Monday, March 28, 2011

Author Interview and givaway with Karen McQuestion

I have read several of Karens novels and find them to be thoughtful and well written. She has a strong following and I wanted to let her tell you a little about herself. Along with this interview, please leave a comment and you will be entered into a drawing for her two newest books, Life on Hold and Favorite.
I have reviewed the first which you can find on the link, and will have the second review by the end of the week.
Hi Karen and Thank you for your time in answering these questions.

Please supply your writing name as it appears on your book or e-book
and the name of your most recent published story.

Karen McQuestion--the author of two young adult novels, Favorite and Life On Hold. Both books have a release date of April 1, 2011.

Please introduce yourself to our readers. (Name, where are
you from, married, kids, go to school....things that your readers may find interesting.

I’m a writer who lives in Hartland, Wisconsin. I’m married to Greg, a great guy (also my tech support). We have three kids--all of whom make me laugh on a regular basis.

Tell us about your book.

I’ve written books for adults and I’m excited to have the opportunity to write for young adults as well.

Favorite is a hard book to categorize. It’s part mystery, part thriller, part coming-of-age. The main character, sixteen-year-old Angie Favorite, has never gotten over the loss of her mom, who’d vanished without a trace five years earlier. When Angie is attacked by a stranger, she discovers it wasn’t a random event—her attacker’s family is somehow connected to her mother’s disappearance.

Life On Hold is the story of Rae Maddox, a teenager who wants to set down roots, even as her free-spirited mother thrives on cross-country moves. The two finally settle in Wisconsin where Rae finds friends and love. All seems fine until she meets a new girl at school who has secrets of her own. I loved writing the book and I hope readers enjoy it.

What inspired you to be a writer or have you always had a passion for writing?

Like most writers, I was a big reader as a kid. I remember reading books and thinking that someday I wanted to be the one to create fictitious worlds for other people. At first I was long on ideas, but short on writing skills. I improved over time, with help from teachers and writer friends.

If you could give advice to aspiring authors, what would you say?

Write the book you’d love to read. Perseverance counts for a lot, so stay at it, even when you feel like giving up. Books are written one page at a time, and first drafts are never perfect. Keep the faith.

When you completed your work what was your most difficult roadblock to being published?

Over the course of nearly ten years, I wrote numerous books and submitted widely, but was rejected everywhere. When I finally found an agent, my books got compliments from editors, but no offers of publication. It wasn’t until I self-published on Kindle that I succeeded in getting my novels in front of readers. Based on my books’ incredible sales and great reviews, I landed a book contract with Amazon’s new publishing company, AmazonEncore. So I got my happy ending after all. 

Where can people go to get more information about you and your book?

You can find me online at: and

The drawing for these books will be April 6th. I will need an email addy so that I can forward it to Karen and she will forward the books to you. These two books would be an awsome addition to your library. Don't forget to leave a comment to be entered in the drawing.

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Broken Wings by Sandra Edwards

This Review Posted First on The Romance Reviews

In a twist of fate and a love for the ages, Sandra Edwards has built a romance that warms the heart. She has taken actual events from history and the lore of the gold rush days, and spun a story of love and heartache, a love so pure it seems like a dream. The characters are sensual and just a glimpse of our hero in a painting is enough to send the heart into overdrive, with a heat that leaves you shaken.

Rio Laraquette is a feisty but beautiful woman; on her own, she runs numerous cons. When she meets up with Turner Adkins, he has a job for her. He is a gangster of the worst sort and he has a game in mind to find himself some money. And not just any money either. He is looking for the buried treasure stolen by the Fuller sisters during a bank robbery back in the 1800's . What makes this con perfect is that Rio is the spitting image of Maggie Fuller.

Molly Fuller was killed during the robbery, Mary Fuller got away and home to California, but Maggie headed for the hills and there found a home with the Washoe Indian tribe. It was here that she met and fell in love with Tajan, the love of her life. But love and life was not to be for such star crossed lovers. When the posse caught up with her, Tajan tried to help her get away. She refused to head towards California and lead the posse to her only living sister, so they went the other direction and here found themselves at a dead end. With the posse in sight and knowing they would die, they chose to be together in death, leaping from the cliff and sealing themselves in their love for eternity.

As Rio poses as a relative of the Tajan's, her image is so much like Maggie's that any doubt melts away. There is a map, or at least half a map in the possession of the Tajan family, and Rio has the other half, given to her by Turner Adkins. She is to get them to lead her to the treasure, whereby he will then take control.

Sandra Edwards has built a strong yet fragile character in Rio. She finds herself in love with the Tajan of the story. She is drawn to him, or at least his likeness. She is so enamored she dreams of him, but the dreams are real. It is as if she is there. In love with the thought of him, the heat level is intense. What is happening to her? She feels as though she is someone else, and that Tajan somehow belongs to her. But he is dead, isn't he?

The Tajan of the story is a bold and noble warrior. Very much in love with Maggie, he is devastated when he thinks he will lose her. He is willing to give his life for their love, and understands there will never be another love like that he feels for her.

As the story comes together and the danger threatens to tear them apart, Ms Edwards has found the most beautiful solution and ending. In a brilliant and bold stroke of her pen, she has set the stage to bring Tajan and Maggie's love back to life. There is magic in this kind of love, creating the emergence of souls that resonate and return time after time, secure in a love that is everlasting.

Rating 5/5
Broken Wings

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Shard Mountain by Joseph Mitchell

Article first published as Book Review:Shard Mountain by Joseph Mitchell on Blogcritics.

On his way to prison for a crime as simple as excess parking tickets created a nightmare for Charles Rogers. A computer geek to his bones he still does not understand the process that put him in this place at this time. Along with a few other prisoners and guards his life is about to take a turn into the ‘Twilight Zone.’

The accident came out of nowhere, as the prison van moved to pass a military convoy, a tanker lost control veering into the bus. The last thing Charles remembered was the jarring feeling and a sudden burst of some form of silver liquid covering everything. Hitting his head, he did not remember anything else, never dreaming he slept, unaware of time passing.

