Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Arse Up? Am I doing it backwards?

This article is not intended to devalue the promotional material that should always accompany any book related blog content.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m new to blogging. I’ve read a few articles and I’ve checked out various other blogs as my interest has been peaked (usually by a rather clever tweet). What I’ve seen with the exception of a few cases, is that we all seem to follow the same format.

Book reviews, cover reveals, teasers, guest posts and interviews generally consist of:
  • The book details (Title, Author, Publisher)
  • The book cover
  • The summary
  • Purchase details
  • Maybe an excerpt
  • The author photo
  • The author bio
  • The author contacts (Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Website)

Whatever item you, yourself are hosting, the original content that you provide is often inserted somewhere after the summary. So I find myself wondering whenever I write a review, am I better off my placing my content first? It’s not selfishness that makes me question this, but it does occur to me, especially for new releases that all that stuff we place above our own thoughts, reviews, questions and comments... it’s stuff people have read before! 

This leads me to ask two questions...

Am I losing my audience as they skim through the promotional collateral to get to my content?

As a blogger, where my ideas are essentially the point of the blogging exercise, why am I not leading with my content first?

If my review is positive, then I would hope my words are enough to convince the reader to continue on to the book details. In fact, I think a real measure of success would be to convince a reader to reconsider an author they had previously sworn off. I could write the best tweets to lead you to my blog, but if, when you get there the first thing you saw was a cover for an author you didn’t like... would you even scroll down to my content?

Soooo... for the next little while, I’m going to shake up the format, I might even lead with the dreaded ratings! Who knows? Maybe I’ll like the results? Maybe you’ll like the results? It’s like Sheldon’s “anything can happen Thursday”, but not? (Big Bang Theory)


Credit to:
Warning gifs
Checklist gifs
Question Mark gif
Big Bang Theory gifs

Smart Girl, Dumb Love. 3 Stories by Kelsye Nelson. The Breakup Girl: Volume 1

Smart Girl, Dumb Love

3 Stories by Kelsye Nelson

The Breakup Girl: Volume 1


Five Things You’ll Hate About Me
Surprise and Disbelief

Girl on a Hot Tin Roof

BONUS STORY: Osaka at Night (excerpt)

Available from Amazon

For the most part I like the way Kelsye Nelson writes, the four short stories featured in Smart Girl, Dumb Love / The Break Up Girl: Volume One had an element of speed to them. They were quick to read and the events seemed to unfold quickly as well. For the first two stories Five Things You’ll Hate About Me and Surprise and Disbelief,  I think the speed worked well. For the remaining two stories, I would have preferred to see greater detail and little more depth. 

Five Things You’ll Hate About Me isn’t so much a story with a plot line as much as it is the self analysis about a girl and her rather blunt appraisal of her selfishness that she knows you will come to hate. Yes, it’s bald, fast and a little “matter of fact” but I found that technique quite effective in displaying the real person behind the revelations. We all have character flaws, some of us even acknowledge them, most of us though, like this girl only admit to faults in a superficial capacity. Yep, this me, MOVE ON! 

Surprise and Disbelief, this story really resonated with me. I remember being this girl, in another life time. Not so much because of her desire to be a Good Person and the number of times that she Failed at it, but because I remember the nice guys and no matter how perfect they were, they were never quite acceptable until they were... you know... Not Nice Guys At All! What is it with this flawed need to be treated Mean by men? 

This story also touches on the concept of First Love, so if the Bad Boy Interest doesn’t strike a chord, I’m betting the concept of returning to your First Love, again and again, (in your heart, if not in actuality) will be something most readers can relate to.

Girl on a Hot Tin Roof. This story, I felt had a lot of potential that it just didn’t meet and I blame it on the same pacing that made the two earlier stories work. I just don’t feel that you can skip over stories of angst like this. When people feel afraid it’s usually not a selfish response, and you don’t “get over” such encounters very quickly. If this story is ever extended upon, if the main character is ever given the depth she deserves, if the voyeuristic construction workers are ever given a conscience, or if even a genuine shred of their inner sickness is delved into... I would love to read that story!

Osaka at Night was another quickly paced story, in this instance the skipping over details kind of gave credence to a drunken evening with friends where the details few and what memories you have would be fuzzy, but I honestly just couldn’t see the point in this one at all, but I guess that would be because what I read was just an excerpt. However, this particular segment would not spark in me an interest to read the rest of Osaka at Night

My Rating


Overall I would give these stories a 3/5. Each story is quick and they’re light, but they could be sooooo much more. I also think the expected price of $1.99 for 6000 words, is a bit pricey.

About the author
Kelsye Nelson is co-founder and CEO of, an online marketplace that helps authors find the help they need to achieve their publishing goals. The Breakup Girl series is Kelsye’s opportunity to stop talking about indie publishing so much and actually do it herself. She’s having a great time!

Twitter: @Kelsye
Facebook: Kelsye Nelson

I obtained an ARC from the Author with a view to providing an services as a Beta Reader and publishing an honest review. The thoughts expressed above, are entirely my own. I don’t really like the concept of rating novels as they are subjective and subject to change. A five star book today, may be re-evaluated when compared to future novels.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Mine to Take by Cynthia Eden

Available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Connect with the Cynthia Eden using GoodreadsTwitterWebsite

Mine to Take by Cynthia Eden

Sometimes you want someone so much…
Sometimes you need someone so much…
Lust can become love.
And love can turn into a deadly obsession.


Skye Sullivan knows that someone is watching her. Not just watching—stalking her. Months ago, Skye was involved in a dangerous car accident. The accident ended her dancing career and sent her fleeing back to Chicago. Skye is convinced that her stalker caused the crash, and she fears that he won’t stop pursuing her, not until she’s dead.

When someone breaks into her apartment in Chicago, Skye turns to the one man she believes can protect her—Trace Weston. Once, Trace was her lover. Two lost souls, they’d come together in a firestorm of need and desire. But then Trace had pushed her away. He’d joined the military, vanishing from her life. She’d put all of her emotion into dancing, and she’d tried to forget him.

Now Trace is one of the most successful men in the United States. Rich, driven, and carrying dark secrets, he agrees to help Skye. He’ll protect her from the danger that lurks in the darkness, but Trace wants more than to just be a guard for Skye.

He wants her. And he’ll take her. The years have changed him, hardened him. He’s not just a poor kid from the streets any longer. Now, he can have anything—or anyone—that he wants. And the one woman he has always wanted has just come back into his life. He won’t let her go again.

But with the threats mounting against Skye, she suspects that her stalker may be intimately close. He’s a man who knows her too well. As his attacks grow ever more dangerous, she realizes that if she trusts the wrong man, she could be making a fatal mistake.

Lust. Love. Obsession.

Just how far would you go in order to possess the one person you want the most?

Author's Note: MINE TO TAKE is a sexy romantic suspense novella—it contains approximately 41,000 words. MINE TO TAKE is intended for adults. Sexy situations and adult language will be found within the pages of this story—please consider yourself warned.

About the Author

New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Cynthia Eden has written over thirty novels and novellas. She was named as a 2013 RITA® finalist for her paranormal romance, ANGEL IN CHAINS, and, in 2011, Cynthia Eden was a RITA finalist for her romantic suspense, DEADLY FEAR.

Cynthia is a southern girl who loves horror movies, chocolate, and happy endings. She has always wanted to write (don't most authors say that?), and particularly enjoys creating stories about monsters-vampires, werewolves, and even the real-life monsters who populate her romantic suspense stories.

My Interest
If I am perfectly honest, I have to admit to the world and myself that I am sucker for affairs of the heart that go astray as a result of a misunderstanding. It’s a soft sell really. No one is to blame; the gentleman is not a cad, the heroine is not evil... it’s just a series of unfortunate events - and possibly all the more frustrating because of it!

Mine to Take is almost that kind of story. It’s not exactly a misunderstanding that forces “an obviously destined to be together couple” apart, but the separation is not the fault of neither the guy (Trace) nor the girl (Skye). No spoliers here though, “so that’s all I’ve got to say about that” (Forrest Gump)

Plot and Pacing
Both the Plot and the Pacing in Mine to Take were solid. I was enthralled from beginning to the end. Enough information was divulged to keep me keen, with trail confusing tidbits that also kept me wondering “who the hell is the stalker?” This agony was made much worse when the hero Trace himself became a suspect? That was a real “NO WAY... devo!!!” moment! And that wasn’t the only such moment (poor Skye).

If you skip to my rating below you’ll notice I’ve given this story 4+ Daisies. The only reason this story didn’t make the full 5 is because of one small little teensy tiny detail at the end. I can’t say much about it (I’ve made a solemn pledge to myself not to leave spoilers) but when the stalker is finally revealed, you come to understand a previous event in a new light and I just thought it was poorly done. Perhaps a subtle suggestion woven into a chapter or two earlier would have helped me to believe that little circumstance. 

The Characters
Skye and Trace (I don’t like the names, but I’m not their parent so...) Wow! Those two are perfect together. They (and their relationship) were so well described that I found myself getting butterflies as I read. My tummy would flip flop and I felt like a young girl in the throws of her very first love. Honestly how many authors do you know that can create such a realistic relationship so as to inspire a physical response (not including the raunchy ones that inspire a physical response of a different kind)? Anyways that is an author I will follow. 

My Rating

I obtained an ARC from the publisher with a view to providing an honest review. The thoughts expressed above, are entirely my own. I don’t really like the concept of rating novels as they are subjective and subject to change. A five star book today, may be re-evaluated when compared to future novels.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

All Over You by Beverley Kendall

All Over You by Beverley Kendall

Connect with the Author using TwitterFaceBookGoodreads

Available from... iTunesAmazonBarnes and NobleKobo and Smashwords


A year later and the term hot and Scott are still hopelessly entwined in my mushier-than-oatmeal brain. Maybe it’s the whole rhyming thing.
Or maybe I’m thinking about him because lately he’s been driving me insane. I swear, these days every time I turn around, he’s there watching me in this brooding sort of way and looking annoyingly sexy while he’s at it. Honestly, it’s enough to drive a girl to drink. A lot.
Anyway, that’s what tonight is all about: going out, having fun and hooking up with a super-hot, leave-Scott-in-the-dust guy. I refuse to spend another weekend like I’ve spent too many this last year: smiling on the outside and going through the motions of moving forward, when inside I’m standing absolutely still.
I need to move on with my life.
Scott and I are over. Done. Finis. Kaput. Our relationship coffin has long been nailed shut. And I should know because I’m the one who’d swung the hammer hard enough to make it impossible for even a crowbar to pry the damn thing back open.
Time. To. Move. On. Rebecca.
Which is exactly what I plan—correction—what I am going to do tonight.
My Review
My Interest
An ex of mine once philosophised that you should never go back, moving forward is the key. It’s not a very happy thought for those whose love has gone awry, though sometimes I can concede the point. Generally you break up with someone for a reason, so it’s conceivable that second chance romances are doomed to fail. Yes it’s conceivable, but letting go of a loved one is often the hardest thing to do. You’re letting go of more than just a person. You’re letting go of dream, a plan, an identity. Sometimes your letting go of even more than that.
I loved the snippet above. The smoldering nature of Scott and Rebecca’s unresolved breakup. How is it that people split up, when they really don’t want to? I wanted to know and I wanted to see them overcome whatever it was and get on with a lifetime of loving.
Plot and Pacing
I was a little bit disappointed with the beginning of this novel. Rebecca is quite young and I found that disconcerting. What reads as a wry self depreciating sense of humour in the excerpt translated as immaturity in the novel. Shock, shudder and GASP... could I actually be too old to appreciate this novel? Don’t ask, I absolutely wont answer that. Ok so maybe I’m not 20 anymore but I can still enjoy an angsty new adult romance. I love those novels.
Happily this novel picked up the pace soon enough, and I found myself wanting to know Scott’s secret. What wasn’t he telling Rebecca? I wanted to google him (google a fictional character) because Beverley Kendall the author wasn’t in a hurry to disclose that information. Since google was the majority of the reason Scott was keeping his secret, then I guess his (and Ms Kendall’s) motivation to keep certain things hidden played out well in the novel.
The Characters
Rebecca as the heroine of this particular tale, was consistently portrayed throughout, fortunately her stubbornness didn’t overrule her libido in the bedroom or things with Scott might never have been resolved. The reason for her reluctance to try again, without giving anything away also leant an element of truth to the story. 
Scott, however was quite adept in reading Rebecca in one scene, and surprisingly unaware in the next. I would have like to seen his insight into her motivations more consistently portrayed throughout the novel. He allowed the love of his life to push him away after a rather pivotal event and did not seem to realise what it was that Rebecca was really running from, it certainly wasn’t Scott. 
Something Extra
Two other characters, whose romantic life intrigued me, were introduced in this novel. My hope is that since this book is promoted as An Unforgettable You Novella, their story will feature in another of Beverley Kendall’s works. Isn’t that the real litmus test of an author to a reader, would I read more by that person... In this case. Yes, yes I would.
My Rating

I obtained an ARC from the publisher with a view to providing an honest review. The thoughts expressed above, are entirely my own. I don’t really like the concept of rating novels as they are subjective and subject to change. A five star book today, may be re-evaluated when compared to future novels.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

After the Kiss, a classic love story where romance is the risk.

After the Kiss by Lauren Layne

Follow on Twitter and Goodreads

Available in KindleNook


Julie Greene has built a career out of falling in love. Literally. She’s Stiletto magazine’s resident expert on perfecting the first kiss and assessing whether or not he’ll call.

But when her latest writing assignment requires knowledge of relationships after the puppy-love phase, Julie faces a startling realization: she doesn’t know the first thing about staying in love. 

To figure out what’s supposed to happen after the third date, Julie seeks out the most boring, reliable guy in all of New York. Mitchell Forbes has “long-term relationship” written all over his 401k. He’s calm, practical and utterly dull. Exactly the type of man she’s always avoided. 

But Julie’s surprised to learn that Mitchell’s steady dependability is more than a little sexy; and that having someone to lean on is actually sort of…nice. Soon Julie’s feelings for Mitchell have nothing to do with her research and everything to do with her heart. 

But will he forgive her when he learns that their relationship’s been based on a lie?

My Review

After the Kiss, a classic love story where romance is the risk. 

Falling in love is risk for anyone, but for Julie and Mitchell it literally is, a gamble. Julie needs to meander through the dating game and write an article about how you take relationships to the next level. Mitchell has made a wager and top tickets to the next baseball season are on the line, all he needs to do is... not take a relationship to the next level.

What makes two people “click”? Sometimes it’s kismet, love at first sight. Often it’s a heated case of opposites attract. I don’t think I’m giving too much away when I say, this is obviously not a case of love at first sight. Julie is a columnist. Mitchell is Wall Street personified. Julie is pro first date, first kiss and nothing much beyond that. Mitchell wants to settle down, and get married. He’s got a plan, actually he’s got a checklist (yep - seriously) and Julie is not the kind of wife material he had in mind.

These two character’s eye each other from opposite sides of MOMA (one of my favourite places in the world). Separately they make some rather stereotypical and unflattering assumptions about the other and on the basis of that they each determine that the object of their observations is perfect for the task at hand. Said objects, are also so romantically unsuitable on a permanent level, that surely no lasting harm would come to either of them?

**Cue incorrect answer sound effect

The trick to stories like this is making the protagonists believable. The reasoning has to ring true and the character’s ability to justify their behaviour and their goals also needs to be convincing.  This is where Lauren Layne the author excels. I fell in love with Julie and Mitchell as they plotted and manipulated, each trying to gain the upper hand. Essentially what they were doing was deplorable, almost unredeemable and yet I adored their antics and how they battled their own desires and then their own consciences. I was on the cheer team, routing for them all the way. I was shredding my pom poms and hurling the debris at “Kelli with a freaking i” and the trouble she caused. If ever a witch deserved to lose her prized ruby slippers, it is Kelli!!!

The writing was also fantastic. I highlighted so much of the book that I thought was quotable, apt, visual or just plain clever. Julie (our diabolical heroine) was researching for an article, she always writes from a unique personal perspective, so it was quite appropriate that little events were often commented on as potential headlines and chapters. It gave an element of truth to the novel that carried all the way through.

Many romance novels are the same, after you’ve read a few you get a bit jaded about them. It becomes harder to impress a reader, and more challenging to inspire a heart felt response. I truly enjoyed this book and I think that’s why I loved it so much. After the Kiss is a familiar tale with a fresh delivery. I would happily read more novels by Lauren Layne.

My Rating



I obtained an ARC from the publisher with a view to providing an honest review. The thoughts expressed above, are entirely my own. I don’t really like the concept of rating novels as they are subjective and subject to change. A five star book today, may be re-evaluated when compared to future novels.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

One Heart to Win by Johanna Lindsey

One Heart to Win

Johanna Lindsey

Published by Simon and Schuster


Some young ladies marry for money and social standing, a few lucky ones marry for love, but Tiffany Warren is marrying to end a feud. Honoring her mother’s wishes, Tiffany reluctantly travels west to meet her estranged father and his enemy’s eldest son, rancher Hunter Callahan. Once the Warrens and the Callahans are united by marriage, both clans will stop squabbling over a disputed strip of land. But in the chaos of a train robbery Tiffany seizes a golden opportunity: By assuming the identity of her father’s new housekeeper she can live with the father she never knew and assess his true character, as well as that of the neighboring cowboy to whom she is betrothed. But, too late, Tiffany discovers that the rivalry between the Warrens and the Callahans has escalated when the Callahans steal the Warrens’ “housekeeper” as soon as she steps off the train! 

Now Tiffany, masquerading as Jennifer Fleming, finds herself living in the enemy camp, under the same roof as her fiancé. All too soon she learns her intended is a handsome, sweet-talking charmer whom she has to fight off because he can’t keep his eyes—or his hands—off Jennifer. After Tiffany’s charade is exposed, she refuses to marry Hunter, not even to end the hostilities between the families. How can she wed a man who is in love with another woman? As Hunter goes about claiming his rightful bride-to-be, he knows that although he loves two women— proper, elegant Tiffany as well as spunky, passionate Jennifer—he has only one heart to win.


My initial impression of this book is hard to gauge. I have long been a fan of Johanna Lindsey, this is her 50th book and I would wager that I have read half of them. Many at a time when my reading was so prolific and generally focused on Romance, you know, those young fanciful years when a girl genuinely believes that wild cowboys can be tamed, where the most heartless of rogues could learn that there is one spell binding woman who could fill their empty aching lives. I was once that girl. I have not been without romance, I have indeed met my soul mate and enjoy a rather blissful and fulfilling relationship. 

BUT, my tastes have broadened and grown. I am not so mainstream, happily ever after anymore. I love a bit of risk, and I totally enjoy a bit of risqué fun as well. So in recent years, I have not read much of Johanna Lindsey's work. One Heart to Win,  was a difficult purchase to make. Had I grown beyond these fanciful tales? I had read other historic romances recently that had fallen flat despite some rather tempting story lines. I returned to Johanna Lindsey to determine if I would still like the genre, that perhaps it was these other authors telling an inferior tale, not the genre that I was disenchanted with. 

One Heart to Win was a bit on the slow side to start. I think it was ten (10) chapters in before Tiffany and Hunter actually met and then there were references to a dangerous gunslinger that made me doubt the summary was a true representation of the novel? Was this really about Hunter and Tiffany? Sure there was background information, and all of it later proved mostly necessary to the story. It wasn't boring background... An unexplained mystery of Tiffany and her mother's separation from the rest of the family, a great train journey, a robbery and a kidnapping. My, my, my a faint hearted girl would surely swoon from it all. As a romance reader though, what I really wanted was to get lost in the angst of new love, to revel in the conflict of what is right and what the heart insists upon. This is where Johanna Lindsey excels.

I loved the development of the relationship between Hunter and Tiffany, it was complicated by secrets, it was enhanced by sexual tension, it was torn apart by an untimely revelation and restored with the help of... of a pig, of all things. Yes a sweet little piglet! I defy you all to put a piggy in the midst of your romance story and pull that off successfully. The point is that Johanna Lindsey's characters are engaging and multi-faceted in ways that are both endearing and surprising. 

There was much, much more to the story than that, but I don't want to give too much away. 
Suffice to say, that I loved it. It's been a long time since I read a Johanna Lindsey historic romance. It's like coming home... some authors know how to hit the sweet spot.

Disclaimer: This review is totally unsolicited. I bought the story and chose to review it. The opinions expressed are my own.