Saturday, November 27, 2010

EXIT – A NOVEL BY LILIANA BADD


EXIT – A NOVEL
LILIANA BADD
ISBN #: 9781426935879-print/ 9781426935893-ebook
Aug 2010
Trafford Publishing
http://www.trafford.com
Trade Paperback/ E-Book
$16.33/ $9.99
340 Pages
Contemporary Fiction/Drama/Romance/Social
Rating:  5 Cups


 
I was captivated!  Ondine is a complex, complicated person with an undeniable passion for exposing falsehood and laying bare that which is shrouded by the veneer of civilization.  Her story is epic in scope as, during her travels, whether she is rambling through the streets of Paris or flying off to remote Romania, she encounters others fighting as fiercely against such foes as abject poverty and soul-rotting disease.  Touching on many current-day hot-button issues including illegal immigration, health care, and elitist entitlement, this story swept me along with Ondine as she lives each day of her life.  It is an often disturbing but triumphant declaration of the invincibility of the human spirit.    Read the full review 

                                    
         
                

WRITTEN IN STONE BY RIE MCGAHA



WRITTEN IN STONE
ISBN #: 978-1-920468-53-8
Nov 2010
Silver Publishing
http://silverpublishing.info
E-Book
$5.99
209 Pages
Historical/Romance/Pirate/Adventure/Vampire
Rating: 3 Cups



This short novel is easy to read and entertaining; the story unfolds at a nice pace. Gavin and Angela are likable and I wanted to see their love triumph. There are several explicit bedroom scenes that sizzle.  I also enjoyed the retelling of the Stone family history which provides a unique explanation as to the origin of vampires and why they are practically immortal. According to the history carved on Gavin’s headboard, Muredach and Bettina were the very first vampires. Their story is especially touching. Pick up this book to be transported way from the mundane for several enjoyable hours.  See the  full review


CORNERSTONE DEEP BY CHARLENE A WILSON


CHARLENE A WILSON
ISBN: 978-1-935048-72-5 / 1-935048-72-4 
Nov 2010
Class Act Books
Trade Paperback / E-Book
$12.49 / $6.49
224 Pages
Paranormal Romance
Rating: 3 Cups

Cole Shilo is a wizard from another dimension serving the Grand Marshall, Lord Kyle Dressen on Cornerstone Deep.  Cole’s job is to serve the Lords of the Realm by protecting its citizens.

Mianna is Cole’s soul mate who died six lifetimes ago.  Cole is searching for his true love, convinced that he will find her reincarnated – her soul will call to him and he will answer.

For years, Lord Dressen has lusted for the beautiful artist, Anna, but she has been unresponsive to his romantic overtures.  Finally, Dressen has the perfect opportunity to fully claim her.  When Cole and his brothers find Anna breaking curfew she is placed under a spell and delivered to the Grand Marshall.  It is only later that Cole realizes he has been manipulated into making a terrible mistake.
 
This is a complicated story that immerses the reader fully in an intriguing alternate reality. Cole and his brothers are likable, slightly tarnished, heroes who are faced with some unsettling moral dilemmas.  Most of the pieces come together near the end as the sub-plots mesh into a generally satisfying conclusion though there was one fairly major issue left unresolved.  The foundation for a new series has been solidly constructed.  I hope there will be sequels as the author has begun building a unique universe populated with interesting denizens. 
 


CALLED HOME-TWO HEARTS ANSWER BY GLORIA SCHUMANN


GLORIA SCHUMANN
ISBN #: (10) 0984117571/ (13) 9780984117574
May 2010
Savant Books
www.savantbooksandspublications.com
Trade Paperback
$16.95
342 Pages
Romance / Christian Romantic Suspense
Rating: 3 cups
Emma Benson returns to rural Wisconsin to help her mother.  The small family-owned dairy farm is in dire financial straits, with the possibility of foreclosure on the not-so-distant horizon. A young woman with a prickly disposition, Emma is determined to face the crisis head-on and save the farm.

A successful writer, David Schlosser is tired of the frantic New York lifestyle. He came back to Wisconsin to spend some time with his folks and take a well-deserved break.

Severe weather forces David to seek shelter at the Benson farm late one afternoon.  The storm passes but the barn roof is badly damaged.  Emma takes a part-time job at a bookstore in the nearby town hoping to earn enough to cover the cost of repairs.  David continues to seek out Emma as often as possible.  She is a challenge with her no-nonsense manner and steely resolve to handle all problems on her own. Emma has no time for a romantic involvement besides she knows David will soon tire of rural Wisconsin.  Past experience had made her distrustful; her heart closed. 

