Review – THIS HEART OF MINE

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When I picked This Heart of Mine, by Brenda Novak, for my April book club pick, I had no idea what an emotionally packed story it was. After reading it in less than 24 hours, I have a new appreciation for the great skill that Brenda Novak weaves her character’s stories.

Phoenix has had a rough life to say the least. Her mother is a hoarder, along with other psychological issues. As a teen, she felt like an outcast. But with Riley, her high school boyfriend, she finally finds acceptance. But when he breaks up with her, she makes some mistakes…ending in a hit and run accident and a wrongful conviction for manslaughter.

Fast forward eighteen years and Phoenix is fresh out of jail. More than anything, she wants to meet the son, who she gave birth to while in prison. The son she never got to know. Jacob was raised by his father, Riley, and anxious to meet his mom. Riley is not so enthusiastic. He doesn’t trust Phoenix and believes that she really was responsible for the death so long ago.

Phoenix is unbelievably strong. After everything she’s had to endure over the years, her heart is so full of love and forgiveness. As Riley gets to know Phoenix all over again, he starts to doubt his negative beliefs about the mother of his son. Can love bloom a second time?

I loved This Heart of Mine. Like I said before, I read this book in under 24 hours. I couldn’t put it down. I put everything else on hold in order to stay lost in this story.

This Heart of Mine earns a top 5 star rating from me. I highly encourage you read this wonderful story!

Purchase This Heart of Mine on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/This-Heart-Whiskey-Creek-Novels/dp/0778316726/ref=tmm_mmp_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1416452899&sr=1-4?tag-brennova09-20

April Book Club Pick!

This Heart of Mine

by Brenda Novak

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First love. Second chance?

As the daughter of a hoarder, Phoenix Fuller had a tough childhood. So when the handsome, popular Riley Stinson became her boyfriend in high school, she finally felt as though she had something to be proud of. Phoenix was desperate not to lose him — especially once she found out she was pregnant. Yes, she might have acted a bit obsessive when he broke up with her. But she did not run down the girl he started dating next.

Unfortunately, there was no way to prove her innocence. Now, after serving her time in prison, Phoenix has been released. All she wants to do is return to Whiskey Creek and get to know her son. But Jacob’s father isn’t exactly welcoming.

Riley doesn’t trust Phoenix, doesn’t want her in Jacob’s life. He is, however, ready to find someone to love. And he wants a good mother for his son. He has no idea that he’s about to find both!

I am so excited to share this new release from Brenda Novak as April’s book club pick! This Heart of Mine is the 9th in the Whiskey Creek series. Brenda is a prolific author with a seemingly endless amount of stories to share.

This month’s giveaway is a $10 Amazon gift card. All you have to do is comment on any one of the book club posts throughout the month of April…easy as pie!

Purchase on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/This-Heart-Whiskey-Creek-Novels/dp/0778316726/ref=tmm_mmp_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1416452899&sr=1-4?tag-brennova09-20

March Wrap-up : Hunted

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As we wrap-up the month of March, I want to say thanks to all who have participated in my first book club selection. Also, a special thank you to Elizabeth Heiter, for being so incredibly generous with her time.

For those of you who read Hunted, I hope you enjoyed the book. Below are a few book club questions. Please feel free to comment and start a conversation!

Don’t forget about the March giveaways – you may win either a signed copy of Vanished or a $10 Amazon gift card, just for leaving a comment on one of my book club posts. I will pick the winners on April 5th.

1. How do the characters’ pasts influence their current actions?  What does that say about the influence of genetics versus environment?  How much does personal choice play a part?

2. How does sexual discrimination and sexual violence impact the story, and in what ways? 

3. What does it say about protagonist Evelyn Baine that she can understand the motivations of killers, but has trouble dissecting social cues?

4. Does Evelyn Baine’s insistence on self-reliance ultimately help or hurt her?

5. How does the theme of redemption play out in the story?  How does survivor’s guilt impact the need of certain characters to gain self-redemption?

6.  How does Evelyn Baine change through the course of the novel?  At the end of the story, do you feel that she is substantially different than she was at the start?

7. How does Evelyn’s past impact her relationships with her friends and family, and how does it impact potential new relationships, such as the developing relationship with Kyle MacKenzie?

