Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"Waiting On" Wednesday - Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole

"Waiting On" Wednesday spotlights upcoming releases that everyone's excited about (created by Jill at Breaking The Spine.)

Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole:

Army Officer. Fugitive. Sorcerer.

Across the country and in every nation, people are waking up with magical talents. Untrained and panicked, they summon storms, raise the dead, and set everything they touch ablaze.

Army officer Oscar Britton sees the worst of it. A lieutenant attached to the military's Supernatural Operations Corps, his mission is to bring order to a world gone mad. Then he abruptly manifests a rare and prohibited magical power, transforming him overnight from government agent to public enemy number one.

The SOC knows how to handle this kind of situation: hunt him down--and take him out. Driven into an underground shadow world, Britton is about to learn that magic has changed all the rules he's ever known, and that his life isn't the only thing he's fighting for.

Sounds like a techno-thriller take on an urban fantasy concept . . . I really like it!

How about you? What are you waiting on this week?
[Jan 31, 2012]

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

INTERVIEW: Naomi Clark (author of Dark Hunt)

Good morning, all! Please extend a very warm welcome to Naomi Clark, author of the Urban Wolf series, including Silver Kiss and Dark Hunt, urban fantasy with a lesbian twist, from QueeredFiction Press.

Naomi lives in Cambridge and is a mild-mannered office worker by day, but a slightly crazed writer by night. She has a perfectly healthy obsession with giant sea creatures and a preference for vodka-based cocktails. When she's not writing, Naomi is probably either reading or watching 80s cartoon shows, and sometimes she manages to do all three at once.

Before we get into Naomi's interview, let's take a quick look at Dark Hunt, the newest installment in her Urban Wolf series:

Ayla Hammond is taking on Paris. Hoping for a romantic getaway in the City of Lights with her girlfriend, Shannon, she finds a city under the dark thrall of Le Monstre. Getting caught up in mystery and murder was the last thing Ayla and Shannon expected to find in the City of Love, but as the body count grows and tension rises between Parisian werewolves and humans they find themselves stalked by an unknown terror. What is Le Monstre and why does it make Ayla's wolf want to turn tail and run? Can it be stopped before they become its next victims?

And now, without further ado, please welcome Naomi Clark!


♥ Thanks for stopping by Naomi! For those who may be new to your writing, and who haven't yet checked out your latest release, please tell us a little about yourself.

I'm an urban fantasy author with a passion for werewolves, based in the UK. I've been published by Damnation Books (my Shoregrave series about a ghost tour guide who hunts vampires at night) and QueeredFiction (my Urban Wolf series about a werewolf and her PI girlfriend), and have lots of short stories flying around the internet too!

♥ The journey from 'aspiring' to 'accomplished' can be a long one, even in the era of small presses and digital publishing. When did you begin writing, and how did you feel when you first saw your work in print?

I've always written! I really can't remember how old I was when I wrote my first story (which was probably about ponies), but I don't remember a time when I wasn't writing something. I was thirteen when I sent my first novel off to a publisher who, quite rightly, rejected it. It wasn't until I finished university in 2005 that I got really serious about getting published and making a career as an author, and in 2009 my first novel, AFTERLIFE, was released. It was a completely surreal feeling – scary, exhilarating, and very motivational!

♥ Did you deliberately choose a genre because there's something specific that draws you to it, something you feel it offers that other genres don't, or was it just 'right' for the story you wanted to tell?

I've always been geared towards the supernatural and mystical, and when I was first writing, I wrote high fantasy. I discovered Anita Blake in my teens and realised this was what I wanted to do – bring the supernatural into the real world. So I almost feel like the genre chose me, rather than the other way round. The stories in my head were already right for urban fantasy.

♥ How does your past influence your writing? Are you conscious of relating the story to your own experiences?

I travelled a lot as a kid, because my dad was in the army, and I love setting stories in places foreign to me. I think subconsciously a part of you always leaks through into the writing, but I try to keep myself out of my characters as much as possible – I don't want to share my thoughts and feelings with readers; I want them to hear my characters'.

♥ Do you have a schedule or a routine to your writing? Is there a time and place that you must write, or do you let the words flow as they demand?

I work a full-time day job, so most of my writing is done in the evenings and at the weekends. Beyond that, there's no set routine. Most nights I get about 1-2k written, and if I can sneak in any extra writing at work, I do! I try not to work on more than one thing at once, but sometimes a new idea will hit me in the middle of a current project and I get distracted, so at times like that I will just go with the flow and work on what appeals to my imagination most!

♥ Do you have a soundtrack to your writing, a particular style of music or other background noise that keeps you in the mood, or do you require quiet solitude?

Mostly I have the TV on in the background, as I write in my living room and my other half is usually watching something or playing a computer game. If I'm alone, I listen to music – Tori Amos, AFI, and Blaqk Audio are my favourites to write to at the moment, although sometimes I'll make up a soundtrack for a particular book.

♥ For some authors, it's coming up with a title, and for others it's writing that first paragraph ♥ what do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing?

Editing! I could tinker with a book forever and still think of things I wanted to change, so editing can be quite painful for me. My record is eleven rewrites...and I'd probably still be rewriting that book if I hadn't decided to bite the bullet and just self-publish it so it wasn't haunting me anymore!

♥ Sometimes, characters can take on a life of their own, pulling the story in directions you hadn't originally anticipated. Has a twist or turn in your writing ever surprised you, or really challenged your original plans?

I finished the first draft of the third Urban Wolf book in September, and that turned out completely differently to how I imagined – a lot more politics, a lot less inter-personal stuff. When I do the rewrite, I'll try to balance it out and get in the personal scenes I originally planned to include, as it will all contribute to the next book.

♥ When you're not writing (or reading), what are some of the hobbies and passions that keep you happy?

I got introduced to D&D this year, which has become a surprisingly big part of my life. I never imagined I'd get quite so into it as I have! I also have two snakes, who can be quite demanding, and I'd love to add to the collection and get some geckos in the future.

♥ Just for fun, who would you single out as your number one celebrity crush, and what would you like most to do with/to them?

Right now it's Chris Hemsworth. I'm not sure what I'd do with him...Probably just stare like an idiot...

♥ If you could live a day in the world of someone else's story, whose would you choose, and why?

I always, always, always wanted a dragon, so I'd pick Anne McCaffrey's Pern series. Spending a day flying around on a dragon sounds perfect to me.

♥ What can we look forward to from you next? Is there a project on the horizon that you're really excited about?

I'm currently working on a new Shoregrave book, which has me excited as I get to revisit one of my favourite characters, Ethan Banning, a demon-possessed PI. After that, I'll be redrafting the third Urban Wolf book, which will be a big challenge, but I think it'll be worth it if I can make the book into what I want it to be.


Thanks so much to Naomi for stopping by! If you'd like to check out more of her work, please do visit her at, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Top Ten Books on my TBR List for This Winter

Top Ten Tuesday is an weekly meme hosted by Lori, over at The Broke and the Bookish (love that title - it sooo explains my credit card statement!). Each week participants list their Top Ten choices for a weekly theme.

This week's theme is the Top Ten Books on my TBR List for This Winter. My list is subject to change, based on whatever happens to come in for review, but the top 10 reads I have lined up for pure pleasure are (in no particular order):



Monday, November 28, 2011

REVIEW: Golden Dancer by Tara Lain

Golden Dancer is a story of contrasts, featuring an nice guy living the sordid life of an investigative reporter, a carefree billionaire acting the role of art thief, and a ballet dancer whose androgynous beauty masks his hypermasculine skill and agility. It's the story where nothing is immediately what it seems, including the 'straight' reporter who finds himself to inexplicably attracted to a dancer for the second time in his life.

Make no mistake, this is one hot read, featuring some very inventive scenes of man-on-man-on-man love. It's both steamy and romantic, sometimes at the same time, with a ménage that should be awkward . . . bordering on uncomfortable even . . . but which is just more exhilirating for the element of danger. More importantly, it's a story where the threesome seems to develop quite naturally, without any convenient bets, dares, or coincidences to set things in motion.

This is also a solid mystery story, however, featuring some thrilling scenes of action and adventure, gorgeous set pieces, and a great collection of supporting characters. I got so engrossed in the storyline that, at times, I completely forgot this was an erotic romance, and was almost shocked to find a trio of naked men emerging onto the page!

Well-written, and just close enough to the edge of plausible to be both realistic and fun, this is a book that could definitely make a Tara Lain fan out of you.

Mailbox Monday, What I'm Reading, and What's Beside my Bed

Don't forget - you still have 3 days to enter Chris Lindberg giveaway of an e-book copy of his new thriller, Code of Darkness!

