Monday, November 24, 2014

Trail of Hope - New release!

Title: Trail of Hope
Author: Merry Farmer
Find this book here: Amazon, iBooks and Smashwords

Author's description:

Callie Lewis is alone on the Oregon Trail. After her brother’s death, she has been left to fend for herself on a journey she never wanted to take. Her only hope for safety and a life at the end of the road is to become a trail bride and wed grieving widower John Rye. But John is harboring secrets that could end their hasty marriage before it has a chance to begin.

When a vicious tornado wakes John from the stupor the death of his wife left him in, he is ready to embrace Callie and the new life they could have together. But John is not the only one with designs on his new wife. Miles away from civilization, in a wagon train bristling with secrets and suspicion, John must catch a thief, fend off his rival, and reclaim his life to build the future Callie deserves.

In their darkest moments will they bring each other hope? 

PLEASE BE ADVISED - Steam Level: Hot

About the author:

Find Merry on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon Author Page.

Merry Farmer is an award-winning author of historical romance. She lives in suburban Philadelphia with her two cats and enough story ideas to keep her writing until she’s 132. Her second novel, The Faithful Heart, was a 2102 RONE Award finalist and her unpublished futuristic novel A Man’s World won first place in the Novel: Character category at the 2013 Philadelphia Writer’s Conference. She is out to prove that you can make a living as a self-published author and to help others to do the same.


1. What inspired you to write “Trail of Hope”?
I’ve always been fascinated with the Old West, especially the Oregon Trail. Can you imagine what it would have taken to convince people to leave their comfortable lives in the East to head out to an untamed land that was just waiting to be developed? Those are definitely the sorts of people I wanted to write about. But I added an extra element to this particular series. I set it much, much later than most Oregon Trail stories—in the 1860s, at the very end of the days of the trail, right before the railroad took over. At this time, a lot of people were heading west to get away from the troubles of the Civil War back east or for deeper, more personal reasons.

At the beginning of Trail of Hope, Callie’s brother, Greg, is taking his family west because he’s a pacifist who wants to flee the war. But the hero, John, is heading west for much deeper, more personal reasons. On another note, both John and Callie are grieving at the beginning of the book. I’ve lost a lot of people in my life, and I wanted to write a book about coming out of the grieving process.

2. Who should read this book and why will they enjoy it?
I think anyone who loves a good historical romance and likes to read stories that take place on a journey will love Trail of Hope. But I wrote this one especially for those readers who may have lost someone special to them. It’s all about learning to live again after the death of a loved one—learning that life goes on. It starts out a little sad, but by the end it’s uplifting and even joyful at times.

3. What made you want to become a writer?
I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I actually started writing when I was 10 years old and realized one day that I didn’t have to wait for my teacher to assign a creative writing project to write something. I’ve been writing ever since! Writing has always been the best way I know to communicate who I am and what I love to other people. It’s also helped me through some very difficult times in my life. Writing is my soul.

Thank you, Merry, for this exclusive and for being on my blog today. Congrats on your new release and happy writing!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Evolution - New Release!

Title: Evolution
Author: Kate Wrath
You can find the book on Amazon (Kindle Edition).


We run down the narrow alley and take the first turn, then another. We keep running, moving. I don't even notice my surroundings until, at last, we slow to a stop. The smell hits me first—the stench of piss, of something rotten, all condensed into a small space. Breathing hard, we stand in the street and look around us. We're in a main thoroughfare now, judging from the traffic, but it’s still narrow. I feel squashed, smothered. On all sides, a crowd throngs around us. Most of them are dressed in rags. Hollow faces huddle three or four bodies deep against both edges of the road, dirty, hopeless, and lost. Many of them are children.

I'm scanning their faces frantically before I even realize what I'm doing. "Oscar," I hear myself whisper. It hits me, and I break off before I can call out his name. Before I can start running again, sifting through the masses of them.

Apollon's hand clamps onto mine, but he says nothing. He and Jonas are focused on Jacob, who is shaking violently. Tears are pouring from widened eyes down his face. I want to help him, but all I can do is stand here trying not to break down, myself.

