Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

"Books have furnished, burnished, and enabled my life." Julia Keller

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Book 255: VANISHED Review

Vanished by Irene Hannon
ISBN: 9780800721237 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781441240606 (ebook)
ASIN: B00A8NUGWQ (Kindle ebook)
Publication date: January 1, 2013 
Publisher: Fleming H. Revell Company

Reporter Moira Harrison is lost. In the dark. In a thunderstorm. When a confusing detour places her on a rural, wooded road, she's startled by the sudden appearance of a lone figure caught in the beam of her headlights. Though Moira jams on her brakes, the car careens across the wet pavement--and the solid thump against the side of the vehicle tells her she hit the person before she crashes into a tree on the far side of the road. 
A dazed Moira is relieved when a man opens her door, tells her he saw everything, and promises to call 911. Then everything fades to black. When she comes to an hour later, she is alone. No man. No 911. No injured person lying on the side of the road. But she can't forget the look of terror she saw on the person's face in the instant before her headlights swung away. The person she hit had been in trouble. She's sure of it. But she can't get anyone to believe her story--except a handsome former police detective, now a private eye, who agrees to take on the case. 
From the very first page, readers will be hooked into this fast-paced story full of shocking secrets from fan-favorite Irene Hannon. Vanished is the exciting first book in the Private Justice series: Three justice seekers who got burned playing by the rules now have a second chance to make things right.

It was a dark and rainy night . . . seriously; it was a dark and rainy night when investigative reporter Moira Harrison got lost and had an accident that she believed involved a pedestrian. Unfortunately by the time the authorities arrive there is no evidence of anyone else being involved in Moira's car crash. Moira knows she wasn't hallucinating about the pedestrian or the so-called "good Samaritan" that had offered to call 911 but never placed the call. In order to save her sanity, Moira decides she needs help and seeks out the services of a local investigative firm. 

Cal, Dev and Connor are all former law-enforcement agents (police, ATF and Secret Service) that have launched a firm that believes strongly in the premise of "justice first."  After Cal's meeting with Moira, he accepts her case. Once Cal has burned the alibi of the primary suspect, he talks his partners into accepting the case pro bono. The deeper Cal and Moira dig into the mysterious accident and Good Samaritan, the more they both realize that this case is much bigger than it appeared. Can Moira and Cal prove their case before it's too late?

Ms. Hannon has provided another clean, happily-ever-after, romantic suspense read with Vanished. The primary characters aren't wealthy but working middle-class folk that have emotional baggage and difficulties to overcome. Even more important, the faith exhibited by the primary characters, in this case Cal and Moira, keeps them on an even keel and helps to guide them through their difficulties. The religious aspect of these books isn't overwhelming but simply there as a facet of their personalities and lifestyles. Ms. Hannon has the knack for creating believable characters and realistic scenarios mixed with just the right amount of suspense and romance. I found Vanished to be a quick and enjoyable read and look forward to reading the next books in this series.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

2012 Book 252: SHADOW WOMAN Review

Shadow Woman by Linda Howard
ISBN: 9780345506931 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780345535924 (ebook)
ASIN: B007PFDGRC (Kindle ebook)
Publication date: January 1, 2013 
Publisher: Ballantine Books

Lizette Henry wakes up one morning and makes a terrifying discovery: She doesn't recognize the face she sees in the mirror. She remembers what she looks like, but her reflection is someone else’s. To add to the shock, two years seem to have disappeared from her life. Someone has gone to great and inexplicable lengths to keep those missing years hidden forever. But the past always finds a way to return.
Strange memories soon begin to surface and, along with them, some unusual skills and talents that Lizette hasn't a clue about acquiring. Sensing that she’s being monitored, Lizette suddenly knows how to search for bugs in her house and tracking devices in her car. What’s more, she can elude surveillance—like a trained agent.
Enter a mysterious and seductive stranger named Xavier, who claims he wants to help—but who triggers disturbing images of an unspeakable crime of which Lizette may or may not be the perpetrator. With memories returning, she suddenly becomes a target of anonymous assassins. On the run with nowhere to hide, Lizette has no choice but to rely on Xavier, a strong and magnetic man she doesn't trust, with a powerful attraction she cannot resist. As murky waters become clear, Lizette confronts a conspiracy that is treacherous and far-reaching and a truth that, once revealed, may silence her and Xavier once and for all.

Imagine you wake up one morning and you not only don't recognize the face in the mirror, but you can only remember the last three years of your life. You don't know how long you've been working with your present employer.  You can't recall buying your car or even moving into your current residence. Everything in your life seems wrong.

This is what happens to Lizette Henry. Every time she tries to remember more than the past three years, she becomes nauseated and has an unbearable headache. If that wasn't enough to deal with she also has this sense that she is being watched and she doesn't know why. Lizette's paranoia is based in reality . . . she is being watched. Fortunately, one of Lizette's watchers is a man that is her protector. As Lizette decides to search for answers to her life, she winds up on the run from a government agency. What follows is a cat-and-mouse game where Lizette is running away from the bad guys (the government agents) and the good guys. Will she be able to recognize the good guys before it's too late?

Shadow Woman is a suspense thriller with a little bit of romance to heat things up. It seemed like the more Lizette uncovered and remembered, the more problems she encountered. It was fascinating to watch Lizette turn from an every-woman type character to super-agent as she eluded not only government agents but her protector as well. The attraction between Lizette and Xavier quickly evolved into romance as more of her memory returned. Although I found some of the action implausible (namely the subplot involving the former President and the First Lady), I enjoyed reading Shadow Woman. The suspense and thrills kept my attention throughout the book and just when I thought I had it figured out, Ms. Jackson would provide a detour that was completely unexpected. Ms. Jackson provides good guys that aren't wholly good and bad guys that aren't wholly bad, mixed with government conspiracies, and rogue agents and agencies. If you're looking for a fast-paced romantic suspense-thriller read then this may be just what you need.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 Book 253: DEAD RUNNING Review

Dead Running by Cami Checketts
ISBN: 9781475166606 (paperback)
ASIN: B007PJ70MA (Kindle ebook)

Cassidy Christensen is running.

