Sunday, June 30, 2013

Books We Didn't finish - June edition

Just me today. Autumn didn't have any books that she didn't finish! 

Dream Nights with the CEO- Normally, I love stories about bosses and assistants who fall in love.  But this one was different.   I got about halfway and I decided it wasn't holding my interest enough to keep going.  I didn't like all of the dream sequences.  I didn't like the characters and didn't really feel any attraction between them when not in a dream.

Where'd you Go, Bernadette?- This may be an instance where I should have read the real book instead of listening to the audio.  I didn't like the narrator.  I also
didn't like the story.  The story is told  through gossipy e-mails and letters, none of which were amusing or even remotely interesting.  I now they are all supposed to lead up to why Bernadette leaves her family, but by the 3rd snippy and gossipy e-mail, I found I didn't care to find out why she left.

Saturday, June 29, 2013


Happy 3rd Blogaversary to US!  Can you believe that?   To celebrate our accomplishment and all your continued support.  We're giving away two big boxes of books.  This is going to be a mystery box (mainly because I haven't decided what all to put in it yet) but we'll each get a flat rate box from the Post Office and pack it full.

Contest will be open for two weeks
Open to US residents only (due to the size and weight of the boxes)
Fill out Rafflecopter below to enter" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 28, 2013

Joint Review: Mystery Writers of America Presents The Mystery Box

Edited by:  Brad Meltzer
published by:  Grand Central Publishing
publish date:  April 30, 2013

With this anthology, bestselling author Brad Meltzer introduces twenty-one original stories from today's most prominent mystery writers.  There's nothing more mysterious than a locked box. Whether it's a literal strongbox, an empty coffin, the inner workings of a scientist's mind, or an underground prison cell, there are those who will use any means necessary to unlock the secrets of...THE MYSTERY BOX.

I'm about 50/50 on The Mystery Box.  I thought there were some really good stories in this book.  There were a few that I skipped over though.  Then there were a few that I made it all the way through and just felt cheated by.  The rule was that each story had to have a Mystery Box.  In some stories the mystery box was very literal, but in some it was very subjective.

The stories I liked best out of this collection were "Waco, 1982" by Laura Lippman, "Heirloom" by Joseph Finder, "Mokume Gane" by Tom Rob Smith, "The Very Private Detectress by Catherine Mambretti and "Remmy Rothstein Toes the Line" by Karin Slaughter.
I am also about 50/50.  I didn't listen to all of the stories as I thought some were a bit boring. I think my favorites match Autumn's. I loved Heirloom. I thought it was really well written and creepy.  Waco, 1982 was the best out of them all.  

The thing I found hard to get used to was the different voices for each story.  I think that was what made me not want to listen to a few stories.  I didn't like the narrator.  It is interesting how each author interpreted the use of a box.  But, not interesting enough to make me like all of the stories.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Throwback Thursday: When Lightning Strikes by Rexanne Becnel

Author: Rexanne Becnel
First published in 1995 by Dell
Re-issued by Open Road Media April 2013

Abigail Bliss can’t  tell anyone  her real name. Her father insists on using an alias for their sudden move to Oregon—a turn of events that signals trouble. When bounty hunter Tanner McKnight kidnaps her, determined to take her to her wealthy grandfather in Chicago, Abby vows not to go quietly. This lawless, untamed man is everything her father warned her against, yet as they traverse the perilous plains, Abby comes to view her abductor as her protector. What will happen to the unexpected passion that burns between them when they reach their destination and Abby must face a surprising legacy that could keep her and Tanner forever apart?

When Lightning Strikes is a beautifully written historical romance.  It's the first book I have ever read by this author. After reading it, I know I'll be seeking out her other books!  Through the wonders of ebooks, now everyone has a chance to experience Abby and Tanner's romance.   I really enjoyed this book.  Being a western novel, the story remains timeless.  

Tanner and Abby's love story was very sweet.  Their fall into love was slow and a wonderful journey to read about.  I loved these two together.  Abby wants someone who can ignite her passions.  She knows Tanner is the man for her.  She sees beyond the tough exterior that he portrays to the the sensitive caring man he really is inside.  She definitely had her work cut out for her in trying to convince Tanner that he really was the man for her.  I loved the epilogue.  

