Friday, February 26, 2010

Giveaway: Rasner Effect and Without Hesitation: Rasner Effect II

Photobucket Mark Rosendorf is kindly letting us give away an autographed set of his series The Rasner Effect. To read Julie's Reviews click Rasner Effect and Without Hesitation

Please provide the reason you'd like to receive Mark's book in the comments section. You have until Sunday, March 7th at Midnight EST to enter the contest.

Good luck!!

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Guest Blog: Mark Rosendorf

Photobucket Last week I reviewed a sequel called Without Hesitation: Rasner Effect II by Mark Rosendorf. I'm thrilled that Mark has taken time out of his schedule to put together this guest blog.

Last night, I received a review for my second book, “Without Hesitation: The Rasner Effect II,” where the reviewer questioned my sanity. For a writer, this is the ultimate compliment. “Doubtful that a sane mind could ever come up with the twists and turns in these scenes,” she said.

While I enjoyed the comment, it wasn’t anything new. People who know me have been questioning my sanity for years. For the sake of our friendships, I’m going to assume they mean it in the same tongue and cheek way this reviewer does. It brings up the question, though, what kind of a mind do you need to write? Does the quote, “You don’t have to be insane to work here, but it helps” ring true when it comes to writing thrillers?

In my day job, I work as a guidance counselor in the New York City school system at a specialized high school for students who are classified as emotionally disturbed. What makes them so different from everyone else? We all have crazy thoughts. We all have impulses to say or do whatever we want. Of course, we can’t, society frowns on that. My students, however, never learned how to control those impulses. Where we think about revenge and say, “how I wish I could do that,” they act on it, and then suffer the consequences of their actions.

My job, and that of the school, is to work with these teens and try to teach them the social skills they need to fit into society. Part of the training is to teach them that life is not like books or movies, and they can’t always act on their impulses. But, imagine if they could. Imagine if we could. I know I imagine the possibility. In fact, I act on those urges all the time, in my writing. We all have those violent fantasies whenever someone gets on our last nerve, it’s normal to imagine. It’s the reason why the actions of Rick Rasner, Jake Scarberry, Jennifer Duke, even Clara Blue, bring as much admiration as it does scorn for the characters.

Which category do you fit in? Would you hold contempt towards the characters of The Rasner Effect, or live vicariously through them? What would it be like to live in a world where the rules of society don’t apply to you? A never-ending adrenalin rush or an aggressive weight on the conscience? Maybe both?

In the real world, of course, we’d all be disgusted, ostracized and arrested by this sort of behavior. But that’s what makes the fiction world so different.

To see what else is going on in Mark's life, check out his website at Mark Rosendorf.

Continue reading the review...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Jenn's Review: The Girl Who Chased the Moon

Summary: Emily Benedict came to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. Such as, why did Dulcie Shelby leave her hometown so suddenly? And why did she vow never to return? But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew—a reclusive, real-life gentle giant—she realizes that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life: Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor bakes hope in the form of cakes.

Everyone in Mullaby adores Julia Winterson’s cakes — which is a good thing, because Julia can’t seem to stop baking them. She offers them to satisfy the town’s sweet tooth but also in the hope of rekindling the love she fears might be lost forever. Flour, eggs, milk, and sugar... Baking is the only language the proud but vulnerable Julia has to communicate what is truly in her heart. But is it enough to call back to her those she’s hurt in the past?

Can a hummingbird cake really bring back a lost love? Is there really a ghost dancing in Emily’s backyard? The answers are never what you expect. But in this town of lovable misfits, the unexpected fits right in.

Review: I was ecstatic when I learned I would be getting an ARC of Sarah Addison Allen's new book. It is through her work that I've fallen in love with food lit ~and hers are the best of the genre. The Girl Who Chased the Moon does not disappoint. Though I tried to read slow and savour it, I devoured it in a day.

Julia has emotional scars from her teenage years that are still raw, and moving back to the small town where she grew up has, if anything, deepened them. Emily, who doesn't think she'll ever be able to live up to her mother's charitable ways, learns of her clouded past. Allen weaves these two characters together as they learn to face their fears. As always there is a little bit of magic, and a lot of food therapy. Julia's story is not uncommon, but that makes it no less heart breaking. And while I found Emily's story line less captivating, it was still well written.

