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Monday, June 30, 2014

Book Review ARC: Enslaved By the Others (H&W Investigations #6) by Jess Haines

Enslaved By the Others (H&W Investigations #6)
by Jess Haines
Vampires, werewolves, magi and worse-the Others have joined the mortal world, and there's no turning back now...

As a New York P.I. and Other specialist, Shiarra Waynest has been in plenty of trouble before. But waking up in a windowless room the prisoner of a vampire slave trader is a shock for anyone. Shia has her wits, her bravado, and a couple of used staples, so maybe she can take on a mansion full of serious evil.

But although she's desperate to escape, Shia needs some answers too. Her friends are in danger. There are betrayers and spies among them. And even if she can figure out what's going on and somehow get a message out, she's still a captive of the worst kind...

Are you looking for some action packed urban fantasy with hot romance sizzling in the background? Give this series a try. Enslaved by the Others is book six and while it is not the end of the series (thank goodness!) it gives us closure on the main series story arc while preparing us for a new one. In book one we meet a very different Shairra from the one kicking ass and taking names in book six and I am not just talking about the cover model <G>. And what a ride she has been on. If Shiarra ever got a chance to reach out from the pages Jess Haines better run!

This book is the most violent and action packed of them all, but considering who has kidnapped Shiarra and what his intentions are I would expect nothing less. Shiarra is forced to come to terms with a lot of decisions she's made in her life up to this point. We see just how strong she has become. We also get hints of some different kinds of others we might see in the next book. I’m not 100% what they are but I have my suspicions <G>. Not gonna tell either. And if you like Gideon, he has a lot of snark time with Shiarra.

I won’t go into any details about this book because it would spoil too much for those of you who just bought book one (you did just buy it, right?) I’ll just say if you've been following the series so far you are going to enjoy the hell out of this one! And if you haven’t started it yet and love urban fantasies then definitely give it a go!

5 “Enslaved” Sheep

Sharon Stogner

About the author:
Jess Haines writes about furred and fanged things that go bump in the night. Best known for the H&W Investigations urban fantasy series, she's been writing since she was a teenager and was first published in 2010. Her latest release is Forsaken by the Others (Kensington/Zebra; July 2, 2013). Visit her at for the latest news and updates.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Comic Review: Midnight Tiger issue #1

Writer(s): DeWayne Feenstra, Ray-Anthony Height
Artist: Ray-Anthony Height
Colorist: Paul John Little
Cover Artist(s): Ray-Anthony Height (reg) Jerry Gaylord (v)
32 pgs./ All Ages/ FC
$2.99/ $3.99 Variant
Spinning out of this year's FREE COMIC BOOK DAY hit offering and now a monthly series!

Having lost all hope in the heroes of his world, fate steps in and gives young Gavin Shaw the power to do the things they have not. Only as the teenage hero Midnight Tiger does his city have a chance at redemption.

I'm not a traditional superhero comic book reader. I prefer the dark urban fantasy ones, but the teen superhero Midnight Tiger caught my eye and pretty much anything Action Lab Entertainment puts out I like.

In Gavin's world superheroes and super villains exist and there is a special Super-Human Enforcement Force which we don't know much about at this point. Gavin is a high school student who has friends, does his homework and lives with his father (who looks like a dark skinned Zeus) who is hard on him, but loves him dearly. And Gavin has developed super powers after a pretty brutal accident.

This issue introduces us to Gavin, gives us an idea of his snarky teenage personality and introduces Infernus, Gavin's first super villain. On top of all that there is a gang problem in his school and city and the leader P. Stone is causing problems.

A pretty interesting issue #1 with an ending making me want to grab the next issue. Some of the bubbles had too many words in them and I had to zoom in. The artwork is bright and clean and the panel layout was varied and kept it interesting. 

4 "hugging it out" Sheep

Sharon Stogner

ABOUT ACTION LAB ENTERTAINMENT- Formed in 2010 with the purpose of pooling their collective talents into a single, powerful entity, the members of Action Lab Entertainment have countless years in multimedia publishing, design, and business. Their first release, Fracture, was successfully funded through Kickstarter and since then they have continued their mission to produce high quality, genre-spanning entertainment. Since its formation, the accolades for A.L.E continue to build on a daily basis. Among its more popular titles are all ages material like the Eisner, Glyph, Shel Dorf Award nominated series PRINCELESS, NFL RUSHZONE (based on the Nickelodeon Television series), Jamal Igle's MOLLY DANGER, Artist/ Writer Jeremy Dale’s hit series SKYWARD, and Gale Middleton’s (My Little Pony, The Littlest Pet Shop) monstrously adorable VAMPLETS. Action Lab’s Mature Readers imprint ACTION LAB DANGER ZONE continues to push the envelope of comics entertainment with titles as varied as EHMM THEORY and Dan Mendoza’s over the top horror-comedy ZOMBIE TRAMP, THE FINAL PLAGUE and BO, PLUSHY GANGSTA.

Sunday Swag: Faith Hunter

Sunday Swag Team!
Riverina Romantics 
 I Smell Sheep 
Today's feature author:
Faith Hunter

About the Author:
Faith Hunter, fantasy writer, was born in Louisiana and raised all over the south. The Skinwalker series, featuring Jane Yellowrock is taking off like a rocket withSkinwalker, Blood Cross, Mercy Blade, Raven Cursed, Death’s Rival and Blood Trade. Her Rogue Mage novels, a dark, urban fantasy series—Bloodring, Seraphs, and Host—feature Thorn St. Croix, a stone mage in a post-apocalyptic, alternate reality, urban fantasy world. These novels are the basis for the role playing game, Rogue Mage.

Under the pen name Gwen Hunter, she writes action-adventure, mysteries, and thrillers. As Faith and Gwen, she has 20+ books in print in 28 countries.

Hunter fell in love with reading in fifth grade, and best loved SiFi, fantasy, and gothic. She decided to become a writer in high school, when a teacher told her she had talent. Now, she writes full-time and works full-time in a hospital lab, (for the benefits) tries to keep house, and is a workaholic with a passion for travel, jewelry making, white-water kayaking, and writing. She and her husband love to RV, traveling with their dogs to whitewater rivers all over the Southeast.

bookmarks, two business cards (one that you can't get anymore) a sticker and two buttons. The Have Stakes Will Travel can't be found anymore!

Head over to Riverina Romantics and win more Swag!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Book Review: Desolation Angels by James Axler

Desolation Angels
by James Axler

320 pages
Publisher: Gold Eagle

(July 1, 2014)
A hundred years after the nukecaust, the tortured landscape of postapocalyptic America offers a brutal fight for survival. Yet tech secrets lie hidden, useful to those brave and strong enough to believe that hope can carry them toward ever-elusive peace.

Violent gangs, a corrupt mayor and a heavily armed police force are the hallmarks of former Detroit, a mutie-infested, rubble-strewn metropolis. When Ryan and the companions show up, the Desolation Angels are waging a war to rule the streets. After saving the companions from being chilled by gangsters, the mayor hires Ryan and his friends to stop the Angels cold. But each hard blow toward victory proves there's no good side to be fighting for. As Motor City erupts into bloody conflagration, the companions are caught in the crossfire. In Deathlands, hell is called home.

Desolation Angels is a new installment in what appears to be a very long running and prolific series, which posed a significant problem for this reader. There was an excellent recap / introduction of the primary characters at the beginning of the book, just prior to chapter one, but had this not been provided the reader would, in my opinion, be lost. 

The book opens with these characters appearing in a chamber and their fight to escape as it begins to fill with sewage and zombie like creatures try to eat them and off we go. . .the story then proceeds with some very well written head loping, guns blasting, and explosive action.

The characters are very colorful and unique, both the good guys and baddies and I found myself begging to know more. However, the action continues scene after scene, fight and flight over and over again to the point I started to feel like the little old lady that made the hamburger commercial famous and could not help asking—where's the story? Every time the protagonists come to a stop and you think okay here we go, the story abruptly segs into another Shoot 'Em Up with absolutely no explanation why.

