Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Guest Post and Giveaway: Herbology 101 with author Hailey Edwards


     While writing A Feast of Souls, I researched herb lore because the heroine, Mana, is a spirit walker. In the Araneae world, that makes her a spiritual leader for her clan, one who can walk in between worlds and aid in healing from the spiritual plane. Mana also studies herbology. During the course of the book, she mentions making a poultice to draw infection from a sword wound.
     A poultice, or cataplasm, is a soft mass (made from bread, meal, or clay and medicated with herbs) spread on fabric and heated before being applied to sores or cuts. They are used to draw out infection, treat boils and abscesses or to cure itchy rashes.

     Here are a few cool facts about poultices:
1.      Poultices can also be used to remove stains on porous materials, such as granite and marble countertops and floors.
             2.      Because they ease inflammation, poultices are commonly used on horses.
             3.      Applications for poultices are only limited by their ingredients.

     So my question is this—have you ever tried a home remedy or herbal cure? If so, did it work for you? Leave a comment to let me know and you’ll be entered to win your choice of title from my backlist in any digital format and an Araneae swag pack. Contest is open internationally.

A Feast of Souls Excerpt

     Tonight we fought for our freedom. If we lost…I wanted to know this male’s kiss.

     Vaughn cleared his throat. “We could make up for lost time.”

     “You’d do that, for me?” My smile was impossible to stop. I should be afraid—of him, of this night, of the outcome of two bound prisoners against a score of Theridiidae. “How kind you are.”

     But I wasn’t afraid. Vaughn’s presence enveloped me, kept me safe against all odds. My skin tightened and my head ached as I was forced to consider perhaps it had never been him I feared, but his effect on me. Tradition demanded I save myself for my soul mate. My heart, well, it was less inclined to wait. With no visible aura and no possible future, I gave myself to this moment.

     Vaughn closed the distance between us. “This is not the first kiss you deserve.”

     “Who said this was my first?” I was a warm-blooded female and males had interested me.

     His brow furrowed. “You’re Salticidae.”

     “I am.” I wished my hands were free to shape his broad shoulders. “I’m also waiting.”

     “Then we’re even.” His head lowered. Our breaths mingled. “I’ve waited for this.”

     Surprise parted my lips, and he claimed my mouth with hunger that sank into my bones. One brush of his lips and I was lost. His tongue traced the entrance to my mouth, seeking permission I granted by inclining my head. Desire fogged my mind, the low rumble in the back of his throat making tension coil low in my stomach. Our bodies pressed so close, I realized how well we fit.

     The thrust and glide of Vaughn’s tongue mirrored the erotic turn of my thoughts. No. I could not indulge in this male when I had one of my own somewhere. When the gods brought my soul mate to me, I would not go to him sullied or disgraced for being so weak I gave away my virtue.

     Suddenly the bite of rope on my wrists was a welcome reminder of our circumstances. Over the pounding of my heart, I heard his raw breaths and saw wildness glint in his eyes. I withdrew.

     If our display hadn’t earned us the full attention of our guards, I might have considered a roll in the snow to cool the heat making it hard for me to breathe. Gods’ web he had my mind dazed.

 ****This post contains general information about medical conditions and treatments.
The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such. Click for complete disclaimer.****
About the Author:
Born in the Deep South, Hailey is a lifelong resident of Alabama. Her husband works for the local sheriff’s department and her daughter is counting down the days until she’s old enough to audition for American Idol. Her doxie, Black Ilex, helps Hailey write by snoozing in his recliner in her office.
Her desire to explore without leaving the comforts of home fueled her love of reading and writing. Whenever the itch for adventure strikes, Hailey can be found with her nose glued to her Kindle’s screen or squinting at her monitor as she writes her next happily-ever-after.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Review: A Feast of Souls: Araneae Nation, Book 2 by Hailey Edwards

Born with the ability to communicate with the dead, few things take Mana by surprise. But when a canis lopes into her life, announcing himself as the long-dead father of a childhood friend, she’s shocked. To make matters worse, he has a dire message that she alone can deliver.

Now Mana must face Vaughn, the male who inspired one too many girlish fantasies, and impart the spirit’s message—without acknowledging her source—so the soul can be laid to rest.

With rumors of a burgeoning clan war setting his nerves on edge, the last thing Vaughn needs is for an innocent to get caught in the crosshairs. But the woman he remembers as an awkward girl refuses to leave his side until he’s heard her out. That’s not the only change in her that calls to him. Her kindness soothes his battle-scarred soul—and he craves her in ways a warrior shouldn’t.

When they are both captured, they learn of an even greater threat. The plague devastating the southlands has come to his clan home. And his best—and only—chance to keep his people alive is the female who walks among the dead.

Product Warnings
This book contains one fierce hero with a nose for danger, one stubborn heroine who smells like trouble, and one wolfish spirit who makes most relationships with the in-laws seem downright tame. Fur, fangs and some biting should be expected. But never fear, the hero has a sword, and he knows how to use it.

Publication Date: December18, 2012
Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Source: Thanks so much to Hailey Edwards for providing me with a review copy!

Ah! Ok, it was predetermined that I would like this book. As the second book in this series it lived up to my expectations and then some. Sometimes it's hard to adjust to new main characters in a series when you've gotten attached the ones from previous books, but this book has no problems there.

Book 1, A Hint of Frost (my review), centers around Rhys and Lourdes. A Feast of Souls focuses on Rhys's brother Vaughn *gazes off dreamily* I can't say how excited I was that Vaughn was the 'hero' in this book. Even though he wasn't in the first book a whole lot, he stood out as an interesting and complex character. He doesn't disappoint at all. He has to be tough and violent at times, but I love that his one soft spot, his achilles heel, is Mana. Gah! I loved them in this book so much!