Charles first burst of conscious thought came with a painful light. Blinking against the sudden pain, he felt uncomfortable. Hearing a voice, but not understanding the message, he hears that he would be very stiff from the amount of time that passed. Finding a voice that sounds familiar, he finally opens his eyes, only to realize that he is in a nightmare. Some sort of giant pink humanoid creature was looking at him. As he backed up against the bed quickly, a human reminded him to take it easy. Moosh was a friend and had helped to rescue him and his friends. But who or what is Moosh?

The surroundings were unreal, all metal pieces and parts domed off, with wires and technology everywhere. Although is all seemed surreal, he could see the damage to the equipment and lab, which is what they appeared to be in. As he began to get a grip, he saw there were two others with him from the prison van. A young man named Jake and one of the prison guards, Parker Boll. The human rescuer said his name was Brother Kevin and reminded them they must get away. Apparently, Moosh had found this bunker and killed the two mutants that were intent on killing them.

Hurriedly pulling themselves together, this ragtag group of humans with their mutant rescuer prepares to leave the area. Not prepared for the devastation he finds outside the dome, Charles is horrified. The world is not as he remembered it. It is barren and hostile, with one definitive wonder that stood above it all, a mountain of glass. Known as Shard Mountain, it contained secrets sill not known after hundreds of years. Looking again in surprise at Brother Kevin, he finds out that he and his friends have been sleeping for 500 years. The world as they knew it is not the same, it is a dangerous world and they will have to make their place in it.

In Shard Mountain, Joseph Mitchell has fabricated an apocalyptic world. It is full of danger and surprise. Both human and mutants inhabit the earth, but there is more––much more. Charles, Jake and Parker must find a place in this world; most of the cryotes (the awakened) are not so adaptable. Waking in the year 2581 has both its advantages and disadvantages, weapons are few, drugs are easily accessible, transportation is with stagles, and a mind speak exists that only a few are capable of. Having been asleep for all these years our heroes find their minds have been experimented with, but have no idea how.

This is a story of challenges and changes, of finding your place and your courage in a world different from anything you have ever known. It is full of savage predators, mutants, living machines and just about everything you can imagine from an ‘Alfred Hitchcock’ nightmare. The characters are much as you would expect and yet they grow and expand to fit the rising needs. Love is in store as well, and we will follow this group of individuals on their journey to find their place.

This is a novel of extremes, but has a story line quite in keeping with the expectations of those that predict these very things happening. Sometimes fiction is stranger the truth and Mitchell has brought us a world of the future. Come and visit a world that is bold and crazy, but be prepared for a long journey. This book is not for the faint of heart, but is full of incredible experience.

I would recommend this book to the science fiction aficionada. Be prepared as this is a book so filled with story and challenges it is quite long. At over 400 pages, be prepared to bury yourself in time, to dig into the volume of material. It is fun and has vivid depiction; the words transport you to the very time. Mitchell has done a great job of fictional prose, with such remarkable detail as to make you find yourself in this future. Hang on for the ride.

Rating 4/5

Shard Mountain

This book was received as a free e-book from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Life on Hold by Karen McQuestion

Article first published as Book Review: Life on Hold by Karen McQuestion on Blogcritics.

Life if sometimes really messed up when you are a teenager. Your parents don’t understand what you are going through. You can’t argue and win because they have all the answers. What Rae Maddox had a problem with, was moving. Every time she would just get settled in a new school, it was time to move on. Her mom was pretty cool but it was definitely something that created an issue for her. Because she handled it all with aplomb, her mom never really understood. At her current school, she has a couple of people that she hangs out with. She does not call them friends because then she will be moving and lose more people that are close to her. The pain is too much, and she will just have to start again.

Kylie and Mason are the group she hangs with, but Blake and his friends are the, “cool Kids.” She is just not a part of that crowd. So when she is singled out by her principle to help a new student adjust she does not understand. She is still feeling her own way to belonging, but as usual, she goes with the flow. The new student Allison is quiet and standoffish. Rae struggles with finding a common ground. When she finds out that Allison’s parents just recently died in a fire, she tries very hard to understand. Allison is Blake’s cousin, but he goes out of his way to treat her rudely and taunt her. When Allison meets Rae’s mother, Rae is unsure how she feels about the bonding that occurs.
What Rae does not realize is that Allison is hiding her wounds; she is not mentally capable of dealing with her parent’s death. The unkindness of her cousin Blake and her difficulty fitting in, just pile more stones upon an already fragile ego. When Allison disappears, no one understands what has happened. Searching her heart, Rae believes she understands where Allison may have gone. Will she find her before it is too late?

In Life on Hold, Karen McQuestion has taken the horrifying events that occasionally happen in life and used it to build a lesson of understanding. The characters are very much like teenagers everywhere. Life happens all around them, but they only plug into what shows on the surface. There are often deep waters lurking in the shadows of their minds that are unplumbed. As with most kids, making fun and scoring off someone else often gets you laughs, but those laughs are often painful to the person on the other end.

Rae is a young woman with a heart, growing up without her father, but with a mother’s undivided attention has given her a different view of life. Trying to put herself in Allison’s place, she tries to be kinder to her. However, Allison herself makes it difficult. Can Rae reach deep within herself to find the solution to Allison’s disappearance. Will she be too late to save her?

I would recommend this book for the young adult reader. It is a harrowing look at what can happen when a teenager’s pain goes unnoticed. It is an eye opening look at challenges, which sometimes seem insurmountable. I believe it would be a great book to open dialog and create discussion. McQuestion puts together a realistic and fast-paced look at life.

Rating 4/5

Life on Hold

This book was received free from the author. All opinions are my own based off me reading and understanding of the material.

Book Blogger Hop: 3/25-3/28

Book Blogger Hop
 This week's question comes from Mina who blogs at Mina Burrows:

"If you could physically put yourself into a book or series…which one would it be and why?"

