Man’s Best Friend

7171908 by
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Me and Bernie working a case. There’s nothing better. The wind whipping my fur, the barking—I was barking?—my head out the window taking in the breeze and the smells—don’t even get me started on the desert smells after a hard rain. The squirrels and the choke—squirrel—collar and the tumbleweeds and steak (juicy deliciousness) and bacon (definitely not the crisp kind) and little rats and weasels and biting pant legs and opening doors and hamburger and chew strips and an entire family pack of bacon—don’t even get me started.

And I bark and Iggy barks and I bark and Iggy barks, and then Iggy disappears—no, he’s back again—and I slurp fresh water (the smell) and of course I like Slim Jims—what kind of a silly question is that?—and silly stoners and Bernie needs a loaner and we’re off and running on the case, or maybe that’s just me. But then I see a squirrel and a Frisbee and of course I like fetch—what kind of a question is that?—and the Porsche with its clickety-clack-clack sound before it all breaks down. Bernie boxing for show and nearly losing all his dough and fast food—where? did I miss it?—and ice cubes (like a cold biscuit before it dissolves in my mouth) and special treats and sitting in the backseat—let me tell you, it’s not as fun as shotgun.

Holy hell, Chet and I could be best friends, but he’s man’s best friend, so it’s all good. But good doesn’t even begin to describe this massive amount of fun. Chet may have the attention span of a fruit fly, but he’s got the voice of an experienced gumshoe digging through the entrails of his next case, and he’ll see it through all the way to the end, even if he manages to get sidetracked every three-and-a-half minutes.

The sidetracks, though, are where things tend to get interesting. Sure, there’s a mystery—albeit a slightly simple one, but this is a dog we’re talking about after all—and sure, it’s solved by the end but the real excitement lies in the and back roads and dog shows—perfect for a world-class gumshoe of the canine variety.

I’ll need to hold my fedora in my hand the next time I see Spencer Quinn—there was a brief encounter at the Albany Bouchercon—because he really nailed Chet’s voice. Nailed it so well that I thought I was a dog for a few hours, and I really, really want to be a dog all over again sometime soon. It’s a good thing I have TO FETCH A THIEF in the reading queue. Because if I didn’t, I’d certainly need to put it there…like right now.

Nebulous Bad Dude

17411131 by
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

If I were a woman, I might conduct a séance, and then throttle the spirit of Ian Fleming. He’s not a bad guy, mind you, but just once, I’d like to see a female character give James Bond a run for his money. So far I’m still waiting for a return on my initial investment. And I know this is one investment that probably won’t pan out, but I can still hold onto a faint glimmer of false hope.

Vesper Lynd did come close, but she ultimately failed when paired next to Bond’s wit and charm. Tiffany Case, however, pales in comparison. But you don’t read James Bond to gain profound insights into the female psyche, unless you want to end up several miles in the wrong direction with a broken radiator and a flat tire.

I do find it interesting that once again Bond is tortured, and once again the reader completely misses out on the experience. Mr. Fleming must have decided that he couldn’t top the scene in CASINO ROYALE, which brought a whole new meaning to the word punishment, so he decided to not even try. Life, though, proves a whole lot more interesting and fun and exciting, when you toss a cement wall in the middle of the highway every once in a while.

While I enjoyed DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, the main bad dude felt a bit nebulous, almost like an evil presence more than an evil person. And while the action was present and accounted for, it felt a bit less than full throttle, and the scenes seemed to end much too quickly.

I’ve enjoyed the Bond study thus far, simply because of his vast influence, and I’m happy to continue my journey, but I am thankful there’s no test at the end.

The Joys Of Marketing And PR

Guest post provided by K D Grace.

With the power of social media, the rise of self-publishing and the popularity of eBooks, more and more PR and marketing is falling into the author’s lap. If I had to venture a guess, I’d say I spend a good third of my time on PR and marketing – sometimes more. I have two websites and a popular blog which gets updated at least four times a week. I’m on Facebook and Twitter multiple times during the day. Oh, I’m not a surfer. If I’m online it’s because I’m working. I’ll be honest, I’d much rather be writing stories.