"We need to find somewhere to regroup," Jonas says quietly. "Get out of this mess."

I cast around for somewhere to go, but as far as I can see, it's piles upon piles. People, and people, and buildings looming over them. There's no breathing room. No space. I have to force my breath to steadiness. It's too much.

There is a commotion on the street ahead, maybe a block away. The ragged masses push away from the center, squashing and trampling each other in the process. We're caught in a wave of motion and carried backward, but still we try to look. Where the commotion started, there's a group of figures, similarly dressed in black with blue bandanas. They're moving down the street toward us.

The wave of people suddenly backlashes from the other direction, and we're pushed the opposite way from before. We manage to finally see why. On our opposite side, there's another group of people. These are dressed primarily in white. One of them, clearly a leader, wears a purple doo rag and carries what might be the biggest gun I've ever seen. He raises it toward us.


Finally, the long-awaited moment has arrived! "Evolution" has been released!  The amazing Kate Wrath, US-based author who believes in literature as an art form, world peace, and animal rights, but chooses to write total trash full of senseless violence, with characters who eat house pets, has granted me a short

1. What inspired you to write “Evolution”?
Evolution is the continuation of the story from my first book, E, so it was the natural next step.  The first book was not so much « inspired » as it was subliminal-- a freeflow of thought released from my subconscious (at least in its beginnings).  It’s a world that created itself.  A story that demanded to be told.

2. Who should read this book and why will they enjoy it?
My readership has been really wide-- all ages and walks of life.  If you like dark, dystopian tales, focus on characters and relationships, and introspective writing, you will probably enjoy this series.  My writing style has been called poetic.  The story can be heavy at times.  I don’t pull any punches.  However, there is also a lot of action, adventure, and a touch of humor and romance.  More than anything, people have enjoyed the characters.  I get a lot of comments on how great the characters are, and people love that my main character, Eden, is smart and strong, but still real.

3. What made you want to become a writer?
I’ve wanted to be a writer for so long.  It’s the only thing that ever seemed real.  I started writing at about twelve years old, and it immediately became the thing that consumed me.  I’d write stories with my friends back then, but I wrote hundreds upon hundreds of pages, which turned to thousands by the time I was in high school.  I didn’t really think about publishing things, then.  It was all about the writing.  Now that I finally have started writing things to publish, it’s still all about the writing.  I just love doing it, and I would keep doing it even if no one ever read a thing I wrote.

Last, but not least, click on the link to participate in Kate's giveaway: a Rafflecopter giveaway or find more about Kate on her website or Facebook page.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Evolution - Cover reveal!

Kate Wrath, the author of "E" (I'm sure you all remember "E", right?), has finished her second novel, a most expected sequel: "EVOLUTION"! The book will be released on November 12th, but you can preorder it here: Amazon Preorder. I already did - I can't wait until its release!

Today - surprise, surprise - I have the honor to reveal the cover of "Evolution". 
Drumrolls, please!


Outpost Three is still standing… barely.  But the deadliest threat it has ever faced is on its way– a violent force that will annihilate every man, woman, and child.

With the Sentries under his control and Grey’s army defeated, Matt is more powerful than ever.  Eden is little more than his prisoner, but that line is blurring as her affection for him grows.  Now, as the Outpost faces total destruction, Matt must sacrifice the possibility of attaining Eden’s love in the vague hope that her past might hold the key to saving them all.

Eden’s journey will begin to unravel the mysteries of her previous life, reveal dangerous new questions, and change not only the future of Outpost Three, but shape the course of history.

This eagerly anticipated sequel to Kate Wrath’s "E" begins an epic quest into the dark, dystopian landscape of Eden’s world.

Inciting, huh?

If you don't know Kate already, you don't know what you're missing. Go say "Hi" to her on FacebookTwitterGoodreads, or find the freebies on her website.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Traveling Left of Center - New release!

Title: Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories
Author: Nancy Christie
You can find this book here: Amazon (Kindle Edition), Amazon (Paperback)Barnes&Noble, Apple iBookstore, Books-A-Million, and Kobo.


