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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sunday Swag: S. E. Smith

Sunday Swag Team!
Riverina Romantics 
 I Smell Sheep 

Featured Author: S. E. Smith

About the Author:
S. E. Smith is a New York Times, USA TODAY and #1 Amazon International Bestselling Author. Susan enjoys sharing her amazing worlds filled with action, adventure, love, laughter and tears with her readers. Her stories focus on strong characters and the dynamics of their relationships as they deal with diverse situations. She is known for her world building that takes readers away. She is a true dreamer who believes in HEA.

two bookmarks and a stylus

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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Book Review: The Wicked City by Megan Morgan

The Wicked City (Siren Song)
by Megan Morgan
Pages: 248
March 3, 2015
Whatever June Coffin says, goes—literally. And it’s not just because she’s a chain smoking rebel. As a Siren, June has the ability to force people to obey any command she voices. But in a world where those with supernatural powers quickly become lab rats for science, she’d rather look out for herself than fight on the front lines…until her similarly gifted twin brother, Jason, is captured by Chicago’s Institute of Supernatural Research.

To save Jason, June has no choice but to enter a hidden world of conspiracy, murder—and strange bedfellows—including a widowed paranormal advocate whose memory June accidentally erased, and a fiery paranormal separatist leader. Soon the lines between attraction and strategic alliance become blurred. But in a city exploding with paranormal crossfire, and her brother’s life at stake, June will have to face her inner demons and finally take a stand.

Paranormal abilities are no longer a secret and with that comes different groups trying to decide what is right for the people. June Coffin is an aural captivator or better known as a siren. She can use her voice to control what people do. She is full of rebellion and doesn’t take lip from anyone. Her talents, and that of her twin Jason, had always been a secret until she accidently let it slip to a news reporter that she was tattooing and the reporter ran with the story.

Occasionally, I read the foreword at the beginning of a book but not often. I did this time and found that the author had a very deep connection to this book and her characters. I hoped that I would feel that connection when I read the book and I was not disappointed. Filled with different types of paranormal abilities and lots of action this book was a great read. I really look forward to the next book but hope that the author doesn't take another 7 years to write it.

Getting 5 sheep

Denise B

About the Author:
Though I was born in Reno, Nevada, and spent some of my childhood there, I’ve lived most of my life in Ohio: the past seven years in Cleveland, specifically, the home of rock and roll. I love Cleveland, though I’d like to live in Chicago or New Orleans someday (or hey, maybe both, a girl can dream!).

I’ve been writing for most of my literate life, and began pursuing a professional writing career at the tender and naive age of thirteen. I’ve (hopefully) improved a lot since my overwrought high school writing days, but my passion and focus has always been the same: I want to write stories. I love writing romance because I think it’s something everyone can relate to–everyone loves love, and a little bit of sex doesn’t hurt, either. I’m a big fan of paranormal elements, so most of my stories have some kind of spooky twist. If you like passion, sex, and chills down your spine, I’m the author for you!

I work as a bartender in an airport lounge currently, because writing doesn’t pay the bills yet. It’s an awesome experience that brings me into contact with interesting people. My days are never boring. I’ve been a bartender and server for a long time, so I can tell you a thing or two about working in the service industry.

I’m much older than I look but not as wise as I seem. I live with my cat and my adult son, and I’m blessed with a huge circle of friends and family. My real name is not Megan Morgan, I chose that name because it sounds ‘romance authorly’ and is far less weird and more glamorous than my real name.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Book Review: Black Dog Blues (Kai Gracen #1) by Rhys Ford

Black Dog Blues (Kai Gracen #1)
by Rhys Ford
246 pages
February 3rd 2015
Ever since he’d been part of the pot in a high-stakes poker game, elfin outcast Kai Gracen figured he’d used up any good karma he had when Dempsey, a human Stalker, won the hand and took him in. Following the violent merge of Earth and Underhill, the human and elfin races were left with a messy, monster-ridden world and Stalkers were often the only cavalry willing to ride to someone’s rescue when something shadowy and dark moved into the neighbourhood.
There certainly were no shortage of monsters or people stupidly willing to become lunch for one.

It was a hard life but one Kai liked. And he was good at it. Killing monsters was easy. Especially since he was one himself.

After an accident retired Dempsey out, Kai set up permanent shop in San Diego, contracting out to the local SoCalGov depot. It was a decent life, filled with bounty, a few friends and most importantly, no other elfin around to remind him he wasn’t really human.

That was until a sidhe lord named Ryder arrives in San Diego and Kai is conscripted to do a job for Ryder’s fledgling Dawn Court. It was supposed to a simple run; head up the coast during dragon-mating season to retrieve a pregnant human woman seeking sanctuary with the new Court then back to San Diego. Easy, quick and best of all, profitable. But Ryder’s “simple” run leads to massive trouble and Kai ends up being caught in the middle of a deadly bloodline feud he has no hope of escaping.

No one ever got rich by being a Stalker. But then hardly any of them got old either. The way things were looking, it didn’t look like Kai was going to be the exception.

First books in an urban fantasy series are exciting and frustrating. You get to experience a new world with (hopefully) characters you love or love to hate. It's a great feeling. But authors need to set up complicated worlds and introduce characters that they aren't quite comfortable with yet. What you tend to get is info dumps and clunky writing. I give first books a lot of leeway if I find elements that rock my world one way or another. You know, a sexy hero, a kick ass heroine or a unique world that makes me stop and go "Whoa...that's cool". Black Dog Blues has rocked enough of my world that I want to keep it on my radar.

I love the Fae, and in Black Dog Blues the Fae's world, Underhill, has literally Merged with the human world. There was a massive and deadly war between the humans and Fae which left the world in ruins and a strained truce between the races as well as a lot of prejudice. The main character, Kai, was born fae, but you slowly learn was brutalized as a child in unimaginable ways by his family. Kai escaped that fate and ended up being raised by a human, and as a result knows nothing about being Fae, not even their language. Kai is a survior, but his emotional scars run deep. I loved him as soon as I met him. Yeah, he has the tortured soul, but even he has no ideas of just how bad because he has buried that part of him. 

The story is full of action, violence and dark intentions. What else would you expect from the Fae? The author created a post-apocalyptic world combining Fae and human elements. This is a dark urban fantasy so the emphasis is on how Kai tries to avoid his past while being dragged kicking and screaming into a future he's not sure he wants. 

There is a slow simmering romance with a Fae lord named Ryder. Ryder is sexy, with noble ideas of bringing peace between the Fae and humans. His courtly manners run up against Kai's uncultured ways with humorous results. Technically there will be a gay romance...eventually. There is no sex in this book. Just two kissing scenes with Kai and Ryder and one with Kai and Ryder's female guard. There was even a hint of Ryder and his guard sharing Kai... Kia likes women and men but refuses to have committed relationships. It seems like fate might have other plans. Whenever Kai is near Ryder there is a connection he doesn't understand, but Ryder seems to. It will be a slow tension filled romance between the two that could take many books (hopefully not too many!) to become anything more. If you've stayed away from stories with gay romance because of all the sex, then this is one you can try, without that.

I was hooked by the world building and the characters, and as the author becomes more comfortable with both, tighter writing will also follow. 

3 1/2 Sheep


About the Author:
Rhys Ford is a firm believer in love and let love, short walks to a coffee shop and having a spare cat or two. Most days she can be found swearing at her laptop and trying to come up with new ways to kill off perfectly good random characters.

Rhys Ford was born and raised in Hawaii then wandered off to see the world. After chewing through a pile of books, a lot of odd food, and a stray boyfriend or two, Rhys eventually landed in San Diego, which is a very nice place but seriously needs more rain.

Rhys admits to sharing the house with three cats of varying degrees of black fur, a black Pomeranian puffball and a ginger cairn terrorist. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, a Toshiba laptop, and a purple Bella coffee maker.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Review: The Iron Ring: Part I of the Saga of the Redeemed by Auston Habershaw

The Iron Ring: Part I of the Saga of the Redeemed
by Auston Habershaw
Kindle Price: $2.99
HarperCollins Publishers
Length: 192 pages
Tyvian Reldamar—criminal mastermind, rogue mage, and smuggler of sorcerous goods—has just been betrayed by his longtime partner and left for dead in a freezing river. To add insult to injury, his mysterious rescuer took it upon himself to affix Tyvian with an iron ring that prevents the wearer from any evildoing.

Revenge just got complicated.

On his quest to get even, Tyvian navigates dark international conspiracies, dodges midnight assassins, and uncovers the plans of the ruthless warlord Banric Sahand—all while running from a Mage-Defender determined to lock him up. Tyvian will need to use every dirty trick in the book to avoid a painful and ignominious end, even as he discovers that sometimes even the world's most devious man needs a shoulder to lean on.

First I'm going to make a confession about my fantasy book reading habits. I love fantasy—once I get started. I don't read much is hard work *hangs head*. The books throw you into a new world and you are bombarded with new (unpronounceable) names for too many territories, kings, guilds...then a mind boggling cast of characters that will converge for a climatic brew-ha-ha. I can't remember everything, and I get confused and collapse into a whiny puddle of inadequate-ness. But I liked the premise of The Iron Ring and hoped it be worth the puddle.

The Iron Ring's central character, Tyvian Reldamar, is one of my favorite types of characters, the anti-hero. He's an arrogant, educated, condescending ass who also happens to be the best at what he does: crime. For reasons we don't know yet, he was targeted by a mysterious man who places an iron ring on Tyvian's finger making it painful for him to do any misdeeds. The worse the deed, the more pain he feels. His fate is tangled up with a lonely, boy thief; a gnoll trying to rescue her kidnapped kids; and a righteous mage who has made capturing Tyvian her sole purpose. Unfortunately, Tyvian's escapades unwittingly put him and his friends—not really—in the path of one of the most evil villains I've read. 

The story is set in a world where magic is available in nature, but you have to learn how to harness and use it. The author sets up a unique and interesting world, including laws of nature that magic users are bound too, which makes it believable. One of my favorite examples of magic use is the spirit train. Engine warlocks infuse Fey demons into magic pistons, forcing them to power the train.

The beginning of the story is full of action and humorous commentary by Tyvian which kept me turning the pages. Towards the middle, things slow down as sub-plot after sub-plot are set up. Then as things start to move along again—the book ends. Yup, this pulls a Twilight/Mockingjay. One story split into (in this case) three parts. It doesn't have what I would call a cliff hanger ending, but you just invested a good deal of time in a complex (and very good) story with no pay off until the next part comes out in June. And even then you'll have to wait for part three. Grrrr. I want to know what happens and how low Tyvian will fall before the ring makes him realize his potential. 

The story is compelling and fantastical, but the publisher has decided (Why, I don't know, but I've noticed it is happening more often) to parse it out. If you get frustrated with this type of thing you might want to wait till all three parts are out. It's definitely worth a read. 

Tyvian rolled his eyes and lay back on the pallet. "I seem to be lectured as often as I am captured. I take it you work for the Defenders, or perhaps my mother? Is that how you know who I am? 
"No." [Eddereon]
"You lie."
"I do not."
"Clever retort, but I am strangely unconvinced."

3 1/2 "spirit" sheep


About the Author:
On the day Auston Habershaw was born, Skylab fell from the heavens. This foretold two possible fates: supervillain or scifi/fantasy author. Fortunately he chose the latter, and spends his time imagining the could-be and the never-was rather than disintegrating the moon with his volcano laser. He lives and works in Boston, MA.

Auston is a winner of the Writers of the Future Contest (2nd place in quarter 1, 2014) and has published stories in Analog, The Sword and Laser Anthology, and Stupefying Stories. His debut novel, The Iron Ring (Book 1 in the Saga of the Redeemed), will be released on 2/10/15.

Reading Until Dawn Con Denver, CO, October 8th-11th, 2015

While at Coastal Magic Con 2015 we met a delightful woman named Casey. She is organizing a convention of her own called Reading Until Dawn Con (isn't that clever?) Here is some information about it—taken from the website.

Reading Until Dawn Con will be held in Denver, CO, October 8th-11th, 2015.

The emcee of Reading Until Dawn Con is

 Regular registration will be $85 till September 25th, 2015

The story behind Reading Until Dawn Con isn’t all that uncommon. I was complaining to a friend about not being able to travel the country and stalk meet all of my favorite authors. Then I had the crazy, insane, brilliant idea of bringing all the authors to me. The only way to do that was with a con. After months of debating, talking to authors to see if anyone would actually be interested, and continually thinking, “Am I actually going to do this?” Reading Until Dawn Con was born.

My dream for RUDC is to have a small conference where authors and readers can hang out together. Anyone can go to any author/reader/writer conference and listen to their favorite author talk about writing. But how many can say that they hung out with their favorite author? Not many. RUDC will be all about hanging out, playing games, and having fun.-Casey
Sometimes, the smallest things have the biggest impacts on our lives. For me, it was the scene The Mummy (1999), where Evie(drunkenly) told Rick that she was proud to be a librarian. Little nine year old me, who was already obsessed with books, decided that I wanted to become a librarian. And I did.

I worked at a library (first volunteering, then getting hired) for about five years, until I moved to a different state. In addition to that, I have been reviewing books for Literary Escapism since August, 2010. I have had two separate internships with Entangled Publishing, LLC, which led to my jobs as the personal assistant to the Publicity Director of five lines at Entangled Publishing, LLC, and also an assistant to the Head of Marketing, also at Entangled Publishing, LLC. I co-edited and contributed a short story to the self-published anthology, The Struggle. (All proceeds from the anthology go to helping struggling authors.) Over the course of the past two years, I’ve conducted seven live interviews with New York Times bestselling authors. I even planned an author book signing for Tiffany Reisz and Andrew Shaffer at Southland Books and Cafe, (my favorite job since I left the library).

It was only logical that the next step would be creating my own author/reader conference. (Well, that’s what I keep telling myself. *grin*) It’s my dream to gather a few (hundred) of my closest friends and favorite authors so that we can do what comes naturally – talk books, eat delicious food, and have a good time.