This is an amazing fantasy story that will draw you in and make you a part of the world of Jaenrye. While I had a little trouble getting into this book at first (due in part to many distractions outside the book), I stuck around long enough to be captivated by the story that was being told. The first thing that grips you about this book is the sheer volume of its cast. The characters themselves, while in large quantity, were not lacking in quality at all. As the words flowed from the pages I could feel the essence of each character as they were diligently described. Beyond the physical, their personalities shone through as if the Dim had never settled over Jaenrye, that is to say they burned brightly!
The descriptions of the world were painted as vividly as the characters were. I felt myself seated at the Crown and Staff in the town of Ellerdag talking to Jimbo as he pulled my ale from the tap. I sang with the Bohemians in Falcon's Cay as the bard played for them, and then... well you will have to immerse yourself in the book to find out what happens next, just know that M.J. Heiser is such a crafty writer you will experience every bit of this story right alongside her characters.
Aside from the interesting characters, Corona touches on creation in a unique way, reminiscent of Cornelia Funke's Inkheart series, but with its own twist. The themes of creation and belief that run throughout this book allow for an in depth look at the vast differences in beliefs that shadow our own world and how those views may affect the characters and their outcomes, thus making this story just as thought provoking as it was entertaining.
When you find yourself ready for an adventure, settle down some place quiet and kick back with Corona. M.J. Heiser will not disappoint you! When you reach the last pages of Corona and find yourself saddened that the end has come so fast, be heartened by the fact that more adventures await you with Canticle, the next book in The Chronicles of Jaenrye.
Have you ever looked at your family and thought to yourself, “this can't be happening,” or “only in my family!” Well, think again! Take a walk on the blond side with Jax Hix as she guides you through an hilarious tour of the often clueless, very blond antics of her family. Chronicles of My Life With a Blond will have you laughing out loud as you read, and maybe even thinking, “I'm not alone!”
I took it slow and spent a few days getting to know the quirky family in the book and laughing as they managed to bumble through life with some unexpected consequences. After reading it I immediately knew that this would be a favorite book to tuck away and break out for some light reading here and there when I need a laughter pick-me-up!
One section of the book starts out:
Blonde-Spouse, "I think I'll change that bulb in the bedroom light fixture..."
Can you see where this is headed? It ends with:
Being married to a walking blonde joke: definitely priceless frustration.
You have to go read the book to find out what happens in-between!
Chronicles of My Life With a Blond is a must read for anyone who has lost their sense of humor with their own family! When you find yourself thinking, “it really can't get any worse,” Jax Hix is there to tell you that when you are married to a blond - it really can! And all you can do is sit back and laugh about it later!
Treat yourself to a smile and go grab a copy of this fantastically funny trip into the life of a brunette struggling to live blonds!
I loved this story! It is truly unlike anything else out there right now. The author, Thomas Amo, has woven history with present day paranormal mystery in a superb thrill ride that keeps you guessing right up till the end and then beyond.
The story follows Inspector Thomas James from his first romance at age 14 through a series of bizarre murders that seem to be copy cats of some of the most notorious murders committed through history. At every turn in the case things seem to go from strange to beyond believable and just when the characters are questioning their sanity it gets worse!
This was an amazing, intense read that kept me wanting more and wondering where everything was going. There were points in the plot that were obvious, and at the same time those obvious plot points lead to something I totally didn't see coming.
An Apple For Zoë was a refreshingly interesting and totally different story than anything I have read in a long time. If you're looking for something new to break up the monotony of paranormal books that are all variations of the same thing then An Apple For Zoë is the book for you. I promise you, when you finish and put this book down you have a bazillion new questions going through your head while you wait, not so patiently, for the next book to come out!
And that's always a good thing!
*Edit to add: This review has been featured in The Indie Elf Gazette!
Anathema by K.A. Tucker was such an amazing read that I literally had trouble putting this book down and when I did, at the end, I kept thinking about it. The characters were lodged firmly in my mind and I had a billion questions about how everything was going to turn out down the road - you know, in the next book!
Here's a little product description to get you started:
Evangeline has spent her teenage years in obscurity. Her foster parents have the emotional aptitude of robots and her classmates barely acknowledge her existence. About to turn eighteen and feeling like a social pariah, she is desperate to connect with someone. Anyone.
