Sunday, November 30, 2014

1,000 reviews and counting! Plus, What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey (review)

I was a little busy when the time came for my little blog to have 100,000 hits, and missed celebrating it, although I did a little dance of joy when I realized that I had passed that milestone!  It never occurred to me that anyone would actually look at my blog when I first started and it has been a remarkable learning experience.  The funny thing is, I only started because the site I was doing my reviews for had a link to this thing called Google, and Blogger was one of the features...and I was curious.  I have learned a lot (and been frustrated a lot of times, lol) and I have had the glorious opportunity to meet other bibliophiles and even to have my reviews quoted!  But, imagine my shock when I realized that in just over 5 years, I have read and reviewed more than 1,000 reviews (link).  I am exceedingly grateful to Night Owl Reviews for giving me the opportunity and I am in awe at the number of titles that they handle at any one time, with more pouring in all of the time.  I thank all of you who take the time to read my opinion of what I read...and it is indeed my opinion.  I try hard to be fair, not insulting to an author's hard work, and not to reveal any spoilers and I hope I provide some small service to help readers choose their next story to read!  (and don't forget to enter Night Owl's Winter Booklover's Contest at this link -- I will get an extra entry if you click on the link!)




After film critic Gene Siskel asked her, "What do you know for sure?" Oprah Winfrey began writing the "What I Know For Sure" column in O, The Oprah Magazine. Saying that the question offered her a way to take "stock of her life," Oprah has penned one column a month over the last fourteen years, years in which she retired The Oprah Winfrey Show (the highest-rated program of its kind in history), launched her own television network, became America’s only black billionaire, was awarded an honorary degree from Harvard University and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, watched friends and colleagues come and go, lost beloved pets and adopted new ones, and celebrated milestone birthdays. Throughout it all, she’s continued to offer her profound and inspiring words of wisdom in her "What I Know For Sure" column in O, The Oprah Magazine.
Now, for the first time, these thoughtful gems have been revised, updated, and collected in What I Know For Sure, a beautiful audiobook packed with insight and revelation from Oprah Winfrey. Organized by theme—joy, resilience, connection, gratitude, possibility, awe, clarity, and power—these essays offer a rare and powerful glimpse into the mind of one of the world’s most extraordinary women. Candid, moving, exhilarating, uplifting, and dynamic, the words Oprah shares in What I Know For Sure shimmer with the sort of wisdom and truth that listeners will turn to again and again.

Review (of the audiobook version):

What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey is a four CD set of selections from the column that Ms. Winfrey has published in her eponymous magazine. She muses on a multitude of subjects and events in her life and provides insight into how she has achieved the hard-won state of tranquility and grace that she lives in. There are fascinating glimpses of some of those who have shaped her life and philosophical statements about her, and our, journeys through life.

I have never been a fan of audiobooks, but admittedly, I have only tried a handful. I was apprehensive about requesting to review this title yet I am a very big fan of the author, who has done so much to create positivity in the world, so I took a deep breath and tried something new. Wow. Why was I concerned? I am used to hearing Ms. Winfrey’s practical utterances and have improved my life due to several of the individuals who she has spotlighted, most notably Eckhart Tolle, whose philosophy has definitely made my life much smoother.  

I forget what a melodious speaking voice this exceptional woman has, and how she can make even the most esoteric of topics intriguing. I admit that she gets pretty philosophical with some of her musings but for the most part, listening to these CDs was like listening to a close friend sharing her trials and tribulations, her frustrations and her triumphs. I was delighted to hear about the cases of synergy that allowed her to do things like celebrate her birthday with close friends who were able to give her one of her most memorable concert experiences, and I could not stop laughing as I listened to the strain that a cross-country trip with her best friend, Gayle, threatened to wreak on their relationship. Ms. Winfrey shares the self-knowledge that she has garnered and allows us to see the influence that many individuals, both famous and not-so-famous, have had on her journey to self-knowledge and self-acceptance. The combination of wry humor, honesty, and insight into the human experience will enrich the listener’s life and prompt one to meet the challenge offered Ms. Winfrey by the late Gene determine what you know for sure. Personally, I know for sure, that this is my 1000th review for Night Owl Reviews and I have had a blast reading and reviewing all of these wonderful books! 

© Night Owl Reviews 

I received a copy of this title in return for an honest review.  

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Claim by Sierra Cartwright (guest post, excerpt) ADULT title

It is my very great pleasure to feature a guest post by one of my favorite erotica authors, Sierra Cartwright.

Where Do Ideas Come From?


Sierra Cartwright

I keep wishing for “idea heaven.” Or, barring that, a hot, sexy guy to show up on my doorstep with a story idea wrapped in a beautiful box and topped with a bright red bow.

Ideally, it would have characters, complete with names, a plot, a believable black moment, delicious ideas for sex scenes, and it would be overflowing with emotional conflict and a dash of angst.

In real life, I have to chase down that damn idea and freaking tackle it and wrestle it to the ground.

With Claim, my latest book from Totally Bound, I knew quite a bit about Kennedy Aldrich. Since it’s the second in the Bonds series, I’d already explored his personality in a previous book, Crave.

Since my heroine was a mystery, I started with conflict. I wondered what kind of woman would conflict with Kennedy Aldrich? He was born into a wealthy family. So he has plenty of power. To sweeten the deal, he’s handsome, has good manners, and he’s a skilled Dom. As a result, women often throw themselves at him. He’s got a bit of a reputation for having a new lady in his life every month, if not every week.

So I figured my heroine should be among the first to refuse him. And what kind of woman would turn down a hottie like him?

As I pondered that question, I began to form an image of Mackenzie. I figured a painful divorce had made her swear off commitment. And she finds she enjoys being single. If she were to consider marriage again, it would not be to a man like Kennedy. She wouldn’t be comfortable living life under media scrutiny. Nor is she interested in being just another notch in his bedpost.

Her decision to avoid entanglement only makes him more determined to
Claim her. I really enjoyed these two characters, and the story ended up playing into one of my favorite plots, the honorable and relentless alpha who is focused solely on one woman. He wants to care for her, protect her, and spend the rest of his life with her. Thinking about being pursued by a man like Kennedy gives me shivers, and I hope he gives you a few, too…


This is an ADULT title


He scooped her from the ground and strode away from the apparatus and over to a nearby couch. 

“I’m fine,” she protested.

“I’m sure you are,” he agreed, ignoring her.

Despite her words, she turned toward him, and relaxed against his chest. She didn’t remember ever doing that with a man before. Mackenzie shoved aside the inner voice that cautioned that she shouldn’t be doing it now.

She inhaled his scent, some sort of spice, overlaid by arousal.

On so many levels, he spelled danger.

He placed her on the couch and left her long enough to grab a bottle of water from his implement stand.

“Thank you.” She accepted the bottle that he had uncapped.

Mackenzie didn’t expect him to sit next to her, but he did. He pulled her close and draped his arm over her shoulder. “I really am fine,” she said.


“I don’t snuggle,” she insisted.

“You do now.”

“I’d be better if you left me alone.”

“Would you?”

“You seem unconcerned.”


She tried to pull away, but he tightened his grip. Her strength was no match for his. She’d noticed his biceps and the strength of his forearms. He had to outweigh her by at least a hundred pounds. A hundred muscled, testosterone-laced pounds, she corrected herself.

“Give in.”

It wasn’t a suggestion, she knew. Arguing would lead to a struggle, and he would make sure his will prevailed.

With a deep exhalation, she complied.

She didn’t know how he managed it, but he made her feel as if they were the only two people in the place. The music still thumped, but she was aware of the reassuring beat of his heart beneath her ear.

His arms around her kept the chill at bay.

And other people stayed away from their corner. She saw other couples, a few threesomes, even some singles, but they were in the distance, absorbed with their own experiences.

“You impressed me,” he murmured near her ear. “I meant what I said, we were a good team.”

After a few minutes, she sat up and moved away from him. He plucked the water bottle from her hand, put it on the floor then dragged her over his lap.

“What are you doing?” she almost shrieked, struggling to turn herself back over.

“Seeing my handiwork,” he replied. “Or, rather, admiring it.”

He put a leg over hers to imprison her then skimmed the outline of his marks.

“Satisfied?” she demanded.

“Very much.”

The approval laced through the words made her momentarily forget how to breathe.

He turned her back over.

“You could warn me next time.”

“You would have said no.”

Since he was probably right, she kept her mouth shut as he moved her off his lap.

“Stay there.”

When she opened her mouth, he raised a hand to halt her words. “Please?” he asked.

“Well, if you used manners all the time, I’d be more likely—”

“Don’t even,” he interrupted. “You only obey when it seems like it’s in your best interest. And since you know I’ll throw you over my shoulder if you don’t do as you’re told…”

“You win.”

He nodded.

She watched as he went back to the square. He packed all of his implements into a white carrying bag then sprayed and wiped down the equipment. Often Doms had their sub clean up the stations, so she appreciated that he let her rest while he did it.

Heat flashed through her when he picked up her ruined panties and tossed them in the bag.

When he returned, he offered his hand to help her stand.

Surprising her again, he placed a gentle kiss on her forehead. That small act seemed more intimate than anything else they’d done. 

And it bothered her more than anything else had.

To cover the fact that he’d discombobulated her, she straightened her skirt and tugged on the hem to make sure she was covered.

“I’ll give you a ride home.”

“Thanks, but that won’t be necessary.” She smiled, but let it fade when he scowled. “If my friends are gone, I can catch a cab.”

“Meet me by the front door. I want to let Alma know I’ll be back.”

Argument over. Could he be any more confounding? “Fine,” she said in a way that indicated it was anything but.

Buy links:

Totally Bound


First in the series:



Please be advised:  I have had the pleasure of reading many of Sierra Cartwright's titles, and more recently, of working on some of them, including these sizzling stories in the 'Bond' series.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Portrait of Passion by Lynne Barron (ADULT title) (Virtual Book Blast, excerpt and GIVEAWAY)

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. A randomly drawn winner will receive a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

ADULT title

Portrait of Passion

What’s a Viscount to do when a mysterious lady with a secret past and a reputation frayed around the edges suddenly appears in London in hot pursuit of his naive young cousin, setting the gossips’ tongues wagging, stirring his family into pandemonium, and driving him mad with her irreverent ways?

If the Viscount in question is Simon Easton, the answer is quite simple. Seduce the beguiling lady. But Miss Beatrice Morgan isn’t your average tarnished lady. She’s lived a slapdash life wandering the globe like a gypsy, painting fantastical portraits of Duchesses as Sirens and landscapes featuring a crumbling old fountain, all the while harboring a secret desire to return to Idyllwild, the only home she’s ever known.

What Simon does not know is that Beatrice just might be willing to sacrifice her honor, her virtue, her very heart to reclaim Idyllwild.


Beatrice thought that had Abby been born into a different family, she would be making her debut soon, perhaps next year.

Instead she waited upon a dishonest, lying, scheming woman.

Bea could not hold back bitter laughter at the thought. Simon turned his head to look at her in surprise. Abby froze, her gaze flying to Bea’s face.

“You are a very pretty girl,” Bea said and watched the blush deepen on the girl’s cheeks.

“Thank you, miss,” she shyly replied, bobbing another quick curtsy.

When Bea only watched her silently, Abby looked to Simon, who gave her a subtle shrug, before she asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you, miss?”

“You may undress me,” Bea said.

“Beatrice,” Simon protested quietly.

“I would like Abby to undress me and brush out my hair,” Bea insisted. She forced herself to raise her eyes to his, unsure what they would reveal to him. She was confused, an awful feeling of desperation mingled with the banked rage and shame. Would he see?

Simon captured her gaze, his eyes dark, not angry, uncertain perhaps. She knew she was behaving irrationally. She did not care.

“I’ll step outside,” Simon finally replied.

“Do not,” Bea said, waving her hands about in agitation. “Please, stay.”

Simon looked from her face to her hands, suspended in midair. She dropped them to her sides, clenched her fingers in her skirts, grabbing fistfuls of the dark silk.

Bea looked at Abby, standing as still as a statue, her eyes wide as she looked back. Bea realized that it was the first time the timid girl had ever looked her mistress in the eye. As if reading her mind, the maid tore her gaze away and bent her head down.


Buy the book at Ellora’s Cave (only $.99), or only $1.99 at Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.

About the Author:   Write About What You Know.

Every Creative Writing Teacher and College Professor said these words to Lynne Barron in one form or another. But what did she know?

She knew she enjoyed the guilty pleasure of reading romance novels whenever she could find time between studying, working and raising her son as a single mother.

She knew quite a bit about women's lives in the Regency and Victorian era from years spent bouncing back and forth between European History and English Literature as a major in college.

She knew precious little about romance except to know that it was more than the cliché card and a dozen red roses on Valentine's Day.

Then she met her wonderfully romantic husband and finally she knew.

Passion, Love and Romance.

And she began to write.

If you would like to learn more about Lynne Barron and the Idyllwild Series, please visit her website at or follow her at Facebook or Twitter.



Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Bones of You by Laura Stone (guest post, excerpt and GIVEAWAY) GFT

It is my pleasure to share a guest post by Laura Stone...(and...HAPPY THANKSGIVING to those of you who celebrate!)

A Perfectly Imperfect First Date

Movies like to have these “First Dates” all about grand gestures: a balloon ride, a magically lit tree with a four course meal served underneath, a surprise limo or helicopter ride to some exotic locale. And while, hey, I wouldn't turn any of those date options down, they're also not realistic for most of us. And more importantly, that sort of huge gesture isn't really needed. It's not about the Big Event, it's about the romantic thought behind it.

In The Bones of You, Oliver plans an afternoon and evening of specific locations and surprises for Seth as a way of rekindling their former relationship, and without giving too much away, it works. I based a lot of that chapter on an experience I had with maybe the most romantic boy I've ever known on our first date.

We were both poor college students, each of us paying our own way and working two jobs. There wasn't a lot of money for wining and dining. He'd done a little research on me via my roommate, and took me to places I loved. We spent twenty four hours together talking, getting to know each other, and then there were random little surprises of turning a corner and finding ourselves in front of a sculpture in a city garden that I loved. We stopped in a cafe to get a slice of my favorite cake. We drove to the far side of town to watch the sun rise over the mountains. With the exception of the cake, we didn't spend any money, we didn't go to any fancy restaurants or clubs, we simply spent our time getting to know each other, excited to find so many similarities between us.

At one point, I asked if he wouldn't mind if I called my roommate to let her know we were still out (this was back before cell phones—ancient times!), and he laughed to himself and said quietly, “You don't even know. I'd give you the moon.” I'm blushing and grinning just remembering this. About two days after our perfect date, one that neither of us wanted to come to an end, I had a package delivered to my dorm: a giant poster of the moon and a card, “I told you I'd get it for you.”

Cute, right?

Romance isn't about glitz and glamor, although that's okay, too. For me, and it's how I wrote the story, it's about connecting with who the other person is and letting them know how special they are to you. Romance is remembering an important day and honoring it, even with a simple card. It's knowing that your partner likes a particular scent, has a favorite restaurant, loves more than anything else to curl up with a blanket, a good book, and you. It's honoring what you've learned about your partner and making them feel like they have a permanent place in your life. Gosh, who doesn't want to feel special to the person with whom they're in love?

Towards the end of this well-planned outing between Oliver and Seth, Seth is almost overcome by all of the little details Oliver never let himself forget over the years. Seth had revealed earlier how different dating was in New York City versus how they'd grown up in their little town, and it's almost overwhelming, how good it feels to have someone make him feel special again, and in a way only Oliver ever managed. As for what happens after that, you'll have to read to find out.

As the stodgy-yet-fabulous Aunt Josephine says to Anne Shirley, “Make a little room in your plans for romance again, Anne, girl. All the degrees and scholarships in the world can’t make up for the lack of it.” I couldn't agree more.

The Bones of You
by Laura Stone



Oliver Andrews was wholly focused on the final stages of his education at Cambridge University when a well-meaning friend up-ended his world with a simple email attachment: a clip from a U.S. morning show.

The moment he watches the video of his one-time love Seth Larsen, now a Broadway star, Oliver must begin making a series of choices that could lead him back to love—or break his heart.

The Bones of You is full of laughter and tears, with a collection of irritated Hungarians, flirtatious Irishwomen, and actors abusing Shakespeare that color Oliver and Seth’s attempts at reconciliation.



“Do you have any idea how badly I want to kiss you right now?” Seth murmured.
Oliver's heart gave an enormous, pained thump and with a choked cry, he leaned forward the mere inches between them, pressing their lips together. He felt Seth's hand slide from his cheek to be buried in his hair, could feel Seth's strong, lean chest pressed against his. Oliver held their bodies together tightly even as his mouth was still gentle on Seth's, sliding softly over Seth's lips, amazed that this was even happening.
Seth pulled back and pressed their foreheads together, his hand massaging Oliver's scalp. “God, I've missed you so much, Oliver—”
“I know,” Oliver exhaled before kissing Seth again, all thoughts of being wary gone. He opened his mouth, moaning softly when Seth followed suit, splaying his hands across Seth's back when their tongues touched, memories of all of the kisses they'd shared in the past coming back and speeding up their reconnection.

Amazon link


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 A life-long fan girl, Laura Stone takes a leave of absence from the glamorous life of motherhood while the kids were in school, devoting her days to writing full-time. In the past she's worn the hat of actress, Master Gardener, and computer geek, but now sticks mostly to a Texas Ranger's ball cap as she raises her children. They're not fully raised, but then again, she would say that she isn’t either.

She began telling stories to her parents at the age of four. She was so successful in catching her parent's attention that her father actually dislocated his back, trying not to sit on her imaginary cat, Doka.

She lives in Texas as proof that it's not totally populated by hard-line right-wingers—and because that's where the good tamales are from.

Connect with Laura:

tumblr at Stoney321



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Kingdom Lights by Stephen VS (Guest post, excerpt, GIVEAWAY) GFT

I have the pleasure of having a guest post by author Stephen VS, who is writing about:

5-10 musts every story in your genre should have

World building – when dealing with the sorts of crazy concepts and creatures typical to the genre of fantasy/steampunk it’s important to spend time world building. There are lots of different ways to do this, but the best way is to start slow. Don’t overwhelm your reader, ease them in gently. If you introduce concepts slowly they are more likely to be accepted, and it will build a foundation so that when you introduce more farfetched concepts, they’ll be easier to take.

A strong antagonist – A hero is only as good his villain. A strong and present antagonist gives your hero and your readers something to rally against and gives a point of reference as to where the story is going. Introduce your antagonist as early as possible and the threat that they present to your hero. If you don’t do this, the story can seem unfocused as the reader wonder where it’s all going. A clear and present danger streamlines and empowers any story .

A world that makes sense – It doesn’t matter what you create, it has to make sense. For example in your world people may have the ability to come back from the dead, okay fair enough. But what is the limit to this? What are these people like – walking zombies or completely normal? You have to create real parameters for your world otherwise things will seem “cheap” as though you are just making things up as the story needs it. Do yourself a favor, create a set of rules for how your magic/technology works and stick to it. You will create a far more powerful narrative this way.

A history – if you are going to create a fictional world it isn’t enough to simply start telling your story from day one. A believable world means knowing where you have come from. Does your world have two nations that are at war? Are allies? Have never met? Well what were these nations doing a hundred years ago? Five hundred years ago? Our world today is the way it is because of things that happened a long time in the past. If you are going to create a world this is something you too must bear in mind. A good writer knows everything about their world, even if they don’t put it on paper. Go the distance, make a real world with a real history, it will elevate your writing from good to legendary .

Limitations – you might think this is a strange one, but limitations are just as important as creating cool stuff. Do you want to know why it is so difficult to make a compelling Superman movie as opposed to say Captain America? Because Superman has no limits, no real weaknesses (apart from the obvious one) and therefore it is hard to have Superman in a situation where you really think he is in danger. Captain America on the other hand – you put a gun to his head and he might die. If your protagonist is too powerful, or his technology too advanced then you may box yourself into a corner where nothing can hurt them.

The Kingdom Lights

Steven Seng (Steven VS)


In a world where cities float, airships sail the skies and mythical creatures are summoned in a pinch, Celes Vale is distinctly average. Living in the shadow of his talented cousin and his powerful aunt and uncle, Celes is resigned to a future of soot, factories and well, more soot.
But on the night of his twelfth birthday everything changes.  A blinding light, a whispered voice and in an instant Celes becomes the first ordinary child in history to develop magic, sending him on a fast-track ticket to the greatest of the floating cities, Gardarel.  Boasting grand, elegant buildings wrought from shimmering white stone, the entire city appears as though it has been built from light, and so it has come to be called the Kingdom Lights.

  Though some welcome Celes, others want the dirt-ridden up-start off their city, preferably head first.  Nowhere is this clearer than in the attitude and actions of the beautiful and haughty Lady Ban and her sneering nephew, Marcus Blackwood.  But Blackwood, with his gang of goons and unimaginative one-liners, is soon the least of Celes's problems.
  With a little magic and a lot of detective work, Celes and his group of Scurriers and Wisps unravel the dark truth behind Lady Ban's prim, perfect smile an alliance to the villainous Wardens and the masked man who leads them.  However, in his attempt to expose Lady Ban, Celes unwittingly stumbles onto an even darker conspiracy, a plan that could lead to the complete destruction of Gardarel itself.


Tidus was crying. Tidus often cried and Zephyr wondered how best to cheer his friend up this time.

“It won’t be so bad. I mean, we’ll be in different schools, but maybe your magic is just getting started.” That’s a good approach, thought Zephyr. The tears ebbed and Zephyr thought he heard a sniffle. “I’m sure it’s taking a bit longer…bit longer than normal. But I bet… I bet when your magic does come, it’ll be really strong!” he finished enthusiastically. Tidus howled. Oh no, maybe it’s not working at all.

Barely four foot tall, Zephyr was small even for a Wisp. Covering his entire body was a thick robe that extended all the way over his head, upon which it became a large furred cowl. Being made of a great deal of spirit and magic, Zephyr’s face was rather hard to see and appeared as no more than a haze; dark as midnight, punctuated by two large silvery eyes that shone as bright as lighthouse beacons, hiding the pale skin that lay beneath.

“You’re just saying that,” sniffled Tidus, another Wisp with crackling eyes of electric blue and a full year younger than Zephyr. “You’ll go to the Anchor School in a few weeks then you’ll go to the Lunar Academy next year and I’ll be…I’ll be…” He hiccoughed, his whole body jolting. “I’ll be all on my own!”

“No, no, no. We’ll still be friends!” he said, giving Tidus a small pat. “And you’ll have so much fun at your new school, you won’t even notice.”

Amazon link


 A resident of the sleepy coastal town of Bexhill, East Sussex, England. Steven graduated in the summer of 2013 from the University of Southampton with a Bachelor of Medicine Degree and a Master’s Degree in Global Health from Sussex University – where he spent the majority of his time in Shawcross writing this novel!
In between writing and dreaming Steven is a medical doctor and has worked at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire and the Princess Royal where he fights the system with quirky lanyards.
Steven’s debut novel steampunk fantasy The Kingdom Lights is out on October 17th published by Neverland Publishing.




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here

Deviation by Christine Manzari (New cover reveal, excerpt, GIVEAWAY) GFT

This post is part of a cover reveal for the re-release of Christine Manzari's DEVIATION. One randomly drawn winner will be awarded a $25 Amazon/BN gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Being a Sophisticate of the Program seems like it’d be a pretty sweet deal: a little genetic alteration and anyone can be smarter, faster, and stronger. It’s a dream come true. All you have to give up is your freedom.

Cleo is a Sophisticate and she has a bright future in the Program. But she has a secret. When she gets upset, bad things happen. Explosive things. Things she can’t control.

When her secret is discovered, she’s sent to the Academy to train in the military branch of the Program. She’s destined to be a human weapon in the war that’s been going on since Wormwood occurred nearly 30 years ago. She soon learns that although her ability is unique, there are others like her — other Sophisticates with lethal skills and odd code names like Archerfish and Mimic Octopus.

Immersed in a dangerous game of supernatural powers and dubious motives, Cleo doesn’t know who to trust. Ozzy, the annoyingly attractive cadet who has perfect aim in weapons class and deviant lips behind closed doors, begs her not to use her powers. He’s the golden boy of the Program, but can she trust him? Or will she find herself a target, caught in his crosshairs?

Enjoy an excerpt:

“Late on your first day?”

I turned to find the dark haired boy still leaning against the wall. The top button of his shirt was undone and his tie was slung over his shoulder. He wasn’t wearing his jacket and his shirt sleeves were rolled up, revealing his tan, muscular forearms. His tousled hair hung across his forehead, nearly falling into his eyes, and it appeared he hadn’t bothered to shave this morning.

“You’re late, too,” I pointed out. I also wanted to point out that his uniform was far from uniform or acceptable according to St. Ignatius policy.

The boy shook his head and then ran his hand back through his messy curls, trying to tame them into submission. “Not late. Sick.”

“Sorry to hear that,” I said, because I couldn’t think of any better response. It was obvious the boy wasn’t sick, he was skipping class. “Look, I really have to go. It was nice meeting you.”

“But we haven’t met,” he responded.

“What?” I asked, confused.

“We haven’t actually met yet,” he explained, pushing away from the wall. “Name’s Ozzy,” he said, holding out his hand.

I looked at his hand. “Is it contagious?”

He tilted his head causing the unruly curls to tumble back across his forehead. “I don’t follow.”

“Your sickness, I don’t want to catch anything.”

“Right,” he said, a wide grin dimpling across his face as he pulled his hand back and returned it to his pocket. “Well then, I should let you get to class I suppose.” He turned and walked down the hallway, the opposite direction from my classroom. “It was nice meeting you, Clementine,” he called back over his shoulder.

“I never told you my name,” I said calmly, even though I was a little unnerved that he knew my name.

“You didn’t have to.”

“Apparently, I do,” I retorted. “I don’t answer to Clementine.”

Ozzy chuckled without turning around. “See you around, Cleo.” 

Buy the book at Amazon, Smashwords, or Barnes & Noble.

About the Author:
The first thing Christine does when she's getting ready to read a book is to crack the spine in at least five places. She wholeheartedly believes there is no place as comfy as the pages of a well-worn book. She's addicted to buying books, reading books, and writing books. Books, books, books. She also has a weakness for adventure, inappropriate humor, and coke (the caffeine-laden bubbly kind). Christine is from Forest Hill, Maryland where she lives with her husband, three kids, and her library of ugly spine books.


The next title in the series is:



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Blond Cargo by John Lansing and A Last Goodbye by J.A. Jance (Pocket e-books)


There are a multiplicity of great titles that are being put on special for this promotion.  I am splitting the features so that it is not overwhelming so please check the blog over the next couple of weeks as I feature them on different days!  Please click on the book cover or title to pre-order.  (and don't forget, I get a small percentage if you do purchase through that link, so thank you!)

Avoid crazed shopping crowds!
Keep calm and carry on at home with these great
Merr-E Holiday Treats from Pocket Star eBooks! help you choose which titles to buy...there's a cute page of titles...
Happy Holidays from Pocket Books!
Whether you've been feeling naughty or nice, Pocket Star has a festive holiday ebook for you!
Click on the Christmas Cards to find one that’s a perfect fit and download for holiday cheer!
Don't forget to send some holiday cheer to a friend!



Blond Cargo
John Lansing
October 20, 2014
The second Jack Bertolino thriller by John Lansing

“An unyielding pace, vigorous characters and explosive ending.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“A fantastic read…This extremely fast and well-thought-out thriller will remind some of James Patterson’s early works.”
—Suspense Magazine

“Blond Cargo an extraordinary, must-read detective thriller. Can’t wait for the next installment! Look out Patterson, someone’s gaining on you!”
—Amazon Reviewer

Blond Cargo is the highly anticipated second Jack Bertolino installment from New York native and now Los Angeles author John Lansing.  This gripping eBook from the former writer/producer of Walker, Texas Ranger and Co-Executive producer of the ABC series Scoundrels continues the story that began in The Devil’s Necktie.

Jack Bertolino is back…in the sequel to John Lansing’s bestseller The Devil’s Necktie!

Jack’s son, Chris, was the victim of a brutal murder attempt and Vincent Cardona, a mafia boss, provided information that helped Jack take down the perpetrator of the crime. Jack accepted the favor knowing there’d be blowback. In Blond Cargo, the mobster’s daughter has gone missing and Cardona turned in his chit.  Jack discovers that the young, blond mafia princess has been kidnapped and imprisoned while rich, politically connected men negotiate her value as a sex slave.

John Lansing taps into the real life world of cops, crime, drugs and murder in Blond Cargo to deliver another sizzling whodunit.

Jack Bertolino moved briskly down the polished terrazzo floor of the American Airlines terminal at San Francisco International Airport. He walked past travelers who were deplaning, waiting to board, eating, drinking, and queuing up at ticket counters. Through the windows on either side of the crowded terminal he could see a line of Boeing MD-80s and 737s.

Jack had his game face on. One thought only: take down the manager at NCI Corp who was dirty.

Todd Dearling had been hired as one of five project managers, developing a new generation of semiconductors meant to challenge Intel’s control of the market. Yet the new engineer was plotting to steal the proprietary architecture for the company’s most advanced technology and sell it to an Argentinean competitor.

Jack had done a thorough background check on Dearling and found no skeletons in the man’s closet, no gambling issues, no drugs, no priors; it was greed, pure and simple. Cruz Feinberg, Jack’s new associate, had arrived in Silicon Valley two days prior and wirelessly inserted a program onto Dearling’s iPad while the stressed-out manager was sucking down his daily chai latte at the local Starbucks. Any text or e-mail sent to or from Dearling was cloned and sent to Cruz’s laptop. A piece of cake to pull off for the young tech whiz. Jack was being well paid to catch the thief in the act—let the money and the technology change hands, and then drop the hammer.

Todd Dearling had made reservations at the Four Seasons Hotel in East Palo Alto. A car would be waiting at SFO to ferry his Argentinean counterpart to the suite where the exchange was scheduled to take place.

Jack had booked Cruz into that same suite two nights earlier, where he had set up wireless microcameras and wired the room for sound, to be routed to the suite next door, where Jack’s team would document the crime.

Jack lived for these moments. Outsmarting intelligent men who thought they were above the law. Badge or no badge, Jack loved to take scumbags down.

Ten minutes ago, Flight 378 from Buenos Aires had flashed from black to green on the overhead arrivals screen. Dressed in a gray pinstripe business suit and wheeling a carry-on suitcase, Jack walked toward a limo driver stationed near the exit door of the international terminal. The man held a sign chest-high that read emilio bragga.

Jack reached out a hand toward the driver, who was forced to lower his placard, shake Jack’s hand, and make quick work of grabbing up Jack’s bag. Jack headed quickly toward the exit, explaining to the driver that he was traveling light and had no checked luggage.

As soon as the two men exited the building, Jack’s second employee, Mateo Vasquez, dressed in a black suit, moved into the same spot, carrying a sign that read Emilio bragga.

Jack and Mateo had once been on opposite sides of the thin blue line, Jack as an NYPD narcotics detective, Mateo as an operative for a Colombian drug cartel. When Jack busted the cartel, he made Mateo an offer—spend thirty years in the big house, or come to work for the NYPD as a confidential
informant. Mateo had made the right choice and Jack had earned himself a loyal operative when he became a private investigator.

Thirty seconds later, the real Emilio Bragga walked up to Mateo, stifled a yawn, and handed off his carry-on. He was short and stocky with a rubbery face.

“Buenos días, Señor Bragga. I hope your flight was acceptable?” Mateo asked deferentially.

“Barely. First class isn’t what it used to be.” Bragga’s accented English was spoken in clipped tones. “Take me to the First National Bank. I have business to attend to.”

Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars’ worth of business, Mateo might have added, but refrained.

Jack arrived at the Four Seasons, generously tipped the limo driver, and hurried up the elevator to the suite where Cruz was waiting. Once Jack stripped off his suit jacket, he joined the young genius by his array of monitors.

“They should make these baby ketchup bottles illegal,” Cruz said as he tried to pound the condiment out of the room service minibottle of Heinz. Growing frustrated, Cruz shoved a knife deep into the viscous ketchup and poured a heaping red mound onto his fries. Happy with the results, he chowed down on three drenched fries before wiping his hands on his jeans and returning his gaze to the computer.

“It looks like he’s getting ready for a date,” Jack said as he took a seat. Cruz kept his eyes trained on the four screens corresponding to the four different camera angles of the room they were covering.

“Guy’s squirrelly,” Cruz said, biting into his cheeseburger.

They watched as Todd Dearling twirled a bottle of champagne in the ice that had just been delivered from room service, along with a tray of finger sandwiches and crudités. He was a slight, pale, middle-aged man with thinning hair that he kept nervously brushing back off his forehead. He shrugged out of his tweed sports jacket, but when he saw the sweat stains in the armpits of his blue dress shirt, he slid it
back on. He hurried over to the thermostat near the door, appearing on a new screen, and turned up the air.

Jack checked his watch and then his phone to make sure he was receiving enough bars to communicate with Mateo. “I’m getting a little nervous. You?” Cruz asked before sucking down the last of his Coke. He crumpled the aluminum can with one hand and executed an overhand dunk into the bamboo trash bin.

Cruz’s mother was Guatemalan, his father a Brooklyn Jew who founded Bundy Lock and Key. That’s where Jack first met him. Cruz, who took after his mother’s side of the family, looked taller than his five-foot-nine frame. Darkskinned, intelligent brown eyes, a youthful angular face, and at twenty-three, he could still pull off the spiky short black hair.

“I’ve got some energy going,” Jack said, “but it’s all good.  You’d have to worry if you didn’t feel pumped.”

Just then Jack’s phone vibrated and the number 999 appeared on his text screen, code for It’s a go. Mateo and Emilio Bragga had just pulled up to the front entrance of the Four Seasons Hotel.

“We’re on,” Jack said with a tight grin.

In another minute, a loud rap on a door made Cruz jump. “Is that here?” he asked, and glanced over at the door to their suite.

“No, it’s next door. Great sound, Cruz,” Jack said, trying to keep his newest charge calm.

Jack and Cruz watched as Dearling’s image moved from one screen to the next, went over to the door, unlocked it, and ushered in Emilio Bragga. The man of the hour wheeled his carry-on across the white marble floor, pushed the retractable handle down into the bag, and gave Dearling an unexpected bear hug, lifting the thin man off his feet. Once the blush faded and he had regained his composure, Dearling
was all smiles. He could smell his fortune being made. “First, tell me you have them,” Bragga said brusquely, his smile tightening.

“I have them and more, Emilio. There are even some preliminary renderings for the next series of chips. Consider it goodwill,” Dearling said.

He lifted the champagne bottle out of the melting ice with a flourish, dripping water onto his dress shirt.
“A celebratory drink and then business.”

 “No, business first,” Jack said.

“No. Show them to me. Now,” Bragga ordered, his voice unyielding.

“Now we’re talking,” Cruz said to Jack, barely able to control his excitement.

The next knock was more subdued than the first, just a quick double knock.

“That’s here,” Jack said as he slid out of his chair and opened the door. Mateo was thirty-nine years old, tall, handsome, with striking gray eyes, long brown hair, and a thousand-dollar suit. He beamed at his old friend as he walked in, bumped fists, and moved into position behind Cruz, eyes trained on the computer screen.

Emilio Bragga placed his carry-on luggage on the couch as Dearling pulled a slim buffed metal briefcase from behind the table and snapped it open on the tabletop. Inside was a series of blue, red, silver, and gold flash drives, seated in foam cutouts next to three bound technical binders.

Bragga leafed quickly through one of the binders, visibly relaxed, and placed it back inside the case. He looked at Todd Dearling and nodded his head. Then he smiled.

“This is the money shot,” Jack said. “Make it the money shot.”

Emilio Bragga walked over to the couch, ceremoniously produced a key, and opened the lock. The sound of the zipper ratcheting around the circumference of the bag got everyone’s full attention. And then Bragga flipped open the canvas top.

Two hundred and fifty thousand, in crisp, banded hundred-dollar bills. Jack’s team could almost hear Dearling’s breath catch in his throat.

“You see those appetizers?” Bragga said, gesturing to the tray of crudités. “That is what this is.” He turned his gaze to the thick stacks of money like it was nothing. “Antipasto…before the meal.”

The two men shook hands. The deal was consummated. It was all gravy now, Jack thought. He would contact Lawrence Weller, CEO of NCI, who would have Bragga quietly arrested at the airport and Dearling picked up outside his condominium, thereby avoiding any negative publicity regarding the security breach that could affect the value of NCI’s stock.

“Start taking sick days as we get closer to the rollout date,” Bragga advised. “Then you’ll take a forced medical leave. I’ll set you up with a doctor in San Francisco who’s a friend. He’ll recommend you spend a month at a local clinic to recuperate while we launch and beat NCI to market. Six months later and with two million in your account, you’ll give notice and head up my division. Did I ever tell you how beautiful the women in Mendoza are?”

Bragga’s speech was interrupted by another knock on the door.

“Room service,” a muted voice said.

“We’re good,” Dearling shouted as he moved toward the door while Bragga instinctively closed the lid of his bag, covering the money.

Jack gave his team a What the hell? look. “Who are these jokers?”

“Complimentary champagne from the management of the Four Seasons,” intoned the muffled voice.

 “Don’t open the door,” Bragga hissed.

“Don’t open the door,” Jack said at the same time. But Dearling had already turned the handle.

Three men dressed in navy blue blazers with gold epaulettes pushed a service cart draped with a white cloth into the room with a bottle of champagne in a silver ice bucket and a huge bouquet of flowers in a crystal vase. “Three men on one bottle,” Jack said as he pulled his Glock nine-millimeter out of his shoulder rig and headed for the door.

“We weren’t the only ones who hacked his computer,” Cruz intuited.

“Don’t leave the room,” Jack told him over his shoulder. He quickly exited the suite, followed by Mateo. Cruz nodded, but his wide eyes never left the computer screen.

The lead man pushed the cart toward Dearling, but instead of slowing down, he muscled the cart up against the timid man’s waist, picked up speed, and forced him to backpedal across the room. Dearling’s eyes bugged, his face a mask of terror. The flowers and champagne tumbled off the cart, and the crystal vase shattered on impact. The champagne bottle exploded. Flowers and glass and water and bubbly
flooded the slick stone floor. Dearling’s body slammed into the television set on the far wall; his head whipped back and splintered the flat screen. Glass rained down on the Judas as he slid to the floor behind the cart.

Bragga placed himself in front of his bag of cash and took a gun barrel to the side of his head. The gash spurted blood, drenched his shirt, turned his legs to rubber, and took him down onto one knee. The gunman made a fast reach past him for the bag, but Bragga grabbed the thug around one thigh and tried to bulldog him to the ground.

“I’m gonna shoot you, you dumb prick,” the gunman grunted, rapidly losing control of the situation.

“So much for keeping it on the QT,” Jack said to Mateo as he kicked the door open and followed his gun into the room.

The third uniformed man spun as the door smashed against the jamb and Jack’s fist exploded into his face. The man’s head snapped back, and blood streamed out of his broken nose. His arms flailed, and his gun was suspended in midair for a split second before the man and the gun hit the floor.

The man who’d pushed the cart turned his weapon on Jack, who fired first, blasting the man in the shoulder. The force of Jack’s bullet propelled the gunman’s body backward onto the cart before he flopped to the stone floor, landed on his shoulder in the broken glass, and cried out in pain. The gun discharging in the close confines of the hotel suite stopped the action. The room smelled of cordite,
the only sounds heavy breathing and Todd Dearling’s whimpering. Mateo picked up the third man’s pistol and covered Jack’s back.

Jack turned his Glock on the second man. “Give me your gun or your friend’s going to bleed out,” he stated with extreme calm.

Before Jack could take control of the weapon, Bragga stripped it from the gunman’s hand and smashed him in the temple with surprising violence. Then he swung the confiscated Colt back and forth between Jack and Mateo, stopping them in their tracks.

“Nobody move and nobody follow,” Bragga said as he half-zippered the suitcase with one hand and picked up the carry-on bag.

“Drop your weapons,” he ordered Jack and Mateo through clenched teeth as blood continued to drip down the side of his face. They complied, knowing he wouldn’t make it as far as the lobby. Bragga walked around the couch on unsteady legs, muscling the heavy bag. His eyes bored into Mateo, the “driver” who had betrayed him, and ordered him to clear the doorway with a sharp wave of his gun barrel. Mateo took a half step to the side, gave the short man just enough room to pass, and pistoned with his full two hundred pounds of muscle, leading with his elbow and hitting Bragga in the back of the head, just above the neck. The Argentinean went down hard.

The overstuffed bag bounced on the floor, the luggage’s zipper split open, and a green wave of banded hundreds cascaded out onto the polished white Carrara marble. “That was a cluster fuck,” Jack said with disgust as he picked up his Glock and surveyed the carnage in the suite. Mateo collected the fallen weapons, grabbed a towel off the wet bar, and used it as a compress to stanch the first gunman’s bleeding wound. He was all business. “Call 911 and have them send an ambulance,” Jack said to Cruz, who he knew could hear him over one of the multiple microphones.

“That was insane.”

Jack turned around and found Cruz standing, wild eyed, in the hall directly behind him.

“Call 911 and lock the door. Did we get it all?”

“I copied Lawrence Weller and you on your cell, iPad, and laptop.”

“Good man,” Jack said.

“No, really, you, Mateo . . . man.” Cruz shuddered as he pulled out his cell and dialed the emergency phone line. Jack was not one normally given to second-guessing, but at the moment he found himself seriously questioning his new career choice as a private investigator.

Muttering a curse, Jack holstered his nine-millimeter, crossed the room, and proceeded to snap plastic flex-cuffs on the broken assembly of thieves.

Amazon link


John Lansing spent five years writing for TV hit Walker, Texas Ranger, and another three years studying the life of an NYPD Inspector. What emerged from his combined writing about a cop and time spent with an actual cop was Jack Bertolino—a fictional character with very real-life stories. Lansing was also a Co-Executive Producer for ABC's Scoundrels. John's first book was Good Cop, Bad Money, a true crime tome with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano.  The Devil's Necktie was his first novel. A native of Long Island, John now resides in Los Angeles.  Please visit his website for more information.


A Last Goodbye
J.A. Jance
November 24, 2014
An Ali Reynolds e-novella

Find out where fan favorite Ali Reynolds’ new adventure takes her in A Last Goodbye as New York Times bestselling author J.A. Jance brings her trademark breakneck pace to this fun and exciting e-novella, in which Ali Reynolds takes on double responsibilities as both sleuth and bride. 

Ali Reynolds is finally getting married to her longtime love, B. Simpson. They wanted a simple Christmas Eve wedding, but nothing is ever simple with Ali. Even as a motley crew of her friends—Leland Brooks, Sister Anselm, and others—descend on Vegas, the bride-to-be finds herself juggling last-minute wedding plans and a mystery in the form of a stray miniature dachshund. Ali’s grandson rescues the little dog, but Ali’s not in the market for a new pet right before her honeymoon, and leaves no stone unturned in hunting for the dog’s owner. But what she finds is more than just a shaggy dog story…Bella’s elderly owner has vanished, and her son seems to be behind it. So it’s Ali and B. to the rescue—and still making it to the church on time!


Ali Reynolds leaned her head back against the pillow in the soaking tub and closed her eyes. With the help of the pummeling water jets, she let the rush of the past few days recede into the background.

She and B. had made it. They were finally in Las Vegas. The rest of the wedding party was there, too.

Back in November, when she and B. Simpson had first settled on a Christmas Eve wedding at the Four Seasons, it seemed entirely doable—a piece of cake. After all, how hard could it be?

Because Ali and B. had chosen to be married in a hotel, much of the planning was done by simply cruising through the wedding planning pages on the Four Seasons website. Arranging the time, date, flowers, type of ceremony—including their preferred verbiage in the vows—was just a matter of making a few mouse clicks on her computer. Ditto for the menus. One was for what they were calling the rehearsal dinner despite the fact that there would be no rehearsal until the morning of the wedding. She also used the website to choose separate menus for both the reception and the post-ceremony supper. Ali stepped away from her computer, thinking that she had most everything handled. Unfortunately, she had failed to take her mother’s reaction into consideration.

Preparations for Ali’s previous weddings had been well beyond Edie Larson’s geographic reach—Chicago for the first ceremony and Los Angeles for the second. Caught up in running the family business, the Sugarloaf Café in Sedona, Arizona, 363 days a year, all Ali’s parents had been able to do on the two previous occasions was arrive in time for the rehearsal dinners and depart immediately after the nuptials.

This time around, Ali wasn’t so lucky. Her parents, Bob and Edie Larson, were both retired now, having sold the restaurant. Bob had found plenty to do in retirement, but Edie, left with too much time on her hands, had hit the wedding planner ground at a dead run, a reaction for which Ali herself had been totally unprepared.

In the past, Ali had found the term “bridezilla” mildly amusing, but when it came to dealing with an Edie who had suddenly morphed into what could only be called the bride’s “momzilla”? That wasn’t amusing in the least. To Ali’s surprise, Edie had whipped out her long-unused Singer sewing machine and set about stitching up a storm. In keeping with the season, Edie’s mother-of-the-bride dress was a deep-green velvet and probably the most sophisticated attire Ali had ever seen in her mother’s wardrobe.

With her own dress safely in hand, Edie had gone on to tackle outfits for the twins, Ali’s grandchildren, Colleen and Colin, who would serve as flower girl and ring bearer respectively. Colleen’s dress was a ruby-red taffeta, and Colin’s tux, also homemade, came complete with a matching rubyred taffeta cummerbund. Once that was finished, Edie took it upon herself to sew identical cummerbunds for all the men in the wedding party.

Ali’s father, Bob, was not an official member because Ali’s son, Chris, would do the honor of walking her down the aisle. Even so, Edie had gone so far as to bully her husband into actually buying a tux as opposed to renting one so Bob would have one to wear to formal dinner nights on their next cruise. Edie had been in despair about Ali’s ever finding a suitable wedding dress, and her sense of dread deepened when her daughter abruptly removed herself from the wedding planning equation. For the better part of two weeks in early December, Ali avoided all the frenetic pre-wedding activity by, as Edie put it, “larking off” to England.

That’s what Ali and B. had both expected her trip to Bournemouth would be—a lark. She went along for the ride when her longtime majordomo, Leland Brooks, returned home to the British Isles after living in self-imposed exile in the U.S. for the better part of sixty years. The trip was actually a thank-you from B. and Ali for Leland’s years of loyal service, including his having saved Ali’s life a month earlier in a nighttime desert confrontation with a kidnapper.

Ali had expected that her responsibilities would entail providing backup in case any of Leland’s long-lost relatives decided to go off the rails. She was also there as the designated driver, since most car rental agencies didn’t allow octogenarians to rent vehicles.

In a role-reversal variation on Driving Miss Daisy, Ali had taken the wheel of their “hired” Range Rover and driven Leland through the snowy English countryside from London to Bournemouth, Leland’s hometown, on the south coast of England. Together they even took a sentimental side trip to one of Leland’s favorite childhood haunts: Stonehenge.

In a small fashion boutique in Bournemouth, Leland had helped Ali find the perfect dress for her third and, as she put it, hopefully last wedding. Even now, her lovely lace-adorned ivory silk knee-length sheath was hanging in its original clear plastic wrap in the closet here at the Four Seasons. Needless to say, Edie was greatly relieved to know that the wedding dress issue had at last been handled even if she hadn’t been allowed to make it or choose it.

J.A. Jance is the New York Times bestselling author of the Ali Reynolds series, the J.P. Beaumont series, the Joanna Brady series, as well as four interrelated Southwestern thrillers featuring the Walker family. Born in South Dakota and brought up in Brisbee, Arizona, Jance and her husband live in Seattle, Washington, and Tucson, Arizona. Please visit