Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review: Keys to the Coven by Vicky Loebel

Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance
Formats available: ebook and print
Publication Date: June 21, 2012
Published by: Pentachronistic Press
Word Count: approx. 100,000 (Novel)
Print pages: 349
Epub pages: 308
Kindle Locations: 5140 (story text ends at 99%)
(these details refer to edition before glossary was added)
Includes Table of Contents

Source: My Library

Series: Demonic Interventions, Book1



DESCRIPTION: 
Get ready for "Keys to the Coven," a witty, tightly plotted, (adult) urban-fantasy/romance set in an original universe where karma is power, sex is karma, and it's not who you know but whose soul you own that matters.*

To become a demon, you must die in complete and utter despair. Three hundred years ago, Max passed that test with flying colors and joined the afterlife resolving never again to have innocent blood on his hands. Now a successful Demonic Intervention Agent, Max has been given the job of breaking a young woman's family curse. But what she doesn't know, what Max can't bring himself to tell her, is that completing his mission almost certainly means her death.

When Felicity Woodsen inherits her mother's coven, she learns each firstborn Woodsen daughter must become the consort of an evil-arch demon. Felicity's only hope is to ally with the mysteriously charming Max. But is saving her body from one demon worth the price of losing her soul to another?

Roxashael became a demon when his Roman captors sent his family, one by one to be devoured by lions. The lesson was clear: power is good; lots of power is better. Two-thousand years later, Rocky has power. He's purchased hundreds of souls, and he's created the Minsk Homunculus, a magic artifact that, by binding a human witch as his consort, turns him into an arch-demon and places him above the goody-two-shoes laws of karma.

Unfortunately, Rocky made a mistake. He fell in love with Felicity's mother and in a moment of weakness promised to give up his demon-consort charm. Now Felicity's mother is dead, the Minsk Homunculus is slated for destruction, and Rocky's power as an arch-demon is about to end.

No demon can break a promise. If Rocky refuses to give up the Minsk Homunculus, he'll become the lowest, most abject slave in Hell.

But then, why break promises when they're so easy to corrupt?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
*Caution: This book contains violence, strong sexual themes, moderately explicit sex between consenting adults, (unfulfilled) threats against children, and one completely gratuitous reference to unicorns. Not intended for readers under 18.


MY THOUGHTS:
I was a bit confused but totally engaged by this book. Yep, that's what I said...confused but engaged. I never thought I'd say that--never even thought those two words could live happily together in my brain about a book. But there it is.

This book has a deliciously complicated plot. There are a lot of rules about how Karma works and the hierarchy of witches, demons, demis, and Hell. I liked all that. The author created an interesting world and I thought it gave the story some uniqueness as I don't recall reading a story that approached the use of Karma like that. Not saying that there isn't one out there, but if there is then I haven't read it yet. However, this is also one of the things that got confusing about the story. A glossary at the end of the book to explain a lot of these concepts and the characters/creatures in the story would have been very helpful and I'm sure I would have referenced it several times. (See Addendum at end of review.)  These things were also explained as the story evolved but it was often in bits and pieces and I had to keep backtracking and trying to find where something explained. Did I mention a glossary would have been helpful? Many PNR/UF books with complicated worlds or characters do this and I always end up referencing it. Finally I just gave up and went with the flow hoping it would all make sense later. And for the most part, it did. Twists and turns and double-crosses abound in this book (well there are demons after all!). You'll need to read closely to keep up.

Another thing that may have contributed to being a little confused other than the plot was the writing style. Sometimes the way things were explained didn't always feel very clear and the style of dialogue didn't always suit me. In particular, pieces of related dialogue were occasionally interrupted by some rather long internal monologues or descriptions. By the time it got back to the dialogue I had to go back to where the dialogue started to remember what the heck was being discussed. Max could also read Felicity's mind but that wasn't really made clear near the beginning so the reader has to kind of figure that out. Until then, it felt like he was making odd comments that made me wonder what the heck he was talking about. I think the author is leaving some stuff up to the reader to figure out or imagine on their own, which again, is not a preferred writing style for me.

One thing I didn't get enough explanation on was how Max became a demon. This was also fed to the reader in bits and pieces but I don't think I got enough of the full story to be satisfied. I really liked Max, right from the beginning I knew he was the good guy and that I would like his character. Max takes quite a beating in this book...repeatedly. He is like the energizer bunny of demons. Takes a licking and keeps on ticking. Of course, he often gives as much as he gets. The beginning, by the way, pulled me right into the story immediately. I like it when a story can do that, and it didn't let up. I was never bored and the story never felt like it was dragging. Sometimes when I start a book I just know it's going to suit me and I'm in for a good read and this was one of them.

