Book Review: The Locksmith, by Barbara Howe

Reviewed this for Booksellers NZ – Reposting my review from their site…

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_the_locksmithWho is the Locksmith, and what role does he play in this fantasy tale? You will keep this question in mind as you read through the adventures of Lucinda Guillierre, a young girl living with her stepsister Claire and her stepmother, in the magical world of Frankland, ruled by The Office.

The Office was created in historic times by the Great Coven, which established the four offices of Air, Fire, Earth, and Water, and their leaders. Each Office has a Guild, for the study and training of Witches and Wizards of each element.

Unsettled by her lack of magical progress, she resigns herself to a future as a normal person, but agrees to take her sister Claire to challenge the path to meet the Fire Warlock, to have a wish granted. She takes with her, her only true possessions her father left her —two large books…

View original post 226 more words

Interviewing Andrea Stanet

2017-03-13 to 17_Umbra's ShadowAndrea has released her romance novel,
Umbra’s Shadow, this week.

 

Andrea Stanet

 

 

 

 

I interviewed Andrea about her writing process, and themes within the novel.

As you were writing this work, did you have a planned outline of the plot? Or did you write “free-flow”?

How Umbra’s Shadow came together is a very different way than I normally work. Originally, it was a 20,000-word novella, and when I wrote that core of the story, it mainly flowed very easily. I had submitted it to one publisher who accepted shorter works, and they requested more, as in extend and resubmit.

The planning part came in once I had to figure out what else was going on in this world and how Merc fit into it. I’m not typically a fan of elaborate plans because by the time I finish outlining, I’ve spent most of my writing energy. I get bored. Plus, I hate being boxed into a specific path, and prefer having the flexibility to let the story go where it wants to (within reason). The stories I have tried to plan either never get completed or the first draft gets shelved.

There’s always some level of planning, and I do have a rough idea of the major events that need to happen in this trilogy. But I won’t work out the specifics until I sit down to develop each segment.

What parts of your hometown of New York can readers recognize in Umbra’s Shadow?

The two settings in the story most influenced by my “hometown” knowledge are Poughkeepsie and Manhattan. I spent most of my life in NYC, so the story version of New York is a composite of different parts of the city rolled into one area.

For the past 10 years, I’ve lived in the Hudson Valley, a bit outside of Poughkeepsie. Again, I wanted to give a feel for the place, but it’s not a direct sketch of the city by any means.
At times, the two—NYC and Poughkeepsie—merge slightly in the story in order to give Poughkeepsie a rougher edge.

You’re planning two more books to follow Umbra’s Shadow as a trilogy…any hints of what is to come?

That’s tough without giving anything away from this book, but a couple of major questions have much deeper answers than anything revealed at this point. First, who is Merc and where is she from? More of her origin will come to light in the next instalment.

Also, the Courts have a pretty nasty enemy, and that will be revealed in the next book. Characters I think will return (it’s only in a very raw draft form now) include Paris, the Winter Queen, and possibly Dúl’s mother.

What is your favourite place to write? Please describe it for us.

I usually camp out on my couch, especially in the winter. It’s right next to our pellet stove, which is similar to a wood-burning stove except that it uses a fan to blow hot air into the room. During the winter, I always want to be as close to the fire as I can get without melting my laptop. I’ve set up one of our gaming tables as a long, makeshift ‘desk.’

Even in the summer, when there’s no fire going, I just like the sofa because it’s super squashy and comfortable (it’s also where I nap before bed). Once in a while, I’ll forego the laptop and write by hand. I’m more likely to do that during the warm-weather months. Then I might take one of my five-million notebooks and do some writing down by the lake near our development, out in the blazing sun.

There seems to be a theme developing here…

What authors you have read who have defined your own style?

Kelly Armstrong has had a big impact on me because I love her characters. She writes very strong female protagonists who feel like fully realized human beings and not perfect at everything. She also has great pacing and plotting. Armstrong is one of the few authors whose work I can read repeatedly.

Tamora Pierce is another fantasy author whose female characters always stick with me.
I love Stephen King for his intricate plots, and of course, the creepiness of his work, so when I’m trying to set a dark and frightening atmosphere, I think of his work.

There’s an African author by the name of Lesley Nneka Arimah, and I love the subtle way she reveals back-story. I’ll definitely keep her techniques in mind when I start on the sequel to Umbra’s Shadow.


{That sequel… I’m looking forward to it!}

Andrea Stanet is featured at her publisher
Roane Black on White

Buy your Kindle copy of Umbra’s Shadow now…

Amazon Logo--click to buy

“Poisonous Whispers”, by Jana Begovich

 

 

Released on December 5th, this is Ms. Begovic’s 2016-12-5-to-8_poisonous-whispers
début novel – a romance, but much more.
Written in a literary style, it is a saga of discovery
of true love.

In brief:
       “Don’t you ever forget about me…,” he whispers during their secret encounters. Like a curse, these simple words now haunt Leandra, a reputable psychiatrist, who finds herself in emotional chaos after the sudden breakup of her illicit affair. Unable to heal on her own and tormented by dreams in which supernatural forces create havoc with her fate, she desperately turns to David, a colleague psychiatrist, asking him to take her through past-life regression therapy. She hopes that this unorthodox and somewhat suspect technique will explain her profound connection to the lover who has abandoned her so abruptly.

The sessions take Leandra through 17th and 19th century Ireland, Italy and England, where love, loss and betrayal are the leitmotifs in an ambiance of co-mingled fantasy and reality. In her hypnotic state, Leandra recounts a saga of intoxicating love, dizzying passion, flaming lust and profound heartbreak. Despite the painful answers she finds under hypnosis, Leandra still cannot let go of the hope to reunite with her lover. Ultimately, the shattering revelations from her past-life incarnations, along with the turmoil over her ruined marriage, become the stepping stones of her introspective path to healing, self-discovery and an appreciation of true love.

With its seamlessly interwoven sub-plots, “Poisonous Whispers” lures the reader from one continent to another, from past to present. The affair at the center of the story is an anatomy of the heart in which the heroine’s sorrow-laced journey reflects the universal themes of love and loss.

The author:
jana-portrait       As far back as Jana can remember, she has been fascinated by storytelling and intoxicated with the written word. As a young child, she began spinning stories, talking to an imaginary friend and devouring fairy tales. As a teenager, she wrote maudlin love poetry; and as a young mother, a collection of fables. Her love of reading and writing drove her to study languages and literature, resulting in B.A. degrees in English and German Languages and Literature, an M.A. Degree in Literary Studies, as well as a B.Ed. Degree in English and Dramatic Arts.
She works for the Government of Canada in the field of military language training and testing and her work, as a subject matter expert, has taken her all over the world. She was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina but has lived in Canada since 1991, currently
in Ottawa, Ontario with her husband.
As of the time of this posting, she is working on her second novel, as well as a collection of short stories.

An excerpt:
       A tiny streak of pale light is cascading softly down the cell window and making a shy sliver in the veil of darkness. I open my eyes, disoriented. I do not move; I do not even dare blink until I get my bearings. Then I remember and freeze in horror. I sit up, an aching all over my body and cold dread in my heart. Instinctively, I try to disentangle my matted hair with my fingers, but it is hopeless. All around me, I smell mold, decay and death. How can I survive another day in this hole? The sound of the door opening with a screech makes me jump in terror.

The gaoler walks in; a heavy set of keys dangling and jingling in his hand.

“Come. You are being moved in preparation for tonight’s execution. A verdict was reached.”

I speak not but follow him. We climb a steep staircase. Below us, I hear moans and yells and what sounds like the death throes of those hopelessly lost to the world and forgotten by justice, compassion and mercy. Again, I am feeling dissociated from the event of my calamity; I see my body walking, but my soul is not in it and indifference over what might happen floods me. Death is not the end. Death offers me salvation from pain, from the torment of living a human life.

We leave the jailhouse and enter the house across the street to the village inn. The inn owner, James Bourke, looks at me with hatred and disdain. He also always hated my husband because his wife had hoped my husband would marry her. She was in love with him, and when he married me she tried to kill herself. James married her later, but has always known that she never stopped loving my husband.

The gaoler takes me upstairs to one of the guest rooms and locks the door behind me. The room is wide and clean even though sparsely furnished. The bed is large and looks inviting and I realize how exhausted I am. On the bed is a white, thin chemise and I immediately understand this is what I will wear tonight when I am pushed off the bridge into the water that is cool even on the hottest of summer days. Will I have the strength or the will to swim and save myself? What surprises and almost delights me under such grave circumstances is a bathtub in the corner of the room. There is steam rising from it and I immediately undress and slip into it, relieved to be able to wash off the dirt, the grime, and above all the horrible stench on my body. I rub myself raw trying to clean my skin. Washing my hair is more difficult because at home I have servants who help me with bathing, dressing and undressing. I have been spoilt by marrying a man of wealth and power. Where is my husband now? I crave his protection. If he saved me now, would I give up Kieran, would I give up love in order to live? I surmise I would.

Available at:
Roane Black on White

Print editions at…

Amazon Logo--click to buy CreatSpace link barnes-and-noble-logo

 

Digital editions at…

Amazon Logo--click to buy barnes-and-noble-logokobologo

goodreads_icon

Cover Reveal: “Umbra’s Shadow”

umbras-shadow-coverGot a problem that needs a kick-ass mercenary to fix it? Merc’s your shapeshifter.
It’s been open season on changelings—human/faery hybrids—until word gets around: someone’s got their backs.
Merc relies on her unique shapeshifting talents to defend the poor and disenfranchised hybrids living on the fringes of a modern-day Hudson valley city. Perhaps her past spurs her to help—orphaned, unable to remember her parents or her original form, forced to survive alone until a kindly Changeling couple takes her in.
But Merc also dreams of escaping the poverty and rescuing her boyfriend from the environment that feeds his addictions.

Dúl, a mysterious and seductive full-blooded  fey, seems to offer Merc the way out. But the job he proposes will plunge her into the political wasp nest of the Dreaming World and its fey courts. Dúl hires her to rescue the female lieutenant of the Shadow Court’s king.
But Morgan isn’t the only full-blood that’s disappeared. Nothing is what it seems. A hidden player is capitalizing on the animosities within the four courts, and Merc must solve the puzzle before anyone else falls victim. Her investigation exposes the web of betrayals and lies ambushing the courts from without, or maybe from within.

No one could defeat this conspiracy alone. Merc must suppress her solitary nature and learn to work with a team, while Dúl enters into a bitter alliance with his most hated enemy. Amid this treachery, the magnetic attraction between Merc and Dúl deepens into a forbidden bond they are powerless to deny.

Even if she unravels the chaos plaguing the Dreaming, can she handle the truth about the full-blood she’s fallen for?


Umbra’s Shadow,
a Contemporary Fantasy by Andrea Stanet
Roane Black on White

Release Date: March 13, 2017

Keywords: Contemporary, Paranormal, Fantasy, Shapeshifter, Mercenary

Cover Reveal: Poisonous Whispers

2016-12-5-to-8_poisonous-whispers

Poisonous Whispers is a romance fantasy, and Jana Begovic’s debut novel.

Due for release December 5th,  the cover designer is Bill Oliver *.

This is more than a story…it is a saga of past lives, betrayal, destiny, and passion…

“Don’t you ever forget about me…,” echoes the karmic whisper from lives past, poisoning her peace. 

Like a curse, these simple words now haunt Leandra, a reputable psychiatrist, who finds herself in emotional chaos after the sudden breakup of her illicit affair.

Through past-life regression therapy she hopes this unorthodox and somewhat suspect technique will explain her profound connection to the lover who has abandoned her so abruptly. The sessions take Leandra through 17th and 19th century Ireland, Italy and England, where love, loss and betrayal are the leitmotifs in an ambiance of co-mingled fantasy and reality.

Ultimately, the shattering revelations from her past-life incarnations, along with the turmoil over her ruined marriage, become the stepping stones of her introspective path to healing, self-discovery and an appreciation of true love.

With its seamlessly interwoven sub-plots, Poisonous Whispers lures the reader from one continent to another, from past to present. The affair at the center of the story is an anatomy of the heart, in which the heroine’s sorrow-laced journey reflects the universal themes of love and loss.


About Jana Begovic

Jana Vasilj-Begovic was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina where she lived until 1991. In 1991, she immigrated to Canada, and after graduating from the Faculty of Education, Queens’ University, Kingston, she began to work for the Government of Canada in the field of foreign language education and training. As a subject matter expert in language training and testing, she has participated in multiple international conferences and projects, and designed and delivered numerous specialized seminars and workshops.
As the result of a multinational research project she led, she co-authored an article that was published in 2015 by Cambridge Scholars as a chapter of the book, “Language in Uniform”.
In addition to a B.Ed. degree in English and Dramatic Arts, she holds an M.A. Degree in Philology, as well as B.A. degrees in English and German Languages and Literature.

Her debut novel, “Poisonous Whispers” is the reflection of her love for the written word and her lifelong fascination with storytelling. She is currently working on her second novel. She lives in Ottawa, Canada with her husband.


  • contact Red for his email address IF you want to hire him.

The Seer’s Wolf, by Barbara PETRIE

The Seer’s WolfThe Seers Wolf x PETRIE
by Barbara Petrie

Wow. I’ve never read a young adult book quite like this, but I’m sure there will be readers out there itching for a book which combines human foibles with fantasy.
    The Seer’s Wolf follows two families in a rural Canterbury (NZ) community: the Fairnies, well established as farmers – practical, down-to-earth, sensitive – and the Randals, recent arrivals just emigrated from England, who bring a curious lifestyle to the community, keeping to themselves.  
    Clover Fairnie, the seer of the title, keeps a journal of visions, events and imaginings, and begins noticing more and more of the strange ways of the Randals, her mother, and the young cattle drover. She notices the closeness between Ralph Randal and his eighteen year old daughter Satina, whom he calls Arkie.
    Winding through the simple tale are threads of home-made herbal remedies, magic mushrooms, frustrated yearnings, the mauling of stock, floods and rescues, and shocking disasters. The quick ‘tidy-up’ of the ending seemed to leave something vaguely unresolved, but a thorough reading and retracing characters dismisses that.  
    At the beginning I found Clover’s journal read like something from Enid Blyton, but the author gets a grip on Clover’s voice, her visions come under the author’s control and are more believable.
    Ms Petrie’s ‘Note To The Reader’ is almost a spoiler, coming before the Table of Contents. So skip it – go straight to page 11, the first page of the story itself. 


Title: The Seer’s Wolf
Author: Barbara Petrie
Publisher: Bridgidada Press
ISBN: 978-0-473-318154 paperback
Available:
as either a pbk or e-book through the publisher’s website: www.bridgidada.nz;
or from Scorpio Books, Christchurch; PaperPlus, Rangiora; Take Note Kaiapoi; and bookshops New Zealand-wide by request. 

Reviewing ‘Soul of Dust’ by Adam Millard

MILLARD_Soul of Dust
So Jack Bridge tells us, as he pauses a moment in a tearing race after a daemon in the opening chapters of this paranormal, magical, fantasy cum horror story; a great mash-up of genres–which, dammit, works.

Jack tells his story as if we are his companion, well used to his mannerisms and vocabulary (occasionally R13 rated). The conversational, sardonic at times tone makes this book pleasantly readable–even through scenes which are not, exactly, pleasant.

I loved it! Millard’s writing turns Jack into a real person – though he’s not,  with real purpose – as he has: to rid the world of daemons, spooks, sidhes, vamps, wolves… He works alone, from a shabby office, and carries only one ‘weapon’–and an effective one at that, and enjoys using it:

“At times … I really enjoy my job.”

This is an “eyes-wide” and at times a “laugh-out-loud” read…well suited to fans of Urban Fantasy, the Paranormal, Sleuthing, Investigators, Wizards, Demons, or Magic.

“…shooting me a smile that could melt hearts. Not mine, though. Mine was made of stone, my soul nothing more than dust. Maybe one day that would change, but not today.”

Reviewed for
Roane Black on White

ISBN:  1519691815
ISBN13: 9781519691811


Amazon Logo--click to buy

 

VIVIENNES BLOG, by NZ author Stephen LEATON (release mid-January ’15)

eb83c-vivienneVIVIENNE’S  BLOG

Author Stephen K. LEATON
It was a lot easier to read and enjoy Vivienne’s Blog than it has been to write this review. Not wanting to sell it short, I actually spent time refining my understanding of the genres mentioned among the publisher’s material: thriller, chilling suspense, fantastical, psychological thriller, or mystery.
The book’s designer has helped us readers by using alternate fonts, to show Vivienne’s internal thoughts as distinct from her blog entries, or her letters to her ex-husband, to whom her blog is directed.
One of the fascinations is – what is she remembering as real, and what is a fantasy, a psychotic memory, a deranged version of history and truth? As she seeks to both preserve her “Faerie” bloodline and to “punish” her ex-husband and his second wife, we are swept into the maelstrom of her mind – and the suspense is very, very real. Is the baby safe with her? Will she be captured before any danger comes to her or the child?
She is not unintelligent – she reads body language expertly. She plans. She is never taken by surprise, but can make mistakes. At times expressing herself lucidly, yet at times rambling and erratic, we are “in the air” – puzzled as we wonder – what is real and what is Vivienne’s reality?
And as the story and her life ends – Leaton drops us a chilling bombshell.
(Move along…no spoilers here)

Publisher: EUNOIA Publishing Ltd

Date Available: 2015 (mid-January)
ISBN: 978-0-9941047-9-3 Paperback, perfect bound
ISBN: 978-0-9941047-1-7 Leather cover, stitched, ribbon tied, illustrated.
Also will be available in Kindle.
 0afaa-booksellers-logo-001
R.R.P $NZ 34.99 p’back; $NZ 45.00 deluxe edition;
RRPs will vary according to medium, sales channel and purchasing nation.
Has this review helped you decide to purchase? Then please give it a Rating
You can also Share it on the online channel of your choice.
To comment if you are the first: click on the “No comments” hot spot, and the comment window will open. Tell us all about what You thought of the book as a read, or of Leaton as a writer in this novel.
Thank you and have a Happy New Year
– Lynne. –

DREAMTIME – pt 1 of Guardians of the Shimmer by Garth LAWLESS


From the moment I realized the fantasy is set in New Zealand, is well written, and its antagonists are a family of parents and teenagers, I knew the author is on a winner.
His descriptive passages are vivid; we See the green bush, the space between the shimmer curtain, the safe haven, the dream worlds … in efficient writing which drew me on, reading until ungodly hours of the morning. 
His characterization is realistic. 13 year old Cole and sister 17 year old Lily are astonished to discover their parents are part of a fantastic “other world” in parallel to ours. In Gap-Space – between the Shimmer and Dream-Time – they quickly become enmeshed in the world of the Guardians, acquiring skills and powers to help the Guardians keep back the VELI, who are able to absorb innocents, change them to Veli, use them. 
Cole and Lucy become part of the Guardians’ quest to discover and return keys to the Shelter, and find they can move to other Shelters around the world. The chase and fight scenes are full of action, described in a way that will appeal to the young adult or adolescent reader. Finishing with an unresolved dilemma, Lawless leaves us demanding “where’s the next in the series?”
Intended for the ten to thirteen year old boy, it is proving popular with older age groups and with girls and women as well. Heck, I’m sixty-two and I want to read the sequel!
Dreamtime“, part one of the series Guardians of the Shimmer
Author: Garth Lawless
Illustrator: Joyce van der Lely
Publisher: OceanBooks,
PO Box 4075, Mount Maunganui South, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand 3149
ISBN: 978-1-937215-38-8 (paperback)
          978-1-937215-39-5 ( ePub)
          978-1-937215-40-1 (Mobi)
Available from …
·        Oceanbooks: http://www.oceanbooks.co.nz/shimmer.html

Do Comment about this entry or about the author, or the book. If you have read the book itself, then Rate the Book (not this post, please). Thank you

Talia JAGER: The ULTIMATE SACRIFICE

  • Book suitable for an older child.
The Ultimate Sacrifice: Book one of the Gifted Teens series by Talia Jager,
(c) 2011 (Kindle version, ISBM 978-09836164-3-6 e-Book)

On first appearances it’s aimed towards the 11 to 16 year old (teen) female market.
  • Stats:  subject matter, language use, …
    Subject matter: Fantasy fiction – Children of teen age are living in closed community schools, having in common they each have a strange, futuristic or magical power. They are “Gifted Teens” – Compellors, Predictors, Mind Readers, Animal Commmunicators, Lie Detectosr, Telekinetics, Dreamers …
  • Most significant characters are female teens, or young adults; male teens form a “supporting cast” for the two heroines – Kassia, able when enraged to inflict great pain, unknown limit; her friend Mira who is the only person immune to Kassia’s rage.
    There are other characters :  Vala (a female shaman) and a Ramsay Battar (whose “expertise” or power is never made clear); Noe (gifted teen – a predictor); Auralee (gifted teen – a mind-reader), Daxton (a dreamer and Kassia’ love interest), Zane  (an animal communicator and Mira’ love interest).                
    • And then the “baddies”: demons, swarms of them, under the control of chief demon Kern.
  • Plot Line: Early in the plot, Mira, alone in the city, is subjected to rape. Kassia races to the aid, and unleashes such rage at the perpetrators that she kills them; from that moment, she becomes of interest to Kern, who envisages turning her to join him and his demons in overtaking the world.
    The plot proceeds with the six friends being sent away from their community school to try and keep the demons away from the other gifted teens. After a number of demon attacks, over which Kassia’s rage power increases, frightening the other friends.
    Kassia realises that the only way to protect her friends from a massive demon attack is to kill herself, and persuades Zane to promise that should she become a danger to the friends, he is to kill her.
    The friends meet Vala who gives them each a special “faerie  dagger”, embellished with the tattoo each wears to indicate their power. They set up an attack scene, and Kassia is allowed to be captured.

    After meeting  Kern, revolted by his determination to have her join his forces by one method ro another, she stabs herself it the heart with her faerie dagger. His demon servants dump her body, it’s found by the friends and Vala, who sends the friends back to the college, and revives Kassia. Kassia now learns more of her own background, and is trained by Ramsay and Vala to harness and control her power.
    Final scenario has the demons attack both gifted teens schools at once; the children have been preparing for battle, learning arms-manship, martial arts etc. In the middle of the fight, Kassia appears at the college (via a “portal”) and in the battle mix, comes against Kern. By stabbing him three times in the heart with another special sword, she is able to kill him.
    Expected happy ending all around.

  • Specific market elements.
    • Similarities to the twilight (blech) series – male meets female of a different “kind”, and together they fight for a common cause. That’ll appeal to readers whose parents know they’re too young for twilight.
      What doesn’t work: some of the social scenes between the friends (teens, remember) are rather child-like; the presence of demons I can take – readers would love them; the powers of the gifted teens seem straight from a Marvel comic; the presence of “faeries” and Kassia having “angel blood” in her family line – hhmm, are we looking at a very young teen reader?
    • I  did enjoy  reading it – it didn’t take long; Ms Jager’s books seem (so far) to be available as  e-Books only

Do Comment about this entry or about the author, or the book.
If you have read the book itself, then Rate the Book (not this post, please).
Thank you