Reviews

October 4, 2011: A very nice write-up about No Matter Why from E & K Family Book Review. Thanks so much to K, who truly ‘got’ the emotional story I tried to convey. She also was right-on with how the YA crowd might appreciate my debut tale of first love.

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Just finished a free read of Bob Mayer’s Bodyguard of Lies, a great promotional tool from Who Dares Win Publishing, a publishing company in its pilot year. All the author (and WDWP co-founder) asked in return was an honest review of the work. As an aside, for those interested in a less traditional route for publishing non-fiction or backlists of titles, I strongly suggest taking a good look at WDWP’s website and awesome blog. The folks there have an excellent sense of where the publishing market is headed and are there to share their knowledge and experience with anyone and everyone open to the future.

Okay, so I always get sidetracked. Back to Bodyguard of Lies: Here is the story background, directly from WDWP’s website:

Two women become inextricably involved in a dangerous web of lies, intrigue, and betrayal as they fight for their lives and the safety of their country. Neeley is the lover and protégé of Gant, a Cellar operative, and is trying to pick up the pieces of her life after Gant’s death and unveil a mystery that Gant always held close to his chest. Hannah, a housewife, is equally lost after her husband simply disappears. They soon learn that the men in their lives shared a dangerous secret, one some very powerful people would shed blood to protect. Neeley and Hannah’s chance meeting sets a decades-old plan into motion and puts their lives at risk.

They couldn’t come from more different worlds, but as they try to escape the people who seem determined to kill them, Hannah and Neeley discover they have at least one thing in common: they’ve both been living a lie.

In my humble retelling, this suspense novel is about two women, each impacted by the Cellar, the underground organization dedicated to “policing the world’s covert operations…the most secret spy organization hiding deep within the United States.” This Thelma and Louise style story kept me turning the pages, the chemistry between the female characters being my favorite aspect. I also liked the devotion Neely showed to the deceased Gant, the lover and Cellar agent who shaped Neely’s backstory, and the admiration she had no choice but to show to Hannah, the woman with whom circumstance paired Neely.

This book is loaded with plot, some of the best chapter openers and descriptions I’ve come across yet and a few absolutely seamless transitions from flashback to present story world.

  • Chapter 2 began with, “Neely had no idea killing someone could be so boring.”
  • On page 72, Racine “wiped the distaste from his face.”
  • Hannah “weighed what any self-conscious woman of means would weigh,” as told from her point of view.

Via writing that was crisp, clear and to the point, Hannah’s inner dialogue connected me immediately to this character. I would have liked her and Neely’s characters—especially their emotions—explored on a deeper level, but was particularly satisfied with how Hannah was changed by her story circumstances.

This female reader and author of romance initially found all the talk about weapons and ammunition a bit heavy and even a bit confusing. (I may have found it a bit more confusing if I hadn’t been exposed to the subject through attendance at workshops. This brought me back to the thought that all the detail might be a bit much for someone with no exposure at all, but that, of course, is just MHO.) I also found Neely’s POV to be a bit masculine but appropriate, given her backstory and the challenges she faced. My on-all-the-time inner editor also wondered if the POV character would stop to note all the detail the author included. (I must admit, however, when I connected that the author might have first-hand knowledge of many of the historical events referred to throughout the book, my interest was completely caught.) Nero’s backstory—he ran the Cellar—also gave me the feel I’d gotten a true inside view to being a POW and then an “insider” during a war.

I’ll also confess I had some serious problems with this book, all of which I presented directly to the author. I had to stretch credibility quite a bit to make it through to the end, but I liked Hannah and Neely enough to want to know how things turned out. The ending was a bit abrupt and hard to swallow but, now that I’m distanced from it, I can see why the author concluded the way he did. Many questions were left unanswered. Some of them may be answered in Lost Girls, a related account, and one I just may read next.

One thing I especially liked was the serious questions raised about “security,” and how what we perceive it to be may not be necessarily so. Among the book’s themes was: “Nothing is as it seems; trust no one.” Also notable was how recording historical events is necessary in order to not repeat the same mistakes as well as to help shape the present and future. The author’s speculations inspired a variety of possibilities connected to fairly contemporary world events. Since I’m not huge on current events but was familiar with the happenings cited (as in, I knew they’d occurred but didn’t know much beyond that) I became so intrigued I stopped my reading to look up many of them online in order to experience the story better. (If nothing else, I’m a more knowledge person because of Bodyguard of Lies. So who spread that nasty rumor that says fiction doesn’t make you smarter?)

