Saturday, December 21, 2013

Book Review: Fire Born, by Christina Moore

Click here to purchase on Amazon!
About The Book
Firefighter Chris Paytah has been in the business of battling flames for nearly two decades, but nothing he's faced could have prepared him for the worst thing he could have ever imagined: losing the man that taught him everything he knows. Now he's got to find a way to pick up the pieces, as well as take up the reins as captain of a new fire station in Calvin's place. 

Martie Liotta is the arson investigator assigned by the Montana Bureau of Fire Safety to investigate the fire that led to a 30-year veteran's death. She's hoping that she'll find evidence tying the fire to a shady businessman who happens to be the owner of the burned-out building—and is already suspected of insurance fraud. She's completely unprepared to find herself instantly attracted to Chris, or for the passion that ignites between them to burn so hot. 

While the two of them work to discover the cause of the fire, they're also navigating the precarious terrain of their new relationship. But someone with a more than passing interest in the beautiful Martie causes her to doubt her judgment, leading her to make a terrible decision that drives Chris away in anger. Can he overcome the hurt in time to save her and an innocent woman from suffering at the hands of a madman with a dangerous obsession?

My Review
This was such a sweet read. I loved the honesty and self-awareness Chris displayed throughout the story, and I loved Martie's tough, no-nonsense attitude. The instant connection between Chris and Martie wasn't too heavy-handed and I liked that it felt believable. Most especially, I loved the way these two couldn't resist each other right from the start, and yet the author didn't allow it to feel forced or cheap.

The easy interactions between Chris and the rest of his crew were endearing, too, and the tense-but-mostly-friendly banter between Chris and Tony made me laugh. And wow, I loved Ronnie. I hope she shows up again somewhere in the series! She's had it hard, and she deserves a happy ending of her own.

There were also a few little plot twists throughout the story that had me sitting back and saying, "Huh, didn't see that coming!" All in all, it's a charming story with emotionally believable characters, very good use of foreshadowing, and great pacing throughout.

There are a few editing errors sprinkled here and there, and the language was a little gratuitous in some places but oh, Martie and Chris - these two are definitely worth getting to know! Four stars! Want to follow this author and learn more about her work? You can check her out here: Amazon / Blog / Facebook / Twitter

Friday, December 20, 2013

First Authorversary: Hide And Seek

On the 18th of this month, I privately celebrated my one-year mark. But on the 19th, I went public, and I had a little party on Facebook. As part of the party, I chose places from online, from my personal experience, or from my dream list, and I gave a little riddle/hint on Facebook event page. With the hint, I invited players to guess where I was -- to try to "find" me. The winner of each game got their choice from among my e-book titles, gifted to them through Amazon Kindle.

The party was a lot of fun, and I had a great time on my virtual travels, learning obscure facts about each place I visited so that I could make up the little riddles for each game. For those of you who read here but for whatever reason couldn't be part of the party, here's the breakdown.

First, I recycled an unanswered riddle from my Facebook author page"This place is amazing ... built on dangerous underground fault lines, it is only left standing by feats of engineering genius. Unnoticed and largely unappreciated for centuries, this incredible South American temple is still a remarkable mystery to this day, with much left undiscovered -- even to the millions of people who have seen it."
Machu Picchu, Peru

Next, I moved onto another place which I described like this: "Built in 1874, this pillar of nautical beauty is rife with history and replete with adventure. Open for tours but still also live and ready for action -- though this action has been automated for many years -- this brick and iron structure is amazing to see. Through the doors and up 219 steps, you are presented with amazing views of the rolling Atlantic Ocean. And for those of us with paranormal interests, the site is said to be home to more than a few ghosts."
St. Augustine Lighthouse, St. Augustine, Florida (USA)

With the lighthouse behind me, I headed across the Ocean and into France, where I found a little place affectionately known around the world as the Lover's Bridge: "For some people, 'locks of love' is a hair charity, but for others, it is a pilgrimage and an adventure, full of romance and old world charm, smothered in the fantasy that love really can be everlasting. Along the banks of the river Seine, young romantics walk hand in hand, and when they get here, they will look upon the beauty of Notre Dame and endeavor to lock in their romance forever, throwing the key into the depths of the water."
Pont de l'ArchevĂȘchĂ©, Paris, France