There were also a few of things that didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Hmm... how do I explain this without giving something away. Okay, there is a point in the story where Rocky has Max at his mercy (actually there a few of those instances...energizer bunny, remember?). Well, Max shows up unexpectedly to save the day a bit later in the story and it was never explained what exactly Rocky did with him or how he got out of it. The other thing was that I didn't buy the fact that Wu Fen-Chu didn't know enough about demons to not know how they were made, which is important for the scene where this occurs. On the other hand, even if he did know he may not have had a choice. Finally, Rocky referred to Max several times as Jew-boy. There was only one very brief mention of Max's mother being Jewish before she converted. That's it. No other mention, emphasis or reference to him or his mother being Jewish. It was just not a factor in this story in any way, so it really didn't make any sense to me why Rocky would focus on that. There are probably much worse and effective names Rocky could have called him. It doesn't bother me because of PC-ness. If it had some relevance to the story I'd have no problem with it. It just felt out of place and gratuitous.

Besides Max, the other characters were also an interesting bunch. I thought they were well-rounded and I was invested in them. Kate is quite the ticket and I feel there may have been some opening left for her near the end to come back in a future book (I may also be reading too much into it). I adored the little shade that comes into the latter part of the story. Then of course there is Roxashael (Rocky) who was quite the villain. And considering what he did to Felicity's family and ancestors, he was kind of a sicko. Yet there would be times when he would exhibit some tender moments--mainly for Rose--and would then make a complete turnabout and do something twisted and evil, often with a good dose of snark. And you know what happens to him in the end? Well, I'll tell ya...um, no I won't. C'mon now, did you really think I was going to give away the ending? Let's just say this...Karma can be a real b*tch!

I also enjoyed the sense of wit and humor in this book. Max would come out with some good deadpan remarks that gave me a chuckle and Felicity has a bit of spunk and snark, too. Oh, and I can't believe I almost forgot this... at the beginning of each chapter is a snippet from "The Girl's Guide to Demons" and some of them are hilarious. I couldn't wait to see what the next one would be. The snippet usually has some relevance to what happens in that chapter.

So I've said I was a bit confused but I also was completely engaged in the story. I also mentioned a few things that didn't suit me and some that did. I really struggled with what to rate this book. Four or five stars? Four or five stars? I went with 4 stars. I had to account for some of my quibbles but in the end it didn't really diminish my enjoyment of the story. In the end, for me, I ask myself how much I enjoyed it. How much did it engage me? How un-put-downable was it? How much did I want to get back to it when I wasn't reading? How much did I want to return to this world? How much do I want to read the next book? The answer to all of them in this case is...a lot. So, yes Virginia, a book can have issues and I can still love it.

Keys to the Coven appears to be part of a series, which I gathered from the "Demonic Intervention Series" in parenthesis after the title--yeah, I'm smart like that ;) However, a quick lookie-loo around the interwebz for more info on the next book revealed... nothing. Well, maybe a short reference somewhere I can't even find now about a possible novella that didn't really tell me anything. I really want to know what is up next in this series and what it will be about so I can keep it on my radar. Hopefully, I won't forget about it by the time the next book rolls around.

Rating: 4  (but creeping toward 4.5 the more I think about it)

Typos found: only 1 to 3


Addendum: After posting this review originally on Amazon, I learned that a glossary was indeed in the works and was added to the most recent edition of this book.  It is also available on the author's website.  Even after reading the book, it was really helpful in clarifying some areas of confusion and was interesting to read.


* * * * *

This book is available in both ebook  and print formats. You can find Vicky Loebel on the web at:

Website: http://www.vickyloebel.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/VickyLoebelBooks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/vickyloebel


 Get the book!  Amazon
Learn more about this book in the Whatcha Reading? spotlight below.
Find it on Goodreads HERE

Whatcha Reading? Keys to the Coven by Vicky Loebel

Whatcha Reading? is a feature that spotlights currently released titles. Today we have Vicky Loebel here to tell us about her book Keys to the Coven (see my review above).  As I noted in my review, this book confused me a bit at times but I ended up being totally engaged by it and really enjoyed it in the end...enough that I wanted to visit this world again.  I needed to know more about it.  So I asked Vicky to visit the blog and give us  a closer look. 



Keys to the Coven
Demonic Interventions, #1
Word count: approx. 100,000 (Novel)

Get ready for "Keys to the Coven," a witty, tightly plotted, (adult) urban-fantasy/romance set in an original universe where karma is power, sex is karma, and it's not who you know but whose soul you own that matters.*

To become a demon, you must die in complete and utter despair. Three hundred years ago, Max passed that test with flying colors and joined the afterlife resolving never again to have innocent blood on his hands. Now a successful Demonic Intervention Agent, Max has been given the job of breaking a young woman's family curse. But what she doesn't know, what Max can't bring himself to tell her, is that completing his mission almost certainly means her death.

When Felicity Woodsen inherits her mother's coven, she learns each firstborn Woodsen daughter must become the consort of an evil-arch demon. Felicity's only hope is to ally with the mysteriously charming Max. But is saving her body from one demon worth the price of losing her soul to another?

Roxashael became a demon when his Roman captors sent his family, one by one to be devoured by lions. The lesson was clear: power is good; lots of power is better. Two-thousand years later, Rocky has power. He's purchased hundreds of souls, and he's created the Minsk Homunculus, a magic artifact that, by binding a human witch as his consort, turns him into an arch-demon and places him above the goody-two-shoes laws of karma.

Unfortunately, Rocky made a mistake. He fell in love with Felicity's mother and in a moment of weakness promised to give up his demon-consort charm. Now Felicity's mother is dead, the Minsk Homunculus is slated for destruction, and Rocky's power as an arch-demon is about to end.

No demon can break a promise. If Rocky refuses to give up the Minsk Homunculus, he'll become the lowest, most abject slave in Hell.

But then, why break promises when they're so easy to corrupt?

*Caution: This book contains violence, strong sexual themes, moderately explicit sex between consenting adults, (unfulfilled) threats against children, and one completely gratuitous reference to unicorns. Not intended for readers under 18.

---oOo---  

1) What’s the basic premise of Keys to the Coven?
The hero, Max, is a demon whose job is destroying evil magic artifacts. The heroine, Felicity, has just inherited a very evil artifact, indeed. She’s happy to hand it over, but there are two problems: she doesn’t know where it is, and she doesn’t know that destroying the artifact almost certainly means her death.

2) What inspired the idea for this book?
I’m a fan of old spy shows & wanted my demon to be a sort of secret agent among the living. The catch is that to operate freely, he has to stay emotionally connected to the living world. And the best way to stay connected is through glorious, life-affirming sex. Naturally, he’s forced to team up with the one woman who’s immune to his charms.

3) Who is the audience for this story?
Although it has the central relationship (and happy end) of a romance, “Keys” reads more like Urban Fantasy or Science Fiction in that the pace is fast (possibly unrelenting) without much space given to either exposition or the characters’ inner lives.

Hopefully “Keys” will appeal to readers who like a complicated supernatural dark comedy where plot and world-building come together as puzzle pieces throughout the course of the story.

4) How would you define the genre for this book?  Are there any underlying themes?
It has the snarky tone and supernatural elements of Urban Fantasy. The main question running through the book is: How far are people willing to kid themselves to get what they want? For most of the characters, that answer is “pretty far!”

5) What sets Keys to the Coven apart from other books in the genre?
I don’t like exposition and for better or (possibly) worse went to great lengths to build my world and plot in story pieces rather than info dumps. So it’s different in that the reader’s expected to put the plot together, not just pick it up.

I think it’s also unusual in that every secondary character has his or her own subplot, and that they all tie together in the end. I love twists, turns, and humor, and Keys is loaded with all three. So far, nobody’s told me they predicted the end!
  
6) How would you describe the heat level?
There are a few spicy scenes between Max and Felicity, but it’s well short of erotic.

7) Will Keys to the Coven be part of a series? If so, can you tell us more about it?
I had originally planned to continue the series with Max and Felicity as a sort of Paranormal Nick and Nora Charles, but that’s on a back-burner at present. My work-in-process is a light-hearted zombie novella called “Speakeasy Dead” set in Felicity’s coven but time-shifted back to prohibition.
      
8) Who did the cover art for your book?
I did the original cover, carefully avoiding the use of people or natural objects that would tax my Photoshop skills. Derek Murphy of Creativindie helped me do a recent revamp. It was really fun working with a professional designer!
  
9) What is your favorite scene or line from Keys to the Coven?
I’m fond of the opening chapter quotes from the (imaginary) “Girl’s Guide to Demons,” a book of advice for would-be traffickers in the supernatural.

10) How did you choose the names of the characters?
“Felicity” got a happy name because she’s destined to break her family curse. “Max” sounded vaguely old-word, which fit his tragic fairy-tale backstory (that ended up getting cut from the book).

Felicity’s ne’er do well brother, Alton, was the most fun to name, because my son and I were fans of “Good Eats,” in which the star occasionally used to dress up as his own evil twin.

11) Can you give us some better insight into one of the characters?
I think the villain, Rocky, poses an interesting question of “amoral vs. evil.” He has no interest in hurting anyone. He wouldn’t cross the street to kick a dog. But there’s pretty much no limit to what he’ll do to maintain his status. That ended up feeling scarier to me than someone who wants revenge or enjoys hurting people, and left me thinking maybe “amoral” is the worst of the two.

12) Karma is an important concept in this book. Can you explain how it works in this world?
It looks complicated, but there are just three rules to my fictional take on karma: (1) It only applies to dead people and/or living people who meddle with demons (2) Good deeds award karma (3) Everything else costs karma on a sliding scale. (See? Simple!)
  
13) Is there anything else you would like readers to know?
I once spent a whole weekend at a Science Fiction convention with Jim and Shannon Butcher and managed not to squeal, jump up and down, mention my book, and/or leave discreet copies under their chairs. I thought someone ought to know of my restraint.

14) Where can readers find your book? Is it available in ebook, print, or both?
“Keys to the Coven” is available on Amazon as an ebook and brand new (yay!) paperback. There’s no Digital Rights Management, so the book can easily be loaded into a free program like Calibre and transferred to other e-readers.