Running from the mercenaries who killed her parents.
Running from a scheming redhead intent on making her life miserable.
Running from painful memories that sabotage her dreams of happiness.

With two very tempting men competing for her attention, she hopes she’ll finally have someone to run to, but can she trust either of them? When secrets from her past threaten her family, Cassidy decides to stop running and fight for her future.

Prior to the night Cassidy Christensen witnessed an attempt on her father's life, she was a woman with a plan. She lived on her on, was fiercely independent and was ready to set the world on fire. That plan went a little awry after that night and she moved in with her paternal grandmother, Nana Christensen. After the death of her parents in Mexico her plans all but died. She remained at her grandmother's house, her business failed due to the economy and she became an office worker. Cassidy has lost her self-confidence. But things are changing . . . 

Raquel, Cassidy's sister-in-law, has talked her into training and then entering a 5K race. That simple race will change Cassidy's life in more ways than one. She meets not one but two interesting men as a result of the race, encounters two thugs that have begun to threaten her as a result of her father's former work, and meets a woman that borders on crazy with her stalker mentality (all because of a guy). After the race Cassidy decides she'll actually follow through on a promise she's made to herself, she will become a runner and she will compete in the upcoming marathon. 

 As Cassidy begins to train in earnest for the upcoming marathon, her life becomes a tragic comedy worthy of an I Love Lucy episode. One of her romantic interests is Damon, a fellow runner that had agreed to train with the marathon entrant from the 5K race. Another romantic interest is Jesse, another runner and the doctor that treated her road rash after the 5K race. The only family member that seems to support Cassidy's desire to train and run is her sister-in-law. Her brother Jared, her Nana and even her best friend Tasha all appear to suspect her motives for training and feel she'll back out of this as she has so many things in the past few years. Cassidy must also fend off thugs from her father's past and delve into the mystery surrounding her parents' deaths. Will she be able to uncover the truth without putting her life in danger?

I found Dead Running to be a quick read that kept my attention from beginning to end. I was drawn by the descriptions of running and training preparation partially because my nephew runs cross-country and because Ms. Checketts did such an amazing job of making it interesting reading. Dead Running provides mystery, suspense, a light-hearted romance and just a touch of humor. 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the author via I Am A Reader Not A Writer. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Ms. Checketts has graciously offered several giveaways during this virtual book tour. To enter for your chance to win your choice of  $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash, in addition to 3 sets of iFrogz earbuds and armbands, use the Rafflecopter form found here.

Monday, December 24, 2012

2012 Book 249: FEAR COLLECTOR Review

Fear Collector by Gregg Olsen
ISBN: 9780786020461 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780786030545 (ebook)
ASIN: B009WWWS5M (Kindle ebook)
Publication date: December 24, 2012
Publisher: Pinnacle 

Ted Bundy. America's most notorious serial killer. For two women, he is the ultimate obsession. One is a cop whose sister may have been one of Bundy's victims. The other is a deranged groupie who corresponded with Bundy in prison--and raised her son to finish what Bundy started. To charm and seduce innocent girls. To kidnap and brutalize more women than any serial killer in history. And to lure one obsessed cop into a trap as sick and demented as Bundy himself. . .

Grace Alexander is a Tacoma, Washington police detective. She's married to an FBI agent. She also grew up in the shadow of an older sister she never knew. An older sister her parents are sure was a victim of Ted Bundy. Most children grow up hearing stories about family members and gazing at family pictures. Grace grew up hearing stories about a notorious serial killer and being quizzed on his life. Grace wasn't abused or unloved, but she knew that her parents’ primary focus was on her missing sister Tricia. Now that Grace is a police officer, she knows that she must always try to bring some closure to her mother and find out what exactly happened to Tricia.

Ted Bundy is dead but his legacy lives on in more ways than can be believed. Grace and her partner, Paul Bateman, are currently investigating the disappearance of several young girls from the Tacoma area. When the body of one missing girl is found on a beach, presumed to be a drowning, remains of another girl are also uncovered. These remains are older but not ancient and just may be the remains of a presumed Bundy victim.

Fear Collector is a story that provides multiple stories that are deftly woven into one master picture of horror. One story is of Grace and her mother and their search for definitive information on Tricia's disappearance. Another facet of this story is Grace and her job, specifically the investigation into the missing girls -- all remarkably similar in looks. Then there's the story of Emma Rose, one of the missing girls, as she struggles to survive in captivity. Seemingly minor stories include those of a real estate developer and his son, an aging professor that knew Tricia, a retired police detective and expert on Bundy, and an obviously delusional woman and her ties to Bundy and Tricia. Just when you think you know where the story is going, there's a twist that pulls you off into what appears to be another direction. Mr. Olsen kept me on the edge of my seat, constantly wondering is this bit of information important in solving the serial killer mystery or is it simply another piece to the puzzle, if so which puzzle. Fear Collector is a story that literally grabbed me from the first few pages until the very end . . . and what an end! If you enjoy mystery-suspense-thriller reads, then this is one book you want to read. 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, December 22, 2012

End of the World Giveaway Hop Winner

The End of the World Giveaway Hop has ended and, thankfully, we have more days to enjoy reading since the world didn't end. The winner of this hop is Penni F. Congratulations Penni! 