Along with the romance,  I enjoyed the glimpse into the life that the characters lived in the 1840s.   I don't remember much from history class about the wagon trains to Oregon, but after reading this, I felt like I was there.  What an uncertain time it must have been.  Setting out on a months long journey, not knowing if everyone you left with would make it.  It really gave me a new respect for our ancestors who expanded our country.  This book is a throwback you definitely don't want to miss!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Blog Tour: Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective by Christine Amsden

Cassie Scot banner

Publisher: Twilight Times Books
Date of publication: May 2013

Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family’s reputation isn’t easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.

My thoughts:

I can always tell how much I enjoy a book by how fast I read it.  Cassie Scot: Paranormal Detective was a book I read in one sitting.  I was intrigued from the first chapter and kept reading because I had to know what was going to happen to Cassie next.

The characters were great.  I loved Cassie.  She has grown up the oldest in a family of seven kids. Yet, she is the only one with no magically abilities.  That had to be a tough life growing up. Despite this, she has spunk and is willing to go after what she wants. I felt so badly for here when her parents disowned her without a real explanation.  How sad!

I liked the world that the author has set up in the book.  I was expecting sorcerers and witches, but not vampires.  Really evil and not swoon worthy vampires.  I really liked that!  There are some great twists in the story that keep the reader guessing.  The ending leaves room for the next book and a hint that things aren't as they seem with Cassie and Evan.  I look forward to reading more about Cassie in the next book!

About the author:

Christine Amsden has been writing science fiction and fantasy for as long as she can remember. She here.) In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work. Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children. Her latest book is Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective
loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone. At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt's Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams. (You can learn more



Pump Up Your Book and Christine Amsden are teaming up to give you a chance to win a new Kindle Fire HD!

Here's how it works:

Each person will enter this giveaway by liking, following, subscribing and tweeting about this giveaway through the Rafflecopter form placed on blogs throughout the tour. This promotion will run from May 13 - August 16. The winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter, contacted by email and announced on August 17, 2013.  Visit each blog stop below to gain more entries as the Rafflecopter widget will be placed on each blog for the duration of the tour. Good luck everyone!


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Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective Virtual Book Publicity Tour Schedule

Monday, May 13 - Book reviewed at Sara's Organized Chaos
Tuesday, May 14 - Book trailer reveal at Margay Leah Justice
Wednesday, May 15 - Book spotlight at The Busy Mom's Daily
Thursday, May 16 - Character interview at Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews
Friday, May 17 - Book reviewed at By the Broomstick
Monday, May 20 - Interviewed at Review From Here
Tuesday, May 21 - First chapter reveal at Offbeat Vagabond
Wednesday, May 22 - Book reviewed at Offbeat Vagabond
Thursday, May 23 - Guest blogging at You Gotta Read
Monday, May 27 - Book reviewed at My Cozie Corner
Thursday, May 30 - Guest blogging at Miki's Hope
Monday, June 3 - Guest blogging at Janna Shay
Tuesday, June 4 - Guest blogging at The Book Connection
Thursday, June 6 - Book reviewed at Miki's Hope
Monday, June 10 - Interviewed at From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, June 11 - First chapter reveal at By the Broomstick
Wednesday, June 12 - Book reviewed at Waiting on Sunday to Drown
Thursday, June 13 - First chapter reveal at Butterfly-o-Meter Books
Friday, June 14 - Interviewed at Literal Exposure
Monday, June 17 - Book reviewed at Carol's Notebook
Wednesday, June 19- First chapter reveal at Inside BJ's Head
Thursday, June 20 - Book reviewed at Quilted Reviews
Friday, June 21 - First chapter reveal at Literary Winner
Monday, June 24 - Interviewed at The Writer's Life
Tuesday, June 25 - Guest blogging at Janna Shay
Wednesday, June 26 - Book reviewed at From the TBR Pile
Thursday, June 27 - First chapter reveal at As the Pages Turn
Friday, June 28 - Interviewed at American Chronicle
Pump Up Your Book

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Race Across the Sky by Derek Sherman

by:  Derek Sherman
published by:  Plume
publish date:  July 30, 2013

Caleb Oberest is an ultramarathon runner, who severed all ties to his family to race brutal 100-mile marathons across mountains. Shane Oberest is a sales rep for a  cutting-edge biotechnology firm, creating new cures for the diseases of our time. Shane has spent his life longing to connect with his older brother, but the distance between them was always too vast.

