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Thursday, 6 December 2012

Indie Books to Gift This Holiday Season!

Ho Ho Ho!!
The Holidays are upon us!
The countdown is on to Christmas!
With the season upon us, I thought I would put together a list of books that would make great stocking stuffers for the avid reader in your life! It doesn't matter if you celebrate this season or not, these novels would make amazing gifts no matter what the occasion!
I have chosen FIVE stand out novels by Indie Authors who I think (and KNOW) are wonderful storytellers that deserve recognition!I have tried to incorporate a genre for everyone and decided to stick with just five novels to keep this short and sweet. (Speaking of sweet be sure to check out Amanda's Blog for some delicious homemade fudge recipes!)
So let's just get started! Scroll down and see who I picked as my top five books to gift this season!

 For the Sexy Siren:

They've already read Fifty Shades, still waiting on the final book of the Crossfire series....so why not try 'Giving It Up' by Amber Lin!
Here is a blurb from my blog review *Adult Content Warning*
Allie is a broken young woman who’s had a rough life. She has a sexy secret (Without beating around the bush- she’s a once a month slut) who's latest one night stand is not like the others.Usually in it for the 'wham bam- thank ya ma'am', the connection she has with this new man throws her. Colin makes her feel things she doesn't want to feel. He is her White Knight (or is he...?) Sexy secrets aside, she struggles to support her young daughter with the help of her best friend Shelly. Being in a relationship, trusting a man isn't what she wants to do. She tries to shake it off and move on without him. When her rapist shows back up in her life, her world is turned upside down. She's backed into a corner, and needs to figure out her 'shit' out and fast! (pardon my language) Maybe taking a leap of faith with Colin isn't such a bad idea after all....
Click this link for full description and my blog review!! 'Giving It Up' is a sexy page turner she will not want to put down! (Adult Content) Who needs mistletoe? Just buy a sexy book!
Find a copy on Amazon for her Kindle

For Young Adults or Young at Heart!

You need to take a trip to the magical world of 'Voluspa!' by Ray East and Sam D!  If you are looking to give a fun fantasy read, I highly recommend Voluspa!  As I said in my blog review, it reminds me of a Twilight, meets, Lion Witch and the Wardrobe....see for yourself!!!
Here's part of my review:
The romance between Amy and Drake while it is similar to Bella and Edward (Twilight) in my opinion it comes off with less sexual tension and more innocence. They have some obstacles to overcome. One very large one is the fact that being from two separate clans, they are forbidden to ever marry. A tough pill to swallow for soul mates. When Drake is captured, Amy doesn't care what it will take. She is determined to save him no matter what.
Naturally we have to wait for the other books to see how their relationship progresses.

Only 99cents on Amazon for Kindle! 

For Those Who Love A Good Thrill!

'Unauthorized Access' by Andrew McAllister is A MUST have for those who love an excellent thriller!! This is such an amazing book, I am actually gifting it this holiday season!! If this novel doesn't eventually hit a best seller list, I will eat my hat! (Well, not really...perhaps a cake shaped as a hat?) 
Here is a blurb from my blog review!
From page one I was impressed with Mr. McAllister's writing style. It was descriptive, witty and overall had a great flow. The character dialogue was natural, and you almost felt immersed IN the story, rather than just reading it. This book would make an amazing movie! (Listen up Hollywood!)
It's a book that while entertains, certainly makes you think! In this day in age with terrorism, cyber-theft, and relying on technology are YOU prepared should your bank suddenly be sent into a panic? This book may have you hollowing out a teddy bear for stashing emergency funds. (Sorry Ted!)

In Paperback from Amazon!

For Those Who Crave An AMAZING World War 2 Tale:

 'Scent of Triumph' by Jan Moran is probably the most captivating romantic tale I have read all year. I said it, ALL YEAR!
I haven't blogged about this book yet (Coming Soon!) but it will be up in the near future! I will tell you right now, I give this book FIVE STARS! Heck, I'm about to throw in a sixth star for good measure! LOVED it! You need to give this to the romantic in your life!
Here's my brief description:
Danielle is a young woman who's life takes a dramatic turn when Hitler invades Europe. She is a talented perfumer who proves to be strong and resilient when faced with adversity. From the war in Europe to struggling to start over in America. Scent of Triumph will grip you from the first chapter! This book is an epic page turner you will not put down!
In Paperback from Amazon!

For Paranormal Fantasy Lovers

 The Forever Girl by Rebecca Hamilton is yet another novel I have yet to write a blog about! (It's on my list!!) It is such a well told, imaginative tale. I loved it so much, when I bought it, I read it twice in a row (days apart!) I can't do this book justice in such a short blurb (wait for my future review!) but I am going to try!
The author weaves an incredible tale about a girl named Sophia, a social outcast from a small tight knit community. She meets the handsome Charles is introduced to a whole new world of creatures and characters. If only the people in her community knew what was lurking in the shadows, perhaps they wouldn't be so concerned about her Wiccan beliefs! Needless to say, Sophia has her own inner demons, voices and noise in her head that she doesn't fully understand. This is a great supernatural read! If you (or someone in your life) love a story about other-wordly creatures and past lives you MUST pick up a copy of 'The Forever Girl'!
Purchase a copy from Amazon!

 Happy Holidays!




Also in time for the Holidays, if you love to cook and bake (or know someone who does!)  Check out my friend's blog on Food! This one she provides recipes for three kinds of Fudge! Follow these fun recipes and create some delicious gifts! (When you aren't eating them for yourself!)



http://mycrazyadventuresinbaking.blogspot.ca/2012/12/ah-fudge.html?showComment=1354750685139#c61946569668781459

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Second Chance Grill by Christine Nolfi


If you are an avid reader of my blog. You will have noticed I haven't been posting as many reviews as of late.
This is not due to lack of reading material, but a series of bad luck and bad health that has been plaguing my house. (DARK CLOUD BE GONE!) Up until a few weeks ago it was hard to get a chance to read, let alone write.

