Friday, August 1, 2014

Reprise review: Her Fake Romance / Donna Fasano


Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Genre: Romance

Approximate word count: 50-55,000 words

Availability   
Kindle US: YES UK: YES Nook: YES Smashwords: NO Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

Donna Fasano, also known as Donna Clayton, has written over thirty published novels with sales in excess of 3.6 million copies. Many of these novels have gone out-of-print with the rights reverting to Fasano. She is giving them a facelift and republishing them for your favorite eReader.

Donna Fasano is a three time winner of the HOLT Medallion, a CataRomance Reviewers Choice Award winner for Best Single Title, a Desert Rose Golden Quill Award finalist, and a Golden Heart finalist. Her books have been published in nearly two dozen languages.

Fasano has two grown sons and lives with her husband on the eastern seaboard of the United States. For more, visit 
her blog.

Description:

Julia Jones is a single parent trying to hide her heart from rejection; she won’t let it happen again. She has become a workaholic to protect herself; and has a successful catering business she runs with her friend and fellow foodie, Charlotte. When Julia’s fourteen year old daughter challenges her to ‘get a life’, she and Ryan Shane concoct a deal for a fake romance.

Ryan Shane is a divorce lawyer who sees marriages fall apart everyday and has no intention of ever getting involved in a relationship. He has a problem though; he is being pursued by his mentor’s beautiful gold digging daughter who is looking for husband number four. With Julia’s help he hopes to avert her advances.

Appraisal:

This author always has a wonderful way to bring her characters together. This one was HOT, and the sexual tension starts at the very beginning and never lets up. She offers the perfect balance of narrative, description and dialogue in this character driven story. I love the way she allows us into Julia and Ryan’s thoughts, both trying to protect their hearts for different reasons.  

Cherry, the gold digger, and Kelly, Julia's fourteen-year-old daughter, provide the perfect amount of conflict that brings Ryan and Julia together. The fully fleshed out characters are realistic, intelligent, and their story is heartwarming. I have read several of Fasano's books and this is my favorite so far, I could not put the book down. The author added just the right amount of heat to keep me reading, and the mother daughter scenes were very touching. I applaud this author’s insight into human nature and sensibilities.

FYI:

Steamy and adult situations, but no explicit sex.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant errors

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Seven Year Laowai / Travis Lee


Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Literary Fiction/Short Story

Approximate word count: 9-10,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: YES  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

“Travis Lee lived in China for two years, where he studied Chinese and taught English. He currently writes for the expat website Lost Laowai, and his work appears in Issue 3 of Independent Ink Magazine.”

Description:

“An ESL teacher's recollections of the seven years he spent teaching English in Wuhan, China. From the alcoholism which led him there to the nasty power games that pushed him out”

Appraisal:

I’m not sure what to make of this. Is it fiction? (The author called it literary fiction when it was sent to me and the disclaimer at the beginning says it is fictional. The book retailer sites have it classified that way.) Is it a memoir? (The book description makes it appear so and it reads like it). The author’s bio makes either seem possible. As a memoir, my feelings would be slightly better than approaching this as fiction.

As a short memoir, if in fact that was what this was, it would be interesting. The stories the narrator tells about the people he worked with and the experiences he had would satisfy one of the things I look for in a memoir, a feel for what it’s like walking in someone else’s shoes, with their fears, frustrations, and possibly a glimmer of what they learned from the experience. As fiction, it isn’t clear what the point of the story is.

A couple issues I have no matter how the story is viewed. One is two scenes with the same person (a character named Jack) that are repetitive. While the two scenes have a different setting and people present, they’re essentially the same. In the first one the narrator says that Jack likes to tell the same stories and has an issue with Americans. In the second scene, Jack tells the same stories and the narrator even repeats that Jack likes to tell the same stories. The second could have been mostly cut (just letting us know he repeated his same old stories) without losing anything.

A more significant issue is that what, at least in my opinion, should be the big story and the overall story arc is barely hinted at. The narrator went to China to escape the life he’s living in his home country (what country isn’t clear). He’s an alcoholic (fired from his previous job due to this) and has kids he hasn’t seen in many years. We learn this early on and the story ends with him possibly going to visit a grown daughter in an attempt to reconnect and reconcile. Or possibly ready to blow that off and get drunk instead. Yet very little of what comes in between helped us understand what brought him from point A to point B other than time passed, unrelated things happened, and words were expended.

Format/Typo Issues:

A small number of typos.

Rating: ** Two stars

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Angelsong: Dark Angel #3 / Hanna Peach


Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Approximate word count: 85-80,000 words

Availability    

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: YES  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

“Hanna began to write at the tender age of seven, starting with a daring and questionable autobiography entitled Go Suck a Lemon. Perhaps it was a little before its time.

After leaving school she agreed with everyone who said she needed to get a degree and a real job to become a proper adult. She kept writing as a hobby. After starting (and never finishing) several degrees and switching from multiple careers, she finally decided that being a proper adult was overrated. In 2012, she sold everything, moved to Europe and began to write full-time...She is currently residing in England.

She is addicted to coffee and chocolate and would one day like to own a dragon.”

For more, visit Ms Peach's website or Facebook page.

Description:

“Israel lies dying from a poisoned knife wound. To save him, Alyx needs Mayrekk's help and the knowledge contained within the Threads of Dark.


But Mayrekk remains imprisoned in Michaelea, being punished for his hand in Alyx's escape, and Michael himself guards the key to Mayrekk's freedom. And the Threads of Dark is kept within a secret chamber deep under the Archives of Urielos, a Seraphim city clinging to cliffs somewhere along the coast of Italy. Even if Alyx does manage to find a way into the city, the chamber is guarded by ancient riddles and deadly traps.

Can Alyx rescue Mayrekk and retrieve the Threads of Dark before Israel slips away?”

Appraisal:

Alyx is facing overwhelming odds yet again in this third book of the Dark Angel series. Israel’s fate, as well as the Free Thinkers, rest solely on her shoulders to stop the prophecy. Alyx is grief stricken as Israel lies dying from a poisoned knife wound intended for Adere. The plot takes an unexpected twist early in the story that allows Alyx to fully concentrate on all the tasks at hand without distraction. This allows the story to move fast and furious as Alyx and Jordon proceed to Michaelea to locate and free Mayrekk, who hopefully knows how to cure Israel of the demon poison that is slowly killing him. Before they even have time to mentally process all the events in Michaelea they are off to locate a secret chamber in Urielos to retrieve the scroll of the Threads of Dark.

The elements of this story are complex and multi-layered. The action and fight scenes are tense and well-choreographed. Secondary characters are brought more fully into focus, which adds more dimension to the story. However, the spotlight is directed towards the relationship developing between Alyx and Jordon. They are both learning to depend on and trust each other as their shields to protect their hearts begin to crumble. As obstacles rise during their mission, it is evident that their strengths lie in different areas and they are stronger working together. The dialogue, as they verbally spar, is realistic and entertaining. Ms. Peach has developed quite a love triangle and I am not sure who I want Alyx to end up with at this point. There is no way Alyx can ignore the love she feels for Jordon now that he has bared his soul to her and she is forever bound to Israel as his guardian. Israel was raised by humans, he sees it as his job to protect Alyx, because he loves her deeply. Alyx was raised to be a warrior and her duty to protect comes first, even while she is torn between two very different lovers. I must also add there is a hell-of-a cliffhanger at the end of this book as Alyx goes to extreme measures to save Israel.

FYI:

This is book 3 in the Dark Angel series, these stories build upon one another so it is important to read Angelfire and Angelstone first.

Format/Typo Issues:

I noted a small number of minor proofing issues.


Rating: ***** Five stars

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Frisbee, Rat Detective / Diana Hockley


Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Mystery/Humor/Short Story

Approximate word count: 4-5,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

Diana Hockley lives in a small town in rural Australia with her husband and seven pet rats. In addition to several short stories, Hockley also has two novels available.

Description:

“Frisbee, Fiona's pet rat is loyal and as loving as he knows how, but can he put aside his greed long enough to track down an evil-doer?”

Appraisal:

The author’s bio says she has pet rats which I’m guessing were the inspiration for this short story. The story is told from the standpoint of Frisbee, a pet rat. He is loved and spoiled by his owner, but despised by her husband, which turns out to be the crux of the story. A mystery spiced with a touch of humor, Frisbee, Rat Detective was a light, quick, and enjoyable read.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues


Rating: **** Four stars

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Man Alone / David Siddall


Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Genre: Crime / Thriller / Noir

Approximate word count: 15-20,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

David Siddall writes his crime in his home city of Liverpool. He had a number of stories published in magazines before writing A Man Alone, his debut work.

Description:

John Doyle is a quiet man, that is until local crime boss, Barry Wood, threatens his step-daughter, April. Doyle has a past, one he’d tried to bury but is forced to bring back to the surface to protect his family.

Appraisal:

This is an excellent novella full of excellent characters and a situation that ramps up the pressure on the protagonist, John Doyle. The initial premise, man protects family from local thug, isn’t unusual, but there’s something intangible about Doyle that keeps the pages turning. It’s dark, brooding and violent.

Doyle the underdog up against a man who’s used to calling the shots and is caught off guard when someone fights back. For Doyle has a past, one that’s gradually revealed piece by piece as he turns up the heat on Wood. He moved to Liverpool for some peace, hoping he’d left his past behind, but he can’t help but draw on his experience.

There’s also several neat little twists that add to the story, I can’t say what for fear of ruining the surprise. If you like your crime hard boiled, I strongly recommend this novella. I’ve only one complaint – it’s too short (although the story is really well paced and balanced) in that I’d like to see more of Doyle. I really hope the author brings him back in a future story.

FYI:


Nothing of note.

Format/Typo Issues:

A small number of issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Recently at The IndieView



The most recent interviews at The IndieView starting with a refresher on the different kinds of interviews.

The IndieView

This is an interview with a standard set of open ended questions. While they focus on a specific book, they also delve into the author's history as a writer and the path they took in becoming an indie author.

The BookView

This is a shorter interview format for authors who have already done an IndieView which focuses just on their most recent book.

Reviewer IndieView

These are interviews with reviewers who have their own review blog that delve into their approach to reviewing. A great way to find other book blogs you might like to follow. (For authors, there is also an extensive database of indie friendly review sites you might like to check out.)

Allirea's Realm

By invitation only, these are quirky, often irreverent interviews done by longtime Books and Pals follower, Allirea.


(Authors and reviewers interested in doing an IndieView should visit this page for details.)


IndieView with Julie Frayn, author of Mazie Baby

I’d place bets that every character in every book is borrowed from real people, if not in whole, at least a few specific traits or actions.

IndieView with Ashley Quigley, author of Breeders

Writing the manuscript is not the hard part. Getting it out there and getting readers and HONEST reviews is the hard part. It takes work and dedication. 

Indieview with reviewer Steve Liddick

Readers read for many reasons: to be entertained, enlightened, emotionally tweaked. There are as many reasons for reading as there are readers.

IndieView with Kimberly G. Giarratano, author of Grunge Gods and Graveyards

I find it incredibly romantic for a girl and a ghost to fall in love because it can’t end happily…or can it?

IndieView with Manheim Wagner, author of Korea: How You Feel

The main character Michael is a composite of myself (during my first year in Korea) and other people I met. He’s a conflicted narrator who does things he knows he shouldn’t but can’t stop himself from doing them. 

IndieView with Annette Ranald, author of Under an Evil Star

My goal is to use fiction to get people of all ages and intellects hooked on history.  If you like my story and it makes you want to learn more, I’ve done my job

IndieView with M.H.J. Rice, author of Mental Dessert

I really enjoy the writing of Stephen King and how he gets readers emotionally involved in the story.

BookView with Michael Moreau, author of No Time Like the Future


I think the only prerequisite to enjoying my Rocket Riders books is going to be if you like something that you can pick up and read fairly quickly. If you’re looking for Tolkien-length epics then it’s probably a poor choice for you...


It was such a surreal moment.  The laughter of the children, the atrocity of the mass graves and the sun shining as if to mirror the children’s oblivion.


Themes are important and I love books that ask questions of the reader. Science Fiction is great for this but then another genre may not be.


Well, look at the source. I write weird-arse books, so I don’t find it surprising that my books seem to attract weird readers. :)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Requiem for a Lost Youth / Diana Hockley


Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Mystery/Short Story

Approximate word count: 3-4,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

Diana Hockley lives in a small town in rural Australia with her husband and seven pet rats. In addition to several short stories, Hockley also has two novels available.

Description:

“Sometimes the past comes back to haunt you...”

Appraisal:

As I try to figure out what to say about Requiem for a Lost Youth I think of a point, then say, “nope, that gives away too much.” All I can say is that there are at least two mysteries and a character or two who have a youthful indiscretion that comes back to haunt them, all packed in just a few thousand words. A quick, yet satisfying read.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues


Rating: **** Four stars