Readers' Favorite

August 26, 2016

Free Rom-Com: Some Like It Perfect by Megan Bryce

cover of Some Like It Perfect
A woman who has nothing, Delia Woodson is desperate. That’s why she agrees to it. Because she’s a painter, no one is buying her paintings, and she’s desperate. She has bills to pay, food to buy. Someday she might actually want to live in her own apartment instead of on her friend's couch. And all she has to do is paint baby-faced angels on an indecently rich, corporate shill’s ceiling. Because he just can’t think of any other way to spend his money? And she just can’t think of any other way to make it.

A man who wants for nothing, Jack Cabot doesn’t want the mural his mother has commissioned for his office ceiling. He doesn’t want the distraction, he doesn’t want the silliness. He doesn’t want the artist now spending her days ten feet above his head. The artist with paint in her hair, distracting him. Bickering with him. Amusing him, until… Jack discovers he does want something after all.

Will cause you to Laugh Out Loud! ~ Debra Johnson

Good light reading ~ Maggie

It's a fun book ~ Deirdre Debrah

Start reading:

Buy Some Like It Perfect at Amazon

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Review: Chiaroscuro by Matthew S. Cox

by MK French

cover of Chiaroscuro
Father Antonio hunts creatures of darkness in Europe, from demons to vampires, and tries to save the innocent so that their souls can be saved. He tries to rely on his faith, but it's sorely tested when he is called to examine a child vampire named Sabine. Holy water and the cross don't trouble her, and she continues to pray to God to be a good person. He can't reconcile this with the horrible monsters he had destroyed, and in trying to prevent her destruction at the hands of other priests is mortally wounded. Sabine saves his life by turning him into a vampire, and Father Antonio spends the rest of the novel in search of a way to undo the curse so that she can find salvation and free her soul. His faith is tested many times, but his concern is always for Sabine and her wellbeing.

This is an interesting take on vampires, especially in the form of Sabine. Unlike Claudia from Interview With The Vampire, Sabine's mental state remains that of an eight-year-old girl. She is only dimly aware of the passage of time and events so that they slide together, and she doesn't have a good concept of time. It's definitely in keeping with that stage of development and a change from the stories that have vampires frozen in time physically, but continuing to develop mentally so that they would have adult longings and understanding. Father Antonio cares for Sabine as if she was his human daughter, and tries to balance his faith in God with the fact that he is a vampire and must have human blood to survive.

Descriptions are vivid, and really paint the picture of the surroundings in each time period. It sometimes feels as though there's too much description, like we're living a night in the life of a vampire. At other times, it really hooks you in. The boat ride feels almost claustrophobic, and the decay of different hiding spots is overwhelming. You feel just as frustrated with Antonio's inability to find any accurate information regarding vampires or vampirism. It's amusing to see how he fumbles with technology, or how wrong he was when he thought television would never take off. Sabine is a sweet child, for all that she has to drink blood, and her losses were just as devastating for me to experience along with her. The ending is sudden but fits the story and the characters well. I look forward to seeing more books by this author.

Buy Chiaroscuro at Amazon
(a free copy of this novel was provided in exchange for a fair review)

MK French, reviewer. Born and raised in New York City, M.K. started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

Book info:
available formats: ebook and print (322 pages)
published: July 2016 by Curiosity Quills Press
ISBN13: 978-1620077696
genres: horror, dark fantasy
source: author

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August 25, 2016

The Wolf of Winterthorne by Tracy Goodwin

cover of The Wolf of Winterthorne
Logan Ambrose has endured a tortured existence. After learning how to fend for himself at a young age, he eventually amassed power and wealth. His fortune came at an extreme cost, as rising from poverty often does. Branded, he wears his sins on his marred flesh. Each scar represents a past he doesn't wish to remember, the ruthless man he holds at bay, the tortured soul who would do anything to survive.

Bruised, battered and bloodied, Arabella Sutton is a woman lost. With no recollection of who she is or what terrors she suffered, she stumbles onto the imposing Winterthorne estate running from those who hunt her, haunted by the memory of her bloodied hands holding a blade and wearing a bracelet monogrammed with the initial S.

When she stumbles into Logan’s arms, he recognizes her instantly. She is one of two women he once knew: Arabella or her twin sister, Sybil. One he dared to love years ago, though he now despises them equally. Logan recognizes her bracelet as belonging to Sybil … the last woman he wished to see.

While Arabella must overcome the loss of her memories, she is drawn to the brooding and menacing master of Winterthorne who knows much more about her past than he is willing to admit. Meanwhile, Logan is assailed with memories of his lost love while offering protection to the woman he believes to be her vicious twin, the woman who once reveled in making his life miserable, all the while fighting against the strong attraction that pulls him towards his charge and the reminders of Arabella that she rekindles in his hardened heart.

As Arabella pieces together her past, scandalous secrets come to light and Logan will stop at nothing to save his beloved from the dangerous machinations of her evil identical twin. Together, Logan and Arabella rekindle a romance they long thought extinguished. Meanwhile, they concoct a grand scheme to unmask Sybil and rescue Arabella from her sister’s misdeeds.

Can they protect Arabella from peril and assure their future before it is too late?

Buy The Wolf of Winterthorne at Amazon

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Review: Two Little Lies by Gina Lamanna

by Elisa Hordon 

cover of Two Little Lies
Two Little Lies is the sequel to Gina Lamanna's One Little Wish, where we saw Scarlett and Mack reunited after 10 long years. So did Scarlett and Mack get their Happily Ever After? Or Did Mack disappear again leaving Scarlett behind in Luck, Texas to run her book shop? And did Mack's father get what was coming to him?

So many questions to be answered in one awesome book.

Scarlett finally has everything she wants: her book shop Happily Ever After is a hit in town, Mack's dad is about to go to trial and Scarlett cannot wait for that man to be out of their lives for good and then there is Mack, 'oh be still my beating heart Mack.' Scarlett really couldn't be happier to have Mack back in her life and loving her. So then why does she feel like something bad is about to happen? Is happiness really attainable? Or are we all just kidding ourselves? So many questions rattle around in Scarlett’s head and she has no idea how to figure it all out.

Scarlett has always been told her family is rotten to the core, but is this really true or are people in town too easily swayed by people with money and influence that they just believe what they here instead of believing the truth?

As a character, I feel in love with Scarlett from the very beginning. I love how she never gives up even when everything around her seems to be going against her. There is just a part of Scarlett that always holds onto hope. I really love how strong a person Scarlett is after everything she has been through in her life. Scarlett grows stronger and stronger no matter what awful things Mack's father puts her through. I also love that shy Scarlett is willing to let people into her life more and more. Sure she has Noelle and now Mack is back, but she also meets some new friends in this story and even though fans of Gina Lamanna will recognise Scarlett's new friends they are still new to Scarlett and I really enjoyed her opening up a bit to new people.

'They say one bad apple can ruin a barrel, but I hate to think that's true. People say I come from a line of bad apples, and I never quite know what to make of it. If the whole barrel is bad, is there really any hope for me.'

Scarlett is sweet but tough; she is strong and full of love, Scarlett tries to see the good in everyone and her love for Mack is all encompassing. Mack is, well, magical. Gina has a real knack for writing swoon-worthy book boyfriends that just make you want to keep reading and re-reading and Mack is no exception. He is everything: smart, gorgeous, strong and not afraid to show his romantic side.

'What if I don't want to date you forever?' He raised his hand, ran a finger across my lower lip. He watched my face for a response. When it didn't come, he pulled me even higher onto his lap. My dress floated around his jeans in a puddle of bright fabric. 'What if I want to marry you someday?'

That quote right there is why I love Mack so so much.

The sweetness of Scarlett and Mack is something I just love, Scarlett is such a loyal person to everyone she loves and she will do anything to make sure everyone she loves is taken care of even if it kills her. There really is nothing better than reading about someone with so much loyalty.

So what does Scarlett do when things start going wrong for everyone, especially Mack and Noelle, her two favourite people in the world? What can Scarlett do to make sure they are safe? Scarlett does everything she has to even if it means she is the one left alone and unhappy.

Mack's father is wreaking havoc again in Scarlett's life and she really wants to know what she ever did to Mr. Montgomery for him to hate her so so much. The truth shocks Scarlett, but it also gives her more understanding into the wickedly horrible man Mr. Montgomery truly is and I am amazed after reading this story at how Mack came out to be such an awesome guy.

Two Little Lies is a great story with some sweet tender moments, a lot of mystery and drama, twists and turns I did not see coming, new friends who will stand by Scarlett and Mack always and old friends who always have their back.

I'm not giving anything away. This story was awesome! Scarlett and Mack are back and better than ever even when everything seems to be falling apart and I really, really love old friends and new friends all rallying around Mack and Scarlett.

If you have not read One Little Wish start with that one then try Two Little Lies, They are great romantic mysteries.

Buy Two Little Lies at Amazon

Elisa Hordon, reviewerElisa lives in the Southern Highlands of NSW, Australia where she spends her days reading, journaling, painting, cooking and homeschooling her daughter. She has always been an avid reader, Elisa loves reading many genres of books except horror; her favourite genres would be mystery, romance, and paranormal. Elisa also loves pursuing many creative outlets if she is not relaxing with a book she can be found writing, sketching, painting or cooking. Elisa loves to share her obsession with books especially with her family and friends. Reading and reviewing books is a favourite pastime of Elisa’s.

Book info:
available formats: ebook (232 pages)
published: July 2016 by LaManna Books
genres: cozy mystery, romance

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August 24, 2016

Good as Gone by Amy Gentry

cover of Good as Gone
Thirteen-year-old Julie Whitaker was kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night, witnessed only by her younger sister. Her family was shattered, but managed to stick together, hoping against hope that Julie is still alive. And then one night: the doorbell rings. A young woman who appears to be Julie is finally, miraculously, home safe. The family is ecstatic—but Anna, Julie’s mother, has whispers of doubts.  She hates to face them. She cannot avoid them. When she is contacted by a former detective turned private eye, she begins a torturous search for the truth about the woman she desperately hopes is her daughter.

Propulsive and suspenseful, Good as Gone will appeal to fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, and keep readers guessing until the final pages.

Tangled family drama ~ Miss Bonnie

by turns gripping, insightful, brutal, depressing, and hopeful ~ Texasbooklover

Well written page turner mystery to the very end ~ suzyobsitnik

Start reading:

Buy Good as Gone at Amazon

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Stranger Days

by Ross M. Kitson

It should come as no surprise to those that read my alternate monthly blog that Stranger Things was a massive hit with me. For those who haven’t seen the smash Netflix hit of the summer, it tells the tale of mid-80s rural America and four young friends, one of whom goes missing. The story unfolds as a homage to 80s sci-fi horror a la John Carpenter and Stephen King, with a dash of Spielberg BMX riding fun to glue it together.

Stranger Things
Image from 
Now apart from the obvious nostalgia value for me (with regards the music, style and every 80s film I ever loved) you’d be wondering why a Brit growing up in Northern England (just south of the Wall) in the early 80s would relate to somewhere in the US mid-west with an alcoholic sheriff called Hopper? Well the clatter of polyhedral dice and the furious debate about whether to fireball or defend against the Demogorgon should solve that mystery as quick as Scooby Doo. Dungeons and Dragons, in all its first edition glory.  (If you haven’t watched the series yet, be wary of some minor spoilers below!)

Stranger Things Dungeon and Dragons
Image from 
I blogged in June about my childhood love of the hobby, and the influence it had on my writing, and indeed the writing of many others. Undoubtedly it had similar influences on the Duffer brothers who wrote and directed the eight episode story.

The first five minutes of episode 1 capture much of what invigorated so many with the hobby: the friendships, the excitement, the imagination. As a narrative device it works perfectly for the series.

Demogorgon figure
image from
The three remaining friends use their interest in fantasy and science fiction to rationalise the increasingly bizarre events of psychic powers, parallel universes (explained brilliantly), and… monsters. The repeat reference to the monster as ‘Demogorgon’ is a real nod to the 1st Edition DnD, before concern that all fantasy gamers were Satanists purged the following editions of demons and devils. In the version played in the show, Demogorgon is the Prince of all demons, in the lowest levels of the Abyss. His two mandrill heads and tentacles made for an awesome miniature, which was slammed onto the table in that epic first minute of the show, and that reappeared as a way of explaining ‘monsters’ to El in a later episode. To the players it is the ultimate monster to be conquered, and the banter between the friends is whether against such a creature it is better to defend or attack. It is this dilemma that drives the series through to its incredible finale.

In my childhood experience of DnD, I only experienced a mild amount of teasing and mockery. Our close-knit group who played, both when I lived in Leeds and later Peterborough, weren’t especially ‘outcasts’ or ‘alternative.’ Perhaps at that time, the UK was more acceptant of stranger hobbies. We all collected comics, loved sci-fi, played DnD, some had computers (ZX Spectrums, Atari, VIC 20s), most of us liked music we taped off the radio. The bullying that the three friends experience in the show is only partly related to their love of DnD, in that it gives the bullies recourse to call them names and mock their close friendships.

And of course, the general perception of DnD at the time in both UK and the US wasn’t entirely rosy. Much in the way that the moral majority rallied against heavy metal music, alleging its influence on the youth of America’s moral upbringing, mental stability and suicide rates, DnD came into the righteous cross-hairs. The now infamous Jack Chick comic strip, Dark Dungeons, tells the tale of Debbie whose participation in DnD games led to her involvement in a coven mainly to get her father to buy DnD books and miniatures. The DnD provoked suicide of a friend then brought Debbie back to Christianity and redemption. The strip culminates in a good old book burning, perhaps with some Harry Potter books tossed on to help the pyre (of course I’m being facetious, as Harry Potter book burning was a product of more recent enlightened times).

The unfortunate Debbie in Dark Dungeons.
Image from
As amusing as it seems now, there was serious anti-DnD propaganda back in the 80s, and even the famed Tom Hanks starred in the TVM Mazes and Monsters in 1982, wherein a latent psychotic illness is unlocked by the fantasy game, Mazes and Monsters, with tragic results. The film was based mainly on the sensationalism surrounding the disappearance of a student at MSU. The 80s were replete with pressure groups against DnD, in some cases driven by religious sentiments and the perception of DnD as an occult phenomenon, and in some cases bereavements and tragedy. Authors jumped on the bandwagon, associating a horrific murder with the fact the perpetrator (Chris Pritchard) was a Dungeon Master (and playing down his drug and alcohol addiction, and desire to inherit $2 million).

Yet most studies don’t indicate that players of role playing games have any higher rates of mental illness, suicide, or depression, but such studies are often ignored in the media. Did it appeal to the geekier cross-section of society? Certainly, as back then they would have been the ones with the imaginations, and the creativity to enjoy it fully. Nowadays these would be the same children and teenagers stereotyped as gamers, the same ones unfairly mocked about hunting Pokemon, by a society determined to deride anyone else’s interests and fun!

Yet it is these traits, of imagination, creativity, and ultimately comradery and friendship which are the core of the heroes in Stranger Things. It’s these characteristics that lead them to accept El, and to search for their missing friend when everyone else has given up. And that’s the message in Stranger Things, and that’s one of the keys to its success—Demogorgon or no.

(As an end-note, the series has got my kids fired up about playing old school DnD again, ironically dragging them away from the aforementioned Pokemon!!).

Ross M Kitson, features writer. Ross is a doctor, occasional blogger, full-time geek, and sporadic author of fantasy and YA sci-fi. Connect with Ross on Twitter.

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August 23, 2016

Find Young Adult Adventure in Dragonfly by Julia Golding

cover of Dragonfly

Princess Taoshira of the Blue Crescent Islands is appalled when she is ordered to marry Prince Ramil of Gerfal in order to unite their lands. And he’s not too pleased, either. They hate each other on sight. So, when Tashi and Ramil are kidnapped, they fear there’s no escape—from their kidnappers or from each other. Can they put aside their differences long enough to survive the ambush, unarmed combat, brainwashing, and imprisonment? And will the people they meet on their adventure help them or betray them to the enemy?

fast paced sweet read~ hollieanne
great fantasy with solid characters ~ CJ
less graphic Game of Thrones ~ Brittney

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Buy Dragonfly at Amazon

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