Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Top Ten List: The Soulstealer's Daughter


I'm pleased to present today's featured book, The Soulstealer's Child.  The author has provided one of my favorite types of features, a Top Ten list.  But first, some info to introduce the book.


Brandon Gray is the pen name of Braden Bell (Brandon writes YA fiction; Braden writes for middle grades). Braden holds a Ph.D. from New York University. He and his family live on a quiet, wooded lot in Tennessee, where he teaches middle school theatre and music. An experienced performer, Braden enjoys reading, gardening, and long summer afternoons writing in his hammock. His most notable skill is being able to eat a full rack of BBQ ribs with one hand on long drives.

Author Social Media Links:






 When soul-eating demons overrun his world, Kaelis, a young seraph warrior, uses the Queen’s ring to open a portal in space and flee with the infant heir to the throne, landing on earth. Unbeknownst to him, the demon leader, Nsark, follows through the portal, determined to devour the soul of every last seraph, especially the Queen’s heir. After Kaelis hides the baby, Nsark creates the ultimate weapon by fathering a half-human, half-demon: a soul-stealer’s child. 

Sixteen years later, an awkward teen named James struggles to fit in with his peers. In a last-ditch effort, he joins the school play, where he meets Lucy. Something deep draws them together, and their friendship reveals their hidden pasts: one is an angel, one is half-demon. Lucy and James find themselves pulled into an age-old war between their peoples. Hunted by relentless enemies, and grappling with deep-seated instincts and strange new powers, they must fight for their lives, their souls, and each other.

And now for Braden's special(er) feature!


Top Ten List:

1. My wife
2. My kids
3. My students
4. Dr. Pepper
5. BBQ ribs
6. Amazon gift cards
7. Old Christmas movies
8. Turner Classic Movies
9. My new Amazon Firestick (love this!!!)
10. My job--teaching choir and theatre at a middle school. 



Wednesday, November 16, 2016



I love these kinds of events because long before I get to pick a copy up, I get to see a sneak peek at what the book will be like.  Nothing is quite as telling as the cover when done right, so here we go for Saving Lord Whitton's Daughter.
About the author
Susan was born and raised a California girl but is grateful to have lived on the Oregon coast and in the Rocky Mountains of northern Utah. She’s now enjoying living with her husband in the incomparable beauty of the Redwood forest, nestled against the rugged coast of Northern California.
Susan raised a tribe of children, making ends meet as a registered nurse and lactation consultant, and now her tribe members have tribes of their own and she just doesn’t get to see enough of them. She loves to travel and is thrilled with a good movie or a great book, but writing is her passion. She writes almost anything, especially epic fantasy and romance. Saving Lord Whitton’s Daughter is her first Regency Romance. 

Susan would love to hear your comments. Please review her book at your favorite retailer, and at Goodreads, and/ or drop her a note at: stietjen.author@gmail.com.
About the book

Lady Bethany would rather die a spinster than submit to marriage—and thus reveal the horrible secret she has harbored for more than a year
Lord Locke is far too immersed in his service to the Crown for romance, but Lady Bethany is in dire circumstances.
Indebted to Bethany’s late father and his close friend, the earl offers a perfect solution for both of them: a marriage in name only.
Perfect, if only they weren’t so irresistibly drawn to each other—and if Bethany hadn’t found herself falling in love with a man even more mysterious than his reputation. Perfect, until she unwittingly learns he’s protecting her from a threat to her life.
To Mark, Bethany is just another assignment, a woman he’s convinced is hiding something. His offer of marriage was meant only to make it easier to safeguard her.
But when the simple threat turns to attempted murder and treason, Mark realizes that Bethany has stolen his heart and he can do nothing less than throw himself into a race against time to save her, whatever the price.

And now...


Buy Here!
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MTNEZAF/

Monday, November 14, 2016

A tidbit of terror from "A Doorway to Murder."

For our second treat of the day, I have the pleasure of introducing what looks like a great thriller, A Doorway to Murder.  Carol Pouliot has provided me with an excerpt so you can see what I mean.  As usual, thanks go to Loving the Book for the chance to participate in this  blog tour.


 Secrets lurk in a small New York town and betrayal is just around the corner. The morning after the worst blizzard of 1934, Detective Steven Blackwell takes on a highly charged murder case. The investigation starts badly: one clue, lots of lies and alibis. To make things worse, Steven is seeing visions of a woman in his house.

One night, she speaks. Her name is Olivia Watson and she lives in 2014. She believes time has folded over in the house they share. As their relationship deepens, Steven’s investigation intensifies. Soon he can no longer trust anyone in his own time. Can Olivia help crack the case—and catch a killer?




