Friday, December 19, 2014

The Frivolity Fairies: A Christmas Short Story by Jo Michaels (5 stars)

About The Frivolity Fairies
(from Goodreads)

It's Christmas Eve, 2014, and thirteen-year-old Shirley is listening to the same bedtime story she's heard every year.

This year, she comes face to face with the frivolity fairies from the tale; naughty, careless creatures who cause mischief with no regard to morality.

In a tale of Christmas spirit, magic, and happy endings, find out what happens when one little girl sets out to make things right.


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Review

Okay, can I just skip summarizing the book and just tell you everything I loved about it?

First, I love the cover. So gorgeous. Definitely judge this book by its cover, because...

It's such a sweet and empowering tale. Jo Michaels packs a lot of punch in few words, managing to create a memorable character and story line in a novella format. It's for all the dreamers out there; for all of us who sat on the edge of our seat as our mothers told us tales, and then wondered if they could be real. And the holidays are the perfect time to connect with this story, although it can be enjoyed any time.

I don't want to give away too much, but imagine a beautiful world with majestic creatures. Now, imagine you can go there, but you can't go home. It's amazing how quickly beauty can turn to horror and sadness when choice is taken away.

Not to worry, though, because this one has a happy ending. Plus, it's free! Yes, you heard right. It's a nice introduction to the amazing writing of Jo Michaels. 

Rating: 5 stars

About Jo Michaels
(from Jo's Amazon Author Page)
Jo Michaels is a writer who's really had a taste of life. She's lived in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Georgia; but visited states from coast to coast. Michaels, a high-school dropout, put herself through college while her husband was deployed to Iraq and still managed to come out on the other side with all five of her children still breathing. On top of that wondrous feat, she managed to graduate Summa Cum Laude. After her fourteen year marriage ended cataclysmically, she took to the keys to fulfill her dream of becoming a writer. Using the degree she obtained in school, Jo set out with tools in her belt not many writers possess: a strong design eye, the skills necessary to format her books, and the ability to use her artistic talents to create stunning covers.

Now, Michaels writes full-time in her garage while imbibing copious amounts of coffee to keep her motor running from son up to son down (and daughter, too). Her inspiration for her books comes from relationships, life, friends, passion, and her own incredible imagination. A fight for achieving her dream (along with her super duper boyfriend) is what drags her out of bed every morning to do what she does best: spin tales laced with high-octane emotion for readers worldwide.

You can find out more about Jo on Twitterher websiteher blog, andFacebook. Also, find out more about her indie author services at Indie Books Gone Wild.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

13 Hollywood Apes by Gil Reavill (4 stars)

About 13 Hollywood Apes

Pages: 310
Published by : Alibi

In a savvy, stylish thriller debut perfect for anyone who loves the crime novels of Michael Connelly or Nevada Barr, Gil Reavill unravels a chilling tale of murder and mayhem among humans and their closest evolutionary relatives—a primate family that may just be too close for comfort.

As a wildfire rages outside the Odalon Animal Sanctuary in the rugged Santa Monica foothills, the retired Hollywood movie chimpanzees housed there are shot and left for dead. When Malibu detective Layla Remington reaches the grisly scene the next morning, she’s deeply disturbed—and even more confused. The victims are not human, so the attack cannot be classified as homicide. Yet someone clearly wanted these animals dead, and executed them with ruthless efficiency. Miraculously, there is one survivor: a juvenile male named Angle.


But as Layla reaches the veterinarian’s office where Angle is recovering, a man with rock-star good looks and a laid-back Southern California attitude swoops in and removes him. And just like that, an unusual case turns truly bizarre. Soon reports surface of ferocious attacks against Odalon employees . . . with Angle as the prime suspect. As a wave of senseless violence reaches its apex, Layla chases a mystery man and his chimp—but everything comes back to that terrible night at the sanctuary.

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Review

Who doesn't love a good mystery/thriller? 13 Hollywood Apes takes the classic format for this genre and rethinks it with chimpanzees as the victims and suspects. 

This isn't a cuddly animal story; it is gritty and heartbreaking. Animals all too often are abused or used by sadistic humans to carry out crimes, yet our society has very few protections in place for the true victim--the animal. If an animal kills someone, we euthanize it. It's procedure. 

Layla Remington must work through the evidence and help redefine how society views the treatment of animals. She quickly finds herself connecting with Angle, the lone ape survivor of a brutal scene where several chimpanzees are murdered.

Even Layla jumps to some conclusions at first. As she becomes closer to Angle and uncovers details about the crime, she fights an uphill battle. Most everyone around her seems determined to take the easy way out on this case; after all, in their minds, it's just a bunch of animals.

