Friday, January 20, 2017

Series Review ~ White House by Katy Evans

Series: White House

Book 1:
Mr. President
Rating: 3 's

Book 2:
Commander in Chief
Rating: 2 's

Synopsis Mr. President:

He's won the hearts of millions. But is he willing to lose his?
I met the president’s son when we were both young. Matthew Hamilton was handsome, polished, and intelligent. I’d never met a guy like him.
He promised me that he’d never run for president. I promised that if he did, I’d be by his side.
Three terms later, an invitation to join Matthew Hamilton’s campaign is the most exhilarating opportunity I’ve ever experienced. I'm determined to make a difference; he is determined to win.
Focused on his goal, Matt is steadfast, ruthless, and disarming. All eyes are on him and his popularity is surging. But soon, the next possible president of the United States is possessing me in more ways than one—and despite the risks, I'm helpless to resist.
We're stealing touches, stealing moments, and stealing away at night. But our chemical connection is quickly becoming dangerously combustive, putting not only my heart, but Matt's chance at the presidency on the line.
Winning will take everything. Walking away will be the hardest thing of all.

I was anxious to delve into Mr. President and discover for myself what the hype over this series was all about. I like the idea behind the series and needless to say, really enjoyed meeting the very gorgeous candidate for President, Matt. There seems to be conflict over whether or not a candidate for President can introduce his girlfriend to the world - and the consensus in this book is No. And so they resort to hiding their affair while working together on the election campaign - anything for the better good. I don't understand or buy into that concept when the woman in question is smart, funny, beautiful, and in America's little darling. She's not a stripper and isn't hiding an illegitimate child or sordid past. So what's the big deal? I continued reading, waiting for a big blow up and to see how they'd end it - but, of course, it ends on a cliff-hanger which means you need book 2 to find out. I felt this book would have benefited from more depth - more real conflict...something that made me fear the end results. The plot line felt a bit frivolous and repetitive to me at times. A good, middle-of-the-road romance, but I was expecting something "more".

My Rating:  3 Middle of the Road 's . . . And that's the truth!

Synopsis Commander in Chief:
We fell in love during the campaign.
The stakes were high.
Reputations could have been ruined.
Scandal hovered over us like a cloud.
Now the man I love is the President of the United States of America.
And its not my vote he is after.
He wants it all.
My heart. My body. My soul.
He wants me by his side.
In the White House.
Normalcy will be gone from my life, privacy forgotten.
I am only twenty three. I just wanted to play a part in history. But it seems like history wasn't done with me. The part where I lost my heart to Matthew Hamilton? It was only the beginning...

After reading Mr. President, I wanted to see this couple's story play out in the White House so I continued straight into Commander In Chief. Unfortunately, the story never really took off for me, and I actually found myself skimming much of the second half just to get finished. . . even the many, MANY love/sex scenes. In spite of that, I read on waiting for a conflict of some type to occur - something to raise the stakes and draw me in. It just never occurred. We get the couples' story, but there's no depth, no anticipation, no point where everything's on the line - no heart-pounding omg moments. I love/want/need to experience a story along with the main characters - to feel what they feel, want what they want, pull for them all the way, but I wasn't drawn in enough to do that. I really wanted to love this book, but it just didn't work for me as it completely missed the mark. 

My Rating:  2 Disappointing 's . . . And that's the truth!
Cross My Heart . . . xxx

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Gertrude & Toby Meet The Wolf ~ Author Spotlight & Review

Title:  Gertrude and Toby Meet the Wolf #3
Series:  Gertrude & Toby Fairy Tale Adventures
Author:  Shari Tharp
Illustrator:  Jim Heath
Publisher:  Atlas Publishing
Release Date:  Jan. 9, 2017
Buy Links:  Amazon & Other Retailers

My Rating:  4 Delightful 's


Gertrude the goat and Toby the tortoise are going fishing at Trout Lake for their Friday adventure. While at the lake, they see a little boy being dragged off by a hungry wolf! They follow the wolf and rescue the little boy, but the wolf doesn't give up. He goes after them, determined to get his lunch back!

Gertrude and Toby Meet the Wolf is an exciting adventure story for children who are transitioning from beginning readers to chapter books. This is the perfect book for the child who has been tasked with the usual 30-minutes-per-night reading homework. From the standpoint of reading progression, this title fills a specific niche that represents a gap in the children's book market--longer illustrated children's books that are more complex and challenging than typical picture books.
Gertrude and Toby Meet the Wolf incorporates many traditional fairy-tale characters that will be immediately recognizable to many young readers. These characters include the Boy Who Cried Wolf, the Three Little Pigs, and of course, the Big Bad Wolf. The presence of these fairy-tale characters adds familiarity for young readers and keeps alive the old tales (e.g., those by the Brothers Grimm) that we have all come to know and love.
The first and second books in the series, Gertrude and Toby's Friday Adventure and Gertrude and Toby Save the Gingerbread Man, follow the same approach, incorporating fairy-tale characters in contemporary settings. These are modern stories with more complex plots and wording than those of standard picture books, but without the daunting word count of typical beginning chapter books.
Gertrude the goat and Toby the turtoise head to the lake to fish in this third installment of the series. While debating the best bait (worms or beetles), they see a boy who continues to cry "Wolf!" Later, they see the boy captured by the wolf and decide they must help him. Before it's all over, the three little pigs are involved in the big save. The combining of fairy tale characters adds to the fun and excitement of the story while adding to the familiarity of the story for the target age group of six to eight year old children.  I had the opportunity to read this to my nephew, and he absolutely loved it. The characters of Gertrude and Toby are funny and adventurous, giving children a shining example of friends helping friends while also entertaining them. The illustrations in this series are delightful (some of the best ever!) and just plain fun! This is a great read for young children!  Sure to be a bedtime favorite!  A Must Read!

Spotlight on Author Shari Tharp:

        Talk about your journey into the world of writing and children’s books.

About three years ago, my son asked me to read him a bedtime story, but it was very late and I told him, “No, it’s too late.” He replied, “Well just tell me a story then.” So I told him a story about a goat and tortoise who go on adventures. The next night he asked for more of the story about the goat and tortoise. So I made up a little more about the goat and tortoise’s adventures. By the third night, the goat and tortoise were going to a candy store, but they didn’t realize they had to pay for their candy, because the market owner had given each of them a free sample and told them to “help themselves.” By that point (the third night), the characters had started talking and dialoguing, and that’s when I thought, “This could be a good story; I better write this down!” 

        What made you decide to intertwine fairy tales into your books?

Well, when I started telling my son the bedtime adventure stories about the goat and tortoise, I wasn’t a fast enough thinker that I could create brand new characters to the story on the fly. So I just added familiar fairy-tale characters that the goat and tortoise met along the way. And those characters remained true to their fairy-tale natures as I incorporated them into the goat and tortoise story. :)

        Gertrude & Toby are adorable characters.  What sparked them to life in your mind and what convinced you to star them in your books?

My son was always asking for a “baby goat” (which we were definitely not going to get!). And my sister has a tortoise (it wandered into her yard one day). I assigned the goat and tortoise names—Gertrude and Toby (alliteration, of course!). When I first wrote the story, all the characters sounded the same when they spoke, and when I shared the early versions of the Gertrude and Toby story (book 1) with family and friends, somebody mentioned this. I realized that I needed to better differentiate the personalities of the characters. So I looked at the actions I had Gertrude and Toby performing and realized that Gertrude was the impulsive leader. Toby is more careful (slow like a tortoise), but also smart and a smart aleck as well. I also liked the idea of best friends being able to razz each other a bit and joke around with each other. So I started the “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” question-and-answer exchange, with Toby always answering in a smart-aleck way. Some reviewers and readers have considered Toby dim-witted as a result. That was not my intention, but that’s OK. That’s the beauty of books/stories—they should be descriptive, yet open and subtle enough for individual interpretation.

       What can readers expect from Shari Tharp in the future?

More published books I hope! Seriously, I am working on a Granny Frog series. It’s about a grandma frog who babysits her grandfrogs while the parents work the night shift at Toadstool Farm. But of course when grandma comes, it’s playtime. The children know they can get away with maybe having a cookie before dinner and not always following the strict rules their parents usually have in place. Another funny twist is that Granny tells the froglets bedtime stories about her life growing up. You know … like having to hop five miles uphill to a new pond when her family’s pond dries up, etc. I’ve also written a cute slug story and am working on a story tentatively called The Giant’s Castle.

        Share the top five things you never leave home without!

Hmmm … lip balm, a credit card, my cell phone, different colored pens (red, blue, purple, black, and green), and a stack of my books in my trunk!