The fantasy in Allen's books usually takes a less prominent role, than in this novel. Usually it is added whimsy, but here it is at the heart of the mystery surrounding Emily and her mother. Though I enjoyed the story line, there is something about this particular bit of magic that detracted from the story a little bit, making it my third favorite out of Allen's three novels. None the less, I'd rather read Allen than most authors, so it is sure to be one of my favorite books of the year.

Allen's turn of phrase it magnificent and if you've never read one of her books, Julie and I highly recommend you read them ~ all!

Final take: 4.7/5


Continue reading the review...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Julie's Review: Reasons

Summary: Delphi Brent, seriously injured in a hit-and-run accident as a teenager, is ready to spend the summer with old family friends when her parents make a distressing confession: the driver of the car that nearly killed her was one of the three sons of the Laughlin family she's about to visit. They urge her to stay home and let the past be, but she resolves to go out West anyway to learn the truth about what happened the night she was struck and one of the Laughlin sons died. However, in reconnecting with the Laughlins, who operate a sprawling ranch in Colorado, Delphi learns a lot not only about brothers and families, but also about the reasons people keep secrets, and what to do with the truth once it's uncovered. She also falls in love with one of the Laughlin brothers, and that wasn't part of the plan at all. ~amazon.com

Review: Let me just say that after reading Reasonsby Tracy Fabre I want to move to Colorado and live on a horse farm. I've always been partial to horse riding but I do imagine that it's not an easy life. Instantly, I liked Delphi (Del-Fi) Brent and rooted for her the whole way through the book. Sometimes a main character can grate on your nerves but not Delphi, I understood where she was coming from the majority of time.

Right off the bat, Delphi learns that the devastating car accident she had at 17 was caused by one of the son's of family friends. This happens to be the family she's reconnect with and decided to visit. She still goes despite her parents not really encouraging the trip down memory lane.

You pretty much know off the bat who she'll end up with and you root for them the whole way. Of course there are a few bumps along the way but that's to be expected. I found myself liking the majority of the characters that Ms. Fabre wrote. Even the one you don't like in the beginning, you end up not thinking they are so bad in the end.

The book doesn't pack any huge twists or surprises, it's just a well-written novel about two people finding each other and doing the dance of love. What I loved was how Ms. Fabre described everything, it made me feel like I was there. I could picture the kitchen, the stables and the clinic. Statler seems like a great town to visit. Especially, The Dusty Shelf.

I could have read this in a day if I didn't have 2 kids and a household to run but I did finish it in less that 48 hours. ;)

I'd like to thank Renee Giroux from Stimulating Conversations for sending me Reasons. It was a good, fun read for a winter weekend.

Final Take: 4/5

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Julie's Review: Without Hesitation: Rasner Effect II

Photobucket Summary:After two years in the Brookhill Childrens’ Psychiatric residence, Clara Blue is ready to leave, but at what cost? Clara is back in the Brookhill residence after Rick Rasner and the Duke Organization laid waste to the facility and liberated her as one of their own. She went willingly, seeing this rogue mercenary group as the accepting family she’d sought after her entire young life. The dream came to an abrupt end, however, when rival mercenary, Jake Scarberry, attacked the Duke Organization’s headquarters. The battle’s climax left Rick for dead, the group in ruins, and saw Clara sent back to the Brookhill facility. Now, consumed with regaining her freedom, her constant escape attempts and delusional hallucinations keep Clara distracted and ostracized by the new staff and patients alike. As the Brookhill residence recovers, Rick’s co-leader, Jennifer Duke, arrives under the guise of a therapist. With her presence, Clara is sure rescue is imminent. But Jen is there for another reason as well, one that scares Clara. Only Jake Scarberry has a chance of halting Jen’s nefarious plans, IF he can be coaxed out of the solace of civilian life. ~amazon.com

Review: In the fall I read and reviewed, The Rasner Effect and really enjoyed it. It was a great psychological thriller. I was thrilled when Mark contacted me about reading and reviewing the sequel, Without Hesitation. The sequel, picks up a few months after the first book and lands us back at the Brookhill Childrens' Psychological Hospital with a new Director. Clara Blue is still acting up and finding herself in isolation a lot. To be honest I don't think she really cares if she lands in there.

Clara is a reluctant heroine. What I mean is you really do want to root for her but she's not always likable. She's got major anger issues and some violent tendencies that really come to a head in this book. Enter Jennifer Duke, the most violent, vile and psychotic character I have ever read about. She's scares the crap out of me. She's just plain evil. Well she's come back to Brookhill to break Clara Blue and a band of misfits out. You see she might not like Clara, but Rick brought her into the fold and she has to honor that. What Clara wants most is just to get out of Brookhill and be free at any cost and by any association.

Jake Scarberry is also back. For the last 3 months he's been living the civilian life and once he's brought back in, it's like he's never left. You see Jake still wants to avenge his brother's death by the hands of the Duke Organization and well Jennifer Duke is still available to satisfy that need.

I will have to say that this book is a bit more gory and violent that the first one but since I read the first one, I knew it wasn't going to be all rainbows and sunshine.

My concern for Clara is that she's entering a world that she'll never get out of and this world only feeds her violent side. With no family to reign you back in you go astray. You root for her but you also cringe because you know that this just can't end well for her.

As with most thrillers, I can't really delve into details because well it would give away all the plot points that the author would love for you to read on your own. I will say there a quite a few twists that I didn't see coming.

I will say that each time I read a book or watch a movie about children and psychological issues, it makes my heart wrench. It's just so heart breaking that these kids are discarded as social pariahs, when maybe the system is the real issue.

As a fan of the TV show ALIAS, I always picture Brookhill as the psychiatric hospital Sydney was in during Season One. It's probably because Brookhill seems so archaic and that one definitely was.

This is a sequel that doesn't disappoint. I want to thank Mr. Mark Rosendorf for having his publisher send it to me. Now knowing there is a 3rd in the works; I can't wait to see what Clara and Jake do next.

As a side note, with Shutter Island being released this weekend, I think that more and more readers will want books with a psychiatric hospital as the setting.

Final Take: 4/5

Continue reading the review...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

And The Winner Is...

Congratulations to scottsgal, our winner of Run for Your Life by James Patterson and Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Please email me (Julie) your mailing address so we can get it to you as soon as possible.

As always, I used Random.org to produce the winner.

Continue reading the review...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Movie News: One For the Money Casting

As you know, the 3 of us here are/were pretty big Stephanie Plum fans. It's been announced who will be playing Stephanie in the upcoming theatrical release of One For the Money....Katherine Heigl. Photobucket Now, I like her, I do, but do I think she's right for Stephanie...Um NO!! I think this is where the 3 of us agree. It's not that I think she's flat out the wrong choice, I mean they could have gone with Britney Spears Ya'll but I think there are better suited actresses for the role.

Jenn thinks that Zooey Deschanel or Caroline Dhavernas (Wonderfalls: Fox TV show) are good picks. I tend to agree with her.

I think that Sandra Bullock was a shoo-in for the part but maybe she's 1) too old (don't get me started on this) or 2) Stephanie is a little to close to Gracie Lou Freebush from Miss Congeniality. I also think Jennifer Garner would have made a great Stephanie, but she's probably too tall. Before her untimely death I actually think Brittany Murphy would have been a good Stephanie.

Who would you like to see as Stephanie? What are your thoughts about Ms. Heigl. Of course this leads to who should play Morelli and Ranger?

My votes:

Morelli = Jeffrey Donovan (YUM!!)
Ranger = Dwayne Johnson aka The ROCK (Double YUM!!)

Continue reading the review...

Friday, February 12, 2010

A New Line of Books and a Writing Contest

A little while ago we were contacted by Accomplice Press about introducing their new publishing venture and a contest ~ and we said SURE! Accomplice Press is a small independent publisher dedicated to providing material to readers of all ages and tastes. They have books available in both print and e-book format.

So without further ado...

Curvalicious: A New Venture for Accomplice Press

Accomplice Press is more than just a publisher; we are an accomplice to our authors and readers. As a small independent boutique-style press we are afforded the luxury of making a difference with the projects we choose to pursue. We are proud to announce a new romance book line called Curvalicious and are kicking the launch off with a writing contest. Curvalicious offerings will be short novella length romance stories that showcase plus-size heroines who always get the man of their dreams without changing their curvy figures. These inspirational women are beautiful, strong, confident, intelligent and last but not least voluptuous.

Curvalicious is the brainchild of DJ Alling, our fearless CEO, Co-Founder and Editor in Chief. She has been in the publishing business for years on both sides of the table and saw a need for a different kind of love story. Her motivation for creating this series is summed up in this quote: "Society and the media have convinced women that men won't find you attractive if you wear double-digit sizes. This is reinforced by the romance book industry. The leading terms used to describe a heroine are slender, thin, lithe, small, and tiny. Real women read romances, and real women deserve to be able to relate to the heroines. Romance stories are about fantasies, and as a large woman, I personally do not find it satisfying to fantasize about a man touching a body that I can't relate to. I also happen to know that men love women of all sizes. Sexy comes from within. That is why I created Curvalicious."--DJ Alling

At Accomplice Press we are committed to excellence and offer print and e-book formats showcasing originality: in fully developed characters, deep plots, intelligent voice, and intriguing dialogue. Curvalicious will be the epitome of all these things with a focus on positive life affirming relationships between plus-size heroines and their attentive suitors. Romance is all about the fantasy so our stories will end with a "happy ever after" or "happy ending for now". Curvalicious will be available in e-book format with periodic print anthologies.

Curvalicious will have two distinct categories based on the character's relationship's heat level. At Accomplice Press we realize that the word "romance" means different things to different people. So, we are creating Curvalicious Sweet which is romance with sweet or sensual love scenes, but no explicit language or sex and Curvalicious Spicy which is erotic romance containing explicit language and sex scenes. The first book released in this series is a spicy but touching romance called A reason to Stay by Delinda Jasper. The heroine Ellie is ready to move far away from the home and man she loves because she doesn't feel her best friend Jake will ever feel the same way. After an amazing evening together she wonders if she's lost him forever.

The most exciting part of this project is that we are holding a Curvalicious writing competition. Beginning on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2010 and ending at midnight on May 14, 2010, we'll be accepting submissions in two different categories, one sweet and one spicy. On May 28, 2010 two winning entries will be announced on Accomplicepress.com, then contracted and published in e-book format by the publisher. The top three submissions of each category will also be included in the first Curvalicious print anthologies. Curvalicious contest entries must be sent to curvecontest@accomplicepress.com. The specific guidelines for sweet and spicy submissions, word count and formatting requirements are all available at our website accomplicepress.com

Accomplice press is NOT a self-publishing company; we are a full service publisher dedicated to providing our readers with exceptional stories that are often over looked by large warehouse style publishers with the bottom line in mind. At Accomplice Press we publish because we love the written word.


Happy reading and writing…good luck authors!
Karen Jones
Promotions Manager for Accomplice Press
kjones@accomplicepress.com
accomplicepress.com

Continue reading the review...

Random Musings

So my husband and I were discussing books and why some books are initially published in hardcover and then move to paperback; and how others are just published in paperback.

That got me wondering, why is this? Why are some books published in hardcover initially? Who/how/what determines what fashion they are published in?

For answers, I asked a contact in the publishing industry to give me some insight. Here is their answer:

"There are many variables when determining the format of a book. A lot of times it is based on the author and what genre they are publishing in. Several of our upcoming trade paperbacks are first time authors who’s books are attractive to niche markets. There are instances where a book may have more book club appeal and publishing in trade paperback means they won’t have to wait a year for the conversion."

Anyone else ever ponder this?

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Giveaway: Middlesex and Run for Your Life

Thanks to a good friend, I have a couple of gently used paperback books to giveaway. Run for Your Life (Michael Bennett) by James Patterson and Middlesex(Oprah's Book Club) by Jeffrey Eugenides.

To be entered in the giveaway, you will need to leave a comment with the reasons why you want these two books and you must also be a follower of our blog.

You have until Monday, February 15th at Midnight EST to enter the contest.

Good luck!!

Continue reading the review...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Jenn's Review: Beguiled

Summary: In the shadows of Charleston, someone is watching her... Rylee Monroe, a dogwalker in Charleston's wealthiest neighborhood, never feared the streets at night. But now a thief is terrorizing the area and worse, someone seems to be targeting her. Reporter Logan Woods is covering the break-ins with the hope of publishing them as a true-crime book. The more he digs, the more he realizes this beguiling dogwalker seems to be at the center of everything. As danger draws ever closer, Logan must choose: Chase the girl, the story, or plunge into the shadows after the villain who threatens everything?

Review: This is a nice simple read that takes me back to my first contemporary adult mystery read, Mary Higgins Clark. Gist and Bertrand seem to work well together, and though perhaps not as funny as the Mayer/Crusie pairing, it is just as seamless.

The tale is well woven, though not without some thin patches. While it wasn't terribly taxing to figure out the "whodunit" of it all, there were only so many characters, it was still an enjoyable journey to the end. The characters are amiable and you root for them the whole way through.

A great read for the airport, the waiting room, or the beach. (I started this while waiting for my H1N1 vaccine in a cafeteria full of overtired parents, over exuberant kids, and a myriad of disgruntled adults and it managed to distract me quite nicely.) I look forward to more from this pair a well as Mr. Bertrand's first solo work.

3.5/5

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Julie's Review: A Black Tie Affair

Summary: Fashion curator Athena Smith will do anything to get her perfectly manicured hands on the Clayworth family's celebrated couture collection for her exhibit. So when she's called in to make sure the gowns are the real deal, she's ecstatic...until a dress she's examining turns out to be loaded with toxins (talk about killer threads!) and Athena faints, only to wake up face-to-face with the One That Got Away, notorious Chicago bachelor Drew Clayworth. Drew still believes Athena betrayed him all those years ago, and he's sure he can't trust her. But when the priceless gowns go missing, she offers to help track them down. Reluctantly allied in the quest, Drew and Athena are soon stunned by the barely restrained passion still sizzling between them...and memories both bitter and sweet. Is their new partnership just a business arrangement? Or is this something more than...~amazon.com

Review: 2 words - Bodice Ripper. Not that those don't hold a place in my heart because in my teens and early 20s I read my fair share of Sidney Sheldon, Danielle Steel and even Ivanka Trump, but I find I like these types of books in small doses. A Black Tie Affair is a bit more than just a romance, it does have the air of mystery to it as well. Plus well I really read it because it's set in Chicago. Having lived here my entire life, I love going into the city. It's quite obvious that Clayworth's and Company is the iconic Marshall Field's and Company.

We meet Athena and her sisters, Venus and Diana who are the gems of the Chicago Society pages. We also meet Drew Clayworth and his cousin Connor, who are of course, Chicago's most eligible bachelor's. We find out very quickly that there is history of both the very recent kind and teenage years between Athena and Drew. As soon as the author described Drew as "Paul Newman from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", she had me hook, line and sinker.

It's not like we don't know that Athena and Drew are going to end up together right? It's the journey they take us on to get there. I have to give Ms. Bodine credit, she saved the clothes ripping towards the end of the book.

I'm not into clothing so I didn't get all the vintage references, except to mean that they were expensive. Although they did sound exquisite when described. You can tell that Ms. Bodine did her research on the subject and/or is a big fan of vintage couture.

Besides, where the vintage dresses disappeared to, the biggest mystery is why Athena's father, up and retired from Clayworth's and Company. Did he embezzle money, lose the company millions? We never really find out and I was a bit disappointed in that. I think it would have been great to have that resolved.

This is a perfect book to curl up with when feeling a bit low or in need of a quick, fun read. I highly recommend taking a nice bubble bath with it. Trust me, you'll finish it during that time.

I want to thank Dana at Kaye Publicity (website) for sending me a copy of the book to read and review. It was a nice change of pace from my typical reading.


Final Take: 3.5/5

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