A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Sunday, September 29, 2013


Crazy Rich: Power, Scandal, and Tragedy Inside the Johnson & Johnson DynastyCrazy Rich: Power, Scandal, and Tragedy Inside the Johnson & Johnson Dynasty by Jerry Oppenheimer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Crazy Rich: Power, Scandal, and Tragedy Inside the Johnson & Johnson Dynasty by Jerry Oppenheimer is a Macmillian/ St. Martin's Press publication. This book was released in August 2013.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the DRC of this book.

As the title of the book indicates the focus of this book is on the various members of the Johnson & Johnson family and the scandals and tragedies that have beset them.

We were given a brief history of how the company got it's start, then we moved on to the marriages, children, and various accidents, deaths, drug additions, health issues, affairs, trials, and other family dramas and traumas.

Before I read this book, I had little knowledge of the history of the family. The only thing I was vaguely aware of was that Woody Johnson owned the New York Jets and that he had a daughter that died young.

I did find the history interesting up to a point, but I really struggled to get through this one.
As the rap song says: "Mo Money, Mo Problems" , I would have to agree. This family's wealth was astounding. Not one of them seemed capable of maintaining a stable relationship. There were epic court battles over wills, and paternity suits, as well as numerous marriages and divorces.
Compared to the Kennedy's in terms of tragedies, the Johnson family had more than it's share.

There were some interesting tidbits in the book, but it got a bit dull when it seemed that history just seemed to repeat itself.
I don't understand this lifestyle and can not imagine the type of wealth involved. By the same token, I don't think the Johnson's could in any way relate to most of us. Casey Johnson took a trip to a supermarket once. It amazed her. She had never been inside a grocery store before because everything was delivered to them.
Woody thought that his money could by a cure for his daughter's diabetes. He wanted her well, right now, as though she had a common cold or something.
While moderately interesting, it didn't hold my attention all the way through. It was actually hard to get to the end due to it's being redundant.
I also finished it with a bit of a depressed feeling. There was no happiness it seems for any of these people.
While we often dream of winning the big lotto and becoming fabulously wealthy, you might change your mind after reading this book. Just like the saying goes- Money won't buy happiness.

Overall this one is a C.

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My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Broken Dreams and Bottom Lines is a self published 2013 release. I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Simplicity is the single mother of two young children. Her boyfriend, Richard, just dumped her. Her career is at a standstill and her dream of being a published author is met with rejection after rejection. Liss, as she is known to those close to her, is also flat broke. Her parents are not very supportive and her mother doesn't care how badly Liss is treated by Richard, just so long as Liss marries a doctor with some financial security. It also doesn't occur to her mother that her grandchildren might not flourish in that type of marriage. But, as bad as things are for Liss, her friends that are better off financially and career wise are no happier. So, Liss takes to her blog to vent about relationships and the myth of "Mr. Right" and happily ever after, and life in general. So, with one friend angry at being passed over for a promotion and nearing a milestone birthday, rethinking the career over family decision she made, and another friend showing all the signs of a breakdown, and another that is headed for divorce, the women bond together to drink too much, yell, cry, and laugh, generally support each other and try to advice and help. But one of Simplicity's friends has a brother named James that has made a blunt, cruel statement to Liss after her breakup with Richard. Liss takes it very personally and can't get the comment out of her mind. So, James gets added to the jerk list. Simplicity is disillusioned and had come to the conclusion that the reality of real life is nothing like what she had dreamed it would be. However, all is not as bleak as it appears.Along the way, Liss learns that she may not get the doctor or financial security like her friends, but she does have talent as an author, she is a good mother, and has good friends, and she learns how to stand up for herself and prioritize things so that maybe, just maybe, there may be a little bit of that fairytale in her life after all. If you like Bridget Jones's Diary or Sex in the City, you will enjoy this book. Instead of a diary or newspaper column, Liss writes on her blog. We get to read her blog post along the way. I got very frustrated with all the girls at one time or another. Liss just kept on trying to sabotage her love life by holding on to a guy that was making it all too clear that they just weren't on the same page. But, Liss was at a time in her life when she was beginning to feel like time was moving too fast and she had to have it all and have it right now. Her friends were also guilty of this attitude. Well, you know how the song goes: You can't always get what you want. But, as we draw to the close of the book it looks like Liss might have learned to have more realistic expectations and he will be much happier as a result. If you like chick lit, contemporary romance and maybe even women's fiction, this one would appeal to you. Love, heartbreak, disappointment, tears and laughter combine to make a compelling story. Overall this one gets a B+.
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About Darel Pace

I'm a storyteller compelled to take you on journeys. I started writing at the age of 5 or 6. When my siblings spent their pocket money on sweets, I used to buy notebooks and dream of being like Enid Blyton or Roald Dahl. By the time I was 7 I had written a 22 page story. By 10 I had written Who Framed Roger Rabbit 2 (complete with drawings) and by 15 I had written my first novel. I love stories - I just can't stop. Being creative makes me happy.

In addition to storytelling, I am also a parent and a teacher. I have two wonderful children who have grown into moody teenagers. At least, they will be moody when they read this! And luckily for them, I teach at their school in the beautiful Somerset countryside.

My life has always been eventful; too much to share here - in fact, I think there might be another novel in it somewhere... but I am lucky to have a wonderful family and friends, a life filled with laughter, imagination and travel, and a home in a place I love.

Although I am probably being a bit polite; catch me later and I'll probably moan about how it is all rubbish and I'm planning to jet off to the Bahamas... You'll be able to tell because my next novel will be set on a beach.Broken Dreams and Bottom LinesBroken Dreams and Bottom Lines by Darel Pace

Saturday, September 28, 2013


A Born VictimA Born Victim by R.P. Rochford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Born Victim by R.P. Rochford is a 2013 self published release. I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

"I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction"- Dalai Lama XIV

A Born Victim begins with the story of Gill. Gill is a single mother of two and if it weren't for bad luck, she would have no luck, as the saying goes. Gill has been a victim of abuse from childhood all the way up to the present where she is now being bullied in the workplace.