There is a small underlying tale here, but it does not emerge until the book is about three quarters of the way through by which time desensitization started to set in and no matter how well written the action scenes were, I just did not care anymore and actually considered finding a way to blow these guys up myself just to put them out of their misery.

Now for longtime fans of the series this is likely to be a great installment in the ongoing saga, after all the writer is very good at crafting these scenes and perhaps greater back story might make a difference, but I am not sure and stand behind the statement that this book needs more story and perhaps fewer flights and explosions. Had the head lopping and explosions not been so well done I would have given this read two sheep and if you are looking for nonstop action with little story to go with it, you will likely really enjoy the tale more than I. I received this book via NetGalley.

3 Sheep


About the Author/Gold Eagle Books:
James Axler is a house name used by the publishing company Gold Eagle Books, the action adventure series published by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.

The name was first used for the "Deathlands" series, which began in 1986 with Pilgrimage to Hell, co-written by Christopher Lowder (under the pseudonym Jack Adrian) and Laurence James. James went on to write the next 32 novels before passing away on 9 February 2000.

The next writer to work under the Axler pen name was prolific author Mark Ellis. A comics creator and writer, Ellis created the cult-favorite character Death Hawk as well as adapting popular properties such as Doc Savage and The Wild Wild West.

Ellis contributed to Gold Eagle's The Executioner series and wrote three novels in the Deathlands series, with uncredited contributions to two others. In 1996 he created the popular Outlanders series. He has produced more books as "James Axler" than any other writer.

Other authors using the pseudonym for this series are (in no particular order):
Nick Pollotta, Mel Odom, Terry Collins, Alan Philipson, Andy Boot, Edo Van Belkom, Victor Milán, Douglas Wojtowicz, and Rik Hoskin.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Book Review: Broken Worlds by Anitha Robinson

Broken Worlds
by Anitha Robinson
Paperback, 200 pages
Published June 10th 2014

by Cbay Books
When a brutal attack leaves her barely conscious, Kalli thinks that the young man carrying her away is an angel sent to ferry her to Heaven. After all of the abuse and months of homelessness, Kalli welcomes the relief that Heaven would bring. Handsome Ellis, though, turns out to be just as mortal as she is. A kind stranger, Ellis saves her life by taking her to a local clinic to be healed. Once better, Kalli finds herself staying with her unusual rescuer while being monitored constantly by his mysterious family. It s not an ideal situation, but it beats the streets. Now that she s safe and warm and appears to have found someone who cares for her, Kalli assumes the worst is behind her. She couldn t be more wrong. Broken Worlds was the very first Young Adult Winner in the Yummy but Brainy Writing Contest presented by CBAY Books.

Broken Worlds is an intriguing tale that keeps you guessing about what exactly is going on to the very end. It opens with Kalli being brutally attacked in a dark alley and rescued by a beautiful young man she at first believes is an angel. It is difficult to say much more about the storyline without spoilers, so I will leave it with this, it is a story of betrayal, tears, sacrifice, and love.

It was very well written and kept me turning the pages to find out exactly what was going on and how it would end. I really enjoyed Kalli's character, even though I found her somewhat naive at times and her actions a bit unbelievable in her willingness to allow the wool to be pulled over her eyes; however, her young age and very human desire to be loved and wanted can excuse a lot of her naiveté. She does have strength of character and is willing to stand up when it counts and take action when the situation gets critical. 

Overall I felt this was a good story and would definitely recommend it to the older YA reader and those young at heart with a taste for a little something of a surprise. I received this book via NetGalley.

4 Sheep


About the Author:
I literally turned a nightmare into a dream on June 16th, 2013 when I received an email from CBAY Books that I’d won their publishing contest!

This unbelievable journey began about five years prior when I woke up one morning unable to shake off the chills from a nightmare. The horrible feeling of being chased and trapped by two men in an alley lingered on throughout the day.

That evening, with the nightmare still frighteningly fresh, I wrote about it. By the time I went to bed, I had the first few pages of what would become Broken Worlds.

The story took on its own life, but the seed that started it was the nightmare.

I have loved writing as far back as I can remember. All kinds of writing, poetry, short stories, even the dreaded essay assignment. So I’m extremely grateful that I get to make writing a part of my life.

I graduated from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario with a Bachelor of Commerce degree and then became a Chartered Accountant. I live in Ontario with my husband, who I’ve known since I was twelve, our two children, three dogs, two horses and a cat.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Book Review: Carnal Magic by Lila Dubois book tour + giveaway

Carnal Magic
The Wraith Accords, Book 1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 978-1-61921-924-3
Book Length: 240 pages
By Lila Dubois
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Publication Date: 05-13-2014
What if the one you wanted more than any other was the only one you couldn’t trust?

Two hundred years after the Tuatha de Danaan and Vampires formed a fragile alliance, the Wraith Accords are unraveling. Isabel Santiago is a leader in one of the most powerful of the vampire cabals, and she agrees to join the Fae court as a gesture of goodwill—and damage control.

While Aed mac Goll’s loyalty to Fae is absolute, he’s never supported the accords which gave the Vampires sanctuary and restored the Tuatha de’s link to humanity. The very idea he could desire an undead human is unthinkable, yet he’s drawn to Isabel’s dark beauty and fierce intelligence.

Despite their mutual mistrust, they soon find themselves lost in a dangerous game of lust and power. When the treaty shatters amid calls for Isabel’s head, Aed realizes their connection is more than physical. And to save it, they’ll have to unravel a mystery that’s been a thousand years in the making.

Carnal Magic by Lila Dubois is the fist book in the new series The Wraith Accords. The book centers around the relationship between the Tuatha de Danann, who are Fae, and the Vampires. Two hundred years ago, they formed an alliance, but now something is wrong.

Isabel Santiago, a vampire leader, is sent to the Fae Court to mend the alliance. Isabel is a strong female character who is politically savvy. She has been around a long time, and you can tell. She is no green vampire feeling her way through. Isabel’s also not afraid to make the first move sexually and can be quite aggressive. Trust me, there is more than just romantic tension here.

Which brings me to Aed mac Goll of the Fianna. He is charged with Isabel’s care and let's just say that he takes care of her very well. It seems vampires aren’t quite what he believed them to be, and he finds that he might just enjoy the company of this particular vampire. As the book progresses, Isabel and Aed get closer and closer, as the relationship between the Tuatha de Danann and the Vampires grows farther apart.

The book moves at a fast clip, and we get drawn in further and further to a long time mystery that is finally coming to light. Isabel, in hopes of saving the alliance, starts to investigate the mystery herself. With the help of Aed, she might just have a chance to figure out what is really going on.

Isabel will find some answers, but we are left with some lingering questions at the end. As it is only book one, I am anticipating that the next in the series will provide some of the answers and shine a little more light on where this series is taking us. I especially like the scenes that took place in the Fae Court, so I'm hoping that it will be taking us back there. Maybe we will even figure out what is going on with the King?

3 ½ Sheep Holding Court



“Lady Isabel.” 

He came from the shadows, a massive outline of a man, darker than anything around him. It seemed the starlight didn’t touch his armor, which was a matte black that made her think of lightless prison cells deep underground. She couldn’t stop the shiver that shook her. 

He removed the full helmet, revealing a face as beautiful as the armor was dark. His hair was the rich brown of the earth with streaks of gold. His skin was pale, but not so pale as hers, more cream than white, but light enough that the blue of his eyes was startlingly bright. His hair was long and pulled back from his face, leaving his strong, angular features exposed. 

Isabel swallowed the saliva that pooled in her mouth. She wanted this man. She wanted to take him, fuck him, pleasure him and hurt him. She wanted to taste his blood as he fucked her, wanted to feel his hands on her flesh. He smelled like nothing she could describe, and the assault on her senses—visual, aural and olfactory—nearly brought her to her knees. It had been a very long time since she’d had such a strong reaction to a man. If this was what it would be like each time she met one of the Tuatha de Danaan, this mission would be far more challenging than she’d anticipated. 

Keeping her lips carefully closed, she nodded, hoping her trembling didn’t show. “Sir.” 

“I am Aed mac Goll of the Fianna.” He bowed low. 

“I am honored to meet so noble a warrior.” 

