Book Reviews

I Live in the “New Loneliness”

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In her article This is the New Loneliness Jamie Varon focuses on the Millennial Generation. She categorizes them as both the most and least connected generation, due to their inherent, almost organic, use of social media.

I believe millennials have a arrested interpersonal communication skills, simply as a result of being born into a technology-dependent culture.  Communication requires “doing.” As children, millenials were not encouraged to physically be present. Most of their play needs were met by technology. So, it is unfair to paint them as disconnected.  They connect differently.  Social media, rather than face-to-face interactions, is their preferred vehicle.

Ms. Varon overlooked the original disconnected generation – Generation X. 

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We were latchkey kids. Loneliness was ingrained in our lives.  Sure we participated in every activity we wanted to, but most of us held a piece of ourselves back – a self-preservation piece.

These early experiences served us well as we entered an unpredictable, and sometimes volatile work environment, vastly different from the generations that preceded us.  The days of a life-long career with one company ended, just as we came of age.  So we became latchkey adults.

Social media paired nicely with Generation X, because it allowed us that “separation” we learned in childhood.  Technology offered the buffer against anonymity. We were still communicating, just indirectly.

I work primarily from home, so I have limited contact with others. And, even though I prefer to work alone, I genuinely miss the everyday interactions among coworkers in an office.  

Sometimes, I force…no…motivate myself to physically interact with other people.  As a natural “loner” and “homebody,” this is as unnatural and outside my comfort zone, as it gets.

Additionally, I am an extroverted introvert, suffering from clinical depression. Not only do I have to psych myself up to “participate,” I then need several days within my soul cave to regroup and recharge.

The paradox for me has been that even though social media is  “artificial” (as in manmade, rather than preexisting) I am still myself when I am online.  Some people create entirely new personas and lives. I did not and have not. Regardless of the clever nicknames I take on, given the site, my personality remains intact. Acting as someone else, is just not in my skill set.

Missing in technology-based interactions are the subtleties of speech, inflection and body language.  For someone who joyfully wields sarcasm and dark humor, this is a slippery slope.  Not only have I written/said things that were not understood as I had intended, I too have felt the string of a poorly worded online barb.

And, those words that are carelessly hurled around under the guise of anonymity? Those words injure, sometimes fatally. They bring the loneliness to a level that surpasses having a “dark/gloomy” or even “sad” day. Social media gives us the liberty to erect  invisible walls to hide safely behind.

The key is to peek over the wall, open the gate and talk to our neighbors…but it’s easier and quicker to just text them, isn’t it?

4-Enchanted Stars for A.D. Marrow’s “Love and Other Cosmic Nonsense” – Book Review

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Marrow-Love_and_Other_Cosmic_Nonsense
Image used with permission by the author.

Breaking it off with her long-time non-magical boyfriend, Evan, was for his own good. At least that’s what Maggie Owen tells herself. After all, a witch and a human can have no future together. Her vision told her so. But now it seems the universe is exacting revenge for upsetting the balance of what “should be” and her heart is telling her she was wrong. 

Evan Jackson can’t believe his bad luck. It’s been a year since Maggie broke his heart, and now his business partner has hired her as their new receptionist. Fine, they need the help. But no way will he let her get close again. He can’t take another heartbreak from the woman he still dreams about, even if it feels like there’s still a magical pull between them. 

Being in the same building with Evan is a start, but it’s going to take more than Maggie’s special talents and a wink to get the hard-hearted bad-boy to see that love is really more than just cosmic nonsense and set the universe back into balance. 

 

My Review:

Take Bewitched, mix in a little Miami Ink For a Bewitching Debut – 4 Enchanted Stars

Disclaimer: While I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author for an honest review, I enjoyed the book so much I purchased it for my ebookshelf.

This lovers-reunited novella, found Maggie Owen accepting a job at the very tattoo shop co-owned by her ex-boyfriend, Evan Jackson. In a cosmically ironic turn of events, their reunion was the impetus they needed to face their strong feelings for each other and the reasons for their breakup. There were several naughty, but not overtly explicit, sex scenes, that pulled readers in, as Maggie and Evan’s personal barriers were torn down and their mutual desire heated up. They had to look past their surface attraction, to the deep feelings underneath and both learned to accept the other’s gifts, including Maggie’s magical connection.

Annabel, Maggie’s sister and Liam, Evan’s business partner and friend, rounded out the cast and there were hints of a possible love match for Liam in future books. These secondary characters were even funnier and snarkier than the lead characters. My favorite quote was delivered by Annabel as she described Evan, “Maggie, the man looks like Aphrodite and David Gandy had a love baby. He loves art and building stuff. He likes puppies. He volunteers at a soup kitchen. His favorite movie is Love Actually for heaven’s sake.” (Marrow, A. D. (2014-03-24). Love and Other Cosmic Nonsense (Entangled Covet) (Kindle Locations 246-247). Entangled Publishing, LLC. Kindle Edition.) Who wouldn’t fall for a tattooed good boy, like that?

My only note was that the story was too short. I know A.D. Marrow planned to continue the series but this reader would have enjoyed some flashbacks to the characters’ “meet cute,” “first date,” or “first sex scene.” The length did not detract from the story – I just wanted more! However, fans of Entangled books will be pleasantly surprised with at least one cameo from another author’s popular MMA fighter series.

I look forward to Ms. Marrow’s future books and recommend Love and Other Cosmic Nonsense (Entangled Covet) for those days when you need a short, sweet and funny happily ever after to curl up with on a cold or rainy day.

Review links: Amazon and Goodreads.

 

About the Author:

Author A.D. Marrow
Author A.D. Marrow

A.D Marrow is a  a registered Sapiophile, a proud Geek since before Geek was chic and believes that everyone deserves a happily ever after. She lives in the foothills of North Carolina with her ridiculously hot and amazingly supportive husband, three kids that rock so hard there should be a national holiday for their awesomeness, two really stupid dogs and a plethora of Post-it notes with book ideas to last her until she’s 90.

Her childhood dream is realized in the fact that YOU have cause to read her bio. She hopes that one day, it lends her enough credibility to live out her second dream, which is to write an episode of “Doctor Who.

Her personal mantra echoes that of Morticia Adams; “Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.”

You can find A.D. on her websiteFacebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Top Ten Things Not to Do If Your Book Gets a Negative Review

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I added my own advice as a reader who pays close attention to ALL reviews, and is a member of several Street Teams.  Do not send your Street Team to harass ANY reviewer, “dislike” or “vote down,” and/or leave “helpful comments” for the reviewer. Do not post an angry rant on your Facebook page or blog, decrying negative reviews. Say nothing. Do nothing. It all reflects back on the author and her/his good/poor judgment.

1WriteWay

Here is the 36th installment of Ten Top Lists of What Not to Do by Marie Ann Bailey of 1WriteWay at http://1writeway.com and John W. Howell of Fiction Favorites at http://johnwhowell.com. These lists are simu-published on our blogs each Monday. We hope you enjoy.
Rate this book!
10.  If your book gets a negative review, do not read the review, especially if the rating is one star.  At best, the reviewer will admit the review is based on having read only a couple of pages of your book and you can chide yourself for even bothering to read one word of the review.  At worst, you will read the review so many times  you can quote it by heart, begin to believe it, and eventually get one star tattooed on your back to atone for imagined errors in your career choice.

9.  If your book gets a negative review, do not respond…

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5-Stars for Hayson Manning’s “Winning the Boss’s Heart” – Book Review

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Manning-winning-bosss-heartMason Christian has twelve weeks to flip something old into something new, and then he’s getting the hell out of Footsteps Bay – a tiny New Zealand coastal town. Not even his temporary secretary and personal assistant–the feisty, luscious Billie McLeod–will deter him, but there’s no denying she makes him feel alive. More alive than he’s felt in three years…
Billie has one dream: save enough money to finish her degree. That’s why she’s agreed to work for hard ass, all-business-no-pleasure Mason Christian–a man who has every intention of destroying through modernization the town’s most cherished historical home. Before she can say ‘see ya’ she’s signed on the dotted line and is contractually bound to be Mason’s forty-second assistant. But working with male perfection every day is awesome with a capital A–as long as they can stick to a hands-off policy that gets harder every day…

My Review

42 Gives Magic Man the Last Offer He Will Ever Refuse

With her second book, Winning the Boss’s Heart, Hayson Manning took us to her beautiful home country of New Zealand.   Set in the bucolic coastal town of Footsteps Bay, Mason Christian hired Billie McLeod to work as his personal assistant on a project he hoped would be completed quickly.

Billie was a heroine who knew her own worth.   After suffering some personal setbacks, she was saving money to finish her degree, and working for Mason seemed like the fastest way to earn the most money.   She fearlessly challenged Mason and the sarcastic nicknames she created for him, were inspired.  Nothing like treating the boss with the same impersonal disdain, as he treated his employees.

Mason was a deeply broken man, sublimating his emotions in his work and keeping people at arm’s length.   As his feelings for Billie grew, he was forced to confront some painful events from his past.   Little did Mason know that fate would intervene, to give him a compelling second chance at love story.  Ms. Manning beautifully constructed and sensitively handled, Mason’s heartbreaking past.

Billie and Mason’s interactions ran the gamut of emotions from trepidation, to antagonism, to friendship, and finally, acceptance, and love.  Lovingly meddlesome townsfolk and growing spicy, sexy action rounded out this terrific story.

With Wife in Name Only, Hayson Manning became a must-read author for me.   After, Winning the Boss’s Heart, she became a must-preorder or must-1-click author for me.     I highly recommend her books for well-developed characters, richly illustrated locations and secondary characters and multilayered storytelling,

Links to my review on Amazon and Goodreads.

About the Author

Author Hayson ManningHayson Manning grew up in a small New Zealand town in a family of scientists and engineers Hayson was told firmly that her ‘day dreaming’ phase would end. Soon, she’d be entranced by the inner workings of the periodic table and be spellbound by quantum physics. But Hayson loved living in the lands she created. Oh, the creatures that stopped by. The princes and princesses, unicorns and Frank a friendly chain-smoking shark.

It soon became apparent Hayson wasn’t going to be awarded the Nobel Prize for services to the atom.

She conformed and has worked as a demon word processor, sliced ham in a delicatessen, sorted freight, pulled midnight shifts in a bank and counted baked bean cans in a stock-take. She never stopped dreaming of writing alpha dudes and sassy woman.

