Friday, June 29, 2012

HUGE Giveaway, Interview & Feature of The Darkening Dream by Andy Gavin

A Vampire Novel with Actual Bite! 

As the modern world establishes itself and pushes the supernatural into the shadows, the supernatural fights back. The Darkening Dream is a chilling new dark fantasy novel by Andy Gavin, creator of Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter. The book has received rave reviews and is on sale for only 99 cents on Amazon Kindle from June 25th-29th! Download your copy here. In addition, Andy is doing a big giveaway, including a $100 gift certificate to Amazon, signed copies of his books, video games, posters, and more! The Darkening Dream Rafflecopter Giveaway Tweet, like, follow, share, blog and grab a copy of his book to enter.

Get your 99 cent copy of The Darkening Dream today on Amazon only.

Long-time readers of dark historical fantasy (Tim Powers, Guy Gavriel Kay, Katherine Kurtz) will appreciate the weaving together of mythology, occult, and religion, while younger readers and fans of HBO dramas (True Blood, Carnivàle) or urban fantasy (Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher) will be drawn to the twisted imagination, graphic action, and romantic tension.

About The Darkening Dream 

Even as the modern world pushes the supernatural aside in favor of science and steel, the old ways remain. God, demon, monster, and sorcerer alike plot to regain what was theirs. 1913, Salem, Massachusetts – Sarah Engelmann’s life is full of friends, books, and avoiding the pressure to choose a husband, until an ominous vision and the haunting call of an otherworldly trumpet shake her. When she stumbles across a gruesome corpse, she fears that her vision was more of a premonition. And when she sees the murdered boy moving through the crowd at an amusement park, Sarah is thrust into a dark battle she does not understand. With the help of Alex, an attractive Greek immigrant who knows a startling amount about the undead, Sarah sets out to uncover the truth. Their quest takes them to the factory mills of Salem, on a midnight boat ride to spy on an eerie coastal lair, and back, unexpectedly, to their own homes. What can Alex’s elderly, vampire-hunting grandfather and Sarah’s own rabbi father tell them? And what do Sarah’s continuing visions reveal? No less than Gabriel’s Trumpet, the tool that will announce the End of Days, is at stake, and the forces that have banded to recover it include a 900 year-old vampire, a trio of disgruntled Egyptian gods, and a demon-loving Puritan minister. At the center of this swirling cast is Sarah, who must fight a millennia-old battle against unspeakable forces, knowing the ultimate prize might be her very soul. 

The Reviews Are In  

"A vampire novel with actual bite." ~The Kirkus Reviews 

"A gorgeously creepy, strangely humorous, and sincerely terrifying tale." ~Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) 

"Mr. Gavin has brought something refreshingly new to a genre now suffused with poorly-concealed bodice-rippers which have more in common with Fabio than Bram Stoker: depth. His big baddies are scary, not romantic interests, and the added religious lore is complex and engaging. Don't expect another Twilight -- the story can get downright creepy, so be prepared for a return to the old horror sensibilities of supernatural fiction." ~Amazon Review 

"With Mr. Gavin's video-game pedigree, I was expecting something aimed squarely at the 18-25 year old fanboy contingent; what I got in The Darkening Dream was something wholly unexpected: A period novel with a female protagonist, a crash-course on Judaism in the colonial years, and multi-layered series of plot arcs featuring a crazy cast of natural and supernatural characters populating turn of the century America." ~Amazon Review 

"…A perfect blend of mystery, magic and myth. A grown-up Grimm's fairy tale... emphasis on grim." ~Amazon Review

Read the first two sample chapters here.

Get your 99 cent copy of The Darkening Dream today on Amazon only.

Naj Asked:  I'm curious, How did you move from being a creator of famous video games to writing a unique YA Paranormal about vampires/egyptian mythology?
Andy Said: From at least high school on I always intended to write a bunch of novels. Work (i.e. making video games) just got in the way. 

And the thing about making games is that you can no longer do it mostly by yourself. These days, most games are big teams of over a hundred people, with budgets over 50 million dollars. All that means that it’s not about your creative expression (most of the time), but about getting it done, well, on time, and on budget. And the roll of team lead is largely about fire fighting and resource (achem people) wrangling. 

So, I really wanted to focus directly on the creative aspects. Dozens of story ideas have been bouncing around in my head for years, and I felt it was time to let a couple of them out. 

