Tag Archives: romance

No Strings Attached

The last two movies I have reviewed were great. No Strings Attached is not. It’s got two really good actors in it, Natalie Portman, and Ashton Kutcher, but that’s not enough to make it interesting. It’s in the comedy/romance genre and the plot goes something like this: Two old friends decide to become “sex buddies” and avoid the usual relationship dramas. But love is stronger than their their wills, and they find themselves falling in love, thereby breaking the rules they set up as they embarked on their “sex buddy” relationship. Right, flimsy plot. In fact, it’s boring. And the character played by Portman, a doctor who is scared as hell of relationships is not only simplistic, it’s dumb. The film was released in 2011 and was directed by Ivan Reitman.

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Each Angel Burns, by Kathleen Valentine

I posted an interview of Kathleen Valentine on this blog a little while ago (You can read the interview here). The last few weeks have been crazy but I have now found the time to read her novel, Each Angel Burns. I usually don’t read books in the romance genre, with the exception of Twilight, which I still found hard to finish, so this was a bit of a novelty for me. I really enjoyed Each Angel Burns and read it very quickly. Valentine’s writing is beautiful. Her descriptions are evocative and make you feel you are there. In fact, after reading the book, I bet you will want to see the place for yourself. The story takes place in Massachusetts, where the self-titled “wild bunch”, who played football together back in high school, gather every Thursday night for dinner and beer. More than thirty years have passed and the group has changed, but they are still together. The novel takes us through their journey, a journey of friendship, of loss, and of love. There is also a mystery to be solved. It’s easy to get into the characters’ heads and to like them. They’re real. The plot is good, with an interesting twist at the end. The only negative for me was one or two weird jumps in time; these flashbacks themselves are not the problem but it is how they are placed in the story that feels weird. It does not affect the story however, and Each Angel Burns is a beautiful read.

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Stacy Juba: “Sink or Swim”

Stacy Juba is the author of the mystery novels Twenty-Five Years Ago Today and Sink or Swim (Mainly Murder Press), as well as the patriotic children’s picture book The Flag Keeper and the children’s e-book Victoria Rose and the Big Bad Noise. Her young adult paranormal thriller Dark Before Dawn will be released by Mainly Murder Press in January 2012. Her young adult hockey novels Face-Off and Offsides will be released in 2011 and 2012. She is a former journalist with more than a dozen writing awards to her credit.

Hello Stacy, could you describe yourself in five words?

Creative, imaginative, analytical, determined, sensitive.

What can you tell us about “Sink or Swim”?

Sink or Swim is a cross between a cozy mystery and a romantic suspense novel, about Cassidy Novak, a personal trainer who attracts a stalker after appearing on a reality show set aboard a Tall Ship. Most of the book takes place back in Cassidy’s hometown, after the reality show has ended. The book has been endorsed by former contestants from Survivor, The Amazing Race, and Big Brother, but you don’t need to be a reality show fan to enjoy the story.

Who’s your favourite author?

I admire J.K. Rowling because of the depths of her imagination and her ability to produce book after book in the Harry Potter series under such public scrutiny and deadline pressure. 

Do you have tips for budding writers?

I would recommend connecting with other writers through an in-person local critique group, on-line writers communities, or professional writing organizations, and finding critique partners to exchange manuscripts with so that you can get feedback on your own work and hone your editing skills by critiquing the work of other writers. Be willing to rewrite and revise when necessary. A first draft is rarely publishable. Go through your manuscript focusing on aspects such as dialogue, description, pacing, conflict, internal thought, and plot. You need to make sure each of these aspects is strong before looking at the manuscript as a whole.  

What are you working on now?

I’m preparing for the release of my young adult/adult paranormal crossover novel Dark Before Dawn scheduled to come out from Mainly Murder Press in January 2012. I’m also updating and revising my out-of print young adult hockey novel Face-Off and its unpublished sequel Offsides, preparing to release an e-book edition of each and a double edition paperback with both books in one volume, with the first e-book debuting in Fall 2011.

Where can we find you online?

My web site is http://stacyjuba.com/blog/ and my blog is http://stacyjuba.com/blog/blog/ .

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Borislava Borissova: “Affairs of the Heart”

Hi Borislava, could you please describe yourself in a few words?

I consider myself a writer by soul because, although I have been working as a recruiter in the field of Human Resources for years in my free time; history and writing are the important passions of my life. I love interesting stories and legends. I love adventures that take us through the ages and help us to experience countless earthly and celestial places. I love Sofia, Sicily, Istanbul, Rome, Seville, and London. The towns are like museums under open sky. I like discovering these scenes of legends and secrets, history, journeys, culture, and ancient remains. 

What can you tell us about “Affairs of the Heart”?

My second book Affairs of the Heart will be published in a few weeks. There are also two novellas, the contemporary love drama The last secrets of the ancient island” and the historical love drama A Love in Time of Wars“.

 “A Love in Time of Wars” is a turn of Twentieth Century love story. Scenes of passion, hatred, love and great efforts for changes in peace affect everyone’s life in two warring nations. Differences abound in cultures, religions, languages, traditions and so on, for a young Bulgarian girl and a Turkish officer trying to overcome the obstacles between them. The wars become the past, the past becomes history and through the years only love is still alive in a very beautiful tale to remember.

The Last Secrets of The Ancient Island” is a story about loneliness and the fears of loneliness that can change our world with the same strength as strong love or hatred. A series of mishaps in an old town puts each main character under suspicion. An unknown driver has a tragic motivation to take another life. At the end, with the unveiling of the last mysteries of ancient sights unexplored by historians and archaeologists, it becomes clear that we are born alone, we die alone, but life is our chance to live with love. If possible… If we so wish.

Who’s your favourite author?

Mikhail Bulgakov with Master and Margarita. I wish his heroes were real and I could meet  Wolland, Begemot etc. I even don’t want to bid farewell to them so I have read a big pile of reviews about the book. I find it very interesting to know how other people perceive the stories, characters which found “home” in my soul and mind. The reviews appear as a kind of sequel to the books themselves, and I enjoy spending some extra time with the heroes.

Do you have tips for budding writers?

Nothing ends with the end of the story. When the last sentence is written, the pages are wrapped with beautiful covers in warm colors and you take a deep breath because everything is behind you… but for the author the difficulties just start. She or he must put tremendous efforts to overcome all obstacles on the road to reach the readers. Writing isn’t an easy process but finding a publisher is not any simpler.

What are you working on now?

My next book Somewhere Around Us (fiction).

Where can we find you online?



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Author interview: Kathleen Valentine

Each Angel Burns, by Kathleen Valentine, is on top of the pile of books I intent to read next. I have not been able to read as much as I normally do lately, as I am based in Western China for a few weeks, and have hardly got any time to breathe. On top of my normal “duties”, I have taken on a volunteer role in a school for the deaf and teach English to deaf Chinese children. Quite a challenge, but I will write a post about this soon. In this article, Kathleen Valentine, who has published several books in the literary romance category, tells us a little more about Each Angel Burns.

Jerome: What can you tell us about Each Angel Burns?

Kathleen: Each Angel Burns is a contemporary novel about three people entering their fifties and facing big changes – things they never thought they would have to face at this point in their lives. Gabe has spent his life as a hard-working, devoted husband and father who has always done the right things for his family, his cantankerous old father, and his brother. Peter is Gabe’s best friend from childhood. He is a priest and a teacher and has always taken pride in being a devout priest and a good, supportive friend. Maggie is the woman Peter was once in love with. He wanted to leave the seminary for her but she broke off with him to marry a wealthy man who could give her everything Peter couldn’t, or so he thought. Now all of them are older and things are changing. Gabe’s kids are grown and on their own and he realises that he and his wife have nothing in common any more. Maggie has left her abusive husband and has purchased an abandoned convent that she intends to turn into a sculpture studio. When she encounters Peter again after all these years she realises she never stopped loving him and he finds out that she didn’t leave him for the reasons he thought she did.

Many mysteries surround the convent that Maggie now lives in and which Peter persuades Gabe to help her renovate. In the past there were wild stories about an angel with a flaming spear that protected the nuns there. More recently the bodies of young women have been discovered washed up near its shores. Strange things start happening to the people there now, too. Gabe discovers his wife is cheating on him. Maggie’s husband won’t respond to her calls and attempts to start divorce proceedings. Peter faces feeling he never thought himself capable of as he witnesses Gabe and Maggie beginning to fall in love.

This is a story about sacrifice and how sometimes, those things we did with the very best of intentions and for good reasons, can have consequences we never imagined. It is a story about life-long friendship, faith, and great goodness forced to deal with great evil.

Jerome: Who are your readers?

Kathleen: Most of my reader for this book have been older adults – 40+ seems to be the norm – but men and women seem equally attracted to the story. My first novel, The Old Mermaid’s Tale, seems to have a lot more younger readers.

Jerome: What was your journey as a writer?

Kathleen: I grew up in a small Pennsylvania Dutch community in north central Pennsylvania and one of the things I realize now is that the people there were great story-tellers. Ever since I was little I can remember people sitting around — on porches, or at picnics (my family loved picnics), or just sitting around the kitchen table — and they would always be telling stories. Most of my great aunts and uncles were first generation Americans and they brought the Old World tradition of telling stories with them. I can remember parties when I was little when there would be a hundred people there and every room that you went in to was full of people sitting around, drinking beer and telling stories. I loved listening to those stories so I guess it is natural that eventually I would become a story-teller, too.

Jerome: Do you follow a specific writing process?

Kathleen: When I am first beginning a novel I tend to write a lot by hand, also draw maps, floorplans, character connection charts, etc. I also write a lot of “vignettes” trying to capture the essence of the main characters. Very little of this is ever used in the actual books but it gives me a sense of who my characters are and what they are like before I actually start writing.

Jerome: Where do you find inspiration?

Kathleen: Probably the thing that interests me most is good people caught in impossible situations. That seems to be the dynamic that inspires most of my writing. I’m fascinated by people who are basically good, decent, honorable people who suddenly find themselves, often through no fault of their own, in absolutely impossible circumstance. Whenever a tale of that sort starts stirring in my brain I know sooner or later I’ll have to write about it.

Jerome: Who are your favourite authors?

Kathleen: I have a lot of them: Hemingway, A.S. Byatt, Orhan Pamuk, Arturo Perez-Reverte, Isabel Allende, James Lee Burke, Valerie Martin.

Jerome: Is there a book you wish you had written? Which one?

Kathleen: Well, I wish I could have written Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast because it is a gorgeously crafted book but also I cannot imagine what it must have been like to know those people and to have lived through that time. I’ve read the book quite a few times and every time I do I have a sense that maybe I was at the next table or hiding in a corner of Miss Stein’s apartment.

Jerome: Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Kathleen: Read, read, read, read. And then learn your craft. I’m very critical of sloppy writing no matter how interesting the story might be. If you don’t take pride in your craft, do something else.

Jerome: What are you working on at the moment?

Kathleen: I’m on the second draft of a novel currently titled Depraved Heart. It is a contemporary story about a man who was once a quite famous and admired pro-football player who married an equally famous ballerina. Three years in to their marriage he was convicted of the “depraved indifference” murder of her twin brother. When the tale opens, he has just been released from prison and is about to be united with his 15-year-old daughter who is the heiress of her great-grandfather’s estate which includes a fabulous art collection. That’s all I’ll tell you for now.

You can follow Kathleen on the Net @:




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Author interview: Jess C Scott

Jess C Scott has recently independently published The Other Side of Life, an urban fantasy young adult novel, the first of a trilogy featuring cyberpunk elves! She answers a few questions.

Jerome: Hi Jess! Thanks for answering a few questions for my readers. First… who the hell are you?

Jess: And thanks for having me! I’m a 24 year-old author/artist/non-conformist. Most of my books are a blend of fact and fiction, and cross several genres.  

Jerome: What can you tell us about The Other Side of Life?

Jess: It’s the first book in my urban fantasy trilogy featuring cyberpunk elves.
Here’s a one-line summary: A thieving duo’s world turns upside down when an Elven rogue uncovers the heinous dealings of a megacorporation.

Jerome: How would you describe the genre that you write in? Is it sci-fi, urban fantasy, cyberpunk romance or…?

Jess: This particular book is a blend of sci-fi, urban fantasy, action/adventure, and cyberpunk romance (it’s a love story, not fluffy romance). I thought I’d do something different, though it might annoy cyberpunk purists and readers who enjoy hard science fiction. I have a “What is Cyberpunk?” page on my blog/website, for readers who’d like to know a bit more about the genre (http://elventrilogy.wordpress.com/cyberpunk/).

Jerome: What triggered the idea for The Other Side of Life?

Jess: I was brainstorming, when I wrote the words ‘cyberpunk’ and ‘elves’ together. I thought it’d be a cool and unique concept to explore and develop.

Jerome: Who are your readers?

Jess: My work seems to appeal to both males and females (of all ages), who are seeking stories/books that are honest and authentic.

Jerome: What was your journey as a writer?

Jess: I discussed my first book (a blog/IM novel) with an interested editor for 6 months, before he left for another publishing house. I decided to self-publish my first two books since they’re both not exactly “commercially categorizable.” I’ve had some poems and short stories published in literary magazines and journals along the way—apart from those, I am 100% independently published.

Jerome: What are you working on at the moment?

Jess: I’m currently working on the last four stories for my upcoming erotic anthology, Primal Scream. After that, I’ll probably get to an incubus-themed anthology, and see to the second book in The Cyberpunk Elven Trilogy.

You can find more about Jess on her website http://www.jesscscott.com

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If I Stay, by Gayle Forman

One millisecond, that’s all it takes, and Mia loses everything dear to her heart. Her life is over. Or is it, really? After a terrible car accident, Mia finds herself outside her body, witnessing her family’s and friends’ distress, the effort of the medical team to save her life, her boyfriend’s struggle to get the right to visit her in the ICU, and her own body fighting death… Soon Mia realises that her fate lies in her own hands. She faces a dilemma bigger than everything she’s ever experienced, should she decide to stay – and face her losses – or move on to another dimension…

The issues of out-of-body experience, afterlife, and death that Mia faces interest me. In my latest novel Body Swap, the hero faces something similar. I was therefore looking forward to finding out how Gayle Forman dealt with those issues in If I Stay. The story is gripping. Mia’s dilemma, her struggle, her hopes and fears become ours. It is impossible to read this novel without asking oneself the question of what we would do, would we find ourselves in Mia’s situation. Forman’s writing is full of vivid images, at times light and airy, at times strong and heavy, such as the minutes following Mia’s accident. But they are always spot-on. I found the questions going through Mia’s mind sometimes a little too obvious or brushed over too quickly, but overall, Forman did a very good job. I did get slightly annoyed at first though when the narrative went from the present to the past, and again, and again. I felt that the flashbacks slowed the action and were a little repetitive. But once you got to know the characters, it was fine. Some parts of the book seem to lack emotion at first, for example the cold way Mia watches the world from outside her body, but in fact it’s a way for Forman to show the distance between the new Mia and her former life – that is until she finds herself dragged back into it – big time.

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