Showing Some Needy Love at Book Lovers, Inc.

Book Lovers Inc Man, am I ever excited to finally be able to bust out some happy news I've been wanting to share for a while! Today, I've been officially added to the awesome book blogging team known as Book Lovers, Inc.  BLI has easily been my favorite book blog, with a freaking rockstar band of blogger contributors, a great community of readers, and fantastic content not easily matched elsewhere. Indeed, "fortunate" and "blessed" are just two ways of many to describe how I feel about being counted amongst its ranks.

But anywho, I'll be providing contributions as "The Needy Lover"--'cos really, is there anything better than having that need to read? ^_^ Also being brought on at the same time is Anna of Books to Brighten Your Mood. She's the Coffee Lover, and she is pure, undiluted awesomeness...a bright spirit, as her blog name suggests. It's a pleasure to have the pleasure to work with her, as well as with all of the other Book Lovers.

If you have not yet been acquainted with the Book Lovers, I'd highly recommend you do; the site is constantly teeming with book reviews, author interviews, giveaways, news on the book world, and all sorts of reading-related special features.

So rock on. I'll be here at MNtR, and I'll be there at BLI. I hope to see you at both places!

Interview: Author Katie Salidas

Ahoy, mateys! Very pleased to welcome author Katie Salidas to MNtR today. She comes bearing insightful information about her writing life, her paranormal Immortalis series. If you haven't checked out the first book in the series, Carpe Noctem, hop to it! It's a lot of fun--and let's not forget, set in Las Vegas, baby! ^_^
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How long have you been writing?  What inspired you to start?
I’ve been writing since I was little. I always loved to make up stories and characters. It’s just a part of who I am. My first official writing project, was a novel I attempted to write when I was 14. I had just finished reading the Vampire Diaries series and wanted to make my own teenage story. I had most of it written and then was told we were moving from Texas to Nevada. Sadly those pages were all lost in the move. Though that accident hurt, it didn’t stop me from writing. I don’t write YA style stuff any longer, but I do still write about vampires and other such creatures of the night. They’re just so much fun to work with!  

What drew you to the paranormal genre?
I love vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and other things that go bump in the night. I remember as a kid, watching the old Dracula movies and being interested vs. scared. When I was ten, I read my first vampire book and never looked back. There is an escape there, in the supernatural world, it adds a layer to life that makes the mundane not so dull. To imagine other creatures, other beings living amongst us yet still hidden in the shadows was such an interesting concept.

Do you ever have problems with your characters doing what you wanted them to do?
All the time! LoL. I call that writer’s block. It’s also the reason I am a pantser. When I first started to write “officially” I thought I had to plot out every detail of my story ahead of time. Then my characters revolted! The refused to do what I had set out for them to do. That stalled my story and made me so frustrated at writing, I almost gave up. Then, I got some sage advice. Just relax and “free write.” I took a break and let myself write other things without a pre-planned plot. It was then that I learned I was a pantser. I don’t work well with strict rules and outlines. Now that I know that, my writing has become easier and my characters are more cooperative. 
That’s not to say I never run into writer’s block. I still do from time to time, and there are many days where I have to scrap whole chapters because I have written myself into a corner. But, even with those stumbling blocks I’m still writing and creating. 

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing/promoting or thinking about writing/editing/promoting?
You mean there is something else besides writing/editing/promoting? LoL. 
Actually, all of my non-work time is devoted to family. I work so many hours on the computer doing just that, writing, editing, and promoting that they often feel neglected. Weekends are work-free time (otherwise the family would mutiny). And family dinner, movie night, and game night are a staple in our house. 

What is your muse to help you write and keeps the creative mood flowing? 
Music helps, but not just any music will do. I have to listen to something that can become a sort of white noise. Sounds strange, I know. When I know a song inside and out, I can listen without listening, and just hear the “mood” of it. That’s when I can use it. I often use music to set the mood of my scene. 
If the music is too unfamiliar to me, my ADD kicks in and I end up listening to the words and learning the lyrics rather than just enjoying the feel of it. 
We writers are weird, huh?  

How would you pitch the Immortalis series to someone who has not heard of your books before?
My favorite line is actually the tag line to my first book. “Becoming a vampire is easy. Living with the condition, that’s the hard part.”
You might have read books about vampires, but how many of them took you step by step through the emotional turmoil of what that change actually entails? In Immortalis you’ll see a normal, everyday girl lose everything as she becomes a creature of the night. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Sure, there’s a learning curve there, but if she can overcome it, both she and you, the reader, will find that it can be pretty sweet!

Can you tell us a little bit about the world that the Immortalis series is set in? 
The Immortalis series is set in modern times. Books one and two are set in Las Vegas Nevada, which, by the way, is the best city out there for creatures of the night. Book three, Pandora’s box takes you to Boston. There you will learn even more about the world of unnatural creatures and some of their origins in Ancient Greek Mythology.  What I wanted, was to show you how easy it would be for these creatures of the night to actually exist and oftentimes co-exist within normal society.

What Other Projects can we look forward to reading from you?
Book 4 is in the works right now and I hope to have it out by spring 2012. I can’t give too much away, but suffice to say the cliffhanger of book three will be resolved!

Many super thanks to Katie Salidas for stopping by today. Like I said before, don't sleep on this series...it's a good bit of fun, and will hopefully have many, many more installments to come. ^_^

Here's a bit of info on the latest book in the Immortalis series: Pandora's Box:

After a few months as a vampire, Alyssa thought she’d learned all she needed to know about the supernatural world. But her confidence is shattered by the delivery of a mysterious package – a Pandora’s Box.
     Seemingly innocuous, the box is in reality an ancient prison, generated by a magic more powerful than anyone in her clan has ever known. But what manner of evil could need such force to contain it?
       When the box is opened, the sinister creature within is released, and only supernatural blood will satiate its thirst. The clan soon learns how it feels when the hunter becomes the hunted.
     Powerless against the ancient evil, the clan flees Las Vegas for Boston, with only a slim hope for salvation. Could Lysander’s old journals hold the key? And what if they don’t?
     And how welcome will they be in a city run by a whole different kind of supernatural being? 
Werewolves…

Stay tuned for reviews of Hunters & Prey (book 2) and Pandora's Box (book 3), here at MNtR!

Psst....this blog tour stop for Bewitching Book Tours is just one of many for the Immortalis series. Follow the link here (or hit the image below) to see what other festivities are going on! Yeuh!

Review: A Love by Any Measure by Killian McRae


Title: A Love by Any Measure
Series: n/a
Genres/Themes: historical romance, epic drama, social class differences
Author: Killian McRae

Quick Take:
Fans of sprawling, epic romances are bound to love this book. I loved the emotional buildup of the first half, but had trouble buying into the plot developments of the second. It's not for the impatient, nor for those who prefer that their main characters be without deep flaws and baggage. But by golly, it's a fascinating story.

Book Description (via Goodreads):
     August Grayson has secretly dreamt of the girl living on his family’s Irish estate since childhoods spent together in Killarney. Now a proper Lord of the British Empire, he knows that Maeve could never be more than just a distant fantasy. Still, if only... 
     Maeve O’Connor owns nothing in this world but her good name, which proves just enough to win a proposal for a marriage of convenience to a good, Irish lad. Until the wedding, however, she’s in dire straits. Rent on the cottage she and her father share is due, but there simply isn’t the money to pay. Driven to desperation, Maeve hopes Lord Grayson, her childhood-chum-turned-dashing-English-rogue, will prove lenient when she comes seeking clemency. 
     The temptation presented proves too much, and August offers Maeve a compromise: should she permit him twice as long on each succeeding visit to do whatever he wishes in pursuit of his pleasure, he will consider her rent paid. Starting with a mere five seconds, pulses soon out race the ticking clock, as August’s desires become Maeve’s own. Passion blinds them to the challenges closing in on both the Irish and English fronts, threatening to destroy the love they’ve discovered. 
     Working to bridge that which divides them, tempting fate with each stolen kiss, and torn between desire and obligation, Maeve and August must strive to overcome all and find a love by any measure...

Review:
I'm kind of in awe of Killian McRae. How she comes up with her book concepts, I don't know. But she's definitely adept at taking a simple premise and making it into something epic. She did it in her debut novel, 12.21.12 (the title of which some give a clue about the topic). Here in A Love by Any Measure, she takes the idea of a single bargain between two people, and slaps some legs on that puppy to take it across many years and many locations. Don't be fooled by the fact that there's only a line or so at the end of the blurb above that hints at complex intrigue. All told, this book is nothing if not epic.

Having a basic familiarity with Irish history during the latter half of the 19th century, while not required, provides some added import to the motivations and behaviors of the book's characters. Even without prior knowledge of the historical events, it's very clear that identity and social standing had very special importance to people of this era, for various reasons. And it's because of the status and identity that August Greyson begins the whole thread of his bargain with Maeve O'Connor.

August and Maeve's interactions in the first section of this book are positively addictive. Maeve detests the man, and yet she's drawn to him. August seems like a right jackass for even starting his agreement, and while his narrative perspective is not revealed until well into the book, his motivations are so complex, his feelings much more than might be initially assumed. I loved the interplay between the two, which lived somewhere on that thin line between love, anger, and lust. Quite compelling, emotionally turbulent stuff.

I very much appreciated that it was difficult to guess what might come next. Just when an expectation was starting to form, it'd be blown away by some unseen plot development. In the first half of the book, such twists grabbed be and kept me glued to the page. I must admit, however, that some of those same types of developments in the second half of the book made be a bit exasperated more than anything else. ^_^

As a matter of fact, I'd mentally separated the book into two halves. Whereas the first half feels more intimate and character-based, on a smaller scale and arguably more realistic, the second half is very much a huge, sensational tale. (Think The Matrix as compared to The Matrix Revolutions.) Given the relative realism of the first section, the second felt a bit theatrical, and I had trouble buying into the story and accepting that the characters would behave they did. The second half also has what I like to call "Tarantino-style" plot development; punchline first, explanation much later. (If you've seen the film Pulp Fiction, you'll know what I mean. ^_^) As such, it required a good dose of patience to get through. All told, if someone were to tell me that the two halves of A Love were in fact different books, I'd believe them in a minute.

I wouldn't count the aforementioned reservations as a reason not the read the book, however. I'd simply say that one should be patient enough to let the story unfold as it does. Overall, it's a touching and very powerful love story. It's got so much range that one is bound to be caught in some part of its spell.

Rating: 4 of 5 stars
"I really liked it."


I thought the book trailer was pretty neat. Check it out below:


Review: Goodnight Tweetheart by Teresa Medeiros



Title: Goodnight Tweetheart
Series: n/a
Genres/Themes: sweet romance, long-distance connection
Author: Teresa Medeiros

Quick Take:
This book is impossibly cute, with its engaging protagonist, charming main couple, and surprisingly well-managed format of communication by 140-character tweet. It's an easy, quick read that will almost certainly have you grinning from ear to ear.

Book Description (via Goodreads):
     Abigail Donovan has a lot of stuff she should be doing. Namely writing her next novel. A bestselling author who is still recovering from a near Pulitzer Prize win and the heady success that follows Oprah’s stamp of approval, she is stuck at Chapter Five and losing confidence daily. But when her publicist signs her up for a Twitter account, she’s intrigued. What’s all the fuss?
     Taken under the wing of one of her Twitter followers, “MarkBaynard"—a quick witted, quick-typing professor on sabbatical—Abby finds it easy to put words out into the world 140 characters at a time. And once she gets a handle on tweets, retweets, direct messages, hashtags, and trends, she starts to feel unblocked in writing and in life. After all, why should she be spending hours in her apartment staring at her TweetDeck and fretting about her stalled career when Mark is out there traveling the world andliving?
     Or is he?
     Told almost entirely in tweets and DMs, Goodnight Tweetheart is a truly modern take on a classic tale of love and loss—a Griffin and Sabine for the Twitter generation.

Review:

When I first heard about this book, I was both intrigued and wary…and both of those reactions had to do with the book's premise of "Girl Meets Boy on Twitter. Numerous Tweets Ensue." Though described by the author as inspired by Sleepless in Seattle-style stories--and really, what hopeless romantic wouldn't immediately want to go for that?--the thought of potentially having to read through pages of "Wat R U wearing omg lmao?/" communications was enough to make me keep the book sitting on the TBR pile.

Recently, I picked the book up and flipped through the first chapter to see what it was about. One day later, I finished the book and had a silly grin plastered on my face. This is such an adorable story! Thankfully, the apprehensions I'd once had were quite unfounded, because the sections of the book that are conveyed via tweet (or twitter direct message) are quite accessible, even fading into the background as the actual communication between the main characters comes through. Though I imagine some of the more adept Twitterers out there might get an extra kick out of the book's premise, there's far more to the story than that particular method of communication.

