Sunday, November 18, 2012

Khe by Alexes Razevich

Title: Khe
Author: Alexes Razevich
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Self (September 5, 2012)
Available: $3.99 at Amazon 
Rating: 5 stars
Rater: Dihanna

From the publisher:
Khe loves her life with her sisters on a farming commune. When she realizes her ability to accelerate crop growth is a death sentence, she makes the wrenching decision to leave the only home she's known.

Fleeing across the wilderness, she makes her way to the city of Chimbalay--in search of the scientists who can save her life.  But Chimbalay has its own dangers.  The Powers are there--the secret rulers who have chosen Khe to be the mother of a monstrous new race.

What I liked: I really enjoyed reading this book.  I loved the main character, and found her courage inspiring.  The way the author draws the characters together, especially the sisters, left me smiling to myself many times. This is, at heart, the story of a woman’s power, and it’s told through not only the main character, but through the sisters, and through the Lumani and Weast (read it to decode!). Bottom line in this book – and in life! - never underestimate the power of  a woman.

What I didn’t like:  Nothing.

In sum: Very well written with a very good story. Read it.

The Queen's Martian Rifles by M.E. Brines

Title: The Queen's Martian Rifles
Author: M.E. Brines
Genre: Sci fi/ Steampunk
Publisher: Self (November 5, 2011)
Available: $2.99 at Barnes and Noble
Rating: 5 stars
Rater: Dihanna

From the publisher:
Does the secret to the origin of Mankind lie within the Great Pyramid of Mars? In this alternate steampunk adventure, the technical genius, Nicola Tesla, invented an anti-gravity coil that made steam-powered spaceships possible in the last decades of the 19th century. But the British empire, and the other western colonial powers have powerful extraterrestrial enemies no one suspects even exist.

What I liked: This was my first steampunk novel, and I was a little reluctant to read it. What I found, however, was a completely original, eclectic story – including travel to Mars! – with a pleasantly twisting plot and characters I really got into. The story moves quickly, and doesn’t take too long to be told.

What I didn’t like:  There is some religious stuff that I could have done without. Doesn’t detract from the story, though.

In sum: This book convinced me that steampunk isn’t a genre to scared of. If you’re considering it, this is a good one to start with.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fatropolis by Tracey L. Thompson

Title: Fatropolis
Author: Tracey L. Thompson
Genre: Fantasy Fiction
Publisher: Pearlsong Press (October 20, 2012)
Available: $4.99 at Amazon
Rating: 5+ stars
Rater: Dihanna

From the publisher:
Most of her life Jenny has felt she's not good enough, not attractive enough, because she's fat. Then one day she stumbles through a portal between a world that values thinnes and one that values roundness.
Sometimes falling can wake you up.

What I liked: What is beauty, and why don’t we ask that question more often? Sometimes we have to juxtapose norms to understand how arbitrary they are, and Ms. Thompson has done just that. I flat loved every page of this book because the journey it documents is one we should all take. I think people should learn to accept themselves no matter what size they are, and know all the way through that being fat doesn't diminish their intelligence or make them any less valuable. And besides the message, the writing is great. It’s not just a good read; it flowed very well and kept me captivated.

What I didn’t like:  I didn’t like that the story ended.

In sum: It isn’t often that a book comes along that can touch your soul. Every single high school should require that its students read this, and you should read it, too.

**caveat: one of this site’s reviewers has published books with the same publisher, though that is not the reviewer who wrote this review. This fact in no way influenced the review.

The Color of Greed by Jack Thompson

Title: Color of Greed
Author: Jack Thompson
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Crackerjack Publishing (July 29, 2012)
Available: $4.99 at Amazon
Rating: 5 stars
Rater: Dihanna

From the publisher:
When the young husband of a wealthy heiress is found dead on his yacht floating off the California coastline, his death is ruled an accident and the case is closed. The grieving widow, certain her husband was murdered but getting no help from the police, turns to Raja Williams, a wealthy Oxford-educated private investigator, who has dedicated his resources to help those in need of justice. When Raja arrives in Los Angeles and more bodies begin to pile up, he suspects a coverup that may go as high up as the governor. With the help of his partner Vinny, a highly skilled hacker, Raja must unravel the case before everyone involved, including the two of them, winds up dead. 

What I liked: “Wow” is all I can say. The name of this book fits perfectly - it was a story about greed – greed – greed. I loved the characters. They came alive for me, most especially Raja and Vinny. Their struggles touched me. The story flowed easily – like water - and was so riveting that I was unable to put it down.  I read to escape, and this book was packed full of everything you would expect a mystery to be and then some more.  A great read and look forward to reading more.

What I didn’t like:  Nada.

In sum: I’m keeping this one.

The Rescue Team by Billi Tiner

Title: The Rescue Team
Author: Billi Tiner
Genre: YA/Animal Fiction
Publisher: Self (July 26, 2012)
Available: $2.99 at Amazon
Rating: 5+ stars
Rater: Lauri

From the publisher:
Ellie is shocked and confused when her owners leave her at the animal shelter. Feeling abandoned and unloved, Ellie spends her days staring vacantly through the gate of her pen. Ellie’s life changes when she is finally adopted by a compassionate woman named Anne. Ellie and Anne form an unbreakable bond of love and friendship. A thunderstorm drives Toby, a young frightened kitten, to Anne’s porch. Anne and Ellie immediately welcome him into their family. One night, they hear an emergency broadcast announcement that a little girl is missing in the woods near their home. Anne, Ellie, and Toby join in the search to find her, and an incredible rescue team is formed. The team will be called upon again when a tornado tears through their town. Will they find any survivors?

What I liked: This is a book that should be on every child’s bookshelf. In it, a child can explore some tough and scary situations inside the safe medium of a story, and her parents can be certain the story tells her the right things. In these pages, a couple of abandoned animals find their way to Anne, whose heart is as big as the world. Sometimes things are hard, but this adoptive family learns to stick together, and their love truly saves the day. (And best of all, my son loves this story.)

What I didn’t like:  Not one thing.

In sum: Buy this for your kids - today. It’s a must-have. And if you read my reviews, you know I almost never say that.

Fire, Burn and Cauldron Bubble by HP Mallory

Title: Fire, Burn and Cauldron Bubble
Author: HP Mallory
Genre: Vampire Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Self (July 2, 2010)
Available: FREE at Amazon (as of today’s date)
Rating: 5 stars
Rater: Dihanna

From the publisher:
A self-deprecating witch with the unique ability to reanimate the dead.
A dangerously handsome warlock torn between being her boss and her would-be lover.
A six hundred year old English vampire with his own agenda; one that includes an appetite for witches.
The Underworld in a state of chaos.
Let the games begin.
Life isn’t bad for psychic Jolie Wilkins. True, she doesn’t have a love life to speak of, but she has a cute house in the suburbs of Los Angeles, a cat and a quirky best friend.
Enter Rand Balfour, a sinfully attractive warlock who insists she’s a witch and who just might turn her life upside down. Rand hires her to help him solve a mystery regarding the death of his client who also happens to be a ghost. Jolie not only uncovers the cause of the ghost’s demise but, in the process, she brings him back to life!
Word of Jolie’s incredible ability to bring back the dead spreads like wildfire, putting her at the top of the Underworld’s most wanted list. Consequently, she finds herself at the center of a custody battle between a villainous witch, a dangerous but oh-so-sexy vampire, and her warlock boss, Rand.

