Friday, August 30, 2013

An Interview With Cover Artist Caroline Andrus

Thanks to this very lovely lady, the Tallenmere series got some shiny new covers this year. Let's grill Caroline Andrus about all things bookish!

Thanks for visiting my blog, Caroline! Tell the good people about yourself, like where you're from and what you do when you're not designing covers.

Thanks for having me, Mysti! I was born and raised in good ol' Minnesnowta erm... I mean, Minnesota! In addition to the book covers I design, I also maintain the websites and Facebook pages for Melange Books (, Fire and Ice Young Adult Books ( and the website for Paranormal Romance author S. C. Dane ( I also format books for Kindle and have recently become in charge of acquisitions for the Young Adult/New Adult books over at Fire and Ice.

When I'm not working with books, I can be found at home with my husband and our two daughters. I also spend my weekends handing out samples at the local Target stores. In between all the working and family time, I love reading, catching up on my favorite TV shows and my new love, gardening!

I also have two blogs - the first began as an attempt to "domesticate" myself and has turned into somewhat of a cooking blog, with some cleaning and gardening thrown in for good measure. The second for book reviews. They can be found here: Tales of an (Almost) Domestic Goddess ( Books? Yes Please! (

Can you walk us through the process of a typical book cover design project?

Buy it HERE!
Each author is asked to fill out a questionnaire about their book. Unfortunately, I'm not a quick enough reader to be able to read every book that I design for. I wish!

Once the questionnaire is in my hands I look it over, figure out what the book is about and ideally, an idea pops right into my head. Oftentimes an author will have a very clear vision of what they want and it's my job to decide whether that idea can work or not.

Once I have an idea in my head, the hunt begins. I scour the stockart websites looking for images that fit what's in my head. When I find images that I think could possibly work, I save the watermarked comp images in a folder for that particular cover design project and then bring them all into Photoshop.

This is where the real fun begins, I get to lay out the images, play around with layers and effects. Play around with the fonts. It's amazing how important a font is for a book. You can't use the same font on a Chic Lit that you would use on a Horror novel!

When the comp (or first draft) is completed, I send it to the author and cross my fingers that they like it. Sometimes we get it right on the first try, other times the idea is scrapped and we start over from scratch, but more often than not, we play around with the first cover comp and tweak it. Maybe change the font type or color, play around with the placement, change out an image. I don't know about other artists, but I love when an author comes back and says, "I like it.... but this particular element doesn't fit with the book" - that's something that I need to hear to since I haven't had the chance to read the book.
Buy it HERE!
Once the author and I have agreed on a design I go ahead and purchase the stock art images and put the official cover together, mimicking the comp cover. I send it to the author to look over, find out if they want any final changes, and then we're done!
Some covers take a couple of hours, others can take weeks. Every project is different and for me, that is what makes my job so fun!
At any given time, I have at least two covers in production. At the time of this interview I have just recently completed about 3 covers and have another 5 in the works.

Approximately how many covers would you say you've designed?

Oh boy! I have to go look because I don't even have a guess! 
It looks like I've designed around 100 different covers since 2011. 

What covers have been some of your favorite to design?

This is a hard one! This is like asking me which of my children I like best!
OK, if I had to pick a few of my favorites, I guess I would have to go with "A Ranger's Tale" by you of course, we put a lot of time and effort into that one and I think the end result is absolutely stunning. It doesn't hurt that my favorite male model is featured on the cover (Galadin.)
Buy it HERE!
I also had so much fun with "Phoenix" by Melissa Starr. There were so many layers of different elements just piled onto that Photoshop file that sometimes it seemed like Photoshop might crash!
"Wind and Shadow" by Tori Ridgewood is another of my favorites, it looks simple, but we put a lot of time into it, perfecting it.
"Margot" by Laura Hogg is another favorite. It was one of the very fist covers I did and I just love how it turned out. 

I could keep going, but then we'd be here all day! So, I'll stop there. But there are so many more that I just love and am so proud of. 

What genres of books do you typically read?

