Book Review: “Strangers in the Land” by Stant Litore – Lizzy has a new favorite author

Lizzy’s review of Strangers in the Land by Stant Litore. Available in ebook format from: Amazon and Amazon UK. Paperback: AmazonAmazon UK and Barnes and Noble.

Saying Strangers in the Land is a zombie book is like saying that “Pride and Prejudice” is a romance novel instead of one of the most brilliant stories I’ve ever read.

Is Strangers in the Land that good? YES. Full disclosure: I was contacted by the author’s publicist to review this book, and I said sure! If I’d seen this on Amazon, would I have picked it up? Probably not, because I love my trashy romance novels. But, I’ve reviewed a few books for this publicist, and I know they’re always solid reads.

After I started reading this book, I realized the folly of my ways for not just innately KNOWING how good this book is. I wish Amazon could beam that information straight into my brain, because I took so much away from this book. It’ll stay with me for a very, very long time.

What makes this book brilliant? The characters. Their relationships. Stant’s ability to provide depth to both in a way that left me mesmerized and desperate for more. I wasn’t just emotionally invested in them, I was crying when the inevitable happened to those I fell in love with. His writing is flawless. By that, I mean, it doesn’t get in the way of the storytelling. It makes you want to read more, even when your husband gets home from work and is asking where dinner is. McDonalds, sweetie. Sorry.

The premise of Stant’s book is also intriguing. He provides a legitimate historical backdrop then tells a story about what might have really happened. In this case, the tale is set in ancient Israel. The twelve Hebrew tribes escaped Egypt and the desert and have been living in the Promised Land long enough to begin to lose their identity as one people. They’ve interbred with the heathens and also begun to lose some of their more godly ways. Stant provides the historical angle in a note at the beginning, explaining the biblical references and setting as well as the Hebrew customs for handling their dead. And then, the story begins.

The main character is Devora, a female (yes, female!) prophet who interprets visions from God. If you’re thinking, okay, no big deal, keep in mind that women in that day and age were bartered like cows. She’s recognized as God’s voice, and in the civilized south, she’s treated with reverence. She’s in her forties, wise, strong, and courageous but also haunted by dark events from her past. She wields her power as the first judge of Israel without hesitation or mercy. The zombies, however, are in the north, among the Hebrew tribes who have mostly lost their faith and godly ways. The northerners have basically turned into barbarians that barely recognize their own god. Devora has visions of the zombies destroying Israel. She must go to the north to teach the people how to kill zombies and to help reestablish law and order, before it’s too late.

One of the most intriguing relationships is that between her and Barak, a northern chieftain who is 80% certain god exists and 100% certain women are no better than cattle. One of his greatest lines is something to the effect that all of a man’s problems in the world are caused by his god and his woman. Watching him grapple with faith and the tradition of treating women like livestock is one of the best depictions of character development I’ve ever read. He’s confronted with a female prophet, one he can’t respect, but one he can’t turn away. What’s a manly northern chieftain to do, especially when his men see him treating a woman with – gasp! –  respect? How does he balance his place as a leader with his duty to a god that sent a woman to tell him what to do? It takes him awhile. He has to see Devora chop off a few zombie heads, before he realizes this is no ordinary woman.

And then there’s Zadok. Dear, sweet, dedicated Zadok. He’s a warrior assigned to protect Devora and is worthy of his own romance novel. His duty makes him do horrible things, like kill in cold blood. How he handles the soul-destroying duty and his unrequited love for Devora (who’s happily married to a wonderful man) made me cry long before the chapter where he had his “run.” Oh, he made my heart hurt!

I also love the evolution of the relationship between Devora and Hurriya, a heathen who collapses at Devora’s feet at the beginning of the story with her zombified newborn in her arms. Devora has the baby zombie killed in front of the new mother, which is a bit traumatizing. Even though she is a heathen, Hurriya is meant to be the next prophet to receive visions from God. She starts out as a vulnerable, suicidal, waif of a thing, probably the first heathen Devora’s ever really taken pity on. Hurriya accompanies Devora and Zadok on their journey north as their guide and slowly morphs into the new prophet, with Devora’s guidance and help. She also helps Devora realize the error of her own ways, in terms of helping her learn to respect the heathens and dealing with her dark past.

