Thursday, January 31, 2013

Favorites: Lie to Me

What first drew me to Lie to Me was the idea that three sisters could be blessed with special spiritual gifts, but one of these sisters' gifts appeared to be broken. 

Having such a blessing/curse would provide enough problems for a teenage girl, but adding in the confusion of your gift not working only makes the situation worse. The main character, Phoebe, begins the book harboring a certain amount of jealousy that her sisters' gift work wonderfully. Her often sour attitude reflects her emotional turmoil. 

Then, Phoebe is completely thrown when her secret desire to have a working gift is finally realized. The emotional battle that she faces proves that having a gift isn't all she thought it would be. This book is full of ups and downs. The reader is pulled along with Phoebe as she tries to figure out what to do with her new found gift without screwing up everything else in her life in the process. 

Lie to Me is available now from SmashwordsAmazon, and Barnes and Noble

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Interview: Angela Fristoe

Now, let's find out more about Angela's new series. 

1. Tell us something about yourself and how you became a writer.

Writing is something that I truly just started one random day. I'd never really considered it a possible career for myself. My sister was always the writer in our family. Once I started, though, I fell in love with it. I found an amazing writing community that was quick to tell me my first efforts sucked, but there was potential, and then helped me develop my writing style and let me grow as a writer.

2. Tell us about your new series.

A Touched Trilogy is a series following three sisters who were born having special abilities. Book One, Lie to Me, is Phoebe’s story as she deals with her gift of being able to discern lies finally emerges. She is faced with learning not only how to use her gift but also when. Book 2, Heal Me, is Lil’s story and will be available this spring. Lily’s is the healer of the family, but even she can’t heal everything and when someone close to her dies she struggles with how use her gift without hurting herself. Book 3, tentatively titled Watch Me, follows Chloe. Chloe can see the future and it’s always been black and white with her, but lately her visions are clouded with gray and when she has visions of a vicious attack she begins to wonder if maybe the future she sees can be changed.

3. What inspired you to write your series?

A Touched Trilogy really started as a thought about how great it would be to know when someone was lying. From there my husband brought up the concept of spiritual gifts that are discussed in the Bible. Even though my series isn’t Christian fiction, I did use those gifts to provide a frame work for the different gifts the girls and their family members have.

4. Tell us a little about your road to publication. Was it a long one? Do you have an agent? In your opinion are they even necessary?

Lie to Me is my second novel (Songbird was released 2011) and both have been published through Little Prince Publishing. LPP is a small independent publisher and I love the amount of control I have over my work. I am the final decision maker on everything, and they are there to support me on my publishing road. I don’t have an agent, but I am not against them. I think agents can be valuable in ensuring that you find reputable publishing houses and getting your manuscript entry into the bigger houses.

5. What are some books you would recommend or are looking forward to reading?

I am a huge reader and love to read and review YA books. As a Zombie fanatic (And yes Zombies are important enough to me that I capitalize them) I loved The Forest of Hands and Teeth series, as well as This is Not a Test. If you don’t like scary books, then Bad Taste in Boys is funny with Zombies. I’ve also been on a huge Divergent kick, and have read it a few times. There is so amazing world building along with an intricately developed plot. As for upcoming books, I have such a huge TBR list I can’t even start listing them. You can always check out my blog to see what I’m reading and what is coming up.

6. Where can readers find you? 

Lie to Me is available now from SmashwordsAmazon, and Barnes and Noble

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Introducing: Angela Fristoe

Welcome back to Angela Fristoe! Let's get to know a little more about this talented author. 

"Born in Northern Canada, Angela grew up on the Canadian prairies amid dreams of becoming the next Dian Fossey or a world famous flight attendant. Those, however, were never meant to be. Instead, she moved to Texas and then eventually beautiful Colorado where she divides her time between her family, writing and her other job, teaching.

Angela was the winner and double finalist in Romance category of The Strongest Start 2010 Contest hosted by Songbird, published by Little Prince Publishing, is Angela's first novel. Also published by Little Prince Publishing is Lie to Me, with the second book in the trilogy, Heal Me, coming Spring of 2013."

Lie to Me is available now from SmashwordsAmazon, and Barnes and Noble

Monday, January 28, 2013

New Book: Lie to Me

This week I am welcoming back a fabulous up and coming author. Angela Fristoe is here to follow up her heart wrenching debut novel, "Songbird," with the first book in her new series, "A Touched Trilogy." Keep reading to find out more about Lie to Me

"Phoebe Matlin has always felt broken. While one of her sisters sees the future, and the other can heal people, Phoebe has come to accept that her truth telling gift just doesn't work.

Then her best friend, Tonya, lies to her and Phoebe's gift flares to life. With Tonya pissed at her, being a Truth Teller suddenly doesn't seem like such a great gift. Although, it is nice knowing she was the reason her crush, Nathan, dumped his stalker girlfriend.

But in lies, intention is everything and Tonya's lies are a cry for help. The fear that her friend is covering darker and more serious truths is something Phoebe can't ignore. But knowing when someone is lying is the easy part. Now she has to decide what to do about it. And with Nathan and his doubts about her ability confusing things, finding a way to help Tonya isn't as easy as Phoebe thought it would be."

Lie to Me is available now from Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble

Friday, January 25, 2013

Review: Coming Flu

Nobody likes getting sick. Those first hints of a runny nose or fever bring a feeling of dread on a normal day. They inspire terror when you are living inside a quarantine zone teeming with a deadly flu virus. This is what the residents of La Bendita face. Knowing you could die at any moment is frightening enough. Add in the growing suspicions that the flu isn't the only thing killing people, and the situation becomes even more dire. There best hope is a retired scientist, Sarah, but time is quickly running out. 

Coming Flu takes the yearly flu to the next level, when a strain more deadly than usual begins dropping residents faster than anyone expected. The medical and scientific aspects of this story are very well researched. Greger's background in science showed through in her writing. I felt confident that what she was telling me was accurate. 

On the flip side of that, the balance between explaining and giving too much was sometimes blurred. Greger explained what CDC stands for several times, but then there would be several paragraphs of discussion on the types of DNA involved in virus replication or factors in host resistance. Even with my background in science, there was plenty that was over my head. For readers with less familiarity with these topics, I fear sections will not be understood very well. 

The characters in Coming Flu were all quite interesting. I felt they all had unique qualities and Greger did a good job of showing the different personalities and how they reacted to the quarantine and the threat of dying. The variety of characters kept the story interesting. Greger also did a good job of capturing the emotions of the characters as they struggled with their experiences. The medical staff, police, and residents were all effected. 

The mystery that develops alongside the quarantine storyline was interesting as well. I was a little surprised Greger pulled away from the flu epidemic to weave in an unrelated criminal story, but the mystery around the Petersen's was interesting. I felt the clues were subtle for the most part and it added a second layer to the story. There was aspects of the flu mystery that I didn't find to be as subtle. The connection to La Bendita and how the flu ended up there seemed fairly obvious right away. The Petersen mystery was a little stronger than the flu mystery, however, medical thriller readers may not be as pulled in by the Petersen mystery if it was not was they were expecting. 

There were some smaller factors, mainly to do with the level and quality of editing that were an issue for me as well. In general, the grammatical editing could have been better. It's something I've noticed consistently with this publisher. The internal thoughts of the characters occasionally got a bit lengthy, but the dialog was more of a hindrance for me. The dialog often felt stilted because of it's lack of contractions and the frequent use of exclamation points made it seem like the characters were screaming. Aside from the editing, there were also some sexual scenes that I didn't feel added a lot to the story and some bad language that may turn some readers off. 

Would I recommend this book? I would have to give this a tentative recommendation. Some readers are going to enjoy it, but I don't think it will appeal to everyone. 

Who would I recommend this book to? Straight up medical thriller readers may not get the focused story they were expecting, but there is still enough of a focus that those interested in the topic will enjoy it. The side mystery was interesting, so there is an appeal for mystery readers, but it also is not the main focus. I think this book will mainly appeal to readers who want both a crime mystery and medical thriller rolled into one. 

Coming Flu is available from Oak Tree Press and Amazon

You can find out more about JL Greger and her writing on her website

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Favorites: Coming Flu

When readers first pick up a medical thriller, it's hard to know whether you're getting a gory tale about the details of sickness and death, or a story driven more by the characters involved in the tragedy. I have never been a fan of gory, so I was pleased to see that Coming Flu focused more on the people trapped inside La Bendita than on the gritty details of the sickness and the deaths it caused. 

Now, that's not to say there wasn't any scientific discussion, because you'll definitely learn more about viruses and protocols, but it was the effect of watching people die and being able to do nothing to stop it that really draws readers attention. Greger showed how the residents were affected, but also the toll it took on the medical staff and police involved as well. The characters' emotions round out this story. 

Coming Flu is available from Oak Tree Press and Amazon

You can find out more about JL Greger and her writing on her website.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Interview: JL Greger

One of the interesting things about this crime thriller is that JL Greger has real world experience dealing with these types of situations. Today we get to find out more about Coming Flu and how the Greger's experiences helped shaped the story. 

1. What was your inspiration for "Coming Flu?"
 My inspirations are the discoveries in biology announced almost daily. In Coming Flu, I wanted to make people think. As a biologist, I know a serious flu pandemic, like the one that killed 20% of those infected in 1918-20, is possible. All it would take is one, or more likely four or five, mutations in a common flu virus.

I didn’t want to write an apocalyptic tome, but one with hopeful reality. That meant demonstrating the importance of scientific research is gaining control of the flu virus and the illustrating the limitations of modern medicine, especially when resources are stretched to the breaking point.

Does that sound dire? Dramatic? Scary” Coming Flu is a medical thriller, but it is
not gory. This is a story of those who fight to survive.

2. Can you tell us about the importance of the setting of this book? The residents of the gated, neatly groomed community of La Bendita in New Mexico assume that they are protected against crime and the afflictions of the poor, including inadequate medical care. Thus the quarantine of La Bendita, which protects the rest of the Albuquerque area from being exposed to the virulent Philippine flu virus, is a shock to their sensibilities.

3. The key player in this story is Sara, a retired epidemiologist. Can you describe her character and how she impacts the situation? Sometimes we (as readers and in our lives in general) are so enamored with the successes of those who treat the sick and track criminals, we forget their successes are dependent on people, like Sara, who find the important clues.
Sara is an epidemiologist, a scientist, by temperament and training. She’s focused and sometimes interacts poorly with others, tenacious to the point of being fool hearty occasionally, and realistic, except when it comes to her dog Bug.

4. Can you tell us a little about your own scientific background and how that influenced the story? I taught, did research on nutrition and toxicology, and served as an administrator at universities for more than thirty. However, I enjoyed applying the science in “exotic” locations. Hence I’ve consulted on public health and science curriculum in the Philippines, the Marshall Islands, Beirut, and the United Arab Emirates.

5. How difficult was it to know which items to explain in detail and how much technical information to use? I tried to give brief scientific explanation so that events were logical, not magical or unexplained. I assume some will say I gave too many details, some will say
too few.

6. There is a second storyline that develops in this book involving criminal activity. What made you decide to include this other storyline rather than just focus on the epidemic? Three reasons. First, I wanted to demonstrate that the nice residents of La Bendita were not immune to crime or disease. Second, I wanted to demonstrate how completely quarantines change lives. The logical response, at least for some, to the loss of freedom during a quarantine is to try to escape. Who would be better at planning an escape from a quarantine than an experienced criminal? Third, I wanted to make readers think. Who was the greater threat: the flu or a drug kingpin?

7. Who are your favorite writers? Michael Crichton, John Gresham. Although I generally don’t enjoy the paranormal, I loved the Harry Potter series.

8. Do you have any interesting habits or rituals when you write? Not really, but my dog Bug generally sits by me as I write.

9. Can you tell us about any future projects? Oak Tree Press will publish Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight, a medical mystery and sequel to Coming Flu, in March 2013.

Dr. Linda Almquist, Sara’s introspective sister, is investigating a “diet doctor” for
recklessly endangering his obese patients, while suspecting him of murdering
his partner. She might be wrong. The murders may be related to her boss’s past.
While Linda fears for her job, the police fear for her life.

I’m working on the third novel in this sequence, now tentatively called Dull the
Pain. But the title is apt to change because I changed the title of Coming Flu
three times.

Coming Flu is available from Oak Tree Press and Amazon

You can find out more about JL Greger and her writing on her website.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Introducing: JL Greger

Let's get to know a little more about the mind behind the Coming Flu, and what inspired this crime thriller. 

"J. L. Greger, as a biologist and professor emerita of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, enjoys putting tidbits of science into her medical thrillers and mysteries. Coming Flu (published July 2012) compares two killers: the Philippine flu and a drug kingpin trapped in a New Mexican community, which is quarantined because of the flu. Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight (to be published March 2013) will make you think twice before you begin your next diet."

Coming Flu is available from Oak Tree Press and Amazon

You can find out more about JL Greger and her writing on her website.

Monday, January 21, 2013

New Book: Coming Flu

This week I'm featuring a medical thriller! This is the first medical thriller to be featured on the blog, and the timing is just right. Keep reading to find out more about JL Greger's Coming Flu.

"A new flu strain – the Philippine flu – kills more than two hundred in less than a week in the small walled community near the Rio Grande. The rest face a bleak future under quarantine. One of the residents Sara Almquist, as a medical epidemiologist, pries into every aspect of her neighbors’ lives looking for ways to stop the spread of the flu. She finds promising clues – maybe one too many?"

Coming Flu is available from Oak Tree Press and Amazon

You can find out more about JL Greger and her writing on her website.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Review: No Evidence of a Crime

Kathleen Jackson has drifted from one city to the next, working on her education and trying to figure out where she belongs. Jim Jarrod dedicated his life to the DC police force, but after the strange circumstances of the death of his wife and partner in a car accident that left everyone in the department whispering and wondering, Jim is struggling to move on. So when Jim and Kathleen are made partners and stuck right in the middle of a high profile murder, working together to solve a crime that sees too nicely packaged gets off to a rocky start. The case only gets more complicated when evidence is discovered to have been tampered with and trying to figure it out may end up costing lives. 

The characters and the mystery itself were both well written. The characters, Jim and Kathleen, were complex, real characters that readers can care about and relate to. Both are struggling with personal issues, which effects their ability to work as partners. Their relationship changes throughout the book from awkward teacher and student, to one of respect, and eventually to real friendship. The progression of their relationship was very natural, and I found it was one of the more compelling aspects of the book. 

The only issue I had with the character development was with Kathleen and extremely unobservant nature. Now, there was a purpose for this, so I understand Vondrak's reasoning, but it could have been done more subtly. There were times when Kathleen came off as completely oblivious, where she could have been shown to be unsure instead and had to rely on Jim to figure something out. This way she would have still seemed competent, but not as good it reading people as Jim. 

As far as the mystery went, I enjoyed the main storyline. For the most part, I thought the book was well-paced and the readers were given enough information to keep them interested without making it too obvious. The only exception to this was the killer. I thought the killer's identity was pretty obvious from the first time he appeared in the book. However, his reason for the killing and the power behind it was a good twist, so I wasn't too bothered by figuring out who the killer was early on. Their was a lot of other mystery behind just who killed Victoria Young. 

Overall, I liked the story and the characters, and I enjoyed reading. However, I did have a few issues that keeps me from giving it a top rating. 

The initial pacing of the book was a bit slow. There were long sections of internal thought and dialog that slowed things down, and the amount and length of the explanations were a bit tiring at times. Vondrak tried to explain to readers about the processes of collecting and processing evidence, but it was occasionally too much. There were some sections where I found myself skimming the explanations so I could get back to the story. Readers need enough to understand the importance of what is going on, but not so many details that they get bogged down. 

My other issue was with the editing. There weren't a lot of mechanical errors, aside from not italicizing internal thoughts, but a stronger editor would have helped smooth out some of the issues that held back the book. The dialog was often stilted because of the lack of contractions and common phrasing. The amount of text written in ALL CAPS was very distracting and would have had better impact if italics had been used instead. 

"Head Hopping" is a huge pet peeve of mine. This is where the writer bounces between different character's points of view within a single scene. This is technically a big no-no, but even more important is that it is often distracting and confusing. For example, when Jim and Kathleen were questioning a witness and the witness's reaction was described, it wasn't always clear who's point of view observed this. Then when one of them mentioned it, but the other one didn't notice, it was confusing. If a reader has to stop and reread something because they aren't sure who saw what, the flow of the scene is broken and the reader is both distracted and confused, which is something to avoid. 

As a whole, this was an entertaining book with good characters and a pretty strong storyline. There are some smaller issues that could have been cleaned up to make it even better, but they don't stop me from recommending this book.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. The editing issues are outweighed by the characters and story. 

Who would I recommend this book to? It's definitely to appeal to regular crime mystery readers and police procedural readers who are interested in the forensics side of police work. Readers who aren't typically fans of the genre can enjoy this,too, because it of the good characters and story. There isn't a strong romantic element for romance readers, but there is hint of that possibly playing a bigger part in the sequel. 

No Evidence of a Crime is available from Amazon. "The Evidence is Clear" is also available from Amazon

You can also enter for a chance to win a copy of No Evidence of a Crime by entering on the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Favorites: No Evidence of a Crime

Sometimes with crime mysteries, the characters get lost in the details of the crime and the mystery they are trying to solve. That can still make an interesting story, but the mystery is always better when the characters come to life and readers connect. 

Vondrak did a good job with the relationships in this book. I felt concerned about the characters not only when they were in danger, but also just in general. I wanted them to make it through and not be screwed over because they were trying to o the right thing. I wanted them to find their places in life and be happy. 

Each of the two main characters had pasts that made it hard for them to fit in when the book starts. I enjoyed watching them change and grow throughout the story. In particular, the relationship that develops between Jim and Kathleen as partners kept me reading. They were both so independent in the beginning. The defined their roles in the partnership based on what others expected of them and what their duty was. It was interesting to watch them grow an develop a real partnership and friendship. 

No Evidence of a Crime is available from Amazon. "The Evidence is Clear" is also available from Amazon

You can also enter for a chance to win a copy of No Evidence of a Crime by entering on the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Guest Post:S. Connell Vondrak

In yesterday's author bio, Susan mentioned her extensive background in forensics. Today we're going to learn more about her work and how it contributed to novel No Evidence of a Crime

"When people ask me what I do for a living, I always get back, “Oh, you’re like CSI,” and I usually answer, “Yeah, something like that.”  But, in my mind, I am thinking, “It’s nothing like that.”  I remember in the movie Apollo 13, there was a quote: “That’s 3 hours of boredom followed by 7 seconds of sheer terror.” And that strikes a chord with me.  Forensics is not boring and there is never really any terror but the quote embraces the aspects of forensics most people don’t think about.  That AH HA moment where the evidence discloses its secrets is seen on TV after about 30 seconds of lab work but in real life it is usually preceded by many hours, if not days, of documentation of everything from the chain of custody to a detailed description of the evidence.  Lab work can take many hours of prepping the samples, running controls, pipetting standards and yet, it is a very interesting job filled with people dedicated to finding the truth.   

When I am writing, I am writing about the things that I know but I am also writing about the people I know, the relationships between officers and lab staff, the struggles that each has working though the evidence but also working through life, as we all do.  

I enjoy using forensics in my books but not all forensics is high tech or complicated science and I also try and show that in my writings.  When giving talks, I often start with “There are only three types of finger prints: Loops, Whorls and Arches.”  (This is the point where everyone looks down at their fingers.  Go ahead, you can too. I’ll wait.)  Loops are the most common by far and almost every loop starts its loop from the pinky then turns back toward the pinky, giving latent print examiners an idea of which hand the print is on before they start their comparisons.   Every person, who has fingers, could probably figure this out, if they spent a lot of time considering their finger prints.  It’s not high tech or complicated science but it represents the fundamentals of forensics which is observation.  I love to develop that quality in the characters in my books and hopefully in the readers that enjoy them."

No Evidence of a Crime is available from Amazon. "The Evidence is Clear" is also available from Amazon

You can also enter for a chance to win a copy of No Evidence of a Crime by entering on the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Introducing: S. Connell Vondrak

Let's get to know a little more about the mind behind No Evidence of a Crime. Today I'm welcoming S. Connell Vondrak to the blog. 

"Susan Connell Vondrak was born in Chicago, Illinois but split her childhood between the big city lights and a small town of Burke, South Dakota.  That contrast of riding the L to downtown Chicago and riding her bike down Main Street, Burke, developed a love of diversity and contrast which she has embraced all her life and shows in her writing.  Susan attended the University of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana, receiving a degree in physiology.  Determined to become a forensic scientist, she waited over a year and a half before a position opened with the Illinois State Police in the mid-1980’s.   She worked as a forensic toxicologist at the crime lab for almost twenty years before being appointed as the Director of Training for the Illinois State Police, Forensic Sciences Command and also was placed over the Research and Development Laboratory.  
Susan’s works are fiction but she brings a realistic aspect to crime lab mysteries through her knowledge of the crime lab’s role in police investigations.  Her novels allow the reader to follow along with the investigators, taking the clues and applying them to the case as the detectives do.   If you like mysteries where the evidence leads you to the truth, you will enjoy her mysteries."

No Evidence of a Crime is available from Amazon. The sequel, "The Evidence is Clear," is also available from Amazon

You can also enter for a chance to win a copy of No Evidence of a Crime by entering on the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 14, 2013

New Book: No Evidence of a Crime

 It's been a while since we've had a crime mystery on the blog, so this week I'm excited to welcome S. Connell Vondrak to The Edible Bookshelf. This week I'm featuring her novel, No Evidence of a Crime. Keep reading to find out more, and to keep a preview of the sequel, "The Evidence is Clear."

"No Evidence of a Crime, begins with the death of a congressional aide.  The two detectives assigned to the case quickly notice that the reports from the crime lab do not explain the facts they know to be true. As they look at the crime lab more closely, they realize the reports from the crime lab are not just wrong but designed to mislead the investigation.  With Washington, DC politics in play and a crime lab that can’t be trusted, they turn to a lone forensic scientist they believe they can trust and slowly work through the evidence of the case to find the real killer. 

The Evidence is Clear, is a sequel to No Evidence of a Crime.  It begins three weeks later, with the death of a Congressman but nothing appears as it seems.  The Congressman is shot with a gun, but the gun has not been fired in over twenty years.  The detectives have only met the Congressman a few weeks earlier but he has a picture of one of detective’s father which leads them to discover she is the focus of a congressional investigation, an investigation that sends her back home to a small town where she must face her past.   This book stands alone as a mystery, but the characters and their lives are woven between both books." 

No Evidence of a Crime is available from Amazon. "The Evidence is Clear" is also available from Amazon

You can also enter for a chance to win a copy of No Evidence of a Crime by entering on the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Wisteria

When Wisteria Kuti's two choices are track flesh eating zombies or go it alone in the wild, becoming a tracker wins out pretty easily. She has the weapons and skills she needs to track the creatures. That doesn't mean she's safe, though. Despite her training, Wisteria ends up facing what she thinks are her last moments. When the mysterious Bach shows up and rescues her, not only is Wisteria dazzled by his good looks, her whole world changes. Things she thought she knew and understood become muddled as she begins to realize her hometown is hiding secrets and telling lies. 

Wisteria is not your typical slasher-type zombie book. Those can be fun, but this book has the added benefit of having a very intriguing storyline. The world Wisteria lives in is dark, a little frightening, and far from simple. Wisteria's home town of Smythe is a great setting for this type of book. It's clear that there is more hiding in the dark corners of this town than the reader is expressly told. I enjoyed the tone and thought it fit very well with the story. Bach's world is a little more complex. He lives outside of Smythe, yet remains uninfected. He comes from The Family and sees himself as above the Terrans. Bach's world is a little more vague than Wisteria's. I hope the author plans to delve into and explain a little more about this world in the next few books. If not, readers may be left a little confused. 

The characters in Wisteria were very well developed. Wisteria herself is a complex character who readers can relate to and care about. She's more of an average girl, but she's strong and has a good personality. She does tend to be a little emotional, especially when it comes to Bach, but for those who know teenage girls, that's pretty true to form. Bach comes of as a little less likable than he could have been. His elitist attitude is a bit much at times, but hopefully this was done in order to give him room to change and grow throughout the series. The secondary characters were well written, as well. They filled in the gaps of the book and rounded out a full world and story. 

This was an enjoyable book with strong characters and an interesting storyline. I stayed interested throughout and would like to read the next book. However, this book may not be for everyone. There is a decent amount of violence that may be too graphic for some readers. The editing is also something that holds this book back a little. It was enough of an issue to be distracting at ties, but not enough to make me stop reading. 

Wisteria is available now from Amazon

Friday, January 11, 2013

Review: Ghost Writer

Nanette's life quickly hits a road block when she loses her job, her boyfriend, her car, and her apartment all within a few months. She thinks everything is turning around when her great aunt passes away and she finds out her aunt has left her something, but is disappointed when that "something" turns out to be a dog she doesn't want and a trust fund she can't access for three years. The only consolation is a seaside cottage her aunt leaves her. That is, until she moves in and realizes the cottage comes with a cranky ghost who vows to annoy her until she finishes his novel. 

The idea for Ghost Writer was very fun. I loved the twist on the traditional ghost writer arrangement. This was a fun and entertaining read with well developed characters. 

For me, I think the relationship between the characters was the highlight of the story. Nan is instantly relateable with her down-on-life attitude and recent bad luck.I thought she handled the situations she landed in and her interactions with the other characters like a real person in most situations. Her view of life matches her situation and changes during the story as things begin to get better. Her banter back and forth with Max, the ghost, were a lot of fun, but I enjoyed seeing them become closer the more they worked together. The one area I had trouble with when it came to Max and Nan was that her initial reaction to him was so mild it seemed odd. She thought it might be a joke at first, but even once she realized he was real she just kind of accepted it. That was the one area I didn't feel she reacted realistically. 

The progression of the storyline was nicely done. There weren't any slow parts or sections that seemed to fly by too quickly. The story kept moving and stayed interesting throughout.The humor woven into the story was quite enjoyable. I liked Max's reactions to hearing people's honest opinions about the writing he thought was masterful.  Nan and her experience working on Max's last novel is a light story about friendship and what it means to care about others. I was initially expecting the storyline to be a little deeper than it was, but I enjoyed the lighter tone. It was a fun, casual read. The one aspect of the story I didn't particularly enjoy were the writing lessons Max gave Nan. Maybe because I'm a writer myself, but I felt like the explanations were trying to tell the reader why they should like the book they were reading rather than just letting them enjoy it. 

When it is mentioned that Nan's no good boyfriend, Jeff, abandons her, I immediately suspected there would be a new love interest. Indeed, there were actually two, but I don have to admit that I was a little disappointed in the romantic aspect of this book. Nan's hunky neighbor, Tad, catches her eye, but it's made pretty obvious to the reader that he's a big dud right away. I had very little reason to like him or want Nan to like him. The other interest was Steve, a member of Max's old publishing company. Right away, it was clear that Steve was a doll, and a perfect choice, however Nan seems strangely oblivious to his interest in her. I didn't feel it was realistic for Nan not to see that the reason Steve hung around so often and gave her rides and took her grocery shopping was because he was in love with her. With either man, Nan's interest was only vague. There was never a real compelling romantic moment with either of them, which was also disappointing. The more interesting love story was between Max and the woman who used to type his manuscripts, Helen. I found their story very sweet. 

Overall, this was a fun book, but more of a light, casual read than one that will really grab you. 

Would I recommend this book? Yes, but only as a casual read. 

Who would I recommend this book to? The main audience for this book will be women in the 30-50 range who are looking for a sweet story about the value of friendship. 

Ghost Writer is available now from Amazon

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wisteria Book Blast

Wisteria by Bisi Leyton:

Sixteen year old Wisteria Kuti has two options—track the infected around the Isle of Smythe or leave the only known safe haven and face a world infested with flesh eating biters. But even with well-armed trackers, things go wrong and Wisteria ends up alone facing certain death, until she is rescued by the mysterious Bach. Uninfected, Bach is able to survive among the hordes of living dead.

Eighteen year old Bach, from a race known as The Family, has no interest in human affairs. He was sent here to complete his Great Walk and return home as a man—as a Sen Son. The Family regard humans as Dirt People, but Bach is drawn to this Terran girl, whom he has never seen before, but somehow knows.

Hunted by flesh eaters, cannibals, and the mysterious blood thirsty group called Red Phoenix, Wisteria and Bach make their way back to the Isle of Smythe, a community built on secrets and lies.

Praise for Wisteria:

“I love the buildup of this story, getting to know the characters and watching their connection grow. I had no idea which way the story was headed and I was kept in suspense right up to the very end! It has plenty of action and a fascinating plot and I can’t wait to see what Bisi Leyton has for us next!!” 

“There are a lot of great things in this book, so much more than zombies and a struggle for survival. At it’s base core it is about star-crossed lovers, literally and the supporting characters roles… Ms. Leyton brings to Wisteria a mixture of science fiction, fantasy, dystopic world with a twist to the paranormal romance angle!”

“The book was full of nonstop action from the beginning until the end, and I did not put it down until I had finished it. I loved the book.” 


Book Trailer:

Audiobook Excerpt: 

Author Bisi Leyton:
Bisi Leyton was born in East London in 1978. She grew up in London, Nigeria and the States, listening to the stories life and love from aunts, cousins and big sisters.
She lives in London, but has worked around Europe including France, Germany, Ireland, Belgium and the Czech Republic. She has a fondness for reading graphic novels.


Blog Tour Now Through January 25th

Book Blast Giveaway
$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 1/27/13

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Favorites: Ghost Writer

Finishing the novel of a long dead romance writer is intriguing enough, but finding out that his scratchy penmanship and dull prose are what she's meant to work with sets Nan up for an plenty of trials and opportunities to grow. 

What I enjoyed about this story were the relationships that developed between the characters. In the beginning, the animosity between Nan and her resident ghost will keep readers chuckling. Their initial dislike for one another makes watching them change and develop all the more interesting. I enjoyed the character development in Ghost Writer quite a bit. I even was glad to see Nan develop a more caring attitude toward Mitzi, the little dog she never wanted but finds herself responsible for. Readers will enjoy meeting these characters and following their story. 

Ghost Writer is available now from Amazon

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Interview: Lorna Collins

Today, Lorna Collins is here talking about Ghost Writer and how this intriguing novel came to be. 

1. What was your inspiration for "Ghost Writer?" Believe it or not, my husband and I were carpooling on our long commute home from work listing to NPR. The subject was someone who was a ghost writer. I suddenly thought, What if the ghost WAS a writer? By the time we got home, I already had the basic arc of the story in my head and couldn’t wait to get started writing it.

2. Can you tell us a little about Nanette and how she ends up at the cottage? Nanette (Nan) Burton was named for her great-great-aunt Nanette who dies at one-hundred-four years old, leaving the cottage to her namesake. Nan has lost her job, apartment, no-good boyfriend, and car. She loves the cottage and wants to live there. Since she has nowhere else to go and no funds to rent another place, it seems like the perfect situation.

3. Max is an interesting roommate. Can you tell us a little about his personality and how that contributed to his situation? Max is an egocentric, pontificating, know-it-all. He’s also been dead for over thirty years, so he’s completely out of touch with modern technology and sensibilities. Since he was born at the turn of the last century in England, his ways are courtly, if arrogant. His speech, as well as his writing are verbose and stilted. Nan comes to suspect that he was also a bit agoraphobic since he rarely left the cottage during the later years of his life. Although the house actually belonged to Nanette, Max saw it as his home. When Nan appears, his first instinct is to scare her off. He’s a bit of a poltergeist who can make some noise and rattle windows. When that doesn’t work, he decides her purpose for being there is to complete his final novel.

4. Can you compare and contrast the men in Nan's life? Jeff, Nan’s unlamented former boyfriend, used Nan as long as she had a job and apartment. When the job went away, so did he. He is self-serving and lacking in ambition.

Tad, Nan’s gorgeous surfer neighbor and the embodiment of her hero, is spoiled and self-indulgent. He flits from one gorgeous girl to another and has no plans to settle down. He can be a good guy, but he belongs to no one, at least not yet.

Steve, the publisher, is dedicated to his job and his writers. He’s a sweet, if nerdy guy, but he’s also steady and cares about other people.

5. Can you tell us about Mitzi's role in the book? Mitzi, Aunt Netta’s spoiled Shih Tzu, is bequeathed to Nan along with the house. The last thing Nan thinks she needs is a dog. But if anything happens to the pooch, Nan could lose everything. Nan is only able to hear Max, but she figures out that Mitzi can see him. By watching the dog, Nan can figure out where Max is. Mitzi turns out to be a pretty good judge of character.

6. Can you tell us a little about what Max teaches Nan about both life and writing? Through working on Max’s book, Nan discovers a skill she never knew she possessed. Max teaches her how to hone her basic ability so she becomes an even better writer. Through Max’s mistakes, she also learns to value the things that really matter in life like love and friendship.

7. Max and Nan have some similar traits even though they seem quite different at first.  Can you compare the two? Max and Nan both love the cottage. This is the first place they find commonality. In life, Max was always self-focused where Nan allowed herself to be used by others. Nan is a modern working woman. Max doesn’t understand the entire concept. He’s still stuck in a period of time where women were basically the property of men and whose only ambition was to marry and have children. Max is overly self-confident where Nan doubts everything about herself. They discover their mutual love of writing and of Mitzi, and they finally discover they care about each other.

8. Who are your favorite authors? I adore Jane Austin, Gail Tsukiyama, Janet Evanovich for laughs, and Marilyn Meredith for mystery. Anya Seton and Lloyd C. Douglas were favorites when I was young. I read all their books.

9. Do you have any interesting rituals or habits when you write? I often wake at around two in the morning when the voices won’t let me sleep. I have to get up and get their words down on paper. Of course, I never go back to sleep, but at least the voices leave me alone – until the next time!

10. Can you tell us about any future projects? I have another in our Aspen Grove sweet romance anthology series, The Art of Love, coming out this year. We’re working on a couple more of those. My husband, Larry, and I are in the midst of an historical novel, The Memory Keeper, set in San Juan Capistrano between 1820 and 1890. The research will take much more time than the actual writing. We expect to have that one done early next year (2014). We also have a couple more of our Hawaiian AgapĂ© Jones mysteries in the works. And I have several more fantasies waiting impatiently for me to get to them. I foresee more early morning wakeup calls!

Ghost Writer is available now from Amazon

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Introducing: Lorna Collins

Let's get to know a little more about Lorna Collins! 

"Lorna Collins and her husband, Larry, were raised in Alhambra, California where they attended grammar school and high school together. They have been married for over forty years and have one daughter, Kimberly.

Larry is an engineer and spent many years working on various projects throughout the United States and around the world. They both love to travel whenever they get the chance. Lorna was in Document Control, IT Change Management, and Technical Writing prior to her recent retirement.
They both worked in Osaka, Japan on the Universal Studios Japan theme park. Larry was a Project Engineer, responsible for the Jurassic Park, JAWS, and WaterWorld attractions. Lorna was the Document Control Supervisor in the Osaka field office.

