Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Somnium by Keri Lake

A work assignment in Kittery, Maine should be routine for Allie Lynch; nothing more than to prove herself a brilliant engineer. Instead she finds herself torn between two men: a gorgeous military guard, Colton Briggs, and her devilishly handsome colleague, Drew Costa. To resist temptation, Allie does the only thing she can: she throws herself into her work. 
But fate has other plans for Allie. Women are going missing all around her, Allie is struck with a series of life-threatening mishaps, and she becomes the obsession of a local deranged psychopath. Thrust into a dark world that she can hardly fathom, Allie must fight for her very survival, open her mind to new realities-and open her heart to the possibility of love. Because both of these men are trouble-but one is a greater danger than even she could imagine… 

From the synopsis I wasn't exactly sure what to expect from the book itself. I kind of thought it was going to be part love triangle part action based book. So when I started reading the book I was a little bit surprised when I found that it started off pretty slow. While books that start slowly tend to get under my skin, I gave this one more of a chance, and it was more a slow start since the author was laying down the foundation of the story, which I understand. 

Once the book started going I found that the book had a pretty good pace. There was a lot of guess work going on from me, I kept trying to figure out what was going to happen next. I actually felt that the book was more suspenseful than action, which I actually enjoyed a lot more. I really love books that keep me guessing, it keeps my imagination fired up, and I love it even more when I think I have figured out what is going to happen next and then something entirely different happens. 

As for the main character, Allie, I felt like she was really kind of a great character. I identified with her and really pulled for her to figure things out and just overall I liked her. She is a really smart girl, but she is also able to stand on her own and definitely has a mind of her own. Plus I also really like the way her personality kind of feeds off the other characters she surrounds herself with. They all kind of compliment each other with their different personalities. 

That being said the story was lacking in a couple of parts. I had some issues with some of the mystery element within the book, some of them weren't fully fleshed out, and I am one of those readers who really hate loose ends. I don't like finishing a book, and then finding that I didn't get all the answers I was looking for. Also I felt like some of the romance elements in the book were almost kind of forces, like the book needed more romance so the author put in a few more scenes. I didn't think they were necessary to the characters, and felt forced. 

Overall, it was a pretty decent book, but it needs a little bit of work. It was definitely suspenseful and there were some romantic elements within it, but if you are a reader who need their book to be completely fleshed out, I think you might have some of the same issues with the book as I did. But if you are in the mood for a decent story telling, then maybe you should check out this book. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Chance in Hell by Patrick Kampman

Chance is a Texan vampire hunter until a botched raid kills his team and sends him running for his life. Looking for a place to lie low, Chance takes what looks like an easy job in California. Dispose of a mysterious object. No vampires involved. But Chance's life is never that simple. 
Within hours of reaching the West coast, his contact is murdered and Chance is left holding the key to a demonic weapon of mass destruction. To make matters worse, the weapon was stolen from the ruthless head of a multi-national corporation who will do anything to get it back. 
With supernatural hit men on his heels, Chance has no choice but to turn to the creatures he once hunted. Soon he's neck deep in otherworldly seductresses, rival werewolf gangs, ravenous witches, and dysfunctional vampires. His only hope is to gain their trust, and their help, before all Hell breaks loose. 

I don't often get to read a lot of book writing from the guys point a view, in fact I would say 85-90% of them are from a woman's point of view. So I like when every now and again a book comes my way that break me out of my everyday book I read. I also really enjoy books that are able to mess a lot of different supernatural types into one book. A lot of times you only get one or two that are the primary focus, but this book has a little bit of everything, which I enjoyed. 

I think the pace was really good on this book. It really wasn't slow, and the action was strong, there were no real down points where I felt like things were boring or where I wanted to put the book down. It was also pretty well written, and I felt like I could really go along with Chance, and that I really enjoyed him as a character. 

Speaking of characters I thought they were really well thought out. I liked finding out more about each one and I also thought that they really compliments Chance well. I thought a lot of the exchanges were really cute and funny and literally made me chuckle out loud. I really like watching the main character get himself into trouble and then have a good cast of characters to fall back on, that feel like they are a part of a team together. 

Overall I thought this was a good read, it was fun to read. I think a lot of people will probably enjoy this book, it has an exciting plot, fun characters, and a huge supernatural element. People who are looking for something heavier on the romance will probably find this book to be lacking a little bit. But for those of you who are looking for a fun urban fantasy told from a guy's point of view, you will probably have a fun time reading this book. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rebekah Armusik Guest Post

The One Question That Makes Me Tremble

I have attended many social functions where people ask me about my husband’s work. I never have an issue discussing his paintings because I am so passionate about his art. My husband seems to leak talent, and I am always in awe of how gracefully he manages to complete any task. Mr. Armusik makes everything seem easy – even the hardest and most detailed job.

