Thursday, February 27, 2014

Book Review: Ink: Vanishing Point (book 2) by Bella Roccaforte

INK: Vanishing Point 

Category/Genre: Paranormal (Romance?)/Adult

My star rating: 5/5

Goodreads blurb: Shay Baynes is being put through her paces.
She’s under the threat of multiple murder charges, is being stalked by one of her fans and she’s dealing with the loss of her home as well as the mystery of what happened to Aiden. Everyone in her life is candy-coating the truth and treating her like a child.
Shay makes the decision to go it on her own and get away from everyone smothering her only to find out that the murder charges are the least of her worries. Now she’s fighting to stay alive trying to get out of the cruel haunted playground the specter has created for her.

THE RAVE WORTHY:  It's official: Bella Roccaforte is my favorite author.  Yep. I said it.  You may remember a while back when I reviewed book 1 in this series titled Ink: Fine Lines and I really, really enjoyed it.  Vanishing point is even better.  There is way more of the paranormal aspect in this one, although I still can't tell you what the hell the Specter is.  I think it's a ghost story...maybe?  Anyways, the imagery in this book is amazingly haunting, so much so it airs on the side of horror.  I got goosebumps reading about the new world that Shay finds herself in and I wanted to hide under my covers away from my own GalaxyTab.  I didn't, of course.  The book was way too awesome to put down.  The ending to this one left me just as tortured as the last, but I'm growing to love it I think.  Luckily, because I purchased it on the (early) release day Bella was sweet enough to send the first three working chapters to me, so SQUEE!  You won't hear a peep from me about them though, not until book 3 is released.  On the technical side of things:  as predicted the story advancement was flawless.  Bella's writing style is unique and unmatched.  As for the characters: what the hell happened to Shay, Bella?! I love love love her new bitch-in-charge attitude.  Eli is still Eli, sweet but just not the right match for Shay.  I changed my mind about who I'm rooting for; it used to be Aiden but now I'm thinking McNab is her guy.

THE GRUMBLE WORTHY: I really wished there was a bit more romance to this one. I know, I know.  I said on the first one that I wanted more paranormal, and I got it.  But part of me missed the triangle and smooching *sigh* I'm a romantic, what can I say?   I think there was even more head-hopping in this one, which I've made no secret of disliking in the past.  BUT just like Fine Lines, I don't care.  The story made up for any and all grumbles.  Once again, awesome job, Bella!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Book Review: Hereafter (Afterlife #1) by Terri Bruce

Hereafter (Afterlife #1) 

Category/genre: Adult/Paranormal

My star rating: 3/5

*I received a complimentary copy from Mictlan Press via Netgalley in exchange for a honest review**

Goodreads blurb:  Thirty-six-year-old Irene Dunphy didn't plan on dying any time soon, but that’s exactly what happens when she makes the mistake of getting behind the wheel after a night bar-hopping with friends. She finds herself stranded on Earth as a ghost, where the food has no taste, the alcohol doesn’t get you drunk, and the sex...well, let’s just say “don’t bother.” To make matters worse, the only person who can see her—courtesy of a book he found in his school library—is a fourteen-year-old boy genius obsessed with the afterlife.
Unfortunately, what waits in the Great Beyond isn’t much better. Stuck between the boring life of a ghost in this world and the terrifying prospect of three-headed hell hounds, final judgment, and eternal torment in the next, Irene sets out to find a third option—preferably one that involves not being dead anymore. Can she wipe the slate clean and get a second chance before it’s too late?

THE RAVE WORTHY:  I have to say I was impressed with Terri Bruce's ability to handle this one.  After-death books have a tendency to leave a sour taste in my mouth because they are generally approached in a really cheesy manner, but this author did a good job managing the transition.  Any and all possible plot holes are addressed at the appropriate time.    The characters were defined and stayed true to character through out.  You were introduced to a lot of fun information on different cultures and their beliefs of death.  I'm a trivia nut, so this was awesome for me.  She even snuck in a little bit of astral projection (a weakness of mine) that worked really, really well.  I wanted to love this SO BAD!
THE GRUMBLE WORTHY:  Honestly, the main character is what ruined this for me.  I found Irene to be a whiny, petulant little brat who developed a rather unhealthy and inappropriate dependence on a 14 year old boy.  If she had been scaled back even a little I would have enjoyed this a lot more.  She acted even more like a teenager than the character that was supposed to be a teenager (Jonah).  Maybe this would have worked a little better as a YA--I wouldn't be so focused on the fact that the MC is supposed to be thirty-something.  The story was also a little slow moving, but I totally could have looked past that if it wasn't for how badly Irene grated on my nerves. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

That Blasted Query Letter!

This post comes at the request of a fellow writer who wanted to see the query letter I used to perk an editor's interest enough to keep reading.  I sent it to her, and got to thinking.  When I was first starting to write seriously I scoured the internet in search of letters that worked, so why not share mine with you all?

For the record:  I went through 2 other drafts before I came to this one.  I sent the first with the first round to agents and editors and figured out pretty quickly that it was not good enough.  The second draft elicited some bites, but did not do much better. PitchWars helped me polish it up to perfection, and it took a grand total of four weeks from pitch to contract.

The best part is, I honestly feel like I totally get the whole query thing now.  I just finished one for my WIP and I actually really love it.
So here it is, folks.  This query letter was sent to 10 agents/editors and earned me 6 partials and 4 fulls.  Not too shabby!

Dear agent/editor:

Twenty-four year old Eliza discovers her roots in Voodoo royalty, but claiming her throne means giving up her soul mate.

After learning that she is adopted, Eliza begins her search for her biological family and is propelled into an underground world of witchcraft, seances, and sacrifices where she is worshiped as the descendant of the last great voodoo queen of the bayou, Marie Laveau.  From her great, great, grandmother, she has inherited the ability to heal the souls of others by a simple touch of her hands.
Using this gift, Eliza is expected to return the voodoo community and religion to glory. A task not so terrible if it could be lived beside the devastatingly endearing Samuel Mueller. But Samuel is her Keeper; his charge is keeping her safe and according to tradition he is not permitted to mingle romantically with his ward. The two struggle to smother the flame that grows between them while Samuel meets his demands as Eliza's guardian, keeping her from those who would sooner have her killed than let an outsider rule the Bayou. 

HEALING THE BAYOU is a new adult paranormal romance that is complete at 60,000 words.  As per your submission requirements, below I have included (insert individual requirement here).  I would be happy to provide additional material, should you be interested.  I look forward to hearing from you, thank you for your time.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Book Review: Defy by Sara Larson

Defy (Defy, #1) 

Category/genre: Young adult/Fantasy

My star rating: 4/5

**I received a complimentary copy from Scholastic via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review**

Goodreads blurb:  Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.
The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?

THE RAVE WORTHY:  All of the reviews of this book had me laughing out loud.  First of all, so many seemed so outraged and shocked that it had a love triangle...Um, it says it right in the blurb guys.  And then women were going bonkers because they felt she needed to do more to prove that as a woman she was a hero and not just another bimbo looking for love.  I don't think that's fair.  She did a hell of a lot more than the men in the book of her same professional position.  I don't consider myself a feminist by any stretch of the word, but I thought the point of feminism was to put us on the same level as men, not to force us to work twice as hard for the same respect.  I fell in love with Alexa.  She was hardened and strong but did not lose her femininity or sexuality, and for a female character I think that is crucial.  I'm not sure when it stopped being okay to be aware of and embrace that part of yourselves, ladies, but I'm not down with it.  She thought exactly like a typical, hormone-driven 17 year old girl.  When I was 17, a muscly man with his shirt off took my breath away too, and I was a big time tomboy.   The storyline was believable and captivating.  The writing was strong, and the dialogue was smooth.  This was very, very well written especially considering that Sara is a debut author.

THE GRUMBLE WORTHY: I did find it to be a little repetitive.  It was hot for the fire half of the book, and I think we were reminded of it in every chapter.  A lot of throats were going dry, and there were a few too many "curtly" nods going around.  Now, please know that I had an ARC so this may have been edited down.  

WHAT WILL STICK WITH ME: Oh. My. Gawd.  That ENDING!  It killed me, Sara.  So much was unanswered as far as the prince and Rylan were concerned.  Pahhlease! Tell me there is a sequel coming???  In all seriousness though, the ending really was special.  Alexa makes a very bold, and difficult decision that made me respect her even more.