Monday, December 28, 2015

A Thousand NightsA Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Thousand Nights was a story that reads more like a long fable. I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for review. I have to admit most of the time I was totally enthralled with this story. Other times I was a little tripped up by some of the world that was created because it was diverse and quite original. It did at times fell a bit slow but nothing that would stop the reader from being a part of the story. One thing I just noticed is that I can only remember one person's name in the story, Lo-Melkhiin. Everyone else was referred to mostly by their position like Sister or Lo-Melkhiin's mother or father. I literally cannot think of the protagonist's name which is odd. I did not realize it when I was reading the story because she also referred to as daughter or sister or daughter of my heart. Strange how when you are living in the moment of the story you do not realize that you don't know the character's name.

Lo-Melkhiin, a king of the lands, has a penchant for marrying and then as soon as his wife dies he goes to the next village and finds another wife to the tune of hundreds of wives. It is so bad that each village literally quakes with fear when he and his soldiers head in the village's direction. In this instance, the protagonist knows that her sister will be chosen and makes the sacrifice to be chosen in her place. It changes everyone in their village, especially her sister who takes on a role that it was not thought that she would take, that of sort of a priestess. With all of the daily prayers from her sister as well as her mother and her sister's mother and likely the prayers of everyone in their village, our protagonist is gifted with a power that has allowed her to live longer than any of the other wives. The reader learns why Lo-Melkhiin is the way he is and why the wives continue to die and we spend the story holding our breath hoping that she makes it another night and hopefully the rest of the nights.

A Thousand Nights has vivid characters that are so well drawn and a world that is so well drawn that I literally missed that I don't remember the names of any of the people or the world but everything in the story still seems to stand out. I would have never thought this story would be something I like as much as I did but, I was drawn to it based upon the synopsis and had to find out what was happening to each of these wives and why. It is a great story with mystery and intrigue.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Gambit (The Prodigy Chronicles Book 1)Gambit by C.L. Denault
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gambit was one of those books that I was on the shelf about reading when I saw it on Netgalley. I was not sure if I would be able to read it because I am typically am not a fan of dystopian novels. I decided to give it a chance in exchange for a review and I am definitely happy that I read it. Gambit was awesome! It is the story of Willow Kent that was raised by her parents in one of the outlying areas which seems like it may be formerly Scotland. Willow is a 16 year old girl with a close family and many friends. They own a tavern that is always very packed. In this world, there are messengers that risk their lives to go to an area known as the Core which appears to previously be London. The messengers ride a very long distance by bicycle risking their lives to get news for the outlying areas. There are patrols that move around looking for what is known as prodigies, people with magical gifts that they are required to report to the Core. This concept is dark to me but, it is a dystopian novel. The Core has labs where they study these people where they try to harness these gifts for their own uses.

Willow has secrets that are going to change her entire life and that of her family. She has gifts that the Core want to know about and through their very heavy-handed tactics, they discover and literally rip her from her life. Willow has to determine who she can trust and how to live in this new world that is more like our world but with more advanced technology. The people she meets, Aspen, Duncan, Kane, Joshua, Reece, Gem, Morry and Fenn all play a huge part in how Willow's story moves and it is up to her to harness her gifts and try to take back control of her life. Gambit is an action-packed thrill to read. The characters are well-drawn. The story is interesting and there is also some mystery in it. I have to say I am seriously worried about this arranged marriage and how things will unfold with that, especially given the nature of the relationship between the two families. But, it is politics at its best and worst. I am really looking forward to the next book in this very exciting series!

