Thursday, February 28, 2013

Favorites: Almost a Turkish Soap Opera

One aspect of Almost a Turkish Soap Opera that I enjoyed was getting a glimpse into the Turkish culture. I have lived all of my life in the western United States. There is not a strong Turkish presence in New Mexico, so I had very little knowledge of their culture and practices. 

The novel was a wonderful introduction to the Turkish culture. Anne-Rae painted a very vivid picture of her characters' lives and how their upbringing and the pressure from family and culture affected their decisions and lives. Even when a certain aspect was unfamiliar to me, or different from what I would expect, she did a very good job of explaining the reasoning and making it seem familiar to the reader. 

Stay up to date on Anne-Rae's projects by connecting on FacebookTwitterGoodreads, and her Website

Almost a Turkish Soap Opera is available from Amazon

Guardians Inc.: The Cypher Book Blast


A chance reading of a newspaper ad will send 16 year old Thomas Byrne into the world within our world.

Following the ad he will find Guardians Incorporated. A seven thousand year old organization charged with protecting the balance between Magic and technology.

Through their guidance, technology has kept Magic at bay since the Renaissance, but the balance is shifting and soon all those creatures we've driven into myth and legend will come back with a vengeance.

To protect the present, Guardians Incorporated needs to know the future and to unlock the future
they need a Cypher.

Book Trailer

Guardians Inc.: The Cypher is FREE on Kindle, Nook & iBooks

USA Book News 2012 Finalist -Young Adult Fiction

"Rosado-Machain brings a light, humorous touch to themes of teenage love, loss and betrayal wrapped up in a tasty package of magical coming-of-age."
~Kirkus Reviews

"It's like Julian Rosado-Machain took everything that I love about middle grade children's fiction and slammed it into one awesome, well-paced fantasy"
~Emi London

"The Cypher hooked me from the beginning. And kept my attention right through to the very end."
- Heidi Roth

Get Your Copy for FREE

Author Julian Rosado-Machain

Julian has enjoyed pizza in three continents, holds a degree in graphic design, built armored vehicles and computers, handcrafted alebrijes and swears has seen at least one ghost.

He is the Co-owner of Hacienda de Vega Restaurant in San Diego, California and enjoys the sun with his wife, three children and cat.

Book Blast Giveaway
$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 3/13/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Leap Into Books Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the 
Leap Into Books Giveaway Hop
February 28th to March 7th
Co-hosted by Jinky is Reading

As a part of the hop, I'm giving away 1 ebook copy of 
"Escaping Fate"
Turning sixteen should mean driving, dating, and breaking curfew. It should never mean certain death. Arrabella's excitement for her upcoming birthday is swallowed up by not only her dismay at being moved to a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere, but by the terror of the dreams that assault her every night. Stalking her dreams, the raven haired beauty warns her, taunts her, as she is paraded toward her death. 

Desperate for answers, Arrabella turns to her grandfather, the only one willing to delve into her family's dark past. Warning her that once she takes the first step, there is no going back, Arrabella's grandfather begins to unwind their awful heritage. The only joy she finds in the week leading up to her death is meeting Tanner Wheeler, a young man she barely knows but is immediately drawn to. 

A story of selfish betrayal reaching back to an age of merciless gods and blood sacrifice, Arrabella's world is sent into a deadly spiral.

Enter to Win Now!

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Interview: Anne-Rae Vasquez

Today we have the pleasure of hearing more about Ann-Rae Vasquez's novel, Almost a Turkish Soap Opera

Anne-Rae Vasquez   Twitter: @write2film

Almost a Turkish Soap Opera, a novel adapted into an award winning feature film and web series. Details of the film and web series are at:
1. What was you inspiration for this book? I wanted my novel Almost a Turkish Soap Opera to shine a light on the popularity of Turkish TV series and their popularity in the Middle East, Europe and Asia. The Turkish soap operas are full of drama, action, romance and cultural conflicts which I am certain North American readers will find entertaining.

2. Would you classify your writing as plot driven of character driven? The story is character driven but has a strong plot line. The characters face the obstacles that many new immigrants face when they first arrive in a new country.

