Friday, December 31, 2010

Win an Amazon Gift Card. Up to $50 in prizes!

Here's how it works: Purchase any of the books shown below during the month of January and you will be entered in our gift card drawing. One entry for each book purchase. Already purchased all of them? Why not gift one to someone you love? Forward your reciept to breakoutbooks (at) gmail (dot) com to be entered. (Subject Line: January Blog Tour Giveaway)

Reining In by Dawn Judd

The Royal Dragoneers by M.R. Mathias

Color Me Grey by J.C. Phelps

Dragon Academy by Diane Nelson

The Butcher's Boy by Michael Robb

Best Picks for 2010

I've read so many great books this year, so picking my favorite is not an easy task. Honestly, I did not read a bad book at all this year, so any of the books that don't make the list should be considered to be honorable mentions. Without furthur ado, here are my top picks for 2010.

5. Learn Me Good by John Pearson - This truly was the funniest book I read all year. I laughed all the way through it and was dissapointed that it had to end. John has mentioned that he might be working on a sequel. I hope he does, because I will be the first in line to buy it!

4. Color Me Grey by J.C. Phelps - Maybe it's the fact that we're from the same little state of South Dakota, or maybe it's just that Jean writes a really great book. I loved this one. It had a great plot and was so well written. I've yet to read the rest of the series, but I've been told they were just as good, if not better. I plan on finding out in the next few days.

3. Equilibrium by Imogen Rose - Honestly, I need to include the whole series in this post. The Portal series is a fabulous story and it has certainly won its way into the hearts of all the teenage girls in my house. Many have said that Portal was a great book and Equilibrium was an awesome book. I have to agree. Imogen seems to outdo herself every time she comes out with a new book. I'm hoping that Quantum is as good as I expect it to be.

2. NoHeart by Ronnell Porter - Vampires, voodoo, monsters? Who could ask for more. I loved this book. It was both fun and exciting. A good mystery is one you don't figure out right up to the end, and this one gave nothing away. Highly reccomended.

1. Flaming Dove by Daniel Arenson - While I really enjoyed all the other books, this was truly my favorite. From the moment I started reading it, I could not put it down. While the religious overtones might not be appealing to all readers, I found myself intrigued by it and couldn't help but adore this tale.

For those of you who didn't make the list, just know I had a hard time picking just five. So many of the books I have read this year are so dear to me. I want to thank all of you for the opportunity to read your stories. I wish you all the best of luck in the future!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kindle Review

Since we are constantly reviewing our favorite kindle books, I think it's only logical that we give you our opinion of the kindle itself. My K3 was delivered yesterday afternoon. Prior to its arrival, the only time I got a chance to play with one was a few moments at Target on Christmas Eve. You heard me right, the first time I've ever held a real kindle was six days ago. To say that I was immediately hooked was definitely an understatement.
It had been on my wish-list for a long time, and after spending a few moments playing with the display model, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted one as soon as possible. In actuality, we had gone to Target to purchase one. My husband wanted to surprise me. Unfortunately, they were sold out and it would be several days before they received another shipment. Disappointed, we left empty handed.
Of course that meant there wasn't one sitting under the tree Christmas morning. Don't get me wrong, I had a wonderful Christmas morning. No complaints whatsoever. But I had been bitten by the kindle bug, and now I wanted one more than ever. Sunday morning, my husband asked if I had went ahead and ordered one from Amazon. "What? Really?" Two minutes later, I received an order confirmation email and was grinning like a Cheshire cat. Now, I just had to wait for it to show up.
I expected it to take a while, what with all the orders they had been shipping out for the Christmas rush, so when I got an email Monday morning saying it had been shipped and I should receive it by Friday, I was tickled pink. Imagine my surprise when it showed up two days early. I could hardly wait to get home to play with it. I didn't have to wait long, however, because my wonderful husband decided to bring me lunch and brought the kindle with him.
I have been unable to put it down ever since.
There are so many features I like about this thing. The fact that I can turn my review files into mobi files and load them onto the kindle is beyond amazing. Another feature I love is the text to talk. This little feature is especially handy when driving or when I'm doing something that takes me away from reading. I got to test it out first thing this morning while I sat in the dentist's chair for two hours. What might have been a completely miserable experience was made to be much more enjoyable. I can see this feature is going to become one of my favorites.
I also love how easy the kindle is on the eyes. While I loved the kindle app on my laptop, it was straining to my eyes, and quite often I could read for no more than an hour at a time. The kindle didn't see to cause the eye strain that I experienced with the laptop. I was amazed at how much the screen resembles actual paper. I'm not sure how they did it, but it is cool!
I know I've said many times before that I love my printed books, and I do, but I think having a kindle is going to bring my reading experience to a whole new level. If you've been considering getting one but you aren't quite sure, go play with one. You will make up your mind right then and there. Do I think it's worth the money? Absolutely. But don't take my word for it. Try it yourself.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Winner, winner!

Here are the winner's from this week's sponsor giveaway.

1. Will Prince
2. Alicia Dale
3. Nancy Johnson
4. Gabrielle Campbell
5. Jill Seiffertt

Watch your inboxes for your Amazon alert. Congratulations and enjoy your copy of Reining In by Dawn Judd.

Up next: I will be giving away 5 kindle copies of Portal by Imogen Rose in next week's newsletter. If you haven't already subscribed to our newsletter, now is your chance. Don't miss out on our weekly sponsor giveaways and our monthly giftcard drawings!

My Blood Approves by Amanda Hocking

Seventeen-year-old Alice Bonham's life feels out of control after she meets Jack. With his fondness for pink Chuck Taylors and New Wave hits aside, Jack's unlike anyone she's ever met.

Then she meets his brother, Peter. His eyes pierce through her, and she can barely breathe when he's around. Even though he can't stand the sight of her, she's drawn to him.

