Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Love of My Other Life by Traci L. Slatton

Posted first on Blog Critics as Book Review:'The Love of My Other Life' by Traci L. Slatton.

The possibility of a parallel universe is an interesting phenomenon. If such a reality existed, could you cross over and if so would you take such a chance?
In The Love of my Other Life by Traci L. Slatton, we meet painter, Tessa Barnum. Never easy, her life has just become a struggle. Her husband left her, she is about to be evicted, and she has all but stalled her career. Now suddenly she has a stalker. A scruffy, yet good looking man seems to be following her. When she finally confronts him, she realizes that he could be just a bit touched. He claims he was married to her in an alternate universe. There, their love was the stuff legends were made of. When his wife of that world died he built the machine that allowed him to cross dimensions, just to find her.  Shaking him off, allowing for his mental instability, she continues on with her life. Yet he is only a step away. Unable to shake him, she soon finds that while he is a mess, she is comfortable around him.
So begins a strange friendship. Yet she is still trying to make her mark, and in doing so puts herself at risk of the law. Brian, her stalker, becomes her conscience. As his own story unfolds she finds her own world turned upside down as she learns the truth behind love and loss, and second chances.
This is a fun and romantic take on the power of soul mates.  As Slatton creates her characters, she imbues them with warmth and recklessness. There is a boldness and vulnerability attached to Brian that draw you to his character. Tessa is also a fun character, but a bit more ambitious and not quite so forgiving.  As you follow these characters you are drawn to the possibility of their connection. It creates a warmth and yearning as you find yourself encouraging Tessa to choose love over logic.
If you enjoy romance and science fiction you will find this a surprisingly lighthearted dose of both. I was charmed by the story although the surprise ending rattled me in a strange way. This would be a great book for the romance reader, take it along on a trip. An easy read, you may find yourself chuckling over the antics as they unfold. The comedy and romance keep you entertained, with just that small bit of satisfaction.  
Rating 4\5
This book was received free from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Prodigal by Michael Hurley

Posted first on Blog Critics as Book Review:'The Prodigal' by Michael Hurley.

Romance and Romanticism, are they one and the same, or is the distinction just so complicated they sometimes get interchanged. Or can they also be just a part of the same whole. In real diction romance is about that feeling associated with love, while romanticism is often a description of that romance or a feeling emphasizing inspiration, subjectivity and the primacy of each individual.
In the Prodigal by Michael Hurley, both come together in a battle of supremacy.  The romance of a story from long, long ago, one of star crossed lovers finds a way into the present. In 1851 a pair of young lovers steel away from their parents disapproval, stealing a sailing ship known as the Prodigal. With this beautiful ship known for its blessings and unnatural speed, they escape leaving behind both grief and loss.  
150 years later we meet Aidan Sharpe. As an attorney he has done well, rising to the top, but he has never really lived his dream.  Yet visiting on Ocracoke Island he finds himself in an untenable situation. Some of his time is lost in memory, yet he remembers wine given to him by a nude woman on the beach, and when gathering himself together as best he can in his aftermath of the evening another woman offers him water.  A seeming portent, his life is soon infected by scandal and disbelief.
Hiding away from his painful dismissal he finds himself caught up in the story of a two-thousand-year-old mystery when the sudden appearance of a ship is found off the coast, adrift and unmanned. As he researches the possibility of its history and the chance it could be the Prodigal, he finds himself even deeper in the morass as he races against time to pit himself against the best in the regatta world.  
Hurley has given us a story of hope and romance, yet the romanticism is what drives his motivation. There is something magical and majestic in his descriptions of the sea and the character of his histories.
His protagonist, Aiden, is like many of those people we sometimes think of as oily in their choice of career, yet when he finds himself down and out, he discovers a different person inside. We are there as he becomes a hero to many and we go from thinking he got his comeuppance, to rooting for him to win the race now the most important thing. The others along the way try to stop him, yet he somehow comes up with solutions even as all seems lost.
This is a story of amazing depth, and exciting adventure. There is a deep and abiding belief in both magic and religion, but the true mystery is the ship and the ocean. You will find this an interesting contrast to most romance, but will be intrigued with the vagaries.  
This would be a great book for a reading group or book club. It would also do well as a curl up on the couch and dream of adventure story. Hurley has given us something to think about and believe in. (ourselves)
Rating 4/5
This book was received from the author. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Marilyn Monroe, On The Couch by Allma H. Bond, Ph.D.

Posted first on Blog Critics as Book Review:'Marilyn Monroe, On The Couch by Alma H. Bond, Ph.D.

