*****HAPPY HALLOWEEN*****

Happy Halloween to everyone.

Tonight as we celebrate All Hallow’s Eve we hope you take a few minutes and tell us YOUR favorite HALLOWEEN story.

 

 

Many of us have stories from our childhood- funny stories, scary stories, Halloween jokes/rhymes, or your favorite candy, perhaps our favorite movie or song.

 

 

 

Did you have a favorite costume as a child?  Or do you remember what the most popular costume has been for the past few years? 

 

How about a few KINDLE deals for your Halloween reading pleasure.



The Dulcie O’Neill Set Books 1-3
by H.P. Mallory

Price: $2.99

 



Haunted Moon by K.B.Miller

Price: FREE

 

 

 

Blood and Snow Volumes 1-4
by RaShelle Workman
Price: .99 cents

 

 

 

We want to get the party started—-how about some ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW—-TIME WARP DANCE..anyone!!

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The Shattered Dark by Sandy Williams – a Review

The Shattered Dark by Sandy Williams – a Review


The Shattered Dark is Sandy Williams second book in her Shadow Reader series. I couldn’t wait to resume this wonderful series, and I have not been disappointed. Below is the description of this book, which is followed by my review.

Description:
McKenzie Lewis has a gift. It allows her access to a world few have seen, and even fewer can comprehend. It’s her secret. And it exists in the shadows…

McKenzie was a normal college student, save for one little twist: she’s a shadow reader, someone who can both see the fae and track their movements between our world and the Realm. It’s a gift for which she has been called insane, one for which she has risked family and friends—and one that has now plunged her into a brutal civil war between the fae.

With the reign of the king and his vicious general at an end, McKenzie hoped to live a more normal life while exploring her new relationship with Aren, the rebel fae who has captured her heart. But when her best friend, Paige, disappears McKenzie knows her wish is, for now, just a dream. McKenzie is the only one who can rescue her friend, but if she’s not careful, her decisions could cost the lives of everyone she’s tried so hard to save.

Review:

Sandy Williams does a great job continuing this series.  If you have read the Shadow Reader, or my The Shadow Reader review, then you know the bases of the story.  If you have  not, then be forewarned there will be spoilers to the storyline of this series, not necessarily to The Shattered Dark

When we last left off in The Shadow Reader, our heroine McKenzie had turned her loyalties to the rebels, as she realized she had been lied to all those years by the King, and Kyol, the King’s swordmaster, she presumed she loved.  McKenzie is a Shadow Reader, who can direct the Fae to where their enemies are, just by reading their shadows. 

In The Shattered Dark, McKenzie is now with the rebels, who have rightfully come into power.  But the war goes on, as the remnants left over from the King’s rule try to stop the former rebels from taking over.  Lena is now the Queen, and Aren and Kyol are her two top men in the court.  We knew at the end of the Shadow Reader that McKenzie had fallen hard for Aren, her former kidnapper, though she still has some feelings for Kyol. 

There is no triangle, as everyone knows that Aren and McKenzie are together, and Aren loves her very much. Kyol steps back, even though he feels he loves McKenzie, but understands how by working for the King and lying to her, he lost her, and now he puts all his energy into supporting the new court, with the new Queen. 

This continues to be a fantastic world created by Williams, with the Faes, and humans.  It is an exciting story, with the sides turned, and McKenzie life still very much in danger.  But in this story, Mckenzie’s human best friend has been kidnapped by the remnants, and McKenzie is determined to find her.  She risks her life a number of times, with Aren having to save her.   When Paige is finally found, surprises, twists, betrayals and danger set the tone for the rest of the story.  Through all of this, I totally loved Aren and McKenzie together.  They made such a great couple, and not without problems.  Aren is totally committed to McKenzie, but though she knows she loves him, she is afraid, as she being human, doesn’t know if she wants to stay in the world of the faes.  McKenzie wants a normal life, but she also knows Aren is committed to help his Queen.  Of course there is the element that McKenzie’s life is always in danger.

So much happens in this story, especially in the last half.  The fighting, danger, lives at risk, and as I said betrayals that will cause heartache.  They all work together, to help Lena, who is the true heir to the crown.  Just when you think things are about to calm down, as the tide begins to turn in favor of the new court, we are hit with a bomb of a twist. 

