Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Rise by D.U. Okonkwo (Book Review)

In association with Pump Up Your Book, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Rise by Author D.U. Okonkwo!

Book Review


Rise by D.U. Okonkwo
Publisher: A Few Words Press
Publication Date: January 6, 2015
Format: Paperback - 292 pages
              Kindle - 425 KB
              Nook - 489 KB
ISBN: 978-0993161711 (Paperback) /  978-0993161704 (eBook)
BNID: 2940149915903
Genre:  Literary Fiction

Buy The Book: Rise

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Pump Up Your Book.

Book Description:

The extraordinary story of how a facially-scarred and reclusive sculptress breaks free upon discovering the true source of self-esteem.

Riana “Ria” Ofor is a gifted sculptress whose beautiful creations could draw crowds. But due to the childhood accident that left her facially-scarred, she avoids selling her work publicly, instead scraping a living through online sales. But when a home repossession notice arrives, both her love for sculpting, a well as her home, suddenly come under threat.

Now she is forced to step out of her comfort zone and enter the very public world of gallery showings. When she does land a gallery contract however, she finds herself the target of a rival artist after the very same contract. And with malicious lies, he intends make her regret taking what should have been his. Now, for the first time, Ria must look to find a truth that conquers all lies.

Book Excerpt:


Ria appreciated the beauty of the headless female sculpture standing before her. A sculpture without its head has its own particular beauty. Strong sculpted legs, intricately crafted torso and powerful shoulders; the beauty of creation.

She squatted in front of the sculpture and ran a slender hand over its flanks. The modeling clay she had chosen had done its job; its durability ensuring the legs of the sculpture came out strong and smooth, the hips gently curved. Six weeks into the making, this piece would be larger than any piece she had previously sculpted, and certainly more challenging.

Here in her art studio which spanned the basement of her small house in London’s Bermondsey, clay statues of ancient kings and queens graced the long wooden shelves resting against the studio’s ivory walls. A small sink sat at the far end against the wall beside her large white storage cupboard, and two years ago she had bought a two-seater sofa and tucked it in the far left corner. Her small stereo, which she only put on when sketching, rested on a table beside it.

Time to begin its head, she decided, and her firm full lips curved into a smile of anticipation. Creating the head was her favorite part. If the legs, shoulders and torso possessed their own particular beauty, then how she created the sculpture’s eyes, slanted its mouth, and molded the chin brought out not just beauty, but the sculpture’s personality.

Ria got to her feet. A slim young woman with close cropped tightly curled black hair; she had a delicate oval face with a beautiful dark chocolate complexion that the faded pink burn scars that ran from the apples of her cheekbones to her collarbone couldn’t mar.

She reached for her apron and tied it around the long-sleeved white t-shirt and soft faded blue jeans she’d pulled on that morning. Sculpting was arduous and messy work, but for her, one of the perks of being a full-time sculptress was that she went to work in her most comfortable clothes.

She moved to where the armature waited atop the worktable. Shaped like an egg, an armature’s rigid metal framework ensured effective structuring of a sculpture’s head.

Collecting an armful of old newspapers from the white storage cupboard in the corner she rolled them into balls then began to fill the armature with them. Once thoroughly packed she secured it in place with a small plastic bag. Next the clay. She took a moment to relish the solid yet light weight in her hand. Then, detail by detail, piece by piece, she began adding more and more clay to the stuffed plastic bag, melding and smoothing it against the bag’s slippery surface. She hummed as she worked; following the measurements she had set out when the idea had first flown into her mind. Her deft and skilful fingers, armed with her trusted sculpting chisel, manipulated the clay.

The sharp slap of the letterbox upstairs stopped her. She stretched her arms high over her head, working out the stiffness in her shoulders caused from bending over the armature. After cleaning her hands she left the studio, heading up the pink carpeted stairs to the ground floor.

She plucked the white envelope lying on the doormat. June sunlight shone through the glass panel in the front door, and the click of women’s heels sounded on the pavement outside as they made their way to work. Once the morning rush was over and it was quiet outside she’d go for her daily morning walk and think over the next steps to completing the sculpture.

Breaking the seal of the envelope, she pulled out the letter.

Dear Ms. Ofor,

Account No: 17032007-55GM    Property: 55 Garden Mews

Please be informed that payment due on the above-referenced account has not been met.

We have made several unsuccessful attempts to contact you.

Our records show that your account is in arrears of £11,509.

Please make arrangements to clear the outstanding amount within 28 days or the case will be escalated to our solicitors, whereupon they may be forced to take legal action, resulting in the repossession of the property.

