Friday, November 30, 2012

4 Feel Real Fantasy Blog Tour


Today’s stop on the Feel Real Fantasy blog tour celebrating the completion of the Rys Rising series by Tracy Falbe presents an excerpt from the third novel New Religion: Rys Rising Book III.

In this scene Cruce Chenomet has just suffered a humiliating political loss when he tried unsuccessfully to take charge of the militia during the crisis of an invasion. The new Militia Master comes to confront him…

Tucking his helmet under his arm, Cruce went downstairs. His back was straight again. His self pity was on a shelf, but it was not only ambition that braced him in this dark time. He was needed, genuinely needed. The invaders were said to have gone north, and the people living in that region needed defense.
Through the window he saw a cadre of Kahtepian militiamen. Cruce frowned, suspicious of their errand.
He opened his front door and saw Leifer mounting the steps, alone. His honor guard remained in the saddle.
Cruce crossed his arms and greeted his new master with a disgruntled frown.
“I would talk to you, Commander Chenomet,” Leifer said.
Without inviting him in, Cruce said, “Then talk.”
The Kahtepian appraised Cruce carefully. He knew the Kwellstan commander to be hot tempered. Leifer hoped he could artfully assert his authority and mend the obvious antagonism of his rival.
“Bellastan Carver’s funeral will be at sunset. We be cremating him in the main square,” Leifer informed him.
“I’ll come,” Cruce said, and his hostile gaze urged Leifer to get off his porch.
The Kahtepian narrowed his eyes but managed to tame his tongue. “Look, Chenomet, your bitterness be easy to see, but we have to pull together for Nufal—”
Cruce cut him off and asked him to tell his brilliant plan for defeating the invaders.
“You know we be waiting for the Daykash,” Leifer said.
“So we don’t do a thing until the Nebakarz say so?” Cruce asked.
“Great Divinity, man, you know we need them. You say so yourself,” Leifer said hotly.
“That’s when I thought they would help me,” Cruce muttered and felt the cold spreading roots of his sprouting faithlessness.
“Be sensible. Did you consider that the Nebakarz decided it might be too disrupting to the militia not to have a Kahtepian leader?” Leifer challenged.
“We’ll see if they were right about that,” Cruce said.
Riled, Leifer told him he would not tolerate Cruce’s pouting and insubordination, but Cruce interrupted him. “Leifer, if you want my cooperation, you have to give me a free rein, as Carver did. He appreciated the contributions I made. I won’t be made impotent by your friend Charl Jadun.”
“I’m here talking to you,” Leifer pointed out. “What do you want?”
The question disarmed Cruce a little and made him realize that he was being destructively difficult. His pride budged and he stepped aside. “Come in,” he said.
When he closed the door, he faced the new Militia Master and declared, “I want to take my men north to pursue the invaders and defend the settlements.”
Leifer was aghast. “You can’t! We barely be having a chance since you arrived to reinforce us if the invaders come back,” he argued.
“But what about those people? They have no chance,” Cruce said.
Leifer exhaled sympathetically. Abandoning so many tortured him, but he had to be practical. “When the Daykash arrives, we’ll be getting something worked out with the tabre. We can at least set ourselves to reclaiming the Burlip watchpost. No man has reported from there. We’ll head that far as soon as the tabre be ready,” he offered.
Cruce slapped a fist against a wall and leaned there, trying to think. He knew they needed tabre help. Surely the Daykash would pursue the invaders, but when? The Burlip watchpost was only a morning’s ride away. Surely they could go check it now. From there they could at least survey the northern plains.
Guessing the direction of Cruce’s thoughts, Leifer gently said, “I know you’ve put a lot into that little charity project of yours in Upella, but you not be the only man invested on the frontier.”
“Then let’s go defend it!” Cruce cried, facing the Militia Master again.
“There not be enough of us!” Leifer shouted, finally losing his temper and gesturing broadly with his hands. “We have to defend Kahtep. We need your Kwellstan fighters here with us. I be the Militia Master and I say so, and it’s what the people of Kahtep want!”
Cruce countered, “The people of Kahtep would prefer we defended them before the invaders return to their doorsteps! They’ve gone north. I say we pursue them and punish them before they come back.”
“You don’t know what you be talking about, Chenomet. We already tried to stop them outside the city and lost. We’re pinned till the Daykash be helping us. Now if you be stepping one toe out of this city without my leave, I be having you locked in chains. Not the first time for you, you crazy boat-ridin’ bastard,” Leifer declared, glad to have the threat finally out.
“Lock me up now,” Cruce dared and pushed him in the shoulder. Taken by surprise, Leifer stumbled back a couple steps, but he caught himself and came at Cruce with a furious fist. Cruce blocked it easily and shoved Leifer away again.
“You’re not the first Militia Master I’ve had it out with,” Cruce said.
Leifer willfully checked his temper. With clear contempt he reminded Cruce that the only thing that restrained him at that moment was the need to keep the militias united because of the dire need. Leifer continued, “I be forgiving this indiscretion, Chenomet, but you disobey me and you’re done. We don’t need you.”
Cruce yanked open the front door. “I’ll keep that in mind,” he said.

Tracy Falbe invites you to give her characters a chance to feel real to you. The Rys Rising fantasy series is driven by magic, passion, bravery, ambition, conquest, and defeat. Rys Rising: Book I is a free ebook and hopefully your gateway to an epic reading experience.

Start reading Rys Rising for free and enter the prize drawing. http://falbepublishing.com/braveluck/feel-real-fantasy-blog-tour.html

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0 Cover Reveal: The Summer I Became A Nerd


About the book: On the outside, seventeen-year-old Madelyne Summers looks like your typical blond cheerleader—perky, popular, and dating the star quarterback. But inside, Maddie spends more time agonizing over what will happen in the next issue of her favorite comic book than planning pep rallies with her squad. That she’s a nerd hiding in a popular girl's body isn’t just unknown, it's anti-known. And she needs to keep it that way.
Summer is the only time Maddie lets her real self out to play, but when she slips up and the adorkable guy behind the local comic shop’s counter uncovers her secret, she’s busted. Before she can shake a pom-pom, Maddie’s whisked into Logan’s world of comic conventions, live-action role-playing, and first-person-shooter video games. And she loves it. But the more she denies who she really is, the deeper her lies become…and the more she risks losing Logan forever.


Add it to your Goodreads shelf - http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14744489-the-summer-i-became-a-nerd

About the Author: Born and raised in northern Louisiana, Leah Rae Miller still lives there on a windy hill with her husband and kids. She loves comic books, lava lamps, fuzzy socks, and Cherry Coke. She spends most of her days reading things she likes and writing things she hopes other people will like.
Twitter - https://twitter.com/LeahR_Miller
Website/Blog - http://leahraemillerblog.blogspot.com/

Thursday, November 29, 2012

2 Review: Click: An Online Love Story by Lisa Becker

Title: Click: An Online Love Story
Author: Lisa Becker
Published: March 29, 2011
ebook
ASIN: B004UI6IJ0
Genre: ContempoarayRomance
Source: Author




Goodreads Summary:
Fast approaching her 30th birthday and finding herself not married, not dating, and without even a prospect or a house full of cats, Renee Greene, the heroine of Click: An Online Love Story, reluctantly joins her best guy pal on a journey to find love online in Los Angeles. The story unfolds through a series of emails between Renee and her best friends (anal-compulsive Mark, the overly-judgmental Ashley and the over-sexed Shelley) as well as the gentlemen suitors she meets online. From the guy who starts every story with "My buddies and I were out drinking one night," to the egotistical "B" celebrity looking for someone to stroke his ego, Renee endures her share of hilarious and heinous cyber dates. Fraught with BCC's, FWD's and inadvertent Reply to All's, readers will root for Renee to "click" with the right man.

