Wednesday, April 29, 2015

REVIEW: Disintegration


The Todor Trilogy 2:
Disintegration
Jenna Newell Hiott

Genre: Epic Fantasy
Publication date: 3.6.2015
Pages: 430

Recommended by: Sage's Blog Tours, Read 2 Review
Date read: 4.27.2015


"Aerie is gone.  Your home is gone.  Your teachers are gone and, yes, your ancestor is gone.  Let yourself mourn; grieve for what you've lost, but let go of guilt and blame for these only serve to disrupt Oneness.  And when you are able, step back an see that all of Todor is now like a blank parchment or an unfolded piece of clay.  With the queen's death, Todor lost its ruler.  With the destruction of Aerie, Todor lost its wealth.  And with the end of Keeper Clary, Todor lost its history.  Toro has a chance to start completely anew.  Perhaps it is time to choose to create a land free of boundaries between the different type of glitters, for enemies only exist as history dictates.  With the land's history gone, there are no enemies.  Perhaps it is time to choose to create a land free of servitude of any kind.  And perhaps it is time to choose to create a land free of deception and secrets."

Disintegration begins where Revelation ends.  Death, destruction and sorrow surround Soman and his trust is lost, along with a lot of the people that he grew up with, the people who raised him, his "family".  The three young children that we watched grow up in book one, that we watched love, change, and then be separated, are far from what they were when we first met them, some not for the better.  When they went off for training, they each found their fathers, the truth about themselves and their people, the powers that they have, and more secrets were revealed.  War is beginning and Gemynd is now no longer Soman's best friend; he is his enemy.

I found this story to be even better than the first, which I didn't think could be possible.  From the very beginning of the story - or middle, I guess I should say - I was pulled in and could not put this book down (until around 4am when I finally finished).  And, again, I am waiting for book three because I want - no, need - to find out what happens next.


About the book:
Aerie has fallen and the land of Todor is on the brink of war.  Famine and decay have touched every corner of the island.  If Todor is to survive, Gemynd, Numa and Soman must fully embrace their powers, even as they continue to uncover more secrets and lies.  Can Soman survive the aftermath of his role in the destruction of Aerie?  Will Numa's love for Gemynd endure even after she sees the horrors of the Iturtian pit?  And is Gemynd his father's puppet or his protege?  The betrayals of the past weigh heavy, but can the three move beyond them in order to work for the good of Todor?  Or will their inability to forgive propel them into war?  Thundering toward an epic conclusion, Disintegration is the second book in the Todor trilogy.  In it, author Jenna Newell Hiott paints a stunning portrait of humanity at its rawest, giving a revealing glimpse of how it fares when everything teeters on the brink of destruction.


About the author:
Author, healer, all-around kook, Jenna Newell Hiott boasts of having a limitless imagination, unless it's nap time.  While many of us had an imaginary friend as children, Jenna had an entire imaginary family - complete with a second set of parents and three siblings - all of whom lived in a make-believe world of Jenna's own creation.  One could say she's been writing fantasy fiction since she was old enough to use words.  And she never outgrew it.  One of this hyperactive imagination, Jenna created the land of Todor: a world of magic, intrigue, and power plays.

REVIEW: Revelation


The Todor Trilogy 1:
Revelation
Jenna Newell Hiott

Genre: Epic Fantasy
Publication date: 1.1.2014
Pages: 378

Date read: 4.26.2015


I really got into this book from the beginning to the end.  The story itself is very interesting and kept me reading, but the best part was the individual characters that I met throughout the story.  The whole thing was very well written, but the way it was written, each chapter focusing on an individual main character, really helped you to learn about them, as well as learn about the others by seeing how they view each other.

Gemynd, Nuna and Soman were all three born on the same day and were the only three born that year.  When it was time for them to progress to the sevens (age), they learned that there were a lot more secrets than they had originally anticipated.  As they grew older, and grew closer together (they were the best of friends), they found out that not all of the things they learned were the truth, and not all of the secrets were told to them that day.