Her boss informs her she is a distraction and fires her, only to take her to his place and coerce her into bed.

Gill can't find work in any other way now but as a house cleaner.

Meanwhile, there have been a some very sadistic murders of young women and Mike Watson and Lucy Taylor are investigating.
Mike has uncovered some gruesome cyber crimes that involves abusing women and somehow this connects to the murdered women and to Gill.

When it becomes apparent that Gill is the target of a murder plot, a man she works for gets drawn into the melee when his house is the location Gill nearly gets murdered. Now on the run, it's a race against the clock as Mike and Lucy attempt to connect the dots and track down the team of sick sadist responsible.

This mystery/thriller never has a dull moment. Not only is this a mystery with a great deal of action and depth, but it deals with some of today's most disturbing crimes involving the internet and cyber crimes.
This book is not for the faint of heart. Some of the crimes are just sick.
I found myself sitting up in a rigid position while my stomach was in knots wondering who to trust and whether or not Gill was going to survive this odd situation she found herself in.

I was also impressed with the contrast the author used to show the difference between evil, perverted men and the good guys. The character of Greg, the man Gill cleans for, is an example of how one good positive relationship can make all the difference to a person that has never known a man to really be respectful and gentle and caring.

We were also given a bit of a psychology lesson on why society, or rather some in society, have such a low opinion of women and treat with them as second class citizens that do not need to be respected.

The author not only thrilled us with a very imaginative plot, but touched on some issues such as workplace bullying, domestic violence, and cyber crimes.

The writing was paced just right to build suspense and character development. We watch as Gill begins to realize she is a person that is due respect and that she has the strength within to stand up and fight against those that try to push her around.

Overall this one is a good solid A.

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Friday, September 27, 2013


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Finding Esta by Shah Wharton is the first book in the "Supes" series. This book was released in December 2012. WorldSync in the publisher. There are 360 pages. Luna is an empath. She has had a very difficult life. She can't be outdoors in the sun, her parents are cruel, her only friends were "Shadows" (ghost), and she is incredibly awkward socially. She is employed at a newspaper, and when a story comes to her attention that involves a family that vanished and a kidnapped child, Luna decides to look into it. She hopes that she will uncover the truth and make her parents proud of her- finally. But when Luna begins her investigation it leads her on a grueling path to self discovery. Luna comes face to face with her destiny and is ill equipped to deal with it on an emotional level. However, she doesn't have a lot of time to stop and reflect. She has to be strong and do the right thing for herself and the future. Luna learns she has an inner strength she never knew she possessed. But, she still yearns for a real family that loves her just the way she is. This is an adventure story, a paranormal romance, a story full of symbolism and allegory, sad, touching, and  an absolute page turner. When you read this book you may feel a bit empathic yourself. I could feel Luna's pain, dealing with her awkwardness, her being different from others, her desperate desire to be loved, and the determination to rise to the occasion and fight for her life and do the right thing. As we left Luna, we know that her journey has really only just begun. I can not wait for the next book in the series. The writing is vivid and bold, very descriptive and the reader is easily drawn into a world like no other. Overall this one gets an A.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Savage Deception by Lynette Vinet in a Steel Magnolia Press Publication.
Savage DeceptionSavage Deception by Lynette Vinet
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Savage Deception by Lynette Vinet was originally published by Zebra and is now being re-released by Steel Magnolia Press in digital format.
Diana is encouraged to marry Kingsley by her sister, Anne. They are of the same station in life and Kingsley shows himself as a good man, but when Diana sees Tanner, a common laborer and the bastard half brother of her fiancé, she feels things she never thought were possible.
When Tanner and Diana find themselves alone, Tanner can not control his passion. But, the two are discovered in a compromising position by none other that Kingsley.

Tanner is punished and Diana is still set to marry Kingsley, so Tanner leaves the estate.
But, Diana's marriage is horrible. Kingsley abuses her and punishes her at every opportunity. When Diana's father in law discovers the truth, he banishes Kingsley from his home. But, Kingsley goes to war and dies a hero.

Now, Diana’s sister and brother in law are in trouble, and when she is told of a man that could help free her brother in law, the last person on earth she imagined seeing again was Tanner.

Tanner has never forgotten Diana. He has tried every way he knew how. Now, no longer a poor laborer, but a man of vast wealth and connections, he feels he can win Diana’s love.
Naturally, things do not start off so well for the couple. Not only are there several misunderstandings but both of them are keeping very dangerous secrets.
After Diana and Tanner marry, a marriage in name only for Diana, Tanner learns of his half brother’s cruelty to Diana and promises to show her how true love can be. Just when Diana begins to relax with Tanner and realize he really loves her and that their marriage could work, their secrets are exposed and a wedge is driven between them that they may never recover from.

This was an excellent historical romance. There were some difficult passages in the beginning, but it doesn’t last for long and then the story takes a very different turn. Watching Tanner win Diana over is sighing worthy.
The war and the intrigue that Tanner and Diana are involved in, makes the book suspenseful and toward the end when a huge twist comes into play, you will find you are on pins and needles.
Tanner is just dreamy. Wow! What a guy. Diana wasn’t one of those whining females either. She started out being a bit fragile which was perfectly understandable, but she really grows as a person and with Tanner’s love and patience becomes confident.
This book was so entertaining and how I wish, wish, wish they still wrote historical romances like this one.
I am so happy that Steel Magnolia Press is releasing many of Lynette’s backlist in digital format.

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Gypsy BondGypsy Bond by Lindy Corbin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Gypsy Bond is a Steel Magnolia Press publication. This book was released in January 2012. There are 45 pages.

