Monday, June 25, 2012

Burn Mark Blog Tour

Glory is from a family of witches and lives beyond the law. She is desperate to develop her powers and become a witch herself. Lucas is the son of the Chief Prosecutor for the Inquisition—the witches’ mortal enemy—and his privileged life is very different to the forbidden world that he lives alongside.

And then on the same day, it hits them both. Glory and Lucas develop the Fae—the mark of the witch. In one fell stroke, their lives are inextricably bound together, whether they like it or not . . .


I wanted very much to have this book take me away like another Harry Potter. The premise and description were intriguing and witch books being my thing, I dove right in. Let me start out by saying this book was a challenge. It was a very slow read and I found myself getting extremely bored and anxious. I wanted more of a hook and was a bit disappointed. This book requires patience and is not a quick read.

What I liked:

The witch story line was interesting, as was the modern day Inquisition. 

What I didn't:

The story fell flat. There was no hook to grab the reader and at over 400 pages, I felt myself growing irritated and had to put the book down.

Overall Rating:


Friday, June 22, 2012

The Flower Bowl Spell Blog Tour

Journalist Memphis Zhang isn’t ashamed of her Wiccan upbringing—in fact, she’s proud to be one of a few Chinese American witches in San Francisco, and maybe the world. Unlike the well-meaning but basically powerless Wiccans in her disbanded coven, Memphis can see fairies, read auras, and cast spells that actually work—even though she concocts them with ingredients like Nutella and antiperspirant. Yet after a friend she tries to protect is brutally killed, Memphis, full of guilt, abandons magick to lead a “normal” life. The appearance, however, of her dead friend’s sexy rock star brother—as well as a fairy in a subway tunnel—suggest that magick is not done with her. Reluctantly, Memphis finds herself dragged back into the world of urban magick, trying to stop a power-hungry witch from using the dangerous Flower Bowl Spell and killing the people Memphis loves—and maybe even Memphis herself.

An Excerpt:

I’ve always known that rats live in the Muni Metro tunnels, but this morning, after I almost fall onto the tracks, I find out that fairies hang out there too. 

This should come as no surprise to a person like me, even though I banished magick from my life two years ago. In that time, I haven’t come across anything like fairies or talking sparrows. Not one rag doll has tried to jump into my shopping cart in ages. Yet, all at once, magick has come back to me. 

In the Castro Street station, waiting for an M, L, or K car to take me to work downtown, I stand on the edge of the platform with a trickling crowd of morning commuters. Teenagers heading to Union Square for midsummer shopping sprees mingle with hipsters and Asian elders. There are a couple of indigents, one slumped against the wall, the other pacing and muttering. They wear shabby clothes with dirty, threadbare cuffs. Their BO could be bottled for biological warfare.

A high whining sound and blasting horn signals an inbound train. I move with the crowd, the wind from the tunnel gritty yet refreshing on my face. A shove at my back throws me off balance. It’s split-second fast, and I can’t tell if I’m being pushed to the tracks or pulled away, as my head is thrown back and the dim yellow ceiling lights lurch into view. At the same moment, a woman’s voice cries,

 “Watch out!” 

A disheveled man in a San Francisco Giants jersey has hold of my arm. I glance at him as the train pulls up in front of us and the doors open—his eyes obscured by sunglasses and the bill of his baseball cap, and his face covered in graying stubble. He’s the homeless guy who’s been sitting on the floor.

“Thanks,” I mumble.

“You okay?” A young woman dressed like an H&M salesclerk puts her hand on my shoulder, and the man’s tight grip on me loosens and slips away.

“Yeah,” I say as the woman and I step through the doors together, carried forward by the impatient crowd that could give a hoot about my almost-accident. You’re alive, aren’t you? No biggie, their indifference says. The doors close. The man has not followed us. In fact, he seems to be distracted by something just behind the train. I let my shoulders relax, unaware until then that they’ve been tightly hunched. I look out the window. Our train hiccups once before starting its slow glide out of the station. He stands on the platform and, unexpectedly, I read the gray cloud of his disappointed aura—but in response to what, I can’t tell. 

With a smile of thanks to the young woman, I move away from the door farther into the car. I find standing space near a back window. As the train enters the subway tunnel, something on the tracks catches my eye. It’s a rat, looking a little dazed and sniffing a bit of discarded muffin. Isn’t it terrified by the rumbling train? I wonder why it doesn’t scurry away. Then I see the reason. A tiny fairy is riding it bucking-bronco style. A fairy who’s waving a shiny sword at me. 

