The Art of Invisibility

The Art of Invisibility
The Art of Invisibility by Kevin D. Mitnick

The Widow of Wall Street

The Widow of Wall Street
The Widow of Wall Street by Randy Susan Meyers

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

THE HUNGARIAN BY STEPHANIE BURKHART- REVIEW + GIVEAWAY





The Hungarian

by Stephanie Burkhart



~~~~~~~~~~~~~



BLURB:



Katherine Archibald is in search of a grand adventure.



A young woman in late Victorian England, she wants to open up a bookstore in London and travel Europe hunting down rare books. Love isn't on her map.



Enter Matthias Duma. The Hungarian count captures Katherine's attention like no other man before him with his unusual gold-malachite eyes, his exotic features, and his command of the night sky.



After a night of intrigue during Katherine's birthday, she discovers the map does include love in the legend, but will the map lead her to Budapest and the dark, brooding Hungarian she's just met?



~~~~~~~~~~~~~



EXCERPTS :
 

Matthias took a step backward to put more space between them as her uncle walked in.



"Ah, Count Duma -- Katherine. I didn't expect to find you here," her uncle said. He was of average height, with salt and pepper hair. Light wrinkles creased his brow. He was a little stout, but he wore his suits with pride.



Katherine cast her eyes downward. "I just came to read."



"It's a lovely day. Why are you inside?"



"I didn't feel like working in the garden today."



"I can come back at another time," said Count Duma.



"Nonsense, Matthias. We have business to discuss."



Matthias nodded his head. Katherine's uncle looked at her. "Perhaps you could read your book in the garden? We'd only distract you with boring talk of contracts and consideration."



"Of course, Uncle."



Count Duma? Her mystery man was a Hungarian count? She lunged for her book, trying to keep her hands active, hoping they didn't show her surprise at finding out he was foreign royalty. She walked past Matthias, grazing his arm. A shot of warmth passed between them. She paused, allowing their eyes to caress each other for a second before heading for the door.



"It was a pleasure meeting you, Miss Archibald," said Count Duma.



She gave a polite, yet silent curtsey, and closed the door behind her. Count Duma stymied her. He teased her, yet he took her seriously. No one else had looked at her with such intense or unusual eyes. They weren't angelic, but wickedly sinful with that yellow-gold glare, reminiscent of a satyr. No one had eyes like that -- eyes that glowed; that could pierce even the darkest night. Count Duma was an intriguing man, and a part of her wondered if she would ever see him again.

MY REVIEW:
 
The HungarianThe Hungarian by Stephanie Burkhart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Hungarian by Stephanie Burkhart is a 2012 Desert Breeze Publishing release. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This is the first book in the Budapest Moon series.

This is an unusual werewolf paranormal story with a slight Gothic tone. Katherine is living with her uncle and cousin, Liz when she meets a man named Matthias Duma. The two forge an instant connection as they share an interest in astrology.
Matthias is now a widower and raising his daughter, Emily with the help of his Hungarian staff. But, his English mother-in-law is trying to insert her power over Matthias is a effort to perhaps obtain custody of her granddaughter. Then there is the ever present rivalry with Count Varga and the complicated history between the two men.

This story is not only a love story but a mystery and family drama. Yes, Matthias is a wolf and he will have to let Katherine know about his condition, but he is also a very moody, jealous, and complicated man that Katherine doesn't always understand. The events that led up the death of Matthias' first wife, has him feeling more jealous and threatened than ever when Varga begins to take an interest in Katherine. But, Katherine is no shrinking violet. She knows that in order for them to live their lives in peace, the truth will have to be told, but how will she be able to prove to Varga that he is wrong about Matthias?


Strangely atmospheric with a dark tone, the story reminded me of the old school historical Gothics of the 1970's only with a paranormal slant. Mainly, drama is at the forefront more so than action and the romance is very realistic and true to the time period. Matthias is not the usual hero , but is projected in a masculine way that is old fashioned and also romantic, even if he is difficult to figure out at times. The most important thread in the book involves the rivalry with Vargas and the way Katherine works to discover the truth once and for all. I do wonder if we will see Vargas again in the future. I kind of felt sorry for him.
The book is a slow mover and at times when I felt restless, wanting the pace to speed up just a little, but I think overall this slowness added to the melodrama.

Since this is the first book in the series I am curious to see what will come next. I already have the second book queued up and ready to go. Overall, I think this one might be an acquired taste for some, but it's my kind of Paranormal/Gothic romance. 4 stars

View all my reviews

 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~



AUTHOR Bio and Links:





Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She was born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire. After serving 11 years in the US Army she currently calls Castaic, California her home. Stephanie was married in Denmark in 1991 and has two young sons. She adores chocolate, is addicted to coffee and enjoys early morning walks. She's also an assistant den leader for her son's Cub Scout den and is a Boy Scout mom. She writes paranormal, contemporary, and steampunk romance and has two children's books published with 4RV Publishing.