The Book

There are some people who, whether by accident or design, find themselves traveling left of center. Unable or unwilling to seize control over their lives, they allow fate to dictate the path they take—often with disastrous results.
TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER details characters in life situations for which they are emotionally or mentally unprepared. Their methods of coping range from the passive (“The Healer”) and the aggressive (“The Clock”) to the humorous (“Traveling Left of Center”) and hopeful (“Skating on Thin Ice”).
The eighteen stories in TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER depict those types of situations, from the close calls to the disastrous. Not all the stories have happy endings—like life, sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t.
In these stories, the characters’ choices—or non-choices—are their own. But the outcomes may not be what they anticipated or desired. Will they have time to correct their course or will they crash?

The Stories

ALICE IN WONDERLAND—Alice is constrained by circumstances and unwanted obligations to live an unfulfilling life. Books are her only way to escape, serving as sustenance to feed her starving soul. But what will she do when there are no more pages left to devour?

ANNABELLE—A lonely young woman, all Annabelle wants is to love and be loved. But she’s fighting by the twin emotions of fear and guilt, unable to let go of the past and embrace the possibilities of a future.

ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN—Sometimes, what one fears most comes to pass because of those fears. If Charlotte hadn’t been so afraid, would the outcome have been the same?

BEAUTIFUL DREAMER—For Eleanor, it was becoming increasingly more difficult to tell the difference between being awake and dreaming, reality and fantasy. The boundaries were blurring. Would she be able to see clearly again?

EXIT ROW—He wanted an escape. After all these years, he was ready to go. But could he get away before it was too late?

MISCONNECTIONS—Anna’s recurrent dreams echo through her day, as she attempts to reconcile her inexplicable feelings of loss with what would appear to be a “perfect life.”

OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND—Despite being more than three steps over the mental health line, he’s holding fast to his belief in his own sanity. Or is the rest of the world crazy?

SKATING ON THIN ICE—Is it possible to overcome childhood trauma? And, even if you do, are you ever really “cured” or simply skating on thin ice, waiting for it to crack? Sarah is trying to skate across the thin ice. Every day, she makes a new path on the surface of her life. So far, the ice has held.

STILL LIFE—Mirror images of her life: how she wants it to be and how it is. Which one would be her true reality—and does she even have a choice?

THE CLOCK—Everyone has a breaking point. For Harold, it came one fateful evening when the clock once again stopped ticking.

THE HEALER—Cassie didn’t ask for the gift. She didn’t want the gift. For all the good it had done other people, it was killing her. All she wanted was her own healing.

THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS—Mona was relying on the kindness of strangers to rescue her. One stranger, in particular. However, thanks to the interference of others, her plans keep going awry. But she’s not giving up yet.

THE SHOP ON THE SQUARE—His attitude of superiority had gotten him quite far in life. Until a chance stop at a small Mexican town illustrated that he had much to learn.

THE STORYTELLER—Connie makes up her stories as much for the children’s sake as her own. But even her stories can’t stop the pain of reality from hurting her listeners—or herself.

THE SUGAR BOWL—Although Chloe’s life story changes with every listener, each time her tale has achieved its intended purpose. Until she chooses the wrong person to tell it to.

TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER—Her mama was forever telling her that, on the highway of life, she was always traveling left of center. She wasn’t a bad girl, mind you—just incapable of looking down the road and seeing where her actions are taking her.

WAITING FOR SARA—Her daughter Sara is gone, and while it was by her own choice, it was a decision ill-conceived and poorly executed. And so Sara’s mother waits, alone and fearful, hoping against hope that someday her daughter will return, safe and unharmed.

WATCHING FOR BILLY—Agnes was all alone until Billy came to stay. Would he bring new purpose to her life? Or take what little hope she had for companionship?


