Monday, June 29, 2015

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Sandcastle and Other Stories


Sandcastle & Other Stories:
The Complete Edition
By: Justin Bog

Genre: Short Fiction, Psychological Literary Suspense
Publisher: Booktrope
Publication date: 5.29.2015
Pages: 274

The Complete Edition of Justin Bog's First Collection of Dark Psychological Suspense Tales.
            An award-winning collection, Sandcastle & Other Stories reveals twisted secrets that are mined like plutonium.  These twelve literary tales are nothing short of an adventure through a roiling sea of emotion.  With authenticity and eloquence, author Justin Bog holds a provocative and compelling mirror on the human condition. 
            
"The stories are those of everyday people who might live next door or in the walk-up across the street...A man with a personal crisis takes a singles cruise - a woman leaves her toddler girl at the beach while having a romantic tryst - a B-list actor's character is killed off - a girl is sucked below the sand into an underwater chamber...an old gardener who has dark secrets interacts with the bosses daughter in a most unforeseen way.  The only commonality in these tight, little stories is they are unexpected.  Having this book is like having a string of black pearls - each one slightly different, but each  perfect, dark, little gem...Bog paints pictures with words as Titan did with oil paints - startlingly detailed with deep perspective and rich complexity."
~Rosi Hollenbeck, San Francisco Book Review



About the author:
Justin Bog lives in the Pacific Northwest on Fidalgo Island.  Justin Bog was Pop Culture Correspondent and Editor for In Classic Style.  He enjoys cooking, lawn mowing not so much, and spends time walking and handing out treats to two long coat German shepherds, Zippy and Kipling, and two barn cats, Ajax The Gray and Eartha Kitt'n.

Monday, June 22, 2015

BOOK SPOTLIGHT + Excerpt: Skeleton Run


Skeleton Run
By: John L. DeBoer

Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Political
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Publication date: 4.14.2015
Pages: 276

Twenty years ago, four teenage boys left a baby behind in a crushed car after they caused the tragic accident that took the mother's life.  Ever since, they've guarded the secret that would've ruined their lives and destroyed their future careers.  But when one of them succumbs to illness, a blackmailer makes contact, and the survivors realize that, somehow, someone else knows.  Now, everything that matters to them is at stake.
            Las Vegas billionaire Wendell Logan is pursuing the role of political kingmaker, and he's selected his unsuspecting king: Alan Granger, governor of Pennsylvania.  Granger confesses his closet skeleton to Logan, but the tycoon has invested too much time and money into Granger's future presidential campaign to let him and his old friends endanger Logan's power play.
            It's time to run.


Excerpt:
Chapter 1

Late February 1995
Richmond, Vermont

Jeanne Favreau kissed her eighteen-month-old son and put him in his crib for the night.  Exhausted from her long day at Bolton Valley, she flopped into her own bed across the room.  Sufficient snow on the popular ski resort's slopes kept the snack bar busy on Saturdays.  At least she had the next day off.  She quickly fell asleep.
            The baby cried, and Jeanne's eyes snapped open.  No light crept through the blinds.  She turned on the nightstand lamp and glanced at the clock radio: 10:15.  Crap!  She stepped to the crib, where tommy stood gripping the side rail and emitting unhappy squawks.
             "What's the matter, sweetie?"  Jeanne lifted him over the rail and held him to her shoulder while checking his diaper.  Dry and empty.  Then she felt his forehead.  Hot.
            Oh, Christ!  Another ear infection?  Probably.  With a sigh, she carried Timmy into the bathroom and took the bottle of Tylenol suspension from the medicine cabinet.  She closed the bathtub drain and turned on the water.  She went into the small kitchen and deposited him into his highchair, where he rubbed his right ear with a fist.
            "I know, Timmy.  You don't feel good," Jeanne cooed, "but Mommy will make it better."  She opened a cabinet drawer, got a spoon, and poured the liquid Tylenol into it.  The pediatrician had said he could have a full teaspoon.  Unfortunately, Jeanne had become experienced dealing with ear infections.  After successfully getting her child to take the medicine, she picked him up and returned to the bathroom.

