Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Book Review: Embers & Ice (Rouge #2) by Isabella Modra

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    "Everyone is wrong about hell."

Rouge#1 was a throughly entertaining ride which introduced us to high-kicking heroine Hunter.

Rouge#2, which is a continuation of the story, is even better. Titled Embers & Ice, and complete with yet another stunning cover, one wonders if it could match the first story, or hopefully - better it?

I bought the paperback version of this book, and it is truly awesome to have on my shelf.

From the very first line:-

"Everyone is wrong about hell."

you, dear reader, will be hooked.

Embers & Ice raises the intensity of the first and then some. I relate it to being thrown into a cement mixer at high speed and ejected at said speed. That's what this book is like. I may have mentioned in my review of Rouge#1 that you could definitely see this on the big screen.

The author, Isabella Modra, is in clear command of her universe and you can tell she had great fun pulling us along with the story.

There are no filler chapters in the book and even though it ends with a 'what the hell happens now' scenario, you will want to know what does happen. Middle books of series are so hard to write - they are not the first nor usually the last in a series. Thankfully this is a fantastic middle book, and sets up the finale which I am sure will be awesome when it finally lands.

In addition, the paperback version is beautifully presented. The typeface is gorgeous and totally relevant for this kind of tale.



My favourite scene in the whole book was between Hunter and Will. Not to give the game away, but Hunter uses her incredible fire power (literally) to turn the tables on Dr Wolfe (a cool bad guy, but you'll hate him anyway).

Why I loved this book:-

Fantastic story.
Great characters that are not limited to only the main protagonist.
Hunter is a fantastic, believeable heroine. She is not needy, is tough as nails (but not in a plastic, predictable uber-heroine kind of way) and just keeps on going. Why wouldn't you root for her?
Romance is there, but thankfully kept to a minimum. This book is all action.
The bad guys are cool. You hate them but you cannot ignore them.

And here is perhaps the best praise I can give for this book:-
Katniss Everdeen has a new competitor for my heart and mind!
I'd like to see Saoirse Ronan play her in the movie.

I cannot stress enough how important reviews are. This book, and its counterpart, deserves to be read by many people. It's perfect for YA, but anyone with a pulse will enjoy the stories.

Bring on Book Three. We are waiting!

In summary: My favourite YA book of 2014 by a country mile.

Author Website: IsabellaModra.com

Amazon Page for Embers and Ice 

Monday, 18 August 2014

Paranormal Haunts - A Visit to Snowshill Manor

 
Snowshill Manor House

Set right in the heart of the Cotswolds, Snowshill Manor is a fascinating retreat, that, as ever with these places, is pretty hard to find, even without the map. I visited the place yesterday. It's about 50 miles from where I live.

I've wanted to go for ages, having heard about the ghost in the greeen dress in Ann's Room, or the duel that two men had in the most uppermost room. One died, of course, and still haunts the place today.

Scary or not scary:-

I'm undecided about this one.The house certain has 'something,' - I wasn't scared there but it just has a feeling of claustrophobia about it. But that is the case for many of these old houses. But there was plenty here which with to help my writing. Sometimes you simply have to get away from typing and get out in the big world.


This is from the National Trust website:-

"

Snowshill Manor is a Cotswold manor house packed with extraordinary treasures collected over a life time by Charles Wade

Inside these rooms you can discover this eclectic collection that he restored and displayed. We have maintained the atmospheric settings he created with low lighting and few labels. From tiny toys to Samurai armour, musical instruments to fine clocks, thousands of objects are laid out for you to see just as Mr Wade intended.
The garden is the perfect place to unwind and explore hidden vistas, quiet corners and unexpected delights including Charles Wade’s uncomplicated home, the Priest’s House.
“Let nothing perish” was his motto, and his life was dedicated to doing just that. From the everyday to the extraordinary, you can discover his passion for craftsmanship, colour and design."








Beautiful views of the Cotswolds surround you.



These quotes are dotted all round the place, from the house's most recent owner, Charles Paget Wade.





Look at the strange trees!


More wisdom from Mr Wade




Sheep enjoying themselves. I wish it would stay that way for them!


When writing a book, you need details. Even something as subtle as brickwork, and how you describe, can make it feel so real to the reader. The reader then becomes more involved, so that merely reading the book becomes replaced by a much more enriched experience.



Another view of the Manor.


There were apples, plums and tomatoes for sale. The honesty box for those who would pay (we did!)




Stunning views of the Shires. I think we are very lucky in England to have such views available to us.




One the many curiousities kept by Mr Wade, who was collecting since he was seven years old.On the first floor there is a rather stunning but scary collection of life size Samurai warriors which lay in the dimly lit Green Room. Charles Wade acquired them once the Second World War had ended. 


The site was full when we arrived. So many people visit these places!


Says it all.


I love the detail of this wooden door which adorned the priest's house.

You can enjoy more pictures down below, or find out more about Snowshill Manor here:-
















Friday, 15 August 2014

UPDATED!!! Cover Concept Reveal: Murderous Little Darlings


This is the cover concept (1) for my forthcoming series of vampire novellas, the first book is called Murderous Little Darlings. Let me know what you think!

Here is cover concept (2) and I think the text is clearer here. Thoughts?


Here is cover concept (3) and I think the title SHOUTS so you can't miss it! Thoughts?


Synopsis (from GoodReads) :-

Three siblings. An endless list of victims. A whole lot of time to kill.

* * *

With two specimens of the undead on either side of her, Juliana knew there was no escape. Kill the one they had selected for her, or be killed, and become one of them. What had the neighbours in the road called them, back when their childhood pranks were just that? 

Oh yes, she remembered now. Murderous Little Darlings. They had the faces of angels, but possessed the very soul of the Devil. 

Marcus had fully embraced his vampire side from the moment he was born. Rocco was the second eldest, and had fought the temptation all of his life. Then Marcus finally broke him.

That just left Juliana. Will she resist them, or join in the hunt?

A black comedy from the author of Stormling and Dark Winter

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

GoodReads Giveaway - Win a copy of Stormling

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Stormling by John    Hennessy

Stormling

by John Hennessy

Giveaway ends August 29, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Book Review: TRUST Pandora's Box (TRUST, #3) by Cristiane Serruya

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"How can I defeat a nightmare?"

How indeed. Cristiane Serruya's TRUST story is one of the best trilogies I have had the pleasure of reading. A hot romance downplays what this really is: An edge of the seat thriller that leaves you gasping, and I do mean literally.

From 'A New Beginning', through 'Betrayed', to finally reach and open 'Pandora's Box', it has been an interesting, intriguing, thrilling, and always enthralling ride.

If Book One showed us a rather uncertain, but still very strong Sophia, Book Three reveals Sophia to be in even more charge of what she wants. She is an appealing heroine that you will root for. Why? When she is beautiful, rich, and has men seemingly fall at her feet, you wonder why?

Because the story, although it features heavily on Sophia, it is not all about her, and through the other characters - Ethan, Alistair, Tavish...so many in fact that it is a supporting cast that you enjoy, along with Sophia's story.

This is good characterisation. When Sophia is not in the story, you think it might lag. It does not, and it's all the more enjoyable when she returns.

The descriptive tone of this book, just like the other two in the series, is wonderful. I especially enjoyed the references to Scotland, because although I have been all over the world, and indeed, over the border as far as Glasgow, that was for business....I've never truly visited the country. Cristiane makes you feel like you are there.

The date and time stamps reinforce the urgency of the story. These books are long, complex, multi-layered. It will take several re-reads to grasp the quality of this work.

So when I have done that, I will come back and edit this review.

You can see in every line that the author has put her all into giving us an enthralling conclusion to the TRUST tale. She delivers. And because she does, any reference to it would be a major spoiler.

So buy the books, and enjoy them. TRUST me when I say that Pandora's Box is wonderful!


Monday, 11 August 2014

How This Successful Author Just Keeps on Writing - A Profile of Barbara Taylor Bradford


Barbara Taylor Bradford has sold 85 million books worldwide and is the best selling author of A Woman of Substance.

Her story is rather interesting because she doesn't allow allow anyone - not her husband, not her editor, no-one in fact, to read her manuscript until it is completed.

In my dealings with GoodReads, I find it interesting that giving out advanced copies is almost becomig the norm. I expect Miss Bradford would recoil in horror at giving her books out ahead of publication.

Still, her process in writing is interesting.

She gets up at 5am on most mornings. Mine is close to 6:30. If she has a chapter of a new book to read, she will read it whilst making tea. I do that too. I don't grab my iPod first...it's always a book.

Miss Bradford and her husband have just celebrated their 50th anniversary, and for the last 18 years they have lived in New York on 52nd Street. She has a housekeeper who cleans every day, because she finds it impossible to write novels and scrub the floors.

If only I could do that. Of course, I could say that my writing is too important to start cleaning...so what I will do is keep the house as clean and clutter-free as I can. I hate an untidy home. But I have no cleaner or housekeeper, so when I am asked how I find time to write a novel, I simply say 'because I must find that time, no matter what.'

This author writes by hand. She will then type it up, edit where needed, fax to a typist, who puts it on a disc, sends the edit back, so that BTB can type it up again.

On starting a new novel, she says, " I already have the story in my head, including the ending, so I begin with an outline, and write consecutively - page one is always page one."

I totally agree with this. Even if you know the ending, don't rush to write it. Ease it out, and it will come. When you're finished, you will know it. I don't think that is something they teach in creative writing class.

I hasten to add that I haven't read any of the author's books. But I was interested in her writing process. I think the main point I wish to convey is to say that authors simply have to write. If it is not happening for you, take a break, go for a walk, whatever it is. The ideas will come.

If you are an author, I wish you luck in your writing and happy reading to the rest of you!


Book Review: The Winter Bride by Anne Gracie

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The Winter Bride is the second book in the Chance Sisters romance series. This is a very funny, well constructed historical romance that works on practically all levels. Damaris is a young lady of mixed heritage, Chinese and English. This aspect was of particular interest to me and I wish it had been expanded on a bit more.

Other than this very tiny gripe, the book is virtually perfect. It has an engaging storyline, funny hero / heroine, and very strong characters that could even be the main ones (yes, Aunt, I'm talking about you).

This book came to me via a friend's recommendation, so I can't rate this book highly enough or the value of referrals!

The 'hero' in question, Freddy Monkton-Coombes (otherwise known as Hyphen-Hyphen) is not really interested in marriage. Why would he be, when he has got all he wants...money, freedom and so on.

A meeting with Damaris, the Winter Bride of the title, changes all that. There's no instant love between the two, and that actually means the book is far more entertaining than it has a right to be.

I will definitely read the other book in the series, The Autumn Bride, and hope there will be more to come from this author.