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Book Review: The House of Order by John Paul Jaramillo #review @novelpublicity #giveaway

30 Apr

The House of Order: Stories
The House of Order: Stories by John Paul Jaramillo

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

3.5 of 5 stars

House of Order may be one of the more gripping, interesting and unusual collections of short stories I have ever read. I have to admit, it took me a little while to “get into” the book, as the MC, Manito, uses quite a bit of Spanish in the stories. It has been far too long since I have read any Spanish, so that held me at arms length for a bit.

Once I got past the feeling of being on the outside looking in, I was able to really sink myself into these short tales as narrated by Manito’s uncle, Neto.

John Paul Jaramillo paints a bleak, but vivid picture of the harshness of Hispanic life after the steel industry closes down. I really like the style he uses — a minimalistic approach as it were, telling and showing us so much with so few words. He holds nothing back, making sure to show us the brutality of the lives they lived. We see the Ortiz family struggle with drugs, alcohol, religion and familial abuse.

At only 108 pages, the stories are short and to the point, but even with their brevity, they speak volumes about what it was like to grow up in that harsh environment, and I really felt like I had a much better understanding of the Hispanic male psyche by the time I finished the last page. I would warn that this is not what I would consider a “happily ever after” type of book. I found myself a bit broody when I was finished — as some of the truths and realities expressed in the book are just that heartbreaking.

I think of all the stories (or chapters), my favorite would me “Little Blue Box”. The story had me laughing out loud and my boyfriend wondering what the heck I was reading that had me so entertained.

Despite being a white, Irish girl, I still felt drawn into the experiences of the characters as if I was living through them alongside Neto and his family.

Overall, I would say I enjoyed this book much more than I expected, and would give it 3.5 of 5 stars.

I would recommend this one to any fan of short story collections and for anyone looking for a glimpse of what life is really like in a Hispanic family.

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Wanna win a $50 gift card or an autographed copy of The House of Order?

Well, there are two ways to enter…

  1. Leave a comment on my blog. One random commenter during this tour will win a $50 gift card. For the full list of participating blogs, visit the official House of Order tour page.
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest! You can enter on the official House of Order tour page–since I can’t host rafflecopter contests on WordPress.

About the author: John Paul Jaramillo grew up in Southern Colorado but now lives, writes and teaches in Springfield, Illinois. He earned his MFA in creative writing (fiction) from Oregon State University and, currently, holds the position of Associate Professor of English in the Arts and Humanities Department of Lincoln Land Community College. Connect with John Paul on his website, Facebook, Twitter or GoodReads.

Get The House of Order on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Book Review: Tidal Whispers Anthology (Multiple Authors) @jtaylorpub

17 Apr

Tidal Whispers
Tidal Whispers by Jocelyn Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 Stars for this wonderful collection of Undersea tales.

Tidal Whispers is a collection of 4 tales, all with an ocean theme. My obsession with the sea made it easy for me to be sucked in by these four well-weaved stories.

In order to fully appreciate the book, I thought the review should really contain an individual look at each of the stories contained in the anthology.

Heart’s Desire by Julie Reece:

For me, this was the perfect story to start this anthology with. Ms Reece has a gift for descriptions, and I was immediately drawn into the story of Tessa, a young girl lost, feeling alone in the world, and suffering the loss of her parents. The emotions are heart stirring, raw, and really well presented. Cam, her love interest in the story is a boy she grew up spending summers with.

I really liked the feel of this tale. Much of it reminded me of summers I spent at the shore, and the friends I saw but once a year and always had such close ties to. I only wish the story’s ending wasn’t as easy to see coming as it was. Overall, a really great kick start to the collection.

The Sweetest Song by Claire Gillian:

This tale had a bit darker tone to it than the first. For me, a nice contrast. In this second offering, we meet Circe, a siren in trouble with Poseidon, and must find a way to sink a ship the Sea lord has his sights set on or suffer a fate worse than death — lose her voice and serve as his concubine for eternity.

I really enjoyed the twists in this tale. I didn’t see them coming and found the uniqueness of the story quite refreshing. Just the right touches of romance and mythos, made this tale a real winner for me.

The Pearl of Pau’Maa by Kelly Said:

This story was the most complex and “adventure” oriented of the four tales in the book. While Ms. Said also feeds us a nice dose of romance, for the most part, this story relies more heavily on the legend of the pearl and the people in the world she paints for us. Another fantastically descriptive writer, Ms. Said had me drawn in from the opening paragraphs. I really enjoyed the dual POV in this tale, and felt getting a glimpse from each perspective really helped make this story resonate. I will be looking for more from this author.

The Undergarden by Jocelyn Adams:

I have come to expect nothing but the best from Ms Adams’ stories after reading get novel, The Glass Man, and this tale certainly did not disappoint.

The sweet, and somewhat sad tale of Nixie and her sometimes reluctant best friend, Wyatt was the perfect close to this wonderful collection. Ms. Adams always seems to write the most interesting characters, and I think little Nixie may just be one of my favorites. Her innocence shines throughout the story and makes the reader hard pressed not to want to route for her. I have a soft spot for water sprites, too — making this one a MUST read for me.

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Book Review: You Never Have to Remember The Truth by Kelly Moran and Dominick Gugliatto

13 Apr

You Never Have to Remember the Truth: The Nick Gugliatto Story
You Never Have to Remember the Truth: The Nick Gugliatto Story by Dominic Gugliatto
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I came into this book not really sure what to expect. It is the first memoir I have ever read, so I don’t have any basis of comparison, nor reason to believe this would be the type of book I would enjoy. But, when I decided to make public my opinion about the things I read, I also decided it meant I would have to broaden my literary horizons. I would have to read something other than fiction.

I was absolutely pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this story. As the description for the book aptly explains, the story is Nick Gugliatto’s version of events surrounding his aiding Lawrencia Bembenek to escape from prison, where she was incarcerated for murder. I don’t remember the crime, personally, so all of the story was new for me. It was really interesting to see through the proverbial peep hole into something that apparently held the eye of the media for some time.

The author cleverly weaves the facts and doles them out in a way that gives the impression of sitting across from Nick at the kitchen table while he recounts his actions and the reasoning and truth behind them. The story was more a novella in length–perfect to my estimations. I never felt bored or dragged along during the read. After this, I would say I might just be a fan of this type of work. A must read for true crime addicts and those with an eye for conspiracies or the inner workings of the justice system.

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ONE LUCKY COMMENTER WILL WIN A FREE EBOOK COPY OF THE BOOK, So share your thoughts below!!! Here is one time when it doesn’t pay to be shy :P

 

Interview with Kelly Moran:

Bex: At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

Kelly: LOL. When I first learned to talk? As far back as I can remember, these characters and stories have been in my head.

Bex: What would you consider to be the best book you have ever read?

Kelly: Oh man. So unfair. Um… There’s quite a few. Pride & Prejudice–for the ultimate tease. A Cottage By the Sea, by CJ Ware–for thousands of reasons. Seaside Letters, by Denise Hunter–so sad and sweet. Jill Shalvis’ Lucky Harbour series is awesome. Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld series rocks. You know, we could be here all day. I’m refusing to answer!

Bex: What is it that you like to do when you’re not reading/writing?

Kelly: Hm. What I like to do or have to do? I love sappy movies, cooking, MLB, and NFL. Other than that, sleeping when I can. Oh, coffee and chocolate. I have 3 young boys, so I do a lot of chasing too.

Bex: If I came to visit early in the morning would you impress me as being more like a chirpy bird or a grumpy bear?

Kelly: Oh, definitely a grumpy bear. Unless you brought coffee. I wouldn’t eat you then. :)

Bex: Describe what it’s like to be an author in three words.

