Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 Year End Book Review

My biggest claim for 2012 is reading a grand total of 155 books, a vast improvement from 2011 when I read 102 books, this is the breakdown:

Fiction - 147 books
Non-Fiction - 8 books

By format:
Audiobooks - 72
eBooks - 41
Graphic Novels - 34
Books - 8

All the audiobooks and most of the graphic novels have been borrowed/downloaded from the San Diego Public Library. The eBooks and Books have been purchased new from any number of sources, mainly Amazon and Comic-Con. 

Before I get to my reading highlights of the year, I want to say Farewell to one of the best story-tellers of our time Maeve Binchy (Evening Class, Tara Road, Minding Frankie and so many others) I was reading her second novel Echoes the day she died and felt very sad that there would be no more new stories from her. Not only did I felt like I lost her, but I also felt like I lost contact with Nora and Aiden, the people at Quentin's, Father Flynn, Anya and so many more of her characters that did cameos in each of her books. It was like catching up with them. Good-bye and Thank You.

# 3 - Graphic Novels

I belong to two Graphic Novel book clubs, one through a San Diego Meetup group and one on Goodreads. Both have opened my eyes to so many authors and artists, for many years all I had in my collection was The Sandman and Sin City, now my collection is increasing and I spent more time at the comics section at Comic-Con. I re-discovered my love for Transmetropolitan (the relationship between Spider Jerusalem and his weird cat is the best!) and Lucifer (so cunning!), both are series from Vertigo comics long ago ended, but still cherished and discussed in book clubs. Lucifer is now out of print so it is harder to get the collection but very much worth it if you do.

Another author I am now a big fan of is Craig Thompson, author of Blankets, Habibi, Carnet de Voyage and Good-Bye Chunky Rice. I read Chunky Rice for one of my book clubs and I am so glad I read Blankets first, otherwise I would never have read anything written by Craig Thompson. We read Chunky Rice six months ago and we are all still traumatized by it, and every month we meet we still discuss it, it is one of the saddest stories about relationships, loss and loneliness I've ever read, don't be fooled by the cute cover. This man is a black hole of despair, he's awesome!

# 2 - Indie Writers

Where to begin? Now that authors are no longer constrained by the traditional publishing industry, there has been an avalanche of great - and not so great - indie authors. Self-published is no longer a dirty word and since I do eBook Formatting I've been able to work with the best ones!

The following are a few of my favorite authors, in no particular order, whom I've met either through Goodreads or Twitter:

Susan Buchanan / Chick Lit
This girl is Marian Keyes good! From Scotland, it's been such a treat to read about life in the land of kilts, unintelligible accent and bad weather. She's also a world traveler and incorporates all that into her stories. So far she's written two novels Sign of the Times and The Dating Game and is working on her third novel...give it up for Sooz!!

J. Joseph Wright / Horror
So far I've read only his short stories (Gramma's Freezer, Brain Food, Cemetery Planet) and they are great! Very twilight-zone-ish, it usually happens that I impulse-buy one of his short stories to read later, take a tiny quick peak and become so engrossed that I devour the story right then and there. He is now a staple on my to-read list.

Jay Finn - up and coming
Irish author, he self-published two eBooks (Beneath the Darkness and Looking Back) and several of us in the Twitter world are waiting for a novel. I've read a chapter on something he's working on and it is very enticing. He has a rich style and I love the way he describes the interactions between his characters....keep on writing Jay!

Hardit Singh - Detective
This guy is Michael Connelly good! His short stories bring very rich characters that need a full length novel and the one novel I've read Traffic still haunts and makes me think. British author, Hardit's books have been published in 2011 and 2012 and I'm sure 2013 will bring more gut wrenching detective stories.

Maria Savva - Psychological thrillers
I met her not long ago thanks to Susan Buchanan and so far I've only read her latest novel, Haunted, which will be the next book to be reviewed in this blog. I'm very impressed with her style and depth in her story and in the next few weeks I'll be talking more about her.

And I can mention so many more like Nancy Warren (romance, chick lit), Johnathan Culver (weird), Diana Douglas (period romance), Jo Michaels (young adult), Yolanda Sfestos (paranormal romance), Andy Holloman (suspense thriller), Anne Allen (women's fiction) but you will be hearing about them in the months to come.

As reader etiquette, if you like a story, please leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads or wherever you bought the book. This helps the authors enormously not only by getting better rankings and sales, but also it encourages them to keep on entertaining us!

#1 - A Song of Ice and Fire
George R.R. Martin - May he have a long life and swift pen.

'nuff said.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Our Favorite Jamaican Recipes - Book Review

I love reading and with this blog writing reviews has been a treat, but in this case the review was very yummy. I formatted "Our Favorite Jamaican Recipes" by Trudy Hanks nee Pilliner, Maureen Tapper nee Pilliner, and Rebecca Marshall nee Tapper and I was so interested in the recipes that I decided to cook several of them and invite friends over.

"Our Favorite Jamaican Recipes" was created by three Jamaican daughters remembering their Mothers' cooking. The book is filled with family anecdotes, cultural tidbits, and traditional recipes. The recipes themselves are explained very clearly and, in my case, even though I knew nothing about Jamaican food, I was able to follow the instructions and make delicious food.

My favorite anecdote is the one that accompanies the pig trotter's recipe:
The only son in the Tapper family was very mischievous and cunning as a boy. He somehow convinced his youngest sister that pig's trotters were not good eating, and that he would "help her" by eating her share.
Sister was happy that he was so nice to her, and it was almost a year before she wised up and noticed how much he enjoyed this food that he claimed was neither delicious, nor good for her. She decided to make the sacrifice and try a piece herself...and that was the day his double portion of pig's trotters ended!
A Tapper Family Memory
The cookbook contains Soups (beef soup, pepper pot soup, red peas soup), Entrees (curried shrimp, callaloo and salt fish, oxtail and butter beans, and many more), Side Dishes (corn fritters, macaroni and cheese, fried dumplings, and more), Desserts (bread pudding, egg custard, sweet potato pudding, and more), Beverages (ginger beer, sorrel drink, rum punch, and more), Misc (jerk seasoning, solomon gundy) and Notes. The notes section describes the uncommon ingredients like ackee, bammy, breadfruit, etc.

Each recipe and note has a photo, which came in very handy when I went to the grocery store to buy the ingredients. I live in San Diego, which doesn't have a large Jamaican community, but I was able to find all the ingredients at my local Mexican grocery store.

I went wild making eleven recipes, most of the ingredients were inexpensive and easy to find at a good price. I selected recipes that my guests and I would be able to recognize and one of my guests is very sensitive to spicy food so I went light on the scotch bonnet pepper. Now let me show you my cooking:

Crayfish (Janga) Soup
Made with crayfish - I used large shrimp for this recipe - chicken, vegetables and dumplings. I made the recipe early that day and put it on a crockpot to keep it warm until dinner time.

Cook-Up Rice with Bully Beef and Cabbage
Made with cabbage, white rice, corned beef and vegetables. This was one of my favorites! Very easy to do and satisfying, after the dinner party I had this dish for lunch, super yummy.

Escoveitch Fish
Made with red snapper - yellow tail and flounder can also be used - the fried fish is marinated with onion, juliened carrots, allspice seeds and vinegar. The acidity of this dish complemented the other ones perfectly.

Fricassee Chicken (brown stew chicken)
Another favorite! The chicken is marinated in soy sauce, scallions, tomatoes, and more. The dish has a very rich savory flavor, this is a recipe I know I will be doing more than once.

Jerk Chicken
This was last minute - as if I wasn't cooking enough things! - I made the jerk seasoning, marinated the chicken and roasted it. So good!

Banana Fritters
So easy to do! I was fortunate to have eaten one when I made them, by the time I served my plate there was only one left. No leftovers here.

Cabbage, Carrot and Tomato Salad
One of my guests made the comment that this salad was very refreshing to the palate. I forgot to take a photo of this salad, the image below is from the cookbook, but mine looked just like it!

Rice and Peas
Made with red kidney beans, bacon, coconut milk, veggies and white rice. The red coloring comes from the red kidney beans. Very tasty side dish!

Coconut with sweet spices baked on top of pastry dough. I cut these in half so more people could try them.

Plantain Tarts
I thought this recipe would be hard, but even though it was a little time consuming, it was very simple to follow and the tarts came out great!

Ice-Box Cake
Super easy to do. Layers of pound cake and a buttery fruity mixture. The whipped cream on top wasn't sweetened so it balanced out the sweetness of the bottom making it taste just right.

Nine of us ate that night, everyone had seconds and I still had some leftovers to eat during the week. This is an excellent cookbook done from the heart.

You can find "Our Favorite Jamaican Recipes" at in print and digital format.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mystic series - Book Review

Jo Michaels, author of Yassa and The Abigale Chronicles, now gives us the Mystic series, a young adult paranormal tale geared towards finding strength from within. I read Mystic: Bronya (book 1) and Mystic: Lily (book 2), the series will include five novellas and one novel that will bring everything together.

The premise behind the Mystic series touches upon the paranormal. Markaza, a teen-aged tattooed blue hair girl has visions of a powerful being trying to destroy the Earth. Markaza has one year to go all over the U.S. recruiting specially selected women with powers they don't even know they have. From the first book in the series Mystic: Bronya, we learn who are these women, though I've only read the first two and can only guess at the story behind the rest of them:

  • Bronya Thibodeaux from Houma, LA, she has physical strength and as a Lesbian suffered prejudices in her small town. 
  • Lily Conyers from San Diego, CA has the ability of sight control, her glamorous life was destroyed by a car accident.
  • Sheila Morgan from Chattanooga, TN - Mood control - Child abuse.
  • Melody Acworth from Atlanta, GA - Sound control - Anorexic.
  • Coralie Meyers from New York, NY - Cunning - Abortion.
  • Markaza Turner from New York, NY - Future seer - Depression.

The series aims to give positive messages emphasizing themes like how cruelty can hurt people, the dangers of drinking and driving, and how beauty and strength come from within. The situations the heroines face are not sugar coated and the characters themselves have flaws that make them relatable.  

In the case of Bronya, her problems come from being a Lesbian in a small town in Louisiana  where she suffers ridicule and a humiliating heartbreak. On the other hand Lily is on top of the modeling world, beautiful with great life and handsome boyfriend. It all ends when she decides to drive drunk, crashes her car and her face is disfigured.

