Archive for June, 2011

BLANK Makes Me Happy with Jeannie Holmes

Posted June 30, 2011 By Jennifer

Hello, Hello, Hello. Today I’d like to introduce you to a “new to a lot of you” author to chat with today. Jeannie Holmes is the creator of the Alexandra Sabian series. She has one fantastic book out now, Blood Law (I’m almost finished with it, and trust me… you WANT to read this!), and the second in the series, Blood Secrets, comes out on July 5th. It’s a very smart, action packed, yummilicious vampire series that you don’t want to miss. (I’ll have my review of Blood Secrets up in a few days… but more about that in a minute.)

You can click on the cover pics below to see the book trailers for both books, hosted on Jeannie’s website.

  

So… to get the ball rolling… here are a few things that are making our lovely Jeannie smile these days…

When Jennifer invited me to submit a “BLANK Makes Me Happy” guest blog, my first thought was this: “Piece of cake!” But then I stared actually thinking about what makes me happy, and I can honestly say “BLANK” was my answer.

It’s easier for me to say what doesn’t make me happy—blatant stupidity and the colors pink and yellow come to mind—but that’s really not the point of this blog. So…what makes me happy? Well, I like to think I’m a fairly logical person, and it shouldn’t be that difficult to think of a few things that give me irrepressible warm fuzzies.

Yeah. Right.

Several cups of coffee and a few head banging fits later, here are my top five happy happy joy joys:

5. Art – I love to look at art. I love to create it. Before turning to writing full-time, I studied art in college. Drawing, painting, sculpture, and more recently, photography are endless sources of inspiration for me.

4. Friends and family – They both support me through the craziness that is my life.

3. My four cats: Chaos, Panic, Disorder, and Nugget – Yes, the first three live up to their names. They came as a set and are siblings. Nugget came along a year later when Hurricane Ivan blew through Mobile. His mother abandoned him for some reason. I found him and raised him from a tiny “kitten nugget,” which is how he got his name. They’re incredibly entertaining and have been the source of my inspiration for Alex’s cat, Dweezil, in the series.

2. Researching and writing my next book – This really should be a given. Ideas form in my head like crystals inside of a geode, all sparkly and shiny and with multiple facets. I truly love exploring each angle and discovering new worlds and learning all sorts of cool new stuff—and then writing about them!

1. My husband – I didn’t include him with my friends and family because he’s more than both. He supports me and is often in the trenches with me when I’m facing deadlines. Plus he turned his Smart car into a rolling billboard/tour bus for my first book! How can I not give him the Number One spot?

There you have it—five things that make me happy. It’s a pretty simple list but I believe the simplest things can also bring the greatest joy.

Yay for the simple things in life!! So now we know a little more about Jeannie. She’ll be stopping in throughout the day today to answer your questions and respond to your comments. Ask her anything… About the Alexandra Sabian series, about her cats, about her research/writing technique, whatever.

One thing I’VE discovered about Jeannie (thanks to spending entirely too much time on Twitter) is that she and I share a love of LOLCat pics!! It’s silly, and random, and provides no meaningful purpose. But it makes us happy, and that’s what we’re all about here today. With that in mind… we’re having a wee little LOL contest. I’ll be posting my review of Jeannie’s new release Blood Secrets on July 4th. You all have from today, until midnight eastern on July 3rd to share your favorite LOL cat picture. You can post the pic directly, or post a link to where the picture is hosted. For EACH PIC YOU POST IN A SEPARATE COMMENT, you’ll get one entry. Jeannie and I will be giving away one copy of Blood Law, and one copy of her new Blood Secrets to random LOLers on July 4th when I post my review! Please remember to include your first name and your email address in EACH POST so you can be contacted if you win.

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you have fun chatting with Jeannie today!! I can’t wait to see all the funness you find to share!! Good Luck, everyone!

**** contest has ended… Congratulations to Theresa! ****

Thank you all for entering!

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Author: Laurie London
Others In Series: Hidden by Blood (# 1.5, novella), Embraced By Blood (#2, coming June 21, 2011)
Format: MM paperback, ebook
Pages: 378
Original Release Date: January 18, 2011
ISBN #: 978-0373775446
FTC Disclaimer: I purchased this book.

Bonded by Blood starts out with the characters in a cemetary. By the end of chapter one, the hero had been shot by the bad guys, the heroine had been attacked by the hero (O.o!!), and he was carrying her off to (at this point) parts unknown!! Now THAT’S the way to start a story.

Mackenzie Foster-Shaw belongs to a family plagued by heartache. With a history of family members simply disappearing, she lives her life free of many “traditional” attachments, just in case she’s the next one to go missing. Dominic Serrano is a Guardian, a member of the vampire race who protects humans from “Darkbloods”, those of his kind that hunt them. Unfortunately for Mackenzie, she’s got what vampires call “sweetblood”, something in her system creates an almost irresistable attraction to her blood. Humans with sweetblood are targeted and drained, their blood sold like a drug on the street. It makes her a prime target for the Darkbloods, and a top priority for Dom.

I really loved the way this story was put together. The action is there right from the start, the threat is known, but once Mackenzie and Dom meet, the spotlight is on them. Building their relationship is the main focus for a good part of the first half of the book. Now, that’s not to say that the threat goes away, or disappears from the story, it doesn’t, but there was time given for the couple to go from strangers to lovers, and for me to really care about them.

Then… all hell breaks loose!

The Darkbloods are evil. Evil in a way that gave me chills.

I love discovering new vampire stories, and learning a new author’s take on the mythology. This was no exception. There were a lot of “traditional” characteristics, and a few new ideas that made for some pretty impressive scenes. Overall, I was drawn in to the book from the get-go, and it didn’t let me down. And, for those of you who might make a comparison (like I did) to another story of a vampire drawn to a woman with “sweetblood”, let me just say, this is not YA, and there is no fade-to-black in Laurie’s world. Wowza!!

I’m really looking forward to the second book in this series, Embraced by Blood. Given what happens at the end of this book, I have some theories, and I CAN’T WAIT to see if I’m right. Luckily, I don’t have to wait long! This is definitely a series I’ll be keeping up with.

Laurie’s spending some time talking about what’s making her happy, and answering YOUR questions today!! Click HERE to see her feature. One commenter/questioner will be randomly drawn to win Bonded by Blood prizes! Ane be sure to check back on June 20th for my review of Embraced by Blood, and a chance to win MORE Sweetblood swag!!

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“BLANK” Makes Me Happy with Laurie London

Posted June 16, 2011 By Jennifer

Hello again, my lovely book people. For today’s “BLANK” Makes Me Happy feature we get to chat a bit with Sweetblood Series author, Laurie London! I really, really enjoy the way she’s telling her vampire story, and hope you all have either read Bonded by Blood, or have it on your TBR list. Trust me, it’s a debut that will grab you, and a series you don’t want to miss! (You can read my review of Bonded by Blood HERE.)

Here’s a little list Laurie gave of things that are making her smile these days…

  • The way my horse smells when I press my nose to her neck
  • Roasted marshmallows that are golden, not black
  • Khal on A Game of Thrones
  • Turning over my PTA binders to the person taking over the job next year
  • Sitting in a cafe at a bookstore
  • Salt caramels
  • Waking up early before anyone else
  • Having my dog lay on my feet as I write
  • The sound of my husband’s laugh
  • Watching a hummingbird feed from my fuchsia

Laurie will be popping in and out today to answer questions about herself, and her series. One random commenter/questioner will win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of book 2 in the Sweetblood Series, Embraced by Blood!! And I’m also going to throw in a custom, Sweetblood inspired book-thong, created by Mandy at Stupid Shiny Designs!

To kick off the questioning… here are a few things I’d like to know…

1) Did you read the Song of Fire and Ice series before the show started? If not, do you plan on reading them?

2)  What’s the hardest part of a story to write for you? The beginning, the end, the romance, the action scenes? How do you get through those parts?

3) How many books do you envision for this series? I can think of at least three stories that can come from the information we were given in Bonded by Blood. Obviously book two is done… how much further do you plan to go with these characters?

Ok… that’s my start… I’m sure I’ll have more questions  before the end of the day, lol. What do YOU want to know??

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Q&A With BETWEEN Author Cyndi Tefft

Posted June 3, 2011 By Jennifer

We’re helping Cyndi Tefft a celebrate the release of her first novel, Between. You can check out our review HERE. (Definitely different, you don’t want to miss this one!!) She was gracious enough to answer a few questions to help us get to know her a little better. AND… if you leave a comment below (to say Hi, or ask her a question about herself or her fantastic new release) you could win a FREE AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF BETWEEN! (Trust me, you want this!)

When you write, do you prefer quiet, or do you listen to music? If you like music playing, what is your preferred genre? Do certain characters have their own personal “soundtrack”?

I listen to classical piano music while writing. Brian Crain is my favorite; I must have listened to his album 3,654,629 times (give or take)! I’ll also throw in some Scottish folk music to set the mood. Alasdair Fraser tops the list for his sheer artistry with a violin. Anything with lyrics is off-limits, though. I really like to sing so if there are words, I will find myself singing along and distracted
from writing!

Where do you write? In an office, at the dining room table, at a local coffeeshop? Do you prefer to write alone or with a group? If you write with a group, do you also read/critique each other’s work?

I usually write on my laptop, sitting on the couch in the living room (not the most ergonomically sound choice, I know!). Sometimes I write at work on my lunch break, but more often, I write in the evenings after the kiddos have gone to bed. Peace and
quiet is a must for me when I’m writing (since I am easily distracted), so I don’t think I’d be very successful at writing in a coffee shop. It’s certainly a more romantic image than me on the couch in my jammies, though! 🙂

How do you prepare for release day? Are you calm and focused, or do you get stressed? Do you like to make promotional appearances or stay at home to watch lists and numbers?

My marketing strategy is focused on book bloggers. I’ve spent the last six weeks compiling lists, contacting bloggers directly and preparing guest posts/interviews for the launch. I work full-time, so getting everything ready for the big day has been like a second job! I’m looking forward to things settling down so I can get to work on the sequel.

The good side of that frantic activity is that I don’t have as much time to stress out about what the response will be. I hope and pray that readers will enjoy the story, though I know it won’t resonate with everyone. I am planning to do a signing at a local book store, which should be both nerve-wracking and fun. 🙂

What was your favorite Halloween costume (or other costume party costume)?

When I was pregnant with my son, I dressed all in black and put a white felt “8” on my belly so that I looked like a Magic 8 Ball. It was comfy and everyone got the joke!

If you could go anywhere on vacation (and not interfere with your deadlines), where would you go, and what 3 items (besides food and clothes) would you bring with you?

I love to travel and there are a billion places I have yet to see, so this is a tough question! My husband and I are planning a trip to England next year. Since we went to France and Scotland in 2010, England was next on the (very long) list. We want to see all the touristy places in London, Bath and York, though we may plan to spend some time in Scotland again because I love it so much. I’d have to bring my camera, my laptop (for blogging about the trip) and cell phone (so the sitter could reach us if need be). Other than that, traveling light is the way to go!

What song best describes your life? If you can’t think of one, who would you want to write/perform a song just for you?

You know how your friends and family go, “Hey, it’s your song!” when it comes on the radio? Mine is Walking On Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves. I literally can’t keep from dancing and singing along when it’s playing. More than the words, it’s the tone of the song—bubbly, fun, goofy–that is so ME.

If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would be it and what would you do all day?

Oooh, dangerous question! I would love to spend the day with Aiden MacRae, but I don’t know how my husband would feel about that. *grin* I’d have him take me to Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland (his childhood home) and give me the grand tour, stopping here and there to tell me stories about his life while he lived there. I have been to the castle and it’s beautiful, but I’d love for Aiden to show me around and point out what’s different now than in 1719 before it was destroyed.

What world record would you love to set for the Guinness Book of World Records? (Remember, they take ALL KINDS of interesting talents into account. Some world records include *fastest 100m sprint, barefoot, on ice = 17.35 secs… *fastest pumpkin carving of a face = 24.03 secs… *longest distance pogo stick jumping = 23.11 miles)

I’d love to set the record for organizing the greatest gathering of men in kilts! You thought the Royal Wedding was well-attended? Ha! I’m envisioning a massive festival to put it to shame, all men decked out in kilts of every color and pattern. Now THAT
would be fun!! We could sell souvenirs and make the money back, methinks! Wooden-handled limited edition kilt lifter, anyone? hehehehe

If you could have one word removed from the English language, from all dictionaries and out of everyone’s vocabulary, what would it be, and why? If you could ADD one word, what would it be?

I read somewhere that the Native American Indians didn’t have a word for “weed” because every living thing had a place and a purpose, even dandelions. I really like that. For my word, I might select “loser” because you only really lose when you stop trying. Otherwise, you just haven’t won quite yet. 🙂

As for adding a word, my family and I have coined the term “foozle” which is a little fuzz or piece of cloth/lint/hair/etc that is out of place. My kids think it’s a real word, I think, since we use it so often at home!

What is one thing about you that your friends know and you would love your readers to know as well. Or… if you’re in a giving mood… what is one story that your friends LOVE to talk you into telling that you don’t generally volunteer?

I’m adventurous, so why not? I love to play ping pong and used to play every day at work on my lunch break. Some employees were making a video in the lunchroom one day (can’t remember why) and I was “warming up” for a game in the background, not realizing that the camera was capturing my focused-but-wildly-swinging arm movements. It turned out they showed that video at an all-employee meeting and the entire place started cracking up, watching me in the background instead of the people on screen. The CEO thought it was so funny, he had the tech guy show it again as soon as it finished, to keep the laughter going. I was purple-faced and staring at the floor, wishing it would open up and swallow me. Humiliated doesn’t begin to describe it. Let’s just hope that video doesn’t surface now! Hey, at least I won the ping pong game. 😛

**REMEMBER** Leave a comment below to welcome Cyndi, or to ask a question about her or Between… one random commenter will be chosen at midnight (eastern) to win an autographed, personalized copy of the book. Please remember to include your first name and email address in your comment so I can contact you if you win. Thanks!

**UPDATE**

Winner has been chosen!!! Congratulations to LYNSEY!!!

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Review: Between by Cyndi Tefft

Posted June 3, 2011 By bookophile81

Author: Cyndi Tefft
Format: Trade Paperback, ebook
Pages: 252
Original Release Date: June 1, 2011
ISBN #: 978-1460937105
FTC Disclaimer: This ARC was received from the author for the purpose of an honest review.

In Cyndi Tefft’s debut novel BETWEEN, she tackles the question of life after death. She does so eloquently, and with a romantically interesting twist. The imagery she uses paints very vivid pictures. Pictures that come to life with such sharp clarity that the reader feels as if they are actually in the scene.

Lindsey Waters is a girl who is distinctly indistinct.  An average girl, with an average college career, and an average, good guy boyfriend. Unfortunately for Lindsey, things start going downhill when she can’t return the declaration of love from her beau. Things hit rock bottom when, on the way home from their uncomfortable date, they’re involved in a deadly accident.

Enter the yummilicious, very above average, Aiden McRae. The oh, so sexy Grim Reaper comes to escort Lindsey’s spirit self from her body to the gates of heaven. Along the journey, however, Aiden brings to life that “spark” she never felt with her human boyfriend. Their love is forbidden, and Aiden knows he is walking a thin line allowing himself to feel for the girl. Lindsey makes the choice to stay with Aiden outside of heaven, rather than have an eternity without him once she passes through the gates. During their time together, Aiden takes her to places she never dreamed she would see, and inspires her to
have feelings unlike anything she’d ever felt.

I really enjoyed this story. Aiden and Lindsey are very well fleshed out. I was very happy to learn how they got to the places they were in. Both Lindsey’s family and time growing up, and Aiden’s life before his assignment as the Grim Reaper brought interesting dimension to the characters. With the brilliant scenes that Tefft creates, I can actually picture this story being made into a movie. (Sean Biggerstaff for the part of Aiden in the movie please!) However, I felt like Aiden was a bit too perfect. I enjoy a story where the male lead has a flaw or two. That being said, Aiden’s yummy body and sexy Scottish accent certainly go a long way towards making me appreciate that perfection.

I also noticed that Between had moments that reminded me of another story about a girl and a “traditionally forbidden” romance. Meadow scenes in the Pacific Northwest and Aiden’s emotional push-and-pull are bound to feel a little familiar to Twilight Saga fans. Luckily, the story is strong enough to carry the influence of the popular series without losing it’s own identity.

Overall, for a debut novel Cyndi did a tremendous job! I am already looking forward to HELL TRANSPORTER, the next book featuring Lindsey and Aiden! CONGRATULATIONS CYNDI!!

Check out our Q&A with Cyndi HERE, and you may win a an autographed copy of Between!!

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