In the few seconds before the train rounds the corner of the tunnel, I note that the fairy is only pretending to ride the rat. Its wings beat rapidly, much like a hummingbird’s. I’m not familiar with this variety of pix. The ones I’ve seen are slow flitterers mostly, butterfly-winged. I can’t determine the fairy’s gender, but guess it’s a dude. No self-respecting female fairy would take part in such tomfoolery. He waves the sword around his head as if holding an imaginary lasso. 

I allow myself to toy with the idea that perhaps I’m merely hallucinating. Perhaps there’s a speck of dust on my retina or this is just a childhood memory resurrected. But I know that’s wishful thinking. 

And I have to say I’m more than a tad concerned.

When I first heard about The Flower Bowl Spell I was excited. A witch with Chinese heritage who can see fairies, has a cool job reviewing musicians, lives with a hot guy and can cast some serious spells with stuff you keep around the house. Memphis rocks. 

What I liked about this book:

From the first page, Memphis becomes someone you want to know in real life. Fairies in the subway and a childhood filled with magic  both seen and unseen and a personality that feels completely real. In other words, not all sunshine and moonbeams. The girl has some attitude and being a cranky type individual myself, I can appreciate that. 

What I Didn't Like:

Not A thing. Well, there were no zombies, but the fairies and witches rocked!


This is a great summer read that I enjoyed very much. The voice of the book grabbed me on the first page and it was a page turner from then on. The fairies, magic and spells with regular household items was right up my alley! I will be looking for more books in this series and was very excited with Olivia was able to answer a few questions for the blog tour! 

1. Do you ever watch zombie movies? What is your favorite? 

I don't watch them often because I get easily scared by horror movies and then have trouble when, inevitably, in the middle of the night I wake up needing to use the facilities and am too terrified to uncurl from the fetal position I’m in. Not a comfortable feeling, and rather ridiculous at my age. But that said, one of my favorite movies—and this is on my Facebook page!—is Zombieland. The dialog is just so smart and funny, as are the situations. I try to work the term "double tap" into a conversation at least once a week.

2. If you were in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, what would you most want to have with you? (twinkees, a large baseball bat...) 

Honestly? I'm going to have to go with a lifetime's supply of calcium and disposal contact lenses in my extra-strength prescription along with saline solution. Otherwise, I'm zombie meat because I'll break a bone or be unable to see as I run away shrieking.

3. Have you watched The Walking Dead?  What do you think of it? 

As soon as they ate the horse in the first episode, I knew I wouldn't be able to take it. Too stressful for this wimp (see answer to Question #1).

4. What is your favorite zombie book? 

Hm. I'm sure I read one as a teen because I read a couple of horror series, and the names escape me now (no, not Goosebumps—I was too old for that). Hollowland by Amanda Hocking is on my Kindle, waiting to be read. I know The Passage by Justin Cronin is considered a post-apocalyptic vampire book in general, but I thought the creatures in that were more like zombies in their creepitude and lack of sexual chemistry. Man, I’m really going to have to suck it up, and read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. At least I have the illustrated postcards, so that’s something. 

5. All writers have quirks. What is your weirdest one?

Weirdest quirk, weirdest quirk…This is actually pretty normal—and essential—when you’re a writer, but I always keep pen and paper handy by the bed in case I’m struck with inspiration in my dreams or as I’m falling asleep. And as I indicated is my answer to Question #2, I’m pretty nearsighted, so I’ll scrawl an idea blindly. Half the time, I can’t read it in the morning and it’s usually never as profound as I thought it was at 1 a.m. The pen is also good for stabbing zombies on the way to the bathroom in the dark. 

If you would like to check out more about Olivia Boler, pop over to her website:

You can also visit Olivia on Facebook and Twitter

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dead Reckoning Blog Tour

Jett is a girl disguised as a boy, living as a gambler in the old West as she searches for her long-lost brother. Honoria Gibbons is a smart, self-sufficient young woman who also happens to be a fabulous inventor. Both young women travel the prairie alone – until they are brought together by a zombie invasion! As Jett and Honoria investigate, they soon learn that these zombies aren’t rising from the dead of their own accord … but who would want an undead army? And why? This gunslinging, hair-raising, zombie western mashup is perfect for fans of Cowboys vs. Aliens and Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.


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This book is perfect for anyone who loves zombies and westerns. An original take on a genre that has had many great authors, this book has adventure and some nice zombie hordes running amok. 

Now for an interview with these two amazing authors!
Rosemary Edghill: Hi, Dana, and thanks for having me (and my lovely and talented co-author) as your guests. 

Q: How did you decide to combine zombies and a western?

Rosemary Edghill: It was totally a case of "what's the most improbable thing that can go here?"  DEAD RECKONING is completely about improbability: the gunslinger is really a Southern Belle, the prim bluestocking is really a mad scientist….

Mercedes Lackey: Well, we wanted to do something different.  There's plenty of contemporary YA horror/monster/occult fiction out there, but not too much that's set in a historical period (though A Great and Terrible Beauty does spring to mind.  Rosemary and I both like westerns, and it's an interesting period, a time and place where things were unsettled in every sense of the word, so almost anything could happen, and a time when there just isn't the sort of fast information transfer and communications we are so used to, so it's absolutely right for something nasty to come out of the woodwork that the reader will recognize but the characters won't.  As for zombies, well, we wanted to focus on Jett, Gibbons and White Fox, so we picked antagonists who are quite literally mindless.  And yet, at the end, you can feel sorry for them.

Q: What are some of your favorite zombie books and films?

RE: I like the classic Romero stuff; in books, I like the nonfiction things like ZOMBIE:CSU

ML: Oddly I am not a big zombie fan.  I do like the very cheesy Bela Lugosi White Zombie, and I'm a fan of Sean of the Dead.

Q: The main character has tried to maintain that she is a boy at the beginning of the book. What inspired your story line?

ML: History.  There was a lot of that going around in the mid-late 1800s, far more than most people realize.  If you weren't lucky enough to be in a family that was in a position to protect you, it was dangerous to be a girl, and triply dangerous to be alone and a girl.  And if you were in a family that was in a position to protect you, there were so many restrictions on your behavior that sometimes running off in boy-drag was the only way to keep your sanity.

RE: The whole idea of someone dressing as a member of the opposite sex is one of my big favorites, and it was more common in real life history than you'd think.  Basically, I wanted Jett to have all the cool fun of being a gunslinger, and I wanted her to be a girl, too.  Presto!

Q:When you are not behind the keyboard, what are some of your favorite things to do?

RE: ::laughs::  Sleep!  Also, one of my furkids is a licensed Therapy Dog, meaning I can take him into hospitals and nursing homes and schools and so on, so when I'm AFK, you'll find me on the end of a leash…

ML: Play my favorite MMORPG, City of Heroes, and work on outfits and painting my collection of resin Asian Ball Jointed Dolls.  I actually have two collections, my Secret World Chronicles superheroes (who get to wear contemporary clothing as well as spandex and armor) and my Elven Court, which has some adorable little anthros in it as well as elves.
Q: If the world were to suddenly go into a zombie apocalypse, what three things could you not live without?

RE: Well, one of them is the internet, so I see a big problem already.  But aside from the stuff needed to survive the zombie apocalypse and fight zombies (a long list right there!), I'd want my computer, my dogs, and a lifetime supply of Mtn Dew…

ML: A way of generating electricity, a clean water source, and a reliable food supply.  Terribly practical, I know.  Actually rather than taking over a mall, in the event of a zombie apocalypse, our plan is to take over the local WalMart warehouse.  It's actually got its own power supply, there are no windows, there are few doors and those are easily barricaded, and it has virtually everything you would need to survive, right there.  While everyone else will be looting the malls and stand-alone stores, we'll have more than enough to supply us.  Can you tell we've actually thought about this?

Q: What are some of your stranger writing habits?

RE: I, um, may have a special writing hat that I can't write unless I'm wearing…

ML: There's generally a parrot on the back of my chair or on my arm.  Or, occasionally, trying to cuddle into my neck.  And I can't write without my Ganesh doll, my gryphon "sea-opal" carving, my Companion Cube, my beckoning cat, and my Commie Unicorn on the desk.

7. What one thing would you tell a prospective writer?

ML: Don't talk about it, do it.  Write at least an hour a day, every day, no matter what.  Turn it into an addiction, one you feel bad about when you don't do it.

Q: Do you have a playlist for the book?

RE: Usually, I just take one song and put it on endless repeat (see: "strange writing habits") while I write.  I once wrote three books to Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear The Reaper", and since this was pre iTunes in my world, I actually wore out four CDs.  For DEAD RECKONING, I actually rotated through several songs: Loreena McKennitt's "Night Ride Across The Caucasus", "Run Through The Jungle" by Creedence Clearwater Revival, and a number of classic Western movie themes: How The West Was Won, The Good The Bad And The Ugly, Hang 'Em High… and the theme from the original Wild Wild West, of course!

ML: Some classic western soundtracks.  The Cowboys, How The West Was Won, Dances With Wolves, that sort of thing.

Q: Do you outline or are you a panster?

RE: Outline all the way!  It's the only way to really make a collaboration work, if you ask me…

ML: The only way to do a collaboration like this is to outline, but I am an outliner all the way.  That said, if the book wants to deviate from the outline, I rewrite the outline.

Q:  What is your next writing project?

ML: The next Valdemar book, the next Secret World Chronicles book, the last Shadow Grail book, the last Elvenbane book.  I generally work on several projects at once, it keeps me from ever suffering from writer's block. 

Thanks ladies for the excellent interview!

Check out more titles from Bloomsbury.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Archon by Sabrina Benulis: The Interview

Angela Mathers is plagued by visions of angels, supernatural creatures who haunt her thoughts by day and seduce her dreams by night. Newly released from a mental institution where she was locked away for two years, she hopes that her time at the Vatican’s university, the West Wood Academy, will give her a chance at a normal life. Unlike ordinary humans, Angela is a blood head — a freak, a monster, the possible fulfillment of a terrifying prophecy of overwhelming death and destruction. Only in Luz, the Vatican’s wondrous enclave, are blood heads accepted and encouraged to discover what kind of powers or special abilities they might possess.

But within West Wood, a secret coven plots, and demons and angels roam the streets searching for the key to open Raziel’s book — a secret tome from a lost archangel. Some are determined to destroy Raziel, while others, like the beautiful Supernal Israfel, one of the highest of the high, wish to free him. And when the Archon — the human chosen to possess the spirit of a dead angel — rises as foretold, they will control the supernatural universe.

Torn between mortal love and angelic obsession, Angela holds the key to Heaven and Hell — and both will stop at nothing to possess her.


I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Archon takes everything I enjoy in a YA and crosses over into the murky politics of Heaven and Hell. It is a steady read that will have you turning the pages. Add in some pretty wicked witchery, spirits, demons and a prep school with a pretty interesting cast of characters and you have yourself one great novel. I asked the wonderful author if she would do an interview and she was very happy to share some information about herself and Archon.

What I liked:

The dynamics of Heaven and Hell in this book are really gray. Elements of witchery, angels gone amok and priests that have a lot to hide made this a page turner that you won't want to put down.

What I didn't:

The term "blood head" was odd. I get the gist of it, but wished there was another term that rolled off the tongue better, so to speak. I keep seeing trolls with redcaps and bloody wounds when I hear the phrase. 


The plot was well formed, the characters compelling, dialogue believable, action non stop and I love that there will be more in the series. If you enjoy books about angels, teens with edgy attitudes, witchy characters with an agenda and boarding schools with lots of intrigue, you need to give this book a try.


Now for the interview!!!

1. What first interested you in the politics between Heaven and Hell?

When I first thought about the version of Heaven and Hell that I wanted to create, I envisioned these realms not in a spiritual sense, but more with the idea that Heaven and Hell were other worlds with creatures and beings calling them home much like we call Earth home.  It then followed that angels and demons would have their own culture, and since they were advanced beings, their own kind of government and "political system."  The idea of the Devil's failed war against Heaven also being a revolt against a decadent regime instantly followed.  I knew this would also be a story that had a very intense past influencing a very dramatic present, and so it followed that the political drama that makes up the history of our three great angels Israfel, Lucifel, and Raziel would be as important as the supernatural side of things.

2. What is it that inspired you to write about "blood heads" and the idea that an angel can be killed and brought to life again within a human being?

In Archon the term "blood heads" is a derogatory name for people with red hair.  They are called "blood heads" because at least one of them will be the prophesied Ruin of humanity, making their destiny a "bloody" one.  Thus, the red hair is seen as symbolic of the Archon's dark future.  My creative reasoning behind this actually had to do with witches.  In the past, red hair was sometimes seen as the mark of a witch or someone with supernatural powers.  In Archon, all blood heads are suspected of being the prophesied dark messiah, especially those with said supernatural powers.  To me, it all just interconnected seamlessly.

    The idea of an angel being killed and brought back within a human host had a lot to do with how I wanted to portray angels and demons in the novel.  In the world of Archon angels are superior beings and immortal, but they can be killed.  It this followed that they would have a soul that could possibly possess a host or even reincarnate, much like a human ghost or spirit.  Tha "afterlife" for angels and demons is hinted at very subtly in the novel, but explored much more in the later installments of the trilogy.  To explain any more would involve major spoilers!

