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!