What I liked: Amazing. Awesome. Could not put it down. Most of all, I loved the relationship between Jolie and Rand!  I love the tension, the almosts, and what felt like genuine affection. There’s a triangle here though, including a vampire named Sinjin, but his interest is more primal, and I could never bring myself to root for him. I loved this book so much that I read the series.  It flowed very nicely and like how the story carried itself without wondering where or why.

What I didn’t like: I can’t think of a thing.

In sum: If you love paranormal romance, this is your next book.

The Last King of Shambhala by Daniel Grant Newton

Title: The Last King of Shambhala
Author: Daniel Grant Newton
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Self (March 6, 2012)
Available: $5.15 at Barnes and Noble
Rating: 5 stars
Rater: Dihanna

From the publisher:

Asgard Kingdom, 10,000 years ago...
Odin is in search of a thief – Idun's apples are missing, and without them the gods are, well, no longer 'godly'.
Europe, 1942...
A gorgeous Russian spy, a British psychic spy wannabe, and an other-worldly mystery man must work together to find and destroy the Nazis' secret 'mind weapon' before it's too late.
Australia, Present Day...
A school kid with an attitude problem and a questionable attendance record, finds himself between two worlds. One moment he's getting into fights at school, the next he is in a strange world with a talking monkey, a Beserker with a much-too-healthy ego, and a strange girl that channels a Moon Demon – sorry, a Moon Djinn.
... Confused? So is Matt Damon, an amnesic man (named after the movie star), found close to death in the Himalaya Mountains by a Nepalese family. Yearning to remember his past, he is given a book that interweaves these three stories, with the promise they will all piece together to reveal his identity.
Embark on a new kind of journey of myth, fantasy, love and... well, peculiarity.

What I liked: Wow! This was so much like The Never Ending Story, and it, too, never ends. And so what else can I say except that I loved it. The characters are loveable, and real, and I just kept turning the pages, long after I should have gone to bed. The story rolls along, pulling you with it. And far too soon it’s over.

What I didn’t like: It was, at times, a little hard to follow, and that did detract from the story.

In sum: An absolute must-read. Must.

The Light Within Me by Carly Fall

Title: The Light Within Me
Author: Carly Fall
Genre: Sci Fi Romance
Publisher: Self (November 1, 2011)
Available: FREE at Amazon (as of today's date)
Rating: 4 stars
Rater: Dihanna

From the publisher:
When Abby and Noah meet, there is an explosive attraction between them that neither can deny . . .
As a shy, awkward, social misfit, Abby has gone her whole life feeling as though she's different from everyone else and she simply doesn't fit in well with society as a whole. She longs to feel a real connection with someone, and she finally does when she meets Noah.
Unbeknownst to Abby, Noah is from another world and his sole purpose is to hunt down the evil of his people that was unleashed on Earth hundreds of years ago. He's certain he isn't going to be able to return to his home, and anger and the need for revenge are his constant companions. His focus has been eradicating the evil and making them pay for taking his life on his world away from him.
Noah tries desperately to fight his attraction to Abby so he can keep his focus on his mission. But when Abby gets dragged into the evil and mayhem from Noah's world, he realizes that maybe with Abby he can find a home here on Earth...if he can save her in time.

What I liked: This author weaves a good story, and does so with skill. Noah, who is 522 years old, comes to Earth to capture the criminal colonists who had escaped from their planet that they had been placed on.  Once there, he meets Abby. She strikes something in him, even though he is not quite familiar with relationships with Earth women. He fights it, of course, but they are just too good together. As the story progresses, they both learn important things about themselves, and about what they need to do. In sum, I do think this was well written. The author cast believable characters, and the story caught me. And I sure would not mind reading more about these characters.

What I didn’t like: Too much sex, and too much graphic sex. I’d like to see less sex and less relationship development reliant on it, and more other plotty stuff in any book, including this one.

In sum: This is a really good story, one for the sci fi - romance fans, but be advised that there is a lot of sex. For the erotica lovers, this is a 5-star book.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Friends for Life by Billi Tiner

Title: Friends for Life
Author: Billi Tiner
Genre: YA - Animal Fiction
Publisher: self (May 8, 2012)
Available: $2.99 at Amazon
Rating: 4 stars
Rater: Lauri

From the publisher:
Bo and Rico are two puppies who meet at a pet store. The puppies are dognapped from the pet store by two goons. Realizing they are in danger, Bo and Rico must work together to escape the dognappers. After their escape, Bo and Rico find themselves scared and alone on the mean city streets. They are rescued by a streetwise stray named Tank. Tank takes the puppies under his wing and teaches them how to survive on the streets. Bo and Rico embark on several adventures including avoiding the local Animal Control officer, Jimmy; several run-ins with a pack of dogs led by a stray named Mongrel; and rescuing a beautiful lost Poodle named Pearl. Through it all, Bo and Rico form an incredible friendship that will last a lifetime.

What I liked: My son (9) and I have read this twice. It’s a sweet, heartwarming story featuring dog protagonists, and stresses the courage it takes to overcome some scary obstacles. The adventures are fun, the characters are goodhearted, and there’s enough action to keep young readers interested. My son enjoyed it both times.

What I didn’t like: I am a huge, huge no-kill animal rescue advocate (I donate all proceeds from my own books' sales to no-kill rescue), and for two reasons I tend to stress the importance of never buying dogs from breeders: one: puppy mills, and even non-mills don’t generally treat mamas well at all; and two: thousands of unwanted pets die every day in shelters, so why in the world are we breeding more? The dogs in this story are from a breeder, as are most dogs in pet stores, and I would have given this book five giant stars if the dogs had been rescues, or from a shelter or rescue group. If you read this book to your kids, or let them read it, make sure you know this going in, and explain these issues to your kids in words that fit their learning and emotional levels.

In sum: My son and I liked this book, and I’d recommend it for elementary-aged kids, with the caveat I listed above.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Hint of Frost by Hailey Edwards

Title: A Hint of Frost
Author: Hailey Edwards
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Samhain Publishing (April 17, 2012)
Available: $4.24 at Amazon
Rating: 5 stars
Rater: Dihanna

From the publisher:
When her mother is murdered in her nest, Lourdes has one choice: she must marry before her own nest is seized. All she needs is a warrior fierce enough to protect her city and safeguard her clansmen. Such a male is Rhys the Cold. 
Rhys’s clan is starving, but their taste for the Araneaean flesh makes them unwelcome dinner guests. Yet Lourdes threatens to melt the cold encasing his heart. When her sister is captured, they pursue their enemies, where she will discover if she’s worth her silk or if she’s spun the thread by which her clan will hang.

What I liked: I sure wish I could have read this book before I read book two, A Feast of Souls (review below), which I adored. In any case, this book was worth reading on its own. Most of all, I loved the relationship between Mava and Rhys. I loved how it developed and how strong, and how completely possessive, he was. In fact, I think I want a man just like him!  Because it made for a fabulous contrast, I also loved the hate-love thing going on between Rhys and Vaughn. It made me shake my head, and smile, because no matter what, brotherly love does survive.