FIND ME ON THE WEB AT:



WEBSITE:

http://www.stephanieburkhart.com



TWITTER:

http://twitter.com/StephBurkhart



FACEBOOK:

https://www.facebook.com/StephanieBurkhartAuthor



GOOD READS:

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4031660.Stephanie_Burkhart



YOU TUBE CHANNEL:

http://www.youtube.com/user/botrina?feature=mhee



PINTEREST:

http://pinterest.com/sgburkhart/





BUY LINKS FOR THE HUNGARIAN:





AMAZON KINDLE:

http://www.amazon.com/Budapest-Moon-Book-One-ebook/dp/B003K15NG2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1317406212&sr=1-1



BARNES & NOBLE NOOK:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/budapest-moon-book-one-stephanie-burkhart/1029789952?ean=9781936000654&itm=4&usri=stephanie%2bburkhart



SONY EBOOKS

http://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/stephanie-burkhart/the-hungarian/_/R-400000000000000233152



ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS:

http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-budapestmoonbookonethehungarian-427260-139.html



PUBLISHER'S BUY LINK:

http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-87/%3Ci%3EBudapest-Moon-Book-One%3C-fdsh-i%3E-cln-/Detail.bok




a Rafflecopter giveaway

DINNER FOR TWO- A Queensbay Romance BY DREA STEIN BOOK BLAST





Dinner for Two

by Drea Stein



NOTE: THIS BOOK BLAST IS TO PROMOTE THE BOOKS FREE KDP DAYS

~~~~~~~~~~~~~



BLURB:



Sean and Darby love food - but is their relationship a recipe for disaster - Or a chance to make kitchen magic?



Find out in Dinner for Two, Book 1 in The Queensbay contemporary romance series



Sean Callahan was a hot shot big city chef whose high handed ways got him into trouble one too many times. Now he's in a small town hoping for another shot at the big leagues.



Darby Reese is a big city lawyer who can bake like an angel. Unfortunately, a life lived according to the law has left her burned out. So when the chance comes to run her family's deli in the small town of Queensbay, Darby's happy to take it.



But when Sean, the former chef du jour walks into her kitchen, she's definitely not prepared for sparks to fly. Will the two of them be able to find the recipe for happily ever after?



Book one in the Queensbay Series, a contemporary romance series.





~~~~~~~~~~~~~



EXCERPT:


Fancy meeting you here.” Sean Callahan’s voice floated up and she jumped, hitting her head on the inside of the counter.



It is my deli,” she said when she finally came up, resisting the urge to rub the back of her head where she had hit it. The look of amusement in Sean’s eye was enough to have her folding her hands across her chest and do her best to stare him down. Two days, she reminded herself. It had been two days since he had kissed her and nearly lifted her straight out of her socks.



I have the afternoon off tomorrow,” he said, grinning at her. “I was thinking, since you’re a hometown girl, that perhaps we could go on a drive, that maybe you could show me around a bit.”



Haven’t you already been here a couple of months?” she said. “Because this sounds like another one of your pick-up lines. Are you planning on running out of gas on Lover’s Lane?”



Never heard of it,” he said quickly and in a deadpan voice. It earned him a smile. “But I’ve been living in the hotel since I got here and I realized that I haven’t really left it, since I was so busy getting everything up and running with the restaurant. But finally, things are where I want them and I feel like I can, actually should, step back a little, see what the team at the restaurant can do without me. So I thought an afternoon off, with you, might be a nice way to test the theory out.”



Are you asking me out on a date?”



He shook his head. “If that’s what you want. Or,” he amended, before she could answer, “how about we call it me-asking-a-local-to-show-me-around outing. We can sit next to each other, in the car, and talk to each other, get to know one another.”



I already know you,” she pointed out, moving down the counter to straighten her jar of homemade granola.



