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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Book Review: Wicked Embers (Souls of Fire #2) by Keri Arthur

Wicked Embers, fiction, image, paranormal romance
Wicked Embers (Souls of Fire #2)
by Keri Arthur

Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
July 7th 2015
by Signet Select
Keri Arthur, New York Times bestselling author of Fireborn, presents the thrilling new Souls of Fire Novel featuring Emberly Pearson, a phoenix that can transform into a human—and is haunted by the ability to foresee death....

Crimson Death, the plague like virus spawned from a failed government experiment to isolate the enzymes that make vampires immortal, continues to spread. Emberly and her partner, Jackson Miller, are desperately seeking the stolen research for a cure before the virus becomes a pandemic.

But their mission is jeopardized by another threat uncovered in Emberly’s prophetic dreams. A creature of ash and shadow has been unleashed on a murdering spree. Now Emberly must summon all her gifts and investigative knowledge to put an end to this entity’s brutal rampage—even if it means placing herself in harm’s way.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this story and the first few chapters definitely peaked my interest...but then...HAM...I was hit full force with a very complicated plot and many characters. Whew, many intertwining threads and relationships. I may have started behind the eight ball with this one because I have not read the initial book in the series and there were quite a few references made that had me scratching my head.

Let's see, there is Emberly (MC) who is a Phoenix and is in love with Sam who is head of PIT (a supernatural policing agency) but Sam broke her heart because he couldn't (or wouldn't) understand why Em still had to "mate" with Rory (another Phoenix). Hmmmm...can't say I blame him! Rory is Em's life mate. They need to convert to their fire forms and mate to recharge energy and procreate. Ok, now there is Jackson, Em's "friend with benefits" and work partner. He's a fire fae and is a very sexual character.

But I digress because this really isn't a romance's a paranormal crime story. On this thread you have the syndecati (vampire mafia), the Red and Grey cloaks, a red plague virus and a "smoky" shape shifting supernatural monster (unrelated?). It seemed to jump from one crisis to another and it wasn't until the last 25% of the book that I caught up and became invested again in the story...then it ended! ARGHH! I am sure the crimes and love interests will be further explored in the next episode but I felt a little cheated of some closure.

I must say, phoenix have some pretty great talents and I sure wouldn't want to have them on my bad side but I can't see any "good" romances in their futures because of being saddled to a life mate with no real emotional connection. I would advise starting with the first book in the series to get all the background information and see this book with "informed" eyes. Or perhaps all the heat and flames made my eyes a little smokey!

I give this 3 "hot" sheep

Jeanie G

author, Keri Arthur, image, writer
About the Author:
Keri Arthur is the New York Times bestselling author of the Dark Angels and Riley Jenson Guardian series. She has written more than thirty books, received several Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award nominations in the Best Contemporary Paranormal category, and has won RT’s Career Achievement Award for Urban Fantasy. She lives with her daughter outside of Melbourne, Australia. 

45 New Book Releases in Speculative Fiction for June 30

Time to look between the couch cushions and under the bed for any loose change...or you can just one click that b**** and worry about it later.
Here are some great releases. No WTF-ery this week...maybe they are saving it up for the first of next month.
Behold...the shiny.

Interview: Nancy Northcott (The Herald of Day: The Boar King’s Honor Trilogy Book One) + giveaway

Nancy Northcott, author, image, fiction
Hello Nancy! We interviewed you a little over a year ago, you’ve done numerous guest posts with us and Katie and I got to meet you in person at Coastal Magic 2015. Not to mention I’ve seen you at Concarolinas too. So…you tired of us yet? <G>
Nancy: Not hardly, as the saying goes! Y’all are always a lot of fun. Thanks for having me back.

The Two Princes Edward and Richard
in the Tower, 1483
by Sir John Everett Millais,
Sharon: You’ve written many books in your Light Mage series, but it looks like you got something new coming out! Tell us a bit about The Boar King’s Honor Trilogy.
Nancy: The trilogy is about a mageborn knight’s misplaced trust, a king wrongly blamed for murder, and a bloodline cursed until they clear the king’s name. At least one character in each of the three books is descended from a magically gifted knight who used his power to help someone gain access to the Tower of London and murder Edward IV’s sons, who’re better known as The Princes in the Tower. Those characters must deal with the weight of their blood curse while struggling with larger problems assailing England.

I’ve been interested in English history for most of my life, and one of its biggest mysteries is what happened to the Princes in the Tower. Shakespeare and Sir Thomas More would have us believe their uncle, Richard III, did away with them to clear his path to the throne, but the evidence on that is far from clear. There are other likely suspects.

King Richard III
On top of that, Richard III didn’t need to murder his nephews to claim the throne because Parliament had already declared him the rightful heir in an act called Titulus Regius. It declared that Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was void because he had contracted (and consummated) a previous union. That rendered the two boys bastards with no claim to the throne.

So that’s the historical background. Wondering what actually happened led me to think about what could have happened, especially if magic was involved. The result was this trilogy.

Sharon: Is the trilogy more urban fantasy or is there romance too?
Nancy: It’s urban fantasy, but each book will have a romantic arc in it.

fiction, book, romance, fantasy, historical
Sharon: What time period does The Boar King’s Honor take place in? What is something people during that time period had to deal with that the average person might not know…or want to know <G>.
Nancy: The first book, The Herald of Day, takes place in 1674, during the reign of Charles II. London was still being rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1666, and it wasn’t a simple process. Sanitation was one serious issue back then, and not only in London, of course, though they had sort of pseudo toilets called close stools.

I chose this period because that’s when the bones now in Westminster Abbey, supposedly those of Edward IV’s sons, were discovered at the Tower of London. That discovery was integral to the time travel aspect of the story. A powerful mage has discovered a way to alter history so that the mageborn rule England with everyone else as their slaves. As the changes in the timeline manifest, famine, plague, and abnormal weather result.

The second book, The Steel Rose, takes place during the 100 days between Napoleon’s escape from Elba and his defeat at Waterloo. People in that era had to deal with the economic and social problems resulting from having been at war for more than a decade.

The trilogy concludes with The King’s Champion, which is set during the early days of World War II. As one European country after another fell to the German blitzkrieg, and with the US not yet in the war, Britain stood very much alone against the Nazi juggernaut.

The Herald of Day will be out late this summer, with the other two books following in the next 12 months or so.

cover, fiction, paranormal, romance, fantasy,
Sharon: I assume you are still writing more Light Mage books. What’s coming up for that series?
Nancy: I absolutely am. I’m a little behind where I’d hoped to be on account of an exciting opportunity to work on a romantic suspense anthology, but the mages are never far from my mind. In addition to keeping the books going, I’m kicking around some ideas for short stories.

The next novel should be out in late summer or early fall. It’ll be Nemesis, Tasha Murdock and Carter Lockwood’s story. They served together in the U.S. Navy but couldn’t act on the attraction between them because Carter was Tasha’s commanding officer. Then their situation blew up because of something Tasha did that Carter had to call her on the carpet for. Their parting was cold and angry.

Circumstances reunited them in the last book, Warrior, though they didn’t spend much time actually together. Now ghouls and traitor mages are after Tasha, and Carter is assigned as her bodyguard. Neither of them loves that situation, but there’s no avoiding it. With help from their friends, they try to keep her safe while they figure out what the enemy wants with her.

Sharon: You recently took a trip for research to Dover Castle. How was the trip and did you discover something that you will use in your book?
Nancy: The trip was fabulous, thanks! I’ll be able to draw on it for two books. For those who don’t know, the castle sits high on the cliffs above Dover, and its grounds include the ruins of a Roman lighthouse and an old, restored church.

The coast of France would be visible on a clear day, but we could barely see it because the day was hazy. It was also very windy, especially on the headland where the church and the lighthouse are. I can use both of those experiences. The castle and the church figure in The Herald of Day.

I also stood on the beach near the harbor and toured the tunnels inside the cliffs. Those tunnels were the headquarters of Channel Command during World War II, and the evacuation of Dunkirk, which figures in The King’s Champion, was coordinated from there.
Sharon: Got some pics to share? Got a fact about castle living that people might not realize?
Nancy: Here are the church and lighthouse. I’m also sending one of me with the castle in the background. As for castle living, people may not know that noblemen had to get licenses from the crown to crenellate the walls. Crenellating creates that spaced-apart-teeth pattern along the top of a wall.
Dover Castle, image, picture, England,Dover Castle, Nancy Northcott, author, fiction

Sharon: You love to collect history books. Do you have a special book you would never lend to anyone? Can we have a pic of your book collection?

Nancy: I’m sorry to say that I’ve had several experiences with books never making it home after being loaned out, so I don’t lend them anymore. Even before that became my policy, though, I would not have let anyone borrow Paul Murray Kendall’s Yorkist England or my books on medieval and early modern London and on social life and customs in different eras. They would just be too hard to replace.

My husband laughed about your request for a picture of the collection because it won’t fit in one photo. I’ve attached a shot showing one of the two bookcase I’ve jammed with books about Britain.
historical, books, shelf, imagehistorical, books, shelf

Sharon: Congratulations on being a guest author at Concarolinas 2015. It is practically in your backyard. As an author, what do you get out of going to conventions? Are you going to any others this year?
convention, panel, image, fiction, authors
Southern Ghouls Do It Better Panel
Nancy: Thanks! I’m very excited about the con. I’ve been a speaker at various RWA events, but as a lifelong geek, I’ve always wanted to be a guest at a science fiction convention. This is my first opportunity.

The advantage to being a guest author, of course, is that it gives me exposure and may lead some readers to check out my books, but I enjoy conventions in general. I like watching the cosplayers and talking to people about the books they enjoy. It’s also fun to discover new-to-me authors.

I’m going to DragonCon, though not as a guest, and I’m presenting a workshop on worldbuilding at the Georgia Romance Writers’ conference, Moonlight and Magnolias. I would love to attend some other conventions but at still in the stage of figuring out which ones I should try.
Sharon: What panel did you learn the most from or have the most fun at while at Concarolinas?
Nancy: That’s a hard one! I had fun on every panel. If I have to pick one, it’s probably Southern Ghouls Do It Better, which was about the South as a setting. The people on the panel used setting in different ways and had a great sense of humor about mistakes non-natives make.

I probably learned the most on Nature as A Character. I got intriguing peeks behind the other authors’ fictional worlds.

Sharon: If you had a 1-800 hotline for your series (either) what would the number be? (What would it spell out ex. 1-800-GOT MAGE actually that is a pretty good one if you want to use it <G>)
Nancy: I like it! How about 1-800-HOT MAGE? *g* That would be great for the Light Mages. For the Boar King, I’m tempted to go with 1-800-BIG-TRUBL cause the characters have quite a few calamities to face.

Rapid Fire

Sharon: Oatmeal or grits?
Nancy: Toss-up, but I’ll go with oatmeal this week.
Sharon: How do you like your oatmeal? Brown sugar? Cinnamon?
Nancy: Brown sugar, raisins, and a little milk.

Sharon: big dog or little dog?
Nancy: Big dog.

Sharon: polka-dots or checkered?
Nancy: Polka-dots.

Sharon: Spring or Fall?
Nancy: Spring.

Sharon: Dinner or supper?
Nancy: Supper. That’s what I grew up saying.
Sharon: Have a favorite super your mom made when you were growing up?
Nancy: Roast beef with rice and gravy. My mom’s roast beef gravy was just amazing.
Thanks so much for having me, Sharon!

The Boar King’s Honor Trilogy

A mageborn knight’s misplaced trust

A king wrongly blamed for murder

A bloodline cursed until they clear the king’s name

Book 1: The Herald of Day
Witchcraft is a hanging offense, so tavern maid Miranda Willoughby hides her magical gifts until a series of visions forces her to summon the knight they show her. He is Richard Mainwaring, a mageborn earl cursed because an ancestor unwittingly helped murder Edward IV’s sons, who became known as the Princes in the Tower.

Together, Miranda and Richard battle a plot to change England's history and create a dictatorship of the mageborn. Their quest to stop it takes them from the glittering court of Charles II to the foot of the gallows tree and beyond, to a shadowy realm between life and death where a final battle will decide not only England's course but the fate of their love.

About the Author:
Nancy Northcott’s childhood ambition was to grow up and become Wonder Woman. Around fourth grade, she realized it was too late to acquire Amazon genes, but she still loved comic books, science fiction, fantasy and YA romance. A sucker for fast action and wrenching emotion, Nancy combines the romance and high stakes she loves in the books she writes.

Her debut novel, Renegade, received a starred review from Library Journal. The reviewer called it “genre writing at its best.” Nancy is a three-time RWA Golden Heart finalist and has won the Maggie, the Molly, the Emerald City Opener, and Put Your Heart in a Book.

Married since 1987, Nancy and her husband have one son, a bossy dog, and a house full of books.