Tuesday, February 22, 2011

YA Review: Angelfire

Author: Courtney Allison Moulton
Young Adult Title
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Released: February 15, 2011

Summary: First there are nightmares. Every night Ellie is haunted by terrifying dreams of monstrous creatures that are hunting her, killing her. Then come the memories. When Ellie meets Will, she feels on the verge of remembering something just beyond her grasp. Only Will holds the key to Ellie's memories, whole lifetimes of them, and when she looks at him, she can no longer pretend anything was just a dream.

I asked to review Angelfire because I was fascinated by the blurb for the book. It's the first in a series but didn't have the feel of some "first" stories. The main characters, Ellie and Will, are complex and fascinating. Will is mysterious, protective, brooding, and sexy without meaning to be. His personality is calm and steadfast, but yet he is powerful and will stop at nothing to protect Ellie. She is a typical teenager with school pressures, relationship drama and parental struggles. Once she discovers what she has to fight to protect her world, those pressures don't seem so difficult. In some ways she reminds me of Buffy during the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer minus the snarky vampires. I really enjoyed the interaction between the characters.

Ellie and Will's relationship is complicated and the author made my heart go out to both of them as the story revealed more and more about their past. Issues of trust and honesty are explored, as well as a theme of doing what is right for the greater good rather than personal needs.

Angelfire is fast paced and full of kick butt action, romance, angst, mystery and suspense. I recommend it to fans of Melissa Marr, Maggie Stiefvater, Karen Kincy and Claudia Gray.

Mom notes: This book is for mature teens, 16 and older. Though there aren't any sex scenes there are references to sex and drinking. It fits with the context of the scenes and shows the life Ellie and her friends have as Seniors in high school, but I wouldn't recommend it for younger teens. Over all the story is one of making the right choices, and while there is a rough relationship between Ellie and her father, her mom is a good parent who's trying to understand her daughter. I really appreciated that they talked over things, even when Ellie couldn't confide the entire truth.

About the Author
Courtney Allison Moulton lives in Michigan, where she is a photographer and spends all her free time riding and showing horses. She has always loved reading about ancient mythologies, studying dead languages, and telling scary, romantic stories. Angelfire is her debut novel.

You can learn more about Courtney on her website:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tracey O'Hara Does It Again

Death's Sweet Embrace
A Dark Brethren Novel #2
Author: Tracey O'Hara
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Eos
Release Date: 1/25/2011

Summery: After centuries of secret conflict, humans and parahumans have reached an uneasy truce. But unspeakable evil now threatens the tenuous peace. Teenaged shapeshifters are being slaughtered by a sadistic serial killer who rips their still-beating hearts from their paralyzed bodies. A task force forms to halt the madness, including the vampiric Aeternus Antoinette Petrescu, as well as Kitt Jordan and Raven Matokwe, members of enemy Animalian tribes . . . and forbidden lovers. A centuries-old blood feud has divided their shapeshifting peoples, and if their passion is discovered it will doom them both. But past hostilities must be put aside, for the killer they seek is but the first sign of the all-consuming nightmare of The Dark Brethren.

I asked to review Death's Sweet Embrace because I had bought and reviewed the first book in the series, Night's Cold Kiss in August (review here) and wanted to continue the series. First, for fans of Antoinette, let me say that she's in this book kicking ass and helping out fellow team members with training, morale and yes, line dancing. She's awesome.

This second book in the series brings back a lot of the characters we met in the
first book, as more is discovered about the Dark Brethren. The plot revolves around finding a serial killer that appears to be connected to the The Dark Brethren in some way. I have to say that I did not see the identity of the killer coming until the author laid it out. No clue. The twists and turns in this part of the story are complex, but not confusing. The action keeps the story fast paced and on track.

The main characters in this story are Kitt Jordan and Raven Matokwe, past lovers with issues that were never resolved. One aspect I loved of Raven's character was his role as a father. We don't often get to see this with heroes in urban fantasy. Raven's interaction with his two teenage daughters is touching, and it helps define his character.

I felt the tone of Death's Sweet Embrace was different than the first book in the series, but that turned out to be a good thing. I loved both books, and appreciated that the author brought different issues, characters and mystery to this story. It was a fast paced, action filled read with sexy romance that was an added benefit but didn't dominate the story. It also revealed new characters and continued setting up the series, which is really cool.

If you are a fan of urban fantasy, or paranormal romance you'll love Death's Sweet Embrace. I also felt it could be a stand alone story for those that haven't read the first book.

You can visit Tracey at her website:

She's also at Supernatural Underground here:


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Interview With Shirin Dubbin

Dreams Dark Kiss is an amazing, unique novella that made me laugh, but at the same time made me think of experience in my life and how they shaped me. There are parts of this story that are dark and gritty; not for the faint of heart, but there is also romance and humor. It almost has a feel of a horror tale, but with the action and magic of an urban fantasy. The romance is what made me smile the most, and the quirky characters, whom I loved.

As soon as I finished reading Dreams Dark Kiss I emailed Shirin begging for an interview so I could pick her brain. She graciously agreed to answer my questions, which are below.

Brenda: I have to ask you first how and why you decided on A Hawaiian hero? I loved Keoni, especially his sense of humor and the banter between him and Ciaran. I think he might be the first Hawaiian hero I've run across in a book.

Shirin: Oh, I luv Keoni too. All the credit for his sense of humor and sexiness goes to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. =dreamy sigh= I’ve been hoping he’d do a romantic comedy for years. With nothing like that on the horizon I had to write my own version of him. The Hawaiian part (The Rock is of Samoan descent) came about when I envisioned Keoni as a surfer and knew he had to be from famous surfing waters.

Brenda: Mmm...I love Dwayne Johnson and yes, I did use this interview as an excuse to put a picture of him here for us. Dreams' Dark Kiss is such a unique story; a little bit horror, urban fantasy and some very steamy romance too. Did you have a certain genre in mind when you wrote the story, or did the words just flow that way?

Shirin: A few people have mentioned horror elements in Dreams’ Dark Kiss, which is hilarious because I am an absolute wuss when it comes to scary stuff. If you tried to touch me with the DVD for a horror movie I’d run screaming. =giggle=

Perhaps those dark moments came out of my desire to build real nightmares for my h/h to overcome (or maybe I’m as obliviously dark and twisty as my friends suggest). I’m not sure, but I did set out to straddle the line between urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Since then one of my favorite writers, Ilona Andrews, created the term romantic urban fantasy and I’ve adopted it for myself.

Brenda: Ilona is one of my favorite writers too:) There were some very cool side characters in Dreams' Dark Kiss, will you be writing any more stories in this world?

Shirin: I’m glad you liked the bachelor squad! Who’s your favorite?

Brenda: I loved them all, but I was pretty fascinated with Archer. Bossy, but damn, he sounds hot.

Shirin: Ah, a Lords of the Dreaming series? I’ve been meditating on a story for Jay but it hasn’t fully materialized yet. In the meantime, I’m writing an urban fantasy set in the same universe as Dreams’ Dark Kiss. It deals with the souls who slip through the psychopomp’s (soul conductors) fingers and remain in the waking world. Somebody has to clean up the mess and that’s when psychomancers (soul charmers) come to play. It’s a cool story. Think Supernatural meets Dreams’ Dark Kiss with hints of Ghost Busters. LOL. Or… Nah, that’s pretty much it.

Brenda: You're really an eclectic writer; graphic novels, screen plays, urban fantasy and you're a graphic designer too! Dang. Is there one of these you enjoy more than the others? I know for me, I write nonfiction to pay some of the bills, but love writing fiction. Will we be seeing more fiction from you?

Shirin: I’m addicted to storytelling and each of those is a form of it. Graphic Design tells stories in fonts and shapes, screenplays in moving images and sound, and so on. I’m happy when I’ve got a tale to tell so I adore them all. And I have news, my urban fantasy retelling of Goldilocks, CHAOS TRYST, is set to release from Carina Press in the fall. It’s romping action—featuring a chaos-magic Goldilocks and a Russian shape shifting bear.

What genres of fiction do you like writing best?

Brenda: I love paranormal romance and urban fantasy, and I can't imagine now having some type of magic or power in the stories I write. Plus, it's just so cool. Oooh, a shapeshifting bear. I'm so there...

I see from your website that you are a comic and graphic novel fan and writer. What movie made from a graphic novel are you looking forward to this year and why?

Shirin: I’m behind on which books are being adapted…but I can share my dream project. I’d luv to see HBO take on 100 Bullets by Eduardo Risso and Brian Azzarello. 100B is a grippingly original take on crime drama and HBO knows what to do with a series. Ooh, or a film version of Scalped by Jason Aaron, also because of it’s singularity (I think I just drooled a little bit.) ^_~

Brenda: It's okay to drool, I do it a lot:) Thanks for chatting with me.

About the book:
Dreams' Dark Kiss
Author: Shirin Dubbin
Publisher: Carina Press
Released: 12/20/2010
Available for the Kindle

They’ll come for her tonight…
The ankou. A legion of nightmares, fugitive from the Dreaming, have set their sights on Ciaran Letang. She is the key to their darkest purpose. But Ciaran has been used before, and she won’t let it happen again.

Keoni Maka patrols the dreamscape, keeping humankind safe. When he senses Ciaran’s distress, he offers to fight by her side—forever. She accepts, but she has vowed not to let a man invade her heart, not even this man.

Read an excerpt here: http://fan-fatale.com/2010/12/dreams-dark-kiss/

You can find Shirin here: http://fan-fatale.com/


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tortured Heroes & Steamy WIP

I've been working on a story that I had started a few months ago, but now I've decided to use it for a contest, which requires a HOT hero. Over the last year I think I've gotten pretty good at conveying sexual tension and romance in my writing. I can even make myself drool:) However, this will be the first steamy story I've worked on. Yes, folks I mean a story with sex in it. I know...it took a lot for me to even type the word just now. I know writers all have different ways to inspire themselves. I love reading for inspiration. I read all the time, before bed and in the morning especially. After deciding I was going to work on this story, I went on a Tortured Hero reading kick. The hero in my WIP is tortured, good looking, immortal and because of an event 150 years ago denies himself pleasure. He protects the weak, kills bad guys and maintains almost perfect hygiene. "What was that?" you ask? Yes, he has a phobia about not being clean. It happens. Whatever you do, don't laugh at him.

On to the Tortured Hero inspiration. First I started off with Kresley Cole's A Hunger Like No Other. This is Lachlain & Emmaline's story. Talk about tortured. Damn. Lachlain was imprisoned for over 100 years, burned, healed, then burned again over and over. He's a Scottish werewolf. "Nuff said.

Next we have Ecstasy Unveiled by Larissa Ione. This is Lore and Idessa's story, and they are both tortured souls. Lore has been and still is physically tortured by his master whenever he doesn't do his will. He's an assassin in servitude, and it sucks to say the least. Idessa isn't physically tortured, hers being more of an emotional turmoil. Wow, I loved this book. Emotionally gripping, action packed and steamy.

I had to read Gena Showalter's first Lords of the Underworld book again. These guys should be under tortured in the dictionary. Demons-- living INSIDE them. Yeah, that's rough. The Darkest Fire is the first book, and it's Maddox's story. I love Maddox with a passion. The man is so alpha male it should be tattooed on his chest. He's got it going on: protective, sexy, kick ass, and he's handy around the mansion.

During this reading marathon a copy of Carolyn Jewel's My Forbidden Desire arrived. I had forgotten that I won it on the Odd Shots blog. Wow, and what an addition to my tortured hero collection of books. Xia is tortured (of course), smart ass, kick ass and sexy. What a cool story, and great inspiration.

Does anyone else have a favorite tortured hero?