Thursday, July 24, 2014

Apologies

Due to ongoing, stubborn health issues, I will have to postpone my reviews for a few weeks. My sincere apologies to my readers, and to the authors whose books are scheduled for review. I will return as soon as possible. My best regards to everyone.
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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Promoting 'Courteous Canines: Practical Dog Training for the Rest of Us' by Mike Dufort

Today I have the great pleasure of promoting a dog training book written by no other than the sensational, fabulous, the one and only, Mike Dufort, my dear husband. Let me start by showing him off. Isn't he the most gorgeous man on the planet? Of course he is! Just look at the cool Revo sunglasses he's sporting, at the sexy day's worth of stubble, and you will definitely think that I'm the luckiest woman on earth. And you know what? I am, without a shadow of a doubt.
 
 
But let's not wander from the main issue, which is, of course, my dear husband's book. It is called, as you certainly know it from the title of this post, 'Courteous Canines: Practical Dog Training for the Rest of Us.' Here's the cover:


May I begin by saying that a good chunk of the book is free for download today on Amazon, courtesy of the author. The link to the free sample can be found HERE.

But what is the book about? Are you struggling to teach your dog how to obey your commands, to stop chewing on your favorite belongings, to behave when interacting with your guests? Or maybe your dog is taking YOU for a walk, instead of the other way around? The answers to these questions - and much more - can be found in this humorous, fun and informative book that is packed with common sense advice and practical solutions, presented in easy-to-read, bite-sized sections.
 
Here is my review of the book, and you can't say that I am biased, because I reviewed the book when I was in Australia, at the other end of the world, within days of starting to communicate with Mike, when we barely knew each other. Cross my heart!
 
I had the privilege to read an advance copy of this book, and I must say I am very impressed. As a dog owner, I came across many challenges, even though my dog has always been an amazing, well behaved pet. As I read Mike Dufort's book, I recognized my dog's behavior in his thorough description, and found abundant common sense advice about how to deal with all challenges. 'Courteous Canines' is brimming with precious information that will make a dog owner's life so much easier. it is beautifully structured, very logical, easy to read, and as a bonus, it is sooooo fun. I also loved the dog quotes that are scattered all over the book. Clearly, Mike Dufort is an animal lover, and his passion oozes out of every page of this fantastic book. 'Courteous Canines' is a cornucopia of excellent advice, a must read and definitely a keeper. Highly recommended!
 
And here are two other reviews that were posted on Goodreads by other readers:
 
I have just finished reading Mike Dufort's book. I was very pleased with the detailed advice, and I believe that it is very useful. Simple tricks to deal with my dog's unwanted behaviour, and to overcome all challenges. From information about how to welcome the new pup into the family, how to stop him from chewing, jumping on people, barking unnecessarily, to useful nutrition recommendations, use of collars and so on, this book contains the most comprehensive and well described advice that I ever came across. I highly recommend this book to all dog lovers. MaggieD
 
I was absolutely thrilled to find so much useful, common sense advice compiled in one book. The information is extremely helpful and very well presented, in an easy to understand and fun manner. This one is a keeper! Jeanne Parkley   
 
The entire book can be purchased on Amazon in Kindle format for $2.99. This is just a fraction of the price that you would normally pay for a dog training book, so what are you waiting for? Click HERE for the purchase link. Enjoy!
 
And yes, I love you, Mike. More than anything. Unconditionally. Forever and beyond.
 
 
 
 
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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Review of 'The Katydid Effect' by Edward R Hackemer

A e-copy of the novel was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.
This is the third of Edward’s books that I am reading, and I must admit that I am getting addicted to his writing. It is so enticing and fluent, I just can’t seem to be able to walk away from the computer once I get started. As I said before, Edward has a way with words. His writing is not seamless, nor very strong, yet it has an appeal that just keeps me glued to the pages. It is melodious, elegant, maintaining a beautiful balance between sophistication and simplicity.
The ‘Katydid Effect’ follows the lives of Maryanne and Alexander Throckmorton. After meeting by chance at a roadside diner in Appleton, Wisconsin, in 1954, they fell in love and got married.  They traveled to their new home in Pensacola, Florida. This is a story that spans over 13 years, during which the two are confronted by secrets from the past and problems of the present, and their love and trust of one another is tested.
I have certainly said it before, and I will say it once again - Edward’s attention to detail may please some and may annoy others. His descriptions are very intricate, which at times is helpful, but more often than not unnecessary, distracting the reader from the main story. I did enjoy, however, the cornucopia of words used therein, and I can only commend the amount of research performed by the author. Beware, however, of the repetition. Too many words were repeated over and over again, to the point that they became noticeable. Using a good editor and/or a proof reader is always a good idea, as it brings a fresh perspective on the final draft.
Once again, I find that the authenticity of the era was wonderfully preserved. Congratulations on that, Edward!
Just like Edward’s previous novels, the ‘Katydid Effect’ is not a heart-pumping story; it is a relaxing read that fits beautifully the time period it describes, it is well written and definitely deserves your attention. Highly recommended!
I also wish to thank the author for sending me the wonderful soundtracks that provided me with hours and hours of bliss. Great choice of music for the novels!
Edward’s novel can be purchased on Amazon in both hard copy and Ebook format. Click HERE to access the purchase link.
COMING SOON
'Port Honor' by T.S Dawson
 

 

 
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Review of 'Harper's Wish' by Krista Ames

I received an e-copy of this novella from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

It is hard to write an elaborate opinion when the story is a little over 40 pages in length. To start with, the author barely has any time to develop the characters, and, in truth, it is the hardest job to make them believable in such a short amount of writing. So I can only praise Krista Ames for achieving just that.
Harper Donaldson, a twenty four year old postmistress in a small Montana town, has never known a happy Christmas in the midst of a happy family, as she was orphaned at a young age. So all she wants for Christmas this year is to have a family. Yet she does not believe in Santa, nor in the mystery Santa’s  mailbox that has appeared in the lobby of the post office. Given the fact that the novella is so short, any further details would be spoilers, so I will stop here.
What I will add though, is that this short story, although not strongly written, is a sweet, touching read that will make you smile. As you keep reading, you will have the certainty that there will be a perfectly happy ending, like in every Santa book, and you will turn the last page brimming with satisfaction, and wishing for that Santa’s mailbox to appear at your local post office.
Krista's novella can be purchased on Amazon in Kindle format. Click HERE for the purchase link.
 
COMING SOON
REVIEW OF 'The Katydid Effect' by Edward R Hackemer
 
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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Review of 'Old Flame' by Annabelle Blume

A review copy was provided by the author in return for an honest review.
 
Hannah has been obsessed with James ever since they broke up. She just cannot let go. So she secretly spies on him, alters her own schedule hoping to meet him face to face once again. She doesn’t. Instead, she meets gorgeous waiter Marc while dining with her friend Annie at Pecorino’s. Marc feels an instant attraction towards Hannah and asks for her phone number. She gives it to him, thinking that he might hook him up with Annie later on. But that’s not how things will work out in the end.
Annabelle Blume has written a very short novella. It is so short, indeed, there was no time to develop the characters at all, hence the concept of love seems to be misplaced. While real love comes from long companionship and persevering courtship, it can also be born in a moment, and it will be just as strong and lost lasting as the former if certain criteria are met. But that’s not the point that Annabelle failed to make in her story. I felt all along that she rushed the characters’ relationship, and maneuvered them towards a premature ending.  She painted a canvas in front of the reader’s eyes, pointing at her every stroke, explaining her technique, instead of showing the magic of the final product and letting the reader discover its secrets.
I also found that by the end of the story I couldn’t figure out what Hannah really wanted, or if she really knew what she wanted, even though the author listed the heroine’s inner thoughts about her past life as opposed to her new existence.
What also distracted me was the repeated occurrence of typos and syntax errors. Where on earth were the editor and proof reader?
Having said all that, Annabelle’s novella does deserve your attention. It is well written, sweet, and it depicts feelings that are so familiar to many of us. We have all been through deception, suffering, we all had a broken heart, and most of us found it hard to let go. Annabelle has a gift at capturing all these feelings, and the female behavioral response to an emotional loss. I commend her for that.
Old flame’ is a pleasant read that I would not hesitate to recommend.  
 
Annabelle's novella can be purchased on Amazon in Kindle format. Click HERE for the purchase link.
 
COMING SOON
REVIEW OF Harper's Wish by Krista Ames
 
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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Review of 'Love's sorrow' by Terri Rochenski


A review copy was provided by the author in return for an honest review.
May I begin by apologizing to the author for the extended delay in finalizing this review. I wasn’t very well lately, and this is likely to impact my reading speed over the next few weeks as well, but please bear with me, I’m getting there.
I must say I am rarely so impressed with a novel. Terry, thumbs up! This is a great book, and I am giving it four and a half stars. There were a couple of reasons I didn’t go up to five. Perhaps I should start with them, and get the cons out of the way.
What bothered me was the certainty that I had all along that there was something wrong with Gavin MacKay. The author  showed her presence, albeit unwittingly, by presenting a main character who was suspicious from the beginning.
The author’s presence was noticeable throughout the book as she kept telling the reader things that she should have inconspicuously showed (as per the famous writing rule I keep quoting in my reviews.) I agree that sometimes this is not possible when writing a book  from a first person point of view, but I feel that there were many instances in the novel where Terri could have better used her writing skills.
Other than that, I can only praise ‘Love’s sorrow’ at every level. Beautifully written, authentic, it drew me in like a magnet and I just couldn’t put it down. One of those rare page-turners with well-developed characters, great attention to detail that provides an amazing sense of time and place, but most importantly an amazing, heartrending story for which I can only commend the author. I am glad that this is the beginning of a series, and I beg Terri to come back to me with the next instalment.
I apologize that this review is not more elaborate, but since I have no criticism to add, I see no reason to extend it.
Congratulations, Terri!
 
Terri’s novel can be purchased on Amazon in both hard copy and Ebook format. Click HERE to access the purchase link.
COMING SOON
Review of Old flame by Annabelle Blume
 
 
 

 
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Friday, May 16, 2014

Announcement

Due to persisting health issues, I am forced to postpone reviews for a little while. I hope to be back on track by the end of next week. I sincerely apologise to my readers, and to the authors whose books were scheduled for review this week.
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Monday, May 12, 2014

Review of 'A bridge to cross' by Edward R Hackemer

A review copy was provided by the author in return for an honest review. 
I recently read and reviewed ‘In A Cream Packard’ by the same author. In spite of my lengthy criticism of that novel, the author did not back down, instead requesting reviews of two other books that he wrote. Few authors take criticism well, and I truly appreciate Edward in this regard.
A bridge to cross’ has stirred my interest for several reasons. To start with, I was very curious to see how Edward’s writing has evolved. I was not disappointed.
The pros:
The expression is very pleasant, polished and highly educated; characteristics that are magnets to me when it comes to picking my readings.
I paid particular attention to the way the author depicted the late 1920s. A wonderful sense of authenticity was present all along. Few authors have the ability to capture time and place in their novels, and I must say that Edward masters it beautifully. Just like with my previous read, I could picture this novel successfully turned into a black and white movie (if this were possible nowadays).
I also appreciated the author’s thoughtful decision to add notes and a glossary of the 1920s slang at the end of the book.
The cons:
I feel I must repeat a comment made in my review of ‘In A Cream Packard.’ Although beautiful, the depiction of things and places is excessive, providing details that are often unnecessary and irrelevant. Edward may argue that they contribute to the sense of authenticity, but they are, in my view, unnecessarily elaborate. A good book is one that draws the reader in; one in which the author’s presence is barely noticeable, if at all. A writer’s first rule is ‘Show, don’t tell.’ This technique enables the reader to experience the story through action, words, thoughts, senses and feelings rather than through the author's exposition, summarization, and description. Ernest Hemingway has depicted it as ‘the Iceberg Theory,’ from which I quote what I believe to be the relevant phrase: ‘The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.’ It speaks for itself.
A relevant example of the author’s departure from the above theory in ‘A bridge to cross’ is his description of the main characters. He tells the reader all about them in a few condensed paragraphs at the beginning of the book. I was disappointed to read all that was to be known about the characters, instead of seeing them fleshed out throughout the book. It felt as if there was nothing to discover or to explore about them after that.
Conclusion:
Although this novel has its shortcomings and fails to send my heart into an excited throb, it was a pleasant and relaxed read that I would certainly recommend to every lover of the 1920’s era, the dynamism of which is beautifully depicted therein. A great read sprinkled with some surprises, more energetic than ‘In a Cream Packard’, more daring too as far as romanticism and intimate scenes are concerned. 


Edward’s novel can be purchased on Amazon in both hard copy and Ebook format. Click HERE to access the purchase link.

COMING SOON
Review of Love's sorrow by Terry Rochenski


 



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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Review of ‘The siren’s secret’ by Debbie Herbert

A review copy was provided by the author in return for an honest review. Due to personal commitments, it took me much longer than expected to read this book and to complete my review. I apologize to the author for that.
 
I must say that ‘The siren’s secret’ intrigued me. I never read a mermaid book before, and I was tempted to think that I will come across a bedtime tale rewritten to accommodate the reading tastes of an adult audience. Instead, I came across a complex plot that blends together romance, crime, social and family issues, all presented with a surprising normality, considering that the main character is not our everyday heroine. She’s a modern day woman with a real job, but a mermaid nonetheless, a marine creature with the head, torso, and arms of a woman and the tail of a fish.
The pros:
Debbie Herbert managed to combine a thriller, a romance and the paranormal element and make them look like our day-to-day life.
The romance is intense at times (graphic scenes alert!), but as opposed to other books that I read, it is not an unrealistic fairy tale. It contains all plausible elements of a love story: initial flame, emotions, conflict, heartache, trials, intimacy and so on.
The author managed to capture really well the family issues that tormented the households of the main characters. Quite complex situations involving painful truths, challenges, feuds between characters, reconciliation etc.
The description of the villain and his actions is just as intricate. We don’t only learn about his crimes, but we see inside his head, how he thinks, what prompted him to turn into the man he is today.
I also loved how the author captured life in the Alabama Bayou. It gave me a sense of authenticity, making me feel that I was actually walking along the town streets. It is great to read a story that gives a sense of time and place, and this novel achieved just that.
The cons:
Although I much appreciated the down-to-earth side of the romance story, I thought that it started too abruptly, only to go back to normality as I kept reading. Having said that, I disagree with other reviews that I read about this book. Some readers were disappointed with the relationship’s failure to really spark, but I truly think that the author managed to capture very well the initial intensity that characterizes the beginnings of a flame, then went on to describe what most people go through in their love life: setbacks and disappointments, mistrust, resilience and, ultimately, endurance.
I thought, however, that the characters failed to properly develop throughout the book, which probably prompted some readers to question the realism and depth of this love story. I felt that Tillman was too much of a contradiction, his reactions quite erratic, confusing and often unjustified, as it was his rudeness and professionalism. He is not a well-defined individual, which is a shame, considering his status as a main character. I cannot say that Shelly was really fleshed out either, but the author’s consistency in describing the differences between her and the two other mermaids (her cousins) created a feel of character authenticity, which ultimately saved the day.
I also have a problem with the clich├ęd life story of the villain. The typical childhood issues that turned him into a criminal would more rightfully belong to a newspaper clipping that summarizes a series of murders. I felt that the author failed to use her imagination, offering a trite, hackneyed scenario instead.
Tillman’s mother and brother are unnecessarily predominant in the book, and fail to contribute to fleshing him out. While some of the scenes involving them are clearly needed to move the plot forward, I thought that some other were there just to provide filling.
As opposed to the rest of the book, the ending is disappointingly slow, and I could see it coming from a mile.
Conclusion:
I have mixed feelings about this book. The writing and the dialogues aren’t as strong as they should be, there are pros and cons as described above, but overall I think that this is a very interesting and pleasant read, as it blends really well many potent elements. Without being an adrenaline pumper, this novel is quite attractive, and I would recommend it to all lovers of unusual paranormal.
 
Debbie’s novel can be purchased on Amazon in Ebook format. Click HERE to access the purchase link.
 
COMING SOON
 
Review of A Bridge to Cross
by Edward R Hackemer
 
 
 

 
 
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Thursday, April 24, 2014

'MINDBENDER BOOK ONE' giveaway

CLICK HERE


For your chance to win one of THREE copies of Lillian Summers' paranormal romance novel 'Mindbender Book One'. 
Winners will be announced on May 1st, 2014.
 
 

They call him MB1. The mindbender. Jason Asbury has the ability to turn people into his puppets with the power of his mind. He is NSA’s most treasured asset, until he escapes a top secret facility at age fourteen. Twelve years later, he has achieved everything a man could want, except for lasting love. But Jason’s past comes to haunt him, as a mystery man employs burglar Ally Brown to steal his personal diaries. The theft was an easy job for Ally, or it should have been. She now finds herself caught between the man she stole from and the one who hired her. But which one turns out to be the most dangerous to her?
 
Read more about the novel HERE.
 
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