Friday, December 18, 2015

When in RomeWhen in Rome by Amabile Giusti
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It has been a while since I read a book that has made me laugh out loud this much. I received a copy of When in Rome/Pushing 30 through NetGalley in exchange for review. It is the story of Carlotta who is this dynamic, energetic, sarcastic woman who is within months of turning 30 and doesn't realize her own worth. She lives in Rome so we get a bit of a sense of where she is but, this story is more about the people than it is about beautiful Italy. She has a mother, really an entire family that is completely insane. They have family events not dinners or gatherings. Each member of her family is exteremely colorful and different. Well, her mom and sister appear to be carbon copies of each other, tall and glamorous as well as beautiful, while Carlotta is short and small with dark curly hair and more like her father, who incidententally she is closer to as a daughter. Her relationship with both her mother and sister are combative and contentious. She and her sister have issues. Carlotta has these two great friends that are both a bit nuts in their own way as well. Carlotta has a gorgeous roommate named Luca who appears to be a man slut. Unfortunately for Carlotta he is oblivious to her in all ways other than being a friend as he lives his life going from woman to woman without remembering their names. This story has a lot of realism for those of us that struggle with things about ourselves we would like to change or improve, having a better job, a better education, great friends, or just a life that sometimes that is just a little bit large sometimes. You cannot help but love Carlotta as she muddles her way through and starts to figure things out and takes the reader along on the trip giving us laughs along the way. I hope I find more books by Amabile Giusti that are translated into English.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Princess Ever After (Royal Wedding, #2)Princess Ever After by Rachel Hauck
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was pretty sure I read this book some time ago but it was still marked as unread on my shelf. Some of it kept striking things in my memory so I guess I did read it but forgot to go back and review it. I hate when I do that because I found this in my Arc shelf which means I owed a review to a very deserving author. I have to admit that this book really resonates with me. It is a story about choices and leaving home. Most of us have to make this decision and even though we find happiness after we make the decision we do not see that happiness when we are making the choice to leave home for the first time. In this case, Reggie Beswick is working in her dream job restoring vintage cars with one her most favorite people in the world, her dad's close friend. She loves her home-town of Tallahassee Florida and the town loves her back. Suddenly she is told that she is the descendant of a princess, her great-grandmother, Alice, whom she knew the first 12 years of her life. It apparently was a closely guarded secret with some memories of hints thrown in here and there. The duchy of Hessenberg needs its royal to come and help them regain their country from an old contract, but it means Reggie has to make a huge decision, step out on faith and go or stay home where things are comfortable. Of course, there is another wrinkle, a great looking man who also happens to be single. Princess Ever After is an endearing story that is great read and, yes, there is talk of faith in God, but that doesn't mean it isn't a great story for everyone! I love great, royal romance stories and this one fits the bill!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Jane Blond International SpyJane Blond International Spy by Brianna Schatt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jane Blond International Spy is a YA book I received as a free ebook in exchange for an honest review. Jane is a 14-year-old teenager who attends a private school where she seems to find trouble everywhere she looks. She is sassy and quick on her feet. She chooses friends that are not ones that girls that are popular tend to choose. Of course, there are different ways of being popular and it seems that Jane's popularity comes more from her run-ins with two students from Uzbekistan that seem to take pride in bullying those that are less fortunate. Jane's best pals are an Inuit student and a brainy student. In this school most of the students are gifted in different ways. Bruce is very smart with computers. Anouk is a student that spends a great deal of time working multiple jobs to support a family that does not seem to function very well and leaves a teenage girl to go to school full-time and work full-time while they remain at home. Anouk still manages to be successful despite pressures from her home life. Bruce is suffering from family problems as well but has a great support system. Another schoolmate who is the son of a British diplomat is missing and so is his father. Jane becomes very involved much to the dismay of her mother and federal authorities. She strikes out on her own with the help of her friend Bruce. She also has the unwitting help of her gray parrot and Jeff, another student in her class that has Aspergers Syndrome.

Jane has family problems of her own that she is working through, a mom that is dating someone she does not like, a dad that is absent because of his own problems and her own propensity to find trouble in all its fashion. It seems a bit surreal most times how dangerous the trouble is and how she manages to extract herself from some of the situations. But, taking Jane Blond International Spy as an action-packed book where things don't necessarily go her way as a chance to read something a bit different that involves one of my favorite sub-genres, spy/espionage, it was an enjoyable fast-paced read.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Heir and the SpareThe Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Heir and the Spare fits into one of my newfound favorite subgenres, romance with royals. I am by no means a royal watcher but, I do love these modern royal romance stories. I received a copy of The Heir and the Spare through Edelweiss and loved it. It is the story of Evie who is accepted at Oxford not only following in both her parents' footsteps but also following one of her mom's requests. Evie's mother gave her some really poignant and heartfelt letters that include some hints from her time in Oxford and also about her life. Evie does not know much about her mom's family and neither does her father so he is not able to answer many questions. As Evie follows what amounts to a quest to learn more about her mom's past she learns more about herself. Along the way she meets an amazing man, that turns out to be the youngest prince of England. This appears to be loosely based upon the real royal family so it allows the author some liberty that allows the author to give the story the kind of ending that we all love. Of course, Evie meets some great friends at Oxford, all colorful and well-developed. There has to be at least one love-interest that wants a prince all to herself so there is some contention. But, this woman is willing to fight dirty and causes Evie no small amount of pain as things are exposed that she was still trying to learn about her family and herself.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Golem of ParisThe Golem of Paris by Jonathan Kellerman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Golem of Paris is the second installment in the Jacob Lev books by Jonathon Kellerman along with is son Jesse Kellerman. I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. I read The Golem of Paris on the first leg of a flight overseas which are flights that I typically cannot sleep despite their length. In this book, Jacob is in his new assignment where it appears he is being punished for failure to follow orders of his new team lead in the special ops team he was moved to in the first book. Despite being reassigned to the traffic division, the members of his special ops team are still keeping an eye on him because they expect Mai, the person they are trying to catch to reach out to Jacob again. They are not sure of Jacob's loyalty and whether he is willing to divulge any communication he has had with Mai.

Jacob is moved back to the special operations team where he is given another task that appears to be just busy work, but he comes across a case that was intentionally left for him as he scanned old cases onto the network. It is a cold case where a mother and her young son were murdered and left out in the open. Jacob begins investigating on his own time and eventually convinces the team leader that it is a case that should be investigated officially. While he investigates he is also spending time with his mother at the nursing facility. He tries different tactics to reach her and finally seems to reach her when she accidentally sees the details of the case he is investigating. It eventually leads him to a current like crime that just occurred in Paris, France. He travels to Paris with one of the team members to watch over him. Jacob finds that the case involves a Russian oligarch that is going to be hard to reach.

As the reader is given a deeper glimpse into Jacob's relationship with his mother the story delves into his mother's history. We meet her as a teen still living at home with her parents who are both very damaged by their history as Jews in Eastern Europe. As a result, Bina was never raised as Jewish though she is aware that it is her family's history. We see how Jacob's parents met and learn about how his mother was damaged mentally. What Jacob finds in his current investigation eventually dovetails with his mother's history and we learn some shocking things about Bina. Jacob also learns things that allow him to give his relationship with his father a second look. The Golem of Paris has a great mystery and also contains some urban fantasy aspects that touch on Jewish mythology. The story is action-packed and does contain some violent aspects that almost have a horror aspect. I look forward to reading more in this series.
Fatal Exchange (Christy, #3)Fatal Exchange by Cindy M. Hogan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fatal Exchange was one of the books I chose to take with me to read during a long flight overseas. It was a great choice because not only did it keep me entertained but it also made the flight seem much shorter than the 8 hours it took. I received a free copy of Fatal Exchange in exchange for an honest review. It is the third installment in the Christy series about a teenage undercover agent. In Fatal Exchange, she is stationed in Paris where she is working with her team to retrieve a flash drive from a very reluctant French informant who says he has information that puts the entire nation of France in danger. Christy is wearing one of her disguises and moves in to retrieve the drive when things go terribly wrong. Christy's team is supportive of her and believe in her ability to turn things around with the information she was able to retrieve. But, her current director disagrees and suspends her from active duty pending the arrival of her handler who has been MIA for four months. Christy believes that she knows how to turn things around and goes undercover without any active backup in the field where she infiltrates an underground pickpocketing group that turns out to be more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. When she turns up information that she cannot act on alone she goes back to her director and convinces her that the agency should be officially involved to follow-through with the work Christy began. Information is uncovered that makes the mission even more dangerous for not just Christy but also for an organization that reaches the highest levels of the French government.

Fatal Exchange has some really interesting characters. Christy, of course, is a bit of a loose cannon, but she is extremely gifted. The other team members only have cursory descriptions that are more related to their work personalities and duties so we do not know much about them yet other than that they work well together and have good chemistry. Her handler is someone she has deep feelings for and it is a relationship that cannot go beyond co-workers because it is against policy and could cause them to lose their jobs. There is a new addition to the team that comes from Christy's past and their relationship is so volatile that it is not quite clear whether Summer will have her back when things get really bad or if she will leave Christy hanging when it really counts. Fatal Exchange is a great addition to this series and it is full of action and it contains a great story. I had one thread I was not quite sure was answered but, it was not enough to change how much I loved the story.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

JET: Oblivion (Kindle Worlds Novella)JET: Oblivion by Kim Cresswell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How can anyone go wrong with a Jet book? Impossible. I received an early release copy as part of a blog tour for Kim Creswell. Oblivion is a novella with a crossover that contained some of the characters from the Whitney Steel books and Russell Blake's Jet. This mini book packs a ton of action and a great story. Hal and Angela, FBI agents from the Whitney Steel books are directed by their boss to "recruit" Jet to help them with a very critical mission in Columbia. There has already been a nuclear attack at one of the nuclear plants in the U.S. with many fatalities and intel says that more are to come. Chambers' intel says that the next one is coming from Columbia where terrorists have joined up with one of the drug cartels to deliver a nuclear bomb to the U.S. The goal is to get Jet to use her connections and knowledge from her time working for the Mossad in Columbia. Jet is very low-key now and has good reason to be, she now has a young daughter so she tries to stay hidden from her enemies. Jet never disappoints. Her character is dynamic, strong, both mentally and physically and even though it seems that you should not root for her it cannot be helped. Now, Angela and Hal are no slouches and they are fresh out of a mission in Columbia where there are bad memories of fighting and loss. They make a great team with Jet and I look forward to reading more of the Jet books and the Whitney Steel books.

