Archive for July, 2013

ImageRoom of Tears is a spiritual story about heroes, miracles, and faith. It’s also a story about love, death, and tragedy.

In the summer of 2041, 71-year-old Diane O’Connor invites Friar Antonio Ortiz to her home in Queens. The reason is nothing short of mysterious: she has a request for him, which entails giving him a letter and a recording that was made right after the tragedy of September 11, 2001.

Friar Antonio is the friend of Diane’s son, Peter, whom she believes to be destined to become the first American Pope. Diane’s request is for Antonio to keep the two items until Peter is ready to accept his Papacy.

From Diane and Antonio’s conversation while he’s at her home, a mystery is slowly unfolded — though not completely, for it isn’t until decades later when Antonio gives the letter and recording to Peter that everything is revealed, to the shock of not only these two characters but also the reader.

Through Diane’s account, diary entries, the letter, and the recording, the reader is taken back in time to when Diane’s firefighter husband and Peter’s father, Billy, died during 9/11.

Merlino is a talented writer and some segments of the book are written in a truly lyrical, insightful way. It’s clear the author put a lot of time and craft in her creation, which I read took her six years to research and write.

Diane and Friar Antonio are both compelling characters, and I was engrossed by their conversations as the mystery was slowly revealed through some very interesting dialogue. The chapters move at a steady pace that well suits this type of novel where theme and characterization have a heavier hand than plot.

In short, this was an unusual, out-of-the-ordinary read that I enjoyed. The reason I’m giving this review 4 stars instead of 5 is that the ending, while surprising and unexpected, didn’t resonate with me.

Buy on Amazon. Visit the author’s website. Read my interview with the author.

My review first appeared on Blogcritics

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An old undersea cemetery, a secret love, mystery and intrigue await you in PELICAN BAY. Jesse Giles Christiansen has written a well-crafted story of suspense that will keep you turning pages!

Part suspense novel, part literary mystery, Pelican Bay is an original story set in a small, forlorn beach town in South Carolina.

The tale begins with our young protagonist, Ethan Hodges, discovering a sunken cemetery just off the beach that could very well be four centuries old. Compelled to find answers, he begins to ask questions to an old, quirky fisherman named Captain Shelby, a man thought crazy by the town. However, it soon becomes clear that the old grandfatherly figure wants the past to remain buried, and he doesn’t waste time in making that clear to Ethan.

Of course, Ethan doesn’t listen, in spite of the fact that “the old man guards that spot like a great secret — a secret perhaps he’d kill to protect.”

Morgan Olinsworth, a beautiful girl Ethan has loved ever since he can remember, joins in the investigation, and soon the young couple begin to unearth secrets, secrets that are better left hidden under the sea…

Then, Captain Shelby is suspected of murder and disappears, and it isn’t long before unsettling discoveries are made, discoveries that shock Pelican Bay.

The South Carolina coast comes to life in this well-written, well-crafted story by Jesse Giles Christiansen. I was engrossed from the start by the sense of mystery, as well as by the magical, eerie sound of the sea. Ethan and Morgan are sympathetic characters and I loved the eccentric wisdom and quirkiness of Captain Shelby. The author did an excellent job with the old fisherman’s mannerisms and use of dialect.

The tone and atmosphere gave me a haunting feeling about old secrets better left untouched. If you’re looking for a different mystery, give this one a try. Recommended.

Find out more on Amazon.

Visit the author’s website.

Read my interview with the author.

My review was originally published in Blogcritics. This review was provided in exchange for a review copy provided by the author.

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S. L. MorganS.L. Morgan was born and raised in California. After 29 years of living in the Sierra Nevada Mountains there, she and her husband began their journeys of moving throughout the United States. She currently lives in Texas, where she and her husband are raising their three children.

In October of 2011, S.L. Morgan became inspired to write her new novel series, Ancient Guardians. With her passion and love for Jane Austen and other classic romance novels, she was motivated to write a novel series of her own. The Legacy of the Key is the first book in her novel series, taking readers not only into a new magical dimension—but giving them a feeling that they have been transported back in time—into England’s seventeenth century.
With her second novel in this series nearing its release date in late summer 2013, S.L. Morgan is currently writing in the third novel of the
Ancient Guardians series, and is excited to bring her readers on more adventures and journeys with these characters.

Visit her website at www.slmorganauthor.com.


Connect & Socialize with S.L.!


Would you call yourself a born writer?

I wouldn’t call myself a born writer; I think I’m more of a born “story-teller.”  I’ve always had a very active imagination, so I’ve never had an issue developing the stories; being able to convey my wild imagination to a reader and have it make sense to them took a little more finesse.

Ancient Guardians What was your inspiration for Ancient Guardians: The Legacy of the Key?

I was trying to find a book like mine, and I couldn’t…so I decided to write one myself. I combined the things that interest me most in the books I love – adventure, fantasy, history, romance, and characters that I love so much that I feel as though they’re a part of my family. I wanted to put a spin on all of those things, and the end result is this series.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

The themes I enjoyed exploring were, chivalry, benevolence, and being honorable. The reason why I write with these themes is because I feel that these are the things that society is lacking. I enjoy reading about times when a gentleman stands up when a lady walks into the room, or offers her his seat; when people make an effort to give to those are in need without expectation of getting anything back; and being able to trust that someone will do what they say they will. It’s so hard to be able to trust that people are honorable these days. We live in a very cynical world, but I believe these are attributes that everyone longs for, and I hope I do a good job of conveying them in my stories.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

I wrote the first draft in four months. The editing/revising/rewriting process took much longer. It took me a year, in total, to take the book from conception to publication.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I am a very structured person by nature, and therefore, my writing follows a structured routine also. While my husband is at work, and my three kids are at school, I go into writing mode. I have to take advantage of those few hours of solitude (God bless them) so I can write, edit, revise, edit, write, edit, edit, and edit before my kids are home from school. Once the door cracks open just after 3:00 p.m., it’s back to reality for me.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

Interweaving the paranormal with the seventeenth century time period was the most difficult part for me. Finding a way to explain why an advanced group of people would live their lives without things that are technologically advanced was not easy.

What do you love most about being an author?

I love that my creativity has no boundaries. I love being in my imagination, feeling like my characters are real and that they’re allowing me in to tell their story. It’s just as exciting as reading an excellent novel and feeling as though you are living it yourself…the only difference with writing it is that you’re in the driver’s seat.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

After a lot of research, I decided to self-publish. The amount of support that is out there for self-publishing authors these days is amazing. The self-publishing world is a huge community, and I have enjoyed every minute of interacting and meeting other self-published authors.

I am happy with my decision, I would say the only drawback to self-publishing, is that it leaves little time to be creative. If you have a novel out there, you have to market it. I think that if I had a traditional publisher, they would handle the marketing part, and I could focus solely on writing.

Where can we find you on the web?

Website: www.slmorganauthor.com

Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6861881.S_L_Morgan

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/slmorganauthor?ref=hl

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Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00070]“I met Ethan on the day that I killed Karoline.”

Thus begins this psychological mystery. One has to admit, it is a great hooky first line for a book!

What if, in a moment of thoughtless anger, you were to wish your best friend’s demise, then, soon after, that friend ended up dead?

This is the story of our smart, beautiful, psychologically fragile protagonist Anna Williams who, tortured by feelings of shame and guilt after Karoline’s death, suffers an emotional breakdown.

Yet…did Anne really kill Karoline? I couldn’t help but wonder as I turned the pages, asking myself, “Is she a psychopath?” I kept having the unsettling sensation that what I was reading wasn’t what it appeared to be. In this sense, this is a deliciously engaging novel.

Through Anna’s twisted perspective, and with the help of brief and somewhat odd journal entries, author Catherine Astolfo explores the complex relationship between the two friends. The reader will get a glimpse of Anne’s inner journey as she uncovers painful childhood events and discovers a family history filled with unexpected crimes and betrayals.

Sweet Karoline is an exploration into the dark corners of a young woman’s psyche as she falls into a vortex of greed, lies, and deceit.

I enjoyed reading this novel. It was different from many other books I’ve read recently. Written in a stream-of-consciousness manner that well suits the complicated mind of the protagonist, this multi-layered, well-paced story could be considered literary mystery. Astolfo pays a lot of attention to language and her prose, drily witty at times, is eloquent and fluid. What leads people to harm others? What prompts a good person to commit evil acts? These are just some of the questions explored in this dark tale of suspense.

If you enjoy a good psychological mystery, you should try this one out. Recommended.

Purchase on Amazon. Visit the author’s website. Read my interview with the author on Blogcritics.

This review first appeared on Blogcritics and was given in exchange for a review copy provided by the publisher, Imajin Books.

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Lisa Regan 2Lisa Regan is a suspense novelist.  She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Master of Education Degree from Bloomsburg University.  She is a member of Sisters In Crime. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter.

Her latest book is the crime thriller, Aberration.

Visit her website at www.LisaRegan.com.

About the Book:

aberration.inddFBI analyst Kassidy Bishop is assigned to the “For You” killer’s task force after a series of sadistic murders bearing the same signature arise in different parts of the country.

The homicides are both calculated and savage, occurring in different states, but bearing the same signature: the words “for you” scribbled at each crime scene. The case chills Kassidy, bringing back memories of her own encounter with a violent criminal five years earlier.

Kassidy’s mentor, legendary agent Talia “The Confessor” Crossen knows the task force assignment is Kassidy’s chance to prove to her colleagues that she belongs in the Behavior Analysis Unit. For five years, other FBI agents and profilers scoffed at Kassidy’s appointment to the BAU, believing she was only offered the position in exchange for her silence about the brutal assault that almost killed her.

The stakes rise when the task force links the killer’s signature to Kassidy. As more and more bodies turn up, Kassidy must delve into her past and the mysterious death of her twin sister, which holds the key to uncovering the killer’s identity.

The closer Kassidy comes to finding the killer, the closer she comes to a deadly confrontation that could cost her everything—including her own life.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON.


Would you call yourself a born writer?

Yes.  I’ve been writing since I was old enough to put words on the page.

What was your inspiration for Aberration?

In college I lived in an apartment where things kept disappearing all the time.  Books, my lucky hair scrunchy, stuff like that.  Since I’m a crime writer, my first thought was STALKER!  That’s how the idea started out—this idea of a stalker.  Of course a benign stalker doesn’t make for very good entertainment so I had to add some conflict, which eventually came into the story as a serial killer.  I don’t want to give away too much because it will spoil the surprises in the book, but let’s just say that in this book there is a stalker who starts out with good intentions but ends up as a serial killer.  I shaped the story around that.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I’m completely obsessed with how people survive horrible things.  How do they get past it and move on?  Crimes people commit against other people are one of the worst things in the world, so I’m always exploring the lives of characters who have either survived something like that or are dealing with it.  In Aberration both my protagonist and my antagonist have been through some horrible things and you get to see how it’s informed the decisions they make in life.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

Two years to complete the first draft.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I’m a full-time paralegal and a mom so I don’t have a typical writing day.  I write in a notebook at I keep tin my purse when I’m standing in line at the post office or waiting in the doctor’s office.  I try to commit myself to 10 minutes of writing work a night once my daughter and husband are asleep.  It doesn’t always work.  I just have to fit it in when I can.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

When to reveal certain things-I didn’t want to give away too much too soon.  It was hard getting the pacing just right and revealing things at just the right time without making the book totally confusing.

What do you love most about being an author?

The writing, always the writing.  It’s like being in the novelty period of a relationship.  Invigorating.  Now that I’m published, the best part is connecting with readers who actually like my work.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

I went with a small independent press and it’s been awesome!  They gave me a lot of control throughout the process and it’s a lot more intimate which is nice.

Where can we find you on the web?




Amazon Author Page




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CurseGiver_Front Cover FinalIntrigue, romance and adventure await you in Dora Machado’s latest fast-paced, plot-twisting fantasy, The Curse Giver, just released by Twilight Times Books.

The story begins with our innocent healer heroine, Lusielle, as she is about to be burned on the pyre after she’s sentenced to death for a crime she didn’t commit. But just as the flames are about to engulf her, a mysterious stranger on a horse storms through the crowd and rescues her.

Brennus, Lord of Laonia, is tormented by the curse that has destroyed his people. To undo it, he must kill Lusielle in the most vicious of ways, for she is the one who bears the mysterious birthmark.

However, destiny plays a trick on them. Now together, amidst a world teetering on the brink of war, predator and prey grow too close for their own good. Passion flares as in a twist of fate, together, they try to defeat the terrifying curse and destroy the Curse Giver…

Lovers of dark romantic fantasy will relish The Curse Giver. This was a wonderfully entertaining, absorbing read. The stakes are high, the conflict compelling, and the sympathetic hero and heroine will make you fall in love with them. But the best thing about the novel is the writing itself. Lyric at times, Machado’s prose flows beautifully throughout the pages, bringing to life her fictional world in full, vivid detail.

The Curse Giver is a memorable adventure for fans of fantasy and one I can certainly recommend.

Find out more on Amazon or from Twilight Times Books.

Read my interview with the author here on Blogcritics.

This review first appeared on Blogcritics and was provided in exchange for a review copy provided by the author.

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ImageLinda Merlino is the author of  Room of Tears (July 23 2013), Hudson Catalina (2008-Belly of the Whale & re-release 9/14/12), Swan Boat Souvenir (self-published 2003) she began writing fiction as a young mother on the sidelines of endless soccer practices.  Linda wrote anytime any place.  A manuscript filled a carton in the back seat of her car.  Many years have passed since those early beginnings, but her work continues to be inspired by her children.

The author has a fascination with heroes and writes her fiction to honor ordinary men and women who react unselfishly in extraordinary circumstances.  She extends her gratitude to all who keep us safe and free.

Her hometown is outside of Boston.  She lived for many years in New York City and more recently calls Connecticut her home. 

Find the author on the web:







Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Room of Tears. What was your inspiration for it?

A:In the spring of 2008 I had a chance encounter with a woman in North Carolina.  She and I met at Raleigh Durham Airport to discuss arrangements for an upcoming book signing.  During the course of our conversation I confessed to her that on the flight from New York to Raleigh I’d been thinking about the research I was doing on another book and decided that the process was too daunting and perhaps I should abandon the project.  The woman asked about the subject matter, I told her the background of the story was 9/11.  She picked up a pen and wrote the names of several books.  Read these, she said, and then write your story.  I lived it.  My husband was a New York City firefighter he switched shifts that day because of a doctor’s appointment.   He’s retired now.  We moved down here to get away from the memories.  She went on to tell me of the widows, and the funerals and the waiting, and the grief.

Write your story, she said, I may not be able to read it, but it needs to be written. 

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist.

A: Diane O’Connor is the widow of firefighter, Billy O’Connor killed in the South Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.  Her life as she knew it, as she had planned it, ended at 9:59 a.m. that morning.  Extraordinary things happened subsequent to the tragedy, events that she has kept to herself – expecting to remain unspoken.  Diane is a strong woman – she does not accept her fate without questioning-if it were not for her son born nine months after 9/11 she would not have revealed her journal and its remarkable accounts of the year that followed 9/11.  A formidable woman, Diane O’Connor should not be forgotten. 

Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?

A: I tally a total of six years in which I was consumed by the research and writing of Room of Tears.  I struggled initially with the first chapter.  I knew the ending but in order to get there-to Imageget the reader there-I needed to work out the first chapter. Eventually I took a leap of faith breaking it up and putting slices of it later in the book.  Beginning, instead, with the heart of the story – going there directly taking the reading to the jumping off place without any clues to where they were going. 

Q: How do you keep your narrative exciting throughout the creation of a novel?

A: Not an easy task…My only answer is to try and get into the skin and head of the character who is speaking – what will he or she say next – how will he or she react – how does he or she feel – and keep writing dialogue until you nail it. 

Q: Do you experience anxiety before sitting down to write? If yes, how do you handle it?

A: Anxiety disappears while I am writing – writing is my medicine – the elixir for anxiety. 

Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?

A:Balancing writing – family and writing has always been a challenge.  The dynamics have altered but it is still a juggle.  I try to stay disciplined and adhere to writing in the morning before the day begins in earnest and in the evening as a way to unwind. 

Q: How do you define success?

A: My measure of success comes from knowing that I have stayed true to my writer’s gift. 

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers whose spouses or partners don’t support their dreams of becoming an author?

A: It is very difficult to pursue a writer’s life without the support of loved ones.  Stay on course –put who you are in the forefront.  Persevere – to thine own self be true – if nothing changes “make a new plan Stan.” 

Q: George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Do you agree?

A: Amen to George…I write because I must…writing a book is the easy part – marketing it is the painful illness. 

Q:  Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

A: Never give up – follow that dream – be whatever it is you dreamed you could be no matter your age or place on the planet – just do it!





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