Excerpt
FRIDAY NIGHT – 1934
Chapter 2
The man bent forward Sisyphus-like, struggling to plow through snowdrifts already up to his knees. He was a big bear of a man bundled up in a heavy brown overcoat and woolen hat, with a long scarf wrapped around his neck and face. Thick flakes stuck to his lashes. He could barely see where he was going; but he knew if he stopped, the blizzard would bury him. He pressed on, stumbled, nearly fell into the street—it was impossible to tell where the sidewalk ended and the road began. Not that it mattered. Nothing was moving.  
                The clock in the tower struck two. Its knell echoed through the streets mingling with the howling wind.
How much further? I could still turn back.
But he didn’t.
As he fought his way down what he hoped was the Margate Road, a moonbeam reached around a cloud, striping the path before him, illuminating the way. He was on the right track. After what seemed like hours, he reached his destination and paused to catch his breath. Listening and looking around to make sure he was still alone, he turned into the alley behind the First National Bank and Trust Company.
The man took a key from the depths of his pocket and fit it into the opening. He closed the door behind him but left it unlocked. He moved to the side and quickly turned off the alarm. In near darkness, he made his way from memory to the large, walk-in vault. He flipped the switch on his lantern. Shadows leaped up on the walls and snaked across the ceiling.
In the dim light he squinted at the numbers. He pulled off his dripping hat and shoved it in his pocket, then wiped the melting snow out of his eyes. He spun the dial ten to the left, eighteen to the right, back to the left four marks. Click. He heaved the door open and entered. He unsnapped the lock on his satchel and began stuffing in bills.
As he attempted to close the over-filled bag, he heard a scraping in the hall. He froze, cocked his head to listen, but, before he could react, someone flew at him. With lightning speed, the attacker hit him hard. The man dropped like a stone, dead before his head hit the floor.

The assailant filled his own bag, took his weapon and, leaving his victim crumpled on the smooth cold floor, closed the vault. He spun the dial and moments later walked out through the bank's rear exit, pulling the door tightly shut. 

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Book Buy Links

The Woman Behind the Smile--Top Ten for Debby Montgomery Johnson


Here we come again with another featured book.  Today, Debby invites us in with ten contributions for "The Woman Behind the Smile."



Debby Montgomery Johnson is a woman on a mission. In her book, “The Woman Behind the Smile” she shares her personal experience with a love that turned into betrayal and financial disaster and she removes the mask of shame and shows others how do to the same. Many of us have something, something we’re hiding, something we’re ashamed of, something that through no fault of our own or through our own making, something that we keep hidden and that,  in turn, keeps us hidden, from each other and the world.
From Vermont and a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Debby is the President of Benfotiamine.Net, Inc, a vitamin supplement company that provides an alternative for the pain of neuropathy, a nerve disorder.  (Benfotiamine.Net).  Benfotiamine makes an extraordinary difference especially for diabetics and their families.
Her background is diverse, from working as a paralegal and bank branch manager to being a U.S. Air Force officer, serving as an Intelligence Officer at the Pentagon, the Defense Intelligence Agency and in Wiesbaden, Germany.   Debby is just like you. A woman on a mission to live an authentic, joyful life as the Woman WITH the Smile rather than behind it.

How I Lost a Million Dollars on a Dating Service could be the title of this book but The Woman Behind the Smile is so much more than a “Catfish” story – a term used to refer to someone who creates a false online persona to reel someone into a romantic relationship. Many people are looking to online dating as a way to get back into real life after the death of a spouse, divorce or a failed relationship. We paint ourselves as the “perfect partner” with a profile that reflects our life’s story, or does it? In The Woman Behind the Smile, Debby shows how during much of her life she hid behind the mask of being the perfect wife, mother, Air Force Officer, banker, legal assistant and friend – until life was completely changed by “The Call.” The subsequent rebuilding of her life would include a journey only seen on Lifetime Movie Channel! Like Debby, we all have some hidden stories and like her, it’s now time for us to STAND UP in our power.

Top Ten List:

1.        Walks (hand in hand) with my hubby
2.       Surrounding myself with my kids and playing with my 3 grandchildren
3.       Sitting around with my parents and brothers (and their families) and just talking!
4.       Swimming with the dolphins out in the bay in Hawaii (just did that!)
5.       Having a quiet evening at home with my hubby
6.       Speaking to a group of women about subjects I’m passionate about!
7.       Doing a random act of kindness
8.       Baking chocolate chip cookies (with butterscotch chips and Health Bar crunch chips)
9.       Organizing my house (de-cluttering!)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Making Waves--Blog Tour for SWIM SEASON





I'll be the first to admit that I have little experience with varsity sports.  An oft-quoted phrase for me is "I was awful at sports, so I picked up music and, well, six instruments later..."  I lettered in varsity softball through sheer stubbornness.  I do, however, love a good sports story and having screamed my guts out at the Chicago Cubs this year, I picked up Swim Season by Marianne Sciucco.


