Sunday, June 30, 2013


And the winners are...

BELLA ANDRE "Summer Of Love" BLOG TOUR - Maryellen
(Beach bag stuffed with summer essentials and a print copy of THE LOOK OF LOVE)

BLOG TOUR: Being Me by LISA RENÉE JONES - Tess "misshalim"
(a print copy of IF I WERE YOU  and a print copy of BEING ME)

Congratulations to the winners! To everyone else who's been so kind to stop by the blog and enter the contests, THANK YOU!!! You're all wonderful and I hope you'll stay tuned for more reviews and giveaways.


1 print copy of THE LOOK OF LOVE by BELLA ANDRE is still up for grabs!!! Read my review (here) and leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Live Chat With STEVE BERRY, Author Of THE KING'S DECEPTION (BookTrib - July 1, 2013 - 3 PM ET)

New York Times and #1 International Best Selling Author
'another Cotton Malone thrill ride'


Cotton Malone is back! Steve Berry’s new international adventure blends gripping contemporary political intrigue, Tudor treachery, and high-octane thrills into one riveting novel of suspense.

"Berry raises this genre's stakes" The New York Times

"Berry is a master at historical thrillers, arguably the most prolific one out there right now (yes, even better than Dan Brown)"  Las Vegas Review Journal

"Berry offers plenty of twists and vivid action scenes in a feast of historical imagination" Publishers Weekly

Check out this video BookTrib (July 1 at 3 pm ET to CHAT LIVE with Steve Berry and WIN FREE COPIES of The King's Deception.

Monday, June 24, 2013

International ThrillerFest VIII (July 10-13, 2013) Grand Hyatt - NYC + THE KING'S DECEPTION Excerpt

International ThrillerFest July 10-13

This year ThrillerMaster Anne Rice takes a bite of the Big Apple at ThrillerFest VIII July 10-13, 2013

Anne Rice
New York City is once again the setting for Gotham noir as the International Thriller Writers (ITW) brings ThrillerFest VIII to town from July 10-13, 2013 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel to celebrate the art of the thrill.
Spines are already tingling for the legendary Anne Rice, Queen of the Gothic Thriller, who will make a rare appearance to serve as the 2013 ThrillerMaster. Rice is the author of 31 novels, including The Vampire Chronicles, Songs of the Seraphim and the new Wolf Gift Chronicles (read my review of The Wolf Gift here).

“This is the place where fans can mingle with writers, novices can learn from pros, industry professionals can share their secret passion with librarians, and everyone can have one heck of a great time,” says ThrillerFest Executive Director Kimberley Howe.

New this year at ThrillerFest is FanFest, an opportunity for thriller writers to give back to their most loyal fans. These lucky readers will join such big-league talent as Joseph Finder, John Lescroart, M.J. Rose, Steve Berry and R.L. Stine, for a cocktail party that would impress even Nick and Nora Charles. The event will include a special kickoff book signing, gifts and a chance to mix and mingle with their favorite authors.

Spotlight guests, who will add to the pulse-pounding excitement, include:

·       Michael Connelly—Author of the number one New York Times bestsellers The Drop, The Fifth Witness, The Reversal, The Scarecrow, The Brass Verdict and The Lincoln Lawyer, as well as the Harry Bosch series. His most recent novel is The Black Box. A former newspaper reporter, Connelly has won numerous awards for his fiction.
·       T. Jefferson Parker—One of only three two-time winners of the prestigious Edgar Award for Best Novel, Parker is the bestselling author of 20 novels including L.A. Outlaws, Storm Runners, and the award-winning Silent Joe and California Girl. His most recent novel is The Famous and the Dead.
·       Michael Palmer—Famous for his bestselling medical and political suspense, Palmer’s most recent novel is was Political Suicide. His book, Extreme Measures, became a film starring Gene Hackman. A physician, Palmer helps doctors with physical and mental illness, as well as drug dependence and alcoholism.
·       Silver Bullet Award Recipient Steve Berry—The New York Times and
number one internationally bestselling author of The Jefferson Key, The Columbus Affair and soon-to-be-released The King’s Deception and nine more novels, Berry will be honored for his philanthropic work on behalf of fellow writers and historic preservation.
·       Corporate Silver Bullet Award Recipient USO—The USO will be honored for making Operation Thriller a reality. This past November marked the third USO Operation Thriller tour, which took Kathleen Antrim, Michael Connelly, Joseph Finder, Brad Meltzer, and Andy Harp to the Middle East to entertain the troops.

