Tuesday, September 30, 2014

{Review & E-Books Giveaway} FOUR WISHES by Christine Nolfi

ASIN #: B00ND8T714
File Size: 1269 KB
Page Count: 255
Copyright: September 5, 2014
Publisher: Christine Nofli; 1st Edition

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Meade Williams has a successful company, an ailing father—and a secret desire to find love at last. Dr. Mary Chance isn’t sure the time is right to expand her family. Birdie Kaminsky has married the man of her dreams, but yearns to grow closer to her powerful sister. And young Glade Wilson must confront the daunting truth that she’ll become a mother before finishing high school.

Welcome to Book Four of The Liberty Series, where the heartwarming stories of love, friendship and family life unfold in surprising ways.

The books of The Liberty Series serve as stand-alone novels you may enjoy in any order. Look for the other books in the series: Treasure Me, Second Chance Grill and The Impossible Wish. Future releases coming soon.

Mandy's Review:

Okay ... if y'all follow my reviews very often you already know that I adore this series. I love the town of liberty and how close the residents are to each other. The small-town feel is something I long for, especially after finishing one of these novels. I think one of the main things I enjoy about this series is that everything usually turns out okay and people find a way to move on.

Mary has her hands full with teenage Blossom, her step-daughter. Recently, Blossom has gotten miffed about the fact that Mary hasn't given Blossom a younger sibling. With Mary being the only doctor in Liberty, her schedule has gotten pretty full and hectic. It doesn't help that Anthony, Blossom's dad and Mary's husband, is also ready to have another child. Can she find a middle ground that will satisfy both her workload as well as her husband's and step-daughter's desires?

Birdie was recently engaged to Hugh. With the drama over her mother vandalizing the town (see The Impossible Wish), Birdie hasn't even thought about wedding arrangements. Thankfully her older half-sister Meade is organized and domineering enough to handle getting everything taken care of in three weeks. What most people don't know is that there will be an extra unplanned, but happily anticipated, guest at the wedding.

Meade is a successful business owner who has dreams of expanding across the country. She has it all mapped out in her 10-year plan. What she didn't have included in her plan was a romance that would tear her schedule all to pieces. Add into the mix taking care of her aging, Alzheimer-acting father and Meade's stress level is through the roof. Can she get everyone and everything back under control? Will she allow the romance to stunt her business expansion?

And then we have Glade. Glade is the great-niece of Reenie, Meade's father's housekeeper. Glade just popped in out-of-the-blue after running from home. When she shows up, she is VERY pregnant. Meade takes Glade on and gives her a helping hand by getting her obstetrician, optometrist, and dental appointments. She also finds out Glade dropped out of high school and gets her info, books, and a tutor to help her pass her GED. Will Glade stick around Liberty after the baby's born? Will Glade keep the baby or give it away?

Once again, Christine Nolfi has written a novel that will make you want to keep turning the pages. There was some unexpected sadness in this novel, which I understood and appreciated. In the midst of all the good things, sometimes bad things happen. You have to choose whether or not you're going to let it keep you down or if you're going to take your time to grieve and then move on. Yes, it's hard, but life is so much more than the bad things that happen to you.

I highly recommend this series to those who enjoy reading novels that make you smile and wish you were there.

*An ecopy of this novel was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Giveaway Info:

This giveaway will remain open until Sunday, 10/5, at which time one winner will be randomly chosen to receive a Kindle copy of all four Liberty Series novels!!! Good luck!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

{Review} CONDUIT by Angie Martin

Page Count: 357
File Size: 2224 KB
Copyright: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Indie World Publishing & Author Services

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

How do you hide from a killer when he's in your mind?

Emily Monroe conceals her psychic gift from the world, but her abilities are much too strong to keep hidden from an equally gifted killer. A savvy private investigator, she discreetly uses her psychic prowess to solve cases. When the police ask her to assist on a new case, she learns the killer they seek is not only psychic, but is targeting her.

The killer wants more than to invade her mind; he wants her. Believing they are destined for each other, he uses his victims as conduits to communicate with her, and she hears their screams while they are tortured. She opens her mind to help the victims, but it gives him a portal that he uses to lure her to him. With the killer taking over her mind, she must somehow stop him before she becomes his next victim.

Mandy's Review:

This book had a first for me. I've heard of psychics, psychics entering others' minds, and even psychics who help out the police. What I've not seen before are psychics who use people as conduits to amplify their own powers. I rather appreciated the ingenuity of that thought process. It's rare when I read a plot element I've never seen before.

Emily conceals her psychic gifts because her mom (in my opinion) hates her and her abilities. Emily never understood why so, growing up, she would stay with her aunt who had the same abilities as Emily. With her aunt's help, Emily began to understand her powers. With the death of her aunt, though, Emily stopped growing her powers and just maintained what she knew. When the serial killer started trying to contact her through the conduits, Emily unwittingly opened her mind up to him allowing him access to her thoughts. Is there someone that can help her get rid of the dark power inside her?

I rather enjoyed this novel. The characters are thoughtfully written and mesh well together. I think the serial killer could have been just a bit smarter to make the plot more suspenseful. He made some mistakes that I don't believe a smart, thoughtful serial killer (as he was depicted) would've made the mistakes he did ... like making sure one of his victims was actually dead before leaving the scene. Overall, though, I would recommend this novel to those who enjoy a mystery.

*An ecopy of the novel was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

{ARC Review} THE TURNING SEASON by Sharon Shinn

ISBN #: 978-0425261697
Page Count: 352
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Ace Hardcover

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

In national bestselling author Sharon Shinn’s latest Shifting Circle novel, a woman must choose between hiding her nature—and risking her heart...

For Karadel, being a shape-shifter has always been a reality she couldn’t escape. Even though she’s built a safe life as a rural veterinarian, with a close-knit network of shifter and human friends who would do anything for her—and for each other—she can’t help but wish for a chance at being normal.

When she’s not dealing with her shifts or caring for her animal patients, she attempts to develop a drug that will help shifters control their changes—a drug that might even allow them to remain human forever.

But her comfortable life is threatened by two events: She meets an ordinary man who touches her heart, and her best friend is forced to shift publicly with deadly consequences.

Now Karadel must decide whom to trust: her old friends or her new love.

Lupe's Review:

So, at first, I didn't know if I was going to even like this book. The first couple of chapters weren't anything special to keep me hooked. But because I am doing a review, I really wanted to finish it-and boy, am I glad I did!

A book about friendship and loyalty, morals and ethics and moral ambiguity, and even some love, Shinn did a great job combining all of those elements with the supernatural that was just so seamlessly stitched in. I loved it. Honestly, I couldn't put it down. And just when you think you have it all figured out, BAM! Plot twist! Then you have it figured out....NOPE! But it was all done so well that at the end, you have to just put it down and go, "Wow. That was amazing!"

The characters are fleshed out, challenging and so real; I mean, let's face it, we ALL have the crazy party friends like Celeste and the homebody ones like Karadel. Shinn makes the whole group fit together like one big puzzle, with just a little piece missing, and then *poof* we get Joe. I mean, really, the chemistry between them all was just so fantastic, and once you get to the end and look back, you even put together all the little hints left behind that help you realize that you could have solved it all a while back. I love books like that!

I really enjoyed this and I think I will check out more of Sharon Shinn's work in the future.

*A paperback copy of the book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, September 26, 2014

{Review} NOT WITHOUT YOU by Harriet Evans

ISBN #: 978-1476746036
Page Count: 448
Copyright: February 11, 2014
Publisher: Gallery Books; Reprint Edition

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)


Sophie Leigh’s real name is Sophie Sykes. But she hasn’t been called that for years, not since she became an A-list movie star. Living in Los Angeles, she can forget all about the life she left behind in England. But she’s lost something of herself in the process, too.

Glamorous 1950s starlet Eve Noel had none of Sophie’s modern self-confidence. She didn’t choose her name. A Hollywood producer did. In fact, he made all her decisions—what to wear, when to smile, who to love. Right up until the day she simply vanished from the spotlight. No one knows where she went, or why.

As Sophie’s perfect-on-the-outside world begins to crumble, her present col­lides with Eve’s past. She must unravel the mystery around her idol’s disappear­ance before it’s too late for them both.

Mandy's Review:

We never know how what we do will affect others in the future. What if our career echos throughout the years and something we created inspires someone else? That's kind of what happened here. Eve Noel is a famous Hollywood actress admired by Sophie Leigh. Sophie knows all of Eve's movies, where she lived in Hollywood, and that Eve lost her sister in death when she was young. What Sophie doesn't know is that her life will collide with Eve Noel's in the near future.

Sophie is an actress stuck in the same dippy-girl rom/com roles that people seem to either love or hate. She's eager to break out of the mold and do something with more heart ... and acting ability. Her manager, Artie, thinks Sophie changing her style of acting is a bad idea and tries to convince her to do one more rom/com. Sophie is pretty adamant about doing a more serious movie and travels to England for the filming.

Around the same time, Sophie's experiencing some scary events. Someone's threatening to kill her on social medias. Someone's been breaking into her house and leaving white roses ... which gives Sophie a creepy feeling, but she's not sure why. It turns out white roses are something Eve Noel passionately dislikes, and with good reason.

The chapters are mainly concerning Sophie and her present-day life. At the end of some of the chapters, Eve's past story is told. The similarities between the two coincide more often than not. What differences there are become defined by Eve's submissive nature and Sophie's determination to change her life.

Eve's story tore at my heart. She gave in way too much and lost much of her life to others and what they wanted for her. Will she ever find the happiness she has wanted for so long?

I really liked this novel. Eve's story drew me in more than Sophie's, even though Sophie's life involved threats and stalking. I think it's because Eve's story was more of an internal struggle. If you're a fan of fiction where past and present come together in a beautiful, heart-wrenching story, then Not Without You needs to be added to your personal library.

*A physical copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

{Cover Reveal} THE TROUBLE WITH FAKING by Rachel Morgan

Release Date: November 27, 2014
Book Blurb:

After a stupid miscommunication, everyone in Andi’s new res thinks she’s secretly dating Damien, boyfriend of resident queen bee Charlotte. Since the rumor’s already out there and refuses to be squashed, Andi and Damien decide to keep up the facade in the hopes of snagging the attention of the people they/really/want to be with. What could possibly go wrong?

Add The Trouble with Faking to your Goodreads To-Read bookshelf by clicking here.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Yes, today is Stephen King's 67th birthday!

The incredible Mr. King was born in Portland, ME. His parents divorced when he was a toddler. Stephen and his older brother lived with their mother after their parents' separation. They lived for a time in Indiana and Connecticut, but his mother eventually moved Stephen and his older brother to Durham, Maine for good.

Stephen married his wife, Tabitha, in January 1971. They survived the early years on his salary as a laborer at an industrial laundry and Tabitha's student loans and savings. The occasional sale of his short stories to men's magazines helped their income as well.

Doubleday & Co. accepted the novel Carrie for publication in the spring of 1973. Major paperback sales of Carrie were enough for Stephen to leave teaching and become a full-time writer. The rest, as they say, is history.

To read his full biography, you can visit his official website here, which is where I garnered the above information.

Upcoming Television Appearances:

Stephen King will appear on the season two opener of Finding Your Roots, which airs on PBS. We've provided you with the preview below.

International Giveaway:

In honor of the brilliant horror-master's birthday, we're hosting a giveaway in his honor. The giveaway is open internationally as long as the Book Depository ships to your country. The giveaway will end on 9/27 at 11:59 p.m. The prize will be a Stephen King novel valued up to $25 USD.

The winner will be randomly chosen and contacted on 9/28. If the winner fails to respond within 48 hours, then another winner will be randomly chosen in his/her place.

Good luck!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Q&A with Paolo Giordano, author of THE HUMAN BODY

1.)  Much of The Solitude of Prime Numbers came from your background as a theoretical physicist, yet THE HUMAN BODY centers on a very different landscape: a battalion of soldiers at war. How were you able to tap into the mindset of these characters and paint them as realistically as the characters in your first book?

I was in Afghanistan twice as an embedded journalist in the Italian Army, in December 2010 and December 2011. These experiences, though short, were enough for me to grasp the details I needed about military life, about the conflict (of which I didn’t fully know beforehand) and about the place. The point is that these details are always the easiest part in a novel. What is truly difficult, in any kind of story, is to build real, living characters.
Because there are many characters in the book, this process took many months, and I think I approached it in a very similar way to The Solitude Of Prime Numbers. I tried to give to each soldier a part of my own personality and a few of my memories and developed him/her starting from those. I’m not sure whether the result is a complete and faithful picture of people serving in the Army, but for sure it is a wide picture of the currents that flow inside of me – a sort of spectral analysis of my inner self.

2.) How do most Italians feel about their country’s involvement in Afghanistan? How did that shape the way you wanted to tell this story?

Most Italians—and I was among them before thinking of this book—are simply detached from the mission in Afghanistan. There is a sort of collective removal about the conflict, though we have many soldiers involved in it, and though this war has been going on for more than ten years now. The overall feeling is that we shouldn’t be there at all and that the mission hasn’t brought any meaningful result, but there is no real discussion about it—the issue is simply avoided, unless in the 24 hours after the loss of an Italian soldier. This sort of indifference involves the military life as a whole: only the people involved seem to care about it. I live very close to these big barracks in Turin, surrounded by high walls. I used to go jogging in the park nearby and, until I started thinking of this book, I didn’t ask myself what happened inside there—it was something that didn’t concern me at all.

3.) What spurred your decision to write about the soldiers in your novel? Did you have past military experience?

No direct experience. The military service in Italy is not mandatory anymore and I would have hated doing it at eighteen years old. Ten years later, though, I realized that I had some sort of longing for a time spent among people of my same age, a longing for a collective experience (still, not for weapons). Life driven by studies doesn’t provide many occasions for living among others like you (in Italy we seldom spend the college years in campuses etc.). Also, by the time I decided to do my first trip to Afghanistan, I felt a mysterious attraction towards war. I’d just read The Naked And The Dead by Norman Mailer and couldn’t figure out what exactly in that book struck me so much. I had to go there and find out.

4.) Similar to the characters in The Solitude of Prime Numbers, many of the characters in THE HUMAN BODY are outsiders, shy or introverted, which contrast with the “alpha-male” stereotype of a soldier. What draws you to characters that are sometimes socially awkward and not comfortable in their own skin?

