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Jessica Subject is offering another book giveaway, Awakened by Ednah Walters. Awakened is the first volume in the Guardians series of books. Jessica is offering her autographed reviewer’s copy of the book as well as her swags in this drawing. She also has her review of the book posted and interviews in the posts following this one. Be sure to enter to win at Jessica’s website

Imago Chronicles Book Two: Tales from the West

By L. T. Suzuki

Copyright 2002, L. T. Suzuki, ISBN 978-1553696568

Imago Chronicles Book Two: Tales from the West by L. T. Suzuki continues the story of Nayla Treeborn begun in the first volume, A Warrior’s Tale, which incidentally is optioned for a major motion picture. Tales from the West introduces a palate full of new characters and a new adventure and a new love for Nayla. Will this love be more faithful to her than her first love was? You’ll have to read to see.

Tales from the West is artfully crafted with a scintillating storyline and a constant escalation of tension that will keep you turning the pages. I read this 413 page book in three days. I think I only stopped to grab coffee so I would have the energy to keep reading because I had to know what was going to happen next. Nayla Treeborn is a character near and dear to my heart and I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in the series.

In Tales from the West a great quest is undertaken by seven men, six humans and one elf. Of the males all are warriors save one, an innocent, a boy, the young squire of one of the princes in the party. Together the party is destined to try to protect humans and elves from the coming of a get evil, the dark lord Beyilzon and his mighty army. If they fail, the worlds of elf-kind and humankind will be lost. It is an all or nothing situation.

The young squire is stolen from the party by emissaries of the dark lord and this is where Nayla enters the picture, battling the emissary who has the boy and freeing him. Nayla flees after the battle to pursue her own quest. Due to her stature and her battle skills all are left wondering who the boy or young man who came to their rescue was. Then Nayla comes to their rescue a second time, leading the group to safety after a hazardous turn of events. It is at this junction that the party learns their rescuer is actually a woman, who can not only carry her own weight, but best any man among them. After some consideration part of the party asks Nayla to join them on their expedition. Not everyone likes this idea but after giving it due consideration Nayla, and because of one member of the party in particular and his role in relation to her own people, Nayla decides to join forces with the expedition.

As usual Suzuki, a master at martial arts herself, brings all her knowledge of this art to bear in the fight scenes making them realistic. Her writing skill makes the scenes steal your breath away. At every turn she is the consummate professional drawing into the world of her creation with artful imagery and storytelling.

What follows is a passage from Imago Chronicles Book Two: Tales of the West:

“At the mouth of the Gap where the pass opened up into Darross, Markus and Arerys caught up to Faria. An Expression of utter shock was etched across this knight’s face as he took in the carnage. His mind was reeling, unable to comprehend the magnitude of the devastation that lay before him.

Nicobar, his childhood home, was now but a memory. And against the night sky, King Sebastian’s castle was a stark silhouette, dark and abandoned. The banners bearing the golden dragon, the heraldic symbol of Darross that once flew high and proud over the castle walls were now conspicuously absent.

Faria’s eyes scanned the darkened landscape littered with the dead. Everywhere, there lay body after body. He dismounted from his steed as he gazed at the fallen knights and soldiers before him.

“How can this be?” gasped Faria, shaking his head in disbelief as he swallowed back his mounting rage.

“This would only have happened if the captain was killed at the onset of the battle,” determined Markus. “The ranks collapsed and mayhem ensued.”

“Do not say that!” growled Faria. “The captain is not dead! He cannot be dead!”

Ignoring Markus’ words, Faria frantically raced from corpse to corpse, searching the faces of the knights once in King Sebastian’s service.

“Faria, we must move on,” ordered Arerys. “There is nothing we can do for these men.”

The Elf’s words went unheeded as Faria scrambled from one knight to the next. As he came to a body that lay near the banner bearing the emblem of the golden dragon, Faria fell upon his knees. Many arrows had pierced the knight’s body that lay before him. Arerys and Markus came to Faria’s side.

Carefully, he removed the helmet, gently cradling the dead man’s head in his arms as he trembled, overwrought with sorrow. Faria began to weep for this lost life.

“Who is this fallen knight you grieve for?”questioned Arerys, as he knelt by Faria’s side.

Gazing up at Markus and the Elf, through his tears Faria spoke: “Here, in eternal sleep, lies the protector of the House of Northcutt; trusted servant and loyal knight to King Sebastian.”

“He was the captain?” determined Markus.

“He was my brother, Davenrow Targott,” responded Faria, a sad sigh escaped him as he lay the younger sibling down. “The one I had appointed to captain the army in my absence.”

Tales from the West is full of examples of the personal tragedies and triumphs of a people who have literally set out to save the world. Its tension is finely tuned, its characters skillfully drawn and it storytelling exquisitely set forth. Tales from the West is a prime example of why fantasy and adventure is such a wonderful release for those who, like me, love it.

Please note that with some booksellers this book is listed as the first in the series. To avoid confusion look for the words Tales from the West in the title or search for it by the ISBN number. Currently the book is available only in electronic format for popular reader applications and in a pdf version although a print version will be available in the near future. If you purchase the book in deluxe PDF version through the author’s official website at http://web.me.com/imagobooks it is numbered correctly as the second book in the series.

Montana Mist

by Doug Hiser

copyright 2010 by Doug Hiser, ISBN 9781453777695

You can almost taste the wilderness and the life springing from the pages of Doug Hiser’s new novel, Montana Mist. Set in the town of Rime, Montana the pages are replete with loners, free spirits and those simply looking for a place to lose themselves for awhile.

The scenery in Montana Mist vividly springs to life bringing the mountain town and its surroundings into keen view as you peruse the pages of this piece of modern folklore. Hiser brings not only the people of Rime, but also the wild inhabitants of its nearby mountains to boldly dance across the screen of your mind.

What follows is one of my favorite passages from the book, a tall tale that I suppose could have happened somewhere, at sometime but probably takes place only in our fascinated imaginations. It is the tale of a one-eyed wolf appropriately named Cyclops and a huge bull moose which no wolf in his right mind would normally dare to attack alone:

“Suddenly Cyclops darted in and snapped at the moose’s hind leg. The wolf was fast and quick and he had drawn first blood. The moose grunted and bellowed in rage, snot flung from his large nostrils as he twisted in response to the biting pain in his rear leg. Cyclops rushed in again and the moose was slower. The one-eyed wolf bit the moose in the other hind leg. Throughout the entire engagement Cyclops had been silent but the moose groaned and grunted and snorted in anger. The moose’s shoulders quivered and his mouth opened and closed as oxygen was sucked in. Cyclops had one more trick to play against the big Bull Moose. This is the part where I wish you could have been there…that one-eyed wolf ran around the staggered moose and got behind him again. Cyclops was too quick for that big engine of power. The moose was caught off guard as the one-eyed wolf leapt high and far from behind. That wolf jumped on the moose’s back.”

Jury held up his hands, “Now remember this is a wolf that can climb trees. He jumped on the moose’s back, not like some cougar, but like some weird rodeo cowboy wolf. I heard a tale from Connecticut Sam, an old friend of mine from South Carolina, about a raccoon that rode on a dog’s back like a cowboy. Well this wolf did the same thing, rode on the moose’s back. At first the moose just stood still, breathing hard and tossing his antlers back and forth. Finally realizing there was a wolf sitting on his back the moose started to jump and run. I saw that crazy one-eyed wolf straddling that wild moose and clinging with all four paws and biting a clump of thick hair on the moose’s neck. Cyclops didn’t try to attack the moose. He was just trying to stay on for the ride. That moose jumped and ran all over that clearing trying to dislodge Cyclops. That was the strangest thing you ever saw, a crazy one-eyed wolf riding on a bucking moose.”

Hiser knows how to tell a story and he uses masterful prose to bring his work to life for you to enjoy. I highly recommend Montana Mist, reading it will leave an indelible impression on you.

Kissed by an Angel

By Elizabeth Chandler

Copyright 1995 (all three volumes) by Dennis Weiss Associates and Mary Clair Helldorfer

Produced by Alloy Entertainment, 151 West 26th Street, New York, NY 10001

Published by Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020 $9.99

Kissed by an Angel is a trilogy, bound together, consisting of the novels Kissed by an Angel, The Power of Love and Soulmates.It is aimed at a middle grade and young adult audience. I found Kissed by an Angel to be a fascinating book. It had all the love and gentleness of first love, a murder mystery and tons of suspense.

Kissed by an Angel contains no obscenity or gratuitous sex. It is wholesome, yet thoroughly enjoyable. I felt that Kissed by an Angel provided the best qualities of good reading. There is a wonderful building of tension through each book up to its concluding pages

There is a tendency in the entirety of the complete volume to lose pace at the transition between the books of the trilogy. This is necessary so the reader has the basics of events that led up to the new book. I personally don’t consider any of the books in the trilogy as stand-alone books. I’m also not sure if they were marketed as stand-alone books. Their current marketing of the three books as one bound trilogy works very well.

What follows is a passage from the trilogy, Kissed by an Angel

Will gave her a smile, but it was more with his eyes, which were deep brown, than with his mouth. His lips turned up slightly at just one corner of his mouth.

He was not easy to figure out, thought Ivy.

“O’Leary” said Eric when the owner had passed by, “have you got the hots for Pat, or what?”

“Likes those older women,” Gregory teased. “One at UCLA, one doing Europe instead of college…”

“You’re kidding,” said Suzanne, obviously impressed.

Will glanced up. “We’re friends,” he said, and continued sketching. “And I work next door at the photo lab.”

That was news to Ivy. None of Will’s friends had real jobs.

“Will did that portrait of Pat,” Gregory told the girls.

It was tacked up on the wall, a piece of cheap paper worked over with wax crayons. But it was Pat all right, with her straight, soft hair and hazel eyes and generous mouth – he had found her beauty.

“You’re really good,” said Ivy.

Will’s eyes flicked up and held hers for a second, then he continued his drawing. For the life if her she didn’t know if he was trying to be coo; or if he was just shy,

“You know, Will,” said Beth, “Ivy keeps wondering if you’re really cool or just shy.”

“Beth!” said Ivy. “Where did that come from?”

“Well, haven’t you wondered it? Oh, well, maybe it was Suzanne. Maybe it was me. I don’t know, ‘ivy, my mind’s a muddle. I’ve had a headache since I left your house. I think I need caffeine.”

“Gregory laughed. “That chocolate pizza should do the job.”

“For the record,” Will said to Beth, “I’m not really cool.”

“Give me a break,” Gregory said.

Ivy sat back in her chair and glanced at her watch. Well, it had been eight whole minutes that she had thought about other people. Eight whole minutes without imagining what it would have been like if Tristan had been sitting beside her. That was progress.”

Kissed by an Angel is full of love, heartache, mystery and suspense. It is everything you would want your teenager to read. As an adult I found it extremely entertaining. It had me so caught up in its story that I couldn’t wait to read it each day. I highly recommend it, especially for teens and tweens.

Silent Screams from the Hamptons

By Christa Jan Ryan

Copyright 2008 by Christa Jan Ryan, published by Robert D. Reed Publishers, PO Box 1992, Brandon, Oregon 97411, http:,,www.rdrpublishers.com ISBN 978-1-934759-05-9

Silent Scream from the Hamptons by Christa Jan Ryan is an engrossing tale of one woman’s life, her battle with alcoholism and her subsequent recovery. It is a tale of a life gone wrong early on and finally found after a long and difficult struggle. It is a story of the multi-generational effect alcoholism and dysfunctional families have.

Christa’s openness and willingness to bare her soul to strangers for the purpose of healing both them and her is to be commended. She holds nothing back in an attempt to be honest and to help other to be able to see they are not alone and they too can begin the road to recovery if they are willing to try and to follow the steps.

Here is passage from one of the scenes in the book where Christa’s life begins to get totally of control. It involves a secret trip away with an adult male teacher from school when she was only twelve:

“Late that afternoon, I stood in the lobby of the hotel watching Greg check in and felt a wave of alarm pass through my young body. WHAT AM I DOING? He suddenly looked old. When Greg turned toward me and flashed a lecherous smile, I knew I was in trouble. He grabbed me by the hand and led me toward the room. I didn’t know how to tell him that the deal was off. In the room Greg suggested that I take a shower first. That sounded great; it would give me time to plan my escape. I stripped off my ski clothes and stood under the hot water with my heart pounding in my chest. He came in the bathroom, and I heard him lock the door behind him. “Shit, I should have done that?” I thought. Next thing I knew, he was in the shower soaping me down.

“I’m done,” I said casually as I stepped one foot out of the shower. “It’s your turn,” He grabbed my arm and yanked me back into the shower. “Hey,” I protested. “that hurt.”

“I’m sorry, baby. I just didn’t want you to leave.”

“Please, Greg,” I reasoned, “I’m only twelve. I don’t think I’m ready for this.”

“Christa, you’re not leaving me hanging now. It’s gone too far.” He turned off the shower.

“Please, please, Greg. I’m just a kid,” I pleaded desperately.

For the sake of keeping the review PG I won’t go any further into the story. Let me just say that Silent Screams from the Hamptons was spell-binding. Once I started it I was unable to put it down, I read it from beginning to end, all two-hundred-thirty-eight pages. It is wonderful, fascinating and an absolute must read.

NaNoWriMo is over for me, although the actual event continues until 11:59:59 on November 30th. I finished the first 50,117 words of my novel, Raven’s Wings. I’m not done telling the story I wanted to tell so I’ll continue typing away day after day, that’s the nature of writing. When that’s finally done the editing will start. As far as I’m concerned editing is more work than the writing is. When you write you create, when you edit you mercilessly cut out extraneous scenes, even if you loved them because they just don’t work quite right with your story. I won’t be as obsessed with writing as I’ve been during NaNoWriMo. There’s no pressure to turn out 50,000 words a month, thank goodness.  My goal is 15,000 words a month. I should finish the rough draft by the end of January. I’ll post occasional excerpts here. Some of them may not make it into the final draft, but I’ll post them anyway.

NaNoWriMo is an incredible ego booster. You push yourself incredibly hard. I read a post I had written but not published just four days before I finished NaNoWriMo. At that point I had just over ten thousand words to go and it seemed as though I would never finish the 50,000 word goal by November 30th. I had had it. I was ready to give up, throw in the towel and forget the prior 21 days of work. I was sick with a gastrointestinal bug that definitely hadn’t been part of my writing schedule. The holidays were right around the corner. How was I going to finish a book when I was going to lose at least two days, one to the holiday and the other because I was too sick to write.

Then, on the 22nd I hit my stride. I turned out over four thousand words that day alone. I had suddenly gone from needing just over ten thousand words to needing five thousand nine hundred and nine words. It seemed not only manageable, but doable now. I set a goal of 2,500 words for the next two days. Thanksgiving day, after we had returned home from the festivities at my parent’s house I came into my bedroom, which doubles as my office and I typed out the final words to put me over the edge mark at the 50,117.

As I said, 50,000 words didn’t finish my story. I still have work to do, but the majority of the writing is finished. I have a workable schedule for the rest of the book and I hope to edit it and begin submissions before next year’s NaNoWriMo comes around. I will do NaNoWriMo next year and each year thereafter. I can’t work on any existing project, only on new work that doesn’t start until November 1, 2010, but I can plot it out to my little heart’s content and believe me, I will. I winged it too much this year and got lost in the weeds a few times. I have extra garbage I know I have to edit out, but it doesn’t matter I did it.

Hey VISA internet $50, computer $500,  writing and verifying a 50,000+ word novel in 30 days, PRICELESS.

 

My humble thanks to Jessica Subject. I won a copy of Volume I of The Guardians of Ga’Hoole: The Capture in Jessica’s Great Book Giveaway. Thanks Jessica and everyone else look for more news on Jessica’s upcoming book giveaways here, also be sure to follow Jessica on Twitter at @jsubject.

NaNoWriMo Triumph

Twenty-five days. 50,117 words. The badge says it all. More to follow after I’ve slept. For now I’m happy, very happy.

Jessica Subject in conjunction with author’s Lorna Suzuki and Nia Suzuki-White is giving away a copy of The Dream Merchant Saga Book One: The Magic Crystal, Lorna and Nia’s new YA book. To enter to win go to Jessica’s website at http://markofthestars.com/wp/great-gift-ideas/ggi4/ and leave a comment. I also recommend following Jessica on Twitter as @jsubject. Enter today and good luck everyone.

Growing Up

I was thinking about my life as I was growing up the other day. It was a wonderful time in my life,  although it would take the distance of many years before I could see that.

We grew up in a small house in a rural neighborhood. Most homes sat on lots of an acre or more and there were plenty of farms in the area. It was the perfect place to be a child.

Sundays meant Sunday school and mass. After church we would go to the local news store. My dad would buy the Sunday paper and each of us kids would get money, I think it was a quarter but looking back it may have been a dime, to buy candy with. I remember the little licorice fishes were three for a penny. I remember I could buy a candy bar or a bag full of candy. The choice was always a hard one. On a few occasions the candy bar won, but I always regretted buying it because as soon as you ate it you had no candy left, if I bought the bag full of carefully selected candy I could make it last almost until the next week. It was great. I never realized how much of an expense that money was with the four of us kids.  It was a sacrifice for my parents, but each week we had it. I don’t think it was a reward or an allowance. I think it was a gift just because they loved us.

On weekends we would go visit my grandparents. My mother and father lived within a few miles of each other so their parents weren’t more than ten or fifteen minutes away from each other. We’d always visit both of them and sometimes we’d visit my father’s friend from high school.

My grandparents were very different from each other. My father’s parents were always busy. My grandfather worked in his garden and watched spaghetti westerns and wrestling on Sundays. I’ll always remember the name of the wrestler from Pittsburg, Bruno Samartino (I’m not sure I’m spelling it right but you get the general idea). I’ll also always remember how my grandfather thought everything about wrestling was real. Maybe it was back then. My grandmother sat at the kitchen table smoking and playing solitaire. She would play rummy, which my father taught me, with me. I can’t play either game to this day without thinking of her.

My mom’s parents were very laid back. My grandfather was disabled due to a heart problem, my grandmother was the quintessential homemaker. Each weekend that she knew we were coming she would take the bus into town and go shopping. We’d come in and find a soda for each of us, cold cuts, usually chipped ham, a Pennsylvanian food that you really have to sample if you have the chance, it’s wonderful, and sliced Colby cheese separated by white sheets of deli paper. Lots of times she’d have a big pot of baked beans made. Lunch would be sandwiches and baked beans. Sometimes I complained about not having any choice about what to eat, but now, as an adult, I realize what my grandmother offered us was a virtual feast. I think she probably did the same when all my cousins or aunts and uncles came to visit, but it always made me feel special that she did it for us.

Back to our house for a bit. It was a small two bedroom house with a shed out back that in my memory at least was almost as large as the house was. My parents had one of the bedrooms and the kids had the other one. That was the way it was till I was eleven or twelve when my parents added onto the house. Until then it was me, my brother and our two sisters all in that one room.

My best friend’s great-aunt lived next door. We met when I was three and she was two. We were friends until she died fifteen years ago in a car accident.

Her great-aunt’s place used to be a huge family farm. It had been divided between the great aunt and two great uncles. There was the remains of an old chicken coop that had burned down on the property and an old pig pen, covered in tar paper that was converted by J’s great-uncle into a playhouse for us. He even put an old window in it. We had a table, two chairs and for many years, our dolls up there. The playhouse remained a haven for us long after we should have outgrown it. When I moved away at thirteen we were still using it.

There was a huge hill behind J’s great-aunt’s house. Halfway down was a pump house we would lay on to sunbathe when we were just getting old enough to care about things like that. The top of the hill was our picnic place, underneath a crabapple tree. We would sit there with salted apples and peanut butter sandwiches and when we were finished we would lay down and roll as far down the hill as we could, keeping as eye out as we rolled on our sides for the pump house stationed firmly in the middle of the hill. To be honest I don’t know if we ever rolled all the way down the hill.

Winters were great. We’d get out our sleds and start as far up the hill as we could, which, if memory serves me was about halfway up. Then we would spend hours going up and down the hill until our hands and feet were frozen and our legs were so tired they could barely carry us back up the hill. when we were done sledding J’s great-aunt would build a nice hot fire in the old iron stove that was in the basement of the house and we would take off our wet clothes and put them on the back of folding chairs. Our wet sneakers would dry out when we put them on the plate at the very bottom of the stove.

J’s great aunt would bring down a plate full of apples covered in peanut butter and big cups of real hot chocolate. Sometimes she’d bring a pot with enough hot chocolate to refill our mugs when they were empty. We’d sit there in front of the wood stove pretending we were Laura and Mary from Little House on the Prairie. It was one of our favorite games to play.

I moved away when I was thirteen. I went back to town only a few times after that although I saw J at her parent’s house and again at her great aunt’s a couple of times. We kept in touch over all the intervening years, even when nearly eight hundred miles separated us.

When she died I hadn’t heard from her for a couple of months. I wasn’t overly concerned, we had gone that long before between phone calls, though it was unusual. I was moving into a new place and wanted to make sure she had my new number. The number i had for her had been disconnected, again, not worrying in itself, we had lost touch with each other during moves over time. I called her mother’s and that’s when I found out she had died in September.

I lost my best friend, the only co-holder of my childhood memories. I lost a part of myself. I love you J and I miss you still today. I think it will always be that way. Happy belated birthday. Sorry I’m ten days late.

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