“You know of the Fianna?” His features hadn’t changed but the consternation was there in his voice. He held his helmet out to the side and it melted away into the darkness. 

The Fianna were the legendary warriors of the Tuatha de Danaan. They guarded the royal family and when called upon were a fighting force of unparalleled skill. Most of this was known only through human legends, the stories of Ireland detailing the exploits of the Fair Folk, who were once reported to be gods, then made mere men by the monks who recorded the tales. Fact and human myth rarely resembled each other, but Isabel had found that there was usually a kernel of truth buried in the origins of such stories, and what they’d learned of the Tuatha de Danaan since the Wraith Accords had confirmed that piece of legend. 

“I know only enough to be honored.” She curtsied again. 

Aed bowed. “The honor is mine. Will you follow me?” 

He gestured for her to precede him. Isabel let herself be guided deeper into Tara.

About the Author:
Lila Dubois is a tech writer by day and a romance writer by night. She’s living her own version of a romance novel with her Irish Farm Boy, whom she imported to Los Angeles. Having spent extensive time in France, Egypt, Turkey, Ireland and England, Lila speaks five languages, none of them—including English—fluently.

An amazing basket of both Irish and Gothic themed items, include a beautiful scarf, books on mythology, handmade soaps, and jewelry.

Interview: Keri Arthur Fireborn Book Tour + giveaway

Today we have the amazing and very busy Keri Arthur to talk about Fireborn, the first in a new series. What had her delving into the phoenix mythology? What would she do with an invisibility cloak? And does she prefer Pepsi or Coke? Read on my flock...

Sharon: For those who don’t know, tell us a little bit about your new series and Fireborn.

KeriFireborn is the story of Emberly, a phoenix blessed (or cursed) with foresight. When she sees the death of the man she once loved, she steps into alter fate. In the process, she becomes involved in not only the investigation of her boss’s murder, but the efforts to recover his stolen research--research that could forever change the human race--before it falls into the wrong hands.

behold the fantastic!
Donna: The cover for Fireborn is fantastic. Did you have any control over it or were you just pleasantly surprised? More importantly did you strike the pose on the cover when you saw it?
Keri: I didn’t strike a pose, but I certainly did a happy dance! I was asked for suggestions and/or scenes that would work for the cover. There’s one scene where Emberly goes to the rooftop of her building and shifts into firebird form, and that’s basically a snapshot what you’re seeing on the cover. The fabulous Tony Mauro did the cover, and if you go to his website ( ) and scroll down, you can see the full picture; that’s actually Melbourne in the background!

Sharon: What sparked (see what I did there?) the idea for a series about Emberly, a Phoenix? And clever name for a Phoenix by the way <G>.
KeriAnd you have no idea how long I scrolled through baby name sites looking for a suitable name <g>. Basically, I just wanted to write something other than vampires and werewolves, so I spend a lot of time on many different myth and legend sites. The idea of a phoenix--capable of being born time and again out of the ashes of its past--snagged my muse’s interest, simply because of the story lines and history it could offer a character. Plus, there’s not a lot of stories out there at the moment that feature a phoenix as the main character :) 

Donna: I noticed on your blog that you are continually apologizing for not blogging enough. Do you think that sometimes with all the social media outlets now, it might be too much of a good thing? How do you keep up?

KeriWell, I think it’s obvious I don’t, hence the constant apologizing! Lol. I’m also really bad at answering fan email, which is why I have a warning on my website that while I look at emails, I don’t always answer them. It generally depends on where I’m at with my writing, and how busy I am. I tend to concentrate more on Facebook and Twitter (and Google plus when I remember it), simply because they’re just so much easier to check and reply to. Plus, I’ve been blogging for so long now I think I’ve run out of interesting things to talk about!

But yeah, I do think the constant pressure to maintain a media presence can be dangerous, simply because it becomes a time-sink. In the end, the only thing that really matters is writing a book that people want to read, and if Facebook, Twitter and whatever else becomes the next big thing gets in the way of that, then writers need to step away.

