Thursday, December 11, 2014

Michael J. Bowler - Once Upon a Time in America - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

With Lance leading the way, the Knights of the Round Table have set out to convince the American people that amending the Constitution to protect children is right and just and long overdue. As the team travels from state to state, they are met with acceptance, indifference, and even hostility. But Lance’s popularity and mystique as The Boy Who Came Back, coupled with his innate charm, gradually sway more and more of the populace, not to mention state legislators, to their cause.

The journey becomes a rite of passage that propels the young people into adulthood, and solidifies Lance’s status as an iconic and influential figure.

But he’s uneasy. He knows Arthur is hiding something from him, something that will bring him great sadness. After The Excalibur Incident in Las Vegas, Lance becomes more and more certain that the future is one he won’t like, despite his stunning success at winning over some of the most intractable states.

Then comes the attack, sudden and brutal.

Now the Round Table is in disarray, and Lance must confront a cold-blooded killer who’s luring him into an obvious trap. But if he refuses the challenge, more loved ones will die, and everything he’s fought for will die with them. Surrounded by the diverse young knights who have become his family, Lance sets out to battle his enemy with the knowledge deep in his heart that only one of them will survive. Is this the end of the Round Table?

The Knight Cycle concludes…


My Review

The knights of the Round Table hop aboard a bus and travel across the country in Michael J. Bowler's rip-roaring conclusion to his CHILDREN OF THE KNIGHT series. In ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, they are on a quest to get the Children's Bill of Rights through Congress, but to do that, they're gonna need the backing of three-fourths of the House and Senate. So they hit state capital after state capital from sea to shining sea, and even though the rotundas all start to look the same, the peaceful beauty of nature is what really blows these city boys away.

They leave the smog of L.A. far behind and go where the air is blue and clean during the day and filled with a canopy of stars at night. They're not used to the sound of silence, coming from the hustle and bustle of urban life, but they quickly adjust to the tranquility that surrounds them. After gazing at the Grand Canyon, Ricky teases Lance, "I finally found something more beautiful than you."

But not all of their stops are majestic and awe-inspiring. When they visit the reservations of the Native Knights, Kai and Dakota, they're shocked that the deplorable living conditions are even worse than back home in South Central. These ghetto hardened warriors can't believe the intense poverty that Kai and Dakota's people have to endure. On Dakota's reservation alone, sixty-one percent of children live below poverty level and the life expectancy for men is forty-eight.

A really touching moment occurs here when Dakota goes home to visit his handicapped brother who he's responsible for injuring and confining to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. At the time, Dakota was drunk and didn't know what he was doing, and he's been living with the guilt ever since. His mother basically disowned him after it happened, and it's his first time back after he ran away and joined Arthur's band of knights. His brother is a picture of his forgiveness, but his mom is quick to hold a grudge. For me, this scene was a standout for the layers of emotion that rang true.

But it's not all doom and gloom in the Badlands, as the Native Knights journey via horseback to camp out amid the amazing natural rock formations. It's not until they visit Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota that they're again reminded of the white man's oppressive influence on their lives. But Ricky cuts through the tension, joking to Lance, "What say we petition Congress to put your face up there? At least then one of them would be beautiful."

When the group arrives in Las Vegas, Lance's heart is heavy because it proves to be everything he suspected—"loud, crowded, busy, glitzy, glamorous, and sleazy—everything he hated." Lance has had an aversion to crowds from a young age, believing that everyone who looks at him can see his deepest, darkest secrets, triggering his inner sense of worthlessness. His fame has only increased his aversion to crowds and "big places." So it's not surprising when a feeling of dread overwhelms him when he steps inside the Excalibur Hotel and Casino. Something happens here that changes the course of the entire series. A dramatic event throws their trip into peril, but it's not until the final chapter of the book that the full weight of what happens here is revealed.

Because it turns out that King Arthur's final destination isn't a place found on any map, it's a place where his knights may not be able to follow.

***

Once Upon a Time in America can be purchased at:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Prices/Formats: $4.99 ebook, $14.95 paperback
Pages: 328
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Release: November 12, 2014
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9780990871101
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of seven novels––A Boy and His Dragon, A Matter of Time (Silver Medalist from Reader’s Favorite), and The Knight Cycle, comprised of five books: Children of the Knight (Gold Award Winner in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards), Running Through A Dark Place, There Is No Fear, And The Children Shall Lead, and Once Upon A Time In America.

His horror screenplay, “Healer,” was a Semi-Finalist, and his urban fantasy script, “Like A Hero,” was a Finalist in the Shriekfest Film Festival and Screenplay Competition.

He grew up in San Rafael, California, and majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara University. He went on to earn a master’s in film production from Loyola Marymount University, a teaching credential in English from LMU, and another master's in Special Education from Cal State University Dominguez Hills.

He partnered with two friends as producer, writer, and/or director on several ultra-low-budget horror films, including “Fatal Images,” “Club Dead,” and “Things II,” the reviews of which are much more fun than the actual movies.

He taught high school in Hawthorne, California for twenty-five years, both in general education and to students with learning disabilities, in subjects ranging from English and Strength Training to Algebra, Biology, and Yearbook.

He has also been a volunteer Big Brother to eight different boys with the Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a thirty-year volunteer within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles. He is a passionate advocate for the fair treatment of children and teens in California, something that is sorely lacking in this state.

He has been honored as Probation Volunteer of the Year, YMCA Volunteer of the Year, California Big Brother of the Year, and 2000 National Big Brother of the Year. The “National” honor allowed he and three of his Little Brothers to visit the White House and meet the president in the Oval Office.

He is currently at work on a horror/suspense novel based on his screenplay, “Healer.”

Links to connect with Michael:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog
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Instagram
Blog Tour Site


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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cristelle Comby - Danse Macabre - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Private investigators Alexandra Neve and Ashford Egan are hired to succeed where the police have failed, to safely return home a missing ballerina. With no lead to pursue and no idea who could be behind the young woman’s kidnapping, they soon find themselves at a loss as to what to do.

To make matters worse, the heart of England seems to be caught in the middle of a little Ice Age. With snow endlessly falling and Tube lines either too cramped up to use or out of service, it is a pain to do any legwork in the huge metropolis.

Oh, and because trouble never comes alone, there may also be a serial killer on the loose in the streets of East London...


My Review

London, a few weeks before Christmas, and there's a serial killer on the loose. Snow covers the sidewalks. Dampness settles in the bones. The wind is relentless. There aren't enough hot cups of tea or layers of clothing to help ease the chill. But that doesn't deter Cristelle Comby's crime-solving duo in DANSE MACABRE. Hipster Alexandra Neve just trades her Converse sneakers for faux-fur boots, and her partner Ashford Egan gets up after falling on his ice-covered steps—ice he couldn't see because he's blind. A bout of nasty winter weather sure isn't going to stop these two from tracking down a psychopath.

Alexandra may be British, but she's of the millennial generation. She's more likely to say, "Yo, wazzup?" or vent her frustrations in Italian than maintain the prim and proper demeanor of her more traditional colleague. Ashford's baritone is rich and deep whenever he talks about his love of the city's history and culture. He's into opera and ballet, and she digs rock n' roll. Alexandra teases Ashford about his blindness and he's okay with it. He keeps her calm when she starts to freak out, especially after dropping a flashlight in a rat-infested subway tunnel. And he trusts her enough to lead him out of danger whenever they find themselves in a sticky situation like being held at gunpoint.

