Saturday, August 31, 2013

Award-winning Stonewiser Trilogy FREE on Kindle (Aug 31 - Sep 2, 2013)!

Dear Romantic Fantasy Fans,

For the first time ever and for a limited time, Dora Machado's entire Stonewiser award-winning fantasy trilogy, published by Mermaid Press, is available FREE on Kindle.

WHEN? From Saturday August 31 to Monday September 2

To get your free download NOW from the Kindle store, click on each title below. It’s as simple as that!

stonewiser-theheartofthestone-156x240Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone

Winner of the 2009 Benjamin Franklin Award for best Debut Novel

Finalist for 2009 Foreword Book of the Year Award for SFF

Between truth and deception, between justice and abuse, a stonewiser stands alone with the stones. Or so begins the stonewiser's oath. But what happens when a rebellious stonewiser discovers that lies have tainted the stone tales?

In a world devastated by the rot's widespread destruction, only the tales preserved in the stones can uphold the truth and defend the Goodlands. In this world, stone truth is valued above anyone's word, and stonewisers are the only ones capable of retrieving the tales from the stones, the only link between past and present, order and chaos.

Sariah is the most gifted stonewiser of her generation, but her talent does not atone for her shortcomings. A survivor of the Guild's brutal training, she is curious, willful and disobedient. Yet not even Sariah is prepared for what she finds when she steals into the Guild's Sacred Vaults: A mayhem of lies and intrigues that shatters her world.

Hunted, persecuted, and betrayed, Sariah must make an unlikely alliance with Kael, a cynical rebel leader pledged to a mysterious quest of his own. The fate of their dying world depends on their courage to overcome centuries of hatred and distrust. But not even the grueling journey has prepared them for what they are about to discover. Because nothing is really as it seems, and the truth is more intricate and devastating than they ever suspected....
9780979968242 (2)Stonewiser: The Call of the Stone

Winner of the 2010 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Gold Medal for SF/F

Finalist for the 2010 ForeWord Book of the Year Award for SF/F

Sariah's reward for revealing the stone truth: a death sentence.

The executioners have arrived and Sariah, the most powerful and controversial stonewiser of her generation, has been judged and condemned to death. For the last few months, Sariah has been hiding in the Rotten Domain, trying to find the elusive tale capable of uniting a divided people teetering on the brink of a catastrophic war. As she is dragged to the nets, where an eel rave has been stirred to maximize her execution's gruesome spectacle, Sariah knows she cannot escape her sentence. She is guilty of the crimes for which she's been condemned and no one, not even Kael, the Domain's foremost rebel leader, can save her from the executioners' righteous justice.

But Kael is more than just a formidable warrior; he is also a cunning strategist and Sariah's steadfast lover. Risking all he has, he bargains with the greedy executioners, bribing them into delaying Sariah's execution, buying her precious time and a last chance to realize the mysterious legacy that the stones have imposed on her. The agreement is hardly a reprieve. It encourages a mob to hunt Sariah for ransom, banishing her from the Rotten Domain and imposing heavy fines on anyone who tries to help her. Worse, it requires her to wear an irremovable, mysterious bracelet. If she doesn't return to the executioners with the tale in hand when the allotted time expires, Kael and his kin will be ruined and the bracelet will kill her.

Hunted by the executioners, the Guild and the Shield, Sariah and Kael embark on a desperate search. Their journey will take them to the depths of the Rotten Domain, where Sariah must wise a guiding beam out of the wild tale stored in a stone-carved game. The beam will lead them through the warring Goodlands—where the rot is on the move—to the land beyond the Bastions, where a zealous people guard an ancient stone that could hold the key to their search. Along the way, Sariah and Kael must overcome deadly traps, torture, heartbreak, agonizing defeat and devastating losses in a desperate attempt to avoid war and answer the mysterious call of the stone.
9780979968259Stonewiser: The Lament of the Stone

Winner of the 2012 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Silver Medal for SF/F

Finalist for the 2012 ForeWord Book of the Year Award for SF/F

"Do you know why the stones grieve?" the woman said to Kael. "Not for a soul, I'll tell you that much. The stones don't grieve for the passing of a lowly woman or the madness of a smitten man. They don't mourn death, or lost love, or broken dreams, or loneliness or despair. Yet you will make them wail. For you, the stones will weep."

In their most perilous adventure yet, Sariah, the rogue stonewiser who stunned the world by discovering lies in the stones and defying the all-powerful Guild, and Kael, the rebel leader who against all odds loves her, must find a stolen child, the only one capable of setting rule upon chaos, preserving the future of stonewising, and defeating the rot ravaging the land. The stakes couldn't be higher. The coveted child they seek is said to be an abomination. He is also their son.

It's a daunting challenge. Their child is in the hands of a deceitful enemy who has fled to a mysterious ruler, a rival deity with unfathomable powers pledged to destroy the goddess and eradicate stonewising from the world. Worse yet, the land is engulfed in strife, the rot is spreading faster than ever, and Kael is haunted by a malevolent curse compelling him to kill the woman he loves.

In a dangerous journey fraught with shocking twists, Sariah and Kael must do more than defeat their foes, unravel the mystifying forces vying to control their lives, and discover the mysteries of ages past. They must challenge the stones, defy the goddess and confront their cursed fates. Because only by embracing their destinies do they stand a chance to save their child and their world.

For those of you audio book lovers, the first book in the series, Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone is now available from Audible. Be sure to check it out!
Dora Tapestry 1 June 2013 (480x640)About Dora Machado

Dora Machado is the award winning author of the Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, from Twilight Times Books, available July 2013. She is one of the few Latinas exploring her heritage and her world through the epic fantasy genre today. She holds a master's degree in business administration and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Georgetown University. She was born in Michigan and grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a bilingual fascination for writing, a love for history, and a taste for Merengue.

