This is a place to read what I think about various books and to give your own opinions about books. I am a plain-spoken person but this is not the place for any hurtful words. Doesn't accomplish anything for anyone.
After the USSR collapses, a time reminiscent of the unforgiving gun-slinging days of the frontier west, mild-mannered Ethan and fiery Sophia board a plane bound for Russia. They hope to prevail with their homespun plan to secure their son's safe passage to America. What can go wrong? Maybe, an innocent ill fated encounter with the Mafia or maybe, being marked as a target for mob revenge. Perhaps, having to rely on a first-time adoption coordinator to complete the process and shelter them from harm. Honestly, what won't go wrong?
Inspired by a true story, Beautiful Evil Winter triumphs as epic historical fiction about the human capacity for hope, the traumas that shape our lives and the hardships we'll endure for love.
Kelly K. Lavender will be awarding $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. SEEGIVEAWAYbelow... EXCERPT
I push the door open and inhale a shallow breath. The smell of pump soap greets me. All clear. I can breathe.
Ting, Ting. The strained voice of the stressed-out flight attendant echoes through the tiny bathroom cabin.
“Within the next twenty minutes, The Captain will be turning on the fasten seat belt sign. Until then, you can use your electronic devices. We apologize for the inconvenience”
Turning from the sink to the opposite side to grab paper towels, all 5’2” 115 pounds of me twists like a corkscrew to move around. A quick swipe of the towels, a glance at my nostrils, a push of the level, and I’m free to escape into the main cabin.
As I near my seat, I notice that “Mr. Too Brightly” is sitting next to Ethan.
Damn! I have to sit next to him! Looks like comatose Ethan has just re-positioned himself to face the aisle way. Why doesn’t this plane offer two across seating instead of three?
My steps slow, but I don’t want to wake Ethan up to swap seats since he’s so tired.
As I stand next to our row of seats, Mr. Brightly realizes with a dazzling repugnant smile that I’ll be seated next to him.
“Don’t tell me you’re with that guy,” he says, gesturing at Ethan. “He’s out cold.” Between the screaming baby and me trying to wedge past him, he hasn’t moved an inch.” He smirks, his smile now a beacon of light.
I grit my teeth and carefully squeeze by Ethan’s knees grabbing the headrest of the seat in front of me for support. Glancing back over my shoulder, I see him looking at Ethan.
I focus on the seat space next to him, zeroing-in on the instructions on the pocket pouch for my seat. Someone scribbled in red pen, HELL A MILE HIGH.
As I wiggle into my seat and grope for my seatbelt, he watches my every move.
“Lucky me!” he says as he cranes his neck over my armrest to glance down my V-neck shirt.
“The flight attendant let me change seats. Person next to me was sick. She coughed all over me,” he says, waving his hand in front of his face as if shooing flies.
A puff of whiskey more noxious than cigarette smoke wafts my way. My nose wrinkles in disgust.
“Now, honey, tell me all about you,” he says patting my white knuckles which grip the armrest.
Adopting a child is so very frightening in and of itself. Hoping you have done the right thing and traveled all the way to Russia to claim that child, even more so. This book seems so real. I have no real idea what adopting a Russian baby is like. I did a little online research because this book seemed so alive; like someone’s true experience. Even the suspense was written well enough to make you think you were reading someone’s true story. A definite compliment to the author. This is however, a fiction story of a couple wanting a child so badly that they will do almost anything they are told to be able to adopt this child and take it home to the States. There are many bumps in the road along the way. With no surprise, the experience has an effect on their relationship.
There were some characters in Lavendar’s book I liked and some I didn’t but then I think that is the sign of an author being very good at character description and development. When Natasha, their caretaker, insists they must stay in the apartment for their safety, the author’s description of their time and the discomfort even had me feeling the same anxiety. I had decided that I was going to describe this as a long book but I don’t think that is a correct description. I realized that the tense and suspenseful moments were written so well that the book was not long but rather I was uncomfortable wanting to solve those problems the family had to endure. Another sign of good writing. Definitely a book to read or put on your wish list.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Kelly’s fascination with fiction began in middle school when she entered a book-reading contest and won. As an ardent fan of the resonating narrative and the cliffhanger, she decided to dedicate herself to becoming a skilled writer. When college professors spotlighted her writing in the classroom, it anchored her interest in becoming a novelist.
