Monthly Archives: September 2015

A Note on this Blog

My regular readers will have noticed that my posting schedule (almost always five days a week) has gone off the rails. Way off. My husband is seriously ill and this has upended my social media activities–and life in general. I am now revisiting both the frequency and the content of my blogging, so that I can balance an active and hopefully interesting blog with my family responsibilities.  I’m happy to say I expect to be back on track by next week.

On the plus side (there’s always a plus side), my break from all things online left me some serious reading time, so I’ll have a bunch of new book reviews to share, as well as my two newest features–Meet the Author and This Literary Life.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

Carrie Ann Lahain

Review: MAMARAZZI

A photographer forced to make her living as a member of the paparazzi unexpectedly finds herself on the other side of the camera lens and facing the sort of exposure that could ruin her career and her new relationship with a famous actor.

Mamarazzi

Mamarazzi

Danica Bennett has had a rough life. She gets her love of photography from her mom, who raised her alone and now suffers early-onset Alzheimer’s. Paying for her mother’s care is one of the main reasons Danica continues working in a profession that undermines her moral and artistic ideals. The one person who might have been able to give her a hand up in Hollywood, an actress cousin, doesn’t want to know her. At least not until Danica falls into a role on a hot new situation comedy and becomes a popular up-and-coming actress in her own right.

Of course, if Danica’s past publicly exposing fellow celebrities peccadilloes gets out–she’s toast. Not that she’s so in love with acting. But she may very well be in love with her handsome co-star Eliot Lane. There’s a lot of excitement and tension as Danica’s plan to silence the one person who knows her secret backfires and puts her into the power of someone even more vindictive and volatile.

MAMARAZZI is funny, fast-paced, and full of twists. I didn’t predict the resolution, but even though it was unexpected, it made perfect sense. My only issue with the book is that I found Eliot’s character a bit underutilized. He’s a great guy, but we needed more of him. He kind of fades into the background for the middle of the book, but he is pivotal to the ending.

Even so, if you enjoy well-plotted, clean contemporary romances, you’ll enjoy this book.

Matt Abraham: “My First Review Troll”

For a writer, there’s nothing like the punch in the gut that comes with our very first one-star review. When that review is grossly malicious? It definitely twists the knife that much deeper. In today’s installment of This Literary Life, author Matt Abraham talks about his first review troll and how he turned the tables on her–sort of.

“My First Review Troll”                                                                                                                                       by Matt Abraham

Candid of Matt Abraham, author

Author Matt Abraham

For those of you who don’t know I got my first Amazon review troll this week, and subsequently went through the following 3 stages… before exacting revenge. WARNING: this isn’t for the squeamish, and if you’re a follower or a personal friend I hope I don’t lose you, or your respect. But sometimes we got to do what we got to do:

Stage 1: The Reaction

I’ll admit, once I got my first review troll I was excited. But that quickly that turned to rage. Who the hell gives a one star rating without even reading the book? Trolls, that’s who. So I decided not to take this lying down, I was going to hunt my troll. So I went on her Amazon page, and looked at all the things she bought, and I kid you not I found her real name. I found her work place. I found her address, and her email address. I even found a picture (don’t look at me like that, I write detective novels, what did you expect?). Now the only question is, “What would I do with this information?” The answer is scheme.

Stage 2: The Scheming

So as I lay in bed that night, scheming like a champ, I came up with three possible acts of vengeance:

1. Email her and avail myself to her human side, making my case politely, and asking her to take down the unfair trolling review. Maybe I’d quote God or something.

2. Email her and threaten to cook her children if she didn’t take down the unfair trolling review. Maybe I’d quote God or something.

3. Join Ashely Madison and every swinger site there is under her real name, get a good following, then ask for dick pics and porn and give out her work address.

As you can imagine I chose to go with option 3. Does that make me a bad person?

Stage 3: The Execution

So the next morning I hopped back onto my Amazon page, and looked up my troll. It was time to exact some sweet revenge. But here’s the thing; right above her nefarious vitriol sat seven reviews from independent book bloggers, and each one was really kind. And I remembered how they made me feel, and that general happiness outweighed my righteous anger. It also reminded me of the old saw in fiction: everybody’s the main character of their own story. So what kind of main character did I want to be? A villain, or a hero?
I knew the answer. So I put my dreams of revenge aside.
But I still needed closure. And then it hit me, and I smiled as I pressed ‘edit’ and added Dorothy A’s comments to my editorial reviews. So now when you visit Dane Curse’s Amazon page you’ll see this:

 Editorial Reviews

“Written with intelligent humor, easy dialogue, and an action-packed story line, Dane Curse is a must-read.” – Please Pass The Books

“Five stars… Filled with lots of action and humour, and will keep you engaged and entertained.” – Jael’s Reviews

“One Star- I didn’t read it…” Dorothy A. (AKA Muffiemae)

Yeah, that just feels right.

And… The Obligatory Moral

I learned a few things from the past few days of self-torment. The first is that if you fight fire with fire you just end up with more fire, and lowering yourself like that won’t make you feel better. The second is that the bullies of the ether should be afraid. It’s getting easier and easier to discover their identities, which lets us show the rest of the world the kind of people they really are. And finally, revenge may be a dish best served cold, but justice served with a smile and a pinch of irony is a hell of a lot more fun to eat.

 

Matt A. and Kal

Matt with his son Kal

Matt Abraham currently lives in China with his criminally insane cat Durden, his beautiful one month old son Kal, and his supportive wife Jenny. If you’d like more information on his (mostly) critically acclaimed novel Dane Curse you can contact him at authormattabraham@gmail.com or visit him at danecursepi.wordpress.com . Or just write to say hi, he loves that.”

Review: FOREVER CHANGED

A woman’s cancer diagnosis leads her to transform her comfortable but unfulfilled life.

Forever Changed (The Forever Series Book 1)

Forever Changed

Ariana Logan appears to have it all. She’s beautiful, well off, and is the majority owner of the most successful real estate firm in town. She also lost her mother and her older sister to breast cancer. So when she’s diagnosed with the disease, it doesn’t come as a surprise to her. It is, however, the catalyst for a complete reevaluation of her marriage and work life.

Ingram is careful to make Ariana’s transformation from privileged doormat to self-directed independent woman gradual and believable. Ariana’s support system…her grandmother, her best friend…play key roles in encouraging her to change and then supporting her fledgling attempts. Also believable is the rapid-fire attraction between Ariana and tattoo artist Blaine Bennett.

Blaine’s love-at-first-sight reaction works because Ingram delays his and Ariana’s meeting and then uses geographical separation (and a carefully plotted misunderstanding) to put the brakes on the developing relationship. This flies in the face of conventional romance fiction, where the hero and heroine are never separated for very long. It succeeds here thanks to the rich backstories Ingram provides each character. They have genuine work lives and genuine romantic pasts. This makes for more complicated characters and a richer plot.

The setting (British Columbia) provides another enjoyable dimension to the story. Ariana has a strong sensitivity to place. She appreciates the beauties of her quaint town and that is part of what makes her profession (and her success at it) seem so believable. Also, the scenes at the seaside resort where she hides away to heal and, later, reconnects with Blaine are among the best in the book.

If I have one complaint, it’s how Ingram handles Blaine’s interactions with certain supporting characters. There’s a degree of conversation rehashing that becomes noticeable and weighs down an otherwise well-paced narrative. Also, Ariana’s husband and mother-in-law come off as a bit over the top in their behavior and attitudes. Ingram adds more complexity to Jeremy by the end of the book, but his character doesn’t ring as true as the others in the cast.

On the whole, FOREVER CHANGED is a well developed story told with emotion and sensitivity.

Review: BOUND BY LIGHT

*I received an ARC of this book in return for an honest review.

A young woman moves to London after her mother’s death and is swept into the arms of a movie star who is more than he seems.

Bound by Light (Cauld Ane, #7)

Bound by Light

I’ve read all of the Cauld Ane books. It’s a great series and BOUND BY LIGHT has one of the most endearing heroines. Sydney is likable and vulnerable. She has everything anyone could want on a material level, but she’d give it all away to have her mother back.

Movie star (and Cauld Ane) Thane Allen is strong and protective without being overbearing. Though Sydney might disagree! She balks at his attempts to keep her safe from a stalker who turns out be far more dangerous and unhinged than anyone expected.

I figured out WHO the villain was early on. So did Sydney, even if she didn’t understand that she knew. The WHY behind it all did come as a surprise. Let’s just say that at its core this book is about the mother-child bond–at its best and at its worst.

The binding scene between Thane and Sydney could have been more sensual. I’m not saying Jackson should have been more graphic in her depiction of their coming together. I do think it was noticeably underwritten. Sex aside, it would have been nice to know more about what Thane and Sydney were feeling and thinking at this pivotal moment.

Also, the pacing between the 50% and 80% points lags a little as we follow Thane and Sydney from home visit to home visit to home visit. It is nice to catch up with the previous Cauld Ane couples, but all the relatives and their wonderful estates do begin to blur together.

The climax makes up for the travel section. The villain is SCARY and it’s heartbreaking when Sydney learns that her childhood memories are not the whole truth. I can’t say more without spoiling the story.

BOUND BY LIGHT is romantic and suspenseful. Five stars!