Saturday, April 19, 2014

Book Review: ASSASSIN'S SOUL by Beth Caudill

Caitlyn Sinclair hides her magical need for souls behind her job as an assassin in the Miscreants Guild—the home of spies, thieves and assassins. She is a SoulEater, a mage who uses the aural energy of other people to fuel her spells. She has no choice but to take those lives, because without the infusion of life-force she will die. She's made a home for herself in the city of Ellemarlene, until the day she executes her Guild Master and is cast out. Her only chance at survival is to join the Mage Guild and embrace her magical nature. To become a terrible weapon, someone with the power to wipeout entire towns.

Available for purchase:
Amazon


Book review by Melissa Snark:

Author Beth Caudill engages in excellent fantasy world-building in her novella, ASSASSIN'S SOUL. Her story features a rich medieval culture and an interesting variety of races and classes living in the city of Ellemarlene, which is ruled by a council of seven representing the seven guilds.  I periodically play RPGs and this story made me feel like I'd walked straight onto the set of a Dragon Age campaign.  (A good thing since Dragon Age is amazing.)

The writing is solid with good editing and the dialogue sounded natural. Some awkward wording in places that gave me pause–I don't like instances of "you" used in third person perspective. Also, I can't entirely sure the prologue was necessary as it is primarily back story. However, it did serve as a nice vehicle for introducing the primary characters and their relationship. Secondary characters were distinct and well developed. For some reason, I latched onto a relatively minor character, Nathan Deering, a Master Thief, hoping he'd become the primary romantic interest.

Caitlyn is a fun, hot-headed character. Female assassins aren't common and the fact that she retained a moral code about who she killed made it possible for the reader to remain sympathetic. She is also a psychic vampire, always an interesting concept who must feed periodically by taking a life. The author develops the concept in a unique way to make it compatible with her magical system.

The heroine's psychic vampirism serves as the basis of internal conflict and drives all of her choices. It is not a matter of choosing to kill or not, but rather determining who to kill so that she doesn't take an innocent life.  The politics of Ellemarlene provide the external conflict, starting with a corrupt guild leader and building toward an attempted coupé by another guild.

ASSASSIN'S SOUL is an exciting retelling of the heroic journey.  For fans of fantasy adventure with a romantic twist, this offering from Beth Caudill is sure to please.

AUTHOR BIO:  

Although Beth grew up in West Virginia, she currently resides in North Carolina with her husband and two sons. Blending the analytical and creative sides of her brain, she delights in creating fantasy worlds for others. Catch her online most days except when NCIS and Once Upon a Time air.

Blog 
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Friday, April 18, 2014

A Chat with Felicity Heaton || CLAIMED BY A DEMON KING (Eternal Mates Romance Series Book 2)



The moment the demon King Thorne of the Third Realm set eyes on the mortal huntress Sable, he knew she was his fated one. The fiery, dangerous female awakened hungers he had never experienced before, a dark craving and passion that has consumed him in their time apart. As the lunar cycle wanes, she enters his world again and nothing will stand in the way of him claiming his forever with her—not the relentless assault from the Fifth Realm or the dark elf male determined to seduce her out of his grasp.

Intent on achieving the coveted position of commander at Archangel, Sable leads her small team into the dark underworld and the Third Realm, to a war where her allies are the very creatures she normally hunts—vampires, werewolves, and demons. Her eagerness to lead the deadly mission has everything to do with winning her promotion, and nothing to do with the kingdom’s brash, lethally seductive demon king—a king who stirred fierce desire and wildfire heat in her with just a look and an innocent touch when they first met, and has been in her wicked dreams ever since.

As the gathering storm between rivals unleashes irresistible passion that flares white-hot and the heat of the battle brings life-shattering realisations, can Sable place her duty before her heart? Or will she surrender to her deepest desires and be claimed by a demon king?

Claimed by a Demon King is available from Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, Barnes and Noble Nook, Apple iBooks stores and other retailers. Also available in paperback. Find the links to your preferred retailer at: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/cbadk

Books in the Eternal Mates romance series:


Hi Felicity, please tell us about yourself and your writing.

I’m a British paranormal romance writer and I’ve been writing since 2005. I’ve written over forty-five books in my career as a writer, and around forty of those are still available. I love to write passionate paranormal romances, with high-octane action, intense emotion, and heroes who will make your toes curl!



At the moment, I have three series on the go and one I completed last year. The completed series is the Vampire Erotic Theatre series, with the delicious heroes of Vampirerotique, London’s premier naughty theatre for vampires. The ongoing series are the Her Angel series with my take on sexy passionate angels determined to protect their women from a terrible game between Heaven and Hell, and the Vampires Realm series, which is packed with twisting plots, vampires to die for, and is a huge world encompassing ten books at present, with the next due out in May. And also my new series Eternal Mates, which is set in the same world as the Vampire Erotic Theatre but it takes a look at the wider world outside the theatre, with all manner of fae and demon species, and plenty of hot-blooded alpha heroes determined to have their mates.

What inspired your current book?

Claimed by a Demon King is the second book in my Eternal Mates series. I was inspired to write the Eternal Mates series because I wanted to explore the world of the Vampire Erotic Theatre more and delve deeper into the lives of the other species I had mentioned and touched on in that series. I also wanted to bring elves into the world of paranormal romance and give a new spin on them, and also on the concept of fated mates. Each species in the series has a different way of knowing their mates and a different set of rules for courting them. I love being able to explore this huge world and bring in a multitude of paranormal species.



In Claimed by a Demon King, I had a demon hero, a hunter heroine, plus dark elves, vampires, werewolves, bear and dragon shifters, and witches too. It’s incredible fun writing the characters in this series too. Every single one of them has really captured my imagination and I’ve fallen hard for this world because of them.

Please tell us about your current work in progress.

I’m currently writing the first draft of Tempted by a Rogue Prince, which is the third book in the Eternal Mates series. I actually switched my entire writing and release schedule for the year around in order to write this one sooner, because readers really want the next book in this series, and I have been desperate to write this story since I first came up with the concept for the series. I absolutely adore the hero Vail, the mad elf prince. He’s dark, tormented, and broken, and I’ve wanted to put him together with his fated female since he first walked into my head, and straight into my heart. I’m loving writing his story so far too, but I have to be careful to maintain the balance between dark and light in this one.


Do you write with music going in the background? What are some of your favorite types/bands?

I do write to music, and often I have a playlist for each book I write, plus my general one for different moods/types of scenes… like action / fight scenes, and romantic or solemn ones. For those types of scenes, I tend to listen to classical music as I find it more inspiring and find it draws the right emotions out of me that I can then pour into the book to bring it to life.



When I’m not listening to classical music, I tend to lean towards the alternative rock side of music. I love bands like Three Days Grace, Lifehouse, Nickelback, Red, Seether, 7 Days Away, OneRepublic, Thirty Seconds to Mars, 3 Doors Down, Daughtry, The Fray, Green River Ordinance and many many more. I find these bands really speak to me and there’s always a song or two from them that really suits the book I’m writing.

What is your favorite book genre? Who are your favorite authors?

Paranormal romance by far. Not just to write but to read too. Why? Because the possibilities are endless in paranormal romance and if you set your mind to it, you can create something unique that stands out from the other books out there. You can make whole worlds of your own and pull readers into those worlds. Plus, I find the characters in paranormal romance are often more detailed, more real, and ones who will stay with you and make you care about them. I love to read what I love to write, and I always go for the sort of authors who write the same style of paranormal romance as I do.



I absolutely love Lara Adrian. I would love to meet her. She writes the most amazing books and I always have to get the signed copies when a new one comes out. I also love to read series by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Larissa Ione, and sometimes Christine Feehan and Lynsay Sands, and also Gena Showalter. I’m not enjoying Gena’s latest books very much though. My TBR pile is crazy, but I always have room for new books from these authors.

Do you have a favorite character from your books? Who is it and why?

I’ve already mentioned that I have a huge soft spot for Vail from the Eternal Mates series, but I also have an equally large soft spot for Esher, who readers will meet when the first Guardians of Hades book comes out later this year. I gravitate towards the broken heroes with difficult pasts. The more broken they are, the more I love them. Snow really captured my heart in the Vampire Erotic Theatre series, and so did Julian from Love Immortal, one of my standalone vampire romance books.

Who is the sexiest man/woman alive and why?

I may have to go with… Chris Hemsworth. I have a thing for him, and have done ever since the first Thor film. He’s handsome, tall, and comes across as a genuinely nice man with a good personality. He’s the whole package.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three modern conveniences would you take with you?

My tablet, a solar-powered generator, and a refrigerator.

Quick quiz:
Favorite food?   Anything sweet with cinnamon.
Favorite color?   Purple
Favorite animal?   Lemurs
Biggest pet peeve?   Conceited people
Dream car?  Audi R8

Claimed by a Demon King – Excerpt

Laura Drewry's PLAIN JAYNE || #Giveaway

Plain Jayne
By Laura Drewry
Publisher:  Loveswept Contemporary Romance
Publication Date:   April 8, 2014
ISBN:  978-0-8041-7773-3

In Laura Drewry’s funny, heartwarming Loveswept debut, a man and a woman learn the hard way that a little bit of love makes staying friends a whole lot harder.

Worn out from the long drive back home, Jayne Morgan can only smirk at the irony: Of course the first person she sees from her old life is Nick Scott. Once best friends, they lost touch when Jayne left town at eighteen, but nothing could keep them apart forever. Jayne has returned to take over her grandmother’s bookstore, determined to put all her bittersweet memories and secret disappointments strictly in the past—until, that is, Nick insists she bunk at his place.

Nick never did care what people thought about having a girl for a best friend—or the “scandal” she caused by showing up to his wife’s funeral four years earlier—so he’s got no problem with the gossips now. Jayne was always the one person he could count on in his life. Now Nick is starting to realize that he never wants her to leave again . . . and that being “just friends” isn’t going to be enough anymore.

Available 4/08/14:
B&N 
iTunes 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Laura Drewry had been scribbling things for years before she decided to seriously sit down and write. After spending eight years in the Canadian north, Laura now lives back home in southwestern British Columbia with her husband, three sons, a turtle named Sheldon, and an extremely energetic German Shepherd. She loves old tattered books, good movies, country music, and the New York Yankees.



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Excerpt from Chapter Two of PLAIN JAYNE by Laura Drewry:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter Eggs in Medieval Times? by Barbara Bettis || SILVERHAWK #Giveaway




FREE BOOK: BARBARA IS GIVING AWAY AN E-COPY OF HER BOOK FROM AMAZON TO ONE COMMENTER.

Here it is, nearly Easter, and you may be getting ready to boil some eggs to color with your children or grandchildren. If so, you’ll be joining in a tradition that goes back hundreds of years.

Surprised?

I was when I first learned about Easter eggs in medieval times. Never would it have occurred to me that more than a thousand years ago eggs were boiled, and even colored, to become a part of what was considered the most meaningful and solemn of Christian holidays.

In fact, eggs have been considered symbols of spring and of rebirth for thousands of years. Ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians and the Romans may have used eggs as symbols of new life and fertility, it is believed.

Even the name “Easter” is thought to have come from Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, according to 8th Century writer, the Venerable Bede. The month coinciding with our April was called “Eostremonat” or Eostre’s month. That name eventually could have been tied to the Christian holiday held in that month. Christian Easter then could have assimilated the earlier symbols.

Yet, how does an egg connect to the death and resurrection of Jesus? It is perceived as the tomb, from which Jesus arose—an empty shell, appearing dead, yet from which comes life. It is a symbol of new life, as mentioned earlier.

Those earliest Easter eggs were called Pace Eggs (or paschal eggs), because the Christian Easter period was first called Pasch, coming from the word Passover.

Lent, which includes forty days of fasting, prohibited consumption of meat and dairy products. Chickens didn’t stop laying during that period, so many eggs were boiled to preserve them. (In reality, I’m not sure how long those eggs lasted—have you ever kept a real hard-boiled egg for several days, especially unrefrigerated? They don’t smell too good. I can’t imagine what they were like after 40 days.)

Nevertheless once Easter arrived, depending upon the country, the eggs were given to guests and/or employed in a game in which the ends were tapped against others’ eggs to see which could last without breaking. In some parts of England, children rolled them down hills, seeing which eggs could reach the bottom with fewest cracks.

Some eggs were painted or dyed, red for the blood of Christ (in some countries); the colors of the local lord, complete with heraldic figures, in others. In some Eastern European countries, they were gilded gold and silver in elaborate patterns.

Less well-off folks could boil them in onion skins, often with string wrapped around to provide a design. Some people used beet juice to impart pink color or spinach water for green. Other means were employed for decorating, as well, such as using wax at succeeding stages of boiling in different colors to produce a multi-colored, marble-looking egg.

Today, eggs are such an ordinary food staple, we don’t consider them symbolic of anything. Yet to medieval folks, they represented new life—in the earth’s cycle of death and rebirth/renewal, in the new life represented by Christ’s death and resurrection. They were an essential part of the Easter celebration.

This year, when my grandchildren and I color eggs, I plan to share this story of the ancient Easter egg.

But I don’t think we’ll try the onion skin method of boiling.

If you’d like a recipe for the old-fashioned Pace Eggs, try this link: www.lavenderandlovage.com

Other sources include: Cosman, Madeleine Pelner. Medieval Holidays and Festivals, 1981.  Pearson Education publishing as Fact Monster;  Jordan, Anne. Christianity. (5 April 2000);   Harbaugh, H. The Guardian, Volume 29 (1878); www.medievalisterrant.wordpress.com;   www.medieval-life.net; and for quick references, Wikipedia. 


From my medieval SILVERHAWK:

He’s everything a proper lady should never want; she’s everything a bastard mercenary can never have.

Sir Giles has come to England to kill his father, who seduced and betrayed his mother. First, however, he’ll seek sweet revenge—kidnap the old lord’s new betrothed. But when Giles uncovers a plot against King Richard, he faces a dilemma: take the lady or track the traitors. What’s a good mercenary to do? Both, of course.

Lady Emelin has had enough. Abandoned in a convent by her brother, she finally has a chance for home and family. Yet now she’s been abducted. Her kidnapper may be the image of her dream knight, but she won’t allow him to spoil this betrothal. Her only solution: escape

Rescuing the intrepid lady—while hunting traitors—is a challenge Giles couldn’t anticipate.  But the greatest challenge to Giles and Emelin is the fire blazing between them. For he’s everything a proper lady should never want, and she’s everything a bastard mercenary can never have.

Short Excerpt:
In the Lady’s Garden, Lady Emelin knelt at a patch of straggly flowers. As Giles advanced, the bright moonlight cast his shoulders as a darker shadow on the ground ahead. By the rigid set of her back, he knew she heard him. He couldn’t explain what had prompted him to veer off course, to seek her out.
Now he stood in the midst of a dead garden, in the heart of Lincolnshire, unsure of his intent.
Emelin sat back on her heels with an exaggerated sigh. “Would you move your shoulders, Sir Knight? They block what meager light I’ve found.” If a tone could cross its arms and tap its toe, hers did. A lightness inside him felt shockingly like a smile.
That’s why he was here. She amused him.
“Where would you like me to move them, my lady?”
“London, I should think.”

Available for purchase:

Author Bio:
Award winning author Barbara Bettis has always loved history and English. As a college freshman, she briefly considered becoming an archeologist until she realized there likely would be bugs and snakes involved. And math.
She now lives in Missouri, where by day she’s a mild-mannered English teacher, and by night she’s an intrepid plotter of tales featuring heroines to die for—and heroes to live for.

Where to find Barbara Bettis on the Internet: