Alien Contact for Kid Sisters by Edward Hoornaert

Alien Contact for Kid Sisters by Edward Hoornaert
Publisher: self
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full (323 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Review by: Rose

Marianne Harmon is sick and tired of being just the kid sister of the famous queen of Kwadra Island. Although she daydreams about being a warrior, when rebels bomb the royal ball she’s shunted to one of the many tunnels that honeycomb Kwadra, where she awaits a captain of the valiant Royal Guardians.

Quinn Lebatarde, a scam artist fleeing the police, dons the uniform of a Royal Guardian killed by a tunnel collapse. When Marianne mistakes him for her bodyguard, Quinn can’t decide whether to save the feisty maiden, fall in love with her—or kidnap her. With bloodthirsty rebels pursuing them and a treasure map in his pocket, what will he choose?

I really enjoyed this book and all the characters (especially Quinn.. the banter between him and Marianne had me giggling.) Even though this is the second book in the series, it can easily be read alone- although it did make me want to read the first book to find out more about the Kwadrans and how Marianne’s older sister, Elinor, became the Kwadran queen.

The characters are all fully drawn—they have their faults, but they grow over the course of the book. The chemistry between Marianne and Quinn is reminiscent of that between Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner in Romancing the Stone (not a coincidence that this movie is referenced in the book blurb!) The action was strong, and the hardships Quinn and Marianne go through on their journey plays a great part in their growth.

Mr. Hoornaert’s writing is clean and tight—it was a pleasure to read and I’m looking forward to reading more of his works.

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Beautiful Crazy by Kasey Lane – Q&A and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Kasey Lane, who is celebrating the release of her latest book Beautiful Crazy. Leave a comment or ask the author a question for a chance to win a copy of the book (US/Canada only).

What is your favorite non-writing pastime?

I’m a voracious reader. Reading romance is both my research and mediation. I work and write so much that I really value my family time. My kids are teens (one in college and the other in middle school) so I really value any time they want to spend with me or my husband. Recently I’ve started hiking (or walking up small inclines very slowly) with my family and sometimes friends. I suck at it, but the area we live in is so beautiful I’m trying to stick with it.

When did you decide to take that step that made you a published author?

I’ve always wanted to write romance, but never did much more than talk about it. My husband finally got sick of me saying “I should write a book.” When NaNoWriMo rolled around in 2013 he said I should stop whining about wanting to write and just do it. So I did. An early version of Beautiful Crazy led to a few offers from small publishers and an offer of representation from my agent, Cate Hart. Cate helped me polish the manuscript and then we sent it out to Cat at Sourcebooks. She asked for some more tweaking and then offered me a contract for the Rock ‘n’ Ink series.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

Crushing self-doubt. I still struggle with it, but I have learned to push through and just keep writing. Having other writer friends is extremely helpful. Sometimes they’re super supportive and compassionate. Other times it’s pretty much “suck it up, buttercup.”

Also, starting a new career in my 40s has been challenging, but in a good way. I’ve been doing my day job for almost two decades so I’m pretty confident in that area. But writing and the publishing industry are still so new to me that I sometimes feel a little lost. I love it though.

Is writing a full-time career for you? If not, how else do you spend your work day?

I hope I’ll be able to write full time within 5 years. Until then I write whenever I have more than 10 minutes to myself, but mostly I write at lunch, at night, and on the weekends. By day I’m a marketing director for a hardware company that I helped found.

10_26-kasey-book-coverShe’s a rocker with attitude and ink…

He’s a sexy suit who gets what he wants

Kevan Landry is trying to keep her life on track and her brother in rehab. If her fledgling marketing firm can sign the hot new band, Manix Curse, it will make a world of difference. Mason Dillon heads the most successful music PR firm in Portland. He’s desperate to breathe new life into the company by signing Manix Curse.

The last thing either one needs is a one-night stand with a smoldering stranger…

The stakes are high when a battle for the band—in the bedroom and the boardroom—becomes a battle of the heart. But if these two can set aside their differences, they may find they’re the right mix of sexy savvy to conquer both their worlds.

About the Author: Award-winning debut author KASEY LANE writes sexy romances featuring music, hot guys with ink, kick-ass women, and always a happily ever after. A California transplant, she lives with her high school crush turned husband, two smart but devilish kids, two Papillons, three cats, and several chickens in the lush Oregon forest.

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Walking Savannah by Terri-Lynne Defino and The Crush by Heather Heyford – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The authors will be awarding digital copies of both books on tour to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

mediakit_bookcover_thecrushTHE CRUSH

In the first of Heather Heyford’s new series, set in Oregon’s Willamette Valley wine country, the grape isn’t the only source of intoxication . . .

A Perfect Pairing

Juniper Hart has her dream job—or rather, her dream job has her. Under Junie’s management, the winery her late father started is finally getting noticed. But she’s lonely, deep in debt, and overwhelmed with work. Even if she had time to date, the only men she meets are smug, stemware-breaking hotshots like Lieutenant Manolo Santos, whose good looks and smooth charm don’t half make up for the sour taste he leaves on Junie’s palate.

After years as an army engineer and a childhood in a restaurant kitchen, Manolo can see Junie’s winery is about to go sideways—and he’s bursting with ideas to help. Except Junie’s far too magnetic for comfort. He left New Jersey to escape becoming one more Santos man shackled to a captivating woman and a failing family business. But in the misty hills of Oregon, with a sip of supple pinot on his tongue, pulling away is the last thing he wants to do . . .

mediakit_bookcover_wakingsavannahWAKING SAVANNAH

Bitterly, Connecticut, has been a haven for a woman shattered by painful memories—until a handsome stranger appears and threatens to awaken the ghosts of her past…

For the last eleven years, Savannah Callowell has led a peaceful existence in Bitterly. As the owner of an old farm, she’s mostly kept to herself, not daring to let anyone get too close. None of her neighbors know that she’s haunted by tragedy, and she’s done everything possible to escape her ghosts. She thinks she’s succeeding, until her new foreman shows up—and he’s far from being the college kid she was expecting…

A worldly former professor, Adelmo Gallegos has his own reasons for wanting to hide out on Savvy’s farm, and he isn’t about to share them with anyone, not even his enticing new boss. Still, Ade can’t help himself, the more time he spends with Savannah, the more he longs to lure her out of her protective shell. But how can he convince her that opening her heart is the only way to heal? Especially since he too has secrets he’s unwilling to share? Only when the past catches up with them may they be able to free themselves of it…

Enjoy an Excerpt from The Crush:

A pang of empathy hit him. “Don’t worry, Buttercup.” He crooked a knuckle under her chin. “Just wait till I get finished with this place. . . .”

That one square inch of skin fused them together like a magnet. His feet stepped closer of their own accord until the toes of his boots bumped hers.

Her lips relaxed and parted. He scrutinized every inch of her face, seeking fault . . . justification to quell his growing desire. It was true. Junie wasn’t a conventional beauty. Her features were a tad too strong, and freckles from working outside sprinkled her nose. But with no makeup diverting attention from them, her irises shone like sapphires. Even under the glaring summer sun, her naked skin was poreless, her cheeks downy as peach fuzz. She was like an organic fruit, imperfect on the surface but better for you in the ways that counted.

His body stiffened with lust. But this was no run-of-the-mill at- traction. An undercurrent of danger ran through it. His heart pounded like it did the moment his CO announced, “Operation mobile” unexpectedly and he knew all of his skills were about to be tested to the limit. At moments like that—when a man was never closer to death—he never felt more alive.

His fingers spread to cup her jaw possessively. He tipped her head back, sending her Ducks cap tumbling backward onto to the ground. Slowly, slowly his head descended until only inches sepa- rated their lips. His own jaw tightened with the effort of restraint. It took every ounce of self-control he had not to throw caution to the wind, rip that baggy white suit right off, and lay her down in the mid- dle of the vineyard in broad daylight. If she were any other woman . . .

About the Authors:

Heather Heyford learned to walk and talk in Texas, then moved to England (“Y’all want some scones?”). While in Europe, Heather was forced by her cruel parents to spend Saturdays in the leopard vinyl backseat of their Peugeot, motoring from one medieval pile to the next for the lame purpose of “learning something.” What she soon learned was how to allay the boredom by stashing a Cosmo under the seat. Now a recovering teacher, Heather writes romance, feeds hardboiled eggs to suburban foxes, and makes art in the Mid-Atlantic. She is represented by the Nancy Yost Literary Agency.

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Terri-Lynne Defino – Writer, cat-wrangler, sparklequeen. My first fantasy novel, Finder, was published by Hadley Rille Books in October, 2010, followed by: A Time Never Lived in 2012, and Beyond the Gate in 2013. October 2015 saw the release of Seeking Carolina (first in the Bitterly Suite Series) from Lyrical, an imprint of Kensington Publishing, and my first attempt at romantic women’s fiction.

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Why You Will Love and Hate Inspector Shivaji Chavan by Ashish Malpani – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ashish Malpani will be awarding $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Why will you love and hate the protagonist of ‘Ten Days in October’

Inspector Shivaji Chavan, the protagonist of ‘Ten Days in October’ is police station in charge for a small rural Indian town called Sangamner. He is newly transferred and still trying to learn about the town and the people. He is a family man and moves to the town with his wife and son. He loves drinking chai (masala tea) and whiskey. Chavan also loves riding his bullet motorcycle and believes that his strong physique looks good riding the iron. The story begins when he suspects that the public suicide of local jeweler Anil Kokate may be a homicide.