I want to thank Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Jennifer from My Life With Books for organizing this hop and everyone that stopped by this blog and entered. I extend a very special thank you to author Lauren Willig for graciously providing three signed paperbacks from the Pink Carnation series, the prize for this giveaway.

Happy reading!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Book Excerpt: DANGEROUS DECEPTION by Cindy McDonald

Dangerous Deception by Cindy McDonald

ISBN: 9780985726741 (paperback)
ASIN: B00A01F1JO (Kindle ebook)
Publication Date: November 1, 2012
Publisher: Acorn Book Services

Old Age Ain’t for Sissies!
Vic Deveaux’s glory days as a winning jockey have ended, but he refuses to accept that pile of horse hockey! 
When the West family asks Vic to take an easier position at their horse farm Westwood, he becomes enraged and teams up with two greedy stable hands in a scheme to kidnap the West’s younger son Shane. 
When Vic discovers that his new-found friends have murder on their minds, things turn ugly. 
Suddenly, Vic finds himself between the rock and the hard place. . He has betrayed his good friend, Eric West, but will he participate in his son’s murder as well? 
Not content to sit and wait for her men to bring her brother home, Kate West convinces homicide detective Carl Lugowski to check out a hunch at an old abandoned mansion. Soon, they’re trapped in a hornet’s nest of a notorious biker gang. 
Oh yeah, Vic’s deception has placed the West family in more danger than they know what to do with!


The fading sunlight seeped through the curtains, shimmering over the silky white Persian cat, Stella, sleeping on the window sill. The candles on the vanity flickered, sending a waft of vanilla throughout the room, camouflaging the smell of sex. Ava West’s auburn hair cascaded across her shoulders, and her breathing was shallow and steady against Carl Lugowski’s chiseled chest. 
Lieutenant Carl Lugowski worked homicide for the Rosemount Police Department. He was normally a light sleeper as most cops are. Subconsciously prepared for that emergency phone call from the station that jolts them from their bed, because a body had been found in some dark alley, or a domestic argument had gone terribly awry, resulting in murder. But today his sleep was deep and his gentle snore was restful, holding Ava’s beautiful naked body in his arms, after their afternoon of abandoned love-making.
God she knew how to get to him. He had taken a half day off, they were supposed to see a matinee, but when he arrived at her apartment, Ava had other plans. Not a problem. Nosiree, Bob. She answered the door in a dark blue lace Teddy, accentuating the swell of her round breasts and her stiff nipples peeking through the sheer delicate fabric. Her sultry green eyes had a “come on” look, and her plump lips curled, begging to be kissed, hard.
Ava didn’t flirt. When she wanted sex, she was shameless. She opened the door and pressed her lips to his, running her hands over his chest, unbuttoning his shirt. There was no fumbling. The buttons slipped open with unerring precision. He slipped the strap of the Teddy from her shoulder, baring her beautiful breast, running his tongue over the pebbled nipple, feeling the undeniable pressure of his erection. Her smile turned devious, pushing him away. Ava was like that. She teased. He knew what she was about. 
As gracefully as a dancer, she swooped up two glasses of wine from the hall table, strutting toward the bedroom. Her long silky hair caressed her back as she moved. Lord have mercy, how he loved to watch her walk toward that bedroom where pleasure would rule the afternoon, and where once would never be enough to satisfy her desire. Ava was a demanding lover, and he aimed to please and please and freakin’ please. Who needs a damned movie?
Their clothes lie on the floor, and the daylight was gently giving way to the purple whisper of twilight. They were spent. The sheets lightly covered their warm moist naked bodies, until suddenly the surreal quiet was broken by Lugowski’s cell phone buzzing and vibrating against the lamp on the nightstand. Damn it. His eyes dragged open slowly, rotating toward the meddling reverberation. He let out a low grouse, and then begrudgingly reached for the phone. Ava tugged at his arm.
“Let it go to voice mail,” she murmured.
Not a bad idea. In fact, he was seriously considering it, when his eyes caught the name on the screen: KATE WEST. 
Game changer. 
His relationship with Ava meant the world to him. He had wanted that woman since well, forever. He wanted her when they were in high school. He wanted her while he was away at the academy, and he still wanted her when he returned to find that she was Mike West’s wife. But now she was exactly where he always wanted her to be, in his life, and in his bed. 
Wrangled and rocked beyond his control, his heart helplessly skipped a beat when Kate West was around, hell, when Kate West’s name was merely mentioned. She stirred something inside him that he couldn’t explain. He couldn’t wrap his head around, it confused and quite frankly scared the hell out of him. 
She wasn’t the clich├ęd blue-eyed, blonde-haired, “girl next door”. But she was definitely a woman any man would want to come home to, wrap his arms around, and make love to night after night. Kate West was what Lugowski would define as “a keeper”.
WTF? He was in bed with the woman of his dreams. He should really let the call go. Yeah, really, that’s what he should do. She was squeezing him, why would she be calling? They didn’t have anything but a professional relationship. So... 
“I need to take this. Sorry, baby,” he said, sitting up, pressing the phone as tightly and as covertly as possible to his ear. “Lugowski...” he announced, making sure he sounded authoritative, official.
“Carl, I’m so sorry to bother you. This is Kate West.” 
Ava groaned, dragging her fingers through her hair, perking her ears when she detected a slightly familiar female voice, filtering through the receiver. It made her brows furrow and her lips purse. Suspicion was mixing it up with jealousy, fast. Lugowski had successfully muffled the voice, but she tilted her head against the pillow, narrowing her eyes, engaged. The voice sounded like Kate’s, and that was definitely an unacceptable intrusion on her afternoon delight.
“What’s going on?” Lugowski asked, recognizing the disquiet in her voice.
“I don’t want to talk about it over the phone, but it’s really important, Carl. Can we meet at McDonald’s?”
Coffee, he had had coffee with the lovely blonde at McDonald’s several times, usually at his request, and it had become almost a code between them-never anything sexual, and he wasn’t sure what he would do if it ever did. Shit. What was he thinking? Kate was Mike West’s little sister, and Ava’s ex-sister-in-law. It was too complicated, too weird, too out-of-control...
“I’m on my way,” no hesitation, the words spilled right out of his mouth, as he ended the call, pitching the sheets aside, swinging his legs over the bed, and reaching for his boxer briefs.
Briskly sitting up, Ava grabbed his arm. The black satin sheets slipped to her waist. Her breasts bobbed delicately into glorious view, “What? Wait a minute, where are you going?” She demanded in a high-pitched annoyed tone, and it only took a nanosecond for her green bedroom eyes to morph into a jaded glower.
It was a justified question that he knew he couldn’t give an honest answer to; unless he was absolutely sure he wanted to endure the repercussions. Ava would be furious, to say the least, if she knew he was leaving her bed to go to Kate’s aid, or whatever it was that he was going to, he wasn’t sure.
He just knew that he had to go.