If you have since made arrangements to clear the aforementioned amount, please ignore this letter.

Ria’s stomach dropped somewhere below ground level, and the noose of the repossession notice, the one she had tried to loosen over the last six months, only tightened further around her neck, almost choking her.

She had failed.

The knowledge brought a bitter and sour taste to her mouth, salty tears to her cheeks. She had tried everything to sell her art; special offers, first buyer discounts. Everything except what you really should, she acknowledged silently, and squeezed her eyes shut. The scars have faded, she reminded herself. They’re not as disfiguring as they once were. No one will stare if you go out; no one will point or grimace. 

Face damp with tears she’d been unable to keep at bay, she looked around desperately. Her heart pounded. How would she sculpt? Where would she sculpt?

She groped her way back down to the studio, went to the storage cupboard, and then pulled out the lowest drawer. The pile of threatening letters she had received over the last nine months stared up at her like hungry wolves. A shudder raked through her.

She needed to be strong and think, she told herself. Wiping her eyes she moved to the teak filing cabinet beside the storage cupboard and placed the letter atop it, then on a deep breath then opened the bottom drawer. Art magazines and industry journals were stacked neatly inside. Please, she begged silently as she rifled through the drawer. Please still be here.

Her trembling fingers hit a cool glossy cover. Sculpting Magazine – last month’s issue. She held it to her chest for a moment, closed her eyes and attempted to steady her racing heart. Then, opening it, she flipped through page after page until she found what she was looking for: the monthly snapshot of an art agent. This issue profiled Meg Fuller, president of a boutique art agency called The Art Room. As an art agent, Meg Fuller placed artists with art galleries throughout London.

Only in Ria’s most private moments did she allow herself to imagine what it would be like to be a commercially successful artist. Then she thought of people’s stares, comments, the rejection, and she shrank into herself.

Now she looked up at the portrait of her deceased Uncle Jonas that took pride of place on the wall. After she had graduated from Rayners Art Academy six years ago he had helped arrange the financing on the flat. Located in Island Gardens, the Docklands area of East London, she had loved the small compact house on first sight.

“You helped me buy this place,” she whispered to his smiling face, still holding the art magazine. “You encouraged my love of art. You started me on this journey.”

He had introduced her to art at age ten. A successful surgeon, he had children of his own, and had therefore spent a lot of time with her and her older brother Dominic One afternoon, he had taken her and her and her brother Dominic to visit the Canbury art gallery in central London. Stepping into that gallery had been like stepping into a warm, enveloping cloud. Light poured in from the huge wall-to-wall windows, paintings graced the white walls, and eclectic sculptures stood atop tall pedestals. Uncle Jonas spoke with the other gallery visitors about the displays, all of them speaking in awed whispers and hushed tones as they studied the different artwork. Dom had been bored though. Ria smiled at the memory of him impatiently hopping from one foot to the other; desperate to leave and see the car exhibition that Uncle Jonas had promised him they’d visit afterwards.

She had not been bored, but enthralled. Uncle Jonas had asked a member of the gallery staff to answer her questions and for the next half an hour she had learned about the process of bronze sculpting. After that day she had focused more attention on her art class at school and throughout college. Her father had been dismissive of it from the start. His blunt ‘Most artists can’t afford to feed themselves,’ had only added strain to their already fractured relationship.

And now, standing in her studio years later, her father’s words now kept going around her mind. But he was wrong, she decided. And she could prove him wrong. She looked across the room at her sculpture, then at the many other smaller pieces resting on the studio shelves on the walls. “I can fix this.” Her eyes narrowed on the sculpture again. “I have to.” With her free hand she pulled her phone from her handbag beside the worktable and looked down at the art agency’s number again, and then dialed it.

A young woman answered on the second ring. “Good morning, The Art Room; Layla speaking.” 

“Hello.” Be confident, Ria ordered herself, and sought to make her usual low calm voice strident. “Can I speak to Meg Fuller please?”

“Who can I say is calling?”

Ria drew a fortifying breath. “Ria Ofor.”

“Just a second.”

A moment later a different female voice spoke. “Ria Ofor?”

This was it. Throat tight with both fear and anxiety, Ria swallowed and then answered. “Yes.”

“This is Meg Fuller. I recognize your name, Ria.” The agent’s warm and enthusiastic voice eased Ria’s nerves a little. “I’ve seen several of your pieces on The Platform website but have never been able to find contact details for you. Are you calling for possible representation?”

