Thursday, January 31, 2013

0 Q&A with Stephen Bradlee

1. Please tell our readers about Falling In Love.

Falling In Love is based on a true story about a young woman’s battle to overcome sexual addiction. Despite her addiction, the book isn’t really erotic. It is really about her journey to overcome her self-loathing, gain her self-esteem and, ultimately, to do the hardest thing for her, to find self-love.

2. What was the most challenging thing you came across while writing this book?

Sherry wanted to tell her story but she also wanted to remain anonymous.  So I had to change some of the events in the book but still keep the emotional impact of the original events.  That was much harder than I had imagined it would be.

3. Falling In Love is based on a true story. How much of it is actually true?

Well, most of it. I would guess that 75% of Falling In Love is pretty much straight from the transcripts.

4. Why did you feel the need to tell this story?

It was just too great of a story to pass up. But also I thought it would resonate with a lot of readers and it seems like I was right. One woman said that Falling In Love changed her live, which was very gratifying to here.

5. What projects do you have planned for the future?

I am currently writing a thriller, which is also based on a true story. I want to do a sequel to Falling In Love but that really depends on Sherry.

6. What advice would you give aspiring authors?

I guess two things. One is to write the book that you would love to read. If you write it well hopefully enough readers will also love it enough to make you relatively successful. If not, you know that you will always have one very loyal fan.  Secondly, believe in your ability to create something special. Writing can be so difficult and writers can be so insecure about their work and so afraid of exposing their most intimate thoughts and feelings that the writing itself can become intimidating. You have to believe that in the end it will not only be worth it but that you will give something to the world that no one else can.

7. What's your favorite book?

There are so many that it is really hard to say. But if I have to say one, I’d go with  The Great Gatsby.

8. What's the worst date you've ever been on?

Now that I am a happily married man, I don’t disgust past relationships, good or bad. All my dates with my wife have been wonderful.

9. Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Definitely a night owl. I am at my best at midnight.

10. Do you prefer coffee or tea?

Coffee.  I probably drink more than I should but how else is a night owl going to face the day?


The next morning, Paul gave me his credit card and told me to go into Sparta and buy myself a beautiful dress. He also planned to shop for something special before jogging along the lake with Brian.
Hearing Brian’s name made my heart sink to my stomach. I tried to mention offhandedly that I hadn’t known that he had made plans with Brian.
“I didn’t,” Paul replied. “He just called this morning and said that he wanted to get together. I guess he’s trying to make up for being so rude last night.”
How I wished that were true but I knew that it wasn’t! I flashed anger at Brian. He was trying to take my Paul away from me. I wanted go along, to stop Brian from telling Paul but before I could say anything Paul gave me a quick kiss, promised to pick me up at seven and was out the door. I turned to see Arlene entering the room. She had seen Paul kissing me. She gave me the cold stare that Brian had in the karaoke bar. I ran out the door.
I started out for Sparta filled with misgivings, not even sure that I should waste Paul’s money on a dress that I would probably never wear. But I figured that I couldn’t let on that I knew what Brian was going to say. I would just have to lie to Paul and tell him that Brian had been mistaken, that it wasn’t me. I thought about admitting the truth, of trying to convince Paul that I truly loved him and that I would never do anything like that ever again. That might do it. Yes, if he really loved me, that just might work.
I tried not to think about Brian and Paul as I wandered though Sparta’s only mall. I found a lovely small dress shop with a beautiful black dress. But I couldn’t buy it, afraid that I would look like I was going to a funeral. I considered buying a white dress but was afraid that this might also be a little too much. Finally, I found one that I thought might work, beige and very prim looking.
I walked around the mall for three more hours, as I didn’t want to return to Arlene’s house. I couldn’t stand sitting there while she stared daggers at me.
On the drive back to Oak Grove, I remained torn between lying to Paul or telling him the truth and begging his forgiveness. By the time I had showered, changed into the dress and sat waiting for him on the front-porch swing, I was still torn apart.
Paul pulled up and bounced out of his car, looking very dashing in a Navy blue suit. He had worn suits to work but I’d never before seen him wear one after work. If Brian had told me where he had seen me, Paul didn’t show it as he bound up the steps with an affectionate smile. He swept me off the swing and gave me a long, loving kiss. As we headed for Paul’s car, I felt so relieved that I hadn’t needed to worry about what Brian might have told him.
Paul had made a reservation on the Lakeside Restaurant’s terrace so that we would be dining at sunset. The setting was absolutely beautiful as an almost glowing sun spread shimmering flecks over the water. But unlike previous dinners when Paul talked nonstop about his life and his plans and dreams, he now seemed to be more reflective. The long pauses in the conversation made me uneasy.
“You’re quiet tonight,” I finally observed.
“My mother taught me not to talk with my mouth full,” Paul replied matter-of-factly and I became even more uneasy.
I tried to fill the vacuum with small talk but it didn’t help and finally Paul asked, “Where did you meet Brian?”
My heart sink. After all day of weighing lying to Paul versus admitting the truth, I was still on a very sharp fence. Tell the truth, Sherry, that is your only hope. I knew this. I did. So I was startled to hear myself say, “Buying cigarettes. I told you.”
“He lives in Sparta.”
“That’s where it was,” my voice said, now committed to the lie. “I went for a drive.”
“That’s all?”
“Of course. What did you think?” I hadn’t meant to ask that question, as I had dreaded the answer. But I had.
Paul looked closely at me for what seemed like forever as I sat speechless, motionless. Finally, I tried smiling as sweetly as I could. Then Paul smiled back and started to relax.
“Brian was kidding me about you being at Nick Rogers’ party last Sunday.”
“I don’t know a Nick Rogers,” I said quickly and then remembered that I had actually met him. For all I could remember, I knew Nick Rogers in more ways than one but that thought disgusted me so much that I pushed it out of my mind.
“You could go to all his parties and not know him. His place is a walkin.” Paul laughed and gave me a loving smile. “Forget about it,” he said. “Brian was just being stupid.”
Paul dropped his napkin by the table and knelt down to retrieve it. But he didn’t get up again.
“Everything okay?” I asked him.
Paul looked up. “It will be perfect, if you will take this.” He was holding a ring case.
I took the case and opened it to see a large, sparkling, gorgeous diamond ring.
“Will you marry me?” Paul asked.
I couldn’t believe it. I had feared that this would be the worst night of my life and instead it was turning out to be the best. “Yes. Oh, yes!” I exclaimed.
Paul swept me out of my seat and into his arms and gave me a long, wonderful kiss. The restaurant patrons broke into applause and a waiter approached us with a bottle of champagne.
For the next two hours, we drank champagne, dined and held each other’s hand. I must have showed off my dazzling ring to everyone in the restaurant at least twice.
We finally strolled outside, hand in hand with Paul stopping at every step to kiss me.
“Where else should we go to celebrate?” he asked.
The question surprised me. I thought that since we were now engaged, we would go back to his house and make love. But Paul had waited so long for that moment that he now seemed to willing to stretch it out further, to tantalize us both before we began making love for the rest of our lives. Although I could barely wait another minute, I understood.
“Anywhere you want,” I replied.
Paul smiled. “I know the perfect place.”
We drove into Sparta and headed in a direction that seemed vaguely familiar and then it became all too familiar as we finally pulled up outside that party house, Nick Rogers’ house. Hoping I was mistaken, I glanced at the house with increasing apprehension. I wasn’t mistaken. The party tonight was quieter but a party nonetheless. I knew I had to get out of there. I had to get Paul out of there.
“It sounds too loud,” I said. “Why don’t we go to somewhere quiet? Just the two of us.” I kissed Paul and gave him a big smile, hoping that this would do it. It didn’t.
He smiled back. “We will. In a minute. I just want to show those clowns what a class act looks like. Brian deserves this.”
Paul got out car and opened my door. I couldn’t move. “You go,” I said. “I’ll wait here.”
Paul shook his head. “It wouldn’t be any fun without you. Come on.”
Paul was almost pulling me out of the car when I saw the guy they called Tex walking across the porch with a brunette. I knew I couldn’t go near him. I was horrified by the thought. I shuddered backward into the seat, frozen. “I can’t,” I said. “I can’t.”
Paul looked puzzled. “What? Why?”
“I just can’t.”
Suddenly, Paul looked warily at me, accusingly. “Have you been here before?”
“I don’t know,” I said. I really didn’t. The person who had walked into that house wasn’t me.
Paul was trying not to believe what he was realizing was true. “Sherry, either you have or you haven’t,” he said brusquely.
“Can’t we just go, please?”
He stared at me with accusing eyes. “We’re going, all right,” he snapped and slammed my door shut.
All the way back to Oak Grove, I fought back tears as I tried to talk to Paul. I wanted so badly to tell him that I would never do anything like that again but I couldn’t think of the right words, and Paul wasn’t really listening to anything I was saying anyway. He had turned into some other Paul that I had never seen before. This wonderfully, sweet guy was now enraged at me and seemingly every female he had ever met.
“You women are all the same,” he shouted. “You act sweet and innocent with me and then go fuck the first guy you see.” He turned to me. “Am I the only guy in this county who hasn’t had you? Am I? Answer me?”
“It’s not want you think,” I protested.
“That’s for damn sure,” he retorted as the car screeched to a stop outside Arlene’s house. He turned to me again. “Answer me! Did you screw a bunch of guys at Rogers’?”
“I don’t know,” I answered. I really didn’t. I didn’t know anything anymore.
“That’s bullshit!” he snapped.
I couldn’t stand the thought of losing Paul and never again enjoying our wonderful times together. “All I know is that I really care for you,” I said. “Come with me to New York, right now. Just the two of us.”
“So you can sleep around in a big city and I won’t find out?” He glowered at me.
“No!” I didn’t want that. I only wanted to be with Paul. “I—”
But before I could speak, Paul cut me off. Reaching over to open my door, he looked away. “Get out!”
“Paul, please,” I pleaded. “I’m sorry. I’m not like that.”
“Get out of my life!” He yelled so loudly that he scared me.
I finally broke down in tears. “Paul, please,” I pleaded again.
He refused to look at me. Instead he just glared out the front window into the dark night.
Slowly, I got out of the car. Before I could even close the door, the car squealed away from the curb and the violent motion slammed the door shut.
I ran into Arlene’s house, up the stairs and once again, blinded by tears, began jamming my clothes into my suitcase. I hated myself for running away but I knew that no matter what I said to Paul, it wouldn’t do any good. You blew it, Sherry. Just get to New York. Through my tears, I saw the picture of Paul with the big fish and whispered to it, “I’m sorry, Paul. I truly am.”
When my suitcase was again stuffed full, I slammed it shut and ran down the stairs, tripping and almost falling but I managed to stay upright. I couldn’t stay in that house one more second. Arlene was her living room, watching a TV show. I didn’t bother to say, goodbye. As I ran out the door, I heard her parting shot. “Goodbye and good riddance.”
Lost in tears, I headed out of Oak Grove. The Interstate was on the other side of Sparta but I could never again go into that town. I yanked the wheel at a small road hoping to bypass it. The road was narrow and winding. Driving too fast, especially with eyes filled with tears that blocked my vision, I swerved all over the road. I nearly hit the ditch on a couple of sharp curves but I didn’t slow down. I had to get out of there. I felt like I couldn’t breathe until I got to the Interstate.
Then I felt rugged bumps and I blinked away the tears to see the car skidding off the road and heading for a towering tree. I jerked the steering wheel but I was too late as the car slid sideways toward the tree trunk. I hadn’t bothered to put on a seat belt so I tried to clutch the steering wheel as I braced for the crash.

About the author: Stephen Bradlee is the pen name for a Hollywood film executive.
He has ghostwritten celebrity autobiographies and has worked primarily as a script doctor.
He is married and lives with his wife, their daughter and their dog.To find out more about Stephen Bradlee check out this website, follow him of facebook and twitter. You can also read the prologue to Falling In Love here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

0 Beetle Days: Guest Post by Gabriel Böhmer

I'm thrilled to have Gabriel Böhmer here today to talk about his Kickstarter project. Kickstarter is something that I have come across a few times but know very little about it. Gabriel is kind enough to come on To Read or Not To Read to explain how it works.

It’s a Kickstarter Project
My novel Beetle Days is not out yet. But as you’ve undoubtedly heard more and more recently: it’s a Kickstarter project.
Beetle Days is a satire about the greed and herd mentality one so often sees today. Told as a fable of talking sheep, people, and dissatisfied beetles.
I got in touch with Marcie at To Read Or Not To Read, and she was kind enough to let me write about what the Kickstarter experience has been like. For those who don’t know, Kickstarter is a crowd-funding platform.

So, Why Kickstarter?
If you take a look at the site you’ll find writers, musicians, and filmmakers you may recognize. But you’ll mostly see countless interesting projects by strangers. Since my first look at Kickstarter, I keep discovering inspiring projects across all facets of disciplines.
I backed a group that wanted to put up benches on NYC scaffolding, a writer in the UK who was creating a beautiful annotated version of Moby Dick, and some engineers in Boston that sought to make a better turntable. And there’s many more that I wish I’d discovered while they were running.
Often in exchange for pledges, backers are acknowledged for their help. I gave a fantastic looking stop-motion film a few dollars and now I’m going to be thanked in the credits. How amazing is that?!
Eventually I decided that not only did I want to fund ideas, I also wanted to put my own forward. Kickstarter has a home for the kooky but inventive. So I thought a story of talking Beetles in a humorous, but dystopian landscape, might just fit in.

How’s it been going?
As I’m writing this I’m 14 days in, and have 16 to go. Beetle Days is 46% funded.
So far, my main takeaway is that my network is unbelievably generous. To an inspiring level. I’m not talking about giving money (though that can only be classified as insanely generous). I’m talking about the willingness of people to spread the word. It’s exceeded my grandest expectations. Which has already made the experience completely worthwhile.
All this for a story about narcissistic beetles that steal stuff! (OK, I promise there’s a lot more to it than that, but still.)
If I could do anything differently I’d connect with people even more. Engage in my network to find out what individuals and their friends are up to. Not just now, but in the years before I launched this project. I’m sure there have been numerous interesting opportunities that I completely missed out on.
Our feeds are full of people trying to alert us… and kittens. Which I admittedly enjoy. But anyways, generally speaking we have too much information to sort through. And so it’s up to us to stay in touch with our network. Not just if you have a Kickstarter campaign! But also to know what interesting projects are kicking around. It could be something you’d really love to be a part of.
Please check out mine before Feb 15th!
Book Synopsis:
John just wants to work hard at the farm. With the talking and mute sheep. And the cats. And the restaurant. And the occasional coffee. All he really wants is a good coffee. But he is bothered by beetles. As is everyone.
Beetles are unbearable. They don’t stand in queues. They insist on free air travel. And they’re enthusiastic but horrible conversationalists. They steal things and mouth off while doing it. They want. And want. And want.
When the nearby townspeople become irate with the state of things the ‘Great Beetle War’ begins… which experts deem as not particularly great. But as the byproducts of this conflict begin to affect more and more of life, John has to decide how he can help those around him and, ultimately, himself.
Author Bio:
Writer Gabriel Böhmer was born in Zurich, and has lived in London, Buenos Aires, and Boston. He used to work in the consulting industry but left in 2011 in pursuit of his own work (a production company in its start-up phase) making things and writing. He enjoys long distance running, building fires (to cook things), and banging on random objects to see what sound they'll make.
Beetle Days is currently a Kickstarter project. The campaign ends Feb 15th. Official Site. Twitter.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

0 While He Was Away Cover Reveal and Guest Post

While He Was Away Walmart-Exclusive Cover Reveal
and How Inspiration Can Come From Anywhere: 
Even a Trip to the Grocery Store and a Handful of Long-Lost Photographs
By Karen Schreck

I sometimes wonder what my mother would say if she knew that her story—one of the saddest, sweetest love stories I’ve ever heard—was retold in a new way in my young adult novel, While He Was Away.

Now Sourcebooks Fire is sharing the story yet again, in a second, exclusive edition, released nation-wide at Walmart.  The fact that Sourcebooks believed enough in While He Was Away to bring it to life the first time felt like a much-needed confirmation of years of hard work.  The fact that they are standing behind my book again in this way . . . well, it feels like a miracle.  I’m truly grateful.

I wonder what my mother would say to this incredible news? I like to think she would be grateful too.  I like to think she would be happy.  She wanted her story heard after all.  So much so that it was one of the last things she told me, just before she died.

One rainy night when I was fourteen, right before cancer left her to ill to talk, let alone drive a car, my mother said, “Come with me.  We’re going shopping.”  We drove to the little local market and wandered up and down the aisles, as she threw in a can of tuna, some dishwashing soap, and other little things we didn’t need.  We paid for these little things.  She looked anxious and tired, still she hadn’t said a thing; we hadn’t spoken a word.

It was only when we were parked in our driveway again that my mother said, “I was married once before when I was very young.  He died a hero in WWII.”

And that was that.  Soon after, she died.

I thought about my mother’s mysterious love story for many years.  I talked to relatives, found long-lost photographs.  The story took seed in me.  It flowered into a novel about a young women whose boyfriend leaves for the Iraq War.  In her loneliness, she seeks out a grandmother she’s never met, whose first husband died in WWII.  She seeks out a character inspired by mother.

A late night drive, a few words spoken in the dark.  Even things as simple as this can inspire a novel.

Monday, January 28, 2013

0 Why My Character is “Comic Book Cool”: Guest Post by Laurie Boyle Crompton

Why My Character is “Comic Book Cool”
© 2012 Anne Cain

Blaze’s character showed up in my mind like Blam! Pow! “Tell my story!” She’s really into comics and is sort of stuck in her life as an outsider, but she isn't ashamed of being a geek. She displays her superhero buttons proudly and is constantly drawing and reading comics. I couldn't wait to write about her. Of course, working on a project where studying comic books counted as research was a bonus!
My step-father has this Ah-mazing! collection much like the one Blaze’s dad has in the book and I remember staying up late at night reading through stacks of them as a kid. I would try to tell my friends about these awesome characters like the Silver Surfer and Iron Man, and I’d even try to imitate Thor’s Norse God way of speaking. This was before the movies made these guys more mainstream and I was definitely on the fringe with my obsession, but when I’d find another comic book nerd we had an instant bond.
As I was writing, Blaze surprised me when she fought back against Mark the way she did and I knew at that point I could just allow her character to take over. Of course things don’t go as she plans, but no matter what tight spots she finds herself in, she uses comic books to guide and empower her. Readers who aren't into comic books will definitely still enjoy Blaze, but my hope is that she will inspire them to check out comics for themselves, too!You can read more about Laurie on her blog:

About the book:
Blaze is tired of spending her life on the sidelines, drawing comics and feeling invisible. She's desperate for soccer star Mark to notice her. And when her BFF texts Mark a photo of Blaze in sexy lingerie, it definitely gets his attention. After a hot date in the back of her minivan, Blaze is flying high, but suddenly Mark's feelings seem to have been blasted by a freeze-ray gun, and he dumps her. Blaze gets her revenge by posting a comic strip featuring uber-villain Mark the Shark. Mark then retaliates by posting her "sext" photo, and, overnight, Blaze goes from Super Virgin Girl to Super Slut. That life on the sidelines is looking pretty good right about now...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

0 Queens, and Why They’re Cool Guest Post by T.D. Thomas

 Queens, and Why They’re Cool

Queens are cool. Often misunderstood and seriously underestimated, queens are tough chicks who do what needs to get done. Don’t believe me? Check out this list of women who weren’t afraid to wield a little power. Or a lot.

1) Queens of Myth
Hera: The queen of badass-ery herself. This chick with a chip on her shoulder has gotten a really bad rap. Sure, she may seem like a major b* with a huge A (attitude), but take a second to think about things from her perspective. She’s stuck with a cheating husband, who finds himself a new lover by the second. She can’t even cheat on him herself, because, well, she’s the goddess of marriage and she’s supposed to be the perfect wife. Those are some solid reasons to be majorly p.o.ed. Hera is the goddess of marriage who can’t even fix her own marriage! Now that’s ironic AND humiliating. No wonder she’s got some anger management issues.
Frigg: Queen of Asgard a.k.a. Thor’s mom! ‘Nuff said. Or is it? Apart from her totally epic son, we tend not to hear too much about Frigg. Or at least we don’t realize it when we do. But Friday is actually named after her: Frigg’s Day. Not bad for a “nobody.” And consider this: when her son Baldur starts having recurring nightmares about his own death and has a celestial meltdown, it’s up to dear old mom to travel the world and ask EVERYTHING ON EARTH not to hurt her son, just so he can feel better. Though the story has a sad ending, Frigg did her best for her son, and that deserves a solid nod for Mom of the Year in my books.
Kali: Queen might not be the most accurate term, but as consort of Shiva (Hindu god of change and destruction), Kali is a chart-topper, regardless of what you call her. “The Black One,” Kali existed before time. Before. Time. That’s pretty impressive. Add to her resume that she’s the Slayer of the demon Bloodseed. Every drop of his blood that fell to the ground would create a perfect duplicate of him, so he was essentially undefeatable. Until he met Kali. She just ate him, and every one of his duplicates too. Talk about a queen-sized appetite.

2) Ancient Queens
Queen of Sheba: Fabulously wealthy, the Queen of Sheba (whose name is Bilqis, Nicaule, Nakuti, or Makeda, depending on whom you ask) is a mystery: not much is known about her, except that she had a weak spot for nerds. She trekked all the way from her kingdom just to see King Solomon, the wisest man on Earth, so she could pepper him with some questions. She was so impressed with his brainpower that she showered him with incredible wealth, including four and a half tons of gold! But she must have been pretty impressive herself, since he returned the favour and gave her everything she desired. Clearly the Queen of Sheba was a woman who knew what she liked and how to get it.
Queen of Carthage: Elissa (also called Dido) was a cunning queen who survived by her quick wits. After her father died and left his kingdom to Elissa and her brother, her brother dethroned her and claimed the kingdom for himself. (Selfish!) If that weren’t enough, he murdered Elissa’s husband to steal his vast wealth. (Greedy!) Fearing that she’d be next on her brother’s hitlist, Elissa lied and told her brother that she’d join him at the palace. (Gullible!) When his servants swung by to pick her and the gold up, Elissa concocted a ghost story so convincing that she was able to persuade her brother’s servants to throw all the bags of gold into the sea to appease her husband’s spirit. This was all a ruse, of course. Elissa had already hidden the gold, and the bags the servants threw into the sea were actually full of sand. Elissa took the gold and fled all the way to Africa, where she used her sob story to convince a local king to give her some land. The king agreed, but he’d only give her as much land as could be encompassed by a single oxhide. So what did Elissa do? She cut the oxhide into thin strips and encircled a huge hill. There, she founded the city of Carthage. From hunted fugitive to self-made queen and city-builder, Elissa’s one weakness was love, and it turned out to be a fatal weakness. But that’s a story for another day.
Empress Wu Zetian: The most controversial queen of ancient times, by far. The one and only Empress of China, Wu is difficult to put in a box. To some, she was simply a self-serving, power-hungry concubine who didn’t know her place. To others, she was a hypocrite, who preached compassion to the masses but used vicious, even sadistic, tactics to terrify and eradicate anyone who stood in her way. Or anyone who was even close to being in her way. Or anyone who could possibly eventually maybe even stumble accidentally into her way at some point in the future. But the truth is probably somewhere in between. Empress Wu was ruthless. She used false accusations, trumped up charges, executions, and even plain murder to get her way. But she was also a gifted ruler: she was sly, smart, and successful, and when it came to handing out promotions, she cared more about a person’s talents than their aristocratic background. In the end, whether you love or you hate Wu is up to you, but there’s no denying that she was a woman on a mission.

3) Modern Queens
Queen Latifah: Okay, not technically a queen. But she’s still pretty amazing: singer, rapper, model, comedian, and actress with over six major awards and eight major nominations. As a woman of colour above size 0, that can’t have been easy to accomplish. And from the looks of it, she shows no signs of slowing down.

Queen Elizabeth II: She’s synonymous with the very term “queen.” Say “the Queen,” and this is the one everyone thinks about. Queen Elizabeth II is a paragon of British stoicism, reigning for 60 years through four wars, countless familial scandals, and the deaths of her parents and sister. Intensely private, she typifies what it is to be a modern monarch, where carefully-scripted public relations have replaced the salacious palace politics of ancient times. The U.N. called her “an anchor for our age,” and it’s hard to imagine a greater compliment than that. Still, I bet there are days when she wishes she could order a solid execution or two.

Queen (the band): Okay, not even remotely an actual queen. But if you were to play a soundtrack to the queens in this list, don’t tell me that “We are the Champions,” “We Will Rock You,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” wouldn’t make the cut. Those songs exemplify a queen’s life: moments of triumph tempered by moments of tragedy. Besides, having sold between 150 million to 300 million albums, Queen has touched and transformed lives around the world, begging the question: in today’s society, are celebrities the new queens?

That concludes my list of queens. I’m sure you can all think of others. Here’s a thought: why not write your own story about one? I did.

-T.D. Thomas,
Author of “Hera, Queen of Gods”


When he's not battling to save Azeroth from its latest calamity, T.D. Thomas lives with six of his closest friends in a tiny house in the frosty north known as Canada. There, they are all ruled over by a little white dog named Teo, who firmly believes he's a reincarnated Egyptian pharaoh and demands to be treated as such. T.D.'s favourite things include personal space, temperatures above 0 degrees Celsius (he’s heard those exist), and cats who don't take guff from pretentious little white dogs.


Blurb: “Hera, Queen of Gods”

The Fates are missing.

Hera has no choice but to lead a handful of gods to the human world to search for the missing goddesses, even though it means giving up her powers and temporarily becoming mortal. But mortality begins to change Hera in unexpected ways, and it gets much worse after she meets Justin, a boy who defies every prejudice she once had about mortals. Torn between who she's becoming and who she needs to be in order to fulfill her duty, Hera must survive a horde of murderous creatures sent to exploit her new weakness.

In the end, only she can stop a traitorous plot conceived by a secret alliance of ancient and new enemies, a plot that threatens to destroy not only the order Hera is sworn to protect, but all of existence itself.

Friday, January 25, 2013

0 Review: Judgment of Proteus

Title: Judgement of Proteus (Quadrail #5)
Author: Timothy Zahn
Publisher: Tor Books
Published: June 5, 2012
Hardcover, 416 pages
ISBN13: 9780765322135
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Publisher

Goodreads Summary:
In Timothy Zahn's Judgment at Proteus, the Quadrail that connects the twelve civilizations of our galaxy has been the flashpoint of a battle for dominance fought mostly unnoticed by humankind. But Frank Compton of Earth, aided by the enigmatic woman Bayta, has fought on the front lines, using every bit of his human ingenuity and secret agent skills to outwit the Modhri, a group intelligence that would control the minds of every sentient being it can touch.
Following a trail of deception and death to Proteus Station, Compton has discovered a conspiracy that threatens all life in the galaxy: the Shonkla’raa, an ancient enemy thought to be long dead, is rising again. So serious is the danger that the Modhri, the enemy of his enemy, may now be his friend, as the burgeoning threat of a race of invincible soldiers emerges.
If Compton and Bayta can’t stop them, the Shonkla’raa will decimate all who oppose them, destroying the Quadrail and billions of lives throughout the galaxy.

My thoughts:
I have been a Timothy Zahn fan since the first moment I picked up Heir to the Empire, the first of his Star Wars novels. So when I got the chance to read Judgment at Proteus, I was overjoyed. The Quadrail series finale does not disappoint. The Quadrail is an intergalactic train of sorts that connects the twelve civilizations of our galaxy. The story is an amalgamation of spy novel that happens along with a railway murder mystery as told by a Noir detective in a sci-fi setting. That seems like a lot going on, but it works wonderfully because of the writing of Zahn. The characters are well written and fully developed.
Frank Compton is the main character. He is a former government worker from Earth and is the detective/ spy that the story is told through. He has a partner/friend, Bayta, who has a telepathic relay with the Spiders that run the Quadrail. They are escorting Terese German, a human who seems to have great significance, to Proteus Station, a research facility run by the Filiaelians. The Filiaelians are one of the major species in the galaxy and also believed to contain a group called the Shonkla’raa who are the original masters of the Modhri, a group-mind that controls a mind and assimilates it to the collective.
There is murder, deception, political intrigue, investigations, and action galore. I have not read the first four books of the Quadrail series but plan to after devouring this one. The fact that I had not read the others did not hinder me. Zahn gives just enough backstory to leave you informed without taking away from the present. This story flows well, is fast paced and will leave you wanting more. I can’t wait to read the rest of the Quadrail series. This book should be on your to read list.