In My Mailbox, It's Monday, What are you Reading, and What's Beside Your Bed are weekly memes hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, Sheila at Book Journey, and Nanny at Getting Naughty Between the Stacks. Both are great ways to share the books you're either reading, or shifting to the top of your TBR pile (because, let's face it, sometimes a little shifting is the best we can manage!).


Nothing new this week . . . gasp! Time to catch up on my reading. :)

Once again, I'm hopping between books as the mood grabs me. Teasing me for time and seducing my attentions from beside my bed this week are:

The Athena Project by Brad Thor
11/22/63 by Stephen King
The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey

Well, that's it for now . . . what are you reading?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Hops, Follows, and Tag Alongs, Oh My!

The 18 & Over Book Blogger Follow is a weekly feature that begins on Fridays and runs through the weekend, hosted by Crystal from Reading Between the Wines.

Q. No question this week, since it's a holiday weekend for us US folks. Just stop on by your fellow 18 & Over Bloggers if you have the time and say "Hi!" J

Wishing everyone a fabulous Thanksgiving and a wonderful weekend!

It's also time for the Friday Follow, courtesy of Parajunkee's View!

Q. It’s Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. so we want to know what you are Thankful for – blogging related of course! Who has helped you out along the way? What books are you thankful for reading?

A. There are so many people I'm thankful for, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Alice Novic (author of Alice in Genderland), who I got to know very well during my spring celebration; Giselle Renarde (author of Red Satin Christmas, the 3rd in her Red Satin series), who has long been one of my biggest supporters and favourite authors; the good folks at JMS Books, Bold Strokes Books, and Cleis Press, who have been wonderful in providing early reads and fantastic giveaways; my fellow bloggers, Nanny, Mike, and Diana, who I can always count on for a visit and a few kind word; and (of course) my fellow readers who make this all so much fun.

Finally, it's time for TGIF, is a weekly feature created and hosted by GReads! that re-caps the week’s posts and has different question each week.

Q. When You're Not Reading: What occupies your time when your nose isn't stuck in a book?

A. I'm tempted to say writing, but that's far too easy an answer . . . instead I'll go with hiking. I love to get outdoors and just wander off the trail, exploring those hidden places that are so naturally beautiful, and yet so easy to miss. I'm also a bit of a rock-hound and fossil hunter, so I definitely don't mind getting dirty (and enduring a few scrapes and bruises) to retrieve something special.

As always, I urge you to hop around to some new blogs, tag along with some new friends, and find some great new reviews to follow. I always find something new to delight me!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

REVIEW: Sovereign Erotics edited by Qwo-Li Driskill

What a wonderfully diverse, beautifully inclusive collection Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-spirit Literature is! I was fortunate enough to have the chance to review an advance copy of the book, and it provided me with countless hours of both entertainment and thoughtful reflection. I had hoped to get a review posted before it hit stores, to help generate some advance buzz, but I just couldn't force myself to rush through it. There's such a wide range of authors, styles, and content here, with so many new ideas and histories, that I found myself rereading sections of it over and over again.

The book starts with a definition/discussion of the term two-spirit, which could encompass book all on its own. I won't get into semantics here, so I will just settle for the blanket explanation that this is a collection by, for, and about Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Two-Spirit members of the Native American community. There's a passage in the introduction that I realise only tells part of the story, but which I found particularly interesting:

For other Native people, terms like 'lesbian' and 'queer' are seen as part of dominant Euro-American constructions of sexuality that have little to do with the more complicated gender systems in many Native traditions.

What follows is, as I said, a collection of material as diverse in content and form as it is in terms of sexuality ad gender. Deborah Miranda's Coyote Takes a Trip is one of my favourite pieces, contrasting a young man's accidental and joyous discovery of his heritage on a Venice Beach bus ride with historical quotes from 18th century missionaries regarding their horrific discovery of that same heritage. Louis Emse Cruz's Birth Song for Muin, in Red is another one that struck me, particularly the repeated theme of a "young girl in boy skin."

As much as I'm drawn to the more straightforward narratives, pieces like William Raymond Taylor's Something Wants to Be Said, a poem that manages to evoke more emotion in a single page than most novels, and Qwo-Li Driskill's (Auto)biography of Mad, a back-of-the-book style subject index of his life, complete with page numbers and other references, absolutely demanded my full attention. At the same time, Dan Taulapapa McMull's wonderful poem, A Drag Queen Named Pipi, packs more wonder and beauty into its 5 syllable lines than should be possible.

Ander's Awakening, by Daniel Heath Justice, is the longest piece in the collection and one that I had to read twice - once for the story, and again for the language. Young Ander views sees himself in dreams of an all-consuming spiritual fire that will change everything. The moment when he is gifted with his new name, Denarra Syrene, is one of the most beautiful passages I have ever read:

Ander felt a hot tremor pulse through his body, a rush of recognition as true and certain as the view in the looking glass. "Yes," he whispered, "That's my name. That's who I am."

An absolutely fascinating read, regardless of your race, ethnicity, sexuality, or gender, this is a book I am simply overjoyed I had the opportunity to explore.

REVIEW: Hostage in Time by Linda Lauren

Amanda is a young, suddenly out-of-work photographer, who drags her best friend along on a tour of historical homes. Like any good photographer, her quest to capture the perfect moment takes her away from the group and into the off-limits areas upstairs. It is there that she slips through into the past, landing her in the late 1900s, where her presence – and her camera – land her in a difficult situation.

Overall, Hostage in Time is a warm-and-fuzzy time-travel romance, very much in the spirit of Richard Matheson’s Somewhere in Time. The historical elements are clearly well-researched and woven naturally into the story. There’s no attempt to dazzle the reader with details, and none of the annoying info-dumping that so often plagues time travel stories. Instead, Linda simply grounds us in the past, occasionally reminding us of the 125 years separating us from Amanda, but doesn’t belabour the point.

Romantically, this is a wonderful story, and one that develops slowly, but which hooks you with the romantic potential early on. Watching Amanda attempt to not only fit in, but befriend the suspicious Jonathan, you can’t help but wish for them to realise what’s blossoming between them. The story takes a bit of a darker twist when they’re set-up for treason but, as is often the case, it’s this added adversity that finally brings them together.

This is also a very spiritual book, in terms of the human spirit and our connection to one another at the deepest, most primal level. When Linda does reminds us of years that have passed, it’s less to trumpet the advancements and inventions that most time-travel stories focus upon, but to reinforce the notion that people are people, whenever and wherever they may be. As a sceptic, I was afraid that having the would-be-lovers visit a spiritual medium to understand their destiny would pull me out of the story, but the sincerity with which Linda writes kept me engaged.

I won't spoil the ending, other than to say it is the epitome of happily-ever-after, but I will say I appreciated the brief epilogue. Carrie's role in the story added a much-needed bit of humour and sentiment to the story, and I think her final scene is probably one of my favourite.

REVIEW: She-Cat by Natasza Luca

She-Cat is a deliciously odd story about a dangerously seductive woman who is as secretive, curious, and callous as a cat. She's not a woman you would want to cross, and perhaps not even a woman you'd want to befriend for, like the wickedest of cats, she has claws and is liable to turn.

Coming into the story, I expected something a bit more comic, but was quite delighted to find that it was, instead, darkly and suggestively amusing. This is not a laugh-out-loud story, but a guilty-kind-of-smirk and smile story. You can't help but appreciate Felicia's catlike qualities, and her personality is so carefully constructed that witty little double-entendres come across as cruelly playful.

The way in which she toys with her neighbours, Janey and Jesse, is wholly unnerving. Half of her intentions are good (the half which involves rescuring Janey from her boyfriend's abuse), but her methods are definitely chilling. As for the other half of her intentions . . . well, let's just say it leads to a new and awkward kind of relationship that leaves you feeling a little on edge.

Thoroughly enjoyable, I'd definitely recommend this to anyone who likes a quirky story about a darkly seductive heroine who is as both as good and as wicked as her word.

REVIEW: Say Yes, Alice by Sidonie Spice

Short, hot, and suggestively taboo, Sidonie Spice's Say Yes, Alice makes for a fantastic late-night read.

The formative years of Alice's adolescent life saw her being babysat by the two young women next door. Intrigued by their relationship, and excited by her late-night glimpses of their lovemaking, Alice continued to insist upon their presence long after most young women would have been proclaiming their maturity and demanding their independence.

Now eighteen, Alice no longer has the opportunity to watch, but she can still hear through the paper-thin walls of their building. Of course, sound goes both ways, and she soon discovers that her ex-babysitters have been listening to her pleasuring herself to the sounds of their lovemaking . . . and have decided to invite her to join them.