I’ve had women gush over my husband and his artwork, excitedly asking detailed questions about my life with him. They often wonder what it’s like to live with such a man – is he tortured? Distant? Always creating? Is Mr. Armusik as romantic as his work? I usually laugh in response and suffer the arduous task of having to censor myself.

The truth is that he is a joy to live with in comparison to me. I am far from a carnival ride. I’m moody and self-loathing at my worst, and sarcastic and witty at my best. Perhaps I’m being a little extreme, but you get the point. But in some twisted way, we make sense. After nearly 16 years together, I am quite sure we cannot breathe without each other.

After I disappoint the women by telling them that Eric is the perfect man, they go on to ask the dreaded question – “What do you do for a living?” I stall in horror as they pucker their lips or fondle a diamond earring. I sweat as they stare into my eyes with X-ray vision that seems to melt and destroy my soul. My voice is lost and my mouth is dry, but somehow I muster the nerve to plainly tell them I’m a writer.

I wait, quaking in my five-inch heels, praying they won’t ask the one question that makes me tremble … but – as sure as the sun sets – they ask the fucking question: “What do you write?” I feel fuzzy and at times could swear I see spots. I try to quickly think of a simple response, but nothing comes to mind. Ordinarily, I’m quick on my feet. I can tell you off and hand you your head before you even know it’s missing – but this question knocks me off balance.

I have stared at the black ceiling as I’ve tried to fall asleep at night and pondered the perfect answer to this question, only to be left with nothing. Sometimes, I wish I could just hand those ladies one of my books and walk away. In my heart, I know there is an answer; I just wish it didn’t take so long to articulate.

Sometimes if I’m feeling reckless, I just tell them I write gothic novels. If I really want to make myself seem basic and inane, I tell them I write vampire books. Either of these answers elicits the same reaction – a nod of the head and then a change of subject.

Years ago when I began working on my novels, I never thought that writing anything with vampires in it would make me feel embarrassed, but sadly, now I feel cheap when I mention that vampires are a component of what I do. It seems that people – especially older, mature people – have a tainted view of such subject matter these days, and I can’t blame them – I’ve read some of the crap while waiting for my children to pick out books at Target. I know how manufactured and silly the subject matter has become.  All of this makes what I do seem trivial if you haven’t read my work.

So now, I will attempt to explicate what I do. I will try to explain why women who would never pick up this sort of novel are now my biggest fans, and why men love the series as much as women.

In reality, it’s simple: I am a gifted storyteller. I understand the simplicity and complexity of the human condition. When I write, I write from the heart. I abandon all preconceived beliefs, rules, and judgments and let the words flow without even one oppressive thought. In my world, I am free. I am emotionally naked and loving. And because I can allow myself the beauty and freedom of perfect truth, I am, in that world, completely honest.

Maybe that honesty is the key to my success. Maybe it’s so refreshing and different for this genre that people are sucked in and overwhelmed. And perhaps that sort of abandonment is what’s lacking in most novels today. It seems difficult for people to unwrap themselves. Everyone wants to be packaged and homogenized – while I shudder at the thought.

When I sit down to write, the outcome is dependent on my day and mood. If my children were bad and messy or someone ticked me off, a character in my novel would be the recipient of my wrath. Though I have a general idea of how the novel will unfold, I never commit to anything. Rather, I allow the story to flow, to be organic and pure. I listen to my characters, honoring their judgment and desires. Nothing is ever forced or manipulated. I hardly change a damn thing. I may add to it, but I never change it – because that act, in my opinion, is unnatural and disingenuous.

I believe this is what makes my work so compelling and adored. I create a real world with real people going through identifiable stuff. I’m mindful of the language and emotions expressed because I want the experience to be life-changing. I want you to dwell on the last passage or monologue you’ve read and think about it all day. I want you to become close friends with my characters and know them well enough to expect certain things from them. I wish for you to be disappointed in them when they fail because you care that much about their well-being. In an intense moment, I want to make you gasp out loud or laugh so hard your belly aches. And when there is heartache, I want you to cry for them and because of them.

Because I am a natural writer, I’m well equipped to make you feel things you’ve forgotten or wished you would never have to feel again. I want to simultaneously welcome you and then make you feel uncomfortable. I want you to change your perspective after reading my work. I want you to feel empowered and charged, because underneath all the fiction is a powerful self-help message unique to this genre.

I want to entertain and inspire. I want women to acknowledge their potential and personal power and I want men to learn how to love a woman with passion and respect. I want to unify people and join them in the universal struggle of life by illuminating the various struggles we all face but feel are unique to us. Through Nadija, I’m able to soothe the fears and feelings that we are alone on this journey. And though there are supernatural elements in my novels, they’re primarily about the human condition and our universal struggle to remain joyful and thankful – even in times of adversity.

A good writer will not make you skip to the sex scenes; they’ll keep your attention until you arrive there. I am such a writer. And when you have to wait for my next novel, it’ll be torture, because you’ll miss your friends and lovers. The novels are rich in developed characters, language, and insight. They bridge the gap between romance and horror. And though bad and grotesque things do happen, they’re not horror novels – they’re gothic novels. The difference is that I make death seem pretty, even in the wake of disaster. I leave the slasher crap to people without the capability of writing true emotions; I’m not interested in such inane literature.

I once had a friend buy my books but admit she was afraid to read them. I was confused. I asked her why she was afraid and she explained that she was fearful of the “horror.” I nearly fell over laughing. I did what I do best, instilling a healthy fear in her that made her pick up the books – and it worked. In just four days she read the first two novels and became one of my biggest and most enthusiastic fans. She is so passionate about the work that I felt compelled to have her test-read my third book, which came out this past May. This time she read Lucifer Rising in a day and a half and took notes reflecting her emotions as she read. She told me she didn’t want to forget her thoughts at those points.

Needless to say, I was humbled and gracious. I was thrilled that I could win my friend over as easily as I have done with hundreds before her. And the reason was simple: I promise the reader an epic adventure brimming with emotion, laughter, and authentic romance. What more can you ask for in one series?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Louis Corsair Guest Post

Hello all! My debut novel, Absolution, is an Urban Fantasy that combines elements of classic Detective Fiction. Here is the blurb:

In 1947, a gangster murders private investigator Raymond Adams. In 2011, he's brought back to life for 24 hours to solve the supernatural murder of a Hollywood Adult film star. 

When the son of a Pit Lord is murdered in Hollywood, the celestial beings in charge of the Four Realms ask Raymond Adams to figure who did it and find the victim's missing soul. Without memories of his life, he accepts the case to gain eternal peace. But the job is daunting:

24 hours to nab a killer...
24 hours to find a missing soul...
24 hours to unravel the victim's exotic private life...
24 hours to stop a plot to send the universe into chaos...

With only the help of a possessed cop and a medium, Adams must trek through a Hollywood underground filled with pornography, prostitutes, the homeless, and sadists, along with supernatural monsters. But can he solve the case when his own haunting memories keep surfacing, telling him exactly what kind of man he was in life?

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Return to Mercya by Mark Ruckledge

In a world beyond imagination one man returns to the land he once knew only to find it changed beyond all recognition and overrun by evil. But with companionship and love he may just make it through. 
This is his story... 

While I have made it clear lately that I do enjoy a novella, and that there have been some seriously good ones that have crossed my path lately, I am a little bit on the fence on this novella. And here is why. My main issue in the past with novellas is that the plot is either two short to be enjoyable, or the complex for the author to flesh out in such a short amount of time that it ends up just annoying me. I felt like this novella was more like a sample chapter of a book that is going to come out in a few months, it did not feel like it was really able to stand on it's own in my opinion. 

That isn't to say that the novella didn't have some strong points. The author was pretty well versed in creating pretty good descriptions, enough for the reader to feel like they could paint a picture of what is going on within the book. 

Along with that the book is pretty fast pace, and there is a lot of action, so for people who are big fans of action you probably would enjoy this. 

Overall, I feel like the novella was too short, and so I don't have a lot of opinions about the content. I think a lot of people who enjoy fantasy might enjoy the novella if you are looking for a fast read that is action packed. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Night Watchman by J. L. Manning

This story takes place in any city where there is street crime, street racing, and underground fighting. There is a young man that was in a car accident as a child and was left with physical limitations. Over these years a speech impairment and self-doubt because of how people now saw him left him lonely. A technology that he found did help him gain abilities that he never had and he wanted to use these abilities to help out his city. The abilities that he gained improved and the side effects gave him abilities that he was learning to take advantage of. He started to investigate a criminal that he had found that got him involved in some tight spots. He gained the most unlikely of friends that got him involved with underground activities. His confidence grew, but when the time comes will he do the right thing?

I liked the synopsis of this book, it's kind of a cool idea. So many things can happen to you in life, so it's really cool to read about a character who took a tragedy and overcame it. I like that not only was he able to overcome it to make his own life better, but that he would want to try and make other people's lives better. 

