Book Talk, February #Reviews

I thought I’d share my thoughts about books I’ve been reading during the winter storms. As you can see my tastes are eclectic. I have a simple criteria–I like a good story.

Moon Called, by Patricia Briggs – an Urban Fantasy Classic

Dracula by Bram Stoker, a horror classic originally published in 1897

Following Faith, by Jacqui Nelson, a historical short story set in the old west, from the anthology Journey of the Heart

The Cold Dish, by  Craig Johnson, the first book in the popular modern mystery series, which has been adapted for the Netflix TV show, Longmire

Click on the covers for direct links to their Amazon page.


Moon Called, by Patricia Briggs

moon-calledMoon Called is the first book in the highly popular Mercy Thompson, urban fantasy series, and it sure won’t be the last one I read. It is set at a time when the werewolves are about to “come out.”

Patricia Brigg’s prose is so smooth you forget you’re reading. I love her finely crafted characters. Particularly: Mercy, the auto mechanic, skin walker who tells her own tale, Adam the sexy, alpha werewolf you desperately want her to hook up with, Stefano a vampire whose allegiance is impossible to pin down and Zee, her intriguing helper. The detailed and complicated plot takes the reader through an exciting adventure.

As Patricia Briggs has over a thousand reviews on Amazon for this book, I won’t post mine, but I thought I’d share my thoughts with you. Have your read it? What do you think?

 


Dracula by Bram Stoker

I read Dracula, because I wanted to read one of the first vampire stories, draculaand I’m glad I did. Although the language sounds long in the tooth and might remind readers of their great-aunt Betsy’s tales at the super table, after she took her teeth out, the story is filled with suspense.

It’s the journal of a young Englishman, Jonathan Harker, who travels to Transylvania to meet Dracula and help him move to England.

The first scenes describing his journey to Count Dracula’s castle are some of the most suspenseful I’ve ever read. Talk about dark and scary! It was the perfect read for the stormy weather that raged outside my windows.

Here’s a taste:

“I waited with a sick feeling of suspense. Then a dog began to howl somewhere in a farmhouse far down the road-a long, agonized wailing, as if from fear. The sound was taken up by an other dog, and then another and another, till, borne on the wind which now sighed softly through the Pass, a wild howling legion, which seemed to come from all over the country … the imagination could grasp it through the gloom of the night.”

Shivers, eh?

He arrives and meets Dracula. “Welcome to my house! Enter freely of your own will!”

Every fiber of my being screamed at the guy, “Don’t go in.” But he did.

Did I finish the book? No. I enjoyed the first ten percent, but by the time I made it to the 20 percent mark I was skimming. The language was too old and the plot too slow, but I could see that it was a great story in its day.

As Bram has over two thousand reviews, I didn’t post mine. I would have difficulty starring it, as it would undoubtedly have been a five in its day, but I found it hard to read.

Have you read his book? What do you think?


Following Faith, by Jacqui Nelson

journey-of-the-heartJacqui Nelson is my favorite writer of western fiction. Her latest short story, Following Faith, is in the newly released anthology, Journey of the Heart. I loved everything about this story. It has adventure, suspense, a touch of humor and romance.

As the story opens Faith Featherby is abruptly dismissed from her teaching job in a small logging town by the school committee. Nelson draws the characters so well, you feel as if you’re part of the scene, listening to two old bitties accuse her of inappropriate behavior. With no relatives and no friends, Faith sets out to find the little girl she believes owns the spirit horse she has befriended. On the journey she meets Eagle and their adventure together begins. It’s a wonderful story and I highly recommend it.


The Cold Dish, by Craig Johnson

The Cold Dish, the first book in the Walt Longmire mystery series by Craigthe-cold-dish Johnson is beautifully written. His prose reminds me of Steinbeck. The way his detailed setting enraptures the story reminds me of James Lee Burke. His unbelievably, witty lines crack me up. I could go on and on. It really is a “must read” for anyone who likes well-written genre stories with compelling characters who drive the plot and the reader through an adventure to be remembered.

Some of my favorite lines:

“Artists are always good for conversation, so long as you want to talk about their art.”

“Nobody makes an emotional bulletproof vest, so you just have to carry the shrapnel around with you.”

“He had his mother’s looks, his father’s temper, and nobody’s brains.”

