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Rock Hard: Chord Brothers

Rock Hard: Chord Brothers, Book 1 by [Roberts, Mariah J., Roberts, M. J. ]

Ryder is the drummer in a popular band along with his best friend and his bestie’s hot sister, Lexi, and a few other colorful members. I love this great cast of characters. The dynamic among the group is unique yet believable. I’ve never been in a band but it seems like a realistic portrayal of life as a band on the road.

The action in the story starts when Ryder and Lexi break the number one rule of band membership… do not hook-up with anyone in the band. Ryder is doubly nervous because she is also his best friend’s sister!

This story starts with some excellent sexual tension that builds slowly and enticingly! The reader has to wait patiently for the first physical experience between the two. The author does a fantastic job with erotic descriptions. The sex scenes are lusty but not trashy. The strength of desire between the two is palpable. I do admire Ryder’s dedication to making sure Lexi was sufficiently satisfied! He even does research!

We also learn about deep pain and loss in our characters’ lives. The author weaves in nicely these back stories that then helps explain these characters’ drives and motivations.

This is a great book about relationships, love, loss and the power and importance of human connection. There is a good amount of erotic scenes however the author sets the tone as romantic and loving, never vulgar. I love the modern music and movie references. It gave it a very up-to-date and realistic feel. I Also loved the inside look at life on the road in a band.

The writing is fluid and easy to read without feeling juvenile. There are some great moments of humor but also real moments of pain and struggle. There were some points I wanted more action or was waiting for something to happen but overall I was engaged throughout.

This is a fun and sexy read for anyone looking for something quick and enjoyable with great characters and a romantic and interesting story line.

Pages: 399 | ASIN: B07MDHXT8C

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The Odds of Gods

THE ODDS OF GODS: Why Christians Should Not Tell Lies by [Campbell, Rush O. C. ]

The author of “The Odds of Gods: Why Christians Should Never Tell Lies”, Rush O.C. Campbell, starts out his narrative in a no-nonsense manner that is as efficient as it is descriptive. We get to know the characters that are important to the story, one by one, and in much detail, through a semi-predictable pattern. In fact, by the 20th character description, it begins to feel a little more like a character reference guide meant to be referred to later as you are reading through the story. Once the character descriptions are finished, however, the reader is in for a nice surprise.

The style of writing employed in this book is perfect for anyone who loves theater and film. Instead of building up atmosphere and nuances for the reader through sensory connections and context clues, the setting, room descriptions, facial expressions, tone of voice, direction of speech, and pretty much every other useful bit of information is conveniently laid out for the reader to see. The writing actually feels a bit more like a screenplay than a novel, and there are a lot of readers who will certainly appreciate the tact and skill employed by the author.

An interesting aspect of the book is that Campbell is writing about real people, in the real world. There is very much a sense of realism and humanity in the conversations that take place, and the based-on-true-events story invites readers into the world of the author.

The reader follows Rashman, a Jamaican-English man, and several other characters through a series of conversations relating to the common perception of Christianity and how things might not be quite as simple as many make them out to be. In fact, the book is intended to pave the way to a renewed process of thought towards the Bible and is full of notions meant to bring believers the salvation they so fully crave. The story is interesting, takes many twists and turns, and the character relationships and interactions are rich and engaging. Rashman is a man sure about his beliefs and following him through this story is certainly unique and thought-provoking at the same time.

To rate “The Odds of Gods: Why Christians Should Never Tell Lies,” by Rush O.C. Campbell, one would have to consider the content. The book is definitely entertaining and immersive. The subject matter is certainly for a very specific audience, however, and the subject matter is nothing short of heavy. If you are a follower of the Christian faith and feel yourself prepared to challenge your current perceptions of how well you are following the teachings of the Bible, this book is definitely for you.

