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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Important Update

First of all, I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas and is smack dab in the middle of awesome holiday revelry with their family, friends, and loved ones.  I know I did!

Second of all, owing to the fact that December completely got away from me, I am extending the Snowed In with Indie Authors Giveaway!  Giveaways will be going up until January 6th, and all giveaways will now be open until January 13th.  Later today, I'll be putting up a list of all the giveaways that are currently open as a part of the festival, so you another shot to make sure you entered everything. 

I'll also have my annual graphy goodness post as well as (fingers crossed!) updated review archives for your reading pleasure.  It's going to be a big push through the first weeks of 2012 but I'm looking forward to it. 

To all of you that are new followers here, welcome! I hope you like what you see.  For now, it's onward and upward!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Review and GIVEAWAY: Faery Merry Christmas

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Title: Faery Merry Christmas
Author: Jacquie Rogers
Page Count: 197 KB
Publisher: self-published
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review provided by the author in anticipation of an honest review

Synopsis:
Romance has gone awry in Faeryshire.

Who would've thought Mr. and Mrs. Claus's daughter would be "on the shelf"? Yep, Cheshya's all a'flutter because her 2,000th birthday, the last day she's eligible to take a mate, is on Christmas, only four days away, but Liam of the Red Clan, the only man she has ever wanted is otherwise occupied . . .

Terra Humanus in 1956: carhops on roller skates, the submarine races, a pink Nash Metropolitan, Lucky Strikes, Little Richard, and the Shoreline Sharks Baseball Club starring ace pitcher Liam Stone.

For the past five years, Liam of the Red Clan has lived in Terra Humanus, pitching for the Shoreline Sharks and obsessed with signing as a major league pitcher with the Cincinnati Reds. The faery queen sends Cheshya to help him achieve his goal, but in signing with the Reds, will he lose out on his true heart's desire?

What will it take to make a Faery Merry Christmas?
*****

As we're all gearing up to finish strong this holiday season, fitting in longer periods of reading can be a challenge. Sometimes a shorter book or story is the perfect thing, and for those who enjoy festive or holiday themed stories, here's one that may not have entered your airspace.

I think my favorite thing about holiday stories is the fact that no matter what else goes wrong, the spirit of togetherness always triumphs, and that's the case with Faery Merry Christmas.  It's a lighthearted story that's heavy on the happily ever after, and while there wasn't ever a moment that I seriously though the main couple were in danger of falling off the path to that happily ever after, it was a quick and fun story that was nice to read while sitting next to my parents' Christmas tree.

Cheshya is under the gun, so to speak, because she's only got a few days before she officially leaves the faery dating pool forever.  She's not optimistic about her chances of tying the knot in the time frame allotted, so instead she goes on a quest where she has to bring disgruntled faeries back around to the point where they want to come back to the faery fold.  Easy enough, right?

Well, as luck (or someone anyway) would have it, her first wayward faery is the guy she's carrying a torch for, and the one that's made it impossible for anyone else to measure up to his example.  Cheshya grows tremendously as an individual and learned that sometimes, even when you are faery royalty, things just aren't all about you:
The Queen's Quest showed me how to be useful to others and not be so protective of my own needs. For the first time, I understood the purpose and strength of following one's dream, and maybe I should have some dreams of my own that I could control, not that depended on someone else making a decision for me. I no longer had a dream. Or hope.
I enjoyed the various details and the setting elements that were included to add realism- the author's note about the minor league baseball teams and the drive ins made it clear to me that the story incorporated elements that the author had an interest in, which is something I always enjoy in a story.

How, precisely, do things work out with Liam and Cheshya, and what sacrifices do they each have to make to get there?  You'll have to read the book to find out!
*****

Jacquie Rogers has graciously offered up one digital copy of Faery Merry Christmas to one lucky winner here during the festival!  To enter, fill out the form, and that's that!  Good luck!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mid Winter's Eve Blog Hop- OPEN INTERNATIONALLY!

Welcome one and all to my stop on the Mid-Winters Eve Blog Hop!  I have FOUR prize packs up for grabs, all print books, and this giveaway is open internationally!  All you have to do to enter is fill out the Google form.  To make things easier on everyone this holiday, I'm asking folks to provide their address now, so the prize can just be shipped directly.  No confirming, no email tracking, just winning! Please note that in the interest of fairness to everyone, entries where the form is not filled out correctly and completely will be deleted.  Thanks.

While you're here, why not take a look around and explore the Snowed In with Indie Authors Review and Giveaway Festival? Giveaways are being posted every day for print books, digital books, gift cards, swag, and more!  Enter enter enter!