What I didn’t like: Nothing.

In sum: I loved this book. It is a good read for intrigue and suspense, and to remind you that love does indeed conquer all.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Word to Dear Reader

I was just perusing our reviews, and a thought occurred to me. I bet readers wonder why all of our reviews are three stars or higher.

Well, the truth is that if we hate the book, we simply don't publish the review. That doesn't mean that the book is "bad," however. We're all different people, and sometimes we're not going to like something that someone else would. But when we don't like it, we just don't say anything at all. After all, who wants to read a bad review? And wow - a bad review can really make an author - someone who's spent countless months writing a story - feel horrible.

So here's the bottom line: If you don't see it here, it means we either haven't been asked to review it, or we reviewed it and didn't have anything nice to say. It also means that the books we do review here are genuinely good, and worth reading. (Note: you may occasionally see a below-three review of a trending book if we think something needs said about it.)


A Feast of Souls by Hailey Edwards

Title: A Feast of Souls
Author: Hailey Edwards
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Samhain Publishing (December 18, 2012)
Available: UPCOMING $4.40 at Amazon
Rating: 5 stars
Rater: Dihanna

From the publisher:
The only way to save her is to bind their souls as one. 
Araneae Nation, Book 2 
Born with the ability to communicate with the dead, few things take Mana by surprise. But when a canis lopes into her life, announcing himself as the long-dead father of a childhood friend, she’s shocked. To make matters worse, he has a dire message that she alone can deliver. 
Now Mana must face Vaughn, the male who inspired one too many girlish fantasies, and impart the spirit’s message—without acknowledging her source—so the soul can be laid to rest. 
With rumors of a burgeoning clan war setting his nerves on edge, the last thing Vaughn needs is for an innocent to get caught in the crosshairs. But the woman he remembers as an awkward girl refuses to leave his side until he’s heard her out. That’s not the only change in her that calls to him. Her kindness soothes his battle-scarred soul—and he craves her in ways a warrior shouldn’t. 
When they are both captured, they learn of an even greater threat. The plague devastating the southlands has come to his clan home. And his best—and only—chance to keep his people alive is the female who walks among the dead. 
Warning: This book contains one fierce hero with a nose for danger, one stubborn heroine who smells like trouble, and one wolfish spirit who makes most relationships with the in-laws seem downright tame. Fur, fangs and some biting should be expected. But never fear, the hero has a sword, and he knows how to use it.

What I liked: I really, really liked this book. I sat down to look it over, to decide what order to put it in as I have so many to read, and I ended up reading it through. I literally could not put it down! I loved Mana and wanted to jump in and help her several times. The love relationship between Vaughn and Mana was sweet, and grew more precious as it proceeded. I loved that Vaughn's father, the ghostly vision of a canis, helped Mana get Vaughn to the place where he could rule, and he was relentless to the end.  I held my breath hoping Mana and Vaughn were going to be tied together.  Mana never would stop and refused to quit and in doing so, all fell into place, and she saved not only her own race but others also.  Yes – yes – yes! - a good read! 

What I didn’t like: Nothing.

In sum: It isn’t often a story will sweep you away. This one will.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Sundered by Ruthanne Reid

Title: The Sundered
Author: Ruthanne Reid
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: 4th Floor Publication (May 10, 2012)
Available: $2.99 at Amazon
Rating: 5 stars
Rater: Dihanna

From the publisher:
Harry Iskinder knows the rules: don't touch the water, or it will pull you under. Conserve food, because there's no arable land. Use Sundered slaves gently, or they die too quickly to be worthwhile. 
The problem is, the Sundered Ones are dying out, and humanity is running out of time.
With extinction on the horizon, Harry searches for a cure: the Hope of Humanity, the mysterious artifact that gave humans control over the Sundered centuries ago. According to legend, the Hope can fix the planet, removing the deadly water and giving back the land.
But the Hope holds more secrets than Harry knows, and Harry has a choice to make. Either the Sundered survive and humanity ends, or humanity lives for a while, but the Sundered are wiped out. 
The time for sharing the Earth is done. Harry never wanted this choice. He still has to make it. In his broken, flooded world, Hope comes with a price.

What I liked: I thoroughly enjoyed this book!  I just loved Aakesh and his surly attitude.  He was the sort of friend that I wish I had.   And who wouldn't love Gorish with his loving ways?  In fact, What I especially  liked about this book  was the devtotion that Gorish had for Harry - aka Harold Iskinder – who went looking for Hope and discovered secrets I never saw coming.   It was both a sad and happy book, much like life.  I feel the writer made it clear that the reader was to make a choice which side they would take. This is a 5 star book!

What I didn’t like: the story was too slow paced at first, and I thought it was a tad too long.

In sum: A must read for sci fi fans!

Dark Isle 2 by Shannon Mayer

Title: Dark Isle – Book 2
Author: Shannon Mayer
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: HiJinks Ink (July 8, 2012)
Available: $2.99 at Amazon
Rating: 5 stars
Rater: Dihanna

From the publisher:
When evil begets evil, a choice is forced on Quinn, the one person who can see the danger. Does she save the ones she loves, or does she save the world from Chaos? 
As the realms of Fae and human collide, Quinn's future has never looked so grim, or so damn impossible.

What I liked: Once I started reading this book I could not put it down.  It was easy reading with no slowdowns and kept me turning pages to see what would happen next.  I was especially curious as to how Quinn would save her sister, Ashling, and of course the world.  I loved Luke's character as he was certainly someone I would have loved in my life.  The book made me think about how we have to see people and figure out who is a friend and who is really not.  Aednat the banshee is not someone I would care to meet but thought that the book brought up many good things for it made me look at myself and my personal  relationships.  I cried when Cora died as who could ever have had a more wonderful friend and protector.  I thought the book was very well written and easily give it 5 stars!

What I didn’t like: I can’t think of a thing.

In sum: I really enjoyed this book, and you will, too, if you read pararomance.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Heart of a Hero by Billi Tiner

Title: Heart of a Hero
Author: Billi Tiner
Genre: YA/Animal
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (February 28, 2012)
Available: $2.99 at Amazon
Rating: 5 stars
Rater: Lauri

From the author:
Lady, an Irish Setter puppy, is leading a simple life on a farm in Ohio during the 1940’s. Lady’s biggest desire is to become an expert hunting dog like her mother. She has no idea that her life is going to take her down a path where she will find herself in the middle of incredibly dangerous situations, including a world war. On several occasions, Lady will have to find the courage to risk her life in order to save someone she loves. The loyalty and bravery that Lady shows throughout her lifetime illustrate what it truly means to have the heart of a hero.

What I liked: Ms. Tiner’s second adventure story is just too cute. And the story really moves. This dog truly is the hero – she goes from situation to situation, and sometimes things are very sad. She carries on, keeps loving, and does her very best. It’s a story about some of the most important things that help makes us – dogs and people – good.

What I didn’t like: Neither my son nor I liked the dog’s name. It’s just too trite. Maybe Jenny, or Oya?

In sum: One for all animal-loving kids, and grown-ups who like this genre.

