27 May, 2017

#BookReview :: The Golem's Eye (Bartimaeus Sequence #2) by Jonathan Stroud



The young magician Nathaniel is fast rising through the government ranks. His most urgent task is to put an end to the mysterious Resistance, but Kitty and her friends continue to elude him. As the pressure mounts, London is suddenly threatened by a new series of terrifying attacks. Is it the Resistance - or something even more dangerous? Nathaniel is forced to embark on a perilous mission to the enemy city of Prague; and to summon once again the troublesome, enigmatic and quick-witted djinni, Bartimaeus.

The thrilling sequel to The Amulet of Samarkand is a roller-coaster ride of magic, adventure and political skulduggery as the fates of Nathaniel, Bartimaeus and Kitty explosively collide.


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In the second instalment of Bartimaeus Sequence, Nathaniel finds himself in a position where he requires the services of the djinni, Bartimaeus. As a young magician trying to climb the ladders of the ministry, Nathaniel has been tasked to deal with a revolutionary group that is growing by the minute in London.  Along with the reluctant Bartimaeus, Nathaniel takes on to solve the crimes rocking the city and take care of the revolutionary group at the same time. This time his life and his career is on the line!

The Golem’s Eye is an excellent sequel to The Amulet of Samarkhand. It meets every set of expectations set up by the first book in the series. We see Nathaniel grow into his destiny of becoming one of the strongest Magicians. Though at times he comes across this self-centered magician, he does redeem himself in the end with his other admirable qualities like courage and determination. Kitty is an important part of the resistance that Nathaniel is trying to dismantle. She has certain qualities that makes you like her from the very beginning. She is strong, persistent with a high sense of honour and code. She makes for an amazing character that adds more to the story than anyone else.

Bartimaeus and his clever quips keep you entertained through the book. But there are moments when his jibes make you think twice as he often raises important issues. That is one of the reasons why I am liking this series so much. Even in the guise of fantasy fiction, the book often makes you stop and take notice of things in real life.

I will stand by what I said at the end of my review for The Amulet of Samarkhand… This series is a must read for all fantasy lovers.




25 May, 2017

HIV Cannot Kill Love ~ In Conversation with #Author Ajay K. Pandey

About the Author:

Ajay K Pandey is a popular author of two books You Are The Best Wife and Her Last Wish. He is currently working with Cognizant, Pune. Although he grew up with a dream of becoming a teacher, destiny landed him in the IT field. Travelling, trekking and reading novels are his hobbies. Travelling to different places has taught him about different cultures and people and makes him wonder how despite all the differences, there is a bond that unites them. Trekking always inspires him to deal with challenges like a sport. Reading is perhaps what makes him feel alive. Apart from writing, he wants to follow his role model Mother Teresa and make some contribution to the society. His debut novel You Are The Best Wife was based on his life events and went on to become a bestseller soon after its release. It charmed many hearts and inspired several others to live every moment with love, peace and happiness.

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In Conversation with Ajay Pandey


In a battle between true love and HIV, love always wins.

In a world that moves at a pace faster than we can catch up, there are many subjects of conversation that remain hidden, or taboo in the society. Bestselling author Ajay K Pandey describes what it is like to come face to face with one such essential subject of discussion and how, despite various efforts at creating awareness around it, it is still hidden beneath layers of doubt and uncertainty. His latest novel Her Last Wish is a story of an HIV patient, and how she and her husband fight all odds, including the home and the world, to stand tall in its wake.

Q: Why take up a subject like HIV/ AIDS?
A: I had met an enigmatic lady once, who was an HIV patient. And let’s be honest! What comes to our mind when we hear about an HIV/ AIDS patient? Not generalizing, but a majority of us would judge them to have indulged in unsafe sex with multiple partners, or just consider them to be immoral. I mean, I am sure not many even know that that HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, and without treatment, it can become AIDS which leaves people vulnerable to dire infections. It’s not the disease that kills; it’s these infections which can be as common as a cold too.
I changed as a person after talking to her. I felt I should wash off these presumptions that have come into existence owing to lack of knowledge, and I have tried to make my book a source of information, using the medium of storytelling, to make people more aware.
Q: In your research, did you feel that we as people underestimate the potential of people suffering from HIV or AIDS?
A: Absolutely. And the problem is, AIDS is often seen as ‘someone else’s problem’. In our country too, people living with HIV have faced violent attacks, been rejected by families, spouses and communities, been refused medical treatment, and even in some reported cases, denied the last rites after death. No wonder an HIV/ AIDS patient refrains from divulging their problem openly.
As per reports by WHO, an estimated 36.7 million people worldwide were living with HIV till the end of 2015, out of which approximately 1.8 million were children under fifteen years of age.[i]
That is a huge number, and this one epidemic, as WHO calls it, cannot be the end of someone’s life.
Q: Is your book a true account and what was your most prominent find?
A: The story is based upon the experiences of quite a few I met and spoke to, though has been rendered in a story format for making it reach more people. In course of writing, I realized that HIV is not the end of happiness. With the right treatment and support, it is possible to live a long and happy life. So much so, that doctors have confirmed that life expectancy on early detection and proper medication has increased to almost 25 years after detection.[ii]
The second realization was more of a confirmation of what veteran actress Shabana Azmi said in the advertisement for awareness on AIDS: Aids chhoone se nahi failta, isse sirf pyar failta hai. Half the discrimination exists because people have misconceptions. For instance, here are some lesser known causes for HIV:
         Can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. Upon taking the right precautions, this can be avoided.
         Receiving blood transfusions, blood products, or organ/tissue transplants that are contaminated with HIV.
         Eating food that has been pre-chewed by an HIV infected person. The contamination occurs when infected blood from a patient’s mouth mixes with food while chewing.
         Being bitten by a person with HIV. There is no risk of transmission if the skin is not broken.
         Contact between broken skin, wounds, or mucous membranes and HIV-infected blood or blood contaminated body fluids.
         Deep, open-mouth kissing if the person with HIV has sores or bleeding gums and blood is exchanged.
HIV is not spread by:
         Air or water
         Insects, including mosquitoes or ticks
         Saliva, tears, or sweat
         Casual contact, like shaking hands, hugging or sharing dishes/drinking glasses

Q: Are your characters extraordinary people in a special love story?
A: On the contrary, they are ordinary people who become extraordinary with their acts. They emphasize on how love can win over all odds. And since an AIDS patient goes through double the trauma – of having to prove themselves innocent, which is something they are unable to do in their lifetime; second, fighting the disease – love becomes all the more essential. The characters, the story, the experiences one lives while reading it – all go on to prove that HIV cannot overpower true love.

Q: What message have you tried to put together in the book?
A: We are living in a progressive world. We are nobody to give moral certificates to someone. It doesn’t matter how deadly the disease is if you have people who love you, believe in you – it changes the battle completely. Imagine a society where AIDS patients are not sacked from offices, are not thrown out of a rented home, they are not thrown out of any social community, where people have no problem in hugging them or shaking hands with them. Don’t you think their life will become much better and qualitative!
They deserve your love. This is no sin, and HIV/ AIDS patients are not sinners.

To read more on what it feels like to be discriminated against, how a disease can turn someone’s life completely upside down, and how true love and resolve to stand by each other can defeat all problems, read the inspiring story of an AIDS patient, where a husband chooses to fight with her, for her – Her Last Wish.



[i] WHO: http://www.who.int/gho/hiv/en/
[ii] http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai/it-s-a-better-life-for-hiv-patients/story-8Di1bkgwFnTWoivPXNoG2N.html


About the Book:

His father's over expectations only ruined his self-confidence further with each failure. A ray of hope walked into his life as his wife, a charismatic personality spreading joy wherever she went. Everything is going per plan, but darkness comes knocking soon. He finds out that she does not have much time to live and takes it upon himself to fight all odds – even his family, if need be – to help her fight her medical condition. His father sees his own redemption in helping them, he knows his son will be a winner only if he will fight for her, with her. Will a defeated son prove himself to be a good husband? Will the father-son duo together be able to change the course of fate? Her Last Wish is an inspiring story of love, relationships and sacrifice, which proves once again how a good wife makes the best husband.

23 May, 2017

#BookReview :: The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus Sequence #1) by Jonathan Stroud

Nathaniel is a boy magician-in-training, sold to the government by his birth parents at the age of five and sent to live as an apprentice to a master. Powerful magicians rule Britain, and its empire, and Nathaniel is told his is the "ultimate sacrifice" for a "noble destiny." 

If leaving his parents and erasing his past life isn't tough enough, Nathaniel's master, Arthur Underwood, is a cold, condescending, and cruel middle-ranking magician in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The boy's only saving grace is the master's wife, Martha Underwood, who shows him genuine affection that he rewards with fierce devotion. Nathaniel gets along tolerably well over the years in the Underwood household until the summer before his eleventh birthday. Everything changes when he is publicly humiliated by the ruthless magician Simon Lovelace and betrayed by his cowardly master who does not defend him.

Nathaniel vows revenge. In a Faustian fever, he devours magical texts and hones his magic skills, all the while trying to appear subservient to his master. When he musters the strength to summon the 5,000-year-old djinni Bartimaeus to avenge Lovelace by stealing the powerful Amulet of Samarkand, the boy magician plunges into a situation more dangerous and deadly than anything he could ever imagine.


This is an amazing book! Absolutely and really…

The Amulet of Samarkhand deals with a young magician named Nathaniel, who summons Bartimaeus, a 5000-year-old Djinn, to do his bidding. What Nathaniel wants is for Bartimaeus to steal an amulet from Simon Lovelace, a powerful magician as a revenge for the humiliation that Simon had put Nathaniel through. But what follows is a little more than what Nathaniel and Bartimaeus had bargained for.

Frankly speaking, it took me a few chapters to get into the book. Bartimaeus’s voice is unique and as such it takes some time to get used to. But he is the one with a sense of humour and his wisecracks never failed to put a smile on my face. I suppose when one has lived for 5000 years, taking things with a pinch of salt comes easily. The adventures and life of Nathaniel and Bartimaeus are equally interesting and engaging and I liked the fact that the author gave us alternate POVs of Bartimaeus and Nathaniel which in turn gave us a closer look into both the characters. Nathaniel is really young and so there are times when his age and inexperience shows. But his determination really pulls him through. That is maybe why Nathaniel and Bartimaeus makes such a good duo – one so young and inexperienced coupled with an old soul with thousands of years of experience in the magical world. Secondary characters are given equally important treatment with their development and as such the book becomes even more engaging. Though there are times when the pace seemed to lag a bit, the book never bores you for a second.

I usually do not like to compare books or series and will not start doing so. But if you are a Harry Potter fan looking for something in fantasy genre, do give this series a try. They are, of course very different in many way, but they are both engaging with a fantastic story to tell. And this is a must read for anyone who enjoys the fantasy genre in general.




22 May, 2017

#SpecialFeature :: #Excerpts from Code Blood by Kurt Kamm



*** Special Feature - May 2017 ***


About the Author:
Kurt KammMalibu, California resident Kurt Kamm has written a series of firefighter mystery novels which have won several literary awards. He is also the author of The Lizard’s Tale, which provides a unique look inside the activities of the Mexican drug cartels and the men dedicated to stopping them. Kurt has used his contacts with several California fire departments, as well as with the ATF and DEA to write fact-based (“faction”) novels. In his chilling and suspenseful multi-award winning novel, Code Blood, Kurt takes the reader into the connected lives of a fire paramedic, a Chinese research student with the rarest blood type in the world, and the blood-obsessed killer who stalks her. Colt Lewis, a young Los Angeles County fire paramedic responds to a fatal accident. The victim dies in his arms. Her foot has been severed but is nowhere to be found. Who is the woman, and what happened to her foot? During a weeklong search, Colt risks his career to find the victim’s identity and her missing foot. His search leads him to a dark and disturbing side of Los Angeles…an underworld of body part dealers and underground Goth clubs. He uncovers a tangled maze of drugs, needles, and rituals. Emergency medicine, high-tech medical research, and the unsettling world of blood fetishism and body parts make for an edgy L.A. Noir thriller. Kurt has built an avid fan base among first responders and other readers. A graduate of Brown University and Columbia Law School, Kurt was previously a financial executive and semi-professional bicycle racer. He was also Chairman of the UCLA/Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Foundation for several years.

Visit his author Website & on Facebook!


Excerpts from Code Blood: 

Station 88, squad and engine respond to vehicle accident on Pacific Coast Highway at the Surfrider Restaurant.
When the tone sounded, Colt Lewis was replacing the IV bags in the drug box. A surge of adrenaline pulsed through him. He ran to the engine bay, stowed the box in the side-panel of the squad—the paramedic truck—and pulled on his gear. Brian, his partner and preceptor during his eight-week internship in the field, slid behind the wheel and grabbed his headset. Colt punched the red button on the wall and jumped into the passenger seat as the heavy metal garage door rumbled up.
“You good?” Brian asked. He hit the lights and siren.
Colt nodded and heard the deafening wail before he put his headset on. They rolled down the driveway onto Pacific Coast Highway and turned right. It was an early Sunday afternoon in mid-September and PCH was crowded with people coming to the beaches. Colt was living his dream. He had just become a Los Angeles County Fire paramedic stationed in Malibu. He was part of the firefighter brotherhood. The men on his shift replaced the family he no longer had. 
Vehicles moved aside to let the squad pass. Brian wove through the sea of traffic to the center divider lane and picked up speed. “Squad 88 respond¬ing,” he called in. “What have we got?”
“Single vehicle accident,” dispatch radioed back.
Colt’s adrenaline spike subsided. He shook his head. You never knew what you might find when you were toned out. People drove at high speeds on PCH and collisions were common. The worst were the devastating MVA’s—multiple vehicle accidents. During his two years as a firefighter before becoming a paramedic, Colt saw several MVA’s with torn flesh and metal spread across the pavement. A one-car accident at the Surf rider sounded harmless. An old woman with blue hair probably bumped her head when her husband touched the brakes in the parking lot.
In his side view mirror, Colt watched the LifeLine ambulance fall in behind them. Farther back, he glimpsed the red lights on top of 88’s engine, caught in the traffic. The squad screamed past Ferraris and Porsches, SUV’s, motor homes with satellite dishes, Jeeps with surfboards, Harleys and sport bikes—all trying to squeeze over into the right hand lane. A black and white from the Sheriff’s Department made a sudden U-turn and preceded them for the short trip down the coast. After five years in California, Colt was still amazed at the congestion. In Wyoming, where he grew up, the land was empty. The entire population could be on the highway and no one would notice. 
A mile from the Surfrider, traffic was backed up to a standstill. Sheriff’s deputies had placed their cars diagonally across the highway in front of the restaurant, stopping traffic in both directions. Brian swung out into the center lane again. As the squad approached the Surf rider, Colt saw a metal light pole lying on the ground, one jagged end in the parking lot and the other, with a smashed streetlight still attached, sticking out into the right hand lane of PCH. A silver pickup rested on the cement pad where the pole had been anchored. The impact had driven the front bumper, grill and hood halfway to the wind-shield. Colt looked for the telltale circle of smashed glass and blood and hair on the inside of the windshield, but saw nothing.
Brian pulled into the parking lot and stopped. Several feet away, a crowd from the beach wearing bathing suits, restaurant customers wearing shorts and tank tops, and the Surf rider staff dressed in black pants, white shirts, red sus-penders and bow ties, had collected. A surge of excitement pulsed through the throng. People shaded their eyes to get a better look, pointed and spoke to their companions. Several took photos with their cell phones. 
Brian was out of the squad before Colt had his hand on the door handle. “Let’s go,” Brian said. “Glove up.” 
Colt grabbed the orange drug box and followed Brian. 
The ambulance arrived seconds later and the LifeLine EMT’s trailed after them across the parking lot. The crowd parted as they approached. Colt saw a deputy kneeling next to a girl wearing a blue T-shirt, lying on her back. The next thing he saw was what remained of her right leg—a stump with shreds of muscle and tendons in place of her foot and ankle. Blood from a severed artery formed a puddle on the ground next to the deputy. Colt felt a new rush of adrenaline. 
The deputy turned toward them. “Glad you guys are here,” he said. He had pulled everything off his belt and was using it as a tourniquet.  His flashlight, radio, mace, gun and holster, two sets of cuffs and bullet clips lay in a pile at his side. He held the thick brown belt tight around the girl’s right calf, but blood continued to leak from her severed limb. Nervous sweat ran off his face, dripped onto the blacktop and mixed with the blood. His tan shirt had dark rings of perspiration under the arms. 
Colt couldn’t take his eyes off the stump of the girl’s leg. His job was to help those who needed it. Although he would never admit it, sometimes when he knew the victim had done something stupid, Colt was a little less concerned. The person lying in front of him wasn’t one of those reckless jerks injured in a motorcycle crash, or some lunatic who raced down Pacific Coast Highway weaving through traffic. This victim was a girl, badly injured and bleeding out from a severed foot. Although surrounded by Sheriff’s deputies and curious strangers, she seemed alone. Colt didn’t see anyone trying to comfort her.
Brian pulled a tourniquet from the drug box and tightened it around the girl’s leg above the deputy’s belt. “How long have you been here?” he asked the deputy.
The deputy loosened his belt and slipped it off the girl’s leg. He wiped his face on the shoulder of his shirt and looked at his watch. “It happened about fifteen minutes ago, say around 1420. The dispatch was a Code 3. They should’ve said it was a Code Blood.” 

****
Colt knelt down. “Miss, can you give me your name?”
Her eyes were open and she turned her head slightly toward him. Her lips barely moved. Her voice was inaudible. Colt had seen the glazed look of shock before. It was not a good sign. 
“Do you know your name?” he repeated, and leaned toward her. He thought he smelled scented soap on her skin.
“Bibi,” she whispered. 
“Bibi,” Colt said to Brian. “She says her name’s Bibi.” He turned back to the girl. “Do you know where you are?” She looked at Colt but said nothing. He read the response in her eyes: help me.

****

Colt heard a small chopper. It sounded like a lawnmower. He knew it couldn’t be the AirSquad and looked up. A news helicopter circled overhead. He saw another coming up the coast from Los Angeles. In minutes, news crews in vans would arrive, extend their satellite transmission poles, broadcast pictures of the accident and fan out to find people to interview. In the process, several spectators would have a moment of fame on Los Angeles network television. The accident would be a good lead-in on the 11:00 p.m. Sunday night news, but the anchors would be disappointed that a Malibu celebrity wasn’t involved. 

****
“Cold,” she whispered. “Cold.” 
For a split second, he thought she had uttered his name, Colt, and that she knew him. He took her hand again and held it in his own for a few seconds, trying to give her a sense of reassurance. “We’ll take care of you, Bibi.” He looked at her. “Don’t worry. It’ll be OK, I promise.” He wasn’t so sure it would be OK, but that’s what he was trained to say. “Get us some blankets,” he called to one of the LifeLine EMT’s. “She needs blankets.”
As he bent over the girl, Colt’s peripheral vision registered the bare feet, sandals, tennis and running shoes and the shined Sheriff’s boots surrounding the girl. Where was her foot?



About the Book:
Colt Lewis, a rookie fire paramedic, is obsessed with finding the severed foot of his first victim after she dies in his arms. His search takes him into the connected lives of a graduate research student, with the rarest blood in the world and the vampire fetishist who is stalking her. Within the corridors of high-stakes medical research laboratories, the shadow world of body parts dealers, and the underground Goth clubs of Los Angeles, Lewis uncovers a tangled maze of needles, drugs and maniacal ritual, all of which lead to death. But whose death? An unusual and fast-paced LA Noir thriller.

Book Details:
Genre: Suspense, Vampire
Published by: MCM Publishing
Publication Date: October 2012
Number of Pages: 233
ISBN: 0979855136 (ISBN13: 9780979855139)
Series: Code Blood is a Stand Alone Novel

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Code Blood Literary Awards:
* Writer’s Type - First Chapter Competition. January 2011- First Place
* 2012 International Book Awards - Fiction: Cross Genre Category – First Place
* National Indie Excellence Book Awards – Faction (fiction based on fact) - Winner of the 2012 Award
* The 2012 USA Best Book Awards - Fiction: Horror - Winner
* LuckyCinda Publishing Contest 2013 First Place – Thriller
* Reader's Favorite 2013– Finalist – Horror Fiction
* Knoxville Writer’s Guild - 2011 Novella or Novel Excerpt – 2nd Place

Giveaway
6 Winners can get their choice of Kurt Kamm's books in Digital format.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

15 May, 2017

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - What to Expect when People Read Your Novel



*** Special Feature - May 2017 ***


About the Author:
Kurt KammMalibu, California resident Kurt Kamm has written a series of firefighter mystery novels which have won several literary awards. He is also the author of The Lizard’s Tale, which provides a unique look inside the activities of the Mexican drug cartels and the men dedicated to stopping them. Kurt has used his contacts with several California fire departments, as well as with the ATF and DEA to write fact-based (“faction”) novels. In his chilling and suspenseful multi-award winning novel, Code Blood, Kurt takes the reader into the connected lives of a fire paramedic, a Chinese research student with the rarest blood type in the world, and the blood-obsessed killer who stalks her. Colt Lewis, a young Los Angeles County fire paramedic responds to a fatal accident. The victim dies in his arms. Her foot has been severed but is nowhere to be found. Who is the woman, and what happened to her foot? During a weeklong search, Colt risks his career to find the victim’s identity and her missing foot. His search leads him to a dark and disturbing side of Los Angeles…an underworld of body part dealers and underground Goth clubs. He uncovers a tangled maze of drugs, needles, and rituals. Emergency medicine, high-tech medical research, and the unsettling world of blood fetishism and body parts make for an edgy L.A. Noir thriller. Kurt has built an avid fan base among first responders and other readers. A graduate of Brown University and Columbia Law School, Kurt was previously a financial executive and semi-professional bicycle racer. He was also Chairman of the UCLA/Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Foundation for several years.

Visit his author Website & on Facebook!

What to Expect when People Read Your Novel

For most writers, the real reward for writing a novel is self-satisfaction. Unless you become one of the few truly successful writers, great fame and fortune will probably not be on your rewards list. The real payback from writing a novel is writing a novel. I'm talking about the pleasure you get from the considerable effort it takes to conceive a story with a good plot and then the hard work necessary to get it on paper. 

