Friday, July 25, 2014

DJ Wilson - Ride to Redemption - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Righting another's wrong landed D in WITSEC, the witness protection program and cost him family, friends, and everything of substance in his life.

Loneliness is his constant companion until he meets Candi, the girl of his dreams. He and Candi embark on a three-week ride to redemption where they deal with mind-numbing deceit, perilous treachery, their overpowering lust for each other and their personal demons.

Nevertheless, new opportunities bring a chance to begin again. And, it doesn't hurt that he's got 200 pounds of illicit diamonds to use to ease the pain of those wronged. He will continue the redemption process by way of a well thought out plan involving a 5,000-mile adventure through the Western United States and Canada.

When D meets Candice, aka Candi, she captures his heart, mind and soul the instant she 'inadvertently' almost runs him down in the Starbucks drive-thru. Candi joins him on his three-week, two-wheeled ride to redemption, where they're forced to face their personal demons, while dealing with wanton lust, mind-numbing deceit and perilous treachery.

Spectacular scenery and a cast of unforgettable characters they meet along the way makes the journey memorable, but nothing prepares them for the sacrifices they must eventually make midway in the ride.

"The more things change, the more they stay the same," sadly, does not ring true for Candice and D throughout this first of a two part series. Lust and greed are forever game-changers, even for those who desperately seek redemption.



My Review

In the realm of romantic fiction, male authors are a rarity and when men do pen a romance, they tend to write from the woman's point of view. Not so with DJ Wilson. With his protagonist D, Wilson doesn't just dip his toe into the waters of eroticism, he jumps in with both feet. As a debut writer, he boldly dives into the territory of E L James and Sylvia Day, but instead he allows readers to experience these kinds of imagined scenarios from a guy's perspective.

It's a gutsy thing to do because Wilson is so honest in his portrayal of D. He holds nothing back. D isn't politically correct. He's full of locker room bravado. He's the type of guy who's going to brag about his conquests the morning after. D is all about the physical, even if he claims he wants something more substantial. Ultimately, he's after "someone who could see things through my eyes." And really, what man doesn't want that?

There's more than a hint of fantasy to Wilson's writing. D is looking for the perfect someone, the kind that doesn't exist. Reality is too messy and complicated for him to find a woman gift wrapped to his specifications. No matter how many fallen stars he wishes on, it's not going to happen. In fact, Wilson gives the usual preconceived notions a twist when it comes to gender expectations by having D say, "I'm not a toy to be played with, just to be discarded, when the fun runs out. Huff!!!! Sounds like a woman's complaint, I've heard too many times before. Go figure." The exultation of breath and the four exclamation points help drive the point home - both men and women want to be desired for more than their bodies, they want to be wanted for who they are.

There's a tension that exists in the narrative. D succumbs to Candi's charms because he likes that she's a good listener. He's had a slew of problems in recent years from marital to financial, and he's all about starting from scratch. D is crossing his fingers that Candi can be the key to his making a fresh start. He's lonely and looking for companionship, but the two of them end up spending more time fooling around than forging any type of lasting bond.

When it comes down to it, all relationships are about trust. If it's not there, it's not going to work, period. When details of Candi's background come to light, D is rocked to his core. He was starting to give his heart to this woman, and now he's in too deep to get out unscathed. In the beginning D said, "I silently wished that Candi could be a part of that hope I'd felt this morning and that we wouldn't end up as heartache later on."

As the first book in Wilson's series concludes, it looks like D is not going to get his wish. He's left reeling when Candi throws him a curveball, scratching his head at how these events could have transpired. He thought he knew her. He thought that even after she revealed all of her painful secrets, there weren't anymore shocking revelations to have to endure. Boy, was he wrong.

