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Review–“Till Life Do Us Apart” by Carmen Stefanescu

16 Sep

Reading was my first love before writing, but since starting on this writing journey, my time to read is very limited. Because of that, I’m very selective with what I read, picking books carefully. If the books deliver entertainment and help me escape reality (which at the moment drives me crazy with all the political trash exchanged between the two candidates) that much better!

“Till Life Do Us Apart” by Carmen Stefanescu is such a book. At first the cover attracted me with its eerie and mysterious flair. I picked it up and refused to put it down, intriguing me until the very end. Carmen Stefanescu put her heart into this book and it shows. It’s the second book of hers that I read, and I hope that she has more stories to tell.  

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Blurb:

Barbara Heyer can hear voices of dead people. They whisper of their deaths, seek comfort for those left behind, and occasionally even warn her about future events. But when Barbara’s brother, Colin, is accused of murder, it will take more than her gift to prove his innocence.
Becoming smitten with the handsome investigator, Detective Patrick Fischer, is a serious complication given his assignment to her brother’s case. Barbara senses there is something far deeper—and perhaps much older—than the surface attraction between them. Could that be why she’s visited by a mysterious woman named Emma in her dreams? Could past life regression tie all the seemingly unconnected events together? Barbara and Patrick must overcome heartache to find the truth to save Colin, and perhaps themselves.

I always fear I give up too much in my reviews but, let me just say, “Till Life Do Us Apart” has an original twist on the controversial topic of reincarnation, past lives, rebirth. Aside from the main characters, I absolutely adored the dog–Jack who adds a special flavor to the story. I liked the combination of murder mystery with a bit of romance and supernatural elements. Overall this was an enjoyable read, just complicated enough, and fast moving. I wholeheartedly recommend it, you won’t be disappointed. I got my copy in electronic version but I believe the book is also offered in paperback, great for those of you who prefer it that way.

 

Review–THE COMPANION by Susan Squires

4 Sep

I rarely post reviews and when I do it it’s because the book is really deserving. Today I give you THE COMPANION by Susan Squires.

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I had the pleasure of meeting Susan during the Arizona Dreamin’ Romance Reader Event end of May. We clicked instantly, having tremendous fun talking writing, publishing and the likes.

When I travelled to California last month, I met Susan for a cup of coffee and three hours later we still had so much to talk about. She gifted me two books, one of them being THE COMPANION. If I were to describe the novel using one word and one word only it must be: hooking. I enjoyed the book so much so that I decided to post a review which went live on Goodreads and Amazon already and B&N soon, but for now here it is in all its splendor.

For those of you curious about the person behind the novel, I’m happy to inform you that Susan will be my guest next week with an interview. At that point I’ll have a giveaway going along with the interview. More to come. Until then enjoy my take on THE COMPANION.

My review:

For as long as I remember I didn’t care much for vampires. Maybe because I grew up with them in the land of Dracula (for real). Maybe because a certain vampire totally blew it for me using his superpowers to stalk/watch/control his GF.

All of that changed when I began reading The Companion by Susan Squires and was introduced to Ian Rufford. Oh my! The more I read the more I wanted to find out about him. Tortured and damaged yet strong and with a sense of dignity, Ian managed to redeem for me the entire world of vampires and for that I’m deeply grateful to Susan Squires.
I found Elizabeth Rochewell, the heroine really easy to relate to: uncomplicated, realistic, she won me over with her unassuming nature. Life hasn’t always been easy for her but she doesn’t complain nor expects people to feel sorry for her.
Events bring Ian and Elizabeth in the same place at the same time and, as much as they try to resist being in each other’s company, there is only so much space one can hide on a ship. When things begin to go wrong at every turn, Ian loses control and does something he can help but loathe himself for.
There’s much more to the story than their relationship: there’s mystery, complications, surprises and a fast pace that keeps you on your toes, reading one page after another and as soon as you think you have it figured it out, there it comes: the bomb.
I applaud Susan Squires’ ability to create fascinating characters, intricate storyline and great pacing.

Needless to say Susan Squires’ portraying of vampires during the regency left me curious and yearning for more, so much so that the entire series (6 novels to be exact) are now in my library, waiting for me to discover their treasures.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

VBT–A Fantasy Christmas. Review and Excerpt

20 Nov

Authors Cindy C Bennett, Stephanie Fowers, and Sherry Gammon have joined forces for a Christmas anthology. Each has written a romantic Christmas short story with a fantasy theme. There are Elves (think Legolas), Witches, and  Greek gods!

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While I haven’t read the entire anthology I did read Sherry’s short story Loving Marigold. My review is posted on Goodreads, Amanzon and B&N, and decided to post it here as well.

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So here we go:

As with everything else Sherry Gammon writes, I had to read her newest story titled Loving Marigold. What a delight it was. I’m not saying that because I’m afraid Marigold will turn me into a toad but because I truly enjoy the story, the characters, and the plot line.

We find out from the first pages that Marigold, a high school freshman, is a good witch, channeling her gifts and figuring out first love. We also are introduced to Jack Mahoney, the boy that aside from being tall and handsome, also plays basketball and has a lot of girls fawning over him, including the Fartitious Twins.

I liked Jack as soon as he opened his mouth; his sense of humor laced with sarcasm makes him not only funny but he stands out on the page. Next time we meet Jack it’s nine years later, when he returns to the same town he went to school with Marigold. The two of them meet again, soon realizing the sparks they had in high school never died out. Quite the contrary.

Unfortunate circumstances throw the two of them together. Past secrets are brought to the light and their love tested once again. How do they come out of it? Well, that’s something you have to find for yourself.

What I loved about this novella is its fast pace, clean plot line, its innocent romance, a little mystery and great characters. I smiled and laughed out loud many times, Jack’s quirkiness completing Marigold’s wit like peanut butter and jelly—a match made in heaven.

I’ve been a fan of Sherry’s novels ever since she began writing, finding this particular story where her voice shines through. A great read, definitely a keeper for my bookshelf.

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EXCERPT

Loving Marigold by Sherry Gammon

The familiar whisperings of witch began as I weaved through the thick crowd. I spotted Jack sitting on a desk, a can of Diet Pepsi in his hand.

“Marigold, I’m glad you came.” He greeted me with a tight grin as he stood and came toward me.

“I was passing by when I saw all of this.” I gestured to the Mylar balloons floating about the room and the blue streamers draped from the lights and across the chalkboard. “I came in to see what’s going on and saw the cake.”

“Really?” he questioned. “Fiona and Felecia said they invited you, but you had a date with some guy you’ve been seeing over in Grantsville.”

For a moment, I could have sworn sadness touched his eyes, but looking closer into the deep pools of brown, I saw nothing.

I let the comment pass, fearing I’d lose my temper over the lie the sisters told him and feed the witch rumors. “Where are you going? Is there a basketball tournament I didn’t know about?”

“No. I . . . Uh, I’m moving to Port Fare, New York.” His voice held a strange chill now. Why is he acting so weird?“The high school there has an awesome basketball team and my parents think I’ll stand a better chance at getting a college scholarship there than I will at Podunk, West Virginia High.”

“Your dad’s giving up his job for the chance that you might get a scholarship?” The move seemed a bit impetuous. Jack had talent, but Dirk, the forward on the team, played better.

“My dad works from home so it doesn’t matter where we li—” Two of Jack’s teammates jumped him from behind and one poured a bottle of Gatorade down his back. Jack howled playfully as I jumped back.

“You’re dead, Cliff,” Jack shouted after the boy with the now empty bottle. “Sorry, Marigold. I have to get a little revenge. Maybe we can talk later.” Jack took off after his teammates and I turned to leave, not wanting to be there another moment. Was I the only one who imagined that the week we’d spent together was special? It also hurt that he so readily believed the twins about my having a boyfriend.

“Why the tears, witch?” Fiona asked. She appeared out of nowhere, blocking my escape route. She propped her hands on her hips, her short denim skirt rode up several inches. Felecia, wearing almost the exact same outfit, mimicked her sister’s pose.

“Excuse me. I don’t want to be late for my bus.” I dropped my gaze downward, too upset to try to deal with their games at the moment. I attempted to go around the obnoxious twins, only they were having none of it.

“You actually believed Jack liked you, didn’t you?” Felecia asked, flicking a strand of my frizzy hair.

I snapped my head up and glared into the girl’s watery gray eyes. “Is that why you lied and told him I had a boyfriend and couldn’t come to the party?” At least, I hoped that was what happened. Because if Jack really didn’t care about me . . .  I shivered at the thought.

“We know you’ve put a spell on him, witch. He wanders the halls searching for you between classes, and Fiona caught him doodling your name on his notebook,” Felecia bit out between her clamped teeth. “He’s clearly bewitched.”

“So you’re protecting him from me then?” I asked, stepping toward the twins.

“That’s right.” Fiona offered up a nasty sneer. “I saw him first, and since I can’t compete against your black magic voodoo, I invented a boyfriend for you. Now Jack thinks you’ve been playing both ends.”

I moved even closer as they each crept back. “Wh-what does it matter, witch?” Felicia said, her hands shaking. “He’s leaving in the morning for Port Fare. You would have lost him anyway.”

I stopped. They had a point. What did it matter? The boy I loved was leaving. The only person ever to have defended me against the witch taunts. I turned for the door, but stopped when I heard the twins’ snide laughter. It burned hot in my stomach. Before clearing the door, I casually flipped my hair over my shoulder, or at least I hoped it looked that way to my classmates. In fact, the gesture meant much more. Through my strands of hair, I wiggled my index finger at the Farious twins. A stink rose from the girls so vile people actually tripped over themselves in an effort to escape. When the unmistakable noises started, laughter filled the room and fingers pointed at the girls who would forevermore be known as the Fartious twins.

 

Review–Arms Wide Open by Juli Caldwell

28 Sep

As I promised during the Stuck In A Good Book Giveaway Hop here my review for the witty novella called ARMS WIDE OPEN by Juli Caldwell.

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Once in a while I come across a story that makes me laugh out loud. A story that within the first sentences captures my attention for its easy flow, characters’ traits and funny/witty mood setting. And I can’t stop reading or laughing, falling in love with the heroes and rooting for them till the very end.
ARMS WIDE OPEN by Juli Caldwell is one of those stories I’ll definitely read over and over again. Easy to finish in one sitting this novella follows Lauren, a grad student whose life measures in tiny breaths of sanity mixed with mending a broken heart. At her roommate’s insistence Lauren attends a speed-dating event where people meet others in five-minute short sessions. Little does she know that her life is about to change in ways she hadn’t expected (if you assumed it is because she meets Prince Charming, I hate to disappoint you but it’s not). It’s something totally unexpected that will have your eyes goggled and saying, “WHAT????”
For someone who wrote a crazy scary novel (called PSYCHED, which had me sleeping with the light on, seriously) I applaud Juli Caldwell for her ability not only to switch genre, but for doing it in such a great manner that her voice sounds different, really funny and above all, unique and clear.
I loved this story and in the end I found myself wanting more of Lauren’s humor and delightfully funny sarcasm. A well-deserved 5-star review.

Get your copy today for only .99cents. Worth every penny.

Author In the House–Sherry Gammon with her newest release UNBELIEVABLE. REVIEW

23 Apr

Today I welcome my dear friend and critique partner Sherry Gammon with her newest release Unbelievable. I had the pleasure and honor to read the novel as she wrote it and jumped at the occasion to write a review for it. There is also a giveaway associated with her book tour. For your chance to win click here.

 

Blurb:
Deliah Lopez Dreser’s in town to take care of family business. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but there’s more to Lilah than meets the eye. Cole’s in danger of losing his heart when this firestorm throws sparks his way. However, is she simply playing him for the fool in order to exact revenge for her brother’s murders?  
Maggie and Seth’s reaction when the truth is revealed pushes friendship to the limit. And this time around it won’t be a Dreser causing an uproar in Port Fare. It will be Cole’s good friend Booker. But does Booker have it all wrong? Usually not!
MY REVIEW:

Following the heroes from Unlovable, who become secondary characters in Unbelievable, this book celebrates a homecoming. As Cole (who in Unbelievable was a supporting actor) takes the stage, we see him grow from a clumsy doctor (yeah, believe it or not, doctors can be clumsy) into a young man with a heart willing to forgive, fight for the truth, and love despite so many obstacles.

Enter Lilah, a would-be villain turned heroin. She uses Cole as a ticket into his circle of friends. Her thirst for revenge turns against her when she least expects it. The more she plays Cole, the harder she falls for him. Beautiful arcs for both main characters lead to a well-deserved ending. Each chapter is written from either Cole or Lilah’s point of view, giving the reader a clear image of how their feelings evolve and change for one another.

Without giving too many details out, let me just say that the twists and subplots will have you jumping out of your seat (friendly warning: don’t get a manicure while you’re reading—you’ll end up biting your nails in a few very tense places).

Kudos to Sherry Gammon for giving Cole his own story. I look forward to Booker’s story, which is next… right, Sherry?

Author Bio

Unlovable was Sherry’s debut novel and quickly rose to many top seller lists on Amazon. She is pleased to announce that Unlovable is currently being made into a movie. She has added three more novels to her body of work. Souls in Peril, the poignant story of Max Sanchez who is on a journey to help the struggling JD Miller survive high school, and Pete & Tink, a fun, light-hearted novella of a manga-loving geek and and five-and-a-half inch fairy. And UNBELIEVABLE, Book 2 in the Port Fare Series.
Sherry and her husband, along with their children and a couple of crazy dogs, call Upstate New York home. It is where she spends her nights writing instead of sleeping {:

Review Souls in Peril by Sherry Gammon

26 Sep

My rating:

Because I’m a huge fan of author Sherry Gammon, naturally when she released Souls In Peril I had to have the book.
What I like about Sherry’s work is that she talks openly about real life situations in a fictional world, builds characters that anyone can easily fall in love with, and writes endings that leave you wanting more. And Souls in Peril delivers exactly that. Her narrative is smooth building up tension and ending with a well-drawn climax. Not for one second did I know where the story headed, but rather flipped page after page impatiently wanting to find out.
This young adult novel is one of my favorite reads this year. Max, the main character, goes through one of the best arcs I’ve read in a long time. He’s the perfect guy (senior in high school) living in a perfect world. He’s not arrogant, but he’s not humble either. I’d say confidence is one of his strongest qualities. Unfortunately tragedy strikes and Max falls deep, losing everything and then some.
Next, we follow him through a brand new journey with trials, conflicts and doubts to fill a lifetime. Enter JD, the school’s most bullied student with whom Max has no other choice but to… coexist for a while.
Sherry drives the reader to real emotions masterfully creating trials, conflicts and doubts. You’ll cry and laugh, ache and root for these heroes. I also liked the messages that come with this book, that life is worth living, that we should never give up and we should always try our best. As life goes on and routine sets in we have a tendency to forget how important these things are. Truth is—tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone.
I recommend this book to everyone loving a good, clean YA for themselves or their teenagers–so worth reading it.

My review is up on Amazon, GoodReads, B&N and iTunes.

Marie Tillman’s memoir THE LETTER–5 Star Review

24 May

They say behind each successful man, there’s a smart woman. I say behind each hero there’s a Marie.

The Letter by Marie Tillman is a heartfelt insight into her life after her husband’s death as well as a journey through all stages of grief she’s experienced since then. Pat Tillman’s life had been in the spotlight very little before he died as both he and Marie have shied away from the public eye, preferring the coziness of their home, the serenity of their relationship, the comfort of their love. The NFL player who gave up a successful career as a football player to enlist in the army became an icon after his death in April 2004. The circumstances surrounding his death still create a lot of controversy, including two congressional hearings and multiple investigations. Somehow Marie had to learn how to cope with the media infatuation with her husband as well as with all the attention she unwillingly received.

I applaud Marie for her ability to capture real feelings, real emotions making the book that much more intense, allowing readers a close look into a grieving heart. The book contains very little dialogue, but it’s easy to follow and finish in one sitting. Its simplicity, its reflection on life’s fragility and what matters most as well as how Marie chose to navigate through the murky waters of healing is done gracefully. From a shy lotus lily living in Pat’s shadow, Marie grew into a confident woman, working constantly to keep Pat’s legacy alive. She went through the stages of grief in her own way, at her own pace, and came out not completely healed but stronger.

The Letter is a compelling, poignant memoir, a true story of heroism and altruism behind the deadly lines of war.