Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Blue Creek Bachelor/ Joanne Hill


Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Genre: Sweet Romance/ Contemporary Romance

Approximate word count: 50-55,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: YES  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

Joanne Hill is an author of contemporary novels with strong romantic elements. She lives in New Zealand. For more, visit Hill's website.

Description:

“Jilly O’Connor is one determined woman. Determined to keep her only child Joel safe from the man she knows killed her husband, the man who is after her son - the only witness.

Jilly has found a new life in the small rural town of Blue Creek, Wyoming and when she starts a job on Clay Matheson’s ranch, it finally begins to feel as if things are coming together. She just hadn’t counted on finding the family-she-never-had at the ranch, and neither did she count on her growing attraction to Blue Creek’s most eligible bachelor.

Clay Matheson - rancher, vet, confirmed bachelor - loathes secrets and his new assistant is loaded with them. He's prepared to overlook that fact as she sets about fitting into ranch life and his staff begin to take her and her young son into their hearts.

But when he starts to have feelings for Jilly, suddenly, it all looks different.

How can he trust a woman who is keeping her past to herself?

And how can Jilly give away her heart to Clay knowing each day her decisions have led her to where she is today - living on the run.”

Appraisal:

Jilly O’Conner has been on the run for a year now. Trying to protect her young son, Joel, from the man she believes caused the car accident that killed her husband a year ago. Joel was in the car with his father when it was forced off the road but has no memory of the accident. He now sleep walks and suffers night terrors, which the doctors believe are his memories trying to resurface. Jilly moved from the east coast to the small rural town of Blue Creek, Wyoming hoping she had covered her tracks well enough. When an office manager’s job with Clay Matheson, a local veterinarian/rancher, becomes available she applies for the job. Employment includes a small cabin on the ranch not far from the main house.

The characters are well developed, realistic, and likable. Flo, the housekeeper, was entertaining and a bit eccentric. You couldn’t help but like her, she was a no nonsense type of character and very outspoken. The hired ranch hands John and Mitch live in the bunkhouse, so they are always close by. John Floyd was friendly and good natured. Mitch Callaghan was always cranky and not pleased that the boss had hired a city slicker and with a kid to boot.

The plot moved at a good pace as we learned more about Clay’s past and why he shielded his heart. He knows Jilly is hiding something about her past and feels betrayed and lied to when she won’t confide in him. The sexual tension is palatable and I wanted more. I like my romances a little spicy. Tension rises when Joel goes missing and the whole town gets in on the search to locate him. The situation is realistic and I felt invested in the outcome.

This is a quick easy read you are sure to enjoy.

FYI:

Ms. Hill, being from New Zealand, uses UK/NZ/Australian spelling conventions.

Format/Typo Issues:

I found a small number of proofing issues. One of which was a wrong character name. Poor Stacey was called Tracey. 


Rating: **** Four stars

Monday, November 24, 2014

Two and a Half Weeks / Tim W. Jackson


Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Humor/Short Story

Approximate word count: 4-5,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: YES  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

A former photojournalist, Tim W. Jackson now splits his time between captaining a boat, teaching people how to scuba dive, and (obviously) writing. He has one novel, Mangrove Underground. Jackson also has multiple short stories available, all set on the tropical Blacktip Island, also the setting for his upcoming second novel.

For more, visit Jackson’s blog.

Description:

“Caribbean dive guide Gage Hoase woos and wins a beautiful dive guest then sends her packing. All is good until Gabi returns, with happily-ever-after on her mind. Now Gage has to figure a way to let her down gently before she offs him in his sleep.”

Appraisal:

The setup is simple, with lots of possibility. Gage thinks he’s got the perfect situation as he puts his twist on the old cliché. He loves ’em, but they do the leaving. Then one of his conquests decides to come back with plans to stay. As you might expect, the situation is full of humor as Gage attempts to extricate himself. This is a well written, short, yet fun read.

FYI:

Mild adult situations

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Hoodoo Money / Sharon Cupp Pennington


Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Genre: Romantic Suspense/ Mystery/ Contemporary Fiction

Approximate word count: 85-90,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

Sharon Cupp Pennington’s “short stories have appeared in numerous online and print venues, with anthology contributions to The Rocking Chair Reader in the Coming Home edition (2004) and Family Gatherings (2005), A Cup of Comfort for Weddings: Something Old, Something New (2007), and Good Old Days Magazine (March, 2007).” Hoodoo Money is her debut novel. To learn more, visit her website.

Description:

“After her almost-wedding to a bigamist, successful children's author Braeden McKay has given up on love. She's content to live vicariously through her imaginary heroine, Platypus Pearl, and a gaggle of adventurous, web-footed cohorts - until a working vacation in New Orleans shakes up her quiet, structured world. Had she known that souvenir nickel stolen from the grave of a hoodoo woman would catapult her into a nightmare of betrayal and murder, she would have insisted her friend put it back. Cursed nickel or unfortunate happenstance? Sanderson Montgomery isn't one to discount the supernatural beliefs of others. This is the Big Easy, after all, Mecca to the spiritual and the superstitious. As a veteran detective, neither does he ignore cold, hard fact. And the fact is, someone or something is bent on harming Braeden McKay, and it's up to him to protect her while keeping his heart out of the mix. Can love, the very thing Braeden wants no part of, be the one force greater than any adversary - even a hoodoo curse?”

Appraisal:

What a twisted web of intrigue Ms. Pennington weaves in this story told through different points of view. Most of the story centers on Braeden McKay, an idealistic children’s author, who had researched a local murder story several years earlier. She stored all of her pictures and interviews away for safe keeping because something didn’t feel right about it.

While accompanying her childhood friend, super model Angeline St. Cyr, on a shoot in New Orleans, Braeden gets mugged. Sanderson Montgomery is not the officer working her case but recognizes who she is and is inadvertently drawn to her. He is a smart detective, as he learns more about Braeden and her history he starts making connections that may be relevant to the murder case she researched years ago. In the meantime Cooper, Angeline’s hired driver for the week, decides to take her out of town for a little R&R, and to avoid reporters swarming the hotel since Braeden’s mugging. Angeline finds Cooper quite charming and despite their diverse backgrounds they are both attracted to each other However, he has a colorful history of his own, which the author has woven quite skillfully. It is a tangled web of deceit, murder, and disaster deluxe.

When tragedy strikes Braeden blames herself for not insisting that Angeline return the nickel souvenir she lifted off the gravestone of a Hoodoo woman after a photo shoot in the New Orleans graveyard. Grief stricken Braeden returns home to Texas. As murders start piling up in connection to Braeden’s mugging, Sanderson fears for her safety and finds an excuse to follow her to Galveston. More mysterious happenings around Braeden’s home cause Sanderson to start working with the local police. Most of the main characters are well written and believable. The plot was suspenseful and well-paced as elements from Cooper’s past become germane to Braeden’s cases in both New Orleans and Galveston. I had a small problem stretching my believability with one character and how things played out in the end. Then after the climactic scene the next chapter starts eight months later? ~sigh~ I have to say I was disappointed about this lapse of time. I felt like I didn’t get to savor the outcome before moving on. 

FYI:

This is book 1 of The Stolen Nickel Series, book 2 is also available and titled Mangroves and Monsters.

Format/Typo Issues:

I came across a few small proofing issues.

Rating: **** Four stars

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Falling in Love with a Dead Girl, a Guest Post from VM Gauthier, author of Blood Diva


I'm not sure how old I was the first time I saw Camille – the 1936 classic Hollywood weepy starring Miss Greta Garbo. I was too young to understand why exactly it was that the father of the heroine's lover didn't approve of her. The old movie code made that detail murky.

That film, still shown from time to time on TCM, is how many of us were introduced to the story of a Parisian courtesan who falls in love, makes a great sacrifice, and dies beautifully. What fewer are aware of is how many versions of the tale exist, and that the main character was based very closely on a real person.


