Tuesday, April 29, 2014

My Soul Immortal Blog Tour - Review

Fated Eternals 1:
My Soul Immortal
By: Jen Printy

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Publication date: 2.22.2014
Pages: 318
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Amazon link:  My Soul Immortal

Date read: 4.28.2014
Recommended by: Read 2 Review

Summary: An endless love, for an endless price.

Jack’s immortality is exposed when he prevents a liquor store heist, forcing him to flee to protect his secret—a secret not even he understands. But when he meets Leah Winters—a mirror image of his decades-lost love, Lydia—his very soul is laid bare. He begins to question his sanity. Is she real, and if so, what does that mean for Jack and his secret?

Jack’s not the only mystery man in town. A stranger named Artagan hints at knowledge Jack is desperate to possess. But can he trust Artagan, or does the dark newcomer harbor deadly secrets of his own?

As Jack’s bond with Leah grows, so does the danger to her life. Jack must discover just how much he is willing to risk in order to save the woman he already lost once.



I want to start off saying that I am not a romance fan.  When this came up for blog tour, something made me grab it up.  It sounded like such a different storyline - and ended up completely surprising me.

Jack has been alive for over 100 years - and not aged physically a day.  Not only that, but he heals very quickly and he has no idea why.  He loved once - loved completely - and lost her.  He has never gotten over this, but when he meets a random stranger, he not only feels things he hasn't felt in a long time - but part of him knows that this is his lost love.

What a fascinating story.  It brings a whole new light to the idea of reincarnation and that one true love.  It's a great story, mysterious, and it keeps you so interested in the story that you just can't put the book down.  My first night reading, I was up til 3am still reading because I wanted to know what was going to happen next. 

This is not my first Red Adept Publishing book and I'm not one of those people that really pay a lot of attention to who published the book, BUT I have not gone wrong with this company yet.  They really know what they're doing when it comes to choosing books.  I not only will read more books they publish, but I will also be finishing this series.  Great job, Jen. :)



Monday, April 28, 2014

Midnight Blog Tour - Interview & Giveaway

Midnight: Century of the Vampires 1-3
Author: Ami Blackwelder
Genre: Vampire Dystopia
Publication date: 12.21.2013
Publisher: Eloquent Enraptures Publishing
Pages: 113
Amazon link:  Midnight: Century of the Vampires 1-3

The world is no longer the way we remember.  Few are even still alive to recall the the days when midnight didn't mean cowered away and hidden.  Out of sight became our only way to survive since the Century Vampires.  If you want to live, trust no one.





Welcome back, Ami.  This time I want to talk about your books.  Tell us a little bit about the books you have written so far.

I write under three names: Ami Blackwelder, Rebecca May and M Black.  Ami writes books in the paranormal and sci-fi genres for Tween/YA and NA/Adult.  Rebecca writes historical and contemporary romances.  M Black will be doing thrillers and dystopias.

Where did you get your ideas from?

I sometimes have dreams, sometimes off-shoots of other ideas.  Often I am just passionate about a particular subject and the story comes out of it.

Which book of yours, so far, is your favorite?

The Day the Flowers Died by Rebecca May and She Speaks to Angels and The Shifters of 2040 Saga.  Sorry, I don't have just one.

Which of your characters do you think is the most like you?

Gosh, I relate to Melissa Marn in Shifters for her workaholic attitude and I'm a bit like April in The Hunted of 2060 with her wild side.  I was a bit like Ali from She Speaks to Angels when younger.

What do you think makes a good story?

Characters.  Plot.  The characters have to make the reader care and the plot needs to be unique or interesting.

What makes your books different from others out there in the same genre?

Everyone says my stories are unique, or they've never read a story like that before, or it was a new test on an old subject.  So, I guess originality.  I don't try to be like that, it just happens that way.

Well, Ami, thanks for stopping by.  This is our last time together and I want to thank you for stopping by The Gal THREE different times for THREE different blog tours.  Good luck on this one. :)

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Midnight Blog Tour - Omnibus Review

Midnight: Century of the Vampires 1-3
Ami Blackwelder

Genre: Vampire Dystopia
Publication date: 12.21.2013
Pages: 113
Amazon link:  Midnight: Century of the Vampires 1-3

Date read: 4.24.2014
Recommended by: Read 2 Review

Summary: The world is no longer the way we remember.  Few are even still alive to recall the days when midnight didn't mean cowered away and hidden.  Out of sight became our only way to survive since the Century Vampires.  If you want to live, trust no one.


This had an interesting storyline with some creepy, heart pounding moments, but parts of the action just seemed boring and forced.  And the editing issues were really frustrating.

When she got sick, and the vampire who looked familiar to her began following her, it was pretty obvious where this was all headed, especially once Mark realized everyone was keeping secrets from him.  The conclusion was, in some ways, a surprise, but the characters weren't really created fully so, at times, I just didn't care what was happening to them.

I don't understand why the three novellas weren't written as just one novel.  Especially with the way they each end - the only reason we know the novella has ended, instead of just moving to another chapter, is because of the discussion questions at the end of each one.

That is one of the things I liked - the discussion questions.  BUT discussion questions show that this is written for a younger crowd, which makes me question WHY there is a sex scene (though glazed over) in the first novella.

This is the third series that I have read of Ami's in the last few weeks.  My favorite was Dumah's Demons (the short story in between book 1 and 2 in her Angelfire Chronicles series).  My least favorite was the Zombie Housewives series.  This series falls in between those two, but I think editing and better writing could have made it a lot better than what it is.

 

Between the bindings by M Doerner-Miller





I met this guy when I read his book, Chronicles of a Clocksmith, for a Read 2 Review.  (If you haven't read my review  this book, look at the tabs at the top of this page and select the one for kids.)  He has a way of writing that I really enjoyed AND an imagination that peeked my interest.  And now, he has joined us here on Between the Bindings to share some of his insight.

First things first - I am not a writer.  To be a writer takes years of dedicated toiling, an endless quest towards tightening, advancing, and improving one's skill set.  I simply have neither the talent nor the constitution to ever dare call myself a writer.  Plus it seems that to call oneself a writer today takes a certain panache, a je ne se quoi so to speak, that I could never pull off.  Even despite my attempts at tweed and the occasional pre-noon scotch.

No - I believe I would much rather be labeled a 'storyteller.'  But determining whether that means I am a decent 'storyteller' or a poor 'storyteller,' only time and perhaps loyal grandchildren will tell.

But to those passionate about writing, and to those determined to enter into the professional world of perpetual heartbreak and the endless devouring of souls, I will say one thing that may (but probably not), help you in your journey.

Find your voice.

Ugh - I know.  I hate even typing this (notice I didn't say "writing this").  It's probably one of the most over-used phrases used in the writing blogosphere.  But there is a simple reason why this phrase constantly pops up in nearly every post and every 'How To' book out there.  Because it is so true.

It is so true, in fact, that it is mainly why I am actually terrified of reading anyone else's writing.  It sounds quite strange, and I'm not saying that I am at all proud of this fact.  But the simple truth is that I am deathly afraid of reading other works because:

  1. I can't bear the thought that my "original" idea/phrase/sentence structure has already been deployed, only deployed with much more skill and grace than I could ever muster and
  2. 2. That after reading a truly talented and professional writer, my heart will no longer be into whatever piddly story that I had decided to tinker with on that particular day.

I am fully aware that the above scenario depicts a far more deep-seated issue than my above delineation, but what can I tell ya.

But despite my insecurities, this should never prevent you from finding your thing, your knack, your je ne se quoi.  Be inspired by other works, but never try to duplicate the voice that lay within, even if you think you are being clever.  You can never duplicate the moment during which the originals were crafted.  The smell in the air that the author experienced while typing the first paragraphs, their day leading up to the words being typed.  Their conversations had with friends, and the arguments they had with their families.  To copy a "style" is idiotic and it will not just turn out like a bad "copy of a copy."  It will turn out like old congealed cheese from a fast-food hamburger stuck to the very wrapper from whence it came.  Glued and intertwined, stale and plastic.

Dammit now I'm hungry.

Find your voice first, and then work on your writing.  Beautiful sentence structure and mind-numbingly perfect grammatical composition is admirable, but if your story is dull, then really what does it matter?  You might as well end up a beat writer for your local daily's obit section.  But putting your own flair and spin into a concept can make even something dull as an empty peanut butter jar seem interesting.

I remember in University how I received Cs and Ds in English Comp 101.  It was quite humbling as all throughout high school I had excelled in English especially, and was recommended by several of my teachers to writing conferences, programs, etc.  So when random Gen X English 101 Comp Lit TA continuously beat me back with  yet another red capital D across the front of yet another nearly-failed assignment, I grew depressed.  What had changed so much in one 6-week summer break?  And then I grew bitter.  Who was she to tell me that poetry should be written a certain way?  And then I grew resentful?  Who was she to tell me that my writing style was not conventional and proper?  And then I grew angry.

I did not write for several years.  Nearly 12 in fact.  Until one day I suddenly felt like doing it again.  And not only that, but I felt a new confidence in my style that only someone at 33 could feel, and more importantly, that a college student with broken pockets and a broken spirit could not.  So there you have it - the foundation of "my voice."

I will never say that I am a writer.  This title belongs to those who have much greater skill and professionalism than I.  But I am happy to report that I feel pretty good about where my "voice" is at these days.  And only time and loyal grandchildren will tell if it has helped, or hindered, the stories that I have attempted to tell.

I like what you have said here - and I thank you so much for joining us here on The Gal.   :)

Until next time, y'all... 

April 28 Teen Release

Today is the release day for two amazing Entangled Teen titles and we are excited to share them with you.  There's a little something for everyone this month so read on to find out more about them.

Note:
All the digital books are on sale for just $0.99
for a limited time
so be sure to pick up your copy today
before they go back to full price.

Title: The Rising King
Series: A Keeper of Life
Author: Shea Berkley
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication date: 4.28.2014
Pages: 400

Find it:The Rising King Barnes & Noble Goodreads

The summer before Dylan Kennedy's senior year in high school is turning out to be anything but boring.  Ridiculously hot girlfriend?  Check.  Killing evil Dark Souls who suddenly have aspirations of taking over the magical realm of Teag because its protective spell is gone?  Check.  Not even Teag's King, Dylan's father, Baun, can stop them.  People are dying, and a dark magic that his girlfriend, Baun, received from Baun is growing stronger.  Dylan wants to believe Kera is suppressing the darkness that's in her, but every day he sees that control slip just a little more.

Baun sends Dylan to find a powerful magic that stops the Dark Souls, a magic so strong that Baun hid it so no one else could use it.  What Dylan doesn't expect to find along with it are consequences that could end the lives of those closest to him.

Follow the Blog Tour
here 
(started 4.21.2014)

Find Shea online:
Website      Twitter      Facebook 


Title: Creators
Series: Lost Souls
Author: Tiffany Truitt
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication date: 4.28.2014
Pages: 400

Find it:  Creators  Barnes & Noble  Goodreads

Heartbroken but more determined than ever after a tense showdown in the woods, sixteen-year-old Tess once again returns to the safety of her community of Isolationists.  Bolstered by new alliances and desperate to protect those she loves, this time she knows she can return stronger and more powerful than ever to take back what is hers.

As she trains in combat and grows more confident, Tess receives beautiful letters penned by her forbidden love, the chosen one James, from his prison in Templeton.  He is now serving as a bodyguard to the creators - the team of scientists who created artificial life in the first place.  And what he has discovered about the true origin of the illness that halted natural life could change everything.  Enemy will become ally and death will bring new hope in t his stunning conclusion to Tiffany Truitt's epic Lost Souls trilogy.

Follow the blog tour
here 
(started 4.21.2014)

Find Tiffany online:
Website      Twitter      Facebook

My Soul Immortal Blog Tour - Interview & Giveaway

Fated Eternals 1:
My Soul Immortal
By: Jen Printy

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal
Publication date: 2.22.2014
Pages: 280
Amazon link:  My Soul Immortal

Summary: An endless love, for an endless price.

Jack’s immortality is exposed when he prevents a liquor store heist, forcing him to flee to protect his secret—a secret not even he understands. But when he meets Leah Winters—a mirror image of his decades-lost love, Lydia—his very soul is laid bare. He begins to question his sanity. Is she real, and if so, what does that mean for Jack and his secret?

Jack’s not the only mystery man in town. A stranger named Artagan hints at knowledge Jack is desperate to possess. But can he trust Artagan, or does the dark newcomer harbor deadly secrets of his own?

As Jack’s bond with Leah grows, so does the danger to her life. Jack must discover just how much he is willing to risk in order to save the woman he already lost once.



Hi, Jen.  Welcome to The Gal in the Blue Mask.  How are you doing today?

I'm wonderful.  Spring has finally arrived in Maine.  Thank you so much for inviting me.  I'm so happy to be here.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I've been married to my best friend for 21 years.  We have two daughters who are on most days the joy of my life.  When I'm not writing, I'm sculpting as a freelance doll artist.  The arts in all forms have always been an important part of my life, a love instilled in me by my dad.

What kind of books do you absolutely love to read?

Paranormal and romance are my favorite.  When the two come together in the same book, I'm one happy camper.  And the classics, anything from the Jane Austen to the Bronte sisters.  And I recently discovered dystopia.

What is the first book you remember reading?

Island of the Blue Dolphins.  It's the first book I remember reading that I couldn't put down.  Honestly, I didn't read much before that.  It was the book that ignited my love of reading.

Favorite book of all time? - other than yours, of course :)

Jane Eyre, hands down.  I love Jane.  She's a strong female character who sticks to her gun and doesn't let anyone sway her from what she believes is right.  And of course, the Victorian setting and the creepy undercurrents lend to its appeal.

What are you reading now?

On Writing by Stephen King.  It is by far the best book about writing I've ever read.

What kind of things do you do when you're not writing?

I enjoy listening to music, mostly alternative rock, and watch movies.  A lot of my time is eaten up by my other career.  As I said earlier, I'm a freelance doll sculptor.  I sculpt baby dolls for collectible doll companies, like Ashton Drake and Paradise Galleries.  I also attempt to grow orchids.  You should feel sorry for my leafy little friends.  Seems I don't have a green thumb, it can be a bit of a challenge for all of us.

What made you decide to begin writing in the first place?

Honestly, I don't remember.  I've been writing since I was a child.

Do you have a special place you like to write?

I have an office in my house, so I can blare my music and go to work in my sweats.  When the weather warms up, I love writing outside and take in the sunshine.

Where do the ideas for your books come from?

The story all started with a thought.  I hadn't written a story in a long time because I had been struggling to come up with a "good" idea.  I began playing with the idea of reincarnation.   What if lovers bumped into each other in a next life?  Would they recognize one another?  What if one remembered and the other did not?  And so on.  By the end of the daydream, I had two scenes in my head.  One was the scene at the beginning of the first chapter and the other was a dream Jack has at the chapter's end.  After that, the story filled in quickly.

Which of your characters do you think is the most like you?

I'm a jumbled mix of my main characters.  I have moments of Jack's self-doubt.  I tend to see situations from a positive view like Leah.  And like Artagan, I keep my feelings and thoughts close.  Most people don't know what I'm really thinking.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I'm working on the second book of the Fated Eternals series.  I'm excited where this story is going.  I can't wait to show you around the world of the Concilium Animarium.

Where can we find you?
Email: printyoriginals@yahoo.com

Thank you again, Jen, for stopping by :)  And, for those reading, make sure you come back tomorrow for part 2 of this - my review of the book.  Jen will also be here Saturday for Between the Bindings - she's got some interesting and helpful things to say.

More about Jen:
Since childhood, Jen Printy has been writing. Whether stories about a fantasy world or everyday life in Maine, Jen loved losing herself in the worlds she created on paper. The arts in all forms have always been an important part of Jen’s life, a love instilled in her by her father. When Jen isn’t writing, she’s sculpting as a freelance doll artist.

Jen lives with her husband, two daughters, and diva dog Cookie in southern Maine, where she loves spending time friends and family, finding treasures along the seashore, or enjoying a Guinness at her favorite local pub.

                         
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Saturday, April 26, 2014

My Personal Book Rating System


I have been doing an awful lot of thinking lately about the way I do reviews, about the way I rate the books I read ... about The Gal in the first place.  When I first began The Gal, I came up with a definition for my rating system and posted it here on my blog.  But, for some reason (a reason I can't honestly tell you because I have no idea), I never actually posted my ratings on here.  Maybe I wanted people to read the reviews and make their own decisions.  *shrugs* I really don't know.

A couple of days ago, I had a conversation with a friend of mine.  After that, I knew I had to re-think my rating system.  This friend told me that he always takes a star away from any of my ratings and that if I give something a 3, he'll run for the hills.  Why?  Because I'm really nice.

I am.  Too nice.

I came back to my blog and looked at what my rating system was.  And I realized that I have not stuck to what I originally came up with.

Lately this is how I feel:  

There are some books I read that I wish I could give a 6 star rating to.  That tells me I hand out 5 star ratings too easily.  

3 stars to me are a neutral - it was okay, but somebody else may love it.  But I didn't, for whatever reason, so why am I rating a book on what others MIGHT think?

With some books, I like the story, but when I sit down to write the review, I can't think of anything to say about it.  I mean, a complete blank.  Shouldn't that be a lower rating then?  If it doesn't thrill me enough to be able to write about it, then it doesn't matter if I merely liked the story, it wasn't something that stuck with me, and should be receiving a 3 or lower.

I am not as hard on YA writers for their writing.  Shouldn't I be?  I mean, yeah, they ARE written for the younger generations, but they should still write it well.  My friend made a good point - we should be harder on these people because writers like that are showing the younger ones that bad writing is okay and it most certainly is not.

I feel like I have let others down - like I have let myself down - and I am disappointed in myself, especially now that I have had this conversation.  (Note: He was not rude in any way and I am very glad that he brought this to my attention.)  I have taken things that were just "satisfying" and believed they were "enjoyable," only to realize later that I was wrong.  "Satisfying" is nice at the time, but it is not lasting, it does not stay with me.  If I can't tell you what the book is about a couple of weeks after I read it, it definitely did not stay with me.

It is time to remember WHY I write these reviews - to tell people HONESTLY what I think of the book that I just read.  THAT is why people read my reviews.

If you read my reviews, please take a moment to check out my Rating System under my Review Policy.  And know that, from now on, my friend - he won't have to remove a star from every rating.  (Except cookbooks - you can ALWAYS trust those ratings haha.)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Landfill Blog Tour - Interview


Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Kevin Hopson to The Gal.  He is full swing into his The Landfill Blog Tour and today he's here for an interview.  I must say, interviews are one of my favorite things to do on here, mainly because I get to meet so many amazing people AND I get to learn such interesting things about them.  Kevin is no exception.  What a great guy. :)

Haven't heard of the Landfill?   Here's a little bit of information (and you can read my review here).


The Landfill
Genre: YA, Horror, Short Stories
Publication date: 4.2.2014
Pages: 35
Kindle price. $0.99
Amazon link: The Landfill

Summary: Billy, a high school senior, has lost a lot in the past year, including his younger sister, Sara. Billy lacks excitement and purpose in life until his curiosity takes him and his best friend, Connor, to an old, abandoned landfill along the river. Connor would rather forget the experience, but Billy can’t help but feel invigorated by their findings. Taking it upon himself to uncover the mystery, Billy finds his life coming full circle – but is that a good or bad thing?


Hi, Kevin.  Welcome to The Gal in the Blue Mask.  Let's start off with you telling us a little bit about yourself.

I have been writing in some capacity for about 15 years now.  However, it wasn't until 2010 that I finally developed into the fiction market.  I've been with MuseItUp Publishing ever since, and I write in several genres, including science fiction, crime fiction, dark fiction, and fantasy.

Tell us 5 random facts very few people know about you.

I have allergies to beef and milk.  If you do the math (think about cheese and all the possible dairy products), you'll realize how lame my choices can be when it comes to food.  That being said, I live a healthier life as a result of it.

My mother saved my life when I was a kid.  I was choking on a hot dog, and she managed to pry it out of my mouth in time.  She also suffered permanent kidney damage during my birth and still deals with it to this day.  Talk about sacrifice.  Thanks, Mom!

I lost my first son to stillbirth on August 28, 2010.  He watches over his little brother now.

Prior to my writing career, I managed my own business on three different occasions.  I worked as an investment consultant, a personal chef, and a sports scout.  My background (college degree) is actually in finance.

I donate all of my book proceeds to charity.  St Jude's is a favorite of mine.

What is the first book you remember reading?

I honestly can't remember the title, but it was a book by Isaac Asimov.

What book(s) have most influenced you?

The Stand by Stephen King.  I've always had a fascination with post-apocalyptic settings and stories, and The Stand is what started it all for me.

What made you decide to begin writing in the first place?

I've never been content unless I'm creating something with my mind.  There's no better outlet for this than writing, which is why I started and never looked back.

What inspires you most?

So many things inspire me - books, movies, art, nature, family, etc.  I think the one thing that inspires me most is life in general, because I can draw inspiration from just about anything.

Which of your characters do you think is the most like you?

Billy from The Landfill.  We're both the adventurous type and, like him, I've experienced significant losses in my life (my father and son both passed within 16 months of each other).

Where is your favorite place to write?

The third floor of my house.  It's away from all of the chaos, and there are a lot of nostalgic items (art, toys, etc) that remind me of my childhood.

Is there anything about writing you find the most challenging?

Being patient.  Once I get an idea for a story, millions of things continuously run through my head.  As a result, I often find myself rushing to get everything down on paper.  Until I can extract everything from my brain, I go through a heightened period of stress.

What do you think makes a good story?

Engaging characters, an element of surprise, and a story that can stand alone regardless of the ending.

What kind of things do you do when you're not writing?

Since I'm a stay-at-home dad, I'm usually taking care of my son.  When I get some free time outside of writing, I enjoy reading and watching movies.

What can we expect from you in the future?

My latest story, a sci-fi novella titled Shifting Alliances, will be released by MuseItUp Publishing this fall, so I will be working on this as the year progresses.  Furthermore, I have yet to write a full-length novel, which is an ultimate goal of mine, so I hope to accomplish this at some point as well.

Where can we find you?


Thanks, Kevin, for joining us on The Gal today.  You are welcome back any time :)

More about Kevin
Prior to hitting the fiction scene in 2009, Kevin was a freelance writer for several years, covering everything from finance to sports. His debut work, World of Ash, was released by MuseItUp Publishing in the fall of 2010. Kevin has released several other books through MuseItUp since then, and he has also been published in various magazines and anthology books. Kevin's writing covers many genres, including dark fiction and horror, science fiction and fantasy, and crime fiction. His blog can be found at http://kevin-hopson.blogspot.com.

Kevin's latest releases are Broken Family (Crime/Mystery) and The Landfill (Young Adult/Dark Fiction). His next book, a sci-fi novella titled Shifting Alliances, will be released by MuseItUp Publishing in the fall of 2014.