December 30, 2014

Loved It: The Importance of Being Alice by Katie MacAlister

Series: Ainslie Brothers 1
Format: Mass Paperback
Release Date: January 6, 2015
Publisher: Signet
Source: Publisher
Genre: Contemporary Romance

From New York Times bestselling author Katie MacAlister comes a series about finding your own wonderland—through one roadblock at a time...

Nothing about Alice Wood’s life is normal right now. Her fiancĂ©, Patrick, called off their wedding and relationship only days before their nonrefundable wedding trip. And though a luxurious European river cruise for one is just what she needs, it’s not what she gets...

Due to a horrible misunderstanding, Alice is now cramped in her “romantic” suite with one of Patrick’s friends. Instead of cruising along the Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers sipping champagne with the love of her life, she’s navigating the waters with a strange—yet mysteriously handsome—British aristocrat.

An author, Elliot is just looking for some alone time to write. But his stodgy, serious self is about to be sidetracked by a woman who seems to have jumped out of the pages of a fairy tale, one who is determined to shake up his life...and include him in her own happily ever after.

What a hoot! I'm so glad Katie MacAlister's upcoming book is one of the last ones I read in 2014 because it sure put me in a good mood for 2015. THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ALICE is a great case of insta-love | rebound romance | unexpected love | romantic comedy. You're not supposed to over analyze Elliot and Alice's story because it defies logic. Like what are the chances of someone finding their one true love on a two week European cruise they were supposed to take with their ex-fiance and ending up married to a British Baron no less? Oh I'm sure this romance exists out there somewhere but I'm positive it's a rarity. Needless to say KMacAlister just wants to entertain you for a few hours and enjoy this silly whirlwind love story between Elliot and Alice.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ALICE is filled with LOL moments especially on scenes where Alice and Elliott were getting their kink on. I mean imagine being in a sex club in a foreign country and you're dressed as a pirate unfortunately one of the accouterments failed and you end up sprawled naked while other patrons take photos and videos of you as you're being rescued by the staff? Or getting high and having the giggles in a coffeehouse in Amsterdam thanks to second hand smoke? What about getting your picture taken with nothing on but a pirate hat and your photo is shared and popular in Facebook? Or how about getting attacked in your own bedroom because of a bad case of mistaken identity? These and so much more happened in THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ALICE it's really more comedic than romantic. 

Aside from the scenic river view, the characters are the best thing this book has. Alice is such a chatterbox and her unfiltered quips is such a good contrast to Elliot's proper upbringing and polished demeanor it's a great example of opposites attract. Alice's sunshine-y attitude was contagious I almost forgot she just broke up with Patrick, Elliot's friend and her sister's current boyfriend. She's so positive, decisive, didn't act like a victim even after Patrick returned to the picture and tried to win her over (yes, Patrick is a jerk but a funny one if that helps), and very much like lightning if you can imagine. Elliot is a dreamboat, a romantic, an indulgent lover, and very Mr. Darcy, he's The British Aristocrat fantasy a lot of us has. I half expected Elliot to second guess Alice but he never doubted her, adored her American Beauty, flaws and all, and cherished her in every way possible. 

The  side characters are equally ridiculous from Elliot's big family down to the people who took the cruise with them. Each and every one of them are bananas, memorably, quite the ensemble, I look forward to seeing a few of them again in the next installment coming in May 2015. The conflict was this big stupid misunderstanding where Elliot was mistaken for an actual spy instead of an author who writes spy novels and his supposed "takedown" was a page taken off Johnny English. 

I'll stop my rambling here, y'all have a fun New Year's celebration and should you be so inclined to read a comedy next year, keep THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ALICE by Katie MacAlister in your thoughts, it'll have you laughing in stitches and I'm sure it's as good, if not better, than her historical romances.

December 29, 2014

Loved It: A Little Faith by Emma James + Debut Writing Adventures

Series: Ocean Beach 1
Format: ARC
Publisher: Self 
Source: Author
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Release Date: October 9, 2014
“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” ~ Bob Marley

Faith was nearly fifteen when her life was torn apart, she sheltered herself from knowing anything about that fateful day.

Six years later she is older and stronger and has decided to confront this sexy brotherhood of hot men she ignored for her own survival.

Harley, Keanu, Text, Levi and Retro will reveal to Faith all is not what it seems and she will discover the level of strength these friends possess.

She will come to realize the secrets they have all been shielding her from in humorous and emotional ways.

Faith isn’t going back to Dallas in a hurry, not until she can help those that need her the most.

This is a story of new beginnings, a strong brotherhood of sexy guys and a love that has been lost along the way. It is a story with twists and surprises that will tug at your heart as well as make you laugh.

Humor is a weapon that can only last so long until life peels the layers back and what is underneath and hurting shows through.

Faith wasn’t there for them when they needed her, but she damn well will make sure she is now.

Welcome to Ocean Beach.

Sometimes you just have to have A Little Faith.

Reader Note: This is a mature aged new adult/adult contemporary romance with a difference. This novel does not contain abusive parents, on the contrary. There is no mean girl, no rape or abuse or cheating. There is however a brotherhood of guys who will make you feel a whole range of emotions.

This novel does contain strong sexual content for the mature 18+ reader.

