Love Sonnets? Now? (Change the question for an exclamation mark.)

In this day and age, we are told to shirk conventionalism, seek originality, see life in its true colors and peel off all glossy veneer in search of the truth. Grit has been the new cool for some time now, and it is glorified in literature, even poetry (lose the constraints of rhyme; use free-verse). Until a few years ago, I consciously tried that angle. It was my dark phase: dark rock music, dark literature. Grit was the crux of it all.

Then I became a mother. With Greece steeped in recession and all sorts of challenges surfacing out of nowhere, grit became too relevant, so obvious in life around me that I needed to retreat to something safer. Fast. A world I’d like my daughter to live in. Call it conventional, call it old-school or cliché, I immersed myself into reading and writing romance seeking the truth through the expression of love. Because when it comes down to that, no struggle for originality is needed other than the evocative manifestation of genuine emotion.

In poetry, this is called a love sonnet. Its beauty, its message, is brought forward through a conventional structure (fourteen lines in iambic pentameter) but that only strengthens its effect. No room for originality there … or is there? In the case of Kevin M. Jackson’s collection of sonnets, there is. Because, when he started expressing his innermost feelings towards a girl through sonnets, he was only sixteen, and in true teenage form, the Shakespearean structure wasn’t challenging enough. So he created his own rhyme system—more challenging, equally evocative.

Kevin has written over 170 sonnets, which he now decided to share with the public. He broke them down into four collections, the first of which he recently published on Amazon, entitled “For Life with Love”. From the first time a teenage boy’s heart flutters at the sight of a girl to the struggles of a committed relationship, the words flow effortlessly, beautifully, and the rhyme is not a constraint but a vehicle. Excitement, joy, doubt, fear, regret are all seeped in the kind of love that has the power to infuse even darkness with the glow of hope. Now tell me that this isn’t the outlook we all need in our lives, no matter what we’re after, or how we’ve decided to go about achieving it.

“For Life with Love: The Sonnet Collection Book 1” reached No. 3 in its category on Amazon last month and was listed under “Hot New Releases” in poetry.

You can download it here: “For Life with Love: The Sonnet Collection Book 1” by Kevin M. Jackson

March Book Frenzy by Fabulosity Reads presents Jackie Weger

Writing comes easy to me … after I’ve mulled my subject over for a week. In that respect, I have much growing to do. Blog posts are no different, but the time between deciding to write and publishing this one was less than twenty-four hours, and it involved reading an entire book!

I signed up for the March Book Frenzy Blog Hop with eNovel Authors at Work organized by Fabulosity Reads which required of bloggers to choose a book cover among the eight titles listed in the Hop Catalog and write a short piece about it. Reading the blurbs, the book that appealed to me mostly was “Flaps Down – The Reluctant Hero” by Jackie Weger. Its cover, however, did not help me with the “branding” angle I had in mind, so I chose Donna Fasano’s Merry-Go-Round and presented it here.

But Jackie Weger’s blurb stayed with me for entirely subjective reasons: give me a grumpy reclusive hero who finds himself doing a one-eighty because of a woman, and I’ll drop (almost) anything to read his story. So, I spared the mind-boggling amount of 99 cents and bought the book. I might have somewhat eased my conscience, but with my TBR list looking more and more like the Tower of Pisa, I knew I wasn’t going to read it soon. Well, my three-year-old daughter decided otherwise. She had a rough night yesterday with labored breathing and a hard cough, and, around midnight, I gave up hope of falling asleep needing to keep an eye on her. So I picked up my iPad from my night stand intending to browse a book on self-publishing, but what I ended up not resisting was to peak inside “Flaps Down: A Reluctant Hero”…and by 3.30am I had finished it!

My instinct had been right. I loved it. So, after checking with lovely Wendy Ewurum from Fabulosity Reads, I’m posting my review. But first check out the blurb:

Parnell Stillman, ace pilot, is man to the bone in a lackadaisical kind of way. He has the ability to fly through anything except solid mountain. Flying is his high road until one sleet-filled morning—it isn’t. Mischance forces his plane down in a frozen wilderness. He can survive, but his live cargo is another matter–an annoying social worker and five orphans—the most irksome freight he’s ever hauled in his life.

Rebecca Hollis is determined to force the obnoxious, disagreeable, self-centered pilot to do whatever is necessary to insure the survival and rescue of the orphans… Even if it means making the noble gesture of keeping her mouth shut—or other womanly things.

But the pilot isn’t having it. He’d rather dance with a grizzly or wrestle a puma than give his heart over to a sly, wily do-gooder. He lives alone because people are not to be trusted—especially women. Furthermore, he has no intention of being a hero. No way. No how. No time. Heroics are not his thing.

Rebecca has other ideas—lots of them! All artful and disingenuous—one of which is bound to work…she hopes.

————————————-

This story worked in so many ways! First of all, there is a whole lot of adventure; and not the glossed-over, let’s-stir-things-up kind of adventure, but the real deal. The descent of the plane and its inevitable force landing are goose flesh inducing, and the ordeal of surviving in the middle of nowhere through continuous snow blizzards was portrayed in such an authentic and detailed way, I often forgot I was reading a romance. The characters are also refreshingly real and well-layered: Parnell is not only grumpy, he’s a downright misogynist. His stomach hurts when he says something nice to a woman, so he never bothers, especially when she stirs his well-concealed vulnerability. His banter with Holly is witty, surprising and never actually stops even when they admit how they feel about each other. Holly knows how to put this obnoxious lout in his place, but tries with all her might not to cross him too much, as he is their best chance at survival. Touching him though shuts her up completely. But the characters that really shine are the kids: Jonesy, who thinks no one will ever want to adopt him because he is pudgy, Yanse with his imaginary friend who’s a horse, Santee, who’s one quarter Sioux and keeps running away called by nature, Nicholas who can only see shadows but is very cool about it, and Molly who wears corrective shoes, and constantly threatens with tears:”Don’t fuss with me; I’m only five.” Between them who keep bringing Parnell to his wits’ end, and Holly who keeps bringing him to his knees, it’s a wonder he keeps functioning. But not only he functions, he turns into a hero that warms everyone hearts.

Even Ms Weger’s choice of using everyone’s POV interchangeably (a “subjective omniscient” to throw in the literary term) which is not common in romance, works perfectly, as everyone is in everyone’s presence all the time. Jackie Weger’s writing is stellar. I read the most unexpected turns of phrase with a “dated” feel which, nevertheless, didn’t feel out of place as well as some very original bodily cues. “Oh,” she replied, presenting an arabesque of indifference. Nice!

All in all, I’m so glad my conscience was nagging me and I revisited this title. I’ll surely check out other titles of this wonderful author.

You can download “Flaps Down: The Reluctant Hero” while it’s still on a countdown deal from Amazon.

Read a delightful interview with the main character, Parnell Stillman, here.

Read more about Jackie Weger on her blog

Remember to visit the other participating writers’ blogs

at eNovel Authors at Work here:

Donna Fasano

Joanne Hill

Dianne Greenlay

Abby L. Vandiver

Lorrie Farrely

Mary Smith

Carmen Desousa

Fabulosity Reads Book Tours

8 AUTHORS OVER 4 DAYS

GENRES: Romance, Historical Fiction

Tour Link:  March Book Frenzy

FIND FREE AND DEEPLY DISCOUNTED KINDLE 

COUNT DOWN DEALS ON THE HOP CATALOGUE.

GIVEAWAYS

Check out the prizes the authors are sponsoring:

FOR READERS

$35, $25 and $20

PLUS

2 featured e Books from each author.