When Evangeline meets Sophie after literally stumbling upon her café, she believes she’s found that connection. Willing to do anything to keep it, she accepts a job as Sofie’s assistant and drops everything to fly to Manhattan, where she is thrust into a luxurious world of Prada, diamonds, and limitless cash.
With such generosity and kindness, it’s easy for Evangeline to dismiss certain oddities . . . like Sofie’s erratic and sometimes violent behavior, and the monstrous guard dogs. She’s even willing to dismiss her vivid dreams of mob-style murders, beautiful homeless people living in caves, and white-eyed demons that haunt her each night as figments of her imagination—especially when one of those figments is the gorgeous Caden. When she wakes up with bite marks on her neck, the fairy tale quickly turns into a nightmare. She slowly unravels the mystery surrounding Sofie and friends, and the reality of the bites and the “dreams.” What she discovers is far more mysterious and terrible than anything she could have imagined.
In a world where everyone has motive to lie for personal gain, Evangeline must decide which deception is least likely to get her killed.
The first thing that struck me about this book, aside from the perfect amount of detail, was the character of Evangeline. She seemed so lost in her own lonely world that you immediately wonder how she came to be that way. Which prompted me to ask Author K.A. Tucker how she went about developing her character and if there was a specific inspiration behind her design. Mrs. Tucker had this to say, "I wanted a protagonist who appealed to readers without being the typical smart-ass, sometimes-sullen teenaged female. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE those characters. But I wanted someone a little different. Someone who was sweet, and caring, and naive, but who exuded remarkable strength and intelligence. I honestly didn't know how Evangeline's character would turn out until I developed the plot. At each critical point, I asked myself how I expected her to react to this situation. That not only drove the plot but her characterization."
While Evangeline is this lost, lonely girl in the beginning, the book follows her in first person perspective through the many ordeals she has to face and the discoveries she makes. Evangeline, while no longer alone, still remains lonely through most of the book. She is always the outsider, the human thrown in amongst vampires and other things. I asked Mrs. Tucker about the first person perspective and if she felt that it was important to tell her vampire story from the human, Evangeline's, point of view and this is what she had to say: "Yes. I wrote this in 1st person POV because I wanted my readers to feel the excitment, shock, betrayal, and fear that Evangeline was going through. I wanted them to experience it with her. That being said, the second book in the series will have 2 POVs - Evangeline's and Sofie's."
While Anathema is a vampire story, it is markedly different from others that have inundated the market. There are new creatures in this book as well as a new look at how vampires and witches have unintentionally affected the world they inhabit. Without giving away any spoilers, I wanted to know if the author set out with an inspiration for these characters and pets or if their creation was driven by the need to set her book apart from all the other vampire novels out there. Mrs. Tucker explained, "I don't think any writer out there wants their story to be 'just like all the others'. I am no exception. I wanted readers to finish that book feeling like they've experienced something that they've never seen before. There are a few different ways to do that - the worldbuilding, the story itself, and the characters. The best way to do it is with all three.Those characters whom we speak of (but don't want to give away here) just fell into place. Honestly. It's quite bizarre but they seemed the natural fit. I needed them to tell the story properly. I toyed with changing a few of them for reasons I can't explain without including massive spoilers. In the end, none felt right next to these. And Sofie... well, she was super-fun to create."
Those characters are also super fun to read! Anathema was a pleasant surprise for me. I expected to like it based on the description and the genre, but I didn't expect to fall in love with it or the characters that inhabited it. Evangeline, Sophie, Caden, and a few others are still dancing around in my head as I wait patiently to have those questions of, "what happens next," answered. If you love YA books, fantasy novels, and vampires you really need to grab this book. Be sure to tuck yourself away somewhere quiet and comfortable because you won't be getting up until you hit the end!
For those of you who are curious, here's a little insight into Author K.A. Tucker and the upcoming second book in The Casual Enchantment Series.
First thing is first, tell us a little about yourself and how you got into writing.
Hmmm... let's see. Well, first things first, I am Canadian so if you see me saying "favourite" vs "favorite", I didn't spell it wrong. It's the Canadian way :-) I grew up in a small town just outside of Toronto. At nineteen years old, I hightailed it out of there with my bags packed, ready for big city life. Now, fourteen years later, I somehow ended up in another small town with the house, two kids, dog, etc. It's funny how your priorities change...