After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She enjoys long walks, traveling, and connecting with the amazing readers who share in her mind's adventures. She lives in Florida with her indulging husband and three very opinionated cats. Visit her at

Friday, August 30, 2013

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: Secrets of a Real-Life Female Private Eye by Colleen Collins

*Don’t forget to enter our giveaway, below!*

Secrets of a Real-Life Female Private Eye by Colleen Collins, a professional private investigator and award-winning novelist, is a no-holes-barred, modern-day story about life in the female P.I. fast lane.


"Colleen Collins's chronicle about her investigative career is completely authentic. She brings her real-world P.I. stories to your e-reader straight from the streets!"  ~ Shaun Kaufman, former P.I. and managing partner, Shaun Kaufman Law

“As an experienced private detective and a skilled storyteller, Colleen Collins is the perfect person to offer a glimpse into the lives of real female P.I.s”   ~Kim Green, managing editor of Pursuit Magazine: The Magazine of Professional Investigators

"SECRETS OF A REAL-LIFE FEMALE PRIVATE EYE features [Colleen's] honest, engaging voice and takes full advantage of the interactivity ebooks allow. Part memoir, part reference, SECRETS delivers Colleen's firsthand experience and looks at the latest resources and equipment private investigators use."  ~Gerald So, moderator of DetecToday, editor, poet, book reviewer
“SECRETS OF A REAL-LIFE FEMALE PRIVATE EYE  is a research must-have.”  ~Holly Jacobs, award-winning author of Steamed, featuring amateur sleuth Quincy Mac

Now Available on Amazon!


Colleen Collins is an award-winning author who’s written 22 novels and anthologies for Harlequin
and Dorchester. Her books have placed first in the Colorado Gold, Romancing the Rockies, and Top of the Peak contests, and placed in the finals for the Holt Medallion, Coeur de Bois Readers Choice, Award of Excellence, More than Magic, and Romance Writers of America RITA contests.

After graduating from the University of California Santa Barbara, Colleen worked as a film production assistant, improv comic, telecommunications manager at the RAND Corporation, technical writer/editor, speech writer, and private investigator. All these experiences play into her writing.

She’s a member of the Mystery Writers of America (MWA), Private Eye Writers of America (PWA) and Sisters in Crime.

When not sleuthing, Colleen’s hanging with her two Rottweilers (named Jack Nicholson and Aretha Franklin), her three cats, and plotting or writing her next book. Visit her at

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Book Review: Designed for Relationship by T.J. MacLeslie

A moving, powerful look into the relationship we can have with our heavenly Father, comes from the pen of T.J. MacLeslie.

Man was not meant to travel this world alone. As early as the creation of man, God knew it was not good for us to be alone. After Adam, he created Eve, and together they lived in communion with God until sin entered the world. But still, God loved us so much that He sent His only Son to repair that broken relationship.

None of what I've written above is new to any Christian. Some nonbelievers probably know the story, too. But as a Christian who has heard this story over and again, perhaps it loses its uniqueness or might not seem as amazing as it was the first time I heard it and truly understood its meaning.

What Designed for Relationship did was open my eyes to things I thought I knew. Sharing insights I hadn't considered, the author truly got me thinking about God's desire to be in a relationship with us and what it means to have relationships with others that reflect God's intentions.

The book opens with a unique retelling of the prodigal son parable told by Jesus and recorded in the Gospel of Luke. Seeing this story from all three men's perspectives is enlightening. There's also a discussion of the Trinity in the first chapter that made me stop and think about the perfect relationship with One God in Three Persons, and how we were created as relational beings in their likeness.

Designed for Relationship is broken down into two parts: Part One Renewing Our Vision and Part Two Becoming Who We Are. Without great surprise, they work in harmony together by sharing Biblical truths in Part One and showing the reader how to apply these truths to his life in Part Two. In the second part of the book, MacLeslie shares his paradigm known as The Five Circles: Body, Mind, Will, Emotions, Spirit. It's fascinating. I found myself agreeing with so much of what the author had written.

This book is filled with reflection questions and portions of Scripture are cited. There are also appendices: Additional Reading and Resources, Assessment Questions and Tools, and Devotional Exercises.

Designed for Relationship is eloquently written, but the author never speaks down to the reader. His style and tone invite you to learn how to love God with all you are.

File Size: 1154 KB
Print Length: 159 pages
Publisher: Parvaim Press (June 21, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

I received a free copy of this book from the author's publicist. I collected a fee to promote this book with a virtual book tour through Pump Up Your Book, but that fee did not include a review of any kind. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

This is the 10th book I've read for the following challenge:

T.J. MacLeslie has been involved in a variety of Christian ministries since 1990, including pastoring, church planting, leadership development, prayer, and spiritual formation. He currently lives in the UK with his wife and two children where he leads a team focused on prayer and spiritual formation. You’ll often find him walking the fields with his dog, reading a book, or enjoying a warm cup of coffee.

Visit the author online at

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Recent Downloads

FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY! Get the first two books of the Georgetown Academy series in a special summer bundle! Gossip Girl producer Josh Schwartz calls Georgetown Academy “Smart, sexy and insanely addictive.” Now it’s your turn to get hooked.

It’s the beginning of a new political administration. That might not mean much at most high schools, but at Georgetown Academy, Washington D.C.’s most elite prep school, January 20th means new alliances, new flings, and new places to party.

For self-proclaimed D.C. royalty Brinley Madison (of those Madisons), the first day of school is all about establishing the social hierarchy and playing the part of perfect political wife to her boyfriend, the outgoing Vice President’s son. Too bad he has a wandering eye that puts Bill Clinton’s to shame. Can she keep him, and her own secret vice, in check?

