AWRW Book Review: Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni, by Author Mary Smith @MarySmithWriter

drunkchickensDrunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni offers a remarkable insight into the lives of Afghan women both before and after Taliban’s rise to power. The reader is caught up in the day-to-day lives of women like Sharifa, Latifa and Marzia, sharing their problems, dramas, the tears and the laughter: whether enjoying a good gossip over tea and fresh nan, dealing with a husband’s desertion, battling to save the life of a one-year-old opium addict or learning how to deliver babies safely.

Mary Smith spent several years in Afghanistan working on a health project for women and children in both remote rural areas and in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif. Given the opportunity to participate more fully than most other foreigners in the lives of the women, many of whom became close friends, she has been able to present this unique portrayal of Afghan women – a portrayal very different from the one most often presented by the media.

Paperback, 330 pages
Published November 1st 2012 by Indigo Dreams Publishing (first published December 2001)
Page Count: 330

Genre: Women’s Studies, War & Politics, Cultural Studies, Non-Fiction, Travel

What’s It About?

Author Mary Smith traveled to Afghanistan with her husband and son, to open a healthcare clinic, and train and recruit female volunteers. What she wasn’t expecting, was to meet women who were so far different from what is portrayed in the media.

“I had to accept that all I ‘knew’ and ‘understood’ about women in Afghanistan had been based on much too narrow a field of contact.”

The media is centrally focused on men and their war, neglecting to report on the day to day lives of Afghans, which of course contributes to western stereotypes of how Afghans live. Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni is about real Afghan women, and their thoughts and opinions.

Mary Smith travels to different cities, on rough, dangerous streets, at one point having a rocket launcher pointed at her, all in the name of saving children’s lives and educating women on healthcare issues. Afghanistan was made better by Mary’s visits, as the babies are healthier and stronger, and common folk remedies, (such as fasting) are dismissed for more suitable treatments to illnesses, such as rehydration for diarrhea. As the women volunteers accept their certificates, they gain not only improved self esteem, but the respect from their husbands and their community.

“There are children alive today because of our work.”

Mary hoped to learn, from the women themselves, what life was really like for Afghan women. She learned all that and more, as they accepted her as one of their own, and became great friends. 

My Thoughts

I am in such awe of Author Mary Smith. My respect of her has grown triple-fold, and I can honestly say that she is my hero.

I enjoyed this book for two reasons: 1) I have a strong interest in women’s studies, and 2.) I have a strong interest in the healthcare field. This book satisfied two of my curiosities.

Often, Mary recalls events in humor, and while I wasn’t expecting to be laughing out loud over a book about Afghanistan, I was.

“Icy winds had swept across the plains to pierce our many layers of clothing. Everyone was so well padded it looked like the city had been taken over by Michelin Men.”

So, that was certainly a nice surprise. :)

I also learned about Afghan cooking and cuisine. I think I would lose a lot of weight… Surviving off of tea and naan, (flat bread), eggs, mulberries, and melon (when in season) would not be very satisfying. And if I was “lucky”, goat, tough chicken and, get ready for this… sheep head!

What I found most amusing about Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni, was the extra-marital sexual freedom her translator, Iqbal, describes. For starters, sex is a taboo subject, and if caught having an extra-marital affair, the woman could be, at the very least, given a 100 lashes, and at the most, stoned to death. It is amazing to me that anyone would risk having sex, let alone extra-marital, with rules like that. I was equally as confused and shocked, as Mary was, to learn that a married woman would dare flirt with another man, with the consequences mentioned above.

Also, Iqbal tells Mary, that he believed that western women were very loose, parading men in and out of their bedrooms all day, (thanks to western TV shows, and magazines for that notion). The sexual stereotypes of different cultures were certainly amusing to me. I got a good laugh at that one, especially when Mary asked him if he believed that of her, and he said, “No, you’re old!” –Mind you, she was 39!!!!

Plus, Mary had to teach the women about gynecological issues, with a less than helpful, prudish, conversational Dari language teacher. I laughed at the ways Mary came up with her own way, and words to teach the women these issues.

BEFORE the frenized killing in Mazar-i-sharif, the mannequins in the store, and the women shopping, symbolizes freedom from the Taliban, who shortly before, were in power.

I also enjoyed learning about the lives of Afghan women, and how it varied depending on what city you lived in. In the cities, the women are more “free” and are out and about on the streets, highly visible, and working alongside men. In more rural areas of Afghanistan, women are treated like donkeys, barely able to look you in the eye because of the way they have been conditioned.

“One day, life will be different for women in Afghanistan, but it will never be the same as in your country. We have to find our own way.”

Mary’s heroic work takes a backseat to the lives of Afghan women in Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni. She is very humble about her achievements, instead choosing to focus on the women she met. Mary discusses life in Afghanistan, both before, during, and after the Taliban regime, and the effect the Taliban had on the cities and people, specifically women. Any reader who is interested in women’s studies, healthcare, or afghan culture can benefit from reading this book. I minored in women’s studies at the University of CT, and I strongly believe that this book should be REQUIRED READING for a college level women’s studies class. I know I am smarter because of reading Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni.

***I received a copy of Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni, Real Stories of Afghan Women, from the Author, in exchange for a thoughtful, fair, and honest book review. This in no way swayed my opinion or rating.***

Purchase

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About The Author

Mary Smith has always loved writing. As a child she wrote stories in homemade books made from wallpaper trimmings – but she never thought people could grow up and become real writers. She spent a year working in a bank, which she hated – all numbers, very few words – ten years with Oxfam in the UK, followed by ten years working in Pakistan and Afghanistan. She longed to allow others to share her amazing, life-changing experiences so she wrote about them – fiction, non-fiction, poetry and journalism. And she discovered the little girl who wrote stories had become a real writer after all.
Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women is an account of her time in Afghanistan and her debut novel No More Mulberries is also set in Afghanistan.  —Amazon Author Bio

Books By Mary Smith

Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni

No More Mulberries

Thousands Pass Here Every Day

Before The Taliban: Living With War, Hoping For Peace

Mary loves interacting with her readers. Connect with her on social media:

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AWRW Book Review: Have You Seen This Girl? By Carissa Ann Lynch @CarissaAnnLynch

have-you-seen-this-girl-front-cover1Wendi Wise is a troubled young woman who snorts her breakfast through a straw and spends more time in rehab than in the real world… Her life is seemingly out of control.

But now she has a plan.

That plan involves a sharp set of butcher knives.

She’s going back to where all of her troubles began…Flocksdale.

Wendi was lured away from a local skating rink, at the age of thirteen, and held captive in a place she calls ‘The House of Horrors.’ Dumped off blindfolded on the side of a dirt road, Wendi soon discovered that she was addicted to the drugs they fed her while she was captive.

Too scared to go home, and having a new habit to deal with, she hopped on a bus, vanishing from the family she loved.

Vanishing from Flocksdale…

The town of Flocksdale is littered with fliers with a grainy image of young Wendi, and the words ‘Have You Seen This Girl?’ written below.

Now, eight years later, she’s on a mission—a mission to find the mysterious house from her youth and the monsters who dwell inside it.

“This is the end, beautiful friend, the end…”

Ebook/Paperback: 287 pages
Expected Publication: September 8th 2015 by Limitless Publishing

Genre: Psychological Suspense, Suspense, Mystery, Thriller, Fiction

What’s It About?

“Perhaps you are wondering how I got this way. Or perhaps you don’t give a damn. Either way, this is my story. It’s not a story about addiction. This is a story about murder.”

Wendi was kidnapped as a teenager, forced into a lifestyle that involved drugs to numb the pain, and eventually let go to fend for herself. After a brief hiatus, she returns to Flocksdale on a mission.

“Wendi Wise was back.”

What her kidnappers weren’t expecting, was for this tortured girl to become a torturer…

Have You Seen This Girl? is a tale of revenge, told in first person perspective by the lead protagonist, Wendi.

My Thoughts

WOW!!!! What a story!!! I have whiplash from all the plot twists and turns! Have You Seen This Girl? is the furthest thing from predictable!

Immediately, I was drawn into the plot. When Wendi said that this wasn’t a story about addiction, and that it was a story about murder, I had CHILLS! -And this was in 90 degree weather! I was dying to learn her story! As a warning, do not start this novel at night if you plan on getting any sleep because you will NOT be able to put this story down!

My favorite character was Wendi. I loved everything about her. I didn’t care that she was a dope addict, living like it was the stone age. That actually drew me to her more. I love tortured, angst-ridden characters, that somehow manage to pull themselves up out of the hellhole they are living in. Wendi was never a “damsel in distress”. I found this extremely endearing. I routed for her throughout.

The vivid, descriptive settings described by the author made it easy to fall into, and get lost in the story. Her world building was incredible. I felt like I was watching a movie playing in my head.

I have to mention that I love this author’s writing style. Every single chapter ended with a cliff hanger! That is why I said earlier that this book is very hard to put down.

The conclusion was very satisfying. I had tears in my eyes. I was so glad the author ended this story the way she did. I know this story is the first in a series, so I wonder what book 2 will be about? I impatiently await!

This novel is worth reading for so many reasons. I cannot express enough how much I enjoyed reading, Have You Seen This Girl? If you enjoy an angsty, psychological suspense, then I highly recommend this book to you! Order your copy today!

Can I give this more than 5 stars? No? DARN!

***I received a copy of this novel in exchange for a thoughtful, honest, and fair book review. This in no way swayed my opinion or rating.***

Purchase

Amazon, USA Paperback copy available now!
Amazon, USA Pre-order your E-copy! (FREE on Kindle Unlimited!)

Amazon, UK Paperback copy available now & eligible for free UK shipping!

Amazon, UK Pre-order your E-Copy! (Free on Kindle Unlimited!)

Amazon, AU Pre-order your E-Copy!

About The Author

Carissa LynchBesides my family, my greatest love in life is books. Reading them, writing them, holding them, smelling them…well, you get the idea. I’ve always loved to read, and some of my earliest childhood memories are me, tucked away in my room, lost in a good book. I received a five dollar allowance each week, and I always — always — spent it on books. My love affair with writing started early, but it mostly involved journaling and writing silly poems. Several years ago, I didn’t have a book to read so I decided on a whim to write my own story, something I’d like to read. It turned out to be harder than I thought, but from that point on I was hooked. My first and second books were released by Sarah Book Publishing: This Is Not About Love and Grayson’s Ridge. I’m a total genre-hopper. Basically, I like to write what I like to read: a little bit of everything! I reside in Floyds Knobs, Indiana with my husband, three children, and massive collection of books. I have a degree in psychology and worked as a counselor. —Goodreads Author Bio

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AWRW Book Review: Out Of Your Mind, Garret’s Control (Book 2), by Diane Hernandez @AZRomanceWriter

GarretsControlDaisy’s decision to return to her home meant choosing Garret, and when he shows her physical love, she feels a connection she couldn’t imagine possible with any other man. When Daisy proclaims her love, Garret opens up about his anxieties, but warns her that he comes with rules.

Once Daisy learns his requirements for a committed relationship and the life she will have to surrender to, her depression resurfaces, and once again she feels isolated and alone. When Garret mistakes her aversion for his lifestyle for longing for Conner, he leaves the country and ends their relationship.

Garret returns to the states and their physical need for each other is undeniable. Garret’s sex helps Daisy emerge from her despair as Garret seeks help so that he can relinquish some of his control and give Daisy the life she deserves. But when Garret learns she has yet to sever her ties with Conner, Garret punishes her so severely that Daisy can no longer tolerate his dominant behavior, forcing him to once again leave the country.

With Garret gone, Daisy feels like her old self for the first time since leaving San Diego. But it doesn’t take long before she feels her depression, pulling her down even with Conner at her side. She longs for Garret’s touch, knowing it would make the dark thoughts and despair vanish, but she convinces herself that Conner is her future.

When Conner’s brother, Tristan drives a wedge between his brother and Daisy, Garret returns to save her and rekindle their love affair. However, Daisy’s depression makes that impossible.

Daisy begins to live her life independently as she fights to become well. Her mental health is her only priority and her loneliness is now her normal. When she receives a message from someone from her past, the possibility for a future with a loving family and happiness no longer seem unattainable. Years of reflection, medical care and self-analysis helps Daisy find the woman she always longed to become.

The conclusion of the Out of You Mind series will have you clutching your chest, hoping Daisy fights for her health and her happily ever after.

The Out of Your Mind series is meant for adults over 18 and contains graphic sex and adult situations.

Kindle Edition, 235 pages
Published August 24th 2015 by Erotic Romance Book Cafe
Genre: Erotic Romance, BDSM, Contemporary Romance, Social Issues

What’s It About?

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would end up working for Garret Brinkley let alone have a relationship with him. But here I am, still living in his maid’s quarters as he pays for my education and I take care of his needs. All of his needs… I am just not sure I can be the only one to love without getting it in return.”

Daisy chooses Garret, but not his lifestyle. His control over her consumes him, in the bedroom and otherwise. It is the only way he knows how to protect her… Daisy feels stuck. She desires Garret, but feels disgusted by him at the same time.

“Dominance isn’t a fetish or recreational hobby for Garret, it’s his life.”

This installment of the Out Of Your Mind series finds Daisy choosing Garret, rediscovering herself, and her sexuality. It contains graphic adult situations, BDSM sexual violence, and a satisfying, happily-ever-after. It is not meant for readers under the age of 18.

My Thoughts

This is the third novel I have read by Author Diane Hernandez, and I am becoming a huge fan of her writing. While Garret is a VERY difficult character to like, the author managed to weave a tale where in the end, you are happy for the couple’s reunion. I don’t know how she did that, because Garret was really getting on my nerves…

This erotic novel has strong central themes of BDSM, art, and mental illness. We learn why Garret behaves the way he does, in this installment. This revelation makes him slightly more likable.

So, is Garret a “book boyfriend”? Oh God, no… Not for me, anyways. Unless you are into the alpha-male, “dom” master type, then you will be saying, “Oh God, yes!” Different things appeal to different people. Garret certainly isn’t for everyone. :)

(Although, Garret does have his moments.)

I enjoyed this novel because the author paints a clear picture, and I felt like I was living in Daisy and Garret’s world. The author uses a lot of descriptions, regarding place, sights, smells, etc, and gets an A+ in world building. The conclusion was satisfying, and I was pleased to see Daisy and Garret get their happily-ever-after.

I would recommend this novel to fans of erotic romance, and BDSM, but please, read Daisy’s Choice first, as this novel cannot be read as a stand alone.

5 stars, or daisies in this case!

***I received an e-copy of this novel from the author, in exchange for a fair, thoughtful, and honest book review. This in no way swayed my opinion.***

Purchase

Out Of Your Mind, Daisy’s Choice, Book 1

daisyschoice

Out Of Your Mind, Garret’s Control, Book 2

GarretsControl

About The Author

Diane HernandezDiane Hernandez was always aware of the voices in her head. But, it wasn’t until her nest emptied, and the harried frenzy of being a wife, mother and chef was replaced with a quiet calm, did she listen to them. Once she realized those voices were telling her tales of love and lust, she started writing down the super sexy and provocative stories. Now, she has decided to release them for your enjoyment. When Diane is not busy taking dictation from her subconscious, she is teaching culinary arts, cooking, reading, gardening, shopping on Zulily or watching Project Runway.

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AWRW Book Review: “Next Stop: Nina”, by Author Robin Raven @RobinRaven

nextstopninaNina never was one who felt comfortable in this world.

As she struggles to cope with the pain of her present and past, the young girl’s life is changed through the beauty of art. When Nina grows up and winds up in over her head in a dark place, she finds herself somehow transported to another time when nothing is quite what it seems. She must fight the horrors of her past all over again. Along the way, she faces greater challenges than she imagined.

This is a character-driven novel with a heroine who faces life, love, and overcoming suicidal depression on her own terms.

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction, Time Travel

Page Count: 243

Published: July 19th, 2015, by Batham Press

Goodreads

What’s It About?

“Oh the joys we’d miss if we gave into the darkness that sometimes calls to very sensitive spirits.”

Nina, a troubled, suicidal woman with a dark past, finds herself reliving sections of her life that she would rather not revisit. Still, she finds art and unconditional love a solace to her pain, and she learns the secret to happiness is to not compromise who you are.

My Thoughts

My first initial impressions of Next Stop: Nina, was that it was choppy and had too many chapters. I soon after understood that the author meant this novel to read this way, because Nina’s life was choppy and all over the place due to her “echoing”, aka time traveling. The reader is meant to experience Nina’s life this way because it shifts randomly without warning.

“So my story shifted, and I began again. I discovered me.”

The third chapter ABSOLUTELY hooked me. It was dark and intriguing, and I was eager to read more to find out what would happen next. Chapter four blew me away. I would have read through the night and not have even stopped to blink if I didn’t have other commitments, you know, such as sleeping and being somewhat functional the next morning. :)

I liked reading this story through first person perspective. That is a rarity, now-a-days. It felt like the character was talking directly to me, or that I was reading her personal diary. I loved Nina, and enjoyed watching her character develop.

I particularly liked Nina’s connection to the painting in the novel, Autumn Joy, and how it was a continuing theme in the story, including that it inspired her to reach out to the man who painted it, which opened up a whole new world for her. I love a good romance, and a happily-ever-after!

The big revelation from the man who was following her gave me CHILLS, but I wished to know more. How did it happen? Why did it happen? How come she didn’t remember?

Next Stop: Nina is a book that will live in my heart for a long time. I also struggle with depression, and could relate to her, and her feelings. I felt so bad for her that she had to relive tragic situations, over and over again, but I was impressed that she tried her hardest to shift events in an attempt to prevent the inevitable.

“It’s hard to explain how one can be thankful for her blessings, and also want to commit suicide. If you’ve been there, though, I’m sure you know what I mean.”

Overall, I really enjoyed this debut novel of Author Robin Raven, and would recommend it to fans of time travel, with a romantic subplot!

What I Loved

Nina was a sympathetic, likable and relatable character.

First person POV.

Engaging, interesting plot with a time travel theme.

Romantic subplot

What I Disliked

I wished the big, shocking revelation in the car was elaborated on further.

Rating


(4 Star Rating: I really enjoyed this book! I would recommend it to readers who enjoy this particular genre! A well written story that is easy to get lost in and live vicariously through. I will probably read again.)

***In the interest of full disclosure, I received a copy of Next Stop: Nina, by the Author, in exchange for a fair, honest, and thoughtful book review. This in no way swayed my rating.***

Purchase

Amazon, USAAmazon, UK, Amazon, AU

About The Author

Robin Raven“I’m the human who once belonged to the greatest dog that ever lived. Now I do some writing and acting. I’m also a vegan foodie and a hopeful dreamer.”

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AWRW Book Review: The Three Mrs. Monroes, Penelope (Book 2), by Bernadette Marie @WritesRomance @5PrincePub

penelopeFrom loss breeds new life.

Penelope Monroe married on impulse and her heart had been broken by Adam Monroe’s lies. Pregnant she wonders how she will survive, alone, with her baby.

Brock Romero held Adam Monroe when he died in combat. Now released from the Army he makes it his priority to find Adam’s wife and share with her his last words.

On the verge of making the same mistake twice, Penelope must trust her heart—especially when new lies are uncovered.

***Complimentary paperback copy provided in exchange for a fair, thoughtful, and honest book review.***

Paperback, 254 pages

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romance, Military Romance

Published August 26th, 2014 by 5 Prince Publishing

Goodreads

Series: The Three Mrs. Monroes

What’s It About?

“Adam’s lies had entangled them. Adam’s death had brought them together. Adam’s life grew inside of her.”

Brock Romero held Adam Monroe in his arms as he died in army combat. Before he took his last breath, he asked Brock to take care of Penelope and their unborn child. Brock made good on his promise, and before returning home, he makes a stop at the Monroe residence.

Penelope has been burned before, badly. When Brock Romero shows up at her door, the Monroe women are suspicious of his motivations. Penelope, being six months pregnant, has raging hormones. She is falling, fast for Brock, despite what Vivian and Amelia think.

“I still don’t understand why you want to be around me. I’m someone else’s discarded, pregnant wife. I have nothing to offer a man.”

But, are the feelings mutual? Or is Brock only fulfilling a promise he made to a fallen soldier?

Book 2 of The Three Mrs. Monroes is Penelope’s story.

My Thoughts

0822151952aWOW, what a story! I loved how the author crafted this story, connecting the romance between Brock and Penelope, distantly to Adam. I’m dying to get to book 3, Vivian’s story, for her to get her turn at romance! –Although I will be absolutely depressed to end this excellent series.

Book 2 is a continuation of Book 1, but the focus is on Penelope’s perspective, rather than Amelia’s, like in Book 1. Book 2 finds Penelope heavily pregnant, and the women scrambling to get everything done in time to open their daycare center. The women are closer than ever, and more like sisters in this installment of The Three Mrs. Monroes.

What I enjoy the most about this series is the well-developed, lovable characters. Their relationships to one another, and the situations surrounding them, makes the story worth reading. You just WANT to know what the Monroe women will be up to next. I eagerly anticipate reading Book 3, Vivian’s story!

And to top it all off, the Author introduces Brock to the mix. The reader gets to witness a slow-simmering romance between the two, with a satisfying happily-ever-after. <3

I highly recommend this series to fans of contemporary romance with an HEA, and novels that focus on friendship!


Purchase

Amazon, USA, Amazon, UK, Amazon, AU

About The Author

Bernadette MarieNotebooks and pens have been my obsession since childhood. Later it became books and stories others weaved into the perfect escape. The day I received my first typewriter was the day the passion for spinning a tale hit me – and it hit hard.

I was thirteen when I first sat down to write the great-American love story. I didn’t have much to say at thirteen. But over the years I did fall in love, get married, have children, and an array of amazing adventures happened along the way. And the passion for writing stayed with me.

That first book took me twenty-two years to write the way I really liked it. When I was done, I boxed it up, put it away, and went to write twelve more books that next year and a half. In December of 2009, I signed my first contract and the published author was born.

I enjoy writing about close-knit families, the bond of friendship, and of course falling in love. Happy endings are a must and characters that my readers can associate with keep me typing into the wee hours of morning.

Contemporary Romance is the genre I call home for now, but in the future be assured that you will see a Paranormal Romance or a Historical and who knows – maybe someday you’ll see a Romantic Suspense.

I enjoy writing for those whose guilty pleasure is the happily ever after. I hope you’ll come along for the ride!Goodreads Author Bio

Photo Credits

Pregnant Woman: Shutterstock.com

Military Man: https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/military-men

AWRW Book Review: The Three Mrs. Monroes: Amelia (Book 1), by Bernadette Marie @WritesRomance

22979081From loss breeds new opportunity.

Amelia Monroe had felt the sharp pain from the loss of a soldier before -Adam Monroe’s death didn’t have that same effect.

Sam Jackson had one job -deliver Adam Monroe’s revised will. Even he couldn’t have anticipated that he’d be entangled in the web of lies his client had woven.

Doing what is right had been inbred in Amelia. She’d planned to say her goodbyes and start fresh. Staying in Adam’s small town with his other lies, that wasn’t part of her plan.

Paperback, 250 pages
Published August 1st 2014 by 5 Prince Publishing (first published July 29th 2014)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romance, Military
Series: The Three Mrs. Monroes

What’s It About?

0816151450Adam Monroe is killed in combat, when a landmine in Iraq takes his life. He leaves behind three wives, who meet at his funeral… As shocking as that is, the three Mrs. Monroes are in for an even bigger surprise, in the form of a revised will.

Sam Jackson was Adam’s attorney, and in charge of reading the will to the three Mrs. Monroes. His job should have ended there, but it doesn’t. Sam wants to help these three ladies, in any way that he can, especially Amelia… Not that she has ever needed a man’s help before.

Book 1 of The Three Mrs. Monroes is Amelia’s story.


My Thoughts

There is so much to like about Amelia’s story, that I don’t know where to start, so I will start with Amelia herself. I liked Amelia straight off the bat. She is cool, confident, and composed, despite her world shattering all around her. She wasn’t afraid to break the rules, or someone’s nose… :) Amelia is what I would call an alpha-heroine.

I really enjoyed Author Bernadette Marie’s writing style. She ended nearly every chapter with a cliff-hanger, making this book a page turner! I loved that!

This novel could have taken a completely different turn. It could have been a depressing tale of dishonesty and betrayal. Instead, the author turned “lemons into lemonade”. Tragedy becomes triumph, and Amelia gets her happily-ever-after in the end. <3

I highly recommend this series to fans of contemporary romance with alpha-heroines! I can’t wait to read book 2 of The Mrs. Monroes series, featuring Penelope’s story!


0816151450cI was given a copy of this novel in exchange for a fair, thoughtful, and honest book review. This in no way swayed my rating.

Purchase

Amazon, USAAmazon, UK

About The Author

Bernadette MarieNotebooks and pens have been my obsession since childhood. Later it became books and stories others weaved into the perfect escape. The day I received my first typewriter was the day the passion for spinning a tale hit me – and it hit hard.

I was thirteen when I first sat down to write the great-American love story. I didn’t have much to say at thirteen. But over the years I did fall in love, get married, have children, and an array of amazing adventures happened along the way. And the passion for writing stayed with me.

That first book took me twenty-two years to write the way I really liked it. When I was done, I boxed it up, put it away, and went to write twelve more books that next year and a half. In December of 2009, I signed my first contract and the published author was born.

I enjoy writing about close-knit families, the bond of friendship, and of course falling in love. Happy endings are a must and characters that my readers can associate with keep me typing into the wee hours of morning.

Contemporary Romance is the genre I call home for now, but in the future be assured that you will see a Paranormal Romance or a Historical and who knows – maybe someday you’ll see a Romantic Suspense. 

I enjoy writing for those whose guilty pleasure is the happily ever after. I hope you’ll come along for the ride! —Goodreads Author Bio

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The Terrorists of Iraq, by Author Malcolm W. Nance @Tapstri : Guest Book Review by Ben Ready

22834604This highly decorated, visible author is revising the first edition of this book in the wake of the most recent turmoil. His new edition contains valuable insight to many of the terrorist groups in the Iraq region including ISIS, which is being talked about on nearly every news outlet today. The book continues to draw on the historical analyses and examinations of organizations, weapons, strategy, tactics, and policy recommendations included in the first edition. It will also add valuable insight learned from the most recent crisis and the changes that have occurred in the last six years since its publication.

Hardcover, 392 pages
Published December 29th 2014 by CRC Press
Genre: Politics, Social Science, Political Science, Textbook, History, Humanities, International and World Politics, Terrorism

The Terrorists of Iraq gives the reader a unique view into the Iraqi insurgency, between the years of 2003-2014. From the first shots of the Sunni insurgency against U.S. occupying forces, by loyalists of Saddam Hussein, to the 2014 self-declaration of a caliphate by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, (aka ISIS).

I purchased this book to gain insight from an intelligence insider, and I wasn’t disappointed. Author Malcolm Nance describes situations clearly, with a highly detailed timeline, making this textbook a page turner. His enthusiasm for the analysis of terror groups is infectious, not to mention educational.

I have extensively researched and read into the war in Iraq, and I knew a lot about the subject matter going into The Terrorists of Iraq. However, I came out with an even deeper understanding of all the details, that are left out of the news, thanks to Author Malcolm Nance.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know the true story about this delicate subject matter.

I would like to thank my wife, April, for allowing me to use her forum to express my thoughts on The Terrorists of Iraq.

Purchase

Amazon, USA

About The Author

Malcolm Wrightson Nance (born 1961 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an African-American career intelligence officer, combat veteran, author, scholar and media commentator on international terrorism, intelligence, insurgency and torture. He is an internationally recognized expert in the history, personalities and organization of al Qaeda and its affiliates including the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant ISIL; jihadi radicalization, Islamic extremism in Middle East, Southwest Asian and African terror groups, as well as counterinsurgency and asymmetric warfare. Malcolm Nance practices in the fields of national security policy particularly in anti- and counter-terrorism intelligence, terrorist strategy and tactics, torture and counter-ideology in combatting radical Islamic extremism. Nance is considered a fierce champion of ethics, human rights and human factors integration in intelligence practice and national security policy. In 2014 he became the executive director of the counter-ideology think tank the Terror Asymmetrics Project on Strategy, Tactics and Radical Ideologies (TAPSTRI) in Hudson, New York.–Wikipedia

AWRW Book Review: Strawberry and Sage, by Author Amanda Gale @AmandaGaleBooks

25936553A historical romance novella for readers of the Meredith series and new readers alike.

Gabriel Kelly is a hard-working young carpenter carrying the weight of responsibility on his back. With his father injured on the job and his brother fighting in Vietnam, Gabriel struggles to stay positive. And with the possibility of being drafted looming over him, he can focus only on things that matter, like visiting the mountain, where he regains clarity, and cherishing his time with Abigail, the childhood friend with whom he’s always been in love.

Abigail Wheeler is a bright, ambitious college student who just knows she can change the world. Determined to make good use of opportunities her mother never had, she spends her time campaigning for women’s rights and planning for her future. Her own experiences have taught her that the world is full of promise. So when Gabriel confesses his heart, she is torn, unsure whether they’d be compatible even though she secretly loves him too.

In a tumultuous time when change is the only constant, Gabriel and Abigail long to find meaning and to find themselves. As their friendship is tested by wars both inside and out, they discover that the differences that had kept them apart are actually why they need each other most.

Set in 1967 in the lush mountains of Vermont, Strawberry and Sage is a tale of friendship, love, and the perfect strawberry pie.

Kindle Edition, 106 pages
Published July 15th 2015 by Brenda & Cobena Books
Genre: Historical Romance, Women’s Fiction, New Adult

What’s It About?

Abigail Wheeler and Gabriel Kelly have always been friends. From when they were eight years old, slaying imaginary dragons in her grandmother’s strawberry patch, to branching out into adulthood, with Gabriel taking over his father’s carpentry business, and Abigail taking college courses and participating in sit-ins to protest the war.

Times have changed, but one thing has stayed the same; their feelings for one another.

(Warning: Contains Spoilers, But Doesn’t Give Away The Ending.)

He tells her rather abruptly that he loves her and wants to marry her, but only if she wins the town’s pie making contest. Abigail, being a modern woman, isn’t sure if she should be flattered or offended by this proposal. Gabriel can’t believe the words that came out of his mouth, and hopes he hasn’t ruined what they have between them, for good!

Abigail mulls her decision over, while perfecting the perfect strawberry pie recipe. This leads to a conclusion which is VERY Abigail. :)

Strawberry and Sage is a spin-off novella of The Meredith Series, which focuses on Nick Kelly’s parents and their relationship.

My Thoughts

I can’t get this goofy, sappy grin off my face!

Strawberry and Sage was an absolute feel-good read, that had me smiling from page one till the end. I devoured it one sitting, (much like I’d like to do to Abigail’s strawberry pie!). I enjoyed reading Abigail and Gabriel’s story, and I feel like I know them even better now, than I did from reading The Meredith Series. I am so glad that Author Amanda Gale gave them their own story!

I loved the ending! Like I mentioned above, it was VERY Abigail. :) It made me LAUGH OUT LOUD! I wasn’t expecting that conclusion, but was overjoyed that it happened that way.

Author Amanda Gale has a knack for world building. Upon page one, I was transported to Grandma Wheeler’s strawberry field, and was charmed by young Abigail and Gabriel, and as time progressed, I felt myself growing with them, and adapting to the changed surroundings. The transition was smooth, and I never felt that there were any gaps, even though the story spanned from age 8-21, within approximately 100 pages.

I loved this story, and couldn’t possibly recommend it enough. A perfect summer read to enjoy with or without a slice of pie! (Uh oh, now I’m craving pie!)

5 stars! (Or in this case, strawberries!)

I was provided with a copy of Strawberry and Sage in exchange for a fair, thoughtful, and honest book review. This is no way swayed my rating.

Check Out What Others Had To Say About Strawberry and Sage!

“The story is fresh, the characters are likable. Their inner struggles, emotions and intents are true to life.Sheri A Wilkinson

“I picked up this book not knowing what to expect and I can’t emphasize enough how much I enjoyed reading it. The characters were lovable, but complex and perfectly flawed. I found myself loving the main characters and wanting to know even more about the supporting characters. The story was so well written that I began to engross myself in each scene, not knowing what development would be coming next.” —T. Chamberlin

“This was an easy, wonderful read. I loved the story, and having read the Meredith Series (4 books) this was an invitation to get to know, understand and love a few of the main Meredith Series characters better. And having been in college myself during the Viet Nam war years, the author’s careful attention to that era paid off. The language and emotions she portrayed through the main characters in Strawberry and Sage were spot on to what we felt and experienced during those years. Whether reading Strawberry and Sage prior to reading the Meredith Series or after, you will be caught up in characters you will come to love and who you will miss after reading that last page.” —Judy411

“I loved how the story revolved around a simple act like baking a pie, but touched on deeper subjects like the war, the draft, civil rights and women’s rights. It was a great read for a Saturday afternoon!” —Erin and Nathanial Pearson

Purchase

Amazon, USA

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About The Author

Amanda GaleA graduate of Vassar College and Boston University, Amanda Gale taught high school English before she began writing women’s fiction. The four novels of her *Meredith* series explore love, growth, and the flaws that make us human. A lover of history, classic literature, and quiet nights at home, she lives outside Philadelphia with her family.

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AWRW Book Review: English Ivy (The Late Bloomers Series Book 2), by Author Betsy Talbot @BetsyTalbot #Romance #Over40 #LateBloomers

“Finally, contemporary romance for women over forty!”

Afteenglishivyr a solid career as an economist working at the US Embassy in London, forty-two-year-old American Ivy Cross is ready to jump to the bigger paycheck of the private sector and finally make time for a relationship.

Madrid-based tech superstar Ruben Alegre both infuriates and intoxicates her, and if he only lived closer she’d consider risking her heart.

When the opportunity for an incredible new job in Berlin arrives in the form of sexy Christof Brandt, she wonders if the offer is too good to be true. Her Late Bloomer friends are split down the middle, offering support but no clear decision.

Will she find a future with Ruben? Start a new life in hip and gritty Berlin?

There are no easy answers, but Ivy can’t deny that her life is about to change in a very big way.

“If forty is the new twenty, then these women are just getting started.” -On the Late Bloomers Series.

Expected publication: August 15th 2015 by ES Scott Publishing

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction

What’s It About?

“The formerly adventurous Ivy Cross, breaker of rules and hearts, had crossed the threshold of middle age and lost her spark. She was on a mission to get it back.”

Ivy, a Senior U.S. Embassy employee, has fantasies about leaving her job, and starting all over again. Full of love for her closest friends who have made big changes themselves, she wants success for herself, too.

Her love life is also in a rut, but this is partly her own fault. Sharing her body and experiences with a man is one thing, but she refuses to share her heart and dreams. She tied up her goals and adventures in life with a man before, and that ended in disaster. She vowed to herself, never again.

Ruben delights Ivy as much as he aggravates her. She agrees to a date with him, but it doesn’t go as expected… Later she is offered a job by his competitor, but it seems to good to be true. She also learns about a promotion at her U.S. Embassy job that she is eligible for. Ivy has a lot of options, but is unsure of what direction to take.

With the help of her late bloomer girlfriends, Ivy makes a decision that changes her life. But was the offer presented to her in good faith?

English Ivy is a story about major life changes, vulnerability, love, self-discovery, and having an amazing support system of girlfriends around you to help you along the way. –Whether to share a glass of wine, or tell you like it is. :)

My Thoughts

I enjoyed the twist with this contemporary romance, with having the heroine a middle aged woman, settled into her career, as opposed to the new-adult heroine, just starting out, who is usually featured in a romance story. It completely changed the feel of this story, in a very powerful way. It’s hard to compare this story to others in this genre, making The Late Bloomers Series, very unique. I can’t tell you how refreshing that is.

I absolutely loved Ivy. In this story we watch the amazing transformation in life, love, and career of this fiery red-head, never sacrificing one for the other. She makes bold moves that other women could only WISH to make, making her a character who a reader can enjoy living vicariously through.

Overall, I enjoyed English Ivy very much, and would love to read more of The Late Bloomers Series. 5 stars!

***I received a complimentary e-copy of this novel in exchange for a honest, fair, and thoughtful book review. This is no way swayed my rating.

Recommendation

I would recommend English Ivy to fans of contemporary romance, with a mature heroine. There is also a women’s fiction vibe to The Late Bloomers Series, so if you enjoy women’s fiction, check this series out!

Purchase


Amazon, USA
(PRE-ORDER: This book will be automatically delivered to your Kindle on August 15, 2015.)

About The Author

Betsy TalbotBetsy Talbot is a forty-something traveler and author. When she’s not traveling or penning books about love, adventure, and self-discovery, she is hiking, learning flamenco dancing, and drinking wine in a tiny whitewashed village in Spain.

Her latest project is The Late Bloomers Series, a five-book romance series about women in their forties. Because women with experience make the best characters…in life and on the page.

Read a free short story starring all five Late Bloomer characters when you join the Late Bloomers group at http://www.BetsyTalbot.com. New York City, New Year’s Eve, and five life-long friends on the verge of change. Which one will make the first leap into the unknown?

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AWRW Book Review: Goody One Shoe, by Author Julie Frayn @JulieFrayn

25636631Eleven-year-old Billie Fullalove witnesses the murder of her parents at the hands of a gun-wielding thug. In the melee, Billie loses a leg. But her Batmanesque beginnings don’t turn her into a superhero. Yet.

Billie survives her lonely childhood and settles into a solitary life, pursuing her dream of being an editor in a top publishing house. Unable to avenge her parent’s unsolved murder, she is accosted by news stories of bad guys going free thanks to an inept court system. She wields her red pen and edits the newspaper to fight evil forces, right wrongs, and bring justice to victims.

When her edits come true, and criminals start dying, Billie must discover the vigilante’s identity before they act out more of her revenge fantasies.

Kindle Edition: 261 pages

Published: May 24th, 2015

Genre: Psychological Suspense

What’s It About?

“Maybe it was fate. Kismet. God’s will. Maybe she was God’s red pen, fixing what the living world couldn’t get right. What he wasn’t able to do without the assistance of human hands. An eye for an eye, that’s what He said. Maybe she’d been wrong. Maybe God was in the revenge business. And maybe she was His eyes and ears on the ground. Or at the very least, His willing scribe.”

Billie works for a publishing house as a proofreader, but being an editor is a dream of hers. As a matter of fact, editing takes up most of her life; constantly wielding an imaginary red pen to draw on people’s faces and add speech bubbles, editing manuscripts she should only be proofreading, and editing newspaper stories to give them a better ending, and bring justice to the victims.

Twenty years ago, Billie witnessed her parents death, and lost part of her leg in a vicious attack. She wears a prosthesis and was mercilessly picked on as a young girl. School ground bullying transforms into office bullying… Billie wants to be rescued from her life.

Then she meets Bruce, a man who accepts her and her “stump” leg, and allows her to set the pace of their relationship. For the first time since her father died, she feels safe.

But then she finds herself waking up in strange places, wearing her father’s clothing, with no recollection of what happened. Her newspaper edits become reality… Could Bruce be behind the righting of the wrongs? Or even more frightening, could she be behind it?

“One shoe planted in good girl ground… but the other foot dangled over the pier and dipped into the evil pool.”

Goody One Shoe is a story about a vigilante superhero, righting the wrongs by ensuring victims get the justice that they deserve. “An eye for an eye.”

My Thoughts

With one heck of an introduction, I was IMMEDIATELY drawn into Goody One Shoe, eager to turn the page to learn how Billie found herself in the introductory situation. This novel has “suspense” stamped all over it!

Let’s talk about the protagonist: I fell in love with Billie, and felt angry at the people who teased her. I loved how she wielded an imaginary red pen, and drew pretend rat whiskers on their faces, knives in their backs, etc. It was a hilarious coping mechanism of hers to deal with the bullies, both young and old.

I particularly enjoyed the flash-back to her high school graduation, and her valedictory address. Let’s just say it was less than encouraging. ;)

I don’t think I took so much as one breath during the final confrontation, (which takes the reader back to the intro). In the beginning, and as the story progressed, I imagined it being several different people on that dock. I was glad that justice was served!

Author Julie Frayn made the “bad guys” of the story, completely and utterly despicable, and they didn’t get a shred of sympathy from me. I wonder how she was able to get into the heads of these vile people: the pedophiles, the baby murderers, and the rapists? As I was reading their stories, they came to life for me, just as much as Billie did. I think it is amazing how the author can create such diverse characters, and represent each one accurately and with dimension. She deserves a standing ovation for the character development of her secondary characters.

Another strength of this novel is the world building. Although, I could have done without the graphic descriptions of the smells of the subway and the docks. :) I actually scrunched my nose, as if I was there! HELP!

I would recommend this novel to people who enjoy suspenseful stories about righteous revenge, with humor and heart. I’d like to thank Author Julie Frayn for providing me with a complimentary copy for review. :)


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About The Author

“Bean counter by day, Julie Frayn spends her off hours (emphasis on “off”) reveling in the written word. She pens award-winning novels and short stories that pack a punch. And a few stabs. When not working or writing, Julie spend as much time as possible with her babies. Well, they’re grown adults now, but they still think she’s cool. Right kids? Right? Hello?”–Goodreads Author Bio

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AWRW Book Review: Perfect Girl, by Author Michele Gorman @MicheleGormanUK

“Cinderella meets Falling Down in this wickedly funny tale about having it all.”

Carol is perfect… at least that’s what everyone thinks. In reality she’s sinking fast – her family treats her like their personal assistant and her boyfriend is so busy with work that he’s got her single-handedly running their relationship. Not that her job is any easier. As the only woman on the bank’s trading floor she spends twelve-hour days trying not to get sworn at or felt up by colleagues who put the “W” in banker.

How long can she go on pleasing everyone else before she snaps and loses it all?

With humor and empathy, Perfect Girl lays bare the balancing act that working women face in a man’s world.

Page Count: 326 (ARC Version)
Published October 14th 2014 by Notting Hill Press
Genre: Romantic Comedy, Women’s Fiction, Romance

What’s It About?

Carol is perfect; perfect in everyone else’s eyes, except her own. Everyone expects a piece of her, and yet there are no more pieces to give. As a matter of fact, Carol is stretched so thin, she feels she is no longer “Carol shaped”.

