Book Review: Public Affairs

20518222Title: Public Affairs
Author: Cassandra Carr
Publisher: C-Squared Publishing
Release Date: January 2014
Length: 166 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Romance/Erotica
Format: e-book
Source: Reading Group at Back Cover Promotions

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

Nate O’Halloran is a PR superstar, an expert in crisis management for his image-conscious celebrity clients. When his college roommate, now a hospital director in Buffalo, calls to beg for his help– a cancer researcher on staff has disappeared with millions of dollars’ worth of government research funds– Nate agrees to help right away, though this situation is pretty small potatoes for him.

Val Chase, the hospital’s PR director, is none too thrilled when Nate shows up; does it mean her boss doesn’t trust her to handle this mess herself? Against her better judgment, Val decides she and Nate have to work together to save the hospital’s reputation, though the explosive attraction they feel is making any actual “work” difficult…

Review

I loved the story line of this book. It was great, although I was disappointed with the CCC hospital board’s decision toward the end of the book. It was unfair, but as was pointed out, they needed a scapegoat.

Now, despite the story line, I felt there was too much of a push for the romance/erotica of the relationship between Val and Nate. Like, way too much. Too overdone, to over the top, given that there was little character development of either of them in this novel. Carr has used the story line as a smokescreen for the blatant erotica she dumped in this book. I was caught very off guard by the amount. Yes, the first few episodes were perfectly placed, but then it seemed as if that’s all the book was about, with Val trying to push Nate away with her own issues with casual sex. Every time I flipped a page, Val was throwing up an excuse as to why she and Nate could not be together…and then she’d end up in a steamy session with him right after the words left her lips! I can relate, I understand the battle between morals and desire, but this lady is the epitome of a hypocrite in this sense.

I understood Nate’s character – I know plenty of guys like him – but he came to a realization and went after what he wanted, even with his change of heart…but Val…I just couldn’t buy her character. It was too much, too hard to believe in her. Not authentic. 

The other negative I saw with this book was the ending. The story line was long and drug out, given the circumstances, but then all of a sudden it was like BOOM – THE END! The story line just stopped, and then it was the wrap up about Val and Nate. 

With a little tweaking here and there, and toning down the overt and out-of-place erotica in this novel, I feel that I would have loved it and raved about it…but I can’t. It did not feel like an authentic read. I would still stay give it a shot for the story line, and I would be interested in other’s opinions. 

4475585About the Author

Cassandra Carr is a multi-award winning erotic romance writer with Ellora’s Cave, Sybarite Seductions/Twenty or Less Press, Decadent Publishing, Siren Publishing, and Loose Id. She lives in Cassandra Carr is a multi-award winning romance writer. When not writing she enjoys watching hockey and hanging out online. Cassandra’s books have won numerous “Best Book Of” awards and her novella Unexpected Top was nominated in the E-book Erotic Romance category of RT’s Reviewers’ Choice Awards.

She thinks the best part of being a writer is how she writes about love and sex while most others struggle with daily commutes, micro-managing bosses and cranky co-workers. Her inspiration comes from everywhere, but she’d particularly like to thank the Buffalo Sabres, the hockey team near and dear to her heart.

Find the author: Website |Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

LGBT MONTH

e6eISMm

LGBT Month is hosted by Laura @ Laura Plus Books and Cayce @ Fighting Dreamer.
It runs throughout the month of April and it’s here to celebrate LGBT+ readers, LGBT+ authors and LGBT+ books.
There are really now rules! How awesome is that?
There will be different things during April: reviews, discussions, giveaways, guest posts, Twitter parties and MORE.  Anything goes as long as it’s somehow LGBT+ related.  You can do as many or as little as you want.
Suggested Ideas:
  • review one or two LGBT+ books or their movie adaptation
  • do a discussion post
  • post a list or playlist
  • do an interview with an LGBT+ author
  • give away an LGBT+ book
  • highlight your favorite LGBT+ author or favorite LGBT+ couple from a book you read 
There will also be a read-along!  It’s not compulsory for you to participate, but it will be a lot of fun! There are no set rules on how you have to read it, as long as you read together. Go vote for your choice!
At the beginning of each week, Laura and Cayce will post a Linky where you can link up your different posts/videos (and maybe win something at the end of the month).
To sign up…

– Link up to your blog/channel/Goodreads/Twitter on the Sign Ups page.  Your name @ Blog/Channel or Goodreads/Twitter.
– If you’re a blogger, grab the banner and do a quick sign up post.  If you’re a vlogger, mention it in a video.  If you’re not a b/vlogger, help spreading the word by tweeting about the event or mentioning it on Goodreads/Facebook.
– You can also grab the button to your sidebar.
Sign ups will be open until the end of April.

 

 

Book Review: Valley of Vice

18815232Title: Valley of Vice
Author: Steve Garcia
Publisher: Diversion Books
Release Date: August 2013
Length: 287 pages (paperback)
Series?: no?
Genre: Crime
Format: e-book
Source: agent

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

In Hollywood, it’s not just dreams that are easily snuffed out.

When a burned body is found on a studio lot, Detective Salvador Reyes and his partner Detective Philippa Wallace are on the scene. The mystery deepens when they identify the body as a felon named Bartholomew Pearl who should have been in jail for shooting a fellow detective. Then a city official, Theodor Simons, is found dead of an apparent suicide. 

Convinced the deaths are connected, and not everything is what it appears, Reyes and Wallace investigate. Their inquiries take a dangerous turn, pointing to someone in the police department itself. Soon it’s hard to know who is an enemy, and who is a friend.

Review

WOW. I don’t know if I can write a review that does this book justice. Steve Garcia has written an amazing novel that will keep you on your toes. True, there’s not much in terms of character development because it is a crime novel, but the unraveling of the cases that Wallace and Reyes (and the rest of their comrades in blue) will leave you turning page after page after page to discover who is behind all of the murders.

Wallace’s husband works for the FID, and he has become extremely stressed from his work. Finally, one night he tells his wife that they are working on an investigation in two specific PD’s where they think there is a dirty cop. Wallace keeps this thought close, but as things start unraveling it becomes harder and harder to recognize who is truly the good guy, and who is out for himself. I thought several times I knew who the dirty cop was, but I was proven wrong. Very wrong. And this dirty cop? He’s also a raging psycho, but somehow keeps it under wraps while on duty.

Wallace and Reyes are thorough in their investigations into several murders. In fact, they are the first to determine that the first murder and suicide are linked – and that they were both indeed homicide cases. Since FID has stepped in and taken over, there’s little for Wallace and Reyes to actually investigate without overstepping their bounds, so they find ways around it…and as the murders start piling up, it complicates the investigations and adds more and more questions to the mix. All they need is to find a man named Duke, who’s name was left in the councilman’s schedule book. Looking for Duke seems to be a wild goose chase with no leads.

Meanwhile, another pair of partners are sent to work with vice on a male prostitution sting. It’s not the best of assignments, but it’s their job. While working and monitoring the streets, another murder happens just down the street at an infamous hotel known to benefit from the local prostitution.

The officer who went undercover as a male prostitute is the cop who actually ends up identifying the psycho, dirty cop after the FID has essentially given up their investigation and turned over their findings to Wallace and Reyes…but they may just be too late to stop the final hit on his list.

I don’t know what it’s like to be a cop, or work in that environment, but I do believe that Gracia has strongly captured this in his novel. The relationships between partners, and others in their workforce, seems to be spot-on and adds to each character and gives authenticity to the novel as a whole.

I would definitely recommend this read! It is a very well-spun and slightly chilling read. I will admit: I read the entire novel in two settings, it was that good.

Guest Post: Christine Locke

Those Ah-Ha! Moments: Overcoming Block

by Christine Locke

Have you ever had one of those moments? I’ve struggled to finish my first series, not wanting to let it go. But I had an “ah-ha!” moment when I understood that the only way to truly own my first series was to let it end.

When I’m starting a new book, sometimes the cursor on the blank page can’t keep up with my typing speed. I like those days. At other times, though, odd problems present themselves. I wanted to finish the third book in The Legacy Series much earlier than I did, but I had another book demanding to be written. I’m sure part of the problem was that I didn’t want to say goodbye to my first series. I even flirted with saying that Out of Place was NOT the final book. The problem with was that if I was having trouble finishing book three, when would I ever finish book four? It was an odd several months, as I stared at the file for Out of Place, couldn’t get anywhere with it, and had to go work on the other novel that was calling me, compelling me, relentlessly demanding that I give it attention.

And then there was the ABNA project I blogged about last week—that was yet another distraction I had not expected.
So how did I finish Out of Place? First, I decided that I would tie up all the loose ends in book three and leave a path open for book four should anyone want that at a later date. Second, I set the task for Camp NaNoWriMo last year. And third, I had a friend read an early manuscript of the book, which is how I knew I made the right decision about the three-book series. In fact, I rewrote the ending based on her reading.

What helps me overcome a “block” situation, whether it’s a block on a project or writers’ block in general, is to GET WRITING. The best writers, and by best I suppose I really mean most successful, write all the time. I’m amazed at how prolific they are. And not everything that they write is “good.” They just keep writing–a lot.

If you read literature about creativity, you find that this is not something unique to creative writing. I’m reading Cracking Creativity, and the book deals extensively with how prolific the most successful creative people are, giving many examples. And Morgan Freeman examined a similar notion in his “Through the Wormhole” episode on luck, “Is Luck Real?” What appears to be good luck is actually statistically probable when you practice a great deal. And how many times have self-published authors shared that, ultimately, the secret to their success is not where they advertise or how many beta readers they had, but hitting a certain number of published books? Even the early, white-hot success stories of self-publishing, John Locke and Amanda Hocking, were extremely prolific rather than the recipients of great literary acclaim. I’ve also seen traditionally published authors mention the importance of a strong “backlist”–books that are already published that keep selling. You have to be prolific to have a backlist like that.

All of this makes sense. Have you ever “discovered” a new favorite author and purchased several of their older books because you liked the most recent one? Or, now that we have this fantastic thing called video streaming, do you find yourself adding an actress’ other movies because she was amazing in her latest? I do.

Creativity might have more to do with determination and discipline than luck or genetics or the blessings of a whimsical muse. If that’s true, overcoming “block,” success in writing, and even making a living at writing could be all about one’s ability to just WRITE. Given an adequate knowledge of story structure, grammar and punctuation, etc., this may truly be the case.

I can say that one of the most liberating experiences I am having in my early writing career is finishing old projects. Even if they end up in boxes under my bed, knowing that my early novels are no longer “unfinished” empowers my current projects. Soon, I will no longer be an “aspiring writer” with unfinished manuscripts lying around in tattered binders. My old stories, for better or worse, will be done. And the experience of completing them is priceless. I have a much better idea of how NOT to structure a novel. (Never again will I just sit down and expect the muse to take me where the story wants to go…that was a big waste of time!) Sometimes I even have an outline. In fact, for next month’s Camp NaNoWriMo, I have an honest-to-God story board.

I’ve learned to remember that bad writing can be fixed later. The important thing is to get the writing done. Get that ending scene in mind and chart a course. Then, Go! It’s not just the vital thing. It’s the only thing.

If I can move my fingers over my keyboard, I’m not blocked. If I can make an outline with colored pens, I’m not blocked. If I can count out flashcards and divide an “act” of my novel into scenes and arrange them on a board, I’m not blocked.
And if I’m not blocked, I can write.

I’m sharing this post on a blog for readers because I’m always interested to know what compels another writer to write. But I also know that many avid readers are writers—or at least, they will be someday. I’m sharing in the hopes that readers will find my own struggles instructive or informative in a way that is useful to them.out of place

As Charlie requested, I’m happy to share information for Out of Place. The manuscript is in the final stages of editing (my beta readers are trying out that new ending). You can check my blog for information on the release. And I do hope Charlie will be writing a review, so keep checking back here as well!

Out of Place

The story structure for Out of Place moves between 1988 and 2012 as a modern-day Carin Mallace seeks the help of her younger self. We will see Carin avenge her father’s death, uncover the sinister plot of yet another malicious Mallace, and watch Carin and Griffin get married on Christmas day. We learn all about the happily-ever-after for Carin’s mother, Amanda, and we learn that Griffin and Carin have a daughter, Christina. In 2012, Christina is 18 and falling in love. Out of Place wraps up loose ends for The Legacy Series while leaving the door open for future books in the series.

About the Author

7da9d3fa0efb0ad8956ee0.L._V396534113_SY470_Christine Locke was born in California and grew up in various locations around the United States as a Navy brat. She was the oldest of six children and today is mother and step-mother to seven. She attended Texas A&M University, receiving her Master of Arts degree in Comparative Literature in 1995.

Christine has worked as a writing instructor, a salesperson, and an award-winning retail manager and management trainer, among other things. Today, she co-ordinates makeovers for a local magazine. She and her husband, Mike, live with their children, two dogs, and two cats in Arkansas.

For years, Christine has been writing novels around her work and family life. Open Door is her first published novel.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Book Review: In Time

16282463Title: In Time
Author: Christine Locke
Release Date: December 2012
Length: 161 pages
Series?: The Legacy #2
Genre: YA Paranormal/Mystery
Format: e-book
Source: author

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

“Remember only this: magic must be used. Magic grows over time, and its time must not be wasted. Never forget that.” So warns Anna, the last witch of the Mallace family line.

Carin inherits Mallace Mansion only to learn her life there will not be what she expected. Magic grows, time slips, and Carin meets an enemy she never knew she had.

Carin’s isolation grows as Griffin pulls away and darkness draws near. Then, Carin learns a secret Anne Mallace never had time to tell her.

At Mallace Mansion, ghosts may haunt young Carin, but she’s learned to deal with them. To survive the Legacy, Carin finds she must make peace with her past. Trouble is, she’s not sure she can do it.

Review

This is the second installment of the Legacy Series. My review of the first book, Open Door, is available here.

I said the first book strung readers along and left us hanging. Well, Locke has done it again! Except this time, I had absolutely no idea where this mysterious  train of a book was headed.

Carin is now fully recognized as the heir to Mallace Mansion, and sees to its every need. Anne’s ghost is no longer the old, guiding light she was for Carin in the first book. Now she has reverted to a much younger image of herself, and is not quite the same as readers saw her in the first book.

This book largely follow’s Carin’s depression and reliving of her attack during the summer, which took place in the first book (Open Door). It was really hard for me to get through reading the first 30% or so of the book because it was all about Carin fearing her attack, having nightmares, thinking about her attack, being scared and sad, and using her anchor to Mallace Mansion as a crutch not to leave (even to go into town for needed items) even more.

I don’t know how I didn’t catch this in the first book, given how sinister it turned out to be with the unknowns of the Legacy and crazy Aunt Helen, but Mallace Mansion….Mallace…bad…evil…harm…Hmmmmm. Just a thought to keep in mind.

Carin’s mother Amanda has officially moved to town, taken up residence and is using her true name and identity: Amanda Mallace. She has bought a quaint little home and is no longer on the run from the Legacy.

Carin has her Protector, Griffin, as part of the fulfillment of the Legacy…until he tells her he is going to be away for a while, with little explanation or information.

Meanwhile, Carin has tutors come to the mansion to continue her education, and she finds two very unexpected house guests at Mallace Mansion. Anne recommends a certain journal to Carin to retrieve. Carin ignores Anne’s suggestion, and takes the journal of a notoriously infamous Legacy holder who was quite pessimistic and in my opinion just a downright prissy, dramatic brat. Reading Leticia’s journal starts to have funny effects on Carin’s thoughts about her relationships – and actually has a negative impact on her actions towards Griffin.

Carin’s first house guest is another Legacy holder – sent from another time, another country. This visitor has learned that Carin has fought the darkness – an evil thing that can take any form that has haunted Legacies – trying to control and destroy and create chaos. Carin has a few run-ins with the darkness. She has to find a way to save Mallace Mansion and its power from the darkness. She uses Anne and her new visitor as resources…as well as her second visitor, who has actually been a resident of Mallace Mansion since its inception. This resident, though, is not what she seems to be. Her motives are not pure, and she has a very ugly side that Carin soon sees.

I don’t feel that Carin had as much character growth in this installment as she did in the first, but readers do see more aspects of her life: her relationship with Griffin, her relationships with her mother, and new relationships with her new guests.

I enjoyed learning about the history of the Legacy in the first book, and more history was revealed in this book, but I will say that this book was a little harder to follow. I felt there was a jump somewhere in the storyline that was not a smooth transition. I felt like I was missing a chapter out of the book. 

About the Author

7da9d3fa0efb0ad8956ee0.L._V396534113_SY470_Christine Locke was born in California and grew up in various locations around the United States as a Navy brat. She was the oldest of six children and today is mother and step-mother to seven. She attended Texas A&M University, receiving her Master of Arts degree in Comparative Literature in 1995.

Christine has worked as a writing instructor, a salesperson, and an award-winning retail manager and management trainer, among other things. Today, she co-ordinates makeovers for a local magazine. She and her husband, Mike, live with their children, two dogs, and two cats in Arkansas.

For years, Christine has been writing novels around her work and family life. Open Door is her first published novel.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, How does your bookshelf grow?

My book collection – yes, collection – has morphed over the years.

In high school, I remember having a regular-sized plastic Target bag of about five or six random books that my aunt bought me the summer I stayed with her. Of course, she picked them out, so they weren’t really my “thing,” but that’s all I had that were my books before I graduated high school. Those books are somewhere under my bunk bed at my parents’, probably being a companion to the box of tapes I accumulated as a pre-teen. (Yes, before CD players!)

With our recent move, my books have now been able to come out of the boxes they were put in back in July. It was a hard thing for me to pack them all away and not see them, but now they are back! Since we have moved and gotten the absolute necessities unpacked – clothes, toilet paper, shower, food – I got to spend some quality time one night unpacking my boxes of books, which had grown from two from the move in July to three with the Great March Move. I had five piles of books under my nightstand that I bought since August, and it all fit perfectly in a third box. D locked himself and the dog in the bedroom one night and let me pour over my books for hours. Smart guy, right?

Without further ado, this is how my bookshelf has grown…

Jan 12

c. August 2011

247634_10151085835417643_976094321_n

c. December 2011

April 13

c. April 2013

*There was another photo taken after the one above, but prior to the move (below) where the books on the top shelf were piled sky high, about four feet, but I can’t find the photo. 😦

8449_10151534711372643_1120056196_n

8464_10151534728437643_2124180393_n

c. July 2013

Mar 14

March 2014

1743449_10152048174982643_1589268505_n

This is my physical TBR pile – everything from The Help and below on the top shelf, and the entire first shelf.

[Game of Thrones are D’s…even though he bought me the series for Christmas….]

10152460_10152048175062643_1671902613_n

This is my wonderful collection of YA (now hidden on the bookshelf behind another stack of books), and my classics (also double stacked).

1972322_10152048174897643_1640476184_n

Books I started gathering in 2013 for my classroom that have been packed away since July. Finally going to the classroom!

10001458_10152048174952643_870854788_n

Books I decided I could part with without getting hung up over them.

1458436_10152048175327643_2035664455_n

From Brit Lit…this book and the assignments nearly killed me! Thank God it was all downhill from there!

10013953_10152048175187643_386662387_n

Also from Brit Lit. I fell in LOVE with this book. It broke my heart.

10150737_10152048175107643_397943760_n

Some of the reading requirements from my Adolescent Literature class, which I had to take to become a teacher.

10012559_10152048175392643_601484162_n

An old birthday present several years ago from my best friend. I still had the note tucked away inside!

1922415_10152048175217643_285303068_n

I am still in chapter 12 of Gone with the Wind. I started reading it as a sophomore in college, determined to get it crossed of my 100 Books from the BBC list

….

I also stopped reading it as a sophomore in college. I will read it, though!

10003529_10152048175287643_701101801_n

Ironic that I found this inside of Gone with the Wind? I knew my future self would find some humor in it.

What’s on your bookshelf?

Book Review: Open Door

15743009Title: Open Door
Author: Christine Locke
Release Date: June 2012
Length: 147 pages
Series?: The Legacy #1
Genre: YA Paranormal/Mystery
Format: e-book
Source: author

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

Even the most eerie haunting is just a secret, living in a darkened room with open doors, more shunned than unknown. All around it know it well yet wish to live as if they did not. Children whisper, adults hush, and legends grow. Everyone grows up acquainted, everyone learns to hide, and nothing blasts through the hypocrisy like the entrance of an outsider—unless it is the arrival of two of them. 

Carin White, 16 and in need of a summer job, agrees to help Aunt Helen move into her inherited property, Mallace Estate. In the mansion’s sprawling attic, Carin finds a large scrapbook with a familiar photograph. The first step on a perilous journey through dark secrets, meandering passageways, hidden chambers and murderous intentions, Carin’s discovery unveils her personal destiny and its required sacrifices. Mid-way through the story, a terrifying event compels Carin to make choices about who she is and how she will allow her world to see her. 

This novel does not involve vampires, werewolves, or fallen angels; it is a story about magic. An ancient but contained force enlivens Mallace Mansion, so the gothic house is a character in the story. The mansion’s life requires food, so it does occasionally consume a visitor. But such activity is kept to a minimum when a powerful woman controls the Legacy. Is Carin strong enough? Read The Legacy Series and find out.

Review

I have never quite encountered a book like this. Locke leaves much to the imagination, and let’s face it: she strings along her readers! I had no idea where Carin was headed, or what lay ahead for her. Her book is as much a mystery as Carin’s life has been up to this point.

I couldn’t ever quite figure out how old Carin was from reading the novel, but I learned quickly that even though she was shipped off to work for her “aunt” for the summer at her aunt’s newly-inherited mansion and grounds, she strictly followed her mothers rules. Indeed, she shares a moment in her past as a young child when she was hungry and ate a candy bar in the hotel room she shared with her mom, for which she earned a stringent lashing and had to purchase the candy bar out of her pitiful piggy bank.

I immensely enjoyed Anne Mallace when she showed up, and things started falling into place. More of the picture was revealed, but Locke still kept  me on the hook. In the end, Carin is faced with a surprising foe. I was shocked; I never saw it coming.

I enjoyed reading about the history of the legacy, and all of the intricacies of it and Mallace Mansion. I also grew fond of Carin as the book progressed. She is a sweet, kind soul, but quickly shows she’s smart as a whip and doesn’t let others cow her or two-time her. She grew into a nice little character, in my opinion.

This is a rather quick read, and I recommend giving this mysterious Legacy a chance.

About the Author

7da9d3fa0efb0ad8956ee0.L._V396534113_SY470_Christine Locke was born in California and grew up in various locations around the United States as a Navy brat. She was the oldest of six children and today is mother and step-mother to seven. She attended Texas A&M University, receiving her Master of Arts degree in Comparative Literature in 1995.

Christine has worked as a writing instructor, a salesperson, and an award-winning retail manager and management trainer, among other things. Today, she co-ordinates makeovers for a local magazine. She and her husband, Mike, live with their children, two dogs, and two cats in Arkansas.

For years, Christine has been writing novels around her work and family life. Open Door is her first published novel.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads