Tuesday, June 5, 2012

When Shadows Call by Amanda Bonilla

The envy of 1900s society, Darian is the rich, beautiful wife of a prominent Californian doctor—but her life is far from perfect. For years, Darian has suffered at the hand of her cruel husband and yearned for an escape—one that she knows to be all but impossible. 

But when an enigmatic stranger comes to call, Darian finds herself charmed by his seductive smile and the inexplicable connection she feels. And when he makes her a thrilling—yet frightening—proposition, Darian must decide if she’s strong enough to abandon the mortal world she knows and answer the shadow’s call…

I'm a pretty big fan of origin stories, and recently I have started to become more and more of a fan of novellas. This was a pretty awesome novella/origin story. I loved Darian when she was introduced to me in Amanda Bonilla's first book (check out the review if you don't believe me), so I was excited to see how things really started out for her. Granted I knew the big picture, throughout the first book you get a pretty decent glimpse into what Darian went through. But this was different, it wasn't just the simple telling of what happened in her life, but rather the living of it all. All the thoughts and feels that come along with that.

Darian is a hard woman, she has taken what was truly a hard beginning and turned herself into something so much more, and while I would love to go into detail about the person Darian is today, I think it would be robbing you of the experience of the first book. So instead I'll talk about what she was like in this book. Darian starts off as a very broken person. In no way do I think she has ever had a healthy relationship or been loved in the way a woman should be love. But worse than that her husband is a violent guy and beats her when he drinks, and to say it is easy to feel for Darian and to want her to get out of that situation would be an understatement.

Then of course Darian meets Azriel, who changes her entire life. You have Darian being this abused and beaten down woman who is on the brink of dying, turn into something more than human who is really starting to come into her own. She does this all along side Azriel, which I think is actually kind of awesome because you get to see Azriel in such a different light compared to the way you get to know him in the series.

I really enjoyed reading this novella and really getting to know Darian on a level I wasn't really expecting. She's a great character in the series, and that makes her all the more interesting when you get to really experience her back story right along side her. Of course I would recommend this novella to anyone who enjoyed book 1 in the series, but I also think if you are interested in trying out Amanda Bonilla's work then this would be an awesome introduction not only to her writing style but also to the series. All in all I am going to call this novella a don't miss. So go out, buy it, and enjoy!

One lucky commenter will get to choose between a digital copy of When Shadows Call  or a print copy of Blood Before Sunrise! Hard choice! 

E-MAIL kate@ufreviews with "GIVEAWAY" in the subject line to enter! Include your preference and 1 winner will be chosen randomly. 

Amanda Bonilla & Xander Interview

A big thanks to Kate and Urban Fantasy Reviews for hosting me today! I think it’s a pretty well-known fact that I have a soft spot in my heart for Xander Peck, Shaede High King and recent addition to Seattle’s supernatural community. And when I posed the question to my Facebook friends about who I should interview today, they agreed that Xander was too intriguing to resist.

Amanda: Thanks for meeting me today, Your Highness.

Xander: *gives a dismissive wave of his hand* Please, call me Xander.

Amanda: Thanks. It’s so great of Kate to invite us to Urban Fantasy Reviews today! I thought we’d start off with her questions first.

Kate: Since we all love books here, what is your favorite book and why?

Xander: My father made my brother and I read The Art of War over and again until we had the text committed to memory. I still read it from time to time. I find Sun Tzu’s words very comforting though not altogether entertaining.  

Kate:  What is your favorite memory (from recent times or however far back your life reaches)?

Xander: I’m not sure how humans remember, but when you live as long as we do, the past becomes… faintly muddled. Memories are like dreams, the lucidity of which often comes into question. When I was fifteen or sixteen, I purchased a stallion from a Fae prince who had won the beast from a Sheik. He was the most stubborn beast I’d ever met and it took me almost a year to break him. I loved that damned horse.

Kate:  Everyone tends to forget royals are people too, what is your most embarrassing moment?

Xander: Well, I didn’t vomit on a foreign dignitary or anything quite so scandalous. I was at Emperor Xun’s (Shang Dynasty) court to accept a sword that his sorcerer had charmed on my father’s behalf.  I mistook one of sorcerer’s wives for his mother. Humans age so fast… sometimes they appear much older than they really are. The sorcerer took it in stride, however. I half expected him to curse the katana, rather than charm it.

Kate:  If you found out you had only one day left on this earth, who would you spend it with, what would you do, and what would your last meal be?

Xander: I’d spend my last day with my brother, my friends…those I care about. I’ve done so much over the course of my life; I think I would like to just sit with my loved ones and enjoy their company. As for my last meal? That’s easy. Burgers from Dick’s. They have locations all over Seattle. Delicious.

Kate: Any tidbits you would like to share about your plans for the future of your Shaede Kingdom?

Xander: *grins* Sorry, my dear Kate. Who knows who might be reading this? I couldn’t possibly allow anything to slip that my enemies might seize upon. I’m afraid my plans for my kingdom must remain a secret for now.

Amanda: Thanks, Kate! Awesome questions! I hope you don’t mind, Xander, but some readers have a few questions for you as well and I brought them along. First off, Natalie would like to know your true motives toward Darian. She wants to know if you plan to fight for her attention?

Xander: *flashes a very seductive smile* This is an easy question. My motives regarding Darian are simple: I want her, and I want her to want me as well. As for fighting for her attentions, well, I always get what I want.

Amanda: Jonathan would like to know if you prefer Red Vines or Twizzlers?

Xander: Neither. I prefer Darrel Lee. It’s from Australia, I believe. Mango flavored.

Amanda: I’ve seen Darrel Lee Licorice at Target. Do you just run over and buy a few bags when you get a craving?

Xander: I don’t know where it comes from. I have people who do my shopping for me. All I know is that it’s good.

Amanda: Gotcha. Okay… back to reader questions… Cecy wants to know what is your Achilles heel when it comes to females?

Xander: If you asked my brother, Raif, he would say my Achilles heel is wanting that which I can’t have. *laughs good naturedly* And he’d probably be right. Moreover, I’d say that my weakness is strong-willed females. There is something about a strong woman that brings me to my knees.

Amanda: This next question sort of ties into my previous one. Nancy asks: What do you like most about Darian? Is there anything you’d change about her?

Xander: What I admire most about Darian is her inability to bend. To anyone, including myself. Her strength of conviction, no matter how misguided it might sometimes be, is admirable. Like I said, I’m attracted to strong-willed women. Strong women make excellent queens. And for the record, the only thing I would change about Darian is her current taste in men. *smiles*

Amanda: Last but not least, Cowanda would like to know what you think you can do to win Darian from Tyler? Do you have any dirt on Tyler that you could use against him?

Xander: First of all, I won’t have to win Darian from anyone. I’m confident that in the end, she will choose the better man. I am far better suited for her than anyone else. And to answer the second question, if I did in fact, have any dirt on the Jinn, I certainly wouldn’t show my hand…yet.

Amanda: Okay, well, I think that about covers it.

Xander: Don’t you have a question for me? Something you’ve been dying to know?

Amanda: Well… yes, actually. If you could have any wish granted, what would it be?

Xander: I would wish for peace in my kingdom and for my subjects to be happy. That is the sole wish of any good king.

Amanda: That’s a pretty awesome wish. Thanks for talking with us today, Xander.

Xander: *bows* I am at your disposal.

Amanda: Okay, guys, I might have swooned. Just a little. ;) Thanks again, Kate! You rock!!!

Stay tuned for a review of Amanda's novella and a giveaway later today! 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Kevin Anthony Guest Post

Mad Moral (Mad Series, Book One)
Mad Moral is the world of Ford Fischer, where in murderous stuffed animals, demonic possessions, gigantic creepy crawlers, knife wielding slashers and much more madness are common place. Fischer, coupled with a romantically conflicted exorcist and a dreamer who redefines night terrors, leads us through a twisted world that can be best defined as one of a kind.

