Saturday, July 30, 2011

Summer Sizzles with Imajin Books Scavenger Hunt

'Summer Sizzles with Imajin Books' this August: Scavenger Hunt

This summer, celebrate the opening of the innovative Canadian publishing company, IMAJIN BOOKS. Our huge summer event began on July 1, 2011 and we rewarded readers and book reviewers, our way to say "Thank you" for reading our books.

This August, the fun continues with an exciting Summer Sizzler Scavenger Hunt.

This event runs Aug 1 - August 31. Participants have a chance to win some fabulous prizes, including a Kindle ereader with wi-fi.

To enter:
1. Check out our Scavenger host list and click on each blog link.
2. Scavenge through these blogs until you find our Scavenger Hunt badge/graphic. You'll find the graphic at our website, so you'll know what to look for.
3. Email us at with "Scavenger Hunt" in subject line and the website link to the page with the badge you found, your name, mailing address and phone number, plus the title of the ebook you would like to receive if your name is drawn.
4. Each correct entry counts as an extra entry into our prize draws, so the more you find the badge and send us those links, the more chances you have of winning the Kindle and other prizes.

• 31 winners will receive one ebook of their choice from our published titles.
• 4 winners will received a signed novel (trade paperback) by authors Alison Bruce, Melodie Campbell, Cherish D'Angelo and Cheryl Kaye Tardif.
• Grand Prize: Kindle with Wi-Fi ($140 value): One grand prize winner (Kindle) to be selected from all eligible entries. Additional prizes may be added later.

This contest runs Aug 1 to Aug 31. Winners will be notified by email by September 3rd.

Entrant must be 18 to enter and be a Canadian or US citizen. No purchase necessary. No substitution, no refunds, no cash value. The grand prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded. Void where prohibited by law.

Imajin Books authors, their families and any subcontracted associates of Imajin Books are excluded from this contest.

Imajin Books is an innovative, unique Canadian publisher with an eye on exciting, ever-changing trends and opportunities in publishing that opened its 'doors' to authors worldwide in late February 2011. They promise great reads by wonderful authors, with ebooks priced under $5 and trade paperbacks under $18.

From The future of reading is ebooks, and the future is NOW!
Friday, July 29, 2011

Review, Scavenger Hunt & Giveaway: Chosen by Paula Bradley

Chosen (Line of Descent, Book 1)
by Paula Bradley
Release Date: July 5, 2011
2011 Fiction Studio Books
Softcover Edition; 333 Pages
ISBN: 978-193655810-0
Genre: Fiction
Source: Review Copy from Meryl L. Moss Media Relations (Jai Retter)

 3.5 / 5 Stars

Shy and introverted Mariah Carpenter has concealed a hidden talent from childhood that, according to her mother, would brand her a freak.  Now a fateful encounter has caused her secret skill - an extraordinary psychic ability - to become greatly enhanced.  Suddently, she has a purpose for her gift, as her vision gives her the ability to find kidnapped children telepathically.

But is this a blesssing or a curse?  When Mariah's fourth Finding is filmed by the FBI and the recording is stolen and sold to a broadcast journalist, Mariah's worst nightmare becomes a reality.  She is acclaimed worldwide as a saint and messenger from God - and vilified as the Antichrist whose powers must be quelled.  Meanwhile, another government agency has it own covert agendy for Mariah...

My Thoughts
Chosen was an interesting novel and definitely was not what I thought it was going to be.  It's very deceptive in its description, and after a number of twists and turns, and some suspicions on my part, it led in a far different direction from what I originally thought, and I was pleasantly surprised by the result.

Mariah was a woman looking to redefine herself and discover a reason to live.  After an attempted suicide attempt, she discovers solace in her new church and in the warmth of the people who surround her there; as the months go by, she learns to love herself again and begins to enjoy life again and truly feels like she has a unique place and a role to play.  But Mariah is not like others in that she has a huge secret, a secret that comes out one night, and she needs those around her to help her get through it.  Mariah has psychic abilities that define the odds, and since her suicide attempt, these psychic abilities have grown stronger and more powerful.  Mariah even has the urge to hurt other through these powers and it is this conundrum with which she has to deal as every episode comes upon her.  I found Mariah to be a very complex character and enjoyed her tremendously.  Even though there was a dark side to her powers, and you start to question whether she will use them for good or for ill-purposes, you can't help but like her and wish her well in these situations.  It also made her more vulnerable and more human as she develops her powers in the sense that she is a person who has problems and issues to deal with that are similar to yours but are also very different.

While I enjoyed the storyline quite a bit, I did find it somewhat disjointed and it seemed to be more of set-up for the following books in the series.  While the scenes that involved the kidnapped children were interesting, and the aftermath of dealing with Mariah's emotions were intriguing, I'm not sure if there was enough follow-up or development as I was left feeling like there should have been something more.  There was also a lot of plotlines throughout the novel, but the main plotline was not fully developed and I wasn't altogether certain of what exactly the main point of the novel was all about. 

Chosen was a fun, interesting read, but there was something definitely missing in the overall plot in the sense that I never fully understood exactly what the main plotline was trying to tell me, and I definitely did not feel like there was a resolution to this novel.  I would definitely like to see a bit more development in the secondary characters as they are important to Mariah's storyline, and I would like to see a bit more organization with regards to the many different plotlines in this novel.  Otherwise, I would recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for an interesting twist in the psychic phenomenon and is ready for an encounter with something a little bit different.

Curling Up by the Fire's Chosen Scavenger Hunt Excerpt

Mariah heard a soft sucking sound: the last thing she saw was the man bathed in a blue-white glow. And then he disappeared. 


Two of my lucky readers have the chance to win a copy of Chosen by Paula Bradley, courtesy of Fiction Studio Books. 
  • Open to residents of US/Canada
  • Please leave a comment below with your email address.  Answer the following question:  What is your favourite alien / government conspiracy film / book?
  • Contest ends 15 August, 2011 at 11:59 pm.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Get Ready, Get Set, It's Pittacus Lore Time!!

It’s coming August 23rd!


In the beginning they were a group of nine. Nine aliens who left their home planet of Lorien when it fell under attack by the evil Mogadorians, who scattered on Earth and went into hiding, who look like ordinary teenagers, but who have extraordinary skills. The Mogadorians killed Number One, Number Two, and Number Three. They tried to kill Number Four, John Smith ...and failed.

Following a massive battle at the end of I AM NUMBER FOUR that proved that the Mogadorians have found him at last, John joined forces with Number Six. Now the fate of Lorien—and Earth— rests in the hands of these two teens.

Already John and Six have inspired a fellow Lorien—Marina, Number Seven—who has been hiding in Spain. She’s been following the news of what’s happening in the US, and she’s certain it’s the sign she’s been waiting for.

