Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Review: The Little Woods by McCormick Templeman

by McCormick Templeman
Release Date: July 10th, 2012
2012 Random House Children's Books
Ebook Edition; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-375-86943-3
ASIN: B00735HC38
Genre: Fiction / Young Adult / Mystery
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

Are the woods behind St. Bede's Academy really haunted, or does bad stuff just happen there? When Calista Wood, a new student, arrives midway through her junior year, St. Bede's feels like a normal school . . . until she discovers that a girl had disappeared a couple of months earlier. Some kids think she ran away, others think she was murdered, but it's only when Cally starts digging around that she finds the startling truth.

My Thoughts
The Little Woods is one of those boarding school novels that I seem to be very drawn to reading, and although the world/setting created here was totally cliched, I really liked it.  Perhaps in my younger days I would have loved to have attended one of these schools, although I would have also been a scholarship student and not one of the 'rich' crowd, that's for sure.  Anyways, the descriptions of the campus and the dorms were pretty detailed and gave the reader a pretty good sense of the school in general; it was definitely a very competitive and elitist school.

I'm of two minds about most of the characters in this novel as many of them seemed to have different sets of morals, one for themselves and one for others.  It seemed to be okay for one group of people to do things, such as fool around behind other people's backs and to do drugs, but it seemed to be different for other people to do the same things, and these people were often shunned or shut out.  I wasn't sure what to think about the morality of these young people, even of Cally herself.  I did like her most of the time, but I can't say I empathized with her completely as I didn't fully understand her.  She tended to be on the lazy side and would rather rely on her memory gifts in order to achieve her marks instead of studying; and in the highly competitive world in which she found herself, she was no longer the really bright student anymore and her grades were often slipping as a result.  And her reaction to the difficulties of her love life?  It didn't really seem to fit in with her personality.  I can't really explain it other than to say the whole love triangle felt off.  Don't get me wrong though, I liked the characters and I enjoyed many of the interactions between them, but something always just felt off to me.  Maybe it's because I work with this age group on a daily basis and their vocabulary (you have to check some of those words out!!) and some of their behaviours didn't necessarily ring true as normal teenagers. 

The actual mystery didn't play a huge role in the novel, and I found it to be pretty predictable.  While the overall plot was decently paced, the story behind Cally's sister disappearance didn't play a huge role and it was more about Cally finding her place in the academy and discovering who her true friends were amongst all the false friendships. There were also many other events that happened that seemed to come out of nowhere and I kind of went, when did that happen? or How did I miss that? And other concepts were created that seemed to really go nowhere and I was left at the end going, But what's going on with so and so? With so many secrets and untruths floating around, Cally managed to alienate people by asking too many personal questions and delving too deeply into personal things, but at the same time she unearthed things about herself she didn't necessarily like. There seemed to be a lot of self-reflection happening and I found that interesting.  I do have to admit that the author's writing has a way of keeping you engaged in the story, even if the plot is superficial at best.  She does this through her wonderful character development and I never really knew if the characters were on Cally's side or against her. 

The Little Woods was an interesting look at another boarding school, and while overall, I enjoyed the novel, I did find some aspects to be somewhat distracting.  I really felt that this novel had the potential to be really good, but it tended to fall flat in certain areas, mainly with the plot and the vocabulary and some of the characters, including Cally.  For readers interested in novels about boarding school, you may feel differently about this novel, so check it out.  Because I liked the style of writing in this novel, I am definitely going to check out her next novel, The Glass Casket, which is pitched as a twisted retelling of Snow White.

Guest Post: Lisa Sanchez

I am pleased to welcome Lisa Sanchez, author of Faythe Reclaimed, released May 15th, 2012, who is here today to discuss her "Top Five Lists".  Take a look and see if you can come up with your fun top-five lists.

My Top Five Lists

Most of us, myself included, have a list of favorites. Some of our lists consist of favorite foods, favorite books, favorite movies, etc. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a list of book boyfriends and a list of hottie actors you’d love to get at should your significant other ever kick the bucket (yes, yes, I realize how bad that sounds.) Trust me, most guys have a list too.