The story is narrated in the first-person by novelist Abigail Donovan, and I must say that she was such a pleasure to follow. Her considerable and very humbling fall from the limelight both amuses and allows the reader to relate to her. Her introduction to the world of Twitter was believable, as was her being sucked into the easy form of communication that the site allows. It was her journey from seemingly defeated writer to optimistic and productive artist that kept me hooked.

Of course, there was also the budding connection between Abby and Mark. ^_^ Theirs was a chaste, butterflies-in-tummy-inducing relationship. The author's inspiration by Sleepless in Seattle absolutely showed; the level of sweetness is considerable, but there is also a measure of emotional peaks and valleys. I laughed, I cried, I went and downloaded TweetDeck.

To whom would I recommend this book? Golly, anyone who enjoys sweet, romantic stories. If you liked Sleepless or You've Got Mail…then you've got to get this one. Even thinking about the book now brings a smile to my face. ^_^

Rating: 4 of 5 stars
"I really liked it."

Guest Post by Author Natalie-Nicole Bates

I've said it before, and I'll say it again...I absolutely love hearing about the journey that a person takes in getting that story from concept to finished written piece. The paths may differ, the the glory of achievment rocks all the same. ^_^ Today, I'm pleased to welcome Natalie-Nicole Bates, author of Antique Charming. She discusses her very own adventure in discovering her love of writing.
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From Book Lover To Book Author
By Natalie-Nicole Bates

I have always been a voracious reader ever since I was a child. I was the twelve-year-old kid in the corner reading Harold Robbins and Sidney Sheldon. I remember being swept away in Sheldon’s Master of the Game and Robbins’ Goodbye, Janette. Influenced by these masters, I knew I wanted to write someday.

A few years ago, I spent a week in the hospital after an ill-fated skateboard stunt. I sent my partner to the bookstore to get as many Harlequin and Silhouette books he could find. That week I reached my all time record for the number of books read—24 books in one week!
More than a year ago, I decided to try making the big leap from reader to writer. I knew it couldn’t be accomplished by simply sitting down at the computer and pounding out a 350-page story. There were building blocks to creating a novel—idea, setting, plot, scene, point of view—to name a few.

I enrolled in an intensive six-month course in the art of novel writing. I was paired with a mentor, and was ready to writing this sweeping mainstream saga involving two people who had wills that left them a piece of property. My mentor said, you belong in the romance genre. This was best advice I could get.

This past summer, I finished my first novel, a contemporary romance called Change of Address. To my delight, I sold it to Secret Cravings Publishing in just a week.

After I signed the contract, I was hit by an idea for a paranormal story. I knew that I wanted it to be short, just a small bite for a reader to enjoy, and hopefully if I could sell it, it would be my introduction to all of the readers in this world. During a particularly frenzied episode of writing, I finished the story in a day. After editing, I sold the story to Books To Go Now. This is how Antique Charming came to be. I hope you will enjoy Antique Charming and consider it my hello to you.

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A lovely "hello," indeed. And wow...24 books in a week sounds like heaven (even given the necessary physical recovery). ^_^

A big "thank you" to Natalie-Nicole Bates for her visit today. Just as her personal tale is a pleasure to read, her story, Antique Charming, is a bundle of preciousness. It's a cute little tale about love that (quite literally) transcends time. Here's a peek...



The night he came home…forever

     Third-generation funeral director Lizzie Morton is about to have her dream realized. She has purchased the long abandoned Nichols Funeral Home and its upstairs flat, determined to restore the funeral home to its once former glory. 
     But a late night visitor, Adam Nichols, claims the funeral home still belongs to his family. Lizzie scoffs at his odd behaviour and outlandish claims, but when a vintage photograph appears, she soon realizes, to her horror, that Adam Nichols did once own the funeral home—more than one hundred years ago—and now she has allowed this entity to pass into her home.


Book Trailer on YouTube http://youtu.be/Z1U7hlZ0koQ

Find the book at:
Hey, peeps...this has been but one stop on a tour for Bates's Antique Charming. To get more info about Bates and her work, you'll definitely want to check out some of the other stops! And stay tuned for the review of Antique Charming here at MNtR.

Click image for tour links!

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