I'm a sucker for YA. Specifically paranormal romance. The Harry Potter series has a permanent home on my bookshelf (as do the movies in my DVD collection!) along with The Vampire Academy series and Bloondlines series, both by Richelle Mead, The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, The Mediator series and 1-800-Missing series both by Meg Cabot. I also really enjoy the indie released series new adult romance Significance by Shelly Crane. And yes, I am a Twilight fan. 

Grab the nearest book. Give us the title, author, and first line:

"Shadowland" book 1 of The Mediator series by Meg Cabot.
First line: "They told me there'd be palm trees." 
(And what does it tell you that I knew that was the first line without even opening the book???)

Time for a random question, taken from one of my kids' favorite books, called "Would You Rather-Radically Repulsive":
Would you a supervillian called "The Mime" who can mime objects into reality or a supervillian called "The Doorman" (weapons involve keys and doorknobs, and fighting style involves a lot of opening and closing doors).
I would TOTALLY be The Mime! How fun would that be? Wait.... do I automatically die if I speak or something? Hmm... that might not be such a good supervillian for me to be, considering I like to talk... like... a lot!

 Thanks so much for stopping in, Caroline. I hope you can visit again!

Thanks for having me! I'd love to stop by again in the future!

Visit Caroline Andrus Designs -
And "like" my Facebook page -

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Review of "Salem's World" by TD Jones

Salem's WorldSalem's World by T.D. Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the outside,Salem Richmond looks like she's got it all together. At close to forty, she's a rich, physically fit, single, red-headed bombshell who owns her family's successful PR firm. Yet, behind closed doors, Salem's life is anything but grand. Menopause has struck her early, giving her terrible hot flashes and raging sexual desire. Many mornings, she's waking up beside men like Bucky, a young bartender who she brought back to her mansion for a night of forgotten pleasures.

Bad as these things are, they don't compare to the inner tormoil she's suffered for over a decade. Fourteen years ago, Salem lost her parents and nearly lost her younger sister, Cassie, to a horrific car wreck. Since then, Cassie has been locked in time, still believing she's sixteen and not understanding that their parents are dead. Salem's racked with guilt over not having gone with them on the trip and over having to put Cassie in the hands of other caregivers. Salem desperately wants her sister's mind unlocked from its mental prison.

Enter Dr. Mark Graves, a talented physician who specializes in mental disorders. Salem decides to meet with him and eventually convinces him (via a promise to fund a new mental health wing at the hospital) to join her and Cassie at their family's old cabin to see if he can finally reach Cassie and bring her back. What happens in the meantime is what Salem both wants and dreads. While Mark tries to help Cassie, Salem falls head over heels in love with him.

I have to say that what I love most in this book is the multi-tiered love story that unfolds along the way. Salem is a complex, but utterly sympathetic heroine. She can be brash and impulsive, but is generous and genuinely loves her sister and their parents' company. She even goes out of her way to help young Bucky, the one-night-stand bartender who's had some hard knocks in life. Mark is a widower who lost his wife of ten years to cancer. He's also a physician who sincerely cares for his patients and wants to do right by the new hospital wing and by Salem. He loves her as a man should, not just for a quick romp in the hay. This is a new kind of love for both of them, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it unfold.

Salem's World is another great read from Texas author TD Jones. I really had only one nitpick. With some tighter editing, it would have shined even brighter, but the story and characters themselves were solid. If you enjoy a contemporary romance filled with a multi-layered love story that will tug at your heartstrings, grab your copy of Salem's World today!

View all my reviews

A Review of "The Twelfth Paladin" by Nora Weston

The Twelfth PaladinThe Twelfth Paladin by Nora Weston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When you play with fire, you're gonna get burned. Nora Weston's paranormal romantic thriller, The Twelfth Paladin, takes that timely mantra to a whole new level.

Jake Cottrell has led a rough life. His mother left him and his drunken father years ago, and he's been stuck with alcoholic "Tony" since then. Jake's passions now as a young man are dirt-bike racing and self-destruction. If there's trouble about, Jake is usually part of it.