The Egyptians worked their way into the story because I wanted a shadowy meta-villain who’s been lurking around for thousands of years. It seemed natural that he might be either Egyptian or Chalcedonian (Babylonian). Now, this might not seem “obvious” to most people, but those two cultures provide the basis of most Western occult traditions. Later my researches dug up the fascinating figure of the Comte de Saint Germain, a crazy alchemist at Louis XVs court who claimed knowledge of the “elixir of Osiris” and it’s resultant immortality. He’s sort of a wandering jew figure and boasted of being Sir Francis Bacon and other historical occultists. I merely take him at his word. And it’s reasonable – if true – that he’d have “friends.” I have a write up on my magical researches here

Naj Asked: What first sparked your interest in the genre (YA) ?

Andy Said: When I started writing the book I wasn’t thinking YA/adult, I was just thinking about my story. I find this age based slotting to be a recent and artificial construct of the big chain bookstores and marketing departments. Regardless, I like to read books with young protagonists, and you write what you like to read. In some ways, the meta idea of The Darkening Dream is a twisted gritty historic reinvention of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which is my favorite television show of all time). I wanted to emulate the angst and wonder factor of dealing with newly discovered weirdness as a young person, but also ground the entire story in researched and “real” magic and occult, and “sell” it via a very hardboiled and matter of fact style. 

As a history buff, I'm always thinking, "that could have been so much better if they didn't make up the historical backstory" so I started with the villains. What kind of ancient evil creatures might still be around? What do they want? And what legitimate human reason would they have to destroy the world (which is so Buffy)? I don't exactly answer the question in TDD, because the motives of 5,000 year old baddies should be mysterious. But trust me, they have a plan, and the sheer audacity of it will literally shake the foundations of the heavens. 

Naj Asked: Why the time (1913) & place (Salem, Massachusetts)? Half the time it's Salem = Witches.

Andy Said: I chose 1913 for a number of reasons. I wanted a time before mobile phones and the internet and a time when people’s knowledge of the world left a little more room for mystery. Additionally, as I always intended this as a series with long lived (achem… immortal) characters, I wanted some runway to cross through history. A also loved the idea of a “vampire in the trenches” so I stuck it right before World War I.

Naj Asked: Finally, Why Vampires?

Andy Said: I’ve been obsessed with vampires for decades. Not because they are romantic, but because they are undead – and I really mean undead – and because older ones are creatures that have stretched across the centuries. But it always bugs me in stories full of supernatural where they touch on the historical roots of superstitions but don’t bother to do the research. I always felt that, as they say, “truth is stranger than fiction” – if, like me, you count myth as truth – and so I wanted to write a fast paced supernatural action story where the spooky stuff is all based on real spooky stuff. And truly, the real deal is much more creepy.

I'd like to thank Andy for answering these questions! It's an honor having you on my book blog! And I do hope to see you more all over the book blogosphere soon (unless you already are and I'm missing a lot). :DD

Mini-Note on the Book: I'm currently reading the Darkening Dream. I would have been finished with it already but Uni got in the way (as usual). So far its great. The dialogue is unique (excessively) and so is the whole plot. It is incredibly dark and slightly-explicit. Lets just say its for the older Young Adults. :D 

About the Author

Andy Gavin is an unstoppable storyteller who studied for his Ph.D. at M.I.T. and founded video game developer Naughty Dog, Inc. at the age of fifteen, serving as co-president for two decades. There he created, produced, and directed over a dozen video games, including the award winning and best selling Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter franchises, selling over 40 million units worldwide. He sleeps little, reads novels and histories, watches media obsessively, travels, and of course, writes. Find out more here. 


Friday, June 15, 2012

Review: Forgive My Fins (Forgive my Fins #1) by Tera Lynn Childs

Title: Forgive My Fins (Forgive my Fins #1)
Author: Tera Lynn Childs
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Young Adult: Paranormal Romance
Format: Paperback
Buy: Amazon / The Book Depository / Barnes & Noble

Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid – she’s a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been living on land and going to Seaview high school ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems – like her obnoxious, biker boy neighbor Quince Fletcher – but it has that one major perk – Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type – when they “bond,” it’s for life.

When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.

Fluff meets Romance

Son of a swordfish! This book was good. Good in a pink, fluffy, excessively cute way. I never really gave much thought to mermaids. I was never attached to the concept nor did I like the Little Mermaid much. But reading a book of this fuzzy caliber. I guess, you can't help but love it.