Sharon: If I let you borrow my invisibility cloak for a day what would you do?
KeriGood question! And I’m not really would be nice to get some great close up shots of the wildlife around here without them getting spooked and running before I could take a shot. But it would also be nice to tag around after some of my favorite actors, just to see what they were like in real life:)

Sharon: *snickers* Uh, mean like what kind of shampoo Chris Hemsworth uses, cause that is something I would like see...

Donna: You've got a really great site. I loved the Aussie Speak section. Do you have any funny miscommunication stories?

KeriThere was one time when I had to fill a hire car up in the US. Here in Oz, when the pump clicks, it’s generally just a warning you’re getting close to full; we ignore it and go to the second or third click. The pumps I used in the States weren’t like that, so when I ignored the click, it overflowed everywhere. I couldn’t find a bucket of water to wash down the car or disperse the stuff on the concrete, so I went inside and asked for a bucket of water to wash down the petrol. The attendant looked at me blankly; I explained it again, still a blank look. So I said, you know, that stuff you put in the car that runs the engine--I spilled it everywhere. “Ah,” he said, “You mean GAS!” LOL. In Oz, gas is LPG--liquefied petroleum gas, which is actually a gas, and used in heating as well as to run cars. 
in case anyone was confused when Keri mentioned Oz
Sharon: what in the world is chicken chippies? (yes, I stalked your twitter feed)
KeriChicken chippies is slang for chicken chips -- potato chips (or crisps in the UK). Australian’s often get confused in the US when we see chips on the menu, because here it also means hot chips (fries). So when we see burgers and chips, we’re expecting hot chips (fries) not a packet of potato chips! (That is a really weird custom, you know. Lol) 
we will be serving these babies down in the dungeon afterwards

Donna: Culturally, what do you think is the biggest difference between the U.S. and Australia?
KeriI actually don’t think there are many major differences, although I do think the Australian sense of humor doesn’t always translate well in America. And, of course, the gun culture here is very different--Australian’s certainly don’t think it’s their right to carry guns on their person. Our government bought in strict gun regulations after the Port Arthur massacre in the mid 1990’s (in which 35 people died). As a result, there have been no massacres since (there were 11 in the decade before the new rules came in), although there are still gun-related crimes (bad guys will always get guns, no matter how strict the rules).

The main differences are only minor though; for example, while we Aussies love our pets and are more than happy to take them with us to beaches, parks, and on camping holidays, we would never (and indeed are not by law allowed to) take them into supermarkets, restaurants (unless there is outdoor dining), hotels, clothing stores or on public transport (unless it’s a certified guide dog). The serving size of food is also vastly different--we have much smaller servings here in Oz.

Sharon: Got any TV shows you are looking forward to this Summer and Fall?
KeriI’ve got a lot of shows I have to catch up on--Castle, Game of Thrones, and Arrow, just to name a few. But new show wise, I’m looking forward to Constantine, The Flash, Forever, Gotham, and NCIS New Orleans (because I love the city and enjoyed the NCIS intro episode). 
Sam will always be Flash to judging!
Sharon: You like going to craft shows, are you a crafty person? What do you like to buy/make?
KeriI actually don’t make anything myself, but I love hand-made stuff, be it jams, honey, art, or clothes. It not only supports home producers, but it generally either tastes better than anything you could buy in the supermarket, or is totally different to anything you’d find in a clothing store.

Rapid Fire 

all together now...awwwww!
Donna: Platypus or kangaroo?
Keri: I’d have to say Kangaroo, simply because they’re everywhere where I live. And baby roos are very cute.

Sharon: Coke or Pepsi?
KeriNeither by choice (I’m a water or tea woman) but Pepsi if I had to drink one 
Sharon: YES! *balloons and sheep fall from the sky. Sharon looks at Donna* You've got to clean that up :P

in case you don't speak Aussie

Donna: Forest or swamp?
KeriForest. Less mozzies.

Sharon: ship or plane? KeriDepends on where I was going, but plane if I wanted to get there relatively fast (Australia is a long way from anywhere. Lol)

Donna: Vanilla or Chocolate?
Keri: Vanilla if a milkshake, Chocolate if hot

Sharon: fried or baked? 
KeriBaked. Always. Unless we’re talking chips (fries)

Donna: Early bird or night owl?
KeriEarly bird

Sharon: rainbows or storms?

