Thursday, January 12, 2017

What You Don't Know Review Tour! (+$20 Amazon GC Gift Card Giveaway)

Title: What You Don't Know 
Author: Elka Ray
Series: N/A
Pages: 148
Date Published: 2016
Publisher: Hoffman Press
Format: Kindle
Genre: Suspense 
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours

Synopsis:
An American lawyer dreams of killing his trophy wife in Thailand. A Vietnamese soldier goes mad in a haunted forest. A bereaved mother's trip to Cambodia ends in tragedy - or does it?

One of Asia's top crime writers takes you on a spine-tingling journey from the jungles of Sumatra through Bangkok's seedy bars to the seemingly sedate streets of Singapore. Your traveling companions are a slew of dark emotions - fear, grief, jealousy, greed, lust and revenge. And your destination?

With flashes of black humor and hard-to-forget characters, these stories shine light into some of Southeast Asia's darkest corners.

~My Thoughts~
I really enjoyed these stories. Elka has a writing style that's very passionate and detailed. Her storytelling is compelling and enjoyable at the same time. I loved the dialogue  because you really feel like these characters are speaking to one another. The movie in your head never gets interrupted and you can feel the flow instantly. 

I'd like to spend some time just playing around in Elka's imagination, as she's got a lot going on in there! Then again...maybe something unfortunate would happen because most of these stories have teeth and edges that are a bit blacker than I'm used to. Still, very enjoyable and different. 

Although the stories were full of a juicy kind of tension, they were still the safe kind of tense where you enjoy yourself. I really enjoyed that the South Asian flair brought me into experiences and cultures that I'm unfamiliar with but loved learning about. 
~Try an Excerpt!~
“Kyle?” I yell. I’m sure my son is gone, sucked down to the bottom.


Blinking against the blood, I see him lying face down on the deck. He’s got himself wedged against the boat’s sides like a rock climber. I call again and he twists his head. I must look pretty bad, because he gasps. “D—dad?”


The boat is still rocking, but not enough to tip. Water sloshes back and forth. Kyle pushes himself onto his hands and knees. We both look around. Beneath the streaks of rain, the sea is dead calm. No swell. No big whitecaps. Nothing.


“Shit. What happened?” says my son. His face appears bleached. “What was that?”


I’ve been boating in these waters for going on two decades but can’t explain what hit us. If it was the wake from a big cargo ship there’d have been more waves. That wave came from nowhere. Was it a whale? I shake my head. “I…I don’t know,” I say.


The engine has stalled. My hands are shaking so hard I have trouble restarting it. It roars to life once, twice, only to cut out.


"Daaaad! You're flooding it," says Kyle, his voice a hysterical whine. "It won't start! It won't start! You've flooded it!"


I grit my teeth. "Fine, you try."


If he hears, he doesn't respond but just hugs his knees. "My god. My god. She's here. She's here." He says it over and over again.


"Shut up!" I yell, and my son stops. He presses his palms to his cheeks. I force myself to count to ten before trying the motor again, terrified that Kyle's right: If the motor is flooded, we're stuck out here.
~Meet Elka!~ 

At the age of eleven, Elka Ray co-founded the Double Trouble Detective Agency. She’s been on the lookout for mysteries ever since. Elka’s latest book, “What You Don’t Know: Tales of Obsession, Mystery & Murder in Southeast Asia”, takes readers on a darkly suspenseful tour of the Far East. Her first novel, a fast-paced romantic adventure titled “Hanoi Jane”, was published by Marshall Cavendish in English and DT Books in Vietnamese. Elka’s next novel, the thriller “Saigon Dark”, will come out with Crimewave Press in November 2016. Elka is also the author and illustrator of a popular series of bilingual kids’ picture books about Vietnam.

Elka divides her time between Hoi An in Central Vietnam and Canada’s scenic Vancouver Island. When she’s not writing, drawing or reading she’s in - or near -the ocean.


Elka will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Applicant (+$50 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: The Applicant
Author: Aidee Ladnier
Series: Busted Labs #1
Pages: 47
Date Published: 2017
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Format: Kindle
Genre: m/m Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours

Synopsis:
How can something so cuddly and adorable be so destructive? The teddy bear robot decimating his lab is only the first disaster of the day for roboticist Forbes Pohle. If he can figure out how to end its rampage, he still has to interview applicants for the position of research assistant and convince the time traveler on his doorstop that they should be making their future right now.


Oliver Lennox didn’t travel back in time to have a quickie in the blast chamber—but it certainly is fun. This younger Forbes is a sweeter, more innocent version of his lover. And it will be hard to leave him behind in the past.

If you like sexy nerds, humor, plenty of action, and a love story not even time can disrupt, this romantic adventure has the perfect credentials for the job.


~Try an Excerpt!~
A wiry man stood on Forbes’s doorstep. He was dressed in a T-shirt, tight black jeans, black nail polish, and red Chuck Taylors. His strawberry blond hair was spiked up in front. The corners of his eyes and his freckled nose wrinkled.


Forbes blinked back his surprise and opened his mouth, expecting words to come out. He cleared his throat and tried again. “Come in.” Forbes waved him inside the house. “I’m Forbes Pohle. I’m the one who posted the job listing.”


The man grinned and held out a hand. “Very pleased to meet you, Dr. Pohle. I’m Oliver Lennox. Please call me Oliver.”


Forbes blushed at the title as he clasped Oliver’s warm hand. Forbes was a PhD three times over, but he hadn’t put that in the advertisement.


“If you’ll come this way, we can talk in the lab.” He turned and walked back down the hallway to the adjacent laboratory, assuming the applicant would follow.


“Oh, I didn’t come about…,” Forbes heard him say before he ran into Forbes’s back. To be fair it wasn’t his fault. Forbes had stopped short in the lab doorway.


During the few minutes he’d stepped out to answer the door, the laboratory had been destroyed.
~Meet Aidee!~ 
Aidee Ladnier, an award-winning author of speculative fiction, began writing at twelve years old but took a hiatus to be a magician’s assistant, ride in hot air balloons, produce independent movies, collect interesting shoes, fold origami, send ping pong balls into space, and amass a secret file with the CIA. A lover of genre fiction, it has been a lifelong dream of Aidee's to write both romance and erotica with a little science fiction, fantasy, mystery, or the paranormal thrown in to add a zing. 
Aidee will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

REVIEW: The Diamond Head Deception (+$50 Walmart GC Giveaway!)

Title: The Diamond Head Deception
Author: James Blakley 
Pages: 216
Date Published: 2015
Publisher: Inkwater Press
Format: Kindle
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Source:Goddess Fish Blog Tours
Buy Me!

Synopsis:
After putting Iowa crop insurance cheats out to pasture, independent insurance fraud investigator Luna Nightcrow heads to Hawaii, but not for a vacation. The Shilpa, an Indian ocean liner, sinks and Luna is hired to determine if it still carries "Pacific Splendor" (a rare diamond insured for $15 million). The trouble is that Luna's not the only one looking for the diamond. Secessionists, sportsmen, and other suspects might sink to any depths to recover or smother Pacific Splendor.
~My Thoughts~
A plain and simply mystery that will lead you through highs and lows and twists and turns like nobody's business. 

This book is very plot-motivated. It goes raging forward with little care for painting the setting/imagery or really delving too much into the characters. This made for a rapid, energetic read, but I did feel as though I wanted a little more from the main characters and much more from the side characters to give me a fuller picture of who they were and how they were working through the context of the story. Luna Nightcrow was probably the most fleshed out character, which makes sense given that she's the lead, however it did feel like she was really the only one who had a whole lot of depth to her. Many of the side characters felt very much the filler material and lacked a sense of motivations and desires of their own outside of the plot device that they fit. 