At first, Layla seems like one-dimensional, overly strong and brash. Through her involvement with Angle and her father, we begin to see depth. My biggest disappointment was the lack of romance for her--not because it's required in a gritty suspense thriller, but because it's hinted at and never really materializes. Sometimes, Layla seemed completely alone, and I wished for a partner (other than her father, although his character was awesome) who shed more light on her and connected with her struggles.

Overall, I recommend 13 Hollywood Apes to readers who love this genre and are looking for a new twist on it. Although there's plenty of intrigue and suspense, what makes this book memorable are the questions it raises and the emotions it taps.

Rating: 4 stars

Giveaway

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About Gil Reavill

Gil Reavill is a journalist, screenwriter, and playwright. Widely featured in magazines, Reavill is the author of Mafia Summit: J. Edgar Hoover, the Kennedy Brothers, and the Meeting That Unmasked the Mob, as well as Aftermath, Inc.: Cleaning Up After CSI Goes Home and the screenplay that became the 2006 film Dirty, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. He lives in New York with his wife, Jean Zimmerman, and their daughter.


Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.

Please visit other stops on the 13 Hollywood Apes blog tour page.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Kiss a Cowboy by Deanna Lynn Sletten (4.5 stars)

About Kiss a Cowboy
(from Goodreads)

Sometimes fate steps in and changes everything...

Andi Stevens drives away from her home town of Seattle and says goodbye to her sister to begin a new life with her fiancé in Buffalo, New York. When her car breaks down in the mountains of Montana, she reluctantly knocks on the door of a cabin for help. What she finds is Luke Brennan, the most handsome man she's ever met, who appears annoyed by her bothering him and is also downright rude. He takes her up to the main ranch house where his mother welcomes her warmly, opening their home to her for as long as she needs to stay. Andi quickly falls in love with the ranch and its occupants, and the beauty of Montana. And no matter how hard they fight it, she and the brooding cowboy form a bond that becomes stronger by the day. Andi soon finds herself struggling with her promise to marry one man and the attraction she feels for another. 

Luke Brennan isn't interested in having his heart broken again. He's loved and lost once, and he's hardened his heart against ever falling in love again. But when a beautiful woman with the most tantalizing green eyes shows up at his door one night, he is taken by surprise. As hard as he tries to stay away from Andi, he finds himself drawn to her time and time again. But she's a city girl, and engaged to another man. She's off limits. Yet, he finds his heart slowly giving itself away to this woman. Should he bet against all odds and tell her how he feels before it's too late?

Does fate hold all the cards for the cowboy and the city girl, or will they choose their own destinies?


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Review

Andi Stevens is driving cross-country to start a new life. She's looking forward to some adventure along the way--having turned down her fiance's offer to simply fly her--but gets much more than she's expecting when her car breaks down. 

Luke Brennan opens his door to her, and life will never be the same. Unfortunately, he's hardened toward love. Will they find their way to each other or simply accept the easier choices?

I loved these characters! Andi has a reserved spunk; she's strong, but still honing this part of her personality. Her sister, a great character who I believe is getting her own book, is more outgoing and in-your-face. This leaves Andi as the stronger, older sibling who usually chooses responsibility over going with her gut. Still, Andi begins to find her way, and it's all thanks to Luke. At first, he seems like nothing but broody, but Andi chips away at this hardened exterior.

This is a fun, highly romantic story. Thanks to great characters, witty dialog, and well-built relationships (I especially loved Luke's mom and how she takes in Andi), Kiss a Cowboy has a real depth to it. Sure, it's fun, but it's not cheesy. 

If you are looking for a holiday read to warm your heart, look no further.

Rating: 4.5 stars

@@@ Deanna Lynn Sletten has yet to disappoint. This is the fourth book I've read by her, and I've loved them all. She's a master at memorable characters. Please see the following reviews: Destination Wedding, Summer of the Loon, and Maggie's Turn. @@@

About the Author

I'm Deanna Lynn Sletten and I am an author of several women's fiction and romance novels as well as one middle-grade adventure novel. My novel, Widow, Virgin, Whore, became a bestselling novel in March 2014 on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Maggie's Turn became a top 100 bestselling novel on Amazon and a top 10 bestselling novel on Barnes & Noble in September 2014. I have also won several awards for my novels including one for Memories, two awards for Sara's Promise, and a book cover award for Maggie's Turn.  

I have two grown children and live with my husband in northern Minnesota. For fun, I love walking the trails in the summer with my beautiful Australian Shepherd and laying around in the boat on the lake. Our winters are cold, so I stay inside and write!  

Visit Deanna at her website at www.deannalsletten.com. Or, you can connect viaTwitter and Facebook.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

With Love (Stories About Melissa, Book 5) by Bethany Lopez Release Day Blitz and Giveaway

It's Finally Here!
With Love, book 5 in the Stories about Melissa Series by Bethany Lopez, is LIVE!


About With Love

Melissa is turning sixteen and beginning her junior year. With a new job, and a new boyfriend, things are pretty hectic, but when things start becoming more difficult at home, Melissa soon becomes overwhelmed with responsibilities. Can she juggle her friends, family, a budding romance, as well as school and work? Getting older sure doesn't make things any easier!
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If you haven't read books 1 - 4 in the series, you can get them all in the Stories about Melissa Omnibus!


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To thank everyone for giving this Young Adult Series a shot, here's a Giveaway!

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Time for Books 2015 Review Team

I'm so excited to participate in Jo Michael's Time for Books 2015 Review Team. 

I do many reviews a year--a mixture of traditionally published and indie books. For this team, I will plan to read 21-40 INDIE books to share (HUNGRY level). Hopefully, I'll read even more.

If you'd like to join, check out these instructions from Jo Michaels blog:

Go to this page and follow the instructions to sign up. Every time you post a book review on your blog, enter it here and tweet about it with one of the hashtags on that page (#2015ReviewTeam or #Time4Books).

Also, if you want to find some great reads for the challenge, follow Jo's 12 Days of Review Requests event (running through 12/20/14) for some ideas. Her Day 7 post can be found here.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Duke City Hit by Max Austin (4.5 stars) & Giveaway

About Duke City Hit

On Sale: December 16, 2014
Pages: 150
Published by : Alibi

Max Austin takes readers back to Albuquerque for another action-packed thrill ride in Duke City Hit, as an elite assassin takes aim at—well, everyone.


According to Vic Walters, the secret to happiness is low overhead and few demands. Living rent-free in a modest bachelor pad behind his boss’s house, he has no debts, no entanglements, and no expensive relationships. He works just a few days a month, but his bank accounts keep growing.

Vic is a high-priced hitman with a legendary record of success. That is, until someone starts eliminating his marks before he can get to them . . . until his manager puts him in the middle of a vicious drug-cartel feud . . . and until a young man walks into his life with a big .45 and a startling revelation.

For Vic Walters, it’s time to step out of the shadows. Which means it’s killing time in Duke City.
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Review

Vic Walters lives life as he wants to and doesn't feel the need to apologize for it. After all, he only answers to himself. As a hit man, it's easier that way. Then, a couple of his hits get weird--someone else seems to be interested in his marks. Suddenly, a young man comes into Vic's life and changes everything.

I love a good thriller as much as the next person, but what really connects me with a read are memorable characters. This book scores on both accounts. Vic Walters appealed to me on many levels. He's tough, sexy, and confident. But then we get to see a whole new side of him, a depth not usually afforded a hit man character, when he gains something in his life he never thought he wanted.

Plus, there's action and suspense. For a few pages, I was worried we'd go from a thriller to a book about relationships, but the author strikes a great balance. So, if you love twists and turns with action, it's there. However, if you like character-driven pieces, you'll also be satisfied.

I highly recommend Duke City Hit. It's a quick read with surprising depth. I look forward to the next book in the series.

Rating: 4.5 stars

If you'd like to see my review of Duke City Split, the first book in this series, you can find it here.

Giveaway


About Max Austin
Steve Brewer

Max Austin is the pseudonym of writer Steve Brewer. He lives in Duke City (Albuquerque), New Mexico.



Thanks to TLC for my review copy. 


Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.

Please visit other stops on the Duke City Hit blog tour page.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Vampire Addiction by Eva Pohler Cover Reveal & Giveaway

Vampire Addiction: The Vampires of Athens, Book One Cover Revealed with $50 Rafflecopter Giveaway! 

When seventeen-year-old Gertrude Morgan from New York City is sent to study abroad in Athens, she unearths unfathomable secrets and unwittingly becomes a catalyst to a vampire uprising led by Dionysus, against the gods of Mount Olympus.

Vampire Addiction Ebook Final

Vampire Addiction is the first book of The Vampires of Athens series, now available for pre-order! 

BUT WAIT! 

 If you subscribe to The Pohler Express: The Official Newsletter for Eva Pohler Books, you will receive a coupon code for a FREE copy. The newsletter will go out on Christmas Eve, so be sure to get your coupon code and order your free book between then and New Year's Day, the day the book releases. 

The link to subscribe is in the rafflecopter giveaway below and is worth five entries into the $50 Amazon gift card giveaway! The winner of the $50 Amazon gift card will be announced at the Facebook Cover Reveal Party on Thursday, December 11th. Join the party here! 

 Please show some love to the other blogs participating in this reveal: