Archives for August 2014

Belinda’s Review: Girls’ Night Out by Kate Flora

Girls' Night OutGirls’ Night Out
written by Kate Flora
published by Shebooks

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
Yes. It was phenomenal.

This story opened with the best first line ever. I’d love to quote it here for you, but I don’t have permission from the author, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

I was hooked by the first sentence, and I didn’t put the book down until the final scene. The entire story was fast paced, unpredictable, dark, and wonderfully entertaining.

I really enjoy the short e-books that are gaining popularity. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities when writers aren’t limited by the confines of traditional publishing. Flora takes this opportunity to create something special to a whole new level.

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Would I recommend it: Whatever your preferred genre, a good story is a good story. Girls’ Night Out smacks it right out of the ballpark. So yes! I recommend it.

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About the book – from Goodreads: When the man who date-raped a friend is found not guilty, the women in her book group decide to take matters into their own hands.

Mystery and true crime writer Kate Clark Flora’s fascination with people’s criminal tendencies began in the Maine attorney general’s office. Deadbeat dads, people who hurt their kids, and employers’ acts of discrimination aroused her curiosity about human behavior. Her books include seven “strong woman” Thea Kozak mysteries and three gritty police procedurals in her star-reviewed Joe Burgess series. Redemption was the 2013 Maine Literary Award winner for Crime Fiction. Her Edgar-nominated true crime story, Finding Amy, has been optioned for a movie. Flora has also published 15 crime stories in various anthologies.

When she’s not writing or teaching at Grub Street in Boston, Flora is in her garden, waging a constant battle against critters, pests, and her husband’s lawn mower. She’s been married for 35 years to a man who still makes her laugh. She has two wonderful sons, a movie editor and a scientist, two lovely daughters-in-law, and four rescue “granddogs,” Frances, Otis, Harvey, and Daisy. You can follow her on Twitter @kateflora or at Facebook.com/kate.flora.92

This is a short e-book published by Shebooks–high quality fiction, memoir, and journalism for women, by women

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Chrissy’s Review: Crossing the Ice by Jennifer Comeaux

Crossing the IceCrossing the Ice (Ice #1)
written by Jennifer Comeaux
published by Jennifer Comeaux

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, AmazonSmashwords, Book Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I did enjoy Crossing the Ice. I loved Ms. Comeaux’s Edge series, and I couldn’t wait to read the first book in this spinoff series.

It started off a bit slow. It took me a bit to get into the story, and I’m not exactly sure why. That may have been a personal reading issue. I’m not sure. However, once I got into the story, I didn’t want to put it down.

Courtney and Mark are trying their best to achieve their dream. You can’t help but root for them. I wanted them to skate their best, to do their best. I was behind them immediately. I didn’t like Mark’s attitude toward their training mates, but I understood it. They tried their best to make the most out of an awkward situation.

I loved Josh. He was my favorite. And I could just see he and Courtney together. If only this were a movie, it would be fantastic to watch unfold. So romantic. So sweet. I’m jealous of Josh’s piano playing ability. I have never been able to play by ear–put a piece of music in front me, and I can play it; but play a piece of music, and I cannot replicate it. Anyway, I love their friendship, their past, their wishes/hopes, and their future.

I loved Emily’s and Sergei’s roles in this book. Emily really grew up from the Edge series. It made me happy to see them coaching together. And their twins!! So cute. Personal preference, I don’t like reading baby talk. I don’t speak it to my kids. It is cute when relayed or heard from them, but to read it, it’s a bit awkward. But there wasn’t that much of it. So, it was okay.

The ending was fantastic. I loved it. I can’t wait for the next book. I need to know what happens!!!

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Would I recommend it: Yes, especially if you love romance and figure skating. I can’t wait for the next book!

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About the book – from Goodreads: 
Falling hard never felt so good.

Pair skaters Courtney and Mark have one shot left at their Olympic dream. They vow not to let anything get in their way, especially not Josh and Stephanie, the wealthy and talented brother and sister team.