***

From the back seat of the Toyota Land Cruiser, I gazed out the window at the passing forest.  Though clouds intermittently obscured the face of the half moon, enough light bathed the landscape to provide a contrast between the smooth, untrammeled snow and the skeletal stands of hardwood trees rising above it.
            My buddies and I had taken full advantage of the good conditions on the slopes, and with the end of the season looming, we wanted to double down and continue skiing into the evening under the lights.  But our social director had another idea in mind.
            Alan Granger chuckled as he piloted the SUV down the Bolton Valley access road.  "Hot babes in a hot tub.  Doesn't get any better than that.  Didn't I tell you?  Stick with the Grange if you want to party?  Bring your swim trunks just in case?  I'm definitely going to give that Tammy a call tomorrow."  Tall and lanky, with a shock of unruly dark brown hair, a handsome face, and a gregarious personality, Granger was well known in our high school as a chick magnet.  And starring as a wide receiver on the football team hadn't hurt.
            Bob Kretchman, sitting next to me, grunted and took a gulp from his beer can.  With his intimidating size and ferocious tackling exploits for that same team, his nickname of "Crushman" had evolved naturally.  He scratched his scalp through his blonde crew cut.  "Yeah, it was fun.  But I can't see us taking this any further.  They're college chicks, dude."
            "Get me one of those Buds, will you?" Granger said.  As I reached into the Styrofoam cooler behind me, he continued, "What difference does a year make, Crush?  In seven months, we'll be in college, too.  So we lie a little to get laid.  You know, like you usually do."  He laughed again.
            I popped the can and handed it to our driver.
            "What about you, Jimmy?" he asked me.  "Going to give Green Bikini a call?  You two seemed to be getting it on pretty good."
            I smiled, thinking of those luscious tits practically rubbing against me as we "got to know each other" in the spa's swirling water.  The girls, Pi Beta Phi sorority sisters, were sophomores at the University of Vermont, all from out of state.  They were staying in the ski condo belonging to the parents of Granger's date for the weekend.  Unfortunately, the father and wife were also there, so we had to confine the frolic to the public hot tub.  But we'd all said we would like to get together again in the near future - hopefully to take our newfound "friendships" to the next level.
            "The lighting helped," I replied, "since I don't look ancient like the rest of you guys.  But I don't think my face could pass for a college stud in the light of day."
            Tom Webster faced me from the front passenger seat.  He twiddled his index fingers in his cheeks and grinned.  "Mr. Dawson, she'd just think you're cute.  Go for it, man.  Sometimes you gotta go for the long ball."  The team's quarterback turned his broad shoulders back to the front and nudged the driver with his elbow.
            "Amen to that," Granger responded.
            "Hey, Jim," Kretchman added, "you can't always dance your way through the line.  Somebody like me could be waiting for you, stop you in your tracks."
            I laughed at the ribbing, since I was used to it.  They had been my friends since grade school.  Though in good shape, able to hold my own in the weight room, and certainly not short in stature, I was the "little" kid among them and the youngest by four months.  Not to mention my young-looking face.  "Well," I said, returning to the linebacker's grin, "if there's a hole, I'll be sure to find it."
            "Good one, Jimmy!"  Granger laughed and took a pull from his can.
            "And," I said, "you seem to have forgotten that ninety-five-yard touchdown run I made against Essex.  The Burlington Free Press certainly thought it was noteworthy.  Didn't the article say it was a school record?  And how about those two - I repeat, two - kickoff returns from TDs against BFA?  I can go long, too."  I have him a light punch in the arm.
            "Yeah, you're a legend in your own mind," Granger said over his shoulder.  "Anyway, those girls do open up some possibilities."
            The car came to a stop at the bottom of the hill before turning right onto US 2.  The exit for I-89, the route we'd take back to Burlington, lay just a few miles ahead.

***

At eleven pm, after bathing Timmy in tepid water, Jeanne checked his temperature again with he rectal thermometer.  103.6!  Hi sphere had risen a full degree.  Listless and lethargic, Timmy was no longer crying.  Not a good sign.
            She placed him on the bed while she quickly dressed and put on her parka.  Then she wrapped a blanket around Timmy, picked him up, and went out the trailer door.  Along with her child, the decrepit single wide was all she had left to remind her of her ex-boyfriend, who'd run off as soon as she revealed the positive pregnancy test.
            She secured Timmy in the rear-facing infant seat of her beat-up Yugo and then drove out of the trailer park.  The medical center in Burlington, just twenty minutes or so to the west, was her destination.  Richmond didn't have a hospital.  But that's what my baby needs, and soon.

