31 Jan 2012

Guest post - Dianna Hardy and a giveaway

The Witching Pen Relationships
by Dianna Hardy.


Welcome! Thanks for joining the celebration of the release of The Sands Of Time. I only sent out one ARC to one reviewer this time around as ARCs are something I'm experimenting with. (I also think she may have pulled my arms and legs off if I didn't send her the book as soon as I possibly could.) You can read the very first review, by the lovely Ninfa here.

I thought I'd centre my blog post on writing about relationships. I call myself a romance writer because I love writing relationships, although, in truth, I don't actually know if that makes me a romance writer – you see, I'm not led by the romance, but by the characters. Some people would consider me an erotic romance writer, because I like those relationships to be hot, but this is also not necessarily true. It's only as hot as the characters allow (and yeah, a lot of my characters allow for that). I'm learning, as time goes on, that to be true to the relationships of my characters, I have to break some rules of what the romance genre expects. So I may not be a romance writer at all…

I get bored easily. I'm lucky, because my significant other has about ten different personalities and they all keep me amused. I look for the same in books. I like to read and write about the differences between all my characters and how they relate to each other.

In The Witching Pen Novellas, we have at least three examples of emotional / sexual relationships: there's Karl and Elena in book one – they're the sweet ones – best friends who have always loved each other, and although there's definitely passion there, there's also a gentleness that is unique to them, as well as that unbreakable 'soulmate' bond. Pueblo and Amy, in book two, have a more lustful arrangement, not least because of their blood bond and other elements that come to light. In book two, we also get a hint of what Gwain and Mary's situation will bloom into. It's only a hint – and the keyword is 'intensity'. They both have a deep need that stretches back aeons, and that's all I'm going to say about that for the moment.

But these books are also about all relationships, not just romantic ones (and this is the part where I question if I'm really a romance writer). Pueblo has a world of hurt placed on his shoulders from his tribe, so how does he relate to others? Gwain has some kind of history with Elena's mother – what does that mean to Elena? He's also the closest thing that Karl has to an angelic 'tutor' – we could go so far as to say that he fathered / midwifed Karl into his angelic life – so what does that mean to Karl? I'm not even going to go into Amy's complications… But these are all important key points that affect the characters' relationships with each other, and more importantly, it's what bonds them all together and makes the story come alive (or at least, that's what makes the story for me).

The 'romance' is always there. Each book focuses on two characters' emotional romantic development, but it does not leave the other characters behind – they continue to develop as well, and we see that in spades. It's entirely possible for me to explore two couple's relationships in one book (although one will always take centre stage over the other), because life is all about cross-overs and how people meet and relate. From what I understand, this is a big no-no in romance. Maybe what I write about is life (supernaturally, of course) – it's just that for me, life has always been synonymous with matters of the heart and more often than not, that means relationships.

Am I a romance writer? You decide, because I can't – and when you figure it out, please let me know ;)

So what am I leaving you with? (Grins…) I'm leaving you with the blurb for book three, The Demon Bride (below), as well the link to the now up and running site for The Last Angel, where you'll also get to see the book cover prototype. The Last Angel will be a spin-off, full-length novel to The Witching Pen Novellas. Oh yeah … and I have GIVEAWAYS! Read on…

"Two thousand and eleven years after the birth of the Failed One, the Witching Pen will be made manifest on Earth by the Great Shanka Witch of the Old Scrolls. By her hand, the earth will rumble and shatter, and all dimensions will bleed into one."
The true purpose of the Witching Pen has been revealed, and it must be destroyed before an apocalyptic prophecy comes true. There's just one problem – the Pen is indestructible.
As everyone searches for much needed answers, Elena lays down plans for a radical mission to save her mother, Katherine, from the Shanka's shadow world.
Meanwhile, Mary has finally discovered who she really is, and
what that means for the human race. Almost more disturbing, is her growing dependency on Gwain to relieve the excruciating pain her nightmares inflict upon her – nightmares which have started to inhabit her waking hours.
While Elena, Karl, Amy and Pueblo enter the Shanka dimension to retrieve Elena's mother; Gwain searches for a way to save both Mary and mankind ... and comes to a startling conclusion.
Released Summer, 2012, this is the final instalment of The Witching Pen Novellas, but will give way to a full-length, spin-off novel, called The Last Angel. I can't give you much information on that yet, but expect an Earth-shattering conclusion to everything that's happened so far! You can catch a glimpse of the tone of the novel at http://www.thelastangel.co.uk/ where I'll also be posting updates as and when.

