Thursday, July 31, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: "A Thousand Pieces" by Ian J. Keeney

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Life is filled with difficulties, but for married power couple James and Kelly, things can only get worse before they get better.
Their four-year-old daughter, Alyssa, has battled cancer, their marriage is falling apart and James in particular is sinking into depression. But when Alyssa is kidnapped, the estranged couple must join together to save their child before it's too late.

Ian J. Keeney has been a part of very meaningful pieces of art, most notably the eye-opening film The Meaning. His work is an introspection of the human race. While The Meaning deals with religion, A Thousand Pieces deals with human nature at its worst.
One quarter of the novel is a mystery, one quarter is a love story, and the other half is pure introspection and theorizing about how humans could be so cruel as to cook a kitten in a microwave or kidnap a little girl.
It's not a long essay for a sociology or psychology class, however. It's a well-written mystery story that just happens to be about human nature at it's not-so-subtle core.
I enjoyed this book thoroughly; read it with avidity. The characters' respective narrations showcase their disparate personalities and what they think of themselves, their significant other, and the world in general. The reader, if they don't find their own opinions echoed, may find themselves enlightened about their own lives.
Happiness, love and balance can only be found within and when you work for them, and this book teaches that, as well as it just reconfirms that evil people exist, good can overcome if you want it too.
You don't need a Hollywood movie ending, you just need to do the very best that you can.

5/5--insightful and entertaining!

Purchase A Thousand Pieces via:

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Barnes and Noble

Google Books

Goodreads

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

BLOG TOUR: "Painting The Moon" by Traci Borum; Review & Interview

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EXCERPT:

Chapter One

 

 The moment she saw the letter, she knew. The London postmark gave it away.  

 Noelle set down her keys and coffee, deciding to abandon the rest of her Saturday errands. She needed to take this letter to the ocean. She couldn’t read it here, standing over junk mail and bills.

 She kicked off her sandals and walked down the steps of her beach house, grateful for San Diego’s mild weather even in mid-October. And grateful she wouldn’t have to walk far, with the ocean practically at her doorstep.

 When she picked her usual spot at the water’s edge and sat down, the foamy water crept toward her toes like long, greedy fingers then slinked back again. Noelle always sought the ocean during troubling moments—craved the sea air on her face, the tinge of salt on her tongue, the comforting swoosh of powerful waves. But sometimes, even the sea couldn’t keep her from feeling hollow. Stranded and alone.

 She’d already torn the envelope’s seal on her way down the steps. Opening the letter, she noticed the date, wondering why the news had taken two whole weeks to reach her.

 

 Dear Ms. Cooke,  

 We regret to inform you of the unfortunate passing of Ms. Joy Valentine.

 

 Great Aunt Joy had died alone in that cottage.

 Noelle stared deep into the ocean as tears stung her eyes. Everything had gone quiet: the crash of waves, even the faint tapping of a neighbor’s roof being re-shingled two doors down. All silent.

 In the dull gray sky above the ocean, Noelle could see almost slideshow-like, vivid images of her great aunt. Her thin-lipped, lopsided smile; wiry, gray hair secured by a pencil into a makeshift bun; deep wrinkles around her mouth and eyes from decades of smoking. And next, flashes of summers spent in England with her and Gram—white-haired and soft-spoken, the opposite of her sister. Those women had taught Noelle to paint, to enjoy literature, to savor life. Her surrogate mothers, she always called them. Now both gone, the end of an era.

 Noelle shivered and wished she’d brought a sweater. It always seemed colder at the water’s edge. Brushing away a tear, she returned to the letter, skimming for more detail. She stopped at this:

 

As Ms. Valentine’s only living relative, you have hereby been named executor and sole heir of the estate. Please contact our office for further details.

 

 Sole heir. Noelle considered what that might entail. Her aunt’s modest cottage nestled in a village in the Cotswolds, Chilton Crosse. And the art gallery! Noelle hadn’t stepped inside in fourteen years, since she was seventeen. If she concentrated, she could still smell the pungent turpentine and old, musty wood that greeted her when she opened the door. The back room had served as a working gallery, where artists set up and painted while visitors wandered quietly, gazing at masterpieces-in-progress. Occasionally, Aunt Joy even participated. But that was before her sudden retreat into obscurity. Noelle recalled the scandal of that winter, a decade ago, with perfect clarity. Online articles screamed out the embarrassing headlines: Famous Cotswold Artist Has Monster Meltdown; Storms out of Art Show.

 No one ever knew what happened, never discovered the trigger that had caused Aunt Joy’s breakdown and subsequent retreat into reclusiveness. Noelle had tried to call her, write her, but the dozens of letters went unanswered. She didn’t know whether her aunt had even received them, or whether Joy had tired of all the probing questions: “Are you okay? I’m worried… why won’t you return my calls?” Joy finally sent one brief letter to Noelle, assuring her she was fine, but that she wanted—needed—to be left alone. She asked that Noelle respect her wishes and her privacy. And so she had.

 Restless, Noelle rose and brushed the sand off her jeans. She needed to go inside, make a cup of tea, and banish the chill.

 She headed back to the house with the letter, thinking about Joy’s funeral, wondering if it had been a media circus, with paparazzi descending on the unimposing village to fill the inches in their columns the next day. Or perhaps the church was almost empty, her aunt a forgotten figure even in her own community. In either case, Noelle wished she’d been there. And more than that, she wished she’d made contact with her aunt before she died. Just one more time.

 She maneuvered her way toward the kitchen through the maze of stacked-up boxes—surely, her roommate, Casey, would retrieve them next week after the honeymoon. But something caught Noelle’s eye. The painting above the mantel, one that had been there for years, one she’d strolled past a thousand times.

 Now, though, she couldn’t look at anything else. She drew closer and clicked on a nearby light to study the painting’s detail. One of Aunt Joy’s creations, given to Noelle on her fourteenth birthday—a seaside painting of England’s Cornwall coast. She touched the edge of the frame and peered at the canvas. A white-blond little girl stood at the cliffs, staring into the ocean and holding a broad-brimmed hat, its ribbon floating in the wind. Noelle could almost hear the bluish-gray water crash against the rocks as she looked beyond the little girl, into the endless sea.

 Joy explained it that day, as a teenaged Noelle tore the gold wrapping paper. “The little girl in the painting, that’s you on your very first visit to us. I think you were five. I knew how frightened you were, being in England with virtual strangers. But the moment we took you to the sea, to Cornwall, you responded. You seemed calm, at home. And I wanted to paint you that way. To freeze you in time.”

 Noelle took a few steps back to sit on the couch, to wish herself into the painting. To those summers spent in England, where everything remained safe, intact.

 Not that she didn’t appreciate her life now. But lately, she’d become… stilted. Uneasy. An unfulfilling job, a stagnant social life, where she only played a role of herself, a pretend version. But those precious English summers centered her, brought out her genuine self. And she craved that again more than ever.

 

* * * *

 

 On Monday morning, Noelle brushed out her honey-blond bangs and gave them a spray, planning what to say to the lawyer, Mr. Lester. She needed to phone his office before work, over a quick breakfast. Last night before bed, she’d done the math in her head, taking time zones into account. 8:00 a.m. San Diego equaled 4:00 p.m. London.

 She stood in the kitchen with her back against the countertop and slathered cream cheese onto a bagel. Knowing that Casey was married, truly gone, gave the house a specific emptiness. Especially since Noelle hadn’t found a roommate to replace her yet.

 She took a bite and dialed the number of the London firm. She thought she’d have to wait a few rings, but on the very first one, a thin male voice answered, “Hello?”

 Nearly choking on the bagel scraping down her throat, she swallowed and tried to respond. “I’d like to speak with Mr. Lester.”

 “This is he.”

 She took a fast sip of orange juice, cleared her throat, and said, “I’m Noelle Cooke. I received a letter from your firm on Saturday. About my aunt passing away. Joy Valentine?”

 “Oh, yes. Noelle.” He stretched out all the vowels. Everything sounded better wrapped in a British accent. “Thank you for responding so promptly.”

 He issued condolences and apologized for not contacting Noelle sooner, explaining his first notification went to an old address, then they got down to business.

