30 June, 2015

#BookReview :: I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

A tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She couldn't have prevented it. Could she?
In a split second, Jenna Gray's world is shattered. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape her past, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of the cruel November night that changed her life for ever.
DI Ray Stevens is tasked with seeking justice for a mother who is living every parent's worst nightmare. Determined to get to the bottom of the case, it begins to consume him as he puts both his professional and personal life on the line.
As Ray and his team seek to uncover the truth, Jenna, slowly, begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating .

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Oh My God! I cannot believe that this is the debut novel of the author… It is just so good that I was expecting the author a season name in the industry. Instead I find out that this is her debut novel!

Jenna Gray is facing what is every parent’s nightmare. She moves to a remote location on the Welsh coast hoping for a fresh beginning. But memories of that night continues to haunt her and someone from her past is about to catch up with her. She has Ray, the detective on the case, in her corner who will do everything to get justice.

The plot sounds simple enough, but don’t let it fool you. The twists and turns that the novel throws at you are just brilliant. Even I did not see all of them coming and that is saying something. The plot is the strongest point of the novel that is complimented by the author’s language and narration style. The way she portrays settings and characters is vivid and beautiful. It makes the book almost come alive in a readers’ hands. The characters are all very vibrant. I had a love/hate relationship with the protagonist almost till the end. I also loved the way the author included Ray’s personal life in the story instead of keeping it strictly to his professional life. The narration and the multiple POVs in the story let us get close to individual characters and get into their head. The only reason I am not rating it a 5 on 5 stars is that the pace of the book lagged a bit in the middle.

I will be sure to keep an eye out for this author, though I do not know how she can top this book!

Review Copy received from Hachette India

29 June, 2015

#SpecialFeature :: An #Interview with Christopher Slater, #Author of Pup

*** Special Feature - June 2015 ***

A Quick Recap:

1st June - Introducing the Author (bio & random facts)
8th June - Guest Post on What makes 'Pup' different?
15th June - Guest Post on "Pup-isms"
22nd June - Guest Post about The difference between a Writer and an Author

An Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller? 
I have probably always been a storyteller. Whether or not I have been a good one is a matter of debate. I was probably in college when I realized that I enjoyed writing when I started writing short stories to pass the time and entertain my friends.

What inspires you to write?
Almost anything that I see or hear can inspire me to write. Just the way that someone words a sentence or something I see as I walk by may plant the seeds of a story idea.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story? 
Several things gave me the idea for Pup. Probably the biggest influence was when a fellow reenactor told me “Chris, I’m glad that they didn’t have a draft when you were growing up. I’d be scared to know what you would have been like in the army.” That got me thinking about the ways that I would have messed up and the ideas kind of snowballed from there.

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day? 
I think that everything that I have ever written has been seen by someone. Maybe not many someones, but someone. Why write and not have it read. That’s like painting and then covering the frame.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why? 
I find it very difficult to pick out a single scene as my favorite because I can relate to so many of the things that happen in Pup. I suppose that many of the events that occur when he is on R and R in Australia stand out to me. His behavior at the bar is something I could definitely understand. Also, his attempt to go diving speaks to me a lot. I had that same issue when I tried to dive a couple of years ago. I’m hoping some readers will read what happened there and say “I’m glad that I’m not the only one that has happened to,” so that I don’t feel like such a wimp! 

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks? 
It almost frightens me to think of how much Pup is like me when it comes to quirks. Being a creature of habit, not knowing how to behave in a group, and telling people things for reasons that even I don’t understand are all things that Pup was unfortunate enough to inherit.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing? 
The best piece of advice I can give someone that wants to get into writing is also the simplest: keep writing. Don’t quite the job that you have or get grandiose ideas of what you need to do to succeed. Just keep writing. Your early writing is not going to be up to par. That’s fine. Learn from it. Move on to your next idea. You will get better each time so long as you keep writing. Find people that will give you honest critiques so that you can take those critiques and use them to improve. There is no magic bullet. There is only determination to find your own voice.

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie? 
I actually did this on my Facebook and Twitter account. It was a lot tougher to find people than I thought, but I think that I finally managed:
Nickel- John Boyega
Jethro- Colton Haynes
Rabbit- Jordan Hinson
Shaggy- Jim Parsons
Hannibal- Chris Hemsworth
Professor- Benedict Cumberbatch
Boom- Freema Agyeman
Mayumi Ogawa- Jamie Chung
Pup- Colin Morgan

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry? 
I think that if I were stranded on a deserted island I would want a good pen, lots of paper, and a pocket knife. I would want the pen and paper to pass the time writing stories and keeping a journal, and maybe learning to draw stick people that don’t look like they need a plastic surgeon. The pocket knife I would want for two reasons. The first reason is its infinite utility as a tool. The other reason is because I fidget a lot. Flipping it open and closed would give me something to do!

Can you share with us something off your bucket list? 
I don’t want to climb Mt. Everest or skydive or anything like that. Mt. Everest is too cold and jumping out of a perfectly good airplane doesn’t appeal to me. Getting published was a definite bucket list item and that is now taken care of. Most of the rest of my bucket list goals are far from elaborate. I want to see at least one of my student’s lives change for the better each year. I want to see my son realize his potential and reach it. I want to hear someone that I am not related to or friends with tell me that something I wrote impacted them. I suppose at least one thing that is a little elaborate is that I would love to be able to fly first-class just once. 

Contact the Author:
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About the Book:

This is not the story of a hero.

So begins the story of one of the most distinctive heroes you'll ever meet. Drafted into a war he barely comprehends with no taste for combat, Pup will find himself thrust into the very center of the conflict. How he affects that conflict, and how this changes him and everyone around him, is the soul of this utterly unique war story.

Equal parts adventure and farce, tragedy and comedy, PUP introduces an unforgettable accidental hero to war literature, and announces Christopher Slater as a resonant new voice.

1 Signed Copy of Pup by Christopher Slater (US Residents Only)
1 Signed Copy of Pup by Christopher Slater (Indian Residents Only)

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28 June, 2015

#Spotlight :: Riding Rebel by Kiru Taye

Riding Rebel is on a 99 cents/pence/euros SALE for a limited time.

֍֍֍Riding Rebel SALE Blitz֍֍֍

Title: Riding Rebel
Author: Kiru Taye
Series: The Essien Trilogy #3
Genre: Erotic, Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Publication date: January 26, 2015

#99cents #bookblitz #erotic #romance #AfricanAmerican #1click

Blurb – Riding Rebel:

Seen as the rebel Essien, Tony has always felt like an outsider. With a daredevil lifestyle, he’s more at home in leathers than in a suit, and more likely to be seen gracing the red carpets at a movie premiere with a starlet draped on his arms than in a boardroom. Still, he’s determined to prove himself to his family and build a successful movie business. Spotting Rita Dike at an event, he sees the potential star of his new movie and his next pleasure conquest.
Rita is a journalist looking for her big break. When she inherits the journal of her late best friend who claims Tony is not an Essien, she spots the perfect scoop. Her acting classes come in handy when she has to pose as an actress to get closer to Tony. Succumbing to the charms of dark and brooding Tony might just be the only way to get through the close ranks of the Essien family.
But as she gets closer to the truth, Rita risks losing the riding rebel who’s raided her heart. Can love heal hearts or will deceit break them?
Tagline: Love. Lust. Deceit

Book Links

Excerpt from Riding Rebel

His grip on her arm tightened and he increased his pace as they headed across the polished marbled floor of the lobby to the lifts. She stumbled. He swivelled, grasped her shoulder, and pulled her into him to save her from falling over. He'd forgotten she was tottering on sky-high-heeled shoes. He really shouldn’t be such a bastard no matter how pissed off he was at the situation.
His panting breath mingled with hers, their faces only an inch apart. "I'm sorry."
"It's okay," she whispered in a breathy voice, surprisingly subdued.
The urge to kiss her rose, watering his mouth. They stood in the middle of a busy lobby with prying eyes and mobile phone cameras. Tomorrow, their pictures would be splashed all over the Internet. It never bothered him when that happened. However Rita's artless demeanour indicated she wasn't used to the limelight. Something in him wanted to shield her from the exposure.
So he tamped down his desire and tilted her head up so she had to look into his eyes. Her soft, smooth skin felt warm and beautiful brown irises met his hesitantly. "I'm going to call the lift and go up to my room. It's your choice if you want to come up or not."
"What..." She sucked in a breath as if gathering strength to say what she needed. "What do you want from me?"
"I want to fuck you," he said in low voice meant for her ears only.
Her lips parted, her breath hitched. The pulse on her neck thundered and her throat rippled as she swallowed. But she didn't back away and her saucer-wide eyes turned molten brown with lust.
There. He had his answer. She wanted him. Would she let him fuck her? Because that's what it would be. In his world, sex was about fucking. Wild, animalistic, unrestrained rutting. He would see to her pleasure again and again. Still, it wouldn’t be sweet and it wouldn’t be loving.
A lift opened and a man stepped out. Tony released her and walked into the lift.
Turning, he faced her. Enough game playing. She had to come to him of her own volition.
She stood there looking sexy as sin as she bit her bottom lip and her forehead puckered in a frown as if she wondered why he'd left her in the lobby.
"I'm not going to drag you into the lift, if that’s what you were expecting." His fingers itched to do it, though. He didn't want to contemplate that she would turn around and walk away. Yet he had to give her the opportunity. "You have to walk into this lift yourself if you want me."
She glanced behind her and took a hesitant step backward.
His heart thundered. She was going to run. He held his breath and counted to ten to stop from stepping out and grabbing her arm. Instead, he jammed his finger into the door hold button and waited. Seconds ticked by that felt like hours. Sweat beaded his forehead.
She looked up and met his gaze. "Can you make the pain go away?"

Connect with Kiru on Social Media
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KiruTaye  or @KiruTaye

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27 June, 2015

#GuestPost :: A Main Character’s Wingman…or Wingwoman by Karissa Laurel

About the Author:
Karissa lives in North Carolina with her kid, her husband, the occasional in-law, and a very hairy husky named Bonnie. Some of her favorite things are coffee, chocolate, and super heroes. She can quote Princess Bride verbatim. She loves to read and has a sweet tooth for fantasy, sci-fi, and anything in between.

