Friday, 31 July 2015

The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook


The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men is an unauthorized compilation of recipes for the ultimate Mad Men fan. Pulled from other cookbooks of the era, each cocktail, appetizer, salad, main course, and dessert featured has a prologue with a Mad Men reference and a bit of history.

If you are looking for a fun gift for a Mad Men fanatic, this little gimmick will do the trick. I'd wrap this book up with a set of martini glasses and stir sticks and call it a day. However, if you are looking for excellent recipes for a period themed party or just to whip something up, I'd look elsewhere. Without the accompaniment of the Mad Men prologues, the recipes themselves are pretty lackluster. A pack of onion soup and two cups of sour cream (the same recipe on the side of a Lipton box) is actually in there. It's cute and, frankly, has always been my favorite dip—but if I'm honest, I would never use this book for any actual cooking. Devoid of the traditional photographs of finished and cooked recipes, it misses the mark there. What it does have are fun pictures of Mad Men themed products, places, and period ingredients. And so, with it coming in at under $13 for a paperback copy, I would absolutely recommend this as a gift for any Mad Men enthusiast.

I'd like to thank Net Galley and the publisher Smart Pop for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion, which this is.


Amazon Link: The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

To The Promised Land - Michael Boylan (Promo)



Title: To The Promised Land

Author: Michael Boylan

Genre: Literary Fiction / Mystery

Every student leaving the protected grounds of school wonders: must I now throw away my ideals, or can they guide me through the rough-and-tumble city? The philosopher Socrates’s descent into the bloodsports of business and politics was called “ketabasis.” But for the old college friends Moses and Peter, it is betrayal and murder found in Michael Boylan’s fast-paced and gripping novel, To the Promised Land. Can their friendship, and their morals, survive in the Washington world of corporate crime, backstabbing bosses, floundering do-gooder groups, and a media ravenous for scandal? The old adage, “Do no harm,” is pulverized in Washington’s internecine power-struggles: for nearly every action brings an unexpected harm, and several enemies. Moses leaves the law, seeking atonement for shielding a company that poisoned a town; Peter leaves the small world of the campus, and takes up a controversial campaign to alter affirmative action, seemingly to bring about “the greater good.” Their threads of ethics must do battle against lawyers, private detectives, secretive lobbyists and, looming over all, the charge of first-degree murder. Boylan sets philosophical passions, and an engaged dialogue about forgiveness, inside a film-noir world, where affection, family loyalty, and trust come under threat. Propulsive and witty, To the Promised Land is smart about ideas, and smart about people negotiating justice and power in public life.

—David Gewanter. Professor of English, Georgetown University.

Michael Boylan’s thought-provoking novel, “To the Promised Land,” is a gem. Read it for its suspense-filled, fast-paced action, for the philosophic insights its characters raise as easily as they breathe, or for probing its main mysteries: why did Moses Levi disappear; why did he send his journal to his college roommate; and, more profoundly, how can one heal a guilty conscience or live without harming others?

—Virginia L. Warren, Professor of Philosophy, Chapman University

Author Bio

Michael Boylan is Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Marymount University. He is the author of 26 books and over 120 articles in Philosophy and Literature. Details can be found at





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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Confessions of a Failed Environmentalist - Jennifer Ellis (Excerpt)

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Title: Confessions of a Failed Environmentalist

Author: Jennifer Ellis

Genre: Romantic Comedy / Women’s Fiction

Alana Matheson always tries to do the right thing for the environment, even when it means boycotting school meatball day, forgoing the use of makeup, or getting entangled in a bet with her non-chicken-loving ex-husband over which of them can be the most environmentally conscious.

So when a mining company proposes developing a mine right in the middle of the community watershed, well, of course Alana is going to be on the front lines opposing the development.

Except she isn’t. To her own shock and dismay, she finds herself taking a job… with the mining company. Worse, she finds herself drawn to her attractive and mysterious boss, Nate: a capitalist mining executive. The enemy.

Alana struggles to do right by the community, deal with her feelings for Nate, and maintain her own environmental morals. But as the conflict over the mine heats up, it gets increasingly difficult to be on the “wrong side,” and both Nate and Alana are cracking under the pressure.

Part satire, part serious, Confessions of a Failed Environmentalist is about the cast of characters who seem to pop up in all environmental disputes, and how all of us fail sometimes to do the right thing for the environment, in both big and small ways.

Author Bio

Jennifer lives in the mountains of British Columbia where she can be found writing, hiking, skiing, borrowing dogs, and evading bears. She also works occasionally as an environmental researcher.

Jennifer writes science fiction, romance and dystopian fiction for children and adults, including Apocalypse Weird: Reversal in Wonderment Media’s Apocalypse Weird world and A Pair of Docks, which was a bestseller in children’s time travel fiction. She has also contributed to several anthologies, most notably Synchronic: 13 Tales of Time Travel, which hit #16 in the Kindle Store.

She may or may not have a Ph.D. and dabble in tarot card reading and cat sitting.

You can subscribe to her blog for the latest book news and industry insights at She tweets about writing, cats and teenagers at @jenniferlellis.

Twitter: @jenniferlellis


5 winners will receive an eBook copy of “Confessions of a Failed Environmentalist” and one winner will receive a $10 Amazon giftcard!

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Book Excerpt

Maude pounded the tom-toms on email and Facebook all morning rounding up everyone in the community who was expected to oppose the mine. A meeting of concerned citizens was already scheduled at her house on Tuesday. A hasty search that morning had turned up little information regarding the environmental impacts of magnesium mining and even less about the company Mountain Magnesium Resources. Magnesium was a low-toxicity metal, but who knew what chemicals were used in extracting it? Not to mention the likely sedimentation from digging holes and having big trucks in the watershed.

She snatched up the phone when it rang, scarcely glancing at the caller ID. Most clients emailed her so it was probably a friend.

Alana Matheson?” a man’s voice said.

Yes.” She moved quickly from her casual friend tone to her professional tone.

My name is Nate Steeves. I’m the CEO of Mountain Magnesium Resources. We’re looking for a local public relations person with an environmental background, and we understand you do that kind of work.”

I do,” she managed to stutter, searching for the words to nicely say no before this went any further.

Would you be willing to send us your CV and come in and meet this week to talk about the position?”

She hesitated, looking for some sort of excuse. “I appreciate your interest, Nate, but I’m not sure if I’m the right person for the job. I only work part-time, and I just don’t know if I could bring the level of commitment to the job that you would need.” Why was she always so nice? She should just tell him she was an environmentalist. Who liked yachts.

That’s not a problem. We’re only looking for someone part-time at this point, and I’ve seen some of the work you’ve done for the SREB.”

How part-time? I already have a lot of commitments,” Alana said, hoping to find an out.

We’ve budgeted twenty hours a week at fifty thousand dollars a year, with four weeks holidays to start.”

Her heart sped up a little. That would be fewer hours than she currently worked and a substantial increase in pay. It would allow her to start paying off her monstrous line of credit and pay her property taxes. But she couldn’t do this. She wouldn’t do this.

I’m afraid the whole thing might be a little controversial in the community for me.”

I understand your concerns. We plan to do this whole thing right and take the concerns of the community into consideration. It is going to be a small mine for starters, and we’re going to use a bunch of innovative methods to minimize impacts and make it as sustainable as possible. Some of the board of directors of the company are planning to live here with their families, and we don’t want anything that wrecks the watershed.”

He sounded very sincere, but people who worked for industry were probably used to lying and deluding themselves. Sustainable mining was an oxymoron.

Another email popped up on Alana’s screen. Something from Maude about the travesty about to unfold in the watershed.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Cool Kids Wear Glasses - Teddy O'Malley


Cool Kids Wear Glasses is the story of Mandy Harper, the most popular girl in the third grade. She and her three friends don't realize they are actually bullies, telling kids who don't meet their standards that they are not cool. When her teacher Mrs. Snow pulls her aside one day and sends her home with a note recommending an eye test, Mandy has to come to terms with what it really means to be cool.

Teddy O'Malley has written a wonderful children's book in an easy to read, easy to understand narrative. Cool Kids Wear Glasses has exceptional illustrations and I got a kick out of the little messages on signs and posters in the background. The dialogue is modern and current, which will aid in the delivery of the story's moral message in a way they might appreciate. Heck, they might even think it's cool!


Amazon Link: Cool Kids Wear Glasses

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Dane Curse - Matt Abraham

Synopsis: If you lose a black cape, and can’t go to the cops, then you come to me because that’s what I do. I’ve been in the game for years. I know all the curves and all the angles, and if it gets rough then so be it, I got plenty strength, I’m double tough, and I never quit. And if need be I’ll pull my artillery to get you some answers, because I don’t care about the mistakes you’ve made or how you chose to live your life, sometimes even the unjust deserve a little justice.

At least that’s how it was before a mysterious murder threatens to plunge Gold Coast City into a super powered war unless I find the killer in five days' time. But getting to the truth won’t be so easy. I’ll have to face ruthless black capes with secrets to hide, a powerful government agency bent on national expansion, and even teams of white caped heroes whose intentions are less than pure.

No easy task for a small time PI, so I’ll need every bit of my strength and guts if I’m going to find the killer, save my city, and maybe even get some justice for the greatest hero the world has ever known.

Review: I was fortunate enough to capture this golden nugget on a promotional free day, and while free on Amazon can be a hit-or-miss, I can honestly say Dane Curse is a hit. This is classic noir at its finest. Our protagonist, Private Detective Dane Curse, is not the clean and classy, perfection to a fault champion we're used to. Matt Abraham has given him depth and a real sense of verity—not an easy task in a novel bursting with super-powered characters. Written with intelligent humor, easy dialogue, and an action-packed story line, Dane Curse is a must-read.


Amazon Link: Dane Curse

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Xerxes: A Persian Life - Richard Stoneman


Having just finished reading and reviewing another Net Galley book, Esther by Rebecca Kanner (fiction), I was immediately drawn to this historical biography of Xerxes. When I first started to look it over, I admit I thought I might be bored by it quickly. That's not what happened. Richard Stoneman's non-fiction biography of Xerxes is rich in detail and written without the usual loquacious ramblings that seem to have become a historical biography staple. There is no question that Stoneman did his homework, as Xerxes appears to have been meticulously researched.

What I loved the most – and pardon me if my love of historical women's fiction is showing – was the Family Romances chapter. Like most readers, I only knew of Xerxes from the stories of Queen Vashti, Queen Esther, and Mordecai. Stoneman does not quibble in his assessment of fact versus fiction, and while I won't tarnish the best part of his book with outright spoilers, the proof is in the puddin' when it comes to his delivery of some very serious, very interesting contradictions. I enjoyed this biography, but have a feeling readers looking for something to solidify what they have believed their whole lives might not have as great of an appreciation for it.

I'd like to thank Net Galley and the publisher Yale University Press for providing an ARC of Xerxes in exchange for my honest opinion, which this is.


Amazon Link: Xerxes: A Persian Life

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

If Anything Should Happen - Bonnie Hearn Hill

Kit Doyle, a California blogger and crime themed radio host, is confronted with a hard truth when her mother suddenly passes and she is left with a "If anything should happen" letter. Realizing everything she knew about her life had been built on a foundation of lies, she goes on a dangerous search for those who might be able to give her the answers she so desperately seeks. Meanwhile in Arizona, we meet Rena and Kendra—two old friends with skeletons in their own closets, attempting to cobble together fresh lives in the face of tragic pasts, navigating rocky and precarious paths that they hope will lead them to relative peace. All the while, the wealthy, political, and well-connected Brantingham family in Sacramento grapple with the murder of Alex Brantingham, a beloved son and brother, enlisting Kit to help connect the dots in an ongoing investigation. What Kit uncovers might be enough to topple what she now sees as a house of cards, but only if she is willing to risk the possibility of being crushed along with it.

If Anything Should Happen pulled me in from the start with an engaging and deeply layered story line. The intensity of its rising action is measured, peeling through these layers in a way that only an author as seasoned as Bonnie Hearn Hill is able to do—and she does it brilliantly. Balancing what can only be described as two parallel plots (since calling one a subplot would be disingenuous to its impact on the overall story), If Anything Should Happen also touches on the atrocities of "gay conversion" programs, a profoundly relevant theme in view of the pending US legislation of Leelah’s Law. Hearn Hill brings us to a blazing climax through a series of twists that deftly converge, the force of which is rounded out with fluid humor and easy dialogue. Her characters are authentic and believable, the narrative is exceptional, and the story itself is wholly absorbing. An easy and highly recommended five-star read.

I'd like to thank Net Galley and the publisher Severn House for providing a complimentary ARC in exchange for an honest opinion, which this is.


Amazon Link: If Anything Should Happen: A new California-based mystery series (A Kit Doyle Mystery)

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Daughters of Shadow and Blood - Book I: Yasamin


With Daughters of Shadow and Blood, J. Matthew Saunders has given us the most profound, intelligent, champion of a vampire thriller in contemporary literature. I have just finished it and my head is still spinning. This book—and I do not exaggerate—is an Islamic Da Vinci Code on fire.

We start the search for a dragon medallion in the Berlin living room of Yasamin with Dr. Adam Mire. From there, we go back almost a thousand years to Yasamin in Hungary under the Ottoman Empire. These two stories alone create enough depth for a spectacular read. Saunders takes us deeper, transitioning between these two layers, all the while giving us additional clues through books, letters, and newspaper interviews that chronicle—Guess who? Vlad the Impaler, who carries a whole laundry list of recognized (though not traditionally linked) names over our thousand year tour. All the while, we have Dr. Mire a week before he finds himself in Yasamin's living room, on an exhilarating Eastern European journey with two fantastic sidekicks: Anya and Kostya, a priest in the Russian Orthadox Church Special Forces.

If you're reading this review and thinking you'll be confused, think again. Saunders is a master of layered storytelling and the transitions are effortless to the reader. All is revealed in a blissfully synchronous fashion, packaged up in one of the best thrill reads you could possibly get your hands on.


I was given an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley and Saint George's Press in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon link: Daughters of Shadow and Blood - Book I: Yasamin

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.

Thursday, 23 July 2015


Awards Rescue Writers from Drowning in the Amazon River


Obscurity is the enemy of any author, but for a new author obscurity can often be fatal. An author may have written a wonderful book and yet it could remain lost forever on some virtual bookshelf in the depths of Amazon, ranked at #10,632,301 in sales. When you’re ranked that low, your book might as well be lost at the bottom of the Amazon River. This can be a very dark, scary place for any author. If you think such a place doesn’t exist, think again.

When a new book is introduced to the market, traditionally published authors are less likely to drown in the Amazon River. The traditional publishing houses will at least, in theory, give a new book some exposure in the market in the form of publicity through established channels. But that helping hand often disappears after a month or so and the book is left sink or swim on its own. An independent author, on the other hand, is usually thrown into the water with an anchor as a flotation device. Sinking is the more likely outcome. But in both cases, awards can help rescue a book and an author’s life.

Although awards can be quite subjective, if you’ve earned one as an author then at least one judge or set of judges believes your book has merit and deserves attention. With an award, your book is more likely to be retrieved from the depths of the Amazon River to see the eyes of readers. Awards by themselves won’t trigger the Amazon retrieval bots to show your book the light of day. Only readers can do that and awards are certainly something they might consider in deciding to purchase a book.

As a new independent author, the first award I won was a brand new shiny anchor and I was told to jump into the publishing waters with it. I’m a smart guy and it didn’t take me more than a few months to realize that my anchor wasn’t going to save me as an author. I frantically looked for a lifeline and discovered a number of legitimate award competitions that could help a drowning author.

One I chose to enter was the Independent Book Publishers Associations (IBPA) 27th annual competition. I applied in 2014 and submitted copies of my book for consideration. Named in honor of one of America's most famous authors and printers, the IBPA’s annual Benjamin Franklin Awards recognize excellence in independent publishing. Winning the competition in a category is regarded as one of the highest national honors for independent authors and publishers. This year, there were 1,400 entries judged by 150 professionals from the library, bookstore, reviewer, designer, publicity, and editorial industry segments for both fiction and non-fiction categories.

On April 10, 2015 during the IBPA’s annual conference in Austin, Texas, I was very fortunate to earn two awards in the competition. While I’m proud of finishing first in the “Best First Book: Fiction” category, I’m most proud of finishing second in the 2015 “Best Popular Fiction” category. Because I view Saving Babe Ruth as much more than a baseball book than the title might suggest, I think winning silver in the broad category of “Best Popular Fiction” has been helpful in broadening the potential reading audience.

Based on a true story, the novel is about a run-down lawyer and Civil War buff who decides to save his town’s youth baseball league. His wife and son want him to save the league, but the more he tries to save it, the more he ends up hurting them. At its roots, it’s a story about a family struggling to stay together in a town drowning in secrets and double lives.

The reviews of readers on Amazon, especially the more recent ones, have really brought different themes of the book to life. It’s been something to behold. When you have one reader’s review stating that he despises sports and baseball but he enjoyed the book anyway next to another reader’s review that states that the book is a must read for baseball fans, I think that’s an accomplishment. I believe the award for “Best Popular Fiction” reinforces the idea that the book has appeal to a wide variety of readers and so it’s been very helpful to me as an author.

Going forward, I believe the awards might suggest to potential readers and others that on a good day I can write a good story. I think that earning the recognition has opened new writing, publicity, and marketing opportunities for me to explore.
But at the end of the day, I’m still the same guy I was before. I still put my pants on one leg at a time, though I do think I’m now entitled to take a few seconds longer. In honor of my awards, my family washed the pillow in the family dog house and I’m very grateful to them since that’s where I continue to spend a good portion of my leisure time.


Title: Saving Babe Ruth

Author: Tom Swyers

Genre: Literary Fiction / Thriller / Sports

Based on a true story, Saving Babe Ruth is an award-winning novel about a family headed by David Thompson, a burned-out lawyer and Civil War buff. When he learns that the town's youth baseball league is going to fold, David’s love for the sport and for his son, Christy, inspire him to try to save it for the boys in town. David puts his fading career on hold as he struggles to resurrect this dream while at the same time trying to salvage his marriage to his wife, Annie.

Though Christy and Annie want to see him save the league, David finds himself in way over his head; the more he passionately tries to save it, the more he ends up hurting Christy and Annie. It’s a catch-22 that leaves his family wounded and David lost, wedged between his desire to revive the league so he can live with himself, and the desire to heal his family so they can live with him.

When David starts to keep secrets from Annie to satisfy these desires, he weaves a web of deceit that further fractures the family. At the same time, the town wrestles to keep its own secrets under wraps while it almost bursts with people leading double lives. They want David and the league to fail, and they’ll stop at nothing to get what they want, even if they have to go through Christy and Annie to get it.

With the help of Johnny McFadden--a newfound friend who's addicted to baseball--David concocts a plan to defend the league and his family. The pair will have to navigate through a maze of backroom politics, corruption, scandal and crime that extends to the professional sports world. David will have to call upon all of his legal and survival skills to try and turn things around.

Saving Babe Ruth is also the inspiring story about a baseball team full of teenage outcasts struggling to believe in themselves. When the time is right, they'll face the prospect of having to fight crazy with crazy to save baseball for themselves, their town and beyond.

The novel reveals the underbelly of youth sports that’s hurting communities nationwide today, but readers and reviewers say you don’t have to be a fan of baseball or sports to enjoy the story. Its themes, including one of community responsibility, are beginning to resonate. The story is so powerful that one of the nation’s leading professional sports agents has threatened a lawsuit over the book. The novel has even caused one town to come to a standstill to hold an emergency board meeting over it. Watch this trailer video to learn more about how Saving Babe Ruth came to life.

New York Times bestselling author Margot Livesey says Swyers “has created a man for all seasons” in David Thompson and calls Saving Babe Ruth “an absorbing and compulsively readable novel.”

Saving Babe Ruth is the winner of a number of accolades including the 2015 Benjamin Franklin Book Award for “Best First Book: Fiction.”

If you like fast-paced and humor-laced stories, don’t miss this family’s fight to stay together as it confronts a youth sports underworld loaded with captivating characters.

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Author Bio


Award-winning author Tom Swyers first had an audience on the edge of their seat (and the girls giggling) when his play, The Great Train Robbery, made its debut in the seventh grade.

After high school, he worked his way through some of the best colleges in the country. Employed in a variety of jobs ranging from a late-night convenience store clerk to a fine jewelry salesperson, Tom eventually graduated from college and then worked his way through law school in the caverns of Wall Street.

Since then, he’s studied at the New York State Summer Writer’s Institute at Skidmore College. He’s also a member of both the Authors Guild and the Hudson Valley Writers Guild.

Along the way, he married his high school sweetheart and raised a family. With that came baseball, but that's another story (Saving Babe Ruth). Tom is also an award-winning youth sports advocate.

When he isn’t writing or reading, Tom is usually running (literally) away from trouble on the back roads of Upstate, New York where he lives with his family and two cats (really two dogs working undercover).

Saving Babe Ruth is his first novel and these are some of the awards it has received:

  • Gold Winner, “Best First Book: Fiction," 2015 Independent Book Publishers Association’s Benjamin Franklin Book Awards.

  • Silver Winner, “Best Popular Fiction," 2015 Independent Book Publisher Association’s Benjamin Franklin Book Awards.

  • Reader Views, “Best Regional Fiction 2014/2015: Northeast.”

  • Finalist, "Best New Fiction," 2014 USA Best Book Awards.


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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The Silent Treatment TRAILER REVEAL!

Today is the trailer reveal for The Silent Treatment by Melanie Surani. This trailer reveal is organized by Lola's Blog Tours.

The Silent Treatment - Book Cover ImageThe Silent Treatment (Katrina Jaitley #1)
by Melanie Surani
Genre: Mystery
Age category: Adult
Publisher: Booktrope
Twenty-eight year old Katrina Jaitley is rebuilding her life after escaping an abusive boyfriend. The last thing she needs is the mystery she stumbles on during a bout of retail therapy. But she can't ignore the coil of film -- a piece of movie history -- she finds hidden inside her purchase. Unfortunately, Peter, the handsome host of the estate sale, disappears before Kat has a chance to return it to him.

Curious, Kat watches the strip and is shocked to witness the murder of a famous 1920's silent film star by a fellow actor. When a news article cites Kat as the film's owner, her already complicated life goes from bad to worse. Someone begins stalking her. Are they trying to silence her or what she has discovered?

You can find The Silent Treatment on Goodreads

Check out the book trailer here:

Or you can view the trailer on Youtube

Author Photo - Melanie SuraniAbout the Author:
Melanie Surani is a blogger, hair stylist, and author with a heart for international travel. She grew up in Memphis, Tennessee before taking extended trips to Canada, Germany, and Philadelphia.

When she isn’t cutting hair, Melanie is thinking about ways to kill people (for mystery novels). DVDs of British comedies help keep her calm. She lives with her husband and cat in New York City, where she is hard at work on her next novel with Booktrope Publishing.

Her previous work includes The Morning After, Commanding Disappointment, A Body in a Seat, A Similar Fate, and The Silent Treatment, a novel soon-to-be republished by Booktrope.

Melanie is a member of the International Thriller Writers society. Her fiction can be found anywhere ebooks are sold. Follow her adventures at:

You can find and contact Melanie here:
- Website
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Pinterest
- Instagram
- Google+
- Linkedin
- Goodreads
- Amazon

4 Fun Facts About Melanie Surani:
- Melanie enjoys visiting museums, especially wax museums. Madame Tussauds and the films House of Wax (1933/1953) were inspirations for her thriller novel, Awake.
- Melanie knows a lot about cats and cheetahs – like how to own one as a pet, though she’s only had house cats.
- Melanie was homeschooled as a kid in Memphis, so she learned a lot about writing, languages, and art at a young age.
- Melanie loves food and there’s almost nothing she won’t try once, including brains and offal. No bugs.

There is a trailer reveal wide giveaway for the trailer reveal of The Silent Treatment. These are the prizes you can win:
- Prize pack: ebook copies of The Silent Treatment and Awake (both by Melanie Surani) and one Trendimi gift voucher for a Make-Up Artist course (International)

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
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Monday, 20 July 2015

Masquerade - Joanna Taylor


Lizzy Ward, escapee of the most exclusive brothel in London, spends her days working the streets of Piccadilly, navigating the debt collectors and the gin halls. Lizzy is determined to build a better life, and a chance meeting with a fine Lord has the potential to change her fortunes for ever - if she succeeds in masquerading as a Lady, his Lady, for an entire week.

While the descriptions are vivid and the plot is engaging, the beginning of Masquerade is just Pretty Woman set in the Regency era...even down to the dress shopping scene. At first I thought the parallels were cute, but after a while it really, really felt like it bordered so much on fan fiction that it might be construed as piracy. Following the dress shopping scene, the author did find her own voice but by that point I was already bothered by the story. I think if the author is actually writing fan fiction, it should be clearly stated in an introduction as opposed to being placed after the acknowledgements almost as an afterthought in the back (where it isn't actually declared, but teased about with, "Joanna Taylor took her inspiration for Masquerade from one of her favourite films. Can you guess what it is?").

This is an author with talent and that is evident from her colorful descriptions, pacing, and interesting plot—which would warrant AT LEAST four stars—if she had written her own story and done so in a convincing story line. Unfortunately, the book is let down by unbelievable character interactions. Namely, a highly respected Lord parading a street-prostitute around the Pantheon and Vauxhall Gardens where she screeches and embraces another courtesan in view of all. I am not a stickler for authenticity, but a story does have to be believable. The author is gifted with description and I think if the parts that pilfer from Pretty Woman are edited and more attention is paid to behavioral and dialogue detail (particularly in the parts where Lizzy is in public with Lord Hays), it would lend to the credibility and integrity of the book and the time period it is set in, and be worthy of five stars. As it stands, I can only give it three.

I'd like to thank Net Galley and the publisher for providing a free copy of this book on a read-to-review basis.


Amazon Link: Masquerade

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Esther - Rebecca Kanner


Synopsis: A girl is ripped from her hut by the king’s brutish warriors and forced to march across blistering, scorched earth to the capitol city. Trapped for months in the splendid cage of the king’s palace, she must avoid the ire of the king’s concubines and eunuchs all while preparing for her one night with the king. Soon the fated night arrives, and she does everything in her power to captivate the king and become his queen.

Review: I really enjoyed this book up until just after Esther became queen. The descriptions were fantastic, the narrative and dialogue were smooth, and there was a lot of intrigue. After her show of strength before the soldiers among flying arrows (which was brilliant), I got bored. I stopped reading at Chapter 38, Dagger Training, because at that point the story just became stale. I know the author is working with a story that already exists, but it just stopped feeling original at that point. Overall the book is good, its inability to hold my attention was simply because I lost interest in a story I have heard retold a dozen times.

I'd like to thank the publisher Howard Books and Net Galley for a free ARC on a read-to-review basis.


Amazon Link: Esther: A Novel

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

A Cottage in the Country - Linn B. Halton

When I first selected this book I was skeptical, thinking it might just be a British knock-off of Under the Tuscan Sun (the movie, not the book—the book was absolute rubbish). Thankfully, Linn B. Halton's A Cottage in the Country is a wonderful story of its own.

Madeleine (Maddie) Brooks has been on the hunt for a retreat in the country for some time after discovering her husband Jeff has been having an affair with her best friend. Nothing seems to be in her price range until a cottage in Forest is listed as a probate sale and she snaps it up, the first viewer on the first day it is listed. She moves in on December 19th during an onslaught of rain and flooding, wanting the heaviest renovations done by Christmas Eve at a time when everyone and everything is getting ready to hunker down for the holidays.

Here enters handyman Lewis Hart, the Man Who Can, who also happens to be a bit of a jerk. Or is he? Toss in Maddie's hot boss Ryan, and we have a fun and funny little love triangle set in a beautiful country setting, wrapped up in Linn B. Halton's prose.

This was an ARC that I was given on a read-to-review basis, and so it contained some typos that I'm sure will be polished up before actual publication. There were also a couple repetitive phrases that made me cringe and some unnecessary fleshing out that I found myself skimming through. All this aside (and likely no longer an issue once it is in the hands of "real" readers), I adored this story. It is witty and entertaining, with wonderfully descriptive landscape and characters that you cannot help but love. My only regret is that I now want a bathroom with a slipper tub and a full skylight, but have no Man Who Can to build it for me…so Halton's book will suffice instead, for now.

I would like to thank HarperCollins UK and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion, which this certainly is.


Amazon Link: A Cottage in the Country

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Fairy Tale Confessions COVER REVEAL!

Fairy Tale Confessions Collection
Published by: Amber Leaf Publishing
Publication date: October 1st 2015
Genres: Fairy Tales


Fourteen bestselling authors twist up your favorite tales. Will your favorite have a happily-every-after?

Get ready to meet some sexy, not-so-valiant princes, punk-rock princesses, villains turned heroes, and truly vile monsters, causing  havoc within our favorite happily-ever-afters.

Read about Dancing Princesses getting their groove on in a disco club, a seriously sexy Rumpelstiltskin, and one alluring Puss-in-Boots, plus many, many more captivating characters in these fourteen all new short-stories.

In association with RT 2016 come meet the twisted fairy tale girls: M. Clarke, Amy Daws, L.P. Dover, Elizabeth Montgomery, Shannon Morton, Brynn Myers, Wendy Owens, Sarah J. Pepper, Cameo Renae, Kellie Sheridan, Jessica Sorensen, Kristen Strassel, Tish Thawer, and K.R. Wilburn. If you’ll be in Vegas for RT 2016, join hosts, Sarah J. Pepper and Tish Thawer at the Fairy Tale Costume Party where you could see a traditional Snow-White, or a completely gothed-out Belle roaming the scene, win dinner with Prince Charming, and snag gift baskets from all the participating authors.


Thursday, 16 July 2015

Eyes of Payne - Anthony D. Flores

Eyes of Payne-ebook

In Anthony D. Flores' short story, Eyes of Payne, we meet Jack Payne, an 11th grade teacher and former CIA agent who starts the morning of September 11, 2001 blissfully unaware of the terrorist attacks happening far from his life in Los Angeles. Once the news is broken to him, he flees home in search of the details of his wife's flight from Boston, only to discover Catherine was on United Airlines flight 175, the second plane to hit the World Trade Center. Almost concurrently, other details unrelated to the tragedy emerge, and Jack discovers his marriage wasn't as unblemished as he'd thought it was. Following another foiled attack, which Jack plays a heavy hand in resolving, and torn between his new life as a single father to daughter Abigail, and a persistent, internal call for revenge, Jack is forced to make a decision about which path to take.

Eyes of Payne is fast paced and moves quickly from one action to the next. With a short story, we rarely see so much vigor packed into such a tight time frame. This pacing will definitely appeal to readers who appreciate movement and energetic storytelling, but may not tick all the boxes for those who prefer a more measured stride and an opportunity to be engrossed in layered storytelling. If you fall into the latter category, you might be better suited towards Anthony D. Flores' full length novel, Lazarus Rising, to which Eyes of Payne is the prequel.

Flores is a skilled writer with a marked talent for animated narrative and alternating conflict. With a dedication to George W. Bush kicking this story off, I would recommend Eyes of Payne to readers who are searching for a fast read to fulfill any cravings for patriotic action and bravado, because you will certainly find it here—lined with a high-speed adrenaline rush that will likely ensue for some time after you set the book down.


Amazon Links: Eyes of Payne (reviewed prequel) and Lazarus Rising

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.

A complementary copy of this book was provided on a read-to-review basis for an honest opinion, which this is. Thank you to John Galt Publishing and Sage's Blog Tours.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015


Today is the cover reveal for Hard Case by Marc Hirsch. This cover reveal is organized by Lola's Blog Tours.

Hard CaseHard Case (Alice White, Investigator #2)
By Marc Hirsch
Genre: Romantic Suspense/ Mystery
Age category: Adult
Release Date: 15 July 2015
Publisher: Books, Authors and Artists
In 1956 New York City, a year after Alice White’s first investigation, she becomes entangled in her Bronx neighbor's troubles. A United States customs inspector at the Port of New York, he has fallen into the grasp of the vicious dockworkers' boss.

As Alice attempts to free him, the power struggle created by the post-World War II wave of Italian immigration into the predominantly Irish run West Side imperils both. Can Alice save him? If she fails both may die.

You can find Hard Case on Goodreads

Want to read and review The Case and/or Hard Case by Marc Hirsch? Sign-up for a review copy here

Marc HirschAbout the Author:
Marc Hirsch was born in New York City in 1945. He attended Boston University School of Medicine, graduating in 1969. After 42 years as a doctor, he retired from hospitalist practice in 2011. He published his first book, The Case, in 2012 and will publish his second book, the sequel titled Hard Case, in 2015. The Case was edited and republished as a second edition in 2014. Plans for his screenplay of The Case are being made.

You can find and contact Marc here:
- Facebook
- Goodreads
- Amazon

There is a cover reveal wide giveaway for the cover reveal of Hard Case. These are the prizes you can win:
- 3 kindle e-copies of The Case (Alice White, Investigator #1) by Marc Hirsch
- 2 kindle e-copies of Hard Case (Alice White, Investigator #2) by Marc Hirsch

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

banner Lola's Blog Tours

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Face Paint: The Story Of Makeup - Lisa Eldridge


Synopsis: Makeup, as we know it, has only been commercially available in the last 100 years, but applying decoration to the face and body may be one of the oldest global social practices. In Face Paint, Lisa Eldridge reveals the entire history of the art form, from Egyptian and Classical times up through the Victorian age and golden era of Hollywood, and also surveys the cutting-edge makeup science of today and tomorrow. Face Paint explores the practical and idiosyncratic reasons behind makeup's use, the actual materials employed over generations, and the glamorous icons that people emulate and how they achieved their effects. An engaging history of style, it is also a social history of women and the ways in which we can understand their lives through the prism and impact of makeup.

Review: Visually stunning with sharp, colorful images alongside famous artwork and masterful paintings, Face Paint by Lisa Eldridge is as much a fascinating picture book as it is an encyclopedia of makeup. Eldridge applies her extensive knowledge throughout with easy to read, interesting, and accessible facts and her expertise on both the how and the why. It was the history of makeup that intrigued me the most, its evolution from lead-based Elizabethan white paste, to the popular organic and mineral make-ups of today. I would recommend this book not only to beauty enthusiasts, but anyone interested in history, entertainment, fashion, and science.

I'd like to thank Net Galley and the publisher Abrams Image for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion, which this is.


Amazon Link: Face Paint: The Story of Makeup

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.

How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds, and Funny Bones - Terry Sprouse


As Terry W. Sprouse says at the beginning of this book, "There are more 'wit and wisdom of Lincoln' books than you could shake a stovepipe hat at." So what makes How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds, and Funny Bones different? This isn't a book of wit and wisdom. Instead, Sprouse has written a how-to on crafting and the delivery of storytelling with the elusive Lincolnesque flair. And he does this brilliantly.

Delightful to read and easy to follow, How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds, and Funny Bones begins each chapter with a quote and ends each with bullet-point Lincoln lessons. In between, Sprouse has given the well researched "why" behind each practice, sprinkled with quotes from many who were on the receiving end of Lincoln's storytelling and were close and/or worked with him. In my heart of hearts, I believe How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds, and Funny Bones should be a staple in any creative writing class. Well done.

"They say I tell a great many stories and I reckon I do, but I believe that common people are more easily informed through the medium of broad illustration than in any other way." ~Abraham Lincoln


Amazon Link: How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds, and Funny Bones

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Corridors of My Mind - Angel M.B. Chadwick


Angel M.B. Chadwick's Corridors of My Mind is a poignant collection of poetry, written from the first hand experiences of its talented author. I'm a prolific reader and thought I could read through them at a relatively quick pace. I was wrong.  Chadwick's prose are intense and deeply heart-wrenching, beautiful in their fluidity and realism. Corridors of My Mind is not a work that can be simply read—it is too powerful for that. It's consuming in both its sadness and strength, and you will find yourself engrossed within the very first few lines of Pretty Girl.

I was especially inspired by the poem Never Back Down, one of the shortest poems in this collection. Its condensed length does not curb its heavy energy, but instead enhances the force of the stanzas. Chadwick clearly has an exceptional talent for emotional and gripping composition, and Corridors of My Mind is a testament to that gift. I was moved in ways that I didn't expect, absorbed in this literary marvel where the words flow off the page like gorgeous ballads, and straight into your soul.

"I take the blame; I claim its name; I evoked it, provoked it from whence it came…" ~Mark of the Dark, Corridors of My Mind


Amazon Link: Corridors of My Mind

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Circulus de Potentia - Jim West


In Jim West's Circulus de Potentia, book two of the Magicae Mathematica series, we start with Archimedes and Diades, wizard and apprentice. Another of Archimedes' apprentices, Demetrius, has fallen in love with Anul, daughter of Councilman Etan and fiancĂ© to the son of Samoht, Semlac . After a tragic turn of events, Diades and Demetrius flee, spending years in hiding, practicing their craft, plotting revenge, and creating the Circulus de Potentia—a gold band of fire and strength. When the Circulus falls into the hands of an unknown and dangerous challenger, it is up to a group of young apprentices, led by an apprentice named Alex, to seek out the Master Wizard of the Forest, Pythagoras. They are then sent to the Labryinthus de Sonim, a mathematical maze which nobody has ever come out of…and all the while Diades and Demetrius seek to stop them.

Jim West's Circulus de Potentia is , frankly, absolutely exceptional. With marvelously detailed imagery and an intelligent story line that blends fantasy and mathematics, West has delivered a literary treasure. While Circulus de Potentia is the second book of the Magicae Mathematica series, it reads easily as a standalone and I was immediately engrossed in the tale without any back-story whatsoever. The dialogue is intelligent, the plot is engaging and perfectly paced, and the characters are convincing and layered enough that I found myself somewhat empathizing with ones I would not have otherwise. It's pretty rare to come across a childrens/YA book that is laden with math and Latin, and actually find that it enhances an already riveting story. West has done this—and more—in Circulus de Potentia, which I wholeheartedly give five-stars, recommend to readers of all ages, and eagerly wait for the third installment of the Magicae Mathematica series.

This review was written by me for Readers' Favorite.


Amazon Link: Circulus de Potentia (Magicae Mathematica) (Volume 2)

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Kindred Passage - Gregory Gourlay


Two stories that are set one-hundred years apart, running parallel until they finally converge; the past foreshadowing the present, and the present echoing the past. Kindred Passage is the tale of Ken Mallory and Aaron Pritchard in 1960's Africa, and Lucas Lindsay and Adrian Reese in 1860's Africa. Following a family tragedy, Mallory moves himself to Zambia, as his great-grandfather had before him. Soon partnered with Aaron Pritchard out of necessity, Mallory discovers a mounting depravity that makes the wickedness of 1960's Zambia pale by comparison. Meanwhile, Lucas Lindsay and Adrian Reese twist through disturbingly analogous circumstances a century beforehand, against a backdrop of war, ivory hunting, and human bondage.

Kindred Passage pushed me outside of my comfort zone with its authentic and unapologetic depiction of Africa during both the 1860's and 1960's. The dialogue is frank and all portrayals are wholly credible to the time, which lends to both the integrity of the story and its author. Gregory Gourlay is a master of description, making Africa itself a virtual character in its own right—as absorbing and detailed as Mallory, Pritchard, Lindsay, and Reese. Kindred Passage balances perfectly between bold and beautiful, gritty and gripping. It is absolutely riveting and I wholeheartedly recommend this book, giving it an easy five stars.


Amazon Link: Kindred Passage

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Cover Art - Michael Patrick Lewis (FREE!)


I took a very well spent 15 minutes out of my day to read Cover Art after it was recommended by an author who found it to be hilarious. It is a true short story at only 2,000 words...and I adored it! Possibly the funniest work I have read in ages. Michael Patrick Lewis is a master of satire. I have never attempted to write a book myself (nor would I try!), but Cover Art does a great job poking fun at the process and the drudgery of an authors quest to hit their daily word count.


You won't find cover Art on Amazon, but it is free at both Smashwords and Kobo.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

2084 - Melanie Schulz


I actually give this book is 3.5 stars--the extra half because I have a great deal of respect for authors whose self published titles are even remotely enjoyable. The story was well outlined, but I personally found it to have too much dialogue and not enough of a descriptive element. I understand being written in the first person this is standard, but I didn't feel the places Liz went were described enough to bring me there with her. A little more fleshing out would have gone a long way. I also found several typos and grammatical errors (the first two being right smack on page one), and those always hamper the flow for any reader.

With that being said, this is a nice, quick, satisfying read. The storyline is good and you dive directly into the plot. Liz is a likeable, real character and I found myself rooting for her throughout. I finished the book in a single day, which is a testament to the unique storyline and pace of the book.


Amazon Link: 2084

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

This Book Belongs To - Daley James Francis


I had a wonderful time reading this to my 11 year old daughter over the weekend. I started reading it to her on Sunday morning and it was such a hit with her that by Monday morning she had finished it herself.

Creative and amusing, this is a great story for any child--and funny enough for adults to read along with also. Aside from some run-on sentences and quite a few cliches, the story is without the usual flaws of spelling and grammatical errors often encountered with indie books. As a parent, that is important to me. Children learn from the books they read whether they realize it or not. The last thing I want is my daughter thinking they are normal, and this book doesn't disappoint in that regard.

I enthusiastically recommend this delightful, fanciful story!


Amazon Link: This Book Belongs To

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Welcome To London, Mr. Shakespeare - D. Lawrence Young


Welcome to London, William Shakespeare is a fictionalized chronicle of history's most celebrated author and playwright's "lost years." It's evident that D. Lawrence-Young has done significant research in writing this book, as the details surrounding what we do know about Shakespeare during this time are evenly applied throughout the story. These scant facts are used as the story's stepping stones, the parts between filled in cleverly by Lawrence-Young--and Shakespeare is brought to life.

Set against the turbulent Catholic-Protestant bloodbath of Elizabethan England, we start in the Henley Street home of Shakespeare's parents, John and Mary. I was impressed by the authors ability to reach deeper into Shakespeare's past and into the troubles of his father, who started high, fell low, and was finally able to hitch his wagon to his son's shooting star to rise again.

As a reader, I have the advantage of having visited the Henley Street house--now the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust--and was delighted to have it fleshed out for me again by Lawrence-Young. It's hard to imagine Shakespeare as a glove maker, but that was his early course, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. He meets Anne Hathaway who is eight years his senior--and in a forecasting of the celebrity to come--he impregnates her before marriage. He's happy with Anne, but has ambition beyond a husband, father, and glove maker. He visits London, returns to Stratford-upon-Avon, and leaves again a final time. This is when we are transported to London during one of its most tumultuous eras, to accompany Shakespeare on his ascent to the author we recognize today.

I enjoyed reading Lawrence-Young's Welcome to London, William Shakespeare. The story is well written, entertaining, and easy to read. I would recommend it to anyone looking for an amusing YA interpretation of what Shakespeare's early life and years in London might have been like.

I was given a free copy of this book and reviewed it for Readers' Favorite.


Amazon Link: Welcome to London, William Shakespeare

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the Amazon link and buy the book, I may receive a commission.