Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Faces of Fear

People, these are the faces writing your next favorite paranormal thriller.

Oh yeah. Take that in, my friends. Bask in the glory of it!!

Maybe we should make an effort to be more mysterious.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Review: The Escape of Princess Madeline by Kirsten Pulioff

**My general disclaimer before all reviews: Take a look at my 

to understand how my reviews work, and the general rubric I use. I give very honest reviews, and while I'm not New York Times critic harsh, I do try to keep it real.** 

The Escape of Princess Madeline by Kirsten Pulioff

The Kingdom of Soron is known for many things, its rolling landscape, haunting history, fiery sunsets, and its beautiful princess. Princess Madeline woke on her sixteenth birthday to realize that her future had been planned out, a life of privilege, royalty, and boredom... a life with a husband and knight champion that she did not choose. Using her charm, strength and stubbornness, she defies the King, determined to keep her freedom. Freedom quickly turns to disaster as she finds herself seized by a group of wandering bandits. With the kingdom in turmoil; her Knight Champion, a group of suitors, and the exiled wizards join forces to rescue her. Follow Princess Madeline in this adventure full of twists and turns as she finds freedom and love.

My Review

 My Rating: 9/10
Cleanliness Rating: 5/5

So, disclaimer here: Kirsten is a fellow author also published by Caliburn Books, the imprint publishing company of Malachite Quills Publishing. So although she is, essentially, a "work" colleague of mine, I assure you, my review here is completely honest and forthright. That's how I roll.
As is evident by my rating (rounding up to a 5 star review on Amazon) I seriously enjoyed this book! It was kind of refreshing, actually. And I have a feeling that this will be a short review, and that's a good thing. 

I mean, what can I say? Well-written, fast-paced, and entirely appropriate for its target audience (middle grade fantasy), this short but succinct novel (novella? It was maybe a little between a novella and a novel) tells a delightful tale of a naive princess who learns the real meaning of freedom. Kirsten gives her characters a sufficient amount of depth to make them genuinely likeable, and she leaves room for much, much more to come.

It's funny because as I first started reading it, I thought, "Yikes, this kid needs a reality check." Thankfully, the author makes sure she learns that lesson (none too kindly, either) along with a few others as well. And I will stress that this is a middle grade book here, so the plot is quite straight-forward, as is the writing. But I found that the simplicity didn't bother me--I could sense that it was purposefully done, and done well at that.

And she's cranking these puppies out fast, let me tell ya! Our first books were published at the same time, but she's already got her second out and a third almost ready to publish. So the good news is if you're like me and chomping at the bit to continue the story, you can! (Unlike this author here who took a year between books. Lazy me! :p) 

But seriously. This is a great book, especially if you've got teens or even older children looking for an adventure. I can't wait to read more about Princess Madeline and her discovery of self, life, and worth.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Spooky Things Are Afoot

I'm straying from Fantasy into Paranormal here, and my am I liking it! Now, I know what you're thinking: Not much of a leap there, geek girl. And you'd be right. But there's something incredibly juicy about writing skin-crawling, heart-stopping, nightmare-inducing paranormal events that is really intriguing me. It helps that I'm writing this new book with someone else, my fellow author (and, yes, mother) Eileen Sharp. It's awesome. I only have to do half the work!

This paranormal book (which features ghosts, teens, a love interest or two, and some feuding families to name a few elements) will be the first in the Taylor Chronicles series. We aren't positive yet how many books it will end up being, but we plotted out a big portion of it all. I can't wait to present it to you readers!!

So there's my exciting update for you. You're welcome.

I don't usually like asking questions because I fear never getting answers and looking like a loser, but I'll still ask. Do you have a favorite paranormal book? Tell me!!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Review: Why She Left Us by David Dennis

**My general disclaimer before all reviews: Take a look at my 

to understand how my reviews work, and the general rubric I use. I give very honest reviews, and while I'm not New York Times critic harsh, I do try to keep it real.** 

Why She Left Us by David Dennis

It was the summer of 1985, and she was young and inexperienced, but longing to love and to be loved in return, when he entered her life. At the same time, while she was desperately seeking the love and approval of a mother who never wanted her in the first place, events totally beyond her control claimed her as their victim, leaving those she left behind unable to cope with the enormity of her absence. "WHY SHE LEFT US” is written as a series of diary entries, the events seen through the eyes of several different people. But at its center is a love story chronicling a romance that transforms the lives of two people who, for too brief a period of time, experienced the greatest happiness they had ever known.

My Review

My Rating: 8/10
Cleanliness: 3/5

Hm, how to give my thoughts on this book. I am having a hard time rating it because I find myself conflicted. David is a good writer. A very good writer. He tells this story from the perspective of five different people, and actually managed to make their voices sound different. And I respected that ability.

Honestly, as I read this somber story about a broken family, I found myself comparing it to William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. I didn't like that book at all, but I did appreciate the writing prowess needed to create it. I feel much the same way about Why She Left Us. I had some problems with it, not the least of which dealing with the completely depressing, heaviness of it all, but at the same time, I got this sense that Mr. Dennis was very devoted to these characters, and to tell them to lighten up would have been something of a disservice. 

So I don't think I like the story very much, but I have to give kudos to David for his writing style. It was well-crafted, and for a self-published novel, surprisingly well-edited. The two comments on writing that I have are these: 1.) That the romantic dialogue was a little unrealistic. (I didn't want to use the word "corny," but I'm having a hard time coming up with something more fitting. It was all very dramatic, I suppose.) 2.) These were supposed to be young people, but for the most part, they all sounded like middle-aged writers. I'm sure that was a stylistic choice, but I couldn't help but note it. I was a well-read teenager, but my journal entries did not sound like that!

If you, my fellow reader, are intrigued by drama and the darker side of human nature, then you might really like this book. I gave it a 3 on cleanliness because it talks about sexual aspects of life that, while real, probably aren't appropriate for younger audiences. This book is, more or less, an adult one. But I liked how timeless it was. The setting is in the mid-eighties, but it could have been now. I think that will serve the book well as time goes on. 

So why did I give it 8/10 if I don't really like these kinds of books? I think because I respected it. It's well-written, and the story is complex, involved, and very carefully formed. So it deserves an 8 for that, if anything else. I have a feeling that many readers would really like this book, just as so many raved over Lovely Bones, when I found it depressing and slow. And lest you think that was an insult, yes, I am comparing David's book to Lovely Bones! I think it had a similar air to it. So if you like those kinds of stories, then I encourage you to pick this one up! It's hard to find such meticulous, thought out work like this in the world of Indie books. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Bad Romance

Do you read romance like I do? I've been on a Regency Romance kick for like...five years. Seriously. Maybe it's safe to say it's my favorite brainless literature to just get lost in. I read all kinds of things, but the romance is my favorite.

So I couldn't resist cracking up and feeling no small amount of shame when my mother wrote this post about romance pet peeves--all of which I am completely guilty of. Seriously, this stuff is hilarious!


See if you agree with her romance faux pas!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Review: Bound by Blood by Tracy Jane Jackson

**My general disclaimer before all reviews: Take a look at my 
to understand how my reviews work, and the general rubric I use. I give very honest reviews, and while I'm not New York Times critic harsh, I do try to keep it real.**  

Bound by Blood by Tracy Jane Jackson
 Dr. Samantha Moore is one of the youngest and most acclaimed researchers in the world. Her specialty is blood and she has been recruited by the largest pharmaceutical company in Scotland. For what purpose she cannot begin to imagine, but in an attempt to break out of her painfully shy shell, she throws caution to the wind and leaves her family and best friend behind in Savannah.

Dr. Kade Gunnach is taking a chance hiring an outsider, but he’s desperate to find out how to help his sister. He believes the key lies in her blood, but so far, no one has found the answers. When the new researcher walks into his office, he’s unprepared for his reaction to her and the life-changing ramifications her arrival brings.

They’re drawn together by a force neither is prepared for, but Kade is holding something back. Something that could scare her away.

When Samantha learns his secret, will she run?

Will Kade be able to live with the answers he’s been desperately searching for?
 My Review
My Rating: 7/10
Cleanliness Rating: 4.5
 I wrote a shorter review for this on Amazon, but that was when I was stuck in bed after surgery with only my Kindle to keep me company. Sad days. Fortunately, things have brightened, and with an awkward back brace thing, I can once again sit on my couch with a laptop.
Moving on. I enjoyed this book. I was asked by the author to read it for review, and I was pleasantly surprised. I always round up, so on Amazon it was a 4/5 stars. So! First, of all, I thought the paranormal aspect of this story is spot on. They're like hot vampires without the blood drinking. Brilliant! Because why the heck not, right? If someone hadn't thought of this before, it's good they have now. Get that messy, gross habit out of the way, eh? They're called the Caulde Ane, and while I don't entirely understand what they are, I don't really care. They're hot. And Scottish. *fans face*
I do have a couple complaints about this book, so here it goes. It started off great. I laughed out loud and shared a line with my husband on the first few pages, which is a huge leap from some of the Indie Books I've read recently. Thank you, Tracey! Much appreciated. But then I began to notice something strange about the heroine. She's supposed to be the "youngest scientist in the world" (those words put me off a bit. Quite a claim there.) but she doesn't act like one. She fiddles around with a microscope for a little bit, but there was some serious authenticity lacking there. She was ah...well maybe a little ditzy sometimes? Innocent maybe? I don't know, it's hard to put my finger on it, but she just didn't act like the kind of strong woman it takes to go through school faster than her peers to become an accomplished hemotologist.
And on that note, we go to the overarching plot. Where did it go??? She focused on the romance (more on that later), but the "danger" and the intrigue of the driving plot just fizzled out at the end there. Jealous, scorned employee makes lame attempt at offing the girlfriend. Plot over. Ptthhhthhtt. Lame.
That's okay, because I'm hoping she hits her stride with the plot thing in the second book. And YES I will be reading the rest of the series. Despite my complaints in my review here, it was a genuinely enjoyable read. Especially confined to my bed as I was. So things she did right: Like I said, the paranormal thing was awesome. I like that it's a family of super dudes and dudettes. Spicy sequels! My fav! She is a good writer, and I do mean that genuinely. She's got some finesse that I find lacks in a lot of starting writers (ahem, myself included. It's easier to judge from the outside!), and she kept the pace really going. No boring moments in this book! You'll be hooked, I promise.
The only reason it's 7 instead of 8 stars is the propensity toward corniness in this novel. I had to gag a few times. As I mentioned earlier, the main character is a little...dithering maybe. The romance went way too fast. I understand that it was supernatural, but there's something to be said for flow, and it simply did not flow. I let it go because I wanted them to be in love anyway, but quite frankly, it was kind of tripped over. One moment this guy is fawning all over her (which, hey, what woman doesn't dream of it?) and she's rightfully wary, and one concussion later she's calling him "honey" (way too many honeys in the dialogue!) and acting like his wife. A little odd.
But Kade is sexy. Yes, yes he is. Don't worry, my husband doesn't read these reviews. 
So there you go. It was a good book. I'm interested to see what the rest of the series brings, and I encourage you to check it out! The cover picture will take you to the Amazon page so you can download it. It's free right now, so you don't have anything to lose!