Caleb’s running group live by strict rules, but Caleb is breaking one of them. He has fallen in love with a new member and her infant daughter.  When Caleb discovers that the baby has a fatal genetic disease, he reaches out to Shane. On the verge of becoming a father himself, Shane devises a plan that could save this baby and bring his lost brother home. But to succeed, both brothers will need to risk everything they have. And so each begins a dangerous race that will push them past their boundaries, and take all of Caleb’s legendary endurance to survive.

In Race Across the Sky Caleb lives by a very strict set of guidelines laid out by his running mentor.  Everyone in his house must follow the rules or they'll be kicked out.  For Caleb, the idea of being kicked out of the house is unbearable.  He shed his old life so he could live his life running.  However, he's willing to break all the rules when he falls in love with a new house member and her infant daughter.  He starts the longest race of his life to save them.

Every now and then there's a book that has a profound effect on you.  This book was is for me.  I was telling everyone about this book.  I had heard about ultramarathoners before, but the idea was totally foreign.  This book really put into perspective the amount of sacrifice and self-discipline these people must endure. 

I was also impressed with the author's research into biotechnology.  The differences in pharmacology and biotech were explained very well.  This aspect of the book was interesting and there was a blurb at the end about the real disease and how to donate for research.  I always like things like that.

So all in all fantastic debut novel!  Highly recommended from me for those literary fiction lovers and sports lovers....maybe even those medical thrillers readers.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Review: Dangerous Refuge by Elizabeth Lowell

Author: Elizabeth Lowell
Publisher: William Morrow
Date of Publication: April 2013

On the surface beautiful, quiet Shaye has little in common with dark, dangerous Tanner. He's a suspicious big city cop come home to the historic Davis family ranch to settle his uncle's estate. She's working for an environmental conservancy that acquires and protects old ranches-and she wants to preserve the Davis homestead.

When the suspicious death of Tanner's uncle at his ranch throws the two opposites together, tempers flare and sparks fly. While they have trouble seeing eye to eye, Shaye and Tanner agree on one thing: they need to uncover the truth.

You all know I love Elizabeth Lowell.  She is one of those authors who I can go to for a great story and a hot romance   Dangerous Refuge is her latest offering.  While not her best, the book was enjoyable.  I liked the characters.  Tanner and Shaye were a good fit for each other.  Their romance was pretty quick and steamy.  My only problem with it, was that there wasn't the usual build up to the heat.  Instead of feeling the attraction  i was continually told that it was there.  I usually love this author's love scenes, but the ones in this book were a bit disappointing.

The mystery was fairly good.I thought the explanation for  Tanner's uncle's death was, while sad, kind of cool.  I wonder if it is actually something that could happen in real life.  There was a lot of action in the end of the book.  I liked how it was shown from multiple perspectives. The ending was a bit rushed and an epilogue would have been nice.  I think most fans will enjoy this latest.  

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Panic by Jeff Abbott

by:  Jeff Abbott
published by:  Dutton
publish date:  August 18, 2005

Things are going well for 24 year-old Evan Casher: his career as a documentary filmmaker is booming and his relationship with his new girlfriend, Carrie, couldn't be better. After an urgent phone call from his mother, he makes an unexpected trip home to Austin. Then the unthinkable happens. He arrives to find his mother brutally murdered, and narrowly escapes an attempt on his own life. Spirited away from the scene by an enigmatic mercenary with an agenda of his own, Evan is confronted with a shocking fact: his entire life has been little more than a carefully constructed lie.

This is one of Jeff Abbott's older books.  I liked his more recent Sam Capra series though so I guessed this one would be good too.  I guessed right.  

Evan gets a call from his mom asking him to come home, when he gets there she has been murdered.  He finds out that his mother is a spy and his father has been kidnapped.  Evan realizes that nothing in his life is what it seemed.  He has to decide whether to run and hide or stand and fight.

The whole premise of the book might have been a little far-fetched and unbelievable.  However,  I am generally one that can suspend disbelief for the good of the book.  I found the book to be a great thriller full of great characters and truly awful villains.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Review: Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts

Author: Nora Robert
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Date of Publication: April 2013

For more than three hundred years, Bluff House has sat above Whiskey Beach, guarding its shore—and its secrets. But to Eli Landon, it’s home…  A Boston lawyer, Eli has weathered an intense year of public scrutiny and police investigations after being accused of—but never arrested for—the murder of his soon-to-be-ex wife.

He finds sanctuary at Bluff House, even though his beloved grandmother is in Boston recuperating from a nasty fall. Abra Walsh is always there, though. Whiskey Beach’s resident housekeeper, yoga instructor, jewelry maker, and massage therapist, Abra is a woman of many talents—including helping Eli take control of his life and clear his name. But as they become entangled in each other, they find themselves caught in a net that stretches back for centuries—one that has ensnared a man intent on reaping the rewards of destroying Eli Landon once and for all…

Whiskey Beach is the latest offering from Ms. Roberts.  It's an enjoyable read/listen.  I listened to the audio book and really enjoyed the narrator.  The main thing that appealed to me were the characters.  I loved Eli. Any man who loved his grandmother as much as he does is a good man in my book.  He is accused of murdering his estranged wife.  He retreats to Bluff House to try to put his life back together.  I also loved Abra.  She was such a breath of fresh air.  The way she worms her way into Eli's life was very heartwarming. The peripheral characters were great and helped make the book interesting.

It wouldn't be a good Nora Roberts book without some suspense.  We actually get two mysteries in this one.  Who killed Eli's wife and who keeps digging for treasure in the basement of Bluff House?  I thought both mysteries were intriguing enough to keep my interest up.  Although, I did figure out the murderer pretty early on in the book.  The other mystery was a nice surprise and one not easy to solve.  If you are a fan of Ms. Roberts, you won't want to miss this one!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Giveaway: The Never List by Koethi Zan

On this first day of summer, we're giving away what I think is going to be one of the biggest books of the summer:  

The Never List by Koethi Zan.

I reviewed this book back in May and LOVED IT.  You can read my review HERE.

Want to connect with Koethi Zan?  Check out her social media links:
Twitter: @koethizan
Facebook:  Koethizanauthor
Spotify Playlist: The Never List

To enter please fill out the Rafflecopter below. (Details: US entries only. No PO Boxes)

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Throwback Thursday: All I want for Christmas by Nora Roberts

Author: Nora Roberts
First published in 1994 by Mass Market Paperback

Identical twin boys Zeke and Zach wanted only one gift from Santa this year: a new mom But convincing their love-wary dad that their music teacher, Miss Davis, was his destiny and part of Santa's plan wasn't as easy as they'd hoped--.

Who doesn't want a little Christmas in the summer?  I like Christmas and sometimes you need to have some holiday cheer, even when it is 100 degrees outside!  "All I want For Christmas" was included in the anthology,  The Gift ( Silhouette, 2007 ).  I found it on audio at my library.  It is a very quick listen, coming  in at only 3 discs.   It's a very cute and sweet story about taking chances at love.  

My only wish is that it would have been a longer story. I would have liked to see more of Nell and Mac falling for each other   The twins were adorable in their quest to determine if Nell is "The mom" sent to them by Santa.  Do they get their wish?  Listen and find out!

Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter

Enter Today - 6/10 - 6/22! 
Barefoot Summer Denise Hunter Giveaway

Author: Denise Hunter
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Date of publication: June 2013

Madison’s heart closed the day her twin brother died.

Since losing her twin, Michael, in a drowning incident, Madison has rejected the faith he lived by. Instead, she’s devoted her life to fulfilling Michael’s dream—winning the River Sail Regatta in their small Indiana town, Chapel Springs.

As she trains for the regatta, Beckett O’Reilly is teaching Madison to swim. But he’s keeping a painful secret from her—and as they grow closer, that secret threatens to upend their lives . . . and the lives of both their families.

Barefoot Summer is a perfect book for the season.  It is a beautifully written story about two people who come to terms with their pasts and start looking toward the future through their faith and trust in God.  I enjoyed the book greatly. 

