Guest Post: Halloween Memories by Kathryn Meyer Griffith

This is the last post at this web address.  Tomorrow you will redirected to http://www.lizzylessard.com, the new blog address for Lizzy’s Dark Fiction.  But don’t worry, all posts and comments will be transferred.  A big thank you to Livia of Butterfly Meter Designs who made my dark vision come to life on the new site.  

Happy Halloween everyone!


Halloween Memories

Treat or Treat, Robots and Candy Corn

Guest Post by author Kathryn Meyer Griffith

I believe I’m lucky. I grew up in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Halloween was so different back then. Simpler. More innocent. Exciting. A true holiday for children. And I have memories I’ll cherish my whole life.

My family was large. I had six siblings, three sisters and three brothers, and we never had much money. My dad was a salesman and my mother, like a lot of women during that time, didn’t work outside the home…she was busy enough raising seven children. We were the poor family down the street with too many kids living in the shabby two-story spooky looking house. Our neighbors shunned us or felt sorry for us. But I didn’t care, I had my family to love me. I had Grandmother Fehrt, my mother’s mother, to fill our bellies with food when the table was a little too bare. I had my ambitions and dreams, science fiction and scary library books to read and pictures to draw (I wanted to be an artist from the age of nine). I frolicked in the empty fields riddled with deep gullies beside our house with my brothers and sisters or ran the dark streets and woods playing hide-and-go-seek. Sang to the moon on our rusty swing set in the backyard with my brother, Jim. Or, on a black and white TV set, watched Zorro, the Twilight Zone or The Lone Ranger on swelteringly hot nights in a house with no air-conditioning. Sweet days and nights. Poignant memories now that many of my family are gone.

Halloween was my favorite holiday, next to Christmas. I remember one, when I was about ten or so, vividly. It was cold and raining, but nothing stopped us four older children (the rest were too young that year) from going out into the neighborhood and collecting big brown bags of free candy. No, not when candy was so rare for us. My parents could hardly keep enough food in the house, much less buy us sweets. So Halloween meant a windfall of treats. Nothing kept us home on that night. We’d quickly eat the bowls of chili Mom would insist we eat as the sun went down. Another tradition. So we had some real food in our stomachs before the glut of candy came.

Copyright @ 2011 by Monkywing

My mother, money being sparse as always, dressed us two girls up as gypsies, using her old costume jewelry and tying bright scarfs around our heads and waists. My younger brother Jon, wore an old sheet with cut out eye slots. A ghost. My other brother, Jim, had outdone himself that year and, out of two cardboard boxes and paint, had fashioned himself a robot. Wasn’t bad for an eight year old, either. Made it hard for him to walk, though. He stumbled a lot.

That night we traipsed through the wet woods, a short cut, to the rich subdivision down the road that – oh, my – gave out those huge candy bars at each door, huge homemade popcorn balls or bags of candy corn, my favorite. My grandmother had taught Jim and I a catchy song…G-i-n-g-a, G-i-n-g-a, G-i-n-g-a…Ginga was his name. Never understood that song but I think it was about a pet dog or something. Jim and I got so much good feedback, so many treats for belting it out, though, that at Christmas we were performing The Little Drummer Boy for anyone we could corner and sing to. The beginning of our later singing folk duo (so big in the 60’s) and then my short (my brother kept singing out as I began writing my novels) singing career, no doubt.

We had a great haul that night. Cold and rainy as it was. Frozen as our faces and fingers became. Maybe got even more goodies because it was so inclement. We went to all the houses, collected our booty, and esthetic at our bulging bags, at the end of the night, ran through the trees toward home. Trying to beat the rain, which had become a deluge, worst of the night. With noisy thunder, and spectacular lightning. It was sooo spooky. In the spirit of the night, we were sure something bad was following us. We ran faster. Our paper bags getting soaked as we cradled them against our shivering bodies.

Then, clumsy in his robot disguise (he kept bumping into trees because he couldn’t see) Jim fell over a tree limb and spilled his candy everywhere. As he cried, we scurried around trying to salvage what we could. Didn’t do much good. Too dark. The rain was too heavy. So the three of us promised to share our catch with him and we led him home.

As we were drying off and warming up, Mom and Dad smiled at our stories of singing for our candy and all the strange ghouls and monsters we’d met on the way; laughed over Jim’s mishap and gave us hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows to drink.

Then there was a knock at the front door and when we looked, there was Grandma Fehrt, dressed as a wicked witch, complete with tall black hat and long dress, cackling at us. Trying to fool us. But we all knew it was her. She dressed up every year and knocked at our door. Always a witch.

We kids hugged her and laughed, then sat at the table counting out (and oohing and aahing with glee) over our candy haul. We shared it with Jim, of course.

To this day I remember that Halloween with a wistful smile. Such good times from so long ago. I see my brothers and sisters young faces through the mists of time, remember the thrill of singing with my brother for the first time and the delight of the people giving us the candy in exchange for the song. I remember my parents and the love in that drafty old house we scampered back to. I remember my grandmother with her smiling witch eyes and painted face. Remember going to bed with a stomach ache because I’d eaten too much candy. Heck, I always did. And I remember those no longer with us. My father, my mother, one of my brothers and all of my grandparents.

My childhood, when I think of nights like that, is just a moment away. The dead are with me again. Ah, I’d give anything to go back in time and be with all of them once more. The way we were. Young and hopeful and with our lives ahead of us. Enjoying each other’s company…and all that good candy.

Anything.

About Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21, over forty years ago now, and have had sixteen (nine romantic horror, two romantic SF horror, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel and two murder mysteries) previous novels and eight short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.

I’ve been married to Russell for thirty-four years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have three quirky cats, ghost cat Sasha, live cats Cleo and Sasha (Too), and the five of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die…or until my memory goes.

Check out these 4 short stories on sale for $.99.

Ghost Brother  |  The Banshee and the Witch  |  Too Close to the Edge  |  Running with the Train

All Kathryn Meyer Griffith’s Books available at Amazon.com.