 “As you’re aware, your aunt has left you her entire estate. This includes the properties of Primrose Cottage as well as the Artist’s Gallery.”

 “I’m still in a bit of shock over all this.”

 “Yes, quite. There are decisions to be made. The gallery is… how do I put this delicately? Financially unstable.”

 “Oh. I had no idea.”

 “Miss Cooke, these matters would actually be best discussed in person. I know it’s asking much, but might you be able to travel to England? My office is in London, but I have an early business meeting in Bath, near Chilton Crosse, day after tomorrow. You could stay at your aunt’s—or rather, your cottage. The curator could also meet with you to discuss the gallery.”

 The idea of seeing the cottage and gallery was thrilling. She assumed no one but Joy had stepped inside those cottage doors in the past decade. Perhaps its contents might offer hints about her aunt’s reclusive period.  

 “I could meet with you there on my way back to London,” Mr. Lester continued. “There are many papers to sign and—”

 “And decisions to be made.”

 “Indeed. Urgently, in fact.”

 In this Age of Technology, they could still handle the details if she stayed in California. Email, phone, FedEx, fax—back and forth, back and forth. But doing so might stretch things out to weeks, and Mr. Lester indicated they didn’t have weeks. The debt collectors might pounce soon. If she did travel to England, they could manage things in a few days. Plus, she could use that time to sort through the contents of the cottage—old family heirlooms, dishware, or valuables she wanted to keep.

 Dan, her boss, would balk about her leaving with such short notice, but too bad. She would remind him that she had vacation time and sick leave, lots of it. Surely, she deserved time for a personal emergency. Noelle could work the rest of the day then leave for England late tonight, with Desha covering her workload and meetings until Thursday. Dan couldn’t say no.

 “Yes. I can do that,” she told Mr. Lester decisively. “Let me make some arrangements and get back to you.”

 “Excellent.”

 “Oh, one more thing. The letter never mentioned. How did my aunt pass away?”

 “It was a stroke that took her. Instantly, from what I heard.”

 She hadn’t suffered.

 The moment she hung up with Mr. Lester, Noelle remembered she would have to postpone the interview tomorrow with John Hill Advertising. She had worked so hard the last two months, polishing her resume, searching online listings for new job openings, scheduling secret interviews during lunch hours or after work. Nothing had panned out yet, but she had been particularly hopeful about tomorrow, a second interview with the senior manager. John Hill represented salvation, her escape from a job and a company she had once loved. But everything had soured drastically when Dan took over last year. The office politics, the backbiting, the pointless meetings and toxic environment. Enough was enough.

 She took another bite and peered out the window. She loved it here—seagulls, beaches, the steady shush of the ocean. But the house, even the gorgeous beach view, had lately become redundant.  

 Can a “seven-year itch” apply to someone’s whole life?

 

* * * *

REVIEW:

In the latest new release from Red Adept Publishing, Painting The Moon by Traci Borum, we're given a rare, beautiful, mysterious love story that is about so much more than two lovers.
It's clean romance, which is rare enough these days, and it hits so much deeper than anything I've read lately (and I've read a lot!).

Noelle spent her teenage summers in a London suburb, with her Gram and her lovable, artistic Aunt Joy. There she made two wonderful friends, Jill and Adam, and made memories to last a lifetime.
Fourteen years passed after her last summer, when she'd left with bad feelings in her heart, her aunt has passed away and left her her cottage in Chilton Crosse, her art gallery and the cottage at the ocean, where renters keep it afloat.
The gallery is in debt, the cottage needs to be emptied fit sale and Noelle only has three days. What she doesn't need is for Jill to want get together...with Adam, Noelle's unrequited love.
Secrets, old emotions and the lure of England keep Noelle's head spinning. What will she do?

From the first page, the reader will be hooked into wanting to know more, about everything!
The female lead, Noelle, is strong, independent, talented and brave, the perfect woman anyone above sixteen will want to read a book about. Joy is an up-front, slightly mystical figure, a main character, even though she's dead through the entire story, save flashbacks.
It's a novel about life, death, love, regret, longing and art. The painting is so prominent in the story, I consider it a character in itself.
You'll laugh, cry, smile, sigh and have your heart break and mend a million times before the book ends.
One of the best romance stories I've read since Jane Eyre!

5/5--excellent!

Purchase Painting The Moon via:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

Google Play Books (for Android users)

Goodreads

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*****

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INTERVIEW:

1. When / why did you decide to become a writer?

I think it all began with a strong love of reading, very early on.  My mother was a schoolteacher and taught me how to read, how to enjoy reading.  One of my favorite books to read as a child was L.M. Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon series (author of Anne of Green Gables).  Emily was a writer.  She kept a little notebook and jotted down observations, and I was so enamored of her.  Being a writer just sounded terribly exciting and interesting, through her eyes.  So, I started keeping a little journal of my own, jotting down observations.  And I guess I haven’t really stopped since!  

2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today? 

Aside from L.M. Montgomery’s books, I also remember reading and re-reading From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (what a great title), The Cricket in Times Square, Nancy Drew, and A Wrinkle in Time.  In adulthood, I’ve leaned heavily toward women’s fiction, and my favorite authors are Anne Tyler, Rosamunde Pilcher, Elin Hilderbrand, and Elizabeth Berg.  They never disappoint!  Mostly, I admire how they’re able to balance literary with commercial fiction, which is a huge challenge.  As a writer, that’s one of my ultimate goals.

3. What was the inspiration behind your novel Painting The Moon?

I think it started with my love for England.  I visited the British Isles with my grandmother when I was seventeen, and was quickly intrigued by the culture, the architecture, the countryside, the dreamy British accents.  And although I haven’t visited the UK since then (I hope to, someday in the future), those vivid impressions stayed with me all these years.  I decided to set a story there, to have an American inherit a cottage in the Cotswolds and see what could happen next.  I could instantly visualize some quirky villagers, a first love from Noelle’s past summers in England, and a famous artist aunt who held some family secrets.  

4. Were you an artist or have an interest in art?

My grandmother and mother are both wonderful, talented artists, but unfortunately, I did not inherit that particular gene!  I can only draw a stick figure.  Oh, and I’m pretty good at drawing a cartoon Snoopy.  But I have absolutely no talent for placing anything on a canvas that would be beautiful.  I think that’s what interested me so much about art in this novel.  I’m fascinated by people who do things I’m not capable of doing well.  I’m in awe of other people’s gifts.  Sure, any gift or craft must be honed and studied over a lifetime for improvement (just like writing!).  But I really do believe that certain people are just born with certain special gifts.  And I guess since art wasn’t a gift I personally possess, I was interested to explore it in a personal way.  In fact, both my mother and grandmother provided most of the art research in the book—about technique or colors or perspective.  It was fun, looking to them for research and artistic advice!

5. If you had the choices Noelle was given, about the gallery and where to reside, what would you do? 

Great question!  Realistically, I’d probably be too hesitant to make a big life change like she does.  Unlike Noelle, I have strong family roots here in Texas, along with a niece and nephews, and it would be way too hard to leave them for long periods of time and move to another country.  However, if money and the safety of travel were non-issues, well…perhaps I could be persuaded to live part of the year in Texas and part of the year in England.

6. Will we ever read more stories featuring the characters from Painting The Moon?

Yes!  In fact, I’m starting edits for Book 2 very soon.  Each new book in the Chilton Crosse series will highlight a different main character.  I visualize the series as sort of “spotlighting” a different cottage within the village.  For instance, Painting the Moon focuses on Noelle’s cottage (Primrose cottage), while Book 2 will focus on another cottage in the village (Hideaway cottage – where Holly, Frank’s assistant, lives).  However, all the minor characters will still make appearances in each book:  Frank, Mac, Joe, Mrs. Pickering—and, Noelle and Adam will appear in Book 2, as well, though in a smaller way.  