Famous for her beauty, her acting, her legendary marriages and affairs with the Kennedys, Marilyn Monroe had it all. Or did she?
Beginning life in squalor and orphaned at a young age, she seemed to struggle to find her own place in the world. One of the most beloved figures of our time, she will always remain the enigma of her own doom.
In Marilyn Monroe, On The Couch by Alma H. Bond, Ph. D., we are voyeurs of a very private woman, one who lived so much more on the inside than on the outside. The depths of pain and disquiet, fear and distain that swirled within played a strong tug-a-war, where in the end Marilyn lived a life that glittered on the outside while constantly searching for the love she felt would make her whole on the inside.   
Bond gives us an intensely personal look into the psyche of a tortured spirit. Wanting only love, rejection was the more accurate response for most of Marilyn’s life. Unable to conquer her bouts of depression, she sought counseling, which is where we are privy to her soul.
I have always admired Marilyn’s courage and vivacity, but had no idea of the raw wounds she acquired during childhood that helped develop the person she became. They both shaped her and destroyed her, leaving us a glorious vision that will always be her epitaph.  Her beauty will never fade and her fans will never forget.
This work is so full of the vitriol and raw emotion she went through, the sadness and anger leap at you taking you in unexpected places.
Was her death inevitable, a place for her tortured spirit to rest, or was she driven by those around her. Always surrounded in mystery she shines. Even with such a personal take if you ever wanted to know more of this legend, then you will find many answers in Marilyn’s own words. Yet the sadness and pain will have you questing, was there more that she does not say.
This would be a wonderful work for a book club or reading group.  Be prepared for sadness for it permeates and retreats in ripples and waves from the glittering rock star of a beautiful American Icon, Norma Jean to Marilyn Monroe and back again.
A true tragedy for a woman of such determination and conviction.
Rating 5/5
This book was received from the authors publicist. All oninions are my own based on my reading and understanding of the material.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Maddie's Choice by Joyce Zeller and Giveaway entry chance.

Posted first on Blog Critics as Book Review:'Maddie's Choice' by Joyce Zeller.

Chance encounters are often just that. Yet there are times of serendipitous interactions, when a reason exists unknowingly that will change a person’s life forever.  An unexpected meeting that changes both parties, setting in motion a chain of events unexpected in the beginning.
In Maddie’s Choice by Joyce Zeller, you will find yourself charmed by the interaction of characters that are thrown together due to an encounter in the past. Maddie is a writer finding that depression and anxiety have become a part of her life. Unhappy with her writers block and unsure how to resurrect her flailing abilities, she receives a letter giving her half a cattle ranch from a man she had met many years before during a sudden storm. Having kept in touch over the years she had no idea of his intentions.
Needing the opportunity to get away, she is convinced that the break will jump start her writing. She has no intention of accepting the boon; she just wants to take a peak. Unprepared for what she finds when she gets there, her heart and temper get the best of her.
Gideon Spartman has his own dilemma.  A Black-ops veteran with his own ghosts, he finds himself the guardian of two young boys, and half owner of a ranch he doesn’t want.  He is furious about the will leaving a stranger part of the property and makes sure to let Maddie know of his feelings as soon as he meets her.
The chemistry is undeniable though, and flames leap to the surface of a story that is heartbreaking as well as dangerous. Cattle rustling is destroying the very fabric of the small, sleepy, town’s livelihood and the stakes have just gotten higher.
The tension and anger simmer below the surface but the attraction sizzles off the pages in this unforgettable story of love and courage.
If you are a fan of Westerns, packed full of action you will enjoy this work. The Romance aficionado will find the heartbeat of the story holding them hostage even as mayhem breaks loose, cementing a set of feelings long denied.
Zeller has given us a romance with teeth and put it in a setting full of possibilities and excitement.  The characters are not without flaw and the interaction of people and events take you there, among them.
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Maddie's ChoiceBook Summary:

Romance writer Maddie Taylor is fed up with New York City. She is getting nowhere with her latest manuscript and does not believe true love exists outside of her imagination. When a friend, Jonah Spartman, dies and wills her half of his Arkansas cattle ranch, she sees the chance for a new beginning. Jonah has also left behind two orphaned great-grandsons desperate for affection and an accounting book in the red.
The other half of the failing ranch belongs to Gideon Spartman, Jonah’s grandson, who believes all capacity for love was torn from him during his tour of duty in Afghanistan. Rugged and sexy, Gideon is the enthralling physical manifestation of the hero in Maddie’s current manuscript. He is far from happy to be sharing an inheritance that is rightfully his. As she senses the need behind Gideon’s rough and unwelcoming exterior, Maddie acknowledges her own yearning for love and family.

Jonah’s will requires Maddie to stay on the ranch for three months. When that time is up, will she return to her comfortable but emotionally barren existence or embrace the challenges of her new life, which include cattle rustlers and drug dealers? Maddie’s choice proves to be far from simple.

Joyce Zeller's Bio:

Joyce Zeller has written articles for a magazine and a cooking column for a chain of suburban newspapers north of Chicago. She has written five books and published two, The Hidden History of Eureka Springs, and Accidental Alien, a work of science fiction, both available on Amazon. Her short story, “Love is a Seed,” is featured in Embrace: A Romance Collection, (2012 Goldmine Press). Joyce has served in the United States Army. As a professional perfumer (School of Perfumery, London, England) and an aroma-therapist, she made custom fragrances in her store. Her creation, Mountain Air, was declared the Arkansas Sesquicentennial Fragrance in 1965. Her latest achievement was getting elected as Alderman to the Eureka Springs City Council. Maddie’s Choice is a romance with her favorite theme, that being human is a lonely business, but for everyone there is somebody to love. It’s a matter of finding them. There will always be kids and animals in her books, and always, humor, “because life without humor is unthinkable.”

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $14.95 paperback
Pages: 274
Publisher: Camel Press
Release: September 1, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-60381-959-6

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