“Yes I–” Ria had to blink back the image of the bank letter that threatened to shadow her vision. “Yes.” She cleared her throat and aimed to speak more firmly in an effort to exude confidence. “I’ve been working on a new piece for several weeks. I think it may be of commercial interest.” “I see. You have an up-to-date portfolio?”

“I do yes.”

“Good. Why don’t we set a date for you to come and meet me tomorrow afternoon? We’re in Covent Garden.”

Alarm speared through Ria. “M-meet? You mean…face-to-face?”

“That’s right.”

Ria’s hand grew clammy on the phone. “Can we…can we perhaps negotiate something over the phone…I mean instead of meeting? Maybe…maybe I can email you photos of some of my pieces?”  Please say yes.

“I’m afraid not. I always meet any new potential client face-to-face.”

Ria squeezed her eyes shut briefly.  How could she reveal her reasons for not wanting to meet face-to-face? She lifted her hand to her face, but caught herself at the last second and clenched her hands into fists.

Over eleven thousand pounds needed to be paid. She had to do what was necessary. She hoped that for once the chips fell in her favor. She drew a deep breath. "I'll be there, Meg."  

Covent Garden was the heart of London’s tourist district. Its cobbled streets attested to it being one of the oldest places in the city, and its bustling market, lively street performers and boutique designer shops drew both tourists and Londoners alike. It had been years since she had been here, Ria mused as she exited its tube station. A row of rickshaws lined the pavement just outside. Some riders bargained with enchanted tourists over hire rates while others sat back to take a rest between rides. Taking a right outside of the station Ria headed towards the main square. This place still possessed so much energy and vibrancy, she admitted. She wouldn’t admit she had missed both.

“My balloon!”  a young boy suddenly squealed. A royal blue balloon flew over Ria's head. “Mum, catch it quick.”

Startled into glancing up, Ria saw the bright blue balloon in question. She jumped up, catching its long, red string in her grasp. She held it out to the little boy.

“Thank the kind young lady, Jimmy,” his mother prompted.

Brushing his ginger fringe aside, Jimmy stared up at Ria, his large brown eyes wide. “What are those things on your face?” he asked instead.

Ria froze.

“Jimmy!” Grasping his free arm, Jimmy’s mother sent Ria a beseeching look of apology as she took the balloon from her. “Come on, Jimmy.”

Ria stood rooted in place, her body completely immobile like one of her own sculptures. Only when someone accidently bump into her did she realize she had been standing there for some time. Jimmy and his mother had long gone.

Heart pounding, she ran the back of her hand down her right cheek, over the rough texture of unforgiving burn scars. Letting her hand drop, she forced her fingers to relax. All thoughts of her impending meeting with Meg wiped clear from her mind, she spun on her heel and headed towards the tube station, thinking only of home.                  

Meg Fuller ran impatient fingers through shoulder-length black hair. She rose from her desk and walked out into the main reception area of The Art Room, her emerald eyes narrowing.

At the reception desk her summer intern, Layla Banes, glanced up. “Still nothing?”

“Not a dickey bird, and I’ve already left a message.” Annoyed, Meg grimaced. “I'll try her one more time.” Then she had cut her losses. Ria Ofor looked to be a special talent, Meg had seen that for herself while browsing The Platform website several months ago. But she liked artists who knew the importance of communication.

“I’d better head off or I’ll be late for the dentist.” Layla grimaced. “Wish me luck.”

“Always. See you in a couple of days.” Returning to her office, Meg picked up her phone and dialed Ria’s number for the second time. Six rings came and went before Ria answered.


“Ria, this is Meg Fuller from The Art Room.”

On the other end of the phone Meg heard Ria’s shocked gasp. “Meg…hi.”

“Where are you?”

A pause before Ria whispered back. “At home.”

Meg waited a beat. Well, don’t rush to apologize for standing me up will you? she thought with annoyance. “We were scheduled to meet today at twelve-thirty.”

A sniffle came through the line. “Meg. Oh. I - I’m so sorry for - I couldn’t make it.”

Meg’s brows drew together. Ria sounded like she had been crying. “Are you okay?”

Another sniffle. “Yes I – yes of course. I’m fine.”

Sure you are, Meg thought with concern, and hesitated before asking, “Do you still want to meet?”

My Book Review:

Rise by author D.U. Okonkwo is an inspirational story that follows the journey of a facially scarred and reclusive sculptress as she is forced to come out of her comfort zone and the isolated world that she has been living, and learn to accept and embrace her true self and the world around her.