She’s lived in Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne, London, California and is now in Sydney. All she ever wanted to do was write fun and flirty people who aren’t perfect but will fight for that one person who will love them for who they are.

Represented by Nalini Akolekar of Spencerhill Associates, that dream has come true, writing for Entangled Publishing. She loves a good glass of wine, dreams of winning the lottery, cries while watching Antiques Roadshow and cannot speak she’s sobbing so much by the end of Undercover Boss. She is also an expert at finding new and inventive ways to avoid exercise.

Find out more about Hayson on her website, follow her on Twitter and like her Facebook page.  She loves to hear from her fans.

5-Stars for Gina L. Maxwell’s “Fighting for Irish” – Book Review

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Maxwell-Fighting For IrishFormer MMA fighter Aiden “Irish” O’Brien hasn’t stepped into the ring since he accidentally took someone’s life in the heat of rage. When his friend calls in a favor that sends him south to check on family, Irish figures he’s got nothing to lose. His life is on the ropes. The least he can do is make sure the sexy redhead is safe.

Kat MacGregor has forty-eight hours to settle the twenty thousand dollar debt her deadbeat ex-boyfriend owes a crime boss. If she doesn’t, she’ll pay for it–with her life. Kat’s halfway out the door when a sexy new guy walks into the bar and insists he’s there to help.

Irish is forced to fight in the underground MMA circuit to win the money she needs. But he’s been lying to Kat. About who he is, about knowing her sister, about why he comes home bruised every night. She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to him, but breaking her trust will cost him the most important fight of his life: the one for her heart.

My Review:

Like Irish’s favorite cranberry juice – Fighting for Irish (A Fighting for Love Novel) (Entangled Brazen) was a bitter, sweet, tart and delicious 5 stars!

We learned about Kat MacGregor, Vanessa MacGregor’s sister, in Rules of Entanglement (A Fighting for Love Novel) (Entangled Brazen). Kat’s upbringing, tough at best and cripplingly devastating at its worst, left her with deep emotional scars and a protective covering around her heart. She was on the run from the Tennessee Mafia and unable to communicate with Vanessa. A worried Vanessa, led Kat’s soon-to-be brother-in-law, Jax, to hire his friend Aiden O’Brien “Irish”, to find, follow and if need be, protect her, in Fighting for Irish.

Irish, a retired MMA fighter, was also hiding a tortured past and despite their best efforts their mutual attraction brought them closer. Together the tore down each other’s walls, brick by brick, exposing more deep seeded pain and allowing the possibility of love to blossom. Both Kat and Irish were beautifully broken characters who deserved healing, forgiveness and the opportunity at happily ever after, as they faced their pasts.

In true Gina L. Maxwell fashion, the sex was explosive. However, the slow, deliberate, yet gentle, buildup to their lovemaking was handled with care, respect and sensitivity for two characters who believed they were unlovable. Ms. Maxwell’s pacing of their relationship, amid the suspense, was impeccable. Of the three books in the series, Fighting for Irish was the most poignantly moving.

While Fighting for Irish, may be read as a standalone novel, I highly recommend reading the first two books in the series – Seducing Cinderella (A Fighting for Love Novel) (Entangled Brazen) and Rules of Entanglement, to get a complete sense of the previous relationships and characters that brought Kat and Irish together. In addition, I am looking forward to reading Xander’s story, as he will be another tough nut to crack, and deserves his own ladylove.

About the Author:

Gina L. Maxwell is a shameless romance addict with no intentions of ever kicking the habit.

Gina L Maxwell promo photoGrowing up she dreamed of helping people escape reality with her acting abilities…until college when she realized she had none to speak of.   Another ten years passed before she discovered a different means to accomplishing the same dream: writing stories of love and passion for addicts just like her.  Her debut novel, Seducing Cinderella, landed on the USA Today and NY Times Bestseller lists in less than a month.

Now she splits her time between writing more books and acting as Boss of the world’s first organized romance mafia, the Maxwell Mob.Thanks to the support she receives from her amazing family, Gina is finally able to live her dream of bringing a little romantic fantasy to the world, one steamy novel at a time.

Find out more about Gina on her website, follow her on Twitter, and Pinterest and like her Facebook page.

5-Stars and 2 Snaps in Z-Formation for Avery Flynn’s “High-Heeled Wonder” – Book Review

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Flynn-HighHeeledWonderSylvie Bissette may be one of Harbor City’s youngest glitterati, but only her best friends know her most closely guarded secret. She’s the woman behind The High-Heeled Wonder, the newest must-read blog for fashionistas everywhere. Gossip, fashion advice, exposés. Too bad some people can’t take a little criticism. When an internet troll discovers her secret identity, Sylvie turns to security expert Tony Falcon for help. The investigator from the other side of the tracks is the olive oil to her Evian water, but it’s not just her temper he’s inciting…

Tony Falcon wouldn’t know a kitten heel from a tabby cat, but since most of the bad guys he tracks down aren’t wearing stilettos, it’s never been a problem…until he meets Sylvie. The feisty fashionista may be his best chance at catching the criminals responsible for his best friend’s murder. But solving that case means going after the people Sylvie cares about, and soon the attraction—and the danger—has him wondering if solving the case is worth hurting the woman he can’t stop fantasizing about …

When Sylvie’s stalker escalates from sending nasty e-mails to trying to run her over in broad daylight, Tony goes undercover as Sylvie’s boyfriend to infiltrate the close-knit fashion community. In a world full of overblown egos and cut-throat ambition, Tony and Sylvie must work together to find her revenge-obsessed stalker before Sylvie ends up with a literal knife in the back.