Blakley's writing style is intelligent and professional. I felt that good old feeling like I was watching a movie while reading, and this "movie" was full of excitement and adventure. I read it quickly, in just one sitting as I flew from DC to Florida and it was a great exercise in adventure and storytelling. 
~Try an Excerpt!~
When dispatch confirmed, Valerosa hit the brakes and twirled a U-turn. The squad car took off in the opposite direction and didn’t stop, until it reached a small, red-and-white colored light house state park off the highway. And parked on the road that led to the historic marker and small picnic area was a battered, gray cargo van with a blown back tire.

Valerosa brought the squad car to a screeching halt. She drew her Smith & Wesson 9 MM pistol and got out. Luna followed, but Valerosa signaled for her to stay back. The Detective Sergeant moved swiftly toward the van. Once there, she peeked through the driver’s side window. No one was inside. Then, Valerosa proceeded to search around and below the van.

Meanwhile, Luna decided to try the light house. She crept down the narrow dirt path to the cliff on which the old structure stood. Once there, she noticed the door was ajar. The insurance investigator drew the Browning semi-automatic handgun from her back pocket. She pushed the door open and stepped inside.
~Meet James!~ 
James Blakley was educated at Missouri Western State College and Washburn University. While at MWSC, he was a local and national award-winning columnist and section editor of "The Griffon-News." Blakley worked 10 1/2 years as a page and as an Assistant Librarian for the River Bluffs Regional Libraries of St. Joseph, MO. He currently lives in Topeka, KS where he worked for The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library and several years in clerical and customer support capacities for international computer companies, such as EDS and HP.
 James will be awarding a $50 Walmart GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

REVIEW: Fearless Destiny (+$15 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: Fearless Destiny
Author: Annette Bower
Series: N/A
Pages: 275
Date Published: 2016
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Format: Kindle
Genre: Romance
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours

Synopsis:
From the Romance Review Readers Choice nominee, Annette Bower, comes a new small town romance, Fearless Destiny. Tiffany George, riding high on her commission as a fresco artist, returns home for some deserved rest and relaxation.
The drive is uneventful until she rescues Will Cleaver on the side of a highway. While savoring memories of a kiss and a well formed butt, her future goals do not include a romance.

Once in town, she discovers the hopes and dreams of her community hinge on the development of a new resource mine and Will Cleaver’s designed neighborhood. Her parents demand she give up art and resume her working partner role in the family business. Tiffany George is pulled by her community roots and stretched by her newly discovered independence.

Will Cleaver knows about taking charge of destiny. He models the courage she uses to become the woman she needs to be.

~My Thoughts~
I love the cover. The leading lady has such a badass haircut and she's the perfect combination of sassy and sweet. It fits Tiffany perfectly as she's got a passionate and artistic streak that makes her an true individual. She's searching for her independence and trying to find out where she's going in this life...but of course love has other plans for her. 

I really related to Tiffany's conundrum of feeling the pull of the family business versus the desire to get out and do what you're really passionate about. That can be such a hard pressure to deal with, and Annette handles the delicacies of the emotional turmoils on both sides of the issue very well. 


Tiffany's "I don't need a man" refrain kind of grated on me. It could have been because it's a romance book so...come on...there will most likely be a romance anyway. But aside from that, I felt like she didn't really have a good reason for being adverse to a relationship. What I did like is that once she got over herself, the romance flowed quickly and easily between Tiffany and Will. I liked that it was a very sweet romance. This isn't the sort of read where you'd be hiding your blushes should someone catch you reading in public. It's a genuine, fun, and lively romance that you will enjoy from beginning to end. 


~Try an Excerpt!~
Turning onto the highway that led into the town of Apex, Tiffany George saw an abandoned gray compact car. Her father’s voice rang in her ears, Don’t drive by stalled cars on the highway. You never know who needs you. Slowing to a stop, she grabbed her flashlight and tucked her cell phone into her pocket.

She expected to see an empty vehicle. Tiffany felt like an unprepared Girl Scout when the light illuminated dark eyes. A hand pushed through black hair. The man’s discomfort was obvious. His shoulders braced against the seat.

“Can I help you?” she called through the window.

“I’m not sure.” His jaw muscles tensed, while he shaded his eyes against the flashlight.

“I’m going to open the door.” Her forearms and biceps bulged, and her sandals skidded on gravel but the driver door wouldn’t budge.

“Locking system jammed.” His speech was slurred.

“That doesn’t happen. Have you been drinking?” She sniffed for alcohol.

“No. Pain.”

“What kind of pain?” She watched him with first-responder alertness. “Heart attack?”

“No.” He bent down toward the floor.

Growing up as her father’s helper in the family plumbing business, Tiffany knew her way around vehicles.

The man’s head slumped onto the headrest. “Okay, Mister, tell me what’s happening.”

“Muscle cramps in both legs.” He sucked air through his teeth. “Need to get out of this sardine tin.”

“Push on your knees,” she said calmly.


“Thanks, Nurse Nancy. I’ve tried. I need out.”
~Meet Annette!~ 
Annette Bower writes about women’s roles in families, in communities and women’s emotions at the beginning and end of love in her home office in Regina, SK. Her short stories are published in magazines and anthologies in Canada, United States, and United Kingdom. 

Her women’s fiction novels with romantic elements, Woman of Substance and Moving On are published by Soul Mate Publishing.

Annette Bower’s day-to-day experiences as a nurse, administrator, town councillor, teacher’s assistant and student means that her stories are the real thing because they are about you and your neighbours. Her short stories and novels are read around the world. Her romance novels are set in Saskatchewan because she believes home is as exotic as anywhere else in the wide world she has visited.

Annettte will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

REVIEW: One Safe Place (+$20 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: One Safe Place
Author: Robena Grant
Series: N/A
Pages: 237
Date Published: 2016
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Format: Kindle
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours


Synopsis:
American, Naomi Paverman, finds clues to her heritage when her grandmother passes. Realizing her existence is based on many lies, she yearns for connection and one safe place to call home. She rents a cottage in an English village to search for her biological father. What she discovers is resistance to questions, but she befriends an attractive and interesting local man…could he be related?

Oliver York is stirred to uncover family history he’s long ignored. Five years earlier, he inherited York Manor in Oldcastle. Oliver maintains an element of privacy to protect himself and his invalid sister from gossip. His interest in Naomi, and the secrets she reveals, causes him to come out of seclusion. Secrets threaten to expose admired citizens.


As their romance blossoms, someone attempts to run Naomi out of town. Is history repeating itself?

~My Thoughts~
Naomi Paverman is a bit adrift after the loss of her grandmother. In pursuit of clues about her history, she follows the trail to England where she finds more missing from her story than what she thought. She also discovers a reclusive man by the name of Oliver, who piques her interests. The story is driven by both the tension of underlying mystery and the overt thread of a budding romantic interest. 

 There is just a hint of romance was sweet and fun. I really enjoyed watching the emotions build as the characters got to know one another. This isn't really your love at first site sort of romance (though it does have a few of those whimsical touches) but it's one that builds upon shared interactions to strengthen both your affection for the characters and their affections for each other. 

Robena's writing style is unlike many contemporary romance authors I typically read. She writes using dialect and tone that is really personal and enthusiastic. It took a little while to get used to that, but after a while it became endearing. 
~Try an Excerpt!~
Naomi’s heartbeat took off like a rocket. She could be related to that stuck up, silent, mist-dwelling early morning walker…that Oliver York. Memories of checking out his thighs, and gorgeous tight ass, caused a pulse in her neck to throb. Her cheeks tightened. They were most likely bright red by now, but thank goodness for the roaring fire. 

The bell on the door tinkled. 

“Good morning, Mr. York.” Annie jumped from her chair, beaming. “What a pleasant surprise. We seldom get the pleasure of your company, sir. Will you be having breakfast?”

“Ah,” he said and cleared his throat.

Naomi took a peek. He looked wet and serious, as he rubbed a finger above his upper lip. “I came to apologize to the young woman. Saw her bicycle out front.” He stuck a hand inside his soaking wet jacket, pulled out two apples and put them on the table. Then he peeled off the jacket, walked back to hang it on a peg, dripping puddles of water as he went.

Naomi sat, transfixed. He’d returned her apples? 

“They’re new, picked them myself.”

They were damp. She held them gently, inspecting the fruit for bruises. Then she frowned, as her head shot up. “You stole these apples, picked them off someone’s tree?”

“I own the orchards, but no, I didn’t pick them from a tree. It’s winter.” He nodded toward the apples and one corner of his mouth quirked a little. “Those are from a barrel, and most likely from New Zealand.”
~Meet Robena!~

Robena Grant writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense about ordinary women thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Travel and discovering new places brings her great pleasure, and she often includes these discoveries in her stories. She is Australian by birth, lives in Southern California, and has two grown children.

 Robena will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Food Junkies Blog Tour! (+$50 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: Food Junkies
Author: Vera Tarman and Phil Werdell
Series: N/A
Date Published: 2014
Publisher: Dundurn Group
Format: Audiobook 
Genre: Self-Help
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours
Buy Me!

Synopsis:
Is it possible to be addicted to food? When does indulging in 'comfort' food become substance abuse? Is it possible that there is more than a lack of will power at work when someone can't stop eating? In Food Junkies, Vera Tarman and Phil Werdell explain what is - and isn't - food addiction, tackling this complex and poorly understood problem through the stories of many survivors and from the perspectives of medical researchers/practitioners. They break down the science behind the research so that anyone can understand it, and take a fresh look at obesity, overeating, binge eating, anorexia and bulimia. For people struggling with these issues — and their families — recognizing the condition is the first step to gaining the kind of support and advice they need. 

Food Junkies (finalist in the 2016 Voice Arts Awards) offers hope and guidance. Read by Lisa Bunting, according to one audible customer review, her "calming voice assists with decreasing the shame so often found with addiction and can open the listener up to actually hearing," while another noted the audiobook version "brought the science to life in a different way than the book. It made it even more real as one can't 'skim' or 'rush' through the life-changing content."
~Try an AUDIO Excerpt!!!~

Meet the Authors: 
Vera Tarman is a medical practitioner who focuses on addictions. She is the medical director of Renascent, an addictions treatment centre. Dr. Tarman conducts workshops and speaking engagements on the science of food addiction and "comfort food" abuse. She has reached audiences across the world. She lives in Toronto.

Phil Werdell is a recovering food addict, a social work clinician, and an educator. He is the primary organizer of the Food Addiction Institute and the International Society of Food Addiction Professionals, and is Director of ACORN’s Professional Training Program. Phil currently teaches Addictions Studies at Springfield College, School of Human Services, Tampa. He lives in Florida.

Narrator Lisa Bunting is a stage, screen and voice actor, drama instructor, audition coach, and professional skills development simulator. For Post Hypnotic Press, she has narrated the non-fiction self-help titles The Woman Who Changed Her Brain, The Remarriage Blueprint, Voice Arts Awards-nominated Food Junkies and the forthcoming i-Minds. She was named Best Supporting Actress at LA’s Focus International Film Festival, Winter 2015. She is a member of Canadian Actors’ Equity and ACTRA.

 Vera and Phil will be awarding a Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Monday, December 12, 2016

REVIEW: Sound Effects by LJ Greene (+$25 Amazon GC Giveaway!)

Title: Sound Effects 
Author: LJ Greene
Series: Ripple Effects
Date Published: 2016
Format: Kindle
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Goddess Fish Blog Tours
Buy Me!

Synopsis:

What is YOUR passion?

When an uncharacteristically rash decision lands law school graduate Melody Grayson in San Francisco’s dicey Tenderloin District, she comes face to face with a dangerously tempting man who embodies every mistake she swore she would never repeat. Passionate, sexy, and far more insightful than she’d care to admit, he causes her to question everything she thought she knew about her future. Now she’ll have to decide where the bigger risk lies: in the intriguing but uncertain path he’s offering, or the prudent one she has been working tirelessly to pursue.

Up-and-coming, Irish-born musician Jamie Callahan is no stranger to chaos; he’s lived a lifetime of it. But in the fall of 2004, when the music industry is on the verge of massive upheaval, the life he aspires to could come at a heavier price than he’s prepared to pay. And while Melody may be the ideal person to help him navigate the gambles he must take, a relationship with her might be his biggest gamble yet.

SOUND EFFECTS is a standalone dual POV adult contemporary romance that captures the gloriously unpredictable nature of life, in which the path from who you are, to who you’re meant to become may not be a straight one. It may also have a few bumps. Sexy, humor-filled, and relatable, Sound Effects is a story about living passionately, staying true to yourself, and finding that one magic person who makes the journey of self-discovery an adventure worth taking.
~My Thoughts~
Having never read a Ripple Effects book before, I had no real idea what I was getting myself into.  I tend to see ripped abs on the cover and figure that I'm in for some sensational love scenes, but probably not a whole lot of character depth or moving, interesting plots. Definitely wrong about that for Sound Effects! The characters were strong, well-built (literally and figuratively) and the story made sense and had a strong drive to it!

Melody Greyson is our leading lady here, and aside from being able to describe a handsome man with many metaphors, she is also a pretty great person in general. I understand her choices and mistakes...heck, I'd probably make a few of the same ones myself. 

Jamie Callahan, sexy Irish musician whose abs grace the cover, is more than just those muscles. He's got soul (duh, as a musician he'd have to) and he's got ambition and drive to make something of himself. Together Mel and Jamie have a fun, sexy, realistic, sometimes funny, lots of times sexy relationship that was great to read about! 

L.J. Greene writes passionately and with real emotion that you can feel through the characters actions and dialogue.
~Try an Excerpt!~
It wasn’t just one thing about him–his beautiful eyes fringed with thick lashes, the richness of his dark, auburn hair, the curved mouth, or the solid frame–it was how it all came together so devastatingly. This man had a magnetism that was absolutely undeniable, like a secret so big it just oozed out of him, despite any effort he may take to keep it in check. And I knew right then and there, if he ever turned it loose on me for real, I’d be finished.

“Abort! Abort!” my head shouted, but to no avail; my body was not listening.

Because to top it all off, like catnip to a kitten, he was carrying a guitar.  

It was beautiful Gibson dreadnought, slung behind his back and positioned in such an organic way that it looked a part of him. The way he cradled it gently with his elbow told me it was a part of him. And everything I loved and hated about musicians came rushing back to me in a surfeit of hormones and horror stories. He was my siren song.


“I’m Jamie Callahan.” The siren had a name. Jamie, I said in my head. I think I may have sniffed him a little, too. Subtly, of course.  
~Meet LJ Greene!~
LJ Greene is a self-professed obsessive multi-tasker who writes really boring stuff by day and lets her inner romantic fly by night. This California native is married to the most amazing man and has two beautiful children, not old enough to read her books. (They probably wouldn’t want to anyway on account of the “Ew, gross” factor.) She’s an avid reader of all genres with an embarrassingly large ebook collection, and a weird penchant for reading the acknowledgements at the end of a novel. She's also a music lover with no apparent musical talent, a travel enthusiast, and a cheese connoisseur.  will be awarding a Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.