Friday, September 28, 2012

Die A Stranger (Alex McKnight #9) by Steve Hamilton

Book: Die a Stranger (Alex McKnight #9)

Author: Steve Hamilton

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Alex's buddy Vinnie, an Ojibwa tribal member and recovering alcoholic, disappears after his mother passes away and he relapses with several drinks. Alex must find what happened to him and if it has anything to do with several men being killed in a drug trade that Vinnie's name has come up with. To make matters worse, a man has just shown up claiming to be Vinnie's father, which is funny since Vinnie was told all his life that his father was dead. Alex must figure everything out before it is too late and Alex loses his best friend.

My rating: 3.5 Stars

My opinion: Alright, I must come clean. I am a HUGE Steve Hamilton fan. Love his books and stalk him quite a bit! Knock on wood, no restraining orders yet! He is an author whose books are preordered from Amazon as soon as I am able. I would say that he places in my top 3 favorite contemporary authors and I am always snooping around to see when the next Alex McKnight book is being released. I go into his books with 5 stars and work my way down from there. So, there might be some bias to this review, but I wouldn't let that stop you from enjoying Hamilton's works.

On that note, I was not as sucked into this book as I have been to the other 8. The other books, no questions asked garnered 4 and 5 star reviews from me.  On this novel, however, I felt like there was almost a disconnect in this storyline and it passed WAY too quickly. The traditional Hamilton writing quality was still there, but his "passion" of character felt like it was missing on this one. Gotta say though that there were some unexpected twists, although, as my husband said, he knew it would wrap up with a nice red ribbon and it did.

Source: Purchased        

Would I recommend? : Have since book one and loaned them out left and right!

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Part of Series

Playing Dead by Julia Heaberlin

Book: Playing Dead

Author: Julia Heaberlin

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: A woman receives a letter stating from a woman that tells her that she is not who she thinks she is, but in reality is the woman's missing daughter. Her kidnapping was also surrounded by several deaths including a family slaughtered in Chicago. Is this true? Is Tommie's childhood a farce? Are there people out there who still think Tommie has secrets to hold and want her dead to ensure they stay that way?

My rating: 3.5 stars

My opinion: Although there were aspects to this book that were pretty unbelievable and others that were pretty boring, this book, for the most part, was a real page turner. The twists at the end of the book were real shockers and gave me "WTH?" moments which I love in books.

My understanding is that this debut author is actually a journalist so I would have expected better writing from the book, but the unusual storyline was able "prop" it up.

Source: Library

Would I recommend? : Yes

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone


Bad Little Falls (Michael Bowditch #3) by Paul Doiron

Book: Bad Little Falls (Michael Bowditch #3)

Author: Paul Doiron

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Michael Bowditch has been moved from his station to a new one, yet trouble still follows him. This time, two men are targeted in the frigid Maine winter. One lays dead of a gunshot wound and one suffers from frostbite which almost kills him. It turns out that the one laying dead is a well known drug dealer, but is the frost bitten man his murderer or another victim? The answer lies in the diary of a young boy and Mike must decipher the codes to answer the questions which could get him killed this time.

My rating: 4 stars

My opinion: I call Paul Doiron's writing a cross between Steve Hamilton (Alex McKnight) and CJ Box. Although, the storylines aren't spectacular, the character of Michael Bowditch is and that is enough to carry the story. Bowditch has a cynicism and sarcastic wit that just leaves me laughing throughout the read.  

I felt there were certain scenes in this book that were almost used to prop up a weaker storyline than what was needed thus, I ended up marking it down a full star versus my other reviews of his work. This one simply had the feeling that it was "forced" out to me which is totally different from the other books in the series.

Source: Library

Would I recommend? : Yes

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Part of series

A Room Full of Bones (Ruth Galloway #4) by Elly Griffiths

Book: A Room Full of Bones (Ruth Galloway #4)

Author: Elly Griffiths

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Archaeologist Ruth Galloway is called in to supervise the opening of the coffin of a medieval bishop. When she gets to the museum, though, she finds the body of the museum's director and the murder of the museum's owner is soon to follow. What is behind these murders? Is it a curse or something much more sinister and human?

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: Lovers of Kathy Reich's will enjoy this British archaeologist who gets into as much trouble as Temperance Brennan, but is much more approachable and imperfect than her American counterpart.

In general, I feel that the writing of Ms. Griffiths is much more approachable than Ms. Reich's current releases. The books still have the feeling of being fresh and the characters not worn out. Furthermore, I enjoy the characters of this book. As stated previously, they aren't perfect and have their character flaws, so one can generally put themselves into the storyline.

