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Friday, May 31, 2013

Audiobook Review: On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle

TITLE: On What Grounds 
SERIES: Coffeehouse Mystery, Book #1
AUTHOR: Cleo Coyle 
NARRATOR: Rebecca Gibel
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook, 7 hrs and 59 mins
GENRE: Mystery
ISBN: 9780792777991
Clare Cosi used to manage the historic Village Blend coffeehouse…until she opted for quieter pastures and a more suburban life. But after ten years and a little friendly cajoling from the owner (a fresh pot of Jamaican Blue Mountain was all it took), she's back to the grind. With a sprawling rent-free apartment directly above the Village Blend, her cat Java by her side, and plenty of coffeehouse redecorating ideas, Clare is thrilled to return to work. Until she discovers the assistant manager unconscious in the back of the store, coffee grounds strewn everywhere. Police arrive on the scene to investigate. But when they find no sign of forced entry or foul play, they deem it an accident. Case closed. But Clare is not convinced. And after the police leave, there are a few things she just can't get out of her mind… Why was the trash bin in the wrong place? If this wasn't an accident, is Clare in danger? And… are all detectives this handsome?


I received this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own. 

I jumped into this cozy-mystery series late at Book #8, Holiday Grind, earlier this year and absolutely fell in love! I then read the next one in the series, Roast Mortem, and now I want to read this series from the beginning to have a better understanding of the characters and, in particular, to learn more about the interesting relationship between the heroine, Clare Cosi, and her ex-but-still-cozy-husband, Matteo "Matt" Allegro.

I am so glad that I went back to the beginning of the series because some of the missing pieces have fallen into place. After Claire and Matt divorced ten years prior, Clare moved to Jersey with her daughter, Joy. Madame Allegro, Clare’s ex-mother-in-law, woos Clare to come back to the coffeehouse with an interesting proposition: A percentage of ownership in the business as well as rent-free accommodations in the furnished duplex above the business. Madame explains that the last manager practically ran the business into the ground, and she needs Clare to come back and resume management of the coffeehouse so that it can bounce back and start turning a profit. Now that Joy is away at college, the time is right for Clare to return to Greenwich Village and she decides to take Madame up on her offer.

The book starts off with the crime: Anabelle Hart, the assistant manager for the Village Blend, has let someone she knows into the coffeehouse after closing. She is found the next morning at the bottom of the basement steps, barely alive and unconscious. The police investigate and decide that it is nothing more than an unfortunate accident, but Clare’s gut tells her that they are wrong. She decides to conduct her own inquiry into Anabelle’s background in an effort to solve the crime.

I really enjoyed this series debut. I was already a fan, and I continue to be. Coyle has the right blend of mystery, humour, flirtiness, and delectable culinary descriptions which makes the series a fun, light read! If you are a cozy-mystery fan, I highly recommend this series!

I’m also already a fan of Rebecca Gibel, who is a flawless narrator. She conveys so much emotion in the tone of her voice, and her distinctive characterizations make it very easy to follow who is speaking in the story.


View all my reviews

Lawrence Weill Virtual Tour: Guest Post and Giveaway

Hi, everyone!

I am pleased to participate in Lawrence Weill's Virtual Tour hosted by Tomorrow Comes Media.

About Lawrence:

Lawrence Weill is an author and artist in western Kentucky. In addition to novels, he writes short fiction, non-fiction articles and books, and poetry. His work has appeared in a wide range of local, regional, and national journals. He and his wife live in the woods overlooking a beaver pond. 

Website | Facebook

Welcome to Darlene's Book Nook, Lawrence!

Lawrence has written a guest post, so I will now turn the floor over to him!

Hi. My name is Lawrence Weill and my debut novel Incarnate was released in March of this year. In my novel, some of the situations that my characters go through are difficult scenes for readers, whether the conflict has resulted from what my characters have chosen to do or something that has befallen them. I am sometimes asked by readers how I am able to write and to cope with these difficult scenes. Do these scenes distress me? Does writing a scene in which characters are hurt affect my everyday life? Why do I include them in the story?

The answers to those questions sometimes vary, depending upon what is happening in the novel and to whom. Firstly, the characters I have created for Incarnate are just that: characters. I have to keep that in mind. In difficult scenes, I make sure I adopt that stance so that I can create an authorial distance to the action. In a sense, I make myself see the writing during those scenes as reporting the action somewhat impersonally. As Sargent Friday often said on the old "Dragnet" television program: "Just the facts, sir." I find approaching some scenes in this way helps me to be able to write it down in a more non-judgmental way, in a more matter-of-fact way. After all, one of the things I want the reader to do is to supply the value set to the narrative, to make of it what she will, to decide whether something good or bad is happening. That to me is an important element in the writing.

