The Wolves of Midwinter

Monday, July 30, 2012

Syrenka Series Bewitching Book Tour

Book Three of The Syrenka Series
By Amber Garr

 With power comes the responsibility to accept its consequences.

After the betrayal of those closest to her, Eviana Dumahl struggles to cope with her new reality. Kidnapped, broken, and confused, she is forced to engage in a war that will alter merfolk politics forever. With her estranged father leading the charge, Eviana has no choice but to stand by his side. Her continued existence hinges on the acceptance of the power growing inside her, even when that means embracing the family’s dark lineage.

Kain Matthew will sacrifice the world for Eviana. And he is not alone. As time runs out, her friends fight to save her life and theirs. An unlikely alliance gives them the edge they need to take a stand, although it keeps Eviana’s heart trapped in the past. A new discovery explains some of her previous mistakes, but it may not be enough to stop her father’s plans. Merfolk, selkies, and water sprites work together to save their kind, only in this final battle, not everyone will survive.

In the striking series conclusion, Eviana will learn the true meaning of power, sacrifice, and love.

Excerpt 1

When Graham and I surfaced back inside our coral-walled prison, we noticed that someone had brought us two plates of food.  Without speaking to him, I pulled myself out of the water and willed my legs to come back to me.  Considering our history, I might have had some concern over Graham seeing me naked, but once again, I couldn’t muster up the energy to care.
“I see they’ve improved the food,” he commented.
“Doesn’t matter, I’m not eating,” I said without even looking at the plates.  Now that we had the light from underwater, it made it easier to move about the room and identify what Lucian’s cronies were feeding us.
“Nope,” I said as I finished pulling my shirt over my head.  When I turned around, I saw Graham chewing on a piece of pineapple and sifting through the rest of the items.  Much to my dismay, my stomach growled.  It was so loud that Graham chuckled.
“Perhaps your body wants some nourishment.”
“I don’t care.”
“Suit yourself, tart.”
I rolled my eyes and walked over to him.  The smell of the food was overwhelming and I couldn’t help but look down at it.  “Don’t call me that,” I said but spoke more to the plate.  There was some type of fish wrapped in a banana leaf and it smelled delicious.
“You’re drooling,” he teased.
“It’s probably poisoned.”
He bit into another piece of fruit.  “Well, I haven’t eaten anything solid in days, so I’ll take my chances.”  Grabbing his plate, he sat down cross-legged on the floor and proceeded to stuff his face.
Tempted, I fought the urge to give in.  I didn’t really know what the purpose of my hunger strike was and how it would help get me out of here.  I guess I just wanted to be difficult.

Excerpt 2
I finished packing up the duffle bag full of knifes, hand grenades, and a couple of Japanese short swords.  It was Julian’s weapon of choice, but I preferred to stick with my natural abilities.  I’d been practicing my compulsion and my water control seemed to improve every day.  It was like a switch had been turned on and I suddenly knew exactly how to manipulate the element with very little effort.  The compulsion I would save for a few choice selkies if needed.
As if listening to my internal thoughts, Brendan appeared on the beachside deck and knocked on the door frame.  Neither of us acknowledged his presence, so he walked inside and sat down next to Daniel.
“I need to talk to Marisol,” Daniel said and quickly jumped out of his chair then disappeared around the corner.  I would thank him for that later.
“Do you need any help?” Brendan asked.
After a full minute of silence, he spoke again.  “Abhainn will find her, right?”
I stopped filling the snack bag I was working on and took a deep breath.  Do I respond or do I stay silent?  I decided to listen to my heart.  “Do you really care?”
As though I stabbed a sword through him too, Brendan recoiled in shock.  “Of course I care!  I love her more than anything in this world!”
“If you truly did love her, you would have left a long time ago.”  My voice wavered with anger and a thousand other emotions.  Apparently we were going to have this discussion and I wasn’t fully prepared to filter my words.
Brendan jumped to his feet and leaned across the table toward me.  “You would have loved that, wouldn’t you?  Having her to yourself.  Going through with a marriage she never wanted.  It would have been perfect for you if I would have stayed in Washington, right?”
“Yes,” I said through gritted teeth.  “She would have had a chance to choose me.”
“She always had that chance.  I never stopped her.”  He moved around the edge of the table so that we were looking at each other eye to eye.  I could see the lines around his face and the grey tone of his skin.  He looked like hell and I smiled.  “What’s so funny?” he snapped.
Ignoring his question, I stared into his eyes.  “She doesn’t want you now.”
He sucked in air then turned away from me.  “But I need to help her.”
“No, you don’t.  We have this under control.”

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Barnes and Noble - Not posted yet.

Book Two of The Syrenka Series
By Amber Garr
Life as a mermaid can be suffocating.

Eviana Dumahl has returned home as a clan leader, an orphan, and a heartbroken teenage girl.  Her parents are dead and her boyfriend, Brendan, has decided that he needs some time away.  While battling her inner turmoil, Eviana is forced into the war that Lucian Sutherland has incited amongst her own kind.  With the help of Kain, her friend and formally betrothed, the two work together to prove that they deserve their birthrights as young merfolk leaders.

When The Council requests a demonstration of Eviana’s mermaid powers, she finds herself with an opportunity to win back Brendan’s heart.  But her orders to train with a repulsive merman and the presence of an attractive new suitor challenges Eviana to embrace her leadership and resist temptation. Lucian is after her, and no one seems to understand why.  Loyalties are tested as the casualties increase, showing Eviana that sometimes it is impossible to delineate between friends and enemies.


Excerpt 1
I wanted to punch him in the face.
For at least the hundredth time today, I swung my fist towards his infuriating smirk.  He easily dodged it, of course, and proceeded to look down at me like a child.  “You’re getting closer,” he teased.
Throwing my arms down in frustration, I shook my head.  “How am I supposed to learn if you won’t even let me get a hit in?”
He laughed and resumed a fighter’s stance.  “How are you supposed to learn if I just stand still and let you pummel me?  That’s not ever going to happen in the real world.  Now, try with your legs.”
I rolled my eyes and shifted my feet so that my stronger right leg was in front.  Ideally, I’d be having this battle underwater where my legs were not an issue. 
“Protect your face,” he yelled at me and I lifted my fists up to nose level.  I could do this.  He’d taught me how to incapacitate my enemies.  Just go for the knee
I faked a few smaller kicks, pretending to hesitate.  Then, like a ninja, I struck.  The underside of my right foot was directly on target and I expected it to land a perfect hit to the side of his left knee.  Only it didn’t happen.
Out of nowhere, he grabbed my ankle and I was suddenly airborne.  The world spun around me once before I landed with a thud on my back, effectively knocking the air from my lungs.  I even saw some stars floating by.  My training sessions were getting harder every day, and after this debacle, I decided that it was time to quit.
A shadow moved above me and I used my hand to block out the rest of the sun.  Looking up at his ominous figure I said, “I’m done.”
I heard another laugh rumble through my trainer’s chest as he reached down and grabbed my arm.  In one swift motion, he pulled me up off the ground. 
“You would have broken my knee with that kick, Eviana.  I had to stop you.”  I glared at him.  “What?” he continued.  “I’m not going to let you hurt me.  But you did well.  I knew that you’d learn eventually.”
I jumped towards him as fast as I could, intending to get him in a choke hold.  My arms slipped around his neck, but my body kept rolling over him as he bent forward and used my momentum to toss me towards the ground.  In less than two seconds, I was on my back again with a forearm pressing against my throat and my pride seeping away into the dirt.
“Ahh!” I screamed in frustration.  The annoying grin on his face told me that I would never beat him in a fair fight.  Palmer was my cousin, my trainer, and also one of the numerous protectors now living at my house.  We’d been practicing for the past two weeks and although I couldn’t hurt him yet, Palmer reassured me that I was improving.

Excerpt 2
“Try that one next,” Daniel mumbled through a mouth full of bagel.
“Stop pointing!” I warned him.  The three of us were sitting on one of the benches in Bennett’s Park that surrounded the largest playground area.  We probably looked young enough that this wasn’t creepy, otherwise the adults would wonder why we stared and laughed at their kids all morning.  I felt kind of bad but it was the only way I could practice.  “What should I do?”
Daniel tilted his head in thought, and I could see the moment he got some demented idea.  “Make him do the chicken dance!”  Kain snorted and I agreed with his sentiment.
“Daniel…,” I groaned.  “Really?”
“Yes, it’s genius because no one would be suspicious if an adult is dancing for a kid.  Plus, you can try to give the command to just one person,” he pointed out.
“Okay, let’s see.”  I did my best to block out all background noises and focused in on one of the few fathers who braved the playground scene today.  It wasn’t like I could find his mind per se, but that’s what I was trying to do.  The more I practiced, the easier it was for me to visualize every individual’s consciousness.  I directed my power towards the jumble of thoughts that I figured belonged to the man and pushed the music into his head along with the command to dance.  A wave of confusion swept over his face and he stopped fiddling with his daughter’s coat.  He stood up and began to sway from side to side.
“It’s working!” Daniel squealed.  The man smiled down at his daughter and brought his hands up to his ribs.  Flapping his elbows up and down like a bird, he began the chicken dance.  I was so excited, I continued to push the command out towards him without realizing that I touched a few other minds as well.  Nearly twenty parents and their children began dancing the choreographed steps and I totally lost my concentration.
“Oh crap,” I moaned.  Kain and Daniel laughed beside me and I elbowed them both.  “Humans are too easy.”  I was learning that the power of suggestion on a human’s mind was way more potent than I could handle at this point.  Pushing out one command to one person with a little too much force indirectly affected all of those around him.  Now half of the playground was wiggling and twisting to an inaudible tune, and Daniel was in hysterics.
“Keep going.  This is too good,” he sputtered out in between giggles.  I ignored him and yelled Stop! in my head to erase their urge to continue dancing. 
Within a few seconds, everyone stopped and looked around in confusion.  My friends were laughing loudly and several parents glanced in our direction.  But they soon went back to their normal business as though they hadn’t just been part of a flash mob.  Mermaid compulsion: got to love it.
“Oh, you’re no fun,” Daniel chided.
 I rolled my eyes at him and slumped back against the bench.  Sipping the latte we grabbed on the way to the park, I looked around the rest of the scenery and tried to think about nothing.  Not an easy task. 
“You try it,” Daniel said.  At first I thought he was talking to me, but was surprised to see him looking at Kain.
“I don’t think so,” Kain said with an edge.
“No, he’s right.  You need to practice too,” I added.  Kain had the ability as well, although for some reason mine had jumped from zero to extreme in one evening.  His power repertoire was building slowly but he still had the skills necessary to manipulate minds. 
“You’re the one they want to see demonstrate,” Kain reminded me.
“So?  You’re a leader, too and the more control you have, the more people will respect you.”

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Book One of The Syrenka Series
By Amber Garr

Sometimes following your heart can end up destroying the ones you love.
 When seventeen-year-old Eviana Dumahl is faced with the responsibility of an arranged marriage and clan leadership, she is forced to choose between the life required of a mermaid and one of a teenage girl simply infatuated with the wrong guy. Kain, her devoted fiancé, would make a wonderful husband except that she’s been in love with Brendan, a shape-shifting selkie, ever since they were kids. Choosing to abandon her family, her clan, and her life with Kain will have dire consequences far beyond anything she could have imagined.
A war is brewing amongst the clans and Eviana unwittingly becomes a pawn in the intricate schemes of a twisted mastermind. With Brendan’s life on the line, she has no choice but to involve those she once considered friends. Amidst encountering senseless tragedies and immense loss, Eviana discovers that she is more valuable as a clan leader than anyone ever suspected. Her survival is not only dependent upon the loyalty of her friends, but also on her acceptance of a life she so adamantly tried to escape

Excerpt 1
I barely heard her parting words as the screen door slammed shut.  My head spun in desperation as the anger coursed through my bones.  “Get back in here Eviana!” she continued to scream at me.  “We are not finished with this conversation!” 
I was already racing down the deck stairs toward the sandy beach, kicking off my shoes and unbuttoning my blouse.  We are for now, I thought as my blood boiled with rage and resentment.  I was going to be trapped!  How dare they?  This was not the eighteenth century anymore!  I had rights
I stumbled onto the sand, taking just a brief moment to savor the warmth and the feeling of the grains massaging my toes.  My shirt came off and I started to unzip my jeans.  No one was around.  But I wouldn’t care anyway.  The water was calling me and it was the only voice that I could hear now.  With one pant leg off, I hopped along in my forward progression until the other one was free.  My oasis was so close now that I could taste the salt in the air.  The sun broke free of a cloud, stopping me for a moment.  It was late afternoon with sunset still a few hours away, but the sky had already turning multiple shades of pink and orange.  The coloration reminded me of the inside of a brilliant conch shell.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.  I knew there would be hell to pay when I returned to the house.  Marguerite, my mother, had tolerated my rebellious behavior when I was younger, giving me more freedom and second chances than anyone in our clan.  But apparently now, at seventeen, I was an adult.  Adult enough to bear children.  Adult enough to participate in clan gatherings.  Adult enough to navigate our youth through their transition period.  But not adult enough to choose who to love. 
A slight breeze wafted off the ocean, bringing with it scents that filled my gut with longing.  The freedom of the ocean.  Why couldn’t I just stay there forever?  A gull called overhead, beckoning me to join him.  The splashing waves calmed my inner rage as they ebbed and flowed in a hypnotic pattern.  A distant moan of a shipping vessel reminded me of our history.  I opened my eyes to see that I was standing alone along miles of sandy beach interlaced with large rocks and cliffs emblematic of the northern California coast.  So beautiful.  I stripped off the rest of my clothes and ran into the ocean.
As soon as I was under the water, I could feel the transition begin.  My lower body ached as the bones adjusted from a life on land to one at sea.  Both legs began to fuse together and work as one.  My foot bones elongated while I prepared for the agony.  I was accustomed to the changes now, but it was still a struggle of mind over matter.  Breaking through the surface of the water, I grabbed one last breath before the final jolt of pain ravaged through my body.  I bit my bottom lip and squeezed my eyes shut, willing the moment to be over.  At last I felt an electric tingle move from my hips to my toes as the hardened iridescent, scales appeared on my tail.  I opened my eyes to find that the internal transformation was complete as well.  My vision cleared.  My lungs expanded.  I could hear for miles.  I was free.
So I swam.  I swam away from the shore and the house that I lived in.  I swam away from my fears and obligations as though they could disappear with the distance.  I would temporarily forget my responsibilities, my duties, and the argument with my mother.  In here, I wasn’t trapped.  The sea was my true home.  I was a mermaid and this was my world. 

Excerpt 2
My swim home was too quick.  Lost in the elation of Brendan’s promise, I thought about what I could take with me when I left my home.  Maybe one suitcase and my iPod; we could always replace what we couldn’t carry.  Would we fly or drive?  Where would we go?  Brendan had promised to make all of the necessary arrangements soon, but I didn’t know if I could wait to hear his plan.
Night was nearly here and the silhouette of my house looked bleak and menacing.  When I reached our backyard stretch of beach, someone was waiting for me.  I sighed and picked up my scattered clothing without acknowledging my guest.
“You are in so much trouble this time,” a whiney, nasally voice taunted.
“Shut up, Marisol and mind your own business.”  I walked briskly back to the stairs, trying to ignore my sister, but she followed closely at my heels.
“I don’t understand what’s wrong with you.  This is what we were born to do and Kain is super rich and totally gorgeous.”  She tripped on one of the steps and stumbled into me.  I turned with a glare so evil that she stepped away.  “He doesn’t deserve you.”
The words were sharp but I knew that they rang true.  Kain didn’t deserve someone who couldn’t love him.  He was too good and too nice.  My sister was right, but that didn’t mean I had to let her know it.
“You don’t even know what you’re talking about Mars,” I snapped at her, using the childhood nickname she loathed.  “Just mind your own business for once and leave me alone!”
Stomping up the stairs was probably a mistake.  Although I managed to lose one nagging voice, two more were waiting for me at the top.  I looked into my parents eyes and could see their growing disappointment.  The dark wood deck wrapped entirely around the raised first floor of our house and was large enough to hold a hundred people.  But there were only two of them standing there now.  They leaned against the railing on the far side with my father holding my mother in front of him in a show of support and unity.  I rolled my eyes.
“Told you,” chirped Marisol as she dodged out of the way of my swinging hand.
“Eviana Anne Dumahl.  Do not strike your sister.”  My father’s harsh command sent chills through my body.  I really hated it when he was this mad at me.  “And put some clothes on.”
I was standing before them completely naked and soaking wet.  Succumbing to the grueling glares, I reluctantly pulled on my blouse using my arms to secure it to my body rather than button it up.
“Where did you go?” my father asked in a lighter tone.
Before I could answer, my mother cut in, “You were with him weren’t you?”  She pulled away from my father’s arms and walked toward me with determination.  Her long dark hair flowed around her perfectly smooth face.  The grace and confidence with which she moved still astounded me. 
Without looking into her eyes, I threw back my shoulders and stood my ground.  Anything to defy her.
She literally sniffed me.  Her nose moved around my neck, my hair, and even my hands.  There was no way that I could deny who I’d spent the last few hours with, and I wouldn’t try to anyway.
“I want to be with him.  Not Kain.”
My mother tsked at me in disgust and grabbed my face with her hands.  She was slightly shorter than me, but her domineering personality was still intimidating.  Plus she was squeezing my cheeks pretty hard. 
“You will not see that boy again, do you understand?  The Matthews have finally agreed to conduct this marriage and you will respect your duties and your family.  This is very important to our survival.  Can you even begin to comprehend what type of message your behavior is sending?”
I could see the frustration building in her eyes, and before I realized what was happening, my tears spilled over.  I pushed her hands away and turned to my father.
“Please, dad.  Please!  Don’t make me do this!”  I waved my arm back toward the house.  “Marisol would kill to have the chance to marry Kain and provide him children.  Why can’t she just do it?” 
“Oh Eviana, please don’t upset yourself like this.”  He glided over and wrapped me in an embrace.  His warm body and soothing voice kept offering false hope.
“Stop babying her, Charles,” my mother snapped.  “She is almost eighteen now.  It’s about time she started acting like it.” 
Marguerite, my mother and the Dumahl Clan leader, didn’t stop there.  “You and I had to endure our marriage when we were much younger than this.”  Turning toward me, she continued, “I became a leader when I was your age.  I survived.  Charles and I survived.  And so will you.  Stop acting like a spoiled brat and accept your responsibility!”
My mother walked away toward the deck’s edge to regain her composure and my father sighed.  I knew what was coming next. 
“Eviana, you must do as you are told.  Kain is a nice young man with a good family.  And from what I can see, he is already quite smitten with you.”
I sobbed out of control.  I really did hate to disappoint my father and even my mother sometimes.  But this is not the life I wanted.  I suddenly realized that I wasn’t crying because I’d have to marry Kain, I was crying because I knew that I had to run away.  There was no other choice at this point. 
Feigning total defeat, I pulled away and looked up at him.  His middle-aged face could pass for someone ten years younger, but the wrinkles around his eyes did little to hide his distress.  I’d probably been the cause of most of those lines.
“When is it?” I asked.
Both of my parents looked at me in shock.  They shared a glance between them, no doubt trying to figure out if this was a trick.  My mother replied hesitantly, “The first of the month.”

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Review of the First Book:
    Overall, it was pretty entertaining, essentially it was a solid read, even if there were intervals in the story of melodramatic romance that I thought was a little too excessive at times. Other than that, the prose was very lucid, and there really weren't too many dull moments in the story. Basically, I  would recommend it for being something that keeps your attention, and you might very well end up loving it. In conclusion, I thought it was a fairly engrossing read, and would love to read the sequels to see how the author builds upon the story-line introduced in the first novel. 

About the Author

Amber Garr spends her days conducting scientific experiments and wondering if her next door neighbor is secretly a vampire.  Born in Pennsylvania, she lives in Florida with her husband and their furry kids.  Her childhood imaginary friend was a witch, Halloween is sacred, and she is certain that she has a supernatural sense of smell.  She writes both adult and young adult urban fantasies and when not obsessing over the unknown, she can be found dancing, reading, or enjoying a good movie.


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Thursday, July 26, 2012

A.R. Wise's Deadlocked: Bewitching Book Tours

David was caught in the middle of the city when the zombie outbreak started. His wife and daughters were at home, stranded on the roof as zombies waited below. He would have to fight through hordes of undead, merciless other survivors, and a series of death defying stunts to get home. However, even if he makes it there, how can he be sure they're safe?

Deadlocked puts you into David's head as he struggles to get home. Then a final confrontation occurs that could guarantee his family's survival, but at what cost?


Currently available for free on all sites


A.R. Wise was born in Hammond, Indiana, just outside of Chicago. He's spent time in several states throughout the years but now resides in beautiful Colorado, near the Rocky Mountains. He is the proud father of two adorable, beautiful girls that inspire him everyday, and is married to an unreasonably understanding and loving wife. He has been writing since he was a child, but the ebook revolution is what finally convinced him to offer his work to the world. 

1.While I'm sure you get this conventional question all the time, what sparked the idea to write a zombie story?
I always wanted to be a writer, and have a thousand stories swirling in my head. The last thing I ever expected to do was write about zombies! A few things converged all at once that convinced me to start this series. First, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and I needed an outlet for my anger and frustration. Writing proved a cathartic exercise that allowed me to work through some of the emotions I was experiencing. Second, I was writing an article about zombie video games for a website and started thinking about what would make a perfect zombie plot. Third, a friend of mine and I were discussing how the media was overwhelmed with zombies lately, and how my friend was fed up with them. I told him that I could write a zombie story that he would like, and he dared me to try. Those three things led me to start the Deadlockedseries.

My original idea for the plot was realized in full with the release of book four, and I had planned on leaving the series behind at that point. However, while writing the fourth book, I started to conjure up some great ideas for a continuation of the series, but not in the conventional sense. I wanted to explore what the world might be like after a zombie apocalypse occurred. Book 5 of the Deadlocked series picks up twenty years after the end of book 4, and explores what this new world is like. It is the start of a brand new series, and I couldn't be more excited to explore this new setting!

2. I normally ask this of any author who wrote a zombie/vampire story. I'm sure you're aware that zombies are everywhere in popular culture. Do have any theory behind the resurgent popularity of both zombies and vampires?
In my opinion, it's because we're all fascinated (and terrified) of death. Human beings have the unique curse of being aware of our impending death, and can contemplate the meaning of it. Zombies are the living embodiment of our own creeping demise. They are us, as we will inevitably be. Their rotting faces, shrinking skin, and decaying flesh is what's in store for all of us. When we see a zombie, we're staring at our own future, and their insatiable desire to murder us is an allegory for our unavoidable death. To me, that's the secret behind their lure. In the first Deadlocked book, I wrote an Author's Note that explains how the zombies in the story represent cancer, and the main character's quest to reach his family is meant to relate to a husband's desire to make sure his family is safe and secure after learning he might die of the disease.

Vampires, on the other hand, are a different animal all together. If zombies represent our impending demise, then vampires represent a fantasy that we can escape it. No wonder we romanticized them! Becoming a vampire is akin to cheating death, but the cost is turning into a monster. The Paranormal Romance genre has allowed vampires to lose their evil nature, which is understandable. In those books, the dark and mysterious vampire doesn't just hold the secret to great sex, but also to everlasting life. However, I like my vampire tales to be dark explorations into how evil a person could become in order to cheat death. How far would you be willing to go to live forever, and how many other people would you be willing to hurt to avoid death? A vampire story without that element (forgive the pun) has lost its bite!

3. In the future, what other types of stories would you hypothetically like to write?
I'm currently putting together details for several new horror books. One new series is in the zombie genre, but has a more comedic tone than the Deadlocked series. The others are all unique stories, without any commonly used monster to latch onto. Zombies have proven a fantastic way for me to introduce myself to a large audience, and I'm hoping that once I delve into other types of stories, the readers will come along for the ride. 

Horror is a terrific genre that has been unfortunately maligned by a glut of second rate material. I have no qualms about being labeled a 'Horror Writer' and plan on exploring a lot more of what the genre has to offer. That being said, I've also always been a huge fan of fantasy. There is an epic tale that's been swirling in my head for twenty years, and one day I'll finally put pen to paper and get it out there.

For the time being, though, expect to see me doing my best to scare people!


     Due to the massive size of the post, I will downscale my review to a few terse sentences. First off, I mostly enjoyed what I read of Deadlocked,
 and found the writing both exhilarating and well-detailed. Some of the set-up for the zombie apocalypse was a bit reminiscent of other books, but there was clear evidence (at least from the first novel) that the author consciously tried to change things up a bit for the novel. Overall, I am eager to read the rest of the series, once the literary Gods help me clear my never-ending litany of "Books To Be Read." 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

News about Upcoming Reviews and Blog Features

   My blog has been on hiatus recently because I'm trying to prepare myself for next month's huge blog theme (the Anne Rice fan month). Also, I have not really been in the writing mood for the last two weeks. Hopefully, things will change next month. Essentially, I'll be reviewing titles that are similar to Anne Rice's stories, and these will hopefully hold people over till more details are divulged from Anne Rice herself about her next book.

   Before that though, here are some upcoming book reviews for the end of July (as part of  Bewitching Book Tours)
   Additionally, I might squeeze in one comic book review for tomorrow as well, since I have been very negligent of writing reviews for Comic Wednesdays!
 July 26th: Deadlocked

July 30th

While you're anxiously waiting for my verdict on either Discovery of Witches or Shadow of Night, check out this tour of Oxford! This wonderfully enchanting college is prominently featured in the earlier portions of the book. Also, you get to witness the author's credibility as a historian; she utilizes her skills as both a historian and writer  effectively within the All Soul's Trilogy (at least from what I've read of the first book thus far). (By the way, I forewarn you that the video might feature spoilers!)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mysterious Methods of Feeding your Anne Rice Obsession

Glimpse into August's Theme on A Bibliophile's Reverie
How difficult is it to abstain from pondering the deep philosophical questions posed in Anne Rice's novels, or dream of the opulent places brought to vivid life through Anne Rice's awesome prose? For the serious Anne Rice fan, it can be hard to find another book similar to hers that involves meticulous research, supernatural elements, and seemingly inimitable characters. For the next few weeks, I'll be reviewing several noteworthy titles that are similar to Anne Rice's book in both style and genre. Hopefully, these recommendations will help you endure the long drought period of no new Anne Rice-related books for the next several months. Who knows when the next Anne Rice novel will appear once again?

Books that might potentially be reviewed
UPDATE: For Discovery of Witches, I'm fairly certain that I'll be doing a discussion on how the book is a part of the growing trend of the domesticity of vampires: the strange fictional assimilation of vampires into our post-modern world. What does this connote? The book is taking a bit to get deeply invested in the story, but I'm eventually getting into it.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Stellar Comic Con-Related Contest

Click image above to read more details on how you can enter to win these items that truly are the substance of a biliophile's reverie!

   When you do not attend Comic-Con, this is how book publishers torture you. They feature contests that include so many awesome books, along with a genuine Wheel of Time back-pack. Some of the books featured here include some  of my favorite fantasy/science fiction books, such as Eye of the World,  Brandon Sanderson's Way of Kings, Ender's Game, and I am not a Serial Killer.

If you have any interest in entering a contest, leave a comment on TOR's blog post for this contest and detail what you are doing instead of being at Comic-Con.

    I highly doubt that I'll win this. This is just too good of a contest to overlook, and there'll be many entries for that very reason. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Cracked Heart

(Inspired by Evanescence's My Heart is Broken/ The Yellow Wallpaper)

During the pitch-black night,
I saw my soul brushing up
Desperately against the cavern of my heart
It surreptitiously slipped through the subtle slit

Of a heart I never knew seemed irreparably broken

I haven't cried for years
If I'd known it had a gash, wouldn't I have wept?
For injuries of such depth should
Horrendously harrow the whole of my heart

Is it the soul now that  lights up the 
Nightmarish Night
It was garish light
Appearing bravely in such bold blackness
Does it know the cure of a broken heart?

The rain falls melodramatically about me
Filling up the empty glass of my rib cage
I can hear someone splutter, was that my pained voice?
Seeking breath, discovering a long lost voice

As my soul rides the coattails of the
Stormy breath of wind

I see the opaque shadows of
Rails cast on yellow wallpaper

Sighing aloud, I leave the storm behind me
While the rain silently subsides
The resplendent light of my soul shines
On my broken heart in my hands- beating with unremitting life 

The Heart of a Wolf

(Inspired by Anne Rice's The Wolf Gift)

Can my heart slumber restfully here?
In this old house, filled with
Greater mysteries
Than cheap parlor tricks
Rather,The Smoke and mirrors
Adorning this museum of
Rich Gothic lore
Never fail to take my mortal breath away
Reminding me that a beast rests within me-
This decorous cage of a house

An older women serves as my guide
Leading me inwards to the
Long sought-after inner sanctum
It is the cavernous halls where the beast
First bore its claws
Many beasts like myself gather
Within this mead hall
Fashioned after the halls
Of a dastardly Danish hero
Heralding the honored title-Beowulf

Both the forest without and within
The Verdant decorations of this house
  Exude the memories
Of the disconsolate old women
Evince the mystery of the enigmatic owner
Only he knows the depths of the terror-stricken
Heart of a Newly formed Beast
Rampaging at my restive core

I've forgotten these formative days
Of Relentlessly agonizing over the
Moral Quandaries of this Werewolf existence
For a time, I  broodily reflected
On my murderous deeds
Paradoxically achieved for moral ends

Am I the eponymous hero
That the moral world heralds me as
Was Beowulf ever serene in the face of
Such Trying days spent as a questionable hero

I've rediscovered my heart though-
Beneath the thick bushels of my beastly fur
I am besotted with the reincarnation of the beloved old woman
Who inadvertently thrust this Mythic existence upon me
Without this woman, Dear God....
I wouldn't remember the charmed face of humanity

Deep within either the forest without
Or the labyrinthine halls within-
I wander in perpetuity
In a discomfiting
Fit of raging existential dread

Was there substance before the wolf gift?
Or has this prophetic gift of an enhanced existence
Given me greater appreciation for the
Sheer paradoxical breadth
Of the world within and without
The opulent world of Nideck Point

Review of DB Jackson's "Thieftaker"

Amazon(Kindle/Print Copy)
Barnes & Nobles (Nook/Print Copy)

Complimentary Copy Recieved via Netgalley, With Permission from Tor Fantasy
    Boston, 1767: In D.B. Jackson's Thieftaker, revolution is brewing as the British Crown imposes increasingly onerous taxes on the colonies, and intrigue swirls around firebrands like Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty. But for Ethan Kaille, a thieftaker who makes his living by conjuring spells that help him solve crimes, politics is for others…until he is asked to recover a necklace worn by the murdered daughter of a prominent family.

     Suddenly, he faces another conjurer of enormous power, someone unknown, who is part of a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of power in the turbulent colony. His adversary has already killed—and not for his own gain, but in the service of his powerful masters, people for whom others are mere pawns in a game of politics and power. Ethan is in way over his head, and he knows it. Already a man with a dark past, he can ill afford to fail, lest his livelihood be forfeit. But he can't stop now, for his magic has marked him, so he must fight the odds, even though he seems hopelessly overmatched, his doom seeming certain at the spectral hands of one he cannot even see.


Oftentimes, I feel like I've developed a terrible discrimination towards fantasy books that are part of a series that spans upwards of ten books; each of these books are comprised of an overwhelming tally of 700 to 800 pages. Furthermore, each of these books contain characters with dense backgrounds filled with expository details that are very hard to retain. While I really loved the first two Wheel of Time  books, my interest for the series began to wane once I started recognizing signs of the  over-extension of the series' plot. Much like with the ever-popular Song of Ice and Fire  booksthe reader will be forced to read through nearly 1000 pages of a book just to see marginal evolution of the plot. I don't bother criticizing these series though too much because I really understand their appeal for many readers. For me, I harbor my own personal prejudices towards these series; I just happen to love books where I can become deeply vested in the lives of a handful of well-developed characters, rather than a nauseating myriad number of them scrambling for remembrance.

   Surprisingly, I really enjoyed DB Jackson's Thieftaker because of its brisk pacing, concise plotting,and very well-structured characters. Additionally, the setting of Boston, during the early stages of the revolutionary war, provides a breathtaking sense of realism in the series, even though the stories involves magicians and other supernatural features. Much like one of my favorite series, Buffy the Vampire Series,the magic system and elements of the fantastic universe that DB Jackson constructs seamlessly imbue the historical setting with a rich aura of mystery. Furthermore, the action sequences are highly stylized and truly exciting. They reminded me of another favorite fantasy series of mine, the Shadow Son series by Jon Sprunk, which also contained highly cinematic action sequences that were not too overstimulating. Within some fantasy series, the battle sequences are too bombastic and overweeningly detailed to the extent where they sicken me or they just became paradoxically boring. It is quite possible to make action sequences boring ala Michael Bay and his overuse of uninspired CGI effects. Combined with an excessive tally of characters, along with these exceedingly detailed action sequences, it is no wonder that I often fear reading fantasy books. At the same time, the authors who are able to effectively win me over, like Ursula K.Le Guin,Jon Sprunk, Maria V. Snyder, and others do so in a very effective manner. b

   After reading Thieftaker, I realized that my prejudices towards fantasy books all due to certain verbose culprits are unwarranted. This book is the antithesis to my stigma about epic fantasy series, and I really cannot wait to continue reading. Far more than the fascinating historical detail of the story, the characters of Thieftaker themselves are intrinsically interesting and their mystery is slowly revealed throughout the course of the first novel, even the past life of the main character ,Ethan Kaille, still remains a mystery to  the reader at the end of the novel. This slow, but wholly effective development of each of these characters provides a certain element of suspense that keeps reading. Moreover, the delicate balance of historical details and action are carefully administered in the story to further help the reader invest interest in the story. All the elements that could have become easily overwrought and dull instead constantly reels the reader's interest back into this very intriguing story.

  For any fantasy readers seeking out something less ponderous, and thrilling, yet substantive, I highly recommend this book. This is the type of fantasy book that will make remember how much fun reading can be. While I read this book, I found myself lounging outside with a really good beer. Its just that type of book with just the right combination of high-octane action, interesting characters, rich historical detail, and magic to make it the perfect summer read, or really a book that can be read anytime of the year (Summer Read is too limiting of a label.).

Links of Interest:
D.B Jackson's Blog
D.B. Jackson's Twitter
D.B. Jackson's Facebook Page
D.B. Jackson's Website
Interview with DB Jackson (Posted Earlier on my Blog)
Upcoming Book Signing in the Philly area  July 14 (Saturday) 4:00 pm -- Signing at Between Books, Claymont, Delaware.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mementos of the Enigmatic Circus

(A Poem Inspired by Erin Morgenstern's Night Circus)

Does my love take root in this carnival of dreams?
A delicious aroma of caramel apples
Wafts through the dark interior of the circus
Soon enough, the circus will shine in resplendent light
In the shadows off to the side, I'll watch
The circus' many extravagances with unwavering curiosity

Will the high excitement of the circus carry me off to Midnight Parties?
Or will I be swept off my feet to the next circus by
Fervid devotees wearing snug red scarves
Something about this circus enthralls me
It seems so sacrosanct, yet it boasts no religious overtones
The essence of this darkly illuminated circus though
Makes my mind transcend in a mystical fashion

If I could, would I  allow the unseen master of the circus
To  orchestrate  my  ultimate fate
Or could I have autonomy in this  wild, fleeting dream
Being a martyr for the circus is a high order
At the same time, my mind might plumb the deepest mysteries
Lying in the dark recesses of this enigmatic circus

This circus's ineluctable charm
Undeniably invigorates my unseen spirit
Impels me to savor the charms of the world
When this intoxicating vision comes to cessation,
Will Prospero revitalize our weary hearts, and
Help us carry some memento of the cherished night circus
Within the empty vacuum of our beating hearts
Still feeling the aftershocks of the
Exhilarating vision dolefully dissipating  before us

The Delusional Magic of Poetry

Here I am starved, disadvantaged.
You elitist-Are you happy now?
Telling me to live life to the fullest?
With your smug expression,
You say that you are undaunted by death

I know science-
The stars are my guide
Sometimes, they artfully arrange themselves
As personages of larger than life heroes
Giving me more promise than your verbose theories

You disprove of my imagination,
How dare you mock the symbolic "God" of my dreams?
Who are you to insinuate that I'm somehow
At an evolutionary disadvantage
You say I'm arrogant for dreaming, you're arrogant
For insisting that  every sad person on this Earth
Disowns the fabric of their spiritual imagination

Poetry clothes me with illusory visions
Stories uplift me, when I feel hunger pangs
Some "God" lifts me up, Prayer gives me hope for food
Why aren't you granting me food, you logical charlatan?
You chide me for illogical dreams and yet leave me to suffer

Envisage my sallow body like one atom amongst many
Except, we aren't unfeeling.
Each of these innumerable atoms are
Weighed with grief, paradox
How can you reduce me to a tragic accident?

Maybe, my dreams are just the means to survive
Perhaps, my genes have consigned me to this fate
Who cares if my tears are triggered by my animated mind?
Do you not see the heavy burden that belies these stoic explanations?
Do my cries, among millions, fall on deaf, scientific ears?

Science isn't everything, its a fascinating thing
You have manipulated into a weapon for the elite
Cast shadows over more people who are not just-
Economically disadvantaged, but genetically restrained as well
To you, we're nothing but the thoughtless accident of a
Universe with a pronounced identity crisis

Will you not remember the "heart" beyond the arteries?
Or the mind beyond the brain's hemispheres?
Why is science so reductive to you?
How can't it bolster our curiosity?
Does it have to be termed with solemn certitude?

What is the substance of this poem?
Is the chemical composition of my paper, my pen
Substandard to the emotive power that the words imply
Or the greater nuance our minds glean
Poetry and pain are one in the same
They're one great, substantive delusion of the mortal mind
Yet their intensity can never be reduced or forgotten

Mechanized Wife


Why the hell are your implying eternity with just one kiss?

Marriage is for the tenacious warrior

Not for the dreamers who demonize soulful solitude

The thought of waking up with you every morning

Sickens me to my very core

There is nothing more odious than being chained to children

I'm the one with the seemingly endless birthing pangs.

What pain must you endure-

My unendurable temper- you impetuous oaf

What would you bring into this love?

I've cut my heart out

Extricated my individual aspirations

If I am impregnated, I'm imbued with purpose

I am further bound to this loveless marriage

One kiss, one wedding; seemingly endless imprisonment

God ordained you as the "head" of the house

Were mental faculties implied with that reference?

Or were you thinking of something less honorable?

There's nothing cerebral about you or this legal arrangement

I labor away my spirit by being religiously bound to you

Beyond the solemn, cold temple of holy matrimony

There are other temples

Filled to the brim with headless males

Unfortunately wedded to spineless females

Without this forced sanction, we weren't so quarrelsome

My silent prison remains "our house of God"

Of course, its really your dominion alone

Wasn't it you who've always been God?

Binding me to this sanctified prison

Seeing nothing in me but an inept vessel

Without children, I have no purpose

With children, I'm further sacrificing

Every vestige of those dreams I once had

My soul ached for purposeful work

I must dutifully stay silent in your temple

As the children age, I wither away

Did I ever even love you?

Can real love involve my whole self?

Or is my personal integrity

Superseded by antiquated superstitions

Vaguely, beyond the cobwebs of my mind

I think I remembered loving sex

No, I am only having hallucinations again

Too much dust collecting in our house

Is my own internal soul not even my home no more?

I'm reproached to stay silent forevermore-

Attending to the children in agonizing perpetuity

Its the cruel cycle of being only cherished for utility

I'm a mechanized wife, the sole woman of your lustful prayers

To "God," to your over-sized ego,

St. Paul was your luminary

Spiritually goading me to remain in holy silence

You are the mind that mechanized me

Turning my heart into an unfeeling iron cage

That has the heartbeat like a harsh, painful grind

My assets-every private part of me

All belongs to both you and your "God"

I have no will, but your own and God's

The whippings are paradoxically pleasurable now

Ever since resigning every last humane part of me

If I could truly love beyond these rigid commandments

Weirdly enough, I still pray to a private lover

Am I a heathen, trying to restore my lost soul?

Was I always this tinkering, thoughtless machine

Forever bound to your large temple

What God loves me, Who loves me?

Is love just an operative term?

Utilized to control my every move

When I waste away,

Will I then rediscover my soul?