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Friday, September 30

Friday Blog Hops

Book Blogger Hop

Question of the week: In honor of Banned Books Week, what is your favorite “banned or frequently challenged book?
My Answer: "Forever" by Judy Blume pops into my mind, but my favorite would be the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine.

Question of the week: 

What book that hasn't been turned into a movie (yet) would you most like to see make it to the big screen, and who would you like cast as your favorite character?

My Answer: The Cell by Stephen King, Fear Street series by R.L. Stine, and a remake of Ghost Story by Peter Staub, all with new actors who can act!

Thursday, September 29

The Night Circus Review & Giveaway

The Night Circus
BY: Erin Morgenstern
ISBN: 978-0-385-53463-5
Pages: 387
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

Over the past few months there has been a lot a buzz over the debut novel of Erin Morgenstern. I was delighted and honored to receive a review copy from Doubleday. When I removed the book from the packaging, the enchanting cover dazzled me. After I finished reading another book, I picked up The Night Circus and entered into a new magical world that I have never seen before. As I began reading, I couldn’t help but think of the book Something Wicked This Way Come by Ray Bradbury, where a mysterious night circus suddenly appears. Obviously the author is heavily influenced on old fairy tales. The descriptions are written in such detail that I could imagine being right there in circus tent, even breathing in the air.

Despite all the hype, I think the book was somewhat flat in places, especially at the beginning, where there was too much telling and not enough showing. The second  half of the book is written better and is more intriguing to read. The love story between the two illusionists is realistically written, but there was just something missing from the characters - not enough depth to them. However, I did enjoy the Burgess sisters. The Night Circus does have originality to it, but it is not flawless as critics have observed. It is a decent debut novel, full of magical descriptions and a refreshing plot. I look forward to Erin Morgenstern’s next novel.

*I would like to thank Doubleday for sending me a copy to review.


2 copies of The Night Circus courtesy of Doubleday. 
Open to followers of this blog with a US mailing address
Ends October 13, 2011

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The two winners will be announced in a seperate post on October 14, 2011.


ARC Review - The Betrayal

The Betrayal
BY: Jerry B. Jenkins
ISBN: 978-1-4143-0908-8
Pages: 290
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

I’m a fan of Jerry B. Jenkins novels, but I didn’t like his pervious precinct novel, so I hesitated before signing up to review an ARC copy of The Betrayal. I’m glad that I did, as The Betrayal is major improvement over his last novel.  This time around Detective Boone Drake is recovering from bringing down the biggest street gangs in Chicago history. After a near-fatal attempt on a witness, Detective Boone must unravel the mystery. Someone inside the Chicago Police Department has leaked information to the shooter. Detective Boone doesn’t know who to trust as he tries to protect the witness.

The Betrayal is an intense, fast read from the very first page until the very ending, but that’s not to say there aren’t a few problems. Midway through the novel, the plot does get a little predictable. Despite this, I was still able to enjoy the book. A must read for mystery lovers.

* I would like to thank Tyndale for sending me a copy to review.

Review - Vigilante

BY: Robin Parrish
PUBLISHED BY: Bethany House
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0608-5
Pages: 363
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

In a world where the economy has collapsed and violence has increased on the streets, an ex-elite solider, Nolan Gray, decides to clean up the streets himself as The Hand. He gets help from his former military commander, Arjay - whose talent is engineering, and Alice. Soon Nolan has an archenemy - crime boss Yuri Vasko.

Vigilante is full of cliché’s and unsuccessfully rips off the comic genre, like Batman and The Punisher. There are a few well written action scenes throughout the novel. Nolan Gray is an interesting character, but I felt there was just something missing. I like the plot premise, but it would have been better executed as a graphic novel or comic book instead of a Christian novel. Vigilante is written for male readers who love action novels, crime novels, and the occasional comic book. Overall, it was fun read, but the plot is not original and has been done to death.

*I would like to thank Bethany House for sending me a copy to review.

Wednesday, September 28

ARC Review: Once Upon a Groom

Once Upon a Groom
BY: Karen Rose Smith
ISBN: 978-0-373-65628-8
Pages: 224
Reviewed by Billy Burgess

  Zack Decker left his family ranch and his first love, Jenny, to go to film school. It’s now fifteen years later, and Zack is a successful Hollywood director determined to never go back to Miners Bluff. Out of the blue, Jenny Farber leaves a message informing him to attend their high school reunion. The reunion doesn’t go as plan as Jenny’s real intentions was to get Zack to talk to his father, Sila. Zack flies back to L.A., only to get another message from Jenny. This time she tells him that his father has collapsed.

There has been undeniable tension between Zack and his father over the years, but Zack returns to the ranch, the Rocky D, where Jenny works. Actually Jenny is more like a daughter to Sila than anything else. She persuades Zack to stay and help run the ranch until Sila is back on his feet, in which Zack agrees. Soon, their past feelings resurface, along with a secret Jenny has been hiding for fifteen years.

Once Upon a Groom is book two in the Reunion Bride series and is an irresistible read from the very first page. The love story between Zack and Jenny is realistically written. As a reader, you’ll easily connect with both characters as they must confront their past emotions. I recommend Once Upon a Groom to all romance readers.

*I would like to thank the author for sending me a copy to review. 

Tuesday, September 27

Transcript of Live Edit on ONLY HIS by Susan Mallery - CENSORED

Have you ever wanted an insider’s view into the editing process of the books you love? If so, you’re in for a treat! This is the transcript of a live edit between New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery ( and her editor at HQN Books, Tara Parsons. The book they’re discussing is ONLY HIS, the third book of the Hendrix triplets trilogy in the Fool’s Gold romances series.

A little background information: ONLY HIS features Nevada Hendrix and the man who was her first love in college, Tucker Janack. Unfortunately, Nevada wasn’t Tucker’s first love. They were friends, but he was completely enamored with his girlfriend at the time, the exotic artist Caterina. Without giving too much away… Nevada and Tucker had just one “romantic” encounter in college – Nevada’s first – and it was not a success, to say the least.

You will get some hints about the story in ONLY HIS in this transcript, but all true spoilers have been censored out. And now, Susan Mallery and Tara Parsons…

TP: I love your new haircut and color! I think I want to go platinum blond.
SM: Oh, honey. You don’t have the coloring for that.
TP: Hmmm, maybe blonde streaks?
SM: I like the brown!
TP: OK, well, the blonde triplets are my inspiration.
SM: Understandably.
TP: Time to start the actual edits?
SM: If we must!
TP: The word to watch for this time around is “interesting.”
SM: That’s one of the last things I do in a manuscript—look for word reps. It was “kind” last time.
TP: So on page 50, Tucker looks at Nevada and how she’s changed since college. Why does he view her differently?
SM: Aside from Cat’s influence on him?
TP: Yes, we need that extra bit – why does he see her in another light now?
SM: Part of it is just that he’s no longer ruled by his hormones the way he once was. He’s a little bit older, a little bit wiser. He’s more into substance than surface.
TP: I love Cat, by the way. She’s a great secondary character.
SM: She’s just fabulous. Actually, she’s sort of every woman’s nightmare. Cat is the kind of woman you pray your husband or boyfriend will never, ever lay eyes on, because there’s no way you can shine in comparison to her. She’s luminescent. Exotic, with lush, full lips and a body that makes men forget they even have a name, much less what it is. An Angelina Jolie type, a woman who understands her own power – and uses it.
TP: On page 89, what’s keeping them apart at this point? There’s no Cat.
SM: The horrible memory of their first night, he’s leaving at the end of his job, and Cat still does have a hold over him.
TP: Is him leaving as a conflict for them too close to the problem between Simon and Montana from ONLY YOURS?
SM: Also, his dad’s a womanizer. He’s not good at relationships. He’s been raised to think love makes you a fool.
TP: OK, and he does see Will acting like a fool for Jo, later?
SM: Oooh yes! Love makes you a fool. I’ll pump up the father.
TP: That way you can hold off on the revelation about Cat and prolong Tucker’s fear.
SM: He doesn’t know yet how he’ll react. He thinks he’ll be sucked back in.
TP: He’s scared of being alone with Cat because of that? But he can’t still be attracted to her if he’s the hero.
SM: No, no. He’s scared that he will be but we won’t see him attracted to her.
TP: I’d love it if you could add another scene from the past with the three of them together. It would be good to see their friendship.
SM: I can do that.
TP: Ok, I don’t have much big stuff. I did some line editing on the pages.
SM: Oh, good. I always like that.
TP: I worry about the scene where Nevada remembers their first night together.
SM: Well, you do have delicate sensibilities.
SM: You’d never make it in Blaze!
TP: I am too conservative. Maybe pull it back a notch. Less BLEEP, more BLEEP?
SM: Ok, I’ll revisit that one.
TP: There was an *awesome* sex scene later tho.
SM: In the bath? That took some time.
TP: Yes! And I love that she cleans the water up later . I would do that too.
SM: Ha. She had to wipe up the floors—she cares about her house, and I didn’t want readers to worry about the water!
TP: The scene with Max coming to the door for Denise was a bit anticlimactic. He just shows up randomly?
SM: I know, but it’s so romantic!
TP: Could it be a special day?
SM: I’ll make it more significant.
TP: Speaking of Denise and Max, you had a lot of hilarious parts in here.
SM: Montana’s book, ONLY YOURS, is so emotional, we had to have a fun romp this time!
TP: With Jo and Will and this “leaving quandary”…does it sound too similar to the main characters?
SM: I’ll make it clear—his leaving is a way of her protecting herself.
TP: And speaking of Jo and the BLEEP BLEEP, could it be that she wasn’t actually the one directly responsible? But something really terrible still happens so it has more weight.
SM: I’m good with that.
TP: On 331, Will and Jo just broke up because she revealed her past. That could be a nice source of tension for Nevada and Tucker.
SM: Like they take sides?
TP: Yes, if Tucker’s using Will/Jo as one of his hang ups….
SM: Oh! Exactly. Ok.
TP: So…I’m wondering about the BLEEP.
SM: The giant BLEEP?
TP: The sculpture. Does it look like an actual BLEEP?
SM: What I was picturing was the spaceship from Men in Black II.
TP: Ha! Altho, it should look like a BLEEP, or else it doesn’t make sense for everyone to be so offended.
SM: I’m actually writing a note to myself. “Make BLEEP more real.”
SM: Got it.
TP: Can we talk through the two subplots? Max/Denise and Jo/Will? Can you trim?
SM: Earlier you said you wanted another scene of Max/Denise.
TP: But maybe then too much will be going on?
SM: Ok, so you need to pick!
TP: I know, I know. What about the arrival in Chicago?
SM: She’ll come after him before “I can’t believe you’re doing this again!”
TP: I like that. More of an arc. Oh, and of course, I loved the ending. I wanted more descriptions of the triplets’ wedding dresses!
SM: I can do that.
TP: I can’t wait for the goats in Heidi’s book, by the way.
SM: AND llamas will herd the goats in the 2012 Fool’s Gold cowboy books. And the feral cows are rounded up and sent away.
TP: Ha! I can tell you’re doing animal research.
SM: And the next book I sent you, BAREFOOT SEASON, I’m warning you, you’ll cry. Be careful reading on the train.
TP: I’m sure it will be amazing! I’ll be reading it on my way to sales conference in Florida.
SM: Have fun!
TP: As long as I’m not near gators or large bugs, it’ll be fun.
SM: In Florida, the bugs drive at night. In Houston, some claim they form gangs and knock over liquor stores.
TP: You are too much. Now I’m going to be scared AND crying from your book.
SM: I try.
To see the uncensored version of this transcript, visit on Tuesday, October 4.

Sunday, September 25


By Karen Rose Smith

Remember the furor over the royal wedding? Kate became a princess and William became Prince Charming. We watched the vows with tears in our eyes and couldn't wait for that first kiss. Cinderella might be an ages-old fairytale but the storyline encourages dreams from the little girls who watch Disney-princess movies to the women who faithfully follow the Bachelor and the Bachelorette. Subliminally, our curiosity in relationships and interest in public romances is all about the happily-ever-after storyline. Can two people fall in love and commit to each other for a lifetime?

My husband and I recently celebrated our fortieth wedding anniversary. I wouldn't be able to write romances from my heart unless I believed in them. When I was a little girl, I remember pretending a lace curtain was a bridal veil. My girlfriends and I reenacted the marriage ceremony.  Recently by BFF's daughter asked if she could play dress-up with her mom's wedding gown. Are the dreams of little girls now any different than ten or twenty or forty years ago? Loving and being loved drive our collective consciousness. Have you ever been in the midst of a crowd at a wedding and watched everyone grow misty-eyed? The emotion that takes over—other than the love we have for the couple saying the vows—is hope. The Cinderella fairytale can give a woman hope that she can find love, look beautiful in a bridal gown and believe in the vows she recites on her wedding day.

Little girls aspire to be princesses. Many women long to believe they will find their one true love who is kind, gentle, charming and the man they can spend the rest of their lives with. Prince Charming doesn't have to be a "prince" on a white steed. He just has to convince the woman he loves that she's his Cinderella.  Are fairy-tale endings possible?  I believe women long to believe they are. That's why the romance genre lives on and why our hearts melt when a couple says, "I do."

Karen Rose Smith is the best-selling, award-winning author of 75 published romances.  Readers can visit her website @, follow her on Twitter @ karenrosesmith and on Facebook (Karen Rose Smith author), and access her e-zine In Touch @ for new releases and contests.

Saturday, September 24

Great Finds Issue #100


The Sinner
by Tess Gerritsen

The Lifeguard
by Richie Tankersley Cusick

The World's Finest Mystery & Crime Stories: Second Annual Collection 
Edited by Ed Gorman

Friday, September 23

Friday Rambling with Hops

I just came back from the dentist and my lip is still numb. Do you notice anything different about the blog? It took me several sleepless nights to redesign the blog to a more cleaner look.

A few weeks ago I bought the DVD Children of the Corn: Genesis. I've only seen a handful of the films from the series, but I was eager to watch it, despite the horrible reviews. The movie is barely connected to the original movie, with so-so acting and an extremely low budget. The movie is called Children of the Corn and there is only one main kid locked in a shed, not counting the children at the beginning and ending. The movie is short at just over 80 minutes. It's not a great horror movie, but it's somewhat more watchable than some of the other sequels.

Two new Goosebumps DVDs are out this month: Goosebumps: Ghost Beach and Goosebumps Attack of the Mutant. Fox and Scholastic have been releasing at least two DVDs a year, before then it was VHS, which I have picked up a few at thrift stores. I didn't even know the series was out on DVD until I found six of them in the five dollar bin at Walmart several years back. With each new year I eagerly await the new releases. Ghost Beach consist of three 22 minute episodes: Ghost Beach, The Barking Ghost and Be Careful What You Wish For. Attack of the Mutant contains: Attack of the Mutant Part 1 and 2, and Phantom of the Auditorium. All of the tales are creepy, except the comic-silly Attack of the Mutant which really suffers from having a low-budget. The Goosebumps series aired on Fox Kids during the mid to late 90s. The plots suffer from the 22 to 44 minute episode time limit. Each episode has a crazy Twilight Zone like ending, which helps make up for the bad acting.

In the mail this week: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern; Baby; It's Cold Outside by Susan May Warren; The Mercy by Beverly Lewis; and The Wonder of Your Love by Beth Wiseman.

Question of the Week:
Do you have a favorite series that you read over and over again? Tell us a bit about it and why you keep on revisiting it.

My Answer: 
I keep gong back to the Fear Street and occasionally the old Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine. They were a joy to read when I was a kid and they still are fun to read today. Some of the books are still extremely scary. I'm surprised to that there has never been any movies or TV series made from the Fear Street books.

Question of the week: As a blog reader, what information (besides the book review) do you like to see in other bloggers’ reviews of books? (For example – Author bio, social media links, book synopsis from Amazon/Goodreads or one written by the blogger, page count, ISBN number, link to purchase, etc.)

My Answer: A link to purchase and page count.