On the other hand, in general, I like the characters I create, or at the very least, I have a certain empathy for them, or else I could not develop them fully. When my characters actually do things which create unpleasant scenes, I don't have them act out of malice. They may be misguided and show poor judgment, but their intent is not generally evil. A great deal of the suffering of people in general is from just such causes: misguided motives or lack of judgment. That is a critical aspect I want to take from everyday life and put into the story. Everyone makes mistakes. That is the human situation. We sometimes act out of ignorance or even selfishness, and sometimes even when we try to do the right thing, we have unintended consequences that we regret. What is the mark of our characters, as well as the characters in any story, is what we do with those results.

Those previous comments notwithstanding, there are a few scenes that were hard to write. Honestly, there were times when I wrote passages that writing the scene made me cry. At those times, I sometimes had to leave the manuscript for a time, to allow myself a bit of healing, for lack of a better term. Why did I write them? Because the story demanded them. The conflict that I had developed, I felt, resulted in sometimes bad things happening for the writing to be true.

These are the ways I deal with difficult scenes. I do think it is sometimes harder to write such passages when the story is character driven, but if the writing will portray the action faithfully, these scenes are needed.
Thanks so much for joining us today, Lawrence!

About the Book:

What should a woman do if she believes she is the mother of the second coming of Christ? This is the problem Lara Joyner faces when she comes to believe, through her visions, through the look on his face, through her cards, and through the thousands of hidden signs she sees in nature, that her son is Christ incarnate.

Incarnate is driven by this woman’s character and readers struggle between wanting to sympathize and knowing she is deeply troubled. In the end, we discover how her delusion turns many worlds upside down, as well as how faith overpowers reason. The story follows Lara and her two sons as she pushes Dale to perform miracles and save humanity. Although obviously unable to do so, he goes through the motions to protect his little brother Louis. Told alternately from Lara’s perspective (in the present tense) and from the other principles in the story, the plot follows the trials brought on by Lara’s spiraling madness, her husband’s desperate search for his family, and the children’s bewilderment and fear.
Tour Participants:

May 6 - Read 2 Review - Interview

May 7 - I Read a Book Once - Contest/Giveaway

May 8 - Books, Owls & Tea - Interview

May 9 - The FlipSide of Julianne - Guest Post

May 10 - Makayla’s Book Reviews - Guest Post

May 12 - Crossroads Reviews - Review

May 13 - Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews - Excerpt and Tens List

May 15 - The Dan O’Brien Project - Excerpt/Promo

May 17 - A Book Vacation - Promo/Spotlight

May 21 - StoreyBook Reviews - Promo/Spotlight/Excerpt

May 22 - Armand Rosamilla, Horror Author - Guest Post

May 23 - Bookishly Me - Review

May 26 - Breath of Life - Review

May 27 - Lost Inside the Covers - Review

May 31 - Darlene’s Book Nook - Guest Post

June 1 – Spellbindings -Review

June 2 - Babs Book Bistro - Podcast Interview

June 4 - Ali’s Bookshelf - Character Post

June 5 - Mom Cat’s Book Blog - Guest Post

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Book Review: The End Games by T. Michael Martin

TITLE: The End Games 
AUTHOR: T. Michael Martin 
PUBLISHER: HarperCollins Children/Balzer + Bray
FORMAT: Hardcover, 369 pages
GENRE: Young Adult, Horror, Science Fiction/Dystopia
ISBN: 9780062201805
It happened on Halloween.

The world ended.

And a dangerous Game brought it back to life.

Seventeen-year-old Michael and his five-year-old brother, Patrick, have been battling monsters in The Game for weeks.

In the rural mountains of West Virginia, armed with only their rifle and their love for each other, the brothers follow Instructions from the mysterious Game Master. They spend their days searching for survivors, their nights fighting endless hordes of “Bellows”—creatures that roam the dark, roaring for flesh. And at this Game, Michael and Patrick are very good.

But The Game is changing.

The Bellows are evolving.

The Game Master is leading Michael and Patrick to other survivors—survivors who don’t play by the rules.

And the brothers will never be the same.