-Ford Fischer, a twenty-year old serial slasher desperately trying to resist the lure of the blade-
The woman lived in a small trailer park that was a short drive from the downtown area. Many nights Ford skipped meetings only to receive a phone call from Miriam questioning his whereabouts. She was a kind woman even though it was rumored she slaughtered an entire sorority house back in the seventies. They arrived at the woman’s trailer, the front yard decorated with gnomes dressed as businessmen and women. The streetlights weren’t operational, the neighbor nearly ghost town like.

Ford and Lu exited the car and headed up to her front door. He raised his clinched fist to knock only for Lu to notice the trailer door was half-ajar. It creaked as she pushed it open, Ford stepping in first. The front yard theme continued inside. No matter where they looked, a gnome was visible. There were photos, miniature figures, dishware, and plush gnomes on her couch. Ford resisted greeting them, not accustomed to silent stuffed animals.

Lu passed the kitchen area and headed to the bedroom door knocking. “Miriam, you here?”

Ford stood close behind Lu. “You missed the meeting, Miriam. Are you okay?”

Lu grabbed the door handle, sliding it sideways into the wall. Miriam’s body lay sprawled out on her bloodstained mattress, multiple stab wounds in the woman’s chest. The average person would have reacted wildly to the scene in the bedroom. Her withering face was pale, her light blue eyes opened. Ford and Lu found themselves admiring the murder scene first, mourning the loss of their group leader second.

Lu shut the door. “The slasher has been slashed.”

“Should we let this unfold naturally?”

“Yes, no cops tonight. I’m sure somebody will eventually uncover her body.”

“We were never here.”

“We were never here,” Lu reaffirmed.

The slashers left the scene, discreetly driving away from the trailer park.

-Sidnee Vincent, a twenty-one year old exorcist who’s romantic woes is constantly sabotaged by the demonic forces in her life.-
The exorcist and the dreamer walked the streets of downtown searching for Daniel. They checked inside the most crowded bars and a showed a few night-owls his photo. A loud scream caught the attention of those in range. Milo and Sidnee turned toward the source of the scream to find Daniel aggressively dragging a drunken young woman across the street. He wore all black, his silk shirt buttoned halfway, and no glasses. Sidnee was disgusted at what the demon had done to him.

She slowly advanced towards him. “Demon,” She shouted.

He stopped and turned to Sidnee. “Yo exorcist, how are you?”

The drunken young woman the demon clung onto spat at him and ran away.

He wiped the saliva from his face. “She’ll suffer for that later.”

“There won’t be a later,” Sidnee threatened.

“I’ll snap your neck where you stand exorcist.”

Milo took a step before Sidnee. “That won’t happen.”

The demon smirked. “Is this your boyfriend? He’s pretty.”

Milo clinched his fists. “Your fun is over. I consider this theft.”

The demon rolled his eyes at Milo‘s words, not dignifying them with a response. “You won’t extract me exorcist.”

“I’ll do it by force if it comes to that,” Sidnee shouted. “I’m prepared to end your sad existence.”

The demon took slow backward steps. “I can no longer listen to this bullshit.”

The demon took off running into the night, Sidnee and Milo chased after him. The exorcist did her best to keep up, but found herself trailing after Milo. She was amazed at how invested he was in helping her even though they had just met. It was obvious that even though he no longer wore a badge, he still lived his life to serve and protect.

-Milo Amos, a twenty-four year old dreamer whose survival instincts in his nightmares, fail in reality as he attempts to recapture an ambitious childhood dream of becoming a hero-.
As he fell, he attempted to grab onto the fence. Instead of rust, the opposite side of the fence was slippery. No matter how many times Milo tried to prevent his fall, his hands would instantly lose grip. His body landed against stiff, royal blue matting, instantly his ears being greeted with the sounds of a roaring crowd. Milo sat up to discover himself confined inside a cage, the fence black. Outside the cage sat a crowd of rabid clowns. He stood from the mat, cupping his sore rear.

The audience shouted cuss words at him. A few of them used their own breaths to fill balloons until they popped loudly, chewed on bloody cotton candy, and dug mucus from their rubber noses. Milo found the sight of the crowd comical, yet revolting. The scent of burnt popcorn met his nose and circus music that sounded as if it was being performed by a mediocre grunge band played loudly. A door on the opposite of the cage opened and a yellow haired clown, his tattoo-clad torso exposed, his rubber shoes decorated with miniature spikes, entered to a loud ovation.

As the clown, the poorly applied paint on his face peeling, raised his arms in the air, the crowd went wild. He laughed, sticking his fungus stained tongue out at Milo. A female clown tore open the polka dotted blouse she wore, pressing her wrinkled breast against the cage. Milo turned his head away from the unpleasing sight. The yellow haired clown blew a kiss at the female clown and yanked at his crotch. He refocused on Milo, delivering a pair of downward turned thumbs.

A villainous laughter sounded throughout the arena and declared, “Death match!”

-The 82, 000 word, urban fantasy/thriller novel is only the beginning of a series. Mad Moral (Mad Series, Book One) is available on Smashwords at no charge.-

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Bleeding Hearts by Ash Krafton

Sophie Galen is an advice columnist whose work leaves her neck-deep in other people’s problems. Thanks to her compassion, her gut instinct, and her magnetic charm, Sophie really knows how to attract little black clouds.
Marek Thurzo is no little black cloud; he’s a maelstrom. Marek is Demivampire, a race with the potential to evolve into vampire. A warrior who’s taken his share of spiritual damage, he hovers dangerously close to destruction.
He seeks salvation. She’s driven to save him. But what if he can’t be saved?
Sympathy for his plight becomes true empathy as Sophie’s hidden nature is revealed. Marek suspects she may be one of the Sophia, oracle and redemption of the damned Demivampire. She alone can turn back the evolutionary clock.
All she needs is the courage to face her fears. Can she save him from Falling?

I am a huge stickler for books needing a good opening. There is nothing worse than opening a book and wanting to be pulled into a world quickly and then it taking a third of the book to get into it. This book does a really good job of the beginning. It brings you in really quickly to the characters and the world. There isn't a lot of info dumps (something that also drives me crazy in beginnings of books), so I am more than happy to report that this book has a pretty solid beginning that I can say I really enjoyed.

The pacing of the novel itself was really good and enjoyable. I didn't feel like there was a lot of downtime within the book, but I also didn't feel like there was too much action all the time either. It was a really well balanced book. I think a combination of the pacing as well as having a solid well written beginning resulted in me really enjoying the character of Sophie. I felt like I knew her pretty well and when I was reading about her I would want to know more. I liked who she was as a person so it was really easy for me to enjoy reading a story about what was going on in her life.

This story has a pretty big romantic element with in it, which is perfectly fine with me, I love a good love story. But for me this particular love story suffers from a very common syndrome in books, the "non-organic love story". What I mean by this is when two characters are suddenly and inexplicably in love with each other. People, in my opinion, take time to fall in love with one another, and this is especially true in books. Yes two people can fall in lust, and that's perfectly fine, but when they are inexplicably in love it just doesn't feel right to me and is slightly annoying.

I also would like to say that I really enjoyed some of the world building elements in this book. There was a lot of Egyptian elements in the book, and I have to say I love that in the book. I love anything that takes history and uses it in really cool ways to come up with some really cool concepts, and this book did that really well for me.

I did enjoy reading this book, and I think anyone who enjoys reading urban fantasy would enjoy reading this book. I think there are some good concepts in the book and there is a lot of really solid world building. I liked the book overall, and anyone looking for a fun and enjoyable read you should check this out.