There are also a few alpha-males in the novel. But that’s, as you suggest, a stereotype and literature should always avoid stereotypes (or play with them). I met many different people in the Army, but most of them were more of the introvert kind. I had the feeling that many young boys ended up there, looking for a way out of something—families, the places where they grew up in. I think they were looking for a shelter, more than fighting. I found this very moving and very close to my own sensibility. That’s basically what drove me to write about them—I could very easily imagine myself in their shoes.

5.) THE HUMAN BODY has already drawn some impressive comparisons to the great war stories of the last century—Lawrence in Arabia author Scott Anderson cited Heller’s Catch-22 as an apt comparison. Do you think writing about war has changed as the nature of war itself has changed?

That’s very flattering, thank you. War narrations still share many aspects, I think. I experienced that, once you decide to place a story in war, you are no longer completely free. It’s like the spirit of war itself comes into it and drives part of the work. But, of course, there are specifics about these so called “new wars.” They are way more similar to the First World War than to the Second or to the Vietnam War, that produced so much of the recent literature both in Europe and in the U.S. That’s why I chose an extract from Erich Maria Remarque’s Nothing New On The Western Front for the opening of the novel. These are basically still conflicts, not much action in them. Soldiers wait and wait for an enemy that’s almost invisible. Most casualties are due to explosions etc. This reminds a lot of the cruelty of the First World War. The lack of confrontation with the enemy and the fact that these wars are fought in deserts make them psychologically sneaky. And that offers new interesting challenges to a writer, I guess.

6.) The majority of THE HUMAN BODY is written in the omniscient third person, which closely follows members of third platoon, Charlie Company. In a few chapters, however, the point of view changes, and is narrated from the perspective of Lieutenant Alessandro Egitto, a medical officer. What is it about this character and his story that prompted you to switch the narrative focus?

After one year of work on the novel, I felt very immersed in the place and in the characters, but Afghanistan and the idea of war felt a little too abstract to me, like I wasn’t yet getting to their core. I needed a direct connection between my everyday life and the conflict. That’s how the first person of Lieutenant Egitto came in. Once I started using it, I realized that there are so many little wars we fight also in our own lives—within families, within groups of any kind, and also against ourselves—and that these wars have the very same dynamics of the big ones: alliances, ambushes, betrayals, etc. We know war much better than we are willing to admit. The voice of Egitto was the bridge I constructed between Afghanistan and Europe. I guess I wanted the reader to feel overwhelmed by that distant war, in order to re-establish the missing participation.

7.) In the last few years, modern war novels and story collections like Ben Fountain’s
Billy Lynn's Half-Time Walk, Kevin Powers’s The Yellow Birds, and Phil Klay’s Redeployment have not only garnered critical acclaim, but were hits with readers world-wide. In your opinion, what is it about the Iraq/Afghanistan wars that are drawing so many writers to explore them? And, in your opinion, how does THE HUMAN BODY add to this conversation?

It’s way different here in Europe, where the attention to war is very low. As I already said, I’m afraid that we’ve lost our connection to war, which was so relevant in the literature of the last century (I’m thinking of Calvino, Pavese, Fenoglio and Levi, only to name a few Italian authors). I think writers are understanding that such a loss is very dangerous, because it’s right when you forget about war that one gets started again. Many books came out in Spain and in France on the subject in the last couple of years. I think there is a common feeling that it’s up to us writers to rebuild a conscience about war. Also, I’m convinced that each war deserves its own novel. Not only: each side of each war deserves its own novel, because that’s the only way to build an everlasting memory of such a crucial moment. I don’t know what The Human Body can add to this all. I hope it may at least be interesting for the American readers to understand a European perspective on the conflict that we’re both involved into. The American version has been way more explored than ours, but there are differences, I think.

8.) What do you want to write about next?

A new novel has just come out in Italy. It’s called Il nero e l’argento (The Black And The Silver). It’s the story of a young couple with an only child and of the old maid who’s worked with them for many years. This lady, called La signora A. (Ms. A.) takes care of everything and is a sort of witness and strong reference for the couple, but she gets sick of cancer and has to leave them. The novel follows the last year of La signora A. and the consequent difficulties that the young family has when it ends up alone. It’s a small story, very intimate, and I hope it will soon be available in the U.S.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

{Book Spotlight} LASTING SUMMER by Kailin Gow

Lasting Summer by Kalin Gow
Book #5 - Loving Summer series
New Adult Romance

Summer Jones thought she lost Nat Donovan, the boy she had always had a crush on since she could remember, when he went off on a mission to find his father, the founder and CEO of Donovan Dynamics, the billion dollar security and intelligence corporation who is now protecting her from the stalker who has attempted to kill her twice. 

He had always been her rock, had always been there for her, but now Nat has disappeared. According to Donovan Dynamics, it was for good.

Could Summer continue on? Could Nat's playboy one-night stand legend brother Drew Donovan live up to Nat's legacy as the family's perfect son, as the one who could eventually run Donovan Dynamics? With Nat gone, could he finally get Summer to commit to him with all her heart and soul?

All the secrets, all the heartaches, come out in Lasting Summer as the Donovans and Summer learn to deal with the truth about Nat, Drew, and Summer that will test each others' love to each other and to family.

Lasting Summer is part of the Loving Summer Series appropriate for age 18+.

Add to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1vrabPf


Check out Book 1 in the series

Loving Summer
Barnes & Noblehttp://bit.ly/1tfyoY6

About Kalin Gow
Kailin Gow uses her author platform to bring awareness to issues affecting young adult and women. She has appeared on national radio as a regular guest on topics such as body image, self-esteem, dating and sexual relationships, bullying, and more; often brought up in her fiction books for young adults and women. 

She is a graduate of the Annenberg School for Communications Masters in Management program in journalism, marketing and publishing at the University of Southern California.

An ALA YALSA Reader's Choice Nominated Author for her YA series, Frost Series, in 2011, she is also a speaker at BEA, and multi-author signing event organizer for the popular Rockin' Events. 

Having traveled to over 25 countries, lived in the American South, in California, Las Vegas, and briefly in England; Kailin Gow feels blessed to be able to use her experiences and inspirations to bring characters and stories from the places she visit, to life.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

{Review} THE REACH OF THE BANYAN TREE by Mark W. Sasse

ISBN #: 978-1499713008
Page Count: 300
Copyright: June 16, 2014
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

(Taken from back cover)

Chip Carson intends to marry a young Vietnamese woman named Thuy until a tragic accident forever alters the outlook of their relationship. As he struggles to cope with their strained love, a mysterious stranger appears, bearing a journal about Chip’s grandfather who parachuted into French Indochina at the end of World War II. As the words of the journal reveal a life that Chip never knew, he begins to understand the depth of love and sacrifice needed in order to have a second chance with Thuy.

In a moving work of sweeping scope, The Reach Of The Banyan Tree explores themes of love versus loyalty, desire verses duty, destiny versus fate, and family versus the individual - illuminating the familial ties that either bind us together or tear us apart.

Charlene's Review:

Chip Carson, eager to escape his controlling father, moves to Vietnam . Once there, he meets Thuy, a Vietnamese girl, and they fall in love. Tragedy strikes, and Chip finds himself in jail, where a mysterious man brings him a journal that connects him to his past, and reveals a link to the beautiful land of Vietnam. As time passes, and Chip faces the law of an unforgiving and corrupt government, generations of men come together and test The Reach Of The Banyan Tree.

In the foreword, Mr. Sasse writes of the banyan tree: "A banyan tree sees all, knows all, and keeps many secrets. It knows a time of bondage and a time of freedom. Its reach never stops; it keeps growing and expanding regardless of circumstances, regardless of difficulties. Time and destiny are on its side. In the end, the grands banyan tree, with its thirty-foot expanse, will once again sense order restored to the universe." In the evolving story of Chip, his father, and grandfather in The Reach Of The Banyan Tree, the reader will see World War II Vietnam, and present-day Vietnam, and how each generation spreads its shadow onto the next.

Mr. Sasse's love of Vietnam and its splendor paints a realistic backdrop for the story. I could almost feel the dirt on my feet, and the humid air on my face. The conflict between the cultures, and the ensuing heartbreak were palpable, as we look behind the scenes and experience the characters emotions. There is not a detail left out to detract from this sensational story.

Weaving together a love story with intrigue, action, and historical fiction, this is a beautiful book by a gifted author that has something for everyone.. Most accurately, a familial tale, it teaches the reader of the roots that ground us, the shelter of our forefathers, and the expanse of our actions over further generations.

5 out of 5 stars!

*A physical copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


File Size: 1683 KB
Page Count: 239
Copyright: January 14, 2014

Book Description:
(Taken from Amazon)

Wine, romance, and French bureaucracy - the ups and downs of an American's life in Paris. This laugh-out-loud memoir is almost too funny to be true!

Drinking too much bubbly. Meeting sappy Frenchmen who have girlfriends or are creeps or both. Encountering problème after problème with French bureaucracy. When newly-single party girl Vicki moved to Paris, she was hoping to taste wine, stuff her face with croissants, and maybe fall in love.

In her first book, this cheeky storyteller and semi-professional drinker recounts the ups and downs of her life in Paris. Full of sass, shamefully honest admissions, and situations that seem too absurd to be true, Vicki makes you feel as if you're stumbling along the cobblestones with her.

Will she find love? Will she learn to consume reasonable amounts of alcohol? Will the French administration ever cut her a break?

Mandy's Review:

I accepted this book for review because I thought it'd actually be hilarious. I was looking forward to laughing so much my stomach hurt and I'd be crying from not being able to stop. Sorry, but, didn't happen. There were moments where I did actually laugh or emitted a chuckle. They were few though. I'm thinking this is because I've not been across the pond and haven't experienced Parisian life. I've heard the French are a bit snobbish. Perhaps one day I'll make it a point to go over there and see what the fuss is about.

Confessions of a Paris Party Girl reads like someone's blog posts, which is where I'm guessing this material came from. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. It lends an air of personality and reality to the book, which is sometimes missing from novels. I appreciated that. Vicki's snarkiness was something I could relate to since I'm a huge fan of, and often use, snark and sarcasm.

No, this book wasn't as funny as I'd anticipated, but it wasn't bad either. It does give you a very informative view of how an expat would endure various situations in Paris. So, while this wasn't a favorite of mine, I think it would be enjoyable for those who've experienced Paris.

*An ecopy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, September 15, 2014

{The Bookish Inquisition} Transcript of Our Chat with Christine Nolfi

Thank you to everyone, especially to author Christine Nolfi, who helped make our very first Bookish Inquisition a huge success!!! If you weren't able to join us, never fear! We have a transcript of yesterday's conversation below. Enjoy!

LitRR Mandy
Hi, Christine! Thank you for being willing to do this!

I'm shivering in anticipation ... I hope my replies are witty. :-) Can't believe I've reached 85K followers on Twitter. How did that happen?

LitRR Mandy
That's amazing! You're an awesome person and writer. It was bound to happen.

Thank you.

LitRR Mandy
Absolutely! So, being from Ohio, I have to ask - Where did you live there?

I lived in Newbury, outside Chagrin Falls on the far east side of Cleveland. 12 acre farm -- great place to raise kids.

LitRR Mandy
Sounds amazing - were you born there?

Yes, I was born in Cleveland. Have lived around the country: Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Virginia, etc. I've also lived in Utah and now South Carolina.

LitRR Mandy
So, being born in Cleveland, you know there's a town just outside named Independence. Is that where you based Liberty, Ohio on?

The Liberty Series is loosely based on Chardon, Ohio. I chose the name "Liberty" because I wanted to make a statement about the U.S. family.

I was wondering how characters are developed - are they based upon famous characters, friends, etc.?

I'm never sure how to answer that question. My characters form through an odd process - I begin writing first person essays, as if I'm the character. This is a bit like the process actors use when preparing for a role. I don't develop a plot until after the characters are formed. This is the difference between mass market and closer-to-literary fiction (if you're wondering).

Interesting! I always assumed plot first, then characters.

Plot does come first in commercial fiction -- romance, suspense, etc. I think readers feel my characters are real because I go through a rigorous development process.

LitRR Mandy
I would think it's easier to to build a plot once the characters are developed. You know their nuances and moods.

It is easier to develop a plot after characters: if you know the people you're writing about, it's easier to find the natural conflicts they'd encounter.

I was wondering how many more books there will be in the Liberty Series? Or are you thinking about something different to write next?

I'm beginning a new series; won't write the 5th book in the Liberty Series until next year. My new project is outside women's fiction. It will be more spiritual in content. The series will be set in my new hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. I'm thinking about publishing in shorter segments. This will allow readers to give feedback as the series progresses.

LitRR Mandy
Like a chapter-by-chapter?

More like every 15,000 words. Several chapters.

So readers can suggest or give thoughts on the story line?

Yes, they can. I met Hugh Howey in April at Pubsmart and he made some comments that really struck me: publishing is now fluid, and we can publish in shorter segments. Listen to reader feedback then proceed.

Might be good for us binge readers! :-)

Binge readers will love this format! After I release the first 5 sections, I'll bundle them together in a traditional ebook. I'll release the first 2 sections free.

Free? Like that!

Free is the best way to experiment with a new project. Plus releasing short sections first, before developing the paperback version, is cost-effective for an author.

LitRR Mandy
How so?

Art and editing for the paperback version is expensive. For each book I've produced, I've invested around $1,000. Of course, many authors don't pay for editing or a graphic artist. But I feel both are necessary.

LitRR Mandy
Editing is absolutely necessary. It's a slight pet-peeve of mine when authors don't edit.

Many authors starting out can't afford to pay a professional editor. I think it's wiser to save some money before releasing a first book to ensure you have the funds for a professional edit. It's impossible to build a loyal leadership if your books aren't of the highest quality -- meaning you need an editor. Many writers jump into independent publishing without a real sense of the demands of a publishing career -- the expenses in particular.

LitRR Mandy
I think most feel they need to get their story out there and rush to do it. Which is sad, because sometimes their work could be great if they'd take the extra time to invest some money.

I agree with Mandy. But I can also see where the excitement of just writing your own book and wanting others to enjoy it also would make authors jump at the chance for self-publishing.

Not just the money investment -- many new writers need to join a critique group. I understand the excitement element. However, you only get one chance at a debut novel. If it's awful, readers turn away.

I know that I enjoy reading debut novels. It's great to find new talent!

I had a rule when I released my debut: if the reviews weren't good, I'd quit.

LitRR Mandy
Where would one find a critique group, Christine? I didn't know such a thing existed.

Do you join critique groups for your own pieces or to help others?

The best critique groups I've seen are managed by Romance Writers of America. Every city in the U.S. has at least one RWA critique group in operation. You don't have to write romance to join RWA -- for years I was an associate member. I think anyone serious about becoming a career novelist should begin in a critique group. I believe Mystery Writers of America also features local critique groups. Best way to learn the mechanics of storytelling. I no longer work in a critique group but would love to teach a college course on Novelist 101.

LitRR Mandy
Ooohh ... If it was an online class, I'd like to participate!

That's a great idea. I should run an online class on storytelling mechanics.

You absolutely should! I always wanted to write. I just don't know how to start.

Oh that would be fun, I think! Would you encourage people to try things like NaNoWriMo?

I think NaNoWriMo is fabulous. Learning to turn off your internal editor and let the ideas flow out is a critical facet of storytelling craft.

I was told to just write down thoughts and put them into a format later. Christine, do you think that would work?

Yes -- begin by writing down thoughts. Let the ideas flow. Afterward, go through and edit.

Do you ever do plot outlines?

I do outline the plot after becoming well acquainted with the main characters. All of my novels are populated by a large cast. Part of my process, I suppose.

How did you find publications that accept work from unknown writers?

Kathy, back then (the 1970s) a new writer could submit just about anywhere. 9/11 changed publishing: editors feared bombs in packages, and many would no longer accept unsolicited submissions. Meaning a writer needed to submit through a literary agent.

Gotcha. So do you work with an agent? And if so, what is the process like?

How do you find a "respectable" agent?

Agentquery.com is a great site for finding a lit agent. I worked with two lit agents over 3 years. New York editors loved my novels. They simply weren't sure where to place them in a bookstore. My books blend elements from romance, literary, mystery and comedy.

Kathy, working with an agent: you send a query letter with a short sample of your work.

How long does your writing process last? Like from idea to publication?

LuDo, that's a great question. I've published 6 novels and written many others ... there is no "one process" for developing a novel. Each work is different. Some books come together in a matter of months; some, like The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge, took several years to reach completion.

Why do you think some take longer than others? Plot lines? Characters? Time?

I think it's the subject matter presented in the novel. If I'm writing something light and comedic, like Treasure Me, much of the book is comprised of dialogue, which is easier to write. The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge is a literary work dealing with sexual abuse. It took much longer because I wanted to ensure I was writing realistically from the point of view of a small child.

LitRR Mandy
How did you balance being a writer with being a mom?

Looking back, I think the universe poised me to leap into publishing. My marriage fell apart, and I was confronted with the question, "What do I want to do with the rest of my life?" And I knew I wanted to write novels. So I began getting up at 5 AM and writing for several hours before the kids left for school. Finding balance: I wrote around my children's schedules. And I worked out at the gym to ensure I'd have the stamina for novel-writing and single parenting of four kids. It wasn't easy!

Woah ... Good for you! What books are on your current 'must read' list?

I just finished The Bone Clocks because it's also a more spiritual fiction. But my series will be more ... optimistic? I should hope so! I also recently read The Signature of All Things. My favorite read for 2014.

What is your biggest struggle as a writer?

My biggest struggle at this juncture is organization. With 6 books published, I need to spend more time on the business aspect. And I'd rather write all the time.

What did you do between adopting your kids and starting to write full time?

This is the timeline: I owned a PR firm until age 37 when I adopted my kids. Then my marriage fell apart at age 44 and I began writing full-time.

Did you give up the PR for your kids and/or writing?

I knew I couldn't continue in PR after adopting 4 special needs kids. We spent years at the Cleveland Clinic (my kids had been abandoned in the jungle).

LitRR Mandy
Well, everyone, if there aren't anymore questions for Christine we'll go ahead and close this out.

Mandy, thanks for having me. Thanks, ladies, for joining!

LitRR Mandy
Thanks to everyone for joining us today!

If you're an author, publisher, or book-related person and you want to participate in The Bookish Inquisition, please send us an email with short bio, and any necessary links, to thebookishinquisition@gmail.com.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

{Review} THE IMPOSSIBLE WISH by Christine Nolfi

File Size: 900 KB
Page Count: 242
Copyright: January 10, 2014
Publisher: Christine Nolfi; 1st Edition

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Welcome to book three of the Liberty Series, where the heartwarming stories of love, friendship and family life reveal an uplifting second chance for the town’s newest arrival.

Hector Levendakis has failed at every job he’s taken on. Now he’s determined to do something right.

The notorious swindler and master of disguise Wish Kaminsky is about to arrive in Liberty and that means trouble. Liberty is the town that open-heartedly welcomed her daughter. Recently engaged, Birdie has turned her life around—and Wish is the last person she wants to see.

When Hector learns of the reward posted for the capture of Wish, he leaves Philadelphia to take up the challenge. Haunted for years by an inescapable guilt, he’s seeking redemption by bringing the con woman to justice.

The hunt for Wish brings Birdie and Hector together in a story of friendship and trust. As they try to set things right, each will discover that dreams are possible when friends join together and lovers forgive in equal measure.

The books of The Liberty Series work as stand-alone novels you may enjoy in any order. Look for the other books in the series: Treasure Me, Second Chance Grill and Four Wishes.

Mandy's Review:

The Liberty Series do work as stand-alone novels, but I enjoy reading them in sequence. It helps familiarize me with the town and the townspeople. For example, Birdie first entered Liberty in Treasure Me, the first Liberty Series novel. She was sent on a treasure hunt by her conniving, thieving mother, Wish Kaminsky. Once Birdie found the treasure, she was supposed to return to her mother with treasure in hand. What Birdie did instead was clean up her act and stay in Liberty, with a cousin she never knew she had. A huge offense to her mother.

Now, in The Impossible Wish, Wish is coming for her daughter, Birdie. She's angry Birdie never returned and Wish is set out on revenge against the town Birdie has grown to love. Along the way to Liberty, Wish hires a couple of two-bit thugs to do some dirty work for her: rob houses of the people Birdie has grown to love, break some shop windows that are in the town square, and basically just make life difficult and stressful for Birdie and the residents of Liberty.

Will they ever be able to catch the crafty, slippery Wish? Will the residents of Liberty bounce back from all the trouble that's befallen them?

Perhaps my reading and reviewing the Liberty Series is a bit biased since I adore this series. The plots of all three novels are well thought out and flow seamlessly. If you're looking for a new series to put on your, virtual or real, bookshelves then adding the Liberty Series would be a wonderful addition.

*An ecopy of this novel was gifted by the author via Amazon in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

{Blog Tour: Book Spotlight} NO REGRETS by Liliana Rhodes

What happens when you live your life believing in no regrets?

Life hasn't been perfect for plus sized Deborah Hansen. Still reeling from her grandmother's death, her increasing pile of debt, and finally graduating college, she decides its time to pursue her dream of becoming a fashion designer. 

Working as a tailor in a fine department store isn't high on her list, but it has its perks and she meets one in the form of a man she calls "Mr. Sexy". William King isn't just any sexy man though, he's the ultra-private billionaire heir to a fortune Deborah knows nothing about.

When Will's mysterious past puts the two lovers in danger, will the truth bring them closer together or finally tear them apart?

Buy it on Amazon: http://bit.ly/NoRegretsAM


Liliana Rhodes is a USA Today Bestselling Author who writes romance with fun, engaging characters. Blessed with an over active imagination, she is always writing and plotting her next stories. She enjoys movies, reading, photography, and listening to music. After growing up on the east coast, Liliana now lives in California with her husband, son, two dogs who are treated better than some people, and two parrots who plan to take over the world.

Friday, September 12, 2014

{Cover Reveal} REVEAL by Brina Courtney

AND there are new covers for the series!

You think seeing ghosts is weird? Tell me something I don't know. 
My childhood best friend Jeremy, happens to be a ghost. 
My life is a puzzle, and the biggest piece missing has been my dad. Since his disappearance when I was six it's been tough, but Jeremy has been by my side through it all. 
But now Jeremy has gone missing too and I feel like I'm never going to get all the answers I've been looking for. 
Fate intervenes when Hugh, a real live college beefcake, starts taking an interest in me. He divulges that he also shares my little "gift" of seeing the dead I know I'm finally getting closer to finding all the pieces. 
However, the more the puzzle is completed, the more questions I have. 
Senior year is hard enough as it is, but clearly I like a challenge.
Get Reveal for FREE here on Amazon: http://bit.ly/RevealFree
Get Reveal for FREE here on Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/RevealFreeBN
Get Reveal for FREE here on Smashwords: http://bit.ly/RevealSW

You can find these two (with their beautiful new covers) on Brina's Amazon author page: http://bit.ly/BrinaAmazon

Here is an excerpt from Brina's upcoming release, the Camryn Cross series, releasing October 27...
“You have to run. You have to go now Camryn!”
My blood pumped through my body like it was on fire. I didn’t want to leave but something was telling me to go. Something besides my frantic mother.
“I don’t understand! What’s going on?”
My father looked at me sternly. “The world is falling apart. You have to go, to be safe.”
I shook my head. “You have to come with me,” I pleaded. I was only seventeen, I didn’t want to go alone.
The looked at each other, their eyes sparkling with the liquid from their tears. My mother nodded. “Take Kiley,” my father said.
“Kiley? But shouldn’t she be with her family?”
“She won’t have a family soon. Now go pack a bag for camp. I’ll call her family.”
“It’s the right thing to do,” my mother agreed solemnly.
“But you have to tell me why! Why do you want me to go to camp? I haven’t been there in years!”
My mother grabbed me and pulled me into a warm hug. “It’s the only place you’ll be safe. You’ll be with your own kind.”
I pulled away from her, “My own kind? What the hell does that mean?”
My mother looked away. I looked to my father for comfort. “Dad, what is she talking about?”
He sighed. “She’s talking about other babies that were born like you. People who are special. You, Camryn, you are so special.”
Special. My own kind. My heart raced. Who was I?
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