My thoughts:
Click: On Online Love Story by Lisa Becker is the first book I've read in email form. That's right, the whole book in an exchange of emails between friends. I thought this a unique way of telling a story. For the most part I liked it, but I did miss those little details in stories that don't quite come across in emails. However I think Becker did a great job of pulling off an entertaining story line.
Renee Green is about to turn 30. She makes a pact with her friend Mark to try online dating. As you can guess Renee gets quite a few interesting responses. Renee mainly communicates with her three best friends, Mark, Shelley, and Ashley. They all have very distinct personalities, and at times they reminded me a bit of Sex and the City. The book basically follows Renee on her quest to find Mr. Right. It's full of humor, romance, and perhaps a cautionary tale of online dating.
I enjoyed reading this book. I read it during a period where I needed to read something light-hearted and fun, and it was just the right fit.

My rating:


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

0 Q&A with E.M. Tippets + Give@way




1. Please tell us about Castles in the Sand?
Madison Lukas has never been loved, not even by her own mother, so she doesn't know how to love herself. When her long lost older brother finds her, she doesn't understand why he's so bossy. He wants her to have better friends and ditch her boyfriend. Only after several trials does she figure out that her big brother believes she deserves better, and once she raises her standards, she's amazed to learn that he's right.

2. Was Madison Lukas a hard character to write?why?
Yes, she was very hard for the first half of the book because she is very passive. She doesn't act much, so it was a challenge to move the story along without any help from her. She becomes more active in the last half.

3. What do you hope to say to people with your writing?
I just want to entertain, really. Statements are for essays, reports, and articles. I tell stories.

4. What else are you working on?
Right now I'm writing the sequel to Castles on the Sand, which will be called Personal Demons. It picks up right when Madison's boyfriend leaves on a two year mission for the LDS Church and breaks up with her, and this book will be told from the guy's point of view.

5. Do you have a favorite place to write?
I don't have that luxury. If I got picky about where I wrote, I'd never write. I'm a full time mommy with a working husband, so I just have to find a way to write wherever and whenever I have a spare moment.

6. What's your favorite book?
Far too many to name! I tend to prefer young adult to adult titles. I prefer the pacing. Grown up books can really drag along for me.

7. Who inspires you?
Real heroes, who often don't get their names written in lights. The main character in Personal Demons is a respite care worker - which means he looks after children and adults with special needs while their families get a rest. I don't think a lot of people realize how much some families have to sacrifice to look after someone with a disability, or how little help they get sometimes. Whenever I hear someone complaining about not having enough for retirement, I think of all the people I know who won't get a retirement. They'll be a full time caregiver for the rest of their lives.

8. What do you do when you're not writing?
Play with my two toddler sons and sleep. I also conduct interviews for BlackGate.com and blog now and then.

9. Coffee or Tea?
I'm a Mormon, so neither! Before I joined the Church, it was coffee.

10. What's your favorite Christmas song?
Joy to the World, it's upbeat and easy to sing - and I like that because it means everyone around me sings it and drowns me out :-)

About the author:
Emily Mah Tippetts writes romance as E.M. Tippetts and science fiction and fantasy as Emily Mah. Originally from New Mexico, she now lives in London with her family. To learn more about her, please visit her website: emtippetts.com







*Giveaway*
E.M. Tippetts is giving away a copy of her book, Castles on the Sand to one lucky reader. The winner will get to choose between an ebook or paperback. You must be at least 13 years old to enter. Giveaway is open internationally. Good Luck! 

About the book: Madison Lukas knows her place in the world. She’s not pretty, not interesting, and therefore easy to forget.
John Britton is serving his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and has been praying for fifteen years to find the sister he lost in his parents’ divorce. She is beautiful, talented, and makes kindness a fine art.
When John and Madison cross paths, he recognizes her at once, but Madison is certain that he’s got it all wrong. Even if she is his long-lost sister, she can’t possibly be the exceptional, amazing girl he thinks she is, can she?

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

1 Guest Post: How Big Are Your Cohones?



How Big Are Your Cohones?
by: Dodge Winston

A bold question for a bold, brave new world. But really, how big are your cohones? What would you be willing to do to set things right? And how big of a problem would it have to be for you to stick your neck out on the line… or even your cohones?!
There’s a lot of issues out there in this divided country. There are arguments over everything from race, sexual identity, God, and how much we should pay in taxes. It’s no wonder that we are in debt. Shopping seems to be the only thing we do well today. Oh… actually we scuffle the hardest on Black Friday so I guess we can’t claim the shopping title either.
The point is that our spine, our neck, our courage… our cohones are being sacrificed under the suffocating blanket of division and too many issues. That, my fellow reader, is where Drake Eldorado steps in.
I wrote the Drake Eldorado books to address an issue in a fictional, horrific way. The issue is globalization and what that may entail when coming from a paranormal perspective. I mean really, what’s more terrifying than a global government being fused together under lies, deception, and murder by the hand of the dark side? It doesn’t get scarier than that. And Drake has huge cohones! He’s more than willing to lay those big boys on the anvil of brutality so humanity can be freed to make its own world.
If Drake has the ability to address his own personal issues, to dig deep into his own psyche and clean house as well as go after the demons of the industry in order to free mankind’s mind from the manufactured reality that has been placed over our five senses then what about you? What are you willing to fight for and what would it take to get you from here to there?
I like looking at things in a big picture kind of way as opposed to slivers and pieces. It’s my intuitive sense that has seemingly been more reliable than media-branded fact that steers me upon an uncommon path. And I can find no better way to share that than with writing. Horror, paranormal, and the supernatural genres are the perfect vehicle for Drake Eldorado and the mirroring of reality today via the power of fiction. It’s the questions asked, the lessons learned, and the debates ignited from those who identify with fictional scenarios that lends creativity to real change in the real world. But be aware. You just might get your cohones smashed! Are you willing and able?


Author Bio:
Dodge Winston was born in Oakland, CA in 1970. He attended Napa Valley College and Solano Community College accumulating 70 units then the desire to write full-time struck. Placing the pursuit of a higher education on the back burner, he wrote voraciously, knocking out screenplays, teleplays, treatments, news articles, and other works.
Some of the things he enjoys are anime, graphic novels, mixed martial arts (MMA), well-made movies (Sin City, 300, Lord of the Rings trilogy, Star Wars saga), unique authors (Robert E. Howard, Karl Edward Wagner, James Patterson), topics related to globalization (Jeremy Rifkin, Jagdish Bhagwati) and anti-globalization too. He is a creator at heart, an information junky and someone who thoroughly enjoys fiction and how it can mirror reality.
Dodge is married, has two children, is considering getting a dog for the family, and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can find Dodge in one of three places - rehabbing the family house (room by room), supervising at the water quality control plant or taking advantage of slivers of writing time when all is quiet.