Pages: 288 | ASIN: B07NB13JLT

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Painted by Words

Painted by Words is a gorgeously written life story of a small-town girl who goes through many ups and downs, all while keeping a positive outlook on life. I enjoyed this book for the simple fact that I could relate to it, and it was so easy to read. I felt like I was completely immersed in this book, from the beginning to the very end. It was like I was living her life with her. Every chapter detailed a different event in the author’s life, one that was either triumphant or beautiful. All the while, you learn more and more about the author. If you’re looking for a book to while away the hours, then this is definitely the one that you’re going to want to read. Not only does it give you a bit of nostalgia, as the author explains her life as a little girl, but it will bring up memories of your own past mistakes, which can be therapeutic in a way. I believe this is the authors first book, at least her first published work, and it really stands out to me. I liked how intimate she was on every page, the fact that she wasn’t afraid to tell her truth. She didn’t hold back on any account of her memories. Another thing that sets this book apart from so many memoirs that I have read recently, is that the author writes as if she is talking to a friend. It made reading it that much more enjoyable.

There’s nothing better than curling up on a snowy winter day, knowing that you get to sit back and read about someone else’s life. There are so many different stories and lessons to learn from this book. The only thing that I will say is that I wish there was more to read! But I guess she has to live her life first. If she decides to write more books, I will be the first one in line to get them! Thank you for telling us your story.

Pages: 482 | ASIN: B07945T7KB

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Mylee in the Mirror

Mylee in the Mirror (Greek Mythology Fantasy Series Book 2) by [Collins, Ellie]

Mylee is experiencing one of the most trying times in her young life. Not only is she watching solemnly as her parents’ marriage hits its rockiest stretch to date, she is unable to convince her mother that she is happier and more productive not being a cheerleader. To top it off, Mylee should be having the time of her life as she seems to have caught the eye of the school’s most desired boy–real homecoming king material. Mylee just can’t seem to catch a break. When her beloved Grammy, her confidante, moves into a new apartment farther from Mylee’s home, the struggle becomes even more real.

Ellie Collins’s second book in her Greek mythology series, Mylee in the Mirror, is a fantastic follow up to her first, Daisy Bold and Beautiful. This young adult fiction series is shaping up to be an artfully designed set of books with well-developed characters and engrossing plot lines. Collins is a master at incorporating current teen culture and dialogue. Her writing flows smoothly, and her characters seems to jump off the page–especially her main characters. Mylee and Ty are an adorable pair and their friendship leaves the reader rooting for them from their very first interaction. Collins seems to have a knack for drawing a thoroughly detestable antagonist. Sam is clearly sketched as the villain, and the dialogue she has given him keeps readers focused on exactly how wonderful Ty is for Mylee–writing perfection.

Collins manages to tap into complex relationships quite easily whether it be the parent-child relationship or the ever-evolving relationships between teen friends. She pinpoints the drama that so easily arises between girls over potential love interests while at the same time highlighting how easily true friends are able to see the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

I am, again, intrigued by Collin’s use of Greek mythology in her plots. She pulls the story of her grandmother’s mirror and the tale of Aphrodite almost effortlessly into what, otherwise, reads as young adult fiction. The fact that Mylee is able to keep her experiences to herself and use what she learns from her encounters with the mirror is a truly unique approach in this genre.

Collins is an author to be watched in the coming years. The ease with which the words flow from her mind to the paper is to be envied indeed. Her writing is phenomenally engaging, and I look forward to seeing more from her series in the future. I highly recommend her writing to any parent of young teens looking to engage their children in well-written and timely books.

Pages: 180 | ASIN: B07JZKV317

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Leather Horizons – Trailer

Misty Briscoe is ready to gracefully bow out of her successful career and bow in to an uncertain future. But her choices may result in a turning, twisting leap of faith.

Strength is one thing, courage another. Just ask Misty Briscoe. Her dignity has taken a beating the last couple of month’s She’d found herself at a crossroads of staying put in her career or returning home where her family needs her.

If only the choice wasn’t so complex.