3. Can you tell us a little about your main character? Adel Emre is an attractive fair skinned, blue eyed Turkish 25 year old man from a middle class Muslim family in Istanbul. He dreams of leaving his dead-end life in Turkey to seek opportunities and wealth in the USA. Completely fed up with his father's weakness to stand up to his grand uncle to demand for the land and property owed to him from his father’s inheritance, Adel is determined to be successful financially and will do anything to achieve this.

4. Which of your supporting characters was the most challenging to write? I did not find any of my supporting characters challenging to write. I had imagined all the characters very clearly in my mind before writing the story. Every character has a part to play in moving the story forward so it was not difficult for me to focus on each character. I loved bringing out the character's personality to focus on their weaknesses or fear to either bring humour to the scene or to add some cultural drama. 

5. Without giving away too much, tell us a little about the main conflict in this book. Adel and Kamil, two young good looking Turkish men try to immigrate to North America. Adel's
ruthless grand uncle arranges him to marry Yonka (his spoiled obnoxious cousin) in exchange for his immigration status in Canada. The problem is Yonka and Adel hate each other. The drama heats up even more when Adel has an affair with Nora, his beautiful English teacher which ruins Yonka's plans. And to add to this, his best friend Kamil has a big secret of his own. How did his life turn into a Turkish soap opera?

6. Why did you choose this genre? I chose cultural fiction and soap opera genre because I have always been fascinated with learning about other cultures and languages. I have been scribbling poetry, short stories, cartoons ever since I was in Kindergarten. In grade school, I started making my own satirical audio shows, based on my cartoon stories, which focused on a multicultural, multi-generational family's every day trials and experiences in Canada. The stories were based on my own family life where two different cultural traditions always made for drama at home between my parents, my aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins. I recorded the weekly shows on my ghetto blaster at home, acting out the voices of all the characters. I shared the audio cassettes with friends and family who enjoyed them so much, they encouraged me to make more.

7. What do you hope readers take away from this book? I also wanted to share with readers the struggles that new immigrants face as they try to survive in a new world with only the
basic things in life. 

8. Who are your favorite authors? Anita Daimant author of The Red Tent and Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner are two of my favourite mainstream authors. I have a growing list of indie authors who I am growing very fond of such as Owen Choi author of Tendrils of Life, Cid Andrenelli author of The Burqa Master, Osman Gulum author of Climbing Mountains, Khaled Talib author of Smokescreen and most recently DelSheree Gladden, author of the Destroyer Trilogy.

9. Do you have any interesting rituals or habits when you write? The only ritual I have is making sure I'm watching a good TV show while I'm writing. Without some visual or auditory stimuli, my mind usually goes blank.

10. Can you tell us about any future projects? I am currently writing a series of fictional novels called Among Us which delves into the world of the supernatural and how it intersects with the every day lives of seemingly ordinary people as catastrophic events around the world lead to the end of times. I have made writing the novel also a transmedia project where I have six readers and four authors participating in a role-playing alternate reality writing project. Basically I have assigned each of them a character from the novel and then give them a weekly mission. I describe to them a scene in the current chapter and then ask them 2 questions. If they answer the questions well, the outcome of the scene will be weaved into the storyline.

I wanted to make the writing experience to include my fans and my author friends.  I didn't realize how successful it would be.   Feel free to join in the fun by participating in the Truth Seeker missions or if you prefer lurking, that's okay too.  Go to:  for more information.

Stay up to date on Anne-Rae's projects by connecting on FacebookTwitterGoodreads, and her Website

Almost a Turkish Soap Opera is available from Amazon

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Introducing: Anne-Rae Vasquez

Today we're getting to know a little more about Anne-Rae Vasquez, author of Almost a Turkish Soap Opera

"Anne-Rae Vasquez, freelance journalist for Digital Journal, author and filmmaker, wrote the novel and screenplay Almost a Turkish Soap Opera (feature to be released on DVD in December 2012), Salha's Secrets to Middle Eastern Cooking Cookbook Volume 1, Gathering Dust - a collection of poems, and Teach Yourself Great Web Design in a Week, published by (a division of Macmillan Publishing). Almost a Turkish Soap Opera is her feature screenplay and film directorial debut. She had an interest in the fine arts and participated in theatre and drama as a child. Later she started writing and producing and acting in her theatrical projects. She eventually pursued a career in Internet Publishing when the internet was still only text based. She foresaw that the internet was a platform for her to further express her creative skills and establish her career as an internet pioneer.

Anne-Rae was approached by MacMillan Publishing to write a book about web design. She, with co-author Paul Chow, completed "Teach Yourself Great Web Design" which was published by, a division of Macmillan Publishing which sold in major book chains around the world. She has since learned how to cook Middle Eastern meals and developed an interest in Arabic films. She loved the sound of the Arabic language and began watching Turkish soap operas dubbed in Arabic, which are very popular in the Middle East.

Anne-Rae completed the screenplay for Almost a Turkish Soap Opera in 2010. She directed the feature film, produced by Sababa Emporium Multimedia and Productions Services Inc.


Almost a Turkish Soap Opera, is an award winning feature film, and web series adapted from the novel, that captures the turmoil of two young modern Turkish men trying to make a home in the West but finding their lives have turned into a Turkish soap opera. Almost a Turkish Soap Opera, an independent film by Sababa Emporium Productions and AR Films is screening at film festivals and will be released on DVD in Dec 2012.   The film reflects on how Turkish soap operas have become very popular in the Middle East and now in Europe and how the West has influenced the Middle Eastern culture." 

Stay up to date on Anne-Rae's projects by connecting on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and her Website

Almost a Turkish Soap Opera is available from Amazon

Monday, February 25, 2013

New Book: Almost a Turkish Soap Opera

This week I am welcoming to my blog, Anne-Rae Vasquez, here to tell us a little more about her novel, Almost a Turkish Soap Opera!

"Adel and Kamil, two young good looking Turkish men try to immigrate to North America. Adel's ruthless grand uncle arranges him to marry Yonka (his spoiled obnoxious cousin) in exchange for his immigration status in Canada. The problem is Yonka and Adel hate each other. The drama heats up even more when Adel has an affair with Nora, his beautiful English teacher which ruins Yonka's plans. And to add to this, his best friend Kamil has a big secret of his own. How did his life turn into a Turkish soap opera?

An unusual phenomenon in the East is taking Arab and Eastern European homes by storm. Women, men, teens, even children are rearranging their lives to catch the latest Turkish soap operas on their televisions. Turkish soaps dubbed in many different languages have everyone in the East talking about their favorite soap. Even men who deny watching, when asked, are able to repeat word for word from the most popular shows. 

The novel paints a vivid portrayal of the lives and struggles of young modern Muslim adults trying to make a life in the West. The story will attract audiences of popular contemporary movies such as the Kite Runner and the Brick Lane. 

Updated information can be found at or

Almost a Turkish Soap Opera is available now from Amazon

Friday, February 22, 2013

Review: The Cross and the Dragon

Arranged marriages are a way of life in 8th century France. Alda knows this, but the thought of marrying the abusive and hateful Ganelon puts thoughts of joining a convent into her head. Serious thoughts. The only chance of escape seems wrapped up in Hruodland, the only one to show her respect and kindness. Plans begin to form in her mind to escape Ganelon and capture the attention of Hruodland, but this will put her on a path she never expected; one of love, pain, and difficult choices that may break her heart for good. 

The depth of reality captured in this book is commendable. The details of the homes, character's dress, politics, and religious beliefs were all carefully crafted. I had no problem putting myself in the time period and believing the events of the story. 

The importance of this diligence to story was that decisions and reactions that may have seemed strange to modern readers made sense because the background and setting were so well developed. Even for those readers who are religious, some of the choices Alda makes based on her religious beliefs are hard to take. I was begging her to rethink her choices at times, but I knew she wouldn't, and couldn't because of the world she lived in. Even though I didn't want her to make certain choices, I would have been disappointed if she hadn't. All of the characters were very believable and realistic, which made their story so much more compelling. 

