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The Crimson Bed

By Loretta Proctor

Matador 2010  (Imprint of Troubador Publishing Ltd.)

Author site: http://www.lorettaproctor.co.uk/

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Crimson-Bed-Loretta-Proctor/dp/1848762887

Henry Winstone and his best friend, Frederick Ashton Thorpe, are artists during the Pre-Raphaelite movement of the Victorian era. Although Henry has pretty much forsaken the snobbish materialism of polite society, Fred isn’t quite so ready to give up his fastidious lifestyle. But even Henry must eat and has taken a commission to paint Eleanor Farnham’s portrait. Seeing the half finished portrait of Ellie at Henry’s studio, Fred is smitten and returns the next day to meet her. Deciding she’s everything he’s ever dreamed of in a woman, Fred pursues her and he and Ellie wed.

But Fred can’t let go of disgraceful events from his past and this leads him down a dark path of more shameful acts. Ellie too hides a painful past that affects her relationship with Fred. Their marriage deteriorates even more when Fred allows his mother to fire his jealousy with her vicious gossip of impropriety between Ellie and her godfather, Lord Percy Dillinger. When more appalling secrets come to light, not only is Ellie’s marriage in jeopardy, but her mental and physical health as well.

When I first began reading The Crimson Bed, I was hooked within the first few pages. Ms. Proctor is a highly gifted writer and knows exactly how to draw the reader in. At first I didn’t like any of the characters with the exception of Henry. But I couldn’t stop reading and I came to realize these characters were genuine, complicated and deeply flawed, which leant them a certain charm that was mesmerizing.

With such extraordinary characterizations, a gripping plot and well-researched historical backdrop, The Crimson Bed is an excellent work of fiction. This isn’t a gene romance, but there is a love story. The historical details of the Pre-Raphaelite movement and the artists are exceptional. This is a character driven novel with elements of romance, suspense and mystery. I was so emotionally invested in the lives of these characters, I laughed, I sobbed, and I bit my nails to the quick during the tenser moments. I dare anyone to read The Crimson Bed and not be so affected.

–Willow

 

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WGR is excited to welcome author, educator, and talk show host, Fran Lewis.

WGR: Fran, welcome to Working Girl Reviews. I understand you were a New York City teacher for many years. Tell us about that.

Fran: I taught in the NYC public schools for over 30 years. Working with students in grades one through six for the first part of my career. My Principal felt that I had a special skill and expertise when working with students with learning difficulties and encouraged me to go back to school for my second Master’s Degree in Reading and Learning Disabilities. I am glad that I did. As the reading and writing specialist and later Staff Developer I was able to reach many of the students who came from other countries and help them to read, understand and speak our language and excel in school. Before leaving, when my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I was the Dean of Discipline and helped create a Peer Mediation program that worked in our school.

The arts and music are two of my greatest passions. I play the piano and the violin and directed and created all of the holiday shows for the school including the ones on Black History and Women’s History. For many years I directed the orchestra and choral groups at Graduation.

I mentored many of the new teachers, was test coordinator for the school and eventually went back for my degree in Administration.

WGR: Tell us a little about Bertha. Did your experience as a teacher inspire your Bertha stories or was it more from personal experience?

Fran: I based my stories and my titles in my own experiences growing up in the South Bronx. I was always the outcast when it came to sports, dancing and was overweight. I spent my life battling with my weight and got ridiculed a lot in dancing school and when participating in many activities. I did however excel at punch ball and can still knock one out of the park. Bertha is me. Everything that I wrote in all three books if true. Many children in the schools today are subjected to the abuse caused by bullies in their schools or being overweight as I was all my life. Having difficulty walking up the stairs or not being able to participate in activities in the gym made it difficult for me to fit in with many of the other kids.

As an educator and a teacher who did spend time working with the gym teacher when my time was requested to assist him, I learned that this issue was still front and center and I refused to allow it to continue.

My Bertha stories are all true. Every one of the stories in My Name is Bertha and Bertha Speaks Out are true. The third book, Bertha Fights Back deals with September 11 and is dedicated to one of my students who died in the first tower. I wrote these stories to help teachers, parents and children of all ages learn to embrace their differences and understand that it is not what you look like on the outside that makes the person, it is the inner you and your kindness and understanding of others.

WGR: Do you have any books other than the Bertha series?

Fran: I wrote two other books dealing with Alzheimer’s. The first is Memories are Precious: Alzheimer’s Journey: Ruth’s Story. It is my mom’s story and her words when she was diagnosed with this dreaded and horrific illness. It is also a resource for anyone that needs home care, senior care or wants to really understand the illness. It has family memories, author’s memories and pictures to help bring the book and the stories to light.

My second book is titled Sharp as a Tack or Scrambled Eggs Which Describes Your Brain? This book will help the coach potato in everyone and give you ways to keep your mind and body active and alert.

WGR: You’ve been writing for a while now. Tell us what you like least about the writing process and what you like most.

Fran: I really do not like editing my work. I love when someone else reads my stories or my novels and gives me the feedback that I need. I have trouble reading on my computer because I get eyestrain. I often wonder at times what I am going to write and where my plots are going.

The best part is completing that manuscript and seeing your book in print and of course having tons of people buy it. The Alzheimer’s books were written to raise funds for research and a cure.

WGR: I know you review books for several review sites. What types of books do you enjoy reading most and who are some of your favorite authors?

Fran: I love reading a well-written mystery, thriller and historical fiction novel. A novel that grabs my attention from the first word forcing me to complete the book in a day. I love reading Paranormal and fantasy too. Children’s books are my favorite. Giving positive and great reviews to a new author and having them tell me they love my review is the best payment and way to say thank you in the world to a reviewer.

WGR: As well as being a writer and reviewer, you host a radio talk show. Please tell us more about that.

Fran: I now host two radio shows. The first is Book Discussion With Fran Lewis, which is the third Wed. of every month at 1 Eastern on Red River Radio. Authors throughout the world, usually two on each show are featured. I read their books and create questions to ask them along with my book club members who have to read the books too. The author tells our listeners about his/her writing career, short bio, answers our questions and can promote their sites, next projects and tell us where we can purchase their books.

The second show if for children’s authors and will focus on books geared for all levels. The primary focus of the show is to have authors whose books teach a positive lesson and will help children and teachers in the character education programs. These are books that should be in classroom and school libraries. There are five authors on my first show and I will ask the questions that I have created and we will discuss the books as a group. This show is the fifth Tuesday of August and November 30th so far. 

WGR: For those readers interested in being a guest on your radio show, where would they find information about that?

Fran: If anyone would like to join me on my November children’s show they can email me at riffyone@optonline.net. That show will be devoted to YA authors and books for teens. The show in August will be for early learners.

WGR: When you aren’t busy writing, reviewing, and doing your radio show, what would we find Fran Lewis doing for fun?

Fran: I love to walk, go to museums, and play basketball with my nephews even if I lose, go shopping, go to the Bronx Zoo and make people laugh with my wild sense of humor.

WGR: Fran, thank you so much for spending time with us today. Please tell all our readers where they can find more information about you and your work.

Fran: My website for anyone that would like me to review their books:

www.gabina49.webs.com

www.franlewis.webs.com

http://gabina49.wordpress.com you can read my blogs and my reviews

I review books for http://Ijustfinished.com under the name Gabina

I review for book pleasures and manic readers too.

Thank you so much for interviewing me.

Coming soon: Wrongly Accused and Bertha’s Revenge

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One True Place

By Margaret Cunningham

Black Lyon Publishing: Coming June 15, 2010

When her husband, successful Orthodontist Burkett Cowley, dies suddenly in his office one bright summer morning, True Cowley is stunned. But becoming an unexpected widow is only the beginning of unpleasant surprises. When it comes to light that Burkett’s gambling debts have left her near penniless, True takes advantage of a free burial plot in their mutual birth place of Belle Hill, Alabama. True left Belle Hill as a child of four, after her mother’s accidental drowning death, and has not been back since. But when she returns for her husband’s funeral, True finds herself inexplicably drawn to the town and the family secrets it harbors. Shortly after the funeral, True sells her Florida home and returns to Belle Hill for good.

She is soon befriended by eccentric octogenarian, Maisy Downey, and Maisy’s handsome- beyond-belief nephew, Jackson Bean. The pair promises to aide True in her quest to understand the mother she never knew. But in her search for her roots, True uncovers more questions that must be answered and issues she must come to terms with if she is to resolve the past and move ahead into the bright, happy future that is offered. 

I enjoyed this story tremendously. True Cowley is a flawed but loveable character who I could sympathize with and cheer for with each turn of the page. I loved the interaction between her and Jackson and the way the romance developed slowly and sweetly. I also enjoyed the touching relationship True shared with her grandchildren. Having also enjoyed the author’s debut novel, Lily in Bloom, I was excited to return to southern Alabama and reconnect with some of the characters from that first book. The author’s skillful descriptions, both of people and setting, seemed to transport me into this charming village filled with unusual people and beautiful flora.

Margaret Cunningham writes with humor and grace, weaving a tale that is filled with romance and surprises. One True Place offers its readers so many things — romance, mystery, and a lovely story of a woman’s quest to reconcile herself with her past. I recommend this story to anyone who enjoys a light, humorous, Southern love story.

— Honeybee

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It’s time!!!  Author Maria E. Schneider has announced the sequel to Executive Lunch–but Executive Retention needs a cover!  Executive Retention is the second book in the Sedona O’Hala series.  Three covers are available over at www.BearMountainBooks.com Stop over and vote for your favorite cover.
 
Executive Retention Summary:
 
After solving one case of corporate crime, Sedona expected to get her peaceful life back.  Problem:  She is still a manager at Strandfrost, and there is still rampant jealousy over her promotion. Is the danger of being railroaded by her not-so-illustrious colleagues worse than taking a new undercover job from Steve Huntington?
 
Crooks are coming out of the woodwork and family troubles are stewing. Sedona needs to keep her sanity intact, piece together mismatched clues and dodge more than one stray bullet. If she can manage all of that, maybe she’ll have time to figure out whether her love life stands a chance.

Executive Retention will be available in ebook form on Amazon on or around June 23, 2010.  It will be available at Smashwords.com in formats for other readers and then available at B&N, Sony, Kobobooks and Apple iStore soon after.
 
Review and early copies are available exclusively via Smashwords.com.  Excerpts are available at the author’s blog: www.BearMountainBooks.com.   Stop by www.BearMountainBooks.com and help choose the cover for Executive Retention!

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Knight Everlasting

By Lisa Phillips

Black Lyon Publishing, May 15, 2010

Buy Link: http://www.blacklyonpublishing.com/Knight%20Everlasting.html

Vampire Paranormal Romance

Centuries old vampire, Tristan McBreen has pledged his allegiance to others of his kind who refuse to feed on innocent humans. Living in the verdant Georgia countryside with those of his faction he considers family, he prepares for the war he knows is coming. Even surrounded by those he cares for, Tristan’s existence is a solitary one. Never taking a mate and keeping his deeper emotions hidden is what helps him deal with being a vampire and the bitterness he still feels over the disconnection with his family centuries earlier.

All that may change with the immergence of Katie O’Reardon into his life. Tristan’s feelings for his fledgling vampire run deeper than even he imagines and Katie is just as smitten and just as determined to hide it. Deeply loyal to those who’ve taken her in, she’ll do whatever necessary to help stop Victor’s reign of terror on the innocents of Savannah. Victor’s unwavering desire for revenge against Tristan and the rest of his noble faction is fueled by his fascination with Katie. Knowing Katie to be Victor’s weakness, will Tristan allow her to act as a sacrificial lamb in order to defeat his enemy once and for all? 

Knight Everlasting is the follow up to Lisa Phillip’s Obsession Everlasting and never having read the first book, I was a little worried I might be lost when reading this new one, but that wasn’t the case. Ms. Phillips does an excellent job of inserting just enough back-story at the appropriate times to keep the reader informed and the plot moving forward. Fraught with both internal and external conflicts, Tristan and Katie’s romance was a joy to watch unfold. The story sizzles with sensual tension and a couple of well-placed scenes had the pages blazing.

Charming characters, excellent dialogue and a captivating plot make Knight Everlasting a true winner for lovers of this genre. Ms. Phillips’ talent for descriptions drags the reader from their comfy chair and slaps them right into the action. Sometimes descriptive passages can be overlong and drag a story down, but this author does them to perfection. Those readers who’ve read the first in this series, Obsession Everlasting, will be happy to revisit Simon and Fallyn while becoming acquainted with new characters, Sidney and Ryder. The ending leads the way to the next in this series. So if you love this genre, pick up both of these and stay tuned for the next.

–Willow

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Forever in Her Dreams

by Tika Newman

Thistlewood Publishing 2009

Website: http://www.thistlewoodpublishing.com

Buy Link: http://shop.thistlewoodpublishing.com/Forever-in-Her-Dreams-102.htm

ISBN 978-0-9821507-1-9

 Forever in Her Dreams by Tika Newman picks right up where The Eyes of Innocence left off. Book one in the series ended with readers wondering where Toniya came from. Who would give a stranger a horse? How did the horse from Lina’s dreams appear in her yard? Readers quickly get reacquainted with the characters they enjoyed in the first book and soon get some answers. As the story continues, readers journey along with Kalina as she makes a place for her new horse in her life. She doesn’t know it at first, but the horse will lead her down a path to her past. She will gain information about her heritage and her unique abilities. Readers pick up on her special way with animals as they read of her gentle nature and various healings. She is not limited to helping animals. When needed she also uses her healing powers to help people. Although Lina’s power is not typical and the events surrounding the healings are out of the ordinary, the author’s vivid descriptions and interesting presentations make them believable. Many authors focus on the negative stereotypes when presenting a minor culture. Whether true or fictional this author presents traditions and healing power in a way that doesn’t degrade the Gypsy culture. While the characters are described as very poor and old fashioned, it is refreshing to see this people group portrayed as peaceful, helpful and out to do good.

Kalina is a special girl trying to live a typical teenage life. She longs to fill her life with animals, friends, school and family activities. At times the pull to help is too strong to resist. She and her family know what it’s like to uproot and move just when they are settling into a new community. They are often forced to relocate when the secret is in danger of being revealed. Lina tries to think and act like other teens, but her love for animals leads her to make some interesting decisions. She tries to be cautious when it comes to strangers but her strong desire to help others leads her to risk it all in times of greatest need.

Cory, the older and charming neighbor boy, Marnie, her best friend, Aunt Jessie, Uncle Jeff, a host of pets and many schoolmates return in book two. New characters also appear in this sequel. The most interesting are Kalina’s grandparents, Stela and Todor,. As Lina learns who they are and how they have helped her at various times in her life, she also learns more truth about Aunt Jessie and how she came to be with her adoptive family. She learns how Toniya came to her. The more she learns of her past, the more she wonders how it will fit with her present. Will Aunt Jessie and Uncle Jeff accept her heritage? Will they believe her grandparents are who they say they are? Will they stick by Kalina even when she goes against their advice? Will her best friend Marnie think she is crazy if she reveals her heritage? Will her neighbor Cory get scared away as he starts to piece together what she can do with her powers? So many questions and once again they will not all be answered by the time readers turn the last page of book two.

Pearl believes the author is developing as a writer as she works on this series. This book is just as innocent and wholesome as book one, but it contains deeper insight into the characters, clearer scene descriptions and more realistic dialogue. This novel is a great follow-up to The Eyes of Innocence. The day-to-day life of an animal loving teenager is woven among the threads of mystery and magic that surround the main character. Kalina will continue to intrigue readers with her secret powers. This book is unusual in nature, but easy to follow. It answers many of the questions left when The Eyes of Innocence ended. Reader’s still don’t know the whole story though. The saga will continue when the third book Window to Her Soul is released later this year.

–Pearl

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Angel of Promise

By Sam Oliver

Fideli Publishing: 2010

Author Site: http://www.pathintohealing.com/ 

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Angel-Promise-Sam-Oliver/dp/160414209X

When I decided to read and review Sam Oliver’s Angel of Promise, I had no idea what to expect. I opened it up, read a few pages and was immersed in the story before I knew what was happening. At around a hundred and thirty pages, I read it straight through in about an hour. Then I went back and re-read most of it. Since then I’ve read certain passages several times. I found the premise both captivating and thought provoking. The bulk of the story takes place in The Garden of The Gods. I visited there a few years ago and can’t think of a better setting for a story like this.

Lee, a hard working man is feeling very much the loser. He’s lost his job, his faith in himself and is on the verge of losing his home and his family. His wife had planned a trip with their daughters to visit her sister in Florida. When their peaceful night is shattered by a break in, the police suggest she leave right away to decrease traumatizing the little girls anymore. Rose agrees and she and her daughters leave early the next morning.

Alone in the quiet house without his family, Lee becomes despondent and finds himself hating the world and no longer knows his place in it. Emotionally drained, he falls into a restless sleep and dreams of an Angel named Promise. The Angel tells him he’s there to remind Lee of who he is to help him remember the promises he made to the Angel the moment he was born. Lee finds this both interesting and confusing.

A couple of days later he finds being alone in the house unbearable and leaves to visit his family in Kentucky. After spending a couple of days visiting his parents, he leaves to visit his grandfather’s old cabin located in The Garden The Gods. Here we join Lee as he becomes intimately acquainted with the Promise Angel, and takes a journey to self-discovery and restoration—a rekindling of faith in himself and the world. 

As the back blurb states, this is a fictional novel and can be read by anyone of any religious background without having to filter it through your own beliefs. Angel of Promise is charming, inspirational, and captivating. A story both encouraging and motivating, I recommend it to all.

–Willow

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