***

The heavy beat of Meat Loaf erupted from the Land Cruiser's CD player as snowflakes began to hit the windshield.
            Granger turned on the wipers.  "Where the hell did this come from?"
            "Some freak snow flurry," Webster said from the shotgun seat.
            "More like a freakin' storm."
            I leaned forward to peer through the windshield.  The headlights' illumination reflected back at us from the fluffy crystals.  We appeared to be the only car on the road, so playing Follow the Leader wouldn't help us pick our way through the wall of white.  Roadside lights were nonexistent.
            "Better slow down," I said.  As Kretchman had implied in his metaphor, I was usually the cautious one.  I preferred to call it the "voice of reason."
            As the car rounded a turn, Webster yelled, "Watch out!"
            At the same moment, I saw it as well.  A dim red glow penetrated the heavy snowfall directly in front of us.  A car's taillight.
            Granger tromped on the brakes, but the SUV skidded on the slick asphalt.  "Oh, Jesus!" he shouted, and we all watched helplessly, knowing a collision was unavoidable.  The heavy Land Cruiser slammed into the rear of the much smaller car, sending it careening off the road and into a stout maple tree.
            "Shit!"  Granger regained control of the SUV, pulled onto the shoulder, and put the car in park but left the engine running.  He scrambled out of the vehicle and headed toward the stricken sedan, his open parka flapping.
            The rest of us followed.  Snow crunched beneath my boots as I hurried to the car.  The initial shock of the collision became full-blown panic as I feared the worst.  The Yugo's right headlight had escaped damage and sent its beam onto the cornfield beyond the tree.  The front of the driver's side of the car had received the full force of the impact.  Snow continued to fall, its insulation imposing an eerie quiet.  Except for our heavy breathing and the slight tick of the Yugo's engine, no sound reached my ears.
            We gathered around Granger and looked through the shattered driver's side window.  Faint light from the moon revealed a young woman pinned to her seat by the steering column.  She wasn't moving.
            "Are you all right?" Granger spoke through the window as he tried and failed to open the door.  No response came from the woman who appeared to be, at best, unconscious.  "Bob, give the door a try."
            While Kretchman put his bulk into the effort, I went around to the other side and opened the front passenger door.  The dome light came on, illuminating the woman, and my fear became real.
            The collision had driven the dashboard assembly, including the collapsible steering column, into her chest.  Her unblinking eyes stared ahead as if expressing shock at the sudden catastrophe.  Med school was still more than four years away for me, but I didn't need medical training to diagnose the obvious.
            Still, I felt for a pulse in her cool, lifeless wrist.  "She's dead," I announced.
            "Oh, my God!" Granger wailed.  "What're we going to do?"  He banged his fist on the roof of the car.  "Shit!"
            From behind me, Webster said, "Look in the backseat, Jimmy."
            Though I thought my despair couldn't get any worse, it climbed to a new level.
            Webster opened the rear door, and I leaned in.  The infant car seat lay askew but still restrained by the seat belt.  The child in it was motionless, eyes closed.  Oh, Jesus, no!  I didn't see any apparent injuries.  Granger and Kretchman came around the car.
            "I think the baby's okay," I said as I backed out and stood upright.  "Call 9-1-1 on your car phone, Al."
            "Yeah... all right... good idea."  He started for his car then came back to us.  "Oh, man.  We should talk about this first.  I killed somebody, for Christ's sake!  Vehicular homicide is what they call it."  He shook his head.  "I'm in big trouble, guys."
            "It was an accident," Kretchman offered.  "Bad weather conditions, slippery road.  That car came out of nowhere."
            "And it only had the one taillight," Webster added.  "We'll back you up, man."
            "Except they'll say I was going too fast for the conditions, since I rear-ended her.  Slam dunk there.  And I was drinking.  Unlike you guys, I'm eighteen, so I'm screwed both ways.  I'm not allowed to drink, but legally I'm an adult.  I am totally fucked!"
            I couldn't argue with that assessment, and apparently, the others couldn't either as indecision paralyzed all of us.  I glanced at the baby.  We had to do something for it soon.
            "Even if I can stay out of jail and my old man doesn't disown me, there goes law school.  Think I could get into Georgetown or any other top school with this on my record?"  Granger put his hands on the sides of his head.  "Oh, man.  What am I going to do?"
            "So let's get the hell out of here," Webster said.  "You gotta make that call because of the kid, but do it when we're on the road and keep it anonymous."
            "I think the cops can trace those calls," Granger replied.  "Can't take that chance.  I need to find a pay phone."
            "What about the baby?" I asked.  "We can't just leave it here.  If something happens to--"
            "Uh-oh, car coming," Kretchman said.
            I looked to the east.  The trees lit up from an approaching car that had not yet rounded the curve.  We watched as the car came into view and then reached our location.  I held my breath, but it continued past us without even slowing.
            Maybe the snow had obscured the driver's view.  Maybe something else had distracted him.  Maybe he had issues of his own and didn't want to get involved in our problem.  Whatever - his appearance on the scene emphasized our precarious position.
            "We better get going before a Good Samaritan or a state trooper comes by," Granger said.  
            "The baby?" I asked again.
            Granger looked at the sleeping infant.  "He's got a warm blanket."  He reached in to tuck the wool fabric around the kid.  "It's not that cold.  Gotta be above freezing."  He gazed at the sky.  "And the snow is letting up."  The panic in his eyes told me whose welfare he was really considering.  "The kid'll be okay.  He's not even crying, Jimmy.  I'll call 9-1-1 as soon as we hit town.  Twenty minutes, tops."  He headed to the Land Cruiser.  "C'mob, guys, let's book."
            Kretchman must have sensed my hesitation.  "Jimmy?"
            I didn't know what to say.
            Webster grabbed my arm.  "C'mob man.  I don't like this any better than you do, but we're all in big shit here.  Al's right.  This is the only way out for us."
            It wasn't right to just up and bolt, leaving the mess behind us.  Okay, it was Al's mess, really.  But Webster had a point.  We were all involved.  Even though I had only been a bystander, I wasn't innocent.  I had been drinking, too, had even given the driver a beer.  Because of us, a woman lay dead, and her baby had lost its mother.  A terrible thing.
            Guilt was one thing.  I'd have that regardless.  Suffering real-world consequences was another matter.  In the short term, I'd be grounded for sure.  But I could imagine how this incident could forever mar my reputation.  I'd be one of "those boys" - the drunken teenagers on a joyride who killed a woman.  And Al, my buddy, was right.  He would be in a shit-pot full of trouble, legal and otherwise, if this got out.
            Self-defense and loyalty finally won the debate.  We could do nothing for the woman now, and the baby would be fine, I told myself.  I leaned in once more to check the baby and made sure the blanket was secured around his sleeping form.  I closed the door and said, "Okay, let's go," then followed the others to the car.