At the end of it all, I needed emergency surgery due to an irritating re-occurring medical issue. Needless to say I have been dealing with bed rest (more like house arrest) for the past few weeks while I heal. (What fun!) I spent the first week or so in haze watching trash tv and sleeping, while my wonderful mother and husband ran the fort!
If there is anything I have learned it is I am not meant to lay around, unless it is on a beach, cold drink and novel in hand. (Trip to the Caribbean anyone?)
In any case, Once the fog started lifting, I started tackling my mountain of books for review. I decided I was in the mood for a 'feel good' novel, so I looked at my review selection. 'Second Chance Grill' by Christine Nolfi sounded perfect.

Let me tell you, it was a fantastic choice for someone cooped up at home, and I could not put it down!



Here is the summary:

Dr. Mary Chance needs a sabbatical from medicine to grieve the loss of her closest friend. But when she inherits a struggling restaurant in Liberty, Ohio she isn’t prepared for Blossom Perini. Mary can’t resist falling for the precocious preteen—or the girl’s father. The bond they forge will transform all their lives and set in motion an outpouring of love that spreads across America.

Welcome back to Liberty, where the women surrounding the town’s only restaurant are as charming as they are eccentric.


My Take:

This is such a wonderful 'feel good' novel. The kind of book that reads like a Lifetime movie or blockbuster chick flick. (I could see Reese Witherspoon playing Dr. Mary Chance....just sayin')
The way author Christine Nofli writes makes it easy to picture the quaint town of Liberty and it's colorful, feisty inhabitants.

Dr. Mary Chance is a character looking to keep her cool under pressure and prove that she can make her new restaurant succeed, no matter what the locals think of her. (And the locals are not shy when it comes to sharing their opinions of the outsider!)  Things start picking up when Mary meets Blossom, a clever young girl who is determined to play Cupid.
Mary meets Blossoms handsome father Anthony and sparks ignite.

Anthony Perini was very young when his daughter was born. He immediately fell into the role of dutiful parent and would do anything for his little girl. He's a hardworking, down to earth man from a large Italian Family. A single father for most of Blossom's life, he has had to endure one of the hardest things a parent could ever go through, having a child diagnosed with cancer.

Both adults are attracted to one another, but Mary doesn't want to take the risk of falling in love when she plans to return to her medical career in the city after the restaurant is up and running. She's caught between a rock and a hard place. Does she choose an unknown, possibly wonderful future in Liberty, or her sense of duty in the big city?

This book is packed with story lines such as the budding romance, a story of cancer survival, difficult career choices. One of the things I loved about this novel it illustrates just how far good people will go to help those who need it most. (On a side note, have you gone out of your way to help someone lately?)
The author has also thrown into the mix some humor, and quirky characters you will love such as Finney, Ethel Lynn and Theodora. (I hope to be a crotchety old lady like Theodora one day)
With all that is going on in the story, you will not put this book down.
One word of advice, do not read without a box of tissues handy! There are some very emotional parts of this book that will have you weeping. (If you don't cry while reading it you are dead inside, DEAD I say!)

So, my verdict? As it stands, I HIGHLY recommend this book to women (men too, let's not be sexist!) who are looking for a feel good, romantic, heartwarming tale. Second Chance Grill captures that wholesome small town 'Americana' feel to a T!

I have also added Christine Nolfi's book Treasure Me to my 'To Be Read' pile! It is actually the first installment of the Liberty series!

Here is a synopsis of Treasure Me compliments of Amazon!

Petty thief Birdie Kaminsky has arrived in Liberty, Ohio to steal a treasure hidden since the Civil War. She's in possession of a charming clue: Liberty safeguards the cherished heart. The beautiful thief wants to go straight. She secretly admires the clue's author, freedwoman Justice Postell, who left South Carolina at the dawn of the Civil War and carried untold riches on her journey north. As Birdie searches for the treasure, will she discover a history more precious than gems, a tradition of love richer than she could imagine?


Christine Nolfi and her books are receiving rave reviews (mine included) and it's no wonder!

Are you interested in owning your very own copy? You are in luck! Check out the awesome giveaway compliments of author Christine Nolfi!!


                                                   **GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED**

  International E-Book Giveaway Winner!!!

                       CONGRATS OLLIE M!!!!!!!!!!

  North American Paperback Giveaway Winner!!!

                      CONGRATS TRACY K!!!!!!!!!!!

















Thursday, 1 November 2012

Ship Of Haunts by Ellie Stevenson

Happy Candy Hangover Day!!!! (November First, Day after Halloween for those who haven't had their coffee yet)

How was your Halloween?? Have you raided your children's stash of candy yet? (of course you have) I'm willing to bet your breakfast this morning had chocolate, and candy involved. (Admit it)
In any case, it's time to toss out the jack-o-lanterns, tear down the creepy decor, and put the costumes away until next year.
The good news is that we can still read books about spirits, vampires and otherworldly creatures year round.

I'm a bit late on my next blog review, so I will cut to the chase and introduce you now... there maaaaaaaaaaaaybe some ghosts involved......




Ship Of Haunts isn't your typical spooky ghost story. I'll be frank (you be Suzy) I think this is a novel you either like it, or you don't. Wonder why?

So, go grab a mini chocolate bar, or some candy rockets and I will tell you more. (Chocolate is for you, the rockets are for me! Yum!)

I typically like to give my own rundown following the real book description. However, based on the nature of the novel and how it plays out, I will keep it to the basics and my general thoughts this time. (Just trust me)

Here is the book description from Amazon.com:

Carrin Smith remembers a past life – on Titanic. And now she's being stalked by a ghost from the ship. Lily the ghost is searching for her cousin. She's crossed time to find Lucie, but now time is running out. Carrin's shipmates are gathered together to remember Titanic, but Carrin's not certain who can she trust. Certainly not the man who drowned her, but can she even trust herself? For Carrin has a secret, one she's been hiding all her life. But at least Lily is on her side. Or is she? From the heat of the harsh Australian sun to the darkest depths of the ocean floor, Ship of Haunts is a novel of conflicts. Carrin is scared and Lily is desperate, both of them in a race against time. When the pressure is on, can they outwit the demons that chase them, including the damaged, vengeful Mad?


My Take:

I love the general theme. Titanic, Ghosts, Reincarnation.... thumbs up!