We are excited to announce that THE POWER OF SIX, the sequel to the #1 New York Times best selling book, I AM NUMBER FOUR, will be available everywhere on August 23rd. Following a massive battle at the end of I AM NUMBER FOUR that proved the Mogadorians have found him at last, John joined forces with Number Six. Now the fate of Lorien—and Earth— rests in the hands of these two teens.

To get a taste of what's to come, check out the novella-length digital original I AM NUMBER FOUR: The Lost Files: Six’s Story, available NOW exclusively as an ebook. Taking place before the adventures of I AM NUMBER FOUR, the novella is the riveting story of Six’s harrowing capture and eventual escape from the Mogadorians.


In the beginning they were a group of nine. Nine aliens who left their home planet of Lorien when it fell under attack by the evil Mogadorians; nine who scattered on Earth and went into hiding; nine who live among us and look like ordinary teenagers, but who have extraordinary skills. The Mogadorians found and killed Numbers One, Two, and Three. Then they found Number Six. They followed her, they hunted her down—and they caught her.

Taking place before the adventures of the New York Times bestseller I AM NUMBER FOUR, I AM NUMBER FOUR: The Lost Files: Six’s Story is the riveting story of Six’s harrowing capture and eventual escape from the Mogadorians. Perfectly timed to get fans excited for THE POWER OF SIX and custom-made for the those who loved the I AM NUMBER FOUR ebook, I AM NUMBER FOUR: The Lost Files: Six’s Story is a novella-length digital original available exclusively as an ebook.
Sneak a peek at Six’s story with this exciting excerpt and get ready for the upcoming release of THE POWER OF SIX:


Katarina says there is more than one way to hide.

Before we came down here to Mexico, we lived in a suburb of Denver. My name then was Sheila, a name I hate even more than my current name, Kelly. We lived there for two years, and I wore barrettes in my hair and pink rubber bracelets on my wrists, like all the other girls at my school. I had sleepovers with some of
them, the girls I called “my friends.” I went to school during the school year, and in the summer I went to a swimmers’ camp at the YMCA. I liked my friends and the life we had there okay, but I had already been moved around by my CĂȘpan Katarina enough to know that it wasn’t going to be permanent. I knew it wasn’t my real life.

My real life took place in our basement, where Katarina and I did combat training. By day, it was an ordinary suburban rec room, with a big comfy couch and a TV in one corner and a Ping-Pong table in the other. By night, it was a well-stocked combat training gym, with hanging bags, floor mats, weapons, and even a makeshift pommel horse.

In public, Katarina played the part of my mother, claiming that her “husband” and my “father” had been killed in a car accident when I was an infant. Our names, our lives, our stories were all fictions, identities for me and Katarina to hide behind. But those identities allowed us to live out in the open. Acting normal.

Blending in: that was one way of hiding.

But we slipped up. To this day I can remember our conversation as we drove away from Denver, headed to Mexico for no other reason than we’d never been there, both of us trying to figure out how exactly we’d blown our cover. Something I said to my friend Eliza had contradicted something Katarina had said to Eliza’s
mother. Before Denver we’d lived in Nova Scotia for a cold, cold winter, but as I remembered it, our story, the lie we’d agreed to tell, was that we’d lived in Boston before Denver. Katarina remembered differently, and claimed Tallahassee as our previous home. Then Eliza told her mother and that’s when people started to get suspicious.

It was hardly a calamitous exposure. We had no immediate reason to believe our slip would raise the kind of suspicion that could attract the Mogadorians to our location. But our life had gone sour there, and Katarina figured we’d been there long enough as it was.

So we moved yet again.

The sun is bright and hard in Puerto Blanco, the air impossibly dry. Katarina and I make no attempt to blend in with the other residents, Mexican farmers and their children. Our only regular contact with the locals is our once-a-week trip into town to buy essentials at the small store. We are the only whites for many miles, and though we both speak good Spanish, there’s no confusing us for natives of the place. To our neighbors, we are the gringas, strange white recluses.

“Sometimes you can hide just as effectively by sticking out,” Katarina says.

She appears to be right. We have been here almost a year and we haven’t been bothered once. We lead a lonely but ordered life in a sprawling, single-level shack tucked between two big patches of farmland. We wake up with the sun, and before eating or showering Katarina has me run drills in the backyard: running up
and down a small hill, doing calisthenics, and practicing tai chi. We take advantage of the two relatively cool hours of morning.

Morning drills are followed by a light breakfast, then three hours of studies: languages, world history, and whatever other subjects Katarina can dig up from the internet. She says her teaching method and subject matter are “eclectic.” I don’t know what that word means, but I’m just grateful for the variety. Katarina is a quiet, thoughtful woman, and though she’s the closest thing I have to a mother, she’s very different from me.

Studies are probably the highlight of her day. I prefer drills.

After studies it’s back out into the blazing sun, where the heat makes me dizzy enough that I can almost hallucinate my imagined enemies. I do battle with straw men: shooting them with arrows, stabbing them with knives, or simply pummeling them with my bare fists. But half-blind from the sun, I see them as Mogadorians, and I relish the chance to tear them to pieces. Katarina says even though I am only thirteen years old, I’m so agile and so strong I could easily take down even a well-trained adult.

One of the nice things about living in Puerto Blanco is that I don’t have to hide my skills. Back in Denver, whether swimming at the Y or just playing on the street, I always had to hold back, to keep myself from revealing the superior speed and strength that Katarina’s training regimen has resulted in. We keep to ourselves out here, away from the eyes of others, so I don’t have to hide.

Today is Sunday, so our afternoon drills are short, only an hour. I am shadowboxing with Katarina in the backyard, and I can feel her eagerness to quit: her moves are halfhearted, she’s squinting against the sun, and she looks tired. I love training and could go all day, but out of deference to her I suggest we call it a day.

“Oh, I suppose we could finish early,” she says. I grin privately, allowing her to think I’m the tired one. We go inside and Katarina pours us two tall glasses of agua fresca, our customary Sunday treat. The fan is blowing full force in our humble shack’s living room. Katarina boots up her various computers while I kick off my dirty, sweat-filled fighting boots and collapse to the floor. I stretch my arms to keep them from knotting up, then swing them to the bookshelf in the corner and pull out a tall stack of the board
games we keep there. Risk, Stratego, Othello. Katarina has tried to interest me in games like Life and Monopoly, saying it wouldn’t hurt to be “well-rounded.” But those games never held my interest. Katarina got the hint, and now we only play combat and strategy games. Risk is my favorite, and since we finished early today I think Katarina will agree to playing it even though it’s a longer game than the others.


Katarina is at her desk chair, pivoting from one screen to the next.

“Risk of what?” she asks absently.

I laugh, then shake the box near her head. She doesn’t look up from the screens, but the sound of all those pieces rattling around inside the box is enough for her to get it.

“Oh,” she says. “Sure.”

I set up the board. Without asking, I divvy up the armies into hers and mine, and begin placing them all across the game’s map. We’ve played this game so much I don’t need to ask her which countries she’d like to claim, or which territories she’d like to fortify. She always chooses the U.S. and Asia. I happily place her
pieces on those territories, knowing that from my more easily defended territories I will quickly grow armies strong enough to crush hers.