Some parts of the book disturbed me, not because they were bad, but because I really can’t imagine being a woman and living in a time and place where women were treated like these women were. It made me admire Devora and Hurriya even more. It also led me to realize that – had Stant chosen a male prophet to headline this book – it wouldn’t have been nearly as powerful.

So, no, this isn’t just a zombie book. It’s a book about the courageous depths of the human soul in the face of unspeakable evil. It’s about those who have the power to do good while knowing their chances of survival are small. It’s about people who are forced to overcome the obstacles within themselves in order to defeat the dangers that threaten to wipe out an entire country.

Yeah, it’s that good. And don’t worry, sweet Zadok, you can come live with me. 🙂

 About Stant

Born a farmer’s son in the Pacific Northwest, Stant Litore took the college road and eventually earned his PhD in English, but remains passionate for things that grow. He spent several years in a dim corner of a library, repairing bruised and battered books, before heading overseas to backpack through Europe. Haunted by the hunger and poverty he witnessed at home and abroad, he began spinning stories about the hungers that devour us and the hopes that preserve us. Today he lives in Colorado with his wife and their two daughters, writing about the restless dead and the restless living. He avoids certain parts of the mountains during the dark of the moon.

Contact Stant via his Twitter, website, Facebook or email (zombiebible@gmail.com)

Book Review: “A Hint of Murder” by Lia Fairchild – intriguing with awesome characters

Time for another review!  Wahoo! 

In Lia Fairchild’s “A Hint of Murder” anthology, the whodunit mystery is taken to a new level.  Fairchild manages suspense like a pro, revealing everything in a way that still left me guessing what exactly the outcome would be.  The stories are short but well-written and intriguing enough that I read all three in one sitting. The clues are all there, and there’s an AHA! moment when the outcome is revealed.  Even I couldn’t figure out who the killer was in two of the stories until the ending.  This, in my humble opinion, is the sign of a great mystery writer: someone who can lay all the cards on the table yet keep the reader guessing and – most importantly – reading.

The anthology consists of three short stories.  The first is about an author who descends into madness.  The second details killings at a hospital, where nearly everyone has a potential motivation to kill.  The third combines the seedy underworld with one of mankind’s oldest motivations to commit murder.  All three stories have red herrings among the suspects, people I really wanted to be the killers but who weren’t.

All three stories also share a common detective team that’s working the cases.  I thought this was a great idea, because there were characters I could take with me from story-to-story and learn more about while I met the flawed people and glimpsed the broken worlds of those involved in the murders.  The detectives, Frank and Lewis, were colorful and unique, and they didn’t fall prey to the stereotypical detectives I’ve read in other books.  I loved their exchanges and how Fairchild portrayed the connection they had from years of working together while maintaining each man’s unique perspectives.  I found myself grinning every time Frank came along in the story.

I have to say that what impressed me most was Fairchild’s ability to frame the events and the mindset of her characters without unnecessary prose.  It’s difficult to create a new world with new characters in a novel let alone in a short story and balance the need for both exposition and brevity.  I suspect Fairchild’s true gift is the economical use of effective words, especially in the creation of her characters.

And I loved her characters, all of them.  Fairchild could bring a character to life with one sentence in a way that made me smile.  Their motivations were unique, their backgrounds diverse and even their word choices in dialogue different.  Not all of them were honorable or decent, but I could connect to each of them.  Even better – I felt like I’d always known all of them, which is rare when I read a book.  There’s usually a cardboard character or two in most books I’ve read whose name I don’t bother to remember, because the character’s addition to the story felt forced or like an afterthought.  I didn’t have that sense in any of these stories. I left the stories feeling as if I’d learned something new about my neighbors of five years.

Aside from Frank, my favorite characters were Alicia – the author – and Bobby – the bouncer.  I was also rooting for Nicole – the crappy nurse – as well, I think because I wanted her to succeed when everyone else wrote her off.

All in all, I highly recommend this one.

Available as an anthology from: Amazon and Amazon UK.