The good news is that the same elements that bite into my writing time offer me much more control over that essential PR and marketing than I would have had even ten years ago. Obviously SourceBooks’ PR and marketing folks have been incredibly helpful by booking me blog tours and putting The Initiation of Ms Holly out for early reviews, but I have to be willing to run with what they offer me. That means writing blog posts, doing chats, tweeting and using FaceBook and Pinterest. That means constantly generating new content for my blog and making sure people are aware of my latest news. That means me doing everything I can to make sure people know my name and know the K D Grace brand.

I learned early on that I’m not just selling my novels, but I’m selling K D Grace. More than that, I’m building a relationship with readers. I love to read as much as I love to write, and if I find an author whose work I really enjoy, I want to know more about her. I don’t just want to know writing stuff, but I want to know her hobbies, her funny stories, what she loves, what she hates, what her favourite colour is. I want to know all of those things PLUS I want to know the story behind why her character did what they did and what inspired her to write such a tail.

The Initiation of Ms Holly was inspired by being stuck in the dark in a malfunctioning train in the Eurostar Tunnel while trying not to think about the gazillion gallons of the English Channel above my head. That’s unique; my readers like that I know exactly how Rita Holly feels in those opening scenes of the novel.

Beyond that, all of my fans know that I grow my own veg and that I have a reputation for writing what they refer to as ‘garden porn.’ They also know that I love the outdoors and I love to walk. In fact I love it so much I walked across England, from coast to coast with my husband. Neither of those two tidbits have anything to do with The Initiation of Ms Holly, nor with my writing. But they give my readers a chance to know me better. I want my readers to know me. I want them to follow me on Twitter and friend me on Facebook. I want to be on their minds. I want them to follow my blog and check out my website, and make comments so I get to know them. All of these things are under my control, all of these things I can give to my readers so that we can build a relationship. With the landscape in publishing changing so rapidly, every day it becomes more and more likely that more and more of that relationship, that brand building, that making myself and my work known and easily available will be my responsibility

With the meteoric success of Fifty Shades of Grey, erotic romance has taken up residence on the bookstore shelves alongside the rest of the romance genre, which is nothing but good news. The popularity of eBook readers has also boosted the demand and sales for erotica of all sorts, by offering anonymity to readers — though with the more subtle covers, that’s becoming less of an issue. Having said that, one of the very best things eBook readers have done is offer readers of all genre instant gratification at the tap of a finger. That makes having a strong, easily Googleable online presence even more essential for all authors, since not only are sales of eBooks dwarfing print book sales, but the profit margin for authors is greater with eBooks. Having said that, there’s still nothing like the feel of a print book.

One of the unique situations erotica writers deal with in their efforts at marketing and PR is that though no one would imagine Thomas Harris had to become a cannibalistic serial killer in order to write The Silence of the Lambs, an amazing number of people tend to think that surely we erotica writers must have done everything in our stories before we wrote them. While it’s true, I was stuck in a train, you can be confident that I didn’t have nearly as much fun there as Rita Holly did. Neither have I ever had sex on a Harley while careening down a British motorway. As for being a part of a secret sex cult, well it would hardly be secret if I told you, now would it.

20549484K D Grace believes Freud was right. In the end, it really IS all about sex, well sex and love. And nobody’s happier about that than she is, otherwise, what would she write about?

When she’s not writing, K D is veg gardening. When she’s not gardening, she’s walking. She walks her stories, and she’s serious about it. She and her husband have walked Coast to Coast across England, along with several other long-distance routes. For her, inspiration is directly proportionate to how quickly she wears out a pair of walking boots. She also enjoys martial arts, reading, watching the birds and anything that gets her outdoors.

K D has erotica published with SourceBooks, Xcite Books, Harper Collins Mischief Books, Mammoth, Cleis Press, Black Lace, Erotic Review, Ravenous Romance, Sweetmeats Press and others.

K D’s critically acclaimed erotic romance novels include The Initiation of Ms Holly and The Pet Shop. Her paranormal erotic novel, Body Temperature and Rising, the first book of her Lakeland Heatwave trilogy, was listed as honorable mention on Violet Blue’s Top 12 Sex Books for 2011. Books two and three, Riding the Ether and Elemental Fire, are now also available. She was nominated for ETO’s Best Erotic Author 2013.

K D Grace also writes hot romance as Grace Marshall. An Executive Decision, Identity Crisis, and The Exhibition are all available.

Click here to read my review of The Initiation Of Ms. Holly.

Identity Crisis

18859308 by
My Rating: 2/5 Stars

I know I shouldn’t complain about free books, but just over three months to approve a NetGalley request and nine days after the book’s release date. Excuse me…what? Now my reviewing queue is all out of whack, and I feel like I’ve been hung from the rafters by my ankles by a former NFL linebacker.

I suppose I should have counted on the fact that my request might have been approved, but I’m a writer, and I know how rejection works. If you don’t hear anything after a month or so (sometimes longer), you mark that particular request down as a no, and you move on with your life. I know I did. But I was tossed back in the game. So here we are you and I.

Before we stroll too far in this particular endeavor together, though, I should mention this novel is Christian fiction. So if that ain’t how you like to spike your punch bowl, then you might want to exit stage right, or duck and cover. I won’t be offended, but Jesus might.

All this novel needed was a funeral. *BEGIN SPOILER* I mean, we have a wedding and an arranged marriage and painting and coins and kidnapping and running and an identity shift and a fake name and competing plotlines and a multi-billion dollar inheritance (wouldn’t that be nice?) and charitable giving and are you confused yet? Because I sure felt like I was headed in that direction, if I didn’t already find that particular exit. *END SPOILER*

Faith reminds me of a blanket wrapped tight around you. It’s beautiful and comforting and wonderful and protecting. It fills your life with purpose and hope and promise, and it points you in the right direction, guiding you along a path better than the one you could have chosen for yourself. But it can be a thin veil, and when it shatters or tears apart, it’s completely ripped to shreds, and those wonderful, comforting feelings disintegrate into a cloud of dust. Charlotte is broken, and UNSPOKEN covers her journey to find her way back.

This book felt like it had a bit of an identity crisis. Sure, there was suspense, and there was romance, but I never felt like the two blended together as seamlessly as they should have. Instead of peanut butter and jelly, it was more oil and water.

I didn’t hate it, but I can’t say I particularly liked it either. In the end, I just sort of shrugged my shoulders and set the book aside, as I moved on to the next one.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.

Entertaining Read

17379070Moonraker by
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

I have to say MOONRAKER didn’t have as much action as either of the two previous Bond novels. At least at the beginning anyway. Sure there was the consummate card game and torture scene, but neither hit as hard or as fast as what happened in CASINO ROYALE. But this was certainly an entertaining read, even though the female characters seemed to wilt at the first sign of trouble, or at least gave the distinct impression of the likelihood of such an occurrence.

I know it’s too much to ask (and it’s certainly not going to stop me from reading the rest of said novels), but just once I’d like to see a woman kick some serious butt in this series. I’d have to say the closest female so far has been Vesper Lynd, and even she had her flaws. Gala Brand held a certain amount of intrigue and promise, but I felt like the afterburner element was missing from her character.

Bond does show a bit of his human side in this one by not actually getting the girl (being just a mere mortal like the rest of us), which does make his character a bit more interesting, even if said girl (Gala) does notice his ample charm. And he, in turn, notices her abundant curves. Yes, these novels might be called fluff, but like Bond, these novels hold a sophisticated air and charm that isn’t easily quantifiable, and that’s what makes them so gosh darn entertaining.

Mystery From A Dog’s Perspective

6282379Dog On It by
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

If you ever wanted to stick your head inside a dog’s brain, wiggle it around a little, and see what decides to pop out, then DOG ON IT is the book for you. If you’re a mystery lover with a heightened sense of curiosity about said dog, then that’s even better. If you don’t love dogs on some sort of basic level, then you might find yourself in a state of uncertainty. Or maybe you like unique voices in detective fiction. But the bottom line is it’s all about the dog, and Chet fills every page with his unique perspective.

This book was an easy read, but it was a darn fine enjoyable one, too. Chet was lovable, affectionate, filled with happiness and joy, and just so darn cute. He changed direction about as often as Britney Spears changes her underwear, but I got caught up in whatever scent, or thread, or squirrel happened to pop into view.

