Next Up For Review

Next Up For Review
The Center Cannot Hold, Elyn Saks

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I've been absent for far too long. I wish I could report that my absence was due to something fabulous. Sadly, I can't. 
These past few weeks I have wallowed in the mire of parenting and all the drudgery that comes with the twenty+ year contract that goes along with it. 
I did find time (this past Friday) to go have my eyes shot full of laser beams. I'm happy to report that the miracle of Lasik has given me twenty/twenty vision!
Before surgery, I was legally blind without my Mr. Magoo spectacles, so I consider this proof that science is an amazing thing that we should continue to fund.
On to my review.

1. Wingless, Book One by Holly Hood.
Eve's life was never perfect, she knew this. If only her family realized the same thing. The loss of Marcus, her brother, The one person who made life tolerable was gone, death stole him away from her. And she was angry, sad, and emotionally beaten.
Eve's only wish now in life was for death to take a hike, but that was never going to happen. Because death found Eve to be simply perfect, everything anyone could ask for in a girl. That was Eve.
When Eve's brother Marcus dies, she knows there will never be another person that compares to him. She is sucked into a debilitating depression that she fears she will never survive. She never feels the same after his loss. And after a few years, the pain has found a way to turn into a nagging state of contemplation for her.
And when she feels she will never find a way to gain her sense of normalcy back, she meets an unusual guy who keeps her on her toes, and longing to know more. But, there is nothing normal about him and this pulls her into his world. He is the part of life Eve has been trying to get past, a part she never thought existed in real life- Death. And when death literally walks the earth, and creeps into your heart, it is very hard to see any part of life the same way again.
Wingless is a book about life through the eyes of a young girl who simply wants to live. It takes a look at life through deaths eyes. And you see the struggles for two beings to love one another when that shouldn’t be possible. Would it be possible to love someone who could hurt you as nobody else could? Would you love a person who could take everything away from you? Wingless lets you see that not everything is what it seems. And it can have you maybe for a quick moment look at things from another point of view. In all the chaos that is life, it is possible to find love amongst all the ugliness.?

Cover: A
I like this cover. The original cover was not as appealing. This one screams, it was a dark & scary night... I'm not clear on why the author changed it, but I think it was a good decision.
Story: C 
The concept for this book: A material. The delivery brought it down to a C. It is a great concept. As far as I know, 100% original; but execution matters. I enjoyed the book, but at times I struggled to follow it. I also thought the two main characters (Eve and Evan)spent quite a bit of time YELLING! and flipped from being loving, content, & happy to violent on a dime. I like dark stories. I've even written a few. This one just felt inconsistent. I'm happy, I'll beat the crap out of you, I'm totally content...all in the time span of thirty seconds.  This book could easily be tightened up, smoothed out & re-released for a much higher grade. 
Overall C
I know, the cover is an A, which should leave the overall grade a B- at the lowest.I just couldn't bring myself to go all the way to a B due to a great photo. I would love to revisit this book in the future if Ms. Hood makes revisions. It is a YA series, and I'd love to hear the opinion of some other YA readers too. Maybe YA just isn't my thing?
If you're looking for a dark story with a unique twist you can find Wingless on for $0.99. At that price, you can read it, decide if I'm spot on (or way off), and send me a love/hate note. I'll be waiting... 

2. Some people just don't get it
Last week, I had the distinct honor of being a featured blogger on Mamapedia. 
They took my piece, Living Off the Crumbs, which is about (as you might guess) the pain of motherhood and well, living off the crumbs.
For those of you that don't follow my Skirt Blog, you probably aren't aware that I blog (sarcastically) about my life, pretty much every day. No one in my family is safe from ridicule. In fact, my husband refuses to read it, claiming the harmony of our marriage is at stake.
That's fine. I get it. But, so does he. He knows that I love my life, husband, kids, & projectile vomiting cat included. He understands that when you have to scrape shellacked boogers off the drywall...sometimes you just gotta vent.
Most of the Mamapedia readers got it.
But, there were a large handful of Nancy Do Gooders that came out and roasted me like a marshmallow at a Girl Scout campfire. They proclaimed their undying devotion to diaper changing and dirty dishes. To them I say, "Liar, liar, pants on fire." Nobody gets through 20+ years of servitude to eating machines without a little snark...or possibly a closet pitcher of margaritas?
To the lovers: XOXO. Hang tough, ladies. You can do it!

