Monday, April 30, 2012

New Book: Faerie Wishes (by Valerie Bowen)

I think every little girl dreams of being a fairy princess at least once. But what about having it the other way around? Faerie Wishes flips little girl fantasies on there heads in this young adult fantasy romance by Valerie Bowen. 

"Talia Saturnfrost has grown very tired of her forest home; she has spent many suns dreaming of leaving the fae realm and living amongst the humans. Her decision is made when she falls deeply in love with Cayden a human male. She only has to utter the wish to make her dream come true. 

Talia soon discovers the grass is not exactly greener on the other side of the realm; as a matter of fact she discovers sometimes wishes can kill you. Will Talia find the love she craves in Cayden? Join her on her quest to find the love she desires and the realization that sometimes wishes do come true just not necessarily the way you had planned." 

Read along this week by getting your copy from Amazon

Friday, April 27, 2012

Review for "Of Honest Fame"

For the moment, London is relatively sheltered from Napoleon’s war of conquest, but that hardly means the city is sitting idle. Castlereagh’s loyal group of spies are traipsing all over the continent gathering information on Napoleon, trying to figure out how to end his war. When Tirrell starts making his way home with important documents only to be nearly beaten to death when he gets there, they begin to suspect the threat to their country may lie closer than they thought.

Of Honest Fame is a historical fiction novel, but you don’t have to be a history guru to enjoy this book. History and geography are probably my two worst subjects. I have steered away from historical fiction in the past for that very reason. Plus, I feared historical novels would dry and polite and formal. And let’s face it, no matter how high school text books paint an event, there’s always more to the story than what you read.

I think that is what intrigued me so much in Of Honest Fame. This was not the academic glossing over I remember from world history. I appreciated how real everything felt. The characters were unique and human, with faults and strengths and interesting personalities. As much as I admire Jane Austen for her creativity and writing ability, I have never been completely captured by her characters because they are just too prim and proper. Bennetts is able to capture in this book the nuances of London life in 1812 in a way that makes is seem very familiar and real. Yes, there elaborate parties and different boots for different times of the day, and of course manners and social conniving play a part, but rather than this being the focus, it seems to be more of a façade everyone wears while real life is happening in the background.

The main plot of this book focuses on the fact that someone knows who Castlereagh’s spies are and is killing them off one by one. It’s a fantastic plot, but in all actuality it really takes a backseat to the characters stories. At least it did for me. I loved Jesuadon’s interactions with Lady Wilmot. Bennetts did a great job of showing his character change with every meeting. I have a hard time with books where I feel like the main character is still the exact same at the end as they were in the beginning. Not so with any of Bennetts characters. Boy Tirrell is a perfect example of a character driven story rather than a plot driven one.

I would hate to spoil Tirrell’s story for anyone, so I won’t go into detail, but the complexity of this character was very enticing. As much as I enjoyed everyone else in the book, I always got excited when I got back to another Tirrell chapter. Through most of the book there is so much you wonder about this character. What exactly happened in Tirrell’s past? Where did he learn is incredible skills? And there were many times after Tirrell was sent to live with Dunphail that I was suspicious that something was off, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. For any of you who keep up with my reviews, you know how much I love that! I hate guessing the twist early on, and Bennetts did a great job of keeping that from happening. She knows how to end a book too!

I could probably go on about this book for a while, because I enjoyed it so much, but I won’t. I’ll wrap it up by saying that Of Honest Fame has really changed my opinion of historical fiction. I can’t wait to read her next book. The research she puts into her books is impressive, and her dedication truly shows through in her writing. I felt like 1812’s London could have been right around the corner because it was portrayed in such a realistic, easily relatable way. Bennetts creativity in developing both story and characters makes sure there is never a dull moment, either. And I learned a lot about what was going on during that time too, which makes it even better.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. The characters and story are great. No plot holes. No inconsistent characters or story lines. There is beautiful romances, danger, sword fighting card playing, intrigue, spying, and more. It was a great read. 

Who would I recommend this book to? Obviously any historical fiction readers interested in this time period, but really anyone who enjoys a good romance, a dangerous adventure, or even readers who love the political intrigue of high society. There really is a lot to enjoy in this book. Younger readers may find some of the dialect a little difficult at first if they’re not used to reading something like that, but it would hardly keep them from enjoying the book.

So, if you’re interested head over to Amazon or the League of British Artists to get your copy, check out M.M. Bennetts website to find out more, or meet up with M.M. Bennetts on Facebook to stay updated on when her next book, Of Fear of Peace, is coming out. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"Of Honest Fame" favorites

Naming my favorite character in Of Honest Fame is tough, because they're all such good, deep characters. I enjoyed Jesuadon's story quite a bit because of the dual sides of his personality you got to see. His character was very well done. But in the end I think I have to go with Boy Tirrell as my favorite. It's hard to say exactly why without giving away important plot tidbits and ruining it for those who haven't read the book yet, but I had a sneaking suspicion that I was going to like this character when I read this...

"Boy listened to Planta in the next room, searching for any sign of a forced entry, any irregularities among the contents of his desk, and smiled to himself. He wouldn't find any because there weren't any to find. He had seen to that. Made certain of it. "Silly cock," he whispered, but without malice. No one caught Boy Tirrell twice. No one." 

Doesn't that just make you want to read more? I loved all of Tirrell's impressive talents, his quiet but strong presence, and definitely the surprises that went along with him. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Interview with M.M. Bennetts

Today we're welcoming M.M. Bennetts to the blog. She was gracious enough to answer my interview questions and tell us all more about herself and her work. Read on to find out more!


May I just say how very pleased I am to be answering your questions and talking about this book.  It was a work that was a long time in coming--percolating, you might say.  And I'm always so delighted when it's touched someone.  That means more than you can imagine.  So thank you for having me...
1. History is obviously an interest for you, given your background, but what made you decide to write about this era?
The truth?  It was one too many university lectures on the Black Death.  I'd started life as a mediaevalist, you see, and I was specialising in15th century Italian history, which I loved. afternoon, the lecture was on the bubonic plague which had ravaged Europe in the 14th century.  It wasn't the first time I'd had to study it.  And I sat there listening, thinking, "That's it.  I can't do this.  I just can't."
At the time, I was living on an old family estate and the big house there had been designed and built by the architect Robert Adam (1728-1792).  And I simply loved the architecture of that building.  I loved the painting and portraiture of the era too, and for most of my life, I'd been playing the sonatas of Beethoven (1770-1827), so I had a route into their thought-processes through the music they listened to.  So you could say it was the art, architecture, music and poetry that really sucked me in.     
2. I will admit history is not my best subject. How much of the detail in Of Honest Fame is accurate?
The detail is all accurate.  The history is all accurate--as accurate as I could (with a bibliography of some 200 books) make it.  The details of the horrors in Poland and Silesia as the French troops advanced into Russia, that's what happened.  There was a coup led by General Malet to seize control of the French government--just as I've described.  The 29th Bulletin with Napoleon's version of what happened to the troops in Russia as well as his return to Paris, that too is just as I've described.
What I wanted to do was create a cast of characters with whom the reader would wholly engage, so that you'd see the history unfolding just as they saw it, just as they lived it.  And although I did create these fictional characters and weave them into the web of history, those individuals who really existed--Castlereagh, Planta, Beethoven--well, as to them, I hope and believe that I've captured them accurately and honestly. 
3. You have a large cast of characters. Did you develop the details of each character's story individually, or together within the bulk of the story line?
One of the things I've always loved are novels--like those of Dickens--which have several storylines and at least two 'heroes' on the go at any time.  Like in Our Mutual Friend or A Tale of Two Cities. So the answer to your question is really both.  The character of Boy Tirrell was just there.  As he is.  Dunphail was there.  Thos Jesuadon too was just there from the outset of the idea.  But other characters, like Tom Ladyman, Barnet, Lady Wilmot, they just turned up on the page.  I'd sit down to write and think, "What next?" and there they'd be and they wouldn't hush up.  So I just gave them their heads.
Lady Wilmot was the most surprising of all of these because I had planned to have no other female characters but Miss MacDonald.  At all.  And then, there she was.  And her impact on the other characters was palpable and she turned everything upside down.  And no one was more amazed than me.
But to answer another facet of your question, I don't see myself as developing my characters' stories or even the story line.  I have an idea of a plot that catches my interest--in this case, the intelligence war between France and Britain.  But the characters, well, I just let them come to me and reveal themselves.  I let them live in my head until I know them inside out and they do the talking.  I then sort of throw them into the story and the history and see what happens and how it all unfolds.  It's an organic process.  I don't ever impose my will on them or on their reactions to things--they're not puppets for me to use as mouthpieces.  They're themselves.    
4. If you could choose one character that is really the main focus of this book who you would say that was? (For me, I would choose Boy Tirrell.)
I think that probably the main focus is Boy Tirrell.  Though others might argue it's Thos Jesuadon.  And probably that says I did it right.  Because intelligence networks--the ones that achieve something--are not the work of one individual, they're collaborative efforts.  There's a head, there are deputies, there are the field agents, there are the informers.  It's never a one-man show.  There's no such thing as James Bond.  Not really.
5. The use of dialect is very well done in this book. Did you become familiar with era-specific dialects through your academic pursuits?
Thank you for that!  I'm very glad the dialect and the slang worked.  One can never be certain, you know.
I read a great many journals and collections of letters of the era.  I also read their periodicals--newspapers and monthly magazines.  So I have their language in my head all the time, their turns of phrase, their idioms, their catch-phrases.  Sometimes if I happen across something I really like, I write it down for use later.  (Like "mushroom Corsican upstart"--that occurs frequently in private letters between political/military men of the period.)  I also use Captain Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue from 1810.  So I always have this sense of how they spoke and thought--though of course, one must filter that for a 21st century audience.  I mean, if I wrote like the authors who wrote for the Ladies' Monthly of 200 years ago, you'd be gagging--it's so thick, some of it, that it's the literary equivalent of day-old porridge sitting like a glaucous lump in the bottom of the pot.  You can't slice it, you can't scrape it out...
6. I haven't read your first book May 1812, so for my sake as well as my readers, isOf Honest Fame a direct continuation as far as the characters go? Or were there new characters in the second book?
Of Honest Fame follows May 1812 in the sense that the action starts in midsummer 1812--a month after the finish of the other--but it's not a sequel.  It features some new characters, shares some characters, although the protagonists of each are only in the background of the other.  In that respect, they're perhaps similar to Anthony Trollope's Barchester novels.
The two books (and probably subsequent books as well) are meant to show different facets of the period and of the Napoleonic Wars and the Home Front.  Although they take place in a sequential order, set against the backdrop of emerging historical events, each stands on its own and each can be read without any knowledge of the other.  So they complement each other, but they're not sequels in the traditional sense. 
7. If I had picked this book up not knowing anything about you as the author, I would have believed this was written in the period discussed in the book because it seemed to be so well-captured to me, except for one aspect. In many books around that period the romantic and sexual areas of a relationship are very subdued. Of Honest Fame did utilize these more. Can you tell us more about your focus on the relationships in the book?
I take this as a great compliment.  Thank you.
The idea we have of a polite society engaged in a domestic comedy of manners such as Pride and Prejudice, that concept existed solely between the covers of a book.  It's not the whole truth though.  And I am rather devoted to the truth. 
Analysis of English parish records from 1785 show that 58% of women marrying for the first time were already pregnant.  (This number is arrived at by counting backwards from the date of their first child's birth.)  By 1800, that number was down to 40%.  So clearly there was a growing emphasis on morality, supported by the grass-roots religious movements of the age, such as Methodism.  But 40% is still a pretty high number--not at all as the later Victorian image would have us believe was the norm. 
One of the major themes of Of Honest Fame is redemption.  Europe was in a desperate state.  In 1812, they had been at war for twenty years.  From Portugal to Russia, the poverty was inconceivable.  All totalled some six million people died because of Napoleon's lust for power and personal glory.  Such a terrible waste of life.  Such great darkness and unending hopelessness!  How do you dispel that black night of loss on such a scale?
You begin by lighting a candle.  One candle.  One at a time.  One candle, one life.  And however slowly, soon, that candle will light another and then another...
I should probably say at this point, SPOILER ALERT.  If you've not read the book, please do skip to the next question...
When Marianne Wilmot entered the scene, she had an instant impact on all the characters and therefore on the plot, as I said.  And that really surprised me, because I just hadn't seen it coming. 
But having accepted that, within weeks of her appearance, I kept hearing in my mind the opening lines of a sonnet by Shakespeare:  "Being your slave, what shall I do but tend/ Upon the hours and times of your desire?   I have no precious time at all to spend,/ Nor services to do till you require..."  And I realised those lines had come to reflect the inner man of that character upon whom she had the most startling effect.
To me, there is absolutely no point to a love scene unless it illustrates something about the characters which simply cannot be demonstrated in any other way.  If it's not going to be an illustration of change or development or a facet of that character one might understand in no other way, then forget it.
And all the while, that sonnet, it kept speaking. And I knew that those were the words in that character's head when he was with her and when he wasn't.  His burgeoning affection for her was transforming him and he became the embodiment of that sonnet--at least privately. 
So his relationship with her became a kind of redemption from all that he was and had become as an intelligence man, from the grim realities of war, from all the anger and resentment.  She evoked in him such complete self-abnegation and utter devotion...such selflessness and care.
No one was more surprised by it all than me.  But I couldn't deny him it.    
8. Who are your favorite authors?
Dorothy Dunnett, Patrick O'Brian, P.G. Wodehouse, Dorothy L. Sayers, Charles Dickens.  Plus the greats:  William Shakespeare, John Donne, Gerard Manley Hopkins...
9. Do you have any interesting quirks or rituals when you write?
I don't believe I do.  I may make a cup of tea.  I often listen to the same movement of a symphony or a sonata or a composition over and over again if it keeps me in the mood for what I'm meant to be writing--especially if working on a scene takes several days.  When I edit, I throw the discarded scenes or rewritten pages on the floor (the dog plays with them there).  My family says I have an 1812-face.  They say they can tell when I'm not in the room but I'm in 1812 by the expression on my face and they know to leave me alone...but I have to take their word for that--I've never seen it myself.
10. Can you tell us about any projects you have in the works? Especially when the next book is coming out? That last chapter just about killed me! 
Well, as you will have gathered, I do way too much research.  I go completely overboard.  I want to know everything--including things like what kind of horseshoes they had or what they had for breakfast or how they heated their houses.
I have the title.  The new book will be called, Or Fear of Peace.  And, while I still have another half dozen books and memoirs to read, the writing is underway, the plot is working itself out in my head, the characters are coming forward and saying, "I'm in..." 
So I am aiming for the new book to come out in autumn 2013, if not sooner...And I sincerely hope and trust that everyone will be patient with me, because the next one has to be, well, you know, even better...


Thanks again to M.M. for taking the time to answer these interview questions. If you're interested in getting a copy for yourself head over to Amazon or enter to win this week only at

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

M.M. Bennetts

We're getting to know M.M. Bennetts a little better today. It is always interesting to hear someone describe themselves, or talk about their own work. Here's what M.M. has to say about herself...

"History, poetry, music and horses probably sums it up.
For some twenty years, I was a book critic for the Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor, specialising in history and fiction. 
In researching the period of the novels, I have attended scholarly conferences marking the bicentennial of Trafalgar; studied the architecture, furnishings and art of the period; and read upwards of an hundred relevant histories and biographies, as well as the eyewitness accounts of Prime Minister Perceval’s assassination found in the newspapers and magazines of May and June 1812.
An avid cross country rider, also–so they tell me–an accomplished pianist and accompanist, having regularly performed music of the period of my novels."

M.M. has a question and answer page on her website where you kind find out even more about this fantastic author, and selections from her book reviews. So head on over and check it out!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Book Giveaway!!!

If you're interested in winning a copy of MM Bennetts Of Honest Fame, click on over to the website for the League of British Artists. All this week they are taking entries for this giveaway. So go check it out, and good luck!

New Book: Of Honest Fame (by M.M.Bennetts)

Historical fiction is a new genre for The Edible Bookshelf. This week we'll be taking a step back to the Napoleonic era with Of Honest Fame. This historical fiction novel by M.M. Bennetts delves into the behind-the-war work of a group of spies. But more than just lock picking and codes, you'll meet a cast of characters with their own sets of secrets and problems.

"Gambler, gaoler, soldier, sailor, smuggler, spyman, traitor, thief
A battle of wits against the brutal forces of Napoleon’s tyranny over Europe

On a summer night in 1812, a boy sets fire to a house in Paris before escaping over the rooftops. Carrying vital intelligence about Napoleon’s Russian campaign, he heads for England. But landing in Kent, he is beaten almost to death. 

The Foreign Secretary, Lord Castlereagh, is desperate for the boy’s information. He is even more desperate, however, to track down the boy’s assailant – a sadistic French agent who knows far too much about Castlereagh’s intelligence network. 

Captain George Shuster is a veteran of the Peninsula, an aide-de-camp to Wellington, now recalled from the continent and struggling to adjust to civilian life. Thomas Jesuadon is a dissolute, living on the fringes of society, but with an unrivalled knowledge of the seamy underside of the capital. Setting out to trace the boy’s attacker, they journey from the slums of London to the Scottish coast, following a trail of havoc, betrayal, official incompetence and murder. It takes an unlikely encounter with a frightened young woman to give them the breakthrough that will turn the hunter into the hunted.

Meanwhile, the boy travels the breadth of Europe in the wake of the Grande Armée, witnessing at first hand the ruination they leave behind and the awful price of Napoleon’s ambition. 

This companion to M.M. Bennetts’s brilliant debut, May 1812, is a gripping account of deception, daring and determination, of intelligence and guile pitted against brutality. Bennetts brings to vivid life the harrowing devastation wrought on the civilian populations of Europe by Napoleon’s men, and the grit, courage and tenacity of those who stood against them." 

Get your copy today from Amazon or the Kindle Store

Friday, April 20, 2012

Review of Don't Die Dragonfly

Sabine isn’t the one writing the school newspaper’s physic predication column, but as far as she knows she’s the only real psychic the school has. Not that she’s about to tell anyone. When her friend Manny asks her for help with his psychic column, Sabine gives him a few juicy horoscopes and other nonsense, but one of her messages is a real, otherworldly warning. “To the girl with the dragonfly tattoo, don’t do it.” Sabine can’t get the images of whoever this girl is out of her head…and not being able to ignore them lands her in more trouble than she thought possible.

What first caught my eye with this book was the sentence, “To the girl with the dragonfly tattoo, don’t do it.” It was a great line, cryptic, intriguing, had some real possibility. And let’s face it, with its similarity to “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” it was hard to resist. The first couple chapters were engaging. I liked the characters for the most part. There was a hint of something good to come with the mysterious guy that shows up at her grandmother’s farm to help out. Overall, I wanted to keep reading after the first few chapters.

When the book really started to lose interested for me was when we met “the girl with the dragonfly tattoo.” As soon as I met this character I was pretty sure I knew exactly what it was she wasn’t supposed to do, but I thought, no way, that’s too simple and obvious. So I dismissed that idea and continued reading, expecting something much more interesting and surprising. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. When I got to the end, indeed, the girl with the dragonfly tattoo attempted exactly what I suspected she would attempt, and it was no surprise (**spoiler alert**) that Sabine was able to stop her. So as far as the main storyline went, I wasn’t overly impressed. It was predictable for me, and had a lackluster finish.

What I found more interesting was the story behind the main story line. This involved Sabine’s grandmother, Nona, who is also a psychic, and Sabine’s having lied and told her grandmother that she had lost her psychic gift years earlier. This partly accounts for the mysterious farmhand showing up to help Nona. He does help on the farm, but what he’s really there for has more to do with secrets than mucking out stalls. In the very last chapter this side story finally takes the stage and leaves you hanging. But still, it wasn’t enough for me to go out and get the second book.

Don’t Die Dragonfly was an entertaining book, but not a big attention grabber for me. I don’t like figuring out the main plot twist early on and that really sucks the fun out of a book for me, but for others that might not be a problem.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, but only as a casual read. It’s not one you’ll get sucked into, but it’s interesting enough to enjoy when you have a few moments to sit down and read.

Who would I recommend this book to? This was more of a YA book than one adults will enjoy. I think younger teens may not be as concerned with the simple plot twists, and will enjoy the conflict of high school and backstabbing teenagers. 

You can get your copy of Don't Die Dragonfly on Amazon

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

More about the author of Don't Die Dragonfly

Linda Joy Singleton is the author of over 35 books for kids, including YALSA honored THE SEER series and DEAD GIRL WALKING trilogy. To find out more about Linda Joy Singleton, visit her website at

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

And to the girl with the dragonfly tattoo...

...Don't do it.

Main character of Don't Die Dragonfly, Sabine, is a psychic. But her friend Manny is the one writing the psychic answer column in the school newsletter. He knows nothing of Sabine's abilities. Her seemingly offhand suggestions are appreciate by him, though. Sabine rarely gives him anything real, but images of the girl with the dragon fly tattoo just won't stay out of her head.

Monday, April 16, 2012

New Book: Don't Die Dragonfly (Linda Joy Singleton)

We've done several paranormal novels on the blog so far, and the fact that we're doing another one shows just how popular the paranormal romance genre is becoming lately. Linda Joy Singleton's, Don't Die Dragonfly, delves into spirit guides and seers. Read on to find out more.

"After getting kicked out of school and sent to live with her grandmother, Sabine Rose is determined to become a "normal" teenage girl. She hides her psychic powers from everyone, even from her grandmother Nona, who also has "the gift." Having a job at the school newspaper and friends like Penny-Love, a popular cheerleader, have helped Sabine fit in at her new school. She has even managed to catch the eye of the adorable Josh DeMarco. 

Yet, Sabine can't seem to get the bossy voice of Opal, her spirit guide, out of her head . . . or the disturbing images of a girl with a dragonfly tattoo. Suspected of a crime she didn't commit, Sabine must find the strength to defend herself and, later, save a friend from certain danger." 

Don't Die Dragonfly is the first book in The Seer Series, available from Amazon

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Interview with Leslie Ann Moore (author of Griffin's Daughter)

Review last week on The Edible Bookshelf was Griffin's Daughter, and the author, Leslie Ann Moore, was kind enough to do and interview and tell us all a little more about herself, her books, and what she has coming up next. I want to give a big thanks to Leslie for such a great interview. Read on to find out more! 

1. What was your inspiration for Griffin's Daughter, and the series? 
Back when I was a freshman in college, about a hundred years ago, I had an idea to write a short story about a girl who was half-human, half-elf, except I didn't want this to be a typical fantasy tale where humans viewed elves as stunningly beautiful, ethereal and somehow better than they were. I was more interested in the hard truths of racism and how a person deals with being born mixed race in a society that despises the other race and looks down on those born with mingled blood. Humans in the world of Griffin's Daughter are not in awe of elves; in fact, they view elves in the light of religious bigotry. They are taught by the Soldaran church that elves are demonic in origin and therefore without souls. Of course, the elves have an entirely different view of themselves and of humans, but they are not without their own racial prejudices, as Jelena eventually learns.
Another important inspiration for the series was my feelings about imperialism and war, but this happened much later, when I actually started writing the books in earnest. I began developing the plot outline in 2001, right after 9/11. I was against the Afghan invasion and the Iraq war from the very beginning, and I felt a lot of anger and frustration over the direction our nation was going in. I participated in several anti-war marches and rallies, but ultimately, our voices were ignored. It seemed like a logical leap to me to parallel in my fantasy world what was happening in the real world. The Soldaran Empire is huge and rapacious and needs a steady supply of natural resources to maintain itself. The elven nation, Alasiri, is rich in natural resources, but small in population and no match militarily for its human neighbor. The Soldarans justify their invasion to themselves via their bigotry, but it's much more about expansion to ease overpopulation and the control of resources than it is about racism. Lest you think I spend all my time brooding about grim realities, I must confess I'm really a hopeless, or more accurately, a hopeful, romantic! More than anything, I wanted to write a love story about two people who overcome great odds to be together. The love in this series is MONUMENTAL!! It is the kind that I yearned for and eventually found, and I am so very grateful!
2. I loved the opening chapter with Jelena's mother. How did you decide how to open this book? 

I needed to give my readers some some important back story so the rest of the plot would make sense as it unfolded. This was to avoid too many info-dumps in the main body of the story. It made sense to do this as a prologue. That whole mini story is really more about the group of elven mages who set everything in motion than it is about Jelena's mother. I do have great sympathy for her, though. She chose to go against everything her culture had taught her to seize on love, and she paid a terrible price. Maybe one day, I'll write in short story form the tale of Jelena's parents. 

3. Griffin's Daughter opens with so much history already developed in your world. How long did it take you to work out the details of the history and structure of Soldara?

 I worked on the world building for almost six months. I have detailed files on both Soldara and Alasiri, which include a lot that never made it into the books. I also have notes on other nations and groups of people that are only mentioned in passing, but may one day get more 'stage time' in future books set in this universe. One of the most fun aspects of being a fantasy/sci-fi writer IS the world building. The only limitations are those the writer's own imagination places on her or him. I think the reason why so many fantasy books are these massive 800-page tomes is because of all the world-building details that have to go into the story. People writing stories placed on modern-day, reality-based Earth can leave so much explaining out because the audience already knows what a cell phone is, for instance, or that France is in Europe.   

4. You do a great job with the politics within Asmara castle, and between the humans and Alasiri elves. How did you develop the social structures in this book?

Both societies are hierarchal, with fairly rigid social strata, typical of human societies throughout history and into modern times. Soldara is loosely based on Imperial Rome, while Alasiri is based on feudal Japan, and I do mean loosely! The main difference is with gender equality. Both the Soldarans and the elves are much more egalitarian across the board and this was deliberate. I wanted to write a story that had many of the familiar tropes most fans of the genre expect with so-called epic or high fantasy--most of which is based on medieval technology and social structures--but I was tired of the inherent stereotypical gender roles that went along with that. Yes, there is a fair amount of oppression going on, but it is more class and hierarchy-based, rather than gender-based. For instance, and this may be a bit of a spoiler, so beware, Jelena's uncle would have sold her off just the same, even if she'd been a boy.   

5. The story in Griffin's Daughter isn't just about Jelena. Her cousin Magnes plays a significant role as well. Was his story part of your original plan, or did it develop along with the story? 

Magnes is an original character; in fact, he goes back to the original short story, although his name wasn't Magnes. Jelena had to have a human ally from the beginning, because I wanted to make it clear that not all humans believed the bigoted crap the church taught them about elves. Magnes represents the hope that someday, humans and elves can co-exist in peace and with mutual respect. He is all that is good and decent about humanity. Though he does disappear halfway through the first book, he is integral to the plot and his story arc plays out fully over the next two books.  

6.  Jelena's true heritage is a mystery through most of the book.  You did a great job of slowly revealing her background. Did you plan out each step, or let is develop more naturally? 

Each step was plotted in advance. I'm not one of those writers who works without an outline; in fact, my outlines are very detailed. That doesn't mean I don't depart from an outline once it's finished. Sometimes, my story will veer radically away from the outline, which can be very surprising! An example of that is a character who has yet to show up, but debuts in book two, Griffin's Shadow. This particular character was completely plotted out in advance, but kept telling me that it (and I use 'it' to not give away the gender!) was totally miscast! The role I'd chosen for it was not its true one. I listened, and now this person is completely different from how it was originally written. That's the most specific example of a character developing naturally as the story progressed.  

7. Behind Jelena and Magnus and their stories is a darker, more encompassing evil. This threat is the basis for the trilogy, yet is only a small portion of the first book. Does the focus switch in the second book, or is it a slower transition? 

The nature of the dark force that lurks in the background for much of Book 1 does become more evident in the second book. The reader learns just how dangerous and ruthless this adversary is, and more of its plans. At the same time, the reader learns that there are people who are committed to defeating this evil, but the price they must pay is devastatingly high. The climax comes in the third book, where this courageous band of people are tested with choices that would break all but the most determined of warriors, and I use the term 'warriors' to mean those who battle an opponent and not necessarily through force of arms.

8. Do you have an interesting quirks or rituals when you write?

Not really. I do a lot of my work in coffee houses and cafes, so I like to drink hot coffee or tea while I'm writing. When I'm home in my office, I'll sometimes make a bag of popcorn to munch on. That's about the extent of it.

9. Can you tell us about your publishing experience? 

Griffin's Daughter was first published by a small, indie outfit out of Pennsylvania called Avari Press. I had sent the manuscript to them on recommendation from an acquaintance who had heard they were looking for submissions. It turned out that my book was chosen to launch their company. GD went on to win a Ben Franklin Award for Best First Fiction of 2008, given by the Independent Book Publishers Association, a large trade group of indie presses both tiny and huge--St. Martins Press is their biggest member. So, it was a very prestigious award and I'm very proud of it. Sadly, the award didn't help Avari. They became victims of the recession and went bankrupt, shortly after publishing Griffin's Shadow, book 2 of the series. That left me orphaned, two thirds of the way through my series. Well, after indulging in a very short pity party for myself, I got on to my various social media sites to let my tiny group of fans know what had happened. Within 24 hours of my post to the Goodreads Fantasy Group, I was contacted by Robin Sullivan, a fellow member and wife of fantasy author Michael Sullivan. She was starting up her own indie publishing business and wanted to pick up my series. Needless to say, I was relieved and several months later, Ridan Publishing put out new editions of both Daughter and Shadow, and then published Griffin's Destiny, the third book, thus completing the series. Things started out slowly, but sales have really picked up steam recently. The books have done well for Ridan. 

10. Can you tell us about any future projects? 

I've just completed writing the first book in a new trilogy. It's a retro-futuristic, political action/adventure story, loosely based on a well-known fairy tale. I've chosen to refer to it as retro-futuristic, rather than steampunk, because it isn't hard-core, though there are definitely recognizable steampunk elements woven throughout. Book One is finished, and the second and third are outlined. There are no definitive titles yet, but a lot of the time, publishers choose titles anyway, so I'm not sweating it. I plan on delivering the manuscript to Ridan within the next couple of weeks. I also have a couple of collaborations in the early stages with my fiancee Aaron Mason. We have a couple of children's books we want to do, as well as a screenplay. I also have a paranormal romance/horror novel I've begun work on, though it's on the back burner for the foreseeable future.

Thanks again to Leslie for answering my questions!
If you’d like you learn more about Leslie and her work, visit or connect with her on Facebook at (Don’t forget to “Like" Leslie’s page!).

Leslie will also be at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on the campus of the University of Southern California, on 4/21-4/22 to sign copies of the Griffin's Daughter Trilogy. She'll be with the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society at Booth 970. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Review of Griffin's Daughter (by Leslie Ann Moore)

Who you are, what you are…those are questions that can eat at a person. For Jelena that is certainly true. She knows very little about her mother and even less about her father. All she has is a griffin ring, and she has no idea what it means. For so long Jelena was willing to accept her place in life. She has always been a little odd, an outcast aside from her cousin Magnes’s friendship.

Jelena assumes she will spend the rest of the life as part of the castle staff until her uncle decides to put her to use. Faced with being forced into a marriage, Jelena decides to change her life’s path despite the danger of leaving her human family and escaping to the elves, who may not accept her either. Her journey begins by sneaking out through a forgotten door, and ends with a truth she never expected to find.

Griffin’s Daughter is a wonderfully crafted fantasy. There are familiar elements from traditional fantasy stories, but Moore does a great job of putting her own unique touch the world Jelena is a part of. I particularly enjoyed the deep and rich history she created. It added so much to the book when Jelena’s story really begins. There was already so much that had been built up by the time you meet Jelena that I already felt very entrenched in the world and the story.

As Jelena travels to the elves, Moore proves that she can write excitement and battle just a well and detailed descriptions. I enjoyed the fight scenes for their energy and conciseness. I really get bored with fight scenes that drag on for pages with in depth descriptions of each and every strike and parry. That wasn’t the case here. The dangerous trip away from human lands blends seamlessly into Jelena’s arrival in the elven kingdom.

One of my favorite parts of Jelena living with the elves were the differences Moore subtly pointed out between the two races. Many aspects of their society were different, but some were similar. The contrast Moore provided create a rich comparison that made me think about how these two races were going to progress through the story, and how their unique views and qualities might affect their decision making for good or bad.

Another aspect of Griffin’s Daughter I really enjoyed was Magnes’s story. He accompanies Jelena to the elven kingdom, but must eventually return to his family. When he does, I fell into his story even more. Magnes was a well-developed and very realistic character. He made mistakes, acted brashly, fell in love, was hurt and betrayed, and became a very fascinating part of the book.

No fantasy book is complete without a great romance. Ashinji is prompted by a dream to help Jelena when they first meet, and once he does he finds it impossible to stay away from her. Yet, like any good romance, there are road blocks standing in their way. From the fact that Ashinji is a prince expected to marry well, to Jelena’s own hesitations and the dangerous attentions of another, being together is no easy task. I thoroughly enjoyed the interplay between these two characters. Moore used complications to keep them apart at just the right times, and sweet moments of desire and love to bring them together. It was agonizing at times, but in a good way.

Overall, I enjoyed Griffin’s Daughter quite a bit. It was well written, had a complicated yet engaging story line, and memorable characters. The main focus of this first book was mainly on Jelena’s story. I had hoped for a little more of the magic and the stolen power in this book, but I’m sure that will be more of a focus in the second and third books. Speaking of which, I plan to review both books over the summer, so stay tuned! If you’re looking for a fantasy novel you can get lost in, give Griffin’s Daughter a try. You’ll enjoy it.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, it was a great additional to my fantasy library. If you love fantasy, give this author a try. She weaves a creative and engaging tale.

Who would I recommend this book to? Adult and young adult fantasy readers will enjoy this. Jelena’s young age appeals to teens, and the detailed story and depth of the characters and plot will also keep adults interested.

So get your copy today on you Kindle or in Paperback!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Culture and Bathing

In Leslie Ann Moore's, Griffin's Daughter, there are two distinct races that comprise most of the story. Humans and Elves. These two races are very different, but have you really ever thought about how the smallest, most basic aspects of a culture can really define them? In this book I think it really comes down to bathing.

I know that sounds funny, but hear me out. The humans bathe on special occasions while the elves bathe every day. This may seem like a simple matter of hygiene, but really its a view of the world seen at a very small level. The elves manage their day to day lives much like their society, with neat precision. The humans seemed to see each day more like a conquest, stopping to savor the highlights and great accomplishments more than everyday occurrences. It was interesting to see how much small aspects of life can speak of larger world views. And it shows how well Leslie did at developing her cultures and keeping them consistent.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

More about Leslie Ann Moore

"Leslie Ann Moore was born in Los Angeles, California at the tail-end of the baby boom. From an early age, her parents exposed her to the beauty and wonder of art, music, and literature. She learned to read before she started school, and books were her constant companions..."

To find out more about Leslie, visit her website at

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New Book: Griffin's Daughter by Leslie Ann Moore

It's been a while since we've had a true fantasy book on The Edible Bookshelf. So we're switching genres again and delving into a world of humans and elves. Leslie Ann Moore's novel Griffin's Daughter is the first book in the Griffin's Daughter Trilogy. Griffin's Daughter take typical fantasy races we're all familiar with, but creates a very unique world.

"BORN BETWEEN TWO cultures, a young woman searches for acceptance. An ancient evil searches for her. A young girl lives as a social outcast due to her mixed human and elven blood. To escape an arranged marriage, Jelena flees into the unknown on a quest to find her elven father. Her journey takes her on an unexpected adventure of magic, danger, and most startling of all - true love." 

Griffin's Daughter was a 2008 IBPA Ben Franklin Award for Best First Fiction

Read along with me by getting your copy at Amazon