Thursday, November 20, 2014

PROMOTIONAL BLITZ: Krampusnacht: Twelve Nights of Krampus

Twelve Nights of Krampus

Genre: Folklore, Fantasy, Horror Anthology
Publisher: World Weaver Press
Publication date: 11.11.2014
Pages: 205

For bad children, a lump of coal from Santa is positively light punishment when Krampus is ready and waiting to beat them with a stick, wrap them in chains, and drag them down to hell - all with St. Nick's encouragement and approval.  Krampusnacht holds within its pages twelve tales of Krampus triumphant, usurped, befriended, and much more.  From evil children (and adults) who get their due, to those who pull one over on the ancient "Christmas Devil."  From historic Europe, to the North Pole, to present day American suburbia, these all new stories embark on a revitalization of the Krampus tradition.  Whether you choose to read Krampusnacht over twelve dark and scary nights or devour it in one nacht of joy and terror, these stories are sure to add chills and magic to any winter's reading.
            With new stories from Cheresse Burke, Guy Burtenshaw, Jill Corddry, Elise Forier Edie, Patrick Evans, Scott Farrell, Caren Gussoff, Mark Mills, Jeff Provine, Colleen H. Robbins, Lissa Sloan, and Elizabeth Twist.

Amazon ** Goodreads ** World Weaver Press ** Kobo ** B&N

The Gal: What about the Krampus myth inspired you?

Scott Farrell:  I love the complete contrast the Krampus provides with the American tradition of Christmas.  We think of Christmas time as a gentle, peaceful time - and along comes Krampus, roaring and gnashing its teeth, and smashes that expectation with a stick.  I like it because it returns Christmas to that "Old World" tradition of a raucous party.

Elizabeth Twist:  I was inspired by the Krampuses (Krampi?) of late nineteenth and early twentieth century postcard art.  Many of the postcards depict a pretty standard Krampus, tongue lolling, birch switch at the ready, basket stuffed full of weeping children.  However, some of the postcard artists took it upon themselves to imagine Krampus in other situations.  A favorite topic seems to be Krampus wooing cute women, as in this postcard from Monte Beauchamp's The Devil in Design (Fantagraphics, 2004):

These images made me want to explore Krampus's inner life.  What is it like to have needs and wants and romantic intentions, but also have this somewhat brutal occupation?  What would Krapus find romantically intriguing?

The Gal: Why do you think Krampus is of increasing interest outside of Germany nowadays?

Scott:  I think Krampus (and many other regional, traditional midwinter holiday folklores) are sparking interest because they have a depth and complexity you can't get from the sanitized, commercial image that Christmas has evolved into.  Krampus is silly, scary, and irreverent - but it comes from a time when every village and hamlet had it's own version of the Christmas celebration.  I think it's a tradition that pulls the rug out from under the oppressive weight of all the expectations that have been placed onto the notion of the "perfect" family Christmas.

Elizabeth:  I think the main thing is exposure.  Once you see an image of someone dressed in a Krampus costume, or a piece of Krampus art, it's hard to forget.  Thanks to the internet, it's much easier to access these images now.  On a deeper level, Krampus runs so contrary to the experience of Christmas that I grew up with: sparkling lights and magic and fun and presents and too much sugar.  A Christmas devil!  That's a breath of fresh air in the midst of a holiday that's become entirely saccharin.

The Gal: What was the most challenging aspect of writing your story?

Scott:  The most difficult thing about writing "A Krampus Carol" was to prevent the story from becoming either purely horror, or from straying into sappy sentiment.  Krampusnacht (Krampus night) falls half way between Halloween and Christmas - I felt that a story that would do Krampus justice should include elements of both holidays, a little "scare" and a little "sweet."

Elizabeth:  "Prodigious" was so much fun to write.  I had a blast injecting the dark mojo of Krampus into the humdrum world of a big box toy store employee.  Initially I struggled with the idea of Krampus's moral imperative.  This is a dude who knows when you've been naughty, and punishes you accordingly.  A rigid moral structure is generally speaking something you want to get away from in comedy, which is so often about relaxing rules and boundaries.  My big challenge was showing how sometimes it's handy and even necessary to be able to tell good from bad.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

REVIEW: The Gray Room

The Gray Room 1:
The Gray Room
Vick Junior

Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense
Publication date: 6.23.2014
Pages: 67

Recommended by: Read 2 Review
Date read: 11.16.2014

Summary:  Jacob is a lonely and troubled individual who simply allows life to pass him by.  He has no ambition,  can't hold a job, and has a sloppy, out of shape appearance.  He allows his older brother Joseph to push him around, making him do and say things he never would on his own strength.  What you don't realize is that Jacob and Joseph live in one body - Jacob's.
            One day Jacob runs into a very handsome, young, successful, wealthy man named Chandler.  Immediately, Chandler caught Joseph's attention.  He had everything that Joseph wanted.  Women, money, power and looks.  The complete opposite of his brother Jacob.  Joseph's thoughts begin to overcome Jacob and soon he begins to take over his body as well.  Joseph had to devise a plan to become Chandler one way or another.  He wouldn't stop or let anyone stand in his way - not even death ... Not even Jacob.  Joseph wanted Chandler's life so bad, he did the unthinkable.

This is another one of those loved-the-cover things.  And the book description really caught my attention - it is completely different from everything else I've ever read before.  

Jacob's dead brother, Joseph, lives in his head.  He criticizes Jacob and his life, tells him what to do - and sometimes even takes over.  When Joseph meets Chandler, nothing Jacob can do will stop Joseph from what he wants - to be Chandler.

This is such a fun short story, one I definitely recommend to people who like psychological thrillers, and an author I'm going to be keeping my eye on.  I cannot wait to read the rest of the series.

REVIEW: Max Blizzard and the Gem of Camelot

Max Blizzard & the Gem of Camelot
Patrick Hatt

Genre: Fantasy, Arthurian Legends
Publication date: 11.3.2014
Pages: 278

Recommended by: Sage's Blog Tours, Read 2 Review
Date read: 11.17.2014

Summary:  Max Blizzard was like any other drone living in Earth's realm until the arrival of his eighth birthday.  On that day his imagination awoke and Max started thinking for himself.  He was an outcast the moment he let people know about his imagination.  That moment also unknowingly set forth a chain of events years in the making.  By having imagination, Max had given Sir Dreadvent exactly what he anted, a way into Camelot's realm.
            Now Max and his friends, Trudesile and Lester, must complete the quest that Max's father, Merlin, set out for him years ago.  They must find the Gem of Camelot to defend the realm from Sir Dreadvent's and his sevesties.  Their perilous journey will take them from the shores of Merlinia and the ship of Davy Jones to the fields of Avalon, in the hope that they can save Camelot, save Earth and save all the lost realms that have been consumed by Sir Dreadvent and his sevesties on their quest to remake the universe.
            A tale about where your imagination can lead if you choose to follow it, with creatures large and small joining Max Blizzard on his journey.  King Arthur, Oberon, Hercules, Apollo and other heroes of imagination believed to be myth will become truth as Max and his friends face the trials ahead.  Let your imagination lead the way to Max Blizzard and The Gem of Camelot.

I found this story very enjoyable.  It would be a great chapter book to read to your children or one for middle school children to read themselves.  It's light reading with a fun adventure, an epic storyline and characters that were a lot of fun to read more about.  I really liked Max and Trudesile - they were the perfect heroes, in my opinion, and grew a lot from the story.  This was a great coming of age story, with lots of twists and turns, and characters from mythology and King Arthur tales that made the book even more fun.

The only issue that I had with this book was the fact that it had a few editing issues, but nothing that takes away the flow of the story.

About the author:
Patrick Hatt can be found in the East Coast of Canada.  He hates writing these things but doesn't mind talking in the third person.  He dabbles in a little of this and a little of that, not afraid to attempt something new.
            He is owned by two cats, one of whom has his own blog, It's Rhyme Time.  Yeah a rhyming cat, who knew?  He would be considered a both person when it comes to cats and dogs.
            He is also quite the movie and TV buff.  As you can probably tell, he does not take himself seriously and has more stuff in his head than is needed.  Thus the novels are just one more form of release.  Thanks for the visit and enjoy!

REVIEW: The Unholy

The Unholy
Paul DeBlassie III

Genre: Psychological Thriller, Occult
Publisher: Sunstone Press
Publication date: 8.1.2013
Pages: 203

Recommended by: Read 2 Review
Date read: 11.15.2014

Summary [taken and printed directly from Amazon]:  A young curendera, a medicine woman, intent on uncovering the secrets of her past is forced into a life-and-death battle against an evil Archbishop.  Set in the mystic land of Aztlan, "The Unholy" is a novel of destiny as healer and slayer.  Native lore of dreams and visions, shape changing, and natural magic work to spin a neo-gothic web in which sadness and mystery lure the unsuspecting into a twilight realm of discovery and decision.

I finally finished this book, which took forever, and I'm frustrated.  I mean REALLY frustrated.

Here's the gist of the story: When Claire is very young, she witnesses the murder of her mother, a medicine woman in the "mystic land of Aztlan," by a man in a dark cloak with very intense blue eyes.  When she reaches the age her mother was when she died, she goes through the journey of finding herself and trying to discover her mother's killer, all while trying to learn the deep secrets of the Ecclesia Dea and the truths about the deaths of young women in her community.

The storyline itself was interesting and that's what kept me reading - I wanted to know what was going to happen next - but I'm disappointed in the actual writing of the book.  The author tried WAY TOO HARD to make this an "American Indian" book.  At one point I even said: "If I read the words mesa, adobe or ponderosa ONE MORE TIME, I think I'm going to explode."  And the fact that several parts are repetitive - we get that the mother died when she was young, you told us at the beginning ... and then again ... and then again ... and then again.  Every time something bad happens or she freaks out about something, we come right back to the fact that her mom died - and repeat the details.  (And this isn't the only thing that is repeated over and over again; another example is who Francesca is.  WE KNOW!)  Some of the conversations just feel awkward, like they were forced - I assume it's so the author can give information to the reader without it feeling like an info dump, but I would rather have that info dump than the first conversation she had with her boyfriend at the restaurant.

I like how the author describes the characters, but they still feel kind of flat to me.  I didn't care much for the main character (for all kinds of reasons), but I did like Elizabeth and Francesca.  They were interesting characters that I wanted to know more about.

The mystery wasn't really a mystery, not completely.  Like when watching an episode of Columbo, you already knew who the bad guy was, which was really neat, especially with the twists that were stuck in throughout.

I am completely torn.  It could have been a 5 star book.  I expected so much more from this book and this author.

(Until I went to write this review, I had not noticed that the book description on Amazon could use some editing too.  I may not have agreed to read the book had I seen that before saying yes.)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

REVIEW: The Anchor That Stopped the World

The Anchor That Stopped the World
Agostino Scafidi

Genre: Organized Crime, Short Story
Publisher: Agostino Scafidi
Publication date: 8.25.2013
Pages: 107 (Amazon says 58)

Recommended by: Read 2 Review
Date read: 11.14.2014

Summary:  The story is about Martin Rizzo and the bad things that are happening to the people around him.  A man who wakes up in unfamiliar surroundings and finds himself captive.  The story unravels from there and involves various organized crime factions.  A crime fiction, the story takes place in Montreal.

Before I discuss the book, I want to point out two things: 1) I do not understand the cover at all.  It is not visually appealing nor does it tell you anything about the story.  It looks like it may possibly be a weird angle shot of street signs, but the way the picture is, I can't be sure.  2) The book description I read on Amazon, which I posted above, is a bit misleading.  It says the story is about "the bad things that are happening to the people around him," but it's HIM that causes a lot of the bad things.

This book is severely in need of an editor - not only to fix the punctuation, sentence structure and other proofreading issues, but to clean up the mess that is this book.  The author changes tenses throughout the story PLUS it switches back and forth between the past, the present, and sometimes clairvoyant moments (i.e. "...including one man whom Martin will come to know to be Charles."  When?  Now?  In the future?  Turns out that it's within the next couple of sentences).  The use of full names of people several times after they've originally been introduced is annoying, especially since their first names are not held by more than one person.  The switching back and forth, very often in the same sentence, between Martin's first and last name was really confusing, especially at the beginning.

Some of the things I found completely ridiculous and unbelievable - I know that crime fiction and action movies (and books) are full of this stuff, with explosions and car chases and things like that, but seriously, Martin stabbed the attacker (who was a big biker guy) in the hand with a nail, causing said attacker to drop the knife he was wielding, allowing Martin to grab it and slice the man's throat - really?

The beginning of the story I felt was quite boring - the 107 pages felt like they were well over 1,000 - the unnecessary filler (like descriptions of the colors he uses in his apartment, etc) was tedious to get through.  

Once the action got going, though, it became interesting.  The plan that he had and the way that it was done was really cool.  I liked the biker gang and the way the characters were portrayed.

This could be a good story - once an editor comes in with a Sharpie and a highlighter.  

About the author:
Agostino Scafidi is from Montreal, QC, Canada.  He's written three eBooks.  He's also a guitar player.  Always been friends with creativity and exploration.  Writes fiction of varying kinds.

REVIEW: Necromancer

Graeme Ing

Genre: Horror, Dark Fantasy
Publication date: 8.15.2014
Pages: 322

Recommended by: Quality Book Works, Read 2 Review
Date read: 11.15.2014

Summary: A primeval fiend is loose in the ancient metropolis of Malkandrah, intent on burning it to a wasteland.  The city's leaders stand idly by and the sorcerers that once protected the people are long gone.
            Maldren, a young necromancer, is the only person brave enough to stand against the creature.  Instead of help from the Masters of his Guild, he is given a new apprentice.  Why now, and why a girl?  As they unravel the clues to defeating the fiend, they discover a secret society holding the future of the city in its grip.  After betrayals and attempts on his life, Maldren has reason to suspect everyone he thought a friend, even the girl.
            His last hope lies in an alliance with a depraved and murderous ghost, but how can he trust it?  Its sinister past is intertwined in the lives of everyone he holds dear.
            Can only evil defeat evil?

I won't lie - this is another one of those "Wow what a cover!" moments.  I read the email, saw the cover, read the first few lines of the description ... and went on to take care of some other things, leaving the email in my inbox for a couple of hours.  I could not get the cover out of my mind.

Having caught my attention in such a big way, I decided to give it a try.  And I'm glad I did.

This story had me from the beginning - interesting, different and mysterious, with a fun adventure, a captivating mystery, and two quirky main characters who I really enjoyed reading about.  The author did a great job with his descriptions and the book was well written.  Even though it is listed as a dark fantasy and horror - and there are some dark parts - I like that the story didn't feel heavy.

The main character, Maldren, is my favorite.  I don't know why, but he kind of reminds me of an old PI from the 30s and 40s.  Maybe it was his smart-allick attitude.  Not sure.  But definitely an enjoyable read.

About the author:
Graeme is a writer of speculative fiction.  He probably won't fall into existing pigeonholes, but hang around and you'll get to read tales of fantasy, science-fiction, paranormal, cyberpunk, steampunk and who knows what.
            Born in England, Graeme now lives in San Diego, California.  His career as a software engineer and development manager spans 30 years, including the development of a dozen computer games for consoles, home computers and online.  Graeme is also an avid armchair mountaineer, astronomer, mapmaker, pilot and general geek.  He and his wife, Tamara, share their house with six crazy cats.

Friday, November 14, 2014

REVIEW: Renovatio

The Antithesis 1:
Terra Whiteman

Genre: Science Fiction, Grimdark, Dystopian
Publisher: 1889 Labs Ltd
Publication date: 7.8.2011
Pages: 450

Recommended by: Sage's Blog Tours, Read 2 Review
Date read: 11.13.2014

Summary: Civil war between demons and angels lies just on the horizon.  
            Alezair Czynri, member of the Purgatory Jury, is thrown into a world of murder, exploitation, chemical substances, betrayal and bureaucratic red tape as he and his court attempt to diffuse escalating conflicts.
            Yet things are not as they seem.  Ever since his induction into the Celestial Court, Alezair has been treated with cool indifference by the Justice Commander, Leid Koseling.  A former prisoner of the Nexus Initiative, Justice Czynri exists without any memories of his former life, the consequences of being a slave merc for hire.
            But purgatory is strangely familiar, and slowly little pieces start coming back.  There might be a good reason why Alezair's boss keeps him at arm's length.

Amazon ** Goodreads ** BookLikes ** B&N

This is an interesting look at the war that goes on between angels and demons - and the people that keep them in check, making sure that they play by the rules.

"This is a story about God and the devil,
but not how you were taught to believe.
This is also a story bout love and hate,
and the suffering both can bring.
This is about rights and wrongs and all of the spaces in between -
Revenge, courage, death, passion; with no villains, no heroes.
Only those left scorned.
This is the story about Heaven, Hell
and the Jury that holds them together.
This is the Antithesis."

That is the way the book begins, but not the story.  (I figured what better way to explain it than with the author's own words, the words that caught my attention and pulled me into a story I had a hard time putting down).  The story begins with Alezair, a mercenary for hire with the Nexus Initiative, finding himself in the middle of a human war.  But he is not the only non-human in the fray - and he follows her, trying to find out the answers to several questions.  Following her means he's gone rogue and the Nexus take away his powers ... and his memories.

I like the characters.  They are each unique and interesting.  But also immature, which is odd for the power that they have and the amount of time they have been alive.  At different times I am frustrated by their child-like behavior.  I do like how they are described, though.  The author does a great job at explaining them to the reader.  He also does a great job including information without it feeling like an info dump or a class lecture.  

The story is interesting and different.  The action and events leading to Alezair becoming a part of the Celestial Court are pretty exciting ... and a bit terrifying.  As with all books, there are the high parts and the low parts.  The high parts are great, but there are moments when the low parts are a bit boring, but still the story flowed and I continued reading, wanting to know more.

I think the author did a good job and I can't wait to read more of this series.

Favorite character: Alezair.  Even though he gets on my nerves at times, I like his sarcasm and his openness to learn (just not be bored).  I think he has a lot of things going on with him and that he does grow as the story goes on.  Had he remained stagnant and the way he was for the first 100 years of being part of the jury, I don't think I would have liked him as much, though.

Favorite line: "Souls are actually packets of data stored within each and every cell of their creations.  It's in their DNA.  The celestials made this part of their intelligent design.  When an individual dies, the data is transmitted back here, and we're able to recover the information pertaining to their death, along with a record of how they'd lived their lives prior to death."

About the author:
Terra Whitman is a clinical scientist who writes dystopian science fiction in her spare time.  Her life is a dish of pipettes, refractometers and immunoassays, heavily seasoned with grimdark worlds and their battlegrounds.  She's profane, opinionated, and if you met her, you'd think she's really weird.


The Lebrus Stone
Series: Lebrus Stone
Author: Miriam Khan

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 450

When eighteen-year-old orphan, Crystal Valdez, accepts an invitation to the small town of Blacksville, West Virginia, she hopes to have a summer to remember and a chance to learn more about her parents, to also get to know the family she never knew existed.
            But the Lockes begin to act strange and erratic; eerie movements in the night fuel her vivid and gruesome nightmares.  To complicate her summer further, she becomes attracted to the menacing yet handsome Cray Locke: her non-blood related cousin.  He seems determined to keep his distance.  The only bonus seems to be the housekeeper and gardener.
            And when a local informs Crystal of the secrets buried at Thorncrest Manor, the kind consisting of a forbidden relationship and war between hidden worlds, and witchcraft, she must decide whom to trust.  Even if it means leaving behind those she has come to love.

About the author:
Miriam is from Cheshire, England and a family of six siblings.  Her love for creativity led to acting at her local theatre before being a lead vocalist in rock bands.  During those years, she often found solace penning her thoughts and feelings through lyrics or poetry.  She chose not to continue singing in 2006, and two years later she woke up with the idea for The Lebrus Stone and began typing, revising and editing it for the next six years.  She is now eager to see what readers will think.

The author is giving away
a Purple Crystal Wing Heart Necklace

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Back in the day - a tangent

Maybe it's just me, but I sure do miss the way it used to be.  Back when I first came to Goodreads.
            I had been on another social network site - a site that some friends back home had turned me on to - and I loved discussing books there.  Then things began to change.  The site wanted it to be just movies and television, despite what the majority of the people using the site wanted, and I was forced to go elsewhere.  As things were changing, a friend of mine on there told me about Goodreads.  I went over and started an account and was in Book Lover Heaven.  It was amazing.  It was so great to find people who loved books as much as I did (my real life friends are not as excited), who I had things in common with (and didn't have things in common with).  I made some great friends there (thank you Goodreads!).
            I usually don't share this, but the first time an author contacted me ... I can't explain how that made me feel.  I'm still that way.  I get goosebumps and super excited.  I even get nervous when I reply, so wanting them to think I'm much cooler than I really am (haha).  I'm like a kid at Disney - I kid you not.  To become friends with authors that I idolized, whose books I loved, was (and is) amazing.  These people are my heroes and they want to talk to me?  There are no words to describe the joy I feel.
            Now things have changed there.  Changed on BookLikes.  Changed on book blogs.  Changed period.
            The book lover world has been destroyed by - what? - 2% of our community.  There were some badly behaving authors - and, let's be honest, some badly behaving reviewers/bloggers - who ruined it for everyone.  And I'm not happy.
            When did conversations about books become such a taboo?
            Now there are these unwritten rules where authors are not supposed to contact reviewers or bloggers for any reason.  Why?  Who said?  I'd like to speak to the people who are making these rules because, I don't know about everyone else, but I like to write my own rules, decide who I can and cannot talk to, run my life AND my blog.  It really makes me sad how immature everyone has acted and how I can no longer have a conversation about a book with an author because they are afraid that they are breaking a rule and I will respond unkindly.  THEY are afraid of ME.  ME!?!?  (You should see my angry/mean face.  It's apparently hilarious.  Someone fearing me is just ... I'm speechless.)
            I knew it was bad, but I never realized just how bad until an author that I think is amazing (both as a writer and just in general) - that I consider a friend - said something about not knowing how to talk to me and about those unwritten rules that are now in effect.  To be completely honest, it broke my heart to hear that.  I went to my mom - who is my go-to, my sounding board - and cried (and I'm not a crier).  I met this guy as a reader, not as an author.  We were both reading the same book (one written by a mutual friend of ours) and I didn't even know he was an author until I got nosey and looked him up.  He will always be THAT guy, no matter how great an author I think he is.  
            And yet the bad behavior on both sides continues.  People are angry - and, in some instances, there is a right to be angry - but instead of just saying "You know what, I'm angry and this is why," people are acting out - and acting out in a way that just makes things worse.
            Here's an example: A friend of mine was labeled a BBA and it was unfortunate because the person that started the drama lied and, instead of admitting the lie, took their ball and left.  That friend hasn't even published the second book and yet it has already been put on Goodreads and given a 1 star review.

You have the right to stop reading a book you don't like.
You have the right to review said book even though you didn't finish it.
You do not have the right to be nasty.
A review is what you liked and didn't like about a book.
When you read 10 pages and your review is 30, that should tell you something.

You have the right to say I don't want to read this book.
Maybe it's just not your cup of tea - romance when you love horror.
Maybe you heard that the author beats his wife.
Or maybe he/she was really rude on Goodreads and you saw it.
Write your review.
Tell people - and the author - why you won't read it.
THAT is your right.
You do not have the right to give it a 1 star rating without reading it.
(And what's with this bookshelf thing?
Don't you think that's just a little TOO much time for something you're uninterested in?)

Personally, I think 1 and 2 star ratings should have a review.
I want to know why you chose that rating.
I want to know why you hated the book.
Those reviews are for readers.
How is your rating without a review helping readers?

Everyone talks about their "rights," but when you purposely try to injure someone, are purposely malicious, that's not a "right."  If you don't like the book, that's one thing, but to tear them down and degrade them and make it personal and everything else that people do in their reviews, that's ridiculous.  Haven't you ever heard "Treat people the way you yourself want to be treated"?

Note: I am not standing up for the authors here.  I'm standing up for everyone.  One bad author does not mean all authors are bad, just like one bad reviewer/blogger does not mean all reviewers/bloggers are bad.

A reviewer rated your book poorly.  
That is unfortunate and I can't even imagine how that feels.
98% of the time, this is a legitimate review.
They just did not like it, for whatever reason.
They are not bullying you by saying that they did not like it.
They are not out to hurt you or destroy your career or whatever.
They are not jealous that you are an author and they are not.
They disliked your book and they wrote a review.  Period.
You're mad.  I can understand that.
You're hurt.  I can understand that feeling too.
You cry.  You scream.  You rant.  You feel like quitting.
WE all get it.  We really do.  Everyone has felt this feeling before.
The sign of a great person (regardless of career) is how they react.
THIS is a learning experience - and should be looked at positively.
Most of us write reviews explaining why we didn't like it.
Those are the reviews you should worry about.
What did we like?  What didn't we like?
Write these down.  Seriously think about what the reviewer says.
Can I change this book and make it better?
Seriously, maybe the reviewer has something there.

I have been mistreated by an author.  I thought it was ridiculous the way he behaved ... and the fact that he sent some of his dogs to leave nasty comments on my blog and Google+.  What did I do?  I ignored him.  Even though he made me angry and I wanted to tell him where to shove his attitude, I ignored his threats, his nastiness ... and his friends.  I changed my settings on my blog and I reported his friends' comments to Google+, which hid them from view, and let someone else deal with their behavior.  Then I moved on with my life.

People who misbehave are jealous OR wanting attention OR trying to get a reaction.  They can be jealous and I have too much pride in myself and my blog to give them the attention they are wanting. I also have way too much of a life to react to them.  I pull out my journal, write what is happening and how I feel - very cathartic, actually - and sometimes I go to my author and blogger friends on Facebook to see what they have to say on the subject.  And then I'm done because the only person my anger and hatred hurts is me.

I went to BookLikes because some of my friends were no longer on Goodreads and I wanted to keep in contact with them.  I love it over there - it's fun, pretty and I like the way it's set up - but there is so much anger over there, and it feels (at times) like people would rather complain and wallow in their anger than discuss a book.  There are people on there who I no longer talk to - or even read their posts - because I'm tired of all the negativity.  (I wasted way too much time getting caught up in the petty stuff that has happened with BBA, STGRB or whatever it was called, etc - time I will never get back, time away from reading - and time where I was so angry I was shaking).

I've sat back and watched from the sidelines for far too long.  I've seen people ask if this can be fixed and how, but no one ever seems to have any idea how to do so.  

Let's go back to discussing books - and movies, those are cool too.
Let's go back to remembering why we are all here.
And remembering that authors are readers too.
That we're all human, that we all make mistakes.
(I, for one, can't throw stones from my glass house.)

Let's all remember to be nice.
Because somewhere along the line, a lot of people have forgotten how.
Being mean, nasty, rude, hateful - that is not funny.
Would you want to be treated that way?
Would you want someone to treat you the way you are treating someone else?

Let's stand up for what we believe and what we think.
Let's stop letting people dictate how we should think and feel.

Let's ignore the bad behavior (on both sides).
For those of y'all who are parents, you'll know where I'm coming from.
Little Johnny is picking his nose.
You tell him to quit over and over again.
You tell him how disgusting it is.
He ignores you.
He keeps picking that nose and laughing because he knows you don't like it.
(Little Johnny WANTS to be disgusting.)
So you ignore it.
He is no longer getting a reaction from you.
Picking his nose is not as much fun without that reaction.
Eventually Little Johnny stops.
And you no longer have to ick out about the boogers.

I want my book community back.  I want to be able to get on Goodreads and BookLikes without cringing.  I want to spend more than a few minutes scrolling through to see what others have done, or not looking at all and only posting my reviews.  I miss the relationships that I have there.  I miss the camaraderie and enjoyment of learning new books, discussing books and just plain being happy in both places.

I know, from experience, that good things can happen between a reviewer/blogger AND an author.  For example, the very first r2r I did on here was a book called Santa vs. the Aliens.  I read that book and really didn't like it - and I shared exactly why I didn't like it in my review.  He contacted me to discuss my thoughts and I must admit that it didn't start out very well.  (It takes a lot to make me mad and he was really working that last nerve of mine.)  I am a very persistent and was not willing to give up, but him and I had to have a long talk after he told me that the reason I didn't like it was because I was a "non-Christian."  (I am actually Catholic and my dislike of the book had nothing to do with the fact that religion was in it, but that religion came out of nowhere to save the world, basically, and that it was mostly the little boy, and not Santa, fighting the aliens.)  Once he was ready to listen, he went back and changed the end - which made it go from a 3 star book to a 4 1/2 star book in my opinion.  
            A very good friend of mine, who is also an author, wrote a novella here recently and, once I read it (before it was published, thankfully), I knew that the ending could be much better.  I felt horrible telling him so - not wanting to hurt his feelings, but knowing that I must in order for his book to be the best it could be (that editor part of me right there).  I mean, he was asking me for my honest opinion and what kind of friend would I be if I couldn't give that to him.  He went back and rewrote the ending and - wow!!  
            So for people to say that authors have no right to contact a reader, reviewer, blogger - whatever - is nuts.  Because, without those people to give their input, how do authors (especially self-published authors) know what the readers are not liking?  (Yes, it is not the reader's job to help the author edit their book or whatever, but if you are taking on the "reviewing" aspect of the whole thing, your opinion on why you didn't like it can help them make that book a book you and others will love.)  Instead of saying "No, don't do it, period," what we should be doing is telling them HOW to do it.  Authors need to be educated (or re-educated) on how to deal with us.

I am NEVER off-limits to anyone.  Author.  Reader.  Blogger.  EVERYONE has the option of contacting me.  Yes, even authors whose books I have despised (that is actually a very small number, thankfully) are more than welcome to contact me.  

"Great minds discuss ideas.
Average minds discuss events.
Small minds discuss people."
~Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

REVIEW: Wave Links

Powers Meant for Gods 1: 
Wave Links
Randall Boleyn

Genre: Suspense, Coming of Age, Fantasy
Publication date: 10.21.2014
Pages: 408

Recommended by: Pump Up Your Books
Date read: 11.10.2014

Summary: They feared how the truth might alter Llad Fleck.  No one told him about his talented ancestors, their extraordinary heritage, or how they died.  He never learned that a powerful research institute in London considered him a lethal threat.  Other than the need to move on to the safety of a different city every few months, the only thing Llad knew for sure was that the men he played ball agains said he had "mad skills not suitable for a fifteen-year-old."
            When Llad meets an eccentric parapsychologist, Dr. Jemma Rasks, she explains that she has waited decades just to teach him how to expand his mind and utilize the unique traits which she believes he has inherited.  Even though Dr. Rask and her stories come across as way too weird for Llad, he begins styling her techniques.  He quickly realizes that just because the link might be there, it doesn't mean he actually has the talent or the patience to develop his abilities.
            After multiple killings shatter Llad's life, he still doesn't know who is behind the brutal murders or why he's involved.  But he knows now that he's fighting for his life against a fanatical enemy.  He must discover more about his family tree and learn how to control his psychic gifts - if he has any.  Alone with his grief, Llad searches for clues about his cryptic lineage while being haunted by reoccurring dreams of a mysterious girl trying to help him master the bizarre talents he will need to survive.

I must admit to you now - the reason I chose to be part of this blog tour was based solely on the cover of this book.  I know that sounds silly, but it really is a bad habit of mine - I look at a book and think 'wow, I love that cover' and end up saying yes (or purchasing it) based solely on that alone.  This cover just really appeals to me and captured my attention.  

So it is the cover I have to thank for reading this book - and the author I have to thank for writing such a great one.  

I was impressed, from the very beginning, with the characters.  I was even more impressed with the Viking heritage that is part of the story, the way that Llad grows throughout, the exciting adventure, and the paranormal powers.  This book had me hooked from the very first chapter.  I cannot wait to find out what happens next in this trilogy.

Monday, November 10, 2014

REVIEW: Describing People

Describing People
Hailey Murray

Genre: Writing, Thesaurus, Vocabulary
Publisher: Baldwin & Black
Publication date: 10.11.2014
Pages: 38

Recommended by: Read 2 Review
Date read: 11.9.2014

Summary: Get ready to turbocharge your writing!  It's no secret that creating compelling characters is one of the most important skills for any writer, in fiction or nonfiction.  But how do you describe the personality traits that make people who they are?
            In this book, you'll find more than 800 words that describe different personality traits, grouped into easy-to-find sections.  It's a thesaurus with one simple purpose: helping you easily create vivid, memorable characters that practically jump off the page.
            Why settle for 'sad' when your villain could be downcast, dejected or despondent?  Or 'happy' when your hero could be chirpy, exultant or walking on air?  This book is full of inspiration for creating powerful characters that will hook readers from the very first page.
            'Describing People: Create Unforgettable Characters with 800+ Words for Personality Traits' is an indispensable resource for every writer, from beginners to professionals.
            If you write about people, you need 'Describing People.'  Start reading and improve your writing today!

I had such hopes for this book, but it was a complete disappointment.  With all this talk about describing personality traits and creating unforgettable characters, I expected it to be more than just a bunch of words.  But that was all it was - nothing more, nothing less.  This book - for lack of a better word - is a list of synonyms for 67 words.  Being a fan of big words, a lot of these already know - and they are easily accessible online or via websites such as  I guess having them all here in one place is a good idea, but I can't imagine paying $2.99 for what amounts to a long list of words.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

REVIEW: Haunted Stuff

Haunted Stuff:
Demonic Dolls, Screaming Skulls & Other Creepy Collectibles
Stacey Graham

Genre: Supernatural, Hauntings, Research
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications
Publication date: 8.1.2014
Pages: 242

Recommended by: NetGalley
Date read: 10.21.2014

Summary: Finding a one-of-a-kind antique doll at a garage sale is a great feeling - until you bring that doll home and discover it's haunted.  Objects with restless spirits attached to them can quietly invade a home through auctions, antique dealers, estate sales, garage sales, and inheritance.  This spooky collection examines a wide variety of haunted items, from screaming skulls to demonic dolls, and how they affect the owner's life.
            Haunted Stuff provides true accounts of possessed possessions, often found in the strangest places.  Discover chilling stories of the island of haunted dolls, the tumbling coffin, Rudolph Valentino's cursed ring, and even the Queen Mary ocean liner - one of the largest haunted items of all.  Experiences these true accounts that will make you look closer at the antiques on your shelf ... and wonder if that creepy doll just blinked.

This book was a lot of awesome fun to read.  It begins giving you information about haunted items, hauntings, ghosts, and tips on investigating the paranormal.  All very helpful and well written.  It then goes on to give lots and lots of histories on specific haunted items, which was very enjoyable, especially the part about a certain doll that I just watched a movie on.  

This would be a great book for people who write horror and ghost stories, a place to get ideas or just to read about some interesting hauntings.  It also would be great for people who are either interested in purchasing a haunted item (even tells you where you can find them and how to go about doing it) or have found themselves with a haunted item or living in a haunted home.  The investigation tips were cool and all easily done, as well as inexpensive.  

REVIEW: Kids at War

Kids at War
E.A. Lake

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian

Publication date: 10.17.2014
Pages: 207

Recommended by: Worldwind Virtual Book Tours, Read 2 Review

Date read: 11.8.2014

Summary: Almost six years since and unknown event plunged the world into darkness, humanity continues to crumble.  Times have worsened as the remaining fuel and valuable resources - fresh food and water - are long gone.  Chances of recovery have all but disappeared; chances of survival seem grim.

            In a plan so backward, so unlikely to have any success, the militia of the Milwaukee area take a young nun, five teens, and a set of five "special packages" into the barren farmland of south-central Wisconsin.  There, with little more than themselves for support, they are to live, to grow, and perhaps even prosper.  Or maybe the militia has just removed a problem they chose not to deal with.
            With the help of new - yet strange - friends, their journey begins.  But trouble finds them, even against their greatest hopes and fervent prayers.  Worse, the militia has purchased help from a drunken recluse who may prove to be their greatest trouble of all.
            The second book of our greatest war, our battle for survival, begins: WWIV - Kids at War.

This was a really interesting story.  The idea of a nun with five young teenage girls, with those five "special packages," being dropped off in the middle of nowhere, in a house with no electricity, and a couple of boxes of supplies, was really interesting, but at the same time seemed to make no sense, with the fact that the militia refused to answer any questions that they had.  With no help, and no real idea what they are doing, they make friends with their closest neighbors, and they have a guy the militia paid to help them out when needed.  This book is basically the story of their lives - their life, their adventures - as they grow up and learn about life.

My only concern was it didn't really feel like a dystopian book.  And I felt that the title was a tad deceiving.  I mean, with "Kids at War," I kept waiting for something to happen - and things did happen, not just anything really having to do with "war," at least in the way that I expected.  Also, with the Amish store, the fact that they had no electricity, and quite a few other things that went on throughout the book, I felt more like I was watching an episode of The Waltons.

That's not to say that I didn't find this book enjoyable, because I did.  I liked the story, it was well written, it kept me intrigued from start to finish, and I really like the way the story ended.  When I took this book on for the blog tour, I didn't actually know that it was the second in the story, so I plan to go back and read the first one - and I would like to see how this series continues, if the author chooses to do so.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Anomaly Book Trailer

Series: Schrodinger's Consortium
Author: Tonya Kuper

Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication date: 11.25.2014
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Romance
Pages: 400

Reality is only an illusion.
Except for those who can control it...

My first boyfriend dumped me - happy birthday, Josie! - my dad is who knows where, I have some weird virus that makes me want to hurl, and now my ex is licking another girl's tonsils.  Oh, and I'm officially the same age as my brother was when he died.  Yeah, today is about as fun-filled as the swamps of Dagobah.  But then weird things start happening ...
            Like I make something materialize just by thinking about it.
            When hottily-hot badass Reid Wentworth shows up on a motorcycle, everything changes.  Like, everything.  Who I am.  My family.  What really happened to my brother.  Existence.  I am Oculi, and I have the ability to change reality with my thoughts.  Now Reid, in all his hotness, is charged with guiding and protecting me as I begin learning how to bend reality.  And he's the only thing standing between me and the secret organization that wants me dead...

About the author:
Tonya Kuper is the author of Anomally, the first in the Schrodinger's Consortium Series, a young adult science fiction trilogy, releasing November 25, 2014 by Entangled Teen.  She fell for Young Adult lit while earning her Master's degree in Reading Education.  She's a mom to two awesome boys, an alt music junkie, a Star Wars nerd, and in love with Sherlock.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Anomaly by Tonya Kuper


by Tonya Kuper

Giveaway ends November 15, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

REVIEW: Blood Master

The G.O.Ds Series 1:
Blood Master
Kirsten Campbell

Genre: Science Fiction, Paranormal, Dystopian
Publisher: Kirsten Campbell
Publication date: 8.10.2014
Pages: 449

Recommended by: Sage's Blog Tours, Read 2 Review
Date read: 11.6.2014

2052: Two-thirds of the human population has been killed by the Great War, the Clover Virus and the Death Plague.  Only one man survived the Death Plague, an albino man named Griffin Storm.  He's the only albino in existence.  No one knows what happened to the other albinos, but most believe the rumors that they were eliminated by the Guild Faction's deadly experiments.
            Griffin is hiding out in Underground Atlanta.  He has special abilities.  He can manipulate crystal and glass.  He uses these abilities for good, raiding warehouses and old buildings for food and medical supplies to give the abandoned children that live in the Underground.  During a raid, he meets Tassta Vinetti.  She's a resident of the legendary Brotherhood Fortress.  Griffin is taken to the Brotherhood and chaos ensues as Tassta, her twin brother Penn, and her Uncle Lerin Sanctobous keep their new visitor and his untold powers secret.  They can not disclose that the only albino in existence is now at their fortress or they could all be in great danger.
            Fact is, the Guild is hunting Griffin.  He is the only survivor of their deadly experiments and his survival will have dynamic consequences.  The Guild believes Griffin will transform into a G.O.D., a Genetically-enhanced Omni Dimensional being.  If he transforms, he will have inter-dimensional doors within his body, doors that lead to heaven and hell.  Griffin will become a Blood Master and he'll be able to control the demons from the Dimension of Blood.
            Will Griffin save the children of the Underground from their tragic life?  Will he transform into a G.O.D. and become the Blood Master?  Only time will tell...

The story begins with Griffin, the only albino still alive, saving Tassta before she inadvertently gets caught by Guild Faction members.  After they part ways, he runs into Tassta's twin brother, Penn, who knocks him out with a rock and takes him back to their Uncle at the Brotherhood Fortress.  Griffin has special powers - and there is also a legend about an albino saving them all from the Guild.  Griffin wants to go back home to the Underground, where he he lives with his best friend, his best friend's daughter, and lots of children (who need him), but he also wants to stay with Tassta (who he is falling for) and Penn (who he is becoming friends with).

This is a really cool dystopian story.  There is adventure and very interesting characters and a storyline that is different and fun.  The characters were well written and the physical descriptions are well done and helpful, making it easy to see the person in your mind's eye.  Same with the physical descriptions of the settings.  A lot of authors fall flat on this, but Kirsten does a really good job.

Sometimes I think that authors are so intent on writing a good story that they miss out on the bigger picture (which is where a good editor comes in handy).  You (this is where I say "you, but not YOU" - in this case, YOU are one of the yous I'm talking to) are telling me a story about characters that you want me to relate to, become close to, bond with ... with an adventure (or mystery, or horror, or relationship...) that you want me to understand and become a part of ... and yet there are things that some of you do that make this problematic and sometimes even impossible.  Let me use an example from this particular book: At the beginning of the book, there is a page of name pronunciations (very cool).  Throughout the book, people are referred to by both names, while others are referred to by one.  Uncle Lerin goes back and forth between that and Lerin Sanctobus, his full name being unnecessary after the first time.  If you have to keep reminding me of who they are - and refuse to allow us to become (and remain on) a first name basis with your characters - how am I supposed to feel that I know them, that I am there with them throughout the story?  Personally, I find it awkward and think it takes away from the flow of the story.  (Another issue I had, which may have just been a personal thing with me, was the fact that things were repetitive, mentioned several times in different ways in the span of a few paragraphs i.e. we know that the bag holds a surprise Penn brought back from the raid.  It doesn't have to be reiterated or defined every time.  We get it and this takes away from the flow of the story as well.)

Despite that, I enjoyed reading this very much and can't wait to read more from this author.  

Favorite character: Griffin.  He is intense and interesting and different.  I want to know more about him.  I also like Penn.

Least favorite character: Tassta.  Which is unfortunate.  I like her in the beginning of the story, but was completely turned off of her after she and Griffin spoke in his room for the first time.  She had been so interested in learning more about him, had all these questions for him, but when she had the opportunity to ask them, she didn't - and, even worse, she made him think she was uninterested when he was telling her more about himself and where he lived.  She also wanted to be so mature and independent - and at times she was - but sometimes really failed at being either.

Kirsten Campbell is the author of several short stories and poems that have been published in Bewildering Stories, Ascent Magazine, Beauty Talk, The Fairfield Review, Poets-Artists & Madmen, Interracial Voice, Sagazine Online, The White Gallery, The Pittsburgh Quarterly Online, COBRA, The CoffeehousePress Journal and several other magazines.
            Kirsten was abandoned by both mother and father at six-years-old and she somehow survived a very devastating childhood.  She found strength and courage through reading and writing and she graduated from school, got married and raised four wonderful children. She also cared for several children that were abandoned by their parents and by society (a few were literally left on her doorstep).  She fed and clothed them and sent them to school and taught them to be upstanding, decent members of society.
            Kirsten wrote Blood Master several years ago and it developed into The G.O.D.s Series, a series of books that tell the journey of Griffin Storm, a hero with feet of clay, a hero that saves the lives of several people, but most importantly, he saves hundreds of children from abandonment and neglect; takes them to a better life (something of which Kirsten always wished for when she was a child).
            Her short story "Dark Matters" was published in Bewildering Stories and a character from the G.O.D.s Series made a special appearance in the story.  Said character appears in the second book of the G.O.D.s Series "Blood Storm."
            As a side note, Ladybug Press published her chapbook, "Poetry from the Covert Bourgeoisie," in 2006 and her chapbook, "The Abandoning Kind," was published by Pudding House Publications in 2009.  She lives in Brewster, NY, with her daughters and her five unbelievably beautiful grandchildren!