Friday, May 15, 2015

To Ride a White Horse by Pamela Ford (5 stars)

About To Ride a White Horse

• Paperback: 374 pages
• Publisher: Aine Press (January 3, 2015)
“A sweeping historical love story that hits all the marks.” – Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Ireland 1846. The potato crop has failed for the second year in a row and Ireland is in famine. When Kathleen Deacey’s fiancé doesn’t return from a summer working in the Newfoundland fisheries, she faces a devastating choice—leave Ireland to find work or risk dying there. Despising the English for refusing to help Ireland, she crosses the Atlantic, determined to save her family and find her fiancé. 

But her journey doesn’t go as planned and she ends up in America, forced to accept the help of an English whaling captain, Jack Montgomery, to survive. As Jack helps her search for her fiancé and fight to save her family and country, she must confront her own prejudices and make another devastating choice—remain loyal to her country or follow her heart.

A love story inspired by actual events, To Ride a White Horse is a historical saga of hope, loyalty, the strength of the human spirit, and the power of love.

Praise for To Ride a White Horse

Publishers Weekly starred review:  “A sweeping historical love story that hits all the marks … Pacing the plot for maximum tension, Ford skillfully conveys the anguish and fury of not only her heroine, but all the struggling Irish both at home and abroad. She delivers genuine heat by teasing out the passion between her protagonists. Ford has made a deeply satisfying foray into new territory.”


Goodreads First Reads Giveaway winner:  “Overwhelming! Six stars! What a stunning story! Pamela Ford’s book To Ride a White Horse made me go through a series of intense emotions, I cried, hoped, laughed! It’s a breathtaking story of love, hope and courage! I have just discovered a little gem!”


Top 500 Amazon Reviewer, Vine Voice:   “(4.5 stars) Good as this book is as a romance, it’s even better as a historical novel. This is a touching story. Realistic, with some very gritty, some very poignant moments… This is an unexpectedly good novel.”



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Review

It's 1846, and Ireland is suffering from a second potato crop failure. People are starving, and many have left. England has made their stance on helping Ireland clear--help is not coming--and times are desperate. When Kathleen Deacey's fiancé goes missing, she's forced to consider tough options. She heads out to the sea, hoping to find her fiancé and a better life.

Fate intervenes. Although lucky to be alive, she finds herself on Captain Jack Montgomery's ship and on a very different course than she planned. Along the way, her heart also takes a different direction.

I have a soft heart for strong, determined, and flawed female main characters. Kathleen fits that description to a tee. She pushes past her fears to try and find a better life and be true to her family and those she loves. She's a fighter. But she's also stubborn and slow to change, even when it's best for her.

Captain Jack Montgomery is a good man, even if he's gruff and equally stubborn. Once in America, Kathleen discovers the Irish are not respected there and faces even tougher conditions and racism. But she never gives up, no matter how many new obstacles appear on her journey.

Oh, and did I mention there's a sweet romance that grows between them? It's organic--not happening overnight or through a quick passion that then leads to love. Even though they are both struggling against their own notions of life, they are drawn to each other every step of the way. It's endearing.

I highly recommend this book to people who enjoy a historical romance with a sweet romance. It's a quick read that pulls you in from the first page and never loses momentum. A perfect summer read. 

Rating: 5 stars

About Pamela Ford


Pamela FordPamela Ford is the award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance. She grew up watching old movies, blissfully sighing over the romance; and reading sci-fi and adventure novels, vicariously living the action. The combination probably explains why the books she writes are romantic, happily-ever-afters with plenty of fast-paced plot.

After graduating from college with a degree in Advertising, Pam merrily set off to earn a living, searching for that perfect career as she became a graphic designer, print buyer, waitress, pantyhose sales rep, public relations specialist, copywriter, freelance writer – and finally author. Pam has won numerous awards including the Booksellers Best and the Laurel Wreath, and is a two-time Golden Heart Finalist. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and children. 

Find out more about Pamela at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
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 To Ride a White Horse blog tour page.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Officer Elvis by Gary Gusick (4 stars)

About Officer Elvis

On Sale: February 15, 2014
Pages: 224
Published by : Alibi 

In the vein of Harlan Coben and Lisa Gardner, Gary Gusick takes readers on an explosive ride-along with Mississippi detective Darla Cavannah, a Yankee transplant making her name in the Deep South.

After performing at a local old-folks home, off-duty police officer and part-time Elvis impersonator Tommy Reylander smoothes out his pompadour, climbs into his pink Caddy, and gets all shook up—fatally so, when a bomb explodes. Whether he was killed for his police work or bad singing is a mystery that detective Darla Cavannah is determined to solve.

Though it’s been several years since Darla (reluctantly) partnered up with Tommy, she convinces her boss to let her lead the murder investigation. As the new regional director of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, Shelby Mitchell can think of better uses for his star detective’s time, but not even the most hardened good ole boy can resist Darla’s smart, savvy persuasions. She soon embarks on a roller coaster ride through the world of Elvis tribute artists while tracking down one of the most bizarre serial killers in the history of the Magnolia State. Aiding her pursuit of the killer is recently reprimanded officer Rita Gibbons, fresh from the trailer park and described by Shelby as “half a licorice stick short in the manners department.” But Rita’s plenty smart, even when this case takes their suspicious minds in an entirely unexpected direction. .


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Review

Darla Cavannaugh sets out to find the killer of Tommy Reylander, a police officer known as Officer Elvis because he is also a part-time Elvis impersonator (or Elvis tribute artist as they prefer to be called). He loses his life after a show one night. At first, the police department is hesitant to jump in the investigation and wonders if it was a one-time unfortunate event, but then other murders start happening. And all the victims are Elvis tribute artists. 

Now, Darla is on the hunt for a serial killer. What could possibly bet the motivation to kill Elvis many times over?

When I first read the title of this book, I had no idea what to think. Officer Elvis? It started off a little campy, with Officer Elvis performing for a group of senior citizens. But, when the murders started happening, it became a captivating mystery. Best part... the characters are eccentric and memorable. There are no one-dimensional characters here.

I love seeing a woman leading investigations and being sharp and not easily intimidated, so Darla was a joy to read. Even better, her partner is a lady who's trying to make a comeback after some misfortune. Even though there's a lot of wit and charm to the characters, there are some intense and emotional murders made all that more interesting by getting occasional chapters from the murderer's point of view.

What could have been a hokey Elvis story, ends up being a murder mystery full of twists and turns and loaded with characters you won't forget. All in all, a fast read that will keep your attention, engage your emotions, and keep you guessing.

Rating: 4 stars

About Gary M. Gusick 

Gary Gusick Author PhotoGary Gusick is the author of The Last Clinic. A former advertising executive with more than thirty years experience as a copywriter and creative director, Gusick has won numerous national and international awards for creative excellence in advertising.


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 Officer Elvis blog tour page.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Match for Marcus Cynster by Stephanie Laurens Excerpt Tour

Welcome to the third stop on the excerpt tour for A Match For Marcus Cynster by Stephanie Laurens. Below you will find the third of 16 excerpts from the book.  Make sure to check out this page for links to the rest of the tour stops!  

Don't forget to check out the giveaway below.



Excerpt #3


Phelps was a sheep farmer; he and his son, Matt, always carried ropes on their saddles, as did Sean.
In a group, they walked to the ledge. They peered into the crevasse, but small bushes and grasses sprouting from the rock walls made it impossible to see what lay in the shadowed depths.

The opposite lip of the crevasse was lower than the ledge, but was flanked by scree; circling around to it wasn’t an option. But the crevasse was very narrow, a gaping wound ripped in the side of the hill and lined with rock as far down as they could see; there was no way to walk in and no path down.

Phelps, Matt, and Sean laid out the ropes. The other men organized themselves into teams to lower Sean and Matt into the crevasse. Her arms tightly folded, her mind blank, Niniver watched as the pair went over the edge, each on separate ropes, with a third rope dangling between them.

As they descended into the shadows, she walked to the edge; she looked down, watching, but the bushes soon obscured her view.

She turned her attention to the ropes. The men slowly let the ropes play out—and out; the crevasse was deeper than any of them had thought. At last, the tension on the ropes eased as first Sean, then Matt, reached a point where they could stand.

A moment later, a yelping exclamation—both Sean’s and Matt’s voices raised in surprise—erupted from the depths. Peering down, Niniver frowned. Sean and Matt had known what to expect, so why had they sounded shocked?

“What did they say?” Ferguson called from where he waited with the other men to haul the pair up again.

Still frowning, she shook her head. “I don’t know. The rock distorts their voices too much. They’re talking now, but I can’t make out what they’re saying.”

The third rope—the one Sean and Matt had planned to tie around Nolan’s body—shifted. Phelps came to stand beside Niniver, but he, too, could make nothing of the mutterings rising from below.

Then Sean tugged on his rope, and Matt tugged his. Phelps rejoined the other men, and they hauled the pair up.