My virtual hiding trip to France was lovely, but I guess it left me homesick, because this is the next riddle: "Standing proudly in the heart of Knoxville, this symbol of the 1982 World's Fair is still beautiful today. In recent years, the attraction has featured restaurants and nightclubs, but for me, the biggest appeal is in the observation deck, where you can look out on the city I'm proud to call home."
The Sunsphere, Knoxville, Tennessee (USA)

From home, I headed out across the virtual seas again, and landed in a place described thusly: "This fabulously romantic nineteenth century palace stands on a rugged hill overlooking one of the world's most beautiful gorges. Intended for the personal refuge of a reclusive King, it is now a public tourist attraction, and the inspiration behind the dreams of every six-year-old American princess. Too bad the interior was never completely finished ... you can tour this lovely masterpiece, but sleeping in it's royal chambers would be out of the question."
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

After that romantic opulence, I wanted to find something exotic but still beautiful, and now I'm thinking my bucket list has a brand new number one spot. Check this out: "Endowed with abundant natural attractions and antiquities, this quiet paradise is a traveler's heaven. Full of ancient ruins, Buddhist shrines, and magnificent mountains, this fascinating province is filled with natural and cultural wonders. It may not be the capital of the Kingdom anymore, but this piece of the golden triangle is still a wonderful place to escape the troubles of daily life and sink into the laid back style of traditional rural living."
Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai, Thailand

The man-made beauty of Wat Rong Khun is truly spectacular and awakens the spiritual side of me, but there's just something about unobstructed nature that makes me feel more connected with the earth: "Thought of as a 'zoo without fences', this breath-taking environment is home to koalas, possums, wallabies, echidnas, penguins, and sea lions, and this luscious island is an adventure in exploration. Boasting beautiful walking trails, guided tours, and magnificent caves, this fabulous 'down under' island will leave you with lasting memories and incredibly beautiful experiences."
Kangaroo Island, Australia

Thailand and Australia can be pretty hot sometimes, and I'm a hot-blooded person. So next I wanted to cool down in a place with a more ... chilly ... climate: "An unconventional vacation, sure ... but with a view of the Northern Lights, this 5,500 kilometer hotel exhibits an entirely different concept that appeals to an entirely unique sense of adventure. This temporary wonder is rebuilt each and every winter, and each summer it slowly disappears, recycled into the Torne River."
Ice Hotel, Jukkasjarvi, Sweden

One last stop on my virtual travel tour, and I guess this hint was a great one, because no one was able to guess it. Here's what I said: "This wonderfully wet tourist attraction is an amazing place to see. It may not be the highest, and it may not be the widest, but it is by far the largest and most impressive of its kind. Situated on the border between two African countries, this location promises the beauty of nature, combined with the exhilaration of adventure."
Victoria Falls, Africa

This is perhaps the best possible way I could think of to celebrate my first anniversary ass a published author - it was fun to have the chance to get to know some new readers, and I loved that I got to interact in a new way with established readers! Part of the party or not, it's never too late to participate - leave me a comment below and let me know which of my chosen hiding spots would be highest on your travel bucket list!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Book Review: The Jewel Box, by C. Michelle McCarty

A mouthy small town girl takes on big city life assisted by her "Spiritual guide through sin city" who pulls a Professor Higgins on Cherie while offering advice on single parenting and multiple affairs of the heart ...

Back in the sixties while Motown hits filled the airwaves, naive Jill Novak acknowledged her knack for choosing losers when boring Husband Number One vanished, leaving her to support their two-year-old. The perpetual daydreamer soon morphs from small town Jill to sophisticated big city Cherie, but a new name does not a better future bring.

In 1969 Houston, Cherie encounters a rogue's gallery of characters unlike those from her small Texas hometown; a drop-dead gorgeous transsexual, a snarling wannabe Mafia hit-man, a hairy cop who incorporates fondling girls into his job, and a ditzo neighbor whose desire for friendship borders on stalking. But it is two distinctly different men - a middle aged gregarious gambler and a twenty-something gruff intellectual -  who jump on board her turbulent thirty-year roller coaster ride and journey with her into the 21st Century and womanhood.

