Friday, December 12, 2014

Cristelle Comby - Danse Macabre - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Private investigators Alexandra Neve and Ashford Egan are hired to succeed where the police have failed, to safely return home a missing ballerina. With no lead to pursue and no idea who could be behind the young woman’s kidnapping, they soon find themselves at a loss as to what to do.

To make matters worse, the heart of England seems to be caught in the middle of a little Ice Age. With snow endlessly falling and Tube lines either too cramped up to use or out of service, it is a pain to do any legwork in the huge metropolis.

Oh, and because trouble never comes alone, there may also be a serial killer on the loose in the streets of East London...


My Review

"I will always come and find you."

That's Alexandra Neve's promise—to her blind investigating partner whenever he gets in trouble, to the kidnapped women she hopes to rescue, to the serial killer she has in her crosshairs. Yet, her doggedness turns her into a magnet for danger. Her life is threatened on more than one occasion, but she channels her fear, using it to fuel her passion for her life's work because once she's involved in a case, she can't stop until she solves it. It drives her, consumes her. She views her job like a chess game, making strategic moves against an invisible opponent, one who's determined to win at all costs.

But she has one weakness—the well being of her fellow investigator, Ashford Egan. He knew he was going to lose his sight before it happened, but he still wasn't prepared for how alone it would make him feel. His mother was more concerned about finding an impossible cure than in helping him adjust to his condition. His father retreated into his work and virtually turned his back on him, so Ashford was left with no one, until Alexandra entered his life, changing it forever. She was his student at University College London and together they left academia and embarked on this new endeavor together, opening their own private eye agency.

Now they're hunting a murderer who turns his victims into puppets made of flesh and bone, the horrid tableaus at the crime scenes eliciting nothing but wretched disgust in those unfortunate to witness them. Young girls are being mutilated for no reason—talented girls who excel in the performing arts from choir soloists and concert pianists to prima ballerinas and reality show singers. The killer's after something in particular, Alexandra and Ashford just aren't sure what.

But there's one thing standing in their way—"the curse of the uniform." Detective Matthew Stenson of London's Metropolitan Police Force is more than a little interested in Alexandra. He helps them with the case, putting his job in jeopardy as he becomes more and more disillusioned with the blatant corruption in his department. Ashford doesn't get in the way of their burgeoning relationship, but it's worth noting that Alexandra spends the majority of her time with her partner and not with her copper boyfriend. She teases Ashford about being 'Mr. No Social Life' but she's just as guilty when it comes to not making room in her life for romance. She'd rather work a case with Ashford than risk being stood up on dates that Stenson keeps canceling.

While it's hard to schedule alone time with Stenson, Alexandra has no problem getting through to Ashford. She's able to look past his anger, hurt and pain and really listen to him, knowing that what he's really trying to say is, "Don't leave me." Ashford doesn't want Alexandra to "mother-hen him," viewing him as a child in constant need of her help and attention, yet somehow she always seems to know exactly what he needs from her, clearly making him her number one priority.

Their friendship is heartfelt, yet humorous. When they climb down a ladder and into the tube system, she tells him to stop looking at her bum, even though he certainly can't see it. When she guides him through tight quarters placing his hands on her hips, the moment is likened to their dancing in a conga line. She helps him unzip his coat and he ribs her about always wanting to undress him. She gets back at him by encouraging him to order a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey in Braille, even though he has no clue what the book's about. They ease the high stakes tension by joking around with each other, but there's more to it than that. When they're interrogating a witness and Ashford clenches his fist, he relaxes only at Alexandra's touch. After his apartment is burglarized and he's alone and bleeding, the first person he calls is Alexandra, and she drops everything to come to his aid.

Clearly, they're two parts of the same whole, but sometimes Alexandra questions if their laid back approach is getting in the way of the job. She kicks herself when they miss the killer by mere minutes and instead discover the body of yet another victim. She regrets taking so many breaks, feeling like they're not taking the case seriously enough, thinking they're capable of doing more. But when Ashford's eyes glaze over and become as dead as those of the victim they were too late to save, she knows something's wrong, and that she needs to slow down, pull back and be there for him. They're both dealing with a lot, but Alexandra knows that Ashford comes first, and always will, because that's what she promised him, and she never goes back on her promises.

***

Danse Macabre can be purchased at:
Amazon

Prices/Formats: $2.99 ebook, $11.99 paperback
Pages: 254
Genre: New Adult, Detective Mystery
Release: October 2014
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9781502723772
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Cristelle Comby was born and raised in the French-speaking area of Switzerland, in Greater Geneva, where she still resides.

Thanks to her insatiable thirst for American and British action films and television dramas, her English is fluent.

She attributes to her origins her ever-peaceful nature and her undying love for chocolate. She has a passion for art, which also includes an interest in drawing and acting.

Danse Macabre is her third new-adult novel, and she’s hard at work on the next titles in the Neve & Egan series.

