Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Fun Stuff: Mystery Blogger Award

A despicable and sneaky blogger from Saturday Night Reader had the audacity to nominate 
me for a Mystery Blogger Award. (originally created by Okoto enigmas blog), I'm waving to the huddled masses like a parade queen for being nominated.  Kisses to you all! 

As part of the rules of the Mystery Blogger Award, I was instructed to share 3 things about myself.  Hmm, my spidey sense is tingling... what to say without revealing my alternate Wonder Woman persona, oops - my secret has been revealed... so here is


And then on to #2

Besides being Wonder Woman - I have many other aliases... On Facebook I am DeeJay Sakata as they would not allow me to use my everyday name real-life moniker as it was my initials, on Twitter and Amazon I am Honolulubelle, on Goodreads I am DJ Sakata, and on two blogs I am the fantabulous Empress DJ

 #3 I am a firm believer in hydration, although my adoration and worship of my favorite indulgences come with exorbitant costs - dreaded calories and an empty wallet - so I try to limit my intake, not saying I'm always successful, but I do try...

What are the rules of the Mystery Blogger Award?  RULES!  Arg - I may follow some if I feel like it, but a capricious cougar and may just decide I don't wanna

This is what I was told to do, but as my harridan of a mother was fond of screeching - I rarely do what I am told...

Put the award logo/image on your blog
List the rules - done
Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog - done - kinda sorta anyway
Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well - done
Tell your readers 3 things about yourself - done
You have to nominate 10 – 20 people - nope, no can do, just not possible as the skeezy pest who nominated me already used up everyone I know... The nerve!  So the buck stops here, I'm calling it, line in the sand.  

Here were the 5 questions I was asked to answer:

If you could insert yourself as a character into a book, which book and why?  

Just the beloved heroine in every HEA book that ends up with the sexy hero who worships her.  I don't care less whether he rides a desk, a Harley, or a horse.  

What are your Top 5 albums of all time? (I love music and love asking this question of people) 

Hmm, I only listen to classical music these days, Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, I can't listen to anything with lyrics while I read, and I'm always reading...   

If you were on Jeopardy what category would you dominate?  

ALL of them, much like Forrest Gump - I am a gauddammed genius!

If you found the spring in Tuck Everlasting what age would you want to stay forever?


Do you have a doppelganger? (What famous person have you been told you look like?)

Someone once told me I had the brains of Albert Einstein and the looks of Loni Anderson... or was it the other way around?  

Share a link to your best post(s)  

Almost all of my posts are golden but the treasure trove of my mad skills and outpouring of my mental treasures were housed on my main blog which was recently destroyed by a pile of human excrement and forever lost.  A pox on all hackers   ;( 

Cover Reveal: After Care by L.B. Dunbar

Contemporary Rom-Com for Gen X


Releasing 1.31.18




Breast cancer survivor Edie Williams is ready to live.

Divorced. Mother of two.

She’s planned the vacation of a lifetime for a reboot,

only to encounter an awakening adventure—Tommy Carrigan.

Manager of the band Collision, Tommy Carrigan has his plate full.

Independent. Carefree.

He’s on an annual holiday with his band family,

when the unexpected happens—Edie Williams.

Love might be just what the doctor prescribed,

but can it survive the world of rock-n-roll?


If you enjoyed The Sex Education of M.E., you’ll love After Care, another romance for the over-forty from L.B. Dunbar. Continue the adventure previously published in Love Notes, the newsletter of L.B. Dunbar.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Book Review: Almost Paradise by Christie Ridgway

Almost Paradise 
by Christie Ridgway

Return to beautiful Crescent Cove in the fourth installment in this sexy, tender series…

Photojournalist and die-hard wanderer Gage Lowell plans a little R & R in Crescent Cove, the place of idyllic childhood summers. Beach House No. 9 seems like a great place to relax after his latest harrowing adventure and he plans to surprise old friend and current pen pal, Skye Alexander, who manages the beachside properties. Though the last time they’d met in person they’d been kids, her communications over the years have kept him in touch…and sometimes saved him from his dark demons. But upon arrival, Skye doesn’t seem all that happy to make his re-acquaintance…

Skye knows it’s nuts not to be eager to spend time with the hard-bodied, ultra-sexy Gage. But it’s clear he sees her as just a friend and she might be thinking of him in a little more…uh, intimate terms. And then there’s the subject of secrets. Clearly he’s holding one back and she has them of her own. But the way he smiles at her…then the way he kisses her…can she open herself up to him in order to discover just how close to Paradise the two of them might come?

**This is a previously published STANDALONE romance.

Get the whole series! 
Almost Wonderful 
Almost Always 
Almost Everything 
Almost Paradise 

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

‘I hate that word,’ Polly said, suddenly looking as if she’d swallowed something sour. ‘Cute. I think it’s preventing me from having a fulfilling love life.’ ‘I thought it was the word perky that was to blame. At least that’s what you told me last week.’

And by the way, if you insult Jane in any way, shape or form, I’ll kick your ass. And then she’ll do it all over again, only harder. And with sexier shoes.

He was glad he stopped himself from saying that, too, because she was staring at him as if she was trying to remember where she’d left her favorite butcher knife.

His niece, Rebecca, had apparently left childhood for adolescence like a small-town girl heading for the big city—on speedy transport and with little luggage…

He’s actually Stunning Sex Man… A superhero. A yet-undiscovered one. I may take up writing comic books just to chronicle his greatness for the world’s appreciation.

My Review:

This installment in the ongoing series featured two couples.  One couple consisted of best platonic friends, although one was secretly pining for the other, and the other couple had been childhood friends that spent summers together and later became adult pen pals as he traveled the world as a serious photojournalist and she stayed at her beloved cove tending to tourists and her family business.  All four hid dark and traumatic events/secrets/stressors.  The characters were enticing and the storylines were intriguing and interesting although slowly paced and heavy with angst.  I looked forward to and reveled in the welcomed infusions of humor and gasp-worthy steamy bits as their statuses shifted from friends to lovers territory.  

Empress DJ

About the Author

Goodreads   Amazon

Christie Ridgway is the author of over 60 novels of contemporary romance. All her books are both sexy and emotional and tell about heroes and heroines who learn to believe in the power of love. A USA Today bestseller, Christie is a six-time RITA finalist and has won best contemporary romance of the year and career achievement awards from Romantic Times Book Reviews.

A native of California, Christie now resides in the southern part of the state with her family. Inspired by the beaches, mountains, and cities that surround her, she writes tales of sunny days and steamy nights

Book Review: Saturdays at Sweeney's by Ashley Farley

Saturdays at Sweeney's

(Sweeney Sisters #5)

by Ashley Farley 

Members of the Sweeney family, young and old, chart their courses for the future in this final installment of the bestselling Sweeney Sisters Series.

When the seafood business Lovie Sweeney established sixty years ago is destroyed by fire, she finds herself at the center of an arson investigation. What really happened that night? Is Lovie responsible for starting the fire or is her family under attack from a sworn enemy?

The loss of their family business leaves the Sweeney clan in flux. Samantha faces the challenges of rebuilding the market while her son, Jamie, on track to graduate from college in six months, must decide whether to make his permanent home in Prospect or move to Charleston where a new special someone resides. At age forty-five, Faith, who has never fully recovered from an abusive marriage, is on a quest to find her true passion? Jackie is distraught when her son, Sean, flunks out of college and struggles to find direction in his life without his twin brother to guide him. A medical diagnosis brings the sisters closer together and threatens to change family dynamics forever.

The Sweeney women remind us that it’s never too late to begin a new endeavor and to never stop chasing your dreams until you draw your last breath.

My Rating:

Favorite Quote:

Did you fail sharing time in kindergarten?

My Review:

I have enjoyed this relevant and engaging series featuring three divergently different Lowcountry sisters and their addled yet feisty mother.  Throughout the series, the sisters have faced a great deal of dispiriting hardships and challenges.  This fifth and final installment of the series was fraught with tension from the beginning as it started with a fire to the family business that brought on a truckload of trouble and opened a channel for either a complete loss or a new opportunity.  Each household, although while also blessed in many ways, was struggling with significant and overwhelming issues as well as the overriding critical element of the swift deterioration their elderly mother’s mental faculties.  This concern was hitting close to home for me there is a rapidly ticking clock, and not an if but a when, until I will be facing this same despicable dilemma.  Ms. Farley’s insightful narrative captured their inner conflict and turmoil with sensitivity and occasional hits of amusing levity which I fully appreciated as I've always found it preferable to laugh than to cry.  I will miss the Sweeney sisters but was more than satisfied with their swan song. 

Empress DJ

About the Author

Ashley Farley writes books about women for women. Her characters are mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives facing real-life issues. Her goal is to keep you turning the pages until the wee hours of the morning. If her story stays with you long after you've read the last word, then she's done her job.