In both cases Markaza appears at just the right time, her mission is to befriend them and in some way convince them to leave their current lives and move to New York, where they unknowingly join WSTW - Women Save The World.

As the stories unfold we get to see glimpses of the future, in Mystic: Lily we see the terrible danger Sheila is in, as well as the reason why all these women are being recruited. The women all have a special ability they don't even know they have and they will need to dig very deep down in order to find the clock is ticking because the danger has a due date, Markaza'a 18th birthday.

The novellas are written in a way that you will read them in one to three sittings, the stories have a way to keep your interest and the description of each hometown is dead on - at least I know it is with San Diego since I live here!

In a way this review is incomplete because the series is just starting, there are many questions, character and plot development to look forward to in the months to come. Mystic: Bronya is available on Amazon and will be free from 10/27 to 10/31 in celebration of the publishing of Mystic: Lily on October 30th.

You can read the interview with author Jo Michaels or connect with her through the following sites:


young adult paranormal

young adult paranormal

Interview with Jo Michaels

I met Jo Michaels several months ago when we both participated in a 28-day blog challenge and since then she's been on my list of authors to read. Finally I had a chance to read her and it's great that its at the beginning of the Mystic series, a young adult paranormal tale of strength from within.

Each story deals with a particular deep emotional problem, how did you choose the issues to give to each character?

I looked around at the world and considered what people are judged for. Things that really bring out the hate or fear in other people because they don't understand those things. I have friends with every issue I address in the books and I wanted to show my readers what kind of struggles people face before the cruelty is put on top of it. Add that on, and you have a pretty messed up person that's fighting a lot of personal demons. Putting a name or a face on an issue makes it more personal, and showing what someone else feels about things that happen to them (either by their own screw-ups or nature) is important to bringing forth understanding. I'm hoping to help people see there are two sides to every story. People that are different from you or me aren't bad; they're just different. It doesn't mean they need to be judged, feared, or hated.

Even though the stories deal with women in their teens, I've noticed that cigarettes are very prevalent in their lives, especially Markaza's. Is there a certain significance to this habit?

A few of the girls don't smoke: Lily, Melody, and Shelia (who does it a few times while telling her story but it's very out of character). Markaza does it to help with the stress. She started when she had her first vision and never quit. Truth be told, a lot of teens do it and a lot of teens don't. I just want my characters to feel very real and, sometimes, real people smoke. But no, there's no significance to it.

From glimpses Markaza has seen on her crystal ball and dreams, it looks like the thing to battle will be a physical monster of some sorts. Can you say anything more on that?

It's a physical monster that's the embodiment of something prevalent in the world that grows stronger every day. When the girls pick up on what it is, they'll have an idea of how to defeat it. Can't include the spoiler! But what I can say is: Once you, the reader, realize what it is, you'll see it alive all around you. It may very well terrify you when you see how much it encompasses your life without you knowing it. My call to action is: Do something about it. It's all about the small things we do every day that make a difference.

So far I'm picturing WSTW (Women Save The World) as The Justice League. Once everyone is together and ready to go, will they have super hero type costumes?

That's an awesome comparison! While costumes could be cool, I think these ladies are unique enough without them. Adding costumes wouldn't make sense because we're celebrating their individuality.

Will the whole story be told in a series of novellas or will there be a novel at the end?

Bronya, Lily, Shelia, Melody, and Coralie are all novellas. Markaza (book six) will be a full length novel because it will tell her story as well as the final battle.

Will there be a story dedicated to Markaza?

Yes and no. You'll find out about her in book six but you'll also get the story of the battle and how these chicks kick butt and take names. It won't be done the way you may think and there's a scene in Shelia that will bring you closer to understanding what it is they have to do to win.

How often do you plan to publish the rest of the stories?

Every two months. Shelia will be released 12/21/12, Melody in February, Coralie in April, and Markaza in June.

You can read the review of the series or connect with Jo through the following sites:


Author Jo Michaels

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Dangerous Waters - Book Review and Giveaway

Some of my favorite stories have to do with people starting a new life in a new city or country. In the case of Dangerous Waters Jeanne Le Page starts her new life by coming back to her hometown of Guernsey.

Jeanne left the island at age 16 after her parents died in a boating accident which she survived and can't remember. The death of her Grandmother and a painful break-up brought her back to Guernsey where she began to reconnect with childhood friends. Her initial intention was to settle her Grandmother's estate, sell a property she inherited and get back to London.

Jeanne is in deep need for healing, and the process began as she approached Guernsey and had a panic attack. Once she was back at her Grandma's cottage, Le Petit Chêne, she began to re-introduce herself in Guernsey's way of life and made the decision to stay, renovate the cottage and confront the biggest mystery in her life: the amnesia regarding the accident.

During the renovation Jeanne discovers documents that will change her life. Some of them are old traditional French recipes and something she never expected: love letters between her Grandma and someone other than her Grandfather. This part of the story touches on a romantic and sad love story that happened in the time when Guernsey was under German occupation during WWII. It is fascinating to join Jeanne as she slowly uncovers the truth.