How I got into writing? Well, this is kind of an odd story (I think, anyways). Growing up, I loved reading and stories in general. Aside from my brief stint with the elementary school library "publishing company" - comprised of some cardboard and wallpaper for binding materials and crayons and pencils for print production - I wasn't a 'writer'. I was a very practical girl who excelled in school and was on the path to become a teacher, or doctor, or lawyer... whatever inspired me that week.
Fastforward twenty-five years - business degree in hand and a successful career working at Procter & Gamble - I found myself on a year-long maternity leave with my second girl (yes... that's right. One year. Gotta love Canada for that :-) ) Now, that may sound like a dream come true. It is. It's also extremely tough to shake the notorious 'baby brain' and get back into work after being off for that long. I didn't want to go through that struggle again. I needed something to invigorate my brain. I also needed 'me time'. So I started thinking about writing. I loved stories. I loved reading. It's free (big bonus when you're on mat leave and not receiving an income!).And then an idea landed on top of my head. It was more of a question, actually: what would it be like to have a world of vampires and no humans? From there, Anathema was born.
For each Indie author I talk to I always get different answers to this question, so I like to ask it often. What was the decisions to self-publish like for you and how do you find the process of being in charge of making it happen?
I chose to self-publish because I had a story that I fell in love with and I needed to get it into people's hands. I could not accept the idea of placing Evangeline and Caden and all the other fun characters in a box and shoving them under my bed. It made my heart ache. But I also had to accept that my odds for landing an agent and publisher were slim given today's market. I was okay with that because, through extensive research, I learned all about self-publishing and I knew I could do it. I learned about the benefits - being your own boss, making your own decisions, hiring your own professionals, having full control over cover design, etc. I'm a bit of an impatient control-freak so self-publishing actually appealed to me, not as a last-resort but as the best option. That all being said, it's a ton of work.
As an author you will probably cringe when you read this, but I never read the "teaser chapters" for the next book. Let me explain, I know if I start reading them, I will hate myself for having to wait to actually pick up the book (if it hasn't been released yet). So - since you left me wanting so much more... tell me all about book two, don't leave out any details! I promise not to tell anyone else!
Okay, kidding aside, I know the first book just came out, so it may be asking a bit much for this information, but do you have a publication date set for the second book yet?
Kind of, sort of... First draft is done and now I'm going into revisions, which will likely take a few months. I'd love to get it out before Christmas but I'm kidding myself. More likely the early part of 2012. I hesitate to set specific dates because I'm juggling two small kids and a demanding career. It's easy for writing to get derailed with those priorities. But remember, I'm impatient, so I'll want to get this book out there ASAP.
I have to ask this one because this is what lead me to discover K.A. Tucker's version of Anathema. I had become Twitter/Facebook friends with an author named Megg Jensen, who also happens to have a brand new Indie book out titled, Anathema! I was reading through my Facebook feed when I saw a little link to your blog and a post titled, A Tale of Two Anathemas. You both seemed to take the mixup that occurred with a great attitude. Can you tell the readers a little about your experience, and do you think that little mix up ended up being a good thing?
In a nut shell, I discovered Megg's book when I was uploading my book trailer to my JacketFlap profile. The administrators uploaded Megg's book Anathema to my profile. It was an honest mistake and mistakes happen. I reached out to them to fix it and then I thought I'd send Megg a quick email, just to let her know in case she stumbles upon it. We chatted back and forth and then linked up on Twitter, facebook, etc.I truly believe everything happens for a reason. This mix up gave me a chance to meet a fellow indie author, to introduce myself to Megg's network of friends, who then connected me with their own network of friends, and so on. Selling books is all about word-of-mouth. So, yes. Absolutely a good thing!
I like to throw the authors into their book with my last question, but the question that burning to be answered is also a bit of a spoiler. So, here's your chance to duck out and leave the interview if you haven't yet read the book. . .
***SPOILER ALERT... DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER UNLESS YOU'VE ALREADY READ THE BOOK!***
The main character of your story finds herself split between two worlds for a while and we see how she has to cope with the two very different sets of circumstances, how do you think you would cope if you found yourself suddenly plunged into a very different, yet parallel world to our own?
