Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cover reveal & book trailer: Stained by Cheryl Rainfield

Hi everyone

Today on my blog, I’m showcasing the cover for Cheryl Rainfield’s up and coming novel, Stained.

For those not familiar with Cheryl, she’s well-known for tackling tough topics such as bullying in her novels and draws inspiration from her own traumatic experience as a young girl.

Stained is her latest novel and releases on the 19 November 2013.

Without further ado, here is the gorgeous and haunting cover for Stained, followed by the book trailer:

About the book:
Publication date: Nov 19, 2013 (published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Sometimes you have to be your own hero….

In this heart-wrenching and suspenseful teen thriller, sixteen-year-old Sarah Meadows longs for "normal." Born with a port-wine stain covering half her face, all her life she’s been plagued by stares, giggles, bullying, and disgust.

But when she’s abducted on the way home from school, Sarah is forced to uncover the courage she never knew she had, become a hero rather than a victim, and learn to look beyond her face to find the beauty and strength she has inside. It’s that—or succumb to a killer.


What Cheryl has to say:
Like I did with SCARS and HUNTED,

I drew on some of my own experiences of bullying, abuse, and trauma to write STAINED and to give it greater emotional depth.

Like Sarah in STAINED, I experienced abduction, imprisonment, periods of forced starvation, mind control, and having my life threatened.

And like Sarah, I tried hard to fight against my abuser, keep my own sense of self, and escape.

I hope readers will see Sarah's strength and courage, and appreciate her emotional growth as she reclaims herself.

More information:
Add Stained to your TBR pile
Cheryl on Goodreads
Cheryl’s Twitter profile
Visit Cheryl’s website

Available For Pre-Order on:

Amazon (hardcover)
Amazon (kindle):

The Book Depository

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pantomime blog tour: A Tour Through Ellada and R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic by Laura Lam

Hi everyone

As part of the Pantomime blog tour, I'm thrilled to have Laura Lam, author of Pantomime stop by on my blog today. The moment I first heard about Pantomime, I was immediately intrigued. The synopsis of the book starts off like this:

"R. H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada."

Because I've read and loved Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, I've become very intrigued with the idea of the circus as a fantastical setting within a book.

To me, there's no limit to what fantasy, illusions and all sorts of magical things you can create within the canvas of a circus arena; which is exactly why I asked Laura to take us through a tour (complete with pics) of her book world.

Before I kick off with the post, here's a little more info on Pantomime:

About Pantomime:
R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada.

Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass—remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone—are wonders beyond the wildest imagination.

It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimaera is still there.
It’s a place where anyone can hide.

Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls.

Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star.

But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.

A Tour Through Ellada and R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic
So many writers are obsessed with sites like Pinterest lately, and I can see why.

One, it’s an excellent procrastination tool, so of course writers are all over it.

Second, many writers are quite visual, despite using only words to create worlds, and a striking scene or an image of a character can be brilliant when one is stuck on a novel.

At least, it’s helped in my case.

I didn’t start collecting images based on my world, the Archipelago, until after I finished the first book, PANTOMIME. But I still had very specific pictures in mind.

Over the past few months, I’ve been collecting both the images I had in my head then, images of scenes and characters I’m writing, and creating a bit of a visual encyclopaedia or the world I’ve created in my head.

Below is a tour through Ellada and R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic. This is in one way an expansion of the information review I did of Pantomime on Goodreads, which you can find here.

Ellada is a world of Victoriana sensibilities. It’s the former head of an empire that spread through the Archipelago, and so the other islands of Byssia, Kymri, Linde, Northern and Southern Temne were all once under Ellada’s control.

Now, they’ve settled on a temporary truce. As a result, Ellada is not anywhere near as powerful as they had once been. While those in the noble families are still well-off and comfortable, the everyday citizen suffers.

Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, is a member of one of the less powerful houses in Ellada, but their family has risen in prestige over the past few years, almost suspiciously so.
This is how I imagine Gene, a girl not quite happy with her lot in life. She’d far rather jump off trees in the Emerald Bowl with her brother and his friend than sit practicing piano in such a pretty frock.

The rich often have estates in the Emerald Bowl, the only verdant part of the rather rocky and sparse land. In one of these estates is where we first meet Gene:
Gene is being groomed for her debutante. She is less than thrilled with this, so let’s say she’s the irate looking one on the right (See image below).
When Micah Grey runs away to join the circus, he joins a new world that is completely unfamiliar to him. This is a world where he doesn’t know the rules and where he is the interloper than must prove himself.

This is a lot how I imagine Micah, but he’d be in far scruffier clothing.

This is smaller than I imagine the ring of R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic, but it gives a good feel for the ambience.

Micah Grey trains to be an aerialist.
Gene/Micah discover that there’s more to their world than initially assumed. While they only begin to delve into the mysteries of Ellada in the first book, what they find proves disconcerting.

This is highly pressurised ice from a glacier in Iceland that has almost no air bubbles. In my world, mysterious domes of an unbreakable blue glass-like substance pepper all islands of the Archipelago, and cities have sprung up around the largest of them.

They were created by a long-vanished civilisation called the Alder. They’re hollow, but no one knows what’s inside…

The Alder supposedly created mythological creatures called Chimaera, some of which are worshipped as gods in other colonies. In Ellada, they are legends to be feared and admired. Mermaids, centaurs, minotaurs, naga, and all of the others. They’re also long-gone.

Or are they?

When the Alder and Chimaera left, lots of their technology or magic remained. The current inhabitants of the Archipelago call it “Vestige.” Vestige ranges from highly dangerous weapons to something small and innocuous, like this. When it breaks, no one knows how to fix it.

In Pantomime, every character in some way is performing a balancing act. One wrong move…

(Tammy says: And we'll leave you to find out what happens next, shall we?)

Thank you for taking a peek into the world of Ellada, the circus, Gene, and Micah. I hope you’ll pick up Pantomime to find out more.

A huge, huge, huge thank you to Laura for taking the time to put this post together. I'm currently reading Pantomime and can tell you that these pictures only bring the story more vividly to life than before. Special thanks also goes out to Strange Chemistry Publishers for allowing me to be part of the Pantomime blog tour.

For more information on Laura and Pantomime, you can  click on the following links below:

Website: http://www.lauralam.co.uk (Bio under the “about” section)
Twitter: @LR_Lam
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lauralamauthor
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/micahgrey/

For the rest of the blog tour schedule, you can click on the blog button below:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Book excerpt & e-book giveaway: The Athena Effect by Derrolyn Anderson

Hey everyone

Today I’ve got an excerpt from Derrolyn Anderson’s The Athena Effect, a YA novel about a girl who rescues a bad-ass, which results in said bad boy becoming curious because he suspects there’s far more to her than she lets on.

Now for those of you who don’t know, Derrolyn is also the author The Marina’s Tales book series which focuses on merfolk – and which is another series that’s sitting on my list of books to read. 

For today though, I’m not only featuring an extract from the book, but Derrolyn has also kindly offered to give away and e-copy of the book. Details for the giveaway will follow after the excerpt.
About the book
Country girl Cali has been kept a secret her entire life, raised in isolation by two very troubled people.

Despite her parent’s disturbing fits, Cal is perfectly content, living at one with the nature that surrounds her, and finding adventure inside the pages of her beloved books.

When an awful tragedy tears her away from her remote cabin in the woods, nothing she’s ever read has prepared her for a world that she knows very little about.

Girls and motorcycles are what bad-boy Cal’s life is all about.

Brought up in a raucous party house by his biker brother, he’s free to do as he pleases, going through the motions on his final days of high school.

Aimless, Cal stopped thinking about his future a long time ago.

Attacked by a gang of thugs while running an errand for his brother, Cal is in serious trouble until a fierce girl appears out of nowhere to intervene. She chases off three grown men, sparing Cal a brutal beating before disappearing into the night like a spirit.

He can’t stop thinking about his mysterious rescuer, and when she turns out to be the weird new girl at school who goes out of her way to avoid him, he can’t contain his curiosity.

He’s never met anyone like her before, and the more he learns about the unusual girl who shares his nickname, the more he wants to know. Cal can’t help falling for Cal, but can he keep her from falling victim to a dangerous enemy from her parent’s tragic past?


She stepped out from the shadows, shrieking, “Stop it! You’re going to kill him!”

The three thugs looked up with shocked faces, “What the…”

The punching man stopped in mid-swing and charged at her. She tried to run back into the tree line, but was thrown to the ground by a flying tackle and dragged by her ankles into the clearing.

She kicked and fought, twisting and clawing at the turf, but she was unable to break free. Her hood slipped down and a mass of curly blonde hair spilled out.

“Let go of me!” she screamed, remembering the last time a killer tried to drag her away.
The man lunged on top of her, straddling her and pinning her arms to the ground over her head.

“Shut up or I’ll shut you up,” he grunted from the exertion. The other two men stood looking down at her as she struggled futilely to get away.

“Here to save your boyfriend?” one of them asked, making the other one laugh.

“Help!” she screamed at the top of her lungs. The man on top of her released one of her arms to slap her hard across the cheek, and it was all the opening she needed.

With a well-practiced grab, she drew her hunting knife from its sheath on her belt and pressed it to his side, ready to plunge it in.

He looked down in horror and reeled back from the long blade, allowing her to push him over onto his back and spring to her feet in one swift move. She crouched above him, poised to plunge it into his belly.

“I swear I’ll gut him!” she yelled, her eyes flashing at the men who stood frozen. “Get back,” she growled through gritted teeth, trying her hardest to send them all an icy blue blast of fear.

It seemed to work, because the man lying on the ground called out, “Do what she says…” His eyes were wide in the moonlight, locked onto the gleaming silver blade.

“Back off,” she yelled again, watching the others as they slowly moved away. She kept the knife raised with both hands, shaking from the rush of adrenalin. A police siren wailed in the distance and the two men looked over their shoulders nervously.

“Take it easy Blondie,” the one on the ground said. “We were just leaving.”

She slowly backed away, keeping her knife at the ready, fully prepared to dive on him and stick it deep into his belly without hesitation. The man scrambled backwards, finally rising to join the others. He brushed himself off, trying to regain his dignity, and signaled for them to leave.

She watched the three of them disappear back into the shadows they’d come from.

Satisfied that they were really going, she turned her attention to the beaten boy.

Cal had crawled to his knees and witnessed the whole scene, and he looked up with bleary eyes to see the girl standing over him, her golden hair reflecting the moonlight like the halo of a guardian angel. The police siren grew louder on the road beneath the hill, passing them by and fading away into the distance.

She bent down to offer him a hand, and he took it, focusing on the two raised scars that ran down the length of her forearm. She pulled him to his feet and he stood wavering, rubbing his sore jaw. It hurt to breathe, and he wondered if they had broken a rib.

He watched in a daze as she slipped her knife back into its sheath, pulling her oversized sweatshirt down to conceal it. She pushed her sleeves down over her arms and flipped the hood back up to cover her glowing mane of hair. It occurred to him that she might be a ghost.

“You need to get out of here before they come back,” she said.

“Where did you come from?” he choked out, looking back the way the men left. “Who are you?”

When he turned around she was gone. 

About Derrolyn:
Derrolyn Anderson is a visual artist and writer of fiction.

The creator of the four part "Marina's Tales" series and the YA romance, "The Athena Effect", she's currently hard at work on her next book, "The Mackenzie Legacy".

More info:

As I've mentioned previously, Derrolyn has been kind enough to offer one lucky reader a chance to win an e-copy of the book. I'm going to make this giveaway (which is international) really easy:  the first person to comment on this post wins the e-book.