T. Michael Martin’s debut novel is a transcendent thriller filled with electrifying action, searing emotional insight, and unexpected romance.


I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own. 

Well, I finished it. That’s saying something, right?

When I read the synopsis for The End Games, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it: A 17 year-old guy and his 5 year-old brother who survive an apocalypse and try to make their way to the Charleston Safe Zone, battling zombies (called "Bellows" in this book) along the way, so that they can be reunited with their mom. I love “end of the world” books, especially those with zombies. So, why did I have such a problem getting into it?

This was one of those books that I had to slog my way through. It wasn’t that the writing was bad. I think my main problem with it was the lack of connection to the hero of the story, Michael Faris. He sounds like a great guy who is very protective of his younger brother, who I am guessing is autistic. In fact, Michael and Patrick had run away from home on the night that the apocalypse struck because their step-father wanted Patrick to be institutionalized. In order to keep Patrick from having a melt-down as a result of the chaos surrounding them, Michael told him that the apocalypse is just a game and that they are role-playing. Aside from that, we don’t really know that much about Michael except that he was a bit of a loner in school and was definitely not one of the cool kids.

It took me a really long time to get into this book. Many times, I just couldn’t keep my eyes open because I was so bored. I expected it to be a lot more action-packed, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t until I actually started waking up a little early to try to read first thing in the morning that I started to make some head-way into the story, and it wasn’t until I was in over 200 pages that I actually started to like it.

Michael and his brother meet up with four other survivors: A US Army Captain named Horace Jopek whose personality is not unlike their abusive step-father, a kind middle-aged woman named Bobbie Louise, and a pair of teenage siblings named Hank and Holly – Hank, who is the epitome of the school jock, looks upon Jopek as their saviour and Holly, who is a bit of a brainy nerd.

I would have liked to know the back-story of why the apocalypse took place. Instead, I felt like I was thrust into this story and wandered around aimlessly, just like Michael and Patrick.

For me, this debut was a disappointment.

View all my reviews

SSP Anthology Extravaganza for Perfect Flaw: Guest Post with H.S. Donnelly and Giveaway

Hi, everyone!

I am pleased to participate in the SSP Anthology Extravaganza hosted by Tomorrow Comes Media for Perfect Flaw.

Editor Bio:

Robin Blankenship, a freelance editor and book reviewer has a background in teaching and social work. When not working or reading or editing she can be found at home in Kentucky with her husband, Andrew and two children, Christian and Beatrix. 

About the Book:

TITLE: Perfect Flaw 
PUBLISHER: Seventh Star Press
PUBLICATION DATE: March 19, 2013
FORMAT: Paperback, 322 pages
GENRE: Dystopian
ISBN: 9781937929114

Readers everywhere are invited to experience adventures of a dystopian nature in the anthology Perfect Flaw, from editor Robin Blankenship! Featuring seventeen speculative fiction tales, spanning many genres, Perfect Flaw explores the subject of societies gone wrong.

From “utopian” societies masking an underlying controlled state, to stories of people fighting back against repression, in hopes of a better world, the flaws that create a dystopian atmosphere are brought to light. Thought-provoking and entertaining, Perfect Flaw will be a welcome addition to any reader’s collection of dystopian literature.
Buy Links:
Amazon Kindle / Amazon Paperback

Facebook | Twitter | Website | Blog

Featured Stories and Authors in Perfect Flaw:

Leslie J Anderson – “Michael’s Gate”
Jason Campagna – “Hope Unknown”
Frank Roger – “Cracks in the Concrete”
Mandi M. Lynch “Under a Pomegranate Sky”
Shaun Avery – “The Job Hunter”
Cathy Bryant – “Cost Benefit Analysis”
Carolyn M. Chang – “Smilers”
SC Langgle – “The Bird Below Ground”
Delphine Boswell – “Tomorrow’s Children”
Tanith Korravai – “Your Comfort is Important to Us”
DeeDee Davies – “The Ultimate Sale”
Ellen Brock – “Useless”
Herika R. Raymer – “Seventh Degree”
H David Blalock – “Guardian”
H.S. Donnelly – “First Head”
Jay Faulkner – “System Error”
Michael O’Connor – “The Choosing”

Welcome to Darlene's Book Nook, H.S. Donnelly!

Mr. Donnelly has written a guest post, so I will now turn the floor over to him!

