Articles for the Month of November 2014

A Christmas Dozen: heartwarming stories from Steve Burt – The Christmas Story Pastor

51SQd4+9+9L__AA160_What a wonderful selection of stories!

The author, Rev. Dr. Steve Burt is a Congregational minister who is also known as The Christmas Story Pastor.  All I can say is that I wish I lived near to him so that I could hear him tell these stories in person.

But these are not just stories, this wonderful selection uses modern day parables to bring alive the true meaning of Christmas.

What can I say is, if you love Christmas, get out your hankies and immerse yourself in the true meaning of Christmas by reading this beautiful selection of heart-warming stories.

This book also has an audiobook version and I have listened to it. All I can say is that his voice is warm and he pronounces every word so very clearly, that it is so special that when you close your eyes it seems as if he is sitting next to you.

About the Author: STEVE BURT first appeared on readers’ radar in 2003 when his unknown collection, Even Odder, became a surprise Nominee/finalist for the coveted Bram Stoker Award, horror’s top prize, in the Young Readers category (in a field of five that included Neil Gaiman and J.K. Rowling, who eventually won for Harry Potter). The next year (2004) Steve had another finalist with Oddest Yet (in a field of four that included Clive Barker and Dean Koontz)–which resulted in an unprecedented tie between Steve Burt and Clive Barker, giving each of them a Stoker. Other collections in the Stories to Chill the Heart Series included Odd Lot (2001 Benjamin Franklin Award) and Wicked Odd (2005 Ippie Award finalist). All four are available in print and ebook.

Steve’s FreeKs series of crossover novels (psychic teen characters, adult reading level) recently won 21 international awards including the London, Paris, NY, New England, Hollywood, and San Francisco Book Festival Awards, the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, the Halloween Book Festival and 3 Beach Book Festival Awards, plus 4 Mom’s Choice golds. FreeK Camp, FreeK Show, and FreeK Week are available in print, ebook, and this fall in audio.

In August 2014 thirteen of Steve’s most popular radio-read-aloud stories from the Chill the Heart series were released as Wicked Strange (print, ebook, and in October as an audio book).

Another 13 were excerpted for Horrors! Ghost Stories and Weird Tales to Help Kids Write, Learn, and Write Their Own Stuff. With input from middle-school teacher and editor Jolyn Joslin, the storybook/textbook included discussion questions and writing prompts, with answers in the back. Available in print, ebook, and in late October in audio book.

A retired pastor and seminary professor, the Rev. Dr. Burt formerly wrote church leadership and inspirational books and contributed to Family Circle magazine and the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. His bestseller, A Christmas Dozen: Christmas Stories to Warm the Heart won numerous awards and is available in print, ebook, and audio book. Unk’s Fiddle: Stories to Warm the Heart is now out-of-print; its title story “Unk’s Fiddle” won a Ray Bradbury Creative Writing Prize (one of three the author received).

In 2009 Connecticut Magazine profiled him as “The Sinister Minister,” acknowledging the importance of his contribution to teen and Y.A. dark fiction. He now lives and writes in Florida and offers school author visits nationwide via Skype. His Facebook pages are FreeKs and Christmas Story Pastor, his Twitter handle is wrytuh, and his website (with blog page and calendar) is

A Christmas Dozen is available from Amazon in Kindle format here

And from Audible as an audiobook here



An Apartment in Paris by Caroline Blane

51-6h+rW9hL__AA160_What a gem!


Whether you have ever dreamed of owning a little pied-a-terre, are actually seriously considering it, or just love books about France and being the fly on the wall of other peoples adventures, this book cannot fail to entertain and inform you!

When college professors Caroline and her husband Andrew decide to take a six month sabbatical from their work at a university in America and buy an apartment in Paris, not only do they have themselves to think about, but also settling their five year old son Adrian into school.

Renting an apartment they settle their young son in, and with the resilience of youth, he embraces his new life and settles into his school well, and then the hunt for the perfect apartment begins.

I am an English expat living in France, and have been to Paris quite a few times, however, living within commuting distance of the capital, whilst reading this, I just wanted to get into the car and explore the famous, and more hidden treasures this beautiful city has to offer some more. Engrossed in the book I can imagine sitting in the little café’s dotted throughout the city, and find myself practically smelling the delicious coffee served within. The wonderful food and culture of France is so well described that I found myself dying to try the delicious dishes, gateaux and cheeses which are so beautifully described by the author.  

However, whilst soaking in the atmosphere and discovering, or in the case of myself rekindling my love of this wonderful city, I found myself absorbing the enormous amount of practical information and phrases which have been included in this book. For those who need it, there is also a very useful guide to the procedures and terms used everywhere in France when buying a house, and information essential for a prospective buyer.

Throughout the book, the author keeps the reader enthralled by their family’s adventures, whether they are just carrying out everyday tasks, or seeing the city’s sights and districts. This entertaining book is also contains many interesting historical facts about the places they visit, both in Paris and on their breaks to other parts of France.

This is a wonderful mixture of travelogue and ‘how to’ which I thoroughly enjoyed and would not hesitate to recommend.