Stories are also available individually from BN: The Writer, The Doctor, The Bouncer

About Lia [taken from her website]

“I am a native Californian who loves reading, writing, movies and anything else related to the arts. Writing is something I’ve thought about all my life, so the completion of my first novel, “In Search of Lucy” is truely satifisfying. I hold a B.A. degree in Journalism and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. My most enjoyable moments are spent with my family, traveling, spending time outdoors or simply laughing and being together.”

Contact Lia via her website, Facebook or Twitter!

 

Review: The Demonkeeper series by Royce Buckingham – Delightful chaos

I had the pleasure of reading all three books in the middle grade fantasy Demonkeeper series by Royce Buckingham this past weekend.  The first thing that came to mind when I was reading these books: Scooby Doo meets Ghostbusters.  The series as a whole is a light, entertaining adventure about a few teens who are charged with Demonkeeping, that is, corralling possessed objects and protecting both the humans from the demons and the demons themselves.  The demons are embodiments of chaos, and so they really like messing with humans and creating some sort of disorder, even if it’s as simple as a rug tripping someone.  This would be a great series for pre-teen and newly teenaged kids.

The first book, Demonkeeper, is about Nat, an apprenticed, seventeen-year-old Demonkeeper whose master disappears.  Nat is left with a house full of demons and must battle someone – the Thin Man – who is trying to free the most dangerous of the demons.  First I’ll say this: these aren’t fire and brimstone demons.  These demons come in all forms, from elementals (wind, fire, earth, water) to everyday furniture to sounds to little pet creatures that serve the Demonkeepers.  They’re a riot throughout the books.  A little spark shocks people, curtains fly, chewing gum sticks in people’s hair, and so on.  In the first installment, we meet Nat and Richie.  Nat is forced to care for the demons, thwart the bad guy and also adopts thirteen-year-old street urchin Richie [Shaggy, maybe?] as his apprentice.  We also meet Sandy, a nerdish teenager [think Thelma from Scooby Doo] who works in a library and ends up as Nat’s girlfriend. Poor Richie seems to get picked on by the demons, which is pretty funny throughout the series.

Available from: Amazon, Amazon UK, BN, and iTunes.

The second book, Demoneater, introduces my favorite character in all the books: the pretty hippy girl, Lilli [who reminded me of Daphne from Scooby Doo.] I loved how Buckingham described her and what she does.  She collects possessed art and keeps it in a trailer.  The art and colors are always changing, and the idea of colors being alive was really cool.  But, to the plot of this book: Nat is battling something called a Demoneater, which is exactly what it sounds like.  The Demoneater is running around killing and eating demons, rendering the world a much deader place without the possessed things out there.  As a last resort to save the demons and deprive the Demoneater from food, he unleashes all the demons in the house in order to save them from the Demoneater.  The kids defeat the Demoneater and are left with an entire city full of possessed things that they must now clean up.

Available from: Amazon and Amazon UK

Book three, Demonocity, is about their clean-up effort.  Nat is also trying to come to grips with what he learns about his parents death, because the elemental that killed them tries to track him down, too.  He feels like he’s failed at Demonkeeping, has a teen-life crisis and runs away for awhile, leaving Richie and the two girls (Sandy and Lilli) in charge of hunting down the demons.  At first, they don’t want to, because well, it’s a big job and their fearless leader, Nat, ran off.  But they end up stepping forward and helping the city by trapping the demons they can.  I liked watching Richie and Lilli grow in this book, as well as Nat.  The little demons have tons of surprises and help them save the day.  I felt like Nat could’ve been a little more developed in this installment, and he honestly falls for any girl that looks his way, which I found irritating, because I thought Lilli was perfect for him.  (Disclaimer: obviously, I look for the romance in every book I read LOL)  He ends up staying with Sandy, who was probably my least favorite character.

Available from: Amazon and Amazon UK.

About Royce Buckingham [Source: Amazon author’s page]

Royce Buckingham was born in Richland, Washington and grew up in the 70’s downriver from the Hanford nuclear plant. This might explain his mutated view of the world and provides the perfect setting for his book, The Dead Boys.

As a kid, Royce dreamed of making up fantasy stories. He loved 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Phantom Tollbooth and The Hobbit. He collected comic books, watched Jaws at nine years old, then Star Wars at eleven and Alien at thirteen. He was even a Dungeons & Dragons nerd and created his own imaginary worlds.

As an adult, Royce obtained an English degree from Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA and received his law degree from the University of Oregon, paving the way for a job as a prosecuting attorney. It was his work as a prosecutor and his love of fantasy that led him to write his first book, Demonkeeper.

Demonkeeper began as a short story inspired by a street kid Buckingham used to prosecute regularly in juvenile court. He was thirteen, had a green Mohawk, and Buckingham would see him downtown begging change. One day he disappeared, and nobody seemed to notice. Even his parents didn’t seem to know where he’d gone, or care. Buckingham imagined the chaos of street life as a monster that rose and ate him up while people weren’t paying attention, as it does with so many lost children. He wrote a screenplay from that story. The script evolved into a much more lighthearted and fun tale than the original short story, but the message remained–kids need stability, family and a home.

His longtime goal of being published became a reality after 13 years of writing in his spare time. In 2005, he hit a home run, selling his first book Demonkeeper to both Putnam and 20th Century Fox within a month of each other. Demonkeeper then hit the bestseller list in Germany. He now has five books to his credit and continues to write in his dwindling spare time.

Buckingham lives in Bellingham, WA with his beautiful wife, whom he met in the courtroom when she came to cover one of his criminal cases as a reporter. They now have two fabulous boys who help with his books and a huge black hound from the dog pound. Thankfully none have been eaten by demons…or goblins…or mutated trees.

Contact Royce via his website, Twitter or Facebook!

Book Review: thriller “Portrait of A Spy” by Daniel Silva is an intriguing, disturbing read

My book review for May: “Portrait of A Spy” by Daniel Silva.  Purchase from Amazon, Amazon UK, BN or iTunes!

I read the thriller “Portrait of A Spy” in a little over three days or so and ended up intrigued by Silva’s writing.  This tome is about Gabriel, a ‘retired’ Israeli intelligence agent-assassin who’s moved to a secluded area of England with his wife and works in his retirement to restore famous paintings.  When a rash of terrorist bombings occur in Europe, Gabriel finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and witnesses a horrific suicide bombing that makes him realize he can never truly retire from his past life.  Gabriel is thrust into the middle of the fight against terrorists that takes him all over the world and forces him to deal with shady people from his past.  I got the impression he knew going in that he’d get his butt kicked (and he does!) but did so because he ultimately believed that good must always triumph over the evils of this world.

The book is poignant and even more frightening by how realistic and plausible the fictional series of events seem.  Actually, it was disturbing in that regard, which means it was a darn good thriller!

People who read my reviews probably notice I don’t always stick to commentary on the story lines. I love to read for the adventure – but also to learn. When an author does something well, I’m just as excited about that as the story itself!

That said, what struck me about this book was Silva’s gift with prose.  I have to admit: not many people can write prose in a way that keeps my attention.  I prefer shorter novels with less blocks of writing and more action or dialogue to carry the story forward. I wasn’t sure what to expect with Silva – who is a new author to me, even though he’s well established.  I found myself intrigued by his writing style, which can be described as almost conversational in style.  I think this is what made his prose so interesting to read. It wasn’t like a lecture, which is what most prosy books rely on to convey a great amount of background and description.  Silva’s writing was more like a light-hearted tour guide who made some droll tour interesting.  Silva’s writing made me want to read more about the complex – and realistic – world he’d created. Which is good, because I found out there’s a sequel to this book when I visited Silva’s website!

I also enjoyed Silva’s strong characters, though it took me awhile to like Gabriel.  For reasons that are obvious, Gabriel’s character was reserved and distant, and I felt like I  got to know everyone else around him before I truly understood Gabriel.  I ended up admiring his dedication to a cause that he knew was likely to get him killed and involved him in a world he left behind.  He ended up being the kind of guy I hope is protecting the world from its evils.

Purchase from AmazonAmazon UKBN or iTunes!

About Daniel Silva (taken from his website)

Silva knew from a very early age that he wanted to become a writer, but his first profession would be journalism. Born in Michigan, raised and educated in California, he was pursuing a master’s degree in international relations when he received a temporary job offer from United Press International to help cover the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco. Later that year Silva abandoned his studies and joined UPI fulltime, working first in San Francisco, then on the foreign desk in Washington, and finally as Middle East correspondent in Cairo and the Persian Gulf. In 1987, while covering the Iran-Iraq war, he met NBC Today National Correspondent Jamie Gangel and they were married later that year. Silva returned to Washington and went to work for CNN and became Executive Producer of its talk show unit including shows like Crossfire, Capital Gang and Reliable Sources.