I’m so absorbed in setting up the game I don’t even notice Katarina’s silence, her absorption. It is only when I crack my neck loudly and she neglects to scold me for it—“Please don’t,” she usually says, squeamish about the sound it makes—that I look up and see her, staring openmouthed at one of her monitors.

“Kat?” I ask.

She’s silent.

I get up from the floor, stepping across the game board to join her at her desk. It is only then that I see what has so completely captured her attention. A breaking news item about some kind of explosion on a bus in England.

I groan.

Katarina is always checking the internet and the news for mysterious deaths. Deaths that could be the work of the Mogadorians. Deaths that could mean the second member of the Garde has been defeated. She’s been doing it since we came to Earth, and I’ve grown frustrated with the doom-and-gloom of it.

Besides, it’s not like it did us any good the first time.

I was nine years old, living in Nova Scotia with Katarina. Our training room there was in the attic. Katarina had retired from training for the day, but I still had energy to burn, and was doing moores and spindles on the pommel horse alone when I suddenly felt a blast of scorching pain on my ankle. I lost my balance and came crashing down to the mat, clutching my ankle and screaming in pain.

My first scar. It meant that the Mogadorians had killed Number One, the first of the Garde. And for all of Katarina’s web scouring, it had caught us both completely unaware.

We waited on pins and needles for weeks after, expecting a second death and a second scar to follow in short order. But it didn’t come. I think Katarina is still coiled, anxious, ready to spring. But three years have passed—almost a quarter of my whole life—and it’s just not something I think about much.

I step between her and the monitor. “It’s Sunday. Game time.”

“Please, Kelly.” She says my most recent alias with a certain stiffness. I know I will always be Six to her. In my heart, too. These aliases I use are just shells, they’re not who I really am. I’m sure back on Lorien I had a name, a real name, not just a number. But that’s so far back, and I’ve had so many names since then, that I can’t remember what it was.

Six is my true name. Six is who I am.

Katarina bats me aside, eager to read more details.

We’ve lost so many game days to news alerts like this. And they never turn out to be anything. They’re just ordinary tragedies.

Earth, I’ve come to discover, has no shortage of tragedies.

“Nope. It’s just a bus crash. We’re playing a game.” I pull at her arms, eager for her to relax. She looks so tired and worried, I know she could use the break.

She holds firm. “It’s a bus explosion. And apparently,” she says, pulling away to read from the screen, “the conflict is ongoing.”

“The conflict always is,” I say, rolling my eyes. “Come on.”

She shakes her head, giving one of her frazzled laughs. “Okay,” she says. “Fine.”

Katarina pulls herself away from the monitors, sitting on the floor by the game. It takes all my strength not to lick my chops at her upcoming defeat: I always win at Risk.

I get down beside her, on my knees.

“You’re right, Kelly,” she says, allowing herself to grin. “I needn’t panic over every little thing—”

One of the monitors on Katarina’s desk lets out a sudden ding! One of her alerts. Her computers are programmed to scan for unusual news reports, blog posts, even notable shifts in global weather—all sifting for possible news of the Garde.

“Oh come on,” I say.

But Katarina is already off the floor and back at the desk, scrolling and clicking from link to link once again.

“Fine,” I say, annoyed. “But I’m showing no mercy when the game begins.”

Suddenly Katarina is silent, stopped cold by something she’s found.

I get up off the floor and step over the board, making my way to the monitor.

I look at the screen.

It is not, as I’d imagined, a news report from England. It is a simple, anonymous blog post. Just a few haunting, tantalizing words:

“Nine, now eight. Are the rest of you out there?”

THE POWER OF SIX, by Pittacus Lore, is the second installment in the thrilling, action-packed Lorien Legacies series that launched with the #1 New York Times bestseller I AM NUMBER FOUR, and the heart-pounding suspense has never been higher. Now John Smith is joining forces with some of his lost companions as they battle against the alien force bent on eliminating them.

For more insight into Sarah's mind and to see what she really thought of John when she first met him, sign up for Pittacus Lore's AuthorTracker at and get entries from her journal sent to you each week leading up to the release of THE POWER OF SIX on August 23rd.

Review: Other Eyes by Barbara D'Amato

Other Eyes
by Barbara D'Amato
Release Date: January 18, 2011
2011 Forge Books
Hardcover Edition; 375 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-7653-2606-5
Genre: Fiction Suspense / Thriller
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

3 / 5 Stars

Blue Eriksen is a famous forensic archaeologist based at Northwestern University. She and her team are traveling the globe, testing mummies to research the use of hallucinogens in the development of ancient religions. Armed with evidence from ancient peoples, Blue has become convinced that psilocybin—a hallucinogen derived from mushrooms—can prevent or cure drug addiction. She hopes to develop testing and treatment centers.

Leeuwarden Ltd. is the cover name for a deeply secret international organization that facilitates the production, delivery, and sale of illegal drugs worldwide, much as OPEC facilitates the sale of oil. Leeuwarden considers Blue a long-term threat and sends Felix Hacker—one of their enforcers—to kill her. Blue has no idea she's being stalked and prepares for a dig high in the Peruvian mountains...

My Thoughts
A young baby crawls onto Interstate 90 and creates a huge pile-up, fascinated by the sound and the noise of the traffic, nobody knowing where he came from or to whom he belongs.  A teenager saves the day and enters a world in which he has little experience, opening his eyes to a world he little imagined.  I have to honestly admit that Barbara D'Amato certainly knows how to create introductions that grip the reader and draw them into her novels in a way that is often very creative and highly original.  It's a shame that the rest of the novel did not live up to the gripping introduction.

I have read quite a few of Barbara D'Amato's novels and really enjoyed them tremendously.  She has a way of drawing the reader in, and keeping them in suspense and on edge throughout, but unfortunately, while Other Eyes was interesting and fun to read, the usual intensity and suspense were definitely lacking and there was little in the way of a solid storyline in terms of what we come to expect from Ms. D'Amato's novels.  It took quite a while to set up the story in terms of connecting the baby to Blue Eriksen, the principal character, and Blue herself didn't realize she was in danger until almost at the end of the novel.  Blue travels around the world in pursuit of her archaelogical findings, never leaving her son alone, but is never cognizant of the fact she is in danger, even when others are killed around her.  The story is broken up by other storylines that, while interesting, just didn't add that much suspense to the main storyline.  These drug cartels are worried that Blue's work might produce an antidote to drug addiction and cut into their profits, but nothing really came out of the storyline other than she was pursued by a shady character and almost killed several times by someone we become familiar with through the narrative. 