Ellie Walker, Brinley’s best friend, floats through the halls on the arm of golden boy Hunter McKnight. But when her ex-boyfriend, Gabe, returns to town and her Senator mother’s political nemesis is reelected, Ellie’s world is turned upside down.

Shy, quiet Evan Hartnett is more into books than beer, and her closet is full of t-shirts and jeans instead of Jason Wu and Jimmy Choo. No one’s ever really noticed her—but she’s been noticing them. When her star rises as an intern at D.C.’s most-watched political news show, she soon finds herself asking what’s secret and what’s fair game.

New girl Taryn Reyes is all laid-back, California cool; with a father who’s in line to be the first Hispanic president, she’s ready to dive into the D.C. scene with an open mind. But after her first run-in with dirty politics, she realizes that keeping her integrity intact might be a lot harder than she thinks.

With so many new friends and former flames in the mix, things are bound to get a little heated. And while diplomatic immunity might keep the cops away, there’s not much it can do about the press.

In a town where one teenage misstep can turn into a national scandal, the students at Georgetown Academy will have to be on their best behavior—or, at least, they’ll have to make the world believe that they are.

Because there’s only one rule: whatever you do, don’t get caught.

File Size: 607 KB
Print Length: 262 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Coliloquy (July 31, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

Two septuagenarians win the lottery's biggest prize, dragging Walt and Ox into the most bizarre cases of their career.

The two 'oldies' are determined to use their new found wealth to re-create the past but instead propel Walt into the future where he must use drones and Star Trek phasers to balance the scales of justice.

When an extortion plot turns into kidnapping, Walt must boldly go where no cop has gone before to save himself and the millionaire.

Come along for another hilarious ride with the world's oldest and most lovable cop!

File Size: 638 KB
Print Length: 224 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1492118273
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Top Ten Most Memorable Secondary Characters

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

I am going to start today's post off with characters from children's books because they immediately came to mind. We'll see what else develops from there.

Nellie Oleson from the Little House books. 

Though she was featured in more than one of Laura Ingalls Wilder's classic children's novels, Nellie Oleson was first introduced in On the Banks of Plum Creek. She is the storekeeper's daughter and teases Laura and her sister Mary for being county girls. I simply can't imagine the Little House series without Nellie Oleson.

Josie Pye from Anne of Green Gables

Like Nellie Oleson, Josie Pye is remembered for how rotten she is to the main character of the story, in this case, orphan Anne Shirley, who is accidentally sent to Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, an elderly brother and sister who requested an orphan boy to help them run their farm, Green Gables. Josie is mean, vain, and extremely jealous of how much attention Gilbert Blythe pays to Anne.

Templeton from Charlotte's Web

Even the name of the girl in Charlotte's Web escaped me for a moment--it is Fern--but I can't seem to get that gluttonous, self-serving rat, Templeton out of mind. He's a character that is easy to dislike. He only does things for others when he can get something out of it. He's quite a crank. But he is definitely unforgettable. 

Colonel Guillermo Paz from Strong Rain Falling

When I interviewed author Jon Land about this book, he said his favorite character was Colonel Guillermo Paz. He's mine, too. He's a fascinating character. Once sent to eliminate Caitlin Strong, he is now her protector. More than once in this novel he saved Caitlin and her family. It's also interesting witnessing his conversations with priests and college professors. 

Beulah from Reconstructing Jackson

Beulah plays such an important role I'm not sure she really could qualify as a secondary character. After the Civil War, Reed Jackson returns to his family plantation, but his father has left the family holdings to his younger brother. He moves west to his cousin's home hoping to start over. Here he meets Belle, the romantic female lead of the story. But Reed also meets Beulah, an outspoken freed black woman who tests everything he believes as a man who grew up in the South.

Mr. Foley from Unexpected Christmas Hero

This is one of my favorite books by Kathi Macias because it tests what we think we know about homeless people. It's also touching that it takes place at Christmas time.

Mr. Foley works at the homeless shelter where Josie, her children, and a Vietnam veteran they meet spend some time. He is memorable for how he acts toward them--especially the children--but also because of what happens to him in the story.

Nick Two John from the Deputy Tempe Crabtree Series

One of the things Marilyn Meredith does so well in both of her series is create characters you truly care about. Through the numerous books of this mystery series, Nick Two John has appeared wise, yet frustrating. He has helped Tempe discover her Native American roots and tap into their mysticism, but he also talks in roundabout ways that leave Tempe wishing he would just come out and say what he means. Nick Two John runs the Bear Creek Inn with his significant other, and I love it when Tempe and her husband Hutch stop by to visit them. A Tempe Crabtree book wouldn't be the same without Nick Two John. 

Finnick Odair from Catching Fire and Mockingjay 

Finnick Ordair is both funny and unusual. Winning the 65th Hunger Games at the age of 14, he has extraordinary physical skill and is popular with the people in the Capitol. He is forced into prostitution by President Snow until he is reaped into the third Quarter Quell, where he forms an alliance with Peeta and Katniss, along with several others. The most memorable thing about Finnick is that he is so much more than he appears.

Peregrine from The Tudor Secret

Peregrine is an orphaned stable boy who brings back memories of his youth for Brendan Prescott. Prescott is the main character of this series. He takes quite a shine to the boy and I have to admit he became one of my favorite characters, too. The second book in this series was recently released. I'm not sure if we'll see Peregrine again, but I hope so.

Jake Witherspoon from The Madhatter's Guide to Chocolate and
Up the Devil's Belly

I'll admit I'm cheating a bit with this last one. Jake is actually a significant character in The Madhatter's Guide to Chocolate. His flamboyant homosexuality makes him the target of a hate crime. He is kidnapped and severely beaten. In the second book of this series, Up the Devil's Belly, Jake and his friends have transformed the Witherspoon Mansion into an upscale day spa. It's kind of hard to find a secondary character in this series because the author takes a community approach to the novel. But I loved Jake's character and felt he was worthy of mention here.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Executive Actions by Gary Grossman Blog Blitz - Book Available for Only 99 Cents!

Today we're going to start this post of a bit different, with a word from our guest author.

An assassin takes aim at a Presidential candidate during a primary stump speech. The instant he pulls the trigger, the outcome of the election is irrevocably changed. But Democrat Teddy Lodge, an upcoming media sweetheart, isn't killed. His wife is. As a result, Lodge emerges as the man to beat and the greatest threat to the incumbent President, Morgan Taylor. Under a specific directive from the President, Special Service Agent Scott Roarke delves into the case and begins to unravel a deadly plot that incubated for more than 30 years; designed to alter America's allegiances in the Middle East. From the very first page, Presidential Objective culls events from today's headlines intersecting with a scenario that's shockingly real: An insidious plot hatched in the old days of the Soviet Union continues to grow to fruition in the hands of a power hungry Middle East heir to the throne. At its core, a sleeper is awakened to take a prominent role in American Life. Presidential Option is a tense political thriller; an election year page-turner, where both the Presidency and the Constitution are at stake.


Blog posting by Gary Grossman

I’m honored to be connecting to readers through The Book Connection. It’s a fabulous website, dedicated to enhancing our experience as readers and a great means for authors to link up with fans. Thank you for extending me the opportunity to share a real inside story about EXECUTIVE ACTIONS that I hope everyone will find interesting and add to the experience of reading my first thriller.

Let me transport you back to September 10, 2001 and a light-hearted conversation in the Manhattan offices of the History Channel. I was there through my day job as a TV producer. Up to that point I had produced nearly 100 documentaries, biographies and historical specials for History. We were now gathered to talk about the future.

For the sake of conversation, someone in the room wondered aloud, “Do you think we’re running out of history?” Of course this led to a wide-ranging discussion.

“We’re always going to be making and reporting history. The question for me,” I finally asked, “is whether we’ll ever really learn from it.”

The very next morning, with the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, life in the United States changed. Forever.

A day later on my drive back to my home in Los Angeles (the airports were shut down) I began thinking about the plot to bring down the buildings. It had been years in the making, the work of terrorists and…sleeper cell spies.

What else could be in play? I thought to myself. What other targets are out there? Brick and mortar, institutional, or symbolic?

Let me attach some basis to the question. We are a very impatient society. In America, we make and break movies and TV shows over a weekend or within a few weeks of release or airing. We give “nobodies” 15-minutes of fame and then toss them out like Dixie Cups. We live in a 24/7 news (or is it “noise”) cycle, where stories come and go in the blink of an eye. But to our enemies in the Middle East, patience – real patience – is another thing. It’s centuries long. To many, the invasion of the Crusaders is recent history.

With that in mind, I eventually focused on a plot for a novel. Although I had written two widely popular non-fiction books on TV history and had been a newspaper columnist and TV news documentarian, this would be my first attempt at fiction.

My idea was based on that notion of patience: Sleeper cell spies in the U.S., incubating for 30 or 40 years, are awakened. What goal would be important enough to wait decades? I decided it would be the American presidency itself.

I researched Russian sleeper cell spies operating in the U.S and considered who would run them after the fall of the Soviet Union? I answered that by transferring the chain of command to a Middle East terrorist bent on revenge.

Then I started my research; deep research on U.S. Constitutional Law, military hardware, Arabic history, systems within the White House, and secret Soviet cities where spies were trained spies to not only pass as Americans, but literally become Americans.

This was the crux of EXECUTIVE ACTIONS – unique education that came out of the KGB and their super secret Andropov Institute.

At the height of the Cold War, the Russians had to train spies to think like Americans – to be able to pass as authentic citizens – to not haggle when buying items, to successfully apply for a house loan without drawing suspicion, to work proper idiomatic expressions into their language and to even deal with the wide ranging choices Americans have from choosing car colors to picking one sneaker style out of hundreds. It was all different, and untrained, sleeper spies would get the simple things about American life wrong and avoid exposure.

The plot hangs on a team trained to blend into American life so effectively that they could eventually assume important jobs in the fabric of the United States.

It’s all based on actual cases.

EXECUTIVE ACTIONS begins with an assassination on the campaign trail, moves with lightning speed through the election season, through the halls of Congress and into the backwoods of America. Besides the action and intrigue, I also weave in arguments over the laws that govern presidential succession today. (Trust me, it’s a disaster waiting to happen.)

The thriller is timely, based on real-world threats and relatable characters. It’s fiction, but only a few heartbeats away from reality and proof that we can’t close our eyes on history-making events for a second.

Returning to the conversation we had at network. Are we running out of history?

Pick up the newspaper tomorrow or turn on the news. History rewrites itself every day.



Gary Grossman is also the author of EXECUTIVE TREASON and EXECUTIVE COMMAND.
He can be reached through
and invites new followers via Twitter @garygrossman1
Available in all Book formats
Diversion Books, NYC

Goodreads: (Where a giveaway for a signed copy of the entire Executive trilogy is currently ongoing!)

Blog Blitz Hosts

See my review of EXECUTIVE ACTIONS here:

My review of EXECUTIVE TREASON here:

My review of EXECUTIVE COMMAND here:

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sample Review: "You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth" and Other Things You'll Only Hear from Your Friends in the Powder Room Edited by Leslie Marinelli

I downloaded a sample from Amazon of "You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth" and Other Things You'll Only Hear from Your Friends in the Powder Room, which is an anthology of bold and humorous short stories by women, for women, about being women.