The story flowed incredibly well and left me guessing as to the ending. Drama and crime were very well balanced to keep my interest and to get to know the characters. I would like to see scenery developed a bit deeper. I have noted that this is a weakness with Ms. Griffith's writing. I like to feel "that I am in a scene and can picture it in my mind". This is something that I have noted has been missing across the board with all her books, but I do still consider them to be enjoyable despite this flaw.

On an ending note,as the books do build off one another and Ms. Griffith's writing is highly character driven, I do encourage readers to read the books in order to have a firm grasp of each character's development.

Source: Library 

Would I recommend? : Yes, I have the entire series.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Series

Beside Two Rivers (Daughters of the Potomac #2) By Rita Gerlach

Book: Beside Two Rivers (Daughters of the Potomac #2)

Author: Rita Gerlach

Release date (if applicable): 10/01/2012

Synopsis: The saga continues with this sequel to Before the Scarlet Dawn, focusing on the grown daughter, Darcy, of Hayward and Elizabeth. Elizabeth has passed away and Hayward has deserted his daughter leaving her in the care of her aunt and uncle. Will Darcy finally find happiness in her life when finding love with Ethan or will the truth of her childhood continue to haunt this family's happiness.

My rating: 4 stars

My opinion: I have to be honest I was immediately sucked into the first book of this saga, Before the Scarlet Dawn and couldn't put it down. I wasn't as entranced with the characters or the storyline as before. However, Beside Two Rivers continues to have Ms. Gerlach's excellent writing and character development. Furthermore, Ms. Gerlach is a master at laying out a storyline slowly which come to stunning conclusions. I just would have liked to have liked to have been more invested in these characters.

On a further note, although Ms. Gerlach is considered a Christian author, her books never come off as being preachy. The storylines and language used are very "clean", but the books don't beat the reader over the head with scripture references.

Because Ms. Gerlach's novels are so character driven, I would not read this series out of order. It is imperative that readers have a firm understanding of Darcy's history to understand occurrences in this novel.

Source:  Netgalley for Publisher

Would I recommend? : Yes

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Part of Series

Before the Scarlet Dawn (Daughters of the Potomac #1)


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen L. Carter

Book: The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln

Author: Stephen L. Carter

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Abraham Lincoln survives his assassination attempt, but now is the target of impeachment proceedings for overstepping his constitutional authority in relation to the Civil War. One of the members of his legal team, a young African American woman, Abigail Canner is forced to look into the seedy side of politics when the lead attorney is found murdered in a compromising position with a prostitute.  Someone must really want Lincoln found guilty, but with enemies on both sides of the political aisle, who murdered to make sure Lincoln would no longer be President?

My rating: 3.5 Stars

My opinion: Ok, I have to admit...I had a hard time with this book. The mystery aspect was FASCINATING...however, I must be pretty concrete in my thinking because every time that Lincoln "appeared" in the book, all I kept thinking was that there was NO way he would have survived that assassination. Yes, I must not have a vivid imagination necessary for reading this book. The writing on the other hand was spectacular and the mystery kept my interest.

Source: Library

Would I recommend? : For readers of alternative history, yes. Otherwise, no.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone


Cookies for Grown-ups by Kelly Cooper

Book: Cookies for Grown-up

Author: Kelly Cooper

Release date (if applicable): November 19, 2012 (hint, hint...just in time for holiday entertaining!)

Synopsis: Who says cookies are for kids? These recipes are for some of the most unusual ADULT cookies I have ever seen. Not only made of sweet stuff only, some of these recipes used peppers, cheeses, veggies and spices. To boot, this unusual cookbook gives readers "partnering" beverage ideas , including alcoholic drinks, to serve with these little gems.

My rating: 5 Stars

My opinion: Looking for something different for entertainment ideas? This cookbook is it! These were some of the most unusual cookie recipes that I have ever seen. These aren't going to be cookies most of the young in's are going to like they are something just for the adults!

I loved the drink partnering ideas, as well. For themed dinners, by identifying the drink or the wonderful "sub topic" bakers can easily identify cookies to fit their themes.

To show just how unusual this modern cookie cookbook is, there are "Quick Response" Codes for use with a smart phone.

Special note: Looking for more recipes? Don't miss the recipes on the author's site ( or even the publisher's site ( I pulled some more pretty awesome recipes from both sites!

Source: Netgalley for Publisher

Would I recommend? : Not only would I recommend, it is going in my Amazon basket!

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

The Uninvited (Krewe of Hunters#8) by Heather Graham

Book: The Uninvited (Krewe of Hunters #8)

Author: Heather Graham

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Allison Leigh, docent of a historical mansion, once owned by the Tarleton family, during a final tour of the mansion, stumbles upon the body of a colleague killed in a really not nice way. At the same time, she starts to see his ghost and ghosts of others of the mansion. As a result of the death, the Krewe of Hunters led by Taylor Montague are brought in to investigate the death and, subsequently, Allison's "visions" of those from the beyond. As the deaths start to pile up, the question must be asked...are they being done by a vengeful spirit from the beyond or someone much more living?

My rating: 3.5 Stars

My opinion: This book was good, but not fantastic. Like the greater chunk of Heather Graham books, I found this book perfect for situations in which I need lighter reading. There were moments that, unintentionally, I found "silly" with, as normal the characters too light. Having read the entire series, I found this to be among my favorites of the series for the storyline.

Source: Netgalley for Harlequin/Mira

Would I recommend? : Yes

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Part of Series


Monday, September 24, 2012

The Empty Glass: A Novel by J.I. Baker

Book: The Empty Glass: A Novel

Author: J.I. Baker

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Deputy Coroner, Ben Fitzgerald is called to the scene of a suicide. When he gets to the scene, it is the suicide of Marilyn Monroe and things aren't lining up that it is a suicide and, although, everyone in law enforcement writes it off as suicide, he can't. On his own, he investigates her death, but are there are people out there who don't want the truth dug up and will do whatever they need to do prevent it from happening? Is Ben trying to make a murder out of a suicide? Will Ben solve the mystery of Marilyn's death or become a victim of dark forces, as well?

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: I love when I find a book that I can't put down and that intrigues me as to its' path. This book was constant in doing this. The storyline was excellently crafted in that how it was laid out and "playing" with the readers mind as to what was real and what was "fantasy" or imagination in the main character's head.  

I do have to be honest and say that one of the things that drove me crazy about this book was the first person perspective it was told from. I found it to be distracting and often difficult to follow. As I processed my review after completing the novel, it dawned on me that I couldn't rule out that this was the author's intentions. It had the feel of the 1950's and 1960's detective movies with the gruff speaking detectives who "told a story".

One side note that kind of drove me crazy was that the author talked about the shooting of Lana Turner's boyfriend by her daughter. Problem was that it was a stabbing and not a shooting. I also couldn't figure out the who and why it was important to the story. There were quite a few issues like that, but this one really stood out to me and almost a Hollywood name dropping.

Source: Netgalley for Publisher

Would I recommend? : Yes

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone


Friday, September 21, 2012

Cupid's Christmas by Bette Lee Crosby

Book: Cupid's Christmas

Author: Bette Lee Crosby

Release date (if applicable): ebook published

Synopsis: Cupid has a problem and her name is Lindsay. Unemployed with an immature version of love which is more portrayed as lust, Lindsay just moved back in with her widowed father, John and keeps getting pictures of an adorable little dog that just keep popping up on her computer. Cupid's problem? He has been given the task of making sure that John and Eleanor, a widow with a son not happy about his mother's relationship with John, get together. When Lindsay shows up at home, a wrench could be thrown into that plan...unless Cupid comes up with a plan of his own for romance for Lindsay and to help her find that little dog that he keeps hinting at for her. Will Cupid succeed?

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: Although I thought this book was incredibly cute and typical high quality Bette Lee Crosby writing, it is definitely lighter and a bit more written for a general audience than the books that she normally writes.

On that note, this story is a Hallmark "feel good" story that has Bette's classic humor while weaving a heart warming story just perfect for the upcoming holiday season.

Source: Author for Review

Would I recommend? : Yes, it is a cute romance.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone


So Far Away: A Novel by Meg Mitchell Moore

Book: So Far Away: A Novel

Author: Meg Mitchell Moore

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Bullied 13 year old Natalie Gallagher, whose father is passing her over for his new love and mother suffers from depression. Natalie comes across the diary of a Bridget O' Connell, maid who came to the US from Ireland in the 1920's and has secrets of her own in her basement and seeks out the assistance of librarian, Kathleen Lynch, who has her own set of secrets. How can Bridget help these two lost souls survive their secrets and make it through the rain when she died a generation ago.  

My rating: 3.5 Stars

My opinion: Although I loved the storyline of this book, the writing left me periodically cold and thought it came off as distant. Furthermore, I thought the chunk of this book, maybe because of the actions of a bunch of 13 year olds really came off as a YA book versus adult literature. I had a hard time separating the two. I also thought that through out the book, incidents wrapped up with nice neat red bows, which I can't go into without heading into spoilerland.

