Monday, May 28, 2012

The Sholes Key - Book Review

The Sholes Key by Clarissa Draper. I give it a full 5 out of 5 stars!

The Sholes Key

To be honest, it's been a while since I've read anything other than John Grisham or chick lit... so I was a little hesistant to start this new release by Clarissa Draper. In fact, I probably wouldn't have even tried it if it wasn't published by WiDo, the same place that published my novel.

But... I read it... and...


I was reading it at night and managed to freak myself out so much that when I went to bed, I placed my baby on one side of me, made my husband go on the other, and put my dog at my feet, all to form a kind of protection around me.

Here's what it's about: All across London, single mothers are vanishing. Margaret Hill, mother of two, walked out of her house two months before, never seen again. A month later, Carrie-Anne Morgans takes her two-year-old son for a walk in the park and disappears leaving him alone in his stroller. Lorna McCauley leaves her London flat in the early hours of the morning to buy medicine for her sick child and disappears.

Newly promoted Detective Inspector Theo Blackwell is assigned the case of Lorna McCauley, which, on the outside seems to be a simple case of mid-life crisis and child abandonment.

Elsewhere in London, MI5 analyst, Sophia Evans, is working undercover to catch an animal rights group responsible for targeted bombings. As her case (and her personal life) fall to pieces, she receives a strange envelope in the mail. It contains a picture of Lorna McCauley s lifeless face along with a daunting code.

Now the police and MI5 are forced to work together to stop the murders, and Sophia must find her way into the terrifying mind of a serial killer.

This was a very captivating book. Right from the first chapter, it sucks you in and makes you keep turning the pages. It is like CSI only in book form. There was the right amount of tension, suspense and drama. I was kept guessing right to the last page. There was also a nice amount of code-breaking, which reminded me of The DaVinci Code in a way. The characters were unique, funny, sweet, jealous, everything that good characters need to be. There was a hint of romance (which I loved) and a ton of action.

My only complaint is that I had to read it very carefully, some parts I even had to go back and re-read because it got complicated with the codes. If you're looking for a light fluffy beach read, it's probably not for you. However, if you love a bit of mystery, I 100% recommend it!!

PS - if you do want a nice, fluffy beach read, check out TANNED, TONED AND TOTALLY FAKING IT. Mikayla Rivers is the perfect BFF for a hot summer day, as she tries to hide her mega-star identity from the love of her life while dealing with a cheating ex-boyfriend, a psychotic manager and meeting (among other famous faces) Ellen Degeneres, Nick Lachey, Kim Kardashian, Ryan Seacrest and David Letterman in the process. :) xox

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Ms America and the Offing on Oahu - Book Review

Ms America and the Offing on Oahu by Diana Dempsey. 5 out of 5 stars

This book caught me off guard. I wasn't really sure what I was expecting, but it was a murder mystery mixed with chick lit characters and a Miss Congeniality setting with a Nancy Drew feel.
Ms America and the Offing on Oahu

It starts out with the Ms America pageant, a beauty pageant for married women, which was refreshing in that they were alot more mature than most beauty queen book characters. Ms Ohio Happy Pennington is the last to see Ms California alive. During the broadcast, right before they announce the winner, Ms California tumbles over dead. The Honolulu PD lists Happy as one of their suspects. So, what can she do? Investigate on her own, with her roommate and Ms Congeniality trailing along to help.

I enjoyed this book. As an avid fan of Nancy Drew when I was a kid, I found the beauty contestant trio who were hacking computers, sneaking into mail rooms, interviewing suspects and breaking into hotel rooms to be a lovely look back at Nancy, George and Bess. The book had moments of humour, although I did not find it as laugh out loud funny as some of the official reviews claimed. The characters were both likeable and unlikeable but always realistic. Unlike Mary Higgins Clark books, where I can always guess the 'bad guy' about 3/4 of the way in, I was pleasently surprised by the who-dun-it in this book.

I'd recommend this book. It didn't keep me up at night turning pages, but it was fun. I will definitely have to check out what else this author has written.

PS - If chick lit without the murder mystery feel is more your cup of tea, try Tanned, where we have a major Justin Bieber-like celebrity trying to hide her identity from the love of her life while dealing with a cheating ex-boyfriend, a psychotic manager and meeting (among other famous faces) Ellen Degeneres, Nick Lachey, Kim Kardashian, Ryan Seacrest and David Letterman  in the process. :) xox

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

'Scuse Me While I Kill This Guy - Book Review

'Scuse Me While I Kill This Guy by Leslie Langtry earns a nice, fat 4 out of 5 stars.

Leslie Langtry - Scuse Me While I Kill This Guy
Overall, it is an entertaining book with no basis in reality. To really enjoy it, you need to suspend all disbelief, which isn't that hard considering most books require this in some degree.
Gin Bombay is a single mother who hasn't had a date since her husband passed away. She's funny, irreverant and loves her pug puppy. Oh, plus she's an assassin. Gin actually comes from a line of career killers stretching back to ancient Greece, and, as part of this legacy, had no choice but to become one as well when she turned five. Yup. Five.

Anyhoo, her whole family shares her career with her, which leads them all to being very untrusting of one another. If my grandmother could kill a man with her bare hands, I suppose I'd have trust issues too.

Gin meets a new guy, a studly Aussie bodyguard. Things get complicated when she has to kill his client. And then introduce her daughter into the art of killing.

It's a fun book. A fast read that had me intruiged from the start. However, I did find that Gin's jokes and comments were all very one-sided... everything was assassination. It was funny at times, but also got old after a while. It was, as I mentioned, very unbelievable as far as story line and characters, kind of like a Marvel comicbook. That, however, also made it a fun escape from reality.

More comic/humour than chicklit, despite the token romance with the Aussie, I did enjoy it and recommend it to those with a warped sense of humour and an open mind. :)


PS - If chicklit is more up your alley, you should try Tanned, a fun look at a celebrity trying to hide her identity from the love of her life while dealing with a cheating ex-boyfriend and a psychotic manager and meeting (among other famous faces) Ellen Degeneres in the process. :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Eye Candy - Book Review

Eye Candy by Tera Lynn Childs is a pretty great book! I give it 4.5 stars out of 5.
Lydia Vanderwalk is a candy obsessed woman, who found out her fiance was cheating on her. Probably. She never actually confronted him, but for the past two years has been hiding from relationships and drowning her sorrows in more candy. Thank goodness she has a fast metabolism.

Anyway, she enlists the help of her best friend, a model talent agent, who sets her up with Phelps, a male model who definitely has more going for him than what initially meets the eye. She creates Phelps into her non-existent boyfriend in hopes of furthering her career and getting people off her back about dating. But then her ex comes back into her life, her feelings for her rent-a-boyfriend become much stronger, and career opportunities jump out of nowhere.

I loved this book! I was hooked from the first few pages and read it all in one night. It was funny, fresh and believable. However, the ending was pretty brutal... it was a choose your own ending. You know, turn to page xx if you want her to end up with boy number one. Turn to page yy if you want her to end up with boy number two. No book should be like that. It needs a definite, rock solid ending. Period. Because she definitely needed to end up with Phelps. No room for anything else. :)

My only other complaint with the book was a few of the phrases that Lydia would use. As a candy obsessed woman, she would exclaim "Hot Tamales" and nicknamed people after various candies, like Jawbreaker. It just seemed a little forced. I'm pretty much a chocolate-holic and even I don't go around calling people Hershey Kisses or Peppermint Patties or other chocolate names. That part was strange for me.

Anyhoo... take away the endings (plural) and the over the top exclamations, and you have a really entertaining book! Chick lit at it's finest.

If you haven't read this book, you should check it out on Amazon... it's a free kindle ebook right now, so get it while you can. (And, this author also has several other books out there, that, from their descriptions, sound pretty fun too. I'll have to read them when I get the chance!)

Finally, if you haven't read my newly released novel, Tanned, Toned and Totally Faking It, you should check it out as well. Romcom fans will enjoy it as a fast, humourous read.


Love Unlisted - Book Review

Thanks everyone for taking part in the chick lit blog hop last week! I hope you had fun and found some new authors to read (cough, including me, cough). Ahem. Anyway, the winner of the ebook is Deb and I've emailed her with the details. Congrats, Deb! :)

Since it's still International Chick Lit Month, I've decided to write over the next week or so some book reviews of a few books I've been reading lately. Enjoy!

Love Unlisted by Stephanie Haddad. 4 stars out of 5
(You can get it as a free kindle ebook right now on Amazon, which is great too!)

Grace Shields is the pretty, slightly neurotic main character, a list maker whose life revolves entirely around what she writes down. Lists of her favorite Jackie Chan movies. Lists of her boyfriend’s Pros and Cons. Lists about her favorite places to get a pizza. Lists about her mother, lists about her best friend. It's a secret notebook, for her eyes only, and if people ever read the lists, she freaks.

Grace is struggling as a party-planner. You'd think with her millions of lists she'd be a shoe-in for event planner of the year or something, but she's not. She keeps making a mess of the different parties (fainting at one, catering with some questionable Italian goop for another, and falling in love with a guy who does NOT meet her list criteria at another).

This guy begins popping up everywhere. And he's not perfect. He's not the List Boyfriend with more Pros than Cons. And Grace doesn't really know how to deal with him.

It's a bit of a predictable book. Nothing kept me guessing, and I wasn't hooked from the beginning like I am with Sophie Kinsella books. However, it was a fun read. The characters were likeable and I could relate to most of them, having had the brutal boss at one point in my life, the wonderful best friend, the crazy relatives etc. It was clean, however, which I really liked, especially considering how huge the poorly written and fairly disgusting Fifty Shades of Grey books are right now.

I'd recommend it! :) Check it out and tell me what you think of it!

PS - Check out my novel Tanned, Toned and Totally Faking It, so far with five 5-star reviews on Amazon! People are calling it "fun, witty, clean" and they "love the ending". Another person "thought it would be a predictable book, but the author kept making turns that kept me from putting the book down." Share the word, because this is the month for fun chick lit, and Tanned fits the bill. :)

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Hi everyone! Welcome to my part of the Chick Lit Author Blog Hop! For those of you who don't know much about it, there are 34 authors who are making this a week of chick lit! Simply hop around to the various blogs, leave a comment with your email to be entered to win a free ebook, take note of the italicised words, and enjoy yourself! At the end of the week, if you email all 34 italicised words to, you will be entered to win a $150 Sephora gift card. This contest is only open to people living in the United States, though, so sorry to my Canadian amigos.

Anyway, enough of the rules, let's get started! I am typing this with a squirmy 10 week old baby in my lap, who just puked on my arm a few moments ago. I will attempt to be witty. If I am not, you can blame it on the drool now finding it's way into my keyboard, right between the space bar and the alt button... and that's disgusting. Happy Mother's Day to me.

Alright, back on topic. Have you ever heard people say that chick lit is flat, or bland, or predictable? Or maybe that the heroines in the books are like a Barbie doll... tall, beautiful and completely dependent on their Ken doll, which, in all honesty, sets the women's rights movement back about fifty years? I've been told that. And it kind of annoys me. Feminism happened. Women are equals with men. And truly great chick lit doesn't dimish any of that.

Let me introduce (or reintroduce) you to the greatest chick lit heroines as found in my fav books!

Becky Bloomwood
We meet Becky in the world of the Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella.  She is plucky, funny, and clever, despite having a small problem. I love chocolate. She loves shopping. I can totally relate to her. The greatest thing about Becky? Her unwavering loyalty. Once you are her friend, she will do anything for you. This is a great quality. Becky is not a lip-biting, timid, spineless woman. She is vibrant. She is tough. She will fight for her causes.

Lexi Smart
Another Kinsella heroine, this time found in Remember Me?, is Lexi Smart. She is not tall, or overly beautiful. She has teeth that stick out a little bit, works hard but never gets the bonuses she deserves, and worst of all, finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her at her dad's funeral. Basically, it's a crappy life. Probably even crappier that my own when it is 3 in the morning and my baby is poking me in the eye, wanting to play. Anyhoo... Lexi is a very sympathetic character. Then, in a twist of fate, she gets in a car crash, wakes up in the hospital and realizes that her life is completely different. Her teeth are perfect, her body is toned, she has a fab job with a gorgeous husband. But in her mind, she is still the insecure person we met in the beginning. I love Lexi. Women aren't always the fully confident people that gloss the covers of Hollywood magazines. Sometimes we feel inferior. And flawed. But Lexi shows us that no matter who we are, we can love ourselves.

Scarlett O'Hara
It's probably debateable if Gone With The Wind is a chick lit book or not. But seriously, how many men have read it? Exactly. And Scarlett may be one of my favourite anti-heroines of all time. She is so darn unlikeable! And yet you can't help but root for her. From spoiled rich girl to a tough woman who shoots a Yankee soldier, wears clothing made of drapery, and eventually runs her own business, while going through three husbands, Scarlett is not someone to overlook. Scarlett is the secret woman inside of each of us, the one who says what she wants d gets away with it. However, Melanie Wilkes may be even stronger than Scarlett, and shows elegance, grace and a very noble presence even under pressure. Between the two of them, I think we find alot of the most admirable qualities in the world.

Mikayla Rivers
I would be remiss if I didn't introduce you to Mikayla. She's a cute Canadian college girl turned world famous, super sexy popstar practically overnight. And still figuring out if she belongs in this celebrity wonderland. She has moments of self doubt, other moments of growth and clarity, and is simply trying to figure out who she is. Isn't that something that every woman (or person) has tried at some point or another? Who am I and how do I fit into this life? She's trying to get over a dirty, rotten ex-boyfriend and at the same time, navigate a new relationship with someone who would not be overly happy to find out she's a celebrity. Mikayla lives in Tanned, Toned and Totally Faking It, and I love her because she is alot like me. It's easy to relate to her.

Well, these are my best girlfriends! Have you met them all yet? If not, I'd encourage you to check them out! You'll love them as much as I do! Leave your thoughts below on your fav chicklit heroines, your thoughts on the ones I've mentioned, or even the qualities you find most important for women today.


PS - Below are the links to the other 34 blogs on this chicklit author tour. Enjoy them!

My first interview! :)

Amy Saia, a fellow author, whose debut novel THE SOUL SEEKERS is coming out in a few months, has asked me a number of interview questions, which I am thrilled to answer. So fun! I can't wait to read her book as well, and will keep you all posted as to when it comes out.

Here goes my very first author interview!

Picture me, wearing something dashing, expensive and gorgeous, like Mary Higgins Clark always wears in her promotional pictures. We'll say I'm in Prada jeans, a black, shimmery top, have a thin diamond necklace on, and my hair is sleek and blonde, like Jennifer Aniston. You can be sure that I'm not wearing a bathrobe, with a baby in my lap and my too-reddish hair thrown back in a messy ponytail. Absolutely not.... cough....

Your debut novel was just released. What is Tanned, Toned and Totally Faking It all about?
Basically, my novel is a modern Notting Hill, told from the celebrity point of view. Instead of following the struggles of the commoner, dating the celebrity, we follow the celebrity, worried about the commoner. Mikayla is a cute Canadian college girl who, almost overnight, becomes a celebrity with almost as many screaming fans as Justin Beiber. She is thrown into the Hollywood scene and is struggling with life. She misses who she was, worries about what she is becoming, and has to deal with a cheating ex-boyfriend who she can't get over, a psychotic manager and the simple fact that she is homesick. Then she meets Jordan, the man of her dreams with just one slight problem. He doesn't know she's famous. And he wouldn't be too thrilled if he knew the truth, so she keeps it a secret.

Tanned is a fun read, perfect for a beach read or just to keep you sane on the commute to work. :) (For your own copy, you can find it on Amazon, among other places)

Tell me about your daily writing schedule. Is it hectic, or a happy place to retreat?
Writing is a place of retreat. It's just like escaping into a great book, except I get to choose how things happen. I absolutely adore writing. My daily schedule, however, is all over the place. When I was working full time, I would write in the evenings to destress. Now I'm at home with a ten week old baby, whose full time job is demanding attention. So when I write now, it's juggling him on my lap, so things are alot slower these days. I usually grab a few minutes whenever I have the time, but it's definitely sporadic now.
Your favorite part(s) of being a writer?

The best part is, as I mentioned in the above question, getting to manipulate the book the way I want it. I've read a ton of books where the girl ends up with the wrong guy (at least in my opinion). Like in the Hunger Games, for example, I much prefered Gale to Peeta. I wanted them to be together. Gale was such a man's man, so tough. And, since he had dark hair, I pictured him looking like my husband. When Katniss picked Peeta, I wanted it to change. So when writing my own books, I am able to make things happen the way I see it.

What was your favorite book growing up? Currently?
Growing up I devoured books. I am a very fast reader, and so I could go through several books a day. I loved Lucy Maud Montgomery (but not the Anne books, I preferred Emily of New Moon), Gordon Korman (who is absolutely hilarious), Lois Duncan (The Gift of Magic was my favourite), Caroline Cooney (with her Janie books especially), and Carolyn Keene with all the Nancy Drew books.

If I had to pick a favourite, though, my number one book would probably have been Harry Potter (which isn't one book... it's seven... but I'm sure it counts as one. Right? RIGHT?) I read them all dozens of time and still love them.

My favourite book now, though, is The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella. Such a feel good book. Oh wait, I also love Gone With The Wind. Gah. I can't pick. Way too many favourites.

PS- This question made me think of George W. Bush, when asked this, replied 'The Very Hungry Caterpiller'. Ironically, the book wasn't written until he was an adult. Way to read, George. :)

On your blog you mention having lived in both Canada and America. Have you had any trouble promoting in duel markets?

It is tricky in several ways. My publisher is American, and the distributor they use is American. Therefore, several of the local bookstores up here have trouble getting the book without special orders, so we're still waiting for it to hit the Canadian shelves. Alot of people in Canada have mentioned wanting the book, but don't want to order it online, so it is definitely a problem. Then there is the American market, where my book is in stores etc, but I can't do book signings or alot of promotion because of where I live. So the majority of what I can do is online. Which, is great, because social media is so prominent these days, but I just wish I could do more. My book is one that alot of women would enjoy as a fast, fun summer read, but the hard part is getting it out there for people to hear about.

Do you have any writing quirks that you’d be embarrassed to admit to?
I'm addicted to google and wikipedia. They are my fact checkers. What time does the post office close in Kissimmee, Florida? Let's check google. How many Grammy awards did Justin Beiber win? Wikipedia will know. I'm a total addict, and I hope my university profs never find out because they would be ashamed of me. (Academia hates Wikipedia... go figure...)

I also bite my nails when I concentrate, so after a writing session, I have nothing left but nubbins. I've been trying to break the habit for years.... and I can do it until the next time I sit down to write. And then they are gone again. Sigh.

What’s your favorite indulgence?
Eating chocolate while in the bath. It sounds wrong, but it is so, so right.

Any advice for up and coming authors?
Don't get discouraged by rejection. You hear it all the time, but just keep trying. And write alot. Write every day, even if you're just writing in a blog or your journal or whatever. Write different books. I had written two books before my third book was accepted for publication. Looking back, my first two were kind of crappy, at least now I think they are. But they were the things that got me going, got me thinking and gave me practice on putting a story together, which is actually quite difficult. So just write. And write and write and never stop. :)

Thanks for reading, everyone! Have a wonderful day! xoxo