Links to connect with Cristelle:
Web Site
Twitter
Goodreads
Instagram
Blog Tour Site


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Monday, December 8, 2014

Michael J. Bowler - Once Upon a Time in America - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

With Lance leading the way, the Knights of the Round Table have set out to convince the American people that amending the Constitution to protect children is right and just and long overdue. As the team travels from state to state, they are met with acceptance, indifference, and even hostility. But Lance’s popularity and mystique as The Boy Who Came Back, coupled with his innate charm, gradually sway more and more of the populace, not to mention state legislators, to their cause.

The journey becomes a rite of passage that propels the young people into adulthood, and solidifies Lance’s status as an iconic and influential figure.

But he’s uneasy. He knows Arthur is hiding something from him, something that will bring him great sadness. After The Excalibur Incident in Las Vegas, Lance becomes more and more certain that the future is one he won’t like, despite his stunning success at winning over some of the most intractable states.

Then comes the attack, sudden and brutal.

Now the Round Table is in disarray, and Lance must confront a cold-blooded killer who’s luring him into an obvious trap. But if he refuses the challenge, more loved ones will die, and everything he’s fought for will die with them. Surrounded by the diverse young knights who have become his family, Lance sets out to battle his enemy with the knowledge deep in his heart that only one of them will survive. Is this the end of the Round Table?

The Knight Cycle concludes…


My Review

Self absorption—the danger of living in a world full of Facebook status updates, Instagram selfies and tweet after tweet about me, myself and I.

Lance Pendragon knows a little something about that—being the most famous boy in the world and the adopted son of the legendary King Arthur—but he takes a different path. He doesn't use his notoriety to promote himself, instead he works to obtain social justice for others, seeking to give all American children their own Bill of Rights. However, he's not just about lobbying Congressmen or schmoozing with the President, Lance relishes mingling with the ordinary people he meets along the campaign trail from chain restaurants to hotel lobbies, passing out New Camelot stickers and bobbleheads to the eager, young fans who cross his path, inspiring them by the good example he sets.

Lance's popularity stems from the public latching on to him as the figurehead they're so desperately seeking in this day and age. Even his fellow knights look up to him, urging him to keep walking the straight and narrow, one of them begging him, "You're too good, Lance. I need you to stay that way. Please." Lance is the role model people are craving, a person they can genuinely admire. Yet their devotion requires that he "stay pure and unsullied…to be a hero." By taking up the mantle, Lance agrees to a sort of death to self when he responds to their plea of, "You're our king. There's no you anymore. There's only us."

Lance's purpose in life is no longer about individual accolades, it's about advancing the greater good. Author Michael J. Bowler makes an excellent case in comparing the knights' group effort toward bettering the community versus personal academic achievement. Bowler makes the argument that "[the knights] accomplished so much more than winning a scholarship because [their] deeds were aimed at helping others, not [themselves]." He theorizes that students don't want to be limited to spitting out memorized facts on standardized tests simply to get into a good college, they want to be challenged in the classroom and outside of it.

Arthur's followers shoulder each other's burdens, and share each other's pain. They are teenagers dealing with a lot of outside pressures amid a slew of temptations that could easily get them in trouble. Arthur teaches them to be there for each other and to lighten the personal struggles that each and every one of them is dealing with. Lance and Dakota are recovering alcoholics and they watch out for each other, making sure they don't fall off the wagon when things get tough. That sense of camaraderie is what binds the knights together and makes them strong. They can only "carry the world" when they lift up each other.

This selflessness in action is the way Lance looks out for his younger adopted brother, Chris. Lance will never put his own needs above those of his little brother. He doesn't shirk his duty, instead he gladly takes on the responsibility. Lance always puts Chris first. In the final pages of the book, Lance has a choice. He can either gratify his own desires, or he could be there for Chris at a time when his little brother needs him the most. What Lance does provides a telling glimpse into the character of the man he's become on this crusade.

Bowler's much anticipated conclusion is bittersweet, yet full of resonance. There's a scene where all of the characters get to let loose and enjoy each other's company, after making it through quite a harrowing ordeal in Washington, D.C. Bowler describes it thus: "At times like this with everyone just having fun, we're all exactly what God had in mind when he made us—human." It's a fitting sentiment for saying goodbye to these characters, and getting a chance to see them happy and fulfilled. Bowler drives home that time is fleeting and only one thing matters—the people who fill up the days and hours of a person's life. As King Arthur shares with Lance, "You have been the greatest gift I ever received, and you will live on in my heart for eternity." Bowler succeeds in heralding how love endures when a person's heart is truly given to another, expecting nothing in return, through the compelling guise of Camelot.

***

Once Upon a Time in America can be purchased at:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Prices/Formats: $4.99 ebook, $14.95 paperback
Pages: 328
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Release: November 12, 2014
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9780990871101
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of seven novels––A Boy and His Dragon, A Matter of Time (Silver Medalist from Reader’s Favorite), and The Knight Cycle, comprised of five books: Children of the Knight (Gold Award Winner in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards), Running Through A Dark Place, There Is No Fear, And The Children Shall Lead, and Once Upon A Time In America.