My rating:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

1 Q&A with Ryshia Kennie

1. Please tell our readers about Fatal Intent.

Fatal Intent is a romantic suspense that is one of my favourite of all my stories because writing it brought back beautiful memories of a trip into the Borneo rain forest. Fortunately, there was no death or deception on the real trip. In the world of Fatal Intent, it’s a different matter.
Fatal Intent is the story of entomologist, Garrett Cole, who has finally secured the lead role in a coveted excursion into the Borneo Jungle. But the excursion ends abruptly with the discovery of their guide, dead and headless. In the middle of the Borneo rain forest with neither guide nor map, she’s terrified and desperate and determined to her to get her team to safety.
Raised in the lush cradle of the Borneo jungle, Aidan is as unconventional as the fact that he has no last name. While the city is home, he returns often to the jungle for peace and solitude. As a PI he’s seen a lot but he’s not prepared for the group he finds, obviously lost and towing their dead guide behind them. It’s a situation that demands answers, answers he’s determined to get. But in a convoluted trek that he imposes in a bid for truth, he instead finds himself in a clash of wills with the group’s alluring leader and answers that slide dangerously close to the tribe he loves.
But despite clashing points of view and dangerous intrigue, in the torrid heat of the jungle, they find unexpected solace in each others arms. But can their fledgling romance survive the treachery that is folding around them?
There are no answers, only the truth – that in a game of wits, no one can be trusted!

2. How is Fatal Intent different from your previous novels?

Fatal Intent is different from my two previous novels in that it is a romantic suspense. It is also the first novel that I set in a place where I’d traveled. My first novel, From the Dust, was set at home, in depression era Saskatchewan and my second novel, Ring of Desire, was a stretch of the imagination from the era to even the place, the southern tip of England in a village that never existed. So setting a story in a real place that I couldn’t embellish with my imagination and where I’d only briefly traveled to, was a challenge. While in Borneo, I learned quickly to speak to the locals, whether the guide, the hotel clerk or the vendor on the street, and found that gave me a more accurate sense of culture than my own impressions alone. In a way it was much like speaking with prairie seniors to get a feeling for the great depression for From the Dust. They were people who had experienced a place like I never could.

3. What were some of the challenges your faced when writing this novel?

Writing Fatal Intent was challenging in that I was combining the elements of a suspense, a fledgling romance and plunking it all within the complexity of the jungle. I soon learned that maneuvering through a jungle, despite having visited one, was more difficult than getting through an urban environment where I was at least familiar. You can’t count arriving as a tourist and making short treks into the jungle as experience for navigating for days through a rain forest. But that’s exactly what I had to do to facilitate Aidan getting Garrett and her team out of the jungle. I had to map out where they would trek and how long it would take and what obstacles they might face. Google maps cluttered my desktop. My critique partner was the one who suggested I needed to get off the computer and take a pen and draw a map and once I did that – the challenge of writing them out of the jungle became much easier.

4. What do you do when you're not writing?

When I’m not writing I love to travel either to another country or between the pages of a good book.

5. Who would you rather be lost in a jungle with:
A. Aidan from Fatal Intent
B. Giles from Ring of Desire
C. Tate from From the Dust

Definitely A – Aidan is not only gorgeous but he knows his way around the jungle. Giles might be hot but his medieval mentality would have him swinging his sword at every little noise and probably manage to annoy some of the locals ie. a monitor or two. I suspect he might not be as patient with some of Garrett’s team either. Tate on the other hand, being a veterinarian, would probably be attempting to repair the damage inflicted from Giles’ sword by seeing which creature needed a bandage or two and I doubt if he could have found his way out of the jungle. Although he would be much more patient with Garrett’s team. Yes, Garrett’s team is an eclectic group who tend to get on the nerves of even the most easy-going individual. But I suspect Tate would have been the only one who of the three who wouldn’t lose his temper with them. Seriously, both Giles and Tate while definitely characters I’d spend time with, just aren’t jungle material.

6. Where is your favorite place to read? 

My favourite place to read is – you know I stumbled on that. I love to read pretty much anywhere. I’ll read while waiting for an appointment, on a plane or on my couch. It might be easier to say what’s not my favourite place to read, that would be riding in a car. I get car sick if I look down to long which becomes challenging if I’m trying to match up what the tourist brochure says against which direction the GPS is insisting we go.

7. What's next for you? 

Well, I write both romantic suspense and women’s fiction and I often will have one of each going at the same time. I like the idea that when you hit a snag with one you can move to something completely different. Right now I’m thinking about setting a suspense in Arizona but that story isn’t completely plotted out. And of course, there’s a suspense that keeps reminding me it needs a middle and an end – that one is a story of stolen identity, a flight across the globe and a frightened woman now undercover in Malaysia. I’m excited about both stories and not sure which to jump into first. But while I mull those two over, I’m working on another story that has me pretty excited. The idea of it began with an unexpected call from a friend and a tour through a house she was interested in purchasing which happened to be a hoarder’s house. From that came the story I’m now working on. I’m in the midst of revising the story about a woman whose life unexpectedly intersects that of a hoarder after she buys a house that is still full of many of the hoarder’s possessions.

8. What are you reading right now? 

I just received Ken Follett’s “Winter of the World” as a gift. I completely love his historical novels because they are so rich and layered. With the temperatures diving to the negative double digits I can hardly wait to haul out a blanket and curl up on the couch and get lost in the story.

9. Are you a dog or a cat person?

I’m a dog person but only because I have a slight allergy to cats. But I love animals of all kinds and have even been known to have a ferret. Although the ferret, if he wasn’t bathed regularly, made me sneeze. As a result, he was probably the cleanest ferret around. Now I have to draw the line – one dog. And that might not be my rule but possibly one spunky Irish Terrier – Rourke, who I suspect has no desire to share his couch.

10. What is your favorite thing to do when it rains? 

Depends if it’s a warm rain or a cold rain. A light, warm summer rain is kind of nice to be outside in, refreshing really. But a fall rain, one that’s flirting with the edges of snow – then I want to be inside bundled up and warm.

Author Bio:
Ryshia Kennie is the author of two published romances.  From the Dust, is a romance set during the Great Depression.  Her second book, Ring of Desire, was set against a backdrop of magic and mystery, in medieval England.  An award winning author, her recent novels now focus on  suspense and women’s fiction – always with a hint or even a dollop, of romance. The Canadian prairies are home where she lives with her husband and one opinionated Irish Terrier.  Visit her website at

Fatal Intent is available at B&N for Nook and also available at Amazon, in the iBookstore, on Smashwords, All Romance Ebooks, and Kobo.
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2 Review: Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George

Title: Princess of the Silver Woods (Princess #3)
Author: Jessica Day George
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Published: December 11, 2012
ebook, arc
ISBN13: 9781599906461
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Source: NetGalley

Goodreads Summary:
When Petunia, the youngest of King Gregor's twelve dancing daughters, is invited to visit an elderly friend in the neighboring country of Westfalin, she welcomes the change of scenery. But in order to reach Westfalin, Petunia must pass through a forest where strange two-legged wolves are rumored to exist. Wolves intent on redistributing the wealth of the noble citizens who have entered their territory. But the bandit-wolves prove more rakishly handsome than truly dangerous, and it's not until Petunia reaches her destination that she realizes the kindly grandmother she has been summoned to visit is really an enemy bent on restoring an age-old curse. The stories of Red Riding Hood and Robin Hood get a twist as Petunia and her many sisters take on bandits, grannies, and the new King Under Stone to end their family curse once and for all.

My thoughts:
Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George is the third book in the Twelve Dancing Princess books. I've not read the first two yet. I plan to rectify this oversight soon. I've read a few books by Jessica Day George, and I have enjoyed every one of them. I love fairy tales retold, and I couldn't resist this one either. If you've not read the first two book in this trilogy then rest easy. I didn't have any problems following along with the story line.
Petunia (all the daughters are named after flowers) is the youngest of the twelve princesses. She's overprotected by her father and sisters. On her way to visit a friend, she is abducted by the bandit-wolves. However Petunia isn't as delicate as everyone thinks she is. The bandit-wolves aren't the only danger to her; the King Under Stone has some cunning plans of his own.
I really enjoyed this story. As said in the summary it's a mixture of Red Riding Hood and Robin Hood. I liked all the characters, even the evil ones. Jessica Day George is an excellent story teller, and this book is no exception. I can't wait to go back and read the first two books, Princess of Glass and Princess of the Midnight Ball.
My rating:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

3 Review: Summerset Abbey and Give@way

Title: Summerset Abbey
Author: T.J. Brown
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Published: January 15, 2013
ebook, arc
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Source: NetGalley and RockStar Book Tours

1913: In a sprawling manor on the outskirts of London, three young women seek to fulfill their destinies and desires amidst the unspoken rules of society and the distant rumblings of war. . . .
Rowena Buxton
Sir Philip Buxton raised three girls into beautiful and capable young women in a bohemian household that defied Edwardian tradition. Eldest sister Rowena was taught to value people, not wealth or status. But everything she believes will be tested when Sir Philip dies, and the girls must live under their uncle’s guardianship at the vast family estate, Summerset Abbey. Standing up for a beloved family member sequestered to the “under class” in this privileged new world, and drawn into the Cunning Coterie, an exclusive social circle of aristocratic “rebels,” Rowena must decide where her true passions—and loyalties—lie.
Victoria Buxton
Frail in body but filled with an audacious spirit, Victoria secretly dreams of attending university to become a botanist like her father. But this most unladylike wish is not her only secret. Now, Victoria has stumbled upon a family scandal that, if revealed, has the potential to change lives forever…

Prudence Tate
Prudence was lovingly brought up alongside Victoria and Rowena, and their bond is as strong as blood. But by birth she is a governess’s daughter, and to the lord of Summerset Abbey, that makes her a commoner who must take her true place in society—as ladies maid to her beloved “sisters.” But Pru doesn’t belong in the downstairs world of the household staff any more than she belongs upstairs with the Buxton girls. And when a young lord catches her eye, she begins to wonder if she’ll ever truly carve out a place for herself at Summerset Abbey…

My thoughts:
Summerset Abbey by T.J. Brown is the first book in a new series. It's very reminiscent of Downton Abbey. There are quite a bit of characters, but it's not confusing. The story mainly centers around three young women, Rowena, Victoria, and Prudence. Rowena and Victoria are sisters, and Prudence was raised as if she were her sister. However Prudence is the daughter of Victoria and Rowena's former governess. After the sudden death of the girls' father they are forced to live with an uncle. Previously the girls were raised by a very liberal, forward-thinking man. Now they must endure living with a very strict, traditional-minded family. While Victoria and Rowena are welcomed with open arms, Prudence is forced to live as a maid. However she remains loyal and bonded to her sisters.
I really enjoy reading books from this time period right now, Summerset Abbey is no exception. I was hooked from the very beginning, and didn't want it to end. All though the book focused on the three girls, I would say Prudence was the main character in this book. There's a mystery that surrounds her throughout the book, and I couldn't rest until I found out what it was. I enjoyed the bond the sisters have, as well as their different personalities. The story line was captivating. I think Brown did an excellent job portraying the snobbery of the upper class, but also pride of the lower class. Prudence especially has a tough time in this book, because she doesn't quite belong in either world. I fell in love with the characters, and I feel invested in their fictional lives. This is a book I didn't want to end, and I can't wait for the next book in this series
If you enjoy historical fiction, Downton Abbey, mystery, and romance. This book is for you!

My rating:
A Bloom In Winter (Summerset Abbey #2) March 5, 2013 (

Spring Awakening (Summerset Abbey #3) August 6, 2013 (

About the Author
TJ Brown is passionate about books, writing, history, dachshunds and mojitos. If she could go back in time, she would have traveled back to England, 1910, Paris, 1927 or Haight-Ashbury, 1967. She resides in the burbs of Portlandia, where she appreciates the weirdness, the microbreweries, hoodies, Voodoo Donuts and the rain. 

Check out other stops on the tour:
January 21st - Chapter by Chapter - Guest Post
January 22nd - To Read or Not To Read - Review
January 23rd - In the Next Room - Interview/Q&A
January 24th - The Reading Date - Review
January 25th - Snowdrop Dreams of Books - Guest Post

TJ Brown has offered to give one of our readers a chance to win an autographed copy of her book. This giveaway is open to US addresses only. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

2 Jen Minkman Q&A and Give@way

I am happy to have Jen Minkman, author of Shadow of Time, to stop by today and answer a few questions. She has also offered to giveaway an e-copy of her book to a lucky reader. To enter, fill out the rafflecopter form below.

About the bookAll 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.

1. Please tell us about Shadow of Time.

Shadow of Time is a romantic story with a paranormal/spiritual edge, set in the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. The book was originally written in Dutch (and will be published in Holland by a publishing house in Sept 2013), and was translated and re-worked by me for release in the U.S.

2. What inspired you to write about the Navajos?

When I finished reading 'New Moon' by Stephenie Meyer, I was so frustrated that Jacob and Bella didn't end up together! The whole story had me captivated, and the fact that Bella and Jacob were so good together but weren't meant to end up together, inspired me to write a love story where the male lead would be Native American and would have a happy ending with the girl in the book. While researching possible settings for the story, I picked the Navajos because of what I already knew about them (their art and their prayer 'In Beauty May I Walk'.

3. What challenges did you come across while writing this book?

The biggest challenge of all was that I have never been to the U.S. so basically, I was writing a story set in a country I had never seen myself. That meant a lot of research, especially into the Native American culture - you wouldn't believe how many books I have read about their culture, history, language and religion. I was driving everyone around me mad by having a 'Navajo anecdote' for each and every occasion!

4. Hannah is plagued with nightmares. Have you ever experienced anything like that?

I have never really experienced frequent and horrible nightmares, but I have sometimes felt scared in the dark - I could totally imagine someone almost losing her mind because of terrible dreams that seem very real.