Shari Tharp is a graduate of San Diego State University and a former teacher. She currently lives in Southern California with her husband and son. Her debut book, GERTRUDE AND TOBY'S FRIDAY ADVENTURE, won a silver medal IPPY award for Best Illustrated Ebook. 
The next two books in the series, GERTRUDE AND TOBY SAVE THE GINGERBREAD MAN and GERTRUDE AND TOBY MEET THE WOLF, are scheduled to be released in late 2016. 
In addition to writing, Shari enjoys playing chess, hiking, biking, and reading (of course!).

    Illustrator Jim Heath: 
Resides in Southern California with his family

Full-time graphic designer and illustrator

Originally from Huntington Beach, California and is still an avid surfer

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Fidelity Release Blitz

Infidelity Book 5
By Aleatha Romig
Release Day January 17, 2017

She thought she could save those she loved.
He thought he could save her.
They'll both learn the truth.

FIDELITY, the dramatic conclusion to the epic five novel series INFIDELITY, following Lennox "Nox" Demetri, Alexandria "Charli" Collins, the Montagues, Demetris, Fitzgeralds, and Spencers is finally here.

When the vows are complete and the dust settles, who will be left standing?

No one is safe, and no alliance is above suspicion in the much-anticipated finale to this hot romantic-suspense saga. Our heroine has survived betrayal, cunning, deception, and entrapment…what will happen when she’s faced with fidelity?

Infidelity, it isn't what you think.

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Aleatha Romig comes a sexy, new dominant hero who knows what he wants and a strong-willed heroine who has plans of her own. With classic twists, turns, deceptions, and devotions, this new, epic romantic suspense will have readers swooning one minute and screaming the next..

Have you been Aleatha'd?

FIDELITY is the fifth and FINAL of five full-length novels in the INFIDELITY series.

*This series does not condone nor does it advocate cheating.

Amazon US:
Amazon UK:
Amazon US Print:
Amazon UK Print: 

Aleatha Romig is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who lives in Indiana. She grew up in Mishawaka, graduated from Indiana University, and is currently living south of Indianapolis. Aleatha has raised three children with her high school sweetheart and husband of nearly thirty years. Before she became a full-time author, she worked days as a dental hygienist and spent her nights writing. Now, when she's not imagining mind-blowing twists and turns, she likes to spend her time a with her family and friends. Her other pastimes include reading and creating heroes/anti-heroes who haunt your dreams!  Aleatha released her first novel, CONSEQUENCES, in August of 2011. CONSEQUENCES became a bestselling series with five novels and two companions released from 2011 through 2015. The compelling and epic story of Anthony and Claire Rawlings has graced more than half a million e-readers. Aleatha released the first of her series TALES FROM THE DARK SIDE, INSIDIOUS, in the fall of 2014. These stand alone thrillers continue Aleatha's twisted style with an increase in heat.
In the fall of 2015, Aleatha moved head first into the world of dark romantic suspense with the release of BETRAYAL, the first of her five novel INFIDELITY series that has taken the reading world by storm. She also began her traditional publishing career with Thomas and Mercer. Her books INTO THE LIGHT and AWAY FROM THE DARK were published through this mystery/thriller publisher in 2016.
Aleatha is a "Published Author's Network" member of the Romance Writers of America and a member of PEN America. 
Twitter:  @aleatharomig 


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IWSG: A Helping Hand

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.

A great big thank you to our awesome January Co-Hosts:
Eva @ Lillicasplace
Crystal Collier
Sheena-kay Graham
Chemist Ken
LG Keltner
Heather Gardner

A Helping Hand . . . 
This month, I want to pause and give thanks to all the authors out there who so generously lend a helping hand to new writers.  I cannot begin to tell you how much your willingness to share your expertise, knowledge, resources, etc., means to writers like me who are trying to figure it all out and get their first book out there.  I am constantly amazed by the friendship, camaraderie, encouragement, and sharing found in the book writing community - including individual authors and organizations like our Insecure Writers Support Group which has opened so many doors for me.  The wealth of knowledge, resources, and experience is a true treasure . . . authors willing to share it with others - priceless!  To all writers who have taken the time to extend a helping hand to me and others, I just want to say "Thank You" from the bottom of my heart.  Please know that I value every single word of encouragement and advice that has been offered to me.  I hope I have the opportunity to give the same to another newbie someday.

Question of the Month:  What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard? 

Seriously?! There are rules?!  lol  Honestly, several of them.  But I guess the grammar and punctuation rules give me the most grief.  I tend to write the way I think without worrying about the rules so there's lots of room for errors!  As a writer/reader who writes a lot of book reviews, I'm a fanatic about errors in books.  I know it's the job of an editor to catch them, but no one is perfect and as far as I'm concerned, in my humble opinion, the buck stops with the author.  So yes, I'm most paranoid about grammar and punctuation errors that might slip through the cracks.  

What writing rule gives you the most grief?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Daisy In Chains Review

Title:  Daisy In Chains
Series:  No - A Standalone Novel
Author:  Sharon Bolton
Publisher:  Transworld Digital
Release Date:  June 2, 2016
Buy Link:  Amazon

My Rating:  5 He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not 's

Famous killers have fan clubs.

Hamish Wolfe is no different. Locked up for the rest of his life for the abduction and murder of three young women, he gets countless adoring letters every day. He's handsome, charismatic and very persuasive. His admirers are convinced he's innocent, and that he's the man of their dreams.

Who would join such a club?

Maggie Rose is different. Reclusive and enigmatic; a successful lawyer and bestselling true-crime writer, she only takes on cases that she can win.

Hamish wants her as his lawyer, he wants her to change his fate. She thinks she's immune to the charms of a man like this. But maybe not this time . . . 

Would you?

He loves me...He loves me not.  He loves me . . . Or does he? All women love the charismatic Hamish Wolfe.  The fact that he is a convicted serial killer locked away for life for brutally murdering three women and suspected in the disappearance of a fourth doesn't phase them.  The proof of their love and devotion is in the hundreds of letters and photographs Wolfe receives weekly, many of them graphic, many of them proposing marriage.  Devastatingly handsome with a charming, manipulative personality and a killer smile, Wolfe is always in control, an intensely compelling and lethal man.  His fan club of dedicated groupies call themselves The Wolfe Pack.  They are united in a fevered, obsessive passion on their mission to undo what they perceive as a gross injustice  - Wolfe's incarceration.  The Pack has set their sights and hopes on lawyer & true crime writer, Maggie Rose.  Problem is some of these followers are a few bricks shy of a load - looney as the day is long.  Are they also dangerous?

Maggie Rose is an eccentric, compulsive, gaunt yet beautiful woman who shuns the public eye even as she flaunts bright blue hair.  Protecting her privacy at all costs, she lives as a recluse, avoiding interviews, and public appearances and only meeting with clients when necessary.  Maggie has made a great deal of money by challenging the cases of convicted murderers and then writing books about them.  She will only accept a case IF she sees flaws in the chain of evidence.  Whether they are guilty or not is truly irrelevant in her eyes.  Every client deserves to have every stone turned, every piece of evidence validated, every lead explored, every question answered.  Maggie is good at what she does.  She has represented seven convicted murderers in the past and gotten five of their convictions overturned.  It didn't matter that she didn't believe in their innocence . . . in fact, she's pretty sure some of them were guilty as sin.  It's all about winning.  Can Wolfe and his followers convince her to take his case?  Will Maggie fall under his spell?

Daisy In Chains is a psychological thriller that grabbed me by the throat and held on until the final shocking page. The story is revealed through three main characters in a brilliantly written narrative intermingled with emails, letters, and police and newspaper reports.  Complex, multifaceted characters kept me off-balance - leaving me guessing, never quite sure who was telling the truth and who was lying.  I quickly found myself lost in a sinister maze of twists and turns, frantically searching for answers as the author manipulated both the characters and me. The ominous atmosphere of the setting took on a life of its own, engulfing me with an edgy, almost spooky feeling of impending doom as I read late into the night.  Several social issues involving discrimination of certain classes are interspersed and woven into the plot line, giving voice to the flawed perceptions of people who often judge others by class, body size, or celebrity status.  

Like a puzzle with a missing piece, Daisy In Chains perplexed and taunted me as the suspense builds to the shocking, blockbuster ending.  While I was able to find and place some pieces of the puzzle, the final piece eluded me until the very end.  Brilliantly written, this is a psychological masterpiece!  A Page Burning, Keep Me Up All Night Must Read!

My Rating:  5 He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not 's . . . And that's the truth!

Cross My Heart . . . xxx


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Worth The Wait Review

Title:  Worth The Wait
Series:  McKinney/Walker #1
Author:  Claudia Connor
Release Date:  Jan. 10, 2017
Order Link:  Amazon

My Rating:  5 Passionate Second-Chance 's

*Many thanks to the author and publisher for a copy of this book.