My Review:

Bogie Meets Gracie Lou Freebush and they “Make it Work”

Sylvie Bissette was the mastermind behind the popular, “High-Heeled Wonder,” a blog that exposed all of the fashion industry’s dirty little, and not so little, secrets.   Her scoops garnered her huge a fan base, the ire of both a magazine’s editor-in-chief and a self-absorbed, talentless designer and her very own cyberstalker.   This troll indicated he/she would stop at nothing to reveal Sylvie’s identity and take down her blog.

After a very public attempt on her life, she relented to having Tony Falcon, former cop turned security expert, pose as her boyfriend to discover who was threatening her.    At the same time, he was trying to track down the criminals who killed his best friend.   Tony, who never had a problem maintaining his distance from his charges, met his match in feisty Sylvie, who was determined to “help” with the investigation.    As the threats against Sylvie escalated, so did Tony’s innate need to protect her.   The more time they spent together, the more problematic their mutual attraction became.   When they finally gave in to temptation, it culminated in a fully clothed, sultry exploration that only heightened their appetite for each other.

Clues were pieced together to deduce the identity of the perpetrator, while Sylvie and Tony continued to become close.  He narrowed down the list of suspects.  Unfortunately, that list included people Sylvie cared deeply for.  Hell-bent on retribution, yet blinded by hurt, Tony uttered one of the most touching boy-loses-girl lines “You’re going to hate me later.  You will and when you do, promise you’ll give me the chance to fix it,” as he broke Sylvie’s heart – along with his own.

Like a delightful visit to Imelda Marcos’ legendary shoe closet, High-heeled Wonder (A Killer Style Novel) (Entangled Ignite) took readers on a sexy, chick lit ride worthy of early Helen Fielding or Sophie Kinsella.   Additionally, Avery Flynn added classic thriller plot twists, thrills and surprises.  Her characters were multi-layered, balanced and intelligent.  Sylvie was a fully developed, professional woman who overcame a tragic childhood and Tony was the wounded alpha, with a heart of gold, who needed her to begin to heal.  A colorful and motley crew of secondary characters – their families, friends, and coworkers, provided further action, suspense and comic relief.

Both my inner fashionista and nerd girl appreciated the references to the fashion industry, as well as, the nod to Doctor Who and the gaming world.   High-heeled Wonder (A Killer Style Novel) (Entangled Ignite) earns an old-school, Men on Film, two-snaps in Z-Formation and my recommendation as a great book to curl up with on a cold winter’s day.  I look forward to Ms. Flynn’s next book.

Disclaimer:  I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.   Then purchased the book for my private library.

About the Author:

Author Avery FlynnAvery Flynn has three slightly-wild children, loves a hockey-addicted husband and is desperately hoping someone invents the coffee IV drip.

She fell in love with romance while reading Johanna Lindsey’s Mallory books. It wasn’t long before Avery had read through all the romance offerings at her local library. Needing a romance fix, she turned to Harlequin’s four books a month home delivery service to ease the withdrawal symptoms. That worked for a short time, but it wasn’t long before the local book stores’ staffs knew her by name.

Avery was a reader before she was a writer and hopes to always be both. She loves to write about smartass alpha heroes who are as good with a quip as they are with their *ahem* other God-given talents. Her heroines are feisty, fierce and fantastic. Brainy and brave, these ladies know how to stand on their own two feet and knock the bad guys off theirs.

Find out more about Avery on her website, follow her on Twitter and Pinterest, and like her on her Facebook page.  Also, if you figure out how to send Oreos through the Internet, she’ll be your best friend for life.

5-Stars for Robin Covington’s “Sweet Southern Betrayal” – Book Review

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Covington-Sweet Southern BetrayalPrivileged and ambitious attorney Teague Elliott is on the fast-track to getting everything he wants. All he has to do is stay on the straight and narrow and a high-profile political career is his for the taking. Until he wakes up naked with a Vegas showgirl…

Risa Clay has worked hard to put her showgirl past behind her and start fresh. But she owes ten grand to the wrong people, and to pay off her debt, she agrees to betray a stranger. . .but she ends up with a husband and guilty conscience.

Savvy and determined, she double-crosses the mob, goes on the run, and turns up on Teague’s doorstep armed with a dangerous secret, a marriage license, and the power to ruin his well-planed future. She thought using Teague again would be easy, but the passion that exploded between them in Vegas didn’t stay in Sin City and betrayal is the last thing on her mind.
Now Teague has to choose between the future he’s planned for all his life, or the one with Risa that he can’t turn away from.

My Review: 

“Messy is where the good stuff lives.” ~ Risa Clay

Sweet Southern Betrayal: A Boys Are Back in Town Novel (Entangled Indulgence), the third book of Robin Covington’s “Boys are Back in Town” series, featured attorney, Teague Elliot.  Known as a “fixer” among the elite power brokers of Washington D.C., he worked at one of the most prestigious firms and had political aspirations.  He stayed away from anything he considered “messy,” like relationships.  While attending his sister, Taylor’s wedding to his best friend, Lucky, in Las Vegas, he met redheaded bombshell, Risa Clay – his new showgirl wife.  His showgirl wife who owned a side business selling tasteful “marital aids.”  Not exactly the ideal woman for a man with dreams of living in the White House.  Everything about Risa was “messy.”  And personal.  And amazing.

They agreed to keep their marriage a secret.  Unfortunately, secrets have a way of taking on a life of their own, and soon Teague’s family, friends and colleagues found out about Risa.  As beautiful as she was on the outside, Risa was even lovelier on the inside.  She immediately tried to protect Teague from the possible repercussions of their Vegas nuptials, and knowingly placed herself directly in harm’s way.

At its core, Sweet Southern Betrayal was an “opposites attract” story, but as the layers were peeled away, we learned that both Risa and Teague were survivors.  They saw the dreams they never believed could be realized, in and with, each other.    It required that they to look past their set life plans, and into an unknown, unexpected and uncontrollable future.   How they navigated it was beautifully crafted, through self-doubt, heartbreak, betrayal, forgiveness, and the possibility of love.  In addition to some very steamy sex.

Many series have recurring characters that make cameo appearances, but Ms. Covington created a deep connection between the four friends – Teague, Lucky, Jack and Beck – that was itself another fully developed character.   The men formed a bond in childhood that sustained them through personal and professional successes and failures.   Ms. Covington took that circle of friendship and expanded it, as each man found love, and their family of friends grew.

While each book may be read as a stand-alone novel, I highly encourage readers to read A Night of Southern Comfort (The Boys are Back in Town Series) (Entangled Indulgence) and His Southern Temptation (The Boys are Back in Town Series) (Entangled Indulgence).  Ms. Covington is writing Beck’s book and it promises to be as emotional, entertaining and hot, as the rest of the series.

Disclaimer: While I received an ARC of this book for an honest review, I purchased it for my “Boys are Back in Town” Collection.

About the Author:

Author Robin Covington

Robin Covington, who NYT Best Selling authors, Robyn Carr and Carly Phillips, said was their new “auto-buy author”, writes sizzling hot contemporary and paranormal romance.

A Night of Southern Comfort, her best-selling debut novel was a 2012 finalist in the RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Awards, earned 4.5 stars and was touted by RT Book Reviews as bringing a “fresh, modern feel to the genre while still sticking to the things that get our adrenaline pumping — sex and danger”. When she’s not exploring the theme of fooling around and falling in love, she’s collecting tasty man candy, indulging in a little comic book geek love, and stalking Joe Manganiello.

Robin is a member of the Romance Writers of America, the Washington and Maryland Romance Writers, a faculty member at Romance University, a member of the Waterworld Mermaids, and a contributor to the Happy Ever After blog at USA Today. You can find Robin on her website, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter (@RobinCovington).

Robin lives in Maryland with her hilarious husband, brilliant children, and ginormous puppies.

So Long 2013, I’m Leaving You.

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2013 sucked2013 was filled with lessons.  I learned to listen to my inner voice and my true self more than ever.  I also learned there were things that I was not meant to conquer.  While I was temporarily upset, I ultimately felt elated.  The weight was removed from my chest and I was able to breathe again.  It was empowering.  Sometimes the best lessons learned are those associated with loss.  They may be painful, and show us parts of ourselves we may not be comfortable or satisfied with, but the mirror they hold up to us reflects reality, and helps us move forward.  Grieve, for what was lost,  if we must.  Then grin, as we say, “Whew! Time to try something new.”

Books were my constant companions and led me to amazing friendships with readers, authors and bloggers.  These authors’ words helped me through a year of personal and professional failure.   They provided bright spots on bleak days and a few moments of escape, while I regrouped.  I will be forever grateful.

My “daughters,” Kristen and Sammy, and I solidified our bond and I look forward to meeting them in a few short months.  They are some of the strongest women I know and unbelievable examples of motherhood.  I thank Julie Richman for writing the books that brought Kristen and Sammy into my life.

Hayson Manning’s books brought this sumptuous Kiwi goddess into my life.   She has been an amazing Facebook pen pal, whom I hope to meet someday soon.  We have a date on a beautiful island in the South Pacific to sip frosty beverages and ogle gorgeous, shirtless, alpha men.  For research purposes, of course.

Julie Leto, whose work I have admired for many years, joined the ranks of independently published authors with her Dirty Dare novellas, which have recently been released as one novel Dirty Dare (Sexy Suspense Novel).   She has been writing intelligent, strong female characters for many years and I highly recommend her work.   (I hope I don’t lose my fangirl mind, when I meet her in 2014, for café con leche.  I really have loved her, since the old Blaze days at Harlequin.  And, I do mean old days.)

Military romances, a longtime passion of mine, also featured predominantly in 2013 and I read books by Heather Long, Tonya Burrows, Kelsie Leverich, Bella JuarezJeanette Murray Melissa Schroeder, Laura Kaye, Kaylea Cross, Cristin HarberJ.M. Madden, Tawny Weber and Ann Mayburn.    Many featured Veterans finding, and keeping love, while dealing with the aftermath of their service, like PTSD and injuries sustained in combat.   These women write with an understanding and deep respect for men and women in uniform and I am excited to read their offerings in 2014.

Towards the end of the year, I “discovered” Robin CovingtonAvery Flynn and Kimberly Kincaid or the “Man Warriors.”  I was drawn to their quick, yet snarky, senses of humor and began to read their books.  I was not disappointed, as their characters reflected each one’s unique style and attention to character development.

My paranormal “jones” was satisfied by Shelly Laurenston, Rosanna Leo, Milly Taiden, R.E. ButlerLauren DaneAlexandra Ivy, Lauren Wright, Laura KayeHeather Long and Christine Warren.   Wolves, big cats and bears…oh my!   Last, but not least, were Gina Maxwell who made tough, tattooed MMA fighters lovable and Tymber DaltonJoey W. Hill and Cherise Sinclair, who have known how to push my “envelope” just right, for years.

24384685-happy-new-year-2014-replace-2013-concept-on-the-sea-beachMy other constant companions were Hubby and our K9 kids.  They kept me sane, grounded and made me laugh when I could not and smile when I thought I would drown in my tears.   I am blessed to have them in my life.  Hubby, your gentleness, strength and patience knows no bounds.  I love you more today, than the day I married you.

So 2013, I bid thee adieu.  Don’t let the door hit you on the ass, on the way out.  You will not be missed.

Why Hello, 2014…you’re a sexy beast.  Sit right down here and let’s get to know each other, shall we?

Marketing Books Effectively in the ebook Era

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Marketing Books Effectively in the ebook Era

Penny Sansevieri summarized trends that authors need to understand, in order to remain competitive in a changing digital age.  Everything you write, how you interact with readers and how many products you release are part of your brand.  Be sure they all present a cohesive picture.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 20

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Guest-Blogger
Stop in and leave a note.

When I started this blog I needed an outlet for my feelings.  Not only has the experience been cathartic, it has given me the opportunity to read other bloggers’ thoughts.  But, the unexpected blessing has been the thought-provoking discussions I have had with people all over the world.  Over time, I my readership numbers steadily increased, and I started to find my voice.   Thank you for taking the journey alongside me.

Today is about you.  Whether you focus on books, humor and satire, fashion, or life, please leave a post with your name, the name of your blog and a brief description of it.  This post is a forum to celebrate your blogs and pay it forward.

Book Review and Trailer – “Moore to Lose” by Julie A. Richman

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Followers of this blog will recognize Julie Richman’s name as the author who knocked my socks off with her debut novel, Searching for Moore.   My review, on July 11th, was one of the most organic posts I have written, since starting this blog.    Julie’s words inspired a friendship between Kristen, Samantha, Cleida and I that culminated in the Searching for Moore Book Trailer, on July 23rd.    These relationships have continued to evolve and I am proud to count these women among my dear friends.

Julie and I stayed up countless nights this Summer analyzing publishing trends, discussing the merits of stand-alone books versus book series, realizing that we had worked at similar agencies at different points in our careers and bonding over her “Needing Moore” series.   I knew she was writing a follow-up book to Searching for Moore, but was conflicted.  She originally intended to write two books for the series, not three.   However, her characters, namely Mia Silver, guided her into writing a beautifully, heart-breaking second book:  Moore to Lose.   Julie received advice from many “experts” in the publishing world, who told her not to write this book.    What the “experts” failed to realize, was that when Julie’s characters spoke to her, she listened.   And wrote.

Then she shared her words with Mom Richman, Kristen, Cleida, Samantha and I.

After reading Moore to Lose I was speechless.  Breathless and hyperventilating, I cried.   I was unprepared for the myriad of emotions and memories it would trigger in me.  It was a deeply personal experience, for I have known Mia my entire life.   I have been Mia.

Moore to Lose focused on Mia’s journey. We already knew she was not the typical, innocent ingénue – she was a tough New York City girl.  This story showed us the dichotomy of the sweet teenager versus maturing young woman, in some of her early decisions. Decisions that many readers have made in their own lives – good, bad and ugly. Julie approached these events with great sensitivity, knowing how deeply the readers were invested in Mia’s happiness.

What Julie did not know was that as I was reading these incredibly difficult, gut-wrenching scenes, I was reliving events from my college days.   Events that were entirely too common for college women.  (Still are, unfortunately.)  As Mia continued on her life’s path, I revisited similar situations that my friends and I found ourselves in and our reactions to those situations.   As the story progressed, and Mia’s past caught up with her, my heart broke alongside hers.   Later, Julie placed Mia at the center of one of the most agonizingly painful events in recent history.   As Julie suffered writing those words, she crafted a grief-stricken, yet delicately fitting homage to her beloved NYC.  She should be proud of the way she honored her resplendent and resilient hometown.

Julie continued to weave the rich tapestry that became Moore to Lose by revisiting familiar secondary characters and using New York City as a vivid backdrop for the action.  In fact, NYC served as another character in the story and served as a touchstone for Mia’s voyage of self-discovery.    Julie further incorporated her trademark use of music and popular culture references as touchstones throughout the story. They helped mark the passage of time and kept Schooner with Mia, connected across the miles and years.

Moore to Lose is so much more than a “romance” novel. It is the story of a woman losing, finding, healing and honoring herself and her spirit. We fell in love with Mia in Searching for Moore. In Moore to Lose, we understand why we love her. As Mia lives her life, we live the experiences with her. Searching for Moore was a roller coaster ride of emotions. Moore to Lose took that ride, plunged it into complete darkness and added loops, spins and rolls.

Julie promised that all issues would be resolved in the third, and final, book in the Needing Moore series.  I will be anxiously waiting for that book, and highly recommend Moore to Lose, for readers who want rich characters who evoke tears, anger, joy, heartbreak, forgiveness, friendship, acceptance, and ultimately, love.

Here are the links to my reviews on Amazon and GoodReads.

In the meantime, please enjoy the Moore to Lose Book Trailer. 

Short and Sweet Praise for Hayson Manning

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It has been a while since I posted, partly because I am deep in my last semester of Nursing school.   But, mostly because I am exhausted.   Bone weary.  And yet, not defeated.

I must take a moment, however, and thank Hayson Manning for her latest book, Winning the Boss’ Heart.  This is Ms. Manning’s second novel and I highly recommend it.   Her heroine, Billie, is worth buying the book.  And, when you add in Mason, the tortured hero….well, just buy the book and read it.

However, this post is not a review of the book, which I loved.  I promise to post my review very soon.

No.  Really.  I promise.

Tonight I raise my Absolutely Dirty Martini glass to Hayson, the woman, herself.   She wrote some words that brought me to tears and tonight I read them again.  I needed to.   Those words helped me recharge my spirit batteries and re-energize my Girl Power Mojo.

So to my favorite female Kiwi, I say THANK YOU and Kia Ora, because I’m pretty sure it’s tomorrow on her side of the world.  You are incredibly dear to me, luv.

 

Book Review – “Feel the Rush: A Hard Feelings Novel” by Kelsie Leverich

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After a plethora of twenty-something-billionaire-meets-ingénue-have-kinky-sex-and-a-HEA books, it was a pleasant surprise to find Kelsie Leverich’s work. I became a fan after reading her debut novel The Valentine’s Arrangement. As the wife of a Gulf War-Era US Army Veteran, I was drawn to her story about a soldier and his ladylove, because it did not shy away from the complexities of loving a man (or woman) in the military. Ms. Leverich wrote from personal experiences, with attention to detail and a deep respect for our troops and veterans. I had high expectations for her second novel Feel the Rush: A Hard Feelings Novel.

Feel the Rush began with the unexpected reunion of lovers who had an unrestrained, steamy, once-in-a-lifetime, one-night-stand. Megan Mitchell, a nurse at an Army hospital, moved from New York to Georgia, started a new job and vowed to find “Mr. Safe.” The first man she met was her next-door neighbor, Reed Porter, an Airborne Jumpmaster and daredevil extraordinaire – the epitome of “Mr. Wrong,” whom she recognized immediately as her one-time lover, from eight years ago.

Reed, however, did not recognize Megan until she jarred his memory and the same inexplicable attraction they felt was rekindled. Each time they were together the sex was hot and became progressively hotter. Neither was expecting the level of intimacy they experienced as they let their protective walls down.

These were likable characters – people we know, possibly our friends, or versions of ourselves. Megan consistently chose men who were emotionally unavailable. Reed seemed to fall into that category. He was the bad boy in an Army uniform, with a heart of gold, but uninterested in the same type of commitment, as Megan. While they seemed perfectly matched, they were looking for different things out of a long-term relationship.

Ms. Leverich built the tension slowly, as the lovers rediscovered their connection. We became invested in Megan and Reed’s emotional journeys as individuals and as a couple. Then, life happened, proving that they lived in a very small world. Two plot twists blew me away, and served to intensify Megan and Reed’s already complicated and moving relationship. I wanted to wrap my arms around both of these characters at different points during the book.

The secondary characters were fully developed people who added to the story. Megan’s best friends Eva and Trevor supported and confronted her on her own failings, as real friends would. The camaraderie exhibited by Reed’s fellow soldiers clearly illustrated the bonds created by men in uniform, who perform dangerous jobs. The soldiers were multifaceted alpha men, who cared for each other as family, and played a part in bringing Megan and Reed together.

Feel the Rush was funny, sad, sexy, and deeply poignant. It surpassed my expectations and had me reaching for tissues on several occasions. I highly recommend it for readers looking for rich characters who suffer unavoidable heartbreak, as they transition into the best version of themselves and learn to embrace love.

I highly recommend reading Ms. Leverich’s first novel in the series The Valentine’s Arrangement.

Links to my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

5-Stars for “SEAL of Honor” by Tonya Burrows – Book Review

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seal of honor
Image used with permission by the Author.

It’s a good thing Gabe Bristow lives and breathes the Navy SEAL credo, “the only easy day was yesterday,” because today, his life is unrecognizable. When his prestigious career comes to a crashing halt, he’s left with a bum leg and few prospects for employment that don’t include a desk.

That is, until he’s offered the chance to command a private hostage rescue team and free a wealthy American businessman from Colombian paramilitary rebels. It seems like a good deal—until he meets his new team: a drunk Cajun linguist, a boy-genius CIA threat analyst, an FBI negotiator with mob ties, a cowboy medic, and an EOD expert as volatile as the bombs he defuses. Oh, and who could forget the sexy, frustratingly impulsive Audrey Van Amee? She’s determined to help rescue her brother—or drive Gabe crazy. Whichever comes first.

As the death toll rises, Gabe’s team of delinquents must figure out how to work together long enough to save the day. Or, at least, not get themselves killed.Because Gabe’s finally found something worth living for, and God help him if he can’t bring her brother back alive.

 

My Review:

Gabriel “Gabe” Bristow met unconventional and sassy Audrey Van Amee, during Team Hornet’s attempt to save her kidnapped brother. Under the best of circumstances, their pairing would have been unlikely because they ran in different circles and lived in different countries. SEAL of Honor (Hornet) added the stress of putting together a new private hostage rescue team, in a politically volatile environment, to Gabe’s already full plate.

Audrey was an unusual leading lady, because she lived the life of a successful artist in Costa Rica and only became involved, when her brother was kidnapped. She did not have a history of dating military or ex-military men, but the chemistry between Audrey and Gabe was palpable from the moment they met. She gave Gabe no quarter, and while it may have irritated him on several occasions, it was her strength of character, conviction and love that broke down his barriers. Through Audrey, Gabe saw himself in a different light, and began to embrace his post-Navy career and new team. I only wish there had been more and longer intimate scenes between Audrey and Gabe. This did not take away from the plot of the book, however. The pacing was appropriate for a romantic suspense novel.

Tonya Burrows rounded out the cast, with the most ragtag team of strong, sexy, independent alpha men, I have seen assembled in a while – think Hogan’s Heroes for a new generation. As the first novel in her new HORNET series, Ms. Burrows gave the reader a glimpse into the relationships that began to develop among the eight men selected for this unique group. We were able to see why each man was chosen, and a tiny peek into his past. Each member of HORNET will have his place in the sun. (I was intrigued by Travis Quinn, the defacto-XO of the group, and hope Ms. Burrows plans to write his story next. Quinn had everything I love about former military men, especially a tortured past and an inflexible sense of loyalty. I see him as a future “book boyfriend.”)

I won an autographed copy of SEAL of Honor (Hornet) in a book blog contest. I have always been drawn to series about teams of men in uniform, especially after they leave active duty service. SEAL of Honor (Hornet) brought the men together and with each subsequent book, we will see them grow, as a team, and as individuals – when they find their lady loves. I look forward to spending more time with these men and the extended Hornet family. I recommend it to anyone who loves to invest time in well-developed characters, traveling to exotic and sometimes dangerous places. Great start to a new series!

Link to Amazon Review and Goodreads Review

Etiology of a Book Trailer – “Searching for Moore,” by Julie A. Richman

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Searching for Moore by Julie A. Richman
Cover used with permission by author, Julie A. Richman.

Summer of 2013 has been the Summer of books and reviews, where I rediscovered the joy that leisure reading brought me.   My newest ventures have been writing book reviews and beta reading books for independent authors.  I am still learning how to do both, but writing reviews is definitely my favorite of the two.

Earlier this year, I read and reviewed Searching for Moore by Julie A. Richman (Book 1 in the “Needing Moore” series).    Julie’s book kept me up all night,  deeply invested in Schooner and Mia’s story and I was emotionally drained but my mind kept spinning.   That inspired my best book review to date, as words flew, organically, off my fingers, onto the keys, and onto the screen.  When I hit “publish” on the blog post, the sun was rising and I knew I had to know more about the woman who wrote Searching for Moore.  I had to talk to her.

I “met” Julie on Facebook.   There was the initial awkwardness of the clichéd OMG-when-are-you-releasing-book-2 comment.  Followed by the blubbering on of a fangirl who had too little sleep, too much coffee and not enough Schooner Moore or Mia Silver.  Finally, we started to talk.  Like lifelong friends.   Who had never met before.    The more we talked – about music, college, jobs, life experiences, relationships, etc. – Julie and I found that we had been separated at birth!    Synchronous would be the best way to describe our connection.

Our friendship brought three other women into my life.  All fans of Searching for Moore who had similar reactions to the story.   As, we began “hanging out” together on Facebook, the bond became stronger.    Sure we talked about our favorite parts of the book, but we talked about ourselves.  If someone had a bad day, there were four other women to help her through it.  If we needed a laugh or bawdy comment, we were there.

Together.

Together, we decided to create the following book trailer.   Kristen was our computer guru, taking all the pieces and creating something that represented all of us, even after the infamous crash of “Video Version 1” (shudder).   Cleida brought us Mia and Schooner and had the uncanny eye to spot the right photos of them.   Samantha was our cheerleader, keeping everyone in good spirits.  I suggested “If I Should Fall Behind,” by Bruce Springsteen as the accompanying song and critiqued the final product.     We accomplished this in about two days and presented it to Julie, on Sunday, just past midnight.

As we waited, impatiently, for Julie to view the video, so many thoughts went through our heads.  “What if Julie doesn’t like it?”  “What if the fans don’t like it?” “What if it’s not good enough?”  “What if it doesn’t capture the essence of Schooner and Mia?”  These were the longest three minutes of the entire process!

Julie loved it!

She immediately posted it on her Facebook page.  It was received warmly by other fans, who then shared it with their friends and family.    Now, I share it with you.   Please share, reblog, buy the book and fall in love with Schooner and Mia.   (Book 2, “Moore to Lose,” will be released in September 2013.)    Amazon     Barnes and Noble

After reading Searching for Moore please visit Julie’s author website for additional scenes, written in the point of view of other characters, and find her on Facebook.

Here is our labor of love for Searching for Moore  .