Monday, July 29, 2013

Book Review: Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson

Blurb: In the vast dominion of Seven Cities, in the Holy Desert Raraku, the seer Sha'ik and her followers prepare for the long-prophesied uprising known as the Whirlwind. Unprecedented in size and savagery, this maelstrom of fanaticism and bloodlust will embroil the Malazan Empire in one of the bloodiest conflicts it has ever known, shaping destinies and giving birth to legends . . .
Set in a brilliantly realized world ravaged by dark, uncontrollable magic, this thrilling novel of war, intrigue and betrayal confirms Steven Eirkson as a storyteller of breathtaking skill, imagination and originality--a new master of epic fantasy.

I give it 4 stars

My review

If you like Lord of the Rings, you may want to give Deadhouse Gates a try. This is epic fantasy on a massive scale. Intriguing and uniquely individual characters, a beautifully described world, a no holds barred view of the atrocities of war, and an interesting magical system make this a must read for any fantasy fan. The only reason this isn't a five star book for me, is because it was perhaps a little too complex and vast. There is so much going on in this book that the story often dwarfs the characters and for me characters are the most important part of a story. Still, this is a book I would highly recommend.

Amazon link:

Friday, July 26, 2013

Free Books!!

It's the final day of the Blogger Book Fair and I've had some great guests on my blog to talk about their wonderful and exciting books. Today, I'd like to talk a little about my own books. I'll be giving away some free copies of each so if you're interested, please leave a comment and let me know. Below, you can see the cover art and a random paragraph from each book.

He paused at the curtain, listening to the conversation going on within the temple.  Daemon's voice yes, and there, Valeria.  No doubt about that, he could sense the subtle pull of her magic with every word she spoke.


How he hated her, as he had never hated anyone before. He would give almost anything to be rid of her, but there was no way out of this marriage. Daemon pressed a hand to the side of his head, where a dull pain throbbed to the beat of his heart. He had meant to tell Gazella everything, to try and explain so she could understand and perhaps be less hurt. But if it was rumors and whispers she was so fond of, let her get her information from them. He would tell her nothing.



There is nothing as stomach churning as finding yourself looking up at an angry dragon. She glared at both of us, no doubt trying to decide which one she wanted to unleash her fury on first.
The screeching alarm, the pulsing light, ceased and Charlie knew that he was dead. Funny, he would have expected being ripped to bloody bits to hurt more. But there was pain, in his ribs, his knees, his hand, and surely you weren’t supposed to feel pain after you were dead. And there, the rapid beat of his heart, mirrored in Spree, and that he was sure you wouldn’t feel if you were dead.
Charlie thought on all she had said for a long moment. There was some fragmented memory of a faded dream in his mind, a dream of a war with great winged things in the sky. But it was a dim memory and elusive and somehow not his own.
Micayta found herself staring into a rather bright pair of brown eyes and quickly dropped her gaze to her brother’s face. His skin was pale with a faintly blue tint; ice clung to his eyelashes. She pulled off her gloves and rubbed his cheeks, hoping to get the circulation going again. He was so cold, not like a living a person at all. A flash of her father set her eyes to tearing despite her best efforts to bite back the unwelcome emotion.
Staring back into his dark eyes, Jada felt a little flutter in her chest. He had the kind of eyes a girl might lose herself in if she weren’t careful, eyes that gazed at her with a heat that was both frightening and exhilarating.
Red fire and blue met to blast the double doors outward. Jada was off and running down the porch steps even as a shower of splinters rained down all around her. There were cries and startled shouts, but she paid no heed to any of this. She called up her flaming sword and met the first guard brave enough to step to her. Sparks flew as fire and steel collided.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Author Interview: Juli Caldwell

It's day four of the Blogger Book Fair, and today I interview Juli Caldwell, author of Psyched.

What inspired you to write this book?


My wandering mind. No, seriously! I graduated from college a little later in life (*cough* collegedropout*cough*). I’ve always been a writer, so I decided to finish what I started and get a degree in English. I can’t remember what class I was in at the time (probably linguistics or something similarly boring) and my main character arrived fully formed and all kinds of sassy in my head when I should have been listening to the lecture. I may or may not have started writing instead of taking notes!


Can you give us an interesting fact about your book that isn't in the blurb?


I pull from all kinds of mythology to find my supporting cast—from the Apocrypha to African mythology. There’s not really much in Psyched that could be called traditional.


How did you choose your title?


I struggled with the title until about 2 weeks before Psyched came out. I settled on The Watchers or Portal Keeper early on, but as the story unfolded, it became clear that those names just didn’t fit how the story evolved as I wrote. The title, Psyched, is a word play on my main character Aisi’s psychic abilities.