I think this book could be readable by a Young Adult audience, as well as an adult audience who is a bit more tolerant of a "simplistic" writing. Make note, I am not saying bad writing...I am saying simplistic or lighter reading.

I must say that I enjoyed this book much more than the last book I read by the author, although I did give it the same rating.

Source: Library

Would I recommend? : Yes

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone


Broken Harbour by Tana French

Book: Broken Harbour (Dublin Murder Squad #4)

Author: Tana French

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Patrick Spain and his two children are stabbed to death in their home while his wife clings to life after barely surviving the same fate. What would cause someone to murder an entire family including children? How does it involve Mr. Spain's career that made him a wealthy man? Or does it? Mick Kennedy and his new partner, Richie Curran are brought in to solve this heartbreaking crime. Will they get the right person though?

My rating: 5 Stars

My opinion: My absolute favorite Tana French novel to date. This is an author who I have read all her works in this series, but could never really get into the works. I thought they were written somewhat dryly and I frequently would find my mind wandering. Although, this was somewhat present with this novel, I found myself mesmerized by this story.

Furthermore, I loved the twists Ms. French wrote into this storyline. As I reached the end, the final twist left me hanging my head due to the sadness. That is all I can write without heading into spoilerland.

On a side note, I had recieved this book as an epub file from the publisher. I must say that I found the file distracting and didn't like the way it read on my Nook. I waited for the book to be released in print and reviewed from there.

On a final note, I think Mickey Kennedy is probably my least favorite series character. I found the family dramatics really distracted from a strong storyline. Luckily though, Ms. French's series novels, at least this series, are written where the books can either be read in a series or as stand alones without feeling as though the reader is missing out on too much information.

Source: Netgalley and Library

Would I recommend? : Yes

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Part of Series


An Interview with Bette Lee Crosby

 As many of you know, I am one of the founders and co-moderators of Sisterhood of the Traveling Book on Goodreads. Through this group's Traveling Book program, I have had the opportunity to meet some spectacular authors, who are the epitome of excellence of Indie publishing, yet are just some of the most down to earth people in the world. I will never forget the day that I received an email from one of our members stating that I had to read Spare Change by Bette Lee Crosby and that she had given the author my name to place the book on Traveling Books. I was like "OK, I will wait for her to contact me." and left it at that...not overly excited, but not dismissive either .  I received a warm, inviting, down to earth email from Bette introducing herself in the most kind way. Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I am a business person at heart and display "business boundaries", which carry over to STB, so I was a bit taken back by that first email. One and a half years later, I couldn't imagine not having this woman in my life somewhere. Bette's initial email to me was the tip of the iceberg as to her graciousness and kindness of heart that the STB member had spoken about that I see on display on almost a daily basis. The most spectacular thing, though, is that these "personality traits" carry over to her writing. Don't believe me? Spare Change, after 67 reviews on Amazon has a rating of 4.6 Stars, so don't miss your chance to get this spectacular book for FREE because this offer...ENDS TODAY!


NB: In reading Spare Change, I was hooked right from the first page because I felt that the protagonist, Olivia Ann Westerly, was sharing her innermost thoughts with me. Was that character based on someone you know?

BC: Not one person, but she is probably a collage of several people I know or have known. Before I start writing any book, I spend a month or more just getting to know the characters, I fatten them up with attitudes, idiosyncrasies, superstitions, hopes and dreams. When I finally start to write, I know exactly how my character will react in any given situation, and I can think the way they’d think. By doing this, I don’t end up with characters who are acting out of character.

NB: I have read two of your books and both are based on a female protagonist, but not the typical ‘I am woman hear me roar’ type of mentality, is that more or less the mold for your books?

BC: Although I didn’t set out for it to be, I suppose it is. My protagonists are often ordinary women who somehow find the strength to meet the challenges that face them. I think many of us women are stronger that we think we are, but that strength doesn’t surface until something or someone threatens our life or the lives of those we love. It’s sort of a mama bear instinct, I suppose.

NB: Did you always want to be a writer?

BC: Oddly enough, no. I studied fine art and planned on becoming a graphic designer but in the course of designing some soft goods packaging I was asked to write fill copy for the back of the package, and I discovered a true love for words. I still am basically a very visual person. I visualize whatever I am writing about and words become the tool I use to paint the picture.

NB: What has been the most rewarding experience since your books have been published?

BC: Hands down, reading reviews that talk about the characters in my books as if they were living breathing people. To me, those characters are real, but hearing that readers and reviewers feel the same way, is a reward beyond comparison.


NB: If you could spend a day with one other author, who would it be and why?

