Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Heartblaze 2: Savage Steel by Shay Roberts...a review

If you were worried that author Shay Roberts might have fallen into a “sophomore slump” with this second book in the Heartblaze trilogy, worry no more. This book is a delight in every way, with deeper conflicts, richer emotions, and relationships that are layered and nuanced. He’s even deftly woven in references to the three novellas set in the Heartblaze world, a move that makes his fictional universe seem even more complex and interesting than it already was. As with the first book, the story unfolds in two different time frames—modern-day Providence and Tudor England—and involves heroine Emma Rue in a story that has epic consequences. Rowan, the mad witch behind Emma’s troubles in the first book, returns with an entire coven of witchly allies, and her tale weaves in and out of Emma’s story like a dark ribbon. Written in an almost cinematic style full of character cross-cutting and cliffhangers, this book is a fast read and a deeply satisfying addition to the series.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Picnic by the Lake of Time

Tor.com put out a call for novella-length stories about time travel this month and I desperately wanted to submit something. I love time travel stories and this "story bunny" has been drifting around for years. But as I started writing the story, I realized that it was just a story--that it had a finite beginnin and a finite ending and there was no way I could stretch the story out to 20K novella length.

At the same time, I saw this cover on Book Cover Designer and realized it would be a perfect cover for the story. And though I'm really, really trying to increase my output of longer work, I decided that sometimes a story is just a story. So by the Fourth of July, I'll have Picnic by the Lake of Time out in the world. The cover was designed by Ntasja Hellenthal of Beyond Book Covers. Find her here.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Butterly Bones by Savanna Redman, a review



Amanda thinks her life is fine—or at least as fine as it can be when she’s not following her dream of being an artist and is instead advising clients on what to do with their money. She thinks that that her life is fine except that she can’t seem to make her husband happy, and on top of that…she’s having premonition dreams. Her life is fine but she doesn’t have those dreams unless her life is a mess. And soon enough, real life catches up with her dreams.

BUTTERFLY BONES is a terrific novel about dreams, both literal and metaphorical. It is about a complicated woman living a complicated life. The genre straddles the line between chick lit and lit fic with a dash of paranormal thrown in and Savanna Redman makes it all work because her writing is just that good.

For one thing, from the opening page as Amanda experiences a lucid dream, we’re thrown into a multi-sensory world, seeing the shadow of black branches against a violet sky, hearing the buzz of insects, smelling the scent of honeysuckle, feeling the chill of cold dew om our bare feet. And from the first pages we also know that Savanna may long for a normal life but she is ANYTHING but normal.

A Shakespeare Mystery

This si the first in a series so if it's good, there are a few more where it came from. I look forward to reading this book and am also recommending it to my mystrey book club.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Another Cover Reveal!

Over at the Book Cover Designer, they're' going into their last week of a fabulous 20 percent off sale. (A new coupon will generate tonight at midnight PDT.) I've bought a number of covers for upcoming projects  and still have a pretty long "wish list."

I always try to steer my indie author clients toward BCD because they have a wide range of designers who offer covers for as low as $20. (They also have a few that are inexplicably in the $300 price range without, IMHO being worth it, but eye of the beholder and so forth.)

Later this year I have a whole series of novelettes coming out that are basically retellings of Shakespeare tales with a romantic/gothic gloss. Island of Magic (Tempest meets Beauty and the Beast), Cry, Little Sister (Hamlet), and two as-yet-untitled stories based on Othello and Macbeth.

This is the cover for Cry, Little Sister, my retelling of Hamlet from Ophelia's point of view. I liked the cover because I haven't seen the model, who is lovely, all over the stock photo libraries. The cover was designed by Serena Daphn.

Shakespeare Sunday quote

I've said before that the Taming of the Shrew is not my favorite Shakespeare play. And I was not much of a huge fan of the Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles version (10 Things I Hate About You) either. But I started thinking about it and realized that in many ways, the character of Petruchio was an outlier, a template for any number of "alpha-hole" romance novel heroes who are just nasty to the women who eventually come to love them. Sigh.  It's all Will's fault!

Here's a Sunday quote from the play.

Friday, June 24, 2016

A retelling of Swan Lake

I admit this book caught my eye when it came up in the "also boughts" section for Bride of the Midnight King. I'm always interested in fairy tale retellings, and especially interested when writers venture away from the same three or four stories that get told over and over. (Beauty and the Beast, I'm looking at you!)

I've never actually seen Swan Lake performend; probably the closest is watching Black Swan, but the story really does have all the elements. This one goes on the TBR pile.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Another for the TBR list: Wake of Vultures

I don't usually read reviews when I'm deciding to read a book or not. Reviews are subjective and I know there are lots of books that I've loved that have not sold well. And I was not a big fan of Gone Girl, even though the book has thousands of reviews.

But I was reading a review of a friend's book and curious about the reviewer. This book came up in his "reviewed list" and he was SO enthusiastic about the urban fantasy that I have to check out Wake of Vultures.

TBR: Flicker

This looks like a fun urban fantasy with fae instead of the usual werewolves and vampires. (Even though I write about vampires, I'm pretty tired of the same old same old.)

Freebie Fiction: Spite

My historic, horrific take on "Sleeping Beauty" is free right now. Get your copy of Spite, a longish short story.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Guest Post: Patricia Abbott



 Novelist Patricia Abbott, whose debut novel Concrete Angel is a nominee for the 2016 Macavity Award for Best First Mystery, discusses some of the thorny issues facing writers of crime fiction.




The Difficult Centerpiece of SHOT IN DETROIT


SHOT INDETROIT is the story a female photographer desperate to find artistic success. Through her relationship with a mortician, she comes up with the idea of photographing young black men who have died in Detroit over a six-month period. I wrote the character of Violet Hart as ambitious, a loner, a pest in getting what she wants. An artist in other words. She lives on the outskirts of conventional society--at least in her mind--reasoning that an artist is given license to bend societal norms. Or is she? Does Violet exploit the men she photographs or does she honor them? Is it somewhere in between? These are the issues I wrestled with in writing SHOT IN DETROIT. Both in creating a character who thought like this and in making her the book's centerpiece. And was I guilty of the same transgressions?
I set SHOT IN DETROIT almost totally within Detroit. It's a city often accused of exemplifying transgression: the murder capital of the world plunged into bankruptcy, suffering the lowest rate of high school graduation in the country, imprisoning the most black males, enduring the most extreme poverty. The art and literature coming out of Detroit was edgy, bleak, transgressive. How could it not be? To find a Detroit prompting a different story, I'd have to have set it much earlier. Even in Joyce Carol Oates' brilliant THEM, set in the fifties and sixties in Detroit, the plunge is well underway. 

Early readers of SHOT found Violet a difficult sell. An agent gave me this advice: change her name, make her younger, give her girlfriends, find her a best friend who isn't a gay Filipino who sells drugs. Make her more appealing to women: they buy the books. I took some of his advice. But each time I stepped farther away from the Violet in my head, the story felt off-beam. If the central premise of the novel was going to work, Violet could not be the sort of woman who sat on PTA boards or lunched with former sorority sisters.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Cover Reveal: Deus Ex Magical

My alter-ego Kat Parrish will be releasing a new paranormal romance novelette next month called Deus Ex Magical. It's my first story set in the Pacific Northwest and my first foray into paranormal romance. The cover is by Serena Daphn and you can find a gallery of her covers (she does premade as well as custom covers) here.

I love the play of color and black and white. And that hot pink really pops.  I am very pleased with this cover!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sunday Sweepstakes: Nalini Singh

If you're a Nalani Singh fan--and who isn't a fan of the best-selling PNR writer?--you might want to check out  this chance to win ANY one of her books plus get entered in a contest to win other great giveaways. I'm way behind on my Nalini reading, so there are four or five of her books I wouldn't mind winning, including this one.
check out

Friday, June 17, 2016

Cover appreciation: Animal Farm

Everyone reads George Orwell's Animal Farm in school (along with Brave New World and Lord of the Flies).  As a result, each new version of the book seems to get a new cover. This seems to be the latest cover, and I like it. Srikingly graphic. Clean.

The cover of the edition I read was the one on the right.
 It's memorable enough that I can still pick it out from a gallery of covers the book has had over the years. Of the three dystopian novels every high school kid has to read, this one was probably my favorite, although I actually preferred 1984 to Animal Farm. I should probably go back and reread it. Somehow the current presidential election cycle seems to suggest it's time.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Review: Death of a Dyer by Eleanor Kuhns



Death of a Dyer by Eleanor Kuhns is the second of her Will Rees mysteries about a Revolutionary War veteran-turned-itinerant weaver.

They didn't have Facebook back in the 18th century so hearing unexpected news about an old friend rarely meant something good had happened. For Will Rees, learning that Nate Bowditch is dead is not only unexpected; it's unbelievable.

"Dead?” Rees repeated, staring at George Potter in shock.
“Dead?” A spasm of unexpected grief shot through him. Although he hadn’t seen Nate Bowditch for eighteen years, not since Rees had marched away with the Continental Army in
1777, as boys they’d been closer than brothers. “Are you sure?”
Potter put down his cup with a clink. “Of course I’m sure. His wife herself told me of his death.”
“I’ve never met her,” Rees said.
“After almost twenty years? He lives— lived on the other side of Dugard, not the Atlantic Ocean. What happened? You were such good friends.”
Rees shrugged; that story was too long to tell. “We . . . went in different directions.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Happy birthday Rob!

It's my little brother's birthday today. Will and I wish him a very happy birthday.

Mercedes Lackey's take on Beauty and the Beast: The Fire Rose

The TBR pile gets taller and taller. I'm pretty sure at this point it's taller than I am but it's spread out all over the house, so I don't know for sure. I'm a big fan of Lackey's work. Not sure how I missed reading this. I'm not crazy about the cover, though.

the Devil's Cold Dish

I reviewed The Devil's Cold Dish over at Criminal Element this week. It's the latest in a series of historical mysteries written by Eleanor Kuhns. The series is set in colonial New England and her protagonist, Will Rees, a Revolutionary War hero who is now a part-time farmer and weaver. Kuhns won the annual Minotaur/Mystery Writers of America first crime novel competition in 2011 and she has not looked back since. If you love historical mysteries that are also really strong on characters, you should check out her series, which began with Death of a Dyer.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Enough

I am sick of colored ribbons.
And it's nice that landmarks around the world are lit up with rainbow lights as nations show their solidarity. But I'm sick of symbols.
What I really want is a Congress that will pass a gun law that will keep automatic rifles off the street.
It's the weapon that killed all those little kids.
It's the weapon that killed those movie goers.
And now it's the weapon that killed those people having a good time on a Saturday night.
I wish I lived in Connecticut and could vote for Rep. Jim Himes, who walked out out of the room today rather than observe another meaningless moment of silence.
Vote your conscience.
Vote for people who support your stance. And don't accept lack of action from those who claim to speak for you if they don't. We have an election coming up and there are "down-ticket" races that are important. Do some research. Do your due diligence. And if you see a chance to vote for sane gun laws, then take it.