Enter Davis Travers, a local heart surgeon and general a-hole. Even though Jake hates him, when Davis invites him to his enormous mansion, he takes him up on the offer. There, Davis entices Jake with a VERY erotic website, promising more if Jake keeps in touch.

Soon after, Jake receives an email from the mysterious They promise he'll receive a hot toy if only he'll respond "yes". Since Jake never turns down trouble, he engages and meets the most alluring temptress he's ever encountered by the name of Rachel Darnell.

From there, Jake embarks on a journey full of temptation and life and death struggles brought to him straight from Hell itself. His saving grace is that an angel by the name of Micah has scarred him with angelfire, in the hopes of turning Jake into his 12th paladin, a holy, angelic warrior. Slowly, but surely, Jake develops abilities and becomes more aware of the goodness within he's tried so hard to bury, which comes in very handy when he's forced into epic battle with some of Hell's denizens.

That's what had me rooting for Jake the most--the fact that he's not perfect and noble. He's a very flawed character, but he has a good heart. I loved that he tried his best to care for his alcoholic father, even though he had every right to leave Tony far behind. I loved that he stepped in numerous times to help innocent people, even though he'd turn right around and make another mistake. I loved his bumpy journey from self-destructive jerk to imperfect angel-warrior. And I really loved that he recognized true love when he found it, though it was hard for him to break away from Rachel's demonic grip.

The only thing that I can nitpick was that every viewpoint character talked to him- or herself a lot, either with inner thoughts or out loud. It felt unnatural. I'd have rather seen most of that information in straight narrative.

Overall, though, from page one, I was drawn into Jake Cottrell's horrific and heroic journey and am glad the ending (which I won't give away) leaves him open for future adventures.

I recommend this book for adults who love paranormal, angel/demon stories and don't mind some sizzling (though not very explicit) sex scenes. Buy this book and take a harrowing ride with Jake Cottrell. You'll be glad you did!

View all my reviews

A Review of "Freaky Flashes" by Various Authors

Freaky FlashesFreaky Flashes by Lee Brazil
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Freaky Flashes is a collection of 13 erotic paranormal flash fiction stories. With each tale weighing in at ~1000 words or less, it made for a quick read. The cover might suggest it is more appropriate for the Halloween season, but the stories lend themselves to reading at any time of year.

I enjoyed the collection for the most part. Each story reflected the unique voice and genre of the different authors. Several were good and kept me turning the Kindle pages. My very favorite was "Strength's Curse" by SJ Thomas.

However, some of the stories felt unfinished and left me confused, as though they might have been pieces of a larger work. "That Special Feeling" by Raven McAllan, for instance, left me completely confused as to what happened at the end. It's quite possible that these stories contained characters that the fans of the authors would already be familiar with, so I'd encourage them to read this collection!

The other thing I wanted more of in this anthology was variety. I'm not against homoerotic literature, though I'm not a big fan of it. The first three stories and a few others were all centered on gay males. I'd have liked them mixed up better, even throwing in more paranormal characters like shifters and aliens.

Overall, this anthology provided a quick, exciting read and would be appropriate for erotica fans, particularly those who enjoy paranormal short stories.

View all my reviews

A Review of "The Unwanted Heiress" by Olivia Ritch

The Unwanted HeiressThe Unwanted Heiress by Olivia Ritch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This regency novella by Olivia Ritch proves that even the most desirable woman can have a hard time finding real love.

Adriana Lizonby is a new heiress, having inherited her father's fortune. She just arrived in London from her country home to stay with her aunt, who is determined to find her a husband. At 21, she'll soon be labeled an old maid if she doesn't take some vows soon.

The trouble is, her poor old aunt dresses Adriana like the bride of Frankenstein, and even with her vast wealth, the men at all the soirees aren't interested. Adriana has had enough and decides to go out on her own to buy some decent clothes and have her hair done properly, which would have been completely normal in this day and age. Unfortunately, instead of looking like a lady after her makeover, Adriana resembles a rich man's mistress.

Enter Jason Hume, Earl of Coldesdowne, who just happens to stop in for a haircut. He's instantly attracted to Adriana, who's instantly flattered by his attentions, except she doesn't realize why. She fears he might be attracted to her because of her title, so she gives him a fake name. He asks her to accompany him to the races, where they spend a fabulous and flirtatious day together. It's not until Jason and she attend the same party, that she realizes the kind of woman he thought he was dealing with. Now the question is: Was their attraction for each other real or a complete waste of time for both of them?

Normally, I'm not a fan of naive heroines in romance, but in this case, Ms. Ritch portrays Adriana's ignorance well. After all, the young woman spent her life in the country, far from London's tricky social stigmas. She's much more accustomed to a cow pasture than Bond Street.

The only things I could really nitpick were that the story felt like it wrapped up much too quickly. The characters should have worked harder for the resolution, and Jason just didn't grow on me as a good hero in such a short amount of time.

However, for a quick read, you'll love Olivia Ritch's beautiful language and attention to time-period detail. I'd recommend this book to any regency romance fans out there. Go grab a copy today!

View all my reviews

A Review of "The Priestess, The Protector" by J Andrew Jansen

The Priestess, the ProtectorThe Priestess, the Protector by J. Andrew Jansen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you're looking for a great fantasy read that's appropriate for young and old alike, this is it. I had the pleasure of watching this story unfold as it was written, and fell in love from page one.

Mirian is a young priestess who's trying hard to please her goddess and mentors in the temple where she lives. She's content with her life of prayer, blood-letting, and healing. But, one day, she is sent on an urgent mission to heal a noble in a town some distance away. Her adoptive father, Priest Neijen, gives her a super-secret package that must only be opened in case of emergency. Little does Mirian know that its contents, and this journey, will forever change the course of her life and the world she knows.

After a terrifying event (which I won't tell about you because you have to read it for yourself), she runs into a drifter named Jerok. Despite being rather shifty, he's handsome, charming, and helpful enough that Mirian has no other choice than to let him come to her aid.

Determined to complete her mission no matter what, Mirian and Jerok continue toward the town and the sick noble. It's during their journey together that they meet the elf Llaewyn and the dwarf Traunick. And these two know something about Mirian that no one could have guessed.

From the start, this story hooked me, but it was the characters who kept me reading. Poor Mirian at first is so naive and stubborn, having known only life in her temple and the small town she grew up in. She learns a lot along the way and grows into a strong heroine. Jerok has his own demons to battle while trying to protect Mirian. And the supporting characters of Llaewyn, who I can only describe as a lovable a&&&hole, and Traunick the fatherly dwarf, are a perfect odd couple in their own right.

Their stories and paths all intertwine to form a thick thread that leads to a much bigger conflict. And there's a nice element of romance between Mirian and Jerok that I, of course, just loved. It's a great first novel that I'd recommend to fantasy lovers of all ages. Give it a try!

View all my reviews

A Review of "The Grave Winner" by Lindsey R Loucks

The Grave Winner (The Grave Winner #1)The Grave Winner by Lindsey R. Loucks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had the privilege of watching this book unfold from its early drafts. And I'm so happy I stumbled upon Lindsey and her awesome debut YA novel. I hadn't read much in the YA department, but when I found this story at Critique Circle, I knew it was a "winner"!

The heroine of the story, Leigh, is a bit of an Emo girl, dresses in black, and hates the cheerleading crowd. But, she's a loyal big sister and daughter, and has to grow up considerably after her mom's recent death. It's actually at her mom's graveside service that Leigh witnesses the prom queen's grotesque resurrection. And all Leigh knows from that moment on is that, no matter how much she misses her mom, if something freaky is happening in that graveyard, she doesn't want her to come back like that.

As soon as the prom queen came back from the dead, it became obvious that this story was more than your typical teenage-angst novel. Oh, there's angst, all right. The beauty of Ms. Loucks's writing is that she so easily weaves the reality of teenage life into the paranormal happenings that Leigh and the whole town are facing.

