Friday, September 21, 2012

L.K. Below Guest Post

3 Days until the release of This Blackened Night, The Order: Book 3!

Every author has a set of characters more dear to their hearts than any others. In most cases, this stems from these characters being among the first ever created. I won't claim Lori and Terrence were my very first, but they did come close. Their first book, Stalking Shade, which released in 2011, was originally written in 2007. And rewritten. And rewritten.

And now it feels like a dear friend is moving away. With the release of This Blackened Night on September 24th, 2012, the trilogy will come to an end. Lori might be a prickly character, not easy for anyone but Terrence to love, but I had a lot of fun with her. When I wrote this third book late last year, I dragged my feet to see it finished for the same reason. I didn't want to let the pair of them go. A not-so-secret part of me is hoping for an overwhelming response from readers asking me to continue so I have an excuse to revisit my favorite characters.

For now, I'm counting down the days until the third book releases. Maybe you'll fall in love with Lori and Terrence every bit as fiercely as I have. Lori might be stubborn in pushing people away, but Terrence is the most persistent character I've ever written. Good thing, too.

Join me in celebrating the release of the third book a bit early with this short, sweet teaser excerpt:

This Blackened Night by L.K. Below

With murders cropping up all around, who should she trust?

After months of searching, Lori finally scrounges up a clue as to the whereabouts of the missing leader of her secret organization. But her vision isn't encouraging--it points to her vampire companion Terrence as the culprit.

Terrence is adamant that he isn't at fault. Even though she knows she might be walking into a trap, she follows his lead to a shabby island port. When her informants start turning up dead with puncture wounds in their necks, Lori wonders just how well she knows Terrence. And why does he act different during the search than in their hotel room?

Lori doesn't know who to trust anymore. She only hopes that she won't be the next victim.

Six Sweet Sentences from the book:

Was this the same man she’d just dreamed of? The two were night and day. One harsh, demanding, and sure to get his way. The other considerate. And maybe a touch too persistent. Maybe her dream had been just that after all--and not a vision.

Learn more about the series as a whole on the Lyrical Press, Inc. website:

Read a longer excerpt from This Blackened Night at

Bio: If L.K. Below gets far too attached to her characters, well, that's because they're interesting people. Read two of her favorites in her urban fantasy series, The Order. Join her online at to learn more. Want to keep up to date with her tour stops? Follow her on Twitter ( or Facebook (

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Amanda Carlson Interview

I have loved reading everything I have read that Amanda Carlson has written, and I can't wait to read more of her work in the coming months. I was more than happy to host her on this blog and to do an interview with her. I hope this provides a nice look into the world she has created. Enjoy.

UFR: If you had to pick a theme song for this book what would it be and why?
AC: I listened to a lot of Kings of Leon with this book. I love Closer, which I’ve heard is actually about a vampire. But for this one I think it had to be Sex on Fire. Everything was changing for Jessica so quickly and the beat to that song applied (plus, I love it. It’s super sexy.).

UFR: Since everyone who reads this blog is a reader themselves, I love asking about what your characters would be reading. So if Jessica had a book on her nightstand, what would it be?
AC: Hmm, she’d possibly be reading Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. She likes an edgy read. No romance for her.

UFR: Do you share any characteristics with Jessica?
AC: No, not really. I wrote the kind of heroine I’d like to hang out with more than anything having to do with myself personally. I’m low key and she’s tons of fun, LOL! I so wish I could take her out and pick her brain.

UFR: If you could be any member of any supernatural race, what would it be and why? Would you chose a werewolf like the ones you write?
AC: I think I’d be a shifter, but I’d like the freedom to shift into anything. I’d love to fly as well as run fast. It would come in handy!

UFR: What was the hardest scene for you to write in the book and why?
AC: The opening is always the hardest. It’s what I rewrote the most. Drawing the reader into a new world is nerve wracking. There’s a lot of pressure to do it right, entice them in but don’t give them too much. If you over explain the world, readers get bored. Book 1 in a series usually has the most info, because the world has to be outlined. It’s the first introduction a reader gets to a world. Subsequent books don’t have to spend as much time there, so the pacing is usually faster.

UFR: Who is your favorite male character to write so far? They all have so many different attributes, any favorites among them?
AC: I love James, there’s no two ways about it. But Rourke has my heart. He’s the most mysterious and has the most to offer Jessica. I do love writing Danny’s snark too, but it has to be Rourke. He’s been dubbed Mr. Sexypants by a reviewer and I think that moniker will stick!

UFR: Who was your first introduction into urban fantasy?
AC: I fell into PNR first with Kresley Cole. That was awesome! My first UF? Hmm, I think it was Kim Harrison? But I read a lot of in between before I found ass-kicking UF. Once I did, that quickly became my genre of choice. I love my UF full of action with a side of romance.

UFR: Who are some of your favorite authors?
AC: Amanda Bonilla, Julie Ann Walker, Faith Hunter, Karen Chance and Kate SeRine.

UFR: Any advice you would give to aspiring writers?
AC: FINISH. You have to reach the end no matter how bad you think it may be. If you don’t finish, there is no book! I know you can do it. The story is in there someplace. Keep at it.

UFR: Now that Full Blooded is out, can you tell us anything about Jessica's next adventure?
AC: Jessica’s on a non-stop adventure in HOT BLOODED to find her man, kick some goddess ass and figure out what she is. It’s full of action and mayhem. Lots of mythological baddies and fighting involved. It was a blast to write. I can’t wait until it releases this April.

Thanks so much for hosting me today! It was a pleasure to stop by. For anyone who jumps in to the series, I hope you enjoy it!

Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson

Born the only female in an all male race, Jessica McClain isn’t just different—she’s feared. 
After living under the radar for the last twenty-six years, Jessica is thrust unexpectedly into her first change, a full ten years late. She wakes up and finds she’s in the middle of a storm. Now that she’s become the only female full-blooded werewolf in town, the supernatural world is already clamoring to take a bite out of her and her new Pack must rise up and protect her.

I was fortunate enough to be able to read the novella before it came out and reviewed it (seriously check it out). I have read a lot of novellas that a written for book series and now that I have read this book, book 1 in the series, I can honestly say this is the best companion novella I have read. I think reading the novella gives you such amazing insight into the character of Jessica, that when you start reading Full Blooded you will already love her and in some ways understand her.

So now that I have talked up the novella I should probably fill you in on the book. Full Blooded is a great first book in the series. It opens up a lot of characters in Jessica's world in just this amazing way. But first an formost I think we should touch on the concept of werewolves in this book. All the werewolves are male (which you could get from reading the synopsis), but it's a really interesting dynamic that this creates. You have a bunch of really superstitious, super strong, battling for power males who suddenly have this female among them. And what do they do to this female? Do they revere her? No, they treat her like she is less than nothing, and worse that she will be the downfall of them all. That's not to say she doesn't have allies, and she has some really good allies that end up being really great characters to watch evolve. But overall without even touching on the story of the book I love the concept. I like that Carlson was able to take a race, werewolves, and toy with all your preconceived notions of what a werewolf is suppose to be, and then make it something cool and unique. I love when an author is able to take an idea that I have in my head and surprise me.

The book starts off right in the thick of it, Jessica is in the middle of her first change and oh lord does it not go well. This change, well it changes everything about her life. And not just her life but the life of the pack she left behind, that she thought she would never be a part of. You find out more and more about Jessica's DNA and what her being a werewolf means as the story goes on, and I won't ruin it for you because Carlson does a great job giving you just enough information to leave you wanting more. But this changes everything for just about everyone.

Carlson also does a pretty awesome job crafting the other characters. Jessica's dad is really everything you would want in a dad. He's a great alpha and he does everything he can to protect his pack, but at the same time he is in this terrible situation where the pack sees his daughter as a problem. But the great thing about him, is that throughout the book I never once doubted his love for his daughter. She has other people who love and care about her just as much. I love her brother for one, and their bond only grows throughout the book. And of course there is of course her childhood friend, fellow "different shifter", and business partner who sticks by her side no matter what.

As for the romance in this book, there is definitely some hot and heavy action within the book. I am so tempted to give you some information about the hot and heavy but I really don't want to ruin it for you. I was a little bit surprised by the events, so I think it would be better for you to experience the ride through the book.

And as for the ending, well it has a pretty awesome ending. It leaves a lot open for the next book, and it makes you really want to know what is going to happen next. I really enjoyed this book, it was one of those books that I didn't want to put down and I seriously enjoyed every word of it. I liked the writing style of Carlson, and her ability to write not only the world building and characters in a fantastic way but she also writes action really well too. I would recommend this book to anyone who like a "were" book but I would recommend this book to anyone who liked Urban Fantasy at all. It's a great ride.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Haunting Obsession by R.J. Sullivan

Daryl Beasley collects all things Maxine Marie, whose famous curves and fast lifestyle made her a Hollywood icon for decades after her tragic death. Daryl's girlfriend, Loretta Stevens, knew about his geeky lifestyle when they started dating, but she loves him, quirks and all. 

Then one day Daryl chooses to buy a particularly tacky piece of memorabilia instead of Loretta's birthday present. Daryl ends up in the doghouse, not only with Loretta, but with Maxine Marie herself. The legendary blonde returns from the dead to give Daryl a piece of her mind--and a haunting obsession he'll never forget. 

We all know society is still enamored with Marilyn Monroe, even though it's been so many years since her untimely death. I know a lot of girls who still idolize her, and geez how many tattoos people have of her that I have seen. I myself am not nearly as untraced with her as a lot of people, but I can respect who she was to history. So I was a bit intrigued in this story, wanting to see if it was going to be enjoyable or just too cheesy/someone cashing in on the Marilyn craze. 

Turns out it was actually pretty good. Loretta reminds me of one of those women who puts up with her boyfriend gaming all the time, but then her patience starts to run out. The thing I liked about Loretta though is she isn't a push over, and she isn't afraid to say when she thinks things have gone to far. She doesn't make excuses for anyone. 

Since this is well a shorter book, I don't want to tell you too much about it because its so easy to give away to much information about novellas and take all the fun out of reading them. But the pace was pretty good, the writing solid, and a nice quick read. It was fun to read, I liked the characters, and the paranormal/society elements were good. There are definitely some adult topics in here so I wouldn't recommend for younger readers. But I do think just about anyone can find something they enjoy in this short read. So give it a try. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Shadow Eyes by Dusty Crabtree

Iris Kohl lives in a world populated by murky shadows that surround, harass, and entice unsuspecting individuals toward evil. But she is the only one who can see them. She's had this ability to see the shadows, as well as brilliantly glowing light figures, ever since an obscure, tragic incident on her fourteenth birthday three years earlier. 
Although she's learned to cope, the view of her world begins to shift upon the arrival of three mysterious characters. First, a handsome new teacher whose presence scares away shadows; second, a new friend with an awe-inspiring aura; and third, a mysterious and alluring new student whom Iris has a hard time resisting despite already having a boyfriend. 
As the shadows invade and terrorize her own life and family, she must ultimately revisit the most horrific event of her life in order to learn her true identity and become the hero she was meant to be. 

So this book is a pretty good read, mostly because the author did a really good job with build up. They author did a good job from very early on in the book to make sure the reader was emotionally involved in the book, as well as keeping the suspense pretty high. It's one of those books where you really want to keep reading so you can find out what is going to happen to next, while the whole time trying to piece everything together in your own head. 

I like the characters in the book as well. Iris was a pretty solid character, and I think that the author did a really good job making her a real character and not just someone made up of a lot of high school stereotypes. I will say that there were some moments when I got a little annoyed with Iris though, mainly because I prefer my main characters, especially women characters, to be really strong women. But because Iris is a little on the young side, I have more latitude with her, she has her weak moments, but I also have to remember that almost no one is super confident in high school, Iris hasn't grown into herself yet. And by the end of the book, I do feel like she has made some headway into growing into herself. 

As for the rest of the characters in the book, I think that just about anyone who went to high school will recognize someone you knew in them. I also think that the author did a pretty good job at making me, the reader, want to know more about the characters as the story was progressing, I was pretty invested in them. 

Overall, this was a really solid read, and the thing I liked most was the fact that the author kept me going the entire time. I really did want to know what as going to happen next. My biggest complaint was the end, I felt like the author wrapped everything up to quickly, and it didn't always feel organic to me. But there is going to be a sequel so maybe things will get wrapped up/continued in the next book to my liking. I think if you are looking for a good YA book, then this one might be for you. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wedding Cake by Lynne Hinton

It has been a difficult year for the ladies of Hope Springs, North Carolina, who bid a final farewell to a good friend. But Beatrice Newgarden Witherspoon, Jessie Jenkins, and Louise Fisher are ready to take on a new project: find a husband for their young, single pastor friend Charlotte Stewart, who is too busy running a shelter in New Mexico to look for a suitable companion herself. The search for Charlotte's perfect lifemate is turning up many unexpected things-Beatrice's daughter has special news, the last person Louise would ever expect to turn see turns up on her doorstep, and Jessie's husband wishes to recommit to her forever. So one way or another, there will be a wedding, and perhaps more than one...with cake.

This is one of the books I picked up during a certain book retailers semi-annual massive clearance sales. I tend to buy a ton of books at like a buck a piece that I would have otherwise never read. This is probably not a book I would have picked up on my own, but yet it was a book I actually enjoyed reading. I could see myself reading this book a couple of years ago and not enjoying it nearly as much I do now. A few years ago I would not have been able to relate to anything these women were going through, but it's funny how as the years go by people change.

This is a story about a group of women, there story started I think four books before this one, and they are women who have grown children, finished college, some retired, some still working. But regardless these are all women who have lived life. As a group they have gone through some hard things, losing a member of the group to cancer, problems in marriages, the loss of loved ones, strained relationships with children. But through everything they have stuck together, and have been true friends to one another. I can only hope that I end up with friends as good as they are to each other.

Bea is a character that is perhaps a bit too over dramatized. She plays the role of meddling friend, and she has almost an overwhelming personality. I have to admit I had a hard time taking her seriously, but then she had a moment outside her house where she completely broke down in front of a stranger, and she became much more of a person in that moment.

I really loved Charlotte, I could probably read a book about only Charlotte. She is a pastor who now runs a domestic abuse shelter. She is a strong woman, who knows the job she does is so important to so many women, but it is a hard job to do. As she mentions throughout the book, she can't save them all, and the sad reality is a lot of women go back to their abusive situations, and Charlotte feels that loss every time she isn't able to "save" one of those women. It's totally understandable that after seeing the results of unhealthy relationships all day long she would have a hard time trusting any relationship she has.

Overall I think this is a story a lot of women would enjoy, I think my mom would enjoy reading this book. I had a couple of problems with the book, but they didn't make the book any less of a good read. My first issue was the pacing, well not so much the pacing, but the passage of time within the book. You would get a chapter or two that happened during times close together, and then a few weeks or months would have gone by. I felt like I missed out on events that happened during those times. I also felt like the end was wrapped up too easily in some regards and other things were completely left out. A character is alluded to having some kind of revenge plot with another for most of the book, but it is never addressed at the end of the book, felt like it left you hanging. Also at the end suddenly, and very much without warning, a character receives something that allows for her to just sweep in an solve everyone's problems. It felt almost like the author needed to tie things up at the end and wanted it all to end nicely, so she just wrapped it all up with a shiny new bow.

I did enjoy reading the book, so I'll give it three stars because it did have a couple of issues within it, but I think if you are looking for a relaxing read, this may be an option for many people out there.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

You Can't Shatter Me by Tahlia Newland

Sixteen year old Carly wants to write her own life and cast herself as a superhero, but the story gets out of control when she stands up to a bully and he turns on her. Her increasing harassment forces her to battle flying hooks, giant thistles, doubt dragons, and a suffocating closet. Dylan, a karate-trained nerd who supports her stand, turns out to be a secret admirer, and while he struggles to control his inner caveman, Carly searched for her own way to stop the bully. An old hippie shows her an inner magic that's suppose to make her invincible, but will Carly learn to use it before her knight in shining armor risks all in a battle with a fire-breathing dragon?

I think everyone now a days is aware of the problem of bullying. I think everyone has at least one experience with bullying, be it being the victim, the person doing the bullying, or the person standing on the sidelines observing it. There has been a lot of talk about this issue, and a lot of different ideas about how to teach kids and teenagers about this problem. This is a book geared toward young adults, and it fits the bill. 

Carly is that brave girl who decides to take a chance, do the right thing, and stand up to a bully. Of course it doesn't end up all roses for Carly, which I personally believe is one of the reasons why kids don't stand up to bullies (or even adults sometimes). Carly and Dylan grow close while trying to conquer their own individuals problems while helping each other. 

One thing that is good about this book as that it examines the situation, the dynamic between all the individuals, from different perspectives. You get an insight into everyone, even the bully. Newland paints a picture of what it is like for everyone. This is a pretty good take on the issue, while still being a fun read for the young adult crowd.