So, without further ado, I give you my top five book boyfriends, and my top-five hottie actors. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Lisa’s Top Five Book Boyfriends:
  1. Butch from J.R. Ward’s Lover Revealed- He’s a dirty talker and I wuv him. ‘Nuff said.
  2. Jamie Fraser from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series- Jamie was my first book boyfriend. He’s hot, hulking and shmexy, and the only man I don’t mind in a kilt. Love him!
  3. Edward Cullen from Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series- Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know what you’re thinking. He’s bossy and overprotective. Sometimes I like to be bossed around. Just sayin’.
  4. Jericho Barrons from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series-Holy hotness. He’s big, he’s Alpha and he’s one of a kind.
  5. John Matthew from J.R. Ward’s BDB series- Words cannot express the absolute love I have for this guy. He’s big. He’s beautiful, and he’s mute. The perfect guy, right?
Lisa’s Top Five Hottie Actors:
  1. Ryan Reynolds- He is, in my opinion, the hottest man on the planet. Beautiful face. Beautiful body, and funny to boot. I love, love, love him!
  2. Ryan Gosling- I’ve loved this guy since the first time I watched The Notebook. So pretty.
  3. Kellan Lutz- Whoa, baby! He’s blond, muscular, and who I picture when I think of Quinn from Eve Of Samhain. Hawtness!!
  4. Zac Efron- This bad boy is a newbie to my list. He’s always been pretty, but a bit boyish, in my opinion. I just saw The Lucky One with some of my girlfriends, and I’m very happy to say Mr. Efron has graduated from boy, to man, quite nicely. Woohoo!
  5. Chris Hemsworth- Yeah… I’ve got mad love for Thor. Can’t wait to see this guy in Snow White and the Huntsman. Shmexy!
Running through a strange forest with a bloodthirsty demon hot on her heels wasn’t Taylor’s idea of a rockin’ evening. Then again, neither was soaring backward through time and space. Time travel chafed and left a rank, nasty aftertaste. So, when she finds herself floundering amidst a sea of Commandment-loving holy rollers who fling accusations of witchcraft and bedevilment like hotcakes in a diner, finding her way home jumps to the top of her to do list. Too bad she can’t remember who she is or where she came from. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Taylor realizes she’s falling for the mysterious Latin warlock living on the edge of Salem Village, Gabriel Castillo.

Battling an identity crisis and lost in a time that’s not her own, Taylor is determined to find her way back to twenty-first century Hanaford Park. But first, she and Gabriel must work together to uncover the dark scourge lurking in the shadows of Salem Village, and in doing so, save their lives, and the lives of countless innocents from a lethal date with the hangman’s noose.

Available at:

About the author:
Lisa Sanchez is a California cheer mom taxiing her way through life, one car ride at a time. Along with chauffer, she sports several job titles, including, but not limited to: author, chef, seamstress, videographer, nurse, enforcer, and general slave to her three daughters.

The first two books in her Hanaford Park series (Eve Of Samhain, Pleasures Untold) are published with Omnific Publishing. The third book, Faythe Reclaimed, releases with Tulipe Noire Press on May 17th 2012. Her erotic suspense, Obsessed was published March 29th 2011 with Loose Id. Lisa also took the plunge into self-publishing this year and released the first novella, Cursing Athena, in her new Order Of Seven erotic paranormal romance series.
Twitter: @LisaSanchez3

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Review: The Prophet by Amanda Stevens

by Amanda Stevens
Release Date: April 24th, 2012
2012 Mira
Ebook Edition; 352 Pages
ISBN: 978-0778313397
Genre: Fiction / Paranormal
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

4 / 5 Stars

I am the Graveyard Queen, a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. My father passed down four rules to keep me safe and I've broken every last one. A door has opened and evil wants me back.

In order to protect myself, I've vowed to return to those rules. But the ghost of a murdered cop needs my help to find his killer. The clues lead me to the dark side of Charleston—where witchcraft, root doctors and black magic still flourish—and back to John Devlin, a haunted police detective I should only love from afar.Now I'm faced with a terrible choice: follow the rules or follow my heart.

My Thoughts
The Prophet is the third novel is the Graveyard Queen Series and I have to admit I am quite addicted to this series.  In this installment, Amelia returns to her beloved Charleston in the hopes of dealing with the very things which sent her to Asher Falls in the first place, mainly a couple of ghosts and a desirable, but totally haunted police detective named Devlin.  Having been raised to avoid the ghosts that surround her, Amelia continues to break the rules laid down by her father those many years ago and soon she is swept up into the same events that sent her fleeing into the night several months earlier.  What I particularly loved about this novel is that the same Gothic eeriness and creepiness that was in the first two novels is still to be found in this third novel and I was soon caught up in the creepy events that surround Amelia on a constant basis.  Everything just drips with that creepy flavour and I love it.

In this novel, Amelia seems to come out of her shell a bit more and takes a more aggressive approach to dealing with her Devlin problem.  Rather than running from him much of the time, she seems to be more considerate of what he is going through and much more willing to help him face the truth of what he is dealing with as well as explaining to him her own personal issues.  I think for the first time she sees her talents as a gift rather than a hindrance and something to fear and although the author has just touched the surface of this, it will definitely be interesting to see where this leads as so far there has only just been hints and innuendos.  I enjoyed the developing relationship between Amelia and Devlin as they learn to trust each other; I especially like the fact that there is so much more so learn as Devlin seems to have so many layers to him.  We learn so much more about his relationship to Miriama in this novel and I loved what I learned as it was pretty interesting, if a little twisted.  Shani is such a cute little ghost; it almost makes me want to see a ghost of my own (almost, but not quite).

The story unfolded along more predictable lines than in previous novels and although there were definitely many twists and turns, I was able to figure out who was responsible for the deaths in the end.  However, the storytelling was so well-done that it didn't really matter too much and I enjoyed the journey very much.  Amelia gets to explore the paranormal on different levels, and we get lessons on ancient African cultural traditions as well as on potions and spells and powders.  It's rather fascinating and it's one of the reasons why I am so drawn to Charleston (and New Orleans) in my reading and traveling.

The Prophet is another fine addition to a fun and fascinating paranormal series.  I enjoyed the development of the various characters as well as the introduction of new characters I hope will be around for a long time. Although I know these books were originally contracted as a trilogy, I am hopeful that the series will continue and that a new novel will soon be forthcoming.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Review: The Opposite of Tidy by Carrie Mac

by Carrie Mac
Release Date: June 10th, 2012
2012 Razorbill
Softcover Edition; 361 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-14-318091-3
Genre: Fiction / Young Adult / Contemporary
Source: Review Copy from Penguin

3.5 / 5 Stars

Fifteen-year-old Junie is barely coping. Her mother has started sleeping in the chair in front of the TV, and the house is so packed with junk, newspapers, cupboard organizers and other helpful items from the Shopping Channel that she can barely get in the front door.

So when Wade Jaffre, the hot new guy at school, offers her a ride home from school, it seems too good to be true. But as they approach her house, her parents are outside, screaming at each other. Junie doesn’t have to think twice about directing him on to her best friend Tabitha’s house, nor about continuing the charade of pretending she lives there.

Tabitha and her mother are understanding—and willing to go along, for the moment. But as the weeks go by, Junie’s lies start piling up and the opportunity to tell the truth seems to slip away. Until the day Junie’s world—and her mother’s—is literally turned inside out for the world to see, and Junie and her mother must face the consequences of her mother’s illness ... and the lies they both told to hide it.

My Thoughts
The Opposite of Tidy was an interesting, and heart-breaking, look at the life of a fifteen-year-old girl whose life has been completely turned upside down by her mother's hoarding, her father's denial and avoidance, and the lies she has told to keep the world from finding out what is truly happening at home.  It is inevitable that everything would soon come to a head, and this novel deals with the consequences of people of who don't face up to their problems and the long-term effects it can have on everyone around them.

I really enjoyed this novel and found the relationships among the characters to be interesting and rather complex.  This is not a situation to which I can relate, even though my grandmother was a bit of a hoarder; her hoarding never ran to the extreme such as this but was the result of the Great Depression and I learned very quickly as a child to check the expiry date on cans she set me to get in her basement.  This is extreme hoarding and there was one scene in particular that was quite disturbing (I wish I could describe it here, but it would spoil the novel).  The conversations about whether or not hoarding is a mental illness or not were very interesting, but I felt they didn't go far enough in this novel to really explain it fully as a mental illness.  I just felt it was somewhat on the light side and to me, there is nothing light about this.

Junie was very easy to empathize with and I felt so bad for her and the situation in which she found herself.  She is a young girl and many young people are not always fully aware of their options when it comes to getting help.  She realizes in this novel that she has often been left alone to parent herself and luckily she has a great friend to always stand beside her.  I felt for Tabitha as well as she wanted to intervene so often but was caught by the ties of friendship; she even admits that she should have done something a long time ago but it was difficult.  I wonder if that's why people don't always intervene, because they are afraid of doing so or because they are too close to the situation and kind of put blinders on to what is happening.  I see it all the time in my job as I deal with young people on a daily basis.  While it was nice to see Junie's mom get some help, I did feel like the ending was a wrapped up a little too easily and too quickly.  I can't really put my finger on it and I don't want to give away too much, but although it's acknowledged that it takes years of therapy for people to resolve their issues in regards to hoarding, I just felt like things ended on too 'sweet' of a note.  

The Opposite of Tidy takes a look at a much-needed mental illness, from the viewpoint of the children.  Junie was someone in whom I could easily relate as I understood her anger and her fear that someone would discover her big secret and her shame.  The writing style was light and easy, almost too light for some of the content presented in this novel, and I thought the concept of mental illness surrounding hoarding could have been delved into a big more.  That being said, I would recommend this book as I truly enjoyed reading it.  I honestly cannot imagine anyone living like this and I hope that this novel opens people's eyes to anyone they think might have a hoarding problem and to somehow get them the help they need.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Review: Corpse in the Crystal Ball by Kari Lee Townsend

by Kari Lee Townsend
Release Date: June 5, 2012
2012 Berkley Prime Crime
Paperback Copy; 294 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-425-25133-1
Genre: Fiction / Cozy Mystery
Source: Review Copy from Penguin

3.5 / 5 Stars

After clearing her name as the prime suspect in a murder, Sunny Meadows hopes she can finally enjoy some serenity in the idyllic town of Divinity in upstate New York. She’d also like a second chance with Detective Mitch Stone. But when Mitch’s gorgeous ex-girlfriend Isabel Gonzales shows up, Sunny’s not sure she can compete. Then Isabel mysteriously disappears.

When the police turn to Sunny for help, her visions lead to the discovery of Isabel’s corpse in the woods. Before she died, Isabel scrawled in the dirt a message implicating Mitch in her murder. Now Sunny must help the man she’s falling in love with as she sets out to find the real killer. But this time Sunny’s clairvoyant abilities might not save her–as what she doesn’t see can hurt her…

My Thoughts 
Corpse in the Crystal Ball was a fun and delightful cozy mystery.  The second in the series, it features a very entertaining fortune teller named Sunny who seems to get herself in all sorts of predicaments and a serious, moody police detective who doesn't think highly of Sunny's 'special' talents and abilities.

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't sure what to expect before I started reading this one as Sunny kind of drive me nuts in the first novel.  I found her to be somewhat immature and the way she spoke was irritating at times.  Luckily, a lot of that had been muted in this second installment and I found her to be a lot easier to take.  Her overly (and you'll have to forgive the pun) 'sunny' disposition was downplayed and she tended to be a bit moodier as she dealt with her messed up love life as well as the complications from the murder investigation, something that I enjoyed a bit more.  And I didn't cringe this time when her parents showed up as I did in the first novel, as those scenes weren't as painful this time.  In fact, with Granny Gert along to help, Sunny seemed to have developed a bit of a backbone which made things a bit easier.  I definitely enjoyed her a lot more and found her scrapes to be more amusing rather than irritating.  Don't get me wrong as there is nothing negative about having a spunky personality, but I think you will have to read the novels in order to understand.

Granny Gert I just loved.  What a character!  And the scenes with her and Morty were priceless.  There is one scene with Granny I just adored (but I can't share as it's a spoiler alert), and I just laughed hysterically as I figured out what was going on before the 'evidence' was revealed in the novel.  To be honest, the rest of the characters and personalities in Divinity are a lot of fun as there are so many quirky people surrounding Sunny and Mitch.  It definitely makes things fun and interesting and it makes me curious as to what will happen next.

The mystery itself I didn't find to be too complicated.  The author tried to wind Sunny's personal life around a variety of twists and turns, but I think anyone who is familiar with this style of novel or who has read a lot of suspense and mystery will probably catch on to the who-dun-it fairly quickly.  It didn't take away from the enjoyment of the novel or from getting to know the characters as I just spent my time trying to visualize how the confrontation will take place.  

Corpse in the Crystal Ball was full of interesting and quirky characters.  While I didn't find the mystery to be a challenge, I fully enjoyed the story and seeing relationships and personalities develop.  I would have liked to delve a bit more into the paranormal aspect of the series and discover a bit more about Sunny's house and Morty, but I guess that will have to wait until future books.   I, for one, will definitely be reading Trouble in the Tarot when it releases in 2013.
Thursday, June 21, 2012

ThrillerFest VII!!

It's soon to be that time of year again, the time of "spooks and eerie chills and suspense" as ThrillerFest VII returns to New York City July 11-14.  Featuring the thriller novel and luring the adrenaline junkie, ThrillerFest features some of the best authors in the field.  Jack Higgins is this year's ThrillerMaster and spotlight authors including Catherine Coulter, Richard North Patterson, Karin Slaughter, John Sandford, and Lee Child.  Ann Rule is the recipient of the True Thriller Award this year and last year's ThrillerMaster, R.L. Stine (gotta love those Goosebump books), will also be in attendance.  Today, I am featuring Richard North Patterson as a lead-in to an amazing event.

Excerpt from Fall From Grace
Sliding into the taxi, Adam Blaine told the cabbie where to drop him, and resumed his moody contemplation of his father.
     The driver, a woman in her fifties, stole a glance at him in the rearview mirror. Though it was his practice in such proximity to be pleasant, Adam remained quiet. The past consumed him: he had returned to Martha’s Vineyard, the home he had once loved, for the first time in a decade. Benjamin Blaine had made this possible by dying.
     Leaving the airport, they took the road to Edgartown, passing woods and fields on both sides. At length, the driver said, “Forgive me, but aren’t you related to Benjamin Blaine, the novelist?”
     For a moment, Adam wished that he could lie. “I’m Adam. His son.”
     The woman nodded. “I saw you play basketball in high school. Even then you looked just like him.”
     It was inescapable, Adam knew: for the rest of his life, he would look in the mirror and see a man he loathed.
     “I’m so sorry for your loss,” the woman continued quietly. “I drove him to the airport several times. Such a vigorous, handsome man, so full of life. To die like that is tragic.”
     Was it tragic for his mother, Adam wondered, or would release from Ben Blaine’s dark vortex be an unspoken mercy? “It was certainly a shock,” he responded. But not as much of a shock, he thought to himself, as the last time I saw him.
    Understanding none of this, the driver said sympathetically, “I guess you came back for the funeral—I can’t remember seeing you in years. Where do you make your home now?”
    “Everywhere and nowhere.” Adam paused, then deployed his usual cover story. “I’m an agricultural consultant in the third world, helping farmers improve their growing practices. Right now I’m in Afghanistan, on contract with the government.”
    Her eyes in the mirror were curious and perplexed. “Doing what, exactly?”
    Adam chose a tone that implied his own bemusement. “The project’s a little peculiar. I survey land, and try to encourage the locals to consider growing something other than poppies. In Afghanistan, the Taliban turns opium into guns.”
    Her face darkened. “That sounds dangerous.”
    Adam kept his voice casual. “Maybe, if it weren’t so dumb. It’s a dangerous place, it’s true, but I’m well below soldiers and spooks on the hierarchy of risk. Why would the Taliban kill a hapless American on a hopeless mission? I’d be a waste of bullets.”
    Quiet now, the driver steered them through the outskirts of town. When they reached the church, the doors were shut. “I hope you haven’t missed the service,” she said.
    Adam wondered if this mattered. In his heart, he had buried his father ten years ago. But his presence might help three people he deeply loved cope with their ambivalence. Though all had suffered at the hands of Benjamin Blaine, they lacked Adam’s clarity of mind.
    “I imagine I’ll make the eulogy,” he said, and handed the woman an extra twenty. “Can you drop my suitcase at the Blaine house?”
    “Jack, or Ben?”
    “Ben. Do you remember where it is?”
    The driver nodded. “Sure.”
    Adam thanked her and got out. For a moment he gazed at the Old Whaling Church, absorbing the strangeness of his return. The deep blue sky of a flawless summer day framed the church, an imposing Greek revival with stone pillars and an ornate clock tower, all painted a pristine white. Along with the redbrick courthouse beside it, the church was the focal point of Edgartown, a place Adam thought of as the quintessential New England theme park—picket fences, manicured lawns, white wooden homes built in the 1800s. Though the church was now a performing arts center, it was the only place of worship on Martha’s Vineyard, past or present, which could accommodate the hundreds of people who wished to honor a famous man. Had he foreseen his death, Benjamin Blaine would have
chosen it himself.
    A policeman guarded the door. On the steps reporters or curiosity seekers had clustered, perhaps eager for a glimpse of the statesmen, writers, actors, and athletes who counted themselves as Ben’s friends. Standing taller, Adam strode toward them. He even moved like his father, he remembered people saying, with his father’s grace and vigor. As he reached the steps, the curse of their resemblance struck again.
    “Adam Blaine?” A young woman blocked his path, her look of birdlike alertness accentuated by quick, jerky movements of her head. “I’m Amanda Ferris of the National Enquirer.”
    Despite his annoyance, Adam almost laughed in her face—this must be a slow week for Brad and Angelina, or the supposed progeny of Venusians and sub-Saharan adolescents. Instead, Adam brushed past her, ignoring her shrill question, “How do you feel about the circumstances of your father’s death?”
    “I’m Adam Blaine,” he told the burly policeman at the center door, and stepped inside.
The interior was as Adam remembered it, bright and airy, its tall windows on three sides admitting shafts of light.
    As softly as he could, he walked down the center aisle toward the front, glimpsing the varied players in Benjamin Blaine’s restless and protean life—a human rights activist from the Sudan; a veteran war correspondent; a retired Spanish bullfighter; an ex-president; a TV anchor; a young black man whose college education was a gift from Ben; the islanders, a more modest group, many of whom had known Ben all his life. Some of the latter, noting him, registered surprise at his presence. Adam nodded at a few—his old basketball coach, a teacher from third grade—all the while wishing that he could disappear. In the decade of his absence, he had learned to dislike standing out.
    Reaching the first pew, he spotted his mother between his uncle, Jack, and brother, Teddy. He paused, glancing at the casket, then slid between Clarice Blaine and his brother. His mother remained almost perfect in appearance, Adam thought—the refined features, sculpted nose, and composed expression of an East Coast patrician, her blond hair now brightened by artifice. As he gave her a brief kiss on the cheek, her blue eyes filled with gratitude, and she clasped his hand. Then Adam felt Teddy grasp his shoulder. Inclining his head toward his brother, Adam caught the complex smile on Teddy’s sensitive face—fondness for Adam, bemusement at their circumstances. “Can you believe he’s in there?” Teddy whispered. “I’m still afraid this is a prank.”
    Silent, Adam stared at the burnished coffin, the white cloth cover filigreed with gold. However richly Benjamin Blaine deserved the hatred of both sons, the enormity of his death was difficult to absorb—a man in his sixties, still ravenous for life, cut short in so strange a way. How many times, Adam wondered, had Teddy wished aloud to him
for this moment? Yet its reality left Adam with the fruitless, painful wish that he and his father had been different, that he could feel the ache of love and loss instead of this wrenching bitterness, the painful question Why? for which no answer could suffice. He was back, Adam realized, and once more Benjamin Blaine had shattered his illusions.
Adam had not resolved their past. Nor would this service from the Book of Common Prayer, the touchstone of Clarice Blaine’s heritage, provide balm for her sons’ souls. “The trouble with Protestant funerals,” a colleague had remarked to Adam after the murder of a friend, “is that they offer no catharsis.” But for his mother the familiar ritual, that with which she had buried both her parents, might spread the gloss of decorum over the deeper truths of her marriage.
    Standing near the casket, a young Episcopal priest recited the Burial of the Dead: I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. . . . Adam believed none of it. In his recent experience, death was random, ugly, and very final, all too often the work of men whose God commanded these acts. That world, like this service, offered no transcendence. His only comfort was that the survivors loved one another, and now might find some peace. Adam glanced at his mother, then his brother, trying to read their faces. Clarice wore her public expression, a mask of dignity she used to conceal more complicated feelings. But Teddy’s dark eyes, cast now at the polished wooden floor, seemed to hold some anguished memory. At whatever age, Adam knew, some part of us is always a child, feeling pleasure at a parent’s love or the wounds of a parent’s disdain. The man inside the coffin had wounded Teddy long ago, too deeply to forget. From beneath the drone of the service, a memory of their father surfaced unbidden, as much about Teddy as Adam. It was from that final summer, meant to be a bridge between Adam’s first and second years at law school, after which life would become too serious to savor the days of sun and sea and wind so evocative of his youth. The summer that instead transformed Adam’s life completely.
At the helm of his sailboat, Ben grinned with sheer love of the Vineyard waters, looking younger than his fifty-five years, his thick silver-flecked black hair swept back by a stiff headwind. To Adam, he resembled a pirate: a nose like a prow, bright black eyes that could exude anger, joy, alertness, or desire. He had a fluid grace of movement, a physicality suited to rough seas; in profile there was a hatchetlike quality to his face, an aggression in his posture, as though he were forever thrusting forward, ready to take the next bite out of life. “When Benjamin Blaine walks into a room,” Vanity Fair had gushed, “he seems to be in Technicolor, and everyone else in black and white.” As a boy, Adam had wanted nothing more than to be like him.
    On this day, Adam enjoyed his father’s enthusiasm for his classic wooden sailboat. “Well into this century,” Ben had explained when he taught the eight-year-old Adam to sail, “the Herreshoff brothers designed eight consecutive defenders of the America’s Cup. They built boats like this for the richest, most sophisticated families of their time—the Vanderbilts, the Whitneys. I bought this one from your grandfather Barkley.” His voice lowered, to impress on Adam the import of his next words. “To own one is a privilege, but to race one—as you someday will—is a joy. I mean for you to learn the primal joy of winning.”
    On this sail with Adam, fifteen years later, Ben was preparing for racing season yet again, his lust for competition unstaunched. “This is the best thing in the world,” he exclaimed. “Even better than hunting deer. Are you ever going to try that with me?”
    Adam adjusted the mainsail, catching the wind as it shifted. “I doubt it.”
    Ben shot him a look of displeasure. “You’re too much like your mother, Adam. But in this family you’re the only game in town.”
    At once, Adam caught the reference. However demanding their father could sometimes be with Adam, for years Ben had treated Teddy less like a son than an uninvited guest who, to Ben’s surprise and displeasure, kept showing up for dinner. But the role of favorite by default no longer gave Adam pleasure. “So Teddy’s not like us,” he rejoined.
    “So what? I can’t paint, and neither can you. Only Teddy got that gene.”
    “Among others,” Ben said flatly.
    As Ben steered them starboard, gaining speed, Adam felt his own tension, years of too many retorts stifled.
    “Welcome to the twenty-first century,” he replied. “Has it ever occurred to you that Teddy being gay is no different from you and I being left-handed? No wonder he never comes home.” He paused, then ventured more evenly, “Someday people won’t read you anymore. You’ll be left with whoever is left to love you. It’s not too late for Teddy to be one of them.”
    Unaccustomed to being challenged, Ben stared at him. “I know it’s supposed to be genetic. So call me antediluvian, if you like. But genetics gave me a firstborn who feels like a foundling.” His voice slowed, admitting a regretful note.
    “You like the things I like. Teddy never did. He didn’t want to fish or sail or hunt or enjoy a day like this, God’s gift to man. When I wanted someone to toss around a baseball with, you were like a puppy, eager to play. Not Teddy. He just gave me one of his looks.”
    “Did you ever care about what Teddy liked?” Adam paused, then came to the hard truth he too often felt. “Do you love me for me, Dad, or because I’m more like you than he is?”
    Ben’s face closed, his pleasure in the day vanishing. “We’re not the same person, for sure. But we’re alike in ways that seem important. Think of me what you will, but I desire women. I’ve seen almost everything the world contains—wars, poverty, cruelty, heroism, grace, children starving to death, and women treated like cattle or sold into sexual slavery. There’s almost nothing I can’t imagine. But one thing I can’t imagine is you looking at a man
the way you look at Jenny. Teddy sees a man and imagines him naked, lying on his stomach. Assuming,” Ben finished, “that Teddy is even the protagonist of that particular act.”
    In his anger, Adam resolved to say the rest. “I’ve always loved Teddy,” he replied coldly, “and always will. But given how you feel about him, it’s a good thing that he’s in New York. And given how I feel about that, it might be good for you to remember that I’m the son you’ve got left.”
    Ben gave him a level look, deflecting the challenge. “He’s in New York for now,” he said at length. “It’s where artists go to fail. Inside him, Teddy carries the seed of his own defeat. My guess is that he’ll slink back here, like Jack did. The larger world was a little too large for him.”
    Listening, Adam marveled at the casual ease with which Ben had slipped in his disdain for his older brother. “Just who is it that you do respect, Dad?”
    “Many people,” Ben answered. “But in this family?” He paused, regarding Adam intently. “You, Adam. At least to a point.”
    Staring at his father’s coffin, Adam wished that he had never learned what that point what.  In kinship, he placed his hand on Teddy’s shoulder.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Author Interview: Jennifer Malone Wright

I am pleased to welcome Jennifer Malone Wright, author of the The Vampire Hunter's Daughter series, who is here today to answer a few questions about her series as well as talk to us about some of the things she is working on.  The Vampire Hunter's Daughter series is the story of a young girl, 14 year old Chloe, who witnesses the death of her mother by vampires, and is rescued by a group of vampire hunters.  Kept hidden from her family for most of her life, Chloe is bewildered and confused by what she is learning and sets out to unveil the truth as well as seek revenge on the vampire who killed her mother.

Interview with Jennifer Malone Wright

1) To start off, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?  How did you become interested in writing novels?
I love to read, and have been writing since I was in grade school. I wanted to write like the authors of the novels, but also because I just loved writing.

2) Can you tell us a little about your novel? What is it like to create your own world?
The Vampire Hunter’s Daughter series is about a girl named Chloe who’s mother was murdered by vampires right in front of her. The vampires almost kidnap her but she is suddenly rescued by a group of vampire hunters. They take her home to their community and she finds out that she is related to the vampire hunters, namely, her grandfather whom she has never met. The vampire hunters are a breed, descended from angels and demi-gods, so they have special gifts and are born warriors. In this community they are trained from birth to kill vampires.

Chloe decides to stay, because she wants to train and get tough so she can avenge her mothers death. Around the same time, she discovers that the vampire responsible for killing her mother…is her father.

I love creating my own world. It’s freaking awesome. You can have it anyway you want and that is an amazing feeling. When I decided I wanted the hunters to be descended from angels and demi-gods and did the back story on that, I was super excited.

3) How much research was involved in the writing?
Actually, a lot more than you would think. I research the names of each of my characters and they have a meaning. Greek history and mythology is a huge part of this story and I try to keep that theme going. Chloe, for instance means green shoot in Greek, but her last name, Kallistrate means beautiful army. Because they are hunters, get it. I research backgrounds of some characters and all kinds of other stuff.

4) What was your greatest challenge while writing this novel?  .
The biggest challenge for me is always editing. I suck at it and love my editors more than they will ever know.

5) In this novel, we are introduced to some very interesting and intriguing characters.  Who was the most fun to write about?  Which character presented the biggest challenge?
Chloe is for sure the most fun to write, but I do like writing Christina because she is such and B word. The hardest was Trevor, the bad guy. I didn’t like him and it was showing in my writing, so I had to do a lot of character work on him.

6) What are 3 things that are 'must haves' when you write? Do you have any writing rituals?
Coffee, clean and quiet. My ritual’s are putting my hair up and I must have my ear buds in to really get in the zone.

7) What advice would you give to an aspiring writer? 
My advice is always research everything. Research the industry, research the craft, research your books events, places and characters, everything. It is the best thing you can do for yourself. Also, don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do what you’re doing. Be driven and you will succeed.

8) Can you share with us any projects that you are currently working on or plans for the future? What can fans expect next from you?  Are there other genres in which you are interested but haven't yet explored?
I have several projects in the works. I’m starting the next segment of TVHD but we are calling it the Arcadia Falls Chronicles. There will be more of Chloe, but other characters points of view and stories as well. Then, I’m finishing the second book in my Jaiden series and I’ve started plotting out a post apocalyptic serial novel. I don’t know about changing genres, I might cause I write whatever I feel like.

9) Favourite authors? Role models?
My favorite authors are too hard to choose, but the ones that have influenced me are Anne Rice (of course) Stephen King, V.C Andrews, and I used to read a lot of Christopher Pike when I was young. Lol 

10) Do you have a pivotal point in your life, a point when you knew you would be a writer?  How did it develop?
I knew in grade school. I don’t really have some big elaborate story, I just knew. I’ve always written and it’s always been what I wanted.

11) What do you like to do when you are not writing? What is your ultimate luxury?
Uh… when I’m not writing I like to watch TV and do stuff outside. I don’t get much time without my kids, but I love, love, love to lay out in the sun and read with a big drink.

12) Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?
I’d like to say thank you! Without you, the readers, I wouldn’t be the writer I am.