Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Spotlight. Giveaway: Fallen Angel Part 6 by Tracie Podger


Fallen Angel, Part 6

A continuation of the Fallen Angel Series

By Tracie Podger


  Italy, the mistress that Brooke can no longer compete with was consuming her husband. He changed when he was there, and she wasn't sure the Band-Aid she’s placed over their fractures was man enough to hold.
There was something about Italy that was both loved and hated for very different reasons by Brooke and Robert Stone. 

For Robert, Italy was in his blood, she ran through his genes, tantalizing, calling to him constantly. 

After a month apart, Brooke and Robert are reunited and it isn’t all smooth sailing. 

Devastation, pain, and more hurt than the couple could ever imagine is to be endured, but can they walk hand-in-hand from it this time? 

Do Italy and the change in Robert become too much for Brooke to cope with?   

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  A tsunami had washed through my family. A typhoon, tornado, and hurricane all rolled into one had rocked the very fabric that held us together. We survived, of course, we survive everything—Well, some of us did. 

I don’t think I’d ever cried so much. I’d sobbed alone into my pillow at night, and I’d wailed onto the shoulders of my friends and family. The one I needed, I wanted, whose absence made my heart and chest physically ache was missing. My body hurt, my throat was permanently sore from the shouts and screams lodged in there. I had to keep my profanities, my anger, inside for the sake of my son. He had lost as well, and I had to remind myself of that on a regular basis. The bitterness that constantly bubbled in my stomach in the form of acid was beginning to rot me from within. I found myself constantly taking medication. I doubted the copious amounts of wine helped the situation. 

During the day I smiled, I went about business as normal, or as normal as my life was at that point. I’d spent many a minute lying in the footwell of the car as we exited the house to dodge the fucking paparazzi and the constant flashes against the darkened windows of the Range Rover. Every time I blinked, I saw flashes of white light. I kept my son indoors for the longest period of time for fear of telephoto lenses capturing his tears and sorrow. 

Security was so tight, I couldn’t breathe. I wanted it and I loathed it in equal measure. I switched from anger to sadness to resentment, and then to understanding like a swing in a strong wind. 

I spoke to him, regularly. At first, all I could do was curse and shout. Then it was tears and explanations. I was still angry, I was still sad, but I understood, and there was a part of me that actually didn’t like myself for understanding. I was a ball of confusion. I craved normality, knowing that was never going to happen.  

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Monday, November 12, 2018

Book Review: Family Trust by Kathy Wang

Family Trust
by Kathy Wang

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: William Morrow 
(October 30, 2018)

Some of us are more equal than others....

Meet Stanley Huang: father, husband, ex-husband, man of unpredictable tastes and temper, aficionado of all-inclusive vacations and bargain luxury goods, newly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. For years, Stanley has claimed that he’s worth a small fortune. But the time is now coming when the details of his estate will finally be revealed, and Stanley’s family is nervous.

For his son Fred, the inheritance Stanley has long alluded to would soothe the pain caused by years of professional disappointment. By now, the Harvard Business School graduate had expected to be a financial tech god – not a minor investor at a middling corporate firm, where he isn’t even allowed to fly business class.

Stanley’s daughter, Kate, is a middle manager with one of Silicon Valley’s most prestigious tech companies. She manages the capricious demands of her world-famous boss and the needs of her two young children all while supporting her would-be entrepreneur husband (just until his startup gets off the ground, which will surely be soon). But lately, Kate has been sensing something amiss; just because you say you have it all, it doesn’t mean that you actually do.

Stanley’s second wife, Mary Zhu, twenty-eight years his junior, has devoted herself to making her husband comfortable in every way—rubbing his feet, cooking his favorite dishes, massaging his ego. But lately, her commitment has waned; caring for a dying old man is far more difficult than she expected.

Linda Liang, Stanley’s first wife, knows her ex better than anyone. She worked hard for decades to ensure their financial security, and is determined to see her children get their due. Single for nearly a decade, she might finally be ready for some romantic companionship. But where does a seventy-two-year-old Chinese woman in California go to find an appropriate boyfriend?

As Stanley’s death approaches, the Huangs are faced with unexpected challenges that upend them and eventually lead them to discover what they most value. A compelling tale of cultural expectations, career ambitions and our relationships with the people who know us best, Family Trust skewers the ambition and desires that drive Silicon Valley and draws a sharply loving portrait of modern American family life.

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

Erika didn’t like most ethnic restaurants, and in particular the cheap authentic ones, an admission that in native Bay Area circles was viewed with the same muted horror as Holocaust denial or the use of trans fats.

…her fingers flew past an array of the graying and bald. “Here’s someone I went on a date with last week,” she said. “But he was only interested in, you know, a nurse with a purse.”

Do not speak to her again. Someone like that, you end all communication, immediately. Witches feed off attention. Take away the broom, they can’t fly. All right?

Linda was satisfied to note that Teddy, the alleged future husband of Shirley Chang, was at least the same height if not shorter than Winston and had the same pitch-black pomade hairstyle—it must be a trend with older Asian men, she thought, just like how all the women simultaneously emerged with the same enormous perms after sixty.

My Review:

This book was a bit uneven for me, but maybe it was just flying several levels over my head as I have zero interest in venture capitalism or corporate lifestyles as those topics are more than my tiny brain can comprehend and tends to scorch the little pea inside.  However, I seem to quickly queue up for all the snark and salacious details mined from this unusual family’s tangled secrets and snide inner musings. The storylines were complex and highly nuanced with generous servings of razor-sharp wit and eviscerating observations.  It was well worth wading through the more tedious detritus of their obsessive financial wranglings to get to their peculiar predicaments and curiously confounding choices. They seemed overly driven and nearly consumed with amassing status and money, and how they were being seen while doing so.  The vast majority of this large and oddly intriguing cast of characters were rather vile, although Stanley was full-on heinous.  I was equally repulsed and fascinated, and couldn’t quite seem to get enough or a full grasp of what was transpiring – what does that say about me?  I have not yet read Crazy Rich Asians, and while I really wish I had, I also know I’d actually rather be one.  I was provided a review copy of this clever tale by HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.

Empress DJ

About Kathy Wang

Kathy Wang grew up in Northern California and holds degrees from UC Berkeley and Harvard Business School. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband and two children. Visit Kathy's website and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Book Review, Giveaway: Homicide in Herne Hill by Alice Castle

Homicide in Herne Hill

by Alice Castle

Amazon US / UK / CA / AU

Beth Haldane, SE21’s premier – and only – single mum amateur sleuth is really pleased to find a new friend at the school gates, in the shape of irrepressibly bouncy Nina. As well as a way with words, Nina has a puzzle she wants Beth to solve, centered on the solicitor’s office where Nina works in Herne Hill.

But as the mystery thickens, threatening to drag in not just Nina and her boss, but the yummy mummies of Dulwich, too, Beth is about to find out just how far some people will go to keep up appearances.

Join Beth in this fourth installment in the London Murder Mystery series for her toughest case yet.

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

Beth realised she had never enjoyed a Nativity so much… The Angel Gabriel was extremely reluctant to hand over the Godchild to Mary, as it was her brand new Luvabella doll playing the pivotal role. Once that tug-of-war was over, one of the Year 1 oxen bit a shepherd on the leg and the Three Wise Men got lost, their Sat Nav having apparently failed in the desert. Billy and Bobby MacKenzie, playing the role of bouncers – characters who had oddly not appeared in the original Gospels – had a not very sotto voce fight over who was going to tether Mary’s extremely uncooperative donkey, and only their mother’s blistering intervention from the audience got events moving again. Finally, one of the angels absentmindedly lifted up her skirts to reveal she wasn’t wearing any knickers, at which point many parents gave up live-streaming the event for fear of prosecution on public decency grounds.

She fumbled out the Nokia phone, looking askance at its blocky buttons. ‘Cool,’ breathed Ben, taking it from her with the reverence of an Egyptologist examining a rare papyrus. ‘That’s so… old.’

Poor Janice was starting to get that look of occasional blank terror Beth had often seen on expectant mothers’ faces, and which had no doubt been on her own, as the horrible truth dawned that two people couldn’t continue in one body indefinitely, and there was only one possible exit route.

‘Bet you thought we was all too old for hanky-panky. Well, let me tell you, a Freedom Pass in’t just for the buses, love… It’s like the January sales, sometimes, down at the sheltered housing. And I’m in a good position now that Ivy Penrose has passed.’

How do you even know that much? We’re just piecing things together. Honestly, I ought to just tap your phone line. It would cut our investigation time in half.

My Review:

I have enjoyed each intriguing, humorous, and cunningly penned installment in this series, but I believe I enjoyed this one most of all. Alice Castle has laced her well-crafted mysteries with delightfully amusing wry wit, clever comedic observations and insights, and humorously depicted and enticingly quirky characters. I smirked and reveled in the nimbly described antics and colorfully detailed encounters and shenanigans the highly curious Beth manages to entangle herself within, but she just can’t herself. I totally adore Beth and suspect we would be fast friends if we ever had the chance to meet. She also provided a treasure trove of new additions for my Brit Vocabulary List with blimmin’ - a milder version of bleeding or bloody; boyf – boyfriend; moggie – a common cat; titch – a small amount or small person; cozzie – swimsuit; off-licence – a liquor store; and shirty – irritable and bad-tempered.

Empress DJ

Author Bio 

Before turning to crime, Alice Castle had a long career as a feature writer on national newspapers including the Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Alice grew up in south London and, after a brief stint in Brussels (where her first novel, Hot Chocolate, is set) she is back where she belongs, dreaming up adventures for her heroine, amateur detective and single mum Beth Haldane. Alice is married with two children, two stepchildren, and two cats. Find out more about her London Murder Mystery series on her website, www.alicecastleauthor.com. Death in Dulwich was published in September 2017 by Crooked Cat Books and was #1 in the Amazon Satire/Detective charts in the UK, US, Canada, France, Spain, and Germany. The Girl in the Gallery came out in December 2017 and the third in the series, Calamity in Camberwell, was published on 13th August 2018. Revenge on the Rye will follow in 2019, with more books in the pipeline.

Social Media Links – http://www.alicecastleauthor.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alicecastleauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DDsDiary?lang=en

Links to buy books: http://www.MyBook.to/GirlintheGallery.

myBook.to/1DeathinDulwich, myBook.to/GirlintheGallery, myBook.to/CiC myBook.to/homicideinhernehill


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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organizer and used only for the fulfillment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Book Review, Giveaway: The Changeup by Mary Billiter

 Title: The Changeup
Author: Mary Billiter
Genre: Romantic Mystery
Release Date: October 23, 2018
Series: Resort Romances #6 (Complete stand-alone series)
Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing
Cover Designer: Claire Smith

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 Available now! 

A hot deputy, a woman in hiding, and a murder that changes it all. True love and the truth are often at odds in Mary Billiter’s latest installment in her resort romance series. 

The Feds changed her name, occupation, and location, but Cupid and crime still found her. Both Witness Protection and her position as a hotel conference services manager require Rebel Roberts to maintain a low profile. But when she finds herself at the center of high crime and high romance at the high-rise Point Resort in Long Beach, even the best-laid plans are subject to change.

Former college baseball pitcher Ryan McHenry plans on becoming a deputy sheriff like his late uncle. But when Rebel literally stumbles on a dead body by her hotel, helping her change the narrative may throw a curve in his career plans.