The author has a deep insight, which you can see in the way that she talks about the beliefs of these people who live in Aerie.  It is a very peaceful country where everyone works together and lives in joy.  Once they leave their land, they find out that not everyone is as good as the people of Aerie, and their lives change, not always for the good.

I loved this story and recommend it to anyone who loves epic fantasies, BUT I was disappointed with the way the story ended, as if we were watching the season finale and had to wait in anticipation for the next season to begin.  The books in this series are definitely not stand-alone books and I'm glad that I waited to read this one after I already had book two in my hands.

Favorite quote: "I would venture to guess that you experience the most pain when you think of the future.  When you think of having to endure many moments, many days, without Gemynd," she said, bringing a fresh wave of tears flowing from Numa's eyes.  "But you could make the choice to not think beyond this moment right now.  And if in this moment you feel sorrow, then feel sorrow and let it flow through you.  Just choose to think 'right now I am sad.'  When thoughts about the future come in, such as: 'What if I still feel this way tomorrow?' or 'Can I bear it if I feel sorrowful for the rest of my life?' simply choose to ignore them.  For you are choosing to focus on only one moment at a time.  And you can bear anything if it is only for one moment."


About the book:
In a land where magic was created through the spilling of blood, turmoil is looming.  Grief and despair flood the land of Todor, and its creators - the omniscient Deis - consider destroying it altogether.  That is, until a single spot of joy attracts their attention: the idyllic village of Aerie.  Believing in the hope found there, the Deis give Todor one more chance.  They place three infants within this village who are unknowingly tasked with ending Todor's suffering and saving all creation.
            As the three chosen ones grow, they discover that their beloved village is a haven of secrets, and nothing is as they believe.  Can Gemynd, Soman, and Numa move beyond the secrets of Aerie in order to learn the truth about themselves and the world they thought they knew?  With impending war, passionate love, and the heartbreak of separation facing them at every turn, will they do what is required to save Creation?
            An imaginative fantasy debut from Jenna Newell Hiott, Revelation combines intrigue, passion, and magic to create a mythic tale like no other.  The first book in the epic Todor trilogy, Revelation introduces readers to a unique fantasy realm - "intelligent and layered with hidden truths, it will stay with you long after you've read the last page."


About the author:
Author, healer, all-around kook, Jenna Newell Hiott boasts of having a limitless imagination, unless it's nap time.  While many of us had an imaginary friend as children, Jenna had an entire imaginary family - complete with a second set of parents and three siblings - all of whom lived in a make-believe world of Jenna's own creation.  One could say she's been writing fantasy fiction since she was old enough to use words.  And she never outgrew it.  Out of this hyperactive imagination, Jenna created the land of Todor: a world of magic, intrigue, and power plays.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

AMONG THE STACKS: Francis Yamoah


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hi, Francis.  Welcome to The Gal.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Francis Yamoah:
My name is Francis Yamoah.  I'm a writer of crime fiction and mystery novels and I live in London, UK.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

Francis Yamoah:
The main things most people don't know about me will be the fact that I'm addicted to coffee and I love really cheesy romantic movies.  I can't think if five things I'm afraid.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Francis Yamoah:
The very first book I remember reading is Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

Francis Yamoah:
I'm currently reading DeNiro's Game by Rawi Hage and I'm also re-reading Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy for the first time since I read them a couple of years ago.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Francis Yamoah:
I began writing when I was about 16/17 years old, right after secondary school when I started harboring aspirations of becoming a film director.  I just wrote short scripts then, some of which were really bad but I loved writing, I loved starting and finishing a story.  So I kept doing it and it naturally evolved into prose.  I've read and loved crime fiction all my life so that's just what I wrote when I started writing prose without consciously deciding.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Francis Yamoah:
I tend to do a lot of writing in my bedroom so I guess that's my special writing place.  I'm very easily distracted and I can't write in any kin dog public place even a library.  I need to be alone with next to no distractions around, and in my house the bedroom is currently the only place that fulfills those specifications.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Francis Yamoah:
If I dedicate the whole day to writing, I wake up, go downstairs for breakfast, leave my mobile phone downstairs and then I return to my desk in my bedroom to write.  I usually write for about three to four hours from the morning, and then I stop and go for about an hour's walk, return and write for about two more hours before stopping for the day.  And that's my usual writing process.  As for writing quirks, aside from talking to myself a lot when writing, there's none that I've recognized.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where do the ideas for your books come from?