Nancy Christie is a professional writer, whose credits include both fiction and non-fiction. In addition to her fiction collection, TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER, and two short story e-books, ANNABELLE and ALICE IN WONDERLAND (all published by Pixel Hall Press), her short stories can be found in literary publications such as EWR: Short Stories, Hypertext, Full of Crow, Fiction365, Red Fez, Wanderings, The Chaffin Journal and Xtreme.
Her inspirational book, THE GIFTS OF CHANGE, (Beyond Words/Atria) encourages readers to take a closer look at how they deal with the inevitability of change and ways in which they can use change to gain a new perspective, re-evaluate their goals and reconsider their options. Christie’s essays have also appeared in Woman’s Day, Stress-Free Living, Succeed, Experience Life, Tai Chi and Writer’s Digest. She is currently working on several other book projects, including a novel and a book for writers.
A member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and Short Fiction Writers Guild (SFWG), Christie teaches workshops at writing conferences and schools across the country and hosts the monthly Monday Night Writers group in Canfield, Ohio.
Visit her website at or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or at her writing blogs: Finding Fran, The Writer’s Place and One on One.


1. What inspired you to write "Traveling Left of Center"?
I’m not entirely sure. It’s not like I set out to write stories about odd, eccentric or unstable people. It’s just, for some reason, I am drawn to those types of people—perhaps it’s one of those “There, but for the grace of God” things.
My fiction—or at least, my short fiction—tends to be about people who are damaged in some way: by what they have done to themselves or by what was done to them, by what they have received, what they gave up, or what was taken from them. They are, for the most part, struggling to navigate through dangerous waters. Some survive and move forward toward land, some are just treading water, and some don’t even know that they have lost the battle and are, even now, drowning.
I feel sorry for those people, wish I could do something for them, and perhaps, in the writing of their stories, that is what I am doing. Because somewhere out there, there is a real person who is held in thrall by his or her obsessions, who is controlled by past or present circumstances, who wants to live a happy, normal, balanced life but finds that the tightrope of life vibrates too much and maintaining equilibrium is but a dream.
“Dream”—and there it is again. The idea of what we want and what we have. For some of us—perhaps for most of us—the former is the dream and the latter is the reality and never the twain shall meet.

2. Who should read this book and why will they enjoy it?
This was a difficult question because it’s not like I had set out to write the type of book that certain demographic would find appealing or valuable. But if I had to describe my typical reader it would be someone who enjoys reading about characters in difficult or bizarre situations and the choices they make. A reader who feels compassion for those who are lost—or maybe just relief that, at least so far, he or she is on the right side of the center line.

3. What made you want to become a writer?
That’s a difficult answer because, in all honesty, I never wanted or made a conscious decision to be a writer. It just came naturally to me. I was making up stories from a very young age and always had a vivid imagination, playing “Let’s pretend” and “what if” with my best friend Danny. From making up stories to writing them down was a natural progression. I wrote my first short story (actually I called it a book—it even had a cover!) in second grade.
Writing fiction gives me the freedom to imagine certain circumstances and scenarios, and then watch my characters cope with them. Of course, that freedom comes at a price—the cost being an inability to let go of the characters, to close the book on them, so to speak. They become real to me and so, years after I have written about them, I grieve for lonely, lost Annabelle, for Connie who gives to the children as a way of coping with her empty life, for Sara’s mother, who longs to turn back the clock and hold her daughter once again.
In a sense, fiction is also my coping strategy. Like most people, I have had my share of pain and loss, disappointment and heartbreak. Many times, I will use fiction as a way to heal. The stories, while not necessarily mirroring my own experiences, do explore the attendant emotions. I watch from a distance, as my characters deal with their own private anguish, and little by little come closer, until eventually, I can allow myself to face my own. Their grief and pain becomes mine—we share, and in that sharing, I can move on.

4. Do you have a theme you return to time and again?
Probably change. I mean, that is the constant we all face, isn’t it? We are only fooling ourselves if we think we can control everything that happens to us. So, that being the case, what do we do? How do we handle change—happy change, sad change, confusing change? That’s the predicament my characters find themselves in.

Thank you, Nancy, for sharing these insights into your life and work!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Making Up for Monday: Duplicates

Rules of the game: Each week there will be a book-related theme or game, or something fun to do that week. And you can play along! All you have to do is find the question for that week, go to your own blog, write a post that day based on that question, and link your post to ours, using the link-up tool at the bottom of the original post.
This week's question is "Do you or would you own more than one copy of a book?"

Short answer: Umm... Duh!

Long answer: ... Well, where should I start with this? I guess the best example is my all-time favorite, Le Petit Prince/ The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
I fell in love with this book in secondary school, when we studied fragments from it in French class. Later, I really wanted to have a copy, but I had no money, so I photocopied the book from the library, tied the pages together, added a book cover, and made my own. (Don't shoot! I realize this may be illegal, but I really wanted to have this book.) Again later, when I did have the money, I bought it: a version in Romanian, one in English, and one in French. Of course, now I also have a PDF copy and an ePub, just in case, for each version. If I do the math, I currently own 10 copies of Le Petit Prince (counting the one that I put together myself). At the moment, I'm considering buying the audiobook, as well.

Another example is J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, though it doesn't come close to the previously mentioned one. I own a copy in Romanian, one in English, a simplified version for learners of English, and of course, PDFs and ePubs - a total of 7 copies.
The list can go on. I did the same for all the books that I love. I am a book hoarder, and I'm proud of it. If I love a book, it's not enough for me to just read it; I have to own it. In as many forms as possible. You know, just in case.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Making up for Monday: the Perfect Novel

Rules of the game: Each week there will be a book-related theme or game, or something fun to do that week. And you can play along! All you have to do is find the question for that week, go to your own blog, write a post that day based on that question, and link your post to ours, using the link-up tool at the bottom of the original post.

Lately, because of the increasing amount of work that I have been presented with, I had no time to read! I feel sad and incredibly guilty about it, and I express my apologies to all the authors waiting for a review from me, but I just have to let things sort out by themselves (and by that, I mean I will have to keep working on the other projects - that pay the bills - and postpone reading and reviewing until sunnier days show up at the horizon).

In the meantime, I thought I'd do something different: this game, for example.

The question for the week is "If you could or are writing a book, what would you want it to be about?"

Well, I've had this idea in my head for a while: that I should write a book about how living in Morocco is for a foreigner. Most of you out there know Morocco from a touristic point of view: the palm trees, the beaches, the surfing, the Sahara, the camels, the snakes in Marrakech... and that's about it, right? Maybe some of you that are more nature-oriented know about the cannabis cultures in the mountains. Perhaps you know that Morocco has a king who pretty much does whatever His Majesty wishes around here (unlike the UK, his is not an honorific title), and who can even put me in prison tomorrow if he thinks that I was sarcastic in this sentence. 
Tangier, Morocco
There is so much more to Morocco than the above-mentioned stuff! In the three years that I've been living here, I took it all in, the good and the bad. And the worse. 

I'm not sure what shape this book will take, but I can tell you one thing: it won't be a travel guide. 
Barbary macaque - Ifrane National Park, Morocco
That's my answer to this week's question, folks! I'd be happy to know your answers, so don't be shy: leave a comment. (C'mon, we all know that we dream of being writers!)

(Note: Photos taken by me - all rights reserved.)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Blood Roses - New release!

Title: Blood Roses
Author: Chloe Testa
You can find this book here: Amazon (Kindle Edition) and Amazon (Paperback).


It began with a rose and the girl nobody else could see. 

Her eyes follow Tom wherever he goes. Watching. Waiting. She leaves him gifts of roses and blood. She is constantly surrounding him. Her touch is like fire and ice and her scarlet eyes haunt him. She will hurt him. So...why can't anybody else see her? 

Reality turns against Tom as he desperately clings to shreds of his sanity, knowing she's real. Knowing she isn't just in his head. With time slipping away from him, the battle between the unseen girl and the voice of reason is a dangerous one Tom knows he can never win. He has too much to lose. 
As the battle commences, he has to overcome the cruel voice clawing at the back of his mind, whispering in agreement with those around him that he is rapidly falling into madness. 

Who do you trust when your own mind rebels against you?