She was born in Normandy in 1824. Her name was  Rose Alponsine Plessis. By the time she was a teenager, the beautiful Alphonsine – as she was then known – was a streetwalker in Paris. She worked her way up to the top of her “profession” exchanging her given name for a classier nom de guerre – Marie Duplessis. She had a delicate beauty and dressed with care and taste – which made her unique among her kind. A couple of her early patrons paid for her to have reading, dancing, and piano lessons. She was a quick study. Her clientele included a who's who of Parisian society, and among those she took without charge – her “amants de coeur” – “lovers of the heart” were Franz Liszt and a young dandy with a well-known name. She died a few weeks after her twenty-third birthday of “consumption” – what we now call tuberculosis. People still visit her grave.


The young dandy was Alexandre Dumas fils, whose father, the author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, was about as famous as anyone could be in those days. Young Alexandre decided to write a novel about his affair with Marie. The Lady of the Camellias was published shortly after her death.

How much of it was “true”? Ah, there's the rub.


He named the young hero, Armand Duval – notice the initials. But unlike Alexandre, Armand was a country boy and his father the epitome of respectability. As for his lover, she was called Marguerite Gautier. Her physical description, mannerisms and clothing choices were pure Marie. Alexandre was later quoted as saying that some of the conversations were as he remembered them, but he also admitted he never loved Marie as Armand loved Marguerite. Perhaps he simply couldn't bear to admit it. After all, the lady was no lady. There is no evidence Marie ever gave up a lover  to protect a family from scandal although there is some conjecture she may have been paid off a time or two.

But people prefer myth to sordid reality, and the book – the tragic story of lovers torn apart by the dictates of society, and then by death, the noble suffering of the heroine, her redemption through the power of love, the heartbroken regret of her lover – all this made great fiction. Add to that the veneer of “truth” – the glamour of celebrity and the idea that this must have been as it really happened, and voila a bestseller is born.


Dumas fils turned his book into the play we now know simply as Camille. Sarah Bernhardt toured in it for years, and there were film versions before there was sound. But what really secured its place as legend was the opera. Verdi's La Traviata tells the same story although the fictional names were changed to make them both Italian and more musical. The pure emotion of the operatic form deepened the tale. It was no longer just a weepy love story. It became the love story – a chronicle of love, death and redemption. Violetta – as she was now called, died for all of us.


Even if you've never heard the opera, or seen the Garbo film, you're familiar with some version. Pretty Woman has a happy ending, but it's also the story of an independent but good-hearted hooker who can be dressed-up and presented as a lady. When Edward takes Vivienne to the opera, it's La Traviata they see. Moulin Rouge, with Nicole Kidman as Satine, was another take. Even Love Story bore a resemblance – while the strong-willed Jenny was not a whore, Oliver's father tried to break them up because he thought her too low-class for his son, and she also died young.

If you read The Lady of the Camellias, even in clunky older translations, there's a sense of irony about the heroine that feels very modern. She's aware of who she is and the absurdity of her situation – all those men, all that money! She's funny and she's tragic. She doesn't expect love to last or believe herself worthy of it. She knows she'll die young and that her affair with Armand will end before her premature death.

All that seems in line and true to the little we know of Marie Duplessis. She didn't leave many letters. There were no diaries, and she often told different versions of events to different people. One of the quotes attributed to her is, “Lying keeps my teeth white.

So what would she have made of her posthumous fame?


Would it have amused her? Would she have been angry at Alexandre, who could not love her in life, but created a fantasy of her after her death? And what would Marie, an opera fan, have made of Verdi's masterpiece?

I desperately wanted to know. I suppose I could have held a séance, but I doubt she'd want to be disturbed by my questions. The best method I have for channeling the dead is writing. I thought of creating an historical novel, maybe in the form of a hidden diary, give the characters back their “real names” and write about her affairs from her point of view. But I didn't only want to know what “really” happened back in the 1800's. I wanted to put Marie into the world in which we live now. Other than time travel, there was only way I could come up with to make that happen. Reader, I vamped her.