As the story progresses, we learn more about Chavan and his view of the world. When I initially sketched out Chavan’s character, I did spend some time sketching out his social life, his beliefs and his work style. After the first pass, I could see the reflection of quite a few people I have met throughout my life in his character. He is a responsible police officer who is genuinely interested in solving the crimes. He believes in his instincts and looks at all the possibilities in detail. He doesn’t shy away from work and continues his quest without taking a break even when he is getting pressured from his superiors, media and people of the town. At the same time, he does spend time with his family and tries to balance work and life. You will grow into liking Chavan as the story unfolds.

However, being a typical Indian man, he does show signs of patriarchal thinking and does take his wife for granted. One of my friends who read the novel jokingly said that if her husband woke her up early in the morning to make a tea for him, she will throw him out of the house. That is why she didn’t like Chavan. He does expect his wife to listen to him. He can’t break away from the shackles altogether. I also see myself too facing the same issue sometimes. Does that make someone hate Chavan? Maybe!

The reason to hate him the most is when he reveals his philosophy and justifies taking bribe from someone who has the means. One of the reviewers of novel said he wished that Chavan will be totally good guy and may be his team is taking the bribe without his knowledge. And he felt disappointed to find out that Chavan was in on it. For me, I see Chavan as a complex character who wants to do good but he is sucked into the system and developed his own justification for doing things that we won’t expect from a typical ‘good guy’. I wanted to keep the portrayal close to reality but may be that damages Chavan’s image.
Finally, when Chavan faces the killer and solves the moral dilemma about the identity of the killer, you will love him again. I believe that I have given justice to his character and it is up to you to decide whether you love him or hate him.

Print5 a.m. phone call broke Police Inspector Shivaji Chavan’s sleep informing him that local jeweler Anil Kokate, was found hanging from a tree on the banks of Pravara River in a small town of rural India. Although the signs point to an open and shut case of suicide, Chavan suspects foul play. While trying to find the missing pieces of the story he finds more hidden skeletons and comes across astonishing & cruel past of the victim. What begins as a routine investigation quickly turns darker, ruthless and pressing. Can Chavan handle the pressure of his superiors, local media and frightened masses? Can he navigate the system to reach the killer? Can he solve the moral dilemma when he comes face to face with the killer?

Read an Excerpt:

Inspector Shivaji Chavan then looked at Amol, the victim’s son, and said, “As soon as the doctor completes the examination, I will hand the body over to you. Please wait for few minutes more.” Then he opened the main door. The smell of rotted flesh mixed with Formaldehyde forced him to hold his breath. Gayakwad was standing inside holding a handkerchief on his nose. The postmortem room was well lit with a white tiled platform in the middle of the room for the examination. Dr. Sheikh was done with the autopsy. He had a couple of assistants with him. Seeing Chavan, Dr.Sheikh stopped what he was doing. He took off his gloves and washed his hands in the nearby sink. He grabbed his notepad and walked over to Chavan.

“I am almost done with the examination; I can quickly review the results with you and release the body to your custody.”

“Sure, go ahead,” said Chavan.

“Stitch it up,” Dr. Sheikh instructed the assistants and quickly flipped through his notes. “Sahib, in my opinion, the cause of death is asphyxia due to hanging. There is about four cm wide ligature marks running from the midline around the thyroid cartilage, symmetrically upward on both sides of the neck. The mark matches with the rope that was brought in with the body. I also think that it was a simple knot and running noose. The hyoid bone is fractured as well, which is not a surprise given the age of the victim? Microscopic examination of the thyroid gland and salivary gland shows focal interstitial hemorrhage which is consistent with antemortem nature of hanging. I won’t rule out suicide altogether, but I have a couple of other interesting things to report. There is light ligature mark around the wrists that would suggest that the wrists were tied together at some point. Also, all five fingers of the right hand are swollen, and the X-ray revealed that the fingers were broken. And my guess is that this injury was antemortem too. Also, it appears that there was some cloth stuffed in his mouth. I found some traces of fabric in his tract. Finally, looks like he had broken ribs a while back. ”

“How is that possible? How could someone break their fingers and then commit suicide?”

“That is something I can’t explain either,” Dr. Sheikh replied. “On the face of it, it does look like that force was applied to break the bones, so I don’t think Kokate did it himself. Maybe he got into a fight, and then something else triggered the suicide.”

“That is one possible explanation. Can you say for sure that this is a suicide and not homicide?”

“If you discount the broken bones, it does looks like a suicide case.”

About the Author:mediakit_authorphoto_tendaysinoctober

Ashish Malpani is an Indian-American freelancer and blogger. Born in Sangamner, a small town in rural India, he spent much of his adult life in Austin, Texas. A technology product marketer by trade, Ashish earned his MSE from Purdue University and MBA from the University of Texas.

Ashish fell in love with reading and traveling at a young age. As a kid he had two dreams in life: to write a novel and to travel around the world. Thirty eight countries and counting, Ashish has explored various cultures and captured the world through the lens of his camera with his wife Samta and son Ayan.

