Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday Series Spotlight: The Puddletown Mysteries by Kate Aaron

The Dead Past #1
Runner Up: Rainbow Awards 2014 Best Gay Historical Romance

Puddledown, England

The year is 1948, the war is over and the evacuees have gone home, although rationing continues. For Hugo Wainwright, who escaped conscription and never had to fight for his country, very little has changed. He lives a quiet life away from the big cities, knowing his desires for other men will lead to disaster if he ever acts on them.

Tommy Granger spent his service on the battlefields of France. He experienced it all: the bloody horrors of war, and the chaos of Dunkirk. Finding employment as groundskeeper in the woods on the outskirts of Puddledown, he lives in solitude, trying to forget all the terrible things he’s seen.

When Hugo stumbles over a body not far from Tommy’s cabin, both men’s lives change forever. There’s a killer in the woods, and the townsfolk are sure Tommy is the culprit. Can Hugo unmask the murderer and prove the innocence of the man he’s falling for, or are the deadly consequences of Tommy’s past about to catch up to him and separate the two men forever?

This has been on my Kindle for the past year or more and I'm afraid to say, forgotten.  Then, I won a ebook of my choosing by Kate Aaron through Diverse Reader blog and I chose #2 of the Puddletown Mysteries.  So I finished what I was reading and jumped in!  Hugo had my heart from the very beginning.  He is so self tortured over his desires and understandably so considering it's 1948.  When we meet Tommy, he too found his way into my heart and it was pretty obvious where the pair was headed but it was most definitely not an easy road.  Throw in the murders and the cops with their determination to find Tommy guilty and this book had me riveted.


The Coward's Way #2
Two months after the discovery of a murderer in their midst, life for the inhabitants of Puddledown has settled back to normal for everybody except Hugo Wainwright. Having accepted his feelings for groundskeeper Tommy Granger, for Hugo, everything has changed.

Hugo wants nothing more than to make his friend happy, but the voices in his head won't let him. If he can't bring himself to tell Tommy he's having nightmares about the evening the killer came for him, how can he possibly explain the panic he feels every time Tommy tries to take their fledgling relationship further?

When the local Viscount's daughter goes missing after a ball from which Hugo and Tommy were the only guests to leave early, suspicion falls firmly on them. But the police inspector isn't the only one keeping a close eye on the cabin in the woods, and as the net closes, Hugo has a decision to make. Will he be brave, or will he take the coward's way out?

I love the continuation of Hugo and Tommy's relationship in this second installment.  It's real, believable, and completely keeping in character.  The mystery is pretty easy to figure out but then I think it was suppose to be.  It's not so much the mystery as a "mystery" as it is how it relates to Hugo and Tommy's relationship and how they move forward.  When I started The Dead Past, I was kicking myself for waiting so long to read it, then I realized at least I was able to go directly into The Coward's Way, but while putting this post together I seen there is going to be a third one later this year.  Now, I'm torn between kicking myself with the left foot for waiting to start and kicking myself with my right foot for not waiting till the third one is closer at hand.  Who am I kidding? I'm glad I read them now and the anticipation while waiting for number 3 will only enhance the pleasure when it arrives.


The Dead Past
The forest was quiet, many of the songbirds having left already for warmer climes, and those that remained were no doubt silently watching Hugo stride past, the hard ground crunching under his stout boots, his breath swirling in smoky plumes around him. Hugo liked to be fit. A pudgy child, for whom sports had been a torment, he had walked and run off the puppy fat in these very woods, and listened with horror to his mother’s tales of life in London, where she had lived for a spell with his papa, a city so steeped in dirt and sin that to tread its streets was to invite robbery. One stepped outside clean and glowing but returned black and grey with soot and smoke.

He rarely walked through the woods these days—in hunting season it wasn’t safe, for a start—but he enjoyed the tranquillity on this fine, misty morning, the way the fog shrouded the path and made it seem as though he was the only soul alive and abroad, sauntering through a landscape of shadowy ghosts.

