Thursday, May 29, 2014

Review: A CASUAL WEEKEND THING by AJ Thomas #AmReading

Doug Heavy Runner left the life of an openly gay Miami police officer and returned to his home on the Salish-Kootenai Indian Reservation when his mother got sick. In the two years since she passed, he’s carved out an empty life as a small-town deputy, relying on out-of-town one-night stands to keep him sane. Then he meets Detective Christopher Hayes, and they share a wild night so incredible Doug breaks his own rule and allows a one-night stand to grow into a weekend of amazing sex.

When Christopher travels from San Diego to Montana to deal with his abusive brother’s suicide, he doesn’t expect to find the man he spent the weekend with to be handling his brother’s case. He certainly doesn’t mind spending more time with Doug—but then an arsonist destroys the house Christopher inherited from his brother, and Christopher and Doug discover they are the primary suspects.

As they investigate, they discover Christopher’s dead brother has set them on the trail of a psychotic pedophile who will stop at nothing to silence his last victim. However, the search for the victim goes horribly wrong, leaving Doug hospitalized and Christopher at the mercy of the killer….

Just finished the audio book of A Casual Weekend Thing by A.J. Thomas. Great story, but I almost couldn't get through it because of the narrator. He had the least sexy voice ever. For some books, that would work fine, but he made all the guys in this book sound like creepers. I see there is a second book out. I hope when Dreamspinner produces the audio version, they chose a more appropriate reader.

As far as the story goes...I enjoyed the characterization. Christopher and Doug were interesting, thought I really wish the author would have left off the lame back story and nightmares for Doug. It felt like an afterthought, and didn't really add to his character or the plot. I liked his struggles with prejudice as a Native American. That was enough. No need to try to make him more damaged.

The plot moved quickly. There was enough mystery to keep me guessing. The love story was handled well. I liked that it showed even relationships with sleezey beginnings can find their happily ever after.

Overall, I give A Casual Weekend Thing...

Plot - 4 1/2 bookmarks
Character Development - 4 bookmarks (I'm just going to go ahead and pretend Doug's stupid back story with the boy from college didn't exist.)
Love Story - 5 bookmarks (Felt very natural.)

Dream cast (Otherwise known as who I pictured while reading/listening) - This was tough, because the narrator had me picturing Ron Jeremy. I suppose if I were reading this book my brain would have pictured Adam Beach (Doug) and Cam Gigandet (Christopher).

Monday, May 26, 2014

Review: CRISS CROSS & BODY AND SOUL by @jordancprice #PsychicsRock #AmReading

The PsyCop series by Jordan Castillo Price is quickly becoming some of my favorite books. I just finished books 2 & 3, so thought I’d review them together. Here goes!

Criss Cross

Criss Cross finds the ghosts surrounding Victor getting awfully pushy. The medications that Victor usually takes to control his abilities are threatening to destroy his liver, and his new meds aren't any more effective than sugar pills.

Vic is also adjusting to a new PsyCop partner, a mild-mannered guy named Roger with all the personality of white bread. At least he's willing to spring for the Starbucks.

Jacob's ex-boyfriend, Crash, is an empathic healer who might be able to help Victor pull his powers into balance, but he seems more interested in getting into Victor’s pants than in providing any actual assistance.

The thing I like about this series is how unique it is. The writing is witty and inventive. I just love the world that the author has built. Victor is an unlikely hero. He is a mess, literally and figuratively, and he has a bit of a drug problem. Sometimes I have a hard time picturing him doing any actual police work. But somehow it works!

Jacob, on the other hand, is the very definition of Hero with a capital “H”. I don’t know why, but I was suspicious of him in the first book. He is just too perfect, too much of a police department Golden Boy. My opinion of Jacob has changed a lot through this book. I don’t know what I read in the first book that raised a red flag with me, but it’s gone now. Jacob can’t help it if he is a good guy. Victor desperately needs someone to love him like Jacob does. And he obviously has good taste in men, because I loved Crash as much as I love Victor. (Please tell me Crash gets his own story.)

The plot of this story is fast-paced. The ghosts around Victor are creepy and obnoxious. The humor is smart. What’s not to love?

Body and Soul

Thanksgiving can't end too soon for Victor Bayne, who's finding Jacob's family hard to swallow. Luckily, he's called back to work to track down a high-profile missing person.

Meanwhile, Jacob tries to find a home they can move into that's not infested--with either cockroaches, or ghosts. As if the house-hunting isn't stressful enough, Vic's new partner Bob Zigler doesn't seem to think he can do anything right. A deceased junkie with a bone to pick leads Vic and Zig on a wild chase that ends in a basement full of horrors.

The opening scene with Victor in small-town Wisconsin having Thanksgiving dinner was hilarious! And creepy. And hilariously creepy. 

So now Victor is trying to function without his spirit-suppressing drugs, but the constant chatter from noisy ghosts might just make him go insane. I feel for Victor, because like a lot of people, he can’t seem to find a balance between using and abusing prescription medication. For years he has over medicated as a way to cope. Now he is trying to cut the meds out cold-turkey. Poor Victor.

The cool thing about this book is we get to see Victor act a little more like a police officer. He carries a gun and everything. Not that he didn’t in prior books, but it felt more like a prop before. He also can’t use Lisa’s si-no as a crutch anymore either. This leaves good old-fashioned police work to solve a missing persons case with a gruesome ending.

Speaking of endings, Body and Soul ends with the most romantic scene yet. Beautiful!
Plot - 5 bookmarks
Character development - 5 bookmarks (Packs a lot into novella length books.)
Love/Sex - 5 bookmarks (Getting more romantic as the books go on.)
Humor - 5 bookmarks (These books actually make me laugh. Not an easy feat.)

Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Matthew Gray Gubler (Victor), Channing Tatum (Jacob), Michelle Rodriguez (Lisa), Cherry Jones (Carolyn), Boyd Holbrook (Crash)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Review: WE ARE THE GOLDENS by Dana Reinhardt #AmReading @dsreinhardt

Nell knows a secret about her perfect, beautiful sister Layla. If she tells, it could blow their world apart.

When Nell and Layla were little, Nell used to call them Nellaya. Because to Nell, there was no difference between where she started and her adored big sister ended. They're a unit; divorce made them rely on each other early on, so when one pulls away, what is the other to do? But now, Nell's a freshman in high school and Layla is changing, secretive. And then Nell discovers why. Layla is involved with one of their teachers. And even though Nell tries to support Layla, to understand that she's happy and in love, Nell struggles with her true feelings: it's wrong, and she must do something about it.

My review is going to have some mild spoilers. While I hate to do that, I really must talk about the ending here. I’m not going to tell you the ending; rather, I am going to talk about the literary device used at the end of this book -- the zero ending. For those of you who did not major in literature, the zero ending is one where the climax of the story occurs off screen after the last page. In other word, the narrative ends before the climax of the story. Short story writers like Raymond Carver, Ernest Hemingway and Anton Chekov used this type of ending with great success. But that was for short stories. I just don’t think the zero ending works well in a novel. Especially a young adult novel.

I guess I just think if I am going to invest the time and energy into reading a whole novel, I want more of a pay-off at the end than the whole choose-your-own-ending. And if the zero ending irritates me, I think teens are going to whip the book against the wall in blind rage.

Before you get the wrong idea, it wasn’t a bad book. Well, the point of view was a little annoying, and Nell and Layla were both too naive for words, but other than that... um... I know! I loved the best friend, Felix! He needs his own book. The scenes where he and Nell are speaking in faux Shakespearian were hilarious.

Overall, I give We Are the Goldens...

Plot - 3 bookmarks (a little predictable)
Character Development - 3 bookmarks (might have felt like more of a character arch had there been an ending)

Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Elle Fanning (Nell), Dakota Fanning (Layla)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Author Spotlight! Contemporary romance author LISA BECKER. #NewRelease @lisawbecker

Back in 2011, I reviewed Click: An Online Love Story by Lisa Becker, a fun, romantic comedy about the modern quest for love. I am so happy to have Lisa back on the blog today talking the latest in the Click series, Right Click.

Welcome back, Lisa. Thank you so much for joining us today. Can you tell us a little about what inspired you to write about cyber-dating and online romance?

My husband and I met online on a popular dating website.  After we married, I was recalling some of the hilarious experiences that I had with both traditional and online dating.  I decided to capture some of them in writing and from there, a novel emerged.   Click is loosely based on my real-life dating experiences, as well as stories friends have shared with me.  In some cases, things are written as they actually occurred.  Other scenarios are exaggerated for entertainment value or comedic affect.  And some scenarios are completely fictionalized. I really did go out on a date with someone I met online who started every story (no joke!) with “My buddies and I were out drinking last night.”   The ultimate goal was to create a fun read for anyone who has ever had a bad date, been in love, been dumped, or is searching for "the one." But, the happy ending is real.  Steve and I have been happily married for more than 10 years and have two amazing daughters - ages 9 and 7. 

Aw, I'm so glad things worked out for you. One of the things I like about your writing is the unique style of telling a story through emails. What are the challenges to writing in an email format? Does the format make character development harder to pull off?