The affection they have for each other is truly touching. Alexandra knows that London isn't an easy city to get around in. She understands how difficult it is for Ashford to navigate his way through life, never mind a crime scene. Yet, she always plays to his strengths. His ears become their secret weapon. He can detect when someone's lying just by the sound of their voice. He's like radar because he can always hear when someone's coming up behind them even from good distance away.

They're a well-balanced team, a team of equals. Ash's intellectual nature jives with Alex's go get'em attitude. He lives alone. She lives with her mother. They'd both love to have some office space of their own, but money's tight. Ash envies the salaried pensioned positions of the police officers they work with and Alex is still getting comfortable telling people what she actually does for a living. The adjustment to private investigating isn't an easy one for either of them. They know they're capable of doing the job, but they still have their misgivings about the career path they've chosen.

Their goal now is to catch a killer before Christmas. Their quest leads them to abandoned theaters, half empty churches, reconverted dance studios and beyond. Even when Ash's flat is broken into and a warning note is left, they don't back down, they keep going. They sure don't have the resources they need, but they have the raw talent and ability to bring the killer to justice. They're out to save lives and grant victims' families some healing and closure, and that's exactly what they do.

London isn't just a safer place with these two patrolling the streets, it's a better one.

***

Danse Macabre can be purchased at:
Amazon

Prices/Formats: $2.99 ebook, $11.99 paperback
Pages: 254
Genre: New Adult, Detective Mystery
Release: October 2014
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9781502723772
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Cristelle Comby was born and raised in the French-speaking area of Switzerland, in Greater Geneva, where she still resides.

Thanks to her insatiable thirst for American and British action films and television dramas, her English is fluent.

She attributes to her origins her ever-peaceful nature and her undying love for chocolate. She has a passion for art, which also includes an interest in drawing and acting.

Danse Macabre is her third new-adult novel, and she’s hard at work on the next titles in the Neve & Egan series.

Links to connect with Cristelle:
Web Site
Twitter
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Instagram
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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Michael J. Bowler - And The Children Shall Lead - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

The campaign to save California’s children was only the beginning. Now King Arthur and his Round Table of teenaged knights set their sights on fixing something even bigger – the entire country. How? By targeting America’s most sacred document – The Constitution.

Native American teens Kai and Dakota, despite harboring secrets of their own, join the team, and swear undying loyalty to Lance. They carry the hope of their people that the crusade will better the lives of Indian children, who are the most neglected by government. This new campaign will take the young people to The White House, the halls of Congress, and beyond in their quest to change the prevailing opinion that children are property, rather than human beings in their own right.

But an unseen nemesis stalks Lance and Arthur, and ratchets up the attacks on New Camelot, promising to kill them and destroy all that the king has put in place. Lance, Ricky, Kai, and Dakota become the enemy’s favorite targets, and barely escape with their lives on more than one occasion. Who is this mysterious stalker, and what is the motive for these attacks? Lance has no idea, especially since he’s never intentionally hurt anyone.

“You were right, little boy, death is coming for you, but slowly, and only after it takes out the people you love.” That chilling promise haunts Lance, but also strengthens his determination to protect the people he loves at all costs. Or die trying.

The Knight Cycle Continues…


My Review

Washington, D.C. The paranoid political climate. The stifling humidity. The game playing and jockeying for power. It's all here and then some, but shown through the eyes of an adolescent on his way toward amending the Constitution. Yeah, Lance Pendragon doesn't go to the Capitol just to sightsee, he has an agenda to push, too.

For a boy who's never been on an airplane before, he quickly rises through the ranks, dining with the President on his first night in town. The thing that made this such a neat twist is that the author, Michael J. Bowler, visited the White House in a similar fashion after being named the National Big Brother of the Year. It was a treat to feel what Bowler might have experienced when he stepped inside the White House as an honored guest, just like Lance does because he takes readers on a special journey, giving them an inside look into the corridors of power.

There's an overall sense that Bowler doesn't trust politicians much, and neither does Lance. They're a means to an end, impossible to bypass if the ultimate goal is to bring about beneficial change for the greatest number of people, and Lance wants children to have the same rights as adults, and he's not going to stop until he accomplishes that. He puts his celebrity factor to good use, bumping elbows with congressmen and Supreme Court justices in order to bring about a monumental shift in public thinking.

Bowler has fun taking readers around the city from the birds-eye view atop the Washington Monument to a solemn moment in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Lance experiences everything firsthand, much the way Bowler probably did. It's a great way to introduce teenage readers to such a pivotal place in American history by giving them a lesson on what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to passing legislation and instituting change. It's not easy. It requires the unrelenting focus of a select few, who are determined to see it through, no matter what the cost.

But things get really exciting when Lance and Ricky hop on their skateboards (per a psychic vision from Merlin) and hang on to the back of a D.C. bus while escaping a band of would-be assassins on motorcycles. The tension gets ramped up when a helicopter starts attacking them in the middle of Arlington National Cemetery and Lance is forced to perform some death-defying feats near JFK's gravesite in order to keep them alive.

This book has it all from high speed action to groundbreaking access to the wheelers and dealers who run the show. Bowler even tosses in an American government lesson along with the thrills and chills readers have come to expect from him. It's an interesting take on what would happen if Camelot really did converge with Washington and what the end result would look like. Bowler has a great eye, remembering every detail of his own trip and then imagining on the page what could've happened if Lance had accompanied him on his excursion. Overall, what an entertaining way to combine an author's real life experiences with those of a fictional character!

***

And The Children Shall Lead can be purchased at:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Prices/Formats: $4.99 ebook, $14.95 paperback
Pages: 302
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Release: September 25, 2014
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9780990306368
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of seven novels––A Boy and His Dragon, A Matter of Time (Silver Medalist from Reader’s Favorite), and The Knight Cycle, comprised of five books: Children of the Knight (Gold Award Winner in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards), Running Through A Dark Place, There Is No Fear, And The Children Shall Lead, and Once Upon A Time In America.

His horror screenplay, “Healer,” was a Semi-Finalist, and his urban fantasy script, “Like A Hero,” was a Finalist in the Shriekfest Film Festival and Screenplay Competition.

He grew up in San Rafael, California, and majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara University. He went on to earn a master’s in film production from Loyola Marymount University, a teaching credential in English from LMU, and another master's in Special Education from Cal State University Dominguez Hills.

He partnered with two friends as producer, writer, and/or director on several ultra-low-budget horror films, including “Fatal Images,” “Club Dead,” and “Things II,” the reviews of which are much more fun than the actual movies.

He taught high school in Hawthorne, California for twenty-five years, both in general education and to students with learning disabilities, in subjects ranging from English and Strength Training to Algebra, Biology, and Yearbook.

He has also been a volunteer Big Brother to eight different boys with the Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a thirty-year volunteer within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles. He is a passionate advocate for the fair treatment of children and teens in California, something that is sorely lacking in this state.

He has been honored as Probation Volunteer of the Year, YMCA Volunteer of the Year, California Big Brother of the Year, and 2000 National Big Brother of the Year. The “National” honor allowed he and three of his Little Brothers to visit the White House and meet the president in the Oval Office.

He is currently at work on a horror/suspense novel based on his screenplay, “Healer.”

Links to connect with Michael:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog
Tumblr
Pinterest
Instagram
Blog Tour Site


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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

DJ Wilson - Ride to Restoration - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

In this second book, D learns that paying it forward is not without costs, toss in Candi Parker, the girl of D’s dreams gone rogue, along with vivacious Victoria Lawson, attorney at law, who willingly steps in to fill Candi’s thong, and D’s hilarious misadventures continue across Canada. Reality sets in and the bullets begin to fly just two days after he returns to the states.

D sends Victoria away to keep her out of harm’s way, before tackling his real life demons, aka A.J. Standford, the Ponzi scheming banker who has a bounty on D’s head, and Candi’s extended family, the Gambinos, who will profit from his demise.

The romantic side of the story poses multiple questions: Will D settle for Victoria after being royally screwed by Candi or will his feelings for Candi propel him back into her life and the crime family’s ongoing chaos? Will Candi take back her sleazy ex-husband Joseph or will she somehow manage to break with her powerful family and come crawling back to D’s loving arms?

With all of this going on, there’s bound to be hell to pay sooner rather than later. Like momma always said, “When you play with fire, you’re gonna get burned.”



My Review

The journey taken in RIDE TO RESTORATION is like the one in RIDE TO REDEMPTION, only in reverse. This time, D is leaving his Canadian sanctuary and heading home to his lakeside cabin in Tennessee. But things are not always as they seem when his final destination changes, when danger arises. He's no longer a part of the federal government's witness protection program, voluntarily going off the electronic grid to avoid any kind of detection from the man who wants him dead.

But oh, what sights there are to be had along the way. The world's largest teepee, for one and the Northern Lights, for another. D even finds himself in the middle of a duck tornado during migration season and stuck in a tree when a mama bear and her cub come calling. Yet the isolation and long, cold winters of the Canadian wilderness quickly drive him back to warmer climates. He knows he'll miss the quiet solitude of these backwoods towns and the charming people in them, but he has unfinished business he needs to attend to.

Such as, giving up his refuge on the banks of Dale Hollow Lake—his dream house, the one he built himself. The idyllic gated community where he'd share a bottle of wine and dine with his fellow residents during their monthly get togethers—it's all over now. He can't go back home, not anymore. The Mafia knows where he lives and so does the kingpin behind bars who has a price on his head. He's no longer safe there. He has to disappear and go where nobody can find him.

But first, he has a date with destiny along the southern coast of Florida. Daytona Beach sets the stage for an epic reunion with one of his lovely ladies—the home of the elderly retirees, NASCAR fans, perpetual spring breakers and leather-clad bikers. It's a lively mix of humanity that culminates in traffic jams along infamous I-95.

A picture is painted back to D's early days when he was happily married and finding some alone time with his wife in a minivan in the hotel parking lot while their children slept soundly upstairs. The Aunt Catfish seafood shack is still there, but now the shoreline is littered with hurricane-resistant condominiums that only the wealthy can afford. D reflects on how some things change, while others remain the same, showing how the passing of time can alter a well-loved location in one's memories.

The novel spends some time in St. Augustine, making D's teeth rattle when he rides his bike over the 400-year-old cobblestone streets. He rides on to the southern elegance of Savannah, Georgia and the pristine beauty of Tybee Island, one of the few places that D can imagine himself living besides Dale Hollow Lake.

Through it all, D takes us from relaxing B&Bs where the owner treats him like family to a hunting lodge run by a professional husband and wife outfitter team to a Wild West kind of hotel whose main claim to fame is karaoke night, not its communal bathroom. Along the way, D stops in impersonal Holiday Inns and refuels in truck stops. Traveling is not always glamorous, but with bags full of stolen diamonds to pay the way, it can be, more often than not.

And of course, the food is not to be forgotten. Sometimes for dinner, moose is on the menu and sometimes it's just a six-pack of beer at the hotel bar. More often than not, mornings begin with a cup of black and green tea and a scrumptious breakfast after an early riser workout on the elliptical machines or a walk in the great outdoors. D even knows how to find a first rate Italian restaurant right in the heart of Georgia, but he's content to eat in an off the highway Subway, too.

D is a man of many tastes, willing to go with the flow and adjust to wherever life takes him. He's a lover of luxury when it comes to claw foot tubs and four poster beds, but he'll also don animal scented clothing if the occasion calls for it. He's not too proud to blend into his surroundings. He's a biker, and he knows that sometimes he'll be welcomed with open arms and other times he'll be looked at like a rebel-rouser. And he's okay with that. He's used to laying his head on a different pillow every night. That's who he is.

***

Ride to Restoration can be purchased at:
Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Google Play

Prices/Formats: $4.99 ebook, $11.95 paperback
Pages: 318
Genre: Erotic Romance
Release: July 16, 2014
Publisher: Riscatto Publishing
ISBN: 9781604148022
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


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About the Author

Raised in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, I graduated from Cumberland University, located in a small town you've never heard just inside Kentucky quite a few years ago. At the present, we're living beside beautiful Dale Hollow Lake.

Blessed to travel, blessed with health, blessed with second chances, too numerous to list here.

As a blogger, featured on many sites, including the Huffington Post, I have been humbled beyond measure, more times than not, by all that life has thrown our way.

Successful, that's me, catastrophic failure, that's me too. We've been there, done that and have the life changing scars to prove it.

Our writings reflect life through the throes of heartache and loss, as well as through the joys redemption brings.

"Life is not waiting for the Storms to Pass, It's Learning to Dance in the Rain."

Links to connect with DJ:
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Twitter
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Monday, October 6, 2014

Richard H. Hardy - The Infinity Program - Author Interview & Giveaway



About the Book

Jon Graeme and Harry Sale are unlikely friends. Harry is a world-class programmer, but his abrasive personality alienates co-workers. In contrast, Jon is a handsome and easy-going technical writer, the low man on the IT totem pole.

Sharing a love of nature, the men set out together, planning to go their separate ways--Jon on a hike and Harry, fly fishing. Three days later, Jon arrives at the rendezvous point, but his friend is nowhere in sight. When Jon finds Harry unconscious on the floor of a cave, Harry claims to have been lying there the entire time. But he is neither cold nor hungry. What Jon doesn't know is that Harry fell into an underground cavern, where he came into contact with an alien quantum computer.

Back at work, Harry jettisons his regular tasks and concentrates exclusively on inventing new operating language to access the alien system. In the process he crashes his office's Super Computer and is fired. Jon convinces the company to give Harry a second chance, arguing that the system he has invented will make them millions.

Jon has no idea what havoc Harry is about to unleash.


Author Interview

1. Why did you choose this setting?
The office setting The Infinity Program allowed me to write about what I know about from personal experience: the office dynamics of a privately owned IT company.

2. How is it a fundamental part of your overall theme?
The odd, Dilbertesque world of a software company is the backdrop of The Infinity Program. The hero of the story is a world class systems programmer. The office background shows my hero, warts and all, in his native environment.

3. How challenging was it to write about?
The challenge for me was to re-create a world that I was very familiar with but do it with original characters, not copies or re-creations of the people I actually knew.

4. How did you develop your setting as you wrote your book?
The software company I worked at was small and specialized. My fictional company, called HPTS, is much larger, wealthier and has connections to the defense industry. I had to extrapolate this world and its larger cast of characters. My descriptions of the offices and buildings were rather plain vanilla until the final drafts. At that point I added architectural and design details to make the setting more realistic.

5. How do you transport them there through your writing?
The reader is shown the office environment from the point of view of the workers who inhabit it. People in a well-run office must be focused. This is especially true in the software industry. I tried to bring the reader into the story with dialogue and re-create the hectic, intense pace of the IT environment.

6. How do you introduce them to an area they may not be familiar with?
Software developers sometimes seem to be a breed apart, but they have many of the same foibles as the rest of this. I tried to present this side of them to my readers. They’re really just like the rest of us. Sometimes they eat too much or spend too much time thinking about sex. Sometimes they create needless conflict simply because they are in a bad mood or bored. And sometimes they are just plain silly. I definitely tried to inject a little humor into the book. My friends and early readers were enthusiastic about some of the humorous bits.

7. How do you go about making the setting come alive for the reader?
I tried to make the setting realistic by using small pieces from my own life experience. For example, at one point in The Infinity Program Jon Graeme is stressed and is walking off his nervous energy in the office hallways. When he keeps running into another programmer who is also walking the halls, he remembers what his boss said about the man: “That guy is on his feet more than a cow!” This line was lifted word for word from a co-worker who was criticizing a colleague for never being at his desk. In creating some of Jon’s work assignments, I borrowed directly from my own work experience. I tried hard to give the reader a true sense of what life is like at an IT company.

***

The Infinity Program can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Smashwords
iBooks
Kobo

Prices/Formats: $5.95 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Pages: 250
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance
Release: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603819336
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Richard H. Hardy was born in Glasgow, Scotland, during a week of relentless bombing raids just before the close of World War II. The day he was born an incendiary bomb fell on the church across the street from where he lived, so he is fond of saying that he entered the world with a big adrenaline rush.

His family later moved to England and then on to America.

After college Richard bounced through a series of temporary jobs as he traveled around the country, wanting nothing more than to write fiction. A job driving a library van allowed him free time to write several short stories and work on a novel.

He and his wife moved to New Hampshire, where he took an entry level job at a software company. He was soon promoted to the technical writing department and ended up producing over 500,000 words of online documentation. After a few years he was promoted to the programming department and ended up as the Senior EDI Programmer, creating EDI maps and writing UNIX scripts and troubleshooting on AIX systems throughout the U.S. and Canada.

After he retired, he started writing fiction again. The Infinity Program is his first published novel.

Links to connect with Richard:
Web Site
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mia Kerick - The Red Sheet - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

One October morning, high school junior Bryan Dennison wakes up a different person—helpful, generous, and chivalrous—a person whose new admirable qualities he doesn’t recognize. Stranger still is the urge to tie a red sheet around his neck like a cape. Bryan soon realizes this compulsion to wear a red cape is accompanied by more unusual behavior. He can’t hold back from retrieving kittens from tall trees, helping little old ladies cross busy streets, and defending innocence anywhere he finds it.

Shockingly, at school, he realizes he used to be a bully. He’s attracted to the former victim of his bullying, Scott Beckett, though he has no memory of Scott from before “the change.” Where he’d been lazy in academics, overly aggressive in sports, and socially insecure, he’s a new person. And although he can recall behaving egotistically, he cannot remember his motivations.

Everyone, from his mother to his teachers to his “superjock” former pals, is shocked by his dramatic transformation. However, Scott Beckett is not impressed by Bryan’s newfound virtue. And convincing Scott he’s genuinely changed and improved, hopefully gaining Scott’s trust and maybe even his love, becomes Bryan’s obsession.

With a foreword by Cody Kennedy



My Review

The middle class American mindset comes close to choking the life out of Bryan Dennison. The stifling conservatism. The narrow minded thinking of white picket fence suburbia. The 'stand out only to be praised' mentality. On the surface, THE RED SHEET is set in the idyllic setting of small town New Hampshire, but it could really take place in any similar environment across the country where the overriding message is: Jocks can't be gay.

Unfortunately, basketball phenom Bryan is head over heels for a boy named Scott. The problem is Scott's the only one who knows Bryan's gay. Not even Bryan's mother suspects that her big, strapping, free-throw-nailing son is secretly dating a boy in his English class. Bryan is good at coasting under the radar, until Scott issues him an ultimatum—acknowledge their relationship in public or it's over. He's desperate for Bryan to make a stand, until something tragic occurs. The memory of what happens to Scott is so traumatic that Bryan doesn't even know he's repressing it until the end of the story when it all comes rushing back.

Because in the town where they live, disturbing incidents like that aren't reported. If one boy is doing something unspeakable to another boy, they say the victim was "beat up." These euphemisms for violent behavior are as dated as they are disturbing. In 2014, teenage boys still aren't encouraged to be who they are and express themselves openly if they happen to be gay, or at least a certain type of boy is expected to remain in the closet.

Since Scott is small boned and effeminate looking, people automatically assume that he's gay and they're okay with it. Bryan, on the other hand, is the 6' 4'' standout player starting on the varsity team. He's expected to date the hot girl who puts out, even if he's not really into her, even if he's into a boy with wavy blonde hair he's dying to run his fingers through with crystal clear blue eyes he just wants to lose himself in. That's not supposed to happen, not in their town. It's too much for Appleton, New Hampshire to handle. It upsets the natural order of things.

Author Mia Kerick calls things as she sees them. She's aware of the hypocrisy that runs rampant through Main Street U.S.A. Same-sex relationships are viewed as okay in metropolitan areas where the Mom and Pop types don't have to come in contact with them. But two high school boys getting affectionate on the dance floor? The queasiness is readily apparent on the page. It's not what a lot of people are ready to stomach. But Kerick makes a compelling argument, illustrating the humanity behind these characters and the depth of the attachment between them. They're just as in love with each other as any of their peers who are in boy/girl relationships, in fact, they're probably more so.

When it comes to love, it's known to cross all boundaries from nationality to income level to race—so in THE RED SHEET, Kerick is well within her rights to ask the question: Why not gender?

***

The Red Sheet can be purchased at:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Dreamspinner Press, All Romance Books

Prices/Formats: $6.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback
Pages: 190
Genre: Young Adult
Release: February 20, 2014
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 9781627987219
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.

Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

My themes I always write about:
Sweetness. Unconventional love, tortured/damaged heroes- only love can save them

Links to connect with Mia:
Web Site
Facebook
Goodreads
Blog
YouTube
Blog Tour Site


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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Michael J. Bowler - There Is No Fear - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

The most famous boy in the world is a prisoner. He’s been charged with a crime he didn’t commit, a crime that could send him to prison for the rest of his life. Languishing within The Compound, the most secure juvenile facility in California, while the district attorney vows to make an example of him because of his celebrity status, Lance must endure the daily indignities of the incarcerated.

New Camelot is fractured without him. Ricky and Chris are bereft, living for the weekly phone call that becomes their only lifeline to the brother they so desperately love, while Arthur and Jenny feel the loss of their son with a sadness that can’t be quelled. And what about Michael, the highly volatile teen who helped write the proposition that will change California forever? Could he really be the monster he says he is? His hatred of Ricky is palpable, and his instability may well threaten the lives of everyone at New Camelot.

As the election looms closer, Proposition 51 takes on an even greater significance in light of the pending trial of the century. The more harshly fifteen-year-old Lance is treated within the broken justice system, the more he contemplates the wisdom of his idea that children need more adult rights. If The Child Voter Act becomes law, won’t it simply allow adults to throw more kids into prison with impunity?

Whichever way the voters decide, his greatest fear remains the same: will he ever again be with the people he loves?

The Knight Cycle Continues…


My Review

There's no setting bleaker than a prison, especially when the inmates are children. The Compound, the high security detention center for juvenile offenders, is the place where the city of Los Angeles hides its dirtiest of secrets, housing the kids no one cares a lick about. The ones that rot behind bars for twenty-five years or more because nobody speaks up, nobody cares.

But Michael J. Bowler does. He's not going to sit idly by and remain silent. He's going to reveal the corruption of justice for all to see. The picture he paints is so vivid that no one can walk away after reading it and not have a change of heart when it comes to prosecuting those under eighteen. These lives are too young to be lost, so wholly and completely, buried under years and years of departmental incompetence and public indifference. Their plight needs to be addressed, and Bowler is brave enough to champion their cause.

The choice to place his novel in a juvenile prison is a bold one. It broaches difficult subject matter, taking readers where they might not venture to go. Bowler is taking a risk, but then he's never shied away from addressing controversial topics before. If he feels strongly about an issue, he's going to write about it, and that's to his credit. He doesn't follow trends in attempt to pander to a mass audience. He's about telling stories that are important to him and having that enthusiasm trickle down to his readers.

And it's not to say that prisons haven't been used effectively in popular culture before. From ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK to THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, looking at how a person reacts to the loss of freedom is always captivating, but no one examines the youth angle quite like Bowler. Not many differences exist between adult convicts and their juvenile counterparts and that's shocking in and of itself. Child inmates may have to attend school, but as far as insufficient meals, lack of privacy and guard brutality, it's pretty much the same. These kids are treated like adults and society willingly turns a blind eye, for the most part, locking the door and throwing away the key.

Bowler, in the third of the five books of his magnum opus, THE CHILDREN OF THE KNIGHT, writes about a place that no child ever wants to end up, much less visit. That's why THERE IS NO FEAR provides a kind of voyeuristic journey. Bowler does the heavy lifting, committing it to the page, all readers have to do is let his words work their magic, as he transports them in and out of what is for many, hell on earth.

***

There Is No Fear can be purchased at:
Amazon

Prices/Formats: $4.99 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Pages: 284
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Release: July 17, 2014
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9780990306337
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of five novels––A Boy and His Dragon, A Matter of Time (Silver Medalist from Reader’s Favorite), Children of the Knight (Gold Award Winner in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards), Running Through A Dark Place, and There Is No Fear––who grew up in San Rafael, California. His horror screenplay, “Healer,” was a Semi-Finalist, and his urban fantasy script, “Like A Hero,” was a Finalist in the Shriekfest Film Festival and Screenplay Competition.

He majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara University and earned a master’s in film production from Loyola Marymount University, a teaching credential in English from LMU, and another master's in Special Education from Cal State University Dominguez Hills.

He partnered with two friends as producer, writer, and/or director on several ultra-low-budget horror films, including “Fatal Images,” “Club Dead,” and “Things II,” the reviews of which are much more fun than the actual movies.

He taught high school in Hawthorne, California for twenty-five years, both in general education and to students with learning disabilities, in subjects ranging from English and Strength Training to Algebra, Biology, and Yearbook.

He has also been a volunteer Big Brother to seven different boys with the Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a thirty-year volunteer within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles. He is a passionate advocate for the fair treatment of children and teens in California, something that is sorely lacking in this state.

He has been honored as Probation Volunteer of the Year, YMCA Volunteer of the Year, California Big Brother of the Year, and 2000 National Big Brother of the Year. The “National” honor allowed he and three of his Little Brothers to visit the White House and meet the president in the Oval Office.

He has already written the two remaining books that complete The Children of the Knight Cycle and both will be released in 2014.

He is currently at work on a horror/suspense novel based on his screenplay, “Healer.”

Links to connect with Michael:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog
Tumblr
Instagram
Blog Tour Site


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Friday, July 25, 2014

Cathi Stoler - The Hard Way - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Private Investigator Helen McCorkendale’s childhood friend, Jimmy Scanlan, has just opened January, the most lavish casino and hotel resort on the Las Vegas Strip. After attending the grand opening, Helen returns to New York and encourages her friend, Laurel Imperiole, Senior Editor at Women Now magazine, to create a get-away contest for readers offering a weekend at the hotel as the grand prize. The winner, Dawn Chapman, a jewelry store employee from Cincinnati, denies entering the contest and initially refuses the trip. Finally persuaded by Laurel to accept, she arrives at the hotel and nearly faints when she passes the hotel’s elite meeting rooms where the International Diamond Dealers Consortium is holding its annual meeting. She insists on returning home immediately.

Suspicious of her behavior, Jimmy visits her suite to encourage her to attend the Saturday afternoon pool party, saying she can leave on his private jet the next day. Later in the afternoon, he finds Chapman’s dead body by the pool. She’s been murdered—an unusual double poisoning by cyanide and diamond dust.

Dawn Chapman was not who she appeared to be, and therein lies a mystery. But to Helen and Laurel, the main task is to take Jimmy Scanlon off the suspect list and clear his name. Will their luck hold? Or will it be a crap shoot, as they roll the dice and do it ‘the hard way,’ going for doubles when the odds are against them. Losing may mean losing their lives.



My Review

There are cozy mysteries. There are grisly mysteries. But I'd dub this one a glam mystery. Why? Because of its setting. Stepping inside the January Resort and Casino is like watching an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Tuxes, diamonds, caviar, you name it, all come together in one spectacular Las Vegas showcase that attempts to turn the unforgiving heat of the desert into a winter wonderland for the affluent, connected and good-looking. They'll have their cake and eat it too, even if it means fashioning a roaring fireplace out of ice.

But the extravagance doesn't stop there. With the International Diamond Dealers Consortium in town, anything is possible. The de Groot family has long been associated with the luxury trade, and they're about to unveil the discovery of a precious red diamond once owned by the last Russian tsar. But before that can happen the reluctant winner of a magazine contest turns up dead at a Polar Cap Pool Party. Why was she reluctant to stay at such a fabulous and exclusive hotel? Maybe it was the cause of death—death by diamond dust, to be precise.

It seems such a pretty way to die, but it's really not. Mixed with cyanide, the victim's organs were shredded internally as soon as she swallowed the lethal dosage in her comped drink. Her skin turned pink. She couldn't breath and eventually went into cardiac arrest. Dawn Chapman didn't want to go on this trip, and she shouldn't have. Because it turns out that Dawn Chapman is really Deirdre Thornhill, international jewel thief extraordinaire, not the salesperson for a family-run jewelry store in Ohio that she was passing herself off as.

There are a lot of suspects in this whodunit. There's Jimmy Scanlan, January's owner, who may or may not be covering up a shady deal gone bad. There's Jimmy's main competitor, Clive Drummond, the owner of The Florentine, who could be setting Jimmy up to take the fall and destroy his business. There are many players surrounding the diamond dealers themselves, especially the nefarious members of their security teams some of whom look and act more like stone cold killers than the threats they're supposed to be protecting their illustrious bosses from.

Stoler sets up her thriller brilliantly. It hooks the reader from the get go with its opulence and sophistication. Her distinctly imaginative setting is one that transports mystery fans right into the action, gripping them with fur-covered ice stools and poolside chalets. The January Resort and Casino is a place anyone would love to stay at, but being that it's confined to the page gives readers the added benefit of being able to leave this must-see destination alive. When it comes to faux snow, some things are better left to the imagination, especially when there's a killer on the loose.

***

The Hard Way can be purchased at:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $14.95 paperback
Pages: 280
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Release: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603819497
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Cathi Stoler’s mysteries feature PI Helen McCorkendale and magazine editor, Laurel Imperiole. The Hard Way is the third book in the series. The first, Telling Lies, took on the subject of stolen Nazi art. Book 2, Keeping Secrets, delved into the subject of hidden identity. Stoler’s short stories include: “Magda,” in the Criminal Element Anthology Malfeasance Occasional: Girl Trouble, “Out of Luck,” in the Anthology, Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices, “Fatal Flaw,” a finalist for the Derringer for Best Short Story and “Money Never Sleeps” both published at Beat to A Pulp. Cathi is working on a novella, Nick of Time, which features International gambler, Nick Donahue. She is also starting a new series, Bar None, A Murder On The Rocks Mystery, with female bar owner, Jude Dillane. Cathi is a member of the New York/Tri State chapter of Sisters In Crime. She is also a member of Mystery Writers of America.

Links to connect with Cathi:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog
Blog Tour Site


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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

DJ Wilson - Ride to Redemption - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Righting another's wrong landed D in WITSEC, the witness protection program and cost him family, friends, and everything of substance in his life.

Loneliness is his constant companion until he meets Candi, the girl of his dreams. He and Candi embark on a three-week ride to redemption where they deal with mind-numbing deceit, perilous treachery, their overpowering lust for each other and their personal demons.

Nevertheless, new opportunities bring a chance to begin again. And, it doesn't hurt that he's got 200 pounds of illicit diamonds to use to ease the pain of those wronged. He will continue the redemption process by way of a well thought out plan involving a 5,000-mile adventure through the Western United States and Canada.

When D meets Candice, aka Candi, she captures his heart, mind and soul the instant she 'inadvertently' almost runs him down in the Starbucks drive-thru. Candi joins him on his three-week, two-wheeled ride to redemption, where they're forced to face their personal demons, while dealing with wanton lust, mind-numbing deceit and perilous treachery.

Spectacular scenery and a cast of unforgettable characters they meet along the way makes the journey memorable, but nothing prepares them for the sacrifices they must eventually make midway in the ride.

"The more things change, the more they stay the same," sadly, does not ring true for Candice and D throughout this first of a two part series. Lust and greed are forever game-changers, even for those who desperately seek redemption.



My Review

I hopped on the back of D's motorcycle and went for the ride of a lifetime! I loved spending three weeks with him through the western U.S. and Canada. I felt the explosive rush of a geyser in Yellowstone. I could see the icy blue of the lake in Glacier National Park. I got a first hand look at Montana's Beartooth Highway through Montana, named one of the most scenic roads in America. Let me tell you, D did a great job playing the role of tour guide extraordinaire.

This is a travel book and I love when an author can take me places I've never been before. The way Wilson writes it's like he's letting us in on the tricks of the trade - the restaurants with the best food, the most comfortable places to stay, the most picturesque routes to choose. I think anyone would enjoy taking some time off and seeing the sites with this guy. He's the real deal.

But while D might be an expert when it comes to booking B&Bs that feel like a home away from home and finding the tastiest grub in town, he's clueless when it comes to dating. He wants a woman in his life, he's just not sure which one. He's just starting something new with Candi, a pampered princess he hopes he can "train" into the type of girl he wants. But then there's Victoria, the seductive, dirty-mouthed attorney he can't stop thinking about and who lets him know that she's available at every opportunity.

He wants to make it work with Candi, he's just not sure she can give him what she needs. Sure, she's a handful in the sack, but why is it so hard for her to open up to him about her past? If she can't be forthcoming with him from the beginning, D doesn't know if they have what it takes for the long haul.

Victoria is more his match both in terms of age and lifestyle. They're both risqué and rather promiscuous. Yet they're not ashamed of it, it's what attracts them to each other. Victoria teases D for remaining faithful to Candi and repeatedly turning her down, but deep down she knows that all it's going to take is one slip up by Candi and she'll be replacing the young tart in D's bed in a heartbeat. She just has to wait it out and eventually her young rival will mess up.

The novel ends in a cliffhanger with just that particular scenario. After a long, scenic bike ride through Native American reservations and Wild West towns, all three end up in Canada when a motorcycle collides with a moose and an unexpected accident turns D's world upside down. A chain of events is set in motion that can't be stopped. Through shootouts and double crossings, D doesn't know who's on his side and who's not.

By the final pages, he ends his trip right back where he started - looking for love in all the wrong places.

***

Ride to Redemption can be purchased at:
Amazon, Smashwords

Prices/Formats: $3.99 ebook, $10.95 paperback
Pages: 282
Genre: Erotic Romance
Release: December 2, 2013
Publisher: Fideli Publishing
ISBN: 9781604147773
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Raised in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, I graduated from Cumberland University, located in a small town you've never heard just inside Kentucky quite a few years ago. At the present, we're living beside beautiful Dale Hollow Lake.

Blessed to travel, blessed with health, blessed with second chances, too numerous to list here.

As a blogger, featured on many sites, including the Huffington Post, I have been humbled beyond measure, more times than not, by all that life has thrown our way.

Successful, that's me, catastrophic failure, that's me too. We've been there, done that and have the life changing scars to prove it.

Our writings reflect life through the throes of heartache and loss, as well as through the joys redemption brings.

"Life is not waiting for the Storms to Pass, It's Learning to Dance in the Rain."

Links to connect with DJ:
Web Site
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


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Monday, July 21, 2014

Ken Dalton - Brother, can you spare a dime? - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Bear’s planned afternoon of beer and baseball is interrupted by a phone call from a man he hardly remembers from their years at Elko High. So begins the tale of a cold-blooded murder and the theft of a dime worth two million dollars!

Faced with bi-coastal murder suspects, Pinky hands Bear, and Flo the sweaty task of tracking down one of the suspects along the hot, humid North Carolina shoreline while he chooses to pursue the other on the Kona coast of Hawaii. But Pinky, after imbibing too many Mai Tai’s with a bevy of sky-goddesses, and a moved-up court date, is forced to return to Carson City, sans suspect.

Bear and Flo hit pay dirt and with the identity of the killer in hand they fly across the Pacific Ocean to the smoggy Beijing airport where they meet Joe, the uncle of Pinky’s Chinese secretary. The enigmatic Joe quotes Confucius and Shakespeare as he purposefully guides the dynamic duo to their final destination— oxygen sparse Lhasa, Tibet.



Cliff hanger contest

Brother, can you spare a dime? ends with a prize winning cliff hanger that defies all logic.

Let Ken know how you would answer the question and he will choose the two answers he likes the best. Both winners will receive a complete paperback set of his Pinky and Bear mystery series.

The Bloody Birthright
The Big Show Stopper
Death is a Cabernet
The Tartan Shroud
Brother, can you spare a dime?


Five books, each one personally inscribed!

Email your cliff hanger answer to ken@kendalton.com and in a couple of months Ken will post the winners' names on his Facebook page.


My Review

I like an author who writes what he knows and pays attention to detail. Ken Dalton is a connoisseur of the human experience. He captures those little tidbits of life that make us laugh, that make us shiver, and holds them up to the light for all of us to enjoy and examine. He picks up on signature personality traits and oddball behavior as well as the sights, smells and sounds of a location that are the things we remember the most about the people we meet and the places we've been. It's the stuff we tell others about when we get back from a trip or how we explain the impression someone makes on us when we encounter someone interesting. It's all about those small, stand out moments that not many writers write about. And that's why I like Ken Dalton.

For me, the plot was secondary. I know that in a murder mystery it should be of the utmost importance, but I had a feeling that Bear and Flo would solve the case for Pinky and every wrong would be righted, so I wasn't too concerned about the outcome. I just liked following them all around the world whether it was from Nevada to North Carolina or from Hawaii to China. I laughed at Bear getting sick of having hushpuppies at every meal in the South while tracking a lead at what seems like a hole in the wall coin shop. I enjoyed soaking in the perfect air temperature with Pinky poolside in Hawaii while he inwardly bemoaned his failed marriage while trying to hit on a bevy of young flight attendants. I admired Flo's knowledge of Buddhist customs and communist history while trying to find one woman in the midst of a billion people. These three proved to be just as enlightening as they are entertaining.

But I was thrilled after finishing BROTHER, CAN YOU SPARE A DIME? to read that Ken Dalton traveled to China and even visited Tibet. I loved how he included pictures from his trip in the author's notes at the end of the book. For me, this added such a layer of authenticity to his story and one - as a reader who hasn't seen much of the world - I deeply appreciated. He made me yearn for a glimpse of the sun through the pollution laden air of Beijing. He left me gasping for breath amid the dizzying heights of the Himalayas. He had me cringing at encountering a dried-up bat on a stick. The clash of cultures is vividly portrayed even as our guide, Joe, keeps assuring us that everything is, "five stars, top class, very American" while the stench coming from the public restrooms makes it clear that it's anything but. I have an inkling that Dalton was told much the same thing during his Asian excursion, and nothing makes for great fiction like the stuff of life.

***

Brother, can you spare a dime? can be purchased at:
Amazon, KenDalton.com (personalized inscription and free shipping)

Prices/Formats: $4.99 ebook, $14.95 paperback
Pages: 310
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Release: April 9, 2014
Publisher: Different Drummer Press
ISBN: 9780578140391
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Ken was born in 1938 at Hollywood Hospital. He grew up in Los Angeles with his parents, his older sister and younger brother.

In a turn of bad luck, the dreaded Polio virus attacked Ken at the age of five. By the age of sixteen, after eleven years of operations, therapy, and braces to mitigate the effects of Polio, Ken’s luck changed when he met the girl of his dreams. A few years later they married, produced three wonderful children, and settled into a happy life in Southern California.

In 1966, Ken and his family moved to the green hills of Sonoma County where they bought a home surrounded with apple trees.

Some time later, Ken, designed, built, and operated a small winery that produced award winning Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

Then, in a moment of madness, Ken began writing. His first article was published in Golf Illustrated. Many more golf articles followed in national and regional magazines including Golf Magazine and Fairways and Greens. Eventually Ken felt the urge to write his first novel.

Now, after the publication of The Bloody Birthright, The Big Show Stopper, Death is a Cabernet, and The Tartan Shroud, Ken has published his latest Pinky and Bear mystery, Brother, can you spare a dime?

Links to connect with Ken:
Web Site
Facebook
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Diane Daniels Manning - Almost Perfect - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

An old woman who has given up hope and a boy who believes the impossible wonder if life would be perfect at the Westminster Dog Show.

Seventy-year old Bess Rutledge has dreamed of winning the Westminster Dog Show all her life. Despite her decades-long career as one of America’s top Standard Poodle breeders, she has decided she’s too old to hold on to her foolish dream. She sells off all the dogs in her once famous kennel except for the aging champion McCreery and his mischievous, handsome son Breaker. Part of her senses they might have been the ones to take her to Westminster, if only she’d dared to try.

Bess meets Benny, a teenager with mild autism who attends a therapeutic special school, and learns he has a dream of his own: to impress his self-absorbed mother. Benny is drawn into the world of dog shows and becomes convinced he has found the perfect way to win his mother’s attention. If he can win Westminster with either McCreery or Breaker, he just knows she will finally be proud of him. Getting Bess to go along with his plan, however, is not going to be so easy. . .

Up to 100% of the author’s profits will be donated to charities serving animals and children.



Video Trailer




My Review

I love New Englanders. They're a stalwart people with a stiff upper lip. They don't complain when the going gets tough, instead they put their nose to the grindstone and work even harder. They're resilient, surviving long, harsh winters, always keeping a hopeful eye toward spring even in the midst of a raging blizzard.

That type of mindset best explains the character of Bess in ALMOST PERFECT. She's been experiencing a lot of dark days recently. She's closing her kennel. She's birthing her last litter of pedigree poodles. After that, she's done. She's washing her hands of a lifetime of work. She's doing what no self-respecting New Englander would do - she's quitting.

It turns out Benny knows a thing or two about quitting. He can't even be depended on to empty the dishwasher, never mind train a top prospect dog, but that's what Bess entrusts him to do, much to her chagrin. She can't help herself, she likes the kid. He gets through to her when no one else can. He revives her almost extinguished hope in herself, and in her dogs.

Bess and Benny live in an area steeped in Revolutionary War history that celebrates a bunch of rebel soldiers who took on the greatest military powerhouse of the era, and won. Many would say the American patriots were the biggest underdogs of all time, so it's not surprising when two long shots like Bess and Benny think they can beat the odds when it comes to pulling off a championship at Westminster.

Benny's an unseasoned rookie handler, and Bess is a has-been, a respected one, but a has-been nonetheless. No one thinks that they'll be able to pull it off and score a victory. In the dog show world, things like that just don't happen, or do they? Without giving away the ending, Bess and Benny do make history in their own special way. Between a dog kidnapping and a puppy going through an ill-timed "ugly" stage, the two of them persevere to be champions in their own right - because Benny got Bess to try - and sometimes that's all that it takes in order to succeed.

***

Almost Perfect can be purchased at:
Amazon

Prices/Formats: $3.99 ebook, $8.99 paperback
Pages: 330
Genre: Pet Fiction
Release: January 29, 2014
Publisher: Beltor
ISBN: 9780578136394
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Diane Daniels Manning is the co-founder and director of The New School in the Heights, a therapeutic school in Houston, Texas which helps children dealing with social-emotional challenges find success in school and life. She has a Ph.D. in Education and a post-doctoral M.P.H from Harvard and is a practicing child psychoanalyst certified by the American Psychoanalytic Association. Formerly, she was the Director of the Reading and Learning Disabilities Clinic at Tufts University, Lecturer and Research Associate in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Harvard, and Chair of the Department of Education at Tulane University. She learned the inner workings of dog show kennels by writing an authorized oral history of a lifetime President of the Poodle of Club of America. Her writing awards include the Faulkner-Wisdom Novella Prize and the Women in Film and Television Short Script Competition.

Links to connect with Diane:
Web Site
Facebook
Goodreads
Blog
YouTube
Blog Tour Site


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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Michael J. Bowler - Running Through a Dark Place - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

King Arthur and his extraordinary young Knights used ‘might’ for ‘right’ to create a new Camelot in the City of Angels. They rallied the populace around their cause, while simultaneously putting the detached politicians in check. But now they must move forward to even greater heights, despite what appears to be an insurmountable tragedy.

Their new goal is lofty: give equality to kids fourteen and older who are presently considered adults only when they break the law. Arthur’s crusade seeks to give them real rights such as voting, driving, trading high school for work, and sitting as jurors for their peers charged with criminal behavior.

Understanding that the adults of California will likely be against them, Arthur and his Knights must determine how best to win them over.

However, before the king can even contemplate these matters, he finds himself face to face with an ally from the past, one who proves that everything isn’t always what it seems – even life and death.

The Knight Cycle Continues…


My Review

I have to admire Michael J. Bowler's imagination. He moves King Arthur and company out of the gutters of Los Angeles and into a veritable hotel-like castle, owned by adherents to the Kabbala no less. How very Hollywood!

But it's not too much of a stretch since Lance is the biggest celebrity of them all after he cheated death and was granted a second chance at life. He was too good to die, or at least that's what Arthur and his merry band of do-gooder teens keep telling themselves after one sacrifices himself so that Lance can live. Everyone loves Lance, too bad Lance can't love himself.

Lance never asked to be famous. He doesn't want his every move analyzed and recorded. He just wants to grow up and be allowed to make mistakes. But that's not going to happen, not when there's a horde of angry protestors outside his door each morning, not when he's being likened to Jesus and the antichrist all in the same breath. It's a lot for any boy to cope with much less someone with Lance's history of traumatic abuse and systematic violence.

He's the kid who should've fallen through the cracks, but didn't. Arthur pulled him out of anonymity and made him into a household name. Now he has photo ops with the president. He tweets with Harry Styles from One Direction. He's a fixture on the talk show circuit, chatting it up with everyone from Ellen DeGeneres to Anderson Cooper. The world can't seem to get enough of him, even though he's had enough of the world.

Lance goes to a pretty dark place in this one. He starts feeling sorry for himself, wishing the cost of his rebirth didn't involve the loss of a close friend. He's more willing to give into his fears and insecurities and let them control him. He's all about being who he thinks people want him to be, instead of feeling comfortable enough to be who he is. He's endlessly searching, trying to be something he's not in order to please everyone around him, except himself.

However, the foolish choices he makes come back to haunt him. Everyone expects so much from him, always placing him on a pedestal that he never asked to be on, that for a time he takes a perverse delight in doing the exact opposite of what he should be doing. It's a case of teenage rebellion at his finest. He knows what he is doing is wrong, but he does it anyway, embracing that frustrating phase that all adolescents go through, even the chosen one of the new Round Table.

Bowler once again hits the mark in setting his tale among movie stars and media moguls, the rich sequestered in their mansions in the hills, never bumping elbows with the throwaway kids on the star-lined streets. Lance flows between both cultures, at times painfully. He knows where he came from, his jaw will never fail to drop at the ostentation that surrounds him. He'll always miss the trickling water deep within the sewers lulling him to sleep. No matter how far up the social ladder he climbs, he's still acutely aware of being the only brown skinned boy at the party.

Lance might still be discovering who he is, trying to figure it out by reading people's Facebook comments about him online, but he can't fool his heart. It identifies with the downtrodden, the neglected, the marginalized. He's their knight and they'll always be his people. He's Hollywood all right, all sides of Hollywood.

***

Running Through a Dark Place can be purchased at:
Amazon

Prices/Formats: $4.99 ebook, $15.95 paperback
Pages: 388
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Release: May 12, 2014
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9780990306306
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of three novels - A Boy and His Dragon, A Matter of Time, and Children of the Knight - who grew up in San Rafael, California.

He majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara University and earned a master’s in film production from Loyola Marymount University, a teaching credential in English from LMU, and another master's in Special Education from Cal State University Dominguez Hills.

He partnered with two friends as producer, writer, and/or director on several ultra-low-budget horror films, including “Fatal Images,” “Club Dead,” and “Things II,” the reviews of which are much more fun than the actual movies.

He taught high school in Hawthorne, California for twenty-five years, both in general education and to students with learning disabilities, in subjects ranging from English and Strength Training to Algebra, Biology, and Yearbook.

He has also been a volunteer Big Brother to seven different boys with the Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a thirty-year volunteer within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles. He is a passionate advocate for the fair treatment of children and teens in California, something that is sorely lacking in this state. He has been honored as Probation Volunteer of the Year, YMCA Volunteer of the Year, California Big Brother of the Year, and 2000 National Big Brother of the Year. The “National” honor allowed he and three of his Little Brothers to visit the White House and meet the president in the Oval Office.

He has already written the four continuations of Children of the Knight that complete The Knight Cycle and all will be released in 2014.

He is currently at work on a new novel.

Links to connect with Michael:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog
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Freado
Blog Tour Site


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Monday, June 16, 2014

Brian G. Michaud - The Road to Nyn - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

In a land where magic is outlawed, a young boy is living a double life. Although Kay is training to be a knight, he has been secretly studying the forbidden ways of magic with Alamin, a powerful but eccentric wizard.

After passing of the Trial of the Rings and being raised to squirehood, Kay has decided to tell Alamin that he is going to leave his magical studies behind. And why not? Kay hasn’t ever cast a spell without something going seriously wrong–like the random appearance of frogs or hungry wolves–besides, Kay could be banished from the kingdom just for associating with Alamin.

Kay’s plans are quickly obliterated when a horde of goblins attacks his village and captures his family and friends. Now, with his home lying in ruins, everything has changed. Along with Alamin and Felix, a self-serving kleptomaniac sprite, Kay embarks on an adventure that takes him across the Kingdom of Gaspar and into the dark and treacherous caves of the Goblin Realm. What Kay doesn’t realize is that his journey is leading him on a collision course with the Lord of Nyn – a being so powerful that none dare face him...not even Alamin himself!


My Review

Ah, a book that promises to take me on a mythical quest. Sign me up! Just looking at the cover of A ROAD TO NYN, I knew I was in for a rollicking good time. Guide me through an enchanted forest any day, Brian Michaud. I'm game, especially when there's a hearty banquet waiting for me at the end inside a dyad's tree. But I don't want to get ahead of myself here. There's a lot that goes on before the feast. A pissed off mermaid for being pranked with red hair dye. A bewitched elven warrior chick whose loyalties are unknowingly compromised. A castle floating in midair that stops, waiting for you to get on like an amusement park ride. You get the drift. This road ain't for the faint of heart. Only the strong survive.

And thank goodness, we have Kay as our resident champion. He's willing to do whatever it takes to rescue his parents and sister, not to mention his entire town, from a goblin prison camp. He'll walk until his feet fall off and meet a lot of interesting characters along the way. Some who mean him harm, and some who wish to help. The key is finding out who's who. Even donning the Helm of Truth, sometimes Kay can't tell the difference. Not all is as it seems in the land of Nyn when there's a Dark Lord looking to turn every fact into a lie.

But he perseveres from steep mountain cliffs to the bottom of a lake, no place is safe, not even the underside of a waterfall. Danger lurks around every corner. Mostly because there's some fantastical creature living there from shape-shifting fairy sprites to cloaked and scaly lizards.

You will never forget your journey to Nyn. Your mind will venture back there long after reading. Trust me, you'll want to return whenever you can - because it's a world where anything is possible. And in the end, I think that's what every reader's really looking for.

***

The Road to Nyn can be purchased at:
Amazon

Prices/Formats: $0.99 ebook, $8.99 paperback
Pages: 266
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Release: November 2013
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9781493545551
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Brian G. Michaud lives in a small town in Massachusetts with his wife, Kim. When he is not reading or writing books, he can be found teaching music at a local elementary school or rocking out on guitar with the band, Too Loud.

Links to connect with Brian:
Web Site
Facebook (author)
Facebook (book)
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


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