Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday Snatch: Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

   I apologize again for missing Saturday Snatch the last couple of weeks. Life has slowed down a bit now though, so hopefully I'll be able to jump back into the swing of things.

     Shades of Milk and Honey was the first book from author Mary Robinette Kowal, and, written after the Jane Austen style, adds a twist of magic to romantic themes.
Cover Blurb:

Shades of Milk and Honey is an intimate portrait of Jane Ellsworth, a woman ahead of her time in a version of Regency England where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. But despite the prevalence of magic in everyday life, other aspects of Dorchester’s society are not that different: Jane and her sister Melody’s lives still revolve around vying for the attentions of eligible men.
Jane resists this fate, and rightly so: while her skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face, and therefore wins the lion’s share of the attention. At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, Jane has resigned herself to being invisible forever. But when her family’s honor is threatened, she finds that she must push her skills to the limit in order to set things right–and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.
This debut novel from an award-winning talent scratches a literary itch you never knew you had. Like wandering onto a secret picnic attended by Pride and Prejudice and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell,  Shades of Milk and Honey is precisely the sort of tale we would expect from Jane Austen…if she had lived in a world with magic.

   I read the first two chapters offered on the author's website and, as a dedicated fan of Pride & Prejudice and other books along those lines, fell in love! But, of course, now I'm on hold for it at the library. But I'm first. If that helps.

Tell me what you think!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Book Review: Intangible by J. Meyers

  Intangible is the first book from author J. Meyers, and a strong start to a new paranormal series.
Cover Blurb:
Twins Sera and Luke Raine have a well-kept secret--she heals with a touch of her hand, he sees the future. All their lives they've helped those in need on the sly. They've always thought of their abilities as being a gift.
   Then Luke has a vision that Sera is killed. That gift they've always cherishes begins to feel an awful lot like a curse. Because the thing about Luke's ability? He's always right.
    And he can't do anything about it.

There are hundreds of paranormal romance book filling up the shelves at the library near my home, and most of them follow the same specific story formula: girl has gift, girl finds hot guy, she is introduced to paranormal world, hot guy will waste away entirely if he can't have her, and so on. With this is mind I was a bit apprehensive when starting Intangible, but, happily, I found it refreshingly different.
       Sera and Luke were very likable. They weren't self-centered and actively looked for those who could use their help. And though they were similar as twins are, each had very distinct personality that interacted well with the other. Marc (Sera's romantic Interest) also was definitive, if not as much so. I could read his conflicting emotions, and ultimately how his experiences made him who he was. The other characters, such as Fey and Jonas, were fun, and I look forward to seeing them is future books.
Characters: 4.5 Stars
       Overall this was a nicely satisfying read. Time wasn't wasted between scenes, and there weren't inconsistencies with the gifts that Sera and Luke possessed. The story was unique and led me on with hints and ideas, until, in the aftermath of the climax, almost everything was revealed. And then in the final scene, that security was blown away, leaving me gasping for the sequel! Which, unfortunately, isn't. Out. Yet. *sigh*
Characters: 4.3
       I really enjoyed the lack of cliches in Intangible, and the replacement descriptions felt natural and flowing. The style was straightforward and clear. Often when I picture a scene from a book it's a bit blurry around the edges, but many of the scenes from Intangible I could picture as realistically as if from a movie.
Style: 4 Stars

Rating: 4.3
Source: From author for review
Genre: Paranormal Romance
YA Fiction

Author Info: J. Meyers
Website- J. Meyers Books
Twitter- @jmeyersbooks

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Book Tour: The God King by James West

   A big welcome to author James West, who is stopping by my blog as part of the tour for his new epic fantasy book The God King!

[Aaron+and+Jonesy+2+facebook.jpg]When James A. West was thirteen years old he read The Talisman, by Stephen King and Peter
Straub, and a seed of an idea was planted that someday he, too, wanted to create different worlds and realities. After many years and occupations—including a stint in the US Army, a year as a long-haul truck driver, and a log home builder—he enrolled at the University of Montana, Missoula. There, he majored in Psychology and, by chance, took a creative writing course that allowed him to revisit the idea of creating different worlds and realities . After college, he started a small woodworking business with the express purpose of using it to fund his writing journey. James lives in Montana with his wife and his bodyguard—a Mini-Schnauzer named Jonesy.