Character Interview – Evelyn Baine

Character Interview with Evelyn Baine of Hunted

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I am so pleased that the star of our book club pick, Hunted, has taken time out of her busy schedule to grant me an interview

Thanks for joining us Evelyn. I know you’re a busy woman so I promise not to take up too much of your time. Please explain to your readers what it takes to become a FBI profiler?

Well, first, you have to make it into the FBI.  The Academy is no joke – besides learning all the laws, and the PT, you actually have to do things like box fellow trainees.  Once you finish the Academy, it’s time to prove yourself as a regular Special Agent.  I was assigned to a Violent Crimes Major Offenders (VCMO) squad in Houston, where I worked ten hour days for six years, trying to get myself noticed.  Then a spot opened up at the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) and I jumped at it.  It’s where I’ve wanted to be since I was twelve years old.  But that’s a story for another day.

You’re relatively new to the profiling task force and one of the only women in the department. How did you break the glass ceiling in the FBI?

Only 20% of Special Agents in the FBI are women, and in some ways – like a lot of law enforcement – it’s still an old boys’ club.  My method was to work harder than the agents around me, trying to stand out.  It doesn’t hurt that I’ve been studying profiling since I was a kid, since I knew this was where I wanted to be when I grew up.  Don’t tell them, but it’s not just the criminals I use my profiling skills on – it’s also my fellow agents.

Besides the case you’re working on in Hunted, what has been your most difficult case?

When I was in the Houston field office, we were investigating a serial rapist.  The police were stymied – the perpetrator was really skilled at leaving behind no physical evidence.  They had a suspect who had the right history and who had acted suspiciously in interviews, but something just didn’t feel right about it to me.  I dug and dug and ultimately, I uncovered that the rapist was actually a member of their police force.  It was a tough case, but it was the one that finally got me noticed by the BAU.

Okay, give it to us straight…what are your feelings for Kyle? He seems like a really good guy. Maybe you should give him a chance.

He is a good guy, and a good agent.  The problem is, we both work for the FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG), and the FBI doesn’t allow its agents to date and work the same squad.  Kyle would argue we’re not precisely in the same squad, but the rules here are murky.  Our jobs are important to both of us, and I’m not willing to give up profiling.  It’s pretty complicated, though, especially because of what happened after this Bakersville Burier serial killer case (in HUNTED) ended…

Thanks Evelyn for answering a few of my questions.

Do you have any questions for the main character, Evelyn Baine, of Hunted?

Don’t forget to leave a comment or question for a chance to win a signed copy of Vanished, the sequel to Hunted or a $10 Amazon gift card!!!

March Book Club – Hunted

I hope everyone is enjoying Hunted so far!

Ms. Elizabeth Heiter, has been kind enough to answer a few of my questions regarding her first published book.

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Thanks Elizabeth, for taking the time to talk with me today!

Your main character, Evelyn Baine is a FBI criminal profiler. What first drew you to the FBI and criminal profiling?

I’ve always been intrigued by law enforcement characters (they’re perfect protagonists for mystery series, because there’s only so many times you can have someone not in law enforcement stumble upon a mystery to solve!).  About a decade ago (wow, as I’m writing this, I can’t believe it was so long ago!), I picked up a book by a former FBI profiler about his experiences tracking down serial killers and other criminals.  I was fascinated – and I knew a profiler would make for a unique character, someone who would approach a case in a totally different way.  Instead of following typical investigative methods, my character would get to come in and look at the behavioral evidence – things about the crime that told my profiler how the perpetrator thought, and from that, how to find him (or her).

I’m sure you had to spend a lot of time researching for the book. What are some of the resources that you used? Was there anything you learned that really surprised you?

I love the research!  I’m committed to being as accurate as possible, so I did do a TON of research for these books.  Besides reading stacks of books on psychology and personality disorders, the FBI and investigative methods, and criminal personality profiling, I did a lot of up-close research.  I talked to current and former FBI Special Agents, I visited FBI field offices and the FBI Academy at Quantico, and I even shot the weapons used by the characters in my books.

One thing that surprised me: there’s a scene in HUNTED where my protagonist, FBI profiler Evelyn Baine, tries to shoot a perpetrator as he’s driving away.  She aims at him through the window, but when she doesn’t hit him, she can’t take a shot at the wheel of his truck to try and stop him (which was in the original draft!).  But a Special Agent informed me that if you’re going to fire your weapon, it has to be for very specific reasons and it has to be to kill.  You can’t shoot to wound, and you can’t shoot to stop someone.

How long did it take you to write Hunted?

That’s an interesting question, because I actually wrote the manuscript twice.  I wrote the first version back in 2005, then many years later, I completely re-wrote it.  I’d gone out on submission to publishers with a humorous mystery that came close to selling but didn’t, and my agent asked if I had anything darker.  I did, so I pulled out HUNTED, but my writing had come a long way since I’d originally written it, so I took the basic plotline and characters and started over.  The second version of the manuscript took me somewhere between eight months and a year, I believe.

So, I kind of have a crush on Kyle, from the FBI’s HRT, or Hostage Rescue Team. Please tell me those HRT guys are for real. How much fun was it to research them?

The HRT guys are definitely for real!  And the ones I’ve met are real characters – like Kyle and his friend and fellow HRT agent Gabe.  This was a really interesting job to research, because it’s so different from most positions at the FBI.  The HRT agents are more like a military Special Operations team than regular FBI agents.  (In fact, HRT trains with SpecOps teams!)  And unlike most tactical units (like SWAT), HRT agents do it full-time.  If they’re not on a mission, they’re training for a mission.  Very interesting stuff (and good hero material!).

Evelyn has a very troubled past. How do you feel that played into her adult life and career choice?

My heroine came from an abusive home.  When she was ten years old, she moved in with her grandparents, who provided the most stable life she’d ever had.  She became best friends with the little girl who lived next door, Cassie.  Even though she was a biracial child living in a mostly white town in the south, things were looking up.  Then Cassie went missing – the final victim of the Nursery Rhyme Killer – and was never found.  It was the impetus for Evelyn to join the FBI, and has been the driving force in her life.  It gives her purpose and determination, but her childhood also left her socially awkward and closed off from people, things that cause her problems in HUNTED.

You’ve had a very busy year, with the release of five books, one of the being Vanished, the sequel to Hunted. Congratulations! What’s up next for you?

Thank you so much!  Right now, HUNTED and VANISHED (books 1 and 2 in my straight suspense books, The Profiler series) are on shelves, as are DISARMING DETECTIVE and SEDUCED BY THE SNIPER (books 1 and 2 in my romantic suspense books, The Lawmen series).  Up next are SWAT SECRET ADMIRER (book 3 in The Lawmen series, out next month) and SEIZED (book 3 in The Profiler series, out later this year).

Thanks Elizabeth and best wishes on your continued success!

Readers – As you see in Elizabeth’s interview, it can take years of work between a first manuscript and a publish novel. Hours worth of research, writing, and editing went into Hunted, with no guarantee that it would ever be sold.

If you were to spend that amount of time researching and writing a book, what topic(s) would you choose? Law enforcement like Elizabeth? Military? Medical Mystery?

In Hunted, Evelyn Baine has issues with trust. Which supporting characters do you see has the most likely hood of success in breaking through her protective wall and earning her trust?

Don’t forget – A comment in any Book Club post in March gets you qualified for a chance to win either a signed copy of Vanished, the sequel to Hunted, or a $10 Amazon gift card!

Welcome! March Book Club

Hunted

by Elizabeth Heiter

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I am very excited to share this book as my first ever book club pick! You are in for a thrilling ride as you dive into Ms. Heiter’s world of FBI criminal profilers and serial killers.

Here’s a quick summary:

Terror stalks a small Virginia town…

FBI rising star, criminal profiler Evelyn Baine, knows how to think like a serial killer.  But she’s never chased anyone like the Bakersville Burier, who hunts young women and displays them, half-buried, deep in the woods.  As the body count climbs, Evelyn’s relentless pursuit of the killer puts her career – and her life – at risk.  And the evil lurking in the Burier’s mind may be more than even she can unravel.

Terror is closer than she thinks…

The Bakersville Burier knows he’s got an FBI profiler on his trail.  He knows who she is and where to find her.  And he’s biding his time, because he’s planned a special punishment for Evelyn.  She may have tracked other killers, but he vows to make this her last chase. This time it’s her turn to be hunted!