It depends - how hot is the guy I'm stuck with? :-) I'd probably go batty. I would one thousand percent assume there's something psychologically wrong with me.
I would like to thank K.A. Tucker for her time in answering my questions and for writing such a fabulous book! I can't wait for the second one in the series!
Saletti Blood - The Order by Vanna V. is not my usual read, but I was intrigued by what the author presented. This is the product description from Amazon.com:
Ayana and Novella Lachlan are identical twin sisters, living in Italy with their mother and military stepfather. Having never been separated their entire lives, they're forced to make the choice of staying together or going their separate ways when their mother decides to return to the United States.
Ayana, having met the Italian man of her dreams who happens to be the policeman she assaulted outside a nightclub, can't bear the idea of leaving him and chooses to remain in Italy. Novella, thinking that neither of them should stay, chooses to join their mother in Miami. Ayana warns her not to go.
Paladio Hijuelos, fresh from a South American prison where he was beaten and tortured for three years, returns to Miami and finds the lovely and young Novella. He can't help the obsession he has for her and begins to turn her entire world upside down.
Vincenzo Saletti, from a powerful and feared family in Italy, learns his baby brother is missing and must find what happened to him. What he finds is a tragedy, and the wrong girl caught up in it. Will his family give the order to end her life, or will they find a reason to spare her?
Since I review so many YA books I feel the need to start out with a bit of warning for this book.
Saletti Blood - The Order starts out with a glimpse of 17 year old, beautiful, blond twins on their way back to Italy from the United States and a scene where the girls are partying with friends. Do not let that fool you! This is not a Young Adult book by any stretch of the imagination. This is 100 percent an adult book! There are some very graphic, brutally violent, and sexual scenes throughout its pages! This is a dramatic novel, so it's expected, but I wanted to throw the warning out there for my YA readers, I definitely rate this as a 16 and older book.
With that being said, I was a little worried at first. The book jumps right into a 17 year old world. I wasn't sure I wanted to care about twin teen-aged girls, but before I knew it I had fallen in love with the characters. I fell for the depth of emotion that these twins had to go through as they were forced to make tough life choices based on their mother's unbalanced love life, the girls' love for each other, and the man who was hopelessly in love with one of them. And that was just the beginning.
As the girls went their separate ways my heartstrings were pulled, and I found myself hoping beyond hope that the characters would come out the other end alright, despite what was happening to them.
And then, there was a point half way through this book where I had to walk away. I hated the book in that moment! I hated the author for doing what she did! And I also knew immediately that I loved the book and praised Vana's ability to illicit such a strong response from me. When I can read the pages of a book and have to dry my eyes or check my rage towards a hated character I know the author has done their job and done it well. Vana V. definitely wrote pure emotion into her characters and it jumps off the page and right into your heart.
When I picked the book back up and finished reading it I was tossed right back into that roller coaster of drama you would expect from this type of book. I hoped, I feared, I wept, and I ordered a tall glass of vengeance right alongside the characters. If you love drama, you will love this book! It is both a heart-wrenching and heartwarming story of love, family bonds, and a tragic case of mistaken identity.
While reading the book I was in contact with the author, and I was very greatful for the opportunity to ask Vana some questions about herself and her first novel, Saletti Blood - The Order.
Saletti Blood – The Order is your first published book so many people will wonder just who is this Vana V? Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
How to keep this answer short and interesting? Hmmm… I can start with the obvious. I’m a military housewife and the mother of two beautiful girls, currently living along the central coast in sunny California. If you ask where I’m originally from, it’s hard to say because I’ve lived all over the United States. My father kept us on the move every year, so no place was truly ever home, though I did spend much of my childhood bouncing around Arizona. Whenever I get homesick for a place, it’s Italy. I spent many years there, where I experienced both the best and worst parts of my life. Thus, came the inspiration for this particular book, which is going to be a three book series when I’m finished with it.
I have been reading novels since I was eleven, and started writing my own after being disappointed in the way I could already predict what was going to happen in the books I was buying. I suppose that’s why Saletti Blood was so much fun for me to write. I got to throw my readers off, writing scenes into the book that my readers weren’t expecting – especially the tragedy that you’d NEVER think to happen. Just when you’re about to assume something, I throw something else at you and shake it up.
I write poetry, music lyrics, short stories, and now I’m publishing novels.
I love horseback riding, roller skating, karaoke (which may be why my neighbors have all moved away), and I used to enjoy jogging with my dogs until I became so consumed with Saletti Blood that I disappeared inside my office to write and haven’t been seen since!
What was your inspiration for this novel and the twin characters who inhabited its pages?
My inspiration? Well, let’s just say that I once read “a good author writes about what they know.” Although this book is fiction and the characters are made up, there are some truths to this story – key things that I have experienced firsthand and have never been able to forget. I was seventeen years old when I found myself at the mercy of a brutal man, and when I went to the one person who should have been there to protect me, let’s just say that she took HIS side. It was the one moment in my life that I can never forget. I had never felt more alone than I did then, and THAT very moment was what inspired this story. The heartache in Saletti Blood is real, as well as the violent nature of the man Novella was hounded by.
Writing this story wasn’t just for me. It was also for the young girls out there who are seventeen today (or around that age) and living in abusive relationships. This story was something I thought might give them hope for something better. We all have a Vincenzo Saletti waiting out there for us, somewhere. And if not, it’s a damn good thought!
My inspiration for the twins? We’ll say they’re both a reflection of my personalities. There is a part of me who is strong – like Novella, and another part of me that has been weaker – like Ayana. Writing twins into the story gave me more options to play with, and it was also a tribute to my own sister – who was “torn” from me for years on end (about fifteen total). I had spent my entire childhood having a sister that I was forced to share a room with, and then suddenly – one day – she was gone. My life changed then as I was moved to Italy. Everything from that point on is what inspired this story. It all began the day I stepped foot onto Italian soil, which is why Chapter One starts off with the twins landing in Italy.
There were parts of this book that were really hard to read (very emotional), what was it like for you to write out the very abusive, violent portions of the book?
Let’s just say alcohol would have helped, but I don’t drink! It was extremely difficult. There were times when I would be typing a scene with my headphones on, listening to Matt Goss’s “Change Me” song, and my teenage daughters would walk into the room and find me crying away. I could barely type, but I had to continue on. They’d just roll their eyes and call out, “Dad, she’s crying again!” Then they’d tell me to stop writing my book because it was too upsetting. I remember telling them, “It will all be worth it, some day.” I guess that’s funny now, but a couple months ago, it was devastating to write some of the violence that I knew firsthand. You relive the fear and the feeling of hopelessness, and it can really crush your spirit when you’re in that kind of situation.
I hope that I was able to paint a picture for the reader of what it’s like to be the victim in a situation like Novella’s. If you find yourself crying for her – your heart aching for this young girl who has nowhere to go, then I have managed to do exactly what I set out to do. I want you to feel her pain – to feel sympathetic toward her, and to feel a vengeance like no other for the man who is responsible for her tears.
I know that your character, Vincenzo Saletti, was inspired by actor Luke Goss, can you tell your readers a little about your celebrity crush?
Hahaha… Celebrity crush? Never heard it put that way, but I suppose it’s fitting. Truth is, Luke wasn’t even the face I first imagined for this character. He has light hair and blue eyes – and an English accent, and your classic Italian man has darker features and black hair like my character Tomaso – and he speaks with an Italian accent. My original Vincenzo character was more Italian, and I was having a difficult time trying to write the book while I had this darker character in mind. It wasn’t going anywhere and I was quite frustrated with the whole story.
Then I was flipping the channels of the tv one night and found “Blade II” playing. I’d always had a thing for the voice of Luke Goss, so I started watching the movie and just listening to his character’s lines. The next day, I was watching “Hellboy II” and listening to his voice again, and watching the way his expressions moved with the emotion of his character. I found myself on Netflix, ordering every movie he starred in and studying him for days on end. I fell in love with him as an actor. His eyes, his smile, the way he could wear a suit and take my breath away, but mostly his voice when it was filled with so much emotion…
I knew I was going about my book the wrong way. I needed to put Luke Goss in the picture and rewrite the entire outline I’d worked so hard on. Putting him into the book literally changed the entire story, but it was well worth the time and energy because it made a BETTER story than I ever could have imagined.