He followed. “True, but I was hoping we could start over. Pretend that all the stuff in the past didn’t happen.”



~~~~~~~~~~~~~



AUTHOR Bio and Links:





Drea Stein is the author of the Queensbay contemporary romance series. She lives in rural New Jersey – yup, there really is such a thing – with her family and writes in an old barn. Visit her at www.dreastein.com or https://www.facebook.com/DreaSteinAuthor



http://www.amazon.com/Dinner-Two-Queensbay-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00HGWY6LO/
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Monday, September 29, 2014

HOT REBEL - A Hostile Operations Team Novel- BY LYNNE RAYE HARRIS


Summary

A rebel on the run…

Victoria Royal is a traitor. Or so the U.S. government believes. Victoria was once a promising sniper in the Army, but now she’s gone rogue—worse, she’s just landed in the middle of a Hostile Operations Team mission in the desert and blasted it all to hell.

Nick “Brandy” Brandon doesn’t expect to run into Victoria when he’s bugging out from a mission gone wrong. It’s been more than three years since she disappeared from the sniper course they were in together, and he’s finally stopped thinking about her killer curves and smart mouth.

But now she’s back—and she’s far more dangerous than Nick ever believed possible… Is she really a traitor? Or is there something more at stake? He has to decide fast—because time’s running out and too many lives hang in the balance…



 
Excerpt

Driven by some emotion she couldn’t name, Victoria turned and walked back over to Nick. He was frowning at her when she reached up and pulled his head down. She pressed her lips to his cheek, felt the roughness of his stubble and breathed the smell of him—sand, spice, and cool water—deep into her lungs.

“Thanks for saving me,” she said, her lips close to his ear.

She started to step away, but he caught her close and turned his head, his lips meeting hers. The contact was shocking—and delicious in a way she hadn’t anticipated. She’d been kissed before, but this… this was better than any of those kisses had been.

His mouth was soft and hard against hers, his hands firm on her hips as he held her against him. The kiss was hot and tame all at once. Simultaneously the most arousing and most chaste kiss she’d ever had. He didn’t force her mouth open, didn’t thrust his tongue between her lips—he just kissed her hard and thoroughly before setting her away from him and taking a step backward.

And, God, she wanted his tongue so badly now. Wanted to feel it sliding against her own, stroking her senses higher.

But the kiss was over and he was looking at her, his jaw firm and a hard look in his eyes.

“You’re welcome,” he said, and it took her a moment to remember that she’d thanked him for saving her.

“I… I have to go.” Her cheeks flamed as she said it because he knew she had to leave as well as she did. The car was running, and she’d left the door open. She took a step backward, and then another.

Then she turned and got inside the car, determined not to look at him again. But she failed because she looked up, her gaze clashing with his right as she closed the door. And she didn’t look away as they drove off. Nick didn’t move from the spot she’d left him standing in.

It was only when the car turned and he was out of sight that she remembered how to breathe.






Goodreads Link


Buy Links


Author Biography

USA Today bestselling author Lynn Raye Harris burst onto the scene when she won a writing contest held by Harlequin. A former finalist for the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart Award and the National Readers Choice Award, Lynn lives in Alabama with her handsome former military husband and two crazy cats. Lynn writes about hot military heroes, sizzling international billionaires, and the women who dare to tame them. Her books have been called "exceptional and emotional," "intense," and "sizzling." To date, Lynn's books have sold over 2 million copies worldwide.

Social Networking Links


a Rafflecopter giveaway

LOVE UNDERCOVER BY NANA PRAH VIRTUAL BLURB BLITZ + GIVEAWAY





Love Undercover

by Nana Prah



~~~~~~~~~~~~~



BLURB:



The last thing she expects is to fall in love with a prison guard…



Hotshot Secret Service Agent, Sarita Cerez is thrown into a medium security prison—for work. Her job is to protect the daughter of the president of South Korea. She never envisioned making friends with illegal immigrants or falling head over heels for one of the guards. Now the clandestine activity, which is integral to protecting her charge, may destroy her only chance at love.



He's never fraternized with the inmates—until he met her…



Matthew Carter always plays by the rules, which includes maintaining a strictly professional relationship with the inmates in his charge. But when Sarita saunters onto the unit, all bets are off. Her status as a deportee with a permanent ticket to Columbia means they can never be together, but try as he might, this doesn’t stop him from risking his career for her.



He's a man who values honesty above all else, and she lies for a living. Can two people from such different worlds find any common ground?



~~~~~~~~~~~~~



EXCERPT:

As inappropriate as the situation had turned out to be, Sarita was his. At least until she returned to Columbia in what? A few days? A week? No matter when, she would go. “No wife or girlfriend to hang out with.”



Her chest deflated with her released breath. He wished he could have taken her air into himself. I’m screwed. “What about you? Are you married or have a boyfriend waiting to break you out of here at the first opportunity?”



Her eyes blazed into his. “Single as single can be.”



The admission sparked something deep within him. He had to touch her. Nothing else mattered except having his fingers glide over her flawless mocha skin. The all-encompassing urge pushed him to stand.



With a controlled effort he strode to the area across from the television and leaned against the wall.



On every unit, one spot existed where neither the cameras nor inmates could see. Management knew about it, but the cost of adding a third camera would be too expensive for the facility to contemplate so they left it. At least that’s the story Matt had been told.



He’d never used the spot, but as he waited for her to join him, he couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.



He motioned her to him with a crook of his index finger. “Come here.”



~~~~~~~~~~~~~



AUTHOR Bio and Links:





Nana Prah is a multi-published author of contemporary, multicultural romance. Her books are sweet with a touch of spice. When she’s not writing she’s reading, indulging in chocolate, and enjoying life with friends and family.



