Review and Excerpt of Life Cycle by Zoe Winters

Morning all! As part of Dark Mind Book Tours, today I have an awesome review and excerpt from Life Cycle by Zoe Winters! Enjoy 🙂

 

Immortality can be a bitch…

Tamara has lived nearly two thousand years, trapped by a spell of her own creation. Hunted by her enemy and former lover, she knows there is only one man strong enough to release her from the curse. But will Cain honor her death wish, or keep her for himself, whatever the cost?

Two ancient souls. Two weary fighters, torn between love and hate, forced to decide if the other could be worth living for.

Heat Level 3 of 5.
Some sexually explicit content and innuendo.

You can grab your copy at Amazon.com, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.

 

 

 

 

Life Cycle excerpt
Used with Permission.
Copyright 2012 Zoe Winters
Prologue

123 A.D. A hidden cavern near the waters of the Blue Grotto in Italy.

Tamar shivered with her twelve companions. They were about to attempt their most daring incantation. An opening at the top of the cavern allowed the light from the full moon to shine down on them, illuminating their secret gathering and adding its own power to the unfolding ritual.
Salt water splashed on her from a waterfall in the nearby pool. They’d searched for the water of immortality, a legend that had spread since before her birth. Far and wide, people had spoken of water that could make a person eternal and young.
But it wasn’t the water that conferred immortality. It was the creatures that lived inside the water. They were transparent and hard to see, with spongy tops and long tendrils on the bottom that could sting if you got too close. They didn’t die. Instead, they could age backward, reaching the end of their life, and then, without dying, start over again.
“We’ll freeze to death if you don’t hurry.” Tamar glared at the man in the middle of the circle. The irony of freezing to death while seeking immortality caused her to stifle a dark laugh.
“The potion must be altered with other ingredients unless you want to come back as a newborn each time. You’ll find that frustrating,” Jacob said. He was their leader and the best with potions.
Tamar made a face, but huddled closer to her sister, Naomi, for warmth. A circle of salt had been poured around them. Candles were already lit. A large stone had become a makeshift table upon which the coven leader worked. The sea creatures had been pulverized and added to an iron pot. He poured the herbal infusions into the potion.
Jacob passed a sharp knife to the person on his left. “Each of us must contribute blood to the potion or it will fail. The magic is in this creature, but they have no blood. Our blood must bond with this animal if we hope to succeed.”
“Are you sure that’s necessary?” Naomi asked. Tamar nodded her agreement. Cutting themselves and mixing their blood seemed extreme. What would be the consequences of linking together eternally?
“I am sure,” Jacob said, losing patience with their squeamishness. Magic like this had a price, and they all knew it. But the consequences always showed themselves when it was too late.
One by one they sliced the center of their palms with the ritual knife and added their blood. Jacob stirred the concoction with a wooden spoon; it smelled like death. When he was finished, he dipped a silver goblet into the brew.
“We each drink and then we chant,” he said, passing the goblet.
Tamar couldn’t help feeling pride at the chant she’d written. When they’d all drunk, they clasped hands and turned their faces up to the moonlight. The cavern echoed their words back to them. “Da immortalitatem. Renatus sine oblitus. Numquam moriens. Da immortalitatem. Renatus sine oblitus. Numquam moriens…”
And then they all died.
Tamar jolted as oxygen flooded into her body. Something felt very strange. Had the spell worked? She glanced around at her companions, each of them coming back to life one by one.
“We’re all children.”

Chapter One

Golatha Falls, Georgia. The Present.

Tam perched on the bar stool in her kitchen, still as death. Her third cup of Earl Grey tea cooled on the counter, ignored. Normally the warm brew calmed her nerves, but nothing would comfort her today.
She’d read her tarot cards, tea leaves, and scried with a bowl of water and sea salt. Everything she tried gave her the same morbid story. The death card glared back at her, mocking, and though she’d told many others—sometimes truthfully, sometimes not so much—that the death card didn’t always mean death, she knew this card said her number was up.
Jack—as Jacob was called now—was back, and he was after her. She fought to keep the tremor out of her hand as she raised the tea to her lips. He wouldn’t offer her a quick death. It would involve a cold stone slab, bleeding to death, and having vital organs removed. Ritualistic, because ritual was how you got the most effect out of stealing a fellow magic user’s power.
Tam had considered herself a cycler since the night she was reborn in that cavern nearly two thousand years ago. True to Jack’s word, each time they died, they came right back in their own younger body, looking for all the world to be about twelve years old—an inconvenience to say the least. Tam had been shuffled from orphanage to orphanage each time she began a new life cycle.
This last time she’d gotten lucky and been adopted by a well-to-do family who had taken her in and put her through a good school. The thought was nice, though pointless, given how many times she’d already suffered through school.
Cyclers kept their memories, their sense of continuity. They were effectively immortal, just like the rare breed of jellyfish they’d discovered so long ago.
Jack had only been actively hunting the other cyclers for a few centuries. He’d gone power hungry, convinced he could stop the cycle altogether and achieve true immortality by draining the power of his coven. Magic users aged differently—the more magic, the longer they could live. But it wasn’t just that. She knew him. He had an angle—something more than a personal quest for immortality.
If murder was his new hobby, his purpose for gaining all that power couldn’t be good. If he was going to get her anyway, suicide seemed the smarter option. It would free her to be reborn the normal way and keep her safe from a more brutal death at Jack’s hands.
But it wasn’t so simple. There were two ways she could die for real—and two ways only: at the hands of another cycler, or through magical means by a very old preternatural being, such as a demon or vampire at least a few thousand years old. Those were hard to come by, and their killing methods were usually too creative for Tam’s taste. She wanted to break the cycle, not be tortured.
Either way, she’d managed, through this latest cycle, to stifle the suicidal urge. Until now.
The image of the demon she’d chosen formed in her mind. Cain. The very first incubus. If he couldn’t kill her, nobody could. And he hated her. It should be simple enough to get him to agree, assuming she could find him. She’d dropped him in front of his badass pals a couple of times already with energy balls. He was probably plotting her death at this very moment.
Anna might know where to find him, since she was mated to a demon, but Tam hadn’t seen her best friend in three months. It wasn’t as if Tam had directions to the demon portals or a way to get through to their dimension even if she did. If Anna surfaced in the human dimension, Tam could do a spell to locate her, but who could say when that would happen? And would it be before Jack reached her?
Deep in her gut, she knew she was going to die—either by Cain’s hand or by Jack’s. As arrogant as the bastard was, Cain’s methods would at least be pleasurable. Bleeding out and organ removal versus orgasms. Gee, how do I decide? They both sound so glamorous and exciting.