Where sports are concerned, the book has a wonderful narrative.  I like sports movies or books where you can feel powerful emotions about the plotline without having to know intimate details of how it all works.  (For example,  my roommate loves baseball movies, but rarely watches baseball and in a good movie, I will only have to explain something once or twice for her to enjoy it.)  We have the season of a girl's swim team with a recurring championship on the line as well as the possibility of an athletic scholarship based on breaking a school record.  While she goes into the importance of points being scored by others than the first-place swimmer for the overall effort of the team, you don't need to know how things are weighted and the specifics of scoring.  The description of the swimming itself takes you into the world of the sport slowly so that you're not overwhelmed by terminology and then keeps the jargon consistent so you know what to look for.

But setting aside the sports mechanics, I'd like to address two things:  motivation and maturity.  I took issue with the main character's priorities at first.  Without giving away too much, I can say that she is  a person who gives up everything when her world comes crashing down.  That is such a trope.  So are her tendencies to be a snot to her stepmother, emotionally distant from her stepsiblings and disrespectful to the dad who just doesn't keep his commitments  I found myself rolling my eyes every time she jumped to a conclusion about her stepmother being absent (probably because she's off playing tennis somewhere).

But then the maturity set in.  The development into someone who has understanding and compassion for the family that she disregards at the beginning is an impressive one.  My only complaint is that it's somewhat sudden, so doesn't feel as natural.  Then again, this is someone who has had no warning for her personal catastrophes, partially because of the meddling of adults she should have been able to trust.  I was still impressed by this paradigm shift.

The ensemble cast, while stocked with token characters like the stuck-up mean girl, the kooky best friend, the kooky best friend's hot brother, etc., develops quite naturally from their disparate parts into a functioning group that has a hard time succeeding without one of its members.  Marianne did a great job creating characters who we eventually cared intensely about and the book is clearly written by someone with a deep love for the sport and for the athletes involved.



Thanks to Loving the Book for providing me a copy in exchange for an honest review.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Manors and Marches--Blog Tour review of The Second Season


Introduction

I occasionally know the authors whose books I feature on my blog--Lauren Skidmore, Emma Parker and Rebecca Greenwood, for example--but I had a fun opportunity last weekend.

The Sandy, UT Barnes and Noble had an Authorpalooza, where 30 authors did signings.  I think our marketing person said 20 of them were Cedar Fort authors.  Some of these people I had never heard of.  One person's appearance reminded me that I needed to buy her cookbook for my cousin.  I got a ride from Rebecca and said hi to my old friends from Salt Lake City Comic-Con a few weeks ago and the author with whom I shared a book birthday..

Most of my contact was with the person sitting next to me, Heather Chapman.  After worrying that she wasn't speaking up enough (a worry everyone shares at some point in the publicity process), she devised a points system and a prize.  Nervous as we both were to be relentlessly cheerful extroverts, we talked to people as much as possible, handed out cards and bookmarks as much as possible and came up with clever ways to connect with our readers.  When I won by what I think was a narrower margin than what she actually did, she bought me a chile hot chocolate to celebrate me being more (according to her) audacious.

So What?

I tell you this story to introduce the sort of soul who wrote this book.  When I was dating my ex, John, his mother introduced me to Frances Burney.  Writing a generation before Jane Austen, Burney wrote the primers for the sorts of books that Austen produced.  The social customs that we take for granted after watching Pride and Prejudice a few too many times are explored and explained in her books and they're utterly delightful.  The protagonists were typically sheltered girls or young women approaching the social season for the first time and without much preparation.  Some characters were even introduced only by their trope--one of my favorite of her characters is known only as The Fop.

Any time you mention Regency romance to me, I immediately start talking about Frances Burney.  Frankly, I think she's the most positive thing I got out of my relationship with John.

The Book

The Second Season reminds me strongly of its inspirations (and I'm impressed that Heather says it was somewhat inspired by her grandparents), but while she calls it a Regency romance, I found myself reading Burney into a lot of the pages.  Moreover, the humor and adventure of the main characters made me feel as though I was sitting down with my well-worn copy of Little Women.  I spent more time caring about the family dynamics and the occasional background mysteries than anything else.

This is not because the romance was badly-written.  I prefer books that establish a world and an ensemble cast and then tell the story of how a love interest finds his or her place within that world.  I feel as though Heather did a great job doing that sort of world-building and allowing us to form our own opinions of who should be welcomed into that microsociety.

