Review: Asylum

Asylum is a fantasy horror novel by Chantelle J.Z. Storm. I would recommend this book for teen audiences, and anyone who loves a scary fantasy.

The main character is a moody teenage girl named Kairyna. She has been living with her Aunt Helen for three years, ever since the death of her parents. Helen has taken a job as a housekeeper for Madame Sporra and moved Kairyna to Madame’s spooky mansion.

Kairyna is a book worm but the book she finds in the mansion will whisk her away to another world, answering her prayer for adventure. But of course the answer to our prayers isn’t always what we hope it to be and the adventure that Kairyna finds herself on is dangerous.

The majority of the story takes place in this other world with a small cast of varied characters, all of whom were, at one time, like Kairyna, looking for adventures beyond their boring existence. A few times you get pieces of what’s happening with Aunt Helen while Kairyna is off on her adventure.

I really enjoyed this book. The pacing was good and the story was spooky. The dialogue was really good, for the most part. There were a few places were things got a little too corny, but otherwise it was good. The tension in this book is not so much about who the bad guy will turn out to be but how Kairyna and her odd bunch of friends will twist their situation to their advantage while an unseen force relentlessly tries to kill them.

Most of the characters were enjoyable but I found 1 or 2 to be a little cliched. Kairyna herself is moody without being annoying and steps up to the challenges that appear before her. The story is told in 3rd person so there’s real tension as to whether Kairyna will survive to the end.

I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.

Advertisements

Review: PAWS 3: Umbrae

Umbrae is the third book in the P.A.W.S. series by Debbie Manber Kupfer and this review was supposed to be up on Saturday – I swear I typed it up. Stupid internet. Anyways, better late than never.

I’ve been enjoying the P.A.W.S. series. This is a YA urban fantasy series that focuses on shapeshifters of varying types. The main character is a teenage girl named Miri. Miri can shift into a cat with the help of a magical talisman.

In this book Miri learns a lot about her family history while back at the P.A.W.S. Institute of the Midwest there is trouble brewing. Loyalties are tested. Secrets come to light while others are buried deeper.

The author does a wonderful job of continuing to create tension even after Miri has defeated her enemy (back in books 1 and 2). This book introduces many new complications and raises as many questions as it answers.

Another interesting aspect of this series is that many of the main characters are Jewish. I love books that explore cultures outside of the White-Western-Christian experience. Also love that the Canadian exchange student is loud and gets into trouble!

This is a series that has remained strong and interesting through three books and ends with a great hook. If you’re looking for a good YA series this is one I recommend taking a chance on. 5 out of 5 stars.

When Words Collide 2017

When Words Collide is a writers’ conference held in Calgary each year in August. They host 3 days of panels and workshops plus some additional “master classes”. The major sponsors of the event are IFWA, the Albert Writer’s Guild and the Alberta Romance Writers’ Association. They also host a merchant’s room and several evening social events over the weekend. Each year they have six or so headlining “celebrities” including authors, agents, and editors.

And most impressive, in my opinion, is that the whole thing is run by volunteers. Registration is manned by volunteers. If you want your book on the Shared Author table you volunteer an hour at the table. Volunteers do head counts at the sessions and watch the clock for the presenters. Volunteers fill out the panels and run the workshops.

They offer a variety of programming for all authors and readers. Sessions on the business end of writing, on every genre in general and panels on specifics like world building, how to kill characters, how to write about fighting or time travel, and so much more.

The social events included a Steampunk party, a pajama party, a Poetry Slam, an evening of erotic readings, book launch parties, and general socials over at the pub. There was a banquet and a mass autograph session (which was loud, friendly, and more fun than I expected!)

This was my first writing conference ever and I can say it was beyond all my expectations. Everyone was friendly. Everything was fun and casual and entertaining and educational. I will be back next year, without a doubt.

Stay tuned for two more posts: one on the panels I spoke on and one on the sessions I attended.

Review: The Dracones Book 1

The Dracones is an urban fantasy series by Sheri-Lynn Marean. The Dracones are a race of shape shifters from another dimension. Their animal to shift into is a dragon and it doesn’t take affect until they are twenty one.

Chapter 1 was a lot of back story but there was some intrigue as well. It was obvious from chapter 1 who the love interest was going to be but I was impressed when she stepped away from the “we grew up together, we’re like siblings” trope and went for something darker.

The book dumps a lot of characters on you in fairly quick succession and there are a lot of fantasy races you need to come to terms with in fairly short order. As well, the main character is just getting a grip on some of her powers, discovering them as she goes along. While she does have difficulty with this and requires a lot of help it felt convenient at times. “Oh, you need this done? Well you can do that too, you just don’t know it yet!”.

The author uses a weird formatting inside the book – she doesn’t start a new paragraph every time the speaker changes and that made following the dialogue VERY difficult, especially with the order of the dialogue compared to the tags (he said, she said).

The romantic tension was good and the development of the two MCs was good. This is definitely an adult paranormal romance with a magic assisted sex scene that made me roll my eyes a bit.

All that being said, I actually enjoyed reading the whole thing and would likely read more in the series. I’d give this a 3 star, but only because of the dialogue formatting. Otherwise it would be a 3.5, almost a 4.

A Bookseller’s Guide to Successful Author Events

All good tips

Chicago Review of Books

So you wrote a book! Fantastic. Congrats on your new job. Yes, your book is now your job. You are the chief seller of your new book. Want to write and sell another book? Well, you better sell the first one.

I know not everyone is a salesperson. It can be exhausting and sometimes uncomfortable. I’m a bookseller. I totally get it. However, my work as a bookseller can only help your ONE book so much. I have a lot of books to sell. Thousands of books are published every year. We have dozens of author events and other events every month. We can only do so much.

Sure, you’ve dreamed that someone will accidentally pick up your book, fall in love with it, tell all of their friends and the next thing you know … BESTSELLER. Reality check — that almost never happens. (I know … it’s sad. Insert virtual…

View original post 831 more words

My Trip To Calgary

This is the first in a series of entries about my recent trip West. This post will be about the flight, my in-Calgary transportation experiences, and my hotel. I will also be doing one on the When Words Collide conference in general, one on the panels I spoke on, and one on the sessions I sat in on.

I left home mid-morning on Thursday August 10th and arrived in Calgary around 2pm local time. It was a fairly empty flight and West Jet was clean, prompt, and professional. Their staff was friendly, and while I had no special needs (wheelchair, children, etc) I watched them handle all their customers with care and respect.

I had done some research before leaving and planned to take the bus to my hotel. The signs in the airport made it easy to find my way out and I ended up right where I needed to be to buy my bus pass. I caught the next 300 BRT and was on my way. I got off the bus a few stops early so I could walk a few blocks, stretch my legs, and take in a little of downtown Calgary, then onto the C-Train (201) which was so easy to use. I’m from a little big-city so we don’t have anything like the C-Train, no subway either. From the C-Train station I wandered down to the bus stop and asked one of the drivers which bus I needed to get to the intersection I was looking for. They pointed me to the right bus (Transit drivers are amazing people) and I was dropped on the hotel’s doorstep. Took me close to 2 hours instead of 40 minutes but it was cheaper than the cab and super easy.

I stayed at the Delta Hotel, the Calgary South location. Checking in was a breeze and they upgraded me to a king-room. The room was clean and had all the necessary comforts. I settled in, got myself some snacks from the Wal-mart across the street, and spent some time at the pool. They have a great water slide with a pool and hot tub in the Tower building and a second pool and hot tub in the Atrium building.

The Delta is actually two buildings with a road between them but there’s a skywalk on the third floor. There are signs pointing to all the conference rooms and back to the elevators. I got turned around a few times but only because I was texting and not looking up!

The lunch bar they had available for conference attendees was delicious. And I had dinner at the pub next door the one night (Boomtown Pub), their pizza is fantastic.

My only complaint with the room, okay, there were two things. One, there was a shower but no tub. I’m assuming this is because I was in a king room and if I got a double with my husband and kids there would be a tub to bathe the wee ones in. 2 – my room was freezing and adjusting the in-room thermostat seemed to do nothing. Considering how little time I spent in my room it was a small complaint.

Checking out was just as easy and there was a cab on hand so off to the airport I went again. Security at the Calgary airport was slower than at home but it is a bigger airport. Still, wait times were not unreasonable and the staff was efficient and friendly.

I was on a full flight headed East but again the staff was friendly and the flight was clean and on time.

I was nervous going on this trip. I was travelling alone to a city I’d never visited before and I wasn’t there to stay with family or friends. Everyone I dealt with at the airports, on the flights, and at the hotel, including house keeping, was polite, friendly, and helpful. It made the trip much easier, and far more enjoyable.

Review: Alamir: Blood of Kaos Series

Alamir is the first book in the Blood of Kaos Series by Nesa Miller. This is an urban fantasy series that deals with demons and multiple realms.