About the author:
After graduating from the University of Vermont College of Medicine, I did my surgical residency in the U.S. Army at Madigan Army Medical Center, Ft. Lewis, Washington.  I then spent three years in the Medical Corps as a General Surgeon before leaving the Army for private practice.  Thirty years later, I retired to begin a new career as a writer.  I enjoy cooking, tennis, politics, films and film history, the wonders of the cosmos, and, of course, reading.  Thrillers is one of my favorite genres, so thrillers is what I like to write.  My wife and I (mainly Diane) raised two sons we're proud of and who are pursuing careers having nothing to do with the medical field!  After living in Pennsylvania for a number of years, Diane and I settled in North Carolina, where the winters are easy to take and the only weather we get antsy about is the occasional hurricane.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

REVIEW: Finding the Rainbow


Chilton Crosse 2:
Finding the Rainbow
By: Traci Borum

Genre: Women's Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Publication date: 3.24.2015
Pages: 293

Recommended by: Red Adept Publishing, Read 2 Review
Date read: 6.10.2015


I enjoyed the first book in this series and was excited to move on to this one, curious to see where the series was going to take me.  This one was just as cute as the last one, but I will admit that I liked this one more than the last.  I really can't put my finger on why exactly, just feel like the author had a little more experience or learned something between the writing of the two, and this one just had a little more ... something.  The characters were good, the things that they went through kept me interested and got you behind them just a little bit more.  Still a cozy sort of read, that was rather quick for me, nothing really in-depth as far as I was concerned, but a cute story that I had fun reading.  Traci Borum is an author that I'm going to keep my eye on and I'm looking forward to reading book #3.

About the book:
Holly Newbury's life is on hold in the cozy English village of Chilton Crosse.  While her friends are marrying, having children, and embarking on successful careers, Holly is raising her three younger sisters and working part time at the village art gallery.  her life feels incomplete, but family is more important to her than anything.  Then a film crew's arrival galvanizes the community, and Holly becomes fast friends with Fletcher Hays, the movie's love-shy American writer.
            The production of an Emma film ins't the only drama in town, though.  Their father makes a choice that threatens everything she gave up her dreams for.  Holly's sisters endure growing pains.  And Fletcher plans to return to America as soon as filming is over, ruining any chance of their relationship blossoming further.  After years of sacrificing for others, Holly must find the courage to take a risk on a future she never dared to expect.


About the author:
Traci Borum is a writing teacher and native Texan.  She's also an avid reader of women's fiction, most especially Elin Hildebrand and Rosamunde Pilcher novels.  Since the age of 12, she's written poetry, short stories, magazine articles, and novels.
            Traci also adores all things British.  She even owns a British dog (Corgi) and is completely addicted to Masterpiece Theater - must be all those dreamy accents!  Aside from having big dreams of getting a book published, it's the little things that make her the happiest: deep talks with friends, a strong cup of hot chocolate, a hearty game of fetch with her Corgi, and puffy white Texas clouds always reminding her to "look up, slow down, enjoy your life."

REVIEW: Painting the Moon


Chilton Crosse 1:
Painting the Moon
By: Traci Borum

Genre: Women's Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Publication date: 6.7.2014
Pages: 320

Recommended by: Red Adept Publishing, Read 2 Review
Date read: 6.10.2015


I want to start off with saying that I am not a big romance book fan, but I am a big fan of Red Adept Publishing and have read several of the books they have published, either really liking or loving each one.  When the email came in about this one, the book description sounded interesting and, having read no bad book by them yet, I decided to give it a try.

As a whole, I liked the story.  It was cute and I found the characters interesting.  I liked how the romance didn't just happen overnight, but things took a little time to see where they would/could go.  I liked how it began and it was a surprisingly quick read.  It reminded me a lot of a cozy mystery, a bit of light reading, with some twists and turns that were fun to read about.  When this book was done, I was excited to move on to the second one.

I had a few problems, though.  I thought it was just me with some of the British parts of the book, but after looking at some of the other reviews, I see that I am not the only one who noticed things that didn't seem quite right.  (I'm not British, though, so maybe I'm wrong in my understanding.)  Also, everything came so easily for the main character and, being considered "Women's Fiction" and "Contemporary Romance," I expected the whole thing to feel a little more realistic.  (Not to say that everything comes easily, but, well, you have to read the story for that.)

There were some parts that I expected, and it didn't shock me that they were happening, but there were other parts that were unexpected. 

Would I recommend it?  Yeah.  If you like cozy books, with a cute romance, this could be a good read for you.

About the book:
When Noelle Cooke inherits a quaint English cottage and an art gallery from her famous Aunt Joy, she welcomes a departure from her San Diego routine.  But the lure of the Cotswolds, combined with a locked cottage room and a revealing journal, entice her to stay and discover more, including a way to save the gallery from financial ruin.  And that means remaining in England.
            When her childhood sweetheart, Adam Spencer, begins work on a restoration project in Noelle's village, their friendship blossoms.  But as her feelings for Adam deepen, she struggles with memories of what might have been and yearns for a future once thought lost.  Faced with a life-altering revelation Aunt Joy took to her grave and a wrenching choice regarding the man she loves, Noelle could lose far more than her heart.


About the author:
Traci Borum is a writing teacher and native Texan.  She's also an avid reader of women's fiction, most especially Elin Hildebrand and Rosamunde Pilcher novels.  Since the age of 12, she's written poetry, short stories, magazine articles, and novels.
            Traci also adores all things British.  She even owns a British dog (Corgi) and is completely addicted to Masterpiece Theater - must be all those dreamy accents!  Aside from having big dreams of getting a book published, it's the little things that make her the happiest: deep talks with friends, a strong cup of hot chocolate, a hearty game of fetch with her Corgi, and puffy white Texas clouds always reminding her to "look up, slow down, enjoy your life."

Thursday, June 18, 2015

REVIEW: Little Miss Somebody


Little Miss Somebody
Christy Lynn Abram

Genre: Young Adult, Urban Drama
Publisher: Humble Bee Publishing
Publication date: 6.26.2015
Pages: 304

Recommended by: Sage's Blog Tours, Read 2 Review
Date read: 6.17.2015


Nikki has had a tough time and has gone through a lot of horrible things in her short life.  This is her story.

When I first received the email on this book, I wasn't sure.  Some of the things that the author was going to be discussing in these pages were going to be tough things to read and I wasn't sure that I would be able to understand everything this girl was going through, but I went ahead and grabbed it up anyways.

After reading the book, I am so glad that I did.  Even though Nikki and I grew up with different backgrounds, there were several things that she went through that I could relate to, especially stuff with her mom.  I just wanted to hug this girl and take her home with me, show her the love and compassion that she so deserved to receive.  I wanted to stop her from getting into some of the trouble she was getting herself into, take her to the side and tell her that these were things that she really didn't want to do, and even to hold her in my arms and cover her eyes and ears so she didn't have to witness the things that were happening in front of her and the things that were being said to her.  This book made me cry, and there were moments that filled me with disappointment, not towards her, but towards the people that were supposed to protect her.  But this book also gave me hope, hope that things would change for poor Nikki, that she would be able to get away and find what she was looking for - someone to love her and take care of her.

I will warn you now that this book may end, but the story does not.  I know what you're thinking - I've thought it before.  You don't want to pick up a book where the author is basically "making" you buy her next book.  BUT.  The book ends at the perfect time, at the perfect moment.  There are conclusions on some points, and a little bit of happiness for poor Nikki.  The author gives you a preview into the next book, and that made me want to read more of Nikki's story even more than I already did.  To be honest, if the whole story had been one big book, it would have been too much - too much emotion for anyone to handle.  Her breaking the book up gives the reader a chance to stop, to take in all she's read, to cry for this girl ... and to breathe.

Christy, you wrote a beautiful book here ... and I am honored that I was given the chance to read and review it.  Please let me know when you get book #2 done - I would love to read it.  I need to know more about Nikki and how things turn out for her.  I felt like I was walking beside her in this story, and that is definitely a compliment towards you and your writing.  This is something that I think every young girl should read, no matter what their background is, no matter the color of their skin, the city that they live in, whether they be rich or poor.  Your book reminded me a lot of the books by Judy Blume that I loved reading when I was growing up.  It (and they) showed that their is a lot going on in someone's life that you may not know about, and that hurt, pain and broken don't always show on someone's face and body.


About the book:
Fourteen-year-old Nikki is forced to leave her whole world behind when her mother makes an impulsive move to Missouri.  Once in the heart of St Louis, her mother begins a vicious cycle of abuse and abandonment, leaving her daughter for days at a time without food or guidance.  Humiliated, lacking resources, and feeling more than ever like a burden, Nikki decides to take matters into her own hands - when she embarks on a journey to escape her mother's abusive ways and find the love she desperately needs.


About the author:
Christy Lynn Abram is a writer of self-help and creative nonfiction.  Her articles have been featured on Mindbodygreen.com, Ezinearticles.com and many other websites.  Christy's first book, Chakra Wellness: 7 Ways to Renew the Total You, was released in 2014.  Her second book, Little Miss Somebody, is loosely based on her struggles as a teenager.  For fifteen years, Christy struggled with the aftermath of her abuse, but after seeing how her pain was affecting her children, she made a choice to love herself healthy.  Now, her mission is to empower young women to find the greatness that lives within them, through writing, healing and sisterhood.  Her hope is that her story will inspire you or someone you love to release your pain and discover your best self.  Learn more about Christy's mission by visiting her website.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

REVIEW: The Fairy Tale Formula


The Fairy Tale Formula
By: Elena Burnett

Genre: Self Help, Relationship Advice
Publisher: Bryce Cullen Publishing
Publication date: 3.16.2015
Pages: 110

Recommended by: Sage's Blog Tours, Read 2 Review
Date read: 6.14.2015


I have been having a heck of a time writing this review and I think I've figured out why.  I usually don't edit myself, instead choosing to write 100% honest words from the heart, always endeavoring to explain the things that I did not like, or how amazed I am with a book, or whatever the particular case may be.  I always make sure that I include, when I post my reviews on the review sites I frequent, that these are my opinions based on my perception of what I've read, and it's opinions like mine that help people decide whether they want to read the book or pass it up.  My opinions may be very different from other people - as it seems with this book and this author - so instead of continuing to try to edit myself, I'm just going to write what I have to say and let you, the review reader, decide whether you can ignore the things I found fault with.  

Let's start from the beginning - I feel I need to explain why I chose to read this book in the first place.  I was contacted by Sage (of Sage's Blog Tours) with a request for both this book and another of Elena's books (His Wants Her Needs).  I figured 'What the heck' - I mean, they're short books and what could it hurt getting dating and relationship advice, right?  I didn't even read the book descriptions, a bad habit I am working to rectify.  Had I read those, at least on HWHN, I would have passed it up completely.

To be honest, the first book I read (HWHN) really left a bad taste in my mouth, and it's because of this book that I didn't even want to pick up the book that I am reviewing now, but I made a promise and I always try to stick to my promises.  Throughout the entire book, I kept comparing it to the other book, and that's been happening during this review writing process the last two days.  (I've actually never had this problem before and have so much to say on that other book that I haven't even written the review yet, choosing to post a book spotlight on my blog instead.)

I must say that the author comes off much less angry in this book.  I actually found her to be helpful, in some parts, in this book, which is the complete opposite of what I found her to be in the other one. She made some sense, made me do some thinking (the other book had that same effect, but instead of opening my brain to possibilities, her anger and attitude that so clearly seeped from the book actually made me question anything and everything people have said to me, and I have since heard that I am not the only one who felt this way), and helped me to see a few things that I do wrong.

For that, and that alone, I am giving this book three out of five stars.

