Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Book Review: Against the Ropes

Against the Ropes 
by Sarah Castille

My rating: 


HOT GIF photo:  hot.gif

I mean seriously. Sometimes you see a hot cover like this and wonder if it will match up. . .and it does.

Now this wasn't a perfect book. Let's make that clear right now!!

Things that put me on edge:

**The heroine wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed....if you get my drift.

She wasn't SOOKIE stupid. (that's a whole 'nother level of stupidity).

sookie gif photo:  sookie.gif
But there were times when I was like, come on dude. . .

**The hero was TOO OBSESSIVE at times, verging on me yelling at the book, "Girl! You better get your butt out of there. That man is Cray Cray!!!"

crazy gif photo:  tumblr_m0wjjsHy0a1qfyxtn.gif

**ALSO, the debt collectors for her student loans were emotionally and mentally abusive. WTF? I'm paying student loans and I have not had these experiences. Who did she get a student loan from, the mafia?


For me, none of that matters when I'm
1) unable to go to sleep because I HAVE to finish the dang book!

2) waking up my husband at 4am to play out some of the scenes in the dang book!

View all my reviews

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Blog Tour: Guest Post from Kriston Johnson + Giveaway

Author Kriston Johnson is here today with a guest post, as part of the tour for her young adult fantasy novel Awakened. Since I'm a big YA reader, I asked her to choose and discuss five YA and other books that inspired her. Her guest post is below, and check the bottom for a giveaway!

by Kriston Johnson
Series: The Legends Of Elyndia #1
Publication date: April 25th 2013
Genre: YA Fantasy

Can fighting for the right side be the wrong thing to do?

Draven, the tyrant ruler of Elyndia for the last one thousand years, searches for the one who can fulfill his prophecy.

The Paladins, an elite band of warriors sworn to protect their way of life at all cost, search for the one with the ability to bring their world crumbling down.

An innocent girl, tormented by demons only she can see, lives on the brink of insanity and longs for a life of peace.

When seventeen-year-old Jade Rosenberg reads from an antique book, she has no idea she just read an incantation awaking her inherited power. But when opposing—and equally terrifying—groups invade her home, she learns she is descended from an enchanted realm and a member of a powerful race thought to have been hunted to extinction.

Ripped from her world, Jade is forced to seek refuge from those who want her dead. She is given one of two options and the time has come for her to make a choice: assassinate their sworn enemy…

Or sacrifice her soul.

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Hello ladies, I want to start with saying thank you for having me on your blog and chatting with me about Awakened.

Writers are often asked where they get their inspiration. The truth is, inspiration comes from a little of everywhere. I’ve had ideas come to me from real life people, movies, certain objects, and a lot of the time other books. Here are some examples of works that have inspired me during my journey as a writer.

I’m just going to get this one out of the way…*covers mouth and mumbles* Smimight. What did she say? Twilight…I said Twilight, okay! *insert collective moan* I know, I know, how many times have we heard new YA authors say they started writing after they read Twilight? But it really was one of the first steps in my journey to writing Awakened. I had been writing before I read Twilight, but that is the book that introduced me to YA. You can say Twilight was my gateway book.

The Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder. I read this story years ago and it is one of my favorite reads. I would have to say the main character, Yelena, in a way helped me to find my own leading lady, Jade. Not so much in personality, but in both stories the protagonists are despised by a society they are forced to live in and death is a constant threat.

The Hunger Games. I love the writing style and the fast paced plot brought to us by the talented, Suzanne Collins. When writing we need to make sure everything we write is for a reason, and Collins does an excellent job foreshadowing future events. For instance, ****spoiler alert****when Katniss sees that Peta has picked nightlock berries, she gets upset and stops him from eating them. Then in the next scene she finds the berries have poisoned Foxface. That was a complete scene and we could have lived without hearing about the berries ever again. But no, they come into play at the very end and literally saves their lives. ***end of spoiler*** So how did this affect Awakened? Well I planted several easter eggs that may have little affect on the progress of the story, but gives us little clues to future events. I can’t really point out to many examples without spoiling things, but I can share one. There is a scene where Jade notices a painting with a beautiful angel and little blonde girl. Well, that angel and little girl are the protagonists in a future book.

Story Engineering, by Larry Brooks. This one is for the writers. If you are a newbie writer in need of direction, this may be the best thing you could read. This is the closest thing you will ever get to a step-by-step on how to craft a novel. It doesn’t tell you how to write, but what it does do is explain the components of a story and where to place certain types of scenes to keep a steady pace. It explains themes, concepts, how to craft the perfect three-act structure, and how to keep conflict going without losing the plot.

Last but not least, I have to give a mention to…every single fantasy story I have ever read. It’s books like The Hobbit, Harry Potter, The Wizard of Oz, and everything in between. I think back to when I was a kid and imagined myself playing with Christopher Robin in the Hundred Acre Wood, to now, listening to Puck and Ash bantering back and forth over a girl. Though these stories are at complete opposite ends of the spectrum, the one thing they have in common, is that they transport the reader to a make believe world. A world far from ordinary and far from our own mundane lives. These are the stories I dream of, escape to, and wish I could live in. These stories may only exist on the page, but they come to life in our minds. If it had not been for these tales, and the magic it taught me, Awakened probably would not exist.


Kriston Johnson lives in Southwest Washington with her husband, teenage son, and miniature Australian Shepherd. Her home rests at the fringe of an old growth forest that she insists is the home of Jason Voorhees. Her husband thinks that’s a ridiculous assumption, because everyone knows it’s really Bigfoot. Every summer Kriston participates in the annual pilgrimage to Faerieworlds, a real life faerie realm here on Earth, and has an unhealthy obsession with Star Wars, The Vampire Diaries, and Iron Man. Awakened is her first novel.

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Blog Tour: Interview with A.J. Locke, Author of Affairs of the Dead

We're happy to host A.J. Locke in the tour for her urban fantasy novel Affairs of the Dead. A.J. answered some interview questions for us, so you can learn more about her and her novel. And don't forget to check the bottom of this post for a giveaway!

Author: A.J. Locke
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Etopia Press
Length: 341 pages

Help ghosts, stop a thief, and try not to die…

Necromancer Selene Vanream helps ghosts settle their affairs so they can move on. But when breaking the rules gets her in trouble, she’s bumped down to tracking ghosts trying to avoid the afterlife. Ghosts like Ethan Lance, who claims he was kicked out of his body when someone else jumped in. Which might be plausible—if such a thing were possible. And if Micah, Selene’s partner, didn’t pull her into an investigation of brutal murders that lead directly back to Ethan.

But when the whole mess puts Selene’s life in danger, she suddenly has very personal reasons to get Ethan’s body back. Between her uncomfortable relationship with Micah, and problems with her boss, Selene learns just how much trouble it can be when you don’t follow the rules…

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | All Romance | Kobo


1. Who are two authors that inspire your work, and why do they inspire you?

Laurell K. Hamilton because she was the first urban fantasy author I ever read. I didn’t immediately start writing urban fantasies after I started reading her work, but when I did start, I definitely learned from her how an UF works, the elements it needs, and how to make everything come together in a way that’s faced paced, interesting and also a little mysterious and sexy. Another author that has inspired me is Yukio Mishima for the way he is able to build deeply personal stories centered around people. His works taught me a lot about successful character development and that you don’t necessarily need to know someone’s entire story for them to be a believable character that you care about.

2. Which scene(s) are your favorite in your novel, Affairs of the Dead?

I enjoy my opening scene (which is in a strip club) because it shows you exactly who Selene is and how she goes about doing her job right off the bat. I also like the scene not long after that where her antics at the strip club, as well as others, get her in trouble with her boss and she gets demoted.

3. What is a unique aspect of your book that makes it stand out from other novels in its genre?

I think my book is unique in the way it tackles ghosts and necromancers, and goes beyond the concept of helping ghosts settle their affairs. I also have reanimation, which is using ghosts to animate corpses back to life, and I did something different with witches, giving them the power to draw out living energy as well as handle dead energy, thus calling them dead witches. My ghosts don’t just stay ghosts either; they can turn into rampaging monsters if their affairs aren’t dealt with in a timely manner. I took concepts we all know well (ghosts, necromancers, and witches), and tried to put a different spin on them from what I’ve seen before. And hopefully that makes my book unique.

4. Which character in your novel do you relate to the most, and why?

Definitely Selene. She has a bit of a wild side, which I also have, and I also lent her my  sense of humor a little. She may get herself in trouble from time to time but ultimately  she is trying to do good and be helpful where she can, so though it might seem like she  doesn’t care, she really does. She just does things in her own way and I can relate to that.

