Archive | July 2013

Book Review: The Choclate Touch by Laura Florand

The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand

Publication Date: 7.30.13

Advanced Reader Copy provided for review

 

I loved this book. The newest entry into the series, The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand, does something that not many romantic novels do: open from the hero’s point of view. And what a hero he is.

Dom is flawed. Really, really flawed. But he has fought his way to where he is, and is so restrained and tender when dealing with Jamie that it almost breaks your heart. Jamie herself was almost broken, before she came to Paris, before Dom.

This one sits with me, still. I finished it last night, and it’s lingering on my palate like a good chocolate should. Just enough to make you crave more.

I think Dom and Jamie’s story is staying with me because of the insecurity. Both of them are riddled with insecurities, real, honest to goodness insecurity. In one of the sweetest parts of the book, Dom goes to see a psychologist so he can learn how to be perfect for Jamie.

He doesn’t realize that the very things he hates about himself is what she loves. Watch, in the book, when they talk about his hands. The scars, their weight and heft and the fact that the cocoa butter has softened them. It’s more than holding hands, it’s more than just sex. (Although that was well done, too!) It’s almost a metaphor, carried out subtly and quietly, and it stays with you.

I’m not going to do the plot in a jot on this one, because I’m pretty sure that you can figure out what the story’s about from the post LOL.

 But I will give it 4.5/5 whispering whimsies.

 

 (Special Shout out to both Kensington and the author: THANK YOU FOR NOT MAKING ME WAIT ANOTHER YEAR FOR THE NEXT ONE! I think I saw that it comes out in December.)

 

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Writing courses, prompts & kick starting your muse…

I’m taking a fiction writing course at the moment (F2K by Writer’s Village University). I’m really enjoying it, even if some of the lessons drive me a little nuts. The point is, I’m writing something, to specs, every week. As the course mentor pointed out to a couple of students: the word count and directions matter. When you go to submit your work, you need to be aware of those things.

But even more than following guidelines, this has gotten me writing on the edge of sanity again. You know, where you do something wildly different from the norm, love it completely, then stress until you get a response? That’s what happened to me this week.

Do an interview/conversation with 2 characters. All dialog, no tags, no directions… just go with it. You can be as creative as you want, but you have to hit the word limit and the other restrictions.

I did it as a story. Almost as if you’re just waiting for the details to be filled in, the actions, the descriptions, none of it is there except as in the conversation. I love it. I could go back and write it as a traditional story, but I think I’d loose to much of what I love about it. The raw emotion.

So. This weeks lesson blew my writing doors wide open. What do you do to get your creative juices flowing? When your muse has high tailed it out of state, gone on vacation, entered the witness protection program, what do you do to get her back to work?

I recently gave another MMP writer a story starter (prompt). I love what she did with it. You can check it out over here.

The prompt itself was: a zombie, a vampire, a druid and a werewolf walk into a bar…

It’s interesting to see where other people go with what you throw at them. All of us could sit down with the same prompt, or the same first sentence, and get something so completely different.

That’s pretty cool.

What do you do to kick start your writing?

Book Review: Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

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Sweetly, by Jackson Pearce is another book that I found by cruising the 2.99 deals over on the Nook page. I love fairytales, and even though this one is a little short (clocking in under 300 pages on my Nook), it never dawned on me that this might be a young adult / younger readers novel. I didn’t know that was indeed the classification until I went back to the book page to grab a shot of the cover. We’re going to have to explore this more fully, soon.

Plot in a Jot: What if… Ansel and Gretchen escaped the forest and the witch that stole their sister from them, only to end up on the other side of the country. Facing another witch (this time a sweet one, who makes candies), another forest… and more questions about their own past.

One of the things that stood out in this for me was Gretchen’s struggle for a voice. She calls it making sure she won’t just vanish… But it could just as easily be her voice, her purpose that she’s seeking. Until she is firmly in place within herself, she can’t even say her sister’s name.

But girls have gone missing in the town where they end up, too. All the way across the country, more and more girls are disappearing. Because the town is so small, most assume that the girls (all 17-18) have up and vanished of their own free will.

It’s a great retelling of the Hansel and Gretel story, taking it and spinning it out into a contemporary “what if” scenario.

Bottom Line: 3.5/4 Woohoo’s… because when a girl not only finds her voice but the guts to battle her witch? That’s something to celebrate.

Steampunk-a-pallooza

In honor of my very good friend, Rie Rose’s release of The Marvelous Mechanical Man, we’re gonna look at steampunk. It’s surprisingly appropriate, since she is the one who first turned my attention to the sub-genre.

 The Marvelous Mechanical Man By Rie Rose.

Ohhh… I am so happy to finally be able to talk about this title. I had the privilege of being a Beta Reader for this story. (A Beta Reader, for those who don’t know, is among the first people to read the story after the author thinks it’s ready. It may go through a couple of rounds, but it gives invaluable insight into the reader’s experience to the author.)

I love the heroine, Jo Mann. Jo is resourceful, bright and has sass to spare. Professor Conn is the classic absent minded variety, except… Except when he isn’t. Like when he agrees to hire Jo as his assistant J This book hooked me from page one and kept me there until the very end. Can’t wait for the next book! Hey Rie Sheridan Rose! We want more Conn-Mann!

A note about this book. The book is set in New York City. It’s one of the very few steampunk novels set in America that I like. Mostly, I like the Victorian England ones, although I can’t put my finger on why. It could be that since I already live in the US, I enjoy living vicariously through my heroines. However, this one was done so well, that I really didn’t miss tea time much at all LOL.

And just so you know, Rie Reccomended to me:

Gail Carriger, the Parasol Protectorate series (incl. Soulless, Timeless, Heartless, etc.). Alpha werewolves? A No-nonsense heroine? Check and check. Great series, I devoured them all.

And then I found on my own:

Cindy Spencer Pape,  Moonlight and Mechanicals and also Kilts & Kraken (what is it with Kraken’s lately?)

If you like steampunk, with a shot of feisty heroines and sometimes, a romance… Give any of these authors a try. It’s well worth it.

 

And if you want to go catch my short, short mood vampire piece, you can grab it over at the MMP blog today. Pop back in and let me know what you think.

Have you read any of the above titles or authors? Do you like steampunk? What authors/titles do you recommend? What do you like about the genre, and what drives you batty?

MMP Anniversary Sale!

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Mocha Memoirs Press, the brilliant publishers who liked my story (Dragon’s Champion) is having an anniversary sale. It’s a wonderful opportunity for readers to score some great reads at a great price. They’ve got some truly great writers, like Rie Sheridan Rose, Billy London, Thomas Olbert and many, many more. OOPS, and don’t forget me!

They also have a great blog. I know, because I write over there on the tenth of the month. This month, I have a moody, flash vampire piece. I’ll post a link when it goes live. But today’s blog post (click here) made me think, really think about who and what I say yes to, and how I say no. It’s not about writing per se, but oh it sure is!

When I received the announcement of the sale, it put my gears to thinking. Not many mainstream publishers give back to their consumers. Tor has their blog and newsletter, which is better done than many. They feature little things by authors about their characters or worlds, short stories, and of course the normal book thumping.

Avon did a one off promotion where they sent out “A Fairy Tale Sampler” by Eloisa James for pre-ordering her current book. Most of it is opening chapters of books I already own, but there is one new short story and lots of little essays on the writing and themes behind the books I already own. Still, obviously, a promotional item but it is something that had value even to someone who owned all the published books it was promo’ing.

But everyone else? Not so much.

So my question for you is, as a writer or publisher, do you feel the need to give back to your readers? Or do you feel that giving them a good book to read is good enough?

As a reader, what kinds of promotional things make you think more favorably of an author or publisher? A magnificent sale so you can get both favorites and new authors at a great price? A varied blog? Promo materials that give something new? 

MMP is relatively new: they opened in 2010. At three years, they seem to have a good handle on reaching out to their readers. I wish the big boys could learn that lesson as well.

Book Review: Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson

 

 

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I found this through the Nook cheapies page (it’s currently $2.99 for Nook- go snatch it up!). It’s definitely a paranormal, what with wizards and werewolves and shifters and vampires OH MY! But the part that interests me in this is the way the main character, Drusilla, deals with the fall of her hero.

Plot in a Jot: DJ is the Jr. Sentinel for New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hits, decimating not only New Orleans but the border with Old Orleans. Her mentor and Sr. Sentinel goes missing and she has to figure out what happened to him and how to get those of Old Orleans to respect the borders. Oh! And there’s a sexy co-sentinel for her, as well as his sexy cousin.

I like it when a character is conflicted to the point that DJ is in this novel. Gerry practically raised her. Her father gave her up, then her grandmother handed her over to a total stranger and no one has ever told her why. But Gerry has become the center of her compass point: he is mentor, friend, father figure and more. As what happened both before and after the destruction of New Orleans unravels, DJ is conflicted. At first, she believes he has been kidnapped, held against his will. Then as she slowly comes to terms with what is going on…

Well, as that’s happening she gets a magic stick. Becomes closer to her co-sentinel, developing a relationship (not necessarily romantic although that might happen too).  Oh. For a little while, she also gets a dog named Gandolf. Hehehehehe. Oh, and some powers that she has no clue how to use.

Yah, this series is going to be a fun ride.

Bottom line: 4/5 WHOOHOO’s, because although Sookie might be gone we now have the Sentinels.