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Fallen Star by Allison Morse


Fallen Star by Allison Morse
Published by The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical (1970s), Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full (315 pgs)
Heat: Sensual
Rated: 4.5 stars
Review by Snapdragon

Who killed 1940s screen goddess Gloria Reardon? Her unsolved murder hypnotized the public with its scandalous details and shocked two generations.

Avid feminist and aspiring filmmaker, Kate Bloom discovers long lost footage that holds the key to who murdered her grandmother. Legendary movie star, Gloria Reardon, may be dead, but friends and lovers from the Golden Age of Hollywood’s heyday are still very much on the scene, and it seems everyone has something to gain or lose from Kate’s discovery. Enlisting the youthful and brash film restorer Dylan Nichols as her closest ally, Kate becomes haunted by Gloria’s glittering past. Caught between glamorous Old Hollywood and the gritty, exciting New Hollywood of the 1970s, Kate is determined to find out what really happened to her grandmother and in the process becomes the killer’s new target.

The long-ago life and love of a Hollywood star feed this ’70s era mystery.

Kate Bloom found out about violence–and desperation–first hand, as well as getting too close to some of the worst of Hollywood. But, it made her strong.

Gripping and gritty, honestly, the opening violence was a little of a turn-off for me, but played so into character development, that I came to see it as central to the story. Is Kate Bloom a victim or a fighter? Her plight, as well as her determination, captures reader’s hearts and interest from the first.

Before we have the details of her quest or grasp her determination, we find ourselves hoping that she will somehow recover the sweet, well-meaning girl that started the story. The crime, men in her life, the competition to get into the Hollywood world or ‘compete’ with successful all fall second to that.

Dylon Nichols is quite a different story. He is successful. He also seems an opinionated piece of the Hollywood structure. When he fails to recognize her talent and her creativity, we can already tell these two will not hit it off.  At first, we don’t even want them too. However, his insight might be useful, especially as Kate pursues proof about grandmother, Gloria Reardon’s death. While we are pretty sure Kate is right about him being a jerk, he’s useful and she has an agenda…and somehow, we readers find ourselves mirroring the thought process of our main character. It makes the story all the more believable, as does the great inside look at the industry; at how scripts and talent are acquired.

This is an unusual mystery as Kate is chasing down proof of who killed her grandmother. She has strong suspicions (and some special access to info) from the start.

Filled with fear, anger, frustration: Fallen Star delivers action in an unpredictable, fast-paced fashion. A great read.

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Favorite Holiday Food by St. Martin’s Press Authors – Guest Blog


Long and Short Reviews welcomes St. Martin’s Press authors who are sharing their favorite holiday food! Click on the banner for the buy links.

Favorite Holiday Food
silent-night-star-lit-nightRuth Logan Herne 

We’ve got a great eggnog pie recipe, it’s positively decadent! Here’s the link to our cooking with the authors website “The Yankee Belle Cafe”

Multi-published, best-selling author RUTH LOGAN HERNE likes nothing better than writing stories that warm the heart and ease the troubled soul. The author of more than fifteen Love Inspired contemporary novels, the “Double S Ranch” trilogy with PRH/Waterbrook and inspiring women’s fiction for Franciscan Media, Ruth has also become proficient in writing successful novellas for Zondervan, Summerside Press and several highly acclaimed novellas for the independent ebook market. Equally at home writing about small town folks or delving into the heart of big city neighborhoods, Ruthy lives on a farm in upstate New York, one of the snow-belt capitals of the world with her family, farm animals and pets.

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it-must-be-christmasDonna Alward

Savory or sweet? There’s a Chocolate Chip Cheeseball recipe I got from Debbie Macomber’s site that I’ve modified that I love (plus: cookies!), and for savory, I make sausage-stuffed mushrooms that are easy and so tasty!

While bestselling author DONNA ALWARD was busy studying Austen, Eliot and Shakespeare, she was also losing herself in the breathtaking stories created by romance novelists like LaVyrle Spencer, Judith McNaught, and Nora Roberts. Several years after completing her degree she decided to write a romance of her own and it was true love! Five years and ten manuscripts later she sold her first book and launched a new career. While her heartwarming stories of love, hope, and homecoming have been translated into several languages, hit bestseller lists and won awards, her very favorite thing is when she hears from happy readers!

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candy-cane-christmasLaura Trentham

Broccoli Salad
My go-to potluck take-along…plus I make it every holiday. Basically whenever I can get away with it, because it is SO good.

2 bunches of broccoli, chopped
1/2 lbs cooked bacon, crumbled (I use the pouches of bacon bit to avoid the mess of cooking bacon)
1/2 med red onion, diced
1/2 cup golden or brown raisins
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese, grated
1 cup Mayo (Duke’s, of course:)
2T white vinegar
1/4-1/2 cup white sugar

Mix together broccoli, onion, raisins, sunflower seeds. In a small bowl, whisk together mayo, vinegar, and sugar and pour over salad. Mix gently. Chill for several hours or overnight to blend flavors. (This isn’t mandatory, but does improve the taste). Just before serving, add bacon and cheese.

LAURA TRENTHAM is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance including Caught Up in the Touch, Kiss Me That Way, and others. She is a member of RWA, and has finaled multiple times in the Golden Heart competition. A chemical engineer by training and a lover of books by nature, she lives in South Carolina.

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christmas-joyNancy Naigle

I did these videos last year while watching the Hallmark Movie~THE NOTE. Kelsey Browning and I co-author a fun southern cozy series called The Granny Series. There is a clip of her and then one of me in each of these fine uncut – unedited raw videos. The recipe for FaLaLa-LaLa-La Bon Bons is available as a PDF on my website. I also have two recipe cards printed up for cookies from my book, CHRISTMAS JOY. I can send those to you if you’d like! I’ll be posting them on my website as a free download after the book releases.

USA Today bestselling author NANCY NAIGLE whips up small-town love stories with a dash of suspense and a whole lot of heart. Now happily retired, she devotes her time to writing, antiquing, and the occasional spa day with friends. A native of Virginia Beach, she currently calls North Carolina home. Her books include Sweet Tea and Secrets, Mint Juleps and Justice, and Christmas Joy.

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do-you-hear-what-i-hearMargaret Brownley

Our Christmas dinner is five star dining at its best. That’s because my son-in-law is an executive chef and he treats us every year to prime rib with all the trimmings. I never ask for recipes because then I might be tempted to try them.

MARGARET BROWNLEY is a New York Times bestselling author and past Romance Writers of America RITA finalist with more than 30 novels to her credit. Not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence. Margaret and her husband have three grown children and live in Southern California.

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when-snowflakes-fallTara Wyatt
My mom’s shortbread. Hands down. It tastes like Christmas and home the way nothing else does.

TARA WYATT is a contemporary romance and romantic suspense author. Known for her humor and steamy love scenes, Tara’s writing has won several awards, including the Unpublished Winter Rose, the Linda Howard Award of Excellence, and the Heart of the West. A librarian by day and romance writer by night, Tara lives in Hamilton, Ontario with the world’s cutest dog and a husband who makes all of her heroes look like chumps. Find her on Twitter @taradwyatt. She’d love to hear from you!

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big-packageOpal CarewTurkey (dark meat) and stuffing. Mmm. Unfortunately, now that I’m following the Paleo diet, making a stuffing I can eat is a challenge!

OPAL CAREW is the author of more than eighteen erotic romances for St. Martin’s Press including Forbidden Heat,Pleasure Bound, Twin Fantasies, and other erotic romance novels. She lives in Canada and makes regular trips to the U.S. to speak at conferences and industry events.

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march_christmas-in-eternity-springs Emily March I find a new favorite every year in the recipe exchange cookbook I put together from recipes sent in by my readers. Watch my Facebook page or join my mailing list for info on how to get your copy!

EMILY MARCH is the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels, including the critically acclaimed Eternity Springs series. Publishers Weekly calls March a “master of delightful banter,” and her heartwarming, emotionally charged stories have been named to Best of the Year lists by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Romance Writers of America. A graduate of Texas A&M University, Emily is an avid fan of Aggie sports and her recipe for jalapeño relish has made her a tailgating legend.

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if-santa-were-a-cowboyMelissa Cutler
My grandmother makes the best fruit cake from scratch, and that’s no joke. I would share the recipe, but when I make it, it never turns out like Grandma’s, because she must put some secret ingredients in hers.

Melissa Cutler is the author of The Mistletoe Effect and the One and Only Texas series. She knows she has the best job in the world writing sexy contemporary romances and romantic suspense. She was struck at an early age for an unrelenting travel bug and is probably planning her next vacation as you read this. When she’s not globetrotting, she’s enjoying Southern California’s flip-flop wearing weather and wrangling two rambunctious kids.

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it-must-be-christmasMandy Baxter
My all time favorite holiday food is stuffing at Thanksgiving. Carbs be damned!

MANDY BAXTER lives in rural Idaho. She’s a part-time pet wrangler, a full-time sun worshiper, and only goes out into the cold when coerced. She loves black clothes, pink appliances and thinks junk food should be a recognized food group. In the summer, she can be found sitting by the lake, enjoying the view from her dock.

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Brandon Zenner’s Writing Routine – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Brandon Zenner will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

One of my own writing routines

Back when I was writing my first novel, I had an experience that would go on to shape how I approach writing on a day-to-day basis. What happened was, out of the blue I got what is called an aura migraine. This condition was not unknown to me; I used to get them somewhat regularly as a child. But at the time, it had been years since one of those strange, blinding migraines struck me. The most frightening part was that there was no warning. One moment I was fine, going about my business, and then in the corner of my vision there was a spot, like I had looked quickly at a glowing light bulb and then looked away. It took mere moments for that spot to grow into a column of bright and zigzagging lights. There was no pain at that stage, but I had lost over half of my vision, and it was getting worse. A strange sense of confusion and lethargy followed, and I couldn’t do much more than stay in bed for the rest of the day.

I won’t go further into detail about the migraine itself, otherwise this post will go on and on. But what I will say is that the timing of the event was … well … perfect. My first novel relied heavily on a man who succumbed to this condition, so experiencing one myself helped me to explain the technicalities in accurate detail.

Now, the day after the migraine, my brain felt all out of sorts. There was a fear that the migraine was going to come rushing back at any moment, and my head was lost in a fog. So I decided to sit on the ground and try an old practice that I used to do regularly back in my late teens: meditate. I focused on my breathing, sitting as still as can be, for several minutes. I didn’t sit long that first day, but the next day I sat a little longer, and the day following even longer. When my head had cleared up, and sitting in front of a computer was again a possibility, I meditated first for twenty minutes; feeling my breath go in and out and letting my eyes stare unfocused on a plant across the room. After the meditation, when I was sitting at my computer, my thoughts were sharp, and I felt my writing was better than it had previously been. Not only that, but my whole life seemed to improve by spending only twenty minutes a day focusing on my breath. So, this became a part of my routine. Every day, I sat and meditated before delving into my work. I still do it to this day. Often, I don’t have a full twenty minutes, as writing with a two year old at home no longer affords me the luxury of unlimited time. But I never sit in front of my computer when working on a novel without spending at least a few minutes focusing my thoughts in meditation. I hope soon to be back at my twenty-minute minimum, as there is an old Zen proverb that I think sums up the situation perfectly, “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”

Two years have passed since mankind faced extinction. Brain Rhodes and his cousin, Steven, are leaving the protection of their underground bunker for the first time, after a cataclysmic war and unrelenting disease ravaged the earth.

On the other side of the North American continent, young Simon Kalispell is leaving the safety and seclusion of his cabin deep in the woods, traveling with his aging canine companion, Winston.

For individual reasons, these men are traveling east, where the fragmented lives of a small number of survivors will soon be decided by the choices of a corrupt few.

Simon Kalispell and Brian Rhodes are not yet aware, but the strength that resides inside them will soon be tested, and destiny will call for their fates to be forever intertwined.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Brian looked down the entry chute to Steven at the bottom. He knew that five minutes ago, the only thought going through Steven’s mind had been the complete and utter fear of facing whatever unknown nature of humanity might remain outside that bunker door. Now his cousin looked panicked as the filtered light reflected the sheen of sweat on his forehead, his body tensed, as if the all-encompassing blackness in that room was squeezing him toward the exit. Steven’s eyes darted over his shoulder in the direction of the one piece of equipment they had not shut down entirely—the walk-in freezer. The red, glowing light from the switch illuminated the far wall. Steven seemed frozen, transfixed.

Not the time to be thinking about what’s in there, Brian thought.

About the Author:mediakit_authorphoto_theafterwarBrandon Zenner is an American fiction writer and an Amazon best selling author. His short fiction has been published in both print and online publications, the first being submitted when he was 19 years old. THE EXPERIMENT OF DREAMS, his debut eBook thriller, has reached Amazon’s best seller list many times. His second novel, WHISKEY DEVILS, was released in early 2016. THE AFTER WAR, a dystopian thriller, is available now as a pre-order, at 80% off the final sale price. You can follow the author on his Amazon page, or through his email list on his website. All email subscribers will receive his futuristic short story, HELIX ILLUMINATED, for free as a thank you. His genres of choice are thrillers, crime, dystopian, and science fiction.

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Why I Wrote The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness by Maddie Dawson – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Maddie Dawson, whose latest book The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness, releases today. Leave a comment or ask the author a question for a chance to win a copy of the book.  See our review here.

by Maddie Dawson
I remember the precise moment I knew I needed to write The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness. I was writing a feature story for Connecticut Magazine about adoptees who wanted to be allowed to see their birth records, which are sealed in Connecticut. I interviewed a woman in her sixties who told me, her voice halting, about how she had always searched strangers’ faces, hoping she’d find out where she belonged.

She ached for the whole experience that so many of us take for granted: to know our birth story.

One day she actually found her birth mother and wrote her a letter, asking if they could talk on the phone. And her mother called her! They had a giddy, excited phone call, weeping at their surprise at finding one another. They agreed to meet.

But the mother didn’t show up.

I got that prickly, goose-bump feeling that a novel was nearby, and slowly, a character came into my head—a younger, fictional character named Nina—who had that same longing to know who her birth parents had been and who felt she had been thrown away.

I talked to other adoptees, people who said they’d had good lives and that they didn’t care to know the people who’d given them away.

A novel always comes from what-if questions. What if, I wondered, Nina had a sister who didn’t want to know the past? What if these two sisters finally do come across their mother, and then she’s nothing like they pictured?

The story that unfolded is about how families can form from attachment instead of DNA, and how in the end, it’s the power of love that comes to save us all and show us we belong.

10_25-book-cover-survivors-guide-to-family-happinessA woman’s quest to find her birth mother takes her in an unexpected direction. Nina Popkin always wondered where she came from, but after her adoptive mother’s death and her own recent divorce she feels more untethered to the world than usual. Before she died, Nina’s mother was only able to provide her with three clues regarding her origin: the names of the orphanage and a potentially helpful nun and an allusion to a mysterious photograph squirreled away somewhere in the house. Unfortunately for Nina, her adoption records are technically sealed, though Sister Germaine doesn’t exactly follow the rules. She finds out that she has a younger sister who was also given up for adoption, and the orphanage arranges a meeting. Turns out, Nina already knew her sister: they went to grammar school together. Though sharing her vibrant red hair, Nina’s sister, Lindy, does not share her enthusiasm for putting her birth family back together. After finding out more about her early days than she wanted to know, Lindy storms out of the office and Sister Germaine follows, leaving Nina alone with all her records. She learns both her mother’s name and the fact that she was only 15 when Nina was born. But from there, her mother’s story gets a bit more complicated: she had been moderately famous, the lead singer of a girl band in the ’80s. And when Nina decides to contact her, it appears at first that she wants nothing to do with the daughters she gave up so many years earlier. Told from the perspectives of Nina, Lindy, and their mother, Phoebe, the novel navigates their often twisting paths back to one another, as all the women realize that the bonds of family develop both by choice and by DNA.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Last week he’d said to her, “We’ll get married when I finish college. We’ll have a lot of money, and we’ll make more babies,” and A.J., sitting beside them at the time, had snorted and given Phoebe that look again.

The guys pushed the car out of the O’Malleys’ garage so the engine noise wouldn’t wake Tilton’s parents.

“You have to drive,” Tilton whispered to her. “We’ll push while you pop the clutch.”

She stared at him, but he went in and out of focus.

“Can you do it, Pheebs?”

She got in carefully, ran her hands over the soft leather seats where they had made love so many times. It always smelled like money, this car.

“Do you hear me? Pop the clutch!”

The car was moving, and she slammed her foot on the pedal, and the engine roared to life, and in an instant the boys were piling into the car, sweating, laughing, slamming the doors, Tilton in her ear hissing, “Drive! Go! Go!”

She drove slowly, like she was maneuvering a parade float, but he was saying, “Go faster! Christ, there’s a car coming! Floor it!”

She looked at him, stunned by a miraculous thought. What if they simply . . . left town? Tonight! They could leave tonight! She felt like this thought had been traveling to her from across the universe for so long and had only now arrived, in the nick of time. They could run away! Yes, the three of them—they’d head to the beach and then keep on going, up to Maine, maybe to Canada. She’d arrange for Kate to come; Phoebe’s sister would gladly send her.

She said, “Tilty, listen,” and his eyes were looking directly into hers so deeply he might have been able to see where the hate and the hope were fighting to the death.

He said, “Baby, can you drive faster?” and there was a loud crash and bright, spinning lights, and screaming—so much screaming—and then it was as though somebody had pulled some giant power cord to the world or something, because everything just turned . . . off.

About the Author:

(Peter Casolino-New Haven Register) Guilford author Sandi Kahn Shelton, who also writes under the pen name of Maddie Dawson. 3/31/14

(Peter Casolino-New Haven Register) Guilford author Sandi Kahn Shelton, who also writes under the pen name of Maddie Dawson. 3/31/14

Maddie Dawson lives in Guilford, Connecticut, with her husband. She’s the bestselling author of four previous novels: The Opposite of Maybe, The Stuff That Never Happened, Kissing Games of the World, and A Piece of Normal. Her fifth novel The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness, will be published on October 25th by Lake Union.

Buy the book from Amazon.

A Sure Thing by Marie Harte – Q&A and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Marie Harte who is celebrating the release of her latest book A Sure Thing. Ask the author a question or leave a comment for a chance to win a print copy of the book (US/Canada only).

What challenges did you face in getting your first book published?

When I first started trying to get published, it was over thirteen years ago. There was no indie publishing, and only a few small press houses existed. Think Hard Shell Word Factory and Bold Strokes Books. The real—only—deal was getting with Harlequin or one of the Big 6 houses. So I would write for Silhouette (now Harlequin), submit, then have to wait four months to hear back. The wait time was killer. In the meantime, I kept writing. That first year, I wrote 9 full length books and received many rejections. Then small press publishers evolved, and through my RWA chapter group, I discovered one such publisher. I submitted, they accepted, and the rest is history.

How long did it take to get this book from idea to being published? What was the most grueling process?

A SURE THING was an idea I had five years ago, when I finished my first McCauley Brothers book. I knew I had to write about their cousins, the Donnigans. It took a while for the McCauleys to find a home. And then I had to draft a proposal my publisher would accept. After a few months going back and forth on the Donnigans, we hit gold. From writing it, which took a few months, to the edits, proofs, cover art, and all the other logistical issues getting the book to the shelf, I’d say it took about 18 months. The hardest thing for me with each book are the proofs—the final set of edits before the book goes to print. I’m always so scared I’ll miss something and then the mistake will be out there for everyone to see.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing A SURE THING?

How much I liked Ava, the heroine. Ava appeared in Ruining Mr. Perfect, the third of my McCauley Brothers books. She’s a therapist who helps out the hero’s parents during a troubled time. Such a peripheral character, yet I loved the thought of a strong, independent woman. Ava’s so cerebral. It was fun messing with her in this book. Landon is her perfect partner.

Do you have any interesting writing quirks?

I write to complete silence. And I usually have a hot cup of coffee next to me, sitting on my coffee warmer, while I write. Otherwise, not too quirky. 

Thanks for having me!

10_25-harte-book-coverMeet the Donnigans

With the eldest Donnigan brothers adjusting to civilian life, their younger sister constantly in trouble, and their little brother clueless about life in general, falling in love is the last thing on anyone’s mind…

Can this Bossy Badass Marine…

The Marine Corps was everything Landon Donnigan ever wanted in life…until a bullet sent him home with a medical discharge. Teaching a self-defense class at the gym is old-hat for a marine, but when he meets sexy Ava Rosenthal, his combat skills are useless for protecting his heart.

Be her Mr. Right?

Ava can take care of herself and likes quiet, bookish men—not muscular warriors who think women need to be coddled. But Landon is more than he seems, and when they come together, the results are explosive.


About the Author: Caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, MARIE HARTE is a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. Whether hiking in Central Oregon, biking around town, or hanging at the local tea shop, she’s constantly plotting to give everyone a happily ever after.

Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or iBooks.

Black Diamond by Susannah Sandlin



Black Diamond by Susannah Sandlin
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense
Length: Full (266 pgs)
Heat: Sensual
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy

For some people, the untamed beauty of the bayou is a place to hide. For Louisiana wildlife agent Jena Sinclair, it’s a place of refuge—one where she can almost forget the tragedy that scarred both her skin and her soul. But when the remains of yet another fisherman turn up, Jena realizes that Bayou Pointe-aux-Chenes is not safe for her…or anyone else.

The mysterious deaths aren’t her only problem. A dangerous drug known as Black Diamond is circulating through Terrebonne Parish, turning addicts into unpredictable sociopaths. Jena’s investigation leads her to Cole Ryan—a handsome, wary recluse struggling with his own troubled history—who knows more than he’s willing to admit. If they want to stop the killer, Jena and Cole must step out of the shadows of their pasts and learn to help each other…before the evils lurking in the bayou consume them both.

It was good to catch up with Jena Sinclair and the folks from the bayou. The book starts with a bang–a rather gruesome and honestly tragic death-by-alligator that broke my heart. It plopped Jena right back into an investigation after she was cleared to start working again. Everyone but Jena herself trusts her to do the job and make good choices, even (or maybe especially) her loquacious new partner, Mac.

But the crimes don’t stop with that body…there’s also a new drug in town, Black Diamond (or BSC, for “bat shit crazy”) and Jena finds out her younger brother is using. She brings in her former partner, Gentry, to help her make the right choices about that.

Cole was an interesting person. When we first meet him, he does something that makes me wonder if he’s at all trustworthy. Understand, I read an ARC that didn’t have a blurb, so I didn’t know who Jena’s love interest would be. Thankfully, Cole redeems himself. He’s a loner, true, and scarred (by the end, he’s scarred inside and out, but healing), but it’s those very characteristics that make him appeal to Jena. She’s scarred too, from nearly dying in book one, to doubting herself and her looks. She doesn’t think anyone could possibly find her attractive again.

Filled with plenty of twists, Black Diamond kept me turning pages. Nearly 1/3 of the book had Cole, Mac and Jena in a lot of peril and left me a bit breathless. I do wish a little more time had been spent developing their relationship (the book is definitely heavy on the suspense), but it still worked for me. Additionally, if you’re looking for a book with lots of sex, this isn’t the one for you. I think the physical part of the relationship between Jena and Cole was handled just right, but any more books seem really heavy on the sex. I was pleased that the author focused more on emotions than putting tab A into slot B.

I’m really enjoying the series and look forward to the next… who will be up next time? There are a couple folks Ms. Sandlin can choose from. I can’t wait.