Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Author Guest Post - Cecilia Tan

Slow Surrender (Struck by Lightning, #1)
Writing Slow Surrender by Cecilia Tan:

Why was I "Struck by Lightning?" Why did I choose to write a love story about a mysterious man with complicated sexual tastes and the questing young woman he introduces to BDSM? It probably won't surprise you that I have a number of reasons. 

First of all, I wanted to write a story about a kinky billionaire because I feel some of the books out there are, well, giving kinky billionaires a bad name. There are many reasons why people might choose to practice BDSM. As a real-life practitioner of kinky sex, bondage, and SM, I know hundreds of people in the scene and as an event organizer I've met thousands more. Very few, whether they are eccentric billionaires or not, build a "Red Room of Pain" because they were traumatized sexually when they were young. This isn't to say that Christian Grey isn't a valid character, but I wanted my James to be a counterexample. 

James isn't kinky because of some trauma in his past. James is, like many people, inherently kinky at heart. There are many psychological studies about this: being turned on by power exchange is as hard-wired for man people as being gay or lesbian is for others. It's a sexual orientation. I wanted to write a hero who embraced his kinky side, and who didn't need to justify it. Nothing "made" James kinky just like nothing "made" Adam Lambert gay.

I also wanted to write about a woman's first BDSM experience. BDSM is rising in popularity--the explosion of Fifty Shades of Grey is a part of that. Because of that rise, there are more and more women having that first experience in real life. I wanted to show how BDSM could be a positive force drawing a couple together. BDSM is intertwined with their love. What makes it work is that James and Karina's relationship isn't about coercion: it's about consent. If there is one thing James "teaches" Karina, it isn't "how to be a good submissive," it's "here's the line of consent we both need to respect to make this work." 

At first Karina doesn't understand what he's showing her because in every previous relationship she's had (including her relationship with her mother), her personal boundaries were continually ignored or trod over as a matter of course. James systematically inverts every typical annoyance from Karina's previous failed relationships. For example, a previous boyfriend had unspoken expectations about how a "girlfriend" should dress. When Karina wasn't "feminine" enough for him, his response was passive aggressive. He bought her things she didn't like, and then didn't understand why she not only didn't wear what he bought, he couldn't understand why she didn't fall all over herself to thank him for the gifts. James turns clothing into a game, a flirtation, a test, a way to find out about Karina's limits and her preferences. 

As it turns out, James isn't the only one learning about Karina's likes and limits: Karina herself is exploring them for the first time, too. 

The third reason I wanted to write the Struck by Lightning series was that by writing a trilogy instead of a single book I had more time and more room to show Karina maturing. The massive popularity of Fifty Shades sent a lot of publishers looking for trilogies and I was fortunate to have mine picked up by Hachette/Grand Central/Forever. Karina is so new to BDSM and to living a fully authentic life that in the beginning of the first book she's wide-eyed and ready for anything. By the end of the second book she's learned a lot about herself and what love means to her, and in the third book she can finally go out and fight for what she believes in and get what she wants--which is James, heart, body, and soul! 

James and Karina don't leave BDSM behind as they fall more deeply in love. With greater trust and knowledge of each other, they can do more, not less. Writing that level of trust and teamwork between the hero and heroine is very satisfying, but it takes three full books to get there. But that's why there are three books, Slow Surrender, Slow Seduction, and Slow Satisfaction comes last. I sincerely hope readers enjoy the full journey now that all three books are out!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Liberty Bell by Emily Ungar REVIEW

Liberty Belle

On the same day she turns twelve years old, Savannah moves away from everything she’s known in sweet, sunny Georgia to preppy Washington D.C. Not only will she miss her best friends Katie and Tessa, Savannah will start a new school. She soon discovers that her schoolmates love to brag—about their clothes, their parents’ governmental connections, and even who has the in with the school authorities.
Unhappy and lonely, Savannah decides if she can’t make life better, she can at least make it sound that way. Soon she is living in the childhood home of George Washington, riding in the limo of the vice president’s daughter, and even moving into the former Luxembourg embassy.
All is well until she learns that her true friends from Georgia are coming for a visit. Now Savannah must create the life she’s been talking about in her letters—and fast! Will Savannah find herself or lose her friends?

This is a cute per-teen/young teen read. It is a quick read at only about 130 pages. Savanna is dealing with what a lot of kids deal with, moving away to somewhere new. And not only that, but leaving her friends and life behind to have to go to a new school and be the new kid and make new friends. That's a lot of stress for a girl...
Or it could be exciting....
Savannah deals with the same emotions and situations all typical girls her age deal with. That includes listening to her new classmates brag. About everything. Not fun. 
Savannah quickly succumbs to missing her old life with her old friends in Washington D.C. 
But instead of wallowing in sorrow, Savannah takes to making her life be more interesting and a lot better. Or at least make it appear that way. 
Until she learns her friends from back home are coming to visit her. Will she be able to create this life she's been making up? Or will she realize what is important and become comfortable in her own skin and find happiness?
Reading this book was cute and quick. You really do feel for this girl and what she is going through. It will teach good lessons of honesty and being true to yourself and help not to fall into all the hype that can surround young girls. 

I recommend this book, especially to preteen and young teens.

I received this book for review from Anaiah Press

Sarah's Choice by Rebecca St. James REVIEW

Sarah's Choice

In Sarah Collins s mind, only one thing stands in the way of her success . . . an unborn baby.
Sarah is about to receive a promotion that will give her everything she s ever wanted: a huge pay increase, a new car, a fabulous apartment, and first-class travel.
But then she discovers she s pregnant. And while she "thinks "she loves her boyfriend, Matt, she isn't sure he s mature enough to be a responsible father. And the job she s pursuing is open only because the previous employee is out on maternity leave. Sarah would never be able to handle the travel as a single mom.
Torn between advice from her coworkers, the insistence of her mother and sister that she keep the baby, her insecurity about her relationship with Matt, and the void where her father should be, Sarah has no idea how to make this decision.
A Christmas card from a mysterious old woman is the catalyst for three visions of her future and just may be the miracle she needs. But can she trust the visions? Are they the yearnings of a conflicted heart? Or are they true visions from the God she thought had turned His back on her?

This was quite the interesting book. It starts off pretty interesting yet a little slow. Yet, not so slow that it doesn't pull you in. You feel bad for Sarah, because like many, she has financial problems that she is trying to get out of. And this promotion that she greatly deserves, is practically on her doorstep. Sarah is told by a colleague and friend that she has the promotion in the bag, which means a great pay. 
Yet, when Sarah is called into the meeting to discuss the promotion, her bosses and their assistants make you wonder, will she get the great pay? You find yourself becoming worried and frustrated for Sarah. 
Then another curve ball. Sarah finds out she is pregnant. Can she do all of the great traveling with this turn of events? And what about her boyfriend? Is he ready for fatherhood?
Even though this story starts out a bit slow, the author is quick to pull you on and you find yourself cheering for Sarah.

I do recommend this book.

I received this book for review from BookLook Bloggers

A Life Apart by L. Y. Marlow REVIEW

A Life ApartWhen Morris Sullivan joins the navy in 1940, his hopes are high. Though he leaves behind his new wife and their baby daughter, he is thrilled to be pursuing his lifelong dream-only to be shipped off to Pearl Harbor when the war begins. When he narrowly survives the 1941 attack, thanks to the courage of a black sailor he doesn't know, Morris is determined to seek out the man's family and express his gratitude and respect. On leave, he tracks down the man's sister, and finds an immediate, undeniable connection with the nurturing yet fiercely independent Beatrice, who has left the stifling South of her upbringing for the more liberal, integrated north.

Though both try to deny their growing bond, their connection and understanding is everything missing from Morris's hasty marriage to his high school sweetheart Agnes, and from Beatrice's plodding life as she grieves the brother she has lost. At once a family epic, and a historical drama that takes readers from World War II through the Civil Rights Movement to the present day, A Life Apart is about a love that creates complicated and unbreakable ties between two families that live worlds apart. L.Y. Marlow brings readers along for the emotional journey as Morris and Beatrice's relationship is tested by time, family loyalties, racial tensions, death, unending guilt, and the profound effects of war

I love the cover of this novel. And the story inside? Not too shabby either. This book is set back to a time we don't tend to think about on a day to day basis. It makes you think about living in a very different generation of time. 
This book traveled and connected a few different times in history, including many historical events along the way up until the present day. The story had a main focus on coming together in love, race and the indifference's they dealt with, and historic progression of change.
All in all, this was a great read, and I loved all of the history that was involved, the timeline of history that was pieced in this book was wonderful. And don't you just love the cover?

Readers will find it very difficult not to get pulled into this story and the places the author has the characters take the readers. 

I do recommend this book.

I received this book for review from Blogging for Books

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Need a Robin Williams Fix?

We are all deeply saddened by the news of Robin Williams death. And only a days prior to his death, my daughter and I enjoyed one of his box office hits, Mrs.Doubtfire. She, like the rest of us, loved the movie. I told her about Jumanji, that is next on our list. Anyway...

If you're looking for a Rob Williams fix, People.com has a wonderful tribute of some of his hit films.
Robin Williams Dead: See the Actor's 9 Most Beloved Roles

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron REVIEW

The Butterfly and the Violin (Hidden Masterpiece, #1)

"Today." Sera James spends most of her time arranging auctions for the art world's elite clientele. When her search to uncover an original portrait of an unknown Holocaust victim leads her to William Hanover III, they learn that this painting is much more than it seems.

"Vienna, 1942." Adele Von Bron has always known what was expected of her. As a prodigy of Vienna's vast musical heritage, this concert violinist intends to carry on her family's tradition and play with the Vienna Philharmonic. But when the Nazis learn that she helped smuggle Jews out of the city, Adele is taken from her promising future and thrust into the horrifying world of Auschwitz.

The veil of innocence is lifted to expose a shuddering presence of evil, and Adele realizes that her God-given gift is her only advantage; she must play. Becoming a member of the Women's Orchestra of Auschwitz, she fights for survival. Adele's barbed-wire walls begin to kill her hope as the months drag into nearly two years in the camp. With surprising courage against the backdrop of murder and despair, Adele finally confronts a question that has been tugging at her heart: Even in the midst of evil, can she find hope in worshiping God with her gift?

As Sera and William learn more about the subject of the mysterious portrait--Adele--they are reminded that whatever horrors one might face, God's faithfulness never falters

This novel really was such a pleasure to read. The title didn't make sense to me until later in the book, which I didn't mind; just meant a little more mystery add to the plot to solve :)
The novel started out in present day with Sera James and her assistant. The characters immediately pull you into the story. You find yourself asking them, what painting, what are you talking about? And as you find yourself asking the characters what they are talking about, you find yourself going back into time about an Australian violinist Adele Von Bron. The girl in the painting. 
This novel takes you back and forth in time between the sad yet historic past of Auschwitz and current time. The story is ever evolving and unfolding as you read. And it all surrounds this painting. 
In the end, Sera gets her questions answered and has a peaceful heart. 

I do recommend this book

I received this book for review from Litfuse Publicity