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1. Spotlight: Target Engaged by ML Buchman

This December starts off with a bang as M.L. Buchman releases TARGET ENGAGED, the first in his brand new (and action-packed) Delta Force series! To celebrate his new release, Sourcebooks Casablanca is sharing the first six chapters of Target Engaged for FREE! Click here to download the first six chapters and check out a special note from M.L. Buchman below.

A Note from M.L. Buchman

Dear Reader,

Welcome to my newest series: the first women of Delta Force. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun this was to write.

Most of us know little more about Delta Force than the Chuck Norris movies (which leave a lot to be desired) or perhaps we only know the name. In researching my Night Stalkers series, I kept running into these guys. They are the elite of Special Operations Forces. They are at a level of SEAL Team 6, and most would argue they were even beyond that. They are the ghost and shadow warriors who helped take down drug lord Pablo Escobar, capture Noriega, were undoubtedly behind the locating of Saddam Hussein, and are the main reason that Al-Qaeda abruptly stopped being a topic in the Iraq War when over three thousand of their leaders were swept off the board.

Yet the Pentagon states that they don’t exist. Fascinating.

And while they often work with undercover female operatives, no woman has yet managed to kick in the front door on one of the most arduous selection programs in the military.

I decided to change that.

Carla Anderson stepped forward to take the challenge. She is a not a woman out to prove she can match any man, she’s out to prove that she can beat them at their own game. And that was the first thing that I loved about writing this series.

In the Night Stalkers, the women were strong, excellent, and determined.

To be a Delta Force woman, Carla had to add enough attitude and drive to plow through all obstacles which just made her so much fun. Nothing was off the table when it came to her attitude or her actions.

And that was the second thing I came to love about this series launcher, Target Engaged. Being Delta Force, they really do operate outside so many bounds. They are sent to do the tasks that no one else can. To that I added the additional challenge that Robert Ludlum gave to Jason Bourne (though I’m quoting the movie): “I don’t send you to kill. I send you to be invisible. I send you because you don’t exist.” I’m pretty convinced that this is part of Delta’s mission.

It is occasionally said by retired Delta Force operators (as the on-duty ones never speak): “If we’d been sent in to take down bin Laden, you still wouldn’t know how it was done.” To bring that to life gave me a permission as a writer to run my characters into hard and strange places and be just a little gonzo doing it.

But writing is a give and take, and I can’t begin to tell you how much the characters I created shaped my telling of this story. I like to think that they had as much fun as I did bringing this story to life.

I hope that you enjoy the reading even half as much as I enjoyed the writing!


M.L. Buchman (the Oregon Coast, November 2015)

Get to know the Carla, and the entire Delta Force team by reading the first SIX chapters of TARGET ENGAGED for free! Just click here to download them! To get you started, we’ve included the first few pages below:

Title: Target Engaged    

Series: Delta Force, #1

Author: M.L. Buchman

ISBN: 9781492619222

Book 1 in M.L. Buchman’s thrilling NEW Delta Force series

Delta Force: The most dangerous elite counter-terrorism force on the planet

• The deadliest shooters •

• The most out-of-the-box thinkers in any military •

• Will die to get the mission done •

Sergeant Kyle Reeves: The premier soldier of the new recruits

Sergeant Carla Anderson: The first woman of Delta Force

If the training doesn’t kill them, their passion may—but Kyle Reeves and Carla Anderson blast right in. Show no fear. Have no fear. Then they get the call. The most powerful drug-smuggling ring in Venezuela needs a takedown, and Delta’s newest team leaps into the deep jungle to deliver. Giving their all? Not a problem. Giving their hearts? That takes a new level of courage.

M. L. Buchman has over 40 novels in print. His military romantic suspense books have been named Barnes & Noble and NPR “Top 5 of the Year,” nominated for the Reviewer’s Choice Award for “Top 10 Romantic Suspense of 2014” by RT Book Reviews, and twice Booklist “Top 10 of the Year” placing two of his titles on their “The 101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years.” In addition to romance, he also writes thrillers, fantasy, and science fiction.

In among his career as a corporate project manager he has: rebuilt and single-handed a fifty-foot sailboat, both flown and jumped out of airplanes, designed and built two houses, and bicycled solo around the world.

He is now making his living as a full-time writer on the Oregon Coast with his beloved wife. He is constantly amazed at what you can do with a degree in Geophysics. You may keep up with his writing by subscribing to his newsletter at www.mlbuchman.com.

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Kobo: http://bit.ly/1RsIhKu

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2. Guest Post and Giveaway: Stop at Nothing by Kate SeRine

Kate SeRine dropped by the virtual offices to share a Top 10 list!

Top 10 Items You’ll Never Find in Kyle’s Bedroom

Kyle Dawson is the youngest of the Dawson brothers and definitely has cocky, confident swagger to spare. But beneath that swagger is an intelligent, caring, ambitious guy who’s dealing with a lot—both personally and professionally. And what better way to get to know a guy than by taking a peek at what’s in his bedroom—or, in this case, what’s not. So here are ten things you’ll never find in Kyle’s bedroom…

  1. Lots of hipster hair/body products. Kyle’s pretty low-maintenance.

  1. Anything related to work. Leave it at the office—whether that’s the actual office or the home office. Gotta have a sacred space where the cases can’t intrude or the job will kill you.

  1. A varied wardrobe. Pretty much the same kind/color of suit, shirt, and tie every day. It’s an FBI thing.

  1. Work out equipment. He stays in shape running and going to the gym to workout. If he relied on working out at home it’d be too easy to just sit on his ass after a long day on the job.

  1. Books. Kyle loves to read, but his favorite place to do so is stretched out on the couch with Abby snuggled up beside him.

  1. Decorative anything. A bedroom is for sleeping—or not, depending on who’s with you.

  1. Television. See #6.

  1. Food of any kind. Unless it’s being licked from Abby’s skin. Then all bets are off.

  1. Clothes on the floor—unless they were tossed there in his haste to get naked with Abby…

  1. Sexual enhancement products. Kyle doesn’t need any help pleasing his woman. He’s got this.

Title: Stop at Nothing

Author: Kate SeRine

Series: Protect & Serve, #1

Pubdate: November 3rd, 2015

ISBN: 9781492618348

When a high-profile investigation goes wrong, FBI Agent Kyle Dawson is transferred back home where he is forced to confront his demons…and the only woman he ever loved. Three years ago, Kyle and Abby Morrow shared a wild, passionate summer—then Abby broke his heart.

Now she needs his help

Kyle never stopped loving Abby. So when Abby uncovers evidence of a human-trafficking ring, leading to her sister’s kidnapping, he swears he’ll stop at nothing to bring her sister home and keep Abby safe. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse and blindsided by their own explosive desires, they must set aside the past before it’s too late.

Kate SeRine writes award-winning romantic suspense and paranormal romance. A past recipient of an Emily Award and the National Readers Choice Award, she has also been a finalist in the Fire and Ice Contest, Finally a Bride Contest, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. She lives with her husband and two sons outside Indianapolis, Indiana. Connect with Kate at www.kateserine.com.

Buy Links:

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3. Launch Day Blitz: Blowback by Emmy Curtis


About Blowback

One year ago, David Church kissed a beautiful, brilliant woman on an airfield in Iraq-and hasn’t stopped thinking about her ever since. Now, the military veteran gets a chance to rekindle that fire when he sees his lost love again-looking sexier than ever-at an international conference in Athens. David yearns to take her in his arms, to hold her close and never let go. But when the bullets begin to fly, it’s not just his heart on the line. It’s his life.

When Molly Solent agreed to deliver intelligence for the U.S. government, she didn’t realize she’d be caught in the crossfire of a surprise ambush-and underneath the hard-muscled body of David Church. Shielding her from harm and swearing to protect her, the elite bodyguard reignites a searing passion that Molly can’t resist. But with unforeseen danger around every corner-and unquenchable desire in every embrace-falling in love could be the greatest risk of all . . .

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1kZvfdk
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Kobo: http://bit.ly/1SdywRf
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1LSBZiJ

About Emmy Curtis

Emmy Curtis is an editor and a romance writer. An ex-pat Brit, she quells her homesickness with Cadbury Flakes and Fray Bentos pies. She’s lived in London, Paris and New York, and has settled for the time being, in North Carolina. When not writing, Emmy loves to travel with her military husband and take long walks with their Lab. All things considered, her life is chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny. And if you get that reference…well, she already considers you kin.





David. Here.

Hell, he looked good. All these months waiting for him, and he was just here.

When she first really laid eyes on him, she was peeking at him through a window as he took an impossible shot into a trailer and saved them. He’d been drunk, and impossible. And she’d wanted him so much. Wanted to save him, to make him feel better. To stomp on whatever demons were keeping him from participating in reality. To run her fingers through his short dark hair. His eyes had been so sad, and he’d seemed resigned. Like he’d already given up on life. In that second he’d broken her heart, as he’d saved her life.

It hadn’t hurt that he was tall, and built in the way only a career combat military guy could be. Broad shouldered, with hard arms that she just wanted to be wrapped in. When his dark eyes had rested on hers, the hard lines on his face faded, and although his lips remained pressed into a hard line, his eyes had smiled at her. She thought. Maybe she hoped.

She wanted to touch his face. To kiss him. To understand what had happened to him, and what had changed. And he had changed. He seemed more in control, sober, obviously. He spoke with a lower voice. Seemed less…something. She couldn’t put her finger on the change. Her hand reached out to him, but she snatched it back before she could touch him.

She was on a mission. She was supposed to destroy the envelope she didn’t use, but in the end she hadn’t had time to give him either of the messages, so she figured she should keep them, but everything was getting confused in her mind. Should she destroy them both? Is there someone else she should give the message to? She had to keep working through the problem. If she stopped, she feared she’d break down and might never be able to pull herself together. She didn’t want him to witness that. She clenched her fists.

“Who was he?” David asked.

“He’s the Russian Minister of Antiquities. Alexandre Doubrov. Why would someone…?”

“I have no idea,” he said leading her back to the bed. “But you’re not going anywhere. There was no way he’d have been able to survive that shot. I’m sorry.”

She nodded but said nothing. He’d died right in front of her. Poor Alexandre. She had to get hold of Brandon to tell him she’d failed. But she wanted the whole picture before she called him. She yawned. Suddenly sleepy.

“So what have you been doing this past year?” David said, his voice seeming miles away.

Her mind immediately went to the airport at Iraq, as it had a million times before. He’d grabbed her and roughly pulled her into his arms, telling her that he would find her and come for her. Then he’d kissed her forehead hard and departed with his old team of explosive experts on a mission, leaving her to return to the states. Damn him.

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4. Spotlight and Giveaway: Men of Mercy by Lindsay Cross

Enter to Win a
Gifted Ebook Copy of

Men of Mercy #1
Lindsay Cross
Releasing Oct 21st, 2015
Cypress Bend Publishing
Hunter James didn’t want or need redemption.
Until one mission turns his world upside down.
He left Mercy to fight for his country and escape a broken heart. Years later, he is hard. Cold. A man without mercy.  Part of an elite Task Force, he tracks a brutal terrorist to his home town. And runs into the woman who betrayed him…
Evangeline Videl was destroyed when Hunter left. Determined to move on, she finds another man, but discovers too late the monster hidden beneath his smooth smile. Struggling to find the conviction to live, Evie finds her life spinning out of control.
Then Hunter returns…
Forced to band together to find the terrorist before its too late, Hunter and Evie must learn to forgive or risk losing the promise of redemption and their lives…

Men of Mercy #2
Lindsay Cross
Releasing Oct 21st, 2015
Cypress Bend Publishing
Ranger James accepted his best friend’s death like a good soldier. With guilt. Regret. Vengeance. But a forbidden desire keeps pulling him from his mission…
Desire for his best friend’s widow.
Killed in Action. That’s why Rachel Carter’s husband wasn’t coming home.
A war widow, alone and broke, Rachel struggles to revive her family’s crop dusting service to survive. Now she takes to the skies to find escape. Escape from the pain. From the guilt. From the earth-shattering desire for her husband’s best friend.
Rachel and Ranger can’t fight the attraction between them any longer. But one fateful night cleaves their new found love in two…
Can they find the will to fight for true love? Or will an evil so shocking destroy their lives for good?

Men of Mercy #3
Lindsay Cross
Releasing Oct 21st, 2015
Cypress Bend Publishing

They say you can’t go home again. Jared Crowe never wanted to.

Home meant facing memories of abuse and neglect. Of dark closets and evil nightmares. Of his own relatives intent on killing him. But now his brother’s kidnapping forces him to face those demons. Only this time, Jared isn’t a scared little boy. He’s a full-grown Special Forces operative bent on revenge.

As a little girl, Sparrow Pickney risked her life to free two abused boys. As a grown woman Sparrow needs to earn a place in her adopted family’s business or be forced into a life of degradation. The chance to prove her family loyalty comes when she catches Jared spying on the compound and captures him.

When Jared sees his captor, he realizes she’s the girl of his dreams and vows to rescue her from a life of poverty. What Jared doesn’t know is Sparrow may not be the savior he remembers…but the one responsible for abducting and torturing his brother.

Jared is determined to find the truth. But that truth may be more than his heart can take.


Rachel spun around, the yellow airplane a perfect backdrop to her beautiful face. “What are you doing here?”

Ranger let his gaze travel from her scruffy boots, torn jeans and gloriously figure hugging tank, to the top of her dark red head. Her pink cheeks flushed.

“Like what you see?”

Ranger approached, her green gaze turned wary. Good. She should be worried. She’d doused him in chemicals. His skin still itched. He reached forward, plucked an oil stick from her ponytail and sent her hair spilling to her shoulders. He caught the brief scent of flowers and oil.

Rachel grabbed her hair, lips parted. Angry. Stubborn. Sexy.

He held up the stick right in front of her face. “Oil stick.”

Rachel snatched it from his fingers and tossed it across the room. “I told you to stay away from me.”

Ranger shrugged, his brain still caught on the image of her jean-clad ass hanging out of that airplane. Forget Sports Illustrated. He had farm fucking fantastic right here.

“Don’t you think dropping that all-natural excuse for chemicals on me is a bit dramatic? If you want to get me naked all you had to do is ask.” Ranger gestured to himself, sweeping his hand from his head down to his torso, Rachel’s eyes followed.

That definitely wasn’t desperation or anger in her gaze.

The desire he’d been trying to hold in check for months reared up inside him.

“You think I want to see you naked?” Rachel snorted, lifted her chin. “Besides, I figured anything would be an improvement to your normal smell.” So much for her vulnerability.

The wind picked up, blew into the hangar. Ranger shifted, praying the wind wouldn’t open the fly on his boxers, and almost covered himself. Almost. Until he remembered she was the reason for his stench. Instead, he stood tall. “You’ve never had a problem with the way I smelled before.”

“My manners were just too good to say anything.” She strode past him, punishing him with the sexy sway of her hips.

Dammit, he was so hard up for her, even her walk had his mind blanking. He stood there, nearly naked, and drenched in herbicide, and she walked past him like a stranger on a sidewalk.

Running from him. Again.

“Rachel Ann.” He didn’t yell, but she stopped mid-stride. Turned. Lips parted.

“You did that on purpose,” Ranger said. She’d been hard headed even in high-school, when he tried to break up with her, explaining that he needed a little space to see if life in Mercy was what he really wanted. Jumping on the marriage and kids bandwagon at eighteen years old had scared the shit out of him. But he’d obliterated any chance for reconnecting with Rachel when she’d seen him making out with Tonya at the football game senior year.

He hadn’t thought that leaving her to sow the wild oats of his youth would be a self-fulfilling prophecy of regret. Or that his best friend would move in on Rachel so fast and fill the void that Ranger had left in her heart.

“You bet your ass I did.”

“What the hell for?” He couldn’t get her smell, her taste, her touch out of his head. But she’d dumped shit on him for the last time.

Her eyes narrowed and her lips flattened. “I warned you.”

Yeah, she’d warned him to stay away from her. He’d stayed with her for weeks, helping her after the funeral. She’d healed physically, but remained an emotional tomb.

“I promised Shane, if anything ever happened to him, I’d look out for you.” He wanted to take her in his arms and kiss that angry expression right off her face. He’d wanted her since high-school, but when she’d married Shane, he’d vowed to put those feelings away. Forever. But the attraction hadn’t disappeared. And he knew it never would. “I know the chemistry between us is weird. Scary. But dammit it’s real and it’s here and now. You’re just flying through the clouds because you don’t want to see what’s on the ground right in front of you.”

If he hadn’t been studying every minute expression on her face he would have missed the brief flash of vulnerability in her gaze. Then her anger slid back in place. “The only thing I feel is annoyance. Are you so desperate that you have to chase after what you can’t have? You dumped me first, remember?”

Him? Desperate? No. He’d never had a problem getting women. Until Rachel.

If he hadn’t been so young and stupid he would have been the one she’d married. Not Shane.

Now all he could think, all he could see, was the small sprinkle of freckles across her pert nose. He could be on a mission in a third world country or down the road. It didn’t matter. She affected him.

He had an all-consuming need for his best friend’s wife. He hadn’t counted on lust eating him alive.

But he had honor. He had loyalty. Ranger had vowed over Shane’s grave to take care of Rachel.

Find Lindsay’s Books Here

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lindsay Cross is the award-winning author of the Men of Mercy series. She is the fun loving mom of two beautiful daughters and one precocious Great Dane. Lindsay is happily married to the man of her dreams – a soldier and veteran. During one of her husband’s deployments from home, writing became her escape and motivation.
An avid reader since childhood, reading and writing is in her blood. After years of reading, she discovered her true passion – writing. Her alpha military men are damaged, drop-dead gorgeous and determined to win the heart of the woman of their dreams.

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5. Review: The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester

May Contain Spoilers


I read The Girl Who Could Fly because I received a copy for a blog tour.  I love middle-grade books, and since it’s been a while since I read one, I was excited to start this.  I loved the author’s voice, especially while Piper is still at the family farm.  She’s a surprise to her older, salt of the earth parents, and when the lively, happy Piper is born, they are taken aback.  They are, while not joyless folk, serious and dedicated to the land that has been in the family for generations.  They don’t need much and are content to get by, farming the land, tending their livestock, and fitting, uneventfully, into their community. 

Then along comes Piper.  She floats.  Her mother Betty immediately realizes that her daughter isn’t “normal.”  To a woman who embraces being normal and not tempting fate, who relishes doing things as they have always been done, Piper is an unexpected hiccup in her road of normalcy.  Betty decides that it’s best to keep Piper on the farm, homeschooled and doing her chores, so that the neighbors don’t start gossiping about them.  Piper upsets her plans one summer day, when she watches a momma bird push her babies out of the nest.  Piper wonders if she can fly too.  And once Piper sets her mind to something, nothing is going to get in her way until she accomplishes it.

An unfortunate event at the Fourth of July picnic, the first that Piper’s been allowed to attend, has disastrous consequences.  The entire community learns that Piper can fly.  Soon, the entire world knows.  When Dr Letitia Hellion and her crew from the top secret institute I.N.S.A.N.E. show up at the farm, promising to school Piper in her abilities, and to keep her safe, the McClouds have no choice but to let their daughter go with them.  What Piper finds isn’t exactly the paradise she’s been promised, but it takes the help of a mean supergenius to figure out that she’s actually a prisoner and not a student at the high tech facility in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by miles and miles of snow and ice. 

I loved Piper and Conrad.  Piper is completely guileless, the total opposite of Conrad.  Conrad is frustrated and just plain mean, and Piper’s happy  attitude grates on his last nerve.  He picks on her mercilessly, and Piper, who doesn’t have much experience in social settings, first tries to win him over, and when that doesn’t work, tries to ignore him.  Of course he gets her into trouble every chance he can, until one disturbing event makes Piper realize that all is not as it seems at the institute.  Conrad and Dr Hellion have been locked in a battle of wits for four years, and Conrad believes that with Piper’s help, he’ll finally get the best of her.

I liked how Piper fought to be true to herself, even at a terrible price to herself.  While she yearns to fit in, she begins to realize that being who she is is more important that being popular.  Her sunny disposition does endear her to others, regardless of how hard they try to resist.  I liked the message that being different isn’t bad, and everyone deserves a chance to be who they really are.

The Girl Who Could Fly is a quick read, with action, adventure, and danger.  It’s also about learning to get along with others despite their differences, and the importance of being yourself.  I am looking forward to The Boy Who Knew Everything, because I enjoyed Conrad so much.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

About the book:

You just can’t keep a good girl down . . . unless you use the proper methods.

Piper McCloud can fly. Just like that. Easy as pie.

Sure, she hasn’t mastered reverse propulsion and her turns are kind of sloppy, but she’s real good at loop-the-loops.

Problem is, the good folk of Lowland County are afraid of Piper. And her ma’s at her wit’s end. So it seems only fitting that she leave her parents’ farm to attend a top-secret, maximum-security school for kids with exceptional abilities.

School is great at first with a bunch of new friends whose skills range from super-strength to super-genius. (Plus all the homemade apple pie she can eat!) But Piper is special, even among the special. And there are consequences.

Consequences too dire to talk about. Too crazy to consider. And too dangerous to ignore.

At turns exhilarating and terrifying, Victoria Forester’s debut novel has been praised by Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight saga, as “the oddest/sweetest mix of Little House on the Prairie and X-Men…Prepare to have your heart warmed.” The Girl Who Could Fly is an unforgettable story of defiance and courage about an irrepressible heroine who can, who will, who must . . . fly.

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6. Monday Review: ALL THE RAGE by Courtney Summers

Summary: I finished reading this one today…and I just started reading it last night, right before bed. When I picked it up again this morning to enjoy with my coffee, it turned out to be basically un-put-down-able. It's easy to see how this... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on Monday Review: ALL THE RAGE by Courtney Summers as of 8/3/2015 7:49:00 PM
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7. Manga Review: Limit V 3 by Keiko Suenobu

Contains Spoilers


It’s been a while since I read the first two volumes of LIMIT, but I didn’t have any problems jumping back into the series again.  This is a survival story; a bus of high schoolers is headed to the mountains for a camping trip.  There’s a terrible accident, and the bus plunges off the road and down the mountainside.  There’s only a handful of survivors, and they are all girls.  Bickering and power struggles begin at once, and Morishige, the only one with a weapon, quickly takes charge.  Morishige has issues.  She has grudges against the other girls, and establishes herself as the leader of her battered, hungry, and terrified classmates.  When Isui changes to power dynamic by running off with Morishige’s scythe, there’s a rebellion against Morishige’s cruel leadership.

Things are pretty grim for our tiny group of survivors.  Usui has run off into the fog and hasn’t been seen since.  There’s only a little food to share, and Morishige is still trying to keep herself in control through threats and violence.  Since she doesn’t have her weapon anymore, that is only getting her so far.  She and Ichinose fight, bickering about how misguided Morishige’s behavior has been.  In a fit of rage, Morishige storms off.

In the morning, Konno goes off in search of Isui.  Weak and cold, she falls into a lake and almost drowns.  At the last minute, she’s saved!  By Hinata, who everyone thought was dead.  And boy am I glad he’s not, because I really like Hinata!  If I was stranded on a mountain with bleak prospects for rescue, I’d want to see his cheerful face.  Hinata is a force of positive thoughts and good vibes, and if anyone can make the impossible come true, I firmly believe it’s him.  Of course, his sudden resurrection doesn’t sit well with Morishige, especially after he calls her out for her previous “leadership” skills.  Morishige, getting back to her issues, has a real problem with males.  After a flashback to her dreadful homelife, one can’t help but understand where her lack of people skills stems from.  The victim of abuse, she doesn’t know how else to deal with her problems other than to strike out against them.

LIMIT is a very fast read that will keep you on the edge of your seat.  It’s brutal, suspenseful, and creepy.  The dire situation isn’t bringing out the best in everyone, and in fact, the utter hopelessness is turning some of the cast into evil little monsters.  There’s very little one for all and all for one until Hinata shows up.  There’s a lot of self-destruction and back-stabbing, as well as resource hogging, because who wants to share when it means that you may not have enough to eat and starve to death?  Desperate times means really, really bad behavior! 

I love the art, which matches the tenor of the story perfectly.  It’s detailed and expressive, but also dark and brooding.  Moods change in an instant from hopeful to oh my gosh we are all going to die, and the art clearly reflects that.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

In the third volume of The Limit the survivors’ worst fears have come true. One of their members has fallen. And this death amongst them will test the limits of their unity. New fears will be born from this tragedy and instead of using their combined strength to search for a way home, their lack of trust will force them all to retreat into their own micro-cliques. The balance of power is now undone, and a new face-another survivor-will eventually turn things upside down!

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8. Notting Hill Mystery

Notting Hill Mystery. Charles Warren Adams. 1862/2015. Poisoned Pen Press. 284 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Dare I say that I enjoyed The Notting Hill Mystery at least as much as Wilkie Collin's A Woman in White? What if I say I liked it even more?! Granted, it has been a few years since I've read A Woman in White. But Notting Hill was such a surprisingly wonderfully old-fashioned mystery, and, with good reason, I suppose, since it was published in the 1860s!

If you enjoy sensational Victorian novels, this one proves a satisfying treat. The "hero" of the novel has collected all the evidence he can about a certain case. He's not positively sure it's a murder case, because if it is murder, it's far from straight-forward. The less you know, the better the novel will read, in my opinion. But it involves TWINS and mesmerism and poison.

At first, I thought this one would be a slow read, since the evidence consists of letters, diaries, interviews, etc. But I found it an entertaining and satisfying read.

It is easy for me to recommend this one. I think mystery lovers will appreciate it. And if you have a love for all things Victorian, then you may really, really LOVE it, just as I did.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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9. Guest Post and Giveaway: Rescued by the Ranger by Dixie Lee Brown


Please give a warm welcome to Dixie Lee Brown!

Top Five Reasons Why Military Heroes are Hot by Dixie Lee Brown

I’m excited to be here at the Manga Maniac Café today to talk about my top five reasons military heroes are HOT! However you prefer your heroes, maybe you’ll identify with some of these.

5) What makes military men hot? The uniform, of course! A man all cleaned, pressed, and buttoned up automatically lets our heroine know that, if nothing else, he should be able to pick up his dirty clothes and throw them in the hamper. Right? But it goes far beyond that. Even a man in fatigues seems to do it for our heroine. It tells her he’s disciplined, he pays attention to detail, he’s protective, and fresh from the fight.

Remember these great lyrics from this song, Holding Out For a Hero, sung by Bonnie Tyler in the movie, Footloose?

I need a hero

I’m holding out for a hero ‘til the end of the night.

He’s gotta be strong

And he’s gotta be fast

And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight.

A hero fresh from the fight is hot! Of course, it doesn’t hurt if the uniform he’s wearing showcases broad shoulders, thighs of steel, and a chest that screams lean-on-me.

4) The military hero is in top physical condition due to the nature of his job. Garrett, the hero in my new release, is an Army Ranger. Ranger school is grueling by itself, but that’s not the end of a Ranger’s training. When they’re not deployed on a mission or on leave, they’re learning new techniques or improving old ones. These heroes have strong muscles and mad skills! Who wouldn’t go for a hero like that?

3) Military men learn to operate as a unit. The team is crucial. They come to rely on the man next to them and would do anything to protect that man. To the heroine, the no man left behind adage is very sexy! It shows the ability to commit.

2) Our hero exudes integrity and courage. He commands respect with action, words, and bearing. The idea that he will stand firm in the middle of a crisis, and that our heroine can count on him for safety and security makes him a true hero in her sight. Nothing is hotter than knowing your man has your back when it counts.

1) The top reason military men are hot becomes evident when the uniform comes off. No, I’m not talking about those rock-hard abs…or those amazing buns. (Although that sounds pretty good too!) I’m referring to the sensitive man who appears when he removes his armor. The man who can love his woman unselfishly and with abandon, but who might need a little help to realize he’s a hero to her. If you love strong and sensitive heroes, you’ll love my new book.

Woot! That was fun. Thanks for stopping by and please leave me a comment and tell me about your favorite hero.

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Protecting those in trouble is what Army Ranger Garrett Harding does best. But after helping a feisty redhead toss a couple of losers from her Idaho bar, the woman is anything but grateful for his assistance—in fact, she seems to know him. Worse, she almost certainly hates him.

The only thing Rachel Maguire wants is to send this smart-mouthed, muscled military man packing. She knows Garrett has his own reasons for staying, so when he offers Rachel a deal—two days to prove his worth or he leaves—she reluctantly agrees. Despite wanting to loathe him, Rachel finds herself drawn to his quiet confidence…and the way he fills out a t-shirt.

But when Rachel receives a phone call from the past, everything changes. The stalker who destroyed her life ten years ago is closing in once more. Refusing to put anyone else in harm’s way, Rachel hits the road hoping to lure danger away from those she loves. But Garrett won’t leave this sexy spitfire to face her stalker alone. He’ll do anything to protect her. Even if it means risking his life—and his heart.


She stood with elbows braced against the far side of the bar, drawing down on the kid with the rifle she gripped like a modern-day Annie Oakley, and Garrett didn’t doubt her threat for a minute. Clearly, however, the dimwitted kid didn’t have the sense to take her seriously. Shit. It chapped his ass to have to take this worthless scum’s side. “Uh . . . Rachel is it? Maybe we should let the police handle this.”

A disbelieving laugh burst from her. “The police are worse than Riley here.”

With her attention solely on the young Riley, Garrett sidled up to the bar, shoved the barrel of the rifle up, and pulled it from her hands. “Trust me. He’s right about this. You don’t want to do that.”

Riley picked that moment to laugh.

“Damn it. Shut up, kid, if you know what’s good for you.” Garrett’s patience was at its breaking point.

Rachel inhaled sharply, and Garrett’s attention jerked back to her. She stared at the door.

“Drop the rifle, Mister.” The new voice was deep and raspy, and it was followed by the sound of footsteps moving closer.

Garrett slowly turned to see the two men from the old Ford pickup standing one on each side of the swinging panels. Both carried sawed-off shotguns. They reminded him of Darryl and Darryl, two no-doubt inbred brothers from an old sitcom he’d watched once. These two weren’t quite as funny, though.

Riley hooted, strode toward Garrett, and confiscated the Winchester. “What the hell are you boys doin’ back here? I told you to go pick up the supplies.”

“We saw this yahoo park and go inside. Thought there could be some trouble.” Darryl #1 smirked as though that’s what he’d been hoping for.

Riley gave him a playful shove. “Oh, and you didn’t think I could handle it by myself?”

“Naw, Riley. Just didn’t want you havin’ all the fun.”

Darryl #2 chewed on a toothpick as he studied Rachel, then swept his gaze to Garrett. “Thought we was just supposed to git the girl. What we gonna do with him now?” The older of the two jabbed his shotgun toward Garrett.

“What d’ya think?” Riley smirked.

What the hell was going on here? This wasn’t some awkward kid trying to coerce a kiss out of a reluctant girlfriend. Not even close. Both parties seemed willing to kill over whatever the stakes were in this little game, and Garrett was sadly out of the loop. He met Rachel’s gaze and cocked an eyebrow in question.

“I’d say I told you so, but the satisfaction would be short-lived. Bet you wished you’d stayed on the interstate now.” She lowered her eyelids, and it appeared she was studying something below the level of the bar, then she slowly opened them again until she was looking into his once more. There was a message in her green depths—if he could only figure out what it was.


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DIXIE LEE BROWN lives and writes in Central Oregon, inspired by what she believes is the most gorgeous scenery anywhere. She resides with two dogs and a cat, who make sure she never takes herself too seriously. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, movies, and trips to the beach.

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There's a lot of information in the news on how female gamers aren't really thought about, or marketed to in the video game industry, so I was interested, reading the description of this book, in the female protagonist. The author didn't touch on... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on TURNING PAGES: THE LEVELLER, by JULIA DURANGO as of 9/29/2015 4:27:00 AM
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This book is both a quiet coming-of-age novel, and a suspenseful mystery, making it somewhat difficult to review without providing spoilers. In some ways, it was a fairly typical YA novel about a high school girl - yet, there was a lot else going... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on TURNING PAGES: ARE YOU STILL THERE? by SARAH LYNNE SCHEERGER as of 10/9/2015 5:43:00 AM
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Full disclosure: I consider the author a friend of mine, though we've never yet managed to meet in person. (Darn it.) I read this book out of affection, but am raving about it, because I found it to be flat out astounding.One of the weird things... Read the rest of this post

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13. Review: Daughter of the Sword by Steve Bein

May Contain Spoilers


I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up Daughter of the Sword.  I was pleasantly surprised, and ended up enjoying it.  While it was more a police procedural than urban fantasy, with historical flashbacks thrown in to breathe life into the backgrounds behind the swords, I had a hard time putting it down. The setting helped – a whole bunch.  I’m not going to lie; I love reading about Japan, and Mariko’s job as a detective with the MTPD gave the story a colorful backdrop.

Mariko is the only female detective with the Metropolitan Tokyo Police Department and she’s got her sights set on being a narcotics officer.  When her old, encouraging superior officer retires and is replaced with Ko, she knows she’s got her work cut out for her.  Ko wants her making coffee or bringing him tea, and he has no patience for a woman in his department.  Mariko is on a probationary period with Narcotics’, and Ko has threatened to dash her career at the first hint of impropriety from her, and even if she’s on her best behavior, he’s still going to send her packing at the end of her probation.  He makes no secret that he doesn’t want her on the team, and Mariko bristles at his dismissal of her skills.

When she gets a tip that someone is planning to start pushing hard drugs on the streets, Ko dismisses her out of hand.  The police and the yakuza have an unspoken agreement; the police look the other way on smaller offenses, and the yakuza make sure hard drugs stay off  the streets.  Ko sends her to investigate an attempted robbery to get her out of his hair.  Mariko is angry at being assigned to a case that isn’t even a crime.  The sword wasn’t stolen because the homeowner interrupted the robbery.

The owner of the sword is Professor Yasuo Yamada, and once he enters the picture, I couldn’t read fast enough.  Yamada has studied the weapons created by Inazuma, a sword smith of extraordinary skill.  Most scholars doubt he even existed, but Yamada has no doubts. He’s seen several of Inazuma’s blades, and Yamada believes that each has  magical properties.  Mariko scoffs at his claims, but as she gets to know Yamada, and as a demented killer continues to try to steal Yamada’s sword, she starts to wonder if the swords are somehow connected to the rumored cocaine shipment.

Mariko becomes a student of Yamada’s; in addition to being an expert about the history of the swords, he’s also an expert swordsman.  Even though Mariko still doesn’t believe in magic swords, she does believe that someone is dead set on stealing Yamada’s sword.  When a group of armed thugs break into Yamada’s house with the intent to kill him, Yamada, a frail seeming, nearly blind 89 year old, swiftly puts an end to their aspirations, looking all the world like a samurai warrior of old.

I really enjoyed the flashbacks.  Each of the swords has a history, and each is explored through a series of  flashbacks.  The swords are cursed or blessed, depending on the will of the one wielding it and the intention behind their attacks.  The characters in the weapons’ pasts get pretty much what they deserve, too.  Their behavior dictates their successes and failures, and while some learn from their mistakes, others never do and suffer horribly for it.

I liked Mariko, too.  She has to put up with a lot of crap from Ko, but she still finds a way to circumvent his orders and do what she thinks is right.  She’s tough, not easily intimidated, and she goes up against yakuza members and drug dealers with equal ferocity.  Her mom gives her pause, but otherwise, she’s got guts and nerves of steel.

If you’re looking for something a little different, Daughter of the Sword is worth a look.  It’s a pleasant break from the shifters and alternate realities that I’ve been reading, and I could easily relate to the strong female lead.   

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by my local library

From Amazon:



As the only female detective in Tokyo’s most elite police unit, Mariko Oshiro has to fight for every ounce of respect, especially from her new boss. But when he gives her the least promising case possible—the attempted theft of an old samurai sword—it proves more dangerous than anyone on the force could have imagined.

The owner of the sword, Professor Yasuo Yamada, says it was crafted by the legendary Master Inazuma, a sword smith whose blades are rumored to have magical qualities. The man trying to steal it already owns another Inazuma—one whose deadly power eventually comes to control all who wield it.

Mariko’s investigation has put her on a collision course with a curse centuries old and as bloodthirsty as ever. She is only the latest in a long line of warriors and soldiers to confront this power, and even the sword she learns to wield could turn against her.

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14. TURNING PAGES: Arsenic for Tea by Robin Stevens

Awhile back we met Hazel and Daisy in Murder Most Unladylike - or, in clunky American titling, MURDER IS BAD MANNERS (I have a horrible suspicion that ARSENIC FOR TEA will be marketed to Americans as POISON FOR LUNCH or another equally pedestrian... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on TURNING PAGES: Arsenic for Tea by Robin Stevens as of 4/8/2015 11:00:00 AM
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15. #669 – Sherlock Academy by F. C. Shaw




Sherlock Academy

Written by F. C. Shaw
Future House Publishing         3/16/2015*
214 pages        Age 8—12

“Teachers in disguise. Secret libraries, hollow books . . . All these and more await eleven-year-old Rollie Wilson at the mysterious Academy of Fine Sleuths. When Rollie and his best friend, Cecily, are invited to attend a school where children learn the art of detection just like the great Sherlock Holmes, they discover a strange burglary has been committed and a mystery is a foot. Determined to investigate, Rollie discovers that appearances can be deceiving, the truth can be hurtful, and friends sometimes turn into foes. Does Rollie have what it takers to follow in Holmes footsteps? Can he use his skills to solve the mystery and save the school from an unknown villain?”

The Story
Rollie Wilson is the middle child of five and the only non-twin. That makes it difficult for Rollie to gain his family’s attention; even Great Auntie Ei, who shows Rollie both attention and affection, finds herself preoccupied with Herr Zilch , a mastermind thief who continues to allude Scotland Yard. But when an invitation arrives for Rollie, the entire family is interested.

“Rollie E. Wilson:

“It is our pleasure to inform you of your eligibility for the Sherlock Holmes Academy of Fine Sleuths. We believe you possess the qualities we seek in fine students . . . bring only the following item [to orientation]: your favorite book.”

Rollie’s best friend, Cecily, also receives an invitation, and both are admitted, each taking their favorite Sherlock Holmes book, which is placed into a strange library by staff. To get their book back, students must figure out how the library shelves work. No student has ever figured the out the secret or retrieved their book. Rollie intends to be the first, but is interrupted. Someone has broken into the library, for what no one knows—or is saying. Deciphering all the secrets (library, teachers,and other characters), will put Rollie and his family into grave danger.

Sherlock Academy will not only entertain readers, it might just encourage kids to learn about codes—explained well in the story—or to simply pick up a Sherlock Holmes story for the first time. The characters are will developed. Rollie and his best buddy Cecily solve most every question by asking themselves five basic questions about the problem or situation at hand: Who? What? Why?, When? and How?

Rollie and Cecily have been neighborhood detectives for quite sometime, often using binoculars to spy on Mr. Crenshaw, Rollie’s next-door neighbor. Crenshaw enjoys this sleuthing, often waving back or inviting the two junior sleuths in for tea and sending Auntie Ei chocolates (which she loves). Careful observation will glean that Crenshaw’s activities are the first of many clues that somethings are not always what they seem to be.

My only negative, to me, was how easy it is to figure out where Auntie Ei’s nemesis, Herr Zilch, is hiding between criminal acts, though his plans took me by surprised. There are several characters with secrets, including the eighty-year-old aunt, which are not evident until the end. The author does a great job of teasing the reader and then sending them in a new direction, once again confusing things. Rollie, being good detective—with his Watson (Cecily)—figures out most mysteries, but has a final surprise that leads him, and readers, to book 2.

This is year one for Rollie and Cecily at Sherlock Academy. What will Shaw put them in the middle of during year two is something I cannot wait to discover. Sherlock Academy is a wonderful mystery even younger kids can enjoy. There are a few detective terms that might send them to a dictionary (always a good thing), but over all. Sherlock Academy, with its well-written story, will keep readers turning the pages and entertaining them until the very mysterious end. Herr Zilch should return as Rollie’s nemesis, as will the teachers, plus probably one new goofball to replace the one that leaves. If you like mysteries, if you like Sherlock Holmes, if you like relatively fast reads with well-kept secrets and a nice flow, well, then Sherlock Academy is the new series for you. Enjoy!

SHERLOCK ACADEMY. Text copyright © 2015 by F. C. Shaw. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Future House Publishing, Orem, UT.

*First published on July 31, 2009
Purchase Sherlock Academy at AmazonBook Depository.
Learn more Sherlock Academy HERE.
Meet the author, F. C. Shaw, at her website: www.sherlockacademy.com
Find other middle grade novels at the Future House Publishing website: www.futurehousepublishing.com



original cover
X. . . . . . . F

Full Disclosure: Sherlock Academy, by F. C. Shaw, and received from Future House Publishing, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed belong to Kid Lit Reviews and no one else’s. This is disclosed in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16CRF, Part 255: Guidelines Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: F. C. Shaw, Future House Publishing, mystery, Sherlock Holmes, suspense

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16. Spotlight and Giveaway: Bait by Leslie Jones

This morning I have a spotlight and giveaway for Leslie Jones’ BAIT. Check it out!

Duty & Honor # 2

By: Leslie Jones

Releasing April 28th, 2015

Witness Impulse


In the next thrilling Duty & Honor novel, a female CIA agent and a Delta Force soldier must catch a deadly assassin… but do they know where the danger truly lies?

After several assassination attempts on an allied royal, the CIA sends in operative Christina Madison—who bears a striking resemblance to the monarch—to pose as the famous princess and draw out her would-be killer.

When Delta Force Lieutenant Gabriel Morgan’s team is assigned to Christina’s undercover protection detail, he’s less than thrilled. Gabe wants nothing to do with a woman whose rumored screw-up nearly got her last team killed. Not to mention there’s bad blood between Gabe and the CIA—he doesn’t trust anyone who lies for a living.

But once the trap is set and the assassin takes the bait, Gabe must protect her with his life … because danger lurks in the shadows, and now Christina is in the crosshairs.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/03/bait-duty-honor-2-by-leslie-jones.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22864487-bait?ac=1
Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/show/137228-duty-honor

Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo | Publisher


Author Info

Leslie Jones has been an IT geek, a graphic designer, and, much like her heroine, an Army Intelligence officer, bringing her firsthand experience to the pages of her works. She’s lived in Alaska, Korea, Belgium, Germany, and other exotic locations (including New Jersey). She is a wife, mother, and full-time writer and splits her time between Scottsdale, Arizona, and Cincinnati, Ohio.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads




Reports of the assassination attempt on Princess Véronique de Savoie barely made a blip on the news outside of Concordia. The tiny country rivaled Liechtenstein in size and importance. As in, very damned little. Most would be hard-pressed to find it on a map.

Inside the CIA, however, the assassination attempt caused a ripple of reaction, starting in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, bypassing normal channels, and landing directly on case officer Jay Spicer’s desk.

“You want me to do what?” asked Christina Madison, eyes wide as she stared at her boss.

Jay Spicer looked back at her. “Have you been in front of a mirror lately?”

“Sure I have.” Every now and then, someone would comment on her eerie resemblance to the princess of Concordia. Princess Véronique made headlines inside her own country on a regular basis, though rarely outside of it. Concordian cameras and reporters followed her as she labored on various humanitarian projects. She’d been part of a BBC documentary last year on modern royalty in Europe, which Christina had watched out of curiosity. The princess remained gracious in the face of newshounds and paparazzi, even when elbow-deep in dirt planting a new strain of bacteria-resistant corn in Ethiopia or bringing clean well water to rural Bolivians.

Occasionally a European visitor to the Washington, D.C., area would ask if she were, indeed, the princess. Christina would laugh it off with a simple, “Don’t I wish.” Truth be told, she much preferred her anonymous work bringing down money laundering and smuggling operations. Having cameras shoved in her face and every word and action dissected struck her as repugnant.

For the most part, though, Véronique remained one of the royal unknowns.

Christina grabbed a handful of Skittles from the crystal ashtray on Jay’s desk. Red and yellow only. He’d already eaten the green and orange.

“Her face is well known inside Concordia. Resembling someone and taking her place are two different—”

“This comes from the top,” her boss interrupted. “From the director himself. The British government specifically asked for your help.”

Her head began to whirl. The mandatory photographs of the president and CIA director frowned down at her from behind his head. Boring pictures. Boring white walls. The only interesting thing in the whole office was the life-sized cardboard cutout of Captain America planted to the right of the door. “The British? Not the Concordians? I don’t understand, sir.”

Jay leaned forward in his chair and tugged at an earlobe, his ADHD making it impossible for him to sit still. At fifty, he still managed to retain the air of an errant schoolboy. He smirked, cracking his knuckles. Christina crossed her legs, not fooled by his antics. Jay Spicer was a shrewd, brilliant case officer. He counted on his façade to cause people to underestimate him. He would clarify the situation in his own time.

“Princess Véronique is engaged to a landed baron in the UK.”

“He has enough clout to tap the CIA for help?”

“Sort of.” Jay pushed a folder across his cluttered mahogany desk. The beige file sported the banded red and large stamps indicating that it contained classified information.

Christina uncrossed her legs in order to lean forward and snag the folder. She flipped it open. The top page contained a request from … Trevor Carswell?

Jay rocked back, the chair squeaking. He grinned, tapping his fingers.

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17. Review: The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

May Contain Spoilers


I decided to borrow The Great Zoo of China from the library because it has dragons in a modern setting.  The Chinese discovered a cave filled with dragon eggs 40 years before, and they have been secretly studying their new treasures, in addition to building a zoo to showcase them.  In their intense competition with the US, the Chinese are seeking to create a vacation and pop culture behemoth to rival Disney World.  If there are occasion setbacks, like when the dragons attack and eat their caregivers, well, that’s just an acceptable price to pay to finally bump the United States out of their position as the number one world leader.

This is a very fast, exciting read.  I couldn’t help but compare it to Jurassic Park, which I read, oh, a gabillion years ago.  Jurassic Park, like so many of Michael Crichton’s works, is heavy on the science in an effort to make his world more believable.  The Great Zoo of China is like Jurassic Park lite.  Not so much science, but the action more than makes up for it.  The first 22% or so is set up for making the zoo believable, but it comes across as a huge info dump.  Once the dragons go on their bloody rampage, the pace picks up, the info dumping is left largely behind, and protagonist CJ Cameron falls into one hair-raising predicament after another.  While at times I echoed CJ’s “You’ve got to be kidding me!” the dragon battles and desperate attempts to escape a painful end gobbled up in their massive jaws kept me turning the pages.  Rapidly.  I couldn’t put it down and finished in just a few hours.

The overabundance of exclamation points was jarring, and I thought they took away from the tension of the action.  After the first few, I wished I could replace them all with nice, sentence ending periods.  Alas, I suffered through many, many exclamation points, which soon had me cringing each time I saw one.  I thought they over emphasized the dragons’ actions, and instead of making the moment more exciting, just made me think, “oh, brother.” 

If you need a book for lounging around the pool, The Great Zoo of China is a great choice for your summer reading list.  It’s pure popcorn, with a kick ass heroine with nerves of steel.  The dragons are frightening death machines that easily match the might and power of the most advanced military helicopter, and evil villains who want to protect the zoo, and their country’s reputation, no matter the cost, just add to the chaos after the dragons revolt.

Rated F for FUN

Review copy borrowed from my local library

From Amazon:

In the blockbuster and bestselling tradition of Jurassic Park comes the breakneck new adventure from the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author Matthew Reilly whose imaginative, cinematic thrillers “make you feel like a kid again; [they’re] a blast” (Booklist).

It is a secret the Chinese government has been keeping for forty years. They have proven the existence of dragons—a landmark discovery no one could ever believe is real, and a scientific revelation that will amaze the world. Now the Chinese are ready to unveil their astonishing findings within the greatest zoo ever constructed.

A small group of VIPs and journalists has been brought to the zoo deep within China to see these fabulous creatures for the first time. Among them is Dr. Cassandra Jane “CJ” Cameron, a writer for National Geographic and an expert on reptiles. The visitors are assured by their Chinese hosts that they will be struck with wonder at these beasts, that the dragons are perfectly safe, and that nothing can go wrong.

Of course it can’t…

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18. Review: The Mist-Torn Witches by Barb Hendee

May Contain Spoilers


This is a series I would have completely missed out on if I hadn’t received an email from the publicist about it.  Since I’m going through a fantasy phase, I thought I’d give it a shot, and I’m so glad I did.  It’s a very fast read, I liked the protagonists immensely, and there’s enough court intrigue that it kept me guessing.

Celine and Amelie Fawe are trying to eke out a living in their little village, which has been impoverished by the noble in control of it.  After Celine’s mother died, Celine did her best to run their apothecary shop, and while selling herbs brings in some cash, and she enjoys that aspect of the business, the big money is in fortunetelling.  Her mother was a gifted seer, and with her gone, Celine pretends to be one.  Clever and observant, she asks leading questions and gives vague enough answers that her customers are satisfied.  When a young man asks her advice about who he should marry, she has no way of knowing that her response will cause so much grief for both herself and the young man.

When she’s ordered to advise a young woman to marry Sub-Prince Damek, and paid handsomely to do so, Celine experiences her first real vision.  Much to her horror, it reveals a ghastly end for the noblewoman if she does marry the cruel Damek, the man responsible for so much of the misery afflicting her village.  Unable to live with herself if she does as she’s ordered, she advises the young woman to reject the offer.  Later that evening, the sisters’ shop is set on fire, and assassins attempt to kill them.

Unknown to Damek’s people or Celine and Amelie, Sub-Prince Anton has been spying on his cruel older brother.  Anton’s soldiers save the girls and take them to Anton’s castle.  Under his safekeeping, Anton has a proposition for them; if they can solve the mysterious deaths plaguing young women in his city, he’ll allow them to take over operation of the apothecary shop in town, which has been abandoned since the apothecary died the previous summer.  Tempted by both the prosperity of Anton’s holdings, and by the shop itself, Celine agrees to help him.  If word of his inability to protect his subjects reaches his father, he’s afraid that he will not be named heir, and that his awful brother Damek will instead.

Celine’s dishonesty from that seeing years ago is back to bite her in the butt.  Anton was the lad she advised, and things did not turn out well for him.  His young bride died, and he’s been a train wreak since.  He looks weak willed and emotionally distraught, and I thought he needed to worry more about his personal image than catching the mysterious murderer.  Everyone thought he was on the edge of a breakdown, and he wasn’t exactly my idea of the guy I’d want in charge of a kingdom.  While he’s a wise leader and compassionate, he’s also sickly and more an object to pity than one to follow.

The Mist-Torn Witches worked for me because I liked Celine and Amelie so much.  They are both smart and independent, and they empower each other.  They also have different strengths and weaknesses, and both play a huge part in solving the mystery plaguing Anton’s court.  As Celine has visions of death after death, she becomes frantic trying to save the girls from their horrible fates.  This drives a wedge between Celine and Amelie, and then between Celine and almost everyone else in the story.  She wonders what good her visions are if she can’t change the future to save one innocent life.

I polished this off in two sittings, and if I have any complaint, it’s with the ending.  The story just kind of peters out, which made me immediately borrow the next book, Witches in Red, from the library (so I guess it served it’s purpose!).  I like a little more closure than I got here, but I loved this book anyway.  If you liked A Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier, I think you will enjoy The Mist-Torn Witches, too.  While the story isn’t as heavy or as dark, there is a similar feeling to both.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

National bestselling author Barb Hendee presents a dark, fascinating new world and the story of two sisters who will discover they have far more power than they ever envisioned….

In a small village in the nation of Droevinka, orphaned sisters Céline and Amelie Fawe scrape out a living selling herbal medicines in their apothecary shop. Céline earns additional money by posing as a seer and pretending to read people’s futures.

But they exist in a land of great noble houses, all vying for power, and when the sisters refuse the orders of a warlord prince, they must flee and are forced to depend on the warlord prince’s brother, Anton, for a temporary haven.

A series of bizarre deaths of pretty young girls is plaguing the village surrounding Prince Anton’s castle. He offers Céline and Amelie permanent protection if they can use their “skills” to find the killer.

With little choice, the sisters enter a world unknown to them—of fine gowns and banquets and advances from powerful men. Their survival depends on catching a murderer who appears to walk through walls and vanish without a trace—and the danger grows with each passing night.

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19. Quick Monday Review: TANDEM by Anna Jarzab

I'll admit two things first: 1) I put off reading this one for far too long, and 2) the first time I opened it and read the first few pages, I just wasn't immediately drawn in. There was a princess, and I had not assumed that there would be... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on Quick Monday Review: TANDEM by Anna Jarzab as of 5/18/2015 6:43:00 PM
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This book is either a primer on how to find out stuff your parents are keeping from you, or a primer on how to make the most of your very best friends in the world. Its action-focused, galloping plot is a tale of family and chosen family, the ones... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on TURNING PAGES: INK AND ASHES by VALYNNE E. MAETANI as of 6/3/2015 8:03:00 AM
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Happy Friday!Welcome to another edition of In Tandem, the dual read-and-review blog series where both A.F. and I give our on-the-spot commentary as we read and team blog a book. (You can feel free to guess which of us is the yellow owl and which of... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on IN TANDEM: DELICATE MONSTERS by STEPHANIE KUEHN as of 6/12/2015 9:47:00 AM
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22. Interview and Giveaway: Exit Strategy by Lena Diaz

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Lena! Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Lena Diaz] Snarky, introverted, funny, moody, nerdy.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Lena Diaz] Clothes!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Lena Diaz] A miniature dog-house with Snoopy on top, typing on a type-writer.

A miniature dead body with a feather pen sticking out of its chest (hey, romantic suspense writer.)

A gold stapler that has “Keep it Together “ engraved on the side.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

[Lena Diaz] It changes, but right now it’s marshmallows toasted on saltine crackers.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Lena Diaz] Someone thinner than me!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week. Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Lena Diaz] The ability to write a book, flawlessly, in one draft.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Lena Diaz] Fallen, by Carey Baldwin. What a Wallflower Wants, by Maya Rodale.


Exit Strategy
EXIT Inc. # 1

By: Lena Diaz

Releasing June 30, 2015



Lena Diaz launches her thrilling new series featuring the undercover vigilantes of EXIT Inc. with a skilled operative putting his life—and his heart—on the line for a woman in trouble…

When Sabrina Hightower awakens to the sound of an intruder, she figures he’s there to rob her, murder her— or worse. She doesn’t expect to be carried off by a muscle-bound stud with male-model good looks… or that he came to rescue her.

Mason Hunt became an enforcer with EXIT Inc. to eliminate the bad guys—terrorists, militia groups, all those who would do America harm. But his latest target is innocent. If EXIT could lie about sultry, strong-willed Sabrina, what darker truths might they be concealing?

Going rogue in the rugged North Carolina Mountains, Mason risks everything to keep Sabrina close, especially now that EXIT’s lethal assassins are chasing them down. The heat is on… but it’s nothing compared to the slow burn of seduction.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/05/exit-strategy-exit-inc-1-by-lena-diaz.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23367394-exit-strategy?ac=1
Goodreads Series Link:

Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo | Publisher

Author Info

Originally from Kentucky, romantic suspense author Lena Diaz also lived in California and Louisiana before settling in Northeast Florida with her husband, two children, and a Shetland Sheepdog named Sparky. A Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® finalist, she’s won the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense and has been a finalist for the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award. She loves to watch action movies, garden, and hike in the beautiful Tennessee Smoky Mountains.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads


Sabrina crept into her moonlit living room and grabbed the arm of the couch for support. Her right hand, slippery with blood, slid across the cloth and she fell to her knees on the hardwood floor. A gasp of pain escaped between her clenched teeth before she could stop it.

She froze, searching the dark recesses of the room, squinting to try to bring everything into focus. If the intruder was within ten feet of her, no problem, she could make out every little detail. But any farther than that and he might as well be a fuzzy blob on the wallpaper.

Had he heard her? She listened intently for the echo of footsteps in the hall outside, or the squeak of a shoe, the rasp of cloth against cloth. But all she heard was silence. In a fair world, that might mean the stranger had given up and left the house. But in her world, especially the nightmarish last six months, it probably meant he was lying in wait around the next corner, ready to attack.

The throbbing burn in her right bicep had her angling her arm toward the moonlight filtering through the plantation shutters to see if the damage was as bad as it felt. Nope. It was worse. Blood ran down her arm from a jagged, two-inch gash and dripped to the floor.

She clasped her left hand over the cut, applying pressure and clenching her mouth shut to keep from hissing at the white-hot flash of pain. She had to stop the bleeding. But there wasn’t any point in looking for something here in the living room to bind the wound. Only the couch and a wing chair remained of the antiques that she’d brought with her halfway across the country from Boulder, Colorado to Asheville, North Carolina. She’d sold the other furniture, and even some of her sketches, to pay the exorbitant fees of the private investigators searching for her grandfather and the even more exorbitant fees of the lawyers.

She supposed the Carolina Panthers nightshirt that she was wearing might be useful as a tourniquet. But she didn’t relish the possibility of facing an intruder in nothing but her panties. The nightshirt was definitely staying on.

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5026871.Lena_Diaz

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Three (3) Signed Copies of EXIT STRATEGY)

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23. Thursday Review: LOVE IS THE DRUG by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Summary: I read this a while ago, and I've been terribly neglectful in writing up a review. This was my first experience reading one of Johnson's books, and I had high expectations after what I'd heard about The Summer Prince (reviewed here by... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on Thursday Review: LOVE IS THE DRUG by Alaya Dawn Johnson as of 7/9/2015 6:12:00 PM
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24. I Like Your Shoes, by R. Stim | Dedicated Review

I Like Your Shoes is a suspenseful read that will satisfy audiences interested in contemporary mysteries featuring dynamic characters and inventive plots.

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25. Blog Tour and Giveaway: The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester

I’m thrilled to be part of The Girl Who Could Fly blog tour!  In celebration of the upcoming release of The Boy Who Knew Everything, I have a copy of The Girl Who Could Fly up for grabs, and the publisher asked bloggers to answer this question:

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

With all of the health issues in my family right now, I would want the the ability to heal.  First, I’d fix my hip, so I would be ready to hit the road and get my mom squared away, too.  I’d stop by the barn and give some pain relief to all of the older horses, because they, unfortunately, develop arthritis and life-altering illnesses, too.  Then off I’d go, healing anyone or anything in pain or suffering from an illness.

Which superpower would you choose?

About the books:

You just can’t keep a good girl down . . . unless you use the proper methods.

Piper McCloud can fly. Just like that. Easy as pie.

Sure, she hasn’t mastered reverse propulsion and her turns are kind of sloppy, but she’s real good at loop-the-loops.

Problem is, the good folk of Lowland County are afraid of Piper. And her ma’s at her wit’s end. So it seems only fitting that she leave her parents’ farm to attend a top-secret, maximum-security school for kids with exceptional abilities.

School is great at first with a bunch of new friends whose skills range from super-strength to super-genius. (Plus all the homemade apple pie she can eat!) But Piper is special, even among the special. And there are consequences.

Consequences too dire to talk about. Too crazy to consider. And too dangerous to ignore.

At turns exhilarating and terrifying, Victoria Forester’s debut novel has been praised by Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight saga, as “the oddest/sweetest mix of Little House on the Prairie and X-Men…Prepare to have your heart warmed.” The Girl Who Could Fly is an unforgettable story of defiance and courage about an irrepressible heroine who can, who will, who must . . . fly.

There is a prophecy.

It speaks of a girl who can fly and a boy who knows everything. The prophecy says that they have the power to bring about great change . . . .

The boy is Conrad Harrington III. The girl is Piper McCloud. They need their talents now, more than ever, if they are to save the world-and themselves.

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