Juliet fell in love with the 'gypsy', Marko and the two were married in a ceremony honored by Marko's people. But, when Juliet's family hears of the situation, they try to marry her off to an older man. Marko leaves the area, but Juliet continues to keep her wedding vows of forsaking all others. When she learns Marko is back, she demands to take her place as his wife.
Marko doesn't think Juliet would really want to live his gypsy lifestyle and tries to forget her. But, when Juliet's bothersome brother once more attempts to marry her off, Marko must make a choice.

Sometimes for me short stories are hit or miss. Some are very good and some just skip over too many details and characters never really develop. I was little concerned when I saw how short this one was. However, this was an enjoyable read and certainly not a bad way to spend your down time. No, there isn't really anything earth shattering or unique about it, but it didn't have that rushed through feeling that turns me off short stories. A nice break time escape. This one gets a C+.

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Saturday, September 21, 2013


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A Dragon's Heart by Tamelia Tumlin is a Steel Magnolia Press Publication. This book was released in 2013. This is the second book is the Gatekeepers series. This book is really a novella with about 100 pages.  Elena's sister, Isabel, has gone missing in the Rio area. Zeke, the air dragon shifter is implored to help Elena look for her sister. Against his better judgment, he agrees. Helping humans is not his job. But, while out on the Amazonia, Zeke and Elena learn that her sister has been kidnapped and taken through a portal. It is forbidden humans to pass through the portal and Zeke will not take Elena there. Desperate, and with a little help, Elena crosses anyway. Now Zeke must find her and if she is still alive he will have to see that she stands trial for entering the portal. But, Elena finds her sister and discovers was kidnapped as part of a human trafficking scheme. Zeke takes his responsibilities as an air dragon and gatekeeper seriously. He is stickler for rules. He has been engaged for most of his life and now he finds his attraction to Elena particularly bitter. He has no desire to marry the woman he is engaged to. But, he is honor bound to marry her and refuses to shame the woman or their two families.  But, there is no denying that Zeke has feelings for Elena and she for him. Zeke is willing to give up  his principles and deal with the aftermath of his decisions, if it means he can keep Elena safe. For the only way to keep her from prison and maybe even death if for him to marry her. I loved the first story in this series. This one was good, but it lacked something. I think the brevity of the book in this case was a hinderance. For all her determination to help her sister, Elena's sister uttered maybe a whole sentence in the book and the two never saw each other outside  of being kidnapped together. <br />The romance was way too rushed, sort of tacked on at the very end.  This series has potential, and I believe there is a third book out in this series. I think a few added pages would help these stories develop better.  There are lots of angles and stories that could come from this set up.  This was enjoyable enough. I took a little break and finished it pretty quick. It will certainly take you way from anything too serious or heavy. I give this one a C.
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Friday, September 20, 2013


The sleepy town of Liberty hasn’t seen murder in…well…ever. Residents are stunned when the body of a young woman is found strangled, and reporters at the Liberty Chronicle are thrilled, rather disturbingly, over the biggest news story to hit town this century. Lizzie Hart has even bigger problems. Lately, she can’t seem to concentrate on her job as copy editor at the Chronicle with the new hunky investigative reporter, Blake Morgan, swaggering around the office. How can a girl work when she’s using all of her energy combating Blake-induced hot flashes and struggling to repress the giggly inner schoolgirl that’s constantly rearing her dorky head? It’s a good thing that Blake barely knows Lizzie exists. After an odd string of events, however, Lizzie begins to wonder if Blake is really as fabulous as she has fantasized. When Lizzie and Blake find a co-worker dead, Blake’s personality changes completely—and not in a good way. Even though the police rule the death as an accident, Lizzie immediately suspects foul play and senses a connection to the recent murder. She is determined to bring the killer to justice, but is having some trouble getting her Nancy Drew on thanks to the pesky stalker she’s picked up—Blake Morgan. Wait, didn’t she want him to follow her around and pay attention to her? Not like this. Blake has turned from cool and smooth to cold and downright scary, making Lizzie wonder if he should be next on her suspect list. Buy It's Just a Little Crush by Caroline Fardig Amazon Barnes & Noble About the Author CAROLINE FARDIG was born and raised in a small town in Indiana. Her working career has been rather eclectic thus far, with occupations including schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom. Finally realizing that she wants to be a writer when she grows up, Caroline has completed her first novel, It’s Just a Little Crush, and is currently hard at work churning out a second novel in the series. She still lives in that same small town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.
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Tuesday, September 17, 2013