COVER: I love it! It makes you think back to around 1950 or so...or at least before I cared if I walked out of the house with lipstick on my teeth. When was the last time I wore lipstick anyway?

The first story is about sibling rivalry. Not the typical one, but the one where you like one breast better because it grew in faster and looks better than the other one. The second story is about a woman trying to work up the courage to tell the friend she goes out with every Saturday night that she dances like a stripper and everyone is watching.

I have to admit these were a couple of funny stories, but I could do without the obscenities. I know, I'm becoming a prude in my old age. LOL! Some of the stories might push the envelope a bit: "There Is No Ball Drying at the Dinner Table" and "My Vagina Is Like a Flower--a Cauliflower" come to mind. Others sound just plain hilarious: "Confucius Say: When Shit Hits Fan, Girlfriends Bring Pooper Scooper" and "Friends Let Friends Pee Their Pants."

I'm not planning to buy the full version yet, but I might. Depends on my mood. After checking out the website that was the inspiration for this book, I'm afraid my sense of humor might be curtailed if the content is too vulgar.

File Size: 372 KB
Print Length: 243 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1490963413
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: PRG Media; 1 edition (July 31, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

I downloaded a free sample to my Kindle. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: Gem City Gypsy by Kristin Kuhns Alexandre

When you read “Gem City Gypsy” you must conceptualize a whole world.



The Wright Brothers.

The KKK.

Industrialization leading to WWI.

So many vivid elements. The story is about a gypsy girl who must leap over bodies to survive the sinking Lusitania and escape murderous Germans who kill her mentor in Ireland. She later returns to her hometown, recreated as a wealthy woman trying to meld into the upper class. Neci Star captures our imagination and heart as she claws her way out of one class and into the abyss of another.

Purchase at Amazon!

Kristin Alexandre was raised in Dayton, Ohio where she worked as a feature columnist for The Dayton Journal Herald and the Kettering Oakwood Times. She has written two previous books: Nuncio and the Gypsy Girl in the Gilded Age, a graphic novel that was featured at the 2011 NY City Comic Con; and Find a Great Guy: Now and Forever.

Alexandre was a co-founder of Earth Day 1970 and worked on staff with House Beautiful Magazine and as a contributor to Town & Country Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor and The Daily News. Her celebrity luncheon series for the Chairman of Ammirati & Puris Advertising at The New York Yacht Club was acclaimed, and she has also worked as a co-host and producer of Enough Is Enough a syndicated talk show for WLIW-TV, a PBS affiliate in NYC. Alexandre has worked as a publicist for The Economic Development Association of Puerto Rico and Champion International U.S. Plywood. She is a NJ Board Member of The Humane Society of America and resides in Delray Beach, Fl. and Nantucket , Ma. with her husband DeWitt.

You can visit Kristin’s website at:



Enter for your chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card from author Kristin Kuhns Alexandre. Visit her tour page at for details.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

First Chapter Review: Desperation by D.W. Carver

The author contacted me for a first chapter review of this book released in July by Front Porch Romance.

BLURB: Kate thought that once her mother died, the pain she had caused would end. Then she discovered that a letter had been sent to a prominent television presenter on her mother’s orders taunting him with the fact that Kate now held photographs which would ruin him and probably lead to his arrest. Suddenly Kate is running for her life. She seeks help from Rob, a much older man whom she has only known for a very short time.

While at his London apartment, she rescues a teenage girl, Vickie, from a street pimp and over the following days finds a bond growing between them that feels like a lot more than friendship; but with both their lives now in danger there is no time for thoughts of anything but escape and survival.

COVER: Interesting. I like that it has the people on the cover and the apartment building is in the background. If I saw this on the shelf I would at least pick it up to see what it is about.

FIRST CHAPTER: Kate is standing on the sidewalk when a man in his early forties approaches her. Saving her from being arrested as a possible prostitute by a bored cop, they enter a cafe and chat over coffee. Days later, Kate and Rob meet again in a more intimate setting, and Kate recalls the pain her mother inflicted on her as a child.

KEEP READING: Honestly, this isn't my kind of book. I thought it was some type of romantic suspense/ thriller novel based upon the synopsis, which it very likely could be, but an opening that includes a club that has discipline night, and a relationship between the two main characters that quickly moves from chatting over coffee to sharing of secrets and sexual preferences and then an encounter between the two characters that involves discipline, simply isn't for me. I need to get to know the characters a bit better and understand where they are coming from before I'll buy into that. 

Even if I could get by the content of the first chapter to continue, the book is in need of an editor. In addition, nearly every line of dialogue has some type of he said/she said tag that interrupts the natural flow of the conversation. Example:

Kate managed to keep her head still and reached for the parcel as she asked, ‘What are you talking about?’

The man said, ‘In weather like this the vice squad allow about fifteen minutes for young women who are new to this scene to generate the courage to walk into that club...'

When I checked out the author's website, I have to admit all the books sound appealing to some degree, but I feel a bit misled by the synopsis on this one, so I would be careful about how I approach other books.

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 606 KB
Print Length: 257 pages
Publisher: Front Porch Romance (15 July 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
Language: English

I received a free digital version of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Top Ten Things That Make Our Life As Bloggers Easier/Better

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

Kindle/Nook - When books began filling every corner of my office, I knew I would have to cave and buy a device. I discovered I enjoy reading digital versions nearly as much as reading printed books. My Kindle Fire allows me to easily transport more books when we go on vacation than I could manage before. In addition, I'm not stuck with ARCs of books I didn't care for taking up space in the house. While my daughter uses her Nook to access Netflix and play games, I mostly use my Kindle to read.

Library - When I began taking writing seriously, I found I visited our local library more often for research materials. The Internet only takes you so far and it's too expensive to buy research materials for each new project. Spending so much time at the library, reminded me how much I enjoyed borrowing books when I was a kid and couldn't afford to own every book I wanted. Now, I visit to borrow books for entertainment, and the overwhelming majority of my daughters' reading material is also borrowed.