One thing I have to say I admire about Mana is that unlike a lot of female characters in romance novels she is really honest with herself about her feelings for Vaughn. She has the inner turmoil of being attracted to him but thinking he's not right for her, without pushing him away. That drives me crazy in books when the girl will be over the top against being with this or that person. Mana can't keep Vaughn at a distance no matter what her head tells her because she is in tune to what her heart is saying.

I think I probably mentioned this in my review of the first book of this series, but I was so impressed by this fact again in Book 2. Hailey Edwards has this amazing gift of writing Romance that is gripping, tension-filled and *way* sexy . . . without being smutty. Plus, the Fantasy element of the novel doesn't take a backseat to all the steamy stuff. The story is an integral part of the characters and their relationships.

If you haven't read anything of Hailey's, you are missing out. She is an amazing author and has a true gift for this genre. An author to keep your eyes on, for sure!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tour Review: Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.

It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").

But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be

Publication Date: November 13, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Source: Thanks to the Souther Book Bloggers for allowing me to be a part of this book tour!

The only way I can describe this book is: Adorable. It is simply sweet and scrumptiously adorable. I had a good idea of where the book was going, but there are enough little twists to keep you feeling satisfied with the story.

This book has one of my favorite personality combinations to read: uptight, rule-folllower type of girl and the free-spirited, life-loving dude that inspires her to just be herself. Julia and Jason's relationship is so sweet and progresses so honestly throughout the book. I also loved how Jason isn't exactly what he appears to be on the outside. He can be really deep and considerate and sweet. I keep using that word, but if you read the book you'll see why :)

If you love contemporary fiction that keeps you hooked in, but the subject matter isn't too dark then this is the perfect book to read. It's a quick book to go through, but leaves you feeling warm and happy with how it ends. A good weekend type of book to read :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tour Review: The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.

And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.

Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure
Source: Thanks to Southern Book Bloggers for letting me be a part of this tour!

I was so excited to read this book because it sounded so original in comparison to a lot of the things I've been reading lately. Not to say that being original automatically makes something better, of course, but I was really eager to get started.

I have to say I wasn't completely sold at the beginning, but the characters really pull this story along and make it into something really special. I loved that Ananna is an independent chick. She's a seriously skilled pirate, and she can push past her fear. I think those are admirable qualities in a female main character. Plus, she has those traits while still maintaining her emotions and the things that make her feminine as well. I think that's a hard balance to strike.

Another thing I really loved about The Assassin's Curse is that Ananna and Naji's relationship is so very subtle. I'm all about a deep, angsty love story, but this book really proves that it's not necessary to still be wrapped up in the interaction between the characters. Ananna builds a wary friendship with Naji after he tries to kill her, and they end up with their futures bound up together. Their journey to break this bond and be rid of each other is the very thing that begins to bring them together.

I think this book sets the stage for a wonderful new series, and I'm really looking forward to the next book.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Review: Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin

It’s been over six months since the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. Alex and Darla have been staying with Alex’s relatives, trying to cope with the new reality of the primitive world so vividly portrayed in Ashfall, the first book in this series. It’s also been six months of waiting for Alex’s parents to return from Iowa. Alex and Darla decide they can wait no longer and must retrace their journey into Iowa to find and bring back Alex’s parents to the tenuous safety of Illinois. But the landscape they cross is even more perilous than before, with life-and-death battles for food and power between the remaining communities. When the unthinkable happens, Alex must find new reserves of strength and determination to survive.

Publication Date: October 14, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Post Apocalyptic, Adventure
Source: Thanks so much to Tanglewood Press for making this title available through Netgalley!

First off, what do you think of that cover? Amazing, yes? I like it even more after finishing this book. I almost had a heart attack when I saw this on Netgalley because I loved the first one so much.  The awesome male POV and the way that I really felt the cold and the hunger right along with Alex and Darla carried into this second novel as well.

In Ashfall Alex is finding his way in the new world after the eruption.  He's still figuring things out.  In Ashen Winter they've been living this hard life a bit longer and you can really notice the changes in Alex from one book to the next. 

As would be expected after an apocalyptic event there are groups struggling against each other for survival. Trusting somebody means putting your life in their hands and most of the people Alex runs into aren't the type that you want putting their hands on you.  Most groups and communites of survivors aren't friendly to outsiders, but other gangs of people are just plain criminal, preying off of anybody weaker.  And you better not trust in the Government either because they sure as heck don't have your best interest at heart in this case.

It's these human interactions that cause most of the problems for Alex and Darla as they look for Alex's parents.  Hunger, cold, fatigue.  All a factor, but those play second string to the crazy-ass people dominating  the world.  I would probably end up buried under a pile of snow and dead within days of something like this happening :) Luckily the characters in this book aren't such horrible wimps!

I felt like Alex was really just taking hit after hit in Ashen Winter. Talk about some bad freaking luck. I think it really proved his character and what he's willing to go through for the people he loves.

A ton of great action and tension throughout this one. I love being immersed in this world and was sad to reach the end. The mark of a great book!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Author Interview with J. Gabriel Gates

I am thrilled to have J. Gabriel Gates here for an interview today! I recently read his newest novel Blood Zero Sky (my Review), and it was amazing. He's a great author, and I loved his answers to all my questions. But he'd be a great author even if I hated his answers :)
Click the links to find my reviews for J's other books.

