Saturday, April 19, 2014

Oh No, I've Fallen In Love! by Louise Wise (re-release) (excerpt, interview)

On the surface, Valerie Anthrope was happy with her life. She had her own brokerage with Sunny Oak Insurance and was financially solvent. But once asleep, she was plunged into a world of nightmares that reminded her she was cursed.

And that meant she couldn’t fall in love. Ever.

Lex Kendal was a multi-millionaire. Women flocked to him, preened and flaunted for his attention. But one woman, Valerie, knocked him back. Hard. It dented his pride and Lex set out to convince himself he still ‘had it’ by pursuing her.

Only he found himself being needed in a way he never, ever, expected and, for once in his life, money wasn’t the answer.

I risked a look at the tall man sitting beside me. His golden eyes were on the road. I took a chance to observe his ruggedly textured face and noticed a small scar on his left eyebrow, and the laughter lines that fanned out from his eyes.
My eyes slid over his dark-coloured dinner jacket; his body contoured to it as though it’d melted over him. And, no matter how hard I tried to stop myself, my eyes dropped lower still towards his groin. I brought my head up, shocked at my actions, and stared straight ahead with my hands folded in my lap.
He looked askance. ‘Have I passed?’
‘At least you’ve combed your hair.’
Lex laughed.
I watched his hands as they managed the powerful car. He really was a magnificent looking man – if you liked the arrogant feral type. I sniffed, and looked away.
The restaurant was in the heart of London, close to the London Eye. The city was alive with people, music and laughter. Both manager of the restaurant and the maître d’ were there to meet us, and reminded me how influential Lex was. He was greeted with firm handshakes, and a few courteous words about Ladwick. Lex answered politely, but kept a possessive hand firmly on the small of my back. Instead of feeling annoyed, I felt cherished. It was a nice feeling.
The maître d’ showed us to a small table for two in an alcove. A bottle of champagne on ice was waiting for us, and my place was set with a red rose lying across a side plate. The maître d’ lit the candle in the centre of the table, and then uncorked the champagne bottle with a bang. My nerves evaporated - it was obvious that Lex was trying to impress me. I almost laughed; probably would have too had I not been trying not to throw up at all the over-the-top sweetness and ickiness of it all. I watched the vapour rise from the top of the green bottle, then the maître d’ filled our glasses and finally left us alone.
‘Dear God,’ I said, as a violinist serenaded a blushing woman while her partner looked on. Lex handed me my glass of champagne.
‘Just call me Lex,’ he said.
I looked back at him. He honestly thought I’d be impressed? ‘Lex, be serious, are you sure about this place?’
He looked puzzled, but then winked and said with a grin, ‘It’s where I bring the ladies.’
I remembered the kissing and the female voice on the telephone and the spear of jealousy to my stomach shocked me. Keep it light, I reminded myself.
‘Your conquests,’ I said. I’d forgotten how nice champagne was as the bubbles hit the back of my throat. ‘Tell me, Lex, do you win them all?’
He frowned. ‘Not all, no.’
It wasn’t the answer I was expecting. To hide my confusion I picked up the menu. It was one of those restaurants where there were only a few choice dishes with the prices absent. I put it down again.
‘How was Dublin?’ I asked.
He pushed the candle to one side and the shadows danced against the wall. ‘Irish. How was your day?’
‘Fine. How’d the plans go for another Ladwick there?’
‘Do we have to talk about business? I’ve been talking about Ladwick nonstop for four days now. I want to talk about you.’
‘Short conversation,’ I said and he chuckled.
‘How do you like the champagne?’
‘I can take it or leave it,’ I said.
‘You’re a hard lady to impress.’
‘Why’d you want to impress me? We’re having a casual dinner, that’s all.’
He stared at me a moment. ‘What if I don’t want it to be casual?’
‘I wouldn’t believe you. You’re the country’s latest famous bachelor and enjoying every moment.’ I picked up the menu, but then put it down again. ‘There’s a little Greek restaurant around the corner. Fancy it?’
‘I thought women liked these types of places.’
I pushed back my chair. ‘Oh, you so need to be educated!’
Lex peeled off some notes and laid them on the table, and then, giggling like kids, we dashed from the restaurant. Leaving the car where it was, we walked across the road towards a sedate little taverna. It was quiet and the gentle music of Greek ancestry played. A dark-haired waitress escorted us to a small table at the rear, and gave us both a menu.
‘This is better,’ I said.
‘You always surprise me,’ Lex said. ‘I really thought you’d have liked the Coral.’
‘Did you now?’ I peek over the top of my menu at him. ‘You don’t know me at all, Mr Kendal. You just assume you do; like you assume you understand women.’ I dropped my gaze to the words on the menu, not paying them much attention, but feeling his burning gaze on the top of my head.
‘You’re right. I’ve underestimated you. I apologise.’
I raised my eyes. His hands were clasped in front of him on the table and he was actually looking contrite. ‘I was going to wine and dine you. Impress you with my fluent French –’
‘Parlez-vous français?’
He smiled but said, ‘Oui.’
My face remained passive as I said, ‘Dites-moi que vous avez toujours été un idiot?’
He looked shocked, but then laughed. ‘Yes, I’ve always been an idiot, I guess. So you speak French too?’
‘A little,’ I said. I was smiling too, only my smile was hidden behind the menu. I didn’t want him to see me thawing – not yet. ‘So, supposing you’d impressed me by speaking French, then what?’
‘The French and champagne not enough?’
I shook my head.
‘Well, after dinner we’d have gone for a drive. It’s a nice starry evening, and what could be better than cruising along listening to Van Morrison? ’
‘You made up a CD especially, didn’t you?’
He pulled a rueful face, and I laughed.
‘So where would you have taken me on the drive?’
‘A place where we could walk along the Thames just by ourselves; it’d be beautiful watching the silver moon dance on the surface. I’d have taken your hand…’
‘Yes?’ My heart was thumping; the menu – my guard - was lowering from my face.
‘Kissed each one of your fingers, and told you how beautiful you looked.’ His honey-coloured eyes were watching me intently. ‘I’d lean in, you’d lean in and we’d kiss. Gently. Softly. You’d look shocked, maybe embarrassed, and then I’d say, let’s walk. And we’d walk along the river bank. My coat around your shoulders. We’d hold hands, you’d relax. Then, beneath the moon, I’d stop, pull you against me and kiss you again. This time you wouldn’t be embarrassed.’
I couldn’t believe this. He was doing it again!
‘Did you have lessons?’ I asked, breathless.
‘In seduction.’
His mouth twitched. He sat back, and picked up the menu. ‘Admit it, Velvet, you were falling for it.’
Insufferable, but correct, man. He was good, I’d give him that. Playboy at his best. I’d have to stay alert. Maybe I shouldn’t drink anything alcoholic tonight. Just in case.
Ooh, they had cocktails! I love cocktails. I snatched up the cocktail menu and, yep, they had my favourite – Fuzzy Navel.
One wouldn’t hurt.
Author Interview

DNK: You originally entitled your book "The Fall of the Misanthrope". How do you define misanthrope?

LW: A misanthrope is a pessimist, a cynic and someone who doesn’t get on with others. She, Valerie Anthrope, is the misanthrope. She doesn’t cope well in groups of people, but the title conjured up literary or ‘serious’ and the book is anything but, so a title change had to be done and Oh no, I’ve Fallen in Love! sums up Valerie’s dilemma perfectly.

DNK: You describe your book as dark, and others have described it as "funny" (although maybe darkly so) and having a bit of "magical realism". That's a lot in one book! What motivated you to write that kind of story?

LW: I like realism and as you know life has a habit of being funny. There is dark in the book and that’s down to Valerie’s realisation that her behaviour is due to her being depressed, but because the book is a romantic comedy I’ve written it in a fun and chatty way, but by no means am I laughing at the illness. Depression is a serious condition and very misunderstood, as is Valerie.

I’m not sure what the motivation was, I’d like to say I was doing it for the depressive society (is there one?) but I’d be lying. I just wanted Valerie to be as damaged as she possibly could be.

The magical element is a matter of what the reader will take from the story. It is magical or a coincidence? I’ve left that up to the reader to decided and going by reviews, they’ve decided on the magical element.

DNK: Not to give too much away, but mental illness is a theme in this novel. How difficult was it to write from the point of view of someone suffering from that?

LW: I work in medicine (pharmaceutical) so was able to research the drugs well. Also, mental illness seems to run in our family. I have members of my (not immediate) family who have all suffered, but  all find the illness an embarrassment. It’s something to hide from and never admit to, just like Valerie. So in answer to your question, I didn’t really find it difficult, in fact I think it’d be easy to switch off, withdraw and allow the world to pass me by so I could ‘get into character’ very easily. Maybe I’ve the depressive trait…? Personally, I don’t think there is enough being done to treat the illness. It’s far more common than anyone thinks.

DNK: Money is a bit of a theme here too, particularly the ways in which can protect us (to a point). What made you write along those lines?

LW: In chick lit it’s usually the rich man helping out the poor defenceless female. I wanted them equal but still have that ‘typical’ theme. Lex was rich and Valerie, although not poor, wasn’t as well off as Lex. And in the end, Lex’s money couldn’t help Valerie. It’d protected him all through his life, from childhood (expensive schools) to opening doors at work and climbing the ladder to where he is now as a director at Ladwicks, until it couldn’t protect him from the devastation of love.

DNK: What can you say about another theme: not growing up?

LW: [Lex] was a rich kid and grew into a rich adult. Spoilt rotten and treated women like fine clothes (to be worn and discarded for something new).

DNK: Isn't there an extent to which Valerie is also trapped by her childhood?

LW: She is trapped. By her upbringing, her memories and her own perception of this 'curse' that she thinks she has. It's all a bit tragic really, but she sees no way out and Ellen is truly her fairy godmother by realising in time that Valerie needs professional help. I think we could all do with an interfering friend from time to time!

DNK: What are you hoping people walk away with after they read this story?

LW: I want them to walk away wondering about the so-called magical element at the end of the book. Was it something paranormal/magical going on, or pure coincidence? And then I'd like them to take away that mental illness isn't all about tortured people sectioned in institutions, but everyday people like you and I.

Purchase Links


Married, with four children, Louise Wise lives in England. She is a pharmacist technician by day and a writer by night. She was educated in an ordinary state school and left without achieving much in the way of qualifications; you could say she was the result of a crap school. Hungry for knowledge she enrolled in an Adult Education centre and studied English, maths and creative writing. Whereas other young girls asked for makeup and clothes for their birthdays, she asked for encyclopaedias!

Louise Wise used her general love of romantic fiction and interest in astronomy to write her first book. The book received many rejections stating the novel was too original for the current market, until finally, an agent took the book on but subsequently failed to find a publisher for it. Instead of becoming despondent, it made Louise realise that becoming a published writer WAS possible. She turned her back on traditionally publishing, threw herself into the indie world and went on to publish her first chick lit book, A Proper Charlie and then Oh no, I’ve Fallen in Love!

As for the ‘too original’ Eden it has been such a hit that Louise has now followed it up with the sequel, Hunted. So far, they are both selling well.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Double Cover Reveal for Connor Titus (Dark Fantasy, Horror, Apocalyptic)

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About the Author:
0418 Crystal Connor photo Crystal-Connor.jpgCrystal Y. Connor grew up telling spooky little campfire-style stories at slumber parties. Living on a steady literary diet of Stephen King, Robin Cook, Dean R. Koontz and healthy doses of cinema masterpieces such as The Birds, Friday the 13th, Hellraiser, The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone it surprises no one that she ended up writing a horror novel! 
Crystal now living in Seattle has been writing poetry and short stories specializing in the Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction, and  Horror since before Jr. high School. The Darkness, her début novel and book I in The Spectrum Trilogy has been selected as a two time Award-Winning Finalist in the 2011International Book Awards in the fiction categories of Cross Genre Fiction and Multicultural Fiction.
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Title:  In The Foothills of Mt. Empyreal: The End is Now
Author:  Crystal Connor, writing as Connor Titus
To Be Published:  May 26th, 2014
Word Count:  approx. 81,000
Genre:  Horror, Dark Fantasy, Apocalyptic
Content Warning:  Adult content and violence
Recommended Age:   17+
The Order of The Sentinels.
The Order of The Learned.
The Order of The Writs.
The Order of The Cloth.
In the foothills of Mt. Empyreal the most powerful forces in the world are drawn into combat.
And the fate of all the world hangs in the balance.
Excerpt from The End is Now by Connor Titus:
For hours, she drove in silence, enjoying the beauty of the wintry landscape that seemed somehow amplified in the quiet of a planet without the noise of technology. The rumble of the engine against the backdrop of the stillness lured Khrystle into a state of calmness that she had never before achieved, but when the abomination wrapped its tail around her wrist, she was jerked back to reality by the sounds of her own screaming.
She slid to a screeching stop and jumped from the ATV. After a deep breath, she put the demonic spawn back in the cargo space and picked up her shotgun for comfort.
The reprieve was short-lived.
It was a military plane, a fighter jet, and its silent descent from the sky was nothing short of memorizing. There was an earth-shattering explosion. Moments later, she was blasted off her feet by the hot wind.
Standing, she watched the black smoke climb into the bright sky. How long she stood staring, she couldn’t remember, but after a while, she straddled the vehicle and started the engine.
It had taken her two days to reach the …
It took Khrystle a moment to realize that the dissemination before her was the result of the fighter jet slamming into an Amtrak.
The sickly sweet, acrid smell that seared her throat was so strong she could actually taste it. When it donned on her that it was the smell of burning flesh, she fell to her knees and soiled the pristine snow as her body violently emptied the meager contents of her stomach.
At that moment, she couldn’t remember a prayer, so she wept instead.
The dog’s growling was barely heard above the girl’s sobbing, but was loud enough to cease her tears.
Rising from the basin with the black smoke and red-orange flame was a man. She stood as she watched him stumble, fall, and struggle to his feet, only to fall again.
Blood poured from beneath his hair to fall across his swollen face like a cascade. The purple bruising around his right eye had caused it to close; his left eye stared at nothing.
The threads of his charred pants billowed in the winter breeze, exposing muscle and bone from the rip in flesh above his right knee. Second and third degree burns covered his skin and a book was clutched within his blistering arms.
How was it, she asked herself, that this man would be able to walk away from a train wreck?
When he was mere feet from Khrystle, he collapsed. She ran to him. Kneeling, she unzipped her duffle bag, but was distracted as she reached in for her medical kit.
It was a feather, a large black feather from a crow. She looked up in time to watch the black bird land on the power line. Before she had the time to look away, another bird landed.
And then another, and yet another.
In just minutes hundreds of crows were assembled judiciously above her.
Their silence was alarming.
She dragged her attention from the birds to the man who lay injured. That simple act caused her vision to blacken along the edges.
Her question was answered when she saw the book he clutched. The storm that surged across her mind was as forceful and devastating as a category five hurricane, leaving debilitating fear and biting goose bumps in its wake.
And through the dark, he will come to shield the book.
The embossing on the book was written in Aramaic, but she knew what it said anyway.
This is the Book of the First.
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        About the Author:
Lori Titus is the author of Lazarus (September 2010) and Green Water Lullaby: A Collection of Short Stories (March 2011), and Hailey’s Shadow (June 2011).
Lori is also the Managing Editor of Flashes in the Dark, a website that features flash fiction, serials, and author interviews.
Lori splits her time between blogging, and working on several writing and editing projects.
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Title:  The Guardians of Man: Black Feathers Fell in the Foothills of Mt. Empyreal
Author:  Lori Titus, writing as Connor Titus
To Be Published:  May 26th, 2014
Word Count:  approx. 68,000
Genre:  Horror, Dark Fantasy, Apocalyptic
Content Warning:  Adult content and violence
Recommended Age:   17+
In the mountain community of Fate’s Keep, the battle for mankind had begun.
After a geometric storm plunges the world into darkness, destroying electronic communication, light, and power, residents living in the shadow of Mt. Empyreal struggle for survival. Terrified of what is yet to come, they hide in their homes, waiting for the first, overdue snowfall of the year to come.
Along with the snow comes an ancient evil, free after centuries of imprisonment. The birth of a child and the worldwide power outage are only the start of events that have been prophesied.
With time running out, and supernatural enemies surrounding them, will The Guardians of Man be able to save the Earth? 
Excerpt for The Guardians of Man:
And through the dark, he will come to shield the book. Jessica heard the words as if they came to her from some faraway place, but she was very sure of what was being said. Despite the fact that the words were not English, some primal instinct made the words as clear as her mother tongue. In the dream, she was outside in the snow. From a mountain top she looked down and saw the town below. Part was lost in smoke and ashes. She could make out movement in the streets. Black crows rose in the air, unfettered by the acid snow that fell upon them.
Book Trailer Link:

Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • One lucky winner will receive signed, print copies of both The End is Now and The Guardians of Man.
Giveaway is International.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Complete by Lindy Zart (giveaway, excerpt, guest post)

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Title:   Complete
Series:  Incomplete #2
Author:  Lindy Zart
Published:  March 15th, 2014
Word Count:  82,500
Genre:  New Adult Romance
Recommended Age:  16+
Synopsis: If the truth sets one free, why does Lily Jacobs feel so trapped?
She’s learned doing the right thing isn’t always best and now she is living the consequences of her greatest sacrifice. Every day since Grayson Lee left is one she wishes he hadn’t. Years have gone by since their friendship turned to more and then was eradicated by Lily alone; enough time for their young love to fade. Only it hasn’t, not for Lily.
Now he is back and seeing him is devastating to her at the same time it is rapture. She tries to accept that they cannot be together, but everything inside her shouts that they should be; that they only fit with each other. And so she has to accept the greatest truth of all: She loves him still. She loves him enough not to let him go this time.
Excerpt from Complete by Lindy Zart:
I sit down and hazard a glance at him. “Sorry about my mom.” He laughs. “Your mom is amazing.” “She’s pushy.” “She means well.” “I doubt you want to be doing such trivial things as mowing lawns while you’re here.” He shrugs, taking a drink of his tea. “I don’t mind. It’s kind of nice to do manual labor for a change.” “What do you normally do for manual labor? File your nails? Maybe flex your biceps for photo shoots?” “Ouch. You just demoralized my manhood. It may never recover.” A smile takes over my mouth. “I’m sure one simpering look from a female and it will be restored.” “Depends on the girl.” “Oh, I doubt that.” A snort is his only response.

What is New Adult? by Lindy Hart

New Adult is a step up from Young Adult as far as maturity goes. The issues they face are a little more geared toward adulthood than maybe books in the Young Adult genre, and there is more intimacy, more graphic romance scenes. The characters are past teenage years, but sort of hovering on the brink of adulthood. If you like stories about younger adults, usually within the ages of 18 – 22, then this would be a category you would like.

They deal with issues affecting post-teens in realistic ways, sometimes while going to college, or as they are trying to figure themselves out, and whether or not they even want to go to college. Romance is usually involved, but then that's in a lot of books, right? These books are generally angst-ridden and dramatic, because, well, 18 – 22 year olds are certainly emotional. I remember what I was like at that age. The world was going to end if something happened or something didn't happen. Everything was very significant, exceptional. Making friends, losing friends, dealing with betrayal and sacrifice, finding the person you really are instead of the person you thought you were—these books have it all.

I like reading these books because when you're at that age, the world is new and bright and full of endless possibilities. You're just starting out. You can do anything you want to do. You are free. You're finding yourself, honing yourself into the person you ultimately will be, and everything is yours to have. You just have to go after it. To me, they are about hope. They are about me and every single other person in this world. They are everything I ever thought or felt when I was at that age and I can relate to them on an intimate level because I know what the characters are going through because I went through it myself. I think that's why I enjoy writing in this genre so much too. It's like a flashback to my younger years.

Remember the sick, giddy feeling you felt when you knew you were in love for the first time? Your heart would pound and your stomach would flip-flop, and even though you thought you were going to hurl, it was the best feeling ever. How you couldn't stand the thought of being away from them. The hours between seeing them again were torture. How you would daydream about their smile and write your name with their last name and think of all the children you would one day have. I mean, come on, you were only dating for a week or two, but time didn't matter when it was real. Or so you thought. And then it all came crashing down, as so many pieces of impermanent perfection do. But that's life, right?

I remember what it was like to find myself, to have that first love that trumped all the previous semblances of love, the first time my heart was broken, and how I grew up because of it and moved on, knowing a little more about myself than I had known before I went through the pain of it all. Losing a little bit of myself as well. You have to hurt to heal and you have to learn from being hurt and making mistakes, and ultimately, grow up because of it all. Life is joy and heartbreak, pain and loss, love and hope, second chances and first risks. New Adult books grab all of those things and put them into the pages for you to sink into. I highly recommend them, in a totally unbiased way. 
Lindy Zart photo LindyZart.jpgAbout the Author:
Lindy Zart has been writing since she was a child. Luckily for readers, her writing has improved since then. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, two sons, and one cat. Lindy loves hearing from people who enjoy her work.
Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • 5 PDF copies of Complete
Giveaway is International.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

JUST RELEASED - Taming Alex, from NY Times Bestselling Author Jill Sanders, only 99¢ until 4/16!

Alexis has always been the wild child. She’s the girl everyone always gossips about behind her back. Now that she’s engaged to the town’s bad boy, Travis, she finally thinks she’s heading in the right direction. Then life throws a tall, dark, and good man her way and causes her whole world to shake.

Grant’s back in town. Helping his father with his legal practice had never been in his plan, but after trying to live in the city and decided it wasn’t for him, he wants nothing more than to settle down back in his hometown. He even buys a small farm to prove to himself that he’s back to stay. Then, after stepping in and helping the town’s bad girl out one night, he starts to see below Alexis’ act. Now all he needs to do is convince her that choosing a good guy is not always a bad thing.

If you have enjoyed any of Jill's books, please leave a review at Amazon, B&N, or Apple. Thanks!
Jill Sanders, NY Times Bestselling Romance Author

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I can't handle #Scandal

I'm not alone in finding Scandal unwatchable these days. For me, the first twitches came with Mellie. They can't get this woman's backstory straight. In the first season, she started out by being gracious and even throwing Olivia at Fitz so he could get his act together. By the end of the season we discovered that she not only knew about the affair with Amanda Tanner (remember her?) but also the affair between Olivia and Fitz and had, basically, accepted it.

In the second season she and Fitz are pregnant with a baby of convenience and she's zinging bitter, passive aggressive, jealous barbs at Olivia and starts to refer to her as Fitz's whore. Er, I guess she didn't think Olivia was useful anymore...?

After Fitz finds out how complicit everyone was in fixing his election and kills a Supreme Court Justice to keep it quiet (or whatever), he reconciles with Mellie (because he's so pissed at Olivia) and when we flash forward nine months he's drinking scotch in the shower while reluctantly being serviced by Mellie. Of course he goes back to Olivia after she starts sleeping with someone else, and Mellie is Bitter Barb again until Olivia breaks if off with Fitz and he pretends to reconcile with her.

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Mellie calls Olivia a whore again, yada yada yada, and then we see in a flashback that she was raped by Fitz's disgusting, lecherous father Jerry and that he might have impregnated her. She doesn't say anything because she realizes how much Fitz wants to be governor and Jerry can be very useful. Then we find out that she became frigid (for Fitz, at least), tried to kill herself because she was so miserable AND then began an affair with his Lieutenant Governor. And when Fitz finds out about the affair we discover that it was Mellie's frigidity that began the rift in their marriage, which led to his affair with Olivia.

Um, what? Sorry, when was their second child conceived if Mellie couldn't stand to have Fitz touch her? And if she was so averse to Fitz, why was she propositioning him in the shower? But more importantly, when did she decide she didn't want Fitz sleeping around?


That's just the most glaring example of why this show doesn't make any sense for me anymore. The breakneck pace has verged into ridiculous plot territory, and I don't really care about any of the people who are supposed to be the good guys. For the entire series, the two best scenes have been between Olivia and Abby. They were small scenes, but they were reminders that Olivia was a real person who was a good friend who took care of people. Abby is her confidante who humanizes her. But then there's Huck, her confidante who shows just how completely messed up she is. But at least Olivia has confidantes; a character like Quinn only has (extremely messed up) love interests, like her former mentor Huck who got off on torturing and Charlie, the clear-headed sociopath. Honestly, I don't care which one of them she sleeps with.

Do I need to go on about why Fitz is so weak I'd rather see Olivia with Jake? And yes, I know Jake is a murderer and almost strangled Olivia. That's how much I loathe Fitz.

Basically, we've gotten to the point where I'm rooting for Olivia's beyond-crazy parents to blow everyone else up. Let me know when that happens, okay?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Habibi by Craig Thompson (Dystopian graphic novel)

The center of this beautiful book is the love story between Dodola, an Arab slave girl/courtesan and Cham/Zam, an African slave boy. "Love" begins as caretaker and charge and becomes one between partners- but not without a lot of sacrifice and heartache.

These are my observations of what worked for me and what didn't:

-The relationship- and much of the imagery- is reminiscent of the Mother Goddess and her eternal son/lover.

-Dodola, older than Zam by nine years, is taught at an early age that her body is a commodity, and she learns quickly to separate her soul from her body. Even before she is sold into marriage at the age of nine, her parents use her as a fill in for a fertility/water goddess. In this story, her body- and women's bodies- symbolizes not only the trampled earth but the majority of its people who can't enjoy the earth or what it produces.

-When the story begins, we think we're seeing an alternate take on Medieval Middle Eastern history. It is very quickly apparent that this story is actually set in a dystopian future in which many people have been thrown back to a period in which basic human rights are once again up for grabs. (If the observation is that this isn't different from what many live through now, I believe that is part of the author's point.) Toward the end of the story we learn that there are many who live a "civilized" existence...but how civilized can it be when it's in such close proximity to those who literally live in garbage?

-As others have noted, "industry" hangs over this dystopia, as does "apocalypse", but it ends on a hopeful note in which there remain oases that our heroes can take advantage of...or can they?

-The artist is willing to show graphic, adult long as they involve women's bodies. Dodola is unclothed and graphically exposed for more than half of the book. There are also multiple- innumerable?- renderings of the bodies of women in the sultan's harem and even women serving as wetnurses. I don't object because this is a story with mature themes, but there are very few comparable renderings of men's bodies. Generously, one might think that this highlights the dignity men are afforded in this world, but 300 pages in, the disparity feels exploitative.

-By the end of the book, Dodola and Zam have earned happiness and a family. To the extent that the love story is a parable for the fate of the larger world, it ends on the hopeful note that love can redeem those who open themselves to it and in a way that is wide open to the dangers that surround them. It's enjoyable to imagine how they might be able to help redeem the world at large.

Recommended with caveats for fans of dystopian graphic novels.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

At long last and finally...The China Doll is live! (Book Three of The New Pioneers)

The China Doll
By Deborah Nam-Krane
Genre: Mystery/suspense

Hypocrisy, half truths and lies... 
Sick of being treated like she's going to break, Jessie Bartolome is back to her old ways and calling everyone on their hypocrisy. Sheesh! One little breakdown and even easygoing Martin Shepard thinks she's too fragile to handle their age difference. Good thing her older and equally yummy teaching assistant Robert Lester thinks otherwise…right? 
After spending so long cleaning up after everyone else, Jessie's cousin Richard has never had the time to start a life of his own. However had he managed to find his girlfriend Zainab? So what is Richard going to do now that everyone else has grown up? Marry Zainab and start a family? Things have never been that easy for a Hendrickson…just ask his cousin Michael.
Richard's mother, Lucy, is one of the most powerful women in Boston... so when is she going to put a stop to the blackmail ruthless Alex Sheldon has been holding over her for years? And if Richard knows more than he's letting on, why hasn't he gone after Alex himself? The question is, how much does he- or anyone else- really know? 
Welcome to the Bartolome/Hendrickson family. 
The China Doll is Book Three in The New Pioneers Series

“My dad drowned. My mom died in her sleep.”
“How old was she?”
“About twenty-six.” Jessie shuddered just a little bit. “Just a little older than Miranda is now.”
“That’s awfully young to die in your sleep.”
“Heart condition, they said.”
“Who’s they?”
“Richard and Lucy.” Jessie shook her head. “No. Just Richard.”
“What did your aunt say?”
“Nothing,” Jessie said quietly. “She just let Richard do all the talking.”
“How old was he?”
Jessie sighed. “Thirteen, I think.”
“And how old were you?”
“So how do you know you remember it correctly?”
Jessie looked at him square in the eye. “Because you know when you’re that age. When you’re a little kid, you don’t have to go through the apologetic BS you do when you’re older. When you’re eight, even. You just get it. And people think you’re crazy or in the way or rude because you get it and then you say it. So then no one wants to talk to you or they send you to your room. Then you start making up excuses for why they must be right and you must be wrong. Then you grow up, and you realize that you had it right back then, and if your world seems messed up, it’s because you bought into someone else’s lies. So don’t lie anymore, and everything will be just fine.”
“And when did you come to that nugget of wisdom?”
“When I was fifteen,” Jessie said quietly. “And I’ve been very happy ever since.”

The Smartest Girl in the Room
Genre: Coming of Age

Nineteen year old Emily wants her college diploma fast, and she's going to get it. But when the perfect night with perfect Mitch leads her to a broken heart, Emily is blind to her vulnerability. When the person she cares about the most is hurt as a result, Emily's ambition gives way to more than a little ruthlessness. She's going to use her smarts to take care of herself and protect the people she loves, and everyone else had better stay out of her way. But shouldn't the smartest girl everyone knows realize that the ones she'd cross the line for would do the same for her?

The Family You Choose
Genre: Family Saga

Miranda Harel has been in love with her guardian Alex Sheldon since she was five years old, and Michael Abbot has despised them both for just as long. When Miranda finds out why she wants both men out of her life for good and questions everything she believed about where and who she came from. Finding out the truth will break her heart. Without family or true love, will her friends be enough to bring her back?

An Engagement: A New Pioneers Short Story
Genre: Family Saga

Annabelle Hendrickson always knew Alex Sheldon couldn't be trusted, but even she couldn't have guessed how far he was willing to go to get what he wanted. 

No one was as decent as her brother Jim, but Stephen Abbot had a kind soul behind his mischief. She could accept his reprobate father- he'd be dead soon anyway- but she would never accept his longtime friendship with Alex, her father Gerald's ambitious employee. Annabelle knew it was just a matter of time before he stepped on someone she cared about. 

What a pity she didn't realize who that person would be- and who was going to give him the opportunity. 

An Engagement is Book 2.5 in The New Pioneers series. What happened to Michael Abbot and Richard Hendrickson's parents in 1980 is going to affect everyone three decades later.



Deborah Nam-Krane is a writer living in Boston proper who has been storytelling since she was a little girl and writing those stories down since she was eight. Any given day will find her reading, writing, reviewing, editing and, just for fun, homeschooling her three school-aged children (she’s very grateful the fourth is now college-aged).
The China Doll is the third installment of the New Pioneers series, the sequel to The Smartest Girl in the Room (March 2013) and The Family You Choose (September 2013). While her long-suffering editor works her magic on the fourth installment Let’s Move On, Deborah is working on the fifth. That book will be set in the world of Boston and Massachusetts politics, and her job will be to tone down the true stories she’s heard so they seem believable.
Deborah is all over the place on the internet- no, really- but the best way to keep in touch is to follow her blog Written By Deb and subscribe to her newsletter (only publishing news, never spam).

A big, huge thanks to Danielle-Claude Ngontang Mba for making this happen!
$10 Amazon gift card
5 copies of both The Smartest Girl in the Room and The Family You Choose