Kelly: Frustrating. Lonely. Limitless.

Bex: What one word best describes you?

Kelly: Stubborn.

Bex: Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?

Kelly: England or Ireland. I’m Irish, and would love to see it. I have author friends in the UK, and there’s so much history there. Why? Can you arrange this?

Bex: I so wish!
Buy a Copy: Amazon

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Book Review: The Wolves of Argonne by Kastil Eavenshade #erotic #fairytale

16 Mar

The Wolves of Argonne
The Wolves of Argonne by Kastil Eavenshade
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an enjoyable fairy tale oriented, steamy read this was. I really have to say I enjoyed a more “adult” fantasy story of this type. While it played off of the real Red Riding Hood story, this take by Ms. Eavenshade was quite original and I truly felt immersed in the world she brings us into.

I particularly enjoyed the D/s aspects of the story. The erotic elements were realistic and not overdone, as is found in so many stories of the erotic genre. I identified well with the characters and felt drawn into the story from the first page.

While a short tale (basically a novella), I felt the story suited the length and I appreciated that I never felt like I was reading filler. Everything contained was relevant to the overall plot and storyline.

I recommend this one to anyone with a taste for erotic works, especially those with an interest in D/s themes. It should also appeal to those with a love for the fairy tale genre, assuming you can handle the steamy bits.

I will be looking for more stories by this author.

The Wolves of Argonne is part of Evernight Publishings “Naughty Fairy Tales” series and can be purchased from their website here: http://www.evernightpublishing.com/the-wolves-of-argonne-by-kastil-eavenshade/

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Book Review: Truly, Madly, Deeply, You by Cecilia Robert

3 Mar

Truly, Madly, Deeply, You
Truly, Madly, Deeply, You by Cecilia Robert
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received an ARC copy of this contemporary romance novella from the publisher, Inkspell Publishing. Since I enjoy a nice short romantic read, a one-nighter as it were, once in a while, I dove in anxiously.

The story introduces us to Liese, a tortured young woman in self imposed mourning over a loss two years before. For the prior two years, she has spent the four days before Valentine’s day in solitude. Her plan to do so again.

Her best friend, Frey refuses to allow her to torture herself for another year, and vows to spend the four days by her side. He says he drew the short straw with her family, who is just as worried about her as he is, but we learn rather quickly that Frey has harbored feelings for Liese for a long time. What ensues is a very sweet, friends to lovers romance.

I was really drawn in by Frey’s sweetness and his obvious devotion to Liese as the story unfolded, especially when the first of the “notes” arrives–the card reading simply. Truly. The little notes continue to come, as does the time Frey and Liese spend in each others company. Ms Robert tosses in a few obstacles to their reunion, but we know these two are meant to be together in the end.

Overall, I enjoyed the short ride Ms Robert takes us on with these two characters. Some of the writing was a bit stiff for me in places, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t able to tell the story was written by someone whose second language was English, but despite that, I really did find the story engaging and enjoyable. Ms Robert shows some real flashes of brilliance in some of her descriptions and I look forward to seeing what else this author has to offer her readers.

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Book Review: For Now and Always by Stella Berkley #erotica

2 Mar

For Now and Always
For Now and Always by Stella Berkley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Strangely, this will be my first erotica review on the blog. When you consider I write the stuff myself, you realize how odd that actually is.

I took a look at this steamy fantasy novella because the author was recommended to me by a friend. I can tell you now, I was not disappointed in the least. Ms Berkley delivers a hot romance blended perfectly with a look at a fantastical race of shapeshifters. I make a point of not placing spoilers in my review, so I will let the description of the book speak for itself on the plot points. I will say that I was thoroughly engrossed in the world Ms. Berkley weaved us into and felt myself wanting more when the ride was over.

A must read for any fans of erotic fiction with a twist of well written fantasy.

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Book Review: Dragon’s Teeth by Suzanne van Rooyen

8 Feb

Dragon's Teeth
Dragon’s Teeth by Suzanne van Rooyen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am generally not much of a Science fiction reader, tending more towards the paranormal, romance and erotica stories when I am in the mood for a good read, so I jumped into this one a bit blind, as they say.

I have to say, despite not really getting into the story or the genre as a whole, I did enjoy the read. The author did a great job of pulling me into the story unfolding and after a few chapters, I was able to really relax into the story being presented. I admit to never really identifying with the MC, but I don’t blame the author for that one. The fault there is in my own desires when it comes to the genre of stories I truly enjoy and get wrapped up in.

The prose itself was well done and smooth, and the book lacked some of the basic editing issues that are prevelant in some of the smaller press offerings. That was a welcome surprise after some of the stories I have reviewed lately.

Certainly a book I would recommend to fans of sci-fi and mystery type novels. I will be looking for other titles from this author in genres I like a bit better, as I did enjoy the “voice” the story was written in.

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Book Review: The P.U.R.E. by Claire Gillian

21 Jan

The P.U.R.E.
The P.U.R.E. by Claire Gillian
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve never been much of a fan of the contemporary romances or any type of Mystery/suspense, so I wasn’t entirely sure how much I would enjoy this debut novel when I received the Advance Copy in my review email. As an avid reader of historicals and fantasy novels, I was curious to see if this one would really hold my interest in the same way as those types of stories generally do.

I was pleasantly surprised by The P.U.R.E. Not only did I enjoy the book a lot more than I had expected, I actually finished the novel in a day. That is how good it was. I couldn’t tell you the last time I have done that — even with a fantasy novel.

Ms. Gillian does a stellar job of drawing the reader in from the first page and keeping them hooked throughout the story. The main character, Gayle Lindley is smart and sassy, definitely not a simpering sort by any stretch, and I just loved that about her. Her love interest in the novel, her co-worker, Jon Cripps is the perfect blend of mysterious and sexy.

The best thing about this novel for me, was the fact that the mystery was so well written. I didn’t know who the bad guy really was until the last chapter, despite “thinking” I knew far before that. Some great twists and turns in this one.

Even with all that suspense and mystery, Ms Gillian still finds the time to woo us with some steamy hot love scenes and fabulous descriptive writing.

A must read for anyone who enjoys suspense peppered with a hearty helping of romance.

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Book Review: Becoming: The Life and Musings of a Girl Poet

18 Jan

Becoming: The Life & Musings of a Girl Poet
Becoming: The Life & Musings of a Girl Poet by Nadia Janice Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first time I have read a book of poetry cover to cover, and the first time I have reviewed poetry. In general, it tends to not be “my thing”, but I have to admit I really enjoyed many of the poems included in the book. There is a nice mix of the personal, the general and the spiritual in BECOMING — something for everyone from a poetry perspective. Many of the pieces have a definite female take, but I am one, so that didn’t bother me. :)

I also liked that I never felt “out of the loop” when reading these poems. I had no trouble following the language or understanding the symbolism being used, which can sometimes be a problem with the poets I have read previously.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys poetry.

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Book Review: Knockout! A Passionate Police Romance

12 Jan


Knockout! A Passionate Police Romance by Emma Calin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’ve not read this type of contemporary police drama/romance before, so I was interested to see if this was something I would enjoy or not. Unfortunately, I had a hard time really getting into this one. The writing, though clear enough, really didn’t engage me or draw me in as a reader. I never truly felt invested in the story, and the passive voice writing and backstory elements in the beginning really made the read hard for me.

I prefer a story to grab hold of me as a reader, and not let go till the last page — with loads of active voice, strong dialog and action. This story didn’t do that for me. I don’t really like writing unfavorable reviews, but I really just didn’t get into this at all. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t really enjoy it either.

I think I made it to about Chapter 4 before I decided to put it away and read something that I would find more engaging.

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