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Comprehensive Book Review of Handbook for Mortals

Posted by on Sep 25, 2017 in Blog, others books, reviews, writerly advice | 0 comments

If you follow publishing news, you likely recognize the title Handbook for Mortals by one Lani Sarem. It has been a subject of morbid fascination since it infiltrated the New York Times Bestseller list out of the blue. Some crack reporting by YA Twitter painted a picture that was stranger than fiction (seriously, read that link if you have not). For all that this was a so-called bestseller, almost no one had actually seen the book, much less read it. The few excerpts that began to float around Twitter showed the novel to be of… dubious quality.

I wanted to read it for myself.

The publisher obliged me through the galley site NetGalley.

Here, for your edification, is my review. It was not easy to write. I don’t like doing negative reviews, but I wanted to present a comprehensive analysis of the book that created so much fuss and furor.


Handbook for Mortals (Handbook for Mortals #1)Handbook for Mortals by Lani Sarem
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I received this ebook through the publisher via Netgalley. As a published author myself, I am well aware of the way that author Lani Sarem and her team manipulated the New York Times list. I also know that the Goodreads ratings for the book consist of mostly one-star ratings due to the book’s reputation and the sample available on Amazon.

I don’t rate or review any book unless I finish it. I wanted to judge Handbook with as much fairness as I could, even knowing its history, so I endeavored to read the entire thing. I finished it.

If this had been any other book, I would have declared it Did Not Finish (DNF) in the first few pages.

Handbook reminds me of my first novel efforts, the ones I trunked and will forever more keep trunked. Because of that, I sympathize with the author to a degree. I wish she had had other experienced authors around her to offer honest feedback–or maybe she did, and she ignored their feedback to stay true to her vision. I did that with my first novel attempts, too.

The book reads like a non-reader’s mistaken assumptions of what YA is, though this book is not YA (the heroine is about twenty-five). For a proclaimed fantasy book, magic is barely present (and very little of it actually done by the heroine), and doesn’t make sense. It’s… kind of like a romance, but with no chemistry. The entire middle of the book consists of dating scenes interspersed with clothes shopping.

The first few pages show an ignorance of novels and how they are formatted at a basic level, as it actually has a foreword introducing the author. An intro like this is included for anthologies or collections, not for a debut book. I don’t know who the author is and her movie fandom creds aren’t relevant. The book needs to sell itself.

As Handbook begins at chapter 0, we meet Zade as she argues with her mother and departs Tennessee for her new job in Las Vegas. The narrative is overwritten–again, a common flaw in early novels efforts and rough drafts, period–and the paragraphs are dense, with the dialogue often buried. Zade’s actions here are the only time in the book that she shows agency.

Agency means the character instigates the plot. She/he makes the decisions and carries the book, rather than doing what author-god decrees. Agency within a plot is a tricky thing to master; honestly, my agent and editor still ding me on this during revision stages.

But this point of criticism leads to another issue: there is no plot in Handbook. She goes to Vegas and joins an illusionist’s show, and starts going on a lot of dates with Mac and Jackson, though all men find her to be incredibly hot and almost all women loathe her. This is explained at one point as a side effect of Zade’s immense magical power. At one point, some other magic user attacks her, and makes an odd cameo appearance later; the ending implies a second book is supposed to explain this person, but it has zero bearing on anything in this book.

This book is about dating. And shopping. But for a book that tries to play up the love triangle angle, ala Twilight, there is no triangle. Mac has all of the emphasis and character development–actually, he’s the only character who has an arc and develops in any way, and he’s the only one who acts at the climax. He has many of his own scenes shown in italics (though the use of italics is inconsistent and confusing, as some other characters’ POVs are seen through it sometimes). The other character, Jackson, is a musician and good-looking, and has the perk of actually believing in the abilities of tarot readings (one of Zade’s skills), but it’s pretty clear he has no chance with Zade.

As for the romantic dialogue, it’s… George Lucas-esque. That goes back to that matter of agency. As all men love and want Zade, she doesn’t need to make any effort to win over Mac or Jackson.

Zade had potential to be an interesting character. The book only expresses vague ideas of what her magic is actually like and there is zero growth in her abilities–the kind of thing an actual fantasy book needs. Zade is perfect in every way, a cliché Mary Sue (again, a new author trait). Everyone thinks she’s hot. Compliments on her hair are a regular theme (it reads like a Sally Beauty Supply ad at a few points, quite literally). She can also play guitar and sing, and she loves “crotch rockets” just like Mac. And as the ending of the book shows, she is morally bankrupt.

I suppose I should get to the ending.

Most books use an ending to show how the hero/heroine has grown throughout the book. It’s an opportunity for a grand show of powers, a confrontation with a villain, etc. But this book has no character growth, and while it has a few unpleasant people, there is no villain.

Instead, Zade tries to pull off a grand illusion during the Vegas show that utilizes “dangerous magic.” She uses Mac as her anchor for this magic, but he’s mad at her, so he steps outside to smoke. (Yes, there are several points like this that make no sense–he could step out for a phone call, or be sick, or go on vacation, etc). Cue her magic going awry. The show ends, and she goes off stage, falls unconscious, and starts bleeding everywhere. At the hospital, the doctor says Zade is internally bleeding and will quickly die.

Zade is rushed back to Tennessee to her mother’s advanced magical care, where, as Zade is bleeding to death, her estranged parents reunite and casually tell Mac the story of how they met. There is zero tension throughout this long section. Zade’s loved ones are literally at the kitchen table, drinking tea, and reminiscing about the late 1970s as Zade bleeds out in the next room.

How do we know this? That goes to the morally bankrupt part: Zade has ripped memories of all these events from her parents, Mac, and everyone who witnessed her collapse in Vegas. The very end of the book has some vague mention of her getting permission from those closest to her, but she obviously couldn’t get this from everyone, as her magical skills are a big secret.

So yeah. She thieved memories from almost everyone she knows, and also rifled through her parents’ thoughts when they were young and horny, which has another level of violation and squick. There is absolutely no moral consideration of these actions.

Also note that Zade falls unconscious at 67% through the ebook. She wakes up at 91%. The climax, such as it is, consists of Mac plunging a dagger-that’s-really-like-an-EpiPen (that’s how the book explains it) into her heart.

She recovers, returns to Vegas where everyone greets her with a surprise party (the proper welcome for someone who nearly died), and her estranged parents remarry. The book ends with the promise (threat?) of a sequel to come that will explain the weird magical girl who tried to blast Zade at the mall.

I wanted Handbook to be worthwhile of the fuss and effort that went into getting it on the NYT list. It’s not.

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5 Tips for Writers Writing Book Reviews

Posted by on Jun 26, 2017 in Blog, others books, writerly advice | Comments Off on 5 Tips for Writers Writing Book Reviews

Book reviews are vital to authors, but when you’re an author yourself, writing reviews of other books can be tricky. If you’re snarky and cruel, wielding one-star reviews like shurikens, you run a real risk of isolating yourself within the author community and with publishers.

That doesn’t mean that you lie and say you like a book that you loathe. It does, however, mean you act with tact and regard the author and their work with respect. This is not easy if you feel rather vehemently about a certain book.

My own background here: I review everything I read, and I’m in the top 1% of reviewers on Goodreads with over 1100 titles listed.


Clockwork Dagger
– Don’t be afraid to remove or hide old reviews. Let’s say that your publishing career has evolved and you’re now publishing books in a genre that you have reviewed rather harshly in the past. Consider this: you will meet these authors at conventions or be on panels together or they might even be asked to blurb your book. Set those old reviews to be private or remove them, and you’ll be removing some potential awkwardness, too.

– Another approach: some authors keep a separate account for book reviews so they can do so anonymously and honestly.

– Be careful about marking a friend’s book as being “currently read.” If you end up not liking it, and they know you are reading it… yeah. I like to wait until I am deeply into a book before I list the status online.

– Don’t be afraid to mark a book as Did Not Finish (DNF). If you’re like me, you have gobs of books waiting in the to-read pile. Life is short; don’t waste it on an unpleasant book! This is also a tactful way to avoid the dilemma of writing a review for a book that just plain didn’t work for you.

Along those same lines, you should not feel like you must finish a book sent from the publisher on places like NetGalley. Mind you, it took me a few years to get the nerve to do this because I felt obligated to finish the provided books. No more. I will go through NetGalley, mark the book as done, and send a note saying something like, “This isn’t a review. I found the book was not to my taste, but I’m very grateful you gave me the opportunity to read it.”

– The most important advice of all: Write every review as if the author will read it. They very well might. I think of it as like writing a story critique: I note the positive, and gently and constructively make observations about the negative.

If you finish a book but have mostly unkind things to say (especially if it’s in your genre), act with care. In such situations, I will type up the review on Goodreads/LibraryThing but keep it set as “private” so I can access it later for my own records. I may or may not leave a star rating.

Always keep in mind the Golden Rule: Treat other authors as you would like to be treated. Most books are not inherently awful. We each possess different tastes; respect that.

Reposted from Novelocity.

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Interview with Sara Dobie Bauer, author of BITE SOMEBODY ELSE

Posted by on Jun 23, 2017 in Blog, guest, others books | Comments Off on Interview with Sara Dobie Bauer, author of BITE SOMEBODY ELSE

I’m happy to welcome back my good friend Sara Dobie Bauer! We’ve been IRL friends for years, though she’s now moved to Ohio, we keep in touch–and we love each other’s books! Case in point: her new release Bite Somebody Else from World Weaver Press. In this sequel, she delves into the POV of raunchy, ’80s-loving vampire Imogene. The book came out this week–and be sure to check out the first book, Bite Somebody.


bitesomebodyelse_final-1_sm

You’re an ex sexpert for SheKnows and your characters sure enjoy rambunctious love lives. Your love scenes read so easily—do you find them easy to write? What types of scenes DO you have a hard time writing?

Based on reader reaction (and my penchant for landing in erotica anthologies), I’m apparently good at writing sex. Honestly, though, sex scenes take time. A two-page sex scene can take me an hour to write as most of that time is spent staring at the screen and choreographing in my head. I also tend to mix dialogue within the sexual choreography, so not only do I stare at the screen, but I also talk to myself. This is why I don’t write in public. Plus, since I’m choreographing sex scenes in my head, I can only imagine the ridiculous faces I might make. That’s the long story.

The short story: sex scenes are my specialty. I enjoy writing them. I’m good at writing them. But they are “a process.”

Action scenes are hard to write. Talk about choreography! There are several fight scenes in Bite Somebody Else, and you almost literally need to work these out with a partner. (Bahaha, I guess a partner helps in writing sex scenes, too … there might be a short story there …). ANYWAY. Fight scenes are difficult. Oh, so are dance scenes, of which there are a couple in Bite Somebody Else because, duh, Imogene.

Ian versus Nicholas_smYour muse is Benedict Cumberbatch. What would happen if you saw him in person? Would security personnel be involved?

My husband is legitimately worried that, if I ever met Benedict Cumberbatch, I would become a black hole and destroy the universe. Honestly, though, if I ever met the British stud in person, I imagine it would be a lot like the time I met Neil Gaiman. I smiled, panted a little, and he took pity on me and gave me a hug. I like to think I’d be all cool and collected and sexy (like Imogene), but I’d be more like Celia, drooling and stuttering and saying a bunch of really dumb shit.

It’s funny, but both male leads in the Bite Somebody Series are based on different incarnations of Mr. Cumberbatch (because, as you said, he is my muse). Ian in Bite Somebody is laid back, behind-the-scenes Benedict. Nicholas in Bite Somebody Else is suave, red carpet Benedict. No wonder the two characters get along so well …

Imogene loves her rum punch. Do you love it, too?

I do love rum punches. The first time I had a rum punch was in Belize on Ambergris Caye during my honeymoon. I don’t know if it was the drink or the location or my husband—but I was euphoric. I’m pretty sure I almost drank the island dry that week, but I did figure out the recipe! Simple. Fill a tall glass with ice. Pour a double shot of Captain Morgan’s on top. Fill three-quarters of the way with strawberry-banana juice and one quarter peach juice. Stir and slurp, preferably on a beach or while reading your shiny new copy of Bite Somebody Else.

Bite Somebody was told from the viewpoint of Celia, who is more of a frumpy every-girl. In the sequel, you get deep into Imogene’s POV. She is more like a force of nature, profane, crude, and utterly honest. Was it easier to get into one character than the other?

Not really. As women, I think we encompass both characters depending on the situation. At times, we can all be nervous and frumpy. Other times, we can be fierce. Celia and Imogene represent two extremes, but the rest of us float somewhere in the middle. That said, in my daily life, I’m a bit more profane and honest, like Imogene. My sense of humor is the Bite Somebody Series to a T, so it was easy to write both books—probably because I was just having so much fun!

What’s next for you?

Sleep until Halloween? No, better not. Ummm, I have short stories in a couple upcoming anthologies. My story that has caused the most arguments about how we define “sexuality” will be in Stoneslide Corrective this fall. (Keep an eye out; see if it pisses you off.)

Next year, I’m part of a three book series with Pen and Kink Publishing called Enchanted. A bit about that …
In modern day Charleston, lonely white witch Cyan Burroughs has waited her whole life to lead the battle against dark witches and eventually meets the man she is fated to love. A tragic trolley accident brings Liam Cody into her life. He is her destiny, but he’s also in love with someone else. Now, Cyan and her magic family must find the dark witch who caused the accident while Cyan fights her feelings for Liam—a charming Irishman with secrets of his own.

With the release of Bite Somebody Else comes a certain amount of freedom. As you can attest, finishing a series is sad because you have to say goodbye to a bunch of people you’ve spent years hanging out with. However, finishing a series is also a relief, as you are free to think about other projects with a clear head. I have two finished manuscripts to rewrite (both a bit darker than the Bite Somebody Series), so come July, it’s time to dive in. Wish me luck, and remember … only bite the people you love.


 
sara_dobie_bauer_smSara Dobie Bauer is a writer, model, and mental health advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. Her short story, “Don’t Ball the Boss,” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, inspired by her shameless crush on Benedict Cumberbatch. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is a member of RWA and author of the paranormal rom-com Bite Somebody, among other ridiculously entertaining things.

 

 

 

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Win a bunch of books from Harper Voyager authors!

Posted by on Mar 4, 2017 in Blog, breath of earth, others books | Comments Off on Win a bunch of books from Harper Voyager authors!

Family is such a comfort. There’s your blood family and then there’s the family you create through shared experiences. There’s no better shared experience than writing, and many of the authors from Harper Voyager have become close. We love to support each other. 

And we love to do things together! Like chat about science fiction and fantasy books. 

And super lucky for readers, we like to give away books together, too! 




Please check out this collection of magnificent science fiction and fantasy books! Then use the rafflecopter below to enter to win a paperback copy. Or if a book sounds too good to miss, links are included so you can go ahead and purchase. 

We will choose three winners/each winner will receive four books. (Note: Winners must provide a US address.) The contest runs from Saturday, March 4th until March 15th. Please remember to tweet about the giveaway for extra chances to win! 

And be sure to join us for our monthly twitter #SFFChat at 3:00 pm and 8:00 pm EST on Monday, March 6th. We’ll be chatting about every aspect of being a writer: querying, editing, drafting, marketing, and much more. We want you to join our SFF Family.
Giveaway Books



“What on earth would I gain from that?” I asked him. “Risk my own neck by violating my banishment just to leave you? The sentence placed on me if I return is execution. If I’m entering the mountains again, I’d damn well better get something out of it.”

Exiled from the Silverwood and the people she loves, Mae has few illusions about ever returning to her home. But when she comes across three out-of-place strangers in her wanderings, she finds herself contemplating the unthinkable: risking death to help a deposed queen regain her throne.

And if anyone can help Mona Alastaire of Lumen Lake, it is a former Woodwalker—a ranger whose very being is intimately tied to the woods they are sworn to protect. Mae was once one of the best, and despite the potential of every tree limb to become the gibbet she’s hanged from, she not only feels a duty to aide Mona and her brothers, but also to walk beneath her beloved trees once more.

A grand quest in the tradition of great epic fantasies, filled with adventure and the sharp wit—and tongue—of a unique hero, Woodwalker is the perfect novel to start your own journey into the realm of magical fiction.

Goodreads|Amazon







Following the events of Elixir, Mabily “Mab” Jones’ life has returned to normal. Or as normal as life can be for a changeling, who also happens to be a private detective working her first independent case, and dating a half-fey.

But then a summons to return to the fairy world arrives in the form of a knife on her pillow. And in the process of investigating her case, Mab discovers the fairies are stealing joy-producing chemicals directly from the minds of humans in order to manufacture their magic Elixir, the dwindling source of their powers. Worst of all, Mab’s boyfriend Obadiah vows to abstain from Elixir, believing the benefits are not worth the cost in human suffering—even though he knows fairies can’t long survive without their magic.

Mab soon realizes she has no choice but to answer the summons and return to the Vale. But the deeper she is drawn into the machinations of the realm, the more she becomes ensnared by promises she made in the past. And in trying to do the right thing, Mab will face her most devastating betrayal yet, one that threatens everything and everyone she holds most dear.

Goodreads|Amazon






Three brilliant novellas. One fantastic story.

Collected together for the first time, T. Frohock’s three novellas—In Midnight’s SilenceWithout Light or Guide, and The Second Death—brings to life the world of Los Nefilim, Spanish Nephilim that possess the power to harness music and light in the supernatural war between the angels and daimons. In 1931, Los Nefilim’s existence is shaken by the preternatural forces commanding them … and a half-breed caught in-between.

Diago Alvarez, a singular being of daimonic and angelic descent, is pulled into the ranks of Los Nefilim in order to protect his newly-found son. As an angelic war brews in the numinous realms, and Spain marches closer to civil war, the destiny of two worlds hangs on Diago’s actions. Yet it is the combined fates of his lover, Miquel, and his young son, Rafael, that weighs most heavily on his soul.

Lyrical and magical, Los Nefilim explores whether moving towards the light is necessarily the right move, and what it means to live amongst the shadows.

Goodreads|Amazon







A world of chivalry and witchcraft…and the invaders who would destroy everything.

The North has invaded, bringing a cruel religion and no mercy. The ciudades-estados who have stood in their way have been razed to nothing, and now the horde is before the gates of Colina Hermosa…demanding blood.

On a mission of desperation, a small group escapes the besieged city in search of the one thing that might stem the tide of Northerners: the witches of the southern swamps.

The Women of the Song.

But when tragedy strikes their negotiations, all that is left is a single untried knight and a witch who has never given voice to her power. And time is running out.

A lyrical tale of honor and magic, Grudging is the opening salvo in the Book of Saints trilogy.

Goodreads|Amazon







After the Earth’s power is suddenly left unprotected, a young geomancer must rely on her unique magical powers to survive in this fresh fantasy series from the author of acclaimed The Clockwork Dagger.

In an alternate 1906, the United States and Japan have forged a powerful confederation—the Unified Pacific—in an attempt to dominate the world. Their first target is a vulnerable China. In San Francisco, headstrong Ingrid Carmichael is assisting a group of powerful geomancer Wardens who have no idea of the depth of her power—or that she is the only woman to possess such skills. 

When assassins kill the Wardens, Ingrid and her mentor are protected by her incredible magic. But the pair is far from safe. Without its full force of guardian geomancers, the city is on the brink of a cataclysmic earthquake that will expose Earth’s powers to masterminds determined to control the energy for their own dark ends. The danger escalates when Chinese refugees, preparing to fight the encroaching American and Japanese, fracture the uneasy alliance between the Pacific allies, transforming the city into a veritable powder keg. And the slightest tremor will set it off. . . . 

Forced on the run, Ingrid makes some shocking discoveries about herself. Her powerful magic has grown even more fearsome . . . and she may be the fulcrum on which the balance of world power rests.

Goodreads|Amazon







Winter is the most deadly season in Temperance. And it’s not just because of the fierce cold. Evil is stalking the backcountry of Yellowstone, killing wolves and leaving only their skins behind.

As the snow deepens, Geologist Petra Dee is staring her own death in the face, while former Hanged Man Gabriel struggles with his abrupt transition back to mortality. The ravens and the rest of the Hanged Men are gone, and there are no magical solutions to Petra’s illness or Gabriel’s longing for what he’s lost…and what he stands to lose now.

Meanwhile, there’s a new sheriff in town. Sheriff Owen Rutherford has inherited the Rutherford ranch and the remnants of the Alchemical Tree of Life. He’s also a dangerously haunted man, and his investigation of Sal’s death is leading him right to Gabriel.

It’s up to Petra, her coyote sidekick Sig, and Gabriel to get ahead of both Owen and the unnatural being stalking them all – before the trail turns deathly cold.

Goodreads|Amazon








Anders Jensen is having a bad month. His roommate is a data thief, his girlfriend picks fights in bars, and his best friend is a cyborg…and a lousy tipper. When everything is spiraling out of control, though, maybe those are exactly the kind of friends you need.

In a world divided between the genetically engineered elite and the unmodified masses, Anders is an anomaly: engineered, but still broke and living next to a crack house. All he wants is to land a tenure-track faculty position, and maybe meet someone who’s not technically a criminal—but when a nightmare plague rips through Hagerstown, Anders finds himself dodging kinetic energy weapons and government assassins as Baltimore slips into chaos. His friends aren’t as helpless as they seem, though, and his girlfriend’s street-magician brother-in-law might be a pretentious hipster—or might hold the secret to saving them all.

Frenetic and audacious, Three Days in April is a speculative thriller that raises an important question: once humanity goes down the rabbit hole, can it ever find its way back?

Goodreads|Amazon






For four hundred years, the Church has led the remnants of humanity as they struggle for survival in the last inhabited city. Echo Hunter 367 is exactly what the Church created her to be: loyal, obedient, lethal. A clone who shouldn’t care about anything but her duty. Who shouldn’t be able to.

When rebellious citizens challenge the Church’s authority, it is Echo’s duty to hunt them down before civil war can tumble the city back into the dark. But Echo hides a deadly secret: doubt. And when Echo’s mission leads her to Lia, a rebel leader who has a secret of her own, Echo is forced to face that doubt. For Lia holds the key to the city’s survival, and Echo must choose between the woman she loves and the purpose she was born to fulfill. 

Goodreads|Amazon










A body is found in the Alabama wilderness. The question is: 

Is it a human corpse … or is it just a piece of discarded property? 

Agent Samantha Rose has been exiled to a backwater assignment for the Commonwealth Bureau of Investigation, a death knell for her career. But then Sam catches a break—a murder—that could give her the boost she needs to get her life back on track. There’s a snag, though: the body is a clone, and technically that means it’s not a homicide. And yet, something about the body raises questions, not only for her, but for coroner Linsey Mackenzie.

The more they dig, the more they realize nothing about this case is what it seems … and for Sam, nothing about Mac is what it seems, either.

This case might be the way out for her, but that way could be in a bodybag.

A thrilling new mystery from Liana Brooks, The Day Before will have you looking over your shoulder and questioning what it means to be human.

Goodreads|Amazon






Both familiar and fantastic, Clark T. Carlton’s Prophets of the Ghost Ants explores a world in which food, weapons, clothing, art—even religious beliefs—are derived from Humankind’s profound intertwining with the insect world. 

In a savage landscape where humans have evolved to the size of insects, they cannot hope to dominate. Ceaselessly, humans are stalked by night wasps, lair spiders, and marauder fleas. And just as sinister, men are still men. Corrupt elites ruthlessly enforce a rigid caste system. Duplicitous clergymen and power-mongering royalty wage pointless wars for their own glory. Fantasies of a better life and a better world serve only to torment those who dare to dream. 

One so tormented is a half-breed slave named Anand, a dung-collector who has known nothing but squalor and abuse. Anand wants to lead his people against a genocidal army who fight atop fearsome, translucent Ghost Ants. But to his horror, Anand learns this merciless enemy is led by someone from his own family: a religious zealot bent on the conversion of all non-believers . . . or their extermination.

A mix of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Shadow of the Apt, Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor, and Phillip Pullman’s Golden Compass, this is a powerful new addition to the genre. 

Goodreads|Amazon

Young Devin Roché is about to graduate as an Archivist from the prestigious Llisé’s University, and there is just one more task he wants to complete – to preserve a complete history of Llisé.

The history of Llisé and its fifteen provinces are a peaceful affair, filled with harmony, resolution and a rich oral tradition of storytelling. Nothing untoward ever happens in this peaceful land. Or does it?

Trainee archivist Devin Roché has just taken his finals at the prestigious Académie. As the sixth son of the ruler of Llisé, his future is his own, and so he embarks on an adventure to memorize stories chronicling the history of each province.

As Devin begins his journey with only his best friend Gaspard and their guardian Marcus, he hears rumors of entire communities suddenly disappearing without a trace and of Master Bards being assassinated in the night.

As the three companions get closer to unearthing the truth behind these mysteries, they can’t help but wonder whether it is their pursuit that has led to them.

But if that is the case, what do Llisé and Devin’s father have to hide?
In a domed city on a planet orbiting Barnard’s Star, a recently hired maintenance man has just committed murder.

Minutes later, the airlocks on the neighbourhood block are opened and the murderer is asphyxiated along with thirty-one innocent residents.

Jax, the lowly dome operator on duty at the time, is accused of mass homicide and faced with a mound of impossible evidence against him.

His only ally is Runstom, the rogue police officer charged with transporting him to a secure off-world facility. The pair must risk everything to prove Jax didn’t commit the atrocity and uncover the truth before they both wind up dead.

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Huge VNSA Book Sale in Phoenix this Weekend

Posted by on Feb 10, 2017 in Blog, others books | Comments Off on Huge VNSA Book Sale in Phoenix this Weekend

My husband knows that for Valentine’s Day each year, I don’t want jewelry. I don’t want stupidly overpriced flowers that will be dead in a week. I don’t want a dinner out at some crowded restaurant. Nope. I want a trip to the VNSA Book Sale at the Arizona State Fairgrounds.

VNSA

The VNSA Sale in 2015.

This event takes place the second weekend of February each year, and it’s GINORMOUS. One of the biggest book sales in the country. Years ago, I fought the crowds and lines to be among the first in the door on Saturday, but I have found that I much prefer Sunday. The selection is picked over, yes, but the crowds are fewer AND most of the books are half off.

If you’re in the Phoenix area, check out the sale website for info. The event itself is free, but you have to pay to park. Also, be sure to bring your own hand cart or a sturdy tote bag. Shopping carts are few and always in use.

Note that I’m not actually affiliated with the sale in any way. I’m just a hardcore reader who loves to share the joy with other hardcore readers. If you go, I wish you all the best in your treasure hunt!

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Bready or Not Guest Pat Esden with Old Fashioned Blueberry Cake

Posted by on Sep 12, 2016 in Blog, Bready or Not, breakfast, cake, guest recipe, others books | Comments Off on Bready or Not Guest Pat Esden with Old Fashioned Blueberry Cake

I’m happy to welcome Pat Esden to Bready or Not again. You might recall she visited last year to share a recipe for Popovers as she celebrated the release of her first book, A Hold On Me. Today she shares a quintessential Maine recipe for Blueberry Cake! Her second book, Beyond Your Touch, is a new adult paranormal romance that came out August 30th. We’ll start things off with an interview to learn about her Dark Heart series.

BeyondYourTouch

You sent a lovely blueberry recipe. YUM. Can you explain how this ties into your books’ world?

Both A HOLD ON ME (Dark Heart book #1) and BEYOND YOUR TOUCH (Dark Heart book #2) are for the most part set on the Maine seacoast, a prime area for both commercial and wild blueberries. The main character, Annie Freemont, and her family often have blueberry muffins for breakfast. The cake recipe I’m going to share is something they’d have at teatime for sure.

Also Annie’s love interest, Chase, is a blueberry fanatic. He was born in Maine, but was kidnapped as a child and raised in the djinn realm until he escaped in his late teens. During his years of captivity, Chase often went hungry. As a result, having edible berries growing right outside his cottage is not only a tasty treat for him, it’s also emotionally comforting. In reality, he’s a bit of a blueberry glutton.

You do a great job of capturing the new adult voices in A Hold on Me and Beyond Your Touch. Do you have advice for other writers who are working on voice in new adult fiction?

New adult is a category of fiction where the main character and point of view are a person or persons between the age of nineteen and twenty-six. It’s not a novel written through the eyes and sensibilities of someone looking back on that stage of their life. It’s that sensibility that is most vital to remember when you’re writing new adult. The motivations and choices of people in that age range will vary, but they are not the same as a younger teenager who has less life experience in general or an older person who has more experience. It’s important for a writer to put themselves in the mindset of being that age and to look at each choice and reaction the character(s) make to be sure they are appropriate for a new adult.

What has been your greatest challenge in working on your Dark Heart series?

The Dark Heart series consists of three novels. The biggest challenge for me has been swapping between books during the various editing and marketing stages. For example: in the middle of drafting book 3, I received notes from my editor on book 2. I had to put book 3 aside for a month to do edits on book 2. Once book 2 was turned in, I went back to book 3. But I had to swap again and focus on book 1 when it was released. LOL. It’s crazy making!

Thanks again!

Thank you as well. I love visiting.


 

Blueberry Article_sm

Old Fashion Blueberry Cake

Ingredients:
2 eggs separated
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries

Beat 2 egg whites until stiff, and set aside.
Cream together shortening, vanilla, sugar, and two egg yolks.
Sift flour and baking powder together. Add to cream mixture alternating with milk.
Fold in egg whites and blue berries.

Pour into 9” pan (greased and floured) and sprinkle top lightly with sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

This is a traditional New England dense desert or breakfast cake. Just a touch lighter than pound cake. No frosting needed.


 

BEYOND YOUR TOUCH (book #2 Dark Heart series) was released August 30th

She wants more than he can promise.
His desires could lead to betrayal.
But without each other, neither can survive the dangers ahead.

Annie Freemont knows this isn’t the right time to get involved with a man like Chase. After years of distrust, she’s finally drawing close to her estranged family, and he’s an employee on their estate in Maine. Though she never intended to stay on the estate for long, her father’s illness and the mysteries surrounding her family made leaving impossible. And now with the newfound hope of rescuing her long-missing mother, Annie’s determined to be involved with the family’s plans one way or another.

If only she could keep her mind off Chase and focus on the impending rescue. But there’s something about the enigmatic Chase that she can’t resist. And she’s not the only woman. Annie fears a seductive stranger who is key to safely freeing her mother is also obsessed with him. As plans transform into action and time for a treacherous journey into a strange world draws near, every move Annie makes will test the one bond she’s trusted with her secrets, her desires—and her heart.

Amazon BN BAM Indiebound

Target Hudson Booksellers


 

PAT ESDEN is an antique-dealing florist by trade. She’s also a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and the League of Vermont Writers. Her short stories have appeared in a number of publications, including Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, the Mythopoeic Society’s Mythic Circle literary magazine, and George H. Scither’s anthology Cat Tales.

Her new adult paranormal novels, A HOLD ON ME (book #1 in the Dark Heart series) and BEYOND YOUR TOUCH (book #2 Dark Heart series) are available from Kensington book. REACH FOR YOU (book #3 Dark Heart series) will be released in 2017.

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