Chloe Testa, UK-based author, enjoys exploring the themes of psychological turmoil, the darker side of humanity and the effects of both on those coming of age in her writing. She has just released her first novel, "Blood Roses", a YA fantasy-horror, and she has kindly agreed to tell us a few things about her work and herself.

1. What inspired you to write "Blood Roses"?
It started out really simply with this idea of imaginary friends. My friend told me about her childhood imaginary friend and he sounded really ominous and creepy to me. At the time she tried so hard to convince her family he was real, as kids do, saying he watched over her in her sleep and he scared her and so on. I scare easily so I started to think ‘what if it was a ghost? Or it was someone really there?’ and from there the idea really took off as I imagined that fear of trying to tell everyone something was real when they simply wouldn’t believe you. As a child, it's one thing, you’re expected to have imaginary friends, but as you get older, it becomes something else entirely, and people start looking for explanations surrounding mental illness, chemical imbalances and so on. Though it started out as a simple musing, it was an idea that wouldn’t leave me alone, so I knew I had to write it down. 

2. Who should read this book and why will they enjoy it?
I think it is a book that can appeal to everyone because of the various themes throughout, but I think it should definitely be read by anyone who enjoys fantasy, horror and young adult. It may also appeal to anyone interested in psychological novels as it focuses on the mind and the fracturing of this throughout the course of the novel. There is a high level of tension and action throughout the book, balancing both against the internal struggle of the character. Though a fantasy novel with horror elements throughout which will appeal to fans of both of these genres, these are contrasted with moments of calm, hints of romance, friendship and general coming of age moments meaning it is a broader read others may enjoy. It is also well written and easy to engage with, so a book you can quickly get into. 

3. What made you want to become a writer?
I suppose it was something I always knew I would do. I’ve always loved creative writing - when I was in secondary school it was possibly the only thing I actively got involved in but we never seemed to do it enough! It’s one of those things that makes me feel truly happy and free, and regardless of my emotion, location or overwhelming pressures, writing is always there like a comfort. Alongside all of my career dreams I always wanted to write. I saw myself obtaining each career and being a writer as well, even if it was simply writing for my own pleasure or to share with family and friends. I guess being a writer is a big part of me. I knew I'd be a writer, but I never thought I'd be published. That was beyond my wildest dreams!

I must say, Chloe, your novel sounds very intriguing, and I can't wait to read it!
Thank you for sharing this with us.

You can find out more about the author and her work on her website, Chloe Testa.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Down on the Other Street - New release!

Title: Down On The Other Street (Volume I)
Author: Jennifer Cie
You can find this book here: Amazon (Kindle Edition), Amazon (Paperback), Barnes & Noble and Createspace.


Long winded, unemployed, and timid, on the first date Brendan Bloom is already in love. Comfortably arched over his body, Ryan contemplates murder. Cold, necklace gleaming against the pale tint of her collarbone, the passenger could have mercy. Not a little black book, but a faded love letter out from under the sheets. Some romances ignite on sight, others flare at the base of waterless tubs soaked in agitation. Rooted in the South, this  collection of short stories delivers five electric confessions of love, sexuality, and identity across time.


Jennifer Cie, an author who loves to dive into social issues with her writing, has recently released her third book, "Down On The Other Street", a collection of short stories, which she describes for us:

"Down On The Other Street" is a mixture of what happens when you talk about love out loud with the kind of honesty you reserve for moments when no one is listening. It is full of five incredibly different voices that share the extremes of being in and out of love, and, finding yourself through that experience. 

You can find more about Jennifer and her books on her blog, Journey to Paperback
Thank you, Jennifer! Looking forward to reading your book (you all know I love short stories).

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

E by Kate Wrath

Title: E
Author: Kate Wrath
You can find this book here: Amazon (Kindle Edition) and Amazon (Paperback).

Author's description:

A poignant tale of love and friendship in a world beyond hope…

Outpost Three: a huddle of crumbling buildings choked by a concrete wall.  Cracked pavement, rusted metal, splintering boards.  Huge robotic Sentries police the streets, but the Ten Laws are broken every time one turns its back.

Eden is determined, smart, and a born survivor.  Stripped of her memories and dumped on the streets of the Outpost, slavers and starvation are only the beginning of her problems.  A devastating conflict is coming that threatens to consume her world and tear her newfound family apart.

Life is harsh.  It makes no exceptions.  Not even for the innocent.

I don't usually read sci-fi. Or dystopian. I'm more of a happy reader, looking for rainbows and unicorns. What made me read (and love, and put the author on my top favorite authors list) "E" were the first paragraphs posted on Kate Wrath's website. The power and the beauty of the dark, poetic language won me over, reminding me of some of my favorite poets. And once you start reading this book, trust me, you cannot stop.

My official review:

Title & Genre
"E". As simple as that. The title is a mystery, just like the main character of the book. You will only discover what the title means when you are about 50% in this science-fiction, dystopian novel, so I won't spoil that for you.  

Theme & Plot
The storyline is constructed around three main themes: hope and the loss of it, character destruction and rebuilding, and the battle between good and evil. Actually, I would rephrase the last one as "the battle between evil and less evil", because we are talking about a world where nothing is good or innocent, and one has to choose between worse and the worst.
The main plot revolves around the main character and what she has to do to survive. I think the main fights take place in her heart and mind, not in the outside world. On the outside, though, there are events and struggles that create an endless web of sub-plots. A simple accident (getting a piece of glass stuck in Eden's foot) creates a whole side-story that lasts through chapters. Characters rise and die, taking their stories with them. The beginning of one sub-plot sometimes resolves the other, but in general, there are two or three going on at the same time.

Point of view
The novel is written in first person, present tense, from the main character's point of view. That gives you the chance to discover the world that she is dumped in together with her, as you start on the same level: neither you, nor the character knows what that world is like in the beginning.

Kate Wrath's characters are alive. You see them, feel them, bond with them and discover their world through their eyes. The main character is "reborn" from an "iron womb", nameless, in a hopeless world. She has no memories, no past, no future. Later on, she names herself Eden. Since the story is written from her point of view, the reader bonds with her deeply; you end up liking what she likes and hating what she hates. Eden is a complex character that learns, discovers, adapts and evolves very fast. Think of a new-born child forced to become a grown-up in a matter of days. What I like is that, even if her memories were erased, her sense of morality remained intact. She always tries to do the right thing, in this world where being correct lessens your chances of survival. This also leads to inner struggles, when she has to choose a side to fight on or choose among friends. The author pays the same attention to secondary characters: Apollon, Jonas, Miranda, Neveah, and my favorite, Oscar (which make up her new family); and Matt, the "god" of the Outpost, a very controversial character that you hate and love in the same time. All these characters have depths that I have rarely seen in a sci-fi writing.

As you would expect from a sci-fi/dystopian novel, the setting is crucial to the events that take place and to character development. What renders "E" different from other books in the same genre is the lack of direct description, the lack of dwelling on the subject. Everything happens in Outpost Three, but that is all you will know about it. You do not find out where it is situated, in what year, how big or small it is, and you do not need to, because it is not essential to the storyline. It is the dark atmosphere that the author creates that lets you in what the Outpost is all about. She does not describe the rags that people are wearing, but tells you that the leading groups have fewer holes in their clothing; she does not try to tell you what hunger feels like, but that "even the mold tastes good". Kate Wrath creates a world where being pretty is a curse, where you sell yourself for a crust of moldy bread, where the only way to "get rich" is to strip a corpse of its belongings, where menace comes in many shapes and from many sides, "the bottom of humanity's barrel". 

Modern poetry are the words that define Kate Wrath's style. I can't even begin to tell you how much I love it. Fragmented sentences; rich, descriptive vocabulary; attention to details and, especially, to feelings; dialogue as a main source of characterization – these are just a few things that describe this author's style. She lets the train of thought go, makes you think what the character thinks, and the thoughts come into your head not through words, but through this poetic language that enables it. A language that speaks to your subconscious, demanding to let go and embrace your feelings, and be part of this grim universe. 
I will give you only one example: "Tepid air.  Tepid metal.  The inability to move.  Limbs pressing outward, ineffective.  My ribcage curled in on itself.  No room to breathe.  The back of my skull smashed against the box.  Neck and spine aching.  Heavy limbs.  Not enough space.  Not enough air.  Suffocating.  Dying." Get the drift?

Obviously, I recommend this book to sci-fi and dystopian readers, poetry lovers, readers in search of a good thriller or a good book in general. But I warn you: this book is not for the weak hearted.

My Twist:

Favorite character: Oscar, without a doubt. This little sunshine of a boy offers you a ray of hope in an otherwise hopeless world.
Favorite quote: "E". No, not the title. The whole damn book. 
I'll choose a little rainbow-sweet quote for you, though: "Once […] there was this white doe. I don't think she died […].  I don't think God would let something that pretty die. Well, […] if I was God, I wouldn't."
Favorite names: Eden and Apollon. All the names are well-chosen and meaningful, but these two got my attention: Eden – a garden of beauty and desired perfection in a far-from-perfect universe – and Apollon – a cross-breed between Apollo, the Roman god of sunlight, and Apollyon, the destroyer, a name given to the Devil in the New Testament.

Least favorite character: Miranda – shallow, egocentric, but good-at-heart character, who sometimes behaves like a spoiled brat – it is a wonder how she has survived for so long in this world.
Least favorite quote: "You stink" – I never like it when people say that to me; do you?

Aspirin of the book:

If you wake up one day with no memories, in a dark world where everyone wants to harm you, and you don't even have your cell phone with you, look at the bright side: you might get to eat rats!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Voices of the Sea - New release!

Title: Voices of the Sea
Author: Bethany Masone Harar
You can find this book here: Amazon (Kindle Edition), Amazon (Paperback) and Barnes & Noble.

Author's description:

The Sirens of Pacific Grove, California are being exterminated, and seventeen-year-old Loralei Reines is their next target. Lora may look like a normal teenager, but her voice has the power to enchant and hypnotize men. Like the other Sirens in her clan, however, she keeps her true identity a secret to protect their species.
Lora's birthright as the next clan leader seems far off, until the Sons of Orpheus, a vicious cult determined to kill all Sirens on Earth, begin exterminating her people. When an unexpected tragedy occurs, Lora must take her place as Guardian of the Clan.

Lora is determined to gain control of her skills to help her clan, but they are developing too slowly, until she meets Ryan, a human boy. When Ryan is near, Lora's abilities strengthen. She knows she shouldn't be with a human. Yet, she can't resist her attraction to him, or the surge in power she feels whenever they're together.

And the Sirens are running out of time. If Lora can't unlock the secret to defeat the Sons of Orpheus, she, along with everyone she loves, will be annihilated.


Bethany Masone Harar grew up in a family with "gypsy feet", as she describes them herself, moving from place to place before settling down in the suburbs of Washington D.C. Between her job as a high school English teacher and her family, she still finds time to write. The official release of her first novel, "Voices of the Sea", takes place today, and Bethany shared with us some insight on the characters in her book:

The Sirens in my book are very peaceful, living among humans for centuries, but keeping themselves hidden to protect their real identity.  They look completely human, but have the amazing ability to seduce the opposite sex with either their singing, or with an instrument. (Yes, in my book, both males and females can be Sirens)  However, they do not take this gift lightly, and only use it when absolutely necessary.

The ocean sings to the Sirens in my novel, and the song varies depending on the Siren's mood.  It even speaks to my main character, Loralei, who will one day be the Guardian of the Pacific Grove, California, clan.  For the Sirens, singing along with the ocean's song is very difficult to resist, and is both a treasure and a torment to them as they try to keep up their "human" life. 
My Sirens cherish and protect their heritage, aware that their legacy needs to be preserved, but also hidden, because if the world knew what they were, they would not be allowed to live freely.  They are gentle, but brave, and are about to face the greatest threat to their existence.

I can't wait to share my Sirens with you, and I hope you love them as much as I do.

Thank you, Bethany! Looking forward to reading more about your Sirens.