After earning a business degree, she continued to pursue her education at UCLA, via the UCLA Writers' Extension Program, where her work earned praise from an Award-Winning Author. A rickety project trip to Russia, to adopt a baby boy, provided the inspiration for her debut novel, Beautiful Evil Winter.
READERS’ FAVORITE INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARDS
Beautiful Evil Winter a 2014 Triple Genre Finalist: Fiction-Suspense, Fiction-Thriller-General and Romance Sizzle! Readers’ Favorite receives entries from small presses, celebrities and New York Times Best-Selling Authors. Beautiful Evil Winter earned more accolades with READERS FAVORITE INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARDS by securing a place in the Winners' Circle for the mega category—Fiction Suspense.
THE ERIC HOFFER AWARDS honored Beautiful Evil Winter by selecting it for the Winners' Circle-Commercial Fiction! The Hoffer Award honors "...writing of significant merit..."
The NATIONAL INDIE EXCELLENCE AWARDS chose Beautiful Evil Winter as a New Fiction Finalist!
DAN POYNTER'S GLOBAL EBOOK AWARDS placed Beautiful Evil Winter in the Winners' Circle for Fiction-Suspense
Plenty, my second novel, also earned distinction as a DAN POYNTER'S 2016 GLOBAL EBOOK AWARD BRONZE MEDALIST-FICTION SUSPENSE.
Nava is happily settling into her new relationship and life is all giddy joy and stolen kisses.
Except when it’s assassins. Talk about a mood killer.
She and Rohan are tracking the unlikely partnership between the Brotherhood and a witch who can bind demons, but every new piece of the puzzle is leaving them with more questions than answers.
And someone doesn’t appreciate them getting close to the truth.
On top of that, a demon known only as Candyman has unleashed a drug that’s harming users in extremely disturbing ways.
After a friend of Nava’s is hurt, she vows to take this demon down. But will life as she knows it survive this mission, or will this be the one time she should have looked before she leapt?
Happily-ever-after: barring death, she’s got a real shot at it.
Rohan parked, cut the engine, and turned to me, his eyes hot. “Know what else I don’t like?”
I licked my lips, remembered that wasn’t an answer and shook my head.
“Making me sit through dinner, watching you in that dress. Cruel.”
“You’ve been copping feels all the way home.
“It’s not enough.”
I snickered, but when he slammed his precious car’s door in his haste to get me inside, I may have set a new record for speed-walking in heels.
We barely made it into his bedroom before, mouth on mine, he pressed me back against the wall. His teeth dragged over my lower lip before his tongue slipped inside. He trailed his magic finger blades over my shoulder and bare back, just enough to leave faint marks that I’d shiver staring at in the bathroom mirror later.
Sliding my hand under his shirt, I skimmed my fingers along the ridges of his sculpted abs. He retracted his blades and I broke the kiss to draw his fingers into my mouth, my tongue swirling around each one in turn. Pinching his nipples with my other hand, I rubbed my bare thigh up his leg. His sigh rumbled over me.
A furious ache built to a throbbing pulse inside me.
Rohan sucked on my neck and I tilted my head to give him better access to the sensitive skin. He caressed my cheek with the back of his hand, pinning me with this filthy eye-fuck that made my stomach flutter. “Wrap your legs around me.”
The author will be giving away a $10 Amazon/BN GC at a random drawing. (see below)
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
A global wanderer, hopeless romantic, and total cynic with a broken edit button, Deborah writes urban fantasy to satisfy her love of smexy romances and tales of chicks who kick ass. This award-winning author is all about the happily-ever-after, with a huge dose of hilarity along the way. “It takes a bad girl to fight evil. Go Wilde.”
In the bestselling tradition of Hidden Figures and The Wives of Los Alamos, comes this riveting novel of the everyday people who worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II.
“What you see here, what you hear here, what you do here, let it stay here.”
In November 1944, eighteen-year-old June Walker boards an unmarked bus, destined for a city that doesn’t officially exist. Oak Ridge, Tennessee has sprung up in a matter of months—a town of trailers and segregated houses, 24-hour cafeterias, and constant security checks. There, June joins hundreds of other young girls operating massive machines whose purpose is never explained. They know they are helping to win the war, but must ask no questions and reveal nothing to outsiders.