Most of the time my problems with books are that they move to slow, but I really didn't have this problem when I was reading this book. My actual issue with this book had to do with moving to quick. For me a book is like a journey, you travel from point A to point B, and along the way you have bumps in the road, and hopefully a fun ride with great scenery. But for this book it felt like the author needed to move the book forward and didn't know how to do it, so they skipped some character development for John. I felt like if I had been along the ride for more of the journey with John then I would have been more invested in him as a character, and maybe would have enjoyed him a little bit more. 

Another thing that I got from this book is that I feel like it's more of a guy book. Now I hate to say this, because I think books can work for both men and women depending on the person's interests. But for me I felt like this book didn't really work for me, for example the car elements/fighting had more a feel that I think a man would enjoy. I know I can think of a lot of my guy friends who might enjoy this book more than I did. 

That being said I did enjoy some elements of the book, such as I enjoyed the different people that John met along the way. And once I got over missing out on some of his character development I did like seeing him evolve as a character through the book. 

I am going to give this book a "so-so" rating because that is what my experience with the book, but that being said I really think there are some guy readers who would really enjoy this book, so you should consider giving this book a read. 

Agents of Change by Guy Harrison

An amiable corporate manage by day and a matchmaker whenever he can get around to it, Calvin Newsome's new dream job falls into his lap when he's recruited by a secret worldwide organization whose agents use uncanny abilities to empower and influence everyday downtrodden individuals. Disaster striker, however, when an elaborate scheme leaves Calvin as a prime murder suspect... and his new employer is presumably to blame. 
With the authorities on his heels and his life left in ruin, Calvin uses his new powers to blend in until a journey for freedom becomes a quest for peace. As the agency's rival organization threatens the security of all the earth's inhabitants, he teams up with unlikely allies and battles surprising enemies hellbent on unleashing their power in a twisted version of justice, innocent lives be damned. 

For me I felt like this book started off a little bit on the slower side of things, which is one of my pet peeves in books, but there was one thing about this book that I think helped with this. The author has a pretty good sense of humor in the beginning of the book, so even though it starts off a little bit on the slow side the humor within the beginning helps distract you from the slower pace. And I always like a little bit of humor in my books, so that was kind of nice for me. 

I think that the idea behind the organization that Calvin is recruited by will appeal to a lot of people, and they will find it interesting. The Agency basically does things to help people who are going through hard times in their life, which kind of feels a little like Pay it Forward to me. But in the times that we are, with a lot of people going through hard times, I can see how the idea of an Agency like this existing could be appealing to people. 

While there are a lot of concepts in the book that I think are interesting I am not sure there was enough done with them to make them truly work within the book itself. I think the first problem I had with the book was the powers you get from being a part of the Agency. I felt like the powers could have been interesting if they made more sense within the context of the Agency, but the powers often had a way of overshadowing everything else, and the backstory behind them in connection with the Agency wasn't really strong enough to support it. 

I felt like there were also a lot of problems with the secondary characters. I don't think any of the characters beside Calvin were designed to be likable. This was a problem for me mainly because I don't think one character can really carry a book on their own, the readers has to enjoy at least a few of them. When you don't, at least for me, it starts to interfere with the pacing of the book and become less enjoyable of a reader. This really didn't start to become a problem for me until about half way through the book. 

There is a lot of action in this book, so if you are a person who really like action in their books then this could be a book for you. For me though I really wanted there to be more to the book than there really was. I felt like I needed more character development in order for me to become really invested in them as characters and in the plot. I think the bones of the book could be really good they just needed more work before going to press. I think if you like a lot of action then you might enjoy this book, it does have some interesting concepts. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

unDEAD by Trinidad Giachino

Private Detective with a reputation for never leaving a job unfinished. A man named Lord Hurlingthon contacts him, requesting his abilities to solve a deeply personal mystery: Hugh Hurlingthon is two hundred and thirteen years old and can't die. 
Or so he claims. 
Saussure will have to discover if this man is telling the truth, and if so, why can't he cease to exist. Along the course of this investigation, Richard Saussure will question his beliefs while attempting to come to terms with his own past. 

I'm a really big fan of mysteries and detective type novels, in fact I used to read them a lot before I discovered fantasy books. So when a book comes my way that is a combination of the two I always get excited. I love trying to figure out the mystery before the novel is over, and love when a book makes me think, and makes me want to know what is going to happen next. Part of the reason why I enjoyed reading un(DEAD) is because I really didn't know what was going to happen next within the plot and it made me want to read more so I could find out. 

One of the most important things in mystery type books is pacing (not that pacing isn't important in all books), you need the pacing to reflect the sense of suspense that mystery books need to have. I think that this book did a really good job with pacing, and keeping me interested. I didn't feel like there were any points within the book that were laggy or made me get bored. 

