Talented British author Emma Mills has done it again. This paranormal romance author has release book three in her WitchBlood
series. Audiences everywhere rejoice. To give our readers a taste of her main character, Jess, she's provided a character interview. Enjoy. Interviewer:
Hi Jess, so we last chatted with you a year ago when you had just been turned into a vampire. How are you now, I notice your eyes have changed color?Jess:
Ha! Yeah that was a bit of a shock for the clan. (She laughs and twirls a strand of hair around her finger). What a year I’ve had, huh? Well, I guess I get the best of both worlds now.
Interviewer: Last time we spoke you basically admitted that you were a hopeless vampire. Is that still
Nah… I don’t know. I guess I’ve come to terms with my new diet. I certainly don’t ever find myself craving human food anymore that’s for sure. I think Eva would agree that I’ve found my fangs!Interviewer:
So if you have come to terms with being a vampire how do you feel about the part of you that is half witch?Jess:
Now I can control my power and have my license it’s pretty awesome, but when I was just stressing out and blowing all the electricals it was a pain in the rear. I guess when you’re half and half you run the risk of not quite being accepted into either group, but in my case I have to be wary of the wrong types welcoming me, for the wrong reasons.Interviewer:
Are you talking about Brittany’s grandmother now or the Coven of the Blood Moon?Jess:
Hmm, I suppose both. The drama with Brit’s grandmother was difficult because she’s family, but the coven has supposedly been disbanded… though I’m not sure how true that is.Interviewer:
So, at the moment you are staying with your Aunt in Massachusetts. Do you have any plans to go back to the UK?Jess:
(Jess smiles shyly and resumes the hair twirling.) Yeah, I think so. At the moment Brittany is studying for her license and I think my Aunt is enjoying having us around but I miss Manchester and…Interviewer:
And there are rumours that a certain someone is back in your life?Jess:
…Maybe… there are actually several reasons for me to come back to the UK. Luke is currently up in York fighting this weird human insurgency who hates supernaturals. I want to check in on him and the Council have yet to find Mary… the vampire who killed my friend.Interviewer:
So you’re not going to answer my question about Daniel then?Jess:
Ha! Maybe… and maybe not! It’s personal. It’s hard talking about things that mean so much to me. It still feels very raw.
Thanks so much for hosting me on Underground Books. Here is the information on my new book WitchLove
, which is book 3 in the Witchblood series.
With the reappearance of a lost love, Jess flees to the only people who can help her control her increasing powers and gain independence – her family’s coven. But with a bruised heart can Jess learn to forgive or will she find new love in the United States? Witchlove, the third installment of the Witchblood series, is a new adventure that takes Jess from New England to Voodoo country in the South.
Thanks to Emma's generosity, we are giving away 5 Kindle copies of Witchblood
(the first book in the Witchblood
series) to our Weekly Newsletter subscribers! If you don't have a subscription already, subscribe
by Friday, February 22 and you will receive instructions under "Book Giveaways" at the bottom of your Weekly Newsletter email.
In the realm of Paranormal steaminess, The Forever Girl
does not disappoint in turning up the heat. This romance is centered around twenty-two year old Wiccan protagonist Sophia. From the onset it is clear Sophia is not an ordinary girl with her mental static, her reputation as the town witch and her bad luck at being around whenever strange deaths occur. Then, if things weren’t weird enough for her, she begins hearing voices, dead people and animals with sulfur-green eyes that glow in the dark. Ominous signs abound. So then the next logical progression? Enter the vampires.
Okay, so in this book they are not called vampires, but elementals. They have some creative new powers and a mythology that stems back decades. Sophia finds herself wrapped up in all this when her friend Ivory takes her to a mysterious night club. There she encounters Charles, the sexy and mysterious dream guy who of course is a paranormal creature, one she is extremely attracted to. Now the question is, how can she uncover the secrets of her past, while managing her feelings for Charles and staying alive against the forces that seek to destroy her and her love?
Buy the book to find out. The Forever Girl
has many striking similarities with Twilight
. Critics have pounced on this, calling it a rip off. However, sales alone indicate that Hamilton is merely tapping into a fad that people want. Women want the sexy and dangerous love interest; the kind, but troubled damsel in distress; and the evil, fanged antagonist. Sure, this story is similar to Twilight
, but I think that is what most readers find appealing. While reading I found myself making connections between Twilight
and this story, but it did not detract from my enjoyment. Hamilton is a clear professional. You won’t find errors, weak subplots or stilted dialog. This book reads like any you would pull off a store shelf. And the passion between Sophia and Charles? Stephenie Meyer has nothing on Hamilton. A word of caution: while the sexual references are tasteful and by no means pornographic, this book is not intended for children. It is written for “New Adults” a burgeoning category that seeks to entertain the 18-30 crowd. And those 18-30 year-olds have not been disappointed.
You can find The Forever Girl here.
You can find Rebecca Hamilton here. If you enjoyed this review you can follow Underground Book Reviews on Facebook or Twitter and subscribe to our newsletter. You can also follow Katie French on Facebook and on her website.
After reviewing Michael Manning’s debut novel, Mageborn: The Blacksmith’s Son,
over a year ago I eagerly awaited the sequel. When Mageborn: The Line of Illeniel
finally came out, other books needed reviewing, so I had to wait. Finally, Underground Book Review’s one year anniversary provided me the perfect opportunity. The Blacksmith’s Son
was UBR’s premier review, so it was only fitting we return to Michael G. Manning’s self-published fantasy series to celebrate our website’s first birthday. Pass out the funny hats and cut the cake.
Wait, not so fast. At first, it seemed like a great idea and I committed to the review immediately. Then it occurred to me sequels often don’t live up to the original. It was possible, albeit unlikely, The Line of Illeniel
might stink. In the year since reviewing The Blacksmith's Son
I’ve learned a great deal about writing and critiquing. With some experience under my belt I wondered if I’d give Blacksmith
the same positive rating now I as did as a newbie reviewer. I didn’t want to celebrate UBR’s one year anniversary with a negative review, but would if I had too. I dove into Illeniel
hoping Manning was as good as I remembered. I am pleased not only to report Illeniel
doesn't suck, but improves significantly on Blacksmith’s Son
. The birthday party is back on, so pass out the cake and funny hats. Illeniel
picks up with our hero, the young wizard Mordecai (Mort) and his fiancé Penny rebuilding his castle and trying to establish a fledgling dukedom. All our favorite characters are back, from brave Dorian to elegant Lady Rose to faithful Marcus. The action begins almost immediately when the village is attacked by a relentless horde of soul-sucking monsters. The action and intrigue steadily rise as Mort must confront a less than amicable king, a super-warrior who wants to use Penny to dampen Mort’s growing magical powers, and a goddess manipulating his friend Marcus to try to control Mort. Oh yes, and an enormous army is also about to invade his lands. Mort has his hands full, not to mention he hears voices in his head, threatening to drive him insane.
Manning doesn’t miss a beat and builds on the strengths that made Blacksmith
such a good book. While he introduces a few new minor characters, Manning spends most of the novel building upon the established characters, with heavy emphasis on Mort and Penny. Their stormy relationship provides a great deal of the novel’s tension and entertainment. Manning never strays very far from Mort and Penny, which effectively anchors the plot. This is important because Illeniel
possesses a faster pace, more moving parts, and significantly more action than Blacksmith
. A lesser writer might
have lost his way. Illeniel
is a tribute to Manning’s recently deceased father, elevating the novel to an intensely personal level. Mordecai’s relationship with his father, Royce, mirrors Manning’s own feelings for his father. Manning shows exceptional courage and grace as he shares his love and mourning with his readers. Illeniel’s
closing scene is both touching and beautiful.
Many of my negative critiques in Blacksmith’s Son
are resolved in Illeniel
. The characters are fully fleshed, the dialogue highly polished. The sudden perspective shifts and abrupt narration-style changes of Blacksmith
are gone. The editing quality is significantly improved, providing the reader an effortless and distraction-free experience. The Line of Illeniel
contains a few cases of strong language, mild sexual themes, and swords and sorcery violence. Overall, the book is suitable for teens and up.
With The Line of Illeniel
Michael G. Manning proves Blacksmith’s Son
was no fluke.
He also demonstrates a self-published author can deliver a high quality, entertaining fantasy series that stands toe-to-toe with anything produced by traditional publishing houses. On the one-year anniversary of Underground Book Reviews Mageborn: The Line of Illeniel
lines up 92 out of 99 cents and becomes our second season’s first Top Pick. 99 Cents of Michael G. Manning links:
Michael G. Manning on FacebookMageborn, The Line of Illeniel on Amazon. If you enjoyed this review follow Underground Book Reviews on Facebook, Twitter and subscribe to our newsletter.
You can also follow Brian Braden on his blog, Facebook and Twitter and buy his
book, Carson's Love. If you are an agent or publisher you can make the smartest financial decision of your life and offer Brian a contract on his brilliant novel, Black Sea Gods.
Two years ago when I did the final edit on my first manuscript, I was sure I had a winner -- a gem of a story that agents would beg to represent. Oh how naïve a novice writer can be.
After numerous rejections, both form and personal, I fell into a deep, dark hole. Could I write? Did I want to write any more?
Once I closed down my pity party, I started doing research on the internet. I wanted to read about successful author’s writing journeys. Did they write manuscript after manuscript, until finally one got attention? How did they handle rejection and garner the strength to push forward and write yet another story?
With a burning desire to have my questions answered, I began contacting authors and asking them if they would share their writing journey on my blog. Their stories of rejection and frustration all had their own twists and turns, but they all ended up in the exact same place – eventual victory with a “call” for representation, and in many cases a publishing deal.
One writer’s odyssey caught my attention and her story is one I am thrilled to share today. Her name is Jessica Khoury and her debut novel, ORIGIN was just released.
“Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rainforest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home--and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.
Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia's origin--a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.”
This is Jessica’s writing journey…
Amy: What drew you to write a Young Adult novel?
Jessica: YA is what I love to read, so I've never really considered writing anything else. The great thing about YA is it's exploding right now, not just in numbers, but in possibilities. There is a level of experimentation and freedom in YA you don't get in other genres; as an author, you can be daring, mixing genres, exploring themes and settings that haven't been done before. It's really an exciting place to be right now and I am so happy to have a spot in YA!
Amy: Was ORIGIN your first completed manuscript?
Jessica: Before ORIGIN I had written two complete novels. They were both high fantasy, and I love them both very much. The first, however, was written when I was 13, and is better off staying on its floppy disk in a deep, dark drawer--but it was a great learning experience! The second one I finished last year, having written it during college, and I would love to see it published one day! We will see.
Amy: How long did it take to complete?
Jessica: I spent 30 days on the first draft of ORIGIN, which sounds very fast, I know, but you must take into account the months of editing that followed. After editing with my agent and then editor at Razorbill, ORIGIN was in development for about 9 months.
Amy: Did you use critique partners for ORIGIN? If so, how did that affect your writing process?
Jessica: I had a few beta readers early on, before I got an agent, and their input was very valuable. The biggest influences on ORIGIN, however, came from my editor and agent. They are both very savvy when it comes to critiques, and I was so fortunate to have their help in developing the manuscript.
Amy wowed us with this guest post a few months ago. Now she is back with another fantastic review. Welcome back, Amy!
I’m a firm believer that if you write in a certain genre, you should read everything you can get your hands on in that category so you can understand the market. I write YA, so I read YA. I’ve been doing this for over six years, and in that time I’ve read everything from the blockbusters to the little “one-offs” that disappear from the local bookstores faster than they can change the seasonal coffee flavors.
I don’t want to say I’m jaded, but sometimes I think I’ve read it all… That was until I read ORIGIN by Jessica Khoury. Her thoroughly unique story follows Pia, a young woman living in a remote compound in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. From her first recollections she has been called “Perfectly Pia” because she simply is that: purely and entirely immortal.
On the cusp of her seventeenth birthday, Pia is about to realize her dream of becoming a scientist like those who helped create her. Her goal is to generate an entire immortal race like herself so she will never be alone. But as always happens with children on the cusp of adulthood, she makes a rash decision and breaks all sorts of rules by venturing out beyond her secured compound into the beauty of the rainforest. While basking in the tranquility of this new world, she meets Eio and begins to question the morality of her existence and the evils that soon unveil themselves within her sheltered world.
In a stunning debut, Khoury proves to be a master storyteller, expertly mixing science with the exquisite setting of the Amazon. The colors of this world come alive in her prose and in some moments, I actually felt as if I could see, touch and taste the unique beauty of the setting. Khoury deftly handles the budding relationship between Eio and Pia, while making the reader feel Pia’s ongoing anxiety about her changing world.
If I had one complaint, it would be that Khoury introduces too many characters. After a while, I couldn’t remember which personality belonged to which scientist and I found this critical to understanding the complex ending. But this would not dissuade me from recommending this highly entertaining and thought-provoking story.
Even now, a few days after I’ve read the last word, I’m still pondering the scientific and moral questions Khoury’s story has brought to light. She has set the bar high for YA fantasy, and if this is the direction the market is heading, those who write in the genre have a lot to live up to.
To find more about ORIGIN check out Amazon
or Jessica Khoury’s website
Please visit Amy Grossklaus on her blog.If you enjoyed this review, you can subscribe to the Underground or follow us onFacebook and Twitter.
If mermaid is the new vampire, Tangled Tides
by Karen Hooper has a fighting shot as the new hit in paranormal romance. Tangled Tides
follows Yara, a spunky, take-no-nonsense girl who finds herself immersed in mermaid culture when the sexy male lead Treygan rescues her from a tropical storm. Yara wakes up underwater with fins. And of course she freaks out. Little did she know that she had mer blood in her veins. Now Yara must try to uncover her past, while vying for the attention of two powerful brothers caught in a feud that could lead to the salvation or destruction of the underwater society. And Yara is the key.
From the onset I could tell this story was top notch. It is clear that Karen Hooper knows her stuff when it comes to plot development, character arcs and climaxes. The mythology interwoven here is fresh and interesting. Readers get a sense for Greek lore with a new twist. Siren’s still trick sailors into giving their lives away, but are also flirty, mercurial and sexy. Selkies, like mermen only part seal, hang out in ice cold bars and drink blood that conveys the emotions of its giver. The vast imaginative layers in this story make it worth the $4.99 alone. And then there’s the love story.
Warring brothers fighting for the love of a beautiful woman is anything but new. At first I was worried that we were heading down a path well-traveled. Luckily the characters are three dimensional and the romance feels real. Somehow Hooper makes a man who is half mackerel sexy, a feat I thought pretty much impossible.
There were moments when I felt bogged down with mer-customs like Yara’s welcoming ceremony, but some may find themselves fascinated by the culture in Tangled Tides
. Either way, readers won’t be disappointed under the sea.
You can find Tangled Tides here.
You can find Karen Amanda Hooper on Amazon
and on her website
. If you enjoyed this review you can follow Underground Book Reviews on Facebook or Twitter and subscribe to our newsletter.
You can also follow Katie French on Facebook and on her website.
As the first acquisition from HarperCollins’ InkPop site, Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon sets a bold precedent. Starting as an unknown title, Carrier climbed the ranks until it gained the illustrious top five spot on InkPop. There it gained attention of a top editor and the rest is history. Please welcome author Leigh Fallon to The Underground!
Katie: First of all, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to
answer a few questions. I have to say I was very interested in your path to
publication when I learned you were HarperCollins’ first acquisition from
InkPop. How have things changed for you now that you are a published author?
Leigh: No problem! It's my pleasure.
Things haven't changed hugely. I'm a mom of four so I've had to keep my feet firmly on the ground and balance my time carefully to fit in my kid's hectic schedules and still have time for writing, marketing, and of course all the travel associated with being published. It's a tough task, but I'm managing.
Katie: You incorporate a lot of mythology in Carrier of the Mark. What research
did you do to include those elements in your story?
Leigh: I was always fascinated with celtic mythology. In Ireland, from a very young age, we are introduced to mythology and the folklore associated with it. We are also brought to the sites and locations from where the mythology originates. Most of the lore I've used in Carrier of the Mark is from places I visited on school tours. It kind of got into my bones and stayed with me. When I started writing Carrier of the Mark, I researched the myths further and pulled from other sources to make my story tie in with old stories and the historical sites. I wanted to try and make my story grounded in history. It made it feel more tangible.
Katie: Tell us about the process of taking a draft through to publication. What
was the most daunting?
Leigh: My rough draft of Carrier of the Mark was three spiral bound journals of my handwriting. I wrote the whole 150K story in longhand. Once I realized I had a book on my hands, I sat down and started typing it up, editing it down to 100K words. This was my real first draft. It was long, scrappy, and in need of a great deal of editing, but it was my first ever book, and I loved it.
Then it went through a first round of edits with my editor. This was the most daunting part. Looking at a 15 page editors letter and a marked up manuscript covered in green pen can kind of take your breath away. The hardest part is knowing where to start. But I found my editing groove and we sliced and diced the story, tightening it up, cutting chapters, and tweaking characters until it was reading much better. Then we hit a second round of edits, again, editing down to improve pacing. Editing is tough, but I really enjoy it. My editor, Erica Sussman is wonderful to work with. A book is a real team effort.
Then it was on to copy edits, which weirdly enough found the most taxing part of editing.
Katie: What can we expect from the sequel, Shadow of the Mark?
Leigh: As the name would imply, Shadow of the Mark is darker than Carrier of the Mark. From the first chapter you realize things aren't really going according to plan. The Marked Ones are getting stronger, but all is not as it should be. Things get complicated as newcomers and people from the past work their ways into the lives of the Marked. There's quite a bit of action as Megan flexes her elemental muscles and discovers what she's really capable of.
Self-published novels are often wrought with sloppy editing, dry characters and clichéd plot lines. Tom Kelper’s The Stone Dragon
luckily has none of these. Though lacking in page-turning conflict, I appreciated his poetic style and world-building depth.
Set in a magical world, where dragons fly and gnomes supply a quality cup of tea, The Stone Dragon
introduces us to Glimmer, the apprentice to Alma-Ata, a mage who brews more cider than spells. In the beginning Glimmer laments that he has “not a glimmer of magic,” hence his name. And, as in any great hero’s story, he longs to be more than an orphan, servant and all around disappointment. Then he sneaks a book on dream magic and everything changes.
After reading the book, Glimmer dreams of a powerful dragon who seems more real than imagined. Before the animal can wreak havoc, Glimmer encases him in stone. Waking and disoriented, he comes to realize that he has imprisoned the dragon inside the stone of the inn where he resides. After a series of mental talks with the dragon, who answers in ways our young apprentice has trouble understanding, Glimmer goes on a quest with his friend the Cabbage gnome. He explores the countryside and comes across marauding thieves, healing sisters and a wise sage, all the while learning life lessons and trying to perfect the dream magic within him.
Kelper is a poet and it shows through his eloquent language and beautiful descriptions. He also describes himself as a consciousness-based writer. Though I found his style though-provoking and insightful, the technique seems to overshadow the plot, which meandered. With no real antagonist to speak of, there wasn’t enough conflict to hold my attention. With Glimmer going in and out of dream, I found myself unsure of what reality was and what was in his head. That being said, I’d love to see Kelper’s sequel. With a little more practice under his belt, this author could turn into a real powerhouse.
Overall, those interested in world-building fantasy and scaly, flying friends should give Kelper a try. As an ebook, the price is right.
Want to buy it? Get it on Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Also, as a blogger, Kelper is making waves, winning the Versitile Blogger award twice in one week. Check out his blog here
. If you enjoyed this post, you can subscribe to the Underground or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Fans of world-building fantasy have new worlds to explore in The Moon Coin by Richard Due. This young adult self-published novel boldly goes where no man or novelist has gone before. In the prologue we meet the children Lily and Jasper Winter, two exuberant children enthralled by stories told by their adventurous and eccentric uncle. Uncle Ebb brings curious toys that sail through the air as if by magic, pockets that put Mary Poppin’s carpet bag to shame and stories of dragons, merfolk and giants that are so stunningly real that Lily and Jasper can't help but wonder at their truth. Then Uncle Ebb goes missing and the real adventure begins.
Lily and Jasper, along with their parents, search Uncle Ebb's home for clues to his whereabouts. His house is a veritable castle of wonders. The children visit Mr.-Fix-it, a machine with a set of arms, dozens of drawers and a program to fix whatever you set before it. They are greeted in the hallways by a group of electrimals, both fish and fowl, which flit around the house. Then Lily and Jasper find the moon coin. Lily insists on taking it home, despite Jasper’s protests. That night the moon coin magically whisks Lily away to the land of Ebb’s stories where she finds his tales all too real. She encounters giant cat-like creatures called Rinn and dragons that do prowl the night. She learns these fantastic worlds are in trouble. Can Lily and Jasper find their uncle and help save the moons he's brought to life for them?
Audiences who enjoyed exploring new worlds in stories like The Chronicles of Narnia or Brian Jacque’s Redwall series will connect with Due's vivid imagination and lush new scenery. I did find myself, at times, overwhelmed by too many characters or action that was not deftly described, but I feel Due's imagination makes up for some of those short-comings. His impressive creativity brings new characters and settings to life. The beautiful artistry of Carolyn Arcabascio is a wonderful addition. Even on my black and white Nook I could tell that the illustrations are top notch and masterfully done.
For $2.99 it's worth checking out Due and Arcabascio's debut. Young adults may just find themselves lost in a new and exciting world.You can find The Moon Coin on Amazon hereYou can find Richard Due here
Bryan R. Dennis, the author of The Uncanny Valley
, describes his sci-fi, horror, and fantasy compendium as “old-fashioned.” I call it wonderful. This compilation of sixteen short stories harkens back to the days when giants like Bradbury, Asimov, and Anderson published exciting short stories kids like me devoured. Their tales lifted the reader beyond the fantastic and made us realize the humanity of sci-fi was as every bit as important as the technical wonder. I’m not saying Dennis is in the same league as these great writers (yet), only that he captures the same magic. Like those authors of yesteryear, he explores the impact of the improbable, and the impossible, upon the human spirit.
The element of the common-meets-the-unfamiliar injects these stories with a distinct, unsettling feel. Cover-to-cover, each story thrusts the characters out of their familiar surroundings into bizarre, often terrifying, environments. Dennis even goes so far as to throw extraordinary characters into ordinary situations for which they are ill prepared. In worlds turned upside down, Dennis forces his protagonists to confront the essence of their humanity; to decide what is right and wrong and good and evil. Along the way, the reader must ask not only what it means to be human, but what it means to truly feel
At worst, some stories in Uncanny
are merely good. Eight Legs to Doomsday
and One Good Joke
are satisfying sci-fi fare. The book only has one true horror tale, Noah
, about an emerging sociopath. Even the weakest story, Super Temps
, will still put a smile on your face.
At best, however, many of Bryan R. Dennis’s stories are simply brilliant. After reading Nox Noctis
I promise you will never take light for granted again. I Am You,
which vaguely echoes Spielberg’s A.I.,
strikes to the heart of the book’s central theme. Asian Food
and Scents of Life
are showcases for Dennis’s talent and will haunt you long after you put the book down.
What makes this work truly modern is how Dennis masterfully blurs the line between sci-fi and fantasy. Stories like Isle of Stumps
don’t neatly fit in one genre or another.
It isn’t just the subjects or theme that makes this book so satisfying. Dennis is one of those rare authors who is both an adept story teller and an excellent wordsmith. From page one it’s obvious he knows what he’s doing. With warm, natural prose he quickly summons realistic characters and exciting plots. You don’t read his work as much as soak it in.
The Uncanny Valley suffers from only a mild case of the bane of the self-published - mechanical and formatting errors. However, it wasn’t enough to detract from the book. This book is suitable for ages twelve and up, with only minor violence and some suggestive themes.
Coming off the heels of my last review, I am reluctant to select back-to-back Top Picks, but the quality of this work leaves me no choice. Good short stories are hard to come by and these are exactly the kind I loved as a teenager. I thereby give The Uncanny Valley
a rating of 90 out of 99 cents and add it to annals of the Underground’s Top Picks.
99 Cents worth of Bryan R. Dennis links:Bryan R. Dennis's Amazon Author Page
Follow Bryan R. Dennis on Twitter
Bryan R. Dennis on SmashswordsIndiesnippets
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