Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Blog Tour: The Immortality Virus by Christine Amsden


Buy the book: Amazon US ; Barnes & Noble
Story: In the mid-21st century, the human race stopped aging. Those who know why aren't talking, and the few who are brave enough to ask questions tend to disappear. To an elite few, The Change means long life and health, but to the ever-increasing masses, it means starvation, desperation, and violence.

Four centuries after The Change, Grace Harper, a blacklisted P.I., sets off on a mission to find the man responsible for it all and solicit his help to undo The Change -- if he's still alive. To complicate matters, Grace's employer is suspected of murdering his father, and when the police learn of their connection, they give her a choice -- help them find the evidence they need to convict Matthew Stanton, or die. But if they discover Grace's true mission, they won't hesitate to kill her in order to preserve their shot at immortality.

Winner of the Epic Award for Science Fiction, the Global eBook Award for Science Fiction, and a finalist in The Next Gernation Indie Book Awareds.

Will Raphael tame the willful woman or love the untamed fire that burns within her?

 Thoughts and impressions: What would it be like if we, as humans, no longer aged?

Our intelligence as animals is really a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it gives us a completely different view of the world around us, but at the same time it makes us very aware of our mortality. It leads us to fear our death, which is part of why we have such a fascination with the concept of immortality. There have long been stories of those who are able to cheat death, and if not then there are stories of death is not the end and so we get to live eternally in this fabulous place. We are afraid of our deaths. Just how far would some people go to assure their immortality if such a possibility were presented them? After all, we already have cryonics in place and some people actually get themselves frozen rather than live their life to its natural end.

Now imagine our world as a place where no one dies. We already have problems with overpopulation and lack of food. In the world presented in The Immortality Virus, these problems are taken to their next logical step. There’s not enough housing for everyone and what is available is beyond most people’s means. There’s not enough food to feed everyone, so only the fabulously wealthy are able to afford proper food while the hordes are given these shady protein bars that are suspected to contain human flesh. Yummy!

The society that is painted here is scary for one very simple reason: it is the sort of society that I can easily see arising should the key to immortality ever be found. There is a very small group of the elite few who dictate everything to the masses, who in turn are left to live in squalor. Life is not good and you can easily see that there is a reason why we are not immortal creatures – we are meant to die.

This fabulously crafted setting is the perfect backdrop to action full of the corruption of those who cling jealously to the power they have managed to horde. It was scarily realistic and that’s one of the reasons why it went down so well for me.

On top of this, we have a feisty, spunky heroine who quickly turned into a character that I enjoyed rooting for. She’s not perfect; she’s well-rounded and likeable most of the time. She was fun to read about.

From time to time the story became a bit on the slow side and I’d find my interest waning slightly, but it picked up again and the slower part was worth the faster, more action-packed moments.
Final verdict: A tought-provoking piece of sci-fi / dystopian with a great female lead and a plot brimming with twists and turns. 4 stars
Sneak peek:
“Check him for an ID chip,” McMillan said.
Grace checked both wrists, but didn’t find the tiny metal button that acted both as tag and as a neutral interface for portables. She also did not see any sign that such a chip had been ripped out of his skin by the same people who had stolen his clothing. This man had probably been born on the streets. “Nothing.”
“Good,” McMillan said. He subvocalized an instruction to his portable. It must have opened up a com link because a moment later he said, “Send a cleanup crew to my location beacon…no ID…10-4.”
McMillan turned to Grace. “All right, let’s go.”
“W-wait! Shouldn’t we find out what happened here? Someone murdered this man.”
McMillan actually laughed, a sound that infuriated Grace. He caught a glimpse of her face and the laughter died immediately. “Just like me. I bet I said all the same things my first day. It ain’t fair, is it?”
“So you’re just going to accept it? Accept a man being murdered in the middle of a crowd of witnesses? You’re going to accept not knowing his identity and not letting his family know he’s dead?”
“The cleanup crew will take fingerprints,” McMillan said. “The census gets almost everyone’s fingerprints. If they come up with a contact, they’ll let them know.”
“And if not?” Grace asked.
“Then he’ll join the ranks of the nameless, faceless dead. C’mon, let’s go.”
Grace didn’t move.
“Look, before the day’s out we’ll handle a dozen more like this. We don’t have time to ask questions or take statements. We don’t have time to properly examine the body or the area for clues – most of which have been taken away by other unfortunates.”
It took her a moment to find her voice. When she did, her words dripped out like acid. “Would we have had time if he’d had an ID bracelet?”
We would not have. We’d have called in the homicide team and they’d decide. Get in the car.”
This time, Grace complied, but she sat in stony silence as McMillan lifted off and began circling the area anew.
“It helps if you don’t think of them as human,” McMillan said after a while. “More than one officer has called this job pest control.”"
The author:
Christine Amsden has been writing science fiction and fantasy for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.
At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams.
When she's not writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing, usually at Savvy Authors. She also offers professional editing services. She maintains a book review blog on her website with occasional writing tips thrown in for the fun of it.
Christine lives in the Kansas City area with her husband and two children. 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Blog Tour: The Unofficial Zack Warren Fan Club by J.C. Isabella


Buy the book: Amazon US ; Barnes & Noble

Story: Welcome to the big leagues. To secrets and scandals. It's all about the game. Who's playing. Who's not. Who has no idea about the game. And...wait, what game are we playing?

