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Review: The Black Door, by Charlotte Howard

BDAmazon US

Amazon UK

This is not the first Charlotte Howard book I’ve read, and it certainly won’t be the last. Her writing has seasoned and matured to the point of very near perfection. The Black Door kept me engrossed from the beginning till the very end. I snacked on unhealthy foods while I was reading, because I simply could not bring myself to leave the story for as long as it took to make a sandwich. Oh, Ms. Howard, you are a wicked writer, and I love your books.

One thing that sets the author’s voice apart is the depth of her observations, the way she bares all, the lack of censorship. There is no way you could be ignoring her characters, because not only do you get to know them, you become them as they struggle to make it through life’s sneaky and often overwhelming challenges.

Everything about this novel is original. Don’t even think you can guess what’s through that keyhole. I will not give the plot away, not one bit, because I could never do it justice. There are so many aspects of this story that rang true with me, so many instances of ‘phew, I had a lucky escape when I was in her shoes’, and still, there was enough humour to lighten the mood and make it all a beautiful experience. “Adventurers Only,” says the cover. I took the leap of faith, and loved my journey. What are you waiting for?

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award ella

For the depth of feeling, for originality, and for an outright beautiful experience, The Black Door wins for Charlotte Howard the Life Changing Read Award. Congratulations! It is very well deserved. Come and join my Awesome Authors Gallery.

 

 

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My review of Seven Dirty Words, by Charlotte Howard.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on August 12, 2014 in Book Reviews

 

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One of my all-time favourite books is #FREE

So I couldn’t just keep it to myself. Go get it! BLOOD OF THE KING, the first book in Khirro’s Journey, is free on Amazon. I don’t know for how long, so get it now. Bruce Blake, its author, is one of the first to be awarded the Life Changing Reads Award, here, on my blog. You can find him in my Awesome Authors Gallery. Read the review.

And here’s the book I’m talking about:

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Warning: you will get hooked on Bruce Blake’s writing!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on June 19, 2014 in Just A Thought

 

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Review (and an AWARD): Back to December, by Patti Korbet

PK bookAmazon US

Amazon UK

I knew I was in trouble as soon as I was done reading the first page of this book. There was no way I was going to be able to stop myself from reading more. But I was busy. So the clever thing to do was to put it aside and pick it up again when my schedule cleared. Only I told myself a few more pages wouldn’t hurt.

By the following day, when I finally finished reading, my work schedule had suffered a lot. Warning: this is not a short read, or a boring one. Make sure you’ve fed your family and pets before you sit down to read.

Just take this intro. It’s an absolutely classic hook.

“Emily Ward could pinpoint the moment everything in her life changed, and it wasn’t even her moment. It was the second Dan proposed – not to her, but to her little sister, Charlotte.”

From here on, this book only gets better and better.

I loved Emily right from the very beginning, perhaps because I could identify with her so easily. It was almost as if I could see myself in her – well, if I was younger and prettier, anyway. The other characters are beautifully formed. Rob… Ahhh, Rob… Who could resist him? I still dream of him. Even the secondary, rarely mentioned characters I loved. I feel invested in them all, so much so that I’m experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

So after gushing over the characterization, you’d think that’s it, right? Wrong. The plot is so much fun, so I-know-what’s-gonna-happen-next… until it doesn’t. Loved, loved, loved the twists in the plot, and the ending was fantastic – the perfect happily ever after.

I’ve been bowled over by the deep insights and meaningful perception of family relations, greed and envy, and redemption, shown by this author. It takes a lot of living to learn all that. Or a lot of sensitivity. And a lot of talent to relay it in a story just right.

At heart, Back to December is a romance, but one with many layers. It’s hard to explain quite how profoundly enjoyable I found this book to be. At this particular moment in time, I have one conundrum: do I proceed to book 2 in the series, or do I re-read this one?

Brilliant read. I wholeheartedly recommend it. Well done, Patti Korbet. Five stars are just not enough.

 

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For the depth of feeling this novel has awoken in me, for the tears it made me shed and for the giggles that made my family look at me with a she’s-lost-it frown on their faces, I award Back to December the Life Changing Read Award. Congratulations, Patti Korbet! I am so pleased to be able to add your name to my Awesome Authors Gallery. Thank you for a wonderful experience.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on May 2, 2014 in Book Reviews

 

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Review: End of Dreams, by Kim Faulks

End of DreamsAmazon US

Amazon UK

You have to read this! You absolutely have to read this book! I wish and pray that one day I’ll be able to write like Kim Faulks. Her ability to engage, build suspense and heighten drama is amazing.

Right from the beginning we are introduced to a brilliantly-written, most unhinged character: Edric. I won’t tell you what he does…you’re best to get the full ‘punch’ as you read it.

And then there’s Rashda, and Adley, and Eve, Kali, Harmony, Jinx – so many others – and each and every character is individual, with their own voices and mannerisms, their own desires and history, deep and multi-faceted, as complex as any human being would be. Perhaps now would be a good time to mention that not all of them are human, but boy, are they amazing!

The storyline twists and turns and twists again, and the suspense was killing me! I had this incredible urge to skip through so I could see what happens, but at the same time I couldn’t because too much was going on, and all of it was important. I was sucked in good and proper. And beware the extra layers to this fictional society – there may be parallels you can distinguish, just as dark and dangerous as the real thing!

The descriptions are very good, the pacing perfect. The ending opens up some incredible avenues. I cannot wait to read the sequel. There was absolutely nothing about this book that I didn’t like.

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I’ve enjoyed this book far more than should be allowed. It doesn’t seem fair that five stars are all I get to award. So I’m going to go one better. I’m going to award Kim Faulks the Life Changing Read Award and add her to my Awesome Authors Gallery. A very well deserved spot, Kim! Congratulations!

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2013 in Awards, Book Reviews

 

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Supper Sweet Blogging Award

This is a new one – not seen the Super Sweet Blogging Award around. Well, I guess my pictures of cakes attracted the right kind of attention! So, thank you very much, Siobhan. I needed a sweet treat!

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Siobhan is a romance novelist. Her first novel, The Only One, is set in Hong Kong, and her work in progress is set in Italy – she gets my vote for the setting! Visit her blog here.

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THE RULES

Thank the Super Sweet Blogger that nominated you.

Answer 5 Super Sweet questions.

Include the Super Sweet Blogging Award in your blog post

Nominate a baker’s dozen (13) other deserving bloggers.

Notify your Super Sweet nominees on their blog.

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THE 5 SUPER SWEET QUESTIONS

 1. Cookies or Cake?

Oh, no! Do I have to choose? Can’t I have both? Fine, I’ll have cake then! Only because there’s a wider variety of flavours! 

2. Chocolate or Vanilla?

Lime. Or raspberry! With chocolate chips or drizzled chocolate sauce. 

3. Favourite Sweet Treat?

Hot waffles with lashings of icecream or whipped cream on top, and a bit of warm caramel sauce. And some chopped pecan nuts, preferably toasted!

4. When Do You Crave Sweet Things The Most?

Oh! There has to be a time? I hadn’t realised. Ok, then… when I’m awake. 

5. Sweet Nick Name?

Sweetie pie! And I’d like 1£ for every time I heard that! 😉

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My 13 NOMINATIONS FOR THIS SWEET AWARD GO TO…

Emily

Sherry

Emma

Sakina

Kristie

R. J.

Trish

Janna

Carrie

Cree

Karen

Caroline

Kit

 
10 Comments

Posted by on June 21, 2013 in Just A Thought

 

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Three Awards and a Hop

I’ve been awarded! Again! So I must be doing something write (see what I did there?). Okaaaay, cringe if you must. Anyway, this post is all about thanking the people who thought I was awesome (were you sober at the time? Just checking…) and revealing a little more trivia about the intricacies of my mind.

Please don’t be offended by the combined post. I’m a little tight on spare time at the moment – as always – but I realised that if I don’t do something about it now, there’s a chance I never will. So, here goes, in date order.

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1) The Shine On Award

– given to me by sweet Emily Guido. Thank you so much, Emily. It took too long (twelfth of January!), but I’m finally there. Emily is the most amazing person you’ll ever meet. There’s so much strength in that one person, and so much determination, you’ll be surprised! Check out her blog here.

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2) Steve awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award (on the fifth of May – sorry for delay, Steve, and thank you!).

I’ve met Steve Smy on the blogger grapevine and (though I seldom find time for comments) I often sneak a peek at his posts. Read more of them here, and have a look at his writing, too. He’s got a good voice.

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3) The WordPress Family Award

– which is my newest, received on the tenth of June from R.J. Keith. She writes A LOT. Have a look here. R.J. is on my TBR, and I will get to it. One day. I will. Thank you for the award, R.J.

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Now, all of these awards require some sort of levy – in the form or sharing information about yourself, answering set questions, nominating others, etc.

I’m going to take the common points from all – which are to post the logos, thank the people who nominated me and link to their blogs – but the rest of the requirements I’m going to braid into my own little twine of disclosure and I’m going to make it writing-specific this time.

Enjoy!

1) The first novel I wrote still lays unfinished in a dusty (virtual) folder. I wrote it to fit a location I liked. Wrong approach to writing a novel!

2) I wrote Martin Little, Resurrected on a cushion on the floor, with earphones on and music just loud enough to drown out the children’s chatter or TV programmes – not ideal, but if the kids could see me, they were less likely to interrupt. Go figure!

3) I wrote the first draft of Blood is Heavier mostly at work, plus a two-week vacation.

4) Only after I had to force the book’s ending at over a hundred thousand words, did I figure I had enough material to make Blood is Heavier into a trilogy, if I allowed the story to develop naturally, so it became the Hunter series.

5) All my writing started out as experiments – what you see is the successful ones.

6) With Martin Little, I had no plot. It is entirely character-driven, and the only rules I followed were to have nothing that had been done before in it, and to have each chapter finish on a cliffhanger.

7) In the case of my thrillers I worked on an outline, but the finer twists only came to me while doing the edits. This time my motto was: no wasted words.

8) There was one thing I promised myself I would never write: paranormal romance with vampires in it. Then I met Kristie! The outcome is our most successful books yet: the Eternal series.

9) A typical writing day starts early, with about an hour or two of email-clearing, writing the day’s blog post, and doing social media catch-up (it’s quick and quiet when America is still asleep, and I wake up gradually the more I have to form coherent thoughts), followed by any editing commitments (up to the point where my concentration begins to waver), and the rest of the time I write. I read every evening for about an hour – almost exclusively indie authors, of late.

10) Putting my ideas in book form is hard for me, because I lose interest in a story as soon as I’ve figured out all its main plot points and characters’ motivations. If I don’t write it fast, I don’t write it. Recently, I discovered a writing buddy, preferably one who can deliver a powerful virtual kick to the gonads, is the way to keep on track. Thank you, Kristie!

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I have one more commitment to honour, and that is to Carmen Stefanescu, who invited me to take part in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop.

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Carmen tagged me on 24 March! Time kept running away from me, so I’ve taken this opportunity to thank her for the invite and give you all a glimpse into my Next Big Thing.

Q1: What is the working title of your book?

Blood is Power. It is book two in the Hunter trilogy.

Q2: Where did the idea for the book come from?

I have a ‘thing’ about injustice. I find it easy to see a golden nugget in every living soul, and I don’t believe in judging people. Nick Hunter, the protagonist in my story is someone most people would stay away from, someone they might fear, someone they would most certainly judge, if they knew his story. In the Hunter trilogy I wanted to delve deeper into the human mind and, in a way, I wanted to give someone like Nick Hunter a second chance. What happens to him does not define him. He lives his life by his own rules and would turn Heaven and Earth upside down and inside out to protect his loved ones. Unlikely as it sounds, he is a hero.

Q3: What genre does your book fall under?

Action thriller.

Q4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ah! You got me there. I watch so few movies, and so little TV, I barely know who’s who. I do learn a lot from my teenage kids, though, so let me try. Tequila would be played by a blond Angelina Jolie, Maxi would be Emilie de Ravin, and Nick… oh, Nick… Matt Damon or Brad Pitt maybe. It’s hard to tell. When I see Nick Hunter in my mind, I don’t see the face. I see the soul.

Q5: What is the one sentence synopsis for your book?

An ex-contract killer has to face old demons in order to make his family safe.

Q6: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’ll self-publish this whole series.

Q7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took me six weeks, part of which I was working full-time, to write way more than I could fit in one book. Two days after I thought I’d finished I realised I had enough plot for three books. So then I had to take the initial story and split it. It took one week to have Blood is Heavier ready for publication, back in May 2012. I’m still working on Blood is Power. I’ve re-written it several times. At the moment, I hope to have it ready for release later this month.

Q8: What other books would you compare this story to, within your genre?

I would liken my style to Dean Koontz in as much as the storm brewing in my novels affects the characters and those in their immediate vicinity only. It’s Armageddon, but only for them. The rest of the world goes about its business oblivious to these few people’s predicament. The Husband and Life Expectancy would be closest, I think.

Q9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Human nature. I am fascinated with human nature. I’ve been watching people and piecing together their reactions and mannerisms so I could understand why they did what they did or said what they said since I was a little kid. It’s got easier over time, but it never lost its appeal. I could watch people all day and not get bored. That and my probably-mistaken belief that I could right some of the injustice in this world. I just couldn’t resist Nick Hunter. I had to tell his story.

Q10: What else about your book might pique the readers’ interest?

This book will make Blood is Heavier read like a bedtime story, by comparison. The villains only spoken about in book one make a full-on appearance now. Confident that his family is safe in Tequila’s care, Nick pulls out all stops to hunt down and punish every person responsible for killing his parents and kidnapping his son. He uncovers a ring of human traffickers with chilling connections into slavery, drugs and the manufacture of a certain type of pharmaceuticals, whose business dealings are right out of every human being’s worst nightmare. And it’s all legit, it seems. What can one person do, one person against a global, corrupt, yet well-oiled machine?

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Instead of nominating a variety of bloggers, I choose to let you, my friends, pick what you like. I’m always interested in people and especially what influences their creative processes. So go ahead, pick an award, or do the Hop. Leave me a link and I’ll come over and support you.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on June 13, 2013 in Awards

 

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Review: Unforgiven, by Sarah Ballance

unforgivenUS: http://www.amazon.com/Unforgiven-ebook/dp/B005NGKBN2/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1365594469&sr=1-1&keywords=unforgiven+sarah+ballance

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Unforgiven-ebook/dp/B005NGKBN2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365594576&sr=8-1&keywords=unforgiven+sarah+ballance

You must read this book. No. I mean it. Read it!

The sensual romance category does not do it justice. That’s why I don’t like specifying genres – there are so many people who would enjoy this book but would probably keep away because of the ‘label’.

The plot is complex, but clear. Riley Beckett hasn’t had the best of times since the accident, a year ago, that has destroyed her life. But even on her worst day she doesn’t expect to step into her home and be confronted by a gun. The gun is not the problem; the person holding it is.

There are so many twists and turns in this story, you won’t know what to expect. The action starts on page one and never lets up. Riley and Gage step from disaster to even bigger disaster, and from being hunted by one madman to… oh, I almost said too much. Since we’re talking about characters, let me tell you these two are perfect. Their relationship is that of two hedgehogs who’ve got their spines stuck on ‘up’ and it takes a lot of delving into the past and raking at old wounds to set things right again. And when they’re right, they’re hot!

Secondary characters are also good, have their own voices, stories and personalities. The dialogues – oh, the dialogues! – are so fun to read, so clever and lively and brimming with sexual tension. The descriptions are faultless, the pace is just right, the story flows, and the writing style is no-nonsense. A joy to read.

There’s not much else to say. This book is perfect for anyone who has lost the joy of reading – the perfect ray of sunshine to lead you back. Everyone else will love it anyway. If I could award it more than five stars, I would. Beautiful book, enjoyable to the last page. Highly recommended.

 

award ellaThis is the second book by Sarah Ballance that I’ve had the pleasure to read and review. The five-star review for Last Call is part of Sarah Ballance’s Author Spotlight – read the blurb, excerpt and review here. And if that was a very well-written book, Unforgiven is even better. In fact, I can’t see any way to improve it. Sarah Ballance simply has a flair for writing action-packed books that cannot be put down. Reading her novels has been such a pleasure, I am certainly going to make sure I get to read every scrap of writing she’s got to offer.

For her talent, Sarah Ballance deserves recognition and a place in my Awesome Authors Gallery. Congratulations, Sarah! The Life Changing Read Award is yours.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on April 10, 2013 in Awards, Book Reviews

 

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