review by Candi Sary
GENRE: Mystery, Romance, Humor
EDITOR: Annie Acorn
COVER DESIGN: Angel Nichols
It’s Christmastime in Birmingham, Alabama. Thirty-something Chloe Carstairs and her mother Amanda are decorators for their high profile Birmingham clients—the kind who spend over $30,000 on Christmas décor. It’s serious business and yet we find these Southern women in a laugh-out-loud decorating disaster in the very first chapter. Décor issues end up being a piece of cake compared to the crisis that follows when two of their clients are murdered. Chloe and Amanda, not the types to sit back and wait for the police to solve the murders, begin their own investigation. The feisty daughter and her good-mannered mother visit suspects’ houses, the gossipy nail salon, a bar and even a local gangster’s restaurant, to gather information. Their snooping gets them into trouble, but that doesn’t stop them from moving forward on their dangerous yet comical journey to catch a murderer.
Amanda and Chloe are an original and amusing duo to take on a murder mystery. Their mother-daughter dynamic initiates some hilarious scenes. “I’m not sure at what age a daughter stops being cowed by that scary Mom look, let’s just say it isn’t thirty.” Despite their sassy remarks and eye rolling moments, there is a sense that these two women could get through anything together. They communicate with a glance and can practically read each other’s minds. What they have is special and heartwarming, and it does manage to shine through from beneath the comedy.
This book has it all—colorful characters, an intriguing storyline, solid writing and tons of personality. Chloe is a fabulous narrator. She is authentic, likeable and genuinely funny. With a keen eye for décor and fashion, she offers witty observations throughout the book, giving the story its spunk. “I had nothing against the guy personally, but working together would be like trying to make low-slung jeans work with granny panties. Not happening.” The mystery makes the book a page-turner. A whole variety of characters appear to have motives, and it’s definitely fun getting caught up in the community’s dirty secrets.
Smart, funny, entertaining, and with the perfect touch of Southern charm, Murder on the First Day of Christmas
is such a delightful read, I have to give it 5 stars.
Buy it on Amazon
Find it on Goodreads
Like it on Facebook
Follow Chloe on Twitter
The Chloe Gets a Clue website
THE REVIEWERCandi Sary, author of Black Crow White Lie, has made the finals in several writing competitions, including the William Faulkner William Wisdom Writing Competition and the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. She lives in coastal Southern California with her husband (while her 2 kids are off at college), and can often be found surfing the waters of Newport Beach. You can find her at www.candisary.com.
TITLE: The Guys are Props Club
AUTHOR: Ingrid Seymour
GENRE(S): New Adult Romance
LENGTH: 257 pages
THE RUNDOWNWith the creation of New Adult literature, many books are springing up to engage new readers. The Guys are Props Club seems positioned perfectly to fill this new void. A well-written debut from author Ingrid Seymour, Guys are Props is sexy, engaging and romantic.
Maddie Burch, a nineteen-year-old college student, has never had anything handed to her. After a devastating heartbreak in high school, Maddie decides that guys are players and must be avoided at all costs. She joins her roommate and best friend, Jessica in the “Guys as Props” club. The rules are simple: members must pull “plays” on unsuspecting guys. The goal: to play the players and break the hearts of guys who would do the same if they had the chance.
Then Maddie stumbles across sexy Sebastian Capello at a dance class and everything changes. Maddie is drawn in by Sebastian's charm and good looks, but quickly realizes he has all the qualities of the players she's avoiding. Like a smart girl should, she tries to steer clear of Sebastian, yet somehow runs into him at every turn. Will she have the will-power to deny her heart's (and body's) desires? Or will she be taken in by Sebastian's Latin hotness?
As a recently created genre, New Adult literature seems to be the new frontier for a lot of authors. The genre allows them to write stories that embody both the innocence of a young adult novel with the mature content of an adult novel. Guys are Props
fits right in. The writing is tight and well-edited. There are no grammatical or syntax errors in this self-published title. You can tell from the start that Seymour is a seasoned professional. The characters are well-formed, interesting, and read like real people. The pacing is nearly perfect with no flat scenes and spurred on with lots of smokin'-hot love scenes to pique reader's interests. The plot was not entirely new and a little predictable, but that did not stop me from really enjoying the book. It's a very engaging read that you will find yourself drawn into reading well past your bedtime.
Pick up this book. You will not be disappointed 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Find Guys are Props on Amazon.
Find Ingrid on her website.
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Editor: Faith Williams
Length: 194 pages
Evie is a sixteen-year-old stuck in the small town of Mokelumne Hill with a population of 619. She dreams of getting away, but there are few opportunities for her to travel. Home life is somber as she and her parents continue to mourn the death of her older brother, Clyde. When he was alive, Clyde had promised Evie he would get her out of their small town and take her to a special beach town he'd discovered. When an unexpected friend of Clyde's shows up at the local cafe, Evie learns that even after death, her brother intended to follow through on his promise.
Evie and her two best friends, Charlotte and Kia, hop in a turquoise VW bus and take a six-hour drive to the completely different world of Waverly Beach. Crowds of people in bikinis and trunks hang out on the beach as well as the surf shops, restaurants and stores just across from the pier. The beachy vibe is laid-back yet exciting. In this dream vacation, the girls get an authentic taste of the Southern Californian surf culture as they meet the locals and even learn to surf. Complete with a summer romance, Evie has a teenage girl's fantasy vacation until the fantasy takes in a dose of reality. When it's time to leave, Evie takes one last paddle out in the water for more than just closure to the end of her summer.
Greta Rose Evans, the author of The Infinite Summer
, is seventeen years old. It's hard not to keep that in mind when reviewing this book. To write, edit and then publish a novel at that age is impressive. Her age is apparent in that the story is not as refined or complex as novels written by more experienced writers, but this is an admirable first step toward her writing career. Though the novel stays quite simple, Evans does offer glimmers of her young wisdom throughout. She keeps her story flowing smoothly and this quick read is enjoyable.
While there are technical shortcomings from her age, the essence of the novel does in fact benefit from it. Reading a YA novel actually written by a young adult is refreshing and authentic. The open spirit, the excitement over new experiences and new ideas, and the grand hopes and dreams that still feel possible at that age are all apparent in Evans' writing. The adult author trying to conjure a YA voice might not capture all the subtleties that Evans naturally brings out in her work. The experience feels honest as a reader taking in the view from Evans’ current perspective. It is also a pleasure to read an optimistic YA novel that celebrates the excitement of being a teenager. The difficulties are certainly addressed, but the joyfulness shines through.
THE RECOMMENDATIONThe Infinite Summer
is a perfect beach read, and if you don't have a beach nearby, Evans' writing will certainly make you feel like you're there.
You can find Greta Rose Evans on GoodReads
, and her book on Amazon
and Barnes and Noble
THE REVIEWERCandi Sary, author of Black Crow White Lie, has made the finals in several writing competitions, including the William Faulkner William Wisdom Writing Competition and the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. She lives in coastal Southern California with her husband (while her 2 kids are off at college), and can often be found surfing the waters of Newport Beach. You can find her at www.candisary.com
TITLE: Uno Kudo: Naked
GENRE: Anthology, feminist literature
THE RUNDOWNUno Kudo
is an anthology on its second year, a compilation of art and literature from all walks of life, with one common theme. The title, Naked
, says it all. Risqe, heart-stopping, honest, but not always beautiful, each story and picture has some element of nakedness about it. The images and words within Naked
are sometimes abstract and other times powerfully blunt.
The literature in Uno Kudo: Naked
ranges from poetry to short stories, and the quality of writing ranges from amateur to practiced prose. With a slightly feminist bent, most of the content embraces sexual expression, fear, or awakening. But other times, the theme of emotional nakedness takes place of the physical. With stories about prostitutes, suicide and loneliness, Uno Kudo isn’t the most uplifting collection of stories, but it is definitely thought-provoking.Naked
is, without a doubt, a coffee-table book. With large, striking images, professional-grade paintings and well-placed prose and poetry, the book is a piece of art in and of itself. And in that respect, the publication fell short. In order to truly allow Naked
to shine, the editors needed to weed out some of the less professional contributions and the publishers needed to spend more time producing a quality piece of art. The cover needed to be hard-back, the binding spiral-bound, and the pages needed to be printed professionally in order to allow the art within to truly shine.
If you’re looking for a risqué coffee-table book that will entertain and possibly even shock your visiting guests, Uno Kudo
is worth checking out. But you might want to skip Naked
and wait until they release their next anthology. There were some gems within Uno Kudo: Naked
, but overall the production needed a revamp, with more practiced authors and artists, and a professional printing process.
While some of the individual images and stories in Uno Kudo would have earned a higher rating, the overall production only earns 3 out of 4 stars.
You can find Uno Kudo: Naked
on Amazon here
, Facebook here
and the blog here.
review by: Brian Braden
Jodi McClure’s novel Homebound
is about a broken man who rediscovers himself, and love, within the confines of his childhood bedroom. A gentle, easy read set in the contemporary South, Homebound
reminds me of a country song about healing, tenderness, and love.
John crashes to earth, both literally and figuratively, when a motorcycle accident renders him bedridden. Helpless for months in his childhood bedroom, John has nothing but time to contemplate a failed marriage and a failed career. He is a broken man in every sense. Enter Cloey, the small town nurse and beauty hired to take care of him. Over the course of the story Cloey and John form a relationship of trust, solve a mystery, and, of course, fall in love.
On the surface, Homebound
sounds like a sappy, run of the mill love story, but it isn’t. McClure’s intelligent prose and excellent dialogue forge John and Cloey into believable and likeable characters without a single drop of sap or saccharin. McClure accomplishes what few writers can: build a simple setting and two likable characters into a compelling story that holds the reader without gimmick or shock. I smiled and occasionally laughed at John and Cloey’s banter and their evolving tenderness. If I could sum up McClure’s style it would be “gentle subtleness” that tugs at your
heartstrings and, well, makes you feel good.
I only had two minor issues with Homebound
. The mystery left by Cloey’s deceased grandfather was a promising, but ultimately disappointing, plot twist. It provided a medium for Cloey and John to draw closer together by searching for clues in classic books. However, beyond its utility in this aspect, it never really got off the ground and wrapped up too abruptly at the very end. The other issue was Homebound’s
length. At only 72 pages it could be considered a long novelette as opposed to a novel. Regardless, these minor critiques don’t detract from what is otherwise an entertaining book. Homebound
is suitable for all ages and a delightful read.
If you’re ever homebound on a rainy day, I highly recommend this light read to pass the time. Homebound
left me smiling and gets 86 out of 99 cents. Jodi McClure links:Buy Homebound on Amazon You can also follow Brian Braden on his blog, Facebook and Twitter and buy his
book, Carson's Love. If you are an agent or publisher you can make the smartest financial decision of your life and offer Brian a contract on his brilliant novel, Black Sea Gods.
Review by: Katie French
In the realm of Paranormal steaminess, The Forever Girl
does not disappoint in turning up the heat. This romance is centered around twenty-two year old Wiccan protagonist Sophia. From the onset it is clear Sophia is not an ordinary girl with her mental static, her reputation as the town witch and her bad luck at being around whenever strange deaths occur. Then, if things weren’t weird enough for her, she begins hearing voices, dead people and animals with sulfur-green eyes that glow in the dark. Ominous signs abound. So then the next logical progression? Enter the vampires.
Okay, so in this book they are not called vampires, but elementals. They have some creative new powers and a mythology that stems back decades. Sophia finds herself wrapped up in all this when her friend Ivory takes her to a mysterious night club. There she encounters Charles, the sexy and mysterious dream guy who of course is a paranormal creature, one she is extremely attracted to. Now the question is, how can she uncover the secrets of her past, while managing her feelings for Charles and staying alive against the forces that seek to destroy her and her love?
Buy the book to find out. The Forever Girl
has many striking similarities with Twilight
. Critics have pounced on this, calling it a rip off. However, sales alone indicate that Hamilton is merely tapping into a fad that people want. Women want the sexy and dangerous love interest; the kind, but troubled damsel in distress; and the evil, fanged antagonist. Sure, this story is similar to Twilight
, but I think that is what most readers find appealing. While reading I found myself making connections between Twilight
and this story, but it did not detract from my enjoyment. Hamilton is a clear professional. You won’t find errors, weak subplots or stilted dialog. This book reads like any you would pull off a store shelf. And the passion between Sophia and Charles? Stephenie Meyer has nothing on Hamilton. A word of caution: while the sexual references are tasteful and by no means pornographic, this book is not intended for children. It is written for “New Adults” a burgeoning category that seeks to entertain the 18-30 crowd. And those 18-30 year-olds have not been disappointed.
You can find The Forever Girl here.
You can find Rebecca Hamilton here. If you enjoyed this review you can follow Underground Book Reviews on Facebook or Twitter and subscribe to our newsletter. You can also follow Katie French on Facebook and on her website.
Title: Sarah Of The Moon Author:
Randy Mixter Genre:
Fiction, Romance Pages:
In the aftermath of the war with Afghanistan, we are taken back in time to the longest war in US history. It is a time when Paul McCartney’s Yesterday
played in juke boxes and two fingers held up in a ‘V’ formation became the official peace sign. Author Randy Mixter paints a vivid picture of the Hippies in the summer of l967 San Francisco.
After graduating from high school, Alex Conley waits for his draft notice while working as a part-time reporter at the Baltimore Sunpapers. Alex’s father sermonizes that his son will, by God, serve his country like he did in World War II. He also needs little prompting to give his less than admirable opinion of the lazy, druggies who call themselves Hippies.
Against his father’s wishes, Alex accepts a temporary assignment in San Francisco to write a weekly column about the Hippies. Alex’s boss hooks him up with his nephew, Chick, who lives in the infamous Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. Men, women and children occupy the small home, their sleeping quarters divided only by sheets draped from the ceiling.
When Alex meets Sarah, the beautiful girl who dresses in white and dances under the moonlight, he knows he has seen her in past dreams. As they begin to fall in love, Sarah tells Alex that her parents speak to her from beyond the grave and tells her of the future. And when Sarah encourages Alex to wear tennis shoes instead of sandals that become key to saving a child’s life, he becomes a believer. Alex’s columns give insight into the thoughts of those committed to world peace.
Alex and Sarah’s love affair is not the fickle flirtatious love of youth, but the kind of deep emotional love, laced with respect and acceptance, that lasts a lifetime. Quote
: “Someone said something to Sarah and she laughed. It was a beautiful sound. He knew then, in that moment, he had found a place where beauty truly existed. A place where a child of the moon danced on a summer hill in a sun washed breeze. A place where the laughter of a girl dressed in white and a windswept song not only shared the same moment, but also had the exact same sound.
“ Opinion: Sarah Of The Moon
is a beautiful, well-written story that offers much more than just a love story. It is also a fresh, insightful view as to the reasoning of those opposed to the Vietnam War. Randy Mixter gently peels back the layers of the emotional and psychological trauma surrounding the era. Mr. Mixter not only tells the story of those dedicated to saving their own generation, but of those committed to fighting for their country.
With over l9 years of US involvement in the War, and statistics stating that 58,148 American soldiers were killed in Vietnam, 61% younger than 21, even if opposed, the counter-movement is not difficult to understand. Sarah Of The Moon
is a heartfelt premise of those present day Baby Boomers once referred to in their youth as ‘Hippies.’ Recommendation:
Mr. Mixter’s ability to communicate in a thought provoking way is a rare find. Not just a novel for Baby Boomer’s, but for anyone who would enjoy an ‘up close and personal’ novel about the hopes and dreams of youth. Rating:
5 StarsYou can find Randy Mixter on Facebook and Sarah of the Moon here.
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