Her workplace predicament with her married boss and her successful job in Chicago are anything but stress free. Yet, back home in southwestern Michigan, her beloved grandmother has recently passed, and now her grandfather has disappeared. Add to that, Misty’s best friend needs her support in the most unlikely of circumstances.

In the end, will she remain in the big city where she’s worked hard to attain a career or give it up and begin again at home where she has a sense of belonging?

From the spectrum of executive boardrooms to shadowy blue collar bars, secluded beaches, and dense woods, follow Misty on her challenging journey to find peace of mind, contentment, and a place among loved ones.

The saga takes a hard look at life from the classified agendas of friends, lovers, families, and enemies to the ultimatums behind closed doors. Come along for the ride through the avenues of indiscretion, loneliness, hope, secrets, courage, love, deceit, and integrity into LEATHER HORIZONS.

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Ain’t No Messiah

Ain't No Messiah: A Novel (Tales of the Blessed and Broken Book 1) by [Tullius, Mark]

Ain’t No Messiah by Mark Tullius is a dark and intriguing novel about the life of Joshua Campbell. Set in the United States, it’s a tale of his life, from birth to adulthood. Significant family members such as his mother, father and brother walk some of his journey with him as well as childhood friends that reappear in early adulthood. Estranged family members are in his mind all the while and readers meet them briefly as he tries to connect with them.

Having almost died at birth, Joshua’s father labelled him the messiah. His father continues to use this label throughout Joshua’s unusual life; citing near death experiences as miracles. His father publishes books about him and fashions a new church and business on the miracles of the messiah. Despite calling him the messiah, he  verbally and emotionally abuses and neglects him on a regular basis. Joshua consistently refuses to believe he is the messiah and begins to rebel against his father’s rules. Eventually, at 17 he decides to run away, and experiences the world in a new light, but finds he still can’t shake the title of Messiah.

As the story progresses it is unclear whether he seeks out trouble, or trouble seeks him out, and this grey area is what kept me engaged throughout the story. Joshua is dragged into a world of sex and drugs, but he still has to run from his label as the messiah and his tyrannical father. As Joshua is pulled deeper into this world it becomes unclear who he can trust and things turn into a life and death situation. This reminded me of how Stephen King sets up his stories to deliver poignant ideas through simple prose.

Ain’t No Messiah kept me engrossed until the very end. As I read I kept questioning whether Joshua would break free forever from his father, or if he would be tempted by the life of fame and comparative comfort? At times I questioned his life choices and whether he could trust the people he aligned with. The main characters were well developed and believable. However, I felt there were far too many minor characters in the story that kept entering and disappearing. At times it became difficult to keep track of who was who. This detracted from the overall story as I had to pause and try to remember who the character was and why they were important to the story. The transition between flashbacks to past events and present day were clear at the start of the book, however near the end they became less clear which also distracted from the overall continuity. Overall this is an interesting and well written book that delivers a thought provoking message by putting a fascinating character in evocative situations that beg one to reflect on the choices we all make in life.

Pages: 326 | ASIN: B07KCQ8P17

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Working in Times Square

Thomas Duffy Author Interview

Thomas Duffy Author Interview

Stockboy follows Phillip as he struggles to achieve things beyond his mundane life. What were some driving ideals behind this story and how did it change while writing?

The book was essentially written based on my professional and personal experiences. I originally wanted it to be an honest autobiography but I couldn’t resist some key changes in the plot about a quarter through and made it a work of fiction instead. I wanted the story to show some key components of the problematic quest to achieve the American Dream. If you’ve ever seen the 1999 Albert Brooks comedy movie, The Muse, I took a lot of inspiration from that film in finding the comedy in the disappointment found in everyday life.

You’re able to capture the emotions of life as an average person and have them resonate with readers. What is your writing process like?

My writing process consists of starting off with something real and taking it and spinning it in a fictional direction. I’ll start writing about a real life experience and transform it after a few sentences into something fictional. This was originally a serious book but I took my cue from Albert Brooks’ film that people like to laugh too, and mixed some comedy in for good measure. I think there are some great moments of original humor in Stockboy. I like all the film and literary references I put in the book.