Ria Ofor suffered facial scars from a childhood accident that caused her to live a reclusive lifestyle away from the public eye. As a gifted sculptress, Ria just barely scrapes by selling her creations online, but her isolated life is turned upside down when she receives a home repossession notice, and she is forced out of her comfort zone and into the public eye. Ria embarks on an emotional journey where she will discover that she can accept her self-image, and conquer the fears that she has lived with for so long.

Rise is a wonderful story that easily draws the reader into Ria's story. You can't help but feel compassion and empathy for Ria as she struggles with her self-image, one that has left her traumatized and isolated from the world.

Author D.U. Okonkwo weaves a thoughtful story that engages the reader to ponder how they would feel if they were in Ria's shoes. As Ria embarks on her personal journey of self-discovery, you can't help but cheer her on as she learns to accept her true inner self, begins to heal and transform into a confident woman, and finally embraces the world around her.


About The Author

          D.U. Okonkwo  

Born and raised in London, D.U. Okonkwo writes commercial literary fiction. She graduated from the University of Salford with a BSc in Business with Spanish which included an ERASMUS exchange living in Salamanca, Spain. RISE is her first novel.

To learn more about D. U. Okonkwo, visit her website at:  She is also on Twitter @duosays, and keeps a blog at

Connect with D.U.:

Virtual Book Tour

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One Last Hurrah by Mark & Brenda Smith (Book Blast Event / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Pump Up Your Book, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book blast event for One Last Hurrah by Mark & Brenda Smith!

One Last Hurrah

About The Book

One Last Hurrah

One Last Hurrah ... Making Peace and a Difference by Mark & Brenda Smith
Publisher: MicroPress Books
Publication Date: September 21, 2014
Format: Paperback - 107 pages
             Kindle - 715 KB
ISBN: 978-0578150604
Genre: Inspirational / Christian / Self-Help  

BUY THE BOOK: One Last Hurrah

Book Description:

One Last Hurrah”  allows the reader to experience a story of inspiration,  inject their own experiences, unlike other books, so that the reader documents their own  life story.

This is, not only, a book about a former professional  wrestler overcoming loss, but his journey in finding  purpose and peace.   

The book, “One Last Hurrah” ,  documents medical miracles, overcoming  abuse and experiences with drug addiction. Mark and Brenda , both, come from broken homes  and have found their calling in life working with youth/children for over 15 years.

Having come from divorce, Mark and Brenda had to decide if they were going to break the family cycles of abuse.   They dedicated themselves to helping abused and abandoned children.  They have been foster parents for several years  and  open their home to students who have no where to go.  For them to understand their purpose, they had to go through a lot of trials.   Mark has suffered mini strokes and multiple concussions from a career in professional wrestling.  He had to make peace with the father  that instilled a childhood of fear.   Brenda witnessed Mark and his brother burying their father with shovels  and the nightmares Mark would endure.   Later, Mark and  several of his friends would develop equipment and would be taken to Capitol Hill.  He found himself  working with military leaders from all over the world.   When Mark wanted to give up on living, doors opened!

Book Excerpt: 

Chapter One:  The Lowest Point in My Life

I walked into our apartment and called out her name.  There was no answer.  I began the search; I found her in our bed, face down.  I knelt on the bed and gently turned her over on her back.  I called her name again, and this time she began what I couldn’t decipher was laughing or crying. Whatever it was, it scared the living heck out of me.

Had I driven her over the edge?  I accept total responsibility for whatever was happening to her.  I know that I was no good for anyone.   She would not respond to me; so I went to the other room and sat on the couch and cried.  What have I done to her? Whatever was going on with her, I know I was the cause of it.

As I sat there and cried, she came walking into the room and calmly said, “We’re finished.”  I looked up at her, staring blankly at this woman whom I loved (but apparently not in the way she needed to be loved).  I felt like a loser, not something that a professional wrestler ever wanted to feel.  I slowly got up and walked to the door.  I looked back at her, lowered my head, and walked out the door.

I went for a drive to try to absorb what she had just said.  Her words kept ringing in my head.  “We are finished.”  I can’t say that I don’t understand.  I do.  Our world was ridden with booze, drugs, verbal and mental abuse.  I couldn’t think straight.  

About The Authors

Mark & Brenda Smith
Mark & Brenda Smith

God has rebuilt Mark's life with his wife, Brenda, of 22 years.  Having never thought he was worthy of being a father, Mark and Brenda have been blessed with three wonderful kids. Mark was diagnosed to lose his ability to walk by age 18.  He not only beat the odds, but was invited to Spring Training with several Major League clubs and ended up traveling the U.S. working for Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling.

Brenda has been a Children's Minister for almost 15 years and also loves to lead Women's Bible studies.  She has also been a worship leader for Women's Ministry Events.  She enjoys singing Contemporary and Southern Gospel music.

Mark, Brenda and their children make their home in Fayetteville, TN

Visit Mark & Brenda online at 

Contact Mark & Brenda at:

Contest Giveaway      

Pump Up Your Book and Authors Mark & Brenda Smith are teaming up to give away a $25 Amazon 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 the prize.
  • This giveaway begins November 28 and ends on January 30, 2015.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on February 1, 2015.
  • Winner has 72 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Blast Event

One Last Hurrah

The Angels without Wings Series by Chris Smith (Book Blast Event / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Pump Up Your Book, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book blast event for The Angels without Wings Series by Author Chris Smith!

Angels Without Wings Series Banner

About The Series

AWOW Series Twitter Pic
AWOW Series - Website Banner

AWOW Series - Scepter of Faith - Book 1

Title:  Angels without Wings: Scepter of Faith
Series: The Angels without Wings Series - Book 1
Author: Chris Smith
Genre: YA Christian Fantasy
Publisher: Tate Publishing
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
ISBN: 978-1622956319

For God, we fight; all angels have heard the command. Troy Decker has heard it from his parents countless times. All he wants in life is a chance to prove himself and be granted his scepter - the first gift angels receive from God in their war against Lucifer. Standing in his way is fallen angel Kyle Downey, who used to be best friends with Troy’s parents but is now on a quest to destroy all that is good in the world.

Will Troy ever earn the scepter that God has prepared for him? And what happened between Kyle and Troy’s parents? As the War for Sins rises to heights not seen in generations, Troy must find the strength to hold his faith when demons target his friends and family. In this war, there is only one winner. Will the world fall to demons or be saved by angels?

Book Excerpt: 

Chapter 1, Page 1:

Not for the first time in his life, Troy Decker woke from a dream of howling demons. He paused for a moment and reflected on the scene, wishing for what had to be the thousandth time that the dream had been real. He’d prayed for the chance to go on a demon hunt with his dad so many times he’d lost count. He closed his eyes and saw the black claws slashing toward him and heard the fangs snapping at his legs. He could almost feel a sword in his hands, ready to strike the monsters down.

Hunting demons was what he’d been born to do. Most of his prayers to God included a begging request for the chance to stand before the beasts of hell and send them screaming back to the darkness. But as it was, he rubbed sleep from his eyes on the morning of May the 1st knowing he wouldn’t have the opportunity anytime soon. He’d heard so many stories from his parents about the adventures they’d had with his Grandpa John almost twenty years before, but for Troy, only his normal, dreary life lay before him, as usual.

From the look of the sun streaming through the blinds of his bedroom window, it was going to be a glorious day—or should have been, except that it happened to be Troy’s fourteenth birthday. He rolled onto his side and brought his empty hands in front of his face. Only the disappointing emptiness of his skinny fingers and creased palms was present. He closed his hands with one more wish (added to the tally of millions of prayers) that a sword or some other cool weapon was there instead. The lowest of sighs brushed from his lips before he could stop its escape.

“Good morning Troy,” his mom called as she swung open his bedroom door. “Happy Birthday! Fourteen years old… you’ll be driving before you know it.” Her smile welcomed him into the new day better than any ray of sunshine could ever hope to do. “I’m pretty sure you grew an inch last night,” she continued when Troy rolled out of bed to throw on his Nike t-shirt.

Purchase Book:

AWOW Series - The Path To Sacrifice - Book 2

Title:  Angels without Wings: The Path to Sacrifice
Series: The Angels without Wings Series - Book 2
Author: Chris Smith
Genre: YA Christian Fantasy
Publisher: Tate Publishing
Publication Date: August 4, 2013
ISBN: 978-1491022399

For Troy Decker, the world of angels has always been a familiar mystery. Robes, halos, and wings have filled his dreams since he was old enough to crawl. But it wasn’t until the last year that he truly felt like he was one of God’s chosen angels.

He’d thought only a miracle would allow him to receive his scepter. And he was one hundred percent correct. When God granted Troy his scepter, he never dreamed it would be for saving ones of his closest friends. But with many things in his angel life, Troy had to sit back and trust in his faith. Not only in God, but in himself and his family and friends.

Unfortunately, peace rarely finds Troy. With his first gift from God in hand, he must concentrate on the second gift; the robes of an angel - granted for an act of sacrifice. Hindering his progress is a former friend of his parents, Kyle Downey. Kyle is the leader of a group of fallen angels and his sinister plans for Troy bring howling demons and monsters stampeding into the War for Sins.

Can Troy follow the path God has set in front of him? How will he know what to sacrifice to receive the precious gift? And why, more than anything else in the world, does Kyle Downey want Troy to fall?

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1, page 1:

For the first time in his life, Troy Decker was on a demon hunt with his dad. Not that it looked to be particularly exciting or dangerous, but it was better than mowing the yard or picking up his room. All they were doing at the moment was staring at an abandoned warehouse near a neighborhood of small, shabby houses on the southwest side of Oklahoma City.

Troy had been shook awake on the fine spring morning to his dad hovering over his bed with a look of confused determination on his almost always calm face. The normal, perfectly straight part, on the right side, split his brown hair. Barely a sparkle of the yet risen sun filtered through the blinds of Troy’s bedroom.

“Get ready,” his dad had whispered. “You’re coming with me today. Don’t wake up your mom. Bring your dagger. You may need it.”

“It’s Saturday,” Troy had responded as he swiped sleep residue from his eyes and stifled a yawn while he pulled the small sheath, which held a dagger sharp enough to slice paper without trying, from under his pillow. “Where are we going?”

“Have a job to do,” his dad had given as a cryptic response.

So Troy had rolled out of bed, wolfed down an energy bar, offered by his dad, and shot out the door. Not until they were five minutes down the road did he find out where they were headed.

“Nylla?” Troy scrunched his face. “How big of an infestation is it?”

“Big enough to warrant our attention,” his dad had answered never taking his piercing eyes off the road. “We’ve been noticing some activity in the area for the past month. Demon numbers have been increasing all over the place.”

Purchase Book:

AWOW Series - Love's Sweet Sword - Book 3

Title:  Angels without Wings: Love's Sweet Sword
Series: The Angels without Wings Series - Book 3
Author: Chris Smith
Genre: YA Christian Fantasy
Publisher: Tate Publishing
Publication Date: February 21, 2014
ISBN: 978-1494324575

A ghostly smile haunts Troy Decker’s dreams. A smile of love and sacrifice. A smile that brings heart wrenching waves of guilt. For God, we fight. Troy has long heard the ancient command to God’s angels. His parents have whispered it in his ears with each step. But the last five months have taken a toll on his faith. The War for Sins has raged from one bloody battle to another at the hands of fallen angel, Kyle Downey. Angels have been killed and hordes of demons torn from the depths of hell.

With the help of his friends, Troy struggles to fight the nightmares of the past. Lurking behind a wall of agonizing blame, his dad stresses the importance of the gifts granted to angels by God. Troy has his scepter and robes, but an act of love stands in the way of his sword – the third gift. His eyes often land on his friend, Angela. On her blonde hair and pink angel marks. On the way her smile leaves him breathless with delight. Each heartbeat brings a vision of drawing her slowly into his arms and softly kissing her lips.

Can Troy put the past behind him? What will he need to prove to God in order to be granted his sword? Or will Kyle Downey ravage the world and bring an end to the War for Sins?

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1, Page 1:

For the first time in his life, Troy Decker was on a demon hunt alone. He’d walked and jogged over four hours to find the street where he was standing. Dark houses lined the neighborhood with only a few overhead lights sparking any hope in the gloom. Troy pressed with the Spirit and approached his target with a determined grin on his narrow face.

It was the eve of his sixteenth birthday, but the normal time of celebration for most teenagers was only another shadowy day to Troy. The last five months had been the worst of his life. Demons filled his dreams whether he was awake or asleep. Howling and cursing, the monsters ate tiny chunks of his soul with each
passing minute. Troy shook his head as the memory of the lion-like beast threatened to creep into his thoughts and send a quiver of pain shooting through his chest.

Quickly, he reached into the pocket of his Nike athletic shorts and withdrew the picture he always had stored somewhere close.

On it was a chubby, white haired baby with a giant toothless grin. Holding the laughing boy was the prettiest woman in the history of the planet.

Dirty blonde hair hung past her shoulders and fell perfectly across her thin back. A pointy chin was nuzzling the baby’s cheek, but everything paled in comparison to the smile.

The love of the Lord thrived in the lifting of her mouth.

Troy swallowed an unbidden sob as he peered at his mom. She’d been dead now for over five months. Killed by the poison of a sinna demon’s barb. And it was his fault. Every time he looked at his dad, that fact screamed into his face with thundering certainty.

Purchase Book:

AWOW Series - Hunting Halos - Book 4

Title:  Angels without Wings: Hunting Halos
Series: The Angels without Wings Series - Book 4
Author: Chris Smith
Genre: YA Christian Fantasy
Publisher: Tate Publishing
Publication Date: October 2, 2014
ISBN: 978-1500750237

The past lingers on Troy Decker’s every thought. Losses have piled into the shadows at his heels. The War for Sins has taken a devastating toll on his life. And now, Lucifer has his eyes set on Troy’s very soul. With his chief fallen angel, Kyle Downey, spreading violence and discord around the globe, Lucifer has set plans in motion to end the War and bring a reign of terror upon the Earth.

For Troy, that means he must rush to receive his final two gifts from God. Gifts that will make him a fully-fledged angel and give him the power to resist Lucifer and all his demons. The granting of his fourth gift – a halo – looms as he struggles to stay one step ahead of Kyle and his Dark Hearts. A simple act of redemption stands in Troy’s way for this blessed sign of an angel. In a race against time, Troy must find the correct path to follow, not only in the eyes of his loved ones, but also for himself… or risk losing everything he knows and loves.

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1, Page 1:

For the first time in his life, Troy Decker was hunting a human. Or a man who appeared to be human, at least. He’d been dogging the man’s trail on and off for two weeks. Watching and waiting while reading all the news on the mid-term Senate race in northern California.

Mrs. Chelsie Elliott was the front running Democrat in the Senate race, but her aide and assistant was Troy’s true target. The man was tall and thick. Broad shoulders stretched the expensive three piece suit flashing in the California sunlight. A blood red tie tucked crisply behind the shiny buttons. Neatly cropped hair was parted on the left. Soft grey eyes smiled warmly wherever he happened to look. But a menace resided under the glitzy exterior.

“We can’t do this alone,” Mrs. Elliott chanted into a microphone behind a wooden podium. “Each of us has a responsibility to turn this country in the right direction. And I’m here to make sure we steer this great ship back on the correct path.”

Troy shook his head as a gust of hot wind brushed across his face. He was mixed with a crowd of eager voters, but without trying he picked out several staged crew members of the candidate who had been placed to start the cheers and rousing ovations at the right spots of her speech.

For twenty minutes, Mrs. Elliott blared from one wrong doing of her opponent to the next – never actually discussing any plans to truly help her future constituents’ lives. Troy lingered at the edges of the crowd after she finished and kept his eyes on the man who was constantly scribbling notes to hand to the soon-to-be State Senator.

As Troy walked to the rented car, a half a block down the street of the small town he’d driven to that morning, his scepter glowed to life in a peaceful hum against his chest. The foot and a half long golden rod had been gifted to him by the very hand of God nearly three years ago. The memory made a smile lift instantly.

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About The Author

Chris Smith

Chris Smith ignited his love of stories on his sixteenth birthday when his parents gave him a leather bound copy of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Every year since, he has picked up the book and fallen into the world of hobbits, wizards, warriors, and orcs. To him, it’s a birthday present that will continue to be given each and every year for the rest of his life.

He began writing at the age of nineteen as a way to purge his mind of cascading plots and reveal the untold stories of characters who follow him around in his day-to-day life. To date, he has written fifteen novels falling mostly into the young adult, fantasy genre; but he has delved into suspense, crime drama, and post-apocalyptic categories as well.

Currently, Chris is in the middle of writing the Angels without Wings series. The books are young adult fantasy with Christian themes of faith, sacrifice, love, redemption, and forgiveness. Being the father of three young boys is the most important aspect of his life. Worlds of fun and adventure revolve constantly under the roof of their home in Mustang, Oklahoma.

Contact Chris at:

Contest Giveaway

Pump Up Your Book and Author Chris Smith are teaming up to give away a $25 Amazon 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 the prize.
  • This giveaway begins December 3 and ends on January 30, 2015.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on February 1, 2015.
  • Winner has 72 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Under Texas Blue Skies by Debra Holt (Book Blast Event / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Goddess Fish Promotions, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book blast event for Under Texas Blue Skies by Author Debra Holt!

Book Review

Under Texas Blue Skies by Debra Holt
Publisher: Astraea Press Publishing
Publication Date: July 28, 2014
Format: eBook - 166 pages
             Kindle - 434 KB
             Nook - 428 KB
ISBN: 978-1621353164
BNID: 2940149635047
Genre: Contemporary Romance

BUY THE BOOK: Under Texas Blue Skies

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book blast event hosted by Goddess Fish Promotions.

Book Description:

J.D. Sterling, the sexy star of country music, had come back home to McKenna Springs, Texas. Years before, he had left to chase his dream and had succeeded. His life was almost perfect. Almost. He was still missing the part of his heart he had left behind…Mandy Lawson.

Amanda Lawson had changed from the young, innocent Mandy…the teenager madly in love with the bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Heartbreak and tragedy would do that to a person. She was determined to keep her well-ordered, work-driven life on the successful path she had fought to achieve on her own. No singing cowboy with a devil’s smile in his green eyes and a sexy body in tight jeans was going to be allowed close enough to break her heart again.

Book Excerpt:

“I have other business in town also,” Amanda spoke up. “I don’t know why I was called out here but…”

“Because I want you.” Those jade green eyes pinned her to her spot. J.D.’s choice of words knocked the air out of Amanda’s lungs for a moment. Did he think that he could turn that look on her, along with that famous half-grin that sent deep grooves down his cheeks and made fingers itch to touch them and females swoon at his feet? He was still the lying, no good cowboy who had played her for a fool and then left her behind when the bright lights beckoned. He wanted her? Well, he'd had her once, but never again.

Cold blue eyes pinned him. “People don’t always get what they want, J.D. But sometimes they do get what they deserve.”

When Mandy stood looking at him with those blue eyes, where once there had been the warmth of love glowing in them for him, there was now a cool curtain, devoid of anything but a banked anger mixed with a dash of indifference. For some reason, he felt he had been judged and found lacking in her estimation. He definitely had to regroup. There was another battle ahead, and he had fought many in his lifetime and won each of them. This would be the most important one. Losing was not an option.

My Book Review:

When J.D. Sterling left his central Texas hometown of McKenna Springs to chase his dream of becoming a country music star, that wasn't all he left behind. He left a part of his heart with Mandy Lawson, a sweet young girl who he left brokenhearted. Now a successful country music star, J.D. comes back to his hometown, and wants to rekindle the love he once shared with Mandy, but she now goes by Amanda, a strong independent woman who isn't going to let the sexy cowboy singer break her heart again. Can J.D. and Amanda let go of the past and rekindle their love Under Texas Blue Skies?

Every now and then I come across a delightful contemporary romance story with a country theme that just makes me smile and believe in true love, and that story is Under Texas Blue Skies! Author Debra Holt weaves a sassy fun romantic tale that transports the reader to central Texas as they follow J.D. and Amanda's love story. What's not to love when you have a country music star who also happens to also be a sexy Texas cowboy; and a strong, independent, and determined woman who knows what she wants?!

I really enjoyed reading this wonderful romance story about true love and heartbreak, and how two people can let go of the past in order to rekindle their undeniable love for each other. You can't help but get drawn into J.D. and Amanda's story, it's got a great mixture of country sweetness, sass, and humor that will keep you turning the pages to see if they will get a second chance at love.

With a realistic cast of characters who will melt your heart; engaging dialogue and dramatic interactions; and a richly descriptive setting of central Texas; Under Texas Blue Skies is a fast paced good old fashioned love story that will put a smile on your face and leave you wanting more!


About The Author

Born and raised in the Lone Star state of Texas, Debra Holt grew up among horses, cowboys, wide open spaces, and real Texas Rangers. Pride in her state and ancestry knows no bounds and it is these heroes and heroines she loves to write about the most. She also draws upon a variety of life experiences including working with abused children, caring for baby animals at a major zoo, and owning a wedding planning business (ah, romance!).

Debra’s real pride and joys, however, are her son, an aspiring film actor, and a daughter with aspirations to join the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (more story ideas!) When she isn’t busy writing about tall Texans and feisty heroines, she can be found cheering on her Texas Tech Red Raiders, or heading off on another cruise adventure. She read her first romance...Janet Dailey's Fiesta San Antonio, over thirty years ago and became hooked on the genre. Writing contemporary western romances, is both her passion and dream come true, and she hopes her books will bring smiles...and sighs... to all who believe in happily-ever-after’s.

The Seymour Agency represents Debra and she is soon to have two contemporary romances published by Spencer Hill/Tulip Romance and Astraea Press. Debra invites you to visit her website at She loves to hear from other aspiring authors or readers via email at


Contest Giveaway

Win A $10 Amazon or B&N Gift Card

Author Debra Holt will be awarding a $10 Amazon/Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning.

The tour dates can be found here:

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Virtual Book Blast Event