Aug 292011
 

Rage is the second book of The Horsemen of the Apocalypse by Jackie Morse Kessler. The first book Hunger (see review here) was okay and started off awesome. Both my daughter and I fought over it, snatching snippets as soon as the other put it down. In the end, Hunger wasn’t the greatest book, but certainly piqued my interest for Rage. Before we go into the review, the blurb from Goodreads:

Missy didn’t mean to cut so deep. But after the party where she was humiliated in front of practically everyone in school, who could blame her for wanting some comfort? Sure, most people don’t find comfort in the touch of a razor blade, but Missy always was . . . different.

That’s why she was chosen to become one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War. Now Missy wields a new kind of blade—a big, brutal sword that can cut down anyone and anything in her path. But it’s with this weapon in her hand that Missy learns something that could help her triumph over her own pain: control.

A unique approach to the topic of self-mutilation,Rageis the story of a young woman who discovers her own power and refuses to be defeated by the world.

Part of the short comings when it came to Hunger was that the title and idea behind the horsemen didn’t really match the story line. We had an anorexic girl who didn’t really suffer from hunger. Rather the lack of balance in her life and the way she dealt with situations prevented her from leading a healthy existence. Likewise, the horseman Famine wasn’t about inflicting starvation, but rather balancing the distribution of food.

Knowing Rage wouldn’t necessarily be about anger, my mind was more open to the story. Or rather, I had to constantly remind myself that we’re not dealing with the title or the concept of the Horsemen War, but something beyond and loosely related.

Whereas Hunger was about balance, Rage was about control. The star of the show, Missy, seemed more depressed than angry and dealt with her depression by cutting herself. In fact, she worked hard at the flat effect. I questioned at times if she even had the ability to express her anger. So the title missed the mark again, but that didn’t make it a bad book… just something to keep in mind so one doesn’t enter the story with false expectations.

As far as the story itself? Decent. I was horrified with all that happened to Missy. Though I can’t imagine her situation is typical, I know there are girls out there who’ve faced similar experiences. Once in awhile, awful events will even appear in the news. I shake my head and sigh and hope my kids never have to go through something so horrid.

I have to say, Ms. Kessler did a wonderful job putting me inside Missy’s head. I’m such a wimp when it comes to pain, I can’t imagine hurting myself on purpose, much less making myself bleed. So why would someone harm themselves? Well, read the story if you’re looking for some insight. It certainly gave me a new appreciation.

Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler

is available at:

The Book Depository

Barnes & Nobles

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Aug 282011
 

For the past two years, Jenn has lived and trained at Spain’s Sacred Heart Academy Against the Cursed Ones. She is among the few who have pledged to defend humanity or die trying. But the vampires are gaining power, and the battle has only just begun. Forced to return home after death takes a member of her family, Jenn discovers that San Francisco is now a vampire strong-hold. As a lone hunter apart from her team, Jenn is isolated — and at risk. She craves the company of her fighting partner, Antonio: his protection, his reassurance, his touch. But a relationship with Antonio comes with its own dangers, and the more they share of themselves, the more Jenn stands to lose. Then Jenn is betrayed by one who was once bound to protect her, causing her to doubt all she had held as true. To survive, Jenn must find the courage to trust herself — and her heart.

Why I picked it up: Because I couldn’t stop myself. This book was on the bargain bookshelf. I’d never heard of the author or the title. The first time couple of times I saw it on the bargain shelf at Walden (remember, going out of business), I passed it up. Finally, I decided to read the first few paragraphs to assess the writing style. Worked for me. Right now my youngest daughter is reading and enjoying this book, so I might give it a shot sooner than later. We’ll see.

Available at: Barnes & Nobles and The Book Depository

Since the dawn of time, the Faerie have taken. . . .

