Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Kept (Blood Lust, novella 1) by Zoe Winters

As a cat therian (shifter), Greta's blood is already sought-after to enhance spells and potions, but due to a quirk of her birth, her blood is potent enough to kill for. For centuries cat therians have sought shelter with magic users, giving rise to tales of the cat as the witch's familiar. When her tribe plans to sacrifice her, Greta must ally herself with Dayne, the dangerous local sorcerer who is the only person strong enough to protect her.

Imogen's Review

As Greta approaches her 28th birthday, a milestone for therians (shifter), she discovers that she has been earmarked for sacrifice because of her special blood. She seeks protection from a powerful sorcerer, Dayne, who undertakes to keep her safe through to her birthday in exchange for samples of her valuable blood. Can Dayne be trusted, though? Is he working for the very people who want to sacrifice Greta, keeping her captive until he can deliver her to the sacrifice?

Zoe Winters spins an intriguing tale, full of romantic action and charm. I look forward to reading part two of this series, CLAIMED.

About the Author
Zoe Winters is an independent author of quirky paranormal romance. Her favorite colors are rainbow and clear.

Q&A with Zoe Winters

What/who was the inspiration behind Kept (Blood Lust, novella 1)?
Kept originally started out as a contest entry for a novella anthology Samhain was putting out. But it wasn't ready in time for the deadline. The original inspiration from my own brain was... "What if a witch's familiar wasn't really a cat, but a werecat?" And the plot sprang from there.

Do you have plans to release the novellas as an omnibus edition?
Actually yes, that's what Blood Lust is. I just approved the proofs for the print edition of Blood Lust which is Kept, Claimed, and Mated. I'll also be releasing it as a single ebook for those who want to just buy all three novellas together (and save a little money that way). It should be available for purchase in E and print in a few weeks.

If you could have anyone play the roles of Greta, Anthony and Dayne in a movie adaptation, who would you choose?
Oh man, I really have no idea. I don't really think that way when I'm writing.

Do you have any music in mind for a potential soundtrack for the movie?
Wow, this is probably the most boring I've ever been in an interview. LOL. I hate to say it, but I don't think that way either. I don't think I've ever sat and once thought about characters or music for a movie. I'm not saying it wouldn't be cool to see my stuff in movie form (provided they didn't completely ruin the story by changing everything like it's their own personal fanfiction, as Hollywood is prone to do with books). I don't even listen to music when I write. I've tried before, but it's too distracting. I can't have any sounds when I'm writing.

What's your favorite movie and book?
I don't watch a lot of movies. I don't have the attention span. Books... "A Hunger Like No Other" by Kresley Cole is one of my favorites. "Nice" by Jen Sacks is another. Nice is about this woman who doesn't like breaking up with men because she doesn't like hurting their feelings, so she kills them instead so she won't have to hurt their feelings, then she meets a hit man and they fall in love. It's very dark and satirical. Very funny even though it shouldn't be. And pretty true about some aspects of the female psyche. I've read it several times.

High heels or flats?
Heels for the way they make my legs look. Flats for comfort.

Does your husband enjoy reading your novels?
He does, but he pretends they aren't romance. :P

Team Edward, team Jacob or team Eric?
I haven't read past the first Twilight book so I don't know. Isn't Eric from True Blood/Southern Vampire Mysteries? If so, I vote for Eric. If Eric is a Twilight character, forget it. LOL.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you pick?
Southern California. But only if I had the power to teleport. I like being near my family.

Please tell us about your current projects.
Right now I'm working on the first full-length novel of the Preternaturals Series (The omnibus with Kept, Claimed, and Mated are considered book 1). The novel is called Save My Soul. It's about an incubus that has been cursed by a witch and has been trapped in this house for about fifty years. I'm hoping to release it by sometime this winter.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Island of Fog by Keith Robinson

Eight children on a foggy island begin to experience frightening physical trans-formations. Are they freaks of nature, or subjects of a dark, sinister experiment?

With its ever-present fog, the island is a gloomy, dismal place. But according to the adults, the rest of the world is long dead; the island is all that's left. So when Hal and Robbie discover that the fog pours out of a hole in the ground in the middle of the woods, naturally they want to block it up. Imagine life without fog!
However, a terrifying creature appears out of nowhere and chases them away. Then their attempt to leave the island on a raft is thwarted by a gigantic sea serpent.

But this just the beginning. Before long, the children begin to experience changes. It starts with an itchy rash, or a hairy knuckle, or a few sharp fangs, and soon develops into full-blown transformations that astound and terrify the children. Then, inexplicably, a stranger arrives on the island...

Imogen's Review
It's hard enough being twelve and dealing with the unavoidable changes starting to manifest as one slowly develops into adulthood. Imagine adding to these a sudden transformation into another being! This is what Hal and his seven friends face on the Island of Fog, a place where these eight friends have lived all their lives. Shrouded in a mysterious fog, this island is home to only these eight children and their parents. Hal and his friends are determined to find answers to explain their transformations and also the mysterious fog. Keith Robinson takes us on an intriguing journey with a chockfull of surprises on the way. Island of Fog is a page turner and I look forward to reading the sequel.

About the Author
Keith Robinson is an Englishman living in Georgia, USA. By day he's a self-employed website designer, a business he's owned and run since 1999. By night (or by day if he really doesn't feel like working) he's a fantasy and science fiction writer.
Island of Fog is a fantasy novel primarily for readers aged 9-12, but suitable for adults. The story is creepy and atmospheric, involving a group of children who live on a perpetually foggy island. They've never seen a blue sky or felt the warmth of the sun on their skin, and the adults tell them there's nothing left "Out There" beyond the fog; the world is dead following a catastrophic event. But when the children begin to experience strange and frightening physical changes, they start to wonder if they're part of some kind of scientific experiment...
Island of Fog is the first part of a trilogy, which continues with Labyrinth of Fire and concludes with Mountain of Whispers. However, the trilogy is just the start of the series; a fourth novel is planned for 2011.

Q&A with Keith Robinson
Who/what was the inspiration behind Island of Fog?
Back in 2002, almost a year after moving to the USA from England, it was an unusually foggy morning in February as I sat there trying to think of an idea for a short story. This depressing weather reminded me of back home! Fog seemed like a good atmospheric setting, and I suddenly wondered what it would be like if it were foggy all the time, and if a group of kids growing up in a small community had never seen a clear blue sky. This led to the idea of the kids being on an island, supposedly trapped because the world "Out There" beyond the fog was dead. I thought it would be neat if something weird started happening to the kids, perhaps physical mutations of some kind; maybe then they would start to question why they were there on the island. Were they part of an experiment? And if so, was the world "Out There" really dead after all? I thought the premise was creepy and I suddenly couldn't wait to have some of the kids building a raft to escape. The story easily expanded from a short story into a novel... and then a trilogy.

Who can you see playing Hal, Robbie, Abigail and Simone in a movie adaptation?
I always saw Hal as actor Haley Joel Osment as he was when he played the part in The Sixth Sense ("I see dead people"). The fact that the name Hal is similar to Haley is purely coincidental... or is it? Maybe there was something going on there subconsciously! I never saw anyone in particular playing the part of Robbie, but any tall, skinny, nerdy-looking actor would do. Miss Simone was very clear in my mind; she was always Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (of Femme Fatal; she also played the blue-skinned Mystique in the X-Men movies). Her character's name came from a movie called Simone, or S1m0ne, about a computer-generated actress. As for Abigail... I had no one in mind until recently, when I happened across a YouTube video of a very young lady singer/actress named Jackie Evancho, who I decided then and there was perfect for the role, especially as she could lend Abigail a characteristic faerie-like singing voice!

How did you decide on the transformations?
Some of the transformations were clear from the start. Without wanting to give away spoilers, Hal's alter-form was always in my mind, as was Robbie's and Abigail's, and Miss Simone's for that matter. I also knew what some of the other creatures would be, but hadn't assigned them to any particular character; that all kind of happened as the story evolved, so in some cases I was just as surprised as the reader to find out who was what!

How many books will there be in the series?
How long is a piece of string? Two-thirds of the way through writing Island of Fog, I decided this had to be a trilogy. But even though the trilogy is now complete, there's just way too much scope to call it a day, so the series will continue with as many standalone stories as I can muster without allowing things to grow stale. I expect Hal will be involved in every story, but I might switch out who he takes along with him on missions. It wouldn't be realistic to have his entire crowd of friends come along every time. Better to have a small group, for instance Hal, Abigail and Robbie in one story, then Hal, Emily and Dewey, and so on -- whoever seems appropriate for the story. This way, I can focus clearly on a small set of characters instead of spreading myself thinly over a crowd.

How many hours a day do you spend writing?
Not enough. I sometimes go for weeks without writing a single word. But I'm not the sort who writes for ten minutes at a time whenever possible. I prefer to write for at least two hours in one go, so I tend to choose a morning or afternoon when I know I have two or more hours ahead of me. When I'm getting stuck in, I try to write like this three or four days out of a week. That way, everything continues to bubble and boil noisily in my head, instead of cooling off and going cold, which is what happens if I don't write for weeks. My longest single writing session might last from 8am to around 3pm, almost non-stop. I typically write between 1500 and 5000 words per session.

Do you listen to music when you write?
Hardly ever. If I do, it has to be something without lyrics, usually something mellow and in the background. Lyrics throw me right off. Then there's the mood thing. If something slow and broody is playing, it's hard to write an action scene, and vice versa. I don't have the patience to set up my music beforehand to match the mood of what I'm about to write, so I just don't bother.

Name your favorite book and favorite movie.
One of my favorite books is The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I don't remember many other novels that made me marvel so much -- the solid writing, the premise of the story, the way the story unfolded, the intricacies of the mind-bending jumps in time told so clearly... and the overall sadness of Henry's life! The movie version is okay, but as movies go, pretty forgettable. Favorite movie? I can only go by impact at the time of first viewing, and for that I'd have to mention older movies like "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "Terminator 2"; both were amazing cinematic experiences at the time. Recently, favorite movies include "District 9" and "Avatar" (both with superb special effects and unique stories) and a number of the computer-animated movies, especially "Up" the recent "How to Train Your Dragon."

Has your daughter read all your books?
Nuh-uh. She's only six, and my books are for 9-12 years and up.

You run the Enid Blyton website, can you tell us a bit more about that?
EnidBlyton.net is not necessarily THE Enid Blyton website, just one of a few. Mine is a fansite, started in 2004 when I decided to revisit my childhood. I read and reviewed the children's mystery and adventure books that I grew up with, England's version of the Hardy Boys and Three Investigators. Enid Blyton (who died in 1968) remains one of the world's most popular children's authors, but is relatively unknown in the U.S. Her work has been translated into more languages than Shakespeare's, Stephen King's, and most other authors; she ranks in the top five behind Agatha Christie and a few others. Yet nobody I know here in Georgia, USA, has heard of her. I think my site was part of a yearning for my old homeland; it had been nearly four years since moving across the pond and I needed something English. My site grew quickly and these days nabs about 35,000 visits a month, and is among the top few at Google when you search "enid blyton." But I'm also the webmaster for the official EnidBlytonSociety.co.uk website, which contains a staggering amount of information about the author (all added by the co-owner of the Society using my specially-built content management system). And since I know the co-owner of the Society, who lives in Salisbury, England, I've held in my grubby hands Enid Blyton's actual handwritten notebook and various other rare or unique memorabilia. It's pretty amazing to glance through a notebook from the 1940s, where the famous author noted how much she sold a short story for that week!

What's next after this series?
I'm thinking about something totally different, perhaps resurrecting a novel I started years ago, or starting with something new. This won't be for self-publishing though; I'd like to run it by a few "traditional" publishers first. As I'm doing that, I'll return to writing the fourth Island of Fog book, probably starting around Christmas 2010, for publication during Summer 2011. Books 2 and 3 of the trilogy, Labyrinth of Fire and Mountain of Whispers, each took four months to write and two months to edit -- around 6-7 months in total. I expect Book 4 will be about the same. Hal's new life has only just begun. :-)


Monday, November 30, 2009

Starfire Angels by Melanie Nilles

They've been coming here for thousands of years, using Earth as a sanctuary to escape threats from their own kind. Mankind knows them as angels, and one of them left a child upon her death to be raised as a human. Raea is now a high school senior and her life as a human is about to end. The crystal shard she bears is not a pretty pendant; it's a collective of powerful entities who chose her as their Keeper, a protector of one of the four shards that power a machine capable of destroying whole worlds. Those who desire the Starfire's power have sent an agent to find her, but she's too busy evading a nosy reporter ready to exploit her secret and dating a hot new foreign student to notice. Nevermind learning what she really is. Only one person on Earth can help her, the last person she ever expected. But he's not from Earth. Life as a human would be so much easier.

Melanie's Website
Melanie's Fanpage

About the Author
Melanie Nilles grew up on a western North Dakota cattle ranch and farm. Along with her interest in horses, she always had a fascination with science fiction and fantasy. She currently resides in central North Dakota with her family, which includes her husband and kids, and two cats. Her published works include the STARFIRE ANGELS series and the LEGEND OF THE WHITE DRAGON epic. Besides writing, she also trains and shows her horse. For updates, visit her website at http://www.melanienilles.com/.

Kori's Review
This is a wonderful book for adults and young adults alike. What teen hasn't been through the does he/she like me and trying to fit in, and what adult can't vividly remember those feelings. This book is almost a corss between sci-fi and paranormal. The relationships between Raea and her aunt and between her and Josh are ones you can relate to easily. This is a great read and perhaps one that both a parent and child could read and talk about.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Reining In by Dawn Judd

After witnessing the murder of one of her dearest friends, Khalida finds herself caught between doing what she knows is right and letting go of her past. With the help of the Network, an organization created to keep her secrets buried, Khalida will battle enemies as old as time. But will the secrets of her past destroy everything she knows and loves? Soon, another friend is facing his death, and she will have to save him. Others will follow, and she will have to make the hardest decision of her life. There is only one way to save her friends from this enemy. As she races against time, Khalida will learn that sometimes your past comes back to haunt you, even when you are a vampire.

Dawn Judd Fanpage
Reining In Fanpage

About the Author
Dawn is the author of Reining In and the upcoming Finding Hope. Dawn was born and raised in South Dakota, where she met her husband, Jeremy. The two of them now live with their three daughters in Kansas. She enjoys all things creative; writing, drawing and photography are her favorites.

Kori's Review
I loved this book; that the lead was a female vampire. She is strong but there is also a vulnerability that you don't get to see in most vampires. The book draws you in. At one point I thought I knew what was going on and going to happen next. I was way off base and I love that even more. I hate when books become predictable. That does not happen with this book. I cannot wait for the sequel.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Learn Me Good by John Pearson

Jack Woodson was a thermal design engineer for four years until he was laid off from his job. Now, as a teacher, he faces new challenges. Conference calls have been replaced with parent conferences. Product testing has given way to standardized testing. Instead of business cards, Jack now passes out report cards. The only thing that hasn't changed noticeably is the maturity level of the people surrounding him all day. Learn Me Good is a hilarious first-person account, inspired by real life experiences. Through a series of emails to Fred Bommerson, his buddy who still works at Heat Pumps Unlimited, Jack chronicles a year-in-the-life of a brand new teacher. With subject lines such as "Irritable Vowel Syndrome," "In math class, no one can hear you scream," and "I love the smell of Lysol in the morning," Jack writes each email with a dash of sarcasm and plenty of irreverent wit.

Q&A with John Pearson
What prompted you to write this book?
I had gone to private school all my life and then worked in an isolated engineering desk job. I had led a VERY sheltered life, which became even more readily apparent after my first year of teaching. The things those kids said and did, the way some parents acted, etc -- I just HAD to put it down on paper.
Was this your first book?
Yes, Learn Me Good is my first, and so far, only, book. I have a lot of ideas rattling around inside my head, I've just proven to lack the motivation to take any of them much farther.
Do you ever wonder if any of your students will read the book some day and recognize themselves in your stories? I do wonder that sometimes, and then the cynical side of me wonders if SOME of my kids would be able to read the words even if they came across the book. However, I don't think anyone would be offended, as the stories are not mocking in nature.
Can we expect a sequel? I AM working on one, tentatively titled Learn Me Gooder, but then we fall into that whole "lack of motivation" thing I mentioned.
What are you working on right now?
I am on summer vacation, so I alternate between putting off writing, and spending WAY too much time on the internet.
Do you have a favorite book/author?
I have several. My 3 favorite books of all time are The Stand by Stephen King, Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. I would say King is probably my favorite writer.

Freado - Free Preview
John's Blog
John's Spreadshirt T-shirt Store

About the Author:
John Pearson has engineering degrees from Duke University and Texas A&M University. He worked as a project engineer in Dallas for four years before being laid off. He then joined the ranks of public school educators, teaching third-grade math and science.

Dawn's Review:
Having been a mother of three, a room parent, and a girl scout leader, I thought I had heard it all and seen it all when it came to the antics of small children. That thought couldn't have been farther from the truth. The comical tales described in the pages of this book had me literally laughing out loud. John keeps the whole thing light-hearted and fun, and his quick wit and roll-with-the-punches attitude only add to the reader's amusement. Teachers and parents, both, would enjoy Learn Me Good, all the while nodding their heads in agreement and understanding.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Color Me Grey by J.C. Phelps

HELP WANTED - Person wanted with specialized training. Exciting and highly paid position...
Meet Alexis Stanton, a 5'4" petite young woman with a yen for adventure. She grew up as a tomboy wishing she could have all the adventures boys could have. She has since decided that being a boy instead of a girl has it's advantages, but being a woman is much better. Raised in a family with money, she was able to pick and choose her education. She has been schooled in everything from being a lady to courses with Special Forces instructors. Her desire for adventure and her boredom with her current employment make her answer a strange 'HELP WANTED' ad. She finds that job she could "just die for"... and it looks like she just might!

ISBN: 978-0981769004

NewPub Binding website

About the Author:
J.C. Phelps has been writing since she can remember. She was told she could do anything she wanted to; choose any career. However, she learned at an early age that she couldn't do anything she wanted to. She has no idea how people can ski (water or snow). And, it's not just skiing, it's a great many athletic pursuits that she has NO ability in. At present, she is unable to name any sport she is any good at and she has even tried her hand at darts.
She could read music at an early age and took piano lessons regularly. Because of this, her grade school music teacher recruited her to play the French Horn in 5th grade. From what she's been told, the French Horn is apparently one of the hardest instruments to play. All J.C. knows about the French Horn is: Yes, it is an instrument. They are quite heavy and cumbersome. And, she does not know how to play one. Also, she absolutely should not sing. So, check NO next to the musical career option.
As she gets closer to middle-age... She won't admit that she's already there. She's found there are many many things she could never have been but continued with her writing through thick and thin.
One thing she thought she might do well was become a lawyer because she can talk and write. However, she rarely wins an argument. Therefore she chose to focus on the writing.

Dawn's Review:
This is an exciting story of a girl looking for adventure. When she applies for a mysterious job, she gets a little more adventure than she bargained for. I found this story exciting from beginning to end. The attention to detail was refreshing; not too wordy. I enjoyed tagging along on Alex's adventures and look forward to continuing them in Shades of Grey.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Broad Abroad in Thailand by Dodie Cross

A Broad Abroad in Thailand follows a newlywed expat as she tries to settle in to her new home and a life full of unforeseen challenges. Soon after her arrival in this exotic land, her problems begin as she tries to learn the subtleties of the eastern squat toilet. Then there s the near fatal auto accident on the deadly Sukhumvit Highway, and the final insult bladder surgery performed by an inscrutable Thai doctor who decides to restore her virginity, while an intolerant nurse is after her with a vengeance and an enema tube. Further complicating her life is the need to be medivac d back to the States after surgery, while her catheter tube sways in the breeze. As if that s not enough to slow down even the most determined woman, she also has to deal with her new husband s insatiable testosterone level a textbook case of sexual fixation. Interwoven throughout her day-to-day life is the undercurrent of absolute control and jealousy perpetrated by a most unlikely source: the boss's wife, Ms. Anorexia, who manipulates the wives of the employees with her need to control every aspect: from shopping, to entertainment, to friends. In the end, an unflagging sense of humor sees her through all obstacles, from the first pitfalls and pratfalls in a land whose people she has come to respect and admire, through times of seemingly insurmountable challenges.

ISBN-13: 978-1885614759

A Broad Abroad
Video Intro

About the Author:
Dodie Cross is a freelance writer and author of the memoir: A Broad Abroad IN THAILAND: An Expats Misadventures in the Land of Smiles. Her articles have appeared in the The Desert Sun, the Seattle Post Intelligencer, and as a guest columnist for the Lake Chelan Mirror in Washington State. Her articles have been published in the Monterey Bay Parents Magazine, The University of Texas Literary Magazine, RiverSedge, several expat e-zines, and many of her articles have been syndicated on writing websites on the internet. Dodie has traveled the world writing about life in foreign countries such as Iran (very foreign), Thailand (very lovely), as well as not-so-foreign places like New Orleans (very kinky), Orange County, California (very last week), and Lake Chelan, Washington (very old-world lovely).

Dawn's Review:
A Broad Abroad in Thailand was such an amusing story, and I could not put the book down until it was finished. Dodie can tell a story in such a way that you feel like you are right there with her. Despite her "misadventures", her descriptions of Thailand and its people made me want to book the next flight out so I could experience it myself. As other reviewers also stated, I was sad when the book was done, and can't wait to read about her other adventures. If you are looking for a fun read, you must get a copy of A Broad Abroad in Thailand.

This week's featured author: Susanne Lambdin

Susanne's love for Star Trek took her to Los Angles in the late '80s. She is best known for her 'based in part' contribut...