Novels and short stories from Kathryn Meyer Griffith:

  • Evil Stalks the Night (Leisure, 1984; Damnation Books, 2012)
  • The Heart of the Rose (Leisure, 1985; Eternal Press Author’s Revised Edition 2010) Buy
  • Blood Forge (Leisure, 1989; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2012)
  • Vampire Blood (Zebra, 1991; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011)  Buy
  • Damnation Books Buy Link:
  • The Last Vampire (Zebra, 1992; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition 2010) Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • Witches (Zebra, 1993; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition 2011)  Buy
  • The Nameless One (short story in 1993 Zebra Anthology Dark Seductions; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011) Buy
  • The Calling (Zebra, 1994; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011)  Buy
  • Scraps of Paper (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2003…soon to be an Amazon Kindle Direct ebook)
  • All Things Slip Away (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2006…soon an Amazon Kindle Direct ebook)
  • Egyptian Heart (The Wild Rose Press, 2007; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011)  Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • Winter’s Journey (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011) Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • The Ice Bridge (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011)  Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • Don’t Look Back, Agnes novella & bonus short story: In This House (2008; ghostly romantic short story out; Eternal Press 2012)  Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons (Damnation Books 2010)  Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • The Woman in Crimson (Damnation Books 2010)  :  Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • The Complete Guide to Writing Paranormal Fiction: Volume 1 (I did the Introduction)
  • Dinosaur Lake (from Amazon Kindle Direct 2012)

My Space  |  Facebook  |  Author’s Den  |  Goodreads  |  Email    |  Bebo  |  Jacketflap  |  Shoutlife  |  Romantic Writer & Reader |  Romance Book Junction

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Tour Guest Post/Giveaway: Broken Aro by Jen Wylie

Candied Memories

Guest Post by Jen Wylie

There is something about Halloween and memories. My memory is pretty crappy, but I do remember a lot of Halloweens. I remember running up and down village streets and getting excited over whatever got dropped into my pillowcase. (Pillowcases are the way to go- not those silly, tiny store bought baskets) I remember my mom’s smiles as we’d show her our loot and beg to be driven to the next village or group of houses. Yes, we lived in the country. “Oh poor child,” you think. Not so! Though cities you hit a lot more places in a shorter amount of time, in the country you GET more. I’m talking 10 houses will half fill a pillowcase more. You can get brown lunch bags of candy with your name on it. You’ll have houses dump their whole bowls in your bag because they don’t think anyone else will be coming.  Country Trick or Treating is awesome.

Back then we had fun with our costumes too. I never had one fully purchased at a store, though sometimes accessories were. When I was very little Mom hand made a clown costume and a witch another year. My sister and I wore those until we grew out of them. Then we were punk rockers a few years, full of spiked, glitter filled hair and too much makeup. Once I dressed up as Zorro- I think I just wanted the sword. Sadly, I also remember the growing up… of going out with friends, and even dressing up, but not going door to door for candy. Instead came parties and pretending to stay out of trouble.

Now I have kids of my own. Sometimes I think I have more fun than they do when we go out. Since my sewing skills suck, I never made them costumes. The last few years they have been wanting to make their own sometimes. No matter how silly, I’m all for that. I did it too, it’s a learning experience. I have good kids and am glad they aren’t to the partying age yet. As long as they’re still trick or treating, I can still steal their candy… except the candy corn… how can people eat that?


Broken Aro (The Broken Ones #1) by Jen Wylie

Publisher:  Untold PressGenre: YA epic fantasyBroken Aro released September 2012.  You can purchase it on Amazon for US or UK.

Book Description:  Open your eyes to darkness. What do you see? Does the darkness frighten you? Now imagine the darkness being the cargo hold of a slave ship. Your city has fallen. Your family is most likely dead. You don’t know anyone around you, and some of them aren’t even human. Giving up would be so easy to do, but not for Arowyn Mason. Not after being raised in a military family with seven brothers. Every great story should begin with a plan. Aro’s was to escape and to survive.

Escape comes, but at a price. As they reach the shore, Aro and the other survivors learn that freedom doesn’t mean safety. The slavers want their property back and will do anything to get it. The party uses every ounce of their brute strength, a hearty helping of cunning, and even ancient magics to keep themselves alive. Sickness, danger, and even love surprise them at every turn. Dealing with danger becomes their way of life, but none of them ever considered that nothing can be quite as dangerous as a prophecy. Running turns into another race altogether as her world falls to pieces again and again.

About the Author:

Jen Wylie resides in rural Ontario, Canada with her  two boys, Australian shepherd and a disagreeable amount of wildlife. In a cosmic twist of fate she dislikes the snow and cold.

Before settling down to raise a family, she attained a BA from Queens University and worked in retail and sales.

Thanks to her mother she acquired a love of books at an early age and began writing in public school. She constantly has stories floating around in her head, and finds it amazing most people don’t. Jennifer writes various forms of fantasy, both novels and short stories.

Website  |  Blog  |  Twitter  | Goodreads  | Facebook  |  Amazon

Giveaway:

The author is giving away one ebook copy of Broken Aro.  To enter, leave a comment with your favorite Halloween memory or favorite Halloween candy.  This giveaway is opened internationally.  One lucky person will be chosen and emailed November 2nd!  The winner will be selected by random and have 48 hours to respond by email or another person will be chosen.

Please check out the other stops on the tour:

Guest Post: A Ghost Story by Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Seasoned author Kathryn Meyer Griffith is visiting Lizzy’s Dark Fiction today with a true life ghost story.  Stay tuned for another guest post from her next week.  I’ll be reviewing two of her books, Dinosaur Lake (Sci-Fi/Horror) and Evil Stalks the Night (Horror), in December or so, so keep an eye out for them.  When I was first contacted by Kathryn Meyer Griffith, I thought her name looked familiar.  Turns out that I read one of her novels Witches, many years ago.  I’m so excited to check out more of her work.


A Ghost Story

Guest Post by Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Because most of us are terrified of dying and death, of losing all we know so well in this mortal plane, we want to know: is there life after death? Do ghosts walk the earth? Vengeful or benevolent spirits? Immortals such as vampires and werewolves? Does good always win against evil? As human beings we’d love the answers to these questions and if we can’t find them, prove them, well, then we’ll invent, create, worlds where we can.

Now I must say that I can’t be considered a true skeptic when it comes to the supernatural because at the tender age of sixteen I saw a ghost, or what I believed was a ghost. My great Aunt Mary had died two days before. Not unexpectedly. She was old, had been in a nursing home for months, and we knew it was coming. Before the nursing home, though, she’d lived ten years with my maternal grandmother, whose name was also Mary, and had been happy there. The night before the funeral I’d been sleeping in my bed and something – to this day I don’t know what it was – woke me and I wandered down the dim hallway to use the bathroom.