But not all is as it seems from D's vantage point. There's more going on than he's aware of. Wilson teases the reader into his newly released follow-up, creating a momentum to catapult the story forward. It's a trick of the trade to leave the reader wanting more, but in this case it's justified because it fully encapsulates the angst that D is feeling as the final chapter unfolds. Should he give Candi another chance? Should readers? If this ride is all about redemption, then Wilson's urging everyone to stay tuned, because it's not over yet.

***

Ride to Redemption can be purchased at:
Amazon, Smashwords

Prices/Formats: $3.99 ebook, $10.95 paperback
Pages: 282
Genre: Erotic Romance
Release: December 2, 2013
Publisher: Fideli Publishing
ISBN: 9781604147773
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Raised in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, I graduated from Cumberland University, located in a small town you've never heard just inside Kentucky quite a few years ago. At the present, we're living beside beautiful Dale Hollow Lake.

Blessed to travel, blessed with health, blessed with second chances, too numerous to list here.

As a blogger, featured on many sites, including the Huffington Post, I have been humbled beyond measure, more times than not, by all that life has thrown our way.

Successful, that's me, catastrophic failure, that's me too. We've been there, done that and have the life changing scars to prove it.

Our writings reflect life through the throes of heartache and loss, as well as through the joys redemption brings.

"Life is not waiting for the Storms to Pass, It's Learning to Dance in the Rain."

Links to connect with DJ:
Web Site
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ken Dalton - Brother, can you spare a dime? - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Bear’s planned afternoon of beer and baseball is interrupted by a phone call from a man he hardly remembers from their years at Elko High. So begins the tale of a cold-blooded murder and the theft of a dime worth two million dollars!

Faced with bi-coastal murder suspects, Pinky hands Bear, and Flo the sweaty task of tracking down one of the suspects along the hot, humid North Carolina shoreline while he chooses to pursue the other on the Kona coast of Hawaii. But Pinky, after imbibing too many Mai Tai’s with a bevy of sky-goddesses, and a moved-up court date, is forced to return to Carson City, sans suspect.

Bear and Flo hit pay dirt and with the identity of the killer in hand they fly across the Pacific Ocean to the smoggy Beijing airport where they meet Joe, the uncle of Pinky’s Chinese secretary. The enigmatic Joe quotes Confucius and Shakespeare as he purposefully guides the dynamic duo to their final destination— oxygen sparse Lhasa, Tibet.



Cliff hanger contest

Brother, can you spare a dime? ends with a prize winning cliff hanger that defies all logic.

Let Ken know how you would answer the question and he will choose the two answers he likes the best. Both winners will receive a complete paperback set of his Pinky and Bear mystery series.

The Bloody Birthright
The Big Show Stopper
Death is a Cabernet
The Tartan Shroud
Brother, can you spare a dime?


Five books, each one personally inscribed!

Email your cliff hanger answer to ken@kendalton.com and in a couple of months Ken will post the winners' names on his Facebook page.


My Review

Ken Dalton has created a sub-genre of fiction all his own—the comedic mystery. Murder isn't supposed to be funny, but somehow he makes it so. Not the act of killing per se, but more like the personalities of his two investigators, looking to piece it together. Flo and Bear are a trip. They're partners, not to mention lovers, who are just as adept at solving a crime as they are at fleecing their boss. Pinky, who they derogatorily call "the shrimp," serves as the straight man to their laugh-a-minute humor. He's the money hungry, sex crazed lawyer, who hires them mostly because he's afraid of them.

In this installment of Dalton's series, the clues they have seem pretty cut and dry. A successful rare coin dealer is shot in the head while sitting in his wheelchair. His brother stumbles across his body, walking through the blood, touching the gun and it's no big surprise when he's charged with the homicide. The twist is that his brother's two million dollar 1894 S dime is missing, and it doesn't help that his commercial real estate business could use just that amount to stave off impending bankruptcy.