He doesn't know how he's lived without her, but he knows he doesn't want to anymore. 

Nick Walker found his one and only when he was just nineteen.

Found her.
Loved her.
Lost her.

Now this FBI Special Agent will do anything to win her back.

Nick Walker thought nothing could destroy what he had with Mia. He certainly never thought he would be the one to destroy it. But when his sister was taken, even getting her back couldn't save him. She was his responsibility. He was supposed to protect her. And he'd failed. 

Now ten years later, Mia James is in Special Agent Nick Walker’s path once again and this time he’s determined to shed the weight of guilt and finally claim the future that was always meant to be theirs.

But it won’t be easy. Mia’s heart was shattered by Nick and now, just when she’d pieced it back together, it’s been broken again, bringing their past to the surface, including her own secret about that day everything went wrong.

I love a second chance love story when it hits on all cylinders . . . when the couple involved is believable, the emotions real, the pain agonizing, the passion intense - when the author makes me care so much that I feel every hurt, every regret, every lost opportunity just as deeply as the couple involved.  Worth The Wait is one of those rare gems of a second chance love story that hits on all cylinders.  I was immediately drawn in and felt every high and every low with these characters all the way through the last page.  I laughed, cried, and mourned with them.  I felt the heat of their passion and the devastation of their loss.  I'm not going to rehash the story for you - you need to curl up on the couch and take this emotional journey yourself - as I did, reading it in one sitting.

Worth The Wait flashes flawlessly between past and present, allowing readers to experience Nick Walker and Mia James falling in love and then later . . . falling apart.  It speaks of passionate once-in-a-lifetime love, sacrifice, responsibility, and fate.  It also speaks of loss, heart-shattering pain, guilt, and regret . . . and ultimately, of forgiveness of not only others, but of ones self.  It speaks of opportunities lost and second chances.  As an added bonus, the strong support cast includes favorites from the McKinney Brothers trilogy - Matt, Abby, Stephen, and Hannah as well as others.  While you can read Worth The Wait as a very satisfying standalone, the McKinney Brothers is an awesome series that is well worth your time.

Worth The Wait is an intensely emotional story that took me by surprise as I alternately smiled and wiped tears throughout the story.  Nick and Mia touched my heart as I pulled for them every step of the way.  Beautifully written, this book will resonate within me for a long time.  The good news is . . . there are three more Walker brothers with stories that need to be told!  And I can't wait!  Worth The Wait is a Page Burning Must Read!

My Rating:  5 Passionate, Second-Chance 's . . . And that's the truth!

Cross My Heart . . . xxx


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

IWSG: Eyes On The Prize in 2017

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.

Many thanks to the co-hosts for December: Jennifer Hawes, Jen Chandler, Nick Wilford, Juneta Key, JH Moncrieff, Diane Burton, and MJ Fifield!

I can't believe I'm looking at 2016 in the rearview.  Never seen a year pass so fast.  It was a tough year on many levels, but one filled with blessings all the same.  Real life obligations demanded time I would have preferred to designate for writing, but hey - that's life, right?  

I'm taking a little time in December to file away any regrets I harbor about things I didn't accomplish in 2016.  I'm organizing and formulating my plan of action, then planting my feet on the floor, butt in the chair, fingers on the keyboard, and eyes on the prize in 2017.  Looking ahead at what I want to accomplish rather than behind at what can't be changed brings me to the IWSG Question of the Month.

Question: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

This is a hard one for me . . . partly because where I see myself in five years in terms of my writing career is where I had hoped to be NOW, and the simple fact is I'm not there yet.  But - that's looking in the rearview - so with my eyes on the prize, I see myself with at least one book published in five years, hopefully two or more.  I see myself writing everyday, not sporadically.  I see myself making writing the priority in my life (after family) not something I do when time permits.  I see myself making this dream I've had all my life become my reality.  How?  I've made some progress on building my author platform, establishing a presence on social media and drawing readers to my blog.   Now, I think one of the most important things for me is to make writing The Priority and work on my follow through.  I could whine and say there's never enough time to do it all and that's true, there isn't. But, my plan is to keep my Eyes On The Prize . . . sometimes easier said than done, but that's the only way for me to turn dreams into reality. 

Where do you see yourself in terms of your writing career in five years?  Do you have a plan to move you toward that goal?