***

Cain snarled as he passed through the portal point into Cary Town, Washington. The filmy dimensional doorway shimmered and then fizzled out of existence as he moved through the forest away from it. He couldn’t believe he’d allowed himself to be summoned by the vampire king. Half-breeds.
He’d thought his business with Anthony was finished when Cain had delivered his don’t mess with us again or there will be a war speech the last time they’d met. But now there was a bigger evil brewing, something that risked the living standards of all the factions—and possibly their lives.
Even his newly turned succubus and her werewolf mate would be at the meeting, which was going to be awkward to say the least, given that they all hated Anthony. And the feeling was mutual. How this was going to go with everybody in one room, he couldn’t say. Officially, the werewolf pack was banished from Cary Town. If someone saw them slinking through the night to Anthony’s penthouse, things would get entertaining.
The demon nodded at the guardian in the lobby of the Cary Town Luxury Apartments. This meeting was being kept on the down-low. The Preternatural Council had been shut out. Even most of the vampire king’s coven didn’t know he was fraternizing with the enemy and holding a secret meeting in his former penthouse residence. Cain stepped onto the elevator and pulled out the key he’d been given to gain access to the sixth floor.
The door at the end of the hall was answered by a vampire who looked more like a butler. “They’re on the roof by the pool, sir.”
Cain took the stairs two at a time. His presence announced itself as the metal door clanged against the brick. All eyes went to him, and he smirked.
“Well, well, looks like the gang’s all here.” And what a motley crew they were.
Anthony stood at one end of the table beside an overhead projector and portable screen that had been plugged into an outlet embedded in the brick.
At the table were several familiar faces. Beside Anthony was his human mate, Charlee. Coming around the table was Cain’s brother, Luc, and his annoying mate, Anna. Then there was Jane, the new succubus who was mated to Cole, the Cary Town werewolf pack alpha. The rest, he didn’t know.
“You’re late,” Anthony said, bristling. “We’ve been waiting, and Charlotte needs her rest. The baby takes a lot out of her.”
Cain’s eyes cut to the vampire’s mate. She was so pregnant she’d pop any day now. If this meeting was about her and her spawn, heads were going to roll. If he didn’t care about a half-breed, he sure as hell didn’t care about a quarter-breed.
“I was detained. These things happen. Lovely little school teacher. I made some third graders very happy today. Or they’ll be happy tomorrow, anyway.”
Cole growled from his seat beside Jane. “You killed a woman, you mean.”
Cain chuckled. “My god, man, what is it with you and this obsession with killing? Which one of us is the demon? Perhaps amongst your kind third graders are happy when their teacher dies. She’s… just a little spent. She’ll have to take a sick day tomorrow.”
He dropped into a chair at the end of the table where he could most easily glare at and annoy Anthony. Since Cain wasn’t killing him right now, annoying him would be the second best thing. He didn’t like that Anthony was in charge of this meeting. The vampire king was practically a child next to Cain’s eight thousand years. It should be seniority rule.
The vampire cleared his throat. “Sitting next to you is Father Hadrian who is one of mine… And over here is our resident sorcerer, Dayne, and his lovely werecat, Greta.” Anthony leered at the brunette beside the sorcerer and Greta gripped Dayne’s hand tighter.
“Therian, not werecat! You know I hate that term,” Greta hissed.
“Whether you like it or not, it’s accurate.”
“Really, Anthony?” Charlee said, an irritated expression on her face at her mate’s goading.
The vampire chuckled. “What? Is it my fault your friend is so easy to mess with?”
He took a clear plastic sheet with writing on it and placed it on the overhead projector. “I apologize for being so vague as to the purpose of this meeting. Half of you are officially enemies, but if I go to the Preternatural Council with this, my vampires will all know, and I’m not prepared for it to go public yet. We can go back to hating each other after we’ve eliminated the threat.”
Anthony flipped on the light of the projector, and an electric buzz filled the silence. “I had this letter reproduced onto a transparency for our purposes. In case the context doesn’t spell it out to you, we’ve been contacted by Jack the Ripper. He’s still alive, and he’s one of us.”
“You couldn’t just use a computer program?” the werewolf asked. Cole was the most tech-savvy of the group.
“Don’t try, it won’t get you anywhere,” Charlee said.
Dear Boss,

I’m back. You didn’t take the threat seriously last time. Shame on you. Did you not understand my joke? It wasn’t for the common people. It was for the others. Was “from Hell” not a big enough clue? It’s where we all are, after all.

When I’ve killed the other cyclers, I’ll change the world. There are 13 of us, a perfect coven. The first kill was an accident, the second an experiment. Whitechapel was only three. You were wrong. It wasn’t five. Those and others were copycats all wanting Ripper’s glory.

Since then, there have been four more, but I’ve been quiet as a mouse, giggling at my funny little games. With you in power, I thought I’d make this interesting. Only three left to kill; catch me first or Hell is mine.

Yours Truly,

The Cycler

Don’t mind the new trade name. The old one was stale, and this one will give you something new to chew on. A new mystery to solve. Do better this time. The stakes are higher now.

P.S. Have fun when the human media gets this letter. I’ll give you a head start. Tick, tock.
Cain read the letter on the projector once, twice, and then a third time. “Why did he send this to you? And addressed the same as the original letters? And what the fuck is a cycler?”
Anthony seemed annoyed by Cain’s tone, but he answered anyway. “I believe I’ve met him before. At previous points in my history, I’ve chosen to blend with the humans, exploring various ways of living to satisfy my boredom. During the Whitechapel murders, I worked for the London police department under an assumed name. But a few decades before that, I owned a small fish shop. All my other employees called me by the name I was using at that time, except one. He just called me “Boss.”
“There was something off about him. I suspected he was a magic user, but it was more than that. The way he gutted a fish… it was so clean. Surgical, almost. Even being a vampire, this guy gave me the creeps. But I never realized he knew I’d joined the London police or that the letters might be for me. He must have discovered what I was. He was playing games then; now I think he’s ready to end this. Which brings me to your other question. Does anybody besides Hadrian know what a cycler is?”
There was a consensus of head shaking.
“Father Hadrian, perhaps you could tell us about your experience.”
The priest poured a glass of wine from a bottle on the table and took a leisurely sip. “When I was turned in 1955, my first meal was a blonde witch—maybe in her twenties. Her name was Tamara. I left her corpse and went to hunt for more. When I returned to the church, there was a young girl, maybe eleven or twelve or so with the same blonde hair and the same eyes, wearing the same dress as the woman I killed. She told me she was a cycler. She was powerfully magical, much more so than I thought even a woman in her twenties should be. Magic users do age differently, so I can’t be sure of her age before I killed her.”
The hair on the back of Cain’s neck stood up. There were millions of women with that name, and probably plenty of blonde witches with it as well, but his experience with Tam had always been one of confusion over how she could take him down so easily with a flick of her wrist.
The demon glanced at Anna, wondering if she’d made the connection, but the idea that Father Hadrian was speaking about the Tam they both knew hadn’t penetrated for Luc’s mate.
“Anna, do you understand yet why this involves you?” Anthony asked.
Her eyes widened but she maintained her denial. “No… I… Why would it involve me?”
The vampire laughed and shook his head. “I forget how recently you were introduced to our world. Your friend has been keeping a monumental secret from you. Tam is the woman Father Hadrian met in the fifties.”
“That’s not possible. I mean… we grew up together. Since we were kids…”
“Since you were about twelve?”
Anna shut her mouth and looked down at her hands.
“That’s what I thought. She must have died and started a new life cycle right around that time. We’re still not sure exactly what that means.”
The vampire king turned to the sorcerer and werecat. “Dayne, Greta, did you do the research I requested?”
Dayne nodded. “I might have a theory. Since magic users are human, we’ve always been a wild card. Up until now, we’ve kept ourselves mostly secret from normal humans and considered ourselves part of the preternatural world, but if Jack gets enough power, he could sway magic users to his side. I think he wants to expose the preternaturals and fight. He’s absorbing power from his kills to make it easier.”
Greta interrupted. “I don’t think anyone considered there could be magical and ritual significance to the way Jack the Ripper was killing. The killings got more complex, but if he was experimenting with the most potent methods for power absorption, that would happen. He could become unstoppable if he kills the other cyclers.”
“He’ll also be a true immortal,” Dayne said. “The more power a magic user has, the more slowly they age. Considering the nature of what he is already, my suspicion is that he’d become unkillable. He wouldn’t have to start over in a younger human body like what Hadrian observed with Tamara.”
Cain stared at the table. He squeezed his eyes shut as images flashed in his mind of Tam being ritualistically and gruesomely murdered. He didn’t know why it pissed him off so much.
“Cain?” Anthony said.
The demon looked up, startled at being included in the discussion. He tried to maintain a bored mask, but he couldn’t stop his hands from balling into fists or the heat from the glow in his eyes. “Yes?”
“We need you to protect the witch in your dimension. It’s the only place we’re guaranteed she’ll be safe. This affects everybody. If he kills all the cyclers, and magic users come out of the closet, they’ll band together, which risks your demons as well.”
Magic users were a demon’s one weakness. Demons were exempt from death and could heal any injury—true immortals, but they could still be trapped by a curse. They could still feel the weakness and suffering of starvation. They could still be hurt.
All eyes were on him, waiting for his response. He didn’t know how he felt about the little blonde witch, but if anybody was killing her, it was going to be him, not some cheesy magical serial killer with a world domination plot, and not one of Anthony’s thugs, either.
“I’ll protect her,” Cain said, avoiding eye contact with the others. This was killing the shit out of his reputation. There were dramatic gasps and whispering, but he ignored it.
“Of course, killing her would be more expedient… if you could find a way to make her stay dead.” The vampire king’s tone was bland.
“No!” Anna said.
“Anthony!” Charlee said.
“I said I’d protect her,” the demon snarled, finally meeting the eyes of everyone at the table. He dared them to start something with him.
“We’ll also need you to get her to tell you everything about being a cycler. We still don’t understand how or why they exist or the extent of their powers,” Anthony said.
Cain growled. “Watch yourself, half-breed. I could take you out without blinking. I’m sure you want to survive to be a daddy.”
Charlee’s hand went protectively over her pregnant belly, as if the child were in danger instead of the cocky vampire standing beside the projector screen.
Anthony glared. “Don’t forget, I have magic users in my employ. I have a coven of vampires that stretches across North America and contacts with vampire leaders all over the world. Our numbers are far greater than yours. Let’s not make this personal. We’ve got a bigger enemy to fight.”
Cain was bored now. “Are we done here? I’ve got a witch to collect.” He stood, already turning toward the door.
“Cain…” It was the first word Luc had spoken since Cain had arrived. “Take Anna with you. She knows where the witch lives.”
That would make things easier.
Luc’s mate recoiled, gripping tight to his arm. “What? No! Come with me,” she said.
“I should stay for the rest of the meeting. My brother can’t harm you, remember? You can’t hold a solid form without me,” Luc said.
When she’d given her soul and became a demon’s mate, she’d had to die first. It made her existence somewhat ghostly. Only her mate could give her a full, solid form. Gradually, she would gain the same powers as Luc, but it was a lengthy process—centuries. Anna looked from Cain to Luc a couple of times. She finally sighed and let go of her mate.
Cain headed for the door. He didn’t bother waiting for her, assuming she’d follow. And if she didn’t, he’d just have to find the infuriating witch on his own.

 

Good Points

Although this was the fourth book in the series, I read it no problem. You really don’t have to have read the others in order to know what is happening, or to get sucked in from the first page. I also loved that there was a creature used in here that often gets forgotten in supernatural books-an incubus. I enjoyed how the two main protagonists, Cain and Tam, are so like chalk and cheese. This is one of those relationships where you go….”Ah, they’re going to get together-and it’s going to be good!” The storyline was original, and I thought the writing flowed very well, although it seemed a little rushed in places. The dialogue was crisp and fun, and I could hear the character’s voices ringing form the page. It kept me hooked, and I wanted to read it all the way to the end.

 

Bad  Points

Although I love the storyline, I would have liked to have seen….a bit ‘more’. From everything. A bit more heat in the sex scenes (although that might just be me) and a bit more in the threat caused by Jack. I didn’t really buy into that, and it would have been good to see a real build-up for both of these.

 

Overall

Despite the bad points mentioned above, I thought this was a brilliant book, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a new supernatural book. And now I have to read the others in the series!

I give this book….4/5 Stars!

 

 

 

 

Zoe Winters writes quirky and sometimes dark paranormal romance (and dark fantasy). Her favorite colors are rainbow and clear. For updates on new releases and opportunities for contests/giveaways sign up for the newsletter by sending a blank email to: freekept@gmail.com (As a thank you, you’ll receive a free copy of the debut novella in the Preternaturals series: Kept.)

Review of Vigilare by Brooklyn James

Happy Hump Day all! Today we have not one, but TWO awesome authors appearing on the blog. And here is our first, the lovely Brooklyn James, and I’m reviewing her book, Vigilare! Enjoy!

 

Detectives Gina DeLuca and Tony Gronkowski investigate a string of murders among Vanguard’s most loathsome population, rapists and pedophiles. With fed up citizens, the city is on the verge of a vigilante uprising in support of their seemingly superhuman Vigilare with the sparkling emerald green eyes. Friend or foe, Vanguard Police Department has a job to do in bringing the vigilant one to justice, causing their own internal battle with right and wrong, immoral and just. Following their leads, Detectives DeLuca and Gronkowski find themselves pulled into a mysterious world of super blood and super powers, and closer to the Vigilare than ever expected.

It’s a race to the finish between Detectives DeLuca and Gronkowski and the Vigilare to figure out who she is and why she exists. The first in a Trilogy-Vigilare-the one who watches over-comes to light. Where One System Fails, Another Never Gives Up!

You can grab your copy here on Amazon US and Amazon UK.

 

 

Good Points

I loved the creativity that has gone into this novel; the research. It is set in a fictional city, and the vividness of it was fantastic. The characters are the same, jumping off the page. They were most definitely not one-dimensional, and I thought their dialogue was crisp and well-written. The storyline was fast-paced and gripping, racing the reader through a plot that is somewhere between the supernatural and a thriller. The twists and turns kept me riveted, and I couldn’t put the book down until I had discovered the identity of the Vigilare! The characters had to be my favourite of the whole book though, as there were so many different personalities floating across the pages-but Ms James didn’t overload them, at the same time. There were certain scenes in the book that couldn’t be viewed as shocking, but Ms James has written them with care and tact, rather than simply thrusting their shock value in your face.

 

Bad Points

I would say that for me personally, there aren’t any. The only thing I would point out is some sensitive parts of the book-but then I would say don’t read it unless you are happy to read an adult book.

 

Overall

This is a sexy, fast-paced, relentless, well-crafted thriller, and I look forward to seeing what else Ms James will offer us. It was an exciting book to read, and I couldn’t put it down-almost to the detriment of the dinner! It was action-packed with more thoughtful parts, and I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a thriller with a surprising twist.

I give this book…..5/5 Stars!

Interview, Guest Post and Giveaway for What Kills Me!

Good morning everyone! As part of Dark Minds Book Tours tour for What Kills Me by Wynne Channing, I am today’s stop! So enjoy everyone!

Wynne Channing is an award-winning national newspaper reporter and young adult novelist. She loves telling stories and as a journalist, she has interviewed everyone from Daniel Radcliffe and Hugh Jackman to the president of the Maldives and Duchess Sarah Ferguson. The closest she has come to interviewing a vampire is sitting down with True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgard (he didn’t bite). She briefly considered calling her debut novel “Well” so then everyone would say: “Well written by Wynne Channing.” 

Hello Wynne, it’s a great pleasure to have you here, welcome to my blog!

Thank you so much for having me Miranda. I’m super excited to be here on my book tour!

Your newest novel, What Kills Me, sounds really interesting. Can you tell us more about it?

What Kills Me tells the story of 17-year-old Axelia, who is a normal girl with a not-so-normal destiny. While she is away in Rome for the summer, she falls into a sacred well filled with blood and turns into a vampire. As if that doesn’t suck enough, the vampire empire believes that she is a monster born to destroy them, so she becomes hunted by every vamp in the world.

So what inspired this novel?

During a bout of insomnia, I imagined a girl crawling out of a well covered in blood. This image was what started it all.

Where can we find your novels?

What Kills Me is now on sale for $.99 at Amazon and Smashwords; but you can also find it on iTunes, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I’m working on the sequel. (If you have a suggestion for a title, I’d love to hear one.)

Do you read books in your genre, or books very different from it?

Because of my job as a newspaper reporter, I read a lot of non-fiction. Sociology. Psychology. Terrorism. Biographies. In my free time, I read contemporary lit.

Why do you write in the genre you’ve chosen?

My teen years were tumultuous. Bullies would stuff my backpack into the garbage and pelt me with snowballs. Books were my escape. I loved them. This is me paying it forward.

What advice would you give to others who wanted to become indie authors?

Finish your book. You can do it. Giving up would be like turning the heat off just before the water boils.

If you could be a character from one of your books for a day, who would you be and why?

Eee. Being one of my characters for a day would not be fun: I’d either be killing or dying. Hmm, which of those would I prefer? If I had to choose, I’d be Axelia for the first 24 hours that we meet her (before her world is crushed). She’s in Rome. She’s just met a handsome boy. Life is full of possibilities. Little does she know… sorry, no spoilers.

You can find out more about Wynne Channing on her blog, Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads. Thank you for being here, Wynne, any parting words?

Thanks again for hosting me. And thank you to all of my readers for their wonderful support and feedback. Love hearing from them!

And now the blog post from Ms. Channing….

I’m so excited to be hanging out with you today. My name is Wynne and I’m a journalist and author of the new paranormal adventure, What Kills Me. A big thank you goes out to Miranda for lending me this space on her blog. She asked me to chat a little about one of my favourite authors.

Asking me about my favourite author is like asking someone what their favourite dessert it. How do you choose? I love them all! Bring on the buffet of sweets!

I admire so many writers. Ernest Hemingway for his economy of words. Rohinton Mistry for his rich narration. Cormac McCarthy for his poetic prose.

Stephen King wrote the first horror novels that gave me nightmares. Jane Austen created the first heroes and heroines that I adored (oh, that Mr. Darcy).

Today, however, I want to talk to you about an author who I loved as a kid: Roald Dahl. Dahl who was born in Wales in 1916 and died in 1990, wrote his first children’s book when he was in his forties.

I couldn’t get enough of his stories. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, George’s Marvellous Medicine. I read them all. They were dark. Grotesque. Violent. Hilarious. The heroes were clever, resourceful children. The villains, evil, disgusting adults. Dahl would delightfully punish his villains. The bad guys got shrunk, poisoned, or turned into mice.

As a grown-up, I thought how horribly unfair it was to make the adults so nasty. (When Dahl’s tales were first published, librarians reportedly slammed his stories for their “lack of taste.”) But as a kid, I thought how fabulous. Here was a writer who was taking into account my perspective. He was truly writing for me. I’ve never forgotten the whimsy, the fun, the horror and the humour.

If there is a fraction of that in my novel, What Kills Me, then I am so happy — and thankful for the early inspiration.

You can grab your copy of What Kills Me from these links;

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

You can also win a free e-copy of What Kills Me, as well as a signed bookmark with attached butterfly charm! The giveaways are international, and you can also go over to Dark Mind Book Tours for their own international giveaway! To enter, simply enter your details in the form below, and the giveaway will be open until 11th September!

Review of a Dangerous Proposal

Good Sunday everyone! I have another awesome review for you today, of Dangerous Proposal by Jessica Lauryn. Enjoy everyone! 🙂

 

[BookStrand Romantic Suspense, HEA] At nineteen, Alec Westwood nearly committed the most horrific of crimes—murder in cold blood—and narrowly escaped the assignment with his life. When a stunning young woman crosses his path wearing the insignia for the organization that recruited him, he vows not to let fate get a second chance. But when the enchantress gives him a kiss that leaves him spellbound, Alec realizes the power she holds is greater than all his strength and fortitude combined. On the run from her psychotic fiance, Lena Benson vows to forge a new life. But when her new friend Jack tells her to stay away from Alec Westwood—the man she believes her fiance hired to track her down—she takes matters into her own hands. Alec may have the charm, but she’s calling the shots, even if that means resisting a man whose eyes and touch rob her, literally, of sense. ** A BookStrand Mainstream Romance

 

Grab your copy from Amazon and BookStrand.

Good Points

My favourite point of any book is always the characters, and these characters didn’t disappoint. They were alive and vivid, and I loved that throughout the plot you didn’t know who to suspect-everyone was under suspicion. The writing was crisp and flowed well, and the storyline was original. The twists and turns were very cleverly constructed, and they pulled you in from the first page.  I loved the author’s creativity, and it was a very enjoyable story. Not to mention there were some very hot scenes within it. 😉

 

Bad Points

I felt some of the plot, while good, was a little weak in places. Some of it seemed as though it had been ‘padded out’ afterwards, not as though it had been worked into the plot.

 

Overall

This was a great book, and I would recommend it to anyone who was looking for a romance with a touch of mystery and suspense to it. I really enjoyed reading it, and the plot kept me hooked throughout, despite the weak points. The twists were fantastic, and kept you guessing all the way to the end.

I give this novel…4/5 Stars!

Review of Gypsy by David Menon

Good morning everyone! Just two days to go until the weekend-it’s getting closer! Now a few weeks ago I interview the lovely David Menon, and reviewed one of his novels. Today I have the pleasure of reviewing another one of his novels, ‘Gypsy‘. He’s also been kind enough to give us a little piece on why he wrote ‘Gypsy‘.  So without further ado, grab your coffee, get settled, and enjoy!

 

‘ … it was a Wednesday morning and I drove down from my home in Manchester to the peak district town of Matlock to meet up with some old friends from nearby Wirksworth. As I pulled up in the centre of town, Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Gypsy’ was playing on the car radio and it’s always been one of my favourite Stevie Nicks songs so I waited until it had finished before I went on my way. The song is about going back to when life was simple and somehow easier to manage, so I thought, what if I’d come back to Matlock for the first time in years? What if life had been intolerable back then because of lies and catastrophies that had almost destroyed me and I was coming back to finally put things right? Why had I stayed away so long? Why hadn’t I come back in the intervening years? What if I’d become a great success in my chosen profession but there was still a dark secret waiting to try and destroy me again? I’d been a ‘Gypsy’ and gone all over the world but could I cope with more murder, love, loss, and betrayal? These were all the reasons why I’d left town in the first place. And could I deal with finding out the truth about my own identity whilst tracking down a killer from thirty years ago? … ‘

That’s how it happens to us writers … a favourite song on the radio, a town you’ve always found inspiring, an imagination that takes you into some kind of parallel universe. You know how it is, Miranda. And from all that, the story, plot, and characters of ‘Gypsy’ found their way into my head and there was no way I could ignore their story.

 

When Danny Holdsworth returns to Matlock, the Derbyshire Peak district town of his birth, after being away for thirty years, his intention is to find the killer of his best friend, Nigel Slater, who was murdered back in 1982, a crime for which Danny was once a suspect but which still remains unsolved. Now a respected international journalist, Danny decides to use his temporary position as editor of the Derbyshire Times to campaign to finally bring Nigel’s killer to justice. But almost as soon as he’s back he runs into his old flame, Caroline, who’s very unhappily married to Danny’s childhood nemesis, Ben Reynolds. Caroline would like to rekindle her romance with Danny but he’s interested in someone else, someone much closer to Caroline than is comfortable for either of them. Ben’s haulage business is in deep trouble and he resorts to desperate measures with shady Russian businessmen to try and save it, risking the lives of himself and his family in the process, until Danny suggests a way out. Against this background, Danny believes he’s getting close to finding Nigel’s killer when he discovers a connection between the crime and his own identity that shocks him to the core and makes him wish he’d never come home. Some secrets should be left buried with the past.

 

 

Good Points

David Menon mentioned to me that this book ‘was his baby’, and I can see why! I am blown away by Mr Menon’s first offering. The characters were definitely my favourite-and being from the North of England, I chuckled a little at his embittered Northern ladies made their way onto the pages, as I’m sure I know a few! All of them were vivid, colourful, and (I felt) true to life, and I the main protagonist really shone through, with both his good and bad. There was also enough drama in this novel to put any soap opera to shame! You all know I don’t give away spoilers in my reviews, but the main character, ‘Gypsy’, does something to one of the female characters and someone close to her that will make you go, “Uh oh!”. The suspense was cleverly weaved in, and crafted so that you were questioning everything all the way until the ending-which was unexpected and I didn’t see coming at all. The story flowed very well, it was fast moving, but nothing was missed and skipped.

 

Bad Points

That now I’m going to have to read the rest of David Menon’s novels? Seriously, I couldn’t find anything wrong with this novel, and I was impressed that this was his first novel.

 

Overall

This is a wonderful offering, and if you haven’t got a copy yet-go and do it now! The book is a finely tuned detective story, with element of homosexuality, Russian businessmen, vivid Northern women, and the past, all crafted in and delivered in an amazing package. I enjoyed this book from beginning to end and couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to devour the story.

I give this book……5/5 Stars!

Interview and Review with Elodie Parkes

Happy Monday all! Aw, come on, it’s not that bad! Especially as today I don’t just have a review, but I have an interview with author Elodie Parkes!

 

I live in Canterbury, United Kingdom. It’s famous for the Cathedral, Chaucer, and there is a UNESCO world heritage site, which includes the ancient ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church. There is also a ruined castle. It’s a pretty place too and the coast nearby is great.

I work in an antiques shop and write. I have two dogs that keep me fit with their need for walks.

I am an indie author now, having tried querying a few years ago to no avail. I decided the eBook was the way to go and at least reach some readers.

I read heaps myself and love movies too.

I write romance, contemporary and erotic with a twist of mystery now and then. I like to make the story unusual in some way, by a quirk in the tale.

 

Hello Elodie, it’s a great pleasure to have you here, welcome to my blog! Your newest novel, Millie Reinvented, sounds really interesting. Can you tell us more about it?

Millie Re-invented is about a young woman who suddenly realizes that her husband has not really been kissing her for a couple of years.

Millie is kissed by a young man who works in the same firm as she does at their Christmas party, and the kiss is so different, and enjoyable it jolts her into the realization that she has been kissing her husband but he’s just been taking it. It’s not the only thing he’s been taking.

Millie finds herself assessing her relationship with her husband over the next months as the young man who kissed her at the party starts to pursue her.

The things Millie finds out about her husband astonish her.

She falls into a relationship with the young man, August. He is special and begins to love Millie entirely.

As Millie and August’s relationship deepens so do their love scenes.

There are some fun aspects to this erotic romance when Millie meets August’s friendship group from when they were all in university. There’s an instantly likeable group of women in this book and it’s easy to fall in love with August as a writer so I hope as a reader too. I tell his character journey with tenderness because he needs some healing as well as Millie. It’s a love story.

So what inspired this novel?

I was talking to a young woman who was in the antiques shop where I work and she was buying a little sculpture of two lovers kissing. She said she had to have it because it was so nice to look at, as her husband didn’t even kiss her anymore. I couldn’t say anything I just wrapped the item, and stored the thought until the story burst out onto my laptop.

What books do you read? Do you read books in your genre, or books very different from it?

I read all kinds of books. I read heaps of books too. Right now I’m reading, Fault Line by Robert Goddard that’s in hardcover, not a way I read many books now, usually they are Ebooks. I am also reading on kindle, a reference book, it’s about marketing.

I read an entire Science fiction series by an indie author last month, just had to read the whole series it was so good. I saw a feature on a blog and that me to it.

Lately when I read romance, which is the genre I write in, I ‘ve been reading paranormal romance just so I have something different to read from the glut of contemporary romance that is out there with basically the same plot, ‘someone meets a billionaire and they have sex’.

My books fall into the category of erotic romance because I do write the sex scenes

graphically and that’s because I want the love the characters feel showing. I write love stories.

Why do you write in the genre you’ve chosen?

I find the world harsh. There’s not enough love in it. Lots of people never find love. I write love stories with happy endings to spread a little lightness around.

What is the best part of publishing yourself?

When I was querying a few years ago it was such a cattle market. The publishers and agents holding the electric prod. You can’t have this and you can’t have that they would say and still do when I look at submission guidelines. I just wanted my stories read and I think if people found my books they would like them. So being able to put my books out there without the waiting and the general unpleasantness of the traditional publishing route is great. It’s a very fickle world too that of traditional publishing and lately I have thought of some best sellers in the romance genre how the h*** have they been published in the first place. You can become disillusioned when you see this and indie publishing gives you a chance to stay away from the incestuous and capricious traditional route.

If you could be a character from one of your books for a day, who would you be and why?

Wow that’s a question.

It’s hard to answer.

I’d like to answer it first as the female I am. In this case it would have to be Cassie from The Horoscope Writer. She’s a successful artist, very pretty, and Dominic falls in love with her in a forever kind of way. He’s a writer, adorable and hot. It would be nice to have.

If I was to be a guy in one of my stories it would have to be August from Millie Reinvented. He is great looking, healthy, sexy, intelligent, kind, and he’s in a creative job. In my next life I have to be a tall, great looking guy because it’s still their world, I believe, anyway. (Smiles)

Where can we find your novels?

On Kindle

http://www.amazon.com/Millie-Reinvented-ebook/dp/B008H5IF7U

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Millie-Reinvented-ebook/dp/B008H5IF7U

http://www.amazon.com/Two-of-Them-ebook/dp/B008RBJXOI

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Two-of-Them-ebook/dp/B008RBJXOI

 

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I’ve just released Two of Them, a contemporary romance with a little twist of mystery.

I am currently working on a romance, The Horoscope Writer.

It’s a love story with a tiny twist of the paranormal.

 

You can find out more about Elodie Parkes on Twitter, Facebook and her blog

http://www.facebook.com/ElodieParkes
https://twitter.com/ElodieParkes
http://elodieparkes.blogspot.co.uk/
https://plus.google.com/u/0/100127
http://www.facebook.com/elodie.parkes.1

Thank you for being here, Elodie, any parting words?

Thank you for inviting me Miranda, it’s been lovely to be here.

 

What a fantastic interview from Elodie! Now scroll down to read an excerpt from her novel, ‘Millie Reinvented’, and my review of it!

 

She turned her face up to his and he kissed her again.

Millie was lost in the sensation. Drowning in need, she clung to him, and then as he moved back from her lips she followed them as if she was starving and he was offering food.

He smiled. “I know your name is Millie but I bet you don’t know who I am”.

Millie sought his name from her memory made foggy by desire. She had been on the human resource team that had chosen him from amongst other hopefuls for the new post in the advertising agency. His name was unusual, was it Christmas, or Noel? Then she remembered it was August.

“It’s August isn’t it. You’ve been with us a couple of weeks and you are running that new dog food campaign”.

He smiled again and it put enticing little crinkles by the sides of his dark blue eyes. Millie licked her bottom lip. She wanted to kiss his eyelids.

“So you do know who I am. I’m impressed”, he said softly, and he didn’t mean just about her remembering his name.

Millie smiled and looked longingly at his lips. August knew she wanted to kiss him and emotion flooded his eyes. It was amusement, desire, and kindness all at once. Millie hoped he would kiss her and not that she would have to show her need by pulling his head to hers.

Elodie Parkes Copyright 2012, All rights reserved

 

Millie suddenly realizes that her husband has not really been kissing her for a couple of years.

She is kissed by a young man who works in the same firm as she does at their Christmas party, and the kiss is so different, and enjoyable it jolts her into the realization that she has been kissing her husband but he’s just been taking it.

It’s not the only thing he’s been taking.

Millie finds herself assessing her relationship with her husband over the next months as the young man who kissed her at the party starts to pursue her.

The things Millie finds out about her husband astonish her.

She falls into a relationship with the young man, August. He is special and begins to love Millie entirely.

As Millie and August’s relationship deepens so do their love scenes.

This is an erotic romance with explicit love/ sex scenes and is suitable for 18 +years only. There is no bad or vulgar language.

 

Good Points

Okay, first of all, I want to say that Ms Parkes is true to her word. In a world where love is not always found,  she writes a beautiful love story.  But it isn’t too thick on the romance like some romance novels can be, and the female protagonist, Millie, is not the ‘slappable’ type. She is a normal woman, and very relatable. I did wonder if I  would feel a bit strange about reading this story, as it does involve (in my eyes) a woman cheating on her husband. But first of all, her husband is not all that he seems, and you find yourself rooting for her, and even shedding a few tears. The story flows so well that you will be not be able to stop reading, and you are compelled to read onto the next page. On top of all this, the steamy scenes were hot. 😉

 

Bad Points

There were a couple of occasions where I felt it had been a little rushed, but it didn’t mean any information was left out, so it was still fine to read. I just would have liked to have seen a little more  drama and length put into these parts.

 

Overall

I felt this was a fantastic first offering from Elodie Parkes, and I can’t wait to read her next one! The story was beautiful, and the writing was crisp and well-written. I urge anyone looking for a new romance novel with some steamy scenes to pick this one up, and devour it in one sitting.

I give this novel…….5/5 Stars!

I’ve been nominated for The Versatile Blogger Award!

A huge, huge, Thank You to my lovely friend Karli Rush – Author for nominating my blog for the Versatile Blogger Award! I’m so pleased my little blog has been noticed! 😀

 
There are a few rule before accepting the award. Here they are:
Nominate 15 fellow bloggers who are relatively new to blogging.
Let the nominated bloggers know that they have been nominated for this award.
Share 7 random facts about yourself.
Thank the blogger who has nominated you.
Add the Versatile Blogger Award picture to your post

7 Random Facts About Me:

I am a Wiccan, and have been now for nine years.

I hate the squeaky sound shower curtains make *shudder*

I used to be in a Gothic metal band called Arachne a few years ago

I have a degree in Psychology-the irony to people who know how mad I am should be obvious. 😀

My favourite smells are fresh air, the ocean, and shoe shops

Despite not being able to do a handstand, I can turn a mean cartwheel.

I have eyes that are both green and blue.

 

Now for my nominees!

http://tarasphere.wordpress.com/

http://writertrishmdawson.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/hes-here-connor/

http://cameorenae.com/index.html

http://lindsayavalon.blogspot.com/

http://authorshiralynjlee.wordpress.com/

http://alifeamongthepages.wordpress.com/

http://darkestsins.blogspot.co.uk/

http://darkfrannysthoughts.blogspot.co.uk/

http://www.fictionalcandy.com/

http://serenaakeroyd.webs.com/apps/blog/

http://nicolefaithhill.blogspot.co.uk/

http://rwblog.reganwalsh.com/

http://elodieparkes.blogspot.co.uk/

http://www.tamiparrington.com/

http://authorlauradeluca.blogspot.co.uk/

Review of A Matter of Degree by Beckie Henderson

Happy Friday everyone! I’m sure we’re all already doing the countdown to the weekend, but just wait a little longer! Now get settled with your coffee or tea, and something nibbly, and read on to see my review for A Matter of Degree…..

 

Like a bit of romance? Like a bit of mystery? Then “A Matter of Degree” is for you!

When Katherine Valletta starts her new job at Deerhampton University, it’s clear that this is no normal workplace. Why has someone left an anonymous letter on her desk? Who is the arrogant woman who almost runs her down in that flashy sports car? And, most importantly, what is the story behind the handsome man whose arms she falls into on her way home?

As Katherine attempts to unravel these puzzles, her confidence and her self-knowledge grow, along with her relationships. She builds an unlikely friendship with Diana Woolf, Deerhampton’s tough new Professor of History. Fred Morris, the Admissions Tutor with a penchant for gaudy ties and knitted tank tops, seems like a useful ally. While in the midst of all the mayhem, Maddie Rose is a voice of reason, supporting her colleague Katherine all the way.

And in the background hovers sultry Biology Lecturer Chris Burberry. The more Katherine sees him, the more she likes him. But what does he want? What’s in his past? In fact, what does Katherine really know about him at all?

This witty, light-hearted novel is a great holiday read. Written in bite-sized chunks, it is also ideal for devouring on the move—while travelling to work, or when waiting for your kids to finish their swimming/piano/karate lessons, for example…

 

You can grab your copy here at Amazon US, and Amazon UK.

 

Good Points

Chick-lit romance is not normally my genre of choice when reading, but this one sounding so interesting, I thought I would give it a go. I found the writing flowed really well, and overall it was light and witty. The characters were vivid, and the dialogue between them was believable and fun. I especially liked Katherine, the main protagonist. In most romance novels, I end up wanting to slap the heroine at some point, but Katherine was amusing and sharp, and you could empathise easily with her. There is also an added mystery to this novel, which helped to move it along with something other than just the romance, which I found refreshing. I was kept guessing about ‘whodunnit’ the whole way until it was all revealed later on. I also loved the University setting, I thought it was beautifully described.

 

Bad Points

Although it was enjoyable it was such a light read, I personally would have preferred a little more ‘weight’ to the story. But that is just a personal preference, and I understand that people who read this genre regularly would probably like this.  I also would have liked it to be a little longer, I thought parts of the mystery could have been built up more if this was the case.

 

Overall

I thought this was a perfect book for light reading, for example if you were on holiday or just chilling in the garden for the day. I did enjoy it, and I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading contemporary women’s fiction, but want the added twist of another genre mixed in. The writing was very good, and I can’t wait to see what else this author comes out with!

I give this novel……4/5 Stars!

Interview, Review, and Giveaway with Jana Oliver and Foretold!

Happy Humpday all! I am delighted to bring you a VERY exciting author interview and review today, as part of Dark Mind Book Tours…..with none other than Jana Oliver! 

Jana Oliver loves to tell stories for both adults and teens. Her young adult Demon Trappers Series (St. Martin’s Griffin) is set in a dystopian 2018 Atlanta populated by Hellspawn, Deaders and scheming necromancers. The award-winning series is published internationally with editions in eight countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France and Poland. Jana’s foray into time travel and alternate history resulted in the multi-award winning Time Rovers Series (Dragon Moon Press). The series won twelve awards, including the Daphne du Maurier for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense, the Prism Award for Time Travel and ForeWord Magazine’s Editor’s Choice for Fiction.

Your newest novel, Foretold, sounds really interesting. Can you tell us more about it?

Foretold is the fourth and final novel in the Demon Trappers Series. The two main characters, seventeen-year-old Riley Blackthorne and twenty-two-year old Denver Beck, are demon trappers and have been through so many adventures fighting Hellspawn while trying to keep the city of Atlanta safe. This is their last big adventure where they must finally deal with the feelings they have for each other while facing the forces of Hell one last time.

 So what inspired this novel?

In the past we’ve had hints as to Denver Beck’s tragic past and in this book we’re finally going to his hometown near Okefenokee Swamp in South Georgia. Where that might sound like a good time, it’s a dangerous trip into his past where we’ll meet some old enemies eager to settle the score.

What books do you read? Do you read books in your genre, or books very different from it?

I read across the genres, but for the most part I’m an urban fantasy junkie so that means I’m enjoying authors such as Jim Butcher, Ilona Andrews, Kevin Hearne, etc. I’m also a dedicated mystery reader so I often indulge in English murder mysteries.

When did you realise you wanted to be a writer? Do you remember what inspired you?

I wrote a few stories when I was younger and then in 1998 someone flipped a switch in my head and I HAD to write. Since I was always making up stories, I figured I’d put them on paper and see what happened.

Why do you write in the genre you’ve chosen?

I don’t really think of genre until I’m done with the story. I might plan ahead to have a young adult hero or heroine, but after that the story just comes out however it wants. It’s after the fact that I figure what genre it might be.

What advice would you give to others who wanted to become indie authors?

Being indie is not a ticket to fame and fortune. I’ve been published by traditional publishing houses and self-published. On the one hand you have professionals editing your book, handling the production, promotion and marketing. If you’re indie you do all that yourself and if you skimp on any one of those parts you’ll hate yourself down the line. However, you will learn the business inside and out, because you are, in essence, the publisher.

Also, building your “name brand” takes time. I’ve been working at it for eleven years. It’s the rare indie author who suddenly hits the big time. I recommend that writers weigh the pros and cons of traditional vs. indie and then choose what’s best for them. That choice might change down the line, but go into it with your eyes wide open.

What is the best part of publishing yourself?

You do have complete control over the book. And on the flip side, that can be a big negative because you’re responsible for everything and if something goes wrong, it’s all on your head. 😉

If you could be a character from one of your books for a day, who would you be and why?

Lady Torin – she’s a necromancer who is fond of single malt Scotch and doesn’t take much guff from anyone.

Where can we find your novels?

They are available in local bookshops and at the online retailers.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I’m currently working on a couple of book proposals for standalone novels, which I hope to write in the coming year. Both are young adult. I can’t give you details just yet, but both will have my usual action/adventure with a wee bit of romance as well.

You can find out more about Jana Oliver on Twitter (@crazyauthorgirl), Facebook, Goodreads, and her UK Demon Trappers’ website/blog and at her Jana Oliver website. Thank you for being here, Jana, any parting words?

Thank you for having me by!

 

Foretold

Stand by as Riley Blackthorne prepares to kick some serious demon butt for the last time in this thrilling, dramatic and sexy conclusion to THE DEMON TRAPPERS series. Riley’s always known that Denver Beck had a chequered history, but she’s not prepared for what it actually means to be in love with a guy with this many dark secrets. Now that he’s finally admitted to himself that he’s in love with her too, there’s no more hiding the truth about his past. And as it turns out, fending off a demon apocalypse is nothing compared to what’s to come. . .

Where to purchase Foretold:

Amazon UK

Waterstones

Book Depository

Good Points

Now I would like to start by saying I have never read any of Jana Oliver’s previous books in this series, but the first few pages got me hooked-now I have to read the others.  The first thing that gripped me was the main characters. They were strong, well-defined and interesting. I wanted to know more about them immediately, and the dialogue between them was realistic and flowing. I know that some people can hate it when a Scottish character speaks too much ‘stereotypical Scottish’. I disagree, I have lived in Scotland, and some people do use these kind of words a lot! I love it personally when characters have accents written in, it really helps me to hear their voice. The writing was crisp and vivid, and the action scenes (in my humble opinion, one of the hardest things to write) were fantastic, and built the drama up. I loved the overall idea behind the storyline (in this book, and presumably the others, of ‘demon-trapping’), and thought it was original and well-written.

Bad Points

That I need to read the rest! Although that is really a bad point to me. 🙂

While I thought that the main characters were vivid and interesting, some of the secondary characters felt a bit lacking. At time they seemed almost as though they had been put in some of the situations purely for the benefit of Riley, and it would have been nice to see a little more of them doing their own thing-but perhaps this has happened more in previous books? I also felt a little squeamish as the loved-up couple began talking more about their future together further towards the end of the book in such deep terms. The main character, Riley, is quite young, and I’m not sure I would have had that kind of conversation at that age.

Overall

This was a great book that I truly enjoyed reading. I will have to go back and read the rest of the series now, in order to know how it ended where it did! This book was wonderfully written, and kept me bouncing along from page to page. I wouldn’t say it was an amazing book, because of the issues I raised above, but it was definitely a great book I would happily read again.

I give this novel….4/5 Stars!

Now for the giveaway! The part you’ve all been waiting for. Jana Oliver is kindly offering the choice of 1 copy of any of her Demon-Trappers series, in either ebook form or printed copy! (one choice only, please state this) The giveaway will be open until 29th August. There will also be a huge giveaway over at Dark Mind Book Tours, so don’t forget to check it out!

The giveaway has now ended-thank you to all who entered, the winner will be announced shortly!

Interview and Review with Brad Shreffler

Good Afternoon everyone! Grab your lunch, settle into your chair, and enjoy! Because today we have not just another awesome author interview, but also a review with author Brad Shreffler! Enjoy everyone!

 

He graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2008 with a degree in business administration, which is obviously working out real well for him since he is a teacher.

He and his wife, Amanda, are high school sweet hearts who got married in 2007.  In May of 2012, they welcomed their first child, a son named Zack, into the world (pictured on right).

As a teacher, he is always looking for a way to challenge and engage his students.  Well known in his school for expecting and encouraging excessive amounts of reading from his students, he decided to give them a new challenge in 2011.  In November of 2011, he challenged his students to do NaNoWriMo, an online challenge to write a 50,000 word or greater novel in one month.  He offered them 20% of their final grade for the quarter in extra credit. In addition, in order to encourage them further to complete the project, he took the challenge himself.

While none of his students completed the challenge, Brad did, and Jack Wrimo and the Ori of Flames was born.  He also looks forward to completing the sequel to this novel in November of this year.

For more information on NaNoWriMo, or to signup for the 2012 challenge, go here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/

 

Hello Brad, it’s a great pleasure to have you here, welcome to my blog. Your novel, Jack Wrimo and the Ori of Flames, sounds really interesting. Can you tell us more about it?

Well, it is about a 15 year old boy, Jack, who has a pretty good life.  His parents are pretty cool, he is pretty popular, does well in school, and is even pretty good in sports.  His only problem is that once a month, his parents force him to go with his family to the Flea Market.  Usually, these trips are pretty uneventful, but this time he buys a pair of bookends that are really intriguing, and passes out the second he touches them.  Eventually, he realizes he has released an ancient evil and a powerful ally, Pharia.

So what inspired this novel?

I am a 7th Grade Language Arts teacher, and last year I challenged my students (for an insane amount of extra credit) to complete NaNoWriMo, an online challenge to complete a 50,000 word novel in one month.  In order to encourage them, I took the challenge myself, and this is what I came up with.

What books do you read? Do you read books in your genre, or books very different from it?

I read fiction almost exclusively, but my tastes range from fantasy to sci-fi.  My favourite books of all time are Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card and The Codex Alera by Jim Butcher.  I also love the work of Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games), Terry Brooks (The Sword of Shannara), and pretty much anything in the Star Wars universe, especially after Episode VI.  I would say that all of these have some level of influence on my own writing, so it makes sense I would write fiction myself.

What is the best part of publishing yourself?

Wow, that’s a good question.  Self-publishing is kind of a double edged sword to me.  It is nice to not have to worry about an editor or publicist trying to change my work, but at the same time, I don’t have an editor or publicist helping me promote and improve my work!  Overall though, I would say that the control that you are afforded through self-publishing is really nice.  The final product is totally your baby, the good and the bad.

If you could be a character from one of your books for a day, who would you be and why?

That’s an easy one: Bucan, my villain.  I had so much fun writing this character because I just got to throw out my conscience and be pure evil.  It would be exciting to have all his power and no conscience for a day.  Not sure what that says about me as a person though…

Where can we find your novels?

My novel is available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle, and on BarnesAndNoble.com.  Just search for “Jack Wrimo.”

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

This November I will be writing the sequel to Jack Wrimo and the Ori of Flames for NaNoWriMo 2012.  After that, I’m not sure.  I feel like delving into the world of zombies since I am training for a zombie 5K and am a little obsessed with the undead.  We shall see.

You can find out more about Brad Shreffler on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and his blog. Thank you for being here, Brad, any parting words?

Thank you for having me here, it’s been fun.  Also, make sure you check out my website, where I am running a contest where you have a chance to become a character in my next book.

 

Now scroll down to see my review of his book!

 

“Ori are a race of beings that are bonded with a natural force present on this planet. When our mother, Earthra, creates a new example of her power, she also creates an Ori to govern that power. I am the Ori of Flame.”

A 15 year old boy, named Jack Wrimo, is an average kid in every sense of the word. He has never been the fastest kid, or the smartest kid, but never the least of them either. That all changes when his family takes a trip to a flea market, and what he finds there changes his life forever.

Jack, along with his ally Pharia, must learn how to control new powers, fight a mysterious evil being, and save his best friend Matt in this exciting adventure.

You can grab your copy here at Amazon US, Amazon UK, and Barnes and Noble!

 

 

 

Good Points

First I would like to say that I loved the reason the author had for writing this book. It was incredibly creative, and what a fantastic way for a book to be born! This is a book intended for young adults, and Brad Shreffler has made his main character Jack as exciting as possible, and not just ‘average’. Having said this, he is also relatable, which obviously is a good thing if you’re trying to get teenagers to read! The pace of the story was fairly good, although I felt the first two thirds of the book went at an easier pace than the last third. The characters were very unique, and I thought they were well-described and vivid, although it might have been nice to know a little more about the villain of the piece.  I also thought that although this was a great read for teenagers, it had that slight edge to it, where it went to some dark places, making it more interesting for young adult readers.

 

Bad Points

There was the odd grammatical error, but nothing too bad, and certainly not so much as to stop the reader continuing. I thought, as I mentioned above, that it might be nice if the villain had maybe more of a back story, as he seemed a little flat compared to the other characters. I also felt it tailed of towards the end, losing the pace of the beginning of the book.

 

Overall

I thought this was a great début novel from this author. The story overall is fantastic, the actual writing could do with a little tightening up, and condensing of some chapters. I enjoyed reading it, and thought it would definitely be a great read I would allow any teenager to get into. Although it stayed on a true and tested path, it also had lots of unexpected twists and dives that you never saw coming.

I would give this novel……….4/5 Stars!