Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lily's Review of 'Scars', by Cheryl Rainfield



My Rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it (my current rating) it was amazing  

Kendra must face her past and stop hurting herself—before it's too late....
 
An edgy, realistic, and hopeful novel about a teen survivor of sexual abuse who uses self-harm to cope.
Kendra, fifteen, hasn't felt safe since she began to recall devastating memories of childhood sexual abuse, especially because she still can't remember the most important detail – her abuser's identity. Frightened, Kendra believes someone is always watching and following her, leaving menacing messages only she understands. If she lets her guard down even for a minute, it could cost Kendra her life. To relieve the pressure, Kendra cuts; aside from her brilliantly expressive artwork, it's her only way of coping. Since her own mother is too self-absorbed to hear her cries for help, Kendra finds support in others instead: from her therapist and her art teacher, from Sandy, the close family friend who encourages her artwork, and from Meghan, the classmate who's becoming a friend and maybe more. But the truth about Kendra's abuse is just waiting to explode, with startling unforeseen consequences. SCARS is the unforgettable story of one girl's frightening path to the truth.


This is a truly gut wrenching novel that screams of actual author experience. I could not see an author writing so knowledgeably of this issue, and with such deep emotion based on research alone. And Cheryl Rainfield is not shy about stating that she is in fact a victim of abuse and self harm. 

It is really heart wrenching to read a novel like this, because it happens to innocent women/girls more than any of us want to imagine.  I could not relate to our main character's severe emotional instability because, thankfully, I have never had to deal with a situation like this, but as a woman, my heart went out to her and I understood her emotions. 

The author wrote this beautifully, though the issue in this story is anything but beautiful. But her writing skills were superb and she delivered a very interesting and emotional story, rich with well developed and believable characters and plot.
Our character grows stronger and more confident as she chooses to face this terrible series of events which occurred so early in her life. She discovers herself and her strength through the help of therapy and positive influences in the people around her. She faced her nightmare, walked away scarred, but a much stronger person, hopeful and optimistic about her future - a true survivor and fighter.           

A fast read that really explored a lot of the reasons and emotions behind these self harm behaviors and the realities around it.  This novel was undeniably gripping and interesting, and suitable for Young Adults and older. I would definitely recommend this novel, and I look forward to reading more works by this author.





 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Erin's Review of The Professionals, by Owen Laukkanen


My Rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it it was amazing (my current rating)  

Four friends, recent college graduates, caught in a terrible job market, joke about turning to kidnapping to survive. And then, suddenly, it's no joke. For two years, the strategy they devise-quick, efficient, low risk-works like a charm. Until they kidnap the wrong man.

Now two groups they've very much wanted to avoid are after them-the law, in the form of veteran state investigator Kirk Stevens and hotshot young FBI agent Carla Windermere, and an organized-crime outfit looking for payback. As they all crisscross the country in deadly pursuit and a series of increasingly explosive confrontations, each of them is ultimately forced to recognize the truth: The true professionals, cop or criminal, are those who are willing to sacrifice everything.


Holy adrenaline batman! 

Owen Laukkanen’s first ever novel is one word - incredible.  A 5 star for sure!  I couldn’t put it down.  Action packed from beginning to end.  It was a knock out for sure and I can totally see a hit blockbuster coming from this one!

Once again I say that I LOVE a book that has well built characters, drama and lots of unpredictable twists and turns.  This book supplied all of this in EPIC PROPORTION!  In fact, as soon as I finished reading this I just had to pass it on to a work colleague who also enjoys reading, and she is also flying through this at rocket speed!

A mystery, thriller, and even has a romance aspect to it.  Brought through a lot of emotion from being at the edge of my seat biting my nails to feeling sad and shedding a few tears…this is a serious must read!



I certainly will be on the lookout for more of Laukkanen’s novels…and I hope he plans on writing again very soon!



Monday, May 28, 2012

Lily's Review of Alice in Deadland, by Mainak Dhar


My Rating:

Civilization as we know it ended more than fifteen years ago, leaving as it's legacy barren wastelands called the Deadland and a new terror for the humans who survived — hordes of undead Biters.

Fifteen year-old Alice has spent her entire life in the Deadland, her education consisting of how best to use guns and knives in the ongoing war for survival against the Biters. One day, Alice spots a Biter disappearing into a hole in the ground and follows it, in search of fabled underground Biter bases.

What Alice discovers there propels her into an action-packed adventure that changes her life and that of all humans in the Deadland forever. An adventure where she learns the terrible conspiracy behind the ruin of humanity, the truth behind the origin of the Biters, and the prophecy the mysterious Biter Queen believes Alice is destined to fulfill.

A prophecy based on the charred remains of the last book in the Deadland — a book called Alice in Wonderland.


Well, folks. Zombie month has been A LOT of fun. And we come to the final zombie review of the month. Unfortunately, I didn't save the best for last... 

This cover is stunning. Jumped right out at me on Amazon. And so I nabbed it. Seeing that I am a Zombie genre lover, I figured... Can't go wrong... 

Well... not necessarily.

This is not the first time that I have exposed myself to an 'Alice in Wonderland' spin off. The first time I picked up such a venture, it was a completely different type of media. 


 

Thatttt's Riiighhhtt!!! A killer Alice video game from EA Games. Pretty cool actually.  Here is one of my favorite artist pics of Alice in this depiction of the story.



LOVE IT! Lots of dicing and slicing in this game, and a lot of fun!

K so the Alice in this novel kinda reminded me of the Alice from the video game. But there is one huge difference between the video game in question, and this novel...

The video game had better character development.

The writing in this novel was good, but there was really no character building at all. 

Result - I cared more about video game Alice than our Alice in Deadland. I barely knew who she was!! She has a mother and a father, is a great fighter, soldier and sharp shooter but other than that? ...... zero, zip, nada.

The spin on the zombies having some sort of thought process, and the hybrid queen was pretty cool, but not very original. Very reminiscent of "I Am Legend"; it's been done before. But I did appreciate the Queen spin, and her character had a lot of potential, but just like the other characters in this novel, she really wasn't explored enough as a character.

This was a high action novel from beginning to end that would do much better as a screenplay for a movie picture, rather than a novel. 

I sometimes go to action movies that have little or a really lame plot. And I am not really looking for a plot or care for one. I just want to see the awesome shooting, explosions and special effects. THAT does not work well with a novel however. If there is no one to really care about, I am still losing interest in the plot, regardless of how many shooting scenes, fighting, orRPG explosions you manage to fit in there. Because honestly, my mind does not conjure up the special effects like Hollywood studios can. It's just too lazy.

I even picked out Alice for the movie!



You can even keep her in the same outfit if you want. It will work just as well for this movie too!!

As a book though... Ugh...

What can I say... 

 I finished it. I even paid close attention to what was going on. But this one was definitely a disappointment for me. I wouldn't deter readers from picking this up and giving it a chance, but I won't be proclaiming its glory either. And don't really think I will be picking up the next installment of this series.


And this one is a lonely 2 out of 5 zombies for me....






Friday, May 25, 2012

Author Spotlight - Teresa Gabelman





Author Bio!


Teresa Gabelman is a working mother of a 17-year-old son, wife to her high school sweetie and peacemaker of her two mischievous mutts. She is a fan of mixed martial arts, is a third degree black belt in Taekwondo and watches way too much reality TV. Books that are fast reads filled with romance, humor, butt kicking men and women who can keep up with them are her favorite. Always having a story banging around in her head demanding to be told, she hopes to take you from your reality if only for an hour or two. 'Damon' is her first novel.



1. Did you always know you want to be an author?  If not at what age did you realize that was your calling?
  
It’s kind of hard to say really because even when I was little I had such an overactive imagination that I would daydream stuff constantly. I had to have a lot of surgeries as a child and spent so much time in hospitals that I guess I was writing stories in my head, but eighteen years ago is when I actually wrote my first book. ‘Answered Dreams’ was a western love story set in the 1800’s that is still sitting in my closet waiting to be retyped.

2. What is your all time favourite book? 
  
I would have to say ‘Forever’ by Judy Bloom.  I was never a big reader until a friend of mine in middle school told me that I had to read this book. I fell in love with reading after the first chapter. I still have my first copy and read it at least once a year if not more. It’s what started my addiction for books, which led me writing down the voices in my head.

3. What was your inspiration for Damon and the Protector Series?
  
I love vampires. I remember when I was a little girl my brother, who is eleven years older than me, loved the old monster movies. The first time I saw a vampire movie I slept with the covers wrapped around my neck for what seemed like forever. I started reading Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter books and fell in love with vampires all over again. I wanted to do something a little different by bringing the vampires out in the open to converse with humans. I always wondered what would it be like if there really were vampires so I started writing Damon.
  
4. If you were asked to cast Damon into a movie version of your book, who would you choose?
  
Chris Hemsworth who played Thor…..that’s a fine piece of man right there.


5. We've read the first book, we know there is a second one coming soon (which we can't wait to read!!!) Can you tell us more about Book 2, what characters it is introducing or expanding on? 

Okay here’s the thing about book 2. I was so excited about doing Jared’s book while finishing Damon’s book, but when I got to it and started I absolutely hated it. I sent it to my friend, who is so brutally honest it hurts,  and she hated it. I was actually happy about that because it meant I was on track with my feelings. So I started again and I hated it again, went through the same process and now finally it’s flowing and brutally honest friend is loving it. I had a hard time with Tessa at first. So many people loved Nicole’s character that Tessa kept falling flat to me. She is totally different than Nicole, but in a good way that I think will make readers happy. Everybody wanted Jared and Pam to get together, but I felt they were too much alike. I have big plans for Pam, don’t worry. She is a hoot. All the other characters from Damon will be making an appearance in the second, yes even Chad, along with the new characters Tessa, Adam and the evil Ricky Sparrow. I don’t want to say much about the second one yet, except Jared has been ordered to obtain a new job so out of his character it’s hilarious, Chad may or may not get his painful due by Damon and there is going to be one hell of an ending that has never changed even though the first part has many times and it involves everybody. Man I can’t wait to write that. Getting close!
  
6. Do you have plans to continue the series after the second installment?
  
Yes, Duncan is going to be the third. I know that one is going to surprise most, but I have serious plans for that vamp.
  
7. Do you have any quirks or habits while writing?
  
This is too funny. I have a bad habit when I get so deep into my stories I have actually called my husband by the wrong name. Thank God he’s understanding. So yeah he was Damon, by name, a few times and Sid once. He hasn’t been Jared yet, but I see that one coming soon. He kinda stopped talking to me when he sees me on my little laptop. Oh and I always have music going, usually soft rock unless it’s a fight scene then it’s AC/DC or Metallica. Can’t have my dudes fighting to soft rock.
  
8. What distracts you from your writing time?


My full time job. HA! If my boss is reading this, I’m just kidding Marlene. I absolutely love my full time job. Seriously, I think I distract myself too much if that makes any sense. I put too much pressure on me and it totally distracts me from just letting go. The first book was easy, the second book has been a lot harder, but it’s coming along great now….finally.
  
9. Do you read your reviews?  Do you take them into consideration when writing?   

Yes, I definitely read my reviews and take every single one in consideration when I write. Okay this might be a little long winded, but I do feel strongly about this. I write what I like, but if I don’t take into consideration what the readers think or want, then I’m not a very good author. Bottom line is if I don’t have readers I’m not an author in my mind. I have learned more from reviews than I could have ever learned without them. I’ve had reviews that make me laugh. I’ve had some reviews that were a little negative, but I could see their point. I’ve had reviews that really made me think. When I write I know what I want to say because it’s in my head, but sometimes what I write doesn’t always click with readers. If something turns off not one but two readers such as a belly button scene, the chances are it’s going to totally turn off others. ;)  I need to know that stuff and to me that is why reviews are so important. Now if I get a review that says I hate you, your book and you suck, but doesn’t explain why they hate me, my book and why I suck then I’ll have to let that one pass because it’s useless in helping me. Thank goodness that kind of review hasn’t come up that I’ve seen, but if it does I hope they explain it. If they don’t then it’s all good and I’ll move on to the next review that will help.
  
10. How would you summarize your experience as a debut writer so far?  Has it been what you expected, or have you had some surprises along the way?
  
Awesome!!! It has been a dream for so long and to finally have it happening is so exciting. I went in with low expectations because I know how hard and competitive it is, but it’s all good. I have met some really good peeps who want nothing more than to help you. It has been truly amazing. I guess the most surprising is how much readers want to like your book and if it doesn’t hit their expectations they let you know, but in a positive way. At least that has been my experience so far and I’m very thankful for it.

11. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 

My advice is to just go for it. Have friends who are not afraid to hurt your feelings read anything you write before submitting your writing. You want brutal honesty. Have tough skin so when you get a bad review you can take it as a stepping stone into making you a better writer. Listen to your readers. They are as important as the words you write. 



I want to thank everyone who has supported me and to all the readers out there. I especially want to thank Lily and Erin. I really appreciate this opportunity. Without great people like you guys Indie authors would have a harder road to travel. You guys ROCK!!!


Teresa, we want to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to provide us with an interview. As always, its a pleasure!

Purchase Links:




Amazon Paperback

Barnes & Noble Ebook

Smashwords Ebook



Visit Teresa's Website Here!

Visit Teresa on Goodreads Here!



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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lily's Review of "The Darkening Dream", by Andy Gavin

My Rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it (my current rating) it was amazing    
(3.5/5 actually towards the 4 star mark)


The Darkening Dream is the chilling new dark fantasy novel by Andy Gavin, creator of Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter.

Even as the modern world pushes the supernatural aside in favor of science and steel, the old ways remain. God, demon, monster, and sorcerer alike plot to regain what was theirs.

For a more detailed synopsis please click here.






 Vampires, and Demons, and Warlocks... OH MY!

This book pretty much has it all. And neither of them glitter, or fall in love with each other at first sight. This is definitely not one of those novels. This tale is dark, nightmarish, and not for the faint of heart.  Made of stuff to give you nightmares, if you have a normal disposition, cause you need a pretty strong stomach for this one. Thankfully I do, so I was nightmare free, but cannot guarantee the same for other readers brave enough to pick this one up.

Nothing like a vampire hanging a young teenager upside down, while slowly breaking and wrenching his limbs, and letting his blood seep into the soil of a tree, to reel me into a story (that was just the beginning!). Like I said... not for the faint of heart!

This novel introduces a lot of different players, and I would be lying if I said that I wasn't a little bit confused sometimes. Introduce in some scary Egyptian gods in the mix too, and you have a little more than you can chew. But the story is well built, the characters well developed enough, and if you are a fan of horror genre, you are definitely interested throughout.

This was very fast paced, with a lot of action from beginning to end.  Very unpredictable twist at the end that I am still conflicted about. There better be a continuation! It can't just be left like that!!!  Needless to say, I will be in line to read it, and very open to pick up any other future novels by Andy Gavin.   

And I must mention.... stunning cover! 

 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Erin's Review of Damon (The Protector Series #1), by Teresa Gabelman



My rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it (my current rating) it was amazing

Damon DeMasters is a vampire warrior who has taken an oath to protect his own kind as well as humans. As a social worker, Nicole Callahan fights for the right of every child placed in her care. Damon has been ordered to train Nicole and her colleagues against the dangers they now face. Even as sparks fly, Nicole and Damon depend on each other to protect the children of both races.


This book was HOT HOT HOT! 

A nice easy read, didn’t require any thinking, which was nice for a change. When I first picked up the book I thought it was going to be an adult Twlight, but I was very wrong. This blew Twilight completely out of the ball park!

The story was well developed, as were the characters. It was a quick read...one that I didnt want to put down for a second. The sex scenes were very hot! Damon has now become my newest literary crush. There’s just something about a guy who is smoking hot, and super protective. 

It really says something when the only thing that bothered me about this book was that Damon thought it was necessary to thrust his tongue in and out of Nicole’s belly button….GROSS! I don’t know about any of you, but if a man ever came near my belly button with his tongue it would be the last place he ever stuck his tongue again. 





I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the concept of Twilight, but was looking for more adult interactions. 



Teresa Gabelman, this is a fantastic novel, and I cannot wait to read the next in 'The Protector Series'!


** Stay tuned for our Author Spotlight this week on the very awesome Teresa Gabelman. Please join us for a Q & A as we discuss Damon, and her upcoming novels! **

Lily's review of Damon (The Protector Series #1), by Teresa Gabelman

My Rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it (my current rating) really liked it it was amazing       


Damon DeMasters is a vampire warrior who has taken an oath to protect his own kind as well as humans. As a social worker, Nicole Callahan fights for the right of every child placed in her care. Damon has been ordered to train Nicole and her colleagues against the dangers they now face. Even as sparks fly, Nicole and Damon depend on each other to protect the children of both races.






Originally posted on Goodreads.com:

Did this book change my life?

No

Did it make me think deeply?

Definitely No

Don’t think the author intended this to be a book to do either of those things. This is what this book was:

• HOT
• SEXY
• ACTION PACKED
• Attention grabbing right from beginning to end

A couple of things that bothered me –

• You (the author) are henceforth prohibited from using the word ‘shitkicker’ multiple times in your next book. I love the word Shitkicker. I know YOU love the word Shitkicker. But heck, you see it too often, in too close proximity to the last time you saw it, and you start to roll your eyes at the word. Even if you love it. Maybe use it twice in the next one… cause it is an awesome word.

• The belly button scene! I know that it was maybe 0.9 seconds of scene time but - BAHHHHHH that was icky!I But you made up for it in the hot scene afterwards and it took away the sting of that EWW moment. So it ALMOST didn’t bother me
.
• That’s it. That is all that bothered me. YAY!

There was a moment in the beginning where I thought… oh no… an adult Twilight. When Damon realized that he could not read Nicole’s thoughts, whereas he can with everyone else… BUT I was relieved. I didn’t feel that way after that moment.

It was a total mind escape. Enough character and plot development to keep you invested from beginning to end. High action right from the get go, as evident by how quickly I got through this book. It takes a hold of you and doesn’t let go. It was a good, delicious ride. And the next time I am in the mood for such a book, I know exactly what to pick up. That would be The Protector Series BOOK 2! Can’t wait.

** Stay tuned for our Author Spotlight this week on the very awesome Teresa Gabelman. Please join us for a Q & A as we discuss Damon, and her upcoming novels! **

Monday, May 21, 2012

Lily's Review of What Our Eyes Have Witnessed, by Stant Litore

My Rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it it was amazing (my current rating)

Father Polycarp has a Gift. He can bring peace and rest to the restless dead.

At his touch, each hungering corpse lies still at last. But to do this, he must first look into each one's blind eyes and find the remnant of the soul caught within the shambling corpse. He must witness each one's secrets, each one's suffering -- all that each had loved and feared and regretted in their brief lives. Only then can he absolve them and set them free. Only then will they cease to walk and feed.

But Polycarp may be burned for it.




After reading the first book of this series by Stant Litore which I reviewed earlier here: Death Has Come Up Into Our Windows  I started thinking... maybe I need to revise our rating system? Because 5 stars is our highest rating, and this book is a 5 star plus.  

I very enthusiastically picked up this second installment already expecting great things. And once again, Mr. Litore failed to disappoint.  His writing is superb. His imagery is engaging. Once again, I was punched in the gut, but most definitely in the soul, with the depth of his story telling. 

Whereas in the first book I relished in the zombie deliciousness of gory images and death, and faintly attuning into the surprisingly profound story of its main character, I was fully prepared for it in this book.  Yet, even so, this book took me by surprise, and stunned me with its incredible underlying plot line of such well developed characters whose faith was tested, again and again, and stood strong before the utter hopelessness of their situation. 

Set in Roman times in this installment, we follow different characters now. One man who struggles with his love for Rome, and his idea of honor while he faces the horrors that surround him and threaten to break him. Another man who has been entrusted by God with an amazing gift, and persecuted for it, even though it can prove to be Rome's salvation. A woman who yearns for stature, and betrays those that took her in for a richer piece of clothing. Another, who was a slave and treated worse than a mangy dog, who found love and a sense of self whose unwavering faith makes her stronger than the strongest Roman.  All intricately woven into a fantastic story that keeps you on the very edge of your seat.

One paragraph in this book hit me deeply. Made me think differently of what I was reading. I have a hate and love relationship with Zombies. I cheer for their demise, the dirty rotting walking fiends, may they die a thousand pulverizing incredible deaths!! But this paragraph changed my perspective forever.

" It is a fearful thing, yet something each of us yearns for - to be naked before God or before another human being.  To be intimate and loved for who we truly are.  And if this is so with you who live, it is so, too, with the dead.  Think of how burdened your hearts are.  Those who die so burdened yearn and hunger even in death.  Desiring intimacy, they rise and devour, for consuming another is the only way they know to take another into themselves.  But I think there is one very great difference between the dead and the living.  If I were to touch one of the dead and gaze into its eyes, it would be far readier than any of you to lay down its burdens and rest. "

How amazingly profound, that paragraph. Each rotting corpse was once a person too, with dreams and hopes... and now all they can do is shamble about in horrible hunger. 

Sigh... Thanks Stant. Now I feel that unwelcome feeling of sympathy.  Now you have made me think profoundly and with sadness about those poor souls... 

 

.......



K enough of that! Time to read some "Walking Dead" graphic novels! 




But in case you guys didn't get the memo, you seriously need to check out the Zombie Bible by this amazing author. 

So listen up people!!! 






I will personally gift one very lucky reader with BOTH installments of this series.  Check out this contest, and enter for the chance to win a Kindle copy of both novels!  Good luck! You won't regret winning this one!




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