For seventeen-year-old actress Kelley Winslow, faeries are just something from childhood stories. Then she meets Sonny Flannery, whose steel-gray eyes mask an equally steely determination to protect her. Sonny guards the Samhain Gate, which connects the mortal realm with the Faerie’s enchanted, dangerous Otherworld. Usually kept shut by order of icy King Auberon, the Gate stands open but once a year. This year, as the time approaches when the Samhain Gate will swing wide and nightmarish Fae will fight their way into an unsuspecting human world, something different is happening . . . something wondrous and strange. And Kelley’s eyes are opening not just to the Faerie that surround her but to the heritage that awaits her. Now Kelley must navigate deadly Faerie treachery—and her growing feelings for Sonny—in this dazzling page-turner filled with luminous romance. Wondrous Strange is a richly layered tale of love between faerie and mortal, betrayal between kings and queens, and magic . . . between author and reader.

Why I picked it up: I’ve wanted this book for a while. I won book two of the series some time last year and kept saying I’d pick this up eventually. With the Walden sales going on, I figured this was my opportunity. So where we are. :)

Available at: Barnes & Nobles and The Book Depository

It’s a few years after rebel Tally Youngblood took down the uglies/pretties/specials regime. Without those strict roles and rules, the world is in a complete cultural renaissance. “Tech-heads” flaunt their latest gadgets, “kickers” spread gossip and trends, and “surge monkeys” are hooked on extreme plastic surgery. And it’s all monitored on a bazillion different cameras. The world is like a gigantic game of American Idol. Whoever is getting the most buzz gets the most votes. Popularity rules. As if being fifteen doesn’t suck enough, Aya Fuse’s rank of 451,369 is so low, she’s a total nobody. An extra. But Aya doesn’t care; she just wants to lie low with her drone, Moggle. And maybe kick a good story for herself. Then Aya meets a clique of girls who pull crazy tricks, yet are deeply secretive of it. Aya wants desperately to kick their story, to show everyone how intensely cool the Sly Girls are. But doing so would propel her out of extra-land and into the world of fame, celebrity…and extreme danger. A world she’s not prepared for.

Why I picked it up: Last week I picked the first three books in the series. Well, this wasn’t on the bargain shelf like the others, but still the discount was decent enough to warrant adding it to my collection.

Available at: Barnes & Nobles and The Book Depository

What if the hottest guy in the world was hiding a nameless evil, and all he wanted was you? At the start of this heart-pounding new installment of the bestselling House of Night series, Zoey’s friends have her back again and Stevie Rae and the red fledglings aren’t Neferet’s secrets any longer.  But an unexpected danger has emerged. Neferet guards her powerful new consort, Kalona, and no one at the House of Night seems to understand the threat he poses.  Kalona looks gorgeous, and he has the House of Night under his spell. A past life holds the key to breaking his rapidly spreading influence, but what if this past life shows Zoey secrets she doesn’t want to hear and truths she can’t face? On the run and holed up in Tulsa’s Prohibition-era tunnels, Zoey and her gang must discover a way to deal with something that might bring them all down.  Meanwhile, Zoey has a few other little problems.  The red fledglings have cleaned up well – they’ve even managed to make the dark, creepy tunnels feel more like home – but are they really as friendly as they seem?  On the boyfriend front, Zoey has a chance to make things right with super-hot ex-, Erik, but she can’t stop thinking about Stark, the archer who died in her arms after one unforgettable night, and she is driven to try to save him from Neferet’s sinister influence at all costs.  Will anyone believe the power evil has to hide among us?

Why I picked it up: For my daughter. :) We have the first books in the series on our shelf. I won most, if not all of those in a couple of giveaways. She enjoyed those, so I figured I’d pick up the next in line for her. I know book one has an awesome start to it, and I almost gave it a whirl. Then I realized the start in book one was just a gimmick, so set it aside. Perhaps I’ll give it another shot one day, now that I got the disappointment out of my system over the gimmick. :) Until then, my daughter gets to enjoy this one.

