Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Walking House, Mini-Interview & Excerpt

I'm thrilled to continue with this mini series of mini interviews and excerpts of Gaslight & Grimm. This week we have Jeff Young with us.


M:  Welcome Jeff. It's wonderful to have you by the blog today.

M:  The title, The Walking House, caught my eye. This is a new story title for me. What fairy tale is it based on?

JY:  There are a number of stories based around the Russian character Baba Yaga and her rather peculiar dwelling – a hut that stood on chicken legs. She’s interesting because she typically known as evil person, literally a devourer of young women with her iron teeth. At the same time, she is also occasionally someone who is gone to for advice and help. So she’s a fascinating character, but let’s get back to that house. Interestingly enough the Sami People of Scandanavia built huts on top of tree stumps, which just happen to look like chicken feet. It’s a striking image and one that could certainly spark people’s imaginations to come up with a story to explain what they were seeing. Add to that a cautionary tale to keep your kids in order and just like that faerie tale. On the whole, the stories gave me a great deal of opportunities and I ran with them.

M:  Could you share what your story is about?

JY:  “The Walking House” is about three people who form an unlikely friendship as they search for the inventor of a walking machine for the Tsar. Nikolai, who once met Sasha Gubernetsky and whose parent’s balloon will provide transportation. Piter, a writer and Nikolai’s acquaintance sent along as a chaperone. Svetlana, Nikolai’s maid who grew up in the wilds of Russia and will serve as a guide in the search. But “The Walking House” is also a story told by Piter to two young children, who occasionally interrupt with their own thoughts. Finally, it’s a tale about a fearsome old woman, three challenges, and an unexpected love.

M:  What drew you to tell the story The Walking House?

JY:  When I was younger, I read the standard Faerie Tales and since I tend to read a lot, I kept looking for more. That meant that once I’d finished with Grimm and Anderson I had to look a little farther a field. I found things like the 1001 Arabian Nights, Irish folklore, and even a few Russian tales that included Baba Yaga. I didn’t have to spend a lot of time in thought when Danielle Ackley-McPhail came along looking for a steampunk story that was based off of a Faerie Tale. Besides, there were so many different places to go with this one and the fact that there’s not a tremendous amount of steampunk set in Russia.

M:  What steampunk item did you use in the story that you would love to have?

JY:  The spoiler’s apparently right there in the title – a steam-powered walking machine. If I was going to write about Baba Yaga, then I better have an explanation concerning her very famous hut. Why shouldn’t it be steam-powered? After all the setting is one great big forest and there’s plenty of fuel around. But I also took the opportunity to tie the walking machine idea to Tsar Alexander II’s need to move troops and weaponry through difficult terrain to deal with the Polish Uprising.



This sounds so cool! I'm looking forward to all the machines created.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

An Excerpt from The Walking House

based on Baba Yaga

JEFF YOUNG


“UNCLE, TELL US WHY THERE IS AN OAK TREE IN THE YARD.”

Piter looked down at Alexei and his little sister Tatiana. Her fingers gripped Piter’s pant leg and she pulled insistently. He put a hand on the young boy’s head, ruffling his dark hair. Then he led them over beneath the shade of the tree. “You know these don’t grow this far north and certainly not like this one. So why don’t you sit down, and I’ll tell you the whole story the way your father told it to me.” Piter pulled out his ever-present journal and paged through it until he found the story. Then he began, “A long time ago, your father lived in Moscow and one day he went on a journey with two friends...”

~ * ~

“Nikolai, wipe the borscht from your beard. You look like a Cossack.” Svetlana handed him his napkin from the table. Then she turned away, her cheeks reddening as she hurried to the doorway.

“She is too forward with you, Nikolai,” Ivan said, pointing with his knife.

“No, she is right. You do look a bloody mess.” Piter laughed and sipped his tea before turning to the other guest, “Be kinder, Ivan, you don’t want her mother against you. After all she merely tolerates Nikolai and he pays her to keep the house. Although that is not a bad thing now that his parents are gone, else he would be like a house spirit with no tenants. A little domovoi on his lonesome.”

Nikolai sighed and daubed at his beard. Svetlana was right. More often than not she was right.

Ivan rapped his knuckles on the table and the others turned to him. “Congratulations, dear Nikolai, on your new assignment. It is always good to be noticed and very good to be noticed by the Tsar.”

“Even if you are being sent out into the woods to chase a ghost.” Piter’s cup occluded his cockeyed grin.

“That may be my fault,” admitted Nikolai running his spoon around the bottom of the bowl. He looked to the mantelpiece at the photograph of his parents in front of their balloon. Perhaps it was his turn to explore and hopefully his luck would be better. “When I spoke of the drawings I found by Sasha Gubernetsky I had little idea things would turn out so.”

“Why do we need a machine that walks anyway? Didn’t we free the serfs to raise an army? You tell him, Piter; you know I am right.”

“No, Ivan. The Tsar freed the serfs because it was the right thing to do and the right time to do it. What is this walking machine anyway, Nikolai?”

“Gubernetsky’s machine was two-legged and had a gyroscope inside to keep it balanced. It was big enough that it could step over most obstacles. Imagine how you can march men over areas you could never drive a wagon through; that’s what Gubernetsky envisioned. Unfortunately, all I have is a picture and some vague sketches that were given to the Tsar by a mysterious source.

“Since I met Gubernetsky a while ago, I am considered familiar with him and his work. The military is always looking for ways to keep the borders more secure, such as those with the Ottoman Empire, and stop unrest in places like Poland.”

“You sound like you should be recruiting for the army, Nikolai,” Ivan said with a laugh.

“No,” Nikolai replied, “I’ve just heard it too many times. One of the generals is taken with the idea of a walking machine and pushed the plan up to Alexander II. So I am commissioned to find Gubernetsky and retrieve him.”

Piter leaned forward. “But that still doesn’t tell us why Svetlana is going along with you, much less why you are taking the balloon.”

Nikolai found he couldn’t meet the other’s eyes for a moment even though the reason was perfectly honest. “She is from the Ural Mountains north of Perm where Gubernetsky was last seen. So she will serve as a guide. As for the balloon, there is an immense amount of land to cover in our search and we will do it more quickly from the air. The plan is to stop at villages here and there and ask after Gubernetsky until we find him.”

“You make it all sound so simple, Nikolai. But when you come right down to it, it is you and a young lady in a balloon in the wilderness. I know Mistress Kasinov well enough that she would not allow that for her daughter. So is this where you come in, Piter?”

With a glance at the doorway, to ensure he was not being watched, Piter replied, “Yes, I am the chaperone, but only because my uncle married Mistress Kasinov long ago. Even though she is sharp of tongue, Svetlana is family and I shall look after her. I am to keep our young man here a dreaming inventor and not a wild beast that the young lady should fear. Also I am a writer. The opportunity to chronicle this adventure is too great to pass by.”

“And Mistress Kasinov trusts you to not spend your days head down over your notebook?” Ivan laughed, shaking his head. “I don’t know who is the greater fool here, you or Nikolai for chasing a ghost in the wilderness.”

When his guests left, Nikolai climbed the staircase to his room. As he packed his clothes, a light evening rain dimmed the lights of Moscow. In a day or two they would be far enough away that he would no longer see those lights. A day or two more and they would be farther away than any dacha he had ever visited. In a week, farther than he had ever traveled. He reached out to put his sable hat into the trunk and stopped when he heard a board creak. Looking up he caught Svetlana glancing at him from the doorway. She pointed to the hat and then shook her head. It was so quiet that the long black hair spilling from her headscarf rustled against her back. Then he smiled and set the hat aside. She was right; something so fine would make him stand out as from the cities. As always her advice was sound. At least some things would not change.

~ * ~


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
About the Author:
Jeff Young is a bookseller first and a writer second – although he wouldn’t mind a reversal of fortune.

He received a Writers of the Future award for “Written in Light. He also has contributed to the anthologies: Writers of the Future v.26, By Any Means, Best Laid Plans, Dogs of War, In an Iron Cage, Fantastic Futures 13, Clockwork Chaos, TV Gods, The Society for the Preservation of C.J. Henderson and Gaslight and Grimm. Jeff was published in the magazines eSteampunk, Realms, Cemetery Moon, Trail of Indiscretion, Realms Beyond, Carbon14 and Neuronet. He is an editor with Fortress Publishing for their Drunken Comic Book Monkey line as well as the anthology TV Gods.

Jeff has helped run the Watch the Skies SF&F Reading Group of Harrisburg and Camp Hill for more than fifteen years. He also is an instructor for the Step Back in Time class. Step Back in Time prepares children to enjoy all aspects of Renaissance Faires by learning about dress, language, culture, history and more. Finally, Jeff is also the proprietor of the online eBay and Etsy shops- Helm Haven, which produces Renaissance and Steampunk costume pieces.


Order Gaslight & Grimm now:
Release day, May 29, 2016.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Audio Book Review: Wrapped in the Past

Wrapped in the Past

By:  Chess Desalls

Publish Date:  December 11, 2015, Audiobook Release April 21, 2016

Format:  Audiobook - 2 hrs 3 mins
Narrated By:  Janine Haynes

Genre:  Young Adult Fantasy

Series:  Stand-alone

First Impression:  A young girl impacted by who she meets.

Synopsis:
Shirlyn travels back in time to ancient Persia where she meets the three magi who follow the Star of Bethlehem. After a mishap threatens to send her ride home without her, the youngest mage exhibits a hidden talent that leaves an impression on his elders and on Shirlyn's heart. But his silhouette will forget they ever met, unless she leaves a reminder that comes with a heavy price.

First Sentence:
Tailed like a comet, the star glows under the heavens.

Purchase At:
Amazon  /  Barnes & Nobles

Audible

My Thoughts and Summary:
*I requested to review a copy of this audiobook for an honest review from the author or narrator.

Three magi follow the Star of Bethlehem, carrying gifts to welcome the newborn child.

Shirlyn's father is an inventor, and obsessed with time travel. His gift to Shirlyn and her mother is to travel back to the first Christmas, and observe the three magi. Shirlyn finds she grows attached to those of the past, but there are laws against leaving reminders. But can she leave without leaving a piece of her?

Janine's narration is done with a clear voice and flow. The accent voiced for Shirlyn feels to fit her, as it's what I thought she'd sound like. Janine has an accent I can't place when she speaks as the three magi. Janine expresses the feelings Shirlyn is feeling in voice as Shirlyn thinks and tells the story. The background is clear and seamlessly flows through the chapters.

This is a Christmas story at the heart. When Shirlyn sees the Christmas star she's taken by the sight. Her description is beautiful. Her and her family follow the star, her father hoping to cross paths with the three magi to study them. We experience the travels of the three magi following the Star of Bethlehem to welcome the child. We learn of the three magi's and what gifts they bare. But when Shirlyn sees the young Balthazar, she is attracted to him and he is her age. Balthazar is a special person as well. What he can do, and it's a touch of magic, is beautiful.

This feels like this is Shirlyn's first experience with time travel. We get to experience the effects of traveling, goggles/visors to protect eyes from the blanching effect, the change of traveling vehicle, and the affect of their arrival. Shirlyn's father, Edgar, also tells her of the rules of time travel.

Shirlyn is a young girl and we get a feel of so from her. Shirlyn is young and influential. She finds kind and sweet young men in her travels. Shirlyn falls for them each too. Shirlyn feels she's been impacted by meeting those of the past and she wants them to remember her as much as she'll remember them. Shirlyn is so young in her thinking and it shows, naive in a sense. Then we see Shirlyn meet Romaso for the first time too.

This story is set in the world of "The Call to Search Everywhen".  You do NOT need to read the series first to read this one. This is a story of a secondary character's adventure to the past. We do get a few drops of the time travel agency and ways here. There are rules and consequences, but Shirlyn is just learning as she's new to traveling with her family. She hasn't seen any negative affects yet. Maybe you'll become curious of the world at a larger view after this story.



*If you found my thoughts helpful, please click Yes at Amazon and/or Audible. Thank you!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday Post #130

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer ~ It's a chance to share news ~ A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received and share new about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It's been another crazy week here. I only got blog visiting in one day as the second day was spent on the phone. With my husbands work schedule this week, I was on and off the phone Thursday night trying to find out information on his sister. They thought she was having a stroke. Late Thursday night we found out it was not a stroke but something that has the same symptoms. I can't remember the name of it but it sounded like it was related to the nervous system and her brain. She'll be okay, but what else will come of this new find, I don't know.

Now it's the weekend and time just goes so fast. Where does it go? I have so much to get caught up on and getting no where fast. I'm glad next weekend is Memorial Weekend in the USA. Maybe the extra day will help me with free time to get some reading and such done. (hahaha)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Fit Booker:

Goal:  Workout in any form of exercise (or on Wii Fit) 2x's a week. (to feel better and hope to drop a few pants sizes)

How did I do last week... I did got to the gym 2 days last week, Tuesday and Thursday. My usual. With working on lifting equipment then the elliptical for 30 mins. I also cut grass Friday.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
What's Happening in Books:

Current Read:
The Side of Good / The Side of Evil edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail
Struck by Amanda Carlson
I'm also working on Content Editing Work as well.

Current Audiobook:
Finders Keepers by J.J. Dibenetto


Current Podcast Book Listen:
Stonebriar Casefiles: Bad Alchemy by Laura Nicole Spencer (You can listen for free too!)
Alight by Scott Sigler (You can listen for free too! One episode, a few chapters, a week!)


Finished Last Week: 
No new books started yet.

Audiobooks from Audible:
Nemesis by K.A. Finn


Finished Podcast Book Listen:
Nothing

~~~~~~~~~~

Last Week on the Blog:


Cover Reveals: (click titles to go to post & learn more)




Posts:

Around the Internet...


Reviews:


Podcast Review:




Mama Bitchstress Reviews:



GIVEAWAYS:



~~~~~~~~~~

This Week to Come on the Blog:

I've decided to do three reviews a week for a few weeks, just to try to get caught up with what I have to share with you all. Hope you stop by to check them all out! :)
  Wrapped in the Past
  Nemesis
  Finders Keepers (maybe, if I get review written)

I have a guest author mini interview and a discussion post.


~~~~~~~~~~

Received Last Weeks:


Review & Review Consideration:
The Demons We See by Krista D. Ball
PRE-ORDER AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
Society was rocked when the Church asked Allegra, Contessa of Marsina, to negotiate the delicate peace talks between the rebelling mage slaves and the various city states. Not only was she a highborn mage, she was a nonbeliever and a vocal objector against the supposed demonic origins of witchcraft. Demons weren’t real, she’d argued, and therefore the subjection of mages was unlawful.
But that was all before the first assassination attempt. That was before Allegra began to hear the strange whispers in the corridors. That was before everything changed. Now, Allegra, and her personal guards race to stabilize the peace before the entire known world explodes into war with not just itself, but with the abyss from beyond.
So much for demons not being real.



Audio Books Requested for Review:



Purchased/Winnings/Gifts:
Book:



Audio:
Heir to Kale by K.L. Bone
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
“Fear to the fearless. Hope to the hopeless. Mercy to those who hate you. Death to those who love you.” – Prophesy of the Kalian Twins. 

In the land of Kale there lies a delicate balance between the powerful Temples and the rulers from an ancient, royal bloodline. The Temples are ruled through combat, determined by a series of tournaments. Of these tournament champions, sixty are chosen to become Defendants, an elite team charged with protecting the realm from all enemies. Selection to this team is considered the highest of honours and leadership of the team is decided only once every thirteen years. 

Princesses Mariana and Ameria, twin daughters of two such champions, are taken as children to separate, yet equally powerful Temples. Through years of rigorous training both are educated in the arts of combat, swordplay, and the ancient traditions of the Temple Gods. Both eventually obtain the rank of Kalian Champions with the expectation of one day serving upon the coveted Defendant Team.

Then, not long after their seventeenth birthday, the childless King declares that one of the sisters must succeed him as the future Queen. As the race for the throne begins, the sister’s long standing rivalry intensifies, leading both upon a dangerous path that threatens not only their lives, but the fate of the very kingdom.

Unbeknownst to the twins, this treacherous path to the throne is the elaborate collaboration of an ancient prophecy and two creatures charged by the Gods themselves ensure it comes to pass. As primeval powers awaken, the two sisters must struggle to learn the truth behind the prophesy and search for a way to change their inevitable fate.




Free Ebooks:

(On my Kindle App) Links to books under title. They may or may not be free at this time.
Carl Sagan's Hunt for Intelligent Life in the Universe by C. Gockel
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
Sometimes intelligent life is right in front of your whiskers. 

Hsissh is a member of The One. There are some newcomers to The One's homeplanet. They call themselves "humans," and they are, frankly, mentally deficient--they can't warp the quantum world with their minds. However, Hsissh is becoming attached to one of them, a Miss Noa Sato. He can't decide if he loves her like a child or a pet or both. 

When The One decide they will wipe out the humans and Noa's life is on the line, Hsissh is forced to take sides ... he might find intelligent life where The One least expect it.

Armageddon by Christina Bauer
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
Five years have passed since Myla Lewis last fought gladiator-style in Purgatory's Arena. Now, she’s fighting again, only this time in Hell. And the stakes have never been higher. The King of Hell, Armageddon, has kidnapped Myla and Lincoln’s young son, Maxon. 

In the wake of Maxon’s abduction, all the after-realms calling for war, and no one shouts louder than Lincoln. Myla knows that a war against Hell will cost millions of lives, so she devises her own plan, involving a small attack team and a secret entrance to Hell. Will Myla save Maxon, or will her child and all the after-realms fall to Armageddon?


Supernatural Freak by Louisa Klein
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
When paranormal expert Robyn Wise is offered an outrageous sum of money to cure a boy who is turning into a dead tree, she's very sceptical. A politician ready to pay that much to make his son stop growing branches instead of hair? Come on! She's more likely to be abducted by aliens. This is a trap. Or much worse. And, of course, it's much worse.

The child is turning into a dark portal, created by a powerful entity determined to absorb Fairyland's power. This means that not only queen Titania and her court are in danger, but the very balance of the magic fluxes.

Robyn'd rather stick a pencil in her own eye but, to learn how to destroy the portal, she has to sneak into the Wizardry Council, a place full of wizards who are hiding something—though it’s certainly not their dislike of her.

There, she discovers a terrible secret that could help to overthrow Fairyland's enemies for good, but puts her in the midst of an ancient and deadly war, and not as a bystander, but as the main target.
 

The Elf's Apprentice by Frances Pauli
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
A sorcerer, a rebel, and a whole kingdom under fire... 

As the sorcerer's new apprentice, Kia's fiery temper is bound to get her into hot water. Evander is obnoxious, arrogant, intolerable, and undeniably the most beautiful elf alive. Even if she passes his relentless testing, working at his side just might kill her. 
Worse, her master has powerful enemies inside the palace. When their attacks turn personal, the sorcerer's apprentice becomes the perfect bait in a deadly trap set to destroy the man who has become far more than just her boss. 
Two lost souls must defend their world, but even if they save the kingdom, they risk losing each other forever. 


(On my Nook)
Street Fox by C.J. Brightley
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
A boy learns heroes still exist. 

This is a short story set in the world of the series Erdemen Honor. It is a prequel/introduction to an upcoming novel and takes place several generations after The King's Sword. It is 6166 words.

Exodus by Jen Minkman
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
"Time is old here. 
Older than the cracked and scorched earth, older than the scraggly bushes and the dusty road that winds through the desert like a sluggish snake on its way toward the horizon wavering in the heat.
I no longer recall for how long I’ve been here, but I feel just like that snake – forever on my way toward a destination that’s just out of view. Only when I look up do I see what my heart longs for. The endlessly blue sky. My visions are blue. My eyes are hungry.
The cabin is on the edge of what must once have been a lake. When I step outside and stand on the verandah during the hottest time of day, the air is so hot that it turns everything blurry and wavy, filling the lake with something looking like water once more. Even though that mirage can’t quench my thirst for the blue.
The clock above the door is broken. Time isn’t just old here – it seems to not pass at all.
And yet I wait."

The Heretic by Joseph Nassise
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
Boston SWAT officer Cade Williams didn't believe in the supernatural until a chance meeting with a fallen angel left his wife dead and him hanging on to life by the thinnest of margins. When he was discharged from the hospital he discovered that not only was he scarred, body and soul, but that the encounter had left him with a few otherworldly talents of his own.

Now, several years later, Knight Commander Cade Williams runs the elite Templar combat unit known as the Echo Team, which puts him in the perfect position to search for the creature that so viciously attacked him and his family that night. His efforts yield little success, however, until a cabal of necromancers attempts to seize an ancient Templar artifact for their own nefarious purposes and gives him the first real lead he's had in ages. Cade sets out to find the necromancers and, through them, the Adversary, only to encounter something much worse...

Death's Mantle by J.A. Cipriano
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
One does not simply play with hellfire.

When a cyclops breaks into his school and tries to kill his girlfriend, the last thing Malcom expected was for emerald flames to leap from his fingertips and blast the monster to dust.

Now, he'll have to come to terms with his new power before he and his friends are consumed by an ancient unstoppable evil desperate to be free. No big deal, right?



Free Audio Books/Stories:
Nina Kimberly the Merciless by Christiana Ellis
PICK UP AT AMAZON
Goodreads Synopsis:
She's on a mission... To kill the man who loves her...

Why?

Because he's an idiot.

Nina Kimberly The Merciless is the story of a teenage barbarian princess who must rid herself of an obnoxious royal suitor, replace him with a hero, and then grow into her destiny as a...

Well, that she hasn't decided yet.


~~~~~~~~~~
Reviews to Come:

Soulless by Skyla Dawn Cameron
The Sentinel by Chris Lester
The Muse by Chris Lester
Metamor City: Making the Cut by Chris Lester
Metamor City: Whispers in the Wood by Chris Lester
Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan
Lex Talionis by Starla Huchton
Spark by Starla Huchton
Heir to Kale by K.L. Bone
Tales from the Archives Vol 4 #5 - Old Sinner's Bones
The Death of Dulgath by Michael J. Sullivan
Wrapped in the Past by Chess Desalls
Nemesis by K.A. Finn

Friday, May 20, 2016

Audio Book Review: Transition

Transition

By:  K.A. Salidas

Publish Date:  December 8, 2014, Audiobook Release March 4, 2016

Format:  Audiobook - 4 hrs 46 mins
Narrated By:  Kerri McCann

Genre:  Urban Fantasy

Series:  4th in Chronicles of the Uprising series; 1st Book ~ Dissension, 2nd Book ~ Complication, 3rd Book ~ Revolution

First Impression:  How the past forges who you are for the future.

Synopsis:
Peace is just a breath between battles for Mira. Hardened by slavery and war, she longs for the simpler life, knowing that it might never be hers to enjoy. There is always another battle waiting to be fought, another foe on the horizon. Peace between humans, vampires, and otherkin may be nothing more than a dream, but Mira holds out hope.

It is during this brief respite that Mira is gifted one of her greatest weapons. Though it brings with it memories of a time when she was not so jaded, it also comes with a reminder of terrible pain and loss. Awakening deeply hidden emotions within her, if Mira can use this to her advantage, she’ll have a new ally in the next battle to come.

First Sentence:
Thousands of stars twinkled overhead as Mira sat on the balcony of her new suite in the capital building of New Haven.

Purchase At:
Amazon 

Audible

My Thoughts and Summary:
*I requested to review a copy of this audiobook for an honest review from the author or narrator.

Mira has become a leader and hero of her kind and is staying in the city that now is the center for vampire refugees since the uprising. New Haven. Walking through the destruction of the prison cells she once lived in, Mira finds her journal she thought lost years ago. One she wrote in when she first arrived at New Haven.

Kerri has become the voice of Mira for me. Her laid back speak and determination. Even with Stryker, she brings across the strong feel to both the alpha personalities. When I saw this story had a bit of Mira's past, when she first arrived at the prison of New Haven, and that Mira was slowly coming out of her protective, hard shell I was worried. But listening to Kerri relaxed me right into the story. She has brought enough of the hardness in Mira and the growing vulnerability to the front that shows Mira growing as a character. Excellent combination and reading of the character! She does different timber and infliction for each character.

I remember when Mira thought on Theo, her love and the man who turned her, in the previous books. I was always curious to meet him. And in this book, we do. We get to see the first time Mira met Theo, and how they flirted even then. He is a quick one in mind and comments, also a bit sexy. Theo is the best vampire to have turned Mira. I think his friendliness and easy personality was a perfect fit for Mira when she was younger, but also set the bar of how vampires really are. Like Mira has been saying since the first book, they are not salvage, they were humans once too.

It's nice to see Mira in an innocent way, before the harsh life of gladiator fighting. When she was first turned. There had been an instant and constant connection between Mira and Theo. They seemed the perfect match.

We see a whole new cast of characters with Mira on her first trek to find Sanctuary. Of course Theo. We also meet his friends, Marcel and Justine. Marcel and Justine lived as gladiators with Theo. Then we come across Savannah and Collin. Savannah and Collin are young looking vampires that have lived long lives, and survived the cataclysm that created the world that is now present. Mira sees a common view on why to make the journey in Savannah. They are a strong cast of characters.

This book is as the title implies, a transition. The world Mira currently lives in is in transition, but we get Mira's past where she goes through the transition to vampire. But, what Mira went through then created who Mira is now, and how she's come to be the one who is changing the world. What a full circle Mira has come!

There is more to come. There is more battles to be fought to bring peace and co-existence for all species. I WILL be waiting for the books!



*If you found my thoughts helpful, please click Yes at Amazon and/or Audible. Thank you!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Is there a desire for a Web based Book Convention?

I've been seeing all these amazing conventions the last few years. Conventions that make me jealous of those that are there because I want to be there. I see all the fun and desperately want to be involved. But, I just don't have the money. To pay for hotel, food, travel expenses, and the ticket to get in. It's way out of my budget. Sadly this year, I have to pass on attending a convention I've attended for the last several years due to lack of monetary. I will not be attending Balticon this year. I do hope to get back on track next year.

So what about the many of us sitting at home wishing we could attend a convention? Meet authors and talk with them. Meet new authors and readers. It's always fun and entertaining. Couldn't there be something for us?

I'm thinking I may not alone in this thinking. Also there are authors out there that can't make it to conventions yet too.

I have a crazy thought I'd like to run by you all.

Here's the big question: Is there a desire for an internet based book convention? 

Now I'm a fantasy/urban fantasy/science fiction reader so I would primarily focus in that area. But the range of books that are included in the vast realm of fantasy is huge, including romance books and so much more.

Why couldn't we create something like this? In this day and age with the technology we have I think it can be pulled together. But with the right people thinking behind it to make it work.

There could be panels scheduled for four or five authors together doing discussions, just like at conventions, through Google chat or some other viewing system. The nice thing, you can watch live or watch later. Maybe post questions live for their question time or post questions later that the authors could come back to and answer later in comments in the convention time frame.

Of course we wouldn't get to sit at the bar with the authors but maybe there could be scheduled author times where people could post questions for the author to answer or they could talk about their books. If you'd like autographs, authors could have book plates they could personalize and sign and send to you, if they are up for it. Maybe live interviews by readers and bloggers of authors they are fans of.

There are so many different things that can be done to connect via internet these days. Why not take advantage of it? Authors and readers from over seas could easily interact too!

I think this would be a great way to interact with authors we love, meet new authors, and learn so much more!

Would bloggers, book fans, and authors be up for something like this? It'd be a ton of work to set up at first and several people would need to work together to get this done. But it's a thought. Maybe there would be a minimum charge of $5-$10 or something to join the convention, that way the costs incurred to do this will be covered. Maybe for the entrance charge you could get swag sent to you? (That would all pend on shipping costs.) I don't know. Maybe a free ebook for the day? Or giveaways. As at conventions, sometimes you get these or purchase books at deal prices.

What do you think? Any ideas?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Audio Book Review: The Cupcake Witch

The Cupcake Witch

By:  Poppy Lawless

Publish Date:  November 25, 2015, Audiobook April 21, 2016

Format:  Audiobook - 2 hrs 37 mins
Narrated By:  Hollie Jackson

Genre:  Paranormal

Series:  2nd in The Chancellor Fairy Tales series

Impression:  A sweet magical tale with food and love.

Synopsis:
Julie

Buttercream. Vanilla. Fondant. Dark chocolate. Brown sugar. Molasses. Baking has always been my true love, but it wasn’t until my mother’s death, and the unexpected inheritance of Serendipity Gardens, that my bliss called me. Bittersweet. But Serendipity Gardens has more to offer than just a potential shopfront. An unusual recipe box left to me by a distant relative might be the key to unlocking my dreams.

Too bad the most powerful family in Chancellor has plans that could turn those dreams to ruins—literally.

Too bad the son of that powerful family is just the kind of guy I’ve been looking for.


Horatio

I suppose being heir to the Hunter family’s Blushing Grape Winery should make me happy, but nothing could be further from the truth. With my mother gone, my father has taken me under his wing, and I despise everything about the way he does business. Sour grapes, indeed. Instead of raising money for charitable causes, my true passion, I’m chasing my father’s manifest destiny.

Too bad his dream includes paving paradise.

Too bad the property owner is the sweetest woman I’ve ever met.

They say the course of true love never runs smooth.

But that’s nothing a magical cupcake can’t solve.

First Sentence:
Holding the whisk tightly, I swirled the pale-yellow batter around the bowl, the sweet scents of vanilla, brown sugar, and bitter dark chocolate perfuming the air.

Purchase At:
Amazon  /  Barnes & Nobles  /  Book Depository 

Audible


My Thoughts and Summary:
*This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBoom dot com, at my request.

Julie's dad inherited a little cottage, that Julie thinks looks like a witches cottage, in Chancellor. Julie should be heading back to college, but can't bring herself to do so as it's a degree her recently deceased mother wanted her to take. Julie wants to bake. Her dad mentions that Chancellor college has a culinary program. When Julie enters the run down shop and home, Serendipity Gardens, to put it up for sale, she falls in love with the style of the house, and the kitchen. She's found the place she wants to be but another wants the spot for his own use. Mr. Hunter has sent his son on the mission to purchase the property. Horatio finds more than he expected when he meets Julie.

This is the first time I've listened to Hollie. She does well of voicing Julie and her pain, and a different tone for her father. Hollie makes all her characters individual. Horatio sounds like a man with a shorter feel to his words and his sister, Viola, has a softer sound. Something I noticed as well, I like that I can't hear her breathing between words. The story is told with a seamless flow and easy to listen to.

I had to smile at how Julie and Horatio meet. Innocent yet clumsy. Julie doesn't know it, but her boldness to live life as she wants inspires Horatio do the same. They are both not the person that one of their parents is making them be. They both share in this struggle in their lives. They also share that each have lost a parent to cancer. Though they are still hurting from the lose it's not the complete focus of the story, and I love that. They are working to keep going forward as they remember.

We have a few characters that join us in helping them find their selves and connecting Horatio and Julie. Viola, Horatio's sister, is a lovely person. She sees what Horatio is wonderful at, organizing events, and she has great advice for her brother. Viola is so right! But they are suppose to follow the family business. And Horatio realizes it's not what he wants to do. Horatio's dad, Aaron Hunter, is a business jerk. It's all about what he wants and now.

The three ladies that were dear friends with Mrs. Aster are a delight! They have the knowing way about them. Reminds me of the good witches. lol. They adopt Julie when they meet and learn who she is. Then, Julie learns who they are. Oh this is so sweet!

I adored the movie Simply Irresistible with the delicious food and spark of love with the magic in the food. This book fills that same spot in my heart, not for the stories being similar but for the magic in the food and love. Blended with the Good Witch who finds a new home that accepts her and her apothecary ways.

Such a sweet story that I enjoyed. I enjoyed how the writing flowed with the characters. This feels like a lovely series to enjoy as people find themselves and each other, friends or more.



*If you found my thoughts helpful, please click Yes at Amazon and/or Audible. Thank you!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Giant Killer, Mini Interview & Excerpt

I'm thrilled to share this series of posts with you. As mentioned last Tuesday, I'll have mini interviews about a story in the anthology Gaslight & Grimm that will be coming our way at the end of May.

Please join me in welcoming this weeks author, Jonah Knight, to the blog!


M:  Welcome Jonah. It's wonderful to have you by the blog today.

JK:  Thank you for having me.

M:  The story title, The Giant Killer, sounds like a spin on Jack and the bean stock. Maybe?


JK:  Jack and the Beanstock and Jack the Giant Killer arose as separate legends, as far as we know. Over time, a couple of the “Jack” stories melded together to become the way many of us think of Jack these days.

M:  Could you share what your story is about?

JK:  In the original, Jack basically goes from giant to giant defeating them in different ways with different tools. That core idea is where I started.

In this version, the giants- built during the Civil War as a defense measure- are malfunctioning, causing mayhem, and disrupting the city. So, almost reluctantly, our heroine gathers her devices and goes out into the streets of Boston to stop them, using techniques similar to those used in the original tail.

M:  What drew you to tell the story The Giant Killer in a steampunk setting?

JK:  Years ago I read Charles De Lint’s novel Jack, the Giant Killer. In his book, Jack was a title bestowed on anyone who killed a giant. I’ve always loved that idea and wanted to use it in a way completely unlike the way De Lint did.

When I heard about this anthology I had been writing a series of steampunk short stories about a young woman inventor (almost Tony Stark-like) journeying by train, constantly being waylaid by strange events (Lovecraftian creatures, Confederate soldiers). The idea of her having to fight giant automatons seemed to be a perfect fit.

M:  What steampunk item did you use in the story that you would love to have?

JK:  It’s not an item, per se. I don’t know what I would do with Paul Revere’s sword. As someone who has never been particularly crafty, I would love to have the ability to build impressive devices out of simple components. Magnetic scarves, spring-powered boots, and clockwork giants would be everywhere.


Awesome! I love the sounds of this one as well! Thank you Jonah!



An Excerpt from The Giant Killer

based on Jack the Giant Killer

JONAH KNIGHT


EXCUSE ME,” SAID HANNA LEE. SHE LEANED IN, JOINING THE PORTER to look out the train window. “I could not help but notice that these people seem to be, what is the proper description? Fleeing in terror?”

The porter nodded and turned from the window to face the sixteen-year-old woman before him. “It’s one of the giants, I expect.”

“I thought that the giants were inactive?”

The porter shook his head and his cap wiggled. “They been getting ornery after their maker died. Confederates never got to Boston, of course, but three of the steam-work giants patrol, same as before the war. I seen Cormorgan marching around the train yards plenty of times. Looking for an army to fight.”

“I see,” said Hanna, watching the people scatter beside the tracks as her train slowly approached North Union Station. “It would appear his behavior has changed.”

Grinding steel brakes rattled the car, bringing them to a sudden stop amidst the screaming Bostonians. Typical, thought Hanna. Every mission she had been sent on to recover artifacts from the War Between the States had found her diverted and sidetracked. And now giants. “Nothing to do about it, I suppose,” she said to herself.

Hanna put her hand on the porter’s shoulder and firmly turned his nose from the window. “Perhaps you could see us safely from the train?” She held the little smile on her lips, and motioned to the car full of near-panicking passengers. The porter nodded, straightened his vest, and began calling out orders, ushering the people toward the exit in a calm fashion.

Hanna secured her bonnet and scarf, and carrying her reticule, a sizable handbag, descended onto the dusting of Boston snow. She turned away from the rest of the fleeing passengers and went to see the spectacle.

Three train cars ahead of her stood Cormorgan. The steam-work man was only about eight feet tall, but he was as wide as three men and round like a barrel. He had torn open the side of the coal car and was shoveling the fuel into his furnace through a door in his chest. Flames spilled out, blackening his iron hide. Hardly a giant, really.

Hanna watched a pair of police officers creeping up behind the giant. One held a long iron rod like a spear and the other aimed a rifle. The rifleman fired and hit, but the bullet ricocheted harmlessly away.

Cormorgan’s head rotated around in its socket, his three eyeholes focusing on the officers. His body turned about, rotating at the waist, squaring off with the police. The fire exhaled from his chest as he spread his arms out wide and lurched forward.

His thick legs reminded Hanna of Greek columns. They were not steady, but the giant moved with surprising speed above the waist. He clamped his hands around the chest of the rifleman. The man screeched as Cormorgan lifted him, crushing his bones. As the man flopped lifelessly, the giant pulled him in, cramming the broken body into the gaping furnace as well.

Hanna could smell flesh burning even at this distance. She held her scarf up to her nose to block the stench and looked about the train yard for a few moments before a plan came together. She began to jog alongside a neighboring track that housed a train loaded with lumber. She loosened her scarf, positioning herself behind the remaining officer.

The officer, with the red whiskers and wild eyes, yelled to her, gesturing with his spear. “Go! Get away!”

“Keep your eyes on the task before you,” Hanna replied, calmly looking about for a safe place to set her reticule, before spying a mostly dry spot under the train. Now then, she thought, as she pulled the scarf from her neck and rubbed its ends together.

Hanna lived on trains much of these last few years and, when she had the good fortune to procure a private car, she would spend her hours building useful devices to assist in her non-traditional occupation. She was particularly proud of this scarf and its magnetic properties although, she had to admit, it was truly her aunt’s design.

The blood splattered across Cormorgan’s body smoldered as the giant advanced. He clumped awkwardly, one step at a time, arms quickly lashing out. The remaining officer ducked and scrambled to stay out of his reach.

“Excellent,” Hanna said. “Lure him this way if you could.” She felt the magnetism within the scarf begin to activate. Just a few more moments, then, she thought, and counted down from ten.

She twirled the scarf in front of her and walked in front of the officer. “What are you…” began Red Whiskers.

Cormorgan stepped onto the track as Hanna counted three. She pulled her arm back on two, and threw the scarf on one.

The scarf stiffened, attaching itself in part to Cormorgan’s left leg and in part to the train track. Hanna began to count down again. The giant lunged forward, but finding himself anchored, tipped over crashing into the ground.

“You trapped it,” Red Whiskers said in awe, as Cormorgan spun his arms in the dirt.

“Not for long,” said Hanna, pulling the spear from his hands. Eight, she counted. She jumped up onto the nearest lumber flatbed, perched on a log, and with the spear began prying at the latches holding down the pile of wood.

“What are you doing?” asked Red Whiskers.

“Attempting to bury the giant,” she said, straining in a most unladylike manner. Six, she counted. The first latch popped off and the logs shifted. The officer scrambled out of the way as Hanna dug the spear into the second latch.

Fire spilled out of Cormorgan’s chest as he lay face down, pounding at the earth. Three, counted Hanna as the second latch popped. She jumped aside and watched as the logs stayed exactly as they were. One. The scarf lost its magnetic charge and Cormorgan began to push himself back to his feet. Hanna took a breath, wedged the spear into the pile of logs, and threw her weight behind it.

The timber spilled, flowing over the side of the flatbed, raining down on the giant. His back dented, his arms cracked, his head split. When the deluge ended, all that could be seen of the giant were the bottoms of his feet sticking out from the pile of wood.

“Ah,” said Hanna to herself, brushing her gloved hands together lightly to remove the dust. “That seemed to turn out just fine. Would you mind,” she held out her hand toward Red Whiskers, “helping me down?” The officer shut his slack-jawed mouth and rushed around the logs to offer his assistance as the porter ran up beside them.

“You killed Cormorgan,” the porter said in a soft voice, picking up her scarf.

“In my defense,” said Hanna, draping her arm around the officer’s neck as he lifted her to the ground, “he didn’t leave me many options. Thank you,” she said, accepting the burned scarf. “It does look a bit damaged, doesn’t it? Out of commission for the time being. I trust we are still on schedule to depart for Bangor this evening?”

Red Whiskers cleared his throat. “I’m afraid not, miss. The mayor has put a halt to all trains until the giant situation is resolved.”

“Are they all revolting?” asked the porter.

“Only two others,” said Red Whiskers. “Two-headed Thunderdel in the Public Gardens and Galigantus in the harbor.”

“And no one can stop them?” asked Hanna.

Red Whiskers shrugged. “The maker built them in a secret laboratory. Seemed a fine idea until he died and no one knew how to turn them off.”

Hanna pouted. True, her schedule did have flexibility, but she did not want to set a precedent of attending to every local crisis she encountered in her travels. However, she considered, these were the famous giants of Boston. Incredible machines that had not yet seen their equal.

“Well,” she said, turning toward the porter. “If the trains will not depart before the matter of the giants is resolved, perhaps you would care to escort me?”

“To your hotel?”

“To slay the giants.”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

About the Author:
Jonah Knight is a paranormal modern folk musician specializing in songs about ghosts, monsters, and steampunk. He is a five time musical guest of honor at various conventions and has released six albums of weird and/or creepy songs. His steampunk album Age of Steam: Strange Machines brought him to the attention of The Steampunk World’s Fair and The Pine Hill Steampunk Festival, both of whom featured his live performances. This is his first published story. Listen to his music at www.jonahknight.com

Related Book/Publisher Links
Blog - https://especbooks.wordpress.com/
Website - http://www.especbooks.com/Projects/GaslightAndGrimm.htm
Kickstarter - https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/e-specbooks/gaslight-and-grimm-steampunk-faerie-tales
Kindle - http://www.amazon.com/Gaslight-Grimm-Steampunk-Faerie-Tales-ebook/dp/B01E6C03OA/
Print - http://www.amazon.com/Gaslight-Grimm-Steampunk-Faerie-Tales/dp/1942990316/
NOOK - http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/gaslight-grimm-jody-lynn-nye/1123660280?ean=9781942990321
GoodReads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28522644-gaslight-and-grimm
GoodReads Giveaway – https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/183549-gaslight-and-grimm
Twitter Handles: @eSpecBooks @DMcPhail @jonahofthesea



Order Gaslight & Grimm now:
Release day, May 29, 2016.