His horror screenplay, “Healer,” was a Semi-Finalist, and his urban fantasy script, “Like A Hero,” was a Finalist in the Shriekfest Film Festival and Screenplay Competition.

He grew up in San Rafael, California, and majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara University. He went on to earn 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 eight 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 is currently at work on a horror/suspense novel based on his screenplay, “Healer.”

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


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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Michael J. Bowler - And The Children Shall Lead - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

The campaign to save California’s children was only the beginning. Now King Arthur and his Round Table of teenaged knights set their sights on fixing something even bigger – the entire country. How? By targeting America’s most sacred document – The Constitution.

Native American teens Kai and Dakota, despite harboring secrets of their own, join the team, and swear undying loyalty to Lance. They carry the hope of their people that the crusade will better the lives of Indian children, who are the most neglected by government. This new campaign will take the young people to The White House, the halls of Congress, and beyond in their quest to change the prevailing opinion that children are property, rather than human beings in their own right.

But an unseen nemesis stalks Lance and Arthur, and ratchets up the attacks on New Camelot, promising to kill them and destroy all that the king has put in place. Lance, Ricky, Kai, and Dakota become the enemy’s favorite targets, and barely escape with their lives on more than one occasion. Who is this mysterious stalker, and what is the motive for these attacks? Lance has no idea, especially since he’s never intentionally hurt anyone.

“You were right, little boy, death is coming for you, but slowly, and only after it takes out the people you love.” That chilling promise haunts Lance, but also strengthens his determination to protect the people he loves at all costs. Or die trying.

The Knight Cycle Continues…


My Review

There's something to be said about a continuing series with a revolving cast of characters.

It never gets old.

It always stays fresh.

That's what makes Michael J. Bowler's THE KNIGHT CYCLE—an anthology of five, full length, YA novels—something truly special.

As a modern day version of King Arthur's Round Table, teenage knights come and go—literally live and die—but the heart of the story remains the same. The saga revolves around the plight of Lance and his journey into adulthood, but it's so much more than that. It's about the people he meets along the way, and how they shape his perspective on what it means to lead such a diverse group of individuals.

This time around, Lance is introduced to two Native American boys, Dakota and Kai, when they crash New Camelot's Thanksgiving dinner. They turn up unexpectedly after leaving the reservation determined to let Lance know how their rights are being violated, hoping he can help them put an end to the rampant pattern of abuse afflicting their people. Children are being taken away by the government and sold to white families. Non-native adults are committing heinous criminal acts against native children, but under current law are unable to be prosecuted under their jurisdiction. And that's just the tip of the iceberg, without even bringing into question the lack of internet access to the outside world, the flagrant alcoholism pandemic to Native culture and the lack of opportunities available to young men like Dakota and Kai once they reach the age of eighteen.

And the two new recruits couldn't be more different, personality wise.

Dakota is dubbed 'Sir Cloudy Boy' because of his recalcitrant attitude. He doesn't talk much and he often keeps to himself. He's harboring a lot of guilt for the mistakes he made in his past which caused him to become estranged from his mother. He wants above all else to be known as a warrior, someone who's dependable and strong, but he's going through quite an identity crisis in terms of the person he is on the inside versus the image he's trying to project to the outside world. He doesn't think the two match up and it's causing him a lot of grief because he can find no peace due to the inner turmoil raging inside of him.

Kai is affectionally knighted as 'Sir Laughs A Lot' because of his sunny, lighthearted disposition. He's the raging optimist to Dakota's gloomy pessimist. But he's not simply a one-dimensional contrast to Dakota's more developed backstory, he's the shining example of a boy with a healthy, positive self-image. He's okay with himself, and he's not afraid to show it. While Dakota grapples with his identity as a man, Kai does not come across nearly as tortured. He comes of age with grace and dignity without making it into the painful, agonizing process that Dakota puts himself through.

In a way, they're echoes of Lance and Ricky, the emo boy versus the tenderhearted guy. Lance battles his problem with alcohol addiction, as does Dakota, whenever they're in danger of reliving past trauma. Ricky and Kai play more of a supporting role to these troubled youth, but only because they've faced the same demons themselves and have come out better and stronger on the other side. They teach Lance and Dakota that love can light their way out of the darkness too. They don't have to let their pasts define them.

Bowler does a commendable job of weaving these new faces into his ongoing narrative thread. He's not a fan of labels but he broadens the scope of his story by branching out to all different races and nationalities, encompassing everybody as the story goes on. All ethnic groups, ages and genders are represented from Latinos (Lance, Ricky and Esteban) to Native Americans (Dakota and Kai) to African Americans (Justin and Brooks) to Asians (Techie) to Caucasians (Chris) to women (Reyna and Jenny) to middle age and older (Arthur and Merlin). Bowler leaves no one out. Anyone who picks up this series will be able to relate to one or more of the characters. They're all human, and they all make mistakes, but they do so together, as a unit, as a family, and that's what makes Bowler's take on adolescent angst stand out from all the rest—it's inclusive. Everyone's welcome at the Round Table.

***

And The Children Shall Lead can be purchased at:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Prices/Formats: $4.99 ebook, $14.95 paperback
Pages: 302
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Release: September 25, 2014
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9780990306368
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of seven novels––A Boy and His Dragon, A Matter of Time (Silver Medalist from Reader’s Favorite), and The Knight Cycle, comprised of five books: Children of the Knight (Gold Award Winner in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards), Running Through A Dark Place, There Is No Fear, And The Children Shall Lead, and Once Upon A Time In America.

His horror screenplay, “Healer,” was a Semi-Finalist, and his urban fantasy script, “Like A Hero,” was a Finalist in the Shriekfest Film Festival and Screenplay Competition.

He grew up in San Rafael, California, and majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara University. He went on to earn 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 eight 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 is currently at work on a horror/suspense novel based on his screenplay, “Healer.”

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


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Friday, October 24, 2014

DJ Wilson - Ride to Restoration - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

In this second book, D learns that paying it forward is not without costs, toss in Candi Parker, the girl of D’s dreams gone rogue, along with vivacious Victoria Lawson, attorney at law, who willingly steps in to fill Candi’s thong, and D’s hilarious misadventures continue across Canada. Reality sets in and the bullets begin to fly just two days after he returns to the states.

D sends Victoria away to keep her out of harm’s way, before tackling his real life demons, aka A.J. Standford, the Ponzi scheming banker who has a bounty on D’s head, and Candi’s extended family, the Gambinos, who will profit from his demise.

The romantic side of the story poses multiple questions: Will D settle for Victoria after being royally screwed by Candi or will his feelings for Candi propel him back into her life and the crime family’s ongoing chaos? Will Candi take back her sleazy ex-husband Joseph or will she somehow manage to break with her powerful family and come crawling back to D’s loving arms?

With all of this going on, there’s bound to be hell to pay sooner rather than later. Like momma always said, “When you play with fire, you’re gonna get burned.”



My Review

There are many words of wisdom scattered throughout DJ Wilson's RIDE TO RESTORATION.

"Choose substance over style."

"To have a friend, you have to be a friend."

"The newness is gone along with the thrill of the chase."

"Our lives reflect the decisions we make."

"Look beyond that which disappoints you."

"Our minds are constantly at war with our past."

"Circumstances change, forcing people to change."

These little tidbits are meaningful in of themselves, but they combine to form a powerful whole. Wilson has a deft touch for infusing his fiction with life lessons that can benefit anyone. No matter where a person's at in life, they resonate beneath the surface of the story, making it that much richer.

Sure, the novel revolves around D and the women on the back of his motorcycle, but as a character he's also a biker philosopher, a deep thinker endlessly searching for inner peace and unconditional love. He's made a lot mistakes, having to start over one too many times, making him feel like he's alone in the world, drifting along in a sea of users and hypocrites.

But it doesn't dim his optimism any. He still believes in doing the right thing and championing people in need from terminally ill children to emotionally scarred war vets. He has an overwhelming desire to make the world a better place. Oftentimes, he gets frustrated when the people around him don't live up to their potential. He gives a lot because he expects a lot in return, not in terms of a monetary value or material goods, but an exchange of the heart, a union of spirits.

That Woodstock feel good mentality extends to everyone D comes in contact with. He may be naive. He may often get duped, but he's willing to give people a chance, no matter how many times he gets burned. His ex-wife leaves him after twenty plus years of marriage. His new girlfriend steals from him and takes off. He can be a bit of a sap when it comes to women, but it doesn't stop him from reaching out to members of the female variety who happen to catch his eye. He always goes in to each new relationship with the hope that maybe this time, this one will be the one for him, that kindred spirit he's been dreaming of.

His fortune cookie style of wisdom is simply stated, but it's backed by hard won experience. He's well aware of what it's like to end up on the short end of the stick, and he'd never knowingly do that to someone else. He wants to give everyone a fair shake, considering it his sacred duty as a human being. Of course, if a person dares to cross him by endangering someone he cares about, then all bets are off. He'll defend those he loves tooth and nail, right to the end, his loyalty knowing no bounds.

D's a lover and a fighter, but that's what makes him interesting. He tries to reconcile the two sides of himself and make them into a solid individual, but at times he struggles living up to the image he has of himself, breaking down at unexpected moments when he starts to lament his past. It's only when he sets his mind firmly on the future that he's able to move past his feelings of unworthiness and rejection and grab life by the handlebars. As a biker, forward motion is where he's most comfortable, when he forgets to look in the rearview mirror and focuses solely on the road ahead.

It's no wonder his signature line is, "Let's ride!"