But Pinky doesn't think he did it, and neither do Bear and Flo. So they backtrack the movements of the deceased, discovering that he talked to two other collectors about the dime at a recent coin show. They start with one then move on to the other as they begin to tighten the noose. But it's all lighthearted fun as the chase begins. Bear and Flo continually squeeze more funds out of Pinky to finance their expense account, and Pinky mutters and groans that he's going to be broke by the end of their quest. Their back and forth bickering is as hilarious as it is revelatory. With each expenditure request, Bear and Flo get closer and closer to nailing their target, and Pinky gets closer and closer to blowing his top.

Where do Bear and Flo finally end up? China. Dalton does an exemplary job of showing what it's like for two average American citizens, traveling in a Communist regime. The crowds. The oversight. The pollution. Money is important, but not as much as being connected to the right people. In China, it's not what you know, but who you know, and luckily a relative of a friend of theirs puts them on the inside track. They end up doing the impossible, finding one suspect hiding among a billion people, not an easy task to say the least.

Bear and Flo provide plenty of comic relief, but they're also intrepid, gritty investigators. Mystery fans will enjoy following them from lead to lead, as they work doggedly to bring the guilty to justice. Their chuckle inducing antics make them real and relatable, but their crime solving abilities are what make them second to none in the mystery department. Dalton gives armchair sleuths the best of both worlds in this refreshing duo, a twosome unlike any other they're bound to encounter.

***

Brother, can you spare a dime? can be purchased at:
Amazon, KenDalton.com (personalized inscription and free shipping)

Prices/Formats: $4.99 ebook, $14.95 paperback
Pages: 310
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Release: April 9, 2014
Publisher: Different Drummer Press
ISBN: 9780578140391
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Ken was born in 1938 at Hollywood Hospital. He grew up in Los Angeles with his parents, his older sister and younger brother.

In a turn of bad luck, the dreaded Polio virus attacked Ken at the age of five. By the age of sixteen, after eleven years of operations, therapy, and braces to mitigate the effects of Polio, Ken’s luck changed when he met the girl of his dreams. A few years later they married, produced three wonderful children, and settled into a happy life in Southern California.

In 1966, Ken and his family moved to the green hills of Sonoma County where they bought a home surrounded with apple trees.

Some time later, Ken, designed, built, and operated a small winery that produced award winning Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

Then, in a moment of madness, Ken began writing. His first article was published in Golf Illustrated. Many more golf articles followed in national and regional magazines including Golf Magazine and Fairways and Greens. Eventually Ken felt the urge to write his first novel.

Now, after the publication of The Bloody Birthright, The Big Show Stopper, Death is a Cabernet, and The Tartan Shroud, Ken has published his latest Pinky and Bear mystery, Brother, can you spare a dime?

Links to connect with Ken:
Web Site
Facebook
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


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Friday, July 11, 2014

Diane Daniels Manning - Almost Perfect - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

An old woman who has given up hope and a boy who believes the impossible wonder if life would be perfect at the Westminster Dog Show.

Seventy-year old Bess Rutledge has dreamed of winning the Westminster Dog Show all her life. Despite her decades-long career as one of America’s top Standard Poodle breeders, she has decided she’s too old to hold on to her foolish dream. She sells off all the dogs in her once famous kennel except for the aging champion McCreery and his mischievous, handsome son Breaker. Part of her senses they might have been the ones to take her to Westminster, if only she’d dared to try.

Bess meets Benny, a teenager with mild autism who attends a therapeutic special school, and learns he has a dream of his own: to impress his self-absorbed mother. Benny is drawn into the world of dog shows and becomes convinced he has found the perfect way to win his mother’s attention. If he can win Westminster with either McCreery or Breaker, he just knows she will finally be proud of him. Getting Bess to go along with his plan, however, is not going to be so easy. . .

Up to 100% of the author’s profits will be donated to charities serving animals and children.