In 1995 he confessed to Jamie that his true ambition was to be a novelist. With her support and encouragement he secretly began work on the manuscript that would eventually become the instant bestseller The Unlikely Spy. He left CNN in 1997 after the book’s successful publication and began writing full time. Since then all of Silva’s books have been New York Times and international bestsellers. His books have been translated in to more than 30 languages and are published around the world. He is currently at work on a new novel and warmly thanks all those friends and loyal readers who have helped to make his books such an amazing success.

Contact Daniel through his Facebook, Twitter or website.

Book Review: “Eyes of Justice” by Lis Wiehl – an exciting and addicting read

My goal this year has been to read and review a book a month.  I started with RaeAnne Thayne’s latest romance in March.  For April, I read Lis Wiehl’s (with April Henry) latest, “Eyes of Justice.” Available from: Amazon, Amazon UK, BN, or iTunes

Eyes of Justice” is a thriller mystery about three friends: a crime reporter, FBI agent and district attorney who work together in Portland, Oregon, to put bad people behind bars.  They call themselves the Triple Threat after the dessert they had the first time they met.  Only one of those bad people they helped put away is out for revenge.  In the first few pages, the trio of friends turns into a duo, and the two friends remaining are left trying to put their lives back together while helping find their dear friend’s killer.

From the onset, Wiehl gives us very strong female characters.  I don’t think that’s normal for a thriller, which still seems to be a pretty male-dense genre in terms of female leads.  It came as a surprise to me, and I was super-happy about it.  The story is straightforward and well told, with enough action to keep you engaged and guessing and enough downtime to make you really feel for the two friends who lost the third member of the Triple Threat.  I especially liked Nicole, the FBI agent, because of how she was willing to risk her career to find out who killed her friend.  She was tough, loyal and brave.  Allison, the district attorney, was more level-headed and also more prone to showing her emotion.  They made an awesome pair and were able to play off each others’ strengths and weaknesses.  Though I will admit, if I were ever in a gunfight, I’d want Nicole by my side, because she’s just that dedicated to her friends.

Also, when I met Ophelia – the sociopath private investigator roped into helping – I laughed long and hard.  Her character is a riot, because she really has trouble relating to normal humans but does try.  She reminded me of the character Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation.  She replaces the deceased friend as the third member in the Triple Threat by the end of the book, and I was pleased to see her character didn’t suddenly morph into something less abnormal.  She truly was an awesome part of the book.

This is a great read for those who have a few hours to spare and want to try out a new author and genre.  Wiehl’s writing is smooth and seamless, and she does a wonderful job creating characters I really would like to meet in real life.  My regular readers will know I read books with a huge heaping of ADD (meaning it takes me awhile because I’m so easily distracted.) “Eyes of Justice,” however, kept my attention all the way through.

Purchase from: Amazon, Amazon UK, BN, or iTunes

About Lis Wiehl

Lis Wiehl is a New York Times best-selling author, Harvard Law School graduate, and former federal prosecutor. A popular legal analyst and commentator for the Fox News Channel, Wiehl appears on The O’Reilly Factor and was co-host with Bill O’Reilly on the radio for seven years. Noted author Roald Dahl helped New York Times best-selling author April Henry take her first step as a writer. When April was eleven, she sent the famous children’s author a short story about a frog who loved peanut butter. He read it to an editor of an international children’s magazine, who then asked to publish it. April has since written several highly acclaimed mysteries and thrillers. Her books have been short-listed for the Agatha Award, the Anthony Award, and the Oregon Book Award, and translated into several languages. Two have been chosen for BookSense by the independent booksellers of America. April lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and daughter.

Contact Lis through her website, Facebook fan page or Twitter.

 

Book Review: “Woodrose Mountain” by RaeAnne Thayne is a charming, sweet read

I rarely accept requests for book reviews, but when RaeAnne Thayne‘s publicist approached me about reviewing an ARC, I checked out the blurb and thought – this sounds pretty cool. Woodrose Mountain is a contemporary romance, available from Amazon (Kindle), Amazon UK (paperback), and Barnes and Noble (Nook).