Rafflecopter - What a pain in the neck blog giveaways were to manage before Rafflecopter. Now they are quick and easy. I can use the same Rafflecopter account for multiple blogs. Rafflecopter will also tell me when a giveaway has started and ended. It also picks the winner, lets me email the winner directly by clicking a button, and announces the winners for me. Love it.

Virtual Book Tours - I know I am biased (I coordinate virtual book tours for a living, after all), but virtual book tours have given me access to tons of books I never would have discovered otherwise. I don't have time to browse the Internet looking for new releases. Emails from virtual book tour companies let me pick and choose what books I want to read and when. If I don't have time to participate or aren't interested, I simply delete the email.

Twitter - I love Twitter. Though Facebook is wonderful, I don't feel the need to share so much on Twitter (the character limit helps). It allows me to promote my blog and I can easily find items of interest with hashtags.

Buffer - I tried TweetDeck. I tried HootSuite. I never really understood them or used them much. Then came Buffer. The Buffer app allows me to schedule tweets on a customized schedule. In addition, it quickly provides analytics that show me how many retweets, favorites, mentions, and clicks my tweets receive.

Pingomatic - Admitting up front that I don't know a ton about it, I discovered Pingomatic from a virtual book tour I work with. It's a service that tells different search engines your blog has been updated. I can definitely say I've received an increase in traffic since I began using it. Not a tremendous amount, but it's helped.

Daily planner - I don't know what I would do without my trusty calendar. Managing six blogs and contributing to several others, organization is the key to keeping me from going insane.

Free blog templates - I'll willingly admit I am somewhat of an HTML dummy. I can't create my own templates--even if I had the time to learn. Sites like hot bliggity blog and The Cutest Blog On The Block help me keep things fresh and interesting for my readers.

Blogging friends - I love visiting other blogs. I've met a bunch of people through blogging. Since I'm not a social butterfly at home, it's nice to meet others online and find common interests.

Book Review, Interview and Giveaway: Strong Rain Falling by Jon Land

An exciting thriller that weaves between past and present is what readers find in Strong Rain Falling by Jon Land.

Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong and her lover, former outlaw, Cort Wesley Masters, are used to danger. But when Masters' sons, Dylan and Luke, become targets, the two soon find themselves diving into the past at the birth of the Mexican drug trade with opium being smuggled across the U.S. border and the battle Caitlin’s own grandfather and great-grandfather fought against the first generation of Mexican drug dealers.

The fate of the United States hangs in the balance as a powerful mastermind bent on revenge dedicates her vast resources to a plot aimed at the U.S.’s technological heart. Ana Callas Guajardo, the last surviving member of the family that founded the Mexican drug trade, is determined to prove to the Estados Unidos that esos Demonios are real.

Action? Check. Intrigue? Check. Thrilling? Check. Land's Strong Rain Falling is a fascinating, action-packed thriller that you won't be able to put down. The fifth, Caitlin Strong novel, it hints at enough of the previous books so readers have a bit of backstory for Caitlin, Cort Wesley, and his teenage boys, while providing a perfect one-book story for new readers to the series--like me.

Having read Land's Blaine McCracken novel, Pandora's Temple, I knew he could spin a spellbinding story. But what drew me to Strong Rain Falling was Caitlin's profession as a fifth-generation Texas Ranger, along with her relationship with a former outlaw. As a history lover, having a novel that travels seamlessly between past and present provided me with the best of both worlds. And the twists and turns along the way encouraged me to keep turning the pages. I liked that Caitlin wasn't perfect. She has a bit of a reputation for being trigger-happy. Her relationship with a certain FBI agent isn't very pleasant. But in typical Texas Ranger fashion she gets the job done.

I'm definitely interested in going back to the beginning of this series and reading the other four. I need to know Caitlin's entire story. And I can't wait until another book in this series is released.

If you're interested in a thriller with tons of action, where the past as much as the present plays a role, this book is for you. If you enjoy Texas Ranger stories and novels about drug trafficking, it will also be you. And if you like a strong heroine, in what some might consider an unusual occupation, you're going to like Strong Rain Falling. I highly recommend it.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Forge Books
Publication Date: August 13, 2013
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 978-0765331502
Series: Caitlin Strong, 5 (Can be read as a Stand Alone)

I received a digital version of this book from the author's publicist. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Find the book on Goodreads at

Interview with Jon Land

Where did you grow up?

Barrington, Rhode Island which is a suburb of Providence.

When did you begin writing?

My answer to that one may surprise you, since I didn’t actually start writing until I was a sophomore at Brown University. First off, that was probably a positive thing since it’s so easy for fledgling writers to get discouraged when they start out in high school or even before. I’d always enjoyed the process, dating all the way back to junior high, but I never had even considered the notion of pursuing a career. For me, law school was as certain after college as college was after high school. But the writing bug bit me while at Brown, and I started writing magazine articles for periodicals like People and The Saturday Evening Post and fell in love with, confession time!, seeing my name in print. Around the same time, I fell in love with reading again, particularly thrillers, and figured why not write one, specifically for my Senior Honors Thesis in Brown’s Honors Program. Two wonderful professors, George Monteiro and the legendary Elmer Blistein, took a huge chance by sponsoring me, but I ended up finishing the book. It was god-awful for the most part, but I’d proven to myself that I could do it. The next book I wrote was the first one that ended up selling and, to this day, I credit Brown to a huge degree in providing me the academic freedom and opportunity to chase my dream.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I write normally in two shifts, first in the late morning through mid-afternoon and then again at night. I especially enjoy writing at night, the later the better, because there are less distractions in the form of phone calls and e-mails. People sometimes forget that as a writer I’m also running a business and, as such, the projects I’m planning or chasing are just as important as the one I’m currently writing. That means when somebody calls or e-mails, I have to respond sometimes immediately. There are also lots of promotional commitments, like this terrific interview you’re conducting, that take up time but are more than worth it. Business again.

