Friday, September 27, 2013

Album Review: Elisa Korenne - Concrete

Elisa Koreene has been hailed as a mixture of Natalie Merchant and Aimee Mann.,  and if that means she's a strong female singer/songwriter/vocalist, well then that statement is 100% true. There's something familiar about Elisa's voice.  There seems to be a touch of most all the great women of the 90s in Elisa.

Concrete is the follow-up to 2005's Favorite. Seven years is a long time between albums, but Elisa definitely makes it worth the wait. Concrete runs the gamut from slow acoustic songs, to bluesy numbers to all out girl power rock. This album takes the listener on a musical roller coaster ride that leaves you breathless and wanting more.

The album opens with the haunting "Know Better." If the Four Non-Blondes and Natalie Merchant got together, this is the song they would have come up with. Its folk rock. It has a gentle melody but it also has a gritty edge that says,  "I'm more than just a pretty song."

The title track is a dark, moody, sexy tune. This song gives you a glimpse of Elisa's softer side, but not too soft. She shows her real soft side on "Color Me In" which is one light, airy, acoustic song.

As much as those songs are soft, pretty tunes, "Love To Love" is just the opposite. It would be easy to say this song is a girl power anthem, but that's for those who don't know anything about the song. "Love To Love" is a song about Victoria Woodhull, a pioneering feminist. Her life couldn't be a fluffy sounding song, she was a suffragette and the first woman to own a Wall Street Bank, the first woman to run for President of the United States and an advocate of free love. She's a weighty subject and deserving of such a rocking song.

"Keep It In My Heart" slows things down again. When you hear this song right after "Love To Love" it is difficult to believe it is the same person singing. Her rock voice and her folk voice sound totally different.

"Color Me In" has a 90s Lilith Fair vibe going on.

Just when  you think the rest of the album is going to follow in that vein, she rocks out again on "Lean Into The Curve." This is a bluesy rocker. It isn't as hard as "Love To Love." It is a lighter more spirited rock song.

"Take Me Slowly" is pure passion. If you could compare it another song it would have to be Elvis Costello's "I Want You." I has that same slow, angst ridden emotion.

Elisa changes the tone with "Your's For A Song" a catchy song that has definite ear worm potential.

"Ferris Wheel" is definitely where the comparisons to Natalie Merchant come from. There's something about this song that takes you back to the days when 10,000 Maniacs ruled the airwaves.

"Trail Of Broken Hearts" is one of the most eccentric sounding songs on the album.  Anyone that is a fan of The Monkees can compare the arrangement of this song to the Michael Nesmith song "Tapicoa Tundra"

The album closes with the "A Little Bit Of Salt." The tribal beat of this song takes this bluesy song up a few notches.

Concrete is a solid album that shows off Elisa's versatility both as a songwriter and a performer.  Elisa's music is reminiscent of all that was great about the women in rock of the 90s, but she brings a fresh touch to that sound.  She is a woman that can rock as good as the boys but isn't afraid to show her girly side as well.

File this album under "must listen music of 2013."

Rating: 5 (out of 5 stars)

Listen: Love To Love

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Cover Reveal: Natasha Blackthorne - A Measured Risk




A MEASURED RISK features a shy, intellectual, strong-willed widow with real life curves (Rubenesque/BBW) and a protective, possessive Dominant, alpha male hero. This is a story of Dominance and submission with light BDSM, emotional healing, trust and love.

* * *

A MEASURED RISK is an Erotic Historical Romance.



I write emotional, evocative, erotic historical romance featuring non-traditional and unconventional situations. My stories are most frequently about the internal journey of the characters as they learn to open their hearts to love. My heroines are not perfect ladies. They are wildflowers and wallflowers who enjoy flirting with the forbidden. Whether they are bold or shy, my heroines' strong desires and deep emotions drive the plot and drive their heroes to the point of no return. Please be aware: My works contain frequent and graphic erotic content and frank sexual language. (Click here for more information on how I craft my erotic scenes and select my word choices.) I enjoy studying all aspects of social history and exploring that in my writing, as a result my plots may contain non-traditional situations.
Natasha Blackthorne can be found on Facebook/Twitter/Blogger

Monday, September 23, 2013

Album Review: Eileen Howard - Blues In The Green Room

Live albums are a great way to find out just how much talent a performer has.

Blues In The Green Room is a wonderful introduction to a jazz vocalist with an unforgettable voice. This is the fourth album by the New York City based vocalist.

Eileen Howard belts out classic songs like "Fever" and "Frim Fram Sauce" with style and panache.

These are songs that have been recorded many times over by the likes of Madonna and Diana Krall, to name a few, but Eileen brings something fresh to these songs that you don't get with any of the other versions out there.

There's more to this album than the great songs though. In between many of the tracks, Eileen treats her audience to a little bit of humor in the form of "Eileen's Reasons To Sing The Blues." Reason number 3 is fat, and it is a perfect segway into  Willie Dixon's "Build For Comfort" that has the opening line "Some folk built like this. Some folk built like that. But the way I'm built, don't you call me fat."

"Its Easy To Remember" is a gentle ballad. Its old fashioned melody is one of the slowest on the album and that sets it apart from most of the songs on this recording that are much livelier.

Eileen's version of "Everyone's Crying Mercy" is probably one of the best out there, with the exception of Elvis Costello's version off his 1995 album Kojak Variety. This song is Eileen showing everyone that is listening what the blues are about.

"I Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl" is full of sexy fun. The song fits perfectly in a set with "Frim Fram Sauce" and "Black Coffee." It makes reason number 3 for singing the blues a little clearer.

"Black Coffee" is a slow and sexy number. As you listen to Eileen sing, you can picture yourself at the Garden Theater in Columbus, OH.

One of the most uplifting and fun blues numbers is "Wild Women Don't Have The Blues."

Reason number 11 to sing the blues is menopause which leads into "Lost Mind." it would be fabulous if the album would have included all the other reasons, because Eileen's wit is just as good as her singing.

The album appropriately closes with "One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)." This is a great closing time song.

If you've never listened to Eileen Howard before this album, you'll be wowed by the experience and will want to hear more. If you are already a fan, this album is a wonderful gem to add to your collection

Listen: Wild Women Don't Have The Blues

Monday, September 16, 2013

Album Review: Little Big Town - Tornado


Little Big Town is one of those country bands that you can count on for putting out a good album, and Tornado is perfect example of that.

The band that's been around since 98 and Tornado is the band's fifth album. The album doesn't deviate from their signature harmonies, which is one of the reasons, they are such a listenable band across the board.

Some country artists have crossover appeal because their music is so close to pop music, but that's not the case with Little Big Town.

Pavement Ends is a rowdy tune that sets the mood for this upbeat album. The harmonies are perfection.

The first single from Tornado is "Pontoon." This is slow bluesy number let's Karen Fairchild's voice shine. She's the the real twang in the group. This song is has a lazy swagger and is an unlikely ear worm.

Kimberly Schlapman handles the vocals on "Sober." This song is all about the harmonies and the powerful line, "When I die, I don't want to go sober."

"Front Porch Swing" has Phillip Sweet taking the front and center spot. The accapella harmony vocals that open the song show of each members vocals before Phillip takes control.

These four songs give you the opportunity to see the versatility of Little Big Town. Each player brings a unique voice to the band. No one member takes over the lead, but Tornado is really Karen Fairchild's chance to shine in the spotlight. The two breakout singles "Pontoon" and "Tornado" both feature Karen's vocal. Both songs have a darker edge, slow and moody, and both have the ability to take up residence in your head for long periods.

There are a lot of country party songs out there and they drift either to a more Top 40 sound or just veer into the absolute silly. "Red Solo Cup" I'm talking about you. Little Big Town toss a song into the mix with "On Fire Tonight." Now this is a song that makes you want to party, or at least move. It full of energy and is 100% infectious. In other words, this song is fun, plain and simple.

Kimberly Schlapman is back on lead vocals for "Can't Go Back." This song is polished to a shine. Where Karen's vocals are more down home country, Kimberly's vocals are more folksy and refined.

"Self Made" opens with some screaming guitars before Karen's voice rings. This song embodies country rock. She shares vocals with Jimi Westbrook, who just happens to be her husband. Though it is cliche, these two make some kick ass music together.

"Night Owl" is sweet ballad. The perfect lullaby to end the album and it features all four members on vocals. The melody is very old fashioned. Think Lawrence Welk! But not in a bad way.

Tornado should be part of every music lover's collection.

5 out of 5 stars

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Album Review: - Chris Leigh & The Broken Hearts - Broken Hearted Friends


To all the fans of country music that complain that country isn't country anymore, need not look any further than Chris Leigh to know that there are still some artists in the genre not going the pop route.

Chris Leigh is what country is all about. These are songs of heartbreak and loss and drinking, but without all the redneck references that are everywhere in modern country. Chris' music has been compared to artists like Hank Williams and The Man In Black, Johnny Cash. Those are some pretty hefty comparisons, but once you listen to Broken Hearted Friends you know that they aren't unfounded.

The album opens with a huge twang on "Broken Hearted Friends."  This is kind of a hilly billy variation on the Sgt Pepper theme. The good ole' boy being deserted by his woman, who isn't too keen on his football watching and drinking. This is a great bar song to sing-a-long with.

Broken Hearted Friends is full of songs that will have you singing. "Ramblin' Man" is one of those songs. It is one part Johnny Cash with a touch of Elvis Presley's swagger. There are even a few songs that will tug at your heartstrings. "If You Make It To Heaven" will not only  tug at them, it may just bring a few tears to your eyes, especially as he asks "Could you send me an angel, cos I've done my time here in hell." Chris' voice is full of emotion and it just spills out in songs like this one.

"Like I Love You Forever" is a soul stirring ballad of long lasting love. Twang and those old fashioned "ooohs" in the background give this song polish.

"Whiskey River" is a good ole honky tonk, boozin' kind of song. Everything about it full of twang and pure southern fun. It is oddly uplifting and very energetic, just the kind of song makes you feel good.

If there is any question about the sex of those greenbacks in your wallet, the song "Money" will clear it up for you. "Money" is a faithless woman. Twangy and sorrowful, this song is full of laughs as Chris sings about financial woes. "Money, she don't  love me any more. Money, I'm feeling so awful poor." It is impossible not to crack a smile at lyrics like these.

"Here We Go Again" is rockabilly at its best. Chris is channeling Elvis Presley on this one. This song will send you hurdling back in time to the 50s. You'll stay in that decade with "Who's That." It's only lyrics like "Who's that Facebook Romeo" that give away the decade that the song was written in.

"Heartache & Misery" is a warning to any woman that might have aspirations at this man who doesn't stay too long in one place, who is a definite commitment phob.

If you are a lover of old country music, Broken Hearted Friends is the album for you. There's not a trace of Top 40 or pop anywhere on this album. This album is country with all its twang and even some of the more clich├ęd themes, but it doesn't matter, because that's what makes this album so great. Songs of love, loss and drinkin' are what country music is ...or rather was all about.

It is great to see that there are still artists that play it old school, and Chris Leigh is one of them. This is an album that shouldn't be missed.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Book Spotlight: Scent Of A Mate

Scent of a Mate © Milly Taiden 
Coming September 20th

Mission: Scent a Mate

Jordan Alvarez knew that a promise to her best friend involved staking out the local wolf pack's scenting ceremony and recording the graphic details, but she was the writer and the only one with the balls to finish the task. No one would know that four human women had sneaked proof of their rituals, or at least, that was the plan until Aric Wolfe showed up.

Mission: Stake a Claim

Aric Wolfe knew his baby sister was up to something, and expected her best friend, Jordan, to be in on the chaos. He finally had an opportunity to lay claim to a mate that had been under his nose for years. Jordan's scent called to both the man and the animal, and he was done fighting the call of the beast. It was time to mark his mate.

Mission: Survive an Alpha

When a good intention creates a problem for the Wolfe family, Jordan finds herself being stalked by a woman intent on claiming Aric as her own. Battle lines will be drawn, love will be put to the test, and Aric will have to fight Jordan's strong personality to keep her alive. Two alpha hearts seeking control will either find the balance or risk losing their love forever.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

CBLS Book Tour: Sunspots



Sunspots
by Karen S. Bell
Time-Travel Romance/Romantic Suspense
Categories: Comedy, Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: KSB Press
Release Date: December 12, 2012
Heat Level: Sensual
Word Count: 102,300

Available at:

Description:
“One can never be, and should never be, smug about life,” says Aurora Goldberg. An aspiring New York actress who has never realized her dreams, Aurora keeps herself afloat by doing odd temp jobs where her rich fantasy life helps her get through the day. Aurora sees the world through the lens of characters in literature and film and these fictionalizations are woven into her interpretation of reality.

On one of her temp assignments she meets Jake Stein, a man who could “charm the skin off a snake” and she decides to follow her destiny as his wife in Austin, Texas. But Jake's sudden death after two short years disintegrates her world and Aurora must reevaluate her life and let go of a love that has become an obsession.

With the help of friends, family, and the ghost of Viola Parker (her home's original owner), Aurora accepts her fate and the secrets revealed about Jake's true character. She realizes that in this life she will finally break the cycle of pain caused by her love for this man, Jake Stein, through the centuries.

Excerpt:
My passion for acting surfaced as a young child when my so-called natural talent flung itself into the world full-blown and raw. Not wanting to attend pre-school one morning, I laid my arm over my head and “pretended” that my head hurt as I had seen my mother do many times before. That deceit uncovered a truth made known by philosophers of the ages, but of which I was certainly unaware. Pretending to feel and to really feel do not appear differently to the external world—if you do it right. Aside from being great fun, the stage was an obvious platform to hone that skill.

As Celeste Abbott, my alter ego, I spent most of my time as either a receptionist or data-entry clerk. It was not by choice, because I dreamed of being sought after by the best directors and to work continuously like Julia Roberts or Nicole Kidman or have a great stage career like Patti Lupone.

I had several fits and starts on the roller-coaster ride of acting that kept me hooked and on the payroll of two temp agencies where I had accumulated so many hours that I was eligible for health benefits—a situation that pleased my mother but underlined my failure to get into Actors’ Equity, or make enough money that AFTRA or SAG allowed me into their health plans. My first paying gig was a commercial with five other girls that shot all day on location at the Jersey Shore.

“Okay, ladies,” said the director. “Try and pretend it’s not 40 degrees. Look like it’s summer. I know you’re quite cold in those shorts and tee shirts, so let’s get this done quickly. Chase each other. Laugh. Throw the ball. Have fun. Okay, good. You over there, go sit in the parked car.”

“Me?”

“Yes, but can you do anything about those blue lips?”

There it was. I was chosen to sit behind the wheel of a convertible and gaze sexily into the camera for a tight close-up—the money shot. I could taste the possibilities of fat residual checks or even better—being discovered by some producer who thought my look “perfect for the lead” in some mega-funded movie, but instead I caught a chill and high fever that kept me out of temp work for a week. When the commercial aired, I realized that the only close-up not on the cutting room floor was my foot sporting the running shoe I had been wearing.

My optimism, however, could not be thwarted because my real passion was Broadway and it was the dream that kept my juices flowing. My closest encounter with a stage career had been a part I landed in an off-off Broadway play downtown. Off-off Broadway is where any basement or falling down hotel can be a theater and anything can be a play. But more importantly, off-off Broadway meant there was no real money, so budgets were tight.

This gig was in the Meatpacking District in a storefront of what looked like a condemned building. The windows of the store were blacked out so that the streetlights wouldn’t interfere with the stage lighting. The audience sat in folding chairs and the house could hold about 60 souls who weren’t turned off by the lingering odor of the daytime businesses. The stage was a wooden platform that was long and narrow and made moving about a bit risky. I was chosen to play the “unnamed woman,” one of three characters. The other two characters were her “unnamed lover” and “death.” More performance art than a play, it had one act with one scene. As the unnamed woman, I wore a mask and gold body paint (that covered my exposed skin and bright-pink bikini) and sang two songs that had no set melody.

“Hey ho, hey ho. The setting sun sends swords of gold. Hey ho, hey ho. The light. The light. Please light my love.” Or some such nonsense was my opening number. My challenge was to improvise the music every night to a drum that was my sole accompaniment. One night, I believe I crossed into copyright infringement when this melody came very close to sounding like the song for the seven dwarfs in Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the other song sounded like, The Sound of Music. I was paid a small amount of money that included cleaning up the stage and backstage afterwards. Unfortunately, the show closed after one week and ended my brush with stardom.

Review:
Tahlia Newland Awesome Indies
“SUNSPOTS is a moving, beautifully-written mystery about the devastating consequences of obsessive love.

Bell’s elegant prose not only describes the events and scenery of this self destructive love story in riveting detail, but also skilfully evokes the atmosphere both internal and external. The structure of the story is very clever. At the beginning of the book, our empathy is aroused for grieving widow Aurora Goldberg. It appears that she had the perfect marriage to charming Jake, but as the story progresses, we and Aurora discover Jake’s secrets, so shocking to her that she is forced to re-evaluate their love. Through eyes opened by the truth—and helped along by the visions provided by a ghost—she sees that all was not as rosy as she had believed. Not only that, but the legacy he left her could be life-threatening.

Popular fiction tends to romanticise love where one looses themselves in the other, or feels completed by the other, or feels they cannot live or be happy without the other; Sunspots takes this kind of notion to its extreme to show how disempowering an obsession with the object of our love actually is. Obsession not only blinds you, it makes you weak, needy and boring. Your partner is likely to turn elsewhere to get away from your clinging, especially if you end up harping on at him that he never gives you any attention anymore. It’s dangerous to let your whole life revolve around one person, for when they leave you—by death as it is in this case—you are devastated. As the book progresses we come to see how much Aurora has brought her crippling grief upon herself. She literally looses herself in this obsession.

Bell brings a metaphysical element to the story with the addition of Viola Parker, the ghost of the sister of Aurora’s last incarnation. With her help, Aurora sees that this pattern of obsessive love and betrayal by Jake—in his previous incantations—has been repeated in past lifetimes that ended with Aurora’s suicide. Viola urges her to take a different path in this life and cut the cycle of self-destruction.

Bell deals with interesting themes here, that we tend to repeat patterns until we make a conscious effort to change them,  that the past can be changed by actions in the present, and that when someone ‘saves’ us with love, in a healthy, balanced relationship we also to some extent ‘save’ them.

Highly recommended to anyone who likes psychological depth in their romance. I give it 5 stars and a place on the Awesome Indies list.”

About the Author:
Walking with Elephants was my first novel, although I am not new to writing. I was a theater critic and celebrity interviewer for a weekly tabloid in Jacksonville, Florida and I earned a Master’s in Mass Communication from Oklahoma State University. For 15 years I worked in Corporate America as a technical editor/editor/writer. I experienced first hand the politics and intrigue that goes with that territory and the balancing act that comes with being a working mother. I salute all those mothers who are the glue that holds their families together while pursuing the nine to five brass ring. And that is what inspired me to write that novel.

With my second novel, Sunspots, I continue to be in awe of the magical and wondrous phenomenon called life. As an observer and obvious participant in feminine values and approach to our human challenges, I bring this perspective to my work. Fascinated by the mysteries of the unseen forces that perhaps play a role in guiding our choices, I search for answers in the mundane as well as in the cosmic forces that surround us.

Connect with Karen S. Bell


Book Spotlight: Lucky Break - April Angel

Blurb:

Will gambling with her heart bring her luck in love?

Lucky is a top event planner with a loving family and the job of her dreams. But she’s not at all lucky in love. Her last relationship ended in a spectacle she’s been trying to forget. Then a chance encounter leads her into the arms of Jared Thomas, one incredibly sexy man who makes more than her heart throb.

Jared loves women—he just doesn’t trust them. He’s lived a hard life, where misplaced trust can mean death. But when he meets the sexy Latina, he wants to get close enough to find out if she’s worthy of more than just play time. And the gloriously hot sex doesn’t disappoint. He wants to make her his, body, mind and soul…if two people with trust issues can stay together long enough…

Excerpt:  
Mastering the nearly overpowering urge to grab her by the hand and haul her out of there was not an easy task. He noticed her empty champagne flute and motioned a passing waiter to hand her a full glass. She took a sip of the bubbly. He watched her lick her lips again, lips he kept picturing wrapped around his cock, sucking him into her hot mouth. He leaned forward on the table, closer to her, and inhaled. The sexy, light scent tickling his nostrils made him think of satin sheets and sweaty bodies.
“What did you have in mind?” he asked.
Their gazes met. Arousal flickered to life in the depths of her whiskey-brown eyes. The longer they stared at each other, the brighter it blazed, beckoning him closer. His cock jerked in his dress pants, ready for action. Hell, he sure was glad he was behind the table, because no matter how good his poker face, he wouldn’t be able to hide that bit of evidence from her.
She shrugged. It was a dainty, sexy lift of her shoulders that pushed her breasts farther up her neckline. “You seem to be the expert here.”
He narrowed his eyes. She sounded like she was making fun of him, but she couldn’t possibly know he was anything other than a hired table attendant. “I wouldn’t call myself a professional.” Oh yeah, he was a lying bastard all right. “But I have experience.”
Her gaze latched onto his lips and slowly traveled back up to meet his. He ground his teeth and fought the cock-hardening look she gave him. She licked her lips. “Let’s see if you’re right in your assumption that my luck won’t last.”
“What’s in it for me, gorgeous?”
She leaned closer. Their faces were only a foot apart now.
“What do you want?”
 He wanted to close the distance, to taste her plump red lips, and allow her sexy perfume to fill his lungs. “Alone time…” He watched her eyes widen before he finished. “With you.”
The interest in her eyes grew, until her pupils dilated with arousal. She gulped but didn’t respond. He decided to taunt her into agreeing, into giving in to his wishes.
“It’s all right. It’s clear you’re going to lose anyway. I know the game.” He grinned, and because he couldn’t stop himself, he lifted a hand and caressed her cheek. Her skin was baby-soft and smooth.
Her eyes widened and then narrowed. “And if I win?”
Gotcha.
He felt like a lion that had landed on the perfect prey. Now to reel her in. “Whatever you want.”

Buy Links:
BN: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1116467206?ean=2940148435518
Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00EKPF8XU


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Monday, September 9, 2013

Single Review: Guess Into Frank's Reel

Artist: Twae Left Feet
Single: Guess Into Frank's Reel
Review by Andrea Guy


"Guess Into Frank's Reel" is a song, consisting of two songs "Guess" written by Twae Left Feet members Galen Fraser and Scott Burn and "Frank's Reel" which is a traditional Scottish tune. 

The song is spirited and well played with Guess transitioning effortlessly into "Frank's Reel." These songs together really demonstrate how lively Celtic music can be. The tune is infectious and the fiddle seems to taunt the listen to give a bit of traditional Celtic dancing a try.

"Guess" is a little bit slower and slightly melancholy in comparison to "Frank's Reel." If one were to dance to "Guess Into Frank's Reel" they would start out with a close more intimate dance and then slowly slip into the more lively dance.

"Frank's Reel" was one of the band's favorite songs to perform in Scotland, and it is easy to see why. The melody is such fun, and full of energy. Galan's fiddle playing is masterful. Listening to the fiddle makes you long for a live performance, so that you can truly experience the skill involved in playing this music. Scott plays the bodhran , an Irish frame drum, which gives the song its distinct sound.

It is difficult to believe that only these two instruments make up the beautiful sounds that you here on "Guess Into Frank's Reel."  The arrangement seems to be much more complex to the ear, yet it is only the fiddle and drum that bring this song to life.

This song is a wonderful introduction to Celtic music and it is a teaser for the full length album to be released later this year by Twae Left Feet to commemorate their one year anniversary as a band. That is definitely an album that any fan of Celtic music will want to put on their wish list.




Rating: 5 (out of 5 stars)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Album Review: Jeffery Straker - Vagabond

A review by: Andrea Guy

Jeffery Straker's  Vagabond  is the Canadian singer/songwriter/pianist's fourth album. His music has been compared to notable artists such as Elton John, Billy Joel and Rufus Wainwright, but as flattering as those comparisons may be, they aren't accurate, they are simply trying to pigeonhole Jeffrey in with other artists that write songs and play piano.

If you could compare Jeffrey with any artist on the scene today, it would have to be Mika, a very much toned down Mika, but Mika nonetheless.

The album opens with "Birch Bark Canoe." This song is a beautiful slow number that introduces the listener to his vocal range. His piano playing is flawless and it is the other reason why people will find themselves attracted to his music. The main reason being his songwriting.

"Rosetta Stone" has a dreamy orchestration.  The arrangement is sophisticated but folksy at the same time, elegant, yet comfortable.

There's a air of melancholy to "Burn The Boats." The solitary drum beat adds a darkness to this song, along with Jeffrey's haunting vocal.

"Botanic Gardens" is a swirling, elegant example of songwriting.  This is the song that likely drew the comparisons to Elton John. It share's Elton's 70s pop brilliance, with a touch of The Beatles' "Penny Lane." The song is dramatic and it compels you to listen as well as sing along.

Jeffery's best songs are the ones with a heavy pop element and "Sans Souci" is one of those songs. Its upbeat and catchy and very 70s. It is pure fun. This is the kind of song you play at full blast, so that the neighbors beg you to turn it down, even though you won't.

"Raven" slips back into serious mood. Like Poe's "Raven" the song is more dark and mysterious sounding.

Staying with the slow theme is "Cathode Rays." The title is so intriguing that you might find yourself googling the title just to find out that cathode rays are streams of electrons observed in a vacuum tube. This is one of the few songs (not by They Might Be Giants) that will give you a bit of a science lesson, if you feel curious. If you aren't the curious sort, you just have a soothing melody with a vocal that will lull you into a sense of relaxation.

Another quirky song title is "Myopia" and the song is just as quirky. This is the most fun track on the album. After all, how many songs have myopia in the title and as part of the chorus? Pop fans, will fall hard for "Myopia."

The album closes with the forty second "Foolish." It is described as a twitter love lament and perhaps 40 seconds is the equivalent of 140 characters or less.

Jeffery Straker may be a well known name in Canada, but his talent should carry him across the borders. Vagabond  is an album that will appeal to all ages. Though it is full of more sophisticate numbers, Jeffrey's voice and songwriting talent will draw listeners in.


It is a shame the majority of the songs on Vagabond have a serious sound, when Jeffery does the more playful pop tunes so well.  There is always the next album though, but until then Vagabond  is a wonderful addition to anyone's listening library.

Rating 4 (out of 5) stars

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Book Spotight: COLD - Stella Cameron


Blurb:

You can't outrun the past... 

...and tripping over a frosted corpse is a complication that could destroy Alex Duggins' attempt to restart her life. The discovery of a murder victim threatens to unearth some old secrets, including her own. 

As the tiny town of Folly-on-Weir braces for a chilling winter and snow blankets Britain's Cotswold Hills, a killer faces a deadline. A terrible crime was believed to be safely hidden, but time and conscience can wear on a secret. 

The clock ticks and with the police breathing down her neck, Alex knows she's at the top of the suspect list. Desperate to clear her name and find the real murderer she begins to peel back the layers of deception that have long-concealed one of the town's darkest secrets. But time is also running out for a killer who has nothing left to lose. What's one more murder? 

Someone intends that Alex will be the next snow-covered body found in the beautiful hills above the town.



Excerpt:

            How long had it taken to change a life forever? A minute, ninety seconds – while he listened, barely understanding, while two men destroyed his own young innocence, and allowed another child to die?
            Nothing was ever the same after that day. All the days and years that followed had led to this night of hope and fear.
            “Come on boy, catch up,” Dominic called. “We’ll freeze if we don’t keep moving.”
            The only reason he could see the dog at all in the darkness was that his dark gray fur showed up against a thickening carpet od snow underfoot, and the falling flakes that grew heavier with each moment.
            Brother Dominic stopped and watched Bogie approach like a trotting miniature show horse in slow motion, lifting each foot as if it burned.
            “Okay, we’ll keep each other a bit warmer.” He swept up his little grey buddy and tucked him inside an old tweed coat. “Now we’ve got to get a move on. This is a borrowed coat and we need to give it back to Percy.”
            Talking to his dog was an indulgence Dominic reserved for when they were alone. He smiled at the thought. They were rarely as alone as they were in the middle of the night, on this hill in the Cotswold Hills that were so spectacular in the daylight, yet so pitiless when every step was an act of faith.
`           He had pulled the hood on his habit up to cover his head and ward off some of the cold. The old, brown cloth was already soaked and started to freeze.
            Silence seemed absolute. Except when a gust of wind sent frigid, leafless branches raking together.
            Not a single vehicle had passed on the narrow road that forked away from the tiny village below and rose to traverse the hill. There was a scatter of farms and houses up here, all with feeder tracks from the road. But any people out there were probably tucked up sleeping by now.
            You couldn’t see any buildings form the road.
            Bogie scrabbled closer and pressed his wet nose to Dominic’s neck.
            The wind picked up, drove straight at him, and he leaned against it to push his way on, and the snow drove into his face and crammed inside his collar.
            He crossed his hands over the dog and pushed his bare hands beneath his arms.
            This has to be done.
            Old wrongs must be put right, lies dispelled quickly for the sake of peace, his own but more importantly, the others involved. His challenge was to bring secrets into the light without harming the innocent.

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About Stella: 
Stella Cameron is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author. With over fourteen million copies of her books in print, Cameron is now turning her pen to mysteries and independently publishing COLD, Introducing Alex Duggins. She draws on her English background for this new, already critically acclaimed mystery series. Atmospheric, deeply character and relationship driven, COLD reveals the power of old secrets to twist the present. Cameron’s reputation for using her backgrounds to add tension and allure to her stories is heightened again.

Cameron is the recipient of the Pacific Northwest Achievement Award for distinguished professional achievement and for enhancing the stature of the Northwest Literary community. She lives in Washington with her husband Jerry, her Papillon Millie, black cat Zipper, and a cheeky little tabby named Jack.

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Book Blitz: Wicked Heat

Competitors by day, lovers by night…

Allegra Wilks has had the worst month of her personal and professional life. To save her company, she must go on her would-be honeymoon and land the luxury eco-island resort’s lucrative advertising account. But when a lingerie mishap leads her into the arms of a wickedly distracting Australian, Allegra’s tempted to skip the trip and explore the most sensual kiss she’s ever experienced. Too bad their chance encounter at the airport is just that.

Having recently lost his company to his former best friend’s shady business tactics, Jett Halcott is headed to a South Pacific resort to secure an advertising account that will resurrect his reputation and career. Realizing the tantalizing Allegra Wilks is on his flight, Jett envisions a week filled with business and pleasure. But Jett doesn’t know Allegra’s fighting for the same account, or that there’s more at stake than his heart.




“You should do that more often,” he said, reaching out to trace her bottom lip with his fingertip. “You’re beautiful, but when you smile? Wow.”

Uncomfortable with his overt compliments, Allegra sat there and let a guy she’d just met touch her lips with a slow, sensual caress. His fingertip traced her bottom lip in a butterfly-soft sweep that left her breathless.

Their eyes locked as he lowered his hand, and what she saw made her wish she could ditch Palm Bay and travel to Australia.

Blatant lust. Strong. Sexy. Seductive. His eyes deepened to an incredible green that matched a favorite jade pendant she wore often. He wanted her, and in this crazy moment, the feeling was entirely mutual.

He raised his beer to his lips and took a long swig, his heat-filled stare never leaving hers.

Damn, she had no idea what to do in this situation. Make a joke to diffuse the tension? Acknowledge it? Flirt?

She hated feeling out of control, had instigated steps her entire life to avoid it. Yet in a loaded thirty seconds, Jett had made her damp with just one look and made her flounder.

“Is the blatant charm an Aussie thing or is it just you?”

Thankfully, he blinked, and broke the scorching stare that made her want to grab a napkin off the bar and fan herself. “It’s me.” He leaned in close. “Time you fessed up.”

Yikes. Was her reaction to him that easy to read?

“To what?”

His lips almost brushed her ear. “You’re battling an incredible urge to drag me into the nearest janitor’s closet and ravish me.”

She laughed at his outrageousness. “Sorry. I don’t do sex in cleaning closets. Too many hazardous chemicals.”

“Yeah, those pheromones can be killer.”

She loved his quick wit and for the second time in as many minutes, wished she’d met him at a different place, different time.

            “Pity.” He reverted to a smoldering stare that had her wishing she’d ordered a vodka shot chaser. “Sex in confined spaces can be fun.”

“I’ll take your word for it.” Heat crept into her cheeks and she signaled the waiter for a glass of water. To douse herself with.

“Not the answer I was hoping for,” he said, shifting his barstool closer so their thighs brushed. “Would’ve been better if you’d said, ‘Sounds good, Jett, let’s go try.’”

She cleared her throat and gratefully accepted the water from the waiter, drinking it all and wishing she could run the cool beaded exterior across her forehead. “How did we get onto this crazy topic?”

“Started with you wanting to ravish me.” He clinked his beer bottle to her empty glass. “Seriously. There’s no need to hold back. I can take whatever you want to dish out.”


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Book Promo: Murder of a Stacked Librarian

Available September 3, 2013!



Murder of a Stacked Librarian is the sixteenth book in

Denise Swanson's Scumble River Mystery series.



There’s no place like Scumble River at Christmastime, and this year, school psychologist Skye Denison has twice as much to celebrate — and to do.  In addition to the usual holiday frenzy, Skye’s wedding is less than a week away — that is, if the groom isn’t too busy working to attend.  The town’s sexy new librarian, Yvonne Osborn, has just been murdered, and the list of suspects is piling up faster than late fees on an overdue book.



ISBN 978-0-451-41650-6 * $7.99 U.S. / $8.99 Canada



Thanks for all your past support

of my Scumble River and

Devereaux's Dime Store mystery series!

Denise



Book Events — check http://www.DeniseSwanson.com/appears.htm for updates

Saturday, September 7 at 12:30 - 2:00 PM: Coal City Pharmacy
175 South Broadway Street, Coal City, Illinois 60416-1532

Sunday, September 8 at 1:00 PM: Barnes & Noble Booksellers
The Promenade, 631 East Boughton Road - Suite 100, Bolingbrook, Illinois 60440
Web site: http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/store/2304



Murder of a Stacked Librarian is available at most bookstores and online.

Buy: Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Books A Million 




Aunt Agatha's Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Michigan  *  Mystery Lovers Bookshop, Oakmont, Pennsylvania