Thursday, August 28, 2014

Book Review: Ever After, Guest Post Playing by Heart, & GIVEAWAY!

Ever After

By:  Kate SeRine

Publisher:  Kensington

Publish Date:  August 21, 2014

Format:  eARC from NetGalley

Genre:  Paranormal Romance

Series:  4th book in Transplanted Tales series; 1st Book ~ Red, 1.5 ~ Grimm Consequences, 2nd Book ~ The Better To See You, 3rd Book ~ Along Came A Spider

Recommendation:  Oh goodness, YES! Sweet romance with the fairy tale characters. And Gideon finds his love.

Book Synopsis:
To Catch a Thief…

For centuries, Gideon Montrose has served the King of Fairies without question and, often, without mercy. So when the King orders him to apprehend a notorious thief, Gideon obeys. But when he finally gets his hands on the beautiful culprit, Gideon’s in for a shock.

Arabella Locksley is none other than the spirited, unpredictable woman he knew back in Make Believe as Robin Hood — the love of his life whose tragic death destroyed his chance at Happily Ever After.

Now, he has an impossible choice. Betray the woman he once loved, or the king he’s bound to serve?

First Sentence:
"Marry me."

Purchase At:
Amazon  /  Barnes & Nobles

** Requested a copy of this book from NetGalley for an honest review.

My Thoughts and Summary:
Gideon is on the case. Someone is stealing the Fairy Kings transports - shipments of the king's very addictive fairy dust - and it's becoming far to common of an incident. It seems an unknown tale, from a list of known thieves, came to the Here and Now about the time the transports started to go missing. A tale by the name of Locksley. Al Addin and the Fairy King both want this tale brought in, the each individually. Gideon is on it, yet something feels...familiar.

Oh, Kate. You steal my heart and make me so curious with your Prologues. I LOVE THEM!! I'm curious as to what she is taking back that is hers. Then to see who Gideon's love was! O.O WOW! The one he lost and the reason he's in the service to the Fairy King. But when we learn ALLLL the details at the end. I just can't say more. YOU need to read it!

In previous books we learned a lot about fairy dust and the characters at play here. Three years after the ugly happenings with the Agency, a secret branch of the Ordinaries government. It all comes together.

We get to see the characters from previous books, where they are now years later. Puck, Red, Nate, Lavender, Seth, and all. And it's adorable. I'm excited to see Gideon get a chance at his Happily Ever After.

We touch into the King Arthur era here with a museum that was robbed of three items that belong to King Arthur. Even his wife is here in the Here and Now. Oh and her story! We get to see that play out here too. Like an added bonus!

Kate once again mixes love into an amazing plot with characters that we all can enjoy, even the ones we don't love as they are bad. Thank you Kate for the amazing stories and characters in this world. I have enjoyed them all.




Playing by Heart

Music plays a huge part in my writing process, and that was certainly the case while I was writing EVER AFTER, the fourth book in my Transplanted Tales series. There were numerous songs that played a key role in helping me get a feel for the emotional tone of the novel.

The Chieftains and Apocalyptica both figured prominently on my writing playlist this time around, even more so than usual. In fact, Apocalpytica’s Reflections album could have been the soundtrack! Here are some of the highlights by those artists as well as by a few others:

Stubborn Love – The Lumineers


My Lagan Love – The Chieftains


Bean An Fhir Rua (The Red Haired Man’s Wife) – The Chieftains


Not Strong Enough – Apocalyptica (feat. Brent Smith)


Faraway Vol. 2 – Apocalyptica (feat. Linda Sundblad)


Down – Jason Walker


This Lullaby – Queens of the Stone Age


Reasons Why – Nickel Creek


Heads Will Roll – Yeah Yeah Yeahs


O Fortuna – Carl Orff


Do I Wanna Know? – Arctic Monkeys


Happy listening!

Giveaway!
The blog tour prizes are:
Grand Prize ($50 gift card to Amazon, B&N, or BAM - Winner's Choice); signed paperback copy of EVER AFTER, and Transplanted Tales swag
And two winners will receive an e-book copy of the Transplanted Tales novel of his/her choice.
The giveaway is international, but the swag may differ slightly for an international winner due to shipping costs.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cover Reveal! WOLFE


This week is an exciting week as the book tour for RIVER is happening (and there is a giveaway with it!). So what a better time than to share this new cover with the world? Skyla raised enough money on her kickstarter to redo and rerelease the second book, WOLFE.

And today I'm able to share with you the new cover!

Ready?!?!?


Wolfe
#2 River Wolfe series
By: Skyla Dawn Cameron
Due Out: 2015


I love how the covers follow a pattern and are similar.

We don't have a description for it yet, but I'm excited after seeing the first book. And if you'd like to start this series as well, you can order up your copy of the first book, RIVER.

Purchase RIVER:

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mythical Monday (59)


It seems there are many books based on or influenced by Myths and Mythological Beings.

There are so many different Mythology and Mythological Beings recorded. Some are very popular and well known, others not so much. There are many similar beings, yet different depending on the culture it’s based in.  The definition of Myth covers about anything in the Urban Fantasy/Fantasy realm to me.

I’ve invited authors to share briefly the Mythological being or Myth that influenced their character(s) or story, or what their character(s) are based on influencing their books.  Hosting here, one author and being or myth per week.


This week we have:
Author Skyla Dawn Cameron
Talking of Werewolves.


The Big Bad Werewolf Human

“We have doomed the wolf not for what it is, but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be –the mythologized epitome of a savage ruthless killer – which is, in reality, no more than a reflected image of ourself.”
–Farley Mowat


A lot of initial questions about River I’ve received since back when it was first released in 2006 centered around “Where did you get the idea of a wolf-turned-human from?” The basic answer was fairly simple: the bite.

The bite from werewolf to victim and lycanthropy as a virus is one of the staples of current werewolf mythology, so much so that I think most people here “werewolf” and immediately jump to “bite.”

When I sit down to write any story with a particular mythology in mind, I settle in and go into research mode. Not so with River. In this case I sat down in the afternoon with a piece of paper (unlined, folded in half) with a blue pen and brainstormed, tossing out whatever came to mind. The moment I hit “bite”, something flipped in my brain and I had River’s story.

Everything else I threw out. Literally, everything. Full moon? No, my mythology has no link to lunar cycles or metaphors that involve such things. Silver? Well, no, because I couldn’t come up with a reason to involve it. But the bite, the virus, the transfer through saliva—that seemed logical to me, and that I could work with.

It’s actually a relatively recent addition; the original stories of werewolves involved curses given by gods, drinking from magic streams, wearing the skin of the animal, incantations, and many other origins. Being bitten was rarely a factor until much later. During the middle ages, the belief in werewolves actually coincided with the paranoia about witches and devil worship; witch hunts and executions often involved accusations of lycanthropy as well. Werewolves, like their wolf counterpart, have a lengthy history of being given a bad rap.

Of course, the other place River had her origins in was the question: why make the character a werewolf if she’s not going to act like a wolf?

That, in a nutshell, is probably my problem with most depictions of werewolves. If your character is going to turn into a wolf—not a mindless half-beast but an actual wolf—then it should behave like one.

Violent urges are attributed to the animal, not the human behind it; wolves, by contrast, are no more “blood-thirsty” than any other predator, and within the pack it’s not uncommon to see them resolve issues without fighting. The rigid hierarchy and fight for dominance we associate with wolves, the possessive nature of werewolves, has little basis in actual wolves; there is a particular ritualistic dance at play between packmates but the hierarchy serves to strengthen the unit, and the aggression and “dominance” we associate with them is actually based on old faulty studies. The desire to randomly slaughter, to practice cruelty—these, again, are not animal traits. They are human. The mythology of the bite and the division between actual wolf behaviours and human ones were my focus in River.

In essence, the beast is not the curse; the curse is being a human.


River
Defiant, nocturnal, moody–though River sounds like a typical teenager, she’s anything but. River’s a werewolf.

The life of an alpha female wolf was irrevocably changed the night she was attacked and bitten, and awoke confused, alone, and human. Three years later, thrust into a world where she doesn’t belong and living in foster care, River barely tolerates humanity and still doesn’t know who bit her or why.

But River isn’t as alone as she previously thought; someone’s been watching her, someone who holds the answers she’s been seeking. And though the human who changed her seems to be a step ahead of her at every turn, River is determined to beat his game and return to her pack and mate.

As if being stuck in a world she hates, with a life she never asked for, and faced with a destiny she doesn’t want wasn’t bad enough, River still must find a way to survive every human’s greatest challenge: high school.

GIVEAWAY TIME!!

- DVD/Blu-Ray combo of Ginger Snaps
- River poster print
- River tote bag
- wolf charm bookmark
- River postcard
- wolf charm necklace
- Animal Speak pocket guide version by Ted Andrews

However, the giveaway is ONLY for US & Canada (due to the movie being Blu-Ray and the regions of Blu-Ray's and shipping costs over seas). Sorry.

Author Bio:
Award-winning author Skyla Dawn Cameron has been writing approximately forever.

Her early storytelling days were spent acting out strange horror/fairy tales with the help of her many dolls, and little has changed except that she now keeps those stories on paper. She signed her first book contract at age twenty-one for River, a unique werewolf tale, which was released to critical and reader praise alike and won her the 2007 EPPIE Award for Best Fantasy. She now has multiple series on the go to keep her busy, which is great for her short attention span. She is also a proud Writer of Unlikable Female Characters™.

Skyla is a fifth generation crazy cat lady who lives in southern Ontario, where she writes full time, works as a freelance designer, stabs people with double pointed knitting needles, is an avid gamer, and watches Buffy reruns. If she ever becomes a grownup, she wants to run her own Irish pub, as well as become world dictator.

Visit Skyla’s site at www.skyladawncameron.com


Find Skyla:
Site/Blog: Skyla Dawn Cameron Urban Fantasy & Paranormal
Twitter: @SkylaDawn
Facebook: Skyla Dawn Cameron Author Page
Book Designs:  Indigo Chick Designs

Purchase River:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Book Review: Blood and Iron

Blood and Iron

By:  Jon Sprunk

Publisher:  Pyr

Publish Date:  March 11, 2014

Format:  Print, 424pgs 6"x9"

Genre:  Fantasy

Series:  1st book in The Black Earth series.

Recommendation:  The start of a new magic series with an Epic Fantasy feel to the writing and world.

Book Synopsis:
Set in a richly-imagined world, this action-heavy fantasy epic and series opener is like a sword-and-sorcery Spartacus.

It starts with a shipwreck following a magical storm at sea. Horace, a soldier from the west, had joined the Great Crusade against the heathens of Akeshia after the deaths of his wife and son from plague. When he washes ashore, he finds himself at the mercy of the very people he was sent to kill, who speak a language and have a culture and customs he doesn't even begin to understand.

Not long after, Horace is pressed into service as a house slave. But this doesn't last. The Akeshians discover that Horace was a latent sorcerer, and he is catapulted from the chains of a slave to the halls of power in the queen's court. Together with Jirom, an ex-mercenary and gladiator, and Alyra, a spy in the court, he will seek a path to free himself and the empire's caste of slaves from a system where every man and woman must pay the price of blood or iron. Before the end, Horace will have paid dearly in both.

First Sentence:
Lightning split the night sky above the masts of the Bantu Ray.

Purchase At:
Amazon  /  Barnes & Nobles  /  Book Depository

** I read this book for my own enjoyment.

My Thoughts and Summary:
Horace wakes in a home of strangers speaking a language quite different from any he's ever heard after being washed off the deck of the ship he worked on. Horace is in his countries enemy land, and learns the magic that lays within him when a frightening chaos storm of green lightning rolls in while he's chained with other slaves heading to a temple. Horace meets Jirom, a champion fighter and mercenary captured into slavery months ago. A keen friendship is quickly made when both men see how strong the other is, and not simply muscle strength. While in the grace of the Queen Byleth, Horace meets Alyra. Alyra is a strong slave to the Queen and yet so much more in the world. Horace grows in this town of constant danger and political games.

Jon has produced a story with a strong epic fantasy feel. The story moves along with major event after another with great descriptions of the town, buildings, rooms, and people as we go. I can see some thinking this slows the pace of the story as it stretches the events longer in reading, but it's part of what draws the epic fantasy picture. The world building of the culture Horace comes into and the magic that is cherished here is powerful.

There are three main characters we follow, yet possibly five. First we meet Horace. He's a simple man. He seems to be of a passive personality, not wanting much from the world or life as he's lost what was dear to him before. Yet he survives through the tortures the world puts on him. Horace even ends in a stronger sense than when he started. And he learns of a magic awakened in him. Cool. And I have so many questions about how he's different too. I'm curious of the potential he shows and where it will go.

We then meet Jirom. I have my eye on this man. I seem to love a good mercenary in fantasy and a man with a firm direction.

Then we have Alyra. Alyra caught my attention right off and held it. Her purpose in life and her whereabouts are fully active. I'm curious of her surroundings, even how cruel it can be. I love her determination and will for what she is here to do. She is in the perfect position for what she has to do.

The other two characters we see more of are Queen Byleth and Lord Mulcibar. Mmm, the Queen. I love her. Maybe it's the evil in me, but I enjoyed reading her. She's cunning, powerful, and smart. She knows she's being cornered and will do anything to keep herself safe. And even her people. Lord Mulibar is a likeable character as well. Though there was a few moments I wasn't sure I should trust him. (Yes I'm a suspicious one.) He is the teacher to Horace for the new magic he has found within himself. Mulibar is the way we learn of the magic in this part of the world, and it's interesting to learn with Horace.

There is a question of who is the lesser of two evils present in this book. Which is the worst to rule the city and land? It's a political game to get on top, and keep it.

I'm looking forward to the next three books of the series to see where our characters go and what happens in this city. And there is one that is thought to be an ally that may be something else, but we will see how that plays out in the coming books.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

We have time. We just don't know how long...

I am struggling with this post so if I seem to get lost as I'm talking, please bear with me. See, I've found out this week that we are losing a talented bard to cancer. It's a form of cancer that you don't know about or where it started. It's there and spreads rabid to everything. He is dying. There is nothing the doctors can do for him. It was just as sudden for him as it is for his friends and those that admire him. P.G. Holyfield has a form of cancer called Cholangiocarcinoma. You can read the announcement at specificmedia.


Even though I wasn't a close friend of his, it's hitting me right in the heart and soul. I think this is so hard
because of the thought that sits in our minds - we have time. We have next year. We have tomorrow. We have time. Well, we don't always have that time we thought we had.

Let me back up to the end of May, at Balticon. I ALWAYS go with a list of people I want to meet. Yes, everyone laughs about my list, but with the craziness it keeps me on track. I want to say hello, let them know I enjoyed their hard work (wheither written or spoken) and that it meant something to find their work. Hey, they need to know these things, it keeps me in supply of amazing words.

P.G. Holyfield was on that list. I had talked with P.G. briefly for several months on Twitter and through email when I asked him to do a post here. He'd always been kind and I loved his work, so I had to say hi. Now if you have been to conventions you know it's crazy city. Between getting to panels you are on and panels you want to see there are all these amazing people that want to talk to you (or you talk to them). The four days are usually a mad dash to get around to see everyone, and sometimes it doesn't work out. P.G. was one of those sadly missed opportunities.

I did see P.G. in a panel, neither of us on it. He came in late and sat by me. I knew who he was instantly, he may not have known me at that moment. But I whispered hi. We did get to say hi in passing and planned to meet up to chat at some point in the weekend. We'd both be there all weekend, we had time. I don't know how many times we passed in the hall going different directions, but P.G. always waved and said we'd catch up. I did the same.

Monday came. I went home. As you can probably guess, I never did get to sit down and talk with P.G. There were a few others that I missed as well. But on the way home I thought; Next year. Next year I'll catch up with him for sure. Well, sadly that isn't going to happen.

But, there is a bright side to the story! P.G. caught me of Facebook one day and we got to chat there. He didn't know if there was something specific I was wanting to talk about when at Balticon. I said no just wanted to say hi and thank you. So we chatted there for a while, laughing at each others jokes. I will say for once, as I'm not much of a Facebook fan, thank you Facebook.

I've learned that there isn't enough time in the world, so it's time to make the best of what we have. Make sure to say hi to everyone you want to talk too. Tell those around you that they matter and/or you love them. Enjoy what time you do have with everyone you come across. It's hard somedays, but those that touch our hearts and soul in one way or another mean something and we should say so.

Well, now I've decided a few things about Balticon. There may not be a next year, so I'm taking lots of pictures with EVERYONE. (Nobilis said he'll program a little quadrotor drone to follow me and take pictures since I'm terrible at selfies.) I'm going to find everyone that's on the list and say hello.

P.G. Holyfield. You might recognize his name if you've been by the blog lately or even for the last year. He is an author and podcaster. He wrote the fantasy story I loved, Murder at Avedon Hill. He podcasted his story along with released it in print. He is also a voice at SpecFic.com where they talk books, movies, and games.

At this moment P.G. is still with us, though he is declining quickly. I did send an email for his friends to read to him. I know they are swamped with kind loves from everyone for P.G. There is a fund started to help P.G. remain comfortable in his last days and to help care for his daughters once he passes. I hope you take a look and think of helping.

I may not have known P.G. as well as many, but what I did see was a great person. P.G. may not have realized it, but he is one of the great children of Az in which he wrote about. He dipped into the river of magic and shared his voice, words, and wisdom with us freely. We all have been touch with the magic. His words and voice will be immortalized for all in the world of books and internet for us and those to yet find him.

What am I trying to say? *sigh* Well, I guess a few things. I want to let you know about P.G., that you can help if you are able, and to ramble on about a kind person. But to also hope you take a moment to tell others you appreciate them.

I hope you take the time to tell loved ones they are special. And I hope you spread the kindness to others around you and let people, even those you just meet, that they are amazing as well. Even people you don't know, if you read a book and loved it, send a thank you to that author. A thank you and a hello goes a long way.

We have time. We just don't know how long we have. So say your hello's today.



P.G. Holyfield:
You can visit his sites: The World of P.G. Holyfield or where he podcasted with SpecFicMedia.com
Go Fund at: http://www.gofundme.com/pgfund
Check out Murder at Avedon Hill


UPDATE:
P.G. now is at rest as of 11:20pm August 20, 2014. Rest In Peace.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Book Review: A Curse Awakened

A Curse Awakened

By:  Cecy Robson

Publish Date:  August 18, 2014

Format:  eARC from NetGalley

Genre:  Paranormal Romance

Series:  .06 in Weird Girls series; .05 Novella ~ The Weird Girls, 1st Book ~ Sealed with a Curse, 2nd Book ~ A Cursed Embrace, Novella 2.5 ~ A Cursed Moon, 3rd Book ~ Cursed By Destiny

Recommendation:  A glimpse into the past when the girls come fulling into their powers.

Synopsis:
Discover Cecy Robson’s sensational Weird Girls series—or return to where the magic first began—with this eBook original prequel novella about four sisters coming to grips with their unique supernatural powers.

Celia Wird shouldn’t possess the ability to transform into a tigress. Her three sisters should never be able to burst into flames, heal wounds, or transform common objects into deadly weapons. And yet they do.

Before they were born, the Wird Sisters were cursed by a spell that was intended to destroy them, not endow them with extraordinary powers. The sisters’ magic is untamed and explosive at best, and time is running out for them to take command.

Vampires have targeted Celia’s sweet, tragically human ex-boyfriend Danny. The sisters rush to his aid, but in order to take down the vamps, first they must face their dark past and break a spell that’s screwing up their powers. Except this curse wasn’t meant to be broken . . . and the witch who cast it isn’t done toying with them yet.