What I will tell you is this is a five book series with 2 novella's also added to it. My style is different, readers are picking up on it. I am not just having boy meets girl in each book and HEA, there is more, much more going on. This is a series where all characters are strongly involved in each installment.

This review is different in that it's personal. First I had an opportunity to take a peek on A LITTLE FAITH by Emma James while it was still on the drawing board and had the opportunity to be part of her beta group albeit in a very small way. Next I know the author personally so there's a sense of pride that she created this story. I mean I struggle with reviews let alone a novel and for that alone my hat's off to her; then there's a sense of understanding regarding her creative process. EJames shared with me her vision for her output and that gave me a unique and in-depth view on the story itself; then there's a sense of protectiveness not just because she's my friend but also due to the aforementioned reasons. Yup, this review is subjective and honest so don't think I'm gushing simply because EJames is a friend. 

A LITTLE FAITH has the markings of the usual NA and then some. The heart of the story portrays the aftermath of a tragic event where these Ocean Beach Boys lost a brother after the club they were in was bombed. Fast forward a few years later and Faith, the kid sister of Chance, came to visit with the hopes of getting closure. Unbeknownst to everyone including Faith, she is the heart of the final piece that gets will finally get them to a place of healing. 

The Ocean Beach Boys will pull your heartstrings no questions asked. Each wear their brokenness on their sleeves and its this vulnerability combined with their determination to make something good out of something so tragic that will make you in awe of them. Each has a unique personality that appeals to every reader's preference book boyfriend wise: Harley is sort of the big brother, Keanu the technocrat, Retro the romantic, Text the mysterious brooding one, and Levi the joker. Though they share a common experience each of them were scarred differently, some emotional, another physical, one psychological, and it's their brotherhood and strong camaraderie that keeps them strong, sane, going, and hopeful for something better. On a side note, these boys vaguely resemble The Black Dagger Brotherhood, like they're the new adult contemporary version of our beloved Caldwell vamps. I don't know if it's their strong sense of fraternity or because I know EJames is a fan of Ward's series or what. I feel compelled to mention that somehow.

Faith, to me, is a very interesting person in that her full story is yet to be told but she shared enough about her to validate that she IS a crucial part of this tale and I'd like to see where EJames is going to take her character from here. 

Personally I'm not a fan of multiple POVs for a few different reasons and IMO, A LITTLE FAITH can still have the same impact of it were told from a few or even on 3rd person POV as opposed to almost everyone getting the mic. I think the less voice heard telling the story the more centric and concentrated the plot is. Like the first half is about Faith and her reunion with her brother's friends, etc. and the other half was Retro and Birdie's story. On one hand it's good in the sense that you're sort of getting two stories in one while on the other it felt like the novel was split and so I didn't really get to connect with Retro and Birdie's HEA. However I also understand that EJames is trying to paint a vibrant landscape and positioning her players in a certain way to best draw out their stories.

Lastly, though minor, EJames' storytelling is a little uneven. But because this is her debut novel and all, I'm a little forgiving. I'm sure it'll flow smoothly once she's in full gear. Overall A LITTLE FAITH is a good start, the premise stirring, and one can't help but root for the characters. I especially love how it's not super angsty and overly dramatic, there's enough of that going around, as well as the unique combination of characters she created to bring this tale to life. 

By Emma James

It took me two years from conception to self publishing A Little Faith, the first book in my Ocean Beach series. Some authors can write a book a lot quicker in weeks or months, but I was determined to get it right first time round.

I had a fear of failure.

I wanted to bring my story of a brotherhood of sexy guys to life, but with an original and fresh take on contemporary romance. I needed what was buzzing about in my brain to translate onto paper, the right way. This took much thought and hard work and it was a very steep learning curve for me the closer I got to pressing publish on Amazon. Don’t even get me started on the paperback and what you need to do to get that up and running. It was all a little daunting, but CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

There are forms, I love forms (said sarcastically) to fill out and you will need help with what it takes to bring a story to digital format. I asked author friends for advice and they were more than happy to help a newbie out, they of course had already been through the whole green horn stage. I was this flower waiting to blossom, I just needed to know how to blossom.

Cover art was another thing that had to be conquered. They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but hell yeah, readers do. I’ve had the majority express their love for my cover being original and different. I set out to not use photo stock, I wanted an artist and I found the loveliest girl Jemina Venter, who saw my vision and did exactly what I wanted. I needed an artist so my covers were tailored to the characters. Much hidden detail is within each cover. I wanted their poses and facial expressions to relate to the story within. I wanted each cover when put side by side to show a scene. My characters are all going to be on the Municipal Pier in Ocean Beach, San Diego, when the covers are placed side by side it will be awesome. I get very excited to see what Jemina does with my characters. She blows my mind.

Cover art is up to the individual’s interpretation. Some love a cover and some don’t, but it’s the words within that tell the story and readers are noticing my reviews and the amazing response I have had to this group of flawed, sexy, strong and endearing group of men. I feel very blessed that readers are taking a chance on this housewife who had a dream and through a lot of hard work and determination made it happen.

I didn’t just sit down one day and start writing. I Google researched, set up a photo board of characters, I listened to music. I had a bunch of notebooks with ideas and scenes set across the five book series. I went into a lot of thought preparation before I even started typing. I knew I was going to be using multiple pov’s ( point of views ) and my characters were going to be flawed in more ways than one. I had an idea that plagued my brain for years until I knew what to do with it. It didn’t let up.