While doing her best to keep her mom resting in peace, Leigh is battling the forces of young love. She's torn between her best friend's older brother Callum, and this handsome young graveyard caretaker named Tram. We fall in love with Leigh while she negotiates the rough waters of teenage hormones, trying to find her place in her diminished family and high school, AND trying to keep the dead where they should be.

Lindsey Loucks' writing is witty, gritty, and fast-paced enough to keep you turning the pages. It's a fantastic debut novel that I highly recommend for any YA or paranormal romance fans! And I hear tell that she's working on the next installment...I'll bug her until she finishes it!

View all my reviews

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Review of "Kings of Under-Castle" by Michael B Fletcher

Kings of Under-CastleKings of Under-Castle by Michael B. Fletcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love anthologies, especially when they fit within the speculative realms and contain quirky, humorous characters. Kings of Under-Castle was all that and more.

To be honest, at first I didn't think I would enjoy these tales very much. I mean, how do you fall in love with two very odd characters--one a ravenous ogre of a man (Pickel), and the other (Weasle)a gangly fellow with snaggle-teeth--who live (in all places) in the sewers that serve the castle of their kingdom?

Well, never fear, readers! Pickel and Weasle WILL grow on you, despite the smell. Though they never venture that far from the castle, Michael B. Fletcher manages to provide them with an amazing variety of exploits. One minute, you're wincing at Weasle's failures in the love department, and the next, you're laughing because they've just outsmarted the castle's stuffy courtier again.

Each of the stories are short and complete enough on their own to read in spurts, yet they're all connected into one larger story. I hope you'll pick up a copy of this anthology. You may have to hold your nose at first, but soon, you'll get used to the smell, and will love joining Pickel and Weasle on their adventures!

View all my reviews

A Review of "Legacy of the Dragonkin" by Dan Wright

Legacy of the DragonkinLegacy of the Dragonkin by Dan Wright
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Last year, I read the first book in Dan Wright's manga-inspired series. 'Trapped on Draconica' was a great introduction into this genre for me. I was especially surprised with just how much action and intensity each page contained. I think I described its pace as something like running a marathon while on amphetamines.

'Legacy of the Dragonkin' continues at much the same urgent pace. Ten years or so have passed since the first book. Daniar Dragonkin is now Queen of the land, married to Prince Kalak, whom she fell in love with in the previous story. They have a son, Benji, who desperately wants to follow in his mother's footsteps and be a brave warrior like she is, complete with her dragonkin abilities (flying, super-strength, fire power, etc). Unfortunately, for Benji, it appears that he's not been gifted with his mother's talents. Add to that disappointment his mother's over-protectiveness and his father's growing discontent and jealousy of Daniar's role, and you've got a family that's really struggling. Especially when Benji's impulsive nature gets out of control...

This depth is what I enjoyed most about 'Legacy'. The first book was certainly enjoyable, but the author really seemed to get a handle on these characters in this installment. I was much better able to connect with their emotions and inner conflicts this time around. I honestly didn't know who to trust half the time. I loved that the story kept me guessing.

The level of action is still much the same. New (and more powerful) enemies emerge as soon as others are defeated. If you're not familiar with the genre, the constant turnover may come across as cheesy and overdone, but from what I've learned of manga stories, it fits quite well. It's clear that Dan Wright has a handle on his chosen genre.

The main issue I had with the story was not being clear on the timing of past and current events. Some things that happened felt out of place. However, I did read an advanced copy, so it's very possible those issues were tightened in final edits.

My final verdict: If you (or your teen) are a fan of Manga and/or fantasy, you'll want to grab a copy of this and Trapped on Draconica. If you'd like the accompanying artwork, you may want to get the paperback copies that will be ready in August. Until then, grab an e-copy for a story that will leave you breathless and worn out--in a good way!

View all my reviews

A Review of "Rescued by a Duke" by Ruth J Hartman

Rescued by a DukeRescued by a Duke by Ruth J. Hartman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ruth Hartmans's recent foray into Regency romance has proven successful. I'm so glad I got the chance to read Rescued by a Duke. Though it started out quite dirty...literally.