Donna: Chocolate milk or hot chocolate? 

KeriHot Chocolate. Always

Donna and I would like to thank Keri for talking with us today. She also has a flock load of other series for you to try, including the Dark Angels series.

Emberly Pearson isn’t just a phoenix who can take on human form at will, she’s also cursed with the ability to foresee death. So when her dreams reveal the death of Sam, a man she once loved, she does everything in her power to prevent it from happening. But in saving his life, she gets more than she bargained for.

Sam is working undercover for the Paranormal Investigations Team, and those who are trying to murder him are actually humans infected by a plague-like virus. Now all those infected must be eliminated.

But when Emberly’s boss is murdered and his irreplaceable research is stolen, she needs to find the guilty party before she goes down in flames…

About the Author:

Keri Arthur, author of the New York Times bestselling Riley Jenson Guardian series, has now written more than twenty-eight novels. She’s received several nominations in the Best Contemporary Paranormal category of the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Awards and has won RT’s Career Achievement Award for urban fantasy. She lives with her daughter in Melbourne, Australia.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Arts and Crafts with Authors: How to Make a Cat Bed with Tara Fox Hall + giveaway

By Tara Fox Hall

Yes it’s easy, trust me. Why, you ask? Because as a rule I don’t do things that are difficult. I was never much for elaborate sewing, except the costumes that I made for my werecougar daughter Elle when she was young. If it was hard, I wouldn't be here giving instructions, I’d be giving directions to the nearest pet superstore outlet, lol.

This catbed recipe consists of an outer bed (or ring), and an inner pillow. The directions given are for machine sewing, but you could hand sew the catbed just as well, it will just take a lot longer. The catbed sewn here is made of a heart flannel pattern for the outer ring and solid black polar fleece for the inner pillow, with polyester stuffing, but you could use any material you have on hand, such as cotton, panne' velvet, knitted material, fake fur, indoor-outdoor fabric, etc. Just keep in mind that the bed will get hairy with use, so machine washable and dryable fabrics are best (read easiest to keep looking new-ish and non-hairy).

Why this pattern of outer bed and inner pillow? I tried several patterns out years ago with my own cats and this was the pattern they chose. This style bed also lends itself to an electric heater inserted under the central pillow, which is great for cats that are old, or ornery cats like my half-feral Asher cat who lived almost exclusively in the basement where it’s not that warm.

Why did I make catbeds in the first place? Because I needed some and couldn't afford to buy them. I had learned to sew while between jobs in an effort to make Christmas presents, and this was one of my first projects. Anyone who has a cat can always use an extra catbed. And if you can sew a new cover when the old one wears out, it’s a perpetual catbed, the gift that keeps on giving. So I made them easy, durable, and of simple design. But enough about me…let’s get to it!

finished product
1.5 yards of material at least 30” wide
Sewing needle
Stuffing (a 2lb bag will do, about the equivalent of a standard bed pillow)
Sewing machine (optional but recommended)

1. First.... Clear off your chair and sewing machine of other projects. This will only be a problem if—like me—you are either behind in your current dozen projects, or never met a project you didn't embrace like a movie vampire embraces a virgin. It’s too bad if your lover ripped out the stitches in your leather teddy during your last passionate encounter and it needs fixing. Put it to one side. Tomorrow is another day.

2. Decide on the material you want to use. You will need 1.5 yards, unless you really were looking for an excuse to visit the sewing store. Material needs to be 29" x 22" at least for the large oval outside of the bed (you need 2 of these) and inner oval is 18 x14" (you need two of these, too). You can make smaller or larger depending on the size of your cat or little dog.

3. Cut the two ovals out keeping in mind that you need two of each. The material does not have to match! You can make all 4 ovals different colors of the same material or different material.

4. Right sides together, i.e., inside out), sew the outside of the larger oval leaving a hole big enough for your fist to pass through easily. Turn right side out when done.
5. Sew another circle of stitching around the middle of the larger oval leaving no gaps about 3-4” from the outer edge of the bed. This is where the pillow will sit when the bed is finished, but this stitched circle will look much smaller than the size of the pillow.