Can Rebel and Ryan find true love and happiness with so many lies between them?

  Available now! 

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

I wasn’t sure what constituted the downstairs of this hotel, but it couldn’t be worse than working 130 feet underground in a wine cave. Besides, if I worked any further down, Satan would be my officemate.

There are places where even an alcoholic would rather be sober than set foot into because the bar floor was so sticky that they’d probably lose a shoe before they gained a buzz, and the Long Beach Club Roar was that place. It was the classic dive bar down to the $ 1 Busch beer and the local favorite, Milk of Amnesia—a combo of Fireball, rum, and milk.

I stick out like a neon sign in Amish country…

“Once a month, we tell our husbands or significant others that we have”— she raised her hands in the air and made finger quotes—“ book club.” She quickly scanned Club Roar as if she was looking for someone. “Only we’ve been reading the same book now for a year.”

My Review:

I enjoyed the feisty characters and snappy wit I found during this lively yet easy to follow story. Written in my favorite dual POV, the genre seemed mostly women’s fiction with a delightful blend of wry humor and interesting storylines involving witness protection, a murder mystery, and a developing sweet and steamy romance. The characters were strong and sassy women who could hold their own while also quirky and endearing. Ms. Billiter’s writing was pleasantly engaging, well-plotted, briskly paced, and held my attention while putting a frequent smile on my face.

Empress DJ

 More From This Author 






Mary Billiter is a weekly newspaper columnist and fiction author. She also has novels published under the pen name, “Pumpkin Spice.”

Mary resides in the Cowboy State with her unabashedly bald husband, her four amazing children, two fantastic step-kids, and their runaway dog. She does her best writing (in her head) on her daily runs in wild, romantic, beautiful Wyoming.

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Book Review, Giveaway: The Cuckoo Wood by M. Sean Coleman

The Cuckoo Wood

by M. Sean Coleman

Amazon UK / US 
Direct from Red Dog

Samantha Jaynes took her life in the cold lake. Now Rosie Trimble has done the same. Both claimed they had seen an angel. And they're not the only ones.
A spate of teenage suicides rattles the rural community of Kirkdale, in England's Lake District. Before they died, each of the girls talked about seeing an angel. Is this collective hallucination, or is something more sinister leading these young girls to their deaths?
That’s a question for Dr. Alex Ripley, the so-called Miracle Detective. Brought in to help the police, she finds a community rooted in fear and suspicion, bound by their strange faith, unwilling to help, unable to forgive.
Because the people of Kirkdale have buried their dark past once, and they’re not about to let Ripley dig it up again.

The Cuckoo Wood is the first Alex Ripley Mystery

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

She’d been punched in the face and now carried a neat little scar over her right eye after being assaulted by one particularly irate healer, the irony of which had not passed her by.

Ripley heard his awful, animal howl echo across the water. She knew that feeling, she had felt it herself. Love and life, unexpectedly lost. Ripped away. That was the sound of a heart breaking.

My Review:

I am in awe of the agile word skills and ingenious storytelling of this debut author. He must have been blessed by the goddess of words, as his narrative was well-crafted and tightly woven. I was absorbed by his well-paced and intriguing tale and found my muscles were as taut as the writing on the page. His characters were as curiously compelling and complex as the cleverly constructed storylines and my curiosity remained at high levels throughout. I am an instant fangirl. Plus, I scored a new addition to my Brit Word List with bladdered, which Mr. Google indicated was informal British for being extremely inebriated. Not that I would ever have a need for such a condition ;)

Empress DJ

Author Bio 

Born in the UK and raised in South Africa, M. Sean Coleman developed a love for reading and writing novels in his early teens, thanks to two incredibly passionate English teachers who infected him with their love of words and stories. Over the intervening years, he has written film and television drama, cross-platform series, an interactive children’s storybook, and a graphic novel series.

He finally found his niche as a thriller writer when he was asked to write a novel as part of the cross-platform project, Netwars. His first book, The Code, was published six months later, with the sequel, Down Time, hot on its heels. There was no going back.

He is obsessed with crime, mystery and thriller stories, especially those with a fresh or surprising angle. He writes novels from his home in The Cotswolds, where he lives with his husband and their three red dogs.

Social Media Links – 


To win a paperback copy of The Cuckoo Wood, a cool tote bag with book quote from the publisher, a branded bookmark and some chocolates (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organizer and used only for the fulfillment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Book Review: The Spite Game by Anna Snoekstra

The Spite Game
by Anna Snoekstra

Paperback: 336 Pages

Publisher: MIRA; Original edition (November 1, 2018)

Everyone does bad things when no one is watching

Mercilessly bullied in high school, Ava knows she needs to put the past behind her and move on, but she can’t—not until she’s exacted precise, catastrophic revenge on the people who hurt her the most.

First, she watches Saanvi. Flawlessly chic and working hard at a top architectural firm, Saanvi has it all together on the surface. But everyone does bad things when they think no one is watching and Ava only wants what’s fair—to destroy Saanvi’s life the way her own was destroyed.

Next, she watches Cass. She’s there as Cass tries on wedding dresses, she’s there when Cass picks out a cake, she’s there when Cass betrays her fiancĂ©. She’s the reason Cass’s entire future comes crashing down.

Finally, Ava watches Mel. Mel was always the ringleader and if anyone has to pay, it’s her. But one tiny slip up and Ava realizes the truth: Mel knows she’s being watched, and she’s ready to play Ava’s games to the bitter end.

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

As far as the social strata went, we were barely in the equation. We were cooler than the kids with chronic acne who played cards in the back of the library, but not by much… I felt ready. I wanted to see the true potential of my life, to have fun and get drunk and kiss boys and skip school. I wanted to see what I was capable of. I was just waiting for my in.

There had been always been an ache in my chest. I hadn’t known it was there until now, when it was gone. I knew all I had to do was relax, not say or do the wrong thing, and every moment would be entirely perfect… As long as I didn’t muck it up, things would stay golden… I wanted to pause this moment, because I knew, inevitably, I’d somehow do something to ruin it.

I don’t think I’m the right person to ask about being normal, but I’ve always thought the best way to live is to embrace your crazy. I’ll tell you now it’s always a hell of a lot more fun.

I had worried so much about being a “psycho,” but maybe I shouldn’t have. I’d be happier if I was one, that was for sure. If I was a psycho, I’d do something to Mel. I’d get even. I’d been worrying so much that there was something terribly wrong with me. But maybe the thing that was wrong with me was the only thing that was right.

My Review:

As someone who was bullied in high school, I can honestly attest to the brilliance and keenly observant insights tucked into this author’s well-crafted tale. High school was over forty years ago for me, but the painful sting of personal humiliation remains ever so sharp, regardless of the massive amount of years and tons of dust in between. I was absorbed by this emotive and cunningly written tale. The cleverly constructed narrative was laced with captivating and compelling characters and active with engaging, dynamic, and heart-squeezing scenarios. I required considerable motivation and enticement to put my Kindle down for those pesky chores like eating, sleeping, and adulting. I know it may not the politically correct or altruistic thing to confess, but I reveled in the ending with a glorious fist pump.

Empress DJ

About the Author

Anna Snoekstra was born in Canberra, Australia to two civil servants. At the age of seventeen, she decided to avoid a full-time job and a steady wage to move to Melbourne and become a writer. She studied Creative Writing and Cinema at The University of Melbourne, followed by Screenwriting at RMIT University.

After finishing university, Anna wrote for independent films and fringe theatre and directed music videos. During this time, she worked as a Christmas elf, cheesemonger, a waitress, a barista, a nanny, a receptionist, a cinema attendant, and a film reviewer.

Connect with Anna