Sometimes her husband convinces her to put down the books and take the motorcycles out for a spin. When it snows, you'll find her on the slopes.

Karissa also crafts, paints, draws, and harbors a grand delusion that she might create a graphic novel someday.

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A Main Character’s Wingman…or Wingwoman
By: Karissa Laurel

When I set out to write Midnight Burning, I knew who my main character was from the outset. Of course I did. Don’t most drafts pretty much start with an idea and a main character? In the beginning, Solina Mundy was a simple girl with a whole lot of chutzpah and not much else. As the plot evolved, Solina found herself in situations she couldn’t handle on her own. I don’t think I consciously decided to give Solina a sidekick. Rather, I think Skyla, Solina’s kickass best friend, evolved as an organic answer to a growing plot problem. Invention is the progeny of need, right?

Skyla Ramirez is an ex-marine who served in Afghanistan, but realized she wasn’t cut out for a career in the military and exited the service after her first and only tour. She liked the adrenaline rush and hard work, but the submission and boot licking…not so much. Guiding kayak excursions in Alaska appealed to her sense of freedom and adventure, so she left the dessert and headed for the Land of the Midnight Sun. Skyla would have said, at the time, her decision to leave was made of her own free will. Later, she might have admitted fate and destiny had something to do with it, too. Skyla’s military background meant she had the training Solina would depend on to stay alive until she learned to defend herself and utilize her new abilities and powers.

As a fictional character, Skyla mostly created herself. She was independent of my authorial dominion. She might have come from my subconscious, but I can’t say I was truly aware of crafting her, not like I was aware of crafting the others. And of all my characters, she was the most certain of who she was and where she was going. She required the least amount of editing.

At one point, I was afraid I had make a mistake by not making her the main character. But my brilliant editor stepped in and assured me Skyla was right where she needed to be. She said something along the lines of: “Harry Potter couldn’t have succeeded without Hermione and Ron.” In fact, Solina quite often thinks of Skyla as her “kickass Hermione”. My editor was right. On her own, Skyla might have been too much of a good thing. She might have overpowered and overshadowed the other characters, and a novel with a large cast requires balance.

Sometimes a main character simply needs a good wingman, or wingwoman. And Skyla would tell you real quick that she’s happy playing second fiddle to Solina. She’d never want the spotlight. Instead, I’m sure Skyla would agree: the best place to watch your enemies and plan your attacks is from within the shadows. 

About the Book:

Solina Mundy lives a quiet life, running the family bakery in the foothills of North Carolina. But a nightmare of a vicious wolf devouring her twin brother changes everything. When Solina learns her dream was real, she journeys to her brother’s home in the Land of the Midnight Sun to search for answers.
Solina soon suspects her brother’s friends are more than they seem, and they know more than they’re willing to admit. Skyla, an ex-marine, is the only one willing to help. As Skyla and Solina delve into the secrets surrounding her brother’s death, Solina learns her own fate is tied to his friends, his murder, and a dark history of forgotten myths and legends.

Solina also discovers a powerful new ability. She must learn to control it if she’s to keep everyone safe. If she fails, a long-lost dominion will rise, and everything she knows will fall into darkness.

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26 June, 2015

#BookReview :: ****: The Anatomy of Melancholy by Matthew Selwyn

Reality is overrated. Sex, love, power, life: it's gone digital. Why settle for a girlfriend with cellulite? Why spend every day working a dead-end job? These are the new days, the infinite days: plug in, get connected. Life is porn, porn is life, don't accept anything less than the electric light show that is our digital reality. At the end of every computer screen, a mind is being formed on the material coughed up by the web that connects us all: this is the story of one of the internet's children, told from his own warped perspective. This is the millennial generation, the Y generation: we're horny, lonely, afraid, and self-confident. This is our story, our reality. Thrillingly inventive and powerfully engaging, ****: The Anatomy of Melancholy is a timely examination of life and masculinity in the digital age, a study of loneliness and mental decay, and a satire on the consumption of literature of disaffection. Brutally honest and darkly comic, it is a very modern novel about a very modern life.

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This is a book like no other that I have read before. It is so unique at so many levels.

This time around, I am not going to give a summary of the book in my review, as I fear that – one, I will give out spoilers, and two, I feel that I will not be able to do justice to the book. Instead, all I will say is that the last line of the book blurb, ‘it is a very modern novel about a very modern life’, sums up the book just perfectly.

Let me start with the things that make this book stand out. First of all, there are no chapters in the book. Yes, that’s right. The whole big is just one BIG chapter. Add the author’s informal and friendly narration style, this book feels like a conversation between buddies. Then there’s the matter of the title – not that I expect many people to agree with me on this, but to me it felt like a title of a classic book with heavy content that fire debates and discussion. Well, the second part about heavy content and firing discussions turned out to be true, only this is a modern novel that talks about modern times.

The protagonist is someone who almost demands your hatred and empathy at the same time. His unpretentious and honest narration will draw you in and while some of the things will almost disgust you, some things will bring out your philosophical side. No matter which emotion this book evokes in you the strongest, it will be impossible to deny that it truly reflects the modern society of the 21st century. I absolutely loved the author’s take and his matured interpretation.

From the photo on the cover, it looks like the author is still pretty young. And that impressed me on two levels. Firstly, the quality of his writing and content shows maturity. Secondly because it gives me hope for both for literature world and the world in general.

A fantastic debut!

Review Copy received from the Author

25 June, 2015

#BookReview :: Queen of Blood by Jill Myles

For one hundred years, Seri’s people have lived under the thumb of the Blood, the cruel and mysterious rulers of Athon. Seri wants nothing more than to put food on the table and marry the hotheaded but handsome Rilen come spring. But when a noblewoman asks Seri to be her handmaiden, Rilen insists she move to the enemy’s castle . . . and spy on the newly arrived prince.
Prince Graeme has grown weary of his family’s curse. The Blood are powerful and immortal, but doomed to live in the shadows, flitting from lover to lover, always in search of the mythic Eterna—the one woman who will sate their hunger. Now his father has sent him to the outskirts of the empire to stamp out a rebellious Vidari faction. But when a wild and alluring Vidari girl shows up at court, he finds himself torn between following his father’s orders and following his heart . . .
A war is brewing between Athonite and Vidari, between Blood and man. As uprisings sweep through the land, Seri and Graeme find themselves at the center of a storm with only one choice: betray each other, or betray their people. 

Seri is a simple Vidari goose girl. All she cares about is taking care of her family and getting married to Rilen in the spring. But when the Athonite court arrives, and Seri is given an opportunity to work for an Athonite noblewoman, she goes into the enemy’s castle to earn some money and to spy on the Prince. She soon finds out that the curse of The Blood is real and that the reigning royals are literal monsters who live on blood. When a twist of fate lands Seri and Prince Graeme together – bonds are forged, loyalties are tested and they each have to find a way to make things work.

I liked Seri from the beginning. She comes across this normal village girl who works hard to take care of her family. Her world revolves around her father, sister and her love interest, Rilen. She is pretty much resigned to the life that has been dealt to her. Later in the book though, I was really mad at Seri when she had the chance to get her parents out and up to the castle for a better life, she really dragged her feet. Her father had been sick and could have had a cure and medicines, yet she really did not do much to get them there. She did send for them, though a bit late, but never really followed up on it. It just did not feel right to me that she was enjoying the grandeur of the castle while her family was left behind. Rilen on the other hand came off as a really good guy in the beginning. He seemed to care for Seri and even gave up his daily earning to make sure she and her family had enough food. He also seemed to be an idealistic, who wanted to fight for his freedom from the oppression of the Athonites. But his ideas and fight for freedom took him down the wrong path… I really stopped liking Rilen when he sent Seri back to the castle. Prince Graeme made an ‘okay’ impression on me. He could do more… really more if he wanted to. But I guess after growing up under the expectations, he needed time. I also liked Prince Graeme’s sister, she is such a darling. I wish she had a bigger role to play.

The world building was fascinating. The concept of Athonites and Vidari and their difference in cultures was interesting. Also the concept of mortal and immortals were handles in a different manner. The book has Vampires, yet the word Vampire was never used. I would have liked more details and more history though… Like about the rest of Graeme’s family and even more about Graeme before he came to the Vidari lands. Also, I do understand the author’s need to explore the bond between the two main characters, but I sure wish there was less sex and more talking between the two.

I do not know if there is going to be a sequel, (there is no mention and this book works as a standalone with an acceptable ending) but I hope for more. I would like to know more about how Graeme and Seri end up ruling their people and about Seri’s daughters. I am left wanting more…

Review Copy received via NetGalley

24 June, 2015

#BookReview :: Smek for President! (Smek #2) by Adam Rex

J.Lo made a gargantuan mistake and the Boov were banished from Earth. Now he is hated by them all. But certain that his fellow aliens will forgive him, J.Lo journeys to New Boovland to prove his loyalty to them. With the sharp eye and stealth of his human friend Gratuity, can J.Lo really go head-to-head for power with the supreme HighBoov Captain Smek - and win? 

This brilliant, original comic sci-fi adventure from New York Times bestselling author Adam Rex gives us more of the madcap antics and laugh-out-loud lines that we loved about The True Meaning of Smekday, the book that inspired the major motion picture HOME. 

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I watched the movie ‘Home’ couple of weeks back and received this review copy soon after. It was only after I got this book that I realized that the animated movie was based on a book. I had enjoyed the movie and so I delved into this book with much enthusiasm.

Tip and J.Lo are trying to settle back into ‘normal’ lifestyle after their ordeal in the first installment. But it is tougher than one would think. On one hand we have Tip, who now has a problem with her very loving but overbearing mother – atleast she thinks so. On the other hand, J.Lo misses his people and gets the idea that if he can explain to his people that it was a mistake on his part and that he did help save the day, he might be taken back into the fold of the Boovs. So, Tip and J.Lo take a trip to the new colony that the Boovs have set up. When they reach there, they realize that the Boovs are in the middle of an election campaign for the spot of Supreme Boov. They run into trouble (as expected) almost immediately and there starts a new adventure.

The beginning was a bit slow and I had trouble getting into it. But soon enough I was engrossed in the books. So much so, that I finished the book in one sitting. I have to admit that the accompanying artwork made the book so much more fun than it would be without them. I loved both Tip and J.Lo… on trying to come into terms with her accomplishments and her life with her mother. While the other trying to come into terms with his mistakes and the effect that it had among his people. In other words, it is almost like a coming of age novel. The humour in the book is just splendid. I laughed my way through it. No matter what your sense of humour is like, everyone will find enough laughs in the book.

Lots of fun, some chase scenes and some heart touching moments makes this book a complete entertainer.

Review Copy received from Bloomsbury India

23 June, 2015

#ReleaseDayBlitz :: Striker's Apprentice (The Chosen #3) by Andrea Buginsky

Now Available!

As a young hunter seeks a trainer, The Chosen prepare for an unforgettable adventure. With Nature and Phantasma back in order, Halli and Silvor have settled into their new life in Drumple. During a visit from Striker, Kaidyla and Lumina, a request from an old friend of Halli’s family sparks a new challenge when she asks Striker if he’ll train their young son, Dylan. Working with Dylan gives Striker a chance to be a mentor once again, as he had been in his past. This brings The Chosen to an area of Phantasma Halli has never seen before. What new dangers might be lurking in the forest? Will Halli have a reason to use her powers? But Halli and Silvor are facing a new journey of their own, one that will change their lives forever. What is in store for The Chosen’s future? Will this latest escapade prepare them for what is yet to come?   


With another week of teaching behind them, Halli and Silvor enjoyed a quiet, leisurely breakfast at the tavern, catching up with their neighbors. As he was telling her about a new student, Silvor saw a look of surprise and joy come across Halli’s face. Turning to see what she was looking at, he saw a pretty dwarf about his mother-in-law’s age walking towards Halli, smiling at her. “Do you know her?” As he asked, the woman walked over to their table. “Halli! Your mother told me I might find you here.” “Cynthia! It’s so good to see you again.” Hugging Cynthia, she turned to Silvor, making the introductions. “Silvor, this is Cynthia, Mom’s best friend. She moved away from Drumple years ago with her husband.” She turned back to Cynthia. “I’m surprised Mom didn’t tell me you were back in Drumple.” Knowing his wife would be involved in a lengthy conversation, Silvor made his way to the bar and began talking to the tavern keeper. “We only returned about a week ago, and we’ve been busy settling in,” Cynthia responded to Halli’s comment. “It’s wonderful to see you, Halli. My, how you’ve grown! We’re so proud of everything you’ve done for Phantasma. I can’t believe you’re the same shy girl who used to sit quietly with your mother and me and read all day. Now look at you: married, and a Holy Paladin! Where have the years gone?” “Mom wonders the same thing sometimes. And you? I hear you have a son. You’ve been gone from Drumple for so long, I don’t think I’ve even met him.” “Oh, I’m sure you haven’t. He wasn’t born until after his father and I moved away from Drumple. But that was 15 years ago already!” “What does he do? Is he a student at the school now? I don’t remember meeting anyone new lately…” “No, he finished his studies a year ago, when he decided to take up hunting. Now he’s looking for a trainer. Which is what brings me to you. I was hoping you could talk to one of the hunters in your group about taking him on as an apprentice. Do you think they would be willing to do that?” “Oh, I’m sure Striker and Kaidyla would love that! They’ll be here for a visit this weekend. Perhaps I can introduce you all then. Is your son here now? I’d love to meet him.” “He’s right over there.” Turning to the young dwarf playing at the game table, Cynthia called, “Dylan! Come here. There’s someone I’d like you to meet.”

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About the Author
My HeadshotAndrea Buginsky is a freelance writer with a BA in Mass Communication-Journalism from the University of South Florida. She has always wanted to be a published writer, and decided to try to write fantasy books for teens. The Chosen is her first book, and was released on December 14, 2010, to her delight.
Andrea has written five more books since:
  • My Open Heart, an autobiography of growing up with heart disease.
  • Nature's Unbalance: The Chosen, Book 2
  • Striker's Apprentice: The Chosen, Book 3
  • Destiny: New Avalon, book 1, a YA fantasy
  • Fate: New Avalon, book 2, a YA fantasy
She is currently writing the fourth book in The Chosen series.
Andrea lives in Kansas with her family, which includes her two precious puppies.
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#BookReview :: The Blood of an Englishman (Agatha Raisin #25) by M.C. Beaton

"Fee, fie, fo, fum. I smell the blood of an Englishman..."Even though Agatha Raisin loathes amateur dramatics, her friend Mrs. Bloxby, the vicar’s wife, has persuaded her to support the local pantomime. Stifling a yawn at the production of "Babes in the Woods," Agatha watches the baker playing an ogre strut and threaten on the stage, until a trapdoor opens and the Ogre disappears in an impressive puff of smoke. Only he doesn't re-appear at final curtain.

Surely this isn't the way the scene was rehearsed? When it turns out the popular baker has been murdered, Agatha puts her team of private detectives on the case. They soon discover more feuds and temperamental behavior in amateur theatrics than in a professional stage show—and face more and more danger as the team gets too close to the killer.