5. Is Shadow of Time a stand alone book, or are you planning a sequel?

All my books are stand-alone books so far. I am not planning a sequel, but who knows what the future might bring?

6. What's next for you?

My next book 'The Boy From The Woods' will come out in Holland in 2014. If I want to publish it in the U.S. I will have to do the translation myself, so I'm gathering courage for that daunting task! It's one heck of a job, but in the end, totally worth it. :)

7. What book are you currently reading?

A Dutch paranormal thriller called 'Buiten Zinnen' ('Out of Her Mind') and a book about near-death experiences by Chris Carter (no, not the guy who created the X-files, but a scientist with the same name!).

8. What's on your bedside table?

Patrick Wolf's latest CD. I went to his concert in Amsterdam, which was absolutely fantastic. He's a singer/songwriter from South London and he plays at least 6 different instruments. I also have a glass of water in case I get thirsty, and 'The End of Mr. Y' by Scarlett Thomas, which has been on my to-read list for quite a while now.

9. Do you have any hobbies?

So many I hardly have time to keep up with all of them! I play the piano, the guitar, and the viola, I write songs, stories, poems and books, I paint and I love traveling with my husband or my sister (my two travel buddies). I also love reading.

10. Did you make any New Years Resolutions? 

Yeah, the usual suspects: more excercise, less junk food, more time for myself (and my writing!).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, January 20, 2013

1 Check out the next book in the Silver Series and enter to win a copy!

Hunter, the sixth book of the Silver Series, is about Dray, a werewolf who feels trapped and alone in his small farming town. Dray’s world is shaken when a cute girl shows up the same time as a vengeful wild werewolf pack. With Jaze’s help, Dray fights to protect his town, but when Jaze is in trouble, Dray puts everything on the line to help the werewolves who changed his life.

Hunter is about finding the courage to step into the unknown. It is a story of risking life for love, and discovering the truth about one’s self in the heart of adversity.

About the author: Cheree Alsop is the mother of a beautiful, talented daughter and amazing twin sons who fill every day with light and laughter. She married her best friend, Michael, who changes lives each day in his Chiropractic clinic. Cheree is currently working as an independent author and mother. She enjoys reading, riding her motorcycle on warm nights, and rocking her twins while planning her next book. She is also a bass player for her husband’s garage band.

Cheree and Michael live in Utah where they rock out, enjoy the outdoors, plan great adventures, and never stop dreaming.

For Cheree’s other books, go to

Check out these other sites for more information or to purchase her books:
Amazon for paperback & ebook:
Barnes&Noble for ebook:
Smashwords for all ebook formats:

Cheree has generously offered to give three of my readers an e-copy of her latest book, Hunter. To enter you must be at least 13 years old. This giveaway is open internationally. Good luck! 

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

0 Random Thoughts

If you've followed this blog for awhile then you probably know about my love for all things Jane Austen. So when I stumbled across the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, I was pleasantly surprised. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a modern-day retelling of Pride and Prejudice where Lizzie is basically vlogging about her life. Each episode lasts approximately 4-6 minutes. After I watched the first few episodes I was hooked. I never have been one to watch a lot of vlogs, but I think this is a great way to introduce new readers to the wonderful world of Jane Austen.

Friday, January 18, 2013

0 What Would You Do?...

What Would You Do?...
Imagine finding out a terrible secret about someone you deeply care about. Something that could very well land that person in prison. Only, you don’t quite have all the facts, and well, you and that other person haven’t exactly been on the best of terms lately. Would you blab everything to get it off your conscience, or would you keep that secret under wraps — even if it led to your own psychological torment?

That’s the question we set out to explore in our new novel, Exposure, which was inspired by William Shakespeare’s dark and twisted play, Macbeth. The heroine of our novel, Skye Kingston, learns a damning bit of information about Craig MacKenzie, the most popular guy in school on whom she harbors a colossal crush. While re-interpreting Shakespeare’s bloody and macabre masterpiece for a modern-era was certainly a challenge,  we also found ourselves tested by a few of the characters we devised. In striving to keep them as human and realistic as possible, we ended up creating characters as fallible as they are loveable. At times, we felt a strong kinship with Skye and Craig, while in other instances, we wanted to grab them by the shoulders and shake some sense into them. But isn’t that a bit like life? People can’t always be counted on to make good choices, and emotion often trumps rational thinking in the heat of the moment. Do the characters in our novel resist falling into the same downward spiral Shakespeare spelled out for his murderous Scotsman? We hope you’ll read the book to find out!

Kim Askew and Amy Helmes are the authors of Tempestuous: A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Exposure: A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Find out more about their books at

Thursday, January 17, 2013

0 Review: The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories 2 by Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Wirrow

Title: The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Volume 2.
Author: Jospeh Gordon-Levitt & Wirrow
Publisher: It Books
Published: November 13, 2012
Hardcover, 127 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-21263-9
Genre: Fiction
Source: Publisher

Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, Looper, 500 Days of Summer) made a big splash with The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories - so now he’s back with volume 2! One of the most ingenious and successful projects to come out of Gordon-Levitt's online creative coalition hitRECord - an international collaboration of artists and writers - The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 2 offers more quirky, delightfully small, ingeniously illustrated haiku-like tales, proving once more that the universe isn’t made of atoms; it’s made of tiny stories. The best things do come in small packages.

My thoughts:
Last year I had the privilege of reading and reviewing The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Vol. 1. I fell in love with it. So I was really excited when volume 2 came out. The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories is a charming collection of short stories that is told through art and verse. Joseph Gordon-Levitt works with thousands of entries to come up with this unique little book. On the back of the book there's a quote, "The universe is not made up of atoms; it's made of tiny stories." I think this quote describes the book perfectly. If you've not had the opportunity to experience the tiny stories yet, you need to. I've read through the book multiple times already, and I love it. It's amazing how a story can be told in so few words. Check out this website to  preview some of the tiny stories.

My rating:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

1 Review: The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart by

Title: The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart (Magic Most Foul)
Author: Leanna Renee Hieber
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Published: November 1, 2012
ebook, arc
ISBN13: 9781402262036
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Source: NetGalley

Goodreads Summary:
I'm coming for you.
The whispers haunt her dreams and fill her waking hours with dread. Something odd is happening. Something...unnatural.
Possession of the living. Resurrection of the dead. And Natalie Stewart is caught right in the middle. Jonathon, the one person she thought she could trust, has become a double agent for the dark side. But he plays the part so well, Natalie has to wonder just how much he's really acting.
She can't even see what it is she's fighting. But the cost of losing her heart, her sanity...her soul.

My thoughts:
The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart is the second book to the Magic Most Foul series. This book picks up literally where the last one left off. Natalie and Jonathan are on a train trying to escape the demons that plague them. However in running away they come face to face with what they were trying to escape in the first place. Natalie and Jonathan are torn into two different directions, and must learn to trust each other.
This is a good book, but I didn't like it as much as Darker Still. Natalie and Jonathan have come a long way since the beginning, I like the chemistry between the two characters. I also like how the relationship between Natalie and her father is evolving.  Hieber brings back the creepy and demonic atmosphere that Darker Still possessed, and manages to explore the mysterious attributes of people with a 'gift'. This is definitely an intriguing series that will keep you interested from beginning to end.
My thoughts:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

0 Don't Panic-It Will Only Attract Sharks! Review: Etiquette For The End of the World by Jeanne Martinet

Title: Etiquette for the End of the World
Author: Jeanne Martinet
Publisher: Jeanne Martinet
Published: August 14, 2012
ebook, approx 278 pages
ISBN13: 9780615683416
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: NetGalley

Goodreads Summary:

A romantic comedy of post-millennial manners, apocalyptic career moves, and a woman’s last chance to get life right…


It’s not the end of the world. That’s what 39-year-old Tess Eliot has to remind herself after losing her newspaper column (“Tess Knows Best”) and being dumped by her boyfriend for a younger woman (a feng shui expert? Really?). Then Tess is hired to write an etiquette guide preparing readers for the Ancient Mayan doomsday of December 21, 2012, and she has to ask herself: Could the world really be coming to an end? At first, Tess fakes her way through chapters like “Boundaries in the Bunker” and “Cannibalism: Yes or No?” But after uncovering a secret plot for world destruction, she is forced to embark on a life-changing odyssey of her own—involving all-too-close encounters with touchy-feely survivalists, conspiracy theorists and one handsome guy who seems way too perfect.

My thoughts:
This book is a case of cover love for me. That is, I loved the cover so much that it enticed me to read this book (the book summary didn't hurt either). Look at it! If the end of the world is happening why not put on a fancy dress and pearls? I totally would do that!
Tess Elliot has had a run of bad luck -- from losing her job to losing her boyfriend. Because she doesn't have anything left to lose, including money, she takes on a job writing a 'survival manual' for the end of the world from a doomsday cult of sorts. Tess is skeptical about the group, but her skepticism turns into paranoia when she uncovers a plot for the destruction of life as we know it.
If Tess's book Etiquette for the End of the World were actually a book, I would read it. Throughout this book are excerpts from the 'guide', and it was hilarious! I had some laugh out loud moments throughout this book. Martinet does a great job with mixing humor and mystery in Etiquette For The End Of The World. I especially liked the main character, Tess Eliot. At the beginning of the book she doubts herself and her abilities. Her character changes throughout the book due to the events that surround her. She grows more confident, and self assured. While this book definitely had some great moments, I wasn't overly wowed by the plot. It was good, just not great.Even though the book was a little predictable, I still enjoyed reading it.
Overall, this is a fun book to read. I would recommend it to anyone who likes quirky, but an enjoyable book.
My rating:

Monday, January 14, 2013

3 Q&A with Mike Romeling

1. Please tell our readers about, Tale of Taconic Mountains.

My novel was released first as a e-book early last year and then more recently as a paperback.  Right now I am narrating the book to have it released as a audio book as well, hopefully in the next couple months.
It is a cross-genre book with elements of mystery, suspense, paranormal, and perhaps more humor than usually found within these genres.
I have lived in the Taconic Mountains myself for most of my adult life, and when considering where to place the novel—which has paranormal elements within it—it occurred to me that I could place it right here in what are among the very oldest mountains on earth, and where all the legends and lore of the New England Mountains have passed down through the generations by other writers like Poe and Hawthorne, Bierce and Lovecraft. It seemed like a natural extension and a setting I could handle well from personal experience.

2. Which character was your favorite to write?

Amber Steele probably gets the nod. When the town of Cedar Falls is being besieged by thousands of displaced bats, the PETA people bring Amber—a soap opera star—into town to help promote non-violence toward the marauding bats. She was to have just a minor mention in the chapter, but I felt maybe I should give her a bit of background. Instead, it was like Amber leaped off the page and took me on a ride back into her harrowing and disturbed childhood and on through her early years as a stripper before her soap opera career. By the time the chapter was finished, I remember sitting slack-jawed wondering what the hell had just happened.  A reviewer of the book kindly asserted he liked the book, "Not just because it contains what I believe is the definitive stripper memory sequence in American Letters, but because the tale satisfied everything I look for in fiction."  I hope he is right :>)

3. Which character gave you the most trouble?

 I've always thought it's much easier to handle characters with obvious faults, darknesses, foibles, insecurities, etc., but more difficult to render a believable "nice guy/girl".  I guess in this novel, the Sheriff, trying to manage the growing drama in the dying town and up on the mysterious mountain, would be the "straight arrow" but I hope I gave him enough edge to keep him from being merely bland and/or unbelievable.

4. You're also a singer-songwriter, how has music influenced your writing?

The songwriting end of it has been helpful in promoting economy of expression and consistency of focus.  And of course it has brought me into contact with many interesting folks both among the musicians I've worked with and the audiences who have attended shows. In late years, I've cut way down on performing live and concentrated more on writing and recording projects. But I still stream a live show every week into the virtual world of Second Life which keeps me in touch with some great folks from many parts of the world.

5. What projects are you working on now?

Besides the narration of "Tale of the Taconic Mountains," I have been very busy with two recording projects. And the possibility of a sequel to the novel is never far from my mind.  Most of the time I think it will happen.  Just need the day to be a little longer.

6. What sort of Starbucks coffee would your characters order?

 In a small town like Cedar Falls, I suspect most of the characters would—much like me—be too bewildered by the myriad of choices and simply order the house blend. But the more urban characters such as Anna Kilgallen or Amber Steele might opt for the French Roast or the Kona Blend. There is more than one character in the book who would be well advised to order the Decaf.

7.  What's on your desk?

Right this minute my calico cat is taking up much of the desk and will probably remain until I turn on the noisy printer at which point she will flee in terror.  Besides the cat, the computer (a Mac), and the printer, there is a box of kleenex, a James Taylor and Carol King CD I borrowed from the library, a penny (hope it's lucky), a USB miniature Christmas tree that flashes pretty colors on and off, and a goose-neck lamp with a paperweight on it because otherwise it's always tipping over. And finally a small wicker basket full of pens, most of which don't work of course.

8.  What is the most challenging think about being a writer?

It's definitely getting up every day and wondering if you can do it again. So far, so good—at least most of the time.

9. What's the last book you've read?

 A British mystery writer named Anne Perry writes a mystery novella each year with a Christmas setting. I've made it a tradition in recent years to read one of them around the holidays. This year it was "AChristmas Grace" set in a stormy fishing village on the west coast of Ireland. Currently I am reading "Edge of Taos—an escape to reality" by Mabel Dodge Luhan. She was a discontented New York City socialite who moved out to Taos, New Mexico in the early 20th century, married a Native American and remained there for the rest of her life. My daughter lives and works in Taos and bought me this book for Christmas. I'm about half way through, and it's been a great read.

10. Did you make any New Year's resolutions?

I always make resolutions
But they offer me no solutions
Bad habits remain
So there's little to gain
By harboring any illusions

Thanks Marcie for inviting me to interview. It's been a pleasure to share some thoughts and ideas with your readers.

About the author: Mike is a freelance writer and singer-songwriter from upstate New York. His first novel “Tale of the Taconic Mountains” was released in 2012.  He lives and often rambles through the very mountains where the novel is placed.  But since writing it, he takes care to return home before scary darkness falls.
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Taconic Mountain available at Amazon | Barnes and Noble | ebookit


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