5. Is there anything else you want to share with our blog readers?

Just that I hope they will check out Affairs of the Dead! I plan for it to be a series, so there will definitely be a second book, which I am working on right now.

Lightning round!
Favorite movie? It’s so hard for me to pick my *favorite* of something because I like so many things! So I don’t have a favorite movie, just a lot that I really like. I tend to go for those fast paced action movies, as well as movies based off comic books, so almost anything DC or Marvel related I’d be into. I also like silly comedies and period romances like Pride and Prejudice.
Favorite TV show? I’m a TV junkie so I have many, some are: Vampire Diaries, Scandal, Revenge, Once Upon a Time, and True Blood.
Favorite food? Anything that tastes good! Seriously, I love any good food, and I especially love dessert!
Favorite animal? Birds; my first pet was a parrot, and after that I always had parakeets as pets.
Favorite color? Blue.
Favorite book? The Sound of Waves and Wuthering Heights are a couple favorites.
Print or ebook? Both, but I favor print books more.


A.J. Locke is an author and artist, originally from Trinidad, now residing in New York City. Affairs of the Dead is her debut novel, and other than writing she enjoys reading, drawing, painting, graphic design, and watching too much television.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Creating a Book Cover: Flirting with Chaos

I love Book Covers. I have an awesome New Adult Contemporary Romance with coming out Fall 2013. 

Currently, Omnific and I are in the first stages of the publishing process to make sure everything is perfect, which means editing, revising, and more editing. 

But, I LOVE COVERS! So I asked my good friend and talented artist
Jackie Sheats
to make me a Mock Cover for my book Flirting with Chaos and explain her process to us. 

First let me tell you what I asked for....
Flirting with Chaos deals with two mentally unstable rich kids, Rain and Jude. Rain is an artist. Jude is a rising rock star. 

In this book, I played with the idea of how insanity influences artists' creation process as well as how it could impact love. Rorschach signs
come up a lot in the book, as art, theme, and within the plot-line. FYI, the Rorschach test is several inkblots used by psychologists to examine a person's personality characteristics and emotional functioning. 

So I asked Jackie to incorporate the Rorschach symbol in the cover. Let's check out her work!

Jackie Explaining Her Process

1. The first thing I do is put my lovely source images onto one canvas. Generally when working on a book cover I use these settings for a new file. 1500x2400px 200dpi.

What do those settings mean? It means about 4 hours in my computer starts freaking out because it's over worked. Unlike myself, I am a well oiled machine!

Those settings for your file are about as big as a cover will ever be requested for upload. I choose to do it the biggest as possible. I do this because bigger is always better.

Also it is easier to go smaller then bigger when it comes to working with photos. The 200 dpi is the resolution which I have found to be perfect to not over work my computer, and it is the perfect medium.

2. With both my images on the same canvas I flick this magic switch that turns the top layer (the man and woman) into a clipping mask. Translated, it will only show where the ink blot is. 

Neat huh? Well it gets better.

3. To make it more believable I use a soft brush to erase the areas in the ink blot that are meant to be white. Also I start to fade the image of the man and woman so you can see the ink blot, and also draws your attention to the center. So basically making your eye do what I want it to, because I have that kind of power.

4. I add the check, play around with some settings. Work even more magic because I am a wizard. Use a soft brush with adjusted settings to fade some black in. Make that white not so white.

5. Finally, I use some layer effects to doll up the text. Throw a stroke in there, a drop shadow, and a little stain. What comes out is brilliant cover, a day spent at my computer, and a very sore back end. 

Don't even think this is easy. This was just one of about 12 different designs I went through. I just make it all look that easy.

Thanks Jackie!

She also went through this process a whole lot because I am a crazy author that didn't know what I wanted. We went through several covers before I finally picked one. 

Check out the others!

If you're interested in the release of Flirting with Chaos, go to my website Kenya Wright and sign up to follow by email!!

Monday, June 10, 2013

May's Book of the Month Discussion with Megan, Dara, Kenya, & Alicia

Every month Fantasy Floozies get together with authors Megan Martin and D.T.Dyllin to discuss the Book of the Month.

This month is the Contemporary Erotic Romance DIRTY by Megan Hart

Book Summary:

This is what happened…

I met him at the candy store.

He turned and smiled at me and I was surprised enough to smile back. This was not a children’s candy store, mind you–this was the kind of place you went to buy expensive imported chocolate truffles for your boss’s wife because you felt guilty for having sex with him when you were both at a conference in Milwaukee.

Hypothetically speaking, of course.

Our Favorite Lines

Megan D. MartinMegan D. Martin

"He didn’t approach me, made no move to touch me, not an awkward social half hug nor a handshake, and I found myself both grateful and disappointed." Is mine. I love how real Hart made her emotions.

Dara DyllinDara Dyllin

I'm a fan of all the American Psycho references... not really a favorite line... but yeah.... lol

Kenya WrightKenya Wright

"...his voice and laugh, the slow deep honey of it that made me want to lean against him and rub myself on him the way cats do, purring." 

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.

Okay got one: On another man the comment would have come off smarmy, earned a roll of the eyes and an automatic addition to the "not with James Dean's prick" file

James Dean

Kenya WrightKenya Wright
lmao@ james dean's prick file!!!

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.
And now I'm going to Google James Dean because I don't know what he looks like and he'd better be hot based on that line

Megan D. MartinMegan D. Martin
omgh you don't? He is beautiful!


Dara DyllinDara Dyllin
Really?? You don't know what James Dean looks like??
Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.
He's a-ight 

What did we think about the HERO and HEROINE

Dara DyllinDara Dyllin
The Hero reminds me of my Hubs... super patient with a woman with issues. LMAO
How's that for TMI for you Kenya?! hehe

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.
Even though I figured out the heroine's story pretty early on, I thought it was one of the more shocking heroine backstories I've come across

Megan D. MartinMegan D. Martin

I liked Dan A LOT. I thought he seemed like a good guy, but I found that Elle drove me crazy about halfway through the book. She drove me crazy. I was only able to forgive her craziness once I realized what was going on with her past.

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.
And yes, Dan was super patient. I liked him a lot. And he had that great quirk about wanting to have sex in public--which made him avoid being too much of a "good boy"

Megan D. MartinMegan D. Martin

LOL @ Dara. @ Alicia, I found it to be one of the most shocking as well. I think it had a lot to do with the way Hart presented it. The way she described her feelings. It made it all very real.

Kenya WrightKenya Wright
I pretty much agree with you all.
I loved how the Heroine changed throughout the book.
Remember the room she kept painting
and how that room changed with her personality

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.
Oh yeah, that was great how the room reflected what she was feeling

Kenya WrightKenya Wright
yes. I'm stealing that for my books

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.
I loved that too. Kudos to the author. Well done.

Kenya WrightKenya Wright
objects are going to change with my characters!

Dara DyllinDara Dyllin
Thumbs up on that from me as well. 

Any things we didn't like about the book? 

Dara DyllinDara Dyllin
Honestly, I got bored at about 20% in and had to make myself finish the book. Hear me out before I get boo-ed...

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.
I won't boo you. There were big blocks of telling and summary toward the beginning.

Kenya WrightKenya Wright
Yes. There were major slow points throughout the book especially during that 20%
"I thought of him here. I thought of him there. I thought of him while I took a shit."

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.
Stuff like: "I thought about him a lot over the next couple weeks. I thought about him while..."

Dara DyllinDara Dyllin
The writing was good, the concept good... but I wasn't consumed like I prefer.

Megan D. MartinMegan D. Martin
Yes, I agree with you Dara. It was the end that saved the book for me. The last 25%.

Kenya WrightKenya Wright
(Dara is only consumed when the heroine is beating the crap out of women and sleeping with all of their boyfriends while the bloody women lay on the ground watching.)

Dara DyllinDara Dyllin
Whatever Kenya! LMAO!

Megan D. MartinMegan D. Martin
LOL then she should have loved the hero in Flirting with Chaos ;)

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.
In general, I tend to think that contemp romance has more internal monologue than other genres I read--which frustrates me just about every time I read contemp romance. But I didn't find it to be more so in this book than in others.
But the summarizing weeks passing and that "thought of him" stuff was too much telling.

Megan D. MartinMegan D. Martin
There were times where I felt the author was keeping us at an arms length from the character. Where we were kind of detached

Dara DyllinDara Dyllin
@ Megan... That seemed like it was done on purpose because the character keeps everyone at arms length. But then it also kept the reader detached and didn't serve the novel well over all.

Kenya WrightKenya Wright
awww good point @ Dara 
(An angel dies every time Dara makes a good point)
(I'm just saying)

Dara DyllinDara Dyllin
That's why they're dying left and right apparently. ;)

Megan D. MartinMegan D. Martin
Wait, I didn't die. Are you sure? ;) 

Dara DyllinDara Dyllin
@ Alicia I like internal monologue and I'm not sure what it was about this book that didn't suck me in.

Kenya WrightKenya Wright
I think Dirty is definitely not your typical contemp Erotic romance. It came off more literary.

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.
Wtf does "literary" even mean. Not once while I was reading did I think, "Oh this seems literary."

Kenya WrightKenya Wright
o that book was literary
i have created elements!

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.
oh gods

Kenya WrightKenya Wright
1- can stand the test of time
2- story has a significant theme that tells the person something about being human
i forgot the other ones

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B..
Again, I see that in most contemp romance that I read

Kenya WrightKenya Wright
you've been reading the best ones dick head
while I trudge through the bad ones!!
and tell you not to read them
:-(  (my life is hard)

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.
Okay :P

Would you read more by this author

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.
I respected a lot about the book, so I think I'll like some her other stuff.

Kenya WrightKenya Wright
I definitely would. I browsed her other books and she writes some pretty dark erotic romances. That's my thing.

Megan D. MartinMegan D. Martin
I don't know. Maybe. I wouldn't read another book about Dan and Elle.
(there are more in their series right?)

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.
There's a follow-up novella
I think that's it for these characters

Dara DyllinDara Dyllin
@ Megan.. I agree I'm over those characters but I would read other books by Hart. :) 

What would you have changed about this book?

Kenya WrightKenya Wright
I would have taken out most of the dragging points. I'm an action junky. I like things to move along.

Megan D. MartinMegan D. Martin
Same for me @ Kenya. I would have added more action and excitement to the plot line

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.
I'd cut a lot of the summary nonsense. Can we say chapter break and time shift?

Dara DyllinDara Dyllin
I think the book was meant to be a character study. If that's not your thing then you're going to crave more action.
Some people really enjoy character studies with little action...

Kenya WrightKenya Wright
good point @ Dara (and another angel falls from heaven)

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.
So Megan and Kenya just don't "get it" then? Is that what you're saying?

Megan D. MartinMegan D. Martin
Wahhh can't there be both? @ Dara

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.
I actually disagree.

Kenya WrightKenya Wright

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.
A book can be a character study and still avoid dragging.

 Megan D. MartinMegan D. Martin

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.
Kenya read all of Name of the Wind and Wise Man's Fear despite their being slow, because they were engaging

Kenya WrightKenya Wright
this is true but I found it dragging a whole lot

Dara DyllinDara Dyllin

I think there can be a balance with a book being a character study and with action. I think the problem, like I previously stated, was the distance between Elle and the reader.

Kenya WrightKenya Wright
I only read it to steal his writing style.

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.

Kenya WrightKenya Wright
lol! go on time out Alicia!

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.

Dara DyllinDara Dyllin

Go ahead and make your point Alicia. :)

Kenya WrightKenya Wright
5 minutes in the corner. Keep it up, and no TV tonight.

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.
Oh, I finished already. It wasn't all that significant.

Dara DyllinDara Dyllin

I'm playing good cop. ;)

Megan D. MartinMegan D. Martin
I am just observing lol

Kenya WrightKenya Wright
(When Dara plays good cop, portions of heaven whither away.)

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.
Thank you, Dara. I'm taking you off my isht list for the rest of the week.

Megan D. MartinMegan D. Martin
@ Alicia are you pouting? ;)

Dara DyllinDara Dyllin

@ Kenya... that part might be true. :p 

Last question: How many stars do we give the book?

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.

Megan D. MartinMegan D. Martin

Kenya WrightKenya Wright

Dara DyllinDara Dyllin
I don't like to rate other author's book publicly. I know, I suck. :p

Kenya WrightKenya Wright

Alicia W.B.Alicia W.B.
That's cool. (I knew you'd say that.)

Kenya WrightKenya Wright
you suck Dara!