Welcome Home by Billi Tiner

Title: Welcome Home
Author: Billi Tiner
Genre: YA/Animal
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 24, 2011)
Available: $2.99 at Amazon 
Rating: 5 stars
Rater: Lauri

From the author:
Welcome Home is the story of Jake, a black Labrador Retriever mix. For as long as Jake can remember, he has been having the same dream. In his dream, he lives with a wonderful man in a beautiful home. He has never seen the face of the man in the dream, but he knows his voice and is certain that they are meant to be together. When the day comes for Jake to be given away to his new home, he believes that he will finally get to meet the man from his dreams. However, when he is chosen, it is definitely not by the man from his dream! He is taken to a home where he is terribly mistreated. After suffering years of abuse, Jake finally escapes and is able to begin the search for the man he has been dreaming of his entire life. Along the way, Jake meets some interesting characters, survives amazing adventures, and forms life-long friendships. Join Jake on his incredible journey home.

What I liked: This is a sweet, sweet book, and I loved that the hero is a dog. My son, who is nine, loved this book, and really got into the story. It’s a gentle adventure, but delves deep enough to inspire warmth and teach a lesson or two.

What I didn’t like: Not one thing.

In sum: Well worth owning - for dog lovers of all ages.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Elle Hill: National Adopt-a-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week

You must go visit:

Elle Hill: National Adopt-a-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week: Yes, I know this is an author’s blog. Yes, I’m aware I’m an author. Yes, I have some idea that I should probably, like, write: 1. More o...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Deadly Obsession by Kristine Cayne

Title: Fit to Kill
Author: Kristine Cayne
Genre: Mystery/Romance
Publisher: Self-published (January 1, 2012)
Available: $0.99 at Amazon
Rating: 4.5 stars
Rater: Lauri

From the author:
When an Oscar-winning movie star meets a department-store photographer...
Movie star Nic Lamoureux appears to have a playboy's perfect life. But it's a part he plays, an act designed to conceal a dark secret he carries on his shoulders. His empty days and nights are a meaningless blur until he meets the woman who fulfills all his dreams. She and her son are the family he's always wanted--if she can forgive a horrible mistake from his past. 
A Hollywood dream...
Lauren James, a widowed single mother, earns barely enough money to support herself and her son. When she wins a photography contest and meets Nic, the man who stars in all her fantasies, her dreams, both professional and personal, are on the verge of becoming real. The attraction between Lauren and Nic is instant--and mutual. Their chemistry burns out of control during a photo shoot that could put Lauren on the fast track to a lucrative career. 
Becomes a Hollywood nightmare
But an ill-advised kiss makes front-page news, and the lurid headlines threaten everything Nic and Lauren have hoped for. Before they know what's happening, their relationship is further rocked by an obsessed and cunning stalker who'll stop at nothing--not even murder--to have Nic to herself. When Nic falls for Lauren, the stalker zeroes in on her as the competition. 
And the competition must be eliminated.

What I liked: This is a great story. It rocks, it rolls, it hits highs and lows, and it pulls you along like a caboose. And truth told, I enjoyed the ride. In fact, I sat in my favorite chair and read most all of it in one day.

What I didn’t like: I would have liked to have seen more character development. Not with plot, or revelations of a tumultuous past, because this story has both, but of a very distinct voice for each of the characters. Sometimes the two mains sounded too much alike in dialogue.

In sum: A fun, fun read, and well worth picking up.

Fit to Kill by Donnie Whetstone

Title: Fit to Kill
Author: Donnie Whetstone
Genre: Thriller/Mystery
Publisher: Self-published (March 3, 2012)
Available: $4.99 at Amazon
Rating: 5 stars
Rater: Dihanna

From the author:
How do you stop a personal trainer, who fantasizes about killing his clients, then carries out his gruesome desire on someone else? Making matters worse, how do you stop desires for your own trainer, jeopardizing your marriage, more troubling, do you want to? That’s what Detective Tara Tanner must solve in this crime thriller. 
La Flore is renowned for its elite personal trainers. This model city however, faces a crisis. Someone is on a killing binge. The killer is vicious and cunning. He harbors a profound irony for one of the nation’s fittest cities, and the way he selects his victims makes him untraceable, but this predator has a weakness.  
Tara Tanner is a wife, mother, and a crack detective whose record is blemished by a tragic case that leaves her feeling she has lost her edge. Tara has other demons. She dreads becoming like her mother, a temptress and philanderer, made worse by her uncontrollable attraction for her own trainer.  
Fit to Kill is a non-stop thriller of fantasy, temptation and redemption, a deadly game of chase, in which the line is marred between predator and prey, a game that reveals how far one will go to kill, and how far the other will go, to survive.

What I liked: I really enjoyed this book.  I think Tara Tanner was a great detective.  I think she had a few problems she had to work out but her husband Dale was always there emotionally which was very nice to see.  I liked the fact that she did not give up.  I think the story was very well written. The author created realistic, believable characters, and the plot moved very nicely without any hiccups at all.  I was impressed with the family values displayed in this story, and the message that a determined person can attain what they believe really resonated with me.

What I didn’t like: Nothing.

In sum: An excellent book, and well worth reading. I recommend it!

E-Learning 101 by Liz Hardy

Title: E-learning 101: It's not as tough as it looks
Author: Liz Hardy
Genre: Nonfiction self-help
Publisher: Self-published (June 1, 2012)
Available: $9.99 at Amazon
Rating: 4 stars
Rater: Lauri

From the author:

E-learning 101 is a one-stop e-learning resource.
This e-learning e-book will cheer you on, while it shows you the ropes. It's just like having your own personal e-learning coach.
This e-learning resource can do three things for you.
1. Save you time - by quickly explaining how everything works (it's much faster than guessing on your own).
2. Stop you worrying - by replacing your fears with action and progress.
3. Make you more confident - by giving you step-by-step strategies for dealing with the tricky parts.
E-learning 101 can help you if you're:
* Anxious about e-learning
* Procrastinating about getting started
* Too busy to wade through enormous books about online learning
* Keen to make progress on your e-learning course right now.
In 6 short lessons, you'll find the solutions to your biggest e-learning questions.
And you'll discover that e-learning's really not as tough as it looks.

What I liked: This is my first foray into a self-help "how to learn" book. I imagine the target audience of this one includes Generation X and Baby Boomers, as e-learning wouldn't seem to be a frightening or unknown prospect to the Ys and 00s. In any case, the tone is conversational, and the tips are logical and well thought out. Lots of good tips here that will indeed help an e-learner ground themself before launching into that first online course.

What I didn’t like: The book is not for true beginners. It's too short, too clipped, and provides no definitions or referrals. I imagined my mother, a Boomer, taking an online course, and this book would not help her. My mom uses email and surfs the net, to a degree, granted, but a lot of the directions in this book (e.g., "learn what assignments are due" without explaining how to do that) are not going to help folks who truly have no idea how. And too, the book is too expensive for this genre IMO.