Copyright © 2011, Shain Erin

And there was my dead Great Aunt Mary standing at the end of the hall in an eerie pulsating ball of light. She looked so real, as if I could reach out and touch her and my fingers would feel flesh. She was gesturing excitedly to me and rattling off a string of words that had to be German because I couldn’t understand a word of it. The old woman had been an immigrant who’d never learned our language, which is one of the reasons she’d been so content living with my grandmother; they’d both spoken German. The only word I could understand was Mary as she kept repeating the word over and over. I assumed my aunt was calling for my grandmother, as if my aunt were lost, and looking for her favorite niece. It’s the only explanation I have for the visitation.

Why she appeared to me, I’ll never know, but she did. I remember thinking: It’s Aunt Mary. Oh my God! But she’s dead. Dead. When it finally hit me, I was so frightened I turned and scurried back to my bedroom and dived beneath my bed covers. To this day, my mind swears I didn’t see what I thought I saw…Aunt Mary’s spirit…but my heart and my senses chide me and say, yes, you did. You saw a ghost. A real ghost. So there.

Since that day I’ve never been able to laugh at the possibility of the paranormal existing. The thing is, because I consider myself a down-to-earth realistic person (even though I’m considered basically a horror writer even with the other genres I write) , if someone asks me if I believe in ghosts and such I often as not hesitate before I admit that I might have seen one. Might. No one wants to be thought of as unbalanced. Seeing spirits is only one step above seeing little green men or pink elephants.

I want to be taken seriously. I mean, I’m a writer, not a nutcase.

All toll I’ve been a writer of paranormal fiction for forty years and proud of it. I’ve written about spirits, benevolent and malevolent; ghosts; angels; demons and all manner of vampires and unexplained creatures; and even, once, a possessed gun, and a woods haunted by an entity that was an eternal killer. Can’t get more spooky than that, can you?

Happy Halloween!

***

Check out these 4 short stories on sale for $.99.

Ghost Brother  |  The Banshee and the Witch  |  Too Close to the Edge  |  Running with the Train

All Kathryn Meyer Griffith’s Books available at Amazon.com.

Novels and short stories from Kathryn Meyer Griffith:

  • Evil Stalks the Night (Leisure, 1984; Damnation Books, 2012)
  • The Heart of the Rose (Leisure, 1985; Eternal Press Author’s Revised Edition 2010) Buy
  • Blood Forge (Leisure, 1989; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2012)
  • Vampire Blood (Zebra, 1991; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011)  Buy
  • Damnation Books Buy Link:
  • The Last Vampire (Zebra, 1992; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition 2010) Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • Witches (Zebra, 1993; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition 2011)  Buy
  • The Nameless One (short story in 1993 Zebra Anthology Dark Seductions; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011) Buy
  • The Calling (Zebra, 1994; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011)  Buy
  • Scraps of Paper (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2003…soon to be an Amazon Kindle Direct ebook)
  • All Things Slip Away (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2006…soon an Amazon Kindle Direct ebook)
  • Egyptian Heart (The Wild Rose Press, 2007; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011)  Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • Winter’s Journey (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011) Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • The Ice Bridge (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011)  Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • Don’t Look Back, Agnes novella & bonus short story: In This House (2008; ghostly romantic short story out; Eternal Press 2012)  Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons (Damnation Books 2010)  Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • The Woman in Crimson (Damnation Books 2010)  :  Buy  |  Book Trailer
  • The Complete Guide to Writing Paranormal Fiction: Volume 1 (I did the Introduction)
  • Dinosaur Lake (from Amazon Kindle Direct 2012)

My Space  |  Facebook  |  Author’s Den  |  Goodreads  |  Email    |  Bebo  |  Jacketflap  |  Shoutlife  |  Romantic Writer & Reader |  Romance Book Junction

Tour Giveaway/Review: Bad Juju by Dina Rae

Bad Juju by Dina Rae

Genre: Horror

Publisher: Self-published

Bad Juju is available as an ebook from Amazon.  More reviews available on Goodreads.  You can read my reviews of other books by Dina Rae:  Halo of the Damned and Be Paranoid Be Prepared.

Giveaway:  Ends November 4th.  International.  Click to enter using the rafflecopter.

  • 10 eBook copies of Bad Juju in MOBI/PDF
  • 2 $15 Amazon Gift-Cards + an eBook copy of Bad Juju.

Excerpt:

Jake rolled out of bed and army crawled to the doorway.  Looking through the opening that separated the door from the carpeting, he saw Leah’s head bloodied.  She lay limp on the floor.  Pete stopped hitting her.  His whole demeanor changed.  With a wolfish expression, he began to unbuckle his belt.  Rhianna’s screams got closer.  She must have darted to the other side of the living room, putting her smack-dab in front of Jake’s bedroom door.  He could now see her foot.  It partially blocked his view.  Shit!  Can’t get involved!  If I open the door…

“Pete, what the hell is a matter with you?  Stop it!  She’s passed out.  You beat her into a coma, man!  And now you’re gonna…Sober up and think of what you’re doing!  Right in front of your daughter!” T.J. yelled.

Is he suicidal?  Jake knew his uncle would make T.J. regret his words.  Like Leah, T.J. was small.  He was filled with faults, but violence was not one of them.  On perfect cue, Jake could hear his uncle’s bare fists hooking T.J. in the jawbone.  Rhianna’s screams turned into full-blown hysteria.  The poor girl was hyperventilating while desperately grasping Jake’s locked doorknob for refuge.  I don’t want to be involved!  Go back to your closet and lay still!

“Jakey, Jakey, pwwweeeze!” Rhianna sobbed.

Jake couldn’t take her suffering any longer.  Quickly unlocking the door, he grabbed the little girl and pulled her inside his room and then relocked the door.  The living room had grown eerily quiet.  Jake had a difficult time hearing while Rhianna wailed.  “It’s okay now.  Try to be quiet,” he whispered, straining to hear.  Nothing but silence was on the other side of his door.  His heart rate doubled.  Always quiet before the storm.  Was it over?  Or was I next?  He slid on his gym shoes, took a can of Comet cleaner from his bathroom, and crept up to the only window in the room.  It was small, but Jake knew he could fit through.

Then came the sound he was waiting for.  Click, click, click.  Pete was delicately trying to open the door.  He now knew it was locked.

Book Description:

Lucien Nazaire flees his Haitian homeland and meanders around the United States for decades.  He settles in a Wisconsin trailer park filled with elderly tenants.  He meets Jake, his teenage neighbor, and hires him for odd household jobs.  As their relationship progresses, Lucien invites the boy into the world of Voodoo.

Jake LaRue lives in foster care with his abusive uncle.  The Voodoo lessons give him a sense of power within an otherwise helpless situation.  Although the boy is a loner, he feels an instant connection with his classmate, Henry, and introduces him to Lucien.

