Tag Archive | series

Hear ye! Hear ye! A major announcement…

1_herold

Conquest of a Queen, the very first book of my Courtships of Quendaris series is published at last! It was a long and hard journey and I look forward to writing more adventures featuring Isabel, Nancy, Prince Alaric and the rest of the crew. The ebook is now available on Smashwords and is coming soon to a bookstore near you. In the meantime, you can buy it in print here.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I’m stepping away from the realm of Baelcrest for a bit but I’ll be back with more adventures soon. Stay tuned for news about my next book already in progress.

Book Review: The World Below by Mike Phillips

The following is a guest post by Mike Phillips who talks about the all important book cover. Keep reading for my review of Mr. Phillips’ new book, The World Below.

Why Book Covers Are So Important

         There’s this saying, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover,’ but let’s face it, it happens.  When searching for a book the first thing someone is going to notice is the cover.  The cover can then draw that person into reading the synopsis.  If the synopsis and the cover draw the reader in, they could possibly buy it or put it on their to-be-read list.

My own personal experience with a cover design came with Uniquely Unwelcome.  The first edition cover was a hand drawing of a girl looking up at an eagle.  While it was a nice drawing, it just wasn’t up to par with other Fantasy covers.  It became very apparent to me, especially after a few readers recommended that I change the cover, that a change was indeed needed.

Why did I decide to use a hand drawing?  Well it was kind of a dream of mine.  My husband is a great artist.  He’s also my support system.  Whenever I’m frustrated, stuck on an idea, or just at a complete loss, he’s there.  I wanted to pay some tribute to his support and so I thought I would have him do my first cover.  From there, I would go with the “traditional covers” but for my first publication I wanted to incorporate him in some way.

My lesson from that, sometimes we have to let go of the smaller dreams/goals to reach the bigger ones.  I felt guilty I guess you could say when I told him I thought it was best if we changed the cover.  Being a great supporter like he is, he agreed.  He was honored that I had tried and that I had even used his art to begin with.  So together we picked out the cover for Uniquely Unwelcome and then again with Blood Burdens.

So yes, books are judged by their covers.  I’m not saying that every person does this, but most probably do.  I’m happy with the new cover for Uniquely Unwelcome and have a paperback edition of both the first edition with my husband’s cover design and the newer edition so I at least have a small token of my little dream.

Horror/Urban Fantasy
Date Published: 4/1/2013

In ancient times, magical creatures inhabited the earth. They lived on mountaintops, in trees, at  the bottom of lakes and rivers. But that was long ago, before the human race declared war on the creatures they feared and hated. Now the enchanted peoples are all but gone. Those few that remain fear being stretched out on an examination table in some secret, governmental facility.

The only place they can hide from the ever increasing number of satellites and smart phones is in the World Below.  Mitch Hardy is going through a hard time in his life. In his early twenties, he was working his way through college when he suffered an accident that left him flat broke and physically deformed. When Mitch decides to make a fresh start in a new town, things start looking up. He finds a place to live, a decent job, good friends. He even meets a nice girl. Unknown to Mitch, his new girlfriend is one of the Elder Race, what some call the Faerie Folk. Mitch doesn’t know that Elizabeth is looking for a father she never knew. The key to finding him is somehow tied up with the mysterious Blade of Caro. Desperate, she steals the Blade from its protector, the despotic ruler of the World Below, the Dragon of Worms, Baron Finkbeiner. When Elizabeth is kidnapped by the Baron, Mitch is pulled into a world or magic and monsters he never imagined.

 REVIEW

 This was a very riveting book. I really got to feel for Mitch and started rooting for him early on. He’s a hero in every sense of the word, his instincts kicking in any time a friend, stranger or animal is in trouble without giving any thought to his own safety or wellbeing. Some may think Mitch is an idiot since his sense of self preservation appears to be broken but this actually endeared him to me. Hume is another character I grew to love almost immediately. He’s essentially a bad guy for going out to do the Goblin King’s bidding but as his sister is being held captive and it’s obvious the man doesn’t like what he has to do while at the same time trying figure out a way to rescue her from his enemy you start rooting for him too. All the characters are likable, with the exception of Elizabeth, who I found to be fairly manipulative and scheming personally, and I adored the story. It’s a nice blend of fantasy and reality and I can’t wait to start reading the rest of the series. If you’re a fan of Sci-fi/Fantasy stories like Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters series I think you’ll love The World Below.

*This review is part of Reading Addiction Blog Tours who supplied me with a free copy and is unbiased, unsolicited and unpaid.
Virtual Book Tour – May 6 – June 2
 
May 6 – Reading Addiction Blog Tours – Meet and Greet
May 7 – Logikal Blog – Guest Post/PROMO
May 9 – Kindle Obsessed – Guest Post/PROMO
May 10 – Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews – Interview/PROMO
May 12 – Bunny’s Reviews – Interview/PROMO
May 14 –My Reading Addiction – Review
May 16 – Texas Book Nook – Review
May 18- Playing Jokers – Review/Guest Post
May 20 – Bea’s Book Nook – Guest Post/PROMO
May 21 – Author Ever Leigh – PROMO
May 22 – Bibliophilia, Please – PROMO
May 24 – Must Read Faster– Guest Post/PROMO
May 26 –Mythical Books – Guest Post/PROMO
May 27 – Books and Needlepoint – Interview/PROMO
May 28 – My Cozie Corner– Review
May 30 – Faerie Tale Books – Review/Guest Post
May 31 – Noemi Betancourt- Review/Guest Post
June 2 – RABT Reviews – Review

Mike Phillips is author of The World Below and Reign of the Nightmare Prince. His short stories have appeared in ParAbnormal Digest, Cemetery Moon, Sinister Tales, Beyond Centauri, the World of Myth, Mystic Signals and many others. Online, his work has appeared in Lorelei Signal, Kzine, Bewildering Stories, Midnight Times, and Fringe. He is best known for his Crow Witch and Patrick Donegal series.

 mikephillipsfantasy.com

Excerpt

Magic sigils were hidden all over the city, but along the Riverwalk powers of earth and water converged. Magic here was strange and unpredictable, but always strong. A star was carved on the nearest of the old cottonwoods. It was ancient magic, made perhaps by the native tribes who once inhabited this place.

Hume could not guess what its purpose was. For all he knew, it would take him away to some desperate corner of the underworld to be forever enslaved. He did nothing to protect himself. He had to let events run their course.

Finding Lady Elizabeth proved impossible. If this stranger had information, then he would surrender himself to free his sister.

A breath of chill air interrupted his thoughts. He shivered.

It was his humanity giving him warning. People who didn’t know any better would attach some old wives’ tale to the feeling, but he was not so blinded by the mundane. No one tread on his future grave. Evil approached.

In the world outside the reach of the cottonwood, the sun escaped below the horizon. Night had come.

Darkness coalesced; growing deeper in this haven below the trees, gathering until the river and the bay and everything beyond the sphere of darkness was lost. A black bird flew to a nearby piling. The crow was mangy and looked only moments from death by old age. It ruffled its ancient feathers and stared at Hume, penetrating his mind.

Unafraid, he stared back, filling his thoughts with a variety of deaths the crow might suffer at his hand. The bird cawed angrily, its harsh voice a show of defiance.

“Let’s get on with it,” he said. “Sunset was an hour ago.”

“Nightfall is now,” snapped the bird.

“Point taken. My mistake.”

The crow’s voice was as harsh as its call. “Patience Hume, your eagerness does you no credit. A lesser being than I might take it as a sign of weakness, but no advantage will I press. I know what it is to have a loved one in danger.”

“Oh? So, is that why you are here? How nice.”

“Yes, I wish to help you, and I have other reasons.”

“What are they?”

“Patience, Hume. Patience” The crow laughed. “We’ll get to that later.”

“Lovely.”

Another crow flew to the piling. Soon the place within the dark was full of crows. They raced to the piling, circling Hume like a cyclone. He stood still, and though the impossibility of safety seemed assured, he wasn’t touch.

The birds fused together, forming something in the shape of a man. The man was covered in black feathers. He had a crow’s head with a sharp beak and beady eyes. A mantle of greater feathers ringed his neck.

“That’s a little much,” Hume said. “Who are you trying to impress?”

“I must admit I’ve always had the knack for the dramatic. As a show of trust I appear to you as my true self.”

“Does that make you a murder or a man?”

“Ha, ha, quite clever,” said the crow man. “I shall have to remember that one. Yes, quite clever indeed.”

LINKS TO BUY

Amazon Link

Barnes & Noble Link

Damnation Books Link

Book Review: Katherine Irons’ Atlantis trilogy

Today I’ll be reviewing Katherine Irons’ three books focused on the Atlanteans. These are fantasy romance stories centered on the crown prince and his brothers but also gives some insight into the life and enemies of the people of Atlantis.

Seaborne

Claire Bishop was a wealthy athletic and beautiful young woman whose life was changed forever when a drunken boater crashed into her and her friends. She has spent the last two years wheelchair bound and wallowing in serious pain and self pity and has managed to escape her controlling father to Seaborne, the seaside Maine home her grandmother left her when she died. She meets Morgan, crown prince of Atlantis, on the beach one day and it’s love at first sight. Morgan is already in trouble with the High Council for violating one of the cardinal rules of the land, make no contact with humans. Having already gotten off for rescuing a drowning boy in a storm, it is absolutely vital that Morgan keep his strong attraction to Claire a secret. He knows he should avoid her at all costs but her pull is just too strong. On top of everything else Morgan and his brothers, Alexandros and Orion, also have to deal with one of their father’s concubines and mother to their half brother, Caddoc, both of which want to kill the immediate family and take their places as rulers of Atlantis.

This story starts out a bit slow but really picks up steam and you can’t help but fall in love with Morgan. Claire can be a bit annoying but when you figure everything she’d been through and having absolutely no support network, except for people who insist on treating the 29 year old like a child because of her injuries as well as a husband who screwed around on her and now wants her for her vast settlement from the accident, you can kind of begrudge her a little self pity and low self esteem. Thanks to her interactions with Morgan however, Claire develops the strength she needs to fight back when she’s hospitalized against her will and tells her greedy murderous ex-husband to take a hike. I especially love the villainous shades that the Atlanteans battle and how Irons incorporates the old mermaid stories and mythical elements to her world.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and dove (heh) straight into the others.

Oceanborne

Elena Carter is an underwater archeologist on a mission. With her father disgraced in the field, she aims to prove herself by excavating an ancient Phoenician ship sunk off the coast of Greece. Unfortunately for her, Melqart, Phoenician god of war and ruler of the shades, doesn’t take kindly to a bunch of humans crawling around a ship loaded with his tributes and so Orion finds himself constantly coming to the aid of the beautiful woman who rescued him.

Unfortunately, this book didn’t thrill me like the first one did and I had to struggle to finish it. There were just way too many things wrong for me to enjoy the story and it just went from bad to worst!

First of all, why would Poseidon not only forgive the son who was involved in a plot to kill him and take the throne but allow him to return to Atlantis to do still more damage? He also has a nasty habit of believing every accusation that flies out of the schmuck’s mouth despite the fact that he oh y’know TRIED TO HAVE HIM KILLED AND USURP HIS THRONE!

We’re treated to more displays of Halimeda’s wrath and pension for octopi as her being rescued by Melqart and being in league with him seems to consist of her throwing fits because her servants are undead monsters and her being unable to eat anything even though she doesn’t actually need to anymore. To me, the sorceress seems less like a powerful witch to be feared and more like a spoiled bitch who needs to lose some teeth.

Will you STOP SCREAMING?!

Then there’s Elena who aggravates the hell out of me. First of all, this chick is just out of college and yet her entire career rides on an excavation that’s being interrupted by weather all because her father was a nutjob who claimed to have discovered Atlantis but later couldn’t provide proof before he disappeared? Really? Also, she’s the ultimate damsel in distress whose only reaction to frightening things is to panic and run or scream, freeze and close her eyes waiting for imminent death or to be rescued. Frankly I can’t imagine how she managed to get this far in her career without being eaten by a shark! And don’t even get me started on that time traveling BS where things happened one way and then suddenly everything changed or changed back or whatever. This was the third time this book flew out of my hand. Yet for the sake of this review I persevered.

*sob* It’s just SO bad!!!

Another thing that bothered me was how friggin easy it was to kill Melqart! The insipid Elena, who seemed to grow more childlike and brainless as the story went on, stands there in the temple and actually LAUGHS and makes fun of the big scary hulking roaring beast that just finished bursting out of his own statue and pulls a maneuver straight out of Peter Pan which results in Melqart doing an impression of the Wicked Witch of the West!

Lookit me, NOT believing in Phoenician gods. You can go ahead and die now!

He dissolves into a steaming puddle of goo and turns to dust out of which appears “a warty toad.” Seriously, these are the words a grown woman uses to describe the animal later on, and hops into a fiery chasm.

Finally, Orion isn’t nearly as interesting as his brother Morgan but then you kinda saw that in the first book. I’m actually looking more forward to picking up the next one as Alex always struck me as the most interesting of the three.

Waterborne

Ree O’Connor is a trained assassin with special abilities such as clairvoyance and setting things on fire. While targeting a rich Russian bastard who makes his money causing destruction both above and below the surface of the ocean, something goes wrong and she’s nearly killed. Luckily for her Prince Alexandros is onboard, also tasked with a mission to kill the rich Russian bastard and he takes her under the water and saves her.

Alex meanwhile is having serious issues clashing with the queen of the Lemorians who, in an attempt to sire a princess to sit on the throne after her, is banging Prince Caddoc like a screen door in a hurricane. Caddoc meanwhile is tired of his mother’s abuse so when the Lemorian queen declares their goddess needs a sacrifice he offers her up in his place to fling into an underwater volcano.

Alex also can’t understand why, despite his own aversion to humans that led him to lecture his brothers against taking human mates in the first two books, he can’t suppress the urge to plow Ree. There’s more trouble in store for poor Alex because while he’s fighting along side Ree to kill the rich Russian bastard, who apparently has a fleet of helicopters to rush him to safety at any given time, his brothers are playing hot potato with the crown.  It seems nobody wants to be Poseidon since daddy bought it in book 2.

Sadly, this series started out promising but just ended in colossal disappointment. The sex scenes actually become fairly dull especially in Waterborne and just happen way too often. In fact, you kind of get the feeling that even Irons starts getting bored with them because she stops giving details, which is a shame since there really isn’t much variation to the scenes she does describe in the whole series. I also don’t get why Irons insists on giving her heroines boyfriends when none of them actually become important characters. The only reason I could think of is the only way she could convey the sex appeal of her heroines is to saddle them with a boyfriend, fiance or husband which is pretty damn sad if it is true.

One thing I did take away from reading this series is writing style and plot devices NOT to use. I don’t mean this to be harsh or insulting, I’m actually serious. As I write my own series and books I will be keeping in mind not to have easily killable enemies, tedious sex scenes and secondary characters the plot could do without. I’m honestly hoping Katherine Irons’ writing improves with time because she’s incredibly imaginative and I do like her use of myths. I would actually prefer to read something that was an absolute train wreck from page one than descend into a spiral of dismay as I witness the demise of a promising storyline.

SEVEN DAYS!!!

Final_Crystal_Palace_1

She was no one’s pawn!

Groomed to be the perfect Southern belle, debutante and trophy wife her entire life, Nancy Harrington refuses to marry her intended, prophecy or no! Still, would being bound for all eternity to a gorgeous man so devoted to his people be such a sacrifice?

He has a duty to his kingdom and his people!

Always the kind ruler, loyal to the needs of his people, King Iskander always has the good of his kingdom in mind even if it that means taking a wife he doesn’t love in order to fulfill a prophecy. So when his future bride, a completely unsuitable firebrand, refuses to marry him why is he not relieved?

Deep within the dark depths of the earth an ancient enemy awakens from his slumber…

determined as ever to conquer the world and only an ancient and powerful magic can defeat him. Do Nancy and Iskander have what it takes to lead the Crystal Palace Alliance to victory, reveal a traitor, and bring peace to Otherealm once and for all?

Descendants of Quendaris 

Crystal Palace Chronicles: Book Two

 Available May 3, 2013