The thrills continue with two of ThrillerFest’s most anticipated events: CraftFest, where the best authors in the business share secrets with fellow writers, and AgentFest, “speed-dating” with the top agents in publishing.

T. Jefferson Parker
It all culminates with the 2013 ITW Thriller Awards Banquet, during which Steve Berry will receive the Silver Bullet Award and the awards for best novel; best debut novel and best short story will be finally revealed -- a riveting climax to a sensational event.

The International Thriller Writers is an honorary society of more than 1,300 authors in 22 countries with more than three billion books in print. To make a reservation for the suspense-inspired four-day adventure, please visit

Event highlights include:
  • ThrillerFest opens with a bang on Thursday night with a cocktail party hosting all authors, industry executives and conference attendees. Authors are open and accessible to chat with fans.
  • Anne Rice, the 2013 ThrillerMaster, will be interviewed by her son, Christopher Rice, during a spotlight session.
  • Author Daniel Palmer interviews his father, New York Times-bestselling novelist and ThrillerFest Spotlight guest Michael Palmer.
  • Bestselling novelist MJ Rose interviews international bestselling author Steve Berry and Liz Berry about their non-profit History Matters. Steve is the 2013 ITW Silver Bullet Award recipient.
  • A bestselling author of over 25 books, Jon Land interviews thriller-
    Steve Berry
    superstar and Spotlight guest Michael Connelly.
  • Award-winning author D.P. Lyle, MD interviews T. Jefferson Parker, Spotlight guest and two-time winner of the Edgar Award for Best Novel.
  • Aspiring writers get the chance to sharpen their prose and hone their agent pitch during CraftFest – a fabulous opportunity to learn from bestselling authors.
  • AgentFest allows writers the unprecedented opportunity to meet face-to-face with some of the top agents in the business. 