Interview with Kim Creswell

How did you come to be interested in the JET Series Kindle World?
I’ve always been a huge fan of Russell Blake’s JET series and when I saw the opportunity to write a story with one of my favorite characters I jumped on it. No. I pounced!
The JET Series books are fast-paced action and adventure stories. What genre(s) do you explore in your story?
Action. Adventure. Thriller. It’s a fantastic mix of genres. I’ve always been told to write what you enjoy reading.
The JET series has been set all over the world… the Middle East, Asia, South American, the Caribbean, etc. Tell us about where you set your story, and why?
OBLIVION is set in California, Las Vegas, Panama, and Colombia. I chose California because I needed a nuclear plant located on the west coast for the story. Las Vegas was chosen because it’s my two main characters usual stomping grounds. Colombia worked well due to the drug cartel and was also an interesting setting choice to explore as a haven for terrorists coming from Yemen.
Tell us a little about your main character(s).
Hal Decker and Angela Donahue are my two crossover characters from the Whitney Steel series. They were first introduced in RETRIBUTION (A Whitney Steel Novel – Book #2) and met during a covert mission in Colombia while Hal was helping a good friend save his fiancee after she was kidnapped by the drug cartel.
Hal is a former FBI agent, elite sniper and an ex-marine. He’s a mellow kind of guy with soft voice and has a serious vibe to him. People who meet him aren’t sure if he is friend or foe. He’s brilliant and cunning. He reminds me of a younger Ron Perlman playing the character Luther Braxton in the TV show; The Blacklist.
Angela is thirty-three years old and ex-US military intelligence (surveillance/reconnaissance) who worked intelligence operations in numerous overseas environments as well as in South and Central America. She’s also the go-to-girl you call to help get you out of a hostile territory during a dangerous mission. Her specialty—exit plans. She’s pretty good at kicking butt too.
Did you decide to include any of the main characters from JET (Jet / Maya, Matt or Hannah?) If so, Why?
I decided to use JET and Hannah in OBLIVION. I wanted to show the softer side of JET as a mother who is forced into making a difficult decision to leave her daughter behind with strangers while she tries to stop a terrorist attack.
What major theme comes across the clearest in your story? Is this a theme found consistently in your other works?
The major theme in story is the will to survive. Whether it’s a character who is an alcoholic or a character who’s risking her life to stop a terrorist attack—in the end it’s all about survival.
I think it’s also the main theme in my other works as well. My books all have very strong female leads who have to fight to survive one way or another.
JET is set in a world where many governments including Israel and the U.S. have covert operations including false flag and assassinations. Do you believe this is really the world we live in? If so, what are your thoughts on the future?
I do believe this is the world we live in and have been for a long time. With all the horror going on in the world it’s basically kill or be killed. As long as these covert operations are used to protect us and our security…why not? I think it would be naïve to think these types of missions haven’t happened, aren’t happening right now or are something new. As more dangerous threats pop up over time it makes it difficult to gauge what exactly the future holds.
What are you working on next?
I’m working on the first book of a four-book paranormal thriller series; Deadly Shadow (The Assassin Chronicles). The book features veteran FBI Agent Victory McClane and government assassin, Derrick Lynn, who has some pretty interesting paranormal abilities that make him unique and untraceable.
I’m also outlining the third book in the Whitney Steel Series which will release in the spring/summer of 2016. I promise it will be another crazy-action-injected-ride for investigative reporter, Whitney Steel.

Guest Post by Kim Creswell

Ingredients of a Great Thriller

Every now and then you read a novel that has you glued to the story because the action is moving at warp-speed and you're swept way not wanting to stop reading until you know how it turns out.  
The tension rises and you ride along with the characters feeling every blow right up until the climax.

In my opinion, the main ingredient in a great thriller is emotion. If you feel the story in your heart and gut then the author has done his or her job.

A great thriller is unpredictable. What if an FBI agent leading a murder investigation is the killer?

A great thriller has deadlines—the ticking clock. Will the FBI agent be caught before he kills again?

A great villain is a must-have in any thriller—a villain that stirs feelings of hatred, fear, disgust and sometimes empathy in the reader.

A main character who is worthy to fight the villain and hopefully win.

The setting and the action must also be believable for the reader because if the reader doesn't believe, the story will end.

In JET: OBLIVION the main characters, JET, Hal Decker and Angela Donahue are more than worthy to fight the villain, in this case, an al Qaeda terrorist cell working with the Sur del Calle cartel.

Each of the characters in the story have their own set of acquired skills. JET in her younger years spent time in juvenile hall then ordered to join the IDF, where she was recruited into the Mossad, and became an elite and deadly assassin. After leaving the Mossad she spent a great deal of time in the Caribbean, Central America and South America.

Hal Decker is a former FBI agent, elite sniper and an ex-marine. He's a mellow kind of guy with soft voice and has a serious vibe to him. People who meet him aren't sure if he is friend or foe. 

Angela Donahue is ex-US military intelligence (surveillance/reconnaissance) who worked intelligence operations in numerous overseas environments as well as in South and Central America. She's also the go-to-girl you call to help get you out of a hostile territory during a dangerous mission.

Together, they must beat the ticking clock—find the dirty bomb before it's smuggled out of Colombia and into the United States unleashing a deadlier attack at a second nuclear facility.

 As the story progresses, it's unpredictable, has deadlines, and a villain who evokes fear and  hatred combined with characters who are physically and emotionally worthy to battle the villain to the end.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Life was supposed to get easier for Tatum Duncan after she started dating Zach Bertano, but when Zach’s overbearing family starts trying to control her, Tatum finds herself pressured to “speak for” Zach. Worse, new guy Nigel is proving to be more tempting than Tatum wishes. One guy feels right … but the other makes her heart race! Which will Tatum give in to? Find out in GIRL DIVIDED TWO, the newest installment in Suzie T. Roos’s exciting series that blends edgy with a splash of innocence and a smidgen of humor, releasing October 20, 2015.

Rafflecopter for Tour Wide Giveaway: Suzie is offering visitors three awesome prizes during her Girl Divided Two Tour event! One (1) Grand Prize winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card, and two (2) Runners-up will receive an eBook copy of Girl Spoken For in the format of their choice.

To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Girl Divided Two:
Title: Girl Divided Two
Author: Suzie T. Roos Author
Location: St. Louis, MO
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Series: Spoken For #2
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Jacques Day Publishing
Format: Digital eBook ISBN: 978-0-99629-423-2

Life was supposed to get easier…

At least that’s what Tatum had hoped. New school year, great boyfriend…and things with her and Zach were supposed to be wonderful. Fairytale wonderful. They aren’t. Zach’s overbearing family controls his every move—and worse, they want to control Tatum. Now Zach is pressuring her to ‘speak for him’, which means she’ll not only be committed to him but also his mob family. Where’s the guy she fell in love with? To make matters worse, her friends introduce her to Nigel, the new guy who is more tempting than Tatum wishes.

So which will Tatum give in to … coercion or temptation?

Available at: Amazon  |  Goodreads

About Suzie T. Roos:
T. Roos is from, and has settled in, St. Louis with her husband, two children and a number of foster pets at any given time. She and her husband have lived everywhere from Philadelphia, PA to out West in Santa Monica, CA. They’re thankful they could expose their children to different American lifestyles and cultures. Besides writing, Suzie’s hobbies include movies, traveling, and especially concert going with her husband and friends. She’s always been an animal lover and animal rights advocate. She is certified by FEMA in IS-00011.a Animal in Disasters: Community Planning. She’s also an active volunteer at the Humane Society of Missouri.

Connect with Suzie:  Website  Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads
Girl Divided Two (Spoken For #2)Girl Divided Two by Suzie T. Roos
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tatum and Zach are back and the second installment is very contentious. As Girl Spoken For ended Zach had already “spoke for” Tatum. He and his entire family, especially his grandfather were waiting to see if she would speak for him. Tatum is under a lot of pressure from Zach and it gets to the point where the reader has to wonder what is going to happen with their relationship. Is Tatum understanding correctly what speaking for Zach actually means? The reader and Tatum come to a good understanding of what this means in Girl Divided Two and now Nigel is back in the picture. He is a gorgeous, British guy that the reader does not know a lot about. A huge question is just how old is Nigel. This book gives a better glimpse into Nigel’s background but so far not as much into Nigel himself. He appears to be a sweet, smart and well-mannered person. But, the grass is not always greener on the other side and Tatum’s idiot ex-boyfriend, Kyle is still insinuating himself in Tatum’s life, even as an extremely hateful and abusive person.

Girl Divided Two has moved into some seriously adult material though the book is about teens. These teens are faced with situations that not even adults should have to face. Zach is being pressured to begin a relationship he is not interested in and it causes him to behave in a manner that makes the reader reconsider whether to continue to consider him a good guy because his personality definitely takes on a dark tint. A little over half-way through the book and I had to step back and start jotting down my thoughts of the time because I am curious whether my current concerns will be refuted by the end of the book.

It is interesting when a book doesn’t follow the path that the reader would like how it challenges the way we might rate the book. When an author follows a direction we might not want and we still love the story then for me that is the mark of a great author. Honestly speaking Girl Divided Two has challenged me as a reader and a reviewer. The blurb on the back of the book is very careful with details and I feel an obligation to not give anything away. Zach and Tatum’s relationship has really challenged me because I like Zach as a person though he has some really sharp edges without considering his family. Nigel seems way too good to be true and it is great to see that he is human and has a temper but, he also is his own person and who can be angry with that. Girl Divided Two continues with the discussion with some of the things that Tatum had to live and work through in Girl Spoken For. But, at the core of it something Tatum said at the end really sticks with me about fear. She has some great friends that support her and I can honestly say that one thing that worked well for me is that despite how things were handled this did not have a love triangle in it, which is a theme I try not to read. Since this is a trilogy I look forward to seeing how things play out for Tatum, Nigel, Zach and everyone else in the book.

Guest blog by Suzie T. Roos

Hi, Lady Techie!
I am so honored to be back. Thank you so much for having me.
There are many things I could talk about, but technology and I should not be in the same room!
I’d like to use this opportunity to continue with the family dynamics theme we spoke about with my first release, Girl Spoken For, and continue now with Girl Divided Two.
Specifically, let’s talk about Zach Bertano’s family dynamics!
Based on the feedback I’m getting, a lot of readers love Zach.
To be honest, that’s a pleasant surprise to me. Why? Because in my opinion, he has some pretty big issues and baggage. 
In this second novel, Girl Divided Two, I’ve added Zach’s POV. I would love to hear what readers think about being in his head.
Anyhow, in the Bertano family there are very defined roles -- roles that I will continue to establish as the Spoken For series continues.  But Zach’s generation of the Bertanos wants a different, safer, healthier lifestyle, not the mob lifestyle.
Then you have Gramps, the Don. Could you imagine being under his control? No, thank you. Zach doesn’t like it either. But he respects his family, especially his parents. His parents, Nicola & Catalina, equally respect him.
Writing a close-knit family like Zach’s was great fun.  I absolutely love writing them.  
To me, Nicola and Catalina are the parents everyone would dream of. Not that I had horrible parents…no, that is not what I’m saying. (Dear lord…now I’ll get hate mail!)  But Nicola and Catalina are more than understanding and available for their son’s needs. As I mentioned in the post for Girl Spoken For, many parents wear the “birthing blinders.”  Zach’s parents do not. They’re realistic and most definitely they are not delusional.
In Girl Divided Two, when Gramps (The Don) gives Zach an ultimatum, Nicola and Catalina do what they can to help their son.  But no one dares go against Gramps, or else.
Nicola and Catalina’s generation really is stuck in the middle. They know no other lifestyle, but they also understand the desire of Zach’s generation to leave the mob lifestyle behind forever. In an ideal world, they too would prefer that.
What would you do if you were Nicola or Catalina?
Both of them are “Leads” in the Bertano clan.  Their son Zach is on the bottom of the Bertano totem pole. That means grunt work for Zach.
With the Bertanos, rank is established by order of birth and the first born is superior – it’s that simple.  That is, until you break one of Gramps’ rules. For example, Sergio should be the real “Lead” because he was first born. As the series progresses you will discover why he was demoted. So, when Sergio lost Lead it went to the second in line, Nicola. That automatically made Nicola’s spouse, Catalina, the Lead Woman. I loved making my own mob rules up!
The unfortunate rule I created was that, when one family member screws up, they all suffer.  In all honesty, it never dawned on me until right now…when I was growing up, my dad would “try” to pull off the same “when one of you are in trouble, you’re all in trouble” peer pressure trick.   Oh I hated that with a passion. Thank God my mom didn’t let that fly. To this day, I have no clue why my sweet dad would attempt to punish us all. But I see Gramps doing that.
In Girl Divided Two, Nicola does something he doesn’t want to -- all so the Bertanos could escape legal issues. This is their reality. One screws up…
Later in the series you find out Catalina was forced to do something she didn’t want to -- all because someone broke a rule and went against Gramps.
This is why in Girl Divided Two, Zach knows not to screw-up and go against Gramps.
No matter how much they truly respect each other, Fear Is Power.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

eReader Daily Deals 7" Kindle Fire Giveaway Blitz

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Friday, October 9, 2015

Guest Post by Jennifer Chance Author of Courted

Mad for the Royals? This could be why!

Cheryl, hello! It’s Friday and I can’t think of a better way to launch the weekend than celebrating COURTED on your blog. Thank you for having me today!
In honor of all things royal, I thought I’d explore a little about why I think Americans have a unique soft spot for royalty. These are just my opinions, and I welcome other ideas as well!

Three reasons to love the Royals

1. Sometimes, we like to rock it old country

Though America is a melting pot of people from nations all over the world, a large percentage of the country has roots (sometimes distant roots) in Europe. As such, we see the monarchy as a bit of a holdover from our own past, a time when things may not have been better, but they certainly were simpler. Whether our family trees are rooted in England, France, Germany, Ireland or countries farther flung across the old world, today’s monarchies echo a past rich with history and royal pageantry.

2. They seem… classier

American pop culture is not built on hundreds—even thousands—of years of refinement and elegance, in the way that most European monarchies are. While we celebrate actors and actresses, sports stars or people famous for simply being famous, a royal family has a panache that we can’t deny. Even our American royals—the Rockefellers, Kennedys, Roosevelts and Carnegies—can’t outweigh the current popularity of families like the Kardashians. As a result, for many Americans, the idea of royals is almost a comfort in the same way that the James Bond character is. You just know they’re going to be civilized, even if they’re in the midst of a dastardly plot.

3. Because most of us grew up with fairytales

The great American dream is about self-determination, but the idea of living in a world of kings and queens brings to mind all sorts of fond imaginings of fairytale balls and dashing princes. Especially in those tales where the commoner is elevated to the crown. Though must of us are all grown up now and not susceptible to the allure of the Disney princess, once upon a time we likely either imagined ourselves as one of the characters in these stories, or made up tales of our own—the adventurous Belle from Beauty and the Beast, the sweet rags-to-riches Cinderella, the fierce warrior maiden in Mulan. Even if we were the princesses who fought battles instead of drinking tea in the front parlor, we were special, rulers of our own little kingdoms.

Modern day royals don’t always live up to our imaginations—they have scandals and discord like any other family. But there’s still something magical about the idea of princes and princesses in today’s rush and tumble world. And stories about royalty help us escape for just a brief few hours into those imaginings, where kings and queens really rule and wishes just might come true.

What about you? If you love tales of royalty…ask yourself why. You may be surprised by the answer!

Thank you again, Cheryl! This was a lot of fun, and here’s wishing you an absolutely royal weekend! 

Fans of Meg Cabot's Princess Diaries will enjoy COURTED, a New Adult Contemporary Romance with a modern royals flair, about a young woman about to give up on her dreams … and the prince whose dreams she could help make come true.

Rafflecopter for Virtual Blog Tour Giveaway:

Jennifer is offering up some fabulous prizes during her Courted Virtual Tour event. One (1) lucky grand prize winner will receive a $25 Gift Card for Amazon or B&N (winner’s choice) and two (2) runner-ups will win an eBook copy of Rock It, book #1 in Jennifer’s Rule Breakers series! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below:

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About Courted:

Title: Courted
Author: Jennifer Chance
Publisher: Elewyn Publishing
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Series: Gowns & Crowns #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Length: 222 Pages
 ISBN: 9781943768042

Aspiring concert violist Emmaline Aurora Grace Andrews is torn between her love of family and her love of music. A year ago, she deferred entering a prestigious graduate program to help her parents recover from a devastating accident. Now the deferment is expiring, but her parents still need her. Worse, every time she plays her audition piece, she mangles it. Is it too late to be the musician she'd always dreamed of? Should she even try? Determined to get clarity, Emmaline accepts a friend's offer for a whirlwind European vacation. First Stop: a real live fantasy kingdom—the perfect place to sort wishes from reality. Prince Kristos Andris was a respected captain in his nation’s military… Was. In the wake of the tragic death of his elder brother, he's managed to avoid his duties as the new Crown Prince of Garronia for months. But now he must accept his responsibilities and leave his troops behind. Outraged at the restrictions of his new royal position, he'll do anything for one last adventure. So when opportunity suddenly lands in his arms in the form of a dreamy-eyed American girl, he embraces it (and her) for all he's worth. What's the harm in a quick fling, after all? It won’t change what he knows he must do… Only this is Garronia in the summertime, where passion has a way of ruining even the most sensible of plans.

Add to your TBR List:  Goodreads

Buy Links:  Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |  iTunes

About Jennifer Chance: Jennifer Chance is the award-winning author of the new adult Rule Breakers series as well as the modern royals Gowns & Crowns series. A lover of books, romance, and happily-ever-afters, she lives and writes in Ohio. In addition to her work in romance, she is also Jenn Stark, urban fantasy author of the Immortal Vegas series, and Jennifer McGowan, YA author of the Elizabethan spy series The Maids of Honor. She is truly NOT trying to become 27 Jennifers, but it’s getting a little dicey.

You can find her online at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at @Jenn_Chance.

Connect with Jennifer: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads Please add Barclay Publicity’s button at the bottom of your post and/or on the side column of your blog and link it back to

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Courted (Gowns & Crowns #1)Courted by Jennifer Chance
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Courted is a great story about Emmaline, an American visiting a small monarchy in the Mediterranean for a much needed break. I received an early release copy through NetGalley. Emmaline’s parents were in a horrific accident while she was away working on her graduate degree in music. The accident resulted in both her mother and father requiring round-the-clock care. Emmaline put her degree on hold to come home to Missouri to care for her parents. It has been over a year and she has not had a break. Her former college roommates take her to Garronia as part of their European vacation. Early in their trip Emmaline is saved by Prince Kristos while swimming in treacherous waters. Prince Kristos was out on military maneuvers on the beach when he pretty much literally runs into Em. They have a connection that is witnessed by many, including the paparazzi. Kristos is called back to the castle to prepare for taking the throne when his father relinquishes it. One of his duties to begin choosing a wife when all he wants to do is to be left alone to serve his country in the military which unfortunately is not an option.

I am by no means a royal watcher but, I have found a love for these royal stories. They are a welcome break from some of the darker books I read. I enjoyed the adventure of Kristos and Em as they try to stay one step ahead of the paparazzi and Kristos parents and guards. The chase scenes, though quite dangerous, were exciting. The romance between Kristos and Em was well developed and keeps the reader’s attention. Jennifer Chance also has a way of writing the sex scenes so that they are hot but not dirty. Another good aspect of Courted was watching both Emmaline and Kristos grow. Emmaline always understood her duties to family but she managed to lose herself while caring for her parents. It takes Kristos a bit more to come to terms with family duty, though both of them appear to be grieving without realizing it. It is great to watch them come together and support each other’s choices and learn from each other despite the short amount of time they have known each other. One of the best lines in the book is when each of them describes when they realized they loved the other person. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Fixer (Mort Grant, #1)The Fixer by T.E. Woods
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Fixer is a totally great book the follows the investigations of Mort Grant, a detective in Washington who is made aware of "the fixer" when his son, a reporter, starts investigating multiple stories about a woman who fixes problems for people when the situation is right. He has Mort look into parts of the story to try and validate some of what he has found in his research and Mort finds that he may just have run into a similar scenario that might involve the fixer. At the same time, a psychologist has a new client walk into her office for a session and demands that she fix her. The problem is that the new patient never gives her enough information to help her determine what is tormenting the patient. She cryptically admits that she is responsible for many deaths and demands help without giving the psychologist the full picture. Simultaneously, the story follows the fixer as she takes on new clients and the reader learns what the rules are for hiring her to "fix" a problem. There are several moving parts in this story and the reader does not know whether to like or hate the fixer because at the core of the story she is an assassin for hire.

The Fixer has some great characters in it. Mort is mourning the loss of his wife and we learn throughout the story that he is also dealing with another family problem. We also meet the forensic investigator that works with Mort and you cannot help but love him as he takes his very large dog everywhere with him. There are several "bad guys" that the reader can choose from to dislike. But, the real question becomes who is really the bad guy or bad girl in this story when there are several to choose from. What is really masterful about this story is how the moving parts all converge into what amounts to a pretty explosive ending that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat and can even have the reader mourning the loss of what looks like one of the bad guys really is suffering. I cannot believe it took me so long to start this series. Review can also be seen at Lady Techie's Book Musings http://ladytechiesbookmusings.blogspo....

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Almost a PrincessAlmost a Princess by Karen Hall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Almost a Princess is a fun story about Prince Phillippe who is deep trouble. He is in danger of losing the kingdom he has been raised to lead all of his life to a second cousin who has nothing but bad intentions for the country. He is required to be at least engaged within 30 days of his father's death and his father is suddenly very ill. I received a copy of Almost a Princess from NetGalley in exchange for a review. I am a sucker for stories where the prince needs a princess. This story has a quirk in it that makes it a bit different from royalty marrying a non-royal. In this case, there are some pretty strict rules, which likely are designed to keep the throne within the original royal or titled families of their country. The prince must marry someone who is the member of one of these families and his intended must be at least 21 years of age. He has always been expected to marry a woman from one of these families but she is not yet 21 and she is off studying to be a nurse and traveling. Jordan, who lives in Tennessee, happens to be a descendant of one of these families and she is courted as an emergency to fill in the gap. Perry is sent to speak with Jordan and convince her to help. They immediately have an attraction to one another and it becomes a story where the reader becomes a bit torn in how they hope things will turn out.

Almost a Princess tells a great story about loyalty, friendship and having a family be not only from those you are related to by blood but, also with those are close to you emotionally and physically. It does a good job of developing these relationships. The characters are interesting and the story has a way of keeping this from being the dreaded love triangle. The ending has a huge surprise that the reader does not see coming or even guess it was even in the works.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Disposable AssetDisposable Asset by John Altman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disposable Asset is a difficult book for me to review. I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for review. It had so many of the things I love in a book. There was a ton of action, a smart protagonist, who reads as extremely flawed, and real and a decent story line. Disposable Asset is the story of a teenage girl that is homeless and taken from the streets and trained as a government asset. This in itself is problematic because she is, in essence, a child. It is bad enough that she is homeless and felt she had no other options but to live on the streets after having such a wonderful background. Terrible circumstances combined to see her living the life of a homeless teenager. This is a life that is dangerous for adults so having a teenager living through it alone is very hard to digest and consider that this actually is happening in real life. But, this gritty part of the book is one of the things that make the story stand out.

Cassie is sent out on what appears to be her first assignment that is successful but, the assignment itself appears to have been extremely controversial. Cassie was betrayed and as she realizes it she is chased by multiple dangerous groups across Russia. This part of the story depicts how skilled she is and how great her instincts are as an asset. Despite her age she is highly aware of how her opponents might think and can respond quickly. She also has the ability to plan quickly and use everyday items to her advantage. This makes the book very exciting and has you cheering for Cassie at the same time you start to dislike her character for what she does to survive. It reads as almost barbaric but, the huge question the reader has to ask themselves is what were her other options given what capture would mean to her, barbaric torture and even possibly death. So, the reader is put into this conundrum of not knowing how to feel about Cassie, especially as she uses innocent people, some more innocent than others, to try and survive. It has to be instinct but part of what makes the reader challenged in their feelings for Cassie is being in tune with her thoughts. But, her trainer took her from the streets because he expected her to be tough and the reader does not truly know if what Cassie is told about her father is the truth. But, one thing we know is that Cassie is a perfect example of being a product of her environment and how circumstances can change a person. The reader is privy to her memories of when she had her parents in her life and the drastic shift in which she has become is something the reader gets to witness. The story definitely is all shadows with no light ever shown, but, I will have to follow, despite all of the darkness I have to see what happens to Cassie.

View all my reviews

London Prep by Jillian Dodd My rating: 5 of 5 stars What a great adventure! I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book...