Kay Hooper and her Noah Bishop series. I love the idea of paranormal investigation, all of her characters exhibit flaws, yet they are extremely charasmatic and full of tenacity. I could clearly find myself in the stories in my imagination, I want to be that investigator, the one I am reading about and emulating at the same time. LOL. Love the series.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tomorrow's Guardian by Richard Denning

Article first published as Book Review:Tomorrow's Guardian by Richard Denning on Blogcritics.

The nightmares continued night after night, Tom Oakley was always someone else in the dream. The faces were not any that he recognized and the time was somewhere in the past. Each occurrence dealt with the death of the person whose body he inhabited during the dream sequence. If that was not bad enough he was having issues when he was awake as well. He would seem to lose time, or find himself in a different place with no memory of how it happened.

He begins to think he is crazy, he is only eleven years old and his friends as well as the other kids are starting to look at him strangely. Even his parents are concerned. It is during this time he meets Septimus Mason and his life changes forever. Septimus hooks him up with Professor Neoptolemas, of the Hourglass Institute. It appears that he would like Tom to join the Tomorrow's Guardians.

When Tom declines, the Professor offers to take away his powers so that he can live a normal life, but first they need his help. He needs to help them rescue the three that he dreamed. Each of them is also walkers, out of time. In each instance, while they died in history no body was ever found. To the Professor this was proof that they must be saved.
Tom finally agrees, he wants to live a normal life, even though the time walking is cool, and he is very good at it. Making the plans to get the deeds done, Septimus agrees to help. There are other factions at work. Redfield is one of those who want Tom to fail. Tom is a threat to the course of history and there are those who feel he should have never been born. When he finally moves on to his next task he finds that Redfield will do anything to make trouble for him.

As Tom returns to his home, he finds he no longer has a home; his parents were killed in a fire before he was born and so he should not even be there. Yet he is. Because he was already in the future, he is still alive but has no parents or past. Can he go back to the past and save them? What will it take to rescue his parents and keep them safe in the future?

In Tomorrow’s Guardian, Richard Denning has put together a story of events out of British History. The time walking is done with an eye to reality, and the characters are engaging and sometimes wicked. Drawn from real life, the events are real, and Denning makes each rescue an adventure. There is danger and cunning inherent in each incident, keeping the action sharp and engrossing.

Denning’s characters are unique and fun, each with their own story. Tom is a great heroic figure for being a child and yet time after time he uses his ingenuity to outsmart the bad guys. He does not always understand the undercurrents of the episodes as they occur, but he invokes trust in those around him. He is mortified that he is the cause of his parent’s death, and will do anything to undo the terrible wrong that occurred.

Each of the other characters is a foil to Tom’s courage and ability. They are capable of acting on their own and yet when teamed with Tom they become major players.

I would recommend this to parents and young adult readers. It is an interesting and speculative look at time travel in a bit of a different light. It is adventurous as well as fun. The characters are interesting and the story will resonate with the young at heart. This would be a great addition to your child’s library.

Rating 4/5
Tomorrow's Guardian

This book was recieved free from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Castle Ladyslipper by Marilee Brothers

This review was posted first on The Romance Reviews

I always enjoy a strong hero and Marilee Brothers does not disappoint. In fact, she has created the perfect foil of characters and set them up in Northern London in the era of 1100. Garrick of Hawkwood is the King's man and sent to Castle Fairfield to marry D'Arcy's widow. This story is complete with danger, heroes, magic and mystery, lust and love. Twist that with secrecy and deceit, and you come up with a compelling story.

When Garrick shows up at the Castle, he finds very little in the way of soldiers, mostly farmers, one young boy and women. However, not just women––there are women of every age--cousins, aunts, children, sisters, women everywhere. With one exception, the woman he is to wed is not available, and a temperamental shrew is running the castle. She is the daughter of D'Arcy's first wife.

She is beautiful and willful and as stubborn a woman as he has ever encountered. Emma is the opposite of everything he has ever wanted in a woman and yet he is drawn to her.

He intimidates Emma, his presence unnerves her, and in order to control her fears, she is more hoydenish than usual. She is unkind and close to treasonous. She knows where her stepmother is located, but she lies to him. This is her place, and she does not intend to let anyone take it from her young stepbrother. Certainly not this rough but handsome stranger.

Emma is the oldest daughter and must carry the curse of the family, a locket that belongs to another. Until it is returned to its rightful owner, her family will never be free of the curse. All children born in her bloodline would be girls, and as the years have passed and the locket passed from one generation to the next, only girls are born. She currently has a younger brother but only because his mother was not of her family, and he is her half- brother.

Garrick is a hunk, handsome and bold, but he has grown up unhappy. Unloved by his father and sent to live with others away from his mother and brother, he finds that he has no trust in women. His mother did not stand up for him, and while he was away fighting for the King, his fiancé married his brother. Yet he must do as is commanded by the king.

Emma loves the castle and her people and will do anything to save them. Having been married previously to an abusive man, who later had their marriage annulled, she has made some powerful enemies. Garrick comes to her rescue, but when the king gets wind of the problem, he decides that Garrick must marry Emma instead.

The description of the times and the country are exceptional. The story is bold and tugs at your heart. The characters are fun and unique, quite interesting, fitting the story and the landscape well. The mystery surrounding the curse is fun and makes for an interesting situation. Marilee Brothers sets the stage for this fascinating story, and builds the tension and danger to keep you on the edge of your seat.

The heat between Garrick and Emma is passionate, full of temper and flair. The glances are tumultuous and lustful. The attraction is sensual and heartfelt, encouraged by those friends, family and even servants wanting nothing more than to see those they care about have what they can see and feel between them.

The story is fast paced, the temper and passions are bold, and the suspense is exciting. Ms. Brothers has written a story of historical proportions, and peopled it with characters you can care about. She has added a bit of magic and a curse making this more than just a love story. You will enjoy the passion and the humor.

