Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Ball at Pemberley complete and a new project to come!

For those of you who don't know, A Ball at Pemberley is a story written entirely on Twitter by several people, including yours truly. The entire project was crazy and a huge amount of fun. Unfortunately, due to my lack of internet, I only managed to join in near the end (I introduced the constabulary in the middle of chapter 44). Since there were so many celebrities (Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Matthew Macfadyen, etc.) being thrown into the story, their names had to be changed and the story edited, but it is finally complete and posted in its entirety here. Go read it!

There is a new project starting up called The Austen Games. Just think about that title for a moment...what comes to mind? If you are thinking of a certain popular YA series combined with Austen characters, then you are on the right track. I have no idea where this is going, but it is going to be fun!

                               Lieder Madchen

Monday, September 26, 2011

Book Review: The Medusa Amulet by Robert Masello

The Medusa Amulet
by Robert Masello
The Medusa Amulet: A Novel
Genre: Historical Fiction / Adventure / Thriller / Mystery / Fantasy / Mythology
Ages: 15 and up
I received an ARC of this novel through Goodreads.

What begins as a simple investigation quickly spirals into a twisting, turning tale of suspense and intrigue, a race against time that carries Franco across continents and centuries in a desperate search for this ultimate treasure—and a work of unimaginable power . . . and menace.

Aided only by a beautiful young Florentine with a conspirator’s mind and dark secrets, Franco is soon caught up in a life-and-death struggle from which there is no escape. Relentlessly pursued by deadly assassins and demons of his own, in the end he must confront—and defeat—an evil greater than anything conjured in his worst nightmares.

My Review:
This book was a fairly typical action-adventure story with a touch of the supernatural. The plot was interesting and the characters decently written, but there was nothing really special about it. The ending and the identity of the mysterious villain was very predictable but not unsatisfactory.

I rather liked the idea of the Medusa legend being used to give immortality. However, when you have all of the villains in history to choose from, why pick the most obvious? I mean, really, I probably would have guessed his identity even if there weren't a bunch of German-named bad guys running around.

The main characters were both likable and had pretty good chemistry. David was smart and interesting while Olivia was quirky and kind of fun. The only thing that ruined their relationship for me was their names, and that is purely personal. My brother, who is six years older than me, is named David. My sister, who is four years younger than me, is named Olivia. So the scenes where they were kissing - or worse - were just wrong to me.

This book wasn't bad, it just wasn't for me. I would recommend it as a light action thriller for a rainy day.

Content Ratings: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme).

I rate it an 8.10 for multiple uses of the f-word.

I give it a 6.10 for a vague scene and a couple of fadeaways.

I rate it an 8.10 for lots of violence, multiple murders, mutilations and general gore.

                          Lieder Madchen

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Normal Life - A Short Story by Me

I recently wrote a short story entitled A Normal Life. It takes place in a small city not far from where I live so all of the locations are real. I came up with the idea when I was sitting in the park under a tree, the same tree my character Laurel sits under, and I thought about what my life might have been like if if I had been born to different, less loving parents.

A Normal Life is the story of a girl with a secret who wants only to be ordinary. Here is a teaser:

The sun was shining with mellow warmth, so no one was really interested in swimming. As the others debated whether they wanted to run up the dune or get some lunch first, Laurel headed straight for the beach. She had never seen the ocean before, and she was mesmerized. Her knee-length skirt swirled in the breeze as she stepped into the surf. A smile of pure, unadulterated delight spread over her face as she closed her eyes and began to spin in circles, her arms flung out around her. She didn’t know if the others were watching, and at the moment she couldn’t care less. She had found beauty.

After several moments of uninhibited bliss, she felt hands capture hers. She didn’t have to open her eyes to know that they belonged to Matt, and her smile grew even more radiant. She let him guide her, leading her in a waltz across the water, never opening her eyes. She knew he would not let her fall.

I have published it in its entirety of the TeenInk website, and you can read it here. The site categorizes it as a novel, but it isn't very long. I would be extremely grateful if you would leave a comment with some feedback about what parts you liked most and what parts you thought could have been done better. Thank you so much!

                             Lieder Madchen

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Unruly Magic Giveaway Blitz!

Hello! Today I am participating in the Unruly Magic Giveaway Blitz. I have never done a blitz before but I have always thought they were cool. :) Thanks to The Bookish Snob Promotions, I have two e-copies of Unruly Magic to share with you!

Unruly Magic - the second book in the Amazon UK contemporary fantasy Top 10 bestsellling Stella Mayweather series.

A witch on the run.

A quiet little town where everything is far from normal.

A fractured witch council threatening to tear the supernatural world apart.

Life hasn't been easy for novice witch Stella but small town life seems to be agreeing with her. When a frightened young woman appears in Stella's house and begs for her protection, Stella is pulled into a dangerous game where she'll need both her magic and her wits to unravel the secrets that surround her.

Just what is her new home town's big mystery? Is Stella's new charge really on the run from the Council or is she a dangerous murderer ready to manipulate her way to freedom? And with old friends and new seemingly ready to help, who can Stella trust when she's not even all that sure that they don't have their own agenda.

With bewitching friends and two super-sexy mysterious men by her side, Stella must uncover dangerous truths, fast, before she ends up paying the ultimate price.

About the Author:

Hi, I'm Camilla and I'm the author of Illicit Magic and Unruly Magic, the first two books in the Stella Mayweather Paranormal Series. The series starts with a lonely young English woman, Stella, who has been caught up in a terrifying witch hunt and is whisked thousands of miles away to what she thinks is safety to learn her craft. The series is a blend of magic and mystery with a splash of romance and a dash of humour - and while the girls really do go all out to save themselves, there's always a hunky guy or two on hand to help them out.

I live in London, UK but I try to travel as often as I can - lately I've been to Paris, all over Denmark, Luxembourg, and several US states. In my day job I'm a journalist and editor so I write for magazines, newspapers and websites throughout the world (my favourite assignment was spending a week riding rollercoasters - if you listen carefully you can probably still hear me screaming).

You can find this book on Amazon, Amazon UK, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads. You can find the author on Facebook, Twitter and her website.

To enter, just leave a comment saying why you want this book with your e-mail address. For an extra entry, spread the word and leave a link. This giveaway runs until Oct. 1st at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time. For the full schedule of stops and many more chances to win, go here. Good luck!
                                       Lieder Madchen

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bookie Brunch - Sept. 18

Welcome to Bookie Brunch
Come join the discussion!
* Every Sunday*

Today's host: Songs and Stories
Next week's host: Snowdrop Dreams of Books

My Wonderful Guests:
Amanda Lee of StoryWings (@StoryWings)

On the Menu:
What is your favorite kind of magical/mythical/supernatural creature to read about?
Related topics: Is there any kind of mythical creature you would like to see more of? Or less?

Hello! Please help me in giving a warm welcome to the four lovely ladies we have with us today and let's get started!
Amanda Lee takes a sip of her Gloria Jean's Lemon and Lychee Iced Tea and begins with:

This is a really hard one to answer for me! Prolifically I read mostly vampires, and many people incorrectly think that they must be my favourite mythical creatures because I read so much of it, but I think my favourite mythical creature would have to be a tie between witches and elementals. Or alternatively elemental witches! I think this is due mainly to what I would love the chance to become if given the opportunity. The main thing I want to be is immortal, the second thing I most want to be is a water elemental, so although I am insanely jealous of people like Katara from Avatar or Dumbledore from Harry Potter or Jane True from Tempest Rising (all able to manipulate water with relative ease) they are the people I dream about when I think who I want to be and who I most look forward to reading about. (this also may be influenced by the fact that astrologically I am a water elemental too ;) )

Related Topic: I would like to see more elementals, and more witches. But I want the old fashioned eye of newt witches not the new wiccan ones. As much as I enjoy reading wiccan witches I really want to immerse myself in a more adult version of Harry Potter...maybe it's just my current spiral of books that are leading me in the direction of constant vampire novels and the paranormal rather than fantasy.
Lucia tastes her honey tapioca milk tea and replies with:

I've always loved every type of magical creature. They're all special in their own way. It's like asking me to choose my favorite animal to read about. With me, I've always have difficulties choosing. This is why multiple choice tests make me so nervous. Not that I'm saying the supernaturals are animals- they're way more intelligent. Each author does different research and writes his/her story with their own take on the mythology, so each book and the mythology within is different. Of course, the usual rules apply (vampires drink blood, werewolves turn into wolves, witches do magic), but there are exceptions. For instance, who ever thought that vampires would sparkle? I can't choose my favorite creature if there are different interpretations. And frankly, I don't care. If the book's good, I'll read it.

Related Topic: There is one creature I would like to see less of, and that is, well, vampires. I mean, seriously? After all the Twilight rage, it seems like vampires are all we can talk about. They're getting boring and cliche, and I'm really looking out for new stuff. For instance, can't there be more books about unicorns? They're awesome.

Velvet makes herself a mexican mochaccino and answers with:
My favorite creature would be zombies - so much so that I've created an annual virtual book blog event September Zombies on my site. All is welcome to join in the event. This year the zombie madness takes place between September 20-30 and will include zombie book giveaways and guest post flash fiction pieces from zombie authors and fellow book bloggers. Details are here.
Why zombie stories?  The draw for me is finding the hero amongst all the horror. 

However, I find it fun to read about the frou-frou and campy zombie stories. 

Related Topic: We hear a lot of mermaid stories. On the flip side, I would like to hear some about the mermen. I wonder what life is like for them under the sea. 
I set my coconut bubble tea down and say:

My favorite mythological creatures are the classics. Fairies, winged horses, dragons…especially dragons. I think I can blame my dragon obsession on the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede. That is the series that showed me how very versatile dragons are. They can be the monsters of legend or the best of friends. Since then, I have devoured book after book with dragons. I have read books where they are natural creatures (Temeraire), genetically engineered protectors (Dragonriders of Pern), or elemental companions (Eon). I never get tired of reading different author’s perceptions of them.

Related Topic: I would love to see less vampires in fiction. The simplest reason for this would be that my mom banned them from the house and she would burn any book about them that I tried to read (Yes, laugh if you like. You do not know my mom). The other reason would be that I am simply not interested in reading about sparkly bloodsuckers who turn their girlfriends into the undead.

A creature I would love to see more of would be elementals. I don’t really care what element, but I love stories where the characters have an affinity with or control over nature. It can make things so very interesting.

Since the giveaway from the last Brunch I hosted is still open, any thoughtful comment you leave on this discussion will act as a second chance to win the Sense and Sensibility book/movie set. If you comment on both posts, you will get two entries. Go here to find that discussion. :)

All thoughtful comments will be considered and probably get a response from fellow bloggers. In fact, you’re encouraged to talk about it and share viewpoints or include links to relevant materials. We’d like everyone to have a nice time. Differing viewpoints are just fine, even if strongly expressed, but inflammatory or off-topic comments will be removed.

Contact Bookie Brunch:
If you would like to be a host, contact: @StoryWings
If you want to bring goodies for a giveaway: @StoryWings
If you want to suggest a topic or question for discussion, you can reach me at @LiederMadchen
To see an archive of past brunches go here: Fluidity of Time

What do you think of mythical creatures? And, since they came up in four out of five replies, what do you think of vampires?

Thank you so much for visiting!

                                 Lieder Madchen

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Blog Tour: Betrayed by Ednah Walters Interview & Giveaway!

I am so happy to have Ednah Walters here as part of the blog tour for her new novel, Betrayed. I loved this book and her writing, so it is fantastic to have her here! Let's give a big thanks to Ms. Walters and The Bookish Snob for setting up this tour. :)

Hello! Thank you so much for visiting my blog and agreeing to answer a few of my questions. I loved both Awakened and Betrayed so I am very excited. :)

Thank you, Natalie, for inviting me to stop by your site.

What made you decide to write YA fantasy?

Hmm, why YA? I think there’s a young girl in me dying to come out and relive my teen years vicariously through my characters. The fresh way teen see things is so much fun to write. The love is intense, the characters not burdened by years of baggage adults in adult romance have and I get to make them do things I wish I did when I was a teen.

As for fantasy, it is fun to create a world that’s so different from ours, bend and invent rules/laws. It’s like my personal make-believe world, and poor Lil and the Guardians are my puppets (except most of the time I wish I’m Lil).

What are your top five favorite fantasy novels?

Daughters of the Moon series, The Mortal Instrument series, The Vampire Diaries, Vampire Academy and Harry Potter series.

If you could be a Guardian like your characters, which element would you like to be attuned to? And what would you do with your powers?

I’d like Psi abilities. Can you imagine the power to mess with people heads, their thoughts and memories? I’d make people forget their pains and memories that cripple them, make evil/greedy people become do-gooders, get rid of dictators and religious fanatics.  Of course the flip side is such powers come with rules, like not forcing people to do things against their will. I’d probably break them like Lil does from time to time.

Are there any songs that you listened to while writing or songs that come to mind when you think about certain characters?

Oh, yeah. Song I listened to when I wrote Betrayed includes:

Breathless by Shayne Ward
Just a Kiss by Lady Antebellum
Dangerously in love by Destiny’s Child.
Eye of the Tiger by Survivor,
It’s my Life by Bon Jovi
Papa Don’t Preach by Madonna
Raise Your Glass by Pink

What is your favorite kind of scene to write? What kind do you think is the hardest?

It is easier to write makeout scenes because I like mushy stuff, but it’s so hard to write fighting scenes. I write from Lil’s point of view and I can’t just focus on what she does, but what she sees the others do.  Half the time, I close my eyes and put myself in her shoes as she fought.

Quick Questions:

Describe yourself Twitter-style, 140 characters or less.

A private person who hears imaginary voices and writes about young love, spunky heroines and gorgeous heroes.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

An in-betweener…lol, part plotter, part pantser. I usually try to have a guideline with what happens at the beginning and the end, and who the villain is and his or her motive, but then I start writing and my characters take over. I’ve had subplot appear out of nowhere. For instance in HUNTED, book 3, I just wanted a straightforward new bad guy they can’t defeat but the characters decided to spice it up a bit.

Cake or ice cream?

LOL, Cake with whipped cream.

Thank you for the great answers! (Though I can't believe you like cake more than ice cream. :) ) I can't wait to read Hunted and meet the new villain!

About the Author:

I grew up reading Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries before I graduated to Mills & Boons (starting with Janet Daily's Shutter the Sky).

I enjoy good love stories, tingly mysteries and wondrous adventures. When I finished college and decided to be a stay-at-home mother, I devoured books like they were going out of production, until reading just wasn't enough. So I decided to teach myself to write fiction.

I've written picture books, contemporary and romantic suspense, biracial/multicultural books, and finally YA fantasy. Most of them are still taking up RAM on my computer. Awakened is the first book in The Guardian Legacy series. It was released in September 2011 with rave reviews. Betrayed (book 2 in the series) was released August 1st 2011. Hunted, book 3 in the series, is due out in March.

When I'm not knee deep in battles between Guardians and demons, I write adult contemporary romance (the Fitzgerald family series), sassy, stubborn and gutsy women anyone can identify with and men anyone would be proud to claim. When not writing, I do things with my family, five children or my darling husband of 19 years. I live in a picturesque valley in Utah, the setting for my YA series.

Now, for the giveaway! I have one e-copy of Betrayed to share with you. All you have to do is leave a nice, thoughtful comment for Ms. Walters with your e-mail address and whether you like cake or ice cream better. For and extra entry, spread the word and leave a link. This giveaway ends on Sept. 30th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time.

Follow the tour to see other fun posts and giveaways! The next post is at Fangtastic Books.

Betrayed can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads and my personal favorite, Powell's Books.

On her site, Ms. Walter's is having an awesome giveaway for the Final Stop. Click on the button above to see her post and how to enter. Good luck to you all!

                               Lieder Madchen

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Blog Tour: The Willows: Haven by Hope Collier Review & Giveaway

The Willows: Haven
by Hope Collier
Genre: YA Fantasy / Romance / Urban Fantasy
Ages: 14 and up
I received an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of a blog tour hosted by A Tale of Many Reviews.

When tragedy strikes, seventeen year-old Ashton Blake sets out on a cross-country road trip, leaving the comforts of Malibu for the mountains of Kentucky. Along the way, she encounters Gabe Willoughby—the mysterious drifter with eyes like the sea and a knowing smile. Getting to know Gabe raises questions about her past. But no secret can be buried forever, and Ashton soon finders herself in a world where water is air and myth becomes reality.

Just as Ashton comes to accept her newfound heritage, she’s summoned to fulfill a treaty laid down centuries before — a treaty that will divide her love and test her loyalty. In the end, her future isn’t her biggest concern, her humanity is. To run may mean war, but is she strong enough to stay?

My Review:
It took me a little while to get into this book but when I did I really enjoyed it. Ashton was a character I could really like and sympathize with. Gabe was a little harder to understand and even after reading the whole book I am not sure what to think of him, but he was certainly intriguing. I hope the sequel comes out soon so that some of my questions about him can be answered. All of those mysterious hints.

I loved that there were naiads and dryads instead of the more "popular" supernatural creatures. Naiads (water nymphs) have always especially interested me when reading mythology, so it was nice to see them featured so prominently in this book.

I liked Ms. Collier's writing style and her character development was really good. Though I wish she had given Kyle just a little bit more of a chance with the love triangle...oh well, I liked Gabe, I really did. It is just that I liked Kyle a tiny bit more. My only problem with the story was that the plot and romance was sometimes a little confusing. Other than that though, it was a fun fantasy with an interesting premise.

This is a very promising first book in a series that I would recommend to any lovers of fantasy and romance.

Content Ratings: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme).

I rate it a 2.10 for mild swearing.

I give it a 3.10 for a couple of scenes that came very close.

I rate it a 6.10 for murder and kidnapping.

And now, for the giveaway! I get to share an e-copy of The Willows: Haven with one random commenter! All you have to do is leave a comment saying what intrigues you most about the book with your e-mail address. For an extra entry, spread the word somewhere and leave a link. This giveaway ends on Oct. 6th, 11:59 Pacific Time.

Follow along the tour for more chances to win! Tomorrow's stop will be at FantasyFairy. At the end of the tour, there will be a video interview with Hope Collier and a chance to win a signed copy of The Willows: Haven with swag. You can click on the tour button above to see the full schedule of stops. Good luck to you all!

                                          Lieder Madchen

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Book Review #101: Pirate King by Laurie R. King

Pirate King
by Laurie R. King

Genre: Historical Fiction / Mystery
Ages: 14 and up
I received an ARC of this novel from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.
This book is the eleventh memoir of Mary Russell, but it is readable as a standalone novel. You can also read my reviews of The Beekeeper's Apprentice (book 1) and A Monstrous Regiment of Women (book 2).

In this latest adventure featuring the intrepid Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, New York Times bestselling author Laurie R. King takes readers into the frenetic world of silent films—where the pirates are real and the shooting isn’t all done with cameras.

In England’s young silent-film industry, the megalomaniacal Randolph Fflytte is king. Nevertheless, at the request of Scotland Yard, Mary Russell is dispatched to investigate rumors of criminal activities that swirl around Fflytte’s popular movie studio. So Russell is traveling undercover to Portugal, along with the film crew that is gearing up to shoot a cinematic extravaganza, Pirate King. Based on Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, the project will either set the standard for moviemaking for a generation . . . or sink a boatload of careers.

Nothing seems amiss until the enormous company starts rehearsals in Lisbon, where the thirteen blond-haired, blue-eyed actresses whom Mary is bemusedly chaperoning meet the swarm of real buccaneers Fflytte has recruited to provide authenticity. But when the crew embarks for Morocco and the actual filming, Russell feels a building storm of trouble: a derelict boat, a film crew with secrets, ominous currents between the pirates, decks awash with budding romance—and now the pirates are ignoring Fflytte and answering only to their dangerous outlaw leader. Plus, there’s a spy on board. Where can Sherlock Holmes be? As movie make-believe becomes true terror, Russell and Holmes themselves may experience a final fadeout.

Pirate King is a Laurie King treasure chest—thrilling, intelligent, romantic, a swiftly unreeling masterpiece of suspense.

My Review:
This novel had me doubled up with laughter multiple times. While most books in this series deal with darker and more serious themes, this one is downright silly at times. Mary Russell, esteemed scholar, detective and wife of the infamous Sherlock Holmes, is willing to do nearly anything to avoid her brother-in-law, including, reluctantly, joining the film crew of one of the most ridiculous productions ever. The motion picture is to be about a film crew making The Pirates of Penzance only to encounter real life pirates. So, of course, the makers of the film based on people making a film about pirates and encountering real pirates, encounter real pirates. Can't you just see the potential in such a plot?

This book featured a rich cast of unique and entertaining characters. Mr. Flytte, the director, is quirky, obsessed and very short. His second cousin, Geoffrey Hale, is the more sensible one. Then there is La Rocha, the piratical Portuguese man they hired to play the Pirate King...but is he really acting? And is he really Portuguese? Also, there is the plethora of blonde girls running around with fake constables and perhaps not so fake pirates. My favorite new character by far was Mr. Pessoa, the poet with multiple personality disorder and many names. He was actually a real poet, so I may have to go find some of his work now...

The story went along at a good pace and there was so much going on that I never knew what was going to happen next, though I did figure out the villain fairly early (or at least one of them). The clues were subtle and well-hidden throughout the plot. I loved the Byron quotes that kept cropping up, much to Russell's irritation. I do wish that Holmes had made more of an appearance in the story, but when he finally joined in the fun truly started. His disguise put his musical talents to very good use, and that is all I am going to tell you.

This book continues Ms. King's tradition of wonderful writing and complex characters and yet still manages to be completely unique. I would recommend it to lovers of mystery, light-hearted farce, pirates, film-making, poetry and...well, there is something in it for everyone. :)

Content Ratings: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme).

I rate it a 2.10 for some very rare and very mild exclamations.

I rate it a 1.10 for some mild hints.

I give it a 5.10 for a couple of deaths and brief scenes of fighting.

                                     Lieder Madchen

Book Review #100: A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King

A Monstrous Regiment of Women
by Laurie R. King
Genre: Historical Fiction / Mystery
Ages: 14 and up
This is the second of Mary Russell's memoirs, sequel to The Beekeeper's Apprentice.

It is 1921 and Mary Russell, Sherlock Holmes's brilliant apprentice, now an Oxford graduate with a degree in theology, is on the verge of acquiring a sizable inheritance. Independent at last, with a passion for divinity and detective work, her most baffling mystery may now involve Holmes and the burgeoning of a deeper affection between herself and the retired detective. Russell's attentions turn to the New Temple of God and its leader, Margery Childe, a charismatic suffragette and a mystic, whose draw on the young theology scholar is irresistible. But when four bluestockings from the Temple turn up dead shortly after changing their wills, could sins of a capital nature be afoot? Holmes and Russell investigate, as their partnership takes a surprising turn.

My Review:
This is the darkest book in the series, and one of my favorites. Holmes and Russell have been together for years now, and their relationship is going through another change. Russell is now an adult and ready to explore. When she takes a case of her her own, Holmes has to take a step back and let her go her own way. This book is the one that really sets the tone of their future partnership. Holmes' understated yet very intense emotions come even closer to the surface when Russell is threatened, adding another layer to their already complicated feelings.

The character of Margery Childe is complex, unique and fascinating. She has such a mixture of passion, intelligence and ignorance. Her vibrant personality draws people to her like moths to a flame, including Russell. People around Margery are dying, but is she the one to blame? Margery's theological philosophy combined with Russell's expertise in the field lead to some interesting conversations that really get you thinking. Also, Margery is a wonderful illustration of both the pros and cons of extreme feminism.

Drug use plays a very important role in the story. First with young Miles, the fiance of an old friend of Russell's who has returned damaged from the Great War. Then with Russell herself. Not wanting to give anything else away, I will just say that the latter half of this novel becomes deeply personal and painful for both Russell and Holmes.

I became so engrossed in the characters of this novel, their flaws and imperfections, their emotions and reactions. This novel has some of the best character development I have ever seen. I would recommend this book to all lovers of mystery, historical fiction and well-written characters. It is not one to be missed.

1 (mild) through 10 (extreme).

I give it a 3.10 for some mild swearing and one instance of mid-level name-calling.

I rate it a 2.10 for some innuendos and references to prostitution.

I give it a 7.10 for multiple murders, kidnapping, and forced drug injections.

                                  Lieder Madchen

Friday, September 9, 2011

Book Review #99: 7 Scorpions: Rebellion by Mike Saxton

7 Scorpions: Rebellion
by Mike Saxton

Genre: Science Fiction
Ages: 16 and up
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

On May 7th, the mysterious dictator known only as the Zodiac unleashed an event called the Flash Storm, destroying every major city and military base across the world in one moment. No one saw it coming. There was no warning. There was no terrorist chatter. Hundreds of millions perished almost instantly. Humanity across the globe was plunged into chaos. In the days that followed, the enigmatic and frightening Seekers marched on the remnants of humanity, systematically enslaving or destroying everyone in their path.

All attempts to stand up to Zodiac's Grand Army failed. His Seekers, who radiate a mysterious aura that induces intense fear were virtually unbeatable.  It seemed as though the prophecies of the End of Days were coming to pass until the day came that a glimmer of hope arose in the form of an exile who had been part of a super soldier experiment. It is up to this man, Vincent Black, to rally a resistance to free humanity from the grips of oblivion, if he can let go of his past.

My Review:
Science fiction is such a wide and wonderful genre, don't you agree? And this book is a perfect example of all the things that make it fun. The hero, Vincent Black, is virtually indestructible and has a single-minded goal of whupping the bad guys. The heroine, Lexi, is tough, pretty and physically incapable of fear.

Vincent is an interesting character. As he will tell you if you ask him, he is what happens when the government plays around with things they shouldn't. He comes across as being a man of mystery, but he is actually very matter-of-fact about who he is and what he has done...except for the things that are a mystery even to him. He and Lexi make an excellent team...and perhaps more someday?

The story seems pretty typical at first, but it becomes more complicated as you read.. At first, you see the evil warlord who causes death and destruction everywhere he goes with thousands of faceless minions to do his bidding. But then you see the face of a minion and it is not what you expect. The lines between good and evil blur a little and your sympathies shift just an inch. That is when it starts to get really interesting.

While this book has a several dark themes such as past rape and abuse as well as current deaths and torture, the writing style is so...enthusiastic. You can see how much the author loves writing and how he likes to show off his characters, which adds an element of fun. Vincent can be just a tad too dramatic at times, or Zodiac can call someone a maggot at the top of his lungs, and it made me smile. The only small problem I had with the writing was that sometimes the dialogue seemed a little awkward to me.

I would recommend this novel to lovers of science fiction, video games and the Terminator movies. :)
1(mild) through 10 (extreme).

I rate it 4.10 for mild to mid-level swearing.

I give it a 4.10 for references, innuendos, past rape and attempted rape.

I give it an 8.10 for murder, torture and war.
                                          Lieder Madchen

Interview with Mike Saxton, author of 7 Scorpions: Rebellion

Today we have Mike Saxton, author of 7 Scorpions: Rebellion, the first in a new sci-fi series. He has kindly agreed to answer some of my questions about him and his book!

Hello! Welcome to Songs and Stories, it is wonderful to have you here for a visit. I really enjoyed 7 Scorpions: Rebellion, so I am thrilled that I get to ask you a few questions. :)

Would you tell us a little about yourself?

Well, I’m a big kid. I just turned 34, but I feel like I’m 18 and I act like I’m 10. In addition to writing I have a full time job and I’m back in school via online at Capella University. In my insanity, I decided to pursue a PhD. I’m still trying to figure out why I did that. I’ve been married for 10 years (and right before my birthday, the receptionist at work couldn’t believe that because she thought I was 22) and I have a 6 ½ year old son who is the light of my life.

What do you think is the best thing about being an author?

It’s definitely the creative expression. Writing is an art form and it’s the only one I have any degree of ability in. I sing like a frog. I dance like I have two left feet. Don’t even get me started on musical instruments. And I definitely have trouble drawing a stick figure even with a ruler.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

I have two main challenges with writing. The first is that I’m dyslexic, so spell check and grammar check, as well as a good and patient editor are all a must for me. The second thing is that when the burst of inspiration comes, I have to move my fingers fast enough on the keyboard to get it all out.

Which one of your characters is your favorite?

That’s a tough one but I would have to go with Vincent because of his strange and eventful past as well as his strange and eventful present. In the dreams I had that inspired the 7 Scorpions Trilogy, Vincent appeared the most.

Can you give us some clues as to what your heroes are doing?

Right now, they’re just trying to survive!

What are some of your favorite sci-fi stories? (Books, movies, etc.)

I am a big time Star Wars fan and I’ve read over 40 of the novels from the expanded universe and numerous graphic novels. Amongst those, the Darth Bane trilogy remains one of my favorite storylines. Timothy Zahn also did a great job with Allegiance which quickly became one of my favorites. Although my favorite novel of all time definitely would have to be Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King.

As far as movies go, Star Wars (and yes I actually liked the prequel trilogy although the book for Revenge of the Sith was better than the movie) is an all time favorite. The Transformers franchise, especially the generation 1 show and animated movie will always have a spot on my shelf. In the anime realm, Robotech holds the top spot in my eyes.

If you could have dinner with any three authors, living or dead, which three would you choose?

Limited to 3 huh? That’s torture. Definitely Stephen King, since he wrote my favorite novel of all time. Kurt Vonnegut is another one of my favorites, and his book Slaughterhouse V is one of my top picks. I would have to say Drew Karpyshyn would have to be in this trio since he is the author of the Darth Bane trilogy.

Thank you so much for stopping by! I am really looking forward to your next book. :)

To find out more about Mike and his books, you can find him on:
Twitter: @7ScorpionsBook, LinkedIn or his blog.

You can read my review of 7 Scorpions: Rebellion here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Book Review #98: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Hush, Hush
by Becca Fitzpatrick

Genre: YA Paranormal / Fantasy
Ages: 14 and up

For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her...until Patch comes along.

With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment, but after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is far more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.
For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

My Review:
I loved this book. Utterly. Completely. Loved it. Mostly because of Patch. Don't get me wrong, I really liked Nora, but she has nothing on Patch. He is not nice, nor is he cute. He is a perfect illustration of the term "bad boy." He isn't one who uses the attitude as a facade; he seriously considers murdering the heroine for his own gain. That is actually his intention for most of the book, until the point when he gives in and is willing to sacrifice everything for her. Swoon. Nora is sweet, nice, a little naive and easy to sympathize with. She is immediately attracted to Patch even though she can tell he is dangerous. And, really, how could she help herself?

This book is well-written and fast-paced without speeding through the plot. It was perhaps a little bit predictable at times, but never completely obvious. The romance was really interesting with the unusual homicidal edge on Patch's part and the characters had great chemistry. I went through the entire novel in one night and wished it was longer. I really liked the ending and how it didn't have the popular cliffhanger but left enough unfinished business to keep you asking for more.

I would recommend this book to lovers of YA romance and fantasy involving fallen angels. If you like Lauren Kate or Cassandra Clare, you will love this book.

1 (mild) through 10 (extreme).

I rate it a 3.10 for some mild swearing and a brief instance of mid-level profanity.

I rate it a 2.10 for some references and innuendos including a sex ed class.

I give it a 6.10 for multiple scenes of varying degrees of violence.

                                   Lieder Madchen

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Blog Tour: The Keepers by Monique O'Connor James Interview & Giveaway

Today we have Monique O'Connor James over for a visit! Her novel, The Keepers, is a lovely bittersweet story of fallen angels and a grieving young woman. Thanks to Monique and The Bookish Snob Promotions, I was lucky enough to get to read it and ask her a few questions! She is also generously giving away an e-copy of her book to a commenter. :)

When did you decide to write a novel about angels? 

As soon as I started writing the story, I knew I wanted the character to be paranormal.  I didn’t want a vampire because there were so many other stories about vampires.  Ironically, before my mom died 13 years ago she had been writing a story about angels, and so I guess the choice was fate. :)

Why did you make your hero despise humans? 

My idea was that angels or at least this one was a little jealous of humans.  Angels serve God and Humans have the opportunity to do whatever they please.  I wanted Justin to be as flawed as Jess but in a different way, and then I wanted him to meet her and see that his way of thinking wasn’t necessarily correct.

What were the hardest and easiest scenes to write in The Keepers?

The easiest scenes for me to write were the ones where Jess and Justin bicker.  People think they were mad at each other, but they weren’t, they just liked to challenge each other’s thoughts because they were so different.  The hardest scene was the one where Rory takes Jess back to see her mother in Heaven.  For me that was a fantasy that had played out in my mind many times.

Who is your favorite character? 

Honestly, I love them all, but there is something about Rory’s honesty and genuine nature that makes me adore him.  I hope to give him his own book someday.

Are you writing anything new? 

My latest novel, Jamais Vu will be coming out in a couple of weeks!!! I’m working on another project too from a story I wrote a couple of years ago! 

Do you plot things out before writing them or make it up as you go along? 

Ha!  Well, originally I totally flew by the seat of my pants.  However, of late, I’ve been at least doing a rough outline of what I’d like to see happen. I find it helps me stay focused and keep the plot in line.  I don’t think I’ll ever be a hard-core plotter, though.

Is there any music that inspires you while you write? Or songs that come to mind when you think of a specific character? 

The song Breath by Breaking Benjamin reminds me of The Fallen.  I listen to a lot of alternative rock and it really fits the mood of the story line.  I’d love to know what music or songs readers think fit the story!

Thank you so much for visiting! I really enjoyed reading your book and having you here, I hope you stop by again. :)

About the Book:
Jess denies God. In his infinite wisdom, he’s taken everyone she’s ever loved. Moving to the French Quarter was a ploy to erase the guilt she felt for rebuking her faith. Perhaps, if she hadn’t met Justin, an angel preoccupied with getting back into God’s good graces, and drowning in his hatred for humanity, her plan would have worked. Justin’s general disdain for the human race makes him difficult to like, but some higher power has appointed him her keeper. Justin’s convinced he can mend her broken relationship with her maker, but in the process he learns a thing or two about his own humanity. Never mind falling in love, that’s not supposed to happen. In fact, it may even be forbidden. Jess just wants Justin to understand her plight, and he wants to protect her from a world she doesn’t know. If neither are equipped to save the other, then whose soul will live and whose will perish?

And now, for the giveaway! One lucky commenter will win an e-copy of The Keepers. All you have to do is leave something nice for Monique and your e-mail address. For an extra entry, spread the word and leave a link. This giveaway runs until 11:59 Sept. 20 Pacific Time.

Follow the tour for more interviews, guest posts and giveaways! On the final stop, you can enter to win a signed copy of The Keepers from the author!

The next stop in the tour is tomorrow, Sept. 7th at Paranormal Opinion

Even if you don't win, you can find this book at Amazon and Goodreads. :)

Good luck!

                        Lieder Madchen