What I like is that the pacing is steady with a good mix of sexy romance, dominance plays, and violence. Seriously, it plays out like a great TV series. You jump right in with just enough back story to keep you from being completely lost and then you get pieces along the way – some pieces make the story clearer, others make it more confusing. But confusing in a good way and answers come along often enough that you know the author intends to answer everything in her own time.

What I don’t like are the names and the misspellings. Kaos instead of Chaos. Names like Inferno, Spirit, Faux, Darknight … I know, it’s urban paranormal, this is the norm, these are the signals to the reader that it’s a demon story, but I don’t like it. That being said, it wasn’t enough of an issue to make me put the story down.

And while I don’t like the “destined to love each other, complete each other” reason for those two characters being together, she’s a strong woman who has made it very clear that if/when they sleep together it’s going to be on her terms. She forces him to be honest and vulnerable, forces him to respect her, and I like that.

This book stands alone as a single adventure with a goal which is achieved. But at the same time it sets up nicely for the sequel which will be out in the next year or so.

Overall I give this book 3.75 stars out of 5. The writing is very good and it’s gotten some amazing reviews so if you like this sort of story, with powerful brooding heroes and demons evil twins, read this book, you’ll love it. That’s the beauty of books – there’s something for everyone and if this is you’re thing you’re in for a treat.

Review: Transverse

Transverse is a poetry book written by Theo Ashford and is a companion to his “memoir” Transform. One can be read without the other, I haven’t read Transform yet.

Transverse is not a long book but it was very moving. Each poem was unique and captured a distinctive emotion or moment. Theo relies strongly on images of breaking, shifting, change, emptiness, and confusion to illustrate his own personal journey.

He has provided an honest look at one person’s journey of discovery, one that is on going – at least that’s the sense I got from these poems. There was a sense of being stuck in the middle of a fight – he shares the things he struggles with, and against, and in doing so highlights where the world is failing.

As someone who identifies as “hetro-normative” in pretty much every way I really appreciated being able to read this book. It opened my eyes to the inner turmoil, yes, but it also shone a light on how people like me are failing at being supportive.

Definitely a glowing 5 our of 5 stars from me.

Review: The Bloodstone Reckoning

The Bloodstone Reckoning is Mike Wigington’s debut novel – an epic fantasy for teens and adults.

The main character of the novel is Tabitha Millhouse, the daughter of a miller in a small town. The story begins on Tabitha’s 15th birthday. She lives with her father, her mother is dead, and her father will not speak of the past. Today, being her birthday, Tabitha pushes the issue, causing a fight that sends her running from the cabin and into the thick of the plot.

As well as her father there are two youth in town roughly her age, Faylyn, the daughter of the goldsmith, and Macon, the son of the black smith. These are Tabitha’s friends. Tabitha also meets an old wise woman, an Earth Mother, in the woods. This woman, Baba, becomes her friend and teacher.

There are powerful forces at work in this world and an evil lord from a far off country seeks an ancient and evil relic that he hopes will grant him immortality. Thus the stage is set.

Mike has created a detailed and rich world for his story to play out in, one that feels real and vivid. His descriptions are never tedious and add life to the story. The characters, while simple, are still fun. Tabitha is the stubborn tomboy. Macon is the sneaky troublesome boy who is attracted to her in spite of her weirdness. Baba is the wise woman. Tabitha’s father drinks away his heart ache and seeks above all else to protect his daughter. Lord Drake is charming and powerful, a man who simply craves power.

I love a rich fantasy and this certainly falls into that category. There are multiple forms of magic, many secrets, and a sense of urgency to the story.

I would like to congratulate Mike Wigington on a stellar debut and I look forward to reading more of his work in the future.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Lover’s Blog Hop

Today I am hosting the Book Lover’s Blog Hop. Each day of August a different author will be hosting the QUESTION OF THE DAY on their blog. I invite you to check out posts 1-8, and to head over to the rest of the blogs throughout the month. Here’s the schedule:

1st August http://www.JoLinsdell.com
2nd August http://www.skyehegyes.com
3rd August http://www.katherineapisana.com
4th August http://www.upstreamwriter.blogspot.com
5th August https://bookenthusiast2016.wordpress.com
6th August http://karaswanson.com
7th August http://www.brandypotterbooks.com
8th August http://www.BelindaBekkers.com
9th August http://www.casiaschreyer.wordpress.com
10th August http://www.katherineapisana.com
11th August http://www.virginialorijennings.com
12th August http://www.virginialorijennings.com
13th August http://www.cjbrightley.com
14th August http://www.JustBJordan.com
15th August http://www.saderena.com/blog
16th August http://www.angelaguidolinauthor.co.uk/blog
17th August http://www.tabithacaplinger.com
18th August http://www.skyehegyes.com
19th August http://www.landsuncharted.com
20th August kmcarrollblog.wordpress.com
21st August http://www.upstreamwriter.blogspot.com
22nd August http://www.JoLinsdell.com
23rd August http://www.belindabekkers.com
24th August http://www.fabianspace.com
25th August http://theliteraryapothecary.blogspot.com
26th August http://www.JustBJordan.com
27th August http://www.jebraunclifford.com
28th August http://www.brandypotterbooks.com
29th August http://www.skyehegyes.com
30th August http://www.brandypotterbooks.com
31st August http://www.landsuncharted.com

My QUESTION OF THE DAY is
HOW DO YOU ARRANGE YOUR BOOKSHELF?

Jordan 300dpi
Just B. Jordan http://www.JustBJordan.com

I don’t do anything super cool. I just organize by genre and author, putting my favorites in the most accessible spots. 🙂

Brandy Potter
Brandy Potter http://www.brandypotterbooks.com

By collection really and then by height, tallest to largest. I have a library corner in my bedroom. I have very old books (one from 1834). Those and classics occupy the top shelves. Then I have my series authors, Eddings, Tolkein, Riordan, Rowlings, Graham, Doyle, Lewis, Snicket, Christy. Again by height. Next contemporary artists. Grouped by author then height. Last non-fiction grouped by category.

Jo Linsdell
Jo Linsdell http://www.JoLinsdell.com

I don’t really have a system as such. I tend to organise by size, and genre. Books from a series always go together, and I try to put books by the same author together too.

SkyeHegyes
Skye Hegyes http://www.skyehegyes.com

I have three different categories. All my non-fiction is on one shelf sorted by topic and then book size. Then I have mass market paperbacks sorted by author’s last name. The last is all tradeback books and hardcovers, again sorted by author’s last name. It works for me, but I need more shelves.

BelindaBekkers
Belinda Bekkers http://www.belindabekkers.com

I change them from time-to-time. Currently they’re organised by the book’s cover colour. Sometimes it’s by genre, height, or whether they’re read/to-be-read.

Laurie Lucking Author Headshot
Laurie Lucking http://www.landsuncharted.com

My top priority in organizing my bookshelves is to make them look pretty 🙂 I do try to group by genre a bit, but mostly I put books by the same publisher together and books that are the same size together so they line up nicely.

vljauthorpic.jpg
V.L. Jennings http://www.virginialorijennings.com

I sort my books by type, how much I like them, and then by size. It is absolute sacrilege to put books in a series separate from each other. The home improvement books never go next to the Fiction books. The books that are the prettiest or those that I love reading the most go near eye level. It’s sorta complicated.

Jebraun Clifford
Jebraun Clifford – http://www.jebraunclifford.com

We’ve got bookshelves in every room of the house except the kitchen and bathroom. Even boxes of books we’re storing in the attic for my daughter! (breaks my heart to keep them there, but we literally have no room for another bookshelf!) I try to keep everything tidy and in it’s approximate genre. That’s as much as I can manage.

Karina Fabian headshot Aug 2013
Karina Fabian http://fabianspace.com

The family bookshelves are organized by genre and author. I don’t have my personal ones up yet, since we just moved into our new house, but there will be a shelf for friends’ books, a shelf for mine, a shelf for writing, then a shelf for my favorites by author.

C. J. Brightley

The main bookshelves downstairs have all the fiction books organized alphabetically by author’s last name. The bottom shelves hold books to be read (in no particular order). The books in the arts and crafts area in the basement hold all the non-fiction books grouped by topic, and one shelf has young adult books we own that my daughter isn’t quite ready for yet.. The bookshelves in our bedroom hold library books, books I’ve borrowed from friends, and books next up on my TBR list. My children both have their own bookshelves, which are always disorganized, although we try to keep their library books on the bottom shelves.

And me?
My big bookshelf is organized by size first – books go on the shelves where they fit. Then each shelf is sorted by author and series. I have a second shelf that has my photo albums, oversized books and text books. There’s also a shelf in the basement with kids’ books which is sorted by reading level.

Thanks everyone for sharing! I hope you’ll take the time to visit some of the other blogs on the tour.