The heart doesn’t always listen to reason, though…

The more time Courtney spends with sweet, shy Josh, the harder she falls for him. But they are on opposite sides of the competition, and their futures are headed in opposite directions. Will their friendship blossom into more or are their paths too different to cross?

 

 

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Belinda’s Review: If You Tell Anyone by Joanne Clancy

If You Tell AnyoneIf You Tell Anyone (The Ellis Jones Mysteries, Book 2)
written by Joanne Clancy
published by Smashwords

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, Book Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
Sadly, no.

When I learned that Joanne Clancy had a second novel coming out, I couldn’t wait to read it. I loved her last book (see my review of Traceless here) and had high expectations for this one.

Maybe that’s why I was so disappointed. If I had to guess, I’d say Clancy received positive responses to her first story and wanted to get another one to market to keep the momentum moving. Unfortunately, the second novel read like an unpolished version rushed to publication.

That’s not the only problem I had with the book. Clancy retells the story of Scott Peterson’s murder of his wife, Lacy Peterson. She changes the setting, names, and a few minor details. But it’s definitely a story most Americans will easily recall. She throws in a contrived, Gone Girl-type ending as an epilogue. But it’s too little too late to save a predictable, bumpy story line.

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Would I recommend it: No.

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About the book – from Goodreads: Love, lies, and a deadly secret . . . how well can two people ever really know each other?

Victoria Spencer is in love with the perfect man, until she discovers his deadly secret. Digging deep into his past, she finds the devastating truth of his private world–a world he has desperately tried to keep hidden from her.

Detective George Ellis helps Victoria in her pursuit of justice, but she soon begins to mistrust everyone around her.

She will do anything to protect herself, but what if it’s not enough?

 

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Blog Tour: Wild Within by Melissa Hart (spotlight, giveaway)

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Wild WithinWild Within
written by Melissa Hart
published by Lyons Press

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book: Melissa Hart, a lonely young divorcée and L.A. transplant, finds herself stranded in rainy Eugene, Oregon, working from home in the company of her two cats and two large mutts. At the local dog park, she meets a fellow dog owner named Jonathan: a tall, handsome man with a unibrow and hawk-like nose. When he invites her to accompany him on a drive to Portland to retrieve six hundred pounds of frozen rats and a fledgling barred owl, sparks fly!

Their courtship blossoms in a raptor rehabilitation center where wounded owls, eagles, falcons, and other iconic birds of prey take refuge and become ambassadors for their species. Initially, Melissa volunteers here in order to “sink her talons” into her new love interest, but soon she falls hopelessly in love with her fine feathered charges: Archimedes, a gorgeous snowy owl; Lorax, a serene great-horned owl; and Bodhi, a baby barred with a permanently injured wing. Even as human-habituated birds, they retain a wildness that hoodwinks even the most experienced handlers. Overcoming her fears, Melissa bravely suffers some puncture wounds to get closer to these magnificent creatures.

Melissa and Jonathan start out convinced they don’t want children, but caring for birds who have fallen from their nests triggers a deep longing in Melissa to mother an orphaned child. Thus they embark on a heart-wrenching journey to adoption. Every page sparkles with vivid imagery and wit in this beautifully written memoir of parallel pursuits. Wild Within is, above all, about the power of love—romantic, animal, and parental—to save lives and fulfill dreams.

 

About the author: Melissa Hart is a nature and travel writer and the author of Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhood. She teaches feature and travel writing at the University of Oregon. She lives in Eugene, Oregon, with her husband and their daughter.

Find Ms. Hart here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

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Blog Tour: Gypsy by Trisha Leigh (Melissa’s review, giveaway)

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GypsyGypsy (The Cavy Files #1)
written by Trisha Leigh
published by Trisha Leigh

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I couldn’t put it down. Leigh’s writing is refreshing – her imagery is endearing, her characters are a wonderful mess, and her timing is darn near perfect. I’ll admit I was expecting a limp retelling of the X-Men, so I was pleasantly surprised when Leigh blended shades of well-known stories (X-Men, Twilight, The Young Inventors Guild) into a vibrant new tale.

The plot isn’t unpredictable, but I didn’t mind. Actually, I’m pretty sure I can see where the series is headed (or at least what Norah’s going to be up to in the near future), and for once I don’t mind a bit. I know what’s going to happen, and I’m still seriously excited to keep reading the series.

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Would I recommend it: Absolutely.

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About the book – from Goodreads: 
Inconsequential: not important or significant.

Synonyms: insignificant, unimportant, nonessential, irrelevant

In the world of genetic mutation, Gypsy’s talent of knowing a person’s age of death is considered a failure. Her peers, the other Cavies, have powers that range from curdling a blood still in the vein to being able to overhear a conversation taking place three miles away, but when they’re taken from the sanctuary where they grew up and forced into the real world, Gypsy, with her all-but-invisible gift, is the one with the advantage.

The only one who’s safe, if the world finds out what they can do.

When the Cavies are attacked and inoculated with an unidentified virus, that illusion is shattered. Whatever was attached to the virus causes their abilities to change. Grow. In some cases, to escape their control.

Gypsy dreamed of normal high school, normal friends, a normal life, for years. Instead, the Cavies are sucked under a sea of government intrigue, weaponized genetic mutation, and crushing secrets that will reframe everything they’ve ever been told about how their “talents” came to be in the first place.

When they find out one of their own has been appropriated by the government, mistreated and forced to run dangerous missions, their desire for information becomes a pressing need. With only a series of guesses about their origins, the path to the truth becomes quickly littered with friends, enemies, and in the end, the Cavies ability to trust anyone at all.

 

 

Trisha LeighAbout the author: Trisha Leigh is a product of the Midwest, which means it’s pop, not soda, garage sales, not tag sales, and you guys as opposed to y’all. Most of the time. She’s been writing seriously for five years now and has published 4 young adult novels and 4 new adult novels (under her pen name Lyla Payne). Her favorite things, in no particular order, include: reading, Game of Thrones, Hershey’s kisses, reading, her dogs (Yoda and Jilly), summer, movies,  reading, Jude Law, coffee, and rewatching WB series from the 90s-00s.

Her family is made up of farmers and/or almost rock stars from Iowa, people who are numerous, loud, full of love, and the kind of people that make the world better. Trisha tries her best to honor them, and the lessons they’ve taught, through characters and stories—made up, of course, but true enough in their way.

Trisha is the author of The Last Year series and the Whitman University books. She’s represented by Kathleen Rushall at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

Find Ms. Leigh here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

 

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Belinda’s Review: Torn Blood by David J. Bain

Torn BloodTorn Blood
written by David J. Bain
published by Bo Iti Press

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I liked parts of it.

Bain does a brilliant job of giving his characters totally different voices, attitudes, and personalities. No two characters sound alike. That’s really hard to do. And I don’t think I’ve seen an author do it better than he does.

Some of the characters use foreign words to go with the setting. They are highlighted so you can tap on them and have the word defined from a glossary. Usually, I complain about anything that takes me out of the flow of the story but in this case, it worked. Adding the foreign words strengthened the connection to the scene and added authenticity of the story.

It goes without saying that not every story is right for every reader. And for me, Torn Blood wasn’t a good fit. There’s nothing wrong with the book. It just wasn’t interesting to me.

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Would I recommend it: I think there is a broad audience for this book.  Read the description and see if you think the content is interesting.  It’s detailed, scientific, historic, and at times disturbingly realistic.  Kind of like a Dan Brown novel, but not as fast paced.

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About the book – from Goodreads: Three weeks before officially reporting for duty at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, Addison Deverell arrives in Israel determined to find an answer to a question buried for nearly four thousand years.

Bound to an escort by the embassy, he is unable to begin his search as time is running out. Mere days before he must report for duty, Addison is freed from his forced escort, Hafiz IbnMansur, as a female escort, Elizabeth Daniels, takes his place.

Addison issues an ultimatum to Elizabeth that he must go into Palestinian territory for answers he can’t find in Israel. But, as Addison races to uncover a long buried truth that promises to establish a career, he faces peril from those he seeks to understand and finds himself a pawn in an international plot to drive Israel’s Jews into the sea.

Nearly seven thousand miles away in Oregon, Dr. Janelle Henning confronts a past that threatens to destroy the only family she’s ever known. A search for understanding thrusts her into a foreign world long buried to confront a birthright hidden by the passage of time. With no place—or no one—to turn to, Janelle tries to put the pieces of her life back together.

An ill-boding call shreds the little of Janelle’s world that is left, compelling her to leave her home and fly to Israel in search of Addison. But terrorists stand in Janelle’s way of reaching him, the one person that might unlock hidden identities in a relationship that has spanned a lifetime. But will Addison live, or will death, the master of all, once again keep its secret buried?

 

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Boost It Tuesday!

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Have you noticed that despite ALL of your Facebook “Likes” you are only “reaching” a very small portion of those followers? Does that bother you? It bothers us, and we want to boost each other up. Link up with Every Free Chance, Candace’s Book Blog, and Gin’s Book Notes for Boost It Tuesday.

 

What is Boost It Tuesday, you ask? Well, we want to help each other out. We are a great community of bloggers and authors, and we should be supporting each other. Share your Facebook address below, then visit the Facebook pages, like 3-5 posts, share or comment on 1 or 2 posts. That’s it. You don’t have to “like” the page if you don’t want to, just “like” some posts. Let’s help expand each other’s page reach. Who knows! You may find a new blog or author to follow along the away. Please be aware that any non-Facebook links will be deleted.

 

As an added bonus, Candace, Ginny, and I will be hosting a giveaway each week just to say thanks for the boost!


For this week’s giveaway, head over to the Candace’s Book Blog Facebook page and answer the question in the Boost It post!


Remember: Like, comment, and share!  Let’s all give each other a boost!


Gin's Book Notes
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Blog Tour: When Girlfriends Let Go by Savannah Page (Chrissy’s review, giveaway)

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When-Girlfriends-Let-GoWhen Girlfriends Let Go
written by Savannah Page
published by Pearls and Pages

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I enjoyed parts of it. Other parts, not so much.

I have come to love these girlfriends. And I couldn’t wait to catch up on the lives of Lara, Claire, Robin, Sophie, Emily, and Jackie. These are girlfriends that you want in your life. They all get along, but they aren’t afraid to tell you how it is, even if it will hurt you. They are there for each other. They get together and share laughs. They are a great bunch of women. And when I found out this book, When Girlfriends Let Go, was about Jackie, I was extra excited. I wanted to know more about her.

Jackie’s story was a hard one for me to get behind. Granted, Jackie was my least favorite girlfriend from the beginning. For most of the book, I thought she was a spoiled brat that needed to get over herself and wake up. I had a really hard time rooting for her, caring about her, or even feeling sorry for her. I felt sorry for her past, but not her present situation. I thought she was immature and rather annoying.

So, why did I keep on reading? That’s a good question. There were a few times that I wanted to give up, call it a DNF, and move on. However, I kept on reading because I wanted to know what was going in the lives of the other girls. I wanted to see how they would help Jackie. I wanted to hear the advice they gave her and whether or not it would have been the advice I would have given her. It was because of them that I finished this book.

I’m glad I did finish this book. I liked the ending, a lot. It was a bit predictable for me, but I liked it nonetheless. I’m looking forward to the final story in the When Girlfriends series, When Girlfriends Find Love.

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Would I recommend it: Yes, if you have read the first books in the series. If you have not read them, do not start with this book, read the first five books first. (The links are to my reviews.)

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About the book – from Goodreads: 
A novel about love, self-discovery, and realizing sometimes you have to let go.

Jackie Kittredge is the consummate drama queen living the charmed life. She’s enthusiastic, outspoken, and is always looking for a good time. At twenty-seven she’s got a swanky Seattle townhouse, a wealthy husband, a designer wardrobe, the best of girlfriends, and a calendar filled not with meetings and deadlines, but spa appointments and happy hour reminders. On the outside, she’s got it all.

On the inside, though, Jackie’s charmed life isn’t as it seems. She’s seeing a therapist, battling the demons of coming from a broken home and a past of promiscuity and heavy drinking. She can be selfish and demanding, sometimes even wearing her best friends thin. And now her marriage—what she thought could be her solid foundation—is on the rocks. Her husband Andrew spends nearly all his time at the office (and possibly with his secretary), and apologizes for his absence with lavish gifts and empty promises.

Miserable and desperate, Jackie questions if her marriage is worth fighting for. Then a string of events begins to put things into perspective…into a perspective she didn’t quite anticipate. With her best friends by her side and some tough love, Jackie finds herself not only asking if she’s where she belongs, but if she’s who she’s supposed to be.

This is a passionate story about having to answer some of life’s most important and difficult questions. It’s a story about fear, courage, and personal growth. About what happens when girlfriends let go.

 

 

Savannah PageAbout the author: Savannah Page is the author of the seven-novel When Girlfriends collection, heartfelt women’s fiction that celebrates friendship, love, and life sprinkled with drama and humor. When she isn’t writing, Savannah enjoys a good book with a latte and jazz tunes, Pilates, and exploring her home of Berlin as an American expat.

Find Ms. Page here: web, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

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The EFC Writer – Dramatic Writing

 

Conflict + High Stakes = Good Fiction

“Three Greatest Rules of Dramatic Writing:  Conflict, conflict, conflict,” according to James. N Frey who penned How to Write a Damn Good Novel.

Safe writing is boring writing. Think about how our fictional characters compare with our everyday life. I’ve had some bummed out Christmas holidays. I don’t always get what I want. I buy gifts for ungrateful recipients. I can feel a little bah-humbug.

But even on my worst holiday downer, ghosts don’t infiltrate my bedroom in rapid succession and take me on a travel through time to illuminate where I can do better.

Maybe that’s just me.

But I doubt it. James. E Frey tells us, “If the stakes are high and both sides are unyielding, you have the makings of high drama.” Harry Potter battling Voldemort, for example. Just typing the name gives me chills. He was, after all, so villainous he, “shall not be named.”

In a beautifully written guest post earlier this month, Brook Booher wrote, “You will fall in love with them, or come to hate them, but if the characters are real enough, you cannot remain indifferent.”

So be bold. Pump up the passion. Don’t fear the drama. Basically, be anything but boring!

 

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Blog Tour: How Much Do You Love Me by Paul Mark Tag (spotlight)

How Much Do You Love MeHow Much Do You Love Me
written by Paul Mark Tag
published by Cedar Fort

find it here: (affiliate links) Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book – from the publisher: Lovers James and Keiko marry quickly before James goes to World War II and Keiko to an internment camp. Sixty years later their daughter Kazuko, born in the camps, uncovers a secret that could overwhelm the family. Discover the very definition of human love and self-sacrifice in this saga of war, mystery, and romance.

 

About the author: Paul Mark Tag graduated with multiple degrees in meteorology from Pennsylvania State University and worked for the Naval Research Laboratory as a research scientist for over thirty years before retiring to write fiction. For years prior to retirement, and the following year exclusively, he honed his skills writing short stories. These have been published in StoryBytes, Potpourri, Green’s Magazine, and The Storyteller, as well as The Errant Ricochet: Max Raeburn’s Legacy.In 2005, he self-published his first thriller, Category 5,which took advantage of his knowledge of meteorology and weather modification, followed by Prophecy and White Thaw: The Helheim Conspiracy. With his historical novel How Much Do You Love Me? he has switched genres. He lives with his wife, Becky, in Monterey, California.

 

 

 

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