Thursday, 30 June 2011

Versatile Blogger? ........ Apparently!

So my friend, Julie Particka (or Seleste deLaney for some) decided, in her wisdom, to bestow this award on me. What makes me versatile? Not a fucking clue! Ask her.

So anyway, part of receiving this award is that I have to now share 7 interesting facts about me with people. Problem is .... I don't think I have 7 interesting facts to share! o_O But I'll try.

1) (On Julie's recommendation) I have a weird taste in house furnishings. My toilet lid is see through with barbed wire running through it and my bathroom light pull is a Hanging Harry.

2) Most people probably think I'm a rocker/mosher/whatever-you-want-to-call-it when they see me ~ tattoos and piercings generally do that to people. And while they wouldn't be wrong about that fact (I like me some rock music), they'd be surprised to learn that I also like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and the likes.

3) (Not really an interesting fact, but this is HARD!) I have a very poor body image. And even though I know I have a poor body image, it doesn't help me try and do anything about it. I think it's one of those things that stay with you throughout your whole life.

4) I hate kids. I was going to leave it at that but it looked very angry so I decided to write this little bit instead.

5) Most of my friends have actually never seen my real hair colour other than in pictures. I;ve been dying it since I was about 15.

6) People always ask me how many tattoos I have and seem to find it unbelievable when I say I don't know. I stopped keeping count a while ago and it means I have to count them every time someone asks so "I don't know" is easier.

7) I didn't realise how much I missed Veterinary Nursing until I got back into after a 3 and a half year break. The reason behind my break still stands but I wish I hadn't taken so long away from my career of choice.

OK, so now I have to give this to other bloggers? Hmmmmm, who should I torture on my list?! lol

Sara Hawthorn 'cos she's funny and smart and posts some good stuff.

Jax just 'cos she hasn't posted anything in a while so I think this should be her newest post :p

Tez Miller is funny and posts some good reviews and keeps me up to date with new covers.

Quarter Square by David Bridger

English Carpenter Joe Walker thinks his life is over when he discovers his wife and best friend having an affair. Restoring an abandoned theatre offers little hope for a fresh start ... until he follows a group of strangers through a hidden door into a world he never could have imagined.

In the haven known as Quarter Square, Joe encounters a community of supernatural street performers who straddle the mortal world and the magic realm known as the Wild. Here, Joe finds a sense of belonging he's never known before - and a chance to uncover the truth behind the frightening visions that have haunted him since childhood. He also meets Min, an enchanting singer who quickly captures his heart.

But as Joe settles into Quarter Square, he learns their haven is under attack, while an ancient enemy threatens to tear him and Min apart. Now, Joe must learn to wield his own powers in order to save the life he's come to love ...

This book started quite strong, it was a definite attention grabber and made me want to keep reading. I liked Joe although I have to question his sanity.

He stumbled upon Quarter Square completely by accident and bought the whole idea of a hidden village and magic with no questions! (SPOILERS: highlight to read) OK, so yeah we eventually find out that he has been reincarnated many times over thousands of years because he's Min's soul mate. But still, he shouldn't have bought it that quick, especially since he couldn't remember his past lives until after he'd found out about them from Min.

This small annoyance aside, I liked the story and the characters. And can't wait to read more ~ the end made it seem like there's more to come!

Amazon UK: Quarter Square

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Cat's Tale: A Fairy Tale Retold by Bettie Sharpe

Once upon a time there was a scheming, lying tart who cared for nothing but her own pleasures and her shoe collection.

Once the peerlessly beautiful Lady Catriona, consort to the king, Cat's fortunes fall far when her aged husband dies. The king's wizard turns her into a cat and tries to drown her in the mill pond. Fortunately Cat is a clever survivor and enlists the help of Julian, the miller's youngest son, in her plan for revenge.

She originally sees Julian as a mere pawn for her plans to break her curse, but as they work together Cat comes to know and care for him. Even if the curse can be broken, can a good-hearted man love a woman who has been as vain and selfish as Cat?

I tried to like this book, I really did, but it was a struggle to get through. I know the whole point of Lady Catriona is that she's a spoiled little bitch queen and she needs a story to mend her wicked ways .... blah blah blah. But she was such a spoiled, moody little madam that I hated her from the get go, not good for the lead character in the story.

I still like the idea of the story. A classic kids story retold with a wee twist, I love that idea and it's the reason I wanted to read this book. So yeah, the story is fantastic ....... BUT the lead character is a major buzzkill and a total off putter for me.

So yeah, if you want to read a nice wee retell of a classic then read this. The good thing is, it's short. So if (like me) you're hating on Catriona, you don't have to put up with her for very long.

Amazon UK: Cat's Tale: A Fairy Tale Retold

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Soul Survivor by Misty Evans

Haunted by tragedy, FBI profiler Rife St. Cloud is driven to find the person who brutally attacked six women. Unfortunately the only survivor, Keva Moon Water, has no memory of what happened, and the evidence makes her the prime suspect.

Keva cannot die. She has waited a thousand years to be reunited with the man she loves, whose soul sleeps within Rife. Though he refuses to believe her claims of immortality, there's no denying the passion that burns between them. Keva desperately hopes their sexual connection will be enough to awaken Rife's memories of the love affair that started a war and bound their souls together for all eternity.

But when Keva's own memories come trickling back, she realizes that a future with Rife depends upon confronting the mistakes of the distant past...

One complaint ....... too short! I really enjoyed this book, it's different from a lot that's on the market just now. A bit of magic, a bit of time travelling and a lot of sexual tension = Awesome!

Keva is a nice heroine and Rife sounds hot (and completely unlike the cover model that I assume is supposed to be him) and there is a lot of sexual attraction between them. Mainly because they are soul mates and have been for over a thousand years. It's just that Rife doesn't really know this.

The story is well paced and well told. I've decided I really like Misty Evans' writing style and will be looking up her Witches Anonymous series. And upon checking out the author's website, I have just discovered that Soul Survivor is the first in a series so (hopefully) I'll be reading more of that as well soon. Whether it'll be more of Keva or Rife or if it'll be new characters is an unanswered question (to me at least) at the moment.

Amazon UK: Soul Survivor

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Goddess With A Blade by Lauren Dane

Rowan Summerwaite is no ordinary woman. Physical vessel to the Celtic Goddess Brigid and raised by the leader of the Vampire Nation, she's a supercharged hunter with the power to slay any vampire who violates the age-old treaty.

A recent string of murders has her at odds with Las Vegas's new Scion, the arrogant and powerful Clive Stewart. The killings have the mark of Vampire all over them, and Rowan warns Clive to keep his people in line - or she'll mete out her own brand of justice.

Though her dealings with Clive are adversarial to say the least, Rowan is intensely aware of her attraction to him. But she can't let it distract her from her duty-to find and battle the killer before more women die.

I'll admit it took me a while to get into this story. Nothing exciting happened for a while but then when it did, it came thick and fast. I'm glad I kept reading.

Rowan is an interesting character and her inner turmoil makes great reading. She's a vampire hunter that was raised by the top vampire, and then she becomes attracted to Clive so it's just all up in the air.

The story was okay but I did get sort of bored, the build up to the final fight took ages and the fight itself was over very quickly. It was still interesting and I will probably read any further installments.

Amazon UK: Goddess With a Blade

Friday, 17 June 2011

The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney

Donna is a freak. An outcast. Branded with iron tattoos that cover her hands and arms, she is cursed with a magically-enhanced strength that she does everything she can to hide.

But now, the dark exiles of Faerie are coming and Donna must choose between saving her best friend - or betraying one of the world's greatest secrets.

This book has been sitting on my shelf since I bought it months ago, waiting to be read. It was one of those books I picked up on a whim and then every time I was going to start something new, it never took my fancy. I'm so glad I picked it up the other day ~ what a fantastic read.

The author manages to pull you in and still manages to give very little away! The story flows well and leaves you wanting more. My one big happy is that she leaves a few storylines open so I knew she must have other books planned, upon checking her website, I was pleased to discover that this is in fact the first in a trilogy.

It makes me very happy to know I'll be reading more of Donna, Nav and Xan. Very happy indeed!

Book Depository: The Iron Witch
Amazon UK: The Iron Witch

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

Ari Selkirk has always stood out. With her teal-coloured eyes and freakish silver hair, it's hard not to. And she's always been alone. Her mother died when she was tiny, and she's grown up in foster care, longing for some understanding of who she is and where she came from. When her search for answers uncovers a message from her mother with the single word 'RUN' on it, Ari realises that someone, or something, is getting too close. But it's impossible to protect herself when she doesn't know who or what she's running from.

Returning to her birthplace in the rebuilt city of New Orleans, she discovers she isn't so different after all. But why is every creature she encounters, no matter how deadly or horrifying, afraid of her? The truth is both disturbing and terrifying ...

So I saw this cover and thought "Oooh purple!", picked it up and then thought "Umm, what's up with her face?" Yes, she's is doing that annoying trout-mouth pose which I hate and think anyone that does it looks stupid. Besides that small flaw, I decided to buy the book 'cos it sounded pretty good.

It was great! I loved Ari, and her quest to find out about herself was a great storyline. I've read so many vampire/werewolf/angel/demon/god books lately and I can honestly say this particular theme was a supernatural first for me ....... and I love it!

I'd say this was an older YA, Ari is 17 and there are some mentions of rape in it, so not for the younger crowd. A must read for any YA supernatural readers out there though.

On another note, I would've definitely preferred the US cover. Not often that I say I prefer US over UK covers but this one was no contest.

Book Depository: Darkness Becomes Her
Amazon UK: Darkness Becomes Her

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Bryn faces the danger and joys of love and loyalty in this thrilling sequel to Raised by Wolves.
Bryn is now alpha of the Cedar Ridge Pack - although it's not simple when you're a human leading a band of werewolves. Then she finds a teenage boy bleeding on her front porch. Before collapsing, he tells her his name is Lucas, he's a Were, and Bryn's protection is his only hope.
But Lucas is part of another pack and Bryn has no right to claim him. As danger closes in, Bryn will have to accept that to be alpha, she will have to give into her animal instincts and become less human. And she's going to have to do it alone.

Click here for my review of Raised by Wolves, the first in this series.

My first thoughts on this book were that this line ("Before collapsing, he tells her his name is Lucas, he's a Were, and Bryn's protection is his only hope.") is completely false. Why do some blurbs have things like this? This isn't the way it happens in the book at all, it's all just a big lie.

My second thought was how much I love the author's writing style and her characters. I really like Bryn and Chase and Dev and Lake ..... and pretty much everyone in the book (even Caroline, you'll need to read the book to find out who she is).

This book really brings Bryn out as an alpha. This is her first big problem since taking control of the Cedar Ridge pack and it is a doozy!!! We get to learn a lot about Shay in this book as well as Ali, there's some background on them which is enjoyable. But the main part is getting to see Bryn grow as an alpha and realise exactly what being an alpha entails.

I love this series, it's YA but it's not too YA so it's still an enjoyable read for an adult. Can't wait for the sequel, and sort of annoyed that it'll probably be a loooooooooooong wait!

Book Depository: Trial By Fire
Amazon UK: Trial by Fire

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Interview with Anthony Francis

Anthony Francis is the author of the Dakota Frost Skindancer novels.

Frost Moon is the first in the series :
In an alternate Atlanta where vampires and werewolves prowl the night, magic is real, and tattoo magic is the strongest magic of them all, a serial killer is targeting the magically tattooed on the full moon.

Dakota Frost, best magical tattooist in the Southeast, learns from the police she may be a target ... just when she receives a lucrative commission to ink a magic tattoo for a werewolf before the next full moon.

Caught between the rough and tumble world of the werewolves, the law and order rules of the vampires, and a sexy man-in-black whose motives are in doubt, Dakota must tread carefully to survive - because she doesn't know whether her werewolf client is the tattoo killer ... or the next victim.

I read the book and totally fell in love with it so asked the author to join us for a quick interview.

Julie-Anne: Welcome to Thoughts of a Scot, thank you for doing this interview.

Anthony Francis: My pleasure! Thanks for having me.

JA: Why don’t you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself?

AF: I’m a longtime resident of the Southeast who’s moved to the Bay Area to work for Google. I spent eighteen years in Greenville, South Carolina, near where the fictional Dakota Frost grew up, and eighteen years in Atlanta, living in and enjoying the places where FROST MOON takes place. I’m a big fan of science fiction and urban fantasy, but in my day job I’m a computer scientist helping robots feel and see, so I try to weave both the fantastic and the scientific through Dakota’s universe.

JA: I loved Frost Moon and Dakota Frost, how did you come up with the idea for Dakota? Is she based on anyone you know?

AF: Dakota was a reaction against all those covers of urban fantasy novels that have an attractive scantily clad heroine on the cover – but when you turn the page you find a hardboiled detective who’s far more likely to show up in boots and jeans than she is in a little black dress and thigh-high boots. So I decided to create a heroine who needed to show a little skin in order for her magic to work – so when you see Dakota on the cover, she’s working, and not just showing off.
Parts of Dakota are based on people I know – her long leather vestcoats are mine, for example, as are her mix of skeptical/religious beliefs and her kinky sexuality. Her environmentalism comes from my wife, as do her vines and butterfly tattoos, and her Mohawk, though my wife hasn’t worn a Mohawk since high school. The rest of her draws on several other people I know, but her attitude and distinctive voice are all her own.
She does exhibit some of the tropes of urban fantasy – “the snappy tough chick” – but I wanted Dakota to be different. I didn’t want her to be an experienced paranormal investigator with combat experience when the story starts; dealing with danger and violence is new to her. And I gave her an alternative sexuality, based on my own experiences with the BDSM/leather community of Atlanta, to help raise people’s awareness.

(I love Dakota's look and her personality.  It's one of the main selling points on the series for me.)

JA: I love the idea of magical tattoos, how did you come up with it? And what would you get if they were real?

AF: Once I had the idea that Dakota’s skin would be how her magic was expressed, the idea of tattoos came naturally. The other obvious alternative was dancing, but I quickly decided to combine tattoos and dancing into a single art – the SKINDANCER of the series title. Tattoos are wonderful because there are so many kinds of art that inspire ideas for magical effects. I was also inspired by the Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, who was an artist that used the Green Lantern ring to create anything that he could imagine. Dakota’s tattooing gun isn’t as fast or convenient as a Green Lantern ring – but her imagination is just as powerful.

Oh, and I’d get a dragon tattoo like Dakota’s. Definitely.

(I think a dragon would be fun but I also like the idea of some vines.  Perhaps poisonous ones.)

JA: I read somewhere on the net that you didn’t have any tattoos, is this still true? And do you have an interest in tattoos or did you have a friend to ask about that side of things?

AF: That’s still true. I am thinking about getting a large dragon tattoo but it hasn’t happened yet. As it turns out, I not only have an interest in tattoos, but I’m also married to a beautiful woman with a large tattoo who I could ask about her experiences. Even so, I had to do a lot of research, research that is still ongoing with every book.

JA: I read that a YA series was planned following Cinnamon, is this still in the works?

AF: Most definitely yes! Cinnamon’s series will be SPELLPUNK and the first one is tentatively titled HEX CODE. I’m planning at least a trilogy.


JA: Personally, I loved Cinnamon, how soon can we expect to read it?

AF: Hopefully late next year or early 2013. It will probably be my National Novel Writing Month project for 2011.

(Can't wait for this.  Cinnamon is a great character.)

JA: How do you get into a writing “mood”? Do you make up a writing playlist or do you have any other pre-writing rituals?

AF: I used to do mix tapes for writing, which I still do from time to time – sequences of music which represent parts of a story, inspiring me to think about plot developments. But the more I write the less I need them. I believe one of the most important things a writer can do is to learn to write when they’re NOT in the mood – some of the best writing I’ve done has been when I’ve been staring at white page saying to myself “I’ve got nothing.” If the muse doesn’t show up, start without her.
Easier said than done, of course. One of the most important techniques I use is an appointment with a time limit. I’m a member of the Writing Group at Mission City Coffee, which meets every Tuesday (except the first Tuesday) come hell or high water. At the Group, we write for 20 minutes, everyone reads what they wrote, and then we do it again. On a good night we get 3 sessions – an hour of writing broken into 20 minute chunks. That ticking clock motivates you to write, because if you don’t use the time, it will be gone. Over time, you learn this as a skill.
The other thing I use is National Novel Writing Month – an annual challenge to write 50,000 words of a new novel in the month of November. It’s quite a challenge, but a doable challenge, and I’ve participated 5 times. FROST MOON was my 2007 entry, BLOOD ROCK my 2008, LIQUID FIRE my 2009, and THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE was my 2010. It gets easier every year, and sometimes I even end up far ahead of the 50,000.

JA: What’s your favourite genre to read?

AF: Physics textbooks. Seriously, I read superhero comics, alternative comics, urban fantasy, paranormal young adult fiction, steampunk, hard core science fiction, fluffy space opera, and whatever else I can get my hands on. My favourite urban fantasy author is Patricia Briggs, followed closely by Laurell Hamilton. My favourite science fiction author is Larry Niven, followed by Isaac Asimov and C. J. Cherryh.

JA: When did you start writing and what pushed you to do it?

AF: I started writing when I was ten. I was inspired by Isaac Asimov to write science fiction and Disney movies to write things that were fun. I wrote short stories and had elaborate plans for my writing, even writing a whole novel during college and getting a short story published in graduate school, but life kept getting in the way.
Then one day I woke up and realized I had stopped going to science fiction conventions and hadn’t submitted a story in years. I went back to Dragon*Con, attended Ann Crispin’s writing workshop. I participated in National Novel Writing Month and started writing stories again. Finally it was the Writing Group, then meeting at Barnes and Noble at Steven’s Creek, that broke the logjam. Write every week, until the end.

JA: What author or authors do you look up to?

AF: I really like Ayn Rand’s writing style, her ability to plot, and most especially her ability to clearly explain how she writes and plots. I admire Isaac Asimov’s immense command of knowledge and Larry Niven’s imagination. I enjoy Patricia Briggs’ realistic characters and Laurell Hamilton’s action and slightly kinky sexuality. And my favourite “new to me” author is Scott Westerfeld, whose LEVIATHAN and BEHEMOTH exhibit an immense command of story structure.

JA: Do you like to read while you’re writing or would you rather just focus on your own book?

AF: I love reading – I follow Stephen Barnes dictum that you should read ten times as much as you write – but I try to avoid reading in the precise genre that I’m writing in, at least until I get two thirds of a way through a book and know how it ends. For example, I didn’t pick up LEVIATHAN until I was absolutely convinced it wouldn’t interfere with my writing of THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE, and I stopped reading Jim Butcher’s FOOL MOON about a paragraph in because I didn’t want it to pollute my work on BLOOD ROCK – oh hey, I guess I can read that now.

JA: What book are you reading just now? And would you recommend it?

AF: I just finished BEHEMOTH by Scott Westerfeld and I heartily recommend it. As the protagonist might say, barking spiders, what a good tale.

JA: Do you have much say in your cover art?

AF: Very little – the team at Bell Bridge Books are experts at knowing how to put together books and they do the cover art. They run them by me, and sometimes tweak them, but I let them do what they know best.
I do draw the frontispieces of my books, however. The team at Bell Bridge gives me feedback and I’m responsive to it, but I come from a comics background and I want to include a piece of art in every book.

JA: Finally, can you tell us a little about Blood Rock?

AF: BLOOD ROCK is set a few months after the events of FROST MOON. It begins with Dakota and Cinnamon school shopping, but they’re quickly pulled into an investigation of some nasty magical graffiti that attacked their mutual friend, the vampire Revenance. The graffiti attacks spread over the whole city, but Dakota’s attempts to help end up alienating the human, vampire and werewolf factions she’s trying to help. Dakota’s learned to fight, but now things have become trickier: she’s at war with tough, tricky magic in a terrible political climate, and needs to learn to rely on herself AND to learn to pick the right allies. I really enjoyed writing BLOOD ROCK and I hope you all have fun reading it!

(Another thing I can't wait for.)

JA: Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, I’m sure you’re busy with your authorly duties so I appreciate it a lot.

AF: My pleasure! It’s not always easy writing when you have a day job, but, hey, in my day job I get to work on robots, so I can’t really complain!
All the best!

Can't wait to read more about Dakota. And on a different note, below is the model I had in my head when I was reading Frost Moon. Her name is Rachael Huntington and she's also an amazing tattoo artist.