This story is ‘for anyone who has ever worked retail’. I feel that working retail gives one a general sense of people and society (good and bad). Have you worked in retail before?

Yes. For many years I worked in retail. Only these past few years have I been out of the industry. Working in the industry with people from all walks of life is a great experience but it comes with its fair share of drawbacks. People don’t want to see you succeed, sometimes, for whatever reason. Especially when you start at the bottom. When I was working in Times Square in retail, there was a supervisor who just wouldn’t let me advance, again for whatever reason. I had the credentials I needed to move up. Again, I don’t like to be negative but in certain jobs, people only like to see others get but so far. I think this book is positive though, overall, and a fun and serious read at the same time. What do I know about everyone else’s experiences in retail? Not much. This story is just drawn from my own personal experiences.

What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?

It’s something completely different! A “truly moving book” but like some famous writers and directors, I like to keep the plot top secret until it’s released or about to be released. It will be out early next year at this point. I want to enjoy the holiday season.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Stockboy by [Duffy, Thomas]Stockboy features the story of Phillip, a single 30-something retail employee, who is trying to rise above the job for which he was hired in a large Times Square theme store. While waiting for a big break, he works hard and, in the interim, falls in love with a woman who comes to believe he actually works as a teacher. While confronting different elements in his job and personal life, he finds himself struggling to stay afloat in his effort to find romance and financial success. This is a story for anyone who has ever worked in retail and yearned to rise up in order to achieve happiness.

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Stockboy

Stockboy by [Duffy, Thomas]

Stockboy by Thomas Duffy is the story of Phillip, a man who is in his dead-end job. Stuck with no relationship. Stuck in his mundane life. Phillip is a good guy. He is smart. He has a degree. He has an excellent work ethic. However, he feels like he is only spinning his wheels and wasting his time on a life that is going nowhere. He feels his life ticking away while waiting for his love life to work out, his bosses to see his potential, and fulfillment to come his way.

Phillip is such a relatable character. He is sort of an “everyman” underdog. Everyone has felt unfulfilled at some point in his or her life. Readers will definitely identify with this character. He is the typical good guy who finishes last. He’s smart and capable and a great worker. He also gets passed over time and time again for promotions or wage increases at his bookstore job. When he does find a woman he loves, his life tailspins in that area as well. He can’t catch a break. As my grandfather would have said, “If it’s not one thing, it’s the same thing.” Phillip lives a “Groundhog Day” sort of life on his cyclical hamster wheel of a life.

The themes in the story fit right into our current social climate. Wages are stagnant. Growth is slow. College students owe student loans they can’t pay while working jobs below their qualifications. People can’t go to the doctor because they can’t afford insurance. When they do get insurance, they are still scared to go to the doctor for fear that the condition will be worse than they expect. People are living paycheck-to-paycheck. Opportunities for a better life are few and far between. People still manage to get up, put their torn sneakers on, and go back to the grind everyday. This is Phillip. He personifies a big chunk of the American workforce, and likely those abroad.

The writing is great. It is simple and direct without being boring. It doesn’t feel pompous or overbearing. Thomas Duffy is a good author that way. He reels you into his stories and his characters in a way that doesn’t leave you feeling he’s attempting to make up for content with flowery language. The content is there, so he doesn’t have to put on airs. I saw one or two simple typos. Beyond that, the spelling, sentence structure, etc. are great. This was an easy read. The book is easily digestible and could be knocked out in a weekend. Duffy books are always page-turners for me.

Other than a few minor errors the writing is solid, the characters are relatable and the situations they find themselves in will hit close to home for many readers. I like this writer’s style and have read his work before. He delivered again and didn’t disappoint. I’d love to read more of his work.

Pages: 200 | ASIN: B00CA517C8

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Sombristic

Sombristic by [Sebastian, S.A.]

Sombristic, written by S.A. Sebastian follows a close group of culturally diverse friends who are all at different points in their lives and relationships – some are married and some are just trying to figure things out. But, they are joined by the bonds of friendship that keep them grounded in their search for the right person. The title, a word seemingly coined by the author, means to be optimistic in the face of romantic sadness. This being said at the beginning gives the text a positive opening tone – it makes you think that the characters are going to try and be optimistic even when the going gets tough, and hopefully things will work out for all of them.

There’s also a brief but helpful character list at the beginning of the text as the story dives into the deep end in an active scene between a father, son, and friends – so it helps to know who’s who. The list was particularly useful as there is little introductory context, which was initially a little difficult, but the characters come into focus as you continue reading.

This book is written in the form of a play, or a conversation-based work, the text is mostly dialogue and is written in a relaxed style, reflective of each character’s accent with each one being subtly different. The ‘acts’ are usually short, and they jump between different situations and have time lapses throughout, so it can be hard to keep up with all of the different goings on. However, the easy to read style helps the reader stay immersed when they come back around to a previously mentioned character.

The conversations between the characters, when split into male and female groups are very typical of the gender ideals. The men discuss sports and their level of sexual activity and the women discuss clothes and relationship gossip. Although this might be reflective of the groups general stereotypes, I though it made them one dimensional. I wanted to see the characters interested in things other than the overall theme of the book.

I thought that the story was a little hard to follow, as it moved from scene to scene so quickly, despite the relaxed and attractive writing style that kept me engaged with interesting writing. The book incorporates long descriptive passages that are interesting and well written, suggesting that the script would perhaps be more engaging if rewritten as a novel rather than a play.

What the text does do very well is highlight the varied types of relationships and dating that exist in modern society, and explores how hard these can be to navigate. There is also some pretty funny references in this book that made me laugh!

ASIN: B07DW4J71W

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Pretty Dolls and Hand Grenades

Pretty Dolls and Hand Grenades by [Reinard, Cara]

Cara Reinard’s novel is an engaging story that gives readers a literary take on the popular genre of shows called the ‘The Real Housewives Of (enter your city of choice here)’ It tells the story of Cece and her family – her cheating rat of a husband and their children Camdyn and Josie. Very much modeled on the idea of the ‘American dream’, it lets the reader in on what goes on behind the closed doors of a family suffering from mental illness, infidelity, and financial issues.

Written from the first-person perspective of Cece, we see the female point of view in a neighborhood characterized by gossiping housewives who shame their friends at times they should be supportive. The women in the book are judgmental but are bound by the unspoken constraints of their society – lead by their successful husbands. This shows very clearly that the grass is not always greener on the more affluent side of town.

For Cece who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, believed to be inherited from her mother, this environment is toxic and leads to her becoming unwell because she cannot conform to the rigid expectations set by those around her. At a time when she should be surrounded by friends and family, she has nobody to turn to. It highlights important issues in the affluent community as to why the women are not there for each other and the pressure of maintaining a perfect home life and family. This is something we all know to be impossible, yet people still strive for it anyway. It also raises the question as to why Cece cannot speak to anyone about her mental health. In the book, she does not once have a therapeutic conversation about it, and her condition is only seen as a bother to her family. Her friends seem unaware of her mental health problem and just think that she has migraines.

A theme that runs throughout the book is the importance of parental influence on their children. Cece grew up witnessing her mother’s erratic and unusual actions and her children now have similar behaviour. They also see her love for expensive material possessions and become spoiled – so much so that she even indulges their unhealthy habits which lead to danger and illness. They won’t even get the bus, which Cece and her husband admit with a tone of regret. Her children are spoiled but her and her husband are no better.

The book follows Cece as she tries to get her own back on her husband who has shacked up with his young assistant. At times it’s uncomfortable reading and really unsettles the reader as you question just who’s fault this all is. There are moments of danger, humor, and emotional turmoil which keep the reader engaged and invested in the book all the way through.

Pages: 265 | ASIN: B01B0XMC24

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