An Apartment in Paris is available in Kindle format from

and also in Kindle format



Gethsemane: An Epic Poem about Us by R. Douglas Jacobs

51ptUTx50lL__UY250_Firstly, I have to say that it is the audiobook version I reviewed and it provides an experience like no other.

Unusually it is an epic poem, and as soon as I put it on I found myself absorbed in the author/narrator’s voice, it was relaxing and yet, I found myself listening intently to it. R. Douglas Jacobs, narration is set against a wonderful original piece of baroque music, which was written by the gifted composer Mark Moya.

Accompanying the narration, there are a cast of actors James MacEwen (The Gent), Dominique Vance (Celeste), Kahi Taufa’asau (Lucifer), Sigmund Kramer (The Lord), Michael David Little (Azazel), Micah Delhauer (Michael), Lucho Franco (Young Man of Brawn), Sedamar Fitzgerald (The Nude Maiden) and sound effect, which make this audiobook a unique piece of work.

This is the story of Lucifer’s fall from grace, and his journey from there, hell, mankind’s embracing of his ways, and also redemption. Woven into it is some very thought provoking writing, as I started to read this, I mentally decided it would be suitable for a religious group or suchlike, however, by the time I had finished I had definitely changed my mind. It is full of very powerful writing, and I have to warn potential listeners that the content is sexually explicit at times and would not be suitable the young or for those easily offended.

However, despite the previous statement it is to be admired for its sheer powerfulness, the author has, in this most unusual of works created a total living work of art. With beautiful music, talented actors and stunning sound effects, it is something to behold.


About the Author: R. Douglas Jacobs, the person, still remains an enigma, whereas, R. Douglas Jacobs, the poet, has developed a clear and distinctive voice as a storyteller four years after he first entered the literary forum as an author with the debut of his sonnet anthology, The Rhymes of Love and Reason. That book was met with little publicity and less fanfare due to the fact that he was virtually anonymous and had no reputation to uphold among critics and consumers, alike. This initial endeavor of his, however, would turn out to serve as a primer for his new, ambitious book, Gethsemane, a sweeping epic poem that transcends the boundaries of literature through its rare prowess and ingenuity. This undertaking presented major challenges over a two and a half year span that often consumed his psyche and pushed him to the brink of reasoning. On one occasion, the anxiety of confronting the climatic nuance of the second act caused him to frantically ride his road bike into the cold darkness of a coastal boardwalk on a late, Thanksgiving Eve in 2010. His relationships became impaired by neglect and he experienced considerable weight loss. Yet, he persevered and entrusted his faith to lead his imagination in ways it had never been led before. Gethsemane was not only a metaphorical escape, but was an asylum for him to exercise his demons, and the end result is as poignant as it is profound. If R. Douglas Jacobs, the poet, were to speak on behalf of R. Douglas Jacobs, the person, he would argue that the person in him will always be misunderstood for the simple, yet sincere, fact that his heart has never known how to discriminate.

Author’s Website:

Gethsemane is available:

From Amazon in Kindle format

in Paperback

as an Audiobook

and from Audible

The Juno Letters by L. W. Hewitt

JL_cover_170_70This is such a fascinating story for anyone interested in WWI and WWII, I just could not put it down.

When an unexpected parcel arrives for Lawrence Hewitt from Courseulles-sur-Mer in France, it contains letters, they are addressed to his Grandfather Andy. The letters, which were written during WWII had been discovered hidden in a small cottage in Normandy and are from Andy’s friend Antoine Bouchard, but they were never posted…

A friendship was forged in WWI between his grandfather, Private Andy Anderson and Antoine Bouchard, who although French was living in the Alsace region at the outbreak of the war and was forced to fight for Germany. Then, after WWI Andy returns home and becomes a chaplain and Antoine stays in France.

As Andy’s grandson reads the letters and researches what he finds, we are treated to an amazing insight into real life in France, between the wars and during WWII. The prejudices which existed and the secret underground work of the resistance.

However, love will find a way, and Antoine finds happiness marrying his lovely Marianne and they have a daughter, Ariéle, then their world is shattered as the cruelty of war impacts on their lives and they all find themselves faced with circumstances beyond their control.

Living in France as I do, near to Tours, which is featured in this book, the tributes are all around us to the brave young men of many nations who lost their lives, and, not too far away in Normandy are the Juno landings beaches, and Courseulles-sur-Mer so vital during D Day on the 6th June, 1944.

It is very hard for me, even now to remember that this is a work of fiction, the depth of research and attention to detail bring alive all too horrifically the very real dangers facing collaborators during the wars and the bravery of the resistance and allies working behind enemy lines.

The question is, what happens to Antoine, Marianne and Ariéle? To find out you will have to read the book or listen to the audiobook version.

This story is a tribute to the author, Lawrence Hewitt’s Grandfather Andy. Armed with his grandfather’s personal journals which he wrote as a soldier in the Great War, the author visited Paris in 2012 and followed in his footsteps. The journey he took and his visit to the Normandy landing beaches are the inspiration behind The Juno Letters.


Available from Amazon in Paperback format

in Kindle format

and from Audible