Wednesday, December 6, 2017

IWSG: Looking For A Do-Over?

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a community of writers who share ideas and encourage other writers. It's a great place to express doubts and concerns as well as offer and receive tribulations and guidance from other writers. IWSG posts the first Wednesday of every month. I think you'll find it to be a great writer's resource that's well worth your time. Be sure to stop by and visit with some of the other IWSG writers/bloggers at IWSG Members.

Join me in thanking this month's awesome co-hosts:  Julie Flanders, Shannon Lawrence, Fundy Blue, and Heather Gardner!


IWSG Question:  As you look back on 2017, with all its successes and failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

December 6, 2017!
Where has the year gone?! It freaks me out to think about how fast time flies!  Is it just a "getting older" thing?  Does everyone feel that way?


So the question is what would I do differently if I could press a magical "Do-Over button" and get another shot at some things listed in my "failure" column for 2017?  How much time do you have?

Seriously, it ain't rocket science . . . it has to be the illusive time management for me - in both my personal and writing life.  The hours, days, weeks, and months have a way of slipping away, leaving me wondering where in the world did my time go?  I end a day or week or month thinking I should have gotten this done or that completed.  I should have written another page or chapter . . . why didn't I?  What stopped me?  

I hate to admit it, but poor time management bears some of the blame.  That's on me.  I schedule writing time as well as other things (I'm a planner, a scheduler - my calendar and to-do list are my friends!) - but I've come to realize I allow too many interruptions to waylay me.  Sometimes, it's my own doing . . . sometimes, not (why does my hubby only want to "talk" or ask questions or want something when I'm writing?)  And once I'm pulled out of my writing world, it's too easy to "do just one more thing" before returning to work.  By then, I've lost my momentum as my thought-train has been hijacked, and my creative juices drained.

So needless to say, Time Management is a monumental priority for me in 2018!  And it's one thing I wish I could push the Do-Over Button for in 2017!  Fingers crossed I'll get a better handle on it in the coming year!

There's also one other thing that bears mentioning . . . something I feel I don't take time to do often enough and that's Counting My Blessings.  Those of us with family, friends, a safe, warm home and plenty to eat need to count and share our blessings every single day.  Let's share the kindness and love!

How did your successes and failures stack up in 2017?  Anyone need a Do-Over Button?




Monday, November 13, 2017

Twisted Truths Review


Title:  Twisted Truths
Series:  Blood Brothers #3
Author:  Rebecca Zanetti
Publisher:  Forever
Release Date:  Nov. 14, 2017
Buy Link:  Amazon

My Rating:  5 Action-Packed Hearts

*Many thanks to the publisher and Netgally for an arc of this book.




Synopsis:

You can't escape the past . . .Noni is desperate. Her infant niece has been kidnapped, and the only person who can save her is a private detective with too many secrets to count--and more enemies than he can name. A man who walked away from Noni without any warning a year ago, a man who broke her heart. But with Talia's life on the line, Noni needs his help now more than ever--and this time, she won't take no for an answer . . .

The moment Denver Jones sees Noni, the memories come rushing back. The fire in her eyes. The determination in her voice. The danger of having her in his life. Denver had to push her away once, but now with vicious criminals threatening Noni and her niece, he'll do whatever it takes to protect them. But enemies from his past are circling, and they'll use anything--and anyone--to get to Denver.


Review:
Twisted Truths is the final book in the Blood Brothers Trilogy, and Zanetti definitely saved the best for last!  Intense, fast-paced action and cover-to-cover suspense kept me burning through the pages of this book.  Not only does it bring the Blood Brothers series to an end, it also reels in demons that have haunted and hunted the Sin Brothers also, thereby closing a story arc that encompassed both series.  The author brilliantly wove all the threads together and brought in all the guys to once and for all put their demons to rest.  I loved it!

Finally, in Twisted Truths, Denver's and Noni's story plays out when Noni's dead sister's baby is kidnapped, and she reaches out to Denver for help in finding her.  In doing so, she plasters his picture all over the internet and unknowingly brings his worse nightmare to life when he and his brothers are once again placed in the crosshairs of Sheriff Cobb and Dr. Madison.  Only this time, they can't ghost out of the picture without first finding the kidnapped baby.  When everything blows up in their faces, they have no choice but to call for backup from the Sin Brothers.  

Twisted Truths is high octane, heart-racing action all the way through.  And woven into the drama is the passionate reuniting of Denver and Noni.  Their undeniable, sizzling chemistry and steamy desires ignite the pages, setting the stage for a beautiful, emotional second-chance romance.  A strong, convoluted support cast takes this story to another level as deadly battles rage between the forces of good and evil.  Zanetti takes this one home with a bang!  Fans of the Sins Brothers and the Blood Brothers will not want to miss this one! (Be sure to read the series in order to avoid spoilers.)  A brilliant ending to a fantastic series!  A Must Read!

My Rating:  5 Action-Packed Hearts . . . And that's the truth!

Cross My Heart . . . xxx
Sandra

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Midnight Labyrinth Review

Title:  Midnight Labyrinth
Series:  Elemental Legacy #4
Author:  Elizabeth Hunter
Release Date:  Nov. 7, 2017
Buy Link:  Amazon

My Rating:  4 Mysterious 's

*Many thanks to the author for an arc copy of this book.


Synopsis:
He’s one human caught in a tangled maze of theft, politics, magic, and blood.
 In other words, it’s just another night.


Benjamin Vecchio escaped a chaotic childhood and grew to adulthood under the protection and training of one of the Elemental world’s most feared vampire assassins. He’s traveled the world and battled immortal enemies.


But everyone has to go home sometime.


New York means new opportunities and allies for Ben and his vampire partner, Tenzin. It also means new politics and new threats. Their antiquities business is taking off, and their client list is growing. When Ben is challenged to find a painting lost since the second world war, he jumps at the chance. This job will keep him closer to home, but it might just land him in hot water with the insular clan of earth vampires who run Manhattan.


Tenzin knew the painting would be trouble before she laid eyes on it, but she can’t deny the challenge intrigues her. Human laws mean little to a vampire with a few millennia behind her, and Tenzin misses the rush of taking what isn’t hers.


But nothing is more dangerous than a human with half the story, and Ben and Tenzin might end up risking their reputations and their lives before they escape the Midnight Labyrinth.


Review:
Midnight Labyrinth  delivers everything readers have come to expect from Elizabeth Hunter in one inviting package - unique characters, mystery, intrigue, snarky humor, adventure, slow-burn romance - all rolled into one fantastic read!   Readers have been waiting for more of Ben and Tenzin, and Hunter delivers in this one. 

Ben and Tenzin are back in New York and running an antiquities business when Ben runs into an old girlfriend, Chloe, at an art gallery.  Reconnecting with her throws Ben for a bit of a loop as he struggles through an identity crisis.  Ben is hooked by the mystery surrounding a missing painting, The Midnight Labyrinth, and decides to take on the job of finding it.  Tenzin warns that it will only bring trouble, but she's in, of course, with all her usual antics.    I'm not going into the storyline beyond that to avoid spoilers, but will say you don't want to miss their journey!

Midnight Labyrinth is an intriguing, mystery-driven story that kept me on the edge of my seat.  But the thing that stands out most to me is the character and character relationship development. Ben and Tenzin's relationship is ever evolving and fascinating to watch.  Add a blended support cast of unique, multi-faceted new and old characters and you've got a story that's intriguing, mysterious, and yet, at times, hilarious.  Hunter's ability to flawlessly weave history into plot lines has never been more evident.  Her flowing, poetic writing style brings scenes and characters to vivid, living, breathing life.  No one does it better.  Throw in a budding romance, a slow-burn romance, and a swoon-worthy hunk in a kilt, and you've got a Must Read!

My Rating:  4 Mysterious 's . . . And that's the truth!


Cross My Heart . . . xxx
Sandra

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Year One Review

Title:  Year One
Series:  Chronicles of the One
Author:  Nora Roberts
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Release Date:  Nov. 7, 2017
Preorder Link:  Amazon

My Rating:  4 Promising 's


*Many thanks to St. Martin's Press for an arc of this book.




Synopsis:
It began on New Year’s Eve.

The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed—and more than half of the world’s population was decimated.

Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magic rose up in its place. Some of it is good, like the witchcraft worked by Lana Bingham, practicing in the loft apartment she shares with her lover, Max. Some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river—or in the ones you know and love the most.

As word spreads that neither the immune nor the gifted are safe from the authorities who patrol the ravaged streets, and with nothing left to count on but each other, Lana and Max make their way out of a wrecked New York City. At the same time, other travelers are heading west too, into a new frontier. Chuck, a tech genius trying to hack his way through a world gone offline. Arlys, a journalist who has lost her audience but uses pen and paper to record the truth. Fred, her young colleague, possessed of burgeoning abilities and an optimism that seems out of place in this bleak landscape. And Rachel and Jonah, a resourceful doctor and a paramedic who fend off despair with their determination to keep a young mother and three infants in their care alive.

In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a savior, none of them knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain.

The end has come. The beginning comes next.
 

Review:
Nora Roberts is one of my favorite go-to authors - one I can count on for a great read in various genres.  I discovered her writing years ago, starting with her first book in the Irish Legacy Series and reading my way through her extensive book list written as both Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb. I've enjoyed them all.  When I heard the news Nora was stepping out of the box and venturing off in a new direction, I experienced a tingle of excitement and anticipation.  An end-of-the-world as we know it fantasy saga from Nora Roberts?  Yes please!  I couldn't wait to see what she'd come up with.  Having just read an arc copy of Year One, I'm happy to say I wasn't disappointed.

Year One opens with a happy family gathering on New Year's Eve.  And yet, amidst the celebration, something's not right.  A premonition of something dark and evil invades the atmosphere, leaving an air of anxiety, of impending doom.  A family member falls ill, then another and another.  The uncontrollable sickness spreads like rabid wildfire, consuming families, neighborhoods, towns, cities, countries quickly leading to a global crisis and widespread panic.  While a large part of the earth's population is wiped out, there are pockets of unique survivors who come out of the darkness and make their way toward the west, looking for answers, purpose, safety, and a new beginning.  A story of loss and survival, despair and hope, good vs. evil, this is their journey - one in which they will discover the best and worst in other people, the power and magick within themselves, and the undeniable human desire for survival.  I won't go into any story details beyond what is revealed in the blurb as this is a journey you'll want to take for yourself.  

One of the things I've always loved and consistently found in Nora Roberts' stories is strong character and character relationship development.  This author excels at introducing a variety of characters, showcasing their strengths and weaknesses, and setting them on an often difficult journey of self-discovery and survival.  Year One is no different in that aspect.  Characters from all walks of life are introduced and challenged with a near impossible task - surviving in a world gone mad.  The horrors of death and devastation surround them as the darkness seizes control.  The odds of survival are nearly insurmountable, and danger lurks around every corner . . . even disguised as trusted loved ones.  And yet through it all, there's always a sense of hope, of finding the light, of discovery of something "more".  And that's the feeling I was left with upon finishing this story.  A feeling of promise and hope for the survival of goodness over evil, light over dark, and love over hate . . . hope for the survival of mankind in an apocalyptic world.

Year One brilliantly sets the stage for the second book in the Chronicles of One series which can't come soon enough.  The shell-shocked cast of characters have set out on the journey of a lifetime, charged with the monumental task of survival while battling unknown forces of evil.  In true Nora Roberts style, the plot line picks up each character's story, follows their journey, and eventually intertwines them all into one tightly woven yet unique tapestry.  Vivid imagery is prevalent, bringing each scene to life by engaging all five senses - sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch - leaping off the page, pulling readers fighting and kicking into this apocalyptic world.  An epic tale of survival, Year One is an intense, breathtaking, blockbuster story that would explode across the big screen!  Kudos for following your light, Nora Roberts!  I can't wait for more!  A Must Read!

My Rating:  4 Promising 's . . . And that's the truth!


Cross My Heart . . . xxx

Sandra



Wednesday, November 1, 2017

IWSG: Making A Difference...

