Posted in Colorado, Young Adult on March 23, 2012

I am not a huge reader of YA books…of course this is coming from the person that LOVED Hunger Games and can’t wait to see the movie.  Anyway, YA books generally aren’t a category I read but I was intrigued when author Del Shannoncontacted me about reading his book, Kevin’s Point of View.  The cover art is courtesy of a child that read the book and sent it to Del.

Del was also kind enough to allow me to interview him!

What inspired you to write this story?

There were quite a few influences and inspirations for the Kevin’s Point of View. My own daydreaming and imagination is probably the most prominent inspiration. When I was a kid I was constantly daydreaming and imagining myself as a wide range of characters – Dracula clamping onto the neck of my unsuspecting mother, Evel Knievel jumping nearly anything I could find with my bike, Reggie Jackson hitting home runs during the World Series, or my absolute favorite, Indian Jones, crawling through caves in search of undiscovered treasure.

Another huge inspiration was Saturday morning cartoons. Saturday morning was THE BEST time of the week and I would religiously watch Rocky and Bullwinkle, Scooby Doo, the Super Friends, and the Looney Tunes, which were my favorites. There were two Looney Tunes cartoons that I especially liked, called Boyhood Daze and From A to ZZZ, and they stared an obscure character named Ralph Phillips. Like me, Ralph was a perpetual daydreamer and always imagined himself in some wild adventure. The cartoons are on YouTube and they’ll make you laugh.

I need to make sure I also mention the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip as an influence. Calvin was also a wild daydreamer and his alter ego, Spaceman Spiff, was in my mind when I created Kevin’s alter ego – Captain Disaster.

I saw in the video interview that it took you 10 years to write and then about that many years to publish which you decided to self-publish, how did you stay so patient during that time?

I definitely didn’t stay patient in the 10 years of writing and 10 years looking for a publisher. It’s been incredibly frustrating at times and I gave up dozens of times, but eventually I would always come back to the story, fiddle with it, make a few edits, and keep writing. At one point I decided to cut an entire character (Mr. Neumann), which required me to rewrite or completely delete about 6 chapters. What kept me going was the response I would get from kids when I’d go to classrooms and read the story to them. While I was writing I would beg my teacher friends to let me come to their classrooms to talk about writing and to read from whatever I was writing at the time to see if the kids enjoyed it. After one of these classroom visits I received this huge stack of thank you notes, including one from Ruben Quintana who drew a picture on the cover of his card of Kevin jumping out of the bathroom window completely naked. I LOVED this card and would go back to over and over when I would get discouraged or receive another rejection letter. I read the card quite often because I’ve received well over 100 rejections. Sigh…

If Kevin’s Point of View were to be made into a movie, who do you see playing some of the major characters especially Kevin and Scratch?

Even though he’s British, Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) reminds me of what I think Kevin looks like. And if Sean Penn were 30 years younger he’d make an excellent Scratch. But my real preference would be to have actors who aren’t widely known to play all the characters. It would enjoy seeing actors relatively unknown to the broader public playing characters created by someone DEFINITELY unknown to the broader public.

How were you able to get the schools to put this book in the library?

I asked them. Most libraries love getting free books, so I donated the book to them. A few bloggers have also been donating the book to their local school libraries after finishing their review. Other bloggers are also teachers and they’ve shared the book with their school libraries.

What book(s) are on your nightstand right now?

A Voyage Long and Strange, by Tony Horwitz is my current read. It’s a book that looks at all the explorers who ventured into the Americas (Vikings, Columbus, Conquistadors, etc.). This probably sounds a little strange for someone who enjoys writing fiction, but I really enjoy reading non-fiction. I’ve devoured all of Malcolm Gladwell’s books, and also really enjoyed Entanglement (a book about quantum physics) by Amir Aczel. But I do enjoy fiction and religiously read Carl Hiaasen’s books.