But falling for two very different guys isn't even the worst of her problems. Jack and Peter are vampires, and Alice finds herself caught between love and her own blood...

About the Author

Amanda Hocking is a lifelong Minnesotan obsessed with John Hughes and Jim Henson. In between making collages and drinking too much Red Bull, she writes young adult urban fantasy and paranormal romance. For more information on Amanda and her books, visit her blog.

Dawn's Review
Amanda Hocking is quickly becoming a name to recognize. As such, her books have been on my TBR pile for a while now. So it was a pleasant surprise when I discovered I already had a copy of My Blood Approves. Immediately I dropped everything to sit down and read it. How I wish I would have come across it sooner. This was such a great book. Amanda's writing style is fun and unique, and of course who can resist a good vampire tale? I loved every minute of it. I'm very anxious to move on the next book in the series. I have no doubt that it will be just as good as this one!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lessons (and other morbid drabbles) by Michael Crane

LESSONS AND OTHER MORBID DRABBLES is a collection of 25 100-word shorts that range from darkly comic to downright terrifying and wrong. Some shorts feature ghouls and monsters while others are simply about people behaving very, very badly. Which is scarier? Find out in this sick and twisted collection.

They may only be a few words long, but that doesn't lessen the bloodshed any...

Imogen's Review
It takes talent to engage a reader in a hundred words, and then to shock her. Each of Michael Crane's drabbles did just that. Each story is a nugget of unexpected evil. Mr. Crane's style is easy and enjoyable, journeying the reader into a false sense of security and then, bam! I look forward to the next collection of drabbles from this gifted author.

About the Author
Michael Crane is an indie author and scribbler of inane babble that can sometimes end up as stories. He went to Columbia College Chicago where he earned a BA in Fiction Writing. He is currently the author of two short story collections, and he also might've written two books while he was in high school, but he refuses to own up to them and that's why they aren't included on the page. He lives in Illinois and is always trying to work on something new, unless he's battling stupid writer's block.

Some of his favorite writers are Raymond Carver, Richard Yates, Kurt Vonnegut, Chuck Palahniuk, Bret Easton Ellis and Hunter S. Thompson.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Winner Winner!

Here are the winner's from this week's sponsor giveaway.

1. Nancy Johnson
2. Sharon Sayegh
3. Jill Seiffertt
4. Patricia Puddle
5. Barbara Pappan

Watch your inboxes for your Amazon alert. Congratulations and enjoy your copy of Color Me Grey by J.C. Phelps.

Up next: I will be giving away 5 kindle copies of Reining In by Dawn Judd in next week's newsletter. If you haven't already subscribed to our newsletter, now is your chance. Don't miss out on our weekly sponsor giveaways and our montly giftcard drawings!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Flaming Dove by Daniel Arenson

The battle of Armageddon was finally fought... and ended with no clear victor. Upon the mountain, the armies of Hell and Heaven beat each other into a bloody, uneasy standstill, leaving the Earth in ruins. Armageddon should have ended with Heaven winning, ushering in an era of peace. That's what the prophecies said. Instead, the two armies--one of angels, one of demons--hunker down in the scorched planet, lick their wounds, and gear up for a prolonged war with no end in sight.

In this chaos of warring armies and ruined landscapes, Laila doesn't want to take sides. Her mother was an angel, her father a demon; she is outcast from both camps. And yet both armies need her, for with her mixed blood, Laila can become the ultimate spy... or ultimate soldier. As the armies of Heaven and Hell pursue her, Laila's only war is within her heart--a struggle between her demonic and heavenly blood.

About the Author:

Daniel Arenson is an author of fantasy fiction, from epic to dark and surreal.

Like many writers, he began his career writing short stories. He sold his first story, "Worms Believe in God", in 1998. Since then, dozens of his stories and poems have appeared in various publications, among them Flesh & Blood, Chizine, and Orson Scott Card's Strong Verse.

Five Star Publishing, an imprint of Gale, published Daniel's fantasy novel Firefly Island in 2007. His second novel, the dark fantasy Flaming Dove, was released in 2010.

For free stories, novel chapters, and writing tips, visit

Dawn's Review:

There are good books. There are really good books. And then there are the books you can't tear yourself away from. This is one of those books. Daniel's descriptions so vivid and alive that you feel like you're right there. I loved it from the first few sentences and enjoyed it to the end. There are very few books that can hold your attention through every single word, but this one can. It is an amazing story that I plan on reading again and again.

Lots of free books, a gift card and one very generous lady!

Helen Smith is giving away 105 copies of 31 books by 18 authors - every entry brings the chance to win an Amazon gift card for $50/£30

Anyone who blogs about it will be entered into the draw for the Amazon gift card on 18th December, to be drawn at random and sent to the winner's email by 19th December in time for Christmas. Please tell your networks. If you/they blog about it, please email Helen at with 'blogged' in the subject line to let her know you have posted about it.

Spoilt by Joanne Ellis

Passion turns to envy. Love to murder. One way or another, everyone is spoilt.

A sadistic killer is stalking the streets, carving his hatred into the bodies of beautiful, young women.

The murders are stirring up bad memories for Detective Lucas Huson, as he struggles to remain focused - juggling the horrors of today with horrors from the past.

When Chelsea Summerville's best friend goes missing, she's unwillingly dragged into the race to stop the killer.

As Lucas and Chelsea find happiness together, Chelsea becomes the hunted rather than the hunter.

Can Lucas shake off his demons and save the woman he loves, or will everything he holds dear be spoilt?

Dawn's Review:

I started reading this book when it was posted on Authonomy, and it made it to one of my top five books posted there. Sadly, only part of the book was posted and when I finished what was there, it left me wanting more. So I was very excited when I learned that Spoilt had been published. I immediately purchased my copy so I could finish where I left off. This is a wonderful book written by a talented author. It was definitely worth the long wait and I hope to see more of Joanne's books published in the very near future.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Kindle Book Giveaway: Color Me Grey by J.C. Phelps

I will be giving away 5 copies of Color Me Grey by J.C. Phelps in our next newsletter. I've read this book and it really is a great book. Subscribers will be automatically entered. I will enter all new subscribers up to Wednesday night, so there's still time to sign up if you haven't already done so.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sponsorships, Prizes and More!

There are a few changes going on over here at Breakout Books that I am pretty excited about. As some of you know, I started a newsletter recently, that I hope everyone is enjoying. If you haven't signed up for it yet, I encourage you to do so right away. The newsletter not only covers everything we do here on the blog, but by being a subscriber, you are automatically signed up to win any of the prizes given away through the newsletter.
Starting this month, there will be a monthly drawing for an Amazon gift card. This month's prize isn't very big, but I expect that to change as our membership grows and more authors start to participate in sponsorship.
For our authors, I am offering a new sponsorship program. Authors who participate will be featured in our weekly newsletter. Part of the sponsorship fees will go towards prizes for our members, in the form of gifted kindle versions of your book. Your banner will also be featured on the blog that week.
So, everyone get signed up. There are lots of prizes that have your name written on them.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

And the winner is.....

Karen Cantwell, you are the winner of the signed copy of Her Last Letter by Nancy C. Johnson. Congratulations! I will contact you later to get your mailing address. Thank you Nancy for your donation.

For those of you who didn't win, you can still get Nancy's book for the low price of 99¢ on Amazon Kindle.

Dawn's Review:

I knew I was going to like the book before I even started reading it. I'm always a sucker for a good mystery. Nancy gets you interested right from the beginning, and once I got started, I couldn't put it down. The sign of a good book is one that sticks with you long after you've finished reading it. This is one of those books. Oh, and did I mention I LOVE the cover.

Guest Blog from Inside the Writer's Studio: Craig Lancaster Interview

Craig Lancaster, author of the widely praised 600 Hours of Edward and the forthcoming novel The Summer Son to be released by AmazonEncore in early 2011) wanted to do something for others this Christmas season, so he wrote a fantastic holiday-themed story, “Comfort and Joy,” to sell on Amazon and Smashwords for $1.

However, that he plans to donate 100% of the proceeds to Feeding America, whose 200+ food banks distribute to all fifty states, wasn’t enough for us at Inside the Writers’ Studio. When we learned of his plan to write some short fiction, he hadn’t yet begun “Comfort and Joy,” and we were more than happy to catch him early enough to challenge him to find a way to incorporate a few random words.

The words: snowman, hot chocolate, and jingle balls.

LANCASTER: I thought my "Jingle Balls" solution might have been a little reach, but I was 12 years old once, and it's something I might have come up with.

He managed to write the (approx.) 5,500-word story in just 24 hours.

LANCASTER: The idea has been bouncing around in my head for a while, and it's easily adaptable to a holiday angle. Short-story productivity, for me, comes and goes, and for whatever reason, I've been in a fertile period. I'll sit down in the next couple of days and knock it out. The funny thing is, I've never really written fiction on a deadline, but I have one now: I've pledged to send this story to the in-boxes of donors by Dec. 15.

He made good on his pledge; “Comfort and Joy” is available at Amazon and Smashwords right now (click a link to buy a copy – you can always come back here when you’re done), and it will stay there indefinitely with the proceeds continuing to benefit Feeding America. And, as promised, it’s only $1. “But why not charge more to give more?” we wondered.

LANCASTER: Two reasons. The first is the greater-volume-at-a-lower-price idea. The second is that I hope this isn't the be-all, end-all of people's giving. A few folks have written to me and said, "I want to give more than a buck," and my response has been this: "Send me a buck. Send your local food bank, or some other charity there at home, as much as you feel like you can give."

INSIDE THE WRITERS’ STUDIO: What made you choose this particular charity?

LANCASTER: I've been reading a lot about how stressed food banks are. Times are hard, and charitable giving is down. And since (I hope) donations will be coming in from all over, it didn't seem quite right to roll whatever money is generated toward the food bank where I live, though it certainly could use the help. So I figured that Feeding America, with its national focus, made sense.

One of the things that put this at the top of my mind was seeing a plea from my friend Carol Buchanan on Facebook that people not buy her books as gifts but instead donate to their local food bank. She said she'd eat whether the books are bought or not. Others -- many, many others -- are not so fortunate.

This effort is nothing like the NPR fundraising drive—there’s no dollar amount in mind, no set goal (“I have no expectation here,” Lancaster says. “If it's five bucks, it's five bucks.”), but he does hope to turn this into an annual effort, one that involves more writers contributing to a holiday-themed anthology.

LANCASTER: Say, 15 or 20 holiday-themed stories, from a wide variety of genres, all with the aim of putting some food on the tables of people who badly need it. Wheels are already turning for next year: an anthology, from writers across the traditional and indie spectrums. Zombie Christmas, romance Christmas, bizarro, whatever. I think if I were to get people on board in, say, July, we'd be able to offer all kinds of options: individual stories, the entire collection, e-book, short POD run.

IWS: Do you think you might choose different charities in the future?

LANCASTER: I haven't even thought about that. I'm pretty passionate about food banks. They're chronically understocked, and it's one form of charity that is completely without political overtones.

IWS: Have you ever donated to/worked in/needed a food bank?

LANCASTER: I've pulled a few shifts stacking boxes and such, and I'm a reliable bring-a-canned-good-to-whatever-event guy, but I've never done it on a consistent basis. One of the things I hope to do, beyond the holiday season, is become a lot more involved with that sort of thing on a local level.

IWS: That sounds like a perfect New Year’s resolution. Speaking of the new year—your upcoming novel, The Summer Son, will be released in January. Tell us about it.

LANCASTER: It's a multi-decade father-and-son story. Mitch Quillen and his father, Jim, have been largely estranged for nearly 30 years, and the breach stems from a violent summer when Mitch was 11 years old. In the present day, they've been thrown together again and they try to work through the distance between them. All the while, Mitch is reliving that long-ago summer in the form of a note to his wife, whom he's kept away from that part of his life, in an effort to reconcile his own failing relationship with her. It's a story about the things we experience and how those things shape us -- and how those same things get interpreted in different ways by other people who were there.

IWS: Final question. Fruitcake: yay or nay?

LANCASTER: You know, I'd love to say yay, just to be the contrary bastard I tend to be. But I cannot. Fruitcake is a nay. It's a nay to the 100th power. It's a nay that pushes at the outer edges of the space-time continuum. It's the nay that keeps on giving. Let's face it: Fruitcake sucks.

Thank you for allowing us to post our interview on your blog site and spread the word about Craig Lancaster's effort. - Kris & Kel, IWS

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Shifters of 2040 by Ami Blackwelder

America 2040. Three Species. Divided Lovers. The Race is on for Planet Earth.

Summary: Set in Alaska in 2040, Melissa Marn and Bruce Wilder must work under the iron fist of the SCM, while still trying to maintain humanity. Discovering a world of shifters and hybrids, the scientists must struggle with human prejudice and betrayal. With the original ancestors, dubbed shifters, still living on earth, humans are in the midst of a fifteen year old war. As the eldest hybrids, Unseen and Diamond, learn about humans the hard way, with the loss of loved ones and sacrifices, love on planet earth proves challenging.

With underlining themes of how prejudice breaks human connections and animal/wildlife conservation, this novel which has received rave reviews will leave the reader flipping through the pages.

Imogen's Review
This book is the prequel to The Hunted of 2060 which followed the coming of age of nineteen-year-old Alaskan student April into her shifter characteristics, her reunion with her sister (whom she was separated from since early childhood), and the start of a romance between April and the mysterious Arken. This prequel takes us back 20 years to the time when April was conceived. It fleshes out those early times and we learn more about her human mother and her shifter father, and details of the separation from her twin sister. We are taken into a dark time reminiscent of Orwell's 1984, where the authorities can do whatever they want.
Ami Blackwelder entertains us by talking us back into the past to explore the beginnings of the hybrids. I enjoyed this book and look forward to the prequel which I believe will take us back further, to the time when the shifters arrived on earth and thus to the very start of this dystopian paranormal fantasy.

For information about Ami Blackwelder click here.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

No Lady and Her Tramp by Kristie Leigh Maguire and Mark Haeuser

No Lady and Her Tramp is reminiscent of the TV show Married with Children - minus the children and in a different setting.

No Lady and Her Tramp will have you rolling in the aisles as you follow the exploits of the residents of President Park, the trailer park to top all trailer parks.

Beth Ann Dixon buys herself a computer and decides to write a steamy erotic novel. Her husband, Billy Ray, can't do much of anything right, not even shoot a gun. Janet Higgins is the resident Peeping Tom - and Troy Finkmyer is the guy we all love to hate.

Everybody gets into the act and there are showdowns all over Grapevine - Grapevine, Kentucky that is. Shirley Snodgrass is the local gossip columnist for the Grapevine Gazette and records it all in her column, 'I Heard It Through the Grapevine'.

You'll laugh, you'll cheer, and you may even shed a tear as you read No Lady and Her Tramp by Kristie Leigh Maguire and Mark Haeuser.

Imogen's Review

This is not a book I would have normally picked up (I normally stick to YA fantasy), but I am so glad I did! It's amazing where the pages of a book can take you. In this case, right into the curious lives of the residents of President Park Trailer community-their actions carefully chronicled by the local gossip columnist and busy-body, Shirley Snodgrass, because as she says, "Inquiring minds want to know!"

Kristie Leigh Maguire immediately draws us into the life of the main character, Beth Ann Dixon, a hairdresser married to her childhood love, Billy Ray. One is immediately enthralled by Beth Ann's desire to become an author and we follow her unorthodox but spell binding journey into this dream. Miss Maquire has a wonderful way of fleshing out her characters, each one interesting in their own right. This was an engaging and often humorous story with some really quirky characters. I was sad when it was over and am hoping that I will encounter Beth Ann, Mary Jo, Troy, Billy Ray and Shirley Snodgrass in future publications by this entertaining author.

About Kristie Leigh Maguire

Kristie Leigh Maguire is the author of Second Chances, Affairs of the Heart: Desert Heat and Cabin Fever (Collector's Edition), Desert Heat, Cabin Fever, Emails from the Edge: The Life of an Expatriate Wife, From the Far Side of the Sun, and co-author of No Lady and Her Tramp, as well as a contributor to several anthologies.

She was voted Best Up and Coming Author of the Year and her novel Desert Heat was voted Romance of the Year by the Affaire de Coeur Magazine Reader/Writer Poll. Her novels Cabin Fever and No Lady and Her Tramp placed in the Top Ten in the Preditor & Editor's Poll. Her novel Affairs of the Heart: Desert Heat and Cabin Fever (Collector's Edition) was an Number One book in Sensual Romance.

Kristie Leigh Maguire and her husband have lived all over the United States and many foreign countries while following his career. While living in Japan, she found it very difficult to find books to read that were written in English. This situation was intolerable as she was an avid reader and had been known to resort to reading cereal boxes if nothing else was available. Have you ever tried to read a cereal box written in Japanese? It was not a pretty picture. Ms. Maguire began writing her own books just to have something to read. She discovered a new passion in writing.

Although Kristie Leigh Maguire is originally from the South and will always remain Southern at heart, she now divides her time between her homes in Nevada and in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. During her expatriate years she lived in St. Croix, Aruba, Thailand, Japan and three times in Saudi Arabia and visited many other countries.


Amazon Website

Friday, November 26, 2010

Giveaway: Her Last Letter by Nancy C. Johnson

This is our first giveaway on the review board, so I'm excited about it. I have a brand new signed copy of Her Last Letter by Nancy C. Johnson that is up for grabs. In order to enter the drawing, just comment below. Winners will be announced one week from today.
I am currently reading this book on kindle, so in another day or two, you'll be able to read my review. Be sure to check back.

In the Colorado mountain town of Glenwood Springs, not far from Aspen, artist/photographer Gwyn Sanders discovers a cryptic letter her sister Kelly left behind. The victim of a deadly hit and run, Kelly reveals she was sexually involved with her sister’s boyfriend and is scared for her life. Both Gwyn and her remaining sister Linda have since married their boyfriends, so either of their husbands could be guilty of murder. The sisters received a large inheritance before meeting these men, and know little of either man’s background. Worse, both Gwyn and Linda love their husbands deeply, but steps must be taken to find the truth. And the truth is complicated. Is it one of the two men, or another previous lover? Or none of them? Danger abounds and everyone is a suspect as Gwyn tries with the help of a gifted private detective to track a killer....

Her last letter can be found on Amazon. You can also find more information on the book and Nancy herself on her website.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Die Already by Kipp Poe Speicher

Meet Horace, he has a very unusual gift or what you may consider a very grim curse anything and everything that dies in his presence dose not die. No matter how violent or brutal their death may be they do not die.

Die Already is a tragic and disturbing love story.

Plus a bonus short excerpt by Tom Raimbault: Something Quite Perverse, From his book The Tree Goddess.

Imogen's Review
Kindle Krack That Will Blow Your Mind: It's not often that a storyline takes me completely by surprise. So I won't give this one away to ruin the impact. Kipp Poe Speicher's short story left me chilled. He entranced me right from the start and didn't let go until the very end, which will blew my mind. This is a story, which will definitely stay with me and reaffirms my admiration for the wonderfully twisted mind of Kipp Poe Speicher.

The above is my review for Amazon. I should have probably added that despite the cover, this is not a rape/violence against women story. I could barely read through the rape scene in The Kite Runner and have avoided reading Steig Larsson's book for the same reason. So please don’t avoid this story if you have the same hurl-worthy responses as me to descriptions of violence toward women/kids. This is by no means a sweet love story, it’s a disturbing one, but not one with sexual violence.


Phantom Rising by Dawn Judd

After being forced to kill her own son, Khalida begins to spiral into a deep depression. With Jake gone and the Network in danger of falling apart, she runs away from Mack and everyone else she loves, hoping that they will be safer without her near.
However, Fate has something else in mind for Khalida, and soon she learns that Vyktor had a secret that he was keeping from her. His secret becomes her chance at redemption.
But atonement doesn't come without a price. She will have to risk everything to find the answers to the mysterious events surrounding her. Has Vyktor come back from the dead to exact his revenge?
The only way to find out is for Khalida to face her fears. She must fight the monster that haunts her and save the one person that holds the key to her past.

Imogen's Review
This sequel to Reining In (The Network) picks up about six months after Khalida's traumatic turn of events at the end of book one. Forced into hiding, in fear that Vyktor's men will avenge his death on her and the Network, she disbands it and hides out. When Mack finds her she is forced back into danger in order to protect Vyktor's widow Kori, bringing to light an aspect of Vyktor that Khalida had never considered or been aware of. Someone is trying to kill Vyktors's beloved wife and it has been forecast that Khalida is the only one who can save her. Dawn Judd takes us on a thrilling ride as Khalida tries to determine who the murderous "phantom" is, who appears to be not only after Kori, but also Khalida. Why is this phantom so set to destroy them both and will she be able to stop it?

I thoroughly enjoyed this sequel, which fleshed out the interpersonal relationships in Khalida's life, and we begin to understand her complicated family interactions. We are treated to a new romance and new beginnings. This was a quick, easy, entertaining read and I am now eagerly waiting for book three!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Honeymoon For One by Beth Orsoff

There are worse things in life than being dumped at the altar. Like being accused of killing your fake husband in a third world country where you can't speak the language, for example.

When Lizzie Mancini booked her honeymoon to the secluded Blue Bay Beach Resort on the small Caribbean island of Camus Caye she thought it would be relaxing to spend the week at an isolated couples-only retreat. But that was before she knew she’d be honeymooning sans groom. Touring alone, dining alone, and worst of all, having to explain to the resort’s thirty other guests why she was staying in the bridal suite alone—Lizzie was dreading it. But it still beat the alternative, eight more days hibernating in her empty apartment feeling sorry for herself.

Then Lizzie meets Michael, a gold-chained antiquities dealer who offers to play her husband for the week no strings (or sex) attached. The plan works perfectly until Lizzie spends the night with scuba instructor Jack, and Michael’s body washes up on Blue Bay’s pristine shore. Lizzie becomes Polizia Nationale’s number one suspect and the only way she can prove her innocence is to solve Michael’s murder herself.

Imogen's Review
When LA journalist, Lizzie Mancini's wedding is suddenly cancelled, she decides to take her carefully planned honeymoon to Camus Caye anyway. Her adventures start at the airport bar when she befriends a gold chain wearing antiquities dealer. This starts a series of unfortunate events, which had me wanting to slap Lizzie (often). SERIOUSLY, LIZZIE? Once I got past my urges to smack a purely fictional character and went with the story, I thoroughly enjoyed this delightful novel. Beth Orsoff's style is both entertaining and charming. Her characters were well fleshed (even Fred the turtle, who I am now wanting as a pet) and the plot held many a surprise. A fun read!

About the Author (from Amazon)
Beth Orsoff is the author of humorous fiction including the novels "Romantically Challenged," "Honeymoon for One," and "How I Learned to Love the Walrus." She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and Elmo (yeah, the red guy from Sesame Street). For more information about Beth and her celebrity sightings (George Clooney anyone?) check out her website


Being Light by Helen Smith

Roy Travers is swept away by a freak gust of wind while trying to install a bouncy castle in Brockwell Park, south London. Sheila, his wife, can’t understand why he hasn’t found his way back home. She begins to suspect that Roy has been abducted by aliens and enlists the help of Mrs Fitzgerald’s Bureau of Investigation to find him.

Sheila travels to Kent with Alison, a private detective. Together they build a missing persons advertisement out of pebbles on a beach, hoping it will be seen by the aliens who have taken Roy. But Roy was not taken by aliens. The truth is far stranger.

The book is a quirky comedy touching on such diverse themes as loss, parenthood, the role of men in society and animal rights. It was first published in the UK ten years ago and is now being published in the US to coincide with the launch of new print editions of this book and Alison Wonderland, Helen Smith’s first novel.

Q & A with Helen Smith

1. Roy's journey is really unique. How did you come up with the idea?
I saw a newspaper article about a man who was lifted up in the air and blown a few feet across the ground while he was installing a bouncy castle in a park in Australia. I imagined Roy being lifted into the air - but then continuing his journey high up in the sky, serene but helpless. Where would he come down?

2. Did you base any of your characters on people you know in real life?
I put a little of myself into all my characters - I can see myself in Sheila (Roy's wife) and in Mrs Fitzgerald, the boss of the private detective agency Sheila hires to find Roy, as well as Alison, the detective who helps Sheila in her search.

3. What is your favorite part of the circus?
I like the high wire and trapeze acts. In the book, I describe Mrs Fitzgerald going to watch a Belgian circus performer in a 'little top' on Clapham Common - and even though I go to the theatre and other live performances quite often, that show was one of the most enthralling things I have ever seen because the performance area was so small; we watched close up and we could see how difficult it was.

4. Have you ever dreamt of being a circus performer yourself?
No - I don't have any of the requisite skills and I'm much too scared of heights. I once worked dressed as a clown in Hong Kong, giving out balloons to children in a restaurant; that's the closest I have ever got.

5. Your book has been out for quite some time. Is there any advice you might have for other authors?
Finish your book - that's half the battle. But don't start on the route to publication (whether publishing it yourself or sending it to an agent) until it's really and truly finished i.e. it's as near perfect as you can get it.

6. Are you working on any new projects?
Yes. I'm working on another book and I have just been commissioned to adapt a famous author's novel for the stage. I haven't signed the paperwork yet so I can't give you any more of the details but I'm really excited about it.

7. What is your favorite part of writing? Least favorite part?
I like editing/redrafting - all the hard work has been done and all you are doing is going back over the text and honing it; changing words and changing them back again. I find it very enjoyable. The least favourite part is coming up with the story; starting with that blank page.

8. What is the craziest thing that's ever happened to you?
I had my daughter when I was quite young. It has been the craziest and the best thing that's ever happened to me.

9. Today is your birthday. I just wanted to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!
Thank you!

About the Author

Helen Smith writes novels, poetry, plays and screenplays. She travelled the world when her daughter was small, doing all sorts of strange jobs to support them both - from cleaning motels to working as a magician’s assistant - before returning to live in London where she wrote her first novel, Alison Wonderland. She’s a long-term supporter of the Medical Foundation for the Victims of Torture and mentors members of an exiled writers group to help them tell their stories.

She has a blog: Please come and say hello.

Dawn's Review

This was an interesting book. Right from the beginning Helen gets your attention, drawing you into the story. I found myself wanting to find out what would happen to Roy. Would he discover the truth? Being Light, like real life, takes people and events that are seemingly unrelated and twists them all together, showing us that everything is connected somehow. The lives of each of the characters started out looking like separate stories, that in the end, were neatly tied together. When I first finished the book, I thought it seemed a little unresolved. But after pondering it, I thought to myself that Sheila's reaction might be the same reaction I would have in that situation. In the end, each of the characters were shocked by what they found, and their reaction was realistic and uncomfortable. Helen did an excellent job of connecting the dots, so to speak. The writing is beautifully done, and entertaining throughout. I think anyone would enjoy reading this book.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cheap Kindle Books

I've added a new page to the blog. If you're looking for some inexpensive kindle books, check out the Cheap Reads page. All the books listed on this page are under $1. There are even a few that are currently free. So come check them out.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Waiting for Spring by R.J. Keller

A recently divorced woman trudges out of one small, Maine town and into an even smaller one, hoping to escape her pain. Instead she finds herself surrounded by people who are trudging on, just like her. Waiting for things to get better. Waiting for spring.

Waiting For Spring takes readers beyond the lighthouses and rocky beaches tourists visit and drops them instead into a rural Maine town that is filled with displaced factory workers who struggle with poverty and loss, yet push onward with stubbornness and humor.

Q&A with R.J. Keller

1. A lot of the emotion in this book seems so realistic. How much of that came from real life experiences?

None of the plot was autobiographical. For example I'm happily married (never divorced), I have a great relationship with my mom, and I had never picked up a paintbrush prior to doing research for Waiting For Spring. But you could absolutely say that the novel is emotionally autobiographical. I've had my heart broken, I've hurt other people, I've second-guessed my abilities as a parent. I've felt powerless as I've watched people I love very much make stupid and dangerous decisions. It was just a matter of tapping into those emotions and putting a spin on them.

2. I know you’ve mentioned before that people complain about the language in your book. Does this bother you? Has it ever made you reconsider certain scenes, or do you think the reaction makes it more intriguing to others?

I don't know that it bothers me too much. I think I was surprised by a lot of it, because the stuff I read is very raw, so writing that way didn't strike me as odd. Most readers I've heard from personally don't have a problem with the language or sex, and understand why it's in there. But even if that wasn't the case, I can't think of anything I'd clean up. Every f-bomb, every sex scene, is in there for a reason. And the truth is, I do think the uproar (such as it is) has brought attention to the book. For example, sales shot up for awhile last year after a reader tagged it as "vulgar" on

3. Waiting for Spring has been picked up by a publisher. How exciting for you. What was your first reaction when you found out?

Yes, it's been acquired by AmazonEncore, the new publishing wing of Amazon. I'm very excited, but my initial response was disbelief. I really thought it was a hoax. I had to contact a friend of mine, another writer who had recently gone with Encore, to make sure it was the real deal.

4. When can we expect to see the newly revamped version? I know there is a wonderful new cover. What other changes can we expect?

I LOVE the new cover! It's so different from the original cover I designed, but it fits the theme of the book perfectly. As far as changes go...well, there really aren't that many. It was given a very thorough copyediting, but although there were a few tweaks, there were no major changes plot-wise, and no real cuts (including no lost f-bombs or sex scenes). The re-release is set for May 2011, but it's available to pre-order now.

5. Can we still buy the old version or do we have to wait for the new release?

The self-published version is still available, and probably will be for at least several more weeks.

6. You are part of the Paper Rats production with Kristen Tsetsi. (Everyone should check it out. Very entertaining.) How did the two of you start doing that and can we expect more?

About a year ago, I put together a kind of 'reader testimonial' video for Waiting For Spring. One of the people I asked to contribute to it was Kristen. I had given everyone involved a script of what I needed them to say, then gave them permission to go as bonkers with it as possible. Kristen came up with this hilarious character that was so far beyond what I'd expected. She was just super funny. I'd been doing some video blogging off and on for a year before that anyway, and I'd also been watching the Vlogbrothers videos, and I'd been thinking for awhile that it would be cool if there was a writers' version of what they were doing. I approached Kristen about it, and she had the idea of making episodes that were actually skits, and things took off from there. Right now there are five "real" episodes, a blooper reel, and two musical interludes at our YouTube channel. We're in the process of working on Episode Six and hope to have it ready soon.

7. What are you working on right now?

I'm doing the rewrites for the follow up to Waiting For Spring called The Wendy House. I call it a "sort of prequel, not quite sequel" to WFS, because it tells the story of Brian's parents, Rick and Wendy, both by going back in time and by exploring some of the events that happened in WFS through Rick's eyes.

8. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where you’re from? When did you start writing? Who is your favorite author? Etc.

I'm originally from Southern California, but moved to Maine with my family when I was 11. I started writing stories when I was about 7 and just never stopped. I read a lot of books in a pretty wide variety of genres and styles, but I've always been inspired by authors who really open up and put it all out there. Luke Davies, Erica Jong, and Alicia Erian are the first three who come to mind.

R.J.'s Fanpage

About the Author
R.J. Keller is a writer from Central Maine, where she lives happily with her husband, two kids, and the family cat. Waiting For Spring is her first novel.

Dawn's Review

Tagged as vulgar. It catches your attention, right? While I emphatically disagree with the tag, this book should catch your attention. R.J. Keller has a way with words that is both poetic and endearing. The story itself is an enjoyable read that moves the reader easily from scene to scene. The relationship between Tess and her mother left me feeling heartbroken. The emotion is so real and at times I felt myself loathing the woman she called Mom. With each page read, I felt like I really knew Tess and who she was. Even after discovering the secrets she harboured, I could still relate to her and really feel for her. This was a beautifully written story, and I look forward to buying my new copy in the spring when it is released from R.J.'s new publisher. If you don't want wait until then, read it now while you still have a chance!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Few New Things

Thought it might be a fun idea to put out a weekly newsletter for those who don't want to come check the board every week. (I will include things from the review board and the facebook page so you can get all your news in one place) I will be putting up a sign-up page later, so if you're interested, check it out. I have also started putting up weekly featured books. These can be found on the right-hand column of the page. I will be adding some new features in the very near future so stay tuned. If there's anything you would like to see, send us some suggestions.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Adventures of a Love Investigator, 527 Naked Men & One Woman by Barbara Silkstone

If men would open up to you would you really listen? Meet author, Barbara Silkstone. She traveled the country for six years armed only with a tape recorder and a quirky sense of humor, listening to men talk about women, love, commitment, and male hopes and fears.

Women will enjoy this book for the insight it gives them into the male mind. Men will immediately compare themselves with the 527 Naked Men to see how they stack up. Both genders will gain a new and often humorous perspective on the opposite sex.

The Adventures of a Love Investigator, 527 Naked Men & One Woman is honored to have received a 8/10 rating from and rave reviews from relationship experts.

“Barbara is able to capture how men constantly wrestle their inner demons. Even if he’s the model spouse, he is not immune to the thoughts and desires that afflict every man.”
Scott Kudia, Ph.D Relationship Expert

Imogen's Review

Where did Prince Charming go?
After a harrowing divorce, the author set out on a journey to study and discover the inner most thoughts about love from the average man. Is there a Prince Charming out there? Will your man give up his life for you? The aim was to interview 1000 men in one year.

Five years later, Barbara Silkstone reaches the end of her emotionally-draining journey with 527 men interviewed, all of who opened up their hearts to her. Each man interviewed offered interesting (and mostly disappointing) insights into their thoughts about love and romance. Barbara's writing style is easy and entertaining, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.

About Barbara Silkstone (from Amazon)
When you're a freelance writer with a quirky sense of humor, being in the right place at the right time helps a lot. If I just stand still for five minutes... wham! Something funny and worth writing about will happen to me. I've accidentally sky dived, been elected president of the Japan American Society (I'm not Japanese), been stalked by crazies, and ran off with a real life White Rabbit.

I'm a single mother, living on the edge in South Florida. My background includes parochial school, commercial real estate, public speaking, teaching, and church administration. My writing history is equally as diverse. I started an underground newspaper in grade school and was threatened with excommunication by the nuns. After being published in the horror genre, I was fortunate enough to take part in writing workshops with Stephen King, Robert B. Parker, and James Michener.

I enjoy doing playful things with language, blending two distinct words to create a new word. If I'm laughing out loud when I'm writing, then I know I've hit the mark. I'm working on Wendy & the Lost Boys right now. I laugh so loud while I'm writing that the neighborhood committee has asked me to move.

For six years I traveled the United States listening to men reveal their darkest secrets for my book, The Adventures of a Love Investigator, 527 Naked Men & One Woman. When I was finished with my adventure, I realized the only man I should have interviewed was Lewis Carroll, unfortunately he was long gone. So I set out to pay homage to his logic by re-telling Alice in Wonderland in a contemporary setting. The result is The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters ~ comedy thriller that takes place between Miami and London.

Barbara Silkstone is a freelance writer living on the edge in South Florida. She is the author of the comedy thriller The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters available on Amazon Kindle.


Friday, November 5, 2010

And we're back!!!

After what has seemed like an eternity, I am finally finshed with my second book. Which means no more long hours hiding away from my family in hopes to get something accomplished. With all the free time I'm about to have, I am rewarding myself with some much deserved reading. I have lots of good books lined up and hope to knock out several reviews this week. If you submitted one early in the game and it still isn't up, I promise to get to it. But it wouldn't hurt to put in a new submission on our handy new submission form, to make sure yours didn't get buried accidentally. (the sumission form all comes from the same address so everything gets filed together). LOVE that thing. I am so happy with how it's working and hope it helps me to get some books read a little faster. I am also looking to do some interviews and have guest bloggers. If you're interested, let me know. I want to get this site moving again!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sojourner (Book 1) by Maria Rachel Hooley

Seventeen-year-old Elizabeth Moon has been dreaming of her murder her entire life, and in those dreams, a dark presence is there, watching. When she returns home to Hauser’s Landing, the very place her father disappeared, she comes in contact with a gorgeous boy named Lev Walker, and it’s not long before she’s falling in love. But there’s something wrong with Lev. When she realizes he’s the eerie watcher in her dreams, she’ll have to discover the truth. Is he a guardian angel or a sojourner, an angel of death who has come to collect her soul?
Book One of the Sojourner Series

Imogen's Review
When seventeen-year-old Elizabeth Moon is forced to move back to her childhood town, she realizes that she's not just an ordinary teen. She's a teen with a guardian angel, one that is in love with her and has been by her side for seven life times. Each of those life times has been tragically cut short, when she has died before reaching the age of eighteen. Her angel has taken it upon himself to make sure that this time, she survives to live a longer life. However, her move back to her hometown is fraught with danger, and she narrowly escapes several near-death experiences with the help of her angel. Will her angel succeed in intervening and overcoming her life being cut short? Will he do so at the cost of his own existence? Will the love between them survive?

Maria Rachel Hooley has written an engaging romantic teen fantasy. I enjoyed every moment of reading it. I was immediately drawn in by the intense feelings between Elizabeth and her angel, willing them to overcome their troubles. The book, as part of a series, leaves many questions still to be answered. I look forward to reading the rest of the books and highly recommend them to YA lovers of contemporary fantasy.

About the Author
Maria Rachel Hooley has written over 20 novels, including When Angels Cry, New Life Incorporated, and October Breezes. Her poetry has been published in more than 80 national literary magazines. Some of her short fiction has been published in Nocturnal Ooze and Combat Magazine. Her non-fiction has been featured in Red River Family and Byline magazine. Her first chapbook of poetry was published by Rose Rock Press in 1999. When she isn't teaching English to high school and college students, she is working on her next book. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband and three children. As a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, she is also an advocate for education about autism.

Q&A with Maria Rachel Hooley

What/who was the inspiration behind Sojourner?
I wanted to write a novel about an angel who needed to learn to love humans because while his moral compass was correct, he his inability to care about humans was getting in the way of his job–carrying souls to the afterlife.

Who can you see playing Elizabeth, Lev and Griffin in a movie adaptation?
For Elizabeth, I'd always pictured model Allie Crandell. Lev is a bit more complicated because after the first novel his 'form' changes. The actor I would pick in Sojourner would be Ben Foster who played Angel in X-Men Three. For the other novels, I'd pick Justin Hartley from Smallville. I'd always pictured Ben Barnes for Griffin.

How many books are there in this series? Do you plan to write any more?
There are four books in the series, and I don't think I'll be writing more. I've learned never to say never though.

Are your students excited that you write YA novels?
Yes, some of them are. I actually had one of them begging me to make her a character in a new book so she's going to be a lethal weapon against evil vampires in Trust the Vampire You Don't Know or the Angel You Do.

Name some of your favorite contemporary authors.
Now that's a tough question because there are so many. My absolute favorite book in the world is The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. My second favorite is Ariel by Steven Boyett. I will also read anything by Nicholas Sparks.

What’s your favorite movie/movies?
My favorite movie is The Phantom of the Opera but I also love the Twilight series and P.S. I Love You.

What kind of music do you enjoy listening to?
I listen to almost everything but I love VAST, My Morning Jacket, and Dishwalla. My favorite song is Angels and Devils by Dishwalla, and it was on the playlist for Sojourner.

Team Edward, Team Jabob or Team Eric?
That's a tricky question because it really depends on whether we're choosing books or movies. I'm definitely Team Jacob with the movies because the character is different than in the novels. As far as the books go, I'm Team Edward.

High heels or flats?

Please tell us about your current projects.
Right now I'm finishing my twenty-eighth novel. It's a sequel to my YA novel October Breezes and picks up when Devin and Skye are in college. After that, it's either going to be a novel about a vampire who has found a cure to return to morality--to bad he falls in love with her before he can kill her and set himself free--or a historical novel about a young woman who has to unlock all the secrets of her grandmother's life before she dies.


This week's featured author: Susanne Lambdin

Susanne's love for Star Trek took her to Los Angles in the late '80s. She is best known for her 'based in part' contribut...