The story overall was not what I expected at first. I had expected the courtship between Alda and Hruodland to last the majority of the book. There were several complications presented early on that it could have made it last, but in reality their courtship was actually a much smaller portion of the book. The rest focused on the struggles they faced after their marriage. For a while, I wasn't sure what the main theme of this book was. It took until about halfway through the book before I felt I really got to the meat of the conflict, but even though the pacing was a bit slower than I usually like, I was interested in their journey thanks to the great characters and well crafted development. 

Aside from many of the characters' names being difficult to pronounce and a few fragmented scenes, my only real problem with the book was that I had a hard time connecting with Hroudland. He seemed to have quite intense mood swings that didn't always make sense to me and he was often easily swayed. His reactions were frequently hurtful to Alda. Others were able to see this, but he did not. This seemed to be more than a character flaw that made him more human. Alda made many choices that were difficult to take, but made sense because of her station and the time she lived. Hroudland just seemed slightly unstable at times and it made it harder for me to like him. 

Would I recommend this book? Yes, it had a strong background and well developed characters that readers will enjoy. 

Who would I recommend this book to? Mainly historical fiction readers. I think this would be a harder book for readers new to historical fiction to start with because the pacing is a bit slower than most commercial novels and the complexity of the historical aspect. 

The Cross and the Dragon is available from from Kindle on Amazon USAmazon UK, paperback (USand Canada), B&NKobo, and Indigo.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Favorites: The Cross and the Dragon

Aside from the beautiful cover art for this book, one of the aspects I enjoyed about The Cross and the Dragon was the depth of background put into this book. I was very impressed with the realistic setting Rendfeld created for her characters. 

Even though I am hardly an expert on 8th century France, it was clear that a considerable amount of research went into this book. The characters and their reactions stayed consistent throughout the book, and were backed up by the world Rendfeld had introduced readers to. Many of the choices the characters made seemed quite strange, but I believed they were choices a person of that time would truly make. 

I loved getting this look into the daily lives of people from so long ago and understanding better what life as like when power and education were limited to only a few at the highest level of society. 

The Cross and the Dragon is available from from Kindle on Amazon USAmazon UK, paperback (USand Canada), B&NKobo, and Indigo.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Guest Post: Kim Rendfeld

The role that religion plays in Alda and Hruodland's story  has such an effect on the characters' choices that it deserves a whole post dedicated to it. Kim Rendfeld is visiting today to give us a little more background on The Cross and the Dragon

Religion: A Part of Everyday Medieval Life

By Kim Rendfeld

Religion is important to the characters of The Cross and the Dragon because it played a key role in the lives of most medieval folk, who told time by the tolling of the bells for Mass. To ignore it would be literary malpractice.

The faithful believed in the power of prayer, a means along with magic to explain and exercise some control over their world. Need proof? Here are just a few examples I’ve found in my research about life in Carolingian times (eighth- and ninth- century Europe).

  • The Royal Frankish Annals are peppered with phrases such as “with God’s help” to describe a victory or “hateful to God” to describe an enemy. 
  • When Charlemagne’s father, Pepin, took the crown in a coup in 750, he first sought the endorsement of the Church. 
  • The divine was invoked to protect expensive objects such as books. One scribe wrote: “The book was given to God and His Mother by Dido [of Laon]. Anyone who harms it will incur God’s wrath and offend His Mother.” God’s anger was terrifying enough, but you certainly wouldn’t want to offend His Mother, whom you often asked to intercede for you. 
  • Saints’ relics were precious. If a nobleman was swearing his fealty, he might touch the golden box with the relics. Saints were to be respected. There is a story of a man being struck dead after mocking a saint.
  • One of the most vivid examples of faith is found in the rituals the Franks performed before their war with the Avars in 791. Barefoot priest said litanies for three days, and the Franks abstained from meat and wine or paid alms. King Charles wrote a letter to his queen asking her to make sure the litanies and abstentions were done at home. 

Clearly, the Franks wanted God to be on their side, both in this world and the next.
Like us, medieval folk feared death, or rather the afterlife for people who misbehaved. Unlike us, they could not avoid thinking about their mortality. Half of the babies died before age 5, childbirth was so risky expectant mothers were urged to confess their sins before they went into labor, and war and famine were constant threats.