Available at: Barnes & Nobles and The Book Depository

When the sixteen-year-old runaway Chap is mistaken for a missing boy named Cassiel, his life changes dramatically. Chap takes on Cassiel’s identity, gaining the family and friends he’s always dreamed of having. But becoming someone else isn’t as easy as he hoped—and Chap isn’t the only one hiding a secret. As he teeters on the brink of discovery and begins to unravel the mystery behind Cassiel’s disappearance, Chap realizes that he’s in much deeper danger than he could have imagined. After all, you can’t just steal a life and expect to get away with it. Award-winning author Jenny Valentine delivers an explosive mystery where dark secrets, betrayal, and loss pave the way for one teen’s chance at redemption.

Why I picked it up: If I’m not mistaken, this is actually a reprint not set to release until February 2012. So I still have a few months to go before I pick this one up for a review. Still sounded interesting though. I’m wondering, what in the world is going on that you can just step into someone’s life and no one notices. Perhaps it really is his life, and he just has amnesia. Hmmm. I guess time will tell. I picked this one up from the NetGalley.

Available at: Barnes & Nobles and The Book Depository

Once upon a time…the Blood Sorcerer vanquished the kingdom of Elden. To save their children, the queen scattered them to safety and the king filled them with vengeance. Only a magical timepiece connects the four royal heirs…and time is running out.… Nicolai the Vampire was renowned for his virility, but in a twist of fate “The Dark Seducer” had become a sex slave in the kingdom of Delfina—stripped of his precious timepiece and his memory. All that remained was a primal need for freedom, revenge—and the only woman who could help him. In her dreams, a wanton vampire called to Jane Parker, drawing her to his dark sexuality and his magical realm. But for a human, all was not a fairy tale in Delfina. Jane was the key to Nicolai’s memory…but exploiting her meant dooming the only mortal he craved.

Why I picked it up: Gena Showalter — need I say more? I’m quite fond of her Lords of the Underworld series, though I’ve yet to pick up her latest in the series. I was rather disappointed with the happily ever after against all odds… even death, so I decided to give her a little break. But I couldn’t resist trying out her latest series. :) Plus, it was a NetGalley release. I plan to get to this one real quick since I believe it’s already on the market and I picked it up rather late.

Available at: Barnes & Nobles and The Book Depository

All Joss wants is to be left alone—with Dylan. But as more Talents are imprisoned by the government, everyone’s looking for a leader. Some look to Joss, some to Marco whose new criminal plan threatens Joss’s family and friends. Joss wants to stand up to Marco, but Dylan’s protective instincts are putting him in harm’s way. Can Joss find a way to embrace both the boy and her hero within?

a longer version…

In the world of the Talents, kids with supernatural powers are condemned to government research facilities from which they do not return. For a Talent, the most important thing is keeping the secret…

–Six weeks ago, Dylan Maxwell slugged it out with his best friend. Over a girl.

But Marco had it coming. After all, it looked like he was going to use his supernatural strength to kill Joss Marshall. That should have been the end of it, but Marco’s got bigger plans for crime in Fairview than Dylan ever understood. This time he’s going after the town’s merchants with a crime wave that threatens Joss’s family’s business and all the Talents’ secrets.

–Six weeks ago, Joss Marshall was alone.

Now there’s Dylan. It’s not always comfortable being just friends with the guy she’s had a crush on forever. And the more she learns about the boy with the easy smile, who always seems to know what to say, the more she learns how much they have in common. He’s so much more than she understood, and so much more than she could stand to lose.

That was then, this is now.

And now, everything changes.

Why I picked it up: Last year I fell in love with the first book, Hush Money (see review here). When Susan Bischoff sent out an email asking folks if the wanted to review her latest work — the one I’ve been waiting like forever to read — of course I said yes! I have her prequel hiding somewhere on my Kindle. Perhaps I’ll do a quick read of that and do a double review. This copy was supplied by the author.

Available at: Available at: Barnes & Nobles, Smashwords, and The Book Depository

Nerina has lived all her life as a mermaid, fascinated by humans and land but also repulsed by sex and unable to understand love. Her curiosity gets her captured by a human male intent on awakening her lust and turning her human. But Nerina doesn’t believe the legend is real and fears Kyros will kill her when he learns she can’t transform.

This work is a novella of 21,500 words which will take the average reader 1 to 2 hours to read, depending on personal reading speed. The work is “meant” to be short.

For those unfammiliar with Kitty’s work, this story in many respects is more “tame” than some of her other work, but it is still erotica with a master/slave and kidnap element.

Fun Facts:

Nerina is a Greek name that literally means: “Sea Nymph”.

Kyros is also a Greek name. It means power that is legitimate but compassionate. Despos is generally the term used for power over a slave and Kyros was the term more used for power over a wife or someone for whom you care about their overall well-being.

Meropis is the island upon which the story takes place and it’s a mythical island that I did not create but is part of mythology and sometimes associated in some way with Atlantis. Anostos, the portion of the island that the story takes place on, is as mythology describes, covered in a red, cloudy haze.

Awakening is meant to be a mermaid fairy tale for adults.

Why I picked it up: Every work Kitty Thomas puts out is unique while still holding the sexual domination theme. I can’t help but be intrigued with each piece she puts out… apprehensive usually, but intrigued nonetheless. She definitely an author to follow. Review copy supplied by the author.

Available at: Smashwords, Barnes & Nobles, and The Book Depository

What’s in your mailbox? Pick up any new or upcoming releases?

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Aug 272011
 

Have you heard? Martin King is attempting to write 100 guest posts for 100 different websites, and he’s close. Oh boy is he close to meeting that goal. Last time I checked, he was at #77. Today he’s here. For those who follow Who Art Thou Thursdays, you probably remember this question: Cursive or Print? Let’s see what Mr. Martin has to say.

**************

I must have the worst writing in the whole world. People use the phrase spider writing, but this is more a case of squashed spider writing. But it wasn’t always that way. This story begins when I was seven.

I had just moved from primary to junior school and I had gone from being a big fish in a little pond to a small fish in an ocean.

So one day I was in my new Englishy-type lesson when the teacher announced we would be doing a hand writing competition. Back then you weren’t allowed to use biros in class, it had to be real fountain pens. The desks still had ink wells in them to have your little ink pots, but by now cartridge pens were all the rage. That was the days when school you to provide blotting paper – you remember that bitty pink stuff.

Well I was desperate to win and I tried so hard. I pulled out every beautiful curve imaginable. And you never guess what… I actually won. My prize was a really posh Parker ink pen with a spare set of cartridges. And from that moment on I was the best hand writer in the whole year.

Wow – that is a lovely story you may think, but I can tell by the puzzled expressions on your faces you are wondering what happened? How come I went from being so good at writing to being so poor? The answer is joined up letters. I could painstakingly craft any individual letter with great care and craft but the day we had to join them all together, the spiders came to lodge.

These blogs are all about fun and sharing. Thank you for reading a ‘#100blogfest’ blog. Please follow this link to find the next blog in the series: http://martinkingauthor.com/blog/7094550076

 

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Aug 262011
 

I come across quite a few indie authors with low sales. Let’s face it, low sales are the norm, big success is the rarity. In the end, majority of us remain in dismal obscurity. Even so, there are low cost methods authors can use to get their books a little publicity, reviews being one of them.

One of the first things I tend to notice when I hit an author with low sales are the lack of reviews. I’ve yet to find a book with an abundance of reviews doing poorly. Some might say, of course high selling books have lots of reviews, they’re selling books like crazy. No book sales, no reviews. No reviews, no books sales.

People! This is not a catch-22 situation. You don’t have to have book sales to obtain reviews. In fact, your work doesn’t even have to be available to the public in order to start earning those reviews.

Ever hear of Advance Reading Copies (ARCs)?

ARCs are not just for authors who go the traditional route. I started sending out ARCs for my latest release (I Loved You First) about a week before publication. Why an ARC and not the final version?

Here’s the thing about ARCs. They don’t have to be perfect. Now I’m not talking about sending your first draft. The ARC I sent had received outside editing and a read through by me. However, I knew it needed one more read through, plus I had a few copyright issues in the air which needed to be settled before releasing it to the public. For the most part, the ARC was pretty solid.

If you’re pretty confident in the quality of your work, but aren’t quite ready for publication, I highly recommend sending out ARCs to reviewers. But remember, don’t send crap. Reviewers will still call you on your typos, grammar, and misused words.

So, you’ve got an ARC or final version.

Now What?

Well, you can continue to wait for folks to find your works and review them. This method might work for established authors, but I doubt it’ll work for many debut authors. If you want those reviews, you’re going to have to go out and get them, my friend. And I don’t mean sitting behind your blog asking folks, “if you’re interested in reviewing my work, send me an email.” You can try that (I certainly have), but that’s not enough.

Remember your querying days? Researching agents, following submission guidelines, and sending out letters. Welcome back to the grind. Great thing about sending queries to reviewers is the success rate is far greater than seeking representation from an agent.

A few notes. Don’t send queries arbitrarily or in a mass email. Use the same care in picking out reviewers as you would an agent. Just as agents only represent certain genres, reviewers only read certain genres.

Research is beneficial

I came across more than a few dormant review sites. It doesn’t make sense to put together a review packet for an individual who isn’t serious about reviewing your work. Some of the things I look for:

  • Review Policy – Starting here is a given. Not all reviewers have them. I’ll be honest, if I don’t find a review policy or verbiage giving me a clue to their likes and dislikes, I’ll often bypass the review site.
  • Number of followers – It’s great to get a reviewer with a huge following. After all, the point of a review is to get some publicity. However, reviewers with smaller followings have pros also. For one, their reading lists may be shorter, which means they may be more willing to commit to a review and do one sooner than later. And their review policies might indicate they post reviews in places other than just their blog/website. For me, this is huge, particularly if the review is posted on a retail site.
  • Post consistency – This goes along with dormant sites. If the site is dead (most recent post is a month or so ago), I move to the next blog. How often a blogger posts is important also. Large gaps between posts gives me the impression the blogger isn’t serious about blogging. And if the blogger isn’t serious, chances are, folks aren’t serious about checking in either.
  • Accepted formats – I prefer to send out digital copies due to the costs associated with print copies. And with so many reviewers accepting eCopies and even preferring them in some cases, digital is the way to go (at least for me and my purse).
  • Indie authors – Some reviewers don’t accept self-published works. Simple response to that is to move on to the next reviewer.
  • ARC versus Final – Can I send out an ARC? Some reviewers will take into account the ARC isn’t the final version. Others won’t. Make sure whichever version you send is the one you’re comfortable with them reviewing. Don’t be surprised if a review rips your work apart because you sent the wrong version.
  • Where they post their reviews – Their blog only? Goodreads? Retail sites? The more places, the more publicity.
  • Time line – Many reviewers have reading lists a mile long. 3-4 months isn’t unusual. If you know your release date, consider making arrangements early. Don’t discount the reviewers who take a bit longer. Early reviews are great, but latter reviews can act like a revival.
  • Other Features – Does the reviewer participate in blog tours, interviews, giveaways, or other events? If so, make your availability known at the time of submission. If your work is accepted for submission, be sure to put in a reminder in your response.

Where the heck are the reviewers?

I hit two spots when it comes to reviews. First, because I’m an indie author, is Simon Royle’s list of indie reviewers. The list isn’t comprehensive, but it’s a great start. All the individuals on the list review indie work for free. However, some on the list have guidelines so strict, it’s difficult for an indie author to get a yes. For example, some only review indie works they’ve previously reviewed/read in the past. So that’s something to keep in mind.

My second stop is the Book Blogger Directory. I love this place. The bloggers are categorized, and the database is HUGE. Indie authors do have to pick through since there are no indicators as to whether a blogger accepts indie work or not, at least not at the time of this post.

The bottom line

Using the methods above, I found plenty of reviewers willing to take a peek at I Loved You First, enough that I managed to fill a month and a 1/2 long blog tour. I’m not going to pretend like my sales are all that grand, because they’re not (at least not yet <wink> <wink>). And if we get to the truth of it, I’m not all that great at marketing either. But I will tell you, reviewers are out there waiting to pounce on a good read. If you don’t tell them your book is available, who will?

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