Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sean and Sami Recommend: RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT! Books - An Interview with a 10 year old book lover

Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Strikingly True  Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Download the Weird  Ripley's Believe It or Not! Seeing is Believing
Sean and Sami Recommend is a Sunday Feature!
(We purchased these books.)

Back of the Book Blurb (from the 6th title Seeing Is Believing):
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! annual series is a compendium of incredible bizarre facts, stories, interviews and features all presented in a stunning bright new design.
This year’s book features icons that guide readers to astounding video clips on our new fully-integrated website, where they can see some of our subjects in action.
Be amazed at the dentist with no arms, the snake that swallowed a wallaby, an underwater sculptor and a four-eared cat! For the legions of dedicated Ripley’s fans, and anyone else on the planet who loves unbelievable facts and jaw-dropping images, the latest annual in this successful series is a feast of delights. Also, a dramatic eight-page gatefold section presents some extraordinary performers of the past, and additional black and white Ripley archive photographs feature throughout the book.

My 10 (almost 11!) year old son LOVES Ripley's Believe It Or Not! books.  Every night he reads several pages from whichever book (he has 4 titles...currently) is in rotation, fascinated by the bizarre and the unusual.  And in doing so he's expanding his mind to absorb cultures and peoples from our fascinating world.  But enough of my parental endorsement, let's see what Sean says!

SARAH:  Sean, how old were you when you started reading these books?
SEAN:  Sometime around 8 or 9.  But any age is good for these books.  Unless you get grossed out easily!

SARAH:  Have you read anything that scared you? 
SEAN:  In Strikingly True, the grossest thing I read was the monkey head attached to the body of a fish.  It looked so gory, like a banana that mutated and blew up.
SARAH:  Did you have bad dreams about it?
SEAN:  Not really!
SARAH:  Would you tell me if you did, or are you worried I'll take the book away from you?
SEAN:  Maaaaaybe.  <Giggles ensued>
SARAH:  What was the grossest, weirdest or craziest thing in these books?
SEAN: The weirdest was the shortest man in the world (we look at the picture).  He's 21" tall and is still alive today.  The Eye Poppers are cool, too.

SARAH:  What?
SEAN:  The Eye Poppers are two brothers who have a medical condition that allows them to pop their eyes out of their sockets, but they're still attached.  They're a Level 7 Stunning.
SARAH:  What the heck does Level 7 Stunning mean?
SEAN:  It's my way of categorizing the grossness, stunningness, weirdness, or freakiness of a topic in these books.
SARAH:  So how high do these Levels go?
SEAN:  From 1 to 10, or higher if the freakiness needs it!
SARAH:  Do you think these books are educational?
SEAN:  These books are great for learning, they're fun!  And if you want some giggles and eye-popping, these are the books for you!
And if you want to tease your teachers with wacky stuff read these books!
SARAH:  Thanks, Sean!
SEAN:   : } ]

Check out the fascinating history of Robert Ripley and his legacy at these websites:!

Ripley's Believe It Or Not!: Prepare to Be Shocked!  Ripley's Believe It or Not!: Special Edition 2012  Ripley's Believe It Or Not: Completely Awesome  Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Dare to Look!  Ripley's Believe It or Not!: Creepy Stuff

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Mating Ritual by Tory Richards

Tory Richards

(I won this book.)

Toni, a woman on the run for her life, finds safety with the descendants of a legendary creature living deep in the mountains. An ancient mating ritual with their leader, Cormac, protects her from being claimed and mated by the other males. She gradually falls for him, but can she give up her old way of life to stay with him in the mountains?

I won this novella in a contest and am so glad I did!  This would fall into the erotic romance genre, and I don't read a lot of those, too often the books are all sex and no story, which doesn't interest me.  But The Mating Ritual was a great little love story with some hot sex.  In just a few pages Toni feels like a real person, one with few contacts and little happiness in her life.  When she's saved from hitmen by Cormac, she's forced into his way of life as his new mate (hello hot sex!), but when she examines the life she's had, Toni realizes that all she's giving up is a bleak and lonely existence. In contrast the tribe that has accepted her seems like a family.
The story moves along at a brisk pace, and the author excels at creating a sense of place.  The mountain terrain is vividly described and created a strong background for the love story.  And yes, folks, it's love.  And lust.  Mostly lust.  Lots of sweaty lust!

About the Author:
Tory Richards is a fun-loving grandma who writes smut. Born in 1955 in the small town of Milo, Maine, she's lived most of her life in Florida. Today she lives with her daughter and her family. She has her own woman-cave which she shares with four felines whose main goal in life is getting as much cat hair on everything that they can.
Penning stories by hand and then on manual typewriter at the age of thirteen, Tory was a closet writer until the encouragement of her family prompted her into submitting to a publisher. She's been published since 2005, and has since retired from Disney to focus on family and writing.

Visit her website/blog here:

2013  2013  2013  2013  2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Uneasy Spirits (A Victorian San Francisco Mystery) by M. Louisa Locke


(I bought this book.)

In this sequel to Maids of Misfortune, it is the fall of 1879 and Annie Fuller, a young San Francisco widow, has a problem. Despite her growing financial success as the clairvoyant Madam Sibyl, Annie doesn't believe in the astrology and palmistry her clients think are the basis for her advice.

Kathleen Hennessey, Annie Fuller's young Irish maid, has a plan. When her mistress is asked to expose a fraudulent trance medium, Arabella Frampton, Kathleen is determined to assist in the investigation, just like the Pinkerton detectives she has read about in the dime novels.

Nate Dawson, up-and-coming San Francisco lawyer, has a dilemma. He wants to marry the unconventional Annie Fuller, but he doesn't feel he can reveal his true feelings until he has a way to make enough money to support her.

In Uneasy Spirits, this cozy historical mystery of romantic suspense, Annie delves into the intriguing world of 19th century spiritualism, encountering true believers and naïve dupes, clever frauds and unexplained supernatural phenomena. She will soon find there are as many secrets as there are spirits swirling around the Frampton séance table. Some of those secrets will threaten the foundation of her career as Madam Sibyl and the future of her relationship with Nate Dawson, and, in time, they will threaten her very life itself.

Uneasy Spirits is the second book in M. Louisa Locke's Victorian historical mystery series, the first is Maids of Misfortune, and there are currently two short stories based on the characters from the novels, Dandy Detects, and The Misses Moffet Mend a Marriage.

Fabulous book!  Uneasy Spirits is another beautifully written, evocative, full-immersion trip to San Francisco in 1879.  The independent and intrepid Annie Fuller is asked by one of her boarders, Miss Pinehurst, to investigate a popular medium who has seemingly manipulated Miss Pinehurst's grieving sister by channeling the spirit of her dead child.  San Francisco has many such mediums, as the Spiritualist movement is very popular, and attending a seance is as fashionable as it is thrilling.  Annie, while open-minded, is suspicious of the beautiful Arabella Frampton and tries to discover how she performs her tricks.  Although Annie is quite sure Arabella is a fake, she can't figure out the performances of the strange and enigmatic Evie May, a young girl with a mysterious and compelling ability to channel a variety of spirits and change her very appearance right in front of witnesses.

Annie is accompanied to the seances by her enthusiastic, devoted maid Kathleen, and aided in her investigation by her beau Nate Dawson, a young lawyer who recognizes that since he can't stop Annie's unconventional behavior, he may as well go along for the ride to keep up with her.
Pretty soon Annie is the target of threatening notes and physically harmed as she gets closer to the truth.
But is Evie May a victim or a suspect?  This was easily the most compelling part of the story for me, as we see that Evie May has, from a modern perspective, multiple personalities and a background likely filled with abuse.  But to the educated people of 1879 San Francisco, including a famous Spiritualist and trance medium with a similarly abusive background, Evie May is guarded by protective spirits.  Reading this in 2013 it's easy to be dismissive, and assume Evie May has multiple personality disorder, but her knowledge of otherwise secret events would lend credence to the belief that she is, indeed, some form of psychic.  It's also a discreet but vivid reminder that the mental illness of one era is the revered powers of another era.  The fact that Annie keeps an open mind regarding Evie May keeps this subtext alive and added a thrilling layer to the overall mystery.

And by the way, each chapter begins with a pertinent headline or classified ad from the San Francisco Chronicle dated from the exact day the story is taking place.  A really nice touch.

I can't recommend these books enough!

Check out the author's website HERE.

 Bloody Lessons: A Victorian San Francisco Mystery  The Misses Moffet Mend a Marriage: A Victorian San Francisco Story  Dandy Detects: A Victorian San Francisco Story

Sunday, December 22, 2013

PENMORT CASTLE (Ghosts and Reincarnation #1) by Kristen Ashley

Penmort Castle

(I bought this book.)

Cash Fraser is planning revenge and to get it he needs the perfect woman. So he hires her. Abigail Butler has lost nearly everything in her life and she’s about to lose the home she loves.

Cash meets Abby, who is posing as a paid escort, and the minute he does he knows he’s willing to pay for more than Abby being his pretend girlfriend. A lot more. Abby needs the money or the last thing that links her to her dead family and husband will be gone. The deal is struck but both Cash and Abby get more than they bargained for.

Cash realises very quickly that Abby isn’t what she seems and while he changes strategies, Abby discovers that Cash’s legacy, Penmort Castle, is like all the tales say – very, very haunted. Making matters worse, the ghost in residence wants her dead.

Abby’s found herself in the battle of her life so she enlists Mrs. Truman, her nosy neighbour; Jenny, her no-nonsense friend; Cassandra McNabb, white witch and clairvoyant with a penchant for wearing scarves (and lots of them); and Angus McPherson, dyed-in-the-wool Scot (which means he hunts ghosts in a kilt) to fight the vicious ghost who has vowed that she will rest at nothing to kill the true, abiding love of the master of Penmort.
Kristen Ashley has written 23 books and Penmort Castle is the first I've read.  Actually, I think I've been living under a rock, because I'd never heard of her before.  Proof positive that there are always great new authors out there in the world waiting to be discovered!
Anyway, at 492 pages it's long enough to be two books, and reading it sure felt like it was two distinct novels. The first part of the novel is really the fairly old-school love story of Cash and Abby, two lonely souls who both get more than they bargained for when they strike a deal for Abby to act as Cash's girlfriend.  While Cash is a classic romance novel hero (all arrogant, strong, smart and dominant), Abby is a truly emotionally damaged woman.  Widowed young, she has never recovered from her husband's death and is unable to function as an adult and make responsible financial decisions.  Compounding this is the fact that even while still married she acted foolishly and selfishly, spending their income on fancy clothes and shoes.  Her career is barely mentioned, and when we meet her she has been unemployed for months, and is in dire financial straits.  So she desperately and impulsively decides to sell herself as an escort, capitalizing on the fact that she has been valued for her looks most of her adult life. 
What saves Abby from being a sad stereotype is the beautifully written descriptions of her behavior, clearly showing that underneath she is hurting and damaged.  I actually shed a few tears.  Abby's pain and desperation are evident, and Cash is no fool.  He sees what's really happening and proceeds carefully.
The second part of this novel is a good old gothic ghost story.  Cash's ancestral home is indeed haunted, and Abby is in danger of meeting a violent end.  But the nasty ghost haunting Penmort has never met the likes of Abby's motley crew of friends and ghosthunters, and Abby herself steps up to the plate and decides it's better to kick some spectral ass than get thrown off the roof.   I really loved this part of the book - it was spooky, devious, fast-paced and exciting.
All in all, an entertaining mix of traditional and gothic romance that kept me reading!

Check out the author's website HERE.

Follow Kristin Ashley on Facebook HERE.

Lacybourne Manor  Fairytale Come Alive  Lucky Stars  Jagged  Own the Wind: A Chaos Novel

Monday, December 16, 2013

RELEASE DAY SPOTLIGHT! DEATHBLOW (Broslin Creek #4) by Dana Marton


(I work for the author.)

Former small-town football hero turned cop, Joe Kessler never met a linebacker, perp, or a woman he couldn't handle. Then a troubled single mom walks into his life, and the only place this hot jock will ever see 'easy' again is in the dictionary.

Hiding out in Broslin, PA was working pretty well for Wendy Belle until Cop Casanova took her under his protection. Now she’ll either lose her life to one man, or her heart to another.

Deathblow is Dana Marton's 4th book in her popular Broslin Creek series, following the romantic suspense adventures of the men of the Broslin Creek Police Department.  I love this series for its fast-paced action, menacing atmospheres and dangerous situations, and the smart, sexy heroes and strong, capable heroines.  Add to that the sense of familiarity and community I get as a reader returning to the small town of Broslin Creek, and this is series makes me one happy reader.

Joe Kessler is a great hero - he's got a love-em and leave-em background dating back to his teenage years, but there's a lot more to this guy than his good looks and easygoing nature.  He is genuinely a good man, and respects women just as much as he has loved them in the past.  When he meets Wendy, he is immediately attracted to her, never realizing how much more there is to her than her cool, beautiful, professional-model exterior.  When the two of them are forced together under stressful circumstances (Joe is assigned as her bodyguard when Wendy is being abused and stalked by her creepy ex-husband), they see past the surface and lust turns into admiration and respect.

Deathblow is probably the fastest-paced book of the series (all of which, by the way, can easily be understood and enjoyed as stand-alone novels), and the author really increased her cliff-hanger moments.  There are several scenes where as a reader we're left hanging  But it worked like an incredible teaser for me, I HAD to keep reading.  As readers, we were left out of the loop a bit and it really heightened the suspense - I could definitely see it as a movie!

Incredibly suspenseful, super sexy, fast pace and believable, likeable characters make this a must read!

Follow Dana Marton on Facebook.
Visit the Broslin Creek Series page on Facebook.

Sign up for Dana's Newsletter HERE.

Deathwatch Deathscape Deathtrap