Synopsis from the website:

Kevin Tobin is a relatively ordinary twelve-year-old dealing with the ­aftermath of his father’s death in a mountain biking accident near their home in Boulder, Colorado. To escape from his emotional turmoil, Kevin has ­developed his imagination into a dangerous foil and a powerful ally. While he antagonizes his mother and sister through his superhero antics on an average Wednesday ­morning, his ability to escape inside a character’s head becomes critical to his ­survival after his life is once-again turned upside down a year after his father’s death.

A mysterious package arrives in the mail, Kevin and his best friend are hunted down by a ruthless villain set upon world domination who is determined to ­retrieve the package, and after enlisting Kevin’s teenage sister and her pizza-­delivery boyfriend in a battle for control over time itself, the secret of Kevin’s whole existence is revealed to him by a source we never expected.

My Thoughts:

WOW! pretty much sums up my thoughts on this book.  While geared towards a younger reader, it definitely sucked me in to the story line pretty much right away.  Kevin is an interesting child with a great sense of imagination (which I think some kids lack today).  I find it amusing that he is able to outwit the bad guys by morphing into an alter ego from the cartoons he watches.  The ending had quite a twist that I wasn’t totally expecting.  Part of it I had a feeling would happen but not the rest.  I think that this book would appeal to the middle school child with Kevin’s crazy antics and his wild imagination.  All in all I give it 5 stars and 2 thumbs up.

The Giveaway:

Now for the fun part!  Del sent me a copy of his book to read and review and now I want to give it away to one of my followers.  It is pretty simple, fill out the form below (US residents only) by Sunday, April 1st and I will choose a winner at random and send it out to you.

Comments Off on Review & Giveaway – Kevin’s Point of View by Del Shannon
Posted in Colorado, e-books, fiction, Giveaway, Kindle, mystery, suspense on March 10, 2012

Colleen Collins is a PI by day (so she knows of what she writes!) and is also an award-winning author who’s written 20 novels and anthologies for Harlequin (including a romantic paranormal thriller for Dorchester, writing as Cassandra Collins). Her books have placed first in the Colorado Gold, Romancing the Rockies, and Top of the Peak contests, and placed in the finals for the Holt Medallion, Coeur de Bois Readers Choice, Award of Excellence, More than Magic, and Romance Writers of America RITA contests.

After graduating from the University of California Santa Barbara, Colleen worked as a film production assistant, improv comic, telecommunications manager at the RAND Corporation, technical writer/editor, speech writer, and private investigator. All these experiences play into her writing.

Along with sending me a copy of her book (e-book) she even answered a few questions for my readers!

SBR: How similar is what Rick experiences as a PI to what you do as a PI?

Well, we don’t stumble across dead bodies in our work, fortunately!  However, we have conducted investigations in homicide cases, and for those we follow steps similar to Rick’s: conducting background investigations on witnesses, conducting witness interviews, revisiting/analyzing/documenting the crime scene, reviewing existing discovery, examining forensic evidence.

SBR: What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve always loved reading and writing, but around 1989, I told myself that if I ever wanted to get published I had get serious. I committed to writing every single day until I completed a novel…and I did just that. I’ll be honest, that first novel sucked, but I completed it! After that, I joined writing organizations and critique groups and continued writing…in 1996, I finally sold my first novel, a romantic comedy, to Harlequin.

SBR: Who are some of your favorite authors and what books are on your nightstand?

I have a slew of favorites — from Dean Koontz to Susan Isaacs to Ed McBain. I’m currently a judge for the Private Eye Writers of America’s annual Shamus contest, so there’s a huge stack of private eye novels on my nightstand right now. The one I’m currently reading is The Cut by George Pelecanos.

SBR: Who do you envision playing Rick and Laura?

Great question. I’d want both to have wonderful senses of humor, so I’d pick Ryan Reynolds and Scarlett Johansson if they wouldn’t mind acting together post-divorce 🙂 My husband, the inspiration for Rick, said he should be played by Matthew McConaughey.


Book blurb:

Just as washed-up criminal defense attorney, life-long Deadhead (nickname “The Zen Man”), and current PI Rick Levine decides to get relicensed as a lawyer, he’s charged with killing one and ends up in the slammer with a half-mil bail.