About the author:

For twenty-six years my life whirled around a song and a dance: I was a professional dancer/choreographer for most of my adult life and never gave much thought to a writing career until 2005. Don’t ask me what happened, but suddenly I felt drawn to my computer to write about things I have experienced (greatly exaggerated upon of course) with my husband’s Thoroughbreds and the happenings at the racetrack.

Surprised? Why didn’t I write about my experiences with dance? Eh, believe it or not life at the racetrack is more…racy. The drama is outrageous—not that dancers don’t know how to create drama, believe me, they do but race trackers just seem to get more down and dirty with it which makes great story telling—great fiction.
I didn’t start out writing books, The Unbridled Series started out as a TV drama, and the Hollywood readers loved the show. The problem was we just couldn’t sell it. So one of the readers said to me, “Cindy, don’t be stupid. Turn your scripts into a book series.” and so I did!

In May of 2011 I took the big leap and exchanged my dancin’ shoes for a lap top—I retired from dance. It was a scary proposition, I was terrified, but I had the full support of my husband, Saint Bill. It has been a huge change for me. I went from dancing hard five hours a night to sitting in front of a computer. I still work-out and I take my dog, Harvey, for a daily run. I have to or I’d be as big as a house. Do I miss dance? Sometimes I do. I miss my students. I miss choreographing musicals, but I love my books and I love sharing them with you.

Website     |     Facebook     |     Twitter     |     LinkedIn     |     GoodReads

Guest post: Author Cindy McDonald

Courageous Characters 
by Cindy McDonald

Wow! How much do we love those courageous characters? You know the alpha males and the gutsy heroines that seem to ooze nerves of steel from their very pores. As authors we send our characters into situations we would never, ever, not-in-a-million-years get into, and we ask them to do it with keen finesse and dashing good-looks—well, okay, maybe a little stubble on their chin. 

Ahhh, they are everything that we are not—and that is the beauty of it all.

I love to write in the evening, it is the quiet time of day, and my thoughts turn to my latest Unbridled adventure, and what dodgy debacle I will ask Mike, Shane, Punch, or Lugowski to walk into without hesitation. I finish cleaning up the dinner dishes, check to see what my husband is watching on TV, I pour myself a glass of wine, and then retire downstairs to my office, where my characters live inside my computer. They are waiting for me—sometimes in a panic, depending on what state of affairs I’ve left them in the last time we met. I click on the file, take a deep breath, a sip of the wine, re-read what I wrote the night before, and then I ask myself one question: what if?

Sometimes I could swear that I hear them groan when the what if tumbles from my lips, especially Mike West—his sense of humor doesn't stretch very far, I’m afraid. Who can blame him? In the first book, Deadly.com I asked him to withstand electroshock treatments at the hands of a madman, walk into the fire to protect the women that he loves, and in this latest book, Dangerous Deception, he must come face-to-face with betrayal of an old reliable friend, and a notorious biker gang.

Ya gotta love Mike’s younger brother, Shane. The youngest West darts toward danger like a bee to honey. A bit on the hot-headed side, he’s also the playboy of the group, but he’s not been exempt from the wrath of my writing. His fierce loyalty to family put him in harms-way in Deadly.com, and in my newest book, Dangerous Deception, the question what if will test his strength and constitution to the limit—it will take all the courage that he can muster to survive at the hands of his malevolent  captor. 

Punch McMinn is an enormous man and enormously soft-hearted. He keeps a cool head when trouble comes to call and trouble never seems to be very far from Westwood Thoroughbred Farm, or the West clan. 

And then there’s Lugowski, Lieutenant Carl Lugowski, that is, he took a bullet for Ava in Deadly.com, but in Dangerous Deception it is Kate West that drags him into deep do-do that will take a whole lotta guts to get him and her out alive.

Truth be told we authors really don’t live that exciting or death defying life styles. Non-the-less at the end of our finger-tips we wield the sword of courage at our characters and expect…no demand that they come through. Is it because we wish that our lives were as exciting as theirs? Are we cowardly thrill-seekers? Truthfully, I must admit that I really don’t care. I’ve just poured myself a glass of chardonnay and my computer screen has just lit up my latest manuscript. Hmmm…what if.

About the author:

For twenty-six years my life whirled around a song and a dance: I was a professional dancer/choreographer for most of my adult life and never gave much thought to a writing career until 2005. Don’t ask me what happened, but suddenly I felt drawn to my computer to write about things I have experienced (greatly exaggerated upon of course) with my husband’s Thoroughbreds and the happenings at the racetrack.