If you don’t fall in love with Vincenzo Saletti, you have no heart…
As for my own “celebrity crush” on Luke Goss, I admit it exists to a point. I’d love to meet him one day and present my series to him. After all, it was his eyes and smile that made this entire book possible.
I admit I have a thing for strange socks! I was instantly humored by the Sponge Bob sock reference. Is this (strange sock love) a trait you share with your character, Novella?
LOL, no! In fact, I love my tiny white socks with nothing on them. I don’t like any designs or colors. However, my oldest daughter refuses to wear plain white socks. You can open her drawer and find anything from Sponge Bob to Transformers! I have no idea why she loves crazy socks, but it gave me the idea to throw that into the book. After all, Vincenzo never knows what to expect from Novella, so it was just a little something more to humor the reader with – and to show she was still just a kid in the midst of all the drama she was forced to deal with.
Do you have another novel in the works? If so, tell us a little bit about it.
I’m currently working on the sequel to Saletti Blood, but I can’t give too much away about it. I can tell you that I am answering the few things that I never did (on purpose) in the first book. I even bring in a rival who threatens to “destroy it all.” His past is something that you’ll never expect, so the sequel is sure to have as much drama as the first. I won’t disappoint the reader…
Once the Saletti Blood series are finished, I have a paranormal book that I’m planning to work on. Did I mention that I am an avid ghost hunter? Zak Bagans has nothing on me, LOL…
If you could meet your own character, Novella, what advice would you give to her?
“Run, Forest, Run!” Why do those words come to mind with a light laugh?
Seriously, what would I say to her? I suppose I would commend her for keeping her head up through it all, for not giving up on her life when things couldn’t have gotten any worse. I would tell her that “blood is not thicker than water” – that sometimes it’s okay to walk away and stand up for yourself. I would praise her for telling Paladio off that night, even though it cost her a great deal of pain, and I would praise her for sacrificing her own selfishness to be there for Vincenzo when he needed her.
She had to grow up fast and cope with a lot – things that most adult women haven’t even been forced to deal with, so that’s something she should be proud of and I’d tell her so. She’s a strong girl.
More importantly, I would tell her to hold onto her man before I tried to take him away! LOL…
I would like to take a moment to thank Vana, once again, for answering a few questions and to wish her the best of luck on writing the rest of her trilogy. Perhaps we should all chip in and ship her some Kleenex for the process!
If you love a good drama, and you're ready for that deep kind of read where you fall in love with the characters (or loathe them completely) and live through the real emotional struggles that they face (both good and bad), then you really need to grab this book. It's the little unassuming black book with the red writing that packs a very powerful punch once opened!
Vana V. can be found on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/LaPurisimaMission.GHOSTS?sk=wall
I'm usually the one reviewing and screaming from the rooftops about my favorite books, so it was very cool to open my e-mail this morning and find someone else doing it for me! *HUGE HAPPY GRIN*
Before I bore you to tears with my own emotions, here is what Patria Dunn Rowe had to say about Birthrights!
Don’t you hate when you get to the end of a book, and you are so into it, that you find yourself checking to make sure there are no more pages to read!? This is what happened to me at the end of Birthrights. The extreme detail, and the vivid description of each character and creature ranging from Feys to Lycans to Weres to Vamps, and last but certainly not least in this story –Witches-, left me feeling like that author is indeed a witch herself –living among us in our human world-. How else could she have written so specifically about the many different powers that each of the character had, their way of life and the story behind it? *Shaking my head in awe*
In my mind, I was living the story with the two main characters –Caislyn and Jaxon-. I laughed with them through their discoveries, and my heart went out to them at their human like need to search for answers to what had happened to the both of them that brought them to the point in the book. By the end, I found my self wishing that the second book in this trilogy was already out so that I could keep on reading. I want more! More answers, more story, more Witches!
With so many books out here today focusing on the Vampire world, I was pleasantly surprised to see how the author –Christine Butler- incorporated ‘Vamps’ in such a way that they played more of a background role throughout. I, personally have never fallen in love with a Witch story like I did this one, and it has really opened my mind to wanting to check out more books like this.
I can only imagine what Caislyn and Jaxon have waiting for them in book 2 of the Awakening trilogy, and I’m anxiously waiting for its release in September 2011!
*Christine is doing the happy dance* Oh, well, now that you are done reading that glowing review - it's time to go buy my book and see for yourself