I’m able to do all these things because I serve a great God who does great things and He has allowed me to do great things,” commented Rev. Dr. Johnson. He has set up a foundation known as the Rev. Dr. Leonidas The Optometrist and The Miracle Eyes Foundation. See this web site for more information Due to his work demands - Dr. Johnson lives in both Chicago and Los Angeles.

Visit his website at Books | Christian Faith Publishing | Free Publishing Kit | Christian Faith Publishing and

Author: Rev. Dr. Leonidas A. Johnson
Publisher: Christian Faith Publishing, Inc.
Pages: 116
Genre: Nonfiction


“I’ve spent my life helping people to see, both as a licensed optometrist and also as an ordained minister,” said author Rev. Dr. Leonidas Johnson. “Vision, what is it? I discovered that physical vision is very similar to spiritual vision and the mind is the bridge between the two.”

In Rev. Dr. Johnson’s book, readers will experience a concept called learning by comparison. Comparing physical vision with spiritual vision will help the readers see themselves and the world God created in a whole new light. Readers will see the world God created from a physical, mental, and spiritual vantage point that will enrich their lives, Rev. Dr. Johnson says. These vantage points help build a foundation for developing a decision-making strategy that is both liberating and biblically sound.

Rev. Dr. Johnson went on to say “The title of my book - - Phenomenal Vision: Eyesight To Life Sight - - came after contemplating the impact vision has on one’s life, not just physical but eternal. It leans into the concept of one’s worldview. A proper view of oneself and the world can deeply impact the outcome of one’s life. Jesus said I come that might have life and have it more abundantly. How can you see physical beauty if you are physically blind? Conversely, how can you have an abundant life if you are spiritually blind?  Vision should never be taken for granted and vision that incorporates physical, mental and spiritual vantage points is not ordinary but phenomenal and lead to a phenomenal life.”


I just read Phenomenal Vision Eyesight to Life Sight by Rev. Dr. Leonidas A. Johnson.  It is a delightful book written thoughtfully.  He linked the physical aspects of vision with the metaphysical aspects of vision in a creative way.  I share a common perspective as Rev. Dr. Johnson because I am also an Optometrist and a Christian minister.  He has captured both the physical science of vision and the metaphysical science of vision.  I am confident that there will be "aha moments" for readers who may not have a foot in either area.

This author so wonderfully explained the spiritual nature of vision.  His linking of disorders or disease to both the physical and spiritual makes it easy for the reader to "get it."  His use of graphs, diagrams, pictures, and charts is also very creative.  Often books are "dumbed down" and don’t trust the intellect of the reader.  This book soars in bringing light to something that has often been opaque.  This book is a must-read.  It will be a blessing for those who desire to have a more in-depth understanding of the link between the physical and metaphysical aspects of life.

-- Rev. Dr. Clyde W. Oden, Jr.

The title of this book, Phenomenal Vision: Eyesight to Life Sight, written by Rev. Dr. Leonidas A. Johnson, is one that entices the reader’s curiosity towards further exploration of its content. The author is an Optometrist and an Ordained Minister, therefore, this book is a valuable resource for various professional and religious environments, i.e. universities, colleges, seminaries, along with local churches for both clergy and laity. It is an insightful reference for readers interested in the relationship between eyesight and life sight. In other words, the reader will gain a wealth of knowledge concerning physical, mental and spiritual vision.

Rev. Dr. Johnson presents a thorough explanation regarding the connection between the mind, body, spirit and soul. His approach is holistic as he delves into the medical terminology towards understanding physical vision and creatively references biblical scriptures and stories to engage the reader in components of spiritual vision. Furthermore, Rev. Dr. Johnson has included several graphics, i.e. diagrams, charts and pictures to assist the reader “to see” and comprehend the three major areas emphasized in the text: 1.) inter-relatedness of physical vision, 2.) mental vision cognitive, and 3.) spiritual vision.

It is evident that the author has a passion for the love of God and God’s people as he reveals the depths of his knowledge, research, spirituality and life experiences as an Optometrist and Minister of the Gospel. Rev. Dr. Leonidas Johnson has written a phenomenal book that is a true treasure as each written page is most enlightening!

Rev. Dr. Venus L. Butler

Associate Minister,

Second Baptist Church, Los Angeles


Amazon →

Welcome to My Bookish Pleasures. We would love to get to know you and your book! When did you begin writing?

I started writing the book in early 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was raging out of control. Most communities were in lock down mode as death rates soured. Not only did the death rate climb out of control but so did misinformation surround the novel disease. As an essential worker I continued to work and travel but I could see fear and confusion on the rise wherever I traveled. The old wounds of Racism in America started festering again and was capturing the attention of the whole world in light of the tragic death of George Floyd. The country was experiencing extreme weather patterns, apocalyptic wildfires in California, wild Atlantic hurricanes, massive flooding in China and other lands, a record-breaking Typhon crushing the shores of the Philippines, recording breaking low Arctic sea ice, record breaking global warming temperatures. A great political divide was gripping the nation. I believe so much was happening that many people started feeling more and more confused about life in general. Because of all this confusion and adversity, I saw I felt it would be helpful to write this book and share the information. I felt it would help people live more productive and meaningful lives by helping them see themselves and the world god created more clearly.

Describe your writing process. When and where do you write?

Most of the time I like it quiet when I’m writing. I usually write late at night or very early in the morning before most people rise. Sometimes I like to play Gospel or Contemporary Christian music while I’m writing. Inspirational music inspires me. Sometimes I listen to rthym and blues or smooth jazz when writing.

Can you tell us about your most recent release?

I am a licensed optometrist. I’m also a ordained minister. I’ve spent a lifetime helping people to see. I have discovered some very important things about vision.  First of all, vision is a physical, mental and spiritual phenomena of enlightenment. Secondary, spiritual vision is very similar to physical vision and the mind is the bridge between the two. In my book I explain how physical vision works. I use that knowledge as a template or model to show you how spiritual vision works. I do this by using a process called learning by comparison. By helping you see yourself and the world God created more clearly and in a new light I lead you on the path to a phenomenal life.

How did you get the idea for the book?

This book is a result of a lifetime of study, practice, and experience in the fields of science and religion. In this book you will witness what happens when physics and metaphysics collide. In this book I will help you use optics to see yourself and the world God created more clearly. In this book I will direct you to the intersection that will lead you from mediocracy to a phenomenal life.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?

The most challenging aspect of writing this book was striking the right balance. I did not want the book to read like a science textbook. I used a lot of colorful illustrations when speaking the language of science. I also did not want the book to read like a textbook on the philosophy of religion. I used scripture references, but I used them it in a practical way, as one would do in a sermon. I didn’t want to sound too preachy or too academic when speaking the language of religion. I hope I was able to bridge the gap between science and religion in a way most people will appreciate.

Do you find it easier to write nonfiction?

My preference is to write nonfiction.

Do you have plans to write fiction?

I am considering writing an animation series. I not sure what direction it will take. I believe it will be more educational than fictional.

What projects are you currently working on?

None at this time.

What advice would you off to new or aspiring nonfiction authors?

Follow your heart and passions. Try to be creative. Use your imagination and look for new and innovative ways to share your information. Use lots of visual aids. Vision is very important in the learning process. Visual aids help illustrate the big idea. Visual aids also help summarize. Also, consider all publishing options. Traditional publishing is not the best choice for every book or every author. You may have several future books in you. Some may be self-published; others may be published in a more traditional fashion. Who knows? Just write and follow your heart. After you complete your book project you may decide to sit on it for a while and wait until the time is right to have it published. But don’t wait to do the writing. Start writing now, worry about publishing later. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Book Blast: Lesson from Tales by Eric Wei - Win a $25 Gift Card



Inside the Book:

Title: Lesson From Tales
Author: Eric Wei
Publisher: PartridgeSingapore
Genre: Fiction/General
Format: Ebook

"This is the prefect read for anyone who enjoys short stories,
jokes and creative storytelling imparting everyday life lessons.
...this is not one to be missed, so be sure to grab your copy
- Pacific Book Review

"No matter which lesson resonates with you, you will fi nish this
book with a fresh appreciation for time-honored life lessons."
- The US Review of Books


Stories, including jokes, can provide useful lessons if you look
for them. Here is a compilation of 180 such stories and jokes.

There are stories intended to encourage you. There are
also moral stories extolling certain values. There are also
stories with lessons on motivation, human communications,
perception, pride and the impermanent nature of all things.
You will also learn not to be deceived by appearance, and
the peril of trying to please everybody.

Enjoy the stories. Several of them are hilarious. At the same
time, see what insights you can draw from them.

Purchase Here

Meet the Author:
Eric Wei is an avid reader. He likes books on philosophy, psychology, new thoughts, quotes, wisdom tales and jokes. Besides collecting inspirational wise sayings, Eric Wei loves to compile meaningful short stories and jokes with underlying insights or lessons. This book is the result of such collections over the years. 


Eric is giving away a $25 Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins April 12 and ends on April 23.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on April 24.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Tour Schedule

April 12
April 13
April 14
April 15
April 16
April 19
April 20
April 21
April 22
April 23