I plotted and planned and THEN I typed on my old clunker of a computer in my son’s bedroom, (for that is where the desktop resides) for eight months straight.

I hear authors talking of the wonder of a MAC computer, I have a 7 year old computer but you know what, as long as it has software you can write a book on, it doesn’t matter. A computer was not stopping me from getting this story down.

I had my sweat band on each day and typed my heart out and then I went over and over and over my work trying to find what was needed. I layered my characters and it shows in reviews the depth I went to. I breathed my characters in, they are an extension of my family. I wanted readers to care about them as much as I did.

I was now getting closer to the finish line, but I wanted feedback. I wanted to be criticised because I knew if I didn’t get the feedback beforehand, the readers would let me know. I wanted my book to be worth the hard earned cash that readers are willing to spend on a book. It was Beta reader time. I handpicked 3 Beta readers who I knew were well read. I chose one in USA, UK and Aust, for A Little Faith. My UK Beta reader is a god send, she reads my manuscripts three times. First time as a reader, second as a reviewer and third time... she checks under the door mat.

To be a Beta reader for me you have to be as honest as the day you were born. I listen, I ponder feedback and I eventually think up a solution if the feedback calls for it.

Louise my UK Beta reader made me laugh as much as I made her laugh. I loved all the feedback she gave me about making her laugh, cry and what?, I received from her. She told me to walk before I ran. I badly wanted to hang onto a 3000 word section of my manuscript. I held on for dear life and in the end it took me a few weeks to concede, but she was right. I was trying too hard to tell too much. This section needed to be in the second book and it fits perfectly.

Beta readers who are honest and well read are a valuable asset to an author. I have Beta read for many authors and I know it takes time and effort.

There is also the editor to seek out and connect with. I wound up with two ladies who are a team and work hard to get those commas in the right place and my sentences shiny. I thought I had it looking pretty darn awesome before I gave it to them. It did come back colourful...LOL but they did say it was by no means the worst one they have edited.

Then it was time to get the book ready for the various digital platforms and paperback. I chose to pay a formatter. Formatting a digital book and paperback are different. I personally think any new author should set money aside for a good editor and formatter.

I set aside $2000 for my first venture into the writing world to cover the costs for editor, formatter and cover designer. I didn’t have much change from this figure because I secured five covers with my cover designer. I also had to get banners made for various postings and places like facebook. I wanted to be as professional as I could afford to be.

Do not expect to make that money back in a hurry. Again some authors do.

The enormous amount of work it takes to write and release a book is lost on the reader, and also the amount of marketing an author must continually do each and every day to ensure their book is not lost in the ocean of new releases popping up every day of the year.

I was totally blind to the amount of administrative work and marketing that needed to be done. I soon learnt. There are banners to prepare, teasers, giveaways, takeovers on blogs, promos of your work. Then there is the time spent speaking to bloggers and hoping you can convince them to give up their valuable time to take a chance on you on top of their already full schedule. If you haven’t got a name for yourself, this is a difficult task indeed. I’m only now starting to feel that it is getting a lot easier convincing a blogger to take a chance on me as I have such positive and amazing reviews. Do not give up, just take the small wins and they will all add up eventually.

I thank all the readers and bloggers from the bottom of my heart who initially did not hesitate to support me. I am forever grateful to them as they just gave me a chance and without them, it would have been a much tougher and exhausting road.

I read and appreciate every review that a reader has taken the time to write no matter how long or short. My reviews have been so positive and it makes me smile when readers have enjoyed my story. It makes all the hard work and the continual hard work once the book is released that much sweeter.

Reviews are so important for a debut author. I know so many readers purely want to read a book and then move on to the next one. Writing a review does not interest them and that is cool. This is why I want to throw my arms around the reader who writes a review and thank them so dearly because without reviews, my job as a writer would be so, so, so much more difficult. Imagine trying to sell a book that hasn’t been reviewed.

What I’m so pleased about is all the reviewers have left the twists and spoilers out of their reviews. My guys all have secrets and the story starts one way and swings in another direction. I’m so happy that the reviews have also allowed the new reader to discover what the blurb is far from telling you. I too wanted to let the reader discover for themselves. Spoiler blurbs are not my cup of tea.

I poured my heart and my soul into A Little Faith. I wanted the characters to connect with the reader and to have depth. I love that readers have a favourite guy or they can’t make their mind up, it means I did my job. I spent a long time getting these characters to be real and different.

Some authors soar to great heights when their book is released and some take a little longer to find their wings. A Little Faith is finding its wings and I’m so ever grateful to every reader and blogger that took a chance on this debut author and discovered a story that made them laugh and maybe cry too.

I’m still the same housewife and mother of three children, but now I have found what I have been looking for in my life. I never really knew where I belonged. This is where I belong. Writing is a challenge, it is hard, it is exhausting and only a writer knows the lengths we go to, to bring a story to life. But when I get those excited messages from readers who want to talk about what they love about my book... it just makes my heart smile.

It’s never too late to follow a dream.

Emma James

I’m swiveling back and forth, searching the crowd for Harley.
“Hey, short stuff.” A deep voice slices into my thoughts from over my right shoulder.
I slowly turn around, meeting Harley’s smiling face. I may have been short once, but now I am five-foot-eight, not exactly below-average height.
I take in Harley. He’s tall—six-four, at least—and gorgeous with light brown, short hair; tanned skin; and does he have some ink work on his arms? I’m normally very curious about tattoos, but now isn’t the time to look.
I know I’m looking him up and down, but it’s been so long, and he has changed. The softer boy features have been replaced by a big, muscular, chiseled man.
I swallow.
“Wow, is that really you, Harley Madden?” I’m drinking him in. I don’t remember Harley being so big and buff. His charcoal t-shirt molds tightly to his chest like a second skin. He wasn’t this muscular the last time I saw him. His belted, black jeans and boots complete his handsome look that has quite a few people in the crowd appraising him. He looks a little dangerous in his dark clothing. He would make Will purr like the cat who got the cream. I must admit, even I’m a little taken back.
He leans in and grabs me in a bear hug, lifting me off the ground, leaving me a little breathless. My face is nestled in his neck, catching his scent of cologne and soap.
“Okay, big guy, you can stop squeezing the life out of me now,” I try to breathe out. He loosens his hold and slowly let’s go while I take a step back.
“You look amazing, Harley.” I find myself smiling. It feels good. I was worried about feeling awkward meeting Harley again after so long, but something just clicks. He was my brother’s best friend, and I’ve known him all my life. “It’s been a long time.”
“I could say the same about you. I might have to start calling you Faith.” He flashes me an amused grin, showing me perfect, white teeth and a dimple.
The baggage carousel starts up and everybody squeezes in tighter, trying to jockey for a position to get their luggage when it appears.
“Whoa!” I’m already beginning to feel less nervous having Harley here with me when I’m suddenly knocked off balance. Harley’s left arm snags me around the waist, bringing me up against his hard side. He shoots the person beside me a dirty look. Some people really do need to chill out when they travel.
I step away from him when I notice my case coming towards me.
Harley stops me with a gentle, firm hand on my arm. “I’ll get it for you, which one?”
With one, bright blue suitcase and camera bag in his hands, Harley walks me out the sliding doors of the airport and we cross to the parking garage.
The sun is shining, and my grey hoodie jacket is making me too hot. I unzip it, taking it off as I’m walking, revealing a tight white tank top. Much cooler.
Harley is staring at my chest and nearly trips over. I roll my eyes. You can never take the boy out of the man.
“Harley, are you finished staring?” I laugh a little at the look on his face. “So I grew up.”
“You certainly did,” he mutters and looks away. I could have sworn I heard him swear and mumble something about guard duty.
As we approach his vehicle, I'm stunned. wow! Harley has a black Hummer. I do my best to hide how surprised I am.
Harley stows my luggage in back, and then we climb in and set off.
The Hummer suits Harley; he is such a big, masculine guy.
“Beautiful car. Where to James?”
Harley slides on a pair of vintage aviator Ray Bans, giving me a superstar smile that is a heart stopper. “La Jolla. I have a place up on Vista De La Playa.” Harley then assures me we will be at his place in less than half an hour with the lunch time traffic.
The radio is playing Florida Georgia Line's “Cruisewith Nelly. I put my sunglasses on, roll my window down, prop my right arm up on the open window, and hold onto the outside of the car. I can’t help tapping my fingers and nodding my head to the beat, quietly singing along as the breeze blows my hair free.
I can see Harley out of the corner of my eye, stealing glances and smiling.
We don’t talk, although it’s not uncomfortable. I think we both have a lot swimming about in our heads. I’m simply taking it all in, while he knows why I’m here. He knows this isn’t easy for me.
I pull my phone out of my bag, take a quick snap of the coastline, and text Mom and Dad, attaching the pic. I let them know Harley has me, and we are heading to his place now. I then send Will a text and tell her I’ll chat in a couple days when I have something to tell her. I don’t hear back straight away.
Holy shit is all I can think the closer we get to Harley’s place. The view of the beach is incredible. As we drive higher, I’m itching to get my camera out and ask Harley to pull over so I can take some photos. We are driving past some beautiful homes, overlooking the coast. It's not long until we make a turn, and then he drives up a long driveway towards an unbelievable looking place.
“You sure you got the right address?” I know my mouth is gaping open.
Harley looks over at me then reaches out, gently pushing my chin up so my mouth closes.
“What did you do? Rob a bank!”
Harley lets out a full blown belly laugh, which makes me turn and stare at him. “No.”
Wow! The Hummer and now the house, or what I would call a freakin’ big, two-story, contemporary mansion. It’s beautiful.
And the view!
This is when I realize I don’t really know anything about Harley and where these guys have all ended up.
He sobers up, and I see him looking at the black and chrome Jeep Cherokee parked farther up the drive. His hands grip the steering wheel while his jaw tenses.
What now?
Something tells me I’m going to be meeting the guys sooner rather than later.

“So, is this the girlfriend, the ex-girlfriend, or the guys?” I joke because that’s all I know how to do when I feel cornered. 

Coming 2.2015
A LITTLE FAITH is on sale for only $1.60 for a limited time!

