Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Book Review: ‘Christmas Dog Tails’ by Jennifer Conner

ChristmasDogTails HighRes(1) (1)Here’s another delightful romantic short story collection about Christmas and dogs from Jennifer Conner.
In “Central Bark at Christmas,” Tennyson has just been dumped by her arrogant and insensitive lawyer boyfriend. She swears to stay away from men, believing they’re nothing but bad luck. But then, while walking her dog she meets Par, who, aside from spending time with his dog, seems only to have time for work. But fate has plans for them. They find an abandoned dog and as they care for it and try to find him a home, their destinies become intertwined…
In “Christmas Gift that Keeps Wagging,”  we meet Julian Barrows, a single dad with a kindergarten son who suffers from seizures; and Hannah, the beautiful trainer who specializes in seizure-detecting dogs. Their paths touch when Julian tries to get her dog for his son. The problem is, it’s incredibly expensive. Fate has other plans, and the magic of Christmas works its way into their lives…A heart-warming story with an ending that will pull at your heart strings.
And my favorite of the three: “Dog Tags for Christmas.” In this story, cryptologic network warfare specialist Willa develops a platonic relationship via Skype with third generation army brat Eben, currently based in Afghanistan. In spite of the distance that separates them, what begins as an innocently friendly chat develops into a full-blown romance. Eben then rescues a stray dog he finds in the street and brings it into camp with him. After two months, Eben can’t believe so many loving relationships have come into his life. First Willa, then Hero — the name Willa gives the dog. Suddenly, that empty hollow feeling of needing someone to care for and in turn care about has been returned…twice. But will Eben be able to return home safely, bring his new beloved pet with him, and join the woman he loves in time for Christmas?
Jennifer Conner has a talent for uplifting, romance stories, and this collection that incorporates Christmas and dogs doesn’t disappoint! A fervent dog lover, Conner wants to bring awareness to others with information regarding adopting shelter/rescue animals, and these stories show just how dogs bring so much into our lives. The heroes are the guys next door, with big hearts. The heroines are independent and smart, yet sensitive and vulnerable. I love how the author develops their relationships, and how their love grows. If you love dogs and love stories, give yourself a gift this holiday season and buy yourself a copy.
Find out more on Amazon.
My review was previously published in Blogcritics.

Happy Holidays From As the Page Turns!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Book Review: ‘Beware of the White’ by Kai Strand

ImageThis middle-grade novel was an entertaining, delightful read!
Terra is a sweet, smart girl, very close to her mom, and not what one might call popular at school. In fact, she’s often a bit bullied at times. She also suffers in silence for the death of her dad years ago.
The action begins soon after Terra’s 12th birthday, when she receives an unexpected visit from a mysterious Spirit Ambassador who tells Terra she’s a Nature Spirit of the Underworld and who escorts her to the secret, underground city of Concord. As is the tradition, Terra must now begin to learn what talents she possesses and how best to use them in the Underworld cities. Thus, she embarks on a journey of discovery; she must learn her reason for being there and she must also learn about those she is there to help. Soon, everybody agrees she’s the Spirit in the prophecy, the one being who will fight Blanco, the evil leader of the Trepidus, and bring back peace to Concord — a daunting quest for one so young, especially one who doubts her skills and talents.
I thoroughly enjoyed Beware of the White. This is the start of an exciting fantasy series (The Concord Chronicles) for tweens. There’s mystery, action and adventure, and even a hint of romance between Terra and her protector, Frank, a Security Spirit. Author Kai Strand does an excellent job with her world building, creating a fascinating, original universe that will appeal to young readers. Terra is a sympathetic protagonist, one who bravely faces her problems in spite of her insecurities. Readers will root for her as she embarks on her quest to fulfill the prophecy and find her destiny. The writing itself flows beautifully, and is very appropriate for the tween audience. Strand makes every word count. Recommended for fans of fantasy!
Visit Kai Strand’s website.
Purchase Beware of the White from Amazon.
 My review was originally published in Blogcritics.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Interview with Sabrina York, author of 'Heart of Ash'

Her Royal Hotness, Sabrina York, writes naked erotic fiction for fans who like it hot, hard and balls-to-the-wall, and erotic romance and fantasy for readers who prefer a slow burn to passion. 
An award winning author of hot, humorous stories for smart and sexy readers, her titles range from sweet & sexy erotic romance to BDSM to erotic horror. Connect with her on twitter @sabrina_york, on Facebook or on Pinterest. Check out Sabrina’s books and read an excerpt on Amazon or wherever e-books are sold. Visit her webpage at www.sabrinayork.com to check out her books, excerpts and contests. Don’t forget to enter to win the royal tiara!

Win Sabrina’s MEGA Romanticon Swag Giveaway http://sabrinayork.com/win-sabrinas-romanticon-2013-fantasy-basket/ (deadline December 30th)
Free Teaser Book: http://sabrinayork.com/home-2/sabrina-yorks-teaser-book/
Newsletter & contest: http://sabrinayork.com/sabrinas-contest-and-newsletter/

Like my Facebook Author Page https://www.facebook.com/SabrinaYorkBooks
Follow me on Twitter @sabrina_york
Follow me on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5817917.Sabrina_York
Check out my Pintrest boards: http://www.pinterest.com/sabrinayork/boards/
Like my Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Sabrina-York/e/B00856PDEO/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1382929432&sr=8-2-ent
Check out my Barnes & Noble Author page: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/sabrina-york
Follow me on Ellora’s Cave: https://www.ellorascave.com/index.php/authors/index/author/slug/sabrina-york/

Congratulations on your new book! Can you tell us what it's about?

-->A Scorching One Night Stand…A Passion that Could Burn Them Both to Ash
Heart of Ash: A Tryst Island Erotic Romance (Erotic Contemporary, Available on Amazon)
When Emily Donahue sets eyes on Ash Bristol, she is convinced he’s the one she’d been waiting for, her Prince Charming. But wealthy playboy Ash Bristol’ has been burned. He’s sworn off relationships, vowing to have nothing more than a series of steamy one night stands. So when he meets Emily, the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, he resolves to seduce her, possess her…and walk away.

The passion that ignites between them has him questioning his decision. He begins to suspect he just tossed away the best thing that’s ever happened to him…and vows to win her back.
Can he survive the erotic punishment she—and her friends— devise?

-->Can you tell us about your publishing journey? How did you publish it?
-->My first book, Adam's Obsession, came out in April 2012 from Ellora's Cave as the result of a writing contest. They've published 12 of my titles since then, ranging from Contemporary and Historical erotic romance to erotic horror.

It was so much fun, I decided to self publish the Tryst Island Series, following the adventures of a group of friends sharing a vacation house.

All the stories are connected, but stand alones. Heart of Ash is book 4, the most recent release.

-->Now that you are published, can you give some advice to others who would like to get their book published?
-->I wrote and submitted for years, but things really took off when I learned to make my stories as tight as I possibly could. Take classes on editing, join writing groups and have trusted critique partners. Surround yourself with writers and enjoy the journey!

-->If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
-->I would focus more on having fun and enjoying the relationships I've made along the way. I've met so many amazing people! I spent too much time stressing about "getting somewhere" rather than just enjoying the journey.

-->Where can we buy your book?
-->My books are all available on Amazon. Here is my page link: http://www.amazon.com/Sabrina-York/e/B00856PDEO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

And the Heart of Ash link: http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Tryst-Island-Sabrina-York-ebook/dp/B00FP1NHKE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1387073403&sr=8-1&keywords=heart+of+ash

-->Any final words?       

-->Thank you so much for the opportunity! I encourage anyone who loves steamy romance to check out my titles. You can download my free teaser book to check out my work. 75 pages of blurbs, excerpts and reviews! http://sabrinayork.com/home-2/sabrina-yorks-teaser-book/
And enjoy the journey!!!

Book Review: Hitler's Silver Box, by Allen Malnak

Hitler’s Silver Box is a compelling, exciting thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end.
In a two-story Georgian house in one of Chicago’s affluent suburbs, Max Bloomberg, an old bookseller, is brutally killed. Before murdering him, the killers burn his holy books and ask him for ‘the box.’ The old man refuses to give them any information. However, unbeknown to them, he’s left his secret journal to his nephew.
Enters Dr. Bruce Starkman, Chief ER Resident at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital. Bruce is crushed when he learns about his beloved uncle’s unexpected murder. Although Bruce would like to accept the murder as an unfortunate turn of fate, he soon becomes suspicious. Why was Uncle Max, an orthodox Jew, cremated? Uncle Max would never have allowed cremation. Why was his bookstore vandalized? And why is a black Chevy following Bruce lately? The situation gets more complicated when he inherits a large sum of money and property from his uncle, suddenly making him a suspect.
Thus begins Bruce’s search for the journal, and once he discovers it, the reader is transported to 1945 when Max was 23 years old and a prisoner at the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Tension escalates, innocent people are killed, and together with Miriam, a beautiful and extremely smart Israeli woman with military training, Bruce travels to Paris and the Czech Republic. It quickly becomes evident to Bruce that he must outwit the neo-Nazis and find the silver box his uncle built—and the secret document hidden within it—if he is to save the world from an imminent Nazi resurgence.
The premise is ambitious, the stakes are high. Hitler’s Silver Box is a well-written novel full of non-stop action and suspense. The story is written from multiple points of view separated by chapters. From the beginning, I was hooked. The pace is quick and the scenes full of tension. There’s a lot of dialogue and little exposition, thus propelling the action further. I especially found Max’s journal engrossing and compelling, distressing and shocking. The horror of Max’s story touched me at a profound level. It is one of those tales not easily forgotten. The journal adds depth and another dimension to the book. I also liked how the voice, pace and tone in the journal are different from the rest of the novel. The protagonist, Bruce Starkman, is sympathetic and I really enjoyed all his ‘medical’ insights; it’s obvious the author is a medical doctor himself. Miriam, with her quick tongue, adds a lot of color and spunk to the scenes and I wish she had appeared much earlier in the story. I didn’t care much about Bruce’s ex-girlfriend, who’s quite active in the beginning, though keeping in mind what happens to her, I suspect why the author didn’t make her too likable.
In short, Hitler’s Silver Box is a fast-moving, entertaining read and one of those books that would make a good film. Recommended.
Purchase the book on Amazon and B&N.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Book Review: ‘Secrets and Lies’ by Christine Amsden

Secrets and Lies is the second installment in the Cassie Scot new adult paranormal mystery series. Though there’s a bit of backstory in this novel, it’s preferable to read the books in order, if only to find out from the beginning who Cassie is, how she got started as a detective and, especially, how her romance with Evan evolved. Also to understand the animosity between their families.

In Secrets and Lies, two girls have gone missing from a summer camp and although the local police have already started investigating, Cassie is hired by a family member of the girls to help in the case. Evan, always wanting to protect Cassie, joins her in the investigation.

Because Evan saved Cassie’s life in book 1, Cassie believes she owes him and finds it difficult to deny him what he wants.  This makes life both frustrating and thrilling for Cassie, who is not only an independent, smart, 21-year old sleuth, but she’s also powerfully attracted to him and prone to succumb to his charms…but who can resist a charismatic, handsome warlock?

As the two begin to investigate, it becomes increasingly obvious that magic is involved, and that the girls might still be alive. At the same time, there seems to be a “ghost” or “invisible person” robbing banks in town. Are the robberies and the girls’ disappearance connected in some way? Adding further tension to the mystery is the ongoing war between Cassie and her parents, who betrayed and disowned her in book 1, as well as the unending feud between Cassie’s and Evan’s families, who totally loath each other. This, of course, puts pressure on the young couple, who are not only in lust but also in love.

As Cassie closes in on the villains, tormenting issues about her mother resurface. On her mother’s deathbed, Cassie must make a decision that could forever distance her from her mother or could possibly reunite them — or at least ease some of the tension in the family and improve their relationship. The book isn’t titled Secrets and Lies for nothing, as there are plenty of these in the story, not to mention enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining read. First of all, what I love most about Cassie is her voice. She is very likable and sympathetic, with just the right amount of good qualities and flaws. She’s smart, independent, witty, sensitive, and has a good heart. Amsden does an excellent job with her character’s interiority.

The second aspect of this novel I enjoyed the most is the romance between Cassie and Evan. It’s just the right amount, without veering the plot away from the mystery. It also has its fair share of tension, as we never know how it’s going to end up for these two. The author keeps us guessing in this roller-coaster of a love story.

The pace flows fairly quickly, as this author doesn’t use too much exposition or description. Action and dialogue propel the story forward. The paranormal aspect adds fun and spice to the story without getting overwhelming, and I enjoyed all the magic 101.

The ending left me breathless with a mega-revelation that will have a major impact on the relationship between Cassie and Evan. Having read both books in the series, this is my favorite, and I can’t wait to see what Amsden will come up with in her next installment, soon to come out in 2014. Fans of paranormal mysteries will relish this one!

Find out more on Amazon and B&N.
Visit Christine Amsden’s website.
Originally published in Blogcritics.