What is this book about?

Ah, my favorite question! First off, I think this is the best entry in the series so far. It follows Fifth Generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong on the trail of a Mexican billionaire intending to avenge the wrongs the United States has done to her family thanks to a plot to put us back in the stone age technologically—and, yes, I said her! Ana Callas Guajardo is every bit Caitlin’s equal and her most dangerous adversary yet. Beyond that, Guajardo’s plot also involves killing the teenage sons of Caitlin’s lover, former outlaw Cort Wesley Masters, for whom she has become a surrogate mother. That makes for great emotional development and suspense, coupled with a powerful sub-plot set in the past and featuring Caitlin’s grandfather and great-grandfather that is intrinsically connected to what’s transpiring in the present.

What inspired you to write it?

Writing about the Texas Rangers intrinsically means writing lots about the drug trade that originates, and to an extent dominates, Mexico. So I finally asked myself, where did it all start? I couldn’t recall ever seeing any other writer answer that question and it turns out the Mexican drug trade actually began in the 1870s with a flood of Chinese immigrants who brought opium along for the ride. Just a few years later, farms growing the poppy flower needed to produce opium were sprouting up all over the country. And not long after that, right around the turn of the century, you have the actual birth of drug smuggling with opium being brought into the western United States through the Baja region. In fact, there was a Mexican provincial governor named Cantu (who’s actually a character in the book) who was lauded for building roads and other infrastructure projects when the real reason he built them was to facilitate his smuggling operation!

Who is your favorite character from the book?

Hey, you can’t ask a writer that! (laughs) Seriously, I love them all, but I think most writers as well as readers tend to favor characters who don’t have quite as much screen time but tend to dominate every scene they’re in. So I’d have to say the giant, former Venezuelan assassin, Colonel Guillermo Paz. I don’t think I’ve ever created a character who speaks on his own and creates his own dialogue better than Paz. He’s an indestructible killing machine originally hired to kill Caitlin way back in the first book in the series [Strong Enough to Die], but has evolved into her protector and guardian angel since. He’s always in search of the elusive answers to provide some sort of spiritual enlightenment. When regular visits to church confessionals fail to achieve this for him, Strong Rain Falling features scenes of Paz auditing college philosophy classes where the professors, how I can put this mildly?, run afoul him—a truly bad idea, trust me. And the amazing thing about Paz (SPOILER ALERT!) was that he wasn’t even supposed to survive the first book in the series. Turned out he had plans of his own.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone for whom it was easy and my story is more or less typical. A dozen or more rejections before a company named Zebra that published only paperbacks rolled the dice with me and won. It was a great time for books because there were so many mall stores where you could browse randomly and discover all kinds of authors crammed onto the paperback displays in the front of the store for around three bucks a book. To a large degree, this kind of opportunity and exposure has been replaced by E-books. But the problem is it remains challenging to browse the Internet for new authors the way we used to browse mall-based bookstores. That’s one of the biggest losses our industry has suffered and explains, partially anyway, why it’s become so much harder for traditional publishers to build an author the way they used to.

If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?

That’s a great question and I’m going to answer it in a way I never have before. When I started with Zebra they were a tiny imprint almost exclusively devoted to romance novels with trashy covers. I did three very successful books for them but left for Fawcett Gold Medal (an imprint of Random House) in the mid ‘80s because they weren’t offering a high enough royalty. A few years later they started publishing hardcovers and grew into a great publisher now called Kensington. Bottom line: If I’d found a way to stay with them, I might have become one of their biggest authors ever, a big fish in a small pond, and may have had a smoother road to accomplish far more of my career goals.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Pretty much anywhere, including all the on-line sites. I used to say any bookstore but the inventory paradigm has shifted a lot at Barnes and Noble as well as plenty of Indies to the point where they stock more copies of big bestselling authors and less copies of everybody else. So Barnes and Noble may have Strong Rain Falling, but they may not. And once they sell out of the four or six copies they have on hand, they are unlikely to reorder. Then they complain that they’re not selling enough books and look at you funny when you ask them why it’s not still on the shelves. But, all that aside, it shouldn’t be hard at all to get your hands on a copy of Strong Rain Falling.

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it?

I do indeed and here’s the best link:

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Tell a story. Sounds simple but developing an instinctive sense of beginning, middle and end, of knowing how to build suspense, how to pace, how to make your book impossible to put down is what it all comes down to. You have to write so that every scene, every paragraph—hell, every line—contains conflict and gives the reader a reason to keep reading. When you think of great oral storytellers, think of the way they use the cadence and rhythm of their voices to keep those gathered around the campfire leaning forward. Well, finding that voice is just as important for storytellers who use written words as their tool instead. I always go back to how the great John D. McDonald defined the essence of story: Stuff happens to people the reader cares about. All writers, first and foremost, should keep that simple mantra in mind.

What is up next for you?

Lots of work, too much work, more work than I can handle! (laughs) Seriously, I’ve never had as many opportunities as I have right now but I never stop considering more because you just never know when the BIG ONE that gets me on the New York Times bestseller list is going to come. The next book’s already done. It’s called THE TENTH CIRCLE and it’s the follow-up to PANDORA’S TEMPLE once again featuring Blaine McCracken, my original series hero I’ve fallen back in love with. Beyond that I’m actually working on three books: a sequel to my bestselling THE SEVEN SINS, a terrific project I’m doing in tandem with the great Heather Graham, and I’m just about to start STRONG DARKNESS, the next book featuring Caitlin that takes her and Cort Wesley Masters to a very dark place potentially. I’m going to take her right up to the edge, but hopefully not so close that she slips over. I also see some good finally coming out of Hollywood after my one and only film, the teen comedy DIRTY DEEDS, was released all the way back in 2005. Hey, call me the eternal optimistic. But I’m also a realist and that’s why, to paraphrase the great Jerry Garcia, I’ve embarked on so many journeys leading to the same destination that’s labeled, simply, SUCCESS!