On top of that, clerics did not hesitate to remind the laity of purgatory or the Last Judgment or the devils circling the bed of someone who is dying.

Yet what might strike modern readers, especially Christians whose clergy encourage them to study the Bible, is how knowledge about Scripture lay in the hands of an elite few.

Among the Carolingians, only a few people could read and even fewer could write. Holy books were written in Latin, the language of the Church. The laity, often not the most attentive or polite audience, had to no choice but to rely on the teachings of priests, many of whom didn’t understand Latin, either. So, the folk did not often question the clergy’s authority.

My heroine, Alda, is typical of the Frankish laity. To ensure her husband’s safety, she will follow the common practice of giving him a charmed amulet in addition to praying for his safety. Able to read only a few words, she can recite some Latin prayers but doesn’t know their meaning. And because she has never studied the Bible or other religious writings, she is left vulnerable to a heart-rending choice.

Carolingian Chronicles, which includes the Royal Frankish Annals and Nithard’s Histories, translated by Bernhard Walter Scholtz with Barbara Rogers

Charlemagne: Translated Sources, P.D. King

Daily Life in the World of Charlemagne, Pierre Riche

The Cross and the Dragon is available from from Kindle on Amazon USAmazon UK, paperback (USand Canada), B&NKobo, and Indigo.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Introducing: Kim Rendfeld

Let's get to know a little more about Kim Rendfeld, author of The Cross and the Dragon

"Kim Rendfeld has a lifelong fascination with fairy tales and legends, which set her on her quest to write The Cross and the Dragon.

She grew up in New Jersey and attended Indiana University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and English, with a minor in French. If it weren't for feminism, she would be one of those junior high English teachers scaring the bejesus out of her students, correcting grammar to the point of obnoxiousness. Instead, her career has been in journalism, public relations, and now fiction.

Kim was a journalist for almost twenty years at Indiana newspapers, including the Journal and Courier in Lafayette, The Muncie Star, and The News and Sun in Dunkirk, and she won several awards from the Hoosier State Press Association. Her career changed in 2007, when she joined the marketing and communications team at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. She gets paid to agonize over commas and hyphens, along with suggesting ways to improve writing, and thoroughly enjoys it. She is proud to have been part of projects that have received national recognition.

Kim lives in Indiana with her husband, Randy, and their spoiled cats.  They have a daughter and two granddaughters." 

The Cross and the Dragon is available from from Kindle on Amazon USAmazon UK, paperback (USand Canada), B&NKobo, and Indigo.

Monday, February 18, 2013

New Book: The Cross and the Dragon

This week we have the talented Kim Rendfeld talking about her novel, The Cross and the Dragon, and historical fiction novel that tells the captivating story of Alda and Hruodland. 

"A tale of love in an era of war and blood feuds.

Francia, 778: Alda has never forgotten Ganelon's vow of vengeance when she married his rival, Hruodland. Yet the jilted suitor's malice is nothing compared to Alda's premonition of disaster for her beloved, battle-scarred husband.

Although the army invading Hispania is the largest ever and King Charles has never lost a war, Alda cannot shake her anxiety. Determined to keep Hruodland from harm, even if it exposes her to danger, Alda gives him a charmed dragon amulet.

Is its magic enough to keep Alda's worst fears from coming true--and protect her from Ganelon?

Inspired by legend and painstakingly researched, The Cross and the Dragon is a story of tenderness, sacrifice, lies, and revenge in the early years of Charlemagne's reign, told by a fresh, new voice in historical fiction."

Praise for "The Cross and the Dragon"
"Kim Rendfeld has an addictive style of writing. The strong characterization... held my interest, and I took particular pleasure in the originality of the setting. The Cross and the Dragon is a book I truly enjoyed reading." 
Roberta Gellis, author of the Roselynde Chronicles

"This sweeping epic... [is told] in an elegant, convincing manner. The author gives us... realistic and likeable characters, making it a pleasure to dive in to a multi-layered tale."
Publishers Weekly (manuscript review, 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition)

The Cross and the Dragon is available from from Kindle on Amazon USAmazon UK, paperback (USand Canada), B&NKobo, and Indigo

Friday, February 15, 2013

Review: Poker Face

This is the moment in Ruby's life where she will either make a change that will save her, or continue to live a life of pain and abuse. She takes a chance, a reactionary choice to a bully's words, and steps in a new direction she hopes will get her away from her abusive father and give her a chance at some semblance of normalcy. When it turns out that this new life involves some very dangerous people, Ruby must choose between staying loyal to new relationships or running for safety. 

The themes of this book are quite compelling. Ruby faces abuse from her father, sexual intimidation from a young man who is supposed to be her friend, interest from a coworker that she very much wants to return but knows she shouldn't, and a boss that domineering but seems to be trying to help her while at the same time pulling her deeper into a dangerous world. The main storyline of this book kept me interested from start to finish. Each character was well crafted and had qualities that I could relate to. I cared about what happened to Ruby and Danny, and even Mr. Alessi. I was very invested in what happened to them from early in the book. 

The relationships between the characters was what really made them shine. Ruby finagles her way into the law office, and Mr Alessi is the first to catch onto her trickery. Rather than toss her out, he sees her potential. He knows she can become something more than a troubled girl, but that hardly means he takes it easy on her. He often goes back an forth between trying to protect her and help her grow and berating her for mistakes. It's more than a little confusing to Ruby at times, but that made them both more human. 

Ruby and Danny, her coworker, is another compelling aspect of this book. Danny is several years older than Ruby, and Ruby is still a minor, but the attraction between them is impossible to deny. What to do about it is the problem. Mr. Alessi forbids anything from happening, and Danny's struggle to maintain his distance was well written. I felt bad for him and Ruby, but the tension created was great. Their romantic struggle stayed pretty clean, as well, which I appreciated. Sutrman-Coombs did a very good job of keeping it interesting and anxious without resulting to graphic scenes. 

The mystery itself of who Mr. Alessi's dangerous clients are and what is going on with them was well developed. To me, it did take a little bit of a backseat to the characters' personal stories, but that speaks more to the strength of the characters than anything lacking in the storyline. I was interested in the truth behind these clients the whole time, and they certainly amped up the tension and worry factor in several places. There were several surprises that I thought were well done, as well. 

Overall, this was a highly entertaining book and I am eager to read more of Jessica's Sturman-Coombs works, but there were a few issues that will give readers some trouble. 

The editing in this book was, too be honest, a huge struggle. This book needs to be re-edited right away or it is going to put readers off in the first few chapters. It was consistently filled with grammatical and punctuation errors throughout the book and it was very distracting at times. 

Another issue was that the British school system, and other aspects of British life were not explained at all. For those unfamiliar with these areas, people like me, it was very confusing. I had no idea what was going on with the tests Ruby was supposed to take and why she wasn't still attending school. These really need to be broken down for non-British readers in order for them to get a better understanding of what Ruby is facing, and so they don't spend the first several chapters being confused. 

The last main issue I had with this book was that even though Ruby was a great character that I really enjoyed, she was not very realistic as an abused child. I have worked with abused children, and I have done a decent amount of research on abusive relationships for various books I've worked on. Ruby's reactions and attitudes do not match a young woman who has spent her life being abused. She is very willful and combative, rather than afraid and submissive like many abuse victims tend to be. 

To me, Ruby seemed to be the character that everyone wishes a young adult in an abusive situation could be. We all want them to be able to fight back and get themselves away from the person who is hurting them. In reality, that doesn't happen often enough. It is a very hard thing as a writer to make your characters do things you don't want them to do, like give in to their abuser and refuse to take an opportunity to leave. In this book, Ruby makes those choices that we as readers would want her to, but in the end readers know that isn't very realistic and something is lost for them in the connection to Ruby. 

Despite these areas that need improvement, Jessica Sturman-Coombs is a fabulous storyteller. She obviously has a very creative mind and the talent to capture readers attention and hold onto it. I will continue to read more of her work. The areas I mentioned that need work are small in comparison to the overall strength of her ability and her book. I am confident that these few items will improve as she continues to write and hone her skills.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, it is a wonderfully compelling story that will pull in many readers. There are some issues with the book, but I don't think they are enough to overpower the story. 

Who would I recommend this book to? This is mainly going to be for older teens (some of the themes are too mature for younger readers) and adults. There are elements that will attract mystery/crime readers, drama readers, and romance readers. 

Stay up to date on Jess's books on her blog and website

Poker Face is available now from Amazon US and Amazon UK

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Favorites: Poker Face

Relationships are always a challenge. Well written relationships have problems, ups and downs, and take turns readers aren't expecting. Ruby is swimming in relationship trouble in this book. Her father is abusive, which sets her on the path to getting involved with some dangerous people, but her new job as an office junior at a law firm provides even more opportunity for conflict. 

One of the most compelling aspects of this book is the relationships Ruby builds with her boss, Mr. Alessi, and her coworker, Danny. Both relationship are complex and messy. The emotions shared pull readers in and make them care about the characters. In turn, it's hard to not turn the page. 

Stay up to date on Jess's books on her blog and website

Poker Face is available now from Amazon US and Amazon UK

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

For the Love of Swoon Giveaway Hop!

Announcing the For The Love of Swoon Giveaway Hop
February 14 – February 20, 2013

As a part of the FOR THE LOVE OF SWOON giveaway, I am giving away 
Get ready for the release of the final book in The Destroyer Trilogy next month by entering to win the first two books in the series, INQUEST and SECRET OF BETRAYAL
Libby Sparks was born with a terrible destiny. The truth of who she is meant to be is something she has hidden her entire life, until her ritual Inquest reveals her as the prophesied Destroyer. Now Libby must prove to the world that she has no intention of destroying anyone before her eighteenth birthday or she will meet her death at the end of a Guardian blade. 
If that wasn't enough of a daunting task, add in the complication of a budding relationship with Milo, who may have hidden intentions, Lance, Libby's ex-boyfriend who once tried to kill her, and Braden, a Guardian whose focus on Libby may prove either the essential help they need, or the key to their failure. Relationships are never easy, but trying to figure out where her heart truly lies in the middle a mounting war in next to impossible. If Libby choose wrong, it may mean death for everyone involved. 
Enter to win INQUEST and SECRET OF BETRAYAL below!
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Interview: Jess Sturman-Coombs

Now let's get to know a little more about Poker Face and what inspired this book. 

1. What was your inspiration for Poker Face? Before writing Poker Face I had written a sci-fi series and a romance that I was trying to secure them with an agent. The agent I particularly wanted at that time claimed to be looking for a good legal thriller. I had never written a thriller before so I guess Poker Face was a bit of an experiment and a personal challenge for me. It wasn’t long before the characters felt so
real and exciting that my experiment had soon turned into four instalments. I’d like to say the agent went on to request a full or even partial submission, but I’d be lying if I did. I’m still very glad I queried her though because I now have a series that I’m very proud of.

2. Can you tell us a little about Ruby? Ruby is sixteen years old when we first meet her. She’s had it pretty rough with the absence of her mother throughout her childhood and living with an abusive, alcoholic father who
regularly raises his hands to her. She has had to grow up fast and work out all by herself how to tackle the obstacles that life throws her way. She is smart mouthed when she feels threatened, stubborn when she’s pushed, the most loyal of friends and very much in need of love and attention. On the outside Ruby is a hard nut to crack but on the inside she’s very insecure and lacking in confidence, with a gritty determination to change her depressing circumstances.

3. How does Ruby's home life affect her personal relationships with the men in this story? Mr Alessi, her boss, knows exactly how Ruby’s dad treats her. He’s heard the drunken
rants and aggressive outburst for himself, as well as seeing the physical signs that Ruby
tries to hide. He is strict with her because he wants her to do better, but he also shows her
compassion because he truly cares. Danny, her fellow work colleague, is difficult to start
with but later becomes a breath of fresh air in a stuffy life and office. He makes her laugh, he
stands up for her and he also puts her back together when she runs into trouble. The isolation
that stems from Ruby’s dad’s behaviour pushes her closer to the men in the story, as they
seek to provide where her father has failed.

4. Where does Ruby's motivation to seek out employment at a law firm come from? Ruby is a blagger and that’s how she’s learnt to survive. At school she spins stories to
hide the abuse and at home she spins stories to cover up her declining school grades.
Consequently, when a boy suggests she has nothing better to do than entertain him for the
summer, she does what she does best and spins. The lie is out of her mouth before she knows
it - apparently she will be too busy over the summer because she has a job in a law firm. Her
motivation to seek such employment is out of a mix of desperation for a better life and a
stubborn refusal to lose face in front of her peers.

5. As you were developing this book, how did you decide what type of career Ruby would end up in? I knew I wanted to write an urban novel and that I wanted it to be gritty and as true to a difficult life as I could possibly get. I knew what it looked and felt like but, as for the story, I was stumped. I kept coming back to the same advice ‘write about what you know’ and I
couldn’t seem to shake it. I graduated in law at the age of twenty-six and I had worked in law
firms from the age of eighteen. I left school with no qualifications at the age of sixteen and
I grew up without my parents from the age of ten. As a child I had to move from our cosy
little family home to a council estate where things were very different. There I had to learn to
stand my ground, harden up a bit and, when the odds were heavily stacked against me, run -
really fast! My experiences taught me a lot about people, friendships, family, danger and the
emotional and physical impact of major life changes. Suddenly I had my feisty young female
character, Ruby Palmer. She was going to go from street life to lawyer’s office, and she was
going to take all of her cocky little ways with her.

6. There is a romantic element in this book, but there are complications to share. Can you tell us a little about this? There is a budding romance between two of the characters that initially seems very unlikely. Ruby is like a car with no brakes, whereas her love interest is quite the opposite. He recognises that the three year age gap between them will prove less of an issue once she’s turned eighteen, but Ruby doesn’t like being made to wait. Having the control taken out of her hands makes her pretty mad and that results in fireworks. Mr Alessi is also a bit of a sticking point because, as far as he’s concerned, Ruby should be concentrating on a career. As a consequence, he keeps her super busy to keep her out of mischief.

7. Behind Ruby's personal story is the mystery of the case her boss in involved with. How does this mystery effect Ruby's story? The mystery of the case her boss is involved with leads Ruby into some very difficult and dangerous situations. Her life was a painful and sorry state before, but the work she becomes involved in is positively deadly. She finds herself trying to protect an appeal file with incriminating evidence on it, and goes as far as to risk her own life to save the new relationships she’s formed. Her life isn’t necessarily safer but it’s finally been filled with love, respect and loyalty, and she wouldn’t trade it for the world.

8. Who are your favorite authors? There are so many authors whose work I have absolutely loved and been truly inspired by. In the last few years I have really started discovering the big wide world of indie authors and there’s some really awesome work out there. Self publishing has shown me, if you try hard enough, you can get it spot on. I aim to keep trying, hard! My reading is really quite varied, from the hilarious Louise Rennison, the laugh out loud Helen Fielding, the exciting L. J. Smith, the inspirational David Nicholls and the very moving Esther Hautzig and Antonia White. I will read pretty much anything and the only thing I won’t read is gruesome horror, whether fact or fiction, because my dreams are disturbing enough.

9. Do you have any interesting rituals or habits when you write? Not really but I do have some annoying ones, like eating too many biscuits, drinking too much tea, not eating proper food, getting distracted by Twitter and Facebook and questioning my abilities ALL the time! If you asked me if I had any for a trip to the supermarket, I could give you a mega long list of really weird and wonderful rituals and habits that make the whole process so much more complicated than it really needs to be. For these reasons I do my weekly shop online!

10. Can you tell us about any future projects? I am currently editing my romance and aim to have that uploaded as an e-book in the next few months. I also want to start uploading my sci-fi/fantasy series. Although the Poker Face series will be available in paperback, as well as e-book, my other books will start as e-books and, if they attract some good reviews and feedback, may well move to paperback next year. I am also working on the third instalment of Poker Face for release in November.

Thank you very much for having me, DelSheree. I feel most honoured to be featured on your
fab Edible Bookshelf and very best wishes from the UK. It’s been a pleasure. Jess.

Stay up to date on Jess's books on her blog and website

Poker Face is available now from Amazon US and Amazon UK