***

Ride to Restoration can be purchased at:
Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Google Play

Prices/Formats: $4.99 ebook, $11.95 paperback
Pages: 318
Genre: Erotic Romance
Release: July 16, 2014
Publisher: Riscatto Publishing
ISBN: 9781604148022
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


FREE ebook download 
of book one of this series

Smashwords Promo Code: MU83Y
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/458463
expires 10/24/14








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, October 8, 2014

Richard H. Hardy - The Infinity Program - Author Interview & Giveaway



About the Book

Jon Graeme and Harry Sale are unlikely friends. Harry is a world-class programmer, but his abrasive personality alienates co-workers. In contrast, Jon is a handsome and easy-going technical writer, the low man on the IT totem pole.

Sharing a love of nature, the men set out together, planning to go their separate ways--Jon on a hike and Harry, fly fishing. Three days later, Jon arrives at the rendezvous point, but his friend is nowhere in sight. When Jon finds Harry unconscious on the floor of a cave, Harry claims to have been lying there the entire time. But he is neither cold nor hungry. What Jon doesn't know is that Harry fell into an underground cavern, where he came into contact with an alien quantum computer.

Back at work, Harry jettisons his regular tasks and concentrates exclusively on inventing new operating language to access the alien system. In the process he crashes his office's Super Computer and is fired. Jon convinces the company to give Harry a second chance, arguing that the system he has invented will make them millions.

Jon has no idea what havoc Harry is about to unleash.


Author Interview

1. How did you come up with the title?
I’ve never been very good at coming up with titles, but in the case of The Infinity Program I was lucky. While I was working on the book one morning, the title came to me out of thin air in a line of dialogue. When I write dialogue, it’s almost like I stop being me and become the character who is talking. My lead character used the phrase “infinity program” and as soon as I re-read the draft, I realized I had my title.



2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
My main goal in writing The Infinity Program was to write an entertaining book. But there is a message behind the fun: We must be better caretakers of our world or all that we love and cherish will be in jeopardy.



3. How much of the book is realistic?
I tried hard to create a realistic setting. Part of it was created out of my own work experience but most of it came from stories told to me by people who had previously worked for much larger companies. I must confess too that a lot of it was purely imaginative.


4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
If I could re-write the book at this point, I think I would re-work the love triangle in the book. I think there were many possibilities that I could have developed more completely.



5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I always have trouble with the middle section of a book. When you get to the mid-point of a novel, it seems like so many different directions are possible. It’s almost like moving through a labyrinth. There is always the fear that you will take a wrong turn and end up totally lost. I had to do a lot of re-writing to get the middle section right.

6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I think the most important thing I learned is that problems can only be solved one scene at a time. If you try to work out every detail in advance, you end up locking yourself in a box. A corollary of this is persistence. I learned to stay with a problem and solve it before I moved on. A programmer/analyst once told me that making a programming mistake was like taking a wrong turn on a highway. If you catch the wrong turn immediately, then you can get back to where you want to go. But if you take a wrong turn and then make a second wrong turn, you can end up hopelessly lost.



7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I was a big reader from a young age and even wrote a few stories. But I never thought of myself as a writer until I read a short story by Thomas Wolfe called Gulliver. It was a story about an exceedingly tall man and the difficulties he faced because of his height. At the time, I was 14 years old and over 6’4” tall. I was blown away with how a fictional story could get so directly to the truth of an experience. I decided then and there that I wanted to be a writer.



8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
This is really difficult question because I love so many books. But the book that had the biggest impact on me was Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann. When I finished this book I turned back to the first page and read it over a second time. I recently purchased the new translation by John Woods and am looking forward to reading it again. I love all the different levels of meaning in the book. I found the main character, the composer Adrian Leverkuhn, absolutely fascinating.



9. Tell us your latest news.
My latest news is that The Infinity Program is now available on Apple’s Itunes.

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
A writer is nothing without a reader. My sincerest thanks to all the readers out there!


***

The Infinity Program can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Smashwords
iBooks
Kobo

Prices/Formats: $5.95 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Pages: 250
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance
Release: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603819336
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Richard H. Hardy was born in Glasgow, Scotland, during a week of relentless bombing raids just before the close of World War II. The day he was born an incendiary bomb fell on the church across the street from where he lived, so he is fond of saying that he entered the world with a big adrenaline rush.

His family later moved to England and then on to America.

After college Richard bounced through a series of temporary jobs as he traveled around the country, wanting nothing more than to write fiction. A job driving a library van allowed him free time to write several short stories and work on a novel.

He and his wife moved to New Hampshire, where he took an entry level job at a software company. He was soon promoted to the technical writing department and ended up producing over 500,000 words of online documentation. After a few years he was promoted to the programming department and ended up as the Senior EDI Programmer, creating EDI maps and writing UNIX scripts and troubleshooting on AIX systems throughout the U.S. and Canada.

After he retired, he started writing fiction again. The Infinity Program is his first published novel.