Henry Novak has Asperger’s Syndrome.  He fixates on historical events, most recently the 2010 Haitian earthquake.  Like Jake, he becomes passionate about the dark side of Voodoo.  They learn how to cast spells on those they hate and lust, leading up to dire consequences.

Several months after the Haitian earthquake, Henry convinces his family to volunteer with their church in the island’s reconstruction.  Their mission turns into a nightmare when he mysteriously walks off of the campsite.

Bad Juju is a balance of horror, romance, and literary fiction intended for ages fifteen and up.   Research about the Voodoo religion, shapeshifting, zombies, and possession and themes of redemption and loneliness emerge throughout the plot.

Review:

Overview:  Dina Rae has a very unique writing style.  The book feels more like a screenplay than a novel in parts.  The dialogue is over-the-top dramatic at parts, but with the dark nature of stories such as Bad Juju, there’s a lot of reasons for the characters to be upset enough to validate the ample use of exclamation points.  The way the author switched from over-the-top psychological horror to back story and new character point of view was frustrating for the hardcore horror lover in me.  I wanted the gore and horror to never stop.  However, for readers who don’t read primarily horror novels, you will appreciate a change of scenery after reading some of the most disturbing parts of this novel.

The descriptions and scene setups are so well done that I forgot I was reading a book.  It felt like I was watching reality TV, although I doubt anyone would want to star in this novel.  Don’t get too attached to the characters as not all of them make it to the end.  Overall, I think Bad Juju will appeal to readers who like both psychological horror novels and dark stories without the gore (although I would still rate this book R for sex, nasty dead people, and violence).

Characters:  I liked how complex and colorful Jake’s family was.  There’s a couple of white trash stereotypes in the beginning but as the story progresses each character is really fleshed out and the stereotypes forgotten.  Although Henry’s family got nearly as much screen time, they weren’t as interesting and some of them fell flat.  I was surprised how much attention Britney and Rio had in the story – and even though they were minor characters, they felt unique and as far from the head cheerleader/jock personalities and stereotypes as you can get.

Plot:  The story hops around quite a bit, which didn’t bug me when I read Halo of the Damned by Dina Rae.  Since this book was more of a hardcore horror book, I felt like the scenes ended prematurely sometimes.  I wanted the creepiness and the gore to keep going and for the scare/creepy factor to be more consistent.  The twists in this book kept me guessing until the last few chapters.  Despite my disappointment in the horror, the story was so compelling and addictive to read.  Dina Rae definitely comes up with some creative dark tales.  I can say with certainty that I’ve never read a novel like this one.

Ending:  I have some mixed feelings about the ending.  I liked what Jake and Lucien were doing with the Voodoo, but I was really tired of Henry and his mother Jess.  I wished for many bad things to happen to the latter pair and not all those bad things came to pass.  I did like how Rio’s story ended.  That was a nice twist.

Grade:  C+

This is a very gritty horror novel.

I received a copy of this novel as part of the book blog tour in exchange for my honest review.

Excerpt:

“He’s done this before, hasn’t he?”

“Yes.  Lots of times.  But this is the worst time,” Jake cried.  Emotions suddenly overcame him.

“This is unforgivable.  The next time might be worse.  He needs to be stopped.  Police?”  Jake shook his head.  “Let me make you an ointment for your back.”

Lucien opened a drawer with endless containers of odd spices labeled in French.  He began to boil water.

“Lucien, why don’t you make a Voodoo doll?  Isn’t that what you do in Haiti when someone is making you mad?  We can make one of Jake’s uncle,” Henry suggested.

“Can you do that, Lucien?” Jake asked.

“I haven’t done that kind of thing since, oh, since I left Haiti.  And sometimes it doesn’t even work.  It’s such a small part of the Voodoo religion.  Some would call it Hoodoo.  These things take time, but we could try.  Although I’d feel more comfortable showing you how to make a healing ointment for scarred skin.  Revenge is one of the trickiest of the hexes.  It has a power of its own, making it easy to backfire.  Any more harm than what your uncle deserves might invite evil loas into your life.  And Henry, your parents might not approve of this.  Maybe it’s a bad idea.”

“Like I said earlier, I’m good at keeping secrets.”

“But from your parents?  I don’t know if that’s right.”

“He’s cool.  And like you said, this probably won’t even work.  It’s worth a try.  You’re cheering me up just talking about it,” Jake said.

“Then I’ll need a few personal items from your uncle.  Hair, Q-tips, trinkets, clothes, anything he personally uses,” Lucien instructed.  “I also need dirt.  Large Ziploc bags of dirt from the graveyard next door.  I think I can provide the rest.”

About the Author:

Dina Rae is a new author here to stay.  As a former teacher, she brings an academic element to her work.  Her three novels, Halo of the Damned, The Last Degree, and Bad Juju weave research and suspense throughout the plots.  Her short story, Be Paranoid Be Prepared, is a prequel of sorts to The Last Degree, focusing on the James Martin character.  Dina also freelances for various entertainment blogs.

Dina lives with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs outside of Chicago.  She is a Christian, an avid tennis player, movie buff, and self-proclaimed expert on several conspiracy theories.  She has been interviewed numerous times in e-zines, websites, blogs, newspapers, and radio programs.  When she is not writing she is reading novels from her favorite authors Dan Brown, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Brad Thor, George R.R. Martin, and Preston & Childs.

Website | Blog | Twitter: @haloofthedamned The Last Degree | Halo of the Damned |

Promo: Dead Heat by Lisa Nowak

October 24th is a one-day PROMO bonanza for Dead Heat, the latest novel by YA author Lisa Nowak.  The characters might be familiar to fans of her previous books, but Dead Heat is described as a “gritty” and a “modern day ghost story” according to reviewers on Amazon…and way more edgy than her previous books.  The excerpt from here and on Amazon definitely seems interesting.  Dark enough for my liking.  😉  Check it out!  This one day tour was organized by Reading Addiction Blog Tours.

Dead Heat by Lisa Nowak

Genre:  YA Paranormal

Publisher:  Webfoot Publishing

You can purchase Dead Heat on ebook from Amazon, Smashwords, or Barnes & Noble.  More reviews available on Goodreads.

Book Description:

Alex is a machine whisperer. He can tell what’s wrong with a broken-down car with a touch. But his gift can’t save him from the brutality of his meth-addict father. For two years, Alex experienced kindness through Cole, his mentor. Now Cole’s dead, and the violence in Alex’s life is escalating.