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Nothin' to Lose: The Making of KISS (1972-1975) by Ken Sharp with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley is an IT/ HarperCollins publication. This book was released in September 2013. There are 560 pages with photographs
Nothin To Lose
Before I had a baby
I didn't care anyway
I thought about the back door
I didn't know what to say
But once I got a baby
I tried everyway
She didn't wanna do it
She did it anyway
But baby please don't refuse
You know you got nothing to lose
Lyrics to Nothin to lose by KISS
 The book starts way back when Paul and Gene first meet. The first group they were in- Wicked Lester, then the formation of KISS. The influence of groups like "The Brats" and "The New York Dolls" on them. Slowly we work our way up to the release of KISS ALIVE!, and the hit song "Rock and Roll All Night". For many diehard KISS fans that have read everything they could get their hands on, this book might be just a rehash of the same old, same old. But, although I was a KISS fan from way back, I didn't read any books about the band before this one. So, for me this book was like a trip down memory lane. It had the feel of a group of guys and gals sitting around talking about the good ole days. This book wasn't really written in the dry biography fashion so many performance arts books are written in. The majority of the book was a collage of interviews and stories from the people that lived through that time with the band. The roadies, the managers, the promoters, the opening acts, the bands the group opened for, the road experience, the first recording contract, the issues with the label, the slow process of making it in the music business is all covered. KISS was a very hard working band. Their makeup and costumes worked for them with the fans that were blown away by the live shows, but worked against them when it came to getting air play on the radio. People didn't know what to make of  them. There was also the criticism of other musicians that felt that the group's outrageous stage show and the entertainment first attitude was putting music way down the list. KISS was never thought of as a band that broke ground musically. In my opinion though I thought their music was no worse, (or better) than other hard rock type music you heard in the seventies. KISS was a group that was needed for that time. The sixties and the seriousness of the lyrics in music, such as war and violence etc. was beginning to lose it's passion and people were ready to kick off the social conscience of the times and party a little bit. KISS was perfect for that. Sometimes people just want to have a good time and see a show and be entertained. There are lots of groups and singers etc. that are more focused on the music and when we want that we will buy that music or go to those concerts. KISS put on one hell of a good show. Early on they realized the fans were what it would be about for them. The music industry has never acknowledged KISS in that way. Sort of like the Academy Awards will never give a blockbuster action movie that raked in millions at the box office, a nomination for an award. But, there has never been a band like this one before or since. My favorite story in the book was about the visit to Cadillac High School. The writing wasn't really "writing" if you will, since it was a mainly a collection of stories from people involved with the group. Most of the stories were told by Gene and Paul and I guess that's way their names are on the cover as co-authors. (They didn't really write anything, but they were obviously the main contributors)I also enjoyed the stories about the group Rush and  the help KISS gave the group in terms of how things should work on the road and so forth. There were also some really good pictures in here as well. Old photos of the band from way back and other bits of nostalgia. I found the book entertaining and for me many of these stories were new. I have read some reviews of this book that stated this was nothing new to them. But, if you are that big of a fan, you may want to at least give the book a try since so many of these stories are told by the actual people who were there. These are actual quotes and told in first person. The book is rather long and there were times when I had to put it down and read something else for a while. I think some things could have been edited out without compromising anything, but I think all the stories were chosen for a reason by either the main author or the members of the band. Overall I give this one an A. Thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for the DRC of this book.
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Sunday, September 15, 2013


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Bone Deep by Debra Webb is a Pink House publication. This book was released in 2013. I picked this one up in the Kindle lending library.<br /><br />Jill's twin sister, Kate is in the hospital, horribly beaten, catatonic, and accused of killing her husband and hurting her child. But, Jill, an attorney, is certain there must be a mistake. Calling on an old friend for help, she is introduced to Paul. Paul is gifted with the extra sensory perception that enables him to get a feeling about what is going on with people. But, he is tormented by a mistake that cost people their lives. He no longer works for the FBI, but does his old friend a favor by meeting with Jill. Returning to her hometown, Jill is reminded of why she left in the first place. Her mother hasn't left her home since her father died, the mayor can't stand her and everyone else always confuses her with Kate. The entire town seems on edge, as though they know something about Kate and her son they aren't willing to share. Even Jill's mother behaves as if Jill should just drop the whole thing and quit making waves. The only person that seems to think Jill has a point, is Paul. However, the two of them don't really get off to a good start with one another. But, when Jill's probing gets the town stirred up, Jill finds she is in danger. One way or another Jill has to be shut up.  This was a taut suspense novel that reminds us that we should never forget the past. History can repeat itself and often does. So, before you begin to think the plot is so much science fiction, go back and do a little research about experiments on twins in the Nazi concentration camps. The premise was chilling. It is possible that some private organizations could fund such experiments today. Catering to those desperate for a child or to those who want the perfect child and are willing to pay for it, this novel opens up a plethora of very real possibilities. Even the name of the town, Paradise, seems to suggest some allegory. The suspense area of the book was fantastic. The romance however, was just not happening for me. The scene when the two finally act on their feelings was just flat out silly. These two had been through unbelievable sorrow and fear. It just didn't seem right for them to behave in such a manner and was out of character for both of them.  They deserved a more romantic scene. The ending was rushed also, in my opinion. While the author leaves us with a very unsettling thought, some things weren't not explained well enough for my satisfaction. Otherwise this would have been a five star rating. It still gets an A.
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Friday, September 13, 2013


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It's Just a Little Crush by Caroline Fardig is a "Lizzie Hart Mystery". This book was released in January 2013. This is a Sarka Jonae publication. This book is 270 pages in length. The small town of Liberty is hardly a crime mecca. But, when a young woman is murdered, it turns out the town is full of secrets and sins. Lizzie Hart works for the town newspaper as a copy editor. She has a HUGE crush on Blake Morgan, a reporter for the paper.  When the paper begins reporting on the murder, Lizzie is determined to find out as much as the hotshot reporter she has a crush on. But, the unexpected takes place when another death occurs and Lizzie begins to suspect Blake. Her sleuthing has gotten under someone's skin, but the question is, whose?  Lizzie Hart is a regular girl, with a regular job. She seems to have some committment issues when it comes to men. Her attraction to Blake is purely physcial in the beginning. But, then she can't decide what his game is. Is he a murderer, a womanizer, a friend, or something more? This mystery/romance was pure entertainment. I love Lizzie. She was like someone you might know in real life. The goings on in a small town didn't seem overly contrived. Who knows what goes on behind closed doors? The mystery was solid. There was no graphic violence or indepth forensics that might bother some people. The tone was light and laced with wit and humor. There was no explicit sexual content, mostly just innuendo. I think this book would appeal to mystery lovers, romance lovers, and maybe even those that like cozies, and chick lit. I am really looking forward to the next book in the series. This one really shows promise. Well done! This one gets a solid A.
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After the Kiss by Lauren Layne is a Kensington/Random House/Loveswept publication. This book was released in August 2013.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the DRC of this book.

Julie Greene works for Stiletto Magazine. The magazine features stories on dating, sex, romance, and relationships. Julie was only twenty-two when she started working for the magazine. She carved out a niche for herself writing about the first time your eyes met his across a crowded room, the first date, the first kiss- you get the idea. But, after Julie reels them in, well, she moved on before the dreaded "movie night"  and before she finds herself washing some guy's boxer shorts.

But, Julie's boss assigns her a new story where she must write about what comes after the kiss. Julie does. not. want to write this story. She tries to pass it off to other writers, but her boss is insistent.

While at a social gathering, Julie zeros in on Mitchell Forbes.  He looks like the relationship type.
However, Mitchell just broke up with his long time girlfriend. His buddy suggest Mitchell try to just have a fling. That's not something that's in Mitchell's DNA. So, the two buddies make a bet. Mitchell must now go out and have a fling. Julie Greene's reputation makes her the perfect choice.

So, Julie is looking for a relationship, while Mitchell is looking for a fling.
This hilarious set up has some really funny moments. But, all good things must come to an end. Sooner or later one of them is bound to find out about the other's motives. This naturally leads to a great deal of drama.

This short contemporary romance has elements of chick lit or romantic comedy.  This is Julie's first attempt at sticking it out with one guy. She learns that relationships have a lot of  fringe benefits and are worth the effort, even if it means movie night, which Julie learns is actually pretty fun.
Mitchell is a wonderful hero. He really comes through for Julie.
I read this book in the car on a short trip with my husband. When I finished the last page, my husband asked me what I was smiling about. Enough said.
This one gets an A.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


It is my  pleasure to welcome bestselling author Susan Sloate to my blog today. Thank you so much for taking time out to visit today and answer a few questions about your newest novel "Stealing Fire".


Susan is the author or co-author of more the 20 books, including "FORWARD TO CAMELOT"  (with Kevin Finn), which in it's original edition, became a  #6 Amazon bestseller, took honors in 3 literary competitions, and was optioned for a film by a Hollywood production company. The new revised edition, "FORWARD TO CAMELOT: 50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION" will be published in October by Drake Valley Press. "REALIZING YOU" (with Ron Doades), is a new genre all together: The Self Help novel. It too will be published this fall. Susan has also written 17 Young Adult books, including 5 biographies, a history of Alcatraz, a book about baseball, one on pre-teen fashion, and entries in 4 different girls' book series. She has been a sportswriter, and a screenwriter, has managed two political campaigns, and currently serves on the Culture, Arts, and Pride Commission of the town of Mount Pleasant ,SC.
Why did you choose New York for the backdrop for STEALING FIRE ? Why the 1980's?

The answer to both questions lies in the fact that STEALING FIRE,  more than any of my books, is deeply personal. It is about a relationship I actually had in the 1980's and when I started writing it, I was still in the middle of it.  I actually started writing to try to understand it. But, I knew I wanted to make it fictional, so I grabbed for the first background I could think of, and what came up was New York and the Broadway musical theater, which I always loved. I don't think I consciously chose it- it just presented itself in my mind, probably because I spent years in theater workshops and knowing the musical theater, so I used it. The real relationship actually took place in L.A., where I happened to be living at the time.

Have you found that most people believe in soul mates? Do you believe in them?

I certainly do, because I had the experience of connecting with someone so powerfully and completely that he could only be a soul mate. And I've talked to a lot of people who declare they absolutely believe in soul mates- and some of them with no experience to back up that belief. On the other hand, I love talking to people who've met their soul mate, because it's just more confirmation for me that soul mates exist!  I also believe you can have more than one soul mate in your life, that friends, family members, etc. can also have deep soul ties with you. It doesn't have to be a romantic tie. It happens with identical twins all the time. It happens with friends of the same sex. There are people you just feel totally yourself with, totally happy with. And you want to be with them all the time.

This story is so powerful, partly because of a song that your heroine hears in childhood that stays with her throughout her life. Where did you get the idea for that? Did something similar happen to you?

Yes; in fact it happened in this real life relationship that was the basis for this novel.  One night when I was about 15, I came home late from babysitting, I was too hyped up to sleep, and I turned  a late movie on TV. It was just starting, and was this wild comedy I didn't really understand. So, I watched about 15 minutes and then went to bed.  But, it stuck with me, and years later, when I met the guy I fell in love with, I found out it was his screenplay from his own first novel, which had been an unexpected bestseller and award-winner. So, I was aware of that tie from the beginning.

Do you agree with Beau's assessment of Broadway musicals in the 1980's?

I sure do.  I was NOT impressed with the Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals, though they made big money.  I never felt they had strong books or well drawn characters, that it was all about spectacle and flashy productions, and consequently, as a theatergoer I was bored. I remember seeing EVITA on Broadway just a few nights after seeing SWEENEY TODD (by Stephen Sondheim).  SWEENEY TODD knocked me out; it was brilliant, it was dimensional, it had a great story and wonderful music. EVITA had a big production and lots of brass in the orchestra. Luckily, though, it also had  Mandy Patinkin playing Che, and it was worthwhile to see it just to see him. But CATS was nothing but a revue, and not even very interesting. That was all about the costumes, makeup, and lighting. (During intermission I remember they invited the audience on stage to look at the sets and costumes close up.) PHANTOM had a terrific, classic novel to adapt from, but it seemed to me they got the stage story wrong anyway. ( Yes, I'm picky about the theater!)  So, yes, I agree with Beau, but it was also an important story point that he feel like a fish out of water in a medium he had once been brilliant in.

Do you think May-December romances are stronger or are they unfair to the younger party? Do you think age really matters?

I think it depends on entirely on the two people involved. I know of one May-December romance that started years ago, the couple married, and they are still going strong. In fact, the husband unabashedly declares that his wife is his soul mate.  In other cases, it's a passing thing. If they're unfair to the younger party, it's only because time can be so cruel, and they'll have to realize they have less time with their lover than someone closer to their own age. But, the rewards can be tremendous, and lasting. And I certainly think age shouldn't matter; there's such a thing as people with old souls, and my heroine Amanda certainly has one.  She's more at home with older people than with her own generation. There are lots of people like that, and older people who are really young at heart.

Are you a fan of Broadway musicals?