Many years ago, I read a book called e by Matthew Beaumont which tells the story of a fictitious ad agency vying for a big account, with the story all told in emails.  I thought that narrative style would work really well for the story I wanted to tell about the online dating world.  It was a modern way of storytelling that fit the topic and the times.  The hardest part was keeping the timeline and email exchanges organized.  Sometimes, I would have to look back a few pages earlier to make sure I had cc’d or bcc’d the right people on an email and that the subject lines were consistent.  In some cases, there were replies to forwards to replies.  Keeping it all straight was a challenge, but essential to the book’s format. 

How did you become a writer? Was it a life-long dream or something you stumbled into?

I remember writing short stories and poems as a little girl and always told myself I would write a book someday.  So, it’s incredibly gratifying to see a “bucket list” item/dream come true.  People keep asking if there will be a sequel.  I’m thrilled readers are feeling invested in the characters and want to know more.  With each positive review and reader comment, I get more and more motivated to continue writing. 

You have chosen to indie publish your books. How has this process worked for you? What made you decide to go the self-publishing route?

I always tell people, don’t write off (HA! Like the pun?!?) self-publishing.  I explored the traditional publishing route and got feedback from multiple literary agents. One in particular explained the current economic state of the publishing industry to me. Due to the large investment to edit, produce, distribute and market a work by an unknown author, many large publishers won’t take the risk. Self-publishing is a way to get your work out there.

It was a surprisingly simple process.  The hardest part is marketing your work, so I’m especially grateful to blogs like yours for supporting my efforts.  

I'm also reminded of some advice I was once given. I had interviewed Charles Rosen, one of the producers of the original Beverly Hills 90210, for an alumni magazine article while I was in graduate school. And I'll never forget what he told me, "Don't fall in love with your words, because somebody above will probably change them." One of the great benefits of self-publishing is that you can really take control of the process.

What are your writing plans after the Click series is finished? Anything new we can look forward to down the road?

Like most everyone else in Los Angeles, I’ve decided to try my hand at screenwriting.  I’m nearly finished with my first script called Clutch.  It’s a light romantic comedy about a young single handbag designer in Los Angeles who has a series of relationships that she equates to different style handbags, searching for “the one” she wants to hold onto or “clutch.”  Hoping it is coming to a theatre near you soon. 

That's so cool! If it makes it to the big screen, you are welcome to come back here to promote it. :) Before you go, can you tell us how your fans cyber-stalk you?

Find Lisa here: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Pinterest  | Web  and feel free to check out this fun series that reviewers and bloggers are calling, “clever,” “hilarious” and “full of fun.”

Click: An Online Love Story - Fast approaching her 30th birthday and finding herself not married, not dating, and without even a prospect or a house full of cats, Renee Greene, the heroine of Click: An Online Love Story, reluctantly joins her best guy pal on a journey to find love online in Los Angeles. The story unfolds entirely through emails between Renee and her best friends (anal-compulsive Mark, the overly-judgmental Ashley and the over-sexed Shelley) as well as the gentlemen suitors she meets online. From the guy who starts every story with "My buddies and I were out drinking one night," to the egotistical “B” celebrity looking for someone to stroke his ego, Renee wades into the shallow end of the dating (cess)pool and endures her share of hilarious and heinous cyber dates. Fraught with BCC's, FWD's and inadvertent Reply to All's, readers will cheer, laugh, cry and cringe following the email exploits of Renee and friends. And ultimately, they will root for Renee to "click" with the right man.

Double Click - Fans of the romantic hit Click: An Online Love Story will enjoy another voyeuristic dive into the lives of Renee, Shelley, Ashley, Mark and Ethan, as Double Click picks up with their lives six months later. Are Renee and Ethan soul mates? Does Mark ever go on a date? Has Shelley run out of sexual conquests in Los Angeles? Will Ashley's judgmental nature sabotage her budding relationship? Through a marriage proposal, wedding, new baby and unexpected love twist, Double Click answers these questions and more. Readers will continue to cheer, laugh, cry and cringe following the email exploits of Renee and friends.

Right Click - Love. Marriage.  Infidelity. Parenthood. Crises of identity. Death. Cupcakes. The themes in Right Click, the third and final installment in the Click series, couldn't be more pressing for this group of friends as they navigate through their 30's. Another six months have passed since we last eavesdropped on the hilarious, poignant and often times inappropriate email adventures of Renee and friends. As the light-hearted, slice of life story continues to unfold, relationships are tested and some need to be set "right" before everyone can find their "happily ever after."

Thank you so much for visiting my blog, Lisa. I wish you nothing but the best with your new book!