Check out Dodge Winston’s website and books:
http://www.dodgewinston.com/
http://www.dodgewinston.com/blog/
http://www.amazon.com/Dodge-Winston/e/B004SFCILW/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1




1 Guest Post: Always Steal From The Best


Always Steal From the Best
Lev AC Rosen

It’s a question I get a lot, although the phrasing ranges from the polite “what inspired you to write a steampunk novel based on both Wilde and Shakespeare?” to the probably more honest “what the hell made you think you could pull that off?”  I’ll admit, it seems a little insane.  Two plays from completely different eras used to inspire a novel which, while historical, is also complete techno-fantasy.

The short answer I give, no matter how the question is asked, is “I figured if I was going to steal, it should be from the best.”  This answer is good for cocktail parties (or signings, which would very often include cocktail parties), but probably needs to be unpacked a little for this post. (And, just to be clear, this isn’t a mash-up; there are a few quotes, but 99% of the writing is my own).

I have a few things I feel comfortable with in my writing: I think I can create a good cast and setting, and my language is usually pretty strong, but when it comes to plot, I sometimes just sit there and stare at the screen.  I love creating people and worlds; love it, all their backstory (of both people and worlds), how they came to be the way they are – I genuinely could spend hundreds of pages just describing these people, and the world.  But when it comes to giving them an overarching story – something to really do – I often feel at a loss.  I knew when I set out to write All Men of Genius that I wanted it to be funny.  And I knew I needed to grab that plot from somewhere.  So, as I’d studied a lot of theatre in college, I went to Wilde first.  He was of the time period, and I’d read all of his plays several times over, written papers on them, read a few of his biographies.  People even said I looked like him (back when I had longer hair).  Wilde was easy.  But The Importance of Being Earnest, while brilliant, is a social play, a drawing room farce used to poke fun at society.  What happens in it is just a dance of relationships; there’s confusion, but no real fighting, nothing I could build up on it’s own into the sort of adventure I wanted.  So next I turned to the master.  I thought to myself, “Shakespeare pretty much took All The Plots and made a play from each of them.  He’s the archetype, the way to go.”  And I’ve always loved Twelfth Night.  It gave me something to latch onto: the girl dressed as a boy somewhere she wasn’t supposed to be, intrigue, the comedic villain who I could easily turn more sinister.

It all fell together in a sudden snap, and I knew exactly what my plot was going to be.  I knew how I’d piece together both the plays; I’d use the report of a false death from Earnest, and the false love notes from Twelfth Night.  I’d use this scene and that one.  And because both plays hinged so centrally on identity, they blended excellently.  So excellently, in fact, that I began to build on them; I threw in blackmail, killer robots, and swearing rabbits.  It came together so naturally that I didn’t even think about how odd or ambitious the idea was until someone asked me what I was working on, and when I told them, said “where in God’s name did you get that idea?” I didn’t really have an answer because it all seemed to come so organically from my mind.  So I said, “I figured I’d steal from the best.”  And they laughed and told me I was crazy.  They were undoubtedly right.  But I still think what I’ve done must be a good idea, because it all came together so easily.  And the best part is hearing from people who’ve never read or seen either play, who still love the book, and who then go out to see the plays.  That’s really cool.

But as to the inspiration, I’m sticking with my short answer: I always steal from the best.

0 Audio Book Review: Rise of the Guardians

Title: Rise of the Guardians Movie Novelization
Author: Stacia Deutsch
Read by Keith Nobbs
Published: Oct. 2, 2012
Published by: Simon and Schuster Audio
Length: Approx. 2 hours
Genre: childrens, fantasy
ISBN: 978-1-4423-5950-5
Source: Publisher


Goodreads summary:
Join forces with the Guardians to defeat Pitch in this retelling of the animated feature Rise of the Guardians.When Pitch, the boogeyman, decides that children should believe in him and not the Guardians, he adds a little fear to their dreams, turning them into nightmares. If children around the world are afraid, there will be no more room for hope. The Guardians must band together to stop him. But in order to do so they need a little help from an unlikely source: Jack Frost. Jack loves to have fun, but he’s not usually one for heroics. Will Jack find the hero within him before Pitch can carry out his master plan?

My thoughts:
If you've watched television at all in the past month, chances are you have heard about the movie Rise of the Guardians. It's a children's film about all the well-known holiday characters such as, Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Sandman, Jack Frost, and The Boogeyman aka Pitch. The human world is threatened by nightmares and only the Guardians can save it. Jack Frost doesn't have any memory of where he came from. When trouble arises, the Guradians call on Jack for help. Jack isn't so sure he wants to help anyone. Especially people who might ruin all his winter-time shenanigans. However the Guardians have another problem besides Pitch. The children of the world are slowly becoming unbelievers of the holiday heroes they once held so high.
This is a cute story for kids. The author of this story really puts a twist on these characters. Santa is Russian, Easter Bunny is from the Outback, and the Tooth Fairy is a little eccentric. I really liked the little changes. I think it makes The Rise of the Guardians stand out from other holiday movies of the past. The narrator did an okay job with the accents and personalities of each character. I wasn't overly impressed, but I believe kids will enjoy listening to this audio book, even if they didn't see the movie. It has the perfect blend of humor and drama while incorporating the message to believe in yourself. It also has the basic 'good verses evil' theme too. I think kids of all ages will enjoy this, but especially kids between the ages of 4-10, The audio book is approximately two hours long, so it's a great length for the younger crowd.

*Update* I let me kids listen to this after I did. They absolutely loved it!

My rating:



Monday, November 26, 2012

0 Cover Reveal: Shadow of Time



Paperback, 400 pages
Expected publication: January 1st 2013 
ISBN 1480242233 (ISBN13: 9781480242234)


Goodreads Summary:

All Hannah needs is a nice and quiet vacation after her first year of teaching French at a high school. She joins her brother Ben for the summer in their mom’s log cabin in Arizona. There, she meets Josh again, Ben’s childhood friend from the Navajo reservation. The little boy from the rez has grown up fast, and Hannah can’t help but feeling more for him than just friendship.

But fate apparently has something else in store for her. And it’s not peace and quiet. Night after night, Hannah is plagued by strange nightmares about the past of Navajo Nation and terrifying shadows chasing her. They seem to come closer – and why is Josh always present in her dreams?

Sometimes, the past has a way of catching up with you.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

2 Giveaway: Scarlet Woods by Brooke Passmore

Thanks to Brooke Passmore I have FOUR e- opies of Scarlet Woods to giveaway to my readers. The ecopies are available in epub. and .mobi formats, so it will work for both Kindle and Nook. This giveaway is open internationally. You must be at least 13 years old to enter. Good luck!

 Past, future, and love all exist in the door through time.

Modern and independent seventeen year old Morgan Westbrook thought she had seen all there was to her home town of Scarlet, Georgia, but one day while walking in the woods behind her house she discovers a mysterious door masked behind the trees. After admiring the door’s timeless beauty she walks through its entrance to venture into more woods, but what she doesn’t know is that the door is a gateway through time that takes her back to the year 1863 during the days of the Civil War in Scarlet.

Without knowing that she had traveled back in time, she stumbles upon Danny Carson, an attractive young man who is appalled to see that Morgan is wearing skimpy modern clothes instead of a nineteenth century dress. Although they find each other completely different than anyone they’ve ever known, they cannot help but feel drawn to one another. After spending time in another century, she discovers that she's time traveled back to the year 1863 and that the door took her there. For months she and Danny journey back and forth through the door to experience the joys of traveling to both of their centuries. When dilemmas of unwanted marriage, slavery, and war are thrown at them, they must face the perils that time travel has delivered them in both the future and the past.

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Friday, November 23, 2012

1 Review: Big Frog


Title: Big Frog
Author: Rob Badcock
Publisher: Book Guild Publishing
Published: June 30, 2011
paperback, 345
ISBN: 978-1-84624-832-0
Genre: Fantasy, Dystopia





Summary:
The environment has gone crazy and most of the human race has escaped to a new planet billions of miles away.  The ones who have stayed live in vast domed cities that tower above the ruins of the old ones.  Outside the citidomes lie the dangers of a treacherous rain forest, giant elephants, and ruthless bounty hunters.
Rib Miskitoe, at fourteen, had run away from Milton Keyes Citidome where he was a student of Nanazoomology.  He now works on a lottery till.  One day he tells an old woman her lottery ticket was not a winner, but, in fact, it was.  He takes the $250 million winning ticket, gets it cashed, (with the help of his friend Kaddie) and becomes a fugitive on the run with a price on his head.
With the money in hand and a set of instructions that baffle him, the adventure begins.

My thoughts:

Rib, although gullible at times, is a spunky inquisitive fourteen year old full of curiosity.  He is a thief with a conscience, a likable character and a friend to all he meets.
I liked how this book wound  my imagination up and let it loose as Rib traversed the rain forest and Middlemead on his way back home and to his mother.
Sometimes I got lost on this journey, but with a turn of the page I was back on track with Rib by my side.
Loving anything British, this book took me on a rollicking ride through a futuristic Britain.

My rating:


Thursday, November 22, 2012

1 Happy Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving 
I wish you all a joyous and wonderful Thanksgiving. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

0 All Eyes On Jeremiah


ALL EYES ON JEREMIAH

In The Care and Feeding of a Villain, I spent some time talking about the Angeu, a personification of Death that plays a major role in KING OF THE DEAD, the second book in the Jeremiah Hunt Chronicle, coming in hardcover from Tor Books on Nov 27th.  Today I’d like to spend some time talking about the Angeu’s nemesis, the hero (or anti-hero is it were) of our story, Jeremiah Hunt himself.
Urban fantasy is rife with strong female characters who kick ass and take names, from Lilith Saintcrow’s Jill Kismet to Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock, from Jennifer Estep’s Gin Blanco to Kelly Gay’s Charlie Madigan.  They are powerful role-models and intriguing characters, the kind of people it would be interesting to hang out with for an evening.
But when I sat down to write what would eventually become the Jeremiah Hunt Chronicle, I deliberately wanted to stay away from that archetype.  I wanted a male rather than a female one.    A darker, perhaps even tragic figure, who isn’t all that likeable.  An anti-hero, if you will, who captures the audience’s attention just as well as the heroines mentioned above.
Enter Jeremiah Hunt.  A former professor of ancient languages at Harvard University, Hunt had it all – a lovely wife, a good job, a beautiful child – only to lose everything in the wake of the tragic disappearance of his daughter, Elizabeth.  His search for her takes him down deeper, darker paths until at last he meets the Preacher and undergoes a mystical ritual designed to trade his eye sight in order to allow him to see the unseen.  Faustian bargains being what they are, Hunt does not gain the ability to see his daughter, as he had hoped, but rather the ghosts and other supernatural creatures that co-exist with normal society.
When we first meet Hunt in the pages of EYES TO SEE, he is an angry, anti-social figure who exists on the edges of society, getting by with odd jobs here and there helping the police department with unusual cases while fervently searching for his lost little girl.  We get to meet not only his ghostly companions, Whisper and Scream, but also his new allies, the hedge witch, Denise Clearwater, and the berserker, Dmitri Alexandrov.  We slowly see the influence of those around him pull him back from the brink.
In KING OF THE DEAD, however, we get to spend some time with a new Hunt.  He’s still rough around the edges - a little too self-centered, a bit too sarcastic and blunt – but his dependence on his newfound friends is gradually bringing him back into the land of the living, so to speak, and he will be forced to learn new skills in order to survive what’s coming.
I hope you find Jeremiah as intriguing an individual as I did.

0 Review: Darwin, Singer


Title: Darwin, Singer
Author: Nadria Tucker
Publisher: Sixteenth Avenue Books
Published: March 28, 2012
Paperback, 196 pages
ISBN: 978-0-984-9013-1-9
Genre: Dystopia
Source: Author



Goodreads Summary:

Darwin is a singer, and music is illegal. Real music, anyway.
The Wagner Initiative bans the practice of all non-educational forms of art. Darwin has worked for these jerks her whole life, singing about crosswalk safety and body odor, living with the WI's strict code of morality (no art for art's sake, no flashy clothes, and no massive rainbow-colored sock collections like the one hidden in Darwin's closet).
When she finds out the WI may have had a hand in her father's death, Darwin starts asking questions. She explores the Private Library's dusty basement archives. She discovers rock and roll. She meets Brax, a handsome (if you like the rebellious type) double agent whose recurring disappearances give no clue whether his loyalty lies with the state or the resistance. Brax gives Darwin a media drive filled with illegal music. No bigger than a stick of gum, it's the most dangerous thing Darwin's ever touched. And once she presses play, she refuses to stop listening.
In this young adult dystopian novel, author Nadria Tucker tells the story of Darwin, who moves through the underground, a network of basements, artists, and rebels prepared to fight‑violently if necessary‑for the freedom to sing, dance, write, juggle, or do whatever else lies in their hearts


My thoughts:
Darwin, Singer is a dystopian novel set in a very real possible future, where all art forms are regulated by the Wagner Initiative. Under the WI, all art that is not educational in value is banned. Darwin is a singer. She sings jingles about proper hygiene and crosswalk safety for the WI. Then she meets Brax and he gives her a media drive filled with illegal music. She is hooked, and her life will never be the same.
I really like this story. It presents a very plausible future where obscenity laws and censorship dictate the kind of art that is produced to the detriment of art itself. Gone is any true form of expression, replaced with educational material only. But art lives on in the underground, back-alley places, unseen by the WI. I love this underground network.  The people of the underground are eclectic and diverse.
The style of writing is easy to read, and the storytelling compelling. The characters are well developed and the chemistry between them is good. The main character, Darwin is one of my favorites. She is a strong face for their movement and very passionate about the music. Even before she knows about the underground, she is a rebel with her collection of brightly colored socks. The other characters add a wealth of depth, passion, and humor to the story.
This was an exciting, interesting read from the beginning. It had me from the opening line of Part 1. “One day, about thirteen years ago, an employee followed an order.” I look forward to reading more from Nadria Tucker and would like to see a continuation of Darwin’s story. I would highly recommend this book.

My rating:


Monday, November 19, 2012

1 Review: The Hidden Blessing by Melissa Buell

Title: The Hidden Blessing (Tales of Gymandrol #2)
Author: Melissa Buell
Publisher: The Little Things Publishing Company
Published: November 2012
ebook, arc
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tales
Source: Author




Goodreads Summary:

How do you test for happily ever after?
Nine years ago, Emma became orphaned as a result of the Zynachnean-Mittra War. Although her memories are gone and she has no idea who she is or where she came from, she’s kindly adopted by a fairy and raised in the small village of Weymouth.
Now eighteen, Emma has come to love the life she’s made with her fairy mother. But tragedy strikes Emma’s home just as Prince Will and his sister, Princess Allessia, travel incognito through Weymouth on their way to Mittra. Allessia offers to hire Emma as her lady’s maid, despite Will’s reluctance.
Can Emma discover the truth about her past and attempt to plan her future while navigating the stormy waters of courtly intrigue?

My thoughts:
The Hidden Blessing is the second book in the Tales of Gymandrol. If you haven't read the first book, The Seventh Blessing, don't worry, you'll be able to follow the story without any problems. The Hidden Blessing follows the story of Emma, who is the child of Queen Samantha and Prince Nolan. When Emma was a little girl she was stolen away from her parents. She's brought up by a kind lady, whom she calls Grammie. Despite a troubled past that she can't remember, Emma grows up happy and healthy. It is only when she is nineteen that her world turns upside down. She meets Prince Will and his sister, Princess Allessia. Emma and Ellissa are instant friends. Emma soon travels with them to Mittra, where her destiny awaits.
Emma is kind, inquisitive, and brave. She travels with Will and Allessia with no preconceived expectations.  She does her best to try to fit in, be a hard worker, and bring peace around her. Rumors that the lost princess is still alive reach the Queen's ears, and Emma helps to develop a test to help uncover the real princess. She doesn't realize that in the process she's also uncovering her past. This story is great. I really liked the first book, The Seventh Blessing, so I was excited to get the opportunity to read the next book in the Tales of Gymandrol. The Hidden Blessing did not disappoint. I love that Melissa Buell gives her characters integrity, morals, and strength. The story line is interesting and entertaining. It's a tale for the young and old. This story is clean-cut, so it's perfect for the younger (middle grade) audiences. The Tales of Gymandrol is a book that I recommend for people who love fairy tales.

My rating:

Other books by Melissa Buell


Thursday, November 15, 2012

0 Excerpt from Thrones of Deisre


Book summary:
In Thrones of Desire erotic story-spinner Mitzi Szereto has created a place where lust and legend abound, where adventure, passion and danger entwine. Think mystical lands and creatures, kings and queens, knights and renegades, heroes and villains, warlords, maidens, and princesses. Think battles and danger, honor and dishonor, good and evil. Most of all, think hearts filled with passion and secret desire. This is a place where romantic chivalry is alive and well, but so too is romantic wickedness. In these lush and timeless landscapes, the battle for flesh can be as important as the battle for power. Intrigue, sorcery, revenge, lawlessness, dark secrets and mysterious elixirs, even entanglements with supernatural beings — everything is possible in these magical mythical landscapes. Inspired by the HBO television series Game of Thrones, these imaginative, steamy tales transport the reader to fantastical realms.


THRONES OF DESIRE: EROTIC TALES OF SWORDS, MIST AND FIRE edited by Mitzi Szereto
Book website: http://mitziszereto.com/thronesofdesire/
Author website: http://mitziszereto.com



Excerpt from "Of High Renown" by Janine Ashbless

She remembered how she had misused him.

It was an unending struggle to keep him alive. The venom in his blood seemed to have destroyed his body’s sense of equilibrium and threw him between burning fever and frigid tremors every few hours. Emlhi cleaned and bandaged the deep puncture wounds in his shoulder, but after that she simply tried to keep his temperature on an even keel—stopping the fever boiling his brains at one moment, piling blankets over him to maintain some vestiges of warmth the next. She fed and watered him, cut fresh bracken every morning for his mattress and, when she was not watching over him, tried to keep up the work of her smallholding. She snatched her own sleep during his chills, dozing in her father’s old room.

Between fire and ice, the knight would have passages where he seemed to be lucid but completely exhausted. Then as the fever flared up afresh he’d begin to talk and sometimes try to rise from his bed. He stared at the ceiling and spoke to people who weren’t there. He raved about battles and campaigns and the horrors he’d witnessed until Emlhi wanted to stop her ears for sorrow. Sometimes his hallucinations grew worse and in terror or fury he would lash out at her. If he hadn’t been so weakened by his illness, he might have been really dangerous.

It went on for days, and there were times she couldn’t understand why he did not die. She might have called in an older female relative to share the labor of care, but she guarded her sole right to Gareth possessively. Exhausted, she took strength from his stubbornness.

And she took more than strength.

The first time it wasn’t her doing. She was sitting on the edge of the bed, tending him as he burned. She’d been wiping his face and chest with a damp cloth, dipping it in fresh water every few minutes and waving it about to cool it. He was twisting in discomfort, tossing in a delirious dream, his hands scrabbling convulsively across his belly. When she touched his cheek with the cloth he would turn his face toward it, like a baby seeking the teat. She ran it down the midline of his torso and he grabbed her hand, knotting his fingers around hers. Gently she freed the cloth with her other hand and continued to bathe him. He kept his grip on her. His head was thrown back, his larynx working. Then he pushed her hand into his crotch.


Excerpt from "Eyekeeper" by Aurelia T. Evans

Lydia stood in the middle of the cell. The floor under her bare feet was nothing but dirt and hay and dust mixed with disintegrated rat droppings. She had long since removed the cloth belt from between her legs where it held her skirt up away from her feet like pants. It was easier to creep around when skirts could not snag on corners, but she was not creeping now. She had been caught, betrayed by a man who should know better, sentenced to burn by the king whose coffers she pilfered, and shut away in the castle dungeon to await her execution at dawn.

The sky through the window slit revealed stars. She could not yet smell the morning fog, and she still smelled ale and sweat on the breeze, which told her evening was still upon the city.

There was a moldy pallet in the corner, next to a bucket. Lydia used neither, simply stood. Her clothing was ordinary and her face was smudged with dust. But something was different; something was wrong. It was a feeling in the gut, like looking into a forest and knowing there was a creature staring back, something silent and unseen. She smiled, the curve of her lips almost imperceptible.

The woman whom the king called Witchthief waited.

After the bell tower chimed ten, the warden entered. He could not look her in the eye, but his strong, narrow jaw was set, his fists inadvertently tight. He bore marks of distress and distraction—there were deep circles under his eyes and his stubble smudged his cheek like charcoal.

“Good evening, Hann,” she said.

He bowed slightly. The gesture was automatic and somewhat mocking. “Lydia.”

“You have had a good evening, have you not?” Lydia asked.

“Very lucrative.”

He shut the door behind him. His keys clinked in the lock. “Where is the rest?”

“You ‘rescued’ the bag when Micah alerted the king I was digging through his treasure room.” Lydia stepped forward. Her left ankle dragged behind a bit, laden as it was with an iron shackle that attached her to the wall. “You failed to inform me that Micah kept a Scrying Glass in there.”

“I have been told that an artifact was also removed,” Hann interrupted. The timbre of his voice was official now. Cloaked in his profession, he found the fortitude to meet her eyes.

“Is that what Micah told you?” Lydia’s expression remained placid and slightly bemused.

“The king ordered me to search you for any additional items stolen.”

“I am sure it will be such a chore.” Her smile became perceptible.

“Damn it, Lydia, where is the Oculum?” Hann shouted, grabbing her by her arms. When he shook her, he made her chains rattle. She just laughed, the low, husky sound vibrating over his flesh.

“Search me.” She peered up at him through her dark eyelashes.

“Words cannot describe how glad I am you will burn on the morrow,” Hann said. He pulled at the ties of her bodice, spreading it open before him with nothing but her light chemise underneath. As her skirts moved and brushed against her legs, the clink of metal on metal was more apparent. She could no longer cover it with the sound of her shackle. When Hann heard it, he raised an eyebrow.

“Really, Lydia. What did you think you were going to do with the treasure? Bribe the ferryman to take you the other direction?” Hann asked. Slowly, he slid the bodice down and loosened the final ties so that the material of her dress slid down her legs. There was a heavy clink as the full pocket-lined skirts fell to the stone floor.

Lydia said nothing, nor did her smile falter. She could see sweat forming above his lip as his gaze traveled from the ridge of her collarbone down to the shapes of her breasts under the thin chemise. Her remaining clothing was silent as he moved his hands over the full arms, down the back, against the skirts, now pressing against her firm thighs.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

0 Q&A with Debra Martin




1. Tell us about your latest book, The Silver Cross.
“The Silver Cross” is the story of Boston cop, Lacey Gardner. Lacey followed in her father’s footsteps and became a cop, but a horrifying attack against her younger sister changed everything for her. When she is offered a position with the secret Fringe Division, she jumps at the chance and finally learns the truth--the beast that attacked her sister was actually a vampire. Now Lacey has dedicated her life to eradicating the beasts from the city of the Boston. She’s hardened herself against any distraction, but that all changes when she meets sexy bartender Damon Harte. The sparks fly between them, but Damon harbors a devastating secret, one that could tear the lovers apart.

2. What are some of the challenges you face when co-writing?
There are many, but the main challenge my brother and I face is distance. I live on the East Coast and Dave lives on the West Coast. However, with the modern technology of instant messenging, video conferences and email, we get the writing done. Over the years, we’ve come up with a good system of writing and editing each other’s chapters as we write a new book. Even though we know what the chapter entails, it’s always exciting to see what the other one has written.

3. What made you want to write both science fiction and fantasy books?
Growing up, both Dave and I loved the same books. We used to pass scifi and fantasy books back and forth constantly. So it was a natural extension when we started writing that we write in the genres that we love.

4. Which genre is more challenging to write? why?
Science fiction is more challenging because the “science” in the book has to be based in reality. In fantasy, when you design a world, you make the rules of magic and order. Even in our fantasy books, we must have our “magic” make sense. We don’t adhere to any far-fetched ideas that can’t be supported.

5. How many books do you have planned for The Vampire Nightlife series?
Right now we are working on the sequel tentatively titled “The Silver Double Cross.” It depends on what happens to the characters during this book whether or not we have more stories to tell. We’ve already heard from readers that they want the story of Cole Henderson, one of the vampire hunters on Lacey’s team. So, really it will depend on how well the readers like book 2 and of course, sales. Everything always comes down to sales.

6. Do you have a favorite character in The Silver Cross? why?
While so many of our readers love the sexy Damon Harte, I have a soft spot for Cole Henderson. He’s a quiet guy, but that calm exterior hides so much more. He’s ex-military special forces so he’s seen the worst that humanity can do to itself, but what made him a vampire hunter? That’s the story I want to know.

7. What are you working on now?
Dave and I are actually working on two sequels, “The Silver Double Cross” and “Witch’s Curse.” The first book in the Witch Stone Prophecy, “Assassin’s Curse” was very well received. The outline is done and about ¼ of the book so far is finished as a first draft. Our books go through extensive editing before we send them to our beta readers and ultimately to our editor. I’m outlining “Silver Double Cross.” We want this book to be as exciting as “Silver Cross.” Our plan is to finish both these books in 2013.

8. Do you have a favorite book you've read in 2012?
Oh boy, that’s a hard question. I’ve read so many good books so far this year. I’m a book reviewer for many publishers and the books keep coming. I’d be hard pressed to pick just one.  The biggest problem is finding the time to read them all.

9. What do you do when not writing?
Between working full-time as a Programs Manager at a research university and making crafts for my craft business, I don’t have a lot of free time. It seems there is always something more that needs to be done. October-December is extremely busy for my crafts (decorated light boxes) and any free moment I have, I’m making more boxes.

10. What's your favorite thing to eat on Thanksgiving day?
Because I’m not much of a cook, I love having a traditional turkey dinner with all the fixings on Thanksgiving. The best part, however, is going to a restaurant and having them cook it. Saves all that clean-up time!


Author bio: Debra L Martin writes SF/fantasy with her co-author and brother, David W Small.  They have been writing together since 2006. They make their partnership work through the use of email, Instant Messaging and Skype.  Their newest release is THE SILVER CROSS, Book 1 in the Vampire Nightlife series.  They have written three other novels, ASSASSIN'S CURSE, Book 1 in the Witch Stone Prophecy, QUEST FOR NOBILITY and THE CRYSTAL FACADE in the RULE OF OTHARIA series and three novellas in the DARK FUTURE series to-date.

Debra lives on the East Coast with her husband and 2 cats.  She works as a Programs Manager at a research university.
David lives on the West Coast with his wife.  He retired from the Marines after 21 years and currently works as a Network Specialist.

Links:
Blog: http://twoendsofthepen.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Debra.L.Martin.Author
Twitter: https://twitter.com/dlmartin6
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Debra-L-Martin/e/B003Q1WLXY/


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

0 The Passing Bells Read-Along



As a huge fan of Downton Abbey I couldn't resist signing up for the read-along. It's been some time since I've participated in a read-along, so I'm really excited. If you want to join in click here.

0 Review: Mira's Diary: Lost in Paris by Marissa Moss

Review: Mira's Diary: Lost in Paris
Author: Marissa Moss
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Published: Sept. 4, 2012
ebook, arc
ISBN13: 9781402266065
Genre: Middle grade, time travel
Source: Publisher, Netgalley



Goodreads Summary:
Mira is shocked when she receives a postcard from her missing mother from Paris. Her father decides it's time for a trip to France to search for her. While visiting Notre Dame, Mira touches a gargoyle and is whirled into the past. There she meets the famous painter Degas and catches a brief, shocking glimpse of her mother. Mira begins to suspect that her mom didn't run out on them but is a prisoner of the past. Can one family on an incredible worldwide adventure stop a plot in time?

My thoughts:
Mira's Diary: Lost in Paris by Marissa Moss is an interesting story about a family struggling to make sense of their missing mother. Mira is understandably upset at her mother for leaving the family without a word. When a postcard shows up out of the blue, Mira just wants to shrug it off, but her dad has other ideas. They leave immediately for Paris to look for clues pertaining to her mother. While in Paris, Mira travels back in time. She's not sure how she got there, what she's suppose to do, and how she's going to get back to her own time. Mira is surprised when she runs into her mother. However her mother runs away from her. Confused, Mira receives a mysterious note that explains 'the rules', and sets her on a path to complete a mission that could change the future.
I really wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I like time travel stories, so I though this would be interesting. I didn't expect the books to be based on actual historical events. I really liked that the most about this book. Mira is a good characters. She's young and unsure of herself. Although angry at her mother for abandoning her family, she desperately wants the opportunity to reconnect with her. There's a lot of intrigue in this book, but I was a little thrown off by the attempt at romance between Mira and another character. It distracted from the main story line. I really liked the main theme: If you could change history, should you? It offers an interesting question that the characters find themselves asking. I think this has the potential to be a great series. The author leaves the audience hanging on the very last page, but it just made me want to pick up the next book.
My rating:


Monday, November 12, 2012

0 Marissa Moss Guest Post and Give@way



Around the World
I've lived in Paris and Rome, each a wonderful experience.  Living in a foreign city broadens your sense of who you are and how you want to live in ways that are delightfully unpredictable.  In both cities, I explored the cultural riches in a way you can't during a brief visit, but more than that, I learned the rhythm of a different lifestyle.  There's no such thing as rushing in Rome, no sense of urgency – or, frustratingly – of efficiency.  You learn the Italian shrug of acceptance.
Travel in general demands that kind of flexibility.  Planes are delayed.  Connections are missed.  A drive into the Amazon jungle that was supposed to take five hours ends up taking ten because roads have been washed out.  But being open to what happens during travel mishaps means you end up having tea with Bedouins in Petra or are invited into a house-raising for a newly married couple in Vietnam.  I love the expected parts of travel, the amazing sites, the great art, but I also love the completely unplanned, the moment you have to be open to in order to experience it.
I've been to more than 30 countries.  The ones that have been the most difficult, have also been the most rewarding – India, Peru, Vietnam, Jordan, Egypt.  I hope I can keep adding to this list.  I'd love to see Indonesia, South Africa, Namibia, anywhere new.  But the place I keep going back to, the city that has my heart, is Rome.  Must be the gelato.

What's Past is Prologue

Mira's Diary gives me a chance to play with history in an immediate way, by placing a contemporary character into an interesting time period.  The first book takes place in Paris because I wanted to spend time with the Impressionist painters, in particular my favorite, Degas.
 I started by reading as much as I could about Degas to see where I wanted to go and that’s how I stumbled on the story that became the backbone for the book, the trial for treason of Captain Dreyfus.
At the time, it was a huge political scandal, and once I started doing research,  I found out all kinds of amazing things, from secret disguises to invented files, the kind of thing you would think a writer of thrillers would invent.  Only these things really happened.
One thing that became a big part of the plot was the role played by Emile Zola.  A very successful writer, Zola had won prestigious awards and was like the Steven King of his day.  Mira has to convince Zola to risk his reputation – and it turns out his life – to stand up for justice, to right the horrible wrong done to Dreyfus.  The theme of the book, and, beyond that of the series, is intolerance and justice.  In each book Mira wrestles with how to do the right thing, how to fight prejudice and narrow-mindedness by changing key events in the past.  If she doesn't, she risks her own future.

*Giveaway*
Thanks to Sourcebooks I have a copy of Mira's Diary: Lost in Paris to giveaway to one lucky reader. This giveaway is open to US/Canada addresses only. You must be at least 13 years old to enter. Good luck!
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Saturday, November 10, 2012

3 Top Ten Stupid Mistakes Villains Make; Guest Post and Giveaway




Top Ten Stupid Mistakes Villains Make: Kate dissects and lists the mindless mistakes that Pemberly Brown’s secret societies make while attempting to sneak around the campus.
Kate Lowry here from THE LIES THAT BIND. Today, I want to share with you my top ten list of stupid mistakes villains make.

10. Leave doors/windows/cars/lockers OPEN. Villains are busy people. Or perhaps they were raised in a barn. Either way, if the door’s open, I’m going in. Don’t mind if I do…

9. Loud talkers. Villains missed the day of preschool when the teachers reviewed inside voices. Plus, voices carry in those tunnels. I don’t even have to put my ear to the hatch!

8. Lose their cool around girls. I’m not proud of it, but sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do and sometimes that means showing a little skin. I’ve gotten entire secret maps of Pemberly Brown by merely unbuttoning one button.

7. Carry baggage. Student files are fascinating. And often thick. My best friend works in the office. What do you expect?

6. Hang with the wrong crowd. Be careful who you trust, bad guys. Who knows, they might even be worse than you.

5. Perform not-so-secret ceremonies in not-so-private places. The clock tower again? Really? How have you not seen me crouched behind these low shrubs?

4. Have no respect for property, even if it is a dilapidated building of Brown. Lists of names on walls? Check.

3. Twirling moustaches. Whenever I have a doubt over who the real bad guy is, I can usually identify them by their telltale mustache. Thanks Headmaster Sinclair!

2. Forming secret societies. Um, guys, hate to break it to you, but NOTHING stays secret at Pemberly Brown. At least not while I'm around.

1. Messing with my friends. I might not be the most popular girl in school and I'm definitely not the toughest (Bethany, I'm looking at you), but you mess with my friends and I will throw down. Justice is tough to find at Pemberly Brown, but I won't rest until I find it.

*Giveaway*
Thanks to Sourcebooks, I have a copy of The Lies the Bind (The Liar Society #2) to giveaway to one lucky reader. This giveaway is open to US/Canada addresses only. You must be at least 13 years old to enter. I'm reading the Liar Society right now, and it's really good! You're going to want to enter! Good luck.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

2 Gabriele Wills Guest Post and Give@way


Why I Chose to Write About This Era :
 by Gabriele Wills

“We danced on the edge of an abyss,” the Countess of Fingall said in 1911. Even the privileged realized that radical change was in the air. But no one could have foreseen that this generation would soon be challenged by the most tumultuous time in modern history.

Already women were stepping out of breath-snatching corsets and stultifying drawing rooms. Some demanded the vote; a few braved ridicule and contempt to invade the realm of men at medical and law schools. Restless fellows wanted to conquer the skies and drive ever-faster automobiles. Domestics began to seek independence from a life of servitude. Science and technology were electrifying the world even as their hubris led to the tragedy of the “unsinkable” Titanic.

The Summer Before the Storm begins in 1914 by immersing readers in the genteel Age of Elegance - the glittering balls and courtly romances played out in the seductive lake district of Muskoka in the Canadian wilderness. War seemed improbable, even to the country’s Prime Minister, who was holidaying in Muskoka and hastily recalled to the capital just days before Britain declared war on Germany. Canada was suddenly embroiled in the conflict as well.

So when chivalrous young men went blithely and patriotically off to do their duty for King and Country, none realized the enormous sacrifices they would make. Privilege and wealth didn’t help. In fact, officers were killed in proportionally larger numbers than their men. Some families, like a friend of Nancy Astor, lost all their sons. Many felt that the best and brightest were among those who now lay in the endless rows of graves.

Eager to “do their bit”, sisters and sweethearts had new opportunities to prove themselves by taking over traditional men’s jobs, or becoming volunteer (VAD) nurses, clerks, and drivers. Some were aristocrats, like Lady Diana Manners, reputedly the most beautiful debutante in England. Her mother was against her becoming a VAD nurse, but finally gave in. The Duchess “knew, as I did, that my emancipation was at hand," Diana stated in her memoir, and admitted, "I seemed to have done nothing practical in all my twenty years." One of the most famous VADs was Agatha Christie, whose job was to dispense drugs. That was how she learned so much about poisons, which she later used in her mysteries.

VADs were generally from sheltered and chaperoned backgrounds. Growing up with servants, most of these young women had never washed a plate or boiled an egg. One girl related how amusing it was to serve tea to the wounded at the hospital and then return home to have her own tea served by the parlour maid. But when rivers of casualties overwhelmed staff, there was little difference between what was expected of inexperienced VADs and fully trained nurses. The volunteers were often left in charge of as many as 100 dangerously ill men, and had to help treat horrific injuries that would forever haunt them.

Even more adventuresome were the intrepid women who drove ambulances in France and Belgium, especially members of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY), who earned 136 medals and decorations. Their work was difficult, dangerous, and dirty (they fixed their own ambulances), but these gently reared ladies endured it all with stoicism and grace. In Book 2 of my Muskoka Novels, Elusive Dawn, I pay homage to these courageous women through my version of the Corps.

People live more intensely and passionately during turbulent times when death is unpredictable and ever present.  But even those who survived were forever changed by their experiences and losses. What fertile ground for an author!

The three Muskoka Novels cover twenty years of unprecedented social changes in Europe and North America. My characters mingle with Alfred Vanderbilt on the Lusitania, dine with Nancy Astor at her fabulous estate, Cliveden, spend a country house weekend with Lord Beaverbrook, fly with Britain and Canada’s top Ace, Billy Bishop, drink with Ernest Hemingway in Paris, and dance with the Prince of Wales. So it’s been tremendous fun for me to research this fascinating time, and bring it vividly to life.

As Cole Porter so aptly wrote in his 1934 hit tune:
“ In olden days, a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking.
But now, God knows,
Anything goes.”

*Giveaway*
Thanks to Gabrielle Wills and Premier Author Book Tours I have a copy of The Summer Before The Storm to giveaway to a lucky reader. The giveaway is for one copy of the book in print or Kindle.  Winners in the U.S. or Canada will receive their choice. International winners will receive the Kindle version. Good Luck!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

4 Review: The Summer Before the Storm by Gabriele Wills

Title: The Summer Before the Storm
Author: Gabriele Wills
Publisher: Mindshadows
Published: 2006
paperback, 551 pages
ISBN: 0-9732780-2-1
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Premier Virtual Author Book Tours



Goodreads Summary:
Muskoka, 1914. It's the Age of Elegance in the summer playground of the affluent and powerful. Amid the pristine, island-dotted lakes, the granite cliffs, and pine-scented forests of the Canadian wilderness, the young and carefree amuse themselves with glittering balls, lavish picnics, and friendly competitions. But this summer promises to be different when the charming, ambitious, and destitute son of a disowned heir joins his wealthy family at their cottage on Wyndwood Island.

My thoughts:
When I first came across The Summer Before the Storm it was said that if you like Downton Abbey you should try this book. I'm a huge fan of the show so I thought I would give this book a go. This novel is set in a group of islands in Canada. I've only been to Canada once and it was beautiful. So I could easily imagine the scenery that the author writes about. The main focus of this book is the Wyndham family. At the head of the family is the grandmother. She is not only the matriarch but also rules everything with a tight fist. There are dozens of characters in this book. If that frightens you then be assured, the author has provided a cast of characters at the beginning of the novel.
The Summer Before the Storm takes place in 1914. Times are about to change in a drastic way, but before they do we get to spend some get-to-know-you time with the family. This is definitely a character driven novel. For the most part, it centers around Victoria and Jack. Victoria has grown up in luxury. She's spunky with a whole lot of gumption. Jack's father was disowned by the Wyndham family. He grew up poor and after his father died, he decided to reconnect with his Wyndham relations. The family welcomes him. However, the author drops a few red herrings that things might not be what they seem. I like both Jack and Victoria. Victoria has quite a bit of growing up to do in this book. And Jack, though he knows what he wants, might not do what ever it takes to get it.
The family in itself is dynamic and complex like any huge family. The author portrays the family life in a realistic way. I enjoyed reading this book. Although at times I felt like this book was longer than it should be, when I got to the end I still wanted to read more. I do want to continue with this series. I'm hooked now, and I want to find out what happens to Victoria and Jack. This book takes you back to a sweet period in time then leads you into a war ravaged country. This book is very engaging and I'd recommend it. The Summer Before the Storm is the first book in The Muskoka Trilogy. The next book in this series is Elusive Dawn followed by Under the Moon.
My rating:


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

0 Review: Hope Road by John Barlow

Title: Hope Road (LS9 #1)
Author: John Barlow
Published: December 13, 2011
ASIN: B006LWJ75K
Ebook
Genre: Crime
Source: Author




Goodreads Summary:
John Ray, son of crime boss Antonio 'Tony' Ray, is the straight one of the family. With a successful business and a lifestyle to match, he wants nothing to do with his father's criminal world. But what does that world want with him?


My thoughts:
John Ray, the youngest son of Crime Boss Antonio Ray, is the "straight one" of the family.  He has taken over the family business, Tony Ray's Motors, a car showroom on the back streets of Leeds.
Life seems good for John Ray.  He has won the "Auto Trader Used Car Dealership of the Year" Yorkshire Region award.  He has a beautiful girlfriend, Denise Danson, who is a Detective Constable at West Yorkshire Police, CID Division.
When a body of a young woman is found in the trunk of a Ford Mondeo belonging to John, with $40,000 in counterfeit monies and his business card, suspicion falls on John Ray until DC Danson becomes his alibi.
Owen Metcalfe (everyone calls him Freddy) is arrested on suspicion of murder after a video surfaces showing him to be the last to see the dead woman.  John knows Freddy is not a killer; he's not the type.  Now he has to prove it to the police and find the killer before time runs out.

This book was fantastic!!  John Barlow has captured the dark side of the world of crime.  The characters are three dimensional.  Plenty of fast paced, edge of your seat action, and a plot twist or two when you least expect it.  I didn't want to put the book down, but when I had to my thoughts drifted back to Hope Road. A wonderful who-done-it!!

This book could be made into a movie that I would go see.  Well done John Barlow!!  I am looking forward to the next book in this series.

My rating:




Monday, November 5, 2012

0 Samantha Durante's HUGE November Giveaway




Samantha Durante, author of Stitch, is having a HUGE November giveaway! Here's what she's giving away:


1 $50 Amazon Giftcard (hopefully that will put a dent in your holiday shopping…)
5 $5 Amazon Giftcards ($5 can buy quite a few e-books or streaming videos!)
5 (that’s right, 5!) SIGNED Print Copies of Stitch (limited to US only for postage purposes, sorry!)
And 10 Ebook Copies of Stitch (format of the winner’s choice, of course)

You can also check out my interview with Samantha Durante here.


Enter the Giveaway HERE!!!

1 Review: Hocus Pocus Hotel by Michael Dahl

Title: Hocus Pocus Hotel
Author: Michael Dahl
Publisher: Capstone
Published: August 1, 2012
Hardcover, 216 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4342-4253-2
Genre: Middle Grade, Mystery
Source: Publisher

Goodreads Summary:
Ever since it was built by the great magician Abracadabra, the hotel Tyler Yu lives in has had its share of mysterious events. Ghosts wandering the halls, a magician who vanishes into thin air – Ty can’t figure these things out on his own. But Charlie Hitchcock, with his photographic memory, might just be the partner the school bully needs. Together, they’ll solve magical mysteries beyond your wildest imagination.

My thoughts:
The Hocus Pocus Hotel by Michael Dahl is a great book for young readers. The main character's name is Charlie Hitchcock. He has a photographic memory and a knack for solving mysteries. Tyler Yu is the school tough guy that everyone wants to steer clear of. Charlie is thrown for a loop when he receives a message from Tyler asking to meet him by Abracadabra. This hotel was built by a a great magician. Things start to go awry at the hotel and Tyler needs Charlie's help.
The Hocus Pocus Hotel contains two stories surrounding the Abracadabra. Charlie Hitchcock is a young Sherlock Holmes in the making. Together with Tyler, they are determined to solve the mysteries the hotel presents. This book is wonderfully written with fantastic illustrations. This book is perfect ages 8 and up. If your kids like mysteries, check this book out.
My rating:


 

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