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I feel like I have been living under a rock for not knowing about Agatha Raisin before this! This is the 25th book in the series and I only came to know about it when Hachette India sent the book my way! Thank You Hachette for introducing me to this new character!

Agatha Raisin has no interest in amateur theatrics, but agrees to attend a local production with her friend Mrs. Bloxby. She doesn’t particularly enjoy the play and is happy to take her leave at the end of it. But with police cars arriving at the scene, she realizes that something is up. The local baker had been found murdered in a gruesome manner and the prime suspect is the shows handsome producer, Gareth. Even though she doesn’t really need a client to get involved in the investigation, Agatha takes on the case when she is approached by the suspect. Slowly and steadily Agatha builds up a list of suspect, all of whom seemed to be interested in the baker’s wife… Is this a cold blooded murder or a crime of passion?

Agatha Raisin is such a unique character. She has set up her own private investigation agency after quitting her high flying career in PR in London and settling into an early retirement. She smokes, drinks and is crazy about men. But she is also dedicated, liberal and quite a lonely woman whose only friend is Sir Charles. She is not what you would expect a PI to be, yet her unusual character and methods work out fine and bring in something different to the stories. I have to say though, it would have been better if I had read the series from the beginning (something I intend to do now) as I felt the connection between Agatha and some of the characters and wish I had known the backstory there. I did not like most of the characters that appeared in the book though. Are they all nasty people in that town or what? The plot itself is straightforward enough and I could guess the killer in the first half of the book itself. However, it still made for an interesting read.

A rather different sort of book for all the mystery lovers out there.

Review Copy received from Hachette India

#CoverReveal :: The Judge's Story by Joyce T. Strand

Book Blurb:

A Superior Court Judge with a passion for social justice as well as the law strives to discover the truth behind the mystery of a robbery-murder in a small California town in 1939.
When the Judge hears testimony against a 14-year-old teenager, he realizes that the boy participated in a robbery-murder. However, the accused did not actually pull the trigger. But unless the boy identifies his partner, the Judge must sentence him as a murderer, which would result in prolonged jail time. The Judge’s investigator, along with the precocious 16-year-old girl who identified the boy as one of the thieves, explore different approaches to uncover the murderer. In the backdrop of escalating war in Europe, the financial scarcities of the Great Depression, and the Judge’s caseload, their attempts to find justice for the accused boy and unmask the killer lure the Judge and his friends into sordid criminal activities.

About the Author:

Mystery author Joyce T. Strand, much like her fictional character, Jillian Hillcrest, served as head of corporate communications at several biotech and high-tech companies in Silicon Valley for more than 25 years. Unlike Jillian, however, she did not encounter murder. Rather, she focused on publicizing her companies and their products. She is the author of the Jillian Hillcrest mysteries ON MESSAGE, OPEN MEETINGS, and FAIR DISCLOSURE and the Brynn Bancroft mystery HILLTOP SUNSET. Strand received her Ph.D. from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C. and her B.A. from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA. She currently lives in Southern California with her two cats, a collection of cow statuary and art, and her muse, the roadrunner.

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22 June, 2015

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - The difference between a Writer and an Author by Christopher Slater

*** Special Feature - June 2015 ***

The difference between a Writer and an Author

    A very wise man once said, “Becoming an author was an accident. Being a writer was on purpose.” Ok, it wasn’t a very wise man. I wrote those words as an introduction to my website, but I have looked back at them and wondered if I was being monotonous. Is there a difference between a writer and an author? Is it just six of one, half a dozen of the other? Does anyone care? When I was asked by one person what it takes to become a writer and then another what it takes to become an author, I realized that we really do need to know the difference.

Dictionary.com defines an author as “a person who writes a novel, poem, essay, etc.” The same site defines a writer as “a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc.” Seems like pretty much the same thing, right? Not if you really read the definition. The author has written. The writer is engaged in writing. Being a writer is more than just an activity. It is something that is a part of someone. Its something that you do because you feel that you must. That writing might be in the form of a poem, a story, a novel, a blog or journal entry, or even freeform thoughts on a page. When you are a writer, you put some part of yourself onto that page. I am not making any claims about talent or ability or possibility of success. I am simply saying that there are a lot of writers out there, and that they shouldn’t stop being writers. Sometimes you feel that you need to take whatever it is in your mind, heart, or soul and record it on that most mystically seductive medium known as paper. Follow that need. Success isn’t a promise, or maybe not even a goal. For a writer, the writing was the goal.

An author is someone who has the talent, ability, planning, and ingenuity to take that need to write and turn it into something that others will consume through reading. There is a massive element of talent involved, as well as business acumen, interpersonal skills, and maybe even a little luck. Very few writers become authors, and fewer still become successful ones. However, every author is a writer. That is something that the most successful author has in common with a kindergartener that writes their first two-sentence tale.

If you are a writer that has not become an author, it doesn’t make you any less of a writer. I still haven’t achieved the level of an author by my definition of the word. That’s just fine. Be a writer. Don’t let anything stop you from it. Being a writer isn’t something that you do for success. It is something that you do for you. The last great acceptable selfish act.

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This is not the story of a hero.

So begins the story of one of the most distinctive heroes you'll ever meet. Drafted into a war he barely comprehends with no taste for combat, Pup will find himself thrust into the very center of the conflict. How he affects that conflict, and how this changes him and everyone around him, is the soul of this utterly unique war story.

Equal parts adventure and farce, tragedy and comedy, PUP introduces an unforgettable accidental hero to war literature, and announces Christopher Slater as a resonant new voice.

1 Signed Copy of Pup by Christopher Slater (US Residents Only)
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20 June, 2015

#BookReview :: Killing Ashish Karve (Inspector Saralkar #1) by Salil Desai

Senior Inspector Saralkar is back at his desk after spending a rather annoying week at a Secrets of Living course, especially for police officers and he is itching for some action now. Luckily, an exciting new case turns up right away!
The body of Ashish Karve, a local businessman has been found in the back seat of his car. To PSI Motkar, Saralkar's diminutive assistant, it seems to be a straightforward case of suicide. But Saralkar's sharp mind is agog with the dark possibility of murder. As the case unfolds Saralkar finds enough motives for people, be it Ashishs business partner, his wife, his brother, his friend, his brother-in-law or even strangers to want to do away with him! Is the senior inspector becoming too fanciful in his imagination or is he on the right track in assuming that Ashish was killed?
Delve into this deliciously thrilling whodunit and walk along with Senior Inspector Saralkar and PSI Motkar as they set out to sift the truth from lies and half truths.

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This is another instance where I have read the second book first. Don’t get me wrong, the books in this series can be read as standalones, but I rather like to read them in order. That way I get to see how the author introduces the protagonist and then note the growth of the character through the series. I have already read The Murder of Sonia Raikkonen, and have enjoyed it quite a bit.

Senior Inspector Saralkar had been away for a week attending the Secrets of Living course. To a man of action like Inspector Saralkar, it had been a particularly annoying week. But he manages to get a case soon after his return. The body of Ashish Karve has been found in the back seat of his car. While it seems like an open-and-shut case of suicide, Saralkar’s intuition says otherwise. As he takes on the charge of investigating this death of a local businessman as a murder, Saralkar is thrown into a world of deceit and betrayals. Everybody in Ashish Karve’s life seems to have a motive to kill him – his wife or, his brother or, his friend or, his business partner… They all have something to hide. It is up to Saralkar and his assistant to separate the truth from the lies and get to the bottom of the matter.

I liked the way the author introduced Saralkar and Motkar to his readers... each in a personal situation that had nothing to do with the case. It was like looking at a common man without the uniform.  Saralkar has so many shades – he can be grumpy, and mostly he is. But he can also be sarcastic and funny. There is also an indulgent side to him which doesn’t come out often. Motkar is a perfect sidekick who is meek, provides comic relief and often stumbles into something important without realizing it. Saralkar and Motkar make quite a pair. There are a bunch of other characters in the book, but none are expendable. They each bring in something to the plot. Each character is uniquely developed and there are only a couple of them who I felt were underplayed in the story.

The plotline is not very complicated. It’s the number of suspects with motives that add to the mystery in the story. I also particularly liked the way the author has portrayed how the Indian Police work. It is not as gritty as some of the international police procedural books or tv shows, but it was a nice change to read about the Indian counterparts. It is not very common in Indian literature, especially not in the recent times. The other thing I liked was the way the author left the clues out in the open like breadcrumbs for the readers to follow and play a classic game of whodunit. The narration style is addictive with ample amount of twists and wit infused in it. The story starts with a crack and continues to build its momentum till the climax.

A thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Review Copy received from Fingerprint Publishing

19 June, 2015

#BookReview :: Lionel Goes to Camp by Paul R. Hewlett

Lionel is back in another Grand Adventure! Lionel's Grand Adventure: Lionel Turns the Other Cheek is a beginning chapter book for ages 7-10. Lionel has always wanted to go to summer camp, but will his mean old Mom let him? Even though Lionel is now familiar with the Three-Toed-Pot-Bellied Walbaun foot, its unpredictable nature takes him on another adventure of a lifetime. Join Lionel as he heads off to summer camp and discover the wonderful world of the magical Walbaun foot and the lesson it helps teach Lionel (again).

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Paul R. Hewlett writes chapter books for kids of 7 to 10 years of age. His first book was Lionel and the Golden Rule which introduced Lionel to the world. I had read and enjoyed the first book quite a bit and so, it was a no-brainer when Paul asked me to read Lionel’s second adventure with Lionel Turns the Other Cheek.

What kid doesn’t like summer camp? Lionel is no exception. He is convinced that he needs to go to the summer camp in order to find out more about his father and when he finds out that Carrie will be going there too, Lionel manages to convince his mother to send him. The summer camp holds so much promise as it would not only mean some time away from his mother and brother, but also more time with Carrie and maybe even find some answers he has been looking for. Lionel arrives at the camp with his Three-Toed-Potbellied Walbaun foot only to find out that he will be rooming with the biggest bully around, Tad. Lionel is determined not to let anything, or anyone ruin his experience… Besides he has hi his Three-Toed-Potbellied Walbaun foot to help him out, doesn’t he?

Reading Lionel’s new adventure was as much fun as I was expecting it to be. He is a chubby little cutie pie who managed to charm me through the book. What kid doesn’t make mistakes? The trick is in learning from it and to never repeat it. Lionel, in this book, brings forward the very serious subject of bullying, and more importantly, how to handle it. Some may say that the bullies deserve a tit-for-tat situation, where he gets bullied – to make him understand what it feels like. But does it solve the problem? And what effect does it have on the victim turned bully? 

Paul R. Hewlett has produced another appealing piece of fiction that will get the children to not only read, but also take away a valuable lesson from it.

Review Copy received from the Author

18 June, 2015

#Spotlight :: Answers for Julie by Cate Beauman

Award winning romantic suspense author Cate Beauman is back with the ninth full length novel in the Bodyguards of L.A. County series.  Answers For Julie is on sale now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and more!

Julie Keller relishes the simple things: hot chocolate on winter nights, good friends she calls her family, and her laid-back career as a massage therapist and yoga instructor. Julie is content with her life until Chase Rider returns to Bakersfield.

Bodyguard Chase Rider isn’t thrilled to be back in the town where he spent his childhood summers. His beloved grandmother passed away, leaving him a house in need of major repairs. With a three-week timetable and a lot to do, he doesn’t have time for distractions. Then he bumps into Julie, the one woman he hoped never to see again. Chase tries to pretend Julie doesn’t exist, but ten years hasn’t diminished his attraction to the hazel-eyed stunner.

When a stranger grabs Julie’s arm at the grocery store—a woman who insists Julie’s life isn’t what it seems, Chase can’t help but get involved. Julie and Chase dig into a twenty-five-year-old mystery, unearthing more questions than answers. But the past is closer than they realize, and the consequences of the truth have the potential to be deadly.

The inspiration behind Answers For Julie:

I often get my story ideas from watching crime documentaries, but the plot for Answers For Julie came together after I read some sobering FBI statistics in a magazine about the odds of a missing child coming home. Unfortunately, many children are lost forever. The wheels began spinning quickly after that, and a few weeks later, the story was well on its way.

I hope you enjoy Julie and Chase as much as I enjoyed writing them!

~ Cate

Read an excerpt from Answers For Julie:

She frowned, glancing in her rearview mirror when someone honked. Gasping, she cringed, bracing herself for a nasty impact as a car approached fast from behind. When the vehicle barely missed hers, she accelerated, making space for the bully to go around, but the navy blue BMW moved closer to her bumper.
She punched the gas, moving over to the final right-hand lane. The car sped up directly to her left, until the dark tint of the passenger’s window was even with her driver’s side. Julie pressed on her brake, slowing on the damp roads, hoping the car would move on, but it decreased its speed as she did. “What are you doing?”
Unsure of what to do, she jerked her rental toward the upcoming off ramp. The car followed, closing the distance between them, and rammed her back door, forcing her closer to the guardrail. She screamed, veering hard to the left, barely avoiding a collision with metal and a plummet to the busy road several hundred feet below.
The vehicle sped off as she slammed on her brakes and sat where she was, closing her eyes and gasping in several breaths. She flinched and screamed again, her eyes flying open as a red Camero honked as it swerved to miss hitting her.
Trembling, she accelerated to the bottom of the off-ramp, knowing that if she didn’t move she would cause an accident. She braked at the stoplight, her teeth chattering and her eyes darting around, on the lookout for the BMW. There was no way that was some random act of road rage. She could no longer claim that the instances in Massachusetts were a string of bad luck. Chase was right. Someone was trying to hurt her, and she still needed his help.

Did you enjoy the excerpt?  You can read the first chapter on my website, www.catebeauman.com, or you can finish the whole book here!

The Unofficial Answers For Julie Soundtrack

Music still plays such a large part in my writing process. I listen to Pandora or YouTube and compile a collection of songs that I feel represent my characters or the situations they face as the novel unfolds.  Here are a few of the songs that I had on “repeat” while I created Julie and Chase’s story!  You can listen to all of them on my website www.catebeauman.com.

The soundtrack, of sorts, for Answer For Julie:
·         Leaving Home by Cody Fry and Raquel Cole
·         All The Stars by Ed Sheeran
·         Rust Or Gold by Jill Andrews
·         American Secrets by Parachute
·         Thinking Of You by Katy Perry
·         Battleship by Daughtry
·         Find My Way Back by Cody Fry
·         The Last Time by Taylor Swift ft. Gary Lightbody
·         Running Back To You by Matt Wertz
·         Ungodly Hour by The Fray
·         I Need You by LeAnn Rimes
·         Free Like You Make Me by The Cary

About the author:

Cate currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, their two boys, and St. Bernard’s, Bear and Jack. She is the author of the international bestselling and award winning romantic suspense series, Bodyguards of L.A. County.  Before her career as an author, Cate worked in special education for 12 years.

“I’m a pretty lucky girl; one day I woke up and my entire life changed. I saw the light, so to speak, and decided I was going to be a writer. Now, five years later, I’m working on my tenth novel! I remain so very grateful for the support and success that I have had.  Thank you!”  - Cate


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