Readers' Favorite

July 21, 2012

Photo Challenge Day 21: 9 o'clock

What I'm typically doing at 9 pm
Photo a Day Challenge is hosted by Fat Mum Slim

The Line Between Here and Gone Tour Stop

The Line Between Here and Gone by Andrea Kane
Published June 2012 by Mira
ISBN13: 9780778313373
Read June 2012
Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon

I wasn't really sure what to expect from The Line Between Here and Gone. The premise is definitely one I'm drawn to: An infant is fighting for his life, he's only hope is his father who is presumed dead. But is he? However, Mira is an imprint of Harlequin and I was leary. You might remember my first encounter with a Harlequin imprint: The First Victim (see my review). I was worried that there would be the ill-placed sex scene that lent nothing to the story. Oh, and I don't normally read books in a series out of order and I noticed that this was the second book in the Forensic Instincts series.

What I found was something that easily could've been an episode of Criminal Minds (I haven't watched television in a number of years, but this book had me wanting to search for the show online). I thought  the mystery was well done. There was enough complexity that the reader couldn't easily figure it out, but at the same time enough clarity and details were provided that it didn't make it too heavy for a summer pool read (I read most of it while floating on a raft in the pool).

The characters were pretty likeable. I wonder if I had read the first book I would have understood their connections a bit better. For the first time, I understood the writing tip I often see on Twitter - Show don't tell. I felt like I was told that characters had an emotional connection, but I never felt it. The story was pretty insistence that Amanda felt a strong connection to Marc (not romantic, more I guess protective or safety), but I only maybe saw a glimpse of it towards the end. 

What about the sex scene I was worried about? They were there (yes, plural). The scenes with Casey and her FBI beau felt naturally placed and didn't interrupt the story. The liaison between two other characters was brief, but felt awkward to me. Overall, though I thought it was probably on the tamer end of things considering the publisher is a Harlequin imprint.

I really enjoyed The Line Between Here and Gone. I would definitely read more of the Forensic Instincts series. If you are a fan of Criminal Minds, like crime procedurals, and enjoy ensemble casts, then you should pick up a copy of The Line Between Here and Gone.

As part of the month long blog tour, there is an excerpt scavenger hunt. You can find all the tour stops, including the other pieces of the excerpt, here.

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July 20, 2012

Photo Challenge Day 20: Eyes

Photo a Day Challenge is hosted by Fat Mum Slim

Friday Fun with Jonathan Gould & Giveaway

Another author has taken up the challenge to provide a little fun for your Friday. Jonathan Gould has lived in Melbourne, Australia all his life, except when he hasn't. He has written comedy sketches for both the theatre and radio, as well as several published children's books for the educational market.

He likes to refer to his stories as dag-lit because they don't easily fit into recognisable genres (dag is
Australian slang for a person who is unfashionable and doesn't follow the crowd - but in an amusing and fun way). You might think of them as comic fantasies, or modern fairytales for the young and the young- at-heart.

Over the years, his writing has been compared to Douglas Adams, Monty Python, A.A. Milne, Lewis
Carroll, the Goons, Dr Seuss and even Enid Blyton (in a good way).

Today, Jonathan is talking about creating characters and not just any old character but creatures! He is also offering three creative people an ebook copy of his book Magnus Opum, see details below.

I was really thrilled when Donna invited me to do a post for Friday Fun. I love Fridays. And I love fun. So what could possibly be better than bringing my two favourite things together.

Of course, then came the tricky bit – I had to sit down and come up with some sort of fun idea. It couldn’t just be any kind of boring old guest post. So I figured, if I’m talking about writing (and that’s the main thing I seem to talk about most times), I should think about the aspects of writing that are really fun. And then it became easy, because I know for sure which part of writing is the most fun.

Coming up with characters.

I love coming up with ideas for new characters. I love figuring out what they look like and sound like, what they do and how they fit into the story. And I especially love coming up with names for them.

My recently released novel, Magnus Opum, is a good case in point. It’s my attempt at an epic fantasy, so it’s big and broad and sweeping. But, as it’s written by me, it also has its strange quirks and these are probably expressed most strongly in the characters. I wanted to get rid of the usual clich├ęd collection of wizards and elves and goblins and come up with my own collection of races, and that’s where I had a lot of fun. Here is a brief overview of some of them:

Kertoobies: the most important race in the story. They’re a bit Hobbit-like (let’s face it, Tolkien is my main reference point when it comes to epic fantasy) although rather than living in holes in the ground, they live in brightly coloured houses called kertottages. They spend a large amount of their time eating their staple diet of pflugberry pies, and (generally) prefer to have nothing to do with journeys and adventures.

Cherines: the most beautiful and wisest race and also the bravest and boldest warriors. They are, however, somewhat vain and spend a large amount of time looking at themselves in the mirror and singing songs about how great they are.

Glurgs: are opposite to the Cherines in every way. They are hideous and brutal and mean and ugly and scary. Also stinky and slimy and totally uncouth. They have extremely dubious personal habits as well, and we won’t even get started on their cooking.

Doosies: are terrible gossips. They have three ears, two in the normal spots and one on the back of their head, so they can hear everything that is said in the vicinity. They also have long, prehensile noses, perfect for sticking into other peoples’ business.

The Blerchherchh: this one is a nasty piece of work. A giant brute who waylays and consumes everyone who passes. However, unlike the Glurgs, his cooking technique cannot be faulted.

That’s just a taster of some of the weird and wonderful races and characters in Magnus Opum. But I’m not going to have all the fun here. Now it’s your turn. I’d love to hear other people’s ideas for characters, or new races in fantasy stories. Tell me what you’d call them, what they look like and what they do. For the three most original and creative ideas, I’m happy to provide a free e-copy of Magnus Opum.
Leave a comment below with your character/creature and way to contact you. Jonathan will choose a winner on Thursday (July 26).

A story about a little person in a very big world.

Magnus Mandalora never thought he would leave the safe confines of the small homely village of Lower Kertoob. He certainly never expected to end up in the middle of a long-running war between the saintly Cherines and the beastly Glurgs. But when circumstance places him in such a dubious position, he finds himself on a rollicking adventure where nothing is quite as it seems.

Magnus Opum is an epic fantasy that's slightly skewed - Tolkien with a twist. From
Find Magnus Opum at Goodreads, Amazon

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July 19, 2012

Photo Challenge Day 19: Animal

Photo a Day Challenge is hosted by Fat Mum Slim

Tips on Thursday: Subscribed Newsletters

I'm often asked where I find the information I blog about for my Tips post. A lot of time it is just something I've tried and feel like sharing. Other times a topic will show up in my Twitter feed and I will decide to put my two cents into the discussion (examples Review Ratings and Negative Reviews). I have a third source for content and it's also provides a lot of my "how-to" knowledge: newsletters. I thought today I would share the newsletters I subscribe to so that you too can be a blogging expert. Note, many of the newsletters are geared towards authors or business bloggers. The information, though, can be applied to book bloggers.

Social Media Examiner by Michael Stelzner - Tons of articles on using Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and more. There is usually an offer for a free ebook in the newsletter. Michael also hosts webinars and subscribers receive early notice and discounts.

52 Ways to Sell More Books by Author Marketing Experts - Geared towards authors, but also a lot of information on promoting and marketing which bloggers need to do as well.

Book Marketing Expert, another newsletter from Author Marketing Experts.  It has excellent content on social media and marketing. Again geared towards authors, I've found the research done on social media interesting and useful. Also, it can provide content for your blog through the reprint permission. I actually reprinted a Facebook article from this newsletter. To subscribe send an email to

Build Book Buzz by Sandra Beckwith - tips, tactics, and tools for generating media awareness and other buzz about your books.  Another newsletter more for authors, but has great tips on generating an audience which we would all like for our blogs.

Your Turn: I don't like to get tons of emails, so I've limited the number of newsletters I subscribe to. I'm sure there are many more out there with useful information. Which newsletters do you subscribe to?

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July 18, 2012

Photo Challenge Day 18: Plates

Photo a Day Challenge is hosted by Fat Mum Slim

Michael Drakich: Self-promotion (guest post)

I would like to introduce you today to Michael Drakich. He is the author of The Brotherhood of Piaxia. If you are a fan of fantasy, you might want to check out his book. I'll let Michael tell you a little more about it.

