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The New Cover for Last Shot Revealed!

Happy New Year!  Today is the day! Last Shot at Justice has its new cover, and is now up for pre-order on Amazon. That's right, ALL th...

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Review of First Crush by Ashley Ludwig

This book is fantastic. It kept me engaged and guessing through much of the book. A couple things I figured out fairly early, but I didn't know how events were going to unfold. I very much liked Nick, and I loved Natalie's strength of character. She might have saved herself some trauma by listening to Nick and Dalton a little more often, but honestly, I rather think I might have done the same thing in ignoring them.

The characters were all well drawn and fully realized. None of the main characters were hollow caricatures, and even the secondary characters felt real. I was fully invested in Nick and Natalie's relationship, and the success of their venture. I loved Corie, and Nick's mother.

The romance built realistically enough that I'd call it a love story rather than a romance - except that it really did move quite fast. If I had one quibble with the story, it would be that the flow of time was a little confusing to me. There would be mention of days passing, and the work on the property progressing at super speeds, and then come to find out only a couple days had passed when with the amount of stuff going on it felt like it had been weeks. Probably distracting enough to knock off half a star.

I liked getting inside the bad guy's head - it really kept the suspense up for me. Early on, I thought I had worked out who the Slayer really was, and I thought that it would be quite the feat to pull off, but turned out I was wrong. LOL 

As for content, there is mention of faith, but it did not feel in any way preachy. This is a clean read - one that doesn't stand out as clean, in that I wasn't thinking, "oh look, she replaced this dirty word with a cleaner one." It read smooth and there was no loss of interest for all that there is no sex or swearing. There is a bit of violence that mostly happens off screen, though we're given details of some of the fairly graphic results. I'd probably call it PG17, due solely to the two or three instances of violence. 

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Review of Four Weddings and a Vendetta by SJ McCoy

I like this book, but it definitely isn't as wonderful as the other books in the series. Probably because I don't care too much about details of weddings, and so much of the book (about 1/4, I think) was all about the four weddings. Not that that is bad, necessarily, I just don't find it interesting. 

The vendetta part of the story was far more interesting to me, which is good, because the bulk of the story was about the Remingtons trying to figure out how to deal with the thorn in their side which is Guy Preston. I thought the author did a good job of drawing it out and finally into the resolution. Not to give any spoilers, but the trick was to tie the law's hands so that it was up to the Remingtons to deal with him - without breaking the law themselves. I thought SJ McCoy walked that line pretty well.

We also got to see a lot more of Chance in this book, whetting our appetite for his story - which I understand will be a three book spinoff. Chance is a very complex character, and I enjoyed getting to know more about him. I don't know what his story is going to be about, but I'm quite sure I will enjoy it.

The four stars is entirely because of the way I couldn't get excited about the weddings. It has nothing to do with the writing, which is very good. 

As far as content, I would rate this PG17. There is a bit of innuendo, and plenty of swearing, including f-bombs - though not too much by my standards. I don't remember any graphic sex scenes, although there is reference to it, and at least one "closed door." There is also some violence, both 'on screen' and off, and plenty of suspense.

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Review of Charming Academy, by Jessica L. Elliott

Charming Academy by Jessica L. ElliottI loved this book. It is very well written, and brought me to tears (of joy and sadness) on more than one occasion. I loved how it followed the wonder and angst of being young adults who are expected to fulfill their destiny by having the character of "prince charming" or "fair damsels" in a fairy tale world come to life. 

The dramas the students went through felt very natural, even if it was angsty. I'm generally not a fan of angst. Some YA books I've read the angst feels forced, but here the ebb and flow of friendships, and each character's development as they grew throughout the school years was captivating without being annoying. 

I enjoyed seeing the various characters and trying to figure out which of the classic fairy tales they were going to become. I'm not sure I figured out what the main characters' tale was, though. 

All in all, this is a sweet, family friendly storybook that does deal with some harsh worldly truths, like death, bullying, making mistakes, and standing up in the face of something that isn't right. There are lots of good life lessons, but no hint of it being preachy or boring. In short, I loved it!

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

End of the Year? End of a Print Run!

I'm making some big changes!

Sorry if this is a wonky-looking post, but I've been trying to send it as a newsletter and it appears to have failed.So I'm posting this news here.

I've got some BIG NEWS that's actually kind of bittersweet.
I'm taking MOST of my books off sale at the end of this year.
I've come to the tough decision that I need to relaunch the books with new covers, and a new series name. While I love the existing covers, they don't quite capture what the books are about, and if I want to reach more awesome readers like you, I'm going to have to fine tune my brand. 
What does this mean to you?
Well, it means that any paperbacks with the current covers I have in stock are going to be on sale for a serious discount. Basically my cost, plus postage. And who knows? These might become collector's items someday. 
So check out my eStore and order your copies today. Once they're gone, they're gone - so don't miss out.
I've also discounted ALL eBooks to 99¢ from now until they go off sale. When they come back with the new covers, they won't be this cheap!

Here's a partial peek at the new cover for Last Shot at Justice.
If you want a bigger sneak peek of what the new covers look like, head over to my website and see if you can find the "easter egg" - that's a graphic that seems a little out of place, and is really a link to a secret page that has TWO of the new covers on it.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Review of The Nanny Song by Misty Mount

I had a hard time reading about these characters. They were all so...flawed and at times seriously unlikeable. They were so well drawn that I felt a lot of discomfort in the beginning - like watching someone have a meltdown in a restaurant or something. I felt bad for Mallory, having to deal with those challenging children, and I felt embarrassed for the whole Colt family that the fallout from their failure to deal with their grief was on such public display. And even Mallory did some things that had me shaking my head, wanting to shake her - especially when she'd drift off into la la land at the most inopportune moments. 

That being said, reading about realistic - and flawed - characters gives me a look at a world I don't normally see, and makes me appreciate what I have in my life: No kids, no drama. There is definitely a place for that in fiction.

The further I got into the story, the more I was drawn in, and I actually stayed up pretty late a few nights, reading more than I had intended. I had to see what was going to happen next - how would Mallory deal with the next crisis, and would she get caught snooping around her employer's house? And most importantly, would any of them grow out of their poor behaviors? (Spoiler - they do! Which makes it totally worth all the cringe-inducing moments.) 

I found the story arc believable, the characterizations solid, and the character growth timed to perfection. The characters - with the possible exception of the mother - were totally redeemed in my opinion. Their poor behavior lasted no longer (nor shorter) than necessary to be believable and compelling, and there was just cause for every turn and bump in their interrelationships. (Any faster and it would have been too easy. Any longer, and a sane person would have given up.) 

So why not 5 stars? Well, the ending was quite abrupt. We weren't given a real sense of what the future would really hold for everyone. I did like the building relationship between Mallory and Brendan, but I questioned their declaration of love for each other at the end. I could definitely see it building toward that end, but I didn't quite think she had enough to go on to love him. Of course he would love her, but since he was a jerk for most of the book, I'd prefer to see her waiting to see that he was really mending his ways. I also had a bit of trouble with...not their age difference, per se, but the way Mallory is so often described as a "girl." It just made it hard to see her as a potential love interest for Brendan when so often it felt like she and Meela were being described as though they were sisters. And finally there were a few style choices that I found jarring. Not really errors, just small things that jarred me out of the story a few times. So, I'll have to leave it at 4. Maybe 4.5 

As for content, this is a sweet, clean story. Probably PG, but only for some references when Mallory and Rashelle are talking to each other. There's no swearing, no hanky-panky, and no major violence - although there are references to a rough childhood for Mallory, a couple run-ins with the schoolyard bully, and some speculation as to what really happened to Brendan's wife. Don't take that to mean the story is dull, though. There are a couple exciting scenes, and plenty of drama. 

All in all, I recommend The Nanny Song as a fine clean read.