Lily is half-human, and the other half being a mermaid. Duh. First thing I loved about her was her ocean terminology and how all her swear words were inspired by little critters in the deep blue sea, like holy blowfish! I say again, excessively cute. Lily is loyal to all her friends, mer or human. If someone speaks smack about them, she comes running to defend them. Only thing that ticked me off, is her blind obsession with her supposed soon to be "bond" (Marriage) mate, Brody and her endless self-pity. Thank Poseidon, Quince, her overly annoying human neighbor, is there to stop her from doing anything stupid. Well, almost.

Honestly, the only thing that kept me reading is Quince's mean and rude attitude towards Lily and how obvious their attraction is to each other. Quince knows this, but Lily. Well, like I said. She's blind. It was a predictable love and hate relationship but it was awesome!

So, the majority of the book was about Quince intentionally kissing Lily (which initiates the bond) in the dark (she thought he was Brody), and Lily trying to get them "separated" (sea equivalent to a divorce) from the bond. And that involves introducing him to her King Father from her Kingdom under the sea (She's a Princess). The entire time she's trying to get "separated" from him. She doesn't realize how fast she's falling for the guy until she makes a mistake with Brody.

Worst comes to worse, they make sacrifices and live happily ever after all the stupidity, rude remarks and hurt. I'm just happy it ended well.

Childs writing is clean, clear and amazingly vivid. She's got the writers gift that literally pulls you into the story. As much as the book would appeal to teens who like fluff. This isn't a guy friendly book, unless they're into that kind of stuff. At least, the fluff is romantic and energetic. An automatic fav amongst the soft hearted.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Review: Decadent Seconds by W. Lynn Chantale

This is a day late! But at least its out! :D 

Title: Decadent Seconds
Author: W. Lynn Chantale
Publisher: Whispers Publishing
Genre: Romance, Adult
Format: eBook
Buy:  Whispers / Amazon

As a caterer, Darling gets to witness some of life’s happiest moments, but yearns for a marriage proposal of her own. After years of waiting on her beloved to pop the question, she gives up ever having a happy ending of her own and severs the relationship. When she learns she’s pregnant, she has no choice but to face her child’s father on a daily basis as well as the love and attraction she has for him.

Darryl Manning always believed Darling would be his forever. After all he didn’t need a piece of paper to show her how much he loved her, but when she leaves him to pursue her dream of owning a catering company and raising his son, he may have to rethink his views marriage. That is if he wants a second chance at family.

Decadent Seconds, an interesting name for a beautiful heart warming book. As much as I'd like to complain about it's shortness. I just can't help but feel like, its enough. 

Short books, have a knack for feeling rushed and incomplete but Chantale always, ALWAYS, writers her short books as if its the most natural thing in the world. As if, its more than 200 pages rolled into 60 and you don't even realize it until you finish it 30 minutes later. 

The author's characters were vigorous, the plot was simple and so was everything else. But it still made me tear up and my heart clench. Nothing is better than a short and heart wrenching book with steamy scenes that will probably keep you up at night (hahaha). 

I enjoyed the book and I'm hoping in the future, Chantale writes a full-length book! 

Read the excerpt below for your pleasure! :D 

About the Author:

W. Lynn Chantale resides in southeastern Michigan. Married to her high school sweetheart, they’ve been together for the last twenty years, and have three children. She has a mad affinity for milk chocolate, preferably Dove chocolate truffles or the caramel-filled squares (Godiva is acceptable), and plays the bass guitar when the Muse begs for a bit of distraction.

She’s also a member of Romance Writers of America as well Greater Detroit Romance Writers of America, Passionate Ink and Kiss of Death groups. She has one release, Seducing His Wife and a short story, Decadent Seconds under contract with Whispers Publishing. Also look for Breaking Delia’s Rules, from Breathless Press.