Madison has never been able to really move past the death of her twin brother.  She has never really allowed herself grieve.  She believes that by fulfilling his dream of wining the local regatta, she will somehow be able to move on.  She soon finds out that God has other plans for her.  Beckett has grown up as the son of the town drunk.  Even though he has not followed in his father's footsteps, he still feels the sting of his childhood. I really felt for both characters.  I enjoyed watching Madison and Becket fall for each other.  Neither one feels that they are good enough for the other one.  They soon discover that until they move on, they can never really let their love grow.

One thing that I had a hard time with in the story was how Madison's parents handled the news about Michael's death.  While I understood their motive behind their choice, I thought it was incredibly irresponsible and selfish.  Had everyone known the truth, perhaps they would have been able to move on a lot sooner.

The ending was perfect. As I said earlier, this is a great story for summer.  Perfect for a relaxing day on the beach. There is a little hint as to a potential romance between Madison's sister Jade and a family friend.  I hope their story is next.

Check out what other people on the tour are saying! (Blog tour schedule)

About the author:

Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

Learn more about Denise at

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Review: If You Were Here by Alafair Burke

Author: Alafair Burke
Publisher: Harper
Date of publication: June 2013

Magazine journalist McKenna Wright is chasing the latest urban folktale-the story of an unidentified woman who heroically pulled a teenaged boy from the subway tracks, seconds before an oncoming train. When McKenna locates a short video snippet that purportedly captures part of the incident, she thinks she has an edge on the competition scrambling to identify the mystery heroine.

She is shocked to discover that the woman in the video bears a strong resemblance to Susan Hauptmann, a close friend who disappeared without a trace a decade earlier.  What would have been a short-lived metro story sends McKenna on a dangerous search for the missing woman, a twisting journey through New York City that will force her to unearth long-buried truths much closer to home-to her own husband, who seems to know much more about Susan than McKenna could have ever imagined..

If You Were Here is the type of book that I would have loved to finish in one sitting.  If real life hadn't stubbornly intervened, I would have done just that.  That is how much this book sucked me in.  McKenna is finally on track with her life.  She has a job she loves and a happy comfortable marriage.  When she thinks she sees an old friend who vanished 10 years earlier on a video, her life takes a sudden path down a dark road.  As she starts to hunt for answers, strange things begin to happen.  The video disappears, she is accused of fraud in her most recent magazine article and subsequently fired.  The FBI is searching her work office and people start dying.   McKenna begins to suspect everyone, even her husband.

 I really liked the characters. McKenna was a strong female lead who fought back and tried to get to the bottom of everything, even when no one believed her.  I also liked Scanlin.  Even though he believed he was right about Susan, he was willing to go back and look at his original investigation to see if he had covered all of the bases.  The only part that I didn't like was the relationship between McKenna and Patrick.  I wasn't really sure through most of the book that either was very happy in their marriage, even thought I was told they were. 

I don't want to reveal too much about the plot because that would ruin the story.  There are a few twists that surprised me. The plot was very well planned out with the reveals just at the right time. The ending was great. I definitely recommend this latest stand alone novel by Ms. Burke.  It's an exciting, fast paced book that will leave you with your head spinning.

About the author:

Alafair Burke is the author of "two power house series" (Sun-Sentinel) that have earned her a reputation for creating strong, believable, and eminently likable female characters, such as NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher and Portland Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid. Alafair's novels grow out of her experience as a prosecutor in America's police precincts and criminal courtrooms, and have been featured by The Today Show, People Magazine, The New York Times, MSNBC, The Washington Post, USA Today, and The Chicago Sun-Times. According to Entertainment Weekly, Alafair "is a terrific web spinner" who "knows when and how to drop clues to keep readers at her mercy."

A graduate of Stanford Law School and a former Deputy District Attorney in Portland, Oregon, Alafair is now a Professor of Law at Hofstra Law School, where she teaches criminal law and procedure. Her books have been translated into 12 languages.

Learn more about Alafair at

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Guest Post: Jo Sparks, author of The Birr Elixir

Welcome to author, Jo Sparks who joins us today with a guest post titled:  "A Tale of Perspective – and the Loss Thereof".  She is promoting her new book The Birr Elixir.  Welcome!

PublisherSparkes Productions
Date of publication: June 2013

Marra had never heard of Birr Elixir.

But when Drail of the Hand of Victory saw the words in an old book, she found herself agreeing to make it. Even lacking the right ingredient.

