Category Archives: Book-It! Please send pizza

Book Review: Light’s Shadow

Light’s Shadow is the third (and final?) book in the Copper Falls trilogy by Colleen Vanderlinden. I have been anxiously waiting for this once since I finished the second in the series. I knew I wouldn’t have long to wait, because Colleen is a magical writing machine! She publishes fantastic stories every day! (That is an exaggeration, of course. It’s more like once a week.) (I’m not actually sure how often, I just know that her prolificness leaves me in awe. I’m beginning to suspect that her “home school” is just a book sweatshop.) (KIDDING!)

Although I picked this up via my Kindle Unlimited subscription, I should disclose that Colleen is a friend (and my editor) and we are locked in a fierce contest to see which of us can kill the most characters. She did alright in this book, but she really could’ve done better. Too much saving!

Disclosure: I am writing this pre-coffee, so there will probably be more parentheticals than are legally allowed.

The Cover

That hair! That dress! Those bosoms!

 

The Blurb

Born of the Light. Corrupted by Shadow.

After spending her entire life as a servant of the Light, Sophie Turner no longer knows where she fits into a world in which she’s been forced to become the very thing she’s come to hate. She doesn’t know herself anymore, and can’t seem to reconcile her strong belief in the tenets of Light as Shadow magic flows through her body, seducing her, tempting her to do the very things she swore she’d never do.

At the same time, her relationship with Calder Turcotte, the man she’s loved for practically her entire life, is on shaky ground. The things she had to do to break his curse haunt them both, and there’s a distance between them now that she doesn’t know if they can ever bridge.

All of that is bad enough, but when the alpha of the Copper Falls wolf pack ends up dead, Calder finds himself under suspicion for his murder, and it becomes abundantly clear that the quiet life Sophie and Calder crave is further from their reach than ever.

And when an ancient enemy returns to make his final move against Sophie, finally fulfilling his mission, she’ll be forced to rely on the tenuous alliances she’s made, as well as the Shadow magic she detests and distrusts, to save everything that matters to her.

A story of eternal love, forgiveness, and strength, Light’s Shadow is the final book in the Copper Falls paranormal romance trilogy.

The Review

I love the cover – it’s nice to see a more…buxom…woman gracing our fantasy stories (and not just your fantasies, Steve). I also really like Sophie. She’s a realistic blend of soft and strong.

Don’t get me wrong, I like my no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners, wise-cracking, my-weaknesses-are-secret, kick-ass heroines as much as the next person, but Sophie has human weaknesses, and that makes her more realistic. (As realistic as a witch who can throw you out of windows with her brain can be, anyway.)

Her relationship with Calder builds along fits and starts of misunderstandings, deliberate (but necessary) heart-breaking deception, and temper tantrums. I get this. This (except for not being able to break trees with my mind) (and the deliberate but necessary heartbreak) is me (down to the fantastic tatas).

The story winds along at a very good pace, speeding along and then slowing down to let you catch your breath. Although I figured we were in a HEA situation (regardless of body count), there was nothing predictable about the path we took to get there.

There were some scenes that made me gasp out loud and shake my fist in a vaguely threatening manner. Things that pierced me to my soul. People had to make hard decisions and my heart broke more for those decisions than they did for Calder in the second book.

The Quotes

“I’ve never been insulted by someone quoting Emily Dickinson before. That’s new,” Sophie said, looking up at the gray clouds above.

“I try to bring a little class to my insults. Sometimes, anyway,” Esme said.

That delights me, because who doesn’t love an educated, snarky witch? (According to Giles, Emily Dickinson is a pretty good poet…for an American.)

She wasn’t perfect. He knew that. She could be cold and standoffish. She could say things sometimes, not realizing how much they hurt. And she had a bad habit of closing herself off from everyone exactly at those moments in which she needed them most.

To be honest, she sounds pretty damn perfect – at least according to that description. (Or does she sound like me? Out of my head, Vanderlinden!)

The Verdict

This book is a fantastic end to a fun and interesting trilogy, and you should go out and get it immediately. It’s on Amazon (and Kindle Unlimited), and I don’t think you’ll regret a thing. Solid 4.5 stars.

Book Review: The Beast of London

A few weeks ago, I got an email from the author asking if I wanted an advanced copy to read and review. Along with the email, I got the cover and the blurb.

The blurb sounded interesting, but I am not going to lie to you, faithful readers. It was the cover that convinced me. I mean, look at this gorgeous thing!

The Cover

Right? RIGHT?

That is amazing. Also intriguing? The blurb. I love me some Bram Stoker, and I think we all know how I feel about vampires. A retelling of the Dracula story from Mina’s point of view? There was absolutely no way I was turning that down.

The Blurb

Mina Murray once lived an adventurous life, but after a tragedy in the forests of Transylvania, she left it all behind. Now she has settled into a quiet routine as a schoolteacher in London, engaged to the respectable solicitor Jonathan Harker, attempting to fit into the stuffy upper class London society to which he belongs.

Her dark past comes careening into her present when Jonathan is abducted by a group of vampires from a society ball. Determined to rescue him, she teams up with her former paramour Abraham Van Helsing and his colleague, Scotland Yard Inspector John Seward.

As they pursue Jonathan’s abductors from England to the Low Countries and beyond, Mina realizes that Jonathan’s abduction is tied to a larger threat against humanity…

The Review

I had a hard time getting into it in the beginning. The language seemed stilted and didn’t flow very well. It wasn’t until I was about 30% of the way through this (60K word) book that I felt like it came into its own.

The backbone of the story is interesting, but the characters didn’t seem very well-developed. It was hard to believe that Jonathan Harker was lovable enough to endure his mother and to mount a full-fledged rescue attempt in the face of almost impossible odds.

However, the world-building was very well done, and by the end, I was buying the forbidden chemistry between Mina and Abe (Van Helsing). There were some fun twists and turns regarding a mysterious stranger and some events that had me wanting to do a little historical research (which is, for me, the hallmark of a good book–I care enough to dig deeper).

The ending felt abrupt. I think the book could’ve easily continued on for another 10-20K words (and I would’ve liked more exposition and time spent with the main characters).

I’m hoping we see more of the intriguing Clara in the next book (which I will definitely be picking up) and learn more about Gabriel’s back story.

The Verdict

A good debut! I’m looking forward to the author’s voice really coming into its own as she moves forward with future works. I’ll definitely be waiting for the second one to come out and give this a solid 3.5 stars.

The Disclaimer

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The day is getting right away from me…

This weekend was so busy and my week isn’t looking any less so!

Thursday evening, I did my best to take myself out. (Part of that included literally taking myself out.) I cut my right pinky on a pair of tongs while making dinner for the Beer Guy. Later, I broke a wine glass, and in an attempt to pick up the pieces, stabbed my right thumb with the broken stem of said glass. Later, after being bored to pieces, I talked the Beer Guy into taking me to karaoke. This was not my best decision to date. And then I fell down and sprained the shit out of my ankle, because that’s how I roll.

The "Most Interesting Man in the World" says, "I don't always roll a joint, but when I do, it's my ankle."

I went to the Rose City Romance Writer’s Spring Fling on Friday evening and most of the day Saturday. I’d headed over to meet up with some writers for a pre-conference happy hour, but I couldn’t find them (and didn’t look too hard, people are scary, yo!), but I did spend a very productive hour filling in my new planner, having a beer, and making plans.

A beer, a planner, and a week's worth of plans

The morning session on Saturday (on marketing) was fabulous, I met some great people, and handed out my new cards to just about everyone. I’ve gotten to the point where I can say I’m an author, talk about my book, and encourage people to look into it. I’ve really grown a lot in the last year! I also spent more money on books in two days than in the last few months. Autographed romance novels are a deductible expense, right?

Romance novels by Farrah Rochon and Cecilia Tan

Saturday evening, I had dinner with a friend in town for the weekend. I’d met her at the RT convention last spring, so it’s not surprising that our conversation was about 75% book and writing related.

gin and tonic

There was also a G&T. My first of…more than one…that evening

The Beer Guy had a friend in town this weekend, too, so we hit up karaoke Saturday night (and talked even MOAR books…turns out we have a mutual appreciation for a lot of the same paranormal books and authors).

karaoke screen

I swear the Beer Guy is in that photo behind the inconveniently placed pole

Yesterday was a lot more chill, but I still managed to get a lot done in terms of The Waning Moon (details Wednesday!).

Today is all about errands, little business things (finances, marketing plans, freelance business planning), and wasting spending a great deal of time on a PowerPoint (complete with charts!) that I will be presenting to the Beer Guy tonight. Ideally, all conversations would have an agenda, copious notes, line charts, and trend lines. I have been informed that it’s a little weird, but have decided that I can embrace being a little weird if it enables me to get my point across.

Powerpoint Slide that says "Death by Powerpoint" in blood with a zombie

I swear, it’s not as bad as all this!

I’ll have a book review up tomorrow, some writing updates Wednesday, and my “Letter to Alvie: Five Years” post on Friday. (Thursday will be a surprise for us both!)

 

Book Review: Night in the Waking City (an Elemental World short story)

Elizabeth Hunter re-released her novella A Very Proper Monster yesterday. It  had previously been paired with a Grace Draven short (which you should read…), but now it’s out in the world alone and with a brand new cover.

Cover of A Very Proper Monster

I reviewed A Very Proper Monster when it came out before, but this edition has a new short story in it that gives us a new glimpse of Josie and Tom.

The short was genuinely fantastic. I enjoyed Tom and Josie the first time around, and this look at them, with bonus Tenzin and Ben, was just the best.

The Blurb

Tom and Josie travel to New York City to meet with allies and publishers, but a chance encounter sends Josie into a rage, leaving Tom to look for unexpected allies in the city that never sleeps. Can a young human and an ancient vampire find his ailing mate before Josie does something she’ll regret?

The Review

This story was both laugh out loud funny (honestly-I was laughing loudly enough sitting alone at the bar last night that people gave me side-eye) and sweetly (but not too sweetly) poignant. Not many authors have the chops to pull off heart-string tugging and funny bone whacking in the same short story.

Josie is a delight-she’s eccentric, passionate, and not quite like other vampires. Honestly, she’s what I want to be when I grow up and have enough money to be eccentric instead of merely odd.

I also want the ability to find offensive authors and have a “chat” with them about the abuses they’ve perpetrated on the English language.

(And I want to hang out with Tenzin and discuss romance novels.)

The Quotes (I couldn’t pick just one…this story is so quotable!)

 “He does write in a genre,” [Josie] said. “It’s a genre called ‘predictable sexist shite.’ Trust me, he’s hardly the first writer to publish in it.”

New York City skyline at night with quote

Typical. She gives a man perfectly valid writing feedback, and he threatens her.

And the best for last (and not something I worry about over muchly…ha!)

“Just tell me. Are you going to kill me?”
“I don’t know. Are you going to keep abusing adverbs?”

The Verdict

If you haven’t already read A Very Proper Monster, you’re going to want to do that immediately – and especially now that you get this fantastic short story with it. Run, don’t walk, to Amazon and download your copy today.

Writerly Wednesday: when I’m not writing fiction…

I’ve spent the last few days balancing my personal projects (writing some new things, editing some existing things, and trying to figure out how to coerce strangers to buy my things) with applying for freelance jobs.

I did a freelance editing job for a screenplay pitch last month for a former colleague who is co-writing a screenplay in Sweden, and have done several academic editing/proofreading jobs. If you want to pay someone to edit your papers for content and formatting, I’m your person. I’m familiar with MLA, APA, AMA, and Chicago Manual of Style.

My rates are reasonable, my skills are first rate, and my turnaround time is (almost) whatever you need it to be.

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I’m hard at work on Raj’s novella and should have that wrapped up in a couple of weeks. Chapters for that will continue to go out in the monthly newsletter, so if you haven’t already, sign up now!

Oh, Raj…

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I have openings for book reviews over the next couple months, but they’re filling quickly. Hit me up if you want me to review your book!

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My current writing process is all over the place. Between prepping The Cardinal Gate for publication and then moving directly into cramming The Waning Moon’s editing into a very short period of time, I feel like I’ve been pretty consistently busy for the last two months. I’ve been doing a little less work this week than the last, but am ready to kick it up a notch or three again starting next week.

BAM! says tiny Emeril

What that means for me is that I hole up in the office (currently I’m writing on the couch, surrounded by cats) sans phone and turn off the wifi on my computer. I work in 25 minute bursts (with five-minute breaks). No email, no Facebook, no silly phone procrastination games except during breaks.

Clowns to the left of me

Jokers to the right…

 

This week, though? All about marketing, education, recharging, resting, and looking for money. (You’d think with all Portland’s rainbows, I’d be able to find at least one pot of gold.)