Review: Shades of Desire Multi-Author Anthology

ShadesofDesireBoxedSet_KindleSize_3d

**Shades Of Desire**

Ten titillating tales from USA Today, bestselling and award-winning authors. Step into the world of some of the freshest voices in romance. From spicy secrets to sweet second chances. Come find your perfect shade of desire.

Now this anthology is one I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. And let me tell you, with 10 books combining for 47 out of 50 possible stars, it is worth so much more than the $0,99 these ladies are charging for the Kindle edition. Below, I’m going to post the blurb and my review for each story that appears in the collection.

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SOD liar liar

LIAR, LIAR by J.A. Coffey – Bestselling Author

Blurb: Divorced certified fraud examiner Jessica Barlow catches liars for a living. Sparks fly when she’s assigned to investigate a dating website owned by a man determined to guarantee she finds love, even if he has to pretend to be a client!

Review: From the beginning, this one sucked me in and wouldn’t let go. Floyd kept me on the edge of my seat, which doesn’t usually happen with a pure romance story (you know, the kind that doesn’t have any outside conflict-murder, kidnappings, or general mayhem). I found myself drawn to the characters and the story and I couldn’t put the book down. I loved the way the writer crafted a clever tale proving that anything can happen when nothing is as it seems.

Knowing that Jess joined LoveLines as a legitimate client but then gets tasked with investigating the company AND that Matteo is wiling to pose as a client to thwart an investigation he fears is taking place, creates an aura of suspense. You know that things are going to go sideways, you just are unsure when. So while you are waiting for the hammer to drop, you get to know the characters. Matteo’s dedication to his family and his work is admirable as is Jess’s quest to rebuild her life and prove herself. Their attraction is immediate and intense despite their reluctance to open their hearts. This attraction leads to some pretty steamy encounters. The drawn out, sensual scenes keep you hoping that these two will get their HEA.

I give this story a 5-Star rating.

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SOD dangerous flames

DANGEROUS FLAMES  by Wendy Ely – USA Today Bestselling Author

Blurb: Sometimes good men are taught to do evil things and it takes the strength of a sheltered woman to make things right. When Gabi learns of her father, she is asked to leave for her own safety. Fine. She’ll go… but she is taking her secret love with her, even if it’s at gun-point.

Review: Ah… A tale of hidden/forbidden love. Well, that’s my main impression. Gabi has hidden her feelings from Mik because she fears he doesn’t feel the same. They were once close friends but being sent away to school in Europe when she was 15 prevented her from finding out if they could be more. Mik, well, he has his own reasons for keeping his feelings secret and it has everything to do with the warning he received from the girl’s father- head of the Family his father works for.

This one has a little bit of everything- Mafia business, family crisis, assassination attempts, hidden treasure… and that’s just the outside plot. The relationship between Gabi and Mik is complex and the desire to proclaim and simultaneously hide their desire manages to confuse the hell out of them both.

I liked the story a lot and I think the author did a great job crafting an intriguing story. The tale was full of rich detail and made me consider things I’ve never thought about in regards to the Mafia life but it still managed to focus on the details of the interpersonal relationships of the characters.

Now, I will say the copy I have had some errors- missing words and punctuation that caused me to have to stop and figure out the author’s meaning. And in one paragraph the words absurd and absorbed were swapped around. I also noticed a slip on the name used for a character- I can’t go into more detail without treading into spoiler territory so I’ll just stop there. Overall, the story was well done and I give it a 5-Star rating. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

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SOD a decade for darius

A DECADE FOR DARIUS by Dorothy Callahan – Bestselling Author

Blurb: Jess never forgot her first kiss, especially since it came from the guy who taught her everything she knows about antiques, her livelihood. But if she wins the priceless inheritance, Jess will risk losing Darius Covington all over again.

Review: This one was hard for me to rate. It kinda falls in between a 3 and 4 star but after thinking about it, I went with the higher rating because the characterization was that damn good.

Now, the prologue was a bit problematic for me. I didn’t get sucked in right away. It actually took me a while to get my thoughts in the story. Some of the imagery came off as awkward; like when the author talked about “balloon of opportunity deflated, making pbbffftt noises…” I kept thinking the girl had intestinal issues which would make impressing the guy all the more difficult. I also found that while there was a lot of description, the kiss itself (which is mentioned in the tagline) isn’t really described, I wasn’t even sure it really happened at first… I figured something that important would have been better defined.

