Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A House Divided Against Itself

Review by Cindy R. Williams
Today's Book Review is A House Divided Against Itself.

Book Blurb: 

It was often said that during the American Civil War, brothers fought against brothers. Mostly they fought on opposite sides but they didn't see each other at the same battle.

This book tells of a rare exception and follows two brothers, one in the 2nd Virginia, Stonewall Brigade, CSA and the other form the 87th Pennsylvania, USA as they fought against each other in two battles in the Shenandoah Valley during1861-1863.

The story is based on over 90 letters from the participants and other members of their regiments, the regimental records, and official records of the conflict

The story is not new, but it has never been told in this manner, starting from their enlistments, and ending back in their home town. It is about Wesley and William Culp, both originally of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, of their friend, Jack Skelly, and of Jack's girlfriend, Mary Virginia Wade.

It is historical fiction, but it is also mostly true.

Praise for A House Divided Against Itself.

“Period historians who have read about the Culp family and have knowledge of some of Bob O’Connor’s characters will find this book intriguing and exciting. O’Connor shows us how a family’s inner struggle resembled our national conflict in a very readable fashion.”
James C. Price, Historian Laureate Town of Shepherdstown, West Virginia
The official author bio Writers Mirror was given follows:

Bob O’Connor, a native of Illinois who now lives near Harpers Ferry, WV, has been a life-long student of both the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln. As a 7thgrader he attended the Centennial of the Lincoln Douglas debates at Galesburg, Illinois. One year later he portrayed Lincoln in his school play. Today he is the author of six Civil War era books. His subjects are Abraham Lincoln’s bodyguard, John Brown the abolitionist, the U.S. Colored Troops and brothers fighting against brothers.

O’Connor’s books (two non-fiction and four historical fiction) depict real people and real events. His research has uncovered a never before published drawing of the hanging of John Brown and a complete 500 page unpublished manuscript written by Lincoln’s bodyguard. He has made over 500 appearances in 18 states and the District of Columbia in the last six years to talk about his books.

Writers Mirror Review

First off, let me tell you that I am not a Civil War buff. However, people fascinate me, family dynamics are intriguing and this story is chalk full of interesting people making their way in life doing the best that they can. O'Connor does a great job getting into the four main characters heads.  He tells a story of what it was like to live through one of the most difficult times and situations a family could face.  I

It is evident that O'Connor has done his research. This book taught me more about the Civil War than any of my AP Honors American Heritage classes did in three years. O'Connor knows his stuff. He makes history fascinating. Too bad this book isn't recommended reading for students. 
Free Preview available at Amazon                 

A House Divided Against Itself is published by Infinity Publishing.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

The Opium Equation - A Cat Enright Mystery by Lisa Wysocky

Walker Author Tours  (click for more info)
Review by Cindy R. Williams

Before I review The Opium Equation - A Cat Enright Mystery by Lisa Wysocky, let me give you the blurb and some shout outs from the back of the book.

A horse trainer, retired move star, juvenile delinquent, song-writer, eccentric client of a certain age with electric blue hair, and a (possibly) psychic horse lead this Southern equestrian mystery into a fast paced, lightly comic read. Lisa Wysocky is an exciting new voice in mystery fiction.

Praise for The Opium Equation
  • "From the first page to the last, The Opium Equation will keep you engaged and wanting more, horse lover or not."     Glenn the Geek, founder, Horse Radio Network.
  • "Great edge-of-your-seat story! Who's a friend? Who's and enemy? Only the river knows."
Chuck Dauphin, The Dauphin Files
  • "The Opium Equation engaged me at every turn of the page. I highly recommend it as a classic mystery based in a realistic horse world."     Geoff Tucker DVM
  • "As usual, Lisa Wysocky writes with skill and nearly unparalleled knowledge of the equines she dearly loves. Here, she kicks it u a notch in a page-turning mystery that keeps you riveted."   Tess Vanattia, publisher, Horse South
Although I'm named after his favorite horse, Cindy, I don't consider myself an equestrian. There was allot of info about horses, most interesting throughout the book. Many chapters end with a horse tip from Cat, the lead character. Example: 
  • Cat's Horse Tip #3  "Horses hear and smell things that humans physically can't." 
  • Cat's Horse Tip #5  "The safest way to lead a horse through a gate is to push the gate the same direction you are going." 
  • Cat's Horse Tip #13  "A bad attitude is the first sign a horse is sore or hurting."
Good common sense right? Pretty much for horse or human, and life is general. Lots of good insight.

The main character, Cat, is a likable single lady making her way as a horse trainer at her own stables she purchased with a small inheritance.  She has a big heart and the local ten year old riff-raff, Bubba, often finds his way into her neck of the woods. When a murder of a famous Hollywood star upsets business or . . . trotting as usual, mystery and intrigue set in. Soon Bubba is missing, presumed either kidnapped or dead and things continue to spiral with many twists and turns.

Cat is one tough lady, yet a marshmallow inside. Her understanding of horses relates to the world around her. My favorite character is Agnes Temple. She is a kook. She thinks that one of her horses is physic, and by the end of the story, I agree.

The Opium Equation was Honored with a Mom's Choice Awards. Because of this, I was a bit surprised by the sprinkling of cuss words. I know tweens and teens hear foul language at school and become accustomed to it. The taking of the Lord's name in vain is uncomfortable for many.

Lisa Wysocky is an award winning author, editor, clinician, riding instructor, and a horsewoman who helps humans grow through horses. She is also a PAT International instructor who trains horses for therapeutic riding and other equine assisted activities and therapies. Lisa is available for book signings, speaking engagements, and equestrian clinics. For more information see or contact

Monday, June 4, 2012

Shinar 54 by D. Corey Sanders

by Cindy R. Williams

I met Corey Sanders, the author of Shinar 54, at a book signing in Thatcher, AZ this past Spring.  Sitting across from him, I saw a quiet and thoughtful man with a ready smile. Sanders wears many hats. He serves as a Judge and a Stake President. As I asked him about his book, he became animated as he described the Shinar society. Our visit was fascinating. I expected the book to be full of surprises, much like the man. I was not disapointed. Shinar 54 has many story strings, each intertwining and bringing intrigue to the fabric of the book.

Here's the back of the book blurb:
Jona MaCracken is a broken ex-Marine with PTSD and a host of other personal issues. He stumbles upon a website promising relief from all his ills. The only catch is that he must immigrate to Shinar 54, a Utopian city in the Nevada desert to obtain the wonder cure and to meet Lisa, his enchanting recruiter.

Shinar is the enclosed haven for millions of people who have overcome sickness and pain. The outside world believes Shinar is a powerful and dangerous doomsday cult. Shinar prepares its people for the next life with a singularity of purpose that impoverishes the United States and sets the two nations on a collision course. As the political and economic tensions ratchet up, the world spirals down into an epidemic of fear, bigotry, and propaganda. World war is imminent. Jona and Lisa find themselves in the middle of it.

Marco Frano, Jona's friend and confidant is on his own mission to rescue his younger sister,(Keniesha) from certain death. Can he do it through intrigue and alliances?

Set in the not-too-distant future, Shinar 54 is a story of conflict between good and evil, truth and lies, and the clash of opposing values. Ultimately, it is a tale of renewal, redemption and reconciliation.

How to categorize this book? A book review of Shinar 54 on Smashwords labeled it: mystical, fantasy, apocalypse, cult, dystopia, allegorical, truth, utopia, allegory, apocalyptic, end of the world, good vs evil, escape, conservatism, liberalism, moderate, yin yang, political ideology. Like I said, the book is many things.

Shinar 54 is available at and