After her brother died in 1999 of an accidental overdose, she turned to writing as a way of releasing her pent-up emotions. She wrote SAVING BEN in honor of Neal, the boy she worshipped, the man she could not save.

Ashley is a wife and mother of two young adult children. While she’s lived in Richmond, Virginia for the past 21 years, part of her heart remains in the salty marshes of the South Carolina Lowcountry where she grew up. Through the eyes of her characters, she’s able to experience the moss-draped trees, delectable cuisine, and kind-hearted folks with lazy drawls that make the area so unique.

Visit her website at for more information. Or sign up for her newsletter using this link:

Book Review: Into the Night by Cynthia Eden

Into the Night

by Cynthia Eden

Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages

Publisher: HQN (December 26, 2017)

Two FBI agents are caught in a merciless vigilante’s crosshairs in New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Eden’s electric Killer Instinct series
Sheltered in the shadows of the Smoky Mountains is the suspect who’s summoned FBI agent Macey Night’s fears to the surface. Every day that the “Profiler,” a vigilante serial killer, escapes justice is another day she’s reminded of what it is to be a ruthless predator’s prey. Capturing him is a craving deeper than anything she’s felt in a long time. But Agent Bowen Murphy, equal parts sexy and volatile, seems hell-bent on changing that. Working together—needing, living and breathing each other—they’re entwined to distraction.

Bowen’s used to operating on impulse: act, don’t feel. Now Macey and the controlled terror behind her beautiful eyes have him rethinking everything, including his rule to never get close to a colleague. He’s willing to fight for a future with Macey, but the consequences of love could be deadly.

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:


She felt as if she’d shattered into a million pieces and then been put together all wrong.

I just want to fall asleep in your arms and know that, for a few moments, I’m safe. Because that’s what you are to me, Bowen… You’re my safety in a storm.

My Review:

I fell right into this intense and intriguing story during its extremely powerful and harrowing prologue. I felt gripped by my hair and the tension in my neck did not relent until the last chapter. This was my first time reading Cynthia Eden and had no idea what to expect, I now expect to be reading her crafty tales quite often.   The premise was interesting and the writing was well paced, wily, and compelling. Although the FBI didnt like the idea of a killer besting them and taunting them with it, I rather fancied the idea of a killer killing off loathsome predators and wondered why not let him be - until I realized there was collateral damage to innocents as well since killers arent all that discriminating silly me for not thinking that through. And in the midst of all that hunting and chasing and slicing and dicing, a sweet and steamy love story blossomed oh yeah I liked that I really like that a lot.

Empress DJ

About Cynthia Eden

Cynthia Eden is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She writes dark tales of romantic suspense and paranormal romance. Her books have received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, and was named a 2013 RITA® finalist for best romantic suspense. Cynthia lives in the Deep South, loves horror movies, and has an addiction to chocolate. More information about Cynthia may be found at

Connect with Cynthia

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Book Review: Springtime at the Cider Kitchen (Little Somerby #2) by Fay Keenan

Springtime at the Cider Kitchen

(Little Somerby #2)
by Fay Keenan 

Moving, funny, thoughtful and romantic. Bring on the next one!' JENNY KANE.

Caroline Hemingway can't help but feel a little strange watching her ex-sister-in-law marrying the owner of Carter's Cider Farm, but she's delighted Anna's found happiness after the death of her late husband, and Caroline's brother, James. If only Caroline could find her own love story...

Desperate to escape the rat race, Caroline decides to take the plunge and move to the idyllic village of Little Somerby, where she is given the task of opening and running a restaurant in one of the forgotten barns on the Cider Farm.

Opening and running The Cider Kitchen is no easy task, and there are many challenges on the way, but slowly Caroline feels she's being accepted into the local community and starts to believe she may have found her forever home. But secrets from her past seem destined to haunt her, and not even the attentions of the very dishy Jonathan Carter can distract her from all she's left behind...

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:


You really don’t read anything except women’s phone numbers, do you?

…I stopped being a child, and started realising that not everyone is a hero and not everyone is a bad guy. We’re all shades of both and everything in between.

I’ve never liked having my space invaded, and you’re like wood smoke; I can smell you even when you’re not there, I’m aware of your presence hours after you’ve left.


