Month: May 2015

Review: I AM THE TRAITOR by Allen Zadoff

I am the TraitorI AM THE TRAITOR: THE UNKNOWN ASSASSIN By Allen Zadoff

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (June 2015) YA Mystery

The Program has sent Boy Nobody on countless missions, instructed to kill whichever target he was given. But now, after going rogue, he is on his own mission to rescue his friend Howard, who was captured by The Program. Boy Nobody manages to free Howard as well as Tanya, a mysterious girl who was being held with him. Putting their skills to the test, Howard and Tanya help Boy Nobody collect information about his father, eventually revealing a dangerous secret that teaches Boy Nobody a valuable lesson — he can’t trust anyone.

This is the final installment in the excitng Boy Nobody series and I have thoroughly enjoyed every book. Zadoff delivered intrigue and action on every page with strong characters and plenty of surprises. I recommend this entire series to teens and adults alike.

This review was provided by the Eclectic Express for the May 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.

Review: TWIST by Karen Akins

TwistTwist by Karen Akins

St. Martin’s Griffin ~ April 2015 ~ 5 Stars

Blurb: Bree Bennis finally has it all—a non-comatose mother, an uber-hot (albeit anachronistic) boyfriend named Finn, and a new-found mission to protect the timeline from those who would skew it for their own gain. But when she leans over one day to smooch said boyfriend, her lips meet those of her arch-nemesis Wyck instead. The timeline has been altered, and Bree is caught in the crosshairs. But when she goes back to repair the damage, she is stopped by none other than her Future Self, who delivers an urgent message: Someone is kidnapping Shifters from the distant past. It’s up to Bree to stop them. But first, she has to figure out who… and why.

Review: Twist is the second book in a series and picks up where the first novel, Loop ended. Bree Bennis seems to have everything she ever wanted, a super-hot boyfriend and a mom capable of looking after her. The “twist” in the plot is that Bree is a time traveler with the ability to help straighten things out when visitors attempt to change the events in their pasts which will not only affect their future, but also those around them. She feels this is her responsibility, but doesn’t quite understand that someone else has other plans until she kisses her boyfriend at the movies and he literally turns into a different person.

As if that isn’t strange enough, she finds herself kissing her arch-enemy, Wyck. The timeline twists and turns from one point to another. Then, she meets her future self and the puzzle of Life becomes even more confusing. While Bree struggles to discover the truth and learn just what is going on, so does the reader. This topsy-turvy world will enthrall and entrance those who want to help solve the mystery with the main character. Ms. Akins has a gift for developing characters and setting as well as an intricate plot.

While time-traveling may seem far-fetched, Bree faces universal problems. Can she trust Finn or will he fall for the next sexy shifter who comes his way? Is Wyck totally evil or can he be redeemed? Is fellow shifter, Jafney a friend, or a real slut who chases both guys? Bree needs to cope with her own troubled emotions and just when she thinks she has a handle on it, she learns her mother is addicted to medicines from the past and uses her own shifter abilities to obtain them.

This is an addictive read in its own right. Compelling characters, fabulous descriptions and a story that kept me up all night, Twist can be read on its own. It leaves the reader longing for more of Bree and Finn which means finding a copy of Loop. These books are supposed to be a duology, but hopefully Ms. Akins will change her mind and let us in on what happens next with Bree and Finn.

This review was provided by Shannon Kennedy for her column Shannon’s Space in the May 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.

Interview with ELLORA’S CAVE

elloralogoKindly tell readers who you are and your role at Ellora’s Cave. My name is Raelene Gorlinsky and I started working for EC as a freelance editor in March 2003. In February 2004, I moved to Ohio (company location) to take on the role of Managing Editor. A year later I became Publisher. I have always continued to edit some books for EC in addition to my other tasks.

EmpressNewClothesQ: How did Ellora’s Cave begin? EC launched in November 2000. The first ebook was The Empress’ New Clothes by Jaid Black, the pen name of EC founder Tina Engler. That is still one of our bestselling books. Tina started the company because she wanted to read and write romances that did not “close the bedroom door”. The major New York publishers had told her women did not want to read about sex and would not buy romances containing sex scenes—she didn’t believe it, and went on to prove them wrong. Five years later, those big publishers started their own erotic lines after seeing how wildly successful EC was with the genre.

FuryQ: What types of books can a reader find on your site? EC sells erotic romance (Romantica®), erotica fiction (Exotika®) and some non-erotic romance. The stories are in all categories: contemporary, historical, futuristic, paranormal, fantasy, BDSM, new adult, multicultural, and so on.

Q: Are they available anywhere else? EC books are available not only at our webstore (most times, the least expensive cost), but at all major ebook sites, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google, All Romance eBooks. They are available to libraries through OverDrive.

Q: How do you select the books you publish? We want great storytelling, excellent writing, compelling characters and hot sex that will thrill our readers and capture their imagination. The books must meet our guidelines, and *not* contain the elements we list as taboo (pedophilia, incest, necrophilia, bestiality, etc). Our Author Information brochure contains info about the company, what we are looking for, and how to submit to us. It is available for download at www.ellorascave.com/write-for us?.

naturallawWe also do special submission calls each year, to solicit stories on specific themes. The two open calls at the moment are Women With Whips (Fem Dommes) with a submission deadline of August 1, 2015. And Windswept Women (gothic romance), submission deadline December 1, 2015. You can see the descriptions for those at www.ellorascave.com/write-for-us/.

Q: Any exciting plans for Ellora’s Cave you’d like to share? We’re very excited to be expanding into additional library services and into subscription services during 2015.

We will also be putting out more ebook bundles this year—grouping a number of books into one “boxed set” at an attractive price.

Q: Is Ellora’s Cave active at any social media sites? You can find EC online at:

Our webstore: www.ellorascave.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EllorasCavePublishing

Twitter: @ellorascave

Pinterest page: http://pinterest.com/ellorascave/

EC Reader/Author chat loop: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ellorascavechat/

EC Blush (non-erotic) Reader/Author chat loop: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EC_Blush_chat/

Review: LOVE BURNS by Babette James

Love BurnsLove Burns (The River, Book 3) by Babette James

Wild Rose Press (2015) Genre: Sexy, Contemporary Romance

In LOVE BURNS, BOOK 3 of THE RIVER SERIES, Babette James tells the story of Dave Knight and Olivia Benedetti-Harper. They each have personal reasons why falling in love is not a good idea, and yet their attraction for one another is not to be denied.

Olivia had always done the right thing—she was a good daughter, a dutiful student, a dedicated nurse, and a faithful wife. When her adulterous husband shames her in front of their friends during a summer camping trip, Olivia is embarrassed and heartbroken. She files for divorce. Fast forward to the wedding of one of the camping couples and Olivia ends up kissing the arrogant, grouchy Dave. For all his gruffness, he managed to show Olivia his tender side and make her feel wilder than she ever thought possible. Dave, a smokejumper, thinks about Olivia but knows from experience that his career isn’t a good fit for wooing a lady and making a commitment to one woman is out of the question. After a plane accident forces Dave to give up his career, he’s forced to rethink his future. The one thing he’s sure of is that he’ll never fall in love and settle down—until he spends time with Olivia at the next summer’s camp out. Olivia and Dave leave the campout and go their separate ways only to question what they really want.

James writes the story from alternating points-of-view, so the reader is privy to the thoughts of Olivia and Dave. Both have their own reasons for fighting the on-going attraction—Olivia needs to stop making decisions based on what her parents want for her and Dave needs to quit running.

James developed strong major characters and uses realistic minor characters to enhance the plot line. Anyone who reads the book can’t help but love Uncle Jake and his down-home wisdom.

This book is the third in The River series, but can be read as a stand-alone. I recommend LOVE BURNS to readers who like a realistic love story with very sexy love scenes.

This review was provided by Jackie McMurray for her column Jackie’s Jargon in the May 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.

Review: RAY OF SUNLIGHT by Brynn Stein

Ray of SunshineRay of Sunlight by Brynn Stein

GLBT YA, coming-of-age, romance Harmony Ink Press (March 2015) / 180 pages

Warning: Possible spoilers

I didn’t expect to like this book. When you know at the start that it’s a romance between a Juvie offender and a kid with terminal cancer, and when the first-person main character sounds like a brat from the first page, it’s hard to work up much enthusiasm.

But I`m glad I kept reading. Brynn Stein surprised me. Russ, the violent kid who starts out whining about being forced to do community service after injuring his stepbrother, begins to calm down once he`s out of the Ace Katzenbooks house and in a bigger world with sane, compassionate adults. He develops into a young man whose empathy is sparked by contact with much younger kids whose lives have been plagued by much harder problems – severe burns, neurological disorders, cancer. And, naturally, one of the young patients, CJ, is a boy near Russ`s own age. CJ’s history is even worse—and, sadly, true to life—but who spends what energy he has acting as a clown to entertain the little kids.

It doesn’t take long to see that Russ is not exaggerating about his difficult home life. His homophobic mother and bullying stepfather are as nasty a pair as ever stumbled out of the Westboro Baptist cult. The saving grace in the family is Russ`s step-brother Pete, an unexpected ally.

The narration bothered me at first because the narrator’s vocabulary did not sound like a kid who had trouble in English class—but that is eventually explained because it’s the character speaking in retrospective, as a young adult. And that makes all the sense in the world, because there is no happy ever after for this pair, and after CJ`s death it probably would take Russ a few years before he could tell the story.

I`m giving this four paws – it`s very good, and high marks for including a character who is living with massive disability, but I think all of Russ`s school problems resolve just a little too simply.

Definitely a fine book for young people, and not a bad one for adults, either.

This review was provided by Ace Katzenbooks for the May 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.

Review: ANGELS IN TRAINING by P.S. Cherry

Angels in TrainingANGELS IN TRAINING by P.S. Cherry

Amazon Kindle Edition ~ April 2014 ~ 4 Stars

Blurb: Like people, different angels have different talents and different jobs. Angels in Training is a book for “children of all ages” about a school named WhiteFeathers Academy.

Typically the students at WhiteFeathers depart their worldly lives as infants. They grow up in angel villages and arrive at WhiteFeathers at age twelve for their final year of training in their fields of talent. Graduation day is called Birth Day. The students get their wings and “fly up” as angels on their thirteenth Birth Day.

The story is about a student named Millie who enters WhiteFeathers directly from earth at age twelve. She is at a disadvantage having spent so little time in training and having no special talent. But she is determined to overcome obstacles, get her wings and fly up on Birth Day.

Review: When new student, Millie enters WhiteFeather Academy, it comes as a surprise to her that she died trying to save a dog. For some reason she hasn’t entered Heaven, but instead found her way to a new school. She understands that she will eventually earn her wings and become an angel. However, she only has one short month and she must find her talent and learn how best to utilize it. Her new roommate, Zadie proves to be an ally while Millie discovers that even wanta-be angels aren’t perfect and can be mean. Still, as time passes there are benefits. She continues to make new friends and by helping them, she will help herself.

This book had an interesting setting which could have used more description. For the most part, the characters were likeable and consistent, not an easy task for a debut author. At times the momentum dragged. Despite the erratic pace this was still a fun read and hopefully, the ensemble cast will return in a new adventure.

This review was provided by Shannon Kennedy for her column Shannon’s Space in the May 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.

Review: A SWAN’S SWEET SONG by J. Arlene Culiner

A Swan's Sweet Song A Swan’s Sweet Song by J.Arlene Culiner

Wild Rose Press (2015) Genre: Contemporary Romance

Okay, I’m sort of a sucker for love stories populated with mature characters, but this story really resonated with me.

A SWAN’S SWEET SONG is the story of the unlikely romance between a country music singer and a self-proclaimed loner and playwright. Sherry Valentine and Carston Hewlett meet at a cultural festival where they are the designated hosts. Carston definitely does not want to be at the event anymore than Sherry does. He can’t believe his co-host is a country singer and she can’t believe she’s still playing the part of a country singer when what she really wants is to be an actress. Despite their differences, they find one another attractive and succumb to their attraction for one another.

Then there’s Charlie—Sherry’s best friend and manager who gets the notion that Carston is her ticket to get into acting. She’s used to Charlie bossing her around, but this time she wants nothing more than for him to butt-out.

Just when their romance is heating up, a scandal in the press threatens to keep Sherry and Carston apart. Can they convince themselves to ignore the press and follow their hearts?

Culiner has a knack for intertwining believable older characters, plot, and setting, but her voice is what makes her book stand out among other contemporary romances. Here’s just one example among many: “Good morning, Carston,” Charlie bellowed out as if the two of them had been best buddies since those prehistoric days when hairy mastodons snacked on ferns, club mosses, and other primeval vegetation.

Now there’s a true wordsmith!