What follows is a wonderful night of sexual discovery and amorous education involving the three women that carries with it a suggestion of the taboo, turning babysitters into teachers, and which forges a newbond between the three young women. Graphic, but not vulgar, this is a deliciously erotic tale!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Code of Darkness by Chris Lindberg

Good morning, all, and welcome to another exciting  The Virtual Book Tour stop, this time with Chris Lindberg, author of the sci-fi thriller, Code of Darkness. Chris has been gracious enough to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a e-book copy, so stay tuned for full details following my review!

Chris was born and raised outside Chicago, Illinois.  After graduating from Northern Illinois University in the mid-1990s, he headed out to the west coast for a couple of years, where he began writing as a casual pastime.  Some time after returning to Chicago he began attending writers workshops at StoryStudio Chicago, where he wrote two character studies, both of which have since been developed into key characters in Code of Darkness.  Chris now lives outside Chicago with his wife Jenny and their two children, Luke and Emma.  You might catch him working away on his second novel while commuting on his morning train into the city.

SYNOPSIS: When a routine bank robbery takes an unexpected turn, veteran Chicago police officer Larry Parker witnesses a heroic act by a mysterious intervener. But seconds later the Samaritan disappears, leaving Larry only with unanswered questions. Suddenly, vigilante activity begins popping up all over the city – including several murders. Larry begins to gather the missing pieces of the puzzle, and finds evidence the Samaritan might be tied to them. When he learns the man’s identity – a loner known only by the name Rage – he prepares to move in for the arrest. But there is much more to Rage than meets the eye: the case has also drawn the attention of a covert Black Ops division within the Pentagon. Their mission: find Rage, while keeping their operation out of the public eye. Seen as knowing too much, Larry suddenly finds himself in the crosshairs as well. After a deadly standoff, Rage is captured, forcing Larry to search for answers while on the run. The deadly chase leads cross-country to a top-secret military facility in Virginia, where Rage and Larry uncover the greatest danger of all -- and only they can stop the unthinkable from happening.

REVIEW: Code of Darkness starts with a rather simple scenario – a bank robbery – that very quickly goes wrong, only to be set right by the intervention of a mysterious stranger.  If it sounds like a big budget action flick scenario, or the opening of a DC comic book, then you’re on the right track. This is a story that’s big and bold, full of big ideas, even bigger conspiracies, and the kind of sci-fi tinged action that goes just far enough so as to stretch your disbelief, without becoming cartoonish.

What sets this apart from the standard Hollywood thriller is the way in which the lines between good and evil, between hero and villain, are slightly blurred. While it’s easy to decide who to root for, it’s not always so comfortable being on their side. Good people are forced to do bad things, and bad people . . .  well, it’s no surprise that there are always ulterior motives behind anything they might do.

If you’re a fan of the darker superheroes, comic book rogues like Wolverine or the Punisher, then I suspect you’ll take to Rage as well as I did. In many ways he reminded me of Jack Bauer (of TV’s 24) at his meanest and darkest, a man with the best of intentions, who honestly believes the end justifies the means. Elias Todd (aka Asset One) is definitely harder to like, coming off a career as a mercenary assassin, but you can’t help but feel for his role in the conspiracy. If all of that makes you feel a little dirty for wanting to enjoy it, Larry Parker (police officer) and Mira Givens (social worker) not only serve the reader’s perspective into events, but also as heroic palate/conscience cleansers.

Generally, I’m not a fan of the short, quick chapters, but they lend themselves well to a story like this. Instead of becoming unwelcome breaks in the narrative, they’re more like quick scene changes, giving the book that blockbuster, Hollywood feel. Having said that, the character building is fantastic (both the heroes and the villains), the government conspiracy angle is probably a bit too clever and well thought out for Hollywood, and the ending . . . well, I’d rather not spoil the ending.


As I mentioned earlier, Chris Lindberg has offered up an e-book copy of Code of Darkness to one lucky reader!

To enter, simply leave a comment below . . . it's that easy . . . and I'll pick a winner via on December 1st. For bonus entries, let me know if you've added Code of Darkness to your Goodreads shelf, and whether you've marked my review as 'helpful' over at Amazon.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of The Virtual Book Tour Cafe' and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by The Virtual Book Tour Cafe', no payment was received by me in exchange for this review nor was there an obligation to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely of my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*