Monday, November 19, 2012

A Night on Moon Hill by Tanya Parker Mills

Award-winning author, Tanya Parker Mills (2009 Indie Book Award Winner for The Reckoning), delivers a fascinating story in A Night on Moon Hill when Daphne Lessing’s comfortable routine of life is disturbed when she discovers a body in her pool. The body belongs to her most talented creative writing student, and he’s left a poem for her.

When Daphne realizes that the student’s death is not random, but connected to her hidden past, she is faced with several uncomfortable changes that are about to take place. She learns that part of the student’s will includes the request that she take over the care of his half-brother, a ten-year-old boy named Eric, who has Asperger’s syndrome.

A Night on Moon Hill is a carefully crafted and beautifully-written story that follows Daphne’s journey as she discovers that the routine of her life is made much better when she shares it with someone. Eric changes everything, and in those deviations, Daphne finds a better self as she opens her mind to more possibilities in life, including moving forward with courage, and  allowing another person into her heart.

Purchase on Amazon here.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

BIG IN JAPAN by Jennifer Griffith

 Review by Heather Moore

At my hair appointment the other day, I was browsing through the free downloads on my Kindle app. I'd downloaded a sample chapter from BIG IN JAPAN. Since I was recently at a writers conference where I listened someone from the publisher speak (and was impressed), there were 2 things in favor of opening the book over all of the others (free sample, impressed with publisher).

So I started reading. Of course it cut off way too soon, and I did something I haven't done in awhile. I purchased the full book off of reading a sample. By the end of the day, I was half way through the story, caught up in the 300 pound main character, Buck, who joins his parents on a business trip to Japan.

Buck is the perfect awkward unsung hero, but his quirks are endearing, and his character very relatable.

Great humor throughout as well, some serious thought-provoking events, as well as a sweet romance. Really, everything rolled into one.

To download your free sample chapters, visit here.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Interview with author Stan Crowe

Interview by Heather B. Moore

Below, I interview Stan Johnson who writes under Stan Crowe. I'm excited to say that his new book is out: THE CINDERELLA PROJECT

And yes, apparently men can write romance . . . And there is a Goodreads Giveaway open until September 7th.

  Heather: Stan, tell us about your road to publication and how you ended up with publisher Breezy Reads.

My road to publication probably began when I was five. My mom entered me in a writing contest held by a local library. I won, and my book was printed and put on the shelves. By my senior year of high school, I started writing much more frequently, and really enjoyed the vent for my teen angst. That evolved through college until, in 2006, I finally self-published a little anthology of my short stories.

Connecting with Breezy Reads was a real piece of serendipity. Long story short, a Facebook friend turned out to be the proprietor of the company. I had sent her a chapter of The Cinderella Project on a lark (and sent the lark to her via e-mail), without knowing she had anything to do with publishing. She liked it, and kept asking for more chapters. Eventually, she asked for the whole manuscript, and not long after that started talking about publishing me through Breezy Reads. The rest is history.

  Heather: Wow, sounds like serendipity! (Always looking for ways to use that word.) I noticed that you have a pen name as well, which I do, too. What is the reason behind a pen name?

I'll be honest: my publisher convinced me that the name "Stan Crowe" had more sex appeal (her words) than "Stan Johnson." Given the success of one "Russell Crowe," I agree with her (though I remember that Don Johnson had his day in the sun, once upon a time). In essence, my pen name serves pretty much the same purpose as yours.

My friend teases me about it all the time, though...

Heather: My brothers-in-law call me "HB" now--lovely, huh? So the question you'll probably get a million times from here on out . . . What's the writing process like for you? Is this your first novel? Your 10th?

Second question first. This is my first non-self pubbed novel. Prior to that I put out the aforementioned anthology (Tales from Taenaria), along with a short story in a separate anthology. I was also published on the website "365 Tomorrows" back in 2009.  I have numerous other short stories and novel starts on forums and on my computer, if that counts for anything.

As for the writing process, well, "process" is an apt term. The process starts, of course, with a root idea. Often, those ideas come to me in dreams (I can relate to Stephenie Meyer on that point). After that, I mull it for a while, jot down some notes, etc. I'm a blend of  planner, and  "discovery writer." Typically, once I have a basic plot structure, I start laying down words and run with things. Drafting and copious changes tend to follow as I review, consult with alpha readers, etc.

The most challenging part of the process tends to be "locking on" to the characters. Once I have a good feel for who each character is--how they think, what drives, them, how they speak, their backgrounds, etc.--the rest flows a whole lot better, even if revisions become necessary because of a better understanding of a character (that happened when I was writing Ella in The Cinderella Project).

Heather: I completely agree. Once I know the "character arc" and what makes them tick I feel like I can write the story. Your book, THE CINDERELLA PROJECT, is a romance novel. Is this a genre you are going to stick with for awhile, or do you have other types of books you'd like to work on.

I'm opting for "C--all of the above."

Writing romance was an accidental thing for me. I entered a small, online writing contest with three, separate assignments. The final assignment became the original draft of The Cinderella Projct. It worked out far better than I expected, and encouraged me to continue exploring the genre. I expect I'll get better with it over time, but I think my debut is definitely a good start. In fact, I already have several other ideas waiting in the wings, not to mention the novel I'm working on now. I'll talk about that later, though.

My first literary love, however, is science fiction. More recently, I've grown to enjoy fantasy fic. I've got several ideas for novels in both of those genres. However, I'd like to really "brand" myself first, and the romance thing is working out well at the moment. Once I'm better established in that, I'll probably try my hand at those other genres, and see where I can go with them.

  Heather: Branding is good advice for all authors, and then you can branch out into other areas. Tell us how you fit writing into a busy schedule of working, parenting, etc.

If I really knew the answer to that, I'd write a book about it which would likely immortalize me as an author because of the hordes of women who would buy it, desperate for the secret of finding "free time" amidst the craze of parenthood, working, extra curricular activities, and so forth.

Seriously, though, I write pretty much in fits and starts. I do block out specific times for writing, but writing at home is tricky at best. I'm lucky that my kids love me, but that translates into regular interruptions (a closed door only means "you must open this before talking to dad"). Thankfully, my wife has been incredibly supportive of my efforts, and finds ways to deflect the kids, and give me time alone to write when I'm home.

I guess writing in the midst of my life is just like doing pretty much anything else.  It has been an interesting exercise in patience, determination and perseverance. I do spend a lot of time thinking and plotting my books when I'm not engaged in other things (i.e. when driving, showering, etc.)

  Heather: Very true. Whatever you decide to do besides the "norm" can be tricky to fit in. What are you currently writing, and what's next on the horizon?

My current book is a bit more whimsical/mystical than The Cinderella Project. It's about a guy who (to put it politely) isn't exactly "The Fonz," if you know what I mean. Fate grants him one wish. Glad for the chance to turn around his flat-lined love life, he soon learns that there's wisdom in the old adage, "Be careful what you wish for--you might just get it." And trust me, he gets it.

The question is, can he get rid of it?

After that, I have a few other ideas lined up in the vein of "slanted fairytales," which is what The Cinderella Project was (as evidenced by the title). Though the idea is hardly new, I've learned that there are always fun, unique ways to tell classic stories, even if they've been told a hundred and one times. Or, I may choose to go with another idea that came to me just the other day.

Let's just say it's a broad, bright horizon, and I'm enjoying heading toward it.

Thanks for asking. :)

Heather: Thanks so much, Stan. Best of luck with the new book! (Check out purchase links below and Stan's author blog as well.)

Smashwords purchase link
Author Blog
Breezy Reads site

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cold Justice by Kathi Oram Peterson

Cold Justice by Kathi Oram Peterson

Covenant Communications, 2012

Reviewed by Heather Moore

From the Author: For my blog tour I'm giving away two very cute and cuddly toy bears from Build-a-Bear. To be included in the drawing for the bears followers need to leave comments on each blog of the tour. They have until midnight on July 1st to go to each blog and leave a comment. I'll then put their names in the hat and have two winners picked.  I'll announce the winners July 3rd.

My Review:
A companion novel to River Whispers, Cold Justice delves into Samuel's secret past. When a murder accusation is filed against him by a Raven Clan member, Samuel's free days are numbered. Kidnapped on the day before his wedding to Regi, Samuel is dragged across the country to Alaska where he's forced to stand trial--for a crime he didn't commit.

Regi isn't about to sit by and let the authorities scramble for clues. She follows her instincts and goes to find Samuel herself. They've already spent too many years apart, and she's not about to let more time stand between them.

Cold Justice is a fast-paced, action-filled story that combines past and present seamlessly. Most enjoyable is the how the Alaskan tribe plays a role in the events. It was fascinating to learn more about the Raven Clan and about their traditions and beliefs. It brought depth and additional authenticity to the story.

Besides Regi and Samuel, I enjoyed the character of Trace, the troubled grandson of Jake. There was a lot of depth to his character, making him very interesting--and might possibly support a sequel of his own (hint, hint).

Cold Justice is available in paperback and on Kindle

Other Links for Kathi Oram Peterson:

Goodreads Cold Justice Giveaway (ends June 30):

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Golden Spiral by Lisa Mangum

Review by Heather Moore

In The Golden Spiral, book two of the Hourglass Door trilogy, Abby’s life has made a 180 degree turn. Her boyfriend, Dante, has disappeared through a time portal, stuck in a between place that’s impossible to reach without the hourglass door. But the door has been destroyed, and Abby has only a small amount of time to create new one.

Problem is, the reality around her continues to change as Zo manipulates time, drastically altering Abby’s life. First it’s her friend, Justin, then her college scholarship. When her family is affected, Abby will take any risk to undo Zo’s destruction. Her friend, Valerie is the only one with answers, but she is under strict surveillance at a mental hospital.

As the second installment of this YA series, The Golden Spiral continues the fascinating and highly creative story of time travel. Mangum’s writing style is fresh, with a strong literary voice, and will draw readers into the psyche of the various characters and their struggles to understand who they can trust and who still holds dark secrets. Intriguing and suspenseful, The Golden Spiral is an engaging sequel, which will both please readers and leave them anxious for volume three, The Forgotten Locket.

Friday, June 15, 2012

My Lucky Stars by Michele Paige Holmes

My Lucky Stars by Michele Paige Holmes
Published: 2012, Covenant Communications
Available: Paperback & Kindle
Review by Heather B. Moore

Another great read from Michele Holmes. This book covers the character of Tara (from Counting Stars) and how she undergoes some life-changing events. At first, Tara is her usual self--demanding, selfish, and unhappy. As her character progresses, the reader will become attached to her and cheer for her triumphs. 

Holmes's sweet and creative writing style will pull you into the book and wrap you up into her characters.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Duke's Undoing by GG Vandagriff

Review by Heather B. Moore

Award-winning historical novelist GG Vandagriff (Last Waltz, Foggy with a Chance of Murder, etc.) has turned her sights to the Regency era. Since I've enjoyed reading this genre over the past couple of years, I was excited to pick up Vandagriff's new offering.

The Duke's Undoing is a sweet romance, instilled with plenty of adventure, humor, and even a bit of danger. Like all classic regency novels, I always enjoy the over-the-top secondary characters who care nothing except for their reputation--or perception of what is "right and proper." They add a great conflict to the hero or heroine who decide to defy convention and marry the one they truly love.

Yet, this isn't the typical story of a lowly maid in love with a duke. In fact, Elise, the heroine in the novel, is well situated, but she has one major flaw. She is on her third engagement when the story opens. Anyone familiar with the Regency social mores knows that one failed engagement was enough to sully a woman's reputation, meaning she'd mostly likely retreat from London society and live out her days as a secluded spinster.

But Elise's first fiancé is tragically killed in battle. Her second fiancé, while a dashing fellow, turns out to be quite insane--schizophrenic more specifically. He alternates between a loving fiancé to a self-possessed fiend who has no qualms of kidnapping Elise.

Exhausted by having such bad luck twice, Elise turns to the more conventional arrangement and becomes engaged to George. But as fate would have it, George has a wandering eye and it lands on Elise's best friend, Violet. Elise, knowing she'll be shunned by society if she breaks yet another engagement--especially for something that most women are forced to overlook--decides that she'd rather be alone than stand between her best friend's future happiness.

At great sacrifice to herself and her reputation, Elise cries off the engagement.

This is where the Duke of Ruisdell enters the story. With secret motivations of his own, the duke offers Elise protection from the ton's critical eye, and offers her a false proposal. Elise and the duke decide that is the only way to get Gregory, her former fiancé, to make his intentions known to Violet, who is desperately in love with him.

But as they move through society together, giving everyone a false impression of their love for each other, something deep with both of them starts to grow into a genuine attachment.

One obstacle after another is thrown into their paths, driving them farther and farther apart, until--even knowing that a Regency Romance MUST have a romantic ending--I was starting to doubt . . .

Vandagriff masterfully recreates a setting that has become so intriguing to millions of readers since the first society-parodies were written by Austen. Vandagriff's description of the homes, ballrooms, clothing, mannerisms, and food are excellent and pull the reader quickly in. The characters are vibrant and unique, and I love a heroine who is unexpected. Elise is just that. She is compassionate, even to the point of becoming ostracized by her "own people." She is courageous and looks toward the future no matter her trials, never giving into despair. She is willing to risk everything for those she loves. Yet her flaws run deep, and she is the first to admit them. A true heroine in every sense!

Banana Split by Josi Kilpack

Review by Heather B. Moore

If you haven't read Josi S. Kilpack's culinary mysteries, you are in for a huge treat!

Sadie Hoffmiller is NOT at it again. In fact, she is taking a much needed break and living in Kauai for a few months to recover from her recent traumatic events. So when Sadie discovers a dead body in the ocean, she interviews with the police, then puts it out of her mind. It's time to focus on her own healing and working through her crippling anxiety. But when a young boy, Charlie, appears at her doorstep asking if she was his dead mother's friend, Sadie slowly starts to change her mInd. It seems that the case has been closed by the police, yet the answers not really found to the cause of Charlie's mom's death.

Author Josi Kilpack does an excellent job with the setting and creating a believable plot. The Sadie Hoffmiller series continues to be one of my favorites.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Wedding Letters by Jason F. Wright

The Wedding Letters

By Jason F. Wright

Shadow Mountain, 2011

Reviewed by Heather Moore

Author Jason F. Wright takes novel-writing to a new level. You may know him best for his poignant story, Christmas Jars, in which he started a movement of people collecting loose change during the year and anonymously donating their “Christmas Jar” collection on Christmas.

Or you might know Wright from the NY Times bestselling novel, The Wednesday Letters, in which he gave out his cell phone number so that readers could share their stories about the lost art letter writing.

But you’ll soon know Wright for his newest release, The Wedding Letters, a sequel that focuses on Noah, the son of Malcom and Rain (from The Wednesday Letters). The family has grown and gone in their own directions, but they come together when major events affect the future of the Inn. Noah brings his girlfriend, Rachel, to the Inn to meet his parents, and she is introduced to the Wedding Letter tradition. Leafing through the Wedding Letter album, she discovers advice that’s varied and sometimes unexpected from those who attended Malcom and Rain’s wedding many years before.

When Noah and Rachel announce their own engagement, The Wedding Letter tradition is started, to not only include wedding guests but anyone who knows Noah and Rachel. But when Rachel discovers a secret in her past the threatens to destroy her relationship with those she loves, a single letter has the power to reunite her with all that she holds dear, if only she can open her heart again.

This story reminded me of the boxes I have filled with letters and all kinds of cards gathering dust in my basement. Letters have a way of reminding us of the past and reconnecting us with what’s important. I have The Wedding Letters to thank for this much-needed reminder. The Wedding Letters is a heartfelt story, filled with classic Wright insights, and timely messages that define the truth of human nature and the healing power of love.

To purchase your copy, visit Amazon.