Hopefully, you will get feedback from readers who enjoyed and were entertained by your creation, and if you do, savor those comments. Deposit them in your memory bank for future withdrawal. Just be aware that most people, including some of your best friends, won't give a damn if you've written a novel. They will have other priorities and reading your book will be way down on their list. Don't expect them to run right to their computer and order your masterpiece. I can't tell you the number of times I have been disappointed when I tell a friend or a particular group that I have written something that should be of great interest to them, only to get blank stares. Well, get used to it, it happens.
Now, what about the readers who read your work but were not entertained or enlightened? I know, you spent hours thinking through plot details and adding things which you thought were colorful touches, perfect descriptions, or humorous twists, only to discover that your readers missed or ignored them. Remember, by the time you finish a novel, you have read and reread each line so many times that you can recite everything by heart. Your reader, however, may read just a few paragraphs a day, may be distracted, or may be skimming, and much of your beautiful detail is lost. Others may misinterpret some of your characters and their motives. Never be surprised at the different—and seemingly illogical—ways readers can interpret parts of your story. Again, it's going to happen and you're going to be disappointed. Just get used to it, move on, and if necessary, make a memory bank withdrawal and savor one of the favorable comments you received.

One other thing—it is an absolute crime to allow your novel to be published without professional proofreading and editing. Your cousin Sally can't do it for you, and your best friend Paul can't do it. Please, please pay for professional proofreading and editing. (Note that these are two separate functions, usually performed by two separate people.) It's hard enough to please an audience without subjecting them to misspellings, awkward dialog, and plot inconsistencies. Many readers will not take you seriously and simply stop after the second or third misspelled word.

So, with that said, I hope you enjoy reading Code Blood and I'm waiting for comments—the good, the bad, and the ugly.




About the Book:
Colt Lewis, a rookie fire paramedic, is obsessed with finding the severed foot of his first victim after she dies in his arms. His search takes him into the connected lives of a graduate research student, with the rarest blood in the world and the vampire fetishist who is stalking her. Within the corridors of high-stakes medical research laboratories, the shadow world of body parts dealers, and the underground Goth clubs of Los Angeles, Lewis uncovers a tangled maze of needles, drugs and maniacal ritual, all of which lead to death. But whose death? An unusual and fast-paced LA Noir thriller.

Book Details:
Genre: Suspense, Vampire
Published by: MCM Publishing
Publication Date: October 2012
Number of Pages: 233
ISBN: 0979855136 (ISBN13: 9780979855139)
Series: Code Blood is a Stand Alone Novel

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Code Blood Literary Awards:
* Writer’s Type - First Chapter Competition. January 2011- First Place
* 2012 International Book Awards - Fiction: Cross Genre Category – First Place
* National Indie Excellence Book Awards – Faction (fiction based on fact) - Winner of the 2012 Award
* The 2012 USA Best Book Awards - Fiction: Horror - Winner
* LuckyCinda Publishing Contest 2013 First Place – Thriller
* Reader's Favorite 2013– Finalist – Horror Fiction
* Knoxville Writer’s Guild - 2011 Novella or Novel Excerpt – 2nd Place

Giveaway
6 Winners can get their choice of Kurt Kamm's books in Digital format.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

11 May, 2017

#BookReview :: A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin's maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places. 

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.


Goodreads I Amazon


It is no secret that I am a fan of Sarah J. Maas and so it is needless to say that I have been waiting to get my hands on this book for about a year. 

The book picks up shortly after where A Court of Mist and Fury left off. Feyre is now in the spring court, spying on them to try and find out what the King of Hybern is planning. She utilizes her time pretty well in the Spring court and love her revenge against Ianthe. From the naïve little girl that she was in the first book, Feyre has come a long way to manipulating Tamlin and the Spring Court in the way she did it. Then her journey takes her back to the Night Court and into the war. Now here’s where I had a small little problem. For people who knew that Hybern could attack any moment, they spent an awful amount of time dawdling. I don’t know why anyone would wait twelve days for a meeting (gathering of the High Lords) when the King of Hybern already has the cauldron and could attack at any moment. For a war that could break out any moment, people seemed awfully laid back and lacked the sense of emergency at the beginning that usually comes with a war. 

The first thing that I liked about the book was Feyre’s development. She seemed more in control of her life and her destiny. The cursebreaker finally lives up to the expectation that we usually have from a protagonist. Looking back, she has really developed a lot over the three books and though it was a bit tedious towards the beginning, it was worth the wait to see her transformation. Rhysand’s character though was bit underplayed in this book to give Feyre the full attention. He is supposed to be the most powerful High Lord in the history of Fae, yet we are only told that he ‘fought’ with everything. I wish we had been able to see more of Rhysand in action on the battlefield. Azriel, Cassian and Mor lived up to their names. I loved Mor in action in the Summer Court. And OMG! Amren… yes, we see her true form in this book and that is all I am going to say about this character.

I loved the diversity of characters in the book. A High Lord who is Bi-Sexual, and a major character confessing to like people of the same sex (I am saying it this way so as not to give a spoiler on who that character is) brings in some diversity that is much needed to be normalized. 

The climax was awesome, except for Feyre’s dad’s part. That felt too much like a Bollywood twist to me – Prince of Merchants! Also, I am glad the closure that the author gave to Feyre and Tamlin’s relationship.

Over all it was a complete page-turner.




09 May, 2017

#BookReview :: Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

Freya was never meant be queen. Twenty third in line to the throne, she never dreamed of a life in the palace, and would much rather research in her laboratory than participate in the intrigues of court. However, when an extravagant banquet turns deadly and the king and those closest to him are poisoned, Freya suddenly finds herself on the throne.

Freya may have escaped the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles don’t respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, Freya knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom – and her life.

Freya is determined to survive, and that means uncovering the murderers herself. Until then, she can’t trust anyone. Not her advisors. Not the king’s dashing and enigmatic illegitimate son. Not even her own father, who always wanted the best for her, but also wanted more power for himself.

As Freya’s enemies close in and her loyalties are tested, she must decide if she is ready to rule and, if so, how far she is willing to go to keep the crown.


The blurb of the book on Goodreads say, ‘The Girl of Fire and Thorns meets The Queen of the Tearling in this thrilling fantasy standalone about one girl’s unexpected rise to power.’ So, right off the bat, I want to say that it is not even close to as good as either of the book is.

When at the King’s Banquet, the King and almost all his court is poisoned to death, Freya finds that she is next in line for the throne. She has never been interested in the court and its politics, let alone in the throne. She finds solace in her laboratory and experiments. As an unwilling Queen who must not only learn court politics but also take up her responsibilities to turn the kingdom around from the face of this tragedy. But she isn’t safe… Neither do her courtiers trust her nor can she trust anyone; not even those closest to her. Will she be able to rise to the occasion, or will she succumb to the pressures, or will her enemies get to her first?

 I liked the character of Freya… One because she had a clear mind thanks to her interests in science and experiments.  She also really cared about the common folk and did not let the power of her newly found position go to her head. She was strong for most parts and her awkwardness at the title and the formality that it brought made her feel like a very genuine character. I wished for Naomi, Freya’s best friend, to have a bit more to her role in the story. Madeline was a character about whom I was never sure. There were times when I felt like she was a fake and at times I felt that maybe she genuinely cared. Either way, her character was well portrayed. Fitzeroy was a character that let me down. I expected a lot more trouble and fun from him. His relationship with Freya felt odd and out of place.

The problem with the book is that the antagonists aren’t scary at all. Even when Freya is cornered and one of them facing off with her, he does not come off as powerful even though he supposedly is. Also, the motivation of the other antagonist really wasn’t believable… This was a mass murder and the antagonist’s motivation really fit the action as much. Then there is the fact that the book lacks pace. We go through pages after pages without the plot really progressing. As a result, the book felt too long.

The plot had great potential, but somehow missed the mark.




08 May, 2017

#SpecialFeature :: #Excerpts from Code Blood by Kurt Kamm



*** Special Feature - May 2017 ***


About the Author:
Kurt KammMalibu, California resident Kurt Kamm has written a series of firefighter mystery novels which have won several literary awards. He is also the author of The Lizard’s Tale, which provides a unique look inside the activities of the Mexican drug cartels and the men dedicated to stopping them. Kurt has used his contacts with several California fire departments, as well as with the ATF and DEA to write fact-based (“faction”) novels. In his chilling and suspenseful multi-award winning novel, Code Blood, Kurt takes the reader into the connected lives of a fire paramedic, a Chinese research student with the rarest blood type in the world, and the blood-obsessed killer who stalks her. Colt Lewis, a young Los Angeles County fire paramedic responds to a fatal accident. The victim dies in his arms. Her foot has been severed but is nowhere to be found. Who is the woman, and what happened to her foot? During a weeklong search, Colt risks his career to find the victim’s identity and her missing foot. His search leads him to a dark and disturbing side of Los Angeles…an underworld of body part dealers and underground Goth clubs. He uncovers a tangled maze of drugs, needles, and rituals. Emergency medicine, high-tech medical research, and the unsettling world of blood fetishism and body parts make for an edgy L.A. Noir thriller. Kurt has built an avid fan base among first responders and other readers. A graduate of Brown University and Columbia Law School, Kurt was previously a financial executive and semi-professional bicycle racer. He was also Chairman of the UCLA/Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Foundation for several years.

Visit his author Website & on Facebook!



These are excerpts from Code Blood which describe Markus’ girlfriend Audra, a woman with a full body tattoo. Audra works as an “exotic” dancer at a club in Hollywood, and Markus has a tumultuous (to say the least!) relationship with her.

The inserted picture below was supplied to me by Justice Howard, a world famous photographer of tattooed women, and was adapted for the cover of Code Blood.  The tattoo took several years and reportedly cost $30,000.

Excerpts from Code Blood: 

During the 20-minute drive from the beach to his apartment near the California University campus, Markus leaned against the passenger side door and admired Audra’s body. He wondered what she looked like six years ago, without her tats. She must have been hot even then. Some days he hated the bitch, but today she looked particularly delicious. She was wearing her cut-off jeans, short enough to show the beginning of the curve of her awesome ass, and a tank top that revealed the colors and mosaic of her upper body tattoos. Her long black hair cascaded down over her bare shoulders. While everyone in the parking lot was staring at the accident or looking at Audra, it was easy to pick up the foot. 

****

Audra had lit the candles and Markus could smell the aromatherapy scent drifting out of the bedroom. He didn’t like it nearly as much now that he real¬ized she had the same scent on her hands from the massage oil when she came home from work. He paused at the door of the bedroom and saw her lying face-up on top of the bed wearing only a bra and panties. He watched her stretch, keeping one leg flat and bringing the other up at a right angle. She held on to the piece of old wrought iron cemetery fence they used as a headboard. A small patio table on one side of the bed functioned as a nightstand. A weath¬ered church pew and a massive Victorian dresser with spiral-turned legs were the only other pieces of furniture. Before Audra dragged him to the Salvation Army to buy furniture, Markus slept on a mattress on the floor.

****

The first time he saw her at the Alley Kat, with her tattoos, he couldn’t get over her intense body. He dreamed about her. He thought about her. He kept coming back to look at her like all the other men and even some women. Everyone liked to inhale Audra’s body and fantasize about what they wanted to do with her. He decided he had to have her. He wanted her to belong to him. Now she had moved in with him, but he still had to share her with everyone else at the club. Markus couldn’t bear to go back and watch her dance while everyone ogled her tats and reached out to touch them. 



****

She stormed into the bedroom. “Shut up. I’ve told you, don’t ever say that.” She kicked off one of her high heels. It sailed over the bed and hit the far wall. “You sound just like my father.” She stepped out of her other shoe. “’Audra honey, come to bed with daddy.’ That’s how he always started it.” She moved around the room in the semidarkness, her voice rising. “Every time I heard it, I cringed. When I got older, it got worse. He got more demanding and more impatient and then it was, ‘Audra, NOW!’” She lit several red candles on the dresser, walked to the side of the bed and stood over him in the flickering light, hands on her hips. “You sound just like him. I don’t ever want to hear that again. Not ever.”

****

Audra rolled away from Markus.
“If you like white skin so much, how come you covered yourself with tats?” he asked.
“Because my father’s fingerprints were all over my body. It was like everyone could see what he did to me. As soon as I got off the bus in LA, I started checking out tattoos.”


About the Book:
Colt Lewis, a rookie fire paramedic, is obsessed with finding the severed foot of his first victim after she dies in his arms. His search takes him into the connected lives of a graduate research student, with the rarest blood in the world and the vampire fetishist who is stalking her. Within the corridors of high-stakes medical research laboratories, the shadow world of body parts dealers, and the underground Goth clubs of Los Angeles, Lewis uncovers a tangled maze of needles, drugs and maniacal ritual, all of which lead to death. But whose death? An unusual and fast-paced LA Noir thriller.

Book Details:
Genre: Suspense, Vampire
Published by: MCM Publishing
Publication Date: October 2012
Number of Pages: 233
ISBN: 0979855136 (ISBN13: 9780979855139)
Series: Code Blood is a Stand Alone Novel

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Code Blood Literary Awards:
* Writer’s Type - First Chapter Competition. January 2011- First Place
* 2012 International Book Awards - Fiction: Cross Genre Category – First Place
* National Indie Excellence Book Awards – Faction (fiction based on fact) - Winner of the 2012 Award
* The 2012 USA Best Book Awards - Fiction: Horror - Winner
* LuckyCinda Publishing Contest 2013 First Place – Thriller
* Reader's Favorite 2013– Finalist – Horror Fiction
* Knoxville Writer’s Guild - 2011 Novella or Novel Excerpt – 2nd Place

Giveaway
6 Winners can get their choice of Kurt Kamm's books in Digital format.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

06 May, 2017

A Visit with Rothgar from The Viking’s Witch By Kelli A. Wilkins

A Visit with Rothgar from The Viking’s Witch
By Kelli A. Wilkins
www.amazon.com/author/kelliwilkins

Hi everyone!
Today we’re chatting with Rothgar, the hero from The Viking’s Witch, a Gold IPPY Award winning historical romance from Kelli A. Wilkins. Before Rothgar answers our questions, let’s learn a bit about the book.
The Viking’s Witch


About to be burned at the stake by her fellow villagers, Odaria does what any betrayed witch facing certain death would do. She calls down a curse. Within seconds, rampaging Norsemen raid the village, capturing everyone except her.
But her reprieve is short-lived, and Odaria lands in the clutches of the Norse leader Rothgar. Can she remain true to herself and fight her growing attraction to this domineering man, or will she fall under his influence and be used for his ambitions?
After Rothgar witnesses Odaria’s powers firsthand, he strikes a bargain with her. The raven-haired beauty will use her magical abilities to help him with his quest in exchange for safe passage off the isle. But can this cunning woman be trusted, or is she using him to exact vengeance on her village?
Together they must fight bloodthirsty villagers, battle a mutinous band of Norsemen, find a missing Norse ship, and learn to trust each other…before time is up.

Welcome Rothgar. Can you tell us how you came to the Orkney Islands in Scotland and met Odaria, the heroine in The Viking’s Witch?
Ja. I was sent there to look for my cousin, Orvind. His ship had vanished and my uncle wanted me to find him. After we came ashore, I found Odaria hiding in a gathering hall and I rescued her from a vile attack. To repay my kindness, she hit me! It was a very unusual first-meeting.
You sound very noble. How would you describe yourself?
A strong warrior who does not tolerate disloyalty or fools. I’ll fight for a cause I believe in, but I cannot stomach excess violence or abuse toward women. I’m a disciplined man who stands by my word, and I expect the same from others.
What was your first impression of Odaria?
I had never known a woman like her before—soft and tender one minute, then feisty and fighting the next. I was impressed by her inner strength (she had just been tied to a stake and nearly burned to death), and her ability to cope with tragic situations. Later, when she wept like a frightened girl, I saw how vulnerable she was deep down, and my heart melted.
What is it about Odaria that makes you crazy in a good way?
She’s very strong-willed and opinionated and likes to do things her own way, no matter what. When I first met her, this was very frustrating and drove me crazy, because I knew what was best for her, and yet, she fought me at every turn. Only later did I come to realize that all these traits made me love her even more.
Tell us one thing you had to overcome to win Odaria’s love.
Winning her love wasn’t easy. When we first met, she didn’t trust me at all, and after the way she had been treated in the past, I could see why. But after a little while, we grew to trust (and love) each other, but she always worried that I would betray her. In a way, I did, but I did it for a good cause. Naturally, she didn’t see things my way and I had to earn her trust all over again.
What was the sweetest romantic gesture you ever did for her?
When we were in Scotland, I gave her flowers and a gold brooch that made her happy. (I also did some rather naughty things with her in the bedchamber that I would not dare repeat here!) Now that we’re home, I’ll surprise her with flowers, jewelry, or a very romantic night spent under the stars.
What is your most important goal in life?
Now that Odaria and I have settled into a peaceful home life, my main goal is to provide for her and keep her safe. Odaria likes adventure, so I also strive to keep our lives interesting and make sure we never grow bored.
Who is the one person you respect and trust the most?
A man must trust his wife. Odaria has proven that she’s unlike any other woman, and I trust her with my life. I have the utmost respect for her and know that she will fight with me, and for me, if necessary. I also have great respect for my berserkr friend, Nordskog. His great courage and loyalty saved Odaria and me from certain death.
What is your greatest fear?
Losing Odaria. I lost my first wife and son in a fire, and I would never be able to live through something like that again.
What is your greatest hope?
That Odaria and I have several healthy, strong children who make us proud.
What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome?
I had to overcome many obstacles in my life, and a major one was learning how to carry on after my first wife died. For a few years after that terrible tragedy, I gave up raiding and traveling and was considered “soft” by many warriors. (Laughs). I’ve certainly overcome any reluctance to show them my stronger side—and many of them still have the bruises and scars to prove it! Sailing to Scotland and meeting Odaria renewed my strength and self-confidence and gave me a second chance at a happy life.
If Odaria could describe you in one word, what would it be?
Sexy? Strong? Virile? Brave? Bold? (Laughs.) Although all of those are true, knowing Odaria the way I do, if you asked her the question, she’d tell you: “Mine.”
Do you sometimes want to strangle your writer? Thrash her to within an inch of her life for what she put you through in the book?
Yes! Over the course of the book, Kelli put me through several very emotional trials. I had to discipline (and battle) fellow Norsemen, contend with the local villagers, protect Odaria, and still look for my cousin. It was a very exhausting few days, but I know that Kelli did it all for a good reason. She brought Odaria and I together and changed our lives forever. We’re both very happy now and quite indebted to Kelli for all she’s done for us. (Although she could have made things a little easier!) I’m also proud to tell everyone that The Viking’s Witch won a Gold IPPY Award for best romance ebook, so Kelli did an excellent job telling my story.

Thank you for your time, Rothgar. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Yes. On Kelli’s behalf, I’d like to invite everyone to visit her website and social media pages to catch up on her latest romances and other news. She has written several other great books in all genres (historical, paranormal, gay, erotica, and contemporary) that readers will enjoy. Thank you for letting me share my thoughts today.

Now here’s an excerpt from The Viking’s Witch:
Odaria scanned the cookroom and spotted a large table piled high with food. Brennan must have been planning a feast to celebrate her death. There would be plenty of meat and beer in the underground storage area. Men liked to eat. The Norsemen must be hungry from their long journey. Mayhap she could offer Rothgar a meal and strike a bargain with him.
“Are you hungry?” she asked, cocking her head. “I know where to find food and drink, wood for the fire, clean water, and—”
Hvat ist das plass?”
She scowled at him, trying to decipher his words. A few seconds later, she understood. “This is a cookroom. Women in the village prepare meals here. See?” She waved at the iron pots, wooden pitchers, and other cookery items stacked on the shelves around the room. “They make food.”
Rothgar rolled his eyes. “Ja. Vat ist dat?” He pointed to the door behind her.
“The gathering hall. The men conduct business here. There is a room upstairs for sleeping. The larder, the food and drink, is below,” she said slowly, hoping he’d understand.
He nodded and inched closer to her. She tried to move away, but she had nowhere to go. Her back was pressed against the door. Rothgar grinned and cupped her chin in his wide hand. Her heart fluttered. What was he doing? She stared into his eyes as he bowed his head. His rough beard grazed her cheek as his lips lightly brushed against hers.
Her body tingled, and a wave of dizziness washed over her. The room spun and seemed to grow dim. As everything faded, she had a clear vision of wrapping her arms around Rothgar’s neck and eagerly pulling him close for a kiss. Dizzy, she pitched forward. Rothgar caught her and clutched her to his chest.
“Shh,” he soothed, running his hand through her loose hair. “I will not harm you, Odaria.”
She relaxed against his broad chest, letting him support her weight. His touch was calming, and she felt safe here, leaning against Rothgar as she would rest against a thick tree. She inhaled deep. Rothgar didn’t stink of rancid sweat like the other men. He smelled clean and salty, like the sea. The scent comforted her. She could almost fall asleep where she stood.
Rothgar curled his arms around her ribs. She didn’t protest. In spite of everything, he hadn’t harmed her and he had saved her from that horrible Norseman in the red tunic.
After a few moments, her dizzy spell passed, and she gazed at him. “You are not like the others. You are different, Rothgar.”
He smiled. “Ja, in some ways. But fear not, Odaria. I will not share you with the others. I wish to have you all to myself.” Rothgar chuckled and winked at her. “Now, show me this food.”

“Aye.” She had no choice but to obey Rothgar’s wishes—for now.

Order The Viking’s Witch here:


About the Author:
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 19 romance novels, and 5 non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels.
Her trilogy of erotic romance novellas, Midsummer Night’s Delights, Midwinter Night’s Delights, and Ultimate Night’s Delights was released in spring 2017.
Loving a Wild Stranger was published in January 2017. This historical/pioneer romance is set in the wilds of the Michigan Territory and blends tender romance with adventure.
Kelli's third Medallion Press romance, Lies, Love & Redemption was released in September 2016. This spicy historical western is set on the Nebraska prairie in 1877.

Her writing book, You Can Write—Really! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction is a fun and informative guide filled with writing exercises and helpful tips all authors can use.

Kelli posts on her Facebook Author Page and Twitter. She also writes a weekly Blog
Visit her Website to learn more about all of her writings, read book excerpts, reviews, and more. Readers can sign up for her newsletter HERE.

Catch Up with Kelli:

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