Favorite reads?
I started reading what most would consider adult fiction by the time I was 8 or 9 years old. I’d
pick up Louis L’Amour, Tom Clancy, any number of romance books, and whatever else was
around the house. When I was 13, my aunt introduced me to the Talisman, by Stephen King and
Peter Straub, and that book changed my life. I had always liked the fantastical in movies, but up
until then I had never read anything like the Talisman. In a very real sense, that novel opened a
door for me to explore not just the real world, but completely different worlds born from dreams,
desires, or even fears. I still read just about anything, but I always come back to the fantastical.

Inspirations for the book?
When I started this project I was looking into the dark ages. I discovered that such times are
dark in the sense that there is little known about them, because when a dark age falls due to one
calamity or another, survival becomes key—when you need food and shelter, there is little time
or effort spent chronicling day to day experiences. At any rate, I wanted to set a fantasy world
into one such dark age, and see what would happen.
    In The God King, the end of the world starts unfolding from the outset when a power never
meant for mortal hands is unleashed upon the world of men. I wrote The God King as a stand-
alone novel, but with an option to renew in the sense that there is one small yet crucial element
left unfulfilled. Essentially The God King is the prologue/prequel of my coming series, Heirs
of the Fallen. My intention is to let the effects of this unleashed power, coupled with human
motivations and the need to survive another day, flavor everything else that I write in this world.

Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little?
No, not at all. While the seeds of creating worlds fell into my head when I was young, they
lay dormant for a long time. I was raised with the idea that a career meant giving your life to
something you probably hated, but would pay the bills and build a nest egg. It was not until I
discharged from the US Army, went to college, and took my first creative writing class that I
started to consider the possibility of becoming a professional storyteller. My greatest hope is that
I can eventually pay my bills and build a nest egg with writing—something I love, rather than

Any Pet Peeves?
I don’t know if it is just me, but nine times out of ten it seems that when people describe their
pet peeves, I am usually left with my mouth hanging open, because they are the worst for doing
exactly what supposedly bothers them. That being said, I absolutely hate it when people take
their dogs on walks with the sole purpose of letting their pet potty on a neighbor’s lawn. I have
two or three of those types in my neighborhood. I tolerate them because, well, their pets seem to
so thoroughly enjoy fouling up my yard. When I walk my dog, I carry a poo bag … but I have to
admit, I have been carrying that same, unused bag for about seven years now :)

Chocolate or Peanut Butter?
I am a big fan of peanut butter. Sometimes chocolate gets thrown in, sometimes not, but peanut
butter works anytime, anywhere. Chips and salsa, though, is where it’s at!

Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music?
I was born in 1972 and became a teen in the mid-80s. Somewhere in that time I transitioned from
top 40 stuff to Van Halen. About that same time, the whole Tipper Gore/PMRC thing heated
up (if anyone reading this does not know what that was, it is the reason we have warning labels
on music). Heavy Metal became the main culprit in everything from Satanism to teen suicide.
Naturally, being a teen, I had to check it out for myself. Suffice it to say, I became a long-haired,
torn-jeans-wearing, head-banger with Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Metallica, and Slayer serving
as my music of choice.
   Getting back to your question, my tastes have mellowed and broadened a bit, but Heavy Metal
is my go-to choice when it comes to writing. What can I say? Some people like Red Bull, but I
get amped to write by plugging into something with guitar riffs that make your hair stand on end,
and a drumbeat that mimics the charging hooves of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse!

Do you need anything to write? (ex. chocolate, music, slippers) :)
Time and, of course, Heavy Metal … but mostly time. While I am thankful to have a job, I hope
and pray that enough readers will love and support my work that I can begin writing fulltime.

How long do you write on any average day?
I used to have an online woodworking business, but now work fulltime as a customer service
manager at a furniture store. Since I really enjoy my wife’s company after work, I choose
to write from around 4:30 - 7:30 am. For some reason when I get close to finishing a book,
a peculiar, unnamed affliction always brings me low, forcing me to call in sick. When that
happens, I find it therapeutic to write all day long :)

Give us the number one reason to read your book.
I wanted to write something that I enjoyed writing and reading, in the hopes that others would
as well. I wanted to tell a story that moves with a purpose, that grabs you by the heart and drags
you along, whether you want to go or not. I wanted it to be direct and engaging, a story where
you connect with the characters and their plights, a story that makes you want to stand next to
the hero, experiencing all their ups and downs. Mostly I wanted to open a doorway in the veil
between our world and somewhere else, a place that at first blush seems familiar, but really is
not. With The God King, the door is now open. I am not entirely sure what lurks on the other
side. I have seen shadows in the mist, and they have whispered to me, let me in on a few of their
secrets, but they have held back far more than they have revealed. One way or another my course
is set, and I intend to explore and adventure across the mysterious world that awaits beyond the
veil and through the doorway. I hope others will join me.

Author Info: James West
Website: James A. West
Blog: James A. West
Twitter: @jwestbooks
Facebook: Author Profile

   Heroes are not born, they are forged in the fires of apocalypse...
In the heavens above, the three moons crash together, streaming fire and death in their wake; below, the seas rage as the roiling face of the world shatters. After Prince Varis Kilvar steals powers to transform himself into a god, chaos reigns from the king's city of Ammathor to the forbidding walls of the Black Keep. At his heels marches a demonic army torn from the very bowels of the Thousand Hells, and the risen God King uses terror to stake his claim over all lands.
   Betrayed and bound to Varis by powers he does not understand, mercenary Kian Valara is forced to masquerade as the world's savior, while a beautiful Sister of Najihar prepares him for his last battle. Victory against a living god is far from certain, but vengeance? For Kian, when the battle rage falls upon his soul and the sword hilt is hot and alive against his palm, vengeance is never out of reach.

Thanks for stopping by! James West has generously offered to giveaway one ebook copy of his book The God King in any format via SmashWords.
Ends 3/8
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Tour Schedule

February 1st – Starter Day Party
I Heart Reading
February 2nd – Interview
Marsha A. Moore’s Blog
February 3th – Book Excerpt and Giveaway
Words Like Silver
February 4th – Review
Books, Books and More Books
February 5th – Promo Stop
February 6th – Review and Giveaway
Kindling The Fire
February 8th – Promo Stop
Mama Knows Books
February 9th – Promo Stop
Full Moon Bites
February 10th – Author Interview
Brenda McCreight’s Blog
February 12th – Review
I Heart Reading
February 17th – Book Excerpt and Giveaway
Book Spark
February 19th – Review and Author Interview
Always a Book Lover
February 20th – Review and Promo Spot
Must Read Faster
February 23th – Review
Book Snatch
February 24th – Review and Giveaway
I Smell Sheep
February 25th: Review, Interview and Giveaway
Understanding Shae’s Story
February 27th – Review and Author Interview
Sheila Deeth Blog
February 28th – Review
Fiction Fascinatino
February 29th – Author Interview and Review
The Wormhole
March 1st – Promo Stop and Giveaway
Kindle and Me

Monday, February 13, 2012

Author Interview & Giveaway: Ahmad Taylor

  I am a 35 year old writer living in South Florida. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. and lived in NYC until I was 29. I was a cop briefly, and then gravitated to private security consulting.
   I’m big into most sports (I won’t offend the fans of the sports I hate, but it rhymes with snoccer… lol).
   I am a Christian, and while I do not write about my faith, it definitely affects how and what I write about.

Favorite reads?
Hmmm. I am a huge Terry Goodkind fan. His Sword of Truth series is pretty great reading. I’m 8 novels in with about 3 to go. It’s a nice mix of adult fantasy with thriller thrown in there. It’s got an interesting heaven vs hell / good vs evil tone running through it. Think Lord of the Rings but way more graphic in terms of sex and violence.
   I am also a big fan of Shakespeare. I took a couple Lit classes in college where the main focus was his work. I also wrote a short appropriation of King Lear, The Tempest & Macbeth combined. Once you get passed the Olde English, he is a great read.
   And of course The Bible!

-Inspirations for the book?
The honest and true inspiration for this novel is my big sister. That’s the short-answer. The long-form version is; I had one of my “crazy dreams” in which my sister and I were government agents working on a secret project in outer space. In part 1 of the dream, all was well. Fast forward to second part of dream where she was missing and in danger. I had to try and convince people that not only was she not just a random figment of my imagination, but that she was also in harm’s way. 
   Once I woke up, covered in sweat and a bit traumatized, I grabbed a pencil and pad and started writing. After an hour I had a bare-bones outline. Next day I grabbed my laptop and the rest is her-story.

-Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little?
When I was younger, I had many dreams and goals and hopes and wishes. I fantasized a lot of being a member of GI Joe or some other action-packed super hero type organization. In some respects that may have been the spark for me eventually getting into law-enforcement later on.
    I also wanted to teach literature after having some great English teachers coming up in school.
    My drive to write started midway through High School when I began reading Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allen Poe. Both authors/poets definitely got me interested in putting pen-to-paper early on.

-Pet Peeves?
I’m pretty agreeable in most settings, but I do have a few. Do not like messy people (though I have my moments of laziness – Just hate seeing others be slobs).
   People who eat with their hands and then don’t wash them. Just keep your grimy, saliva covered fingers away from me!
   Do not enjoy people who are certain that their opinion is certifiably correct and all others are flat-out wrong. It’s very arrogant and obnoxious and only serves to validate their ignorance when someone acts like that.
   Oh, bad handshakes! Like seriously, do you have the tensile strength of a new-born? Even women have some amount of testosterone. Use it to grab my hand firmly and shake!

-Chocolate or Peanut Butter?
Probably gonna’ lose some readers with this one, but, Neither. I’m a strawberry kind of guy. Sorry!

-Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music?
Um, I would say I definitely tried to imagine what music would go with the film version (should there ever be one made). Didn’t come up with anything firm yet, but I have some ideas.
    Listened to lots of stuff while writing: Blink 182; Seal; Dave Matthews; Lily Allen; Notorious B.I.G.; Jay-Z; +44; Drake; EBT; John Mayer; Pink; James Taylor; Counting Crows; Corinne Bailey Rae; Pearl Jam; A Tribe Called Quest; 2-Pac; Rihanna and just about anything else that  got me focused for that hour, day or session.

-Do you need anything to write? (ex. chocolate, music, slippers) :)
Sure, when I’m really gonna’ hit it hard, I like to have some tea handy, headphones plugged in, couple of oatmeal raisin or coconut cookies, and darkness (definitely hate bright lights in my eyes while writing. Messes up my “zone”).

-How long do you write on any average day?
Right now my writing consists of blogging and writing press releases and emails. While I was writing my novel I would probably go at it for 10-15 hours straight with only a couple bathroom, snack, or smoke breaks. The rest of the time I was locked-in so to speak.

-Give us the number one reason to read your book.
It’s a nice combination of action and suspense. It brings you along at one speed, then WHAM! Slams you back against your chair and ratchets the mood up several notches. Then back and forth, keeping you on edge the whole time. It also leaves you with just the right amount of questions where you understand the novel as a stand-alone but also crave the answers that await you in the sequel.

Author Info: Ahmad Taylor
Twitter: @AhmadDarkside

Government agent Derrick Thomas awakes from a disturbing dream to find a message from his father asking for help. As he sets out to lend his assistance he quickly discovers that not only has his father gone missing, but that a clandestine government agency is out to derail his search before it can begin. After the murders of two of his father’s colleagues and the further disappearances of his mother and sister, Derrick is thrust into a battle for the lives of his family while attempting to uncover details of a secret government program which may hold the key to his family's whereabouts. Will he be able to save them and uncover the truth before he becomes the next victim of a government bent on keeping him silent?

Ahmad Taylor has generously offered to give away three ebook copies of his Dark Side of the Moon on this blog!
Ends 2/27
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Monday, February 6, 2012

Saturday Snatch: The Darkening Dream by Andy Gavin

   I apologize for missing this guys. I got back later than I thought I would on Saturday, and by the time I got around to blogging, it wasn't Saturday anymore. However, to make up for it, I have today an entire free book for Saturday Snatch!...On, er, Monday. Ahem! Introducing The Darkening Dream by Andy Gavin!
     "FREE Two Days Only: A Vampire Novel with Actual Bite!
      As the modern world establishes itself and pushes the supernatural into the shadows,
the supernatural fights back.

    The Darkening Dream is a chilling new dark fantasy novel by Andy Gavin, creator of
Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter, that has received rave reviews on Amazon and
Goodreads and is FREE for two days only on Amazon Kindle (February 7th to 8th)!
Download your FREE copy here.
     Long-time readers of dark historical fantasy (Tim Powers, Guy Gavriel Kay, Katherine Kurtz) will appreciate the weaving together of mythology, occult, and religion, while younger readers and fans of HBO dramas (True Blood, Carniv├ále) or urban fantasy (Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher) will be drawn to the twisted imagination, graphic action, and romantic tension.

Cover Blurb:
     Even as the modern world pushes the supernatural aside in favor of science and steel, the old ways remain. God, demon, monster, and sorcerer alike plot to regain what was theirs. 
     1913, Salem, Massachusetts – Sarah Engelmann’s life is full of friends, books, and avoiding the pressure to choose a husband, until an ominous vision and the haunting call of an otherworldly trumpet shake her. When she stumbles across a gruesome corpse, she fears that her vision was more of a premonition. And when she sees the murdered boy moving through the crowd at an amusement park, Sarah is thrust into a dark battle she does not understand.
     With the help of Alex, an attractive Greek immigrant who knows a startling amount about the undead, Sarah sets out to uncover the truth. Their quest takes them to the factory mills of Salem, on a midnight boat ride to spy on an eerie coastal lair, and back, unexpectedly, to their own homes. What can Alex’s elderly, vampire-hunting grandfather and Sarah’s own rabbi father tell them? And what do Sarah’s continuing visions reveal?
     No less than Gabriel’s Trumpet, the tool that will announce the End of Days, is at stake, and the forces that have banded to recover it include a 900 year-old vampire, a trio of disgruntled Egyptian gods, and a demon-loving Puritan minister. At the center of this swirling cast is Sarah, who must fight a millennia-old battle against unspeakable forces, knowing the ultimate prize might be her very soul.

The Reviews Are In

"A vampire novel with actual bite." ~The Kirkus Reviews

"Mr. Gavin has brought something refreshingly new to a genre now suffused with
poorly-concealed bodice-rippers which have more in common with Fabio than
Bram Stoker: depth. His big baddies are scary, not romantic interests, and the added
religious lore is complex and engaging. Don't expect another Twilight -- the story
can get downright creepy, so be prepared for a return to the old horror sensibilities
of supernatural fiction." ~Amazon Review

"With Mr. Gavin's video-game pedigree, I was expecting something aimed squarely
at the 18-25 year old fanboy contingent; what I got in The Darkening Dream was
something wholly unexpected: A period novel with a female protagonist, a crash-
course on Judaism in the colonial years, and multi-layered series of plot arcs
featuring a crazy cast of natural and supernatural characters populating 18th
Century Colonial America." ~Amazon Review

"…A perfect blend of mystery, magic and myth. A grown-up Grimm's fairy
tale...emphasis on grim." ~Amazon Review

Read the first two sample chapters here.

Get your FREE copy of The Darkening Dream for two days only on Amazon here. No eReader or Kindle? No problem. Get free apps for your Web Browser, PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, or Android Phone."

The Darkening Dream by Andy Gavin Free
Feb. 7-8
*Disclaimer: I haven't read this book yet and don't necessarily endorse it. If there is content I should be aware of please let me know.*

Author Info: Andy Gavin
Website: All Things Andy Gavin
Twitter: AsGavin
Goodreads:Andy Gavin