Giveaway Link: March Book Frenzy (Readers)

PARTCIPATING BLOGGERS ONLY

2 X $20

in cash via paypal or gift card via Amazon (your choice)

Giveaway Link (Bloggers ONLY): Bloggers Giveaway

Loving Nate by Janice Ross – Great novella plus an alternate ending

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I ought to have been prepared for what this story holds in store. After all, I signed up to do a review for Loving Nate as part of the book’s blog hop with Fabulosity Reads, and wonderful Wendy makes sure all participating bloggers have all relevant material. But, starting reading it, I was so drawn in by Ms Ross’s effervescent writing with surprising and daring turns of phrase springing up on every single page, that I just lay back (forgetting that my seat was a hardback train seat) to enjoy a steamy romance with the two characters engaging in funny, witty banter.

Leah is gorgeous, self-confident and on the road to success. And then, on her first day at a new and promising job, she bumps into Nathan Moore—as in her boss’s boss. Nate is the guy a girl can only dream of. Perfect in all possible ways. He’s too good to be true. And he isn’t. Gradually, the story gets darker, and we see Leah’s natural light diminishing, as she gives her all to Nate, getting very little in return, or rather everything and then absolutely nothing. The course she follows is that of a junkie: as long as she gets her Nate-fix, instantly transporting her to Nathanland, she’s fine; when he disappears, the withdrawal symptoms are physically and mentally debilitating. Will Leah find the strength to fight back? Reclaim her old self?

This story is expertly written; the emotions are incredibly raw, their depiction poignant and they manage to resonate deeply whether you’ve been through a similar all-consuming relationship or not. “I don’t do drama. I write it” is what Ms Ross claims in her Twitter bio, and, apparently, it’s true. A major originality is that she goes as far as to offer two different endings to Leah and Nate’s story. But I think that’s where I have my reservations. While they are well-written, plausible and totally not cliché, reading two very different versions didn’t give me an appropriate closure. Initially, I was enthusiastic about having two options to choose from; now, I’m not sure I want to have such power as a reader.

That aside, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Loving Nate, and I’m glad I was given the opportunity to get to know Ms Ross as a writer. I’m now a fan, waiting to get my hands on her other work, especially Damaged Girls which is also mentioned in this novel.

Book Excerpt

Nate pulls up in front of the building in a light-gray Infiniti QX56. Noticing that he’s too eager to play escort, I extend my palm to stop him and attempt to rush into the vehicle. I’m moving forward, while my head is turned backward, making sure to keep tabs on everyone coming out of the lobby.

As I step up and go to rest down, my leg misses. Had I been paying attention, I would’ve recognized the difference between inside and outside. Since I wasn’t, I end up hanging onto the door, practically straddling the ground. I don’t want to get up; my only desire is to shrivel up and disappear into thin air. Obviously, that will never happen. No sooner do I end up in this embarrassing disposition, I’m recovered by a saint and delivered onto the passenger seat. I sit completely still, clutching my purse against my gut. I think he feels bad for me because he takes hold of the seatbelt and guides the path under my arms, securing me for the trip.

“Are you okay?”

I shake my head. How do I recover from being a complete imbecile?

“Why are you so jumpy, Leah?” Nate asks once he’s behind the wheel.

“Because I’m heading out with my boss’s boss. How do you think that looks? And on my very first day too . . .”

About the Author

Janice was born in Guyana, South America and migrated to the USA in 1980. Although her citizenship certificate now reads the United States of America, she considers herself a citizen of the world. Sure she has not physically been around the world and back, but she’s travelled in her mind and dreams.

Janice is an author. She enjoys writing about social issues and personal experiences. Janice’s debut release was entitled Damaged Girls. She uses the three books in that series to detail the effects of different forms of abuse, discussing issues that are known to be taboo. Her next release, Jumping Ship, is a dedication to her country of birth and an introductory novella to the Island Hopping Series – due out in 2014. It’s poised to be a colorful and emotional experience of life, love and family. As of present, she is also a contributor to a short story collection – Just Between Us, Inspiring Stories by Women. And lastly, Loving Nate is a novella about the realities of losing one’s self to love.

Janice enjoys reading. And is drawn to stories with distinct characters that she can love or hate, characters she can form alliances with or characters that she can swear off and despise. She is also weak for a good cultural tale, preferably in the form of historical fiction. Janice loves to be taken off guard by clever language and settings.

Janice is also a devout supporter and promoter of other authors through social media. She hosts a weekly show, Cultural Cocktails, on the largest social radio network, Blog Talk Radio.

Buy Links

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

GoogleBooks

 Smashwords

Connect with the Author here:

Website: www.culturalcocktails.com

Talk show: www.blogtalkradio.com/culturalcocktails

Blog http://jgrwriter.wordpress.com &

http://myculturalcocktails.wordpress.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/JGRWriter

FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/Cultural.Cocktails

&

https://www.facebook.com/jgrwriter?ref=hl

Google+https://plus.google.com/104579627944902429382/posts/p/pub?partnerid=gplp0

LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/pub/janice-ross/58/691/894/

GIVEAWAY

Enter here for a chance to win a $25  Amazon gift card  and one of 3 copies of the eBook!

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Fabulosity Reads Book Promotions is a book touring website that promotes authors and their precious works to an extensive audience using blogs, twitter, Facebook and other Social Media, with the aim of introducing them to an appreciative readership.  They offer a diverse range of both complimentary and affordable products to help the
reach of your book go that much further.

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Cover Reveal: The Necklace of Goddess Athena

With great pleasure, I present to you a great new author’s first fantasy novel, available on Amazon. You can read my 5* Goodreads review here.

IN ATHENS, THE GODS STILL DWELL AMONG THE MORTALS.

Efimios is an ancient Greek and an unsung hero of Athens. He has saved the city countless times by undertaking time-travelling missions as instructed by Goddess Athena herself. Now an elderly man, he sends his son Phevos and his adopted daughter Daphne on a time-travelling quest to modern-day Athens. Mysterious as always, he only advises his children to look out for the signs without offering any explanations. Mystified, yet eager to obey their father’s will, Phevos and Daphne settle down in this new world, having been offered assistance by two orphaned siblings: Ksenia and Manos. New friendships and romantic love change their lives while their father’s covert purpose is gradually revealed. As the youngsters continue to unravel the secrets of their family past, inevitably they get caught up in the ongoing conflict between two Gods, one of which becomes their protector and the other, their worst nemesis. Who will prevail when the rival Gods meet again and will the mortal bystanders survive to tell the tale?

Effrosyni Moschoudi was born and brought up in Athens, Greece. She has a BSc in Computer Science and has worked for large companies for twenty years, mainly in the hotel and airline business. Her work background has been diverse and has mainly involved computer support, customer service and aircraft material purchasing. She has been writing since childhood. She lives in a quaint seaside town near Athens with her husband Andy and a naughty cat called Felix. She is passionate about books and movies and dedicates sufficient time on her weekends to enjoy a bit of both.

On Effrosyni’s Blog (aka The Public Diary of a Greek Dreamer), the reader will find posts on various subjects. There are tips for authors, travel articles, inspiring personal accounts, references to the Law of Attraction, book reviews, author interviews and cover reveals.

Effrosyni’s debut novel, The Necklace of Goddess Athena, is an urban fantasy. It is about two time travelers who arrive in modern-day Athens with a purpose that is secret even to themselves. As of February 2014, the book is available for download exclusively on Amazon in Kindle (.mobi) format.

The novel has received a perfect 5-star rating by the Fantasy & SciFi Network website. An excerpt of the book’s first 2 chapters is currently available for download FREE of charge at Goodreads.

Currently, Effrosyni is writing The Lady of the Pier, a historical novel with a paranormal twist that is set in Brighton (England) in the 1930’s and in Corfu (Greece) in the 1980’s. It is a haunting, tragic love story that highlights the immense popularity of the West Pier in Brighton back in its heyday, before its regrettable decline that began after WWII. The novel will be published in two parts. The first part, The Ebb, will be published in the summer of 2014. Effrosyni is currently penning the concluding part, The Flow, which she hopes to publish too by the end of the same year.

Connect with Effrosyni

Blog: http://www.effrosinimoss.wordpress.com

FB Book page: https://www.facebook.com/Necklaceathena

FB Author page https://www.facebook.com/authoreffrosyni

Twitter: https://twitter.com/frostiemoss

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7362780.Effrosyni_Moschoudi

Google + : https://plus.google.com/+EffrosyniMoschoudi

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/effrosyni-moschoudi/82/347/a01

Book Trailer: http://animoto.com/play/HdtpGSSDjn7cEO84w1z98Q

Purchase Links

Amazon (US): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I5GXHCO

Amazon (UK): https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00I5GXHCO

Reviews

5 star review on the Fantasy/SciFi Network

4.5 star review on Alllthingsbookie

 

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Review: Rapunzel by Molly Greene (5/5)

Cambria (Bree) Butler is at a low point in both her personal and professional life. What she least expects though is to find herself at a police station as a suspect in a murder case. Vulnerable and lost, she puts her fragile trust in the hands of her old friend, Genevieve Delacourt, an attorney-turned-detective. Together, Gen and Bree try to unweave a tangled web of lies and deception that will force Bree to get closer than ever to her inner strength–and death.

I needed a break from my emotionally charged, angsty reads so I jumped at the opportunity to review an advance copy of Molly Greene’s new mystery, Rapunzel. I’m familiar with Ms Greene’s writing as a blogger–she runs a great blog on writing and blogging–so I knew that at least her writing would be engaging. It was a whole lot more.

Instead of playing on the trend for instant gratification through a tell-all, adrenaline-inducing plot, the writer weaves an intricate story while giving you the impression that you can just lie back and enjoy a smooth ride. Wrong. “Rapunzel” is an exquisitely detailed puzzle, its pieces expertly hidden in each page of the book. So while you fall effortlessly in love with Gen and Bree, you’ll also be putting your puzzle-solving brain to work, sifting through details and descriptions that might seem they’re there to offer a glimpse into the main characters’ lives, but also serve as leads to solving a murder case. Gen and Bree are the kind of girls you want to be friends with–strong and adventurous with a vulnerable feminine side the reader can totally relate to. Their homes, families and backstory are gradually revealed to the reader in a way that proves that Ms Greene knows the golden rule of her (or any) genre: show them don’t tell them.

If you enjoy mystery stories with strong female leads and solid prose, look no further. This is your next read. As for mine? Mark of the Loon, the first Gen Delacourt mystery.

Get Rapunzel HERE

 

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Review: Broken Pieces by Rachel Thompson (5/5)

I’ve been staring at a blank screen for quite some time. My apprehension has nothing to do with the rating of this book—I’ve already given it 5 stars—it’s just that when a writer decides to bare her soul, reviews seem to me, well, sacrilegious. Therefore, I’m not taking the scenic route, deconstructing, analyzing, regurgitating—I’m just going to use descriptive adjectives: harrowing, heart-wrenching, raw, honest, empowering. But what I personally took from it was a strong sense of optimism. Because when life turns bleak—

Illumination only lasts until darkness decides to fall

—Rachel Thomson just flips the light switch back on.

A Rogue by Any Other Name (3/5)

by Sarah McLean

When I try out a new HR author, I know it’s more often miss than hit. I’ve got my favorites but they can’t have new titles out whenever I decide to take a break from my gritty contemporaries and my PNRs, and that’s how I ended up reading A Rogue By Any Other Name by a new—to me—author. So here goes:

Penelope: 4/5 Penny’s had enough of being the proper, well-bred daughter. She needs to be loved and not traded between her father and a future husband, and, most of all, she needs an adventure. Being kidnapped by her childhood friend and claimed as his wife because of her inevitable ‘ruination’ is a good start, at least for her adventure aspirations—because he soon shatters all hopes for love and not being treated as a commodity. Penelope retains her composure throughout the book, and even though she ventures into uncharted territories, risking her reputation, she’s always frank, straight-forward, unyielding and ‘adventuresome’ (as Bourne calls her) till the end. I liked her.

Bourne (Michael): 2/5 As a Hero, he’s awful. He treats Penelope in the worst possible way, and she’s not some stranger he decided to take advantage of to win his lost land back (his Holy Grail) but a dear childhood friend who’s been nothing but kind to him. Okay, he’s bent on his revenge and reclaiming his father’s land, and the reader expects that, for the best part of the book, he’ll mistreat Penelope, reminding her that she’s nothing but “a means to an end” (that was endlessly recycled!) but it never lets up till the very end! He keeps behaving in a god-awful way, and when Penelope thinks he’s finally made a move indicating he’s come to his senses (and that’s in the final scene, mind you) it’s not even him! It’s someone else, and I’m still quite unclear as to who it was and what their motive was. Also, his internalized one-liners in italics that contradicted what he actually said were really annoying: “I don’t need her.” But I do. I found this constant ‘self-annulling’ tiresome. So no, I didn’t like Michael’s character.

Prose: 3/5 Penelope’s part in the dialogue is enjoyable. She surprises with her resolve and this shows through her words. Other than that, there was a lot of repetition that dragged the book down, the tone is not too formal (maybe too informal for a historical) and the characteristic wit found in popular titles of the genre was missing.

Heat: 4/5 The erotic scenes were detailed and nicely rendered with some originality, but they don’t work well into the plot. You’d think that after “the most incredible, mind-altering sex” (who spoke like that in 1831?) Michael would reconsider his ways but, no. After his wedding night, he left his new bride alone in a strange house.

And now, it’s time for some real nitpicking:

Penelope is plain. See how much:

“She’d become too old, too plain, too tarnished.”
“He’d likely not had a single moment of considering her as anything more than plain, proper Penelope…”
“She closed her eyes tightly, taking a deep breath, preparing for him to turn away at her plainness. Her imperfections.”
“She didn’t like the insinuation in the words. The implication that she was plain and boring…”
“She was never going to be considered beautiful. Plain, yes. Passable, even, on a good day, in a new frock.”

But tell me this: beautiful blue eyes, silken blond curls, soft pale skin, tempting pink lips… equal plain?! The girl was gorgeous! There’s absolutely no hint at ugliness based on something being wrong with her features. And when Michael is asked whether she’s “horsefaced” he doesn’t reply!! What a jerk! And these are his thoughts at the very end:

“How was it possible that he’d ever thought her plain? She was a jewel in the cold, grey mid-February sleet, all rosy cheeks and blue eyes and lovely pink lips that made him want to carry her to the nearest bed.”

What was the girl? Cursed, so that only when someone fell in love with her saw her for what she was?

I was having qualms going for the second book (One Good Earl Deserves Another) but Stacia’s review made me reconsider.

Review: Devoured by Emily Snow

Lately, I’ve been venturing off the beaten path and my comfort zone in an effort to understand new reader trends. This book has erotica elements and is all about the bad-boy rock-star hero who wants what he wants when he wants it–a very popular theme lately.

However, the fact that I downloaded and read this particular book proves that a good cover can take a book a long way. But I would have easily given it only one star if the tension of the first half hadn’t gripped me.

Apart from that, Lukas is your typical rock-star jackass with a big ‘no biggie’ attitude. There is absolutely no character development for him, and he ends up coming off as weak toward the end.

Sienna is the average doormat, but her background story justifies her attitude, plus she’s not such a pushover when it comes to Lucas, so there is some substance in this character.

The heat factor that is much praised by other reviewers follows an annoying (to me) pattern: build-up through promises, of the I wanna do this and this to you type, but falls short when the Hero actually gets a chance to live up to the readers’ pumped up  expectations. Hot, explicit foreplay, glossed-over sex: is that a trend?

The prose is weak and clunky. The dialogues are limited to expletives and rarely express true emotion, and the overall plot is really non-existent. The reason the H/h separate is pretty lame and forced. However, the ending is super sweet and compensates in some way.

(And, seriously, if someone “bobbed their head” one more time,  I would self-combust!)