Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Book Review: A Love By Any Measure by Killian McRae

A Love by Any Measure by Killian McRae
Publisher: Tulipe Noire Press
Publish Date: November 8, 2011
Paperback, 344 pages 
Fiction, Historical, Romance
 ISBN: 978-0983979708

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My Review: 
Killian McRae mentioned in my interview this morning that A Love By Any Measure was critiqued as "an unromantic romance".  I can kind of see where the person who critiqued the book came up with that and the author agrees, but I also see the subtle romance in the book.

I was more sold on the characters and the setting of the book than on anything else and I love my romances, but I love a great historical as well and don't think they have to be mutually exclusive.  Ms. McRae has done a brilliant job mixing the historical setting with getting to know August and Maeve both in the present and in some flashbacks.  I loved seeing how they interacted with each other and also how they interacted with others and how the social system of the time was set up.

There is also some intrigue to move the plot along as well which I enjoyed.  As I turned the pages there were new surprises for me all through the book and I loved it.  I was captivated from the first page with Maeve who only wants to save her family home and August who only wants to see the girl who knew long ago.  Both have truly missed each other but really don't know what to do about it since they come from different countries and different stations in life as well.  Also Maeve is engaged to be married.  Lots of complications to the relationship from the very beginning, but these just make the book even stronger.

I learned some new history while reading A Love By Any Measure and this is one of my favorite thinigs about historical fiction.  I found history boring in school but if I can pick up little things here and there from great fiction stories I feel smarter.  So thank you Ms. McRae for helping educate me a little more while entertaining me thoroughly.

If you like an extremely well-written historical romance with an innocent yet spunky heroine then A Love By Any Measure is a book for you. There are so many layers to this book that you will find yourself continually amazed while reading and you will not want the book to end.

My Rating: 4.75/5.0

About the Book:
An Irish lass. An English lord.
A love that overcomes all boundaries.

August Grayson has secretly dreamt of the girl living on his family’s Irish estate since childhoods spent together in Killarney. Now a proper Lord of the British Empire, he knows that Maeve could never be more than just a distant fantasy. Still, if only...

Maeve O’Connor owns nothing in this world but her good name, which proves just enough to win a proposal for a marriage of convenience to a good, Irish lad. Until the wedding, however, she’s in dire straits. Rent on the cottage she and her father share is due, but there simply isn’t the money to pay. Driven to desperation, Maeve hopes Lord Grayson, her childhood-chum-turned-dashing-English-rogue, will prove lenient when she comes seeking clemency.

The temptation presented proves too much, and August offers Maeve a compromise: should she permit him twice as long on each succeeding visit to do whatever he wishes in pursuit of his pleasure, he will consider her rent paid. Starting with a mere five seconds, pulses soon out race the ticking clock, as August’s desires become Maeve’s own. Passion blinds them to the challenges closing in on both the Irish and English fronts, threatening to destroy the love they’ve discovered.

Working to bridge that which divides them, tempting fate with each stolen kiss, and torn between desire and obligation, Maeve and August must strive to overcome all and find a love by any measure...

About the Author (from 
History is Killian's primary love in life, outside her family and, yes, sadly her dog. Therefore, her works of fiction often are packaged inside historical wrappers, as she tugs and twists on the edges of reality to ask the ever-present "What if?"

Born and raised in rural Michigan, Killian used the local library- a single room in her village's firehouse- as an escape, before actually escaping to the relative jungle of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan. There, after several minor attempts to establish a major, she finally completed a BA in Turkic History and nearly attempted a Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance. ("Theys call it the opry 'round these parts," she says in her heavy, Michiganian accent.)

Though she had written three novels before graduating high school, she never thought of trying to publish for- oh, it must have been well into her 30's. 12.21.12 was her first published work, released in late 2010. A second work, "A Love by Any Measure," is a historical romance set in 1860's Ireland and is due out in Fall 2011.

Killian is a member of Stanford University's Writer's Certificate program and a PRO member of the Romance Writers of America. Her other interests include musicology and did we mention history? She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay area, though she is quite often unhappy about this fact.


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Author Interview: Killian McRae (A Love by Any Measure)

Today I close out the Tulipe Noir Press Blog Tour for Killian's McRae's A Love by Any Measure first with an interview with Killian and later today I'll post my review. 

Describe the area you write in.

Oh, this is a tough one. I write in many areas. My tendency is towards the paranormal, though if that means science fiction or urban/paranormal romance depends on the day. I also write romance, as well as fantasy and even some literary works.

What's your favorite season?

In California, where I live now, summer. However, back in the Midwest where I lived until my early 20’s, autumn. Nothing smells as good to me as the scents of a crisp autumn day.

Describe your ideal reading space (no expense spared here).

I don’t think it needs much of a budget. I like places with a low hum of humanity tempered by enough
serenity that lets my mind wander. When I get a chance, I like to hand out in coffee shops downtown.

What is a typical day like in your life?

My typical day is very mundane. I have a day job, like most writers, and that keeps me pretty Monday-
to-Friday regular. If I don’t have any evening obligations, the kids and I will have dinner then head to the
gym for an hour, or take the dog for a walk. Then back home for chores, and about 8 or 9 the children
settle down to reading or studying and I have 2-4 hours of writing/author work time.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

Do I have to choose just one place? Both Egypt and Ireland hold an equal pull for me. Ideally, I’d like to
spend some time in both locales. But if we’re talking more general, my idyllic getaway involves a fire, a
cup of cocoa, and a small cottage in the mountains.

Tell us a little bit about A Love By Any Measure.

Someone writing a critique described it as a very unromantic romance. While I believe she meant it as a
criticism, I believe that’s a very accurate summation. It’s a historical romance set in Ireland and England
(and a bit of Boston) during the early Victorian period. While there are scenes of fire between the English
landlord August and the Irish tenant Maeve, there’s much more focus on the historical considerations
and consequences such individuals would have had in that time period. I generally shy away from simple,
formulaic plots and characters. If you like historical romances but feel like they’re becoming cookie
cutter, this could be a good read for you.

What made you choose to write in the historical romance genre?

History has always been a fascination of mine. Both of my two books in publication are historically-
themed (though the other is Science Fiction). And what girl growing up in the age of Disney doesn’t like a
love story?

Which character really spoke to you when you were writing A Love By Any Measure?

Rory O’Connor, Maeve’s father. As the old saying goes, he doesn’t say much, but he says it loud. Though
he doesn’t often appear in the story, when he does he’s always far more in the know than he lets anyone
know. Ultimately, while Maeve initially sets up to save her father, it is her father who sacrifices his
happiness for hers.

What are you working on now?

Two projects right now: The first is a mini-novella that will release in January, the first of a four-part
installment that continues in the universe I created in 12.21.12, and will lead up to the release of the
sequel in winter 2013. The other is an YA fantasy that I hope will release late winter 2012.

Do you have any upcoming tours, blog tours or events you would like people to know about?

The ALBAM tour is wrapping up now, but I urge others to check out some of the stops that have come
before during November. I’m planning on laying pretty low for the next several months, as projects have
me very busy in the foreseeable future. I’ll also be launching weekly podcast in January (because I don’t
like to sleep, obviously.)

Anything else you would like to share?

Just my thanks to you as well as to all the courteous hosts on the tour this month!

Thanks Killian!

About A Love By Any Measure

Lord August Grayson is a self-admitted English bastard. Or so he would like to have the beautiful Maeve O’Connor believe. Secretly, August has dreamt of the Irish girl since childhoods spent together in Killarney. He knows, however, that his poor Irish Catholic tenant would never be accepted in his world of propriety and pomp, but isn’t about to let a chance to have her, even if only in his bed, pass him by.

Maeve owns nothing in this world or the next but her good name, which proves just enough to net a proposal for a marriage of convenience to a good, Irish lad. Though she dreams of home and hearth with a man she truly loves, poverty and her father’s care limit her options. When Maeve seeks clemency on her family’s rent until she weds, August seizes the opportunity to present her with an alternative way to settle her debts. Allowing twice as long on each succeeding visit, she must permit him to do whatever he wishes in pursuit of his pleasure. Starting with a mere five seconds, pulses soon out race the ticking clock, as August’s pleasure and passion become Maeve’s own.

Working to bridge that which divides them, tempting fate with each stolen kiss, and torn between desire and obligation, Maeve and August strive to overcome all and find a love by any measure…

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book Review: Dark Star by Creston Mapes (Rock Star Chronicles #1)

Dark Star by Creston Mapes (Rock Star Chronicles #1)
Publisher: Multnomah Books
Publish Date: August 17, 2011
E-book, 400 pages 
Fiction, Christian fiction/thriller/suspense/court drama

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My Review:
Talk about a wild ride.  Everett Lester is the epitome of the bad boy rocker to the extreme.  Not the bad boys of today, but I think back to the Ozzy Ozbournes and the other extreme bands of the 70s and 80s that my generation was warned against (and I am sure there are still some of those today, they just aren't the mainstream, just like they weren't back then).  Drugs, sex, drinking, a psychic on tour with him, Everett had all of that.  He was hardly likable, yet there was one fan that wrote to him of God's love and she continued to write to him over a ten year period.   Everett kept her letters for some reason and always read her letters.  That was his turning point, this one girl who kept praying for him and kept the faith that he could change.

I really like how the book goes back and forth in the story between the current court case and Everett's previous life.  It slowly fills in the blanks of what happened that leads up to the court case and it's a thrill ride for sure.  I liked getting to know Everett and seeing what happened.  I also liked meeting Karen, her parents, Everett's sister Mary and her friend Jerry and the others along the way as well.  The story that Mr. Mapes weaves is really intriguing and it kept me reading into the wee hours of morning to see what would happen next.

I enjoyed the plot thoroughly.  It felt plausible.  Bad boy rocker one day realizes his life is empty and finds his way to God, but of course, it's really not that simple, you have to read the book because I don't want to give anything away.  Just know that it moves quickly alternating back and forth, but it's easy to tell which is in the past and which is in the present.  I was never confused so that was great.

The characters were also well done.  From the seemingly perfect like Karen (who had her flaws as well) to the down right evil and all of the ones in between, which is where most everyone else fell, the characters are down-to-earth and real.  Sometimes really scary, but still real to me.  I liked Everett even though he is deeply flawed to begin with, he is still redeemable, as well all are.  I think he reminded  me not to judge because we all sin and no sin is worse than another in God's eyes because it is all sin.  I like how the Christian characters preach love, but they still preach trying to live a life for God, so it's not skewed in either direction where it's too much law or too much love.  It's seems the perfect mix.  The book is not preachy at all, the Christian parts just seem to flow.  Karen never screams at Everett, she just gently writes to him over the years and prays.

This book is just amazing to me and I can't wait to start reading Full Tilt, which I have, but have a bunch of review books to finish before I can start.  But I will get to it soon and can't wait to get back to see what happens in Everett's life next.  Try it out, this book is one of those that can wow you.

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

Check back next month on December 22, for my review of the next book in the series Full Tilt.

About the Book:

Can Fame, Wealth, and Power Buy Happiness?
Everett Lester and his band, DeathStroke, ride the crest of a wave to superstardom. But the deeper they become immersed in fame, wealth, and power, the more likely they are to be swallowed alive by the drugs, alcohol, and discontentment that have become their only friends. Everett is headed down a perilous road of no apparent return when he’s charged with the murder of his personal psychic. The only hope he can cling to comes from Topeka , Kansas , and the letters written by a prayerful young lady who lives there. Consistent and persistent, the notes cut straight to Everett ’s empty heart, offering a fulfillment he’s never grasped before. But what if he’s found guilty of murder? Will he recognize the spiritual battle that’s raging for his soul?

About the Author: 
Talented storyteller Creston Mapes graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1983 with a BA in magazine journalism. Since then, he has written for major corporations, colleges, and ministries. He has written for Coca-Cola, TNT Sports, Focus on the Family, Walk Thru the Bible Ministries, and The Urban Alternative. His stories have been featured in magazines including Private Colleges and Universities, In Touch, Leaders for Today, and The Hockey News. Creston makes his home in Georgia.


The rest of the tour schedule can be found here.

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FTC Information: I received this book through Media Guests for an honest review.  

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Book Review: Remembering You by Tricia Goyer

Remembering You by Tricia Goyer
Publisher: Guideposts
Release Date: November 2011
Trade Paperback, 312 Pages
Fiction, Historical, Christian
ISBN: 978-0824948122

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My Review 
First I would like to say that I really appreciate one of the underlying messages of this book.  Listen to the stories of your grandparents, they won't always be around and they have some important stories to share.  I am thankful that my husband asked my "Pa" about his time during WWII, things I would have never thought to ask so I did get a little glimpse into his life back then.  He was one of 5 brothers and all 5 brothers went off to WWII.

Now to the review, I just wanted to mention that because this book really touched me and felt near and dear to my heart because of the subject matter.  My "Pa" was in the Pacific, but it didn't matter, the stories are the same, young boys off to war.

I found Remembering You to be a very interesting story.  There are several layers or plotlines to the story.  First is Ava's relationship with her Grandfather Jack.  In the beginning we know something has strained it and she sees this trip as something to bring them back together.  Ava also sees this trip as a way to see the world and get herself back together after being jilted by her fiancee.  Another layer is the ability to turn the trip into a way to help her with her flailing career.  Then there is the purpose of Jack and Paul and why they must make the trip across Europe together this year.  And finally, Ava and Dennis.  Dennis was Ava's first love, but it ended badly and doesn't seem to be going very well at the beginning of this trip either.  Ava just wants to get a grasp on one area of her life.

I often felt myself cheering for Ava.  And sometimes I kind of wanted to smack her.  But truthfully I felt for her.  She really had been beaten down and beaten down until she really did not know which end was up.  She had lost her spark and was trying to get it back on this trip, but Grandpa Jack wasn't helping and it seemed like every time things started going well with Dennis things took a huge backwards leap.  But that was part of what made the story.  Her continued trials, make the ending worth it.

Then the mystery of what is going on with Grandpa Jack and why he is being mysterious.  I enjoyed this part but felt like it was done up and then kind of tossed aside to be picked back up later.  I guess I felt this was a little choppy.  But not enough to detract from my overall enjoyment of the book.  I still found this a book I could not put down.

I found it easy to identify with every character in the book.  I enjoyed the scenery and the situations in the book and the pages just about turn themselves.  The plot sped along and except for the choppiness I mentioned this book really impressed me.  I enjoyed Remembering You because it was different.  It delved into remembrances and current lives simultaneously and I love how Ms. Goyer wove these stories together like she did.  I highly recommend this book to anyone fascnated with the WWII era.  Though it takes place in the modern era, it's worth reading just for those remembrances and the respect that is given to the soldiers all through Europe in the liberated towns.  Beautifully researched and beautifully done.

My Rating: 4.25/5.0

About Tricia Goyer:

Tricia Goyer is a homeschooling mom of four (two graduated!) and an acclaimed and prolific writer, publishing hundreds of articles in national magazines. She has also written books on marriage and parenting and contributed notes to the Women of Faith Study Bible. Tricia's written numerous novels inspired by World War II veterans, including her new release Remembering You. Tricia has a weekly radio show Living Inspired and loves to share inspiring, true stories. The Goyer family live in Arkansas.
For more information please visit

About Remembering You:

35-year-old Ava Andrews' dream job is interrupted by an unusual request--fulfill her 84-year-old grandfather's last wish by joining him on a battle site tour of Europe. Ava is sure her boss will refuse her request. But, instead, he gives her a directive of his own--to videotape the tour and send it back as mini-segments for the show she produces.
As if juggling these two things isn't hard enough, Ava is soon surprised again ... twice. First, Ava and Grandpa Jack arrive in Europe, only to discover the tour is cancelled. Unwilling to let down her grandfather or her boss, Ava and Grandpa Jack head out on their own. Then, while they're on their way, the pair soon meet up with Paul, her grandpa's best friend, and his grandson Dennis. The same Dennis who just happens to be Ava's first love.
Before she knows it, Ava and Dennis are swept down memory lane as they visit the sites that are discussed in the history books. And even though Ava's videotaping old soldiers, she can see their youth, their hopes and fears, and their pride in their eyes. Soon Ava learns the trip isn't just for them ... it's for her too--especially for her heart.

Watch a video about the real-life stories Remembering You is based on.

Read an excerpt.

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FTC Disclaimer:  I received this book from Litfuse Publicity for an honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way except receiving the book for free.  

I do receive commission for purchases made through my B&N and The Book Despository Links included in my posts, but this money goes towards funding giveaways and shipping for the giveaways I run. :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Win Chill Run by Russell Brooks

Want to win one of ten ebook copies of Chill Run by Russell Brooks?  Simply leave a comment on his blog post.  The giveaway ends Wednesday November 30, and 10 winners will be drawn by Russell's cat Chilton on Thursday December 1.  Again don't enter here, enter on his blog post.

My review will be coming soon.

Chill Run by Russell Brooks
Release:  December 1, 2011

You know a publicity stunt has backfired when someone dies. 

Starving author Eddie Barrow, Jr., will do anything to get a book deal with a NYC publisher. Even if it means getting caught by the media while engaging in S&M with a female celebrity as a publicity stunt. What Eddie gets instead are details of a billion dollar fraud scheme from a suicidal client who's fatally shot minutes later. Now on the run from the law and the killers, Eddie seeks help from two unlikely friends—an alcoholic and a dominatrix. 

With few resources, Eddie races to clear his name, unveil the fraud scheme, and expose the killers before he becomes their next victim

Book Review: Hospice Tails by Debra Stang #HospiceTails

Hospice Tails by Debra Stang
Publisher:, Inc.
Publish Date: May 31, 2011
Paperback, 108 pages 
Non-Fiction, Anthology
 ISBN: 978-1614342618

My Review:
Hospice Tails is a quick read and much lighter than one might think given the subject matter.  I jumped at the chance to do this tour since I have a love of pets (especially cats) and a profound love and respect for Hospice after my Grandmother was cared for by Hospice after she broke her hip and never really recovered and then passed away almost 2 years ago.  So I wanted to read these stories as told by a Hospice worker of how pets were important at the end of life to the patients and families.

I enjoyed the stories, they were quick reads and I found none of them depressing at all.  Ms. Stang has a quick wit and a gift to tell the stories of how the animals were special (or not special, yet still important in one case) to each patient or family.  Each story is told completely and I got to know the pet and the patient and how Ms. Stang interacted with each patient.

Two things stood out to me in this book.  Pets were important in each case to the well-being of the patient and the family was the first one.  And second, Ms. Stang really cares about what she does and about each patient.  Not all the patients were eager for Hospice care, but through her thoroughness and drive to give them the best care possible I see that she gets to know them and does her best and this is what I see as the shining star of Hospice care.  It's the fact that they really do care.  I think Ms. Stang really brings this to light in this book whether she means to or not.  The pets provided the humor a lot of the time and Ms. Stang provided the heart.

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

About the Book:
Hospice Tails shares the stories of those without voices. This books tells the stories of fourteen pets and the role they played when their loved one was ill or dying. The stories range from sad to touching to downright hysterical. There was King, who had the hospice nurses very nervous. Until they realized he was a lap dog in a pit bull’s body. Jasper and Jackie, Amazon parrots who put on a daily concert for their owner, even on the last day of his life. As an Alzheimer’s patient’s world shrunk Washington, a golden retriever, became the only “person” he recognized. This book is ideal for animal lovers as well as those who are caretakers—either as a profession or for a loved one.

About the Author: 
In addition to her parents and two sisters, Debra’s family includes four cats. The current crew includes a grouchy nine-year-old named Achilles; an orange tabby and alpha male named, appropriately enough, Alexander, and a black and white long-haired cat with attitude named Leroux. Then there’s the foster cat named Pumpkin. Of course it all started with a three-month-old brown-and-gray tabby named Calypso who had strong feeling about most people. And not warm fuzzy feelings. Calypso even had the dubious honor of being banned by not one, but two vets.

When not caring for cats or writing, Debra spent many years as a social worker. She worked with AIDS patients, emergency room patients, and those with Alzheimer’s. Her final years as a social worker were spent with hospice patients. Although some would view that as a depressing job Debra chose to view herself as a catalyst helping people make their final hopes and dreams come true. Sometimes it was making up with a family member after a decades long feud or leaving behind the stress of the office to reconnect with another aspect of their personality.

Debra took a clue from her patients and recently decided her writing – for years a part-time career – couldn’t wait any longer. Worried she would become one of those people who would one day say, “I wish I had…” she handed in her resignation and is now living her dream as a full time writer.


FTC Information: I received through WOW (Women on Writing) tours for an honest review. 

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