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Friend, colleague and now fan just sent me this via e-mail:

“Joanna Aislinn’s captivating tale, ‘No Matter Why’ draws readers into her characters’lives.  Her gift with words captured the emotions of her characters to the point that I was unable (and unwilling) to put the book down until I finished it. Needless to day, her talent as a writer captured my attention immediately and I spent enjoyable hours reading this wonderful story.

Once you finish it, you will find yourself anxiously awaiting her next book, as I am.

Thank you, Ms. Aislinn”

I thank YOU, Rachel!

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Was cleaning up the inbox and came across this. Okay, so the author is a close and very dear cousin but it moved me just the same. (Had to post it; what can I say? It’s that shameless self-promo-thing on doing what it’s supposed to, right? As an aside, please keep her family in your prayers. They’re going through a very challenging time right now.)

Here’s what she had to say about NO MATTER WHY:

“I just finished your book.  I really enjoyed it.  I can’t remember the last time I read a book.  Really, I am not kidding.  I enjoyed the story very much.  It’s nice to … escape in a storyline.  I was trying to see if any character would remind me of anyone from our past together.  I can’t say for sure.” (Best compliment, right there :)) I am so proud of you. …it was a pleasure to read.”

Thanks, Cugina, for making my day–again!

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On October 14, 2o1o I made my first official posts to Goodreads in the form of MHO. Should you please, feel free to check out my thoughts on Richard Paul Evans’ brand-new release PROMISE ME as well as Laura Hogg’s time-travel romance, ROMEO VS. JULIET.

Find them both here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/4365762?shelf=read&view=reviews and please feel free to share YHO with me.

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"The Reading Reviewer" - Mary Gramlich

On September 16, 2010, Mary Gramlich (aka, The Reading Reviewer), shared these very sweet thoughts about  NO MATTER WHY

“A chaste love story can be told and remain interesting.

What a fascinating book with truly well written characters.  It is a very chaste relationship but with the angle of first, young love and learning to find yourself when you have so much baggage at such a young age; this is the type of relationship that should be written about Billy Jay and Carrie.  I think the push and pull of the relationship was developed slowly and with great thought about how people deal with everything life throws at you and still have faith.”    The rest of Mary’s introspections are here–thanks so much, Mary!

And a big ol’ ‘THANK YOU’ to Toni Sweeney over at Icy Snow Blackstone for her very kind review of NO MATTER WHY! Always greatly appreciated!

“This is a sweet, inspirational story and one I enjoyed.  Billy Jay is a very likable character.  Smart, sexy, he’s good-looking and seems to know it but he isn’t conceited about his appeal and doesn’t use it to his advantage.  He’s a gentleman, never urging Carrie into any untoward behavior, but he’s also determined… ”  It gets better: just click on Book Review at the top then scroll down to September 10, 2010  for the rest of the review! 🙂

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High school teacher, friend and colleague Jenn was kind enough to purchase NO MATTER WHY over the summer. Here’s what she had to say:

“I loved the book!!! What a sweet and exciting story. You did a wonderful job. Thank you for sending it to me. Can’t wait for the next one.”

Thanks so much, Jenn. I’ll keep you posted on that next one!

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Over at Classic Romance Revival, S. Murray had some wonderful things to say about NO MATTER WHY, including:

Joanna Aislinn’s No Matter Why was a nice, quick read with an enjoyable hero, interesting minor characters, and a “what if” plot that addresses what happens when two sides of the coin try to merge. Aislinn’s light, easy style makes this one a good summer reading choice.

Click here to read the rest of her very kind review!

Thanks so much to you and all the great folks at Classic Romance Revival and to Judah Raine for founding the group!

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and Camellia wrote:

The emotional journey of Carrie and Billy Jay is a compelling story of love finding its way passed many obstacles to prove LOVE is the greatest.  Click here to read the full article!

Thanks Camellia and the rest of the crowd at LASR!
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Here’s what Michele, mother of a fifth grader like myself had to say via e-mail about NO MATTER WHY :

Finished it~ LOVED IT!!!
and I SWEAR I’m not just ‘saying that’!! (We’re familiar with each other from school but Michele knew nothing of my writing prior to picking up my book at a fundraiser event.)
What a great read! Billy Jay~ mmmmmm, what more is there to say ;o)
You had to have heard that a million times!  (Not yet, but one can hope :)!)
What a pleasure to read, really!.  All the characters were believable & enjoyable.  Better yet, all your descriptions (places, appearances, feelings…) put me ‘there’.  Thanks for sharing your story (especially Billy Jay) with the rest of us.
Keep in touch & definitely let me know if you have any new stories :O)
Thanks so much, Michele!  You certainbly made my day!

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Here’s what Bea Smith at The Local Source (my local county paper, 04/14/2010) had to say about No Matter Why!

“For those who find enchantment in a simple, romantic novel, readers will want to read No Matter Why by Joanna Aislinn.

Aislinn’s debut novel, which can enable her public to go through the various emotions of love, happiness, sadness, disappointments, disillusionment and reprieve, is well written. The author is…familiar with the intricacies of the human heart.”

Bea went on to say: “Aislinn knows how to write about characters, how to make them realistic and complicated–and normal. The story she tells is an intriguing one. There’s no question that No Matter Why reaches out to the emotions of its readers. …This entertaining book has found its place on the shelf of this reviewer’s romantic, sometimes heartbreaking, novels.”

Ms. Smith certainly made this author very happy today!

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Here’s what my newest friend and fellow Wild Rose author, Christine Clemetson (A Daughter’s Promise, www.christineclemetson.com)  had to say about No Matter Why! Thanks, Christine! You made my day!

Let me just start by saying I loved it! It was such a sweet story and the characters of Carrie and Billy Jay are so likeable..I felt as if I really knew them, and cared about them, by the end of the story. I also thought you built up the tension well..I felt the sadness at her tragic losses and coming to grips with how she can open herself up to love again. I liked how you used her aunt and friend to help open things up for her so she can realize what she was missing with Billy Jay at the black moment..so nicely done. I loved the bench in the garden-type area…I felt it became the central “spot” of the story, and represented their true feelings for each other —and then I realized that’s the Cover!!! Beautiful!!

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A page turner.

Lovely in every sense of the word.

Serene Moneto. Miles Coulson. WWII Rome, 1944.

Italian girl discovers gravely injured American soldier and immediately sets out to rescue him from the Germans. Within minutes he saves her from the unwanted attentions of the enemy.

And so begins A Daughter’s Promise (The Wild Rose Press), a positively enthralling debut written by my newest author friend, Christine Clemetson. Emotion-driven and beautiful beyond many I’ve read, the connection between Miles and Serene is palpable the instant their fingers brush that first time.

Read and excerpt–you’ll be glad you did!

Yes, I loved this book. I could truly relate to Serene, the all-Italian girl raised to honor her father’s wishes and to care–no matter what the cost to her, even a lifetime of joy with the man she adores–for the family her parents unwillingly left behind in the wakes of their deaths. Miles is the every bit the All-American hero, the one every girl imagines she’ll nurse back to health and love beyond reason, only to be loved that way in return.

Christine weaves a hypnotic tale, one I had to make myself put down in order to do those pesky things one has to do. Of course the guy gets his girl and the girl gets her hero—this is a romance, for heaven’s sake. It’s HOW Christine grabbed me immediately, with only a handful of paragraphs before even the title page. This couple’s journey is one of selflessness, a tale of love at its most pure.  Effortlessly she transported me into Serene and Miles’ world, made me root for her immediately and fall in love with him instantly, care for them as if they were dear friends caught in life’s greatest turmoil. (Sent this author’s inner editor on hiatus for the duration of the novel, no small feat–I promise!) This is one title whose praises I’ll sing again and again. Chances are, I’ll read it again, too.

Joanna

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The first one is in and the rave is more than I’d hoped for!!!
Check it out at:

http://www.nightowlreviews.com/nightowlromance/reviews/Review.aspx?daoid=5759

then let me know what you think!!

AND over at Amazon.com… here’s what Trisha had to say:

A unique story of a tragically orphaned young girl who comes back to face her past and put together the pieces of her heart and in the process filling the void in others. This story begs a sequel! Joanna introduces you to a love story that is fresh and exciting. This story is the perfect weekender novel and is highly recommended for adults and young adults alike. The characters drive up emotion after emotion with passion and unfaltering committment. I just couldn’t put it down!

http://www.amazon.com/No-Matter-Why-Joanna-Aislinn/product-reviews/1601546092/ref=sr_1_2_cm_cr_acr_pop_hist_all?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

Thanks, Trisha!

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