15) Where can readers find you online?
Website: http://www.vickyloebel.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/VickyLoebelBooks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/vickyloebel

---oOo---  
FIRST WORDS...
     Hellfire roared through the pedestrian underpass, fusing concrete to glass.  Max dove forward, flattening himself into nonexistent cover, hunching head and neck into his demon-skin jacket.  A flaming nest of what had once been baby birds thudded to the bubbling pavement.  He kicked off the smoldering remains of socks, wriggled bound wrists over his naked butt and past his feet, and smeared a handful of sticky asphalt--ouch--onto the hemorrhaging gash much too high for comfort on the inside of his thigh.
---oOo---
Before proceeding, take a moment to consider why you've opened this volume. If the answer is power, spite, sex, or petty revenge, you've come to the right place!
-- The Girl's Guide to Demons
 
EXCERPT from Keys to the Coven
Copyright 2012 Vicky Loebel

Max, my demon hero, has just met Felicity—a reluctant witch who steadfastly refuses to believe magic is real—and is giving her a ride into town. He’s attracted to her but perplexed because, unlike most humans, he can’t automatically see into Felicity’s heart. (I’ve edited this down a little to make sense out of context.)

********

THERE WERE TWO SEATS in the Bugatti Veyron, so the rest had to fend for themselves. Max slipped his key into the slot next to the Veyron’s steering column. Beside him, Felicity Woodsen slumped onto lush leather upholstery and lowered her eyes.

“I hate this place.”

Her mother’s home? Max pressed the start button. The sixteen-cylinder engine roared once and settled into a willing growl. He switched on headlights and pushed the Hansel-and-Gretel gloom collecting outside Rose Woodsen’s estate a couple of yards into the forest. Shafts of reflected sunlight flickered in and out among the trees as if searching for lost boys to stuff into an oven.

He could see her point.

“I hate my life.”

Max eased the Veyron into a three-point turn and fell in behind the jeep on the unpaved surface. He wondered which parts of her life Felicity Woodsen particularly hated and whether he could interest her in one minor, short-term alteration. He wondered how eager she was to keep her legal appointment in town. He wondered whether it would be possible to pull off the road somewhere and conduct an informal investigation. There were plenty of side roads between here and Falstaff and while the Bugatti was on the cozy side for seduction, well, he’d entertained women in worse.

Far worse.

A bat swooped out of shadow and swept past the car. The Bugatti crept between potholes and weeds. On the plus side, once he got her out of her clothes, he’d know whether she had the Minsk Homunculus. On the minus side….

Max glanced at Felicity. He liked her. She had spirit.

On the minus side, he had no idea how she’d react.

Which made things awkward.

Ordinarily, Max knew what people wanted; he understood their desires. It was automatic. It was one of the few perks of a somewhat thankless existence, and provided he was careful not to abuse the effect—and Max was always careful—it guaranteed any lady he made advances on had already decided to advance upon him. Felicity, however, seemed almost immune to his demonic empathy. He couldn’t read her at all. She might not believe in witchcraft, but she’d clearly been protected by a strong witch sometime in life.

He ought to stop the car and search her, he supposed, but she’d probably be offended. And an offended sorceress—whether she believed in magic or not—could be a disagreeable companion. Besides, she’d had a hard day already. Stripping her naked against her will seemed ungracious.

Which brought Max to his original puzzle. How did a man undress a woman graciously if he didn’t know she was eager to undress herself? He thought it had something to do with dinners and candles and pretending to run out of gas. That might work if the Bugatti used gas, though this particular one didn’t, and more generally, if the lady believed the man was stupid enough not to refuel his car.

In other words, to find a partner a man either had to be stupid or pick a woman who was exceptionally dim.

It didn’t seem like much of a system. And anyhow, what if a man went to all that trouble, ran out of gas, and the woman still pulled away? His mortal background provided little to draw on. His first attempt at sex had gotten him killed.


Want to sample some more?
 
Take a Look Inside or download a sample at Amazon 
Add it to your Goodreads shelf HERE
 
---oOo---
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Once a systems programmer for NASA, Vicky Loebel followed a logical progression from computer scientist to technical writer to urban fantasy author before finally settling in as a demon from Hell, because it isn't who you know, but whose soul you own that really matters. Vicky is the author of award winning amateur fiction and an avid reader of anything written with panache. She lives in the human world with a rotating cadre of four men on the slopes of Mt. Lemmon, Arizona, and on the internet at http://www.vickyloebel.com.


---oOo---

Vicky, thanks so much for joining us today and sharing more info about your book.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Review: Marked by Odin - Coral Moore

Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy
Formats available: ebook and print
Publication Date: November 20, 2012
Published by: Bared Teeth Publishing
Word Count: approx. 57,000 (Novel)
Print pages: 214
Epub pages: 167
Kindle Locations: 4417 (story text ends at 99%)
Includes Table of Contents

Source: LibraryThing Giveaway

Series: Broods of Fenrir, Book 2





DESCRIPTION:
Some scars are more than skin deep.

After killing his sadistic brother, Brand inherits the responsibility for his brother’s brood. Now, he must convince the brood that their barbaric way of life belongs in the past and demand change in order to secure their future.

Crushed by the death of his mate, Gunni believes it’s only a matter of time before he succumbs to the loneliness that plagues his life. He follows Brand out of loyalty, but he secretly craves the peace that death will bring—until he is confronted with the most infuriating human he’s ever met.

Leo is a throwback who has never quite fit in with human society. Drawn into the savage world of the werewolves, not entirely against his will, he discovers that the Broods of Fenrir don’t fear much… except him.

These three conflicting personalities unite in pursuit of an unscrupulous trapper who has taken a member of Brand’s brood captive. They must track him down before he uncovers what they are and their secret is revealed.

Warnings: Violence, Strong Language and Sexual Content


MY THOUGHTS:
I read the first book in this series, Broods of Fenrir, a while ago and really enjoyed it. When I saw this one show up on a giveaway I didn't hesitate to request it. I was confident that it would be an enjoyable read. My assumption was correct and I absolutely enjoyed this book, but it did give me a surprise I didn't expect. It ended up being a good surprise for me, but I think some other readers may not appreciate being blindsided when the story develops into a male/male romance. And this book is definitely a romance. The story revolves around Gunni and Leo's building relationship that must overcome obstacles. Other aspects of the story almost take a back seat for a significant portion of the book. There is the eventual "I love you" moment, lots of smex, and an HEA with no cliffhanger...so yeah, romance.

Based on my experience with the first book and this book's cover art, blurb and tags, I had a certain expectation for the story that was turned on its head as I read the book. Fortunately, I'm a romance reader and I like m/m romance so it turned out fine for me. In fact, it turned out more than fine (I'm sooo happy for Gunni!) but a reader expecting a more straight-up (no pun intended) urban fantasy may be sorely disappointed. So with that elephant in the room out of the way, let's move on to the review.

The story picks up a short time after the first book ends and you will see several of the same characters in this story, primarily Brand, Dagny, and Gunni. However, the story will end up focusing on Gunni and Leo. Brand and Dagny will play a secondary role but still in the story in a significant way. Almost like an ensemble cast but with a heavier focus on Gunni and Leo.

The opening scene involves Gunni and it really caught my attention and drew me in. Why? Because of what happened to Gunni in the first book. My heart hurt for him and I was already emotionally invested in his character. I wanted him to have a happy ending. Gunni in his wolf form is doing some recon on a brood that Brand needs to get under control. Gunni is spotted so he runs and then gets run over by a car. He ends up at a vet's office. I had thought the vet, Cass, was going to be Gunni's love interest and as the story progressed, it seemed to point in that direction with Gunni even having protective feelings over her. Then suddenly Leo comes into the story and wham...the story just takes a total turn into another direction. I almost wonder if Cass was an intentional romantic red herring. I even went back to the blurb to reread it and I can now (with my knowledge of the story) see a very vague hint at it but without knowing the story, I would not have picked up on it.

I did like the romance between Gunni and Leo. It was very tender and emotional. I thought they made a good match. They both had emotional scars that needed healing and they complemented each other well. I believed in their relationship and felt a connection between them. The sex in this story is explicit to a certain point but it does not reach what I consider an erotic romance level. It felt like the author was being careful not to cross certain lines in her descriptions of the love scenes but did so without resorting to corny euphemisms (which I so appreciate!). There were even a couple of scenes that faded to black. Even though more explicit scenes would not have bothered me, I felt the author struck a good balance and there was enough to help build the connection between Gunni and Leo. Did I mention that I am soooo happy for Gunni? Because I am!

As I mentioned briefly above, the conflict involving the poacher does take a back seat at times to focus on the romance and that part of the story actually did seem to fizzle a bit, but there is some intrigue and it does come back into the story eventually. Much like the romance, the plot takes a sudden turn and goes in a different direction. It doesn't come out of nowhere though; there are events earlier in the book that set it up if you pay attention. In the end, I think it played out in an interesting way.

I enjoy the author's writing style. It is easy to read and flows well. The dialogue for the most part is comfortable and felt natural to me except for some moments during the love scenes that felt a bit corny but I expect that from almost any romance. I mean love can be corny at times, right? As long as it doesn't go overboard, I'm okay with it.

I really enjoyed this book. In fact, I liked it better than the first book. It was a page turner for me and I look forward to the next book. I'm very curious who the focus will be on in the next story. There are also a few things that come up later in the story that I think will be carried over. I recommend reading the first book, Broods of Fenrir, before you read this one. The characters carry over and there is an overarching storyline. Also, understanding the emotional place that Gunni is in (which is a result of what happens in the first book) is important to the story, IMO. I definitely have the next book on my radar and look forward to continuing the series. And for the last time I just have to say...I'm sooooo happy for Gunni! :)

Rating: 4.5 stars

Typos found: 10

* * * * *

This book is available in both ebook  and print formats. You can find Coral Moore on the web at:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/coralm
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCoralMoore
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5341919.Coral_Moore
Blog: http://www.chaosandinsanity.com/

Get the book!  Amazon B&N | Smashwords

Learn more about this book in the Whatcha Reading? spotlight below.

Find it on Goodreads HERE

Whatcha Reading? Marked by Odin - Coral Moore

Whatcha Reading? is a feature that spotlights currently released titles. I just recently finished reading  Marked by Odin by Coral Moore (see my review above) and enjoyed it so much I begged asked Coral to stop by and give us a closer look at her newest release.


Marked by Odin
Broods of Fenrir, #2
Word Count: approx: 57,000 (Novel)

Some scars are more than skin deep.

After killing his sadistic brother, Brand inherits the responsibility for his brother’s brood. Now, he must convince the brood that their barbaric way of life belongs in the past and demand change in order to secure their future.

Crushed by the death of his mate, Gunni believes it’s only a matter of time before he succumbs to the loneliness that plagues his life. He follows Brand out of loyalty, but he secretly craves the peace that death will bring—until he is confronted with the most infuriating human he’s ever met.

Leo is a throwback who has never quite fit in with human society. Drawn into the savage world of the werewolves, not entirely against his will, he discovers that the Broods of Fenrir don’t fear much… except him.

These three conflicting personalities unite in pursuit of an unscrupulous trapper who has taken a member of Brand’s brood captive. They must track him down before he uncovers what they are and their secret is revealed.

Warnings: Violence, Strong Language and Sexual Content

---oOo---

1) What’s the basic premise of Marked by Odin?
Marked by Odin follows Gunni after the events of the first book, which ends with the death of his mate. In her memory he’s trying to help bring Brand’s new brood out of the savage past and into the modern world. At the beginning of the second book he’s moving through life in a daze, not caring much what happens to him.

2) What inspired the idea for this book?
I hated the way I left Gunni at the end of the first book. He was one of my favorite characters, though he had a very minor role in the first book. I knew when I started this one that I wanted to show more about who he really was because Gunni exemplifies the direction Brand wants the broods to move in.

3) Who is the audience for this story?
Adult readers of contemporary fantasy who like a darker edge to their stories.

4) How would you define the genre for this book?  Are there any underlying themes?
Like the first book, I think this book straddles the line between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. The first book leans a bit more toward UF and the second is closer to PNR. I believe the third will head back toward UF, but I haven’t started it yet so I can’t say for sure.

Love conquers all? *laugh* I’m afraid I’m not very good at laying out themes. I hope readers do get something out of my stories theme-wise, but I don’t like to stipulate what it should be.

5) What sets Marked by Odin apart from other books in the genre?
The Brood books are darker than most Urban Fantasy/Paranormal. There’s more bad language, violence, and sex than most UF, though not as much sex as a true Paranormal Romance.

6) How would you describe the heat level?
Spicy or Steamy.

7) Can you tell us more about the Broods of Fenrir series?
Each book in the series will focus on the story of a different character, but there will be an over-arching plot that follows Brand in his efforts to modernize brood society. Book three will be mainly about Erik and the ramifications of what happens at the end of Marked.

8) Who did the cover art for your book?
The amazing Amanda Kelsey of Razzle Dazzle Design has done all my book covers to date.

9) What is your favorite scene or line from Marked by Odin?
It’s really hard to pick one favorite scene. I guess I’d go with the scene where Leo and Gunni encounter a bear while tracking Disa who has gone missing. I love their back and forth dialogue in that scene. It gives insight into both of their characters that you wouldn’t get to see otherwise.

10) How did you choose the names of the characters?
The names of my characters in the Broods world are based on Old Norse names. Mostly I chose names I thought sounded good as opposed to matching their meaning with personalities.

11) Can you give us some better insight into one of the characters?
Ingrid is a character that many people (myself included) love and hate in equal measure. The question of whether she’s truly insane or not comes up a lot, and I think that question gets partially answered in Marked. She’s not as crazy as she lets on, nor as cruel. She’s survived so long in a male-dominated society mainly by manipulating those who would destroy her. In Brand she saw a better future for all of them, and she’s been trying to engineer that future since he was born. 

12) Can you explain how the Brood society works in this world?
There are two factions in Brood society, traditionalists and modernists. The traditional faction doesn’t want anything to change. They support keeping to the primitive, brutal ways they learned from the Scandinavian barbarians. The modern faction believes there’s no reason they should adhere to the tenets of a society that no longer exists.

13) Is there anything else you would like readers to know?
My fiction is dark, and has been described more than once as disturbing, but there’s always a reason behind what happens. I like to torture my characters, literally and figuratively, because I think pain makes the story better.

14) Where can readers find your book? Is it available in ebook, print, or both?
Marked by Odin is available in eBook at All Romance, Amazon (UK), Barnes & Noble, Drive Thru Fiction, iTunes, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also available in paperback at Amazon and CreateSpace.

15) Where can readers find you online?
Most commonly I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, or my blog.

---oOo---
FIRST WORDS...
     Gunni sniffed several times, his muzzle lifted high. The cold air tickled the labyrinthine passages of his nose. Scents of fear and pain assaulted him, even from a few hundred feet away. Brand had sent him ahead to scout the Vancouver brood, and what he had to report was not encouraging. Madness was the best way to describe the events taking place in the valley below him.
 ---oOo---

EXCERPT from Marked by Odin
Copyright 2012 Coral Moore

Brand hadn’t stepped foot in a longhouse in centuries. He’d known some of the broods still used them as meeting houses, but he never thought he’d have reason to enter one again. The rough-hewn timbers and dirt floor sent him back to his youth, and not in a good way. The room was long and narrow, with a raised platform of logs at the far end where the earl held court. To one side, a set of stairs led to an open loft. Dark splotches that smelled like old blood stained the floor. He paced the dais and cast annoyed glances at the chair that occupied the center. If he’d thought for a moment Ansvarr would have claimed the wretched thing after their sire’s death, he would have burned it on the spot. Carved from a huge tree, the chair depicted sculptures of wolves impaled on spikes across the back. His sire had presided over the deaths of so many from that seat. Just being in the same room with it made Brand want to empty his stomach.

He looked over at Dagny, who leaned against one of the side walls just beyond the edge of the platform. “I don’t think I can sit in it.”

She folded her arms across her chest. “You have to.” She’d been retreating into herself from the moment they’d entered the complex of primitive buildings, and the barrier around her felt like a wall of ice.

The males of the brood he was investigating had tormented her for decades at Ansvarr’s behest. Brand wasn’t sure he’d be able to cope with her presence among them once more than twenty males filled the room. The fear she buried already clawed at him. He’d briefly considered the idea of sending her away, but knew she’d never agree, and having her out of his sight would probably only aggravate the possessive wolf inside him more. “I need you up here with me.”

She shook her head without looking at him.

Her panic skittered along his nerves and set his teeth on edge. “They won’t hurt you while I breathe.”

“I know.” She sighed. “I’m not sure I can look them in the eyes, and I’m afraid that will undermine what you’re trying to do.”

Over the past few weeks, at his prompting, she had talked about what had been done to her there. The runes burned into her stomach were long healed over and easier to cope with than the memories of their creation. If their circumstances were reversed, he doubted he would have the strength to stand in the room, knowing that those who had tormented him were only minutes away. He jumped from the dais and pulled her into his arms. She drew a deep breath as she tucked her face into the crook of his neck.

“I’m sorry, bunny,” he said into her hair. “I’ll have Gun take you out of here as soon as he gets back.”

She clutched him tighter. “If I’m not in the room when they get here, you’ll probably end up killing them all.”

He rubbed her back with slow strokes. “The more I think about it, the better that plan seems.”

“Except not all of them are bad, some of them only did what they did because they were afraid of Ansvarr. Some of them even stood up for me. If this turns into a bloodbath, can you be sure that everyone hurt will deserve your wrath?”


Want to sample some more?
Take a Look Inside or download a sample at Amazon
or
Read or download a 20% sample at Smashwords

 
Add it to your Goodreads shelf HERE

---oOo---


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Coral Moore has always been the kind of girl who makes up stories. Fortunately, she never quite grew out of that. She writes because she loves to invent characters and the desire to find out what happens to her creations drives the tales she tells.

Prompted by a general interest in how life works, her undergraduate schooling was in biology. She follows science news and enjoys conversations about genetics and microbiology as much as those about vampires and werewolves. Coral writes speculative fiction and is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Writing at Albertus Magnus College.

Currently she lives in Connecticut with the love of her life, who offers both encouragement and kicks in the tail when necessary. Also in residence are two mammals of the families Canidae and Felidae.
---oOo---

Coral, thanks so much for joining us today.  I'm truly looking forward to the next book in this series!


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sweet Indie Deals: Sci-Fi Spotlight - Nov 26-30 - Free and .99 cent books


If you like Sci-Fi, check out this Holiday Promo running November 26-30, 2012. Free and .99 cent books up for grabs.  There is also a giveaway for Amazon gift cards and books.





Monday, November 19, 2012

Review: The Mage's Toy by Meilin Miranda

Genre: Erotic Fantasy Romance
Formats available:  ebook,
Publication Date: May 10, 2012
Published by: Sans Culotte Press
Word Count: approx. 22,000 (Novella)
Print pages: 64 (estimated)
Epub pages: 62
Kindle Locations: 951 (story text ends at 98%)
No Table of Contents

Source: LibraryThing Giveaway






DESCRIPTION:
Weaving apprentice Jennia Wick and traveling mage Antony Onyx strike a bargain. She needs to escape an arranged marriage, and he needs an assistant to demonstrate his enchanted sex toys.

In the sizzling exhibitions inside Antony's show tent, the toys pleasure them but they never touch one another. After all, Jennia is marrying her childhood sweetheart, if she can find him. A fiancée's betrayal has robbed Antony of all his money and half his magic. Jennia's determined to find her old love; Antony's determined never to love again. No romance, no sex, just business--and a near-uncontrollable desire for one another.

Jennia yearns for his rock-hard body, and her sweet curves drive Antony crazy. More, they're falling in love. But they keep on searching for Jennia's betrothed, and Antony keeps pretending he doesn't care--until he finds the missing sweetheart in the worst way possible. He has to make a choice that could lead to happiness for her--and catastrophe for himself.


MY THOUGHTS:
I had already read Lovers and Beloveds by this author and I really liked it, so when I saw this book pop up on a giveaway I figured it was a no-brainer. I was also interested to see what the author could do with a shorter work. Lovers and Beloveds (An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom) is a long novel, while The Mage's Toy is a novella.

Well, I have to say I did enjoy this story. And yes, there was a story. It is an erotic romance novella but you definitely get a good story and a romance along with the erotic element. In fact, nothing actually happens between Antony and Jennia until near the end. Oh yes, there are erotic scenes before that but they involve the demonstration of the magical sex toy.

Though I enjoyed the story there were a few things that made me go hmm... such as Antony's name suddenly becoming Anthony several times in the story and a goddess who pops up out of nowhere with an easy solution to a dilemma that I thought was, well, too easy. There was also a bit of dialogue that didn't make sense to me. I kept reading it to see if I missed something, but I'm still not seeing it. None of these things were showstoppers for me. I still think it was a good story and it fit the length well. It didn't feel rushed like some novellas can.

Whenever I think about how this story plays out at the end, it always reminds of the short story The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. I'm not comparing the two stories because they are not the same thing at all, but it is more the theme of doing something selfless out of love and how love itself is the true gift. Yeah, can I be more dorky? Why yes, actually, I can... but I digress.

So yes, overall I enjoyed this story and after reading a couple of Miranda's works now, she is definitely on my watch list.

Rating: 4 - I Really Liked It

Typos found: 7 (probably fixed by now)

Warning: This novella is EROTIC Romance and contains graphic and explicit sexual content .

* * * * *

This book is available only in ebook format at the time of this post. You can find MeiLin Miranda on the web at:

Website: http://www.MeiLinMiranda.com/
Blog: http://www.meilinmiranda.com/blog/1
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/MeiLinMiranda
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/meilin.miranda
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2731702.MeiLin_Miranda
Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/MeiLinMiranda


Get the book!  Amazon | B&N | Smashwords

Read a 20% excerpt HERE

Find it on Goodreads
HERE



 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The blog is back...

Quietly sneaking back into the blog to announce that IPBR is back in action. It has been almost a year since the blog went fully on hiatus back in December of 2011. After giving it a lot of thought I have decided to jump back into the blog...but with a few differences.
~ I am tentatively opening the blog again to the full range of review requests. We'll see how it goes. See the Review Guidelines page for more detail.

~ The first and most significant change is that I will not be accepting review requests with one exception...I will consider review requests for short stories as outlined on the Review Guidelines page. For all other books, I'll be choosing books to review from my own personal library or those I receive from LibraryThing or Goodreads giveaways.  Sorry, I know that kind of sucks for authors looking for reviews, but it solves several issues for me that contributed to putting the blog on hiatus in the first place. I do have a minor compromise to this, so take a look at the Review Guidelines page for more about that.

 ~ Reviews and other features will be done at my own pace, which basically means slow (no real change there!). Other than the small number of reviews I'll soon be cross-posting to the blog from those I posted on Amazon/Goodreads while on hiatus, the pace of the blog will be dictated by what I am in the mood to read and review and the time I have to spend on it.  Reviews will still reflect my honest opinion on the book whether positive or negative, but I will start to use half stars in my rating.

~ The focus of the blog is shifting concerning the books I spotlight (Whatcha Reading?) outside the reviews. Previously, I featured almost any indie paranormal fiction book and let the reader determine for themselves the quality of the book.  From now on I will be more selective about the books I spotlight outside the reviews and will focus more on those books I've read and enjoyed myself and want to share with other readers, or books I haven't read but are written by authors I trust (from my own reading experience) to deliver a good story.  Guest Author posts, Blog Tours, sale alerts, etc. do not fall within this requirement. Promotional blog tours where I haven't read the book will be marked PROMO for the readers clarification that it is not a recommendation. Likewise, I'll be looking for an icon to use to indicate which books reviewed or featured on the blog are IPBR favorites.

I think that's it for now.  Looking forward to sharing lots of good indie reading with you...again!

*1 DEC 12 - Edited for clarification and to adjust the section on review requests.  After some consideration, I will now take review requests for short stories. The section above has been modified.  Please see the  Review Guidelines page for more information.
*18 DEC 12 - Further editing for clarification on promotional posts for blog tours
*19 JAN 13 - Tentatively opening the blog to full range of review requests