Sean reached the ledge first. His weathered, normally ruddy countenance was chalk-white.

“What is it?” Niniver demanded as he scrambled onto the ledge.

Sean pushed to his feet. “We found Nolan’s body. He’s dead—neck broken, among other things—just as we expected.” He glanced at Matt as the younger man scrambled up to stand beside him.

Matt, too, looked badly shaken.

Sean turned to Niniver. He hesitated for a second, then blurted, “Nolan’s body was lying on top of another body. Nigel’s body was already there—Nolan flung himself down in the same place.”

Niniver blinked. Her mind whirled. “Nigel flung himself off this ledge, too?” She couldn’t imagine that, not of Nigel, but she hadn’t expected Nolan to kill himself, either.

Looking grimmer by the second, Sean shook his head. “Nigel landed on his back, and Nolan’s hunting knife, the one he said he lost last year, was buried between Nigel’s ribs.”
She felt her mouth fall open, then her mind whirled one last time, and like a kaleidoscope, all the pieces fell into place. “Ah.”

The quiet sound—of recognition, of realization—was drowned beneath the men’s shocked exclamations.

She looked around the group. Unlike the others, she wasn’t surprised.
Indeed, just the opposite. Finally, everything was starting to make sense.




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Stephanie Laurens author photoAbout Stephanie Laurens 

New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens originally began writing as an escape from the dry world of professional science. Her hobby quickly became a career; she has been writing historical romance novels for more than 20 years. Currently living outside Melbourne, Australia with her husband and two cats, she spends most of her days writing new stories in her signature ‘Errol Flynn meets Jane Austen” style. 


Connect with Stephanie 

Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Please visit the other stops on the A Match for Marcus Cynster blog tour page to read more exciting excerpts.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Rising Trilogy by Amy Miles Release Day

iBooks: http://apple.co/1E6pz69
B&N: http://bit.ly/1A03LW6
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/1GvFGxK
The Rising Trilogy box set featuring full length novels: 
Defiance Rising, Relinquish and Vengeance

Defiance Rising:

Illyria has never known a life without the Rebellion. 
Instinct. 
Survival. 
Nothing else matters…until she ventures out into unknown territory and is faced with an enemy that proves even more fierce and determined than she ever thought. 

Bastien is infuriating, dangerous and annoyingly gorgeous. Eamon is familiar, comforting and turning into a man before her eyes. Both want her heart...but she is torn between duty and desire. When her choice affects all of mankind, how can she allow herself to be selfish? 
There is a power within her that can change everyone’s fate…but she underestimated the most potent force on Earth—love. Illyria must discover if she has the strength to sacrifice her heart to save mankind 

Relinquish:

The rising is over, but the war continues to rage. King Aloysius knows Illyria exists and will stop at nothing to possess her. Jealousy drives a wedge between Illyria and Eamon. When Bastien reveals himself as her guide into enemy territory, an ambush lands them in captivity. Illyria is faced with the truth that she is not ready to face her destiny…or let Bastien go again.

Vengeance:

Even though memories may be altered, a heart can never forget its true love. 
Peace has come to Calisted under Illyria’s new reign as Queen. Volunteers return to Earth to help its people begin to rebuild. With her new husband at her side, Illyria has many things to celebrate and yet she worries that this time of peace is only fleeting. 
Dreams of a man with piercing sapphire blue eyes haunt Illyria nightly and she can’t shake the feeling that she knows this stranger, or worse...that he knows her too. 
When an attack on the palace leaves her imprisoned on a distant planet, Illyria must discover a strength within herself to survive, but she’s not fighting just for herself any more. This time mercy is not an option. All Illyria cares about is vengeance.

Author Amy Miles has always been a bit of a dreamer. Growing up as an only child, and a military brat to boot, she spent countless hours escaping into the pages of a book, only to spend the following days creating a new idea of how to twist up the story to make it unique.

Since becoming a mother, Amy has slowly nourished her love of the written word while snatching writing time in the midst of soiled diapers, tumbling over legos and peering around mounds of laundry and dishes that never seem to go away. Once her only son started school, Amy was free to let her fingers dive into dark mythology, tales of betrayal and love, and explore human nature in its rawest form. Her love of seeing the world from a different angle bloomed.

Amy is the author of several novels, including her popular young adult immortal books, The Arotas Series, which are an Amazon and iBooks bestselling series. Unwilling to be defined by any one genre, she proceeded to flip over to a science fiction/fantasy based idea with her Rising Trilogy. She then dove into contemporary romance with her novel, Captivate and explored the depths of her own faith with In Your Embrace.
Join her at www.AmyMilesBooks.com
Follow on Twitter: @AmyMilesBooks
Instagram: Amy Miles Books
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Our Penned Con team is so very excited to add a TEEN DAY this year. We want to be able to encourage and inspire up and coming authors. If you are bringing a teen with you please make sure you plan to come on Thursday for a day of fun, learning and a private book signing with our attending YA authors just for the teens!
Tickets are $10 and includes lunch and a swag bag.
We only have room for 100 teens so PLEASE make sure you grab your spot now. We are contacting local schools next week with an open invite and don't want you to miss out!


To purchase your event tickets please go to :http://bit.ly/PennedCon2015tickets


SCHEDULE
9-10 registration

10-10:45 opening and ice breaker game
11-12 Workshop: So you want to be an author? Learn the steps to take from today’s successful Young Adult authors on how to transition from scribbled handwriting in a notebook to a published work. Learn insider tips to book signings, author meet & greets and fandom.
12-1 lunch
1-2 Workshop: Trends. Are they a thing or just a guideline? How to determine what genre your story fits into and whether or not you should go with the flow or do your own thing.
2:15-3 Panel Open Q&A from New York Times/USA Today best selling authors Colleen Hoover, Denise Grover Swank, Chanda Hahn and LP Dover
3-4 Books to Movies How to go from landing an agent to getting your book on the Big Screen and all of the steps in between.
4-6 Private Book Signing (Open to come and go as you please)

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Accidental Pilgrim by Stephen Kitsakos (3.5 stars)

About The Accidental Pilgrim

Publisher: ASD Publishing

In the summer of 1974, Dr. Rose Strongin, a marine biologist, inexplicably disappears for three hours on the last day of an archaeological dig at the Sea of Galilee. She has no memory of the disappearance, but it causes her to miss her flight home from Israel. That plane, TWA 841, explodes over the Mediterranean killing all aboard. Twelve years later she learns that a 2,000 year-old perfectly preserved vessel, dubbed the “Jesus Boat,” is uncovered at the site of her disappearance and she begins to understand what happened and why.

The novel crosses several decades exploring the intersection of science, religion and the unexplainable as a family gathers to say goodbye to the matriarch who held a family secret.


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Review

Dr. Rose Strongin has a brilliant scientific mind. After a strange occurrence, she suffers a memory lapse and her family struggles with her changing personality. Then, she's gone. Her husband, two daughters, and son come together to carry out her last wishes. 

This story is such a journey. Early on, it's clear this family has struggled with things beyond their control and understanding. Through flashbacks and multiple points of view, the reader begins to find out what happened to Rose. With each chapter, the mystery grows and my connection to Rose as a character deepened.

Although I found the story interesting, it took me a while to get into it. There's a lot of transition and it was hard to follow at times, particularly in the beginning when I was still getting used to the characters' voices. 

However, when the story picks up momentum, it's an emotional and climactic ride to the surprising finish. With a mix of science, spirituality, and religion, it's sure to make you think.  What started as a 3-star read was a solid 4-star by the end. 

Rating: 3.5 stars

About Stephen Kitsakos 


Stephen Kitsakos is a theatre writer and journalist as well as the author of three opera librettos. His current project is the opera adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s international bestseller, A Thousand Splendid Suns with music by Sheila Silver. Other works include the Sackler-Prize award winning “The Wooden Sword” and “The White Rooster: A Tale of Compassion” for the Smithsonian Institution. His work often explores the connection between religion and art. He divides his time between Key West and New York. 

Find out more about Stephen at his website, and follow him on Twitter.
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 Accidental Pilgrim blog tour page.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Matriarch by Shauna Kelley (5 stars)

About Matriarch
Vetala Chronicles, Book 2
(from Goodreads)

Lenora Scheid finally seemed to have built a life for herself. After more than a century of traveling the earth to visit scenes of the dead and dying, life was finally beginning… 

At long last, she discovered that she was Vetala, a member of a secret race of not-exactly-vampires but not-quite humans. She saved Michael, her naliyah and soul mate, from her father, a man bent on the destruction of humanity. She reunited with her mother, a woman she hadn't seen in more than a century. 

But Lenora’s idyllic peace lasts only a moment as she realizes that her time with Michael has left him fighting for his life. To save him, she must square off against her father and the Matriarch, an ancient organizations that rules over her kind. The quest to save Michael seems to uncover more secrets than answers. 

With her mother and some new friends by her side, Lenora learns more about what it means to be Vetala, and what it is going to take to save her family, and humanity, from the man who raised her. 


Review

Poor Lenora. After everything she went through in book one (see link to my review below), her life only gets more complicated. She must determine who to trust, and nothing is simple. Even her love for Michael, her naliyah and soul mate.

In a race to save Michael's life, she must travel the world and ultimately face her father. Just as important, she must figure out who's telling the truth... or at least, which truth will save them.

LOVE this book. Too many times, a second book is filler in a series, or worse, a letdown. This is neither. Instead, it's a fast-paced, series-building, didn't-see-it-coming adventure. But it's not just action. There's a lot of emotion and mind-play. Lenora is torn in so many directions, especially with Michael. During one highly emotional scene between the two loves, I cried from the raw intensity of it. 

Most of all, I love Lenora as a character. She's determined, yet has a huge heart. Sometimes the heroine is strong until it comes to a relationship, and then she's a big pile of goo. Not Lenora. She loves intensely, but she's not going to do it one-sided. And I adore that about her.

Plus, this series is a truly unique paranormal story with a memorable character you'll love to root for. I highly recommend!

Rating: 5 stars

Check out my 5-star review of Book 1, Naliyah, here.

About the Author
(from Amazon Author Central)

Shauna Kelley lives near Baltimore, Maryland with her husband and beloved mutts. Dedicated aunt, adventurous baker, and action movie fanatic, she spends her days writing, teaching, and crocheting.

Kelley's first novel, Max and Menna, was a ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award finalist for Young Adult Fiction in 2010. Naliyah is her third novel.

Kelley delights in the opportunity to interact with readers. Find her online at her blog or on Facebook.

Note: I was a beta reader for this novel (lucky me!). A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Threshold by GM Ford (4 stars)

About Threshold

Paperback: 254 pages

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (April 21, 2015)

Acclaimed for his best-selling books featuring P.I. Leo Waterman, Ford introduces readers to a new, yet equally unorthodox hero in THRESHOLD: embattled Detective Sergeant Mickey Dolan. 


Still smarting from the very public breakup of his marriage and facing conduct complaints for use of excessive force, Dolan is at the end of his rope – and possibly at the end of his career – when he catches a case that just might turn things around: the disappearance of the wife and daughters of a powerful city councilman. Assisted by a remarkable young woman who may know the terrible truth about the missing family, Dolan soon finds he must choose between helping his career and protecting innocent lives. 

A suspenseful police thriller about a not-so-good cop given the opportunity to do the right – and most difficult – thing, THRESHOLD is a new chapter for G.M. Ford that is sure to satisfy fans of his Waterman and Frank Corso stories and new readers alike.


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Review


Detective Sergeant Mickey Dolan is already on thin ice when he find himself at the center of a case that will only make his life tougher. A powerful city councilman's family is missing, and he wants them found. Unfortunately, they don't want to be found.


In addition, there's Grace, a woman with a special gift, who's also tied to the investigation. She has her own burdens to bear.

I'll admit... in the beginning, I needed a notebook to keep up with all the elements of this story. At first, Mickey's story seemed completely separate from Grace's story. Her character, and her gift, are what drew me in. Thankfully, about one-third of the way through, the rest of the storyline picked up and started to come together. By the end, I understood and appreciated the arc.

Since this story was presented as a mystery and suspense thriller, I was confused by the real story... an emotional saga about doing what's right when faced with moral issues. Yet, that's the very thing that made me like the story. If you are looking for an intriguing who-done-it, look elsewhere. However, if you appreciate a thought-provoking story about when to stand up for what you believe in, then you'll enjoy Threshold.

Note: If my review seems vague, it's meant to be. Since the author chose to leave out many elements of the story from the blurb, it seemed only right to not divulge those storylines in my review.


Rating: 4 stars


About G. M. Ford 


G.M. Ford broke onto the mystery scene with Who in Hell is Wanda Fuca?, a gin-soaked tome featuring Seattle private investigator Leo Waterman. The six-book Leo Waterman series was nominated for several awards, including the Shamus, the Anthony, and the Lefty. In 2001, Ford launched a new series featuring disgraced reporter Frank Corso and his goth assistant, Meg Dougherty. In 2011, after a twelve-year hiatus, he decided to write a new Leo Waterman novel, Thicker Than Water, which Thomas & Mercer promptly bought. His eighth Leo Waterman book, Chump Change, followed in 2014. Ford lives and works in Seattle, and is married to the beautiful and talented mystery author Skye Kathleen Moody.
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 Threshold blog tour page.