Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Dusty Pages Review: The Witches Handbook of Kisses & Curses

Nola Leary would have been content to stay in Kilcairy, Ireland, healing villagers at her family’s clinic with a mix of magic and modern medicine. But a series of ill-timed omens and a deathbed promise to her grandmother have sent her on a quest to Half-Moon Hollow, Kentucky, to secure her family’s magical potency for the next generation. Her supernatural task? To unearth four artifacts hidden by her grandfather before a rival magical family beats her to it.
Complication One: Her grandfather was Mr. Wainwright and the artifacts are lost somewhere in what is now Jane Jameson's book shop. Complication Two: her new neighbor, Jed Trudeau, who keeps turning up half naked at the strangest times, a distraction Nola doesn't need. And teaming up with a real-life Adonis is as dangerous as it sounds, especially when he’s got the face of an angel and the abs of a washboard—can Nola complete her mission before falling completely under his spell?
 Audio Book

Nola Leary has to be one of the most complex narrations I've ever had to listen to. A mix between Boston and Ireland, I had to focus on the words not the accent. That said it was better to listen to it because several characters make reference to how weird her accent is, and with a paperback it wouldn't have come across the same way. I mean, you have to hear it to believe it.

It was nice to see a Half Moon Hollow story that wasn't almost exclusively undead or becoming undead. I liked the witchy aspect of it and the centuries old blood feud. It was also part mystery and part scavenger hunt as Nola was looking for four mystical objects to use in a ritual. The love match between Nola and Jed was great but the fact that once again Nola was supposed to be with someone else but found something better in Jed soured it just the tiniest bit. I'm not keen on characters that hook up in the way.

Jane and the gang were of course still in the background of this story as they are throughout the Half Moon Hollow series so far, providing comic relief and helping to move the plot along.

I give it

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Dusty Pages Review: Intimate Equations

Jules Kinsley is a new associate professor of math, and has recently bought a wonderful old house in a great neighborhood. She's sure she has it all together until she meets Sam Lopez, a handsome and brilliant landscaper who is taking her upper level math class. Sam's intensity, intelligence and humor immediately attract Jules. She soon finds that Sam not only ignites her neurons, but other parts as well. Her inhibitions melt with each encounter as she and Sam move from the classroom to the bedroom.

Sam has fallen equally as hard for his professor, but a surprise from her past may prove to be Jules' undoing. Jules has a secret, and Sam will need to face his own past if they are to mend the rift between them. Will they be able to balance the equations of love and build a future together?
 I picked this book up - mainly for the whole forbidden relationship angle - and its been sitting on my Kindle unread for several years. I had high expectations for this book but sadly they fell short - extremely, extremely short. Both parties were grown adults having sex - not even good sex, like naughty teenagers afraid of getting caught sex. Any initial sexual tension there was supposed to be fell flater than a souffle that's been shouted at by Gordan Ramsey for not rising to the occasion.

The main character was a math professor, I expected sexy slim line glasses, white blouses and inappropriate length pencil skirt but instead I got, well math. It didn't burn with any kind of passion and was full of inconstancy, especially with Jules back story. I couldn't in the end even bring myself to finish it, I put it down for a minute and just did not pick it back up again.

**Note** It is worth mentioning that the cover I got here, was not the one downloaded with my copy and when I was trying to find the back cover synopsis for this review, the book was no longer available on Amazon. I found the authors profile on goodreads in the end, the profile was scant, only three book between 2012-2013 and the publisher that supposedly put together the work, I cannot find a website for. Odd!

I give it

Monday, 9 October 2017

Meet A Writer Presents...

...H. Max Hiller

1. What is the longest you’ve gone without writing?

Decades. I was fifty-four when I published my first full-length novel. I have a stack of unfinished manuscripts and laughably bad story ideas dating back to my teens.

2. If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?

I would go back if I were able to interact with my younger self, though I’m not entirely sure I would take my own advice even if given the opportunity. Going forward carries with it the risk of knowing the date and time I die, and some things are best left to surprise.

3. What genre do you write in and what draws you into this genre?

Mysteries of a fairly hard-boiled nature. What I really wanted to do was to write a novel about Hurricane Katrina that wasn’t just another middle-class white guy crying in his beer, which is mostly what was published in the immediate aftermath. The mystery format has allowed me to incorporate the stories of a lot far less privileged people into my plots and characters, which gets the stories told without being maudlin or “preachy” and brings incredible depth to the landscape of the novels.

4. Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages a day?

No. I set aside three hours every day of the week, noon to three in the afternoon, and whatever I write is that day’s production. I also start the day’s writing by editing the previous day’s work and then picking up where I left off with the story. I still average a chapter a day doing this.

5. Do you let a book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

I have begun doing so, somewhat at my editor’s insistence. I had tended to send a “final” draft and then follow it up with a truck load of small changes. Now I get to the “final” draft and start pre-marketing while the story hardens. I leave it alone for a couple of weeks and then do a series of readings that result in those small edits before I give it to my editor for their suggestions.

6. Do you think the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

The cover is at least as important as the first page of the story and blurb on the back. Those are the three things that determine whether anyone buys the book, and online purchasers only get the cover and the blurb to help make their decision. The cover needs to be eye-catching AND relevant to the story inside.

7. What part of your writing time do you dedicate to marketing your book?

I separate the two time blocks. As I explained above, I start marketing while I let the manuscript ferment and age. I also spend an hour each morning doing fresh marketing and about an hour each evening evaluating what marketing is working.

8. What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

What annoys me the most are reviews by people who obviously lack a body of knowledge about the genre and police work. I have only complained about one reviewer, because she wanted to argue that military veterans never join the police force. I would prefer a review that clearly shows the person read the book from cover to cover and grasped the plot and subplots and has developed well thought out criticisms or praise for how I told the story. I can live with a bad review written by someone who can convince me they actually read the book from cover to cover.

9. Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

I find my characters had a much better way to tell my story that I did in the first couple of books I wrote in the series. This was when I was still firming up their character traits and relationships. I have a clearer picture of the characters now, and what they will and won’t do or say, and am able to take more control over the stories than I formerly tried to exert. Another factor in writing a continuing series is that, at least in my series, there are subplots and character developments that run parallel to the main plot and story of each individual book.

10. Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

The central character is entirely fictional and germinated in my imagination for years before he ever made it to paper. His immediate family members are based very loosely on people I actually do know, his partner is also based on a very real person—even though he seems the most made-up of the characters. Most of the support characters are also people I have known, but are usually composites of a lot of small characteristics of a lot of people I have worked with at some point.

11. Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?

It is my “day job” that affords me the opportunity to write. I began my career in the restaurant business in 1974 and always imagined it would give me a way to make a living and the flexible hours so I could write, but I lacked the discipline to actually write and not just indulge in the distractions that come with being in the restaurant business (and they are many). I eventually took a job as a training-chef for a towboat company and now work a rotation that has me away from home for a month at a time in exchange for having a month off with nothing to do but write, and a schedule while on board that still affords me those three hours a day to write. I get to travel, my “day job” is nearly a hobby compared to what I used to do in the kitchen (I cook three meals a day for only eight to ten people), and I can afford to do nothing but write or do support marketing for a month at a time.

12. What character in your book are you least likely to get along with?

Definitely the central character’s mother. She is intentionally written as a humorously difficult person to deal with. She is Southern Old-Money, with attitudes about class and society to match, but also relies on an on-line psychic for advice and recognizes that her children have considerably different attitudes.


The oath Detective Cooter “Cadillac” Holland swore to defend his home against foreign and domestic enemies is put to the test when evil men from both sides of the border start a war on the eve of Mardi Gras, an election, and the first Super Bowl in Saints’ history. A shadowy operation has resurrected the blueprints for the classified operation that nearly got Detective Holland killed in Iraq, and threatens his life again. When Cooter’s friends and family are also put at risk, he is forced to call upon the skills and mind-set learned as a Special Forces and Intelligence operative to keep the peace between local heroin dealers and a violent Mexican drug cartel, outsmart a defense contractor, and take on a loose-cannon Federal official out to cover the tracks of a deal gone bad.

 About H. Max

H. Max Hiller’s first taste of New Orleans was as a cook on Bourbon Street at the age of seventeen. His resume now includes many of New Orleans’ iconic dining and music destinations. Max uses a lifetime of characters and anecdotes to add depth to the Detective Cooter ‘Cadillac’ Holland series. He now divides his passions between writing at his home overlooking the Mississippi River and as a chef aboard a boat traveling America’s inland waterways.