Enter for chance to win a digital version of Strong Rain Falling. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is the 9th book I've read for the following challenge:

Thursday, August 15, 2013

First Chapter Review: Night of the Assassin by Russell Blake

I downloaded this book to my Kindle for free back in February 2012. It currently sells for $3.47 on Amazon.

BLURB: Night of the Assassin is the gritty, edge-of-your seat prequel to King of Swords. A no-holds-barred, breakneck-paced thriller, Night charts the early years of El Rey - known as the King of Swords - a super-assassin responsible for some of the world's most spectacular and daring executions.

Framed against the backdrop of present-day Mexico's brutal narco-trafficking violence, Night of the Assassin chronicles the making of a monster - a cold-blooded, ruthless killing machine. Raw, disturbing, edgy and unflinching, this epic saga defies convention to create a roller-coaster of intrigue, suspense and thrills that will leave even the most jaded thriller aficionados gasping for breath.

Best if read after King of Swords, Night was written to provide background on El Rey, with the assumption that the reader is already familiar with the events in King of Swords.

COVER: Perfect. Just what I would expect. I can't decide, however, if I like this one or the blue paperback  cover with a different image and background best. I like how you see the profile of the target on this cover, but I like the background images on the blue one better.

FIRST CHAPTER: Sylvio Contreras is the number one warload in Sonora and the head of the Zapata cartel. He is celebrating his fiftieth birthday aboard his yacht, Contessa, docked in the harbor below the Grand Bay Hotel in Barra de Navidad.

Alberto, head of his security detail, is anxious that this quiet night will erupt into chaos. El Rey is sure to prove him right.

KEEP READING: I'm on the fence over this one. I like the premise of it. Though I didn't read King of Swords, the idea of getting inside the head of a ruthless killing machine made me want to give this one a whirl. Unfortunately, I got buried in a mound of details and backstory that made the opening of this thriller painfully slow. Everything from the weather to Contreras's background to security details and how El Rey carefully plans to carry out another spectacular and daring execution, make this a beefy first chapter. Perhaps if this chapter were seen solely from El Rey's point of view instead of it trying to encompass Alberto's concerns and the luxury of Contreras's life alongside El Rey's putting his plan into action, some of the details could have been avoided or, at bare minimum, used to show how the assassin used this information to his benefit. The first chapter is pages and pages of narrative, some of which I admittedly ended up skipping because I wanted to get to the action.

The next chapter brings the reader twenty-five years into the past. I want to give this book a bit more time before I make my final decision on whether to keep going because I really like the idea behind it.

File Size: 367 KB
Print Length: 181 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1480238279
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Reprobatio Ltd (August 19, 2012)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

I downloaded a free version of this book to my Kindle. This review contains my honest opinions, which I was not compensated for in any way.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

First Chapter Review: The Missing Element by John L. Betcher

I picked this book as a freebie for my Kindle back in 2012. Familiar with the author's work, I wanted to own more of it. This is the second book in his James Becker Series.

BLURB:  After decades of clandestine government operations, James "Beck" Becker and his wife Elizabeth return to Beck’s childhood home town to enjoy a settled retirement in the small Mississippi river community of Red Wing, Minnesota. But "settled" is a relative term and no matter where Beck goes, intrigue follows.

When Minneapolis computer genius, Katherine Whitson, disappears under peculiar circumstances, her husband exploits a sympathetic Red Wing acquaintance to encourage Beck’s aid in finding her.

As Beck searches for Katherine, the tangled trail leads from her luxury apartment in the Minneapolis Warehouse District, through her husband’s in-the-closet personal escapades, past the entrenched hierarchy of elite computer professionals, and into the mind-bending world inside computer microprocessors.

Katherine’s kidnapping is clearly more complicated than a typical abduction.

As it turns out, the Beckers must use all of their considerable experience – his, as a military intelligence operative; hers, as a CIA code-cracker – to save Katherine and bring her abductors to justice.

COVER: Though a tad too golden for me, it definitely speaks to the genre and the content of the novel. The font is a nice size and the red/burgundy text is a nice contrast.

FIRST CHAPTER: A middle-aged woman is awoken by a knock at her door. She hadn't expected the man on the other side that night, but she let him in. That was a mistake. Two thugs push their way in, and the last thing she remembers is the chemical-soaked cloth over her mouth and nose.

KEEP READING: Definitely. Betcher drops the reader right into the action and leaves you with a great cliffhanger. The opening chapter is perfect for a suspense thriller because it's concise, fills you with questions, and makes you eager to continue. It's interesting that the entire first chapter is narrative; not a line of dialogue. That worked well because it was short.

I'm a tiny bit irked that I don't know the name of anybody. All I know is a guy, who the woman obviously knows, showed up with a couple of thugs. Yes, that heightens the suspense, but I want to connect with my characters right away. Since these two seem like major players in the novel, I wanted to know their identity--even if I could guess who the woman was. That said, it's such a minor thing it didn't keep me from wanting to keep going.

File Size: 413 KB
Print Length: 273 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1469936909
Publisher: John L. Betcher; Second edition (March 8, 2010)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B003E3608G

I downloaded this book for free from Amazon. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Top Ten Books Set During the Civil War

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

In no particular order....