Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Review: Blood Rush by Ash Krafton

Blood Rush (Demimonde, #2) Blood Rush by Ash Krafton


Sophie doesn't believe in happily ever after. These days, she'd settle for alive after sunrise.

Advice columnist and newly-appointed oracle to the demivampire, Sophie Galen has more issues than a Cosmo collection: a new mentor with a mean streak, a werewolf stalker she can't shake, and a relationship with her ex's family that redefines the term complicated. And then there's her ex himself, who is more interested in playing leader of the vampire pack than in his own salvation.

Becoming a better oracle is tough enough, but when Sophie encounters a deadly enemy - one she never dreamed of facing - it will take everything she's ever learned in order to survive.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My review:

I was so excited to read this book! And now that I'm finished, I'm a little sad. Now I have to wait until next year for Book 3 in this amazing series!

BLOOD RUSH is the much-anticipated sequel to BLEEDING HEARTS, and I must say, this was even better than the first! Advice columnist and newly appointed spiritual leader of the Demivampires, Sophie Galen, has her hands full in this book. She has her day job to contend with, as well as writing advice to those DV who reach out to her for help. Then she has a stalker who keeps her busy finding new apartments. Not to mention the trouble with her ex and his family, who've basically abandoned her for about a year before this story starts because of their own issues. Sophie is a woman tormented. The pain of abandonment, loneliness, loss and serious insecurity about a position where she's learning as she goes about what's needed to help the DV take a toll on her in this one. And Marek. Oh, Marek... I grieved with Sophie so much I wanted to reach into these pages and give her a hug. Luckily, Rodrian helped out with that a bit. He's Marek's brother, and quickly becoming a favorite character of mine. But despite all that, Sophie is strong. She doesn't let the bad business of her past stop her from doing what she thinks is right. Although she struggles, she's determined to not only help herself, but those around her, even her ex.

Ms. Krafton's writing style is addictive. Quirky and spirited, even during the dark moments, I heard Sophie's distinct voice throughout. From the very first line to the very last paragraph, this is a page-turning read. The depth of these characters drew me quickly into the story and I was reluctant to set this book down to attend to my daily chores, like eating and sleeping. Now that I'm finished, I simply cannot wait for the next book! If you enjoy paranormal with a hint of romance or urban fantasy set in a believable world, then I think this book might be for you!

To buy:
Pink Narcissus Press
Barnes & Noble

Author's Links:

View all my reviews

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother is a Beautiful Word

I never really thought about a favorite word until I had children. Mama was the first word each of my children spoke (much to the dismay of my husband who diligently practiced saying 'Dada' to them each day). Their sweet voices calling 'mama' is a sound that will remain forever in my heart.

Even as they grow, and 'Mama' has changed to 'Mommy' and then to 'Mom', each variation holds it's own beauty. Mother is a beautiful word. It holds such power and meaning. My children are my life. They are each a part of me. My body held them, protected them, nourished them. They were born carrying a bit of my heart and soul. After I am gone from this world, my heart will continue to beat in each of theirs.

Never in my life (until 7 years ago!) did I ever imagine I might be a mother. Such a thing was beyond belief. First of all, I feared pain. How could I ever bear the brutality of childbirth? Oh, I've heard the stories. My grandmother glories in describing her three days of gruesome labor during my own mother's birth. Of course, now they have drugs to alleviate the pain, but even then I knew I would not follow that path.

The birth of my firstborn was different than I had ever imagined. It was beautiful. It was 20 hours of waiting for his arrival, focusing on my precious joy instead of the pain, feeling the ghostly presence of my mother at my side holding my hand, the doctor's arrival and stunned surprise to learn that I had refused any drugs. I listened to my baby's heartbeat on the monitors with all the wires taped across my swollen belly. Even as they hurried me into surgery, to bring my son into the world via c-section because of complications, I marveled at the wonder of it all. And when the doctor lifted my 9 lb 5oz child from my womb, I saw the most beautiful baby in the world. I cried at his beauty. At the miracle that my body had created such a perfect creature.

Now, 7 years and 2 more children later, I still recall each of their births with such clarity that I hope never to forget. I have 3 favorite days of the year, 3 days that I celebrate as the most wondrous days in my world. The birthdays of each of my children.

On my own birthday, I think of my mother. Was my birthday one of her favorite days? Did she remember the first time she held me after many hours of labor to bring me into the world? Did she remember with crystal clarity the moment the doctor placed me in her arms and she first looked upon me? Did she cry as I did at the first sight of her baby?
Mom and me

As I've become a mother, I feel closer to my own, even though she's no longer with me. I understand her more now than I ever could before. And as I love the sound of my children calling me 'Mommy' I also love the sound of 'Mom' falling from my lips as I call to her.

And as the word 'mother' holds such meaning to me now, more than ever before, I also realize I have two other favorite words that rival that. Two more words that until a few years ago, I thought never to hold any meaning to me.

Son and Daughter.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mystical Pearls—tears of the moon—in Staurolite: Enchanted Bookstore Legend Four

by Marsha A. Moore

In my new release, Staurolite, the fourth book in the Enchanted Bookstore Legends, I’m expanding and developing the foundation of the magical lore of my fantasy world. The characters find themselves needing the world’s ancient wisdom to solve their own present day problems. The basis of this ages-old magical power is a group of four mystical gemstones that parallel the four Chinese elements of nature: air, earth, fire, and water. These stones serve as four powerful keystones which, together, can empower the good Alliance to overcome the threatening attacks of the evil Dark Realm. There is one controlling master gemstone, the Staurolite, which gives this fourth book its title. 

The gem corresponding to water I’ve chosen to work with is the pearl. When I selected that particular keystone, I considered many attributes that would make it an empowering symbol.

Pearls have been called teardrops of the moon. Others say they that a single pearl forms from a raindrop fallen from the heavens which later becomes the heart of an oyster.

Pearls symbolize purity, innocence, and faith. Magically, a pearl is said to help the wearer open to the meaning of one’s true self, enabling extraordinary foresight and also protection from the evil eye. Interestingly, the magical properties depend on color. Brownish hued pearls enable wisdom, yellowish ones promote wealth, and greenish tints foster happiness. Pearls are believed to be the main ingredient of "immortality elixir". Many carry pearls as talismans to enhance personal integrity, calmness, and balance, clearing the mind to be a channel for wisdom and spiritual guidance. Proponents allege that the pearl helps balance the human body’s natural rhythms and hormone levels with lunar cycles. Pearls are thought to have very strong “magnetic” powers and have been used in “gem therapy” to strengthen nerves.

The Chinese have depended on the healing properties of the pearl for centuries, treating everything from simple eye ailments to serious heart problems, bleeding, fever and indigestion. Even today, the Chinese still use pearl powder as a skin whitener and a cosmetic. 

But the real magic is in beholding a pearl’s beauty and seeing it as a reminder of “all things good and true.” 

In Staurolite, the Pearl of Pendola is the keystone corresponding to the water element. Stolen from its place with the other keystones a thousand years ago, the gem was lost for centuries, buried in an evil enchanted tidal pool. Recovered by one of the early Scribes of the Alliance, the pearl is entrusted to a sea nymph in order to maintain a balance between good and evil in the Sea of Cogadh which separates the Alliance from the Dark Realm. Returning the Pearl of Pendola to the set of original keystones must happen to bring needed power back to the Alliance—an arduous task the present Scribe, Lyra McCauley, must face. Find out more in Staurolite: Enchanted Bookstore Legend Four. 

Staurolite: Enchanted Bookstore Legend Four by Marsha A. Moore
Genre: Epic Fantasy Romance
Lyra McCauley, current Scribe of the Alliance, is the only one who can decode magic hidden in the recently retrieved ancient texts written by her ancestors, the first four Scribes. Information in those writings can help Lyra locate the four missing keystones, which will restore power to the Alliance and allow overthrow of the Dark Realm. With peace restored, she and her beloved, Cullen, could finally marry.