Q. As you may have noticed from my review, I really loved Blood Zero Sky. What inspired the world and characters in this book?
A. Thanks, I’m really glad you enjoyed it.  I wrote the original draft of the book back in 2005, and basically I wrote it because I was looking around at some of the things that were happening politically and sociologically and I found them pretty concerning and infuriating, so I wanted to write a book to show where the path we were on might lead.  As for the characters, they came from different sparks of inspiration.  The rebel leader, Ethan, came from reading books about the founding fathers and the American Revolutionary War.  May was partly inspired by a book I read called Stone Butch Blues by a wonderful writer named Leslie Feinberg.  The protagonist of that story is a gay woman trying to make her way in a very hostile environment—as a factory worker in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s.  When I thought about it, there were some major parallels with May’s situation, as a strong, gay female protagonist trying to fake her way through a world that is hostile to her most authentic self.
Q. How do you feel about the comparisons made between your novel and George Orwell's 1984?
A. Well, I’m flattered by them.  It’s always nice to be compared to a classic.  I think when you do dystopian fiction really well, it really infiltrates a reader’s mind and even the lexicon of a society.  When people talk about the government overreaching its bounds and watching you in creepy ways—like the recent case where a federal court ruled the government can use your cellphone records to track your movements without a warrant, for example—people still shake their heads and say: “big brother.”  It creates a short-hand so that people can express their feelings about what’s happening around them.  I’d love it if next time the government funds some 0% loan allowing a too-big-to-fail company to gobble up one of its competitors, or when private military contractors start flying drones over U.S. airspace to spy on Americans, people would say: Here it is again, Blood Zero Sky.  Books like mine and 1984 create a shared experience that people can draw from to comment on the world around them, and that’s very important, especially in our age of partisan corporate media and vitriolic, polarizing discourse.
Q. What would you say to people that might say the underlying idea in Blood Zero Sky is too far-fetched or a complete impossibility in our own world?
A. I would suggest that they haven’t been paying attention.    Look at the Citizens United supreme court decision, opening the floodgates to allow corporate interests to buy elections.  Look at the political pressure to privatize every corner of the government, from charter schools, to the correctional corporations that run our prisons, to military contractors that continue to take on increasingly large roles in our national defense.  Look at the bailout of the banks, where hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money was given away, with very few conditions, to the same crooked banks that sold bad mortgages to homeowners, packaged them as investments, sold them to individual pension funds, retirement accounts, college funds, etc. as grade A investments, then bet against them, wiping out the life’s savings of millions of people, while they themselves walked away with millions in bonuses—and none of them went to jail, because all the regulators are former buddies of theirs from Goldman Sachs.  Only 6 companies control 90% of the media in the U.S., down 40% since 1990.  I could go on and on, but those who refuse to see the problem will still refuse to see it.

Q. In Blood Zero Sky there are individuals within The Company that could be considered the villains of the novel, but I found The Company's all-powerful grasp on every inch of the people's lives to be sinister on another level. Was it more difficult to characterize The Company as the nemesis of humanity as opposed to a specific person?
 A. I’m glad you picked up on that.  The villain in this book, really, is the corporate system.  Inside a corporation, individual morality fades a bit.  People can do something bad and say “my boss told me to do it.”  Or the boss can say: “I was just doing everything I could to make money within the law. (Of course, corporations now write our laws…) It’s my duty to the shareholders.” The premise is that corporations are basically engines of greed, designed to do one thing: make money.  Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that.  Corporations are useful, and greed is useful, too—it leads to productivity.  The problem is that we’ve allowed these mindless engines of greed to control our government and write our laws.  That’s the problem.  Sharks are insatiable carnivores, too, and they’re beautiful creatures—you just wouldn’t hire one to be the lifeguard at a kiddie pool.  In the same way, corporations should not run our government. 
Q. I really liked May Fields as the main character and found her to be very relateable. Were you concerned that readers would have a hard time connecting with a lesbian MC? How important was it to you that she stay true to how you originally pictured her?
 A. It’s great that you liked her; not all reviewers have.  She’s a very unapologetic character; she’s strong, sometimes mean, and often confused as she tries to sort out the truth of the world around her.  She has this “I don’t give a damn if you like me or not” attitude, and I guess I share her attitude when it comes to readers liking her character.  I hope people will like her.  I like her. And I was genuinely surprised that some reviewers didn’t relate to her very well. But if you’re writing well, characters really take on their own being.  I couldn’t change the way May is any more than I could train my dog to meow. 

Although she is a lesbian, I don’t see sexual preference as her defining trait— or any other person’s defining trait, for that matter.  She’s just a human being trying to understand the world and her place it in.  The choice of whether or not to make the effort to understand May falls to the reader; she’s too proud to go begging for their adoration.  You just have to either accept her, or not.
Q. Is this the last we will see of the world in Blood Zero Sky?
 A. It probably is.  I have another idea for a sci-fi story that could be set in the same world as Blood Zero Sky, but a few decades later.  It’s possible that I may set it there—but it’s also possible that I might not.  Either way, I think May’s tale is finished.

Q. I'm always curious to know how writers do their writing thing.  Do you have a favorite place to do your writing? When are you most productive?
 I’m normally sitting on the couch in my living room.  I live on an old decommissioned golf course, so there are sliding doors right next to me that open out onto a pretty meadow with willow trees and a brook, with ducks and squirrels and woodchucks running around.  It’s a pretty peaceful way to work.
 I normally get up, have my breakfast, walk my dog, pour my coffee and write in the morning.  Then, I have lunch and do an afternoon session.  In between, I try to take care of the other requisite tasks of being an author, social media, correspondence, etc.  It’s a pretty darn good life! 
Q. Aside from writing really cool books, what do you enjoy doing?
A. I’m pretty active.  I like to go for runs, lift weights and go mountain biking.  I spend a lot of time with my family.  My dad and my grandparents live fairly nearby, so I spend a lot of time with them .  I’m pretty into the simple life—give me a nice run under a blue sky, some pizza and a glass of wine, some good conversation, a good book, and church on Sunday, and I’m a happy man.
J, thanks so much for your thoughtful answers. I hope eveyrone enjoys Blood Zero Sky as much as I did. I know I've already referenced it once or twice in regards to government :)
About J. Gabriel Gates:
Author J. Gabriel Gates is a native of Marshall, Michigan. The son of an English teacher, his passion for the written word began at a young age. During college, another passion – for performing – led him to get his B.A. degree in theater from Florida State University.

During his years in Los Angeles, he appeared in a dozen national TV commercials and penned several screenplays while laying the groundwork for his career as a novelist.

His novels include the YA fantasy books "Dark Territory: The Tracks, book 1," "Ghost Crown: The Tracks, Book 2," and horror novel "The Sleepwalkers." His dystopian sci-fi epic "Blood Zero Sky" is slated for release in October, 2012. (All are published by HCI Books.)

He currently lives in Southeast Michigan.
You can connect with J via his website, Twitter and Goodreads.

Blood Zero Sky will be available October 1, 2012 and is available for pre-order on Amazon.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Review: The Mephisto Kiss by Trinity Faegen

The eyes never lie. No one’s eyes are darker than Eryx. Not even the Devil’s.

When Jax and Sasha first see Jordan Ellis, they know she is no ordinary teenager. She’s the daughter of the President after all, but she’s also Anabo – a descendant of Eve.

What they don’t know is that Eryx plans to kidnap Jordan and force President Ellis to pledge his soul. If Eryx’s plot succeeds, the consequences would be catastrophic.

But the Mephisto brothers do know about Jordan’s secret identity. And for one of them, she could be the match that leads to their soul’s salvation.

Now it’s a desperate race against time to save Jordan and prevent Eryx’s haunting eyes from discovering her true identity.

Publication Date: September 25, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Source: I won this ARC via the cover reveal giveaway for the book :D

My initial reaction to having the book focus on a different Mephisto brother was mildly pouty, maybe a bit whiney as well.  I wanted my Jax...and Sasha too.  A great pair, and I loved their story in Mephisto Covenant (my review for that one here). It didn't take long for me to become just as wrapped up in one of the other brother's (I won't spill any secrets...I won't spill any secrets *bites lip*) relationship with Jordan.

The Mephisto brothers are a complicated and intriguing lot. They each have their own hangups and issues which makes for great reading. Getting into this second book gives an even greater look into the vast history spread out behind each of them. Their struggles, strengths and screaming good looks *ahem* showcase them as distinct individuals. And this is only Book two!

I have to say that I loved the character development of Eryx. He is black-as-coal evil, no light to be seen. But we get to see some deeper glimpses of him as character, for good or bad I won't say. But it's awesome! Jordan is a great character as well. She is totally different from Sasha, but because Jordan is Anabo too they share some of the same traits.

I stand by comparing Trinity's books to candy. You can't just have one piece of candy, just like you can't read only one chapter of this book. It gets into your system and makes you keep reading :) I believe I might become a bit repetitive, but everything I love in a good, angsty, paranormal romance is what this entire book is made of. There's nothing I don't like about it.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I'm Still Here :)

Well, hello there, everyone! I guess it's been a while.
A while since I've posted.
A while since I've read *gasp*
A while since I've felt like reading *even bigger gasp*
I have been on a much needed and slightly forced break from blogging and just reading in general.  It wasn't a conscious decision. It just happened naturally. With three young kids yelling and screaming around the house by day, I only have a few hours at night that are truly mine. With my oldest starting Kindergarten I've been bombarded by many fears and stresses and calendar-based thing-a-ma-bobs that I normally don't have to deal with. And reading kind of got pushed to the wayside.
Also, I've been devoting a larger portion of my free hours to writing. Which was actually one of my goals for this year :) I have a hard time scheduling regular time for writing...again with the schedule/calendar aversion here.
So here are some things I will confess :)
*I was majorly burned out on reading.
*I haven't cracked a book in 3 weeks (please, no punching me for that one)
*I've chain-watched so many episodes of Supernatural I forget Sam and Dean aren't real people
*I've logged an embarrassing amount of video game hours playing through an arsenal of games that were on my 'to play' list.
*I've co-written over 25,000 words in a novel over the last few months (slow and steady, right?)
*I've managed to detach the umbilical cord between myself and the computer
and last, but not least...
*I've found my desire to read again :)
My priorities as far as blogging have been rearranged into something that I find much more enjoyable. I'm not requesting any books because I don't like feeling obligated to read it if I hate it or don't have time. I'm also not accepting any requests...same reason.  I'm focusing on the books I've been dying to read, but have been back-burnered due to lack of time. And I'm not beating myself up if other things take over some of my reading time.  I'm back to reading, reviewing and blogging for the fun of it.

I think every blogger on earth has experienced burnout in some shape or form. So, I've hit my burnout, and I'm finally remembering why I loved doing this to begin with. Plus, book bloggers and readers are some frigging amazing people, and they share one of my dearest loves: Books!
I hope you all have had a great summer, and you'll be seeing my posts coming back once I get into the swing of this whole taking-my-kid-to-school-every-day-and-not-being-late-and-not-forgetting-to-pack-a-lunch-and-wearing-real-pants thing :) 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review: Blood Zero Sky by J. Gabriel Gates

Unprofitables are banished to work camps to pay off their credit. Other tie-men and women look on apathetically. "Fair is fair. Everyone knows you shouldn't use more credit than you are worth to the Company. "They turn their attention to the next repackaged but highly coveted N-Corp product on the market, creatively advertised on the imager screens that adorn virtually every available flat surface. All the while, their mandatory cross-implants and wrist-worn "ICs" keep them focused on the endless cycle of work and consumption to which they are enslaved.

May Fields the CEO's daughter would like to believe she is above all that. Head of N-Corp's marketing team, the young woman who has almost everything anyone could want spends her days dreaming up ingenious ways to make workers buy more of what they already have and don't need. Even before May discovers that the Company is headed for its first loss in thirty years, she is feeling the stirrings of dissatisfaction with the system that has given her everything she's ever wanted . . . except the freedom to be herself.

When she is kidnapped by a member of the Protectorate a secret order dating back to the American Revolution May is suddenly faced with the frightening truth of what the Company's greed has done to our most basic human rights. Will she embrace who she is and join the battle to restore America's democratic freedom, or put her blinders back on and return to her safe and passionless life?

More prediction than fiction, "Blood Zero Sky "is a riveting, nonstop, and suspenseful gaze into the looking glass, destined to rise with the zeitgeist of our times to become the anthem of a generation.

Publication Date: October 1, 2012
Genre: Dystopia, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Source: Thanks to the author, Mr. Gates, for providing me with a review copy!

I hate to admit that I was a bit turned off by the cover of this book, but on the flip side I'm pleased to say that Blood Zero Sky is amazing. Period.  I'm sure I won't be the only one to compare it to George Orwell's 1984 because it shares a lot of those same themes of totalitarianism, psychological control through filtering information and propaganda and an overall sense of helplessness at the all-consuming reach of, in this book, The Company.

What is awesome about this book is that no matter how many comparisons can be made to 1984 it stands completely on its own merit.  The cautionary tale it tells is all the more frightening because the technology we have today isn't far off from that used in the book. And it's not too big a stretch to picture a large powerful entity sneaking its way into monopolizing every industry in the country. It's totally believable.

And I haven't even mentioned the characters yet :) May Fields is the MC, but she's not your typical girl.  The CEO of The Company is her dad, and she's living the high life compared to a lot of people.  She's got everything she could want, but she still feels as if something is missing in her life. May is a strong female character and the fact that she's gay isn't what defines her, nor is it what the book is about.  She does have to hide the fact that she's a lesbian because that doesn't line up with The Company's religious policies. The whole Company controlled religion was another factor that added to the feeling of power un-checked when it comes to how the people live their lives.

I thought this was a great book for a variety of reasons. It definitely makes you think and speaks to a lot of things that are currently going on in our world today. It's also just a plain good read!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Immigration and Adaptation by Haskell G. Edwards, D. Min.

Immigration and Adaptation Book Summary
Adaptation is a must. But how does one go about doing this? It takes great planning, finances, and courage to leave one's homeland; but then finding support and comfort or anything of familiarity in a new land presents a whole new set of challenges. The stress is overwhelming. How do you gain the happiness and success you dreamed of attaining in the new land?

Immigration and Adaptation is here to help you navigate through these challenges. With the information herein, immigrants coming to North America will be prepared to identify and resolve social, family, and personal challenges with confidence. Mr. Edwards' vast professional experience with diverse immigrant families, as well as his own personal journey and genuinely encouraging approach, not only help immigrant families adapt to new surroundings, but grow stronger together in their journey.

This book includes:
- A family wellness test
- Step-by-step guidelines
- Real-life examples
- Inspirational stories
- Family, parenting, and spousal exercises
- Illustrations
- Single-parenting advice

Immigration and Adaptation also includes tips on: building self-confidence, resolving conflicts, tuning communication skills, networking and building social supports, budgeting, parenting, enhancing spousal relationships, helping teenagers adjust, communicating effectively, and more.

Publication Date: September 15, 2011
Genre: Self-help, Advice
Publisher: Langdon Street Press

To find out more about this book you can visit these websites:


About the Author:
Haskell G. Edwards, D. Min. has vast professional experience for more than forty years as pastor, administrator, family therapist, and director of a family therapy center. His extensive experience gained from working with immigrant families in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic setting, as well as his own personal journey and genuinely encouraging approach, positions him not only to help immigrant families adapt to new surroundings, but grow stronger together in their journey.

He has successfully held immigrant seminars, workshops, and lectures throughout North America. Now a retired pastor, he continues to help immigrant families of a wide cultural heritage transition into their new homeland.

You can visit the Author's website here.

Immigration and Adaptation is available for purchase on:

Amazon ($16.95)

Barnes & Noble ($16.95)


Ebook ($8.99)


And now for the GIVEAWAY!

You can win an ebook copy of Immigration and Adaptation!

I'm having trouble getting Rafflecopter working so we'll do this old-school.
All you have to do is leave you name and e-mail address in the comments.

Giveaway will run from August 14th - 20th
Winner will be chosen using Random.org

Thanks to Tribute books and the Author for allowing me to host this giveaway :)

Good luck, everyone!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Guest Post by Tracey Sinclair: Why Do We Love Bad Boys?

Why Do We Love Bad Boys?

