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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.

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.

Links

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!




Link

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 http://www.bethorsoff.com.




Links

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:
http://helensmithblog.blogspot.com. 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.





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.

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 Amazon.com.

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.

Links
Amazon
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!

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.

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 ChicklitClub.com 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.

LINKS


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!