Le Petit Chêne is a distinct character in the book, the renovation goes very deep into its foundation and its a metaphor for the self-discovery Jeanne is going through. Cottage and person are gutted and renovated, coming out at the end looking almost the same but with an inner strength that will get them through anything coming their way.

Another important character is Guernsey itself, a tiny island in the English Channel. The descriptions give a great sense of what is like to live there, and at least personally, the more I read about it, the more I want to visit it.

And before I forget, there is romance in the air for Jeanne, but won't comment on that part, it will be a treat for the readers to find out more about it!

Now for the giveaway, Anne Allen is providing a free copy of Dangerous Waters to two lucky winners. Leave a comment before October 17 telling us a little something about your hometown and you will be entered in the giveaway. Best of luck!

Check out interesting tidbits about Dangerous Waters in an Interview with Anne Allen and if you're interested in more information about the book or author, please visit:

Twitter: @AnneAllen21

Interview with Anne Allen

I met Anne Allen thanks to Twitter and this book blog, she asked if I would be interested in reading her book and once I read a few reviews I was convinced. Dangerous Waters offers a story of self-discovery, healing, love and a few mysteries that need to be solved. To learn more about Dangerous Waters, please read my review and check out the giveaway!

I'm glad Anne agreed to be interviewed and give us a little more insight about the story:

After reading the story I Googled Guernsey, it's such an itty bitty island, and from the descriptions in the story it seems so charming. Have you visited Guernsey?

It’s certainly small! About 5 miles by 7 and you can drive round the coast line in about an hour. Mind you, there are even smaller islands in the Channel Islands and one, Herm, also figures in Dangerous Waters. Here there are no cars and both residents (about 50) and tourists walk everywhere. I lived in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years from 1988 and then made a very reluctant return to England. I’ve left behind not only one son but a number of friends to give me a valid reason for frequent returns. I fell in love with the island and the people after enjoying a holiday there in 1987 and vowed to move there as soon as possible. And you’re right, Ellie, it’s full of charm and has a lot to offer visitors as well as residents.


The love story between Jeanne Le Page's grandmother and Wilhelm, the German soldier was so tender and interesting in a historical sense. What can you tell us about the research you did about that time period?

I was fortunate to be able to talk to people who had lived through the Occupation, gaining first-hand accounts of what life had been like at that time. Also, luckily for me, that period is well documented locally, providing me with a rich source of historical material. The Islanders still celebrate Liberation Day every year to mark the arrival of British forces on May 9th 1945.

Where did you get the inspiration for the cottage Le Petit Chêne?

I had lived in a farmhouse in the area where ‘Le Petit Chêne’ could be found and knew the local cottages well. I’d actually undertaken a large-scale renovation of my home so knew what would be involved for Jeanne. Including the stress! Her cottage wasn’t the same design as mine but the garden had similarities. However, mine had a small pine forest instead of an orchard. And the German bunker mentioned in my book actually existed – in my garden! We had it professionally renovated – it had been prone to flooding – and even had the original German signs re-painted. My sons had an illicit party in it while we were away one weekend and we only found out because a neighbour complained about beer bottles being thrown in to the adjoining lane. I had decided early on that my story needed to include an old cottage with secrets and I didn’t have to look far for inspiration. 

Guernsey Cottage

Jeanne Le Page's journey of self-discovery and memory recovery through hypnosis seems to parallel Le Petit Chêne's renovation. Both went through mayhem at their foundation and both came out of it stronger. While you were writing the story was it your intention to link Jeanne and the cottage this way?

Most definitely! For me it was a key strand of the plot and I’m so glad you’ve picked up on it. Both Jeanne and the cottage were in need of TLC at the beginning of the book and I wanted the renovation of the cottage to reflect the changes taking place in Jeanne. For her, the cottage had symbolized her lost, loving family and by bringing it up to date in the 21st century she was echoing her own progress towards renewed life and love. I’ve often found that people take on a big project like a house renovation when they’re searching for something new in their lives – a fresh start. And there’s a tremendous feeling of satisfaction when it’s completed. We can pour our ‘love’ energy into a home instead of a person if we happen to be single.

The book has yummy recipes at the end, have you made them? Are they family recipes?

Guernsey Bean Jar

I’ve only made the ‘enne jarraïe d’haricaöts’ – Guernsey Bean Jar and it was delicious! The recipes are genuine old Guernsey recipes passed down through the generations and are well known locally. I’ve also eaten loads of Gâche , a fruit bread smothered with rich Guernsey butter. No calorie counting allowed!

Gâche with butter

What are you working on now?

My second novel, Finding Mother, the story of a young woman who, as her marriage crumbles, seeks to find her natural mother. She feels the need to understand herself and her roots while re-evaluating her life. The story also focuses on the history of that mother and the grandmother who have kept secrets from each other for years. The setting is predominantly Guernsey (shows how much I love the place!) but there are excursions to England, Jersey (another Channel Island) and Spain.

Thank you very much Anne for such a great story and donating the books for the giveaway.

If you want more information about the book or the author, please visit:

Twitter: @AnneAllen21

Anne Allen, author of Dangerous Waters

Friday, September 14, 2012

Demon Vampire - Book Review

Some stories are like appetizers, others are like lunch and my favorites are like desserts. In the case of Demon Vampire, I can easily say its like a Thanksgiving Dinner with every single fixin' you can think of!

The first thing that struck me as I read this story was the Anne Rice feel to it. But I made the initial mistake of treating it like an Anne Rice novel, in which I can easily skip pages and not loose the thread of the story. Not with Demon Vampire, there is vital information everywhere! This brings me to the second thing I noticed, this book re-taught me to be patient, relax and enjoy the story. I 'm very used to reading books that are 250 pages or less where the plot and dialogue is developed very quickly. In this case, especially at the beginning, the characters get there when they get there, in this book there's no rushing.

First we are introduced to Zack, an awkward teen, who, even though has weird blood-filled dreams, he doesn't feel like he's anything special. Then we meet David and his daughter Kyli who are plotting to kill Zack because of what lives inside him, an ancient, evil Demon Vampire, one that can and will destroy civilizations with its uncontrollable power. At this point I thought I could predict the main plot, but I was so wrong!

As the story unfolds we meet Orhn Damascus, a vampire/vampeal that comes out of the blue to torture Zack. This torture teaches us important things about Zack and Kyli, who comes to rescue him, and we get to know Orhn's fascinating story of love and loss later on in the book. As new vampires and vampeals are introduced, we learn about their stories and relationships with each other. As it is with people, there are "good" and "bad" vampires and the thing about immortality is that if a vampire has a grudge, it will fester and grow for centuries and so far I didn't see any of them wanting to forgive and forget or move on.

While I enjoyed all the back stories, among my favorites where Del Marin's who learned how to exist among humans and even work for a living as a tax accountant before becoming an artist. We also meet Malio, who has serious anger issues! And my favorite: Salas, THE Demon Vampire. The rest of the vampires are united in wanting to kill Salas or the very least delay his return for another 300 years by killing his current unsuspecting host, Zack.

Throughout the story, the other vampires mention how evil Salas is and in this story we meet three of his hosts: Moira, Love and Zack. Each one deals with Salas in a very different way, but each one of them knows they are doomed no matter what path they take. At least in my case, I found Salas seductive and bad-ass, if I was the host, I'm pretty sure I would give in to what he wants very quickly!

Demon Vampire introduces new concepts to the vampire mythology, or at least they are new to me. We have Redgold which is the crystallized blood from a vampire taken thanks to a specific ritual during an eclipse. Vampires are categorized depending on their gifts into Focus, Psychics or Alteration. There is the ancient story on how Vampire Elders created the Demon Vampires and so much more.

The story goes from the present day where Zack is trying to figure out what the hell he is, to the past, where we get to find out the stories of the different vampires and vampeals surrounding Zack. There are several centuries-old relationships in this story, but the main one is between Zack and Kyli.

Poor kid, he never stood a chance with Kyli. Here is this super hot goth girl making the first moves, of course Zack would fall for her! Though I'm sure she didn't anticipate her eventual feelings for him. At times I found Kyli very annoying, she would get angry and hurt Zack as a way to teach him lessons, but even I never could anticipate what would make her happy or angry. Zack had to learn everything the hard way. As the story progresses, Zack will grow - literally. There will be a mental and physical transformation as he realizes what he is and what is inside him.

The ending of Demon Vampire seemed to me like the ending of the Fellowship of the Ring, you can tell there will be more, a lot more. Even in the last chapter, Kyli is still explaining things about the Vampire Elders. I'm sure all this wealth of information will be needed when the next books in the series come along. When you finish the book, one thing I can almost bet is that you will go back and re-read Chapter One!

To read my interview with author Virgil Allen Moore, please click on this link.

Interview with Virgil Allen Moore

I met Virgil through, he sent me an e-mail asking if I would be interested in reading his book, which he described as "an epic paranormal work of dark fiction" could I resist?

Even though I'm a fast reader, it took me almost two months to read his book. Demon Vampire has a lot of meat in it and after reading a chapter or two I would take a step back from it and then come back for more, I enjoyed that. It reminded me when I was in junior high and two years in a row I would read Les Miserables, which took me all summer, but I loved it!

As I read Demon Vampire I've been in contact with Virgil through Twitter and some months ago while I was in the middle of a blog challenge he did two guest blogs for me (I was so grateful!). These are the posts:
  • Day 17 - "Of all the things that might have developed from writing a book, I never imagined that I'd break my keyboard in doing so....."
  • Day 18 - "My most memorable experience is easy to surmise, yet unrelenting to me while being a writer: Criticism...."
I'm very glad Virgil agreed to write for my blog one more time and answered the following interview questions. These questions have to do with the book Demon Vampire and it is my hope that after reading them you will be interested in reading the book for yourself, follow this link to read my review.

Virgil Allen Moore
I've read several vampire stories and series, from Bram Stroker's Dracula and Lord Byron's poems to the Sookie Stackhouse series (don't judge me, they're awesome!), so far I don't remember ever reading about Vampeals, Demon Vampires, Vampire Gifts or Redgold. Is this something new you are bringing to the vampire mythology or is it based on other works?

Those are a lot of questions. I've watched and read a great deal of Japanese and Chinese plots. I draw a great deal from their mythology and styles. Vampeals are from a series called Vampire Hunter D. Vampire Gifts mostly from pen and paper gaming such as Vampire The Masquerade. However, Demon Vampires and Redgold are my own unique creation. I wanted to forge something that would be feared, even to vampires. "An abomination among monsters." I needed to create something that an elder vampire would be afraid of. A reincarnating demon vampire fit the ticket far too well ;) Redgold on the other side was a solution to vampeals that worked its way very well into the storyline. Crystallized vampire blood that turns a vampeal (half-vampire) into a full vampire. So far, I don't think anyone has ever tackled those two story concepts in a vampire novel, let alone any other type of novel. 

On a follow-up side note: When I Googled "Vampeal", "Demon Vampire" and "Vampire Redgold"; Virgil Moore comes up in the first page...Well Done!

From your author picture I see you enjoy dressing in a style reminiscent to Gary Oldman's portrayal of Dracula. As you write the Redgold series, is there a character that represents you? And I hope it's not Malio!

God no, not Malio. He is sick and twisted, almost perfect antagonist that we all love to hate. As for me, I'd have to say that Zack, is me. As far as the personality type that is. His reactions to the events in the book are my reactions if I was there. At least at his age. One of the things that makes my series special is that you get to see the character from a very young point of view at the beginning and throughout the course of the story, he's physically nineteen and has grown several inches in height. Beyond that, readers will be able to see him get older as the series progresses. I won't go into details now, but Zack changes a lot. You will be able to see how his mind and choices develop as time goes on. Not many other series let you see that much change over such a large scale.

Does Zack ever gets to meet his Mom? I know its a spoiler, but can you give any hint?

Yes. It's a truly horrific meeting though. There is a lot of storyline explaining why she even settled down in the first place. Since you know she was such a "free spirit" to say the least in the time that Yugo and Orhn knew her, everyone always wonders why in the hell she would meet a normal guy like John and have a kid. All I can say is that she has a very disturbing reason for everything that she has done over the past several hundred years. Also, there is a blatant reason why I never talked about her gift in the book. All I can say is that she has a psychic gift and it is terrifying. 

Zack's Dad seems a little too non-chalant about everything that's happening to his teenager. Is he in some sort of trance?

That's a very good guess, but no. John is based mostly on my own mother. I had a very lax childhood and if those things happened to me, I think she would have reacted the same way. That is as much as I'd tell her ;) John just gets into his own world at times. Of course Diane, his new girlfriend is partially to blame for things as well. At least distracting him for that matter.

I hope I didn't miss it as I read the story, how are hosts choosen? Is it random or does Salas have a specific reason why he chooses a host?

Nope, it's random. Except for the fact that it can be sometimes foreseen by certain vampire psychics that have a specific type of future sensing gift. It's the reason why Kyli, David, Marin, and Yugo found Zack in the first place. It wasn't by chance. Malio simply didn't have access to a psychic that was good enough. Yugo did. The same goes for Orhn tracking down Lucretia, he didn't have the access. Same for Damien. 

I know these are very little details. I've hidden so much in the storyline that I'm actually surprised you were able to figure out that much. Not many others have. Also, everything that I haven't answered in book one has a building point later on in the series. I incorporate all. 

And one more teaser for book two. You get to meet Sophialla Ashmore. She shows up in the main book and has a hell of a back story as to how she fused with her demon vampire.

Another follow-up side note: I made notes from each chapter to keep track of all the info. Which is the same thing I did with the Game of Thrones books to keep track of the avalanche of characters!

What are you working on now? 

Demon Vampire: Redgold. The direct sequel to the current main storyline. I will also be writing another side novella from Kyli's point of view. Originally I had planned for all the side novellas to just be an addition to the main books, but as of yet, I have decided to tie them into all parts of the Redgold Series. There are people and events from the side novella that will come into play. So far several characters from a few other stories I have written have made their way into the book. Ellen, is one of those characters. He began in a story about an immortal demon named Ouroboros that continuously reanimates his host. It's a story that also takes place in Gainesville, but a few years after the main storyline of The Redgold Series. 

Demon Vampire: Redgold will be coming out later this year. Be sure to tell everyone about it and sign up to follow my blog for details about the book release. Visit to follow the book, and be sure to like the facebook page as well.

Thank you so much for sharing your book with me and I know I will continue to read the rest of your books. Best Wishes!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Traffic - Book Review

I read Hardit Singh's short stories Crossroads and Fast Lane, before reading his novel Traffic and I have to admit at first it was a hard story to read. Traffic deals with the white slave trade, women who are kidnaped and forced to work in brothels.

I've read other stories that deal with sex trafficking, but they mostly show the detective side, in this story you will see in-depth the lives the women are forced into. The story follows Melanie Swift, a woman kidnapped by a man she trusted and thrown into a world of brothels with no way out.

In the first part of the story we see Melanie's inner and outer life. Melanie is a bright, confident woman with a great will to live who just happens to be very beautiful, therefore marketable. We see her day to day activities which include very graphic and disturbing sex scenes. We also get to see her inner struggles to remain sane and hopeful in spite of it all. Her strength of character does get her in trouble and punished more than once.

During this time Melanie meets several women with different attitudes towards their enslavement. Some accept it and thrive, moving up the ladder to become call girls while others will do anything to escape. Theresa is one of those women who refuses to accept that lifestyle and will be Melanie's reminder of what their lives should be. Time and time again freedom seems so close and by the end of the first part of the story, Melanie's situation does seem hopeless.

Now comes the second part in which we're introduced to Carla Fontaine, a detective who meets Melanie and Theresa thanks to an unorthodox personal matter. Carla will become the rope that helps them climb from out of the hole and the shovel that will help them bury all the bad guys from the brothel and the police department.

I particularly enjoy the way Singh creates detectives, they have deep issues from their past, they are very smart and they don't act like a stereotype. Carla Fontaine has a lot to offer with problems with her ex-husband, her partner and ex-lover, her convict sister and still manages to solve a few cases while uncovering the corruption deep within the human trafficking unit in the police department.

For me the story was entertaining and gripping, but it also made me think and shudder. When I pass massage parlors I wonder if they have a basement with kidnapped women. Customers would never know if they're dealing with kidnapped women since they have to act like its just a job. How could they get away if their families are being threatened? Is death the only way out for some of those unlucky women?

I wouldn't consider Traffic an erotic novel, but there is a lot of graphic sex scenes as well as a very thoroughly researched inside look at the sex industry. With three very strong female characters, Traffic is a great book to read!

You can read an interview with author Hardit Singh and if you're interested in purchasing his books visit his Amazon page.

Author Hardit Singh

Interview with Hardit Singh

I met Hardit Singh through Twitter, our first contact had to do with a Michael Connelly review I did on Goodreads. Since then we've become tweeps (Twitter/peeps) and I've become a fan of his writing.

While I've read his short stories Crossroads and Fast Lane, this interview focuses on Traffic, a griping story about sex trafficking in the U.K. Follow this link to read the review. And now...the interview:

Author Hardit Singh

Your books, with the exception of Crossroads, focus on detective stories. While the usual plot for a detective story would be murder-mysteries, with Traffic, you decided to focus on the white slave trade. Did you have any particular reason to write this kind of story?

I've always been interested in Murder Mysteries and I thought that this book would be one of those, however, while at my day job I came across an article about Sex Trafficking and that sparked the idea. I immediately began researching more of it on the internet just out of curiosity, as this was an issue that was so prominent but was under the surface, not many people were fully aware of it. The more I read up on Trafficking the more I wanted to write about it and create that awareness. 

What made Traffic very chilling for me were the details: the use of make-up bags, what kinds of things would be found in the drawers at the rooms, the cleaning duties, etc. Can you tell us about your research?

My research was primarily over the Internet. I did my best to just immerse myself in reading anything I could find on the subject matter without fear of finding the 'right' information. I read anything from news reports to personal accounts to white papers. I also watched some documentaries one which included a husband who tried to get his kidnapped wife out of the the sex trade. I didn't include this in my novel, but I have written a short story based on someone rescuing their relative from this industry. Hopefully this will be released in the future as a stand alone or part of a collection.

In Traffic we get introduced to Carla Fontaine, a detective who manages to solve a few crimes while she's unraveling the corruption in the Trafficking section of the Police department. This book barely scratches at the surface, she has a very complex past and in the present she kicks butt, will there be sequels for Carla Fontaine?

At the moment I don't plan on writing any sequels for Carla Fontaine, but perhaps she may make appearances in the future. I plan on writing a detective series but this will include a different character that I have been spinning together in my mind and one which I hope brings just as much to the table as Fontaine. But I will never say never.

What do you think Melanie and Theresa are doing now?

I think they are still together, perhaps sharing an apartment and working in the real world. I'm sure they will also be volunteering in some capacity to help women who are going through or have been through what they have - Theresa would've been insistent on that!

Are you working on something new?

I'm working on a Drama / Romance novel, that's based upon companionship. I feel like I needed to write about a lighter subject after Traffic, although I'm not sure how light it will be when I'm done with it!

To read my review click here or to purchase Singh's short stories and novel, check his Amazon page.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sign of the Times - Book Review

Even though I'm a big fan of Chick Lit, it's always a hit or miss; sometimes the cliches are so blatant that I just want to throw the book away and other times, like in the case of Sign of the Times, it's a gem that's a pleasure to read.

I have a habit of reading at least 3 or 4 books at the same time, reading one chapter here and one chapter there. But once I was hooked with the Sign of the Times, I stopped reading everything else - including my obsession: "Game of Thrones" - and just concentrated on this story. Something like this only happens when I read Marian Keyes (Rachel's Holiday, Angels) and Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse - The Southern Vampire Mysteries).

In the Sign of the Times, author Susan Buchanan, introduces a character with the characteristics of the different zodiac signs, they all have something to do with each other either directly or indirectly. One thing I liked was the fact that none of the characters were evil, even the ones that were making mistakes were likable and I didn't want anything bad to happen to them.

What got me hooked was how the story was told. Each character was introduced, their story was told and each chapter ended in a cliffhanger. But I didn't have time to dwell on the cliffhanger because the next chapter brought another interesting character I wanted to know more about.