Video Trailer




My Review

Some authors just know how to set the pace. Diane Daniels Manning is one of them. The short, zippy chapters of her dog-centeric novel ALMOST PERFECT move faster than a pup's tail when begging for a treat. This is a plus for a story that covers a lot of ground. Bess goes from a standard poodle breeder convinced that she just whelped her last litter to letting Benny, her precocious neighbor, keep her in the game as he persistently moves her closer and closer to the world's most prestigious dog show.

Benny is the ying to Bess's yang. He's a year away from high school, but he's different from other kids his age. On account of his autism, he finds he can relate better to dogs than he can to people. Turns out, Bess feels the same way. They're both on the recalcitrant side. They drive the people around them up a wall, including each other, but somehow they find a way to work together. Bess knows that Benny loves her dogs just as much as she does, and that goes a long way in strengthening their reluctant friendship into a lifelong bond.

They've both screwed up, and they've both let people down. It's hard for Bess to show love. She keeps everyone at arm's length from her son to her twin sister. She has a difficult time letting people in, so instead she puts all of her focus on her dogs. She's stacked up blue ribbons and trophy cups over the years, but she's also pushed away all of the people who care about her the most.

Benny has the opposite problem. He's hungry for affection, chasing after his mother's approval. After his parents' divorce, his father became his primary caregiver. However, he always saw Benny following in his footsteps and one day joining him in his law practice. After Benny's diagnosis, it became apparent that that isn't going to happen, and he never got over the disappointment, secretly wishing that somehow Benny might be able to turn it around and be normal. His mother, on the other hand, looks at Benny more like a meal ticket rather than a young boy starving for her attention. She doesn't care that her son's overweight or that the head therapist at his special school is worried about his progress. The only thing that makes her smile is when Benny steals money out of his father's wallet, providing them with the means to go to an all-you-can-eat buffet. Sad, but true.

But it's the two dogs in their lives that get Bess and Benny to where they need to be. McCreery, the pride of Bess's career, and his young son, Breaker, help them get their priorities straight. They give them a common goal, winning a championship, but they do more than that, reminding them that while dogs are pretty great, people matter, too. Win or lose, they each learn a valuable lesson - dogs have the power to bring people together, and keep them together. A lesson neither of these two loners ever thought they'd be able to learn, much less embrace.

***

Almost Perfect can be purchased at:
Amazon

Prices/Formats: $3.99 ebook, $8.99 paperback
Pages: 330
Genre: Pet Fiction
Release: January 29, 2014
Publisher: Beltor
ISBN: 9780578136394
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Diane Daniels Manning is the co-founder and director of The New School in the Heights, a therapeutic school in Houston, Texas which helps children dealing with social-emotional challenges find success in school and life. She has a Ph.D. in Education and a post-doctoral M.P.H from Harvard and is a practicing child psychoanalyst certified by the American Psychoanalytic Association. Formerly, she was the Director of the Reading and Learning Disabilities Clinic at Tufts University, Lecturer and Research Associate in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Harvard, and Chair of the Department of Education at Tulane University. She learned the inner workings of dog show kennels by writing an authorized oral history of a lifetime President of the Poodle of Club of America. Her writing awards include the Faulkner-Wisdom Novella Prize and the Women in Film and Television Short Script Competition.

Links to connect with Diane:
Web Site
Facebook
Goodreads
Blog
YouTube
Blog Tour Site


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Friday, June 27, 2014

Michael J. Bowler - Running Through a Dark Place - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

King Arthur and his extraordinary young Knights used ‘might’ for ‘right’ to create a new Camelot in the City of Angels. They rallied the populace around their cause, while simultaneously putting the detached politicians in check. But now they must move forward to even greater heights, despite what appears to be an insurmountable tragedy.

Their new goal is lofty: give equality to kids fourteen and older who are presently considered adults only when they break the law. Arthur’s crusade seeks to give them real rights such as voting, driving, trading high school for work, and sitting as jurors for their peers charged with criminal behavior.

Understanding that the adults of California will likely be against them, Arthur and his Knights must determine how best to win them over.

However, before the king can even contemplate these matters, he finds himself face to face with an ally from the past, one who proves that everything isn’t always what it seems – even life and death.

The Knight Cycle Continues…


My Review

Heart. That's what fills the writings of Michael J. Bowler. Love, empathy, a warm embrace of humanity, together equals a special kind of goodness that flows through his pages. To be blunt, if you don't like to feel, then don't read his work. But if you're okay with getting emotional, he has the ability to tug at your heartstrings like no one else can.

This unique quality is most apparent in the character of John, an eleven-year-old boy dying of cancer who uses his Make-A-Wish to meet Lance, the lynchpin to King Arthur's return to glory in twenty-first century Los Angeles. Yes, this is a fantasy novel, but the realistic way it's written makes it fascinatingly believable. Lance is everything that John wants to be, but since he's living on borrowed time, he'll sadly never make it out of childhood to follow Lance on his crusade.

But Lance has a lot of pressure on his young shoulders. He's only a teen himself, yet kids look up to him as some sort of role model, admiring how he stands up for their rights against the authority figures in their lives, everyone from government officials to teachers to parents. Under King Arthur's guidance, all Lance wants is to give kids an equal voice in determining their futures, changing laws and putting them on a even playing field with adults.

Of course, this causes a social uproar, creating a new battlefront when it comes to ageism, that pits young against old. Lance is treading on ground that hasn't been crossed before. Those in power don't want to give it up, and those that don't have it are going to rally behind Lance until they get it, collecting signatures and staging nonviolent sit-ins, refusing to talk to adults until they sign a petition that would give all those fourteen and over the right to vote.

John knows that he probably won't live to see Lance's initiatives pass, but he's determined to thank him in person, especially when Lance is caught in a compromising position on camera, creating a serious public relations gaffe. Some people turn on Lance, mocking him for being a hypocrite and for hurting the cause, but not John. He stands by his hero, sending him words of encouragement while others mercilessly rip him apart online.

When John finally arrives at the new Camelot, Lance's trampled spirits are buoyed by the boy's sense of optimism and hope. Lance finds the boy's attitude so contagious, he surprises John with a last minute knighting ceremony, making the dying boy's unspoken wish come true, taking it upon himself to reward John for his unwavering loyalty. Lance makes John one of them, inducting him into the brotherhood he admired so much from afar.

When John struggles to his feet and holds a sword aloft, it's easily the most emotional moment in the book. His faith in Lance, reenergizes his idol, giving him a fresh perspective on just how precious life is, making Lance renew his vow not to take a second of it for granted. John's purity of heart reminds Lance that life is a gift and should not be treated lightly. Lance might be the esteemed leader that everyone looks up to, but John is the one who is able to steer him back on course.

The interaction between the two is just a snippet of the entire book, yet it speaks volumes to the type of author Bowler is and the distinctive young adult characters he so lovingly creates.

***

Running Through a Dark Place can be purchased at:
Amazon

Prices/Formats: $4.99 ebook, $15.95 paperback
Pages: 388
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Release: May 12, 2014
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9780990306306
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of three novels - A Boy and His Dragon, A Matter of Time, and Children of the Knight - who grew up in San Rafael, California.

He majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara University and earned a master’s in film production from Loyola Marymount University, a teaching credential in English from LMU, and another master's in Special Education from Cal State University Dominguez Hills.

He partnered with two friends as producer, writer, and/or director on several ultra-low-budget horror films, including “Fatal Images,” “Club Dead,” and “Things II,” the reviews of which are much more fun than the actual movies.

He taught high school in Hawthorne, California for twenty-five years, both in general education and to students with learning disabilities, in subjects ranging from English and Strength Training to Algebra, Biology, and Yearbook.