How "First Head" Came to Be
by H.S. Donnelly

Cryogenics companies are more than willing to freeze you when you die. The only drawback is that, currently, there is no way to successfully thaw out and bring you back to life. Still, there is the chance that at some point in the future science will solve that problem and people will be revived, cured of whatever, and then will resume their lives.

But even the freezing process is complicated. Water expands as it freezes (which, of course, is why ice forms on the top of a lake, rather than at the bottom). So preventing cell rupture (cells being mostly made of water) is difficult if you are chilling someone down to −320.4°F. So to simplify the freezing process (and potential revival later on), only the person’s head is preserved.

First Head came to me when I read about Ted Williams being cryogenically frozen. Many SF stories have used some sort of vaguely described suspended animation, usually as a device to allow people to go on a really, really long voyage to another solar system. But here, finally, was a process that almost sounded, well, plausible.

Thus, First Head began unfolding. As I thought about it, I asked myself the usual What if ... question, as in, What if you had a society where cryogenics was part of everyday life? One of the things I wondered about was how a revived person would get a body. One conclusion I came to was that it would be much easier to thaw out a frozen Head than, say, hydroponically grow a body to attach that Head to. So there would be many heads competing for a much smaller number of bodies. And if that were true, how would they decide whom to attach?

First Head unfolds through the eyes of a man who suddenly wakes up in a society where cryogenics has become routine. Rather mysteriously he has no memory of being frozen, nor what he had been doing in his prior life. As he goes through the cultural adjustment process in the Revivology Facility, he slowly realizes that he is going to have to come up with a reason as to why he, specifically, deserves to be attached to a body.

On another level, First Head is about an organization that, superficially, claims to care about the individual, but in reality couldn’t care less. Of the people who have reviewed and critiqued this story, a few of them have really, really liked the story. I think that this aspect of the story is what appealed to them.
Thanks so much for joining us today, Mr. Donnelly!


Perfect Flaw Tour Participants:

May 16 - Armand Rosamilla, Horror Author: Guest Post

May 17 -  Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews: Interview

May 19 - Angela Meadon Blog: Guest Post

May 20 -  The FlipSide of Julianne: Guest Post

May 21 - The Dan O’Brien Project: Guest Post

May 23 - Workaday Reads: Guest Post

May 24 - Books, Owls and Tea: Guest Post

May 30 - Darlene’s Book Nook: Guest Post

June 1 - Readings Sunshine: Review

June 4 - Jess Resides Here: Guest Post

June 5 -  Book Reviews and More: Review

June 6 - A Book Vacation: Guest Post

June 7 -  Word to Dreams: Review

June 8 -  The Witchy Contessa: Review

June 10 -  WTF Are You Reading: Review

June 12 - Bookishly Me: Review

June 14 - Sweet Southern Home: Guest Post

June 16 - SpecMusicMuse: Review and Interview

June 17 - Spellbindings: Guest Post

SSP Anthology Extravaganza Full Tour Schedule:

May 16 - Jay Wilburn Blog: 

Guest Post (Southern Haunts)

May 16 - MikesFilmTalk: 

Guest Post (Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

May 16 - Armand Rosamilla, Horror Author: 

Guest Post (Perfect Flaw)

May 17 - Laurie's Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews: 

Interview (Southern Haunts)

May 17 - Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews:  

Interview (Perfect Flaw)

May 17 - Come Selahway With Me:  

Guest Post (Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

May 17 - The Dan O’Brien Project: 

Guest Post (The End Was Not the End)

May 18 - The Dan O’Brien Project: 

Promo-Spotlight (Southern Haunts)

May 18 - A Girl and Her Kindle: 

Review (Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

May 18 - Ian’s Realm: 

Guest Post (The End Was Not the End)

May 19 - Angela Meadon Blog: 

Guest Post (Perfect Flaw)

May 19 - Strange Amusements: 

Review (The End Was Not the End)

May 20 - Book in the Bag: 

Review (Southern Haunts)

May 20 - The FlipSide of Julianne: 

Guest Post (Guest Post)

May 20 - Laurie’s Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews:  

Interview (Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

May 21 - Spellbound by Books: 

Excerpt (Southern Haunts)

May 21 - The Dan O’Brien Project: 

Guest Post (Perfect Flaw)

May 21 -  Kentucky Geek Girl: 

Interview (Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

May 22 - Darlene’s Book Nook:  

Guest Post (Southern Haunts)

May 22 - Strange Amusements: 

Promo/Spotlight (Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

May 22 -  Bookishly Me:  