Rating 5/5

This book was received as a free download through The Romance Reviews from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Witness Tree: The Story of Hattie Plain by Peter Tyner

Article first published as Book Review:The Witness Tree: The Story of Hattie Plain by Peter Tyner on Blogcritics.

Hattie Plain is an old woman, intent on finally reaching her goal in life. In her nineties, she has just found the perfect position, advice columnist at the Daily Record. As she leaves her home intent on an interview, she is startled from her reverie by her neighbor and best friend Ruth. Always the pessimist she believes that Hattie is just too old and will make a fool of herself. Hattie knows better, she wants a chance at an interview and has her resume with her in an old beat up Wal-Mart shopping bag. For want of a better form, this resume is her life story and her background, which makes her the perfect person to run the advice column.

Upon reaching the paper and stating her intent, she receives the brush off by the first person she encounters. She informs her that they are not hiring for the position and to head on home. Now Hattie is not having any of this, didn’t she just read that the previous columnist was fired? She found a chair and set herself down, vowing not to leave until she received her interview. As the day wears on, Hattie is first ignored then questioned, and finally threatened as she continues to remain firm. She has just heard the name of the man in charge and will no longer allow just anyone to interview her, only him, Mr. James Pierce. As frustration sets in with the staff, the owner of the paper finally shows up with security guards to escort her from the building.

It is at this point that things get a bit wild. As the guards grab her arms to lift her into a wheel chair, she stumbles pulling one of the guards on top of her. As he struggles to cuff her, she immediately starts to bruise. One of the staffers is on hand with his cell phone and taking pictures, which further panics the staff. When Hattie is finally lead to a holding room, rumors of her capture and possible abuse are leaked to the neighboring news groups.

As Mr. Pierce finally hears about the hubbub, he arrives in time to meet the indomitable Hattie Plain. Agreeing to an interview as long as she agrees to clear up the unfounded rumors, he is taken aback by the resume she has retrieved for her interview. Can he convince her that the position is not right for her, and get her to understand the papers stance on the subject?

Hattie Plain is a fascinating woman, and in A Witness Tree: The Story of Hattie Plain, Peter Tyner has put together a profound history of her life. The story is told through the notes and letters, as well as articles collected over her lifetime, revealing a life of amazing strength and courage, beginning at the age of thirteen years of age. The beginning of Hattie’s reminiscing is as a young girl at her first job writing essays for life at the newspaper in her hometown, working for Mr. Davis.

What Peter Tyner does so well is build a story from bits and parts of the writings and clipping of Hattie’s past building on the joys and pains, and the unforgiving past that revolved around those of color. The heartache and pain resonate with a fierceness that pulls you in. The tone of the novel deals with the history of the times, bringing to light the issues of the day. We follow the murders and mysteries of a time in history that dealt with Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. We relive the memories of the musical stylists of a time when black music was coming to the fore. Tyner weaves Hattie’s life through all the highlights and lowlights of the era, and finds a way to incorporate her life in the middle, making this an amazing and interesting journey.

I found myself tearing up as I read some of the stories and was horrified by the homes and lives destroyed during the era. This was a fast paced, extremely interesting story of historical significance.

I would recommend this story for a discussion group. It has great range and histories, names that resonate with the times and a character that exemplifies the very worst and best in all of us. This is a wonderful book and a must have for your library. If you enjoy history, you will enjoy the effortless weaving of historical names and places as well as the actual events of the day, making this a true reading adventure.

Rating 5\5
A Witness Tree: The Story of Hattie Plain

This book was received as a free down load from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Promise Kept by Brandy Hunt

Article first published as Book Review: Promise Kept by Brandy Hunt on Blogcritics.

In a history set in 2187, Lila Howell works as an archival historian. She works for the Security ministry, a part of the New Dawn Government also known as N. D. Her psychic abilities as well as her youth in a Crèche make her a commodity. She takes the autobiographies of those that lived through the passing. While the ministry continues to try to manipulate her, she has vowed she will never use her psychic abilities to hurt anyone. Her recent assignment leaves her concerned and confused. It is a bit unlike her previous orders, and signed by three different people, and unusual occurrence.

The woman she is to read is Susanne Newton, a woman in her nineties who worked and helped to found the New Dawn government. Someone is looking for information on the Southern Dragon. This is information suspected to be known by Susanne and is important to someone in the ministry. Lila finds herself intrigued with Susanne from the start. She is charismatic and has lived and amazing legendary life. Susanne is a farmsteader, whose best friend Larissa is with her in the home where she lives. In fact, Larissa has been involved with Susanne over the years, in both fortune and war. The stories from Susanne open her resolve and have her thinking about her own life and relation-ship with her family.

Second-guessing the quest, she finds that she herself has come under scrutiny by the very government she works for. She is being followed and her every move is being questioned. Who is the one known as the Southern Dragon and why would this very entity also aged into the nineties create such and effort at search. Lila finds herself at risk and yet as she continues her job, the more she learns the less she understands. Can she still get the information and protect Susanne, or will she have to disappear before her very life is no longer of value?

In Promise Kept by Brandy Hunt, the story is set in a world far in the future. A future that has changed and evolved over the millennium, and yet the farmer, or farmsteaders are those that maintain their freedom. Part of the change and yet able to withstand the winters and changing landscapes, even now they offer both hope and fear for the masses. Well developed, her characters are endowed with strengths as well as flaws, which draw you to them. They are likable and real, or the alternative, looking out for number one, not caring about others. This is much of what we see every day and it appears as though humanity remains much the same in this futuristic world.

Lila is a young woman with a gift that is valuable to the government. It lifts her from a life of drudgery, which is what many can only aspire too. The thing that the Ministry does not understand about her is that she has a strong sense of ethics. They can only push her so far. Susanne and her life brings out a spark in her that she did not know was missing.
Susanne herself is a wonderful and charismatic woman, a storyteller. But what interesting and amazing stories she tells. It is easy to forget her age as she brandishes her sword and battles the reevers and other dangers in the earlier times. Her friend Larissa is by her in every instance and story, both of them strong and courageous. Something we can all aspire too. The story is interesting and full of love and surprises, with an ending that will invoke envy.