I really like the secondary characters in the book as well, they all had a part to play, and I think they all played their parts really well. Personally I think it's easy to make a main character more likable than the secondary characters, but in this book I actually found it a little bit opposite. I thought the Detective as a main character was not as fully thought out as I would have liked, and I did have a harder time connecting to him on a character level. I felt like I didn't know him that well, and I didn't necessarily understand his motivations and who he was as a person, which for me is a really important thing for me when it comes to liking characters. Thankfully the plot was strong enough to make me over look this issue within the book. 

Overall, I did enjoy the book and I think most people will enjoy it as well, especially if you like mysteries. I think if you are looking for a paranormal book that is full of a world of paranormal peoples, then this might not be the book for you. But if suspense is your think then you should give this book a try. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Sands of Time by Dianna Hardy

Seven days ago, Elizabeth May tried to commit suicide. She was found by Paul, her husband, who took her under his wing and back to their home. But the attempted suicide isn't Elizabeth's main problem- Elizabeth can't remember who she is, or a single thing about her life beyond the past week. 
Meanwhile, Pueblo- the demon blood-bonded to the witch Amy, is going insane trying to find her. Amy disappeared one week ago, and it seems not even their bond is strong enough to penetrate whatever magic hides her. 
As Pueblo enlists the help of angels and demons alike, Elizabeth begins to piece together parts of her forgotten life. But what she uncovers may just have her wanting to turn away from who she really is... for good. 

I reviewed the first book in this series, and I really enjoyed it. It was one of the first few novellas I enjoyed reading. It was a fun and exciting ride the entire time, so I was looking forward to reading this follow up to book 1. 

First and foremost I have to say that I really do enjoy the writing style in general of Dianna Hardy. She really has a way of making her books really easy to read, and to so quickly sweep you up into the stories and into the characters. It's so easy to really not only enjoy the story line but also really develop emotions for the characters as well. 

Book two does a great job of brining out all the characters you love from book one and then expanding on them. More than that I felt like a lot of the world building happens in The Sands of Time, when you read book one you just kind of get your feet wet with the information about everything that inhabits this world. But when you open this book, you learn so much more about what it is angels, witches, and even demons mean within the confines of this world. 

Hardy does a great job with the characters, and not just how they work together as couples but also how they work as individuals. I think one of the hardest things to do when you have a couple is when they are separated, which is the case with Amy and Pueblo. You have to find a way to keep the reader interested in the couple while still keeping the suspense of the separation. Hardy does a great job with this and Pueblo and Amy. Pueblo's frustration at not being able to find the woman he is literally bonded to with blood is so evident in her writing. You really pull for Pueblo to find his way back to Amy. I think you will really enjoy going on this journey with them. 

I have really grown to enjoy novellas, and this one is another great novella out there. So if you are looking for a shorter read, but not sacrificing any of the character driven action then this is a series you should certainly try out. I think all paranormal romance readers would enjoy reading this! 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Kristi Jones Guest Post

Today we are joined by Kristi Jones who is here to talk about her new book The Corpse Goddess. When she's not writing you can find her at her website, on facebook, or at her blog! Enjoy the excerpt from her new book!

What is a Valkyrie, anyway?

When I tell peoplethat my debut novel is about a young woman who discovers she's a Valkyrie, theusual question to follow is What is a Valkyrie,anyway?

According to Norselegends, a Valkyrie is a goddess of death, a woman who chooses which warriorsslain in battle will ascend to Valhalla, a warrior’s paradise.  Think of her as a sort of corset-cladgrim reaper.

My obsession with Valkyriesstarted long ago, when I was in seventh grade and attending HarkenbergHauptschule in Hoerstel, Germany. While other American kids were reading aboutsuperheroes and princesses, I was reading about Nordic gods and kick-assValkyries with major family issues.

For my debut novel, The Corpse Goddess, I've used bits andpieces of the various legends to create a world where Valkyries walk the earthin the here and now.  These lowergoddesses receive one human lifetime before taking up their duties as animmortal. Their first duty is to walk with the dead.

In The Corpse Goddess, Meg Highbury is justa college student looking for a good time, but when a late night seance goesawry, she accidentally kicks off this Death Duty.

Fighting to stayalive and retrieve her single human lifetime, Meg is pitched into a moralquagmire where Valkyries struggle to adapt to a changing world and battle thegods who direct their destiny.

Excerpt from The Corpse Goddess

Hundreds of birdsflew in. A deluge of beating wings. Not just crows, but brown sparrows andwhite doves, gray owls and red cardinals. 
They advanced, anairborne army, then split into two columns, lining both sides of the DairyQueen dining room.
Black Bird flew outof the night and landed on one of the Formica tables. When the hummingbirdsflew in, Meg dropped the fryer basket and the ice scraper, barely registeringtheir clattering crash to the floor. 
Hundreds – maybethousands – of hummingbirds flew in two parallel lines, like swordsmen in a royalprocession. Meg wasn’t completely shocked to see Mother appear between them.She took a step back, colliding with Cousin Ed. The zombie gripped her frombehind, its finger bones digging into the softening flesh of her arms. Meg wastoo stunned, mesmerized by the vision in front of her, to take much notice ofthe zombie's grip. She felt like a shield held between Mother and Cousin Ed.
Mrs. Highbury wore ablood-red corset and white, flowing skirts. Her long, raven black hair wasloose, a mantle curling down her back. She had snow white skin and gray blueeyes that always left a block of ice in Meg’s throat.
Mrs. Highburyhovered a good foot off the ground, looking ethereal in the scant Texas moonlight. 
Ay Dios mio!” Armando gasped. Dr.Gonzalez jumped to his feet. Armando eased onto his knees and crawled backward.
The hummingbirdsflitted from table to chair, chair to table, looking for a place to rest. Mrs.Highbury puckered her red, red lips and whistled. The little birds flew to theside walls, joining the others, their soundless wings twirling like whirligigs.
A cathedral hushfell over the Dairy Queen dining room. Only the sound of the larger birds’wings, snapping like flags in a high wind, interrupted the quiet. 
 Mrs. Highbury landed at the gaping holewhere the swinging doors had been, her shining black boots coming to asoundless rest.
“Hello, Mother.” 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Seeking a Scribe by Marsha A. Moore

Synopsis: Lyra McCauley is a writer and loves fantasy novels, but until she opens a selection from bookstore owner Cullen Drake, she has no idea he's a wizard character who lives a double life inside that volume...or the story's magic will compel her from the edge of depression to adventure, danger, and love.
His gift to Lyra, the Book of Dragonspeir, was actually her copy, misplaced years ago. Lost in her pain following divorce and death, she fails to recognize him as her childhood playmate from the fantasyland. Friendship builds anew. Attraction sparks. But Lyra doubts whether a wizard is capable of love. She's torn- should she protect her fragile heart or risk new love?
Opening the book's cover, she confronts a quest: save Dragonspeir from destruction by the Black Dragon before he utilizes power of August's red moon to expand his strength and overthrow the opposing Imperial Dragon. Lyra accepts the challenge, fearing Cullen will perish if evil wins. Along with magical animal guides, Cullen helps her through many perils, but ultimately Lyra must use her own...and time is running out.


First off I love the concept of this book. I think just about everyone who is a big reader can understand what I am talking about her. When you find a book you love or a character you love, wouldn't it be so amazing if you could step into that world and actually live in it, or meet your favorite character? This book kind of takes that desire and expands on it. Lyra is a part of this great imaginative world and she is the one who has to save it, and the world exists within a book! In a way the book is kind of a book inside a book. I personally think that this is a really cool way for Moore to create a way where every reader's fantasy of being in a book comes true. 

Another strong point in the book for me was the use of animals. I think I have made it pretty clear how much I love animals on this blog, and I love when they make an appearance in books. Anything from someones companion dog who has nothing magical about them, to the animals in this book, who are some of the coolest characters themselves; made from fantasy and with their own personalities to boot! 

I think the really cool thing about the plot in the book was that really their were kind of two plots. One in Lyra's world and one in the world that takes place inside of the book. But the two plots worked so well together in tandem, because obviously Lyra was a part of both of them. I think often times when you have something like this book, that is a little bit more complicated on the plot side, as a reader you can sometimes feel like you are missing out on some of the details or that too much is going on and you can't follow the storyline, but this was no a problem at all in Moore's book. She made everything about both worlds very easy to understand and fun for the reader to follow along with. 

I really enjoyed the tone throughout the book. I thought the writing in the book was really good, and enjoyable. I thought the pace was just right, nothing felt rushed and nothing felt to slow (and I hate when things are slow so that made me really happy). I like that nothing was overly serious throughout the entire book, there were moments that were funny and felt organic, and of course there were moments of seriousness, but it was good to have those funny moment to break up the intensity. 

I think the only thing I can really talk about that I wish might have been a little bit different is the backstory. Sometimes when I read a book I feel like the author info dumps all the back story in the first couple chapters and it kind of turns me off to a book. But in this book I wish I had known more of the backstory for the characters. But then again this is book one, so hopefully with the next books you will get to learn more and more about the characters (which is of course always a strong possibility). 

Overall I really thought that the book was a solid book all around. I think it is one of those books that would be enjoyed by a wide range of readers, there is definitely something in this book for epic fantasy readers, I think the urban fantasy crowd could also easily enjoy this book, and I also believe that the paranormal romance readers could find something in this book to enjoy as well. So if you are looking for something new, and you have ever wished that you could be apart of a book, then you should check out this book. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Diane Barr Guest Post

Welcome to the Shade – where all the paranormal creatures hang out and the humans flock to. Why, you ask?