Sasha Douglas fell into an abandoned well while trying to avoid going to debtor's prison as punishment for her dead brother's debts. Cold, dirty, and injured, she fears no one will hear her screaming for help. But, her prayers are answered as the property owner happens by on his horse, none other than Garrett Rothchild Canterbury, the Duke of Ravensworth.

Garrett feels so guilty about Sasha falling into his well that he takes her back to his home and ensures she is nursed back to health. His parents are dead and his brother is a prodigal son, so Garrett's been running the estate alone. He never had the time or heart to think of marriage. But, fate brought Sasha into his life. Their growing romance is funny, sweet, and touching, but having been lied to so often by her brother, Sasha demands nothing but honesty now. And Garrett's secrets may tear them apart for good.

This story proved to be a quick and lovely read. If I fell into a well, I'd want none other than Garrett to come to my rescue. He's so kind-hearted, you can't help but fall in love with him along with Sasha. And of course, there's Douglas the cat, who provides at least one side-splitting moment. I can always count on Ruth to add a quirky feline to her stories!

The only gripe I had was with the climax. It didn't come as much of a surprise, though the emotions and impact were still there. In fact, I admired how Ruth explored some really heavy issues, while keeping the basic atmosphere of the story lighthearted.

For a sweet romance full of emotion, laughs, and an ending that brings out the "Awww" in you, I highly recommend this book! Go grab a copy today!

View all my reviews

A Review of In Gods' Hands by Jessa Callaver

In Gods' HandsIn Gods' Hands by Jessa Callaver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've never been a huge fan of erotic fiction, and not because I dislike the graphic love scenes. Quite the contrary. In many cases, I simply find the theme and plot to be lacking and the intimate scenes to be nauseatingly detailed.

But, Jessa Callaver's short erotic fiction has grown on me. In this particular story, I immediately empathized with the heroine, Cassie, a college-dropout who moved to Italy in hopes of finding a good time. What she got, on the other hand, was caught up in an abusive relationship with no hopes of ever bettering herself. Jessa portrays this theme of emptiness and self-loathing so well that it's palpable. Instead of being inclined to roll our eyes at Cassie's mental state, we're wishing that she could turn her life around.

And then, during a particularly bawdy street festival, Jessa runs into (literally) a big hunk of an American tourist named Troy as she's driving drunk on a motor scooter. Troy seems by all appearances to be rather the knight in shining armor type, but when he and Cassie end up in his hotel room, the story takes on a life of its own. You have to read it to believe it!

I loved the twists and the tie-ins to Greco-Roman deity mythology. Up until the surprising turn of events, however, I stumbled over some confusing descriptions and language, particularly those revolving around Cassie's Italian boyfriend and his lover. The last third of the story, however, unfolded vividly and smoothly and led to a satisfying (and just) ending.

As far as the intimate scenes, Jessa writes these with ease. They're neither clunky, nor overly graphic. I think Jessa's got a lot more surprises in store for the romantica movement. I'll definitely be on the watch for her next move.

For a quick, erotic read with mythologic flair, grab a copy of In Gods' Hands today!

View all my reviews

A Review of "Cats & Cowboys" by Ruth J Hartman

Cats and CowboysCats and Cowboys by Ruth J. Hartman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cats and Cowboys is perfect for a quick read at bedtime or on your lunch break. Lanna is a single city girl who's just moved to a sleepy Texas town with her fat cat Gordon in tow. She manages the local post office and experiences quite a few quirky characters during her first few weeks. They're tolerable enough, but when grumpy cowboy Jackson arrives, sparks (and fur) flies. Sure, Jackson's hotter than the Texas summer, but he's about as lovable as a Brillo pad. Worse yet, he equates cats to nameless rodent-killers. A relationship with Lanna doesn't seem possible where Gordon is concerned.

Thanks to an encounter with a cow and...nope, I won't give anything else away. You have to read it for yourself to see if love can reconcile the differences between cat and cowboy!