Her mother expects her to find the perfect getaway for herself and Carol’s Dad, her sister expects her to plan the wedding of the century for her, (complete with silk hair flowers), her boyfriend is too busy for her, her best friend expects her to go on surrogate blind dates for her, and her sexist/demeaning boss won’t give her any credit for her accomplishments. Carol is close to falling apart….

Perfect Girl is a British-English romantic comedy about a woman who learns to stand up for herself, and that it is ok to not be “perfect”.

My Thoughts

***I would like to thank Notting Hill Press for providing me with an advanced release copy of Perfect Girl for review.***

For starters, I find British English so charming. I was enchanted by Author Michele Gorman’s characters, and the setting of Perfect Girl. Michele Gorman has a talent for world building, and I have yet to read a book by her that I haven’t loved.

In Perfect Girl, the reader gets to witness the lead protagonist, who was once a bit of a pushover, develop a backbone, and tell everyone off. You can’t help but think, “YOU GO GIRL!” :) I love a “feel good” book where you root for the main character, throughout.

My favorite scene was when Carol was on a surrogate date for Harriet, and her date asked her if she uses rohypnol for fun. Yes, rohypnol, the date rape drug! What in the WHAT??!!!!! *Nearly died of laughter!* The parade of men she dates after this one are just as “charming”. Believe it or not, it gets worse before it gets better, and I enjoyed every hilarious second of these dates. :)

I highly recommend this novel to lovers of chick lit/rom-coms with relatable situations and characters!

Purchase

Amazon, USA

Amazon, UK

FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

About The Author

Michele Gorman“I write romantic comedy, including SINGLE IN THE CITY (the first in The Expat Diaries series) and BELLA SUMMER TAKES A CHANCE. Born and raised in the US, I lost my heart to London 16 years ago, where I’ve lived ever since. I’ve also turned my hand to upmarket commercial fiction under the pen name Jamie Scott.–Goodreads Author Bio

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Ten Things You Never Knew About Author Rosie Millard: Guest Post & New Release Of The Square #BookBlast @RosieMillard @Legend_Press @Reid_Ramblings

25437080Looking for your next summer read? Check out this new release, The Square, by Author Rosie Millard!

“A comic romp featuring the bored, overprivileged and vain London bourgeoisie. Full of controversy, gossip, affairs and drama, this book is a fantastic summer read.”

Jane has the ideal life: loving husband, beautiful house and delightful son. Her fashionable dinner parties are perfect – and so are her secret assignations with her neighbour’s husband, Jay.

From Tracey and her ‘New Money’ lottery winnings to eccentric artist Philip and his pornographic portraits, the residents of North London’s most privileged enclave The Square are a very satisfied bunch.

To raise money for communal fencing, the Residents’ Association decides to hold a Talent Show, produced by Jane and hosted by TV celebrity Alan Makin. But when the show lurches into public disarray, reputations are shattered and everyone has to learn to live with a far less glossy reality than before.

Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 1st 2015 by Legend Press

Genre: General Fiction

Purchase, Amazon USA

Rosie Millard is a journalist, writer and broadcaster. She was the BBC Arts Correspondent for ten years, since then she has been a profile writer at The Sunday Times, columnist for The Independent, arts editor of The New Statesman, theatre critic and feature writer.She makes TV and radio documentaries and appears as a commentator for a number of national TV shows. She is Chair of Hull City of Culture 2017.

Rosie has also written The Tastemakers, an exploration of the British contemporary art scene, and Bonnes Vacances!, a comic memoir about taking her family around the French Overseas Departments.

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Ten Things You Never Knew About Author Rosie Millard

1.) She wrote The Square on a Fiction writing Masterclass which she attended every Tuesday night for six months.

2.) Usually on Tuesday nights she helps with the Second South Islington Brownie pack, from which she took a six month sabbatical.

3.) Her first book The Tastemakers, about contemporary art, was written while she was hidden in a safe house after her husband received a death threat following a BBC documentary he had made about the Chelsea Headhunters.

4.) Her second book Bonnes Vacances!, about a family trip around the French empire, includes passages written by her eldest child Phoebe, then 12 and her third child Honey Bee, then 6.

5.) Her fourth and youngest child Lucien Beau Buddy only eats pizza and Weetabix, because she forgot to wean him properly.

6.) Rosie has owned two houses on the London square where she lives. She bought them both at auction, five years apart, while wearing the same pair of ‘lucky’ knickers.

7.) Rosie was once mugged in the square for her phone and beat off her assailant by holding onto his jacket and yelling into his face. He dropped the phone.

8.) She has run a marathon along the Great Wall of China.

9.) While playing the piano in public last year on a Steinway she was overwhelmed by nerves and had to start the piece again.

10.) While Arts Correspondent for the BBC she once broadcast live on Radio 4’s Today programme without any clothes on.

Ok, I don’t know about you, but I am super curious about Ms. Rosie Millard broadcasting live on Radio 4 without any clothes on…. Whaaaatttttt????!!!!!!! :)

Thank you for reading, and don’t forget to grab your copy of The Square, now available!

***AWRW Book Review to Follow***


New Release: Mistress of Purity, by Author Faye Hall #BookBlast @RedSagePublish @FayeHall79

Mistress Of Purity

Prue had seen something the night her father was murdered, something that would forever change her life…

She had seen something that would continue to haunt her and follow her wherever she went.

When she had married the Earl of Malloy, Prue had hoped to be able to hide under his name and at his out of town estate.

What she had not thought was to become his son’s MISTRESS OF PURITY.

Gareth had sworn never to return to his father’s estate, not to the life he had once thought to have there.

He had hoped that the man he had grown in to was no longer hoping to find the love of a woman he knew could not possibly exist.

What Gareth had not wanted was to find his comfort in the arms of his father’s young wife… a woman he knew was hiding far more than just one secret from him…

<iframe width=”854″ height=”510″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/Tox4Rs3n6t0&#8243; frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

Genre: Historical, Erotic Romance, Australian, Mystery

About The Author

Faye Hall is a published author of Historical Erotic Romance novels & e-books. Though her early published works include poetry, newspaper articles, and online local events reports, her passion has always been with her romantic tales set in late 19th Century Australia. Upon being contracted with Red Sage Publishing, her dream of being a published author became a reality.

Faye finds inspiration in the world around her and bases most of her characters on people she has met in her life.

After a whirl-wind romance, Faye married her childhood sweetheart early 2013. She currently lives in Queensland, Australia with her husband and their 9 children.
Purchase (Available August 1, 2015)

http://www.eredsage.com/store/FAYE_HALL.html

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Getting to Know Meredith: An AWRW Character Interview @AmandaGaleBooks

Meredith_facebookcover
***The four novels of the *Meredith* series explore love, growth, and the flaws that make us human. The following is my character interview with the protagonist of the Meredith Series, Meredith herself, answered by Author Amanda Gale.***

Hi Merry! Wait, is it ok if I call you Merry?

I’d like that! Only truly special friends get to call me Merry. :) Given how well you know me by now, I think we are definitely on a nickname basis. Thank you for asking.

Oh, certainly! I do feel that I know you pretty well, and I appreciate you agreeing to answer some of my questions. :)

Merry, by day you are a dedicated English teacher. How do you spend your nights?

Well, this is an interesting question! I’m glad you’re asking me now. If you had asked me this same question earlier this year, my answer would be very different. I spent most of my time alone before, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing! But I was alone because I was sad and afraid. After I lost Adam, I didn’t find much to enjoy anymore. Now, I have my brother and a very special friend to keep me company. I hadn’t seen my brother in many years, so I am thrilled to have the chance to spend so much time with him. His friend Nick and I have grown quite close. Our time together is comfortable and cozy. :) When we’re alone, we tend to go for walks or stay warm at home, where we can talk. When my gregarious brother is with us, however, we never know where we’ll end up!

Yes, that brother of yours is something else… :) and I’d like to express my sincerest condolences for the passing of your fiance, Adam. Please tell me a little about him, or a story about the two of you that makes you smile.

You are very kind. Thank you. It’s always so hard to know what to say about Adam. He was not large in stature, but in personality he was larger than life. Everybody loved Adam. He truly cared about people, and he was perceptive and wise enough to know just what to tell people to make them feel that they could do anything. His optimism was infectious. There was something special about him that cannot be explained, but if you met him, you sensed it. Oh, there are so many stories I could tell you about Adam! The little things are most vivid to me. He gladly took phone calls from students in the evenings. He used to make me special chocolate coffee every Sunday, just because he knew I loved it. That’s the kind of person he was.

Oooh, special chocolate coffee! How lovely. :) Sounds like Adam was a great guy. Thank you for sharing your memories of Adam with me.

Merry, you recently met your brother’s friend, Nick. Were your surprised that you began to have feelings for him? Did you feel guilty because you were still grieving for Adam?

I definitely was surprised that I began to have feelings for Nick! Falling in love again was the last thing I expected to do. I was so closed off, so mired by the past. It’s amazing that Nick was able to find his way through the wall. Once I did let the wall down, though, my reasons for developing feelings for him were no mystery! But I did feel guilty. There are moments when I still do. Being with someone else does at times feel like a betrayal of Adam. However, I know this is a normal feeling and that Adam would want me to be happy. I try to remind myself that I need to move forward because my heart will always grieve a little. In this sense, I feel guilty for Nick’s sake, too. It feels odd to be with someone while I am missing someone else. Somehow, though, these feelings need to coexist, and I am letting myself take my time. I go forward accepting the complexity of the situation but knowing I am on the right path. :)

That’s great, Merry. :) I’m curious about how it felt when your secret romance was revealed to your brother, Vince. Was it relieving in any way?

I was terrified that my secret would be revealed because my brother Vince has a short temper and had made clear that he didn’t want me getting involved with Nick. At the same time, I knew he couldn’t possibly understand my reasons for being with Nick and that he was simply being an overprotective big brother. I was relieved when he found out because it meant I didn’t have to hide anymore. I hated keeping secrets from him, especially since we’ve finally reconnected after all this time.

Yeah, I bet. Glad to hear it worked out for the best. What is it about Nick that makes you want to move forward with your life? What is so special about him?

Nick is special because of his gentle heart. You couldn’t find anyone kinder or more sincere. I love that he appreciates the simple things in life and that he has such respect for nature. Spending time with him, listening to his quiet voice, has made me feel happy and at peace for the first time in a year. He’s reminded me of how beautiful the world is.

Nick really did change your outlook in such a positive, beautiful way. :)

Finally, did you regret handing in your resignation letter?

Absolutely not! :) I’m sad, of course, but I am looking forward to the future. As much as I’ll miss my students, and as grateful as I am for my wonderful year with them, I can’t wait to slow down and live my life in a beautiful place that affords me so many opportunities to reconnect with nature and with myself. And of course, most of all, I’ll be with Nick, who has brought love back into my life. I’m thrilled to be on this path. I just know it’s going to be perfect!

I know it’s going to be perfect too. :) Thank you, Merry! I enjoyed chatting with you! :)

About The Meredith Series

Meredith Beck, a teacher from Philadelphia, must redefine herself after she is shaken by tragedy. The series chronicles the remaking of her life and her relationships with three men, each struggling with his own journey. Carrying her experiences with her, Meredith emerges stronger, wiser, and at peace as she discovers the beauty of an imperfect world.

Through the end of July, the Meredith Series is on sale for a bargain .99$, each!

22693081Meredith Out Of The Darkness (Book 1)

Meredith Beck is living the perfect life. She has a thriving career she loves and an apartment in New York City with the man of her dreams. But when she is devastated by tragedy, Meredith must rebuild her life in what she discovers is a shockingly less-than-perfect world.

In Book One, Meredith Out of the Darkness, Meredith stumbles through her day-to-day responsibilities without passion or hope. Her mundane routine is pleasantly interrupted when her brother introduces her to Nick Kelly, a quiet painter from a small town in Maine. Meredith is drawn to Nick’s love of nature and is comforted by his purity of heart. They begin a whirlwind romance, and as they plan their future together, she is delighted to have found peace once again, this time in a simple life far removed from the fast-paced life she’s known. But they are haunted by the past, competing with ghosts and desperate to meet unreachable expectations.

Full of colorful characters and leading the reader on an emotional journey from Philadelphia to Maine, Meredith Out of the Darkness is about two people’s awakening to a world of possibilities. But when their different visions of perfection come between them, the question remains: what is true perfection?

Women’s Fiction, Romance

247 Pages

Published July 4, 2014, by Brenda and Cobena Books

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ON SALE THROUGH THE END OF JULY!

22693099Meredith Against The Wind (Book 2)

In Meredith Out of the Darkness, Nick showed her the beauty of a simple life in which all her choices were her own. In Book Two, Meredith Against the Wind, Meredith bravely moves forward in her quest for perfection, only her vision of perfection has been forever changed.

In a Washington, DC suburb of Virginia, Meredith meets Wes Bickhart, a charismatic attorney recovering from a divorce. Wes sweeps her off her feet with his wit, charm, and chivalry, and together they enjoy a passion for intellectual banter and for each other. Meredith feels safe with Wes, who having been burned himself, is also seeking the perfect love and wants nothing more than to give her a future of comfort and security. She is tempted by the seemingly perfect life Wes offers her. But in the back of her mind, she wonders if this is what she wants anymore. And the longer she takes to decide, the more she realizes that this life might require her to sacrifice more of herself than she is willing.

In Meredith Against the Wind, Meredith is put to the test as she is forced to stand up for herself, even as she redefines who she really is. Harder now but stronger, and with new perspective, she becomes embroiled in a power struggle as she determines how much is worth surrendering for love.

Women’s Fiction, Romance

306 pages

Published July 4th, 2014 by Brenda and Cobena Books

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22693106Meredith Into The Fire (Book 3)

Ever optimistic, Meredith has never given up hope that she’d recapture perfection. However, experience has taught her how easily her world can fall apart. Having endured enough losses, in Book Three, Meredith Into the Fire, she resolves that it will never happen again.

They’ve been crossing paths for over a year. Now fate seems to throw Meredith together with Shane Thayer, an aspiring celebrity chef with an odd sense of humor and a volatile temper. Struggling to make a name for himself and to satisfy the ambitions of his overbearing parents, Shane seems a far cry from the security for which Meredith yearns. But she is tired of following the same path, and she is anxious for her search to be over. Against the advice of her friends and family, to whom it is obvious that Shane is all wrong for her, Meredith sprints toward what she convinces herself is stability. Unfortunately, her attempt to take control of her life only brings her more chaos.

With tension at her job mounting and her unstable relationship rushing toward an unknown conclusion, Meredith makes a desperate grasp for control as her life crumbles around her. As her journey culminates in a dramatic explosion, will she settle for Shane or will she find what she is truly looking for?

Women’s Fiction, Romance

218 pages

Published July 4th, 2014 by Brenda and Cobena Books

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24084853Meredith With The Waves (Book 4)

Meredith’s journey has brought her far from the buoyant, idealistic girl she was before. But she has grown wiser and more courageous with each experience, never losing her integrity, her kindness, or her spark for life. In Book Four, Meredith With the Waves, she comes to be at peace with the world and with herself as she and her husband begin their life together. Their relationship will blossom and mature as they face trials and share laughter, together finding that life’s imperfections are what make perfection after all.

In this poetic final installment of the Meredith series, Meredith learns of intense love, intense sacrifice, intense sadness, and intense joy. It is a story of birth and death, life and family, and the ways they teach us what is truly important. A poignant tale of reconciliation and the putting to rest of personal demons, it is a truly satisfying conclusion.

Women’s Fiction, Romance

259 pages

Published July 3rd, 2014 by Brenda and Cobena Books
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About The Author

A graduate of Vassar College and Boston University, Amanda Gale taught high school English before she began writing women’s fiction. The four novels of her *Meredith* series explore love, growth, and the flaws that make us human. A lover of history, classic literature, and quiet nights at home, she lives outside Philadelphia with her family.

Twitter: @AmandaGaleBooks

Website

 

 

 

AWRW Book Review and #Giveaway: Daisy’s Choice (Out Of Your Mind Series, Book 1), by Author Diane Hernandez @AZRomanceWriter

25775971Though happy and carefree by nature, Daisy Fields is in a fragile state looking for stability and friendship when she moves to Solvang, California, hoping to find a fresh start.

Instead, she finds herself in the midst of an intoxicating physical attraction to her sexy new boss, the famous reclusive artist Garret Brinkley. Daisy tries hard to resist the magnetic pull she feels toward the mercurial artist because she knows his desires are purely sexual and he isn’t capable of a romantic loving relationship, but the explosive chemistry between them is too strong to ignore.

Still, Daisy must resist, and luckily finds companionship from Garret’s dog. The German shepherd, rapidly becomes Daisy’s new best friend, offering love and comfort to the lonesome girl since Garret is incapable of either.

When another man enters Daisy’s life, she feels a spark of hope for her future, only to discover Garret’s feelings go beyond physical need. It’s a tragic turn of events that forces Daisy to choose between the two men. However, her depression has darkened her spirit and joyful disposition to such lengths that she feels her choice isn’t which man to be with, but rather, if she should be at all.

Diane Hernandez’s latest novel gives readers a glimpse at blossoming love, growing through a foundation of anxiety and despair.

The Out of Your Mind series is meant for adults over 18 and contains adult situations, including graphically described sex.

Kindle Edition, 208 pages
Published June 21st 2015 by Erotic Romance Book Cafe
Genre: Erotic Romance, Provocative
Sample Read


What’s It About?

Daisy is a woman down on her luck and starting her life over, when she meets artist extraordinare, Garret Brinkley. He hires her as his manager/personal assistant and liaison to art collectors who visit his art gallery, but it becomes clear that he wants more from Daisy.

Daisy thought working for Garret would be a dream come true; she has a beautiful home to live in, and gets to discuss art with customers. Except Garret is a tyrannical, mentally unstable boss who makes inappropriate and unprofessional sexual advances toward her, and won’t allow her to have a personal life. She doesn’t understand why the man who humiliates her daily has her paralyzed with sexual desire.

Caring for Garret is just too hard, and when she decides to move on to another love interest, Garret surprises her… Is it possible that he actually cares for Daisy?


My Thoughts

This novel reminded me a lot of The Naked Chef, by Diane Hernandez. It starts with a woman who is down on her luck, who meets a rich man who offers her a job. With the exception of that, The Naked Chef and Daisy’s Choice are nothing alike.

Garret suffers from social anxiety and has a hard time connecting with people. He doesn’t “need people”, and is incapable of love, while Daisy is the complete opposite. There were times where Garret’s actions horrified me, and I wanted to yell at my book, “Daisy, get out! Run, fast!”

(And yes, I did picture him as Aleida Diaz’s boyfriend, from Orange Is The New Black.)

The writing is excellent. Author Diane Hernandez has a talent for world building, as I felt present in the moment of the story. The author explained situations well.

My favorite character was Daisy. I just wanted to wrap her up in a big, protective hug. The author couldn’t have possibly created a more sympathetic character than Daisy Fields. -(Yes, her name is “Daisy Fields” :) ) I also liked that the POV was through her.

My favorite scene was with Daisy and the surfers, when she receives a phone call and she is drunk/stoned out of her mind. Her phone conversation cracked me up and was right on! I don’t want to give away too much, but that whole scene was my favorite from the story, and made me have second thoughts.

Towards the end I noticed Garret cracking his hard shell a little bit. I’m curious to see if Daisy is able to change him in book 2. I think that would be a wonderful change.

And the choice Daisy made? Whoa… Didn’t see that coming and I’m not sure what I think of it. I look forward to Garret’s Control, Out Of Your Mind Book 2!

5 Daises! :)

***In the interest of full disclosure, an e-copy of Daisy’s Choice, Out Of Your Mind Book 1, was provided to me in exchange for a fair, thoughtful, and honest book review.

GIVEAWAY!

Who doesn’t love a giveaway?! Enter to win an e-copy of Daisy’s Choice, and a gorgeous hand crafted key chain depicting the novel, below! Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only, and will run from 7/22 – 7/30! Good luck!

Enter, here!

daisyschoice daisy

Purchase

Daisy’s Choice is on sale for a BARGAIN .99$, now through the month of August, till book 2 is released, and is FREE on Kindle unlimited! Purchase your copy, here!

Garret’s Control is available for pre-order, and can be purchased, here! This title will be auto-delivered to your reading device on August 24th. Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read this book for free!

About Garret’s Control

Daisy’s decision to return to her home meant choosing Garret, and when he shows her physical love, she feels a connection she couldn’t imagine possible with any other man.

When Daisy proclaims her love, Garret opens up about his anxieties, but warns her that he comes with rules. Once Daisy learns his requirements for a committed relationship and the life she will have to surrender to, her depression resurfaces, and once again she feels isolated and alone. When Garret mistakes her aversion for his lifestyle for longing for Conner, he leaves the country and ends their relationship.

Garret returns to the states and their physical need for each other is undeniable. Garret’s sex helps Daisy emerge from her despair as Garret seeks help so that he can relinquish some of his control and give Daisy the life she deserves. But when Garret learns she has yet to sever her ties with Conner, Garret punishes her so severely that Daisy can no longer tolerate his dominant behavior, forcing him to once again leave the country.

With Garret gone, Daisy feels like her old self for the first time since leaving San Diego. But it doesn’t take long before she feels her depression, pulling her down even with Conner at her side. She longs for Garret’s touch, knowing it would make the dark thoughts and despair vanish, but she convinces herself that Conner is her future.

When Conner’s brother, Tristan drives a wedge between his brother and Daisy, Garret returns to save her and rekindle their love affair. However, Daisy’s depression makes that impossible.

Daisy begins to live her life independently as she fights to become well. Her mental health is her only priority and her loneliness is now her normal. When she receives a message from someone from her past, the possibility for a future with a loving family and happiness no longer seem unattainable. Years of reflection, medical care and self-analysis helps Daisy find the woman she always longed to become.

The conclusion of the Out of You Mind series will have you clutching your chest, hoping Daisy fights for her health and her happily ever after.

The Out of Your Mind series is meant for adults over 18 and contains graphic sex and adult situations.

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Identity Theft, (The Novel): Guest Post by Author Laura Lee @LauraLeeAuthor

Please give a warm welcome to Author Laura Lee, who was kind enough to stop over at A Well Read Woman Blog! The following is Laura’s guest post, where she reveals ten things you didn’t know about her novel, Identity Theft.

Identity Theft is a novel about a bored employee in the office of a rock star, who flirts with a fan online in the guise of his boss, and sets off a chain of events he cannot control.

Enjoy, and leave your thoughts below! :)


Identity Theft
follows three characters and alternates the narrative from their points of view.
pointofview

Because each main character has a different understanding of reality, it was important to tell the story at different times from each one’s point of view.

All of the main characters, except for one, go by nicknames or assumed names.

Ethan, the character who takes on someone else’s identity, is the only main character who has not changedhis name in some way. His best friend, Lloyd, goes by the nickname Ale. Ale’s girlfriend is named Alexandra but called Sasha. The rock star born Oliver Thomas goes by the stage name Blast and the main female character changed the spelling of her name from Candy to Candi when she was in high school. She also has a last name that is frequently changed from Tavris to Travis by bureaucrats who think it is a typo.

Identity Theft was structured to subvert a popular romantic comedy trope.

I have a pet peeve about those stories where a character poses that something that he or she is not and the fraud creates the possibility for two characters to fall in love. Often in these stories the person who was duped is seen as somehow lucky to be tricked.

The viewer or reader is supposed to think that the person was too shallow or closed minded to notice this other person and so by pretending to be someone else her eyes were opened and they could live happily ever after.

I wanted to tell a story that begins as if it is going to be one of those but which takes the fraud and its consequences seriously and goes off in a different direction.

Originally, I wanted to subvert it even more by giving Ethan his comeuppance in the end, but an agent advised me against this and I went with his suggestion.

The character of Ethan was inspired, in part, by disgraced reporter Stephen Glass.

Ethan is the character who sets the drama in motion by responding to a fan’s online post as if he is the rock star Blast and not a kid who works in his office.

Several years ago I saw the film Shattered Glass and there was something fascinating about Stephen Glass’s denial that he had been caught fabricating stories. His lies were so obvious and poorly constructed you couldn’t help watching and cringing as he kept doubling down on them. His own ability to convince himself he could wiggle his way out of it was as impressive as it was delusional. I wanted to create that kind of feeling for the character of Ethan.

Blast’s office is an amalgam of three real places.

I am most likely to draw from real life in the settings, rather than in the characters and plots of my novels. I like to have a visual image of where things are happening and so I tend to imagine real places I have been. Blast’s office combines a musician’s office I worked in briefly with a touring ballet company office I worked in for a few years. The musician’s office had a gold record on the wall with a spider caught under the glass and in the ballet office my desk was a door balanced over a couple of short filing cabinets.  Ollie lives above his office on the third floor of a building he owns. The musician I worked for owned a building, but I never saw the upper floors. I think they were full of storage. The upstairs apartment, which was once a dance studio, is based on a lot of upper level dance studios in old buildings that I have visited in my second career as a traveling ballet master class tour producer.

If you’re so inclined, you can play a “spot the famous name” drinking game with the book.



Identity Theft name-checks lots of famous people including John Lennon, John Hinkley, Oscar Wilde, Monica Lewinsky, Jude Law, David Bowie, Katheryn Bigelow, Steve Martin and Anthony Bourdain– to name just a few.

Both of my novels contain references to my second career producing ballet master class tours.

In my first novel, Angel (which is about to be re-released in a second edition) the character Ian once dated a ballet dancer. In Identity Theft, the rock star Ollie lives in an apartment above his office which was once used as a ballet studio and still has ballet barres and mirrors on the wall.

The novel was originally going to be set in Detroit and Chicago.

It was important to have Ollie’s office and Candi’s home be located far enough apart to be two different metro areas and yet close enough to drive in a day. Originally, I thought Candi would live in Detroit and working in the auto industry and that the rock star’s office would be in Chicago but Los Angeles has some of the strongest anti-stalking laws in the country and for that reason Candi was moved to San Diego and Ollie to Los Angeles.

Aspects of Ollie’s character were inspired by ballet dancer David Hallberg.

When I was writing Identity Theft, I went to see the ballet dancer David Hallberg speak.
Hallberg was in great demand because he had just been named the first American principal dancer with the Bolsohi Ballet in Russia which gave him a level of fame very few ballet dancers ever have. He is very soft spoken. I watched him walk out from back stage never looking up from the screen of his phone. The phone gave him a bubble of protection. He was in the room, but not accessible.

Someone said she thought it was very rude of him not to acknowledge the fans who had come to see him. It struck me that this is the way an introvert normally would walk through the world, trying not to have to interact too much with strangers. But when it is a “famous” person it is interpreted as a snub.

I have always been fascinated with the phenomenon of the shy performer– actors, dancers and musicians with great stage presence who are shy off stage. I already envisioned the rock star as quiet in real life, but having his experience while I was writing the book pushed me to really emphasize Ollie’s shyness and introversion.

There is a fossil of an unpublished novel in Identity Theft.

When I write a novel, it helps me to have a larger theme to explore and go back to. With my first novel Angel, it was the metaphor of the mountain.

In Identity Theft it is personal identity and the external forces that shape it.  You have three characters who feel, in different ways, that they are not able to be who they want to be. Ollie wants to be a family man. Candi wants to be a successful middle class professional and Ethan just wants to be respected for who he is.

As the story unfolds each loses control over the identity he is trying to maintain in one way or another. One character in particular experiences an almost total assault on the sense of self.

The first novel I ever wrote was called “The Birth of What’s Living.” The title was a reference to an Arlo Guthrie lyric: “the death of what’s dead is the birth of what’s living.” Fortunately that novel was never published because it was terrible, but the theme still resonates and I find that idea is really at the heart of this novel as well. By losing all of these false selves they have been trying to maintain, hopefully the characters come out the other side a bit more authentic and born to something new.

When a bored employee in the office of a rock star decides to flirt with a fan online in the guise of his boss, he sets off a chain of events he cannot control.

Paperback, 310 pages
Published February 8th 2015 by Elsewhere Press
Genre: Psychological Suspense, Women’s Fiction
Goodreads

AWRW Book Review of Identity Theft

Available in Kindle and Paperback, purchase here!

About The Author

Laura Lee

I am the author of more than a dozen books, the novel Angel, and numerous non-fiction titles including The Pocket Encyclopedia of Aggravation (Black Dog and Leventhal), now in its third printing and published in France under the title Le Dictionaire des Contrairites; Arlo, Alice and Anglicans (Berkshire House/W.W. Norton), which tells the story of the church made famous in Arlo Guthrie’s song and movie Alice’s Restaurant; The Name’s Familiar: Mr. Leotard, Barbie and Chef Boyardee (Pelican Publishing), a Book-of-the-Month Club alternate selection and its sequel The Name’s Familiar II; the 100 Most Dangerous Things in Life (Broadway Books/Random House), which was featured on Good Morning America and CNN’s American Morning; Blame it on the Rain (HarperCollins), The Elvis Impersonation Kit and A Child’s Introduction to Ballet (both Black Dog and Leventhal), Schadenfreude, Baby! (Lyons Press), and Broke is Beautiful (Running Press).

The San Francisco Chronicle has said of my work, “Lee’s dry, humorous tone makes her a charming companion… She has a penchant for wordplay that is irresistible.”

http://lauraleeauthor.wordpress.com/


 

AWRW Book Review: Piece By Piece, by Author Cathie Whitmore @CathieWhitmore #WomensFiction #BookReview

Eleanor’23007862s rags to riches story, begins the day she meets Robert Harding, in April 1948. Robert’s good looks do play a minor part in Eleanor’s attraction to him, but the silver spoon protruding from his mouth, most definitely clinches the deal.

From the moment Eleanor meets Robert’s mother Rose, beaming at her from the front steps of their six bedroom four bathroom mansion, bequeathed to her by her late husband Samuel, Robert’s father, she senses Rose is the type of woman, who will take her under her wing and nurture her. A kind and sincere woman, yet emotionally vulnerable, like her son, eager to lick Eleanor’s wounds and make it all better.

Eleanor’s world collapses when Robert is killed in a car accident, leaving her with four year old twin boys, a two year old girl and nothing more than a less than adequate insurance policy. Robert’s death, throws Rose into the depths of depression, leaving Eleanor to support her mother-in-law emotionally, ensuring Rose will continue to support her financially.

Like mother, like daughter…the master and the apprentice of manipulation, Celeste Harding, begins her story as a fifteen year old in 1967, mourning the loss of her beloved Grandma Rose. Eleanor, convinced she is about to inherit the family home, known as Harding House, is confident Rose being out of the picture will ultimately bring her daughter Celeste, closer. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

Kindle Edition
Published July 18th 2014 (first published June 20th 2014)

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance, Fiction

What’s It About?

Piece by Piece is a women’s fiction that follows the lives of mother Eleanor, and her carbon-copy daughter Celeste, and their paths of destruction. These women make it their life’s mission to hurt one another, when deep down, all either ever wanted was to be accepted by one another. This story spans nearly a century of secrets, love affairs, plotting, manipulation, and the lives affected by these two women.

Taylah’s Wedding Day and the Controversial Sapphire Jewelry Set ***Taken from MyWeddingAccents.Com***

My Thoughts

Let’s start with the characters: I LOVED Eleanor and Celeste, even though they were manipulative and twisted. I found myself laughing out loud at their inner thoughts, even though 90% of the time, their inner thoughts were mean and cruel. Particularly, when Aunt Lillian was drunk and had to be put to bed, I had TEARS in my eyes, I was laughing so hard!

It was daring for the Author to portray the main characters as such evil little *insert derogatory term here*, because Celeste and Eleanor would certainly turn people off. I think the added humor made the ladies a bit more human, and the DRAMA made them all the more interesting. I can’t say I would like Eleanor or Celeste in real life, but they certainly were interesting characters, albeit not at all lovable.

Piece by Piece moves FAST. In one chapter, the reader is thrown for a 34 year gap! The great, great granddaughter of Grandma Rose is born, and within the same chapter is married, 34 years later. This story does skip, but it progresses forward.

There were parts to the story that I felt frustrated with as I was reading. For instance, the POV switches off to random people, including the mother in law, of Grandma Rose’s great, great granddaughter, which seemed unnecessary at the time. However, by the time you are at the end of the story, all of the chapters with seemingly random povs MADE SENSE. You just have to wait for it…. All of the loose threads are eventually tied together.

I genuinely loved Piece by Piece, and the unraveling of these women’s lives, and how they swept problems under the rug effortlessly, using their sex appeal and charm to manipulate those around them as an art form. Eleanor and Celeste are true “mean girls”, and I enjoyed every bit of it. :)

5 stars!

***In the interest of full disclosure, I received an e-copy of Piece by Piece, in exchange for a fair, honest, and thoughtful book review.

Purchase

eBooks iTunes Author Link for my five books 

iTunes Link to Piece by Piece

Amazon Link to Piece by Piece

Kobo Link to Piece by Piece

All books have free samples available to download!


Check out what others are saying about Piece By Piece!

“A different yet enjoyable family saga. I found it intriguing, fast paced and always interesting. It is very different in style, being told first person from multiple viewpoints and at different periods, but I think it also made it more entertaining for that. It starts with mother and teenage daughter, at odds and both irritated with one another, for a variety of reasons. I think one of the points I enjoyed was that it showed the daughter, for all her lofty judgment of her mother and her behavior, became nearly identical to her. Focused on her beauty and wealth, it colors Celeste’s life, just as it made her mother’s. The title pretty much tells it all, how everyone becomes what they are, Piece by Piece through their upbringing, their social contacts, their views and values. A nice mix of personalities creating conflict and romance, sometimes interchangeably…” –Author Jerrie Brock

The tortured relationships of the women in “Piece By Piece” put me in mind of Colleen McCullough’s early novels before she wrote The Thorn Birds. This is meant as a compliment; I am a HUGE McCullough fan and have read everything she ever published. Whitmore’s characters are authentically troubled. Their life situations and the depiction of different time periods are both believable and interesting. I’ve read a lot of historical fiction and I see no anachronistic errors.
All of the women are struggling towards some kind of a resolution within themselves and towards each other. This novel is not really a romance per se; it is a cut above the less demanding language and situational conflicts ordinarily seen in a successful romance. I would classify it more as general fiction, just as I would classify ‘romances’ written by McCullough, as general fiction. There is an undeniably literary bent to this book that has nothing to do with the goals of a Harlequin Silhouette.– M.R. Storie

About The Author

I began my writing career quite by accident in 2006, after having been asked to write a children’s story for a friend here in Australia, to use in her university project. Prior to this I had no idea I had the ability to write, other than the occasional poem and greetings on blank cards. However, once I started there was no stopping me. To date I have written over twenty children’s stories and self published four in print and eBook versions, available on iTunes, Amazon and Kobo.

In 2014 I opted for something totally different, deciding to challenge my writing ability a little further with a novel for adults in the women’s fiction genre.  ‘Piece by Piece’ became a Quarter-Finalist entry in the romance genre of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards and is now available as an eBook on Amazon, iTunes and Kobo.

My motto is “Imagination Lives in Books” along with my heart and my passion for writing.

Websites

My adult writing website is www.atomadultsbooks.com.au   A three chapter sample PDF of Piece by Piece can be downloaded from this site.

My children’s book website is www.atomchildrensbooks.com.au  (Book previews available)

 

AWRW Book Review: Love Poison, by Author Pete Barber @PBFiction @RAPublishing

“Lov22538869e is a dangerous drug.”

Lab assistant and avid climber Amber Wilson is no stranger to risk. But she feels invisible around her handsome boss, Mark, until she accidentally doses him with an irresistible aphrodisiac that leaves him with a suicidal hangover. Abruptly fired, Amber and Mark partner up to research the source of the drug—a rare New Zealand mushroom—in hopes of refining it for safe use.

On their way to New Zealand to collect fungi samples, Amber is blindsided by a deep and intense romantic connection with Mark. Their new business plan is endangered by ruthless Maori mobsters who control a mushroom scheme they’re killing to protect. As the body count rises, Amber struggles to salvage her and Mark’s dreams, but when she risks her heart and acts alone, both of them could end up paying the ultimate price.

“Passion is addictive.”

Paperback, 300 pages
Published 2014 by Red Adept Publishing, LLC
Genre: Romance, Thriller, Romantic Suspense, Mystery, Action & Adventure

What’s It About?

Amber is a senior lab technician at GenFun laboratory, who is still reeling from the death of her mother, a year prior. She attends the office Christmas party, but feels uncomfortable being around so many people. She escapes the party, and in her haste, knocks over some mushroom specimens which she cleans up and hides in her purse. This action leads to a string of consequences, which impacts not only her future, but her boss, Mark’s future also.

Both are abruptly fired, but they still long to work in the laboratory. Convinced that the specimens she knocked over are a powerful aphrodisiac, Mark and Amber form a business partnership. Moving on from the past, they find their new paths.

Only problem is they are unaware of the danger lurking at the end of the path, and that the specimens they seek are controlled by Maori gangsters, known as the Tanaka, who will destroy anyone who get’s in their way…

Mark and Amber are in over their head.

“Love is a dangerous drug….”

My Thoughts

Upon starting the book, the humorous writing style of the author drew me in, and I knew I was going to enjoy Love Poison. I was laughing hysterically about Amber and her awkward antics at the Christmas party. :) She was just too funny. I fell in love with Amber’s character right away, and I was eager to read more.  I don’t think this story could have started at a better place, and I was impressed with how it all came together. One event led to another, seamlessly.

I loved the slow simmering romance between Amber and Mark. They were a couple who I rooted for. <3

Love Poison starts off in Brooklyn NY, and then to New Zealand. The Author did an excellent job with world building through vivid descriptions of the various settings. It was easy for me to escape into the world of powerful aphrodisiacs, romance, gangsters, crime, and even sex tourism! While an enjoyable read, Love Poison is hardly a “light read”. Full of drama, action, and suspense, Love Poison kept me at the edge of my seat!

I loved everything about this novel. Truly! From the characters, setting, action, mystery, adventure, and the suspense, oh the suspense! –There was nothing not to like about Love Poison. :) I highly recommend this novel to lovers of fast-paced romantic suspense!

5 Stars!


I received an e-copy of Love Poison, by Red Adept Publishing, in exchange for a fair, honest, and thoughtful book review. This is no way swayed my opinion. Thank you Lynn McNamee!



Editorial Reviews

“… lots of laughs, and some warm, tingly feelings.” Book Landers

“… a whirlwind of a story with sex taking a backseat to love, introspection and danger.” Kelly Smith Reviews

“… laced with adventure, horror, suspense, romance, and even a bit of humor.” Big Al’s Books & Pals

“… kept pulling me along, wanting to find out what happened next.” Big Al’s Books & Pals


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About The Author

Pete BarberBorn into a blue-collar family in Liverpool, England, Pete immigrated to the US in the early 90s and settled in North Carolina.

He has led a haphazard life, putting bread on the table as a plumber, computer programmer, salesperson, marketing executive, hotel operator, real-estate developer, and llama breeder.

Pete loves chickens and dogs, and writes fast-paced fiction that makes people think.

 —Goodreads Author Bio


Website

AWRW #WayBackWednesday Book Review: Superfudge by Author Judy Blume

waybackwednesdayWay Back Wednesday is a Book Meme created by A Well Read Woman with the aim to write mini book reviews on books read in the past, that left a lasting impression. You know what kind of books I am talking about… The ones that you have read multiple times, and they still bring you nostalgia. Books like these are the reason you enjoy reading.

So grab that old-dusty-yet-loved-book off the shelf, glance it over, write a mini review, and join in with me on Wednesdays! EVERYONE is welcome to participate. Full rules can be found, here!

This week I am taking it waaay back, by featuring one of my favorite children’s books from the 80’s. Please join me on this little trip down memory lane! :)

Superfudge Superfudge, by Author Judy Blume

Paperback, 192 pages
Published January 1rst, 1980
Literary Awards: Young Hoosier Book Award (1983), Texas Bluebonnet Award (1982), Books I Loved Best Yearly (BILBY) Awards for Read Alone (1990), West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award (WAYRBA) for Younger Readers (1982), Garden State Book Award (1983)

Buckeye Children’s Book Award for 4-8 (1982), Grand Canyon Reader Award (1983), Colorado Children’s Book Award (1982), Land of Enchantment Book Award (1984), Nene Award (1982), Golden Sower Award for Intermediate Category (1983), North Dakota Children’s Choice Award (1982), Flicker Tale Children’s Book Award (1987), Beehive Award for Children’s Fiction (1982), Soaring Eagle Book Award (1989), Sunshine State Young Readers Award (1984),Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Reader’s Choice Award (1983), Iowa Children’s Choice Award (1983), New Mexico Land of Enchantment Award (1984), Virginia Readers’ Choice Award for Elementary (1985), California Young Readers Medal for Intermediate (1983)

“Fans young and old will laugh out loud at the irrepressible wit of Peter Hatcher, the hilarious antics of mischievous Fudge, and the unbreakable confidence of know-it-all Sheila Tubman in Judy Blume’s five Fudge books. Brand-new covers adorn these perennial favorites, and will entice a whole new generation of Fudge—and Judy Blume—fans.”

My second grade teacher set aside time everyday to read us Superfudge. I can remember sitting cross-legged on the floor, with the rest of the kids, as she read from the pages of this book.

Superfudge is an adorable tale about a little boy named Peter, who is concerned that the baby-to-be, will be a carbon copy of his obnoxious, mischievous little brother, Fudge.

Meanwhile, Fudge is upset, because he enjoys being the baby of the family. The addition of his little sister is really cramping Fudge’s style! BTW, the little sister’s name is Tootsie. :)

Later when I read this book on my own, I found some passages that my second grade teacher must have skipped over. There was a lot of name calling, and the subject of Santa Claus came up… So, DO NOT allow your child to read this book if they aren’t aware that Santa Claus isn’t real!!

Overall, I would classify Superfudge as a humorous Middle Grade novel, that is well deserving of 5 stars. :)

Purchase, here!

About The Author

Judy BlumeJudy Blume spent her childhood in Elizabeth, New Jersey, making up stories inside her head. She has spent her adult years in many places doing the same thing, only now she writes her stories down on paper. Adults as well as children will recognize such Blume titles as: Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret; Blubber; Just as Long as We’re Together; and the five book series about the irrepressible Fudge. She has also written three novels for adults, Summer Sisters; Smart Women; and Wifey, all of them New York Times bestsellers. More than 80 million copies of her books have been sold, and her work has been translated into thirty-one languages. She receives thousands of letters a year from readers of all ages who share their feelings and concerns with her.
Judy received a B.S. in education from New York University in 1961, which named her a Distinguished Alumna in 1996, the same year the American Library Association honored her with the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement. Other recognitions include the Library of Congress Living Legends Award and the 2004 National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
She is the founder and trustee of The Kids Fund, a charitable and educational foundation. She serves on the boards of the Author’s Guild; the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators; the Key West Literary Seminar; and the National Coalition Against Censorship.
Judy is a longtime advocate of intellectual freedom. Finding herself at the center of an organized book banning campaign in the 1980’s she began to reach out to other writers, as well as teachers and librarians, who were under fire. Since then, she has worked tirelessly with the National Coalition Against Censorship to protect the freedom to read. She is the editor of Places I Never Meant To Be, Original Stories by Censored Writers.
Judy has completed a series of four chapter books — The Pain & the Great One — illustrated by New Yorker cartoonist James Stevenson. She has co-written and produced a film adaptation of her book Tiger Eyes, and is currently writing a new novel.
Judy and her husband George Cooper live on islands up and down the east coast. They have three grown children and one grandchild.
Goodreads Author Bio

AWRW Book Review: Found In Us (Lost Series #2), by Author Layla Hagen @LaylaHagen

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Click to visit Goodreads Page for Found In Us

All Jessica wants is to be a good girl. She landed the job of her dreams at a museum and is trying to eliminate temptations. No more short skirts (when she can help it). No wild parties. And no men.

She particularly excels at that last thing. . .

Until her path crosses Parker’s. Again. Jessica remembers the last time their paths crossed very well. She was left with a seriously bruised ego. She knows it would be best to avoid him altogether. But the charming Brit makes it hard for her to elude his electrifying pull. He is as irresistible as he is captivating.

And enigmatic.

Because underneath the sleek Armani suit and the sweet British accent that makes her crave his touch, Parker isn’t the perfect gentleman everyone thinks he is.

He’s exactly what Jessica doesn’t want, but desperately needs.
A bad, bad boy.

**This can be read as a STANDALONE. The second book in the Lost series tells Jessica and Parker’s story.**

Published: July 24, 2014

Genre: Erotic Romance, New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Erotica, Drama

Page Count: 242

Chris Hemsworth

Why, hello Parker….

Jessica’s hip butterfly tattoo. From http://www.tattoostime.com

Series: Lost Series Book #2

What’s It About?

Found In Us of the Lost Series, is Jessica and Parker’s story. Jessica and Parker have crossed paths before, but things didn’t go so well. Again, they meet and Jessica is a bit reserved, remembering the scathing rejection from last time.

Still, he is hard to resist with his British accent. long blonde hair, and well-tailored Armani suit…

Jessica is a bundle of chaos that Parker needed to avoid at all costs. He has worked hard to get his life under control, and being with a girl like Jessica would leave him vulnerable.

Still, she has become an obsession of his….

When Parker’s cousin/Jessica’s flatmate gets into trouble, both Jessica and Parker put aside their differences and rush to her rescue. Secrets are out, souls are bared, but will they find their redemption in one another?

“In those moments before the passion overtook us, there was something between us. A spark I can’t define. But though I can’t define it, I know it has the power to burn me up with more fury then even the consuming passion between us can.”

My Thoughts

Ok, so immediately upon delving into Found In Us, I’m met with this:


Which of course I loved, so I’m drawn in off the bat! This was my favorite book of the Lost series. mostly because of Jessica.

I liked Jessica’s character for so many reasons. She was a girly-girl, all nails and makeup, and had a job at a museum with a crappy boss that made his employees cry, but not her! I loved her strength. Although, with a father like she had, I’m sure she had heard worse than what her boss had to dish out.

With Parker, she wanted the fairy tale ending that she never before believed in. He softened her, and she went from bad girl to good girl. I also liked that she enjoyed going to Hyde Park to feed squirrels, because that is an activity I also enjoy, (feeding wildlife). She was a relatable character who I liked a lot.

I liked Parker equally as much as Jessica, because as he “tamed” her, (and I mean that in the least sexist way possible), she let him lose control, which he needed. They complimented one another in the best way possible, Opposites really do attract!

Found In Us is an erotic romance that features outdoor/public sex, (also known as “dogging”), and lots of sexy dirty talk. 
I enjoyed the erotic scenes, and felt that they were well written, and integral to the story which centered around them opening up to one another in every way possible; mind, body, and soul.

My favorite line: “I will always choose her.” —Parker about Jessica.

Overall, 4/5 stars!

In the interest of full disclosure, I received an e-copy of Found In Us, by the Author, in exchange for a thoughtful, honest, and fair book review. This is no way influenced my opinions/rating.

Purchase

Amazon, USA

About The Author

Layla HagenI fell in love with books when I was nine years old, and my love affair with stories continues even now, many years later. I write romantic stories and can’t wait to share them with the world. And I drink coffee. Lots of it :-D

SIGN UP FOR MY MAILING LIST and find out about future books as soon as they are released! (just copy and paste this link in your browser to sign up):

http://laylahagen.com/mailing-list-sign-up/

I am represented by Louise Fury (The Bent Agency

Amazon Author Bio

SALE Alert! The Meredith Series, by Author Amanda Gale @AmandaGaleBooks #WomensFiction #Romance #Sale

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To celebrate the one year anniversary of the publication of the Meredith Series, through July, the Meredith Series is on sale, at a bargain .99$ each on Kindle and Nook!!!

About The Meredith Series:

Meredith Beck, a teacher from Philadelphia, must redefine herself after she is shaken by tragedy. The series chronicles the remaking of her life and her relationships with three men, each struggling with his own journey. Carrying her experiences with her, Meredith emerges stronger, wiser, and at peace as she discovers the beauty of an imperfect world.

I personally recommend these novels to fans of women’s fiction and romance! Check out my SPOILER FREE reviews:

Meredith Out Of The Darkness Book Review

Meredith Against The Wind Book Review

Meredith Into The Fire Book Review

Meredith With The Waves Book Review

Check Out What Others Are Saying About The Meredith Series!

“Loved being introduced to her and looking forward to getting to know her better in the later books. Quick and fun read that makes you want to binge through all the books.” —Chana on the Meredith Series

“I loved reading this book… I’m very excited to continue reading the four book series of Meredith’s journey to find herself again and find love again. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy reading romantic love stories with characters who have sad backstories.” —Danielle Olson of Stories Unfolded, on The Meredith Series

“Well written, we watch Meredith on an emotional journey struggling with her past, trying to accept her new life and new man. Meredith is very likable, her problems are believable. Her relationship with her brother adds more to her already complicated life.  An enjoyable (emotional) story, with likable characters that left me wanting to know more. I look forward to reading more of Meredith’s life in book two.” —Sheri on Meredith Out Of The Darkness, Book 1

“I really enjoyed this book of the Meredith series. Amanda Gale did a wonderful job of depicting clearly what it feels like to be in conflict over a relationship with the story of Wes and Meredith. A friend mentioned to me once that “every important relationship involves a certain amount of pain.” The difficulty, in my opinion, is figuring out how much pain to tolerate and what to do about it. Meredith’s uncertainty over Wes (the weighing in her mind of whether or not he was a good match for her) felt very real to me. I think this is a story that many readers could relate to.” —Constance Ford, on Meredith Against The Wind, Book 2

“Meredith is such a relatable character and again you will feel like you are going through this journey with a friend. The changes that Merry seeks are realistic and evoke true emotion in the reader.” —Melshaw on Meredith Into The Fire, Book 3

“Amanda Gale does it again! She brings the reader on a ride of discovery. Meredith continues to search and discover who she is through her relationships with others and with herself. Another great read!” —NolaMom on Meredith Into The Fire, Book 3

“The fourth book is the perfect end to the series. Books 1-3 are great, but book 4 makes reading them even more worth it. Meredith uses the lessons she’s learned to find the life she’s been searching for, and when you’ve been following her through her journey, it’s nice to see her find herself. All the characters are so real, and you think about them even after you put the book down. This four part book series is the perfect summer read you won’t be able to put down.” —JCal on Meredith With The Waves, Book 4

Purchase Links

Meredith Out Of The Darkness (Book 1) Amazon, USA, Amazon, UKBarnes & Noble

Meredith Against The Wind (Book 2) Amazon, USA, Amazon, UKBarnes & Noble

Meredith Into The Fire (Book 3) Amazon, USA, Amazon, UKBarnes & Noble

Meredith With The Waves (Book 4) Amazon, USA, Amazon, UKBarnes & Noble

About The Author

Amanda GaleA graduate of Vassar College and Boston University, Amanda Gale taught high school English before she began writing women’s fiction. The four novels of her *Meredith* series explore love, growth, and the flaws that make us human.

A lover of history, classic literature, and quiet nights at home, she lives outside Philadelphia with her family. A graduate of Vassar College and Boston University, Amanda Gale taught high school English before she began writing women’s fiction.

The four novels of her *Meredith* series explore love, growth, and the flaws that make us human.

AWRW Book Review: A Time To Reap, by Author Jonas Lee @AuthorJonasLee

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Click to visit on Goodreads

Pemberton Academy is not just a school, it’s a gathering place for the children of the future that are afflicted with Temporal Displacement and Telepathy; in short, time travelers and mind readers who have been diagnosed with this “disease.” The Academy is not all as it seems after an explosion nearly takes one of its classmates, but not before Carter Gabel rescues her by using an unknown symptom related to his described illness. An unsanctioned group called the Program begins taking notice as the two classmates exhibit stronger abilities when they are together. Carter’s sense of reality begins to unwind as he learns more about his estranged father’s involvement with it all.

Carter will have to overcome the past of his father leaving, the present of an unknown adversary hunting him down and a future that seems to change with each decision he makes. He will have to learn who to trust out of the people in his life if he wants to conquer the looming notion that the government may be hunting him down because of his developing abilities.

Page Count, 250 pages
Published July 2014 by Createspace
Genre: Supernatural, Sci-Fi, Young Adult, Time Travel

Series


What’s It About?

“The future is not carved in stone, not for me at least.”

Carter Gabel is a young man who has chronologically displaced person syndrome, or cdps, a medical phenomenon of the future. He is a time traveler who experiences sudden departures, usually arriving at his destination stark naked…

He is also a student at Pemberton Academy, a school with students who can time-travel, and read minds. At this school, he meets Mo, a young woman who can read his thoughts. This presents a problem because he is falling for Mo!

Together, Carter and Mo amplify each others abilities. A terrorist group known as the Program takes notice… Are the students nothing more than lab rats for the Program?

Carter has to avoid capture, say goodbye to his “normal” life and prepare to be on the run with Mo before the Program gets them. What follows is a wild series of events in this supernatural drama, involving explosions, reuniting with family, love, and loss.

My Thoughts

I enjoyed this sci-fi supernatural tale of time travel and young adult romance, written from the perspective of Carter Gabel. Cartel Gabel is a lovable, and HILARIOUS character. (He even has his own online presence on Twitter in real life!) Carter made me laugh with all his witty comments! :) I was glad the POV was through him.

Another equally lovable character, Mo, I just couldn’t get enough of! She was Carter’s “ride or die chick”!

The story itself featuring time travel, telepathy, mind control, and other supernatural elements, kept me interested throughout. Sci-fi isn’t my thing, I prefer women’s fiction, but I found it fascinating how he was able to travel through time and visit his family at different periods in THEIR time. He was even mistaken for his father when he wound up at the academy, years prior to current time. –I found that pretty neat!

The ending wasn’t at all predictable. It hits you all at once and you are left to say, whoa…. Carter Gabel is certainly a “legend”.

4 stars! 

Purchase

Amazon, USA
Amazon, UK

In the interest of full disclosure, I was given an e-copy of this novel, in exchange for a fair, thoughtful, and most importantly, a HONEST book review.

About The Author

Jonas     LeeWriting out of the Black Hills of South Dakota, Jonas likes coming up with new and creative worlds that speak to the plausible while remaining believable. With a fist-full of peanut M&Ms and a cup of coffee, he has written two novels about a snarky, supernatural teen able to time travel and more.

Beyond writing, Jonas has a gift for useless knowledge through watching trivia shows and a love for cinematic adventures. Music fuels his writing and you can see him actively on Spotify almost everyday.

Oh, and let’s not forget video games…he likes those too much, if there is such a thing.

Goodreads Bio

New Release: The Lives Between Us, by Author Theresa Rizzo #BookBlast @Theresa_Rizzo

The Lives Between Us
TheresaRizzo_TheLivesBetweenUs800 (1)

The Lives Between Us is about family and love. It’s about desperate people doing what they need to, to save the ones they love.

Grief-stricken reporter, Skylar Kendall, plots revenge on Michigan Sen. Hastings who opposed life-saving stem cell research and therapy. She gains access to Hastings, learning secrets that would launch her career and satisfy her need for retribution… Only, she hadn’t counted on falling in love.

Can she avenge the lives lost to politics at the expense of her new love and friends?


 How far would you go to save the one you love?

Reporter Skylar Kendall has run from commitment all her life, pushing people away before they leave her, until her niece worms her way into Skye’s heart and settles in tight. Skye relaxes into a career she enjoys and relishes being a doting aunt.

Then her niece becomes gravely ill. Unable to bear yet another loss, Skye is determined to find a cure, but the girl’s only hope lies in the embryonic stem cell therapy Michigan Senator Edward Hastings repeatedly opposes. When Skye fails to find alternative treatment in time, she vows to end the senator’s political career.

Curious about the woman behind the scathing articles on his best friend, Mark Dutton pursues Skye. Dating Mark gives her access to Hastings’s life and secrets that would launch Skye’s career and satisfy her need for retribution… Only she hadn’t counted on falling in love.

Can she avenge the lives lost to politics at the expense of her new love and friends?

Page Count: 436

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance, Contemporary Romance


Check out what others are saying!

“It is an interesting, intriguing and thought provoking book – one that certainly gave me food for thought.” —Elaine

“From the very first chapter I was intrigued and invested in this book. It is a compelling read with well developed characters that I found was hard to put the book down until the end.” –Kathy

“In summary, much to my surprise, this book turned out to be a thinker, and I like when I am made to ponder. I see a couple of reviewers are calling this a beach read. I respectfully disagree. It is more than that. I recommend The Lives Between Us to all readers of women’s fiction who like substance to their stories.” –Christine

“It grabbed me from the very beginning, and I simply could not put it down. It is so much more than just a romance. It is heartbreaking, clever, and beautiful.” –Give Me Books

Available to Purchase, July 1, 2015

Amazon, USA

Barnes & Noble

iBookstore

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Kobo

Smashwords

About The Author

Theresa Tree Close 2013_0279Theresa Rizzo is a bestselling, award-winning author who writes emotional stories that explore the complexity of relationships and families through real-life trials. 
Born and raised in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, she currently lives outside of Boulder, Colorado with her husband of thirty-two years. She’s raised four wonderful children who are now scattered across the country.

 

Theresa’s debut book, He Belongs to Me, won the 2014 National Indie Excellence Award for romance and the 2014 Readers Crown Award for Mainstream Women’s Fiction and was a finalist in the General Fiction Category of The 2013 USA Best Book Awards.

 

AWRW #BookBlast: Michele Gorman’s Little Sacrifices, by Jamie Scott @MicheleGormanUK

Little Sacrifices 2015

Most of you know Michele Gorman as a chick lit author but LITTLE SACRIFICES, a historical fiction, was written by her alter-ego, Jamie Scott. This novel has just been relaunched with a beautiful new cover!

How much would you risk to stand up for your beliefs?

When Duncan and Sarah Powell move with their daughter, May, to Savannah Georgia in 1947, they hope against hope that they’ll be welcomed. But they’re Yankees and worse, they’re civil rights advocates almost a decade too early.

At first May can pretend they’re the same as everyone else. It means keeping quiet when she knows she should speak up, but it’s worth the sacrifice to win friends. Unfortunately her parents are soon putting their beliefs into action. And when they wake to find that they’re the only family on the block with a Ku Klux Klan cross blazing on their front lawn, the time comes for them to finally decide between what’s easy and what’s right.

Kindly Note: This is not a Rom Com like Michele Gorman’s books under her own name. It’s an atmospheric coming-of-age novel set in the 1940s segregated American South and contains adult themes that some readers may find uncomfortable.

“An interesting and compelling read” The Kindle Book Review

“This historical fiction read is outstanding. The plot is intriguing, the characters are fantastic, and the writing style is so smooth and easy that it makes getting through this novel a breeze… Absolute 5-star read!!” – Rolopolo Books

“I felt that this is a story a friend would tell me and many times had to remind myself that it was just a story, an amazing story.  I could picture what Savannah was like, from the sweltering heat to the layouts of the streets.”
–A Novel Review

All in all, a fantastic story with historical elements and wonderful character development that will have you completely immersed in the secrets and plot twists of Little Sacrifices.” -Minding Spot

Amazon Australia: http://bit.ly/1FlWBMK
Amazon Canada: http://amzn.to/1R7QaDU

***Please note: You can grab a FREE copy of Michele Gorman’s novel, Single In The City, by visiting the amazon page for Little Sacrifices, (amazon links above), and “looking inside” to read a sample! Scroll back a couple pages, and you will find a link for a free copy of Single In The City!

One Girl, One City, One Disaster Waiting to Happen
To think Hannah ever believed that Americans differed from Brits mainly in pronunciation, sophistication and dentistry. That’s been the understatement of a lifetime. She lands upon England’s gentle shores with no job, no friends and no idea how she’s supposed to build the life she’s dreaming of. Armed with little more than her enthusiasm, she charges headlong into London, baffling the locals in her pursuit of a new life, new love and sense of herself.

About The Author

Jamie ScottJamie Scott is the pen name of Michele Gorman, the USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author who writes romantic comedy under her own name.

Michele Gorman is the USA TODAY bestselling author of eight romantic comedies. Born and raised in the US, Michele has lived in London for 16 years. She is very fond of naps, ice cream and Richard Curtis films but objects to spiders and the word “portion”.

Twitter:@MicheleGormanUK
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MicheleGormanBooks
Blog: http://www.michelegormanwriter.blogspot.com
Website: http://www.michelegorman.co.uk

You can find out more about Michele by following her on twitter or Facebook and by reading her blog or website. Do chat with her online – she’s always looking for an excuse to procrastinate!

 

The Story Behind The Story: Guest Post By Author Faye Hall @FayeHall79

Have you ever wondered about the Author behind a book? I do, all the time. I asked Author Faye Hall to list five things about herself, and her book, Mistress of Purity, that others may not know. The following are her answers. You might be a bit surprised! Enjoy! :)


5 things you didn’t know about Author Faye Hall:

avatar_thumbI absolutely hate writing a synopsis for my books when I plug them to a publisher. I literally carry on like a child not wanting to do their homework.

I name a lot of the characters in my books after people in either my husband’s or my own family tree.

I hum the theme song from the original Inspector Gadget TV cartoon show when I’m having trouble figuring out an interaction between my main characters. For some reason it actually helps me get back on track in the story.

I have over 40 tattoos – including on my legs, my arms, my ribs and almost my entire back. I also have theatre masks on my…well…let’s just say my jeans cover them up.

I have over 100 unfinished manuscripts on my computer that are still literally in pieces and yet to be written as a whole book.

5 things you didn’t know about Mistress of Purity:

Mistress of Purity.final.niinaThe basic story of the book – two people who are willing to surrender to each other until they realize their lives have already taken them separate ways; only to be joined together again, fighting the attraction they had for each other – is based on the way I met and our eventual relationship I had/have with my husband.

Mistress of Purity is actually the first book I ever wrote. I wrote it when I was in high school but given the emotional rollercoaster of my own personal life I couldn’t bear to send it to a publisher.  It has only been in the last couple of years I was able to pick the script up again.

The sub-character’s – Rosie and Tommy – were never meant to end up together when I began writing this book. It was only as the story developed that their relationship seemed like the natural course of things.

Gareth’s description is based on my husband.

Early in the book, Prue mentions to Gareth about planting a new crop called sugar cane. Sarina, the town the book is set in, was actually one of the first towns in North Queensland to grow the crop.

Mistress of Purity, coming soon!

Book Synopsis:

Prue had seen something the night her father was murdered – something that would forever change her life…

…She had seen something that would continue to haunt her and follow her wherever she went.

When she had married the Earl of Malloy, Prue had hoped to be able to hide under his name and at his out of town estate.

What she had not thought was to become his son’s MISTRESS OF PURITY.

 Gareth had sworn never to return to his father’s estate, not to the life he had once thought to have there.

He had hoped that the man he had grown in to was no longer hoping to find the love of a woman he knew could not possibly exist.

What Gareth had not wanted was to find his comfort in the arms of his father’s young wife…a woman he knew was hiding far more than just one secret from him.

Excerpt:

“Prue, I’m Jack Malloy’s only known child and heir, there was no other who could inherit the Malloy estate.  I’m curious though to know why you told me all the earl’s possessions were left to me, Prue.  You were his wife, madam; you shared his bed even if it were for such a short time, what was it he left to you?”

Prue quickly darted her eyes down to where her fingers were again fidgeting with the rings on her fingers.

“Your father only asked that I be allowed to stay living here so I might remain safe from any who might wish me harm.”

Gareth was still.  “I still don’t understand, Prue.  Why should my father insist in his will that I take you under my charge at this estate instead of at my own?”