3. Do you write to music? Is there a playlist for your book that gets you in the right frame of mind?

I wouldn't say there's a definite playlist, but yes, I write a lot of scenes to music! Or, maybe I should say I listen to the music and then write the scene after that extra little bit of inspiration.  I listened to everything from Lady Gaga to the soundtracks to Pirates of the Caribbean and The Dark Knight while writing Archon.  The Dark Knight probably makes the most sense. lol

4. In your books, the Devil, commonly known as a man, is a woman. Can you tell us how you came to see Her in that light?

The Devil being a woman instead of a man just felt so right for the story.  I'll admit, I was so tired of how the Devil is portrayed in most books and movies that I really wanted to do something different, yet complimentary to tradition at the same time.  So part of the decision was just me trying to think outside of the box.  However, Lucifel (the name of the Devil in Archon) and Israfel were in many ways meant to be two sides of the same coin.  Much of Lucifel's masculine behavior and demeanor has to do with her jealousy of her angelic sibling.  Also, it felt right that as the Archon's number one rival for supremacy, she was a female who will battle another female on equal grounds.

5. Usually, the sides of good and evil are very black and white. In your book, they operate on multiple shades of gray and often the lines blur. Can you tell us how you came to create this world?

In this story, angels and demons are more like alien beings than they are embodiments of pure good or evil.  But to explain further, this is also a story demonstrating the  unsettling idea that good and evil can, in some cases, amount to a point of view.  For instance, in some cultures of the world a certain action might be considered terrible, while in another and for the same action, no one would bat an eyelash. I think this quality of the novel also emphasizes that realistically, no villain is 100 percent evil, just as no hero would be 100 percent good.  Every character has their own motivations, dreams, dark secrets, and hopes that move them in one direction or another, regardless of whether they are angels, demons, or humans.

6. The idea that the insane can see into the abyss and glimpse what we can not is an idea long put out there for discussion. Do you think that is true?

I think it is very true that "there is a fine line between genius and insanity."  Very often, people with fractured minds seem to see a world that perhaps is always in front of us, but which our conscious minds have learned to filter out.  If you are talking about the supernatural, I firmly believe that altered states of mind sometimes reveal "another side" to reality that is often off limits to human senses, and usually for very good reasons.

7. You use arcane magic and church mythology in an inspired way. How did you find them intertwined and what first made you think of merging them?

Theology and "magic" go hand in hand when you are talking about angels or demons.  Most of the "religious" inspiration for Archon was taken from what we might call the arcane face of Christianity, how it deals with the occult.  If you are taking an excorcism at face value, for example, you are dealing with a supernatural creature who is being commanded and manipulated by words (in that case by a priest).  It all seemed to come together so well for Archon, where you have a city like Luz dominated by the supernatural and an almost medieval atmosphere, where angels and demons are taken seriously and feared for the powers that they possess.  Most real life books about angels and demons speak about them quite convincingly, and I wanted that tone to permeate the novel. I hope that answers your question!

8. What are you working on now?

Right now, I am working on Book 2 in The Books of Raziel trilogy, as well as another YA project I have had on the backburner since publishing Archon.  Book 2 has the working title of Covenant and takes us from Luz and farther into the supernatural realms that make up the trilogy.  The main conflict of Book 2 centers a lot around the Archon's decision to become a force for that indefinable good or evil, and how that choice can be made in the face of a dark destiny that seems inescapable.  Whereas Book One has a dark atmosphere of foreboding, Book Two has a breathtaking beauty and solemnity to it and moments of great heroism and emotion.  Angela really comes into her own as both a heroine and a force to be reckoned with.

9. For any would be writers out there, what is one piece of advice you would give them to help them succeed?

To all would be writers, there is one key to this industry.  It is always good to have talent, and a great and original idea for your book, but no one will ever read it if you don't have persistence.  No matter how many rejections you receive (and believe me, every author and writer gets them at some point) you have to write and write and send out your work until you're blue in the face.  Do that, and you will achieve your dreams.  It all comes down to how much you want it.  Ask yourself about your writing, "If no one ever read my book/story, would I be happy?"  If the answer is "no" then don't stop.

10. What is one book that inspired you as a writer and why?

The number one book that inspired me as a writer was The Lord of the Rings.  No matter how cliche it sounds, it is not only one of the best trilogies ever written, but it is the perfect example of sucessfully creating a fantasy world that seems only a step away from reality. Its only downside is that it starts slowly--but let's face it, the rules of popular fiction were different decades ago.  Sometimes novels that require a little bit of patience turn out to be the most spectacular. :-)

Many thanks to Sabrina for taking the time for this interview!