Time is short with the Black Dragon’s Dark Realm increasing attacks to avenge the death of his heir. Many innocent lives are lost. Alliance residents are forced into hiding. Magicals and blue dragons follow leadership of the Imperial Dragon and the other three Guardians into battle to defend the Alliance.

While Lyra unlocks the ancient magic, she opens herself up to scribal powers from her ancestors. She alone can fight the deadliest of the Dark Realm’s forces—the cimafa stealth dragons—but at a cost. The energy flux threatens her health and ability to learn where to find the missing keystones. Can Lyra overcome this shrewd tactic of the Black Dragon to decimate the Alliance?

Enchanted Bookstore Legends (series description):
The Enchanted Bookstore Legends are about Lyra McCauley, a woman destined to become one of five strong women in her family who possess unique magical abilities and serve as Scribes in Dragonspeir. The Scribes span a long history, dating from 1200 to present day. Each Scribe is expected to journey through Dragonspeir, both the good and evil factions, then draft a written account. Each book contains magic with vast implications. 

Lyra was first introduced to Dragonspeir as a young girl, when she met the high sorcerer, Cullen Drake, through a gift of one of those enchanted books. Using its magic, he escorted her into the parallel world of Dragonspeir. Years later, she lost that volume and forgot the world and Cullen. These legends begin where he finds her again—she is thirty-five, standing in his enchanted bookstore, and Dragonspeir needs her.  

When Lyra reopens that enchanted book, she confronts a series of quests where she is expected to save the good Alliance from destruction by the evil Black Dragon. While learning about her role, Lyra and Cullen fall in love. He is 220 years old and kept alive by Dragonspeir magic. Cullen will die if Dragonspeir is taken over by the evil faction…Lyra becomes the Scribe.

Excerpt from Staurolite:
From Chapter One: Ancient Scribal Magic

Lyra propped her head with an elbow against the low library table and rubbed her eyes, paging through the last chapter. She rearranged her weight on the floor cushion and twisted the end of her long braid.
The Tortoise Guardian’s wide, craggy cheek brushed against her forearm.
She jotted a few lines in a notebook and carefully closed the cover of the ancient copy. Her gaze rested on the faded embossed symbols—The Book of Dragonspeir authored by Elisabeth Walsh, the first Scribe.
“Good work. We’ve previewed two of the lost volumes you recovered. One more remains.” The Tortoise retracted his head halfway into his shell. “Take a break. My neck is aching.”
“I want to keep going and skim Scribe Brigid’s book too.” Lyra flipped through her notes.
The heavy wooden door to the lair library banged open. In two strides, the Imperial Dragon stood before them. “We’re under attack! Cimafa stealth dragons have stolen auras of a high order wizard and souls of three non-magicals. They also killed one of our blue sentry dragons.” His flared nostrils were ringed with fire and seeped smoke. A yellow color of concern flashed in the irises of his eyes.
“How?” Lyra rolled off the plush floor cushion, forced her stiff legs to stand, and grabbed her wizard’s staff. “I thought they only went after higher magicals?”
“Attacks from the Dark Realm?” The Tortoise pushed his front legs against the table edge to lift his shell higher.
The Head Guardian nodded. “They’re attacking in small groups for increased strength. Several pairs and trios have simultaneously flown over our Alliance before retreating to the Steppe of Ora into Silva Nocens. Those four people were taken in different places all over the Alliance during the past thirty-six hours. One cimafa attacks the victim, while the others fight our blues. Several sentries are required to battle one cimafa, and we don’t have enough squadrons. They typically sneak over our borders singly to pursue auras that will boost their power—higher magicals, like you said, Lyra. Never have they purposely attacked non-magicals.”
“Can the Guardians fight the cimafa better than sentries?” Lyra asked.
“Yes. We can do more by using our auras, but I will not ask the other three to fight. I’m on my way out to join a patrol, since I’m the most capable. Losing a Guardian would be a tremendous danger. To break the balance of the four elements would seriously harm the strength of the Alliance.” He clasped his foreclaws against his massive chest. “Even I must use control; the great expenditure of Guardian power required to kill a cimafa would temporarily weaken our governance. The blues primarily fight with physical strength, hurling lightning bolts. Unless injured, they can recoup quicker. I alone have the advantage of using both magical and physical means in battle.”
“Do you want me to help?” Lyra asked.
“No. It’s best for all if you continue your studies to unlock the clues from each Book of Dragonspeir. That will reveal a way for the Alliance to overthrow the Dark Realm. As the Scribe, you are the only one who can read the hidden magical code in those texts.” The leader turned toward the door. “I’ll check with you later, when I return.”
“Head Guardian, are the higher magicals helping?” Lyra’s voice caught in her throat. “Is Cullen safe?”
He stooped to miss the upper arch of the door threshold and glanced over his shoulder. “Most are riding the senior sentries to offer additional strike force. Sire Drake will accompany Yord in my squadron.”
Lyra stepped forward, but the Imperial Dragon gave her no chance for discussion, bolting down the stone corridor with tremendous strides. She stared after him, immobilized by the shock of his news and concern for her love. After all that she and Cullen had risked and accomplished, hoping to reach their goal of living together…this didn’t seem possible. Moments ago, a happy life seemed within their grasp. She stared at the gray stone floor, dumbfounded. Their future together, once again, hung by a thread. Her mind filled with a blur of their hard victories won over the past year.