I'll leave that for you to decide.

Where to start is the big question for Chloe Baker. How was she supposed to explain to Zack Warren that she started a fan club for him when she was a kid? It was just a game. A way to make friends and have fun. She never thought it would spiral out of control. And never. In a million, gazillion years, did she think it would follow her to college. How could she tell him her best friend Lana kept the club alive? That she had nothing to do with the craziness?

Chloe didn’t understand why she cared so much about Zack's opinion of her. She hated him. He hated her. They had very mutual feelings of dislike for each other. So he'd just hate her even more when or if he found out.

And that's totally fine...she thinks.

Zack Warren had a soft spot for Chloe Baker. He likes the way she walks. He likes the way she talks. If he was poetically inclined, he’d write a sonnet about her ass.

It's Zack’s junior year of college. He’s got things to worry about. Scouts from the major leagues. Baseball games. Contracts. Grades.... His father ran away to Vegas with Chloe's mother. He didn’t have time to worry about a girl. But he did. He worried about Chloe a lot, especially with that jerk Max sniffing around her. It's weird though, to like your stepsister, right?

But Zack could argue that he saw Chloe first. Way before his dad met her mom. He was too young to stake a claim. But he just doesn't care anymore.

He’s done playing games.

Thoughts and impressions: This story immediately caught my attention. The synopsis screams the sort of thing I used to read a lot of as a teen. It’s not the sort of book that I still read very often now that I’m a bit older, but occasionally I do enjoy a foray back in this sort of genre. I knew as of the get go that this book was going to be one of those forays.

I have to say I really enjoyed this blast from the past!

That isn’t to say that the book is without its problems. For example, I wasn’t sold on how much of a creep Max was. Maybe it would have been possible to paint him as such a character with ulterior motives, but Max’s never really rang true to me. I got that he was being an arse but his actions didn’t really fit for me. It might have helped to see more backstory of the rivalry between Max and Zack and why Max hates him so much.

That was my one major sticking point, though. For the rest of it, I enjoyed this fluffy, light romance. It consisted mostly of how stricken Chloe is about the unofficial Zack Warren fan club that she set up when she was young but soon abandoned after Zack stole the pink streamers from her bike, resulting in her deciding to hate him forever rather than love him. Unfortunately for her, under her best friend’s ministrations, the unofficial Zack Warren fan club became a living, breathing monster in its own right – a monster to be reckoned with. Even worse, she’s still considered the founder and everything about the group is attributed to her.

Zack meanwhile has been fighting his attraction to Chloe for years now. After losing his mother at a young age, he chose to protect himself from future heartache by not allowing anyone to get close enough for him to have feelings for them. Chloe gets past all his barriers, though, and with his father having just married her mother, he’s going to be forced to spend rather a lot of time around this very dangerous girl. (Dangerous to the barriers he’s erected around himself).

The story is very easy and slow-going. It’s not mile-a-minute or anything like that, but it never fails to keep your attention and even induces a few chuckles with some laugh out loud moments. It’s short and sweet but, apart from the Max weirdness, it really works well!

On a side note, poor any future half siblings! Can you imagine being a kid having to explain to the other kids at school that your brother and sister are dating? Owch.

Style: Some minor problems, most importantly there is no distinction made between "X and I" and "X and me". I see an increasing number of people who don't know how to use these terms grammatically correctly and this worries me.

Final verdict: A fablous piece of light fluff that kept me well entertained at a time when I needed a distraction from reality. I highly recommend if this is your sort of thing. 4.5 stars

Extra notes: Some bad language use. No sex.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of Reading Addiction Blog Tours and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by Reading Addiction Blog Tours, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review. There was no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, publisher, publicist, or readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning Use of Endorcements and Testimonials in Advertising*

Sneak peek:

Chloe's PoV:

Nostalgia is for idiots and Zack Warren is trouble.

I knew it the first time I saw him in second grade. The boy had heartbreaker written all over him. He was two years older, wiser. He did a back flip off the jungle gym, landing right at my feet with a cocky grin, getting dirt all over my new pink Keds.

He didn’t apologize.

Instead he dropped a lizard on my head and called me prissy.

Despite the fact that we didn’t hit it off on day one, I harbored a huge crush on Zack, my first ever. In the third grade I started a club. Girls only. We dubbed it an unofficial club because we thought some powerful person, like Oprah, had to deem it official.

We have since discovered that is not true, but the name had a nice ring to it.

During our unofficial meets we talked about Zack, spied on him, and risked being found out on a regular basis. What a rush, seriously. It was going great. The group accepted new members, and we even drew up plans for a clubhouse. I invented a fun game and made new friends.

Then, when I was in the fifth grade, Zack stole the streamers off my bike.

I cried, and made the very rational decision to hate him until the end of time.

This effectively ended my reign as leader of The Unofficial Zack Warren Fan Club.


Zack's POV

“Horse races.” Vince said with enthusiasm, flipping through the TV channels. “Now that’s a sport.”

Never in my life, not once, had I ever resorted to violence to solve a problem — since I have reformed myself— except for pinning Max to the fence when he talked about Chloe.

Okay, so one time I’ve used physical methods. But I wouldn’t mind making it two. I imagined grabbing Vince by the back of his too big suit and kicking him out the front door. He was one of those people you wanted to swat, like an annoying little fly buzzing your sandwich. I wanted to chat with him about as much as I wanted a baseball to the crotch.