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a community of writers who share ideas and encourage other writers. It's a great place to express doubts and concerns as well as offer and receive tribulations and guidance from other writers. IWSG posts the first Wednesday of every month. I think you'll find it to be a great writer's resource that's well worth your time. Be sure to stop by and visit with some of the other IWSG writers/bloggers at IWSG Members.

Join me in thanking this month's awesome co-hosts: Tonja Drecker, Diane Burton,  MJ Fifield, and Rebecca Douglass!


It's November 1st!!  What an incredibly short year 2017 has been.  Surely, the powers that be shaved some days off each month . . . it's the only explanation for it being only three weeks until Thanksgiving.

As the holidays and end of year rapidly approach, my mind turns to projects - ones completed, most with a sense of satisfaction, and ones uncompleted, leaving me with a growing sense of frustration and urgency over unreached 2017 writing goals.  Not long ago, a shadow of gloom and doom descended, and I threw myself a little self-indulgent "pity party"!  I allowed negativity to taunt me, filling my head with self-defeating thoughts like: "You may as well give up . . .
You aren't good enough, smart enough . . . you'll never finish, why bother trying?  I can honestly say if it wasn't for the timely, encouraging words from a fellow writer, mentor, friend, and respected author, I might have allowed the negativity to win.  Instead, the fact that one person, one author, took time out of her busy life to share encouraging words, including personal writing experiences, reignited my belief in myself and my writing ability.  It was the boost, and the kick in the butt, that I needed at that moment in time, and I'm happy to say it helped me bring my pity party to an end.  I rose to the challenge and started scheduling, writing, and checking projects off my list once again.  Some meet my expectations, some don't.  Some show promise, some don't.  Some are filed away in that file we all have for projects that don't meet expectations - where they deserve to be.  Either way, one person made a difference and reignited a spark.  (Thank you, Nancy!)

Never, ever underestimate the value of a kind, encouraging word to a fellow writer.  Yours may be the voice that makes the difference to one writer struggling to find their place and way in this writer's world we all share.  It costs nothing but a little time, and while that's precious to us all, the rewards are tenfold to both the giver and recipient of the advice and encouraging words. 

If you're struggling, seek out fellow writers and support groups like the Insecure Writer's Support Group.  You'll find a beautiful mix of both beginning and seasoned writers willing to share and accept advice - a place for receiving and lending a helping hand.  Hopefully, it'll make a difference in your life as it has mine.

Question of the month:  Win or lose, do you usually finish your NaNo project?  Have any of them gone on to be published?

I've never participated in NaNo.  I'm a firm believer in never saying never, but I don't think it's for me.  However, I greatly admire those who are brave enough to jump in and go for it.  Congratulations to all participants - you're all winners.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Michael's Wings Review



Title:  Michael's Wings
Series:  The Original Sinners #6.3
Author:  Tiffany Reisz
Publisher:  Eighth Circle Press
Release Date:  Nov. 7, 2017
Order Info:  Amazon

My Rating:  4 Bleeding 's

Many thanks to the author & Eighth Circle Press for an arc of this book.



Synopsis:
 Griffin has just popped the question—yes, that question—and Michael doesn’t have an answer. He flees town for New Orleans to see his confidante and sometime-Domme, Mistress Nora. Will a weekend of beignets and beatings help him untangle his knotted-up heart?

Thus begins Michael's Wings, the eponymous novella that kicks off the latest entry in Tiffany Reisz's LAMBDA Literary Award-winning* Original Sinners series.

This companion collection to fan-favorite The Angel also contains six previously-published stories starring Mistress Nora's favorite angel and Griffin—his master, his true love, and the sexy-as-hell bane of Michael's existence.

Review:
If you're a fan of the Original Sinners Series (like me), you're probably in love with Michael & Griffin already and eager to see them take things to the next level.  This collection of novellas is for you - an intimate peek into the hearts and lives of Michael & Griffin - six previously published stories and one new . . . Michael's Wings.  I would advise you to stop now if you haven't yet read the series and encourage you to run, not walk, to your nearest bookstore (or online bookstore) and grab these books.  Start at the beginning and read in order.  You're in for one hell of a ride!

In the novella Michael's Wings, Griffin has asked Michael the big question and left him with an order to think it over and give him an answer on Sunday.  Michael panics and runs to Mistress Nora, seeking solace, advice, and stress relief as only Nora can deliver . . . which she happily does.  What she can't or won't do is tell Michael what he should do.  As the story unfolds, the reasons for Michael's turmoil is revealed, giving readers an intimate look at what love in a "non-typical" relationship can mean and/or cost one or both parties.  Ultimately, each individual must decide what they want, need, and desire most - what they can live with . . . and without.  Michael has a lot to think about.

Readers will adore this poignant, intimate love story featuring Michael and Griffin - two men who love each other heart, body, and soul.  But is love ever enough?  Once again, Reisz has done an amazing job of delivering a heart-touching story rich in emotional turmoil, snarky humor, and kinky sex!  I was so touched by the strong emotions evoked from reading this book.  The writing, as always, is flawless and hypnotic - often making me laugh, cry, and yes, sometimes throw things!  The best news is - there are seven novellas in this book - seven opportunities to experience life with Michael & Griffin.  Fans of the series will not want to miss this one!  Another Must Read by the Master!

My Rating:  4 Intimate, Bleeding 's . . . And that's the truth!


Cross My Heart . . . xxx


Sandra

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Hello Again Review


Title:  Hello Again
Series:  The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles #2
Author:  Brenda Novak
Publisher:  Headline
Release Date:  Oct. 3, 2017

My Rating:  4.5 Chilling 's!







Synopsis:

SHE CAN MAKE SENSE OF A COMPLEX CRIMINAL MIND.
Evelyn Talbot, a psychiatrist at a maximum-security prison in Alaska, studies some of the world's worst serial killers. But she’s about to meet her most elusive patient at Hanover House yet: Dr. Lyman Bishop, AKA the Zombie Maker given his fondness for performing ice-pick lobotomies on his victims. A brilliant cancer researcher, Bishop is either the most cunning psychopath Evelyn has ever encountered—or he is wrongly convicted.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A CRIMINAL CAN SEE INTO HER OWN?
When a new ice-pick fatality occurs, it seems Bishop really was wrongly convicted. Except...Evelyn has a personal connection to the victim and that suggests the killer may be someone from her own past: Jasper Moore, her high school boyfriend who tortured her and left her for dead when she was only sixteen. Jasper also murdered three of her friends—and was never caught. Is he trying to send a message with this copycat crime? The only thing Evelyn knows for sure is that if Jasper is on her trail, she might not be able to escape again . .  

Review:
Fantastic addition to the series! Riveting suspense, great character/relationship development, heart-racing twists & turns...A Must Read! Full review coming.

As I mentioned above, I think Hello Again is a great addition to The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles Series.  Novak has picked up the pace, raised the stakes even higher, and dove deeper into the minds of the criminally insane through Evelyn's research at Hanover House - a maximum-security prison in Alaska where some of the world's worst serial killers are imprisoned and studied.  As the story opens, Evelyn is preparing to meet with Dr. Lyman Bishop, aka the Zombie Maker, a brilliant cancer researcher so named because he performed ice-pick lobotomies on his victims.  After talking with him, she realizes he's one of the smartest, most conniving psychopaths she's ever interviewed . . . a deadly, master manipulator.  Evelyn may have met her match, but when another ice-pick murder occurs, the possibility the wrong man was convicted is pursued.  And yet, Evelyn has a gut-feeling that Jasper, her ex-boyfriend who tortured her and killed three of her friends, may be involved in the latest killing.  Is she right or just being paranoid?  Time is of the essence and lives are on the line.  

Hello Again is a riveting, psychological thriller.  The story flows smoother and the pace is faster than in Her Darkest Nightmare, I think.  I liked that Novak took some big steps forward with character relationship development and the overall story arc.  The flawed characters came across almost a little too real in some chilling scenes, causing me to look over my shoulder a time or two!  Like driving on a curvy, dark country road at night, this story unfolds with twists and turns that left me breathless, heart racing right through the end (which I won't discuss, but omg!).  I'm more intrigued by this series than ever.  An awesome addition to the series!  A Must Read!

My Rating:  4.5 Chilling 's . . . And that's the truth!


Cross My Heart . . . xxx

Sandra