Contact her



Blog : www.nanaprah.blogspot.com



Twitter: @NanaPrah



Facebook: Nana Prah, Author http://www.facebook.com/NanaPrah.Author



Goodreads: Nana Prah https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7202262.Nana_Prah



Google + : Nana Prah https://plus.google.com/u/0/+NanaPrah/posts


a Rafflecopter giveaway

DUETS/ MOLLY HARPER BY EMELLE GAMBLE SUPER BOOK BLAST + GIVEAWAY


Emelle will award a signed paperback of MOLLY HARPER with bonus novella DUETS included (US ONLY) to THREE randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Please click the tour banner at the top to see other stops on this tour.

DON'T FORGET BOTH BOOKS ARE FREE TODAY AND TOMORROW!!

Movie star Molly Harper has it all, beauty, success in her field, and a loving family and marriage to actor Ben Delmonico. Norma Wintz, Molly’s mother, has it all, a lovely life style and two children who adore her, and a respite from the battle against cancer she’s been fighting. Anne Sullivan, at age fifty, is optimistic that her move to sunny Santa Barbara, California, will allow her to be closer to her youngest son and his family, and help her start her life anew after the death of her beloved husband.

But all three of these women, despite their considerable blessings, are plunged into turmoil when the most intimate of secrets that ties their lives together is revealed. At this same time, Molly Harper is confronted with the news that her marriage to actor Ben Delmonico is over. As she navigates this heartbreak and tries to keep the personal details of the drama off the front pages of the newspapers, Molly must also find a way to once and forever negotiate a way forward with her ex- lover and best friend, the volatile and compelling Cruz Morales.

How each of these characters handles the resulting upheaval in their own life, and in their relationships with one another, forms the compelling story of family, secrets and trust in the romantic women’s fiction novel, Molly Harper.



DUETS offers alternating looks into the lives of two women who would seem to have little or nothing in common.

Screen star Molly Harper has it all…beauty, success in her profession, a loving family and an upcoming marriage to actor Ben Delmonico. But as Molly is on the verge of marrying the man who has swept her off her feet, she still wonders if he hasn’t swept all her feelings for her first love away, Cruz Morales.

A handsome and cerebral college professor, Molly and Cruz have an on-again, off-again history stretching back to Molly’s early teen years. He’s not a man who a girl can ever forget about, and his feelings for Molly are equally conflicted.

Anne Sullivan, happily married for twenty-five years, is fighting to hold onto the man she loves, and hold off a confrontation that could shatter her family’s image of what they are. It involves the beautiful screen star and her mother, upper crust matron Norma Wintz, who Anne has traveled to California to meet under the most dramatic of circumstances.

Duets confronts the most intimate type of family secret that ties these two women’s lives together, just as chance events turn Molly and Anne’s worlds upside down.

Enjoy an excerpt from DUETS:

Anne Sullivan looked down at her watch.

One twenty-one p.m. Norma Wintz was twenty minutes late.

Anne leaned back against the banquette and avoided making eye contact with the hovering waitress. She folded her hands together and wondered if her face looked tight as cellophane stretched over a bowl of tuna salad. That’s how it felt.

I shouldn’t have come. She glanced around the unfamiliar restaurant. It was all glass and mirrors; chock full of shockingly glamorous Californians surely leading shockingly exciting lives. People who wouldn’t understand why a widow from Potomac, Maryland was breaking into sobs and intruding on their lunch experience.

Which is probably what I’m going to do once Norma arrives, she thought. She had tried to prepare herself for meeting the woman, face-to-face, who had adopted her baby thirty-five years ago, but Anne wasn’t sure she was going to be able to handle it as she hoped.

Calmly. Dispassionately. In control.

Anne’s chest suddenly ached, as if all the emotion she’d suppressed for decades gathered into a knot under her ribs.

I should call the number for Norma Wintz and tell her not to come. Which was a great idea, except she’d left her cell phone in the car. And if she went to her car to get it, she might not have the emotional courage to come back.

To say nothing of the fact that if she walked the two long blocks to where she was parked, there was a good chance she would miss Norma Wintz altogether, and the woman would probably think she was a crack pot.

Anne took another peek at her watch.

One twenty-two.

That’s impossible. It felt as if an hour had passed since she’d last looked at the time.

“Excuse me, are you Mrs. Sullivan?” A waiter, his eyes jade green against his tan skin, smiled at Anne. His name tag read ‘Taj’.

“Yes, I’m Anne Sullivan."

“There’s a call for you.” Taj held out a phone.

Anne pressed it against her head. “This is Anne Sullivan.”

Taj clasped his hands behind his back and smiled at her as if she was a small child on the first day of school.