If you enjoy sweet romance, you'll love this and anything Ruth J. Hartman writes. If you're also a cat lover, you'll be addicted to her work. Go grab your copy today!

View all my reviews

A Review of "You Can't Go Home Again" by Aubrianna Hunter

You Can't Go Home AgainYou Can't Go Home Again by Aubrianna Hunter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you need need to spice up your reading time, you'll want to pick up Aubrianna Hunter's 'You Can't Go Home Again'. This contemporary erotic romance will have you fanning yourself in no time.

It all begins with Danielle Foster, who has quite the dilemma. Life's been great for her in L.A., working in the film industry and making a name for herself. So different from her previous life in a small Texas town. Though her parents are long dead, most of Danielle's childhood and college friends are still back in Texas. And one of them, Jenn, her BEST friend, is getting married. She wants Danielle to be her maid of honor. Danielle can't turn her down, but the thought of facing Jason Bradford after five years is almost more than she can take.

Danielle (or Dani as her friends call her) and Jason (Jace)were once part of a close-knit circle of friends, until something happened between the two that sent Danielle running to L.A. None of the others know what happened, but as soon as Dani arrives back in town to help prepare for the wedding, it soon becomes clear to everyone that she and Jason have some unresolved issues.

Aubrianna Hunter takes us with Dani and Jace on their tumultuous journey. Be prepared to dive straight into some steamy waters. From the prologue, until the end, the sizzling passion and conflict between these two will keep your heart racing and the pages turning.

I have to admit being aggravated with Dani and Jace for their ongoing stubbornness and refusal to come clean earlier in the story. However, when things finally came to light and the climax emerged, their complexity and vulnerability became clearer and helped me to sympathize better with them until the satisfying conclusion.

I'd recommend this book for adults who enjoy a sizzling erotic read that's not overly graphic, but certainly doesn't take place behind closed doors! Grab your copy today!

View all my reviews

A Review of "All in the Mind" by Jenny Twist

All in the MindAll in the Mind by Jenny Twist
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Whenever I pick up something written by Jenny Twist, I know I'm not going to want to put it down. "All in the Mind" was no exception!

The story begins with an elderly lady named Tilly, who wakes up in an unfamiliar room decorated in shoddy 1940's furnishings. She soon discovers she's in an nursing home, and her husband Johnny is there as well, partially paralyzed from a stroke. Tilly and several other patients are part of a new and unconventional Alzheimer's treatment that involves immersing them in the surroundings from their younger days.

Soon, she and Johnny are moved back into the home where their life together began, and that's where something truly amazing begins. There in that cozy cottage in the English countryside, not only are Tilly's and Johnny's memories resurrected, but so is their youth!

Before you assume this is just another "adults become kids again" story, think again. Tilly and Johnny aren't the only ones changing. It seems the lives of their current friends are mimicking those of their loved ones from the past. You're left to wonder if its just this elderly couple changing, if the time/space continuum is shifting, or if everything is just a coincidence.

Well, you'll have to read it to find out. Rest assured that Jenny Twist delivers a timeless love story that's truly unique and compelling. The characters' lives and beautiful romance is described in such heartwarming, vivid detail that you fall instantly in love with them.

There are several scenes from the middle to the end that involve the secondary characters, and at first, I wondered what these really had to do with the main story. Luckily, Jenny wrapped it all up in a lovely, neat package that is sure to please every lover of sweet romance. Grab a copy today!

View all my reviews

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Back to School Means New Goals!

All of my kiddos are now in school full time. This means no little ones left at home for me to take care of for several hours during the week. It also means I have to set goals for what I'm going to do with myself in this new phase of life. And that leaves me a little excited, and unfortunately a little depressed.

Well, screw depression. I've suffered from it for too long, and I HATE depression. There. I said it. Depression sucks the holy living life right out of me. It's such a freaking selfish disease. It imprisons me in this "woe is me" mode that doesn't allow me to see the big picture and all the good people and things in my life. It keeps me from any potential success by telling me I'll fail if I try.

Here's a visual of what depression feels like, if you've never experienced it:

Once it arrives, it grabs hold and digs in like barbed wire, unwilling to let me out of its dire outlook. The bouts are fewer and less severe than before I began treatment, but it still pops up from time to time.

And you know what?

Darn right, depression. I have kids, house, and husband to take care of and so many things to write that I don't have time to mope around and be bummed out by your little impromptu visits. So, I'm setting goals to take better care of myself, and I'm writing them here so that I can feel more accountable. From henceforth, I shall try to...

1. Exercise more.
2. Eat better.
3. Sleep better.
4. Stay focused on fewer tasks at a time.
5. Narrow down commitments to what really needs attention or what I really want to achieve. This includes slowly acquiring part-time PAYING work in the hopes that I'll get back into the working world now that my kids are all in school. 
6. Say "no" more often.
7. Less useless browsing online. If I don't have an immediate reason to be surfing, then I need to get my butt up and do something productive.
8. Keep things clean around here, so it's not piled up and overwhelming me. This includes delegating more tasks more consistently to husband and kids.
9. Declutter. If I don't love or need it, then out it goes. This includes my email inbox, which I've managed to whittle down from >15,000 messages to < 5,000 in the last two days. 
10. Better time management. This means keeping better track of events/due dates by utilizing notes, my smart phone calendar/alarm, and asking others to remind me of things.

Whether I accomplish said goals is yet to be seen, but having a written plan is a good way to start any endeavor. All of you reading this are allowed to slap me back onto track when you see me breaking any of these goals. 

Until next time, here's to a healthier me and new successes just around the corner. ~Mysti

Sunday, August 11, 2013

NEW CONTEST for September: What's Your Food Story?


From farm to plate, every food tells a story. So, what's your food story?

I bet most of us don't have to think too hard to recall a fond memory that involved food. Maybe it was your aunt's oh-so-spicy chili that made everyone race to the bathroom at the family reunion.

Or perhaps it was your mama's biscuit recipe that you made as a newlywed and thoroughly impressed your new husband. (Or you might have burned them and cried like I did.)

When I was a kid, I remember Sunday dinners at my granny's house and her famous "porcupine meatballs". The kids were usually banished to the living room and left to fight over the most coveted seats, like the sofa. I don't think I ever graduated from sitting on the floor. At least I had those meatballs for solace.

YOUR assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to tell me a story involving one of your favorite foods or recipes. AND, I want you to share the recipe / where we can purchase it, etc. The story can be fictitious or completely truthful or somewhere in between. Twain it up all you wish!

You've got a few options on how to present your food story & recipe. It can be in these formats:

  1. Written
  2. Video
  3. Combination of both
The FIRST PLACE winner will have their recipe prepared by me and/or my hubby on video (or we'll do a product review if it's a prepared food we can purchase), and there will be lots of other food-related prizes for 1st, 2nd, AND 3rd place.

"Man, have I got
a story for you!
Let's get specific and throw in some rules:

  1. This contest is open to ALL writers, no matter the experience level, published or not.
  2. Stories (not including recipes) should be NO MORE than 1,000 words
  3. Videos should be NO MORE than 30 minutes in length (think Rachael Ray).
  4. NO graphic sex, language, or violence. Mild profanity, hanky-panky, and violence are ok. If you're in doubt, ask me.
  5. Deadline for entries is September 30, 2013 at midnight. ***DEADLINE EXTENDED***
    TO FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2013 Any stories submitted after that will NOT be considered.
  6. Beginning September 1, stories/recipes will be posted on my blog in the order they are received. If you wish to submit your story to another publication after this contest, you may request me to NOT publish it unless you win. Some publications do not accept "published" stories (this includes those posted on blogs).
  7. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners WILL be posted. 
  8. Prizes - TBA
  9. Along with your story/recipe, you may submit an author bio (45-100 words), profile pic, and contact links (Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc).
  10. Please submit ALL entries to me at: with My Food Story in the subject line. 
I'm excited to see what you all come up with. Enjoy!! ~Mysti