As for unique voices, though, I’m drawn to those like cars are to potholes. Chet made me feel like I was driving down I-25 with my head stuck out the window and the wind assaulting me, as my nostrils filled with the fresh air after a brief desert rain. The rhythm of the sentences, the quick turn of direction, and the bubbles that seemed to pop with the utmost ease allowed me to believe I was inside Chet’s head every step of the way.

Sure, Chet had his faults, but he was as lovable on the first page as he was on the last. And sure the mystery could have been more complicated, but this is a dog’s perspective after all. It helps to look at it from a slightly tinted glass. Just smile and wave boys, smile and wave, because Chet is here to stay.


16058621 by
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

I’d like to thank my friend Delee for throwing down the gauntlet and shoving me with both hands toward the finish line. I couldn’t help but accept her challenge, and now I’d like to offer up one to you, my friends. If you haven’t read her reviews, you need to do so right now. I’ll wait twiddles thumbs and taps footand we’re back.

If that wasn’t enough history on this novel, I have a bit more for you. I met the lovely Jamie Mason at Bouchercon where we briefly discussed Goodreads—and no I didn’t mention that I was a card-carrying member—although I suppose I could have, and then puffed out my chest accordingly, only to be smacked from behind by the next guy in line. While her smiling personality didn’t persuade me in any way with this review, it’s one of those nice-to-know pieces of information that I like to keep in my hip pocket for emergency purposes.

I don’t really know what to think of THREE GRAVES FULL. Smarter people than me have rated it four stars, but since I’m not that smart I’m going to rate it at three, and end up in the same boat as Switzerland and Canada headed toward the Arctic Circle.

On the one hand, the writing popped higher than a jack-in-the-box, and I was left wishing God had actually granted me a few more IQ points, so that my prose might be wonderful and lyrical and fantastical. And I could form more than a coherent thought or two before—squirrel—the next distraction. There was plenty to distract my mind, and more than one storyline to keep things extra interesting, but then again, that might have been why I ended up seeing a scurry of squirrels around nearly every bend, and instead of taking me a few days (like Delee), this novel took me a few months, and I even added an additional one on for good measure.

On the other hand, I would have preferred a bit more action with my lyrical prose, and a stronger spine on Jason Getty, instead of one that bent rather abruptly at the slightest provocation. It really felt as though this novel tried to do a bit too much amidst its 320 pages—a darkly humorous literary novel with a clever twist and a tense pace. But I’m also fairly certain this is one of those it’s not you, it’s me instances.

Pushing Through The Ruckus

If you can walk around like a peacock strutting with your feathers out, flashing your naughty bits for all the world to see, and look at yourself in the mirror seven times a day, you’re probably doing just fine. And you don’t have to be George Clooney to make looking in the mirror a rather stupendous and momentous occasion. What you have to do, though, is reach some sublime level with your writing talents. You have to embrace your strengths, recognize your weaknesses, realize you have flaws on display, and somehow be okay with this entire process and experience. You have to recognize that you may never make a lot of money, and that no one but you and a few trusted friends may ever read what you have to say, appreciate it, or possibly even enjoy it, and that you may have a string of rejection letters from agents and editors that stretches to the moon and back. Yet, you still have to get up each morning with a smile on your face, a gleam in your eye that could turn about six dozen heads, and pound away at the keyboard like there’s no tomorrow or yesterday, only right now.

You’re probably thinking that it’s fucking impossible. And maybe it is. Putting yourself on display and cutting open blood vessels takes courage and guts and a transcendent belief in some higher purpose. A higher calling where you reach outside yourself and find some slice of adrenaline that takes you over the next hill and pushes the next set of barriers and roadblocks your way. Even if you like to think positive (and I certainly hope you do), obstacles will cross your path, testing your allegiance to the craft, and trying to steer you off course into the rosebushes. Temptation will lurk everywhere; happiness may seem like some elusive concept better reserved for luxury boxes; and you may have some trouble deciphering the two concepts. But you have to find a way to push through the ruckus and muck, otherwise you’ll quit before you’ve even started the game.