Emma James lives in Queensland, Australia with her smexy husband, three children and a big black Labrador. Life is busy and most entertaining in the James household.

Writing has been a part of her life for many years. Life was getting on and it was time to put her fears aside and do what she does best. It was time to show readers what she was made of, take that leap off the diving board and see where it takes her.

Emma is a creative person at heart. She loves to read as much as write, devouring books into the wee hours of the morning.

Who needs sleep, right?

Stalk Emma
Facebook | @emmajamesbooks | Goodreads

December 28, 2014

Steampunk Sundays: A Study in Darkness by Emma Jane Halloway

Series: The Baskerville Affair 2
Format: eGalley
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Publisher: Del Rey
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Adult-Steampunk
When a bomb goes off at 221B Baker Street, Evelina Cooper is thrown into her Uncle Sherlock’s world of mystery and murder. But just when she thought it was safe to return to the ballroom, old, new, and even dead enemies are clamoring for a place on her dance card.

Before Evelina’s even unpacked her gowns for a country house party, an indiscretion puts her in the power of the ruthless Gold King, who recruits her as his spy. He knows her disreputable past and exiles her to the rank alleyways of Whitechapel with orders to unmask his foe.

As danger mounts, Evelina struggles between hiding her illegal magic and succumbing to the darker aspects of her power. One path keeps her secure; the other keeps her alive. For rebellion is brewing, a sorcerer wants her soul, and no one can protect her in the hunting ground of Jack the Ripper.

"I learned long ago that the one who fights the longest and hardest for truth does the most damage to everything he loves. Nothing withstands that kind of scrutiny." - Bancroft

"I (Evelina) learned that I can be tempted"
Sherlock gave a brief flicker of a smile. "Everyone can. It's just a matter of who will admit to it, and who whistles in the dark, and who will make that weakness their weapon."
"One has to understand the nature of a fatal flaw before one can find it in others. Know yourself, to know your enemy."

This is a case of (maybe) It's not you, it's me. I don't know if I'm suffering from the holiday blues or what because I was tittering between sleepiness and boredom whilst reading A STUDY IN DARKNESS, book two of Emma Jane Halloway's Baskerville Affair. It didn't help that this novel was over 500 pages and felt like 1000 because of the slow pace. 

So the first one, A Study in Silks, left us with a major arc with lots of moving pieces pertaining to this powerful artifact called Athena's Casket. Then there are side stories regarding Evalina Cooper's relationships with various individuals and their respective storylines. It was a fun beginning filled with intrigue and complications and I for one was eager to find out how this epic series is going to unfold. Sadly A STUDY IN DARKNESS suffered from middle book syndrome, the plot of the book itself was simple yet EJHalloway took too darn long to get from point A to point B, lingering on a lot of side stories that were pertinent, to be fair, but IMHO the overall effect of these little threads to the story would still be the same even if it were shorter.

In the case of the automaton, Seferina, it was pretty obvious who and what this mysterious automaton is, no need to flesh her out as much since she was a temporary participant in the story. We get it, Seferina is creepy and she's got something up her sleeve, we don't need several illustrations of this machine's profoundness. Then there's the love triangle whose resolution was underwhelming. There was this huge tension between Evaline, Nick, and Tobias in the first book and the resolution felt like these people are now settling because who they truly want is no longer available. Oi vey! How unromantic! Then there's the evil villain Magnus who's surprise return was interesting at first and then got flat throughout. And finally the Gold King, Keating, his storyline took the longest to come into fruition and as expected, he still has everyone by the balls. 

What redeemed A STUDY IN DARKNESS for me was the ending, which doesn't justify the means but it was a good WTF moment if you get my drift. It's a frickin' monkey wrench and I don't even know how Evelina & Co. are going to resolve this let alone discover Magnus' little keepsake for them. Naturally I want to know but because of this cottonmouth feel this book left me with, I'm not dashing to grab the last book. I'd have to motivate myself some more before I dive in especially as it's 600+ pages long! 

December 27, 2014

Bought, Borrowed & Bagged #131

BB&B (Bought, Borrowed and Bagged) is a weekly meme, inspired my The Story Siren and Pop Culture Junkie, where we share with you the books that we have bought, borrowed or bagged (won or gifted) plus a recap of the previous week's reviews, upcoming reviews, on going events and book movie or television news. 

BB&B is an homage Barron's Books & Baubles from Karen Marie Moning's smash hit series, Fever. 

from publishers & authors

Looking forward to 2015!!

Last Week's Reviews

December 26, 2014

Suped Up: Deceptive Innocence by Kyra Davis

Series: Pure Sin 1
Format: Paperback
Release Date: June 24, 2014
Publisher: Gallery Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Romantica
Kyra Davis, the New York Times bestselling author of Just One Night, returns with book one in the thrillingly erotic Pure Sin series featuring a beautiful young woman out for revenge—until she falls in love with the one man whose secrets are as dangerous as her own.

Ever since Bell’s mother died while serving time for a murder she didn’t commit, Bell’s been focused on one thing: revenge. She knows her mother was set up by Jonathon Gable, the head of both the powerful Gable family and an international banking corporation. Now she’s determined to take him down—from the inside.

Bell needs access to the Gable home and offices, so she poses as a bartender to seduce her way into the bed—and life—of Jonathon’s rebellious youngest son, Lander. He’s not a typical Gable, spending more time in the dive bars of Harlem than the posh cocktail lounges of the Upper East Side. He has an attraction to danger, a vulnerability Bell isn’t shy about exploiting. It should be easy to uncover the secrets she needs to destroy his family and clear her mother’s name.

But it turns out Lander is much more complicated than she ever imagined. He’s enticing, intelligent, mysterious—plus their sexual chemistry is off the charts. Even though Bell knows he’s the enemy, she can’t help but be moved, both physically and emotionally, by the man she swore was just a target. When he finds out the truth she’s sure both their hearts and her plan will be crushed...until she begins to realize that Lander might be hiding his own secrets, darker than she ever imagined.

NOTE: This book includes Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 which are no longer sold separately.

Because he's chosen despair over anger. It's a bad choice. Despair will kill you. Anger's more useful. - Lander

The rich disguise their sin so well. Their vices are actually made pretty... before they turn ugly.

I love revenge themed books, I don't know what it says about me but I get a thrill out of it from the careful plotting down to the execution. The part where things can unravel by a simple misstep gives me a good rush, there's an understated element of suspense throughout the book that even a cunning, calculated, and motivated heroine like Bell, might not get herself out of and all the years of hardwork down the drain and the repercussions expensive and at times even deadly. DECEPTIVE INNOCENCE by Kyra Davis might not be a holiday book but I sure flew through the pages completely engrossed by Bell's plan to take down the Gable family from the inside if only she didn't fall for her target, Lander Gable. 

Straightforward comparison, if you like or love the TV show Revenge then you're very likely to enjoy DECEPTIVE INNOCENCE although at this point the plot isn't as intricate as the show but it's slowly getting there. I don't know if I like Bell at this point but I admire her no question about it. It takes a lot of nerve to take down a powerful family like the Gables whose reach is far and wide and she plans to do it single handedly. Bell basically sold her soul to the devil here because there is no way she's getting out of this unscathed and most likely she'll endure more losses before the Gable Takedown is over. 

DECEPTIVE INNOCENCE has a very clever plot, there's an outright premise and with every flashback Bell has regarding her mother's frame-up, more pieces of the puzzle are being fitted into the picture and more and more people are getting roped into Bell's black hole of vengeance. The characters are written really well which made this novel even more compelling and they inspire varying emotions from the reader. Except for Travis Gable, I found it difficult to hate everyone who were involved in Bell's mother's case because some of them are victims as well. 

Now love interests like Lander Gable are usually auxiliary characters or some sort of pawns. It's not the case here because Lander Gable is just as fascinating as Bell. Here is a man who is Bell's equal in every way and he too has his own motives, secrets, and beef with his family. And just like Bell, how far and heartless is he willing to go to achieve his goals? Together, Bell and Lander makes for one scary team and I'm excited to see what kind of terror they'll unleash and the amount of devastation they will cause.

DECEPTIVE INNOCENCE is a brilliant, smart, sexy, and an atypical romance that will suck you in from beginning to end. Simple yet powerful questions like Why, Who, and How will persist, the pace is great and the twist in the end just made Bell's thirst for revenge more dangerous and provoking. Every single one of the characters have roles to play and none of them are what they seem. Something and someone is always lying in wait ready to pounce so you'll end up all tense and bracing yourself for that rabid bite. Once again, KDavis penned one spicy series in Pure Sin, readers of Lisa Renee Jones and Shiloh Walker will surely enjoy this delectable treat.

Deceptive Innocence (ebook) is on sale for $1.99 for a limited time

December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas! Maligayang Pasko!

Christmas is my favorite time of the year and whether or not you celebrate this season like me, I hope that this month has been nothing but wonderful for you.

I had the pleasure of watching Kelly Clarkson's Christmas concert, Miracle on Broadway, here in Nashville last weekend and it was such a fun show. My phone sucks so I wasn't able to take decent videos but here are a couple of my favorite songs which I hope will further brighten an already exciting day.

P.S. I know this post/greeting is late, I blame it on too much food (as always) and The Hobbit marathon. Have you seen the last one? How was it?

December 23, 2014

Loved It: Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish

Series: Adventures of Owl 1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Release Date: January 15, 2015
Fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, and Linda Hamilton will flock to the kick-ass world of Owl, a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world.

Ex-archaeology grad student turned international antiquities thief, Alix—better known now as Owl—has one rule. No supernatural jobs. Ever. Until she crosses paths with Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon who owns and runs the Japanese Circus Casino in Las Vegas. He insists Owl retrieve an artifact stolen three thousand years ago, and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: he’ll get rid of a pack of vampires that want her dead. A dragon is about the only entity on the planet that can deliver on Owl’s vampire problem – and let’s face it, dragons are known to eat the odd thief.

Owl retraces the steps of Mr. Kurosawa’s ancient thief from Japan to Bali with the help of her best friend, Nadya, and an attractive mercenary. As it turns out though, finding the scroll is the least of her worries. When she figures out one of Mr. Kurosawa’s trusted advisors is orchestrating a plan to use a weapon powerful enough to wipe out a city, things go to hell in a hand basket fast…and Owl has to pick sides.

Finally the review! Sorry if this is a day late, this bookworm's social calendar spiked so pardon the delay. Anyway as I just published the Series 101 for Adventures of Owl  yesterday, I thought I'd address my questions myself and give you all feedback per point. 

What to Expect: Lots of action and interesting otherworldly characters. There's a dragon, a couple of nagas, nymphs, vampires, Japanese ghosts, skin walkers, and an adventure spanning continents. OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS starts off in Vegas then Kristi Charish takes us to the metro streets of Japan and its Harajuku district, then she had us looking for a scroll in an ancient temple in Bali, Indonesia, and finally going back to a haunted Vegas casino/hotel where hell breaks loose. It was a trip in every sense of the word so fasten your seat belts because it's going to be one heck of a ride!

Mythology & Cosmology: There's ins't a particular myth or pantheon that KCharish employed here. Owl's first adventure is more of  treasure hunt like Indiana Jones meets Lara Croft, as KCharish aptly made comparisons with, and the origins of this scroll isn't hinged on anything specific. Ironically Owl's real life adventure is very much like the MMRPG she's addicted to. On a side note, I love Owl's hobby and her whacked game friends.

Owl aka Alixandra Hiboux: Finally a heroine who is as bubbly, interesting, and colorful as the "sidekick". I love Owl so much I want to be her BFF! So Owl is some sort of a loner (I guess because of her job?) and this rolling stone lifestyle dulled her social skills and tact because Owl almost has no filter. She doesn't care about politeness or etiquette and barely has self control when it comes to courting danger. She's very entertaining and I so love her quips because it gets her in trouble 99% of the time. Oh and she has a super cool Mau cat named, Captain, who also serves as a vampire detector/alert.

Yes, and I still think you need to stay away from the supernaturals that are trying to kill you--and let's face it, with your mouth, that's almost all of them. - Nadya

The Others: Owl's BFF is the gorgeous and equally smart, Nadya, who is fun, quirky, and just as interesting as Owl. Nadya's a flirt, has a certain degree of fluency in ancient languages, covert, and very much like Owl. Then there's Rynn, Owl's pseudo therapist who also works as a bartender and has the hots for Owl. He's the "silent but deadly" kind of guy, not really an Alpha male, he's not domineering or on a power trip, Rynn has a certain strength and quietude about him that balances Owl's daredevil behavior. 

The Archetypes: There are some "archetypes" but just enough to make things familiar. KCharish didn't go crazy and made her creatures so unique they're practically a new breed of Supes. She merely put her own stamp on things to fit her story. For example, her vamps drink blood, they're allergic to garlic and has an aversion to UV light but they're power lies on the pheromones, which smells like lily of the valley, they give off to enthrall their prey. KCharish's dragon, yes! DRAGON! is clever, greedy, and scary. There are other creatures here and like I mentioned they're unique in their own way but the ones I mentioned headline OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS

Finally: I was really hooked on OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS from beginning to end. The human element of the story is great, Owl is a complex character and I find her flaws very endearing. KCharish's storytelling is upbeat, funny, and I love the fact that the focal point is not on the romance but on Owl's adventures. I love how the story is woven, the plot isn't layered but it's not static either. We might be on Owl's first adventure but I can already tell that there's a continuity to the story, not in terms of a series arc but the plot for Owl and the City of Angels has already started here. Anyway, I'm sure you'll be seeing this book around the sphere and if the reviewer gives OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS glowing reviews, BELIEVE IT! Adventures of Owl is a series that will be on a lot of people's list and I'm sure KCharish will have a huge and solid following because of it.

Don't forget to check out the GIVEAWAY where you can enter for a chance to win a signed copy of OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS. Contest ends 1.7.15.

Excerpt from Owl and the Japanese Circus, Chapter 3: Tokyo Rose
               I navigated the crowded platform until I located the train that would take me to the Shiyuba district, where Nadya lived. Not until I was sitting on the train and relatively sure no one had followed me did I turn my cell phone back on.
               Two messages blinked into existence on my screen; one from Oricho and one from Nadya. I checked my email—yeah international data plans—and still nothing from Lady Siyu yet, or Dragon Lady as I referred to her in my phone address book, where she’d never see it. I checked Oricho’s message first. All he said was that it was important, and to call him. Shit. Why bother leaving a message if you don’t leave any details? Why not just text? Nadya’s message was a more efficient use of long distance; she was going to be at the club late, so I was to just meet her there.
               I put my Bluetooth earbud in and called Oricho. He answered on the first ring.
               “Oricho? It’s Owl—please don’t tell me a pack of vampires are hot on my tail. If they are, so help me—”
               “Lady Siyu has successfully contacted the Paris Vampire Contingency on Mr. Kurosawa’s behalf and requested that I contact you with the information,” he said.
               Well, it wasn’t completely bad news. “Why the hell didn’t she just call me herself ?”
               Oricho paused for a moment. “Lady Siyu does not deal well with inefficient phone conversations,” he said carefully.
               “Oh, you got to be kidding me,” I said, just as the train pulled up to the next station. I checked the name printed in big black letters on the tile wall through the window; still six more to go. “Fine, well, what information did she get on Sabine?”
Another pause. Not good.
               “She said they were less than forthcoming with any relevant in- formation.”
               “That’s it? I thought you guys could make them talk?”
               “Though they were evasive throughout the entire conversation— eventually falling on the fail-safe that they couldn’t possibly keep track of every vampire in Paris—Lady Siyu is convinced they were attempting to obtain as much information from her as she was from them.”
               A chill went down my spine. Sabine was independent. “Fuck,” I said, drawing a few sideways glances. I could picture Oricho arching an eyebrow. For someone with so many visible tattoos, he sure as hell was prim and proper. “I don’t think I can stress how really not good this is.”
               “I’ve already arranged—”
               “No, you don’t understand. If she’s not with the Paris vampire pack—” I cupped my hand around my cell as a couple of other passengers glanced over at me. I lowered my voice. “If she’s not with them, then that means she’s independent.”
               “We did not agree to negotiate any other truces with other par- ties you’ve entered into disagreement with. That would be a separate agreement.”
               That kind of tunnel thinking pissed me off, and right when I’d started not hating Oricho. “You soooo aren’t getting it. I have no out- standing disagreements with any other parties. The Paris boys were it.” Well, and Egypt . . . and an assortment of antiquities departments spread over the world, but they’ve got no idea who I am. I took a deep
breath. Where to start explaining? Damn, this is why I work alone and under the radar.
               “OK, Sabine is a vampire who a major vampire organization wants info about. I’d never even heard of her until her vampire flunkie antiquities specialist showed up in your casino and accosted me. Right after I agreed to retrieve the egg scroll—to try to retrieve the scroll contents,” I corrected myself before continuing. “I don’t think this Sabine cares two tail feathers about me. I think you’ve got another tomb raider after the scroll that was supposed to be in that egg, who happens to be a vampire.“
               The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I’ll bet Sebastian hadn’t had any plans to shoot me. He’d probably been there to grab my notes and deliver me to Sabine. The fact that the Paris boys have been looking for me was just a convenient cover and the obvious conclusion we would jump to.
               I was still pissed off, so I took the time to slide another jab in . . . while I was far away from Vegas. “And since we’re talking about what we agreed to, I agreed to try and retrieve the scroll for Mr. Kurosawa in exchange for getting rid of my vampire problem. No- where in that agreement does it say I need to deal with your vampire problems.” Geez, when I say it like that, it sounds like vampires are some kind of infestation. I wonder if there’s some kind of high-tech vampire exterminator? I’ve never found one, but I’ve seen stranger. I was about to suggest it to Oricho, when he jumped back into the conversation.
               “How certain are you of this assessment?”
               I thought about it for a second. My reputation rests on transparency after all. “Let’s just say if I had to bet my life on motivation, that would be it.”
There was another measured pause on Oricho’s end. I didn’t blame him. If I found out a vampire was messing around with a business transaction . . . I imagine it’s a bit like finding out from a maid that the hotel is infested with bedbugs.
               “I will appraise my contact in Japan of our new situation and brief Mr. Kurosawa and Lady Siyu of your assessment.”
               A lot of good that was going to do me. She probably just thought I’d pissed off another vampire. “Fine, do that. Just don’t deal with it too late. Otherwise you’re going to need another antiquities specialist—”
               “In the future I will refrain from assumptions concerning the transparency of your business dealings. I recommend you do the same, and do try to be careful.” And with that Oricho hung up.
               I held the phone out for a moment. Damn, that had almost been an apology. I checked the name of the upcoming stop: Harajuku Station. My stop. I tossed my phone back in my pocket and grabbed Captain’s carrier, ready to push through the crowds waiting to get in. The door to the train slid open and Captain growled and crammed himself up against the carrier’s mesh. I froze. The faint rotting lily of the valley hit me. I held my breath.
               A Japanese woman in a pink Chanel suit stood in front of me. She glanced down at Captain, who was putting new meaning into the expression hissy fit, and then back at me. She smiled, revealing the slight points of her canines; nothing a normal person would notice, but I’m not normal. I swallowed, and it took every ounce of self-control not to bolt for the exit.
               People were getting restless on either side. Ignoring Captain, the vampire slipped around me into the train as I stood frozen. I forced myself to step onto the platform. I knew I should keep going and not look back, but I’m not known for making wise choices under pressure. I glanced over my shoulder. The vampire in the pink Chanel-style suit was standing by the open train door.
               She smirked at me. “Nice cat,” she said in perfect English right before the door closed.
               I shook my head and headed upstairs. “Just a local vampire,” I whispered through Captain’s carrier screen. “Nothing to worry about, but nice catch,” I said, and tossed him a cat treat from the stash in my pocket.

Kristi is the author of a forthcoming urban fantasy series OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS (Jan 13th, 2015, Simon and Schuster Canada/Pocket Books), about a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world. She writes what she loves; adventure heavy stories featuring strong, savvy female protagonists, pop culture, and the occasional RPG fantasy game thrown in the mix. The second installment, OWL AND THE CITY OF ANGELS, is scheduled for release Jan 2016.

Kristi is also a scientist with a BSc and MSc from Simon Fraser University in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and a PhD in Zoology from the University of British Columbia. Her specialties are genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology, all of which she draws upon in her writing. She is represented by Carolyn Forde at Westwood Creative Artists.

Follow Kristi
Website | @kristicharish | Facebook | Goodreads | Google+ | Wattpad