“Gambling’s not a sport.” I said under my breath. My dad, sitting on the couch next to me, nodded in agreement. Vince wasn’t scoring points with him either.

“So, Zack, tell me what you do.” Vince jingled. The man had on so much gold he actually jingled. I couldn’t believe he and Chloe were related for a second. His lady, Helga, boy was she a trip, too.

“I go to college.” I said, trying to keep my voice friendly.

I mean, what kind of question was that? I only had enough time for a job during the summer.

He nodded. “Yes, with Chloe. How old are you?”


Dad clapped me on the shoulder, “Zack’s into sports.”

“Really?” Vince didn’t seem impressed, more like bored. He uncrossed then re-crossed his legs so tightly, he either had to take a piss, or he’d been cursed with balls the size of grapes and a dick like a gherkin. It just wasn’t normal for a guy to do that.

“I play baseball,” I supplied. He didn’t react. Not even a raise of his greasy black eyebrows. What the hell, maybe I could get him interested in something else, “I practice martial arts too.”

His eyebrows shot up now. “Isn’t that dangerous?”

What a wiener.

This guy was a serious hot dog.

The author:

J.C. Isabella is the author of Chasing McCree and The Unofficial Zack Warren Fan Club. Ever since she discovered romance novels in high school, she has been a self proclaimed fan. This led to penning her first YA . When she isn't thinking up new recipes for the cookbook she hopes to one day write, she is brainstorming a new novel and listening to country music. She lives in the tropics of Florida with her big fat Italian family and ornery feline companion.

Twitter @jcisabellabooks

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Blog Tour: Fire on the Island by J.K. Hogan


Buy the book: Amazon US

Title: Fire on the Island
Author: J.K. Hogan
Publisher: Sapphire Star Publishing
Series: Vigilati #1
Target audience: Adult
Genre: Paranormal romance
Length: 376 pages

StoryAll Isla Macallen wanted was a simple existence on her little Scottish island, free from her mother's insanity and the prying eyes of neighbors. What she got was embroiled in a war for the souls of mankind. A war of good versus evil, of witches versus demons, and Isla learns that she alone can end it.

Dr. Jeremiah Rousseau was a self-proclaimed nomad, traveling the world researching paranormal phenomena. He doesn't expect his research to lead him to Scotland, and to the woman who will turn his world upside down.

Together with a facetious shapeshifting animal spirit guide, Jeremiah and Isla discover that she is part of an ancient bloodline bred to protect the gateways between the human world and the spirit world, to keep evil demons from destroying them. They must find the key to defeating Alastore, the demon king, and closing the gate before Samhain, when the veil between the worlds is lifted. As the war for their souls wages around them, Isla and Jeremiah will risk it all for love—a love neither had ever thought possible.

Thoughts and impressions: First of all, what a setting! I love the Scottish islands: they’re picturesque, they’re remote enough to each have a very distinct personality, and they’re the perfect getaway. I’ve been to several of the Scottish islands (Colonsay, Jura, Mull, and Islay) and my memories of them are all of a rural paradise, the kind that you don’t tend to find very often in Britain nowadays (though the beaches leave a lot to be desired). The author shows an obvious passion for her setting and managed to create that isolated island feeling that is just so important (in my opinion) in such a story. I felt that she did  her setting justice. I hope that inhabitants of these islands would think so too.

Though perhaps not entirely original in subject matter, the story is definitely one of the more interesting paranormal romances that I’ve read so far this year. There was just the right balance of romance and action that I needed – one didn’t outweigh the other and there was no getting bogged down in the details to the point where I just lost interest in it all. Beyond this, as the character herself is not actually initiated into this supernatural world that she’s a part of, the reader was able to follow her baby steps. Isla is unaware of her heritage as a witch and so it never felt like she was taking the time to break away from her story in order to explain her world to me. I was able to discover everything alongside her and I felt that this gave the story a much smoother and more authentic feel.

There is one character, Marduk, who is quite the funny guy. I’m not as sure about the quotes he spews as you have to be aware of the general culture they come from in order for it to really work. This means that anyone not entirely familiar with Hollywood won’t connect with him as well. It really dates the story more than any other aspect of it. Some people like this but I’m one of those who are wary of it. Despite this, he was a great character and one of my favourites!

The romance did advance possibly a little on the fast side, but whirlwind romances do happen like that (my own included, so I can’t judge). I did have some issues with passing time on occasion – the narrative would tell me that X time had passed but I didn’t get the impression that it had been that long while reading.

The witches were fabulous. I’m particularly interested in witches right now (along with ghosts) so any book set on a Scottish island (part of my childhood) that adds witches (part of my paranormal preferences) is a definite hit for me before I’ve even cracked it open. There are other paranormal creatures also present and they're just the icing on the cake. I really enjoyed them all, even the ones that I'm usually not that big on in this genre.

What’s more, the characters caught my interest and they didn’t let go, each developing at a believable rate, allowing me to connect with them and really come to root for them in their fight against the evil demons. This is just what I look for in a book. Obviously this one turned up to be just my cup of tea.

I will definitely be tuning in for book two!

Final verdict: A really enjoyable, well-developed and addictive paranormal romance. 4.5 stars

Extra notes: Both bad language and sex are present.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of Reading Addiction Blog Tours and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by Reading Addiction Blog Tours, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review. There was no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, publisher, publicist, or readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning Use of Endorcements and Testimonials in Advertising*

The author:

J.K. Hogan has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, beginning with writing cast lists and storylines for her toys growing up. When she finally decided to put pen to paper, magic happened. She is greatly inspired by all kinds of music and often creates a “soundtrack” for her stories as she writes them.
J.K. resides in North Carolina, where she was born and raised. A true southern girl at heart, she lives on a farm with her husband and their three horses, one miniature donkey, one cat, and two champion agility dogs.
In addition to writing, she enjoys training and competing in dog sports, spending time with her large southern family, camping, boating and, of course, reading! Please feel free to visit J.K.’s contact page—she’d love to hear from you!
Author Website
Twitter: @JK_Hogan

Friday, 17 August 2012

Blog Tour: The BACHELORETTE Project by Tami Anthony


Buy the book: Amazon US

Story: When an unfortunate twist of fate leaves 28 year-old socialite Leslee Robinson broken-hearted and unemployed, she embarks on a journey to discover what boggles every twenty-something single woman’s mind: What do men REALLY want and how do you find the perfect mate? With the help of her two best friends; Annie, a self-conscious, sarcastic single mother; and Karen, the neurotic, perfectionist ‘bridezilla,’ Leslee creates The BACHELORETTE Project, a ‘scientific’ dating experiment designed to uncover the enigma of the male species. 

After multiple dates gone awry and unanticipated encounters of the extreme, Leslee decides to confide in the last person that she’d ever consider asking dating advice from: Eric, her handsome, womanizing college friend with a well-known ‘love ‘em and leave ‘em’ reputation. Aside from Eric’s infamous bachelor tactics, Leslee can’t help but to be oddly attracted to him, but will pursuing the charming, ‘bad boy’ philanderer that Eric is even be worth the risk?

With unbelievable twists and a contemporary, comedic Chick-Lit feel, The BACHELORETTE Project is the chronicle of a single woman’s journey to finding true friendship, discovering herself, and learning the enigma of love down to a science.

Thoughts and impressions: I came up against some problems when getting into this book. The first and foremost was how utterly incapable I was of relating to the protagonist. She’s very materialistic, to say the least. Personally I have absolutely no interest in expensive clothes brands so reading about a character that is focused on such things is not always easy. She also felt very shallow, especially when at the very beginning her boyfriend is giving a speech and she’s thinking at him to hurry up and finish so they can go home and have sex. Maybe it’s just that I’m coming from a very different humour background, but that just didn’t work for me and it placed a wedge between me and the character. 

When she loses her boyfriend and her job in one day, Leslee decides to move back to her hometown. Once there she mopes around on her best friend’s sofa for a couple of months before she’s forced to start pulling herself together. The story only actually focuses on her obsession with getting her romantic life back on track. There is no interest in her professional life. In fact, it gets completely ignored until towards the end she goes for one job and gets it immediately with no problems. There wasn’t enough balance here for me, especially as she admits that she only has $400 in her account when she arrives (and somehow manages to pay for endless taxi rides). I needed to see more of her worrying about her finances and her professional standing, and not just her attempts to secure herself a new man. 

Her dating experiment was an original idea. I didn’t really feel that the basic idea was really worked on. The idea was to go on a series of dates, employing different techniques on each to try to find out what a man wants from a woman. Well, she did go on a series of dates and most of them led to some laugh out loud moments, but it didn’t feel like she was actually trying to do things differently each time. It was more like she reacted on instinct a lot of the time.

She roped in a friend to help her with this. Unfortunately I felt that this showed just how shallow she was. The only time she really showed any interest in this friend, Annie, was when she needed something from her to do with this BACHELORETTE project. As soon as she dropped the experiment, she dropped the friend as well and, at the end, admits to not having seen her in months. I did rather like Annie, though. She was more grounded in a group of other characters that were just weird at times (even if that weirdness did lead to laughs at times).

I also felt that Eric was not really given enough attention. I didn’t feel the relationship between them growing. There were some interactions between them and then a couple of hints at his interest in her, her potential interest in him… and then she got drunk and things get physical. This would have been a great opportunity to work on growing Eric’s character but instead he disappears and Leslee starts going on a few dates with someone else. I wanted to get to know Eric better. From the synopsis, I expected there to be more focus on him and her fighting her feelings for him.

The book wasn’t in anyway bad. It was a well-imagined plot that’s not really anything new in the chick lit genre but entertaining in its own right. I simply felt that the book focused on too much on certain things that were not as necessary and didn’t give enough time of day to other things that needed to be developed more.

Style: Some problems here and there but nothing that would potentially drive to distraction.

Final verdict: The story didn’t blow me away but I enjoyed it for what it was. 3.5 stars

Extra notes: bad language is present. Sex takes place but it’s not described in detail and the scene cuts before anything really happens.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of Reading Addiction Blog Tours and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by Reading Addiction Blog Tours, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review. There was no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, publisher, publicist, or readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning Use of Endorcements and Testimonials in Advertising*

Sneak peek:

I follow Mark to his house from the bar. We pull up to this very quaint brick rancher with a gigantic front yard and half groomed bushes and trees spread about. There is nothing spectacular about Mark’s house. It’s … well, very plain actually. It’s not a dream house nor a McMansion. It’s as ordinary as ordinary can be. Yup, I think to myself, this will definitely be a booty call. I can’t even imagine living in a house like this. It doesn’t scream RICH and FABULOUS the way I would want a house to scream. I imagine that my future husband will have a fantastic two-story house with a classy cobblestone driveway and this breathtaking garden with white roses and lilacs growing in effigy. Yeah, maybe I need to leave this dream world of mine and face reality. I could very well fall in love with a man who lives in a rancher or worse, a motorhome.

I park Karen’s car in front of his house. He walks over and opens the car door for me. “So, this is it,” Mark says as I exit the car. “This is my home.”

“It’s very nice,” I reply politely. So what if I lie? Don’t act like you’ve never done it.

“Yeah, I’m not home a lot because of work and all,” he tells me. You can say that again, I think to myself. Who in the world doesn’t make sure that their hedges are cut? Who doesn’t mow their own lawn? There’s a solution to this scenario and it’s called hiring a landscaper.

“That … sucks,” I blurt out. I couldn’t think of a good word to use. It seems that most of our conversation topics were used up at the bar. Maybe it’s a good thing, though. Less talk, MORE ACTION!

I hold on to his arm as we walk to his front door. I place my head onto his shoulder devouring the exotic scent of his cologne. I’m in heaven. I decide to go in for the kill. Before I know, I’m stopping him in his tracks and planting the most passionate kiss on his lips, taking his breath away. He looks stunned, in a good way of course.

“What was that for?” he asks.

“For being the sexiest man that I’ve ever met,” I say slyly. “I can’t wait to see the inside of your house, mainly your bedroom.” I slowly move my hand under his shirt touching his finely-chiseled abs. Mark becomes speechless.

“I, um, yeah,” he stutters in shock. “Yeah, you can see the bedroom,” he says eagerly and rushes me to the front door. “Let’s, um, do that!” He opens the door and pulls me inside. I push him against the closest wall and begin to kiss on his neck. “You still,” GROAN! “Want that … oh, God! Coffee?”

“Not … right … now,” I say between breaths as I pull anxiously on the top of his jeans. I then feel something rubbing against the bottom of my leg and I jump.

“What is it?” Mark asks with his eyes closed.

“Your dog,” I reply. The dog continuously jumps on my leg and I laugh. “He’s a cute dog.” A little brown, furry thing. His dog is the most adorable pocketbook dog that I’ve ever seen.

“Let me put him in the guest room,” Mark tells me. “I’ll be right back.” He directs me to his couch. “Have a seat. I have a surprise for you.”

“Already?” I ask. I doubt it’s diamonds. After all, we just met. Maybe it’s a very fine Chardonnay of some sort. A girl can wonder.

“Let’s just say I like to set the mood,” he says then winks. He walks away with the dog.

OK, I think to myself as I take a look around the living room. It’s your typical man-home equipped with a gargantuan-sized flat screen TV, an X-Box, surround sound speakers, an overly technical stereo, a wooden coffee table with absolutely nothing on it, and a wide collection of DVDs and video games. One thing’s for certain, he has a clean home that doesn’t smell funny. That has to be a plus, right?

“Leslee?” I hear Mark say seductively a few feet behind me.

“Yes?” I ask without turning around assuming that any second now he’ll be the one kissing my neck. He claps twice and the room darkens. The sound of house music blares from the speakers and white strobe lights begin to flicker within the room. What … the … fuck? “Um, Mark?” I ask. “What is going on?” I hear him breathing heavily behind me and I begin to panic a little.

“There’s one thing that I didn’t tell you at the bar,” he says and I’m so afraid to turn around. Where the hell did I put my Mace?!

“And, um, what’s that?” I ask. Now I’m speechless! What in the world is about to happen? Should I be praying?

I feel him licking on the back of my neck and I shiver. “I’m a dancer,” he says.

“You mean like Cabaret dancing, Riverdancing, what?” I ask as my body shakes. I have no clue what he’s talking about nor do I want to. “You dance the Tango?” I guess. “Waltz? Tap? Ballet?” I ask quickly.

“No,” he says and laughs. “I … am … SUPERMAN!” he shouts as he leaps over the couch and jumps onto the coffee table wearing a Superman thong and a red cape all while holding a glowstick in each hand. Oh … my … God, I think to myself. Is this really happening? My libido has gone from roaring and ready-to-go to temporarily shutting down for the night. Is he serious?

Mark throws his arms in the air and freezes into some sort of funny, galactic pose. The music stops for a second and his eyes widen. Dramatic effect, I guess?

He throws off the cape and begins to thrust his pelvis forward. The music seems to get louder and louder, and I become more and more anxious to run.

“Accountant by day,” Mark yells, “private dancer by night, baby!” He then leaps off the table and jumps on my lap, humping me like some overly anxious teenage boy. I cringe. This is not how I imagined my night … not at all.

“Maybe I should go,” I say with fear in my voice. “I, um, have to get up really early for Pilates and I …” I’m lost in thought. Why do these things always happen to me?!

“You like this body?” he asks as he breaths heavily into my face.

“Um, sometimes?” I say in the form of a question. “I don’t know?”

“You like this rock-hard ass?” he asks as he stands on the floor and bends over.

“I, um, it’s getting late. I should go,” I say in a rush and grab my purse. I try to stand up but he pushes me back on the couch. Kick to the crotch NOW? I ask myself but too frightened to move.

“Grab my ass,” he instructs me. Apparently there’s no shame in his game.

“Oh, no. I really shouldn’t.”

“GRAB MY ASS, DAMNIT!” he yells.

“OK, OK!” I yell back as I grab his left buttock. For some people, this would be the ultimate turn on, being dominated by a man in a Superman thong, but to me, not so much. I hold on to his butt cheek for dear life as his eyes roll into the back of his head. He looks just like a man who’s just cum. How is he getting aroused by this? Is this some sort of crazy Superman butt fetish that I wasn’t informed about? I have to get out of here!

“Ooooooh!” he groans loudly, then slowly his knees buckle and his body drops to the floor. He doesn’t move.

“Mark?” I say. He resembles a dead fish: pale, non-mobile, sickly looking. I clap twice to turn on the lights. “Mark, are you OK?” I ask as I stand over him and let my foot give his limp body a little nudge. He doesn’t respond. Oh fuck! I think I killed him! I grab his shoulders and shake him. “Mark, get up!” I yell. He lays still. “You can’t be dead!” I whimper pathetically as I smack his face. Sadly, part of me wants to take off the thongs and sneak a peek at the goods, another part of me wants to roll him on to his front yard for his neighbors to see what type of freak they live next to, but the part of me that’s telling me to leave quietly and quickly has hands down gotten my vote.

I slowly grab my purse and head to the door as his dog walks out into the living room and begins to lick on Mark’s face. The secrets that the dog could tell me are probably endless. Should I just steal the dog? No, Leslee, you can’t, I tell myself, then again …

“Since I obviously can’t have the man, I guess I’ll settle for man’s best friend,” I say aloud. The dog pauses from licking Mark’s face and runs toward me, jumping into my arms. The dog just looks at me. “What?” I ask him. “Would you rather be adopted by a woman with fabulous taste or would you rather be an orphan?” The dog looks down and whimpers. “Yeah, I thought so,” I say as I walk out of Mark’s house quietly. Another date, another disaster, but this time I leave with the cutest, most adorable partying gift ever: my new dog.

The author:

Tami Anthony is an author, a playwright, and the beautiful mind behind Pink Butterfly Publications, a publishing company devoted to female-driven literature. She is a graduate of Rutgers University with a Bachelor’s in English Literature and Theatre Arts. Tami presently resides outside of Philadelphia with her son and is currently working on her second novel and future plays.

Twitter - @ tami_anthony

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Blog Tour & Giveaway - Kentucky Green by Terry Irene Blain

Buy the book: Amazon US

Story: April Williamson’s heart calls her across the frontier, but only one man—a handsome army scout with a tormented past—can get her safely to freedom.

Daniel McKenzie was an army scout—quiet, capable, handsome…and utterly unwilling to be the trail guide April Williamson needed to reach Kentucky. The Indian attack at Blue Licks was but one bitter taste of the American frontier, a massacre that had taken her father just as cholera had taken her mother. But April would not give up on her dream. At journey’s end was independence, and nothing would stand in her way.

The young widow was beautiful and determined, but the months of travel involved in her plan would be too hard. Without the general’s order Dan would have told any woman no, but April especially. His secret would destroy her—or she might destroy him. April’s kiss was like the country itself. Restless and sweet, it promised a love that denied every boundary and looked only to freedom and the future.

Thoughts and impressions: Much like Colorado Silver, Colorado Gold, I was drawn to Kentucky Green for two reasons:

1. It’s a historical romance and these seem to be my weak spot (even if I find most of them to be mediocre at best).

2. It’s one of those rare(r) historical romances set in the early USA rather than *insert European country here*.

The author weaves an interesting piece of historical fiction with many a nod to real people and events. Not being from the USA – and having left school in the UK before we touched on anything relating to non-European history (except Ancient Egypt) (and French history lessons were only interested in their own colonies) – I am only vaguely aware of these parts of American history. In fact, most of my knowledge about this period comes from documentaries / films (and who knows how historically accurate those are!) that I’ve seen over the years.

With Kentucky Green, the author gives a glimpse of what life could have been like for the colonials when neither the Americans nor the British were at their moral best. The British because they were fairly double-crossing the Indians and the Americans because they were pretty much invaders stealing the land from the native inhabitants.

I particularly appreciated that the author didn’t shy away from some of the more historically accurate points, choosing political correctness over historical truth. She wasn’t afraid to include a racist side to this story. All too often these days you see authors who are pretty much walking on eggshells in order to avoid such controversial topics. But that’s not how it was back in those days. Racism was a part of the norm and this story embraces that, working with it rather than skirting around it. I think that the book is that much the better for it; it wouldn’t have felt as authentic without it.

This is the classic tale of boy meets girl, boy pisses off girl (and vice versa), boy is required to spend significant amount of time in girl’s company, boy ends up developing feelings for girl that he tries to ignore (and vice versa), boy can no longer ignore said feelings, some form of drama befalls boy and girl – can they come out on top? It’s a tried and true formula, and obviously it works.

My one… not qualm but thing I want to comment on I guess… is that April is a young widow. It soon emerges that she was merely given the position of wife in order to protect her after the deaths of both of her parents. She is never touched by her husband. This keeps the character “unspoiled” for the “love of her life” that is to come in the form of the hero of the story but I personally would have preferred a different approach here. I’ve never understood the appeal of having a window character with no sexual experience. As a widow she should be able to match the hero for his knowledge rather than still being cast in the role of swooning heroine. Maybe that’s just me?

Style: I noticed some minor mistakes but these are easily overlooked. Overall, a good style that perfectly fits the historical romance genre!

Final verdict: Another fun read from Terry Irene Blaine. It held my interest from start to finish. I didn't quite enjoy it as much as Colorado Silver, Colorado Gold but I'm still giving it 4 stars.

Extra notes: Some bad language and sex are present.
In the author's words:
Topic: Where Ideas Come From

I have a writer friend who says people keep asking her were writers get their ideas. Her reply is that we get so many ideas that we can't write them all. Getting the idea is the easy part of writing.

So where did the idea of writing Kentucky Green come from? From Alistair Cooke's A Personal History of the United States. When I taught US History (and Western Civilization) in the community college, I would show parts of Cooke's America television series (the instructor for my education class - known as ‘how to teach' said that the generations that grew up watching Sesame Street could learn via video - and it gave my voice a break). In the episode Gone West, Cooke talks of Daniel Boone, and gives one of Boone's quotes: A man needs three essentials – a good horse, a good rifle, and a good wife.

If a good horse, a good rifle and a good wife doesn't spark a story, then you're probably not a writer. In addition to the Boone quote, one of my favorite historical novels (The Kentuckian by Janice Holt Giles) is set in the Kentucky frontier in the generation before my story. I'm really drawn to frontier stories, as in Boone's Kentucky and in my Kentucky Green; it took a man and a woman working together to make a home. Neither could do it alone.
So for writing Kentucky Green, I gave my hero, Dan, a good horse. His goal is to breed horses in Kentucky, (which I think that will turn out pretty good for his family's future). I gave him a good Kentucky long rifle, made by one of the best know gunsmith's in Pennsylvania, John Philip Beck, which he shows off to April, the heroine. Luckily, at one time my husband had a black powder rifle, so I had a little firsthand experience when I wrote that scene.
But the key to Daniel Boone's quote is the good wife. This is where the heroine, April comes in. Although it takes her some time, she proves to Dan that she's a capable woman. She's the partner he needs. Thus for Dan, completing the quote of a good horse, a good rifle and a good wife.

The author:
Terry Irene Blain was lucky enough to grow up in a large Mid-western family with a rich oral tradition. As a child she heard stories of ancestors’ adventures with Indians, wildlife, weather and frontier life in general, so she naturally gravitated to the study of history and completed a BA and MA then taught the subject at the college level. Married to a sailor, now retired, she’s had the chance to live in various parts of the U.S. and has traveled to Hong Kong, Australia, England and Scotland.
“My degrees and my teaching experience make me a natural to write historical romance. Writing historical romance gives me the opportunity to pass on stories of who we are and where we come from while exploring the relationship between men and women. What could be more exciting than that?”
The giveaway:
Open internationally
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 13 August 2012

The Cover Wars: The Nightwatch

Tara of Basically Books and I decided to get together to do a weekly meme where we would compare covers of the UK editions of books with those of the US editions.

The aim of this is to just have a bit of fun. We put ourselves in the position where we see both of these books side by side in the bookstore. Which would we choose? Why that one and not the other?

This week we will be comparing the covers of The Nightwatch by Sergei Lukyanenko. (Amazingly I was able to spell that surname without having to look it up!)

US cover                                         UK cover

Rea says: This is another one where there’s very little contest for me. The US cover does capture a side of the story but I don’t really like the art – it’s certainly not the sort of cover that will draw my attention when I’m browsing the shelves. The UK cover art, on the other hand, is the sort of thing that I find really very appealing. The colours are just the sort of thing to catch my eye as well and I feel that the art really suits a setting in a Moscow that is just emerging from Soviet repression. UK for me.

Tara says:  I like them both. The UK one is blue, different and it stands out, the US one is orangey-red and has a birdy on the cover.  I will go with the UK one just because it stands out more.


Week 30:

US: 5     UK: 16     Draw: 8

Do you want to join in too? Here’s how:
Step 1: Copy and paste the Cover Wars image.
Step 2: Copy and paste our intro or write your own but it must link back to both of our blogs.
Step 3: Copy and paste the US and UK cover images.
Step 4: Compare the two.
Step 5: Either use our score or keep your own score.
Step 6: Post it and share it!
Thanks and have fun!

Friday, 10 August 2012

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Colorado Silver, Colorado Gold by Terry Irene Blain

Buy the book: Amazon US ; Barnes & Noble

Title: Colorado Silver, Colorado Gold
Author: Terry Irene Blaine
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
Target Audience: Adult
Genre: Historical romance
Length: 225 pages

StoryTo protect her sister, Juliette Lawson stole documents and fled west. Now Wes Westmoreland, undercover lawman, threatens both her plan and her heart.

Socialite Juliette Lawson fled west from Philadelphia on a train and in disguise. In Colorado she’d be safe; she’d take work with her uncle at the Rio d'Oro, his smelting operation. Her actions back east had been wrong, but to protect her pregnant sister from scandal she would have done anything. Then she met a man as hungry for answers as she was for independence. A handsome, honorable man. For him, she wished the truth was hers to tell.
From the first, Wes Westmoreland knew he couldn’t trust her. Having grown up in the saloons and brothels of San Francisco, he saw trust, like love, as a luxury an undercover lawman couldn’t afford. Not on a job like this one, not with gold involved. This woman dressed as a widow was clearly hiding something; he’d felt it the moment they touched. But he’d felt other things too, stirrings in his heart, and for the first time ever, he saw riches worth the peril.

Thoughts and impressions:
Historical romance seems to be one of my weaknesses. It’s not a genre that’s usually particularly inspiring and often enough the books are set in England (or Scotland) but written in modern day American English, which bugs me to no end. I haven’t read very many historical anythings set in the Americas but I’ve been brought up around a grandmother who happens to be overly fond of westerns, so when I read the synopsis of this one I was intrigued. The American west in that period was still very much on the wild side and that sort of setting appeals to me, possibly because it’s such a far cry from anything to be found these days.

The author managed to really capture the feel of the period for me. I felt transported. I could just imagine this little western town they were living in! It was obvious that she did a lot of research and went to great lengths to make her period feel authentic – research and great lengths that definitely paid off for me as the reader.

It was also interesting to see the process of getting gold and silver from the ore and how the refineries (that might not be the correct word but it’s the only one coming to mind right now) were operated. There was a slight issue here, however, in that the information was too clumped for me. Wes gives Julie a tour of her uncle’s “refinery” and explains the processes to her, which is a good example of exposition through dialogue. My issue was that there was too much information too fast for me to really absorb it properly. It didn’t help that I was already tired and so a large amount of what is essentially nonfiction coming at me all at once felt more like a barrage of facts than part of the story. I understand what the author was doing, but my mind just couldn’t deal with it.

Thankfully these “info dumps” were few and far between and I was able to really appreciate the intricate story that the author was weaving. As a historical romance it does, of course, focus mainly on the budding relationship between Wes and Julie but there’s enough going on around it to keep it well balanced. I didn’t feel completely swamped by just the relationship and it wasn’t love at first sight (though it was lust, but I’m happy with lust. Lust is normal).

Wes being an undercover officer for Wells Fargo was also of particular interest. I have to admit that I didn’t even know there was such a thing as Wells Fargo; never mind what its role was. So I actually learnt bits of American history from reading this book! That’s something that always appeals to me in a book.

Style: I don't have anything in partiulcar to note about the style. I enjoyed the author's prose from start to finish.

Final verdict: Historical romances are one of my weaknesses and I have to say that usually they don't really live up to what I was expecting of them. This one, though, really tickled my fancy! 4.5 stars

Extra notes: Sex is present. Bad language didn't stand out but could be present.

In the author's own words:

Topic: Story Ideas from Research

Colorado Silver, Colorado Gold’s story idea grew out of the location. Having driven through Durango on several occasions, I loved the place. Doing research on the history of Durango brought up the city’s connection with Wells Fargo and reading about Wells Fargo, I found that the company in the era of my story did in fact, have detectives.

Wow, what a great idea – my hero, Wes, could be a detective for Wells Fargo. Many of the incidents that happened or are related to my hero as a Wells Fargo detective actually occurred (although I’ve used my hero, with changes in times and place). This is why I love research.

The Wells Fargo connection also gave me some of Wes’ backstory/background. To
communicate between offices and various other businesses in San Francisco (giving me where my hero grew up), Wells Fargo employed boys to carry messages at twenty-five cents a message. This would be Wes’ first job, connecting him with the company. This allowed Wes to advance in the company eventually becoming a guard for the iconic green box (green painted box wooden box bound with strap iron and sealed with a hasp and lock), which became a trademark of the company; his foiling a robbery ended up with him becoming a detective for the company.

Much to my surprise, I found that several undercover Wells Fargo detectives held jobs as deputy sheriffs, or even county sheriffs while actually working for Wells Fargo. So Wes’ job working for the smelters isn’t as odd as it might seem.

The most famous Wells Fargo detective was James Hume, responsible for the capture of Black Bart, the notorious stagecoach bandit know for leaving poetic messages at the site of his robberies. At what turned out to be Black Bart’s last robbery, he was wounded and fled the scene. One of the items left behind was a handkerchief with a laundry mark. Hume and another Wells Fargo detective went to over ninety laundries in San Francisco and traced it the customer and his boarding house. The suspect confessed to the robbery.

Even today, the Wells Fargo stagecoach is still one of the enduring images of the West. Doing research on Wells Fargo really helped me shape my hero and his character and helped me develop the plot of Colorado Silver, Colorado Gold.

The author:

Terry Irene Blain was lucky enough to grow up in a large Mid-western family with a rich oral tradition. As a child she heard stories of ancestors’ adventures with Indians, wildlife, weather and frontier life in general, so she naturally gravitated to the study of history and completed a BA and MA then taught the subject at the college level. Married to a sailor, now retired, she’s had the chance to live in various parts of the U.S. and has traveled to Hong Kong, Australia, England and Scotland.

“My degrees and my teaching experience make me a natural to write historical romance. Writing historical romance gives me the opportunity to pass on stories of who we are and where we come from while exploring the relationship between men and women. What could be more exciting than that?”

The giveaway:

Open internationally