Thursday, October 28, 2010

Blog Tour & Contest: Rise Again

Rise Again:
A Zombie Thriller
Author: Ben Tripp
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Gallery
Released 10/26/10
Available in Softcover from Amazon

A MYSTERIOUS CONTAGION.
MASS HYSTERIA. SUDDEN DEATH.

And a warning that would come all too late . . .

Forest Peak, California. Fourth of July. Sheriff Danielle Adelman, a troubled war veteran, thinks she has all the problems she can handle in this all-American town after her kid sister runs away from home. But when a disease-stricken horde of panicked refugees fleeing the fall of Los Angeles swarms her small mountain community, Danny realizes her problems have only just begun—starting with what might very well be the end of the world. Danny thought she had seen humanity at its worst in war-torn Iraq, but nothing could prepare her for the remorseless struggle to survive in a dying world being overrun by the reanimated dead and men turned monster. Obsessed with finding her missing sister against all odds, Danny’s epic and dangerous journey across the California desert will challenge her spirit . . . and bring her to the precipice of sanity itself. . . .

I asked to review Rise Again because I am a sucker for zombie novels, and so are my teens. Rise Again is more character driven than some of the other zombie novels I've read this year, and the main character is a female war veteran who is also the sheriff of a small town in California. Don't worry, it still has plenty of gore, violence and pus. If there are zombies, then you will have rot and body fluids. No way around that. Rise Again is gritty, dark and thought provoking. Zombie fans will love it, and those who like Apocalyptic tales will also appreciate it. I liked that it was character driven and had a bit of humor to offset the horror.

Rise Again is a cool addition to the zombie club, and a great read for horror fans.

Cool Extras
Printable Zombie Eye Glasses, Eye patch mask, bookmarks, wound stickers, Zomb-aid bandages, and alternative book dust jackets are all available free as pdf files.

If you have an iPhone or iPodtouch you can download one of two cool wallpapers. This page has all of the freebies: http://www.riseagainthenovel.com/downloads.htm

To find out more about Rise Again, Ben Tripp and more visit here:
http://www.riseagainthenovel.com/about-book-rise-again.htm

THE CONTEST FOR RISE AGAIN
The publisher is allowing me to give away one softcover copy of Rise Again. As always, answer my question for a chance to win.

If your town was infiltrated by zombies and you would have only ONE weapon, what would you choose?

I will randomly choose a winner on November 12th, 2001.

~Brenda

Blog Tour & Contest: Ecstasy in Darkness

Ecstasy in Darkness
Alien Huntress, #5
Paperback: 512 pages
Publisher: Pocket Star
Release Date: 10/26/10
Available for the Kindle & in Paperback

SUMMARY:Growing up poor on New Chicago’s meanest streets, Ava Sans had two options: be the predator, or be the prey. No contest. Now, working for Alien Investigation and Removal, she’s been ordered to capture the biggest, baddest warrior of all—a vampire too beautiful to be real, with the ability to manipulate time. Once the leader of the entire vampire army, McKell has been deemed savage and unstable, spurned even by his own kind.To McKell, humans should be nothing more than sustenance. Yet the petite, golden-skinned Ava is a fascinating contradiction—vicious yet witty, strong yet vulnerable, lethal but fiercely loyal. Against his better judgment, McKell craves that loyalty, and much more. When the chase leads to seduction, McKell and Ava will race to discover the truth about his past. But the answers will come at a price, even for a woman who thought she had nothing left to lose. . . .

I asked to join the blog tour for Ecstasy in Darkness because I had heard good things about the series, but hadn't read it yet. I love her Lords of the Underworld series, and wondered if this one would be just as good. I wasn't disappointed, even skipping ahead to the fifth book. Gena Showalter does a great job writing the book so it can stand alone, filling in a few gaps from the other stories along the way.

Ecstasy in Darkness is a paranormal romance with gritty undertones, mostly due to a disease ridden enemy stalking the characters throughout the book. It's also primarily a paranormal romance focusing on Ava and McKell, the fated mates. The snark and humor is edgy, and the banter between Ava and her best friend, Noelle, is constant which would probably be annoying for readers that don't like that type of thing. I chuckled throughout the entire book, and really enjoyed their banter.

McKell is a fascinating character. He's an uber alpha vampire who was an enforcer for the underground vampire world until he disobeyed the king's order and was banished to the surface to live among humans. He's a fish out of water when it comes to social skills and the human civilization. Vampire women apparently are treated with kid gloves and are insulted easily. He is fascinated, horrified and confused at the interaction between Ava and Noelle when they are sent to capture him. I love his character with his dry humor, and the thoughts he has as he deals with his attraction to Ava.

The sexual tension builds, and when our couple finally give in, it's passionate and extremely sensual. This serves as a warning to those that may like their books a little less steamy.

I loved this world, and will be going back to read the other four books as soon as I can. I enjoyed the witty dialog, the suspense, action and romance in Ecstasy in Darkness. If you love Gena Showalter's other books, or if you are a fan of Kresley Cole, Lara Adrian, J.R. Ward or Sherrilyn Kenyon you will enjoy Ecstasy in Darkness.

Alien Huntress Series
1. Awaken Me Darkly (2005)
2. Enslave Me Sweetly (2006)
3. Savor Me Slowly (2007)
4. Seduce the Darkness (2009)
5. Ecstasy in Darkness (2010)

To learn more about Gena's books visit her blog at:
http://genashowalter.blogspot.com/

THE CONTEST: WIN ECSTASY IN DARKNESS
The publisher has graciously allowed me to give away one copy of Ecstasy in Darkness to a visitor. As usual, please leave a comment answering my question to enter the contest.

Do you like snarky banter between characters in stories? Or do you prefer things to be slightly more serious?

I will choose a random winner on November 12th, 2010.

~Brenda

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Granite Lake Wolves New Release

Wolf Tracks
Granite Lake Wolves, #4
Author:Vivian Arend
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 424 KB
Publisher: Samhain
Release Date: 10/26/10
Available for the Kindle at Amazon

Warning: By popular demand: Clumsy sidekick wolf grows up, sarcasm reigns, and the wilderness gets wilder. Includes hot nookie in places you expect—like a remote cabin—and places you don’t.

Some authors and their books sneak up on readers. You pick up one of their books on your Kindle, but it becomes buried beneath the other 100 books you've downloaded. One day you click on the book, and you start reading it, then you can't stop. Next thing you know you're on the Amazon site looking for the rest of the books in the series. You find them, and giggle with relief. That was a close one...until you get to the third book in the series and realize you have to wait for the fourth book. You start sweating....and have to distract yourself with other books. You wait, and wait...finally it's release day. You celebrate with a read-a-thon.

This is exactly what happened to me with Vivian Arend's Granite Lake Wolves series. Each story is a novella that revolves around one of the wolves and their future mate. We also get to visit with the other members of the pack to learn what they are up to since their story was told. The stories are passionate, steamy and full of witty banter and heartwarming humor. They take place in the North where there are forests, lakes, wildlife, cabins and hunky werewolves.

Wolf Tracks is the newest novella in the series and was released this week. Yes, I preordered it and read it on and off all day when it came out. I was suppose to be blogging and writing, so don't tell anyone. It was worth the wait. However, I read it too fast, and now I'm back to waiting. Sigh. This winter I'm going to read all four of the stories again in order, one right after the other, while I wait for my next fix the next book. Below are teaser words I chose in honor of T.J. and Pam.

TEASER WORDS
stairs
BFF
song
crash
wolfie
hiking
helicopter
bear
roof

There are four novellas in the Granite Lake Wolves series, plus two free reads, which I've linked to in the list. I loved reading the books in order because it introduces the reader to the characters a little bit in each story, which makes them a better read. The author has plans for a fifth book in the not too distant future and possibly two more free reads. Rest assured, I will let you know when the release is announced.

Digital:
1.Wolf Signs
First Howl/Free here
2.Wolf Flight
Second Howl/Free here
3.Wolf Games
4.Wolf Tracks

Print:
Under the Northern Lights
(Includes #1 and #2)

Under the Midnight Sun
(Will be #3 and#4)
Release Date: 10/2011

If you are a fan of Moira Rogers, you will love Vivian Arend. If you haven't read either of them, but love werewolves, happily-ever-afters, and witty banter, you will love their books.

~Brenda

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Release: His Darkest Embrace

I've been dying to post this interview with Juliana Stone since I read His Darkest Embrace in September, but I wanted to wait until it was closer to the release date. It's finally here, and you can buy His Darkest Embrace tomorrow, October 26th, 2010! Below is our interview:

Brenda: What type of research did you do for Jaguar Warriors series? There is so much detail in the location of His Darkest Embrace, plus the military aspect of the guys. Did you start out knowing where you wanted it to take place or did that develop as you were writing?

Juliana: I knew I wanted to write about shifters with vampires and sorcerers thrown in for good measure! I’d been to Belize on vacation and while researching jaguars came across mention of Jaguar Warriors. So it was a perfect scenario. Jaguars were an important part of the Mayan and Aztec cultures and I was able to take that and weave it into a story that encompassed North America and Belize!

Brenda: I have to tell you that I'm an Alpha fan all the way, and I think you took Jagger's alpha male personality to a new level. He's pretty dang intense and sexy. Do you ever stop and think to yourself, "Okay, that's a little over the top." or do you just go with it? Not that I'm complaining, because I loved Jagger.

Juliana: I’m a total pantser when I write and just go for it. I love alpha men, strong men who aren’t afraid to please their women or show a tender side. The kind of guy who will do whatever it takes to save the day. I’ve never deleted a scene or rewrote something because I thought it was way out there. My mind just goes and I follow!

Brenda: Has the last year been a whirlwind for you with two books going to print, plus two more digital releases? (I'll list them all with links at the end of the interview.) FOUR releases in one year is amazing. What was your time frame on the writing?

Juliana: Publishing is a slow ride but once the ride starts, it usually goes full steam ahead. Example, His Darkest Hunger was written in 2008. His Darkest Embrace was written in 2009. They were both released this year, BUT I wrote books 3 & 4 between mid February of this year and the end of August. That was tough, writing 2 full length books in six months, with revisions and copy edits thrown in…but you do whatever it takes!

Brenda: I noticed that you are a mom too ( I have a 17, 16 and 10 year old.). How has your writing changed since become a mother? Do you learn things from your kids as they get older?

Juliana: My kids are 14 and 11 respectively and as I’ve only been writing for 3 years nothing has changed really. I do have a goal of writing a YA that my kids can read, so that’s something I work on in my spare time.

Brenda: Do you think you'll stick to paranormal stories, or do you have an itch to write another type of book?

Juliana: The cool thing about writing is your only limited by where you mind can go. I love paranormal and my voice does tend to go dark, but I’d love to write a sexy, funny contemporary as well as mentioned earlier, a young adult.

Brenda: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I truly loved His Darkest Embrace, and can't wait to read your other books.