Purchase At:
Amazon   /   Barnes & Nobles

**I read this for an honest review from the publisher.

My Thoughts and Summary:
Danny's desperate call for Celia's help gets Celia and the girls into action, days before leaving for their new home. Vampires are after him and his dad. A female vampire master has fixated on Danny's dad, feeding on him and now taken him. The sisters and Danny come across another vampire with the same target, looking to advance himself as a Master.

The sisters are determined and looking forward to the new move. They are growing and trying to control the touch of powers they have. The sisters don't want to get involved, but Celia wants to help the one person that has been good to them all. They try to avoid the paranormal world, but that isn't always possible. We see Celia struggle with her growing strength and control of her tigeress, especially with no prey to hunt. The stress of the moving have brought on the nightmares of her last hunt, and kill.

We see a bit of Celia's past with Danny, talk of their past relationship. Through Danny the girls learn a touch of curses and magic. He's been reading up on magic to help his friends, the sisters. And now, he believes the sisters are bound, holding their powers back along with their control of what touch they have.

This story touches on the girls previous experience with vampires and magic curses. The vampire experience is of both views, kind and horrid. Then the magic curse that was done to their parents, and them in turn. There is a nasty curse that is held over them. There is even a glimpse of what can happen to those that mess with the bad people of magic and powers.

Not the romance setting. But kicking on the action setting. The girls are a bit new on the fighting side of things, and it shows in the battles they get in. But I love that they are not perfect and are learning, even learning of their powers.

Cecy delivers with these sisters once again. They struggle, but fight strong and stick together. They are new to the fighting, but they fight hard. We learn more of the family curse set upon them, bringing a glimpse of the past with it.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Book Review: Ante Up

Ante Up

By:  Amanda Carlson

Publish Date:  August 18, 2014

Format:  eARC, 101pgs

Genre:  Paranormal Romance

Series:  3rd in Sin City Collectors novella series; 1st Novella - Aces Wild

Recommendation:  More of the supernatural and action of the SCC, with a dash of romance.

Synopsis:
Diesel Jones is a shifter who has issues with the moon, but he quickly finds that Sofia Cabrera, a clever witch who just moved in to town, is his only hope to reach his goal of becoming a Collector. When they pair up to take down an incubus, she not only saves his life, but wins his heart in the process…

Purchase At:
Amazon

**I requested a copy to read for my enjoyment and an honest review from the author.

First Sentence:
"You want me to do what?" Diesel Jones sat across from Jake's uncle, Louie Fiore, and scratched his head.

My Thoughts and Summary:
Diesel Jones has his chance to be one of the SCC (Sin City Collectors). But first he must complete this trial run job. The catch, to bring in an incubus (which he hates as a whole species) and on the night of the month he struggles to not lose control to his wolf - the night of the full moon. The mission leads Diesel to the doorstep of the sexy new witch in town, that he's starting to fall for, Sofia. The mission brings Diesel closer to Sofia as it seems she's his help in succeeding on his assignment, and more.

I had loved meeting Diesel, briefly, in Aces Wild as the bartender at Jake's bar and was thrilled to hear he was getting his story here. Diesel and a wolf shifter and he's found he's attracted to a new witch in town, Sofia. What Diesel isn't ready to see is that Sofia is just as attracted to him. But it does come to light when an incubus in involved.

Diesel has...issues with the full moons. And this assignment is taking place over the three day cycle of the full moon. It's a test to see if he can control himself. If he can and can complete the mission, he'll get his official papers as a SCC. We learn a great deal of Diesel's past, and the reason he's the way he is at the full moons. Interesting the details we get. Then we have Sofia. Sofia is still a touch of a mystery to us, yet we learn some secrets of hers as well.

Since the story is set in the same world as the other novellas we get to see previous characters again, and they help Diesel with his mission, of SCC manner and of personal vendetta.

Amanda once again blends all the elements into one story like the masterful writer she is. She has a big Urban Fantasy world that doesn't feel as it's overwhelming with action and love happening at the same time. A full story for the main characters. One thing here, I do get a feel for who the next story is going to be for. It's not the usual Amanda Carlson ending, but you have a feel for who is next.