With that said, here are the four prize packs for this giveaway hop:

Prize Pack 1:



ARC of My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody- please note that since this is an ARC it has a different cover


Prize Pack #2:










ARC of Pharmacology by Christopher Herz


Prize Pack #3:




Finished copies of Rhymes with Cupid by Anna Humphrey (paperback) and Waiting For You by Susane Colasanti (hardcover)


Prize Pack #4:






Hardcover copies of How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-Boyfriend by Janette Rallison and The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott


And, here's the Google form for entry:
But wait, there's more!  What Book is That is home to 9 other giveaways currently open and is a stop on the King of Paine blog hop, where every comment is a chance to win a Kindle- check out the links on the right side bar and enter away!  As if that wasn't cool enough, check out the other stops on this blog hop too:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Review and GIVEAWAY: Midnight Sun

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Title: Midnight Sun
Author: MJ Fredrick
Page Count: 234 KB (Kindle format)
Publisher: self-published
Genre: contemporary romance
Copy for review provided by the author in anticipation of an honest review

Synopsis:

This wasn’t the adventure she’d signed up for…

A sexy boss, a rough crossing, and pirates—all Brylie Winston wanted was a job to help her earn money to buy her own restaurant. She hopes to earn it by working as a chef on a cruise to Antarctica. But she’s slept with her boss, which throws her off-balance even more than the rough seas and warnings of pirates in the area. And he’s determined to have a repeat performance…

Bad boy former snowboarder Marcus Devlin is running from his reputation, sent to learn the family business after decking a senator’s son and making the papers. So maybe he indulged in a last-minute fling before boarding his family’s cruise ship to Antarctica. Perhaps Fate is showing him that wasn’t so bad—the gorgeous redhead who snuck out of his bed is on the cruise. She’ll be a lovely distraction during his exile.

But when modern-day pirates take over the ship, his instinct is to protect her and the other passengers. But what does a spoiled rich boy know about saving people’s lives?
*****

Stop the presses, I'm reading and reviewing a contemporary!  The author's website bills it as romantic suspense, and I can certainly agree to that, but nobody shape shifts or has magical powers, so it's definitely a change of pace for me as a reader.

I'm totally glad I read it though, because it was a quick read, very fun, with lots of adventure and a starring couple that were a great match.  Add in the unusual setting (a cruise ship bound for Antarctica, which sounds like a lot of fun to me) and you have all the ingredients for an excellent story.

I hadn't read anything by this author previously so I definitely consider this a good introduction.  I enjoyed the fast pace of the story and the way that there were plenty of details to make the whole experience fulfilling, but not so many that the story bogs down or the plot suffers, which is definitely a peril in a relatively short novel like this one.

Marcus and Brylie are great- their chemistry comes and goes in fits and starts, and they have their own issues and hang ups that have to be dealt with over the course of the story.  We meet them at almost the first moment of their relationship and we leave them at a critical point where they determine what it is they want from each other.  It's interesting that they can deal with pirates and danger and adversity and take it all in swing but the idea of actually committing to another person put some serious motion in their ocean.

I wasn't sure what to expect going into this book (contemporaries not being among my frequent reads) but I definitely had a good time reading.  It's also worth mentioning that this is a stand-alone novel, so if you're worn out by the million series out there then this is a good chance to enjoy a stand alone book as well.
*****
MJ Anderson is giving away a $15 gift certificate to the vendor of the winner's choice here as a part of the festival!  All you have to do to enter is fill out the form.  With all the gift giving and merriment, here's a chance for you to get something for yourself!  Good luck!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Review and GIVEAWAY: Silver and Stone

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Title: Silver and Stone
Author: J.D. Thompson
Page Count: 132 pages (pdf format)
Publisher: self-published
Genre: YA, paranormal
Copy for review provided by the author in anticipation of an honest review

Synopsis:
Welcome to high school high society hell.

As if senior year at Weatherford Preparatory School wasn’t hard enough, sixteen year old Alexis Bardolph had to add school outcast to the curriculum.

A new found notoriety following a family scandal, her lacrosse star boy-friend dumping her for a former BFF and a string of perpetually bad hair days were among the many things going wrong in her already turbulent teenage life.

But when the haunting nightmares that have plagued her since childhood begin to take an eerily tangible form and several Holler Creek residents are reported missing, Alexis can’t help but wonder if there isn’t more to her hellish dreams than meets the eye.

The unexpected arrival of a mysterious and dangerously handsome new student ultimately leads Alexis to troubling truths that not even her wildest imagination could have conjured.
*****
Silver and Stone is the kind of book where you have to be willing to read to the end to get the full effect. Particularly since I started book blogging, I tend to discard books pretty quickly if they don't stand up and shout hooray and grab my interest- if I had done that here I would have certainly missed out.