THE REVIEW
His Darkest Embrace
Jaguar Warriors #2
Author: Juliana Stone
Publisher: Harper Collins, Inc
File Size: 588 KB
Print Length: 384 pages
Release: 10/26/10
Available in Paperback & for Kindle at Amazon

SUMMARY: Jagger is a creature of the night-Skye Knightly soars in the sun. Natural adversaries, they have been joined by destiny in a mission entrusted to Skye's family centuries ago: Nothing less than the salvation of the Earth. Wounded and bitter, Jagger sought escape in the solitude of the jungle, driven by a need to disappear forever. until a mysterious shifter who calls to his soul and feeds a yearning long forgotten, pulls him from his dark path. A courageous warrior, Skye's passion is equal to Jagger's own-but can she trust a man on the edge? A man whose secrets are as devastating as her own?

Skye Knightly, the heroine of His Darkest Embrace is on a mission, one that could save the world, but end her life. When she's rescued by Jagger, an ex-soldier trying to escape his past, they both find something they didn't expect. Saving the world almost seems easy compared to figuring out life and love. The author writes with passion and excitement, keeping the book fast paced and compelling. She takes the alpha male concept to a new level with Jagger. Skye is focused, intelligent, and cynical. Trust is not something she gives easily because she's been burned before. They both are suspicious of each other, yet it's impossible to deny the attraction between them.

The sexual tension, and passion between Skye and Jagger is intense right from the start. Don't expect a fast romp in the jungle with these two though. Jagger isn't a love and leave 'em type of guy. He's a stubborn shifter, who is tired of doing things he doesn't believe in, so he wants Skye body, heart and soul. We meet more of his family later in the story, and slowly learn why he is in the jungle. Plenty of action and suspense are mixed in with the romance which makes this His Darkest Embrace a great read.

If you enjoyed the Darkness Chosen series by Christina Dodd, or books by Lara Adrian you'll love His Darkest Embrace, and the other books in the series.

TEASER WORDS
waterfalls
caves
fire
flying
passion
brothers

Jaguar Warriors
1. His Darkest Hunger
2. His Darkest Embrace
3. His Darkest Salvation (7/2011)

Black Opals
1. Black Legacy
2. Black Destiny

You find out more about Juliana's book on her website:
http://julianastone.com/

She also blogs at one of my favorite places:
http://supernaturalunderground.blogspot.com/

~Brenda

CymLowell

Friday, October 22, 2010

Review: Tarnished Knight

Tarnished Knight
Grimm's Circle #4
Author: Shiloh Walker
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 569 KB
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Released: 10/26/10
Available for the Kindle from Amazon.

SUMMARY: One look at Jack Wallace and Perci knows he’s going to be trouble. Even surrounded by soul stealers, he’s a one-man wrecking crew. What does he need Grimm training for? He’s already hell on earth, a warrior bent on destruction. And something…more.

When they come together, it isn’t careful or cautious. It’s heaven and hell, exposing all their raw and wounded places to healing heat, resurrecting memories of a destined love from the distant past. But the evil that destroyed them once before has tracked them here, threatening their second and last chance at forever. Demanding a sacrifice no one—Grimm or human—should ever be asked to make…

Warning: Dark, sexy, a little bit scary—this fairy tale is only for grownups and is best saved for bedtime.

I asked to review Tarnished Knight because I had read the first book in the series, and I wondered where the author had taken her twisted fairy tales next. Shiloh Walker is an author who can take her readers to very dark places. I always imagine her saying to me "Listen, I'm taking these characters to a dark place, but trust me and I'll get them through it." Yes, I have a vivid imagination. Seriously though, Tarnished Knight is a story of broken, abused hearts, bodies and souls. Life is not always easy, and it's rare that someone looks across a crowded room, finds out soul mate with a glance, and lives happily ever after. Sometimes we have to go through the fire before we find love.

Tarnished Knight is a heart wrenching tale, but there is always a glimmer of hope, as we read of Luc, Perci, and Jack. Perci is a broken woman, and has been for 300 years. She probably would have remained so, if not for the interference of Will, her Grimm leader. He sets events in motion, and hopes things will turn out for the better. I love the message of this book, or at least what I perceived as the overall message. Sometimes we hang on to relationships when we shouldn't, causing pain to both individuals. Forgiveness doesn't always mean things go back to the way they were...it may mean moving on without that person to find happiness.

Tarnished Knight is a passionate, emotional story with scorching, healing sex scenes, and a mystery that must be solved and acknowledged by those involved. If you are already a fan of Shiloh Walker you will want to preorder Tarnished Knight so it's delivered the day it's released. If you haven't read her books, but you love Stacia Kane, Jacquelyn Frank, or Eve Silver, you should read Shiloh Walker, and Tarnished Knights.

TEASER WORDS
scissors
battle
princess
broken
demon
cue stick
bruises
goodbyes
living

You can find out more about Shiloh and the Grimm's Circle books on her website:
http://www.shilohwalker.com/

~Brenda

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Blog Tour & Contest: Blood Trinity

Blood Trinity
Belador Series #1
Authors:
Sherrilyn Kenyon
Dianna Love
Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: Pocket
Released: 10/19/10
Available in print & digital from Amazon.

Summary: Atlanta has become the battlefield between human and demon. All her life, Evalle Kincaid has walked the line between the two. Her origins unknown, she’s on a quest to learn more about her past . . . and her future.When a demon claims a young woman in a terrifying attack and there’s no one else to blame, Evalle comes under suspicion. Now she’s on a deadly quest for her own survival. Through the sordid underground of an alternate Atlanta where nothing is as it seems to the front lines of the city, where her former allies have joined forces to hunt her, Evalle must prove her innocence or pay the ultimate price.But saving herself is the least of her problems if she doesn’t stop the coming apocalypse. The clock is ticking and Atlanta is about to catch fire. . . .

I asked to review Blood Trinity and received a copy this week from the publisher. I will definitely be given this book a second read because it's the first in the series with a lot of fascinating introductions, and a new world to learn about. The book is urban fantasy with a bit of paranormal romance as the main character, Evalle (E-val with a long A), works with a team of supernatural men, has two best friends that are men, and discovers two more men she's attracted to for the first time in her life. Yeah, we could say "It's raining men for Evalle" and seriously mean it. I always read a first book in a series with anticipation because in the back of my mind as I read I make my little list of cool side characters that might be featured in future books. In this case there is plenty of possibilities.

This is the first book in The Belador Series, though it did start with the story Midnight Kiss Goodbye in the anthology Dead After Dark, which features Trey and Sasha. They do appear in Blood Trinity as well.

The authors have written an engaging and suspenseful tale of magic, time travel, and legends come to life. I loved the relationship between the heroine, Evalle and her fellow warriors, Quinn and Tzader (silent T). They are protective of her like big brothers, often scolding her for taking chances and not asking for help. She loves them and will protect them at all costs for their love and loyalty. Their witty banter is also a nice comic relief from the mayhem and murder going on around them.

Evalle is a tough heroine with a tortured, abusive childhood. Trust is almost impossible for her to give, as well as love, but she's not hardened completely. She cares about people who can't protect themselves, and a special pet that is adorable and freaky at the same time. The introduction to her pet is one of my favorite parts of the book.

Blood Trinity will appeal to readers of Gena Showalter, Kresley Cole, and Lara Adrian. I really enjoyed the book, and can't wait for the next one which is scheduled to be released in the Fall of 2011.

You can learn more about Blood Trinity and the series at both author's websites.
http://www.authordiannalove.com
http://www.sherrilynkenyon.com/series.php?id=30

CONTEST FOR BLOOD TRINITY
The publisher has graciously allowed me to give away one copy of Blood Trinity, which is good because as much as I love you guys, I'm keeping mine:) As usual, answer my question for your entry. The contest will end October 31st, 2010.

Many times characters in books have pets. What pet do you remember from a book that really stuck with you when you were reading, and even afterwards? Give the name of the book, and the type of pet.

I'll randomly pick the winner the morning of November 1st, 2010.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review: Double Cross by Carolyn Crane

Double Cross
The Disillusionists Trilogy
Author: Carolyn Crane
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Spectra
Released: 9/28/2010)
Available in Paperback & Digital from Amazon

SUMMARY: Justine Jones lived her life as a fearful hypochondriac until she was lured into the web of a mysterious mastermind named Packard, who gifts her with extraordinary mental powers—dooming her to fight Midcity’s shadowy war on paranormal crime in order to find the peace she so desperately craves.

But now serial killers with unheard-of skills are terrorizing the most powerful beings in Midcity, including mastermind Packard and his oldest friend and worst enemy, Midcity’s new mayor, who has the ability to bend matter itself to his will.

I won my copy of Double Cross, the second book in The Disillustionists Trilogy, from A Buckeye Girl Reads, and it's a good thing because I was cranky that I hadn't been able to buy it yet. It's a tricky thing avoiding spoilers on the blogs, facebook and twitter, let me tell you.

After reading Double Cross I realized just how brilliant Carolyn Crane really is. Sure, after reading Mind Games I thought she was amazing and I loved the book from start to finish, but it wasn't until finishing the second book in the series that I truly appreciated her mind. I don't think it's possible to explain just how intriguing her characters and the world she has built for this series really is. It's something each reader has to discover for themselves. Double Cross is a mix of dark urban fantasy, mystery, paranormal romance and psychological thriller. The mental quirks of the characters are part of what makes it so fascinating. It's impossible for the reader to not think of real people in their lives when they are reading this series. Though the books are fiction, they have so many insights into the human psyche, that I found myself actually gaining an understanding of myself and others in my life while reading. I know that's probably not something the author meant to have happen, but for me it did.

Double Cross takes us further into the relationship Justine has with the two main men in her life. I won't give spoilers because with this series the reader needs to delve in without knowing any details ahead of time. Each of the men have faults, and are by no means pure in their motives towards her or the people they protect. Nothing in this world is black and white. There are bad guys, but mostly there are people who have been shaped by the experiences in their lives; some more scarred than others. Some of their actions may be "bad" but not all, nor does it make them evil. Just as a person can give the appearance of being a good guy, but their motives and personality may take them to places far from "good".

Another thing the author is great at is providing comic relief just when it's needed. Carolyn Crane is a woman and author with a brilliant wit and a whimsical sense of humor. She can make the reader ponder the human psyche, weep, and then have us laughing all within the same page. Brilliant, I tell you.

Mind Games and Double Cross are both must reads. Seriously folks, there is not a vampire, werewolf, or fairy in sight, but they are never missed because the world Carolyn Crane has created is THAT unique, thought provoking and entertaining. Repeat with me "We don't need no stinkin' vamps, shifters or fae in Midcity." As you read these books you won't wish for anything other than what the author gives you on the pages of her books.

TEASER WORDS
Gumby
Cow Brown
Dreams
Vacuums
Falafel day
freedom

To learn more about Double Cross visit the author at her website: http://authorcarolyncrane.com/ . Drop by her blog for contests, snark & fun here: http://thethrillionthpage.blogspot.com/


CymLowell

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Big Ass Winners Post

Yes, this is the Big Ass Blog Post where I finally announce the winners of my September & October 15th Contests.

*Stephmartin71 was the winner of A Safe Harbor by Moira Rogers, which is one of my favorite books. I've read it twice, and I'm sure will read it many more times.

*Venom by Jennifer Estep, another of my favorite series, was won by Scorpio M. who said in answer to what she does when she's stressed:

Scorpio M. said...
I go running or shopping (bad I know!) when I'm stressed.

*Aching for Always by Gwen Cready, a very cool read, was won by Martha Lawson who said...

I have read lots of time travel books, but not recently! This one sounds really good.

**Congrats to you all...now on to my Blog Birthday Contest. **

There were three peeps that came in with the most comments, but two of them were tied, so I've emailed them to figure out which book package they would prefer.

1. Hendy
2. jellybelly82158
3. Sue (okibi_insanity)

Thanks to everyone for your awesome congrats and the patience while I figured out the winners. You guys rock:)

~Brenda

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tour Contest: WOW The Shattering

World of Warcraft:
The Shattering
Author: Christie Golden
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Gallery
Release: October 19, 2010
Available in Hardcover & Digital from Amazon

Thrall, wise shaman and the warchief of the Horde, has sensed a disturbing change . . .

Long ago, Azeroth's destructive native elementals raged across the world until the benevolent titans imprisoned them within the Elemental Plane. Despite the titans' intervention, many elementals have ended up back on Azeroth. Over the ages, shaman like Thrall have communed with these spirits and, through patience and dedication, learned to soothe roaring infernos, bring rain to sun-scorched lands, and otherwise temper the elementals' ruinous influence on the world of Azeroth.

Now Thrall has discovered that the elementals no longer heed the shaman's call. The link shared with these spirits has grown thin and frayed, as if Azeroth itself were under great duress. While Thrall seeks answers to what ails the confused elements, he also wrestles with the orcs' precarious future as his people face dwindling supplies and growing hostility with their night elf neighbors.

Meanwhile, King Varian Wrynn of Stormwind is considering violent action in response to mounting tensions between the Alliance and the Horde, a hard-line approach that threatens to alienate those closest to him, including his son, Anduin. The conflicted young prince has set out to find his own path, but in doing so, he risks becoming entangled in political instability that is setting the world on edge.

The fate of Azeroth's great races is shrouded in a fog of uncertainty, and the erratic behavior of the elemental spirits, troubling though it is, may only be the first ominous warning sign of the cataclysm to come.

THE AUTHOR
New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Christie Golden has written thirty-five novels and several short stories in the fields of science fiction, fantasy and horror. Among her many projects are over a dozen Star Trek novels and several original fantasy novels. An avid player of World of Warcraft, she has written two manga short stories and several novels in that world (Lord of the Clans, Rise of the Horde, Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, and The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm) with more in the works. She has also written the StarCraft Dark Templar Trilogy, Firstborn, Shadow Hunters, and Twilight.

THE GIVEAWAY
The publisher has allowed me to give away one hardcover edition of The Shattering. Simply leave a comment answering my question. Be sure to leave your email if you don't have it linked to a Google account, so I can contact you. The contest will end October 31st, 2010.

Do you play World of Warcraft, or any other online games? What do you enjoy about online with other players?

Thanks for commenting, and I will randomly choose a winner to announce on November 1st, 2010.

~Brenda

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Review & Interview with Jackie Morse Kessler

I received an ARC of Hunger, Jackie Morse Kessler's new young adult novel. As soon as I finished reading her book, I emailed asking if I could do an interview. You can read my review after the interview with Jackie. Hunger is an important book for parents and teens to read, and make available. I would love to see it in every high school library.

Brenda: I just finished Hunger, and loved it on two levels, one as a reader and another as a mom. I have a daughter who is ten, so we are just getting into self image issues. I loved the story itself, and the lessons it taught.

JK: YAY! My big hope for HUNGER is that it reaches its audience.

Brenda: When you were writing Hunger was it difficult to keep the "voice" of the main character and not get into lecture mode? I thought you did a great job with that aspect.

JK: Thank you! Once I figured out who the main character was, and what the purpose of the Horsemen was, the story just flowed. (Then again, it’s been percolating for the better part of ten years.) The only active restraints I had when I was writing HUNGER was not to describe what Lisa looked like physically or to give her actual weight. But everything else, including the voice, just came naturally while writing.

Brenda: I don't want to give spoilers, so I'll try to word this carefully. Will we see Famine again in the other books of the series? I know the second book, Rage, is coming out in 2011. I'm guessing we will see Death again:)

JK: Yes, Famine plays a role in the next book, RAGE. And Death has a bigger part in that book as well. (It’s like he says to Lisa in HUNGER: Death and War have always worked well together. **grin**)

Brenda: I know you write urban fantasy as well as YA, did you have to get into a different frame of mind to write YA? I have 16 and 17 year old sons, and sometimes it's like being in the midst of an alien drama.

JK: At first, I didn’t know whether the protagonist of HUNGER was going to be a teen or a little older. But when I finally “discovered” Lisa, everything just happened. I didn’t try to channel my inner teen as much as I remembered being in the eating-disorder mindset, because Lisa’s in the throes of the disease: so much of what she thinks about, and what she does, involves food. Writing HUNGER was very cathartic.

Brenda: I love the Post Mortem feature on your blog, and noticed you started it quite awhile before the release of Hunger. Have you had fun with Death interviewing other author's characters? I can't imagine he's not a huge hit with the girls, despite his brooding nature. (Read Post Mortem here.)

JK: Thanks again! I have to get back to doing the interviews; I got a little side-tracked over the past few months. It’s a blast getting to work with other authors. As for Death, well, the characters who aren’t terrified of him seem to like him. (He’s really not so bad, once you get past the whole Grim Reaper aspect.)

Brenda: This last question is off topic...I know you have two children, so one mom to another, what is the most surprising thing you have found about raising kids?

JK: How they listen to everything we say! I discovered that I talk back to drivers when I’m in my car when, one day after school the Tax Deductions were in the back seat, and when we were in traffic, Tax Deduction the Elder belted out, “COME ON, PERSON!!! DRIVE!!!” Heh. Whoops. (Of course, the listening goes only so far. When I tell the Tax Deductions to clean their rooms, suddenly they get so focused on whatever it is they’re in the middle of that they just don’t hear me. I suppose it’s selective hearing.)

Brenda: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, and for writing such a fun, but profound book. I think it will make a difference to many teens and their families.

JK: Thank you so much, Brenda! You have no idea how thrilling it is to read that. And thank you for taking the time not only to read and review HUNGER but also to come up with the interview questions.

THE REVIEW

Hunger
Author: Jackie Morse Kessler
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 180 pages
Publisher: Graphia
Released: October 18, 2010

Summary: Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

I asked to review Hunger, and received an digital copy from the publisher. I was intrigued with the premise of a 17 year old anorexic girl being given the mantle of a Horsemen of the Apocalypse as Famine. I truly hope that parents, friends and relatives of a loved one with an eating disorder will purchase this book. The author has captured the mind set of a young woman with such a poor self image that it brings her to the brink of death. Before she can take that final step, Death delivers a package to her in the guise of a delivery guy, and later appears to her as the lead singer of a grunge band. Former lead singer, I should say, since he committed suicide. Death is witty, hip and has brooding down to an art. He doesn't mince words with Lisa, the main character, and she proceeds to live her normal life, not giving up the dangerous eating and exercise habits, while testing out the powers bestowed on her as Famine.

I don't want to give spoilers because that ruins the book for the reader, but I love that the author doesn't end Hunger with any easy magical fixes. Life isn't easy, and Lisa learns that life and death is not the same for everyone. Sometimes we need to look outside ourselves and the voices that tell us our life sucks.

The writing in Hunger is teen friendly, which in my mind means that teens will identify with the thoughts of the characters in this book. I thought the parents were portrayed as loving but frustrated, as they try to understand what is going on with their daughter. Though there are important lessons experienced, this book is not a public service commercial or a lecture on eating disorders. Hunger is a novel that will appeal to teens and adult fans of YA, even if they have not experienced anorexia in their own lives. It's a mix of urban fantasy, teen romance and a tale of love and friendship.

Mom Notes: If you are a parent with kids, whether they are toddlers, teens or preteens, you should read Hunger. It gives the reader a true sense of what goes on in the mind of a teen with self image issues. ALL teens have these issues in varying degrees, whether their parents realize it or not. The best thing we can do for our children is to be prepared, listen and talk with them, not AT them. I would recommend Hunger for ages 13 and older.

Hunger is available on Amazon. You can also find out more about the series here: http://jackiemorsekessler.com/blog/

A portion of proceeds will be donated to the National Eating Disorders
Association.

NEXT IN THE SERIES
Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler will be released in April of 2011 from Harcourt Graphia.

Sixteen-year-old self-injurer Melissa Miller exchanges her razor blade for the sword of War, one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

A portion of proceeds from Rage will be donated to the organization To Write Love On Her Arms.

If you would like to keep up with contests for Jackie's books, and the interviews on Post Mortum visit the author's blog: http://jackiemorsekessler.com/blog/

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Male Goodness in Honor of Donna's Birthday

Today is Donna's Birthday. Donna who you ask? She is half of the brilliant author Moira Rogers who weaves tales of werewolves, magic and the supernaturaland. Bree, her partner in writing, asked her fans and friends to post pictures for her today. It just so happens that she loves the same men I do. Isn't that cool? But before I get to those pictures, I have one I took myself. Our town has a fall festival each year and this year it featured a lumberjack show. For those of who who have read Sanctuary's Price and Sanctuary Unbound, Red Rock Pass 3 & 4, you'll recall the awesome vampire Adam Dubois, a former lumberjack. I will never look at lumberjacks the same since reading those two stories:) I took this picture of a real lumberjack, showing off his stuff:


Now, I hear Donna loves these three actors, and I must say she has excellant taste. I will use ANY excuse to post pictures of these guys, but I think her birthday is a pretty dang good one. First we have Ryan Reynolds. Yeah, 'nuff said.

Next we have James McAvoy, whom I also love. He was SO good in Penelope, and in Wanted, plus he's Scottish, my friends... sigh.


Next we have Jeffrey Dean Morgan of Supernatural. Seriously though, he was awesome and sexy in The Losers. Awesome.

So, there we have today's Male Goodness in honor of Donna. I hope your birthday is very special. Eat some cake for me:) Give her a yell over at the Moira Rogers Blog here: http://moirarogers.com/blog/archives/2995

Happy Birthday!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Steampunk Pig

This is the second year that the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan has hosted an event called Art Prize. Art is placed all around the city-inside and outside-and the public votes on the pieces. The Top Ten is a huge honor because there are over 1,000 entries. This year, number nine, which in my humble opinion should have been number ONE, was The Steampig. Yes, my steampunk loving friends, I actually stood below a steampunk flying pig in all of it's awesome glory. This is the description of the pig from the Art Prize literature:

"a large three-dimensional multi-media sculpture of a Steam Operated Flying Airship...the logistics of building 'Parsifal' the SteamPig are just as daunting as they were for building Nessie. Think turn-of-the century industrial revolution in modern times... the flying machines of the early 1900s and an animal that shouldn't fly... A homage to the machinist mentality of the late 1800's and early 1900's, the steam engines that propelled the railroad and images from novels by authors Jules Verne and H.G. Wells."

In my excitement, I didn't think to have my family take a picture of me near Parsifal, but I did take pictures of him.








The detail was amazing as you can see in those last two pictures of his middle, and the bottom of each "leg". The size of the Steampig was truly unbelievable. The picture below has people in it, and you can get a better idea of his size. You can learn more about Parsival and his artists here: http://steampig.com/


There were a few other awesome pieces of art that I took pictures of to share.


This is Pamlico "The Mermaid" made by Gregory Lewis out of 87,000 toothpicks. She was truly amazing, and I loved her expression.

This piece is called "Rage Against The Dying Of The Light". The name was almost as awesome as the art which was created by Matt Large using welded steel rods and pipes.


This last picture is entitled Dragon stands 11 foot tall and 16 foot long. It is made completely from recycled materials, mostly old hot water tanks. The artist is Keith Coleman from Michigan. Again, it's a piece that was really hard to appreciate unless you could see it's immense size.



I think the best thing about Art Prize was the open free venue that allowed people from all walks of life and income level to enjoy and learn about art in so many great forms. Well, maybe that was the second best thing after Parsifal, the Steampig:)

~Brenda

Friday, October 8, 2010

Motor City Witch & the Urban Arcana series

Motor City Witch
Author: Cindy Spencer Pape
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 934 KB
Publisher: Carina Press
Released: 10/4/2010
Available from Amazon for the Kindle

SUMMARY: Once upon a time, Elise Sutton had been a powerful witch and paranormal enforcer. Once she’d been madly in love with Fae lord Aidan Greene. But when Aidan had considered his duties more important than their relationship, the love affair ended badly. When her daughter is kidnapped by a racial purity movement, Elise turns to Aidan for help. The icy fa├žade she had built around herself shatters at Aidan’s touch. Together they have to hunt through the human and faery worlds to find Dina and to discover whether or not they have any kind of chance at a happily ever after.

I asked to review both of the books in the Urban Arcana series because I'd heard good things about them, plus they take place in Michigan where I live. I don't live near Detroit, but it's the perfect setting for a paranormal romance or urban fantasy with it's mix of arts and entertainment vs. the poverty and violence.

I enjoyed both books immensely, though Motor City Witch was my favorite. I thought the author captured the passion between the two main characters much better in the second book, and the sexual element fit emotionally with their personalities. In the first book I thought the sex scenes were a little crude for lack of a better word, which for me, didn't mesh with the personalities of the couple featured.

Both Motor City Fae and Motor City Witch are fast paced urban fantasy/paranormal romances set in a society where the Fae exist in Underhill, a separate world/dimension. They use portals that take them between the two worlds. The political intrigue of the Fae becomes a problem in both worlds as a struggle for power drags humans, witches, and shifters into the mix. The author has created a fascinating world of magic and mayhem.

I loved the characters in both books, and quickly became attached to them as more and more was revealed. The author brings them alive for the reader, which makes the story more emotional and thrilling as we try to guess who the traitor is and what the outcome will be.

I highly recommended Motor City Fae and Motor City Witch to fans of paranormal romance and urban fantasy who enjoy action, adventure and sexy interludes.

You can learn more about Cindy's series here:
http://www.cindyspencerpape.com/UrbanArcana.html

You can find Cindy's books including the Urban Arcana series on Amazon for the Kindle here.

~Brenda

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Win a Copy of A Safe Harbor!

In September we reviewed A Safe Harbor and loved it. We also were able to review the author team that makes up Moira Rogers. You can read the interview here. To win a digital copy of A Safe Harbor comment on this post, and then cruise on over to the Moira Rogers website to enter more contests!


Win a copy of A Safe Harbor by Moira Rogers

A Safe HarborFind out how it all began...

During the bite of the Great Depression, sole female dominant Joan Fuller struggles against the rise of cruelty among her alpha counterparts. The men tolerate her interference--until she breaks from the pack and allies with a witch and a vampire. Now the Boston alpha intends to bring them all forcibly back into the fold--and teach her a lesson she may not survive.

Seamus Whelan and his werewolf bootleggers intend to retire from smuggling and savor their fortune, but first they must do a favor for an old friend: escort some female wolves to safety. An easy job, if their leader wasn't a prim ex-debutante with enough power to challenge Seamus himself. Chance makes them allies; powerful need makes them lovers.

Together, they have the opportunity to build a sanctuary for their kind, but first they must free themselves from Joan's past, and the powerful man who would see her destroyed.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy of A Safe Harbor!

This contest is a part of Moira Rogers' & Vivian Arend's Fall Frenzy Event. For your chance to win books, gift certificates, ereaders and more, visit http://www.moirarogers.com/contests/



~Brenda

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Interview With Author Bernita Harris

As soon as I finished Dark and Disorderly by Bernita Harris I searched out her website and emailed her to ask if I could do an interview. I loved her book so much, and the little things I noticed within the story had charmed me completely. The following is our interview.

Bernita: Brenda, you dear girl, thank you so much for having me visit and for taking the time to read and review Dark and Disorderly. These are really lovely questions!

Brenda: I loved Dark and Disorderly, so the first question I have to ask pertains to whether this will be a stand alone novel or will we be seeing more of the characters in a series?

Bernita: I'm delighted that you enjoyed D&D! This is a writer's true reward!
Yes, a sequel to D&D is in progress. Readers can expect more adventures with the paranormal; and Lillie has to figure out her attraction and conflicts with Johnny Thresher!

Brenda: I love how descriptive you are in your writing. I especially enjoyed the scenes in the cemetaries, and the garden. Did you choose to include these things because you enjoy them yourself, or was it something you added for other reasons? (I loved that Lillie took the piece of mint from the cemetary to transplant it.)