The girls spend their evenings socializing and flirting with soldiers, scientists, and workmen at dances and movies, bowling alleys and canteens. June longs to know more about their top-secret assignment and begins an affair with Sam Cantor, the young Jewish physicist from New York who oversees the lab where she works and understands the end goal only too well, while her beautiful roommate Cici is on her own mission: to find a wealthy husband and escape her sharecropper roots. Across town, African-American construction worker Joe Brewer knows nothing of the government’s plans, only that his new job pays enough to make it worth leaving his family behind, at least for now. But a breach in security will intertwine his fate with June’s search for answers.
When the bombing of Hiroshima brings the truth about Oak Ridge into devastating focus, June must confront her ideals about loyalty, patriotism, and war itself.
GIVEAWAY: Three randomly drawn readers will receive a digital copy of the book. (See Sign-in below)
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Born and raised in East Tennessee, Janet Beard moved to New York to study screenwriting at NYU and went on to earn an MFA in creative writing from The New School. Her first novel, Beneath the Pines, was published in 2008. Janet has lived and worked in Australia, England, Boston, and currently, Columbus, Ohio, where she is teaching writing, raising a daughter, and working on a new novel.
Racing the Tide, Book one in the TETRAD Group series.
Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Cole and Gabby, undercover in Vancouver’s Chinatown, have no time for the attraction developing between them. Not when the race is on to rescue a kidnap victim before time runs out.
My name is Cole McClintock. My new job with the TETRAD Group has me working with a woman that’s gotten me so tied up in unfuckingbelievable knots that I’m a certifiable nut job. I mean, just look at her. The woman is beyond hot with those big doe eyes and luscious curves that makes me want to possess every single inch of her.
One look at Cole McClintock and knew I should stay right the fuck away from him. My name is Gabriella Banks and I’d be the first to admit I’m complicated, but at least my job as a new operative with The TETRAD Group keeps me too busy to dwell on my lack of a sex life. I never thought I’d be admitting this, but my strong-woman exterior hides a craving for something more—something only Cole can provide…
“Hey, you in there or in La La Land? Just one more, sis, okay? I need a little more time to catch that new guy’s eye,” Celine stage-whispered in her ear. She nodded in the direction of a man striding toward them. He sat at an empty table less than eight feet away. Hmm. He
looked like the kind of guy who thought he was every woman’s fantasy, his polished yet scruffy appearance a ploy at pretending he didn’t care. She’d bet he used one of those special razors that kept his beard that precise length. No one was that good-looking without doing a little something.
A big, wide-shouldered man, he wasn’t dressed like the rest of the patrons, having opted for a black T-shirt and faded blue jeans. He spoke to the waitress in a gravelly voice, asking about takeout, and she handed him a menu. He glanced over, checking both of them out then coming back to lock eyes with her for that split second that men and women share in bars.
Only this time, the effect was paralyzing. His eyes were whiskey-brown and shadowed. And they were hard. Flint hard. Every line of muscle in his handsome face was tight and tense. Worry or something more disturbing? The corner of his mouth twitched into a semblance of a smile that didn’t reached his eyes. The air between them crackled with tension like a direct hit from a lightning bolt. What the hell? Her lips parting, she took a sharp intake of breath, steadying herself. Then he looked away, breaking eye contact. She swallowed hard. Whoa. What just happened?
“What? That pretty boy?” Gabby said, whispering into her sister’s ear, pretending indifference. She twisted in the chair, facing another direction. She’d seen way too much of what men were capable to ever fall for someone who looked that full of himself. Or that good.
January Bain will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. (see below)
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
January Bain has wished on every falling star, every blown-out birthday candle, and every coin thrown in a fountain to be a storyteller. To share the tales of high adventure, mysteries, and full blown thrillers she has dreamed of all her life. The story you now have in your hands is the compilation of a lot of things manifesting itself for this special series. Hundreds of hours spent researching the unusual and the mundane have come together to create a series that features strong women who don’t take life too seriously, wild adventures full of twists and unforeseen turns, and hot complicated men who aren’t afraid to take risks. She
can only hope the stories of her beloved Brass Ringers will capture your imagination as you follow their exploits as much as they did when she wrote them.
If you are looking for January Bain, you can find her hard at work every morning without fail in her office with two furry babies trying to prove who does a better job of guarding the doorway. And, of course, she’s married to the most romantic man! Who once famously remarked to her inquiry about buying fresh flowers for their home every week, “Give me one good reason why not?” Leaving her speechless and knocking her head against the proverbial wall for being so darn foolish. She loves flowers.
