Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Interview with Rachel McClellan plus a Contest

I’d like to welcome Rachel McClellan to the blog, she’s the author of upcoming YA book, Fractured Light which is due for release on the 7th February 2012, and she’s agreed to come by for an interview.

Julie-Anne: What made you decide to write a YA book?

Rachel: A teenager’s life is a magical thing. Every event is heightened by emotions making for great tension and a lot of fun. I’ve worked with teenagers for years so it felt natural to write a story geared towards them.

JA: You had a big Gaelic background in your book, do you have any Celt in your own heritage?

R: Actually, I do. My grandmother hails from Norway, while the other side of my family came from Ireland. A few years ago I had the opportunity to travel to Ireland and was blown away by the beauty and ambiance of the landscape. I can honestly say that there was something about Ireland that focused me as a writer.

JA: Where did you get the idea of using Light as a power?

R: I’ve always heard of people who are able to see others auras, a light/energy surrounding a person. I thought it would be cool to take this light and energy and turn it into a real power someone could use.

JA: I’m hoping there will be a 2nd book, will we get more of May in there?

R: There will be a book two, FRACTURED TRUTH, tentatively set for release in February 2013. I’m super excited about it because it’s set at an all girls school where everyone has to be fair, nice, non-competitive, etc. On top of dealing with what happened to her at the end of FRACTURED LIGHT, Llona’s going to have some serious issues with Lucent Academy’s rules.
As for May, she’s right there with Llona. BFF’s forever! And in book two May will be developing her own power as a Fury. Fire. Is. Cool. Together, with a few more interesting friends, they’ll uncover a huge plot, that, unless they stop it, will destroy the Aura’s.
(*Happy Dance*) ~ JA

JA: What is your writing style? Do you plan and outline or do you just go for it?

R: Before I begin any story, I always know the ending. I won’t even start typing unless I know how it’s all going to end. But once I know this, I just go for it. I do check my word length every so often to make sure I’m where I need to be and sometimes I’ll loosely outline a few chapters ahead.

JA: I know some authors will make up a playlist before writing a book, are you one of them?

R: Freak, yes, I love music. I have a playlist I listened to all the time when writing Fractured Light. One of these days, I’ll put it up on my blog because it fits the book perfectly.
(I always like seeing an author's playlist) ~ JA

JA: For any aspiring authors out there, what’s your advice on getting published?

R: When people find out I’m published, our conversation goes like this:
“I love to write, too,” they say.
“Really? What do you write?” I say.
“Pretty much everything. I’ve got a couple of short stories and a novel I’ve been working on for awhile. I’d love to get them published.”
“Do you belong to any writing groups?”
“Have you taken any writing classes?”
“Have you read any books on writing?”
“No.” Pause. “Do I have to do any of those things to be published?”
An aspiring author must learn all there is to writing and publishing a book. It’s a long, and sometimes lonely, road. It can be discouraging, but once writing gets into your soul, it becomes just as important as breathing.

JA: Who are some of your favourite authors?

R: There are so many, but I really enjoy Dean Koontz, Suzanne Collins, Joshua Gaylord, Ayn Rand, C.S. Lewis, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mary Shelley, James Dashner, and on and on.

JA: Did any particular book or author inspire you to start writing?

R: There’s not a particular book that made me want to start writing, but there are books I’ve studied to help me become a better author. I studied Odd Thomas and The Reapers are the Angels for character development, I studied The Maze Runner and Hunger Games for pacing and tension, and I studied Jekyll and Hyde and The Book Thief for the way they used words to describe feelings, events, objects, etc.
If you have time to read while you’re writing, what are some of your favourite series out just now? The Maze Runner series is a really good one. Of course Hunger Games. I enjoyed the first few books of the Uglies series. And if you’re in it for the long haul, The Outlander Series is also good.
(I've only recently discovered The Hunger Games myself, they're great!) ~ JA

Thanks so much for stopping by and any readers out there, I highly recommend Fractured Light when it comes out.

And now ........... the contest!

The prize is a copy of Fractured Light, when it's released, and a special gift from Rachel herself which I am not going to reveal, but I will tell you it's Fractured Light connected. To win this great prize, just answer the question below, which Rachel has kindly provided for me:

I love Tim Burton movies. Without looking it up (honor code people), how many Tim Burton films can you name?

As Rachel says, please follow the honour code and don't use Google. The winner will NOT be chosen by numbers alone. Just comment below with your answers and remember to leave your e-mail address so I can contact the winner.

Last date to enter is: 7th December

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Kiss of Twilight by Loribelle Hunt

Dupree Jackson is everything a senior soldier of the Order of Templar should be. Cold. Unbreakable. A master at arms in the fight against demons. But as a hybrid, Dupree is beginning to lose himself to the demon half of his soul. One woman has the power to save him. If he lets her.

Kara Stone wants two things in life: to be merged with a demon so that she can become a full member of the Order; and Dupree Jackson. She knows they are meant to be together, if only Dupree would love her back.

Though his desire for Kara is undeniable, Dupree's need to protect her is stronger. Not wanting to see her merge, to face the internal struggle he deals with every day, he refuses to bond with her. But when Kara becomes a target and uncovers a dark secret about her past, Dupree may no longer have a choice...

Release Date 26th December 2011

Yet another book that I didn't realise was a sequel, so I now have to go buy the first book in the series since I liked this one so much. The story was very well told and nicely paced and the characters were well written, although there were a lot that got the spotlight.

From what I can gather of the first book and this book, I think I can see what couple is going to be the focus of the 3rd book. I really loved Dupree and Kara, and even though their relationship was written very will-they-won't-they, it wasn't too tedious. I find a lot of books that are written that way can get quite boring, but Kiss of Twilight done it write because even though it was written that way, it was still obvious what was happening so it was easy to hold out.

Amazon UK: Kiss of Twilight

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Scarlett Dedd by Cathy Brett

Meet Scarlett Dedd. Scarlett is absolutely mortified (in more ways than one) to discover that she's accidentally killed herself trying to get out of a school trip. Even worse, she's taken her entire family with her! Left in limbo, bored to death, and fearing her friendless state is terminal, an ominous idea pops into Scarlett's head. Can Scarlett really execute her grim plan? Or will it turn out to be a fatal and very messy mistake?

Release Date (according to the Netgalley page) 14th August 2012. But it's actually been out since September 2010 (according to Amazon)

I love the artwork in this and the story is great. The characters are funny, and the book is written in a hodge podge of styles. There are some blog entries from Scarlett's blog, Scar Departed, also some chat room entries from Ghool Kool, which I gather is a chat room for dead people. There's also some proper written story bits and lots of awesome illustrations.

Cathy Brett writes and illustrates the book, and does so in a hilarious manner. Scarlett accidentally kills her family while trying to get out of a school trip, and quickly realises that being dead with no friends is boring. So, rather than try and make new dead friends, she decides to try and make her old friends dead. This book is Scarlett and her friend's tale of everything that happens.

Well worth a read and, as I already said, the artwork is fab.

Doesn't the mum kind of remind you of Violet from the Incredibles? She's one of my favourite Disney Pixar characters.

Book Depository: Scarlett Dedd
Amazon UK: Scarlett Dedd

Friday, 25 November 2011

A Devil Named Desire by Terri Garey

Forbidden fruit is always the sweetest...and no one knows that better than Sammy Divine. Once an angel, now cast down, Sammy's out to prove he's not the only angel who can be led into temptation...

Hope Henderson's sister has disappeared without a trace, and Hope will do anything to find her - even make a deal with the Devil. An ancient text holds the key to unspeakable power, and it's the Archangel Gabriel's job to make sure it stays hidden, even if he has to become mortal to do it. Lives, love, and the fate of the world hang in the balance, as Hope and Gabriel learn that when passion's involved, desire can be a devil that's impossible to control.

Release Date 1st February 2012

Look at that cover, that right there is the type of cover I hate. Half naked, weirdly built man with no face! Aside from that, from what I can gather this is possibly the 2nd (?) in a series from Terri Garey. I'm not entirely sure, there's no mention of it on her website but there is a book called Devil Without A Cause, which has a similar weird cover. Although, that book is listed as coming soon with a release date of May 2011 so I don't think the author keeps that up to date.

I wasn't entirely sure on this book, it took me a while to read it. In fact I put it down at one point and read a couple of other books before I picked it back up again. But I'm glad I picked it back up. Sam and Gabe are well written characters, as is Hope. The story is well told and quite interesting, with a lot of religious factors in there (that's where my attention lags a bit, sorry) to bulk it out. Although there were names even I recognised, like Pandora and Leviathan.

I wonder what it says about me when I like Samael a whole lot more than I like Gabriel. That can't exactly be a good thing, that I'm more drawn to the devil and the bad guy, can it? Either way, whether you like the goody two shoes guys or the bad guys, I think you'll enjoy this book.

Book Depository: A Devil Named Desire
Amazon UK: A Devil Named Desire

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Witch Hunt by Nick Chivers

Mike thought he could escape his past. He renounced his crown as High Mage of The Council, had the Bands of Binding placed on him, and tried to start over as a normal human.

It didn’t work. And now a part of that past wants him dead, and Mike is running for his life.

With his best friend, Andrew, and Andrew’s soulbound partner along for the ride, Mike can’t help but feel lonely until he meets Rick, an all-around gorgeous man who might just be the wrong guy — again — especially since Mike can’t shake an ex-lover who’s hoping for a second chance. It’s a lot to deal with as demonic forces pursue him from Mongolia to Brazil, but Mike has to make it to the safety of The Council if he doesn’t want to be the prize trophy at the end of this witch hunt.

I finished this book last night and I still have no idea how I actually feel about it. The story line itself seemed good but it really felt like it could've been padded out a bit more, the explanations for everything came thick and fast in speech and thought and it just made it seem really fake. I know it is fake, but you know what I mean, the story didn't flow because everything was getting explained to you.

I think every character in this book is gay and they all hold up to gay stereotypes, so I was surprised to find that the author was actually gay himself. The characters really felt like they were written by a straight person that didn't know much about gay guys, they were squealy and giggly and constantly running into one another's arms and one guy actually kept carrying another one around, I get the impression it was like a child. Mike, the main guy has every power you can think of, but never fear for if it happens to be a power he doesn't have, one of his friends very handily has it. It all seemed too perfect, there was never really any worry about danger with this group because between them all, they had everything. Have you ever seen that episode of Futurama where Fry writes a comic book in which the super hero has every power imaginable? Yeah, kinda like that.

As I said, the story itself seemed good but I really felt this could have been made into a longer book or split into a couple books. It just seemed too rushed, which is sad because it really could have been a good book.

Book Depository: Witch Hunt
Amazon UK: Witch Hunt

Monday, 21 November 2011

No Rest For The Witches by Karina Cooper

New Seattle is changing. Witches and witch hunters have become allies, and the holy order’s grip on the city is slipping. But they won’t go down without a fight . . .

After the disastrous end to their last mission, Jessie, Silas, and Naomi regroup at their sanctuary far beneath New Seattle. But their brief rest is shattered when Jessie “sees” two of their own attacked topside. Dodging bullets and black magic, they risk it all on a treacherous rescue mission. They’re already stretched to the limit, and danger waits in unexpected corners. If the Order finds them, the team is as good as dead. But they can’t hide forever . . .

I read Before The Witches ages ago and have still not gotten round to reading the first 2 actual books, but that's because I can't find them .... yet. This is another novella set between Lure of the Wicked and All Things Wicked, I believe.

So I know I've missed a huge chunk of story but I saw it on Netgalley and had to grab it. I suppose that poses a problem in itself because it's just a wee novella so there's not a lot I can review on since I don't know the back stories of the characters. I gather they're in Blood of the Wicked and Lure of the Wicked, which I do plan on buying as soon as I can get them in the right format.

I love Karina's writing style and, even though this is only a very short story, she still manages to captivate the reader and it's still an unputdownable book. I am currently desperately trying to get my hands on the 2 books I've missed so I can catch up on the story, and I do realise I've completely spoilered myself.

Book Depository: No Rest For The Witches
Amazon UK: No Rest for the Witches

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Before the Fall by Sable Grace

Zach was once the Order of Ancients’ most feared warrior, beating back the hounds of hell to protect the unsuspecting human race. But since he left the Order ten years ago, he’s been living as a mortal . . . until now. The gates of the underworld are breaking open, and Zach is needed in the fight once again. But before he can answer his summons, there’s one person he refuses to leave behind. Shanna may think Zach has a screw loose, spouting all this "hounds of hell" nonsense, but he has to get her to safety. The journey to the Order’s headquarters is a dangerous one, and even a warrior like Zach might not be strong enough to keep the darkness at bay.

I think this is set before Ascension, this is the countdown to the gates of hell opening and Zach, an ex warrior, has been called back into action.

A nice little action packed novella to fill the time between Ascension and the new book, Bedevilled. Kyana turns up for a short while, which was a nice surprise since I really liked her. The real story in this is Zach and Shanna's relationship, they broke up because Shanna didn't believe what Zach told her about his job although she doesn't have any choice but to believe it now. The idea of hell on earth is pretty damn frightening, and again, I love the Greek gods idea, I really can't wait to read Bedevilled.

Book Depository: Before The Fall
Amazon UK: Before the Fall

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Duncan by D.B. Reynolds

Washington, D.C. - capital of an empire. Powerful. Exhilarating. Corrupt. And in the shadows - vampires far older than the nation itself.

A power unto himself, Duncan has served at Raphael’s side for nearly the entire two hundred years of his existence. But long laid plans have finally borne fruit, and the time has come for Duncan to leave Raphael and tackle the greatest challenge of his life. He will face treacherous vampires and murderous humans. He will rock the halls of human power if necessary. But Washington, D.C. will be his.

Emma Duquet cares nothing for vampire politics. She just wants to find her missing roommate and best friend, Lacey. But Lacey’s been playing with vampires of a particularly dangerous kind, and Emma will have to deal with the new vampire in town if she’s going to find her friend.

Battling powerful enemies who will stop at nothing to keep their secrets, Duncan and Emma will dig beneath the corruption and depravity that is Washington, D.C. and uncover the most heinous conspiracy of all ...

I'd like to start this review by saying that my microwave needs cleaning. You may wonder why I'm telling you this in a review? Well it's because it's D.B. Reynolds' fault that my microwave needs cleaned! Apparently porridge needs watched constantly (I'm a new porridge eater so I didn't realise it expanded the same as scrambled egg while it was cooking) while microwaving. Oh FYI, don't microwave porridge while you're reading the first sex scene with Duncan in it! Especially if Duncan is your favourite vampire and you've been waiting for his book since Raphael.

So this is the book that a lot of people have been waiting for. I know there a lot of Duncan fans out there and this is the book where we get to roll around in Duncan (*sigh* Ah, if only it were real rolling around). And away from that train of thought! Duncan becomes a Vampire Lord in this book and meets his happy ending. I really liked Emma from the start, she wasn't scared of the vamps and wasn't afraid to stand up to Duncan.

There's not a lot I can say about this book because I really do have a serious literary crush on Duncan and couldn't wait for this book to be released. Although I don't think the guy on the cover does Duncan any justice, he's too small. And on that note, I urge you all to go buy Duncan right now, although if you haven't read the first 4, go buy them first.

Book Depository: Duncan
Amazon UK: Duncan

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Christmas Hazards for Pets

Yup, it's that dreaded time of year again. Christmas.

I'm a total bah humbug person but, given my day job, I thought I'd write a post about the hazards of christmas to your pet.

Christmas Trees
Yes, the simple christmas tree ... can very easily be pulled down by a curious cat or a hyperactive dog. Please make sure your tree is secured or cordoned off so your playful puppy or climbing kitty cannot be harmed. Also, if you have a real tree, make sure you clean the pine needles up regularly. They're not overly dangerous but they could stick in delicate unshod little paws and would be very uncomfortable.

Again, very easy for a cat or dog to get tangled in them or chew on them. Make sure they are attached securely and try and cover the cables so they can't be spied by curious eyes.

Tinsel & Ribbon
This stuff can be very dangerous if swallowed. If you're pet is lucky, it could just pass out with no damage. The unlucky ones could end up needing surgery to remove the offending article and also some damaged bowels. Keep everything out of the way from your pets.

Anyone that's ever dropped one of these while decorating know how easily they shatter. Just be careful with glass baubles if you have a pet, try and not give your pet the chance to knock any off the tree.

Holly leaves and berries can be toxic to pets and will cause some gastric upset. Best not to give your pet the chance to eat any.

Mistletoe, same as holly, can cause some gastric upset and it can also cause some heart problems. So, again, better to not give your pets the chance to eat any.

While not toxic to pets, it can cause some irritation of the mouth, as well as excess salivation and possibly some vomiting. Again, as with most of the things on here, try and avoid your pet getting a hold of it.

A relatively new turn up in the Veterinary field, lilies are extremely toxic to cats. A simple brush up against it leaving pollen on the cat's coat can cause kidney failure. Not just a christmas thing but a lot of flower arrangements will have lilies in them. If you are a cat owner, you should try and avoid lilies completely.

Again, not primarily a christmas thing but it is a time of year where people tend to have a lot of batteries around for toys and decorations. Obviously batteries, if chewed, can cause a lot of damage so make sure batteries are well hidden from your pets.

Most people know about this by now but I thought I'd put it in here anyway. Chocolate contains a chemical called Theobromine which is toxic to pets. The general rule is: the darker the chocolate, the more theobromine so the less is needed to be toxic. Try and keep all chocolate away from pets, so don't place chocolate beneath the tree and try not to use chocolate hanging decorations.

Raisins, Grapes & Currants
Not as many people know about this, but grapes, raisins & currants can cause kidney failure in dogs if ingested. Again, the best course is to make sure your dog can't access these.

Turkey BONES
No, turkey's aren't toxic to pets but the bones can cause a lot of damage if ingested. Bird bones are hollow and shatter very easily so if a dog or cat swallows a bone, they can cause a lot of damage to their digestive tract. They can scratch and cut on there way down and could puncture through the intestines, this would require fairly major surgery. So it's just better to make sure your turkey carcass is disposed of properly and don't give your pets a chance to get at it.

Another thing to remember at this time of year is a chemical called Xylitol. It's an artificial sweetener and can be found in a lot of chewing gums and diet sweets. This is, again, fairly new to us in the Veterinary world but it can cause a lot of problems if ingested. And it doesn't need to be a lot. So, like everything else, try and make sure your pet doesn't get a chance to eat it.

When you look at this list, it seems like christmas is a very dangerous time of year, but if you think of all these things as you're decorating and "hiding" (not always from pets) presents, you'll hopefully be hazard free.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Dark Vow by Shona Husk

Jaines Cord plans to kill the man who murdered her husband, even though killing a Bounty Hunter is said to be impossible. One bullet took away her livelihood, her home and her love. One bullet made by her. Fired from the gun she completed for the Arcane Bounty Hunter.

Obsidian wears the scars of disobeying the powerful Arcane Union. He barely escaped with his life and now lives quietly, in a town the lawmen forgot. When Jaines arrives asking too many questions, he's faced with a decision. Help her or run...again. Obsidian knows that if he flees he'll always be looking over his shoulder. His name is one of the first on the Bounty Hunter's death list.

Yet when Obsidian is offered an opportunity to stop the stone taking over his body in exchange for retrieving the gun, he asks Jaines for her help. Now Jaines must choose: a dead man's vengeance or a living man's hope?

Release Date 14th November 2011

Set in a world with 10 lords, each job/calling vowing to a different one. The magic users vow to the Arcane Lord, the gunsmiths/blacksmith etc. vow to the Smith lord, and there's also the Farmer, Miner, Carpenter, Stonemason, Weaver, Brewer, Hunter and Warrior. But women aren't allowed to get papers for a profession so Jaines was never allowed to be a qualified Smith so when her husband is killed she doesn't have a lot of options. Her rage makes her vow vengeance against the Bounty Hunter that killed her husband.

Jaines is strong and independent, even in what seems to be a seemingly western-aged time. And she and Obsidian are a perfect fit for each other.

I loved the writing and story in this book. This is also another new author to me, and I find a lot of the Carina Press books I'm reading are introducing some great authors to me.

Amazon UK: Dark Vow

Slip Point by Karalynn Lee

From childhood, Shay had one dream - to join the Space Corps with her best friend and sweetheart, Jayce. When the Space Corps reveals that the father she thought was dead is actually an infamous pirate and rejects her application, the dream dies and she leaves the planet without saying a word to Jayce.

Ten years later, Shay is a pirate herself. She captains her own ship and has earned a reputation as one of the slipperiest pilots around. That's why she's recruited for a dangerous secret government mission. But the cargo she's assigned to smuggle turns out to be a woman with a government bodyguard - Jayce.

Jayce never thought he'd see Shay again, and when the mission forces them together on her ship, he isn't sure he can forgive her for deserting him; but their desire for each other is stronger than ever. Jayce knows he wants to be with Shay, but how can he trust a woman who's both a pirate and the girl who broke his heart?

Release Date 7th November 2011

This reminded me of Firefly and Serenity (even though that was cowboys and this is pirates) and I loved the writing and the storyline. I love the characters, especially Shay, she's very likeable and fun, and I can sort of get on her side about leaving Jayce .... who is also very likeable and cute.

I've never read anything by this author before (I'm not sure if she has anything else released) but I think I'd like to read it. In fact, I'm off to check on her just now.

Amazon UK: Slip Point

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Carrier Of The Mark by Leigh Fallon

When Megan Rosenberg moves to Ireland, everything in her life seems to fall into place. After growing up in America, she's surprised to find herself feeling at home in her new school. She connects with a group of friends, and she is instantly drawn to darkly handsome Adam DeRís.

But Megan is about to discover that her feelings for Adam are tied to a fate that was sealed long ago - and that the passion and power that brought them together could be their ultimate destruction.

The story in this book was good, it's based around the elements - air, water, fire and earth. The only thing was, I was disappointed by the actual writing. It all seemed very rushed. I get that the author had a lot to fit in but it feels like she had too big a story for length of the book. It feels like it could have been broken into 2 parts, or the book could have been longer.

As I said, the story was good. I really liked the idea behind it and was excited to read it. I'll probably read more (if there is going to be more), and see how it goes from there. It's a very quick read so it's worth a borrow at least.

Book Depository: Carrier Of The Mark
Amazon UK: Carrier of the Mark