BC: Harper Lee. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my all time favorites because it shows the South exactly as it was—charming and innocent, but with a harsh reality that can, at times, be brutal. She so beautifully portrayed the quiet strength of Atticus and although Scout was smart and fearless in some ways, Harper Lee still managed to give her the innocence and vulnerability of a child.


NB: What inspired you to become an Author?

BC: My mom—not because she was a writer, but because she was an awesome storyteller. My family was from West Virginia and Southerners are born story-tellers. The magical make-believe world of my childhood was what gave me the creativity that goes into developing a story. My mom’s stories fired my imagination and enabled me to see things not just as they were, but in the light of possibility. That inspiration is still with me and colors almost everything I write.


NB: You’ve published six books and every one of them is a standalone story, have you ever thought of doing a series?

BC: To date I haven’t, but, I am currently working through a storyline that could be considered a sequel to Spare Change. While I was writing that book I became very attached to the eleven-year-old boy in the story, Ethan Allen, and I think I would really enjoy working with him again. To me he’s a streetwise kid who has a good heart and good intentions, but doesn’t always go about things in the right way—which is probably true of many people.


NB: Do you have a favorite quotation or something you wish you’d said?

BC: It probably depends upon when and where you ask me. I would love to be deep and profound like so many brilliant writers, but I’ve learned over the years that I am still my mother’s daughter – sometimes irreverent, always a story-lover, but seldom brilliant. So here is the quote that most closely reflects my own thinking…"The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they're going to have some pretty annoying virtues." Elizabeth Taylor

NB: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
BC:  Be yourself. Discover what’s in your heart and create characters you love or love to hate. Never allow yourself to follow in the tracks of another author simply because he or she sold a million copies of their book. If you stumble onto that pathway, your readers will know; your characters will sound shallow and superficial. But if you’re true to yourself and work to develop your own voice it will ring loud and true with believability. It isn’t something that happens overnight. I wrote four novels before the fifth was published, but the truth is that the first four didn’t deserve to be published, they were all part of my learning curve. So, stay with it and learn from the writers who inspire you, from the books you love, and from the books you hate. You learn something from every book you read, and sometimes that something is what not to do.  Most of all enjoy every minute you spend writing—because if you’re not writing for fun, you shouldn’t be writing.



Thursday, September 20, 2012

Spare Change by Bette Lee Crosby


I have a special treat for the readers of A Book and A Review. Bette Lee Crosby is a WONDERFUL Indie author who I am now privileged to call my friend. Spare Change was my first read of her novels. At this point, because of the quality of her writing, I have read every book of hers. She is offering Spare Change for free today (9/20) and tomorrow (9/21). Don't miss your chance to introduce yourself to this wonderful author by grabbing Spare Change for free and come back tomorrow for an interview with this dynamic woman.

Book: Spare Change

Author: Bette Lee Crosby

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Olivia Westerly, a superstitious woman of a certain age who never wanted children and was unapologetic about it, is widowed on her honeymoon. Trying to mend her broken heart, she finds herself the sudden guardian of her deceased husband's grandson whose daughter-in-law was murdered. Reluctantly she takes him in, but he ends up taking her heart.  Now, as the only witness to his mother's death, her killer is looking to make sure Ethan never tells anyone else. Can Olivia keep Ethan safe?

My rating: 5 Stars

My opinion: I am not giving this book 5 stars for the longevity of the book or its' ability to become a classic, but for the author's ability to write characters who will absolutely melt your heart and elicit sympathy from the reader. I find that to be a rare ability in the majority of the books I read and this author truly does have that capability. I absolutely fell in love with the little boy in this book, Ethan Allen, and, as a mother, wanted to wrap my arms around him. As I sat down to read this, I found myself pushing away other books that were slotted to be finished to continue on with this book and that is always the sign of a winner to me. I ended up reading this in one day (actually a couple of hours) once it was started. That is not odd, but my engrossment with a book is. This book was recommended to me and usually that doesn't always work out...with this one the recommender was dead on!! Furthermore, it is a book I will recommend as well!

Source: Sisterhood of Traveling Book

Would I recommend? : Yes and I already have.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Far North (Fire and Ice #2) by Michael Ridpath

Book: Far North (Fire and Ice #2)

Author: Michael Ridpath

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: In 2010, in the midst of a credit catastrophe, Magnus Jonson, a Boston detective transplanted to Iceland, is brought in to investigate the suicide of a banker. Did the banker commit suicide or was it something much more sinister related to the deaths of numerous politicians and bankers surrounding the 2009 crash? What does an incident decades before witnessed by 2 little boys have to do with the devastation today?

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: Another winner from writer Michael Ridpath who can write Nordic Noir up there with some of the top authors of this genre, although he lives in London. Ridpath's writing and character development, excellently depicted in the first book of the series, Where the Shadows Lie,  continues to be strong.

This was the case with this novel. He weaves two stories in this novel and how they cross paths in the present. I must admit though that the storyline when based in the financial industry left me a tad bored when written about.

Source: Library

Would I recommend? : Yes

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Part of series

Where the Shadows Lie (Fire and Ice #1)


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

They Disappeared by Rick Mofina

Book: They Disappeared

Author: Rick Mofina

Release date (if applicable): September 18, 2012

Synopsis: To recover from a family tragedy and save his marriage, Jeff Griffin takes his family on a vacation to NYC. Problem is, the young Cody accidentally trades bags with a criminal which leads to his and his mother's kidnapping. Can Jeff save his family when the police are slow to believe they were really kidnapped and that Jeff had nothing to do with it? Will Jeff survive saving his family?

My rating: 3 stars

My opinion: I could never really warm up to this book. Although, I did like the writing; I kept having the feeling of "been there, done that". Furthermore, I found the story pretty predictable as to the outcome.

On a side note, I was happy to see this type of mystery from Harlequin! Very little romance and somewhat fast paced. I hope they continue it!

Source: Netgalley for Harlequin

Would I recommend? : If you don't read many mysteries, yes. If you do (like me) nah, I don't think so.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tributary by Barbara K. Richardson

Book: Tributary

Author: Barbara K. Richardson

Release date (if applicable): September 15, 2012

Synopsis: Orphaned at the age of 6, Clair Martin is forced to grow up in Mormon Utah. When she becomes of age, as the common path, Clair is "encouraged" to become one of multiple wives. Wanting more for herself, she declines the "offer". Follow Clair's 30 year journey of hardships and happy times as an independent woman.

My rating: 5 Stars

My opinion: I don't think there is enough that I can say about this book.

Followers of my blog know that I read a lot. Currently I am at over 400 books for 2012 and am hoping to reach 700 by the end of the year. Unfortunately, with reading that many books, frequently once a book is finished, it is out of site...out of mind.

Clair Martin will not have this issue. I recently participated in an interview about what makes a book a gem for me. A gem for me is a book that sucks me in with not only a spectacular storyline, but a dynamic, strong main character that makes my heart "glow" to the point it makes me smile at happy moments and feel the pain during sad moments. That was Clair Martin.

I can't leave this review without talking about the storyline. Not only was the main character of this book strongly written , but so was the storyline with deep descriptors of locations that made me feel as though I was inside Clair looking out and seeing what she saw.

Now, I do have to add that this is a book that I could easily see being made into a Hallmark Movie Channel movie, like Love Comes Softly or Sarah, Plain and Tall. If you like the characters and settings of those movies, Tributary is a book that you will fawn over.

I do have a side note. I tend to jump at books that are "compared" to my favorite writers with Willa Cather being my number one. I have read every Willa Cather book, several including My Antonia multiple times. I don't think it is right to compare Barbara Richardson to Willa Cather. Cather has a  poeticism to her works that was lacking in Tributary that was written somewhat in a more modern fashion. On that note, does it detract from the awesomeness of this book? Absolutely not, Tributary has its' own personality.

Now, I need to get on my soapbox for a minute. Tributary is a prime example of dynamic Indie authors and publishers that produce high quality product that can compete with any traditional house publishing novels. OK, off my soapbox!

Source: Publisher for review

Would I recommend? : I can't recommend this book enough!

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone


Why I Love Indie Authors!

When I noticed that Terri Guiliano Long, author of In Leah’s Wake, plus a huge supporter of both book bloggers and Indie authors, was doing a Celebrating Book Bloggers event, I knew I was in.  Why? In case you missed my earlier posts, Terri has been a wonderful support to me as a baby book blogger and an entrepreneur. I have truly grown to adore this woman whom I have never met, speak with mainly through email, yet the goodness in her heart is evident in her support and offering a hand up to those working their way through the mire of the Indie publishing world, both as bloggers and/or authors. As I have gotten to know others in the Indie world, although Terri is a special character, I have seen that a large chunk of Indie authors who share her warm, welcoming, supportive traits to others going along the Indie path.

