Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Acts of Contrition - Review

Review by Deb Czajkowski

For the past ten years, Mary Morrissey has been living a lie.  If she were truly honest with herself, the previous ten years had been a lie as well. To be fair, over the course of the first decade she was only lying to herself. For the second decade, she has been lying to her husband.  Lying by omission, lying because she is afraid her secret will destroy her perfect life, shattering the life of her dreams.

Mary was nineteen when she first met the charismatic Landon James, a young attorney with great political aspirations and an admitted personal commitment phobia. Still, he quickly became Mary’s addiction, rendering her incapable of resisting his charms and the intermittent presence in her life, holding Mary hostage for ten years−and beyond.

Then, when Mary was twenty-nine, she met Tom who, after only three months of dating, asked Mary to marry him. And so began the life of her dreams: a loving husband who is committed to her, followed by the births of two daughters and twin sons. Finally, a happily-ever-after for Mary? Not exactly.

Mary has a secret, one that has tormented her for the past ten years, one huge enough to blow her happy world apart. During each of Landon James’ political campaigns, Mary has held her breath, waiting, watching, wondering.  Just as Mary finally thinks she’s home free, that her secret will remain hidden, the damning truth is suddenly brought to light. And the fall-out is every bit as devastating as Mary feared.

To err may be human and to forgive may be divine, but does that apply to a ten year cover-up of betrayal and heart-break?  Is forgiveness possible when the hurt is so personal, so deep?  Will this far-reaching revelation destroy forever Mary’s family, her dream? Can addiction be conquered or will that hold remain eternally to taunt and tempt?

Are you obsessed with washing your hands? (Maybe a little.) Are your cupboards stocked with a six-month supply of food? (I’ll admit to three months.) Do you frequently have to feed your need to read? (Definitely!)  Addictions? Maybe. But generally speaking, most people would probably consider such behaviors to be pretty harmless.

Serious addiction is certainly front and center in author Jennifer Handford’s book, Acts of Contrition, primarily the extensive effects of Mary’s addiction to Landon.  Alcoholism, the Morrissey curse, is also given weight. Unless you have personally seen the costs of addiction, it’s often hard to comprehend its reality. In Acts of Contrition, Jennifer Handford honestly and convincingly illustrates that fierce and sometimes brutal pull.  But she also beautifully couches her story with abiding faith, family love and loyalty, and unfathomable forgiveness.

While Acts of Contrition is not a light-hearted story, actually painful at times in its realism and rawness, I highly recommend this incredibly well written book.  If you cannot relate to Jennifer Handford’s characters and their issues, then you can count your blessings.  And that alone is worth this read.

Purchase the book at:

About the Author:
Jennifer Handford is the author of Daughters for a Time, an acclaimed novel that has sold more than 100,000 copies. People Magazine hailed it, "A wrenching, resonant debut about infertility, cancer and adoption. Grab your hankies." In 2010, Jennifer was one of three first-place finalists in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. Jennifer is currently teaching writing at American University. Her second novel, Acts of Contrition, was published in April 2014.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Binds That Tie - Review & Giveaway

Review by Marlene Engel

On the outside, Maggie and Chris seem to be the perfect couple, but behind the facade is a marriage laced with loss, lies and infidelity.  During a night out with her friends, Maggie interacts in what seems like harmless flirting.  But what started as innocent has turned into an obsession when her fling shows up drunk and disorderly at her door.  What Maggie does next will alter her life and marriage forever.

With a criminal record and time served in prison, Chris can’t afford to get in trouble.  When Maggie commits a crime, he decides to take the blame for it.  But is he willing to go back to prison, for a crime that he didn’t commit, just to protect his wife?

From the beginning of the book, the author takes you on a dark journey full of deceit and betrayal.  Just when you think you have it figured out, there is another twist waiting on the next page!  This story will have you shaking your head in disbelief and not quite knowing who to root for.  A true nail-biter from the beginning to the end, Kate Moretti takes you on an emotional rollercoaster.  It was impossible to put this book down, and you will not believe how it ends!

About the Author:
Kate Moretti is the New York Times Bestselling author of the women’s fiction novel, Thought I Knew You. Her second novel Binds That Tie was released in March 2014. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids, and a dog. She’s worked in the pharmaceutical industry for ten years as a scientist, and has been an avid fiction reader her entire life.

She enjoys traveling and cooking, although with two kids, a day job, and writing, she doesn’t get to do those things as much as she’d like.

Her lifelong dream is to buy an old house with a secret passageway.

Connect with the author at:


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Winner’s choice of print or e-copy of Binds That Tie.  International winners are limited to an e-copy

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Friday, August 22, 2014

The Street or Me - Review & Giveaway


Review by Marlene Engel

Everyone has an opinion when they see a homeless person sleeping on the streets or panhandling for money, but not everyone takes the time to learn their story.  Judith had always avoided these people.  A New York transplant, she wasn’t accustomed to associating with people who weren’t like her.  But when she witnesses a scene between a homeless woman and two security guards outside the Hearst building, there’s something about the woman that captures Judith’s attention.  She’s not sure if it’s the interesting accent that she has or the pretty features she senses is beneath the filth and grime that covers her. 

Over the next couple years, Judith befriends and learns a lot about this homeless woman, Michelle.  Previously a beauty queen in Italy, Michelle made her way to the states when an American photographer convinced her that fame and fortune awaited her.  The harsh reality hit when her love of drugs and alcohol stripped away any chance of living the “American Dream” and instead landed her on the streets.  For almost a decade she lived like this until Judith learned of her deteriorating health and set out on a mission to get her back to her family in Italy.  Her family was unaware of the lifestyle that Michelle was living in New York and she was too embarrassed to allow them to see the broken, fragile, sick woman she had become.  Judith knew that Michelle would die on the streets of New York if she didn’t intervene, but the biggest obstacle she had to face was Michelle’s addiction.  Her love of drinking had brought her to this dark place.  A place where she had no home and where her body was quickly starting to rebel.  Judith was willing to do all she could to help this woman, but was Michelle willing to accept it?

The Street or Me is a raw, uncensored view of the homeless population in New York, the stereotypes that come along with it, and the struggles that they face.  Judith Glynn is not only the author, she is the person who put aside her life and safety to help a perfect stranger.  Her devotion, love and support for a fellow human being is not only inspirational, but renews my faith in the human race.  This book will bring you through so many emotions, but will leave you with a sense of pride that there are such selfless people in this world such as Judith. 

I could not put this book down.  I was captivated by not only the story, but the people who lived these lives.  This is an absolute must read!  Such a powerful story of life, loss, family and friendship!  If you read only one book this year, this is the one!

Purchase the book at:
Amazon * Nook * Kobo

About the Author:
Judith Glynn never intended to become a dedicated writer when she chose a nighttime creative-writing class over belly dancing. She simply wanted a distraction from her disintegrating marriage. Her first assignment – Confidence. That’s all You Need in Life – received a D. But her passion for the craft ignited her soul and innate talent, enough to take her on a successful writing journey for three decades and counting.

Her travel-writing specialty surfaced after a trip to Ireland and subsequent publication inThe Washington Post. That and numerous articles led to a five-year, monthly shopping column in The Chicago Sun Times and other newspapers. Spain eventually became a focus and where her discerning writer’s eye captured the local flavor. However, after hours logged in flight and new destinations produced only a nonchalant shrug, she closed her notebook to build a successful entrepreneurial career in New York City. But she still wrote because life wasn’t complete without writing a story – if only for herself.

When her need to write travel surfaced again, she hit the road to write for the Web. She also knew the time had arrived to tackle a novel. A Collector of Affections: Tales from Woman’s Heart entwines fiction with travelers’ secrets.

Her second book The Street or Me: A New York Story is a raw, riveting read about her encounter with a homeless woman in New York and their journey that returned the woman to her family in Italy.

Connect with the author at:


Judith is generously giving 2 lucky winners signed copies of both of her books:  
The Street or Me: A New York Story
A Collector of Affections: Tales from a Woman's Heart

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bring on the Heat - Excerpt & Giveaway


Bring On the Heat
The Boys of Summer # 1
By: Katie Rose
Releasing August 26th, 2014
Loveswept


Blurb
In Katie Rose’s irresistible battle of wits, a case of mistaken identity lands a female fan in bed with a sexy superstar—and in major-league trouble.

House-sitting for a rich and famous friend has its perks, and Darcy Hamel isn’t shy about enjoying them. Especially when it means scoring a ticket to an exclusive fashion show hosted by the New Jersey Sonics. An avid baseball fan, Darcy has always dreamed of meeting the team—especially the starting pitcher whose body is as hot as his fastball. But there’s a catch. The gala is by invitation only. To get behind the velvet rope, mild-mannered Darcy will have to pose as party girl Lydia Logan.

Schmoozing is one of the downsides of fame, but Chase Westbrook knows how to liven up even the dullest event. And nothing spices a night up more than a beautiful socialite with a naughty reputation. What Chase doesn’t expect is a hint of sweetness beneath her sultry fa├žade. Flirtation turns to seduction and leaves him aching for more. Chase just doesn’t know who the real Lydia is: the spoiled tease crying foul over some missing diamonds or the alluring woman making a play for his heart.

Purchase book at:
Amazon * B&N * iTunes


EXCERPT:

Descending the steps, Darcy made her way to the enormous kitchen. There was a French press on the granite counter and coffee in the custom-designed cupboard. She filled the kettle and put it on the stove to boil. The coffee, specially selected just for Lydia from a local shop, smelled heavenly as Darcy scooped three heaping spoons into the pot and then filled it with the hot water. While the brew steeped, she fished through her purse for the little tin of aspirin she kept just for emergencies like this.
Thankfully, she didn’t have to remind Lydia of the time again. The young socialite descended a few minutes later and gratefully accepted the steaming cup and the pills Darcy handed her.
“Thank God you came early.”
“I thought I might be needed,” Darcy said with a grin. “I also called James before leaving my house. I assume you don’t want to leave the Porsche at the airport?”
“Hell no!” Lydia cringed as she scalded her tongue on the coffee, downing the aspirin in one gulp. “I just had the damned thing detailed.” Glancing impatiently at her watch, she nodded when she heard a car arrive. “Right on time. I mean it, Darce. You are a godsend.”
“Where are you headed?”
“Dubai.” Lydia shrugged, her mouth curving into something resembling a smile now that the coffee was beginning to take effect. “I met a Saudi prince last year at the Driscolls’ party in Paris. Let me tell you, the guy was hot. He offered to take me out on his yacht. I thought it might be fun.”
“I bet.” Darcy couldn’t even imagine. “How long will you be gone?”
“Don’t know.” Lydia indicated the mail lying on the kitchen counter. “Can you make sure the bills get paid? Just use my credit card like last time. Also, if my granddad calls, don’t tell him where I am. The old man gave me hell last week and threatened to cut me off if I don’t start behaving. Can you imagine?”
“No,” she had to laugh.
“I try to stay the hell away from the press so he doesn’t hear a lot of gossip. My grandfather seems to think because he had to bust his hump selling potato chips to make the family fortune, everyone else should too. I mean, why? If I’m an heiress to a fortune, what does he expect me to do? Wait on tables, for God’s sake?”
“Maybe he’s just worried about you. Didn’t he have to bail you out when your last boyfriend tried to smuggle pot out of Thailand in your bag?”
“Big deal.” Lydia waved her hand in dismissal. “It took all of a phone call from him and we were free. That and a little money. Cash is, after all, the international language everyone understands.” She batted her eyes as Darcy laughed.
The horn beeped and Lydia refilled her cup and then grabbed her bag. “Gotta go.” She started for the door as the horn sounded again. “I’m coming! Oh, I meant to tell you.” She glanced up as one slender hip shoved the door open. “There should be an invite to a charity thing somewhere in that mess. You know, for that baseball team you’re always talking about?”
“The Sonics?” Darcy gave Lydia her full attention.
“Yes. You’re welcome to go if you want. It’s some black-tie event. It’s pretty exclusive.”
“What does that mean?”
“You have to have an invite to get in. I think they sent this one because my grandfather donates to their charity.”
“But I can’t go to that!” Darcy was astonished. “The invitation was meant for you!”
“Don’t worry—I get these things all the time and never go.” She waved her hand breezily. “They will never know the difference.”
“But . . .” Darcy stammered. “I don’t have anything to wear . . .”
Her employer’s eyes flickered impatiently over her. “Borrow something of mine, for God’s sake. Just get it cleaned when you’re done.”
Then she gave her a second glance, amusement now twinkling in her gaze. “You might also want to check into the salon and let them do something with that hair.”
Self-consciously, Darcy fingered her dirty-blond, shoulder-length tresses.
“I think I have an appointment set up in a couple of days, right?” Lydia continued. “You go instead.”
She handed the bag to her driver, and then turned back to the house sitter with a grin. “’Bye!” Hefting her coffee cup, she climbed into the BMW that was waiting at the curb and the car sped off.
Darcy felt like a cyclone had just left town. Breathing a sigh of relief, she poured a cup of coffee for herself and began sorting the mail. Bills she put into one pile, magazines in another, the cards and invitations into a third, until . . .
She stopped when she saw the elegant embossed envelope.
It was from the Wives of the New Jersey Sonics. Trembling with excitement, Darcy ripped open the creamy linen paper. Sure enough, it was an invitation to an exclusive cocktail party and fashion show.
“Our annual event will benefit the children who go to Camden Elementary School. This year we will provide state-of-the-art computer equipment, tablets, and Internet access. The event will feature jewelry exclusively designed by Sasha Primak, and the opportunity to meet the Sonics . . .”
It was the last part that froze her into place. She could actually meet the team? Not just watch them from the stands as she did every chance she got, not just cheer them on in her humble living room when they won or cry with them when they lost, but actually see them, speak to them, maybe even shake their hands live and in person?

About the Author:
Award-winning historical author Katie Rose makes her contemporary debut with the Boys of Summer novels, Bring on the Heat and Too Hot to Handle, which combine Katie’s true loves: baseball and romance! When not watching baseball, Katie is at her lake house in New Jersey, hard at work on her next book.

Connect with the author at:


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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Other Side of the Bridge - Review

Review by Darcey K Pickett

Ava, who has recently lost everything, receives a surprise inheritance from her Grandmother Sophia.  This surprise comes at a good time and Ava leaves her home in England and heads to her grandmother’s home in rural Greece.  Ava has no idea what she will find once she arrives, but as she comes into the rural area she is faced with the small farmhouse her grandmother has left her.  The town has an older community and where she is mistaken for her grandmother.  Ava does not know too much of her grandmother’s time there in Greece, so she begins to do some digging.

This is a story with an old world charm, I felt the story between Ava and Sophia was so seamless.  I found myself feeling the magic of the two generations in the telling of this story.  Ms. Swartz has done a wonderful job merging present day to World War II era.

I highly recommend this historical romance; you will not be sorry traveling down these paths.

About the Author:
After spending three years as a diehard New Yorker, Katharine Swartz now lives in the Lake District in England with her husband, their five children, and a Golden Retriever. She enjoys such novel things as long country walks and chatting with people in the street, and her children love the freedom of village life—although she often has to ring four or five people to figure out where they’ve gone off to.
                 
She writes women’s fiction as well as contemporary romance under the name Kate Hewitt, and whatever the genre she enjoys delivering a compelling and intensely emotional story.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Guilt Trip Giveaway from Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella

Mother-daughter author team Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella have a new essay collection just out called HAVE A NICE GUILT TRIP. Lucky for you I have a copy of this book--plus their FOUR previous books--to give away to one lucky winner. Yes, the winner gets all 5 books! Included are: 

1.    Have a Nice Guilt Trip
2.    Best Friends, Occasional Enemies
3.    Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim
4.    My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space
5.    Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog

Comment below with what frivolous purchase you would make if you won a million bucks. Would you go on a shopping spree?  Buy the car of your dreams?  (Mine would be to buy a house in Boca Raton, Florida.)  I'll pick one winner at random on August 22. You can also enter to win an awesome "Guilt Trip Giveaway" prize pack worth more than $1,000! Visit Lisa's website for full details and the entry form: http://scottoline.com/Offers/index.html

About the Authors:
Lisa Scottoline is the New York Timesbestselling author and Edgar award-winning author of 22 novels, including her latest, KEEP QUIET. She also writes a weekly column with her daughter Francesca Serritella for the Philadelphia Inquirer titled "Chick Wit" which is a witty and fun take on life from a woman's perspective. These stories, along with many other never-before-published stories, have been collected in four books including their most recent, Have a Nice Guilt Trip, and the earlier, Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim, Best Friends, Occasional Enemies, Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog, which has been optioned for TV, and My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space. Lisa reviews popular fiction and non-fiction, and her reviews have appeared in New York Times, The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Lisa has served as President of Mystery Writers of America and has taught a course she developed, "Justice and Fiction" at The University of Pennsylvania Law School, her alma mater. Lisa is a regular and much sought after speaker at library and corporate events. Lisa has over 30 million copies of her books in print and is published in over 35 countries. She lives in the Philadelphia area with an array of disobedient pets, and she wouldn't have it any other way.

Francesca Serritella was born in Philadelphia, and grew up in its suburbs. She went to Harvard, where she majored in English. After a year or two of feeling entirely intimidated by the place, she found her stride and went on to receive the Charles Edmond Horman Prize and the Baron Russell Briggs Prize for creative writing. Her senior thesis, a novella, won the Thomas Temple Hoopes Prize, and she graduated with honors.

Her mother is Lisa Scottoline. She's a bestselling author, her best friend, and her hero. Together, they write a weekly humor column in The Philadelphia Inquirer called "Chick Wit." She contribute once a month to offer a younger perspective on their wacky family and life in general, and if you aren't an Inquirer subscriber, you can find a selection of her columns here. The column has been published as a series of collections of essays. The first and the second, Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog, and My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space, have some of her essays but not her name on it. The third, fourth, and fifth, Best Friends, Occasional Enemies, Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim and Have a Nice Guilt Trip, have her name on the cover!

Currently, she live in New York City with her dog, Pip. When she’s not writing, she’s probably taking cell phone pictures of Pip and marveling at how cute he is, so if you want to see those, he has his very own page here.

Connect with the authors at:

Friday, August 15, 2014

Dylan's Redeption - Tour & Giveaway


Dylan’s Redemption
The McBrides Book Three
By: Jennifer Ryan
Releasing August 12th, 2014
Avon Romance

Blurb

There's a new sheriff in Fallbrook … Meet Dylan McBride.

Jessie Thompson had one hell of a week. Dylan McBride, the boy she loved, skipped town without a word. Then her drunk of a father tried to kill her, and she fled Fallbrook, vowing never to return. Eight years later, her father is dead, and Jessie reluctantly goes home—only to come face-to-face with the man who shattered her heart. A man who, for nearly a decade, believed she was dead.

Dylan accepted the position as sheriff of Fallbrook looking for a fresh start and a chance to uncover the truth about Jessie's disappearance. He knew he'd have to face a few ghosts … he just never thought one would be Jessie, all grown up, stunning … and alive. The pull between them is instant, but Dylan's heart has already mourned Jessie, and she has secrets she can never share. Can they escape the darkness of their past for a chance at a bright future together?

Purchase the book at:

About the Author:
JENNIFER RYAN, author of The Hunted Series, writes romantic suspense and contemporary small-town romances. 

Jennifer lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and three children. When she isn’t writing a book, she’s reading one. Her obsession with both is often revealed in the state of her home, and how late dinner is to the table. When she finally leaves those fictional worlds, you’ll find her in the garden, playing in the dirt and daydreaming about people who live only in her head, until she puts them on paper.

Please visit her website at www.jennifer-ryan.com for information about upcoming releases.

Connect with the author at:

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Print Set of the McBrides Series Books One and Two (US/Canada)


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