Sounds good, right?

If you haven’t purchased the book yet, I have the Amazon link below.

Check back throughout the month for an interview with Ms. Heiter and also the star of Hunted, Evelyn Baine. While I hope to encourage discussion about the book, please wait until the end of the month to post comments that include spoilers. We wouldn’t want to give away the ‘who done it’ for other readers.

March giveaways:

I have two giveaways for the month of March. Anyone who leaves a comment in any of the book club post during the month is eligible. First is an autographed copy of Vanished, the exciting sequel to Hunted. I also will be giving away a $10 Amazon gift card. If you don’t follow the blog, please leave your e-mail address with at least one of your comments so I know how to contact you if you win.

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment in any March book club post!

I hope that you enjoy Hunted and let’s have some great book club discussions throughout the month.

So my first question to start things off is…How do you think you’d do as a criminal profiler? Would you be able to work a violent crime or would witnessing a brutal scene, like the Bakersville Burier, leave you up at night?

Buy Hunted on Amazon

March Book Club Pick – Hunted by Elizabeth Heiter

I’m so excited to announce my first book club pick. Starting March 1st, I will be featuring Hunted by Elizabeth Heiter in the Paper Dreams Book Club.

Hunted is the first in Ms. Heiter’s Profiler series. The story takes the reader on an exciting ride with FBI criminal profiler, Evelyn Baine, as she tracks down a serial killer. (cue scary music)

Get a jump on reading by going to Amazon and purchase Hunted.

http://www.amazon.com/Hunted-The-Profiler-Elizabeth-Heiter/dp/0778315843

Come back in March when the fun really starts. Look for an interview with Ms. Heiter and an interview with the star of the book, Ms. Evelyn Baine. I will also have a giveaway for a lucky reader.

Follow the blog to make sure you don’t miss out.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy the book!

Review – A League of Her Own by Karen Rock

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Write from the Heart Review

A League of Her Own

by Karen Rock

I first became introduced to Karen Rock through her book, His Hometown Girl. So, when I saw she had a new book out, I quickly downloaded it onto my Kindle.

I have a long love story with sports. Not that I have any natural athletic ability (I trip over my own feet). In high school, I worked as an usher for my hometown pro-baseball team, the Milwaukee Brewers. Sport heroes are some of my favorite to read about in romance, and Garret Wolf does not disappoint!

Garret Wolf is a minor league pitcher who gets a second chance with the Falcons. Heather Gadway is a former college softball pitching star and daughter of the Falcon’s owner. When Heather’s father becomes ill and threatens to sell the team, Heather makes a deal…she will step in as manager for the rest of the season and try to turn the team around.

Garret and Heather butt heads right off the bat (I love baseball puns!) but eventually come to an uneasy alliance. They both want the team to succeed, each for their own reasons.

I loved the fact that Heather stepped into a minor league manager position. It took a lot of guts to stand in a locker room full of male professional athletes and attempt to gain their support….kinda like wrangling kittens. Heather didn’t let her own insecurities or rocky history with her parents become an excuse to quit.

Any book with such a sweet love story and a strong female lead will get a strong recommendation from me.

I rate A League of Her Own  5 hearts

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Laurie

PAPER DREAMS BOOK CLUB

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Calling all who love to read and talk about books. With Paper Dreams Book Club, I hope to gather together a few good books and have some exciting discussions.

On February 15th, I will announce our first selection. Then, the group will have until March 31 to read the book. During the month of March, you may see an interview with the author, a guest host, giveaways and/or a chance for reader questions.

Readers are encouraged to comment, share their opinions, and answer the book club questions.

The next month, we’ll start the process again with the next selection.

What type of books will be featured? The short answer is…a little bit of everything, both fiction and non-fiction

Adult, New Adult, and Young Adult

Romance, Mystery, Crime Thriller, Fantasy, Women’ Lit

No Erotica or anything heavily sexual (think PG13)

The great thing about this book club is…if you don’t like the current month’s book selection, just skip it and join us next month.

Are you in???

If you would like to join me, please sign up to follow my blog or email me directly at hoffmanlm91@gmail.com