In sum: A good resource for someone taking their first online course -- providing the person is moderately or more web-savvy.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Vampire for Hire Series by J.R. Rain

Title: Moon Dance (and all others in the series)
Series: Vampire for Hire
Author: J.R. Rain
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
Publisher: Self-published (August 10, 2009)
Available: Book one is free at Amazon; others are $3.99
Rating: 5 stars for books 1 and 2; 3.5 stars for the others
Rater: Lauri

From the author:
Mother, wife, private investigator...vampire. Six years ago federal agent Samantha Moon was the perfect wife and mother, your typical soccer mom with the minivan and suburban home. Then the unthinkable happens, an attack that changes her life forever. And forever is a very long time for a vampire. Now the world at large thinks Samantha has developed a rare skin disease, a disease which forces her to quit her day job and stay out of the light of the sun. Now working the night shift as a private investigator, Samantha is hired by Kingsley Fulcrum to investigate the murder attempt on his life, a horrific scene captured on TV and seen around the country. But as the case unfolds, Samantha discovers Kingsley isn't exactly what he appears to be; after all, there is a reason why he survived five shots to the head.

What I liked: I lost a family member this weekend, and I read to deal with grief. Just my deal. Anyway, so this last weekend I read all of the books in this author’s “Vampire for Hire” series. Book one hooked me in two pages. I love the main character, and her wry, intelligent sense of humor. I love that she is a dedicated mom, and that she is in her 30s. Best of all, the story in book one is better than just “well done.” The author obviously put an amazing amount of thought and blood and work into this story. It's cute and sweet and flows effortlessly. And then book two stole my heart. Several times I found myself tearing up during tender scenes, and wanting to hug one or more of the characters. The issues are horrific at times, but tastefully dealt with. I have nothing but the highest praise for these two books.

What I didn’t like: After book two, the stories become utterly formulaic. The writing skill is still there, lurking beneath the surface, but reading any of the books after one and two is like talking to someone who’s preoccupied: you just aren’t getting their full attention. The story is hollow, and stumbles here and there. Leaps are made that don’t quite make sense, or where the foundation is inadequate. A romance develops, and there the backstory is so thin I found myself annoyed. There are four main lines of tension, and they don’t really change, and that gets tiresome by about book four.

In sum: All in all, I liked the books, and I’d read them again. But even if you don’t want to put out all the money for all the books in this series, absolutely do read books one and two. Do!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James

Title: Fifty Shades of Grey
Author: E.L. James
Genre: Erotic Romance
Publisher: Vintage (April 3, 2012)
Available: $9.57 at Amazon (and the e-book is $9.99!)
Rating: 2.5 stars
Rater: Lauri

From the publisher:
When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.
Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

What I liked: I don’t ordinarily read erotica, so let me preface my review with that disclaimer. That said, I am happy to report that the sex acts in this book weren’t retold so explicitly that I had to skip those parts. The sex is, however, central to the story’s progression, and perhaps the author attempts to use it to symbolize something bigger that two grunting bodies. (I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt here.)

What I didn’t like: A lot. Most everything, in fact. I read this book because it’s so popular right now, and while I knew it was erotica, there is a lot of erotica out there, and so I expected something – grand. Above the crowd. Or at least really good.

I didn’t find it.

Someone recently said of this book that it’s like a teenage fantasy, and I think that nails it. Christian (Grey) is like 28 and a billion-billion-billionare? Really? With a really big penis? And he wants to dominate Ana's every move, in the bedroom and out?

And she’s a 22-year old, super-super na├»ve virgin who swoons at his feet every time he even looks her way?

Oh – come on! Really? Really?! 

The writing isn’t horrendous. The sentences don’t all start with “She” and “He.” But the writing skill skids to a halt right there. The plot is ridiculously shallow. And every other sentence describes how Ana is biting her lip, doubting her self worth, and just generally debasing herself over and over and over and over and over and over and over. It’s truly abysmal writing, and I sure wish I could get my ten bucks back.

In sum: Yeah; the publisher was right. This story will stay with me forever. But then, so does taste aversion after a good food poisoning.

If, like me, you just have to see what all the fuss is about, borrow the book from someone. For the love of God - don’t buy it.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Special Offers by ML Ryan

Title: Special Offers
Author: M.L. Ryan
Genre: Contemporary Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Running With Scissors Publishing (February 10, 2012)
Available: $0.99 at Amazon
Rating: 5+ stars
Rater: Dihanna

From the publisher:
Hailey Parrish is quick-witted, irreverent, and hasn’t had a date in three years. She only wanted an eBook reader because her collection of paperbacks threatened to take over her small living space. Little did she know that the "special offers" that prompted the purchase included much more than a reduced price in exchange for a few ads. The device came pre-loaded with the essence of Sebastian Kess, an erudite womanizer with magical abilities from a parallel dimension. When she inadvertently releases him and he inhabits her body, she finally has a man inside her, just not in the way she imagined. And soon her predicament introduces her to yet another supernatural, the handsome could-be-the-man-of-her-dreams Alex Sunderland. Can Alex and Hailey find a way to return Sebastian to his own body, stay one step ahead of the criminals who want to keep him where he is, and not lose their sense of humor?

What I liked: I flat loved this book!  I loved the idea behind this story, the plot, the writing, and the characters, and Sebastian in particular. I loved his sense of humor, and how testy-naughty he can be. And Hailey was wonderful. She discovered herself and managed to hold fast to her magnificent sense of humor.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and am looking forward to reading the Coursodon Dimension Series!  I rate this book 5.5 out of 5 stars – easily!

What I didn’t like: Not one thing.

In sum: If you miss this one, you will regret it.

The Return by Carter Vance

Title: The Return
Author: Carter Vance
Genre: Religious Fiction
Publisher: Self-published (unknown date)
Available: $2.99 at Amazon
Rating: 4 stars
Rater: Dihanna

From the publisher:
The Return is an action thriller that challenges us with the possibility that Jesus Christ is returning now. “The world currently in a state of upheaval and getting more chaotic everyday,” states Carter Vance, author of The Return. “Many of the prophesized signs of the end times are here, now, and are an indication of the possible return of Christ.”
What if the Knights Templar never disbanded and have amassed, over the centuries, virtually unlimited resources in anticipation of His return?

What I liked: This books is most assuredly about Good versus Evil and the return of Christ. Here the author speculates about what the Templar’s status has historically been and what it is now.  I enjoyed this author’s characters as they were so kind, and the portrayal of the KT made me completely sympathize with them. I loved that in the end good does indeed conquer!  I found this a good, well written story.

What I didn’t like: I felt great sadness that several characters, including one I adored, died.

In sum: Very well worth the read.

Blood Lite III: Aftertaste anthology

Title: Blood Lite III: Aftertaste
Author: Anthology edited by Kevin J. Anderson
Genre: Horror/Paranormal Fantasy
Publisher: Pocket Books (May 29, 2012)
Available: $7.99 at Amazon
Rating: 3 stars
Rater: Lauri

From the publisher:
Sink your teeth into a smorgasbord of macabre morsels laced with horrific humor in this all-new Blood Lite collection! Whether you shriek with laughter or scream in fear . . . well, that’s simply a matter of taste.

What I liked: I adore horror, and bought this book to read as I traversed the skies during my recent travels. And some of the stories are better than great. Jim Butcher’s, for one. And I love the “smorgasbord,” as the pub calls it, approach to reading. It’s a blast, and you get to dip your tongue into so many different flavors – plots, characters, storylines, descriptions. And short stories are a better choice if you’re attention is wandering, or if, like me, you have a child to watch, too.

What I didn’t like: Some of the stories were horrifying, and not in a good way. That they didn’t contain spelling errors is perhaps the best thing I can say about them. The plots of those several were beyond trite, or so shallow I could see right through them. Melodramatic dialogue. All telling and no showing. Too much explained and not enough revealed. These stories seemed to be written by brand-new writers who had no editors to bleed the stories into some semblance of good.

In sum: Unless the price is lowered an awful lot, I absolutely will not buy another one of these books. Even the half of the stories I liked cannot make up for the half that I didn’t.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Hour of Predators by Lane Stark

Title: The Hour of Predators
Author: Lane Stark
Genre: Mystery/Horror
Publisher: Self published (March 22, 2012)
Available: $2.99 at Amazon
Rating: 4.5 stars
Rater: Dihanna

From the author:
"It was the hour of prowling bears, circling nightowls, vengeful spirits, and savage hearts. It was the hour of predators."
Two gruesome murders have shocked and divided the community of Bella Coola, a small, isolated village in a remote river valley on the coast of British Columbia. The evidence points to a teenaged Nuxalk boy, and the simmering tension between whites and tribe members heats up. RCMP Inspector Marcus Chao must sort through misleading clues, cultural conflicts, tangled relationships, sexual scandals, and even rumors of sorcery to find the truth.
Marcus is a man whose life has skidded into remorse and misery. His own infidelity has ended his marriage to the woman he still loves, and now he finds himself with only two things to keep his sinking spirits afloat: the need to serve justice and his eternal fascination with solving the puzzle of the crime. This latest puzzle, however, is proving to be a maze of intrigue, and his mettle as well as his principles will be tested.

Warning: Potential Spoilers!

What I liked: This writer writes extremely well, and she draws her characters with true skill. They’re clear, and believable. The plot is logical and well thought out. The mystery is not completely predictable. I read this in one day because I wanted to know what happened.

What I didn’t like: This story is just too grisly for my tastes. Central to the plot is the repeated rape of a teenage child. The descriptions of the murders are too graphic. I felt upset pretty much throughout the entire book. From the technical, the story jumps around far too much, and that makes it extremely difficult to understand and follow.

In sum: This book should be regenred as horror. For the folks that like those stories, this book is doubtless well worth the read.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Dark Man's Son by Meg Whitlock

Title: The Dark Man’s Son
Author: Meg Whitlock
Genre: Fantasy Adventure
Publisher: Self published (June 4, 2012)
Available: $2.99 at Amazon 
Rating: 4 stars
Rater: Dihanna

From the publisher:

She claimed the muggers were demons, but of course Jason didn’t believe her. At first.
When a mysterious woman appears in a dirty alley to rescue Jason Latimer from a pair of muggers, he tries to write her off as a garden variety lunatic. But he can’t shake the memory of her intense green eyes that seemed to flash gold, or the glowing sword she’d worn on her hip.
She calls herself Alex (no last name) like she’d made it up on the spot, and she offers Jason her protection. From what, she can’t or won’t say. He refuses, and that night he dreams of a dark man with the same offer. His black eyes flash blood and garnet, and he smells of burning things. Jason refuses him, too.
A chance meeting brings Alex and Jason together again, and she tells him of the Guardians: two immortal beings created near the beginning of time with the express purpose of fighting for mortal-kind’s soul. She is Light, and the man from Jason’s dream is Dark. Jason must choose, because Lucifer, for reasons purely his own, has unleashed the armies of Hell to hunt Jason down.
But there are things about Jason that not even he knows, and he’ll face hard truths and bitter choices as he struggles to find his place in a world redefined. Will he rise to the challenge, or, when the time comes, will he falter?
From Renaissance Florence to the French Revolution, from World War II to the modern streets of New Orleans, The Dark Man’s Son is a riveting journey filled with unforgettable characters, wry humor, dark twists, and a touch of romance.

Warning: Spoliers!

Jason was a just normal kid with a step dad who treated him very well and who grew up to be quite a good man.  On an auspicious night he was attacked by two demons, but before the worst could happen, a woman - "Alex" - appeared and stepped between him and the demons. On what seemed a strange whim, the woman told Jason to ask her to be her guardian because she could not help him unless he asked.  After several things happened he did ask.

As the story unfolded, I came to love her – this woman - because she had the kindest nature. She forgave everyone and tried to find the good in everything and everyone.  In her searches, she discovered that her brother was in fact Jason's father (Cassius-another Guardian) and his mother was a human.  Lucifer wanted to get Jason into Hell so that he could then be free to roam the earth.  To do that he poisoned the Lady of Light and kept her in purgatory.  Jason, after meeting Lucifer on several occasions, decided to make the trade for the Lady of Light but when the trade went down Cassius The Dark Guardian (his father) took Jason's place which left Jason to fight Satan on the earth to kill him.

I rated this story four stars for two reasons: I was surprised to see Werewolves and Vampires, and didn't think they belonged in this story (and they didn’t really add anything meaningful). Second, the plot was a bit too predictable. This was, however, a well written story that was extremely fun to read. I recommend it without hesitation to every fantasy fan.

Aristeia II by Wayne Basta

Title: Aristeia : A Little Rebellion (Book 2)
Author: Wayne Basta
Genre: Adventure/Battle Star Sci Fi
Publisher: Grey Gecko Press (May 30, 2012)
Available: $4.99 at Grey Gecko Press
Rating: 4 stars
Rater: Dihanna

From the publisher:

"I like a little rebellion now and then...The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all." -Thomas Jefferson
Unlike her brother, Saracasi Ocaitchi has always known that her loyalties belong to the ideals of freedom and democracy, not the government of the Alliance, and that protecting those ideals would require a fight. But now that the rebellion she has dreamed about has finally begun, she must come to terms with what that truly means: for herself, for her brother, and for all of the people who will die in the coming war.
Written in the spirit of heroic space adventure, Aristeia: A Little Rebellion is the second book in the Aristeia series by author Wayne Basta. The first book, Aristeia: Revolutionary Right, is available now.

It was amazing. As in the first book in this series, I felt I was a part of the fighting right along with Maarkean and his sister, Saracasi.

This story is rocking, rollicking adventure that pulls you in from the first page. The two siblings’ trials reminded me of why wars are won: determination and tapping into the hero that lies within us all.  Not only were these two heroic, but they knew when to lean on others for help (and I loved the character Zeric, without whom they most likely would not have survived many times).  I loved how they rose about fear and bitterness even when faced with betrayal and such harsh trials.

I would like to have a friend like either of these two, and I was sad when the story ended.

As in the first book, I rate this a four star because some of the descriptions are too involved and hard to follow. Otherwise, like the first book, this is a great, great read.

Aristeia by Wayne Basta

Title: Aristeia: Revolutionary Right
Author: Wayne Basta
Genre: Adventure/Battle Star Sci Fi
Publisher: Grey Gecko Press (December 14, 2011)
Available: $4.99 at Grey Gecko Press
Rating: 4 stars
Rater: Dihanna

From the publisher:

A former naval starfighter pilot, Maarkean Ocaitchi once fought to protect the Alliance and its principles of freedom and democracy, but his sister's rebellious past forced them both into a life of smuggling. He nevertheless refuses to believe her assertions that the whole system is corrupt... until she is arrested and condemned to death as a traitor.
Now, Maarkean must decide where his loyalty lies, and will either spark a rebellion or help crush the spirit of democracy once and for all. The experience will challenge everything he thinks he knows about resistance, loyalty, and friendship.
Written in the spirit of heroic space adventure, Aristeia: Revolutionary
Right is the first book in a series by new author Wayne Basta.

Frankly, I don't usually read battle star sci fi, but I found myself pulled in to this story from the first page. For one, the characters are very interesting.  Maarkean and his sister, Saracasi, are trying to live a semi-calm life. Adventure ensues. A lot of it. As Maarkean struggles and tries to take care of his sister, he is forced into learning about  loyalty, perseverance, developing friendships with otherwise enemies, and ultimately about perseverance and democracy.  I think what struck me most was the simple, yet profound message that being a hero is simply doing what needs to be done and never giving up.

The detail is amazing.

I rate this a four star story because some of the descriptions are too involved and hard to follow. Otherwise a great, great read.

Final Solution by Michael Davis

Title: Final Solution
Author: Michael Davis
Genre: Sci Fi Adventure
Publisher: Champagne Books (May 7, 2012)
Available: $5.99 at OmniLit 
Rating: 5 stars
Rater: Dihanna

From the publisher:

Three stellar wars have stretched the ability of Earth’s ruling authority, the Council, to control the populace across twelve star systems. Unrest among the people threatens the oppressive reign of the government and they’re left with one option: to execute the Final Solution. Their grand scheme is so abominable; should the truth leak out, it could threaten stability of the Order and incite open rebellion. 
For their plan to succeed, they must depend on the unique talents of one telepathic man and his blue skinned wife. The couple becomes unwilling pawns to help the Council expand beyond Dominion space into new regions of the galaxy. They unravel lies within lies and discover the scheme risks, not just the New Earth Empire, but the very fabric of the universe. The destiny of humanity itself, and the quest to resolve the ultimate enigma of all sentient beings, falls upon the unlikely duo.

This is a story that pulls at your brain, and your heart.

Logan Riggs, our hero, fights hard for what he thinks is right, and he loves just as passionately.

What touched me most, in truth, was Logan's love for his wife, Cali (he calls her “Little One”).  Cali is from a different planet (Vega Star System), and loves her people very much. She also knows that they have been abused and even tried to be obviated from existence.  I also loved the relationship, the dynamic, between Paxton, a giant of a man, and Riggs, who are are constantly on opposite ends, but still working in the same army so to speak.  It’s funny how the story takes you to the place where the answers are usually found: in your own front yard.

In the end, Cali’s love saves Logan, and helps him finally see how to fulfill her life's ambition -- and when he does, he saves himself and Paxton.  And a race.

I have no minuses, or caveats. It’s a remarkably good story, well thought out, touching, and very worth every bit of 5 stars. Or 6.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Full-Bodied (Book) Blog: Stereotyping—In Fact & Fiction

It's me, it's me! Come see, come see! 

The Full-Bodied (Book) Blog: Stereotyping—In Fact & Fiction: Pearlsong Press Week continues with a guest post from author Lauri J Owen .  Lauri is a civil rights author who grew up in Idaho’s ...

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Tribute to Pearlsong Press

You gotta come see -- the whole week is fabulous ---

The Full-Bodied (Book) Blog: A Tribute to Pearlsong Press - “Healing the World ...: This week on The Full-Bodied (Book) Blog, I am featuring the publisher and authors at  Pearlsong Press . I recently discovered the works...

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Watchmaker's Lady by Heather Massey

Title: The Watchmaker's Lady
Author: Heather Massey
Genre: Clockpunk/Science Fiction/Erotic/Romance
Publisher: Red Sage Publishing
Available: $3.11 from
Rating: 4.25 stars
Rater: Pippa


Matthew Goddard is a lonely watchmaker in 1840, New England. One fateful day, he discovers the lover of his dreams in a dusty corner of the local general store--Isabel, a bisque porcelain mannequin head with mesmerizing, smoky blue eyes. When Matthew invites her to come live with him, she eagerly "accepts."

The couple embarks on a lust-filled affair, one fueled by Matthew's wild imagination. In order to provide Isabel with a brass body and pretty clothes, he begins a secret side business selling clockwork sex toys to his wealthy female customers.

Danger, however, threatens their idyllic romance when a disgruntled customer exposes Matthew's forbidden business to the townspeople. Despite the growing menace, Matthew will stop at nothing in order to save his soul mate--and protect their love.

Reader Alert!

Matthew Goddard's lover Isabel may be a clockwork automaton, but that doesn't prevent them from enjoying forbidden, uninhibited sex at every opportunity.

While on the surface this may seem another erotica story, underneath it lies a sweet and timeless romance where two soul mates manage to meet, and even death holds no barrier. The beautiful detailing in the writing perfectly reflects the time that it's set in. At first I though Matthew a sweet but deluded man, driven into a realm of illusion by his loneliness. But as the story unfolds you begin to wonder if it really is all in his head or whether there is life in his clockwork lady. The end has a surprising twist. I don't normally read erotica, but here it really underlines the repressed society in which Matthew lives and works, and the lengths that some people will go to in order to release their supressed sexual tensions in a time where the merest hint of impropriety is frowned upon. Despite the quirk in his nature, I felt very drawn and sympathetic to the character of Matthew.

The sex and language are very explicit, although that probably won't be a 'bad' for fans of erotica. Some might find the abrupt shift of setting in the final chapter a little jarring.

For fans of erotica, this will probably satisfy your craving, and with a new twist on the genre to keep it fresh. Providing you aren't easily offended, this is a touching love story with a real period feel and some interesting quirks. Very hot.

Please note - Critique de Book DOES NOT accept requests to review erotic romance or erotica. This is a book that I won, read and reviewed for my own satisfaction, and not representative of the genres generally accepted by the review site.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Super Zero by Rhonda Stapleton

Title: Super Zero
Author: Rhonda Stapleton
Genre: Superhero/Science Fiction Romance
Publisher: Rhonda Stapleton
Available: $3.12 at
Rating: 4.5 stars
Rater: Pippa


Working for superheroes isn't all it's cracked up to be...

When Jenna’s superhero boss The Machine gives her the opportunity to safeguard the changing crystal (a jewel that grants, changes or removes superpowers) she jumps at the chance, eager to do this so-called "cake" job and earn street cred with the Midwest League of Superheroes. To help her mission, the League assigns her a partner, the mysterious and super-sexy Vigilante. Too bad he's also super-grouchy--what a tragic waste of hotness.

Soon, Jenna learns the threat to the changing crystal is all too real, and her list of trustworthy people grows shorter by the minute. But when she discovers something even more sinister afoot, involving Vigilante's sexy arch nemesis Dementrix, it'll take all her skills to keep the mad villainess from executing her plan to unmask and decommission the world's superheroes...especially when Jenna accidentally becomes one herself.

Super Zero is a 64,000-word novel.

This is a humorous and romantic read that throws you straight into the story without any info dumping, with believeable and consistent characters, no sections that drag and some great snarky one-liners. My favourite had to be the reference to the posturing of a couple of supervillains as having gone through 'Captain Kirk's Superhero School for Overactors'. It was so compelling and entertaining that I had to read it from start to finish in one sitting - luckily at 64K words it's a fairly quick read, but it still felt a complete and complex story. It's written in first person which I normally dislike, but that didn't stop me enjoying it thoroughly.

There were one too many references to the main character's belief that she was a strong, independant woman - usually just before she melted in a puddle. I felt it was a little tell-y in places too.

This is a sweet and warmingly romantic superhero story with no explicit bedroom scenes, some nice twists, some great humour, and all wound up nicely in just 64, 000 words. I f you've enjoyed films like Mystery Men and The Specials, then this is definitely a book for you.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Out of the Ashes by Lori Dillon

Title: Out of the Ashes
Author: Lori Dillon
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Amari Press
Available: $3.99 at Barnes and Noble
Rating: 5 stars
Rater: Dihanna

Theirs was a love destined to be -- torn apart by the wrath of Vesuvius.

Warning: spoilers!

After many tries to get male 2028 and female 5923 together, Marsha and Hershel – Guardian Angels – are called into the office of Mr. Smithers – the King of Heaven – to explain why they have not succeeded to get them together before they died – killed in the eruption of Vesuvius.  Smithers decides to send these two to Earth to help them personally, but without their Heavenly powers. 

It’s now June 1943 in Pompeii, Italy. Here Serafina and David meet again, and although attracted, do not pursue each other. Serafina is an archaeologist and David has been thrust on her to help her with her digs. She has found other artifacts but the glory was stolen from her and now has found another site. Things happen, and little by little they get to know each other.  

As an aside, many things go wrong, and have to think that if I had Marsha and Hershel as My guardian angels I would have thought perhaps they could have done a better job.  They do eventually fall in love but of course something is always standing in the way, so Mr. Smithers finally as to come down and set things straight.  Serafina does make a great discovery not knowing that in the last previous life with David that they both died together and were forever entombed together.  They do end up together and having 2 children together and living a long happy life. 

I can honestly tell you that I cried while I read this book!  I highly recommend it, and give it the highest score possible. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Word From Julie Anne Lindsey

Thank you so much Lauri for allowing me to be a part of your blog today. It’s fun being here. I’ve been looking forward to it. Meeting other voracious readers has been the best part of writing for me so far. I fancy myself a reader – who happens to like writing. You’ll find me with my nose in a book more often than typing up a story. Reading fuels my brain and often gets me feeling creative, but let’s face it, there are so many incredible books and amazing authors to read…it’s hard to find the time to cook or clean let alone write novels LOL. One thing I make time for every day is laughter. That’s how Death by Chocolate came to be. 

I’m a dedicated member of our local Baptist church. A shocker to most, but true none-the-less. I don’t fit into the mold with the same accuracy as some, but I’m happy there, and can thank a fund raiser for starting the tired little hamster I call a brain back on the wheel. I sat watching my kids dive and crawl under tables while a ginormous line of people came by for chicken noodle soup. The church ladies were raising money for a missionary, I think, or it was a celebration dinner? That part is fuzzy. What I remember with clarity is watching them smile and ladle soup into white Styrofoam bowls. All I could think of was how much damage those sweet ladies could do before anyone ever suspected them. They could cause a great upheaval and be long gone before we knew what hit us. I found this thought exciting. What if they dosed the chicken soup? Roofied us? YouTubed us and ruined the whole church as payback for a perceived wrong? Or what if they were the kid of nuts that think “The end is near so let’s take out all our loved ones with this cyanide and chicken soup.” What if? What if? What if? 

Soon the poor little hamster was going rocket speed. I started making notes on my napkin. The rest they say is history – for me it’s the present – potato – potato. Because I love irony, like talking babies on commercials, the idea made me smile. It still does. If you get the chance to read Death by Chocolate, I hope it makes you smile too ; )

Death by Chocolate
Ruby Russell has reached her limit. When she discovers her hipster husband has a dirty little secret, she whips him up a Viagra-infused-chocolate mousse punishment, but in the morning, her husband's a stiff. Armed with a lifetime of crime show reruns and Arsenic and Old Lace on DVD, Ruby and her best friend Charlotte try to lay low until after Ruby's son's wedding, but a nosy therapist, meddling minister and local news reporter are making it very difficult to get away with murder.
Video trailer here

About Julie:
I am a mother of three, wife to a sane person and Ring Master at the Lindsey Circus. Most days you'll find me online, amped up on caffeine & wielding a book.

You can find my blogging about the writer life at Musings from the Slush Pile

Tweeting my crazy at @JulieALindsey

Reading to soothe my obsession on GoodReads

And other books by me on Amazon

Friday, April 27, 2012

Unacceptable Risk by Jeanette Grey

Title: Unacceptable Risk
Author: Jeanette Grey
Genre: Science Fiction Romance/Cyberpunk
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Available: $3.50 at Samhain Publishing
Rating: 5 stars
Rater: Pippa

Plot Summary:
She may learn to live for love…if vengeance doesn’t kill her first.

Plix spends her lonely, gritty life trying to solve the mysteries her father left behind. Armed with a variety of cybernetic enhancements and a talent for getting into places she shouldn’t be, she searches for clues to his murder—and who’s responsible for poisoning her city.

Waking up on a street corner with her brain wiring fried to a crisp, she figures she must have gotten close this time. There’s only one man she trusts to pull her back from the brink: a tuner who can retrieve the evidence hidden deep in the recesses of her mind. A man she dares not let too close to her heart.

When Edison downloads a secret SynDate schematic from Plix’s burnt-out circuitry, he knows with dreadful finality that nothing—not even the fiery kiss he’s been holding back for years—will stop her from pursuing her quest past the point of insanity.

All he can do, as he helps her plan her final mission, is ease her pain, watch her back…and hope one of them doesn’t pay with their lives.

Product Warnings
Contains a heroine intent on kicking ass and taking names, a high-tech dystopia, cybernetic body modifications, and emotionally charged, sensual romance. 

The Good:
This is a sad but sweet story, with a dark, gritty edge, that made my heart ache for the two central characters. Plix isn't the usual kick-ass heroine - she's quietly but irrepressibly determined, tolerating huge amounts of pain and grief to fulfil a goal, denying herself anything remotely like a normal life. Edison is geeky but strong, and while Plix's blind stubborness drives him to despair, he still does his best to help her even as it carves out his heart every time. Their struggle to repress their obvious feelings for one another had me in tears.

The Bad:
I struggled to find anything to criticise. There is a slight element of repetition in Plix's two forays for information that made me wonder if the opening was a flashback and now I was seeing the events in real time, but the fact that she gained something new told me it wasn't.

In Sum:
This book absolutely tore my heart out. None of the technology is overdone if that's something you struggle with in reading scifi, and yet it's comprehensive and believeable. There's an equal balance between the romance and the science fiction elements. Loved it and want more.