SPOTLIGHT & INTERVIEW: Ava of the Gaia by Grace Nosek

Ava Fae saves the life and steals the affection of the beautiful new boy at her high school, knowing full well that saving his life may mean losing her own.
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Synopsis:

When Ava dances in the rain, nature dances with her—fallen leaves and shimmering petals swirl around her in a tornado of color, as if the Earth is lending out its crown jewels to adorn a favorite princess. Ava belongs to the ancient Order of Gaia—a secret group created by those with superhuman abilities to safeguard the vitality of the natural world. Now, another secret group, the Order of Ares, is methodically hunting down and killing the Gaia.

Isolated from the conflict and lulled by the halcyon setting of her rural Massachusetts town, Ava is content to use her powers to frolic with the local fauna and compel her teachers to recycle, until a new boy wearing the tattoo of the Ares arrives at her high school. With a pair of wickedly slanting cheekbones, a silent hurt in his blue eyes, and the Ares’ ability to control his own and others’ pheromones, Lucas is a one man siren song, pulling Ava inexorably towards him. No hapless schoolgirl to be so easily ensnared, Ava responds to the beautiful boy’s attention with un-tempered ferocity, especially after he appears to casually crush a spider in front of her. But Ava catches Lucas carefully releasing the spider outdoors. Then, after rescuing Lucas from a late night bar fight, she glances up from tending to his wounds to find a look of such trust in his eyes that it leaves her struggling to breathe. Ava must decide: are these moments of intimacy artfully contrived steps in a plan to lure her into betraying her people or can she actually work with Lucas to bring about a rapprochement between the warring orders?

About the Author:

grace-nosek-is-a-published-novelist-and-an-environmental-advocate

Dismayed at literature’s lack of strong female role models, Grace Nosek decided to create her own. Nosek wrote and published the young adult novel Ava of the Gaia, featuring “a strong female lead and an environmental twist.” Her passion for the natural world began at a young age when she would rescue worms and snails from certain death on the sidewalk.

Grace was recently featured in Business Insider as one of the most impressive students at Harvard Law School. In addition to traditional legal advocacy, Grace has created a stop motion film on food waste in America. Grace also works for MTV’s The Buried Life, a show that follows four guys on a mission to tackle their bucket list and encourage others to follow their dreams.  Check her out!

9 Questions for Grace Nosek:

1) Can you describe your book in 30 words or less?

Ava Fae delights in the appearance of an alluring new boy at her high school, until she sees the dagger tattoo on the inside of his wrist. She knows that tattoo, and it can mean only one thing—either she or the new boy will be dead by the end of the school year.

2) Who is your intended audience and why should they read this book?

It always cracked me up as a kid playing boardgames when the boxes would say something like: “for ages 8 to 99.” What happens when you turn 100? I hope that people of all ages can read the book and enjoy it. But I did write it especially with young women in mind.

3) Tell us about the cover art.  Who designed it?  Why did you go with that particular image?

The cover art was done by Sarah Carolan. She’s an amazing graphic designer based out of New York.  I wanted an image that would be simple but evocative and that’s exactly what Sarah created. I also love how colorful the cover is, because as the novel is in many ways an ode to the natural world, color pervades the book.

4) Who is your favorite character from the book and why?

My favorite character is Ava because I’ve been looking for a strong, intelligent, empathetic female protagonist in my YA novels for a long time.  Having found a dearth of such characters, I felt compelled to create my own.  However, some of the animals featured in Ava steal the spotlight from their human counterparts–if you’re an animal lover you’ll find plenty to enjoy in this book.

5)  Of course I’m asking next…who is your least favorite character?  Why is this person less likable?

Hmmm…if I told you that, it might ruin the ending of the novel.  But suffice it to say my least favorite character has a charming facade that hides malice underneath.

6)  What other books/series would you categorize yours with?  In other words, what other books/series are similar to your own?

For me, it’s more useful to compare my protagonist to others.  I think Ava’s physical prowess is similar to Katniss’ from The Hunger Games series.  She also reminds me of many of the women in Tamora Pierce’s novels.  Ava also shares the quick wit and kind heart of one of my personal favorite characters from literature–Hermione Granger.

7) What can we expect from you in the future?

Currently, I’m working on the sequel to Ava, as well as several other creative projects.

8)  How can readers contact you or find out more about your book?

Readers can reach me at genosekauthor@gmail.com.

9)  Lastly, how about a little excerpt to tantalize us?

Still a little breathless from the night’s adventures, and from the smoldering kiss Lucas had left her with before dashing off into the woods, Ava wasn’t paying her usual careful attention to the environment around her.  Just as she was stepping out into the clearing next to her farmhouse, she felt it.  The total silence of the woods.  Someone was there in the clearing with her.  Someone who must be very powerful indeed to have circumvented all of the supernatural protection surrounding the house.  She stepped quickly back into the protection of the woods, mind churning, and focused on the trees around her.  She could channel the power of the great cats to see in the dark and began to intently scan the expanse of forest around her.  Although the night air was cool, sweat dripped steadily down her back.