Francis Yamoah:
Ideas for my books come about in different ways.  My latest novel, Let It Bleed, for example came about when I read an article somewhere online about an American college student who went around shooting and killing a bunch of girls just because he felt girls have ignored him all his life and wouldn't go out with him or something along those lines.  What most shocked me about the article was the fact that in the comments section for the article a few people agreed with what he'd done.  I became curious as to how someone would come to have such an extreme view and the plot for the novel came out of my research into that.  Whereas the first story in the Lucy Collins series, A Good Day, the main character and consequently the story came about when my mother fell ill and my sister went above and beyond to ensure her wellbeing.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?

Francis Yamoah:
I think one way or the other every book that I've read and enjoyed have inspired me but the ones that most stand out to me are the books by Elmore Leonard that I've read, Stieg Larsson's Millennium series, Jo Nesbo's the Snowman and Lee Child's Echo Burning just to name a few.


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What inspires you most?

Francis Yamoah:
Everyday life inspires me the most.  Even the seemingly mundane everyday life experiences can be very interesting when you pay close attention and add a little bit of imagination.  Also things that I don't have an immediate understanding of tend to inspire me.  I seek to try and understand and make sense of them and sometimes that process involves writing.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Francis Yamoah:
The length of time it takes to complete a writing project is usually what I find most challenging.  I have a habit of losing focus and getting impatient but the more I write, the more I'm learning to be patient with the writing process.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Francis Yamoah:
Well-drawn, vivid, three-dimensional characters are consistent aspects of all the great stories that I've read with love, so I believe that's what makes a good story.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Francis Yamoah:
Anyone that enjoys crime fiction, mystery novels and thrillers are my target audience and they would enjoy reading any of my books.  Aside from the mandatory entertaining factor, every individual book will have a different objective in terms of what I want readers to take away from it because of the different themes that would be explored in each book but in the case of Let It Bleed, the main theme of violence against women is an important one and I hope at the end of the book I'm able to create in the reader's mind some form of heightened awareness on violence against women and some of the potential consequences and cycle of violence it can possibly generate.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Francis Yamoah:
This is a tough question.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Why did you pick your particular genre?

Francis Yamaoh:
I think I write crime fiction simply because it is the genre I like to read.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating this book?

Francis Yamoah:
I was honestly very much oblivious to the high level of violence against women across the world before I started doing research for the book so that is the main thing that I've learned.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Francis Yamaoh:
I like reality and strive to write stories that could happen in the real world with believable characters. Consequently my books always explore relevant contemporary themes, ones most readers may have heard about maybe in the news or may have experienced personally, making it easier for them to relate and engage in the stories and heightening their reading experiences.  I think that's what makes my books different from most others in the genre.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Francis Yamoah:
More installments for the Lucy Collins series are guaranteed in the future but I'm currently working on a new series starring Detective Chief Inspector Harry Bell who features in Let It Bleed and the first of that will be my next novel to be published.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Thanks for stopping by, Francis.  It was great having you.  Before you go, can you tell us where we can find you?

Francis Yamoah:
I can be found on Twitter, on Facebook, on Goodreads, on Google+, and on my website.

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: A Good Day + Let It Bleed


Lucy Collins 1:
A Good Day
Francis Yamoah

Genre: Thriller, Crime, Police Procedural
Publisher: SRC Publishing
Publication date: 1.12.2014
Pages: 77

Kennet is a calm and quiet town which has recorded the lowest crime rates in the whole country for the past ten years.  Chances are, the most serious crime she is going to investigate is going to be some kind of anti-social behavior, and her first day at Kennet Police Department is promising to be one of the most tedious days on the job.  That's until she sets down the path of investigating a car crash which is believed to be nothing but an accident.



Lucy Collins 2:
Let It Bleed
Francis Yamoah

Genre: Thriller, Crime, Police Procedural
Publisher: SRC Publishing
Publication date: 3.19.2015
Pages: 266

A BLOOD THIRSTY KILLER HAS TAKEN HIS FIRST VICTIM AND HE'S GOING TO KILL AGAIN.

On what becomes her last day as a uniformed police officer, Lucy Collins discovers the body of a woman at a construction side while on patrol.

THE INVESTIGATION TEAM IS FAST RUNNING OUT OF LEADS AND TIME.

The next day Lucy gets the news she's been waiting for.  She's been promoted to Detective and she joins the CID team investigating the murder of the woman whose body she'd discovered.  But every hopeful lead comes to a dead-end with no new ones on the horizon.

AND THE KILLER'S NEXT TARGET IS ONE OF THE INVESTIGATION TEAM.


About the author:
As well as a writer, Francis Yamoah is a photographer and a filmmaker with three short films under his belt.  In his spare time, Francis likes to read, listen to music or watch his beloved football club Arsenal FC, usually at the pub with his friends.  Let It Bleed is his first novel, but it is the second installment in his Lucy Collins series with the first being the novelette A Good Day.  He lives in London, UK.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Stephen Merlino


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hi, Stephen.  Welcome to The Gal.  I must say, before we get started, that your interview has been, by far, one of my absolute favorite interviews so far.  And I'm so glad you had time to join us.  Go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself.

Stephen Merlino:
I live in Seattle, Washington, with the world's most talented and desirable woman, fabulous children, and three attack chickens.


I teach high school English to a group of fantastic kids.  When people ask (and they always do), "Are teenagers really messed up these days?" I say, "Not at all.  They are just like we were.  They're awesome."  And I mean it.  Best job in the world, working with teens.  Keeps the mind young, too. :)

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

Stephen Merlino:
One: I wrote a kids novel before I wrote The Jack of Souls.  It is still in my desk.

Two: I once rode a motorcycle through the Valley of the Kings.


Three: When I was 25, a bush-nun in Africa cured me of malaria.

Four: When I was fourteen, I saw a phalanx of UFOs dart across the sky.

Five: I went to grad school in England.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Stephen Merlino:
The first book I remember reading is Miss Twigley's Tree, and it is still my favorite children's picture book.  It's about a lady who lives in a house built in a huge willow tree with a bunch of bears and dogs and cats; it's a beautiful celebration of non-conformity, individuality and eccentricity.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

Stephen Merlino:
Son of Avonar, by Carol Berg.  I've never read one of her books, but I met her at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers conference in Denver and really enjoyed her.  Looking forward to seeing what her stories are like.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Stephen Merlino:
As soon as I read The Lord of the Rings, I wanted to be a writer.  I wanted to invent and explore and share fantastic and magical worlds and characters.
            My earliest memory of wanting to write is from the seventh grade, when my best friend and I sat in the back of my parent's huge yellow station wagon as they drove us up to the ski slopes.  We were discussing The Sword of Shannara when my friend announced he was going to be a fantasy writer, and that he would start his own fantasy epic right then and there.  He had already named it, The Onyx Box, and it would start like this, "The taciturn dwarf held his ground, his double-bladed battle ax held tight in iron fists..."
            I remember it because it was the first time I'd heard anyone speak the word "taciturn" out loud, and it sounded like "TACK-a-turn," which I wasn't sure of, and because I wished I had been first to claim the dream.
            Of course, it turned out it would be me who fulfilled the dream, at age 49.  My friend now plays guitar in a world-famous rock band, and doesn't remember The Onyx Box.


It wasn't until high school that I really started writing, though, as annotate for all the daydreams of magic and adventure.  I still need that outlet.  These days, if I don't write, I become restless, un-centered, and unhappy.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Stephen Merlino:
A local cafe, called Cafe Racer, in the Roosevelt neighborhood of Seattle.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Stephen Merlino:
I tend to review/revise the previous session's writing, ten move on as the juices get flowing.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?