Tell us about the cover and how it came to be.


I actually hired a cover artist and we were going back and forth but we hadn’t come up with a concept I felt captured the story. I was browsing through images on Deviant Art for some inspiration and found the image on my cover. I instantly fell in love. I contacted the artist and just asked what she might charge for use of her art, and I was surprised at how affordable she was. I recommend Morteque to any writer needing design services.


Did you self publish or publish traditionally and why?


I published my first title Beyond Perfection traditionally. Psyched is my second novel and first indie book. I like the freedom of self-pubbing, of developing the story based on where the characters want me to take them instead of worrying about putting in what my publisher thinks will sell or adding filler to get their desired word count. We give up a lot in terms of support for marketing when we self-pub, but it’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make for a little more say in my story’s development.


What do you consider the most important part of a good story?


Strong female characters and witty dialog! I’m from the Jane Austen school of thought, where she doesn’t apologize for her intelligent and independent women. I look at Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice as a template of what a good story should have—wonderful, beautiful, flawed people, but still strong with just enough room to grow.


What is your writing process?


I wish I were organized enough to have a process! I keep notebooks, tucked in my purse or around the house. I keep them handy for when conversations or plot points pop into my head. Sometimes the ideas come when I sit down at the desk, sometimes I need a little caffeinated inspiration.


How long have you been writing?


I refuse to acknowledge my age in a public forum...but that long! Seems like forever. It always came naturally to me.


How did you get started writing?


Writing is how I process everything I see. I’ve just always done it, as long as I can remember, as an escape from reality.


Are you a plotter or a pantser?


Oh, I’m a total pantser! I respect the plotters but my brain won’t go there.


What part of the writing process is the hardest for you?


Hard to say. Writing is my escape. If I get frustrated with what I’m writing, I just walk away until the ideas start bubbling again.


What tips can you give on how to get through writers block?


Just walk away. If I try to force something for the sake of writing something, it’s never very good. Take a break, focus on something else, maybe free write something entirely different to move around the block.


What kind of music do you like to listen to while you write?


Will it sound weird if I say it has to be quiet when I write? I work best late at night or when the kids are at school.


Who is your favorite author?


Jane Austen, JK Rowling, Lois Duncan, Mary Higgins Clark...too many to list! If I read a book, I generally love it. I do have some notable exceptions, a couple of books I actively hate, but I won’t drop names here because any author who gets people to read is the bees knees to me!


Who is your favorite character from a book?


Karen from The Third Eye by Lois Duncan. She’s the character most like the characters I try to write. I love how she’s so normal and so NOT normal all at once. That kind of person and the conflicts that come with this really speak to me. Elizabeth Bennett is up there, too, and Junie B. Jones. I know she’s in early chapter books, but that kid is just plain funny. Barbara Park did a great job writing that character!


What is your favorite book?


So many books, so little time...


Read anything good lately?


My own book? Haha...when you self-pub, you read it an awful lot, and that unfortunately doesn’t leave much time for other reading. The last thing I read for fun was The Poisonwood Bible, but it’s post-modern and I always struggle to read that style of writing. Really great premise, though, with strong characters and a unique storyline. I’ll probably read some Jane Austen or Edgar Allen Poe next time I pick up a book.


What do you like to do when you're not writing?


Chill out with my family. My kids seriously rock, and we have a great time together. They’re both readers and budding writers as well, so we talk books quite a bit. We hike. We play Uno. We like to travel together, and hit up amusement parks or take cruises.


What advice would you give an author just starting out?


People will tell you to write this or write that because it will sell. Decide where you want your writing to go, and do it. Don’t pay attention to algorithms on price points and ignore what everyone tells you about adverbs, and just write what you want. If you’re writing to sell something, there’s probably a home-based business that will make you more money. If you’re writing because you really have a great story to tell, tell it!


Have you had anything else published?


Beyond Perfection, my first novel, was released by Covenant Communications in 2005.


What's your next project?


I’m working on the sequel to Psyched I’m about five chapters into Freaked and having fun with old friends, introducing another major character from African mythology, and tying up loose ends left over from Psyched. After that I have a couple of other ideas, so I think I have enough going on in my head to keep me busy for a couple of years!
Cover Art by Morteque

You can find it on Amazon, Smashwords, and in paperback at CreateSpace

So far, great reviews for Psyched!

"This is one of those books you just can't put down. What I love about Psyched in addition to a great, spooky story is strong characters and narrative voice. Aisi is the most awesome chick, strong-willed, sassy, and deals with some crazy stuff happening with a spunkiness that I loved... Psyched is well-written, riveting, surprising and genre-busting. Teens will love this book, but it definitely has a more wide-ranging appeal."


"Aisi Turay is one awesome girl. She has power to see the in their souls...This is a great read, filled with suspense. I NEVER knew from one chapter to the next what was happening. It is well written and a very enjoyable...and a bit scary!"

Psyched is part ghost story, part suspense, part demon-hunting thriller, part budding romance.It's the story of a girl named Aisi who's doing her best to keep it together for her wreck of a family. She is smart, sassy, and sarcastic enough to keep things interesting. When she meets Vance on the single worst day of her life, she finds a guy who just might be the first person ever to get her, to believe in her, and to out-random her with bizarre observations at the worst possible moment. There's just something about him that she knows she can trust.

Together, Aisi and Vance wander through the memories of others to unlock the secrets of her past while battling a demon who wants to ensure she never finds what she's looking for. Aisi vanquishes demons all the time, but Malus Indolus is too strong. And he has plans for her...and her family.

Psyched is Juli's second novel, the first as an indie writer, and her first experiment with her true love as a reader: paranormal fiction. Her debut novel Beyond Perfection is also available.

You can find Juli on Twitter, Facebook,  and her blog.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Author Interview: Cathrina Constantine

Welcome to Blogger Book Fair day three. Today, I have an interview with Cathrina Constantine, author of Wickedly They Come.

What inspired you to write this book?

 I hoped for a powerful story to inspire young and adults in the belief of Christian faith that is mystical and glorious. And while in the writing process to transpire an enthralling, action packed tale.

 How did you choose your title?

 Choosing a title is very hard for me. I like everyone else’s titles better. And then I thought of the evil, wickedness that is being released from hell, and somehow the title Wickedly They Come came to mind.

 Tell us about the cover and how it came to be.

 Hellfire erupts repeatedly in Wickedly They Come. And furling fire has the potency to transfix us all. Melissa Stevens illustrated the cover and I absolutely love it.

 Did you self publish or publish traditionally and why?

 After many revisions and querying agents which seemed like forever, I was ready to throw in the towel when I learned about small presses. Following a few queries, I had three offers of representation. I selected Black Opal Books, and they are a remarkable small press with professional, friendly people. Black Opal Authors are like one big family!

 What do you consider the most important part of a good story?

 When Seeley says to her daughter, Jordan, “I’m an optimist. I believe love conquers hate, faith overcomes despair, and that life is stronger than death.”

 What is you writing process?

 That’s a funny process for me—I sit at the computer and pray something interesting develops in my brain. Sometimes it does and sometimes it’s a bust. At those times, I need to walk away. And when scenes pop into my head I run back to the computer to write them down. It could be as simple as a sentence to a whole chapter. As you can tell, I’m a pantser.

 How long have you been writing?

 I liked writing stories and little plays when I was young, and as a teenager I sent short stories to magazines without any luck. Years later, the story for Wickedly came to mind and the rest is history.

 What tips can you give on how to get through writers block?

 Take a break!

 What kind of music do you like to listen to while you write?

 I tried listening to music once, and I found myself dancing around the house ignoring my writing. I like complete quiet.

 Who is your favorite author?

 I don’t have a favorite author. There’s a myriad of author’s that I love and that have inspired me. Recently, author’s that are now my internet friends have written amazing novels!

 What advice would you give an author just starting out?

 Keep writing to hone your craft. Read tons of books in the genre that you like to write, and investigate all the publishing options. And lastly, persevere, persevere, and persevere....

 What's your next project?

 I’m in the second editing phase for my dystopian novel, TALLAS. My third novel is in the hands of my literary agent, Sharon Belcastro of The Belcastro Literary Agency. And I’ve recently completed the first draft of the sequel for Wickedly They Come.

Hello! from Cathrina Constantine. This is my first Blogger Book Fair and I’m thrilled to be your guest. My debut novel, Wickedly They Come, published by Black Opal Books will be released on August 24, 2013.


Wickedly They Come: A Dark, Gripping Fantasy:
About Cathrina:
Constantine resides in Upstate New York with her husband, five children, two Labrador Retrievers and two cats. Cathrina enjoys baking, quilting, reading, and of course, writing. She usually breaks the day with a hike in the woods with her dogs while conjuring up a new tale.
I’d like to thank Kyra Dune for featuring me on her blog today!
 You can find Cathrina Constantine at these sites:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Excerpt: The King's Sword by C.J. Brightley

It's day two of the Blogger Book Fair and today I have for you an excerpt from C.J. Brightley's The King's Sword. Which is part of the Erdemen Honor Series.

A disillusioned soldier.
A spoiled, untried prince.
A coup that threatens the country they both love.

When retired soldier Kemen finds the young prince Hakan fleeing an attempted assassination, he reluctantly takes the role of mentor and guardian. Keeping the prince alive is challenging enough. Making him a man is harder.

As usurper Vidar tightens his grip on power, Kemen wrestles with questions of duty and honor. What if the prince isn’t the best ruler after all?

Invasion looms, and Kemen’s decisions will shape the fate of a nation. What will he sacrifice for friendship and honor?

Read the first chapter on my website or on Amazon.

EXCERPT from The King's Sword:

I heard a murmur off in the woods, sounds that resolved into distant voices. “Hst.” I motioned at Hakan, who sniffed irritably.

“When is it going to be ready?”

I stood silently, half-crouched, and slipped around the fire beside Hakan.

“What are you…”

I clamped my hand over his mouth and listened.

Yes, voices. And the sounds of several bodies moving through the underbrush toward us. They were trying to be quiet, and I’d barely heard them over the faint hiss and crackle of the fire. My fingers tight over Hakan’s mouth, I bent to whisper in his ear, “Be silent and don’t move.” He stared at me with wide, confused eyes, and I caught my pack up and slipped it over my shoulder. I pushed the glowing logs apart and threw handfuls of snow and wet leaves over the still-glowing coals. It wouldn’t hide the signs we’d been there, but it doused the flames; the light wouldn’t be as obvious. I left the half-roasted pheasant in the coals and turned to Hakan, who still stared at me.

“What are you…” he started again, and I put my hand over his mouth again, none too gently this time.

“Silence, I said,” I hissed in his ear. I pushed him into the darkness ahead of me. He suddenly thrashed, and I heard a distant shout from a different direction. How many of them were out there? I twisted Hakan’s arm up painfully behind him and heard him whimper, suddenly compliant. I muttered in his ear, “People are hunting you. When I tell you to be silent, I’m trying to save your neck.”

He nodded hurriedly, and I let his arm down. “Now follow me.” I listened a moment, but didn’t hear much, and so I led him deeper into the woods away from the road, northwest of our fire.

The moon was new, and the starlight was faint and unreliable. Even with snow on the ground, the darkness was thick, and I picked our way slowly. Silence was of greater importance than distance.

At last I thought we had left them behind, and I told Hakan to sit down behind a tree with my pack and not to move until I fetched him. I crept back carefully through the darkness, listening for every sound. I heard voices near our fire, and edged closer so I could see more clearly. Five kedani stood around the smoky coals, the ruined pheasant covered in ash and grit. One of them was poking at the coals.

“Hasn’t been long. Think it’s him?”

“I doubt it. You think he could make a fire?” The leader frowned thoughtfully and nudged the pheasant with the toe of his boot. “Should be able to hunt though. Could be.”

The others stared off into the darkness, eyes scanning the trees, and I tried to read the insignia on the leader’s sleeve. One of them shifted and I slipped closer, my steps slow and careful. The Second Division Kedani. They were out of Kesterlin. Were they still under Commander Basajaun? If I’d been sure, I might have approached them, asked why they were bothering lone travelers, asked for news. But I thought Koray Basajaun had been transferred. Not that it mattered much; his men wouldn’t know me, even if he did.

“Tracks here.”

Phraa. I had brushed at them, but only enough to conceal that there were two sets… the broken snow was obvious. I started toward the fire, letting my steps crunch on the snow and twigs beneath. “Who are you?” My voice was hard, rough. They startled and edged around the fire toward me, uneasy, and I frowned more menacingly.

The leader drew himself taller and answered, “Commander Neel Orjado. Who are you?” He was tense, nervous. “And why did you flee?”

I looked him and the others over, scowling. “Why did you barge into my campsite?” I glanced at the pheasant and glared at them again. “Can a man not camp half a league into the woods in peace?

The leader narrowed his eyes. “What are you doing half a league in the woods?”

I knelt and picked up the pheasant by one thin leg and held it up. “Trying not to have to share my dinner with beggars.” I tossed it at his feet and stared across at him. The commander was young, and perhaps had never even seen a Dari before. He was intimidated, though I had been careful not to say anything overtly threatening. Nothing to provoke a fight, just to make them uncomfortably aware that I wasn’t afraid of one.


About C. J. Brightley:


I’m the author of the Erdemen Honor series, including The King’s Sword and  A Cold Wind. I’m working on the third book in the series, to be released winter 2013, as well as a separate urban fantasy / supernatural thriller series scheduled for publication in winter 2013/2014. I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, Google+Goodreads, or my website at You can find my books at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes&Noble, Kobo, and the iBookstore.


I will be at Intervention (Internet+Convention) 2013 August 23-25 in Rockville, MD! I’ll be signing books, and you can get a free sneak peek into my works in progress. If you can’t make it but you want to check out the books, please contact me directly and I’ll see what I can do.