Oh, gosh, can you tell? <grin> Sure! I've been hearing musicals all my life, watching them, performing in them,  I love show music, and I figured out recently that I can sing entire scores from about 100 shows. It's pretty scary when you think how much repetition goes into  memorizing all those songs! But  the good news about that is that I had so much material at my fingertips when I was writing STEALING FIRE.  I knew so much about it that I could draw all kinds of obscure references that I hope musical-theater buffs will enjoy.

Do you have any advice for people trying to become an author today?

I would say- read like crazy, and learn your craft. That doesn't necessarily mean going for a master's in creative writing. I think you can learn so much from reading  good work, from studying classic structure ( I did take a class for that, and it was the most valuable class I ever took!) , from learning understated really good writing is. Let your characters' actions tell the story, that and the contrast between their words and their actions. That's very telling. That's my objection to a lot of romance writing; it's overblown, too florid, the dialogue has no undercurrents, and the transitions between emotional beats are too quick, so it becomes melodramatic and consequently, not very good.  Writing is a craft; if you want a career, learn the craft. And keep working at making yourself better.

What books do you like to read?

I read both fiction and nonfiction, and I'm always curious to learn something new.  I'm crazy about writers like Daphne du Maurier and Dick Francis; she was brilliant at setting mood and evoking a place and time, while he had such a strong moral undertone to his stories, with characters who are so vivid and believable, and heroes who are really heroes. I also love that he did great research on his books, so when he wrote about painting or glass blowing or horse breeding or flying, you got a lot of good information on the subject. I love books like OF HUMAN BONDAGE ( one of those books that can teach writers about writing), CAPTAIN NEWMAN, M.D. ( one of my all time favorites), and TWO LUCKY PEOPLE, the funniest book, hands down, I've ever read in my life. I also read a LOT of books about the JFK assassination, as my upcoming novel, FORWARD TO CAMELOT: 50th Anniversary Edition ( co-authored with Kevin Finn), is  a time-travel novel about saving JFK from assassination. So, the subject always interest me.

What are you working on next?

I have two other books coming out this fall. FORWARD TO CAMELOT has just become available, and REALIZING YOU ( with Ron Doades), a self- help NOVEL (yes, we invented a genre), will be out around October. The next novel I'll finish after those will be either a sequel to CAMELOT ( which has been in the works for years) or a novel call THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL,  about the relationship between a campaign manager and her candidate. Both of those books will be published shortly; I just haven't decided which will be first. I have some young adult book series in the works as well.

Do you have a favorite quote  you would like to share with us?

How about the quote that gave me title STEALING FIRE ? I've always love it:

"To love one who loves you.
To admire one who admires you,
In a word, to be the idol of one's idol,
Is exceeding the limit of human joy,
It is stealing fire from heaven."
Delphine de Girardin

Fallen, Ladies of the Rose

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Fallen (Draycott Abbey) by Christina Skye is a Steel Magnolia Press publication. This is obviously part of the Draycott Abbey series. This is a short story/novella. Maddie got into trouble as a teen. Not the type of trouble most teens get into though. She is a code breaker and computer hacker. She was lured into committing a crime and has paid for it dearly. Now a government agency has sent Izzy to locate Maddie. There is a dire situation they need her area of expertise with. Izzy doesn't even know all the details. But, Maddie is curious and goes out onto the streets of London to do a little sightseeing and investigating on her own. This leads her to her meeting Lyon, a man out of his time, but their future destinies lies together. For more Draycott Abbey Romances go to <a href="http://www.amazon.com/-Christina-Skye/e/boooAQ764M" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.amazon.com/-Christina-Skye...Steel Magnolia Press is publishing more of Christina's backlist in new digital editions! For the book trailer from Fallen visit my blog at <a href="http://www.cluereview.blogspot.com" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.cluereview.blogspot.com</a>
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Sunday, September 8, 2013


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Warlock's Daughter by Jennifer Blake is a Steel Magnolia Press publication. This short story/novella was originally published in 2011. This book is also a part of the "Forbidden Lovers" bundle/box set available in the kindle store. Carita is half human and half witch. Her mother died in childbirth and her father, the warlock has left her in the care of an aunt in New Orleans. on a stroll on Halloween night, Carita meets a man that strikes up a conversation with her. Renfrey is like an old fashioned gentleman, but he asked Carita some rather probing questions. It was almost as if he knew her or of her and was not out on this night by accident. Carita is stunned to learn of Renfrey's identity and the connections he has to her life. But, the attraction they have for one another could be dangerous, even fatal. The underlying message here is that life is a risk. You must decide if the risk is worth taking. While, very short, the story was still interesting. There wasn't enough time to really develop the characters and some thing left me wondering. But, it wasn't too hard to pick up on the theme of the book and Carita learns to step out of her shell and live life. This promises to be a great choice for her and for Renfrey. I don't think those two his have a boring moment between them. Overall this a C+
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Saturday, September 7, 2013


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Mine by John A. Heldt is a self published novel released in 2013. I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Joel and his friends explore an old mine in the Seattle area, in the year 2000. While his friends go on their merry way in the mine, Joel has a bit of a different experience. He encounters a snake, then a blue glow, tripping him back into the year 1941. Joel, thinking fast on his feet, helps a guy out and winds up living with his family, and working in the family owned furniture store. He learns that his new friend ,Tom, is dating a young lady named Ginny. As it so happened, Ginny is Joel's  grandmother. Whoa! While Tom's family questions Joel's story, they pretty much mind their own business. But, Ginny isn't fooled by Joel at all. Her questions are disquieting, but she keeps her opinions to herself, only offering Joel some sage advice here and there. Quickly adjusting to all the changes in his life, he gets to know Ginny's friends and meets a girl named Grace. Grace is engaged to be married, but she and Joel have a connection. Grace struggles to understand what her future should be like. Stay will Paul or follow her heart and be with Joel. Meanwhile, Joel can't resist having a little fun with the knowledge he has about the future. Knowing the outcome of boxing matches and baseball games is too good to pass up. But, Joel also knows some darker truths about the future is hoping he is wrong.  Will Joel stay in 1941 and make the best of things? Can he ever return to the year 2000? What will happen with Ginny if he stays in 1941? What would happen to Grace in the future? I had no idea what to expect when I started reading this book. But, I certainly didn't expect this. What a wonderful story. Joel's journey to the past and the impact he has on the lives of those he encounters is incredible. He falls in love, meets his future grandmother, makes the best friends he will ever have, and faces the hardest choices he will ever have to face.  A bittersweet love story that touches the heart and will leave you with both tears in your eyes and a smile on your face. Don't miss this one. Really. I'm looking forward to the next one.
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Friday, September 6, 2013


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A Dragon's Seduction by Tamelia Tumlin is a 2012 release and published by Steel Magnolia Press. This Novella sets the stage for The Gatekeepers series. This book is about 70 pages long. Brayden is a firefighter and just so happens to also be a dragon shape shifter and part of The Gatekeepers team. When a series of fires breaks out in New Orleans, firefighters have their work cut out for them. When Brayden responds to one such fire, he is urged by a voice to hurry up and get in the building. When he finally comes across the people trapped in the building he finds they are being protected by a beautiful sorceress. Callie, only knows that Brayden is a firefighter and that he is very attractive. Something happened between the two of them while saving people from the fire. But, Brayden instantly knows that Callie is off limits. Dragon shape shifters and sorcerers are enemies. Becoming lovers would really be off limits. Callie is only aware that Brayden is not only human, but has some other quality as well. When it becomes clear that a dangerous dragon, not allowed to break though, is behind the fires and that Callie's brother is involved somehow, Brayden must protect Callie and the city. Although this is a short story I felt like it did it's job by setting up the series. We get a love story and are introduced to future protagonist. Firefighters are sexy. They just are. So, I was instantly drawn to Brayden. Not only that, he does something for Callie that only a man that is really in love would have risked. It was a major "Sigh" moment. I enjoyed this one so much I have already added the next book in the series to my TBR list: A Dragon's Heart. This book is available in the kindle store right as a single title, but is also part of the Forbidden Lovers box set. The entire box set is only 99 cents. You can check it out at <a href="http://smarturl.it/smp99c" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://smarturl.it/smp99c This one gets a B+

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Thursday, September 5, 2013


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Haunted on Bourbon Street by Deanna Chase is a Steel Magnolia Press publication. This book was originally published in July 2011. This book is currently available in the kindle store. (9-5-2013 it was listed for free. Please check price before buying) This book is also included in the box set "Forbidden Lovers". which is currently on sale for .99 in the kindle store. Again, please take note of the price before purchasing. Jade has moved to New Orleans at the urging of her friend Kate. The backstory of their friendship is that they came from a bad place and escaped with the aid of Dan, Jade's former fiancé, and Kate's current boyfriend. Although, this is an awkward situation, Kate and Jade work to maintain their friendship. Jade begins work in a coffee shop that is located in the same building as a strip club. Her boss, Pyper and the club's owner, Kane, are business associates with a bit of a past. When Jade moves into her new apartment, Pyper helps her get settled. But, there is something or someone in Jade's apartment that is unsettled. Pyper calls in a friend, Ian, a ghost hunter, to discover what is going on in Jade's apartment. Meanwhile, Jade begins to have erotic dreams. The "ghost" appears to be somehow responsible. Jade is also fighting an attraction to Kane and has a disturbing run in with Dan that puts distance between her and Kate. While Jade is having steamy dreams, Pyper is having an all together different experience in her dreams. It appears that the ghost isn't as fond of Pyper, which could mean Pyper is in danger. Will Ian be able to determine who the ghost is? Will Kane and Jade be able to accept each others paranormal gifts? This book started off with a lot of zing. I was really into it. Somewhere around the middle of the book though, my mind started wandering a little. I love ghost stories. There are more vampires, werewolves, zombies and so forth than ghost these days. So, I was really happy about that. I also loved the 'dreamwalking' . That was a unique paranormal gift. The romance is good, but, the chemistry was a little forced to me. The story was a little uneven at times. Characters showed up in the middle of the book and then there became too many people to keep up with.  However, I still enjoyed the story for the most part and think the series has potential. Overall I give this one a C+. Check out all the value book from Steel Magnolia Press at <a href="http://smarturl.it/smp" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://smarturl.it/smp</a><br />
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My rating: <a href="http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/689702228">4 of 5 stars
The Smoke and the Flame by Shirley Ponthieu McCoy is a self published fantasy/paranormal novel released in February, 2013. I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. The Jinn rule the mountains of Kaf and man rules the earth. Darius is the rule of Jinn ( genie). With loss of his wife and child, Darius is in search of peace. Leaving his brother, Stewart, in charge, Darius sets out to walk the earth. One day while riding on the border of a kingdom called Brenmere, Darius hears a blog curdling scream. As he seeks out the source of such agony, she come upon a woman in childbirth. The woman has a midwife, but there is something wrong. Darius offers to help the woman and Colleen, the midwife. After helping to deliver the child, Darius and Colleen get to know each other a little and she invites him to her home. As it turns out, Colleen is the only child of the King and Queen of Brenmere.  As Colleen and Darius begin to fall in love, they face the uncertainty of her parents reaction to Darius being a Jinn. Although concerned ,they wish their daughter happiness, and give their blessing for them to marry. The only sad thing will be that Colleen must go back to Jinn with Darius to live. Thus begins our story. Colleen and Darius rule Jinn together. They have a son, Ian. While things are not always peachy, they work things out in the end and life is good. But, their is evil lurking in future, and soon the very kingdom of Jinn is in peril as well as the king and queen and their son. A man seeking power above all else has set his sights on a magic ring that is in the land of Jinn. He is a very powerful sorcerer and very, very dangerous. He will stop at nothing to obtain the power he has longed for his entire life. The story is told almost like a fairytale. It maybe should have started off with "Once Upon a Time"... The author gives rich details of surroundings, feelings and emotions. The story is also adventurous and suspenseful. There are epic love stories and heartbreak, as well as fear, danger, and frustration. The story does end of a little bit of a cliffhanger.  But, of course we all know things will work out in the end, but probably not before their are more battles with their staunch enemy. This novel has elements of epic fantasy and paranormal romance.  Just for your information, their are some homosexual characters, but there is nothing overly explicit as far as SC.  The steam level is pretty tame actually, as well as language and graphic violence. The author wisely chose to stick with character development, which is really important in a first book in a series. This story has great potential to become a solid fantasy series that could appeal to lovers of epic fantasy, romance, with some paranormal elements. Overall this is a good solid B+.
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Tuesday, September 3, 2013


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
History's Greatest Scandals: Shocking Stories of Powerful People by Ed Wright is a Thunder Bay publication and was releases in June 2013. A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher/author and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This is a fairly short non-fiction book listing an array of well known and perhaps a few lesser known scandals involving politicians and other world leaders and a few Hollywood scandals. There were only a handful that I was not overly familiar with. The most interesting one for me was The Star Spangled Killer. The older ones that regarded people from other countries were also not as well known, to me at least. The author included former President Clinton's sexual escapades, the Watergate Scandal, the PTL Jim Bakker scandal, and the Roman Polanski scandal. Everyone loves a scandal. Come on admit it, you do. For me personally, I grew up hearing about Watergate and half of the other scandals that the media beat to death. So, about half of the featured stories were just too familiar to me. I knew these stories backwards and forwards. But, there were a few I had forgotten about, like Imelda Marcos and her collection of shoes. Other stories I was less knowledgeable about. It still amazes me the lengths people will go to for power, money, to avoid jail or hide their sexuality. This is an interesting book and will be fun to remind yourself of when the media couldn't get enough of Jessica Hahn and how she took advantage of her fifteen minutes, or to shake your head at the depravity of people that lived way back in the 16 and 1800's.  I hesitate to refer to this book as entertainment, but it was, and of course it is all true and a piece of history, like it or not. I give this one a C+
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Monday, September 2, 2013


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Eternally Yours by Jennifer Malin is a self published novel reissued in June 2013. This book was originally published in 2001, and is now available in digital format;. Lara has gotten the old Victorian house in the divorce settlement. An artist, Lara wants to do some renovations on the property to accommodate an art studio. However, she must first get permission from the historical society. Enter Mark, an author and historian. When Mark learns of Lara's plans, he is full of righteous indignation. He tries to explain to Lara that she can not do what she wants to this house. It would be an outrage. The two of them do nothing but clash from the word go. Lara figures her chances of getting a grant from the society are slim after Mark's reaction to her plans. So, she applies for a building permit. When word gets back to Mark that Lara still intends to go forward with her plans, he is once more infuriated. She had completely ignored his opinion and advice and had no respect for the historical value of the house that would destroyed by her project. But, when a secret room is found in the house and box of old letters that appears to have written by one of Mark's ancestors, Geoff, the two of them begin to forge an uneasy friendship. Both of them learn to compromise a little and Lara begins to rethink her stubborn plans for the studio. Geoff, listens in to Lara and Mark's conversations and finds out though the letters that in life, Geoff had left the love of his life in a major bind and may have been responsible for her death. Now, Geoff is cursed to live in limbo. But, when Lara and Mark hit a major bump in their new found romance, Geoff wants to redeem himself by helping the two overcome their differences, especially when outside forces work to keep them apart. A nice easy paranormal contemporary romance. I enjoyed the two stories of Geoff and his poetry and the old letters, and the story of Lara and Mark. Mark was off putting to say the least and made a very bad first impression. But, he admits he has to grow up emotionally, and when he realizes he has hurt Lara and may lose her for good, he rises to the occasion and more than redeems himself. Will Geoff be able to find peace at last? Will Mark and Lara finally get all their misunderstandings out in the open and make a life together? I enjoyed this book. I appreciate the author allowing me access to the book for an honest review. Overall a B.
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Sunday, September 1, 2013


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Beguiled Again by Patricia Burroughs is a reissue of an older Silhouette Desire contemporary romance. This book has been given a cover facelift and the content has been updated as well. I would like to thank the LibraryThing early review program for the digital copy of this book. Cecilia is a single mother of three children. In the store one day, while in a hurry and not looking her best, she spies the guy she had a massive crush on when she was a teenager. She had practically stalked the guy back then. Mortified by the possibility he may recognize her and a very embarrassing moment would take place, Cecilia hurries to get checked out and away from the store. In the process, she leaves her wallet and guess who finds it? Right, Jefferson Smith. Things go from bad to worse when Jeff is introduced to Cecilia's children. Jeff leads a quiet life with a very nice car and everything in it's place. But, when he sees Cecilia again, the situation is reversed. Now he is the one practically stalking her. This was a really cute romantic comedy. Cecilia has her hands full with her job, money issues, and raising three kids. Plus, she has to deal with her ex-husband and his new wife. Jeff steps into the big middle of things. He doesn't understand at first what in the world has gotten into him. He can't take his eyes or his hands of Cecilia. But, Cecilia can't just think about herself. Jeff has never been around kids and the daily chaos that goes on her life. Cecilia is certain that once she and Jeff got really into the relationship, Jeff would panic. Jeff thinks Cecilia is underestimating him.  I loved the cute kids, Jeff's patient attitude, and the hilarious situations that came up. I live a few hours from Dallas, so I loved the mention of familiar things, such as local sports teams ( GO MAVS!) and locations. This is a very light romance novel, perfect for anyone who likes romance, but especially for those that are in mood for a little humor as well. Overall a B+
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