Excerpted from Chapter One of THE KING’S DECEPTION

By Steve Berry
Random House, June 11 2013

In a few minutes his favor for Stephanie Nelle would be over, then he and Gary would catch their connecting flight to Copenhagen and enjoy the week, depending of course on how many uncomfortable questions his son might want answered. The hitch was that
the Denmark flight departed not from Heathrow, but Gatwick, London’s other major airport, an hour’s ride east. Their departure time was several hours away, so it wasn’t a problem. He would just need to convert some dollars to pounds and hire a taxi.
They left Customs and claimed their luggage.
Both he and Gary had packed light.
“The police going to take me?” Ian asked.
“That’s what I’m told.”
“What will happen to him?” Gary asked.
He shrugged. “Hard to say.”
And it was. Especially with the CIA involved.
He shouldered his bag and led both boys out of the baggage area.
“Can I have my things?” Ian asked.
When Ian had been turned over to him in Atlanta, he’d been given a plastic bag that contained a Swiss Army knife with all the assorted attachments, a pewter necklace with a religious medal attached, a pocket Mace container, some silver shears, and two paperback books with their covers missing.
Ivanhoe and Le Morte D’Arthur.
Their brown edges were water-stained, the bindings veined with thick white creases. Both were thirty-plus-year-old printings. Stamped on the title page was any old books, with an address in Piccadilly Circus, London. He employed a similar branding of inventory, his simply announcing COTTON MALONE, BOOKSELLER, HØJBRO PLADS, COPENHAGEN. The items in the plastic bag all belonged to Ian, seized by Customs when they took him into custody at Miami International, after he’d tried to enter the country illegally.
 “That’s up to the police,” he said. “My orders are to hand you and the bag over to them.”
He’d stuffed the bundle inside his travel case, where it would stay until the police assumed custody. He half expected Ian to bolt, so he remained on guard. Ahead he spied two men, both in dark suits walking their way. The one on the right, short and stocky with auburn hair, introduced himself as Inspector Norse.
He extended a hand, which Malone shook.
“This is Inspector Devene. We’re with the Met. We were told you’d be accompanying the boy. We’re here to give you a lift to Gatwick and take charge of Master Dunne.”
“I appreciate the ride. Wasn’t looking forward to an expensive taxi.”
“Least we can do. Our car is just outside. One of the privileges of being the police is we can park where we want.”
The man threw Malone a grin.
They started for the exit.
Malone noticed Inspector Devene take up a position behind Ian. Smart move, he thought.
“You responsible for getting him into the country with no passport?”
Norse nodded. “We are, along with some others working with us. I think you know about them.”
That he did.
They stepped out of the terminal into brisk morning air. A bank of dense clouds tinted the sky a depressing shade of pewter. A blue Mercedes sedan sat by the curb. Norse opened the rear door and motioned for Gary to climb in fi rst, then Ian and Malone. The inspector stood outside until they were all in, then closed the door. Norse rode in the front passenger seat, while Devene drove. They sped out of Heathrow and found the M4 motorway. Malone knew the route, London a familiar locale. Years ago he’d spent time in England on assignments. He’d also been detached here for a year by the navy. Traffi c progressively thickened as they made their way east toward the city.
“Would it be all right if we made one stop before we head for Gatwick?” Norse asked him.
 “No problem. We have time before the plane leaves. The least we can do for a free ride.”
Malone watched Ian as the boy gazed out the window. He couldn’t help but wonder what would happen to him. Stephanie’s assessment had not been a good one. A street kid, no family, completely on his own. Unlike Gary, who was dark-haired with a swarthy complexion, Ian was blond and fair-skinned. He seemed like a good kid, though. Just dealt a bad hand. But at least he was young, and youth offered chances, and chances led to possibilities. Such a contrast with Gary, who lived a more conventional, secure life. The thought of Gary on the streets, loose, with no one, tore at his heart. Warm air blasted the car’s interior and the engine droned as they chugged through traffic.
Malone’s eyes surrendered to jet lag.
When he woke, he glanced at his watch and realized he’d been out about fifteen minutes. He willed himself to alertness. Gary and Ian were still sitting quietly. The sky had darkened further. A storm was approaching the city. He studied the car’s interior, noticing for the first time no radio or communications equipment. Also, the carpets
were immaculate, the upholstery in pristine condition. Certainly not like any police car he’d ever ridden in.
He then examined Norse.
The man’s brown hair was cut below the ears. Not shaggy, but thick. He was clean-shaven and a bit overweight. He was dressed appropriately, suit and tie, but it was the left earlobe that drew hisattention. Pierced. No earring was present, but the puncture was clear.
“I was wondering, Inspector. Might I see your identification? I should have asked at the airport.”
Norse did not answer him. The question aroused Ian’s attention, and he studied Malone with a curious look.
“Did you hear me, Norse? I’d like to see your identification.”
“Just enjoy the ride, Malone.”
He didn’t like the curt tone so he reached for the front seat and pulled himself forward, intending to make his point clearer.
The barrel of a gun came around the headrest and greeted him.
“This enough identification?” Norse asked.
“Actually, I was hoping for a picture ID.” He motioned to the weapon. “When did the Metropolitan Police start issuing Glocks?”

Excerpted from THE KING’S DECEPTION Copyright © 2013 Steve Berry. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

THE LOOK OF LOVE (The Sullivans #1) by Bella Andre: Review + GIVEAWAY

Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 28, 2013 by Harlequin MIRA
Genre: contemporary romance novel, chick lit, women's fiction, adult fiction
Rating: 5 stars 

It was in those moments, when everyone was cold and nothing was going "right", that magic would happen.

And 'magic' really happened for romance writer Bella Andre when she went from being dropped by her former publisher because her stories failed to sell, to becoming a New York Times and USA Today insanely popular/best-selling author, as an independent first and, recently, as a traditionally published novelist. With 1.5 million books sold and a groundbreaking seven-figure, print-only deal with Harlequin Mira, Bella's sensational author bio is a romantic fairy-tale in itself. Are you amazed yet? If you decide to pick up The Sullivan series, starting from its delicious first installment (The Look Of Love), the reasons of such a stellar success will become immediately clear. With a storyline absolutely poignant in its simplicity, a male lead as outrageously alpha as charmingly sweet and protective, a 'wounded' female protagonist with a strong core and a vulnerable heart, you will be reminded of all the reasons why you love reading contemporary romance novels.

For those readers who haven't had the chance to try this author before, but are familiar with some of the most illustrious names in this genre, Bella's voice will easily resonate with you and will bring to mind Lisa Kleypas' contemporary sagas (Andre's male heroes remind me of the Travis brothers from the Travises series or the Nolans from the Friday Harbor series): in The Look Of Love you will be introduced to the Sullivans' heartwarming family dynamics, an intensity of feelings and emotional connection that will squeeze your heart, a flourish of sizzling and tasteful love scenes that will turn the summer heat a couple of notches up, a female lead so endearing in her imperfections and a gorgeous, honorable knight in shining armor that will knock your socks off with his sweet charm and relentless seduction. The storyline, evolving mainly around the protagonists' struggles to win each other's heart in spite of past traumas and emotional wounds, delivers a punch of action right at the end, adding a gratifying plot twist to the pervading  romantic chemistry.

For years Chase Sullivan has been trying to capture the essence of feminine  beauty in his photo shoots, but it will be during a stormy night on his way from San Francisco to his brother's Napa Valley winery, that a life-changing encounter will show the professional photographer what the soul of beauty and true love look like. Chloe Peterson is stranded on a narrow country road, miserable, desperate and drenched to the bone. Her car is stuck in a muddy ditch, her cheeck is awefully bruised, and the weather too nasty to refuse Chase's offer to drive her to a safer place. But it's her heart that needs to be rescued the most - rescued from the damages caused by an abusive relationship, rescued from her own fears of being herself, unconventionallly beautiful, innately sensual and creative Chloe. Her ex-husband has left the mark of his violent personality on her face and an even deeper scar in her self-confidence, but real beauty has a way to shine through the emotional lense of a camera and breach through even the most guarded of hearts. My verdict: LOVELY!

*Review copy graciously offered by the publicist in return of an unbiased and honest opinion


A print copy of THE LOOK OF LOVE is up for grabs!!! Follow my blog, leave a comment (and e-mail address), let me hear what love looks like for you, for a chance to win. Contest open to US/Canada residents.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Author Spotlight + Excerpt: COLORADO MANDALA by Brian Heffron

Author: Brian Francis Heffron
Paperback, 254 pages
Published May 2, 2013 by Little House Books
Genre: literary, historical fiction, '70s, drama, military, Viet Nam, PTSD
Goodreads Rating: 4.91 stars

"Colorado Mandala is a fabulous tale of love, honor, friendship and the psychological morass of Viet Nam Vets; their private codes, their impenetrable camaraderie." - Stefanie Stolinsky, Ph.D.

About the book 
In the heady, hippie backdrop of Pike’s Peak, Colorado, in the tumultuous 1970s, three souls swirl together in an explosive supernova. Michael is the flinty-eyed, volatile former Green Beret, whose tour in Vietnam has left unbridgeable chasms in his psyche and secrets that can never find light. Sarah is his fair-haired paramour, the ethereal Earth Mother widow of a fallen soldier and single mother to a ten-year-old son Stuart. Paul is a young wanderer, who is drawn in by Michael and soon bears the mantle of both minister and scourge. As they are drawn together, and torn apart, each is changed forever. (Goodreads)

About Brian 
Author Brian Francis Heffron, 56, is a poet and former writer, director and producer at PBS/KLCS-TV Station in Los Angeles.  Mr. Heffron has won 12 Telly Awards, two Emmys, two VideoGrapher Awards and a Davis Award.  He has a BFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College.
Preface to Colorado Mandala by Brian Francis Heffron

"finding in motion what was once in place"

I was twelve, I first stuck my thumb out to hitchhike long distance. A yellow Pontiac Bonneville driven by a young Italian girl pulled over onto the dusty shoulder of the Garden State Parkway entrance ramp and I got in. I mention her ethnicity because at that time the Irish and the Italians were like two sides in an ongoing hockey game with lots of checking. I did not really understand this feud other than that as two tribes not yet merged in the American melting pot, they were engaged in a struggle for resources, jobs, opportunities, and that golden fleece: a solid economic future. Then we hippies came along and rejected all that. Things have never been the same since.