Because in the Shade you can have dinner with a werewolf and you aren’t the main course. You can drink with a vampire without losing any blood. Or, how about hanging out and dancing with a dragon. There are so many paranormal species in the Shade to tempt and mesmerize you. Don’t forget about the unique shops that cater to Otherworldly desires and curiosities. Would you like to learn more about the Paranormal community that thrives amidst a human world?

Then Out of the Shade by Diane Barr is for you.

Faeries that carry katanas and guns instead of sprinkling magic dust and granting wishes. Dragons that reanimate the dead. Drug-crazed goblins terrorizing neighborhoods. Illegal demons attempting to conjure the alter ego of an Egyptian goddess.

Sounds like something out of a nightmare, right? Wrong. It’s my everyday life.
Welcome to the Shade, where all the creatures of myth hang out and where I, Detective Gabrielle Tate of the Supernatural Task Force, police them. My partner is AWOL and my sexy dragon boss is leaving nothing to chance as we deal with goblins high on Escape and a serial killer—or worse, a nest of rogue vampires—leaving the drained corpses of faeries and cops all over town.

And then there’s the psychotic demons trying to conjure the goddess Hathor’s alter ego, Sekhmet, to destroy humanity. As a faery and direct descendent of Hathor, I’m eager to manifest her power and use it to combat evil. At the same time, I need to learn how to control the accompanying bloodlust. How? By taking lessons from the charismatic leader of the local vampire clan, of course.
If you thought the mean streets of Detroit were tough, you’ve never seen the Shade.

It’s available in e-book format or paperback and you can find Diane at Facebook, Twitter, her Blog, Website and email.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Stephen Zimmer Guest Post

The Flying Steeds of Ave

One of the things I have had a tremendous amount of fun with in the Fires in Eden series is the aerial dimension.  Yes, I am talking about a prominent, ongoing aerial dimension within an epic fantasy series!   While there are things like dragons in Ave, and many other kinds of flying creatures, I thought it would be great to explore the possibilities inherent in being able to take human and non-human characters alike to the skies in a manner they could direct, via riding winged mounts.

To facilitate this, I envisioned a race of flying creatures existing within Ave that are called the Skiantha, all of which have great wingspans and are four-legged, the latter allowing for them to run across the ground when they are not engaged in flight.  Among the Skiantha are several different types.  These various kinds reflect significant differences in form, and each is found in different geographical areas of Ave that have resulted in the winged steeds leaving their marks on the cultures that share the same lands.

Adding the aerial dimension has a practical component in terms of the writing of the series, doing a lot of things for the story and plot development.  First of all, it allows for a broader reach across Ave in a much shorter amount of time.  Flying covers distances much faster than sailing, horseback, or foot.  Because of this, with the use of flying steeds by characters, Ave instantly becomes more expansive within the story, as longer distances can be factored into journeys and situations of all kinds.  Contacts between realms and individuals spread far apart are also drawn much closer, providing stronger foundations for things like the Unifier’s influence being heavily present in so many lands.

The aerial dimension also expands the battlefield options, bringing in new strategies and tactics to the larger clashes taking place within Ave.  Even skirmishes take on a new level, as readers of Crown of Vengeance discovered early when Trogens swoop in upon a contingent of Saxan cavalry traveling on the ground. 

I don’t want to give away every detail of each type of Skiantha, but I would like to show how they relate to the lands they are found in, and give a little idea regarding their physical forms.

The Bregas are found in the lands inhabited by the tribes of the Five Nations, who are influenced by the Iroquois of our world.  The Bregas have a stockier, bearish appearance to their bodies, which is intended as a homage to the cultural reverence that the Iroquois hold for the bear (the eating of bear meat by one of the Iroquois people, for example, holds deep significance).   The Bregas, while raised by the tribal people of the Five Realms, are not great in number.   

The Fenraren are wolfish in appearance and inhabit the lands of the Midragardans.  The Fenraren are also a tribute in the way that the Bregas are, in that they honor a respected creature of the culture they are found among.   Midragardan culture, which is heavily based upon the Vikings, embraces the wolf, as it does the raven, two creatures that are closely associated with war due to their regular manifestations in the aftermath of battles.  The Fenraren, with their wolf-like forms, have joined animals such as wolves, ravens, and bears in being a strong symbol for the Midragardans.  They have been raised in much greater numbers than the Bregas, and are used by Midragardans wherever they have homesteads and settlements.     

The Himmerosen have bodily appearances that echo Rottweilers within our world.  Though less stocky than the Bregas, they are faster, and are perhaps the most responsive type of Skiantha to their riders.  Found in Saxany, the Himmerosen form the backbone of a special force of warriors led by Aldric the Stormblade that Aethelstan’s closest friend Edmund is a part of.   While not as numerous as the Fenraren, they are not as rare as the Bregas.

The Harraks have a resemblance to a brown hyena in form, and they are found in lands populated by the Trogens and the Kiruvans.  The influence for the Harraks is tied to another kind of Skiantha, the Lavion, which are lion-like and ridden by the Elves, who mostly dwell on a large island to the north of Trogen lands.

The ages old rivalry between hyenas and lions is reflected in these two kinds of steeds, which are mortal adversaries, something that takes even deeper relevance when considering the great enmity existing between the Trogens and Elves.  The Harraks and the Lavions alike are raised in considerable numbers, and the Kiruvans have done well in training and raising Harraks too.   As the Kiruvans and Trogens are both involved with the Unifier, in supporting His wars, the Avanorans have also begun to train and utilize Harraks as steeds.

That’s all I’m going to talk about at the moment.  There could very well be other kinds of Skiantha within Ave, it just too early to say, but I would not be entirely surprised if readers are introduced to new types in future novels or short stories set within Ave.  Let’s just leave it at that for right now!

While the Skiantha are not the only kind of flying steeds found within the novels, as the huge Darroks, cousins to dragon-kind, and the infernal steeds of the Arcamons demonstrate in the first books of the series, they are the most commonly encountered by far.   I hope that readers enjoy Ave’s flying steeds, some of whom take very significant roles within the series, such as a Himmeros named Spirit Wing.  The Skiantha serve a definite, important purpose, expanding story possibilities on a number of fronts, and I am very confident that they enrich the reader’s experience of Ave on many levels. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Blood Before Sunrise by Amanda Bonilla

Synopsis: For months, Darian and her Shaede Guardian, Raif, have searched for the Oracle who attempted to overthrow the Shaede Nation- and kill Darian in the bargain. But now that they've finally found the half-crazed Oracle, they are granted a possibility too painful for Raif to imagine and too enticing for Darian to ignore.

Darian is determined to reunite Raif and the daughter he thought was dead, but her mission quickly proves dangerous when her love, Tyler, is almost killed. And when a brooding and mysterious Far warrior offers his guidance- at an extraordinary price- Darian finds herself willing to risk everything. As her single-minded hunts turns into an obsession, and she and Tyler grow further apart, Darian becomes caught between the man she loves like a brother and the man whose love she can't live without.

Review: I am a huge fan of Amanda Bonilla, and it's really not just her writing that I love. She is one of those authors who is very accessible to readers and I love that about her. But her writing is really awesome too. I really loved the first book in the series, and I really enjoyed the novella (seriously if authors keep putting out these great novellas I'm going to have to rethink my anti-novella stance). So I have been waiting for book two and it finally arrived. I was very curious to see what was going to happen to Darian now that the big battle from book 1 was over.

The plot of the book was not exactly what I was expecting. Shaedes of Gray was very much a book where the plot action based and you had this feeling when you were reading it that the stakes couldn't get any higher. I did not get that feeling from BBS. For me this entire book is so character driven, although there is plenty of action scenes, and when you finally find out what is really going on you realize the stakes are pretty high), but mostly it's so about the characters.

Darian is still finding her way as this new "changed" being that the events of book one left her in. She has also found herself in a relationship with Tyler who she does truly love, but after not letting anyone close to her in 100 years there are certainly some growing pains that need to be worked out. It also doesn't help that someone is clearly messing with Tyler's bond to her and it's make their situation all the more tense.

Raif is such a great character, and you really get to see how much Darian loves him. He has become really like family to her, Bonilla refers to him as a brother type love, but he kind of feels like a cross between brother and father type figure. He has done so much for her so of course she wants to do anything she can for him, like help find his daughter. By the time the book ends I love Raif all the more, and I am so glad that Darian has him to lean on.

My one complaint is that I would have loved to actually see more Xander in the book. He is referred to a lot, and has a few scenes, but generally speaking I missed his whole high and mighty routine/trying to convince Darian to be with him.

Overall I really enjoyed the book. Like I said it is super character driven, and you get to meet some new ones along the way, but you also get to know the old ones a lot better. At the end of the book I really felt like the whole theme was about love, and so many different kinds of love are included in this book. And the ending was so bittersweet, it really made me want to know where everyone was going to go from here. If I had to pick I think the first book is still my favorite, but only by a hair, this is a great follow up book and I would recommend it to anyone (but read the first one too!).