But once I got past the prologue, I enjoyed the characters and the rest of the story immensely. I loved the interaction between Jess and Darius- even when they were at odds, they managed to be all goo-goo-eyed towards each other. The internal conflict in each as they warred with their feelings while dealing with the external conflict over the inheritance was great. It really helped define the characters and show that love at first sight (or first kiss) may be more than a myth.

The secondary characters were well written. Jess’s GBF Jeremy is probably one of my favorites though. The dude was crazy and funny and one of the most likable characters I’ve seen. He was a man on a mission; determined to see his BFF happy, despite her objections. He was also outgoing, flirtatious and a bit pushy- definitely someone I’d want in my corner. I also liked the teen who worked for Jess even though I felt for the kid for some of the abuse dealt to her by her colleagues. Her chipper demeanor, slightly inappropriate comments, and the way she takes the good-natured teasing reminds me of my teenager.

Not all the characters were likable, but the unlikable ones were still well defined and created to be miserable excuses for human beings. Callahan really shows great talent in creating both likable and hate-able characters that are so well defined, you feel like you know them personally.

The story itself was entertaining. I found myself surprised by some of my wouldn’t it be nice if thoughts actually happened. It wasn’t that the story was predictable, it just ended exactly like it would have if I’d written it. Needless to say, I found myself drawn to the story, even when it lagged.

For the most part, it held my attention and kept me either intrigued or laughing out loud and sharing the funny parts with others. The parts that I struggled with were the intimate scenes. I found they were a bit long and they felt more dragged out than they needed to be. I don’t know if it was my frame of mind or what but I couldn’t really feel the same level of emotion during the sex scenes as I did the rest of the book. Another issue I felt interrupted the flow of the book was strange word usage, particularly the word rue. Although I know the way the author used it wasn’t incorrect, it was redundant in some parts and felt awkward in others- I don’t think I’ve ever come across it used as a noun unless it was referring to a plant before, it’s always been a verb to me so that took a little getting used to.

Overall, I say that this one is a good read and I recommend it to anyone who wants a romance with a little bit of angst and a healthy dose of intrigue.

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SOD still hot for you

STILL HOT FOR YOU by Diane Escalera – Bestselling Author

Blurb: Shay LaCosta screwed up a damn good marriage. Now she’s on a mission to get a little submission, and get her hunky husband back in her bed.

Review: This one was different. While most romances focus on the beginning of a relationship and follow the couple as their feelings grow and they work towards their happy-ever-after, this one focuses on what comes after. Happily-ever-after includes work. A relationship can easily become stagnant and eventually spoil–it is the reason this country’s divorce rate is so high.

I like the way the author focuses on a couple that have already said their I-dos. It shows a realistic facet of relationships often neglected in fiction. It breaks the popularized notions of married sex and shows that people can continue to have exhausting sex lives even after they’ve been married for years. Especially when a disagreement threatens their fairy-tale-ending.

This story was very well written. The characters were very realistic as were their problems, concerns, fears, hopes and dreams. The sex was steamy and the scenes fit well with the concept of the book. I love the term ‘Booty Camp,’it perfectly describes Shay’s attempt to save her marriage.

This one ranks in at 5-Stars and I look forward to reading the other stories in this trilogy and finding out what’s in store for Dylan’s brother and cousin.

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SOD his bedpost queen

HIS BEDPOST QUEEN by Lena Hart – Bestselling Author

Blurb: Athena Lewis has a sharp mind and an even sharper attitude. Except when it comes to “Davie,” the only man who’s ever truly made her feel safe. Yet to protect the only family she has left, she must embark on a mission that goes against everything she believes in, and that includes using the last trick she has left. Her body.

Review: Everyone has heard the saying, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” so it should come as no surprise that Las Vegas serves as the backdrop for story filled with cons, organized crime, opulent casinos, scandal, and lots of hot sex.

This book kept me intrigued. The relationship development between David and Athena is unconventional. She waltzes into his life after fourteen years with a job to do and the skill set to get it done but she can’t shut down her emotions. David doesn’t even recognize the woman before him as the kid he used to know until it is too late. Then things get more complicated as they discover she isn’t the only one after information that could ruin him.

I liked the characters. I liked Athena’s strength and her loyalty to those she loves. And I loved David’s protective nature and his atypical reaction when he discovered who Athena was. I loved the pace of the book and the way the author kept throwing more information to challenge my perceptions. There is a great deal of sexual content but it fits the story well and it doesn’t effect the flow of the story. The romantic elements of the story are settled in the end but the mystery surrounding the rest is left open.

This one earned 5-Stars as well. I look forward to reading the other books in the series and finding out where the rest of the story goes.

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SOD resisting destiny

RESISTING DESTINY by Chanta Rand – Bestselling Author and Debut Author of the Year

Blurb: Thrown together for ninety days by a spiteful judge, womanizing attorney, Cayson Sullivan and street-smart hustler, Destiny Jackson find the only thing they can agree on is their red-hot attraction for each other.

Review: A hot-shot lawyer working pro bono in night-court manages to take on a case that lands him in front of a judge he’s avoided since a one-night-stand years before. If that wasn’t bad enough, the harder he fights for his client, the more the judge puts the screws to him. In the end, he finds himself responsible for Destiny, a young woman who puts her trust in the wrong people.

Through the story, Cayson is stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place. Does he follow his brain and do what he knows he should or does he let his libido do the thinking for him. He is walking on a tight-rope and one slip can cost him. While Destiny is in awe of Cayson and his co-worker Phaedra who make it their mission to help her turn her life around. She is determined to take the opportunity to make something better for herself. Her quandary comes in later when she has to choose between her old life and the one she has worked to build since that fateful night.

There are some outside conflict but the internal conflicts take center stage. These conflicts, for both characters, are well defined. They waver between logic and passion, knowing that if they give in to the latter, their lives will be forever changed. Although succumbing to desire isn’t the only action that can bring change to their lives. Watching characters evolve and change because of the circumstances of their lives, makes a story great. These characters end up forever changed because of one another–they learn, they grow, they love.

The passion between the two is another aspect I liked. They have this intense desire that steams up the pages but one or the other manages to break away leaving the other more confused than ever. The author teases the reader with this stop-and-go romance throughout most of the book as the characters decide what they truly want.

This 5-Star read is part of a series. I loved Cayson’s story and I can’t wait to read the rest of the Sullivan brothers’ books. I have a feeling this family’s saga is gonna be worth checking out.

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SOD trusting love

TRUSTING LOVE by Emma Leigh Reed

Blurb: Pregnant and running from her abusive boyfriend, Chloe Wilder takes refuge in the sleepy coastal town of Arden. Police chief, Jayden Peterson, thinks the worst crime that could happen in Arden is jaywalking. Could the real danger be the two of them falling for each other?

Review: For me, one of the hardest story-lines to handle is one centered around abuse. Even though, in this book, the abusive acts all happen off stage, the notion remains at the front of my mind.

I will give the author credit. Chloe’s mentality–the fear, distrust, and isolated aspects or her character–are all typical responses to abuse and made her a very believable character. The same holds true (to an extent) for Jayden. The traumatic event in his past has him questioning his ability to protect the frightened Chloe from the dangers he feels she’s running from.

The problematic area for me was the development of their relationship. I don’t think that the time frame the story takes place in is a believable amount of time for two people that damaged to find love. It feels more like insta-love than true emotion.

I did think it was a sweet story. I think it would have been better if it was a little longer or at least covered a longer time span. As it is, I think this is a 3-Star read.

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SOD wounded

WOUNDED by Cindy Stark – Bestselling Author

Blurb: Battle-worn soldier, Jerry returns home intending to avoid his ex-fiancée. The shrapnel that wounded him pales in comparison to the gash she left in his heart. Kimber lost everything when she broke off her engagement, and she’ll fight to win him back.

Review: Every once in a while, I come across a story that not only speaks to me but feels like it was ripped from my own soul. This was one of those stories.

My husband served in the Army for the first 5 1/2 years of our marriage and he spent a year in of it in Iraq. I understand first hand the fear of loosing someone that important. It cripples you. Stark did an incredible job of capturing that in Kimber’s character. Her initial reaction is one of fear and then she learns to cope by accepting what she once rejected.

Soldiers don’t have it easy at all. Not only are they duty bound to do what needs to be done, they have to learn to live in two worlds–military and civilian. I thing Stark demonstrated that through Jerry’s character. Even though the story takes place away from his military experience, everything about his life is tempered by it. He insists on not showing weakness, not to his family, not to his friends, and not to the woman who broke his heart. He keeps part of himself separate, almost like he doesn’t fit in to his old life anymore.

The realism of the story pulled at me and sucked me under. I couldn’t get enough, despite having to wipe the tears off my face. Of course, it did more than make me cry, it also warmed my heart. I love meddlesome friends that do what they can to fix things for those they care about. It’s even funnier when its a bunch of dudes. AND I’m a sucker for the love-conquers-all theme so it is no wonder that I loved this story.

This quick, emotional, 5-Star read has me adding Cindy Stark to my watch list. I can’t wait to read more.

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SOD spanish nights

SPANISH NIGHTS by Valerie Twombly – Bestselling Author

Blurb: Armand has lost everything. His magic and his freedom are taken when an evil curse is placed on the Jinn, but a newcomer to town may be his savior. When evil emerges from the shadows, Makayla learns she must choose between her mortality and Armand’s freedom.

Review: With this book, Twombly introduces the world of the Jinn and takes the phrase ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ to a whole new level. As usual, she creates a rich world and amazing characters and gives them a story that will suck you in. Don’t expect to be able to set this 5-Star book down.

One of the things I love about this book is the way Twombly manages to balance HOT sex scenes and the emotional connection between Armand and Makayla. The way fate brings her characters together and then the ways their relationship changes their outlook is well crafted. It’s never a conscious I’m-gonna-change-for-this-person thing but a love-changes-me-whether-I-like-it-or-not.

There was also a cleaver little tidbit for anyone familiar with Twombly’s other books. Being a Disney junkie and familiar with the hidden Mickey concept, I got a big kick out of finding the caveat hidden in the pages.

I enjoyed this introduction to the world of the Jinn and can’t wait to read more.

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SOD mr right now

MR. RIGHT NOW by Kristina Knight – Bestselling Author

Blurb: Dumped by her celebrity boyfriend, unlucky-in-love author Casey Cash needs a break. But, between the male escort trying to get into her bed and the tabloid reporter intent on getting her story, Casey might have been smarter to stay in New York…

Review: I would call this 5-Star book a perfect summer read.

Funny and steamy, this fast-paced book kept me entertained but also had me guessing. I never felt that I knew where the story was going, instead my mind was always wondering what direction the story would take. Believe me, I’ve read enough romances to concoct all sorts of scenarios but I liked the way it went much better than some of my off the wall musings.

Some of the elements made me think of A Midsummer Night’s Dream- Casey’s editor Jane, playing the part of Puck, manages to make a disaster of the vacation she insists Casey take. Of course, much like the play, being trapped in the wrong situation some times leads characters on the right path. You just don’t know until the end if it all works out.

My one issue with the story was a couple of paragraphs where a secondary character’s name changed briefly. For a second I was wondering “Who the hell is John?” then I realized John was Wally from the chapter before. Other than that, I thought this was a very well written story and I will be looking into Knight’s other books in the future.

Review: Macyn’s Letter by SL Stacker

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Blurb:

A near-death experience at the hands of her husband would cause any woman to cling to her crippling trust issues and dating phobia, and Macyn McIntyre is no exception. Falling into the lap of a sexy stranger may persuade her to change her mind, but before Macyn realizes what’s happening, a second potential love interest is vying for her affections.

When a threatening letter turns up in her mailbox, Macyn realizes choosing between two guys is the least of her worries. Abduction, violence, and rescue by an elite squad change the course of her life forever. When she seeks revenge on those who hurt her, she has to decide if she can trust the ones who vow they love her.

Will Macyn be able to overcome her past and use their aid in her vendetta, or will she take matters into her own hands?

Review:

From the blurb, I expected a story about learning to trust and finding love after being betrayed with a little bit of danger and mystery thrown in. What I got was a hundred-mile-an-hour roller coaster ride. One that starts off slow, then drops you 200 feet before alternating between slow, flat track and fast corkscrews turns. If I had to classify this one, I’d have to say it falls somewhere between sweet romance and psychological thriller. I know that sounds like a crazy combo but the author makes it work.

The characters are complex and you get a great grasp of their individual personalities. (Macyn’s BFF, Eve, is probably my favorite–gotta love a girl with a smart mouth and more attitude than should be possible.) The story is well written and includes some great descriptions and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing.

The most surprising thing about this books is the dramatic changes from one scene to the next. I’ve read plenty of stories where the perspective or focus shifts between one chapter and the next but I don’t think I’ve encountered one that manipulates the mood like this one does. The mood of the story is constantly shifting; one minute it feels like a sappy love story and the next, it feels like a Liam Neeson flick. You would think that it would off-putting or that the author would lose the ability to keep up such a pace throughout the book, but I discovered not only did I like it tremendously, the author maintained the balance of romance and intrigue throughout the book and even threw in some extra towards the end.

The book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger and while the first chapter of the next book was included, I refrained (barely) from reading on. I didn’t think I could handle not being able to read the entire second book right away. I have added it to my TBR though and I look forward to reading it ASAP. This one by itself has already earned a 5 star rating, I can’t wait to see what the rest of the series brings!