I think the only thing that really kept me reading was the interesting facts about the culture and history that were mentioned throughout the novel.  As a history buff, I was fascinated by the descriptions of early Peruvian and other ancient cultures that were described and learned quite a bit.  As a suspense / thriller novel, it left quite a bit to be desired, never fulfilled its expectations, and I was left pretty disappointed with the end result.  Even the rather interesting introduction never built up steam and could have been left out with little impact on the story. 

Blue herself is someone that I enjoyed as a character, but maybe because I have always wanted to be an archaeologist and I find her work to be fascinating.  Other than that, the characters didn't stand out for me or appeal to me in any sense of the word.  Even Drake, womanizer that he is, didn't really make me feel anything.  The focus was more on the culture and history rather than on character development and I always felt distant from them rather than empathetic even when things went wrong. 

Barbara D'Amato writes beautifully and explores a lot of the ancient cultures as well as modern day cultures that is rather fascinating.  That is probably the only thing that really kept me reading as I felt there was way too much time spent on the archaeology of things rather than on the plot and the suspense, which fell rather short in my estimation.  Many of the storylines would build up, only to lose their threads over and over again, and it was pretty frustrating on the reader's part.  For fans of suspense / thriller novels, I would be hesitant to recommend this novel, but if you enjoy cultural history and archaeology, you may find this interesting.

WOW: Forever Knight & Beautifully Haunted

Having just had the pleasure of hosting Sherry Soule on my blog last week, and having had the chance to review the first novel in her new series, Spellbound, I am going to focus on two of her novels that will be releasing this fall.  So for this week's Waiting On Wednesday, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, here are some books I am looking forward to reading by Sherry Soule.

Forever Knight
by Sherry Soule
Release Date: October 2011

Some loves are meant to be…others are cursed.

Elizabeth Blackburn doesn’t believe in fate or the supernatural until she moves into Cliffside Manor and begins having nightmares about a woman who was murdered in the house.

Determined to unlock secrets that have remained hidden for centuries, Elizabeth is plunged into an otherworldly mystery that not even she can explain away, not to mention, her uncontrollable attraction to the former owner, Dorian Knight.

As the history of the Knight family curse begins to unravel, tensions heighten and old secrets turn deadly. Even though Dorian wants nothing to do with Elizabeth and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go...even if it kills her.

Beautifully Haunted (Spellbound, Book 2)
by Sherry Soule
Release Date: November 30, 2011

Shiloh Ravenwolf isn’t your typical teenager. Even though, she loves to shop, enjoys gossiping with her friends, and thinks her parents are totally uncool. Deep down, Shiloh knows she isn’t normal. There’s the gift of Sight (yes, she can see dead people), the magical powers—oh!—and the demon slaying.

Let’s not forget her supernatural training with her uber cool mentor Evans, where Shiloh resolves to learn more about the dark curse inhabiting Whispering Pines. When she embarks on a dangerous journey to seek out the town’s insidious origins, the mystery of her family’s past deepens, and she is again thrust into Ravenhurst Manor’s nightmare world.

To complicate things, she's torn between two hotties, Trent and Dante. And Shiloh must face her biggest challenge yet—and it’s not deciding which crush to take to the prom.

No, she must decide which boy will live and which one will die…

Interview with Steve DeWinter

Curling Up By The Fire is pleased to welcome Steve DeWinter, author of Inherit the Throne, who is here to discuss the release of his new novel as well as a few questions about his writing and any projects on which he is working.  Here is a synopsis of Inherit the Throne:

Some lines should never be crossed.

Living under a new identity in the tiny Northwestern tourist town at the base of Mount Hood, Melissa thought she had finally escaped her past. That is until an assassin tries to kill her and forces her back into a treacherous shadow world she vowed never to return.

That same night an unmanned robotic SUV slams into the limousine of the Vice President of the United States and detonates with several hundred pounds of explosives. Melissa soon discovers that the attack on the Vice President and the attempt on her own life are related.

And time is running out to find out who wants her dead and why she alone holds the key to saving the President of the United States.

1) To start off, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
I love to read. And I love to write the type of stories I love to read even more. Growing up in California, I've been spoiled by good weather my whole life. But that never stopped me from sitting indoors for hours on end to read yet another spy or science fiction novel. Now that I am an adult in California, I still spend very little time outside as I am mostly indoors writing or reading. I did venture outside yesterday to the pool for about an hour; and I have the sunburn to prove it.

2) Can you tell us a little about your novel, Inherit the Throne?
Melissa Stone, an ex-special forces soldier, is having trouble adjusting to civilian life. Most likely because she is hiding from some very dangrous people and is forced to live under an alias. Unfortunately, despite the identity change, an assassin finds her and tries to kill her. Fortunately, she is one kick-butt heroine who, not easily mind you, dispaches the assassin and just barely escapes with her life. She soon discovers that the attempt on her life and the recent assassination attempt on the Vice President are related. What she doesn't know is why. And that is our story.

3) What inspired you to write Inherit the Throne?  How much research was involved in the writing?
I enjoy reading stories that show the shadowy side of life. Not necessarily the darker side, but the secret organizations that operate in the shadows. My main character, Melissa, is put on the defensive early on in the story as one of these shadow organizations is trying to eliminate her because of what she knows. And finding out why she, of all people, is so dangerous to such a powerful group is half the fun in writing a thriller story like this. I do a lot of research while I am writing. Mostly about locations or existing organizations. I want to sprinkle as much of "reality" into my writing so that the "what-if" scenario is not too far-fetched and becomes more of a "this could happen" story.

4) What was your greatest challenge while writing this novel?  The premise is very chilling.
It is chilling. I wanted to put everyone in the U.S., and quite possibly the world, in danger. And replacing the President of the United States with someone who isn't working in the interest of the people is something very dangerous indeed. My greatest challenge was to keep the story grounded in realism while still pushing the action over-the-top. Earlier drafts even introduced a supernatural element into the story, but it changed the whole flavor of the novel and I stripped it back out.

5) In this novel, we are introduced to some very interesting and intriguing characters.  Who was the most fun to write about?  Which character presented the biggest challenge? Are any of your characters modelled of anyone you know in particular?
I love villains! And the better the villain, the better the story, I always say. I work as much on their backstory as I do the main character. Conventional wisdom says that without conflict, there is no story. I tend to agree and my villains are given the same care and depth as my main character. I really don't have any trouble writing characters. Even minor characters, that may only show up in a single chapter of the entire novel, are given a complete backstory. Whether that story is given to the reader or not depends on the story I am telling, but I give all my characters some depth to make it easier on myself as a writer. If the character is "real", then I only need to write down how they respond to each sitatuion as it happens rather than force my own personality onto each character. All the characters in my books are people I met for the first time while writing them. I really don't model any of my characters after real people, but for some reason, I always picture myself as the villain. In the first few drafts of Inherit The Throne, I had even named my uber bad guy Steve.