“Hello, this is Norma Wintz calling,” a voice said in Anne’s ear. “I’m on my way but there was an accident and traffic is wretched. I got no answer on the number you gave me, but I wanted to let you know I wasn’t standing you up.”

“Oh, that’s no problem.” Anne nodded at Taj and repositioned the phone an inch higher on her ear. “I don’t have other plans for this afternoon.”

“Fine. I’ll be there in about ten minutes.” The phone went dead.

“Okay. Thank you!” Anne met the waiter’s eyes and wondered how Taj had known to bring it to her.

Norma Wintz must have described me to him. But what could she have said, since we’ve never met? Look for a woman who seems the sort to give up her first-born child for adoption?


Emelle Gamble was a writer at an early age, bursting with the requisite childhood stories of introspection. These evolved into bad teen poetry and worse short stories. She took her first stab at full length fiction in an adult education writing class when her kids were in bed. As M.L. Gamble, she published several romantic suspense novels with Harlequin. She contracted with Soul Mate Publishing for Secret Sister, published in the summer of 2013, and Dating Cary Grant, an April 2014 release.

Once and Forever, an anthology which includes the novella Duets, came out on November 1st. Molly Harper, a full length novel starring the characters from Duets 3 years later was released by Posh Publishing in January, 2014. Duets is now available as a standalone novella. Emelle lives in suburban Washington D.C. with her husband, ‘Phil-the-fist’, her hero of thirty years, and two orange cats, Lucy and Bella. These girls, like all good villains, have their reasons for misbehaving.

Her daughter, Olivia, and son, Allen, are happily launched on their own and contributing great things to society, their mother’s fondest wish.

Review Quotes:

Praise for SECRET SISTER…

“Along with being a very unique and captivating plot, SECRET SISTER offers a shocking turn of the paranormal kind… This is a story of friendship, family, and most of all, true love and what those things can mean. I cannot recommend SECRET SISTER strongly enough… “ Fresh Fiction, Fresh Reviews

DUETS…

"I'll admit I grabbed this book for review more because Emelle Gamble had a story in there - I've loved her significant touch brought to family relationships in a previous book of hers that I've read, and I wanted to confirm if this sort of embroiled-relationships type of tale is really her niche or not. Turns out, it is!" Zee Monodee's Author's Corner reviews MOLLY HARPER…

"MOLLY HARPER ...is the first book I've read by this author, but it won't be my last! Ms. Gamble does a wonderful job of drawing these characters and making them just leap off the page." Long and Short Reviews

DATING CARY GRANT…

"Fantasy and reality blend together in this mesmerizing tale from Emelle Gamble…It's not your typical romance, making it a breath of fresh air in a market currently inundated with new adult contemporary romances (which I do love, but need a break once in a while!). I continue to be a fan of this author..." Andi's Book Reviews

Links:

Email: emellegamble@aol.com

Website: www.EmelleGamble.com

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/Emelle.Gamble

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EmelleGamble

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7123746.Emelle_Gamble

Emelle Gamble BOOKS:

DATING CARY GRANT book of the month at Long & Short Reviews. eBook exclusively at Amazon.com http://amzn.to/1iiE8Y0

SECRET SISTER… RONE Award Honorable Mention for BEST CONTEMPORARY NOVEL of 2013 available in audio, paperback and eBook at Amazon http://amzn.to/17J2Bn6

DUETS, a prequel novella to MOLLY HARPER, now available at Amazon http://amzn.to/1cagyNa

MOLLY HARPER, available in paperback and eBook at Amazon http://amzn.to/MOJUXa

MOLLY HARPER and DUETS now available in one Paperback volume! http://amzn.to/1hW6YSj

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

THE EARL'S PREGNANT BRIDE BY CHRISTINE RIMMER - A BOOK REVIEW


The Earl's Pregnant BrideThe Earl's Pregnant Bride by Christine Rimmer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Earl's Pregnant Bride by Christine Rimmer is a 2014 Harlequin Special Edition publication. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This story is an interesting take on the friends to lovers trope. Genevra was destined to marry Edward and Hartmore would be hers, the thing she longed for more than anything. But, when Edward dies in a car accident Gen turns to Edward's brother, Rafe. Rafe and Gen has always been the best of friends so an interlude that took place mostly out of a feeling of loss may have been something the couple put behind them until Gen discovers she is pregnant.
There is nothing left for her to do but find Rafe and tell him he is about to be father. Rafe of course insist upon doing the honorable thing and so the two get married. But, the marriage appears doomed from the start. Will, the two continue on in a kind of limbo or will they manage to find the truth in their hearts and admit they not only love each other, but are IN love with each other?

A couple of things that gave me problems was that Rafe is in love with Gen , we know that from the start, but in intimate moments he shared with Gen, he seems formal and aloof , lacking passion. Rafe does improve in that area in the HEA moments, but still needed to loosen up a little. The story sometimes lagged in places and moved just bit too slowly.