OK, back to the topic at hand…why do I love Indie books?  I have to be honest; my first intro to the Indie world was because anyone who has known me for a tiny amount of time knows I am cheap! As I was wandering around the Amazon pages, I saw that I could get books for cheaper than those of the traditional publishing houses, sometimes even for free, and figured I would give them a try. Heck, what did I have to lose? Once I did, I was hooked! I couldn’t believe that I was getting books that, in my opinion, were of the same or higher quality as ones that were being charged huge bucks for.
My deep commitment for Indies really started when I started to research the Indie process. For the committed Indie author, it isn’t a process for the faint of heart. As a business person, I am always fascinated by differences in practices and I determined that with Indie publishing the author is responsible for the whole shebang, not simply authoring a book. There is no big publishing house staff to edit, produce, market or sell their books. The author manages the whole process. For those who truly throw their heart and soul into bringing their books to market, that to me isn’t a task to take lightly.  I have always said that for the Indie author, their book is a small business. How intimidating can that be? Yet indie authors have the courage to face this challenge on a daily basis in seeking out ways to get light shed on their books.

Recently, I was speaking to someone about the impact of the Indie publishing world on large publishing houses. It is also my answer to those who have closed minds about reading Indie authors. We are seeing some large publishing houses now using the Indie publishing world as the minor leagues before offering contracts to successful Indie authors. These authors, after successful sales of books, are offered contracts for the successful book(s) or for future titles. Let’s not forget to mention that we are now seeing large publishing houses compete with the Indie world for spots on popular best-seller lists, including the New York Times and USA Today. So, the old adage of what came first the chicken or the egg turns to what made these authors successful…their writing or the traditional publishing house contracts.

Now, does that mean that all Indie authors fit into these criteria? No, but I can tell the reader of this post that I have given just as many one and two star reviews to traditional publishing house authors as I have Indie authors. The reverse can also be said. In a world, where dried up, cookie cutter, overproduced authors are shoved down readers' throats as a result of powerful marketing campaigns and sales staging, I have had the pleasure to read fresh, new and eager authors through the Indie world.

So on a final note, in the Naomi Blackburn world, why would I pay $25 for an overproduced author’s novel that I am paying more for the traditional publishing houses’ overhead when I can pay $5 or less for a high quality novel without the overhead?!?!

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Book Review and an Interview: Bootlicker by Steve Piacente

A Review:

Book: Bootlicker

Author: Steve Piacente

Release date (if applicable): September 1, 2012

Synopsis: Dan Patragno, a newspaper reporter, is called in to write a story about a murder-suicide of a man and his infant daughter. What does this tragic event have to do with another tragic event in the woods of racially segregated 1959 South Carolina when a young black man is given a choice of helping a white corrupt politician get the black vote or be lynched?

My rating: 4.5 Stars

My opinion: Steve Piacente is a dynamic writer. His books are fast paced and engrossing. His book, Bella, was a "can't put it down" for me and Bootlicker was the same way, reading it in a 3 hour sitting. Piacente writes incredibly strong characters and weaves captivating, deep storylines with a mystery that hooks the reader from page one.

I took half a star off my rating for the book because the book was written phonetically. Until I contacted the author, I had really thought that the book didn't have editing that would have been out of character for what I had read previously by this author. In my opinion, I would have liked to have seen an author's note or something like that explaining this. For me, it caused a lot of distraction which impacted my reading because it was confused with grammarical errors. I think with an author's note, this would have been prevented.

Source: Purchased

Would I recommend? : Of course!

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Part of a series

Now, The Interview:

NB: You call this a prequel for your dynamic book Bella, one of my favorite books of 2011; can you tell the readers why?
SP: Thanks, Naomi. In the first novel, Bella enlists the help of a seasoned journalist named Dan Patragno to help uncover the truth about her husband’s mysterious death on an Afghan battlefield. Along the way, the alluring widow and unhappily married reporter learn about the power of temptation and the futility of revenge. (I’m thrilled that Bella just won the Readers Favorite 2012 Gold Medal for Dramatic Fiction). Bootlicker, meanwhile, features Dan as a much younger reporter assigned to cover a racially charged election down South. He learns of a horrific crime dating back decades that links the state’s racist U.S. senator and the man about to become South Carolina’s first black congressman since the Civil War. Dan breaks the story of this unholy alliance right before Election Day. Readers of Bella will recognize the traits – both good and bad – that Dan exhibits in Bootlicker and which will eventually lead to his success and failure as a journalist and a husband a decade or so later.

NB: What made you come up with the character of Dan Patragno? How much of him is based off your past as a reporter? How much of your career in Washington, DC is woven into the character?
SP: The cliché is to write what you know. I know journalism, Washington, and a little about relationships, all of which come into play in both novels. I’m also a New Yorker who somehow wound up writing for Southern newspapers for 25 years, including 10 years as Washington correspondent for the Charleston, S.C. paper. Finally, I teach journalism classes at my alma mater, American University in Washington, D.C. All that said, let me state for the record that I never made the reckless choices that Dan makes as he chases stories and women. I like to think that Dan is a convenient character through which readers can learn, think about and discuss big issues like marriage, happiness, and personal accountability.