Links to connect with Richard:
Web Site
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


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Friday, September 19, 2014

Mia Kerick - The Red Sheet - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

One October morning, high school junior Bryan Dennison wakes up a different person—helpful, generous, and chivalrous—a person whose new admirable qualities he doesn’t recognize. Stranger still is the urge to tie a red sheet around his neck like a cape. Bryan soon realizes this compulsion to wear a red cape is accompanied by more unusual behavior. He can’t hold back from retrieving kittens from tall trees, helping little old ladies cross busy streets, and defending innocence anywhere he finds it.

Shockingly, at school, he realizes he used to be a bully. He’s attracted to the former victim of his bullying, Scott Beckett, though he has no memory of Scott from before “the change.” Where he’d been lazy in academics, overly aggressive in sports, and socially insecure, he’s a new person. And although he can recall behaving egotistically, he cannot remember his motivations.

Everyone, from his mother to his teachers to his “superjock” former pals, is shocked by his dramatic transformation. However, Scott Beckett is not impressed by Bryan’s newfound virtue. And convincing Scott he’s genuinely changed and improved, hopefully gaining Scott’s trust and maybe even his love, becomes Bryan’s obsession.

With a foreword by Cody Kennedy



My Review

Young adult author Mia Kerick frames her same-sex love story THE RED SHEET around the popular 2001 song "Superman" by Five for Fighting. Familiar lyrics like "Even heroes have the right to dream," and "It's not easy to be me," become fitting chapter titles when her protagonist Bryan Dennison wakes up one morning and wants to save the world. He doesn't know what brought on this radical transformation and why he suddenly feels like the ambassador of GreenPeace, the Salvation Army and Feeding America all rolled into one. As the first person narrator, Bryan is telling the story to the audience in order to understand what is happening to him.

All Bryan knows is that he's attracted to chorus tenor Scott Beckett with his wire-rimmed glasses and porcelain skin—and he shouldn't be—not if he wants to maintain his street cred with the superjock crowd. Bryan excels at two things: bullying and basketball. Having Scott as his boyfriend just doesn't fit into that formula. He's a star athlete whose sole motivation is to win, at all costs. He cares too much about what people think of him to throw his reputation away on a boy he can't have. There's no way he's going to come out, even if he's able to admit, at least to himself, "Scott…well, he just did it for me."

However, practice makes perfect and little by little Bryan gains confidence in his feelings by standing up for his newfound convictions. He prays. He tells the truth. He puts the needs of others ahead of his own. He doesn't want to sit on the sidelines anymore. He's ready to champion the cause of right over wrong. But Scott doesn't want to have anything to do with him. Somewhere along the line, Bryan broke Scott's spirit, and it's killing him that he can't remember how.

The novel is part mystery as Bryan tries to remember the kind of self-absorbed jerk he used to be. His memory is riddled with gaps and as he sorts through the clues of his recent past he comes to learn that he was complicit in something terrible that happened to Scott. He works through the remainder of the book trying to make amends for what he did to him before the full weight of his betrayal slams onto his shoulders. The tension is heightened with every page as Bryan's interior journey comes full circle.

Yet through his love for Scott, Bryan is finally able to stand up for what he believes in. He chooses the hard road because it's worth it, not because it's easy. He knows that he can't escape himself. Strength only comes from suffering. He's not lost anymore. He knows that he won't slip back and become the person he once was because Scott was able to forgive him. He's aware now how closely hurt and love go hand in hand, and how love is its own form of kryptonite if it's not handled with care. With love comes responsibility, and Bryan is finally man enough to protect and guard Scott's heart with everything he has, letting the world know that he belongs to him. Now he's able to don his red cape in public, because being openly in love is what really makes him fly.

***

The Red Sheet can be purchased at:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Dreamspinner Press, All Romance Books

Prices/Formats: $6.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback
Pages: 190
Genre: Young Adult
Release: February 20, 2014
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 9781627987219
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.

Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

My themes I always write about:
Sweetness. Unconventional love, tortured/damaged heroes- only love can save them

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


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Friday, September 5, 2014

Michael J. Bowler - There Is No Fear - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

The most famous boy in the world is a prisoner. He’s been charged with a crime he didn’t commit, a crime that could send him to prison for the rest of his life. Languishing within The Compound, the most secure juvenile facility in California, while the district attorney vows to make an example of him because of his celebrity status, Lance must endure the daily indignities of the incarcerated.

New Camelot is fractured without him. Ricky and Chris are bereft, living for the weekly phone call that becomes their only lifeline to the brother they so desperately love, while Arthur and Jenny feel the loss of their son with a sadness that can’t be quelled. And what about Michael, the highly volatile teen who helped write the proposition that will change California forever? Could he really be the monster he says he is? His hatred of Ricky is palpable, and his instability may well threaten the lives of everyone at New Camelot.

As the election looms closer, Proposition 51 takes on an even greater significance in light of the pending trial of the century. The more harshly fifteen-year-old Lance is treated within the broken justice system, the more he contemplates the wisdom of his idea that children need more adult rights. If The Child Voter Act becomes law, won’t it simply allow adults to throw more kids into prison with impunity?

Whichever way the voters decide, his greatest fear remains the same: will he ever again be with the people he loves?

The Knight Cycle Continues…


My Review

"I'm not ready to be a grownup yet."

With that simple admission, author Michael J. Bowler sums up the essence of young adult literature. So often, writers try to make their teenage characters seem more put together than they really are. It could be a ploy, telling young readers what they want to hear, that authority figures suck. It could be a marketing strategy that love equals sex because sex sells. It could be the belief that teenagers are looking to escape their problems, not solve them, so let's keep them disconnected because they want to be. But that kind of mentality is shortchanging a smart and capable teenage audience.

Yet again and again, publishers choose to spit out the same old story that teenagers don't need adults, feeding them the line that they can overcome any obstacle on their own. All they need is a hot love interest and they're all set, able to conquer anything that gets in their way.

But Bowler knows teens better than most. In 2000, he was invited to visit the White House when he was named the National Big Brother of the Year. For thirty years, he has volunteered within the juvenile justice system of Los Angeles, and he's been a high school teacher for a quarter of a century. He's not writing about some abstract, fantasy concept of what teenagers are supposed to be. He knows them firsthand because he's at the epicenter of youth culture, both good and bad.

That's why the adult characters in THERE IS NO FEAR are just as important as their younger counterparts. King Arthur is a father figure, the stabilizing influence for a group of troubled teens who aren't sure where they fit in or where they belong. He's a source of unconditional love because he expects them to mess up and make mistakes. He knows they're not going to be perfect. He's ready and willing to welcome them home time and again, never shutting his door to the prodigal sons in his midst. Arthur says so poignantly, "I've learned that it's ever and always my job to set a right and proper example for them. I've learned to trust them, and never, ever give up on them."

There are many touching scenes between King Arthur and his adopted son/protege, Lance. When fifteen-year-old Lance is sent to prison, Arthur waits in line outside the gate, desperate to see him. He never misses a visit. The minute he arrives, he's anxiously watching for Lance's face behind the barred window to his cell.

Another key moment is when Arthur has a heart-to-heart with Lance about the abuse he suffered at the hands of his foster father. There is a lot of pain that gets dredged up in that conversation, but Arthur is astute enough to realize that Lance has been carrying around a lot of heavy misconceptions about himself that need to be addressed and set right. It's a talk that's not easy to have, but it's one that Arthur doesn't shy away from.

A second adult worthy of mention is Merlin. Although he only makes one appearance of merit in THERE IS NO FEAR, it's an important one. Lance is foundering under a false sense of identity. He thinks he has to be perfect to be truly worthy anyone's love. But Merlin sets him right, saying, "In this era there seems to be an obsession with the perfect male and the perfect female, and if you cannot live up to those ideals you are somehow a failure. These idealized notions of perfection are like your Hollywood movies, Lance–pure fantasy. Do not destroy yourself because you cannot measure up to the fantasy image of the perfect boy. Would that you could see yourself through my eyes, you would see a true hero, an amazing young man who is more real than most." And that's a certainly a message all media-obsessed teens need to hear—it's okay to be yourself.

If Bowler could be there for every teen out there, you get the sense that he would. However, even if he can't personally visit each and every teen, he's able to reach a lot more through his books. Bowler is an author deserving of a wide spread audience, especially among inner city youth who are at risk of becoming just another statistic in the criminal justice system, like many of the boys Lance meets in prison. They need to hear that they're not mistakes, and that they're loved and someone cares about them. And if Bowler's unable to get to them personally, I think he hopes that his readers will take up the cause, because he can't do it alone, he needs help. Social change may start with one person, but it culminates with the active participation of the many.

The Round Table-inspired works of Bowler's are certainly meant to entertain, but they do so much more than that. They're the trumpet call in the night. They're the summoning sword held aloft. They're a call to action to right the many injustices facing the world today. It's up to readers whether or not they want to remain passive bystanders, who read simply as a means of escape, or if they're willing to take Bowler up on his offer and join the New Camelot because it's real and it's there, waiting right outside the pages of this book.

***

There Is No Fear can be purchased at:
Amazon

Prices/Formats: $4.99 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Pages: 284
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Release: July 17, 2014
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9780990306337
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of five novels––A Boy and His Dragon, A Matter of Time (Silver Medalist from Reader’s Favorite), Children of the Knight (Gold Award Winner in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards), Running Through A Dark Place, and There Is No Fear––who grew up in San Rafael, California. His horror screenplay, “Healer,” was a Semi-Finalist, and his urban fantasy script, “Like A Hero,” was a Finalist in the Shriekfest Film Festival and Screenplay Competition.

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 two remaining books that complete The Children of the Knight Cycle and both will be released in 2014.

