Book Reviews – Emeline & the Mutants / The Ring of Lost Souls

Well, I have a double whammy for you today – not one but two reviews!

I’ve recently read both of Rachel Tsoumbakos’s books back-to-back. Here’s what I thought of them:

Emeline And The Mutants

EATM

I’d heard some good things about this book and had wanted to read it for a while – I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed.

It did take me a few pages to really get into this; the meticulous world building at the beginning read like a bit of an info-dump yet the author managed to keep my interest. Once I read past this, I was engrossed.

Emeline is feisty, independent and doesn’t take crap from anyone. She’s also a crack shot with both gun and bow and has a very keen sense of smell. With the exception of her brother, Warwick, all her family are dead, so when he’s murdered in their kitchen her world turns upside down.

I loved Emeline’s character. She is very well crafted as a sort of urban warrior who’s in the Australian bush. Her hardened exterior makes her a little aloof from people around her yet it’s understandable with all she’s been through. It was nice to see her vulnerable side emerge as a result of Warwick’s murder and endearing the way she grows to really care about Gwennie (Warwick’s girlfriend). When she sets out to discover why her brother was killed, Emeline has to dig deep in an effort to piece everything together whilst coping with her grief. What she uncovers shakes her foundations, especially when someone she trusts turns out to be the biggest villain of them all.

The supporting cast are equally as well drawn. Gwennie grows on you as she becomes Emeline’s companion; she has a gritty determination which blends well with her softer and more caring side. This makes her a perfect sidekick for Emeline. Milosh, the charismatic, caring and handsome leader is not all he seems and as the author’s skilled hand reveals his ‘alter ego’, we see a deliciously cold, power-driven, murderous individual who doesn’t care how many lives are lost (including that of his own brother) as long as he can continue down his chosen path. Besnik (Milosh’s brother) is a little difficult to puzzle out at first – can he be trusted or not? It is a testament to Tsoumbakos’s characterisation that she keeps you guessing as to his true intentions for a while.

The plot is well thought out and scarily believable. Tsoumbakos portrays the mutants and how they came into being in a plausible manner and the story races along at quite a pace. At the end I had a few unanswered questions, leading me to wonder whether a second book was being considered. However, there was enough closure for this to be a standalone novel and a damn good one at that. One of the things I liked most was the originality; this book is a blend of genres which work really well.

My only criticism of this very enjoyable read was the number of mistakes I found which should have been noticed and corrected prior to publication. This didn’t really spoil my reading pleasure, but did lose it one star.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this!

The Ring of Lost Souls

TROLS

This second novel by Rachel Tsoumbakos is an exciting blend of fantasy, paranormal and suspense.

Isobel, the main character, is starting to get her life back together after a painful break-up with her boyfriend and losing her job. She takes up jogging, and what she finds in the grounds of an abandoned mental facility radically changes her life.

Isobel has been well-crafted. She’s strong and determined, but also vulnerable and to a degree, a little too trusting – at first. The way she deals with events are totally realistic and readers can share her burgeoning love, fear, distrust and puzzlement as things unfold. This woman could have done with a little more laughter in her life, but it wasn’t the path she was meant to tread, so you never feel that it’s missing from the story. That, to me, is the sign of a good writer.

The supporting characters were also well written, especially Lottie. She’s quite mysterious and it’s not until the end you find out who she really is and what’s on her agenda.

The setting, Larundel, actually exists. The former mental hospital, as it’s depicted in the book, is a broken down building covered in graffiti, which is slowly being reclaimed by the flora and fauna surrounding it. It’s been plundered for most of its valuable assets and now resembles a bomb site with rubble, abandoned furniture and general rubbish left around to trip up the unwary. As Tsoumbakos takes you through the halls, wards and various rooms, you get a real sense of how it looks. It’s so well depicted you can easily picture it in your mind.

I loved the blending of genres in this book and the author builds the suspense in an artful way. Many a night I read into the wee small hours, because I just had to find out what was coming next. The fantasy and paranormal side is believable and put together in an interesting concept – one that I really enjoyed.

If there was one thing I didn’t like about this book, it was the number of missing words. However, putting that aside, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this – it’s a fantastic read!

So there you have it. Rachel Tsoumbakos sure knows how to spin a tale and keep a reader entertained. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next! If you want to find out more, or better yet get a copy for yourself, click on the titles for links to Amazon.

Rachel

The lovely Rachel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Sexy & The Undead

***** NEW RELEASE ALERT *****

As most of you already know, anything paranormal floats my boat – especially books – so when I saw the first book in a new paranormal series had been launched recently, I just had to check it out.

I’ve read a couple of Charity Parkerson’s books and really enjoyed them; her latest book, The Sexy & The Undead, sounds rather intriguing (and I’ve now started to read it!).

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image11177254

Here’s the blurb:

A potion gone wrong, or right?

Single, unemployed, and in charge of her very own pet zombie, Ella Perry is cooking up trouble, and it’s raining men. 

Ella has spent years searching for a cure for a zombie named Freddie. However, when an experimental concoction takes an unexpected turn, she gets a glimpse of the life she’s been missing by hanging out with the undead. 

Zombies, Angels, and Pixies. Oh my! Don’t miss out on the first book in the new “Sexy Witches” series by Bestselling Author Charity Parkerson.

Now, never one to be seen as a shrinking violet, I contacted Charity and twisted her arm for a little excerpt to share with you – I love the section she picked!

“This place flipping sucks,” Tam said, using her whiniest voice.

She didn’t get to visit with her friend, Lena, very often since she lived amongst the humans, and Tam was stuck living in the Hall of the Gods. She was taking full advantage of the rare social call by laying all her problems on the Seer as thick as possible. “I mean, look around,” she added, gearing up for a full rant. “There’s not one man in this joint I’d be willing to sleep with.”

Lena’s bright pink hair, which stood out in a spike above her head, tilted from side to side as she did as Tam ordered. Her eyes widened, showing her confusion.

“Are you insane?”

Disbelief laced her words. Lifting one beautifully manicured finger, she pointed out a blond angel that was guarding a nearby door. “What about that one?” Before Tam could answer, Lena added, “or that one?”

Tam didn’t bother glancing in the redhead’s direction. She knew without looking that both men wore matching black kilts and nothing else. Their golden muscular bodies were a common sight in the Heavens.

“Bloody freaking hell, Lena. All these guys are three feet taller than me. What am I supposed to do with them, I ask you? Their,” she made a swirling gesture with her index finger, searching for the right term. “Pricks. Yes,” she said with a nod, deciding that she liked that word. “They are probably the size of my leg. I’d be killed.”

A snort of laughter escaped Lena, but she covered her mouth as if attempting to hold it in. Tam’s nerve endings lit up at the sound. Most people believe that chanting their belief in fairies will cause one to grow strong, but in truth laughter was the key to pixie power. A day with Lena was equivalent to a day at the spa for Tam. Not only was Lena the clumsiest immortal in all the realms, she was also a regular hoot.

Feeling encouraged, she grew even more outrageous. “Take that one, for example.” Tam nodded toward a dark-haired angel that stood a few inches taller than the rest. “Notice that his kilt falls to his shins instead of his knees,” she pointed out.

Lena nodded. “I did think that was odd, but then again, what isn’t here?”

It was Tam’s turn to snort. “Well, his is not a fashion statement. I heard that he tried wearing the standard uniform when he first arrived, but everyone got sick of seeing that huge one-eyed monster slapping his kneecaps every step that he took. Mistress Katrina finally made him wear a longer one.”

 Lena openly gawked at the man in question. Leaning over in her chair, she tried to peek under his pleat before losing her balance and almost landing on her face.

Catching her stare, the man began to inch the plaid upward as if fully prepared to relieve Lena’s curiosity.

“Thomas!” Tam cried, admonishing the wicked angel.

With a wink in Lena’s direction, he turned away, but Lena didn’t look the least bit ashamed as she attempted to right herself.

“Too bad,” she sighed. “I’ve never seen a knee-slapping monster before. Why don’t you just leave?”

Wasn’t that the million-dollar question? Tam’s wings drooped, mimicking her inner deflation. “I want a normal man,” she confessed to Lena. “An ordinary man who won’t squash my twat,” she added miserably.

I have to say, this made me chuckle! Thanks so much, Charity, for allowing me to share this with my followers.

If you’re now desperate to get your hands on this great book, here are the buy links:

Amazon (US)

Amazon (UK)

I can’t believe any of my wonderful and enlightened followers don’t know Charity (or know of her, at least), but just in case . . .

Charity P

Charity Parkerson was born in Tennessee, where she still lives with her husband and two sons.  She is the author of several books including thirteen Amazon bestsellers. You can like her at : http://www.facebook.com/authorCharityParkerson. Be sure to visit her at http://www.charityparkerson.com  and you can read her blog at http://charity-thesinners.blogspot.com

Her “Sinners series” was voted one of the top ten best books by an Indie author in 2011- Paranormal Romance Reads

Her book “The Danger with Sinners” was named “Best Book of 2012” by Paranormal Reads Reviews and was a finalist in the 2012 Australian Romance Reader’s Awards for Favorite Paranormal Romance.

She was named as one of the top three Indie authors of 2012- EbookBuilders

She is a member of The Paranormal Romance Guild, is a Goodreads moderator, a member of Coffee Time Romance, and co-host of The Melissa Craig and Charity Parkerson show.

She won author of the week in August of 2011, and is a five-time winner of The Mistress of the Darkpath.

You can follow her on Twitter @https://twitter.com/CharityParkerso

Additional Links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

Punk & Sissy Publications

Well, what are you waiting for people? Get clicking!! 🙂

#AprilPrompts Day 22 – Night

As this is the last post in the #AprilPrompts series, I decided to base this tale on my favourite paranormal creatures. Sorry, but there’s no prizes for guessing what they are!

Night

Night

Night

The newborn crept from the cellar. As she emerged into the night for the first time since her transformation, she gazed around in awe.

The sky blended hues of deep violet, midnight blue and plum, more exquisite than any artist’s pallet could replicate. Diamonds the size of a man’s fist sparkled overhead, backlit by a huge pearlescent orb.

She became aware of her heightened senses. Sounds which were merely background noise before, now almost deafened her. Crickets sounding like buzz saws, bats flapping their wings, hooting owls competed with car horns, voices laughing and shouting, a cacophony assaulting her ears.

As she wandered down the street, she could smell discarded fast food wrappers, exhaust fumes, beer, sweat, and the sweetest fragrance of all – blood.

Thirst drove her on, further into town where her food supply would be plentiful. Instinctively keeping to the shadows, she scrutinised the area. Secreted down an alley between two shops, the immortal waited. Within minutes, a middle-aged man staggered up the alley from behind and her bloodlust rose. As soon as he drew level, she pounced; sinking her fangs into his neck, she savoured the delicious fluid which slaked her thirst. Rapidly his heart ceased and she dropped him where he stood.

The vampire returned to the street, licking her lips. The night was now her friend.

vamp

 

Self-Marketing My Way

The third post to appear on the Heart Search Blog Tour was hosted by the lovely Maree Ward-Russell in New Zealand, home to the film sets of the fantastic Lord of the Rings films (among others, of course, but this series is probably the most famous one filmed in that lovely part of the world). Maree asked me to write about marketing tips and this is what I came up with.

Being an Indie published author means you have to do all your own marketing, right from day one and it’s a daunting task if you’ve never done anything like it before. Although I’ve done a great deal of marketing in my day jobs, marketing yourself online is a whole different story. However, some of the same general rules apply, which are:

1.         Word of mouth / recommendations are the best form of advertising

2.         All consumers (and books/e-books are no different) consciously or subconsciously have one thing in their minds when they see advertising – “what’s in it for me?”

3.         You need to create demand for your product

I’m going to start off with number three first (just to be different) as it’s what I’ve been trying to do for the last couple of months.

I’ve been talking about Heart Search a great deal on Twitter, Facebook and my blog. I’ve also had some really cheap but good quality postcards printed with the book cover on one side and on the reverse are the book blurb and my contact details. These have been handed to people during conversations – as soon as I find out they like to read they get the card shoved in their hands. Even during a recent trip to the hospital, I got chatting to some of the staff and ended up handing out about six cards and one said they would pin it on the staff notice board.

Secondly, I’ve been leaking teasers in advance of the book launch. About three or four weeks prior I revealed the cover and blurb and publicized it and two weeks before I revealed the book trailer, making sure I created anticipation with teasing blog posts leading up to it. But I haven’t done this alone. I decided, the best way to get a buzz going and get people to know about and talk about my book was to run a Blog Tour. I did this well in advance so the people who signed up could also participate in the pre-launch unveilings too.

Obviously, the more people who sign up, the more the word spreads and the more people get to hear about it. The majority of those who signed up for the tour, have also revealed the cover and trailer on their sites/blogs, and publicised it through social media channels. Now if we stop for a moment and think of reach, just from Twitter, let’s assume for a moment that every person who is on the blog tour has 1,000+ followers and there are twenty people of the tour, straight away you’ve reached twenty thousand people. Now if ten per cent of those twenty thousand retweeted the post(s), that has reached the followers of another two thousand people and so the cobweb or network grows of people who now know my book exists.

During the blog tour which is running from 8-31 October, there will be a minimum of two and a maximum of four different blog posts appearing every single day throughout the tour; reviews (which will be posted to Amazon and Goodreads as well), interviews, excerpts and guest posts like this one, plus a giveaway (and everyone loves to get something for nothing! Yes I’ve had to spend some money to put the giveaway together, but I believe it’s money well spent, especially if it has the desired effect of bringing my book to the attention of more people). Each posted blog item will be publicised and so the cobweb/network grows again.

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Okay, let’s now look at number one – Word of Mouth/Recommendations. This is something I have little control over. If people love my book, they will tweet about it or share it on Facebook/other social media platforms and they will tell their friends. Hopefully, this will result in more sales. What I can do is use social media platforms to publicise good reviews. If someone gives me a five star review, you can bet I’ll be sharing it on all my social media sites and the more I get the more I’m going to share it. I’ll be taking a key phrase from a review which showcases the book at its best and tell everyone what this reviewer said – after all, a five star review is a recommendation and I have to capitalise on it!

If I get messages from people saying how much they enjoyed my book, I’m going to ask them politely if they would recommend it to their friends and maybe even write a review. A review doesn’t have to be 200 words long; it can be one or two sentences just saying something like “I loved this book and would recommend it to everyone” and ask them to give me a star rating. If you don’t ask, you don’t get, right?

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Right, now let’s look at number two, which in some ways is the hardest. Everyone has different expectations from a book; some like lots of suspense, others like twists and turns, and some like lots of description so they can connect with the characters and scene. I have no way of knowing what people’s expectations are, what drives them toward a particular book so again reviews play a part in this. A well-written review is worth its weight in gold as it will usually say whether they loved the suspense/twists and turns/description, so by taking those phrases and publicising them, I’m going to be meeting the needs of those people who look for that particular characteristic.

The rest of this one is guesswork. I’m going to be picking out key sentences or phrases from the book which will address the main needs of the consumer and publicising them. I’ll be mixing them up so one day I’ll pick something descriptive, another day a little suspense and so on. One of those is going to strike a chord with someone who’ll be interested enough to want to look at the book blurb and then you have a potential sale.

*

I think networking plays a large part in getting your name and your book out to a wider audience. I have joined groups who are only interested in Fantasy and Paranormal. I’m making friends within those groups and publicising my book with them. Lo and behold, I begin to create another set of cobwebs within each group, just like with the Blog Tour.

I also think making myself accessible to my readership is very important. I will never turn away or ignore a reader who takes the time to contact me. If they’ve had enough faith in me to spend their hard-earned cash buying my book, the very least I can do is give them some of my time in return. In fact I’m seriously considering setting up a page on my website for that very purpose.

Finally, I will be running a few special offers and doing a little bit of advertising on those sites where I feel I’m going to get maximum exposure without it breaking the bank!

This ‘list’ is not exhaustive and I’m sure I’ll learn more as I progress, but I happen to think it’s a damn good place to start.

What are your thoughts on marketing? Have you got any marketing tips you’d like to share?

Guest Post from Mia Hoddell

I’ve got a treat for you today! I’m delighted to introduce a very talented author who has two books published and has kindly written a post for us about her writing and influences.

Drumroll please, for the lovely Mia Hoddell . . .

Mia Hoddell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi everyone! Here’s a little about me, my writing and influences.

During high school English lessons my teacher used to make us review a different book we had read every month. However because I was never interested in reading/writing until 2009, I used to make up my own books, which I got away with for a while (probably should have followed the hint then). Up until this point I was more interested in sports and art, and originally wanted to be an artist. Later on though, I discovered some books by Julia Golding which really interested me so from then on I have developed a love of both reading and writing.

I began writing short stories that all included paranormal aspects. My first one was about a WW1 soldiers who died in battle then returned as a lost soul and was forced to walk the battlefield for eternity. I love anything paranormal so my ideas and writing generally includes some aspects of this or fit into the paranormal genre. This may change in the future, but for now the ideas in my head (about nine of them) are all paranormal.

The short story I had written about the WW1 soldier helped me to develop the main theme of The Wanderers Trilogy. Also a song on youtube (SomewhereNowhere – Cinephile) helped generate the images for the first scene in The Sheol. I started writing about the clear image I had in my head of a woman wearing black and standing on the edge of a cliff while the sun set. And from there the story slowly developed. I hadn’t really thought it through up until that point though; all I knew was I wanted a strong female lead and something to do with lost souls.

Once I had finally planned the whole trilogy, I had no trouble finding suitable names for most of my characters. For Kala, I looked up names with the meaning “darkness,” to fit in with the dark paranormal romance theme, and after looking at a few websites, Kala seemed perfect. After that most of the other names seemed to fall in place; all but Nachtmahr’s anyway. I had written the whole book before finding him a name, just using a few dashes instead (something I later regretted when I had to go back and edit it all). I spent three days trying to find a suitable name for him before finally settling on Nachtmahr – meaning nightmare in German. I’m very picky with names and if I have the slightest doubt, I will not use it, even if it does take me days to find a replacement.

I wrote during my summer holidays and would stay up until 4am writing, just losing myself in the story. However, by the time I reached chapter 6, I had run out of holiday and was stuck with a heavy work load so my writing was put on hold for two years. I was finally able to get back to my novel though as I was desperate to finish it and made my writing my priority. I spent 4hours minimum writing everyday and within two weeks I had finished The Sheol.

For me the task of writing the book seemed easier than inventing a title at this point; and there was also the editing. I originally settled on ‘Earthbound’ but it didn’t seem right so I decided to keep it simple and use the main dark supernatural force ‘The Sheol’ (meaning a place where the dead congregate) as the title. After this, three painful months were spent editing before I shot photos for the cover and uploaded my first book to Amazon. From there on the sequels to The Wanderer Trilogy have been created and I have more ideas I am working on, all from different influences; some real life and some from dreams.

Thank you, Mia, for sharing this with us.

For more information about Mia and her books, keep scrolling down!

The Sheol – the first book in The Wanderer Trilogy.

Being a trained killer, Kala can handle most things the world throws at her. However, when she murders her fiancé, Kala’s life is thrown into chaos. Forced to leave everything behind, she runs from city to city, in fear of her psychotic boss who is seeking her death. If that wasn’t enough, she also has to cope with the re-appearance of her dead fiancé who is struggling to keep a hold on his sanity as he strives for revenge.

Book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROCvv4FqfCQ

The Flawless – the second book in The Wanderer Trilogy.

A battle is going to arise soon; The Sheol and The Flawless will come together but only one can survive to continue their manipulation of humankind. The Wanderers have to decide whether to summon the courage to fight so they can save themselves from eternal unrest or whether they like being lost, immortal souls. Nachtmahr is upgrading his Sturmmen to create more ruthless and efficient killers due to interference from The Sheol, while Kala is becoming darker; her rage consuming her as she strives to fulfill her own personal mission…Kill Nachtmahr.

LINKS:

Website/blog: http://miahoddell.blogspot.co.uk

Facebook page:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mia-Hoddell-Author/421368247889610?ref=hl

Twitter: @MiaHoddell – https://twitter.com/MiaHoddell

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=mia+hoddell

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=mia+hoddell

Also available at Barnes & Nobel and iBooks

Print Books available at Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/shop/mia-hoddell/the-sheol-the-wanderer-trilogy-1/paperback/product-20365466.html