Some might find the premise of my novel, Blood Diva, gimmicky. I know it's not the first time a historical figure has gone fictionally vampire, but my intent was not simply to retell Camille with a blood-sucking twist. I wanted to bring the character to life in a fresh way, and to watch Marie/Alphonsine/Camille interact with her own myth. I realize opera fans are few, and even with TCM, most people alive couldn't pick out a photo of Garbo, let alone recognize a portrait of Marie Duplessis. Yet, I hope that the book is good enough to make Marie a shared obsession for at least a few new to her.

You can get your copy of VM Gauthier's novel, Blood Diva, from Amazon US (paper or ebook), Amazon UK (paper or ebook), or Barnes & Noble.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Pool Boy's Beatitude / DJ Swykert


Reviewed by: Pete Barber

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Approximate word count:

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: NO  Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

DJ Swykert is a former 911 operator. His work has appeared in The Tampa Review, Detroit News, Monarch Review, Lunch Ticket, Zodiac Review, Barbaric Yawp and Bull. His books include Children of the Enemy, Maggie Elizabeth Harrington, Alpha Wolves, The Death of Anyone and The Pool Boy’s Beatitude.

You can find Swykert at his website. He is a wolf expert.
Description:

Jack is an alcoholic, drug-using, womanizing, university dropout who stumbles through life by cleaning swimming pools.

Appraisal:

This was a fascinating read on a number of levels. Firstly, Mr. Swykert knows how to put words on a page. The writing is crisp and engaging. Which is a good thing, because the main character, Jack, needs all the help he can get. To say he’s not an easy character to like is to understate the obvious. He’s cheating on his wife, cheating on his girlfriend, and in general willing to cheat or lie about anything if it’ll lead to his next drink.

So, it’s quite an achievement to write a story told from this reprobate’s point of view and yet keep me engaged throughout. In a strange way, I was always rooting for Jack, but God knows he didn’t deserve my sympathy.

When I tell you that that the story spans only a few weeks of Jack’s life, you’ll understand that I spent most of the time inside Jack’s head. And I learned quite a lot about the mind of an addict in the process. Although his lifestyle was not to be admired, it made perfect sense.

All in all, an unusual and fascinating read.  

Format/Typo Issues:

Some graphic sexual situations including mild BDSM.

Rating: **** Four stars

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ghosts of A.R.C.A.D.I.A / Ramsey Isler


Reviewed by: Michael Thal

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

Approximate word count: 40-45,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

Ramsey Isler’s day job is a software developer and designer in Los Angeles. When not playing with his cat or writing feature articles and media reviews at IGN.com, Ramsey enjoys writing science fiction and fantasy. One of his most recent novels is The Remortal, a tale about a teen boy surviving on the streets of LA who bumps into a man who wants the teen to kill him.

Description:

Miguel Naciamento is a graduate of Stanford University, a freelance writer, and recipient of the prestigious Pulitzer Prize. In his bones he feels a second Pulitzer from the fishy atmosphere generated by the A.R.C.A.D.I.A. debacle. ARCADIA is a computer game, but not just your run-of-the-mill game one can find on the shelves of Best Buy. Created by computer genius, Ivy Yeun, ARCADIA is “an interactive world simulator with incredible detail and the ability to control everything with the power of thought.” The device can actually read a players mind.

Appraisal:

Author Ramsey Isler has created a world in the near future where gamers get a unique experience of a lifetime. However, players are fleeing from the system like rats in a flooded tenement. Someone has hacked into the impenetrable ARCADIA system stealing money from bank accounts despite the fact that they had never linked those accounts to the game. With the help of Ivy Yeun, Naciamento sniffs out the story that peels away layer after layer to uncover an astounding revelation.

Ghosts of ARCADIA is a heart-pounding tale that will keep readers glued to its pages through this fascinating novella. 

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: ***** Five Stars

#Free for your #Kindle, 11/20/2014

The author of each of these books has indicated their intent to schedule these books for a free day for the Kindle versions today on Amazon. Sometimes plans change or mistakes happen, so be sure to verify the price before hitting that "buy me" button.



Ratpaths by Angelika Rust





Adelaide Confused by Penny Greenhorn



Author's interested in having their free book featured either here on a Thursday or a sister site on a Monday, visit this page for details.