3. Release
Yep, it's time.

Released on, Smashwords, & other assorted e-book stores!
I will be furiously posting links over the next couple of days. In the meantime, check it out! (Click on the pic) And don't forget to stop by tomorrow night (June 1st) 8:00 p.m. @ the Empire bookstore.
It's a virtual event, so really, if you're anywhere near a computer, you can attend!
Be there.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Lunch Bunch

Yesterday, I was ready to give up being a reviewer. Then something happened on the way to the delete button...

Looking for something short, sweet, and inexpensive (but worth every penny) to read? I would highly encourage you to pick up a copy of :
Lunch Reads, Volume 1, from 
Istoria Books.
In this first edition of short stories offered by Istoria Books (eBooks You Want to Read at Prices You Want to Pay ™), readers can devour two tasty and satisfying tales of suspense and cozy mystery. Jenny Milchman and Libby Sternberg take readers on domestic journeys where the prosaic turns into the perplexing, creating everyday dramas that aren’t easily resolved.

Get on the Istoria Books mailing list to learn of upcoming books and limited-time-only discounts:


In this volume:

THE VERY OLD MAN…by Jenny Milchman
A chance encounter in a grocery store spooks a young mother. When small accidents begin to happen around her young child, she wonders if the old man who'd given her daughter a quarter is to blame.

At small town on the Outer Banks, a loving groom fails to show up on his wedding day. As family and friends try to locate him and explain his absence, the bride's aunt draws on town gossip to figure out where he's gone, unintentionally mimicking the Jessica-Fletcher-like character her sister actress plays on TV.

My thoughts:
Cover: A I love the look of this book cover. Reminiscent of a 1950's lunch counter in color, design, even the lettering! The cover designer for Istoria Books got this one right. Yay for simplicity! Yay for cool color schemes! Double thumbs up, guys (or gals as the case may be).

Story: A+/A  Wow! These ladies are really overachievers! Both stories earned solid A's. I gave The Very Old Man, By Jenny Milchman an A+. The story has an intense suspense level that's tough to build in a short. Ms. Milchman created the edge of your seat thriller, and it is perfect. I loved it. In fact, I wish I'd written it. Drat!
Escape From Southern Point, by Libby Sternberg also earned an A. A very solid, not even close to a B, A. This story is a sweet mystery. Humorous from the first word. Very entertaining. I loved it as well. 

Overall A This book is one of the very best reads I've had the dubious honor to review in awhile. The package, from stem to stern, is perfect. Worth every penny (only 99 of them? I would consider paying more for this dynamic duo). An overall AWESOME read.
Congrats Istoria Books. Congrats Ms. Milchman & Ms. Sternberg. You have hit on a winning combination. 
You can pick up your copy of Lunch Reads, Volume 1, at (and I suggest you do...soon).



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Summer Storms Require Steamy Reads

I feel as if I haven't posted a review in a million years. I believe this is due to the recent Bloggerquake. The aftershocks of which, are still being bitched about on every writers forum from here to Timbuktu.
That being said, the brief time away from my manic posting gave me some much needed me time; which I spent on my zero gravity recliner, on my deck, whenever the sun dared to peek out from behind the clouds.
The result of the lazy-cat-in-the-sun time is the following review:

1. Storm's Heart by Rachel Lyndhurst snippet:

Storm's Heart is a contemporary romance with a dark, brooding centre. When Greek lawyer Andreas Lazarides and bistro-manager Kizzy Dean clash over the executing of his mother's final wishes, Kizzy's turbulent past kicks up a storm in Andreas's heart that rages until his own explosive secrets are revealed.

Cover: B
My one issue with the cover? Kizzy's hair color. In the story, the reader discovers that Kizzy is half Romani...and accordingly, her hair is described as dark. To me, the cover seems to portray Kizzy as a dark blond/light brunette. It's a small thing; but it messed with the image of Kizzy I created in my mind's eye. The cover Kizzy and the story Kizzy didn't match. It was making me crazy (perhaps, it just highlights my own insanity?). 

Story A-/B+
I love Kizzy Dean. She is absolutely adorable. Dark, smoldering, Andreas was a challenge for me. The beginning of the book he is just soooo full of himself. I want to kick him in his Dolmades and sent him packing. As the story comes together, you learn more about him as a person, and it helps; but first impressions are hard to shake. As corny as I feel admitting this, I shed a couple of tears at the end! (What on earth is happening to me???)
The sex is scintillating. So hot, that there were parts I had to gloss over for fear of self igniting. (I went back and read them later, of course).

Overall Grade B+++
Romance stories were never my first choice when picking through genres; but the last two books I've reviewed (both from Salt Publishing) are quickly making me a convert. 
This is Ms. Lyndhurst's first novel and she deserves a standing ovation. Her writing style swept me off my feet from page one. Her desriptions make me want to pack my bags and move to Lindos, so I can run barefoot through the cobblestone streets and take a daily dip in the Agean!

Right now you can snatch up a copy of Storm's Heart at Available in paperback for $14.95 or a paltry sum of $3.99 for your Kindle or other ereader. If you want to be swept away, give it a go.

2. Confessions is coming!

Oh, my goodness, where do I start?
I opened my inbox this morning and found the final/edited copy of Confessions of a PTA Mafia Mom. My publisher, did me the awesome favor of sending it back to me, for a final/final/ once over before it goes to layout. Next time I see it, it will be in ebook format, cover & all.
Then, I fully expect all of you to purchase and review it.

3. Looking for your submissions...again
Believe it or not, May is half finished. Do you know what that means? It means, that once again, I am desperately seeking your short fiction/poetry/snarky blog posts to adorn the Elsie Love website for the month of June.

Come on people; it's easy, fun, & it puts a smile on my face.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Lost Post

Thanks Blogger, for doing whatever 'maintenance' you felt was necessary. Because of your fastidiousness, I lost my post from this week.
T.G. I cross post my reviews on Good Reads, & Shelfari. Now for a little maintenance of my own, with the magic of cut & paste.
My apologies to Ms. Dickinson, who's review was up, then down, and now up again. Arghhh. Maddening.

1. Painted in a Corner by Autumn Dickinson

 Typically, I avoid spoilers at all costs; but for the purpose of accurately rating this book, I feel I must include some.
I read the book rather quickly and enjoyed it. The plot, especially the surprise ending (almost a double surprise. There is a big BANG! but wait...there's more...) took some twists and turns that I could not predict. I hate knowing everything before it happens. Not good when that happens. This book will throw you a curve ball or two.

It did have some editing issues: i.e. using the wrong words- past where it should have read passed. Also, a couple of scenes had some minor head hopping issues. Not enough to make you dizzy, but if you are a stickler on that issue you will see it.
I also thought Bianca was an enigma wrapped in a riddle. One minute she's complaining up a storm about how awful her brother/sister are (typical YA behavior)and the next she's saying things like "My brother maintained his youthful good looks" He's 25...he never lost them! LOL

(Here come the spoilers)

This book has some girl on girl throw in a boy action in it. I'm not a prude; however the premise for that material in this story didn't ring true for me. I thought it was just some spice for spice sake. It was well written; but I had a tough time taking the relationship between Bianca & her female experimental springboard the way the author intended. 

Again, I apologize. This review was longer and graded (at a B- read). When I lost the post, I lost the added material. I can tell you that it is an interesting read that I felt would be most appealing to women between the ages of 17-25. Right now you can pick up a copy for your kindle on for $0.99.
Right price for an interesting read.

2. My debut @ Inspired Quill
My first attempt at writing something with less snark & circumstance has hit the web. I loved it when I wrote it. Now that it's in so sure.
Stop by & judge for yourself:
Elsie Love's Fiction 
While you're there, leave a note. Thanks for your support blogger fans; you guys are the best!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Painting Outside the Lines

I'm back. Back from the joys of vacation. Back to daily dishes & vacuuming. Book to book reviews and other wandering thoughts of little or no consequence.
Betcha missed me, didn't you?

No reason to delay. Book review first.

1. Painted in a Corner, by Autumn Dickinson:

Warning! This review contains spoilers!

Typically, I avoid spoilers at all costs; but for the purpose of accurately rating this book, I feel I must include some. The following is a synopsis from

Bianca Barrett returns to her hometown after graduating college to find herself feeling trapped and haunted by her past. An old flame burns brighter and the girl who considered herself reserved throws caution to the wind, along with her inhibitions. Strong love, new friendships, lies, betrayal, and revenge turn Bianca's world upside down. Will love be enough in the end?

Not intended for young readers.

My Thoughts:

Cover: B
Sometimes simple is better. I think that is definitely the case with this book. Often, writers, especially those that create their own covers, will get a little 'nutzy' with color/detail. The cover is a super important part of a book; but it isn't supposed to tell the whole story. It can make or break sales. This cover is simple and effective. It didn't knock my socks off; but the overlay of the peering eyes & the texture with the grey scale gives it some added draw without being gaudy & overdone.

The Story: B-
I read the book rather quickly and enjoyed it. The plot, especially the surprise ending (almost a double surprise. There is a big BANG! but wait...there's more...) took some twists and turns that I could not predict. I hate knowing everything before it happens. Not good when that happens. This book will throw you a curve ball or two.
It did have some editing issues: i.e. using the wrong words- past where it should have read passed. Also, a couple of scenes had some minor head hopping issues. Not enough to make you dizzy, but if you are a stickler on that issue you will see it. 
I also thought Bianca was an enigma wrapped in a riddle. One minute she's complaining up a storm about how awful her brother/sister are (typical YA behavior)and the next she's saying things like "My brother maintained his youthful good looks" He's 25...he never lost them! LOL

(Here come the spoilers)

This book has some girl on girl throw in a boy action in it. I'm not a prude; however the premise for that material in this story didn't ring true for me. I thought it was just some spice for spice sake. It was well written; but I had a tough time taking the relationship between Bianca & her female experimental springboard the way the author intended.

Overall Grade: B
I find myself reading more & more indie work these days. Quite a bit bores me to tears, annoys me due to glaring editing & plot issues, and overall leaves me flat. It's just 'Meh'. This book (I believe a first try for Ms. Dickinson) was better than the average. It has the disclaimer due to the sex; but it really reads like a younger woman's fantasy. I would think that girls between 17-24 would eat this up. At forty (God, I'm forty?!?!)I had to chuckle at a few things I found a bit ridiculous.
This book is available on for a paltry $0.99 for your Kindle. Great price...interesting read.

2. Hope Tugs at America's Heart Strings
About a week ago I wrote a post for my national blog page titled,
I choose Hope.  
I liked it. It was a heartfelt expression of gratitude. I'm happy to report that quite a few others did too, because at last count it had over 1,000 hits! That's a PR for me. Just wanted to share my baby milestones with you. If you'd like to take a peek, click on the title & you will be there.

3. Editorial Debut Friday!!!
 If you follow my wanderings at all you know that I recently started writing for a publisher in England. It's an experiment in some serious (ha! As if...) journalism for me. My first Article is set to post Friday!!!!
As soon as I get the link, you'll be the first to know.

Until then-

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Scots Are Hot

Greetings Elsie Love fans. Happy Mother's Day to you all. Many of you love Mother's Day (live for it, really). I have no delusions of flowers and candy and spa days, not while I'm at home anyway. Because of the dark Mother's Days of the past decade, I bring you this post from a secret location where men and children aren't allowed.
Today I have my very first author interview to post. That's a Mother's Day gift in its own right. So without further adieu, I bring you.....drum roll please...  
Newly single Cassie Wrentham spends a long weekend in Scotland with frightening-looking cows, difficult cats and friendly, stubborn Scots. One attracts her immediately, and the feeling is mutual. But Cassie is ruled by her head, not her heart; she can't even read a fairy tale without rolling her eyes and picking the plot apart. She won't fall for the love-at-first-sight thing--or will she?
(which is the first book in the two book series. I know many of you love those series books) 

1. Where did you get the idea for your novel? How long did it take you to finish your first draft; and how long was it between writing ‘The End’ and seeing it in print?

I have no clue where the idea came from. ;-) I wanted to send a young woman on a journey of self discovery, see her through a quarter-life crisis of sorts. My plan was to send her overseas, to a new environment, and have that new environment contribute to her journey. I wasn't sure where she was going; I had a bit of writer's block. I was talking to my best friend about it and she brought up a decades-old inside joke about sheep. That made me think of Scotland, and because I'd visited there in my 20s I thought I could write about it with some degree of credibility. Once Cassie got to Scotland, the story started writing itself.

The first draft took a month: I wrote it in November of 2008. I was using National Novel Writing Month to force an external deadline on myself. I'm a science/medical writer by trade, so I work best on deadline! After that month, I spent several months editing it, and received the first proof in early June of 2009.

2. You self published. Was this your first choice on the path to publication? What have been the pros & cons of heading into the wide open world of self publishing?

Self publishing was my only choice. I know enough published writers to believe that when it comes to fiction, the publishing process has a huge element of chance built in. A publishing house has different considerations than I do -- what's the audience, how can they market it, are there other books it will conflict with in terms of marketing, is the topic considered "hot." I haven't ruled out traditional publishing, but I enjoy the autonomy of self publishing -- and I think the stigma of the "vanity press" is diminishing markedly. You no longer have to pay a couple of thousand dollars to see your book in print; the cost is minimal. And the eBook has been an unexpected blessing for me; I've sold many more Kindles and eBooks than paperbacks, reaching a much wider audience!

So, the pros: freedom to work on my own timeline, set my own prices, and have full editorial and design control. The cons: no marketing budget. And no five-figure advances, either. But money is not my objective; I don't know many novelists who are in it to make money.

3. What advice do you have for all the closet writers afraid to come into the light & proclaim their passion for the written word?

Go for it. It's easier than ever to get your words out there, and there's nothing like the feeling of holding your own book in your hands, or hearing that your efforts touched someone else's life. I was in a cafe recently talking about A Scottish Ferry Tale to a friend, and one of the cafe employees saw the book on the table and gasped. "I just finished that book!" she said. "I loved it. You *wrote* it?" And went on to talk to me about a certain scene in the novel that she'd been thinking about for days. You can imagine how that made me feel - I was definitely more thrilled than she was!

4. Who was your favorite character to write & why? Ditto for your least favorite.
Oh, they were all fun. I know that's a cop-out, but I do like them all. Aisling was great fun to write - she has wisdom beyond her years, as a lot of young kids do. Ralph was fun to write as well... who wouldn't want full control over a handsome Scotsman? ;-)

5. Who is your greatest inspiration?
The people who will read what I write and be moved by it.

6. What is your greatest indulgence? Any bad habits that you partake of when you are in the throes of creating?
I have a massive sweet tooth. I swear I burn more calories when I write. Of course I have no "bad" habits... how could chocolate and red wine be bad? :-)

Actually there is a "good" habit that helps me write -- I'm a runner (a slow-ish one). I didn't start running until I was over 30, and never in a million years did I expect to enjoy it, or discover that it could help the creative process! The title for Ferry Tale came to me on a run. I had been having a horrible time coming up with a title, so I was glad for that. There are some scenes in the sequel that I thought through =while running, too.

So, my thoughts on the book are as follows: 

 Cover: B-/C+ At the time I agreed to read and review this book, I didn't have my Kindle, so I got a print copy. The quality of the paper was great. Nice, heavy, glossy stock. If you are going to put a book in your hands, stuff like paper quality matters. My first two books lacked that in their first edition printing, so I've had first hand experience with poopy paper. The cover photo was just okay. It looked to be a personal photograph and came out a bit blurry around the edges. Not bad, but not great.The second book in the series has a better cover (in my humble opinion).
Story: B-/C+ Many readers have reported having trouble with the age difference between Ralph and Cassie. That wasn't the case for me. I guess I've known enough May/December romances to not even bat an eye. My issue came with the 'conflict' of the story. Cassie struggles with giving up her independence/future to go to Scotland to be with Ralph 100%. I would never have left in the first place! Hot guy, madly in love with me, wildly successful as an actor? Yeah, I'd never give that up. Probably would have married him after the first date. The torture of listening to her ramble on about what she'd be giving up, considering there wasn't anything to give or miss, drove me mad. But then again, I'm a go with your gut kinda gal.
The romance boils at a low simmer throughout the book. I wanted the big BANG!

Overall Grade: B-/C+ Here's the deal. If you want a spicy sizzler with loads of hot sex, this isn't the book for you. You will find yourself wanting to throttle Cassie while screaming, "WAKE UP YOU DOLT!"
If you love Scotland, dream about Gerard Butler, and want a sweet story, then this book will tickle your fancy. Plus, you'll have the added bonus of the sequel (which I haven't read) to follow their love story to the end, or beginning, or however it goes.
Right now both books are available on for your Kindle at $0.99. Steal of a deal and you don't have to taste a bit of haggis. 

A big thank you to Ms. Volkers for sending me a signed copy and giving a gracious interview. 


Monday, May 2, 2011

Time Out

Today is a joyous occasion. The United States has slain the dragon that destroyed our land and people nearly a decade ago. As a woman with a husband & son that are currently serving in the US Navy I need to say two things:

I am so proud. Thank you my boys (and all the boys & girls) that give of themselves so we can be free.

Time to celebrate.(I can think of no better way than a book review and a big announcement, can you?)

1. How do you treat the flag? I have an interesting book from author, Stacy Juba
Since this story deals with the very delicate topic of proper etiquette of flag handling, I thought today would be a good day to post this unannounced review.

My blog is misbehaving, so I apologize for not being able to move the cover to the left which is my aesthetic choice. I'm spontaneously reviewing The Flag Keeper for two reasons: 

The first is the obvious joy over snagging one of the world's most horrific terrorists. The second is I enjoyed this book. Having a military family most likely jades me a please keep that in mind. Here is the Smashwords synopsis:

Elizabeth may be a little bear, but she treats the American flag with big respect. After Dad leaves for a trip, Elizabeth pledges to raise the flag all by herself and create her own Independence Day. This illustrated picture book teaches children about U.S. flag etiquette through a fiction story, flag facts, activity idea, and discussion questions. 

My take:

Cover: No grade.
What???? Hear me out on this. I read this book on my Kindle. Lets just say that I now have found a flaw in my beloved device...children's books. Created with full color illustrations, children's books are difficult to enjoy on a black and white screen. If I'd read it on a color nook, or an iPad, or had a hard copy of the story, there would be a grade, believe me. I just think it would be very unfair to grade something that relies so heavily on the readers ability to *see* it.

Story: Solid B
The story is a little dry, but it is supposed to be used as an instructional How to when teaching young kids about the American flag. That's a tough topic to make interesting to a six year old. I think Ms. Juba did a nice job creating something that will hold the audience's interest and at the same time provide an education. 

Overall Grade: B
If you are part of a military family, the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Indian Princesses, or any other group that works with children on an educational level, this book provides a valuable lesson in an easy to teach format. This is my first experience with a book that tackles a patriotic issue for young'uns. I'm glad to see a writer take it head on.
The book can be yours from Smashwords for a mere $0.99. just make sure you view it from a color device!

2. Finally, a giveaway! Runs from today until June 24th

A big thanks to all the wonderful people out there that took the time to find and follow my rambling blog. I hit my first meager goal of fifty followers, so as promised, I will now host a giveaway.
Hmmm, what shall I part with?
How about a love story straight from the grassy knolls and thatched roofs of Scotland? It's a love story too. And, as an added bonus, I will be interviewing the author this coming Sunday.

The book is: A Scottish Ferry Tale, by Nancy Volkers (print edition)

Here is the blurb:
Once upon a time, a young woman had her heart broken. She was cynical enough to close the door on love, but idealistic enough not to lock it. Instead, she escaped to an island off Scotland's west coast, where she met someone who might change her life, if she would only allow it. Does she? And who is this life-changing person, anyway? Are there any dragons? Fairy godmothers? Chocolate cake? And is there a happily ever after? this a *kissing* book?!

Sounds good right? I'm also throwing in a mystery book of my choosing! The Rules are as follows:
1.follow my blog
2. Go to my website: and click on the FB 'Like' button
3. Go to my other website: and click on the FB 'like' button
4. Leave me a note in the comments section of this post
The winner will be chosen at random and notified via email to make arrangements for shipping. It is open to US residents only (I'm a writer. I can't afford overseas shipping, sorry)
Not too bad, eh? 
Better get clicking!