He has also been a volunteer Big Brother to seven different boys with the Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a thirty-year volunteer within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles. He is a passionate advocate for the fair treatment of children and teens in California, something that is sorely lacking in this state. He has been honored as Probation Volunteer of the Year, YMCA Volunteer of the Year, California Big Brother of the Year, and 2000 National Big Brother of the Year. The “National” honor allowed he and three of his Little Brothers to visit the White House and meet the president in the Oval Office.

He has already written the four continuations of Children of the Knight that complete The Knight Cycle and all will be released in 2014.

He is currently at work on a new novel.

Links to connect with Michael:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog
Tumblr
Freado
Blog Tour Site


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Monday, June 23, 2014

Brian G. Michaud - The Road to Nyn - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

In a land where magic is outlawed, a young boy is living a double life. Although Kay is training to be a knight, he has been secretly studying the forbidden ways of magic with Alamin, a powerful but eccentric wizard.

After passing of the Trial of the Rings and being raised to squirehood, Kay has decided to tell Alamin that he is going to leave his magical studies behind. And why not? Kay hasn’t ever cast a spell without something going seriously wrong–like the random appearance of frogs or hungry wolves–besides, Kay could be banished from the kingdom just for associating with Alamin.

Kay’s plans are quickly obliterated when a horde of goblins attacks his village and captures his family and friends. Now, with his home lying in ruins, everything has changed. Along with Alamin and Felix, a self-serving kleptomaniac sprite, Kay embarks on an adventure that takes him across the Kingdom of Gaspar and into the dark and treacherous caves of the Goblin Realm. What Kay doesn’t realize is that his journey is leading him on a collision course with the Lord of Nyn – a being so powerful that none dare face him...not even Alamin himself!


My Review

The Sword of the Dragon's Flame can slaughter any foe. The Gauntlets of Might imbue the wearer with indomitable strength. The Helm of Truth reads the thoughts of friend and enemy alike. Ancient magical artifacts that according to lore are the only things that can defeat the Lord of Nyn. But not just anyone can use them. Prophecy states that it must be a young boy who is the embodiment of goodness. Everything he does must be for the cause of justice, or his mission will fail, and evil will triumph over the light for generations to come.

It's an awful lot to ask of a newly christened squire, but Kay is no ordinary boy. Magic flows through his veins, even if he doesn't know how to properly channel it just yet. He's a work in progress in more ways than one. But the grizzled wizard, Alamin, knows that ready or not, his protege is going to be put to the test. Time waits for no one. Goblins are advancing upon human settlements, plundering village after village in the kingdom of Gaspar. Someone must rise to challenge this spread of murder and destruction, and Kay's the one destiny has appointed as mankind's champion.

Michaud weaves a tale full of elements that are staples in the fantasy genre from Latin-esque spells reminiscent of HARRY POTTER to a kingdom besieged by internal politics a la GAME OF THRONES. Yet he doesn't get too deep or graphic in his storytelling. He approaches things with a gentle hand. Sure, there are fire-breathing dragons and bridges made of human bones, but he never crosses the line into anything gratuitous or grotesque. Michaud tastefully handles the level of violence and gore, making it appropriate material for readers of all ages.

There's the humorous sidekick for levity. The feisty girl for romance. The no good ruler's son as a rival. It has all the ingredients required for those who like a little make-believe when it comes to action and adventure. Michaud delves into the handbook of the masters from the Brothers Grimm to Aesop and comes up with something all his own.

Part morality tale, part Hollywood blockbuster, THE ROAD TO NYN is a road fantasy lovers will want to travel.

***

The Road to Nyn can be purchased at:
Amazon

Prices/Formats: $0.99 ebook, $8.99 paperback
Pages: 266
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Release: November 2013
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9781493545551
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Brian G. Michaud lives in a small town in Massachusetts with his wife, Kim. When he is not reading or writing books, he can be found teaching music at a local elementary school or rocking out on guitar with the band, Too Loud.

Links to connect with Brian:
Web Site
Facebook (author)
Facebook (book)
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


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