Hugo popped a mint into his mouth, enjoying the sharp burst of flavour and the hard clack of the sweet against his teeth. He whistled a few tuneless notes for the sake of hearing them flatten and fade in the dead air.

A splash of colour on the ground between the trees caught his eye, and he paused, looking carefully at the spot. A reddish smear on a trunk just off the path, that he would have dismissed as a discolouration of the bark were it not for the blue and white paisley pattern of a scrap of material lying sodden on the hard earth beyond it, jumped out at him. Crunching the mint nervously, Hugo stepped off the path, startling as a twig cracked underfoot, the sound like a gunshot, shattering the silence of the woodland.

He paused, listening. The hairs on the back of his neck rose, his palms sweating. He rubbed them against his corduroy trousers. It was a scrap of material, he reasoned as he continued his approach through the eerily silent forest, his skin crawling as he imagined a thousand eyes upon him.

He saw the hand first. Bone-white with blue blotches, fingers clawed, the nails seeming freakishly long and inhuman. It was a small hand, Hugo noted, feeling oddly detached. It was like the whole world slowed and tilted sideways and, if asked later, Hugo would say it was as though he didn’t inhabit his body in that moment but was above it, floating somewhere in the bare canopy of the tree branches, looking down on himself as he looked down on that hand.

The hand was attached to an arm, clad in a tweed overcoat which seemed too big and bulky for the frail form it contained, and the arm led to a body: a small body, light, contorted at the oddest angles, like a broken, discarded doll. The paisley was a headscarf, Hugo now saw, hanging in tatters around a face frozen in the rictus of death, its mouth open in a final, eternal scream.

Hugo’s gorge rose and he staggered back, a shaking hand over his mouth as his stomach heaved, sending him into a fit of dry retches. He stood trembling for long moments, trying to calm his thundering heart and queasy gut while his brain pieced together what he had seen.

A blue eye, cloudy with cataracts, glazed and fixed in wide astonishment. A lined face, elderly, skin which in life would have been papery and marbled with bluish veins now chalk-white and waxy. Long wisps of grey hair, threaded with silver. A bun, perhaps, untangled in a struggle. For surely there must have been a struggle. The old woman had not come to these lonely woods to die, of that Hugo was certain. Scratches on her exposed wrist, the torn headscarf, and the ugly, gaping wound in her chest attested to the fact her death had been a violent one.

Hugo had only seen one dead body before. His mama had passed badly enough, taken by a fever which produced hot and cold sweats, shakes, and a hacking cough. For day after endless day, Hugo had watched her disintegrate before him, one piece of flaking skin, one gob of mucus at a time, until there was nothing left but an empty husk and a death-rattle which seemed to go on and on.

Yes, his mama’s death had been bad enough, but nothing compared with how this woman had met her grisly end.

Moved now by empathy—for the body had once been alive, and not so long ago: someone’s friend, or wife, or mother—Hugo approached again, fighting down the rising tide of nausea from his roiling stomach. He knew very little about death, about the decomposition of the human body, but the corpse was intact and seemed frozen stiff, although as a result of rigor mortis or simply a night exposed to the elements in the wintry woods, Hugo couldn’t tell.

He should get help, he realised. There was a small police station in the town. One of the local constables could take over, could offer Hugo a soothing cup of sweet tea and ask clipped, businesslike questions about the discovery.

A fresh panic overcame Hugo as he realised he hadn’t worn his wristwatch, didn’t even know what time it was. What would he say when the constable asked him the simplest of questions? What would they think when he didn’t know the answers? Would he look guilty? And what if—Heaven forbid—he ran all the way to the town, brought the constable back to the woods, and couldn’t find the body again? The pathway had few distinguishing features, the bare forest like a warren, a maze of never changing scenery. How would he ever find this exact spot again?
Hugo took a deep breath, trying to calm himself. He was an intelligent man, a sensible man. The logical thing would be to leave a marker on the path so he could be sure of the location. If only he had worn his woollen scarf! He fumbled in his pockets, groping for anything which could be of use. He thumbed a large copper penny, the old notion of placing coins over a corpse’s eyes to pay the ferryman occurring to him. The stuff of superstition, of course, and besides, he couldn’t touch the body. Hugo at least knew that.