6. Sewing the inner pillow is easy. Sew around the edges, right sides together. Turn right side out.

 7. Stuff inner pillow, spreading out stuffing with your hand inside so pillow is not lumpy (see pic). Sew the hole where you put the stuffing in closed. 
8. Stitch 5 -7 “stuffing secure-ers” (a.k.a tacking down the stuffing) around the inner pillow to keep the stuffing in place. Sewing through with the needle and thread from one side of the bed to the other at least twice before tying a knot does this. You can do more if you want to, but make sure to do at least 5. This helps secure the stuffing when the bed is being washed and dried.
9. Stuff the outer bed with stuffing, then sew the hole where you put the stuffing in closed. 
10. Use a sticky roller to remove all errant lint and stuffing wisps. Give to cat and see what happens! *

*The finished bed is not werecougar-proof. For ordinary normal size cats ONLY.

Lost Paradise (Promise Me Series Book#8)
While the vampire Devlin rejoices at news of his impending progeny with Sar, werecougar Theo braces for more challenges to his Ranked title, content that after Sarelle has the dhamphir child Devlin will be out of their lives forever. Yet when The Lust reappears, Sar’s world again turns upside down as old hatreds make themselves known, resulting in a steamy affair with the weresnake Lash, a new friendship with the werecoyote Serena, and the severing of Sar from the last remains of her old human life in favor of a new Paradise with Devlin.

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“Theo hates Devlin too, maybe more than he hates me, Sar,” Lash went on. “He knows that you’ll stop being with me soon, but Dev will have you forever—”

“Why exactly is that?” I said, looking Lash in the eyes. “What has Devlin done that Theo hates him like he does? Is it because of Devlin’s treatment of Danial? The women he took from Danial over the years?” Lash had to have been around for something like that, being with Devlin for more than a half century.

Lash sipped his sake, and regarded me for a long moment. “The real reason is none of that,” he hissed finally. “Theo is jealous. It’s hard not to be sometimes, of Dev.” Lash eyed me, then looked away, running his hand through his shaggy hair, and settling back in his chair.

“What do you mean?”

“Devlin has an ease with women,” Lash replied. “Almost a power. They seem drawn to him like bees to honey. As a man, it’s hard not to be jealous a little, even when it’s your good friend. I’ve never had his smoothness, his charm, or his looks, even in my youth. Neither has Theo.”

That was sad but true. Devlin’s charisma was captivating, at least when he wasn’t being annoying, and he was breathtaking to behold.

“There were some women that Danial had, that Devlin seduced,” Lash hissed, as an afterthought. “I was only around for the last one, before you. It was about seventy some years ago, or so.”

“What happened?” I prodded.

His flat eyes held mine, unblinking. “It’s not dinner conversation,” he hissed curtly. “And our food’s here, so let’s eat.”

Deciding it wasn’t worth it to push, I dug in. My eel was delicious, and Lash seemed to enjoy his platter. As we ate, we stuck to safer topics, like Hayden’s gardens. “Can you show me around on Friday morning? The snow’s melted some.”

“Sure,” he hissed. “Just meet me in the kitchen at eight, like usual. Dress in warm clothes.”

That reminded me to ask him, “Do you have any mending? Any clothes that need seams fixed, or tears patched?”

Lash choked on his water. He swallowed quickly, then had some more water. “Why? Are you going to mend them?” he hissed finally.

“I’m teaching Serena to sew,” I said patiently. “Devlin asked me to teach her. I told her to ask her lovers if they have anything that’s ripped or torn, to get some clothes to practice on in real time and—”

“And you’re asking yours?” he finished with a grin, his flat eyes meeting mine.

Tara Fox Hall’s writing credits include nonfiction, horror, suspense, erotica, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She also coauthored the essay “The Allure of the Serial Killer,” published in Serial Killers - Philosophy for Everyone: Being and Killing (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010). Her first full-length action-adventure novel, Lash, published in April 2012. Her vampire series begins in June 2012, with the 1st novel Promise Me. Tara divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice.
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