Website / Facebook / Twitter

... Just once she’d like to not react when she saw him. Despite the warmth knocking at the wall of her heart, Darling followed his movements to a group of similarly clad women. When they clustered around him, he raised his Nikon to his rugged face.
She loved his face, all angles and planes, and all that sharpness melted away when he smiled. Sadness and longing wiggled through a crack in her wall and squeezed her heart. They weren’t meant to be. Still she stared after him, envying the way he leaned close to one woman and lowered his camera. He gave a nod before moving away. When he passed beneath a wall sconce, the warm glow gave his smooth brown skin the fine sheen of melted chocolate. He should’ve been out of place in his black polo shirt and khaki slacks as he moved among the tuxedoes and long dresses, but his sexy smirk and camera made things easy.
The discordant clash of a body colliding with cymbals and snare drum drew Darling’s attention toward the dais next to the dance floor. A glassy-eyed young man in a tux tried to untangle his limbs from the instrument without spilling his drink. Succeeding, he then lurched onto the crowded dance floor and crashed into a couple of dancers. She shook her head when he sprawled on the floor, still trying to drink from the glass in his hand.
Not her problem. Darling regarded the decimated buffet, the food reduced to crumbs and half-dried globs of gravy—this was her problem. Swiping sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand, she lifted her gaze again, this time scanning the room for the tall, sexy photographer. He was now taking pictures of the drunk on the floor. Good, she didn’t want to run into him or his camera again. Turning, she hefted the silver chafer by the handles and placed it on the rolling cart behind her.
She reached for the next chafer, moving the serving spoon aside when strong hands seized her shoulders. The spoon slipped from her grasp, splattering white sauce on her black slacks, before settling on the floor. A sensuous chuckle tickled her ear, sending warmth scurrying through her veins, and puckering her nipples. Yanking free, she spun around to glare into dark chocolate eyes. She shoved the owner of those eyes and straightened her clothes. He laughed softly, his gaze drifting leisurely over her white chef’s coat and work pants.
Darryl Manning, the sexy photographer, grabbed her hand and gently tapped the thick bandage wrapped around her index finger. “What did you do to your finger?” She tugged her hand from his grasp, wincing when she smacked the digit on the chafer. “I cut it.” She bent to retrieve the spoon from the floor, straightened, and placed the utensil in a gray plastic tub.
Darling wiped her hands on a towel. Darryl folded well-toned arms across his broad chest, the black knit shirt he wore strained to accommodate the expansion of muscle. She stifled a groan and the urge to run her fingers along the bulging biceps and perfect pecs. Why did her body pick today to rebel? “I don’t have time for this now,” she snapped, “What do you have time for?” His rich baritone conjured nights of hot, steamy sex and decadent morning afters. He lifted his camera, with a sexy smirk. “Maybe a photo or two?”
She resisted the seductive note in his voice and placed her hand on the lens. “I’m working.”
“And I’m not, just finished.” He stepped closer, the heat of his body instantly warming hers. Darling tilted her head back to maintain eye contact.
She studied his face, waiting for the familiar ache and longing to subside. It didn’t. Being this close to him, surrounded by his scent, a little soap and a whole lot of male, made her yearn to be in his arms, to feel his full lips against hers. What was she doing? She couldn’t think about him, about them. She moved away. Not today.
Darling turned as the click-click-click of his camera captured her. Huffing, she stalked toward the kitchen. She caught the attention of Pete, one of her chefs for the evening. “Could you finish breaking down the buffet table while I take care of this?” She jerked a thumb to the hunk at her heels. Light flashed in her face, momentarily blinding her, and she held a hand to her eyes, blinking to clear her vision. “Don’t do that!”
Moving through the kitchen to a narrow staircase, she heaved a sigh as the pulsing rock music faded to a dull roar. Darling entered her office and smiled at the young man seated in a chair. “Thanks, Denny,” she said. He was another employee, and she waited until he closed the door.
Darling knelt next to a car seat and dropped a kiss on the sleeping infant’s cheek. White light zigzagged before her eyes. “Stop it!” she said.
“But you’re so beautiful,” Darryl said.
Her stomach did a slow somersault at the compliment, but he would need more than pretty words and his handsome face to woo her. Straightening, she shoved a diaper bag in his general direction. “I have two more weddings, a funeral, and an awards banquet. You trying to flirt is not on today’s calendar!”
Darryl offered her a smile and her knees turned to jelly. The man would be the death of her. The only reason she still spoke to him was the sleeping toddler. If not for the baby, she’d have kept walking and never looked back.
She brushed a stray curl from her face and planted her hand on her hip when Darryl didn’t move. “I know you may not have anything to do, but I really need to get back downstairs,” she reminded him.
He stepped closer, reaching a hand to tug on the lock of hair she had just swept away. She sucked in a breath, his clean masculine scent beguiling her. Her gaze dropped to the open collar of his shirt. If she pressed her mouth to his warm skin, would he moan? Darling lifted her head, and he met her lips with a kiss. Too stunned to protest, she sank into his kiss, savoring the spicy taste of him and the firmness of his lips. He skimmed the curve of her spine with his hands before resting them at her hips. Drawing her closer, he brought her against the hard line of his arousal. Desire exploded, and she wiggled her hips in hopes of easing the sudden tension at the apex of her thighs. As if sensing her need, he cupped her butt, shifting her slightly until he was wedged between her legs.
Lightning arced through her veins as he settled more firmly against her core. She gasped, and he deepened the kiss, tongues dueling in a fevered dance. Tightening her arms around his neck, Darling relished the sensations vibrating through her system, and decided to enjoy them.
Lifting his head, Darryl stared into her face. For once she didn’t care if he knew how much she wanted him, her fingers stroked the nape of his neck. She regarded him a moment before he brushed his lips across hers one last time before stepping away.
“I like flirting with you.” He trailed his fingers down her arm. ...