He is currently at work on a horror/suspense novel based on his screenplay, “Healer.”

Links to connect with Michael:
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Facebook
Twitter
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Blog Tour Site


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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cathi Stoler - The Hard Way - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Private Investigator Helen McCorkendale’s childhood friend, Jimmy Scanlan, has just opened January, the most lavish casino and hotel resort on the Las Vegas Strip. After attending the grand opening, Helen returns to New York and encourages her friend, Laurel Imperiole, Senior Editor at Women Now magazine, to create a get-away contest for readers offering a weekend at the hotel as the grand prize. The winner, Dawn Chapman, a jewelry store employee from Cincinnati, denies entering the contest and initially refuses the trip. Finally persuaded by Laurel to accept, she arrives at the hotel and nearly faints when she passes the hotel’s elite meeting rooms where the International Diamond Dealers Consortium is holding its annual meeting. She insists on returning home immediately.

Suspicious of her behavior, Jimmy visits her suite to encourage her to attend the Saturday afternoon pool party, saying she can leave on his private jet the next day. Later in the afternoon, he finds Chapman’s dead body by the pool. She’s been murdered—an unusual double poisoning by cyanide and diamond dust.

Dawn Chapman was not who she appeared to be, and therein lies a mystery. But to Helen and Laurel, the main task is to take Jimmy Scanlon off the suspect list and clear his name. Will their luck hold? Or will it be a crap shoot, as they roll the dice and do it ‘the hard way,’ going for doubles when the odds are against them. Losing may mean losing their lives.



My Review

Gamblers are a fickle lot. If there's even a hint of a suggestion that a place is jinxed, they'll up and run like nobody's business, never to return. So when a contest winner from Women Now magazine is murdered at the newly opened January Resort and Casino, all of Las Vegas holds its collective breath. Will owner Jimmy Scanlan be charged with homicide or will he simply lose his shirt? Somebody's out to get him and his most trusted friend P.I. Helen McCorkendale is determined to get to the bottom of things and save him from the slammer, as well as impending bankruptcy.

The clues start to add up, one by one. The International Diamond Dealers Consortium is holding a convention at Jimmy's casino. The victim, Dawn Chapman, was poisoned when someone laced her gin and tonic with diamond dust, a modus operandi akin to swallowing ground-up glass. Jimmy's main rival on the Strip is the owner of The Florentine, who tried to keep Jimmy from setting up shop, but failed. His security detail has ties to the consortium, but he begged off holding the convention, claiming that a movie was being shot at his casino and he couldn't accommodate their needs, making it more than suspicious that he was setting Jimmy up to take the fall.

Helen has her work cut out for her, but she's ready and willing to take on some of the richest diamond dealers in the world. They don't want their dirty secrets coming to light, but she doesn't let anything dissuade her from investigating their back room dealings. She knows that she's walking on dangerous ground, looking into the de Groot family, one of the most prestigious in the diamond trade. They recently acquired a red diamond believed to be lost after Tsar Nicholas was executed during the Russian Revolution. With its sudden reappearance, more than a few jewel thieves are looking to steal it for themselves.

Was Dawn Chapman one of those thieves? When her criminal background is revealed, Helen begins to question the motives of this supposed jewelry store worker from Cincinnati. Who was she really and how come she didn't want to visit Las Vegas? Did she cross paths with someone in Jimmy's hotel before she turned up dead? Was it someone from the consortium or another hustler who wanted her out of the picture when it came to stealing the diamond?

Stoler poses a lot of questions as her narrative thread weaves its way toward a compelling conclusion. Sometimes the good guys win, and sometimes they don't. It takes a mystery writer worthy of her salt to shake things up a bit at the end, and not give readers exactly what they're looking for, but something decidedly more off center, something better. There's nothing worse than figuring a mystery out in the opening pages, and Stoler works in enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing all the way to the final chapter for an ending many won't see coming.

***

The Hard Way can be purchased at:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $14.95 paperback
Pages: 280
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Release: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603819497
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Cathi Stoler’s mysteries feature PI Helen McCorkendale and magazine editor, Laurel Imperiole. The Hard Way is the third book in the series. The first, Telling Lies, took on the subject of stolen Nazi art. Book 2, Keeping Secrets, delved into the subject of hidden identity. Stoler’s short stories include: “Magda,” in the Criminal Element Anthology Malfeasance Occasional: Girl Trouble, “Out of Luck,” in the Anthology, Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices, “Fatal Flaw,” a finalist for the Derringer for Best Short Story and “Money Never Sleeps” both published at Beat to A Pulp. Cathi is working on a novella, Nick of Time, which features International gambler, Nick Donahue. She is also starting a new series, Bar None, A Murder On The Rocks Mystery, with female bar owner, Jude Dillane. Cathi is a member of the New York/Tri State chapter of Sisters In Crime. She is also a member of Mystery Writers of America.

Links to connect with Cathi:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog
Blog Tour Site


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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.



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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
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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:
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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:
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