Stephen Merlino:
Lois McMaster Bujold's Curse of Chalion series is magnificent.  She has such a deft and subtle understanding of human relationship interactions, which she captures in subtly handled prose.  I read her work over and over and study how she does it.
            George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones has had a big impact on the genre (and me) with his realism and strict departure from the classical "white wizards and dark lords" of The Lord of the Rings.  "There are no dark lords," Martin once said.  "We are all gray lords."  I think he's right about that, so I try to give all my characters light and dark streaks.  Even the most irredeemable madmen have some small streak of lightness.  It makes us have to think a bit, wrestle with hard questions.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Stephen Merlino:
Balancing the time commitment with family and work.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Stephen Merlino:
Conflict.  Characters with problems.  Conflict is story.  Nothing should be nice and easy for a character.  The more problems they have, the better the action, the better the story.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Stephen Merlino:
I love that question!  After some thought, I realize I'm most like Bolli, the Kwendi ambassador.  Okay, Brolli's not human, but he and I still share many character traits: first, we are both keen observers of others; second, we are both skeptical of authority and a tad irreverent of tradition; third, we both love solitude in wilderness; and finally, when faced with danger, both of us rely on stealthy and deception rather than frontal assault.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Why did you pick your particular genre?

Stephen Merlino:
Wait...there are other genres?


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Stephen Merlino:
I try to turn as many outworn tropes of fantasy upside down and inside out as I can.

Instead of a tough, muscled protagonist, I make him slight and sneaky.  (I make his girlfriend the tough one.)

Instead of a young shining Lancelot as knight, I cast an aging, drug-addicted outcast.

Instead of a medieval setting, I do a mashup of Elizabethan England and the Wild West.

Instead of elves, knuckle-walking brutes.

Instead of... Oh, you get the picture. :)

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is in your "trunk"?

Stephen Merlino:
Okay, this isn't a book project - more of an art project - but it's been on my list for a long time.  I want to buy a whole bunch of 2" thick foam insulation board, then cut and weld and meld and bind and sculpt it into a full suit of plate armor.  Can you imagine that?!  I imagine big blocky, geometrical planes, like the force armor in the Kyle McLoughlin Dune film, or like some of the geometric ice golems in World of Warcraft.  Once complete, it could be molded with power sanders, linked together with flexible leather joints or hinges, and painted.  Probably need some stilt shoes, too.  It would be such a fun Halloween costume!


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Stephen Merlino:
Book 2, The Knave of Souls, in August 2015.
Book 3, The Prince of Souls, in December 2015.

And another trilogy after that.  The story isn't over!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Sounds awesome, Stephen!!  Thanks for stopping by and good luck. :)


About the book:
Harric is an outcast rogue who must break a curse put on his fate, or die on his nineteenth birthday.  To survive, he'll need more than his usual tricks.  He'll need help.  But on the kingdom's lawless frontier, his only allies are other outcasts.
            One of these is Caris, a mysterious, horse-whispering runaway, intent upon becoming the Queen's first female knight.  The other is Sir Willard - ex-immortal, ex-champion, now addicted to pain-killing herbs and banished from court.
            With their help, Harric might keep his curse at bay.  But for how long?
            And his companions bring troubles of their own: Caris bears the scars of a dark past that still haunts her; Willard is at war with the Old Ones, an order of insane immortal knights who once enslaved the kingdom.
            Together, they must overcome fanatical armies, murderous sorcerers, and powerful supernatural foes.
            Alone, Harric must face the temptation of forbidden magic that could break his curse, but cost him the only woman he's ever loved.

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: The Jack of Souls


The Unseen Moon 1:
The Jack of Souls
Stephen Merlino

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Tortoise Rampant Books
Publication date: 12.12.2014
Pages: 352


Harric is an outcast rogue who must break a curse put on his fate, or die on his nineteenth birthday.  To survive, he'll need more than his usual tricks.  He'll need help.  But on the kingdom's lawless frontier, his only allies are other outcasts.
            One of these is Caris, a mysterious, horse-whispering runaway, intent upon becoming the Queen's first female knight.  The other is Sir Willard - ex-immortal, ex-champion, now addicted to pain-killing herbs and banished from court.
            With their help, Harric might keep his curse at bay.  But for how long?
            And his companions bring troubles of their own: Caris bears the scars of a dark past that still haunts her; Willard is at war with the Old Ones, an order of insane immortal knights who once enslaved the kingdom.
            Together, they must overcome fanatical armies, murderous sorcerers, and powerful supernatural foes.
            Alone, Harric must face the temptation of forbidden magic that could break his curse, but cost him the only woman he's ever loved.



About the author:
Stephen Merlino lives in Seattle, WA, where he writes, plays, and teaches high school English.  He lives with the world's most talented and desirable woman, two fabulous children, and three attack chickens.
            Growing up in Seattle drove Stephen indoors for eight months of the year.  Before the age of video games, that meant he read a lot.  At the age of eleven he discovered the stories of J.R.R. Tolkien and fell in love with fantasy.
            Summers and rare sunny days he spent with friends in wooded ravines or on the beaches of Puget Sound, building worlds in the sand, and fighting orcs and wizards with driftwood swords.
            About the time a fifth reading of The Lord of the Rings failed to deliver the old magic, Stephen attended the University of Washington and fell in love with Chaucer and Shakespeare and all things English.
            Sadly, the closest he got to England back then was The Unicorn Pub at University Way, which wasn't even run by an Englishman: it was run by a Scot named Angus.  Still, he studied there, and as he sampled Angus's weird ales, and devoured the Unicorn's steak & kidney pie (with real offal!), he developed a passion for Scotland, too.
            In college, he fell in love with writing, and when a kindly professor said of a story he'd written, "You should get that published!" Stephen took the encouragement literally, and spent the next years trying.  The story remains unpublished, but the quest to develop it introduced Stephen to the world of agents (the story ultimately had two), and taught him much of craft and the value of what Jay Lake would call "psychotic persistence." 
            Add to that his abiding love of nerds - those who, as Sarah Vowel defines it, "go too far and care too much about a subject" - and you have Stephen Merlino in a nutshell.
            Stephen is the 2014 PNWA winner for Fantasy.  he is also the 2014 SWW winner for Fantasy.
            His novel, The Jack of Souls, is in its fourth month in the top ten on Amazon's Children's Fantasy Sword & Sorcery Best Seller list, and among the top three in Coming-of-Age.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

REVIEW: Time of Sanura


Madame Lilly 3:
Time of Sanura
Dormaine G.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Dark Fantasy, Occult
Publisher: Dormaine G.
Publication date: 3.10.2015
Pages: 98

Recommended by: Sage's Blog Tours, Read 2 Review
Date read: 4.18.2015


Elijah, in hopes of saving Odara from her soulless alter ego, puts her into a deep slumber and shows her what happened, all those years ago, to her Great Grandmother, Sanura, and Grandmother, Sophie.  Sanura is a lot like Odara, and after being unceremoniously kicked out of the home she grew up in (working for the Franklins, who got rid of her when Mrs. Franklin grew jealous of the attention her husband was showing Sanura), and ripped from her family, Sanura took a similar path to what Odara is taking now.  Sanura's vengeance goes beyond those who hurt her, gaining payback and retribution on those who have hurt others and, along the way, finding out that her heart was not as black as she thought, until one day, she too was pushed too far.

This is the book that I agreed to review, but seeing that it had two books ahead of it, I requested to read those as well.  I'm glad I did because I would have missed out on a lot of the story and been confused as to what happened in this one.  In the second book, we learn some of the things, through Odara's thoughts, that happened in the first one, but in this one, there is none of that.  This book starts where the second book ends.  

The cover is what originally drew me to this book.  It is definitely one of my favorites so far this year.

I love how the author did this book.  In order to show Odara more about her great grandmother, Elijah "transported her back to the time of Sanura, the era of her great-grandmother."  Now, this is a little misleading, at least for me, because the way I took that was we were going to do a bit of time traveling, or even some Scrooge stuff where the ghosts are going to see what happened as it happened, standing on the sidelines.  Instead, it was more like she had flashbacks of someone's life, watching the scene play in her head like a movie.  It still worked and allowed us to learn a lot - and I mean A LOT.  We learn about Doctor Smith, a guy who is very similar to Odara's common-law husband, Henry, in that he is not what you originally believe him to be.  We learned about Sanura, along with her best friends Ada and Cinese, and Ada's Aunt Mandisa - the person who taught Sanura her voodoo magic.  We learn about how Sophie came to be born, Sanura's connection to other families that we heard about in book two, the people that Sanura helped (and how), and what happened that eventually caused the end to Sanura's life and a big change in Sophie.

I think this book was the best of the three, but I liked all three for different reasons.  I want to know more about what happens to Odara and where her life goes next, more about Elijah and the connection that they had (which was pointed out, was noticed by the reader, but was never fully explained), and I'm sad that this book ended.  BUT... the way it ended leaves it open for the author to continue the series and I really hope that she does so.


About the book:
History has a way of repeating itself.

Madame Lilly journeys back in time to her great-grandmother's era, the time of Sanura.  Both women possess more than a kinship for they are each bound to harmful spirits whom they refuse to relinquish.  By the hand of a mysterious being, Elijah, Lilly is transported into the past to witness the dark path Sanura chose - ultimately leading to her demise.
            Sanura fights to deny her ability to see the non-living, but the more she refuses the sight, the more the dead flock to her.  A dreadful accident takes place, forcing her to finally accept her once unwanted gift.  She soon welcomes the dead.
            Through Sanura's struggle of growing up an innocent child forced to take on the burdens no one should carry, she ultimately transforms into a frightfully powerful woman.  Lilly watches from afar as Sanura grows more commanding with each act of wickedness, until her final downfall.  Even then, Sanura refuses to surrender her bound spirits for they need her as much as she needs them.



About the author:
I have been writing stories for many years, both in my head and on paper.  I've always had a love for books ever since spending Saturdays at the library as a young child.  Within a book, the mind can travel to worlds of the imagination and the beyond.
            I finally took the plunge and published my first novel in 2013, a young adult urban fantasy titled Connor and two adult  horror short stories titled, Madame Lilly, Voodoo Priestess and Madame Lilly, Voodoo Priestess: Soulless.  Micro, Anguta's Reign, a psychological thriller, was released November 3, 2014.  They are just the beginning of many more books to come as I stay locked up in my office in Colorado spinning more tales.

REVIEW: Soulless


Madame Lilly 2:
Soulless
Dormaine G.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Dark Fantasy, Occult
Publisher: Dormaine G.
Publication date: 7.7.2014
Pages: 75

Recommended by: Sage's Blog Tours, Read 2 Review
Date read: 4.17.2015


The saga of Odara - now completely Madame Lilly - continues in book two of the series.  She's not done with her common-law husband, Henry - not by a long shot.  She continues toying with him, and allows Theolus and Hearon to do the same.  She has big plans for him, and everyone else who is part of his world.

The story begins with Henry still held captive, and flips back and forth between what is currently happening in the story, and Madame Lilly remembering the things that lead her to where they are at now.  Not a story I would recommend reading without the first book, the author does give us some looks back at what happened in the first part of the story, as well as a lot more information about her life, the people that she has grown close to (mainly her best friend Jina), the demons that are now in her control, and the depravity that Henry was capable of.  This is a rather violent story, seeing not just abuse, but vengeance as well.  

Madame Lilly is a different character from when we first were introduced to her and we are seeing so much more about why.  We are also seeing what she is willing to do to keep the control she has, how far she is willing to go to be able to get what she wants most: retribution for what has happened to her.

The end of the book again left some things open, preparing you to continue the story in book three, and I was left wondering if anyone would be able to stop her, but also understanding her a little more, and intrigued at what the end of the story set us up for.



About the story:
Soulless and vengeful proves a lethal combination for those who have wronged her.
            The time is 1890, the place, New Orleans, and Odara is lost to Madame Lilly, her soulless side - and she has not finished what she started.  Unleashing two great forces, Theolus and Hearon, with ferocious appetites against her common-law husband, Henry Nicolas, is just the beginning of the end for Lilly - only she doesn't know it yet.
            For the spirits she raised took what was left of her humanity and left a piece of themselves within her; a piece that craves chaos.  Needing to maintain control over them to do her bidding, Lilly must do what is required even if it means becoming more like them.
            Tortured, scorned and damned, Lilly has one mission in life: Retribution.


About the author:
I have been writing stories for many years, both in my head and on paper.  I've always had a love for books ever since spending Saturdays at the library as a young child.  Within a book, the mind can travel to worlds of the imagination and the beyond.
            I finally took the plunge and published my first novel in 2013, a young adult urban fantasy titled Connor and two adult  horror short stories titled, Madame Lilly, Voodoo Priestess and Madame Lilly, Voodoo Priestess: Soulless.  Micro, Anguta's Reign, a psychological thriller, was released November 3, 2014.  They are just the beginning of many more books to come as I stay locked up in my office in Colorado spinning more tales.

REVIEW: Madame Lilly, Voodoo Priestess


Madame Lilly 1:
Madame Lilly, Voodoo Priestess
Dormaine G.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Dark Fantasy, Occult
Publisher: Dormaine G.
Publication date: 2.19.2014
Pages: 55

Recommended by: Sage's Blog Tours, Read 2 Review
Date read: 4.17.2015


Madame Lilly begins her life as a girl named Odara.  Her mother is Creole, her father French.  At the end of the 1800s, in Louisiana, it was considered "normal" for wealthy men to take on a common-law wife, and have a family outside of their "traditional" marriage.  Her parents are one such relationship. As she grows up, her mother teaches her the things that she needs to know so that she, too, can grow up to find a husband like her mother did.  But Odara is headstrong and different, and she wants nothing to do with this thing called placage.  Until she meets a work associate of her father's and everything changes.  But things are not always as perfect as we would like them to be, and she finds this out on our wedding night.  There is only so much one woman can take, and this is the story of what can happen when that woman finally hits her breaking point.

The whole idea of this story grabbed my attention and I was hooked from the first page, so much so that I read the first two books in one sitting.  

Odara/Madame Lilly really is something else - the author wrote her so well that I immediately felt a bond with her and understood what she was going through, and why she finally did what she had to do.  And BOY was what she had to do ... I have no words.  Interesting (that's the word I always end up using when I don't know what word to use) doesn't even begin to cut it.  The idea of voodoo and magic has always been something I found interesting and this book definitely has both.  

The side characters - Henry, Theolus, Hearon, Elijah, Sophie - did not feel like side characters, but instead main characters along with Odara.  Henry evolves in this book, and becomes something beyond what I expected; Theolus, Hearon and Elijah are characters that we get a glimpse of, but learn more about later, and they are intriguing; Sophie is enlightening, learning a little bit about her, but not as much as I wanted to know.

The book does end with some unanswered questions, some things not yet finished, obviously setting it up for the second book.  (Hint: The second book is worth reading the first one.)


About the book:
In the late 1800s, Odara, a Creole girl in New Orleans, grew up wealthy and having the best of everything.  She was taught the ways of placage: to be a wealthy man's common-law wife.  She didn't want to follow the ways of placage as her mother had, until she met the man of her dreams, Henry Nicolas.  He was handsome, charming and rich; perfect in every way until their first night of marriage when she saw his true malevolent side.
            For twelve long years Odara endured abuse in the worst ways possible, taking her from a naive child to a scorned woman. A woman fueled with such revulsion towards Henry she would give anything for vengeance.
            Through voodoo, Madame Lilly was born, but with it came consequences beyond even her comprehension.


About the author:
I have been writing stories for many years, both in my head and on paper.  I've always had a love for books ever since spending Saturdays at the library as a young child.  Within a book, the mind can travel to worlds of the imagination and the beyond.
            I finally took the plunge and published my first novel in 2013, a young adult urban fantasy titled Connor and two adult  horror short stories titled, Madame Lilly, Voodoo Priestess and Madame Lilly, Voodoo Priestess: Soulless.  Micro, Anguta's Reign, a psychological thriller, was released November 3, 2014.  They are just the beginning of many more books to come as I stay locked up in my office in Colorado spinning more tales.