I'll be honest, though- I think I finally have to face the music and admit that I may be outside the target demographic for the ritzy private school (or boarding school) filled with bubbleheaded rich twits, all of whom are out to get the main character as a focal point in a YA story. Is there anything wrong with this admittedly tried and true story element per se? No, not at all. I just have to be real and admit that I find myself rolling my eyes when characters worry about their lunchroom standing or their Prada or whatever a lot more than I used to.

To that end, I have to say that the mystery elements of this story were way more interesting to me and that I did have to wait awhile for them to be revealed. Alexis is dealing with all kinds of drama, and most of it seems pretty superficial, but it's certainly important to her, and she spends a lot of time talking about or alluding to things. I admit I wasn't terribly interested in what happened to her mom, or in her blossoming relationship with Lucas, the darkly handsome new kid who just moved next door to her.

That was my mistake, because these two elements are critical to the conclusion of the story, which comes out of the darkness and hits like a ton of bricks. I absolutely did not see the twists in this book coming, which is funny considering I just got done griping about predictable story elements. I guess what I'm trying to say is, don't be fooled by stuff that sounds familiar! The unfamiliar elements are coming, and when they arrive, you will want to stand up and pay attention.

Lucas and Alexis have a very unconventional love story, and it's only just getting started in this first installment in the series. Normally the story element that best describes their situation (and I won't name it here, because that would be a spoiler) kind of makes me itch, but coupled with the supernatural element it totally grabbed my interest and worked for me in a way I didn't expect.

What else is there to say? This story went from (in my opinion) utterly predictable to totally unexpected, and did so in such a precise way that I caught myself kind of chuckling- the author had me right where she wanted me the whole time. Well played, well played indeed.

*****
J.D. Thompson has offered up a digital copy of Silver and Stone to one lucky winner here during the festival. To enter, fill out the form below. Good luck!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Review and GIVEAWAY: The Witching Pen

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Title: The Witching Pen
Author: Dianna Hardy
Page Count: 258 KB (Kindle format)
Publisher: Satin Smoke Press
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review provided by the author in anticipation of an honest review

Synopsis:
Book One of The Witching Pen Novellas

Elena is a witch with a very special gift. She can make stories come to life with a pen. When she discovers that imagination can become reality at the stroke of her nib, she thinks it's the best thing to have ever happened ... until she meets Nathaniel. With an inexplicable hypnotic hold over her, he is a demon with a familiar face that lurks in the shadows of her world, impervious to her Witching Pen, and determined to make her create the world as he would have it - with her at his side.

In order to prevent the creation of a demon dimension on Earth, and to keep her soul intact, Elena must uncover all of Nathaniel's secrets to overcome him. But what she uncovers only seems to draw her further into his world and to the demon himself, and when the final stone is turned, what she discovers could be the very thing that ends up killing her...


Publisher's Notes:-

Book length: novella (37,000+ words)Print length: 220 pages (paperback)

The Witching Pen is a quirky, fast-paced, adult paranormal romance, with a "Buffy-esque", urban fantasy undertone.
*****

Fun book alert!  I freely admit that the angels and demons thing that seems to be popular right now doesn't usually reach out and grab me, but this book was a fun story with some interesting elements reworked in a new way.  I'm looking forward to reading more by this author.

Elena has a secret.  Well, she has a bunch of them, but probably the biggest one is that she's a super powerful witch with the power to wield a pen.  Yes, a pen.  Anything she writes with this pen comes to pass; she's learned that this is a tremendous responsibility and one that's best hidden from the world.  Add in the fact that she's doomed to be a virgin forever unless she wants to transfer her powers to whoever it is that takes her V-card, and she's got a lot on her mind.

This means that she's got to keep her secret love (and roommate- talk about awkward) Karl at arm's length, which goes about as well as one might think in a paranormal romance.  Karl knows everything about her, except for the small details about the pen, but as it turns out, there are secrets about Elena that even Elena doesn't know, which is where the bulk of the story development lies.

This is a quick read and sets things up nicely for future story installments- there isn't a lot of new ground covered here but for me as a reader, that's not a bad thing.  I enjoyed getting to know the characters and to read about Elena and Karl finally finding a way to be together as more than just friends/roommates.  I'm looking forward to reading what else develops in this series.
*****

Dianna Hardy has graciously offered up three digital copies of The Witching Pen to three winners here during the festival.  You know the drill- to enter, just fill out the form below.  Good luck!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Incoming message!

For those who are waiting for more giveaways to go live in the Snowed in with Indie Authors Review and Giveaway Festival, there are more on the way this weekend! The work week is jam packed getting ready for the break so thanks for your patience and be on the lookout for more great giveaways and reviews featuring excellent indie titles!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Review and GIVEAWAY: My Sparkling Misfortune

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Title: My Sparkling Misfortune
Author: Laura Lond
Page Count: 481 KB
Publisher: self-published
Genre: young adult, fantasy, first in a series
Copy for review provided by the author in anticipation of an honest review

Synopsis:
Lord Arkus of Blackriver Castle readily admits that he is a villain and sees no reason why it should stop him from being the protagonist of this book. After all, Prince Kellemar, an aspiring hero, has defeated him in a rather questionable way. Bent on revenge, Arkus attempts to capture a powerful evil spirit who would make him nearly invincible, but a last-minute mistake leaves him with a Sparkling instead—“a goody-goody spirit that helps heroes, watches over little children, and messes up villains’ plans.” Bound to Lord Arkus for five years of service and sworn to act in his best interests, the Sparkling is not easy to get rid of, and of course his understanding of “best interests” is quite different from what Lord Arkus has in mind.
*****

This story is super cute!  I love a good fantasy story with a rather unconventional narrator, and this story fits the bill perfectly.  Add in the fact that the story is illustrated with really awesome black and white illustrations that would be perfect as writing prompts for young writers and you have a fun, short book that's a great way to spend an afternoon.

If you were to look up curmudgeon in the dictionary, you'd probably find Lord Arkus of Blackriver Castle listed as an example.  He's rude, a self-proclaimed villain, and he doesn't care what you think about either of those things, thank you very much.  He spends his days doing respectably villainous things and he doesn't hold with heroes or the unfair attention they receive.  To that end, he tries to summon an evil spirit to give him unimaginable powers.  Unfortunately he ends up getting a Sparkling, which is like the Boy Scout of the spirit world.  Now the Sparkling is bound to him, and having a supernatural conscience isn't the best thing that could happen to a villain, to say the least.

Because the Sparkling is bound to act in Arkus's best interests, it means that many of the best laid villainous plans get stopped before they can start.  It'd kind of like what would happen if Wily E. Coyote had a bound servant whose job it was to tell him every time there was an anvil about to fall on his head.  It makes for clever and witty banter between the two of them; it isn't like Arkus WANTS his plans to fail, he just doesn't want some goody goody pointing those things out to him.

Through it all is a really thoughtful conversation on what, specifically, makes someone a hero.  Throughout the story, it's pointed out that people that want to be heroes tend to just want others to admire them, but that people who do heroic things tend to just want to be left alone, since in their minds they're just doing what needs to be done.  As the story goes on, Arkus has to decide where he fits into all of this; his inner dilemma adds depth and detail to the story that I really enjoyed.

The entire cast of characters in this story is well drawn and each adds something unique to the story.  A favorite of mine was Prince Philip, a young man who pretty much wants to be Arkus when he grows up, and reading about how Arkus deals with having an admirer like this was fun.  I highly recommend this story for fans of middle grade fantasy who are looking to start a new series.
*****

Laura Lond has graciously offered up one Kindle-compatible copy of My Sparkling Misfortune to one lucky winner here during the festival! You know the drill- to enter, fill out the form below. Thanks and good luck!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Review and GIVEAWAY: Brainstorm

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Title: Brainstorm
Author: Gordon A. Kessler
Page Count: 594 KB (Kindle format)
Publisher: self-published
Genre: thriller
Copy for review provided by the author in anticipation of an honest review

Synopsis:
BRAINSTORM: What if a small American town is secretly replicated, populated with kidnapped scientists and psychically talented civilians, and then used as a proving ground while training psychic assassins? Political and military leaders of the Free World are the targets of these psychic warriors, and Project Brainstorm's goal is world domination.

Gold Rush seems to be just another sleepy little Colorado community full of friendly, caring citizens, quaint cottages, and a sort of quiet peace, held gently by the picturesque mountains that surround it. However, something isn't right in Gold Rush, and early on a Monday morning Robert Weller awakens with a cautioning and insuppressible voice inside his head. He soon finds a secret behind every door, a motive with every glance, and a lie beneath every spoken word. After meeting a strange but beautiful woman named Sunny who insists they were once lovers, people begin dropping dead around him without apparent cause. The world he thought he knew twists upside down as paramilitary teams hunt him, and his own wife and the people he considers friends turn against him.

Weller is thrown into the middle of a military mission to rescue thousands of the town's citizens from a plot to destroy the free world. In time, Weller discovers he was once the CIA's top remote viewer, and it's not just the bad guys who will lose if he survives another day.
*****

Twisty turny paths lay ahead in Brainstorm, a story of mishap, mind control, and the quest for power at any expense.  This is a full length novel with a full and diverse cast of characters.  There is a lot going on in this story, a lot to pay attention to, but it's well worth the read.

The story shifts back and forth between first and third person, depending on what's going on in the story.  This means that there are a couple of different story threads going on at the same time, but they're closely related; what starts off as a distraught wife's search for her missing husband evolves into a nuclear showdown that threatens to eclipse the entire world.

The whole situation stems from secret government experiments involving psychic assassins, capable of controlling and manipulating world leaders with the expected catastrophic results.  The missing man in question, Dan McMaster, is front and center in these experiments and is a gifted psychic in his own right; his sudden disappearance is seriously concerning to the defense department as his psychic abilities would be of serious interest to less-than-friendly powers.

The big thing to remember about Brainstorm is that nothing is as it seems, and the book says as much when it tells you that everything you know is a lie.  We find out details about the world of the book and the creepy, creepy town of Gold Rush as the characters find it out; we have to unravel the mystery ourselves and see if we arrive at the correct answer at the end.  There are lots of political elements to keep track of (it's a political thriller so that's to be expected) and the end result is definitely something I did not expect, nor did I see it coming.

You get a lot of bang for your buck here for $.99, and for folks looking for something in the vein of The Manchurian Candidate with a contemporary flair, this is a good bet.
*****
Gordon Kessler has offered up a $25 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky winner here during the giveaway festival!  To enter, fill out the form below.  Spread the word and good luck to everyone!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Review and GIVEAWAY: Harmless Adjustment

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Title: Harmless Adjustment
Author: Kerry Kinlan
Page Count: 54 KB (Kindle format, about 9500 words)
Publisher: self-published
Genre: suspense, short story
Copy for review provided by the author in anticipation of an honest review

Synopsis:
John knows he can’t change the past, can’t undo the one thing he now wishes he had dealt with differently. But what if he can change the painful memories of it in his wife’s mind? Would that bring instant healing to her and to their relationship?
*****

A short review for a short book! This story is more of a cautionary tale than anything- if presented with the possibility of making problems just go away, would you?  What if those problems involved someone you love?

This is exactly the situation in which John finds himself regarding his wife, Natalie.  John and Natalie are bouncing around from one crappy situation to another, trying to make ends meet in impossible situations, and Natalie's mental health is deteriorating, especially in light of the birth of their son.  John doesn't see things from Natalie's point of view but understands that he's got to do something or else his marriage is over, plain and simple.

The solution John comes up with is to talk to Amaria, a witch, about removing all of Natalie's memories from the past three years, which is the amount of time that their life has been in shambles.  When Amaria says she'll erase all the memories from that time, she means it; literally not a single memory will survive.  The implications of this should be pretty clear.

There is a lot going on in a very short number of pages here, and a lot of ground is covered very quickly, even though there are only a few characters and most of them are referenced incidentally.  The ultimate dilemma of the story- what price would you pay, or have someone else pay, to have your circumstances be different?  You'll have to read the book to find out the answers to those questions, at least as to how they play out in Harmless Adjustment.

I will say, honestly, that there's a very quick and even build up of events and a very quick resolution that leaves quite a bit to the imagination.  I think a certain amount of this is to be expected, though, I mean it is a short story.

Will this story be for everyone? Probably not, but most things aren't, and the price point ($.99 on Amazon but free for Prime members) is fair.
*****
Kerry Kinlan has graciously offered up three digital copies of Harmless Adjustment to participants in the festival!  To enter, just fill out the giveaway form below.  Good luck!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Review and GIVEAWAY: Medium Dead

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Title: Medium Dead
Author: Chris Dolley
Page Count: 474 KB (Kindle format)
Publisher: Book View Cafe
Genre: urban fantasy
Copy for review provided by the author in anticipation of an honest review

Synopsis:
Medium Dead is a fun urban fantasy chronicling the crime fighting adventures of Brenda – a reluctant medium – and Brian – a Vigilante Demon with an impish sense of humour. Think Stephanie Plum with magic and a dash of Carl Hiaasen.

Brenda Steele is smart, funny and out of her depth. A Vigilante Demon called Brian wants her to find murdered spirits and help him track down their killers. But Brian doesn't just catch criminals, he likes to play with them first, and make the punishment fit the crime. As he tells Brenda, “if all you did was turn up, capture the bad guy then leave – century after century – you'd die of boredom.”

He's also reckless – his last partner died during one of his takedowns.

Along the way, Brenda discovers that Brian isn't as old, or as powerful, as he led her to believe. He might even be human. Whereas the murderer they're hunting, and the child he's holding prisoner, might not.
*****

Chris Dolley's writing is nothing if not multifaceted.  I've read a couple of his books now, and each one is a different experience from the previous ones and yet the same silliness and humor is present in all of them.  Medium Dead is different from his previous offerings in that the writing is grittier and the details more explicit- I wouldn't think that whole Vengeance Demon thing would be like reading a Little Golden Book, but there you are, but there are threads of comedy running through this story even at its darkest times.

You have to love when quotable quotes jump off the page at you on the first page, and that's what happened here:
And all through that the ghost hadn’t said a word. Even when Celeste, who last week had become a lesbian, discovered that Geraldine, her new partner, was actually her father – who’d had to have a sex change ten years earlier when he’d been forced into the witness protection program following his wife’s murder by the albino Mafia. Or was that the Albanian Mafia? It was difficult to tell in the excitement. Celeste was screaming so loud, and Brenda’s coffee had gone down the wrong way.

Brenda's life is kind of circling the drain when we first meet her at the opening of the book. She's going nowhere in a hurry and trying to piece her emotional existence back together and life just deals her blow after blow and it's all she can do to not blow away in the storm. In walks Brian, and he proceeds to upset her existence more than any other drama in her past could ever hope to.

Brian is kind of like a real life bull in a china shop. He's completely focused on his goals at all times and oftentimes doesn't think about how anything he does will affect anyone, himself included. He's on a quest to avenge people who've been wronged with as much pizzazz as he can manage, and that's all that he cares about. This leads to a lot of Monty Python esque antics between him and Brenda, since her life was sedate to say the least before Hurricane Brian blew into town.

I have to say that personally it was the Python-esque antics that kept me entertained throughout the book, to the point that they kind of overshadowed the whole catching the super bad guy element. This is a book that toed the line between dark comedy and something more serious; for me it came down more squarely on the comedy side, but for others I can see the action taking precedence and the comedy seeming to come in second place. Neither scenario is bad, it just reflects a difference of opinion for readers.
*****

Chris Dolley has offered up digital copies of Medium Dead and another of his books, An Unsafe Pair of Hands, to one lucky winner here at What Book is That?! This is a winner take all giveaway, so one person will win both books! To enter, just fill out the Google form below. Easy!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Yuck!

I am recovering from the stomach bug so giveaway festival posts will resume once I'm recovered. Thanks!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Review and GIVEAWAY: Fruitbasket from Hell

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Title: Fruitbasket from Hell
Author: Jason Krumbine
Page Count: 502 KB (Kindle format)
Publisher: One Stray Word
Genre: Sci-fi, Comedy, first in a series
Copy for review was obtained as a freebie from Amazon

Synopsis:

Steven Raines (you know, the man who made billions making an operating system that out-Microsoft-ed Microsoft?) has hired Alex Cheradon(private investigator) to look for his missing daughter. Good news: It's a million dollar payday. Bad news: she may be a Satanist hell bent on bringing the Devil to Earth.

The dead bodies are piling up. Vampires are crawling out of the woodwork. And there's something named Pookie that's lurking around the corner.

Breathtakingly paced, the jokes and wisecracks fly fast as Alex races against the clock to save the day.

This is Book 1 in the Alex Cheradon Series.
*****
 
When I reviewed another of this author's books back in July for my last indie extravaganza (that book was Two and a Half Dead Men for those playing along at home) the aspects of the story that were most enjoyable to me was the wry, witty narrative and the banter between the characters. I'm happy to report that the hits just keep on coming in this story, which is a totally different series and features a totally different cast of characters.

Alex Cheradon is a lazy private investigator, the holder of a massively painful debt to a loan shark named Giggles, and spends most of his time trying to avoid one calamity or another. Fortune seems to smile upon him in the form of super rich techno god Steve Raines walks into his office and offers Alex a million dollars plus his regular rate and expenses to find his missing Satanist daughter; Fortune likes to play jokes apparently, and Alex embarks on a seriously twisted journey from there.  Add in a seriously disturbed ex business partner and Alex has a lot on his plate.

The story twists and turns and there's more length here to work with and therefore more details in the story, so keeping everything straight takes a little more effort on the part of the reader.  There is some history between the characters too, but it doesn't bog the story down and it's easy to keep track of.  There are also some supernatural elements here as well, but there's no complicated worldbuilding or rules of engagement to keep track of- vampires are mindlessly evil and want to suck your blood, demons are evil and want to wipe you off the map, full stop.

Like I said, the wit and the snappy one liners are here in force, and here is just one example, from a conversation between Alex and Nick, his assistant:
“Christian’s back in town.”
“Would that be the same Christian who used to be your partner and then went suddenly insane and tried to kill you?”
“Do you know any others?”
"No, but there are a lot of people who want to kill you, I just wanted to make sure that there weren’t any others named Christian.”
“You know, if I kill you, no one would ever know.”
Zing!
*****

Jason Krumbine has graciously offered up a digital copy of Fruitbasket from Hell to one lucky winner!  To enter, simply fill out the Google form.  Good luck!


Friday, December 2, 2011

Review + GIVEAWAY: inkBLOT

festival button
Title: inkBLOT
Author: Johnson Naigle
Page Count: 821 KB (Kindle format)
Publisher: Crossroads Publishing House
Genre: YA, mystery
Copy for review provided by the authors in anticipation of an honest review

Synopsis:
Eighteen-year-old web entrepreneur Ronnie Wright owns the virally popular website, inkBLOT. Determined to sweep local newspaper reporter, Chelsea Pressman, off her feet, he tries to wow her with his internet success.

Chelsea has one goal, making it big as a reporter. Unfortunately the editor isn’t tossing any good stories her way. But her luck changes and she is first in line to cover a string of bizarre crimes. The notoriety she’s gaining from the front-page stories is addictive.

The police finally trace the crimes to a common link – inkBLOT.

Now, Ronnie has to clear his name as the number one suspect in Chelsea’s headline crimes.
*****

A fun fact about inkBLOT is that it's set near my currently locale, Virginia Beach!  I just needed to throw that out there before we get down to business.

I classified inkBLOT as a YA novel, but it probably falls into that New Adult subgenre that's starting to be seen as a distinct entity.  The characters are out of high school for the most part and starting their professional lives, but are still maturing and growing into their own identities and trying to figure out what they want out of life.  With that said, they are each a work in progress; Ronnie is riding high on the success of inkBLOT, his social networking program based on the inkblot personality assessments but just can't seem to get the girl of his dreams to notice him, and Chelsea is happy as a clam to land a full time reporting job at the local newspaper but quickly realizes that it's a long way to the top and that approval from her Dad, which she wants more than anything, may just not be in the cards for her.  That doesn't stop her from making decisions that will dramatically affect loads of other people though.

Against that backdrop of having to finally make do as an adult is the wider story of the connection between the crimes Chelsea is reporting on and inkBLOT.  This is a story about actions and consequences, about wanting things you can't have, and about not seeing (or refusing to see) what's right in front of you the whole time.  This is one of those stories where we see all the pieces to the puzzle and have to observe as the characters figure things out.  The ending is swift and the resolution makes sense in the context of the characters and their desires.

I really enjoyed the social media facets of this story and the impact that online profiling and things like that could potentially have in the wrong hands.  There are a lot of motivations in play, and I also liked that while I didn't agree with why people did things (Chelsea in particular made me want to get my tongue scraped, and her vivid characterization only added to that- kudos to the authors) I did understand why they did those things.

All in all this was an interesting, engaging book about flawed characters trying to find their own pieces of happiness.  If you're in the market for something new, give it a try!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Review + Kindle Giveaway Tour: The King of Paine

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Title: King of Paine
Author: Larry Kahn
Page Count: 562 KB (Kindle format)
Publisher: North Atlanta Press
Genre: suspense
Copy for review provided by the author in anticipation of an honest review

Synopsis:
A desperate patient. A rumored cure. How far would you go to find the fountain of youth?

Frank Paine is not your prototypical FBI agent. He's an ex-Hollywood stud with a kinky past, an irreverent wise ass who craves forgiveness from the woman he loves. When a ruthless stalker uses Frank's indiscretions to ensnare him in a sultry cat-and-mouse death match, his investigation points toward a missing biochemist. His hunt for her secret haven takes one tragic turn after another, until he finds himself facing an impossible dilemma. Someone will die as a result of his decisions, and it may be his soulmate. Or him.

This intricately-plotted whodunit will keep readers turning pages into the wee hours. More than just a mesmerizing story, King of Paine offers fully-rendered characters who grapple with a range of intriguing end-of-life issues while everything they care about is at stake.

Readers who liked The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo or the novels of Greg Iles will enjoy settling in with King of Paine for a sexy, thought-provoking ride.
****

King of Paine is different from other novels of its ilk- there are a lot of elements in play here and many threads to keep track of, and the characters are deliberately drawn imperfectly, which means having to take your own position and stand by it and see for yourself how that affects the story.

As the synopsis states, Frank Paine is not your typical FBI agent, nor is he similar to any other narrators of that flavor that are out there.  He's making a pretty drastic career change, from Hollywood star to law enforcement, and he desperately wants this transition to go well and for his second career to be long and productive, and not quite so dramatic as his first one.

You see, Frank has something of a secret.  He was a secret superstar on the BDSM scene at the same time that he was churning out mainstream blockbuster movies; his secret identity couldn't be revealed or his backers and handlers would drop him like a flaming bag of dog doo.  To that end, he puts his own wants and desires ahead of those people whom he's supposed to care about, and then feels guilty about it ever after.

Frank doesn't realize it, but his sense of entitlement is of truly epic proportions.  He has a lot of trouble separating personal preferences and issues from other areas of his life, and he spends a lot of time judging people when he needs to spend more time keeping his mouth shut and focusing on not treating people like things.  I'm not talking about the dimensions of his BDSM relationships either; he truly believes that people should behave the way that he wants them to simply because he wants those things, and doesn't take into consideration that other people might want something different.

This unclear sense of self is what permits a truly creepy bad guy to push Frank's buttons pretty much from the onset of the story.  You wouldn't expect a story that starts off with a newly minted FBI agent trying to figure out how to keep his personal past separate from his new professional life to take the path it does, but there are lots of issues to be explored here.  What is the difference, truly, between fantasy and reality and what role does the anonymity of the internet play in that?  At what point does a person's health and well being trump their self-determination?  What role do outsiders get to play in that determination?  There are lots of issues to think about here and it adds depth to the story.

I'll be honest and say that the twists and turns of the relationship between Frank and Jolynn didn't do it for me, but that's a personal preference; even if Frank's devastation of Jolynn's feelings and personal life were accidental, or at the very least not deliberate, I just couldn't accept that they could do a complete 180 like they did.  This is personal preference though, and there are plenty of other elements to enjoy here.

I will say, also, that this is a thoroughly adult novel, with adult themes and elements, and it makes no apologies for that.  I didn't mind it at all as a reader but others may want to be informed.

This book epitomizes some great things about reviewing indie books- this is a story I may not have discovered on my own but now that I've read it I'm happy I did.  At $.99, it's a good bargain too- what's not to like?

*****

Larry Kahn is doing a full court press to promote King of Paine and as a grand prize is giving away a Kindle Touch 3G!  There are a ton of entries up for grabs just for helping to promote the story! Larry's website has the entry form and loads of other ways to enter, but you can get ONE entry just for commenting on this post! Yes, any comment on this post is an entry in the giveaway!  Larry will be drawing a winner for all the prizes on December 22nd.  You can get one entry for commenting on each post of Larry's blog tour:

12/1   What Book Is That?: Review & Snowed in with Indie Authors December Giveaway Festival
12/2   From the TBR File: Book Giveaway & Review
12/3   Live To Read: Guest Post “Researching An FBI Story”
12/4   The Write To Make A Living: Review, Book Giveaway & Guest Post “Writing Thought-Provoking Suspense: Social Themes”
12/5   Thoughts In Progress: Guest Post “Who Are You Chatting With?: The Dangers of Anonymous Internet Communications”
12/6   Boekie’s Book Reviews: Review & Author Interview
          Owl Tell You About It: Review
12/7   Owl Tell You About It: Guest Post “Researching the Psychology of BDSM”
12/8   All the days of: Book Giveaway & Guest Post “Crafting Intricate Plots: My Writing Process”
12/9   The Top Shelf: Review & Author Interview
12/10  Darlene’s Book Nook: Book Giveaway & Guest Post “Rooting for a Flawed Protagonist”
12/11  Larry Kahn: Interview with Frank Paine “Getting Inside The Mind Of A Madman”
12/12  Full Moon Bites: Book Giveaway & Author of the Week Interview
12/13  The Book Diva’s Reads: Review & Guest Post “Buried Treasures: Treats for the Watchful Reader”
12/14  Alive On The Shelves: Guest Post “When Eye Candy Fights Back: Adding Depth To a Love Interest”
12/15  The Enchanted Book: Review & Guest Post “What Can You Expect From A 99-Cent E-Book? ”
12/16  Opinions of  a Wolf: Book Giveaway & Review
12/17  Black Diamond’s Book Reviews: Book Giveaway & Review
12/18  Thoughts In Progress: Review
12/19  CMash Loves to Read: Book Giveaway & Guest Post “My Inspiration For King of Paine
12/20  Goodreads: Live Q&A With Larry Kahn (1-2pm; 7-8pm)
12/21  Purple Jelly Bean Chair Reviews: Review, Author Interview & Book Giveaway

That's 22 entries right off the bat, and a great opportunity to discover some new blogs and support a good book!
 
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