And then, suddenly, the slightest noise drew Ava’s attention upwards.  A dark shape was dropping quickly, straight down towards her.  Ava’s body hit the ground with a thud, but as she landed she was already trying to roll over on top of the person or thing that had dived down upon her.  Unfortunately the person, for she had discerned that it was indeed a person, just rolled with her.  Ava’s heart beat wildly, adrenaline and the energy of the soil—enhanced here, in her sacred homestead—coursed through her veins.  Her attacker had grabbed her arms while they were rolling, and they were now locked in a deadly and unmoving embrace.  But Ava had the misfortune of being stuck on her back, helpless against the ground.  Ava cursed herself for leaving her hair down—the only feminine trick she had allowed herself to use to attract Lucas—for it was now massed in front of her face, making it impossible for her to see her attacker.

She couldn’t think why the trees weren’t lashing out at this imposter; maybe they were afraid that they might hit Ava instead.  The pressure on Ava’s arms was increasing, and she had no doubt that if she slackened her grip on her attacker that he or she would soon have a death grip on her neck.  Shrieking with rage, she pushed herself slightly off the ground and rolled, slamming her opponent down into the ground as hard as she could.  As she left the ground to do her deadly combat she reached out to the soil, willing that it become as hard as stone, something that would come as a nasty surprise to the attacker when he landed on it.  The move would have left any normal human unconscious, if not dead, but it seemed only to temporarily stun Ava’s dogged attacker.  But it gave her enough time to shake herself loose from the iron grip of her mysterious hit man and to leap backwards into a fighting crouch.  As she leapt, Ava whipped the rubber band off of her wrist, caught her curly hair up into a mass, and looped it into a bun impossibly quickly, knowing that she would be the laughing stock of every Gaia in the world if they had seen her do this.  If she lived through this, Ava promised that she would never let her vanity get in the way of her survival again.

 

Author Contact Details:

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Review: The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen

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I picked this book up by accident while browsing the public library shelves, as I often do.  For me, there are a few words that, if I spot in a novel’s title, will cause me to pounce.  Some of these are: Tudor, Queen, Tower, Henry VIII…you get the idea.  This time, the word ‘Boleyn’ caught my attention.  I am a huge fan of historical fiction, especially those books loosely based on the War of the Roses, House Tudor, or Elizabethan England.  Though after skimming the back blurb of the novel, I was apprehensive on two accounts:

1)  This book was written by an American author.  Typically most historical fiction about the English monarchs I read are written by Phillippa Gregory, Alison Weir, Hilary Mantel or other British author.  That’s not to say an author born and bred outside of England cannot write about the history of England.  I just didn’t expect it.

2)  I almost re-shelved the book upon learning it is not quite historical fiction, but ‘what-if’ historical fiction.  I had never come across one of its kind before, and perhaps they are few and far between.  The events that transpire in this novel are entirely based on the false premise that Anne Boleyn never miscarried Henry VIII’s son (William, in this book).  I thought to myself, how ludicrous!  How absurd to suggest an erroneous historical fact.  How can one presume to rewrite history?  But hey, it isn’t history — it’s historical fiction.  So I checked the book out, and I’m glad I did.

This story (though so far from fact that it is nearly all fiction and no history) had me so enraptured I couldn’t put it down.  The characters are engaging, the plot and multiple subplots enticing, and Laura Andersen’s writing flows in a simple style lacking pretentiousness.  Historical fiction benefits from a direct, to-the-point writing style rather than ornate, flowery prose.  Andersen has succeeded in mastering this.

Synopsis

As I mentioned, this books is based on the premise that Anne Boleyn’s son survived.  This event saved her marriage — and her life.  The novel begins 17 years after the birth of William, the crown prince of England, while Anne acts as queen regent.  Good ol’ Henry VIII is long dead and Anne is older now — old actually, for those times.  The story however is note so much about Anne but four younger individuals and close friends:  William, his older sister Elizabeth, William’s friend Dominic Courtenay, and Elizabeth’s ward Minuette.  Minuette does stand out as a more central character, and the plots revolve around her the most.  The third person narration switches between these four characters to allow readers to see their thoughts, motives, and true feelings towards each other.

At the opening, William is a year away from being crowned King of England.  He becomes more and more aware of the burden of the position, including pressure to marry, the threat of war with France, and dealing with the Catholic Mary and her supporters — some of who may be within William’s own council.  Minuette meanwhile has attracted the attention of not just Dominic but his best friend William.  Yet Will is no longer just Dominic’s friend and Minuette’s playmate but the soon to be King of England — and very much in need of a queen.  Can Minuette defy him once he is crowned ruler of England?  Where does her loyalty life?  And what of Elizabeth and her beloved Robert Dudley?  Scandals, romance, and murder ensues.

Conclusion

Hypothetical situation or not, this story kept me interested.  I will be reading the sequel The Boleyn Deceit when it comes out this fall 2013.  If you enjoy historical fiction or if you are obsessed with the scandals of the Tudor Court, I highly suggest checking out this book.

Download it on Amazon today!

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: The Chosen by Andrea Buginsky

The Chosen

New Edition!

The Chosen Cover Final

Expanded to include even more action, romance, and adventure!

The Chosen has been revised and expanded to give it a more polished look. You’ll love all of the new additions, including:

  • Two new characters essential to The Chosen
  • A light romance story
  • More action scenes

All of this topped off with a beautiful brand new cover.

About the Book:

Halli is a shy, young dwarf who has no idea of her true calling. When the evil Prince Gastle sets out to detroy the world of Phantasma, Queen Laurali of the Elves comes to tell Halli she’s a Holy Paladin with the power to heal, and will join The Chosen, a group of brave warriors being sent to defeat the evil beast and save Phantasma. Will Halli be accepted by her group, and be able to keep them alive through their adventures? Will the evil Prince Gastle be defeated, freeing Phantasma from his destruction? Only time will tell.

Excerpt:

“Halli, you have a wonderful calling.  You are a Holy Paladin, with powers that can heal the sick, and even raise the dead in certain cases.  Holy Paladins are very rare, and very coveted.  To protect you, we agreed to come to Drumple to live with the other dwarves, so we could blend in, and appear to be no different than them.  We all planned on telling you of your calling when you were done with school, but as Queen Laurali has said, Prince Gastle’s attacks have made the day we tell you come sooner than we anticipated.”

Halli sat staring at her mother as she heard the tale.  She knew all about The Castle of the Elves, it’s subjects, Priestesses and Holy Paladins from her studies and readings.  She grew up hearing stories about them all.  She absorbed everything she could find and read about them.  It was as though somewhere inside her, she knew she was a part of it all.  But hearing what her mother was telling her was surreal.  She started to shake her head.

“This can’t be,” she whispered.  “You can’t be serious.  How can I possibly be what you say I am?  You know me, Mom.  I’m not strong and powerful.  I’m shy, I’m quiet, I like to be alone and not surrounded by a lot of people.  I have problems facing confrontations, and do everything I can to avoid them.”

Queen Laurali smiled at Halli’s description of herself.

“Halli, everything you just said are the classic traits of Holy Paladins, from a certain point of view.  They don’t get involved in conflicts themselves, but rather keep those that are involved alive from a distance.  They don’t get directly involved in confrontations and arguments.  They think things through and come up with solutions that will work for everyone.  In essence, they keep the peace within the groups with which they’re involved.  From a distance, this can make them seem quiet and shy, but anyone who knows them knows it is their quiet ways that keep this peace.”

Halli stared at Queen Laurali as she listened to her, and again began to shake her head.

“I don’t think that’s how I am.  I am shy, I do avoid confrontation.  And even if what you’re saying is true, how can I possibly do anything to help the fight against Prince Gastle?  I’m just a student!”

“Halli, this is your destiny,” Queen Laurali assured her.  “This is what you’re meant to do.  I know it’s a shock to hear all of this, but it’s your birthright.”

The Chosen is available at Amazon and Smashwords

About the Author:

My HeadshotAndrea Buginsky is a freelance writer and author. “The Chosen” was her first book, and was followed by “My Open Heart,” an autobiography about growing up with heart disease. “Nature’s Unbalance” is the second story in THE CHOSEN series. Andrea plans to write more in the series. She’s already done with the first draft of book 3 and has a concept for book 4. You can find Andrea on her website, Andi’s Realm. Her books are available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Remember to sign up for Andrea’s newsletter to stay up-to-date on all of her exciting events.

 

 

 

BLOG TOUR: Spotlight, Review and Giveaway with Lawrence Fisher

“Kill Me Now!” is a book about Lawrence, a man in his late 40s, dodging bullets deep in the dating battlefield while searching for THE ONE, his soulmate, not Neo from the Matrix.

Kill me now

Synopsis:

Kill Me Now! is about Lawrence, a man in his late 40s dodging bullets deep in the dating battlefield while searching for the ONE. In Kill Me Now! Lawrence tries to decode the signals of his enigmatic opponent, often resulting in his hasty retreat. Why is she resting her head on her hand?

Is she bored? Or is she interested? He finds himself in many humorous situations where he has no idea what he is doing and no idea how to maneuver through the skirmish. Trapped in the epicenter of the courting conflict, the motivating thought that sustains him is his strong belief that somewhere out there, she awaits. Join Lawrence as he painfully stumbles through the mating minefield in search for his SOULMATE while silently wishing that he was elsewhere. Be warned, you will laugh!

Excerpt:

February 2: A Steep Learning Curve

No date again, woe is me! How many of us have sat at home wondering why we don’t have a date? How many of us have gone to a bar to look for a girl, found someone interesting and just froze? What should we say to her? What is a good pick up line? Questions, questions, questions! Help!

Those of us who know how to use the internet instinctively say, “Google it!” In the search tab, you type in, “how to pick up girls” and hope for the best. You then receive a plethora of websites offering you information from the best of the best. THE experts! Or so you assume. One site says there are plenty of people who are good at picking up girls, but cannot explain their art. If they cannot explain, then what good are they to us? Do they describe which girls are they trying to pick up? What kind of girls were these, real or imaginary?

One night, I decided to try a line from one of those websites. Me, myself and I, the holy trio, decided to go to a bar. A stunning brunette caught my attention as she eyed the crowd. Somehow she managed to avoid eye contact with me. I walked up to the lady, took out my iPhone, and hoped it impressed her.

I read off my iPhone, “Baby, I’m no Fred Flintstone but I can make your Bedrock.” OK, I agree with you. That is a lame line.

She leaned toward me seductively and said, “Go Google again!” Was she being rude to me or not? I still have no idea. I think she had learned the true art of diplomacy, which is the ability to tell someone to go to hell so that he actually looks forward to the trip.

It is very important to make a good first impression. The first impression is vital. It is difficult to correct a bad first impression. Oh, the pressure, the pressure. There is only one chance to do it right!

Going up to a girl at a bar saying, “What is a girl like you doing in a place like this?” will probably earn you a smirk. Not only is the line antiquated, but it seems to work only in the movies, and sometimes not even there. The only time I tried that line, the girl said it was her bar and that I should not refer to it as “such a place”.

Oh, what should I do? What should I do?

The internet provides contradicting information. What’s new? When we search for something in our field of expertise, we understand whether it sounds right or not. But if our understanding is close to zero, how can we define what is right and what is not?

Somehow I need to hone my non-existent skills. Somehow I need more practice. Somehow I need experienced friends.

Looking at my friends and hearing their stories, I wonder, does experience really help?

Oh, crap! Kill me now!

Review:   owl-book-hiowl-book-hiowl-book-hiowl-book-hi 

When I started reading this book, I hadn’t read any background about the author.  After a few chapters of laughing over Lawrence’s dating woes, I assumed he was an American.  Hearing similar stories  (if not articulated with the hilarity Fisher possesses) of dating nightmares from friends all living nearby in small town New Jersey, I simply assumed Lawrence must live — well, around the corner.  Because how could dating be as onerous and terrible in other parts of the world?

Well, I was shocked when I checked out Fisher’s website and saw that he lived not in America–not even in Canada, but in Israel!  What?  I couldn’t believe it.  But perhaps that’s my own ignorance, my belief in the erroneous notion that life is better somewhere else.  If anything, Lawrence Fisher has taught me that is not true, and no matter where you live in the world, entering the dating world single and middle-aged is tough, tiring, and shockingly hurtful at times.

But it’s not all terrible.  Fisher has managed to transform his humiliating, arduous experiences into something positive.  A book, that is nothing short of laugh-out-loud moments and overall amusement in which Lawrence takes us through horrifying encounter after encounter with women all over his country ranging from the ugly to the insane to the just plain rude.

It’s hard not to feel Fisher’s pain and suffering through his experiences, but his determination is endearing and should inspire any single middle-aged men in his situation, which I expect is more people than I can imagine.  I found it particularly easy to connect to Fisher after reading his introduction, which explains what events had unfolded in his life to trigger him to suck it up and start searching for his soul mate.  After all, nobody wants to grow old all alone.

In conclusion, I truly believe this book could be picked up and enjoyed by just about anyone.  If you are looking especially for a comedic read, buy a copy of Kill Me Now and laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of Fisher’s dating experiences as I did.  Bravo, Lawrence Fisher, for sharing what other people are too embarrassed to.

About the Author:

LawrenceLawrence has been out on countless dates in search of his soulmate. Like most people he has found himself in many strange situations. However, he found that he could see the humor in each situation. Lawrence is a single guy in his late 40s. He has worked in computers and education for about 25 years and also holds a personal fitness trainer certification. He currently lives in Tel Aviv, Israel. Lawrence Fisher spends his days writing software tutorials and his nights in the endless search for the ONE. Will he find her? Or will there be book two out?

Author Contact Details:

website_buttonhttp://KillMeNow.org

Facebookhttp://facebook.com/KMNow

twitterhttp://twitter.com/lbigfoot

goodreadshttp://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15712738-kill-me-now

amazon-buttonhttp://goo.gl/i3clZ

giveaway

Lawrence is giving away two copies of Kill Me Now on his blog tour!  Click on ‘Giveaway’ above to enter!
 
 

BLOG TOUR: Spotlight on Author T.G. Ayer

T.G. Ayer is the author of several paranormal novels including the The Valkyrie Series.  Skin Deep is Book One in The Dark World Novels, her new series.

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About The Novel:

Title: SKIN DEEP

Series: The DARKWORLD Series

Volume: 1

Genre: Urban Fantasy – NA

Publication Date: 30th APRIL 2013

Format E-Book : B00CKGOKY4 http://amzn.to/Yi5rg4

Format: Paperback

ISBN-13:  978-1484836705 http://amzn.to/18sBHPs

Publisher: Infinite Ink

Pages: 390

Add on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13604857-skin-deep 

Synopsis:

Panther Shape-shifter Kailin Odel just wants to be normal. Leaving her clan, and her Alpha responsibilities, to live with her grandmother in Chicago had been the best thing for her. Only then did she discover her ability to track and kill the soul sucking undead creatures called Wraiths. Now she protected the humans, and had something to be proud of.

But, when she discovers the body of a murdered shape shifter, Kailin has to come to terms with the reality that her own kind are just as vulnerable as the humans.

The closer Kailin gets to the killer the more she has to face the intricacies of her people. When the time comes can she accept who and what her real purpose is?

Excerpt:

Icy pain sliced through my bones, the muscles of my arms, and the flesh of my back. My spine and thighs rippled, shifted. Changing.

Damn. Too fast.

I spared a rueful glance at my new leather pants. And ran faster.

Had to make it to the Rehab Center a few blocks away. I ran, my speed super-human, my need super-charged, covering ground fast enough to make it to safety before my Panther took over.

I took the corner of the street behind the Center at breakneck speed, and headed for the nearest of the gaping holes pockmarking the rusted fence.

The wind changed before I stepped off the curb. My ears peaked and I skidded to a halt, panting slightly, my backpack thumping against my side. The scream of tires on blacktop echoed on the night air, shattering the silence as it grew ever louder.

Closer.

Followed in tandem by the whining wail of sirens. A battered sedan scorched down the street, suspended on the turn on only two wheels. The angry whip of charred rubber spiked the air. Horizontal again, the car jumped the curb and skidded sideways, avoiding a collision with the fence by mere inches.

I shrank into the shadows at my back, expelling a long, stale breath. My Panther, still confined within my body, bucked and jerked, craving release.

I let her surface.

A little.

For now, super-sight would be welcome. Unlike the ability to run like the wind while still in my Human skin, tapping into my Panther’s sight required a partial transformation—a risk I needed to take as my gut screamed danger.

Adrenalin surged, different again from the calm fervor of my wraith hunts. I blinked. Heat nipped at my corneas as I released my Panther sight—enough to give my eyes feline vision.

Sight, which sliced deep into the black nothing hugging the sidewalk, transformed my eyes into a solid Panther emerald. For the moment, plain old Kailin Odel was back to being Kailin of the Clan Panthera.

My cat sight adjusted, focused. The blackness surrounding the darkened vehicle changed depth and color, became lighter, clearer.

Someone shoved the rear door open, and I cringed as it creaked and complained. The occupants remained shrouded in the shadows of the vehicle’s interior. Something large, long and heavy hit the ground with a dull thunk. Then the sedan revved as unseen sirens drew closer, louder, and it spun around and skidded off the curb.

The battered car roared off, a police cruiser close on its tail with sirens screaming blue murder. It didn’t take a genius to figure out the parcel had to be awfully incriminating, for them to chuck it into the garden in such a flaming hurry.

My nostrils twitched at the stench of exhaust smoke, and my heart thumped as I waited to cross the street. I flicked a furtive glance at the dull red glow of taillights disappearing into the darkness. A breeze skimmed the sidewalk, ruffling my hair, and I hurried across the street as the sounds of sirens faded in the distance. I paused a few meters from the bundle, released my Panther’s nose and sniffed. Whatever I’d expected to scent on the air, it wasn’t the tang of copper drifting toward me—strong, rich and intoxicating.

Blood. Fresh blood. A luscious odor, laced with tendrils of the familiar.

I moved closer, my mind warring with my emotions. This was no bundle of rags, or some stolen junk those thugs had thrown away, but a living being. The blood surely meant the person now lying on the sidewalk needed medical attention.

I stood over the bundle, the cloying odor of the blood filling my nostrils, and hesitated in a moment of doubt and fear.

Now or never.

I took a deep breath and crouched beside the silent form. My hand quivered as I reached out and touched the scratchy, ragged fabric covering the shoulder of the silent figure. At first it resisted my tug, stiff against my touch, but one more gentle urging turned him toward me.

I gasped, my throat closing on the sound. My heel caught as I pulled away, and I staggered backward as hot horror burned through my veins. The face glistened, bloody and mangled. Raw muscles and ligaments lay exposed, bare. A low moan of horror echoed around me. Chills streaked up my spine when I realized the stricken sound had originated from my own throat. The familiar richness of him clouded my mind, clogging my throat and drugging my senses.

A Skinwalker.

My throat spasmed, silencing a shriek as he stared at me. His breath whispered—shallow, irregular, the sound ragged as he labored in his final moments. He gripped with desperation to the disappearing threads which held him to this mortal earth.

His face held my gaze, and somewhere behind ribs of ice my heart clenched, threatening to implode. My own face stared back at me, reflected from within eyes as blue as oceans. Eyes filled with excruciating pain and desperate fear. He didn’t speak, just studied me for a few moments with those glorious eyes.

Recognition. Gratitude. Relief.

Then… release.

Life flickered and sputtered out of his beautiful eyes—eyes unable to close even after his soul departed his mortal body. Eyes stark and ghastly within a face flayed of every inch of its skin.

Mere seconds had passed, although I would have sworn it had been hours. Screeching tires again interrupted my horror, and the sedan skidded beside me before I could do much more than scramble away from the body. The killers had managed to lose the cops, and now they’d returned to retrieve the body.

They hadn’t bargained on having a witness.

The cold-cocking of guns set my body on fire.

It also did something worse. With mortal fear gripping me, my imminent Change refused to take second place anymore. My body churned the fear and my Panther grasped at the visceral power of the adrenalin in my veins.

I ran.

A gunshot echoed around the garden, the sound ping-ponging off the aging brick walls of the surrounding apartment buildings.

I gasped as a blast of searing pain slammed into me, as a bullet buried itself deep within my shoulder.

About The Author:

tee ayer

I have been a writer from the time I was old enough to recognise that reading was a doorway into my imagination. Poetry was my first foray into the art of the written word. Books were my best friends, my escape, my haven. I am essentially a recluse but this part of my personality is impossible to practise given I have two teenage daughters, who are actually my friends, my tea-makers, my confidantes… I am blessed with a husband who has left me for golf. It’s a fair trade as I have left him for writing. We are both passionate supporters of each other’s loves – it works wonderfully…

My heart is currently broken in two. One half resides in South Africa where my old roots still remain, and my heart still longs for the endless beaches and the smell of moist soil after a summer downpour. My love for Ma Afrika will never fade. The other half of me has been transplanted to the Land of the Long White Cloud. The land of the Taniwha, beautiful Maraes, and volcanoes. The land of green, pure beauty that truly inspires. And because I am so torn between these two lands – I shall forever remain cross-eyed.

Author Contact Details:

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Review: So Many Reasons Why (So Many Reasons #1) by Missy Johnson

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First, I’d like to thank Missy Johnson for gifting the book to me.  The central character of this story has been the victim of a brutal sexual assault at the age of 10.  Tragedy is an essential component of fiction; without it we’d be forced to read fluff chick lit all the time.  Yet it is a form of drama that is not always handled correctly.  Some authors delve too deep towards the depressing, a tactic that will lose readers fast.  But Missy Johnson avoided this path.  She’s not only a fluid writer but she makes it evident this story is about the protagonist’s healing process and road to recovery.

A Brief Synopsis

Twenty year old Emma is not your typical college student living in New York City.  She suffered a brutal attack at the tender age of 10 and bears not only permanent physical wounds but also psychological damage.  Her two best friends have created a support system for her, but it’s not enough to fight off her severe agoraphobia and the recurring nightmares from the incident.  When an email to her professor asking about an assignment turns into a flirtatious banter, Emma begins to forget that her attacker has been released on parole.  As the beautiful and hotly pursued professor Simon gets to know Emma, she wonders if he’s just the one to help her forget her past and finally move on.

Now Let’s Break It Down

I’ll admit I was uneasy reading this book in the beginning because of the subject matter.  I’m sure others feel this way too:  When I hear about rape incidents in the news, it disturbs me more than the stray murder here and there.  I never can comprehend why any one in their right mind would want to attack anyone — especially a young child — in this way.  But that’s just it.  They’re not in their right mind.  Usually they are a sociopath with a psychological disorder, like the protagonist’s attacker in this book.

I felt very immersed in this story from the beginning.  Missy Johnson painted a very realistic portrait of what it’s like to be a sexual assault victim tormented years after the incident.  Emma did not experience a typical assault; she was held captive for three long days, the reason she suffers from agoraphobia — an anxiety disorder in which the sufferer perceives their environment as one where they are unable to escape or get help.  For this reason she never leaves her apartment, a restriction that seriously impedes her college experience and life in general.

Emma undergoes a huge transformation in this book, and (without trying to give away any details) I was surprised by how brave she became near the end.  The book ends with a cliffhanger, but it’s not one of those ‘sudden’ ones that comes out of nowhere.  It  sets up for the sequel nicely.

One thing I thought was a bit strange was how fast the romance between Emma and Simon progressed.  I was expecting it to be more drawn out with Emma taking more time to get close to Simon, provided her traumatic experience.  I think the story would have been a bit stronger and more suspenseful if there were more tense, dramatic, frustrating moments between the two before they became obviously a couple.

Conclusion

This is a fantastic professor-student romance mixed with tragedy.  The story flowed almost seamlessly, excluding a handful of grammatical errors and some unusual slang. In the end it’s a beautiful story of hope and moving on from anguish towards contentment.

Order this book on Amazon.

Review: Seeing Red by Sidney Halston

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I couldn’t decide between three or four owl rating for this book, as you can see.  About 75% of the way through I was almost set on a four owl rating, but then the cliffhanger at the end threw me off a bit along with the words “Coming Soon — Book 2 of Seeing Red Series.”  That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this book.  It just didn’t expect this book to turn into a series, and I can’t conceive what the sequel would be about.  Still, this was without a doubt a page turner, filled with suspense, intrigue, and LOTS of sexual tension.

A Brief Synopsis:

Jillian Stone, Oliver and Alexander Jacobs are an unusual group of 22-year-olds.  They were raised on a deserted island under the guardianship of a woman named Helen.  After twelve years they’re rescued and go their separate ways, only to be reunited years later at the funeral of their beloved Helen.  A love triangle erupts between them.  Jillian struggles with the decision of which of the twins she should be with, all the while trying to comprehend her psychic abilities that resurfaced from her time living on the island.  At the same time, a mystery unravels through Helen’s old journals.  Jill begins to uncover why she ended up on the island in the first place and whether she’s in danger now back in the real world.

Now Let’s Break It Down

Despite its categorization under ‘paranormal romance’ on Amazon, I personally would define Seeing Red as a romance with a mystery twist.  Unlike most romance novels, there are two main story lines in this book:  a love triangle (and for a hot second a love square) plus an added level of mystery, distinguishing this book from your typical love story.  Each story line integrates a level of suspense into the novel.  The intense love triangle is one reason you want to keep reading — to find out who Jillian will choose.  The perpetual question going through my head was, is it going to be Oliver?  Alexander?  Halston sure knows how to build sexual tension well.  There are so many hot and cold moments between the characters, especially Jillian and Alexander.

There isn’t really one main character in this story, as it rotates between three points of view:  Jillian and the twins Oliver and Alexander.  Despite this, Jillian still feels like the protagonist as she is the target of every male character’s affections and the individual the mystery revolves around.  That said, I loved every character except for hers.  Especially next to her kind, generous, selfless, good-natured southern belle of a roommate Heather, Jillian comes across as very selfish woman.  She’s entirely too comfortable leading on three men at the same time, two of whom genuinely worship her.

This is when the love triangle starts to get on my nerves as much as it keeps me hooked.  At halfway through the book, Jill’s mind had gone back and forth between the guys so often she began to drive me mad.  Can anyone be more indecisive?  Or dissect a situation more?  Just pick a guy already and take everyone out of their misery!  But still I kept reading through Jill’s long-winded rants and rationalizations because in the end, she does pick a man.  The reader isn’t left hanging — in regards to the romantic story line.

My only other complaint aside from Jill’s frustrating character is how slow the book starts off.  The first few chapters feel more like a memoir simply because there’s a lot of telling over showing, a lot of listing “Then this, then that.”  This type of writing is almost unavoidable when catching the reader up on a character’s background, or to convey long periods of time passing.  Once the book gets going however, the pace picks up and the slow start is history.

Conclusion

I truly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good romance and occasional mystery.  Sure there are a few typos and the writing isn’t too eloquent at times but that’s not why you would read this book anyway. If that’s the reading experience you seek, I suggest you pick up a Brontë novel.

Review: Curse of the Beast (Curse of the Beast #1) by Ashley Lavering

13479898I am not giving this book a rating.  That’s not because I didn’t think it deserved even One Owl, but because I only made it 40% through the book.  It didn’t seem fair to give the book a bad rating since I did not reach the halfway mark — so I’m simply giving it none.

I’m a bit shocked by the abundance of 5 star reviews for this YA fantasy fiction.  That goes to show you how subjective writing is.  Remember:  We book bloggers give our opinions based on past reading experience but it’s also a matter of personal taste.  My unenthusiasm towards this book is not a matter of writing ability — on the contrary, I believe the author to be very talented in that regard.  What didn’t appeal to me is the author’s modern spin on the classic  tale of Beauty and the Beast.  Which is kind of funny, because according to Goodreads  and Amazon that’s exactly what other readers liked — no, loved about the book.

I still enjoyed parts of the book.  In the beginning, our 17-year-old protagonist Tayla is dealing with more pressures than your average teen.  What with the responsibility of taking care of her cousins and mentally unstable aunt along with dealing with the stresses of moving every few months I could appreciate Tayla’s teenage angst.  When Kyle, the hot, popular guy at her new school is suddenly fawning over her, I think I’m happy for her, and she deserves the attention she never had.

Perhaps because I just came off of reading a handsomely executed werewolf fantasy fiction (My Wolf’s Bane)  I wasn’t into this author’s portrayal of the all-empowering, controlling alpha male Kyle.   But not only that, I couldn’t understand why almost the first half of the book consists of Tayla crying and running away from Kyle who I believed to be the ‘Beast.’  But no, suddenly she meets the real Beast through a wacky, drawn out exchange in the woods during which he shoots a magic lightening bolt into her stomach.  The description of the wolf-man alone baffled me — I couldn’t picture this Beast at all.  Is it a wolf?  Is it an exceptionally hairy man?   This first interaction between them was just so strange and I couldn’t get into the book after that. Even knowing full well the story of Beauty in the Beast, I didn’t know where the story was going nor did I care.

All that said, I give The Curse of the Beast a non-rating because I did not finish the story and you never know when a book might redeem itself later on.  Perhaps I missed out on a great rising conflict.  All the same, life is short  and I’m moving on to the next one.

Review: My Wolf’s Bane (Shapes of Autumn Book 1) by Veronica Blade

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You know that feeling of disappointment when you’ve finished reading a really exceptional book?  That’s what happened to me with My Wolf’s Bane.  I read this book in about 2 1/2 days, and that says a lot since I am a slow reader and usually read 2-3 books simultaneously.  Within the YA paranormal romance genre, this book excels.  For me (and for many other Goodreads reviewers) it’s one of the best, and I’ll tell you why.

For one thing, the characters in My Wolf’s Bane aren’t annoying but actually well-developed and different from one another.  One thing that kills my attention span is when all the characters in a novel start melding together as the same person, not one of them distinct from the next.  Autumn is the sarcastic, attractive high-school aged protagonist who at first is preparing to unceremoniously dump her popular douche-bag of a boyfriend, Daniel.  As Daniel begins harassing Autumn, she becomes increasingly more attracted to Zach — the mysterious hot new guy at school.

When a change appears in Daniel that causes both Zach and Autumn to believe he’s off his meds (or worse), eventually a feud breaks out between the two boys.  Zach is suddenly at Autumn’s side night and day as her protector.  Zach proves himself a complex character by giving Autumn the cold shoulder despite his obsession over her safety and her obvious interest in him.  Unable to read the feelings of this gorgeous boy who she’s coming to realize is anything but human, Autumn struggles internally with facing the reality that she has acquired her own supernatural abilities.

Enough plot synopsis.  It should already be apparent that along with formulating interesting characters, Veronica Blade can weave details together into a seamless and captivating storyline.  This is no easy feat.  I find often times when reading any sub genre of fiction, I subconsciously delete sentences or phrases in my head that are unnecessary.  Those works of writing needed more editing.  My Wolf’s Bane was not one of those works.  The story flowed and was without the awkward, extra wording that  slows a story down, making the reader all too aware of the writer’s inability to edit their own work.

In regards to plot — again, I loved it.  There is a ton of YA paranormal romance about werewolves.  It feels overdone, and I’m always wary of any fantasy fiction I pick up these days involving vampires, werewolves, or shifters.  But I enjoyed this book so much that I didn’t mind it.  Veronica Blade has described a human world in which werewolves exist that is actually believable.  This is how I imagine werewolves to act and exist among us humans, with a hierarchy similar to the packs in the HBO show Trueblood.

My only complaint about this book is the very last paragraph.  It’s a pet peeve of mine when the author ends a book in a way that is almost a sale pitch for the sequel.  I just don’t think it’s needed.  If the reader liked the book, as I did, they’re likely to read the sequel.  There’s no need to set up the next book with a series of questions like, “What’s going to happen with ____?” or “Will so and so character do _____?”  If you really want that to be the last thing your reader sees, then put it on the next page as an afterthought but don’t make it part of the book.  It gives the impression the author is trying too hard and with a book this good, there’s really no need.

On that note, I truly hope I’ve convinced people to read this excellent book.  You’ll find it hard to put down, I assure you.

Review: Coexist (Keegan’s Chronicles #1) by Julia Crane

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The purpose of my blog is to seek out books with little to no reviews (based on Amazon and Goodreads) and determine if they deserve more attention.  However I did not apply this logic when choosing to download Coexist (Keegan’s Chronicles #1) by Julia Crane.  The book — the first of three in the series, which also inspired a few spin-off series — had plenty of reviews already on both websites.  Most were four and five star, though there were a significant amount of one and two star reviews.  I was intrigued by the split opinion, and by the premise of elves living in modern times.  To top it off the ebook was free, so I thought I’d see what the fuss was about.

Young adult paranormal romance is one of the most written genres, which creates a struggle for authors to create a unique plot and carry a distinct voice.  Unfortunately, this book reminded me of many others in its category.  What bothered me more than this was the central character of this series.  Keegan is the teenage elf protagonist living in a nondescript American suburb with her elvish family, all creatures of the ‘light.’  Her father is the leader of the good ‘light’ elves; throughout the book, he and Keegan’s genius younger brother along with the rest of her relatives train and prepare for the fast approaching Great Battle between the light and dark elves.

But Keegan couldn’t care less about preparing for the war between good and evil.  She’s too busy shopping with her friends, buying clothes and having fun in general.  To put it bluntly, Keegan is a spoiled brat with no concern for anyone but herself.  Oh–maybe for her ‘chosen,’ the male elf who is destined to be her significant other from the age of eighteen when they meet for the rest of their lives.  When Keegan isn’t whining to her parents (who are, mind you, still busy preparing for the Great Battle) about getting a custom made SUV for her birthday or about how she absolutely cannot wait to meet her ‘chosen,’ she’s busy going to Starbucks and the mall with her friends, all things she ‘loves.’  Oh–she also ‘loves’ the feel of the wind on her face.  Just FYI.

Aside from the lead character, the one major flaw in the book was the scene where Keegan and Rourke, her chosen, meet for the first time.  As much as I find the protagonist annoying, the key moment when the chosen pair meet could have been way better.  For preceding chapters, everything is built up so that you expect this suspenseful, intense initial interaction.  Instead the meeting lasts for barely a page.  One minute Keegan and Rourke are complete strangers and the next they’re spinning around stupidly in a field, falling down and laughing.  It comes off corny instead of romantic.  They were irritating and I as the reader was disappointed.

Recall this review has two owls, not one.  Why is that?  Because I enjoyed Rourke’s character, as much as he reminds me of Edward Cullen from Twilight.  As Keegan’s chosen and the love interest, Rourke is a brave, honest, caring, protective elf warrior — basically he has the polar opposite personality of Keegan.  He lives by his morals, and he’s just all around the ideal love interest in this type of YA fantasy fiction.   As much as I like Rourke’s character, I was equally frustrated with his scenes because he constantly is preoccupied with protecting oblivious Keegan who doesn’t deserve to be with such a good person.

Another reason I gave this book two owls is the battle sequence.  I thought these last few chapters were the most captivating.  Without giving too much away, the dramatic events that ensue in these scenes set up the sequel nicely.  Not that I’m going to read the rest of the trilogy.   But for everyone else I’ll say this:  if you don’t think the protagonist’s shallow, bratty, somewhat obnoxious character traits would annoy you then perhaps you would enjoy this book.  I’ll let you decide.  For me,  I know if I dislike the central character of a book, chances are I’m not going to love it.