Forever after that first free ride, I could almost never be dissuaded from hitchhiking to any destination that had a highway, or any paved road, leading to it. Seventy dollars was my cash threshold to have on hand to set off on a long hitchhiking journey. With seventy dollars in my pocket in Boston, I could be in the Florida Keys for every spring break, or the Colorado Rockies as spring turned to summer, both within a few days to a week—a week living outdoors in an exterior America. Where a pickup truck bed is a double bed. Where your last ride often offers you a meal and a real bed for the night. A life lived out of doors was once commonplace in America, but now the wild places are occupied mostly by raccoons, possums and squirrels. Twenty to forty rides later I would arrive at my destination not having spent a cent.

So America’s highways held no mystery for me. Their easily understood systems of routes, urban loops, city bypasses and best of all, major cloverleafs, were my friends, even more than they were for the mere drivers who also used them. No driver was ever forced to stop periodically, when a ride ended, to examine the land through which they were passing. Hitchhiking is moving in unplanned and unknown duration hiccups. Hopping like a pogo stick in one general direction until you narrow it down to where you actually want to land. The citizens in the cars that picked me up were very nice to me all over our country, so I went wherever I wanted.

The truth is, I love the hulking cement “Jersey barriers” streaming alongside the fast lane, just inches from the rear view mirror, and separating all of us from the on-coming traffic. They are not eyesores to me. They are part of my human infrastructure, my transportation psyche.
At night, along the highway, I love the dirty-brown light from the cheap sodium vapor lamps cantilevered out over the roadway from giant spindle-like aluminum poles.
I love to examine the pointed advice of previous hitchhikers who have carved their thoughts into the gray metal bases of these lights: "This place sucks for hitchin’!" "No rides for four hours! The Rambler USA72!" "Good luck getting out of here, Oct 1976 Bicentennial!" I love the generic green destination signs that hang out over the highway every few miles. A new universal visual language: "Grand Ave One Mile." I adore the cold empty concrete, the cowboy boots and engine-running gas fumes at any decent truck stop in the absolutely dead black middle of the night.
This connection to highways, and journeys on them, may be because I was born the summer Congress passed the Federal Highway Act. I came in with the highways and have actually grown up on them; my New Jersey suburb had a major national highway route running right alongside its border. This meant that total geographic, continental freedom was only one bold, usually cold, thumb ride away.
And so, I’d bundle up, stuff a small pack with an extra T-shirt and jeans and go off into the darkness, hitchhiking out into the enormous bloodstream of 41,000 mapped miles that run all over America. Except for the annual Route 95 south hitch to Florida, for the sun, I focused mostly on the coast- to-coast, east/west highways draped across America’s chest like a diverse array of chains and necklaces. The dark slushy snow of industrial Route 80 at the top, the rustic Route 40 bisecting the country along the old the Mason-Dixon line, and the sweaty Route 10 loping through the American tropics of the deep south.
America’s highways granted me access to our entire country via a long entrance ramp that started right at the edge of my own hometown. Aladdin’s carpet was waiting at the end of that black macadam ramp: all I had to do was stick out my thumb and I was off.
I admitted to the world that I needed a ride. I admitted I wanted to travel for free. I admitted I was going on an adventure. And I’ll tell you, the world responded. Everyone likes to see another person on an adventure. They wish they were so bold so they admire you. Many people stopped to pick me up. I never waited anywhere for very long.  
Exit 172 on the New Jersey Garden State Parkway was my portal to the innards of America. Within a few years, via hitchhiking, almost every remote mountain range, coastal peninsula or midwestern flatland became a destination for me.
I took moonshine with a grizzled hillbilly farmer in Georgia who teased me about my hair, but then drove me twenty miles out of his way to get me back on track. I met breathtakingly beautiful girls camping wild in the Florida Keys with their kitchen utensils delicately suspended in the crooks and branches of a flamboyantly red Royal Poinciana. I met single moms fleeing unhappy homes: Alice had started to not want to stay home anymore.