I had difficulty relating to Emma most especially during the first half of the novel.  I found her behavior often quite rude and her acerbic tongue annoying.  I admire David’s ability to laugh off her moodiness as he patiently pursued her and struggled to break through her defensive barriers. There are many sweet moments of tenderness, yearning, and loving glances sprinkled throughout the story. I could feel the sexual tension escalate as the two got to know each other better through some strange and occasionally frightening shared experiences. This is an engaging, light suspense that embraces and portrays Christian values without being preachy.

      

FREEDOM IS EARNED BY KRISTAL MCKERRINGTON

KRISTAL MCKERRINGTON
ISBN #:  978-1-897521-54-0
Oct 14, 2010
XoXo Publishing
E-Book
$3.95
112 Pages
Hip Hop, Contemporary
Rating: 2 Cups

Amber, a twenty-year-old street dancer, is the leader of a dedicated group of street dancers called Free Myths.  The action takes place in a small Scottish village as Amber and her friends are bullied and threatened by their arch rivals the FPF’s (Freerunners, Parkourists and Freestylists).

Kayla was the crew leader of the KittyKats, a dance group that Amber was with during her early training years.  Kayla has moved to another city but gladly returns when Amber asks for help.

The Free Myths and the FPF’s are in a turf war.  Both want exclusive rights to an area called the Training Ground which is a large concrete area with rails, poles and multiple levels.  It is the ideal location for street dancing and for the extreme runners.  Amber is devastated when her boyfriend Gareth breaks up with her via a text message and then finds out he is also a secret member of the FPF’s.  That is just the beginning of the concerted, well-orchestrated efforts of the rival band to break Amber and cause the Free Myths to disband.

The topic is interesting as I am a fan of the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance”.  I have seen some street dancers on that show perform in some absolutely amazing ways. In the final showdown between the two rival groups I could easily picture the dance routines.  I wanted to cheer right along with the crowd.  Unfortunately, I feel the story suffers from an overabundance of characters.  I became lost and confused trying to keep up as new names were continuously introduced.  Often the transitions are disconcerting when a few additional sentences could have significantly helped this reader more easily follow the jumps in time and/or location.  Finally, the events are presented from Amber’s perspective and it sometimes seems her thoughts become too rambling and do not really work to advance the story. Overall, I feel there is real potential here that will likely blossom more fully in subsequent efforts.    

                  


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

PARADOX By DONALD GORMAN


MURDER, MAYHEM AND MADNESS
4 Stars
An unlucky prostitute is found with a bloody, cryptic note pinned to her chest.  A crazed serial killer who horribly mutilates his victims begins his diabolical rampage.  It is up to Detectives Paczecki and Grogan to discover the identity of and arrest the killer but clues are scarce. Time becomes yet another enemy as the murders escalate. The victims seem to be randomly selected but soon unlikely relationships are uncovered. A family is torn asunder by hate, betrayal, and loss. Who will survive?

This unusual novel is fast-paced and is told via short, tightly constructed conversations between various character combinations through a series of short glimpses into private moments, lover’s quarrels, and family dynamics. The dialogues are, for the most part, realistically portrayed but a couple of times I felt as if the information was being conveyed in a manner that seemed just slightly too pat. Most of the characters are flawed and not particularly likable but it is their foibles that help make this thriller so unique and gripping. There is no fluff, no filler. Descriptions are succinctly and frugally doled out.  Dysfunctionality rules and religious excesses abound as the story is relentlessly driven to a final chilling showdown. Pick up this book to experience a thrilling, wholly entertaining, macabre journey into the heart of murder, mayhem and madness.

Monday, November 22, 2010

NIGHTWOLVES COALITION BY CLARRISSA MOON


Divine Treat from an Awesome Storyteller
4 Stars

Catrina is a confident, mouthy, strong, sexy female leader who is here on Earth as a protector.  Events have been set in motion that, according to prophecy, will culminate in a series of disasters immense in scope and magnitude by the end of 2012. The cataclysm will have physical as well as metaphysical ramifications.  Cat is a Priestess who has come from another place.  For fifteen years she has existed only on the astral plane, cursed by an enemy sent from her evil earthly father. Finally, though, Cat broke the curse and now she is looking forward to spending some quality time with her three husbands – her soul mates. As a reward for the previous service Cat and her husbands were given physical enhancements that give them super physical and psychic abilities almost like those a vampire would possess but without most of the limitations commonly associated with vampires.

Catrina is a passenger on a plane whose destination is New York.  Her husbands are eagerly anticipating her arrival.  Enroute, the plane is hijacked by terrorists. Cat goes into action…grab your popcorn because you will be biting your nails otherwise.  The old saying “No good deed ever goes unpunished” is an apt one as Cat is later detained and interrogated for her actions aboard the jet.  Then the story truly unfolds as Cat’s family is introduced and an uneasy alliance with a highly skilled Special Forces Team is established.  

The action is intense, choreographed with an eye to detail, and the relationships that emerge as a result of the alliance are complex and interesting.  At one point I was brought to tears by a tender moment.  A few pages later, I found myself scrambling to cool down by turning on the overhead fans.  Clarrissa Moon knows how to write a captivating story that wrings out emotion in a cathartic, fully engrossing way sure to leave the reader gasping before feeling that intense satisfaction of the temporarily sated.  The next book is Nightwolves on the Prowl.  I am going to grab some more popcorn and discover the new adventures that await in the next installment.

Laurie-J

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Shades of Gray by L.M. Pruitt


Contemporary Paranormal That Blazes Straight to the Heart        4 Stars

Jude is an orphan who was raised in a convent but left there as a young teen. Living on the streets of New Orleans, she had always done whatever she needed to do to survive.  With a sarcastic, razor sharp wit but an enormously generous heart, Jude unexpectedly discovers many secrets about herself and her, until now, unknown family. Her powers are unleashed as she must accept the heavy mantle of leadership and responsibility for the Covenant – a powerful cabal divided by generations of political maneuvering and manipulation.

Smart, Fast-paced, action-packed, and chocked full of funny one-line zingers!  It is the absolutely delightful conversations that are the backbone of this amazing book.  They resonate with a natural-sounding cadence and nuance; sharp and focused, the dialogues between the characters consistently propel the story forward to its thrilling and satisfying conclusion. I would have liked to have felt more of the sense of unique ambiance and atmosphere that is the trademark of New Orleans and hope that aspect will be further developed in the next book.  Jude is an unconventional, mouthy heroine who is sure to tug at your heartstrings and make you want to cheer as she dispenses justice and upsets the old status quo. This is the first book in the Jude Magdalyn series and is followed by Shades of Desire.

Laurie-J

Friday, November 12, 2010

ICE CREAM IN THE SNOW BY DIANA CASTILLEJA

DIANA CASTILLEJA

ISBN #: 1453847510-print / 9781453847510-print / 9781936165636-e-Book
Purple Sword Publications
www.purplesword.com
Paperback/E-Book                                           
$12.99/ $5.99
206 Pages
Romantic Suspense
Rating: 4 Cups

A single mom and raising her twelve-year-old son alone, Jessie has no time or inclination for dating or romance. Catching her husband, Arthur, in their bed with another woman all those long years ago and then discovering other soul-shattering secrets left her with a steely resolve and a prickly demeanor. Most importantly, though, is her desire to raise her son properly by nurturing his achievements and helping him realize his full potential. Jessie learns that Arthur has died and that he has bequeathed his profitable ice cream parlor to her and, their son, Jacob.

Arthur owes Brick Donnelly money – a lot of money. Brick is not at all happy having to fly from Boston to Somerset, New Mexico to confront the deadbeat debtor.  When Brick encounters the fiery redhead, Jessie, instead of Arthur, it is the last straw. The flight has left him cranky and out-of-sorts yet somehow he instinctively realizes that Jessie is a woman worth fighting for.

Both Jessie and Brick are stubborn individuals but they decide to work together to find out what happened to the missing money. Jessie feels that the sooner Brick gets what he came for the better.  Brick sees how determined Jessie is to make her new business prosper, thinks her plans are sound, and decides to help rather than hinder her efforts. Meanwhile, more secrets are revealed, innocent lives are endangered, and a surprising scumbag lurks in the background.

I love the interactions between Jessie and her son.  Theirs is a very strong bond that is wonderfully portrayed by this author.  I also think the relationship that develops between Brick and Jacob during the course of the story is touching. The suspense builds incrementally throughout to an exciting and satisfying conclusion. This book may be enjoyed by teens and young adults as well as the more mature reader.    I recommend this sweet, feel-good, romantic suspense that you will want to also share with family and friends.   

Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More

DEATH UPON ME BY B.K. WALKER

B. K. WALKERISBN #: (10) 0557535875/ (13) 9780557535873-print/ ASIN #: B00439H1EM-ebook
July 2010
Lulu Publishing
www.lulu.com
Trade Paperback/E-Book
$12.50 /$4.49
168 Pages
Contemporary/ Dramatic Romance
Rating:  3 Cups

It is 1985 and Kacey Rogers is a troubled teen in Pennsylvania who lives mostly with her drunk, sometimes physically abusive Uncle Kipp and meek, submissive, though also loving, Aunt Marie.  She spends weekends with her mostly absent, promiscuous mother. Kacey’s father deserted the family when she was just a toddler.

Jenny and Kacey have been best friends since second grade.  Jenny is kind, good-hearted and devote.  She is dependable and considerate whereas Kacey is often reckless and irresponsible. They love each other as sisters.

Kacey meets and has unprotected sex with charming, handsome, twenty-four-year-old Bryan Matthews at her fifteenth birthday party.  A few weeks later she discovers she is pregnant.  She also learns that Bryan is already in a committed relationship and his girlfriend is very pregnant.  Kacey keeps her baby and her family steps in to help raise the child. A few years later Kacey meets Steffan and they begin a relationship.  Will one man’s twisted desire be the catalyst that turns Kacey’s dreams into nightmares?     

This book is written from Kacey’s perspective.  It examines the destructive influence of alcoholism and patterns of physical and mental abuse that is passed down generation after generation and how very difficult it can be to break that bleak cycle. With the exception of her loyal friend, Jenny, all the major characters seemed flawed to some degree. Most were able to learn from their experiences to become better people as the story progressed.  It was often nerve-wracking watching Kacey fight her personal demons as she struggled to give her daughter a better childhood and protect those she cherished.

Caution: The consensual sex at Kacey’s birthday party could have been statutory rape according to what I have been able to decipher, from the Internet, of the Pennsylvania laws regarding the Age of Consent. In this scene, the actual act of intercourse was described in just a couple of sentences.


Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More

CURSE OF INNOK BY R.G. PORTER

Dragon’s Legacy Book 1
R.G. PORTERISBN #: 9781607671046
June 2010
Tease Publishing LLC
www.teasepublishingllc.com
E-Book
$4.99
110 Pages
Fantasy Romance
Rating:  3 Cups
A Demon’s curse lifetimes ago causes Gabriel to agonizingly change into a huge, black, fire-breathing dragon with every sunrise and then painfully back to a man every sunset.

Alayia is powerless to save her beloved brother Robert from the black dragon that descended unexpectedly upon on them in the field.  Forced to flee her home, she vows that Robert’s death will be avenged.

Coincidentally, Alayia and Gabriel meet late that evening at a tavern in a nearby town.  Instantly attracted, the pair talk the night away.  Near dawn, Gabriel leaves. Evil men attempt to capture Alayia but she is rescued by a stranger named Talon.  Thus starts the adventure as Alayia begins a journey of discovery, mystery, and magic. Old prophecies align to shape future events and, with guidance from unexpected allies, Alayia strives to break the Curse of Innok.

I enjoyed this fantasy adventure novel.  The major characters were unique and easily identifiable.  I liked the verbal sparring and light teasing between Gabriel, Talon and Alayia.  A few times I felt the transitions were rough or slightly out of kilter and occasionally, the motivations for certain actions or decisions seemed rather flimsy. Overall, I thought the pacing was about right and I found the conclusion particularly satisfying.  I look forward to the next book in this series which I hope will focus primarily on Talon.  

                            
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Rougarou by Judith A. McDowell

Atmospheric Paranormal Suspense Horror with Romantic Elements
5 Star

Rougarou (Volume 1)The Hindel House has been empty for five years, ever since the gruesome tragedy that befell the Rawlins family there. Roger and Janet Stewart just moved to Saint Anthony Parish, Louisiana and were thrilled to lease the huge house at such a bargain price, unaware of its horrific history.  Their three young daughters would have plenty of room to romp and play. The Stewart’s paid a full years’ lease on their new home to the creepy caretaker, Quigly, which left them basically broke.

Jack Oliver had his heart torn to pieces two years ago by the exotic beauty and powerful Psychic, Chandra, when she unceremoniously dumped him without any warning or explanation.  As the story opens Jack is rowing out through the swamp to ask Chandra for her assistance.  Jack believes that a horrible, unspeakable evil is set to unleash its fury on the new, unsuspecting family -- an evil that possibly only Chandra can defeat.

Full of passion and unholy desire, this beautifully structured story of a twisted love that survives untold years through the application of black magic conveys just the right sense of the  heaviness of the thick, humid Louisiana air as it does the weighted, putrefying flesh of the tormented, insane villain.  The conversations flowed easily and were believable as the characters raced to expose and destroy a murderer amid the ensuing supernatural chaos. Still, even in the midst of evil, levity at times found a foothold and a new love struggled to be born. Truly, the author is talented.  She is seemingly able to effortlessly convey the gothic essence of this frightening story while still causing the reader to feel some compassion for the monster who can never let go of his doomed Angelia.