I'm not gonna lie, I was very confused when I sat down to read Ship Of Haunts. The chapters threw me off a bit. We (the reader) are bounced from time to time, character to character. One minute you are reading Carrin's story in 2012, the next, she is a ghost in the past. Than we are reading Lily's story to do with the Titanic, than boom, thrown into another era, another character, another location (Australia, England, on the Ocean floor at the Titanic wreck...) ..one minute she's a ghost, than she's alive in another time.... it's a merry go round to say the least. (confused yet?) 

There are plenty of characters to keep straight. I had to go back a few times to re-read and verify who did what and who was who. (In a novel like this, I wish that there had been a character list for reference) The major players are with us throughout the years, reincarnated in the same relationships and similar scenarios as their previous lives. It was an interesting take on reincarnation. The one thing that made me raise an eyebrow is how they all had the same names in each life. At first this bothered me, because if you are reincarnated, wouldn't you have a different name? I got over it fast, because let's face it, if Carrin or Lily had been called Betty, Veronica, Bella, Gertrude (whatever) in their different lives, you'd lose sense of the story trying to figure out who is who. The author did us a favor by keeping names the same.
Another thing to note is that some characters could remember all their past lives, where others didn't seem to have any recollection. (Imagine getting revenge on someone a hundred years later for something they don't remember)
 
 The thought crossed my mind while reading, how well it would have been done had the story taken place in a series of novels. One for the Titanic Era, the second for the 1940s, and than the truth of it in the 90's-2000's?
 As I continued to read, I realized that doing it that way would probably make it easier to get to know the characters, yet the story would have grabbed the reader as much.  Sometimes I found the novel skimmed the surface, that there could of been 'more' to the story (for example, I wanted to know more about Carrin's background before Titanic) but would that have helped or hindered? It's a tough call.

That said, once I found my rhythm, it was hard to put the novel down. When I wasn’t reading it, I was actually trying to figure out the plot and where it was all leading. (Kept my mind busy while making dinner!) The confusion actually added to the mystery and the lure of the novel. 

The writing style is simple and easy, but the story is complex and layered. It was an interesting contrast.

I found Ship Of Haunts to be an original. I have been racking my brain trying to come up with comparison and can't. It must have taken a lot of hard work and dedication to intertwine the stories and get it out of the authors imagination and onto the pages. Hat's off to Ellie Stevenson for her creativity.

I did enjoy it. Like I said, it was hard to put down. 
I recommend this book to people who love a book with a sense of history or who have a creative imagination. I do not recommend it if you are looking for a 'scary' horror novel about ghosts. This is not what it is.
I encourage those who do read it to give it time and keep pushing through if you find it hard to get into as I did. It's really quite interesting how the author plays the story out.

Interested? Here are the links to the novel on Amazon!
For Kindle
In Paperback

Happy Reading!



Thursday, 4 October 2012

Reflected In You ~ Sylvia Day

                                                         Grab the champagne!

                                                             Pop the cork!

                                                         Warn your husbands!





                                              Let's shout it from the rooftops ladies....  

                                        'It's here!! It's here!!.... It's FINALLY here!!'





October 2nd was like Christmas (Crossmas!) for Sylvia Day fans who use Kobo, Kindle, Nook  
( Let's sing!! "Deck the halls with Mommy Porn...Fa la la la la, la la la..."  or  "Gideon Cross is coming to town....")

Reflected In You was released for ebook!
(Don't worry paperback lovers, your day is approaching I heard Oct 23rd is the day for North American Release!)

If you haven't read the first book in the Crossfire series, than you had better do the following:

  a) Check out my blog on Bared To You!
  b) Go out and buy the above mentioned book and read it so you can keep up!

This is a series you really shouldn't read out of order!

So what did I think of the much anticipated Reflected In You???

**drumroll please**

Looooooooooooooooooved it!!!!!

Couldn't put it down.

At all.

So much so I almost forgot to take my daughter to her dance class! (We made it with minutes to spare!)
Than like a true book addict, I sent my husband to pick her up and I stayed up late to enjoy the silence and finish reading. The story picked up right where it left off. We are thrown into the story as Eva and Gideon's jealousy issues are at an all time high!

(When you read it pop some popcorn, get wine, wear comfy clothes, don't expect to sleep)

We have the same cast of characters (see previous blog for those who have no idea who they are) but we meet a few new ones! Mainly an ex boyfriend of Eva's named Brett Kline and also her father who comes for a visit. Brett is out to win Eva back! (Say WHAT!!?)  Corrine (Gideon's ex finance who we met in book one) is also back in the picture. Sparks are flying and steam is coming out of Eva's ears.
Some secrets about the past are revealed and we learn more about both Gideon and Eva, but we still have ALOT to learn and a lot of loose ends that need tied up. True to her nature, Sylvia Day leaves us wanting more! Her books are truly addicting!

Eva and Gideon have such a tumultuous relationship, they are so obsessed with each other it borders on insanity. At times reading it I thought to myself 'I don't care how sexy he is, dude needs a restraining order!'. Gideon is very domineering and his silence in the book frustrating. You feel Eva's irritation. You do not know what Gideon is thinking or what he is up to.
It's funny how absorbed in a novel I can get when I really truly want to jump in and yell at the characters. He was driving ME insane.
(Men take note: What women like... Hot sex = Yes!  Being Stalked and Bossed around = No!)

Eva, on the other hand, is one chick in need of a chill pill. She is one of the most imperfect heroines I think I have ever read about (which is why this novel is so interesting) She has so many past demons to deal with, it's a wonder she has energy left to tolerate the insatiable Mr. Cross and his moody temper (let alone all the other drama that comes her way)
It doesn't help she likes to stick her nose in his business where it doesn't belong all the while complaining that he does it to her. She has a tit-for-tat philosophy (he wants the tits, she wants the tat....bahahahaha..K, I get it, the joke sucked....moving on.....) I have to say though. I love how she can call him out on his crap!

Cary is back with his own set of problems, in the first novel he was a bit of a mess in regards to his love life. He wants to be with Trey, but is also involved with a woman. We find Cary continue on his journey trying to balance life as a bisexual male with an overly healthy sex drive. (Let's not forget the group sex scene in Bared To You!) It will be interesting to see what happens in the third book in the Crossfire series. Will he end up with Trey? (I'm willing to bet on it!)

Yeah... okay now what about those Sexy Scenes??? (I KNOW what some of you want to know...naughty naughty!)
Oh not to worry, like in Bared to You those sexy moments are Ahhh Ahhhhh Ahhhhhhhhh-plenty! (see what I did there *wink*wink*) If you are a fan of Sylvia Day's work she does not disappoint!
There is mile high mounting, concert kinky, more limo lovin', sexy showers..... you get the picture!
When Eva and Gideon are not mad at eachother... oh who am I kidding? Even WHEN they are mad at each other they are still screwing each other senseless.
There is talk of kinkier sex (think swings and things) but we have yet to see that actually happen. I'm banking on book three.


Two Words To Describe Reflected In You: Steamy & Stormy.


 Favorite Moment:

A part of  the novel really cracked me up. It takes place in Vegas when Eva is by the pool and she realizes just how far Gideon will go to make sure she is all his. It involves hotel security and free drinks.


So ladies...gents...and whoever else is reading this blog..... Do I recommend Reflected In You?
Yes I do!!
Just remember, read Bared To You first!!

Next up in the series is the final book called Entwined With You.
Can't wait!!!

Happy Reading!













Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The Color Of Greed ~ Jack Thompson



What's your favorite color? Is it Blue? Pink? Orange? Chartreuse?

My favorite color (FYI in case I decide to quiz you one day or you decide buy me something) is Red. Love it!

Never mind the color chat though! After all THIS is a book blog and not Art Class 101, so let's move on!
I am happy to share with you the first novel of a new series by Jack Thompson!





Here is the official description from Amazon.com :


"When the young husband of a wealthy heiress is found dead on his yacht floating off the California coastline, his death is ruled an accident and the case is closed. The grieving widow, certain her husband was murdered but getting no help from the police, turns to Raja Williams, a wealthy Oxford-educated private investigator, who has dedicated his resources to help those in need of justice. When Raja arrives in Los Angeles and more bodies begin to pile up, he suspects a coverup that may go as high up as the governor. With the help of his partner Vinny, a highly skilled hacker, Raja must unravel the case before everyone involved, including the two of them, winds up dead.

A colorful cast of characters, great dialogue and a suspenseful twisting plot make The Color of Greed an entertaining read. The Color of Greed is the first book in the Raja Williams series."




My take:

Great Book!!! Now go read it!

Oh, that isn't enough? ;) You want to know why you should listen to me?

I thought this was a fun and highly enjoyable novel. It was one I could hardly put down!
It has lots of twists and turns, humor, suspense, even a little hint of romance.

 The novel starts off as what you think is a easy to solve 'who dunnit' mystery explodes into captivating whirlwind. One of the best qualities of this novel is the fact you do not know where the story will go or what will happen.
Can you figure out the bad guys? Yes, the author makes it somewhat apparent, but motives, suspicions etc... are not revealed until toward the end and there are a few others things thrown in to help throw you off. There are multiple problems, people and problems to overcome. I love that in a book. Bravo! *cue applause*

Raja Williams is one kind of hero I really enjoy! He's a private investigator with great qualities. Smart, intuitive, sneaky (in a good way!) handsome, and lets not forget incredibly rich. I like how he doesn't necessarily play by the rules if it means he can get the bad guy in the end. He had a very 007-ish vibe but with a bit of a psychic edge. I am interested to see if we learn more of his slightly elevated senses as the series progresses. I always like a book that has a touch of the 'unknown' in it.

Vinny is an awesome sidekick who has mad skills (yes,I just used that term) when it comes to computers. Ever loyal to Raja, Vinny is there to help solve mysteries and add two cents here and there. I hope in future novels we find out more about this character. A bit into the book we get a surprise on who Vinny is. I didn't see it coming. Love when that happens.

The two deal a lot of characters along the way. The rich widow, the helpful cop, smarmy pool boy, slick politicians..I would be here awhile if I named them all.
Raja is hired by the widow to find out what happened to her husband. He finds himself protecting her as she's frightened and suspicious of everyone (and for good reason) All is not what it seems in her world.

As amusing as this book is, it covers some thought provoking and darker topics regarding politics, organized crime, sexual abuse, and environmentalism.
I could not put this book down and I can't wait to read the next in the series. I'm torn between a star rating on this novel...so I wrote a poem:

*ahem*

I rarely give out 5 stars,
So I will call it a 4.
Than let's see what the next novel has in store!

Book two is called 'C'est La Vie' and the author hopes to have it completed by the end of October! Looking forward to it!!

Right now you can only find The Color Of Greed as an e-book for $2.99 on Amazon.com and is FREE for Amazon Prime Members! Paperback has not been released yet, but when it is, I will let you know and maaaaaaaaybe I will have a copy to giveaway for those interested! ;) (Who doesn't love a giveaway?)
Stay tuned to my Facebook Page for that announcement and more! 

To recap:

This book is good.
It's a steal as an ebook at $2.99
My favorite color is red.
I suck at poetry.


Happy Reading!


Check out Jack Thompson and his other works at his website!








Friday, 21 September 2012

A Bridge To Treachery ~ Larry Crane

Greetings! I know, I know, it's been quite a while since my last blog. Unfortunately life gets in the way of reading sometimes (HOW dare it!!!) but I have persevered through the drama, housework, back to school season and here I am! I'm the type of girl that when life hands me lemons, I don't just make lemonade. I toss some lemons right back at life and say 'F U!... I've got things to do!!'
Than I throw some vodka in the lemonade I have made and forge ahead.
Needless to say, I am back to blogging baby!
(If anything I said above makes no sense or sounds weird... blame the vodka)

I have a HUGE reading list lined up, and hope to get through it in the next few weeks. (I think I can, I think I can, I think I can......) So you will have to keep coming back or check the Facebook Fan Page for more information and books!!

Speaking of books and trying to take control of sudden craziness.... it could always be worse... you could be Lou Christopher.

Who is he? Keep reading.....

This next novel I am blogging about is a suspense novel (Never fear Mommy Porn lovers... I'll get to you soon....) called 'A Bridge To Treachery' by Larry Crane.




Here is the synopsis from Amazon:

Former Colonel Lou Christopher is an ex-Army Ranger retired from the military and contentedly working as a New York investment broker. After being assigned a number of lucrative accounts and becoming accustomed to living the good life, he discovers there is a pay back. His former military skills are requested under a threat of losing everything he has.
Handed a group of misfits to assemble into a military strike team, he is coerced into leading the team on a mission of domestic terrorism. At the center of a bridge outside of Manhattan, his strike team is caught in the act and unexpectedly becomes engaged in a deadly firefight. It’s then that he learns the mission was a political maneuver from the highest levels of the U.S. Government—and ultimately realizes he has been betrayed by his superiors. Learning his team was considered nothing more than collateral damage and intended to be killed and left as a scapegoats, he uses his unique military expertise and engages in a fight for his life.
As the strike team is decimated, he and a female teammate elude the opposition forces to survive and escape, turning the tables on his superiors. Using his distinctive set of military skills, he now becomes the hunter and vows to extract his revenge and bring them all down.

My Take:

Not gonna lie.... I liked the concept. (well duh... or I wouldn't be blogging about it!)

The story is told from two different perspectives. That of the lead character Lou and his wife Maggie (aka 'Mag') I'm actually going to not really tell you much about Maggie, because I don't think I could do her justice in my description. I will tell you she is remarkably strong, courageous, and has tremendous love for her husband. The way the novel unfolds, it is best to leave her as a mystery. I enjoyed her side of things and the small journey she takes to help Lou.

Now for the lead character......

Lou Christopher is not your average hero. He's an older gentleman, grandfather, working as a civilian after life in the army. He's always been a bit of a rebel, as you will learn throughout the book. Lou sometimes makes decisions without fully considering the consequences, only later to regret and try to make things right.
His job as an investment broker seems ho-hum, and when the big boss hands him a dream account on a silver platter, he takes it. (And who wouldn't? Anyone want to throw me an account that could make me millions? No? Anyone just want to hand me a million 'just cause?'... No?? Pfffttt Tough crowd!)
When it's time to pay his dues, he's backed into a corner and coerced into joining a team of shady people to pull of a domestic terror plot. It boggles my mind how anyone, even a character like Lou agree to be bribed to even participate in something so extreme, especially against their own country.
As you meet characters along the way (friends, coworkers, co-conspirators) you can never quite figure out who can be trusted, or really figure them out completely.
I was interested to see how this would play out in the novel and turned out to be pleasantly surprised by where the story took me.

The book starts off slow. It took me a bit to get used to how the story is delivered mainly in dialogue, but eventually I found a rhythm. I felt the book read like someone was sitting across from me in a chair, sharing with me the wildest story of their life. It was a gruff and straightforward telling. My one complaint was there was a lot of broker talk, but given the nature of the characters job, I can let it slide.
It says at the end of the book that there is a sequel in the works, I am interested to see how the story will continue!


One word to describe 'A Bridge To Treachery': Original

Would I read this novel again? I would and I will!
Who do I recommend this to? If you are interested in thrillers, military, conspiracy theories etc.... than I think you should give it a read.
I'm also going to lend my copy to my dad. I think this is a book for him!

Do I have a copy to GIVEAWAY?? YES!

CONTEST WINNER....

Kelly M from B.C won an autographed copy of A Bridge To Treachery!


                                       **AUTHOR INTERVIEW**


I'm no Barbara Walters, but sometimes I have questions that I love to ask authors. Here is my brief interview with Author Larry Crane.

Me: You have a lot in common with your lead character Lou Christopher, the army, broker, and initials.... is Lou Christopher a fictional version of you?

Larry Crane: You mean the part where this flawed-floundering-fiftyish guy turns into a closet lech? Or where this eternal optimist, day lily loving Mick Jagger wannabe gets his dream car? Family members 
see things in the book they think they recognize—places—situations—
people, but these are all just bits and pieces of what I have experienced.  The experts say to write about what you know, and I have followed that advice by drawing on my Army and brokerage experience to be as authentic as possible.  Friends look at the decisions that Lou Christoper makes in the book and find it hard sometimes to separate Lou’s mindset from mine. The biggest compliment I think I’ve ever gotten about “Treachery” though was from a friend who said that in the first chapter or two they were fixated on their perception of Lou’s resemblance to me, but then that fixation faded away and the story took over. Most importantly, when I disappeared is when the story really took off.

Me: What made you decide to become an author?
Larry Crane: Encouragement at an early age was a factor. I wrote this little essay as a seventh or eight grader that got a good grade, and it then was published in the school newspaper. This seemed to light a spark that stayed alive all through high school, especially when my English Lit teacher gave me words of encouragement.  Then, as a freshman in college, the English prof extolled  a section of  a short story written by a classmate that just bowled me over and changed me forever. It was just a simple image—of a boy out on his bike in the glory of Autumn when he realizes for the first time that his boyhood is coming to an end, and the smoke of burning leaves bring tears to his eyes. I saw the artistry of the writing, and I wanted to do that.


Me:  Where did the concept for A Bridge To Treachery come from?
Larry Crane: I set out to write a novel after doing lots of short stories, non-fiction, and a play. I consulted some  books on the subject, among many others, one by John Braine who wrote Room at the Top.  I wanted to write a book of the kind that I liked to read.  I had to have my protagonist put into a life changing situation from word one, so I had him answering the phone in his office—and off we go. I knew the general plot (that Lou would get into trouble because of excess pride and ambition) from the beginning, but all the moral implications and complications would only emerge in very extensive rewrites over several years. Maybe the biggest determinant of the way the story plays out is geography. Once the location of the act of treachery is set, geography determines most of the rest of the story.  Lou has to credibly move from one location to the next.

Me: Which Authors Inspire You? Who are your favorites?  
Larry Crane: Hemingway, Steinbeck, Lecarre’, Fitzgerald. Read everything they wrote over and over. Living near Manhattan, I was much inspired by the theatre.  Sitting in a tiny off-broadway theater within fifteen of feet of Al Pacino in David Mamet’s American Buffalo was unforgettable—enough for me to promptly pen my own replica of it. Playwrights. Lanford Wilson. John Guare. August Wilson. Athol Fugard. Brien Friel. Tom Stoppard. On and on.  Ernest Hemingway is at the top of my list of novelists and short story writers.  Of playwrights, I have no clear favorite.



Me:  You seem to have lived an interesting life thus far, what stands out in your mind as your greatest achievement?
Larry Crane: I’m proud to be and to have been a decent husband and a good father and a father figure, but this not an achievement.  It’s a status.  The thing that I have done (not been)  in my life that I value above all else is to have stood up for what I believed was right when it was my time to do so. I served as a soldier in war. 


Saturday, 25 August 2012

Allesandra's Bequest - R.M. Fraser



 Who doesn't love music? (If you answered 'I don't' than may I ask what planet you are from?)

Do you sing? Play in a band? Play an instrument? Kick it at Karaoke? Sing in the shower? Blast music whenever you can?

Ask anyone who knows me well (or not so well) and you will find I love music. I love singing, I love listening (dancing, working out, cleaning house, driving car) to my favorite artists and songs. I even make up songs and parody lyrics off the top of my head. (Move over Weird Al, my PMS song is amazing and a Christmas Jingle for a morning show won me a prize!)
I'm extremely guilty of using music to express myself. (Oh you do it too!) One of my many examples (if I gave you them all this blog post would be a novel!) is that when I was a teenager I'd developed the habit of blasting the Dangerous Minds Soundtrack if I was in a rotten mood. (Apparently underneath this diva-like exterior is a gansta rapper? Should I invest in a diamond grill?) My family took note of this. Several years later, I was playing it in my car when my sister opened the door to get in, she heard the music, hesitated and asked 'Oh-Oh who are you pissed at? What's wrong?' (Well, HELLO to you too!)
Needless to say, I wasn't mad that particular day, I was just feeling nostalgic for the 90's. Scaring my sister was just a plus!

 
Goofing Off! My cousin and I rapping to 'Who Said We're Whack?' by The Lonely Island.


Music is soothing for the soul, but did you know if can also inspire books to be born?

Introducing my latest read: Allesandra's Bequest


 What drew me to accept the review for Allesandra's Bequest was not just the subject matter, but the added element of music! The chapters actually revolve around song lyrics that author R.M. Fraser had written for a concept album. Color Me Intrigued! When I think of albums that go along with a story, my mind flashes to the Pink Floyd album 'Dark Side of the Rainbow' and how if you play it along to the movie 'The Wizard of Oz' the music matches what is happening on screen. (If you haven't tried it, you must give it a go! It's cool!)

When it comes to the story of Allesandra and Izz, it is hard to explain without giving the plot away. So here is the gist: We meet the two characters and follow a tragic story about love, loss, suicide, abuse, depression. Dark topics, but with an ending that puts the whole story into perspective. (I loved the ending!!)
Allesandra's has had a lot to deal with in her life and constantly struggles with those emotions. She and Izz have a deep love and connection, but underneath the surface is love enough to help her heal?
As it is a short, it skims the surface of the story, we the reader know what is needed and that is that! The amazing part is, it's still a captivating and deeply emotional read.
With it being so straight to the point, I wonder if the impact would have been the same had it been a lengthy novel with even more insight, character development, plots, and dialogue? I can honestly say, I don't know if it would. Usually my biggest complaint is that 'I want more story!' and I 'could' say that here, but for once I wont. Why? Because I like how 'in your face' and clear the message is. It isn't diluted by all the extras. I feel like this story is a lesson people should read and learn from. The ending is aptly titled 'Only Now Do I Learn and I loved how the author wrote the scene. It was unexpected and I felt it to be a home run as far as delivering a message. It may be a work of fiction, but it really illustrates the point that suicide isn't the answer and explains why.

On another note, I think that R.M. Fraser needs to put these lyrics to music, record and sell the album alongside the book! (Peer pressure) The fact that the reader can create their own tune in their head as they read is fun, but I'd love to hear the author's interpretation.

If you are interested in an fascinating concept and an interesting short. I think you should give Allesandra's Bequest a try!

Here are some links for you to check out!

R.M. Fraser's Author's Page

Author Blog: The Fraser File

After reading Allesandra's Bequest, I was itching to ask the author a few questions about his book, upcoming novel, and about his work spreading awareness about his life as a CODA (Child Of Deaf Adults) I think everyone needs to hear what he has to say, and I am happy to help spread awareness by introducing R.M Fraser to you. Please read on to learn more!

                            **AUTHOR INTERVIEW**


Me:   One of the things that intrigued me about your work is the concept. What inspired you to take your song lyrics and turn them into a short story?

R.M. Fraser: Honestly it was just a random thing. Back in my musician I played in a heavy metal/hardcore band. As a band, we took a very collaborative approach to writing our music. Any member of the band could come up with something and if we liked it, it would build. Towards the end of my run with Bedlam, I had written Allesandra's Bequest (Just the song). It never really got to the band before we split up, so it just sat in my head for a while. I continued to write poetry and music, and one day realized that a lot of what I had was fairly dark like Allesandra's Bequest was. After looking them over it just kind of hit me that they were all somehow related. That's when I thought of the concept album. So from there I wrote new music, lyrics, etc, and was able to put the album together in my head. It never got recorded due to lack of funds/resources. From there I eventually turned into an epic poem of sorts, where there was narrative verse around the song lyrics. I was never sold on the format, and decided to try a short story narrative. I felt it worked a lot better this way, and at the same time I had discovered indie publishing in the ebook area. All I needed was to put in some time, so I did. If there was any inspiration to draw from on the overall creation of the project, it was really Pink Floyd's TheWall album. I love that album and the story it tells. I guess I just went from there and changed it to a literary format. It's my first attempt at writing anything beyond music and poetry that I have published.
  
Me: Allesandra’s Bequest is bittersweet and deals with such sad topics of abuse and suicide. For a short story I felt you capture the tone and emotion with a passion. Who or what is your muse?
Did you ever consider taking the concept further and writing a longer novel?

R.M. Fraser: I'm not sure there was a muse for this. i think my thoughts were just often dark in that period of my life and aspects of suicide/grief and loss were on my mind frequently. I don't mean that I ever felt suicidal myself. I didn't. But there were a lot of teenage suicides where I grew up, and I had a lot of friends who were victims of abuse. I guess it was just around me a lot? Tough to put my finger on. As for writing a longer novel, i never really considered it with Allesandra's Bequest. The nice part about keeping it a short story is that it's more true to the original idea of the concept album. By not filling in all the blanks I can leave a lot more for the reader to infer on his/her own. Music is 100 percent that way, and I feel a novel would get rid of that element. I couldn't picture a story as unique as Allesandra's Bequest is in the way it was created to really be attempted as a novel, and especially as my first one.

Me: You suggest that the readers read the lyrics to their own ‘melody’, what genre of music did you have in mind while writing them?

R.M. Fraser: The genres are all over the place. Tracks range from heavy metal, pop, rock, mellow acoustic, almost folk. I think that gives you an idea. Try taking Tool, Pink Floyd, original Guns N Roses, The mellow side of Black Label Society, some alternative, Toad the Wet Sprocket-ish? I may have just screwed your mind up even more.

Me: You mention that you are a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) and your next work will reflect that. Can you share with my readers about the awareness you are creating, and can you describe your next book concept?

R.M. Fraser: Being a CODA is something I cherish dearly. My parents are/were culturally deaf, meaning they used American Sign Language to talk with us growing up. It made be bilingual, and I was signing before I could speak. At home I was always in the Deaf world, but with my other relatives and friends from school, I was in the regular hearing world. They are quite different places to be in many respects. The cultural norms and standards are somewhat different, and every hearing person who didn't know anything about Deaf people were always asking me questions about it. I've never let go of my own Deaf identity, and I guess that's what makes me a pure CODA. Transitioning from music and poetry into short stories and novels has also prompted me to take my knowledge of Deaf culture and make it more accessible to hearing people who know nothing about it, but have those questions. There are a lot of myths about Deaf people that need to be put to rest. Deaf people are also a very oppressed minority. It's really not much different from racism or sexism, or any other discriminatory 'ism' you can think of. The term Deaf people have for this is called Audism. I write a lot about it on my blog in hopes that hearing people who read it will have a better understanding of Deaf people. That's the awareness part. If more people are aware, then I believe it lessens the amount of Audism in the world.

My next book, and first novel, is really a mostly truth based story on my family, with a focus on myself being in both worlds as a CODA. There is heavy focus on my parents' childhoods as well, because it tells more of the stories of how Deaf people become who they are and how Audism impacts everything. From a CODA standpoint, being in two worlds has never been easy, and there's a struggle there worth delving into as well. There are tons of stories from our lives as a family that I feel can make a significant impression on any potential reader, and my goal is to make this entertaining and informative. This book is being written as a fictional style novel, but mostly everything in it truly happened from one person's perspective or another. Most books from CODAs are biographical. I love reading them, but felt this might be a good way for my CODA story to me "re-mixed", if you will. Up to this point, the only thing I have published related to anything Deaf outside of my blog is a poem entitled "Pride", from my ebook, Shadow Boxer, and other poems. It's about my father and what he meant to me after losing him to a sudden stroke 4 years ago. So really, this novel will be a tribute to my parents, to Deaf people (hopefully), and to CODAs everywhere.


Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Factory Bride by Elayne Chantrell

Every now and than life throws a curve ball your way. It's up to you as an individual to decide if you are going to let it make you or break you.

When sad or terrible things happen, what do you do to stay strong? Do you have people to support you? Are you lucky enough to have family and friends that you can lean on?
What if you were in the position of having no one?
Imagine yourself completely ostracized because of a single event and your life spins wildly out of control. How would you survive?

My next book is not for the faint of heart. It's an incredibly gut-wrenching book about a young lady's single mistake and how she ends up paying for it the rest of her life.



Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:
  
"Factory Bride is an historical novel containing adult themes. Set in rural and industrial England on to colonial Australia around the turn of the 18th Century.
Factory brides was the name given to female convicts who had been transported to Australia. They could be chosen to marry freemen and earn their own freedom.
Elizabeth, born to a strictly religious family, runs away from home and after giving birth to her illegitimate son, turns to prostitution whilst searching for her errant Uncle James McIver. 
Follow the incredible journey from a small village in Cheshire to becoming one of the richest women in Australia. Experience all Elizabeth's tragedies, sadness and happiness along the way. This story is emotional and courageous, but tainted with mistakes and misfortune"

My Take:

 I have read alot of emotional works of fiction, and by far Elizabeth's story is one of the saddest I have read in recent memory. She struggles to move on with her life after an indiscretion has left her unwed, pregnant and in search of her uncle who 'may' be able to help her after she has become an outcast. (An impulsive move to say the least) She's a naive, unworldly, frightened and desperate girl who just ends up in one awful situation after another.  Ever the dreamer, Elizabeth proves strong in the face of adversity and is determined to make her life better, no matter what it takes. Even if that means taking to the streets as a 'Lady Of The Night'.

For all the tragedy this character suffers, Elizabeth shows remarkable strength. Raised in a deeply religious family, no matter what happens, she keeps her faith in God. Through all the horror and injustice it is a wonder how her character still has her faith and good heart intact. She has a magnificent temper, and when she needs it, she uses it! Other times, she comes off as the way I imagine a young girl in those times would be very sheltered and at times too trusting. She has a tendency to act too quickly and not think her decisions through. Elizabeth is woefully ignorant of certain things, and ends up having to trust in kind strangers with questionable lifestyles. They are her only source of survival. Through all this, she holds onto the fact that one day she will be reunited with her love and life will be as it should.
Her character learns and grows as the story continues. It's hard to fathom how one little mistake can send you on a horrific downward spiral. Every time Elizabeth starts clawing her way out, life kicks her down again.

 I was absorbed in this story and at times I felt like crying. Factory Bride is a novel that as you read you need to remind yourself it is 'just' a book. The author is extremely descriptive in her writing. She paints a vivid picture of what life may have been like in the late 18th century. The despair of the lower classes, the uncleanliness, the attitude of the time period, even the description of the scenes (from moldy walls to filthy clothes)
I appreciated the detail Elayne Chantrell put into this novel. While this is a work of fiction, it  provides a great sense of history while also shining a light on how evil lurks in this world, transcending time.

That said, Factory Bride tackles some of the most disturbing and emotionally draining subject matter you can read. (abuse, rape, molestation) The sad truth that hangs over your head as you read, is knowing these circumstances are just as rampant today as was back then. There are deplorable people out there.That particular knowledge makes the book that much more tragic.The author has set out to create awareness and discussions through Elizabeth's tale.

The story of what became of female convicts who were shipped off from England to Australia was both sad and insightful. I am not as familiar with Australian history as I am with other countries, so I was intrigued by the storyline that takes Elizabeth on that particular journey. I have made note to read further books on the subject, both fiction and non. (You never know when I am going to be on Jeopardy!)

Factory Bride has enormous potential. I did have a few key issues that I felt could raise this book (IMO) from a 3.5 star (I liked it!) to a 4-5 (I loved it!) star rating. I will try to make some of my points with less detail here for the curious who don't want the book ruined for them. (I will post a more detailed spoiler review on Goodreads and link it to this page when it is up)
I wish the ending was slightly different. I did quite enjoy what took place, however I didn't want it to be 'The End'. I wanted some more 'happiness' just to balance out the story a bit.
Another thing to note the novel was heavy on the foreshadowing. While I don't mind it at the start of a novel, there were a few instances along the way where I didn't feel it was needed. I would have much preferred the tale to continue fluidly without the back and forth, forth and back....
I also wouldn't of minded some headings about the date and location where the story jumped around.
The good news is that personally for me, it didn't ruin the story for me or irritate me to the point of setting the book down. I wanted to find out what happens to Elizabeth and the story kept me hooked. I just wanted to see her finally catch a break.

 One part of this novel that I can relate to is being raised in a religious house. My father is a pastor and if you really want to examine my life's journey, I could be described as a 'wayward' preachers kid (I've been called worse!) While reading this I wonder what my life would have been like back than.Would my life have resembled Elizabeth's?

So the big question is, do I recommend this novel? You bet your tushy I do!

This novel is for those looking for a read with no fluff involved. It's captivating. One of the large reasons I am championing Factory Bride is because of the discussions it can and will create. I commend the author for the way in which she (as delicately as one can in this type of story) approaches difficult subject matter. This book can be an eye opener is so many ways.

I have a question for you: When you read a novel as raw and thought provoking as this do you class it simply as entertainment, or are you one to actually look deeper and take lessons away from it realizing the author is sending a strong message?

 It is not my intention to warn anyone away from this novel, but I feel I should strongly advise if you are remotely squeamish about any of the topics listed above (and I know a few of you are) than I invite you to email me and ask questions. I will be happy to help you decide if this novel is right for you.
Both Elayne Chantrell and I believe it is, so please see the Giveaway at the end of this blog for a free e-book copy and a chance to win one of two paperback copies from the author!

To reiterate: If you are 18+ and love a good historical novel, than you should read it. Life isn't all sunshine and roses. Once in a while reading a book that reminds you of that isn't such a bad thing.

I conducted a brief interview with Elayne to follow this post! Be sure to read what she has to say about Factory Bride! 

**It has been pointed out to me that some answers may be viewed as spoilers. I don't think it is that big of a spoiler, but this is a warning for those who may see it as such**

Me:  I had never actually heard the term ‘Factory Bride’ before your novel, I'm having a hard time finding reference to it on the internet. Is this a bit of unknown Australian history, or is this fictional?

Elayne:  Factory Brides are factual my research for this information is exemplified in Robert Hughes, exceptional work...The Fatal Shore.... Everyone should read this if interested in this period.

Me: At times during the novel, with the immense detail I felt immersed in the late 18th Century. How much research was involved in creating your story?

Elayne:  Apart from, The Fatal Shore, I immersed myself in the history. I visited both Liverpool and Australia. As a resident of Warrington myself I had ample opportunity for local research. I enjoy that part of the writing process immensely. After all every day is a school day...I am a great believer in the fact that confident writing is embedded in knowledge.

Me:  You tackle the very disturbing topic of child molestation in your novel. How hard was that for you as an author to write? Why did you feel it was necessary for the plot?

Elayne:  Ah, the molestation....I have to say that I have edited this considerably. I believe it to be the most heinous of crimes. And to that end it was considerably more graphic. My intention was not to award plaudits, but for the crime to be seen for what it was...a product of a sick mind. If that offends anybody I make no apology. To write it, was gut wrenching. On a par with how Elizabeth felt on learning that her son was dead.
  You may ask, if I felt strongly about portraying the act as a description of a character, why I then edited a lot of graphical information out. Simply because I realised that by being so graphic, it will turn readers off message, and that would be sad.

 Me: You mentioned to me that you are working on a new book. What can we anticipate from you next?

Elayne:  My new novel is set between the wars, i.e. 1922 - 1945 ish. It's about an ordinary girl, who is intelligent enough to become an educator, but is born into a family where it is too expensive to learn. That is the overall plot. Intertwined with that is a love triangle which sees Sadie loving a man she can't marry, and marrying a man she doesn't really love or know. As with Factory Bride, this won't be a conventional romance. At this moment, I am about one third in and even I am curious  about what Sadie is going to do.....

*********************************************************************************

                   **** FACTORY BRIDE GIVEAWAY****

This Giveaway is slightly different from the rest! Elayne Chantrell has generously offered 10 E-book copies (via Smashwords) for you. These books are up for grabs by request! First come first serve! Email me at: reeniediva@gmail.com with the title "Factory Bride E-Book'.

This offer will be removed once all copies are gone.

Don't have an e-reader? Don't worry!!!

Must be 18+ 

Giveaways are International!
                                                  

                                  ** CONTEST WINNERS!!!**


CONGRATS TO BRENNA D. AND CASEY K. WHO EACH WON A PAPERBACK COPY!!


I also invite anyone who reads this novel to please leave a review on Goodreads or Amazon and let the author know your thoughts!