I really enjoyed this book, and I am invested into this wonderful series by Sandy Williams.  Now with this surprisingly twist, I have to wait for the next book, and even tough this is not a cliffhanger, I need the next book  NOW.  I must also make it my business to have a talk with the aforementioned Ms. Williams….  Want to know why???  Read the book.   

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

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Phantom Warriors: RIOT (Phantom Warriors #6) by Jordan Summers- a review

PHANTOM WARRIORS: RIOT (Phantom Warriors #6) by Jordan Summers

PHANTOM WARRIORS: RIOT is the 6th novella (August 30, 2012 release) in Jordan Summers’ Phantom Warriors novella series. Phantom Warriors is a race of alien shape-shifters from the planet Zaron. Without enough women for mates, the Phantom Warriors have been sent to Earth by King Eros in search of suitable mates. As a member of Claw Clan, Riot is one of the largest shape-shifters on Zaron-his other form is the bear.

When his previous encounters with Earth’s women were not successful in finding a mate, Riot knew the King would not give up so easily. Determined that each of his warriors would find his match, King Eros ordered Riot back to Earth and he wasn’t to return without a female. But his sheer size and power frightened most of Earth’s females and it was becoming difficult to get anyone to stop long enough to talk. But when he found a young woman running for her life, Riot knew that maybe he had found the one woman on earth that would be his mate.

Nina Whitetail is a veterinarian who has taken on a crusade to save the black bear from the hunters and poachers in her small town near Olympic National Park. On the eve on her best friend’s wedding Nina and Kim (against better judgment) took off into the forest armed with wire cutters hoping to dismantle some of the bear traps used to ensnare the animals. But Nina would become the prey when the hunters discovered that Nina was the one who tampered with their traps.

Meanwhile Nina’s grandfather, a Cherokee Shaman and Elder was dying. His cancer had progressed so that he only had a few days to live, and Nina’s relationship with the old man was very close. But Mr. Whitetail had a vision and told Nina that one day she would meet the Great Bear and the Bear would take her to the stars, from where she would never return. Thinking her grandfather’s cancer had finally claimed his mind Nina chose to take the vision as the ramblings of his ravaged brain. But when she is finally rescued by a monstrous sized talking bear Nina soon realizes that she has either lost her mind or her grandfather’s vision has come true.

The PHANTOM WARRIOR is a series of short stories and novellas. An interesting premise with a mix of both paranormal and science fiction, that takes a different look at the shape-shifting storyline. If you like the shape shifter genre, you will probably like the Phantom Warrior series. Jordan Summers tells a tale similar to many paranormal storylines, but adds her own twist with the addition of an alien animal shifter.

LINKS TO ORDER: Amazon / Barnes and Noble / KOBO /

Reviewed by Sandy

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An Interview with Sandy Williams

An Interview with Sandy Williams

The Reading Cafe is happy to have Sandy Williams as our guest today. Before we meet Sandy, let’s find out more about her.

Sandy graduated from Texas A&M University with a double major in political science and history. She thought about attending law school. Fortunately, before handing over her life’s savings, she realized case studies weren’t nearly as interesting as novels and decided to get an MA in Library Science instead. She worked as a librarian until her husband whisked her off to London on an extended business trip. She’s now back home in Texas, writing full-time, raising twin boys, and squeezing in time to play geeky board and card games like Settlers of Catan, Dominion, and Runebound.

Let’s begin our Interview.
Hi Sandy.  Thank you for taking the time today, to answer some questions for your fans at The Reading Café.  We are always looking forward to reading about the author behind the book.

TRC: Would you please tell us something about yourself? 

Sandy: Sure! I’m the author of The Shadow Reader, my first published book. I write urban fantasy with strong romantic subplots and have hopes to also write science fiction romance. I’m also a big fan of epic fantasies like the Lies of Locke Lamorra by Scott Lynch and The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, so those books influence my writing as well.

I’ve been a reader all my life and still love to curl up with a good book. I don’t get to read as much as I would like to anymore because of deadlines and my twin boys, but it’s still my favorite way to unwind.

TRC: Did you always have an interest in writing?  When and how did you first start writing?

Sandy: Yes, I’ve played around with writing since elementary school, when I started (but never finished) writing and illustrating (I’m so NOT an artist!) my first book called The Adventures of Yoyo and Dodo in… Walt Disney World! I planned to write a series of books about those two calico cats and the trouble they got into.

I don’t think I finished a chapter of that book, but I kept writing off and on. It was a hobby throughout high school and college. I always wanted to publish a book, but I didn’t think of writing as a career option until after college. That’s when I became determined to actually finish a book. And that’s when I started researching how to get published. I learned so much while I was struggling to finish my first book, and I met some really fabulous aspiring authors, too. I’m grateful for the rejection letters I received because they gave me time to learn the craft of writing and to develop those friendships.

TRC: Your have quite a resume with doubling in Political Sciences and History, as well as your Masters in Library Science.  Have you been able to apply any of your acquired knowledge into your writing?

Sandy: I don’t think there’s anything specific that I’ve applied to my writing, but having a general love of history and politics has helped me develop some of the conflicts in my stories. I love to add in a political dimension to my books – not too much because that can quickly become cumbersome and boring.

TRC: How were you notified that The Shadow Reader was to be published?  What was your reaction when you saw your first published book?

Sandy: Oh, that was such a horrible day! It ended up being one of the best days of my life, of course, but I remember being so upset I almost didn’t answer my phone when my agent called.

A bunch of different things were piling up on me, and I was fighting with my stupid laptop which refused to burn a CD I needed to send to a doctor. I was close to tears before I answered my agent’s call, and when she told me we had an offer, all I could say was, “Really?” I must have said really a hundred times in five minutes. Afterwards, I called my husband. I started crying so hard when I tried to tell him I had an offer, so I ended up just saying, “I’m okay. I’m okay,” between tears because I didn’t want him to think somebody had died!

It didn’t seem real. Even a year later, when I saw my book sitting on a shelf at Barnes & Noble, I could hardly believe it. I’m not sure I even believe it now. I know this is cliché, but it’s totally a dream come true.

TRC: You consider your writing genre as Urban Fantasy.  How do you explain to someone-what is Urban Fantasy literature?

Sandy: My super short answer – the one I use most often because people’s eyes tend to glaze over with the long answer – is that urban fantasy books contain magic or magical beings that live and work in the real world. There are, of course, many subgenres of urban fantasy, but I think the short definition covers them all pretty well.

TRC: THE SHADOW READER, released in October 2011, is your first URBAN FANTASY book to be published.  Will you tell us something about the premise of the book?

Sandy: The Shadow Reader is about McKenzie, a fairly normal human who gets caught up in a fae civil war. I always stress the “fairly normal” part of the premise because, when I was writing the book, it was important to me to make McKenzie act and think like any twenty-six year old college student would. I hope that makes readers identify with her more.

I think McKenzie’s normalness makes her unique to the genre, though. Most women in urban fantasy are physically strong. They kick the bad guys’ butts up and down the street, cast powerful spells, or summon demons to do their dirty work. McKenzie gets her butt kicked more than she kicks butt, but that doesn’t stop her from fighting for her friends and for what she believes in. She’s strong mentally and emotionally.

She does have a special ability, though. Not only can she see the fae, but she can track them when they fissure – or teleport – from one place to another by reading their shadows. McKenzie is the best at what she does – the fae she tracks are almost always captured or killed – but she thinks her ability is overrated when compared to the magics of the fae.

TRC: Will you tell us about the premise of the Shadow Reader series?   How did you come up with the idea for this series, and how long did it take for you to write this book? 

Sandy: The book originated from one scene that had been stuck in my head for a few years: I saw a girl dangling over the side of a building. Her grip was slipping, and the only way she could save her life was to accept help from her enemy, who was grinning down at her.

I intended that scene to be part of a science fiction romance novel, where the heroine had the special ability to track spaceships when they disappeared into another galaxy. But I was on an urban fantasy reading kick, and I’d just finished writing a vampire book, so I decided, what the heck. Let’s see if this works as a UF.

I’m so glad I made it work! Once I started writing the first scene of The Shadow Reader, the rest of the book flowed.

Well, it sort of flowed. It took me a year to write it, and that’s not counting the revisions I did for my agent and later for my editor. I’ve been averaging a book a year for the last four years. I’m hoping to increase that rate to two books a year in 2013.

 

TRC: THE SHATTERED DARK will be the 2nd novel in this series to be released October 30, 2012.  Will you tell us something about the premise of this book, and what is in store for McKenzie Lewis?

Sandy: At the end of The Shadow Reader, McKenzie has hopes that the violence in the Realm will settle down and that she’ll be able to live a more normal, less chaotic life. But two weeks after the big fight at the Silver Palace, she learns that her best friend, a human who knows nothing about the fae or the Realm, has been abducted by her enemies. McKenzie has to get her back, and she has to find a way to end the new wave of violence that’s threatening the life of the fae
she loves.

LINKS TO PRE-ORDER
Amazon / The Book Depository /Barnes and Noble

TRC: How many books do you have planned for The Shadow Reader series?

Sandy: I’m a big fan of trilogies, so I have one more book planned in The Shadow Reader series. No title or details yet, but it should come out in the late fall of 2013.

TRC: With your first series being Urban Fantasy, have you considered writing another series, under a different genre?

Sandy: I’d love to write science fiction romance. To me, it’s like writing urban fantasy that’s set in space. And since my books always contain a romantic subplot, I can see me one day being published as paranormal romance as well.   

TRC: What are you working on today?

Sandy: I’m working on the third Shadow Reader novel. It’s due in November. I’ll probably take a writing break in December then work on copy edits. After that, it’s on to something new! 

TRC: Many authors have friends or family, that they bounce ideas and information back and forth.  Is your husband involved with your writing process? 

Sandy: My husband would probably rather not be involved in my writing process, but I occasionally give him a page or two to read to see if a scene did what I wanted it to do, and he always reads my books when I finish them.

I don’t really bounce ideas off of anyone unless you count my agent and editor. Their feedback is invaluable. They definitely make the finished books better than the first drafts!

TRC: Do you have a favorite author or book that has inspired you? 

Sandy: I’m a huge, huge fan of Linnea Sinclair. She writes science fiction romance that appeals to the urban fantasist in me. And I’ve also fallen in love with Joanna Bourne’s historical romances. Pretty much all of the books I rave about have a strong romance in them. It’s weird. Five, six years ago, nothing I read had romance in it, but once I started reading them, I couldn’t go back to the straight sci-fi or straight fantasy books. I always feel like they’re missing something.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Sandy: I’d just like to say thanks for having me! I really respect and appreciate bloggers and book reviewers – you all do so much for authors. And, as a reader, I love reading your
opinions and getting recommendations.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Favorite Food: Freebirds Burritos!

Favorite Dessert: Soft chocolate chip cookies!

Favorite TV Show: Downton Abbey. Sooo good!

Favorite Movie: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

Last Book You ReadReady Player One by Ernest Cline

Favorite Fictional Character (not your own): Tyrion Lannister. So clever and sarcastic!

Milk or Dark Chocolate: Milk chocolate. Yum!

Thank you Sandy, for taking the time to answer our questions.  We wish you the best of luck with The Shattered Dark.  Please keep us informed about your upcoming new releases, as we look forward to seeing you again.

 If you would like to learn more about Sandy, you can visit her at the following links.

Website: http://sandy-williams.com/
Twitter:
Facebook:
Goodreads:
Sandy has graciously offered to give a member of The Reading Café a chance to win a copy of The Shattered Dark.

1.  You must be a member at The Reading Cafe. If you are not a member, please register using the Log-In at the top of the page, or by using one of our social log-ins.

2.  If you are using a social log-in e.g. Twitter, please leave your email address along with your comment.

3.  Giveaway open to U.S. Only

4.  Contest runs from October 30th – November 3rd.


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An Interview with Elise Marion

An Interview with Elise Marion


The Reading Cafe is happy to welcome Elise Marion as our guest today.

Elise is here to talk to us about her books, as well as telling us a bit about herself.

Let’s meet Elise.

Hi Elise.  Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions today. We are always looking forward to reading about the author behind the book.

TRC: Will you please tell us about yourself?

Elise: Thank you so much for having me today! I’m just a girl from a small town who loves books and the written word. I’m a young mother of 2 and Army wife who spends her time at home balancing the housework and mom work with writer work.

TRC: Have you always been interested in writing?

Elise: I think that it definitely began as a love for reading. I was that kid on the playground sitting in the sandbox with their nose in a book. After a while, the flair for storytelling came out and I’ve been writing since I was 12. Throughout high school I discovered romance…although I had to hide them from my disapproving parents…and penned a bunch of very cheesy stories back in those days. I’m still at it, although hopefully with a lot less ‘cheese’.

TRC: Is there anything (in general) you find particularly challenging about writing?

Elise: I think the difficult part, at least for me, is those moments when things just aren’t flowing. Call it writer’s block if you want, but there are just times when I have to walk away from the computer and take a personal day. There are days when everything that comes off of my keyboard is crap and I have to wipe a whole chapter clean and start over. The good thing about this, is that a writer can learn a lot in these moments. By going back and fixing our mistakes or reworking  bad scene, even when we’re emotionally attached to it, we can grow and become better. It also takes a lot to walk away from a project long enough to get some perspective if its needed. Critique partners are also a big help. Criticism is definitely needed. A writer just can’t stay inside their little bubble and revel in how great they think they are. At the end of the day it’s not about how great you think you are, but how great others think your work is. Trust me, the ego shows if not properly checked.

TRC: What is your writing process?  Do you like to write at specific times, in a special place?

Elise: I don’t have the leisure of a writing process. With a houseful of kids, dogs, and a rowdy husband, I have to do what I can. My favorite time of day is naptime because both my kids are asleep and the house is quiet. I do a lot of late night writing too, but if I need to get work done, I have no problem with writing in the midst of the chaos. I have learned how to tune it out when necessary.

TRC: What was your first novel that you published, and can you please describe your reactions when you saw your first book published?

Elise: My first book was ‘The Third Son’, the Historical/Fantasy that started the series we’re discussing today. That book is my baby. I worked on that book for over a year, even picking it back up when a thumb drive wiped out the first half of the book after months of writing. That was a pretty crushing defeat, but I didn’t stop. I wrote that book and couldn’t wait to publish it. My mistake was in getting my hopes too high, I think. The big house publishers are out to make money, and are more interested in moving ‘units’ then getting behind unique stories. If they can’t find a ‘market’ or fit your book into a ‘genre’ then they aren’t going to take the chance that they could lose money on you. And in this economy, they are taking even fewer risks. I have a feeling that if I had made this book a regency and turned my Prince into a Duke, I could have got it sold. But I stuck with what I had created because I believed in it, even though it got me about a year’s worth of rejection letters from agents and publishers.

Fast forward to June 2011 when I received a Kindle at my baby shower. I downloaded so many independently published books that it got me curious about how one got into the business of publishing themselves. Needless to say, after researching and weeks of preparation I got that baby on Amazon. Let me tell you, it’s a heady feeling. That moment when I did an Amazon search for my name and that book popped up brought me to tears. It’s been a roller coaster ride ever since, with me writing full time at home and working to carve out a name for myself in this industry. I’ve never been happier.

TRC: The Lady Knight of Barony is a set of three novellas, which is part of the Kings of Cardenas series. We understand Gypsy Rose will be the next book in this series.  How many books do you plan in this series, and how did you come up with the idea for this series?

Elise: ‘The Third Son’ was written as a standalone. I had intended to move on to something else when it was finished, but then the secondary characters started to talk to me. They wanted their stories told! What followed was The Second Son, The Lady Knights of Barony, and now, hopefully by the end of this year, Gypsy Rose. I plan to go up to 6 books, telling the story of each major secondary character introduced in the first book.

It all started with a prince, the hero of The Third Son. In my mind I got this vision of a man who is unbelievably gorgeous, rich, and has everything, but in his heart, nothing. It isn’t until he meets a Gypsy girl that his life begins to mean something, and by that time a plot against the royal family threatens to wreck his life as he knows it. Around these two, I created a fictional kingdom with a decadent, European feel. This world came alive to me and I wasn’t ready to leave it. So I continued the story through the eyes of others and it became bigger than I ever thought it would. I never thought it would lead to a 6 book series.

TRC: Would you please tell us the premise behind The Lady Knights of Barony?

Elise: Anybody who has read ‘The Second Son’, book 2 in the series, was introduced to the lady’s regiment. The kingdom of Barony was at war, those loyal to the crown versus the rebels wanting to overthrow the government. For their part in winning that war, four women were knighted for their bravery—the very first females of the realm to hold the titles. Their land is at peace and they are settling into their lives, still together as a unit.

Trouble comes when a rash of kidnappings spreads out over the kingdom. When their captain is taken, the ladies are fighting for their lives, their sisterhood, and individually, for love. Each of these strong-willed women will learn that following your heart does not make you weak. Quite the opposite, as it takes great strength to truly love someone.

What I loved most about writing this book, is the multicultural characters. I did a lot of research on women warriors of the past and based the African and Japanese characters on the Dahomey Amazons and Japanese onna bugeisha (female equivalent of the samurai), respectively. The rich cultural flavor added into this book gripped me and I tried to pour as much as I learned into it as I could. I wanted people to know where these women came from, to see true feminine strength in them. It was definitely the most challenging, but also the most fun, aspect of writing this book.

TRC: You have written in many genres.. Historical,Paramormal, Contemporary and Erotic Romance.  Do you have a preference between them?  Which of these genres do you find most difficult to write?

Elise: Historical is definitely my first love. It is always my first genre of choice when buying books. There is just something that appeals to me about a world where women were ladies and men were gentlemen. The opulence of nobility and royalty is of particular interest to me, as you will find when you read the Kings of Cardenas series.

I do write a little bit of everything, as I am a person who is very eclectic and I love variety.

TRC: What are you currently working on?

Elise: I am working on the last book in my Paranormal series, ‘Angels Among Us’. That particular series is a trilogy of novels about love between angels and humans.

I am also working on ‘Gypsy Rose’, the next book in the Kings of Cardenas series.

I like to work on more than one project at a time to keep things interesting. I can typically write a novella at the same time as a novel if I alternate between the two. It all depends on my mood at the time.

TRC: Many authors bounce ideas with family and friends.  With whom do you bounce ideas?

Elise: I am very fortunate to have a group of very talented authors as friends. There are three in particular that I work with a lot. We send each other our books and do critiques, we beta-read each other’s work, we gripe about bad reviews and laugh over the funny things we see online. It’s important to have these kinds of people around, I think. Every writer should have at least one confidant. We help each other to grow, keep each other at the top of our game. There is no competition there, even though we write in the same genres. It’s all love and support.

TRC: What books, authors or people in your life have influenced your writing?

Elise: I think I have been heavily influenced by the Historical greats: Johanna Lindsey, Virginia Henley, Julia Quinn, Julie Garwood, just to name a few. As far as books go, I don’t think they influence so much as they inspire.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Favorite Food: Italian

Favorite Dessert: My aunt’s peach cobbler

Favorite Author: Julia Quinn

Favorite Novel: The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Favorite Movie: Chicago

Favorite TV Show: Grey’s Anatomy

Milk or Dark Chocolate: Dark, of course!

Thank you Elise, for answering our questions. The Reading Café wishes you the best of luck with The Lady Knights of Barony, as well as your upcoming books.

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The Lady Knights of Barony by Elise Marion – a Review

The Lady Knights of Barony by Elise Marion – a Review

Written by Elise Marion, three courageous women make up the The Lady Knights of Barony.  Each warrior gets her own short story replete with personal hardship/turmoil, background/motivation and the unexpected bliss that turns their worlds upside down. 

The Hellion

Lady Ava Longley of Barony earned her knighthood (lady hood?).  The only daughter of Barony’s most skilled blacksmith, Ava was a miracle birth after 3 failed pregnancies.  Recognizing Ava as their personal miracle, mom & dad taught her how to protect and defend herself from all threats. When tragedy strikes their village, a rebel invasion led by Dorian Blake, French fiend and abductor of women, Ava is forced to utilize the skills taught her and defend her mother’s life.  On this day, a lady warrior was born.

Julian Vincent has managed to earn a reputation for nefarious assignments; he “gets things done”.  Hired by Dorian Blake, Ew!, to kidnap Ava, Julian is fraught with more than a little trepidation.  Julian is certain Ava has done nothing to “deserve” Blake; she has merely become his source of interest; a trophy of sorts.  Before long, travelling in such close proximity en route to Blake’s ship, The Raven, Julian and Ava explore their friendship, discover an ardent passion for one another and converge on a mutual mission against Blake (you didn’t think he’d still turn over Ava, did you?):  Retrieve Ava’s fellow Lady Knight, Mudiwa, who was apprehended by Blake’s thugs and is being held for ransom in exchange for Ava.  As the Captain of the Lady Knights, Ava pursues Blake obstinately and will not rest until Mudiwa is returned alive (actually falling into Blake’s plans).  Thankfully, and most importantly, Julian remains steadfast at Ava’s side, achieves more than his “half-noble” parts promised, and wholly commits himself to Ava.  I had to cut down on the “swoons” to provide more details, but that he is — trust me on this! 

The Beloved

Captured by Dorian Blake’s thugs in an effort to lure in Ava, Blake’s principal interest, Mudiwa is forced to remain aboard The Raven sailing for Martinique.  Having survived a life under the thumb of her husband, the King of Dahomey, who separated her from her true love (when he already had at least 1,000 other wives!), Mudiwa will be sold on the sex slave market. 

Riiiight…here’s where Mudiwa’s warrior skills demand her freedom!  Mudiwa manages to escape Blake’s clutches just as he’s about to rape her, but not without suffering a brutal beating.  A half-unconscious Mudiwa succumbs to her injuries after searching for refuge in the heart of the city and awakens to meet Isaac Prideux IV, the man who indelibly alters her life.  

About to inherit the most profitable plantation in Martinique, and thoroughly ruin his life, Isaac longs to escape his own hellish destiny where his fortune is earned at the hands of the disenfranchised.  Slavery has been abolished, but fear and loathing among the classes remains fertile in the fields.  Isaac dreams of a better future.  A hopeful one when Mudiwa enters his home.

When the bruises start to fade, their friendship begins to blossom.  Their admiration for one another deepens, but their attraction, while magnetic, remains unrevealed for fear of rejection.  This story was the most romantic; delivered in swoon-worthy glances and unending yearning.  Facing adversity and the ghosts of the past, Isaac and Mudiwa thrive in their differences and escape together this time. 

The Accidental Groom

When Dorian Blake returns home bearing more wounds by the Lady Knights of Barony (epic sword fight against Ava at the end of Mudiwa’s story!), who but Hanako’s vindictive ex-husband awaits him with a proposition?  Dorian is a beacon for all things evil.

Hanako’s past is catching up with her.  On her wedding night to a formidable Samurai warrior who would dominate Hanako and strip her of her own warrior skills, not to mention her clothes to get her with child, Hanako realizes she has to act fast:  Escape her husband before they consummate their marriage – after a year, her country will grant her a dissolution.  Hanako lands in Barony, finds kindred spirits in Ava and the other lady knights and leaves her husband in the past.  Why can’t things just stay this happy?  Because there’s strength in the struggle!

With the aid of the despicable Blake, Hanako’s ex-husband researches her whereabouts and slowly, but steadily stalks her.  Enter Garrick Overton, member of Barony’s High Council and future hero of Hanako’s.  Facing her ex at a ball hosted by the Queen of Barony (and lady knight, but on hiatus because of her pregnancy), Hanako lies and tells him she’s already married and will never return to Japan as his wife.  Better back up that statement, Hanako!  Dashing away and secreting herself into a room where Garrick was waiting to share a word with the King, “Kiss me”, cries Hanako.  Garrick not only obliges happily, he is a gentleman, but he quickly inserts himself into Hanako’s scheme and becomes her all-too willing husband.  Swoon.          

A common threat and enemy affecting all the lady knights, Dorian Blake is barely in Hanako’s story (he’s healing from the confrontation with Ava), but this character is more than meets the eye.  He’s got an alias and everything!  I know I had an “Einhorn/Finkel” moment when the pieces came together.  Yes, I did just quote from Ace Ventura:  Pet Detective. Think of me when you get to this discovery!   😀

Sometimes reviews just flow out of me because the material is just that good.  That was what I intended to accomplish here.  Not as easy as I thought when each character is worthy of her own full-length book.  Can you imagine how much longer my review would be then?  I know…you’d be sick of me.  Buy this book.  The Lady Knights of Barony are triumphant women who have rightfully earned their titles and HEAs.  I look forward to reading the next installment of the Cardenas series.  Since Dorian Blake was still living…there’s still hope he’ll receive justice at the hands of the Lady Knights of Barony!      

Reviewed by Carmen

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The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams – a Review

The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams – a Review

The Shadow Reader is Sandy Williams’ debut novel, which takes place in a modern urban fantasy world.  Williams does an awesome job pulling you into the story almost immediately.  McKenzie Lewis is our heroine, and when you start the book, McKenzie is taking an exam. She is determined to complete the test, even though she sees people waiting for her and pushing her to leave and go with them. In a classroom filled with students, only McKenzie can see them.  Why you ask?  They are the Fae, and only McKenzie has the ability to see them.  McKenzie gets up to leave, as she is warned by the Fae Warrior Kyol, that the rebels have found her, and her life is in danger.  So McKenzie goes with him, as she normally does, and leaves her classroom into a fight to run for her safety against a band of Fae rebels, who want McKenzie. 

McKenzie is a unique human, she is a Shadow Reader, those who have the ability to see the Fae, and see their shadows to be able to track them from a distance, as they teleport (fissure) between realms.  McKenzie has been helping the Fae court, since she was recruited at sixteen years old, which is now 10 years. Kyol, the swordmaster for the King of the Court, has been her partner, protector and her secret love.  A love that is forbidden, and cannot be consummated, by the rules of the court and their King.  We learn from the start that there is a war going on between the rebels, who want to oust the King of the Court.

As McKenzie runs for her life, the court and rebel faes fight on campus.  She is then captured by the rebels and forced to “fissure” wherever they are taking her.  This is very painful for McKenzie, as humans are not meant to teleport in such manner, but a fae stone helps protect her through the fissure.  McKenzie is a tough heroine, as she fights the rebels all the way, putting herself in much danger. The rebels are divided as to whether to kill McKenzie, as she is a danger to them, constantly revealing their whereabouts to the Court warriors.  She is hated when brought to the rebel compound, but Aren, who is the rebel leader, wants her alive. He is convinced he can turn her to help them use her ability against the court, not to mention he is somewhat intrigued by her.

McKenzie is tough, and a very stubborn heroine.  She spent 10 years believing everything the court and Kyol told her about the evil rebels.  So her loyalty is totally with the court.  But this is a war, and McKenzie is right in the middle of it, without much help from the rebels, who as I noted are openly unfriendly with her.  She tries numerous times to escape, injuring herself often.  Aren is the one who helps her, and tries to get her to see the other side, that perhaps she has been lied to all these years.  But McKenzie, who loves Kyol, believes in him and refuses to listen to Aren. 

As the court and Kyol are desperately trying to find McKenzie, the rebels are constantly under attack by the court warriors or human fae haters.  Slowly, and believe me when I say slowly, as McKenzie is way too stubborn to open her eyes, she begins to see another light, as to maybe she is wrong.  We get to meet and know Aren, through all of this, and as nice as Kyol is, I totally fell for Aren.  McKenzie begins to feel some attraction, which she fights off, as Aren constantly protects or saves her. At one point, he gives up and her life is at risk.   The scenes with a stubborn McKenzie and a frustrated Aren are tense, and very well done.   But as the war continues, she learns things that make her question her 10 years with the court & the King, whom the rebels want to replace.

Sandy Williams does a wonderful job with this worldbuilding, and giving us a fascinating and intriguing world of the fae.  She has also put in a wonderful love triangle, without any sex, but so well done. The story does not leave this open, as so much happens in the last 1/3 of the book to change things, for all concerned.  Of course, we do not know if things will change with the next book. 

The Shadow Reader was a wonderful, action filled book, with many tense moments.  The lead characters, such as McKenzie, Aren, Kyol and many other great secondary characters were wonderfully created by Williams.  I cared for them all.  Williams again does a fantastic job of putting closures to many of the stories, and yet leaving things open to continue with the next book…The Shattered Dark.  I cannot wait for the this book to find out more of McKenzie and the faes of this wonderful world.

Reviewed by Barb

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Nalini Singh Cover Reveal

Nalini Singh Cover Reveal

 

WILD INVITATION: A PSY-CHANGELING COLLECTION BY NALINI SINGH

In “Beat of Temptation“, innocent Tamsyn has always had a place in her heart for Nathan, a blooded DarkRiver sentinel. But is she ready for the fierce demands of the mating bond?

In “Stroke of Enticement”, a wary young teacher, skeptical about love, arouses the man—and the animal—in an aggressive leopard changeling who must prove his affections are true.

Plus NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED In “Declaration of Courtship, Grace, a shy submissive wolf, finds herself pursued by the last man she ever would have imagined: a SnowDancer lieutenant said to be “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.” Plus NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED

In Texture of Intimacy, SnowDancer healer Lara discovers the searing joys—and unexpected challenges—of being mated to quiet, powerful Walker, a man used to keeping his silence.

Releasing: MARCH 2013

Source: Nalini Singh’s Facebook Page

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