Reading: Cry Wolf

Title: Cry Wolf
Author: Patricia Briggs
Genre: Supernatural (Science Fiction Romance)
Length: 294 pages

Summary: Anna didn’t believe werewolves existed until she was bitten and became one. For reasons unknown to her until Charles came into her life, she was sexually abused by those in her pack. Charles, son of the leader of the North American werewolves, appears in Anna’s life to reveal she is the Omega, a rare wolf that is meant to be protected and treasured, not abused. Together, they work through the residuals of Anna’s abuse while hunting a rogue werewolf bound by black magic which threatens all of  North America.

Excerpt:

pg 56 -And that’s when Anna realized that what the wolf had been asking Bran for was death.

Impulsively, Anna stepped away from Charles. She put a knee on the bench she’d been sitting on and reached over the back to close her hand on Asil’s wrist, which was lying across the back of the pew.

He hissed in shock but didn’t pull away. As she held him, the scent of wildness, of sickness, faded. He stared at her, the whites of his eyes showing brightly while his irises narrowed to small bands around his black pupil.

“Omega,” he whispered, his breath coming harshly.

pg 114 – For her he shook like an alcoholic in need of his gin, because he felt she needed to know her options, no matter how his wolf felt about losing his mate. Her knight, indeed.

Why should you read this book?

If you’re leery of supernatural books, the kinds that have werewolves and witches practicing black magic, etc, don’t let this book fool you. This book is so much more than magical creatures. Why is it that supernatural books are the ones that handle the topic of sexual abuse better than any other genre I’ve read? Anna is a fragile character, but she survived three years of sexual abuse. Survived, and wants to learn how she can heal some of those wounds in order to try a relationship with Charles, who is head-over-heels in love with her.

I loved the metaphor of Brother Wolf as the survival instinct we all have. When Anna feels threatened, such as the first time she tries to be intimate with Charles, her wolf comes “into ascendance,” essentially, she pulls on a deeper strength in order to swallow the timidity, fear, nausea that comes from anyone touching her. All because she wants it to work with Charles. I also loved that as the Omega wolf, her strength was in bringing out the best in others.

Read this book for an entertaining, gripping story that starts off running and continues at a loping pace. Read it for a tactful treatment of the aftermath of sexual abuse and the wish for a healthy, equal relationship. Another book to check out, if interested in another fascinating treatment of the same topic, is Robin McKinley’s Deerskin.

Book Review Extravaganza

Dear Reader,

I read five books last week. Rather than splitting up my reviews so each book gets a dedicated post, I instead posted my reviews on Goodreads and am linking to them from here. They’re all some form of historical romance; three are Regencies and two are Victorian. I’m always surprised there aren’t more Victorian romances… it makes sense, I suppose, because society totally freaked at how loosey-goosey the regency was in terms of morals… but the fun thing about the Victorians is that they actually continued those loose morals… they just stopped talking about it as frequently.

As a quick ROW80 update… I wrote another chapter to The Rebel’s Hero, but I don’t like how it ended. So that needs a rewrite. I’m also keeping to my goal of writing 750 words a week… pretty much blasting that out of the water. So that’s cheering.

Enough of that. Onto the reviews!

His Sinful Secret (Notorious Bachelors, #3)His Sinful Secret by Emma Wildes
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Julianne and Michael are brought together by an arranged marriage, and they start their familial duty of producing an heir for the duchy as soon as possible. Through their entanglements in bed and the pillow talk after, they realize that it just might be possible to have that long-sought-but-rarely-found sort of marriage within the aristocracy: a happy one.

ImpulseImpulse by Candace Camp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As always, I love Candace Camp’s stories because she allows the hero/heroine to get to know one another, to feel confident that they have found a healthy match/complement in each other, before hopping into bed.

It’s just refreshing.

The BargainThe Bargain by Mary Jo Putney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think it’s Putney’s heroes that make me love her writing. Here we have David, who is very good at what he does, killing people efficiently to save his own skin. But the hardships of war didn’t dull his sensitivities toward a Jocelyn, beautiful woman who shies away from marriage the way a horse shies from a snake. He might have been a major, but David is a wonderful beta hero who kept me smiling and wishing he were real so I could take him home to meet my mother.

The Education of Mrs. BrimleyThe Education of Mrs. Brimley by Donna MacMeans
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I think what I loved most about this book was that even though Nicholas could have completely taken advantage of Emma, he always gave her a choice. Now, he could have been a true gentleman and not required Emma to pose for him, but then the story wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting. Talk about foreplay… the slow undressing of the heroine for months built up the tension between them like crazy.

The Fire Rose (Elemental Masters, #1)The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I wanted to like this book more than I did. The story began slowly, and the description sometimes got in the way of the plot, I felt. At its heart, this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. We have the beast, Jason Cameron, a elemental wizard who got too big for his britches and tried a spell he didn’t know how to uncast. We have the beauty, an heiress who was working on her PhD when her father died and left her penniless.

A decent retelling of a familiar and well-loved fairy tale, I wish there had been a little less world-building and a little more relationship-building.

View all my reviews

Book: The Perfect Poison

Announcement! Roz Morris of Nail Your Novel is collecting images of readers reading our books. If you have a copy of Catching the Rose or Haunting Miss Trentwood and you are game to snap an action shot of you reading, great!

Send a copy to me at worderella AT gmail DOT com. Looking forward to your submissions!

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Title: The Perfect Poison
Author: Amanda Quick
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romantic Suspense
Length: 437 pgs.

Summary: Lucinda has the ability to detect any sort of botanically-based poison. This becomes something of a problem when Lucinda realizes the latest death in London was the result of someone using a poison from a plant stolen from her conservatory. Desperate to find the true killer and keep the wagging tongues at bay, Lucinda hires the eccentric Caleb Jones, founder of the local psychical investigation agency.

Excerpt:

pg 145 – “Nonsense, Miss Bromley.” Victoria put her reading glasses back on and reached for a pen. “I can assure you that when it comes to dealing with the social world, timidity never pays. The weak get trampled. Only the  strong, the bold, the clever survive.”

pg 168 – “Well I suppose a little breaking and entering is nothing compared to the risk of being arrested  for poisoning Lord Fairburn,” Lucinda said. Her voice was a trifle thin and a bit higher than usual but otherwise gratifyingly cool.

“That’s the spirit, Miss Bromley,” Caleb said. “Look for the silver lining, I always say.”

“Something tells me you’ve never said that before in your entire life, Mr. Jones.”

“Those of us blessed with a cheerful and positive temperament always say that sort of nonsense.”

Why should you read this book?

Ever wonder what would have happened if Sherlock Holmes, the master of dispassionate problem-solving, found his equal? Yeah, me too! Especially since the BBC’s most recent incarnation of Sherlock came out and boy do I have a mind crush on him.

Back to the point, Belinda. Why should you read this book? Because it’s about a woman who knows she has a talent and isn’t afraid to use it. It’s about a man who recognizes that talent and respects her for it, even if he doesn’t understand it. It’s about two highly intelligent people who are working together to solve a mystery, and in the process happen to ignite a passion between them that is intellectually, emotionally, and physically satisfying. You just don’t get that every day.

Quick has once again written a story that had me laughing out loud, eager to turn the page, and happy as both a fantasy/paranormal and historical fiction fan.

Book: This Duchess of Mine

Title: This Duchess of Mine
Author: Eloisa James
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 370 pgs.

Summary: They are polar opposites, the Duke and Duchess of Beaumont. Elijah is almost puritanical, Jemma… isn’t. An unfortunate misunderstanding in the early days of their marriage involving Beaumont being caught with his mistress when Jemma had planned a surprise picnic outing led to years of separation. Jemma became ever more sophisticated and flirtatious in France, Elijah ever more serious and good. Then the day comes when they must address their past as Jemma must return to bear an heir for Elijah… before time runs out.

Excerpt:

pg 142 – Jemma knew instantly what he was referring to, and her heart hiccuped from fear. Then she pulled herself together. She had the blood of three arrogant duchesses running through her veins. She could certainly survive a visit to Spitalfields.

pg 195 – Elijah’s only reply was unprintable but heartfelt.
“The same to you,” Villiers said serenely, and then they kept silence until they reached the doctor’s offices.

Why should you read this book?

Those of you following me on Twitter might be surprised I finished this book. I’m certain my mother is, as she gave up on it. I had my misgivings because it felt as though the tension keeping Elijah and Jemma apart was, well, grasping at straws. It was far too obvious that they cared for one another, and the way Jemma in the early pages of the book seems to be manipulating anyone and everyone to begin the seduction for her estranged husband because he “needed some fun” really annoyed me.

It took me a while to realize why it annoyed me so; I’m like Elijah, I don’t like to play games and flirt needlessly, so for Jemma to convince women to throw themselves at Elijah because he hadn’t ever flirted made me think Jemma wasn’t good enough for him because she didn’t care to know him or what mattered/worked for him.

I’m glad I stuck with it, though, because by the end I felt I understood both characters better. They were flawed, which I liked. They compromised, which I liked. They had scenes which made me glad my family was off somewhere else because I would have been embarrassed to be reading them knowing my younger brothers could have peeked over my shoulder and seen an errant, highly suggestive word. I liked that too, heh.

So all in all, while it’s not the best romance I’ve read, I was highly entertained, and fascinated by the fact that Ms James, through the power of her writing, convinced me to keep reading. However, I will say that if Jemma had said “Oh, Elijah,” one more time, I was going to jump into that book and drag Jemma by her hair out of the bed for a good scolding.

Sorry. Pet peeve. “Oh, Name-of-Hero-Who-Stirs-My-Loins,” just looks cheesy on the page.

Featured Author: Zoe Winters

Happy new year, everyone! I’m starting this year with high hopes; I’ve completed the surface edits of Trentwood’s Orphan and am ready to send it out for impressions/critiques. This is the second draft, so whatever comments I get will hopefully make the third draft ready for publication.

In other news, my blogging friend Erica Ridley has made a sale of her book, Touched!

Today we’re talking with Zoe Winters, another of my author friends, who has answered questions about Kept, now available as an ebook and on the Kindle. According to Zoe, Kept is about…

Greta is a werecat whose tribe plans to sacrifice her during the next full moon. Her only hope for survival is Dayne, a sorcerer who once massacred most of the tribe. What’s that thing they say about the enemy of your enemy?

What are the main points about you and/or the book that should be emphasized to the audience?

This is  paranormal romance novella, available as a free ebook and available on the Kindle reader.

Who do you think will buy your book (i.e., your market)?

My market is romance readers, as well as Buffy fans.  People who like Buffy would probably like my writing style and subject matter, though it is NOT a Buffy knock-off.  It’s just geared toward that type of reader base.  Interestingly, I’ve picked up a few male readers.  Not sure if they know they’re reading romance or not, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

If you could construct an interview for yourself, what questions would you want to be asked?

As for what questions I’d want to be asked, I don’t really have any specific preferences there.  Though I do find it very interesting how romance as a genre is ghettoized, when romance and love and sex are a part of the human condition and as worthy as any other subject matter to be written about.

Is there any competition for your book? How are the other books alike? How are they dissimilar?

Hellboy, in my opinion, was a paranormal romance movie, it just wasn’t marketed that way.  But everything ultimately revolved around Hellboy getting together with the fire chick.  And yet it was geared to a largely male audience.  The Hulk movie was another romance.  Almost everything revolves around Bruce’s love for Betty and hers for him.  Yet, another movie that was marketed more to men than women (lots of sarcasm, lots of explosions), but it’s STILL romance.

Yet, when we get to books, a strong romantic plot gets ghettoized as “not a real book.”  If this is true, it is only because of the ill-advised behavior of romance publishers marketing departments with clinch covers, shallow plots, and cheesy expository titles, because it surely isn’t the subject matter.

What was your inspiration for the book? Tell us anything about you as a working writer that you think might be interesting or unusual.

Originally I wrote the novella to submit to a special Samhain novella anthology.  But I didn’t make the deadline for their open submissions.  I could have made it but the story wouldn’t have been as good so I chose not to enter it.  Later I submitted it elsewhere, but in the end decided to self publish it as a free ebook, as an introduction to a much larger universe I’ve created.

For more information about Zoe and Kept, visit http://zoewinters.wordpress.com/.

Are you interested in being a featured author on Worderella Writes? E-mail answers to the following questions and I’ll post them as soon as possible.

  • What are the main points about you and/or the book that should be emphasized to the audience?
  • Who do you think will buy your book (i.e., your market)?
  • If you could construct an interview for yourself, what questions would you want to be asked?
  • Is there any competition for your book? How are the other books alike? How are they dissimilar?
  • What was your inspiration for the book?
  • Tell us anything about you as a working writer that you think might be interesting or unusual.
  • What do you hope readers will learn/discover from reading your book?
  • Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Book: The Reincarnationist

Title: The Reincarnationist
Author: MJ Rose
Genre: Historical Suspense
Length: 455 pgs.

Summary: Josh Ryder, an investigative photographer, is the survivor of a terrorist bomb that exploded a year ago in Rome, Italy. Thanks to the bombing, he is now the victim of odd flashes that have the “emotion, the intensity, the intimacy of memories.” But they couldn’t be memories. In these flashes, Josh is a pagan priest in ancient Rome, desperate to save a woman named Sabina and the treasures she is hiding from the marauding Christians. As his flashbacks uncover his previous life, deaths start piling up around Josh: whatever that woman Sabina was protecting in ancient Rome, someone today thinks they’re worth killing for.

Excerpts:

pg 36 – Josh experienced a flash of completely unfounded jealousy and unexpected emotion: a white-hot surge of jealousy unlike anything he’d ever felt for any lover he’d ever had. He wanted to rush over and pull Rudolfo away, to tell him he had no business leaning in so close, no right to get so near to her. Josh hadn’t known that this corpse even existed an hour before, but his recollections had taken over and in his mind he saw muscle appearing, then being covered by flesh, the flesh plumping out her face, neck, hands, breasts, hips, thighs and feet, all coming to life, her lips pinking, her eyes being colored a deep blue. … A million images crashed inside his head. Centuries of words he’d never heard before. One louder than the rest. He snatched it out from the cacophony. Sabina. Her name.

pg 261 – “You might as well be one of those stone sculptures,” Alex mused out loud. “Immune to falling in love. No one has ever made your eyes shine the way a stunning unset gem can.”

“Stop worrying.”

“One day you will stop believing in the possibility of heroes, accept the reality of the people you meet, deal with their limitations and learn to make the best of it.”

“Why should I do that? You didn’t. Aunt Nancy didn’t.”

pg 374 – “When you look into the eyes of someone you’re photographing, and glimpse a terrible suffering, don’t turn away,” his father had once told him. “It’s a gift to see into the depths of grief, because only when you realize that someone can be in that much pain and still function, speak civilly, shake your hand and tell you how nice it is to meet you, do you understand why you can’t ever give in or give up. There’s always another chance, another day. That’s the miracle of the human spirit. Take on the pain, Josh. Give it its due. That’s the only way to beat it.”

Why should you read this book?

You can always tell when I really like a book… I have a lot of excerpts from it that I think are the best-written passages. Let me tell you this: I’m in graduate school, and I’m super busy all the time. But I made time for this book. I read it in two days, despite all my assignments, because I was desperate to know what happened.

Read this book for a great example of suspenseful writing, for fleshed out characters, and even for some well-written intimate scenes. If you’re trying to write emotion but don’t know how to begin, this is an awesome start for you. If you’re tackling the idea of fate, and fate bringing your characters together/splitting them apart, read this book.

Book: Private Arrangements

Title: Private Arrangements
Author: Sherry Thomas
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 351 pgs.

Summary: Everyone in London envies Lord Camden and Lady Gigi Tremaine’s marriage. It is the epitome of the proper marriage, as they never make a scene, they respect one another’s freedom, and they aren’t too lovey-dovey. Oh, and they haven’t seen one another for ten years. Now that Gigi wants a divorce, Camden returns to London with an obnoxious request in exchange for her freedom to marry again.

Excerpt:

pg 1 – Only one kind of marriage ever bore Society’s stamp of approval.

Happy marriages were considered vulgar, as matrimonial felicity rarely kept longer than a well-boiled pudding. Unhappy marriages were, of course, even more vulgar, on a par with Mrs Jeffries’s special contraption that spanked forty bottoms at once: unspeakable, for half the upper crust had experienced it firsthand.

Why should you read this book?

This book is a romance, no doubt about it. The intimate scenes are hot, and most importantly, imperative to the relationship between Gigi and Camden. As a married couple that hasn’t seen one another for ten years, there are past disputes that have to be resolved, old wounds re-opened, and ten years of desire to be satiated. Which they do, but always with a purpose.

For those of you writing romance, read Thomas’s book for an example of well-written intimate scenes that not only further the plot, they shove the plot forward with gusto, making you feel everything the characters feel and more. This is the first romance in a long time where I felt like the author really knew what they were doing. I’m definitely adding Thomas’s backlist to my TBR.

Book: A Pale Horse

Title: A Pale Horse
Author: Charles Todd
Genre: Historical Mystery
Length: 360 pgs.

Summary: It is 1920 London, and Inspector Ian Rutledge is freshly traumatized from the Great War. But he pushes it, and the persistent voice of a dead man, away so he can focus on this new mystery. The body of a man in a broken gas mask is found dead in the ruins of an old Abbey in Yorkshire, and no one knows who he is or how he came to be there. Rutledge is sent first to Yorkshire, and then to Berkshire’s White Horse in search of the man’s identity and murderer.

Excerpts:

pg 4 – In the darkness the voice of Hamish MacLeod answered him. A dead man’s voice, but for nearly four years now it had seemed to Rutledge as real as his own. Had had never grown used to hearing it, and yet with time he had come to terms of a sort with it. It was either that or madness. And he feared madness more.

pg 61 – Just as in the war, death pursued him as a policeman as well. It was his chosen profession, but he found himself thinking that the men who had built such splendor had left a greater legacy than most. Names long since forgotten, they lived on in what their hands had wrought. Not guns or tanks or deadly gas, but in stone, defining the human spirit’s capacity to create rather than destroy.

Hamish, good Covenanter that he was, preferred unadorned simplicity.

Why should you read this book?

Part mystery, part literary fiction about a man back from the gassed trenches of the Great World War (WWI to Americans), this book was excellent. I understand it is one in a series about Ian Rutledge, and this book drew me into his world and mind so well that I want to read the entire series. Will he get over his past with Hamish, his dead friend?

Read this book for an example of how to intersperse research and setting between self-reflection, dialogue, and plot. We know where we are and what we’re doing, dropped into a mystery and unsure Rutledge will be able to prove who the killer is, and whether we’re right about our own suspicions. But like I said, this isn’t just a straight mystery. We learn so much about Rutledge in the way he reacts to people, and how he holds conversations with Hamish when alone to appease his guilt. I truly enjoyed this book, and learned a great deal from the writing style.

Book: The Somnambulist

Title: The Somnambulist
Author: Jonathan Barnes
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 353 pgs.

Summary: Edward Moon, the great detective magician, is past his prime and no longer guaranteed a spot at the tables of the upper crust. When a bizarre case falls into his lap, Moon is sure this will be his greatest and last adventure; his constant and silent companion, The Somnambulist,  warns Moon that this will end badly as assassins from other worlds intervene.

Excerpt:

pg 1 – Be warned. This book has no literary merit whatsoever. It is a lurid piece of nonsense, convoluted, implausible, peopled by unconvincing characters, written in drearily pedestrian prose, frequently ridiculous and wilfully bizarre. Needless to say, I doubt you’ll believe a word of it.

pg 92 – Forgive me if the above sounds condescending—I add this last detail only for the benefit of the ignorant and for tourists. I should hope my readers educated enough to recognize the significance of Wren’s achievement without it being explained to them, but regrettable it remains the case that one must always make allowances for dullards. I cannot police the readers of this manuscript and it is a sad and tragic truth that I have never yet succeeded in underestimating the intelligence of the general public.

Why should you read this book?

Well, the inside cover tells me to “remember the name Jonathan Barnes…for he has burst upon the literary scene with a breathtaking and brilliant, frightening and hilarious, dark invention that recalls Neil Gaiman…read on…and be astonished!”

I’m sad to say that I was not impressed, no matter how the inside cover encouraged me to be suitably astonished and bewildered. I was bewildered, but only because I continued to read the book despite the very annoying, self-indulgent narrator who liked to tell me that the entire chapter I just read was a bald-faced lie. This narrator reminded me of all the arrogant guys in my life that I’ve avoided, and it was only by fierce willpower that I got to the end, which was, thankfully, interesting and well-written.

Read this book if you’re interested in taking complete advantage of the first person narration so your reader questions what is true and what isn’t. And if you want to leave them confused and a little annoyed by the end of the last page.

Book: Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England

Title: An Arsonists’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England
Author: Brock Clarke
Genre: Adult Fiction
Length: 303 pgs.

Summary: Sam Pulsifer, the son of two English teachers, bumbles. He realizes this while in jail for an arson conviction (which killed two people) which no one believes was a complete accident. Finally released from jail, Sam attempts to blend into mainstream life again, only to find there are just certain things you can’t live down…. burning down Emily Dickinson’s house as a teenage, for one. Years go by and Sam’s father shows him a collection of letters, all from people who want Sam to burn down the houses of other famous American authors for their own reasons. When these houses start to catch fire mysteriously, Sam’s the most likely culprit, and it’s up to him to prove otherwise.

Excerpts:

pg 82 – Because isn’t this what work is good for? Not so much a way to make your money, but a way you can feel normal even (especially) when you know you are not?

pg 89 – Because this is another thing your average American man in crisis does: he tries to go home, forgetting, momentarily, that he is the reason he left home in the first place, that the home is not his anymore, and that the crisis is him.

pg 155 – She reached over and gently put her hand on his yellow neck and left it there; he shivered noticeably, as though her touch were the best kind of ice.

Why should you read this book?
This book, I read somewhere, was supposed to be a dark comedy about a man who “bumbles.” Well, I agree that the narrator bumbles, he’s self-destructive for no discernable reason, which I find unfuriating and eventually boring, rather than funny. When I read, I tend to read for escapist reasons, or to see a new perspective, or to learn something about humanity (yes, even in romance…). This book only told me that people don’t change, they are selfish and self-descructive, and it’s better for everyone that we learn this as soon as possible.

As such, it’s a little hard for me to think anything other than the fact that Clarke is self-indulgent. While this book is well-written, I think it’s safe to say I’m not the target demographic. If you read it, let me know what you thought because I was all set to love this book and I hate disappointment.