Thursday, April 30, 2015


Hi readers!

My week got away from me, which is why I posted no book review yesterday (Wednesday). However, I have one posted today, and two going up tomorrow, to help make up for the loss.

Is it just me, or is anyone else struggling to adjust to the suddenly beautiful, warm spring weather? Somehow, I can't focus on computer work when it's 78 degrees (Fahrenheit) outside at mid-morning.

Or maybe it is just me.

At any rate, thanks for your patience!

Book Review: "Modern Monsters" (Kelley York)

Imagine you're blamed for something you know you didn't do. Everyone else in your world thinks you're guilty.

Imagine the loneliness.

Now you know how Vic Howard feels. He's a high school student, cursed with a stutter, intelligent but essentially an outcast except for his friend Brett Mason, who is one of the most popular kids around. People talk to Vic to get in with Brett, and that's the only reason.

Until the day after a huge party, when the police show up on Vic's door to accuse him of raping a classmate. By the time the rumor spreads, there is no one who believes Vic, including his own mother ... except, possibly, for Autumn Dixon, the best friend of the girl Vic supposedly raped.

Modern Monsters is a teen romantic suspense by author Kelley York, to be released this summer by Entangled Publishing's Entangled Teen imprint.

The most intriguing point about this well-written, attention-grabbing book is that it's written entirely from a teenage boy's point of view. Vic's voice is the one that delivers the story ... unusual for much teen fiction (which tends to focus on the girl's point of view) and unusual for anything with romance as a sub-genre, since most romances divide the perspectives between male and female.

The glimpse inside Vic's head and life that readers get from the work will more than overcome whatever surprise they might feel at finding him the POV (point-of-view) character. Vic is really genuine and likable, a smart guy who doesn't fit in very well, who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

How many of us can say that has never happened to us before?

Vic's foil is Autumn, who is just as standoffish, direct, competitive, and determined as Vic is peacekeeping and methodical. Autumn's approachable because of how much she cares for her friend (the girl who was raped) and how passionately she wants to see justice on her friend's behalf. When she finally decides that Vic's telling the truth about being innocent, she works just as tirelessly alongside him to help find the real criminal.

And the answer to that riddle will be one you never saw coming.

Expect only the unexpected. Look for Modern Monsters in June.

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Author: Kelley York
Title: Modern Monsters
ISBN: 978-1-63375-004-3
Pre-order here:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Top Five: Writing-Related Articles from April 20-24

5. "9 Things That Happen When You Read" on Psychology Today (Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.)


Have you ever stopped to think about how the words you write impact your readers? And don't just think generalizations --- "Readers are entertained by my novel" --- but really analyze in specifics. What, precisely, happens when readers pick up a book? And how can you use that knowledge to your advantage? Find out in this post.

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4. "All the Young Dudes: Generic Gender Terms Among Young Women" on JSTOR Daily (Chi Luu)


Here's a fascinating article on the rise of what have become essentially "gender neutral" terms across the board, regardless of the actual gender being addressed. The post is well-researched and detailed, and would appeal to linguists and word people alike.

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3. "14 Reasons We Love List Articles" on Lit Reactor (Robbie Blair)


Again, don't read this post from the stance of a reader and why you enjoy reading list articles online. Instead, view the content as an analyst, someone learning what your readers appreciate about list articles. See if you can incorporate more of them into your blogging or freelancing or other platform.

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2. "The Challenges of Writing 'I': How Do You Become Competent at First-Person Writing?" on The Chronicle of Higher Education (Rachel Toor)


What's different about writing a personal essay or other offering in the first person point-of-view (POV) than in, say, third person? This article contends that the differences --- in tone, style, and more --- go beyond swapping out pronouns ("I" for "he/she," for example) ... indeed, that there is much more to first-person writing than meets the eye.

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1. "21 Places to Find Blogging Jobs: An Essential Resource for Freelance Bloggers" on The Write Life (Heather van der Hoop)


Freelancers and bloggers (heck, authors too) know well the phenomenon of "feast or famine" ... either you have a ton of work, or absolutely none. For those stuck in a slump, or those who are looking to expand their current income, this post is absolutely invaluable in providing resources for finding job opportunities.

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That's the lineup for last week. What worked for you? What didn't work for you? What did you enjoy? What are you tired of hearing about? What are you working on?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Guest Post: A Moment Poem

And to close the month of April, during which we've celebrated poetry by showcasing the original free-form work of my award-winning short story author and eclectic poet sister Katharine Trupkiewicz, here is her final contribution. Follow the themed words (second, hours, wait) and increasingly breathless verbs (ceases, drops, draws, takes, opens) through the poem as, line by line, she builds to and slows in one beautiful moment.

A Moment Poem

That second in time,
When all else ceases
To exist. When all
Other people vanish
And you are left there,
Staring into his eyes
As he drops to his knee,
Draws the velvet box
From his pocket, takes
Your hand in his, and
Opens the box to show
You the ring that, with
Hours and hours of
Painstaking time and
Indecision, he chose to
Put on your hand for the
Rest of your life. You
Draw in your breath,
Wait for those words that
Every little girl has dreamt
Of since they were four
Years old, and, when they
Come, the four simple
Words that change your
Life forever, "Will you
Marry me?" your heart
Ceases to beat for just a
Moment, and you open
Your mouth and say that
One simple word. The
Word that takes only a
Single second to say, yet
Carries with it the changes
That last a lifetime: Yes.

(Katharine A. Trupkiewicz, 2015)

Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2015

Abject apologies to my readers for my disappearance yesterday!

I am at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference this weekend, learning so much from incredible writers like JL Fields and amazing presenters like Pete Klismet.

Lots to share upon my return! In the interim, have an excellent weekend!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Book Review: "Fighting for Keeps" (Seleste deLaney)

When you've been burned before, it takes a miracle or just shy of it to give you the courage to try again ... 

Jodi Israel is an agent with TRAIT, where she has worked in mechanics and electronics, particularly since the death of her partner. When she gets stuck paired with a reluctant new recruit (who happens to be steamy hot and attractive) and an unexpectedly complicated case protecting the daughter of a high-profile politician, things go from crazy to chaos overnight.

Former police officer Finn Danby plays things his own way, which means "instinct" and "spontaneity" are his favorite words. "Following orders" ... not so much. When he's recruited by TRAIT and paired with a woman he can't stand to act as bodyguards, he chafes against the structure and standards expected of him. Still, his new partner is stunning, so the whole thing might not be a total loss.

Entangled Publishing presents Fighting for Keeps by Seleste deLaney, newly released this month by its Ignite imprint (romantic suspense).

A lot of romantic suspense has difficulty towing the fine line between the two genres, which is understandable given that the reader expectations for each are about as opposite one another as standards for the horror and romance genres would be.

This book, though, manages to combine elements of each genre such that the result truly is exactly what is marketed: an unlikely romance between two opposite-ends-of-the-earth characters who are caught in the chaos of a wild case.

And that case turns out to be even wilder than at first glance; prepare for a positively otherworldly element of paranormal surprise.

The story features some of the most entertaining dialogue I've read in a long time, including comebacks and one-liners packed with snark and attitude, which makes for quick reading. Also increasing the pace (in keeping with the suspense genre) are the escalating stakes and conflicts the characters keep facing.

At center-stage in those conflicts is the dichotomy between Jodi, an experienced but slightly gun-shy agent who prefers working with predictable machinery to dealing with people, and Finn, her offbeat, unpredictable, rebellious counterpart, who refuses to be quantified or tied into his prescribed role. The tension between their respective personalities is unbelievably well drawn.

Open this work, and expect the unexpected from the very beginning.

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Author: Seleste deLaney
Title: Fighting for Keeps
Publisher: Entangled Publishing (Ignite)
ISBN: 978-1-63375-257-3
Purchase here:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the publisher via the Net Galley program in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Top Five: Best Writing-Related Articles from April 13-17

5. "What Kids Have Taught Me About Writing" on Writer Unboxed (Kathleen McCleary)


"Out of the mouths of babes" ... There's something to be said for the way children look at and interact with the world: an outlook full of curiosity, creativity, imagination, and wonder. What if you looked at and approached your writing the same way? What could you accomplish?

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4. "Top Takeaways from ProBlogger Perth Training Event: Content, Blog Design, Social Media, Productivity, and Monetization" on ProBlogger


Find the latest and most up-to-date tips and recommendations for your blog and/or website here. ProBlogger is an undisputed leader in the industry, and it's easy to see why: this post is packed with quick tips, insight, and guidance for improving many aspects of your online presence.

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3. "7 Pieces of Tech That Will Make You More Productive" on (Shelby Deering)


Attention, bloggers, writers, and freelancers ... if you're looking for apps and other easy-to-use technology to improve your productivity in your writing or your social media usage, you'll appreciate this post with its recommendations.

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2. "7 Ways to Reignite Your Creative Spark" on PR Daily (John Lanyon)


How do you break out of writer's block? What happens when your creativity dries up and your muse goes AWOL? Here are seven fresh ways, ranging from changing your environment to exercise (really? yes, really!), to get your imagination sparking again.

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1. "3 Reasons Why You Should Be Blogging" on Indie Reader (Rachel Thompson)


Maybe you're new to the idea of an author platform. Maybe you've been doing it for a while, but you're into Facebook and Twitter, and there just doesn't seem to be time to devote to anything else. Maybe you're overwhelmed by all the different means of building a platform, and you don't want to start something new. Give this post a read-through before you give up on the idea of blogging. It's truly one of the most useful means with which to reach readers.

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BONUS: "Value of the Creative Writing Degree Defended at the Comic-Con of MFAs" on The Guardian (Joanna Scutts)


There's been a debate raging for quite some time about whether MFA degrees are worthwhile or worthless, and the answers on both sides of the argument present valid stances. Here's yet another article that approaches the topic through the lens of the recent Comic-Con. Where do you stand?

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There's the lineup for last week in helpful articles. What caught your attention? What did I miss from other blogs and writers around the web?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Guest Post: An Honest Poem

Halfway through the month of April (give or take a couple of days) and I invite you to enjoy another original poem by award-winning short story author and poet Katharine Trupkiewicz.

Meanwhile, celebrate National Poetry Month in whatever way is most meaningful to you. Carry a poem in your pocket and reread it periodically. Check out a book of poetry by your favorite poet to read. Read poems to your kids at the breakfast or dinner table (I recommend Jack Prelutsky). Or try your hand at writing a poem. Remember the forms you learned in school: haiku, diamante, rhymed, non-rhymed ... ?

Read on here for Katharine's non-rhyming poem on the subject of honesty ... or the results of a situation in which someone chooses to be dishonest, instead.

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An Honest Poem

To be honest, I have
No idea what I ever
Saw in you. Having
Seen, from a distance,
What others saw up
Close, and tried to
Tell me ... I can't
Believe that I wasted
The time that I did on
You, moping and crying.

I should have known
Better than to expect
Honesty from you, after
All ... that isn't your MO.
The entire summer I spent,
Deliriously and happily
Being deceived. Refusing
To see the obvious signs
Of your dishonesty, the
Obvious signs of her.

And now that I have
Gotten out of that bad
Situation, I can see that
What you did to me was
Completely deceptive.
You led me astray, telling
Me lies, both blatantly and
Subtly. Why couldn't you
Just have manned up in the
Beginning and told the truth?

(Katharine A. Trupkiewicz, 2015)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Book Review: "The Truth About Jack" (Jody Gehrman)

Talented teenage artist Dakota McCloud receives two unexpected pieces of news on the same day. First, she's been accepted into the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, which has been a long-time dream of hers. Second, her best childhood friend and her boyfriend have been seeing one another behind her back, all the way across the country where they are away at school.

Devastated, Dakota pulls a desperate stunt in an attempt to make herself heard in her pain: she writes a letter, sticks it in a bottle, and throws the bottle in the ocean. When, days later, she receives a hand-written letter written by a young man from Barcelona, who turns out to be more romantic and desirable than she thought possible, she finds herself swept off her feet. Add in two other interested beaus, stateside, and life gets very complicated.

Meanwhile, Jack Sauvage, equally talented teen pianist recently accepted to Juilliard, has seen Dakota around. In fact, he happens on the beach where she throws her message-in-a-bottle into the ocean ... and when the bottle washes back up on shore after her departure, he picks it up, reads the letter, and decides he must learn more about this girl.

If she knew who he really was, though, she might not be interested in him ... so he devises a plan to write to her as a young man from Barcelona, intending to romance her and get to know more about her. The more he learns, though, the more he wants to know her in person ... and for her to know him as he really is.

The Truth About Jack is a sweet romance by Jody Gehrman, just released this month by Entangled Publishing's Teen Crush imprint.

The story is unexpected in more than one way. Dakota, for one, is an intriguing character, who makes sculptures out of things most people would consider garbage (sprockets, eyeglasses, chicken wire) and who grew up in an artist's colony, where (as a teenager) she currently maintains her own yurt near the one her father owns.

Having been motherless for the last five years ... or the better part of her teenage years ... she's a complicated mix of feminine self-assurance and innocent uncertainty, perhaps as a result of lacking an immediate female role model (although her community provides others for her) during the difficult formative years.

Jack, too, is someone to like: more the moody, brooding, darkly gifted one, with a not-so-stable relationship with his mother, in particular, who has pushed him so hard in his musical endeavors that he's reticent to pursue performance as a career. Something about Dakota --- perhaps her carefree lifestyle or imaginative artistry, or her simple kindness --- appeals to him.

The differences in their upbringings, families, and endeavors mirror those of the typical teenage couple these days admirably, which makes the sweet ending all the more satisfactory when Dakota and Jack build on what they do have in common: friendship, art, and understanding.

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Author: Jody Gehrman
Title: The Truth About Jack
ISBN: 978-1-63375-208-5
Purchase here:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Book Review: "Aimee and the Heartthrob" (Ophelia London)

What could possibly be better than having grown up tagging along after a boy who is now a member of the hottest boy band (Seconds to Juliet) in the country?

What about joining him (vicariously, perhaps) on tour?

Aimee Bingham is tired of being known only as her brother Nick's little sister, especially to Miles Carlisle, on whom she's always had a tremendous crush. Now that Miles is super-famous, Nick (as his best friend) is working on the tour, and Aimee's parents send her along for a two-week stint. She's determined that her crush on Miles is absolutely over.

Until she runs into him in person and he takes notice of her. He's still as hot and attractive as ever, and try as she might, her crush reawakens.

Miles would never have picked little Aimee Bingham out of a crowd or a lineup as his best friend's annoying little sister, the one who followed the boys around as they were growing up. Now, she's turned into a beauty ... one that Nick forbids Miles to get involved with.

How long will Miles be able to conceal his growing attraction for his best friend's little sister?

Entangled Publishing's Teen Crush imprint presents just-published Aimee and the Heartthrob, a sweet, sexy teen romance story by Ophelia London.

Aimee is a wholly believable teen girl, both exhilarated by her crush on Miles and mortified by its intensity. Her relationship with her brother Nick, her protector and defender (even when she hasn't asked for his interference ... er ... help), is refreshingly close and endearing, making the importance of family one of the more powerful themes in the book.

Other themes organic to the story line include peer pressure, attraction, love, romance, misunderstanding, betrayal, coming-of-age, and innocence, all neatly intertwined among the respective characters and their interests, personalities, motives, dreams, and desires.

Miles is a fascinating character whose presence in the story provides an intriguing glimpse into the chaotic, stressful, exciting life that a rising young star experiences on his (or her) way to the top. His camaraderie with his band mates and his best friend Nick rounds him out where he might otherwise have come across as a distant, talented musician with nothing but the tour to live for.

The heat level on this teen romance is appropriately sweet rather than scintillating. Readers will certainly feel the attraction between Miles and Aimee, but there is nothing graphic or lewd about what amounts to a charming young-love romance.

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Author: Ophelia London
Title: Aimee and the Heartthrob
ISBN: 978-1-63375-255-9
Purchase here:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Book Review: "Robin's Reward" (June McCrary Jacobs)

Robin Bennett, the librarian in small-town Bonita Creek and a master gardener, never expected life to change quite so dramatically and with very little warning.

It begins with Jeff Clarke, a recent addition to town whose career and motives are suspiciously unclear ... a concern that bothers Robin even as she finds herself attracted to him, especially when they make friends in the most unexpected way.

But when a jealous classmate from Robin's past targets her, and when Jeff's reason for being in town comes to light with shocking consequences, Robin begins to wonder if even her deep faith will sustain her.

Author June McCrary Jacobs presents Robin's Reward, book one in the Bonita Creek Trilogy, to be released later this month. The work is a sweet, small-town Christian romance, with all the earmarks of the genre, including clean content (no curse words, no violence, and nothing inordinately sexual, unless you count a couple of kisses) and the traditional happily-ever-after (HEA) ending.

(But you'll have to read the work to find out what that HEA looks like, in practice!)

Also reassuring for the genre standards is the faith-based content, with the town pastor playing a sizable role in the story, as well as the characters' own faith journeys, respectively and together. Christian fiction has never shied away from things like saying grace at meals, prayer in moments of crisis, thanksgiving, worship, and other like topics, and McCrary Jacobs's work is no exception.

As an example of traditional Christian fiction, such as that published in decades past by authors like Janette Oke, the book meets the aforementioned expectations organically and without surprise, and readers who prefer that genre may be content with the offering.

Stacked against other contemporary published fiction in general, however, the work falls flat to a degree, with what readers who are not necessarily Christians will likely see as relatively two-dimensional characters, not enough plot beyond a few weak misunderstandings, a fair amount of preaching, and a wholly unbelievable "villain" whose motives are never fully rounded out.

Additionally, the work is less showing (fleshed-out scenes with plenty of dialogue and character actions) and more telling (summary, flashback, internal monologue) which makes for a dragging pace and the feel that "not enough is happening."

Still, if you enjoyed the more documentary-style (as opposed to plot-driven) approach to writing taken by Laura Ingalls Wilder in her Little House on the Prairie series, you'll likely appreciate Robin's Reward for similar reasons.

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Author: June McCrary-Jacobs
Title: Robin's Reward
Series: Bonita Creek Trilogy (#1)
Purchase at Amazon:
Purchase at Barnes and Noble:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the author in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Top Five: Best Writing-Related Articles from April 6-10

5. "Words at Play: Words We Re-Learned at TED2015" on


Do you know the meanings of these words: empathy, compassion, creativity? It's easy to believe you've got a grasp on their denotative meanings (exact definitions) ... but what if each word actually means more than what you think it means (and we're talking even beyond connotations)? Check out this fascinating post to find out more!

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4. "Do I Need an Editor?" on Just Publishing (Carly Bornstein)


If you're self-publishing a book, it's easier than ever to just write it and upload it for readers. Why wait? After all, you went the independent publishing route for more than one reason, probably in part because the process takes way less time than going the traditional route (including acquisition, editing, formatting, publicity, and more). But what if you're overlooking a critical step in the process that applies universally to both traditional and independent authors? Find out here why you owe it to yourself to get your book edited.

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3. "How to Prepare Your Book for Publishing" on Savvy Book Writers 


Another gem for self-published authors, this post covers the basics you'll need to know to format your book successfully for publication. For example, how many characters should the title of your book be? Fewer than ...? This post explains.

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2. "7 Free Tools to Attract Readers to Your Blog" on PR Daily (Stephanie Vermillion)


Building your platform requires accruing readers and followers, not just publishing excellent content (unfortunately). Here are seven entirely free and user-friendly (bonus!) tools you can use to expand keywords and ensure that your reader numbers multiply.

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1. "How to Build Your Personal Brand" on (Kerry Butters)


You've heard about building a personal brand, developing something for which you are "known" by readers, colleagues, and other industry professionals. What practical steps can you take to build one? Here's a thorough, approachable post that will walk you through just that process.

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And that's the lineup for last week, ladies and gentleman. What was most helpful to you? What was least helpful? What surprised you? Why?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Guest Post: A Departure Poem

Welcome back Katharine Trupkiewicz, award-winning author of short stories and gifted poet, as we celebrate National Poetry Month. (For more ways to celebrate, check out this article from the Academy of American Poets.)

Today's poem is another free-form, non-rhyming poem (perhaps you're seeing a trend) on the theme of departure. Note her consistent use of the words "to" and "time" to tie the other lines together.

A Departure Poem

A thousand details to
See to. Way too much
To do and not enough
Time to do it in. Time
Ticks away as the set
Departure time quickly
Approaches, but the to-
Do list grows ever longer.
The trip will be worth it,
But until departure time
Comes, insanity reigns.

(Katharine A. Trupkiewicz, 2015)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Book Review: "First Encounters" (Charming Man)

There's something inordinately sexy about happening upon a total stranger and being struck, perhaps simultaneously, perhaps individually, by an attraction (or lust, if you prefer) powerful enough to warrant action.

That, in a nutshell, is the premise of First Encounters by Charming Man. Newly published, this short story collection features six scintillating works sure to interest, particularly if you're the voyeur type.

The first story in the collection, "Night Vision," recounts a dreamlike rendezvous between a young man and a ghostly woman who visits him in the night.

A "Beach Encounter" takes place when a young man happens upon a woman sunning herself in the nude and things take a turn toward the steamy.

In "Mid Air Collusion," a longer work, two strangers sitting together on a long flight exchange sexy stories, both completely true and each with the sole purpose of turning on the other.

"Ariana" is a girl at a finishing school who accidentally discovers that the headmaster is attracted to her, and uses that to her full advantage to keep herself from being punished for her obstinacy in classes.

A young man finds himself in the midst of "A Greek Tragedy" when he travels to the Greek Isles and finds himself enticed and seduced by a woman whose name he never learns.

Finally, in another longer story, "The Hitcher" turns out to be a young woman with plenty of snark in her attitude, whom a young man picks up and then can't (or perhaps doesn't want to) get rid of.

Each story is thoughtfully rendered, an amazing feat for a compilation of pure erotica, with beautifully rendered settings (especially in "A Greek Tragedy") and each character carefully drawn as an individual. Clearly, Charming Man did not feel the need (thankfully) to draw on stock characters and stereotypes to convey the steamy stories he presents.

For those of you easily shocked or just not interested in graphic sexual content, please find another work to read, as this one won't fit your needs. For those who don't mind their erotica edgy and unexpected, First Encounters will more than suffice.

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Author: Charming Man
Title: First Encounters
ISBN: 978-1505392937
Purchase here:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the author in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Book Review: "Once Upon a Dare" (Jennifer Bonds)

Imagine that something for which you've worked and slaved almost your entire life, and have been all but guaranteed that you'll receive ... goes to someone else.

Now imagine that that "someone else" turns out to be the man with whom you had a flaming one-night stand, but only after a friend dared you to do so.

You'll be able to sympathize, then, with Olivia Masterson, whose stellar advertising career was just about to result in her being offered a partnership at her place of work, when she receives news that backhands her with the size of the betrayal: Cole Bennett, recent transplant to New York from London and an extraordinarily talented and exacting businessman, has been offered her partnership. Which he accepts.

If only she hadn't accepted her friend's dare to seduce him in a bar just days earlier. And if only their night together hadn't been so steamy and fulfilling, especially after the dry spell through which she voluntarily put herself as she worked her way up the corporate ladder.

Now, Cole is her boss, and she refuses to be known (again) as the woman who slept her way to the top ... though the sparks between them continue to fly.

Entangled Publishing's Brazen imprint presents the erotic romance Once Upon a Dare by Jennifer Bonds, newly released just this month.

Olivia is an excellent representation of the driven working woman, flouting relationships, hobbies, personal interests, and anything else that might interfere even fractionally with the high-powered career she wants for herself. Who among us hasn't gone after something with -impassioned dedication, especially (as in Olivia's case) to prove herself (to herself and -everyone else) that she's "not just another pretty face"?

When Cole happens on the scene, as deft in the bedroom as he is in the office, Olivia immediately feels threatened by what he represents: the alpha male, a control freak who knows precisely what he wants in every facet of life and won't back down from a fight. As her foil, her opposite, and nearly (for the majority of the book) her only antagonist, Cole fits the mold with excellence, showcasing Olivia's obsession with her work and her single-minded devotion to achieving success without help from anyone or anything else (thank you very much).

The Brazen imprint is usually so hot with sexual tension and intimate lovemaking that the very pages steam. This time around, though, the heat level was a bit of a disappointment, with sex scenes that felt rushed and forced rather than extrapolated and enjoyed. There's no denying the attraction between Olivia and Cole, in theory, but putting it into practice on the page falls short.

The book also struggles with being "wordy," for lack of a better term. There's far less dialogue than usual between the characters, and much more internal ruminating, reminiscing, remembering, and pondering, along with more summarized back story than is necessary for the immediate story to make sense. All of that tends to slow the forward momentum of the work.

A tamer Brazen title, Once Upon a Dare nonetheless features an office romance that, refreshingly, doesn't turn out the way you might predict.

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Author: Jennifer Bonds
Title: Once Upon a Dare
Publisher: Entangled Publishing (Brazen)
ISBN: 978-1-63375-253-5
Purchase here:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Book Review: "The Irish Born Trilogy" (Nora Roberts)

Nora Roberts is perhaps the best-known romance author of our times. She has dozens of books to her credit, ranging from romantic suspense to contemporary romance.

One of the reasons she is so beloved an author is that she immerses herself in the subject matter about which she writes for each book and series. With Carolina Moon and Midnight Bayou, for instance, she delved into the Deep South and all the cultural and social mores associated therewith. In her In the Garden Trilogy, featuring Blue Dahlia, Black Rose, and Red Lily, she wrote about several aspects of the wedding planning industry.

Allow me, then, to introduce to you an epic trilogy set in the green wilds of Ireland, featuring the sweeping romances of three women: The Irish Born Trilogy.

First in the series is Born in Fire, whose heroine is a fiery Irish artist in intricate glass work and whose counterpart is the level-headed businessman looking to work around her reclusive nature and bring her artwork into his galleries.

The second book in the series, Born in Ice, follows the romance of a reserved, courteous innkeeper lady and the temperamental, creative author who reserves room, long-term, in her bed-and-breakfast to get his novel written.

Finally, the series concludes with Born in Shame, with an American woman who had no idea she had an Irish heritage and an Irish-born and -bred farmer who has known her almost his entire life ... through dreams.

Written with all the sensuous passion that is one of Roberts's trademarks, the trilogy is composed of one of the most varied and intricately woven cast of characters I've seen. The Irish landscape she describes is so real you can feel the damp air around you as you read.

And the mannerisms of the Irish --- their endearingly welcoming outlook, the tendency they have to curse every other word, their love of the land and the country, the pub as the central meeting point in town --- are so vividly and accurately portrayed, it's as though Roberts hails from Ireland, herself.

If you like your romances seamlessly well-researched, refreshingly unpredictable, and with a smoldering but not overly explicit heat level, The Irish Born Trilogy would be an excellent series to add to your collection.

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Author: Nora Roberts
Title: Born in Fire (#1)
Series: The Irish Born Trilogy
ISBN: 978-0-425-26609-0
Purchase here:

Title: Born in Ice (#2)
Series: The Irish Born Trilogy
ISBN: 978-0-425-26610-6
Purchase here:

Title: Born in Shame (#3)
Series: The Irish Born Trilogy
ISBN: 978-0-425-26611-3
Purchase here:

Disclaimer: The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Top Five: Best Writing-Related Articles from March 30-April 3

5. "How to Get a Million Visitors to Your Website: Part 1" on (Mike Cernovich)


Static websites and blogs (where next to nothing is posted on a consistent basis) will never garner you the following you need to get Google and other search engines to notice you, much less list your site or blog for applicable keyword searches. Check out this post to find out how one blogger upped his audience ... just by posting more often.

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4. "The Intimate Dissection of a Novel" on Original Bunker Punks (Beth Teliho)


This post is a semi-tongue-in-cheek timeline of how the average writer goes from idea to published novel, with all the angst and self-doubt in between. A humorous read to begin your week!

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3. "Use Good Words, Not Bad Ones" on The Economist


A relatively brief but very well-written opinion piece presenting the other side of the argument, in true "devil's advocate" form, on why verbs and nouns have so long been considered "good" writing words and adjectives and adverbs bad ones. Your thoughts on the age-old debate?

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2. "How to Promote Your Website with Guerrilla Marketing" on


There are dozens of different marketing opportunities and tools these days. Have you heard about guerrilla marketing? This post defines it, analyzes its usefulness, and gives you the overall inside scoop on an up-and-coming phenomenon.

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1. "2015 April PAD Challenge: Tips" on Poetic Asides via Writer's Digest (Robert Lee Brewer)


April is National Poetry Month, and Robert Lee Brewer with Writer's Digest runs a poem-a-day challenge this month. Celebrate poetry ... try your hand at writing it! Think inspirational prompts, the chance to write every day, and an already-extant community for support. Can't get better!

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There's the lineup for last week. What do you like best?

Friday, April 3, 2015

Guest Post: A Resistance Poem

The whole of April is National Poetry Month! (It's also National Autism Awareness Month, and National Child Abuse Awareness Month, among other things.)

For those of you who poem (yes, it's a verb in my world) I highly encourage you to check out Robert Lee Brewer's "Poem a Day Challenge" for this month, through Writer's Digest. Each day of the month, he posts a poetry prompt. It's a fantastic way to get into a routine of writing every day, and an excellent means with which to test out poetry to see whether you'd like to dabble more in that genre.

Every Friday this month, then, I'm turning over my post to my sister, Katharine. She's an award-winning author of short stories, an up-and-coming poet, and a passionate advocate for children with autism and other special needs. I'm featuring one of her original poems every Friday this month to celebrate poetry.


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Today's is a free-form, non-rhyming poem with a surprise twist at the end. Read on ... 

A Resistance Poem

Every step of the way
You fight me. Refusing
To allow either of us to
Get hurt, I grimly hang
On as you resist me.

You are fighting so very
Desperately for freedom,
Yet -- I resist the obvious
Temptation to let you go.
You continue to fight.

I respect your tenacity, as
You continuously resist my
Strong arms and try to flee
Me to your supposed safety.
I can't let you go on like this.

I know you'll hate me for it,
But in the end, maybe, just
Maybe, you'll come to thank
Me for not allowing you to
Win this power struggle.

And someday, I know that
You will learn to comply
With my requests, to stop
Resisting the urge to fight me,
And sit in your spot at circle.

(Katharine A. Trupkiewicz, 2015)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Book Review: "The Paleo Chef" (Pete Evans)

U.S. News & World Report recently published its "Best Diets 2015," in which the thirty-five most popular diets have been evaluated against to a set criteria and then ranked accordingly, not only overall but also within categories like "Best Heart-Healthy Diet" and "Best Plant-Based Diets."

Perhaps it seems counter-intuitive to review a paleo diet cookbook, given that the aforementioned report ranked the paleo diet dead last out of the thirty-five diets analyzed (for a number of reasons, all available on the website).

On the other hand, the paleo diet is often called more of a lifestyle choice by its proponents, and given that it is a more recently developed diet than others (like Atkins, which has been around for decades) and that some people feel appreciably better while on the diet, perhaps despite the stance of the scientific community, maybe there is simply not enough information about paleo to start relegating it to the bottom of the pile just yet.

If asked, Pete Evans, author of The Paleo Chef: Quick, Flavorful Paleo Meals for Eating Well, would no doubt eschew the "Best Diets 2015" findings and stick with what he can personally attest to being most effective for him.

The work is mainly a cookbook, providing dozens of easy-to-follow recipes from appetizers and breakfast to main dishes and (yes, they exist on the diet) desserts in paleo-friendly format with (usually) relatively common ingredients (although you may have to scour your store to find gluten-free or wheat-free versions of things you used to buy without thinking about it).

The Paleo Chef plays up the foods that characterize the paleo diet most famously, including seafood, poultry, and fresh fruits and vegetables, with extravagant-sounding (but again, easy to make) recipes for salads, stir-fries, snacks, smoothies, and more.

In the back of the book, the "Basics" section features complete recipes for paleo-friendly versions of everyday ingredients for which you might not find ready equivalents in your local grocery store. These recipes include chicken stock, mayonnaise (yes, it can be made paleo-friendly), chocolate sauce, and nut cheeses (you'll have to check them out to believe them).

The book contains not only recipes but also extensive front matter in which author Evans discusses ingredients to use and avoid, the paleo lifestyle as a whole, and his own testimony. These sections are dense with information without being judgmental or condescending, as Evans readily admits that what works for him on the diet might not work for everyone.

Finally, what sold me on the book, actually, were the quick, conversational anecdotes that precede each and every recipe. The clips include guidance about the ingredients in each recipe, extra tidbits of useful and fascinating information that make the diet seem more like an adventure than a chore, and glimpses into Evans's personal life and experiences, all of which together serve to provide credibility to the work.

If you or a loved one is interested in learning more about the paleo diet and lifestyle, I highly encourage you to check out The Paleo Chef as an excellent resource on the basics.

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Author: Pete Evans
Title: The Paleo Chef
ISBN: 978-1-60774-743-7
Purchase here:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Book Review: "Seducing Cinderella" (Gina L. Maxwell)

Physical therapist Lucie Miller has a relatively serious problem: the coworker she's had a crush on for what feels like forever doesn't seem to know she exists beyond a casual exchange of client information. When he asks her for her best friend's phone number, in a move so entirely oblivious to Lucie's feelings that she can hardly believe it, she finds herself vulnerable to other options.

Like letting her older brother's best friend and her new therapy client, light-heavyweight fighter Reid Andrews, give her lessons in how to seduce a man.

Reid isn't getting nothing out of the deal, though. He's undoubtedly attracted to Lucie, but more than that, she's his ticket to healing a shoulder injury that could keep him out of his next scheduled games, which are all he's living for ... at least, at first. The more time he spends with Lucie, however, the clearer the attraction between them, and the less likely it is that either will be able to walk away at the end of their deal unscathed.

Entangled Publishing's Brazen imprint presents Seducing Cinderella, a heady erotic romance by Gina L. Maxwell. The sexual content aside (just for a second --- promise), the romance that develops between Lucie and Reid during the course of the story is realistically rendered and very sweet, enough to make any woman sigh with longing.

And then there's the sex.

If you like your heroines a little innocent, in need of personalized attention from a more experienced lover ... and if you like your heroes heavy on the dirty pillow talk ... and a mutual attraction that roars between them and threatens to set the pages of the book on fire as you read, you'll need to get your hands on a copy of this one.

"Singed" won't begin to describe how you feel when you're finished reading (or consuming) it.

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Author: Gina L. Maxwell
Title: Seducing Cinderella
ISBN: 978-1-62266-949-3
Purchase here:

Disclaimer: The opinions I have expressed are my own.