The plot brings to mind Pride and Prejudice, but the characters seem to come out of some of my other favorites--Persuasion and Emma.  They are neither dull nor standard and they definitely have a kindred spirit with the person who sat next to me in Barnes and Noble.

Buy it here:  https://www.amazon.com/Second-Season-Heather-Chapman-ebook/dp/B01KPDTD1I/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

I was provided a free copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Blog Tour: Blue Spirit and Restless Spirit review

ABOUT THE BOOKS
Book Synopsis for Blue Spirit:   Gamer girl Skye MacLeod can see fairies, but only when she’s tipsy. More Grimm than enchanting, some of these fairies are out to ruin her life, wreaking havoc with her job, her home, and her relationships.
With the help of her tiny fairy friend Minnie, Skye has to protect her vampire wannabe gamer friends from all-too-real supernatural threats only she can see. Can she keep it together and hold fast against a wicked fairy Queen’s plot?

Blue Spirit is the first book of A Tipsy Fairy Tale series!


Book Synopsis for Restless Spirit:
When Skye McLeod is asked by her pal Phil Jenson if she wants to cosplay at his game company’s booth during Big Con Weekend—and get paid for it—she jumps at the chance. Besides, Skye’s hit a rocky patch with her girlfriend Annabelle, who wants her to stop drinking and act more responsibly.
Then Skye gets a call from paranormal detective Rebecca Burton for another job; something big is going on at the convention, and she needs Skye to be her eyes and ears there. So now Skye’s getting paid to have fun—twice!

Then The Night Duke, a creep from Skye’s live role playing days, shows up and uses some weird mojo, seemingly turning pretend zombies into real ones. After barely escaping an attack, Skye learns the fairies and trolls within the magical realm are getting restless, and her old friend, the Transit King, is in the middle of it.

Skye decides to once again enlist the aid of her fairy companion “Minnie.” For Skye to enter the magic realm, she needs to get tipsy. Then she’ll just have to control the powers within her and contain the outside forces that threaten to spin into chaos. How can she possibly screw this up?

Book Two of the Tipsy Fairy Tales TrilogyReview

I'm going to start out with one of the highest compliments I can give in a review.  It's not one that I give lightly, so enjoy it and I hope you agree with it if you read these books.

There are no token characters in these books.

Sometimes, in books or movies, I get utterly and completely turned off by the obligatory characters.  There is the struggling housewife, the sassy gay best friend, the husband who's not man enough for something, the makeover BFF, the Big Bad who is ripped off from something Joss Whedon...  You get the idea.  I can make you lists of things I would never recommend just because "I had to sit through two hundred pages of Mattie, the Prada-obsessed boytoy of Enrico telling the protagonist that she's a hot mess" or "The plot might have been interesting if the villain were at all original or motivated by something more complex than proving he's virile by galaxy domination."  (Can you tell that I've been reading things slightly against my will recently?)

Let me give you an example. Our main girl has a girlfriend.  Because this is fantasy, there are fairies.  But they don't get old.  We understand that the LARPing main character has a role-playing husband and her girlfriend isn't insecure about it, but joins the game to share an interest.  I like books where there are real relationships and those aren't the only ones.  The ensemble cast is brilliantly done and it feels like we're coming into the middle of a sixth season, but picking up the books for the first time.

In terms of world-building, I like the approaches to the fantastical elements.  There are elements of demonic possession that seem fresh to me, the girl who has been a fan of The Exorcist for 20 years and writes about necromancy.  Minnie--part-fairy, part-familiar, part-ninja--is my favorite character.  One of my favorite parts of the book where they go onto even more familiar ground and run a booth at a Con is when we see sinister characters go very Sunnyvale After Dark until Minnie intervenes. It turns out that these utterly evil-seeming characters are hostages.  This gives very good resonance to the character who's still dealing with the aftermath of being a "meat puppet" for a demon.  It's like what would happen if Regan from The Exorcist grew up and was a social worker for a girl who is possessed.

I really don't want to give more away, so I'll leave you with this recommendation to go meet the cast of these books and find out how much more complicated it is.

These eBooks being reviewed were provided for an honest review, and that no compensation was provided.

Author Links:

Twitter:  @EChrisGarrison


Amazon Links for Blue Spirit
Print Version

Kindle Version

Barnes and Noble Link for Blue Spirit

Amazon Links for Restless Spirit

Print Version

Kindle Version

Barnes and Noble Link for Restless Spirit

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/restless-spirit-e-chris-garrison/1123998495?ean=9781941706442