Hitchhiking was probably scarier for the drivers giving me rides than it ever was for me. In all the thousands of rides I got I never once felt any true sense of threat, fear or danger. A few times, in my naiveté, I got into cars that I later realized I was lucky to get back out of. But mostly it was safe, cheap and fun.
If the driver sounded crazy, then the crazier I pitched my act. No matter how bizarre they became, I always went a bit further. Met nonsense with gibberish. Met psychosis with agitation. Treat crazy people with true respect on their own level and you’ll soon make a friend. (But I would stay away from taking a ride in any vehicle once, or presently owned, by a funeral parlor—just a rule of thumb based on one late night ride through a nor’easter in Maine.)
I should say that, right from the start, I never felt any obligation to tell the truth to anyone who picked me up hitchhiking. Each new ride and new car was a new audience and got a new fable about who I was and where I was going. I simply thought that telling the truth to someone who had gone to the trouble of pulling off the highway to pick me up would be a great disservice to that person and would really let them down. These tired and weary drivers wanted and deserved a lively story from me. They were not on an adventure and I was, and it was time to pay for my ticket.
So, for each new ride, I invented a fresh, Paul Bunyan-sized fable about myself and my dire circumstances, troubled past, urgent mission, pursuit by parents (or worse), and so forth. I told them stories that popped their eyes right out of their bourgeoisie heads. I happened to be a very well-trained fibber at the time, and they needed a good story while they drove, so I was really only holding up my end of the bargain.
Out there in the middle of this enormous country of ours soldiers almost always picked you up. When you are stuck in Nowhereville, Indiana on Route 70 it is a lock that if some young man or woman serving our country passes you they will pull over their (invariably) American muscle car to give you a ride—or a drive, really, because they always immediately slid over into the passenger seat, having judged me capable of handling their huge, overblown, over-horse-powered product of Detroit. This was true when I roved America’s national boulevards, and it’s still true today. American military personnel simply always pick up hitchhikers. Why? Because they have only a few days’ leave and it is a long way between their base and their hometown. And so they always want to cover that distance as quickly as is combustion-enginely-possible and hitchhikers who can drive facilitate this speedy process. After they pick you up, these soldiers almost immediately fall deeply asleep, so it is important to identify their ultimate destination before they are overcome with an unwakeable slumber.
I once met a soldier very much like the character Michael Boyd Atman, whom you are about to meet within the pages of this book, when he picked me up hitchhiking on Route 70 in Kansas in the seventies. If this is of any use to you, imagine that Paul, the narrator of this story, actually hitchhiked into our tale by meeting Michael in just this manner, as a hitchhiker thumbing a ride somewhere in the high desert of Route 70 in Kansas or eastern Colorado, heading straight for that bright line of snow-dusted mountains that splits our country from top to bottom like a spine: the Rockies. That mystical meeting between our characters would have had to occur long before our tale begins, when they have already become blood brothers.


This book is about the crazy, glorious and romantic notion that every generation conceives anew: that love can be a spiritual gift shared openly among all who feel it, not coveted, or hidden, or hoarded. Each new generation gradually learns how real life involves loyalty and jealousy, sexual fidelity, and the intimacy that can only grow up between two people.
Each new generation learns that love, in its purest and most universal form, can be shared among more than just two people and that therefore we can, and should, all simply love each other unhindered in the here and now.
The story is my own. The characters are my own as well. Both the plot and the people lived once in a time of tenderness, rebellious music, and long hair that was quite different from our times now.
But do not worry, I will not go on and on about how great it was back then. I will simply say, knowing you as I do, dear reader, that you might very well have enjoyed living back then. Yes. I feel certain that you would have liked it very much.

Brian Francis Heffron
March 1, 2013