Their memoir of that experience, 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park, was a 2006 EPPIE finalist and named as one of Rebeccas Reads Best nonfiction books of 2005.
Their cozy mysteries, Murder... They Wrote and Murder in Paradise (2011 EPIC eBook Award finalist) were published by Whiskey Creek Press. Both are set in Hawaii featuring protagonist Agapé Jones. They have at least two more books planned in this cozy mystery series.

Lorna also writes anthologies with several friends, also for Whiskey Creek Press. Together they have published Snowflake Secrets (Dream Realm Award, Eric Hoffer, and EPPIE finalist), Seasons of Love, Directions of Love (2011 EPIC eBook Award winner) and An Aspen Grove Christmas. The first three were written with Sherry Derr-Wille, Christie Shary and Luanna Rugh. The last also introduced new author Cheryl Gardarian. The group’s next anthology, The Art of Love, will be published soon.

Lorna’s first solo work, Ghost Writer was released in 2012 by Oak Tree Press.
She is currently hard at work on another ghost story, a new anthology, and the next mystery. In addition, she and Larry have begun an historical novel set in San Juan Capistrano.
They currently live in Dana Point, California."

Ghost Writer is available now from Amazon

Monday, January 7, 2013

New Book: Ghost Writer

Normally a ghost writer is someone who writes a book for someone else. They get paid, but they don't get their name on the book. This happens often with celebrities, but what about with actual ghosts? This week we're exploring Lorna Collins' Ghost Writer. Read on to find out more about this unusual arrangement. 

"When unemployed computer programmer Nan Burton inherits a California beach cottage from her great-great-aunt, she’s delighted. But she’s in for a huge surprise: The house is haunted by the ghost of famous romance writer Max Murdoch (pen name Maxine DuBois) who insists Nan complete his last novel, threatening to keep her from sleeping until she agrees. The ensuing clash pits youth against the long-dead but still egotistical author with humorous and moving results." 

Ghost Writer is available now from Amazon

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

Golding Browning, Editor at Storyteller Publishing and author of "Night Journey," tagged me in as a part of The Next Big Thing Blog Hop! Thank you, Goldie, for tagging me! 

What that means for my readers is that you all get to know a little more about me and my next project "Godling Hunger," which will be released later this year. Not only that, but you can learn more about Goldie as well by heading over to her blog!

So here we go!

1. What is the title of your next book? The series I'm working on right now is the "Godling Series." The First book will be "Godling Hunger," followed by "Godling Power" and "Godling Glory."

2. Where did the idea come from for the book? I was reading one of the "Dresden Files" books by Jim Butcher and  he used the word godling to describe the main character's half-vampire brother. The word really stuck with me and made me start thinking. 

3. What genre does your book fall under? I would classify it as YA urban fantasy, but I think it will attract YA paranormal and paranormal romance readers as well. 

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? For the two main characters, who are siblings Vanessa (Van) and Zander Roth, I would go with Dakota Fanning and Alex Pettyfer. 

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Van and Zander Roth struggle to live normal lives while hiding their cursed hunger for pain and suffering, but the appearance of a strange new girl, Ivy, may put everything, including their very lives at risk if they can't figure out what she is after and stop her in time. 

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Self-published

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? It probably took about two months, but I've been editing and rewriting on and off for the last year in between school semesters. 

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Van and Zander are not vampires, werewolves, or any other mythical creatures, but they so suffer from an unrelenting hunger for other people's pain. I would say "Godling Hunger" would attract readers who enjoyed "Twilight," "Evermore," and similar books. 

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book? There are many books about angels and demons, vampires, werewolves, etc. where the either the character discovers a hidden aspect of their world, or the mythical being is struggling to not give in to their desires. I wanted to do something a little different. In "Godling Hunger" the Roth children have no idea what they are. They seem to be the only people cursed with their hunger. They see themselves as mistakes, freaks. Not only are they trying to controls themselves, they're trying to figure out who and what they are, and if they really are alone. 

10. What else about your book might pique the reader interest? The hunger Van and Zander suffer from not only puts a damper on their social lives, it means love is more than a little complicated. Van and Zander both find themselves in difficult situations where being with the person they love could result not only in heartbreak, but in death also if the risks prove too great.

Now you get to learn more about even more upcoming books that are sure to keep you turning page after page! Stop by and visit Kim Rendfeld (The Cross and The Dragon), Laurel Bradley (Trust No One), Nancy Jardine, (The Beltane Choice), Sally Carpenter (The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper), and Shewanda Pugh (Crimson Footprints). 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Songbird by Angelo Firstoe is FREE on Amazon!

Songbird by Angela Fristoe is FREE on Amazon January 1-2!

Fristoe's debut novel is free for a limited time on Amazon, so hurry over and get your copy today!

"There are defining moments in life when everything changes. For Dani Mays, it was the day she witnessed her brother's murder. Afterward, she bounced between her alcoholic mother and foster homes until she found a permanent place. And a reason to want to stay: Reece Tyler. He's her best friend, yet Dani wants more from him. Faced with losing Reece, Dani struggles to escape her memories, even as people from her past reappear."