Bernita: I am so glad you liked those passages! Yes, I like cemeteries, older ones in particular, because it was a style at one time to inscribe details of people's lives on their tombstones, like relationships, causes of death, personal accomplishments--so one has stone-carved glimpses of a kind of social , personal and historical record--diptheria or other epidemics that have swept a settlement, ships that have gone down, things like that. Such cemeteries individualize the dead beyond the brief inscriptions popular today.

And I have an herb garden, nothing too exotic, just about two dozen of the regular kinds like basil, thyme, parsley, borage, chives, parsley, savory, etc. for cooking and salads, though some I grow, like lavender and sweet marjoram, for scent for potpourries and sachets.And some I grow just because!

I dry my own herbs. Sometimes I make herbal jellies. Rosemary, sage and mint jellies are particularly good. Herbal history is interesting, I find. While borage can add a cucumber flavor to salads, it was once called the Crusader's herb. A blue borage flower was added to a stirrup cup for those who rode off to war because it was thought to give courage.

Brenda: How difficult is it to write a story with a mystery? Do you find yourself having to go over details later to make sure the "clues" are in place where you want them to appear? Do you outline the entire plot ahead of time?

Bernita: Mystery always improves a story in my opinion! I'm half plotter and half panster. While I don't write a detailed outline, I must prepare, at least mentally, a general outline of the plot before I can begin a story. Sometimes, a story may take an unexpected direction, so a careful writer always has to check and double check details to make sure they are consistent. I always have a certain anxiety about whether I've made those clues and detail either too obscure or too obvious! One doesn't want to hit the reader over the head with a 2x4 as if to say "Did you get it, huh, huh?"--which is insulting to the reader and poor technique--and on the other hand, you don't want them to miss an important fact by being too subtle and so confuse readers. I always dither and fuss over that.

Brenda: I must say that you took sexual tension to a new level with Lillie and John. Were you tempted at any time to break character and just let them do something they might regret later?

Bernita: Indeed, I was tempted! Especially since explicit sexual content is very much in favor with some readers. However, I decided that it wouldn't be consistent, logical , or even particularly realistic in terms of Lillie's character and situation at this point in their relationship.

Brenda: I know you have written short stories, but I'm wondering if Dark and Disorderly was the first book you completed, or the first to be published? I love your style of writing and so hope you will have more for readers soon.

Bernita: D&D is my first novel to be published. I have the requisite two or three "trunk" novels. They acquired some interest but no sale.That interest, however, encouraged me to keep writing.

Brenda, thank you so very much! It's been a pleasure!

ABOUT BERNITA
My review of Dark and Disorderly is in the post before this one here. You can read more about Bernita on her website here: http://bernitaharris.blogspot.com/ . You can also find her on Facebook here.

Dark and Disorderly is available for the Kindle on Amazon.

~Brenda

Urban Fantasy Review With Bernita Harris

Dark and Disorderly
Author: Bernita Harris
Kindle Edition
File Size: 414 KB
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: 8/28/10
Available at Amazon

SUMMARY: Lillie St. Claire is a Talent, one of the rare few who can permanently dispatch the spirits of the dead that walk the earth. Her skills are in demand in a haunted country, where a plague of ghosts is becoming a civic nuisance. Those skills bring her into conflict with frightened citizens who view Talents as near-demons. Her husband comes to see her as a Freak; so when Nathan dies after a car crash, she is relieved to be free of his increasingly vicious presence. Lillie expects to be haunted by Nathan's ghost, but not to become Suspect #1 for her husband's murder and reanimation.

I asked to review Dark and Disorderly because I thought it sounded like a cross between horror and paranormal romance, which I really enjoy. I was delighted with the book from start to finish. The author has a wonderful way of describing the world she has created for the reader. When the main character is in her garden, or investigating a cemetery, I felt as if I were in that location. Don't get me wrong though, the author's descriptive words do not make this a soft or gentle read. Dark and Disorderly is fast paced mix of mystery, horror, romance and urban fantasy. The twists in the plot are superb and the discovery of what was really happening was paced perfectly.

The main character, Lillie, is stubborn, intelligent, and passionate. Do to her white hair that proclaims her a "born talent" she has been labeled a freak her entire life. She trusts her instincts, but nothing and no one else. I loved her character right from the start. Yes, her self esteem needs an extreme boost, but she does what she believes is right, despite knowing she will be persecuted for it.

John Thresher, is a psi-crime detective that has come to Lillie's town; his presence calms her while at the same time his personality annoys her. He's arrogant, brooding, and yet he's also protective and steady. John throws a wrench into Lillie's life that is unexpected and frustrating for the most part. I loved John for many reasons. First, he's a solid, observant man who always looks out for Lillie, even when he's frustrated with her. He almost always keeps his cool, and he's sexy as hell, especially when he makes small, but caring gestures such as running a bath for Lillie or making sure she eats.

Dark and Disorderly is a great read, and by the end of the book I desperately wanted to know what was next for Lillie. There is another reason the reader will be begging for the next book. The sexual tension between Lillie and John is so hot I thought my Kindle was going to burst in to flame. I kid you not. I understood Lillie not giving into John's advances, or at least not letting it get too far. I have always been annoyed in movies and books when the heroine is at Death's door and suddenly she decides it's time to try out a new man. Never mind that they just met, or that zombies may come upon them just as they take a tumble. It's refreshing to find a heroine who backs up and says "Whoa, wait a minute fella...". Sometimes we forget just how sexy it can be as a couple builds up to that special moment.

Dark and Disorderly is available at Amazon. You can also learn more about the author and her writing at her blog: http://bernitaharris.blogspot.com/