6) What are 3 things that are 'must haves' when you write? Do you have any writing rituals?
I must have snacks, I must have music, and I must have wind. The snacks are usually chips or cholcolate, the music is usually heavy metal while I am writing the action scenes and the wind is provided by an electric fan. I just love to feel a breeze on me, even while indoors. I really don't have any rituals around writing since I still have to work a full time (non-writing) job to support my writing habit. I just feel lucky to carve whatever writing time I can out of my already hectic schedule. Someday I hope to be able to call myself a “stay-at-home” writer and then I can collect the eccentric qualities that I will need if I plan to call myself a full time author.

7) Can you share with us any projects that you are currently working on or plans for the future?
I am currently working on Book 2 (of 6) of my Hired Guns novelette series. Hired Guns follows the adventures of Joe and Kat, two Las Vegas private investigators. But from the very start, they become involved in something that is biggar than anything they have ever done before. This will test their resolve, and their very moral fiber. When all is said and done, I don’t think Joe and Kat will ever be the same. Even though I am the writer, I can't wait to see what happens next. I think I know, but then my villain surprises me with how far his reach really extends while at the same time he struggles to keep his true identity a secret from Kat.

8) Favorite authors?
My favorite author is Robert Ludlum. He is the reason I wanted to become an author. But as much as I enjoyed writing contemporay thrillers, my fingers are itching to write a full-on supernatural action-thriller. I’m going to have to scratch that itch soon.

9) What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I am usually thinking about what I am going to write when I get in front of the keyboard. The old adage of "Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life" is very true for me. I love writing. And when I am not actively writing, my brain is still working out plot and story of my current project. I’m just glad I don’t operate heavy machinery in my “day job” or somebody might get hurt.

10) Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?
I am often asked where I get my ideas. I don't have a specific answer to that question other than I get inspiration from all around me. The most mundane things have often generated a seed for the most wild story ideas. One thing that I make time to do is place every seed of a story into my story nursery where I feed it and allow it to grow into a more fully developed story. It is from the story nursery that I get the stories worthy of being told.  

About Steve DeWinter
If you like super-charged thrillers that merge high-tech gadgetry with ancient mythology and pit the outcast against powerful clandestine organizations, you are among friends. My goal as a writer is to transport you to fresh and exciting worlds that not only takes you on a white-knuckle ride but leaves you hungry for more when you finally turn that last page and reluctantly slam shut the back cover of the book. This is my promise to you the reader. I will continue to satisfy your never-ending desire for more. So keep reading! When one story ends, another begins.

Steve’s debut thriller is Inherit The Throne.

You can visit his website at Connect with Steve on Twitter at!/stevedw, on Facebook at and Myspace at
Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Guest Post: Steve DeWinter

Steve DeWinter: Becoming a Published Indie Author
by Steve DeWinter

How did I get to become a published author? In the words of the ever immortal crooner, "I did it myyyyyyy waaaaaaayyyyyy."

Well, not exactly my way. I followed a path that had been carved out for me by others braver and wiser than I. But follow it I did and I was able to self-publish my debut novel, Inherit The Throne, directly to the Kindle, Nook and other eReaders (at the awesome price of $2.99) as well as make it available in print (still just as awesome at $9.99).

Two months before taking the ultimate leap, and ending my active search for an agent, I sat down with another writer friend of mine over lunch and told him, "I'm going to self-publish my book."

We both had completed manuscripts and were in the midst of the agent query/rejection phase of our writing careers and neither of us saw anything wrong with that. It was just part of the game that all published authors must endure. He looked at me mid-chew, thought for a moment, and replied, "Good for you. I'm going to keep looking for an agent and get my book picked up by a publisher."

We then discussed the many pros and cons of going it alone in a world that seemed to be dominated by the New York publishing houses. If this were 2001, I would have agreed with anyone that the minuses of self-publishing far outweighed the pluses.

But this was 2011, and the world of publishing had shifted; practically overnight.

I was no longer worried that the old ways of becoming a published author were a thing of the past. My worry was that I was too late getting into the new way of publishing. Early adopters in any industry usually are the first to show any real success. Think of Amway. You would have wanted to get in on that the first year it started, not the tenth year. The wildly successful millionaires in Amway were made up mostly by the early adopters who started at the top of the pyramid as it grew under them.

So I decided to become as early an adopter as possible into the self-publishing world of eBooks. Maybe not early enough to become the next Amanda Hocking or John Locke, but now that I have crossed over, I am never looking back.

I am currently hard at work on book three of my six book novelette series, Hired Guns, as well as a non-fiction book on the craft of story structure. I am self-publishing those as well. So, am I a hard and fast self-pubber? Nah. I haven’t given up on the search for an agent or a publisher (often regarded as the Holy Grail for authors), but they get far less of my attention than they did before I was actively publishing books.

About the author
I was born and grew up loving to read. But enough about me; you’re here for my books. If you like super-charged thrillers that merge high-tech gadgetry with ancient mythology and pit the outcast against powerful
clandestine organizations, you are among friends.

My goal as a writer is to transport you to fresh and exciting worlds that not only take you on a white-knuckle ride but leave you hungry for more when you finally turn that last page and reluctantly slam shut the back cover of the book.

This is my promise to you the reader.
I will continue to satisfy your never-ending desire for more. So keep reading!
When one story ends, another begins.

To find out more about Steve, visit

Inherit the Throne
Some lines should never be crossed. Living under a new identity in the tiny Northwestern tourist town at the base of Mount Hood, Melissa thought she had finally escaped her past. That is until an assassin tries to kill her and forces her back into a treacherous shadow world she vowed never to return.

That same night an unmanned robotic SUV slams into the limousine of the Vice President of the United States and detonates with several hundred pounds of explosives. Melissa soon discovers that the attack on the Vice President and the attempt on her own life are related.

And time is running out to find out who wants her dead and why she alone holds the key to saving the President of the United States.

For a review on Inherit the Throne, please click here.

Book Highlights & Contest: Scott NIcholson's Ghost Box

Today I am highlighting Scott Nicholson's omnibus Ghost Box: Six Supernatural Novels.  A collection of six supernatural novels, including the Stoker Award finalist and Mystery Guild selection The Red Church, as well as Drummer Boy, Speed Dating with the Dead, Transparent Lovers, Burial to Follow, and Forever Never Ends, this is a fantastic collection for anyone looking for some chills and some downright creep factor.

THE RED CHURCH: (Stoker Award finalist, alternate selection of the Mystery Guild Book Club): A boy and a sheriff must solve the mystery of a haunted Appalachian church when a strange preacher returns to town.

DRUMMER BOY: One misfit kid is all that stands between a small Appalachian town and a ghostly Civil War troop.

BURIAL TO FOLLOW: Roby Snow must help Jacob Ridgehorn find his eternal rest--or else.

FOREVER NEVER ENDS: When a mysterious entity invades a rural mountain community, an unlikely trio must team up to face it before its infection spreads.

TRANSPARENT LOVERS: Private investigator Richard Steele must solve his most difficult case ever--his own murder--while torn between women on opposite sides of the grave.

SPEED DATING WITH THE DEAD: A paranormal conference in the Appalachian Mountain's most haunted hotel goes haywire when ghost hunters accidentally stir up demons.


One of my lucky readers has a chance to win a $25 GC to Amazon as well as an e-copy of Ghost Box: Six Supernatural Novels.

Open internationally.

Ends 31st August, 2011 at 11:59 pm.

Mandatory Entry: Leave a comment below with your email address.

Additional Entries:
1) Follow by GFC, Twitter, etc. (1 point)
2) Purchase any one of Scott's novels and receive 10 extra points in the contest.  Just email me a copy of the receipt (icewoman96 at gmail dot com).  Please make sure you include your user name so I can match it with your mandatory entry. Check below for the links to where you can purchase Scott's novels.

Scott Nicholson Page at
Scott Nicholson Page at
Scott Nicholson Page at Barnes&Noble (
Scott Nicholson Page at ReaderStore (Sony)
Scott Nicholson Page at Chapters (Kobo)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Review: Inherit the Throne by Steve DeWinter

Inherit the Throne
by Steve DeWinter
Release Date: February 3, 2011
2011 CreateSpace
E-Book Edition; 276 Pages
ISBN: 978-1456403249
Genre: Fiction / Thriller
Source: Review copy from Pump Up You Book!: Virtual Book Publicity Tours

4 / 5 Stars

Some lines should never be crossed. Living under a new identity in the tiny Northwestern tourist town at the base of Mount Hood, Melissa thought she had finally escaped her past. That is until an assassin tries to kill her and forces her back into a treacherous shadow world she vowed never to return.

That same night an unmanned robotic SUV slams into the limousine of the Vice President of the United States and detonates with several hundred pounds of explosives. Melissa soon discovers that the attack on the Vice President and the attempt on her own life are related.

And time is running out to find out who wants her dead and why she alone holds the key to saving the President of the United States.

My Thoughts
Inherit the Throne was a fast, fun, enjoyable read that was comprised of non-stop action on pretty much every page, and a slew of characters that kept the action interesting and somewhat suspenseful.  With a few surprises that caught me off guard, and a delightful new heroine, this novel was a pleasant surprise.

Once I was able to suspend some disbelief in the storyline as it seemed a little over the top at times, I really enjoyed the multiple plot lines as they converged together into a whole.  There was a bit of technical language used in the novel, but as I am married to a military man, I was able to gloss over those with ease; however, someone with little technical knowledge might get caught up in it and find it somewhat confusing.  The pacing from one event to another is quick, the chapters being fairly short, and the story told from multiple perspectives.  Yet, it all works and I think it's because the author does not seem to get involved in a lot of unimportant details that deter one from the real action at hand and focuses in on what the characters are doing and saying in the moment, giving us just enough detail to help us figure out what is really going on.  Or at least think we figured it all out.

Another reason why everything works out so well is the characters.  There is not a lot of time spent on character development and you don't get too involved in the moral implications of what the characters are doing.  While this can often be a negative in most novels, it seemed to work in this novel, and I sense that there is build up for a lot of character development to happen in future novels rather than this one; this one was to set up events and characters for future novels.  I will admit that the chapters I enjoyed the most were those that involved Melissa, the main character, and I found her to be gutsy and courageous.  We learned only a little about her past and about a mysterious woman named 'Hannah' who seemed to be controlling everything in Melissa's life as well as the events that forced Melissa out of hiding.  I enjoyed the struggle she had with herself when she had to choose between someone really important in her life and the President of United States as it made her seem more human and vulnerable.  There is definitely more to her character than meets the eye and what we saw in this novel.

This was a complicated and intriguing story and the concept of being watched digitally all of the time certainly gave me pause.  To have the government recording every phone call, and to be watched all of the time would be creepy and frightening.  And to have this knowledge in the wrong hands could be very deadly.  And knowing who to trust with this knowledge, especially if the wrong person is chosen, could have devastating effects on everybody.  I love how the President talks about how we are so focused on preventing harm from international sources that we often forget to look clearly at those who are with us daily as potential threats and we should always be on guard. 

What I would liked to have seen was a little more substance to some of the chapters and to some of the relationships between the characters as I felt sometimes like there was something lacking or I was missing something.  I even went back a couple of times and re-read some chapters because I thought I missed something important relating to one of the characters or to one of the events.  While I enjoyed the complicated and intriguing storyline, a little more information would definitely have helped, or a more developed storyline would have helped.  Sometimes characters just appeared (or disappeared), with little explanation, and I was left wondering how Melissa knew them or how they related to the story. 

Inherit the Throne was an interesting, quick read that had some intriguing plot twists, although it could be predictable at times as well.  I enjoyed the characters, although there was not a lot of character development, and particularly enjoyed the ending as it definitely set up the novel as a type of series.  If you are looking for a thriller with a lot of action and suspense, then I would recommend Inherit the Throne.
Friday, July 22, 2011

Review: Bellfield Hall by Anna Dean

Bellfield Hall: Or, The Deductions of Miss Dido Kent (Dido Kent #1)
by Anna Dean
Release Date: February 2, 2010
2010 Minotaur Books
Hardcover Edition; 300 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-312-56294-6
Genre: Historical Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
(Previously released in the U.K. in 2008)

3.5 / 5 Stars

On a mild September evening at the country manot of wealthy landowner Sir Edgar Montague, an engagement ball is being thrown for his son, Richard, and his elegant fiancee, Catherine.  Midway through a dance, a man materializes at Richard's shoulder and appears to communicate nothing to him.  Richard is visibly upset, and, bringing his fiancee out onto the terrace, he abruptly breaks off the engagement.  The next morning he has vanished.  Distraught with worry, Catherine summons her aunt, Miss Dido Kent, to Bellfield to help track down her fiance.

But as Dido arrives to comfort her niece, the residents of Bellfield suffet yet another shock: the body of a murdered woman is found on the property.  Coud the two strange incidents be related?

My Thoughts
While I enjoyed reading Bellfield Hall and found the characters to be somewhat interesting, I found the mystery to be fairly predictable and overall, I really thought there was a lot of room to develop the characters and the storyline.  I found the daily life of the characters during the time period to be rather interesting, but at the same time, I sometimes felt like some of the storylines were thrown in for no reason than to give Dido an opportunity to discover more information and it felt a little contrived rather than flowing smoothly from scene to scene.

Miss Dido Kent is one of the bright lights in this novel, as her sly, witty, and bold manner makes her interesting and unconventional during this time period.  More than once, remarks were made about her "satirical" observational skills, and through her we get a sense of the author's views on entailment and inheritances, women, marriage, and spinsterhood during this time period.  While she has the appearance of being smart and clever, she did miss some rather obvious clues to the mystery that did make me want to shake her a few times as they were so obvious.  I was also shaking my head over the storyline with the Colonel and the servant boy because I couldn't understand how Dido just didn't understand the implications of what was happening with that scenario and I wondered if that was the author's way of showing the readers how innocent some of the women were during this time.  And yet, the author is very ambiguous when it comes to women and their knowledge and this is demonstrated with the games the two Harris girls are playing against the men in order to avoid marriage.  I don't want to say any more about the situation or I will give away an important plot point, but in one sense the author is showing how intelligent and knowledgeable women are when it comes to society and in another, she is showing that women are fairly naive and it's a bit of a conundrum.

Ms. Dean's writing is very engaging and I enjoyed the letter writing to Dido's sister that is found in many chapters, but for me, the big issue was the lack of difficulty in solving the mystery.  I guessed fairly early on what the big secret was for Richard, and it took some of the pleasure of reading away from the novel because I could guess what was going to happen.  I prefer a mystery that has more twists and turns in it, where I am confused and really don't know what is going on, or who is guilty.  I also had an issue with the bit of 'romance' that developped toward the end, although I did see it coming, even though the man involved was not around very much.  I was a little disappointed in this romance and would have liked to have seen a bit more development in that regard, but perhaps there will be more in the next novel.

Bellfield was an enjoyable, if predictable, beginning to a new series featuring an engaging, witty, and satyrical new character.  I really feel like this series has a lot of room to grow and a lot of potential, and I look forward to learning more about the characters as the series develops.  Look for more adventures of Miss Dido Kent in Gentleman of Fortune and Women of Consequence.  I, for one, am definitely going to be reading the next few books in this series.
Thursday, July 21, 2011

BTT: Re-reading Those Oldies, but Goodies

What’s the first book that you ever read more than once? (I’m assuming there’s at least one.) What book have you read the most times? And–how many?

To be honest, I don't really remember the first book I would have re-read the first time.  I would have to go way back to my formative years and those years are kind of a blurr when it comes to reading.  I do remember my mom and dad telling me they used to read me Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and a few of the other fairy tales every single night until my parents had the books pretty much memorized.  Knowing what it was like reading to my own children, I'm sure they would have liked to have hidden those books at some point during the year, but being loyal and loving, they continued to read the books over and over again.  I am pretty sure my parents were quite ecstatic when I learned to read on my own however. 
The first edition is similar to one I had as a child, while the second one is similar to one I have now for my own children.  Same exciting stories that I continue to enjoy today.

When I could read on my own, some of the books I definitely do remember re-reading are any of the Nancy Drew mysteries, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the Bobbsey Twin mysteries, Black Beauty, and the Little House on the Prairie series.  While I devoured hundreds of other books, for some reason I always returned to some of my old favourites in between.  It was almost cathartic, like coming home, and I would re-read some of these books so often I could quote from them.  I don't know why I did it, but I did, and that was that.  I still have these books, some of them quite worn down, on my shelf, and I will never part with them. I was in complete awe of Nancy Drew and her lifestyle.  She could do anything, was brave and courageous, had a cool boyfriend and cool girlfriends, and solved some pretty interesting mysteries.  I wanted to be just like her when I grew older, travel everywhere, and meet all of those interesting people.  Today, girls have heroes like Lady Gaga, but Nancy Drew was mine. 

As an adult, there are still several books that I tend to re-read once in a while if I have the time.  Unfortunately, with everything I have to do nowadays, I don't get to re-read the oldies but goodies at all, as I'm barely keeping up with the new reads I have to do.   The Plains of Passage is my favourite of the Earth's Children series.  I just love the dramatic descriptions as Ayla and Jondalar travel across Europe as they return to his people.  It's dramatic and so descriptive and I always feel like I am right there with them as they explore this land they have never seen before.  I enjoy learning the way people would have lived thousands of years ago, and it gives me a better appreciation for what I have today, but also for what those people accomplished all of that time ago.  Anthropology and history are such passions of mine so this book is right up my alley.  And what can I say about Wuthering Heights that hasn't already been said?  This was my introduction into gothic literature and from there I devoured most of the Ann Radcliffe books.  The story of Catherine and Heathcliff haunted me for a long time, not because I thought it was beautiful, but because of the moral ramifications of Heathcliff's actions. 
There are two other books that I used to constantly re-read and they are Magician by Raymond E. Feist and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  Magician, although not my first introduction into fantasy and science fiction, stands as the novel that really propelled me into my fixation with the genre.  It was because of this series that I went through a long phase where I devoured one fantasy series after another.  I bought it on a flight to France and pretty much devoured it on the plane, hence my search through countless bookstores in Paris to find books 3 and 4.  Didn't happen until I got home.  It was frustrating.  Pug remains one of my favourite characters, even today, for as a child I wanted to be just like him with magical powers, if I couldn't be Nancy Drew, even though I hadn't been introduced to his character as of yet.  And Pride and Prejudice? Love the book, love the mini-series, and could read the book over and over again.  I've got a few hours, I think I'll go watch the BBC mini-series right now.  Oh, yes, I bought it as soon as I could!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Review: Beautifully Broken by Sherry Soule

Beautifully Broken (Spellbound, Book 1)
by Sherry Soule
Release Date: June 30, 2011
2011 Moonlight Publishing
E-Book Edition; 325 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-976-18047-0
Genre: Young Adult / Paranormal
Source: Review Copy from Betwitching Book Tours

4 / 5 Stars

They say every town has its secrets, but that doesn’t even begin to describe Whispering Pines. The townsfolk are a superstitious lot and the mystical disappearance of a local teen has everyone murmuring about a centuries old witch’s curse.

Sixteen-year-old Shiloh Ravenwolf is a heritage witch from the Broussard family, a family both destined and cursed. When she takes a summer job at Ravenhurst Manor, she discovers a ghost with an agenda. That’s where she meets the new town hottie, Trent Donovan, and immediately becomes spellbound by his charms. Yet she is determined to discover the connection between them.

Finally, Shiloh's met someone who is supercute and totally into her, but Trent may be the next victim on the supernatural hit list. And Shiloh is the only person with the power to save him. Complicated much?

It sucks to have a destiny, especially since Shiloh would rather spend her summer being a normal girl who worries about clothes and boys, not the supernatural. But she’s never been normal, and the stranger things become the more her own magical senses awaken.

With cryptic messages from a pesky wraith, she will begin to understand the mysterious significance of the strange mark branded on her wrist and decide how much she's willing to sacrifice to protect the other teenagers in town.

Unfortunately, for Shiloh, not all ghosts want help crossing over. Some want vengeance.

My Thoughts
Beautifully Broken was an enjoyable, fun read that held all the supernatural elements that I adore.  Throw in a haunted mansion, a coven of witches, an old curse, old secrets, a town constantly filled with fog and little sunlight, an enforced curfew of 10 o'clock, a girl being haunted by wraiths, teenagers being murdered, and a new boy who can make a girl's blood sing, you have the elements of a novel that is creepy, scary, but also a lot of fun. 

Shiloh Ravenwolf is a strong female character who I also found endearing with all of her flaws and her dramatic tendencies.  With her strong sarcastic wit and sense of humour, I enjoyed her banter with the other characters and saw her sarcasm as a way of hiding her true feelings and true self from others; it was a wall she has built over the years of being labelled a freak and loser by her classmates and by the townspeople.  She begins to open up a bit more when she meets Trent Donavon and begins work as an apprentice for his uncle at the family estate, Ravenhurst Manor.  The relationship between Shiloh and Trent was rather interesting as it was not all roses and definitely did not end off the way I thought it would. Kudos to the author for not giving us the usual romantic entanglement, and for making things somewhat difficult between the two main characters as it reflects real life a bit more.  I've never been a fan of instant love and being in love within hours of meeting someone and those books tend to turn me right off.

One of the things I really enjoyed was the descriptions of Ravenhurst Manor and all of the events that occurred at that mansion.  It gave the novel more of a gothic feel and the atmosphere was creepy and dark most of the time.  The shadows and the evil centered at Ravenhurst Manor and although Shiloh was surrounded by paranormal activity while working there, she forced herself to continue and to delve into its secrets.  What she found was unexpected; first of all, she found an unexpected ally in Trent's uncle, and second of all, with digging, she learned more about the secrets of her own family and the secrets her parents refused to confide in her.  And events that kept me racing through the last 100 pages or so of the novel all began at Ravenhurst. 

Ms. Soule definitely knows how to keep a reader's interest and the novel began with quite a bang as Shiloh is attacked right from the beginning by a wraith and left wondering why this is happening to her.  As the answers unfold, we are left with more questions and this keeps the reader wanting to know more and more.  I did like how the action unfolded, with one scene leaping at you directly from another scene, but there were some things where you did have to suspend disbelief and just go with the flow.  The girls' disappearance was a perfect example where I don't think it was handled as well as it could have been and I am hoping more will be explained in future novels.  I would also like to have seen more interaction between Shiloh and her dysfunctional parents as she seemed to have a lot of freedom, and then suddenly her mom would appear in one scene and take her to task for missing her curfew. I would like to learn more about Shiloh's mom and her aunt as it looks like they are going to play crucial roles in coming events, but I felt like the interactions were somewhat jumbled and not always clear. 

Beautifully Broken was a great read and gave the reader a lot to think about.  With a lot of interesting characters, and a house with a character of its own, Ms. Soule delivered a novel packed with twists and turns, suspense, romance, and many secrets, which I loved.  With an ending that is not quite satsifactory, all it does is make you look forward to reading the next book in the series, Beautifully Haunted, releasing November 2011.  Until then, I would recommend this novel to anyone interested in the paranormal.

About Author Sherry Soule

Sherry Soule has won awards for her short stories and writes full-time. She has been writing seriously for twelve years, during which time she has completed seven romantic suspense and supernatural-style manuscripts. She was a Creative writing Major and because of her love of reading and her dedication to the craft of writing fiction, she also did some freelance work as an Acquisitions Editor for Crescent Moon Press.

She is an active member of the SCBWI, RWA, and YACHATLIT.

Sherry writes young adult, horror, and paranormal, but no matter what genre she's writing, there has to be an element of romance. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her black cat, Charm. And her cat would like you to know that she’s not a morning person, rarely cooks, and loves all things supernatural.

Sherry currently writes both adult and young adult tales of magick, ghosts, romance and demon slaying.

Please visit her on the web!/WriterSherry
Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Review: The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen

The Girl in the Gatehouse
by Julie Klassen
Release Date: January 1st, 2011
2010 Bethany House Publishers
Softcover Edition; 391 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0708-2
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

4 / 5 Stars

Banished from the only home she's ever known, Mariah Aubrey hides herself away in an abandoned gatehouse on a distant relative's estate.  There she supports herself and her loyal servant the only way she knows how - by writing novels in secret.

When Captain Matthew Bryant leases the estate, he is intrigued by the beautiful girl in the gatehouse.  But there are manyt hings he doesn't know about this beguiling outcast.  Will he risk his plans - and his heart - for a woman shadowed by scandal?

My Thoughts
The Girl in the Gatehouse was a delightful tale of a woman, hidden away from the world due to a broken heart and indiscretions that have shamed her family, forced to survive in a world with few options available for women to support themselves.  Loosely based on characters from the Jane Austen novels, Ms Klassen draws on her admiration for female authors in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries who often wrote under pseudonyms to hide their identities or anonymously, and introduces us to Mariah Aubrey, who secretly writes novels in order to support herself and her servants in her banishment. 

One of the things I enjoyed tremendously in this novel was the description of life during this time period.  I love learning about how life was in the past and the descriptions are wonderful.  There are some bleak moments in this novel and some cutting scenes about society and the cruelty of the gentry, Mariah's banishment being a perfect example, as well as some discussion about how women seem to take the worst in a situation, but it never becomes too serious, just hints and inuendos.  There is one telling scene that really highlights Mariah's plight and I love how the author handles it and how it all plays out in the end.  The novel tends to be more light in nature and while people suffer, and have suffered difficulties in their pasts, there still remains a lighthearted feel to the novel in general.  It reminds me much more of Little Women rather than Pride and Prejudice in nature in the sense that it's more light, rather than with Jane Austen's irony and cutting sarcasm.

While I liked Mariah and found her nature to be generous, the rest of the novel was peppered with so many interesting characters that I grew somewhat more fond of them than of Mariah and Matthew.  Don't get me wrong, I found Mariah and Matthew's storyline to be interesting, and I was mostly happy with the resolution, but I felt like something was missing in their relationship and I can't quite put my finger on it.  Perhaps it was the spiritual aspect that wasn't resolved satisfactorily as neither character seemed to explore that aspect of themselves that was introduced early on in the novel, but I'm not sure.  Anyways, Martin and Dixon's relationship I just loved and found it fascinating.  Martin himself is a perfect example as to how you can't judge someone from appearances and I did right away.  Yet, he continued to delight and amaze all the way through the novel and ended up being one of my favourite characters.  And the poorhouse characters were a delight, from sweet Miss Amy with her words of wisdom, to Prince who likes to climb the rooftop signalling to others, to George putting string across a road to catch a lady for a kiss.  I really enjoyed how Mariah and Dixon immersed themselves into life on the estate and became friends with people in the poorhouse, people who technically were below her position in life, despite her banishment.  This led to a lot of discussion about propriety and reputation that was fascinating and so central to this time period, a time period that I find was almost unforgiving in its judgment of others.  Ms. Klassen did a fantastic job in highlighting these discrepancies throughout her novel and giving the reader an insight into societal norms that existed at the time.

The Girl in the Gatehouse was a sweet, delightful story that combines some interesting romantic interludes, a dash of intrigue surrounding some mysterious journals and a trunk, and a variety of quirky characters.  I enjoyed it tremendously and would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a good historical fiction that is more on the lighter side, especially if you're a fan of Jane Austen.