There’s something about a bad boy…
From Stefan Salvatore to Eric Northman, what is it about those bad boys that sets our pulses racing? We might crave the happy ever after with the nice guy, but we all want to dabble in the dark side – who didn’t find Spike more fun than Angel, after all, with his peroxide hair, the leather coat and the sexy British snark? It was enough to make you overlook the terrible accent. It’s not exactly a new phenomenon – you just have to look at a book like Wuthering Heights, where Cathy’s safe marriage never makes up for the wild passion of her tortured, tempestuous relationship with the brooding and borderline-demonic Heathcliff. We even like our good guys with a hint of darkness – Angel going Angelus, Stefan turning Ripper; even Sam Winchester got sexier once he started guzzling demon blood.
Partly, of course, this is because the devil gets all the best lines: the good guys are often left with little but po-faced sincerity.  Undying love is all well and good, but sometimes a girl likes a laugh: and all too often writers seem to think that being a hero means being serious all the time. You only get to be sarcastic if you’re a loveable rogue, Han Solo-style , and then it’s proof of your roguishness. You could argue, of course, that there’s the world of difference between that ‘loveable rogue’ type – think Han Solo, Mal Reynolds or Dean Winchester and the genuine bad boy so prevalent in vampire fiction (let’s not forget, both Eric and Spike are stone cold killers, and Damon has not only casually killed a lot of women, he has also compelled plenty to have sex with him – which is basically rape). But deep down, the fantasy is the same: that under that rough exterior beats a heart of gold, and all they need to change them is the love of the right woman. That woman being, of course, us.
You can argue it’s a pernicious ideology – how many women have stayed in awful or abusive relationships because they think ‘he’ll change!”? Certainly it’s a terrible, terrible way to live. But who said fantasies have to be politically correct? If that were the case, nobody alive would have bought 50 Shades. The very point of a fantasy is that it allows you to explore your own limits, to vicariously indulge in behaviours that in life are beyond the pale: personally, I’m a woman who only travels first class on trains and stays in hotels with cable TV and great room service: I’d last about 5 minutes ‘roughing it’. Does that stop me fantasizing about Dean Winchester sweeping me off into the horizon in the Impala to live a life on the road? Hell, no.
Because the bad guys appeal to our own wild side – we might live by the rules, but who doesn’t dream about behaving as badly as we want to, damn society and the consequences? Bad boys don’t live by anyone’s rules but their own: often, we want them simply because we want to be them, to have that freedom ourselves. “Don’t do anything stupid,” Elena tells Damon, in The Vampires Diaries, and he replies, “But stupid is more fun.” And sometimes you can’t argue with that.
[You might wonder how I approached this when I wrote the love triangle in my own book, Dark Dates: how to avoid the boring hero? Simple: I made them both bad boys. Problem solved – and a LOT more fun to write….]

Tracey, thanks so much for this awesome post! You definitely know your bad boys!
About the Author:
Tracey Sinclair is a writer and editor. Her novel and collection of short stories (Doll and No Love Is This, respectively) have been published by independent publisher Kennedy & Boyd,and her new paranormal romance, Dark Dates, is now available.

Her work has appeared in magazines as diverse as Sky, Printer’s Devil, Yours and Woman’s Weekly, as well as having been performed on the radio . Her first play, Bystanders, was premiered as part of the New Writing Season at Baron’s Court Theatre earlier this year. She also a regular contributor to online theatre magazine Exeunt (www.exeuntmagazine.com) and writes the Fangirl Unleashed column for www.unleashthefanboy.com

Her blog http://bodyofageekgoddess.blogspot.com was shortlisted for this year’s Cosmopolitan Blog Awards.
Her newest novel Dark Dates is available for purchase on Amazon.
(Click here for my review of Dark Dates)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Author Interview with Tony Rauch

About the Author: Tony Rauch has three books of short stories published. The first two are more adult related, though young adults may enjoy them depending on their understanding of the themes -  “I’m right here” (spout press) and “Laredo” (Eraserhead Press). The third story collection is geared to Young Adults - “Eyeballs growing all over me . . . again” (Eraserhead Press).  An additional Young Adult title is forthcoming in the next few weeks – “As I floated in the jar.” Samples can be found at –

Rauch has been interviewed by the Prague Post, the Oxford Univ student paper in England, Rain Taxi, has been reviewed by the MIT paper, Rain Taxi, and the Savanna College of Art and Design paper, among many others.

Rauch’s short stories are imaginative, whimsical, dreamy, absurd, surreal, fantasy, sci fi, and fairy tale adventures. The underlying themes relate to fragility, uncertainty, impermanence, the mysteries hidden in everyday life, a sense of discovery, escape, concealment, ennui, regret, loneliness, technology run amok, eerie vibes, irresponsible behavior, confusion, absurd situations, surrealism, modern fairy tales, story starters for young adults and reluctant readers, etc.


Interview with Tony Rauch:

*I am personally a fan of short fiction, but I know some people haven't ventured into this realm much. What do you think is so appealing about short stories?

 I suppose every person has different feelings about this, and it is subjective, but for me the appeals are many, including -
- brevity - they don’t overload you with needless, overly bloated background info.
- experimentation – they can stretch the limits of fiction in form and subject matter.
- succinctness – they get to the point and can wrap things up quickly and neatly.
- volume – being able to experience a variety of adventures in a short period of time.

 *A short piece of fiction really puts the pressure on to deliver a full experience in a condensed package. Do you think it's harder to write short stories as opposed to those that are full novel length?

 Not for me, no. For me I think longer pieces would be harder – to keep that momentum and energy going, the pacing. I’m more of a sprinter, not a marathoner. With shorts, readers can fill in a lot of the details themselves if you paint with broad strokes. The minds eye of the reader can fill things in and flesh things out. I see shorts as being like dreams – sometimes you have to draw some of your own conclusions. In that regard some ambiguity is nice as leaving things out will get a reader thinking on their own about motivations or reasons for things.

 To me novels often have very contrived, soap opera twists and turns, whereas shorts usually focus on one single feeling or event. So that is easier for me to connect with – just focusing on a few things as opposed to trying to not be ‘all over the place’ with things.

 *Pure imagination is evident in all of your stories. Do you know where a story is going to take you when you get that first initial idea or are you kind of surprised yourself?

Sometimes. I try to get the endings first, then work backwards. But sometimes I get a flash of an idea, just a scene or snippet of dialog that I have to build a story around.

Sometimes I surprise myself in that I think a story is going one way and it sometimes ends up being something different – I may find that it works better a totally different way. But that’s part of the surprise and adventure of it - that point of discovery. But that’s what’s nice about short work – you can copy and paste and save, thus you can work on different variants of a story or theme.

Usually I try to have the entire story worked out in my mind or as an outline before bothering to type it up. If I can’t get something to work as fragments of notes, or if I can’t get excited about a vague idea, then it’s probably not worth my time to try to work out further.

Sometimes I’ll look at something months after it’s ‘finished’ and I’ll add some things to it to jazz it up more – an odd little detail here or there to punch up the weirdness and add more detail and depth. So re-visiting work after a long period of time seems to help me get out of the way of myself when bogged down in the initial writing process.

*I am going to assume that your brain is full of ideas and story inspirations considering how many short stories you currently have in Eyeballs Growing All Over Me...Again. How do you decide which ones to write first? Is it based on what you are most excited to write at that point? Or do you make a list and stick to it?

What I’m most excited about. And what is needed. When doing a story collection you need variety. The pieces can’t all be the same. So you need long, medium, short, and a few very short (flash) pieces. Then you need some dialog ones, some first person narratives, description ones, internal monologue ones, and hopefully a second or third person perspective one, etc. You also need some simple, straight forward pieces and a few more elaborate, complicated stories. You need a variety of forms and story types.

So in laying things out, often times good or interesting stories get bumped because they’re redundant to something else in the collection. To me it’s about balance and not being redundant. Then it’s about creating a rhythm to the manuscript as far as order of stories go.

So far coming up with ideas has not been a challenge for me, but that may change at some point. I’m sure eventually I’ll start to repeat myself, though I do already revisit some of the same themes as often I end up thinking of a different takes on them.

I usually have a lot of story notes and outlines saved up and I work on those, filling in the blanks. General ideas are easy, but getting them to work out as stories is the hard part. But the initial ideas seem to come pretty naturally for me.

*I love hearing where writers get there work done. Where can you most often be found writing? And what time of day do you find you are at your most creative?

Location = on my couch in my living room typing on my laptop on a TV stand. But a lot of my ideas just pop into my head throughout the day, so I guess a part of my brain is writing all day long.

Time = late at night. After 9pm. Friday or Saturday night after 11pm is best for me – everything is done (dishes, laundry, dog walked, lawn mowed, calls, emails, etc.) and no one is calling me. So that is the perfect time as my mind is free and clear then. The night feels like a blank slate, waiting to be filled.

Also when I’m on the bus or walking my dog, doing dishes, cleaning, or at the supermarket are good times to think about things and work things out as I have to be at those places or do those things anyway and it’s usually quiet, so why not get something else done too at the same time. That way I avoid wasting time with writer’s block in staring at a blank screen and getting worried about wasting precious time, because I’ve already thought about and worked some things out ahead of time.

So hopefully later in the day I have some ideas worked out, packed away, and ready to unravel.

*Do you think you will ever be able to write a story for all of your ideas? Or do they seem endless?

Hopefully the ideas are different, or different takes on them, and that no single story could encapsulate all my ideas or themes.

I believe I will run out of good ideas eventually and start to repeat the same themes, though every writer I suppose revisits themes as those are the issues they are most concerned about so they’ll probably want to devote a lot of thought and time to them.

*Who are some of your writing inspirations?

Anyone interesting, imaginative, and concise. Anyone who makes you think.
Mostly I like short stories as they get to the point quickly.
I like strange or absurd adventures that are well crafted and have a meaning to them, and sci fi as it offers ideas –

Older writers:
Donald Barthelme, J.D. Salinger, Richard Brautigan, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Charles Bukowski, Franz Kafka, Leonard Michaels (murderers), Jayne Anne Phillips, Robert Coover, Samuel Beckett, Antoine de Saint Exupery (the little prince), Dr. Seuss (cool illustrations), Roald Dahl, Steve Martin (cruel shoes), W.P. Kinsella (the alligator report), Jim Heynen (the man who kept cigars in his cap), Don Delillo.

Contemporary writers:
Barry Yourgrau, Mark Leyner, Adrienne Clasky (from the floodlands), Lydia Davis (Samuel Johnson is indignant), Etgar Keret, Stacey Richter, George Singleton, James Tate (Return to the city of white donkeys), Thom Jones, Italo Calvino, Stephen-Paul Martin, Will Self, Denis Johnson (Jesus’ son), David Gilbert (I shot the hairdresser), David Sedaris, Paul Di Filippo.

Bizarro authors:
D. Harlan Wilson, Andersen Prunty, Carlton Mellick.

Science fiction from the 40s, 50s, and 60s:
Rod Serling, L. Sprague De Camp, Ray Bradbury, Phillip K. Dick, Aurthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Charles Beaumont, Ursula K. Le Guin, etc.

So that’s a lot of influences I guess.

*What type of books do you most enjoying reading at the moment?

Biographies because truth is stranger than fiction.
As for fiction, I would recommend James Tate’s “Return to the city of white donkeys”. That book is all short prose-poems that act as little short stories.

But art and music also really inspires me. I guess art and music gets my mind thinking.

*What was your last book about?

A short story collection. Here is the blurb for that one -

"eyeballs growing all over me . . . again" is a 140 page short story collection of imaginative, whimsical, dreamy, absurd, surreal fantasy, sci fi, and fairy tale adventures. These fables will make great story starters for young adults and reluctant readers. Some of the pieces are absurdist or surreal adventures that hearken back to imaginative absurdism, sci-fi, and fantasy of the 1950s.
With themes of longing, discovery, secrets, escape, eeriness, surprises, and strange happenings in everyday life, readers will delight in these brief but wondrous adventures -

-  a man comes home to discover a Bigfoot-like creature watching his TV.
-  a giant robot pays a visit to a couple.
-  the new kid at school has some unusual toys to share.
-  an inventor creates an attractive robot in order to meet women.
-  a girl becomes so ill she has her head replaced with a goat head.
-  someone wakes to discover little eyes growing all over his body.
-  small, hairy creatures come looking to retrieve an object they had misplaced.
-  a boy finds an unusual pair of sunglasses in a field.

These short stories will give a reluctant reader a sense of accomplishment after reading.

*What is your next book about? When will it be out?

Another short story collection. I don’t know when EHP will release it, but soon – in the next few weeks/months I’m told. Here’s the blurb for that one -

 as i floated in the jar “ is a short story collection of imaginative, whimsical, dreamy, absurd, surreal fantasy, sci fi, and fairy tale adventures. These fables will make great story starters for young adults and reluctant readers. Some of the pieces are absurdist or surreal adventures that hearken back to imaginative absurdism, sci-fi, and fantasy of the 1950s.
With themes of longing, discovery, secrets, escape, eeriness, surprises, and strange happenings in everyday life, readers will delight in these brief but wondrous adventures –

-  a lonely girl finds a small spaceship in the woods.
-  a stranger extracts a baby from a man waiting for the bus.
-  a farmer invents gadgets to fight off infiltrators leaking in from another dimension.
-  a jar falls from a passing wagon, spilling a strange liquid that turns a mud puddle into something else.
-  a gang travels into the past to escape a regression plague that slowly turns people back into primates.
-  strange creatures abduct a man and try to sell him to a different set of strange creatures.
-  a man gets a verbally abusive amorphous blob as a roommate.

These and other adventures await the adventurous reader


Tony, thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and answer some questions!


You can find out more about Tony's newest book "eyeballs growing all over me...again" on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads.

You can find out more about Tony Rauch and his books on his Blog.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Review: Dark Dates by Tracey Sinclair

All Cassandra Bick wants is to be left to get on with doing her job. But when you’re a Sensitive whose business is running a dating agency for vampires, life is never going to be straightforward – especially when there’s a supernatural war brewing in London, a sexy new bloodsucker in town and your mysterious, homicidal and vampire hating ex-lover chooses this moment to reappear in your life…

Witty, sharp and entertaining, Dark Dates is a heady mix of vampires, witches and werewolves – with the occasional angel thrown in – and introduces Cassandra Bick, a likeable heroine destined to join the ranks of fantasy’s feistiest females.

Publication Date: April 2012
Genre: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Source: Thanks so much to the author for providing me with a review copy!

I was so impressed with Dark Dates. I'm a huge fan of books with a fierce heroine that gets tangled up in the paranormal, and this is a great addition to those ranks. It easily stands on its own merit with a unique approach to the idea.

The world that Cassandra Bick lives in is a world tinted with the paranormal, and she's completely used to that.  I loved her personality and wit . . . and her temper.  She's an ordinary woman, which her kind-of-but-not-really boyfriend Cane likes to point out in the most matter of fact way, with a strong backbone, a healthy dose of self respect and independence with just the right amount of womanly petulance. She isn't some jaw-dropping vision of perfection, and that makes her even more relatable.

Her relationship with Cane is immensely interesting.  Over the years he flits in and out of her life, going off to do some secretive paranormal hunting.  Cane's sex appeal oozes off of the pages, but he's not all hearthrob. He's actually quite an ass most of the time. The glimpses of his softer side had me very intrigued about his past, the things he has seen and done.

Dark Dates has a strong character base and compelling storyline. Within this genre I think I'm hard to impress, and I seriously thought this one was great. I am Tracey Sinclair's newest fan and I can't wait to see what the next book holds for Cassandra in this series. 

You can find Dark Dates on Amazon and Goodreads.

You can connect with the Author via her Blog or Twitter.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

"I won't tell anyone, Echo. I promise." Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins? His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. "You didn't do that-did you? It was done to you?" No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked.

"An edgy romance that pulls you in and never lets go. I was hooked!"-Gena Showalter, New York Times bestselling author of the Intertwined series

So wrong for each other...and yet so right.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible. Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

Publication Date: July 31, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Source: Thanks so much to Harlequin Teen for making this title available though Netgalley.

I can't remember the last time I cried actual tears while reading a book. Pushing the Limits kind of crept up on me. It just kept ratcheting up my emotions (in a good way) and hitting all the right nerves. I ACHED for these characters. I felt their pain. I love a book that kind of beats me up along the way. But don't get the wrong idea, this isn't a depressing book. It's very profound and touching and beautiful. I loved it!

Echo is an amazing MC. Omg. Looking back after finishing the book her transformation is breath-taking. Book perfection. She has lived through a traumatic event that she can't remember and it defines her life. She's stuck back in that black hole of not knowing and although she wants to move forward she's basically just living a shadow of a life. Trying to be normal.

Noah is another great character. He's got his own issues that are holding him back and keeping him from being the person he wants to be. Their mutual school counselor throws them together and they pretty much rock each other's worlds. They recognize the broken parts of each other and are drawn together like magnets. What was great to me was that although these were two dysfunctional characters, their relationship was amazingly functional. They made each other better.

The tension just builds and builds in this one and tied me up into so many knots along the way before finally smoothing them out. I love those moments in books where you just keep reading faster and faster to get to the resolution. I have a hard time stopping before that point :) This is such a beautiful and satisfying-to-the-soul kind of read.