Find the author: Facebook I Website I Twitter Buy the book: Amazon US I Amazon UK
1 x eBook copy of The Sands Of Time

1 x signed paperback copy of The Sands Of Time, hot off the press (in about 8 weeks)

10 x signed 'Karl and Elena' bookmarks (because I still have loads of these!)
All giveaways are international.

29 Jan 2012

Undead - Review

Available now


What's it about?
Being new at school bites. But at least it doesn't kill you. Mostly.
Bobby thinks she might well be on the School Trip from Hell. Too bad she's a noob, too bad her classmates don't rate her weirdo accent and too bad that Scotland is having the worst blizzard since the Ice Age. Looks like she's going to be on this school bus for a quite a while; could things get much worse?
Yep. They could.
Inexplicably, her classmates start dying...and then they come back to life again...and what's more, they're very, very hungry.
With nowhere to run and no contact with the outside world, Bobby is thrown together with a raggle-taggle group of survivors at a roadside café. There's indie kid drop-out Smitty, the class beauty queen Alice, dweeby Pete and two near useless adults: a half-conscious bus driver and a volatile petrol station attendant.
The frenemies struggle to stay alive - through explosions, deadly battles and a breakneck chase through the snowbound wilderness. Somehow they have to make it to safety - and get some answers - no matter what the cost.
Can they survive the Undead? And each other?

My review
Undead is a fun, witty, exciting story and I loved every minute. Right from the first lines it had me laughing out loud at Bobby's sarcastic inner monologue, I'm pretty sarcastic myself so we had a lot in common.
The book quickly jumps into the story and is fast paced right the way through keeing me engrossed in the book until I finished making it a quick read. There was a good bit of mystery to as to why everyone has been infected and I loved the conclusion and how it ended.
I found there was a good mix of characters that all kept the story going, the 'core' characters, Bobby, Smitty, Pete and Alice were really diverse and were pretty funny together, none of them were originally friends but this bizarre situation has left them having to work together to survive but that doesn't mean they have to like each other and even with the apocalypse looming they bicker about the best way to do things which gave the book a light tone throughout.
So I guess this review has ended up pretty short but there isn't much more I can say, I really loved it and thought it was hilarious and am anxious to see what the author comes up with next.

My thoughts on the cover
Sometimes plain covers can be boring and sometimes they can be pretty cool, this one falls into the latter for me. I love the zombies in the title, particularly the one in the 'B' with the weird stance lol I like the tag line to, it really represents the humour of the book.

Favourite quotes

'Mr Taylor's head snaps up. He sees us. Letting out a long groan, he stretches his hands out and heads directly towards the bus.
He looks... hungry.'

'We don't know it's true that they died. For all we know, this is some whacked-out haggis 'flu.' I'm saying it, but I'm not entirely buying it.' - Bobby.

Find the author

28 Jan 2012

In Mists mailbox (31)

In my mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at The story siren where we share the books we have gotten.

23rd Jan - 29th Jan

Books mentioned
Bought
RAK/Gifted
Zenith and Aurora by Julie Bertagna
Frost by Marianna Baer - All from Natalie!
For review

eBooks
Kindle freebies!

Also if you live in the UK, have a Kindle and love Kindle freebies you should join my new fb page run with Siobhan from Totally Bookalicious and Donna from Book passion for life: Free Kindle UK (FKUK for short hehe)

This week in review
(This is the books I have reviewed this week)

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Interview - Nicolene Lorette design and a giveaway


Today we are chatting with the lovely Nicolene of Nicolene Lorette Design.

Nicolene is an artist and she works through photo manipulation creating amazing pictures, including book covers!

So, thank you Nicky for talking to us today, here's my first question:

How did your passion for photo manipulation begin?
-I discovered photo manipulation 3/4 years ago. I was amazed at how far I could stretch my imagination and then re-create it for everyone to see. There was no limit. Anything was possible. Soon I was creating design after design and started showcasing my images on Facebook, Deviant Art and Shadowness.
Where do you find inspiration for your art?
-I only design when I am inspired by the story line/ music/ movies or the image I have been given depending on my mood.
Do you have a favourite theme when creating your images? You seem to like the Supernatural and Fantasy (Faeries, Witches etc.) :)
-Nope, I don't have a specific theme I like, I do all kinds of things so long as it's interesting to me. I have been focused on Faeries and Witches but I like playing around withmy own ideas and making up things.
Who's your favourite artist of all time?
-I know this might seem lame to some people out there but my favourite artist would be God, everyone else just copies him. My other favourite artists would be: Nathalia Suellenlady as Lady Symphonia and Silviya Yordanova as Morteque and a few others...
You work on book covers amongst other things, how difficult is it to translate a story into a book cover? How much input do you get from the author/publisher?
-Well it all depends on the person that's trying to get their vision across. It's not so easy but I get a base-line and we tweak and work on it from there. I like it when the author/publisher/client can explain to me what they want and I can form an idea from there. Sometimes you need to come up with ideas for the client and they're not always pleased with the results but then you go back to the drawing board and you start again. I like doing book cover designs but I also do artwork and other designer things (O: I really enjoy what I do and that shows in my work... so I guess that's all that matters.
And last but not least, are you a Bookaholic?
-But of course :o)
You can find out more about Nicolene and her amazing artwork on:

How would you like to win a fabulous 'You can't kill me' wallpaper/screensaver for your computer?
Well just fill in the form, it's International




27 Jan 2012

Audio Friday - Charlie and the chocolate factory - Review

Audio (every other) Friday is for Audio reviews.
This weeks review is by Wanda.
Narrated by James Bow.
Via Wikipedia


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a 1964 children's book by British author Roald Dahl. The story features the adventures of young Charlie Bucket inside the chocolate factory of eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was first published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. in 1964 and in the United Kingdom by George Allen & Unwin in 1967. The book was adapted into two major motion pictures: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in 1971, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 2005. The book's sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, was written by Roald Dahl in 1972. Dahl had also planned to write a third book in the series but never finished it.
The story was originally inspired by Roald Dahl's experience of chocolate companies during his schooldays. Cadbury would often send test packages to the schoolchildren in exchange for their opinions on the new products. At that time (around the 1920s), Cadbury and Rowntree's were England's two largest chocolate makers and they each often tried to steal trade secrets by sending spies, posing as employees, into the other's factory. Because of this, both companies became highly protective of their chocolate making processes. It was a combination of this secrecy and the elaborate, often gigantic, machines in the factory that inspired Dahl to write the story.

Overview of the story
Charlie is a sweet well behaved boy, whom by a stroke of luck lands in a Chocolate factory with some truly naughty children and their parents.
One by one these childrens behavior lands them in trouble and they are forced to leave the grand tour. This puts Charlie in a position where fortune smiles on him.

If like me, you’ve never read the story or seen either of the two film adaptations then this is where I will leave you now regarding the story line.
My review
I absolutely adored the story and the narration by James Bow was superb. I loved the fact that he would sing the songs in the book as naturally as if he had composed them himself. The book is read at a nice fast pace and an audio listener can finish the book in a morning which makes it an altogether more fun read than it already is.
Charlie is portrayed as a well mannered well adjusted little boy filled with the wonder of a little boy in a chocolate factory. This is apparent in the questions he posed to his grandfather.
The characters portrayal is done with such clarity that I am sure many a grown up would listen to the book and say – Hey we had a girl like that in school! The children’s offences in the book is of such a nature that I winched and thought to myself that wow – I wonder what my parents would have done had I tried to do x, y or z. I am sure I would have been in for a well deserved hiding. I loved the lessons in good manners these books give to children and have to admit that afterwards I am even more set on my own manners. I am unsure as to why I have missed these books up to now. But I am glad to report that I have two more on audio and can’t wait to start on them.
While doing a bit of research for this review I found a lot of information on the book and the motivation and I would suggest all to take a few minutes and go and read up on this book in open source directories. The amount of information is astounding as well as very entertaining.
I will give this book a 5/5 star rating since I simply adored listening to it. I would recommend that parents listen to this with their children. We all can do with a brush up on manners every now and again. This said, I would not describe this book as a children’s book although it is obviously suitable and advisable for children to listen or read this book. I find many of the more humorous parts to be above the level of a child to grasp totally and appreciate fully. Hope to listen to the next book soon.

26 Jan 2012

The iron knight - UK blog tour - Quickie interview with Julie Kagawa

The iron knight by Julie Kagawa
The iron fey book four.

Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing.


Unless he can earn a soul.

To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.
Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.
With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side. To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale. And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.

The iron fey is such a unique and beautiful series, had you always wanted to write a story about faeries?

-Thank you! Yes, faeries have always fascinated me. I love creepy tales and stories about things that go bump in the night, and I love the idea that there is this whole other world that exists right alongside ours, and we just don't see it. The Iron Fey series was a chance to explore that old, scary world, while at the same time creating something completely new.
Obviously A Midsummer Night’s Dream was a big inspiration for some of the story as you've used the same characters, was A Midsummer Night’s Dream a story you grew up with?
-Not that I grew up with, per se, though I did read A Midsummer Night's Dream in high school and absolutely loved the character of Puck. I've read several books since then that featured the fey, and many of them had Mab, Oberon, Titania, and Puck as prominent figures. Puck, especially, is always the same crafty, mischievous prankster that he was in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and I've always wanted to write about him. I only hope I did his character justice.
What made you decide to write an extra book told from Ash's perspective?
-Well, originally, the series was going to be a trilogy, ending with The Iron Queen. Meghan's story had come to a close the way I envisioned it; she had to grow up and learn to take responsibility, even at great cost and sacrifice. Her journey was done. However, my fabulous editor convinced me that we couldn't leave Ash and Meghan like that, so not long after I finished The Iron Queen I started to think of how Ash would tell his own story.
A couple of my favourite characters from the series are Puck and Grimalkin, who was your favourite character to write?
-I think my favourite character to actually write would be Grimalkin. He doesn't care what anyone thinks of him, he speaks what's on his mind always, and he usually says what the reader is dying to say to the other characters when they are being especially thick. But Puck is pretty fun, too. Especially when he's teasing or arguing with "ice-boy."
You have a brand spanking new series starting in a few months, do you think you'll write anymore in the world of The Iron Fey in the future?
-Oh, definitely. My new series is called Blood of Eden and is a post-apocalyptic vampire series, but I also have a second Iron Fey trilogy coming out starring Ethan Chase, Meghan's younger brother, when he is older. Ethan's story will be set in the same world, and I'm sure many familiar faces will pop in for cameos.

Find the author:
Goodreads
Also check out my Review

Juggernaut - Review

Outpost book 0.5
Available 16th February 2012

What's it about?
Iraq 2005 Seven mercenaries journey deep into the desert in search of Saddam's gold. They form an unlikely crew of battle-scarred privateers, killers and thieves, veterans of a dozen war zones, each of them anxious to make one last score before their luck runs out. They will soon find themselves marooned among ancient ruins, caught in a desperate battle for their lives, confronted by greed, betrayal, and an army that won't stay dead...

My review
Wow!... That's about the extent of my review because I don't know what other words I could use to justify how much I loved this book!
Readers of Outpost will already recognise Bakers signature writing style starting this book, if you haven't read Outpost, don't worry these can be read out of order, the author has a really unique way of writing that really adds an extra effect to his chilling novels.
Juggernaut is every bit as stomach clenching and nail bitingly scary as the first book and just left my head spinning at the end, I really had to collect myself before I could pick up another book.
I will admit however, for me it took a little getting in to, not because it's bad just because I know nothing about the military so all the lingo and the different weapons just went over my head, I even had to find out exactly what a Mercenary is because I wasn't sure, but yeah, that was my problem lol At the same time though, I'm glad there wasn't descriptions of all the weapons and what the guys were talking about because I think it would have slowed down the story and added a big chunk to the book, I figured it all out for myself as I went and as the story was set up and the book started flowing I was completely hooked.
As the pace speeded up I came closer to the edge of my seat, my stomach in knots as I awaited the conclusion, I could feel the desert heat sizzling off the page.
There's plenty of 'infected' action and some really great insight into how the infection came about, something I know I was dying to learn about after finishing Outpost and I know others were to, and it's good!...
I enjoyed all of the characters, we don't learn a whole lot of backstory about most of them but I enjoyed how they interacted with each other, you can tell that the core group have been friends a long time... although there are some great twists along the way! There was also a good mix of characters, good, bad and really bad that made a good dynamic to the book.
Adam Baker is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors and for those that don't know there is to be another book to follow in this series, which I'm pretty sure is set after Outpost and I cannot wait to get my hands on it and be back in this world that sends chills up my spine.

My thoughts on the cover
I love this cover, it fits in so well with the cover of the first book and is super creepy with those faces at the top, the orange is the perfect colour for the books setting in the desert, I love the guy in the fatigues and the people/monsters in the distance.

Favourite quotes
'It's a matter of will. Put a man in a fiercely hostile enviroment like the desert or leave him marooned in Artic wastes and you'll soon see what lies in his heart.' - Jabril.

'Lucy will have no choice. he will turn homicidal. She will have to kill him, or be killed.' - Jabril

Find the author: Website I Facebook I Twitter I Goodreads

Same difference (22)


These covers are both gorgeous and so simlair it's hard to say which would be my favourite but I'm slightly tempted more by Touch of frost, the snow is so bright and I like the font better, but the water on The Diviners cover is cool to.

Which do you prefer?


Blue sky days blog tour - Guest post - Marie Landry

My love affair with books.

First, I'd like to thank Mist and the other Bookaholics for having me here today. I'm thrilled to be among a group of fellow book lovers!



I come from a family of bookaholics, so I've always been a reader. Both my parents and my grandparents loved to read, and instilled that love in me.
The books that really got me into reading were the Berenstein Bear books my Stan and Jan Berenstein. I'm not sure how old I was when I started collecting them, but I clearly remember my parents reading them to me, and then me reading them to my Grama. I loved those books. I think part of it was coming from a family just like the Bear Family—two parents, a brother, and then me as the baby of the family.


I was very lucky to have a family who fostered my love of reading. Buying Berenstein Bears books became a special ritual for my dad and me. Whenever we went to the post office, which was situated at the back of a large store, I was allowed to choose a new book. Those memories became even more precious after my dad passed away when I was ten.
Growing up in the 90s, my favorite books were pretty standard—The Baby-Sitters Club, Sweet Valley High, and RL Stine's books were among my favorites. Throw in some classics like Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Tuck Everlasting, and the Chronicles of Narnia, and my love for reading never faded. Of course, it helped that my mum is an avid reader, and so was my Grama right up until her death, just three months shy of her hundredth birthday.

Becoming a book blogger has only added fuel to my status as a book addict. In 2011, my first year as a book blogger, I surpassed my reading goal, and ended up reading more books in one year than I ever had before. I've been opened up to a whole new world of books and book lovers who share my passion for the written word. I don’t have many friends in ‘real life’ who enjoy reading, so finding the book blogging community was a godsend for me. Now when I go on and on about books, I know other people get it. We’re all here for a common reason. I can stand up among these amazing people and say that I am proud to be a bookaholic.

Marie would like to thank the people who have supported her by showing her appreciation in some small way. So, for every person who buys a copy of Blue Sky Days during the tour and sends Marie proof of purchase via email to irishstar_83{at}hotmail{dot}com she will enter you into a giveaway to win a book of your choice up to $12 CAN from The Book Depository.

Blue sky days.


A year after graduating from high school, nineteen-year-old Emma Ward feels lost. She has spent most of her life trying to please her frigid, miserable mother - studying hard, getting good grades, avoiding the whole teenage rebellion thing - and now she feels she has no identity beyond that. Because she spent so many years working hard and planning every moment of her life, she doesn't have any friends, has never had a boyfriend, and basically doesn't know who she is or what she really wants from life. Working two part-time jobs to save money for college hasn't helped her make decisions about her future, so she decides it's time for a change. She leaves home to live with her free-spirited, slightly eccentric Aunt Daisy in a small town that makes Emma feel like she's stepped back in time.

When Emma meets Nicholas Shaw, everything changes - he's unlike anyone she's ever met before, the kind of man she didn't even know existed in the 21st century. Carefree and spirited like Daisy, Nicholas teaches Emma to appreciate life, the beauty around her, and to just let go and live. Between Daisy and Nicholas, Emma feels like she belongs somewhere for the first time in her life, and realizes that you don't always need a plan - sometimes life steers you where you're meant to be.
Life is wonderful, an endless string of blue sky days, until Nicholas is diagnosed with cancer, and life changes once again for Emma in ways she never thought possible. Now it's time for her to help Nicholas the way he's helped her. Emma will have to use her new-found strength, and discover along the way if love really is enough to get you through.

Find the author:

25 Jan 2012

UK vs. THE WORLD! (9)

UK vs. The world is a weekly meme I made up lol.
It's simlair to UK vs. US except the UK covers are battling it out with their foreign counterparts from all over the world, because who doesn't love judging books by their covers!


UK                          vs.                  Indonesia
Dream catcher book one ('Terjaga' translates to 'Awake' - According to Google translate)
Mist: I definitely vote for the Indonesian cover here! It has a really dark feel to it, the UK cover is nice but it just has to much going on.

Ninfa: I'm not keen on the UK version although I love the tagline. it's just a little messy for my taste. The Indonesian cover is quite pretty, sort of reminds me of the Twilight Graphic novel cover. I don't love either of them I have to admit, but my choice would be the Indonesian cover this time.

UK                         vs.                     Spain
Tigers curse by Coleen Hauck
The tiger saga book one ('La maldición del Tigre' translates to 'Heart of the tiger' - According to Google translate)
Mist: Oh this is hard, they so simlair and have that gorgeous tiger on but I think I like the UK cover a little bit more, I prefer the lighter colour and all the patterns at the top and the ones that are more faded, the Spanish cover is lovely to though.

Ninfa: Wow, these are both lovely covers and so similar. I love the tiger in the UK cover, it's really striking and something about the eyes draws me in. But the Spanish cover with the model is my favourite, something about the model's expression is so endearing.
Spanish win this time.

Which do you prefer?

Guest post - John Connell

A fantastic idea: The world of Carnal by John Connell.
I don't remember exactly but it has to be close to eleven years ago now that I had a very vivid nightmare. This wasn't the kind of nightmare where you'd wake up screaming in a cold sweat. The imagery was so vivid and realistic. When I awoke, I grabbed my morning coffee and proceeded to sketch out my vision with plans of creating a painting. What I began to draw was a huge humanistic rhino, black and grey with black striped war paint smeared diagonally all over. He was fighting off a clan of humanistic hyenas that were clawing at him.

The whole scene was lit up like a national geographic special, safari rangers, jeep and all which were positioned way off in the distance. The animals eyes all glowed bright red. I thought "Man, this would make a killer painting."

Another strange thing aside from remembering all of this imagery is the fact that I remembered it!! I have the worst memory. Just ask my wife. Writing this now, I can still vividly see the rhino fending off the hyena's.
Thirdly, I'm famous for starting projects and not quite finishing them. I have a studio filled with half done paintings, sketchbooks crammed with toy ideas, concept sketches for painting series and partially made clay figures. My intent was to paint the image I saw that night in my dream, but this was more than a thought or a picture. This had a whole story of it’s own to be told. The idea grew in my head. What if the lions had humanistic qualities? What if the Cape Buffalo were humanistic? And of course the great Rhino. For a year or so, I was building on the idea of making this world come alive. I would jot down ideas and visions even if they weren't complete thoughts. There were numerous notebooks filled with ideas.

In 2003 my wife and I had twins and my Carnal hobby had to be put on a shelf. I already had a successful art career which was my source of income and any free time from there was spent on the babies and sleep. During this time, I had an addition of a studio added to my home so I could focus on painting while working from home. On the wall in my studio I hung a lion warrior portrait. Seeing the painting everyday nagged at me to start on Carnal again. Not having the time to paint, I worked up my Carnal ideas in photoshop and took the chance of posting them on Deviant Art. I was pissed at myself for not following through with ideas and projects in the past so I made a promise to myself that any free time would be devoted to Carnal. I've never been one to display my art but when I shared it on Deviant, I received four or five positive comments within the hour which motivated me even further. It felt great to have complete strangers take the time to comment on my art. On the other hand, if I received a "this really sucks" comment, I probably would never have continued to post it!

Over the years, I kept my promise to myself to keep the dream of Carnal alive. While the positive feedback continuing to pour in I would take time after work and on weekends drawing Carnal designs of Lions and I'd post them. There seemed to be a fan base forming. About a year from this point, I received a message from David at Sea Lion Books asking if I would be interested in publishing Carnal through them. I think I emailed back "HELL YEAH" or that's what I wanted to. It was then I asked my nephew, Jason Bergenstock, to help me with the writing. Jason and I would have writing meetings and come up with the story. It came from pictures in my mind or from designs I had done. I'd look at the design and try to come up with a story that matched the character in the art. Jason has been instrumental in helping to put my thoughts into words and to help create the world of Carnal.

Be sure to check out:

24 Jan 2012

The iron knight - Review

The iron fey book four.
Available now.


What's it about?
Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing.
Unless he can earn a soul.
To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.
Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.
With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side.
To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale.
And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.

My review
Whilst I did enjoy this book, especially since it followed yummy Prince Ash! I have to admit I did feel in the end that it kind of dragged on and found myself becoming bored as I just wanted to get to the (hopefully) happy ending. I know Ash's final journey shouldn't have been an easy one, but I personally thought there were bits the book could have done without and it still would have been a tough journey, but that being said it did make a nice ending to the whole series altogether and left everything wrapped up nicely, though I wouldn't say no to more adventures of Puck! Puck has always been a fun character but I found him extra funny in this installment and he balanced the tortured, brooding mood of Ash so that they book didn't become depressing. I also still love Grim and was glad he was in this and the addition of a couple of new characters also kept it interesting. As usual the writing is beautiful and Julie Kagawa has a brilliant imagination, creating a vivid world I'd just love to visit. I didn't find this book as exciting as the other books but it will still have a place in my permanent collection.

My thoughts on the cover
All of the covers for series are gorgeous and this ones no different especially with handsome Prince Ash on it! I really love the vine patterns around the border and the extra touch of the snowflakes and frost and the blue colour chosen is gorgeous.

Favourite quotes:
'I'd learned long ago how to mask my pain and remain silent, even in sleep. You don't show weakness in the Unseelie Court.'

'Deep within me something stirred. the darkness that I'd kept locked away, the part of me that was all Unseelie: hate, violence and black rage, rushed to the surface with a roar, seeking to overwhelm me. But it was met by something bright and pure and intense, a miasma of light that seared away the darkness, filling every corner and expanding outward, until there was no place left for the blackness to hide. I shivered, reeling from the flood of light and colour and emotion, not knowing how empty I had been until that moment.'

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23 Jan 2012

The wife who ran away - Review

Available now

What's it about?
Kate Forrest is invisible… Ned, the husband she adores, doesn’t seem to know she’s alive, and her two charming children have grown into stroppy adolescents. Her boss is suddenly shunting her towards career Siberia, and her demanding mother is never off the phone. With her fortieth birthday fast approaching, all Kate wants to do is run away from the lot of them. And so she does. On impulse, Kate walks out of her job, her family and her life, and gets on a plane to Italy. With no ties and no responsibilities, she soon finds herself deliriously caught up in La Dolce Vita – and the arms of a man barely half her age. But when the unthinkable threatens her family, Kate is brutally forced to choose between her past and the future.

My review
Not being a big reader of womens fiction I wasn't sure what to expect with this book or even if I'd like it but it turned out I had nothing to worry about! Not only did I really enjoy it but I related to the character of Kate a whole lot. Right from the first pages I could feel her frustration and understand what it is that drives her to that airport and run away. I have three children myself, and like Kate try to do it all and some days it drives me crazy, I could never imagine throwing a full time job into the mix as well!
I loved the way the author told this story from everyones point by having mulitple narratives between Kate, her husband and their two kids, it really gave me an insight into all the dimentions of the story and what everyone was thinking.
I enjoyed all the sub-plots and the gasp-out-loud shocking moments, that all rounded together in the end to make for a clean finish, and the descriptions of Rome and the landmarks Kate visits really made me feel like I was there.
I have to say I really didn't know what would happen at the end of this book until I was actually reading the end, though I did have my fingers crossed for a particular ending.
It was well written and I found I read the book much quicker than I thought that I would, racing to get to the end to see what life Kate would choose.
The wife who ran away is an emotional, well written journey of a woman just trying to figure out who she is and what she wants and I loved making that journey with her.

My thoughts on the cover
The first thing I notice about this cover is of course the turquoise colour of the dress and text, it's a gorgeous colour, I also love the backdrop of Rome and Kate looking at it with her suitcase, it really gives the feel of the book and I really like it.

Favourite quotes

'This is a mistake. I shouldn't have come. Once Julia sees me, it'll all be real. I need to go back home to my children, to Ned.... 'Kate,' Julia calls across the moonlit lawn. 'I've been expecting you.'

'I never stopped loving Ned. I just lost sight of it for a while.'
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21 Jan 2012

Blue sky days - Vlog review

Available now.
What's it about?
A year after graduating from high school, nineteen-year-old Emma Ward feels lost. She has spent most of her life trying to please her frigid, miserable mother - studying hard, getting good grades, avoiding the whole teenage rebellion thing - and now she feels she has no identity beyond that. Because she spent so many years working hard and planning every moment of her life, she doesn't have any friends, has never had a boyfriend, and basically doesn't know who she is or what she really wants from life. Working two part-time jobs to save money for college hasn't helped her make decisions about her future, so she decides it's time for a change. She leaves home to live with her free-spirited, slightly eccentric Aunt Daisy in a small town that makes Emma feel like she's stepped back in time.
When Emma meets Nicholas Shaw, everything changes - he's unlike anyone she's ever met before, the kind of man she didn't even know existed in the 21st century. Carefree and spirited like Daisy, Nicholas teaches Emma to appreciate life, the beauty around her, and to just let go and live. Between Daisy and Nicholas, Emma feels like she belongs somewhere for the first time in her life, and realizes that you don't always need a plan - sometimes life steers you where you're meant to be.
Life is wonderful, an endless string of blue sky days, until Nicholas is diagnosed with cancer, and life changes once again for Emma in ways she never thought possible. Now it's time for her to help Nicholas the way he's helped her. Emma will have to use her new-found strength, and discover along the way if love really is enough to get you through.

My review:



Blue sky days is a wonderfully written, deeply emotional journey. I loved all the characters and felt very close to them as I got to know them, so much so I could feel their emotions, I felt Emmas despair, at her mother and later at Nicholas' illness, obviously I was praying for a happy ending and I was biting my lip, on the brim of tears, waiting to find out if there was one. It's definitely one I'd recommend and I cannot wait to see what else Marie comes up with in the future.

My thoughts on the cover
This is a lovely, simplistic cover. The holding hands lets you know this is a love story and I love the sun, which of course fits in witht the title, and the beach. It makes me think of summer.

Favourite quotes
'All these thoughts and more ran through my head as he made his way up the hill. I couldn't really believe that he was coming to talk to me, and in the minute it took him to reach me. I had created a million different reasons why he could be climbing this hill. As he got closer and I got a good look at those beautiful blue eyes, I forgot all the reasons I had created and hoped he was coming to talk to me'

'His smile was so beautiful, transforming his already handsome face with that flash of dimples, and the way his eyes crinkled in the corners. But when he smiled at me, it took my breath away. Everything else faded away for a few seconds.'

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In Mists mailbox (30)

In my mailbox is hosted by Kristi @ The story siren.
It's a regular meme where we share the books we have gotten.

16th Jan - 22nd Jan

As you can see I cut out some bits where I just rambled on to make the video shorter lol
Books mentioned
Bought
Gifted
Divergent by Veronica Roth - from HarperCollins
Swapped
For review

eBooks
Kindle freebie
Bought

This week in review
(There seemed to be a bit of confusion last week, 'this week in review' is the reviews that have been posted this week on the blog, in case your interested in reading them, not books I have gotten)

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

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