If you wish to connect in the virtual world she is easily found on Facebook, twitter and writes a weekly blog about her journey on Blogger. Oh, and she loves to talk books…
Two years ago I made a mistake, a big one, and then I threw in another couple just for good measure. I screwed up my life big time but I made it through. I was lucky.
Then I was given the opportunity for a fresh start. Two years in Auckland, NZ, ‘The City of Sails’. Away from the LA gossip, a chance to breathe, to get my life back together.
I grabbed it and packed my new set of golden rules with me.
I don’t do relationships.
I don’t do commitment.
I don’t do white picket fences.
And I especially don’t do arrogant, holier-than-thou, smoking hot K9 officers who walk into my ER and rock my world.
The only thing I know for certain about Dr. Michael Oliver is the guy is an arrogant, untrustworthy player, and I’d barely survived the last one of those in my life. Once was more than enough.
The man might be gorgeous but my eleven-year-old daughter takes number one priority and I won’t risk her being hurt, again. I’m a solo dad, a K9 cop and a son to pain in the ass, bigoted parents.
I don’t have time for games.
I don’t have time for taking chances.
I don’t have time for more complications in my life.
And I sure as hell don’t have time for the infuriating Dr. Michael Oliver, however damn sexy he is.
The young officer behind Josh attempted to block the man’s escape only to have the knife sweep up and slice his defensive arm from wrist to shoulder. The intruder then threw him against the wall with a sickening crack and the officer slid to the floor, a spray of bright red blood arcing up against the cream paint.
Arterial. Shit. Michael instinctively surged from under the table toward the injured officer but stopped short when he realized his movement had drawn the intruder’s attention. They locked eyes, staring at each other for no more than a few seconds before the knifeman lurched toward him. Michael stumbled back against the wall just as the shepherd erupted from the corridor to his right and hurled himself at the knife once again. The guy’s arm spun in a wide arc toward the airborne animal, sending it careening into the bar. The act granted the man enough time to make it out the front door before the dog scrambled to its feet in pursuit.
“Paris!” the handler shouted as he caught sight of his colleague sprawled in a pool of blood on the floor, but the dog was gone. “Damn.” He spoke urgently into his radio then fell to his knees alongside the young officer. A commotion from the other side of the emergency exit broke in waves through the bar but the handler ignored it, focused solely on his injured colleague and putting pressure on the pumping wound as he shook the young man’s shoulder. “Jackson!”
In seconds, Michael was on his knees alongside the handler, dimly aware of the other man’s heat as their thighs pressed together. The wound was pumping big. “Move,” he ordered the man without thinking, only realizing his mistake too late.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Jay is a New Zealand author writing in the LGBTQIA genre in MM Romance and Fantasy.
She has travelled extensively and lived in many places including the US, Canada, France, Australia and South Korea, and loves to add experiences from these adventures into her writing.
She is a cat aficionado especially of Maine Coons, and an avid dog lover (but don’t tell the cat). She loves to cook- pretty damn good, loves to sing - pretty damn average, and as for parenting a gorgeous daughter-well that depends on the day.
She has lovely complex boys telling sweet sexy stories in her head that demand attention and a considerable number of words to go with them. Their journeys are never straightforward and can even surprise Jay, but the end is always satisfying.
Today I thought I'd tell you about 7 of my favorite characters in my favorite genre...mystery. I just bet a lot of you will be familiar with them.
My Mystery Friends & Their Creators Travis McGee - by John McDonald (1916-1986, sold over 70,000,000 books in his career)
McDonald wrote 21 books about Travis McGee, a "salvage consultant" who lived on a houseboat called The Busted Flush. He was a hunk, carefree, moral and I was always convinced he had a beautiful tan. In my mind he was that rugged kind of beautiful and handsome at the same time. I hate to re-read books but I may have to do all of these again...
Elvis Cole - by Robert Crais (born 1953, still living; wrote screen plays for Miami Vice, Hill Street Blues and Cagney & Lacey; has written more than 20 novels)
Crais wrote about Elvis Cole who called himself the "World's Greatest Detective". Elvis is a Vietnam Vet, Tough guy; nice guy. Truly an unorthodox smart-ass P. I. Friend of tough (and a little scary) Joe Pike. Has a Mickey Mouse phone and a Pinocchio wall-clock. in his office. Conscientious and tough under all of his bluster. I have no real picture of him in my mind except tall and maybe even a little awkward but stronger than the bad guys. Sort of Gomer Pylish. I love him though.
Spencer created by Robert Parker (born in 1938, still living; has published 100+ books)
Parker created Spenser as a tough, ex-boxer, ex-cop, smart-mouth, loveable, educated, gourmet cook with a steady girlfriend. I loved his pal Hawk just as much as I loved Joe Pike. To me Spenser was just as handsome and debonair as I am sure Stuart Woods' Stone Barrington must be. In fact, I may have to go back and read these again too. There's never enough time is there...sigh.
Joe Pickett created by C. J. Box (born 1958, still living, at 59 years of age, his 21 books have been published in 27 languages and he has sold over 10,000,000 copies)
Box created Joe Pickett as a good, honorable man with a beautiful family saving our world one poacher and one bad guy at a time. This sounds boring but in my mind Joe Pickett looks just like a happy family man. No smart mouthing in Joe Pickett's house. I have loved all of this guy's books and I think a huge reason is because he always wants to do the right thing. Truly a good guy.
Kinsey Milhone - Sue Grafton (1940-2017) We lost a great author in Sue Grafton this year. Famous for her "alphabet series"
Another ex-cop turned P.I., Kinsey Milhone lives over a garage in a beautifully designed tiny apartment. She lives there because the first garage was burned down and not because her landlord Henry is a baker. Someone tried to kill her and it wasn't the last time. Henry's like family and bakes breads, and goodies to dream for. In his 80's he sounds like the sexiest octogenarian ever. Kinsey seems to have different boyfriends on and off but that's because there has been a book for every letter of the alphabet except Z. Kinsey reminds me of a grown-up Nancy Drew...least in my picture of her.
Matthew Scudder - Lawrence Block (born in 1938 and still living; has published more than 50 novels and more than 100 short stories)
Matthew Scudder is another ex-cop who does favors for friends. An alcoholic down on his luck. There are eighteen of these great Matthew Scudder books, every one of them great in my opinion. In my mind...Matthew looks like a handsome guy obviously having lived a hard life.
Here's from Lawrence Block: “I started writing about Matthew Scudder in the mid-1970s, and it’s been a great pleasure watching him grow and evolve over the years. An aspect of the realism of the series is that Scudder has aged in real time; he’s forty years older than he was when I started chronicling his fictive existence. If I have one piece of advice for y’all, it’s this: "Don’t age in real time. I’m talking about you, not your characters. Slow down. What’s the damn hurry?”
Alison Reynolds - J.A. Jance (born in 1944 and still living; has 26 novels involving 4 different sets of characters)
Out of work newscaster (out of work because her face is getting older, like mine). Ali Reynolds is a strong character. After leaving her cheating husband and taking her son to Arizona, (she has a great son) she meets an out-of-site computer geek that causes them to try and help people. I guess I love the high-tech stuff. In my mind she looks like just like the cop on Castle. Don't know why except it's what I have in my mind.
Stone Barrington - Stuart Woods (born in 1938, remarried in 2013, still living; has written more than 60 novels)
Woods created Barrington as polished, wealthy, educated, a very successful lawyer and yet another ex cop who left the squad
because he wouldn't follow orders. Kind of lives like the "jet set" and always has a new woman in his bed. Books are getting a little "spicy" but I've still read every one and still will as they come out. No question he looks like a younger James Bond to me mixed with Remington Steele.
You might already have realized that favorites of my Mystery Friends tend to be tough, smart-mouthed P.I.s but I've tried to be a little fair and add some pretty spectacular women. There are lots more of both sexes. Do you have some favorites?
Some people are excellent at enjoying many genres of reading material. I have to say that is not so true with me. So...I would enjoy your help when you read a fantastic book. Send me a title and an author accompanied by the genre (this could mean mystery, sci fi, self-help, non-fiction, cooking, romance, etc.) and maybe two or three sentences about why you liked the book. Not what the book is about; people who like to read can figure that out by reading it. To me, reviews are supposed to contain reasons I might like to read a particular book or maybe why you enjoyed a particular book. You can place this info in a comment and I'll verify I received it within a few hours.