Guest Post (The End Was Not the End)

May 23 - Workaday Reads: 

Guest Post (Perfect Flaw)

May 23 - Book Den: 

Guest Post (Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

May 23 - Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews: 

Interview (The End Was Not the End)

May 24 -  Books, Owls and Tea:  

Guest Post (Perfect Flaw)

May 24 - Beagle Book Space:  

Promo/Spotlight (Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

May 24 -  I Read a Book Once:  

Review (The End Was Not the End)

May 26 - Kentucky Geek Girl:  

Interview (Southern Haunts)

May 26 - Armand Rosamilla, Horror Author: 

Review (Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

May 27 - Bookishly Me: 

Review (Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

May 28 - Spellbindings: 

Guest Post (Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy)

May 29 - Darlene’s Book Nook:  

Guest Post (The End Was Not the End)

May 29 - Book in the Bag:  

Interview (Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy)

May 30 - Darlene’s Book Nook: 

Guest Post (Perfect Flaw)

May 30 - The Cabin Goddess: 

Review (Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

May 31 - WTF Are You Reading?: 

Review (Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

May 31 - Literary Meanderings: 

Interview (Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy)

June 1 - Babs Book Bistro:  

Excerpt (Southern Haunts)

June 1 - Readings Sunshine: 

Review (Perfect Flaw)

June 1 - The Witchy Contessa: 

Review (The End Was Not the End)

June 1 - Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews: 

Interview (Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy)

June 2 - Beagle Book Space: 

Promo-Spotlight (Southern Haunts)

June 2 -  Kentucky Geek Girl: 

Promo-Spotlight (Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy)

June 3 - Reading Away the Days:  

Review (Southern Haunts) 

June 3 - Book in the Bag:  

Review (Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

June 3 - Spellbindings: 

Guest Post (The End Was Not the End)

June 3 - The Witchy Contessa: 

Review (Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy)

June 4  - Jess Resides Here: 

Guest Post (Perfect Flaw)

June 4 - The Dan O’Brien Project: 

Guest Post (Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

June 5 - Book Reviews and More:  

Review (Perfect Flaw)

June 5 - Once Upon a Time: 

Guest Post (The End Was Not the End)

June 6 - A Book Vacation: 

Guest Post (Perfect Flaw)

June 6 - Beauty in Ruins:  

Review (The End Was Not the End)

June 6 - Come Selahway With Me:  

Interview (Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy)

June 7 - Word to Dreams: 

Review (Perfect Flaw)

June 7 - Bee’s Knees Reviews:  

Review (Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

June 7 -  I Read a Book Once: 

Review (Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy)

June 8 - The Witchy Contessa: 

Review (Perfect Flaw)

June 10 - Spellbindings: 

Guest Post (Southern Haunts) 

June 10 - WTF Are You Reading?: 

Review (Perfect Flaw)

June 11 - Darlene’s Book Nook:  

Guest Post (Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

June 12 - Celticlady’s Reviews: 

Promo-Spotlight (Southern Haunts) 

June 12 - Bookishly Me: 

Review (Perfect Flaw)

June 12 - Library Girl Reads and Reviews: 

Guest Post (The End Was Not the End)

June 13 - The Witchy Contessa: 

Review (Southern Haunts) 

June 13 - Book Den: 

Guest Post (Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy)

June 14 - Word to Dreams: 

Guest Post (Southern Haunts) 

June 14 - Sweet Southern Home: 

Guest Post (Perfect Flaw)

June 15 - Bee’s Knees Reviews: 

Review (The End Was Not the End)

June 15 - The Dan O’Brien Project: 

Promo-Spotlight (Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy)

June 16 - I Smell Sheep: 

Guest Post (Southern Haunts) 

June 16 - SpecMusicMuse:  

Review and Interview (Perfect Flaw)

June 16 - Jess Resides Here:  

Top Ten’s List (Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

June 16 - Once Upon a Time:  

Promo-Spotlight (Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy)

June 17 - Bookishly Me: 

Review (Southern Haunts) 

June 17 - Spellbindings: 

Guest Post (Perfect Flaw)

June 17 - The Witchy Contessa: 

Review (Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

June 18 - Recent Reads: 

Review (Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy)

June 19 - Recent Reads: 

Review (Southern Haunts) 

June 19 - My Seryniti: 

Review (Vampires Don’t Sparkle)

June 19 - Come Selahway With Me:  

Guest Post (The End Was Not the End)
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