SL Stacker Author Pic

Author Bio:

S.L. Stacker is a romantic suspense author and novelist with Booktrope publishing and a member of International Thriller Writers association. She has written and published three books in the Macyn McIntyre series. Her current work includes several fiction novels, but her focus is Sisters of Summit Bay—to be published in 2015. When she isn’t throwing her readers for a loop and leaving them with cliffhangers, she can be found chilling with her husband, children, and dog.

Author Links:

Website || Goodreads || Facebook || Twitter || Amazon

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Review: Voices by Clarissa Johal

Welcome to the Review Tour for 
VOICES by Clarissa Johal



“Sometimes the ghosts from your past…

are real.”

 

Book Details:

 

Title: VOICES

Genre: Paranormal Psychological Suspense
Author: Clarissa Johal
Editor: Bobbie Metevier
Published by Permuted Press May 19, 2015
ISBN: 9781618685698
ASIN: B00WAH55JW
Pages: 264

Blurb:

Sometimes the ghosts from your past…are real.   

Moira Flynn is arrested for attacking a door-to-door solicitor with a knife. She claims a voice told her the man was intent on assaulting her. The trouble is, she was the only one that heard that voice. Moira strikes a plea bargain and is sent to a psychiatric hospital for voluntary treatment. Dr. Richard Cassano is hesitant to treat her as schizophrenic, as she does not show the standard symptoms. As their sessions progress, Moira confesses there are two voices—and they aren’t voices in her head, but the voices of ghosts. Are they imaginary? Or are they actual spirits, attached to her for reasons of their own? As Moira’s doctor uncovers more of her past, he begins to realize that her ghosts are real. And one of them is determined to drag Moira into the afterlife with him.

Review:

Wow. That one word pretty much sums up my reaction to this book. Johal managed to suck me in from the first page and I did not want to put it down. I absolutely loved the concept–a woman sentenced to time in a psych ward for a crime committed by the ghost that haunts her, a doctor forced to rethink what he knows, people that may not be as crazy as they appear… pure genius.

The story was extremely well written. The plot was well developed; the intrigue and suspense kept me riveted. Reading the blurb, I knew that one of the ghosts had sinister intentions but I kept guessing which one truly wished her harm and wondered when one would make the move to take her out. I couldn’t force myself to put the book down (in fact, I kinda whined a little when my phone died on me and I had to wait for it to charge). Another factor I found addicting was the way the author kept hinting at the possibility of a romantic relationship. One moment I’d think there was something between Moira and Richard and then a few pages later, there was an interaction with Adam that made me wonder what could happen between them. I kept wavering about which character I wanted her end up with–the sympathetic doctor or the patient that claims to see her ghosts. Both men want to protect her and they are willing to do whatever it takes.

I fell in love with the characters. Moira isn’t crazy although the tragedies of her past could easily drive anyone to the breaking point. The ghosts that haunt her have very distinctive personalities and they have different reasons for hanging around poor Moria. Isabella is a six-year-old child and exists as a perpetual annoyance (any parent out there would understand that phase–now imagine living with that for more than a decade). Jack is possessive and territorial; constantly trying to keep Moira isolated from any male attention (yeah, the girl is lucky she hasn’t gone insane). But Moira is strong but resigned to do whatever it takes to make it through her involuntary commitment, even if it means taking medication for an illness she doesn’t have. Dr. Cassano is compassionate and dedicated to helping people, unlike his colleagues who just medicated their patients into complacency. His back story explains why he is compelled to believe that Moira isn’t crazy. I admire the way he doesn’t buckle under pressure–he does what is right for his patient instead of following the general consensus. Adam is my favorite though. Like Moira, he isn’t crazy. Unfortunately, those around him don’t believe it. He comes off a bit jaded and he harbors a lot of anger towards his brother who keeps having him committed. But he is charming and sarcastic (a sexy combination in my opinion)–a completely lovable rogue.

Even though this is a paranormal, it has a very realistic feel, particularly in the characterizations: The apathy displayed by many of the doctors and staff of the hospital. The presence of the good-hearted individuals who still believe they can make a difference. The resiliency of those stuck in crappy situations. The power of family and their ability to either lift you up or drag you down. All of these elements make the story very believable–whether you believe in ghosts or not.

I give this one a perfect 10/5 star rating AND I will be adding this author to my favorites list. This is the second book I’ve read by Johal and both books have impressed me. I’m off to check out her other books and make sure I’m kept in the loop on upcoming releases. I can’t wait to see what she come up with next.

VOICES Purchase Links:
Amazon: Voices
Barnes and Noble: Voices
KOBO: Voices
Smashwords: Voices
About the Author:

Clarissa Johal has worked as a veterinary assistant, zoo-keeper aide and vegetarian chef. Writing has always been her passion. When she’s not listening to the ghosts in her head, she’s dancing or taking photographs of gargoyles. She shares her life with her husband, two daughters and every stray animal that darkens the doorstep. One day, she expects that a wayward troll will wander into her  yard, but that hasn’t happened yet.

*Member of the Author’s Guild
*Member of the Horror Writers Association
VOICES
(May 2015) Permuted Press
STRUCK

(January 2014) Musa Publishing 

(March 2015) Clarissa Johal

*Second place in the Preditors and Editors
Readers Poll 2014
*Winner of the Indie Book of the Day Award

BETWEEN

(December 2012) Musa Publishing 

(March 2015) Clarissa Johal

*Second place in the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll 2012

PRADEE

(2010) Clarissa Johal

*Second round finalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award Contest 2012

Short stories: 

 

PIGEONS

THE ROPE

Susurrus Literary JournalNon-Fiction:

 

A WAY OF LIFE

The Sacramento Bee Newspaper

Find Clarissa Online:

 

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Review: Bai Tide by Erika Mitchell

Bai Tide cover - small

Blurb:

Coming April 7, 2015 from Champagne Books!

After the events of Blood Money, CIA case officer Bai Hsu is assigned to a high-security private school for what he’s told is an easy assignment. Just a few months after he arrives, a hostile operative with ties to North Korea tries to break in to a school event, with motives unknown.

As his investigation progresses, he unravels a plot that, if not stopped, will result in the untimely and murderous deaths of tens of millions of people. In order to stop the attack, Bai must recruit the one person he absolutely cannot trust in order to break into one of the most isolated, dangerous countries in the world.

Bai Tide is Bai’s greatest challenge yet. A mission that will take him from the windswept beaches of San Diego to a whiteout blizzard in the foothills of Pyongyang, and make him question everything he thought he knew about working in the field…and about himself.

Praise for Bai Tide:

“BAI TIDE is a classic spy tale with blisteringly original characters set against the up-tempo backdrop of North Korean-American relations. Erika Mitchell turns the Asian theater of operations into her personal literary playground for fashioning a no-holds-barred thriller that reads like a post-modern combination of Frederick Forsyth and John Le Carre with just enough Len Deighton sprinkled in for good measure. A thinking man’s, or woman’s, page turner that revs in the red from artful beginning to crafty climax.”

–Jon Land, USA Today bestselling author of Strong Darkness

“Bai Tide starts with a bang, then escalates. An intriguing espionage thriller with a protagonist who’s a cross between Bruce Lee and James Bond, it was pure entertainment from the beaches of San Diego to the snow covered North Korea countryside. Devoured it in a sitting. I’m looking forward to more sleepless nights from Erika Mitchell.”

–Robert Dugoni, NY Times and #1 Amazon Bestselling Author of My Sister’s Grave

“High octane action combined with the slow burn of great, unforgettable characters. The kind of book that demands to be read in a single long burst. Almost impossible to put down. This one will be on your mind long after you’ve finished it.”

–Ted Kosmatka, 2010 Asimov’s Readers’ Choice Award-winning author ofProphet of Bones.

Review:

Now, my expertise in espionage genre is limited. While I love the James Bond movies (especially the ones with Daniel Craig) and TV shows like Burn Notice and Chuck, I’ve never really read any books from this particular genre. After reading this one, I think that is going to change.

Now, I don’t want you to get the wrong impression. Bai Hsu or Alan Broccoli as he is called through most of the book (gotta love spy covers) isn’t some bad ass like Michael Weston or a ladies man like Bond (although he has his moments in both respects) but he is a highly trained, intelligent although relatively green operative. He hasn’t had the time or experience to make him as cold or as hardened as the depiction of most spies. He still has his humanity of course, sometimes that can be more of a liability than a virtue.

Bai Tide is pretty much non stop action although that statement may be a little misleading. I’m not talking all hand to hand combat, shootouts, and exciting chases… there is plenty of that but there is also a good depiction of the other part of the espionage game. The undercover work. As a phys ed teacher and volley ball coach at an all girls school, he is charged with keeping his eyes open and keeping his charges safe. The day to day task turns into a fact finding mission when he foils a break in attempt at a school function. It seems that someone may be targeting the children of a protected informant and there is also the possibility that someone within the school may be trying to sell a nuclear formula to the highest bidder.

In many ways, it resonated with me much like the most recent 007 movies- Like Casino Royale, it gives the story of how experience shaped the spy. The assignment that Bai is given isn’t his first, but it does have a tremendous impact on how he views his job and life. And if you have watched Casino Royale as many times as I have, you might catch a line in there that sounds similar to one delivered by Vesper. The other thing that made me think of this particular movie was the character of Agnes Schelling- for some reason, I pictured the headmistress to be much like Judi Dench’s version of M, the only thing missing was her making a threat on the agent’s life.

For me, this seemed much more realistic than other spy stuff I’ve seen. It wasn’t as flashy but it was extremely intriguing and entertaining. I can’t help but give this one a 10. The story was very well written- the characters were realistically crafted and the story flowed well. The variation in the settings was wonderfully done as well. I could easily picture everything from the sandy beach in San Diego to the snow covered forest in North Korea. I loved watching how things developed.throughout the story, the various twists and turns that took place and how they affected the characters. I think that Mitchell did a superb job in crafting a believable spy thriller and I look forward to reading more from her in the future.

Review: Between by Clarissa Johal

Blurb:

As a young girl, Lucinda was able to see spirits, a gift that didn’t come without its problems. Now, a dedicated young veterinarian, she is committed to the idea that every life can be saved.

After a devastating accident, Lucinda tries to escape her past by moving to a small town. There, she meets a newcomer and feels an immediate connection with him. But there is another mysterious stranger to the small town, one that stirs within her a mixture of unease and desire.

As Lucinda is drawn into a bitter tug-a-war from the forces around her, she is likewise pulled into a dangerous twist of past and present events. Forced to make difficult choices, she finds that the two men are locked in not only a battle for her life…but a battle for their salvation.

Review:

So, I walked into this one completely blind. I didn’t read the description or anything before I dove in. I don’t regret it in the slightest. Sometimes it is nice to let a story take you on an unexpected journey. This novel did just that. Once I started the first page, I was completely sucked in. This one gripped me and did not let go. Six hours later, I was reeling. I will be suffering from a massive book hangover for the rest of the day. And again, I REGRET NOTHING.

This book was brilliant. There is no other word for it. The supernatural elements were wonderfully crafted. The way the characters were connected with each other made for a powerful, moving story. Fate, destiny, the past, redemption, atonement, the afterlife… all of these topics are fascinating and I really enjoyed the way Johal handled these. She crafted a very unique story, one I don’t think I will ever forget.

I loved everything about this book. The dynamic between the characters, the way their passions fueled their lives, the secrets that kept Lucinda holding back… everything was well written and the details enhanced the story. Then there were the subtle images that drove the story- the way Lucinda’s dog reacted to the men who came into her life, the way the author used smells and associated characters and events with different scents, even the way certain colors and patterns were used. All of the imagery raised questions, some were answered while others still have me wondering. If I were still in college, I could easily use this book as the basis for a paper, of course it would take me a semester to figure out what direction I’d want to take.

And as far as the plot goes, I have to give the author serious credit. There was never a point in the story where I knew the outcome. She kept me guessing and even second guessing myself every time I settled on an outcome I wished to see. It is rare that I find something that can toy with my emotions and make me like it but this one did just that. Just when I knew who to cheer for and who to hate, something would happen that would make me question everything I thought I knew. The intrigue kept the story fresh and interesting.

I can honestly say that this one completely blew me away. I stop my scale at 10 but this book deserves a much higher score. I will definitely be checking into this author’s other works and I hope to hear more about Lucas and Cronan in the future.

Tour Stop and Review: The Charm by Jojo Debrazza

Welcome to the Virtual Book Tour for The Charm by Jojo Debrazza.Make sure to follow the tour where you can read exclusive excerpts, guest posts, and interviews.

There is even a Giveaway at the end of the post for a $5.00 gift certificate for any book on Musa Publishing’s website.

About The Charm:

Extraordinary powers come with a price.

Fifteen year old Luca has the charm, a gift he inherited from his mum. Charmers can control minds, but they abide by a code—to only use the power for good, and only with the person’s permission. Luca knows breaking the code is wrong, and his mum would kill him if he tried!

But when a rogue charmer uses the power for criminal means, the Restorative government jumps in. Luca’s mum is imprisoned and the Register for Charmers is announced. The media creates a frenzy of fear and suspicion against charmers.

Believing the family is in peril, and wishing to keep Luca’s gift a secret, Luca’s dad takes them to stay with a friend in the country. Here, Luca meets Fee, a computer genius who can hack into anything. Fee introduces Luca to an underground rebellion group of internet hackers who have their own issues with the Restoratives and their own way of protesting.

Fearful of how the Restoratives are treating his mum in prison and concerned about their motives for creating the Register of Charmers, Luca must make an impossible choice—break the rules and use his gift or stand by and watch as the power is abused.

Bookaholic’s Review:

 The Charm is brilliantly written. It is fast paced and full of conflict- both internal and external. I’m not real familiar with Dystopic fiction But I would have to say that the world these characters live in is fast becoming such a society. The government is exerting an unfair amount of control and they are trying to build a power base on fear and manipulation. I enjoyed the conflicting perspectives on the overreaches of government. As is often the trend with this type of story, it is up to the younger people to make a move against tyranny but making that move may involve sacrifices that the characters may not understand.

I found the story compelling. The characters were likable and the factors that drive them felt genuine- protective urges towards family and friends, a sense of justice, survival- all of these motivators made for a very intriguing tale. After I reached the end, I found myself wanting more. Of course this one rates a 10. I hope the author continues the story because I would love to see what happens next.

Book Details:

Title: The Charm

Author: Jojo Debrazza

Genre: Young Adult, YA Dystopian, Urban Fantasy

Hashtags: #TheCharm

Publisher: Musa Publishing, LLC http://www.musapublishing.com/

ISBN-13: 978-1-68009-066-6

Number of Pages:  Approx. 70Purchase Your Copy:

Musa Publishing, LLC: Musa Publishing Website ~ The Charm by Jojo DebrazzaAmazon: The Charm

About the Author:

Jojo Debrazza is a writer of young adult and children’s fiction. The Charm is her debut YA novella.

Jojo has a vivid imagination and likes to make up stories. Her friends call it lying but she calls it writing. She lives mainly in a dream world with her partner and a house full of small furry animals. It’s a carefree happy place where everything is bright and fluffy.
Jojo’s other passion is football (soccer). As well as playing and helping to run a club, she works as a football development officer in Cambridgeshire, England.
Find Jojo on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/jojodebrazza
Enter the Giveaway:
Tour Coordinated by:

~ Amber M. ~

Promotions Specialist and Media Contact at Musa Publishing amber.musa.ps@gmail.com

Owner of Sapphyria’s Book Promotions saphsbookblog@gmail.com

Review: Disenchanted by Leigh Goff

Blurb:

A forbidden love, a dark curse, an impossible choice.

Orphaned sixteen-year-old Sophie Goodchild is an outcast among the ordinaries and her coven, but not because she’s untalented. Descended from a powerful Wethersfield witch, her spellcasting gift is awkwardly emerging, but that’s the least of her worries. The boy she’s forbidden to fall for, a descendant of the man who condemned her ancestor to hang, carries a dark secret that could destroy them both unless Sophie learns how to tap into the mysterious power of her diamond bloodcharm. Suspenseful, dark, romantic, and brimming with old magic, Disenchanted captures the intrigue of New England’s witchlore.

Review:

This one follows in the tradition of Romeo and Juliet. Two young people on the opposite sides of a massive feud, struggling with a love that could destroy them.

For anyone who knows of my obsession with Shakespeare, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that I really enjoyed this book. Now, I don’t want anyone mistaking my meaning here. While this story does have some of the elements present in Romeo and Juliet, it is also vastly different. Much like many of the books and movies that have rehashed some of the Bard’s tales (Lion King, Ten Things I Hate About You, etc.), it takes the basic outline and creates a wonderful, new story.

I found the story to be well written. It was filled with rich descriptions that enhanced the magical portion of the story’s world. I found some of the supernatural elements of the story to be crafted slightly different than some of the others I’ve read. This gave it a refreshing point of view that I appreciate- it helps keep the genre from getting too cliche.

I loved the way Goff used the idea of the star-crossed lovers, the pair that succumbed to their families’ hatred, as a cautionary tale for those that came after and enhanced it with a tale of powerful magic and intense hatred. For a young girl to navigate her way through a world with so many obstacles and try to overcome insurmountable odds… truly amazing.

In a way it is typical coming of age story. Sophie is reaching the point in her life where things are going to start changing and those changes are going to shape who she becomes but her journey is a little different than that of a normal girl- which is to be expected since she is a witch. She starts off with only the most basic knowledge and though she longs to know more, the answers aren’t easily found. With a little help from the spirit world she learns more and more about her world, her past, and events that threaten her future. Enemies are present at every turn and she struggles to make the right decision before it’s too late.

This was a very creative and enthralling book which is why I am giving this one a perfect 10. I really loved this one and I can’t wait to read more from this author.