And after drinking it, the Hand of Victory defeated a Skullan team, something no one had ever done before. Now Drail walked the path his grandsire had walked, and Marra was offered a place as Brista, his potions mistress. She doubted her ability, but took the chance to escape her slave-like existence.

When she found a way to wake the mysterious sleeper, Marra wondered if she deserved the title after all.

But with Tryst's waking, ill luck and bad things suddenly dogged their tracks. Drail, being a man of action, saw only the good in people. Marra lacked his faith, but was frozen by her own timidity. When the time came to confront these enemies, would Tryst stand with them or against them?

Would it make any difference?

A Tale of Perspective – and the Loss Thereof
By Jo Sparkes

Years ago, heading off to college and terribly nervous about it all, I knew I needed a few things to make me different. To stand out, so to speak. Tarot cards were part of the plan, to give you an idea of how my mind works.

The big one was cultivating a love of NFL Football.

Being both a ‘Daddy’s girl’ and from the D.C. area, I’d grown up with the Washington Redskins. I knew the game, the names of the players, and thought it would give me a little edge in meeting all the other students.Particularly male students.

I hadn’t counted on my own obstinacy.

I threw myself into it, as with most things, with zeal. I watched all the football games and news, and grew proficient at picking winners. Several girls on our floor won the weekly pool, much to the astonishment of their boyfriends.

I entered it myself only once. You see, there was a guy I was interested in, and he loved football. He entered the pool that week as well.

At lunch on Monday he announced to our table that the football pool was tied. The game that night would come down to the tiebreaker – the selection of the final total score.Looking at me with a gleam in his eye, he said one person had picked 48, and the other 32.

I shook my head. “Pittsburgh and Philly – both strong defenses. Whoever took 48 is dead.”

Of course, he had picked the 48. And the 32 – the winning score as it turned out – was mine.

He never did ask me out.

The moral of the story? Maybe it’s not to get so focused on the immediate goal that we lose perspective on the larger task. Or perhaps that the male ego may indeed be as large as women claim – but our own can be pretty big sometimes.

Or, quite simply, that whatever you study in college, there’s truly money to be made in sports.

About the author:

A well-known Century City Producer once said Jo Sparkes “writes some of the best dialogue I’ve read.”

Jo graduated from Washington College, a small liberal arts college famous for its creative writing program, forgot about writing totally, until she had a chance to study with Robert Powell, a student of renowned teachers Lew Hunter and Richard Walter, head of UCLA’s Screenwriting Program.

She has written feature film scripts, scripts for Children’s live-action and animated television programs, a direct to video Children’s DVD, and commercial work for corporate clients. A featured writer on several websites, she was a member of the Pro Football Writers Association and (very unofficially) the first to interview Emmitt Smith when he came to the Arizona Cardinals.

Jo served as an adjunct teacher at the Film School at Scottsdale Community College, and even made a video of her most beloved lecture.

Her book for writers and artists, “Feedback How to Give It How to Get It” has received glowing reviews.

When not diligently perfecting her craft, Jo can be found exploring her new home of Portland, Oregon, with her husband Ian, and their dog Oscar.

Her latest book is the fantasy, The Birr Elixir.  Purchase your copy at AMAZON.

You can visit her website at or connect with her at twitter at  

Monday, June 17, 2013

Review & Interview: Then, Again by Karen Stivali

Welcome to author, Karen Stivali who is promoting her book, Then, Again.  Enjoy her interview with us after my thoughts on the book.  Be sure to check out her giveaway at the end of this post!

Publisher: May, 2013
Date of publication: Samhain

Sometimes you have to lose it all to find what you really need.

Photographer Kay Turner is dealt a double whammy when she flies home for her grandmother’s funeral to find her boyfriend with another woman. Now with two losses to mourn, she retreats to her newly inherited beach house to clear her head.

Everything at the beach is familiar: the sounds of the ocean, the scent of her grandmother’s perfume—and the irresistible smile of James Margolis. The man Kay spent her adolescence pining for is every bit as charming as she remembers.

My take:

This is the first book by Ms. Stivali and after reading Then, Again, I know it won't be my last.  I really enjoyed this book!  After reading a few disappointing books, it was a breath of fresh air.  I loved Kay and James.  They were just so cute together.  James was so swoon worthy. Imagine finally having your secret crush notice you?  When Kay and James meet each other in his father's fish shop, it is instant sparks.  Their love scenes were steamy and just right!  

Kay comes back to clear out her grandmother's home and get it ready to sell.  The book isn't just a romance, it's about finding yourself and getting perspective on life.  Kay uses her time at the beach to do just that.  I was so happy with Kay's decision in the end.  Their HEA was just perfect.  I look forward to more from this author!

Kari & Autumn: What inspired you to become a writer?

Karen:  My first memory of wanting to be a writer is from first grade. The teacher handed out one of those dittos where there’s a picture and you’re supposed to write a paragraph about what’s going on. Instead of a paragraph I wrote a seven page story. That probably should have been a pretty strong clue to me that I was eventually going to be a writer, but it took quite a while before I decided to pursue the dream professionally.

Other than that, every author of every book I’ve ever read and enjoyed inspired me. I love books that immerse you in a story and give you characters who you get to know so well it feels like they’re your friends by the time you’re done with the book. Those are the books I enjoy reading and will remember for years, so those are the type of stories I try to write.

Kari & Autumn: Where do you come up with the ideas for your books?

Karen: The shower. Sounds silly, I know, but it’s true. There’s something about the routine of being in the shower….shampoo, rinse, condition, shave legs….you’re sort of on auto-pilot and the warm water is relaxing…that’s when my brain is most likely to come up with a story. Once I see the initial idea I let it simmer until I can see the entire book play out in my mind, like a movie. Then I write down what  I saw.

Kari & Autumn: What exciting projects are waiting in the wings?

Karen: I have a few new projects I’m working on (several contemporary romances) but, more immediately, I have several upcoming releases. In June I have a short story, WHITE WEDDING, that will be in the Wedding Day Anthology coming out from Turquoise Morning Press. The characters in that short story are the same couple in my novels MEANT TO BE and HOLDING ON (White Wedding takes place in the time between those two novels).

In July, I’ll have my 4th release from Ellora’s Cave. DECADENCE is a very steamy erotic romance about a married couple trying to put some spice back into their marriage. DECADENCE is the first book in a new multi-authored series I pitched to Ellora’s Cave. All the stories in the Spice Rack series will involve couples who have purchased the fictional hot new item that’s sweeping the nation---it’s a spice rack but instead of herbs each jar contains a suggestion on how to spice up your love life.

My second Samhain release is due out on November 5. LEAVE THE LIGHTS ON is a friends-to-lovers story with a few surprises. Keep your eyes on my blog for more info!

Kari & Autumn: Who is your favorite literary character and why?

Karen: There are so many books I’ve loved it’s very hard for me to pick a single literary character who’s my favorite. If I had to choose one, however, I’d choose George Verdon from my favorite novel THE LAST CONVERTIBLE. Part of what makes that book so amazing to me is the fact that although it has a huge cast of characters, and you get to know them all so well you’ll swear you’ve spent decades with them, the entire book is actually told through George’s point of view. He’s the glue that binds them all to one another. He’s their record keeper, they’re secret keeper, their confident. No matter how many times I read the book (and I’ve read it a lot of times) I’m always floored that a first person account can allow you the depth of knowledge you get about every single character in the book. It’s just an awesome story and George tells it beautifully.

Kari & Autumn: Just for fun, if you could be any animal what would it be and why?

Karen: Definitely a cat, because I have two super spoiled ones and I think it would be pretty nice to just sprawl all around the house, nap whenever you want, and get your back scratched whenever the mood strikes you.

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About the author:

I write erotic romance (published by Ellora’s Cave) sexy women’s fiction (published by Turquoise Morning Press) and sensual contemporary romances (published by Samhain Publishing). I can also be found on twitter attempting witty banter.
Twitter: karenstivali

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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Review: Along Came Trouble by Ruthie Knox

Author: Ruthie Knox
Publisher: Loveswept (Random House)
Date of Publication: April, 2013

An accomplished lawyer and driven single mother, Ellen Callahan isn't looking for any help. She’s doing just fine on her own. So Ellen’s more than a little peeved when her brother, an international pop star, hires a security guard to protect her from a prying press that will stop at nothing to dig up dirt on him. But when the tanned and toned Caleb Clark shows up at her door, Ellen might just have to plead the fifth.

Back home after a deployment in Iraq and looking for work as a civilian, Caleb signs on as Ellen’s bodyguard. After combat in the hot desert sun, this job should be a breeze. But guarding the willful beauty is harder than he imagined—and Caleb can’t resist the temptation to mix business with pleasure. With their desires growing more undeniable by the day, Ellen and Caleb give in to an evening of steamy passion. But will they ever be able to share more than just a one-night stand? 

Along Came Trouble is the second in the Camelot series by Ruthie Knox. It takes place about 10 years after How to Misbehave. We do get a glimpse of where Amber and Tony have ended up in this one.  I always like to follow up with characters.

Caleb (Amber's brother) and Ellen were very cute together.  I loved how Caleb wormed his way into Ellen's life.  He was too cute with her son.  I did think that at times Ellen was a little too stubborn, but knowing her background with her ex, I had to cut her some slack.

The secondary romance was with Jamie and Carly was cute. But I thought that Carly took things too far in the end by dragging out the reconciliation.  How much more did the poor guy have to do to prove he was sorry?  The "press conference" was a really funny scene.

I look forward to reading Katie and Sean's story, Flirting with Disaster, next!

Review: The Apple Orchard by Susan Wiggs

Author: Susan Wiggs
Publisher: Mira (Harlequin)
Date of puiblication: April 2013

Tess Delaney makes a living restoring stolen treasures to their rightful owners. People like Annelise Winther, who refuses to sell her long-gone mother's beloved necklace—despite Tess's advice. To Annelise, the jewel's value is in its memories.

But Tess's own history is filled with gaps: a father she never met, a mother who spent more time traveling than with her daughter. So Tess is shocked when she discovers the grandfather she never knew is in a coma. And that she has been named in his will to inherit half of Bella Vista, a hundred-acre apple orchard in the magical Sonoma town called Archangel.

The rest is willed to Isabel Johansen. A half sister she's never heard of.

Susan Wiggs latest book was a wonderful story about family and hidden secrets.  I really enjoyed The Apple Orchard. Tess Delaney has grown up not knowing her father.  She is a successful finder of antiques.  Her life is very busy and she only has her eyes on the next promotion and treasure hunt.  When she finds out she has a whole other family that she never knew, her life is turned upside down. This is one of those books that reminds us all what is really important in life.  That what we really need to do is to stop and smell the roses (or apples) once in a while.  Take a breath and just be.  Tess's time at Bella Vista allows her to do just that.  As she discovers answers, she begins to see there is more to life than work.  

There is not only a great romance (I loved Dominic!).  There is also a mastery.  In order to save the estate, Tess and Isabel must find a lost Faberge egg that belongs to their grandfather.  While the book takes place mostly in the present, we are given glimpses into the past during WWII and the role the older generation played in the resistance.  At first it is hard to see how it will all fit together, but in the end it all wraps up nicely.  There is one twist that that I really liked and made the ending sweeter.

I definitely recommend The Apple Orchard.  I loved the ending and Tess and Dominic's HEA.  I hope that Isabel gets her own story!  

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Caretaker

by: A.X. Ahmad
published by:  Minotaur Books
publish date:  May 21, 2013

Back in India, Ranjit Singh commanded an elite army squad. But that was years ago, before his Army career ended in dishonor, shattering his reputation. Driven from his homeland, he is now a caretaker on the exclusive resort island of Martha’s Vineyard, looking after the vacation homes of the rich and powerful. 

Ranjit becomes the caretaker of a house owned by a powerful US Senator.  When Ranjit's apartment has a leak in a furnace, he moves his family into the Senator's unoccupied beach house.  One night some professionals break in and Ranjit's military training takes over.  He gets his family off Martha's Vineyard and back to the mainland, but they all become embroiled in a much bigger conspiracy involving the Senator and an antique doll.

This book was one that had a lot of really good points.  I really enjoyed the Martha's Vineyard location.  That part of the story was very well written.  I also liked the parts of the story about India and Ranjit's military history there.  However, about two-thirds of the way through I kinda lost interest in the story as a whole.

So I guess for a debut novel it wasn't too bad.  It might not have been an out of the park home run, but maybe like a good solid double.