He was still fumbling in his pockets when the silence of the forest was broken by a slow scraping sound. Hugo froze, all the hairs on the back of his neck rising once more, listening as the strangely metallic scrape, scrape moved closer.

Palms slicked with cold and nervous sweat, Hugo took short, shallow breaths, and hoped the thunder of his heart was not audible through his sensible layers of winter woollens and overcoat. The sound moved closer, an irregular, unearthly thing, and Hugo’s imagination ran riot, conjuring the shining sickle of Death himself, scratching a path through the bare branches of the trees.

The mist swirled through the woods in a confounding eddy of movement and shadow, separating here to reveal only the silent, unmoving trees, and thickening there to the density of a body, a misshapen body, dark and malevolent. And still the sound came closer.

A swirl of fog to Hugo’s right made him start, half-turned towards the path to flee, an alarmed cry lodged deep in his throat. At the last instant he recovered, recalled that grown men didn’t scream and run from imaginary terrors, and held his ground, hypnotised by the darkening shadow of a figure, grotesquely outlined by a shaft of sunlight streaming through the canopy behind it.

The shadow moved closer until Hugo could discern the shape of a man about his own height, maybe an inch or two shorter. Not a big man at all. Slim of frame, although broad in the shoulders, their breadth emphasised by the square cut of a thick wax jacket edged in leather. The man wore a dark cap pulled low over his face so all that was visible to Hugo was a granite jaw peppered with two or three days’ growth. His hands were surprisingly slender, the fingers long and almost delicate, although roughened and calloused, tobacco-yellowed, and blotchy red in the cold air.

The scraping sound, Hugo now saw, was caused by a shovel the man dragged carelessly, bumping and catching at the sparse undergrowth and the hard-packed ground. It slid over an exposed rock and there—scraaaape—was the sound which had caused Hugo’s heart to thunder so. But the man also dragged something else, something even more terrible than a shovel in the woods on a cold October morning, for in the same hand as the shovel he gripped the drawstring of a hessian sack, seeping and stained with blood.

Hugo’s terror rose to fever pitch as the figure advanced towards him—towards the body hidden in the cold, lonely woods, where nobody ever went—and just as Hugo was about to pass out or run, the man looked up, paralysing him with his black-eyed stare, with eyes as black as sin.

Author Bio:
Kate Aaron lives in Cheshire, England with two dogs, a parrot, and a bearded dragon named Elvis.

She has the best of friends, the worst of enemies, and a mischievous muse with a passion for storytelling that doesn't know the difference between fact and fiction.

She holds a BA (Hons) in English Language and Literature, and an MA in Gender, Sexuality and Culture, and is an outspoken advocate for equal rights. When not hitting the campaign trail or doting slavishly on Elvis, she does what she does best – writes about men in love.


The Dead Past #1

The Coward's Way #1

Cover Reveal: Coming Home by MD Cruz

Title: Coming Home
Author: M.D. Cruz
Series: Coming Home #1
Release Date: Summer 2015
Genres: New Adult, Romance
Cover Design: Mae I Design
Lexie was a teenager who thought she’d found real love in Elijah. Things were perfect until he left for football camp, and never came back. Thinking he’s dumped her she has no choice but to go on with her life. Now six years later they come face to face at a club. Lexie wants to be mad and  hate him for breaking her heart, but Elijah is making it hard for her to hate the now man she’s been in love with since high school.

Elijah wasn’t expecting to see Lexie his first night back in town. When he sees her and memories of what used to be come knocking at his heart, he can’t help but follow after her. He comes face to face with a pissed off Lexie, and is set on making sure he does everything in his power to win her back. He has to convince her that what she thinks happened is not the truth.

Can they both be together again when trust is an issue? When secrets from the past catch up with both of them in the present, can their love truly conquer all?

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Cover Reveal: Jaded by Desire by Desiree A Cox

Title: Jaded by Desire
Author: Desiree A. Cox
Series: Lust, Desire and Love Trilogy, Book 2
Genre: Erotic Romance
Release Date: March 28, 2015
Nikki's life was changing. She was in love, she was getting married and she was going to have the baby that she never expected she'd have.

Everything was perfect.

Or was it?

Everyone has secrets, those hidden parts of our past we don't ever want  to be discovered.

Nikki and Jeff's love will be tested.  Is their love strong enough to survive the secrets that come out?

Author Bio:
Desiree was born and raised in Iowa.

She married her high school sweetheart and moved to the Philadelphia area after high school and has been happily married for over twenty-five years. She’s the mother of two sons and a daughter.

She writes Erotica and is looking to expand into the thriller/suspense genre in the near future.

Desiree enjoys family time, traveling and spending time at the beach.

Her debut book is Twisted By Desire.


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Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday's Film Adaptions: Still Alice by Lisa Genova

She didn’t want to become someone people avoided and feared. She wanted to live to hold Anna’s baby and know it was her grandchild. She wanted to see Lydia act in something she was proud of. She wanted to see Tom fall in love. She wanted to read every book she could before she could no longer read.

Alice Howland is proud of the life she has worked so hard to build. A Harvard professor, she has a successful husband and three grown children. When Alice begins to grow forgetful at first she just dismisses it, but when she gets lost in her own neighborhood she realizes that something is terribly wrong. Alice finds herself in the rapid downward spiral of Alzheimer’s disease. She is only 50 years old.

While Alice once placed her worth and identity in her celebrated and respected academic life, now she must re-evaluate her relationship with her husband, her expectations of her children and her ideas about herself and her place in the world.

Losing her yesterdays, her short-term memory hanging on by a couple of frayed threads, she is living in the moment, living for each day. But she is still Alice.

Still Alice is as compelling as A Beautiful Mind and as powerful as Ordinary People. You will gain an understanding of those affected by early-onset Alzheimer’s and remain moved and inspired long after you have put it down.

Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children, is a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words. When she receives a devastating diagnosis, Alice and her family find their bonds tested.
Release dates:
September 8, 2014 (TIFF- Toronto International Film Festival)
December 5, 2014 (United States)
Running time: 101 minutes
Julianne Moore as Alice Howland
Alec Baldwin as John Howland
Kristen Stewart as Lydia Howland
Kate Bosworth as Anna Howland-Jones
Hunter Parrish as Tom Howland
Shane McRae as Charlie Jones
Stephen Kunken as Benjamin
Victoria Cartagena as Professor Hooper
Seth Gilliam as Frederic Johnson
Daniel Gerroll as Eric Wellman
Erin Darke as Jenny
Kristin Macomber as Anne
Caridad Montanez as Elena


Today Show:


Oscar Acceptance Speech: 

Author Bio:
I'm a Harvard-trained Neuroscientist, a Meisner-trained actress, and an entirely untrained writer!

My first novel, STILL ALICE, winner of the 2008 Bronte Prize, nominated for 2010 Indies Choice Debut Book of the Year by the American Booksellers Association, and winner of the 2011 Bexley Book of the Year Award spent over 40 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. It has been translated into 25 languages and was chosen as one of the thirty titles for World Book Night 2013.

Originally self-published, I sold it out of the trunk of my car for almost a year before it was bought at auction by Simon & Schuster.

LEFT NEGLECTED, also a New York Times Bestseller, was a #1 Indie Next Pick, the Borders “Book You’ll Love” for January 2011, and the #4 Indie Reading Group Pick for summer 2011, and a Richard & Judy Book Club Pick.

LOVE ANTHONY, also a New York Times bestseller, is about autism. It was an October 2012 Indie Next pick and a People Magazine Great Read. USA Today calls it “beautifully written and poignant to the point of heartbreak.”

"After I read STILL ALICE I wanted to stand up and tell a train full of strangers, YOU HAVE TO GET THIS BOOK." - Beverly Beckham, Boston Sunday Globe

“Lisa Genova is the Michael Crichton of brain science. What she proved with STILL ALICE, she proves again with LEFT NEGLECTED. This is huge, powerful human drama at its elegant best." -Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean




Electrify Me by Bibi Rizer

Title: Electrify Me
Author: Bibi Rizer
Series: Fireworks #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: December 24, 2014
All Gloria Falcon wants is to have a nice New Year’s Eve with a nice man. Is that so much to ask?  But after seven disastrous New Years in a row, this year she’s trying something different. Committed to spending her New Year’s Eve manning the phones at a suicide crisis phone line, Gloria is sure the karma she earns will break her New Year’s curse. But when a blackout cancels her night of philanthropy, rather than spend the night moping in the dark, she goes on a ride along with the cute linesman who failed to fix the power.

Charlie Zhang is not much of a New Year believer either. He’s coasting through life after being discharged from the army and trying not to let his cynicism of pretty much everything define him. When Gloria Falcon climbs into Charlie’s life, and his repair truck, neither of them expect this to be the New Year’s Eve that changes their minds, and their fate, forever.

     We look at each other and I know I have a stupid smile on my face. I’m sure it’s one of those smiles that says: “if you so much as compliment my handwriting I will suck your cock until you beg for mercy” but I don’t care. Charlie just smiles back at me.
     And smiles back.
     And smiles back.
     My friend Amy told me about this mythical creature once:   the “wants-you-to-make-the-first-move guy”. She says they’re mostly to be found in Canada, but occasionally you might encounter one south of the border. Amy says if you meet one you might assume you should approach it quietly, gently, like you might try to hand feed a wild deer, but in fact the opposite is true. Apparently you need to be aggressive with them. You need to take control of the situation and not give them a chance to ruin things with their manners and courtesy. Amy says when it comes to men, manners and courtesy are only a short taxi ride away from apathy. And nothing kills a night of hot sex faster than male apathy. It’s like anti-viagra.
     I can’t quite believe it, but I think I have found myself a honest to goodness wants-you-to-make-the-first-move guy.
     “Are you Canadian?” I ask. I just need to confirm he’s the genuine creature.
     “My mother is. How did you know?”
     I don’t answer. I grab him by the front of his blue work shirt and pull him forward into a kiss.
     For a courteous guy, he kisses like a god. After only a second’s shocked hesitation, he wraps his hands around my back and pulls me across the center console until I’m practically in his lap, the gear shift jamming into my hip. He slides one hand into my hair and one, oddly, down my leg to rest on the top of my boot. His thumb does little maddening circles over my tights. Our tongues touch – he’s a little tentative at first, but after a second he’s holding my head so tightly, pressing our mouths together so firmly that I couldn’t escape even if I wanted to.
     And I don’t want to.
     He tastes like strawberry smoothie and it’s a revelation. I realize that I’ve never kissed a guy who didn’t taste like liquor or smoke. Often both. Kissing Charlie feels healthy. Nutritious even. As though I’m getting vitamins and minerals and will wake up with thicker shinier hair and skin that’s 25% more luminous.
     He slides the boot hand up around my ass and moves me again, but this time the steering wheel crams into my back. I make a strangled noise.
     “What?” he says.
     “Steering wheel. Spine. Pain.” I manage.
     Charlie feels around the side of the seat for a second. There’s a loud click and the backrest falls so quickly that we’re both practically catapulted into the back seat.
     “Sorry,” he says, helping me clamber into the back beside him. We kiss some more, as somewhere, from one of the boats, the music from Frozenis playing. I pull back an inch and look into his dark brown eyes.
     “Do you have a condom?” I say.
     Safety Girl. That’s me

1.   What is the biggest influence/interest that brought you to this genre?
I work as a designer for indie authors, many of whom are writing romance. By working with them I got interested in reading some of their stuff and I realized I’d like to try writing it. I’ve been writing YA for years so it was a fun change to have my characters grow up a bit and be able to explore sexier stories

2.   When writing a book, what is your favorite part of the creative process(outline, plot, character names, editing, etc)?
I love the writing. I often don’t plot much so I discover the story as I go. Sometimes I’m as surprised as my characters by things that happen in my books. I also love re-reading my work. I proofread and edit as I go but sometimes I just like to read something I’ve written. I don’t know why I enjoy that so much, but I do.

3.   When reading a book, what genre do you find most interesting/intriguing?
It varies. I go through phases. Right now I’m in a non-fiction phase.  But I still do read a lot of romance and erotica and I like that. I’m very curious to try writing something paranormal suspense-ish so I might read a few like that.

4.   If you could co-author with any author, past or present, who would you choose?
I suppose someone super successful! J.K. Rowling maybe. It might be quite fun to write a sexy magical romance with her. But I also think being part of the duo that call themselves Christina Lauren would be hilarious because their books are so vulgar and sexy and funny.

5.   Have you always wanted to write or did it come to you "later in life"?
I started writing “books” before I even know how to read. I remember my mother stapling bits of paper together so I could write in little books. I’ve been writing professionally for nearly twenty years in film, TV and YA. I’m new to romance, but old to writing!

Author Bio:
Bibi Rizer is a mom, blogger, teacher and writer living in the Pacific Northwest. While she’s been writing professionally for many years, romance and erotica are relatively new pursuits.
Bibi likes writing about strong kinky women and brave willing men living in realistic and imperfect worlds.
In her spare time Bibi sings Karaoke and hangs around on film sets with child actors. Having the firm belief that no one can be too weird or too funny, she happily admits that most of her favorite people and characters are both.


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Look Back in Anger: The Omnibus Edition (Episodes 1-6) by SN Graves

Title: Look Back in Anger: The Omnibus Edition
Author: SN Graves
Series: Look Back in Anger
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: January 4, 2015
SynthPet technician Samantha can't remember much of being a child, but the scraps of memory she clings to all hold the same terror--Arles Colfter. Now he's blackmailing her, threatening her elderly father, and forcing her to face a past long buried.

Plus she's pretty sure he's a baby-eating werewolf.

All Sam wants is to live quietly with her herd of cats and one-eared dog, but backed into a corner by Arles and his freak show assortment of family, she's forced to unravel a thorny tangle of truth and lies, or risk being dragged down the rabbit hole into Arles's world of intrigue, gun-toting vigilantes, and...zombies.

Look Back in Anger is a paranormal romance with shifters and zombies and lethal spray cheese!

This Omnibus Edition collects the six Look Back in Angerepisodes into a single volume for ease of reading and to provide an alternative way to read the serial for those who aren't using Kindle Unlimited.

"She’d never thought of herself as unwell. Not in the way he seemed to be implying. Maybe she’d never quite felt whole, never quite felt complete or content with her life, but that wasn't the same as unwell. She’d filled her life with work, with animals, with machines to distract from what was missing, that intangible something she’d never been able to put a name to. Arles. Arles was its name."

Author Bio:
S.N.Graves was born in the South and can’t see calling anyplace without a Waffle House home.  She earned her M.F.A. in Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in 2014 and is a senior editor at Loose Id LLC.

It was either write or become the world’s lamest super villain and cat lady, so S.N.Graves focused all her spinster energy into tormenting her characters instead of laying siege to the world with monkey assassins and satanic subliminal messages in cute cat videos. She is happily married to the self-proclaimed victim of Stockholm syndrome, David Graves, and enjoys duct taping her two teenage sons to a chair and forcing them to read all the ugly first drafts of her urban                                     fantasy books.


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