Tuesday, 31 March 2015

House of Royals by Keary Taylor - Cover Reveal

House of Royals, by
Keary Taylor
Publication Date:
June 21, 2015
Genres:  Fantasy,
New Adult
Xpresso Book Tours

Every town has its history and skeletons, but Silent Bend, Mississippi’s are darker than most. Ruled from the shadows by the House—the immortal Born and their aging, enslaved Bitten—everyone knows not to go out after dark, and the police will never look into crimes involving blood.

Alivia Ryan didn’t know the man who claims to be her father through a will even existed until she inherits the Conrath plantation. Instead of the sleepy house she expects, she finds a mansion and a staff who look at her with fear in their eyes.

Ian Ward tried to kill Alivia the first time they met, and then insisted he train her to defend herself against the House, that he claims will try to manipulate and take her in for its own political reasons. And the growing attraction between them will threaten their lives—Ian is a sworn enemy of the House.

In Silent Bend, people disappear. The threat of a demented King and the legend of his resurrecting Queen hang over everyone’s heads, and proving loyalty means far more than blood.

You’d better watch who you trust in this town…

Keary Taylor grew up along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains where she started creating imaginary worlds and daring characters who always fell in love. She now resides on a tiny island in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their two young children. She continues to have an overactive imagination that frequently keeps her up at night. She is the author of THE EDEN TRILOGY, the FALL OF ANGELS trilogy, and WHAT I DIDN’T SAY. To learn more about Keary and her writing process, please visit: Keary Taylor Website

Author Links:

Thursday, 26 March 2015

First Review for The Everlasting Spell!

Excited to reach a first milestone recently; a first review for The Everlasting Spell (4 stars!).

Please see below, Tina Williams' review (areadersreviewblog) of The Everlasting Spell. Please also enjoy my video trailer that I put together myself - indie all the way!

"I found this to be a quick, entertaining paranormal romance, which also contains magic, humour and an underlying sense of menace. It is essentially a modern day fable, which warns the reader to be careful what they wish for!

The story was very realistic in how it portrayed the thoughts and actions of the heroine Sabina, as she goes about her life at college and her attraction to Justin, the college hottie. This contrasted nicely with the scenes which described the strange and magical Celandrium Shop and the Everlasting Spell which she purchases. I particularly liked the scenes in which Sabina invokes the spell and the descriptions of the mysterious shop and the shopkeeper.

Whilst Sabina is thrilled when the spell is a great success and she gains Justin’s attention, she begins to have second thoughts….. Yet what is a girl to do when powerful moon magic has been invoked? Can the spell be stopped or reversed or will she be the recipient of Justin’s increasingly obsessive attraction to her forever?

I will not reveal any more, but suffice to say that there is a twist to this engaging tale, which will appeal to lovers of romance and the paranormal alike. A copy of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review."

Available at Amazon Kindle eBooks
Smashwords Edition

Monday, 23 March 2015

Bittersweet, Faerie Song Trilogy 2, by Michele Barrow-Belisle - Cover Reveal

Bittersweet:  By Michele Barrow-Belisle
(Faerie Song Trilogy #2)
Published By: Astraea Press
Publication Date:  March 24, 2015
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

To save the Faery world and her mother's life, Lorelei sacrificed everything, and the dangerous bargain she made in Nevermore had lasting repercussions. Now safely back in her own world, Lorelei seems the same to her highschool friends and her supernatural boyfriend. Yet love across dimensions is complicated, especially when an invisible Veil between the two worlds - the only bridge that links the pair, is sealing, threatening to separate Lorelei and Adrius forever. Determined to find a solution, Lorelei resorts to using her new found powers. But when her friends succumb to the same mysterious illness that nearly took her mother's life, Lorelei can't help but wonder if her own dark magic is responsible. Still, the nightmares from Nevermore continue their icy hold. Someone from Adrius' past arrives, determined to destroy Lorelei's world starting with those closest to her, and Lorelei is forced to choose between her family and friends and a love that was ill-fated from the start.
Bittersweet on Goodreads
Purchase Book 1
Bittersweet Available at Amazon
Fire and Ice Available at Barnes and Noble

A dreamer at heart, Michele Barrow-Belisle has always lived with one foot in this reality and one foot in another, one of her own imagining. So it follows that she would grow up to write about and sculpt the characters from those enchanting worlds she knows and loves so well. As a fan of everything romantic, her young adult novels are populated with witches and vampires and faeries. Michele resides in southern Canada with her hubby and son who indulge her passions for writing, reading, lattes, and most of all chocolate.

She also loves shoes.

Did we mention the chocolate?

Author Links:
Michele Barrow-Belisle Website
Michele on Facebook
Michele on Twitter
Michele on Goodreads

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Ghost in the Machine, S.J. Davis - Review

I was excited to buy Ghost in the Machine after reading the description of the story and some of the early reviews as there’s a part of me that really thrills to what I perceive to be the adventure and interesting, peculiar tech of steam punk.

There is another novel with a very similar title, The Ghost in the Machine, written by Arthur Koestler, and published in 1967. It’s essentially about the mind-body connection from a philosophical psychology perspective and I was curious to see if S.J. Davis’ book would mirror this idea. There are actually many other novels with this title.

From the outset, Ghost in the Machine is an action-packed, steam punk, time-travel  mystery.  Davis intertwines settings between Victorian England 1865 and a future time 2134 when developments in the Victorian time come to have negative outcomes in the future. It is about the chrononauts of the future travelling into the past to alter actions that were the inception of the despotic control mechanism of OmniCorp.

Davis’ characters are very believable regular people that embark on an amazing adventure. Caroline and Josephine are very good foils as one is of higher social standing and concerned with keeping her fashionable hat in perfect order while Josephine is an intelligent tutor; however, they both come together in that they like to get down to brass tacks. Bodhi, Josephine’s foster brother, is a clock repairman and inventor. The story expertly weaves the reader in and out from the events in 1865 and the lives of Yeshua and Nico who are determined to escape the control of OmniCorp in 2134.

The reader is swept through a Victorian London replete with dirigibles, gas lighting, and mechanized fighting robots, to 2134 where everyone is on the ‘feed’ and micro-chipped. We find the characters moving between past and future and visiting each other’s timelines, and eventually, the timelines becoming mixed up.

Davis addresses many issues including determinism versus free will, the conundrum of time travel and how changing things in the past can change the future, and many difficult social issues of both time periods.

I found the novel had a dark undertone in that there is a focus on the lower aspects of life. The reader is made fully aware of London’s gin houses, prostitution and different sexual practices (Madame Francesca and her brothel are an important element of the book), many aspects of the drug culture, cutting, and the stench and filth of London’s streets as well as OmniCorp’s off-grid back streets. While these elements are without doubt a part of life, I found this focus somewhat depressing after a while.

There are also numerous typos throughout the book, and some words are missing.

The ending however is quite amazing. And I learned something very curious; that a certain emerald green dye used in wallpapers and clothing in the 1800s was very toxic, causing early death (no longer used).

I give Ghost in the Machine 4 stars, with a note that the reader will see much of the seedier parts of life.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Vengeance, by Katie M. John - Cover Reveal

‘VENGEANCE’ (Book Two of The Meadow Sweet Chronicles), explores the aftershocks of the devastating events that take place in book one, Witchcraft. The various parties are spread as they head off to nurse their wounds and plan for their own personal vengeance.

With the Ravenhearts gathering allies in Mexico, bargaining more than they’d hoped for with the High Priestess of the Southern Territories, Geavanna, Swan heads towards the sanctuary of Salem, Massachusetts  and ‘The Farm’, a community of Witches who have sought escape from various persecutions.

Back in Heargton, Fox struggles to cope with the raging storm of emotions over her sister’s absence and the consequences of the blood bond with Jeremiah. As much as her blossoming relationship with Will Harrington provides a welcome distraction, she is coming to realise that Jeremiah and her are linked in a way that will never be broken.

Jeremiah's blood legacy continues to torment him as he faces an internal struggle between his inner nature and love for a girl that cannot be his, and if his inner demons were not enough, he is plagued by a pair of demonic spirit children, who are being used as a pawn in somebody else's game of power.
Katie is the London based bestselling author of the YA contemporary Arthurian series, ‘The Knight Trilogy’. To grab a copy of Book 1, Witchcraft, in The Meadow Sweet Chronicles, here's the link:
Witchcraft, on Amazon

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Shadow, Shadow by V.B. Marlowe - Review

Shadow, Shadow: Book One of the Shadow Pines Trilogy, by V.B. Marlowe
Published by:  V.B. Marlowe on February 15, 2015
Genre:  Teen and Young Adult, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Fantasy, Paranormal & Urban
Pages:  312 pages Kindle
Source:  Xpresso Book Tours

Harley Fox receives a mysterious gift on her sixteenth birthday-a shadow box. The box gives her the power to trade someone to the shadows, meaning they will disappear and cease to exist. Harley can't imagine doing such a horrible thing and is warned the box comes at a price. Unfortunately, not using the box can be even more costly. Harley must make this life-altering decision as she discovers frightening revelations about the town she calls home. Ages 13 and up. 
Four Shadow Pines high school students turn 16 on the very same day and each is given a free gift (a shadow box) from the newly opened “Mr. Enigma’s Novelty Shop”.

One of them, Harley Fox, is about as strange as the town of Shadow Pines that she lives in. Harley has been seeing “creepy things” since she was 12. It doesn’t help that she wants to make scary movies one day in Hollywood, or that she dreams constantly that she will be shot dead one day, sometime before she makes it into her late 30s. Without doubt, she is the typically misunderstood teen.

Harley is a good lead character as she has spunk, doesn’t care what other people think, and acts on her ideas. I also liked that despite her own hard knocks in life, she still has consideration for others, especially in dealing with ‘trading’ someone to the shadows. I like Harley.

V.B. Marlowe writes Shadow, Shadow from two POVs; that of Harley, the main character, and Teaghan, another student who shares not only her birthday but her social misfit standing. We are plunged into the social and private agonies of teenage life set on the backdrop of the mysterious town, Shadow Pines so I think early teens who are into paranormal/fantasy would really relate to and enjoy reading Shadow, Shadow.

I like the idea of the terrible shadow box and how each of the recipients deals with its dark power. How many of us in life might be like Teaghan who, having discovered a way to simply get rid of everyone that mistreated, threatened, or otherwise made her life miserable, simply gloried in it? That Harley, Brock, and Gianna have huge reservations about using the box at all gives one thought as the act of ‘trading’ someone greatly affects the lives of the victim’s loved ones, never mind what happens to the victim. The author might have actually made more of this terrifying aspect of the shadow box.

Ava-Kaya, owner of Mr. Enigma’s Novelty Shop, gifts the shadow boxes. Through her we learn something of the grisly history of Shadow Pines and about the shadows. She is not straightforward and we see that she also manipulates the four students against each other with secret deals.

The writing style is mostly dialogue and action of the characters. I wanted to see more about other townspeople, as well as more exploration of the main characters’ thoughts and how they felt about things. For example, we see Teaghan retreating into herself because she feels ostracized by other students. She might wonder why they behave the way they do, and maybe even consider whether she could do something about it. I would also have liked to have seen more about the fact that people go missing frequently in Shadow Pines, never to return, either on the news or discussed by other townspeople. This scale of missing persons would be considered a national emergency!

Overall, I found this an easy read about the spooky town of Shadow Pines. Harley, the main character, is a high-spirited high school student challenged with the gift of a terrifying shadow box. I think this is a great read for early teens into paranormal and Gothic-style novels.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Is It Worth Twitter Pitching Your New Book?

Twitter pitch contests, or parties, are a fairly recent development in the online publishing world. These are day-long Twitter sessions whereby writers tweet enticing pitches about their new works via a hashtag that is reviewed by publishing house representatives and agents. It’s fascinating to watch Twitter’s instantaneous and expansive social reach being used this way, but it brings up the question about how well this works for both writer and publisher.

Publishing house agents or representatives ‘favourite’ a Twitter pitch to let the author know they’re interesting in seeing their book, and/or twitter what exactly they would like you to send. It’s a fast-paced, 12-hour day.

A popular Twitter pitch party is #PitMad (hosted by Brenda Drake). This is held four times a year and is for all writing genres.  Their upcoming pitch party will be on March 11, 2015.  The remaining pitches for the year will be:  June 4, 2015, September 10, 2015, and December 4, 2015. There are other pitches that run as well including #AdPit (ran Feb 5, 2015), #PitchMadness (just ran in February),and  #SFFPit (does not appear to have a 2015 schedule up that I can find at this time), and others.

From a writer’s perspective, my main questions are just how effective is Twitter pitching, and is it worth participating?  In researching the possibilities of this opportunity, I found Dan Koboldt’s website (author and scientist).  He has done a very useful study on the statistics of twitter pitching from a pitch contest in early 2014.

The bottom line is that Dan Koboldt estimates the odds of one's pitch getting a ‘favourite’ at #PitMad are between 6.5% and 10%.  Please see Dan Koboldt’s Guest Post on January 13, 2014

At first glance, based mostly on his study and researching the web, it appears that the chances of actually getting ‘favourited’, and therefore just getting the opportunity to submit your work to an interested party, are very low. There is the additional hurdle of having a publishing house then offering to acquire your manuscript for publication. However, this does happen.  Here are a few success stories for inspiration:

Diana Urban

Dina von Lowenkraft

Kristine Asselin

Also, Amy U’Ren @amylaurenwrites notes on January 26, 2015 she is now represented by The Bent Agency thanks to #PitMad!

I think Twitter pitching is definitely worth doing if you have a completed, edited manuscript ready for submission, and can take the time to pitch through different parts of the day. However, I would keep my expectations modest.

Check out how to craft a tantalizing pitch from online advice. Tweet your pitches if possible 2 times an hour 8:00 am through 8:00 pm, changing the order of the words and placement of hashtags to vary your tweets a little each time. If your pitch gets a ‘favourite’, then follow that editor’s/publishing house’s submission guidelines to submit, advising them you were invited to submit. If you’re interested in being represented by them. If you don’t get a ‘favourite’, just take in the experience and don’t get down about it. You’re in with lots of good company J

Ultimately, it’s worth participating in events that will get your name out there, especially if you’re a relatively new author. Hopefully it will bring you some great contacts as well. And maybe you’ll get into that magical 10%! As my novella, the Iron Web, is currently still a WIP, I won’t be pitching until later in the year, even though I’m an Indie. In the meantime, I’ll be watching the March 11 party to see how things work.

As for the publishing houses, they do acquire new talent via Twitter pitches though the numbers currently look to be low. This trend seems to be on an upward swing, so perhaps this will eventually become a significant way for new authors in particular to get noticed.

If you have interesting tales of your Twitter pitches and if they’ve brought you success and/or great contacts, I would love to read about them in the comments section. Good luck in your 2015 pitches.

Your Guide to #PitMad