Tuesday, January 21, 2014

In the Stillness by Andrea Randall

Real life is hard. Don't let anyone tell you any differently. People put in the same situation deal with that situation in different ways. While this book dealt with situations that are out of my realm of understanding I consider it one of the top 10 that I've ever read. One of the best love stories hands down.

I don't cut. I don't know anyone who cuts. Last week my son came home from school telling me about his friend who got caught at school cutting. So, while I thought the premise didn't have anything to do with me life laughed & said 'oh yes it does'. That experience made me want to read this book even more.

The other thing is that I admire Charles Sheehan-Miles and love his books. When he recommends a book I take note. This read is a result of his recommendation.

Natalie is a wife and mother and terrible unhappy at both. A catastrophic event from her past has scarred her in more ways than one. When an unforeseeable event pushes her to make a decision, she has long struggled with, her past meets her future head on. Through her attempts at learning to cope with life's struggles she finds the person she used to be. A person whose past does not dictate her future.

I don't want to give too much away with this review, but I would be remiss in not telling you that it deals with some deep subject matter. PTSD and cutting are the main ones. My skin literally crawled reading this story, but if you can get through the first half, the second is not as tough. Aside from the cutting this story hit close to home for me in a lot of ways. I have yet to meet a mother who doesn't wish her kids away at some point in time.  Followed by a boat load of guilt for thinking it. The decisions we make in our teens and early 20's are often not the same ones we would make later in life. It's how we deal with those decisions that define us as people.

In trying to become a well rounded reader I vowed a long time ago to not pigeon hole myself into one genre of books. I have rarely been disappointed in this endeavor. So, I encourage you to step out of your box and try something new!



Monday, January 20, 2014

The Ultimate Decision by Cheri Lewis (Minor Spoilers)

I literally just got goosebumps typing that title! I'm weird like that! Why you ask? Because Cheri Lewis is my friend. I FREAKING KNOW A PUBLISHED AUTHOR! She sprung it on everyone as a surprise & man was I ever. I immediately purchased the book & dove in last night. Couldn't stop reading! Was up until 2:30 AM finishing it and I don't regret the book hangover I'm sporting today AT ALL!

As a first attempt at writing Cheri killed it! She brought me to tears in chapter 1 and I DON'T cry when reading. (Very often.) The characters are engaging and run the demographic spectrum. The children are spot-on with true childlike behavior, their mother is as neurotic and frantic as all mothers of 4 young children are, the Aunt is as sweet and feisty as you imagine all true southern ladies are, the developmentally delayed cousin is an accurate depiction of the world of the special needs, the 'man' is as sexy, sweet, strong and mysterious as you want all love interests to be, the best friend is an always-there-for-you-no-matter-what type of friend, her husband is as understanding as all husbands of best friends should be, the town sheriff is as attentive and hot as we wish all our law enforcement officials were, and the other characters in the town of Pollysdale, Alabama add nothing but the best to the storyline. No incidental characters to be found.

Millie is a 36 year old wife and mother deeply in love with her husband Carl. When embarrassing or difficult situations arise she wishes that she had the ability to just disappear. Wouldn't we all like that skill? The biggest curveball that life can throw you has been launched at Millie. She is facing life as a single mother with 4 small children and decides to uproot the family and move in with her Aunt Clara and developmentally delayed cousin James Allen AKA Chunk.  They are welcomed with open arms and while the kids adapt seemingly well Millie seems to find enough ups & downs for them all.  Meeting Alex, the 'caretaker' is her first dip into the pool of embarrassment that is her life. With major bed head, PJ pants, sans bra and coffee spilled all down her front she is looking less than stellar. Alex seemingly has a nefarious past that has all of Millie's mama radar on full alert. Thinking her Aunt Clara is entirely too trusting to invite Alex into her life she is on guard whenever he is around her or her children. As with all 'good' books chaos and romance ensue and I don't want to give anything else away so I'll stop there.  I will say that if you follow my blog and know my reading style you know how this one ends.

*This is the first in a 3 (?)  part series.

Random observations about this process:
-When approached by someone you know you don't think twice about paying to download their book & read it. It was less than five minutes after I found out that it was in my library.