My Review:

While it was not necessary to read the first book in the series prior to picking this one up, it would most likely endear you more toward the additional characters.  The main characters of this book were struggling with their identities and careers and combative with each other, hence, book two definitely had a heavier emotional tone and a much higher level of tension and angst than the previous book, which left me feeling less engaged as angst is not among my favorite things. The plot was slow to develop and the characters were difficult for me to embrace and/or appreciate, as many of their difficulties and issues were generally self-inflicted, although I was far more sympathetic towards them as I neared the book’s conclusion.  I greatly enjoyed and looked forward to the chapters including or featuring the ongoing story threads of Anna and Matthew which carried over from the first book, as I adored them both.  

Caroline had a prickly and difficult personality, she was a redhead with the temper to match and the cocky Jonathan appeared to spark it all too easily.  Jonathan won me over with the touching and thoughtful eulogy he presented at his father’s funeral, it squeezed my cold heart.  I happily gleaned some additions for my Brit Word List with the new entries of twee – which Mr. Google told me meant excessively or affectedly quaint or pretty; and kitted out – which Americans would probably say as outfitted with.   It is always a pleasing thought to be able to say I've learned something new for the day, even when reading fiction.  

Empress DJ

About the Author

Website   Twitter

Goodreads   Amazon

Fay Keenan was born in Surrey and raised in Hampshire, before finally settling in the West Country. When Fay is not chasing her children around or writing, she teaches English at a local secondary school. She lives with her husband of fourteen years, two daughters, a cat, two chickens and a Weimaraner called Bertie in a village in Somerset, which may or may not have provided the inspiration for Little Somerby.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Book Review: The Second Chance Tea Shop (Little Somerby #1) by Fay Keenan

The Second Chance Tea Shop

 (Little Somerby #1)

by Fay Keenan 


Second chances, new loves and scrumptious cakes, in this heart-warming novel. Perfect for all fans of Fern Britton, Katie Fforde, and Cathy Bramley.

Following the tragic death of her beloved husband, Anna Hemingway decides it's time for a fresh start. So Anna and her three-year-old daughter Ellie move to a picture-perfect cottage in the beautiful village of Little Somerby, and when she takes over the running of the village tea shop, Ellie and Anna start to find happiness again.

But things get complicated when Matthew Carter, the owner of the local cider farm, enters their lives. Throughout a whirlwind year of village fetes and ancient wassails, love, laughter, apple pie and new memories, life slowly blossoms again. But when tragedy strikes and history seems to be repeating itself, Anna must find the strength to hold onto the new life she has built.

This beautiful, life-affirming debut novel marks the beginning of the Little Somerby series, and promises to make you smile, cry, reach for a cream tea, and long for a life in the perfect English countryside.

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

That place is hotter than David Beckham’s boxers!… I’m so not joking – mere mortals like me would have to sell the family silver, if we hadn’t already, to get a table there. It’s worth going out with him just for the grub!

We’re not teenagers, Matthew –we both come with rather a lot of history… Like a second-hand car…

Christ, if it was me, I’d be sticking pins in a Chanel-dressed voodoo doll by now!

My Review:

I’m all about the indie’s and even more so when it is a first-time author, although sometimes it can be a gamble and I find myself holding my breath the book will be readable.  Thankfully that was not a concern for this debut performance and the first offering of a planned series featuring a small English village, although the author did have a head start advantage being an English teacher and all.  This was a sweet and gentle tale with a slowly building romance and side orders of humor, delicious sounding treats, and family drama until it took a turn for heavy angst and got a bit mired there a bit longer than I wished before those sweet scenes come back into focus.  The frequent food mentions seemed to spark copious snacking during reading, that is my current excuse anyway.  The premise was entertaining; the characters were endearing and appealing; and the writing was easy to follow, insightful, emotive, and relevant.  I already have the second book in this series loaded on my Kindle and ready for immediate perusal. 

I learned a few new Brit words and phrases, always a plus score for my day when I can add to my Brit word list – with the top new entries being “doorstep toast” which would be what Americans call Texas toast, and berk, which the Urban Dictionary tells me is the equivalent of an idiot, although the original slang origin was far more… earthy, and rhymes with hunt.  So of course, I immediately had to add it to the top of my list ;) 

Empress DJ

About the Author

Website   Twitter

Goodreads   Amazon

Fay Keenan was born in Surrey and raised in Hampshire, before finally settling in the West Country. When Fay is not chasing her children around or writing, she teaches English at a local secondary school. She lives with her husband of fourteen years, two daughters, a cat, two chickens and a Weimaraner called Bertie in a village in Somerset, which may or may not have provided the inspiration for Little Somerby.