NB: You use slang and phonetic spellings in many of the exchanges between the characters. There are mixed views on that device. What was your goal there? Were you worried about distracting readers?
SP: In a word, I was after authenticity. To me, conversations between Southern characters without drawl, slang, and regional witticisms would be like ordering frozen pizza while visiting Rome. Of course this can be overdone, so I tried to be selective, and place these remarks in the mouths of characters who wear their Southern heritage with the most pride, like Senator McCauley.

NB: This book is SO different but just as good as Bella. Most authors don’t do such a drastic change in the settings of their books yet you did, what made you do that? Were you nervous with what a hit Bella was?
SP: First, thanks for the kind words about Bella. I’ll answer by saying that I’ve come to believe that to understand why things are the way they are, you need to go back and understand the beginning. So it is with Dan, who I describe as successfully flawed. How could such a talented, promising journalist fall into such obvious traps? It has to do with his values, his mentors and his instincts. I don’t find the change of setting drastic; I see it as peeling back Dan’s story a little further, and back-briefing readers on how he honed his craft and earned his coveted post in Bella as a Washington correspondent. Clearly, he is not perfect. Who is? I’m hoping that readers will find Dan (and perhaps other flawed individuals in their lives) worthy of forgiveness and a second chance.

NB: Will we be seeing more in the series?
SP: Bootlicker resolves many questions, but one that’s left outstanding concerns the fate of Senator McCauley. I’m giving thought to a third novel that would answer the question about McCauley and perhaps give Dan a chance to resurrect his career, which is in tatters at the end of Bella. Bottom line: I hope you’ll stay tuned!


Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Reverend by Christamar Varicella


Book: The Reverend

Author: Christamar Varicella

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: A serial killer is loose in the town of Alexander City, Alabama. A serial killer whose killings share the same MO with killings from the 1970's that a Voodoo loving Reverend was suspected of and murdered for. Did the Voodoo Reverend come back from the dead to complete his deed? Was the Reverend guilty in the first place? there a copy cat looking to take over for The Reverend?

My rating: 3.5 Stars

My opinion: The base story of The Reverend was simply fascinating. I loved the fact that it was based off a true story, which proves that sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. However, I found the writing of the novel to be dragging at times,somewhat distant and "clinical" that one could find in a non-fiction, true crime novel.  Furthermore, I agree with another reviewer who stated that she felt the book wrapped up too abruptly. I found myself simply left hanging.

Be sure not to miss the author's after notes that give fascinating insight into the history that this book is based off of.

Source: Author for Review

Would I recommend? : The jury is still out on that one for me. The story was rockin', but the writing periodically left me a bit chilled.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China by Paul French

Book: Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young English Woman Haunted the Last Days of Old China

Author: Paul French

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis: In 1937, the body of a young woman in found in rapidly changing Peking. It is the body of a British Consul's daughter, Pamela Warner murdered in a vicious manner and posed for degradation. What led to her death and what life was this daughter of privilege leading that led to her brutal murder? How will her murder impact the rapid changes coming to this region? With a region in such influx, will her killer ever be caught?

My rating: 3 stars

My opinion: Although this book fascinated me, I found moments of it simply boring, dry and difficult to keep my attention. I almost felt that moments were weighed down with insignificant information.

I did find it to be a compelling story that the scenery and family history captivating.

Source: Library

Would I recommend? : Funny, I would still recommend it.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Order of the Seers

Book: Order of the Seers

Author: Cerece Rennie Murphy

Release date (if applicable): September 4, 2012

Synopsis: A genetic marker has been identified which identifies Seers. Not to be used for good, a political group called The Guild is on a manhunt to collect Seers for their own evil purposes.  Lilli, a seer and her brother, Liam, go on the run after their parents murder and join forces with other seers. Can they save themselves? Will The Guild succeed in their evil plans? 

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: Ms. Murphy's novel is an excellent example of why I love, not only indie authors, but debut authors so much. This book was fresh, hoppin' and a fun, yet engrossing read. I am new to dystopian novels, but thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Targeted towards the Young Adult audience, in my humble opinion, this is the type of book to introduce them to an exciting genre with characters who are approachable and enough tension, both sexual and political, to give just a good old fashioned captivating read.

Word of warning: I would not recommend this book to the younger reader due to sexual scenes and language.

Source: Author for review

Would I recommend? : Most definitely. I am adult and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: The author has informed me that this will be part of a trilogy.