-The $2.99 that I paid for the book was a bargain! I know taking a chance on an unknown is risky, but as in life "nothing ventured is nothing gained." I would gladly have spent double.

-Reading sex scenes written by your friend is a little weird. Especially when they are written so well! Dang girl!

-The behavior of the kids is very spot on for someone who doesn't have any!

-Based on my recommendation I think you should all download this book AND tell your friends about it. Also, make sure to leave reviews as we all know how important that is. It is hard to put yourself out there and open yourself up to the criticisms of the world. Please be kind (but honest) in your reviews!

I am standing tall and giving my friend Cheri a resounding standing O on this one!!!!!



Saturday, January 18, 2014

Heller's Regret Q&A with JD Nixon

I haven't blogged since December 9th so while hanging my head in shame I hope you consider this a worthy comeback. My favorite indie author hands down is JD Nixon. For many reasons that I won't share here but if you want to know just ask me. I presented these questions to her compiled from my own curiosity and yours. I was certainly pleased with her responses and hope you are too. Follow up questions are welcomed so feel free to share in comments.

BWAB: In retrospect most of the books are really about Tilly so why stick with the name Heller for all of them? This one was called Heller's Regret & really that only dealt with the last chapter. Just curious. 
JD: The books are from Tilly’s point of view, so it seemed natural to me that the titles would reflect the amazing man she meets, hence the Heller titles. That might not make much sense to anyone but me! 
BWAB: Did something that you saw or experience trigger the Sam storyline? More than one of us were completely freaked out by that whole thing and believe that you could transition to paranormal flawlessly. You may want to keep that in mind Image 
JD: The Samuel story is just me indulging in one of my interests, not from any experience I’ve had (I don’t believe in ghosts, but I’d loved to be proven wrong one day!). Because of all the vamp/were/witch books around, I didn’t like to explore that genre. But it all seems safe now to dip my toe in the paranormal ocean :-D 
I wrote the Samuel story a few years ago and almost ditched it. I’m glad I didn’t. I loved the way Heller never believed Tilly had gone crazy
BWAB: There appear to be two schools of thought on what is really going on with Heller. Theory 1 - He is getting all of his affairs in order to plan for Tilly to live a life without him in it. Highly anticipated that she will end up with Farrell. Is Heller planning on getting killed on one of his mystery jobs? Theory 2 - He is getting his affairs in order to spend his life with Tilly. His mystery jobs are to rid himself of past obligations/revenges/debts that are holding him back from moving forward with Tilly. Want to comment on if one or both are on the right track? (Guess which one is mine - LOL) 
JD: I can guess which one is yours, Valerie, lol!! But I don’t like to give out spoilers, so my lips are zipped. Sorry. 
BWAB: Even though I know what you will say I promised I would ask so: What is Heller doing on his secret missions? 
JD: Stuff
BWAB: How big of a role will Malefic play in the last book? I think it's pretty unanimous that we all hate him so good job with that. 
JD: Malefic won’t appear in any more Tilly books, but maybe another series . . . I love writing about him!                
BWAB: Are the cops that saw Malefic's van crash Tess &/or Finn? 
JD: Nope. I do plan a crossover story at some point, but it will probably take place on Tess’ domain, not Tilly’s. 
BWAB: Where was Victor?  
Is he in contact with Heller while he is gone? 
Will he reappear in the final book and will we finally get to meet him? 
IJD:  haven’t forgotten about Victor. I don’t want to say much about him because he (finally) appears in H7. 
**** I am throwing this out there now that I think Victor is Heller's dad :D
BWAB: Is Clive in contact with Heller while he is gone? We have differing opinions on this - I vote no. 
JD: I vote yes – to a point. Is Heller really out of contact during these times – yes. Is that by choice – no. 
**** So this answer kind of freaked me out - in a good way! I think I may be right about him after all!
BWAB: You told me in our prior Q&A that Clive was a character that could go either way with you. Have you decided which way that is or has he yet to reveal himself? He certainly thawed in this book. 
JD: I’d like for him and Tilly to reach a relationship where they could live and work together in harmony. I think he’s definitely starting to thaw – maybe Sid’s been working on him???!!!  
BWAB: Is Trent still in the story? Have we gotten to the kissing in the movie theater yet? 