Purchase Links for previous books in the series:

Author Bio:
Marsha A. Moore is an author of fantasy romance. Much of her life feeds the creative flow she uses to weave highly imaginative tales. 

The magic of art and nature often spark life into her writing, as well as watercolor painting and drawing. After a move from Toledo to Tampa in 2008, she’s happily transformed into a Floridian, in love with the outdoors. Marsha is crazy about cycling. She lives with her husband on a large saltwater lagoon, where taking her kayak out for an hour or more is a real treat. She never has enough days spent at the beach, usually scribbling away at stories with toes wiggling in the sand. Every day at the beach is magical! She’s been a yoga enthusiast for over a decade and is excited to be taking part in a Kripalu yoga teacher training program during 2013. That spiritual quest helps her explore the mystical side of fantasy.

Author Links:

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Family of Witches

When I first began writing The Witch and the Wolf, it never occurred to me that I might have the start of a series. It was a short story. A paranormal romance about a witch and a werewolf. I wrote it within a week, edited the next week and entered it in a contest a friend of mine suggested I try.  While I didn't win the contest, my story did get the attention of the editors who asked that I re-submit it as a regular submission. Shortly later, they sent me a contract.

During the editing process, I got to thinking about the heroine's sister who played a small role in the story. Their evil uncle was searching for them. Did he catch her, or did she get away? So, I wrote another short story to find out; a sequel called The Witch and the Vampire. That one was really fun! I loved writing it.

That's where I stopped. I was finished with the Merriweather sisters.

Or so I thought...

I moved on to other projects. Mostly novels and short stories that were half-finished. I submitted a few, gathered some rejections and went back to work. All the while, I kept thinking about those Merriweather sisters. They intrigued me. I already knew they were orphans, raised by their aunt and sent to live with their uncle. But what else did I know about them?

The more I thought about them, the more interested I became. What was their family like? Who else had a story to tell? What exactly happened to their parents?

And then, Basil Merriweather was born. Actually, he's the eldest sibling. Lillian and Melora needed an older, responsible brother who would be outraged that their uncle was treating his younger sisters so unfairly. But he's been away from England for a while, so that's why his story is third; The Witch's Thief (release date to-be-announced). Basil's story reveals the rest of the Merriweather siblings, all witches with their own unique magickal skills and all with very interesting stories to tell. The family is a fairly large one, seven in all.

So far....