Prue slowly raised her eyes up.  “Your father’s will is several months old, Gareth.  He wished for me to stay living here because he knew of the dangers that would fall on the estate and all who lived here should I leave.  The earl just thought he was doing what was best for both the estate and me.”

Gareth quickly approached Prue, his annoyance obvious at her continued avoidance to answer his question.  Stopping in front of her, he gripped the top of her arms painfully with his palms.

“Damn it, Prue.  Will you just tell me what was written in my father’s will?  What exactly is it he has left to me?”

Taking on a confident stance, Prue made sure her stare didn’t falter from Gareth’s intimidating one.

“You’ve been left the Malloy estate house and all its surrounding properties with the aggreeance the current servants remain in your employ. You have the small amount of money from your father’s accounts, and…”

“And what, Prue?” he asked impatiently, his hands shaking her softly when her words drifted off.

Prue let out a short shaky breath, her eyes never faltering from his.

“And you’ve been left me, Gareth.”

Faye Hall’s Website

Faye Hall’s Facebook Page

Faye Hall’s Twitter Page

 

 

AWRW Book Review: By A Thread, by Author R.L. Griffin

17560280Stella’s future was set, and it was a bright one. She was engaged to a man she adored, and was headed to law school in the fall. Tragically, her perfectly planned future ends just as it was beginning.

With no ties to family or friends, Stella finds herself alone in a new city, spiraling out of control. Her typical day comes to a close with her passed out on the floor; sometimes clothed.

Luckily, her new roommate, essentially a stranger, is dead set on getting Stella past her grief and back to functioning within society. Putting one foot in front of the other, she climbs up from the bottom of a bottle. Even with all her progress, Stella walks through life unfeeling, numb. Defiant, she sends out warning signals for the world to keep away. But, is that what she really wants?

With the steadfast help of a few tight knit friends, she gradually begins to feel again. She starts to savor the flavor of food again; lets herself notice how the handsome bartender glances at her. Still, after allowing herself a fling, she wonders if she will ever be able to let go of her shattered past, fully enjoy the present, or get over what she thought would be her perfect future and with the man who destroyed her heart.

Paperback, 272 pages
Published March 15th 2013 by CreateSpace (first published March 11th 2013)
Genre: Romance, Romance-Suspense, Drama, Dark, New-Adult
Goodreads


What’s It About?

Stella has her life all planned out. Adoring, handsome fiance , being accepted into law school . Till one day when tragedy strikes, and her world is turned upside down.

Stella puts off school, and spends most of her time drinking and crying. Her new roommate, Patrick, sees to it that she bathes and eats. Her roommates become her support system, but she doesn’t see herself worth saving. Stella is emotionally numb.

“I don’t have a heart to give you.”

Then, one day she catches the eye of a good looking bartender. She isn’t ready for a relationship, but she is happy to pass her time drinking and having sex. The bartender is just the distraction she needs.

“I want to tell you that you are beautiful, you know that? Inside and out… But you are broken. I plan on fixing you.”

Just as life starts to look promising again, it all comes crashing down…

My Thoughts

I won an e-copy of this novel in a Facebook giveaway, and I promised the Author a review. This is no way swayed my rating.

After finishing this book, I reread the prologue and first few chapters. The ending left me feeling unsatisfied… I’m guessing it was written how it was because it is part of a series, and book 2 will pick up where book 1 left off. *WARNING SPOILERS* In the prologue Stella was shot and nearly raped, (this is also how the story ends). This made no sense until I finished the book, and had I not reread it, I would have completely forgotten about that part. It was an odd way to start the book. I think this “scene” would have fit better in the last couple chapters.

My opinions on Stella are that she was a hot mess… She drinks her weight in alcohol on a daily basis, is totally depressed (and depressing), makes terrible decisions, and is so wishy-washy it makes your head spin. Even worse, when she drinks she takes off her clothes, and this is a regular pattern. C’mon! I didn’t love Stella, nor the people around her very much either. If I can’t get into the heroine, (or the characters), then it is difficult for me to get into the story. –Which was unfortunate because there was a lot of action and drama that I normally eat right up!

Speaking of the drama; there were a ton of plot twists that were completely unpredictable and shocking. I will give the author that, she can weave a good story! There were a few times that I said, “Oh my God”, and “WHAT?!”, out loud while reading.

The pacing was good, but there were a lot of extra details throughout that weren’t integral to the plot of the story. Perhaps the loose threads will be tied up in the later books, but I don’t know.

The story took place over a 5 year, (I think), timeline, with lots of gaps in between. She never really managed to pull herself out of the hole she was in, and everyone just kinda stood around and enabled her.

Tiny little pet peeve: Did Patrick give Stella stomach meds or a benzo? LOL!!! Xanax is a fast acting anti-anxiety med, “Zantac” is for stomach ulcers. It was spelled “zanax” so I’m thinking it was meant to be “xanax”. Help….

Overall, I liked the story, but I didn’t like the characters. I am giving this novel 3/5 stars.


About The Author

R.L. Griffin“I live in the Atlanta area. I was surrounded by awesome dudes, until I added a female dog into the mix of my husband, son and dog. I went to law school at American University, Washington College of Law, but only after I fell in love with D.C. I worked in the Senate during the impeachment trial and wanted to stay. After law school I worked for a bit in the area, then moved to Atlanta.”

“If you ask anyone who knows me they know I love reading and read all sorts of books. Any free time I have I’m either reading, writing or drinking with friends.” —Goodreads Author Bio

http://www.facebook.com/rlgriffinbyathread

Purchase

Purchase By A Thread, by R.L. Griffin, here!

A Sense Of Place: Guest Post by Author Jo Bartlett @SoVainBooks @J_B_Writer

A Sense of Place

I was born a stone’s throw from the white cliffs of Dover and have only once lived more than about half an hour from the coasjay_bartlettt, which I absolutely hated. I’m not sure whether that had anything to do with being further from the sea, though, or just because I was in a less than happy relationship, three hours away from family and friends, in a cottage with overly-familiar field mice and enough damp to start a mushroom farm.

Whatever the case, I’m drawn to the sea and maybe it’s in my blood. I love the big skies and there’s actually nothing better than a deserted beach in winter, wrapped up against the wild weather with only my dog for company. That’s when I do a lot of my thinking and working through plot lines for whatever I’m writing at the time. It always blows the cobwebs away and helps me to think clearly, so I guess it’s no surprise that ‘Among A Thousand Stars’ ended up being partly set by the sea.

Ashleigh Hayes, the novel’s heroine, is a freelance celebrity photographer, who finds herself spending most of her 24819245time in London as a result but, like me, her real home is on the Kent coast. Even the threat of her crazy mother, who’s been known to chain herself to the sea wall in her underwear for her latest cause, waiting back home for her in Sandgate, can’t keep Ashleigh from wanting to head home at every opportunity.

For many people, the seaside is evocative of care-free, childhood memories, when all you had to worry about was deciding whether or not to have a flake in your Mr Whippy and how to stop the seagulls from stealing your chips. That’s exactly how Tom Rushworth, Ashleigh’s new boss, feels about the coast in ‘Among A Thousand Stars’. Those childhood memories are still the best of his life and every one of them is tied up with love for the woman he’s about to lose forever.

As a writer, the coast offers a setting that allows you to really create a scene in a way that can reflect the mood of the whole piece – everything from stormy skies and crashing waves, to acres of blue and water as calm as a mill pond. Even describing the screeching of a seagull overhead immediately tells the reader where they are.

So perhaps it’s no wonder that ‘Among A Thousand Stars’ is not my only story to be set by the sea, in fact it’s in danger of becoming a habit. I might force myself to write about somewhere else next time, where you can’t taste the salt on your lips when it’s windy. In real life, though, the coast is my sense of place, so I’m sure I won’t stay away for long.

For years I wrote like no-one was reading, because they weren’t!  I wrote for escapism and enjoyment but never did anything with it.  It was only when cancer gave me a kick up the proverbial and I had a few months off work as a result that I decided to do something more with my writing.  I joined the Romantic Novelist’s Association after reading an interview with one of my favourite authors, Jill Mansell, which mentioned them.  When I eventually sent in the manuscript for my first novel to their New Writers’ Scheme, it turned out they thought it was worth submitting to publishers and I have now found a home for it.

My debut novel – ‘Among A Thousand Stars’ –  published by So Vain Books is now available for pre-order as an e-book, with the paper version released for pre-order on 2nd June.  I also have a pocket novel, published by DC Thomson, coming out on 18th June –‘No Time For Second Best’ – which will be available from WHSmiths and most supermarkets, for two weeks, and then as an ebook from Amazon. In addition, I released a novella – ‘The Gift of Christmas Yet to Come’ – in November 2014, which has topped one of the Amazon download charts and received some really positive reviews.

I’ve met some wonderful people over the last couple of years since all this began, including some of my heroines of writing, either in real life or in the wonderful virtual world of social media.  Jill Mansell, who sort of started all this in a roundabout way, is a friend on Facebook, which is frankly amazing! Best of all, though, I have picked up nine brilliant writing buddies along the way, who blog together as The Write Romantics and we keep each other going throughout the highs and lows.

So this is me with an author picture which is a bit David Bellamy escaping from the undergrowth, but mostly an attempt to look a bit thinner, younger and better looking than I am, which didn’t work all that well because sadly it looks exactly like me! —Author Bio extracted from Author’s website.

24819245They say you’d do anything for love, but what happens when you don’t believe it exists?

When her mother turns up naked and proud during her first term at college, Ashleigh Hayes assumes that life can’t get any more embarrassing. Ten years later, with best friend Stevie at her side, and a successful career as a freelance photographer for monthly magazine Glitz, it looks like she might have finally got the hang of things. Only she seems to have inherited the embarrassment gene from her mother and her every encounter with new boss, Tom Rushworth, looks set to send her career spiralling backwards. Getting past their shaky start, Ashleigh and Tom embark on a relationship that was only ever meant to be a bit of fun. But when life, paparazzi and love-sick Labradors get in the way, they suddenly find themselves caught in a roller coaster ride of emotions.

Paperback, 350 pages
Published June 17th 2015 by So Vain Books
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Chick Lit, Humor/Satire

Praise for Among a Thousand Stars:

‘The perfect feel-good read’ Kerry Fisher, Bestselling Author

‘A very funny and thoughtful look at relationships behind the lens – a really enjoyable and poignant debut’ My Reading Corner
Purchase, Amazon USA

AWRW Way Back Wednesday: Daddy Was the Black Dahlia Killer, by Mike Newton & Janice Knowlton

Way Back Wednesday is a Book Meme created by A Well Read Woman with the aim to write mini book reviews on waybackwednesdaybooks read in the past, that left a lasting impression.

You know what kind of books I am talking about… The ones that you have read multiple times, and they still bring you nostalgia. Books like these are the reason you enjoy reading.

So grab that old-dusty-yet-loved-book off the shelf, glance it over, write a mini review, and join in with me on Wednesdays! EVERYONE is welcome to participate.

This week I am featuring the controversial true crime book, Daddy Was The Black Dahlia Killer, by Authors Mike Newton, and Janice Knowlton. With an average rating of 2.8/5 on Goodreads, you might wonder why this book left any impression at all on me.

Truth is, I’m inclined to believe Janice Knowlton… and if she is a liar, or is suffering from a false-memory disorder, that just makes this book all the more interesting to me.

Daddy Was The Black Dahlia Killer reminds me of Sybil, as far as how the victim worked with a therapist to uncover “memories” (in Janice’s case), that may have not ever existed, much like Sybil’s memories of abuse and multiple personalities, which were later discounted.

George Knowlton, the man accused, died in a car crash many years ago, and was never as much as suspected, never mind punished. Janice’s step-sister has gone on record to call this book “trash”, and she said that George was mean, but not a killer.

Was Janice Knowlton’s father the black dahlia killer? Perhaps we will never have an answer, but she sure does make a strong case for it!

Here are the book details:

It is one of the most enduringly fascinating crimes in American history. On January 15, 1947, passersby made a grisly discovery in a vacant lot in Los Angeles: the body of a naked young woman, cut in two, and savagely mutilated. The victim was identified as Elizabeth Short, a struggling Hollywood actress.

Nicknamed the Black Dahlia by a headline-hungry press, her lurid demise sparked a desperate manhunt. But the mystery of the Black Dahlia murder remained unsolved for nearly half a century — until now.

A victim of incest and brutality from infancy, Janice Knowlton was an old hand at repressing hideous memories by age ten, when she watched her father, George Frederick Knowlton, torture, kill, and dismember Elizabeth Short in the detached garage of their California home. It was not the first of Daddy’s murders Jon had witnessed, and it would not be the last — but she had been so traumatized that it took over four decades for fragments of her memory to resurface.

Aided by a family counselor specializing in child abuse, Jan experienced a nightmare flood of childhood memories — and realized that she had witnessed her father commit up to nine savage and sadistic murders, including that of her own infant son, a child of incest. Using census records, maps, family interviews, police reports, and clippings from a dozen newspapers to document her searing memories, Janice exposes her father’s thirty-year rampage of rape and murder in this astonishing survivor’s testament — and provides persuasive evidence that Los Angeles law enforcement authorities always knew the shocking truth…

Mena Suvari as Elizabeth Short, The Black Dahlia

Paperback, 384 pages
Published August 1st 1995 by Pocket Books
Purchase, Amazon (USA)

AWRW Book Review: The Fallen Star, (Fallen Star 1), by Jessica Sorensen

11051889For eighteen year-old Gemma, life has never been normal.

Up until recently, she has been incapable of feeling emotion. And when she’s around Alex, the gorgeous new guy at school, she can feel electricity that makes her skin buzz.

Not to mention the monsters that haunt her nightmares have crossed over into real-life.

But with Alex seeming to hate her and secrets popping up everywhere, Gemma’s life is turning into a chaotic mess. Things that shouldn’t be real suddenly seem to exist.

And as her world falls apart, figuring out the secrets of her past becomes a matter of life and death.

My first, personalized “authorgraph”, thank you Jessica Sorensen! 

authorgraph

 

Book Details:

 

Paperback, 449 pages
Published April 11th 2011 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (first published April 7th 2011)
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Supernatural, Paranormal-Vampires, Urban Fantasy


What’s It About?


Gemma feels invisible in high school, and doesn’t have any friends. When forced to work in a group for an astronomy project, Gemma gets the notion that her partner Alex, hates her. She overhears her partners Alex and Aislin discussing about her and a “prophecy”, behind her back. Something was going on, and Gemma needed to find out…

To add to her stress, she has been experiencing reoccurring nightmares about monsters with yellow eyes chasing her in the woods. She can’t shake the feeling that her nightmares are coming true. What Gemma is about to find out, is that the monsters in her dreams are real, and the boy that she believes hates her is her biggest ally…

“I had to save myself in order to save the world.”


My Thoughts

I wanted to mention before I begin, that I liked Gemma, the girl with the violet eyes who lacked the ability to feel emotion, and longed to be up with the stars. Systematically isolated, courtesy of her grandparents who she called by their first names, who could blame her for wanting to be anywhere else?

The Fallen Star begins relatively believable, with a young high school loner, being forced into a group astronomy assignment. Her partner takes her into the woods, to reveal an ashy spot where according to legend, a star fell 20 years ago. This is when the fantasy elements set it, because after she visits this spot, she is confronted by monsters, forseers, witches, and even a vampire! NOTHING is as it seems, and Gemma is responsible for the future of mankind.

Here are my thoughts; why include all of the additional paranormal/supernatural details when the star angle/legend, and how it related to Gemma, was so fascinating? The addition of foresight, teleportation, witches, and the vampire was distracting, and took away from, what I assume, was the original plot. It was just too much.

All too often there is a love triangle featured in a YA novel, and Laylen the vampire was competing with Alex for Gemma’s attention, so I was just waiting for it. The story ended with one heck of a cliffhanger, but I do not plan to read the next installment because I can’t imagine which way the story could possibly go next, since it changed so much within book 1. I basically just read 400+ pages of a plot that spun out of control! And that is unfortunate, because it began with so much promise, and I truly did like the main character.

Three out of Five Stars

Book provided in exchange for an honest, thoughtful, and fair book review.

*** I would like to mention that out of nearly 2100 reviews, this novel has an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5.

Purchase

This book is FREE on Amazon. Grab your copy, here!

About The Author

Jessica SorensenJessica Sorensen is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author from the snowy mountains of Wyoming. When she’s not writing, she spends her time reading and hanging out with her family.

You can find more information about Jessica and her books at http://www.jessicasorensen.com

I Never Found My Steven, But I Did Find My Story: #SearchingForSteven Blog Tour, Guest Post by Author Jessica Redland @JessicaRedland @SoVainBooks

Jessica RedlandMy debut novel, Searching for Steven, was launched on 3rd June by So Vain Books and is available as a paperback and an eBook. My debut novella, Raving About Rhys (set before Steven but written as a stand-alone story), was released last month and is available in eBook format. This time last year, being a published author was a distant dream. I can hardly believe it’s happened!

I’ve subscribed to Writing Magazine for several years and also frequently read Writer’s Forum. The articles or interviews that I always find most fascinating are ones where authors reveal how they found their ideas. There are so many diverse sources out there: magazine articles, news items, overheard conversations, songs … the list is endless. Sometimes it’s something really small that triggers an idea. I can often hear a line of a song and something resonates with me in that lyric, resulting in a premise for a novel springing to mind.

So where did I get the idea for Searching for Steven? It’s often said: write what you know. I did exactly that for Steven because my premise for the book is something that happened to me.

I was thirty, living in Reading at the time, and working in graduate recruitment. I’d split up with my partner and we were in the process of selling our house. Although I’d loved my job, there’d been a few changes at work that made me question whether I wanted to stay. For the first time since leaving home to go to university, I felt homesick and couldn’t shake the idea that I’d like to move back home to North Yorkshire and do something completely different: set up a teddy bear shop.

A friend of mine was very conscious that I was at a crossroads in my relationship and my career. She gave me a gift voucher for a telephone clairvoyant and suggested that it might help me through my predicament. Having never done anything like that before, I wasn’t convinced, so I politely thanked her and pinned the voucher to my noticeboard, expecting never to make that call. One evening, alone in the house and still in a quandary about the future, I decided to make that call. I’m so glad I did because it changed my life.

I told the clairvoyant that I wanted to talk about work and men. She predicted that I was going to leave my job, move back north, and run my own business. She told me that I’d buy a house, but the sale of mine in Reading wouldn’t go as smoothly as I hoped and I’d end up living with my parents for a month until everything was sorted. That’s exactly what happened!

As for men, she told me that I’d meet the man of my dreams when I moved back home. I wouldn’t be home long before I met him, he’d be divorced without children, and his name would be Steven. Eek! I hadn’t expected anything quite so specific.

My manager at work used to often tell me that I should write a book because my business reports read like a story. I loved writing and it was a great suggestion, except I had no ideas. With this one phone call, my idea was born. What if a clairvoyant told my heroine that she was going to meet the man of her dreams – Steven – and she became obsessed about searching for him? Ooh, there was a title too: Searching for Steven. I loved it! I told a few close friends and family and they all thought the premise had great mileage as a book. They were also very intrigued as to whether I’d search for my Steven. Of course I would!

My mum went on a mission, trying to suss out whether there were any single Stevens living in her village. There was one who was about my age, but she suspected he might be gay. Years later we found out that he is gay so I’m glad I insisted that she didn’t try to set me up on a date.

I had a month to get my shop ready for trading. I arrived at the shop one morning to find a business card through my letterbox from a sign-maker. A sign-maker called Steven. Eek! I needed signs for my shop so I had to call him, of course. My hands shook as I made the call and I was ridiculously nervous when he turned up a couple of days later to give me a quote. He was pretty good-looking, about my age, and very friendly. And engaged.

Not long after, I got a phone call from a distributor whose products I was interested in stocking. Their rep was in the area and could call the following day. Great. Just before I hung up, I asked what his name was. Steven. Argh! Cue another sleepless night, wondering. Steven the rep was lovely. Bit young for me. In a relationship.

And then the Stevens seemed to dry up and I realized that I’d moved to a town where the only residents I knew were my parents and my younger brother, and had opened a business where male customers weren’t exactly going to be in abundance. If they came in, they were likely to be buying for their partners or children. Ultimately I wanted to meet Mr Right, but I was keen to make some friends too so I decided to sign up to an online dating site. Ooh, lots of Stevens! Naturally, I marked several as my favourites, and hoped they’d get in touch. A day after signing up, Mark contacted me. He wasn’t a Steven but he sounded lovely so I emailed him back. A little over two years later, we married, and will be celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary this September. I never found my Steven, but I did find my story.

Searching for Steven tells the story of Sarah Peterson whose life isn’t turning out quite the way she’d planned. When she turns thirty, she makes some major life changes including ditching her boyfriend, moving back home to the North Yorkshire Coast, and taking over the running of her auntie’s florist shop. When she’s packing to move home, she finds a cassette tape of a clairvoyant reading made when she was eighteen and is shocked to discover that everything on it has come true … except that she’s about to move home and meet the man of her dreams. And he’s called Steven.

In an earlier version, I had Sarah making the telephone call to the clairvoyant, but this didn’t quite work for me. I wanted her to be extremely single-minded (bordering on obsessive) about her search for Steven so why would an intelligent woman behave in that way after a phone call full of predictions but no evidence? Think! What if it was an old reading instead and everything else had come true? Yes, that would work. But why wouldn’t she remember it? Hmm. What if she’d been drinking heavily at a friends eighteenth and had experienced an alcohol blackout? I have to thank my older brother, Mike, for that very plausible explanation as he read my MS and questioned why Sarah wouldn’t remember something so significant.

Sarah’s in the same situation as me; running a business where male customers are predominantly shopping for their partners, so I felt very closely aligned to her character. Inspired by my sign-maker and rep experiences, Sarah has Steven encounters with a window cleaner and a plasterer. But that’s when the real life experiences stop and my imagination completely takes over. Does Sarah find her Steven? You’ll have to read it and find out!

Thank you so much for having me as your guest. Happy reading everyone! :)

24477709When Sarah Peterson accepts her Auntie Kay’s unexpected offer to take over her florist’s shop, she’s prepared for a change of job, home and lifestyle. What she isn’t prepared for is the discovery of a scarily accurate clairvoyant reading that’s been missing for twelve years. All her predictions have come true, except one: she’s about to meet the man of her dreams. Oh, and his name is Steven.

Suddenly Stevens are everywhere. Could it be the window cleaner, the rep, the manager of the coffee shop, or any of the men she’s met online?

On top of that, she finds herself quite attracted to a handsome web designer, but his name isn’t even Steven…

During this unusual search, will Sarah find her destiny?


347 Pages

Published by So Vain Books: June 3rd 2015

Genre: Humor, Women’s Fiction/Chick Lit, Contemporary

Goodreads

‘A warm and witty tale of one woman’s search for love, with a brave and feisty heroine you can’t help rooting for. SEARCHING FOR STEVEN is a compelling debut by a talented author, and I highly recommend it.’ Talli Roland, bestselling author of The No-Kids Club

‘Searching for Steven is a wonderful, uplifting story about the magic of true love that will put a smile on your face and happiness in your heart.’ Suzanne Lavender

‘Amusing and engaging, Searching for Steven is the story to make you believe in your one true love, with or without fate leading you there’ reviewedthebook.co.uk

 

Searching for Steven: What If You Already Know Your Future… but Not the Path to Take You There? (Whitsborough Bay Book 1)

Purchase, Amazon USA

Purchase, Amazon UK

25535708Bubbly Callie Derbyshire loves her job as a carer, and can’t believe she’s finally landed herself a decent boyfriend – older man Tony – who’s lasted way longer than the usual disastrous three months. Tony’s exactly what she’s always dreamed of… or at least he would be if he ever took her out instead of just taking her to bed. And work would be perfect, too, if she wasn’t constantly in trouble with her boss.

When the new gardener, Mikey, discovers her in a rather compromising position at work, Callie knows that her days at Bay View Care Home could be numbered. And if she leaves, who’ll look out for her favourite client, Ruby, whose grandson, Rhys, seems to constantly let her down?

And can anyone in Callie’s life be trusted?

FREE ON AMAZON, USA!

Purchase, Amazon UK

About The Author

Jessica Redland

Jessica lives on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast in England which provides the inspiration for the setting of her debut books. She works in Human Resources by day and writes by night. Being a mum, Brown Owl and bootcamper fill the rest of her waking hours. —Goodreads Author Bio

Twitter: @JessicaRedland

Facebook: Jessica Redland Writer

Website: www.jessicaredland.com

searchingforsteven cropped-landscape-promo-image

 

 

AWRW Book Review: Bride Without A Groom, by Amy Lynch #BlogTour @AmyLynchAuthor @BlandAlice @TheChargeIsOn

blogtour
25358014
Rebecca has chosen the most luscious, five tiered, wedding cake – as featured in Hello! Magazine. The engagement ring that she has selected is celebrity inspired. The wedding singer is on speed dial. He doesn’t usually do Michael Bolton, but as it’s for a first dance he’ll make an exception. Father Maguire is checking dates for the parish church as we speak. The deposit on the white sand honeymoon is paid for in full on Barry’s card. Sure, the resort was good enough for Pierce Brosnan when he tied the knot. She has fallen for an ivory lace couture gown that is to die for. The down payment may require her to sell a left kidney, but it will be worth it. Isn’t that why you have two?

There’s one teeny problem. It’s nothing, really. No need to panic! It’s just that Barry has yet to propose. Says he’s not ready! He can be a bit of a kill joy that way. It’s time to face the harsh reality – she is a bride without a groom.

Truth be told, Barry’s had enough. There’s only so much wedding talk that one man can take. Discovering the credit card statement is the final straw. Now he’s leaving for a conference in Bangkok and frankly, he’s looking forward to the peace and quiet. He says he needs time to think about their relationship. As the Tiger beer flows and the tie loosens, his colleague Shelley is providing more than a shoulder for him to cry on. Maybe Shelley is right. Maybe Rebecca only wants the big day.

Back in Dublin, Rebecca worries. Maybe she has pushed Barry too far this time. Best mates Pam and Emer are on hand for counseling and cocktails. With the help of family, friends and a well stocked drinks cabinet, Rebecca puts her cunning plan together. Operation ‘Win Back Barry’ is in full swing. She needs to convince Barry that she’s not crazy – just crazy about him. But wait… who is the mysterious woman that is so keen to talk to her, and what is it that Barry needs to get off his chest?

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance, Humor, Chick Lit, Rom-Com

What’s It About?

“It’s time to face the harsh reality. I’m a bride without a groom.”

Rebecca is crazy over her boyfriend Barry, and is crazy about weddings. You might even call her a “bridezilla”… One problem, she isn’t even engaged!

She spends her time volunteering at an animal shelter, going to bars and drinking fancy cocktails with her best friends, Pam and Emer, and fantasizing about her dream wedding. Her obsession with weddings is pushing her boyfriend further and further away. Conveniently, he leaves for Thailand on a business trip, after a huge fight.

Is this the end? Will Rebecca be a bride without a groom?

My Thoughts

I was hooked by the prologue, and completely entertained throughout Bride Without A Groom, by Author Amy Lynch. To say that the main character, Rebecca, is hilarious, is an UNDERSTATEMENT. Her introspective thoughts had me literally laughing out loud.

If that wasn’t enough, I also loved the surrounding characters. Barry, the non-groom, comes off at first as a jerk, referring to Rebecca as a “pampered princess”, and confiding in his female friend about his problems with Rebecca. Slowly but surely, the reader comes to the conclusion that Barry is just overwhelmed by Confetti magazines, a priest who stops by to confirm a wedding date, (what wedding?!), and a booked honeymoon. Rebecca would drive a saint mad!

I also enjoyed her best friends, Pam and Emer. Pam is the devil on Rebecca’s shoulder, and Emer the angel. They were the perfect addition for this chick lit. Throw in an annoying mother who means well, and a nosy, gossipy neighbor, Bernie, and you have yourself a very interesting story with characters who have DEPTH!

I would recommend this novel to women who enjoy humorous chick lit, brides-to-be, brides-who-want-to-be, and anyone who enjoys a good rom-com. You will not be disappointed! 5 Stars! :) (Or in this case, engagement rings!)

Purchase

Amazon, USA

Amazon, UK

About The Author

Amy LynchAmy Lynch is an author of women’s commercial fiction. Her debut novel ‘Bride without a groom’ is out now, and her second novel ‘Does my bump look big in this?’ will follow shortly.

Amy lives in Wicklow, Ireland with her husband, two young children and two dogs.

http://www.facebook.com/amylynchauthor
http://www.amylynchauthor.com
twitter @AmyLynchauthor

***In the interest of full disclosure, a received an e-copy of Bride Without A Groom, from Light Brigade PR, in exchange for a thoughtful, fair, and honest book review.

Marketing: The Good, the Bad, The Swag

A Well Read Woman:

Authors & Bloggers: Check out Author Jennifer Allis Provost’s marketing advice! The Good, The Bad, The Swag!

Originally posted on Author Jennifer Allis Provost:

As some of you may know, in addition to writing I offer freelance marketing and editing services. (Want to check out my rates? Look here.) Today, let’s talk about one of the most common marketing questions I get: what kind of swag should I order?

For those new to the publicity-sphere, swag is a catchall phrase for promo material intended to increase your brand awareness, such as bookmarks bearing an author’s latest release, t-shirts with logos emblazoned across them, even those tire pressure gauges from your auto insurance company. You know, the fun little doodads given away at trade shows and conferences. Admit it, you know you love ’em.

Since most of my client’s are writers, I usually deal with book related swag: bookmarks, postcards, posters, etc. While there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with offering any of these, bear in mind that EVERY OTHER AUTHOR has bookmarks, postcards, etc. If…

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AWRW Book Review: First Night (Seductive Nights), by Author Lauren Blakely @LaurenBlakely3

firstnightIt was only supposed to be one night…

When the sinfully handsome man walks into her bar in San Francisco, Julia Bell simply wants a break from the troubles that keep chasing her.

That escape comes in the form of sexy, confident and commanding Clay Nichols, who captivates her mind AND turns her inside out with pleasure.

The attraction is electric and they share one scorchingly hot night together, but they also discover there is more than just off-the-charts chemistry; the connection between them runs deep.

Clay never thought he’d return to New York with this woman still on his mind. But he can’t get her out of his system, and he needs more of her…

He wants more than just the first night…

An erotic novella from the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Lauren Blakely…

*This is a prequel novella to the erotic romance NIGHT AFTER NIGHT.*

ebook, 75 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by Smashwords Edition (first published December 9th 2013)
Genre: Erotic Romance, Erotica – BDSM, Contemporary, Novella
Series: Seductive Nights

What’s It About?

“Sometimes, a woman just needed to flirt off her stress.”

Julia Bell is looking for a no-strings-attached affair. Preferably, a man with eight inches, and a brain. Was that so much for a woman to ask?

“Softness was for kittens, pillows and pretty cashmere sweaters. Sex needed to be hard, hot, and oh-so-rough around the edges.”

Clay Nichols, an entertainment lawyer, is in San Francisco on business. He visits the bar where Julia works/co-owns and is immediately taken by her, (in more than one way). She invites him to stay past closing, and that is when things REALLY get interesting…

My Thoughts

Another awesome Lauren Blakely novel that I received in exchange for an honest review. Featuring, a strong, fiery, sexually liberated heroine who knows what she wants, and doesn’t depend on any man. Highly recommended to women who enjoy erotic romance, with a strong female lead. Warning, there is one heck of a cliff hanger in the end! And yes, I did grab the next book in the series, Night After Night! I’m dying to know what happens next with Julia and Clay!

First Night is a fun and sexy read that I finished in one sitting. The writing flows smoothly, and features the POV of both Julia and Clay. There was a mention of her being concerned that Clay was a cop, so I’m thinking she is/was involved with something unsavory, but it was dropped and wasn’t mentioned again. I’m curious if I will learn what exactly she is/was involved with in the next installment of the series.

Overall, 4/5 stars. :)

Purchase Links

I have AMAZING news. Both First Night and Night After Night are currently FREE on Amazon! Grab your copies, today!

About The Author

Lauren BlakelyLauren Blakely is an unabashed fan of clever jokes, toast, and good guys in novels. Like the heroine in TROPHY HUSBAND, she thinks life should be filled with hot men, cool clothes, and the kind of love that love songs promise. Lauren lives in California with her husband and children, and spends her days writing both true stories and make-believe ones.–Goodreads Author Bio

 

AWRW Book Review: Caught Up In Us (Caught Up In Love), by Lauren Blakely @LaurenBlakely3

 A second chance at first love…
17157757Five years ago, Kat Harper fell into a dizzying summer romance with her brother’s best friend Bryan. It was a mad, crazy love full of kisses all through the night—but he broke her heart and she had to move on.

Five years later, Kat is finishing her graduate degree and building her business as a jewelry designer, when Bryan, head of his own successful company, walks back into her life. Bryan has been assigned to Kat as her new business mentor and the rules are clear. No hanky panky permitted. Kat can handle that because she’s totally over him… right?

Except, he still makes her laugh, and he remembers all the things she likes. Not to mention that he’s even more handsome now than he was then. Then there’s the spark between them—the simply undeniable chemistry, and the tender ways he shows he still cares for her. Can they resist each other the second time around or will first love trump all?

Paperback, 240 pages

Published January 20th 2013 by Lauren Blakely (first published January 18th 2013)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance, Romance, New Adult

Setting: Paris, France / New York, United States

What’s It About?

“He was my first favorite mistake…”

Kat began a jewelry business inspired by a break-up with her first love, Bryan. For five years, she juggles classes, makes jewelry, and builds her business, moving past her first big love. In graduate school, she is paired with a business mentor, who to her complete surprise, is Bryan! 

She needs to pass this class in order to graduate, and her professor won’t allow her to swap mentors. Kat is stuck.

Old feelings return, but Kat fears the feelings are only one-sided. Is Bryan toying with her?

Then, Kat feels unwanted eyes on her. Somebody is watching them and that could be bad news for both Kat and Bryan. Are all the signs pointing to her and Bryan being an impossibility?

My Thoughts

I enjoy Author Lauren Blakely’s novels and was delighted to read Caught Up In Us in exchange for an honest review. I loved the main character, Kat. Kat is a young, yet savvy business woman who knows what she wants and does everything to achieve her goals. Kat Harper is the furthest thing from a “damsel in distress” type heroine.

The POV is told strictly through Kat. You feel for her, and experience her highs and lows throughout the novel. She is a sweet girl who loves Hello Kitty, doesn’t drink alcohol, and cares about her family. You WANT her to succeed. This was so refreshing. I can’t tell you how many romance novels I have read where I couldn’t stand the heroine because she was manipulative/whiny/weak, etc. Author Lauren Blakely features strong women characters who are not only likable, but relatable!

I did find the story line unique, and enjoyed the way Caught Up In Us flowed. The erotic scenes were superb, and peppered throughout the novel. I would recommend this novel to readers who enjoy new-adult, erotic romance that features a strong heroine!


Quotables

“I understood the meaning of the word swoon — I had become the very definition.”

“I make jewelry. I drink caramel machiattos. I wear Hello Kitty to bed. Of course I love romantic comedies,’ I said with a smile as we neared my house. But I didn’t just love them. I wanted to live within them. I wanted a love like in the movies.”

Purchase

Click to Purchase!

 Amazon, USA


About The Author


Lauren BlakelyLauren Blakely is an unabashed fan of clever jokes, toast, and good guys in novels. Like the heroine in TROPHY HUSBAND, she thinks life should be filled with hot men, cool clothes, and the kind of love that love songs promise. Lauren lives in California with her husband and children, and spends her days writing both true stories and make-believe ones. —Goodreads Author Bio

AWRW Interview of Award Winning Author T.K. Thorne @TKThorne @Blackburnfork

author-interviewTK
I recently read and reviewed Angels At The Gate, by Author T.K. Thorne, a biblical/historical fiction that I enjoyed thoroughly. Angels At The Gate piqued my curiosity about biblical times, and Lot’s wife; a woman who was never given so much as a name in the bible. T.K. Thorne let her imagination soar, crafting an entire story about Lot’s wife, based on an obscure passage in the bible. I am so honored to feature T.K. Thorne on my blog, and I encourage readers to share this interview, and/or leave a supportive comment!

Hello, T.K. Thorne! Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed on A Well Read Woman Blog. Please tell me a little about yourself and your background.

03_Author TK ThorneI’ve been a storyteller all of my life. My earliest memories are making up roles and magic powers for my stuffed animals that formed a guard and protected me at night from the bad guys under the bed. Then I enacted slice-of-life dramas with my plastic horses and sometimes Barbie doll (although I preferred the horses) and play-skits for the neighborhood kids. (Being the writer/director, I got to be queen!) My grandmother read to me constantly, often over my head, and I was an avid reader. My first love was science fiction (as was my first published short story) and I have a science fiction novel waiting to be published. I accidentally became a police officer and after retiring from that profession, I became the executive director of a CAP, a nonprofit that provides security and stranded motorist in downtown Birmingham.

Although the commonly accepted marketing advice is to find your niche and stick to it, over the years I have written short stories, novels, poems, scripts, and non-fiction on a wide variety of subjects. My Blog is about “What Moves Me.” There is just too much interesting stuff in the world to explore!

That is absolutely adorable about your stuffed animals with super powers. :) You clearly have been using your creative imagination to craft fantasy worlds around yourself since day one! I can see why writing is a good outlet for you. :)

Please tell me about your historical biblical fictions, Noah’s Wife, and Angels At The Gate. Who is your intended audience, and why should they read your books?

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My audience is readers who have an open mind, like a strong female character, adventure, and an epic love story. Readers should be aware that, although these novels are about women mentioned briefly in the Bible, neither Noah’s Wife nor Angels at the Gate “preaches” anything. My premise was to base the stories on what I could learn about the scientific evidence of the disasters and the archeological and historical evidence of the cultures of those times periods.  Both the story of Noah’s flood and Sodom & Gomorrah were probably older stories that the Hebrews incorporated into their body of literature, retelling them, as so many cultures have done with ancient tales, within the context of their beliefs. That said, the stories are set loosely within the framework of the biblical ones.

I back you up 100% that your biblical fiction isn’t “preachy”. -Which I appreciated!

Not much is mentioned in the bible about Lot’s wife, not even her name! How were you able to create an entire story, based on one reference to her in the bible? Please, if you would, take us briefly through the process of creating Angels At The Gate.

Angels was built on the foundation of the research required for Noah’s Wife on Middle Eastern culture and early 23231687religion. Although Angels was set several thousands of years later, the difference in culture was not as great as you would think. There were still farmers and nomads and city dwellers. And the fundamental nature of humanity has not changed.

I began by searching for a date. I thought it would be no problem, but it turned out that it was about a 500-year problem! That’s how much dispute there is about when Abraham lived. There is even some debate on whether he really existed. Once I made a decision on that, I worked on learning about the cultures of the different peoples, the land, the political scene, etc. A trip to Israel in 2011 provided incredibly rich material, allowing me to walk in the footsteps of my characters, and I am grateful, in particular, for a desert ranger and a Bedouin boy whose input was not to be found in any books. As you can imagine, there were many books read too—everything from dog behavior (a desert-bred saluki is one of my major characters) to the history of textiles in the Middle East, books about Abraham and early religions, theories about the origins of angels, theories about the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah, and, of course, the Bible itself.

The other part to your question is how the story came about. I assure you, when I began, it was a mystery to me too!  My writing is character-based and everything flows from that. I knew Adira had a little “problem” with obedience and that this would be a story about choices. From that, her character took shape. Adira came alive immediately and took over. In the beginning, for example, after announcing that she had grown up as a boy in her father’s caravan, when she looked in her robe to check on the puppy she had hidden there, she confessed she had stolen it. When I wondered why, she explained that with the limited resources in the desert and the caravan cook’s bad temper, she was afraid he was going to throw the puppies in his pot. That set the stage for the character of the cook, and the dynamics for the story built from and played off the characters. I just needed to figure out what kind of crisis was going to happen next and let my “children” react to it. Often they surprised me, which I consider one of the joys of writing.

That is amazing. Thanks for sharing your creative process!

Your first biblical fiction, and debut novel, Noah’s Wife, earned ForeWord Review Magazine’s 2009 “Book of the Year” for Historical Fiction. You must have been delighted that your debut novel made “Book of the Year”! What was your reaction?

I couldn’t believe it at first. I kept staring at the notice! I floated for a long time. :)

I bet! :) Have you won any other awards for your writing?

ForeWord Reviews “BOOK OF THE YEAR” for Historical Fiction

Portland Book Review for Short Fiction

Chattahoochee Valley Writer’s Contest for Short Fiction

Eugene Walters Writers Festival Termite Hall for Screenplay

Magic City Writers’ Contest for Short Fiction

Birmingham Library Haiku Poetry Contest

Awesome! You also wrote Last Chance For Justice: How Relentless Investigators Uncovered New Evidence Convicting The Birmingham Church Bombers. As a former captain, and longtime police officer of the Birmingham Police Department, you had an inside view of this case and investigation. Please tell us a little about this non-fiction book of yours.

17465031This book came about after I attended a presentation on the infamous 1963 bombing of a Birmingham church where four young girls were killed, a bombing that changed history.  The story about the investigation was fascinating and turned many of my presumptions upside down.  Another surprise was that I realized I had worked in the police department with one of the primary investigators! After the presentation, I told him someone needed to write the amazing story of how he and an FBI special agent took on and solved a thirty-two year old case with no physical evidence and no witnesses.  To make a long story short, I turned out to be that person. After 18 months of secret interviews (FBI had not approved the project yet) I started working on this book. This was my debut in nonfiction, and I tried to bring my storytelling skills into play to give justice to this important piece of history.

That is incredible! You are just an all around super-woman! BTW, how does one “accidentally” become a police officer?

One starts out as a youth wanting to be an astronaut to get to meet aliens. When that doesn’t work out, one picks another career, such as social work and ends up writing a paper on a police-social work project. That gets one a job working for a police department as a grant writer, until one decides that being a police officer is a lot more fun than writing grants and probably the closest one will ever get to meeting aliens . . . or at least different and interesting people.

Ah ha! Yes, I can see how police work sorta chose you, as opposed to the other way around. :) Very good!

The ‘cover lover’ in me must know, who designed your cover for Angels At The Gate?

My wonderful sister designed the cover for Angels at the Gate. She’s the graphic artist in the family, has become a good editor, and also helps me with marketing. In fact, she is my most fervent fan and has created a “Super Fan Club” for me. (She tweets @blackburnfork).  I am very fortunate!

Haha! Yes, I have met her! She is great, and “fervent fan” is an understatement! ;)

How can your readers and fans discover more about you and your work? 

My website is tkthorne.com; I blog at tks-tales.com; Facebook page is T.K. Thorne and Twitter is @tkthorne and email is TK@tkthorne.com.  I love hearing from readers and speaking with book clubs (either in person or Skype).

Lastly, is there anything I haven’t asked that you would like your readers and fans to know?

The best way for a reader to help an author is to talk to friends about books they enjoy. Thanks for inviting me to share! —T.K.

T.K. ThorneT.K. Thorne’s childhood passion for storytelling deepened when she became a police officer in Birmingham, Alabama.  “It was a crash course in life and what motivated and mattered to people.” When she retired as a captain, she took on Birmingham’s business improvement district as the executive director.  Both careers provide fodder for her writing, which has garnered several awards, including “Book of the Year for Historical Fiction” (ForeWord Reviews) for her debut novel, NOAH’S WIFE. Her first non-fiction book, LAST CHANCE FOR JUSTICE, was featured on the New York Post’s “Books You Should Be Reading” list. Her new historical fiction is ANGELS AT THE GATE. She loves traveling, especially to research her novels, and speaking about her books and life lessons.  She writes at her mountaintop home, often with two dogs and a cat vying for her lap.

Purchase Links

 Angels At The Gate

Angels at the Gate is a story of adventure and the power of love, a compelling saga based on historical research about the ancient biblical world of Abraham, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the woman who “became a pillar of salt.”

Noah’s Wife

Noah’s Wife transports readers to an ancient time and place, while delving into issues that affect our contemporary lives–family relationships, autism, religious freedom, kidnapping and cultural change. A biblical novel that is not “Christian Fiction,” T.K. Thorne’s version weaves myth, history, and archeological findings with her vivid imagination, wisdom and humor into an epic tale you will not forget. Told from the unique perspective of a young girl with what is now called Aspergers, this is the story of Noah’s completely unknown wife, Na’amah.

Last Chance For Justice

Told by a longtime officer of the Birmingham Police Department, Last Chance for Justice is the inside story of one of the most infamous crimes of the civil rights era. T. K. Thorne follows the ups and downs of the investigation, detailing how Herren and Fleming identified new witnesses and unearthed lost evidence. With tenacity, humor, dedication, and some luck, the pair encountered the worst and best in human nature on their journey to find justice, and perhaps closure, for the citizens of Birmingham.

 

 

 

 

 

AWRW Book Review: I Won’t Give Up On You, (Black Hollywood Series Book 2), by F.L. Jacob

19196563Sabrina’s dreams are slipping away in the wake of the shooting. She’s lost trying to cope with the new reality of her life. Can Caston help her see that the scars on the outside haven’t changed who she is on the inside?

Caston’s true past comes to light, bringing his present crashing down around him. In a life full of betrayal, how will Caston cope when the truth is revealed? Can Sabrina be the constant Caston needs to help him make the life changing decisions he needs to in order to move on?

When the web of lies is torn apart, who will be left standing? Will the right person take the fall?

Follow Caston and Sabrina through the aftermath and find out what happens when they each vow I Won’t Give Up on You.

*PLEASE NOTE* This book is for 18 years and older. This book contains sexual encounters and graphic language that some readers may find objectionable. Contains graphic material that is not suitable for anyone under the age of 18.

Published (first published April 12th 2014)

Genre: Erotica, Suspense, Romance, Drama

Series: Black Hollywood Series

Goodreads

What’s It About?

After a brutal attack, Sabrina may not be able to dance again. She picks up the pieces of her shattered life, and tries her best to move on with the help of Caston, her boyfriend.

Caston is given news that turns his world upside down… How can he be strong and protect Sabrina when he is falling apart himself?

They vow not to give up on one another, all while dodging the paparazzi, and avoiding Sabrina’s attacker…

My Thoughts

I won an e-copy of this novel in a contest, mentioned I was a book reviewer, and promised the Author a review. Unfortunately, I was completely annoyed when I realized this was book 2 in the Black Hollywood Series. Book 1, Have I Told You, ended with a cliffhanger, and book 2 picks up where book 1 ended. Was I confused? -Yes. Did I eventually figure it out? -Yes, eventually I was able to piece everything together. (BTW, the Author does warn in the beginning of the book that you should read book 1 first).

Immediately, from page one. you are thrown into the action and drama that is Caston and Sabrina. She is in a coma and he is standing vigil, praying she will wake up and come back to him. Caston can’t imagine life without her.  Without reading book 1, you get a taste of Caston’s devotion to Sabrina.

Sabrina does wake up, and from there on it is nothing but sex, drama, and tears. Literally, every other scene Sabrina is crying. And she doesn’t just cry when she is depressed; she cries after sex, and when she is happy too!

All of her crying made me crazy… Enough already with the crying, lady! Take a zoloft!

Fortunately, the story was told from three different povs; Caston, Sabrina, and Mark’s perspectives were all reflected. Thank God. I don’t think I could have read this book if the POV was strictly Sabrina’s.

Speaking of Mark, (the villain); I enjoyed his character the most. Isn’t that weird? Aren’t you supposed to HATE the villain?

“All I want to do is strip her and claim her as mine…”

I enjoyed the author’s erotica writing style and how she crafted the sex scenes. Mark, the villain, likes rough sex, and he doesn’t seem to discriminate. Caston and Sabrina have a lot of sex, but it is tender love; romantic and sweet. Depending on your personal taste of erotica, you will get it all with this novel. BDSM “Sub” play -check, tender love making -check, sex with strangers -check, girl on girl -check. You get the drift.

Overall, I give this novel 3/5 stars. If you are interested in a novel with a strong alpha male, a damsel in some serious distress, soooo much drama, and lots of sex, you should give this series a chance!


Purchase, here!

About The Author

I am a mommy of two, wife to an amazing man, and full time employee. Life is crazy and busy! I started writing again during a group write on a Facebook group. They brought back my passion for writing that I haven’t felt since high school.

Starting this process was tedious and nerve-wracking, but my amazing ladies and my fabulous husband have inspired me to take my love for writing to the next step.

My current books are Have I Told You, I Won’t Give Up on You, A Very Merry Black Hollywood Christmas, all part of the Black Hollywood Series. Coming Soon will be Give Me All of You, book 3 in the BH Series.

Coming later 2015, One in a Million. New Characters, New story, Standalone! More information coming soon.

AWRW Book Review: Agent I1: Tristan (The Dire Agency) by Joni Hahn + Book Freebie!

18777275Raised in the art of warfare, Former Navy SEAL, Tristan Jacobs, has always been a force to reckon with. Now that D.I.R.E. has successfully implemented his scientific enhancements, he’s a walking weapon. Unstoppable, as long as he stays focused. No relationships.

When ex-BUD/S teammate, Aidan Monroe, interrupts his long-awaited sabbatical to call in a favor, Tristan reluctantly fills the simple request: take out his sister’s fiancé.

One problem: Rachel Monroe – smokin’ hot, kind-hearted, and in desperate need of a protector. After the best sex of his life, Tristan’s afraid unstoppable is just a memory. Knowing Aidan’s temper, Tristan could be, too.

Rachel Monroe had a plan to help her mother. Her brother ruined everything when his gorgeous, super-agent friend teleported her to some forsaken island – and his bed. She’s drawn to him despite the fact he’s a professional agent, much like the people suspected of killing her father.

Now, his enemies have come to her small town, looking for vengeance.

Have they found more than they bargained for? Or, does the past have its own retribution in mind?

Credentials:
• Second generation Former Navy SEAL
• DIRE’s top agent
Enhancements:
• Teleportation
• Invisibility

ebook, 224 pages
Published December 16th 2013 by Joni Hahn (first published November 22nd 2013)
Genre: Sci-Fi Romance, Romantic Suspense, Sci-Fi, Romance, Military, Suspense

What’s It About?

Tristan, a former Navy Seal, works for the D.I.R.E. Agency as a super-agent. He has supernatural abilities, including teleportation and the power to become invisible. He has no family, and isn’t interested in falling in love.

Tristan’s friend, and former ex-BUD/S teammate, needs a huge favor; take out his sister, Rachel’s fiance. What Tristan wasn’t expecting was the challenge of his life; not falling in love with Rachel.

“Was she really standing on the Scottish shore, barefoot with the hottest man this side of sanity? A man that kidnapped her from her own wedding? A man that she had no business admiring because she was still engaged?”

Falling in love with Rachel makes Tristan a target, but he refuses to leave her side, even if it costs him his life…

“If I die, I want to die for something I believe in and take my word for it, there isn’t much out there. But you, Rachel, you’re worth dying for.”

Joni Hahn takes her readers on a wild ride, full of revenge, and romance, with a supernatural twist!

My Thoughts

First, I want to mention that I won this novel in a contest, mentioned I was a book reviewer, and promised the Author a review. I may not have picked it up otherwise, but I’m glad that I did. I don’t read a lot of science fiction, but the romance element made it enjoyable for me. From now on, I will give romantic sci-fi a chance!

Rachel wasn’t my favorite heroine of all time, and I didn’t jump into her character and live vicariously through her like I do with other books. I would have liked it if Rachel had more of a “bad ass” role, like Tristan. (And yes, I did picture Tristan and Rachel as Eric and Sookie. They are my favorite go-to couple :) )

Tristan however, was all that and a bag of chips! He was as tough as a $2 steak, but he showed his softer side too. I enjoyed his character.

I enjoyed the suspense of this novel. The author really does take her readers on a wild ride, and I am eager to continue the series.

Rating

Recommendation

I would urge readers who enjoy romance to check out this novel. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the science fiction element of this book!

And of course, if you enjoy science fiction, you should check it out!

Purchase

This novel is FREE on Kindle! Grab your E-copy, here!

About The Author

Joni HahnBy day, Joni Hahn keeps her secret decoder ring hidden while she works as a mild-mannered HR manager and accounting generalist. She believes the world can never have too many superheroes, and anxiously waits for the call when one will need help saving the world… or getting into his costume. Joni was born with a hopelessly tender heart and believes there is nothing more exhilarating than falling in love (Other than the rear shot of Chris Evans in The Avengers – that was pretty darn exhilarating). A native Texan, she thinks cowboys are the epitome of masculinity, and that country music is the other soul music.

Joni’s five-book sci fi romantic suspense series, The D.I.R.E. Agency, is available now. Look for Book 6, Agent N6: Dylan and Book 7, Agent U7: Keegan, available in 2015


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AWRW Book Review: The Naked Chef, by Author Diane Hernandez + Book Freebie!

24943095It was supposed to be a temporary gig; babysit the mischievous movie star and cook some food—easy peasy.

Chef Reggie Morales signed the year contract because she had just closed her restaurant and she needed a job to help support her family. There was no way Reggie could even consider working in someone else’s restaurant kitchen so soon after closing her own place. She knew the temporary gig would give her the time she needed to figure out her next move. However, the only move she could think about was the one she wanted her new boss to make on her.

Tracy Thompson was the gorgeous Hollywood talent agent who hired her as a domestic while she discreetly kept an eye on his brother. Tracy was a beautiful man who was equally polite as he was respectful, until one night after they kissed.

As a single mother, and restaurant owner, Reggie had had little to no time to ever even consider a romantic relationship, and that wasn’t about to change even with the less rigorous schedule. Not as long as Tracy had a girlfriend. It had been a long time since Reggie gave in to her carnal desires, but one vulnerable night, Reggie gave in to Tracy’s seduction. She knew it was wrong, however, she had no idea it would change her life forever.

Diane Hernandez’s debut provocative novel gives readers a look at what happens when the “stars” align and you find love in your own backyard.

Published February 23rd 2015 by Erotic Romance Book Cafe

Genre: Erotic Romance

What’s It About?

Chef Reggie Louisa Morales is closing her L.A. restaurant, and filing for bankruptcy. Her lawyer informs her of a rich client of his, who is looking for a live-in private chef. His client happens to be Tracy Thompson, CEO of Thompson Talent Inc., and older brother of popular movie star, Tanner Thompson. 

Regina accepts the job, and quickly realizes that she has been hired to do more than cook for the Thompson brothers. Tanner has a secret, and Tracy needs Regina to befriend him, and report her findings back to Tracy.

Although depressed about the failing of her restaurant, Tracy wakes up a side of her that had been sleeping peacefully… But when Tracy has problems with his Victoria Secret Model girlfriend, Reggie feels nothing more than “convenient”, perhaps even a “rebound”.

Reggie can’t compete, and she is painfully aware of the fact that she is no supermodel. Is it possible that Tracy Thompson wants a future with her? Or was he using her body to get over his ex-girlfriend?

My Thoughts

For starters, I fell in love with the book cover immediately. Upon leafing through the pages, I noticed these adorable chef knives and pretty pink lettering. I absolutely LOVED the extra detail put into formatting this novel!

The Naked Chef is classified as an “erotic romance”, but the sex scenes begin approximately mid-story, allowing the reader to appreciate other aspects of the characters and how they relate to one another, which I liked. We know that Tracy is a control freak, and Reggie is a nurturer; characteristics which repeat themselves in the bedroom.

The Author had a blast throwing her readers for a loop I think. :) Just when I thought I had everything figured out, something tragic would happen, and I would be like, WHAT?! I can’t reveal too much, because I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone, but seriously, NEVER A DULL MOMENT between Reggie and Tracy!

To sum up, I would recommend this novel to women who enjoy erotic romance with heart. And yes, Reggie and Tracy do get their happily ever after. <3

fivestars
***In the interest of full disclosure, I received an e-copy of this novel from the Author, in exchange for a fair, thoughtful, and honest book review. This in no way influenced my opinion.

I have great news! This week, The Naked Chef is FREE on amazon! Grab your copy, here!

About The Author

Diane HernandezDiane Hernandez was always aware of the voices in her head. But, it wasn’t until her nest emptied, and the harried frenzy of being a wife, mother and chef was replaced with a quiet calm, did she listen to them. Once she realized those voices were telling her tales of love and lust, she started writing down the super sexy and provocative stories. Now, she has decided to release them for your enjoyment. When Diane is not busy taking dictation from her subconscious, she is teaching culinary arts, cooking, reading, gardening, shopping on Zulily or watching Project Runway.

 

Cover Reveal: No Place For A Lady, by Author Gill Paul @BlandAlice @AvonBooksUK @GillPaulAUTHOR

“In wartime, the rules of love change…”

Welcome, readers! Check out this cover reveal of Author Gill Paul’s latest historical fiction, No Place For A Lady!

1854. England is in the grip of a gruesome war.

Lucy Harvington, ill-educated beyond how to be a wife, has travelled to the Crimea with her handsome and impetuous officer husband Charlie.

As the day of battle dawns she can only pray her husband survives. If he doesn’tProduct Details image, what will become of her?

Dorothea Gray, volunteer nurse at the Westminster Hospital, is determined to follow her little sister Lucy to the front and to serve her country alongside her heroine Florence Nightingale and the pioneering nurses already risking their lives.

But neither sister could possibly have known the horrors they are about to witness – the courage, the cowardice, the danger – and the excitement – nor could they have guessed the risks they must take, the passion they will taste, and the simple fact that they may never see one another again …

If you love POLDARK, Gone With The Wind or the storytelling of Victoria Hislop, this is the perfect summer escape for you.

NO PLACE FOR A LADY is a beautiful story you will never forget.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Paperback: 400 pages

Publisher: Avon, (July 2nd 2015)

Preorder, UK!

Preorder, USA!

About The Author

Gill Paul is an author of historical fiction, specialising in relatively recent history. Her new novel No Place for a Lady, set during the Crimean War of 1854–56, is about the difficult relationship between two sisters, against a backdrop of the horrendous chaos of the British campaign and the development of nursing by Florence Nightingale et al. Other titles include Women and Children First, about a young steward who works on theTitanic, and The Affair set in Rome in 1961–62 as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton fall in love while making Cleopatra.

Gill also writes a fully illustrated non-fiction series of Love Stories, each containing fourteen tales of real-life couples: how they met, why they fell for each other, and what happened in the end. Published around the world, this series is enormous fun to research and write.

Gill was born in Glasgow and grew up there, apart from an eventful year at school in the US when she was ten. She studied Medicine at Glasgow University, then English Literature and History (she was a student for a long time), before moving to London to work in publishing. She started her own company producing books for publishers, along the way editing such luminaries as Griff Rhys Jones, John Suchet, John Julius Norwich and Eartha Kitt. She also writes on health, nutrition, relationships and anything to do with history.

Gill swims year-round in an open-air pond – “It’s good for you so long as it doesn’t kill you,” she claims – and is a devotee of Pilates. She also particularly enjoys travelling on what she calls “research trips”.

Website, Twitter, Goodreads

Guest Post by Ben Ready, ISIS: Inside The Army Of Terror, by Authors Michael Weiss & Hassan Hassan @MichaelDWeiss @HxHassan

A revelatory look inside the world’s most dangerous terrorist group…
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Initially dismissed by US President Barack Obama, along with other fledgling terrorist groups, as a “jayvee squad” compared to al-Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has shocked the world by conquering massive territories in both countries and promising to create a vast new Muslim caliphate that observes the strict dictates of Sharia law.

In ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, American journalist Michael Weiss and Syrian analyst Hassan Hassan explain how these violent extremists evolved from a nearly defeated Iraqi insurgent group into a jihadi army of international volunteers who behead Western hostages in slickly produced videos and have conquered territory equal to the size of Great Britain. Beginning with the early days of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the founder of ISIS’s first incarnation as “al-Qaeda in Iraq,” Weiss and Hassan explain who the key players are—from their elusive leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to the former Saddam Baathists in their ranks—where they come from, how the movement has attracted both local and global support, and where their financing comes from.

Political and military maneuvering by the United States, Iraq, Iran, and Syria have all fueled ISIS’s astonishing and explosive expansion. Drawing on original interviews with former US military officials and current ISIS fighters, the authors also reveal the internecine struggles within the movement itself, as well as ISIS’s bloody hatred of Shiite Muslims, which is generating another sectarian war in the region. Just like the one the US thought it had stopped in 2011 in Iraq. Past is prologue and America’s legacy in the Middle East is sowing a new generation of terror.

Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 17th 2015 by Regan Arts. (first published January 29th 2015)
Genre: Non-Fiction, Politics, War-Terrorism, History, Political Science, Religion
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Hello readers! My name is Ben, and my wife kindly gave me space on her blog today. Today I will be discussing Isis: Inside The Army of Terror, and my thoughts on this book. I have a strong interest in middle-eastern studies, and I found this book to be extremely educating.

ISIS Inside The Army Of Terror, by Authors Michael Weiss, and Hassan Hassan, offers a unique glimpse into the most organized and brutal terrorist group to date.  This book offers an unbiased view about the evolution of these violent extremists, who have hijacked the Islamic religion.

ISIS rose from the ashes of a nearly defeated al-Qaeda in Iraq, in the wake of the precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011. The rise of ISIS resulted from many factors, but not so much as the grievances of Sunni Muslims.

ISIS: Inside The Army Of Terror, begins with the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, which resulted in the overthrow of dictator Saddam Hussein, their patron, himself a Sunni Muslim. Saddam and his elite Baathist regime ruled over Iraq for 24 years before he was toppled. Sunnis are a minority in Iraq, but ruled over the majority Shiites for centuries.

Following the overthrow of Saddam, brought to power the Shiite majority in a government backed by the U.S. The immediate disbanding of the Iraqi army, and the purging of Sunnis from the government planted the seeds for the inevitable rise for ISIS.

After the overthrow of Saddam, a guerrilla war broke out by his loyalists against the Shiite government. They were shortly thereafter joined by foreign terrorists, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, founder of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Eventually, Zarqawi and his group were nearly defeated by U.S. and Iraqi forces. This included the death of al-Zarqawi in a U.S. airstrike in 2006.

Then, in 2010 the organization was taken over by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He used to his advantage the uprising in neighboring Syria against dictator Bashar al-Assad, to rebuild the organization and renamed it ISIS.

After, ISIS seized large swaths of territory in Syria, in June 2014. Baghdadi’s forces swept back into his native Iraq, which resulted in ISIS becoming a household name.

fivestars

What I Enjoyed about ISIS: Inside The Army Of Terror:

1.) Educational

2.) Easy Read
3.) Fully engrossing
4.) Extremely detailed
5.) Unbiased

What I Disliked about ISIS: Inside The Army Of Terror:
1.) That it ended, and it left me wanting more.


Click to purchase this #1 Best Seller in Iraq History, here!


About The Authors:

Michael WeissMichael Weiss Michael Weiss is a columnist for Foreign Policy, The Daily Beast, and NOW Lebanon. He is also a fellow at the Institute of Modern Russia where he is the editor-in-chief of The Interpreter, an online news and translation journal covering Russian foreign policy and the ongoing war in Ukraine. He has covered the Syria uprising since its inception in 2011 and reported from the front-lines of Aleppo in 2012 for Foreign Affairs magazine.

Hassan HassanHassan Hassan is an analyst at the Delma Institute, a research centre in Abu Dhabi, and a columnist for The National. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, The New York Times, among others. Nottingham University alumnus, MA International Relations. Middle Eastern geopolitics and religion.
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