I will be honest and admit I was concerned as to how the story would wrap up, since it took over 3/4 of the book to introduce all twelve zodiac signs - which meant twelve cliffhangers! But the final chapters gave a very nice wrap up that didn't feel rushed and answered all the questions.

I think everyone will have their own favorites and I was prepared to dislike Taurus since I've had several bad relationships with Taurus men (I'm Scorpio, totally not compatible) but Oscar, Taurus, was such a sweetheart! I really fell for Tom, Capricorn, and loved Lucy, Gemini and Czeslawa, Scorpio, is very strong, smart and bad-ass like a good Scorpio!

The story covers many different topics, like lust, love, cheating, parenting, immigration, work struggles and many more. All the characters have believable lives that anyone can relate to and maybe even find a mirror to their own lives.

Another huge treat was that the story locations were in Scotland and Italy, in places I wasn't familiar with, so I Googled them and got a better feel for the story and how the characters live.

The story is very professional, well written and something I can truly recommend. Susan Buchanan's debut novel, The Sign of the Times, can be purchased at and to check out an interview with her, click here.


Interview with Susan Buchanan

I'm very happy and giddy about meeting Susan Buchanan and having her as the first author reviewed on my new blog. I met Susan through, when she introduced herself by telling me how much she loved Maeve Binchy (a personal favorite of mine) and told me about her visit to San Diego - my lovely city!

After that we talked a lot about books and eventually I noticed she wrote one, Sign of the Times and decided to read it. So glad I did! She's a very promising Chick Lit Author and here's a short interview with her:

Susan Buchanan

1) How did you come up with the idea of using zodiac signs for your characters?
Basically, I was looking for something that hadn’t been done before, along a chick lit vein, but with serious themes too.  The seasons of the year, months, days, diaries, etc., had all been done, so I figured why not the zodiac. Then I started researching the signs, the traits and likely careers that the characters would need and it all began to take shape.

2) It is said that debut novels are semi-autobiographical. Are there any scenes from your real life that were added to the book?
All of the characters are fictional, but unless you are writing sci-fi, paranormal etc, I think often there are elements which are semi-autobiographical.  I also think this isn’t only true for debut novels. There are a couple of scenes in the book, one major, almost unbelievable scene,  which happened to a friend of a colleague. The only other anecdote  in the book based on fact is Maggie’s mother always being in the know about who has just died in the village – this is based on a family member of mine!  I won’t say exactly who, or I may be disinherited!

However, I believe the main semi-autobiographical element is the fact that many, although not all, of the locations I mention in Sign of the Times, I have been to, both in the UK and abroad. I have kindly been told by readers that I describe Italy amazingly well. I have been to Italy a lot, although to Bibbiena only once. But, I loved it and that can make all the difference.

In fact just today, I received a little tweet from a reader saying ‘thank you so much you have wrote a book which is speaking about our village, Bibbiena and our land Casentino.’ I was ecstatic!!

I have also been to Glencoe, in Scotland, many times, and Lucerne in Switzerland, which I loved. The tobogganing scenes set in Valais in Switzerland are based on a ski-ing holiday I had about 11 years ago in Austria, albeit there was no romance, just lots of après ski!

3) Are you working on something new? Now that the first book is out, do you find it easier to continue with a second book?
Yes, I am working on The Dating Game, which should be out later this year.  It’s too early to have an official blurb, but here’s a mini-taster.

Workaholic recruitment consultant Gill McFadden is sick of her friends trying to match-make for her. Up until now her love life has been a disaster and she’s going through a drier spell than the Sahara desert. Seeing an ad on a bus one day, she decides to visit Happy Ever After dating agency. Before long she is experiencing laughs, lust and… could it be love? But like everything in Gill’s life, nothing is straightforward and she ends up wondering exactly who she can trust.

To the question, is it easier to write a second novel? Yes. Is it easier to redraft and edit? Yes. Is it easier to write a 2nd book whilst marketing the 1st. Absolutely not!!

4) Anything you would like to say to your readers?
Thanks first of all to anyone who has downloaded/read/reviewed Sign of the Times. I hope you enjoyed reading about the characters as much as I enjoyed creating them. I would love to know who your favourites were and which scenes in the book you enjoyed best. You can send me a tweet to @susan_buchanan. I love receiving them and they totally make my day.

Future releases – there are two more concrete books already mapped out, after The Dating Game. The third book should be out this time next year and for the moment I am keeping its contents a secret. The fourth book will be a sequel to Sign of the Times, due out end 2013/early 2014.

Reviews are very important to authors, as it’s your way of giving us input. Due to the amazing feedback for Sign of the Times, asking for a sequel, I decided to write one. Originally it was meant to be a stand-alone novel. Also, since so many readers on Goodreads, Amazon and Twitter commented on how much they enjoyed the scenes set in Italy in Sign of the Times, I decided to include foreign scenes in The Dating Game. All I will tell you is that they will be set in Barcelona and that I used to live there, so don’t expect just the regular Barcelona haunts, as I know the city very well!

Finally, I would just like to say, you can chart my progress of writing The Dating Game, amongst other features, on my blog –

And follow Ellie’s blog!

Susan Buchanan's debut novel, The Sign of the Times, can be purchased at and to read my review, click here.