Category Archives: Reviews

Just Another Marriage of Convenience? Guest Post & Review – The Billionaire Bachelor

Indecent Proposal…


Manwhore. That’s what the board of directors-and the tabloids-thinks of billionaire bachelor Reese Crane. Ordinarily he couldn’t care less, but his playboy past is preventing the board from naming him CEO of Crane Hotels. Nothing-and no one-will keep him from his life’s legacy. They want a settled man to lead the company? Then that’s exactly what he’ll give them.

Merina Van Heusen will do anything to get her parents’ funky boutique hotel back-even marry cold-as-ice-but-sexy-as-hell Reese Crane. It’s a simple business contract-six months of marriage, absolute secrecy, and the Van Heusen is all hers again. But when sparks fly between them, their passion quickly moves from the boardroom to the bedroom. And soon Merina is living her worst nightmare: falling in love with her husband . . .




Pre-Order the other very sexy Crane Brothers…



By Jessica Lemmon

Curious about what makes Reese Crane, billionaire bachelor, the man? Lucky for us, I was able to get my latest (stubborn) hero to open up about 5 things that make him, well, him.

#5 ~ Beard trimmer. Reese is never without a sexy amount of stubble on his jaw and chin (see book cover) and this bit of dishevelment throws our heroine, Merina right off course. Reese maintains his look, never clean-faced, and never too beardy. Can you say control?

#4 ~ Scotch. Reese prefers it on the rocks, and as he tells Merina on their date one evening, “It’s always what I expect.”

#3 ~ Yacht. In case of temporary nuptials, climb aboard and hide out! But not for long. Sunrise on the deck isn’t optional for Reese—he and Merina need reporters to see them together after the wedding.

#2 ~ Sharp wit. I’m not sure whose banter is more infectious, Merina’s or Reese’s. But I promise you this: when they’re together, they are on fire!

#1 ~ The tie. Merina becomes obsessed with loosening Reese’s ever-present tie, much to the reader’s delight. As she puts it, she likes to see him come undone.

As do I, Mer. As do I. 😉



Oh the “marriage of convenience“, it’s a classic trope and one of my all-time favourites. Perhaps second only to the “best friends to lovers” one, though I am also fond of the “mortal enemies who fall for each other” one as well but I digress, I knew the moment I read the synopsis for The Billionaire Bachelor that it was just my kind of book.

Reece Crane needs a new image like yesterday, what would be the best way to get the board to take him seriously as a candidate for the soon to be available position of CEO? A wife, of course. Reece has no intention of making himself vulnerable for anyone, not again but he knows how to make a deal and he has something that Merina Van Heusen wants… badly.

The Billionaire Bachelor is perfect summer reading with likeable characters, even if Reece did overreact just a teensy bit but then again if he didn’t there would be no story. If you are in the mood for a romance with low angst (always a plus in my book) and intelligent driven characters then Jessica Lemmon’s latest is for you. You will enjoy it, I did.


A former job-hopper, Jessica Lemmon resides in Ohio with her husband and rescue dog. She holds a degree in graphic design currently gathering dust in an impressive frame. When she’s not writing super-sexy heroes, she can be found cooking, drawing, drinking coffee (okay, wine), and eating potato chips. She firmly believes God gifts us with talents for a purpose, and with His help, you can create the life you want.



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My Final Thoughts on “The Austen Project” by teachergirl73

GUEST POST – teachergirl73

It’s finally over. After three years and three novels, I can officially consider this experiment in fan fiction complete. What I have I learned about this experience? That if you are going to tackle a classic, especially a piece of work written by Jane Austen, you had better have an unparalleled understanding of the original work before you get started.


Val McDermid’s re-interpretation of Northanger Abbey has been the most successful in my opinion. To read my views on Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope and Emma by Alexander McCall Smith, check out the links below to my previous posts on Penny Dreadful Book Reviews:

NASYNOPSIS – Cat Morland is ready to grow up. A homeschooled minister’s daughter in the quaint, sheltered Piddle Valley in Dorset, she loses herself in novels and is sure there is a glamorous adventure awaiting her beyond the valley’s narrow horizon. So imagine her delight when the Allens, neighbors and friends of her parents, invite her to attend the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh as their guest. With a sunny personality, tickets every night and a few key wardrobe additions courtesy of Susie Allen, Cat quickly begins to take Edinburgh by storm and is taken into the bosom of the Thorpe family, particularly by eldest daughter Bella. And then there’s the handsome Henry Tilney, an up-and-coming lawyer whose family home is the beautiful and forbidding Northanger Abbey. Cat is entranced by Henry and his charming sister Eleanor, but she can’t help wondering if everything about them is as perfect as it seems. Or has she just been reading too many novels?



McDermid’s version of Northanger Abbey was quite enjoyable for the most part. She relocated the story from Bath to Edinburgh in August during the festival season, which was the perfect backdrop for the mystery and intrigue that Catherine Moreland, or Cat is searching for. McDermid did a great job of resettling Austen’s characters in the 21st century.  McDermid seems to have stayed fairly true to form, clearly establishing Cat’s naivety and lack of worldly experience with the polar opposite gold-digging, scheming Thorpe siblings and the oppressed Tilney children, trapped by an over-bearing, dictatorial father.

Northanger-Abbey-009Cat has led a very sheltered life, the daughter of a vicar and home-schooled by her mother, her only escape to adventure is through her love of gothic novels. Cat’s first real-life adventure away from home comes when she gets invited to join family friends, the Allens, on a trip to Edinburgh for the Festival. Edinburgh in August is hopping and Cat is in her glory as she gets to explore the Festival, the city and along the way, she meets some new friends. Cat encounters Bella Thorpe and her family, and the two girls become fast friends. Cat’s older brother James and Bella’s brother John decide to join the party in Edinburgh and Cat begins to see her older brother through the eyes of others as she discovers that James is already well-acquainted with the Thorpe family since he went to school with John, a character who is completely self-obsessed and who turns up everywhere that Cat goes. Bella sets her sights on capturing James’ heart, and John assumes that through his sheer force of will he can make Cat his own, despite the fact that Cat does not return his affection.

There is one person that Cat wishes were around more and that is Henry Tilney. She first meets Henry at a dance class, and from that moment on, Cat can’t get Henry out of her head. Cat also gets to meet Henry’s sister Ellie, who’s friendship she comes to appreciate as it not only provides Cat access to Henry, but Cat quickly realizes just how much they share in common. As Cat jumps between spending time with Bella, James and the every-increasingly annoying John, and the Tilney siblings, finds herself juggling new emotions along with her time as she tries to keep everyone happy.

As Cat becomes increasingly uncomfortable with the excessive flirtation between her soon to be sister-in-law and Freddie Tilney, the incorrigible player, she is given an opportunity  to further her own desires. Cat is invited to get away from the scene in Edinburgh by Ellie and Henry Tilney who invite her to come and stay at their family ancestral home Northanger Abbey. Cat jumps at the chance to spend more time with Henry, who she is becoming more and more infatuated with, and to spend time with Ellie, who’s friendship seems to be one that has greater staying power than the unpredictable Bella.

This is where the rebooted story begins to falter. Both Catherines, in this version and the original, have VERY over-active imaginations that create a lot of grief. Northanger Abbey, like Edinburgh, provides the perfect setting for a mystery, coupled with the very hushed up details of the Mrs. Tilney’s death years earlier, Cat’s imagination takes off. The Catherine of the original dreams up a murderous plot carried out by the Tilney children’s very domineering and controlling father. The Cat of the 21st century takes it to a whole new level, adding to her fantasy of possible murder that the Tilney family are really blood-sucking vampires. As a fan of supernatural fiction, this storyline thread just felt ridiculous. McDermid should have just stuck with the suspicious death plot and developed that more instead of trying to jump on a pop culture trend that is now long past over. It was so poorly tied into the story that I nearly gave up reading the novel a few times. The end of the story was also poorly managed, rushed and not believable at all.


EligibleThe heart of my disappointment really and truly seems to be that Austen’s stories have been completely lost in an attempt to ride the wave of the 200th anniversary of the publication of her works. Most of the authors that were contracted to complete their re-imagining of Austen’s most popular works, are very successful in their own right. Theoretically this should have equaled a win-win, but in reality, I feel the entire project has missed its mark. There is one more book in the series, Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld, which is a re-interpretation of Pride and Prejudice, my favourite of all Austen’s works. I was really looking forward to this book, but after reading the description for it and some reviews I realized that I no longer have the stomach for the Austen Project and it’s somewhat nonsensical rewriting of Austen’s stories. My advice is if you are considering reading any of the Austen Project’s offerings, do so at your own risk. If you end up throwing books across the room or banging your head against a wall in complete and utter frustration, don’t say that I didn’t warn you!


val_mcdermid_0Val McDermid is a No. 1 bestseller whose novels have been translated into more than thirty languages, and have sold over eleven million copies.

She has won many awards internationally, including the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year and the LA Times Book of the Year Award. She was inducted into the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame in 2009 and was the recipient of the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for 2010. In 2011 she received the Lambda Literary Foundation Pioneer Award.

She writes full time and divides her time between Cheshire and Edinburgh.





Dubliners – James Joyce GUEST REVIEWER

GUEST POST – Surly Joe

I wanted real adventures to happen to myself. But real
adventures, I reflected, do not happen to people who remain at home: they must be sought abroad.”
James Joyce, Dubliners

SYNOPSIS (From Goodreads) – This work of art reflects life in Ireland at the turn of the last century, and by rejecting euphemism, reveals to the Irish their unromantic reality. Each of the 15 stories offers glimpses into the lives of ordinary Dubliners, and collectively they paint a portrait of a nation.



REVIEW – In Grade Ten English class, we were assigned to read a short story entitled “Araby” by an Irish author named James Joyce. It was one of fifteen stories in his collection called Dubliners. We were told he was one of the twentieth century’s greatest authors. None of us had ever heard of him. We read “Araby”, about a young boy’s first experience with infatuation, how his feelings made concentration impossible, and how every morning and throughout the day, he could not get the image of the girl out of his mind, “even in places the most hostile to romance”. When we had finished reading, our sentiment was almost unanimous. The story was slow. Nothing really happened. James Joyce was a master? Really? We didn’t get it.


Of course we didn’t get it. We were in Grade Ten. We were struggling with our own brand new adolescent feelings for the first time. We were only on the cusp of real emotional experience. We couldn’t relate to “Araby”. And if we had read the rest of Dubliners, we wouldn’t have related to it either.

This is the beauty of re-reading a book three decades later with an open-mind and a perspective that has been beaten up a bit by life. The subtleties and masterful language of Dubliners, the slow but perfect pace of the stories, and the themes of love, death, politics, religion and regret, are all only poignant to the reader who has experienced them.


Tracing the course of life in early twentieth-century Dublin, Joyce’s collection begins with “The Sisters” and how a young boy is confronted with death for the first time, wondering why, surrounded by grieving adults, neither he “nor the day seemed in a mourning mood”. He saw the body in the coffin and listened while his elders spoke of the “beautiful death”, but the moment had little impact.

One by one, they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.” ― James Joyce, Dubliners

Following “The Sisters” is “An Encounter”, where a group of boys look for “real adventures” after reading about the Wild West and American detective stories. Wandering through town, they meet an old man who talked to them about books, poetry, and “sweethearts”. But the adventure turns creepy when the conversation shifts to how “all girls were not so good as they seem to be” and how some boys deserved to be whipped.

With each passing story, from childhood to adolescence to adulthood to death, Dubliners gets more bitter. Layers of innocence are stripped away, replaced by regret, anger and melancholy. This is best exemplified in “A Painful Case”, with a very solitary man living a regimented solitary life. “He had neither companions nor friends, church nor creed…his life rolled out evenly – an adventureless tale.” But his routine is briefly interrupted when he meets a woman and starts to trust and talk. When she hints at intimacy, however, he retreats and buries himself in his old ways. Years later, he has regrets, recognizing that “he was an outcast from life’s feast.”

I have no idea where my Grade Ten English teacher is now, who forced me and my classmates to struggle through “Araby” long ago. I’d like to say thanks retroactively. I re-read Dubliners. I get it now.

NoVfeTMGSSSSZul3pJ0M_James-Joyce-9358676-2-402ABOUT THE AUTHOR – James Joyce (1882 – 1941) is one of Ireland’s most influential and celebrated writers. His most famous work is Ulysses (1922) which follows the movements of Leopold Bloom through a single day on June 16th, 1904. Ulysses is based on Homer’s The Odyssey.

Some of Joyce’s other major works include the short story collection Dubliners (1914), and novels A Potrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Finnegans Wake (1939). Joyce was born in Dublin on 2nd February 1882 and attended school in Clongowes Wood College and Belvedere College (just up the road from the Centre) before going on to University College, then located on St Stephen’s Green, where he studied modern languages.

In 1940, when Joyce fled to the south of France ahead of the Nazi invasion, Paul Léon returned to the Joyces’ apartment in Paris to salvage their belongings and put them into safekeeping for the duration of the war. It’s thanks to Léon’s efforts that many of Joyce’s personal possessions and manuscripts still survive today. James Joyce died at the age of fifty-nine, on 13 January 1941 in Schwesterhaus vom Roten Kreuz in Zurich where he and his family had been given asylum. He is buried in Fluntern cemetery, Zurich.


CKIn his own words – Surly Joe is a moderately nondescript Toronto-based white guy who spends too much time contemplating the nature of boredom.  His aspirations waver between wanting to be either a professional gambler or a Zen monk, with a touch of writing on the side.  After completing university with a degree in a subject that does not readily lead to any sort of viable employment, he wandered through Europe and Northern Africa for a while collecting stories and useless trivia, circumstance led to a career back in Toronto.  He now spends his money on food, friends, wine and annual trips to Las Vegas.

Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston GUEST POST

GUEST POST – Surly Joe



BLURB – When Janie, at sixteen, is caught kissing shiftless Johnny Taylor, her grandmother swiftly marries her off to an old man with sixty acres. Janie endures two stifling marriages before meeting the man of her dreams, who offers not diamonds, but a packet of flowering seeds …


purpleIt’s tempting to review Their Eyes Were Watching God academically, to discuss its feminist voice, its African-American perspective, the poverty of its people only a generation removed from slavery. For a couple decades in the twentieth century, Zora Neale Hurston was one of America’s most distinguished authors, an acclaimed member of the Harlem Renaissance group of writers, until she disappeared from public consciousness and was not rediscovered by a wide audience until the mid-1970s when Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, wrote an essay about her after learning that she was buried in an unmarked grave in a Florida cemetery. Since then, the body of critical assessment has grown dramatically.

Published in 1937, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston’s third novel, is the story of Janie Crawford, a young black woman in the Deep South who is torn between following cultural stereotypes and living her own independent life. Raised by her grandmother, Janie marries because it is expected and stays in the background because it is proper. Her marriage is loveless. Her independence screams to escape – “She was a rut in the road. Plenty of life beneath the surface but it was kept beaten down by the wheels”. Slowly she allows her own spirit to emerge despite the ridicule of her peers. Her life is difficult and tragic, but ultimately it becomes her own.

There’s no denying the importance and the seriousness of the themes in Their Eyes Were Watching God. But to stop there would be to miss out on the most magical aspect of the novel – its language. While the narration is formal, the dialogue is written phonetically in rural African-American vernacular, spoken by characters named Tea Cake and Sop-de-Bottom and Bootyny. When Janie finally makes the conscious decision to be true to herself, she tells a friend “Ah done lived Grandma’s way, now Ah means tuh live mine”. She knows it’s going to be a challenge, but she’s ready to face the obstacles with an open mind and without stressing – “Ah don’t aim to worry my gut into a fiddlestring wid no s’posin”. There is a spontaneity and musicality to the dialogue. It’s like the novel is being told instead of being written.

Ultimately by book’s end, despite her hardships, Janie is content with her decisions. Her final two sentences say it all – “Two things everybody’s got tuh do fuh theyselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin’ fuh theyselves.”

Twenty-first century English can’t compete with that.


ZNHZora Neale Hurston was an American folklorist and author. In 1925, shortly before entering Barnard College, Hurston became one of the leaders of the literary renaissance happening in Harlem, producing the short-lived literary magazine Fire!! along with Langston Hughes and Wallace Thurman. This literary movement became the center of the Harlem Renaissance.


CKIn his own words – Surly Joe is a moderately nondescript Toronto-based white guy who spends too much time contemplating the nature of boredom.  His aspirations waver between wanting to be either a professional gambler or a Zen monk, with a touch of writing on the side.  After completing university with a degree in a subject that does not readily lead to any sort of viable employment, he wandered through Europe and Northern Africa for a while collecting stories and useless trivia, circumstance led to a career back in Toronto.  He now spends his money on food, friends, wine and annual trips to Las Vegas.


Withering Hope – Layla Hagen

I am pretty much a cream puff, when I got the bright idea to host a sleep over in my backyard with my girlfriends I was the “suck” who wussed out and went up to bed to snuggle with my husband for the remainder of the night finding the idea of sleeping on the lawn less than palatable in reality. In case you are interested I may have lived it down some sixteen years later. My divaish personal comfort needs aside I have always been intrigued by survival stories and secretly worry that I am not at all prepared for the apocalypse. Withering Hope popped up on my radar when it first came out in January but I mistakenly assumed it was just the N/A of the day. Not that there is anything wrong with N/A, but no longer being a “new adult” it takes a special one to tempt me. However, when I happened to read the synopsis for this I knew it had all the qualities of some of my favourite reads.


FROM GOODREADS – Aimee’s wedding is supposed to turn out perfect. Her dress, her fiancé and the location—the idyllic holiday ranch in Brazil—are perfect.

But all Aimee’s plans come crashing down when the private jet that’s taking her from the U.S. to the ranch—where her fiancé awaits her—defects mid-flight and the pilot is forced to perform an emergency landing in the heart of the Amazon rainforest.

With no way to reach civilisation, being rescued is Aimee and Tristan’s—the pilot—only hope. A slim one that slowly withers away, desperation taking its place. Because death wanders in the jungle under many forms: starvation, diseases. Beasts.

As Aimee and Tristan fight to find ways to survive, they grow closer. Together they discover that facing old, inner agonies carved by painful pasts takes just as much courage, if not even more, than facing the rainforest.

Despite her devotion to her fiancé, Aimee can’t hide her feelings for Tristan—the man for whom she’s slowly becoming everything. You can hide many things in the rainforest. But not lies. Or love.

In situation straight out of Survivorman, the private plane Aimee is travelling in crashes into the Brazilian rain-forest thankfully her pilot isn’t without advanced survival training.

I was likely predisposed to love this book as one of my favorite stories of all time is Up Close and Dangerous by Linda Howard, which features a couple trying to survive a plane crash in the Rocky Mountains.

Omens (Book I of the Cainsville Series) by Kelley Armstrong – A Review

GUEST POST – teachergirl 73

If you have read any of my earlier posts regarding Kelley Armstrong, then you know that I am a huge fan. Armstrong hooked me for life after her first novel Bitten, and I know that when I pick up her books, that I’ll be entertained. That is not to say that I love all of her works the same, but I know that even if the story line isn’t my favourite, it will still be well written.

SYNOPSIS – Twenty-four-year-old Olivia Taylor Jones has the perfect life. The only daughter of a wealthy, prominent Chicago family, she has an Ivy League education, pursues volunteerism and philanthropy, and is engaged to a handsome young tech firm CEO with political ambitions.

But Olivia’s world is shattered when she learns that she’s adopted. Her real parents? Todd and Pamela Larsen, notorious serial killers serving a life sentence. When the news brings a maelstrom of unwanted publicity to her adopted family and fiancé, Olivia decides to find out the truth about the Larsens.

Olivia ends up in the small town of Cainsville, Illinois, an old and cloistered community that takes a particular interest in both Olivia and her efforts to uncover her birth parents’ past.

Aided by her mother’s former lawyer, Gabriel Walsh, Olivia focuses on the Larsens’ last crime, the one her birth mother swears will prove their innocence. But as she and Gabriel start investigating the case, Olivia finds herself drawing on abilities that have remained hidden since her childhood, gifts that make her both a valuable addition to Cainsville and deeply vulnerable to unknown enemies. Because there are darker secrets behind her new home and powers lurking in the shadows that have their own plans for her.

Armstrong-Kelley-Omens-794x529Omens is the first book in a series that Armstrong began in 2013. It is a departure from her Otherworld series, which introduced us to Armstrong’s perspective of the world of werewolves, witches, vampires and other supernatural beings. To be honest, even now that I’ve finished Omens, I still can’t quite put my finger on what supernatural vibes are going on other than there are hints of the occult and old superstitions related to paganism. Olivia, our protagonist of the story, seems to have the ability to foretell events that may happen through the interpretation of “old wives tales”. She seems unaware of why she has this talent, and throughout most of the book, she is trying to deny the importance of these superstitious beliefs which becomes increasingly difficult for her as the story progresses.

IMG_0087Beyond this unusual talent of Olivia’s, I was really left wondering where Armstrong was headed with this story. Armstrong is very good at cliffhangers. Years ago, as I was reading Armstrong’s YA series, The Darkest Powers Trilogy: Summoning, Awakening and Reckoning, I was impressed with her skills for keeping her readers hooked from chapter to chapter and then from book to book. The way that Omens is wrapped up, you are definitely left wanting more, if only to figure out what the heck is going on in the increasingly creepy town of Cainsville,  where our heroine ends up calling home. A town which seems to be under the ever watchful eye of the many gargoyles found around town, including some gargoyles that only come out at night.  Did I mention that the town is creepy?


When the plague struck Chicago, the townspeople here erected the gargoyles, and nary a soul was lost to the Black Death.”
“The bubonic plague predates Chicago by about five hundred years.”
He lowered himself to the bench. “I know. I was very disappointed when I found out. Almost as bad as when I learned there were no fairies. The world is much more interesting with goblins and plagues.”
Unless you catch the plague.”
Kelley Armstrong, Omens


In Omens, we are dropped into the life of Olivia Taylor-Jones, a member of Chicago’s high-society elite, who finds her life blown apart as she learns that nothing is really as it seems. Olivia is really Eden Larsen, who was adopted as a young toddler by the Taylor-Jones family. Her birth parents turn out to be notorious serial killers. Her widowed mother is too fragile for the media maelstrom that erupts after the world discovers Olivia’s true identity and goes into hiding, leaving Olivia on her own. In an attempt to avoid the paparazzi, as well as, protect her family and friends in Chicago, Olivia goes on the run and finds herself back in the small town of Cainsville, where she lived with her birth parents. Unaware of what appears to be preternatural machinations that draw her to Cainsville, Olivia goes about the business of finding a place to live and getting a job. The town seems to accept Olivia’s presence, unlike Olivia’s friends, family and even her fiance back in Chicago who cannot wait to be rid of her and the scandal that she has brought to their doorsteps.

There are some interesting characters living in Cainsville, in particular the senior citizen contingent of the town. In terms of demographics, Cainsville definitely seems to have more seniors than children running around. The seniors also seem to be true “elders” of the town, and you get the sense that they are running the show. One character, however, seems to command more respect than the seniors and that is Patrick. He is a writer of paranormal romance, or so he says, but it is clear to Olivia that there is more to Patrick than meets the eye. Olivia senses a definite “don’t f@ck with me” vibe rolling off of Patrick, but she can’t quite put her finger on the why behind it.

Then there’s Gabriel Walsh, who is the real enigma in this story. Is he just a money-grubbing lawyer, only interested in the fame and fortune that Olivia’s story can bring him? Or is he a tortured soul, unknowingly looking for redemption and salvation that only Olivia can provide? I found the development of Olivia and Gabriel’s relationship intriguing and I definitely want to see how Gabriel’s character evolves over the course of the series.

JaxI would be completely remiss if I didn’t mention the introduction of the character Ricky, who can only be a Charlie Hunnam look-a-like, and if you have ever watched the show Sons of Anarchy, you would understand why. Coincidentally, Ricky is the son of the head of a successful motorcycle club, just like Hunnam’s character “Jacks” in SOA. Ricky seems to possess many of Jacks’ charming qualities and resourcefulness which will undoubtedly be needed in the second and third book of the series. Ricky could also prove to be a possible love interest for Olivia, or at least the third of a potential Gabriel-Olivia-Ricky love triangle. Who doesn’t enjoy a good love triangle?

EXCERPT – First eight chapters

At the end of Omens, some questions are answered, but so many more are left, which is the sign of a good writer. I’m very curious to see just what Cainsville is really all about and are Olivia’s birth parents murderers or is there something worse that they are hiding?


Amazon | Amazon CA | Chapters/Indigo | B&N | Kobo 


Kelley_Armstrong_3-lrgKelley Armstrong has been telling stories since before she could write. Her earliest written efforts were disastrous. If asked for a story about girls and dolls, hers would invariably feature undead girls and evil dolls, much to her teachers’ dismay. All efforts to make her produce “normal” stories failed.

Today, she continues to spin tales of ghosts and demons and werewolves, while safely locked away in her basement writing dungeon. She’s the author of the NYT-bestselling “Women of the Otherworld” paranormal suspense series and “Darkest Powers” young adult urban fantasy trilogy, as well as the Nadia Stafford crime series. Armstrong lives in southwestern Ontario with her husband, kids and far too many pets.







Tiger Lily – Wende Dikec GUEST POST & REVIEW


Tiger Lily

Wende Dikec

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Inkspell Publishing

Date of Publication: January 13, 2016

Book DescriptionLily Madison thought dying because of a bad manicure was the worst thing that could happen. She was wrong.

Waking up in the hospital and realizing she’s being stalked by an entire herd of naughty little ghosts turns her entire world upside down. She begins to doubt her own sanity until she realizes she isn’t alone. A Goth girl, named Zoe, can see the ghosts, too.

Most of the ghosts look like fuzzy blobs, but one is not blobby at all. He’s a very hot, very annoying dead guy named Nick. Although they dislike each other on sight, Nick soon realizes Lily is his only hope. With the help of Zoe and Mr. Wan, the manicurist who almost killed her, she has only days to get Nick and the other ghosts back where they belong or the whole world will be in terrible danger.

But sending the ghosts back means saying goodbye to Nick forever, and Lily isn’t sure she’ll ever be able to let him go.


Wende Dikec, Guest Blog for Penny Dreadful Books, March 4, 2016.

50 Shades of Rain

In Japan there are over fifty words to describe rain. Yesterday, as I sat at my desk looking outside and watching the rain fall, I remembered rainy season in Japan, and the way the rain would fall straight down to the ground in endless, relentless, heavy streams.

photo one - Ryoanji TempleThere is a word for that. Ooame. That means “heavy or big rain.” But it wouldn’t have been fuu because that is the kind of rain that combines with wind and blows around. Yesterday there was no wind at all, and the curtains of rain reminded me so much of the rainy season that I could almost feel the way it used to splash around my feet as I ran for the train, or the way it sounded on the big umbrella that was my constant companion for the month of June every year I lived in Japan.

photo two - girl with umbrella in JapanIt rains a great deal in Japan, which could explain the need for so many words. Japanese people are also excessively fond of talking about the weather, and there is a lot to talk about. The heat (atsui!), the humidity (mushiatsui!), and the cold (samui!), and those exclamation points are absolutely necessary. When it was hot in Japan, it was scorching. When it was humid in Japan, it was like breathing in liquid air. And when it was cold, due to the lack of central heating in the first apartment I lived in, it was pretty darned frigid.

But that isn’t all there is to it. The Japanese are masters of the onomatopoeia. When I say, “It is raining fuu fuu,” I can almost hear the wind blowing and the rain crashing against my window. For a language that can be amazingly vague (Subjects and direct objects? Please. Who needs ‘em?), it is also astoundingly descriptive. They bring the term le mot juste to a completely different level. Finding that perfect word isn’t just an endeavour to them, it is an art form.

We should carry this into our own writing. Why use tired when you can use exhausted, broken-down, narcoleptic, done for, spent, drained, tuckered out, drooping, dead on one’s feet, played out, drowsy, or pooped? Tired might work, but why settle? Add layers and subtle beauty to your writing by searching for the word that isn’t just good. Look for the word that is stupendous, marvellous, and superb.

And the next time it is raining, look outside and find a way to describe it to yourself. Is it a chilly rain, or a driving rain, or merely a drizzle? We might not have fifty words for rain in English, but there are infinite possibilities for how you can describe it.


I died because of a bad manicure. It wasn’t a nasty fungal infection from the manicurist using dirty equipment, or a cut that allowed deadly bacteria to creep under my skin and rot me from the inside out. I died because on impulse I let Mr. Wan of Wan Fine Lady Nail Salon paint my nails a color called Pretty and Pink.

With my red hair and pale skin, pink is tricky, but I trusted Mr. Wan. When he told me, “New color, big discount for you, Lily Madison,” I didn’t realize he actually meant, “Bad color, nobody else wants it.”

I’ve never been a risk taker. My idea of living on the edge was not having an extra bottle of hand sanitizer in my purse. I knew the pink would be a mistake, but I ignored my inner voice. I guess the smell of acetone and the hum of the nail dryers had lulled me into such a relaxed state that I didn’t realize how awful the color actually looked until I drove home in the BMW my parents had given me for my sixteenth birthday.

Pretty and Pink was false advertising, but as I learned long ago in my ninth grade science fair project, neither the government nor the FDA regulates the names of nail polish colours. I didn’t have a case, but I felt extremely upset.

I didn’t see the ice cream truck stopped in the middle of the road. I was staring at my nails, wishing I’d gone with my first choice, Princesses Rule!, a frosty pale pink that would have enhanced my natural skin tone. I glanced up just in time to narrowly avoid hitting the truck and several small children caught in a snow-cone-induced feeding frenzy.

It’s funny how accidents happen in slow motion. I remember the shocked faces of the people on the street as I swerved and flew over a small embankment. Someone screamed, and it took me a full second to realize the high-pitched wail came from my own mouth. I’d started screaming the minute I’d steered away from the ice cream truck, screamed some more as my car became an airborne missile, and continued screaming until it landed in the deep, murky waters of Lake Eugene.

I tried to open my door, but it refused to budge. My windows wouldn’t roll down either. I pressed the buttons anyway, even the one on the dashboard to turn on the radio, but none of them worked except my hazard lights. I didn’t know I had hazard lights, although I’d read all about them in my driver’s ed class. They blinked on and off, illuminating the darkness around me with an eerie, red, pulsating beacon.

I unbuckled my seat belt and searched for something to break a window with, but couldn’t find anything. I swung my purse at it, pounded it with the heel of my shoe, and even tried stabbing it with my nail file. I reached for my phone to call for help, but it was too late.

As the car filled with water and I gasped for air, the last thing I saw was that awful color on my nails as I scratched and clawed at the window until my fingers bled and everything turned black. As I died, I thought about my parents, and my friends, and all the things I would never get to do, and the fact that Mr. Wan had just lost his very best customer due to his own negligence. I hoped he would be sorry. Thinking about how bad he’d feel gave me just a little peace before I slipped away into darkness.


Tiger Lily was funny and irreverent and a perfectly executed YA in the vein of some of my very favourite books. I defy anyone not to empathize with the ridiculous manner of Lily’s death. Of course she would be so horrified by the colour her manicurist convinced her to use that she would take her attention off the road and end up on the other side if only for a short time. Unfortunately Lily didn’t come back on her own. Her struggles were funny and relatable no matter how unlikely the topic matter. If you are a fan of paranormal YA then Wende Dikec’s Tiger Lily is the story for you.

About the Author:

Wende Dikec has spent her life travelling the world, and collecting stories wherever she visited. She writes in several romance genres, and her books are quirky, light, and fun. Fluent in several languages and married to a man from Istanbul, Wende is a trekkie, a book hoarder, master of the Nespresso machine, and mother of three boys. A puppy named Capone is the most recent addition to her family, and she blogs about him as a way of maintaining what little sanity she has left.



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