First, allow me to say thanks to Donna at Girl Who Reads for the opportunity to write a guest blog on her site. Currently, I write my own blog at Goodreads and figured writing one for this column would be a snap. I found it interesting how the change in perspective altered the message so. Rather than commentary about the publishing industry and the trials an author faces I find I need to dedicate more to the message as an advertisement of what and who I am and what I offer, a challenge to being modest. But when one really looks at things, all authors are expressive, else how could they produce the works they create.

What is a problem for many new authors is getting it right. The desire to speed the process for one’s work to reach the public sometimes oversteps the necessary requirements to ensure the product delivered is worthy. Though my first novel, Grave Is The Day, was traditionally published by a small publishing house, my latest venture, The Brotherhood Of Piaxia, is being offered as a self publication. One of the common perceptions of the public is that self published works are inferior in quality. When one is asked “What is the difference between perception and reality?” the answer is nothing if you believe it. It’s overcoming that stigma that has driven me to ensure this latest product is properly done. After a complete re-write and full editing job with my editor, Kate Richards, I feel confident that this work will not suffer the same interpretation that so many self publications do.

Early reviews have provided it with a measure of accolades.

“Great, well-rounded characters? Magic running rampant? A lost princess? Yes, this book has it all.”

“This is one of those high Fantasy books in which you will completely immerse yourself in.”

“If you love fantasy novels I think this is a great book for you.”

It is my hope that I have separated myself from the crowd.

Thank you for the opportunity to say hello.

Michael Drakich

Years have passed since the overthrow of the monarchy by the Brotherhood of Warlocks and they rule Piaxia in peaceful accord. But now forces are at work to disrupt this rule from outside the Brotherhood as well as within! Follow Tarlok, Savan and Tessia as their paths intertwine, with the Brotherhood in pursuit and the powerful merchant’s guild manipulating the populace for their own end. From
Find The Brotherhood of Piaxia at Goodreads, Amazon

July 17, 2012

Photo Challenge Day 17: My Addiction

Note: There are 8 stacks of books, one stack is obscured (you can just see a tiny bit of the corner)
 Photo a Day Challenge is hosted by Fat Mum Slim

High School: Fourteen

Fourteen by C. M. Smith
paperback, 164 pages
Published July 2011 by The Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House
ISBN13: 9781612130422
Read July 2012
Goodreads, Amazon

Fourteen has been sitting in my to be read pile since last summer. I met C. M. Smith at The Indie Book Event in New York City and picked up a signed copy. I had read one of her online stories and really loved it.

C. M. did a great job of capturing the bitterness and the inability of one to let go that a person who has been treated unfairly. Arianna is the object of bullying at her high school. She is overweight and a social outcast. I could identify with some of Anna's feelings. While the taunting ended in middle school, I was never part of the in-crowd. I would say I was tolerated in high school. 

Anna is paired up with the most popular guy in school for a science project. He also happened to be her childhood best friend and her current crush. Through the course of working on the project, Evan discovers the real Anna. You could say he has a light bulb moment. That moment that all people who are pushed around and mistreated hope for. That moment when the bullies realize you are a person. 

While Anna's feelings and action seemed real. I had a hard time believing Evan's actions and revelation. I never really felt any emotion between Evan and Anna either. Fourteen is a pretty short book and I think more time could have been given to developing the emotional relationship between them. 

Fourteen is exactly the type of book I would have read in high school. It had all the things that attracted me to stories like Face on the Milk Carton.

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July 16, 2012

Photo Challenge Day 16: Sign

Photo a Day Challenge is hosted by Fat Mum Slim
See all my Photo a Days on Pinterest
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Vlog #22: Books Galore


I started my new column at The Indie Exchange. Stop by to learn more about me.

I met author S. R. Johannes at a book signing held at Avid Bookshop on Saturday. Check out her blog. In addition to writing books for tweens and teens, she has a degree in Marketing and blogs about things authors can do to better market themselves.

Friday Fun winner: JC Andrijeski


At The Indie Exchange this week: Life in Death by Harlow Drake

Still time to enter to win Downburst by Katie Robison

New Books:

As if the devil’s food cake at her wake and the white fat pants she’s stuck wearing for eternity weren’t bad enough, fourteen year-old Gabby is quick to discover that Cirrus, the main rung of Heaven, is a far cry from the Pearly Gates. Here, SkyFones and InnerNets are all the rage. At her first Bright ceremony, G.O.D., the automated assignment system, spits out Angela Black, Gabby’s arch nemesis and longtime fencing rival. As a Bright, Gabby has to protect Angela, her assigned mortal, in order to move up through the training levels of heaven.

Back on earth, Angela starts hitting on Michael, Gabby’s crush and should-have-been boyfriend. Gabby’s pranks to quell the love are harmless at first until the school dance sabotage gets completely out of control. Then, Celestial Sky Agent, Lawrence, who happens to have anger management issues of his own, steps into reveal that Angela has big problems, and what she really needs is Gabby’s help.

Determined to right her wrong and ease her mother’s grief, Gabby steals an ancient artifact that allows her to return to earth for just one day. But if Gabby’s not careful, her well-meaning mission just might shift the very foundation of Heaven, Earth, and every place in between, causing the danger of the dark side to roam free. From
Find On the Bright Side at Goodreads, Amazon 

Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy, the brash cop from Tana French’s bestselling Faithful Place, plays by the book and plays hard. That’s what’s made him the Murder squad’s top detective—and that’s what puts the biggest case of the year into his hands.

On one of the half-built, half-abandoned "luxury" developments that litter Ireland, Patrick Spain and his two young children are dead. His wife, Jenny, is in intensive care.

At first, Scorcher and his rookie partner, Richie, think it’s going to be an easy solve. But too many small things can’t be explained. The half dozen baby monitors, their cameras pointing at holes smashed in the Spains’ walls. The files erased from the Spains’ computer. The story Jenny told her sister about a shadowy intruder who was slipping past all the locks.

And Broken Harbor holds memories for Scorcher. Seeing the case on the news sends his sister Dina off the rails again, and she’s resurrecting something that Scorcher thought he had tightly under control: what happened to their family one summer at Broken Harbor, back when they were children. From
Find Broken Harbor at Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon


A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism. From
Read my review. Find A Discovery of Witches at Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon

Arianna Weller has never fit in with the other kids at her high school. The daughter of the only lawyer in town, she's overweight compared to everyone else. Being picked on and put down by her peers has become normal—expected.

When she has a bad run-in with Evan, the boy she's had a crush on for 4 years, she decides to bide her time until she’s out of high school and off to college where she can start over.

Evan Drake has never had to worry about not being popular. He's on the baseball team, has more friends than he knows what to do with, and he doesn't care about anyone that's not in his "circle." So when he is forced to work with Arianna for a science fair project, he decides that dealing with her is just an unfortunate circumstance… until he sees what he's done to her.

The road to forgiveness and acceptance is not smooth. Overcoming peer pressure, jealousy, miscommunications, and social prejudices is never easy—especially in high school. Evan and Arianna have to learn things the hard way and answer one important question. Is it worth it? From
 Find Fourteen at Goodreads and Amazon

Hannah feels him stir. Holding an ice pack to her swollen face and stuck in a hospital elevator is not how she envisioned running into The Ex. She assesses the situation: Is she still in love with him? Is he still in love with her? They start kissing, then petting, then heavy petting, until she can feel his growing hardness against the inside of her thigh...

The Spring Season is a continuation of Hannah’s fall from perfect twenty-something grace. Hannah’s run-in with The Ex is more about icing her nose than melting her heart. She seems to be making all the wrong decisions about all the right men; rejecting the doctor who makes her vagina quiver for Mr. Smyth who turns out to be tall, dark, and sophisticated...with just one problem. The unexpected twists would drive any woman to the opposite side of nice girl, which is exactly what happens to Hannah. But a bad girl can have some fun along the way. From
See my review of Vol 1 Winter Season. Find Sex, Life, and Hannah Vol 1 Spring Season at Goodreads and Amazon

When a girl that social worker Kari Marchant places in foster care is brutally murdered, she’s compelled to learn why. Her quest for the truth pits her against friends and coworkers. As Kari works to solve the horrific plot, more people die. She’s been targeted for death and she doesn’t even know it. How far should she go to learn the truth—even if it threatens her life?

When homicide detective Rance Nicolet meets Kari, his attraction to her is powerful—and the feeling is mutual. But things between them go terribly wrong when Kari’s old lover is found murdered with a letter from her in his pocket. The evidence against Kari is damning. Rance’s personal and professional lives collide. Does he blindly believe the woman he’s falling in love with or follow the evidence no matter where it leads? From
Read my review. Find Life in Death at Goodreads and Amazon


When a trained killer threatens ex-cop Travis Mays-and those Travis loves-he finds a skilled adversary and an unexpected fight.

After a high stakes gamble ends in personal tragedy, Travis walks away from years of training and a highly successful law enforcement career. Determined never to look back, he starts a new life and a new career, teaching criminology at the university and building a cabin in the idyllic Idaho Mountains. He hires a beautiful river guide, Jessie White Eagle from the Nez Perce tribe, to guide him safely down the Lochsa. The turbulence of the whitewater, however, is just the beginning of his troubles. Travis finds himself in the crosshairs of a killer-calling himself Creasy-bent on revenge.

This fast-paced thriller takes readers on a wild ride down Idaho's whitewater rivers, along the historic Lolo Trails once tread by the Nez Perce nation, and onto the city streets of California. Tighten your helmet. This ride never stops until the last shot is fired and the final body falls. From
 Find Revenge at Goodreads, Amazon

Professor Gabriel Emerson has embarked on a passionate, yet clandestine affair with his former student, Julia Mitchell. Sequestered on a romantic holiday in Italy, he tutors her in the sensual delights of the body and the raptures of sex. But when they return, their happiness is threatened by conspiring students, academic politics, and a jealous ex-lover. When Gabriel is confronted by the university administration, will he succumb to Dante's fate? Or will he fight to keep Julia, his Beatrice, forever? In Gabriel's Rapture, the brilliant sequel to the wildly successful debut novel, Gabriel's Inferno, Sylvain Reynard weaves an exquisite love story that will touch the reader's mind, body, and soul, forever. From
Read my review of Gabriel's Inferno. Find Gabriel's Rapture at Goodreads, IndieBound, Amazon

This Week:

Tuesday: Review of Fourteen by C. M. Smith
Wednesday: guest post by Michael Drakich
Thursday: Newsletters I subscribe to
Friday: Fun with Jonathan Gould & giveaway
Saturday: Review of The Line Between Here and Gone by Andrea Kane
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July 15, 2012

Sunday Shorts: Life in Death

Life in Death by Harlow Drake
Published February 2012 by Wine Not Publishing
Read July 2012
Goodreads, Amazon

Life in Death was an interesting short story. It was definitely a short, fast read. It is around 80 pages and I read it amidst a full day of shopping and attending a 2 hour book signing. When I started, I thought it was going to be like an episode of Law & Order: SVU. About 30% in, it was becoming more like Criminal Intent. Finally, at around half way I thought "this is just psycho."

I've read some dark and twisted stuff in my day, but for how short this story was there was just too much going on. It was like the author was going for a bit of shock and awe. However, the short story format did not yield itself well to such a complicated web of interconnected characters and events.

I read Life in Death as part of the Sunday Shorts Read-a-long at The Indie Exchange. The discussion has been interesting. We all found parts of the story confusing. For me, timing seemed to be off. I wasn't sure how things fit together on the timeline. One of the bloggers involved mentioned that it was like reading the highlights of a murder mystery, which I agreed with. Others commented that it seemed like a detailed outline. It was like the author had particular scenes in mind and then just kind of made some thin connections between them. I think the point we were all trying to make was that neither the story nor the characters were fleshed out well enough.

The book had great potential and the plot was definitely something I read and enjoy. I think had a plot thread been deleted and a bit more background on the character provided this would have been an excellent short story. At the same time, I could see the author expanding the story into full novel length, answered many questions we had about the characters, and made better connections between the plot threads.

If you are part of a book club looking for a short story, I would recommend Life in Death because the discussion it has generated amongst those of us taking part in the read-a-long has been great.

Sunday Shorts is a weekly meme featuring short stories, fast reads, or cheap books. Cabin Goddess is the hostess.
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Photo Challenge Day 15: Finger

Photo a Day Challenge is hosted by Fat Mum Slim