Guestpost: Top Ten Fav YA Books by Elisabeth Wheatley (Author of The Secrets of the Vanmars )

Today, I'd like to introduce ya'll to a 16-year-old author and her fantasy book called The Secrets of the Vanmars. Check out her fav YA books below :D 

Top Ten Fav YA Books

by Elisabeth Wheatley

My 10th favorite book of ALL TIME is Wolf Wing by Tanith Lee. I love all the books in the Claidi Collection, but I think this one was the best. I love the dry wit of Claidi, the light-hearted tone, the unpredictability of the plot, and the original world that the author created for the story.

My 9th favorite book of ALL TIME is The Squire’s Tale by Gerald Morris. This book takes a story that has been re-hashed enough times to put mashed potatoes to shame and weaves a tale that is original and funny, yet also true to the old Arthurian Legends.

8th place goes to The Horse and His Boy by (you better know this one!) C. S. Lewis. I love horses, I love Narnia, and Shasta is so’s no surprise this book is on my list.

In the 7th place slot, we can find The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. Again, my passion for horses may play a role in why I like this book, but it is excellent.

Neatly in the 6th place position is River Secrets by Shannon Hale. A later book in the same series as The Goose Girl, this book follows the story of young, pitifully short Razo as he tries to prevent war while dealing with people who can control fire.

5th place goes to Ever by Gail Carson Levine. Normally, I’m not too keen on the idea of a “romance” book—I mean, I like romance, but I just prefer it as a condiment. Like wasabi. But Ever is definitely in a class by itself.

Situated in the not-too-shabby 4th place position is Inkspell by Cornelia Funke. Not sure why I enjoyed this one so much more than the other two books in the series, Inkheart and Inkdeath. Inkspell has a menagerie of original magical creatures, re-invented classical ones, political intrigue, and a healthy dose of action.

Many Waters by Madeleine L’Engle takes 3rd place. This story is labeled as “Sci-Fi,” but it’s really more of a fantasy. Fifteen-year-old twin brothers play with the computer of their astrophysicist father and find themselves flung through time to pre-prehistoric earth. There they meet Noah and his sons—hey, don’t roll your eyes! This is the Bible story of Noah with manticores, unicorns, griffins, mammoths the size of lap dogs, two or three love stories, and time-travel! Not to mention Nephilim and Seraphim that shape-shift into assorted desert animals. So...yeah. Not the usual thing.

In the cushy 2nd place seat, we find The Squire, His Knight, and His Lady by Gerald Morris, the second book following The Squire’s Tale. This is a retelling of the medieval poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It is very funny while being in-depth at the same time.

And the coveted 1st favorite book of ALL TIME is...(drumroll, please)...

An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L’Engle. This is the fifth and final book in Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quintet. Three thousand years ago (approximately) a druid and a Celtic warrior were banished from Europe to what would become New England. Fast-forward to present day—a girl named Polly is spending the autumn with her grandparents in their cozy New England home when her stay is made unusually interesting by visits from a time-traveling druid, a Native American girl trained as a druid, and a Celtic warrior. The latter decides that Polly should be sacrificed to end a drought back in prehistoric New England...and then things get really interesting..... This series has the honor of being the only one I have ever read cover-to-cover more than once. I have the attention span of a gopher and this series is the only one awesome enough to keep my eyeballs from wandering off the page when I read them again. An Acceptable Time is my favorite in the series and for that reason, it’s my No. 1. : )

Synopsis: After her adventures with the Key of Amatahns, sixteen-year-old Janir Caersynn Argetallam returns home to find Brevia on the brink of war with a neighboring country, Stlaven. Her foster-father and even Saoven—a brave young elf warrior—think it will be safe at the castle where Janir grew up. However, while trying to unravel a looming mystery, Karile—self-taught wizard and Janir’s self-appointed best friend—becomes certain that there is danger in the mountains surrounding Janir’s childhood home and that it has something to do with Stlaven’s most powerful family, the Vanmars…

Find the author and book here:
The Secrets of the Vanmars in hardcopy:
The Author at Goodreads:
The Author at Facebook: