Saturday, March 30, 2013

Review: Seeing Red

Growing up as a survivor of a deadly plane crash and spending her childhood on an island awaiting rescue have defined Jillian Stone's life. Finding a real home is something that has escaped her, as has making lasting friendships. The only support she has are the twins, Alexander and Oliver, that lived through the island years with her, but even the twins prove more of a complication than relief when she begins developing feelings for both brothers. Add in strange visions of a red haired man, and Jillian's life quickly becomes a mess. 

The most compelling aspect of this book is definitely the romance. There are several romantic elements going on. Central to the story are the romantic feelings that develop between Jillian, Alexander, and Oliver. Jillian loves both men as brothers, but she realizes over time that her emotional connection to them has deepened into something more. What that "more" means is what is really confusing. She and Xander fight constantly, but that may just translate into an intense passion and love. Oliver, however, has always been her strength, the one there for her she she needed support and love. Halston does a great job of pulling the reader back and forth between the two brothers. Right up to the end there is doubt about which one she will pick. This love triangle was very well developed. For me, it was by far the more compelling element of the book. 

The other romantic aspect was Jillian's relationship with one of her instructors, Professor Black. I didn't find this relationship as compelling as with the twins. Black seemed wrong from the first day. It was frustrating at times that Jillian seemed so blind to his actions. I didn't see her reactions and decisions as rational or understandable at times, which was very opposite from the relationship with the twins. I didn't feel this aspect was as well developed as the other romance. 

A word of caution about the romance is that there was plenty of sexual situations and sexual discussions. There are also sex scenes that were fairly descriptive. This combined with the heavy use of profanity makes it one I would not recommend to teens at all. 

The mystery aspect of this book mainly stayed in the background. I never felt like it was a major point of the book. The focus was largely on the romance. I did find the visions, notebooks, and Jillian's mysterious heritage to be interesting. I wanted to know more about her past and how it would impact her future. I think there is potential for a good mystery here, but it was not fully developed in this book. I am hoping that the next installment will be more heavily focused on the mystery and the red haired man. 

There were a few smaller issues that were a bit of a distraction while reading. The editing was not as good as it could have been. The dialog was almost never punctuated correctly and there were other mechanical and grammatical errors as well. Some of the journals were written more simplistically than the rest of the book and the dialog was very formal most of the time, which detracted from the flow. 

Overall, this book had a great romance that was very appealing and will definitely hold readers' attention. The mystery was not quite as compelling, but has potential to develop into a very interesting story. 

Seeing Red is available now from Amazon

Friday, March 29, 2013

Review: License to Lie

Past experiences have shaped the lives of Roxy and Skip, but in very different ways. Roxy has used frightening experiences to become a woman who does not trust and is out to take care of herself, even at the expense of others. Skip, on the other hand, pushes himself to help others overcome trials just as he learned to do. When these two are thrown together when Roxy's father goes missing, their pasts may be complications they don't need. Roxy must choose between selfish plans and preserving her family. Skip is faced with helping Roxy of staying true to his morals. The wrong choices may mean the difference between solving the case and losing everything. 

The characters in this book were very well crafted. I enjoyed both Skip and Roxy. Their personalities battered against each other constantly, but in a good way. They pushed each other and test their beliefs and desires. I enjoyed the relationship they developed very much. The attraction the two feel between each other, but dodge at all costs, adds a whole other layer to the story. Roxy is very blind at times to Skip, but I felt her reactions and impressions were still very realistic. She was so focused on protecting herself she was blind to many other aspects. Skip was my favorite character. His personality and the way he dealt with Roxy really drew me in. His internal struggle throughout the book was quite emotional and will capture readers' attention. Even the side characters were strong elements of the story and provided a well rounded cast. 

The mystery itself was also well developed. There was a lot of thought and research put into the design of the mystery. I felt there were no gaps or holes in the storyline. The bad guys were scary and believable, and Ambrose did a good job of keeping readers guessing. I thought I knew who the ultimate bad guy was at one point, but Ambrose did a good job of throwing out other options to make me second guess myself. In the end, I really enjoyed the mystery. I think the characters and the relationships were the strongest aspect of this book because they were so well done, but the mystery and story were also big factors in why I enjoyed this book. 

Usually this is where I list my complaints, but I have very little to critique. This was a well written book with great characters and an entertaining plot. There were a few errors here and there, but very minor. There was some language, but it was very clean otherwise. It's one I would feel comfortable recommending to adults and older teens. Mystery readers will enjoy this very much, as well as those looking for an entertaining character-driven story. 

License to Lie is available now from Amazon and Oak Tree Press

Stay up to date on Terry's books at his websiteFacebook, and Twitter.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Excerpt: License to Lie

Get a sneak peak of the fantastic characters in License to Lie and the adventure they find themselves wrapped up in together. 

She said, "Gotcha, Skip Cosgrove."
As I watched Skip Cosgrove rummage around my dad’s desk, I had a short panic attack. What if he found Dad’s password? That would mean we’d find out what Dad had been researching. We’d learn what had been making him crazy. And I might be exposed.
For the briefest moment, I didn’t want this guy to do anything. But that was stupid because I did want him to find my dad. I considered how I’d deflect the investigation if he hacked his way into the computer, then suppressed a smile. This professional was having no more luck than I had had earlier. He made a weird comment about the room being sterilized by my dad. To me, that would imply Dad wasn’t drunk.
Mom’s brow furrowed and she glanced at me, then back to Skip. “What’s that mean?”
“He didn’t want anyone following his trail,” I said.
Skip nodded. “Exactly. People always leave a trace of what they’ve been working on. Here, there’s nothing. Your husband wanted to make sure that if something happened to him, nobody could come in behind him and retrace his footsteps. You could probably hire a forensic computer expert to go through this, but that would be expensive and time consuming. I know a guy who could do it. He might do it as a favor, but I don’t know if he’d be available. He’s got a big deadline. On second thought, maybe we’d be better off just going back to the old way of doing things.”
“What’s that?” asked Mom.
“Legwork,” he said. “I’ll need to go wherever he would normally go and ask around. I’ll need a picture and a list of places to visit.”
This wasn’t anything I couldn’t do. In fact, that had been my next step—visit the places Dad would usually go—not that there were many. There was his Rotary lunch—a week away. There was the bar around the corner from the title company—he hadn’t been there in months as far as I knew.
“He’d been going to Agua Hedionda a lot lately,” said Mom.
“What?” I blurted. That was ridiculous. My dad, a nature guy?
“When did he start visiting the lagoon?”
“Maybe a few weeks ago.”
“Had he gone there recently—in the last few days?” asked Skip.
Mom shook her head. “No. Not in the last few days.”
“Something’s bothering your husband, Evelyn. If we knew what that something was, we might have better odds. I suspect we won’t figure that out until we find him. The lagoon’s out for now. He’ll probably be going someplace where he can drink.”
“Keller’s,” Mom said.
I nodded. “The bar near the title company—Dad always used to go there after work. We could go do that now.”
“I prefer to work alone,” Skip said. “Look, if he’s running away from something that happened here, seeing either of you might trigger a flight response. I’ll go down there myself.”
No way was I letting this guy out of my sight. If he found Dad and they started talking, my business dealings might come up. I had to go. Besides, I needed more time to work him for access to Nordoff.
“My dad and I were always very close. He wouldn’t run from me.”
Mom’s jaw fell. “And he’d run away from me?”
Skip stood and put his hand on Mom’s arm. I know he was only consoling her, but seeing him touch her like that pissed me off. I felt like an idiot. Was this guy stirring some primal instinct in me? Jealousy? Fear that he’d move in on my mom? I cleared my throat.
“It’s probably got nothing to do with you. But he’ll be expecting you to come looking for him. If he’s trying to sort something out on his own, seeing you would tip him off. Skip and I can handle this without alerting him to what’s going on. Right?”
Skip grimaced. Actually, he looked annoyed. “It would be better if—”
“I’d like Roxy to be there,” Mom insisted. “Richard would do anything for her. As I think she would for him.”
That comment sent a chill to my soul. Would I? What if he asked me to not steal the five million? I gave that thought a quick burial. No way, I wasn’t going there.
Mom continued. “She should go with you.”
He glared at me. “You have to agree to follow my directions.”
Oh, big bully man, I’m scared. Careful, buddy, or I’ll knock you on your ass—unless you’ve got a higher-degree belt than mine in karate. “Sure. You’re the boss.”
He stared at me for a few seconds, obviously unimpressed by my quick acquiescence.
“What? I said you’re in charge. You want me to sign something?”
He hesitated. “Fine. Just listen when I tell you to do something, okay?”
Shit, you’d think he knew me or something.
“Listen to him, Roxy. He knows what he’s doing.”
Jeez. What was this, the We Know Roxy Society? “And I know my dad. I want him back as much as you do!”
Mom took two steps and embraced me. She leaned her head against my shoulder. “I’m sorry, honey. It’s probably all my fault. I must’ve done something, I just don’t know what. Find him and bring him home. We’ll work it out.”
I gripped her shoulders tightly. “We’ll find him, don’t worry.” I just wished I could believe that. “So, where’s a picture for Skip and me?”
Mom relaxed her grip and then turned away. “I’ll be right back.”
Skip looked me in the eye. It gave me a creepy feeling, like he could see inside me or something. “Roxy, I’m serious. I think I should do this alone.”
I held up my hand, palm facing him, fingers splayed. “Talk to the hand. I’m going along. Quit complaining.”
“Just let me make the initial contact, okay?”
As long as you get to him first, buddy. “I’ve got no problem with that. You did good with the Nordoff kid, I’m sure you’ll do fine here.”
It was no more than ten minutes later that Skip and I were headed toward Keller’s in my Toyota. We’d agreed to take my car since we could always put someone in the back seat.” I decided to stick to the business pleasantries. “Business must be good, you drive a Porsche.”
In the glow of the dash lights, I found myself glancing sideways to take in Skip’s features. He had a strong jaw and well-defined nose, kind of ruggedly handsome—if you like that sort. Who was I kidding? I did. He seemed to take on a different appearance in every light.
Maybe it was just that he was good at masking his feelings. Hard to read. Like me. Damned if that didn’t concern me. The last thing I needed was to be around a guy I couldn’t manipulate.
“I only take a few cases like this. Mostly, I like to work with people to help build their self-esteem and improve their communications.” His voice was deep, almost melodic.
“Are you a shrink?”
He laughed. “No. I’m a criminologist. I’m also trained in clinical hypnosis. I started out in the police academy, but I was a square peg in a round hole. I quit that to do what I love doing most, helping people make themselves better.”
Oh, brother. His was as big a racket as mine. “So you’re not a PI?”
In the dimness, his five o’clock shadow dominated. He stared straight ahead, his eyes glassy in the reflected glow. “For the most part I stay out of crimes. Those guys deal with the criminal element. Me, I prefer finding people who didn’t break the law. Every now and again the cops bring me in. So what’s your business? You said venture capital?”
Was he probing or just making small talk? Be careful around this guy, I thought.
I tapped my brakes as we came down Tamarack, making sure to keep my speed at the limit—and my response generic. “This is my first big deal. I worked for a VC before, but didn’t like some of the practices.” Like not sharing the profits. We were approaching the I-5 on-ramp, so I flicked on my signal. “It’s a fascinating field, just tough to get a start.”
“Where’d you get all that money, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“I’m just a broker. I put together the deal, other people have the money. But I will get a nice chunk of the profits from the deal.” Like, everything, I thought as we merged onto the 5.
“I guess that’s how another client of mine got started, small deals.”
“Yeah, Nordoff.”
”Is he looking for any new deals right now? I was thinking of calling him since I have one slot left open on this one.” I dared not look at Skip, sure that he was sizing me up.
“So you know Herman Nordoff?”
“Peripherally.” In the most generic six-degrees sense. I know you, you know him.
“Hmmpf. I have no idea. He didn’t discuss his business deals with the likes of me. That’s way beyond my ken.”
I slowed for the off-ramp to Carlsbad Village Blvd. So much for Round One. I’d work him a bit later. If I pushed further now, he’d get suspicious. This way, he’d be left wondering why I hadn’t asked for an introduction or recommendation. “Keller’s is down in the Village. We should be there in just a few minutes.”
“Let’s hope we find our man,” said Skip.
I made the turn onto Carlsbad Village Blvd. “I have a good feeling about this.” And I did. I was sure I’d already found mine. Gotcha, Skip Cosgrove.


License to Lie is available now from Amazon and Oak Tree Press

Stay up to date on Terry's books at his websiteFacebook, and Twitter.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Interview: Terry Ambrose

Now let's hear a little more about Terry Ambrose's new book, License to Lie

 1.    What was your inspiration for this book?
I’ve always been fascinated by human behavior and the differences in human behavior. Why do men look at things differently then women? Why does a criminal view the law as an impediment and an officer view it as a tool? After finishing my Hawaiian mystery, which was light and funny, I wanted to again tackle something more serious. The age-old battle between the sexes and struggle between right and wrong seemed like the perfect choice. It ultimately led me to write LICENSE TO LIE, which has the tag line, “Never trust a soul…even your own.”
 2.    Would you classify your writing as plot driven of character driven?
My writing is primarily driven by the characters. In LICENSE TO LIE, one of the main characters, a con artist, is about to close her last deal when her father disappears. Worried that her father figured out her latest con, she wants to find him fast. She’s driven partly by love and partly by guilt because she fears she’s driven him away. When a ransom note arrives, she’s forced to choose between running away with $5 million and giving up everything she’s worked for to save her father.
For me, the character of Roxy Tanner drives her part of the story. If Roxy saw life differently, she’d make other choices. As it is, she’s bound by her love and her greed. The question is, which will win out? Her counterpart, Skip Cosgrove, is a criminologist who, after he agrees to help Roxy find her missing father, soon realizes that he’s over his head and must make his own choices, which may be in conflict with Roxy’s. As a result, we wind up with two characters that are trying to work together, but who have opposing views on life and opposing goals. Those characters generate a plot with twists at every turn.
 3.    Can you tell us a little about your main character?
As I mentioned, there are two and they share equal billing. LICENSE TO LIE is told in chapters that alternate between the two characters. Roxy is the con artist. She’s greed, conniving, and see’s people as a tool to get what she wants. But, she’s also highly vulnerable and her life of crime was actually caused by one defining incident in her childhood. She’s the bad girl who’d like to be good, but has no clue as to how to accomplish that.
Skip Cosgrove is a straight-laced criminologist who likes to help people. Unlike Roxy, he sees the law as a way to help society maintain order. Skip, however, also has a bad boy side, and it’s one that his growing attraction to Roxy fosters.
 4.    Which of your supporting characters was the most challenging to write?
Barry Finkledorf, who calls himself Baldorf, may have been my most challenging character in LICENSE TO LIE. He’s got a 162 IQ, writes video games, and has computer skills any hacker would envy. He also likes to switch up his dialog, going from street slang to intellectualism at the drop of a hat. Part of the challenge in writing Baldorf is that he triggers many of the funny moments in the book. And as we all know, writing humor can be murder. If the joke fails, the writer dies a slow and painful death.

 5.    Without giving away too much, tell us a little about the main conflict in this book.
LICENSE TO LIE is all about trust. The common axiom is that trust must be earned. But, what if you have no time to develop that relationship? So, for Skip and Roxy, the question becomes, with $5 million and their lives on the line, can these two learn to trust each other—or themselves?

 6.    Why did you choose this genre?
I enjoy reading mysteries and suspense

 7.    What do you hope readers take away from this book?
I’m hoping that, other than the feeling that they’ve read a great book, readers go away pondering the question of who should they trust? The flip side of that question is who should they not trust? In today’s society, there are far too many scammers out to steal from others. I write about scams and cons to help raise that awareness.

 8.    Who are your favorite authors?
T. Jefferson Parker is one of my favorites. I fell in love with his character of Allison Murieta in “L.A. Outlaws.” The funny thing is, I didn’t read that book until after LICENSE TO LIE was in print. I also enjoyed Hank Phillippi Ryan’s “The Other Woman” because it was filled with character angst as well as the twists and turns that those characters brought on themselves. Sue Grafton has been a favorite of mine for years because she created such a great character with Kinsey Millhone.

 9.    Do you have any interesting rituals or habits when you write?
I’m finding that I do better when I can get away from home to write. At home, there are so many distractions. By going elsewhere, I don’t have a phone or other distractions and will leave my email program turned off. Depending upon what type of scene I need to write, I may want to listen to different types of music. For instance, when I’m writing about Hawaii, I have a good collection of Hawaiian music. And if I need to write about obsession, there’s no one better than Melissa Etheridge.

 10.  Can you tell us about any future projects?
I have two books completed, but both need heavy editing. The sequel to Photo Finish will take place on Kauai, and I hope to release it this summer. The sequel to License to Lie will, if all things go well, be out in the last quarter of this year. Beyond that, I have at least one more book in each series planned and I’m considering weaving in a book with Skip Cosgrove as the protagonist. My goal is to do something like Robert B. Parker did when he tied together his Spenser, Jesse Stone, and Sunny Randell novels.
License to Lie is available now from Amazon and Oak Tree Press

Stay up to date on Terry's books at his websiteFacebook, and Twitter

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Introducing: Terry Ambrose

Get to know more about Terry Ambrose today! 

"Terry Ambrose started out skip tracing and collecting money from deadbeats and quickly learned that liars come from all walks of life. He never actually stole a car, but sometimes hired big guys with tow trucks and a penchant for working in the dark to “help” when negotiations failed. 
A resident of Southern California, he loves spending time in Hawaii, especially on the Garden Island of Kauai, where he invents lies for others to read. His years of chasing deadbeats taught him many valuable life lessons such as—always keep your car in the garage."

License to Lie is available now from Amazon and Oak Tree Press

Stay up to date on Terry's books at his websiteFacebook, and Twitter

Monday, March 25, 2013

New Book: License to Lie

This week we're delving into murder, mystery, and a little embezzlement. Keep reading to find out more. 

"Never trust a soul—even your own.

Two experts in the art of communications. Both are driven by their goals—and they’re on opposite sides of the law. But, when her father is kidnapped, they join forces—and learn that with $5,000,000 and their lives on the line, it’s hard to trust each other—or themselves." 

Praise for License to Lie:

“License to Lie is fast and well written, almost sure to satisfy discerning readers of thrillers.  There’s a verve to Ambrose’s language and the story moves with assurance, defying easy predictions.  Bravo to this writer.  I hope there’s more to come.” — T. Jefferson Parker, Author of The Jaguar and The Border Lords

"Fast-paced, unpredictable, and a lot of fun--no one is who they seem in this smart and twisty tale of high finance and double dealing. This unlikely and irresistible crime-fighting duo will charm you--and keep you happily turning the pages." — Hank Phillippi Ryan, Anthony, Agatha and Macavity award-winning author

License to Lie is available now from Amazon and Oak Tree Press

Stay up to date on Terry's books at his websiteFacebook, and Twitter 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Review: Dead Girls Never Shut Up

Sarah and Toni are twin sisters, but their looks aren't the only things that aren't alike. They each have very different problems. 

Sarah is dead. A ghost. Stuck haunting her sister in the hopes of saving her life. Toni is in danger of being manipulated into giving her body up to host a not so nice ghost with devious intentions. It's going to take some serious planning to spare Toni, but it may mean not everyone she loves will come out on the living side of the barrier between worlds. 

Susan Stec is a very funny writer, and this book does not disappoint on that front. Every chapter is filled with hilarious situations, witty dialog, and character clashes that leave readers laughing. Some of the humor does tend more toward the adult side of the spectrum than young reader, but I was laughing through most of the book. Sarah dies in the beginning pages of the book, and it's not pretty. Somehow, Stec still puts a humorous spin on the situation. I enjoyed Sarah's reactions, especially in the beginning, when she is trying to cope with her death. Her fixation on the mundane details of her mortal life provides plenty of comedic relief. The side characters provide a lot of humor and fun to the book as well. I enjoyed all the characters and though they were very well written. 

There is also a more serious side to this book. Toni is much more sensible than her sister. She is living through Sarah's death as a grieving sister, struggling to come to grips with what happened. She also faces the nastiness of teenage drama, as well as manipulation by friends and family at every turn. Her emotion is felt throughout the book as she faces a variety of struggles. I enjoyed her character on her own and as a contrast to her sister. They kept the emotional tone of the book well balanced with their different personalities. 

The storyline of this book was fun and interesting. Multiple parties are interested in Toni, and none have her best interests involved. This wasn't so much a mystery of who was behind everything, because that is laid out fairly clearly early on. The tension comes from whether or not the girls will find a way to work everything out. At several points, I wasn't quite sure how they were going to escape all the claws trying to get at them. I enjoyed the story as a whole and I would be interested in reading the next installment. 

I do have a few warnings for readers, though. This is a YA book, but there are some issues that keep it from being appropriate for all teens, especially younger readers. There is a fair amount of profanity throughout the book. There are sexual discussions as well, and one sex scene that wasn't overly graphic, but it was described. There are also several characters that are homosexual, and their relationships are discussed. 

Overall, this was a fun book with great characters and humor that kept me laughing. However, I wouldn't recommend it to every teen because some of the themes are more mature in nature. 

Follow Susan on: BlogGoodreadsFacebookTwitterAmazon, and B&N

Dead Girls Never Shut Up is available now from Amazon.

Today is the LAST DAY to enter to win a free ebook copy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, March 22, 2013

Review: Mana

Eurich is fairly content with his life. Sure, he may fantasize about something really exciting happening one day, but overall, he has great parents, good friends, and a bright future. All of that changes when his teacher gives him a book filled with stories and creatures not of this world. Eurich doesn't really believe the book could be real at first, not until people around him start changing, until he finds himself in a strange world with an otherworldly guide. Soon, Eurich realizes fantasies aren't all fun and games. The power he is beginning to recognize brings with it a destiny he may not be able to fulfill, let alone survive. 

Mana gets off to an interesting start when Eurich witnesses, or seems to witness, his entire neighborhood being destroyed by fire. He is shocked when he realizes the fire was not real, but the strange creature he met while trying to stop the fire is real. The overall idea behind this book was very interesting. Tensei sets up a well developed storyline and backstory that drives the plot forward. At one point the reader even gets to jump back in time to experience some of the backstory through the eyes of Eurich's adoptive parents. This flashback was a bit lengthy, but interesting. I felt there were no big gaps in the plot, and I was interested throughout the book to see what would happen next. I did, however, think some of the plot points were more obvious that the characters seemed to think, which was a little frustrating at times, but overall it was interesting. 

The characters showed promise in this book. Each one had an element of uniqueness to them that made them memorable. I enjoyed the conflict Tensei created between characters at different times that kept the relationships from feeling flat. I didn't see as much depth to the characters as I would have liked, but I feel fairly confident that this will develop more as the series continues. The dialog was also a bit stilted throughout the book, but I've found that this is common among new writers and the flow of the dialog often improves with each book. At times some of the characters had a very "young" feel to them because of their occasionally simplistic reactions and lack of deep emotional connection. I saw this particularly with Euirch and Raine mainly because they did not seem to take things as seriously as I would have expected and brushed off things that should have been more emotional of thought provoking at times. One time where this happened was regarding the hooded man. Raine and Jason both discuss him, and it seemed pretty clear that this was a bad guy, someone to be concerned about, yet Eurich and Raine brush it off like it is nothing. 

The magic system was a little bit of a struggle for me. I didn't feel like it was ever explained well enough that I could get a good handle on it. When the magic was being used, especially in combat, I was often a little unsure of what was going on. I was also not a huge fan of the system being word based. This also contributed to giving the book a younger feel than what I think Tensei was going for. I did, however enjoy the progression Eurich went through to develop his skills, and the interesting abilities Raine developed along the way. I think there is potential here with the magic system, but it needed a little more explanation and I hope the use gets more complex throughout the series. 

Overall, this was an intriguing idea for a book. I think it has potential as a series, but there is room for improvement and growth in the writing. The emotion was often lacking where it should have been impactful, the characters seemed unaware mainly to benefit the plot, the editing could have been much better, and the magic system needs to be a little more developed. I think the concept will compel readers to want to know what will happen next, but the weaknesses may be a struggle for some readers. The young feeling may also make this more suitable for younger teen readers than the 17-18 age group.

Stay up to date on Asher Tensei and his books on his Website and Goodreads

Mana is available now from Amazon USAmazon UK, and Paramance

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Favorites: Mana

Every good fantasy story needs a great backstory. Even when you're writing urban fantasy where the normal world meets the mythical, authors have to create a reason behind the mixing of real and nonreal that is plausible enough to draw readers in. 

Asher Tensei did a good job of creating an intricate history behind the Dragoons and how Eurich came to be in the situation he is in. I felt the history of the two worlds was well developed and interesting. I look forward to learning more about this story and the worlds Tensei created. 

Stay up to date on Asher Tensei and his books on his Website and Goodreads

Mana is available now from Amazon USAmazon UK, and Paramance

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Interview: Asher Tensei

Today, let's welcome Asher Tensei to the blog! 

1. What was you inspiration for this book? 
The success of the Twilight Saga was a biggie for me! Never had I seen someone approach something as cliché as a vamp love story and turn it into well…that. I love that saga because it really taught me a lot. It taught me how to overcome basic character development (something they didn’t do very well…sorry Twilight) and how to custom fit a book for its genre. Looking at the cover of my book, and even the Valentine’s Day edition, you can see a similarity between those covers and mine. It wasn’t intentional, but hey, right? I guess Stephanie Meyer had greater influence on me than I thought! Young adult authors have to stick together 

2. Would you classify your writing as plot driven of character driven? 
Ooh, now that’s a toughie! Because of the predestined set of events Eurich has to complete in order for the series to end, I’d say it’s plot driven. But because of how complex the story is and how dependent it is on dialogue and character thought, that makes it a tough decision. Hmm. I guess Mana is pleasantly sitting somewhere in the middle.

3. Can you tell us a little about your main character?
Eurich is a smart, headstrong kid. He had always been fascinated with the magical realm, but never in his life did he imagine he’d be the source of the fantasy he’d been wondering about for years. 

So, Eurich is a dragoon. Dragoons aren’t exactly new to fantasy to lovers, but they aren’t often talked about. In any form of fantasy, dragoons are humans with extra spectacular bonds with really powerful dragons! Eurich has been bestowed the power of Dragoon Oblivion—and as you can guess by the name, it cause Eurich to fly off the handle sometimes. In an instant, Eurich had to become the person everyone needed him to be, even if it meant cutting some personal ties that makes Eurich…Eurich.

4. Which of your supporting characters was the most challenging to write?
Syrehnity. She’s such a mystery to even me. She’s so nurturing and magical. I don’t know anything about her other than she is the essence of all that is pure. It’s hard to write for her because, though I think I’m a pretty nice guy, I’m no Syrehnity. Seeing things from her point of view is hard for me to put into words, but the story must go on :D I am interested very to see her character progresses; she’s always teaching me something new!

5. Without giving away too much, tell us a little about the main conflict in this book. 
Millenniums ago there was a magical battle, one that left all sides crippled. Humans chose to wage war because they could not produce mana of their own; jealousy was a natural response. Those who could control mana fought hard, but because of human technology, the war was a standstill that resulted in a plethora of unnecessary deaths. After the war ended, those in control of control their mana split Samsera in two. Samsera remained intact, but Earth was created to house the inconsistencies of the human race. 
Fast forward two thousand years and we meet Eurich. The barrier that separates the world is starting to weaken and the two worlds are becoming one again. Though against his and his family’s wishes, Eurich is the heir of that war and the only who can restore balance to the barrier that keeps the worlds hidden from one another. A light romance sparks and jealousy proves to be more than just a feeling.
But no spoilers :P 

6. Why did you choose this genre? 
I chose YA because I am a young adult myself! I came up with the idea of Mana when I was just turning 20 years old. I still had some teenage angst left behind, so I felt I could communicate better with my characters as well as the wide audience young adult fantasy has to offer.

7. What do you hope readers take away from this book? 
I hope readers can really take their time with this book. Second chances are out there, you just have to be patient and find a way if you really want it. Mana is one of those books that can teach you an array of things, just be open minded; you amazing readers already are! So no problem there. How about this? Read Mana and let me and everyone else know what you took away from the book!

8. Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite authors are a bit…old. I absolutely love Edgar Allen Poe! He opened me up to some really nice literature and brought the dark out of the light. Dark fantasy, and Mana, wouldn’t be what they are without his help. I’m also a huge (I can admit that) Twilight fan. The way she spun vamps into that amazing story made my eyes widen. Stephanie Myer earned a place on my favorite author list not just because of her story, but because she dared to stand out. Vamps will always remember what she did.

9. Do you have any interesting rituals or habits when you write?
I do! And it took my family a little while to get used to it. After about a year or so of me doing this, they were fine. When I write, I let the opening sequence for New Moon on Bluray play for hours and hours on end. You know, the one where the music plays and the characters swoosh from panel to panel. The music calms me and the scenery reminds me of the setting of Mana. It really puts me in my ideal mindset when I write. Golden Darkness, my title for the upcoming sequel to Mana gets a bit darker, so I upgraded to the Eclipse Bluray and now that plays for hours on end :D 

10. Can you tell us about any future projects? 
Golden Darkness is my new project. Eurich’s story was nowhere near closure at the end of book 1 and readers are really looking forward to how it ends…or continues! This book was started over a year ago, but since Mana was published, I haven’t had much time to get to it. Now, book 2 is screaming out to me! I’ve had so many experiences since then, the book kind of took a turn and I can tell in my writing. The story is equally as memorable as Mana and it will prove to be an awesome sequel! No updates so far, but stay tuned through Facebook and my blog. I am still writing it, so be patient with me.

Stay up to date on Asher Tensei and his books on his Website and Goodreads

Mana is available now from Amazon USAmazon UK, and Paramance

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Introducing: Asher Tensei

"Asher Tensei went to college for psychology, but later felt that writing was more his speed. 

He had an idea, and after the fruition of the Twilight Saga, he was sure that writing was a life-long passion. The ability to portray a world vividly in his writing meant that he could, in his mind, stand up to some of the big players in the young adult genre.

Asher decided to write in a genre dominated by female authors because he has something to prove: anyone can fit anywhere. Asher's emergence into the literary world introduces some new concepts in fantasy as well as unique values that make his novel hard to put down."

Stay up to date on Asher Tensei and his books on his Website and Goodreads

Mana is available now from Amazon USAmazon UK, and Paramance

Monday, March 18, 2013

New Book: Mana

This week I am welcoming to the blog Asher Tensei to tell us more about his new book, Mana

"Eurich is thrown into a seemingly ill-fated destiny. After learning of his legendary magic, he is convinced that he alone must stop an impending doom, but nothing is ever as it seems. His best friends Jason and Raine try their best to help him save the world, but help isn’t what he needs  —he needs a way across the barrier. 

Despite this fate thrust upon him, Eurich knows what is coming. The world is headed toward Chaos due to a weakening barrier between Earth and a world that has been hidden for millennia. 

Our world is about to take a sharp turn for the worse. Extra moons are rising in the sky, and panic is at an all-time high. Worst of all, there are no explanations.

Saving the world begins with a choice  —but is humanity worth him risking his own life?" 

You can also find out more by checking out the YouTube video for Mana. 

Stay up to date on Asher Tensei and his books on his Website and Goodreads

Mana is available now from Amazon US, Amazon UK, and Paramance

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Feature: Dead Girls Never Shut Up (Susan Stec)

Susan Stec's newest novel, Dead Girls Never Shut Up, is available now!

Not only that, you can enter to win an ebook copy of Dead Girls Never Shut Up this week from Susan Stec and The Edible Bookshelf. Keep reading to find out more about this very funny, and slightly twisted new YA paranormal novel. 

"Toni's grandmother is a psychopath.
Her sister is a ghost.
Her boyfriend is possessed.
And she has no idea who she is.
Summer vacation is ruined when Toni's twin sister, Sara, dies. Instead of walking into the light, Sara stomps directly away from it, totally pissed she didn't die in her skinny jeans. That's when Sara finds out their grandmother has a gift for talking to dead people, and two spritely spirits and a nasty soothsayer are all working their angle with Toni's future caught in between.
Dear old Granny's determined not to be the last necromancer in the family, but with the death of her promiscuous granddaughter, Sara, her only option is Toni, who must remain a virgin until her eighteenth birthday without any ghostly interference from Sara.
Sara's not having any of it; especially since the guy Granny's conspiring with is the same guy that assisted in Sara's demise. Toni needs help! But protecting her sister is complicating all the ghostly fun on the other side!
Can death stop a twin? Maybe not, but Granny knows Dead Girls Never Shut Up." 

Meet Susan Stec:

One's real life is so often the life that one does not lead~~Oscar Wilde

I've always been weird, even as a child—might've been influenced by all those fairies and trolls living in and around the streams behind Grandma's house. Or it could be because my mother has dreams that come true, grandma reads tarot cards, I talk to ghosts, and my daughter is two different (we all love them both) people.
I live with my husband (who is perfectly normal) and three King Charles spaniels (also normal) on 50 acres of woods, fields, and streams in upper Michigan.

Follow Susan on: Blog, Goodreads, Facebook, TwitterAmazon, and B&N

Dead Girls Never Shut Up is available now from Amazon.

You can also enter to win a free ebook copy this week! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, March 15, 2013

Review: Grilled, Chilled, and Killed

Emily Rhodes is still considered a "winter visitor" when it comes to the other Florida residents in town, but she's definitely earning her stripes in this book as she finds herself embroiled in barbecue competitions, running from feral pigs, and poking around in the secretive business of moonshine. Throw in a dead body and a romance that is more aggravation than anything else, and Emily is in for another wild mystery. 

The characters in this book catch your attention from the first chapter. Each one has a backstory that has shaped them, and hangups that occasionally interfere with their decisions. I enjoyed the interactions between the characters. The relationships were well written, complex enough to make them real, but not too overdramatic. 

The villains were especially memorable. I can see why Diehl kept Toby around from the first book. His pathetic qualities mixed with his desire for revenge and penchant for schemes made him a fun and dislikable bad guy. Mr. Smith was creepy and added the edge of fear the situation needed. The definitely made me concerned about Emily and her friends getting out of the situation unscathed. 

The romantic side of this book was quite well done. Emily has both Donald, the slightly odd bass fisherman, and Lewis, the detective who always seems to be stomping on her brilliant plans, both hanging on the edges of her life. Donald was a great character. He seems very straight forward at first, but Diehl does a good job of giving glimpses of a deeper character and potential for doing something truly memorable. Lewis was a fun character as well. He and Emily spend more time fighting with each other than anything, but the sexual tension behind much of their antagonism added a whole other layer that will keep readers intrigued. The interplay between them was very entertaining, and there was just the right amount of tension and giving in. The romance between them stayed fairly mild as far as graphic-ness, but it definitely kept readers attention in other ways. 

The mystery itself was crafted with a lot of thought. Emily goes back and forth between a few theories, and Lewis has his own guesses as well. Diehl did a good job of keeping readers focused on the events while throwing out clues here and there without giving too much away. I enjoyed following the characters through the mystery and stayed entertained and guessing throughout.

My only real complaint was that occasionally the fighting between Emil and Lewis was a little too much. I didn't always think Emily's reactions made sense, but it was a small matter of preference that didn't dull the story. There were some small editing issues, but again, they were small and didn't really detract from the story. This is a book that will appeal to murder mystery readers, romance readers, and crime drama readers. Some of the themes may not be appropriate for younger readers. 

Lesley Diehl invites readers to visit her on her blog and website.

Grilled, Killed, and Chilled is available now from Barnes and Noble and Amazon