Released on bond, Rick and his girlfriend Laura have 30 days to find the real killer. In the course of their investigations, they dig for dirt among Denver’s shady legal backrooms to its tony corporate centers. Dodging bullets, a kidnapping, trumped-up charges and the FBI’s unwanted intervention, Rick and Laura continue tracking key suspects who have motive…eventually learning that true redemption begins at home.

 My Thoughts:

It has been awhile since I read a book with a male protagonist.  Lately I have been reading romance books or cozy mysteries where the main character is a woman.  This was definitely a nice switch.  I’ll say right off the bat that I did figure out “whodoneit”.  Now it is not because it was fact, I was never 100% sure that it was who I thought because of the many red herrings tossed into the mix.  But it was just something in my gut that said X was the killer. (thought I was going to spoil it didn’t you?!)  There was a great mix of characters and side story lines that just added to the history of Rick and how he got to be who he became in this story.  The story has a good mix of mystery and suspense and even a little humor.  There are many clues that might help you figure it out before the end of the book…depends on if you can decipher them!

All in all I give this story 2 thumbs up and 4 stars.

The Giveaway:

Colleen has been kind enough to offer an e-book copy of her novel.  You can get it in a format for the Kindle or the Nook.  No e-reader? No problem. You can read The Zen Man on your computer, iPhone, iPad and other devices — you can even read it in your Web browser!

She will also send the winner a t-shirt (L or XL).

So sign up today!  This will close on Sunday, March 18th.

Comments Off on Review & Giveaway: The Zen Man by Colleen Collins
Posted in Colorado, romance on December 17, 2009

reasonsDelphi Brent is a self assured young woman who has the opportunity to travel to Colorado for the summer before starting a job in Maine.  However, her parents are not keen on this idea because of an accident nine years previously that left Delphi with a large scar on her leg and the death of a son of long time friends, Robert & Annie Laughlin.  What no one knows is who was driving the car and what really happened….or at least they are not saying.  What Delphi doesn’t expect is to fall in love with one of the Laughlin boys and for her world to turn upside down and will the secrets cause her to lose out on a chance of love and happily ever after.  

I read this book in about 3 days (at night) and could not put it down.  I really enjoyed the wit of Delphi and her reactions to Noreen, the fiancee of Bobby Laughlin, who thinks that Delphi is there to make good on a crush from 11 years ago when she was 15. I liked how she stood up for herself and didn’t let anyone get her down.  However, in the same respect, Delphi didn’t give others a chance to break down the walls around her heart.  That is until several people mentioned to her that Tam Laughlin looks at her like there is no one else in the world.  The power of suggestion!  Despite her reservations, she finds herself enjoying Tam’s company and getting closer to him until it finally ends in a kiss…but what a kiss!

Delphi also makes friends with Dave the vet, who has a secret of his own that surprisingly no one else figures out.

And then there is Bobby, the oldest brother who is engaged to Noreen and is it really for love or to join their ranches?  And is his heavy drinking masking anything else?

This was a very enjoyable read and I highly recommend it!

Posted in Colorado, Cozy, real estate on March 11, 2009

Author – Maggie Sefton
Published – 2005
This may be the only book in this series since the author seems to be focusing on a knitting cozy series. My husband is a real estate broker so I was interested to see how this book would compare to what I see him do on a daily basis.

Kate Doyle is a relatively new real estate agent (they call her a broker but that may be a Colorado term because it doesn’t mean the same thing in Texas) after getting a divorce 3 years prior and needing a new career. One of her friends is getting a divorce (and it doesn’t look like it will be pretty) and she is helping them sell the house. She comes back for some sigatures from the husband and finds him dead in his home office. Not what she was expecting. The most logical suspect is the wife, Amanda, but that is Kate’s friend and she knows that Amanda couldn’t kill her husband. So she sets off to figure out who did it and why.

Let’s just say that I didn’t figure it out until the end when the clues were all put together.

Overall it was a decent book and I could see the interpersonal relationships developing, but I probably wouldn’t look for a 2nd book by this author. But maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Comments Off on Dying to Sell