A tough and tender Texas-sized romance with a mild metaphysical slant, The Jewel Box highlights moments from the metaphysical, laid-back Age of Aquarius through the materialistic, high-speed Internet era. Music and references to the times/political climate convey the nation's rocky terrain (and subsequent growth) parallel with that of the main character. This is a story of an engaging and open-hearted woman with no plan, making her way through life by fits and starts, and ultimately succeeding by turning out to be stronger than she thought.

My Review
Based on the cover and the blurb, I'd have probably said, "Sounds good, but not for me." I picked this book up by request, but I was hooked within the first chapter and finished the book completely in love with half the characters. Jill's transition to "Cherie" is early on in the story accompanied by an adventure that takes her pretty far out of her comfort zone. And from there on out, her life comes in fits of happiness, moments of rage, and times of quiet, happy tranquility.

In a conversational style, Ms McCarty takes us on a adventure through the highlights of Cherie's life, leaving out the bland but bringing us face to face with the emotional moments that make Cherie who she is. Full of beautiful prose, talented writing, and lovable characters, this book is definitely a keeper. Were it a paperback I'd been asked to read, it would easily have earned a permanent place on my over-filled bookshelf, but as I received the book by Kindle gift, I'm pleased to say that I'll be reading this one again someday and have already recommended it to friends.

Sometimes, branching out of your typical reading zone really pays off, and it definitely paid off with The Jewel Box. Five Stars, and well worth the time spent.

Want to get to know this author's work too? Check her out: Amazon / Facebook

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

One Year Later

One year ago today, I was basking in the thrill of having finally written a novel - a full-length novel that I loved and was proud of, with characters that I loved and related to, and a story line that I ... well, that I loved.

One year ago today, I uploaded a file to Amazon and I clicked publish. I anguished over keywords. I sat back in disappointment when I saw that little KDP alert that basically says, "We know you're really excited and this is a huge step for you, but hey, how 'bout waiting another 8-12 hours before other people can see your work?"

One year ago today, I refreshed my KDP bookshelf like a maniac all day long, waiting for my book's status to switch to "live".

One year ago today, my childhood dream of becoming an author technically came true. But I say technically because there's a lot more to being an author than self-publishing one title.

In the past twelve months, I've taken that first novel down, doubled it, and reintroduced it to the world. I now have five active titles, five novels made up of characters close to my heart and stories so completely personal that even I can't tell you how many times or how many ways they intersect with my real life.

In the past twelve months, I've given countless interviews to various bloggers, I've joined Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and YouTube, among other sites. I've connected with bloggers, readers, reviewers, and other book lovers from all over the world. I've connected with other indie authors, and I've made friendships I think will last far into the future.

One year ago today I clicked publish for the first time, but it was just during these last twelve months that I really became an author. My life has changed in ways I can't even explain. I've gotten to know myself so much better, and I've gained amazing clarity in the aspect of knowing where I want my life to go.

As the new year approaches and a fresh start is in front of all of us, I'd like to thank all of you for coming along on this journey with me - for reading my books, for reviewing them, for sharing them with your friends, and for all of your support in so many different avenues that it would take too long to list them all here.

Thank You.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Book Review: Love And The Goddess, by Mary Elizabeth Coen

The Blurb
'Sex and the City' meets 'Eat, Pray, Love' in a search for love & meaning.

Love & the Goddess: One woman, One myth, Three Goddesses

A woman's voyage of self discovery begins on the internet leading all the way to Brazil and onto the Andean highlands of Peru.

Devastated from her relationship break- up, Kate Canavan is at a loss until she re-discovers a hidden painting of the triple Goddess from Greek mythology. Her interest in mythology and spirituality is re-ignited. A voyage of self discovery begins with internet dating using the names of each of the Goddesses in the triple myth. 

When a health scare intervenes Kate and her friends go together to visit a famous healer in Brazil and a spiritual guru in Peru, where all three friends begin spiritual journeys of forgiveness, gratitude and learning to live in the now.