The only rule here is that you have to be a book blogger.  Oh, and please provide me with a means of contacting you.

That's all there is to it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Book review: The Pledge

Disclaimer: This review appears on Women24.com, a South African women's lifestyle website where I manage, amongst other things, an online books section.

The Pledge
What would you do if you were governed by a queen who decreed that you had to live under a law where classes are divided by the language they speak?

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting (Allison & Busby)
Having read the first two books in Kimberly Derting's The Body Finder series (which I absolutely LOVED by the way), I couldn't help but be intrigued with her new offering. 

Considering that this book is more of a dystopian fantasy than a contemporary paranormal mystery, I really wanted to see how she'd make the shift to a different sub-genre.

Surprisingly enough, I did end up enjoying it more than I initially thought I would – especially considering the fact that I, after a good few chapters in, decided to put this book on hold.

I think at this point, I read so many works of post-apocalyptic fiction, I became genre-fatigued 

It just goes to show that sometimes putting a book down and waiting until you’re in the mood to read the genre again does tend to pay off.

And while I don’t think that The Pledge is as good as her Body Finder series,  the book still proved to be readable and entertaining enough for me. Enough so that it actually has me curious to see what direction the next book will be going in.

The first in a trilogy, The Pledge is set in a futuristic time period and revolves around a country that is governed by a cruel and sadistic queen. In Ludania, the queen’s word is law and the law, as such, is one which states clearly that castes are to be divided by the language you speak.

Of course, there is a common language that is spoken when it comes to bartering and trade, but if you’re caught speaking or understanding a language you’re not supposed to, public execution becomes the name of the game.

Which is why 17-year old Charlaina has to guard and keep her special ability a secret. Not only can she understand all the languages spoken (including the language of the Royals), but she also has a younger sister with an equally dangerous ability.

Unknown to her, is the fact she also comes from a long lost line of Royalty – and if she’s discovered – then she stands to lose so much more than her freedom. Luckily for her, there’s the alluring and dangerous Max, a soldier who makes a pledge to protect her.

As rebel forces gather and rise up in opposition against the queen’s rule, Charlaina needs to decide which of the people closest to her, are those she can trust.

With a generous dollop of action, magic and romance, The Pledge proves to be an interesting start to a new trilogy.

While some of the ideas in the book are a little far-fetched, the element of cruel magic at play adds an unexpectedly intriguing aspect to this novel that definitely had me looking past the book’s flaws.

In the past, the books that I’ve read within this genre, tended to lean more towards heavily relying on the sci-fi aspects within the book world, but The Pledge, even though set far into the future, almost  reads like a historical fantasy novel.

I’m not entirely sure if this is a good or bad thing, but for me, it didn’t detract too much from the overall arc of the story.

The idea of castes being divided according to the languages they speak, may not seem like a new or a realistic one, but for the most part, Kimberly manages to make it work.

There’s no denying that she’s a talented writer and with this book, manages not just to keep my interest, but she’s also created an interesting cast of characters who each have secrets of their own that somehow ties itself into how it all affects Charlie.

I loved reading about her relationships with the various people in her life, in particular that of her bond with her younger sister and parents.

Most YA fiction these days seem to neglect to include some sort of character-parental bond in their books, so it’s always nice to come across a protagonist who has a really great relationship with her parents.

Charlie herself is a sweetheart of a character. Unfailingly loyal, generous and selfless, this brave heroine puts her loved ones’ needs before her own. Even in the midst of her city being bombed, she doesn’t shirk away from her protective instincts and always looks out for her friends.

Her bleeding heart also leads her to save the life of a girl that’s been nothing but mean to her.

Another  person of interest is Brooklyn, Charlie’s best friend.

I admit to instinctively distrusting and taking her dislike to her, but she actually proved to be a lot more than I thought she would be. At the moment I’m still trying to decide just how loyal of a friend she is to Charlie, but I suppose that this will only be answered in the next two books.

Her growing relationship with Max was another thing I enjoyed watching unfolding. At first stubbornly refusing to admit to liking him, Max manages to not only wear her defense down, but to show that he does have her best interests at heart.

The secret he harbours  is one that complicates things in a predictable manner, and it’s one that adds somewhat of a forbidden relationship element to the book.

The romantic moments between them practically shimmered with energy – and as the reader, you can’t help but squeal in glee when  tender moments and hot kisses are shared.

With an intriguing cast of characters, old and timeless magic, a ruthless queen who would stop at nothing to get what she wants, and the future of a country resting in the hands of one girl, The Pledge proves to be a book that is so much more interesting than it actually sounds.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

YA Prize Pack giveaway winners

Hi Everyone

I'm sorry this is so late in coming, but I confess to be suffering from the affliction called Holiday laziness. I've just returned to work and trust me when I say that getting back into routine is absolute agony.*Sobs*

Anyway, I've got a couple of fabulous posts planned - most of which will appear during the course of this week and next.

Thanks to everyone who has entered the YA prize pack giveaway - and a special shout out to the new followers of my blog (I'll be popping around to catch up and visit everybody's blogs over the weekend).

If you haven't won this round, don't worry - I've not only got an author e-book giveaway coming your way, but I'm planning another YA giveaway - and this time around, this one will be themed. 

And now - on to the winners of this giveaway:

Congratulations to the following bloggers:

Leanna ( from Daisy Chain Book Reviews) and
Mssenne (A book blogger blogging for Puku.co.za)

Winnters have been notified and will have 72 hours to respond.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Of pretty titles, songs & magic and classic influences

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine. The idea behind this meme is to highlight up and coming releases that we just can't wait to read.

This week I’ve stumbled across three books that really have me excited.  I reckon 2013 is going to be one amazing year for YA fiction, and the books I’ve highlighted below are but a small taste of what we can expect.

I, for one, am particularly excited about the following books: 

All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry

Publication date: July 30th 2013 by St. Martin's Griffin

first book in an exciting YA trilogy, this is the story of two best friends on the verge of a terrifying divide when they begin to encounter a cast of strange and mythical characters.

Set against the lush, magical backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, two inseparable best friends who have grown up like sisters—the charismatic, mercurial, and beautiful Aurora and the devoted, soulful, watchful narrator — find their bond challenged for the first time ever when a mysterious and gifted musician named Jack comes between them.

Suddenly, each girl must decide what matters most: friendship, or love.

What both girls don’t know is that the stakes are even higher than either of them could have imagined.

They’re not the only ones who have noticed Jack’s gift; his music has awakened an ancient evil—and a world both above and below which may not be mythical at all. The real and the mystical; the romantic and the heartbreaking all begin to swirl together, carrying the two on journey that is both enthralling and terrifying.

And it’s up to the narrator to protect the people she loves—if she can.

Mythical creatures + musically inclined boy = win. Also, I’ve always been a sucker for a pretty book title and this one, paired with its equally gorgeous cover, just screams “please read me now!”

The second book on my WoW list is: 

Thorn Abbey by Nancy Ohlin

Publication date: May 7th 2013 by Simon Pulse

Nothing is as it seems in this darkly romantic tale of infatuation and possession, inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.

Becca was the perfect girlfriend: smart, gorgeous, and loved by everyone at New England’s premier boarding school, Thorn Abbey. But Becca’s dead. And her boyfriend, Max, can’t get over his loss.

Then Tess transfers to Thorn Abbey. She’s shy, insecure, and ordinary—everything that Becca wasn’t. And despite her roommate’s warnings, she falls for brooding Max.

Now Max finally has a reason to move on. Except it won’t be easy. Because Becca may be gone, but she’s not quite ready to let him go…

Um… inspired by the classic gothic romance novel, Rebecca?… how could I NOT want to read this? I can barely contain my excitement. May 7th better come soon. I’m in book swoons over this novel.

Finally, we have: 

Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield

Publication date: May 7th 2013 by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Lucy’s Chantress magic will make her the most powerful—and most hunted—girl in England.“Sing, and the darkness will find you.”

This warning has haunted fifteen-year-old Lucy ever since she was eight and shipwrecked on a lonely island.

Lucy’s guardian, Norrie, has lots of rules, but the most important is that Lucy must never sing. Not ever.

Now it is 1667, Lucy is fifteen, and on All Hallows’ Eve, Lucy hears a tantalizing melody on the wind. She can’t help but sing—and she is swept into darkness.

When she awakes in England, Lucy hears powerful men discussing Chantresses—women who can sing magic into the world. They are hunting her, but she escapes and finds sanctuary with the Invisible College, an organization plotting to overthrow the nefarious Lord Protector.

The only person powerful enough to bring about his downfall is a Chantress. And Lucy is the last one in England.

Lucy struggles to master the song-spells and harness her power, but the Lord Protector is moving quickly. And her feelings for Nat, an Invisible College apprentice and scientist who deeply distrusts her magic, only add to her confusion…

Time is running out, and the fate of England hangs in the balance in this entrancing novel that is atmospheric and lyrical, dangerous and romantic.

Music, song & magic? I’d NEVER pass this one up. Luckily, May is not so far away in the grand scheme of things… right?

That's it from me for this week. What's on your Wow list? Feel free to share your list of links below.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Author guest post: Nerine Dorman’s top 10 Indie/Small press reads

And now, for something a little different…

I’d like to welcome South African author Nerine Dorman, who’ll be guest posting on my blog today.

Since it’s been a while since I’ve done something on the urban fantasy front, and with self-published and Indie books becoming increasingly popular, I’ve invited Nerine, who happens to work closely with numerous of these highly underrated authors, to chat to us about her favourite books within this spectrum.

I will be reviewing two of Nerine’s books on my blog at a later stage, so be sure to be on the lookout for that. I’ve already read one of her books and absolutely adored it – her characters are awesome and her writing is simply gorgeous (Ha, I dare you not to have a crush on the vampire in What Sweet Music They Make).

But, more on that later. Without further ado, I’m handing over to Nerine (who by the way, is absolutely lovely in person too).

My Top 10 Indie Reads 

What I absolutely adore about working as a mainly small press/indie editor/book reviewer/bibliophile is the fact that I encounter fresh literary voices I’d never have found otherwise. 

While traditionally published books regularly land on my desk, I’m often approached by small presses and indie authors who request reviews.

Or, as editor, I end up working with an author and totally falling in love with their writing.

Small press and indie publishing is where genre fiction that is hard to classify gets its opportunity to shine and, while these stories may not find mainstream attention, they nonetheless have merit and will appeal to readers looking for something different.
To give a definitive top ten of indie/small press titles is totally impossible, because every reader will have a different favourites list, so instead I’m going to chat about some of my most recent reading/editing highlights, and encourage you to go feed your preferred electronic reading device or, where possible, order the book in print.

(And if you haven’t already considered moving over to a kindle/Kobo/iPad then this is a great opportunity to do so. Hint: you can download the apps for kindle and Kobo onto your smartphone, computer or tablet.)

A few years ago I encountered Carrie Clevenger  on a forum belonging to the gothic metal band A Pale Horse Named Death.

We had our love of music in common, but then she dropped that she’d been running a popular blog serial entitled Crooked Fang, in which the main character was a bass-playing vampire named Xan Marcelles.

My interest was piqued, I took a look, and instantly fell in love with the smart-mouthed muso vamp who has a penchant for finding trouble. My inner editor made grabby fingers, and I convinced Carrie to let me be her editor.

The rest, as they say, is history. Crooked Fang blends elements of noir with gritty urban fantasy underpinned with its own soundtrack. 

If you preferred Anne Rice’s vision for vampire-kind, then Carrie is a new generation to continue the classic legacy. A hint: she’s also a fantastic writer of flash fiction, which she puts up at her blog, and has a short story coming out in Paul D Brazill’ Drunk on the Moon II anthology.

With all the people going on about the BDSM Series We Will Not Name, I thought it necessary to point out that the genre has a long-standing history before the phenomenon that swept through bookstores globally, and that there are loads of authors who are deserving of notice.

Cari Silverwood  is one such author, and I’ve beta-read many of her BDSM erotica titles, and officially edited her historical BDSM erotica novel, Rough Surrender.

If the idea of a woman pilot in Cairo, Egypt during the early 1900s, who experiences her sexual awakening at the hands of a master tickles your fancy, then give Rough Surrender a try.

But invest in a fan too while you’re at it. You’re going to need it.

Cari has struck the perfect balance between writing scorching heat and a beautiful romance with more than just a coat-hanger of a plot.

Her most recent release, The Dom with a Safeword, was co-written with Sorcha Black and Leia Shaw, and is worth picking up if ménage a trois is your thing.

I honestly can’t get enough of The Wolf Within series by Amy Lee Burgess.

A few years ago I started reading her The Circle blog serial and ended up convincing her to write something to submit to me when I was still an editor at Lyrical Press.

We started out with book one, Beneath the Skin, and while I’ve moved on to being a freelance editor, I still beta read for Amy, and she keeps putting out more about the much-loved wolf shifter Stanzie.

Amy writes with a lyrical honesty, offers unforgettable characters and stories within stories that gradually grow in depth and breadth.

She is a keen observer of human (and wolf) behaviour, and will leave you breathless with wonder or clutching at the edge of your seat worrying whether Stanzie will pull through her ordeals. 

Sonya Clark  is one of the slush pile finds I absolutely adore.

I edited her first novella, Bring it On, as well as her first novel-length work, Mojo Queen, whose follow-up, Red House, continues the doings of her magical-wielding protagonist, Roxanne Mathis, and her vampire sidekick Daniel.
There’s also a devious sexy sorcery, who’s often a cause of much trouble.

Sonya loves music, which is a large reason why I was attracted to her writing in the first place, and not only does she weave a fantastic story and memorable characters, but she takes you on a journey that will have your mouse hand straying to YouTube to hear the songs about which she enthuses.

This lady is a fresh voice in the urban fantasy genre who will soon be giving the established traditional names a run for their money. Yes. She is destined for big things.

DC Petterson lurks about the edges of social media, so he isn’t going to be one of those authors who shouts out about how wonderful his writing is, so I’m going to have to be the one to do it because A Melancholy Humour is one of my best editor finds.

If you love Stephen King and Dean Koontz, you’re going to enjoy DC Petterson.

He explores ancient Italian folklore combined with the werewolf mythos, and evokes a world in scent and sound.

I can hear the Italian-American accents and feel like I’m right *there* with the characters.

Walk in the footsteps of Vince, an erstwhile NYC profiler who’s unwillingly thrust into the centre of a hunt to find a serial killer in his childhood home.

Vince has his own demons to confront, while a dangerous predator threatens those whom he holds dear.

Ireland is a country filled with history, magic and mystery, and I recently had the privilege of editing storyteller Rab Swannock Fulton’s novella, Transformation. Be warned: this might start out as a romance, but it’s not.

This dark, somewhat cautionary tale skirts at the edge of madness and obsession, and incorporates Irish myths.

Donnacha finds the love of his life, but he’s threatened by a malignant goat-like entity that makes a mockery of the deep, abiding love the young man feels for his lover.

I could almost hear Rab’s voice as I read, and I remain simultaneously haunted and enchanted by this tale.

If you have a chance to visit the Emerald Isle, do yourself a favour and make an effort to attend one of Rab’s shows. He is a consummate teller of tales. 

Sea of Trees by Robert James Russell is a review book that landed on my desk this year which left me chilled and haunted.

Aokigahara is known as the Sea of Trees in Japan, and is also a suicide hotspot in the country.

It’s unclear as to why Aokigahara is so popular for the suicidal, but it’s a site that’s been used for many years, so perhaps it has crept into the subconscious of the Japanese people, and Robert interweaves his primary story arc with vignettes exploring the deaths of a number of folk who seek their end in the spooky forest.

This is not an easy story to read but it’s by far one of the most memorable finds I’ve encountered, and has become firmly lodged as a favourite.  

If you’re as tired as I am of glittery vampires that try to live a “vegetarian” diet, Serenity J Banks offers the antidote.

The Left Hand is a return to classic horror, where the vampire is a relentless, bloodthirsty beast, and a mysterious, enigmatic man known as Calif Cryste is the only one who stands between humankind and a plague of monsters.

This is a rich, textured read that toys with the messiah archetype in a world shot to hell.

I’ve marked The Left Hand as a potential reread, because I suspect there’s a lot going on here that I missed the first time round. Unsettling and violent, this story also offers strangeness in lucid detail of mythic proportions.

Ever wondered about Asia’s upcoming fantasy authors? J Damask brings Singapore’s magic to life in her offerings Wolf at the Door and Obsidian Moon, Obsidian Eye.

This is the real thing, an author who straddles the vast heritage of the mystical Orient with the well-trod paths of the West, and who better to bring this vision to life than someone who draws her heritage from both?

Damask and I have walked a long path as author and editor, and I’ve grown to love her wolf shifter Jan, and the huge cast of assorted Myriad (as she names her supernaturals).

Tigers, vampires, fairies, dragons—you’ll find them populating the streets of Damask’s Singapore.

She understands why I love the sound of the wind in casuarina trees.  

Aleksandr Voinov has completely stolen my heart, because not only does he write sexually charged m/m situations, but he backs this up with thrilling storytelling where the plot is as important as the interaction between the lead characters.

Dark Soul 1 and 2 are the first two in a series of his that I’ve read so far detailing forbidden pleasures in the Italian mafia.

Mafia boss Stefano and hired killer Silvio share an undeniable attraction in a world where the slightest mistake can have devastating consequences. Aleks has me at the edge of my seat with his writing.
Not only is he a master of suspense, but he understands the art of writing scorching scenes.

Give him a chance if you’re looking for an introduction to the genre. This author knows exactly what he’s doing and he’ll spoil you for all the others.
Bio: A Cape Town-based author, editor, blogger and reviewer, Nerine Dorman has a passion for the written word.

Feel free to query her for editing rates at nerinedorman@gmail.com.

Stalk her on Twitter @nerinedorman.
Visit her blog.
Check out her Goodreads profile.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Win a YA prize pack!

Hi everyone

So to kick off a new year of book blogging, I thought it would only be appropriate to start off with a giveaway.

Because it’s been a while since I’ve done one, I’m giving 2 winners the chance to each win a prize pack consisting of one of my favourite 2012 reads and a 2013 release:

My favourite 2012 reads include:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Adorkable by Sarra Manning
Saving June by Hannah Harrington
Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins
When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (The UK edition, which was released in 2012)

2013 titles:
For the 2013 release, you get to choose whichever book you’d like.

Here’s how it’s going to work:
  • There will be 2 winners.
  • Each winner will get to choose 2 books.
  • One of the books you need to choose will need to come from my 2012 favourites listed above.

Rules for the giveaway:

  1. To enter, please leave a comment on this post telling me which book you’re most looking forward to reading this year and why.
  2. In your comment, please also state which books you’re most interested in winning and provide me with a means of contacting you.
  3. Being a follower of this blog is not required, but is always appreciated.
  4. Tweeting about this giveaway or leaving a comment on any other of my posts isn’t a must, but again, will very much be appreciated.
  5. This giveaway will run from now until Friday, 11 January.
  6. Winners will be contacted via e-mail.
  7. The giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY as long as the Book Depository ships to your country.
  8. NB: You must have a book/writing/goodreads blog or profile of some sort

    UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed.