Saturday, February 28, 2015

Review: The Brothers' Keepers by NLB Horton

The Brothers' Keepers (Parched, Book #2)
by NLB Horton
Release Date: November 12th, 2014
2014 RidgeRoute Press
Paperback Edition; 371 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-991-40173-4
Genre: Fiction / Suspense
Source: Review copy from Liftuse Publicity

3.5 / 5 Stars

While cataloging looted antiquities in Brussels, Grace learns that her son's bride has been attacked in Switzerland. Her day careens from bad to catastrophic when daughter Maggie, a hydrologist, disappears in France.

Coincidence is a luxury that Grace cannot afford. Particularly when near-fatal history—saturated in espionage—is repeating itself.

Family members convene in Paris, where they discover the key to the danger consuming them. Embedded like a taproot in the Ancient Near East, the cuneiform clay tablet is their only lifeline. But before they can save themselves, they must first find and rescue their elderly friend—if he'll let them.

My Thoughts
The Brothers' Keepers is the second book in the Parched series, and to be honest, I had a difficult time getting through some of this book.  It's not because the characters weren't interesting or witty, or that the plot wasn't interesting, it was mainly due to the author's style of presenting the plot and the information.  For whatever reason, it grated on my nerves at times and I had to really, really focus and push myself to continue reading.  

I enjoyed the various characters in this novel, thought they were interesting, but due to the author's style of presenting them, didn't really feel close or develop any empathy towards any of them.  There was quite a bit of action throughout the novel whereby someone was shooting at Grace and her various family members, trying to blow them up, trying to kidnap various members, but I never felt like anything was ever fully discussed or fleshed out. There was just this momentary chaos, and then everything went normal as if this was an everyday occurrence.  While Grace's husband Mark, her son and her daughter-in-law may work in various espionage fields, Grace is an archaeologist and her daughter is a hydrologist, so I'm pretty sure this would not be an everyday experience for them.  It just seemed a bit too blase for me, and I wished the emotions and the descriptions were fleshed out a bit more, especially in such a way that I would feel more empathy towards them.  All of this being said, I did like Grace quite a bit and wished I could learn a bit more about her as she seems to be such an interesting character.  I loved all the little quirks she had, such as being clutzy and falling down stairs on a regular basis.  

The plot was fairly interesting and there is quite a lot going on.  Maggie, Grace's daughter, is kidnapped at the beginning of the novel, and the race is on to discover why someone like Maggie, a hydrologist, would be so interesting to radical groups around the world.  In other words, what has she learned that would be of vital importance?  It is this question that sends Grace and her family across the world in search of answers.  Along the way, they meet some interesting people and learn some interesting information involving Biblical history that meshes with modern-day information. Searching for those vital hints left behind in the scrolls is something right up my alley, so I did enjoy that aspect of the novel.  You have to really pay attention to all the details though, or you could miss something rather important, and this is what I found difficult to do as the writing style I found impeded concentration on those rather important details and sometimes I missed them because I got annoyed.  

The Brothers' Keepers had a good plot line, where you did have to suspend belief once in a while in the action and just go with the flow, a rather interesting historical storyline, and even some romance to boot.  That being said, it did take me longer to read than it normally would as I didn't always enjoy the writing style and thought neither the characters nor the story was fully fleshed out.  My recommendation is to read When Camels Fly first, which I enjoyed, before attempting this one as some of the references and comments will make more sense.  

About NLB Horton:

Winner of  'A People's Chioce Award' in fiction, NLB Horton returned to writing fiction after an award-winning career in journalism and marketing as well as earning her Masters of Biblical Studies degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. 

She has surveyed Israeli and Jordanian archaeological digs, tossed a tarantula from her skiff into the Amazon after training with an Incan shaman, driven uneventfully through Rome, and consumed gallons of afternoon tea while traveling across five continents.  

Horton is a member of the venerable Explorers Club, based in New York City and founded in 1904 as an international multidisciplinary professional society of explorers and scientists. From her home in the Rocky Mountains, she writes, cross-country skis, gardens and researches ideas for her next novel. Horton’s first novel in the Parched series, When Camels Fly, was released in May 2014.  The Brothers’ Keepers is the second, with the third installment available in fall 2015.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Spotlight and Giveaway: The Curse Servant by J.P. Sloan

The Curse Servant
The Dark Choir
Book 2
J.P. Sloan

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Date of Publication:  February 26, 2015
ISBN (eBook): 9781620078228
ISBN (Paperback): 9781620078235
ISBN (Hardcover): 9781620078242
ISBN (Smashwords): 9781620078259
Number of pages:  346
Word Count:  99,400
Cover Artist:  Conzpiracy Digital Arts
Book Description: 
The one person standing between Hell… and an innocent girl… is a man without a soul.

A regular life isn’t in the cards for Dorian Lake, but with his charm-crafting business invigorated, and the prospect of a serious relationship within his grasp, life is closer to normal than Dorian could ever expect. In the heat of the Baltimore mayoral campaign, Dorian has managed to balance his arrangements with Deputy Mayor Julian Bright with his search to find his lost soul. Dorian soon learns of a Netherworker, the head of a dangerous West Coast cabal, who might be able to find and return his soul. The price? Just one curse.

Sounds easy… but nothing ever is for Dorian. A dark presence arrives in the city, hell-bent on finding Dorian’s soul first. Innocents are caught in the crossfire, and Dorian finds it harder to keep his commitments to Bright. When the fight gets personal, and the entity hits too close to home, Dorian must rely on those he trusts the least to save the ones he loves. As he tests the limits of his hermetic skills to defeat this new enemy, will Dorian lose his one chance to avoid damnation?

Available at Amazon

I knew this wasn't going to be the typical meeting with Julian Bright when, instead of the usual political organ-grinders at the campaign headquarters, I found a soccer mom duct taped to a chair, foaming at the mouth. Her grunting and growling echoed off the bare sheetrock walls of Julian's office, vacant except for the three of us.
I peeked through the blinds covering the locked storefront to make sure none of volunteers were back from the morning rounds. Satisfied we were alone, I turned to Julian.
He waved his arm at the woman in a lazy circle. "So, this is why I called."
"Who is she?"
"Her name is Amy Mancuso. You know her?"
I shook my head.
"She's a volunteer. Her team was working Cold Spring by Loyola when she started swearing and spitting at the residents. By the time her team captain called me, she'd kicked someone's dog. Terrier, I think. Or one of those purse dogs."
I winced. "Remind me not to hand out yard signs for you. Jesus."
"It's not like we do background checks on volunteers. I figured she probably missed some meds or something."
"But you called me instead of the paramedics."
"Why?" I asked as I took a step toward her.
Amy's grunting halted as she straightened in her chair. Her head swiveled slowly in my direction, and her eyes sent the creeping chills up my neck.
With a nerve-rattling tone she growled, "Is that Dorian Lake I smell?"
I'd never enjoyed the sound of my own name less.
Julian turned a shoulder to me and whispered, "That's why."
I slowly approached Amy, pulling my pendulum from my jacket pocket in a slow, non-threatening motion. Last thing I needed at that moment was to send a crazy person into a panic. I assumed she was crazy. My pendulum would determine whether she was unnaturally energized or the usual cat-shaving flavor of lunatic.
Her eyes were dilated; her mouth twisted into the most unsettling smile one could imagine on the face of an otherwise average woman.
"Have we met?"
"Poor little Dorian lost his soul."
Okay, this was probably a legitimate problem.
I dangled the pendulum in front of Amy. The little nugget of copper spun from the end of its chain in a perfectly Newtonian fashion. Nothing pulled it contrary to the laws of Nature. I couldn't even feel a tug on the chain.
She continued, "Lost his soul, he lost his soul. Dropped it down a rabbit hole."
"I suppose you think you're being clever?"
"Is he doomed or is he dead? Will he damn your soul instead?"
This conversation had lost all of its charm.
"Who am I talking to?"
She sucked in a huge gulp of air and craned her neck at a painful angle toward the ceiling. A sick squealing noise leaked from her lips as her arms trembled. When she finally released her breath and sank back down into her chair, she simply chuckled.
"We're going to find it, you know. And when we do, we're going to eat it."
I leaned in as close as I dared and whispered, "If you think I'm afraid of you, then you need to know something. I'm not impressed."
"It won't be long now."
"Did someone send you, or is this just a courtesy call?"
She smirked. "We're going to enjoy this."
I was knitting together a clever response when a loud rip of tape crackled through the room. Her hand slammed up underneath my jaw, fingers clamping around my throat. My head filled with blood, and I tried to cough through the gag reflex. The harder I beat on her hand to let go, the wider that creepy smile got.

About the Author:
J.P. Sloan is a speculative fiction author ... primarily of urban fantasy, horror and several shades between. His writing explores the strangeness in that which is familiar, at times stretching the limits of the human experience, or only hinting at the monsters lurking under your bed.

A Louisiana native, Sloan relocated to the vineyards and cow pastures of Central Maryland after Hurricane Katrina, where he lives with his wife and son. During the day he commutes to the city of Baltimore, a setting which inspires much of his writing.

In his spare time, Sloan enjoys wine-making and home brewing, and is a certified beer judge.

Web page:
Twitter: @J_P_Sloan

Tour giveaway
5 Digital copies of The Curse Merchant, Book 1 of the Dark Choir series

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Review and Giveaway: A Killer Retreat by Tracy Weber

A Killer Retreat (A Downward Dog Mystery, Book #2)
by Tracy Weber
Release Date: January 1st, 2015
2015 Midnight Ink
Ebook Edition; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-0738742090
Genre: Fiction / Cozy / Mystery
Source: Review copy from Partners in Crime Tours

3 / 5 Stars

When Kate Davidson gets an offer to teach yoga classes at the Elysian Springs resort, she jumps at the opportunity--even if it means enduring the wedding ceremony of the center's two caretakers. But avoiding the M-word turns out to be the least of Kate's problems when a wedding guest is found floating face-down in the resort's hot tub, shortly after a loud, public fight with Kate.

The police pick Kate as their number-one suspect, so she teams up with her boyfriend Michael, best friend Rene, and German shepherd sidekick Bella to find the real killer. They must solve the crime before the police arrest Kate, or her next gig may last a lifetime--behind bars.

My Thoughts
A Killer Retreat is the second book in the Downward Dog Mystery series featuring Kate Davidson and her newly-beloved dog Bella. How she acquires this dog is a mystery from the first book, but I adore Bella and am so glad she has found a new and loving home.  

In this installment, Kate, Michael, and Bella are off to the Elysian Springs Resort for a peaceful holiday where Kate hopes she and Michael can spend some romantic time together and get to know each other a bit better.  As a trade for free room and board, Kate also receives an offer to teach yoga classes at resort, and offer she just couldn't refuse.  After, why not indulge in her two favourite things?  Michael and yoga?  Although yoga teaches one to learn how to cope with stress and to develop inner peace, Kate finds this very difficult to do as she senses Michael become more serious about their relationship and panics when she thinks he wants to have the 'serious' talk.  I have to admit that this is where Kate drove me crazy at times as her avoidance behaviours tended to border on the childish and immature, sometimes making her appear sulky and whiny.  And the way she treated Michael during these times was deplorable; he definitely didn't deserve such treatment from her, especially without an explanation.  And then to be angry at him because he took her behaviour personally?  I'm not quite sure what she expected from him, but he is a bigger man than he should have been and definitely put up with a lot of behaviour that I know many wouldn't, and shouldn't.  I also don't really feel like Michael and Kate really solved their issues; he just happened to ask a different question than the one she was expecting, and suddenly things were much better between them.  Avoiding problems doesn't solve them and I wasn't too crazy about how this wrapped up.

Now, that being said, there were some instances where Kate did lose her temper, and it wasn't at Michael, or forgot to filter her mouth, and had to deal with ramifications that I thought were quite funny, even if Kate didn't.  I thought she deserved it, you know, the karma thing coming back at you.  Being put in your place is good for the soul and makes you think about your actions and your words and how they can affect everyone around you.  I thought the author did a great job explaining the tenets of yoga and how they pertained to Kate and her life, and how she managed to break quite a few of them through her thoughts and behaviours.  It was quite fascinating actually, enough that I have been considering taking it up myself.  

As for the plot, I found the interactions between the characters far more interesting than the actual murder investigation, which was a bit lacking in my estimation. I really like Rene and Sam, Kate's best friends, and am really happy they showed up at the resort; and naturally, they brought their own drama with them, which was quite easy to figure out. Bella is adorable, but then I adore dogs, and Bella's antics were quite funny and did add some hilarious moments to this novel.  I'm not really sure I bought into the reason for why the murderer did what they did as it didn't quite feel right, but there you have it.  As for the mistakes Kate made during this investigation, don't even get me started.  She had a father who was a cop. Didn't she learn anything growing up?

A Killer Retreat is one of those novels that I enjoyed more for the development of the main characters than I did for the actual mystery.  I liked the intricate manoeuvres between both the secondary and main characters as I tried to figure out the many puzzles and complications that were going on in their lives.  The murder was just one of those things that brought out more of the puzzle pieces between the characters and helped to put those pieces together, but I didn't actually find the murder, or the investigation, to be all that interesting.  And finally, I actually liked Kate much better in the first book than in this one.  I found myself looking forward to scenes where she kind of faded to the background as I tired pretty quickly of her whining and her treatment of others.  I think I had a hard time reconciling the fact that she got on my nerves and I was more interested in the other characters.  As for the cozy mystery genre, I enjoy it tremendously, as it's a nice treat to read something other than serious murder mystery / police procedural (although anyone who follows my blog knows that those are at the top of my genre list), and I find them quirky and fun.  As I did enjoy the first entry in this series, I am willing to give the third book in this series a shot.

Author Bio:

Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series featuring yoga teacher Kate and her feisty German shepherd, Bella. Tracy loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any form possible.

Tracy and her husband live in Seattle with their challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha. When she’s not writing, Tracy spends her time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house.

Visit Tracy at:

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Cover Reveal and Giveaway: Deception by A.S. Fenichel

Deception (The Demon Hunters, Book 2)
by A.S. Fenichel
Release Date: July 7th, 2015
2015 Kensington
ISBN: 978-1616515622
Genre: Paranormal Historical Romance

When Demons threaten Regency London, only a Lady can stop them.

Lillian Dellacourt is beautiful, refined and absolutely lethal. She's also the most feared and merciless demon hunter in The Company. She's come a long way from the penniless seamstress's daughter sold to the highest bidder, and it wasn't by trusting a man, let alone an exiled Marquis with more on his mind than slaying the hellspawn . . .

For Dorian Lambert, Marquis de Montalembert, being sent to keep track of Lillian is no mean task. He's wanted the fiery vixen since he first heard of her five years ago. But wooing the lady while fighting the demon uprising is no easy feat, especially when the lady's tongue is as sharp as the Japanese sai blades she favors for eviscerating the spawn of hell.

These two will have to learn to trust each other fast, because the demon master is back, and he's planning to turn Edinburgh into a living hell...

Author Information 
A.S. Fenichel gave up a successful career in New York City to follow her husband to Texas and pursue her lifelong dream of being a professional writer. She’s never looked back.

A.S. adores writing stories filled with love, passion, desire, magic and maybe a little mayhem tossed in for good measure. Books have always been her perfect escape and she still relishes diving into one and staying up all night to finish a good story.

Multi-published in erotic, contemporary and historical romance, A.S. is the author of the Mayan Destiny series, Christmas Bliss and many more. With several books currently contracted to multiple publishers, A.S. will be bringing you her brand of romance for many years to come.

Originally from New York, she grew up in New Jersey, and now lives in the East Texas with her real life hero, her wonderful husband. When not reading or writing she enjoys cooking, travel, history, and puttering in her garden.



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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Guest Post & Giveaway: The Embers of Light Tour

The Embers of Light
The Dia Chronicles
Volume 2
Tammy Farrell

Genre: Historical Fantasy
Publisher: Tammy Farrell
Date of Publication: Jan 28th, 2015
ISBN: -13:  978-1505434989
ISBN-10: 150543498X
Number of pages: 388
Word Count: 96,000
Cover Artist: Nathalia Suellen

Book Description:
The descendants of the ancient gods think they’ve found peace, but the time has come when new magic and ancient powers will collide…

Stripped of his Dia powers and left to rot, Malcolm is a prisoner of Valenia—a sentence he finds worse than death. His thoughts of revenge are the only thing keeping him sane, but when he finally manages to escape, Malcolm discovers that living as a mortal is more dangerous than he ever imagined. After stealing from the wrong man, Malcolm becomes a captive once more, only this time his punishment is one that he won’t soon forget. His only hope of survival is Seren, an enigmatic young girl with golden eyes and a malevolence to match his own.

When he’s led to Mara and Corbin, the two responsible for his fall from grace, their new faction of Dia is in chaos, infiltrated by an ancient power thought to have been banished forever. This only fuels Malcolm’s ruthless ambitions, but he soon realizes that he too is under attack, a pawn in a centuries old game of power and greed. As new battle lines are drawn, Malcolm finds himself in uncharted waters, forced to choose between helping those he’s vowed to destroy or give in to his lingering desire to settle the score.

Debts will be paid, lives will be lost, and no Dia will ever be the same.

The Perfectly Imperfect Romance

Most of us love a good romance, especially when the couple is so perfectly imperfect we can’t help but root for them. That’s what keeps readers interested in fictional couples. Sure, they can fall in love at first sight. I’m one of those people who believe in such a thing. They can even be meant for each other in some way. I also believe in that. But for readers to care about a fictional couple, their relationship has to have flaws. And I don’t mean flaws like: the woman is completely indifferent to a man’s good looks, his money, or his status. That’s just not realistic. (If I’m dating a hottie billionaire and he wants to buy me a no-strings-attached present, I’m taking the damn present). And the man doesn’t have to be a liar, cheater, or player turned devoted lover all by the grace of one woman. It’s been done, and we don’t believe it anymore.

Readers want real flaws. They want to know what happens after the love at first sight. I’m talking about things that raise the stakes. Couples fight. Couples get sick of each other. Couples disappoint each other. And couples don’t always stay together.

Some of the perfectly imperfect fictional romances that stand out to me are:

Scarlett and Rhett, Gone With the Wind. They’re too much alike to work, but we desperately want them to. Rhett loves Scarlett from the start, but by the time Scarlett realizes she loves Rhett, it’s too late, she has hardened his heart.

Noah Calhoun and Allie Hamilton, The Notebook. These two are also far too much alike to make a good match, but their deep love for one another forces them to work through their challenges.  

Jim and Pam, The Office (Okay, not a literary couple). These two are probably one of my favorite fictional couples. They are absolutely PERFECT for each other, but circumstances and their inability to express their feelings keeps them apart for so long. You know you melted a little when Jim burst into the conference room and finally asked Pam out on a date. ;)

Heathcliff and Catherine, Wuthering Heights. These two are a perfect for each other, but it never works out. THIS is why we love them. If Catherine and Heathcliff hadn’t been separated, Heathcliff would have never uttered this stunningly passionate line: “Be with me always - take any form - drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!”

In my novel The Embers of Light, Mara and Corbin (the heroine and hero from book one), are in the secondary phase of their relationship. They’ve already fallen in love, they’ve survived the challenges in book one, but now they face a number of new challenges, and they don’t always manage to get along while doing it. Mara is still struggling with her own demons and starts to questions Corbin’s motivations for trying to help her. She fears he might be trying to control her. But for Corbin, that’s the furthest thing from the truth. They misunderstand each other, they doubt each other, and they will have to make some tough choices in the end.

Readers want fictional couples that manage to tug at our heartstrings without always playing into a flawlessly Happily Ever After. Readers want conflict, they want passion, sometimes they want sweetness, and they want sacrifice—even if that means sacrificing love.

What does this mean for authors? Take a good look at the romance in your story, even if it’s secondary to the main plot. If you love your couple, and you want readers love your couple, make sure both characters are three-dimensional. Have them make mistakes, have them argue (if it fits), have them make up after they argue (because who doesn’t love a good make up?), and remember, they don’t have to stay together in the end.  

About the Author:
Tammy Farrell grew up in Orangeville, Ontario Canada where she discovered her love
of writing, and all things related to Edgar Allan Poe. She now lives with her husband and six fur babies in Greenville, South Carolina, where she attempts to learn French when she isn’t busy writing.

Learn more about The Dia Chronicles and Tammy Farrell’s other works at:


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