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July 7, 2012

Photo Challenge Day 7: Garden


Photo a Day Challenge is hosted by Fat Mum Slim
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Mixed Feelings: Need

Need (Finding Anna #2) by Sherri Hayes
ARC from Netgalley.com
Published July 2012 by The Writer's Coffee Shop
ISBN 9781612130989
Read July 2012
Goodreads and Amazon

I mentioned when I reviewed Slave (Finding Anna #1) that I wasn't sure if I would review the rest of the series because it is listed as erotica and eventually the story would become more focused on sex. When I saw the ARC on Netgalley, I thought I would read it to see if it was still more on the romance side of the line or not.

 Need left me with a lot of mixed feelings. If you read my review of Slave you know that I read it in about 5 hours. Need took me a week. I remember reading other reviews of Slave that mentioned that there was too much day-to-day detail. While I didn't get that feeling from that book, the first 30 percent of Need did feel that way to me. Need starts off the morning after Slave ended. Brianna is trying to come to terms with what Stephan means when he says she is not his slave, but he wants a submissive.

I once heard that any story has 3 acts and most books contains all three acts. For me, the Finding Anna series gives each act it's own book. I was ok with it in the first book as I felt like the end was the closing of a chapter for Brianna. However, in this book it didn't work as well for me. I felt like too much filler had to be put in to, well, fill out the story. Need read more like a novella for me. The whole focus of the second book was Brianna's sexual healing and her ability to have sex. There were hints of possible dangers, but never enough attention it to make there seem like any urgency or real threat to Brianna.

My mixed feelings about the book continued with the way Stephan was handling Brianna PTSD and anxiety. I have no problem with a book making me question my own opinions so this is not a negative comment at all. First, I question whether Stephan is letting his one experience (it seemed like he only tried 1 psychiatrist) with therapy get in the way of what Brianna possible needs. He isn't even giving her the opportunity to make the choice. Though anxiety medication might be recommended she wouldn't have to take it or even see a psychiatrist. My hang-up here was is Stephan doing the right thing by not allowing Brianna to decide for herself. This leads me to another point of contention within myself.

(Again, this questioning should not be construed as negative - I love books that make me think).

Stephan treats Brianna as a submissive even though they really haven't talked through what all that would entail. From everything I've read (and I don't mean just in fiction), BDSM couples stress laying out the ground rules within the first few meetings and definitely before playing. While the situation is a bit different for Stephan and Brianna, I think Stephan is overstepping. There are times Brianna needs the "control" because it is familiar to her. But like in the last book when she was punished for daydreaming (I saw it as something that should be praised since she felt comfortable enough to not be hyper-aware of her surroundings - something abusive victims struggle with), I thought Stephan shouldn't have punished her for not answering his calls or calling him right back. I felt that he was being the Dom by default rather than true consent.

The last part that I didin't agree with is how those in the lifestyle don't seem to love their partner enough to give up the lifestyle should that be what their partner wants or need. Instead the "vanilla" partner must be willing to engage in the lifestyle. I get compromise and all that, but it was something Logan said about loving Lily so much that he had to become a Dom for her. Now, what if he really could not embrace that role? Would Lily love Logan enough to be more vanilla? For all that Stephan says he loves Brianna, it does not look like he loves her enough to let her decide she cannot be a submissive to him. Just as Logan's statement gave me pause so did a statement Brianna made - that she would do this for him. For the lifestyle to be mutually beneficial and pleasurable for both parties, Brianna is going to need to want to be a submissive for herself not just because that is what Stephan wants.

As you can see this book gave me a lot to think about. The sex was more descriptive than I cared for, but not really more so than many adult romances. And though I didn't enjoy it as much as Slave it hasn't turned me off the series, I'm still curious as to what will happen (especially since it ends with a cliffhanger).

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July 6, 2012

Photo Challenge Day 6: Chair


Since you saw my office on Day 3, I thought you should see my office chair today. Photo a Day Challenge is hosted by Fat Mum Slim.


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Friday Fun with Karen Victoria Smith

Today's Friday Fun is brought to you by Karen Victoria Smith, the author of Dark Dealings. There is still time to enter the giveaway for a copy of Dark Dealings at The Indie Exchange. Karen grew up with an Irish grandmother who tried to teach her the old ways and watched horror movies with her in the dark.  From there she moved on the wider world of college and career. After 25 years in financial services working on Wall Street and for major national banks, she discovered her passion in writing.  In Dark Dealings, she has found a way to bring the old ways together with the modern world.

Five Fun Things About Me:
Wow, let’s see.

First, I am a complete and total chocoholic, especially dark chocolate. Oh and did I mention, strawberries dipped in dark chocolate and graham crackers dipped in dark chocolate and chocolate syrup over ice cream ---guess the flavor. Well you get the picture.

Second, despite being a chocoholic, I lost sixty pounds and have kept it off.

Third, my other addiction is coffee, more specifically Starbucks. At one point I was up to ten cups a day. I’m doing much better now---only three and I have no trouble sleeping, although I do twitch occasionally.

Fourth, I ran my first 5Ks this year and plan to do more. Eventually, I want to do a half-marathon. I‘ll start training again once the Devil takes his weather back.

Fifth and final, I enjoy math. I start my day with Suduko. Guess that makes me a really fun person, huh.

Well got to run. Headed off to live Rock ‘n Roll Karaoke night. You can see some of those pictures on my personal Facebook if you can find me……

Dark Dealings by Karen Victoria Smith
At thirteen, Micaela was found wandering an Irish pasture after a mid-air explosion. Now, a successful investment banker, she discovers Wall Street has real fangs and claws. When international power brokers, creatures hiding in plain sight, threaten her and those she loves, will this heiress to a Druid legacy deny her power and let loved ones die again? A global thriller of money, monsters and murder.

Karen Victoria Smith grew up with an Irish grandmother who tried to teach her the old ways and watched horror movies with her in the dark. KV lives in New Jersey with her family who patiently allow her to believe that in a 24-hour world the monsters are real. From Goodreads.com
Find Dark Dealings at Goodreads, Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble
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July 5, 2012

Photo Challenge Day 5: On the Floor


Photo a Day Challenge is hosted by Fat Mum Slim


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Tips on Thursday: Take a Break

As many of you know I was on vacation last week. While it was a staycation, I did attempt to unplug for a few days. Like many bloggers, I worry about what will happen to my blog if I'm not constantly tending to it. I thought I would share the results of a week "away".

First, I didn't want there to be no content all week so I worked really hard to have all my posts written and scheduled by Sunday night. That in and of itself was great. I'm going to work really hard in future to schedule as many of posts as possible over the weekend instead of the night before. It gave me more time in the evenings to read.

My posts automatically get tweeted when they post. So I had at least 1 promotional tweet going out during the day. Also, I'm a member of Triberr and my tribe was wonderful in sharing my posts. I've mentioned it before how beneficial it has been to be part of a blogging group and this past week really showed. They all knew I was going to be away and they made sure to advertise for me. I'm very thankful to them. Also, because of the tribe I was able to schedule another automatic tweet to go out to promote the post.

I also made sure at some point in the day that I stumbled and G+ my post. Again, my tribemates helped me out when I wasn't able to get to my post until late in the day. Often someone else had stumbled my post for me. Facebook may have suffered a bit as I wasn't able to post a link there at optimal times. I could have set an automatic post to Facebook and may do that next time.

Overall, I did not see a drop in traffic. I was averaging about 350 page views a day with a most new posts getting at least 100 hits in the first 24 hours before my vacation. During my vacation, I was getting about 300 page views per day, but the individual posts didn't do as well (people were coming to the main page of my blog and possibly scrolling through the post, which would account for the lowered page views on the individual posts).\

So what did I learn? My blog has a significant enough presence that I don't have to constantly advertise it. I have AWESOME Tribemates and blogging friends. A special THANK YOU to David Brown for getting his guest post to me far in advance so I could format it before my vacation.

For those who are needing a break from their blog. Don't worry, you're hardwork won't go down the tubes. Schedule a few posts, then kick back and relax. I'm feeling rested and got a lot of reading done so now I'm back (and hopefully better!).

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July 4, 2012

Photo Challenge Day 4: Fun


Photo A Day Challenge is hosted by Fat Mum Slim
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Asher Tensei: Writing the Novel (guest post)

Hi! I have debut author Asher Tensei here today. His new book, Mana, is due out this summer. As many first time authors feel, writing that first novel can be a difficult undertaking. Asher shares his writing process in hopes of encouraging others as they tackle their dream.

Writing the Novel

It’s true what they say: writing the novel is the hardest part. It’s harder than finding an agent (maybe…this involves query letters and that’s a whole ‘nother story), harder than editing, and a lot harder than publicity in my opinion.

A good book sells itself, but you need to make sure the book is good first. How do you do that?

I’m glad you asked. I want to share the journey I went on while creating my first novel, Mana, a young adult urban fantasy. Before I start with the heavy, I want to say that I am very excited that my book has been pushed back for edits. Keep up with my Twitter feed and website for updates. I’ve wanted this for so long, so this post is dedicated to my journey and future journeys my readers may have!

Ask anyone and they’ll tell you. The idea of writing came to me when I was at work one day. I was in Germany, working at a joint restaurant (ok, it was Burger King and Anthony’s Pizza) and the Twilight Saga was having a promotion. Immediately, I thought that I could write a book like that, I can do it!

It turns out that was all the motivation I needed to start writing. Sure I had already learned how to form sentences, but the fame of the Twilight Saga gave me the incentive that I needed to actually start writing. As I entered the fabulous world of story-building, I made sure to follow some guidelines to ensure that I wrote the best story I could.

Find a setting


Before I could form any type of Idea, I had to check to see if the story was in the right place. In my case, I needed an area where trees were plush and plentiful and an area where the seasons were somewhat on the correct cycle. It’s important to know where the story takes place, even in fantasy. Magical realism is the way to go. After doing some research, I found that Roanoke Virginia would be a perfect setting. Once you have that idea setting, you can focus on making your idea unique. Make sure your writing stands out!

Write an outline

Now I know this part sounds boring as hell and I understand why people choose to skip this. The outline doesn’t have to be a bland description of every little detail, you can use this time to develop character personalities and possible conflicts. That’s the exciting part, in this phase of writing you can pour all of your imagination out. Still write with style, this will make the editing part much much easier!

Final Draft

Personally, I loved this phase while I was writing. By the time I got around to writing the final draft, so many new, cool things happened in my life that I just wanted to express. I had just built somewhat of a fan base, took a few courses in writing (mostly essays ), and learned some of the harsh cruelties that life can deliver. All that aside, during the final draft, I was able to edit with a newfound writing concept. I made changes that I believed bettered the story. Make sure you polish as much as you can before sending it out to publishers, agents, or editors!

This was the guideline I followed. Will it work for me? I hope so, but I won’t find out until I get a new release date!

Happy Independence Day!!!

P.S. There are bound to be some failures with submitting, but always remember to keep trying!

Thank you Asher for sharing with us. To keep up-to-date on the editing process and new release date, you can find Asher:
Twitter
Website
Goodreads

Mana by Asher Tensei
Eurich is thrown into what seems like an ill-fated destiny. After learning of his legendary magic, he is convinced that he alone must stop the impending doom, but nothing is ever as it seems. Best friends Jason and Raine try their best to help him save the world, ut help isn’t what he needs…he needs a way across the barrier.

Though not his choice, Eurich knows what’s going on. The world is headed towards Chaos and it’s because of a weakening barrier that hides Earth from a world that hasn’t been present in millennia.

The world is about to take a sharp turn for the worse. Extra moons are rising in the sky, panic is at an all-time high…and the worse thing about it is—there are no explanations.

Saving the world is just a step away…but is humanity worth him risking his own life? From Goodreads.com
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July 3, 2012

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 3

I'm going to participate in the Photo A Day Challenge at Fat Mum Slim. Each day there is a theme you are suppose to catch on "film". I've even signed up with Instagram to give a bit of fun to my photos. I missed the first 2 days so I played catch up today. Each evening I will post a new photo. I hope you like seeing pieces of my daily life. While this isn't really book related I'm sure there will be some books popping up in the photos.

Day 1: Self Portrait


Day 2: Busy


Day 3: Best part of your day

 
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Great Characters: Change of Season

Change of Season by A. C. Dillon
ebook
Published June 2012
ISBN 9781476418605
Read June 2012
Goodreads, Amazon

You might remember A. C. Dillon from last summer when she guest posted here about her work in progress. I was excited to hear about this new work as I had read an unpublished story of hers and loved it. A. C. Dillon creates great characters. I loved Autumn, Veronica, and Andrew. Even the minor characters of Emma and Evan were well developed.

In Change of Season, Dillon weaves a suspenseful tale that incorporates mental illness and the stuff of urban legends. However, what's happening at Casteel Preparatory Academy is more than just school lore. Autumn heads to boarding school to escape from an abusive dating relationship, but soon finds herself in the middle of something straight out of a horror flick. Is room 308 truly haunted or is it just another symptom of Autumn's PTSD?

Pop culture references are abundant and will be fun for those into music, movies, and literature of our time. For me personally, I thought there was a bit too much reliance on these references. But true to the references, Change of Season was a mash-up of A Beautiful Mind and the horror spoofs such as I Know What You Did Last Summer.

While not typically a fan of character names that are odd or I'm not sure how to pronounce, Miraj was brilliant.

I knew from reading A. C.'s unpublished story that she tends to write long stories and Change of Season was no exception. And while I was impatient to get to the end of the story, I can't pinpoint an instance of where a scene could be cut or even a spot where the story dragged.

If you are like me and want more than fluff for your summer reading or perhaps you are a reader from the southern hemisphere and want a chilling tale to curl up with, then you will want to spend the winter with Autumn and her friends at Casteel in Change of Season.
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July 2, 2012

Vlog #20: Exciting News


News:

I contributed a piece to Coral Russell's DIY Guide to Social Media Marketin and eBook Publishing. It will be in the new edition that will be available this week. (It will be free July 4 - 8 at Amazon). Because I'm now published, I have an author page at Goodreads. I'm still working on getting that all filled out and hoping to have a new photo done.

The Book Bloggers' Collaborative has merged with The Indie Exchange. I posted there last week about why I don't care how a book makes it to market. You can read the article here.

This week's giveaway is Dark Dealings by Karen Victoria Smith. Enter here.

Finished:

 Change of Season by A. C. Dillon
“Ten months. Two hundred and ninety-nine days. Seven thousand, one hundred and seventy-six hours. Four hundred and thirty thousand, five hundred and sixty minutes. Perhaps not as melodic as Larson’s rock musical anthem, but it is how I will measure a year at Casteel… I will measure in time, because it is my only constant between the old Autumn and the now Autumn. I will measure by changes of season.”

Sixteen-year-old Autumn Brody has enrolled at Casteel Preparatory Academy, a prestigious boarding school with a focus on the arts, for her grade eleven year but the move isn’t recreational. Her choice was made in a desperate bid for the survival of herself and her family, who remain oblivious to the looming threat against them. In her self-imposed exile, Autumn must remain invisible – “a Chbosky wallflower” – or more blood will cling to her hands.

Forced into a behavioural reform program at the Academy by her frantic parents, Autumn refuses to whisper of the ghosts haunting her. But the troubled young woman soon finds that there are more reasons to fear the night than she ever dared imagine. A student cries out in anguish through the walls, rousing her from restless slumber. Mysterious messages seem to land near her feet – messages from a supposedly dead girl that Autumn sees darting into darkened service corridors. And yet, the reclusive film student she literally runs into might just be the gravest danger of all.

As past bleeds into present, Autumn uncovers truths long buried behind the door of room 308. Secrets that someone will kill to keep silent – someone who stalks Autumn’s every move, patiently waiting to strike…From Goodreads.com
 Find Change of Season at Goodreads and Amazon.

The Line Between Here and Gone by Andrea Kane
"The man she loved is gone forever. The child she lives for could be next."Each day is a struggle for Amanda Gleason's newborn son as he battles a rare immune deficiency. Justin's best chance for a cure lies with his father, who was brutally murdered before Amanda even realized she carried his child.

Or was he?

One emailed photo changes everything, planting a seed of doubt that Amanda latches on to for dear life: a recent photo of a man who looks exactly like Paul. Could Justin's father be alive? The mother in her is desperate to find out. But tracking down a ghost when every second counts is not for amateurs.

"Forensic Instincts is the one team up for the challenge."

A behaviorist. A former navy SEAL. A techno-wizard. An intuitive. A retired FBI agent. A human-scent-evidence dog. Together they achieve the impossible, pushing ethical and legal boundaries whenever the ends justify the means.

The manhunt is on for the elusive father. Yet the further FI digs into his past, the more questions are raised about whether the man Amanda fell in love with ever really existed at all.

Dark secrets. Carefully crafted lies. From the congressional halls of Washington, D.C., to exclusive Hamptons manors, there are ruthless people who would stop at nothing to make Forensic Instincts forget about the man Amanda desperately needs to find.

Little do "they" realize that once Forensic Instincts takes the case, nothing will stop them from uncovering the shocking truth that transcends "The Line Between Here and Gone." From Goodreads.com
Find The Line Between Here and Gone at Goodreads, IndieBound, and Amazon

Reading:

Need (Finding Anna #2) by Sherri Hayes
As Brianna comes to terms with the realization that she is no longer a slave, she must figure out what she wants for her life. Forgetting her past isn’t an option. It is an integral part of who she is now, and it will forever shape her view of life. The one thing she knows is that she cannot imagine her life without the man who saved her, but can she be what he needs?

Stephan never imagined falling in love with the woman he rescued, but the thought of her no longer being part of his life is physically painful. The scars from her past continue to haunt her, and he is helpless to stop them. All he can do is try to help her work through the traumas of her past. Can he be everything she needs and help her move on?

The two must figure out how to navigate not only their relationship with each other, but also the outside world. A friend from Brianna’s past shows up where she least expects them, and Uncle Richard continues to enforce his well-meaning agenda to get Brianna more traditional help. As forces, both friend and foe, threaten to tear them apart, Stephan and Brianna have to navigate the turbulent waters and find what they need in each other. From Goodreads.com 

Find Need at Goodreads

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism. From Goodreads.com 

Find A Discovery of Witches at Goodreads, IndieBound, and Amazon

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey.
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