Sunday, 30 September 2012

September Flashback


Summer is officially over. School has started (the buses in the morning are crammed with kids going to classes), nights are chilly and we are grateful for every sunny day. Thankfully we had a lovely September: warm with 28 C and lots of sun, feels like we get a little extension to the summer months :-)

Books read
  1. Bad Boys Do by Victoria Dahl (Book #2 in the Donovan Brothers Brewery series)
  2. Timeless Desire by Gwyn Cready
  3. An Illicit Temptation by Jeannie Lin
  4. A Vengeful Affair by Carmen Falcone
  5. Misplaced Princess by Mari Carr and Lexxi Cooper
  6. A Question of Trust by Emma Hillman
  7. Take it Like a Vamp by Candace Havens 
  8. West of Want by Laura Kaye (Book #2 in the Hearts of the Anemoi series)
  9. Crazy Love by Nicola Marsh
  10. Clean by Alex Hughes (Book #1 in the Mindspace Investigations series)
  11. Ashwyn by Nadia Lee
  12. In Bed with the Opposition by Stephanie Draven*
  13. Taming the Tycoon by Amy Andrews 
  14. When You Give a Duke a Diamond by Shana Galen (Book #1 in the Jewels of the Ton series)

Books reviewed

Here are the reviews I posted on Ex Libris this month:
  1. Ravish Me by Cindy Jacks
  2. The Virgin Huntress by Victoria Vane (Book #2 in the Devil DeVere series) 
  3. Her Forbidden Hero by Laura Kaye
  4. Tempting the Best Man by J. Lynn (Book #1 in the Gamble Brothers series)
  5. Luscious by Amanda Usen
  6. In-Flight Delight by Francesca St. Claire
  7. Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander (Book #1 in the Edie Spence trilogy)
  8. Clean by Alex Hughes (Book #1 in the Mindspace Investigations series)

Books I liked the best this month:

This month I had these absolute favourites:


Ever since I discovered Nicola Marsh thanks to Busted in Bollywood she became a must read author for me. I love her witty writing style which is full of sexy banter between the h/h, and this latest novel of hers was even better than any of the 2 novels  have read from her so far! Crazy Love was heart-warming, sexy, romantic and oh so witty, LOVED it! Come back on Wednesday to read my review of Crazy Love and my interview with Nicola as she reveals some behind the scenes secrets about the book and you could even win a copy of Crazy Love!



I loved this book! It reminded me of my favourite romantic comedy films (like While You Were Sleeping) I got the same warm and fuzzy feeling. Loved the witty and funny parring dialogue between the hero and heroine, and it was a sweet and sexy story I'm sure I'll be re-reading many times as a comfort read. It became one of my favourite reads of 2012 and you can read my review detailing why very soon.


Books I liked the least this month:

And to keep the balance here are the two books which disappointed me the most:


This started out like a light and fun sexy paranormal romance but sadly I found the heroine irritating and the story just dragged on. I kept forcing myself to read it, and though there were come moments, overall it wasn't a story I enjoyed.



I was excited to read this book (mostly due to the premise, the cute cover and the reference to Diana Gabaldon's series), but it was a let down. You can read my dual review with Marlene over at Book Lovers Inc. until I post my review here.


Reading Challenges:

Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge: 131/170 books read, 39 to go
Romance and Me Reading Challenge: 8/12 books read, 5 to go
Historical Romance Reading Challenge: 34/12 books read - COMPLETED
E-Book Reading Challenge: 112/150 books read, 38 to go
Men in Uniform Reading Challenge: 13/10 books read - COMPLETED
Speculative Romance Reading Challenge: 20/12 book read, 0 to go - COMPLETED
Horror and Urban Fantasy Reading Challenge: 10/24 books read, 14 to go
Mystery and Suspense Reading Challenge: 6/12 books read, 6 to go
Fairy Tales Retold Reading Challenge: 6/6 book read, 0 to go - COMPLETED
Harlequin Silhouette Reading Challenge: 8/6 book read, 0 to go - COMPLETED
Erotic Reading Challenge: 21/20 books read, 0 to go - COMPLETED
1st in a Series Reading Challenge: 38/20 books read, 0 to go - COMPLETED
2nd in a Series Reading Challenge: 13/20 books read, 7 to go
NetGalley Reading Challenge: 49/30 books read, 0 to go - COMPLETED

I can never resist reading challenges (they were the ones responsible for giving me that final push to start my own a blog) and I just like to see in which categories the books I'm reading fit into.


If you like romance and you would like to challenge yourself and discover some romance sub-genre out of your comfort zone come and join the Romance and Me Reading Challenge I'm hosting with Book Lovers Inc. where we'll read 1 novel from a different romantic sub-genre every month. Monthly giveaways sweeten the pot as well ;-) You can read about the details and sign up HERE.

September was Historical Romance month and October will be Urban Fantasy month! Come join us, great monthly giveaways await you!


News

Advertise on Ex Libris

Authors, publicists as of September you can advertise your books or bookish promotions on Ex Libris!


For more details click here.


I think that's all for now, I hope you didn't have a too hard time getting back to work/school after the summer. 

It's Monday, What Are you Reading? (#93)


It's Monday, What are you reading? is a weekly event hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books to list the books completed last week, the books currently being read and the books to be finished this week.

This weekend was also dominated by kitchen duty: we had a big family brunch and besides being on dessert duty then I also felt like baking some more muffins, so I made a batch of chocolate-chili muffins and one batch of coffee muffins. Now our breakfast pastries are provided for the week :-D Since the family was home a lot and we got many family events my reading time suffered, but here is what I have read this past week:

Books I completed

(Book #1 in the Jewels of the Ton series)

I discovered Shana Galen's writing recently and I loved A Rogue Pirate's Bride, so when I heard she will have a new historical romance trilogy coming up I was excited! When You Give a Duke a Diamond is the first in the Jewels of the Ton series about three young women, celebrated courtesans of the London ton. It was a fun book, my dual review with Alisha will be posted soon on Book Lovers Inc. and I can't wait to read the next two books in the series!



Another delightful category romance from Entangled's Indulgence line. Amy Andrews' writing was captivating and her characters highly entertaining. :-) My detailed review will be posted soon.



One of the three books, which launched Entangled's new paranormal romance line Covet. I didn't really enjoy it as I couldn't warm to the heroine and even the hero produced some irritating behaviour. Detailed review to be posted soon.


Book I'm currently reading


This is the 3rd novella in Victoria Vane's Devil DeVere series. I enjoyed the first one, didn't like much the second, but since this features two characters that I liked previously I'm looking forward to discovering their story.


Books I can't wait to start 


I haven't started reading this one yet, but looking very much forward to it! Maybe I'll start reading it this afternoon while munching on the freshly baked muffins :-D For more culinary romances click here



I still haven't gotten around to start this one yet, but it is on my immediate TBR list.

(You can get the 1st one Simply Irresistible for ONLY $2.99 now, so hurry, get your copy HERE).

And what are you reading this week?

Saturday, 29 September 2012

And this week's winners are...


Hey Everyone!

This weekend we'll have a big family get-together to celebrate the 87th birthday of my grandma, my dad's birthday as well as the college graduation of my middle sister, so that means lots of guests and even more food to prepare. Besides the basic preparations, I am on dessert duty and you know what I'll be doing? Chocolate mousse with orange liqueur! Sounds so decadent and tempting, right? ;-p 

The winners this week are... *drumroll please*

Congrats to  

The lucky winner of winner's choice of a book from Tina Donahue's extensive backlist is 

Flora Segura-Buchler


The lucky winners of an ebook copy of Spring into Summer or Fall into Winter by Eden Baylee are

 
heatwave316
Yadira A.


The lucky winner of a copy of Blood and Whiskey by Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall  is

@SacredmOOn1


The lucky winner of an ebook copy of Fault Lines by Rebecca Rogers Maher is

Maly


Congratulations winners! I have sent you all an e-mail notifying you of your win, please get back to me within 48 hours or I will have to draw a new winner. Thank you.

Some giveaways are still open, enter them while you can by clicking on their individual links at the top of the blog.

Have a nice weekend everyone, and come back next week, there will be lots of great guests and even more giveaways! ;-)

Friday, 28 September 2012

Guest post by Jessica Scott + Giveaway

I am very happy to welcome back to to the blog the lovely Jessica Scott, who besides being mom to two little girls, wife to an officer, a career soldier herself is the author of the wonderfully heartfelt and emotional Coming Home romances! You might remember how much I enjoyed Because of You, so I am happy to let you know that Book #2 Until There Was You will be released next week, yay! So pre-order your copies, it is only $2.99 and read on to learn more about Jess and get a glimpse of Until There Was You!


A Book Hangover
by Jessica Scott

Thanks so much for having me here today on Ex Libris! Like Stella, I’m an avid reader but for the last couple of years and especially since “becoming a writer” I read more critically now. Because of that, I end up reading less and end up stopping a whole lot more books than I end up finishing.

I’m not honestly sure why that is. Part of it is that I enjoy books that really grab hold of me and don’t let go. It’s hard for a book to have that kind of connection for me. Another way I’ll end up reading a book is that if I read a sample and can’t stop thinking about it. The Hunger Games was like that for me. I could not get the line where Katniss says something to the effect of “that was as close as our relationship was going to get: entrails, no hissing” when talking about her sister’s cat. Man did that cat do me in on Mockingjay. I bawled for DAYS. I was wrung out, completely empty and could not fathom another book or series that was going to tear me up like that.

Anyone who’s been following me knows just how much I loved Nalini Singh’s Archangel’s Blade. There was just something about Honor’s broken courage and Dmitri’s cold, wounded shell that just spoke to me. I love a good romance as much as the next gal but I’ll tell you I really love a romance that brings two wounded souls together and let’s them heal. I think that’s why I’m still hung up on Dmitri and Honor.

In my next book UNTIL THERE WAS YOU, I don’t necessarily pick up the series where BECAUSE OF YOU left off but I do try to keep to one of my deeply embedded themes of bringing wounded souls back together. Captain Claire Montoya is badly damaged and trusts very few people. Captain Evan Loehr is very much a rule follower for his own reasons. And when they’re faced with a situation that requires both of them to give a little bit, the battle is on.

Below is an excerpt:

He shifted uncomfortably, then cleared his throat. The sound pulled her attention from the agenda and made her look up. She shifted the paper, and he gripped the edge to angle it so he could see it better. His fingers slid against hers, and he froze. She looked up, their fingers still touching, her green eyes darkening.

Then she swallowed and pulled her fingers free from his touch.

This was not the woman he knew—the wildfire, out-of-control officer he was used to seeing in the tactical operations center. That woman made snap judgments and spoke before engaging her brain. This woman was restrained. Tense. This was new, a side of Claire that Evan had never seen before.

Her gaze met his, hesitant.

“What are you doing?” Her voice was thick, edgy and filled with a wariness that made his heart flip in his chest.

“Listening to your brief.” His voice sounded off to his own ears, harsh and rough.

“You haven’t heard a word I’ve said.” She leaned back in the booth and stared at him, a sharp, hunted expression in her eyes. “Don’t look at me like that.”

“Like what?”

Silence hung over them, awkward and cold. She said nothing, and he could see her searching for the right words, fighting the edge of panic. “Like you’re looking to start rumors. Captain America doesn’t sleep with members of his team, remember? Violates some superhero code or something.”

“I wasn’t planning on sleeping with anyone, let alone with you,” he said dryly.

She laughed out loud and just like that, the tension snapped and fizzled into an almost comfortable silence. “Well played, Captain America. Well played.” She paused then. “Do you have any issues with this training plan?”

He studied the chart that outlined the key measures of success for the convoy operations. After a long moment, he glanced up at her. Shadows fell across her face, casting it in a soft, subtle glow. “No. The timeline sucks, but the convoy stuff is a good plan.”

“All right, that does it,” she snapped.

“What?”

“You’ve never said ‘good job’ to me on anything. What’s wrong with you?”


Jessica Scott is a career army officer, mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs, wife to a career NCO and wrangler of all things stuffed and fluffy. She has commanded two companies, served in Germany, Korea, Fort Hood and Iraq, and been lucky not to get fired. She is a terrible cook and even worse housekeeper, but she's a pretty good shot with her assigned weapon and someone liked some of the stuff she wrote. Somehow, her children are pretty well adjusted and her husband still loves her, despite burned water and a messy house.

You can find Jessica online at her website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads


Until There Was You by Jessica Scott

Book #2 in the Coming Home series

He plays by the rules, she’s not afraid to break them. Now these two strong-willed army captains will prove that opposites attract . . .

A by-the-book captain with a West Point background, Captain Evan Loehr refuses to mix business with pleasure—except for an unguarded instance years ago when he succumbed to the deep sensuality of redheaded beauty Claire Montoya. From that moment on, though, Evan has been at odds with her, through two deployments to Iraq and back again. But when he is asked to train a team prepping for combat alongside Claire, battle-worn Evan is in for the fight of his life.

Strong, gutsy, and loyal, Captain Claire Montoya has worked hard to earn the rank on her chest. In Evan, Claire sees a rigid officer who puts the rules before everything else—including his people. When the mission forces them together, Claire soon discovers that there is more to Evan than meets the eye.

He’s more than the rank on his chest; he’s a man with dark secrets and deep longings. For all their differences, Evan and Claire share two crucial passions: their country and each other.

Read my review


Order of the series:

Book #1 - Because of You - read my review
Book #2 - Until There Was You - read my review
Book #3 - Back to You - to be released in 2013


GIVEAWAY RULES:

There are 2 giveaways going on:

Blog giveaway

Jessica has generously offered an ebook copy of Until There Was You to a lucky commenter!

 
To be entered just leave a comment and tell us: Which novels gave you "book hangovers"?

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 5 October 2012!

Good luck!


Grand prize giveaway

ENTER TO WIN THE GRAND PRIZE OF A KINDLE FIRE OR A NOOK COLOR!

To celebrate the long awaited release of her second book, Jessica's having a super giveaway the UNTIL THERE WAS YOU PREORDER SWEEPSTAKES all throughout September until Oct 7th!

To enter the contest, forward your email receipt of purchase of UNTIL THERE WAS YOU to:  "contest@jessicascott.net” . Entries must be received by OCTOBER 7, 11:59pm EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 7 October 2012!


You can preorder UNTIL THERE WAS YOU at these ebookstores or wherever ebooks are sold!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Guest post by Ruthanne Reid + Giveaway

Today's guest is Ruthanne Reid, author of the epic and apocalyptic new science fiction/dystopian novel: The Sundered. Ruthanne not only stops by to tell you about her novel but also share with you an exclusive excerpt and offer a copy of her book to a lucky reader, so please give her a warm welcome and leave a comment for your chance to get your hands on The Sundered! :-) Take it away Ruthanne.

I love apocalypse.

This is a weird thing to say. I don’t particularly want to go through an apocalypse, but stories that take me there – to the end of all things, or to the kind of choice that changes history irrevocably and inexorably – delights me.

I love the kind of hope heroes bring to such situations. I love the tiny stories of success and sorrow, the threads of humanity (and better-than-humanity) that rise in those times. Patrick Rothfuss and Neil Gaiman often bring me to that emotional point, that turn-of-no-return, even over as small a thing as a cat who loves his family enough to fight the devil for them.

Maybe that’s not so small, come to think of it, but then, my sense of drama is spoiled by Tolkien.

And now… I have a treat for you. Here is a never-before-seen, exclusive tidbit that isn’t in the book – a short meditation by Aakesh, a Sundered slave who’s more than what he seems. Enjoy!

My world is not your world.

You see only water, black and still, a mirror to your dark reflections. I see life – my creator, my lover, she who embraces us when we die.

You see lowly slaves, broken creatures, monsters made dull by your control. I see brothers, sisters. Family in servitude, in humiliation, suffering pain that leads to death.

You see yourselves as masters, supreme. You see your glory, the structure and safety of your cities, the great creations of your past barely remembered in moldy books and mutated histories. I see a people who have forgotten who they are, content to feed pride for things they did not accomplish while letting their own culture die.

You see what you were. I see what you could be.

I do not see glory when I look at you. I see ruin. I see beings with the ability to create, with the skill and talent to make new from nothing, like little gods. I see people who choose to wallow in their vices instead. I see men who waste their strength and women who waste their beauty. I see children taught not to love and create, but to take, to use, to enjoy, and destroy.

I see a people rotting with the disease your so-called freedoms have brought you. I also see a cure.

Do you know what you could be, humans? Do you have any concept of the colors you can mix, the shapes, the new tales of heroism and love which did not exist before you imagined them? Do you have any idea how we feel when you sing, when you pull limited notes, like magic, into new and seemingly endless configurations? You do not. You need to be saved from yourselves.

There are those of us who would help you. Who would, at least, try - but first, we must be saved by your hand, and from it.

If we fall, you fall.

If only you understood.


Finally, a question for you, faithful reader (which you want to answer ‘cause then you’ll be entered into a giveaway for one paperback book or one ebook copy of The Sundered): How do you define a hero? Is sacrifice the key? Innate “goodness” (which should be defined itself)? Talk to me. Tell me what you think.

Ruthanne Reid was raised in the woods, but fortunately her isolation was offset by regular visits to New York City. She pursued music for years before realizing she wanted to tell stories rather than sing them.

Ruthanne has lived on both US coasts (she prefers the West one), is distantly related to royalty, and has sung in a thousand-year-old cathedral. Her favorite authors tend to be dramatic (J. R. R. Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss), but she doesn’t see this as a bad thing.

Writing in and around Seattle, she owns dust-covered degrees in music and religion, and is generally considered dangerous around household electronics. She belongs to a husband, a housemate, and a cat, respectively.

The Sundered is her first novel.

Connect with Ruthanne at: WebsiteTwitter / Facebook


Harry Iskinder knows the rules. Don't touch the water, or it will pull you under. Conserve food, because there's no arable land. Use Sundered slaves gently, or they die too quickly to be worthwhile.

With extinction on the horizon and a world lost to deadly flood, Harry searches for a cure: the Hope of Humanity, the mysterious artifact that gave humans control over the Sundered centuries ago. According to legend, the Hope can fix the planet.

But the Hope holds more secrets than Harry knows. Powerful Sundered Ones willingly bow to him just to get near it. Ambitious enemies pursue him, sure that the Hope is a weapon. Friends turn their backs, afraid Harry will choose wrong.

And Harry has a choice to make. The time for sharing the Earth is done. Either the Sundered survive and humanity ends, or humanity lives for a
while, but the Sundered are wiped out.

He never wanted this choice. He still has to make it. In his broken, flooded world, Hope comes with a price.


GIVEAWAY RULES:

Ruthanne has generously offered a copy of The Sundered to a lucky commenter!


To be entered just leave a comment answering Ruthanne's question: How do you define a hero? Is sacrifice the key? Innate “goodness” (which should be defined itself)?

Giveaway is openw orldwide and ends on 5 October 2012!

Good luck!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Guest post by Alex Hughes + Giveaway

Today I am very happy to welcome to Ex Libris and introduce you to Alex Hughes, the author behind a new sensational urban fantasy series, the Mindpsace Investigations series, the first novel of which Clean just got released. As you can see in my review I enjoyed it a lot, especially the narrator's sarcastic dry humour which often came out to play during the scenes he had to think of 3 things weekly for which he was grateful for. Those scenes at times made me chuckle and other times made me think. So I am very glad to see that Alex is back sharing with us 3 things she is grateful for. :-)


Three Grateful Things
by Alex Hughes

In Clean, Swartz makes the main character come up with three things every week that he’s grateful for. Sometimes it’s stupid little things (gummy worms, for example) and sometimes it’s big life changes. Today I’m going to give myself the same challenge.

What I’m Grateful For Right Now:

1. Life, Health, and Strength

I woke up this morning able to see, to walk, to breathe, to think, and with a roof over my head. Any day that happens is a day I need to be grateful.

2. Sam

An amazing guy, an amazing husband, a rock, and my best friend. Plus he helps with the roof over my head, which I appreciate.

3. Writing

Not only do I get to play with my imaginary friends all day, but somebody thinks they’re cool enough to publish. Plus the readers – you incredible, amazing readers – who are already sending me notes about the book and recommending it to friends. Seriously, you guys rock.

You know, I already feel happier and more in control. Gratefulness is cool like that :-)

And what about you guys – what are you grateful for today?


Book #1 in the Mindspace Investigations series

A RUTHLESS KILLER—OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND

I used to work for the Telepath’s Guild before they kicked me out for a drug habit that wasn’t entirely my fault. Now I work for the cops, helping Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino put killers behind bars. My ability to get inside the twisted minds of suspects makes me the best interrogator in the department. But the normals keep me on a short leash. When the Tech Wars ripped the world apart, the Guild stepped up to save it. But they had to get scary to do it—real scary. Now the cops don’t trust the telepaths, the Guild doesn’t trust me, a serial killer is stalking the city—and I’m aching for a fix. But I need to solve this case. Fast. I’ve just had a vision of the future: I’m the next to die.



Alex has written since early childhood, and loves great stories in any form including scifi, fantasy, and mystery. Over the years, Alex has lived in many neighborhoods of the sprawling metro Atlanta area. Decatur, the neighborhood on which Clean is centered, was Alex’s college home.

On any given week you can find Alex in the kitchen cooking gourmet Italian food, watching hours of police procedural dramas, and typing madly.

Connect with Alex at: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


GIVEAWAY RULES:

Alex has very generously offered a $10 USD Amazon gift card to a lucky commenter!


Just leave a comment for Alex and tell us what are you grateful for today?

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 5 October 2012!

Good luck!

For another chance to win a $10 USD Amazon gift card and a Clean cover flat enter at Book Lovers Inc.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Guest post by Rebecca Rogers Maher + Giveaway


Today I welcome to Ex Libris Rebecca Rogers Maher who is celebrating the release of her latest novel Fault Lines published by Carina Press just yesterday, congratulations Rebecca! :-) 

Fault Lines starts off with a premise that readers would (erroneously) think as rose-y: a wedding coordinator meets a photographer. But it is not a cotton candy romance, far from it. I was curious and intrigued so I had to ask Rebecca:

How did the idea come to you to mix the usually pastel colours and fluffy frosting world of wedding planners with haunted characters and a darker romance? What were the challenges of venturing away from the beaten path? Weren't you afraid you might shock or scare readers away?

Rebecca Rogers Maher: First, thank you so much for having me here today at Ex Libris!

This is such a great question.

You’re right that the premise of Fault Lines – “wedding coordinator meets photographer” – sounds like the lead-in to a cotton candy romance. And Fault Lines is definitely not cotton candy.

Sarah the wedding coordinator is a rape survivor, and Joe the photographer is a man with a difficult past of his own. Their story is heart wrenching and to me, utterly beautiful, but fluffy it is not.

Then again, real life rarely is. And that’s what I’m interested in writing about. Real life. Real women. Real, messy, gorgeous love.

Sarah is a strong, complicated heroine. She works hard and loves deeply, but when it comes to men, she’s frozen. She brings Joe home to bed with the intention of defusing the attraction she feels for him, but he takes her by surprise in a profoundly emotional and hot love scene. That sets into motion a process of facing lots of buried feelings, including painful memories of the past. Which in real life is a very, very hard thing to do.

Here’s the thing. I’m not afraid to say the word rape. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), one in six women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. This is happening all around us. And it’s not just happening to other people. It’s happening to teachers, nurses, mothers, sisters, wedding coordinators, friends – it can happen to anyone. And when it happens, it is devastating.

I guess my question would be, doesn’t a woman who’s survived something like this deserve love? Doesn’t she deserve a happy ending? After all she’s been through?

I like cotton candy romances. But I also like stories with depth and authenticity. One of my favorite aspects of romance writing is that my characters get to have a happy ending. Whatever happens to them, I know they are going to find love, peace and joy in the end. To me, giving a happy ending to someone who’s genuinely suffered is much more satisfying than giving a fluffy person a fluffy white cloud to fly away on at the end of their fluffy story.

Of course the challenge in writing a more serious romance novel is being aware of readers’ expectations. I know that people often pick up romance books as an escape. (I certainly do.) So it can be jarring to get twenty pages into one of my books and realize how tough the story is going to be. But I believe that can be its own form of escape. Like riding on a roller coaster, or jumping out of a plane. It’s intense, but it’s also exhilarating. You feel it in your gut and in your heart, and it stays with you.

That’s what Fault Lines does. It’s more of a Thanksgiving meal than a sugary treat. It contains a lot of complex flavors and it takes a long time to digest. And it requires a certain degree of participation from the reader, because it brings up a lot of difficult questions and doesn’t necessarily answer them. But I think my readers have come to expect that from me. I don’t explain Sarah’s every thought or decision, because I know my readers are smart and engaged enough to come to their own conclusions without needing me to explain it to them.

Fault Lines gives a happy ending to a real woman who really deserves one. She’s not perfect, she’s not simple, and she’s not very sweet. But she’s a strong, funny, smart woman, like many women I know. And she deserves love.

I’ll take that over cotton candy any day.

Thank you again for having me here! It’s been great talking with you.

Come join me over on Facebook. I’m very chatty there!

Fault Lines by Rebecca Rogers Maher

Sarah Murphy plans other people’s weddings. She’s gorgeous and successful, but she also carries a dark secret.

At one of her events, she meets Joe Sullivan, a sexy photographer with a difficult past of his own. When he snaps a rare unguarded photograph of her and captures the real person hiding behind the facade, she feels exposed. To restore the upper hand, she tries to do what she always does: use sex to defuse the situation.

While Joe is eager to deepen his relationship with Sarah,
he’s aware of her emotional shield and the way she disconnects from her body. Seeing her at her most vulnerable doesn’t scare him off, but he needs to know what she’s hiding.

Sarah has a tough decision to make. Does she want to go on living a lonely, emotionally frozen life? Or can she finally risk revealing the truth and move forward with Joe?


Rebecca Rogers Maher lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and children.

Contact her at her website / Twitter / Facebook



GIVEAWAY RULES:

One lucky commenter will win a copy of Fault Lines by Rebecca Rogers Maher!


Just leave a comment regarding Rebecca's post or tell us: do you prefer cotton candy or more serious romances?  

The more tour stops you comment on, the greater your chances of winning! Follow the tour HERE.

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 28 September 2012!

Good luck!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Book Review: Clean by Alex Hughes

Title: Clean
Author: Alex Hughes
Series: Book #1 in the Mindspace Investigations series
Release Date: 4 September 2012
Number of pages: 352 pages
Publisher: Roc
Source: eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon, Kindle store, Book Depository

Grade: 4 stars

Novellus superbus!
Goodreads appetuzer: A RUTHLESS KILLER—OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND

I used to work for the Telepath’s Guild before they kicked me out for a drug habit that wasn’t entirely my fault. Now I work for the cops, helping Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino put killers behind bars. My ability to get inside the twisted minds of suspects makes me the best interrogator in the department. But the normals keep me on a short leash. When the Tech Wars ripped the world apart, the Guild stepped up to save it. But they had to get scary to do it—real scary. Now the cops don’t trust the telepaths, the Guild doesn’t trust me, a serial killer is stalking the city—and I’m aching for a fix. But I need to solve this case. Fast. I’ve just had a vision of the future: I’m the next to die.

My Thoughts: Clean is the first book in Alex Hughes new exciting gritty urban fantasy series: the first in the Mindspace Investigations novels. We are sometime in the future where things are a bit changed and unfamiliar (artificial organs, anti- graviton generators for flying cars, drug-assisted telepathy), but not too far-fetched or unrealistic to make it difficult for the reader to picture or comprehend them (like deadly toxic rainwater). However it is interesting to see that due to the horrible Tech Wards when technology turned against mankind, now computers and other IT electronics are considered evil and kept at the most basic unharmful level:

“So if it took three days to send an e-mail through all the layers of Quarantine, if the small Web was regarded with the same respect/ fear as a pit viper, if even Cherabino had to have a thorough background check and be monitored constantly in the Electronic Crimes works for fear she’d come across something truly dangerous, well, a lot of people had died in the Tech Wars.”

The world-building of the series is fascinating and I still feel that it wasn’t explored to its full potential in the first book: we got a few mentions of the different kinds of abilities special people have like telepaths (‘teeps’), teleporters (‘jumpers’), etc. and there are even different categories within these classes:

“Psych, Off, and Construct.” When her eyes narrowed, I explained. “Psych is trained in psychology and telepathy; they treat mental illness. If you want somebody to lose their mommy issues for good, you call Psych.”
“So schizophrenia and stuff?” she asked.
“No, schizophrenia is actually a brain-chemistry or mind-structure issue—Biochem or Construct. Psych treats the more normal kinds of mental illness, usually the severe ones talk therapy doesn’t touch. Off is Offensive Battle, the black ops guys. They’re trained to kill, because, well, that’s what they do for a living. They’re all at least a little crazy by definition, and mostly you hope it’s not at you. And Construct—the deconstructionists—well, we’re the structure guys. The mind, not the brain, though the two influence each other. If you want a criminal to literally not be able to think about molesting children again, or if you’ve lost your ability to see color from a brain injury and you want it back, or if you want to literally upgrade your personal memory and remember more of what you see, we’re the guys you call.”

The story is narrated by our nameless hero, who has worked for the Guild (a mysterious kind of Ministry of Magic) as an extremely high telepath but since he was fired due to his drug addiction, he now works for the local police department, helping the cops with interrogations (comes in handy being able to see/hear what the suspect is thinking about ;-) ) and especially assisting Isabella Cherabino, a tough and efficient detective.

I really enjoyed the voice of the hero in Clean, first of all I found it very unique and refreshing to have a male protagonist in an urban fantasy (besides Clean I have only read one other with a hero narrator: the Gavyn Donatti series by Sonya Bateman), and I found the tone of his narrative honest and unreserved.

“I was not the guy I was ten years ago. I was not the golden boy, the genius professor, the idealist anymore. I was a drug addict, a cynic— a doubter.”

He was truthful with his shortcomings, his weaknesses and doubts, and getting a glimpse into the mind of an ex-addict was enlightening. It was interesting to see his constant never ending battle against his addiction, that it is an everyday nonstop thought in the back of his head. I finally understood what addicts mean when they say that they remain addicts forever for the rest of their life, they just strive to be sober for one day at a time.

On the other hand I am still ambivalent about Cherabino, our heroine. She is a strong woman lives for justice and doing her job, but she came off rather bitchy always hostile and cranky towards the hero and the world. That’s why his affection for her was like a self inflicted punishment. I hope that in the next books Cherabino will accept and make peace with their connection and let him closer to her, not just for the sake of some romance (which I would love to see of course!) but also for her to achieve some peace and contentment. She had an awfully traumatic past and I get that she is still scarred and broken, that’s why she needs to have someone care about her.

“I thought of Cherabino. Beautiful Cherabino, strong, angry, quiet, sad Cherabino. The woman who’d brought greenhouse-grown lilies to her husband’s grave. The one who’d taught me that being beaten up wasn’t the end, and how to fight back. The woman who’d dragged me kicking and screaming into a healthy life, again and again, with no regard for the consequences to herself. The woman who’d called me a failure and meant it. Cherabino in the living room with the silky robe, her hair loose and beautiful, her body . . . I moved that one aside. Cherabino.”

Despite Clean being rather a dark and gloomy urban fantasy story the hero’s honest, self-deprecating and sarcastic sense of humour made me chuckle several times:
“I have to be at the . . . You’ve already set up a meeting with Kara?” she barked. “What did you do, send a psychic message by pigeon?” “Something like that.” Most people called it the phone, but if I got social capital from the mystery, so be it.
Swartz let me sit for about thirty seconds before grilling me. “So, what are you grateful for this week?”
“Puppies. Sunshine. Rainbows.”

Regarding a cop having been kidnapped:
“Rumor had it [the captain] had told her getting herself kidnapped was against department policy. An amateur mistake.”

Verdict: Clean is a dark and gritty urban fantasy with fascinating and rich world-building, a unique and genuine hero who has weaknesses and self questioning and does not gloss over his doubts and insecurities. I am very much looking forward to the next novels not only to read about another heart-pounding mystery but also to discover more about the secondary characters and get a more complex understanding of them (and of course to see a relationship blossom between the hero and Cherabino :-D).

Plot: 7/10
Characters: 8/10
Writing: 9/10
Ending: 9/10 - perfect last lines :-)
Cover: 9/10 - very memorable and gives a good sense of the story

Order of the series:

Book #1 - Clean
Book #2 - Sharp
Book #2.5 - Payoff

Review originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.

Buy at:

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery


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