I’m reading this book when I spin at the gym, so it could be a while before I finish it. I keep going over my thirty minutes on  the bike, because I’m so caught up in the tale.

Have your read any of Johnson’s stories? Do you like the TV show Longmire?


 

shutterstock_104723360 (1)How about you? What have you been reading?


And since we’re talking book reviews today, I’ll share my latest five star review from The Paranormal Romance Guild:

vikingghost_cvr_smlAnother wonderful addition to the Gambling Ghosts series. Abigail Jenkins (Abby) is a widow with three children all under the age of five. The only job available is at the Haunted Teahouse the very teahouse where ghosts meet nightly for a poker game. Abby has agreed to be the night cleaner and her hours are flexible. Money is very tight especially with her youngest being sick and requiring medication.

Abby has heard all kinds of stories about the teahouse but feeding her children takes precedence over any fears she could have. Azalea who runs the teahouse has only one rule, Abby is never to enter one of the rooms no matter what she hears and Abby intends to keep that promise.

Eric Eklund is a one thousand year old Viking who died in an accident making going to Valhalla out of the question. Since he didn’t die in battle and could not go to Valhalla he decided to stay where he was and the poker games are a highlight of his nights. When he accidentally came across Abby everything changed for him because suddenly he found himself totally taken with a living woman.

Eric revealed himself to Abby and it doesn’t take long for her to accept the fact that the teahouse hosts a poker game every night for ghosts and one of them a gorgeous Viking god has become her protector. Neither of them have any idea that an evil spirit known as a poltergeist is determined to get Abby’s children to feed him.

Zane Carrington is a cop that has made a deal with the spirit in order to save his two year old daughter. The poltergeist Louis has his daughter prisoner and although the idea of being the cause of death for three small, innocent children is beyond anything he could have ever have imagined his daughter’s life is at stake and he has no choice.

Eric is determined to stop Louis and save Abby’s children and also wishes he could be human again so that he could show her how much he loves her. There is supposedly something that can change him back to human but if that is real or not is not something I will reveal.

This novella has it all, a gorgeous Viking ghost, a widow doing everything she can to save her three children and an evil spirit. There is love but of course it is between a ghost and a human woman so what are their chances? There are also surprises. I loved this addition to the series every bit as much as the first.

Reviewed by: Linda Tonis

Member of the Paranormal Romance Review Team

To Market… To Market… To Sell…#Free

I suck at marketing.  Let me rephrase that. I used to suck at marketing. I am learning about marketing. Marketing sucks.

Think about it from my end of the pen. I spend hours that turn into days, that turn into weeks, then months then in some cases years to create and publish an artisinal book. But the story is not complete, because a story that is not read is like a song that is not heard… is like the tree that falls in the forest and no one hears. Unless it gets out “there,” it may as well not exist.

Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard the lectures about patience and about how over time one’s books get noticed. The theory is that eventually their niche market discovers them. Hmmmm. I suppose to some degree that’s true. But with the increasing number of books being published, at some point a whole lot of them will never surface. And that is a sad thought.

I’ve tried to understand marketing in this new publishing world, and the only truth I have found is that no one knows wtf they’re talking about. Excuse my acronym. But it’s frustrating. Everyone talks with great authority, but what works for one book, does not work for the next. Yesterday’s hot genre is tomorrow’s trash. Publishing houses big and small are collapsing and brick and mortar book stores are selling stuffed toys. It’s not easy to navigate in these waters. It’s like throwing a dart at a moving target while standing on quicksand.

And yet, I would also argue it is the best of times to be a writer, because I can self-publish. The only gatekeeper is the reader. And everyone on the planet is in need of a good story.

This rant was meant to be a preamble to explain why I so appreciate people who do marketing well. My friend, Jacqui Nelson made the following graphic for me. It is simple and I think powerful.

shutterstock_104723360 (1)What do you think?

SnippetsAnthology-JC-twitter-SoonToBeFree

Here is another of her other ads:

Biggar graphic

Buy Links for Snippets of Suspense

 

Cover Reveal – Snippets of Suspense Anthology, #1 #RSSOS #Suspense

Launching Next Week!!!

Snippets of Suspense LRG

Shaken and Stirred…

Spine-tingling suspense with a steamy side of romance, written by ten award winning authors. The Sisters of Suspense Anthology, #1 is a collection of snippets from their favorite Romantic Suspense stories. Chilling and thrilling. It’s guaranteed to spark your interest, stir your senses, set your imagination on overdrive and introduce you to new authors you’re going to love.

Snippets are written by: Veronica Forand, Melissa Keir, Jo-Ann Carson, Jacquie Biggar, Marian Lanouette, Jacqui Nelson, Pat Amsden, Marsha R. West, Kathryn Jane and McKenna Sinclair

Award Winning Suspense


For the last couple of weeks I’ve been collecting snippets (i.e., the beginning chapters of novels) from my Sisters, and formatting them. If all goes well <fingers crossed> the anthology will be available next week. I’ll let you know as soon as it goes “free.”

 

Time to go Back to Dodge – #Book Review – Between Love &Lies by Jacqui Nelson #Western Romances

Jacqui Nelson Cover Between Love & Lies
Click on the cover for the buy link

Between Love and Lies  (Gambling Hearts Series, Book 1) is a historical romance set in Dodge, Kansas in 1876, during the days of Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson. It’s filled with adventure, romance and enough plot twists to keep the pages flying faster than a gunslinger’s hand.

The Wild West is a place where anything can happen, where lawmen fight hard for justice and evil men often get their way. Jacqui Nelson draws this world with a delicate hand, letting us feel the grit and danger of the times. Her detailed setting becomes an integral character in the story.

Dodge is not a place for a young, innocent woman to find herself when her luck runs out. But petite, red-headed Sadie Sullivan has enough backbone to fight the cavalry, and brains to boot. Despite the horrible situation her father and fate deal her, she fights to regain her independence and respect.

Getting what she wants involves a bit of sleuthing, and a handsome Texan keeps casting his shadow on her plans. Can she retrieve a hidden treasure, avenge the death of a friend and set herself free? And what the heck is she supposed to do about all the stirred-up feelings the cowboy gives her?

Noah Ballantyne, the Texan, is a good man with a heart drowning in guilt. First his brother dies in a stampede, and then his cattle run over a ranch. He can’t bring his brother back to life, but he wants to make amends to the man and his beautiful daughter whose livelihood he destroyed. He goes back to Dodge to set things right. The memory of the woman on the ranch, the woman with the amazing emerald eyes, has haunted him for a year. He has to see her again.

Noah finds Sadie in a bordello.  Discovering how low her life has fallen hits him hard. He feels responsible and wants to help her… protect her… make things right by her. She wants nothing to do with him. There`s a sizzling chemistry between them he can’t deny. Never has a woman bewitched him the way she does. He schemes to find a way to her heart.

Their adventure is hot, steamy and treacherous.

If you like the Old West, you’ll love Jacqui Nelson’s, Between Love & Lies, a story spun with a complex web of emotion and conflict, love and lies.

My favorite line is : “He may have held her face in his hands, but she held his heart in hers.”

My review is posted on Amazon and Goodreads with 5 stars.

 

Starting a Second Blog or How to go Crazy in Less than a Week

 

infinite monkey theorem wiki

infinite monkey theorem wikiNeglecting this blog has left me with an uncomfortable feeling,

…like a woman who’s cheats on her man,

… or like a mother who substitutes cake for carrots in her child’s lunch.

I’ve been bad and I feel I owe you, my regular audience who I love dearly, an explanation.

How it Started

Less than a week ago I read an article in the RWR (ie., the Romance Writers of America magazine) about the importance of cross-promotion in the crumbling and evolving publishing world. None of the ideas were new to me, but for some reason they struck my noggin harder than usual and I decided to start a group blog. My plan was simple. I’d gather a few people who write suspense and we’d create a destination blog, a newsletter, and … The list went on.

I mentioned it to four friends and boom, we gathered fifteen like-minded writers in a couple of days.

The group is amazing. I’ve never worked with such energetic, creative and talented people. Everyone  jumped in and volunteered to do whatever they could to move our project further. In less than a week we have developed an exceptional, collective blog, Sisters of Suspense , SoS for short, and are on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. A couple posts have been put up, an enormous giveaway is being collected and a newsletter is being developed. Like I said: amazing.

Who are my Sisters? sisters twitter

Alphabetically:

Pat Amsden, Sister of Romance and Mystery

Sarah Andre, Sister of Riveting Suspense

Vicki Batman, Sister of Sassy Writing

Jacqui Biggar, Sister of Romantic Suspense with Attitude

Sam Bradley, Sister of medical Romantic Suspense

Jo-Ann Carson, Sister of Smart ‘n Sexy Suspense

Veronica Forand, Sister of Heart Stopping Suspense

Joanne Guidoccio, Sister of Reinvention

Jeannie Hall, Sister of Dark, Angsty Suspense

Kathryn Jane, Sister

Melissa Keir, Sister of Small Town Suspense

Marian Lanouette, Sister

Jacqui Nelson, Sister of Wild West Suspense

S.A. Taylor, Sister

Marsha R West, Sister of Second Chances

 

What’s the Crazy Part?

I hardly slept.

I love the SoS blog format. It’s got really cool features. Working on it is like driving a Cadillac instead of a rusty old scooter, but some of those shiny additions aren’t easy to set up and it has taken me timeIMG_20140222_201928 to figure them out. But it’s up and running. And she’s beautiful.

The same week I was working through theses cyber-kinks, I  struggled with formatting issues for the print version of my novella Lovin’ Danger which launches in two weeks, made final tweaks on the ebook version and tried to live a normal life.

Yeah, it wasn’t normal.

But ooooh, it was fun. The only thing more exciting than starting a new venture that you know, you just know in your bones is the-right-thing-at-the-right-time, is doing it with a group of friends. It’s been a rush.

What About This Blog?

I’m back. I’ll be blogging here as usual in my random but regular way. My focus will continue to be about me and my life as a writer, publisher and entrepreneur. Occasionally I will reblog posts from the other blog.

 

Vancouver Island Romance Writers at the 2014 RWA Nationals

These photos were taken by various people on Mimi’s camera. Thanks for sharing Mimi.

islandladies
left to right: Mimi Barbour, Jo-Ann Carson, Sheila Currie, Jodie Esch and in the back Jacqui Nelson
The Last Breakfast
The Last Breakfast

I love my writing buddies. They’re like family.

Between Heaven and Hell by Jacqui Nelson

Between Heaven & Hell (a new novel released June 18, 2014)

On a trail full of danger, will he guide her to heaven or hell?

Hannah knows one thing the moment she enters Fort Leavenworth—she’s arrived in Hell. But inside is the means to a new life, a position as a scout on a wagon train bound for the Western Territories. All she has to do is convince the wagon master, Paden Callahan, she’s the right person for the job.

After his wife was murdered by the Comanche, Paden let his work as a Texas Ranger consume him. Now he wants nothing more than to disappear into the West. Unfortunately, the one man he can’t refuse has asked him to guide a wagon train full of tenderfoots across thousands of miles of Indian land. But Paden’s greatest challenge turns out to be Hannah, a woman his heart won’t allow him to ignore even though she was raised by an enemy he hates.

JacquiNelson_BetweenHeavenandHell_800pxBuy Link:

Between Heaven & HellAmazon 

 

 

 

Adella’s Enemy (a novella in the Passion’s Prize anthology)

The War Between the States ended five years ago, but she still pursues her enemy…           

Rebel spy turned government rabble rouser Adella Willows receives her mission straight from a Washington senator—play havoc with the Katy Railroad and derail its bid to win the race. The senator craves wealth. Adella craves revenge against the man responsible for her brother’s death. But her plans crumble into chaos when she enters a battle of wits with the railroad’s foreman.

An ocean separates him from his failures in Ireland, but he’s still haunted by those who died…

 Seasoned railroad foreman Cormac McGrady’s sole desire is keeping his workmen safe and employed, which means keeping the Katy ahead of its rivals. But the beautiful spy bedeviling his railroad needs protecting as well. Cormac must choose between winning the race and winning Adella’s heart, while Adella must choose whether she lives for revenge or dies for love.

JacquiNelson_AdellasEnemy_800Buy Links:

Adella’s Enemy (novella) – Amazon 

Passion’s Prize (anthology) – Amazon 

Passion’s Prize (anthology) – B&N 

Passion’s Prize (anthology) – Kobo 

~~~

J Nelson 10_139
Jacqui Nelson

Website: www.JacquiNelson.com