Give me magic, gadgets, monsters, zombies, everything that seems impossible, and throw in some tough chicks with swords. That's the stuff.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Guest Post: 10 Things about Mandy Baxter

Today Mandy Baxter is here with her new steamy Romantic Suspense ONE NIGHT MORE. She's also sharing 10 things about her and has a GIVEAWAY!

The blurbage: "Savvy, hard-riding, rule-breaking—they’ll go anywhere and do anything it takes to protect and serve. But this U. S. Marshal has just met his match—and playing for keeps is one sizzling game…

Getting saved from disaster by a handsome stranger—Harper Allen has no problem with that. But when he leaves without a word or a clue to his real identity, the newbie reporter writes it off as the best one-night-stand she’ll never have again. Until a year later, when Harper comes face to face with the man assigned to hide her from a senator’s killer…

Galen Kelly hasn’t forgotten a single sensual minute of his night with Harper... or that she betrayed him. But with the FBI also on their trail, he’s got to pretend he’s never met her or risk both their lives. But as danger closes in, Galen may not be able to protect himself from taking the biggest risk of all…"

My take: This was a fun, quick read. You know I usually go for a few more monsters, aliens or fantasy elements, but this one had a lot of action which is generally what I look for when I read contemporary romance. True, there are some misunderstandings, but the dangerous situation as well as the believable trust issues kept it from becoming the annoying BIG MISUNDERSTANDING. It can be a tough balancing act, to keep the miscommunication at a level where it creates drama but doesn't alienate the reader.

Oh sure, I still had moments where I wanted to yell at both characters but thankfully it was at the same time the secondary characters were also admonishing our leads, so it worked out. It was also fast-paced, so the story moved along at a good clip. The burgeoning friendship and the adorable text exchanges were among my favorite parts.

I also loved the easter eggs. Like Harper, I too enjoyed Full Blooded. I also agree with her stance on Marvel superheroes and Supernatural. Like I said, fun read. It's also a little different from my usual reads, so it makes for a good palate cleanser between heavier fantasy works (I'm always on the lookout for those). I liked the supporting characters too, so I'll check out the next book in the US Marshals series.

Now it's time for Mandy to take over and tell us a few things about herself. There is also a GIVEAWAY, so check out the details below.

Ten Things About Me



I’m a rabid soccer mom/soccer fan.
Not the breaking kneecaps or sabotaging referees kind, though I have been known to shout “Go home, ref! You’re drunk!” on at least one occasion. Also, during the World Cup this summer, I might have jumped out of my chair at a local restaurant and screamed whenever Argentina made a goal.

I love the water.
Streams, rivers, lakes, oceans, even puddles. I love the sound, the way it smells. Everything. I even love rain. I once had an astrologer do my chart and he told me that I would always live near water. I think he’s right. I can’t imagine not living near a lake or at least a creek.

I’m a theater/musical/ballet nut.
Even as a kid I loved all things dance/music/acting. I took ballet and drama, sang in my high school choir. I’m lucky that the hubs is a theater fan, too. I can get him to plays and musicals, no problem. I’m still working the ballet angle, though. For those events, I’m usually flying solo.

My ultimate thrill is driving fast.
I’m a super nervous flyer, heights make me nervous, and I wouldn’t go parasailing for a million dollars. Okay, maybe for a million dollars, but I wouldn’t enjoy it. And whereas I’m not much of a thrill seeker, I absolutely love to drive fast. I used to own a Subaru WRX and the first year I got six speeding tickets. I could totally be a race car driver. Vroom!

I’m an animal person.
I love animals. Anything that’s furry, scaly, or covered in feathers is going to get a cuddle from me. I draw the line at insects, though. Particularly spiders. Just…no. We own dogs, a cat, chickens, ducks, and geese. I have a goose that loves to be cuddled and he puts his neck up for hugs. When I scratch under his feathers he throws his head back and howls. It’s totally adorbs.

I’m a canner.
I’m not super domestic but I am a food preserving fool. We have a garden and greenhouse and a very short season to get fresh fruits and veggies. So, in the fall, I’m freezing and canning said veggies and fruits. It’s time consuming, but I figure when the zombie apocalypse hits, I’ll be set!

I sing in the car.
And probably annoy everyone who’s ever had to ride with me. I’m not usually a shy car singer, either. Nope, I belt it out. My current favorite sing in the car song is Amnesia by 5 Seconds of Summer. It’s actually the theme song for my novella, ROCKED BY THE BILLIONAIRE that will be out in December. It was the perfect ballad for the story.

I dance around the house.
In the same vein of singing in the car, I like to bust out a move in the middle of my living room whether there’s music or not. My seventeen year old son particularly loves it when I try my hand at breakdancing. Hehe.

I’m an amateur carpenter.
More to the point, the hubs and I are. Most of our home improvement projects are DIY jobs. Last year we built our greenhouse and this year we’re building a covered patio out back. Next year’s big plan is a detached office for me with a cellar below. I totally think I need a pink tool belt.

I’m a sucker for 90’s grunge and alternative.
How I long for the days of the flannel shirt! It drives the teen and hubs crazy but my radio station is more times than not tuned in to Lithium on Sirius. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Collective Soul, Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpinks, Bush. OMG, BUSH!! 90’s Gavin Rossdale is my dream man. I could gush for hours about my fave 90’s music.

And there you have it! Tell me one or two interesting facts about you....

Comment below for a chance to win a copy of ONE NIGHT MORE (US/Canada only). Winner announced September 26, 2014.

Thank you so much, Mandy!

ONE NIGHT MORE  Amazon | B&N | Kobo | BAM | Indiebound | Powell's

Mandy Baxter
twitter: https://twitter.com/MandyJBaxter

[received a review copy]

Friday, September 12, 2014

Review: RED BLOODED


RED BLOODED (Jessica McClain #4) by Amanda Carlson

I adore this series. It is action packed, has interesting characters, supernatural politics and an ever expanding universe. We've been all over, the city, a mountain, high-flying road chases, vampiric New Orleans, and now Jessica is on a rescue mission to Hell.

If you aren't up to date on the series you might find some spoilers ahead.

We start this latest adventure with Jessica and her ragtag band of supernaturals in training with Tally, the head witch. At the end of book 3, Tyler, Jessica's twin, was kidnapped by the Demon Prince. Jess and company are planning a rescue mission to the demon underworld and need to be prepared for demon magic. Of course, things do not go as planned. Jessica's magic is something different and neither she nor the witches know how to handle it. Jessica finds herself thrown into the demon world on her own and has to think fast to avoid capture.

I am a sucker for stories set in the demon world (for example, Diana Rowland's Kara Gillian books) and so I was super excited to see how Carlson approached the Underworld. I was not disappointed. It was appropriately icky, creepy & oddly pretty in parts. This is also one of the more action-packed books, closer to book 2's level. As a whole, this series is action-packed, but these two books take it up several notches.

This does mean that it's lighter on the romance angle, but that's fine for me. I like that this is a mated pair that is not attached at the hip 24/7. Jessica has skills and also a lot of learning she needs to accomplish, like yesterday. I like that she has a partnership with Rourke, albeit one that is still new and still needs to be worked on, but Jessica is not a damsel in distress.

We also have more allies and villains. Jessica has been making all kinds of deals, some good, some perhaps not so good. The Fate theme is explored even more here, and I don't want to spoil anything, but I will say that when it was all said and done I'm really interested in the way this story is going. Many possibilities and more challenges, of course.

I also like that although in book one we mostly had the boys club with the wolf pack and Jess, more and more female characters have come into play. Some heroes, some villains, some who knows. It's the variety I like. Of course, my other favs are there too. Ray is quickly becoming all kinds of interesting. A total transformation from his start in book 1.

Jess has been on so many journeys, surviving, fighting, defending, rescuing, and all the while learning and getting a crash course in supernatural politics. This isn't a series where it's a procedural with a mystery to solve. It's more of a step by step progression of a character's journey from more or less ordinary to extraordinary, with all of the bumps, bruises, mistakes and triumphs that come with it. Can't wait to see what happens next.

Buy RED BLOODED:  B&N | Kobo | BAM | Indiebound | Powell's | Amazon

Amanda Carlson
website: http://www.amandacarlson.com/
twitter: https://twitter.com/amandaccarlson
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authoramandacarlson

[received review copy]

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Joining the Pile on Tuesday

I was checking my pre-orders and noticed that four are coming out on Tuesday, September 2. These aren't the only books released that day, nor the only ones I want in September, but all of these were ones I knew I had to have.

FORGED BY DESIRE (London Steampunk #4) by Bec McMaster
This is one of my favorite paranormal romance series. The world is fantastic and I love how McMasters uses the vampire and werewolf myths. Dark, gritty, so good.

Blurbage: "Captain Garret Reed of the Nighthawk guard has a deadly mission: capture a steel-jawed monster preying on women. He hates to put his partner, Perry, in jeopardy, but she’s the best bait he has. Little does he realize, he’s about to be caught in his own trap.

Perry has been half in love with Garrett for years, but this is not exactly the best time to start a relationship—especially when their investigation leads them directly into the clutches of the madman she thought she’d escaped..."

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Indiebound | BAM | Powell's

ACCEPTANCE (Southern Reach Trilogy #3) by Jeff Vandermeer
I spent part of my summer in the Southern Reach, and it was creepy, intriguing, kept me up at night, kept me wondering who to trust. I can't wait to see where we go next and to what end.

Blurbage: "The final installment of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy

It is winter in Area X. A new team embarks across the border on a mission to find a member of a previous expedition who may have been left behind. As they press deeper into the unknown—navigating new terrain and new challenges—the threat to the outside world becomes more daunting. In Acceptance, the last installment of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, the mysteries of Area X may have been solved, but their consequences and implications are no less profound—or terrifying."

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Indiebound | BAM | Powell's


HOUSE IMMORTAL (House Immortal #1) by Devon Monk
Frankenstein with a twist, you say? And by Devon Monk? Why yes, please sign me up.

Blurbage:  "One hundred years ago, eleven powerful ruling Houses consolidated all of the world’s resources and authority into their own grasping hands. Only one power wasn’t placed under the command of a single House: the control over the immortal galvanized....

Matilda Case isn’t like most folk. In fact, she’s unique in the world, the crowning achievement of her father’s experiments, a girl pieced together from bits. Or so she believes, until Abraham Seventh shows up at her door, stitched with life thread just like her and insisting that enemies are coming to kill them all.

Tilly is one of thirteen incredible creations known as the galvanized, stitched together beings immortal and unfathomably strong. For a century, each House has fought for control over the galvanized. Now the Houses are also tangled in a deadly struggle for dominion over death—and Tilly and her kind hold the key to unlocking eternity

The secrets that Tilly must fight to protect are hidden within the very seams of her being. And to get the secrets, her enemies are willing to tear her apart piece by piece.…"

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Indiebound | BAM | Powell's


MAPLECROFT (The Borden Dispatches #1) by Cherie Priest
From the moment I read "Lizzie Borden and Lovecraft" I was, shall we say, screaming "HELLS YES!" I can't wait to read this book.

Blurbage: "Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks; and when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one....

The people of Fall River, Massachusetts, fear me. Perhaps rightfully so. I remain a suspect in the brutal deaths of my father and his second wife despite the verdict of innocence at my trial. With our inheritance, my sister, Emma, and I have taken up residence in Maplecroft, a mansion near the sea and far from gossip and scrutiny.

But it is not far enough from the affliction that possessed my parents. Their characters, their very souls, were consumed from within by something that left malevolent entities in their place. It originates from the ocean’s depths, plaguing the populace with tides of nightmares and madness.

This evil cannot hide from me. No matter what guise it assumes, I will be waiting for it. With an axe.

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Indiebound | BAM | Powell's

Friday, August 29, 2014

Guest Post: RIVER Blog Tour

Today, Skyla Dawn Cameron is here as part of the RIVER blog tour. I loved her UF vamp story BLOODLINES. RIVER is an older young adult werewolf tale that has an very cool twist.

The blurbage: "Description: Defiant, nocturnal, moody–though River sounds like a typical teenager, she’s anything but. She’s a werewolf.
The life of an alpha female wolf was irrevocably changed the night she was attacked and bitten, and awoke confused, alone, and human. Three years later, thrust into a world where she doesn’t belong and living in foster care, River barely tolerates humanity and still doesn’t know who bit her or why.

But River isn’t as alone as she previously thought; someone’s been watching her, someone who holds the answers she’s been seeking. Though the human who changed her seems to be a step ahead of her at every turn, River is determined to beat his game and return to her pack and mate.

And as if being stuck in a world she hates, with a life she never asked for, and faced with a destiny she doesn’t want wasn’t bad enough, River still must find a way to survive every human’s greatest challenge: high school."

Oooh, werewolf tale where the wolf is cursed to have to live as a human? I'm in.

I asked Skyla to talk about one of her favorite werewolf stories. Be sure to check out the GIVEAWAY too!

A Werewolf Twist: Ginger Snaps

You’ll notice the big prize in the River giveaway is a DVD/Blu-Ray combo Collector Edition of the film Ginger Snaps.

It’s an indie Canadian horror film from 2000, with a stellar cast and a smart script that twists a lot of typical werewolf tropes into something that’s darkly funny, horrific, and ripe for conversation.

Lycanthropy as a metaphor for losing control isn’t new—it’s explored repeatedly in films and literature, usually centered around a male protagonist. But when else do we feel less in control than during puberty? Right off the bat, Ginger Snaps tackles the metaphor head on, with two sisters as protagonists who are three years behind getting their periods and the night one of them surfs her first crimson wave, she is bitten by a werewolf. Talk about cursed.

The transformation, of course, follows a twenty-eight day lunar cycle, as the bitten sister Ginger grows more and more bold, irritable, violent, and...furry. This leaves her sister Brigitte to battling to save her.

Horror as a genre—one I love—is unfortunately one often seeped in misogyny, which is refreshingly not present in this film. The story is firmly placed on the shoulders of two sisters, their friendship, the strain of growing up and changing, and the promises they’ve made to each other all being given thought and weight. Female bonds are important, the film reaffirms, even if they’re fraught with problems. T&A is in the form of a tail and...um...well, picture a female animal’s torso, and you get the idea. And also? Practice safe sex. Viruses get passed when you don’t, even lycanthropy. And none of this sacrifices the psychological horror present in the movie or truly tense final showdown between a werewolf and the human sister trying to save her.

There have been some lengthy essays written on the movie, much more detailed and academic than my quick review here, but it all boils down to: horror fans tired of the usual clich├ęs and sexualized violence against women, you need to check this film out. (Bonus: any Orphan Black fans? You need to see Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed for a young Tatiana Maslany.)

So what’s your favourite werewolf movie?

Now on to the GIVEAWAY. (ONLY for US & Canada (due to the movie being Blu-Ray and the regions of Blu-Ray's and shipping costs over seas). The prizes are listed below. Use the Rafflecopter to enter. Thanks, Skyla!

- DVD/Blu-Ray combo of Ginger Snaps
- River poster print
- River tote bag
- wolf charm bookmark
- River postcard
- wolf charm necklace
- Animal Speak pocket guide version by Ted Andrews

The Rafflecopter code is:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Buy RIVER  Amazon | B&N | Smashwords | iTunes | All RomanceAuthor's Site

You can read the first seven chapters of RIVER now at: http://skyladawncameron.com/river/

Links to Find Skyla:
Twitter: @SkylaDawn
Site/Blog: SkylaDawnCameron.com
Facebook: Skyla Dawn Cameron
Book Design: indigo chick designs

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ever After Excerpt and Giveaway

Today the Book Pile is a stop on Kate SeRine's EVER AFTER blog tour. This action packed fairytale/legend based series has been a favorite of mine since book 1. This time around we have a gender-swapped Robin Hood, Arthurian legends, the Seelie court, old friends, and one of my favorite supporting characters from books 2-3, Gideon. Kate has also given us an excerpt from EVER AFTER and there is a giveaway too!

Unseelie, the inspiration behind Little John, and Robin Hood's lover, Gideon has been in the service of the Seelie king since the day his love perished in a heist gone wrong. We've known him as the stoic, lonely knight in shining armor who has been a very helpful ally to our friends from previous books. Now he stars in his own tale and I am so very happy. Apart from the Nate novella, this is also a romance from the male characters POV only, something that is a bit different, but I really liked it.

Any time you have an abandoned love theme, it takes awhile to get on the side of the abandoner, especially when the abandonee is your only narrator. Arabella worked though. She had good reasons for what she did. Thankfully, there aren't any BIG MISUNDERSTANDINGS. Just hurt feelings and time needed to sort things out. It helps that Arabella fits right in with the kickass ladies of the Transplanted Tales.

I did like the relationship and of course the action. I also liked the introduction of Merlin. Another fantastic addition to a great series!

On to the GIVEAWAY! The blog tour prizes are: Grand Prize ($50 gift card to Amazon, B&N, or BAM - Winner's Choice); signed paperback copy of EVER AFTER, and Transplanted Tales swag. Also, two winners will receive an e-book copy of the Transplanted Tales novel of his/her choice. The giveaway is international, but the swag may differ slightly for an international winner due to shipping costs.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now for the excerpt!



Excerpt from Chapter 6 of Ever After… 


"I kept my gaze straight ahead, trying to ignore the images her words brought to mind and wondering just where the hell Merlin’s hotel was anyway. I wasn’t exactly eager to see my old pal again now that I knew what he’d been up to with Arabella, but I’d kiss that bastard on the mouth if it’d get Arabella to change the subject. A subject that was torturing me with erotic images of us together that I had no business thinking about just then.

“Are you always this serious?” she asked, polishing off her chili dog. “You never used to have that perma-frown going.”

She was right, of course. I hadn’t been nearly as serious or severe when she’d known me. Not externally anyway. But what she didn’t realize was that any light-heartedness she’d witnessed had been more her doing than any inherent trait of mine. Her smile, her fearlessness, her brash eagerness to embrace every experience as an adventure—it was contagious.

And I’d craved it. Arabella had been a breath of fresh air to a dying man. Quite literally. The path I’d been walking had had only one destination. But she had offered me a detour that led me away from certain damnation and into her arms, giving me a glimpse of what the Ordinaries would call heaven. The memories of that happiness and the pure hell I’d experienced after I thought she’d died came back to me in a painful rush, making me wince.

“Oh, and there’s another scowl brewing, just there between your eyebrows,” she teased, wagging her index finger at my forehead. When I frowned at her, fulfilling her prediction, she gave me a playful smile, genuine this time. “Although, I have to say, you’re quite handsome when you’re worried about me.”

“Handsome?” I grumbled, letting her drag me along behind her. “I’d rather never have to worry about you and you think me repugnant.”

She sent a flirty grin over her shoulder. “Never happen.”

“You not giving me cause to worry? Oh, yes, I’m well aware that you take great delight in tormenting me with your antics. You always did.”

She laughed. “I meant, you’d never be repugnant to me—even if you were old and grizzled and all those gorgeous red-gold curls fell out, I’d still think you were the most handsome man I’d ever seen.” She abruptly stopped and spun around to face me to say something more, but having not anticipated her sudden halt, I slammed into her, my arms going around her to keep us both from stumbling. Laughing, she grabbed onto my jacket to steady herself.

I cursed under my breath and took a step back, putting her at arms’ length. “Sorry, lass,” I threw over my shoulder as I strode away, walking ahead of her now.

“Gideon!” she called, jogging to keep up with my long strides.

Fortunately, at that point we finally arrived at the hotel and casino where Merlin was staying and performing his act. I strode into the lobby, making a beeline for the elevator. As luck would have it, the doors happened to open just as I pushed the UP button. Not so fortunately, Arabella and I were the only passengers.

“I’m not gonna be just another one of yer games, Arabella,” I muttered. “Not this time.”

She pressed the button for the penthouse, then stepped directly in front of me, crossing her arms over her chest. “For the record, you were never a game to me. And you’re not a game now.”

I studied her for a long moment, wanting to believe her. “You have chili on your mouth,” I told her, avoiding the conversation about us.

She swiped at the corner of her mouth. “Gideon—”

“You missed it,” I said. “It’s the other side.”

“Bugger all…” She huffed and wiped the other corner. “Listen, I—”

“It’s still there.”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake!” she grumbled, throwing her arms up in the air as we jolted to a stop and the doors opened. A man in a loud silk shirt started to get on, but Arabella threw a glare at him over her shoulder. “Take the next one.”

The guy grunted and started to get on anyway, but Arabella blocked his path. “Oi!” she snapped, giving him a shove back into the hallway. “Hop it, mate!”

As soon as we were on our way again, she turned back to me, her lips pressed together in an angry line. But before she could take the piss out of me, I cupped her cheek and pulled her toward me, wiping the smudge from the corner of her mouth, letting my thumb pass over her lips more than was necessary.

“There,” I said, my thumb now smoothing over her cheek as I marveled at the softness of her skin. “That should do it.”

She shook her head. “No. I don’t think so.” With that, she grabbed my jacket and pulled me down to receive a hard, hungry kiss. I wanted to resist her. I knew I should push her away. But I was far too weak. I kissed her back, lost in the sweet taste of her. I snaked an arm around her waist and pulled her hard against me, lifting her up on her toes. When she released me and took a step out of my arms, she closed her eyes for a moment. “I’m sorry, Gideon. I shouldn’t keep doing that, but—bloody hell, I’ve missed kissing you.”

I wanted to tell her how much I’d missed kissing her, too. I wanted to drag her back into my arms and capture her mouth again, show her just what we’d missed out on all these years. But I didn’t. I shoved my hands into my pockets to keep from peeling off her clothes right then and there and caressing every inch of her body, and took a step back, putting a safe bit of distance between us."