What did work was Gen's ability to help Rafe overcome his guilt, talk him into having some work done to help heal the physical scars he suffered in the car accident and the couple realizing they were meant to be together all along. Gen's obsession with Hartmore lessens considerably when she finds out the hard way what is really important in life. The one thing which is tearing at Rafe the most will finally be revealed and the couple will now have the chance to be happy. The secondary characters were well drawn, each contributing a difficulty to Gen's finding happiness and there is Geoffrey who will tug at your heart strings because of his mother's coldness toward him. When all is said and done, all the players will either find a way to improve themselves or they will get their just desserts. So, while the romance in this one didn't exactly sizzle and burn it was still a testament to true love and story worth sharing. Over all this one gets 4 stars.



New York Times bestselling author Christine Rimmer has written more than ninety contemporary romances for Harlequin Books. She has won Romantic Times BOOKreview’s Reviewer’s Choice Award for best Silhouette Special Edition. She has been nominated six times for the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award and five times for Romantic Times Series Storyteller of the Year.

A California native who first longed to be an actress, Christine earned her theater degree from California State, Sacramento and then went to New York to study acting. Later, she moved to Southern California, where she began her writing career with short stories, plays, and poems. Her poems and short stories were published in a number of small literary journals. Her plays were produced at The Back Alley and Group Theaters in Southern California and have been published by Dramatists Play Service and West Coast Plays.

She now lives in Oregon with her family and two very contented cats named Tom and Ed.  

Saturday, September 27, 2014

MAZIE BABY BY JULIE FRAYN - A BOOK REVIEW ONLY 99 CENTS FOR A LIMITED TIME


Mazie BabyMazie Baby by Julie Frayn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mazie Baby by Julie Frayn is a 2014 independent publication. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Reading the blurb gave me an idea what I as about to read , so going in I knew the subject matter was difficult and had prepared myself for it emotionally. Domestic violence is something I work to educate women about and I admire the author for taking on the challenge of writing about such a dark topic.

Mazie is the prototype of spousal abuse. “He wasn't always like this” is something I have heard countless times. Mazie gradually finds herself and her daughter trapped in a nightmarish prison when Mazie's husband, Cullen, becomes a monster of epic proportions. His anger and violence has begun to escalate to the point where Mazie's life hangs in the balance with each passing day. But, when the threat to her shifts over to her twelve year old daughter, Ariel, Mazie finds the strength to fight back. What happens next is stunning.

Mazie finds herself jumping from the frying pan into the the fire as she takes her daughter and runs. Life on the run is fraught with edgy suspense . I found myself holding my breath as Mazie attempts to make a life for herself and her daughter, while constantly looking over her shoulder. I was impressed with how the author built the suspense and then had me relaxing a little, then raising the level back up to a fever pitch.

I came to care for Mazie, moved past my judgments of her choices and actions, and saw the character for the strength and courage she managed to gather in order to save her child. No, she didn't do things by the book, but thankfully Mazie realizes she was never really alone, that people did notice, did care, and now they are willing to help her in any way they can. That knowledge may have haunted her after all was said and done, because Mazie truly did feel alone in her battle with Cullen.

Mazie is quite fortunate to fall in with some wonderful people and she is able to face her demons, pay her debt, and I think she will find herself using her horrific experiences to help others find the courage to change the situation they find themselves in. In the end I cheered her on and although I knew she had a long road ahead of her I believed she was a survivor and no matter what, Ariel's life was spared because of Mazie.

The depictions of violence are graphic and disturbing, nothing is held back. The emotional affect on Ariel was abuse in and of itself even if she was not physically abused yet. She was headed toward that reality as Cullen became bored with Mazie. We often question the reasons why a woman stays in a violent relationship. There are some who look the other way and engage in victim blaming. I did, of course wanted to scream to Mazie that she needed to remove her daughter from that environment and do it like yesterday. It was hard to witness Ariel living this way and having to grow up so fast, living with the same fear her mother did. Ariel knows too much and has seen too much for a girl her age. We do know Mazie was working on some kind of plan but things were spiraling out of control faster than she could get her ducks lined up.
Mazie's choice was extreme to say the least and I'm not glorifying her actions, but I did understand them.
Overall, Mazie's journey , while harrowing, was realistically depicted, and in the end inspirational, ending on a high note and sense of peace. Now Mazie can really look forward to what lies ahead without the past hanging over her, she has a real chance at happiness and the opportunity to make things up to her daughter and help others like herself.
I confess I went through a myriad of emotions while reading this book. This is a well written novel that tells a story which could have turned into a preachy platitude, without ever taking a step in that direction. The drama unfolded in real time and the reader follows along, sometimes helplessly, and experiences first hand the life and death struggle Mazie faced, the danger, the suspense, the support, the fear, the love, and the ultimate feeling of relief... yes, I nearly wept with it. A powerful character study and a must read novel!
5 stars
Julie Frayn pens award-winning novels and short stories that pack a punch. And a few stabs.

Julie’s first novel, Suicide City, a Love Story, won two gold medals in the 2013 Authorsdb cover contest. Her second, It Isn’t Cheating If He’s Dead, is the Books and Pals 2014 Readers’ Choice winner for women’s fiction, and she won honourable mention in the NYC Midnight 2014 short story challenge.

A bean counter by day, Julie revels in the written word. When she is not working or writing, she spends as much time as possible with her two children (grown adults, really), while they still think she’s cool. Follow her at www.twitter.com/juliefrayn and subscribe to her blog at www.juliefrayn.com.
 
 
 


DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FACTS
WHY IT MATTERS
Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another. It is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background.
Violence against women is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior, and thus is part of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence results in physical injury, psychological trauma, and sometimes death. The consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and truly last a lifetime.

THE KILLING OF KAREN SILKWOOD-The Story Behind the Kerr- McGee Plutonium Case by RICHARD RASHKE


The Killing of Karen Silkwood: The Story Behind the Kerr-McGee Plutonium CaseThe Killing of Karen Silkwood: The Story Behind the Kerr-McGee Plutonium Case by Richard Rashke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Killing of Karen Silkwood by Richard Rashke is a 2014 Open Road Integrated Media publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange in the for an honest review.

The Karen Silkwood case is one many of you may have seen depicted in a movie starring Kurt Russell and Meryl Streep. This book was originally published back in 1981 and is now being released in digital format with a few updates.

The introduction attempts to draw a parallel between Karen Silkwood and the now notorious whistle blower, Eric Snowden. But, for me the only thing the two had in common was they were both whistle blowers and both allegedly took sensitive documents and therefore broke the law.
The similarity ends there. I'm not sure why this was added to the introduction except to perhaps freshen it up for the reissue , but I didn't think the comparison was a good one in this is case.

The information was well organized and thankfully did not bounce back and forth in time. We start with a little background on Karen and how she came to work for the plant in Oklahoma. We follow her through her days of gathering information, to the car wreck and then the fall out. There are periods in the book that are so dry it is hard to stay focused. It was like reading a technical manual or something. Then we get into the FBI and the incredible saga that was , but it took the focus off of the main story with all the players trying to jockey for power and control and journalist and authors getting dragged into the mix, I almost forgot we were trying to solve a possible murder and expose the motive for the crime. Then we finally enter the trial phase and this will really get to you. Again so much legal wrangling, the wins, then loses, and the final result was just anti-climatic.

The Cimarron Plant , for those who are wondering, was a plutonium manufacturing plant operated by Kerr- McGee from 1965-1975. When 40 pounds of plutonium went missing there was a massive coverup and Karen Silkwood's poking around made someone really nervous. When Karen became contaminated, the company went so far as to claim she did so on purpose to make the company look bad. But, Karen's dogged determination to uncover the truth and expose the dangers in the plant that could have led to many deaths, may have been a contributing factor in her own death.

In 1974 Karen was on her way to a meeting with a reporter from the New York Times. She never made it. She was killed in a single car “accident” before she could completely blow the lid off the inner working of the plant. From that day forward Karen's friends and family became convinced Karen was ran off the road deliberately and was also contaminated deliberately.

Strange coincidental accident? Drugs and alcohol? She fell asleep at the wheel? Or was it something far more sinister? How did Karen become contaminated? We will never really know for sure. What happened to the plutonium? A clerical error is the official explanation, but the entire situation is as murky as the Mississippi River.

Now, I like a good conspiracy theory like anyone else. Sometimes there is enough tangible proof that what the public is being told is not all there is to it or it's a total damage control situation. Mostly though conspiracy theories are spun because of the inability to believe a person died they way they did. Did Marilyn really overdose on pills? Was Princess Diana's accident staged? Sometimes things happen just the way it's reported. But, in this case, there is ample proof that something was rotten in Denmark. From the mysterious way the car went off the road, to the unexplained dents in the side, to the company simply refusing to give answers , the all out smear campaign by the FBI on those investigating the allegations and the mountains of paperwork and court documents, the years the case lingered through the legal system with more losses than wins. The hair should stand up on the back of your neck when you think of the ramifications if only one quarter of the information is accurate. Whatever happened to that missing plutonium? That really bugs me, obviously.

Although I do think the case reeks of a cover up and that Karen Silkwood died under the most suspicious of circumstances there were some theories spun in the book that went beyond belief. Conjecture and facts sometimes have to mix to give us the whole picture, but when you throw out wild theories with legitimate facts you lose some credibility.

The frustrating thing about this case is that after years and years of litigation the case just kind of fizzles out. We will never get the whole story of what happened to Karen that night her car went off the road, or the missing plutonium, and those who should have done the right thing will walk away scot free leaving behind a devastated family and friends as well as a very high rate of cancer diagnosis in the area surrounding the plant.

I do wish we could have gotten to know Karen a little better. Her likes, dislikes and what moved her or motivated her. I think she was a little quirky and had a lot of problems, her job and what she knew about the day to day operations at the plant certainly didn't help her health and the contamination, despite mixed test results may have been the death knell for her years in the future if she had lived.

This case is one of the most frustrating cases I have ever read about. So, little was ever really proven, so many red herrings, so many dead ends and stonewalling and manipulations. A life cut short and all her secrets buried with her, Karen Silkwood still remains a figure of mystery, a women admired for her tenacity and courage and an inspiration to many. 3.5 stars rounded to 4


Richard Rashke is the author of nonfiction books including The Killing of Karen Silkwood  and the forthcoming Useful Enemies. His books have been translated into eleven languages and have been adapted for screen and television. Rashke is also a produced screenwriter and playwright; his work has appeared on network television and in New York.

Friday, September 26, 2014

THE SUMMER WIND BY MARY ALICE MONROE- A BOOK REVIEW

 
 
The Summer WindThe Summer Wind by Mary Alice Monroe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Summer Wind by Mary Alice Monroe is a 2014 Gallery Books Publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Full disclosure: I have not read the other book in this series and I am going out and immediately rectifying that gaff. Having said that, this book obviously can be read as a stand alone. Naturally, reading in order is always the best way to go, but you can dive right in with this and get the gist of the situation.
I love stories like one. I was there on Sea Breeze, enjoying the stellar company and living through the transformation Dora goes through right along with her. There is a lot going on in this story and it's much deeper than what appears on the surface. I loved the dolphins and the emotional attachment Nate and Carson had to them. Animals are simply wonderful and I thought the dolphin story was a life lesson and cathartic as well. Dora and her marital home seem to be a parallel to one another. Her marriage is over and work has begun on dismantling all that remained of it.
When Dora's beloved grandmother invites her three granddaughters to visit Sea Breeze for the summer it's more than just an invitation. Maw Maw is thinking of selling and this could be the last chance to spend time there. Over the years the three half sisters, Dora, Harper, and Carson have drifted apart. Maw Maw hopes to bring them closer together and is not above using some mild manipulations to do so. In this second book of the series the main focus is on Dora and her special needs son, Nate. Nate is autistic and has Asperger's Syndrome. When Dora has a medical scare she is forced to make some changes in her life and her Maw Maw and two sisters are determined to encourage her the best they can.
Carson is sober now, but still not as mature as she should be by this time, but she does a really wonderful thing for Nate and Dora. A shocking development though could bring things into focus for Carson once she manages to accept it.
Harper is a few years younger and has a cold mother and wealth which brings many suitors, none of them really interested in Harper, but more in her royal lineage and money. Maw Maw will also learn her best friend Lucy is going through a health crisis and not only will her granddaughter's need her, she will need them as well.

This is the perfect book to take to the beach but it's a good book to just curl up with in the afternoon with big glass of iced tea. I enjoyed watching Dora come alive for the first time in her life. She slowly blossoms with the help of an old boyfriend and her sisters. She learns to give her son a little breathing room and stop living her life “by the book” and doing what is expected of her. There is drama, romance, laughter and tears, human frailties and emotional twist. Overall a very compelling and thought provoking read. This one is recommended to those who enjoy Women's fiction of Chick lit especially. 4.5 stars


New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe found her true calling in environmental fiction when she moved to coastal South Carolina. Already a successful author, she was captivated by the beauty and fragility of her new home. Her experiences living in the midst of a habitat that was quickly changing gave her a strong and important focus for her books.

Mary Alice Monroe writes richly textured books that delve into the complexities of interpersonal relationships and the parallels between the land and life. Monroe’s novels are published worldwide. She has achieved many lists, including the New York Times, USA Today and SIBA. She has received numerous awards, including several Readers’ Choice Awards, RT Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing and was featured at the National Festival of the Book. In 2011 THE BUTTERFLY'S DAUGHTER won the International Book Award for Green Fiction.

Mary Alice is an active conservationist and serves on the Board of the South Carolina Aquarium, The Leatherback Trust, and Charleston Literacy Volunteers. She is a frequent speaker at book festivals, conferences, and private events.

Monroe lives with her family on a barrier island outside Charleston, South Carolina. Her new novel, BEACH HOUSE MEMORIES (May 2012), is the prequel to her bestseller THE BEACH HOUSE and completes her first trilogy.

For more information, videos, contests and more, visit her official website: www.maryalicemonroe.com.