Surprised? Why didn't I write about my experiences with dance? Eh, believe it or not life at the racetrack is more…racy. The drama is outrageous—not that dancers don’t know how to create drama, believe me, they do but race trackers just seem to get more down and dirty with it which makes great story telling—great fiction.

I didn't start out writing books, The Unbridled Series started out as a TV drama, and the Hollywood readers loved the show. The problem was we just couldn't sell it. So one of the readers said to me, “Cindy, don’t be stupid. Turn your scripts into a book series.” and so I did!

In May of 2011 I took the big leap and exchanged my dancin’ shoes for a lap top—I retired from dance. It was a scary proposition, I was terrified, but I had the full support of my husband, Saint Bill. It has been a huge change for me. I went from dancing hard five hours a night to sitting in front of a computer. I still work-out and I take my dog, Harvey, for a daily run. I have to or I’d be as big as a house. Do I miss dance? Sometimes I do. I miss my students. I miss choreographing musicals, but I love my books and I love sharing them with you.

Website     |     Facebook     |     Twitter     |     LinkedIn     |     GoodReads

Monday, December 17, 2012

Guest post: Author Michael Williams

On Difficulty by Michael Williams

Sometimes—not always, but sometimes—people object to Vine because of its “difficulty”. They claim obscure or abstruse words, long sentences, fragmented episodes. These are things that get in the way of the story, they claim. Things that disrupt the pleasure of reading.

Let me make my case.

Suppose you were at a diving event. Which would you rather see: a lithe young Australian doing a back one-and-a-half off a high board, or a dumpy, fifty-something Irishman such as myself attempt a cannonball from poolside? Not for the comedy, mind you. For the sheer athletic and aesthetic pleasure of a dive.
It’s what they call degree of difficulty. We are impressed by things exceptional, things that ordinary folks don’t or can’t do.

It’s why literature is more than writing, though we tend to forget it because of the very nature of the literary medium. Neither you nor I would expect to be playing a trumpet well enough to record if we first picked it up a month ago. But writing is regarded as different, because we all use language. Everyone can communicate with sentences, but to really write is to delight in the ways of communication, to juggle and manipulate them.

The story itself is part, not all, of fiction, I think. If it were simply story, if it were the writer’s job to get out of the way, there would be very little difference between how fiction and journalism are done. But with fiction it seems there is more emphasis on the way the story is told—on language or rhetoric. In fact, fiction that employs transparent prose and linear, causal narrative is really basically a holdover from the mid to late 19th century—writers like George Eliot, Gustave Flaubert, Stephen Crane. Writing before and after that relatively brief window of time is often writing that calls attention to itself, that is ruffle and rhetoric, back-pedaling  and leaping perilously from one circumstance to the next. Look at Tristram Shandy or The Pickwick Papers or Frankenstein on one side of that window, Lovecraft or Joyce or Garcia Marquez on the other. These are fictions that delight as much in how the story is told as in what is told.

So I will play with ways of telling. I will offer my readers a chance to work with the story I tell, to help me make that story by their involved and intelligent work with the words I give them. I hope that doing some work has its rewards, that the reader emerges, deepened and exercised, from something of mine that they've read. If they don’t, they don’t. If they choose not to undertake my offer, I understand: I respect that they want something else from the reading experience, and the two of us wave and walk our separate literary paths.

But it itself, difficulty is not a bad thing, I maintain. It is a choice, a tactic to reveal and challenge, not a posture or design to intimidate. Indeed, I think that difficult fiction can respect the reader more; in asking you to shoulder more of the burden than to sit back and be entertained, it is asking you to undertake something that can be a different, and sometimes a better adventure.

About the author:

Michael Williams was born in Louisville, Kentucky. Much of his childhood was spent in the south central part of the state, amid red dirt, tobacco farms, and murky legends of Confederate guerillas. He has spent a dozen years in various parts of the world, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin, with stopovers in Ireland and England, and emerged from the experience surprisingly unscathed.

Upon returning to the Ohio River Valley, he has published a series of novels of increasing oddness,combinations of what he characterizes as “gothic/historical fiction/fantasy/sf/redneck magical realism” beginning with Weasel’s Luck (1988) and Galen Beknighted (1990), the critically acclaimed Arcady (1996) and Allamanda (1997), and, most recently, Trajan’s Arch (2010). His new novel Vine will be released this summer.

He lives in Corydon, Indiana with his wife, Rhonda, and a clowder of cats.

Connect with the author:      Facebook     |     Author's Blog  

About the book:

Vine: An Urban Legend by Michael Williams
ISBN: 9781613181256 (paperback)
ASIN: B008G5WHHA (Kindle ebook)
Publication Date:  March 28, 2012
Publisher: BlackWyrm

Amateur theatre director Stephen Thorne plots a sensational production of a Greek tragedy in order to ruffle feathers in the small city where he lives. Accompanied by an eccentric and fly-by-night cast and crew, he prepares for opening night, unaware that as he unleashes the play, he has drawn the attention of ancient and powerful forces.
Michael Williams’ Vine weds Greek Tragedy and urban legend with dangerous intoxication, as the drama rushes to its dark and inevitable conclusion.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Book Excerpt & Giveaway: FEEDBACK by D. L. Richardson

Feedback by D. L. Richardson
ASIN:  B009LKHUQM (Kindle ebook) 
Publisher: Etopia Press
Publication Date: October 5, 2012

Ethan James, Florida Bowman, and Jake Inala need organ transplants. When they receive the organs of a dead CIA agent, Dylan Black, they take on more than the task of completing the mission of deactivating bombs that threaten millions of lives. Kidnapped, their lives under threat, the memories stored in the CIA agent’s mind begin to awaken within each of them, except the one piece of information they are abducted for - the location of the bombs.


Chapter One
Wednesday, November 9th, Ethan James
AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” blared through the speakers. Apt music considering the weather conditions. Rain pounded the windshield of the Lamborghini. Crushed beneath the noisy rain, the music took a beating, too. I flipped the volume control to the max, drowning out the steady slap of water on the roof.
The dark shroud of night cloaked the striped lines to my left and right. Street signs blasted yellow warnings to drivers to slow down on wet roads. I ignored them.
Instead, I pushed the car to 120 miles per hour. Coming around a curve in the road, I flew up on a van and sharply jerked the wheel to avoid ramming the Lamborghini up its rear end. I owed my life to my quick reflexes.
I drove for another half mile at suicidal speeds, drumming my fingers on the steering wheel to the rhythm of the guitar riff. Another half mile. Then another. Just when the buzz of the ride plunged to a level of indifference, the car hit a pothole, veered me across three lanes, and like a punch from nowhere, it was game on.
A tsunami-sized wave of water fell from the sky. Momentarily blinded by the useless wipers, I sucked in my breath when two rows of lights cut through the haze. Two white lights on the bottom and six or more yellow ones on top—the bright circles headed straight at me.
Semitrailer. Not good.
Gritting my teeth, I tightened my grip on the steering wheel. The truck swerved at the last second, missing killing me by about half that length of time. The driver blasted four long bleats of the horn.
I laughed out loud as I spun around.
I accelerated till the car caught up to its former 120 miles per hour. The chorus kicked in, and I helped with the backing vocals. “Thunder. Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na. Thunder.”
Whether driving under a dome of blue, or a sky darkened by storms like tonight, I liked to push cars to their limit. It didn't matter what sort of car, but slow cars tended to break apart sooner under extreme pressure. Fast cars handled the punishment of driving at stupid speeds much better.
Speeding made the rush last longer. It filled a void and carried me to a place where I let go of the angst over a waste of a life spent waiting to die of kidney failure. The rush reminded me that seventeen-year-old kids should wish for a professional ice hockey career instead of wishing to still be alive by Christmas.
The song ended, and in that second of silence, my thrill took a dismal nosedive. Images of the hospital I attended every week flickered across my vision. So, I increased the speed. Bad enough the bleak place filled my head and haunted my dreams, but to interrupt my fun—not going to happen.
The next song on the CD kicked in, and it did the trick of hauling me back to the driver’s seat, where I replaced the hospital corridor for a rain-slicked freeway. I figured if I had to die young, I’d do it on my terms. No doubt the doctors would have something to say about this philosophy. If I crashed the car and ended up in the hospital, I’d tell them I reached out to touch life. Better than dwelling on my post pubescent life spent hooked up to a dialysis machine.
I’d probably get pulled over by the cops first, and I couldn't have that. Aside from speeding, I’d stolen the Lamborghini from a mall parking lot half an hour earlier, and I didn't have a license.
A crack in my concentration appeared like the lightning bolts streaking the sky. The car drifted into the next lane, and I let it go. A set of lights rushed toward me, and I expertly got the car under control, but at this speed, and despite the car’s sporting capability, the Lamborghini was all over the shot.
Buzzed from pushing the car, I kept going.
At 120 miles per hour, streetlights floated like satiny, white ribbons. The rain-slicked road made it impossible to judge the lines marking the lanes. Curves were hard to anticipate.
Sometimes I oversteered; sometimes I didn't steer enough and had to yank the wheel to the left or right at the last second. Other drivers blasted their horns. I didn't care about the rules of the road. Rules were for pussies.
For each minute I survived this suicidal cruise, I’d get two points. So far, I’d accumulated over two hundred. Fifty were up for grabs, if I made it home alive. I had a lot to lose if I crashed the car. I had nothing to lose if I killed myself.
I jumped in surprise when a car came up on my left and honked its horn, whizzing by in a blur of chrome. “I don’t think so, buddy.”
I accelerated. If the cops wanted to stop me, they’d have to use air support. Getting myself on TV only added to the thrill of the chase.
Concern over my reckless driving should have registered, but it didn't.  The speedometer now read 140 miles per hour. AC/DC screeched about “Hells Bells,” and the rain didn't lessen. If I lost control now, I’d smash into the concrete barriers lining the highway. It’d be game over. No way I’d survive the impact. What a shame this last train of thought wasn't on whether I’d survive or not, but on whether I’d care.
Lightning bolts exploded across the sky and lit up the windshield. In that brief flicker of visibility, I spotted the plane on fire, blocking the highway—and the spaceship blowing up a bridge with luminous green laser beams. I let go of the wheel, idly watching the Lamborghini plow into the concrete barrier. Metal fragments and orange flames danced in front of me. The sound of something exploding boomed through the speakers. The words GAME OVER flashed across the television screen.The plane had been okay, but the spaceship insulted me. For sure, the makers of the game reckoned it’d be a hoot to throw unrealistic obstacles in my path.
I tossed the Xbox controller aside and scratched my numb backside. My life couldn't get any worse…might as well go to school.
* * *

About the Author:

Music first captured the creative interest of D L Richardson. She got her first acoustic guitar at age ten, and in high school she sang with the school band. When she left school she helped form her own rock band where she sang lead vocals, played bass guitar, and wrote all the lyrics. At age 26 she realized she wanted to write novels for the rest of her life, or die trying, so she sold her equipment, quit pursuing a music career and began writing instead. She currently lives in Australia on the NSW South Coast with her husband and dog. When she’s not writing or reading she can be found practicing her piano, playing the guitar or walking the dog.

Connect with the author:


The Book Diva's Reads is proud to be participating in the Feedback tour-wide giveaway. This giveaway is for a Feedback Swag Pack, consisting of: 1 signed Postcard, 2 Bookmarks, 1 Code Breaker, 3 Business Cards (with secret codes to be used with the Code Breaker), 1 Sticker and 1 Outer Cover (greeting card sized manila folder designed to resemble a CIA File). 

This giveaway is open to all and will end at 11:59 PM ET on 12/30/2012. The winner will be announced by 9:00 AM ET on 12/31/2012. All entries must use the official Rafflecopter form below (comments are not accepted as an entry).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

End of the World Giveaway Hop

The End of the World Giveaway Hop has been organized by Kathy at  I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Jennifer at My Life With Books (thank you Kathy & Jennifer). The purpose of this hop is to provide an opportunity for bloggers to offer readers books that we'd save if the end of the world were imminent, books that we're passionate about, or books about the end of the world. Since my list of books to save was simply too large and impractical I chose books that I'm passionate about, namely the Pink Carnation series by author Lauren Willig. I've read each and every one of the books in this series (some of them more than once) and consider myself very fortunate that Ms. Willig has graciously provided three signed paperback copies from this series.

The Seduction of the Crimson Rose (Book 4)

Determined to secure another London season without assistance from her new brother-in-law, Mary Alsworthy accepts a secret assignment from Lord Vaughn on behalf of the Pink Carnation. She must infiltrate the ranks of the dreaded French spy, the Black Tulip, before he and his master can stage their planned invasion of England.
Every spy has a weakness and for the Black Tulip that weakness is beautiful black-haired women-his 'petals' of the Tulip. A natural at the art of seduction, Mary easily catches the attention of the French spy, but Lord Vaughn never anticipated that his own heart would be caught as well.
Fighting their growing attraction, impediments from their past, and, of course, the French, Mary and Vaughn find themselves lost in a treacherous garden of lies.
And as our modern-day heroine, Eloise Kelly, digs deeper into England's Napoleonic-era espionage, she becomes even more entwined with Colin Selwick, the descendant of her spy subjects.

The Temptation of the Night Jasmine (Book 5)

After 12 years in India, Robert, Duke of Dovedale, returns to his estates in England with a mission in mind-- to infiltrate the infamous Hellfire club to unmask the man who murdered his mentor at the Battle of Assaye. Intent on revenge, Robert never anticipates that an even more difficult challenge awaits him, in the person of one Lady Charlotte Lansdowne.
Throughout her secluded youth, Robert was Lady Charlotte’s favorite knight in shining armor, the focus of all her adolescent daydreams. The intervening years have only served to render him more dashing. But, unbeknownst to Charlotte, Robert has an ulterior motive of his own for returning to England, a motive that has nothing to do with taking up the ducal mantle. As Charlotte returns to London to take up her post as Maid of Honor to Queen Charlotte, echoes from Robert’s past endanger not only their relationship but the very throne itself.

The Mischief of the Mistletoe (Book 7)

Arabella Dempsey’s dear friend Jane Austen warned her against teaching. But Miss Climpson’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies seems the perfect place for Arabella to claim her independence while keeping an eye on her younger sisters nearby. Just before Christmas, she accepts a position at the quiet girls’ school in Bath, expecting to face nothing more exciting than conducting the annual Christmas recital. She hardly imagines coming face to face with French aristocrats and international spies…
Reginald “Turnip” Fitzhugh—often mistaken for the elusive spy known as the Pink Carnation—has blundered into danger before. But when he blunders into Miss Arabella Dempsey, it never occurs to him that she might be trouble.  When Turnip and Arabella stumble upon a beautifully wrapped Christmas pudding with a cryptic message written in French, “Meet me at Farley Castle”, the unlikely vehicle for intrigue launches the pair on a Yuletide adventure that ranges from the Austens’ modest drawing room to the awe-inspiring estate of the Dukes of Dovedale, where the Dowager Duchess is hosting the most anticipated event of the year: an elaborate 12-day Christmas celebration. Will they find poinsettias or peril, dancing or danger? And is it possible that the fate of the British Empire rests in Arabella and Turnip’s hands, in the form of a festive Christmas pudding?

The End of the World Giveaway will end at 11:59 PM ET on 12/21/2012. If we survive, the winner will be announced by 9:00 AM ET on 12/22/2012. Regrettably this giveaway is limited to residents of the US (sorry). All entries must use the official Rafflecopter form found here. Comments are appreciated but will not be considered as a valid entry.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Excerpt: SOUL SISTERS by Janiera Eldridge

Soul SistersSoul Sisters Trilogy #1, by Janiera Eldridge
ISBN: 9780615683102 (paperback)
ASIN: B0085X07FG  (Kindle ebook)
Publisher: Mystic Press

Soul Sisters is an urban fantasy novel about African-American twin sisters Ani and Dana who have a rather unique secret: one sister is human while the other is a vampire. While the sisters have lived peacefully with each other for many years one fateful night will change both their lives forever. When a drunken man tries to attack Dana (the human sister) Ani (the vampire sister) protects her sister with all of her ferocious power.
However, when the vampire's leader Donovan finds out about the public display he calls for the sisters to be assassinated for disobedience. Ani and Dana now are in for the fight of their lives to protect each other as well as the lives of their dedicated friends who have joined them on their mission for survival. If Dana and Ani can make it through this time of uncertainty, Ani can take her new place as vampire queen. Soul Sisters is expected to be a trilogy; The book also features a multicultural cast of characters that brings a new edge of chic to the vampire world.


Chapter 6
1915 New York City

Bryson and Dana walked arm and arm down the blustery New York street laughing about the Christmas party they had just left. The snow was fresh and powdery. Neither of them felt the icy cold snowflakes floating down and speckling their coats because they were wrapped in the warmth of each other’s company.
“Did you see how Charles acted after taking that last shot of whiskey?” Dana asked.
Bryson could not contain his laughter thinking about their friend’s drunkenness. Everyone who had been at the party was probably laughing about it on their way home, too, particularly the part when Charles took off his pants and danced on top of the piano. Bryson laughed so hard people gave them odd passing glances.
“Yes.” Bryson gave a bright smile and grabbed her face to kiss her as they stood in the middle of the sidewalk. He wanted people to stop and stare at his beautiful wife. He wasn't afraid to show her off every chance he got. The women cooed softly at the sweetness of the moment while the men ushered their women forward murmuring about how indecent their public display of affection was for the community. Truthfully they just didn't want their wives to get any ideas.
It took Dana a few seconds to catch her breath. She couldn't believe he would do something that indecent in public. It didn't matter to her, however, because it felt way too good to be wrong. They stepped off the curb without a care in the world; Dana held onto Bryson’s arm tightly and could not stop staring into his eyes.
A few seconds later Dana felt a sharp pain and a crushing blow to her arm. It was as if a freight train slammed into her right side. She instantly started sobbing from the pain and confusion of the situation. She felt like a block of ice was on top of her chest as she lay sprawled out on the ground. Her legs were straight out together in front of her but her arms were stretched out wide, going in two different directions. Her head turned slowly to the left when she heard a woman screaming and she saw Bryson on the ground with his eyes wide open. She blinked a few times to clear up her vision and then she spotted a pool of blood circling his head like a flowing halo.
Dana tried to push against the woman lying on top of her but the person was impossible to move no matter how hard she tried. 
“You don’t want to see this, you’re safe now,” the woman said softly in her ear; she sounded just like her.
“Soul sister?” Dana asked as she felt herself losing consciousness. She heard the chaos of the world going on around her but then she slipped into a black void. When she came to in a small nearby hospital she was disoriented and feeling miserable. There was a dull ache in her head and the vision in her right eye was blurry. She thought she saw a petite woman standing in the doorway, maybe she knew what had happened to Bryson.
“Where is my Bryson? Is he OK? What happened?”
The woman walked over to the bed and placed a hand on her head. Dana could see the woman was wearing a nurse’s outfit and she guessed she was in a hospital. The woman’s hand felt ice cold against her burning flesh.
“I’m sorry to tell you, ma’am, but your husband was hit by a moving vehicle. He suffered a bad head injury and he is no longer alive. I am so sorry.”
“No, wait. We were just coming back from a Christmas party. When did this happen?”
“You stepped off the side walk with your husband, ma’am. Apparently you could not see the car and the car could not see you. A woman who looked oddly like you pushed you out of the way and saved your life. Your husband didn't make it. I’m very sorry. Would you like some water or a cup of juice?”
“No, no, thank you. Can I see him at least?”
“Not now honey. I really think you should get some rest. There’s a young woman who is here to see you. She says she’s your sister. Are you ready to see her?”
Dana coughed deeply and felt a liquid build up in her throat that she quickly swallowed back down; she was afraid to see who it was.
“OK,” was all she could seem to get out of her throat.
Her soul sister quietly stepped into the room as she faced the wall. She didn't want the woman to see her nervousness or confusion. As much as she wanted to hug her sister she also wanted to punch her.
“Why didn't you save my husband?” Dana asked choking back tears but keeping a straight face. As the tears filled up her eyes, her cheeks began to sting and swell
“The car came so fast. I didn't have time to save you both. I’ve seen you with Bryson before and I know how much you loved him, I’m so very sorry.”
“What is your name?” Dana asked, sitting up against the pillow.
“Ani,” She said softly.
“Ani, I don’t think I want to live much longer. I sold my soul to save my husband’s life and Donovan took him away from me. I really don’t see any reason to live anymore.”
Ani sat down in a chair and moved closer to the side of the bed. She placed her hand on Dana’s head and felt that she had a slight temperature. She would notify a nurse as soon as she left the room. Ani loved her sister and if her sister died then she died too. 
“Donovan had nothing to do with what happened. Your husband’s time came up again and he was taken. Donovan didn't order his death. I’m sure he is very concerned about this and knows how much this hurts you. He is good at feeling things like this.”
“Your kind feels? You don’t want me to kill myself because then you will die too. Frankly, I don’t care what happens to you right now. You’re such a small fragment of me; I don’t even think you’re real. This is just a bad nightmare. I’ll wake from it; I’ll be at home warm and safe with my parents. Bryson never actually existed and I sure as hell know you don’t either.”
Dana turned her head back to the wall and let the tears flow freely down her face. She placed her hand over her mouth to stifle the cries; her heart felt like it had broken into a million pieces. Now, she couldn't live for anybody else but herself. Dana saw the look of despair in her sister’s face but it wasn't enough for her to let her soul sister into her life. 
“I’ll never turn my back on you when you need me, no matter how far away you are or how much danger you’re in. I know we’re supposed to be twins but I feel like you’re my baby sister.” She gave a light chuckle and then headed for the door. “I’ll be back to visit you tomorrow, and the next day and the next day. Even if you never want to see me it’s OK, but I’m not going to be without you any longer. I love you way too much.”
“I don’t care if you come back a million times. I will never talk to you again. Get the hell out of my room!” Dana threw a glass at Ani’s head. Ani moved her head slightly to the left as it flew into the wall and shattered into tiny pieces. She took a deep breath and nodded her head up and down slowly; she had to give her more time. Ani had been programmed to take on the evil ways of the world but Dana’s rose-colored glasses had just been stepped on.

About the Author:

Janiera Eldridge loves feeding her book addiction and putting all her crazy stories on paper. When she is not immersed in the world of fiction, she is working as an entertainment freelance writer.

Janiera also enjoys connecting with other authors and supporting their work on her book blog Books&Beauty.

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