Next Up For Review

Next Up For Review
The Center Cannot Hold, Elyn Saks

Friday, April 29, 2011

Bound to Enjoy

Happy Friday!
It would be much happier if the sun would decide to peek out from behind the clouds for a day. I've been using the dreary days as motivation to plant my big behind in my writing chair. Truth be told, I'd be just as happy to plant it in the sun & write, should spring ever decide to swoop in. What gives, Mother Nature?
Big news on the Elsie Love blog; but first let's get to the review of the week.

1.Bound to Love, Sally Clements.
Oh la-la. What a steamy, dreamy, thrill ride. A romance, rated on the 'softer' side (meaning the details of the encounters between the main characters are juicy but not overly detailed ie erotica. Yes, I need to clarify--not everyone reads according to how many roses or hot peppers or whatever ratings the publisher uses). Well, it sure got my juices flowing. It. Was. Hot. 

Here's the synopsis via

Jake Forrester, a controlled, self-reliant security expert scarred by his father's murder, is pursuing his goal of an independent life, relying on himself and logic, until he's forced to accept the help of an impulsive, spirited goldsmith who follows her instincts, wherever they may lead. When Tempest MacKenzie witnesses a gorgeous stranger being bundled into a van, she tries to help him, but becomes tangled in a complex web of intrigue. Tempest finds stubborn Jake attractive, compelling and infuriating, his logic the complete antithesis of her reliance on her instincts. And Jake is fascinated and attracted to the feisty redhead. As they spend time together trying to thwart a heist at the British Museum, the attraction between them flares out of control. The thief has a grudge against Jake, and danger stalks their every move. Will Jake learn to trust Tempest's intuition, before it's too late?

Sounds like your typical romance, right? I wouldn't know, I think the last romance novel I read was in the early nineties and all memories of the event have been erased. So here's my break down of the book:

A. The cover: Yum. A++. The cover artist deserves a standing ovation. I've always felt I was supposed to be a red head of the Copper family, so maybe I'm a bit overzealous in my love; but really...look at it! It screams "good book here!"

B. The Plot/Story: B I enjoyed it. It was fun. It was hot. It made me want to build a fire with my husband or jet of to Paris.There was a turn or two that wasn't over the top obvious to me, which earns the book bonus points. I hate knowing every twist and turn from page one. I did find the beginning (which is supposed to be the big draw you in part) a little too cheesy. Jake & Tempest feel a connection that is so overpowering. I would have liked a little more conflict in the beginning working towards the intensity as opposed to instant attraction followed by questioning. 
Overall, it was very well written story. Kudos Ms. Clements, very nice work!

C. Overall Grade: A Caveat: if you are a romance reader, this will be a solid A or an A+. If you are a bits and pieces sampler it will be in the A- to B- range due to the fact that as a romance book, you will find some of the facets to be a little bit out there. I add the second rating only for those that aren't romance readers & are considering a cross over. A summer fling, a juicy dip on the European side...whatever you'd call it. 
The thrill of the heist/kidnapping/craziness rates in the B range...romance in the A range. Make sense?
Overall a great little read. I would recommend you give it a whirl. Currently the book is selling for $3.99 for the Kindle Version on Amazon. Worth the chump change, for sure. Pick it up!

2. New Ratings System (big news)
I'm dropping stars as a ratings system. Maybe it's because as a writer I'm drawn to letters. Maybe it's because I'm a free spirit and I don't want to be penned in by a 'ratings system' that leaves no room for free will. Maybe it's because having to stick stars on my blog creates another tool bar that detracts from the reviews...maybe all three. At any rate I'm now going with letter ratings. 
B= A good solid read 
C= Okay, nothing super special 
D= pretty big flaws in story & technique/ and or not really enjoyable 
F= a waste of time & money. 
Got it? Good. Moving on....

3. Follow Friday.
 As always, I'm a little late to the party. I'm working on joining the Follow Friday Blog hop craze to increase my list of followers. There's a button somewhere on the side bar. Find it, add it to your blog, follow me & I'll follow you. It's a little nutty, but I think I'm getting the hang of it.
When I hit the big 5-0 on the followers bar I will host a book giveaway.

That's it folks. I've got nothing else to report. Stay tuned for next week's review:

Painted in a Corner
 by Autumn Dickinson


Monday, April 25, 2011

Tales Still Need Edits

Good morning fellow readers, writers & bloggers. I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter Holiday weekend filled with different cuts of pig, hard boiled eggs, and other assorted delicacies. I know I sure did. I consumed enough ham to cure my insides. The homemade strawberry cake was the closest I came to fruit all weekend (it did have strawberry puree in it). I'm beginning my week with a sugar/fat detox. 
Enough about my piggy eating habits. On to the topic of books, writing & other assorted randoms.

1. Tales of Aradia, The Last Witch. Book One
This gem came to my attention via another site. The author, L.A. Jones, posted a request for reviews, with a link to download the book for FREE on Smashwords. I jumped on it. We all know that when it comes to Elsie's (Egads, I'm relating to myself in third person?) favorite things Kindle & FREE reads get my heart pumping with excitement. Plus, the cover art was simply divine.We aren't supposed to judge books by their covers, but we all do, and in this case the cover made the download. It was good enough that I might have even paid for the book. Might. Let's not get crazy here.
The story is a YA tale. The bulk of it happens in Salem ( a little cliche for a book about a modern day witch, but in a clean Disney way). The main character, Aradia, is the last true witch. She has supernatural powers & no idea that she is a witch. She knows she's different, but has no idea how or why.
Her friends in Salem High are the usual characters: Vampires, Werewolves (therewolf! Sorry, couldn't resist), Fae, and other assorted 'hidden' elements that live happily alongside humans without any suspicion being cast. Sound a little Twilightesque? Yeah, it kinda is. But that is the least of it's problems.
The real issue with this book, is that it lacked editing. I mean, really lacked any & all editing.
The way the book was written, I felt like I was reading a book written by a someone the same age as Aradia. So much so, that I researched L.A. Jones to try and uncover her age (listed as 23).
I think young teen girls might really enjoy this book, but most adults won't be able to get through it due to the haphazard writing style.  Perhaps the first book is free and the second & third volume (at roughly $5.00 a pop) had a serious make over? I'm not willing to fork over cash to find out.
I give the book two stars...for the STORY.  One star for the lack of editing (no, it doesn't add up to three. it comes in at one and a half). I split it (which I NEVER do) because I think there is potential for a much better book if Ms. Jones gets a publisher & an editor. 
Again, if you have a twelve to fourteen year old girl moping around that likes Vampires, witches, magic & wolves, give it a shot. It's clean & Free...why not? Everybody else, skip it.

2. My Freelance Debut.
It isn't out yet, so I can't post a link.
Remember my snarky 'resume' I submitted to the publisher in London? They loved it! They gave me the opportunity to submit two editorial type pieces of work each month!!!! This is a HUGE milestone for me. 
It is the very first thing I can put on a real resume that give me some creds as a writer (dare I say journalist?).
I submitted my first piece last night. As soon as they post a link, believe me, I'll share.
The title?
"If Your Title Starts with 'A' (and you make it free) They Will Come."
Come on, you've got to admit, that's funny right? You love it. I just know it.

3. Nook On Sale
Last tidbit for your Monday enjoyment.
Most people have at least considered coming over to the dark side of eReaders. Deny it all you want. I know you've looked. If your tech budget is meager, and holding you back from that purchase, now is a great time to look at a nook.
Right now on OVERSTOCK.COM 
They are selling refurbished (but guaranteed to work for two years) nooks with basic wi-fi for $79.99. That is the cheapest yet. They also have great sales on other varieties of the nook (with built in 3G etc) and all the accessories you could imagine. All shipped for $2.95. So, if you need a sofa, check those out too. Might as well get your money worth.

Well, that's all I have for this dreary Chicago Monday. Enjoy your week. Get out, walk off that ham and if the sun should appear...sit in it & read a book (Because you never know when it will dip behind those clouds again).


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Deliver Me From This Book, My Daily Bread...

Book review day.

1.  Delivered with Love
This is tough. I'm tackling a piece of Christian fiction. Those of you that know me personally, know I have a few unresolved issues with organized religion. You should also know that as much as I can't stand elitism (which I feel most religious groups propagate under the umbrella of what 'God wants') I am a fair reviewer.
In other words, I won't prejudge a book by it's genre. Cross my heart & hope to have a fat slice of cherry pie, with whip cream, please. So, when I picked up Delivered With Love by Sherry Kyle last week for my kindle, I set aside any & all preconceived notions about the Christian fiction genre and stuck it at the top of my reading list.
I'm sad to report, the book did nothing for me.
The premise is that a young woman named Claire, who is in her early twenties & just lost her mother, is starting her life over. Sounds intriguing, right? It would be, if the plot had any real conflict. Everywhere this woman turns people love her, help her, & share with her the good word of the LORD. No matter what kind of a bind she's in, nobody gets mad. No matter how unscrupulous other characters might be, it's all solved in less than a day, thanks to a quick little prayer. And (ironically) the only time any of the characters step foot in a church is at the end...for a wedding. Hmmm.

I know it sounds as if I'm judging it for having a message from above, but I swear on a stack of Holy Bibles (and whatever other books you want to throw in there) I'm not. It just lacked pizazz. It also really lacked a plausible story line.

I will say this: If you are a Christian fiction fan and you have a twelve year old daughter...give it to her. Don't hesitate. It is exactly the 1950's type of romance you will want her to read. But, if you've ever had any real trials & tribulations, this book won't cut it. I give it two stars.  

2.   And now for something completely different...
I want to share another review with you. It isn't a book, but if you use it, it will change your life (and the shape of your derriere). I'm so happy & exhausted by this find that I'm mixing it up. Ready or not, here we go.
Her name strikes fear into the heart of couch potatoes across the globe. She is the host of a show called Thintervention, on the Bravo Network
Picture a really ripped Scarlett Johansen taking you through a very painful 30 minute workout and you get the idea. She's hot, she's tough, & her workout video Extreme Timesaver Training will knock you flat on your shrinking ass. It really delivers all that it promises. Cardio & strength in a thirty minute block. It takes your heart rate into an anaerobic zone, which in turn will raise your aerobic threshold (I used to be an aerobics instructor & a personal trainer so I can brandish those terms about with authority).

It's $12.99 on her site & less on Collage Video making it a steal of a deal no matter where you make the purchase. You will hate her now & love her later. Skip Jillian, go for Jackie. You won't regret it. 5+ stars!

That's it for now folks. I'll be back after the Easter holiday (provided God doesn't smote me for my two stars on the CF book).


Monday, April 18, 2011

I do care, really I do(and you should too)

Good morning fellow reader, writer, snarky bloggers. Welcome back. This week I find myself in the unusual position of writing not one, but two posts for your reading enjoyment. Why? Because it's Monday & I already have three things to post, plus another book review that will be ready later this week. Instead of cramming four things into one post, I decided to break them up. I want to give each story the attention it deserves (especially this one). Without further blathering, I'd like to get started here...

1. Please Say You Care.
In my reading repertoire, I have started to add short stories. Actually, I added one.  
Michele L. Montgomery, a writer from some great mountainous region of the United States, has written a YA short story that tackles the very dark issue of bullying of GLBT teens. I know that bullying exists across all stretches of adolescence; so I don't want comments back suggesting that this was written to exclude all the hetero kids that get bullied. This story deals with homosexuality and should be respected for its representation. In other words: read it for what it is, not what it isn't.
It isn't pretty. The story is raw. Filled with pain, sadness, and demoralizing behavior that exists in the pack mentality that humans are capable, but not proud, of. It has a message and a sliver of hope as well.

As a test I gave this to my seventeen year old son to read before I cracked the cover. He brought it back with tears in his eyes. I asked him what he thought of it. His comment was this: "It got me worried. I hope that I would be strong enough to fight off people that want to hurt someone like that."
I thought that was a pretty powerful statement. It also acted as a door opener to a conversation on what to do if you witness bullying. So, I say, kudos to you Ms. Montgomery. You have hit a nerve.

You Never Cared  is available now on Smashwords. It's FREE people! Be the change you want to see in the world. Get on it.

2. Submission Time
Yep. We're almost into May. Can you believe it? Waking up to a frost covered lawn sure does make it difficult. Regardless of the weather, May is just a few measly weeks away. You know what that means? 

Truthfully, I have one submission ready to go; but I need one more. Remember, if you submit you get an entire page on the ELSIE LOVE website for one month. I will post your story, your bio, and any other pertinent links. I also include a contact box so your devoted fans can send you a congratulatory email.
You have nothing to lose. Do it. You won't regret it, I swear.

3. A Resume To Remember
During one of the countless hours I spend on the web, I stumbled across an writing opportunity for a publishing house in the UK. Of course I believe myself to be a simply fabulous writer--but truth be told my credentials are a bit on the thin side. Not one to give up easily, I typed up a nice little letter & sent it out.
 It seemed like a good idea at the time. However...well...take a look for yourself.


I recently stumbled across an interview about XXXX at YYYYYY. After reading through, I found the section on inquiring on a voluntary writing position.

Let's just say, I'm very interested.

This would be the part where you would ask, "Well, where's your resume, darling?" And I would be forced to pad a very thin writing resume or just tell the truth (which really doesn't need a word template. It comes across much better in story format).

I am a writer. I didn't graduate with honors from anywhere, but feel an honorary degree for successfully raising five productive members of society while maintaining my sanity might be in order. I've contacted Harvard. So far, they remain mum (as do Stanford, Berkley, & Wesleyan); but I've never been one to give up easily. I'm considering a road trip in the fall to untangle the paperwork snafu.

I have two novels in print and a third to be released in May. After much stewing over a minimum wage job that brought me little to no joy, I decided to take the plunge, stay home and devote more time to my first love: writing.
I'm three weeks into this new adventure and itching for doors to open. 

I have been blogging on the Skirt! national site for close to a year and had one of my pieces picked up for publication in the Jacksonville Times newspaper last summer. To date, that is the only thing I can claim as an actual unsolicited request for my work. I also have a book review blog that gets little to no attention by the reading world--but it's new so, like a fine wine-- I'm giving it room to breathe. I've written countless short stories that have come home bruised, battered, and rejected. My current publisher has decided to give them a peek and see if they might work as a collection. My fourth (current) novel, Sixty pounds of Sh*t & Counting, is 30,000 words of smashing good fun that I hope to turn into 60,000 words by summer.

The best way to get a feel for me, my style, and what type of fun I might bring to XXXX, is to look at what I've already sent into the world. I'm including links to my work in the hopes that you might consider giving me a chance.

Elizabeth Loan
aka E.B. Loan, Elsie Love

P.S. I'm also an insomniac, which helps when you are a writer. I never miss a deadline.

What do you think? Nailed it, didn't I?


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Even the big dogs makes mistakes

I'm back! Photobucket heeded my warnings of having a total nuclear meltdown over site maintenance & got my blog back up to snuff. Good thing too. Nobody wants to see a woman in perimenopause freaking out on their doorstep. It just ain't pretty people.
I've decided to break my cardinal rule of not reading while I'm in the heat of yammering away at the keyboard for a new book. How do writers read & write at the same time? Very carefully. I believe that each book has it's own unique voice & as a writer I don't want any voice to influence my book unless it comes from the stage in my head. Because of this I read, then I write, then I read, then I....
You get the idea.
This plan worked. It kept the number of books I consumed to a bare bones minimum, which made having a book blog a bit of a challenge. And with my wonderful little Kindle calling to me, I decided to bend a little & see what happens. So far so good. This brings me to number one in this post:
  1. Bridge to Happiness, Jill Barnett
Ms. Barnett is a well seasoned author. With 13 novels & seven short stories in print, I was surprised to find her book, Bridge to Happiness, as a kindle freebie. But, on my search for something new, there it was. I downloaded and dove in.
Before I post my opinion of the story, I want to take a minute and talk about the quality of the piece. As a writer I am acutely aware that mistakes slip out. It is a fate worse than death (as a newbie) to get a copy of your baby & find glaring misprints: commas in the wrong place, quotations that are missing, misspellings, etc. As a nobody, you know that 99.9% of the people that read your material know you personally & are going to (with the attitude that they are doing you a favor) point each & every one out in triplicate. What they might not realize, is that you have already lost a week's sleep--per mistake.
Do you think the same holds true for a seasoned Walden Book Award winner? I only ask because this book had a whopping handful of them. The biggest issue was quotes that didn't quite get around the person speaking in the correct format. It was enough that I assumed that Ms. Barnett was just like the rest of us lower level mopes running around looking for our big break. I checked out her bio & publisher at the end and thought, Hmmmm, now that is interesting. Perhaps the book was free that week while Bell Bridge Books made corrections? Or maybe they are a lower level publishing house & the book I chose to read represents her earlier work? I really don't know. But it sure did make me feel better about me! On to the review...

It was a nice well written story. I really enjoyed it. Mostly romance, it is the story of March Cantrell, a wild lioness of a woman. It chronicles her life from her twenties through her sixties.
Part one of the book is written in third person. Very beautifully done. The language flowed and descriptions were so vivid--I loved it immediately. But hold on a sec, in part two the book switches to the first person view of March. Her children are grown, her husband just passed away in an untimely manner, and she is unraveling. Can you do that? I guess Jill Barnett can. 
It threw me for a bit. I didn't like the switch. I felt that the conversations between her & her children were a tad forced. Just when I was ready to throw it down & give up...March really loses it & the book becomes very engaging once again. I guess I'm just the kind of gal that can relate to a woman on the edge, drinking margaritas with her cackling hens until she passes out. LOL
Overall this was a nice little read. I give it four stars. I did find chunks of the work to be quite predictable, but it's a love story, that tends to happen. There were other parts that were a complete surprise. They made up for any cliches. (Why doesn't the little accent show up here?) 

The book is up to full price now. A whopping $8.99 (less than three fancy coffees at Caribou & easier on the hips). If anybody pays for it, would you please send me a note & let me know if the quotes were fixed? It's been driving me crazy...

  2. Let's celebrate!
I have two reasons to celebrate today. First, I now have twenty (yep I set the bar high) followers of my review blog! This might not sound like much, but I'll tell ya' blogger fans are tough to come by. Every single follower I earned through blood, sweat, & typing. Thanks you guys. I always say, when I'm rich & famous I'll have you all over for a sleep over at my beach house. So, if you have any friends you'd like to bring along, you best get them signed up as followers now. After fame comes, it too late!
Second, and last, I have reached a big milestone in my next book, Sixty Pounds of Sh*t & Counting. Late yesterday I hit the 60 page mark. That's a page for every pound! I think that deserves a little toast, don't you? Before you know it I'll be blogging about my recommitted search for an agent (and we all know how fun that bitch-fest is).
I love you guys. Each & every blood sucking, in it for your own promotion, one of you. Without my fans...I'm nothing.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Near disaster & light at the end of the tunnel

 1. The Black Screen of Death
I'm lucky to be posting. This week, for the first time in my computer owning history, I caught a virus. It was of the Trojan variety.
It was NASTY. Terrible. Awful. Horrible beyond words.Not your typical, don't worry your virus protection's got this all day long variety. This sucker embedded somewhere inaccessible and rendered my trusty laptop useless in five minutes of insertion (ohhhh sounds dirty). 
I got the black screen of death & immediately wanted to do unspeakable things to anyone stupid enough to tread within one hundred feet of my blistered emotional state.
Thank God my neighbor Russ Karlov is somewhat of a computer savant. He gave up his Tuesday night and part of his Wednesday tracking it down and removing it. I gave him a Groupon, which hardly seems a fair trade. He gives up six hours of his life that he'll never get back & in return he gets $30.00 worth of food & drinks at a local "upscale" tavern? I would have offered my firstborn, but that would actually have been a bigger punishment.
Thank God for techno geeks. Without them people would be jumping off high rises on a daily basis over lost emails.

2. It's Here! It's Here!
Yesterday while still in the throes of computer hell, I got the final draft of the cover for Confessions! Not only that, but I got a release date! Take a peek. I dare you to find fault. It is, by far, the best cover I've ever had & I am eternally grateful to my Aussie compadre Justin James for doing such a splendid job. Kisses babe ;)

I told you! Isn't it the greatest???? I've updated my Elsie Love site to include the cover and some other new tidbits. please stop by, click the like! button, & send a note to Robin Sitten, this month's author in the spotlight.
Confessions of a PTA Mafia Mom, will be released as an eBook in May, followed by the print version in early July. I will be doing a giveaway on Goodreads, as well as here, so stay tuned for that.

3. Dare Empire Media Lounge Chat

This Saturday, April 9th, Dare Media is launching their chat group, The Empire Lounge (see above video). It's a great opportunity for readers & writers alike to gather, talk to their favorite pubbed authors & generally just have a rip roaring good time. Guess who is slated for the first slot? Moi. Yep, that's right. At 10:00 A.M. (egads, I might have to set an alarm) US central time, I will be there. The question is...will you?
Until next time...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I've Been A Bad, Bad, Girl....(Sung to the tune by Fiona Apple)

Who took a week's vacation & didn't bring her trusty laptop? I did!
Instead of blogging, I hiked a little, ate (and drank) a lot, and finished A Scottish Ferry Tale, written by Ms. Nancy Volkers, whom I will be interviewing on May 8th. It was sinfully good. I regret nothing. My scale taunts me from the bathroom corner, daring me to step on,--but I'm no fool. I'm not tipping one tiny toe on there until at least mid-March! Now, on to business...
  1. Do You Fondue? 
      I do! (well, I used to) It's April people. A brand new month is upon us. You know what that means? It means....drum-roll please....time for another new short on Until my new release is released, I have dedicated TWO pages each month to writers brave enough to send me their musings. Last month I had two awesome entries. This month I only got one (where are you closet writers?); but don't despair. It. Is. Fabulous.
     Fondue Night, by Robin J Sitten, is an eye opening piece about family life around the table. Reminiscent of days past when women took the Ladies Home Journal to heart, it is sure to stir up some fond memories--or possibly leave you wondering what goes through people's heads when they gather to break bread.
     Available for one month only, Fondue Night, Is an Elsie Love exclusive--so mosey on over and read it before it's gone. Also, be sure to take a minute & send Robin a note. As a writer that devotes her time to providing media access to people with print disabilities, we think Robin deserves three cheers & a whole lotta positive reinforcement from the reading/writing community. Don't you agree?

     2. Mein Kampf Is Mein Crazy

      After spending a good chunk of the school year is eighth grade social studies working through the history of WWII, I decided to take on the challenge of Mein Kampf. Let's just say, it's been one crazy ride. I'm only 8% of the way through the book. I started it in early March, so it is either the longest book in the history of the world, or it's just the ramblings of a madman. Hmmm.
     I finally figured out why the first 7% of the story is so exquisitely random  That little bastard was making every attempt to prove himself a rational, extraordinarily intelligent, human. Peppered with bourgeois, inculcate, and several variations of the word countryal (which by the way, I can't find in any dictionary. I get the jist though)  is just plain weird.
     Then you get hit by the real Hitler. The one that slaughtered millions of people...remember that guy? He goes from building a case as to why he isn't anti-Semitic to describing the Jews as a filth of maggots that are destroying the earth in one page. Yikes. The highlights (where other Kindle readers have marked important passages) are really interesting as well. They seem to be an even split between Hitler lovers and the rest of the rational world. Double yikes.
     Enough of that negativity. Let's move on to something a tad nicer shall we?

     3. Happy Birthday My Artistic Little Friend!

     A Big shout out to my good friend & artist extraordinaire, Cheryl Rausch. I won't go into details about her age & age related complaints; but I will share her awesome art with you.
     Ms. Rausch is a photographer & illustrator of the highest caliber (if I do say so myself). She does amazing, lifelike portraits of animals, people, flowers, or whatever your fancy might be. She has donated thousands of dollars in work & woman time to animal rescues to help those poor babies find homes, & she can create book illustrations like nobody's business.  If you are looking for a unique gift idea--check out her work. There is no better way to surprise your mom for Mother's day than with a framed portrait of her grand kids--trust me!
     Happy Birthday to you, my friend. May the year bring you good health, great fortune, and many more happy returns!  

Until Next time....