7. Were any of the characters/events inspired by real life?

Aunt Joy’s name came from an actual great aunt of mine.  She wasn’t a painter, though—my grandmother, Della, is the artist.  So, I guess Joy is sort of a hybrid, but she’s also her “own” character.  As for Noelle, well, I have to say she’s got quite a lot of “me” in her.  She’s introspective, a deep thinker, hesitant to make bold choices (sometimes too hesitant), with a sensitive heart.  Adam isn’t based on a real-life person, but I think the easy-going friendship between Noelle and Adam was directly influenced by friendships I experienced in college with a couple of guy friends—the late-night talks about “life,” the study sessions, the casual banter, etc.  I tried to evoke that same kind of relaxed friendship into Adam and Noelle’s relationship, especially during their flashbacks.

8. Can you tell KSR readers what you're working on now?

I’m hoping to work hard on edits for Book 2 before my summer ends (I’m a full-time instructor at a junior college and the new semester starts soon).  As well, I’ve already written Book 3 and have started brainstorming Book 4 in the series.

9. Would you like to see Painting The Moon as a film? If yes, what actors would you like to see play your characters?

Love this question!  I actually do “cast” my characters in my head as I write a novel, so that I can clearly see their faces and features when I write descriptions.  For Painting the Moon, I pictured Noelle as a Reece Witherspoon type (cute, perky, blonde hair, warm personality), and Adam looks exactly like a Welsh actor named Ioan Gruffudd.  Boyishly handsome.  As far as an actual movie—the Hallmark channel is my “dream” channel.  I would probably hyperventilate if one of my novels was ever turned into a Hallmark movie.  Their movies seem to fit the tone of my books pretty well.  They’re sweet and old-fashioned, with a focus on romance and relationships.

10. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?

I would love to continue writing and publishing this series.  So far, I’m not tired of the characters (probably because I get to explore a different main character each time) and I want to see what happens to them.  I also have some ideas for other novels not related to the series.  

11. What author, dead or alive, would you love to collaborate with?

Rosamunde Pilcher, my favorite women’s fiction author.  Her descriptions are incredible and vivid.  Just reading her books raises my own personal writing standards, makes me want to be better.  But it probably wouldn’t be collaboration as much as a mentorship.  I would love to ask her questions about her writing process and where her inspiration comes from.  Of course, we would need to have these mentoring sessions in her homeland of Scotland, or the Cornwall coast, where most of her novels take place.

12. What, above all, would you like readers to take from the story?

Escapism and introspection.  I hope my novels provide a temporary escape from a reader’s life, to lift a reader out of daily life struggles or perhaps even tragic circumstances, just for a while (that’s what books always do for me!).  I also hope my books will let the reader reflect on her own life, her own choices and relationships, her past, etc.  To me, that would mean that the reader has personalized the novel, that she connected with the main character and is living her own story through Noelle.  Also, with this particular novel, a reader’s connection might involve the “what if” questions of a love unresolved or unrequited.  If a reader looks at a character and wonders what she, herself, would do in that situation, I feel like my goal has been reached—that the reader has become absorbed in the story.

13. What would you be doing if you weren't writing?

Hard to imagine, but probably, if I wasn’t writing (or teaching) I’d be a librarian or maybe a counselor.  Something else related to literature/books and the human condition.

14. What genres would you like to try your hand at?

I had fun incorporating a bit of mystery/suspense into Painting the Moon, and as a kid, I enjoyed writing “detective” short stories, so probably something close to a real suspense novel.

15. Thank you for participating in the interview! Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?

Thank you for letting me participate!  I had fun answering these creative questions.

Three surprising things about me…

1.  I’ve watched Young and the Restless since I was eighteen, sitting in my tiny college dorm room.  I don’t think I’ve missed a single episode in twenty-six years!  And I keep watching, even when the characters make dumb choices or the writing goes over-the-top and makes me want to pull all my hair out.  Y&R is just a habit I can’t let go of.
2. I adore sarcasm from other people or in sitcoms, but I rarely use it, myself, in real life.  I’m too concerned that the other person might not “get” the sarcasm and would be offended.
3. I hate seafood!  I know it’s really good for me, but ick.  I’ve just never liked it.  Pasta instead.  Give me pasta any day of the week.

Find Traci Borum online via:

Red Adept Publishing

Twitter

Official site

Goodreads

Amazon Author Page

Facebook (LIKE page)

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: "Demesne, The Challenge" by S.F & D.A. Swem

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It has only been a few, short seasons, but for Jira Santree, it seems like a lifetime since she left the quiet life on the farm. Now she is the Matriarch of the Dragon Back Clan for a lair that has been empty of dragons for a long time. 
Jira learns that her new title involves tremendous responsibilities when a visiting dragon clan finds her ways not to their liking, and the rival clan disrupts the peace of the valley. Montiack, the matriarch of the Red Mountain Clan, claims that as a mere human, Jira has no right to the title or to the lair. 
Montiack invokes the Matriarch Challenge, a deadly duel on dragon back, in order to take away Jira's claim to the lair. The first obstacle for Jira is to find a dragon from her own clan as her dragon mount. How will she survive if she cannot rely on anything but her dragon magic? The connection to the valley and to the crystal, and any help from her friends Aithera and Devon is forbidden by the First Matriarch, and any interference will be met by instant death.

Demesne: The Challenge, by S.F. and D. A. Swem is one Hell of a ride! If you're a fan of adventure/fantasy novels, you'll eat this up. If you're looking for a novel to test the waters, so to speak, I highly recommend this one.
It's a unique storyline with a powerful cast of characters. The description is vivid and I found myself transported to a whole new world, forgetting that I was simply sitting in bed, reading a book.
It's also a story about courage, strength and determination. You'll read breathlessly, hoping for Jira's victory.

Good work and compelling storytelling!

4/5--nice job!

Purchase Demesne: The Challenge via:

Amazon (KINDLE)

Amazon Canada

Barnes And Noble (NOOK)

Smashwords

iTunes Books

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: "The Defenders of Prali" by Davidson L. Haworth

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The Defenders of Prali is, like The Lord of the Rings, a collection of the three books set in Prali, Italy, written by Davidson L. Haworth: The Dragon of Prali, The Wizard of Prali and The Vampires of Prali. I'll give you, below, the description of the books from Goodreads before giving you my personal opinion on all three.

Life in Prali, a small village nestled in a picturesque valley in the Italian Alps, is quiet and safe—until the gates to the underworld open nearby, unleashing the fury of the last of the dragons. Generations earlier, the dragons were driven from Prali and slaughtered. Now they have returned with only one goal: revenge against humanity.
A young Franciscan monk named Bernard, an English girl named Mary, and a knight named Leonardo are all that stand in the way of fiery oblivion unleashed by the invading dragon army. The underworld is a place of dark and mysterious magic, where threats far more diabolical than dragons lurk in the shadows.
A powerful wizard, Simon Magnus, sees the plight of the overwhelmed heroes and offers his assistance. But his intentions are far from altruistic; after the dragons destroy the villages, Magnus plans to step in to enslave the villagers and enlists the help of winged furia, demons from the underworld, to finish off the dragons. Desperate, Bernard seeks the assistance of the French leader, Clement Laurent. Infuriated, Magnus brings in Persian mercenaries to crush the resistance. Meanwhile, news that fighters from the Vampire Empire are on the march toward Prali pushes the heroes to the breaking point.
The fate of Prali rests in the outcome of an epic battle between the combined forces of good and evil. Can Bernard and his allies hope to save their village and their way of life?

The Dragon of Prali is reminiscent of The Hobbit mostly, with the village struggling to survive the rampage of a newly-awakened dragon. Their only hope is a lonely monk and a young girl.
It has a strong story with a very unlikely hero. No one will swoon over Bernard, as many girls do for Frodo Baggins, but they'll want to hug him and invite him in for tea instead.
It's a pure adventure story, best read at night, with your own cup of tea and a big blanket.

The Wizard of Prali is a bit darker than its predecessor, and I found it much more entertaining, believe it or not. This is no Harry Potter! There's so Gandalf swooping in to save the day, either.
I read this part a bit more breathlessly than the prior installment, and its dark storyline foretold of even better things to come in the final chapter...

The Vampires of Prali was by far the best. There are no 600 year old teenagers falling for high school kids, no sparkles, no sexy grins, like you'll find in Twilight or The Vampire Diaries.
The vamps in Mr. Haworth's story don't want love and understanding; they want blood and death, like real vampires should! Fans of Dracula and 'Salem's Lot will love this as I did. After all, there is nothing better than undead killers, and we all know it haha!

I loved every character, both good and evil. This was great writing, and to read all the books together as one is a unique experience that all readers should have. You can tell that Mr. Haworth put a lot of heart in each sentence, creating the ultimate fantasy trilogy of our generation.
Who should read this? Everyone!

5/5--wonderful!

Purchase The Defenders of Prali via:

Amazon

Barnes And Noble

iUniverse Bookstore

Google Books

Goodreads

Facebook (LIKE page)

Don't forget to read my interview with the author from this summer's Long Beach Comic Expo HERE !

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: "0-9" by James DeSantis

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0-9 is the latest short story from James DeSantis, the author of the Exterminators series. If you have read his previous work, you know that he goes for the enigmatic and the violent.

Jill Loths is a girl with a crappy job at a bank. Her coworkers hate her. Her boss is promoting her...she hopes. And her ex broke her heart. She sounds like any other woman you would encounter in Chicago, or all of America, for that matter.
But she's not so normal. She's being followed. Why? You'll find out...

More great work from James's dark mind. This story, however, differs from his other shorts in that this one begs for a longer sequel one day. You will want to know the backstory and you will want to know Jill's future.
Great story with just enough violence and mystery.

5/5--great!

Purchase 0-9 via:

Amazon

Goodreads

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Dr. John Benedict

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1. You are, by trade, a doctor. What made you decide to start writing fiction? 

I always used to enjoy writing short stories in high school—in fact, one of my early characters was named Doug Landry, who is now the main character in Adrenaline and The Edge of Death.  But I got completely sidetracked with math/science in college, then medical school, residency and a busy career in medicine—not to mention getting married and helping to raise three sons.  So there was no time for writing.  But one day I sat down and wrote the climax scene of Adrenaline and was hooked all over again.

2. Why decide to become a doctor? What did you specialize in?

I received my undergraduate degree in chemistry and originally headed to medical school to pursue a career in cancer research (my dad died of colon cancer).  However, once in med school, I fell in love with anesthesia and specialized in this.

3. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today? 

I used to read all the science fiction and fantasy I could get my hands on in high school/college.  Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Roger Zelazny come to mind.  My favorite fantasy author is Stephen Donaldson (Chronicles of Thomas Covenant) who also wrote a killer sci/fi series (The Gap series).  I’ve also always loved Tolkein, Stephen King and Dean Koontz.  Today I read thrillers mostly, like Dan Brown, and medical thrillers by Tess Gerritsen, Robin Cook and Michael Palmer.  I also enjoy Khaled Hosseini’s books (The Kite Runner, etc) and I just finished Unbroken and The Paris Architect.

4. What was the inspiration behind your novel The Edge of Death?

I read an interesting article in an emergency medicine journal about the future of resuscitation; in it they demonstrated that many cells in the body live for hours after a person is pronounced dead. This started me thinking.  I couldn’t help but wonder how does the soul know when it’s time to go—in other words, what triggers the soul’s departure?  Brain death?  Heart death?  Liver death?  What would happen if the body is resuscitated by new, cutting edge techniques after the soul has left?  What kind of being would you be left with?  The Edge of Death flows directly from these questions.

5. Why did you decide to write a sequel to Adrenaline?

         I was actually ¾ of the way done my second book (Fatal Complications—see more below), when the idea for The Edge of Death struck me.  The idea seemed so compelling and really spoke to me, so I dropped the second book and wrote The Edge of Death. I’ve always wanted to write a series, keeping some of my favorite characters going, since some of the stories I have liked the best were series.  When I came up with the storyline for The Edge of Death, it seemed natural to carry on the story of Doug Landry.

6. Without using spoilers alluding to the end of The Edge of Death, can you tell the readers if there will be another book?

The answer is two-fold.  As I mentioned above, I put my second book out to pasture to write The Edge of Death.  I have now resumed writing this second book, called Fatal Complications, and hope to have it out by the end of the year (2014).  Fatal Complications is a stand-alone medical thriller that is not part of the Doug Landry series.  However, I’m envisioning a fourth book with Doug Landry back in action that also blends in characters from the first three books. It’s a bit ambitious, so we’ll have to see if I can pull it off.  Stay tuned.

7. Do you think that science could find a way to resuscitate the newly dead one day? 

Yes and No.  What’s really changing with advancing technology is the definition of death.  It’s no longer enough to say that someone’s heart has stopped or they’re brain dead.  Newer forms of resuscitation will no doubt emerge to help bring people back—witness the well known stories of people falling into icy water and being resuscitated an hour later with no brain damage, etc.  These phenomena need to be studied and understood.  But I do believe that once someone is completely dead, there’s no coming back. And I don’t really believe in the existence of soulless creatures like Chandler in The Edge of Death—but hey, it makes for a good story.

8. What is your personal opinion on Kirlian photography?

         I think it’s an interesting technique for developing film.  I don’t really believe it shows the existence of a ‘soul’.  After all, plants show auras and I’m not convinced they have souls in the conventional sense.  Perhaps it shows evidence of a ‘life force’, so to speak.

9. Are you currently working on anything that you'd like to share with KSR?

         I mentioned that I am close to being finished with my third novel, Fatal Complications, which I hope to have out by the end of the year.  And I am assembling ideas for a fourth book, incorporating Doug Landry and some of the characters from the first three books.  This book is still in its infancy and at least 2 years away, as I must still work at my day job.

10. Would you like to see a film made of either of your novels?

Yes, of course!  Both of them, preferably.  Many readers tell me they can envision these books as great movies.  I agree.  I am a big fan of movies, especially thrillers or drama, and I believe these books could easily make the transition to the big screen.

11. What would you be doing if you weren't writing?

Going crazy!  Writing is a good form of therapy for me!  No, seriously, I have a lot of hobbies—writing is one of them.  If I weren’t writing, I would spend more time bike riding, star gazing, swimming, travelling, bugging my wife, and sleeping.

12. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?

Good question!  I do enjoy the writing process, so I think I’ll still be out there creating new stories regardless of how many books I sell.  The really nice positive feedback I get from readers helps tremendously to validate my writing and keeps me motivated.  My dream, of course, is to be picked up by a big-name traditional publisher who can sell lots of books and make film adaptation a reality.

13. The Edge of Death bordered on the edge of being a paranormal novel while remaining within the boundaries of science and medicine. Will you ever cross that line? 

The fourth book may just cross this line.  I never thought I would, but I’m not so sure anymore; it’s still too early to say, though.

14. What authors, dead or alive, would you love to collaborate with?

Stephen King, Isaac Asimov, Jules Verne, Tess Gerritsen, Stephen Donaldson, Robin Cook.

15. Thank you for participating in the interview. Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?

         1) I am happily married for 31 years to an incredible woman who thoroughly supports my writing habit; without whom there would be no books. 
         2) Having no training in writing, I wrote Adrenaline completely backwards.  In other words, I wrote the climax scenes first and then slowly fabricated the rest of the story to fit and lead up to the ending.
I don’t recommend this technique—it’s way too slow and inefficient—it took me 6 years to complete the book.  Now I write mostly forward, but still use no outline and don’t know where the story’s going until the characters take me there.
         3) I used to read some of my earlier stuff to my kids as bedtime stories (without any sex or violence of course!).  I have 3 sons, Rob, Chip and Luke.  Their names appear as main character names in the first 3 books and they think this is cool!

Find John Benedict online via:

Official site

Twitter

Monday, July 21, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: "The Edge of Death" by John Benedict

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I've truly enjoyed the people I've met via Goodreads. One of those people is Dr. John Benedict, author. His novel The Edge of Death, the sequel to Adrenaline, is an experience that teeters on the edge of being paranormal yet never crosses that line.

Dr. Mueller thinks he has found a way to resuscitate the newly dead, but doesn't anticipate that his experiment will have such dire effects.
Nick Chandler wakes from his coma to kill a nurse and break out of the hospital, his new chance at life empowering him in brand new ways with advanced healing abilities, strength and mind-reading powers.
Med school dropout Chip Allison witnesses the murder and he, along with tech Kristin, decide to try and figure out what happened to Chandler and solve the murder of their colleague.
Dr. Landry doesn't believe in Dr. Mueller's activities in the postmortem lab, but needs to brave his experiments when his wife is involved in a near-fatal accident.

I love medical dramas on TV, but rarely can find a good medical-based fiction l novel, as many of them are horribly dull. The Edge of Death is anything but dull!
You immediately get to know each character individually, even the dog, Smokey, and that gives the book a peculiar familiar feeling as you read it. The medical jargon doesn't overpower the story (though it might make you turn to Google at times), but instead adds to its authenticity.
The mention of Kirlian photography is noteworthy, as I looked into it upon finishing the story. Very inventive to use in a story like this and I liked it.
The science, as I mentioned, just pushes that paranormal boundary, and will make you think of life, death, souls and even vampires in a whole new way.

5/5--raw talent!

Purchase The Edge of Death via:

Amazon (KINDLE)

Amazon (PRINT)

Barnes and Noble

Goodreads

COVER REVEAL/BOOK SPOTLIGHT: "Blind Servitude" by David Chattaway

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"We both looked deeply into each other's eyes and I knew that he felt the same fears and concerns I was feeling. Planning escape was very different to actually escaping and in that moment when our cell door sprung open, and freedom beckoned to us both, so did doubt and worry."

Blind Servitude is the tale of a young boy's journey to find his courage in a world where fear is used as a weapon and love is the only light.

Purchase Blind Servitude via:

Goodreads (there is a book giveaway that ends on August 14th, 2014)

Amazon

(REVIEW AND INTERVIEW COMING IN AUGUST!)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

COMIC BOOK REVIEW: "Teen Titans #1"

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Writer: Will Pfeifer
Artist: Kenneth Rocafort
Colorist: Dan Brown
Letterer: John J. Hill
Cover: Kenneth Rocafort
Variant Cover: Cliff Chiang
Batman 75th Anniversary Cover: Joe Quinones
Associate Editor: Rickey Purdin
Editor: Mike Cottompn
Group Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics

I'm an honest reviewer. I will admit this: I stopped reading the last Teen Titans incarnation after issue 3. I was not a fan, and that says a lot, considering the Titans are my favorite heroes and have been since I was nine years old.
No one can beat Marv Wolfman and the 1980s team, but Geoff Johns definitely tied for talent in my mind. Will Pfeifer is right inder them.
The Teen Titans are back! The issue starts with Wonder Girl being notified on her (and everyone's) phone that a group of terrorists have hijacked a bus full of school kids.
Red Robin takes the lead, directing her, Beast Boy (so glad he's green again), Raven and Bunker to the best of his abilities before joining in.
The Titans are a team again! I'm not sure if I like Bunker yet, but the speech he gave at the end of the issue was motivating and inspired. Everyone should read this book just for those words.
Raven is still eerie and still my favorite, and her and Gar working together is still really great to see. Tim grew into his role as team leader and it's easy to see him becoming ALMOST as good as Dick Grayson was when he lead the team. Cassie has grown on me a little after blowing up three men and tossing a fourth from a moving bus!

This was an action-packed issue sure to delight pre-New 52 fans. I'm very excited to see where the new creative team will take them!

5/5--very promising!


Purchase Teen Titans #1 via:

Your local comic shop

Friday, July 18, 2014

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Joanne Marlowe

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1. When/why did you decide to become a writer?

I always wanted to write.  When I was a little girl, I had journals and diaries but every time I wrote something, I immediately thought it was stupid and would throw it away.  As I got older, I wanted to write movies.  I always would create things in my head (movies) but never had the confidence in myself to write anything and keep it until last year.  I thought, it's now or never because I am not getting any younger and what am I doing with myself?

2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today?

I am not an avid reader at all.  I really only enjoy reading books while on vacation and on a beach when I am relaxed and can read a book in one shot.  I have a small attention span and I am not someone who can read a few pages/chapters a night.  I will end up reading the same pages over and over again if I did that. Plus, it's a time thing...I don't have much time to sit down and read. I do really like Nick Hornby novels and I like reading books after they become a movie.  Let's face it, books are almost always better than the movie....however there is the odd one that makes a better movie. 

3. Can you tell readers what inspired you to write My Little Book of Randoms?

The first social media I joined was Hitrecord.org which is Joseph Gordon-Levitt's website for artist contributions.  On the site, there were artist collaborations that turned into 3 published books called Tiny Stories. These were usually one or two liners and I found myself really enjoying reading them and than writing them.  I didn't get published through the site but that's because I didn't contribute to the collaborations!  I didn't remain on the site for long but met some really great people and artists.  I ventured on my own and compiled a small collection and put together My Little Book of Randoms, just to see if I could do it.  And I did.  I learned so much a long the way and I loved the process and even more so that I did it all myself.

4. Will you write another book of poetry?

Absolutely!  I am already working on a second one titled This One Hurt.  I am venturing out a bit more with this book.  Longer poems, not so many quotes, short stories and maybe some more artwork....we'll see how it goes.  Maybe a collaboration with someone to do some artwork to go along with some of my stories...but I want to finish putting it together first, the written part.  I already have an idea for the cover art, something I have pictured in my head.  I want to take my time with it as I want to get my first book out there and generate some sort of buzz.

5. You mentioned that you don't look like you'd listen to Maroon 5. What kind of music do you usually enjoy? 

I listen to various music. I love The Cure and The National and everything 80's, hair metal (Mötley Crüe), 90's shoegazer music (Swervedriver, Lush, Slowdive, MBV, Ride), Brit pop (Depeche Mode, Blur ), classic rock, goth-rock (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy), soul music (Al Green, Marvin Gaye). I still love Madonna.  I love Tori Amos.  I love the Bee Gee's. I am really into music with lots of keyboards and men with deep voices.  I love White Lies, Editors and a band called the Foreign Resort is my new obsession.  I love a lot of bands from France for some reason...Daft Punk, Phoenix, Alcest, Air, Ivy (although I  think they are NY based but orig from France).  I really like the Raveonettes and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and I think my list could go on forever.  Maybe I do look like someone who listens to Maroon 5....I mean I guess I don't really know what someone who listens to them looks like. 

6. Would you ever write a fictional novel? If yes, what kind of novel?

That's a good question. I don't know. I suppose I could turn one of my screenplays into a novel or novella.  You know, I don't think I would do a fictional novel.  I don't know if I would be capable. I like to keep things simple and short and sweet and to the point. A novel would be long and it is very different than script writing and poetry. Perhaps if I read more novels, I would be more inclined to write one.

7. You mentioned that you are writing screenplays. What actors would you love to star in something you've written?

I am so proud of my script titled Just Jane and there was an inspiration behind that movie.  His name is Jonah Hill.  I think he is funny and seems sweet and when I wrote the character Ethan, I really had him in mind. A total long shot for sure and getting Maroon 5 to perform in this movie would be as well. You never know though. As far as the other scripts, I really haven't pictured anyone specifically. I wrote like a chick-flick comedy and I am thinking maybe Drew Barrymore or Anna Kendrick. For my script Strangegirl I flip flop all the time on the male lead.  That script took like 15 years to write and I am still changing it. 15 years ago, I wanted Jimmy Fallon now I picture Matt Berninger who is the singer for the National and dozens of different actors in between (Ryan Gosling...I mean who wouldn't?). I think I just change to whomever my Man Crush is that week! But crushes aside, I believe that this one should be made with someone just starting out to make it a true indie film.  I love this one too much as it is something I have envisioned in my head forever and it took forever to write and I am still not 100% satisfied with it...but I know soon I will be comfortable with it and I really believe that it will make a great indie flick.

8. What are some of your favorite films?

Here is another list that could go on forever but I will try to limit it and just list them sans explanation because I think they speak for themselves....Annie Hall, The Exorcist, Some Like it Hot, Casablanca, Lost in Translation, Shopgirl, 500 Days of Summer, Mosquito Coast, It's a Wonderful Life, Blue Velvet, Manhattan, Say Anything, No Country For Old Men, Pulp Fiction, Grease, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Family Stone, Mask, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Rocky, Happiness, A Fish Called Wanda, Garden State....

9. The cover artist for My Little Book of Randoms is also your tattoo artist. What tattoos do you have and would you recommend getting one to readers who are vacillating on the idea? (I'm curious about this because I've got a few sentimental tats as well!)

I have two half sleeves that have various things on them. One arm has the cherubs from The Cure's Japanese Whispers album, hearts, diamonds, stars, water & flowers. The other sleeve has bats, some lettering which is a Cure song called "To Wish Impossible Things," a gramophone, a mirror, a cupcake, dice and cherries, stars and a butterfly. I also have a piece on time on one of my thighs which consists of an hourglass and a burning candle. My other thigh is a work in progress which is a dagger and bird skull with a Strangegirl banner. I have a couple small ones in other places as well. If people want to get a tattoo, obviously I would say to go for it. I am glad I waited until I was a little bit older though. My first tattoo was a spider that I got when I was 16 which has since been covered and another one I desperately want to cover.  I think when you are young, you are anxious and want to be cool and fill your body with a lot of crappy stuff that eventually you end up getting covered up or regretting.  If people want to get tattoos, that's great but really think about what you want and finding a really good tattoo artist is key.  I am lucky that I have a great artist and I love colourful tattoos and mine are definitely bright.  I think his work speaks for himself.  

10. Thank you for participating in the interview. Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?

Oh dear....
I am very sensitive.  I love the Golden Girls.  I like board games.

Find Joanne online via:

Official Site

Instagram

Facebook

Pinterest

Thursday, July 17, 2014

BLOG TOUR/BOOK REVIEW: "Fall (The Cold Mark Saga #1)" by Scarlett Dawn

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A savagely wicked new adult sci-fi series blasts off with , the first novella in The Cold Mark Saga...

Only one thousand Humans survived The Travel from the shattered Earth. Some Humans say it was their penance for crushing such beauty. Eighteen-year-old Braita merely thought it was pathetic - pathetic that her people had been that blind.

Now, the Humans live in the solar system, Kline, where three planets are habitable. Joyal, the smallest planet, is embraced by the Humans - their family to love as they had never loved Earth. Though a planet covered mainly in water is dangerous real estate to dwell upon.

Their worry turns into devastating reality when Braita’s blessed village is struck by a tsunami. Population numbers must be kept to a minimum. Drastic measures must be taken. Braita’s life is twisted in brutality when she is chosen as one of the three hundred Humans to be removed from Joyal…and sent to the Mian, the aliens to fear, on the planet Triaz.

Thrown head first into a barbaric world she knows nothing of, Braita must adapt to a dark life as a slave of the Mian society. Her existence depends on it…and possibly, the fall of her heart.


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In Fall, the first book in Scarlett Dawn's Cold Mark Saga, we see what the universe is like 300 years from now, after Earth is gone and the remaining Humans have taken refuge on a plane they adopted called Joyal.
Eighteen year old Braita lives peacefully with her friends, especially her best friend, Jax. But when a catastrophic tsunami hits, they must evacuate their adopted planet and are sent to one of the other two habitable planets nearby.
Both teens are sent to the violent Mian planet called Triaz, and that's when things go from bad to much worse.

This is the third piece of work I've read from Ms. Dawn, and I do believe it's my favorite.
It's a sci-fi story with a unique plot (for the most part) and even a slight LGBT twist. The plot is a bit unsettling, because I can tell that we could be there in a few centuries!
I liked Briata, the female protagonist, who is spunky and takes care of herself even when put into unimaginable situations. I think readers will adore her.
I read this book in about three hours, and I will reread it again. One thing I can say is that I'm going to be waiting for the continuation!

4/5--unique!

Purchase Fall via:

Amazon

Barnes And Noble

Kobo

iTunes

Goodreads

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#1 Bestseller in Witches and Wizards Romance and award-winner, Scarlett Dawn is the author of the Forever Evermore new adult fantasy series, which include King Hall and King Cave. She lives in the Midwest, adores her music loud, and her fries covered in melted cheese.

Find her online via:

Official site

Facebook (LIKE page)

Twitter

Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: "My Little Book of Randoms" by Joanne Marlowe

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Sometimes, when you're down, you will have the desire to read a 50 chapter self-help novel that, in the end, well offer no real help at all.
Other times, you'll sit down and write a quick little book that has a strong sense of what you're going through abd well ease your own mind. That's what Joanne Marlowe did with My Little Book of Randoms.

Containing a little art and a lot of heart, Ms. Marlowe wrote down what was on her mind during a personal time of hardship. It just so happened to be poetry.
If you're going through a difficult time in your life, pick up My Little Book of Randoms and take a few minutes to read through it.
I just did. I have had a very difficult time as of late and reading this made me feel that she knew how I was feeling just an hour ago!
Great little thing to always have nearby fit those moments you want to take a breath and remember: someone else gets it. Even when it seems no one in your personal life does, Joanne Marlowe does!

5/5--loved it!

Purchase My Little Book of Randoms via:

Official site

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Loren Weaver

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1. When/why did you decide to become a writer?

I started writing when I was eleven, and I’ve never gone back. I always loved reading, and I wanted to be a part of bringing that escape to others.

2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today?

Tamora Pierce was one of my first favorites. Today, I like authors like Cheree Alsop, Shannon Mayer, and Kelley Armstrong.

3. What was the inspiration behind your novel Havoc's Cry?

I love paranormal, but I’m not a huge romance fan. I wanted something for people who love the mystery of vampires and lycanthropes but not through a romance angle. I’m also a huge crime TV junkie. So I wrote a crime novel with vampires and werewolves.

4. Were the characters' disparate personalities based on anyone in real life?

No, I don’t like to base characters off real people. Although, I do like to think they’re realistic enough to be people you might meet in real life.

5. Why choose werewolves and vampires as your main monsters?

I’ve always been fascinated with magic, and the things that go bump in the night. Plus, I read a lot of paranormal novels. So, it was a natural progression. Plus, who doesn’t love the idea of changing into an animal on command?

6. Will we see Victoria again in the future?

Oh, yes! Book two is called Archangel’s Salvation, and releases this summer. Book three is called Shadow’s Lament and releases in the fall.

7. (Without using spoilers) did the story end how you originally envisioned it or did it change? Because, as a reader, I could see it ending multiple ways.

I came up with the ending towards the beginning of my plot outline, although some of the relevant players changed from the original idea.

8. Would you like to see Havoc's Cry as a movie? If yes, which actors would you like to see playing your respective characters?

I’d love to see it as a movie someday, but I can’t really name actors. With my nose in a book, I haven’t been paying attention… *sheepish grin*

9. What author (dead or alive) would you love to collaborate with?

Shannon Mayer. She started out with a “real” job with writing on the side, and has still managed to produce a best selling series that let her retire to hang out with her new baby. That’s my dream. Write awesome enough books to do this for a living.

10. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?

Well, I have two books in editing stages and two books in writing stages. I want to continue publishing and writing. I’m in the process of getting my MA in Creative Writing, so I’d love to “retire” from my day job and write for a living!

11. What other genres would you like to try your hand at?

I have two Urban Fantasy book in the YA category, so I’m branching out a little there. I’d also love to write a more “traditional” fantasy novel, but I just don’t have an awesome idea yet.

12. What would you be doing if you weren't writing?

I have a day job, so I’m usually working. Although, I’d love to be reading. I’m in the process of a move to Ecuador, so I’m thinking there will be a lot of exploring in my future.

13. How do you think people would react if vamps and lycans turned out to be real, like in your book?

Complete and utter chaos. I can only hope they would turn out to be as nice as they are in my books, but I can’t say for sure.

14. If you were given the choice that Victoria was, which would you choose and why?

I’d love to meet Tori! She’s been through so much, and she’s still positive. She believes the world can be made a better place, and that the dead deserve justice. But I may have a small case of hero worship.

15. Thank you for participating in the interview. Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?

I’m a SCUBA diver, and I’ve been petted by a wild, fourteen-foot bull shark.
One of my favorite foods is Mexican pollo con mole. It’s chicken made with chocolate, and it’s a main course.
I learned to swing dance in college, and it’s one of my favorite ways to relax.

Find Loren Weaver online via:

Official site

Twitter

Facebook (LIKE page)

BOOK REVIEW: "Bittersweet Deceit (Bound By Your Love #2)"by Blakely Bennett

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I've read a lot of books. Most of the non-paranormal erotica I read is really a heartless book meant to simply indulge a reader's carnal desire. There's no heart and soul. Not so with Blakely Bennett's Bittersweet Deceit novel (the second book in her Bound By Your Love series, following Stuck In Between. You don't have to read Stuck In Between to enjoy Bittersweet Deceit. The backstory is clear.).

We meet Lainie Simmons, the best friend of Jaqs, the protagonist of Stuck In Between, and learn about her hot, sexy affair with a married man. She loves him and he says he loves her, but refuses to leave his wife and kids.
Her friends, especially the handspme and boyish Stayman, think she can do better, but insecure Lainie doesn't want to see it that way.
How many hearts will have to break before she sees the light?

Immediately, we are taken into a steamy sex scene between Lainie and Mason, her married lover. It was better writing in those few pages than in an entire slew of erotica short stories.
As a reader with a build like Lainie's and some of her insecurities, I connected with her quickly. Also, there's a line about wanting someone who doesn't want you the same way. I swear, my heart shattered simply reading that line. Both men in the story, Mason and Stay, are extremely sexy in disparate ways. I know which one I prefer were I to meet them in my real life haha!
It's a story that will melt your heart and wet your panties, to be quite blunt about it! But with all the sordid scenes, there is just as much real emotion between the characters.
A nice subplot is Lainie's evil mother and Stay's kind Granny. It adds a bit of reality to the story.
My favorite thing about it, however? The energy connection that two of the characters have. No one acknowledges, or even believes, in energy connections between two individuals, let alone writes about it.

I loved this book. I will be buying the prequel and the next installment of the series when it's released. But for everyone, but if your heart doesn't go through the wringer from beginning to end...check and make sure you're reading the right book haha!

Excellently written and greatly entertaining.

5/5--a real winner!




Purchase Bittersweet Deceit via:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords

iTunes Books

Goodreads

Monday, July 14, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: "Havoc's Cry" by Loren Weaver

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Victoria Novak is a sorceress, and the most powerful one at that. She's been in hiding since she escaped from the coven of vampires that was holding her. She has a job and a best friend, Trey. But Trey is more than he seems.
And when photos of her killing rogue vamps surface with the FBI, she is unexpectedly thrown back into the mix, whether she likes it or not.

Loren Weaver's debut novel, Havoc's Cry, features a great cast of characters, especially the strong female lead, Victoria. Many female protagonists lack that certain attitude that makes older teens of today want to read about them, but Ms. Weaver created a great lead character in sassy, bold Victoria.
Fans of Teen Wolf and The Hunger Games will eat this up. The story moves fast and steadily, with more action than your typical paranormal novel. That is probably the best thing about this. It's not a fluff novel in the least.
I want to read more about Victoria's adventures, and you will, too!

4/5--nice work!

Purchase Havoc's Cry via:

Amazon (KINDLE)

Amazon (PRINT)

Smashwords

Barnes And Noble

iTunes Books

Goodreads

Sunday, July 13, 2014

COVER REVEAL: "Bittersweet Deceit" by Blakely Bennett

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SYNOPSIS:

Lainie is a thirty year old, full-figured woman entrenched in a love affair with a married man. Although Lainie loves Mason desperately, she vows never to say those three little words while he remains with his wife.

Stayman, an enigma in Lainie’s close-knit group of friends, has been circling her with interest, trying to garner her attention. When circumstances make it clear who’s blocking his way—Mason—Stay goes full-court press in pursuit of Lainie.

Lainie doesn’t see Stay as relationship potential because she is blinded by her love for Mason. However, the more she learns about Stay, the more she comes to realize she never really knew him in the first place.

An unexplainable mystical connection evolves between Lainie and Stay and she has to choose between a man she so hopelessly loves and a man who offers her everything she needs.

EXCERPT:

I slipped into the jacket and latched the repeating circles onto my wrist. The bottom of the coat stopped just where the broad lines of the dress changed from horizontal to vertical. "What do you think?" I asked Samantha.

"You look stunning," a deep male voice responded. I turned around and found Stay smiling at me.

"Wow Stay," Sam said before I could respond. "Looking mighty handsome. If I didn't know any better, I'd think this is a date."

Stayman looked sharp in his black dress pants, matching coat, and dark-gray dress shirt. I gazed at him but was at a loss for words. We stared at each other for a second.

Sam saved me by saying, "Stay, there's a wire mannequin in the attic that I'd like brought down, and Lane and I can't lift it. I wondered if you could do that for us. Not now. I wouldn't want you to mess up your clothes, but-"

As he removed his coat, he said, "It shouldn't take long and I'll just take off my shirt."
 He started unbuttoning as both Samantha and I watched as he slowly revealed his chest. Stay slipped out of his shirt and laid it neatly on top of his jacket.

His smooth, lean torso was highly defined and I got caught staring at his chest. He winked at me and then said to Sam, "Come on and show me the way."

Once they walked away, I glared into the mirror and said, "Don't even think about it."

Minutes later, he had managed to carry the mannequin down.

"Let's put it in the back," I said, leading the way. "It needs to be cleaned up before it can be out on the floor." I showed him where to put it. Scanning his physique from his head to his shoes, I noticed that he continued to let his golden-brown hair grow in and chose to where black boots instead of dress shoes. To make matters worse, his five o'clock shadow was incredibly sexy. Damn, he looks hot. Look away girl, just look away!

 "Here," I said, holding out a lint roller, but not making eye contact.

Some dust had settled on the front of his pants just over the zipper area. "You don't want to help?"

I turned away and said, "Go get dressed."

"Are you sure that's your final decision?"

"Very sure." My rapidly beating heart settled down once his clothing was back on.

"Are you ready to go?" he asked.

"Let me go grab my clothes bag and my clutch and I will be." Sam followed me into my office.

"He looks hot!" she exclaimed. "He must really like you. I've never seen him dressed up before."

"Stop it," I said, making sure my dress lay straight.

"Forget about MM for the night," she said to me with a serious expression. She pulled the tag off my jacket.

"That's not possible. Thanks for closing up and helping with the outfit."

"No problem."

Add it to your To-Read List on:

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Before the release of Bittersweet Deceit, get caught up with Stuck In Between: (Bound by Your Love, Book 1)--

Jacqs is a twenty-eight year old woman caught up in an on again, off again relationship with Bond, who is her best friend and the one who causes her the most heartache. She succumbs, yet again, to his powerful charisma, but vows not make it into more than it is, a great night of sex.

Bond, too sexy for his own good, wants Jacqs for himself as he “dates” his way through the female population of South Florida. He selfishly doesn’t see the conflict of interest.

Red, Bond’s best friend, has watched Bond take Jacqs for granted for way too long and soon stakes his own claim on her.

Will Red and Jacqs budding relationship pull apart their tight-knit group of friends and will Jacqs survive being Stuck In Between.

Purchase Stuck In Between via:

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Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords

iTunes

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AUTHOR BIO:

Blakely Bennett grew up in Southeast Florida and has been residing in the great Northwest for over eight years. She graduated from Nova Southeastern University with a degree in psychology, which accounts for her particular interest in crafting the personalities, struggles, and motivations of her characters. She is an avid reader of many genres of fiction, but especially erotica and romance. Writing has always been her bliss. She is attracted to stories of self-struggle and ultimate recovery.
Blakely is married to a wonderful, loving and supportive husband, also a writer, who helps to keep her grounded. She is a mother, a communitarian, a lover of music (always on while she is writing—thank you, Pandora), and a good friend. An advocate of love and female empowerment, she is a facilitator for a women’s group. She loves to walk and hike for exercise and finds that, since moving to Seattle, WA, she is now one of those “crazy” people who walk in the rain.
Bittersweet Deceit (erotic romance) is her 6th novel. She is also the author of the dark erotic suspense, My Body Trilogy (My Body-His, My Body-His (Marcello) & My Body-Mine) and co-authored the contemporary romance, The Demarcation of Jack with her husband, Dana Bennett.

Find her online via:

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Microcerpt

AUTHORdB

Amazon

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

COMIC BOOK REVIEW: "New Suicide Squad #1 (New 52)"

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Writer: Sean Ryan
Art: Jeremy Roberts
Colors: Blond
Letters: Taylor Esposito
Cover: Roberts & Blond
Variant Cover: Ivam Reis, Joe Prado & Rod Reis
Assistant Editor: Amadeo Turturro
Group Editor: Brian Cunningham

I'll be quite blunt: I only bought New Suicide Squad #1 because of Deathstroke. I like Deadshot and Harley Quinn, but with my limited budget, I cant read all that I want to.
But when I saw a few months back that DC was adding Slade to the roster, I knew I had to be at my local store on New Comic Book Day!
I wasn’t sure what to expect, aside from gratuitous bloodshed.

What I got was a whirlwind of a comic, with Deathstroke shoving his pistol into Harley's mouth just three pages in. I was unsure if adding Joker's Daughter would just make it more fluff, the kind of stuff that might make more younger girls pick the book up, but their rivalry is only one layer to this deep story.
There's murder, jealousy, threats and conspiracy begins the scenes.
I don't know if they'll keep Slade here after he gets his own series come October, but I do know that I'll keep reading New Suicide Squad! (By the way, I'm hoping for a New Suicide Squad/Teen Titans crossover sometime soon!)

5/5--DC is getting better in the New 52!

Purchase New Suicide Squad #1 via:

Barnes and Noble (NOOK)

Amazon

Your local comic shop!

COMIC BOOK REVIEW: "Grayson #1 (New 52)"

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Writer: Tim Seeley
Plot: Tim Seeley & Tom King
Art: Mikel Janen
Colors: Jeromy Cox
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
Editors: Kickin' Katie Kubert & Merciless Mark Doyle
Assistant Editor: Matt Hunphreys

When Nightwing died, a little piece of every fan died, too. After all, some have been with Dick Grayson since the 1940s. Many can recall buying the single issue of New Teen Titans where Robin actually became Nightwing. For my generation, we still remember the first time we met Dick: on the Teen Titans cartoon over a decade ago.
So when I heard that DC was bringing Dick back, frankly, I didn’t care of he was Nightwing or a garbage man! But, of course I was skeptical about what would actually happen when he ditched the mask and became, simply, himself.

The story starts out with a trsin heist, but Dick isn't stealing cash or jewels, but rather a human being. And he's not working alone. A name many will recognize from the comics and some from the CW's Arrow, is working with him as a spy. (No spoilers! You want to know who, head over to your local comic shop (or Instagram...wherever.)
But with this introductory issue, we not only get reacquainted with Dick, we fall deeper in love with the character.
I can guarantee that this will be a long-running series and, once you pick up issue #1, you'll be counting the days until next time!

5/5--great work!

Purchase Grayson #1 via:

Barnes and Noble (NOOK)

Amazon

Your local comic shop!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Katie Keller-Nieman

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1. When/why did you decide to become a writer?

I think I’ve always been a writer, only it took a long time for me to realize it. I’ve always had stories in my head and characters that I think about on a daily basis, as if they are real people. I started writing scripts for comic books in high school. And during college, my writing shifted to novels. It wasn’t until years after that I decided to share my novels by publishing them.

2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today?

I’ve read a wide variety of books and authors, many of which I’ve unfortunately forgotten the names of. When I was younger, I was addicted to the library. Every summer, I would raid the young adult and fantasy shelves. I loved horror and read nearly every R.L. Stein Fear Street book. There were tons of them in my library. I found inspiration in Andre Norton, Agatha Christie, and Sheryl Jordan. Winter of Fire was so good that I bought it and still love to re-read it. I also read manga series like Peach Girl and Sailor Moon. With time I branched out to books about personal struggle, and fiction that opened my eyes to the lives of others. Today, I seek out books with strong female characters. I enjoy reading indie authors, those like me who are breaking into the industry. 

3. What was the inspiration behind your novel Envious?

Envious happened so spontaneously, it was like magic. I can’t say precisely what inspired me, but one day, I just started to write it. I had no outline, no ending planned, no character bios. All that I had was a title, a “what if” statement, and an overactive muse. I had a very loose idea of what it was going to be, and the book grew from there as I wrote. I was just as surprised by the course it takes as anyone who reads it. 

4. Why decide to mix fantasy and psychology? That's an unusual mix.

I have a deep love of and interest in psychology. The human mind is full of twists, turns and mystery. It’s like a puzzle. And fantasy amazes me. It’s a world without limits, where anything is possible. Whenever I reach for a book, it’s either fantasy or psychological. I love both genres, so it just seemed natural to combine them.  

5. Were any of the characters or situations based on real life?

No. Not directly, though there are influences from my life and the lives of those around me. One thing in the book that is incredibly close to real life is my depiction of the library. In Envious, Sandy finds comfort in a green sofa in a quiet section her college library. It is her safe haven. When I was new to college, I didn’t know many people. Between classes, I would buy a cappuccino and head to the third floor of the library where I would settle into a big green chair, grab a book, and read.

6. Will we see these characters any more in future stories?

Absolutely. Sandy’s story is far from over. The next book, Envious Obsession, will be released in late fall.

7. What do you hope for your characters' futures?

To grow, discover themselves, and to learn from their mistakes.

8. What do you want young readers to take from the story?

Life is about change, making mistakes and learning from them. We all do it. Sandy does it too.

9. What would you do if you were in Sandy's position?

Sandy is very aggressive, impulsive, and naive about the world around her. The story would have gone much differently if she were anything like me. I think if I were her, I would have taken a step back much sooner. I would have walked out of Aurora’s shadow. Sandy relies on her visions for escape. She gets caught up in them. I’d have investigated them, looked into the past and researched what I was seeing.

10. Was college a good or bad time for you?

For me, it was an exciting time of learning and exploration. It’s where I met my husband, lost my best friend, found new ones, learned that all-nighters are terrible on the skin, and that muggers with guns are sometimes as scared as you are. Really, I loved college, though I was a bit of a workaholic. I took extra classes, excited about too many to fit into each semester. 

11. What genres would you like to take on one day?

I have many ideas in the works right now. Some leaning more toward fantasy, others not so much. 

12. Would you like to see Envious as a movie or TV series? If yes, what actors would you like to see play your characters?

Of course I would! Envious would be a great TV show. As far as the actors who would play the characters…they haven’t been discovered yet. The characters in Envious have very real faces in my mind, and it’s difficult for me to look at an actor and see my character. But I’m sure they’re out there! 

13. What author (dead or alive) would you love to collaborate with?

I would love to collaborate with whoever wrote Beowulf. For one, I would get to find that out, and also, Beowulf is my all-time favorite story. Its epic nature is so inspirational and I love the poetic translations I’ve read. Whenever I read from it, I feel the need to write. 

14. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?

I see myself continuing to write like a mad-woman. I have high hopes and big plans. By then I’ll have a number of titles published, and hopefully be on a beach, with my toes in the sand, and a laptop on my lap. Something about ocean waves pumps up my creativity level.

15. Thank you for participating in the interview! Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?

I went to college for art. My degrees are in Illustration and Sequential Art. I’ve published short comic stories in anthology books. I still paint, draw and sculpt, but my focus is (and has been for years) on my novels. 
        You could never tell from my name, but I’m half Italian. My spaghetti sauce does not come from a jar. Second generation Italian-American, and proud of it!  
Written word once intimidated me, but clearly, I’ve gotten over that. It took most of my life to understand that self-doubt is crippling and if you don’t embrace it as a tool for improvement, it will only stop you from achieving your dreams. 

Find Katie Keller-Nieman online via:

Official site

Blog 

Facebook (LIKE page)

Goodreads

Katie will be holding an Envious, signed paperback giveaway through July 21st!