JD: Yes and no. 
**** UGH! That means Tilly will be kissing Trent in H7. Why?????
BWAB: This book came across as less humorous than the previous ones. Was that a deliberate move on your part? I looked at this as more of a transition book. Tying things together and showing Tilly's growth as a character. True? 
JD: I didn’t have a good time last year as some of you might know, and I find it hard to be lighthearted and funny when I’m not feeling it. But this was always going to be the difficult book. Next one should be funnier (I hope – fingers crossed). 
Also, I dislike series where characters never learn or grow. They stagnate after a while. And I say this as a reader, having abandoned more than a few series that I formerly loved with great passion, but have sadly dragged on for far too long with no hope of any end in sight . . .  
BWAB: Going along with that thought Tilly seemed more contemplative this go around. Before when she was recouping/recovering she would spend more time with Daniel & Niq. This time she was alone. Was this a conscious decision on your part? 
*We all enjoyed the fact that she has reconnected with Brian 
JD: Yeah, she was more contemplative. Big life hits do that to people (as we all know). 
But also, I have a big cast of characters, so need to ensure some of them have the spotlight in each book. This time it was Clive & Farrell  
BWAB: Is Tilly's kidnapping associated with Heller's distant past (his secretive one), his recent past (since opening Heller's) or none of the above? I want to know if it's associated with him personally or professionally. 
JD: Heller’s good at making enemies. It was his recent past in that situation, but distant past people haven’t forgotten him either (he’s hard to forget!). 
***** Any ideas on who? I guess the obvious choice would be Select Security.
BWAB: There is some speculation as to whether you would kill Heller off. You have stated in the past that you don't care for Heller so would you go so far as to get rid of him or have you changed your opinion on him? I know you wouldn't do this to me......right?????????????????? I would DIE! 
JD: No, no, no, no, NO!!! I’d never kill Heller! He annoys me for being such a stereotypical alpha male (and here’s me talking about him as if I didn’t create him exactly that way), but he does good in the world too. No, Heller and I have a complicated relationship, but I wouldn’t kill him. Maybe  
**** Hellelujah! Maybe :(
BWAB: The newest trend is to write a novella/book from another characters POV. Would you consider doing this from Heller's POV? That would be awesome!!!! 
JD: Aw, I don’t want to get inside Heller’s brain. Don’t make me go there!!! Please!!! 
**** I'm ok with this answer because as much as I love Heller, and I do love me some Heller, he really is an ass! I don't want to hear his thoughts if they are ass-holey!
BWAB: What ideas do you have for a crossover book between Tilly & Tess? Any concrete thoughts yet or are you still working them out? 
JD: Really haven’t started thinking about it except it will be something that brings the Heller team to Tessie’s territory. I want to see them butting heads with the Bycrafts and the Super :-D She wouldn’t be a pushover for Heller’s good looks!! 
**** Heller vs. the Bycrafts?????? Hell yeah!
BWAB: Several people think that you will not grant us a HEA for both series. Have you thought that far in depth or are they independent of each other in that aspect? I know that the characters are leading you in a certain direction & your HEA will not be mine (sob), but I can't see you being so 'cruel' as to kill off main characters (Heller!) when so many of us are invested so deeply. Keep that in mind too Image 
JD: I’ve known from the beginning how both series will end. My lovely Tilly and Tessie will make the best decisions for their futures  
PS – I’m not a cruel person at all  
BWAB: Finally, will the final book be longer in length? We are doubtful (sorry) that you will be able to wrap up so many loose ends in one more book. Reading between the lines, we are all for more than one book if that is what it takes! You told me in a previous Q&A that we won't get resolution to all of our favorite characters. Do you already know who is getting left out? Want to tell us who? 
IJD:  guess I’ll have to re-evaluate when I start writing H7. I hope to wrap it all up in one book, but it might be too big to do (with so many characters). With Tessie, I will wrap it up, but it will be in an unusual way. Sorry to be so enigmatic, but I really dislike giving out spoilers  
BWAB: Thank you so much! I hope you enjoy reading & sharing as much as we do.  
I’m bowing my head and thanking everyone for taking a chance on an unknown author. Thank you for reading my books