If the Shoe Fits {Book Review}

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About If the Shoe Fits

Julianne used to believe in fairy tales; she’s been watching for Prince Charming to come charging in on his white steed ever since the day her mother read her Cinderella for the first time. But she’s never come close to finding the perfect man-instead she’s always tripping over her childhood best friend, Will. And who finds their Prince Charming on a 10-speed bicycle on the other side of the cul de sac? Well… Julianne does. Only she doesn’t have a clue.
She and Will are attorneys now, and they’ve joined up in private practice in a beautiful Cincinnati office building that overlooks the Ohio River. And then one day Julianne is on her way to court, and runs right smack dab into Prince Charming. But when she looks again, all she finds is a metaphoric sign she is certain came straight from Heaven: The Prince’s toolbox has fallen off the back of his truck, and a work boot along with it. What better way for God to grab the attention of a Cinderella-in-training than to show her a glass slipper…errrr, work boot?…waiting to be reunited with its owner?

So she sets out to track down the mysterious Prince Charming. He’s the most gorgeous guy she’s ever seen…and a caring animal rescuer, too. Surely he must be the soul mate God has prepared her for.

But, Julianne’s prince is starting to look less and less charming all the time. No matter how she tries to romanticize him, he just keeps tumbling down off that dumb pedestal. And with the Bar Association dinner coming up that will honor her for her outstanding charity work over the year, Julianne wants so much for her friends and colleagues to see her with someone besides her best friend Will. To make matters worse, Prince Charming has no designs on wearing a penguin suit and attending a stuffy old dinner. With her pride pressing in on her like sticks from a cactus, Julianne sinks to the bottom of the proverbial barrel and actually offers to pay Paul to be her date.
Julianne is on a collision course with God’s perfect plan for her life…if only she could open her eyes and see it before it’s too late.

My Review

This is a cute, quick read.  It is quite charming and in places, very funny.  I love the friendship that Julianne and Will share – it’s almost too good to want to push them to romance at some points!  As characters, Julianne and Will are also themselves charming, although there are times I want to shake them both.  Julianne, as a successful attorney, should not have put up with NEARLY the crap she put up with from her supposed “Prince Charming”, who is pretty much the vilest creature on Earth!

I loved the relationship that Julianne had with her mom, but didn’t like the relationships that she had with other women in the story – especially the other main female character – also an attorney.  As opposed to be friendly or even civil, they were extremely back biting and petty.  I hate to see women be like that in real life, and I don’t love the perpetuation of the stereotype that women are ultimately at odds with each other (over a man).

That being said, this is really a fun (and funny!) story that is definitely worth the time to read!  In terms of it being a Christian fiction novel, there is not a lot of preachiness or a real concentration of the religious aspects – it blends nicely with the story.

 

 

The Frenchman {Book Review & Giveaway}

*  I received a free ebook copy of The Frenchman in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

 

About The Frenchman

Fleur Smithers rarely veers off the straight and (excruciatingly) narrow. So moving to the seaport town of Toulon to live with her newfound biological mother—an inspector with the French National Police—for one year is a pretty major detour.

Son of France’s crime royalty family and international rugby star, Louis Messette, is devoted to his sport, famille and nothing else. But the saucy American he meets one night changes everything. She sparks a desire in him like no other. Possession takes root. She will do as he commands.

Bit by bit Fleur slips into the Frenchman’s realm of wanton pleasure agreeing to his one condition: that she keep their affair secret. She serves up her heart without reservation in the hub of the glittering Côte d’Azur, and the along the soulful Seine in Paris, unaware of the danger she is in. For her new lover’s “family business” will pit her against her mother, the police woman sworn to bring down the Messettes. And by then, far more than Fleur’s heart will be on the line.

My Review

Ladies, this is a steamy one.  If you’re into bad boys with good hearts with hot accents, killer muscles, and tattoos, this book’s hunky main character will tie you up in knots for sure!  The setting in France is fantastic and the romance is well written between Fleur and Louis.  There were great subplots with Fleur’s mom and I really enjoyed the non-romantic part of the story as well.  The mystery portion involves the Messettes, a well-known French crime family, and Fleur’s mom’s attempts to bring them down.  Fleur is a bit naive at times, but it’s forgivable, and there are some seriously sexy pieces.  Seriously.  Don’t let your kids find this one, guys.  The ending is incredibly well wrapped up in a nice little happily ever after package, which I love!  All in all, this is a great, quick, and super steamy read.

About the Author

Lesley Young is an award-winning Canadian journalist by day, and obsessive novelist by night. Her debut novel, Sky’s End (Soulmate Publishing, 2013) hit #9 on Amazon’s sci-fi romance paid best-seller list in its first three months of release.

Not too long after that, she started dreaming up quirky heroines who lose their hearts to extremely powerful, flawed heroes, only to find out what love really is while on a dangerous adventure abroad. She called it the Crime Royalty Romance series, and landed herself a pretty big agent at Spencerhill Associates. Never one to take the obvious path, Lesley ultimately decided to self-publish. She’s never sure who or what will pop up in her imagination next. The Irishman? The Spaniard? The Hawaiian? Anything’s possible, and she loves suggestions (or recommendations of really hot, er, talented, actors to work as a muses).

Stay in touch with her and feel free to forward on decent options at Facebook.com/LesleyYoungBooks and @LesleyYoungBks (note: Charlie Hunnam’s already taken the lead role of The American—#3 Crime Royalty Romance…coming soon!).

Connect with Lesley Young:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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How to Catch a Prince {Book Review & Giveaway}

* I received a free copy of How to Catch a Prince in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to leave a positive review and all opinions are my own.

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 About How to Catch a Prince

How to Catch a Prince (Zondervan, February 2015)

She caught her prince once. Can she catch him again?

American heiress Corina Del Rey’s life was devastated by war. Every thing she loved was lost. But after five years of grief, she’s shed her grave clothes and started over in the sunshine along the Florida coast.

But some things are not so easily forgotten. When a secret from her past confronts her face to face, she realizes she must follow her heart. Even if it cost her everything.

Prince Stephen of Brighton Kingdom is a former Royal Air Command lieutenant turned star rugby player, trying to make sense of his life after the devastation of war.
When his brother, King Nathaniel, discovers Stephen’s pre war secret, he must deal with an aspect of his life he longed to forget. But how can he do so without exposing the truth and breaching national security?

Yet, true love has a destiny all it’s own. As the cathedral bells peal through Cathedral City, Corina and Stephen must chose to answer the call of love on their hearts.
Or let it be lost forever?

 My Review

I won’t call this book your typical princess romance novel.  It definitely had its light moments – I enjoyed the banter between Stephen and Corina, although it took me much longer to get into Stephen’s character than it did for Corina.   Corina’s struggle as she tries to figure out what it means to “Love well”, and Stephen’s struggles in dealing with the aftermath of war make these characters interesting, and Hauch does a nice job of creating characters that I grew to care about.  There is also what I would call “supernatural” aspect to this novel, which I actually really enjoyed (especially the crew at “The Manor”, where Corina stays that no one else seems to know about).  This was the third book in the series, and I enjoyed this book enough to pick up the other two as well!

I find in many Christian romances these days that the actual “Christian” parts are somewhat understated – more of a casual recognition that God exists and plays a guiding force in the characters’ lives.  This is not really the case with How to Catch a Prince.  In many parts of the book, the characters’ faith and struggles with faith are front and center.  I think Stephen struggles the most and eventually receives the message that his worth is determined through God.

Check out other reviews here.

Enter to Win

Enter to win a “royal” prize pack! 

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A royal-themed Brighton charm bracelet
  • 2 tickets to see the new Cinderella movie
  • The Royal Wedding series (Once Upon a Prince, Princess Ever After, and How to Catch a Prince)

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 23rd. Winner will be announced March 24th on Rachel’s blog.

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The Brothers’ Keepers {Book Review}

*Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of The Brothers’ Keepers in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

About The Brothers’ Keepers

A friend’s deception. A family’s dilemma.

While cataloguing looted antiquities in Brussels, archaeologist Grace Madison discovers that her daughter has vanished in France, and her son’s bride has been attacked in Switzerland. After the Madisons unearth a relic whose taproot pierces the Ancient Near East, they realize that before they can save themselves, they must rescue an old friend. If he’ll let them.

They sacrifice hearts and lives in a race against eternity on a four-thousand-year-old trail crossing three continents.

Because choosing what’s right is all that’s left.

My Review

I love the Parched book series!  I started out reading “When Camels Fly”, and like that book, The Brothers’ Keepers starts out fast and never loses that breakneck pace.  Usually I can figure out what is going on fairly quickly, but Norton does a masterful job and leading readers to the end without giving them much time to figure it out for themselves.  The historical and geographical context to these novels is fantastic – The Brothers’ Keepers will make you feel like you’ve been on a tour of Europe.

At the beginning of Brother’s Keeper, Grace is faced with the mysterious disappearance (again) of her daughter Maggie.  Along with her husband and son, they search for the truth whose story begins in the first novel, and try to find out why Maggie has been targeted.  The characters in this book are well-developed and gloriously imperfect.  This is a smart, well-written book that will keep you up at night reading!

 

About the Author

NLN Horton is the winner of  ‘A People’s Choice Award’ in fiction, NLB Horton returned to writing fiction after an award-winning career in journalism and marketing as well as earning her Masters of Biblical Studies degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. She has surveyed Israeli and Jordanian archaeological digs, tossed a tarantula from her skiff into the Amazon after training with an Incan shaman, driven uneventfully through Rome, and consumed gallons of afternoon tea while travelling across five continents.

NLB Horton is a member of the venerable Explorers Club, based in New York City and founded in 1904 as an international multidisciplinary professional society of explorers and scientists. From her home in the Rocky Mountains, she writes, cross-country skis, gardens and researches ideas for her next novel. Horton’s first novel in the Parched series, When Camels Fly, was released in May 2014.  The Brothers’ Keepers is the second, with the third installment available in fall 2015.

NLB Horton’s Website: http://www.nlbhorton.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NLBHorton
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NLBHorton
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/nlbhorton/
Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8121286.N_L_B_Horton

Unseen Book Blast + $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

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Unseen - EbookMackenzie Day constantly struggles to silence the voices in her head. The inner thoughts of those around her intrude upon every aspect of her life, threatening to turn it into chaos.

All her life, she thought she was alone as a mind reader–a freak.

Then a member of a secret organization called The Unseen suddenly introduces himself, and she’s immersed in a world she never knew existed. They teach her to hone her skills as a reader, but to what end? Secrets surround her, humming just out of reach, filling her with questions.

Who are they? What do they do with their mind-reading abilities? In the end, just how far will Mackenzie go to be part of The Unseen?

Buy on Amazon | Apple | Kobo | B&N | Google Play

 

About the author:

Stephanie - unseenStephanie Erickson has always had a passion for the written word. She pursued her love of literature at Flagler College, in St. Augustine, FL, where she graduated with a BA in English. She has received several honors in her writing career, including recognition in the 72nd Annual Writer’s Digest Competition.

After graduation, she married and followed her husband in pursuit of his dream. The Cure and The Blackout were written to reignite Stephanie’s passion, when she found the time. Now that he is settled in his career, it’s her turn to devote more time and energy into writing.

Stephanie currently has 3 projects planned for 2015. Her upcoming release is well underway and is slated for a March 2015 publication date.

Stephanie, of course, loves to read and write. She also enjoys living on the beach on the Florida’s Treasure Coast. Most of all, she and her husband are in love with their baby girl.

Follow Stephanie on
Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter/Website | Literary Addicts

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Devil Music {Book Review}

* I received a free copy of Devil Music in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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About the Book

 Cain Pseudomantis leads a miserable life. Bound to the mortal world by a powerful spell no demon could hope to break, he must obey his human master’s every command or face harsh punishment. He finds solace in the rock music which he listens to when he isn’t running unsavory errands for his master. Then everything changes. While on a mission in a seedy section of 1980s Los Angeles, Cain impulsively buys an electric guitar and discovers an unusual talent for music, a talent that catapults him to hair metal stardom. With three superpowered human band mates and his beautiful girlfriend Michelle by his side, his life starts to look a lot better. But Cain soon finds that even rock stars have troubles. The crusading televangelist Nathaniel Breen—who happens to be Michelle’s father—accuses him of turning the city’s youth to Satan worship. Meanwhile a mysterious killer known only as the Engineer terrorizes the Los Angeles rock scene with a series of brutal murders. When Cain and his friends attempt to unmask the killer, they discover a deadly secret that could cost Cain his hard-won freedom, and possibly his life.Get Devil Music through AmazonBarnes & Noble, or iTunes.

 About the Author

About the author: Carly Orosz lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan with her husband. She graduated from Kalamazoo College and went on to earn an MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College. Her poetry has been published in Wavelength Journal and SpoutMagazine. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, weaving on a hand loom, and studying the art and cultures of pre-Columbian Mexico.

Connect with Carly on her websiteFacebookTwitter,or GoodReads..

 My Review

The first thing that you need to know about this book is that it is SUPER long.  It will take you a while to read this, even if you are a fast reader.  The beginning of the book does a nice job of character development (especially of Cain, the main character), and this book captured my attention almost immediately.

The philosophical questions posed by this book are very interesting.  Good versus evil is definitely turned on its head in this book.  Cain, although a demon, is kind and very, very likable.   The book is quite thrilling in places and it kept me interested all the way through! I highly recommend it.

And if you need a soundtrack to go along with this rockin’ novel set in the 1980s, here’s a good start!

 

 Prizes!!!

About the prizes: Who doesn’t love prizes? You could win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards or an autographed copy of Devil Music! Here’s what you need to do…

  1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest
  2. Leave a comment on my blog

That’s it! One random commenter during this tour will win the first gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win–the full list of participating bloggers can be found HERE. The other two prizes will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked below or on the official Devil Music tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

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Interview with Meritropolis Author Joel Ohman

 

Meritropolis

In Meritropolis everyone is assigned a numerical Score that decides their worth to society and whether they live or die. After a young boy is killed because of a low Score, his brother plots to take down the System.

Sounds good, right? Well, this exciting YA Dystopia is on sale for just 99 cents Thursday, November 27 through Monday, December 1. You can pick up your copy on Amazon.

To celebrate, we are offering a giveaway for an autographed copy and a $100 Amazon gift card—hooray!

Check out this interview with Joel Ohman, the author of the book critics are calling, “The Hunger Games meets The Village with a young Jack Reacher as a protagonist”, then scroll to the end of this post to learn more about the giveaway. Happy reading, and good luck!

 

Reader Interview with Joel Ohman

Who or what was your inspiration to write about post-apocalyptic, dystopian sci-fi?

I’ve read a lot in this genre, so I would say it’s a mix of a lot of different things. I really just wanted to explore this question of, “What gives a person worth?” Is it their usefulness to society? Is it because someone loves them? Is it because of how they look? Is it because of their health or ability? As a Christian, I believe that all people have worth, because they are made in the image of God. I wanted to explore some different takes on this question. I think that the post-apocalyptic/dystopian/sci-fi genre was the best vehicle to tackle some of those deep philosophical questions in a fun and interesting way.

Why do you write? Is it for fun, or because you have something you need to say in your writing?

Some writers are loath to say their writing has a message, because maybe they think doing so diminishes their art (not true, in my opinion), but I think that everyone has a message in their writing, even if they aren’t as consciously focused on it—and that’s a good thing. My message is in my epigraph: “Because everyone matters – Psalm 139”.

Why the title Meritropolis?

I wanted a short one word title that was a clever—or at least semi-clever—play on two different words. I like “Meritropolis” because it combines “Merit” and “Metropolis,” two words that are great for describing a city where each resident’s worth is measured by a score given to them.

In Meritropolis how were the animal combinations decided upon? For example, I know you chose to write about a bion (bull-lion), as well as many other freaks of nature. So what I want to know is how did you decided which animals to meld together and why.

I have a big list of animal combinations that I came up with before I began writing the book, and I tried to work in as many as I could. Sometimes the only criteria was that I liked the way the name sounded. Look for many more in the following books!

Can you tells us about your characters and who/what inspired them?

I am a big believer in John Truby’s approach to building a “character web”, because this deepens the relationships between characters and helps to make each of the characters more complex. Absent building a good character web, it can be all too easy to fall into the not-very-true-to-real-life good-person/bad-person false dichotomy where your protagonist devolves into this I-can-do-no-wrong character and your antagonist is just pure evil. I was very much aiming to show the imperfections and brokenness in each of the characters. My thinking as a Christian influences this to some degree, given that the Bible teaches that we are all essentially the same; we are all sinners—only God is perfect.

Do you have a favorite genre that you like to read?

I read pretty much everything! Fiction, non-fiction, you name it! I am of the opinion that, as an author, I can learn something from almost every kind of writing. Sometimes, it most definitely is a matter of learning what not to do—but, on the whole, I love to read a wide variety of writing styles, genres, etc.

Are there any books that have inspired your own writing?

I read A LOT so there are many different things that have shaped my writing over the years, but I wouldn’t say there was any particular book, or books, that I was consciously looking to for inspiration while writing Meritropolis. Looking back though I can definitely see different threads of influence in almost everything I have read over the years that contribute toward making Meritropolis what it is: the strong protagonist of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, the philosophical bent of C.S. Lewis’ fiction, the dystopian setting of Hugh Howey’s WOOL series, and many more.

Are there any authors that have emerged in the last three years that have caught your interest?

Hugh Howey is an author that I really like that has caught my attention lately. I would highly recommend his WOOL series!

Don’t forget!

Meritropolis is marked down from its regular price of $5.99, but only for a limited time. Feed your Kindle by picking up a discounted copy for just 99 cents, but make sure you do it before December 2!

Now enter the giveaway

Don’t see the Rafflecopter widget on my blog? Visit www.novelpublicity.com/meritropolis

Shatter Point + $50 Amazon Card Giveaway {Book Review}

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About the book 

Maggie met Cooper at a young age, but even then she sensed something was wrong with him. His charm, good looks, and wealth could not hide the danger that burned in his sapphire eyes. Some nightmares don’t go away. He’d been haunting her from a distance for as long as she could remember.Now things have changed. When her sons Jack and Tom discover she’s been taken, they set out to rescue her and uncover nefarious family secrets, explosive government conspiracies, and a series of horrific murders along the way. Only their colorful great aunt and a covert resistance group can help them navigate the dark underworld full of political subterfuge and class warfare. All the while, Maggie struggles to outwit her tormentor in a life and death psychological battle of tense desperation. Will Jack and Tom arrive before Cooper reaches his shatter point? Get Shatter Point through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

My Review

This a  good futuristic, dystopian-type novel.  It is quite suspenseful once I got into the book and got to know the characters a bit.  I didn’t realize at first that this book is actually the second in a series, which is a credit to the author.  There are multiple story lines in the book and the author does a good job of bringing them back together.  The book actually begins with a hint at the story line described above, and then delves into a medical mystery which is good enough to sustain it’s own book!

It was quite suspenseful and the action keeps it moving.  It is definitely worth a read, and I would like to check it out again after I read the first book in the series.

 

About the Author – Prizes!!!

About the prizes: Who doesn’t love prizes? You could win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards or an autographed copy of Shatter Point! Here’s what you need to do…

  1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest
  2. Leave a comment on my blog

That’s it! One random commenter during this tour will win the first gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win–the full list of participating bloggers can be found HERE. The other two prizes will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked below or on the official Shatter Point tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

About the author: Jeff Altabef lives in New York with his wife, two daughters, and Charlie the dog. He spends time volunteering at the writing center in the local community college. After years of being accused of “telling stories,” he thought he would make it official. He writes in both the thriller and young adult genres. Fourteenth Colony, a political thriller, was his debut novel. Shatter Point, a psychological thriller, is Jeff’s second novel. Jeff is under contract with Evolved Publishing for a YA/Fantasy series he is co-authoring with his teenaged daugher. The first in the series Chosen: Wind Catcher is set to be releasded in March. As an avid Knicks fan, Jeff is prone to long periods of melancholy during hoops season. Jeff has a column on The Examiner focused on writing and a blog designed to encourage writing by those that like telling stories.

Connect with Jeff on his website, Facebook, Twitter,or GoodReads..

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The Demon Stone – Interview with Author Chris Datta

Today I’m excited to bring you a Guest Post and Kind Fire Giveaway from Chris Datta. His first Novel Touched with Fire was a number one best-seller in the Historical Fiction category, and this supernatural thriller lives up to the high expectations readers have for this talented author.

The Demon Stone by Christoper Datta

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The Demon Stone is a powerful supernatural thriller that leads you from the killing fields of Africa to the quiet Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota. In braided narratives, Datta spins a terrifying story about the spiritual forces—both real and supernatural—that incite the basest, bloodiest and most frightening of human behaviors.
“Reading Chris Datta is like riding a rollercoaster. It’s a fast ride filled with twists and turns. His Demon Stone is scary fun. Stephen King, watch your back!”
-Richard Rashke, author of The Killing of Karen Silkwood
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Interview with Chris Datta

Novel Publicity: What drew you to writing about spiritual forces, and could you explain how spiritual forces can be both real and supernatural?

Christopher Datta: I want to write books that matter and do more than tell a story, although I think that telling a good story is critically important. What could be more significant than exploring our spiritual lives and to look for purpose beyond unexamined living and consuming day to day? I want to ask questions and lead the reader on a journey so that by the end of the book he or she hopefully comes to a new understanding about life.
I read a great deal about new advances in theoretical physics. It is a fascinating field that increasingly shows us that the more we know, the more we come to see how little we really grasp about the mysteries of the Universe. There are things about the cosmos and our place in it that we may never fully understand; that are, in fact, beyond our ability as human beings to fully comprehend. In Demon Stone, I symbolically represent those mysteries through the supernatural.
NP: The two geographic locations in the book are very distant from each other. How did Africa & Minnesota become part of the setting for The Demon Stone?
CD: I lived for many years in Minnesota (I went to high school with Jessie Ventura!) and I loved camping in the isolated Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota. The wilderness is both a thrilling and at the same time dangerous and even alien environment, which again serves as a metaphor in the story for life. There is an incident with a black bear in the book that is close to something that really happened to me.
My career as an American diplomat took me to many places in Africa. The original inspiration for the book occurred when I was traveling through rural Uganda. I came across a hut with a hand painted sign advertising the services of a local shaman. Intrigued, I stopped and met the old man, who offered to cast a curse on any enemies I wanted eliminated. That got me thinking about what it would be like to have that kind of power, and what the unintended consequences of using it might be. The record of the human use of unbridled power is not very good. In my travels through many war zones I have seen incredible beauty and sacrifice as well as the most horrible and brutal acts of cruelty.
NP: Did you have to do a lot of research into different cultures and religions to write this book, and can we expect to delve into the differences between cultures throughout the book?
CD: I have lived and worked for many years in several African countries. I also studied the belief in demons in Africa, and Agbadofrom my story is a demon well known in Sierra Leone. My son is an adopted war orphan from Sierra Leone who has been with me since he was 14 years old and he was a big help with some portions of the book. Religion and culture play a big role in the story.
NP: How much of the book was inspired by your work overseas?
CD: I saw the aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda, was in Sierra Leone at the end of the brutal civil war in that country, was the acting Ambassador to Liberia when the capitol was attacked by two rebel armies in a war that I helped to end and I was again the acting Ambassador to the Republic of South Sudan when war broke out between that nation and Sudan. Again, I played a major role in helping to end that conflict. I have brought two African war criminals to justice and was active in a program to try to end the reign of terror led by Joseph Koney, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, one of the most brutal and deadly terrorist groups in Africa. General Mosquito in my book is based on a real warlord in Sierra Leone. I actually played a role in bringing him to justice. I have had to deal first hand with the bane of child soldiers and modern slavery in Africa.
NP: The Demon Stone seems to have everything from love & tragedy to religion and supernatural beasts. Can you expand a bit on your writing process, and how you were able to bring the characters together across vast distances and very different settings?
CD: That’s complicated! Many of the characters in the story are based on real people I have known. General Mosquito, for instance. Gem and Hampton, the two dogs in the story, are dogs I have known and loved very much. Basically, I took experiences and people from my life in America and in Africa, put them in an environment of my creation, and let them weave the story together. My books never turn out the way I think they will at the beginning of writing them. The characters at some point take over and they tell the story. Sometimes, in my experience, all a good writer has to do is listen carefully to what the people he creates are telling him. That certainly happened in Demon Stone. But that shouldn’t be surprising. If you are really on a spiritual journey in telling a story, and you do a good job of it, you should expect to wind up in unexpected places.
NP: Who were the easiest and toughest characters to write and why?
CD: The toughest character to write was Morgan. She is one of the main antagonists of the book, but I didn’t want her to be a caricature and there was a real risk of her being a two dimensional archetype instead of a real flesh and blood person. On some level, for an antagonist to work well in a story, the reader needs to identify or on some level sympathize with that person. Morgan does terrible things, but terrible things have happened to her. I hope that comes across in the story.
The easiest character to write was Hampton. He’s a dog, a very loveable, dopey and fearless dog. I enjoyed writing about him.
NP: People often talk about feeling like they’re being followed, especially if they have to walk through a secluded area by themselves. What gave you the idea to play on people’s fear of being stalked for this book?
CD: All the time I spent in the isolated Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota. I love it, but there is nothing that will give you the heebie-jeebies faster than being alone in the middle of the deep forest in the middle of the night. I suspect thousands of years of human evolution dealing with the risks of being secluded in the dark in a wilderness just naturally puts the fear in us. We somehow intuitively feel the threat of being hunted.
NP: Demons are part of many religions and cultures myths. Was there a particular reason you decided to write about demons?
CD: We create demons, and we have always created demons. They symbolically represent the forces in life that we fear. A spiritual journey, which I hope readers of Demon Stone find the book to be, needs to confront those demons and the dark side of our natures.
NP: Symbolism plays a large part in The Demon Stone. The Demon within can sometimes be as scary as a supernatural being seems. Do you think that talking about human behavior through the use of symbolism makes talking about tragedies like murder easier or harder?
CD: The most frightening sections of Demon Stone are not encounters with the demon, but the real and terrifying things people do to each other, sections of the book based on real events. The demon Agbado is a symbol of that dark nature that haunts us, that leads some of us to rationalize the most horrible of acts andrepresents the loss of empathy that permits people to commit such unspeakable crimes as genocide, which I have personally witnessed. To me, the most terrifying story in the book is the tale of the child soldier Muctar. This story is based on a real child. The demon within is the real monster of the book. But yes, I felt the use of symbolism made talking about these horrors easier, just as Halloween or The Day of the Dead in Mexico make dealing with monsters and death easier for us to confront.
NP: This is a two part question. The cover of The Demon Stone is very unique and doesn’t focus on any particular character, rather an object. Who did you choose to do the cover art and why? How hard was it to settle on the cover, or was it love at first sight?
CD: The mask on the cover of Demon Stone is from my personal collection. I bought it in Rwanda when I was there helping to reopen our embassy directly following the genocide in that country. It was always in the back of my mind to use it as the cover for this book (and yes, I started this book that long ago). Finding that mask in Rwanda at that particular moment, and the way it looked, just made it seem right to me for this book.
This type of mask is actually from the Congo, and is used in coming of age ceremonies for young men. A good friend of mine, Don Hurlbert, is a photographer for the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC, and he took the photo. Mallory Rock designed the cover. She is a terrific graphic designer I know and I use her for all the covers on my books.
NP: Civil conflict and slavery were both a focus in your working life. Do you find that your writing reflects this in The Demon Stone?
CD: Absolutely. It is a major part of what this book is about, and not just in The Demon Stone. I also have published Touched with Fire, a novel set in the American Civil War inspired by the true story of a slave woman who escapes by posing as a man. She later joins the Union army disguised as a man so she can fight her way South to free her husband. That story is turning into a trilogy, and book two, Fire and Dust, will be out in November. It also extensively addresses the issue of slavery in America before and during the Civil War, but is told exclusively from the Confederate side of the war. Book three will be set in the Reconstruction period of American history and the characters from the first two books will meet.
NP: Survivors’ guilt can be devastating to many people who work in war torn countries and come back home to a peaceful life. Having worked overseas, and in war torn countries, do you have any advice for others. Would you say writing The Demon Stone has been a cathartic experience for you?
CD: I have been in some very tough situations involving life and death issues for sometimes thousands of people, as well as having been under fire myself. Sometimes I saved people, sometimes I couldn’t.
I have had to deal with instances of PTSD. It was never easy, and there were times I had to step away from Demon Stone because it was getting too deep into places I was not, at the time, ready to go to for the sake of my own well being.
What helps? Giving yourself permission to take the time to heal and being able to confront the demons with good friends are both important. Know and accept that you are not Superman, and don’t expect yourself to be. That’s not healthy. In the end, writing Demon Stone was cathartic, but there were times it was right for me to keep away from it until I was ready.

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About the Author

Chris1Debut author CHRISTOPHER DATTA is no stranger to civil conflict or the still-extant scourge of slavery. Most recently the acting ambassador to the Republic of South Sudan where he helped end a war in April of 2012, he has spent a distinguished career moving from one strife-torn country to another, including Lebanon, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. A lifelong student of the American Civil War, his research for Touched with Fire is exacting and based in part on a true story.

House on Plunkett Street {Book Review}

Thank you to the author, Lorena Bathey, for providing a free copy of her book for me to review.

House on Plunkett Street

 

As you may have read recently, I have reviewed a few books from a “new to me” author Lorena Bathey, who wrote The X and Beatrice Munson.  I had a chance to review another one of her novels, House on Plunkett Street.  This book is by far my favorite of the three books that I have read by Ms. Bathey so far.

House on Plunkett Street tells the story of Phoebe, a girl who is sick of her ho-hum life, including a boring job and an equally boring boyfriend.  Her luck begins to change when she lands an awesome apartment on Plunkett Street.  The apartment, which seems to speak to Phoebe from the very beginning, is part of a complex which has housed women “in need” throughout its history.  As Phoebe settles into her new home, she is visited by three ghosts from the past who help her on her journey to become a better, more fulfilled woman.

Having read two other of Lorena Bathey’s books, I can say that this is by far my favorite.  Phoebe is incredibly likeable, and I found myself relating to her in some ways.  The storytelling that Bathey does is excellent – the stories of Phoebe’s ghostly visitors are well told and interesting, although I liked the first two much better than the third.  House on Plunkett Street has the perfect mix of drama and romance, and it was a really enjoyable read, full of girl power, which is a welcome theme in all of Bathey’s books.

I would highly recommend this book to fans of historical fiction and chick lit – although I definitely think it was some appeal for the gentlemen as well.

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I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.