Sunday, November 29, 2015

Author Highlight: Suzie Jay

You guys, if you like sweet romances that aren't too dirty, Suzie Jay is your girl.  She's a mom, a teacher, and Australian, and a darn good writer to boot.  

I read her novel Walk on the Wild Side some time back, and I was hooked on her quirky characters and clean writing style.  Walk on the Wild Side is an engrossing, entertaining tale of survival and reinvention during and after a nasty divorce.  It hits all the right notes: the sympathetic female protagonist, the suitably obnoxious ex-husband, the terrific friends, and, of course, the hot new man.  The tone is suitably snarky, which provides a modern touch.

Just this past week, she released the timely holiday romance Merry Christmas Eve, and I was lucky enough to get an advance review copy.  This novella is the perfect little Christmas present.  Eve and Grayson meet cute while stranded in an airport, and the cuteness only increases with the introduction of Grayson's children, Max and Noelle.  Eve helps to bring them the joy of Christmas while finding the family she's been longing for.  This is a super sweet, super fun read, perfect for travel or a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.  It will put a smile on your face, and you'll swear you can smell a Christmas tree. It's perfect airport/airplane reading.

If you're stressed and need a breather this holiday season, check out Suzie Jay. She's even got a few children's books if the kiddos need a distraction. Happy reading!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Author Highlight: Guy Bailey

G.S. Bailey is an Australian farmer and indie author of romance novels.  With his new release, Kangaroo Crossing, he has completed his Mystery Loves Romance series  which includes a Man for Kate: Remains of a Local Girl, A Man for Claire: Secrets of the Widow Mulvane, A Woman for Jason: The Soccer Field Bones, A Woman for Blake: Lonely Desert Grave, A Woman for Matthew: The Trelor Sect Killings and A Man for Juliette: the Fontaine Children.

Guy Bailey’s books are super fun: a relaxing and entertaining escape from real life.  The main characters are always vivid as well as easy to root for and identify with.  His leading men are always good guys, and his leading ladies are always strong and beautiful.  The supporting characters are interesting and sympathetic, and the mysteries are engaging and well-paced.  With his books, you have the bonus of getting to take a little trip to Australia and learn a bit about its landscape and culture.

Kangaroo Crossing, his brand new release, wraps up a multi-faceted case that winds through a number of his novels, but you don’t necessarily have to read the others first.  Journalist Blake Malone is investigating a serial killer, and his journey takes him to Madeline’s rural ranch.  Her mother was murdered by the killer years ago, and both of them long to give closure to the families of the killer’s other victims.  Watching them fall in love as they work together is a pleasure, and the depictions of Australian ranch life add a wonderful sense of adventure.  If you are traveling this holiday season, or you need a break from the family and the stress and all the hustle and bustle, I definitely recommend Kangaroo Crossing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Author Highlight: Jolie Mason

Jolie Mason is an indie writer of sci-fi romance / space opera.  This genre is an amazing amount of fun, and this particular author is especially enjoyable.  She has created a complex, multi-faceted universe into which the installments of two different series fit as precisely as puzzle pieces.  I have read 4 out of her 6 books, including her new release, and I’m chomping at the bit to get to the other two.  

Jolie Mason grew up just off the Mississippi River on the New Madrid fault line, which she says may explain her proclivity for thinking disaster movies are comedy. She's returned there to live with her three children and a menagerie of strays and pets that just show up.  She calls herself a gamer mom, which is different from a soccer mom in that she drives a police car and not a mini van.

Her work is predicated on this question: What if society never really changed? What if all the technology in the world didn't change a thing, but only made the sandbox bigger? That theme carries through both her series: Home in the Stars and The 47th Lancers.

The Home in the Stars Series (Home is the Sailor, Home from the Hill, and Home from the Sea) follows the loves and adventures of the rotating crew members of a particular starship, each of them fascinating in his or her own way.  The 47th Lancers Series (Riding Redemption, Redemption Lost, and the brand spanking new Seeking Redemption) follows the exploits of a company of mercenaries with hearts of gold.  The denizens of her universe live under various threats, including greedy criminals, invading aliens, and their own increasingly desperate Imperial government. The main characters are uniformly both charmingly sympathetic and precisely portrayed.

Her new release, Seeking Redemption, has both action and romance, mortal danger as well as family drama.  It combines the hardness of science fiction with the softness of a kiss in a very appealing way.  There are enough ties to the other books that you can see the connections, but not so many that you can’t read this one without reading the others.  The novel takes place on a planet whose population faces threats from within and without and features a mech pilot and a planetary leader who share a passion for more than just protecting the planet.  I always love a romance where the two parties are both equally competent and equally in need of love.  Jolie Mason’s romantic leads totally fit the bill.

Basically, if you like mechs with your kissing or kissing with your spaceships, you owe it to yourself to check out Jolie Mason.  Happy reading!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Reviews, reviews, my kingdom for reviews

Indie authors live and die by Amazon (and Goodreads) reviews.  No one wants to read a book nobody loves written by a person nobody has ever heard of.  You need reviews to get readers, and you need readers to get reviews.  It's a conundrum.

Then there's the validation that a good review supplies to the independent author.  We don't tend to have a huge number of readers, so those few positive reviews can be the only encouragement we get in the midst of our desperate and lonely struggles with the written word.

So, I humbly beg of you, if you read a book and enjoy it, take a minute to leave a review.  It doesn't have to be long or eloquent to have a positive impact on a struggling artist.

Here are some snippets from reviews people have left on Amazon for my book, She Dies at the End.  I have such gratitude for the people who have taken the time to write these kind words.  I was so terrified when I published my debut novel that everyone would hate it.  Imagine my relief that it is at least enjoyable!

Some of the tightest pacing from a breakout novel I've seen in a long time. I ended up staying up far too late two nights in a row, needing to see what happened next.

There are so many successful elements here: masterful foreshadowing, maintaining of tension and suspense, dialogue, character building, even romance. More than that, though, it's just a great story.

I have to give Manay credit for making vampires sexy again.

Well-written, superbly paced, and full of interesting characters. A great piece of writing and a great story. I'm looking forward to the next November Snow book! Heartily recommended.

By the end of the first chapter, I was in love with November, the main character. By the middle of the second chapter, I couldn't put the book down.

I finished the book two days ago, and I still think of the characters as if they will show up in front of me, just to give me an update. To me, that is the mark of an excellent book. I crave book two.

I thought I didn't care for fantasy/sci fi. As I read this book, I thought of the way I connected with Stephen King's Salem's Lot, and I finally understood. I LOVE a good fantasy novel, as long as it is well written. This one is superb.

I LOVED these characters. I miss them already. I need that sequel.

It was easily one of the most memorable books I've read this year, if not THE most memorable.

At one point near the end I idly found myself thinking, "I can't wait until the movie comes out," before I checked myself to remember that this is a first novel of a new author and probably film rights have not yet been considered. I still think it would make a good movie!

It's 1 AM. I've been up reading yet another novel. I regret nothing. This novel is AMAZING. I do not use ALLCAPS lightly.

Really great books teach, and this one does. However, don't let that fool you. It's about as sexy as any story I've read lately. I can't even adequately describe it's level of awesome.

This is a wonderfully written paranormal story! It captures the reader from beginning to end. I could barely put it down to go to sleep!

I loved it! I dreamt of the characters for a few days afterwards!

What I really loved about this novel was the emotional maturity of the characters. So unlike the annoying teen angst typical of the vampire genre, this novel is full of thoughtful consideration, compassion, and a refreshing self-awareness.

The plot is complex, but concise in its storytelling. With each turn, Manay easily sets the scene with exquisite imagery, allowing readers to see, touch, taste and hear everything that the heroine experiences.

I recommend you download the book and stay up late to read it. One of the best things I've read lately.

Be somebody's hero: review a book today!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Book review: Kismet by Shaheen Darr

I was lucky enough to receive an advance review copy of Shaheen Darr’s new novel Kismet: A Desi Rhapsody in London, due for release today
The novel follows the fates of the members of two Pakistani immigrant families in the United Kingdom.  As an anglophile who married into an Indian family who immigrated to the U.S. before my husband was born, I was interested as soon as I saw the lovely cover, designed by Eeva Lancaster.  The deft treatment of the cultural conflicts between immigrant parents and children, as well as the tension between assimilation and cultural preservation, was both realistic and emotionally effective.  I also enjoyed the way she structured the novel, allowing us to see the events from various points of view.

The narratives are quite touching, exploring such themes as romance, betrayal, heartbreak, depression, tragedy, remorse, redemption, and, of course, kismet.  The idea of fate is a fascinating one to me, one that sometimes allows people to make sense of the events of their lives, and one that carries through all the storylines of this novel.

Kismet is a lovely book, one I highly recommend for its skillful writing, lyrical descriptions, emotional impact, and charming characters.  It is a book that will follow you out the door, like the smell of your mother’s house.