I would have to recommend this book for reading and book clubs. It is both interesting and insightful, a book to grace anyone’s library, especially those that enjoy this genre.

Rating 4/5
Promise Kept

This book was recieved as a free download from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Visit Oasis for YA and Enter to Win a Critique

Oasis for YA

If you are a writer stop by for an opportunity to win a critique of your first chapter or query letter. If you are a blogger or reader, just stop by and check out this great blog.

Oasis for YA

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Redemption by Laurel Dewey

Article first published as Book Review: Redemption by Laurel Dewey on Blogcritics.

As Jane Perry’s undercover assignment is blown, she is as angry as hell. Having her bust taken over by the local authorities is like a kick in the pants. Having left a position with the police force and opening her own office as PI, she is very obsessive of her cases. Working with the FBI on this undercover sting was only going to build her business one more step. When she finds out, they have bypassed her and gone with the locals she sees red. Frustrated and worried she finds herself open for a new job. That is how she hooked up with Catherine (Kit) Clark. An older slightly eccentric bohemian type, looking for answers.

Kit is convinced the man who killed her granddaughter so many years ago, has just kidnapped another young girl. Recently released on bail, he is waiting for a new trial. Kit needs Jane’s help to track him down and find Charlotte Walker, the twelve year old who recently disappeared. Initially Jane is intrigued. The story Kit tells is tragic, blaming herself, the abduction and murder of her own granddaughter is heartrending. Yet it has destroyed her family and alienated them to the extent they consider her dead. She has come to terms with her life and her part in Ashlee’s death. Recently diagnosed with terminal cancer, she wants to put to rest and close the book on Lou Peters the alleged murderer. Now she is convinced he has taken another victim. Jane is hooked.

With media interest in the case, Jane tries to keep a low profile. However, how low can it be when she finds that her client-copartner in the case is just a bit kooky? She drinks jade water, walks backwards for relief of her back, and wears outlandish clothes. She eats herbs and is a naturalist. As Jane delves deeper into the disappearance of Charlotte Walker, she finds out that Catherine has not told her everything.

Immersing herself further in the case, she stumbles on a religious cult. Lou is deep in the group and they believe in his innocence. Lou has ingratiated himself and become close with the founder. Can Jane find Charlotte before it is too late? Will Lou’s madness escalate before she can find the clues?

In Redemption, Laurel Dewey further develops the character of Jane Perry who made her first appearance in Dewey’s first novel, Protector. Jane is a strong and opinionated character. She is a survivor of physical abuse as a child, and believes she has overcome her past. She is vulnerable because of that past, and it dictates many of her decisions in life. She finds she has difficulty trusting and pushes people away. When offered the chance to become Sergeant, she turned it down. Her old boss Weyler was one of the few people she trusted, but she needed a break, she had to get away. She really begins to like Catherine and get close only to find that Catherine also has a secret, which puts her at odds with the law.

Kit is a likable character, full of flair. She has lived an interesting life, growing up in the era of free love and flower power. She is gregarious and funny, with some extremely odd quirks. She believes her cancer was caused by her anger and hatred after the death of her granddaughter Ashlee. Not only did she feel at fault for her death, her daughter blamed her as well. The pain was so deep that forgiveness would never come. She has made peace with her life but worries at how the hatred in her daughter will make her ill as well. Her companionship is good for Jane, it steadies her in a way she has never had.

The spirituality of the book is subtle and flows throughout the background. It is intrinsic to the story and very interesting. Kit has some very interesting and thought provoking beliefs, without which this novel would not have been the same. Well written, the story is fast paced and thrilling. You will find yourself drawn to the characters and feel their pain as well. The mystery and plot are well researched and very believable.

I would recommend this book for those interested in suspense and murder. It also has a little twist of lightheartedness as well as sadness. I was not prepared to enjoy it as I did. I found it unique and interesting, and could not put it down. This would be a great book for a book club, it spans a time when changes were happening and cultures were new. It would create a great deal of conversation and opinions

Rating 5/5

This book was received as a free copy through the publicist. All opinons are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Whom God Would Destroy by Commander Pants

Article first published as Book Review: Whom God Would Destroy by Commander Pants on Blogcritics
We often have to ask ourselves, what is reality? Just because my reality is different from someone else’s, does that make it wrong? What would happen if God chose to come into the 21st century to live among us? Would he be surprised or would he fit in and go with the flow. In Whom God Would Destroy, Commander Pants has written a satirical look at an entirely different existence than the one that consumes us. In this light-hearted and satirical story, he has created a twisted and alternate truth.

In this comedic look at what happens when conspiracy and psychiatry mingle with aliens, Commander Pants' characterizations in the different plots and subplots have you scratching your head and mumbling to yourself. While he creates dreamscapes and landscapes, the characters come alive with theories and plots of their own. As you follow the flow from each direction, it is like stepping off into a void. One moment you are sane and then you join the Mad Hatters tea party, where anything can happen. Then it does. This is “A Novel about taking reality with a pillar of salt.”

Whom God Would Destroy has a way of making you question the way you look at life and the things you think you know. As Commander Pants delves into religion and sanity with a deft hand, he launches aliens in the mix by introducing them to McDonalds' Big Mac, and the ultimate orgasm. Only an extraordinary mind can juggle such an extreme cast of characters and storylines and still come out with an interesting and slightly hysterical novel. Follow along with a zany cast, find yourself kidnapped by aliens, then buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Through it all, as God settles in to reach the masses, he develops a new term for the quality of life: Meism. A charismatic character that attracts all of the wrong kinds of people, he only adds to the level of satire, inherent in the theme of the entire novel.

If you like satire and enjoy a good laugh, Whom God Would Destroy is the book for you. It would be interesting reading for a book club or reading group. Following the characters and watching how they come together to make for a fully realized read, would lend tidbits to talk about for hours. This is an uncomfortable and often laugh out-loud book, sure to stir your thoughts

Rating 4/5
Whom God Would Destroy

This book was received as a free copy from the Author. All opinions are my own based off me reading and understanding of the material.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Agent X by Noah Boyd

Article first published as Book Review: Agent X by Noah Boyd on Blogcritics.

Kate Bannon, FBI agent is having one of her worst nightmares ever. She feels like she is dying. As she pries open her eyelids, she realizes there is no dream, only real life. Someone has left her car running and she is breathing in fumes, unable to open her garage, which is jammed, in the back of her mind she realizes that this will look like suicide instead of what it really is. Who is it that is responsible for her murder?

In the hospital, Bob Lasker, Director of the FBI is cautiously waiting for her to wake. He has questions only she can answer. Unlike the others, he does not believe the evidence. Kate needs to find out who is after her and why. It is time for her to call Steve Vail for help. Steve has always been at his best in these situations and she has always been able to rely on him. Will he help her this time? Never one to follow the rules he has left the business and is now pursuing his own way as Bricklayer. Growing up in his father’s footsteps, it was what he was groomed for. A rule breaker, not a rule taker, he chose to leave the business.

Kate is not sure he will help, and if he does, can she keep him within the guidelines required by her Director? With only one man believing her story, will Vail also understand that she is in danger, not from herself but from others? When Steve agrees to help, digging into the deceit behind her most recent problems, the evidence takes them into the dark and dangerous underground of the spy network. Whom do they trust, in this political game of tag?

In Agent X, Noah Boyd has built a layer of deceit that only the best minds could follow. Nevertheless, as each clue is unraveled the bad guys are murdered before they can be debriefed. Steve and his trusty companion Kate follow the trail, to find the deep undercover spy and unmask him, but at each turn, the adversary is ahead of them. While close and having a great respect for the other they both work off differing agendas, neither trusting the other with all their information.

Kate believes in Steve, but not all the information adds up when the ousted spy’s die, many at the hands of Steve himself. Is he only in the wrong place at the wrong time as he claims or is he responsible for the deaths? She is vulnerable without the entire backing of her crew. Whom does she believe when the evidence points in varying directions? She is strong and smart, but what is really happening? Can she take a leap of faith and follow her heart, or will she follow the advice and evidence as presented.

Steve is secretive and has his own agenda. He is extraordinarily bright when it comes to seeing the big picture, but he struggles with putting his faith in others. He is adept and cocky, going his own way, using the information he garners to flesh out further spies, and information. But who is guiding him with bits and pieces of clues, leading him into fray after fray, only to murder the suspects before they have a chance of digging out the truth. Steve is the quintessential MacGyver with just a bit of Mack Bolen thrown in. Boyd has written a fine, fast paced and intriguing suspense, keeping you guessing. Just who are the bad guys, and will Kate make the right choices?

I would recommend this book to those who enjoy fast-paced adventure, set in a spy thriller. Vail is a wonderful character and sure to be one to bring back time after time. The moniker of Bricklayer helps to flesh out his persona, both solid and well-constructed with strength of character. This is an exciting novel with strength of purpose and hard to put down. This is action and adventure at its finest, a thrilling ride.

Rating 4/5
Agent X
This book was received as a free copy by GoodReads First Reads. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.
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Turned: Book # 1 in the Vampire Journals by Morgan Rice

Caitlin Paine was not sure why she always seemed to stand out, there was nothing about her size or her looks that made her different and yet there was something that made people look twice. Starting in a new school and starting at midterm made this even more noticeable. Usually she could skate by and be inconspicuous as possible, but now there was no way. Making her way to class and going through the scanner, she is again noticed and pulled aside. Her necklace set off the scanner, a cross that she had always worn.

The one person in school that did not treat her differently was Jonah, a nice young man often made fun of by the other students. Fighting to find a space in the cafeteria for lunch was nauseating, and after trying for some time without success to find a seat she finally found one in the very back so she could be by herself. Things were so much different for her little brother Sam; he made friends and fit in no matter where they were. At school, she remains a bit of a loner, except for Jonah. She finds that his love and his pride and joy are his violin. Music is his life.

After her initial first day and her nausea, she just does not feel right, everything is wrong, and she feels odd. After heading for home, feeling hot and uncomfortable, she sees a few of the bullies from school picking on some one. She is not able to see the victim and stays in the shadows to avoid problems. When the bullies clear, she sees a violin busted into pieces and Jonah beaten and bruised, unable to move. Something comes over her, a rage with no control. Her body begins to react on its own, the rage becomes all-powerful, she becomes stronger, and more than whom she is. Letting out a primal roar as she attacks, she breaks the first attacker’s wrist. The second attacker comes at her but her body moves at speeds and angles she cannot comprehend and both feet hit his chest knocking him into the trashcans where he does not move again. Who is she and what has just happened?

In Turned, by Morgan Rice, she has built a story of differences. Caitlin has just found she is far different than she ever imagined. How has this happened and what does it all mean? As she continues through school and finds strange and painful changes happening to her, she does not know where to turn. The pain begins to cause further sensations, sensations of hunger. Her vision changes and she can see the pulse in her friend Jonah’s throat.

As Caitlin fights to find the answers, she only finds more questions. Soon a body is found drained of blood, and Caitlin knows she is responsible. Now there are others looking for her as well. Her family is falling apart and she no longer understands her life.

This is a fast-paced story about youth and changes. While I found that as the story progressed and built on its theme, the beginning began entirely without enough depth or explanation. The story is good, a solid foundation, but I would have found it more believable and interesting with a more substantial build up, the powers came on too quickly and too unbelievably. Even with that, the story is good, with strong potential. The book gains speed and agility as the characters begin to build and Caitlin will make a great protagonist. This is a good twist on the usual vampire story, with a unique ending.

Rating 3/5

This book was recieved as a free e-book from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Blog Hop and Follow Friday

Book Blogger HopThis week's question comes from Ellie who blogs at Musings of a Bookshop Girl:

"If I gave you £50 (or $80) and sent you into a bookshop right now, what would be in your basket when you finally staggered to the till?

My answer is Hidden Will of The Dragon by Charlie Courtland, Redemption by Laurel Dewey and as many books by Kelly Armstrong that I could with the leftover. :)

Feature & Follow Friday #36

Home > Feature & Follow Friday > Totally Obsessed

Happy Follow Friday everyone! Let me tell you a little bit about this HOP. Every friday or really Thursday evening we all get together and say HI! But, we need to know how to find you, so please your link in the Mr. Linky below. Also on Follow Friday we have a Feature...because alliteration is the way we roll. Each week is a different feature from the book blogging community. They are picked randomly or I give in after multiple harassing emails. Just depends on the week. If you want to be next weeks feature...leave your link. Also, I've had a recent rash of people signing up on the linky weeks later, which sort of defeats the purpose. If you want to participate check back here on the next Friday!

Our feature this week is...

Ashley of Bookaholic Does Blogging

I'm Ashley and I run Bookaholic Does Blogging! I started Bookaholic Does Blogging in October 2010 when I discovered my personal blog was becoming a sea of book posts. I'm pretty open in my taste for books and there isn't much I won't read. I most enjoy paranormal books, though I'll pick up a chick lit just as easily. Some other genres I love include historical fiction, mystery, romance, and pretty much anything that is fiction. It's a rare occasion when I read a non-fiction novel.

As far as Ashley the girl, I am currently a junior in college studying Accounting, Finance, and Economics (it's a lot -- I know)! I am currently engaged and planning a Fall 2012 wedding. I also have two awesome cats that I love. =) In addition to reading, I enjoy shopping and crafty things as well. =)

Q. Just like Ashley said (love it) "Ashley the girl..." who are You the Boy/Girl, instead of You the Blogger?

I'm Rachel the Girl. The thirty-two year old mommy (3 year old girlie) and wife (hottie Marine vet) and corporate slave (indentured servant). I'm a Graphic Design manager/minion for a business management company in New Orleans. I have 1 dog and 2 cats + 4 or 5 fish. I don't drink enough and my family is so unbelievable huge that they usually plan my other waking moments when I'm not blogging or being that mom or wife. I'm also very into art so if I'm not bloggin, I'm designing on the puter. XOXO Happy Friday ya'll

Ten Good Reasons to Lie About Your Age by Stephanie Zia

Article first published as Book Review:Ten Good Reasons to Lie About Your Age by Stephanie Zia on Blogcritics.

Living the dream and having a life that others only wish for is an amazing existence. Spending your life with the man you love, watching your children grow together is only what happens to other people. But what if that other person happens to be you? And what if instead of growing old together, he dies in a tragic accident?

Sally Lightfoot is now living this life. Growing up in the time of free love and music, she found the man of her dreams, a music producer who loved life and fun, as well as Sally. Bereft at his death she does the best she can, coming to terms with the changes. Age is a factor, she is no long young and her children have grown, money too is a new issue she is has to deal with. Her only option is to sell the home that they so lovingly put together. Dissociative behavior seems to rule her life, she struggles just doing the simple things, and yet she must. The house is barely on the market when she finds a buyer, yet she is still not sure where she will go or where she will live. As she decides to take a vacation to a remote Greek island, a chance to regroup her life and to reconnect with her children, she realizes that her life no longer has meaning. She is no longer sure who she is.

In Ten Good Reasons to Lie About your age, Stephanie Zia has developed a story of life and hope. Sally is a woman who buried herself in her marriage and her children. She lost her footing when her husband died, and struggles through her new life. Interrupted in the most devastating of ways, life has changed and she is unsure of herself. Their friends slowly slip away into their own lives, but she makes friends with a neighbor that she barely tolerated before Dominic’s death. This neighbor gives her a stability she needs.

Being on her own on the island brings a new set of problems, but as each day moves into the next and as she makes her rental habitable she finds a beauty she did not expect. Even those she was most awkward with have become her friends. When she meets Loro, all bets are off. Handsome, close to her own age he has the voice and the charisma to carry it off. Life takes on more meaning as Sally’s life takes another turn.

Stephanie Zia makes you feel the pressure and hopelessness that is Sally’s life, from the funeral right through her grieving process. As life begins to bloom again, you feel the veil lifted along with her, and when she finally makes decisions based off her own feelings, you cheer her on. Through it all, she feels as though Dom (her dead husband) continues to try to take care of her from the other side. As love and longing bloom, she finds she no longer needs that crutch and is able to get back to real living.

I would recommend this book for reading and book clubs. It is insightful and delightful, full of thoughtful dialogue and exceptional clarity. Sally feels real, like a neighbor or a friend and that makes the story take on a presence of its own. It is a story of hope and learning to love yourself, to find that inner you that sometimes is lost when we make other’s lives more important than our own. This is a book about life and it is a romance as well, you will get lost in the story and not want to put it down until it is finished.

Rating 4/5
Ten Good Reasons to Lie About Your Age

This book was received as a free e-book from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sink or Swim by Stacy Juba

Taking a page out of the popular reality series, Sink or Swim is a fun and sometime unnerving novel about the stalking of celebrities, and even pseudo celebrities including reality stars. Often, just being in the public eye for a moment can cause a tailspin. That is the case of Cassidy Novak, the contestant and second place winner of the game show Sink or Swim.

Mortified and unaware of the amount of people she has affected, she leaves the show in the most undignified of ways, by walking the plank. Knowing she will have to go back to a job she does not care for, she is surprised when a publicity agent wants to sign her up. As she drifts back into her usual routine, she finds that her life is anything but usual. Creepy and unusual people begin to follow her. One young girl wants to be her, to remake herself in Cassidy’s image. However, even worse is the stalker that leaves her gifts and steals personal items from her parent’s home.

More than unnerved she brings in the police and shares her horror. As the notes and gifts continue to show up, the stalker is getting closer and closer. The real terror begins when the winner of Sink or Swim is found murdered. Cassidy fears that her stalker could have the same designs on her. When another member of the popular cast of contestants to Sink or Swim is murdered, Cassidy no longer knows what to do. Initially she hides out with her parent’s friends, but decides she will not be driven away. Will she come home only to be the next body on the list?

Stacy Juba has put together a story about the reality game shows that are popular currently. She takes the celebrity status of the cast and creates a real life murder and mystery. The characters are well written and priceless. You either love them or hate them, as is the way of reality TV. Trying to figure out in this cast of characters who is the most sinister is thrown off balance, when the one most odd is the first one murdered. Throw in a red herring or two with the wacky personalities now following her after the show, and twist in another few people that are new to her and yet she feels compelled to trust.

You get a mix for a possible disaster where not everything is what it seems. The surface of those you think you know is often a façade. This is a great whodunit mystery with a thread of romance throughout. Be careful what you wish for, it may not be what you expect when you are gifted just that.

This is a wonderful and fast-paced, with a cast of characters that could rival Survivor or the Amazing Race. The contestants could not be more real. The romance is just right and tagged as an aside to the actual story with is about the dangers of celebrity. A satisfying read.

Rating 4/5
Sink or Swim

This book was recieved as a free download from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Elijah's Coin by Steve O'Brien

Article first published as Book Review: Elijah's Coin by Steve O'Brien on Blogcritics.

Every day we make choices. Sometimes they are good choices and take us forward, but often they are not. There are times that if we only knew what would happen in regards to a particular decision, we might have made a different choice.

Thomas Wagner made a conscious choice to steal. He decided to break into an old time retail house, just to see if he could. He had grown up without his mother, murdered when he was a child; a day never went by that he did not miss her. One day he would find out the story on her murder and he would find the man responsible, but that would be some time in the future, and could not stand in his way now. This was his choice and he would see it through.

Once in the building he hears something, someone else is there. Who could it be, was it possible there was a security guard. Thomas continues to try to stay hidden, hoping only to reach the door without incident, but he is found. The odd thing was that the man who found him was dressed as a rent-a-cop but did not appear to want to take him in. After talking with Thomas for a time, he told him that he was there to help him learn a lesson. He introduced himself as Elijah King.

Before he knew it, Elijah had him agreeing to the lesson. Thomas was spellbound by the message he was hearing and by the people that Elijah had helped. Elijah handed him a special coin after his second lesson, letting him know that he would meet the following night. Showing for the lesson, Elijah was not there and when Thomas panicked thinking something may have happened to him, he found himself on the wrong side of the law. This time the officers called the owner of the building and found out there had never been a night watchman, and no one knew a man named Elijah King. Thomas was extremely worried.

This is a wonderful story, a form of pay it forward.In Elijah's Coin, Steve O'Brien has sent a message of hope and love. It is fun and well told, an extremely fast-paced story, filled with possibilities. Engaged by the story from the beginning I found the characters, especially Elijah King to be very charismatic. Each of the personalities that Thomas met as he searched for Elijah became a part of his learning process, but a part of his inner circle as well. Each member of this group received a coin, a special coin, making them all a part of Elijah's inner circle as well.

I would recommend this book for any one that is looking to learn about hope. Written with thoughtful prose and wit, it would make a wonderful book for a reading group or book club.

Rating 5/5
Elizah's Coin

This book was recieved from the Cadence Group. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.
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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Twenty-Five Years Ago Today by Stacy Juba

Taking a job she has no experience with, Kris Langley is glad to be home. Editorial assistant at a newspaper was not her original plan. However, due to an opening and her preference for the four-midnight shifts, she was hired on the spot. Her mother is embarrassed at her chosen career, being a Doctor she finds Kris’s new job writing obituaries and finding fluff articles for the paper a step down. Never close, Kris is further ostracized away by her cold behavior. Her father though is as proud as punch, he has always been behind her choices, and lending her an ear whenever possible.

On a twenty-five years ago feature Kris comes across an unsolved murder case. Asking questions and finding no real answers, Kris researches further. As she learns more about the murder, she oversteps the scope of her job by contacting the murdered woman’s family. Finding a family still reeling from the pain of the loss even after twenty-five years, she agrees to look further.

Kris’s cousin Nicole had been murdered when she was twelve years old, and Kris blamed herself, having been the last person to see her. She understands the pain involved with this unsolved case.

As Kris starts to ask questions and unravel some of the clues it is not long before she is on the trail of a killer. As the clues begin to build Eric Soares, the nephew of the murdered woman feels as though Kris is taking advantage of the family. As they meet and discuss the issue, he finds himself more drawn in, helping in whatever way he can to help. Kris also has the help of Dex Wagner, Editor in Chief and when she runs into problems, she asks for his help. When the paper discovers what they are up to, Dex is asked to resign and Kris loses her job. Who will follow up and find the killer? How will Kris resolve both her feeling on the murder and her issues at home?

In Twenty –Five Years Ago Today, Stacy Juba has put together a story rich with life and pain. Kris is a damaged young woman still on the verge of self-discovery. She has carried a secret since the murder of her cousin when they were young girls and has been unable to forgive herself. Her family situation has been tenuous at best, and she has never been able to live up to her mother’s expectations. Her sister is everything her mother envisioned, so Kris relies on her father. The family is fractured and with the lack of communication, it appears it will remain that way. Kris feels that if she can find the murderer then she can relieve some of her perceived guilt from her cousin’s death.

Kris’s Mother is a strong woman and is not sure how to react to Kris. They are nothing alike and she is aware that something is eating at her, but can find no way to alleviate that pain. This pain has become a type of contention between them only further escalated by the comfort her mother feels around her sister. Kris feels left out.

This is a story of murder, but also the story of hope. Well written, the drama and the story flow is excellent. I love a good whodunit, and this story does not disappoint. The characters are wonderful, people you would meet anywhere. Kris is bold and intuitive, and yet she still has a vulnerability that draws you in. And what good is a great mystery without a love story. This book has it all.

Rating 4/5

This book was received as a free e-book from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.