Woodrose Mountain is the story about Evie and Brodie, who are brought together by a horrific accident that leaves Brodie’s teenage daughter, Taryn, in a wheelchair.  Evie was once a physical therapist but left that world after her own tragedy – the loss of her adopted daughter, who was also severely disabled and who Evie ultimately couldn’t save.  Evie moved away from her rush-rush life in L.A. to an idyllic little town in the mountains of Colorado, where she took up beading.

Brodie, on the other hand, is the self-made wealthy man in town who often puts the locals on edge because he owns half the town and caters land developments more towards tourists than the people of Hope’s Crossing.  He’s got his own issues, from trying to manage his empire and teenage daughter, to his own learning disability and ADD, which have made him a rather rigid perfectionist.

The story is very much like the setting: charming and sweet.  Evie and Brodie slowly learn to tolerate each other as they take care of Taryn. Respect turns to love over several weeks, as Brodie sees Evie’s selfless dedication to his daughter, and Evie realizes there is a caring, warm father in the man most believe to be a distant dictator.  They start to work together and realize – hey, Evie/Brodie’s not that bad!

I could also relate to both characters: Evie, because I, too, left behind the big city to find peace, and Brodie, because I’m right there with him trying to grapple with the mental chaos of ADD.  Brodie’s daughter, Taryn, is well-portrayed as the injured teen with a secret.  I loved the character of Charles, who was willing to take the responsibility for the accident, even when it wasn’t entirely his fault.

All in all, this is a perfect book for Saturday afternoon reading.  RaeAnne’s writing is descriptive and perfectly paced, and her characters are all thoughtfully created.  I loved the descriptions of Hope’s Crossing, too, and the food.  She makes me want to visit for myself for some blackberry pie.

Interview with Teresa Edgerton, author of “Goblin Moon”

I featured Teresa’s book, “Goblin Moon,” on Friday and am happy to post her interview today.  In addition to re-publishing her backlist and writing new books, Teresa is also branching out into freelance developmental editing.  I think this is awesome; she obviously knows how to write a darn good book, and now, she’ll help other writers perfect their craft as well!  Brava, Teresa!  Way to live the guerrilla wordfare spirit!

 

Lizzy:  What do you wish you’d known starting out as an author that you know now?

Teresa: Actually, there is one big thing I am so glad I didn’t know, which was how long and
how hard it would be to write my first novel.  If I had known, I doubt I would have even begun.   I was very naïve about so many things, but on the whole that worked to my advantage.   I had some talent, and people were always telling me I ought to be a writer, but though I was always starting stories, I never made any serious effort to finish them. I thought that when I did, I would just sit down and write the story.  It would be as easy as
that.  And for a long time, at the end of each draft I’d look at all I had learned, and feel absolutely certain that the next draft would be the last one.  That’s what kept me going.

I wish I had known how passionate I would be about my writing.  That would have been
an encouraging thing to know.   I wish I had known enough to be a better writer — but I always wish that.   I want to go on improving forever.

Lizzy: What’s the most inspiring piece of feedback you’ve received from a reviewer/reader?

Teresa: Letters from teenage readers who identify with the characters, who feel they’ve gotten more out of my books than just a good story.

Lizzy:  You’ve written a million books whose rights have now reverted back to you.  Do you have any idea when you’re backlist will be up and available for readers.

Teresa: As of now, I have the rights to eight of my books, but I should have no trouble getting back the rights to the ninth.   Most of my books were written before ebooks were invented.  That’s one reason why I am reprinting Goblin Moon now.  I’m eager to introduce a  new generation of readers to this book, and I think it’s the right time to do it.  Readers are turning away from epic fantasy and are more adventurous than they were just a few years ago. But the books I wrote under the pseudonym Madeline Howard are technically still in print because they do exist as ebooks, and getting those rights back may be a challenge.  At this point I don’t  really care.  The books are available, and that’s enough for now.  There are so many other books I want to publish first.

My hope is that I can reissue a book every 6-9 months. I am resolved to see Hobgoblin Night published no later than this coming summer. I could release my books faster, but I have new books to write and publish, and I want to devote several months a year just to working on those. I am a perfectionist .  Or, less charitably, you might say that I am obsessive about getting everything exactly the way I want it.  

And I’m also doing freelance developmental editing, helping new writers to improve their books by working with them on the basics of plot, characterization, style, etc.  Even so, between new books and old books, I might be able to publish two novels a year. 

Lizzy: Do you have any plans for new books in the future?

Teresa: Absolutely.  I am entirely committed to finishing the last book in the Rune of Unmaking series. I hope to publish that one within the next twelve months  — maybe less. After that, I intend to write a sequel to The Queen’s Necklace.  I made a detailed outline for that one a long time ago, and now that the choice of what I will write and what I will see published is up to me, that’s what I want to write.  The Queen’s Necklace will be the third book of my backlist to be published, so that should work out just right for the sequel.

And I think there will be short fiction, too, some of it about familiar characters from the books.  Actually, I’ve been writing a lot of very short fiction, 75 words and 300 words long, for competitions on a website I help moderate.  I think some of those stories are worth
expanding, so maybe I will someday soon and collect them all in one volume.

Where to find Teresa:

Website

Facebook

Amazon Author profile

Book feature and giveaway: “The Gift” by Beverly Cialone

Remember how I mentioned there’s a new breed of indie: Traditionally pubbed with a backlist?  Welcome Beverly Cialone, author of today’s giveaway, The Gift. She told me I could feature any book in her backlist, and as soon as I read the description for The Gift, I knew that was the one!  Christmas and your own personal genie that you fall in love with?  SIGN ME UP!

Find The Gift on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes!

As always, to enter the giveaway: leave a comment here OR use one of the social media buttons following the article to share with your networks; OR retweet my tweet; OR comment, share, or like the post I put on FB; OR comment, share or 1+ the post I put on Google+!

Distraught over her parents’ death, Summer is depressed over having to spend Christmas alone. After receiving a strange package with the instructions
“DO NOT OPEN ‘TIL CHRISTMAS EVE”, her spirits lift somewhat. When she opens the package, she is surprised to discover that she has inherited a genie
named Adrian. What Adrian tells her, and what Adrian is capable of doing, is astounding, to say the least. In order for them to stay together, Summer must first declare her love for Adrian. Then, and only then, will he be able to reveal the secret that will enable them to truly be together forever. 

 

About Beverly: Beverly Cialone has been writing since junior high school. Her writing can be romantic and filled with fantasy or replete with the realism of gut-wrenching emotion. The author of several successful romance and erotica titles, she remains ever true to her passion of writing from the soul. Beverly lives in South Carolina with her fiance and enjoys spending time with her two sons and two adorable granddaughters.

 

 

Demon from the Dark by Kresley Cole

Review: Great main characters, interesting use of otherworldly settings, good-enough plot, non-offensive secondary characters. I chose this one in the same way I chose most of the books this summer/fall: while stuck at an airport traveling for work. If there had been another choice, I wouldn’t have picked this one due to the shallow, cookie cutter marketing on the back cover. It doesn’t hint at either the depth of the characters or provide the plot points that make this story unique and fun. It’s unusual for a back cover to do such disservice.

Heroine: Carrow is a wild-child, spunky, fearless, and a total rebel. This type of character can be an easy initial build but tough to maintain, especially when lazy writers are tempted to soften complicated character facets as the book progresses. Fortunately, the author didn’t take short cuts with this one and allowed the character to remain true to herself. As a witch of some sort, Carrow doesn’t really offer any fantastic abilities. (At least, they weren’t memorable to me.) It’s her mix of street sense, rebelliousness, and good-natured personality that draws and keeps the reader’s attention. She’s unapologetic about who she is but also a very good person at her core.

Hero: If Carrow bee-bops off the pages of the book, Malkom leaps out and knocks over your Christmas tree. He was a good guy who was screwed over and sentenced to solitary on some purgatorial type of dimension. He’s masculine, caveman-like and remains rough around the edges throughout the book while trying really hard to be less of an ape and more of the man he thinks his woman deserves. He doesn’t wake up one day and become a gentleman – again, the author didn’t cut corners with this character. It makes for some comical, well-developed scenes where the hero and heroine are truly confused by each other – and it’s as realistic as relationship between two people from two different worlds can be.

The plot is good enough. This is another of those books that’s a continuation of some bigger magical good vs. evil battle. There’s some uphill climb for the reader to understand what’s going on outside of the hero and heroine, but it’s not a heavy lift and is sprinkled throughout the book so as not to overwhelm. The secondary characters – many of whom have their own books in this series – are non-intrusive and non-offensive: developed enough not to draw your attention without stealing any scenes from the main characters. In general, the author does a good job of tying up loose ends and not releasing you into a new world without a GPS.

My only real disappointment with this book was towards the end. Many romantic fiction books follow a pattern of in-depth character interaction in the beginning and a rushed plot development in the second half. This book was no exception. I felt a little irked at being rushed through scenes to support the plot after enjoying my time getting to know the characters during the first half.

Carnal Sin by Allison Brennan

Review: This book reads like grandma’s attic: a lot of clutter, a lot of potential paths through the mess, a lot of shiny distractions along the way. The main characters (hero, heroine, villain) are underdeveloped, last minute additions to a clunky story that wasn’t written for them. The secondary characters are more interesting and human than the cardboard hero or the schizophrenic heroine.

Heroine: The heroine, Moira, was shallow and fickle despite a background that should’ve made her wiser and a little less intolerable. I wouldn’t want this gal as a friend. I think I know what the author was shooting for, and I’ve seen it done elsewhere successfully. Rather than a she-warrior who’s earned her way, been through really bad stuff and exhibits the traits one would expect (stubbornness, quick-learning, fiery), Moira ends up as appealing as a temperamental four-year-old determined to get her way who failed to learn that touching a hot stove will burn.

Hero: The hero, Rafe, is like the piece of treasure you went to granny’s attic to find but got so distracted with everything else, you forgot about it by the time you left. He’s introduced as a true leader – yet he doesn’t lead anyone or anything or even contribute to the story line. The author commits several writing sins, among them: telling instead of showing; not making the character human to the reader; failure to develop the character. This is particularly noticeable because everyone else has a personality. All the hero does is bitch, throw up token resistance that melts like invisible snow, and follow everyone around like a lapdog.

There’s no lust or emotion between the heroine and hero. Their relationship is told (not shown) throughout the book. The leap between what happened in their pre-book past and how they should be acting together is too much for the reader to make while trying to digest the multiple subplots that wander in and out of the story like lost sheep.

The plot could’ve been interesting, if it didn’t resemble a plate of spaghetti. The twist and turns and sudden realizations by the main characters appear out of nowhere, a sign of poor plot and subplot development. There was a mountain of potential in the villain – the demon Lust; however, she proved little more interesting than the hero.

In all fairness, the characters came from a previous installment in this series. I’m one of those who believes that – even if part of a larger series – each book should be able to stand on its own, or you’ll never draw in new readers. I was at the mercy of an airport when I grabbed this book, which meant no selection and no previous books from the series to provide background. It also means that, while this book sucked, the author made zillions off of other travelers in my shoes despite the poor tradecraft exhibited.

This is another example of how publishers are more interested in publishing a popular name than a quality product. Only an established writer could get a book published that espouses so many tradecraft violations that an editor should’ve laughed him/her out the door.

Synopsis: (From back of book) ” Santa Louisa is still reeling from the lethal rampage of the demon Envy, one of the Seven Deadly Sins released from Hell by black magic. The fiendish entity was finally trapped, but when more bodies bearing satanic marks surface in Los Angeles, demon hunter Moira O’Donnell fears the terror has only just begun.

Racing to L.A., Moira discovers that the City of Angels is fast becoming the demon Lust’s decadent playground. She suspects another coven is at work, aided indirectly by her diabolical mother, the powerful witch Fiona. But when Moira’s unwanted psychic powers intensify, she fears her connection to the underworld is putting everyone she cares about in grave danger.

As supernatural war erupts, Moira and smoldering, seductive Rafe Cooper are caught in the crossfire. Cornered by mortal and unearthly enemies, they must master all their own powers to survive—and to understand if the intensely passionate feelings that bind them are Lust’s demon magic or true desire.” © 2010 by Allison Brennan