I found the way she broke the book up interesting, the fact that she shared her personal stories (even though she was very clear at the beginning of the book that the "advice" she was passing on was in no way emotionally charged) and those of her "clients" (the "case studies") made you feel like maybe she knew what she was talking about.  But does she?  As she goes through the book, she explains that she was a (possibly former, it doesn't actually say) burlesque dancer and that her "advice" is based on personal experiences, reading and observing (the men she danced for), an apparent "epiphany" moment, and the aikido she learned from her aikido master boyfriend.  There is no educational background that shows that this person is a person that I should be taking advice from.  And after reading the other book, it was really hard to believe the stuff she was saying, for the reasons I have noted above.  (Note: "...studied extensively with Dr. Pat Allen" is mentioned in her author bio.  I had never heard of this Dr. Allen until I looked her up on Bing.  Apparently she does relationship seminars, has some books, appears on radio shows, and you can schedule private appointments with her.)

There are some editing issues in this book that the author really should take a look at - some of them hinder readers like me, who catch those things without trying, and make the book flow less smoothly.

Would I suggest the book?  Yes and No.  I did take a few positive things from this book, and I would hate to take that away from the next reader.  But I don't think everything in this book is correct, especially after discussing things I read in both books with some very close male friends (who have no reason to lie to me because sex is not an option, something Elena feels makes men lie to us in the first place).  Not all men are the same, just like not all women are the same, and to lump them all up in one giant boat and post a sign on them really isn't fair.  Just like it wouldn't be fair if they did it to us.

A few interesting bits:

"The woman's brain has a better chance of being stimulated by what we hear.  Words and sounds can have a great impact on how the woman feels about a man.  Aural as opposed to visual, but not exclusively of course."

"Love happens when a man captivates you with his charm and seduces you with his words and his actions without you realizing you are being seduced.  That's what love has become for me: something bigger than our logical mind and beyond our logical control. ... Real love takes you over, and that's exactly why it doesn't happen every day."

"The problem is not the wound itself.  The problem is when you become wounded you make a decision (consciously or unconsciously) not to open up your heart again.  If you are guided solely by your brain and cut off from your heart, you lose the ability to be vulnerable and cherish your own feelings."


About the book:
The 10 most common fairy tale misconceptions women have about men dating and relating and the easy steps to getting it right!
            Ever wish to get inside the mind of a man to find out truth of how he feels about love and romance?  Well now you can!
            The Fairy Tale Formula is a manual on the art of love and communication.  It will help you realize the adjustments needed in your dating and relationship life in order to get the success you deserve!  International Relationship Specialist and Dating Author, Elena Burnett, will reveal the solutions to you in her clear even-handed approach.
            This important book on dating and communication strategy will help you see love and romance through the eyes of men.  You may very well identify with more than one situation presented in these fairy tale ideas women have about men as you learn the reasons why they are not working.  Solutions will be provided to you in each of the cases discussed in the book.  These proven effective tools and tips will allow you to do your part correctly and make him fall for YOU!
            The REAL truth about men, dating and relating every woman needs to know.

About the author:
Elena was born in France and raised between Paris and Madrid.  Elena is Multilingual and world traveled, speaks French, Spanish, English and Italian.  She has been living in the United States for the past 14 years and received her Bachelor's Degree in Metaphysical Healing Art here as well.
            Elena is an International Relationship & Dating Specialist with more than 20 years of experience helping men and women in their romantic life, having studied extensively with Dr. Pat Allen. Elena is also a Spiritual Counselor.  Her interest in Alchemy and the Esoteric sciences spans her entire lifetime.  Her specialty in tarot card, palmistry, face analysis and numerology, with an emphasis on relationships of all types and career readings.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Kat de Falla


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hey, Kat.  Welcome to The Gal.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Kat de Falla:
My name is Kat (clap clap) I have teen spirit (clap clap) I don't do drugs (clap clap) So check me out!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are 5 things about you that most people don't know?

Kat de Falla:
Um, I guess you now know I love the Spartan Cheerleaders from SNL.


I'm a drug dealer.  JUST KIDDING - but I am a pharmacist!
I found my soulmate and it rocks!
I treat dogs like people even though I know they are dogs.
Going to bed every night makes me happy because I sincerely love sleeping!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Kat de Falla:
Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales before I was in school.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide to begin writing?

Kat de Falla:
I wrote an autobiography in 7th grade and when my teacher read it out loud to our class, she was laughing so hard she was crying.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Kat de Falla:
Must have my feet elevated.  My day job doesn't allow that, so my night job MUST!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Kat de Falla:
In a chair with my feet up (see above) :)

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Kat de Falla:
Only that there are not enough hours in the day to get out all the ideas in my head.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Kat de Falla:
Plot.  A flat character is still a character, but with no plot moving things forward...


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What book(s) have most influenced you?

Kat de Falla:
The complete works of William Shakespeare.  Seriously!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What inspires you most?

Kat de Falla:
My husband, my kids, my family.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where do the ideas for your book come from?

Kat de Falla:
Absolutely everywhere - watch out!  I have a plaque that says, "Careful, or you'll end up in my novel!"

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which of our characters do you think is the most like you?

Kat de Falla:
I want desperately to believe I'm one of my strong, female heroines.  But I'm WAY to clumsy.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating this book?

Kat de Falla:
That being a girl, I really missed out a lot during the BMX era while I was riding my banana seat bike carefully around the same city block.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think your readers will take away from this book?

Kat de Falla:
I really want little kiddos to read it and go, "Forget my video games, I'm going outside to ride my bike!"

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your book different than others that fall under this genre?

Kat de Falla:
I honestly don't know.  I hope it touches people, like writing it touches me.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's in your 'trunk'?  (Everyone has something that they've hidden away to work on, whether it's book related or not, 'when the time is right.'  What's yours?)

Kat de Falla:
I think my husband has some sort of survival kit in case I'm stuck in a snowstorm alone or my car breaks down.  Don't tell him, but I'd text him to come get me before I'd ever open that scary red bag.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Kat de Falla:
Love and laughter.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Thanks for stopping by, Kat.  It's been great having you.
            One more thing before you go: Where can we find you?

Kat de Falla:
Goodreads ** Blog ** Website ** Twitter ** Facebook


About the book:
Summer vacation is almost here!  And Pea O'Neil is stoked to try out the new local BMX track which is finally open.  He and his gang of friends can ride all summer long!
            But when Pea tries a back flip, he unwittingly opens a portal to another dimension and hordes of flying mutant zombie rats are unleashed upon the city.  With the help of an otherworldly talking cat sent to help prevent the demise of humankind, Pea and his friends must hunt down the hungry mutants and send them back before the portal closes.
            But when the zombie rats attack a neighbor man, the boys have to enlist the help of a graveyard looney and the city's stray cats.  With time running out, Pea and his gang track the monsters to the city's sewer system.  But in the city sewer of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, it's eat... or get eaten.


About the author:
Author Kat de Falla was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she learned to roller skate, ride a banana seat bike, and love Shakespeare thanks to her high school English teacher.
            Four years at the UW-Madison wasn't enough, so she returned to her beloved college town for her Doctor of Pharmacy degree and is happily employed as a retail pharmacist where she fills prescriptions and chats with her patients.
            She is married to her soul mate, composer Lee de Falla, and raising four kids together ala the Brady Bunch.

REVIEW: Flying Mutant Zombie Rats


Moto Maddie BMX Portal 1:
Flying Mutant Zombie Rats
By: Kat de Falla

Genre: Children, Scary Stories, Spine-Chilling Horror, Action & Adventure, Humorous

Publisher: Sunquills/Ravenswood Publishing
Publication date: 6.1.2015
Pages: 83

Recommended by: Worldwind Virtual Book Tours, Read 2 Review
Date read: 6.14.2015


I have to be honest: I really wasn't sure about this one at first.  I mean, the cover is pretty cool and the book description had me curious, but the first chapter didn't grab and hold my attention.  I am too hard-headed to give up, though, and decided to read it to some of the kids in my complex.  They loved it.  They loved it so much, they wouldn't let me stop reading.  We ended up finishing the whole story in one sitting (which really doesn't happen with this group) and they were quite upset that there wasn't another story with the same people (not yet, at least).  This turned out to be a really fun read, one I recommend to kids who love "this kind of stuff."


About the book:
Summer vacation is almost here!  And Pea O'Neil is stoked to try out the new local BMX track which is finally open.  He and his gang of friends can ride all summer long!
            But when Pea tries a back flip, he unwittingly opens a portal to another dimension and hordes of flying mutant zombie rats are unleashed upon the city.  With the help of an otherworldly talking cat sent to help prevent the demise of humankind, Pea and his friends must hunt down the hungry mutants and send them back before the portal closes.
            But when the zombie rats attack a neighbor man, the boys have to enlist the help of a graveyard looney and the city's stray cats.  With time running out, Pea and his gang track the monsters to the city's sewer system.  But in the city sewer of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, it's eat... or get eaten.


About the author:
Author Kat de Falla was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she learned to roller skate, ride a banana seat bike, and love Shakespeare thanks to her high school English teacher.
            Four years at the UW-Madison wasn't enough, so she returned to her beloved college town for her Doctor of Pharmacy degree and is happily employed as a retail pharmacist where she fills prescriptions and chats with her patients.
            She is married to her soul mate, composer Lee de Falla, and raising four kids together ala the Brady Bunch.