My Review
For me, this was a slow but pleasant read. It wasn't something that whipped me into a reading frenzy, but that's okay because it wasn't meant to. The story follows Kate Canavan as she struggles to cope and heal from the loss of her marriage to Trevor, a cheating, controlling, jerk that I didn't like right from the very beginning of the story.

In her search for emotional and spiritual healing, Kate travels through bits of South America -- and several different dating sites -- meeting lots of new people and learning more about herself than most of us learn in all our lives. Supported by a cast of quirky friends and family members, Kate feels real, though she is, at times, a bit uncomfortably self-aware. Still, her self-awareness causes the reader to relate, and to look inward in ways that perhaps have not been experienced before.

This story beautifully expresses Kate's journey to self-acceptance and her realization that "alone" doesn't have to mean "lonely," and while there were characters I downright hated in this story, I can say happily that Kate wasn't one of them. I loved watching her date around, experimenting with who she was and who she wanted to be even as she experimented with dating different types of men. In the end, I liked watching Kate become who she became, and I found myself smiling as I read the epilogue, completely pleased with the end of the story.

Four Stars.

Want to check this author out for yourself? Do it here: AmazonWebsite / Twitter / Goodreads

Monday, December 9, 2013

Book Review: Turning Angel, by Greg Iles

The Blurb
Turning Angel marks the long-awaited return of Penn Cage, the lawyer hero of The Quiet Game, and introduces Drew Elliott, the highly respected doctor who saved Penn's life in a hiking accident when they were boys. As two of the most prominent citizens of Natchez, Drew and Penn sit on the school board of their alma mater, St. Stephen's Prep. When the nude body of a young female student is found near the Mississippi River, the entire community is shocked -- but no one more than Penn, who discovers that his best friend was entangled in a passionate relationship with the girl and may be accused of her murder.

On the surface, Kate Townsend seems the most unlikely murder victim imaginable. A star student and athlete, she'd been accepted to Harvard and carried the hope and pride of the town on her shoulders. But like her school and her town, Kate also had a secret life -- one about which her adult lover knew little. When Drew begs Penn to defend him, Penn allows his sense of obligation to override his instinct and agrees. Yet before he can begin, both men are drawn into a dangerous web of blackmail and violence. Drew reacts like anything but an innocent man, and Penn finds himself doubting his friend's motives and searching for a path out of harm's way. 

More dangerous yet is Shad Johnson, the black district attorney whose dream is to send a rich white man to death row in Mississippi. At Shad's order, Drew is jailed, the police cease hunting Kate's killer, and Penn realizes that only by finding Kate's murderer himself can he save his friend's life. 

With his daughter's babysitter as his guide, Penn penetrates the secret world of St. Stephen's, a place that parents never see, where reality veers so radically from appearance that Penn risks losing his own moral compass. St. Stephen's is a dark mirror of the adult world, one populated by steroid-crazed jocks, girls desperate for attention, jaded teens flirting with nihilism, and hidden among them all -- one true psychopath. It is Penn's journey into the heart of his alma mater that gives Turning Angel its hypnotic power, for on that journey he finds that the intersection of the adult and nearly adult worlds is a dangerous place indeed. By the time Penn arrives at the shattering truth behind Kate Townsend's death, his quiet Southern town will never be the same.

My Review
This book was absolutely amazing. Although it is not the first in the Penn Cage books, I had no trouble keeping track of the characters or following their various back stories. Turning Angel isn't my first Greg Iles read, either, and I have to say, I am seriously loving his style. His character dialogue feels real and natural, the interaction between characters feels life-like and entirely possible, and the characters themselves are well-planned and beautifully rendered.

Turning Angel is a hefty volume for some readers, with over 600 pages, but I seriously devoured this book in about three days of marathon reading. The plot drew me in immediately, the writing itself was perfectly descriptive without being too much or too little. The blurb describes the story well, so I won't go into too much detail on that, but seriously ... wow. Just wow. I will be looking forward to another Greg Iles book as soon as I can fit one into my schedule.

Five Stars. You have GOT to Buy This Book.

Want To Follow Greg As Much As I Do? Check out the following links: Facebook / Amazon / Website / Twitter