Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween Chocolate, Book Sleeve & Books by Susan Hill Giveaway



Enter this giveaway for a chance to win seven chocolate bars, a glow in the dark book sleeve made by Melvis Makes and two books by Susan Hill. Black Sheep is a signed hardcover. Good luck!


The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

Odd & True by Cat Winters - Book Review & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Odette used to tell her sister Trudchen all about their family's monster slaying, curses and creatures of the night. Tru hasn't seen her sister in a while and misses her stories. She's living with her aunt, while Od was sent away to work. Tru had polio when she was a child, which has left her permanently disabled, and her sister's stories used to be a welcome distraction from the often boring and difficult daily life. However, what can she believe of everything her sister used to tell her, are the tales she spins actually true or did Od make them all up?

When Tru is fifteen years old Od shows up again to take her away. Od wants them to go on a journey. It's time for her to keep her sister safe from the monsters and she has a large amount of weapons at her disposal. Od and Tru are traveling the country to find their mother. Meanwhile they're also hearing stories about the Leeds Devil. Are monsters actually real and if they do exist should Od and Tru follow in the footsteps of their family and be there to make the world a safer place?

Odd & True is a fantastic story about two very special siblings. Cat Winters alternates between the two sisters and the reader gets to see the past through Od's eyes and the present through Tru's. I equally loved both voices and couldn't wait to find out where their story would lead. I'm a big fan of stories about siblings and Od and Tru are a brilliant pair. Tru is kindhearted, gentle and brave. Od is outspoken, damaged and caring. They are different, but share their love for stories. Od wants to protect her sister by keeping reality away from her, which is chivalrous, sweet and also a little bit naive. I loved the interaction between the two sisters, they both grow as a person and while Od always tries to keep the bad things away from Tru they slowly become equals, which was incredible to witness.

Cat Winters writes about the difficulties of life when you don't have much money at the beginning of the twentieth century in a beautiful realistic way. She combines this with a fantastic part filled with creepy monsters and legends. I really liked the overlap between the two stories and the constant doubt I had about Od's tales. I couldn't discard them, but also didn't know if I should believe them. Therefore I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough to find out where the story would lead and Cat Winters kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. Her books always manage to captivate and spellbind me and I love how gorgeous her writing is. I highly recommend Odd & True it's a terrific story.

Advice

If you love historical fiction and are a fan of magical realism you should definitely read Odd & True.

About Cat Winters


Cat Winters is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author of four novels for teens: In the Shadow of Blackbirds (2014 Morris Award finalist, a School Library Journal Best Book of 2013), The Cure for Dreaming (2014 Amelia Bloomer Project pick), The Steep and Thorny Way (a Kirkus Best Teen Book of 2016, Junior Library Guild selection), and the recently released Odd & True. Her YA novels have garnered eight starred reviews between them, and they've appeared on numerous state and "best of" lists. She is also the author of two novels for adults, The Uninvited and Yesternight, and she contributed to the young adult horror anthology Slasher Girls & Monster Boys.

Winters was born and raised in Southern California, near Disneyland, which may explain her love of haunted mansions, bygone eras, and fantasylands. She received degrees in drama and English from the University of California, Irvine, and formerly worked in publishing. She lives in a suburb outside of Portland, Oregon, surrounded by forests that offer plenty of inspiration for her Gothic, atmospheric tales.

Links
Giveaway

One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a hardcover copy of Odd & True.


The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

Isadora Moon Goes to School & Isadora Moon Goes on a School Trip by Harriet Muncaster - Book Reviews, Interview & Giveaway

Reviews by Suze

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Isadora Moon isn't like other children, she's half vampire, half fairy. Her dad is a vampire and Isadora loves flying at night and she likes bats. Her mother is a fairy and therefore Isadora also likes the day, spending time outside in the sunshine. She loves her pink rabbit and cute baby sister. It's time for Isadora to go to school, which school should she choose, a school for vampires or a school for fairies? Isadora goes to both vampire and fairy school to see which of the two she likes best. Where will she feel most at home?

Isadora loves pink and black, she has a pink bunny that accompanies her everywhere, Pink Rabbit, she likes bats, she has unruly black hair and everything about her is a mix of vampire and fairy. That makes her special and like nobody else. She's cute with her fangs, and pink and black and white clothes. She's friendly and sweet and unique, so the question is where she'll fit it. Every child that goes to school has to deal with making new friends and being part of a group and Harriet Muncaster smartly uses this as a theme for her first Isadora Moon story, which makes the story both fun and easy to relate to.

Harriet Muncaster's artwork is stunning. I loved every drawing in this beautiful Isadora Moon book. The combination of pink and black works very well and it makes the story come to life in a fantastic vibrant way. Each drawing perfectly suits the writing. Harriet Muncaster is talented in many different ways and her stories are bursting with creativity. Isadora Moon Goes to School put a big smile on my face, it's a wonderful story and I highly recommend it.



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Isadora Moon and her classmates go on a school trip to a castle. Isadora's father immediately offers his services, he loves helping out and maybe the castle will have ghosts. Isadora and her father love ghosts, but do Isadora's classmates like them as well? What will the school trip be like, is it going to be filled with fun, laughter and games or are there going to be spooks that will scare everyone else?

Isadora Moon Goes on a School Trip is a charming story about a half vampire half fairy girl and a haunted castle. Isadora is kindhearted and loves spending time with her classmates. She's unique, but so are they and they like each other because of who they are, which is something I absolutely loved about this story. Isadora meets a ghost at the castle, just like she hoped, but not everyone thinks ghosts are friendly and fascinating creatures. I loved how Harriet Muncaster describes the ghost, the castle itself and how much fun it is to go on a school trip there. Reading about it constantly made me smile. Another thing I loved is that Isadora Moon's father is just as endearing as his daughter, which makes the story even more enjoyable.

Harriet Muncaster's Isadora Moon stories are a combination of great writing and fabulous drawings. I absolutely love her beautiful books. They're gorgeous in looks and spirit, which makes them incredibly precious. Harriet Muncaster writes in a lovely understanding way filled with dreams, adventures and life. I fell in love with Isadora Moon Goes on a School Trip from the beginning and can't praise this terrific story enough.

Advice

The Isadora Moon books are very special, they're perfect for young readers who are just going to school. The age range is 5-9 and I think parents will enjoy the books just as much as their children. It's best to begin with Isadora Moon Goes to School and all the other Isadora Moon books can be read in random order afterwards.



About Harriet Muncaster


Harriet Muncaster holds two degrees in illustration, including an MA from Cambridge School of Art in England. Her work was Highly Commended for the Macmillan Prize 2011. She works with paper, fabric, and lots of sparkle to create unique miniature worlds and tiny characters, which she photographs to create inspiring scenes for the final book. She lives with her husband in England.

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Interview

1) Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

I'm an author and illustrator based in Bedfordshire, where I live with my husband and baby daughter. I love miniature things and would love to have the power to turn myself into a tiny fairy with wings. I had my first picture book, I am a Witch's Cat, published in 2012 shortly after I finished my master's degree in Children's Book Illustration. Since then, I have had a few more picture and activity books published, but I have spent the last 18 months working on my Isadora Moon series of young reader books. 

2) You're an author and illustrator, how do you work? What comes first, the writing or the drawings?

I usually have an idea for a character in my head first. I draw that character to see how they look, work on their design until I'm happy, and then develop them into a story.

3) Isadora Moon is half fairy half vampire, how did you get the idea to write about such a special mix of features?

Folllowing on from question 2, Isadora Moon started with this picture I drew one day: 


I gave her fangs because they looked cute, but then I thought about why she would have fangs. I decided she must be half-vampire. When I added wings, I realised the other half must be fairy. Her backstory came from just my experiments with different ways she could look.

4) The illustrations are in pink and black, how did you get the idea for this colour mix?

I love contrasts, such as the mix of sugary pink and gothic black. I had already experimented with this style for one of my other characters, Victoria Stitch, so I wanted to carry this over for Isadora Moon: 



5) Can you describe Isadora and her family members in six words each?

Isadora Moon - good-hearted, curious, cute, friendly, relatable, thoughtful

Countess Cordelia Moon (mum) - magical, nature-loving, wild, kind, flowery, sparkly

Count Barholomew Moon (dad) - vain, funny, sleek, naive, playful, nocturnal

Honeyblossom Moon (sister) - sweet, gurgly, likes pink milk

6) Your stories are set in a magical world, how do you bring magic into your own world?

I already mentioned my love of miniatures. One way I bring magic into my own world is through my miniature mascots I make. I love creating outfits and props for them to photograph in miniature scenes. 


I also love to surround myself with pictures that inspire me, so every inch of my studio walls is covered in images, and I have gallery walls all over my house.

7) Drawing children is quite a difficult thing to do, what's the best thing about drawing them and how would you describe your own style?

I struggled with drawing children for a long time. I actually wrote a whole blog post about it: https://harrietmuncaster.co.uk/how-to-draw-children

The best thing about drawing them is that children have lots of energy and are always moving, so you can make their poses and expressions look really dynamic.

8) What are your favorite kind of characters?

I love all sorts of magical characters. Two of my favourites are Dorrie the Witch (from the series by Patricia Coombs) and Tinkerbell the fairy. 

9) What kind of adventure would you really like Isadora to have next?

Well, I'm currently working on the seventh adventure in the Isadora Moon series. It will be out in March 2018 but I can't say too much else about it just yet!

10) Could you tell a bit more about the mediums you use for your art and how they help you with your stories?

I create Isadora Moon using pen and ink and watercolour, then I scan it into the computer to turn into two-colour pink-and-black for printing. I don't know if using this medium helps my stories more than doing the pictures entirely digitally would, but I love writing young reader books as I get to write a more detailed story than I would for a picture book, but I get to draw more pictures (and with pink-colour) than I would if I was writing for a slightly older audience.

11) What are your plans for the future?

For now, I'm continuing to work on Isadora Moon as I still have plenty of ideas for further adventures she could have. During any spare time I have, I've also started writing an older fiction novel based in a world I've been thinking about for a long time. I've no idea if it will get published or not, but that's my current passion project!

Giveaway


The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

With Love for Horror Books - Stage 3 by Ken Stark - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

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Review by Anniek

Mason is on his way home from a vacation he should have spent with his girlfriend. Instead of being a married man he's now single again. He slept through most of the flight and when he wakes up he notices that the other passengers and the flight attendants have gone blind. Even the pilots have lost their eyesight and as soon as the stewards know that Mason can still see he's ushered into the cockpit. Luckily planes nowadays can pretty much fly and land themselves. Mason has no clue that the flash of light in the sky will change the world forever. What would you do when the world is filled with monsters? How far would you go to survive?

Mason still has a week off from work and he chooses not to be a part of everyday life. He lurks behind closed curtains and refuses to watch television. When he finally goes outside of his apartment again he can't believe what has happened in the meantime. People have gone mad and have turned into blind savages who rip apart every living creature they can get their hands on. Mason needs to adjust fast if he wants to make it out of the city alive.

Mason isn't your typical hero. He actually doesn't really care about anyone anymore. He's cynical and is only looking out for himself, that is until he spots a young girl who is trying to escape the monsters as well. Mack is infested by the virus and is blind. She does have exceptional hearing and wants to find her aunt Sarah. Mack touches Mason's heart and he feels a strong need to keep her safe. Because of Mack I saw the real Mason and I admired him for his courage.

Stage 3 is an exceptional story about surviving in a world that has gone mad. I loved the uniqueness of the story. It's so different from the other zombie stories out there and I was glued to the pages. Ken Stark has put a lot of time in his characters and it's easy to feel close to them because of that. He makes it clear that the infected are not the only ones to look out for. Stage 3 is scary and the reason people turn into the undead made my bones chill. This story kept me on the edge of my seat and I look forward to reading more about Mason and Mack.

Advice

If you love to read about zombies in a post-apocalyptic world that is unique and refreshing you'll love Stage 3.

About Ken Stark


Ken was born in Saskatchewan, but has called Vancouver home for most of his life. He was raised on a steady diet of science fiction and disaster movies, so it seems right that his first published book series be about the zombie apocalypse. In his spare time, Ken tries to paint like Bob Ross and play poker like Doyle Brunson, but results suggest that he might have got it all backwards.

Links

Website: www.kenstark.ca

Interview

1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I grew up in the suburbs of Vancouver, Canada, and have been writing stories since as far back as I can remember, but after the discouragement of a few rejection letters in my teens, I decided to keep all future writing to myself and went on with life, eventually winding up in the armoured car industry. Flash forward a few decades, and whether it was the advancing years or simply too many stories bouncing around in my head, I knew that it was finally time to pursue my dream for real, and I've never looked back. I also love to paint, but that's a more recent passion, so it has to take a back seat to my first love.

2. What makes your heart beat faster?

Well, I'm pretty laid-back, but there are a few things that can always get the blood boiling. Any kind of cruelty to animals will do it. Knowing that we can't agree to stop destroying our planet does it, too. And I think we all have at least one phobia that we carry around for no good reason, but I can't tell you what mine is just in case Orwell was right about Room 101.

3. Which horror monster do you fear the most?

It's fun to be scared by vampires and ghosts and assorted creatures from the netherworld, but the scariest monsters for me are always human. We've had plenty of examples in our own lifetime of otherwise normal, everyday people doing the most horrific things imaginable, and considering the numbers of daily interactions we all have, chances are most of us have actually laid eyes on a real-life monster at some point in our lives. Think about it; your next door neighbour might be a psychopath. The nice guy who coaches your kid's soccer game on the weekends could have a dozen bodies buried under his house. The man who looks at you out of the corner of his eye at the grocery store might just be sizing you up for a skin-suit. Knowing that, how could Mothra or Roboshark possibly compare?

4. If the zombie apocalypse would happen today, what would you do?

I like to think I'd cope, at least for a while. For the first few days, I'd do what I would do in any natural disaster. If my home was intact, I'd hunker down and ride out the initial storm. After all, surviving a zombie horde is one thing, but surviving a mad panic in a city full of desperate people is quite another. I'm not sure what I'd do after things died down (pun intended), but it would definitely involve getting out of the city. There's a lot of wilderness around Vancouver, so I guess I'd fall back on my boy scout training and hide out on a mountainside somewhere. Getting there might turn out to be impossible, but hopefully I'd go down swinging.

5. What's your favorite horror movie?

The Exorcist, most definitely. It might not be the scariest movie I've ever seen, but it really does stand alone. Great story, great acting, great special effects…. It was a benchmark in movie-making, and it's just as good today as the day it came out.

6. What's your worst nightmare?

Oh, that's a good question. I only wish I could give you a good answer! The truth is, I never remember a nightmare for long. I might wake up with a vague memory of having been pursued by some unknown thing, but it'll all be gone a few seconds later. The only exception is a dream I had recently about the zombies from my own books, and I only remembered that one because it was so funny to think that I actually gave myself a nightmare.

7. If your book was made into a movie, who would play the lead characters and why?

Honestly, if that day ever came, I'd be so thrilled that I'm sure I wouldn't care one way or the other. Quite often, a writer will have an actor in his head to help visualize the character, but I had no one in mind while I wrote the Stage 3 books, so I'm wide open. That being said, someone mentioned Jake Gyllenhaal to me a while ago, and I had to agree that he would be just about perfect as Mace. And then someone else suggested Elizabeth Olsen as Sarah, and I fell in love with the idea. So that's my dream cast. I have no clue who would play Mackenzie, but I'm sure there's a child actor out there who'd be perfect for the role.

8. What inspired you to write horror stories?

We are all a product of our environment, and nothing shapes us quite as much as what we absorb in our formative years. When I was growing up, there was a war in Vietnam no one really understood, nuclear missiles were pointed every which way, and it seemed that every movie and TV show of the day reminded us that armageddon was coming, so it's no surprise that my writing tends toward the dark. But it goes deeper than that. I realized early on that fear is an incredibly powerful emotion. It is evolutionarily hard-wired into our brains. I could even argue that a healthy sense of fear if what kept us alive as a species. So if I can tap into even a tiny bit of that raw, primal fear then I will have affected the reader in a very fundamental way.

9. What do you like the most about the horror genre?

As a writer, it lets me go anywhere. I don't have to stick to reality, and I don't have to obey natural laws. I can create whatever monster I want, and if I do it right, I can make it believable. Vampires and mummies and zombies run counter to everything we know, but if the story is well-constructed, a child's voice deep down inside the reader will say, 'I know monsters aren't real, but I'm sure they exist'. What other genre lets a writer get away with that? And as a reader, nothing affects me quite as much as a well-crafted horror story. I devour books from all sorts of genres and I enjoy them all, but a good scary story sticks with me for a long time. I barely remember what I had for breakfast, but I can recall every creepy detail from the Poe and Lovecraft stories I read 30 years ago.

10. What can we expect from you in the future?

Nightmares, hopefully! I will continue the Stage 3 series as long as I'm able, but I have other things planned as well. I'm just putting the finishing touches on a book called Arcadia Falls, and I have several short stories that I want to get out of my head and onto my website. I have a couple of short stories on my website now, but I want to keep them coming as a kind of thank-you for anyone following my work.

Giveaway

Two very lucky readers of With Love for Books will receive a signed paperback copy of Stage 3.

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.



Book Review - Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

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Review by Suze

Taj is a gifted sin eater or aki. He's living in Kos where mages are powerful. Aki have to slayer the beasts that arise when someone has committed a sin and a mage is helping this person to get rid of it, but this costs them dearly. After the beast has been conquered a tattoo appears on the sin eater's skin. Usually the tattoos disappear again after time, but Taj is covered in them. He's seventeen years old and has seen more than most others of his age. Taj tries to send his family as much money as possible and misses them dearly. He can't go home because of what he does for a living.

When Taj helps the royal family to get rid of a particularly nasty sin it turns his whole world upside down. Gone is the hard life shared with other aki making little money and he's now part of a world he'll never feel at home in. However, this is just the beginning. He's in the middle of something, a dark conspiracy he doesn't know the details of. Taj needs to find a way to deal with this problem for the safety of the people he loves and his own wellbeing. Will he succeed?

Beasts Made of Night is a beautiful story filled with magic, sins and secrets. These are exactly the kind of subjects I like. Taj is brave and strong and he might be the best sin eater of his generation, but he's also powerless when it comes to those who rule his city. He has to eat sins, even though it harms him. It costs a lot of aki their sanity, but Taj is determined to keep going. I loved that strength in his character. He easily cares and his heart is kind and pure, which makes it difficult to be burdened with so many sins. That's a fantastic contradiction and a great topic for a story. I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough to find out if Taj would be able to keep himself sane or not.

Tochi Onyebuchi has a gorgeous way with words. I liked the way he slowly unfolds his story, it kept me interested from beginning to end. Beasts Made of Night is fantasy with Nigerian influences, which is original and surprising and it intrigued me straight away. The story is a fabulous adventure, filled with scary beasts, darkness and immorality, versus pureness and kindheartedness. I loved the combination of the two and really enjoyed reading this very special story.

Advice

If you love surprising YA fantasy Beast Made of Night would be an excellent choice.

November Book of Choice Giveaway Hop


Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a November 2017 release of your choice worth $15. Good luck!


The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


Monday, October 30, 2017

Book Reviews - A Recipe for Romance, Winning His Heart and His Christmas Bride by Lara Van Hulzen

Reviews by Suze

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Wes is in Marietta for a business deal when his dad signs him up for the Bachelor Bake-Off. Wes can't say no to charity, but he doesn't know how to bake. Fortunately his five-year-old niece Annalise has the perfect solution. She's taking dancing lessons with Noelle and thinks her teacher is great. Noelle can bake as well as she can dance, so Annalise thinks she's the perfect candidate to teach Wes how to make cookies, cake and pie. What will happen when Noelle and Wes get to know each other better?

A Recipe for Romance is a wonderful romantic story. Wes is a handsome man. He's good at making business deals, but he also has a kind heart. Noelle is a talented dancer. After a terrible accident she had to give up her professional career. She loves being a teacher and can still make a living from her passion. I admired her strength. They both get a little help from Annalise. She is such a cute little girl and reading about her put a big smile on my face. I love stories about true love and this one is even more special because it gets plenty of help from an adorable angelic girl.

Marietta is a lovely small town. It's the perfect setting for a romantic story. Lara Van Hulzen writes about an incredibly wealthy family and it was fun to see the town through their eyes. The St. Claires have been through a lot and they use their money for good things, which makes them quite likable. I kept hoping the members would all find happiness again eventually. I loved A Recipe for Romance, it's a fun and sweet story.   

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Michael is a dedicated father. He is a widower and raises his daughter Annalise with the help of his family. He used to be a race car driver and would love to follow his dream once more, but that means he needs help with his daughter. This comes in the form of a drama teacher. Franchesca needs money, so she can give her mother the best possible care. Next to giving lessons she could earn an extra income by taking care of Annalise. This would be a win-win situation for both her and Michael. However, are Michael's intentions purely professional or is he also hiring Franchesca to be able to spend more time with her?

Winning His Heart is a great story about loss, love and second chances. Franchesca is brave and fierce. She's a wonderful lady with plenty of talent. Michael is a gentle man with a troubled past. I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough to see if they'd have a chance together. Annalise is a cute girl and it isn't hard for Franchesca to fall for the package deal. However, she also has dreams for the future and they aren't easy to combine with a family. This made interesting reading and I kept hoping she and Michael would find a way to have their happily ever after while still following their hearts.

Lara Van Hulzen has a nice easy flowing writing style. I loved the way she writes about the St. Claire family. She makes them come to life incredibly well. Living in Marietta suits them and it's fun to see how each member loves to spend time in their big house in the small city. The family scenes are heartwarming and cheerful and I like every single St. Clair family member. Winning His Heart is a fabulous romantic feelgood story.

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Lucas wants to get married in Marietta. His bride-to-be, Vanessa, is a city girl, but she wants to give Lucas his countryside wedding. She's even found the perfect location, the Tanner ranch, Erin's home and business. Erin and Lucas used to be good friends and Lucas is the one for Erin. She's loved him ever since she was a teenager. Seeing him with someone else is a huge blow. However, Lucas isn't completely immune when it comes to Erin either. What will he do, is he going to ignore his feelings for the girl he used to dream about when he was a teenager and marry Vanessa or are his feelings for Erin too strong?

His Christmas Bride is a terrific festive story. I love reading about weddings and Christmas is such a romantic time to get married. Lucas might not have chosen the right woman though and I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough to find out if he'd go through with his intended wedding or not. It's clear from the start that Erin is perfect for him and I was hoping he'd discover the true nature of his feelings. The question is if he'll see sense in time and this kept me on the edge of my seat.

Lara Van Hulzen has chosen a fantastic setting for her Christmas story, a beautiful ranch that could use some work. I liked how Erin loves her family home and how hard she works to keep it going. It gives the story an interesting and irresistible angle. His Christmas Bride is a story about money versus no money. In love money shouldn't play a role though and I loved the message Lara Van Hulzen gives her readers. His Christmas Bride is a wonderful story filled with beautiful romance, countryside charm and plenty of surprises.

Advice

The Marietta St. Claire books can be read as standalones, but the stories are about siblings and family life plays a big part in each of them, so I'd advise you to read them in their correct order instead.

Read Romance Tote Bag, Mug and Pillow Giveaway


Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a Road Romance pillow, tote bag and mug set designed by Nyx Sullivan. Good luck!


The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

Horror Book Review - Divided by R.L. Blalock

Reviews by Anniek

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Colin is at work when the world falls apart. He has gotten disturbing messages on his phone from his wife, Liv. She's telling him things he doesn't dare to believe until he sees it with his own eyes. Stuck in the city, he and his friends need to find a way to get away from the danger. A bridge divides him from his wife and daughter. Will Colin be able to survive in a world that's full of death? And will his family be safely waiting for him when he does?

Now that the dead are after the living, Colin needs to change. He's always been a kindhearted man who worked hard to provide for his family. His only goal is to get to Liv and his daughter Elli. He doesn't know if they survived, but he has a rock solid believe in Liv that she'll do whatever it takes to stay safe and alive. Colin and Liv agreed that if something would ever happen that would get them separated they would meet up again at a farm in the woods. Is this farm the safe haven that they thought it would be?

When I started reading Divided I knew how Colin's story would end. The first book in this series Devour already gave me this information. It didn't make his story any less interesting though. I was glued to the pages from the beginning and didn't want to put this book down. Colin finds it difficult to deal with the man he has become, but in order to survive he does whatever he needs to do. As a parent I can relate to his desperate need to get to his family. When everything around you falls apart and when every moment can be your last it isn't possible to always be a follower. I loved the action-packed scenes and I couldn't read fast enough to get to the ending. R.L. Blalock has written a brilliant series about survivors in a zombie infested world. I love this genre and this series is absolutely in my top ten.

Advice

If you're a lover of the zombie genre Divided is an absolute must-read. I highly recommend this gripping story that chilled me to the bone.

Free book


Fight or Die? I'm going to fight. What's your choice?

Wyatt is halfway through his twelve-hour shift. He often phones his wife, just to let her know that he's safe and to say that he loves her. Work has been chaotic all morning. There are more incoming calls than usual. Wyatt is on his way to check up on a call when the dispatcher urges all officers to return to the station. While it's against his nature Wyatt drops his investigations and jumps into his car. Wyatt never expected to be fighting for his life at a day that started in such a normal way. Will he be able to get to safety in time and what will happen to his wife and young son?

Wyatt is a police officer and a loving father and husband. He takes his job very seriously and when he realizes how urgent the situation is he tries to get as much people as possible inside the walls of the police station, not knowing that the already injured people are a threat as well. When Olivia, a young mother who's trying to get to safety as well, comes through on the walkie talkie Wyatt discovers what's going on outside. Wyatt has to stay strong for the people around him and I loved the way he handles difficult situations. He does what needs to be done, even though this sometimes may be hard. Wyatt is someone I would love to have on my side when the end of the world as we know it would come. 

The Darkest Days is a gripping story about surviving in a changed world. Now that the world no longer belongs to the humans, people have to find a way to stay alive. I have been hooked on the Death & Decay series ever since I read Devour. R.L. Blalock always manages to shock me with her thrilling and terrifying stories. The Darkest Days made me feel scared, it made me cry and it filled me with hope for the survivors. The main characters feel like real people and this makes the story even more creepy. I absolutely love this series and I can't wait to start reading the second book, Divided.

Advice

The Darkest Days shows you how people are struggling to stay safe in a zombie infested world. If you're in for a fast-paced, thrilling and terrifying zombie story, then this is a series you don't want to miss.

With Love for Horror Books - The Town Built on Sorrow by David Oppegaard - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway


Review by Suze

Harper is obsessed with Sophie's diary. Sophie wrote her diary at the beginning of the second half of the nineteenth century and her family helped founding Hawthorne, Harper's hometown. Harper likes to observe and she wants to be a journalist. People in Hawthorne are dying, they are being murdered by a serial killer and nobody knows who this person is. Harper has the feeling she has to follow Sophie, but by doing this she might put herself in danger as she's getting closer to the murders. Why are those people being killed and what is the killer's motivation? Is it someone Harper knows?

The Town Built on Sorrow is a fantastic gripping story. I was captivated from the start. Harper can't stop reading Sophie's diary and she has no idea why she can't let Sophie's story go. Finding out what happened to Sophie kept me on the edge of my seat. I loved that the past is as spellbinding as the present. Harper is an intriguing main character. She has her flaws, she sometimes does things that aren't smart and her family annoys her. I liked that she isn't the sweetest or loveliest person, that she's a regular teenage girl with a more than healthy curiosity. That makes the story extra fascinating.

It's clear from the start who the serial killer is and seeing the world through his disturbed mind is interesting. Reading about his actions and his lack of empathy kept shocking me, which is something I loved about The Town Built on Sorrow. The story is filled with surprising twists and turns. The descriptions of the murders are distant, but detailed. They're despicable acts, however, because of David Oppegaard's terrific unusual way of writing about them I somehow found them easy to stomach, while they're still incredibly gross.

David Oppegaard has a great compelling writing style. I flew through the pages of The Town Built on Sorrow. I loved the way he alternates the past with the present, the pieces of the puzzle all fit and the result is a fabulous complete story with many amazing creepy elements. I enjoy being spooked and David Oppegaard knows how to write a good scary book that definitely hit its mark. I highly recommend The Town Built on Sorrow.

Advice

If you love gripping creepy stories The Town Built on Sorrow would be an excellent choice.

About David Oppegaard


David Oppegaard is the author of The Town Built on Sorrow (Sept. 2017-Flux), the 2016 MN Book Award finalist The Firebug of Balrog County (Flux), the Bram Stoker-nominated The Suicide Collectors (St. Martin’s Press), And the Hills Opened Up (Burnt Bridge), and Wormwood, Nevada (St. Martin’s Press).

David grew up in the small town of Lake Crystal, MN, and wrote his first novel at the age of fifteen. David’s work is a blend of literary fiction, science fiction, horror, and dark fantasy. He holds an M.F.A. in Writing from Hamline University and a B.A. in English from St. Olaf College. He has worked as an optician, a receptionist, a standardized test scorer, a farm hand, an editorial assistant, a trash picker, a library assistant, a seasonal bookstore employee, and as a child minder on a British cruise ship. He teaches the occasional fiction class at Hamline University and currently works at the University of Minnesota. He lives in St. Paul, MN.

Links


Interview

1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I'm a novelist who lives in St. Paul, MN. I love many fiction genres: horror, fantasy, sci-fi, literary, classic, etc. With every book I write, I try to challenge myself in a new way and find something new to mine in the genre(s) I'm writing in. I have a day job at the University of MN. I like going to rock shows, running outside all year long, watching too much TV, standup comedy, playing gin rummy in taprooms with my girlfriend, drinking coffee, and right now I'm really into Skyrim on my old XBOX 360. You can't cover everything, but I like to think I'm enjoying life as much as I can before I die.

2. What makes your heart beat faster?

Going on blind dates! Ha. I also hate going to the mall when it's busy and everybody's a little crazy. When I'm at the mall, humanity seems like it's ready to tear itself apart...

3. Which horror monster do you fear the most?

Freddy Krueger. He's just waiting for you to fall asleep! What's scarier than not being able to go to sleep?

4. If the zombie apocalypse would happen today, what would you do?

I've thought about this way too much. If I was at home in my apartment, I'd lock the front door (obvs), somehow cover up all the windows, and fill the bathtub with water in case the water stops running. Then I'd start drinking whiskey and wait for the scraping sounds to begin...

5. What's your favorite scary movie?

This is a tough, tough question. The People Under the Stairs scared the HELL out of me when I first saw it. So did Event Horizon and Candyman. I also really love the John Carpenter version of The Thing (1982) but winner-takes-all is probably Aliens (1986). That movie is just a terrifying good time.

6. What's your worst nightmare?

A world where the United States has destroyed its national parks for a temporary profit that benefits only a few wealthy demon-men.

7. If your book was made into a movie, who would play the lead characters and why?

The lead characters in The Town Built on Sorrow are all teenagers and I'm not really up on my famous teen actors. I'd hope they'd actually be raw, relatively unknown young actors who could convey their emotions with force, like the young actors in Stranger Things. I also thought the cast of young actors in the new version of IT did a great job.

8. What inspired you to write scary stories?

I like to see how freaked out I can make both myself and my reader feel-it's fun for me because I'm a madman.

9. If you'd go to a Halloween party what would your costume be?

This year I went as Mike Nelson, the 2nd host from Mystery Science Theater 3000. I love that show-it was created right here in the Twin Cities.

10. What can we expect from you in the future?

I've written a YA sci-fi novel called Blood Red Sky and we've just started sending it around to publishers. It's about a group of prep school students who have to band together to survive after their planet is invaded. Also, the film rights to The Town Built on Sorrow have been sold to a production company-it'd be really cool to see a film version of the book!

Giveaway

Two very lucky readers of With Love for Books will receive a paperback copy of The Town Built on Sorrow.


The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


Guest Post - Prejudice Against the Past by Victoria Cornwall

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Prejudice Against the Past
Guest post by Victoria Cornwall

Earlier this year I wrote a post for the With Love for Books blog about reviews http://www.withloveforbooks.com/2017/05/with-love-for-reviews-guest-post-by_24.html . I am delighted to be back again as part of my blog tour to celebrate the double release of the first two novels in my Cornish Tales series. The paperback version of The Thief’s Daughter and the eBook version of The Captain’s Daughter were published earlier this month.

During the tour I wrote posts on the role of the heroine, the hero, the antagonist and the location or setting of a novel. Today I am going to talk about writing in my preferred genre – historical romance.

The other day I was searching the bookshelf of the local supermarket. Two ladies stood next to me and I was a little taken aback when one refused to consider a book her friend had selected for her. She looked at the woman on the cover wearing a 1920s outfit and instantly dismissed it.

“I don’t read historicals – only contemporaries,” she said.

She had her preference and I respect that, but I was surprised that she didn’t even read the blurb on the back cover. You see, I love reading historical romance, but I also read contemporary romance and psychological thrillers. To my mind, if it is a good book it shouldn’t matter the time it is set in. On the flip side, if it is a bad book the era won’t turn it into a good book. Yet some readers steer clear of historical romance and it got me wondering why they stick rigidly to a preferred romantic genre. I came up with three potential reasons, although I am sure there are lots of others too.

History is a lesson at school

Is there a subconscious fear that they won’t understand the era it is set in? I understand this concern as I dislike reading historical fiction which assumes I know a lot of historical facts already. I read for leisure and don’t want to feel as if I have just read a history dissertation. However I do want to feel as if I am in another world, because ultimately that is what I want – to escape the present and travel back in time. So when I write I try my best to weave the historical detail into the novel so it is part of the normal life for the character. The Thief’s Daughter is set in the 18th century (think Poldark) and The Captain’s Daughter is set in the 19th century Victorian era. However, the reader does not need to know anything about these eras to understand the story. No history degree is required, just follow the characters and absorb their world.

Historical romance is full of swooning heroines.

I dislike reading about weak, swooning heroines too. I don’t believe it reflects who women are today or how they were in the past when life was so much tougher and woman had to face gender prejudice, discrimination and the danger of childbirth. So I often find that the heroines in my novels turn out to have an inner strength that they have to call upon to help them to survive all they have to face. Jenna, in The Thief’s Daughter, is feisty and tough from the beginning, whereas Janey in The Captain’s Daughter is gentle, but lonely. Both have to find their way along the path they are forced to travel and they grow stronger and more determined in order to survive.

Historical novels are all about balls and carriage rides – nothing exciting happens.

The era a novel is set in has nothing to do with the pacing and plotting of a book. I like to read novels with twists and turns, tensions and high emotions so it is only natural that I try to write the book I would like to read. The Thief’s Daughter begins with a child hiding from a man. By the end of the second chapter a man has been hung and the heroine has to face the prospect of entering the dangerous world of the smuggling trade.

In The Captain’s Daughter, Janey faces many challenges and gradually learns the true nature of the two men who have entered her life. Each one will have a profound effect on her future and will change her life forever. There are accusations of murder, obsession and jealousy which all play out to an ultimate climax. Nothing exciting happens in an historical? Perhaps it is the book rather than the period it is set in that is the problem.

So if you have never read an historical romance before, why not give the genre a try? Select your book carefully as you would with any other genre. There are gems out there waiting to be discovered.

The Thief’s Daughter is now available to purchase in paperback and eBook and The Captain’s Daughter is available to buy as an eBook.

The Thief’s Daughter

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Hide from the thief-taker, for if he finds you, he will take you away ...

Eighteenth-century Cornwall is crippled by debt and poverty, and the gibbet casts a shadow of fear over the land. Yet, when night falls, free traders swarm onto the beaches and smuggling prospers.

Terrified by a thief-taker's warning as a child, Jenna has resolved to be good. When her brother, Silas, asks for her help to pay his creditors, Jenna feels unable to refuse and finds herself entering the dangerous world of the smuggling trade.

Jack Penhale hunts down the smuggling gangs in revenge for his father's death. Drawn to Jenna at a hiring fayre, they discover their lives are entangled. But as Jenna struggles to decide where her allegiances lie, the worlds of justice and crime collide, leading to danger and heartache for all concerned ...

For buying options click HERE.

The Captain’s Daughter

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Sometimes you need to discover your own strength in order to survive …

After a family tragedy, Janey Carhart was forced from her comfortable life as a captain’s daughter into domestic service. Determined to make something of herself, Janey eventually finds work as a lady’s

maid at the imposing Bosvenna Manor on the edge of Bodmin Moor, but is soon caught between the two worlds of upstairs and downstairs, and accepted by neither, as she cares for her mistress.

Desperately lonely, Janey catches the attention of two men – James Brockenshaw and Daniel Kellow. James is heir to the Bosvenna estate, a man whose eloquent letters to his mother warm Janey’s heart. Daniel Kellow is a neighbouring farmer with a dark past and a brooding nature, yet with a magnetism that disturbs Janey. Two men. Who should she choose? Or will fate decide.

For buying options click HERE.

About Victoria Cornwall


Cornish born author, Victoria Cornwall, can trace her Cornish roots as far back as the 18th century. This background and heritage has given her an understanding and knowledge of Cornish rural life which is the inspiration for her writing.

Following a fulfilling twenty-five year career as a nurse, a change in profession finally allowed her time to write. Her writing has been shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romantic Fiction in 2014 and her debut novel, The Thief’s Daughter was a finalist in the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Joan Hessayon Award.

She likes her romance books to have a strong background story but at the centre is the unmistakable emotion, passion and even pain of loving someone.

She is married with two grown up children.

Links

Website: www.victoriacornwall.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/VickieCornwall
Facebook: www.facebook.com/victoriacornwall.author
Instagram: www.instagram.com/victoria_cornwallx
Pinterest: uk.pinterest.com/vickiecornwall/

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Secondhand Life by Pamela Crane - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

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Review by Anniek

Mia was just 12 years old when a tragic accident took her father's life and left her in need of a heart transplant. Mia got Alexis's heart. Alexis was a young girl who was murdered by a serial killer. Lately Mia's been having dreams about Alexis's last minutes. Mia feels compelled to act on those memories. She starts an investigation on her own, trying to find out who killed Alexis. Will Mia be in over her head with a serial killer on the loose? What will happen when she gets too close?

The heart transplant left Mia with a big scar and she feels terribly insecure about it. She tries to cover it up at all times. Mia still struggles with everything that happened and she can't deny her secondhand heart the truth. Her boyfriend doesn't understand why she's so determined in her quest and he isn't too supportive. I loved how Mia holds her own. She feels so strongly about this and is not backing down. Alexis deserves justice and I loved Mia for wanting to give that to the girl who saved her life.

A Secondhand Life is a gripping story that kept me on the edge of my seat. What Mia is experiencing is organ memory. This is not uncommon and I found this subject incredibly intriguing. I believe that the heart is part of someone's soul and to receive a heart from someone else must be really weird. Pamela Crane knows exactly what she is writing about and her story grabbed me from the very beginning. It can be a bit confusing when a story has a lot of flashbacks, but I had no troubles at all keeping track because the writing is so clear.

Pamela Crane surprised me more than once with the direction of her story and I love it when a writer can do that. A Secondhand Life has a fast pace, which made me fly through the pages. After I finished I looked up organ memory on the internet since I wanted to know more about it, that's how real A Secondhand Life felt for me. This was my first book by Pamela Crane, but I can't wait to read another one of her thrilling emotional rollercoasters.

Advice

If you're looking for a gripping and compelling read I highly recommend A Secondhand Life. Even though A Secondhand Life is part of the Killer Thriller series it can easily be read as a standalone.

About Pamela Crane


Pamela Crane is a professional juggler. Not the type of juggler who can toss flaming torches in the air, but a juggler of four kids, a writing addiction, a horse rescuer, and a book editor by trade. She lives on the edge (ask her Arabian horse about that—he’ll tell you all about their wild adventures while trying to train him!) and she writes on the edge. Her characters and plots are her escape from the real world of dirty diapers and cleaning horse stalls, and she thrives off of an entertaining tale.

She is the author of the best-selling psychological thriller "The Admirer’s Secret," Amazon top 20 short story "A Fatal Affair," and her latest releases "A Secondhand Life" and "A Secondhand Lie."

Links

Website: www.pamelacrane.com
Blog: www.pamelacrane.wordpress.com
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Pamela-Crane/e/B00FOS91AI
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1811367.Pamela_Crane
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pamela.crane.52

Interview

1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I like to think of myself as a full-time juggler, though I’m not nearly as agile as one. I have four kids ages 6 and under, I work as a book editor, I run a horse rescue (or what my daughter calls a “zoo,” since we seem to rescue all types of animals), and I recently added being an author to the list. I’m a terrible cook, but I lucked out by marrying a wannabe chef who loves to ban me from the kitchen.

2. You're a full-time writing and working mom. What does a typical day look like for you?

Changing at least 2 dirty diapers starts the day off, along with the ear-piercing shrieks of my clumsy 3-year-old who takes a tumble at least once every morning. But after the morning chaos dies down, I usually run around like a beheaded chicken passing out snacks, getting my older kids to school, chugging coffee, and checking email. Evening, after the kids are in bed, is when I jump on my computer to catch up on writing. I’m working on my sixth thriller book and am loving the plot and characters, so my nightly writing time is precious to me. I close the day with my Kindle and tea, reading pretty much any genre I can get my hands on.

3. You have your own blog. What do you like the most about blogging?

I have an autistic but adorable son, so I blog to vent some of my frustrations about life and parenting in general, but I also review good books I’ve read. I also like sharing editing tips for my writer blog fans. With blogging I can throw out a few paragraphs without having to proof it to death, yay!

4. Do you have a favorite quote?

E.L. Doctorow wrote: “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” This is so me. I can write about serial killers, brokenness, and heroes and no one has yet to diagnose me with a mental illness for having such erratic (and often creepy) thoughts.

5. You're also a reviewer. Could you name one book that is a must-read?

Oh no, what to choose? I’m going to go with an indie author this time, since God knows they need the support. I recently read a book called 2nd Sight about a man suffering from hallucinations that are part of a genetic psychic disorder. The visions can change based on various choices made, so the protagonist is constantly attempting to figure out how to avoid a dire future looming ahead. Think of the movie The Butterfly Effect but with a villain out to kill him and an earth-shattering reality that the character is trying to stop from happening.

6. What's your favorite writing and reading spot?

If you’ve ever seen National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, do you remember Cousin Eddie’s run-down RV spewing toxic waste? Well, I have a similar 1979 RV—minus the toxic waste. That RV is my writing nook where tea and snacks are within an arm’s reach while I write. It’s ugly, but it sure is cozy and quiet!

7. You thrillers are based on real-life experiences. Could you name one that made a big impression on you?

A friend of mine had a lung transplant, and shortly after he started experiencing changes in his tastes and even some unfamiliar memories. Worried that something was wrong with the transplant, he sought answers from his doctor, who told him about a cellular memory phenomenon where organs can retain information from the original host and pass it to the new host. Combining this organ memory science with my personal experience with a traumatic psycho-stalker incident, I decided to embellish the tale in my murder mystery story A Secondhand Life. I’ve met my fair share of crazy people, so as they say, I write what I know.

8. Could you describe yourself in 6 words?

Peppy, Animal-loving, Manic, Energetic, Loyal, Adventurer (Like how I used my name as an acronym? Haha)

9. Do you have a writing routine?

If by routine you mean whenever I can scrape an hour here and there together, then sure! I do try to make consistent time to write, though it varies. Sometimes the flow of words will be so heavy that I’ll write a chapter a night. Other times I’ll beg my husband for a weekend getaway to focus solely on writing. I live, breathe, and eat words, so somehow or another I’ll make time for it, no matter how much sleep I have to lose (I have 4 kids—I’m used to no sleep by now anyways).

10. What can we expect from you in the future?

My next thriller series, “The Little Things That Kill Series,” has been released in July 2017. I’m very excited about the first book in the installment, The Art of Fear.

Ari Wilburn died long ago—the day her little sister’s life depended on her, and she lost it. After years of enduring resentful parents, crippling self-blame, and a failed suicide attempt later, Ari stumbles upon a sliver of truth about her sister’s death. Was it the accident investigations claimed it was? Or was there a darker motive involved? In the midst of her crumbling psyche, Ari joins a suicide support group where she meets Tina, a sex-trafficked escapee whose father winds up dead. Although ruled a suicide, Tina suspects otherwise and drags Ari into her pursuit for justice. Faced with these murderous wakeup calls, Ari can no longer sleepwalk through life as she pieces together clues that could free her conscious but fuel the killer’s interest in seeing her dead. Will Ari be able to help herself and Tina find closure? Or will she only bring more suffering on herself and those she gets close to?

Giveaway

Five very lucky readers from With Love for Books will receive a digital copy of one of the books on Pamela Crane's backlist (winner's choice).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.