When Cole reappears as a ghost, Alex clings to the tenuous link. Then he learns Cole might’ve sacrificed his chance to cross over. Jade, the first girl to look beyond Alex’s past, assures him Cole can reach the Other Side—if Alex escapes from his dad. But a previous terrifying attempt has convinced Alex it’s impossible. Unless he can find the courage to try, his friend may be earthbound forever.

Excerpt:

After Alex’s mentor Cole dies in a wreck at the speedway, Alex takes his truck and trailer to his wife, then goes back to the track, where his grief overcomes him and he collapses.

Chapter 2

For a long time, I lay on that wet asphalt, wishing I was dead. It’s like I’m not even here, like the hurt’s so big I disappear in it. Something soft brushes my shoulder, near the base of my neck. Pain knifes through me, and I choke on a sob. Then I feel that touch again. I lurch up off the track to look around. Nothing.

I’m soaked, numb clear through, but the chill don’t do a thing to dull the fire of losing Cole. That wells up so big and powerful, I can’t hold it back. I scream as loud as I can, till I’m still yelling, but no sound comes out.

I can’t do this. No way can I go back to how things were. Didn’t I do all I could to make sure nothing like this would happen? All them lies I told, why couldn’t they keep him safe?

I shove the wet hair from my eyes and go get my bike. I rip out of the parking lot hard and fast, daring the cops to come after me, hoping I skid under the wheels of some car.

I got no idea where I’m going, but I wind up at Ivan’s Automotive, the shop where I work. Soon as I pull into the lot, the answer comes. My bike might not’ve done me in, but I know something that will.

I find a piston in the scrap bin outside and use it to bust the glass in the back door. When I get in, I turn on the office light, but leave the rest of the place dark. Don’t want nobody calling the cops before I finish this.

I pick the ’89 Taurus ’cause emission standards aren’t so strict for a car that old. Once I got the keys, I grab one of the hoses we use to vent exhaust from the shop. I stick one end on the tail pipe and put the key in the ignition so I can roll the window down a little. I snake the other end through till it’s resting on the passenger side floorboards. There’s a big gap, so I find some towels and cram ’em in to stop it up.

When I crank the engine, I have one thought of Momma, but the pain’s so big and deep it chases even that away. I close my eyes. For a second, I wonder if I’ll see Cole, or if it’ll just be over, but either way it don’t matter.

There’s this whir, and all four windows start going down. What the hell? I jab the master control to raise ’em. The second I take my finger off, they head south again. Are you kidding me? Real quick, I roll ’em up, kill the engine, and get out of the car to pull the fuse. Whatever’s going on, them windows can’t work if they don’t have no juice.

I get back in and crank the starter. The engine revs for just a second before it dies. I try again. The car sputters and stalls. One more shot, and this time it won’t run for nothing. Pissed, I twist the key and don’t let go until the starter sucks every bit of life out of the battery.

“Son of a bitch!” I slam my fist against the wheel, beating it again and again. Finally, I got nothing left. A sob grabs my throat and I slump forward, pain crashing down in waves that want to drown me.

Then something touches my shoulder. I jump and swing around. This time I see him, right beside me.

Cole. Only not Cole—he’s sorta sunk down into the seat a little, and the fabric shows right through him.

The shock stops my breath. I stare at him and he stares back, sadder than I ever seen him. That look is so damn Cole it rips a hole in me. I got no doubt that if he could, he’d take every bit of my pain and carry it himself.

When he puts his hand out, I feel that feather touch again.

“I’m sorry, Ace,” he says, “but I can’t let you do this.”

About the Author:

In addition to being a YA author, Lisa Nowak is a retired amateur stock car racer, an accomplished cat whisperer, and a professional smartass. She writes coming-of-age books about kids in hard luck situations who learn to appreciate their own value after finding mentors who love them for who they are. She enjoys dark chocolate and stout beer and constantly works toward employing wei wu wei in her life, all the while realizing that the struggle itself is an oxymoron. Lisa has no spare time, but if she did she’d use it to tend to her expansive perennial garden, watch medical dramas, take long walks after dark, and teach her cats to play poker. For those of you who might be wondering, she is not, and has never been, a diaper-wearing astronaut. She lives in Milwaukie, Oregon, with her husband, four feline companions, and two giant sequoias.

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Book Review: Arcadian Genesis by Greig Beck

Arcadian Genesis by Greig Beck

Publisher:  Momentum Books

Genre: Science Fiction/Adventure

Arcadian Genesis released September 1st, 2012.  You can buy it on ebook Amazon, iTunes bookstore, Kobo, or Booki.sh.  More reviews available on Goodreads and more information available on the publisher’s website.

Review:

The first thing I noticed when reading Arcadian Genesis was how vivid and complete the world of Alex Hunter was.  It’s like the author slipped on his favorite pair of shoes when writing this book.  It’s so polished that you’d think Alex Hunter himself was writing the book.  Being written (mostly) from the POV of an emotionally detached guy, there is some trouble feeling for the other characters, which is a good thing considering how many deaths there are in this book.  And in some chapters, there is so much carnage and chaos that you’re not quite sure who is left alive until the next chapter begins.

I must say that the pacing is incredibly fast for the majority of the story, and you really have to pay close attention or you’ll lose track of what’s going on very quickly (and with a small child running around, I did have to reread some parts).  Every word counts in this story and by the end of the book, you’ll feel like you read a story twice as thick because of how much information, world-building, and action is crammed into Arcadian Genesis.

As far as technical care, Greig Beck’s writing feels a lot like Brad Thor, but Alex Hunter is way less of a ladies man than Harvath.  Alex is consumed by revenge for the deaths of his family and no detailed is spared in exactly how he transforms into a cold-blooded killer.  Lots of gore and death.  No character is safe.  For anyone that has read other books in this series, you know how it ends.  For anyone else, you will be surprised.

Book Description:

Alex Hunter – in the mission that turned him from a normal man into the weapon known as the Arcadian – and the elite team of soldiers known as the Hotzone All-Forces Warfare Commandos must enter a hostile country to rescue a defected Chechen researcher from the center of a country at war.

But the HAWCs are not the only ones looking for the rogue scientist and the mysterious package he carries with him. A brutal and relentless killer and his death squad are on the trail too – and they bring a savagery with them that Hunter and his team have never witnessed before in modern warfare.

In this stunning prequel to Beneath the Dark Ice, the HAWC team must race the clock to rescue the scientist, prevent the package from falling into the wrong hands … and save the world from a horror that should never have been woken.

Arcadian Genesis features a sample chapter from Greig Beck’s forthcoming novel Black Mountain.

This is the prequel to the Alex Hunter series.  Check out the covers to the other books in this series.

Rating:  A

This is a great book for those who want grit of an action novel in a vivid science fiction world.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

(Information borrowed from Goodreads.)

I’m an Australian author residing in Sydney with my wife, son and oversized black German Shepherd named Jess. My novels are now available in more than ten countries, and coming soon in full AUDIO format.

I grew up spending my days surfing at Bondi Beach before entering a career in Information technology which took me around the world. After completing an MBA, i was appointed both an Australasian director of a multinational software company, and tasked with setting up the USA arm of the organisation.

Today, I’m still involved in IT, but spend most of my time writing… with plenty left over for surfing.


Tour Giveaway/Guest Post: Swamp Monster Massacre by Hunter Shea

 

For the Swamp Monster Massacre  tour, we have a guest post by author hunter Shea, an awesome giveaway, and my opinions on this monster horror novel.  Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more interviews, reviews, and guest posts.  The full list of stops can be found HERE.  You can read my review HERE.  I gave it 4/5 stars.

Halloween : A How-To Guide

By Hunter Shea

It stands to reason that by virtue of being a horror writer, I’m a huge Halloween fan. Forget Christmas and presents. I want monsters and scares. I look forward to the month of October the way little kids run around excited about their birthdays.  I’ve actually given the month a new name: Terrortober! Cue the sinister organ music.

So, what can you do to make the most of the Terrortober season? Here’s how we do it in the Shea mausoleum.

  1. Watch a horror movie a day from October 1st until Halloween. Take it like your multi vitamin. There are plenty of places to get movies, from TV to on-demand, new movie releases, Netflix, even the library. Immerse yourself. Watch the classics as well as the new stuff.
  2. Read only horror themed books. I collect books throughout the year that I save just for October. The scarier the premise, the better. My Terrortober pile is staring me in the face as I write.
  3. Dress up. If you have kids, put on a costume when you take them trick-or-treating. If you don’t have kids, see if you can borrow someone else’s for the night. Or, throw a costume party for the adults.
  4. Decorate. I’ve seen some people go a little overboard with twinkle lights and giant blow up figures in the yard. You don’t have to break the bank to show everyone you’re the king or queen of Halloween. Put some fake spider webs around the house, a foam tombstone or two, maybe a skull on the coffee table. Have fun with it.
  5. Candy. I’m not big into sweets, but even I can appreciate a candy corn in October. Plus you’ll need some on hand for the little ghosts and witches that drop in.
  6. Go to a haunted house or hayride. Some of these places are too scary for kids, so hire a babysitter, grab some friends and get the pants scared off you. Then head to a bar to relax and laugh your heads off.
  7. Take a paranormal tour. Thanks to the explosion of paranormal TV shows, it seems every city and town has a paranormal walking tour. They’ll take you to historical haunted houses, restaurants and if you’re really lucky, cemeteries.

If you can manage to do at least 6 of the 7 tips above, you will have taken Halloween by the devil horns. Make Halloween night a real party. Be with friends and family and celebrate until the witching hour, or when the sugar high wears off on the kids.

Happy haunting!

Click HERE to enter a giveaway to win a $5 Gift card to Samhain Publishing.

Book Review: Swamp Monster Massacre by Hunter Shea

Swamp Monster Massacre by Hunter Shea

Publisher:  Samhain Publishing

Genre: Horror

You can buy it on ebook Amazon or from the publisher’s website.  More reviews available on Goodreads.

I’m not sure what I expected from this novella, but Swamp Monster Massacre was one hell of a fun book to read.  As typical of monster novels (and movies) there is a very large cast in the beginning of the book and a much smaller cast by the end.  There are some characters that didn’t have much opportunity to develop before they suffered a very painful and gory death, but the ones that survived until the end definitely had my vote.  I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that I liked it.  And as much as I love horror novels, I typically hate how stories in this genre end.  Not so with this book.  It ended perfectly.  There was just enough closure to know that the worst could be over for the survivors.

I did enjoy the fact that the characters had a different flavor than what I’m used to.  The star of the show was the original bad guy.  The rest of the cast is different and enough is said about them to know that they’re typical people who got on the wrong boat.  I’m pretty sure that none of them will ever decide to tour the Florida Everglades again.  I did have a hell of a fun time reading it, but I wasn’t scared.  This is more focused on the gore and if you like brains and dismembered limbs, than this is a perfect book for you.

Book Description:

Deep in the overgrown swamps of Florida, where humans rarely dare to enter, lives a race of creatures long thought to be only the stuff of legend. They walk upright but are stronger, taller and more brutal than any man. And when a small boat of tourists, held captive by a fleeing criminal, accidentally kills one of the swamp dwellers’ young, the creatures are filled with a terrifyingly human emotion—a merciless lust for vengeance that will paint the trees red with blood.

Rating:  B

This book guarantees hours of entertainment for monster lovers.

I received a copy of this book as part of the RABT tour in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Hunter Shea is the author of the novels Forest of Shadows and Evil Eternal, as well as the upcoming Swamp Monster Massacre and Sinister Entity. His stories have appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales and the upcoming anthology, Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on. He is also half of the Monster Men video podcast, a fun look at the world of horror. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at www.huntershea.com, on Twitter @HunterShea1, Facebook fan page at Hunter Shea or the Monster Men 13 channel on YouTube.

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Tour Review/Giveaway: Bluff by Lenore Skomal

Today’s tour stop is Bluff, which is my first literary fiction review on Lizzy’s Dark Fiction.  I’m not accustomed to the slow pace of the genre, which frustrated me for the first quarter of the book.  After that, I was sold.  Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more reviews, excerpts, guest posts, and interviews by clicking HERE!

Bluff by Lenore Skomal

Genre: Dark, Literary Fiction

Publisher: Self published

Bluff released October 1st, 2012.  You can purchase Bluff as an ebook or paperback on Amazon.  More reviews available on Goodreads.

Book Description:

“To the medical world, I was a host body, surviving only to bring a new life into the world. And while I wanted to die more than anything in the world, I never wanted this. No, I never wanted to cease to exist. This was the worst death of all.”

Jude Black lives in that in-between, twilight place teetering on death but clinging to life in order to bring her baby into this world. Only she knows the circumstances surrounding her mysterious fall off the bluff that landed her in the hospital being kept alive by medical intervention. Only she knows who the father of her baby is. In this poignantly crafted literary novel, the mystery unfolds and the suspense builds as the consequences of Jude’s decisions threaten to reveal everyone’s deceptions, even her own. Bluff offers a sensitive look at essential questions such as the value of human life, the consciousness of those in a coma and the morality of terminating life support. At the core is the story of a tragically misunderstood woman who finds peace, acceptance, understanding and even love on her deathbed.

“From the first few pages of Bluff, we were hooked. Lenore Skomal keeps you guessing and wanting more. The characters have stayed with us and we can’t wait for a sequel!” — Blue Stockings Literary Society

“Bluff raises vital questions about the nature of our human spirit. This compelling story is a must read. You won’t be able to put this book down. It will change you.” — Sylvia Browne, bestselling author and spiritual teacher

“Lenore Skomal is a powerful writer and a big talent. Her words will stir your heart.” — Al Zuckerman, founder, Writer’s House Literary Agency, NYC

“Lenore Skomal is a highly acclaimed columnist and author, whose attention to detail, whose wit and pathos, have charmed readers for years. This, her first novel, is a breathtaking story of a life re-examined from the precipice of abyss. Heartbreaking and insightful.” — Carlo DeVito, Ten Things My Dog Taught Me

Giveaway:

The author is giving away one paperback copy of Bluff.  Click HERE to enter the giveaway.

Review:

Overview:  I’m not used to reading literary fiction and the slow pace and way the story is told frustrated me at first.  The book doesn’t tell the story of Jude, but rather the story of every single person in Jude’s life.  Some point of views I enjoyed more than others, but at least it wasn’t difficult to tell who was narrating.  The only first person POV is Jude and the rest are in third person.    I could tell that the author did research in the medical field and the scenes inside the hospital felt authentic and so did the dialogue from the medical personnel.  Although I did feel frustrated at times, not once did I ever want to give up on this book.  I needed to know what happened to Jude.  I’m so happy that I did, because when the last piece fits into place, I can’t help but marvel both at the complexity and disturbing nature of Bluff.

Characters:  I didn’t like Jude very much (she’s depressed and an ass to everyone), but I did feel bad for her by the end.  As someone who has dealt with pregnancy, I couldn’t imagine not being able to control my own body during the last four months of pregnancy.  The characters in this book felt real.  I like it when characters make dumb decisions and each one in this story had fatal flaws you couldn’t help but relate to.  There’s a lot of negative behaviors exhibited from the characters, but it never seemed overdone or out of place.  I did enjoy the minor characters and was really rooting for Frances over April in the custody battle.  Each character had their own set of problems and most of them resolved by the end, although not at all in the way I expected.

Plot:  Jude is in a coma (or something like it).  No one is sure how she ended up at the bottom of the bluff.  Did she fall?  Was she pushed?  Did she attempt suicide?  Well, that’s isn’t the most pressing mystery in this story.  Apparently, Jude is also pregnant and never revealed who the father is.

Ending:  I definitely enjoyed the mystery part of the plot and no, I wasn’t able to guess the right answer.  Nor was I able to predict the ending.  And though this book is called Bluff, there is no cliffhanger at the end.  I was questioning why this book was labeled dark fiction until the last 10% of the novel.  The first half of the book is depressing but it isn’t “dark” and incredibly “disturbing” until the last couple chapters.  Although there are hints throughout the novel that lead to this crazy ending, I wasn’t prepared.  If you like HEA endings, stop at 90%…and make up your own.  If you like to witness the darker side of human nature, savor the last 10%.

Grade:  C+

I received a copy from the FMB tours in exchange for my honest review.  I also purchased a personal copy from Amazon, so I checked the official copy of the book before posting my review.

Excerpt:

It was as if something died in Jude in order to make room for the new life to live. Like she was punishing herself, imprisoning herself in her own personal purgatory and keeping Frances out. Instead of the new life infusing her with a reason for living, it seemed to have become a death sentence. Jude rarely spoke of the pregnancy, took no joy in reporting the results of the doctor’s visits when she actually went to them, and rebuffed Frances’ attempt to create any happiness around the impending birth. It was as if it were happening to someone else, not Jude.

About the Author:

Lenore Skomal wants you to eat her books. She wants you to chew them in your teeth, savor them on your tongue, breathe them in, and feel her words in your skin. Her passionate desire is to touch your heart, inspire you, and luxuriate in the world of the written word. She finds ecstasy in constructing a perfect sentence and responds willingly to the nagging ache in her heart to create an authentic experience for the reader. Lenore is an award-winning author with the single goal of being heard.

Winner of multiple awards for blogging, literature, biography and humor, Lenore Skomal’s catalogue spans many genres. With 30 years of writing experience, over 17 books published and a daily blog, the consistent themes in her work are the big issues the human experience and adding depth and voice to the intricacies involved in living a multi-dimensional existence. Skomal has won several Society of Professional Journalist Awards, Whidbey Island Writer’s Conference honorable mention for best fiction, Writer’s Digest 73rd Annual Fiction Contest, New York Public Library’s Best Books for Teens 2003, and the Next Generation Indie Book Award for humor.

From journalism, to literary fiction, to humor and biography, Skomal’s writing is consistent, if not in genre, then in message. As a member of the world community, Skomal is excited by the opportunities presented in today’s publishing climate. Now, not only can she spend her time traveling internationally and experiencing cultural events like a Lakota Sweat Lodge, she shares these experiences directly with her readers in hopes of resonating with them and underscoring that no one is alone. In addition to writing, Lenore is an engaging public speaker with over 1000 public engagements, book tours and writing seminars. She has taught college journalism, has one son, and when not off gallivanting from Egypt to Mongolia she resides with her husband in Erie, Pa.

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Tour/Review: Viper’s Creed by T.L. Shreffler

Today we have a double review – for Sora’s Quest and Viper’s Creed.  Check out more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and giveaways on the tour hosted by These Paper Worlds Book Tours.  Please note that everyone who leaves a comment at any of the tour stops is entered into a drawing to win a custom blog design by Skyway Avenue Designs.  The winner will be announced on November 1st at thesepaperworldsbt.blogspot.com.  A full tour schedule is available HERE.  Although, I think both books are worth 4 1/2 stars, I don’t typically give half stars.  So I’m giving Sora’s Quest 4 stars and Viper’s Creed 5 stars, because I enjoyed the second book more than the first book.

Sora’s Quest (#1) Review:

Publisher:  The Runaway Pen

Genre: YA Fantasy

You can buy Sora’s Quest on ebook at Amazon.  Paperback and nook copies will be available soon.  More reviews available on Goodreads.

Overall:  If you read books for romance, then put this book down.  There are teasers and hints of romance in these pages, but nothing that will satisfy readers who enjoy a healthy dose of lip-locking.  That said, I loved that this book deviated from the traditional fantasy layout.  Sora isn’t rescued, rather kidnapped, and you spend most of the novel trying to figure out whether or not her “kidnappers” are the good guys or the bad guys.  Or maybe they’re not the ONLY bad guys, because her “kidnappers” are being hunted by a supernatural man with unstoppable desire for vengeance – who will kill anyone who gets in his way.  Overall, I enjoyed how this book ventured down a very dark and unpredictable path through a well-crafted fantasy world, while still maintaining a clean YA rating:  No sex.  No language.  Very little gore.

Characters:  I guess you can say that there is a bit of a love triangle between Sora, Crush, and Dorian, but its downplayed.  Sora finds herself repulsed by Crush (although I kinda like him) and yet the two of them keep getting paired up.  Sora enjoyed the good-humor and flirts of Dorian much more, but it doesn’t seem that he’s taking her seriously.  I really like Sora.  She transforms from a teenager with a wild imagination to a woman who would do anything for her companions.  She’s got a mouth on her and is anything BUT a pushover.  I like the complexities of all the characters, although I’m a little disappointed that I know so little about Crush, Burn, and Dorian.

Plot:  Sora plans to run away on her wedding day but instead gets kidnapped.  She finds out that her companions (kidnappers) are being hunted.  And then, she discovers that not only is there magic in the world but that she is in possession of a magical object that will help save her life.  Sora gets few answers about what’s going on and where she is going and it left me just as frustrated as her at times.  I do like that there are no lengthy info-dumps in this book.  I also like that the pacing doesn’t lag much, although I wasn’t quite sure where the novel would leave me.  There are quite a few deaths in this book, so be careful which characters you get attached to.

Ending:  The ending shocked me in quite a few ways.  For one, I expected there to be more of a romance.  Two, there was a scene that made me particularly sad – I had gotten quite attached to a certain someone.  And three, in the last couple pages I was ANNOYED by a certain decision made by two of the characters.  Although Sora had some resolution to her issues (definitely not what you’d expect), there are many questions left unanswered about her companions.  I like that this book was unpredictable, but don’t bother reading it without picking up the second book right after.  This isn’t a stand-alone book.

Book Description:

A noblewoman, an assassin, and a soul-stealing necklace….

Sora planned on running away from her wedding, but she never expected to be kidnapped! Dumped into a world of magical races, arcane jewelry and forgotten lore, she finds herself at the mercy of a dangerous assassin, haunted by an even darker past. She yearns for freedom, but he won’t let her go—not when her Cat’s Eye necklace is the only thing that can save his life.

But the necklace itself presents a problem. It is an ancient device from the long forgotten War of the Races, and its magic has the ability to steal souls. Can Sora learn to wield its power—or will the power wield her? (Winner of the SKOW 2006 Best Fantasy Award)

Rating:  B

Viper’s Creed (#2) Review:

Publisher:  Self-published

Genre: YA Fantasy

Viper’s Creed is expected to be published October 31st on Amazon (later on Barnes & Noble).  More reviews available on Goodreads.

(There should be no spoilers from the first book in this review.)

Overall:  There’s slightly more romance in this one than the first, but not much more than teases and hints.  Again, the world is so well defined that I can picture each town and place they visit with ease.  I definitely felt more of a connection to the minor characters in this book that were also in the first.  The chapters from Crash’s POV were my favorite -while in the first book, I liked the chapters told from Volcrian’s POV.  I definitely recommend this series for those who like dark fantasy or fantasy that is out-of-the-box.

Characters:  If you’ve ever read the Rhapsody series by Elizabeth Hayden, then the characters might seem familiar.  There’s an “innocent girl”, moody assassin, and a friendly giant.  Fortunately, these characters are more complex and immuned to the Mary Sue curse that hit every single character in Rhapsody one by one.  By the third book in THAT series, I’d given up and marked the series as a DNF because the characters were reversing in complexity.  Not here.  In Viper’s Creed, we finally get to figure out more about Sora’s companions.  Sora herself has grown up and is starting to realise her feelings for a certain someone.  I think out of all the characters, Crush is the one who we get to learn most about and connect to.  My suspicions from the first book are correct and he is guarding some very dark secrets.  Ones that he won’t give up, even to his friends.

Plot:  The book starts out with a bang.  Like the first book, there will be deaths and no one is off-limits.  In Viper’s Creed, Sora groups up with her companions.  They have to kill the people hunting them and save the world.  Easy enough, right?  As opposed to the first book, Sora and her companions are on the same mission (or are they?).  There is finally a definite goal and solution to the problem.  Only…Sora can die from the solution, which isn’t cool because I like her as a heroine.

Ending:  Again, the book ends a little too soon.  It’s not a cliffhanger exactly but it’s pretty damn close.  I’m frustrated that it will be a year before I get to read the next (final?) installment.  Even with the ending, this was a pretty awesome book.  I definitely recommend that you read it, but if you’re easily upset by unanswered plots…you may want to wait until the third book is available before tackling this series.  You have been warned.  Reading this book will make you stalk the Amazon page in hopes that pre-order becomes available for #3 Volcrain’s Hunt soon.

Book Description:

Sora is having visions. Strange, terrifying visions brought on by her Cat’s Eye necklace, an ancient and magical device. Spurred to action, she leaves her mother’s cabin to find Crash, the mysterious assassin who once changed her life. She is certain that together, they can discover what the necklace is trying to tell her.

Crash is still on the run from the dark sorcerer, Volcrian, but now a plague is spreading across the land. Volcrian’s quest for vengeance has awakened something far more evil than himself; a force that could destroy the entire kingdom. Together, he and Sora must harness the power of the Cat’s Eye and kill the sorcerer before it’s too late.

Rating:  A

I received copies of these books as part of a book tour in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:

(Image and bio borrowed from Goodreads.)

T. L. Shreffler lives in Los Angeles, CA. She loves diversity, fantasy, romance, iced tea, long walks, philosophy, and thrift store shopping. She recently graduated with a BA in Badass (Creative Writing) and her poetry has been published consecutively in Eclipse: A Literary Journal and The Northridge Review. She works as the assistant editor for the funky and fantastic Tinsel Tokyo Magazine!

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