Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Secret Book Review

Title:  The Secret
Series:  Irin Chronicles
Author:  Elizabeth Hunter
My Rating:  5 Breathtaking 's

First Thoughts:  A Lyrical, Hauntingly Beautiful love story that is so much more...

Elizabeth,  Thank you for an ARC of The Secret.  It is my pleasure to review this book.  This series resides on my Favorites Shelf.  It is quite simply magical.
I had the pleasure of reviewing both of the previous books in the Irin Chronicles series.  You can read my reviews here:

The Scribe

The Singer

The Secret Synopsis:

Only when the darkness falls can you see the light of the stars.
For thousands of years, the scribes and singers of the Irin race have existed to protect humanity and guard the gifts of the Forgiven. They have lived in the shadows. They have kept their secrets.
But the Irin aren’t the only race with secrets.

Ava and Malachi have found each other, but wounds as deep as theirs don’t heal overnight. While the Irin world struggles to correct the power imbalance left by the Rending of the Irina, Malachi and Ava struggle to connect their past with their present.

The Fallen may scheme, but Ava has found her power and refuses to be an angel’s pawn. And while Malachi may have forgotten his history, the scribe’s relentless search for answers leads both him and his mate to the heart of the Irin power structure in Vienna, where knowledge is guarded more closely than gold and those with power will do anything to keep it.

Malachi and Ava have survived the darkness, but will they ever discover its secrets? A powerful cabal of the Fallen may hold the answers, but to surrender them, it wants the Irin race to finally face their enemies. Both those coming from the outside, and those raging within.

My Review:

"She walked as she always walked in these dreams.  Slowly.  With no thought of where she was going.  She only knew that within this forest, a dark angel walked on her right and her mate walked on her left."   (Opening scene, Prologue of The Secret)

From the opening lines to the very last page, I was bound by the magic of Elizabeth Hunter's The Secret.  The apprehension I was feeling over knowing this book would wrap up Ava & Malachi's storyline vanished, as their story unfolded in an achingly beautiful way that only Hunter can deliver.  She truly has a magical gift of rendering a story that will touch your spirit & soul, leaving you satisfied and yet longing for more.

The Secret finds Ava & Malachi reunited, searching for her roots - the truth of her bloodline & magic, and the key to recovering more of Malachi's memories.  With Ava's father, Jasper, refusing to give them answers, they begin a search for Ava's grandmother, amid warnings of a dark secret, so unthinkable, so impossible that learning the truth may be more than Ava can bear.   She often walks with Jaron in her dreams, awakening confused and struggling with what is reality or only dreams.  What does Jaron want?  Is he protecting her? Does he have a hidden agenda? Rumblings of a pending battle escalates the suspense, as the ancient power struggle between the Fallen, Forgiven, and Gregori materializes as a destiny they cannot avoid - is it also one they cannot survive?  The final struggle for power is nigh as forces secretly invade the city.  Secrets are revealed that will change everything as the Irin are forced to face their enemies and reevaluate past beliefs about the Fallen and their children.  Who is an ally & who is foe?  

It's very difficult to discuss The Secret without giving away...well, secrets!  Suffice to say this story is hauntingly beautiful, delivered in a lyrical manner typical of Hunter.  At times, the verse is like an addictive melody stealing into your mind, drugging you with its refrain.  The characters are bold - alive with color...truly a visual experience.  Ava is a worthy heroine, capable of standing on her own but graceful in her need of her mate.  Malachi is a warrior without the arrogance - always, always protective of his mate, yet accepting of her differences & power.  Together, they are so much more as they join forces with a diverse supporting cast to face the ultimate challenge.  

The Secret is a magical love story, a story of offering & assending redemption through grace, a story of embracing one's fate & destiny.  Hunter is a master weaver, picking up threads from the previous books, mixing in new vivid lines of love, hope, angst, betrayal, & destiny and weaving them all together into a beautiful, intense, powerful explosion that climaxes on the pages in a fireball of revelations.  It is a magical & mythical, breathtaking spiritual-like experience.  A perfect ending to a perfect series.  A Page Burner!  I loved every single word. It will reside on my Favorites 2015 Shelf!

My Rating:  5 Hauntingly Beautiful 's...And that's the truth!

Cross My



He wasn't whole.  He wasn't the man that she'd once loved.  He was different.  Damaged.
"Do you love me?" he asked.
"Then I'm whole."
A wound doesn't heal just because it stops bleeding.  They were both still wounded, but her love had stopped the bleeding.  Malachi knew everything else would come in time.
♥          ♥          ♥          ♥          ♥

"Why do you visit me like this?" she asked him.
"Because I want to."
"There is another reason."
"If I am here, then the other cannot be."
♥          ♥          ♥          ♥          ♥

Some mornings Ava woke feeling as if she could drift away.  She was smoke on those mornings.  The thick fog that hung over the ocean in the moonlight.
♥          ♥          ♥          ♥           ♥

Malachi opened his eyes and Volund was there, gold eyes wide with madness.
"She is mine!" the angel screamed.
♥           ♥          ♥          ♥           ♥

"I think I'd pull down heaven if that's what it took to keep you here with me."
"And I'd abandon it if you weren't there."
♥          ♥          ♥          ♥           ♥

"We were meant to be like this.  Two halves of the same soul.  Dark and light together."
Their union was a reflection of the peace he'd seen.  Holy and wholly.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Can Evil Ever Truly Be Eradicated? Or is it immortal? In The Woods BTB Tour - Author Q&A, Review, Excerpt, Giveaway

This was the kind of fear that stirred in the darkest night, when awakening from a disturbing dream to wonder if what lurked within its shadows could be real. (quote from In The Woods)

  • Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
  • Release Date: January 17, 2015
  • Length: 201 Pages
  • Published by: Katharsys Pictures Publishing
  • Buy Links: Amazon
  • My Rating:  4.5 Heart-Stopping Hearts
  • My Reaction:  Anytime a book can make me question reality, fear dark shadows, & afraid to turn the lights off, it is horror done right.
Based upon the original horror screenplay IN THE WOODS by Lynn Drzick, now an independent motion picture.

Hundreds of years ago their battle began . . .
In an age of knights and sorcery, a good king must raise a monster to protect his people from the demon unleashed by a dark-hearted enemy determined to claim his kingdom. But once called forth upon blood-drenched fields, can such evil ever be truly laid to rest?
To a present day community held hostage by fear, a serial killer will soon be the least of its worries after two off-duty firefighters enter a forest and find a grave. What they dig up isn’t a victim or family pet. When they race from the woods, they bring a timeless hell with them . . 
                                          ♦        ♦        ♦        ♦        ♦        ♦        ♦

Before we get to my review of In The Woods, I'd like to thank Nancy for stopping by to answer some questions.  Only a couple - I promise!

Was it easier or more challenging to write a book based on a screenplay, to start with someone else's vision of a story and turn it into a book with the Nancy Gideon signature?

Not easier or more challenging – just different!  It was definitely an adjustment using someone else’s interpretation of a story when I might have gone in a different direction (sometimes something as simple as the difference between a male and a female’s POV), but what a fun and unique opportunity for this movieaholic!  Since I write my first drafts basically as a glorified screenplay, building from that framework came naturally.  I had the dialogue and scene action but I got to create everything else from scratch: character backstory and motivations, the descriptions, development of secondary storylines and characters to breathe literary life into the outline the way the camera, special effects, and sound techs would the film. And the bonus was I didn’t have to work on a shoestring budget.  The only limit was my imagination. 

Lynn Drzick, the screenwriter and director of IN THE WOODS was a dream to work with, full of ideas and enthusiasm, and thrilled to see his vision fleshed out in book format the way he’d imagined it for the big screen.  We recently got together with DJ Perry, the leading man, to do a voice over commentary for the new Blu-ray and Video on Demand release of the IN THE WOODS film! 15 years later and it was like no time had passed at all.  And while we were enjoying Lynn’s homemade scones, we couldn’t resist beginning to plot ITW II!

It’s obvious you're a fan of horror movies & books.  Is horror a genre you are interested in exploring as a writer?  Is there a horror book or maybe a series in your writing future?  

I read horror long before I read romance. If I could do Dean Koontz-type justice to a horror series, I’d be all over it!  I love to plot and I like a dark, twisty tale to sink my teeth into.  You never know. It’s all just a matter of focus.

What can fans expect to see next from Nancy Gideon?

 I wouldn’t be able to face you if I wasn’t working on the next book in the “By Moonlight” series! UNLEASHED BY SHADOWS should be finished by late summer.  The first three books in my “Midnight” vampire romance series (looong out of print) are being re-released by ImaJinn Books. All nine books are being updated with new covers and will come out one per month beginning in July! After that, maybe it’ll be time to explore that darker side.

Staying with the book/movie theme, what throws a scare into you?  Gives you the heebie-jeebies?

  • Horror books/authorsin a good way-Dean Koontz and Stephen King, in a creeped out way-Clive Barker.  The Stand and Lightning are two of my favorite books.

  • Horror movies: in a good way-Cabin in the Woods, Odd Thomas, The Crazies, the Woman in Black, in a Oh Hell No way – Mirrors, Hostel and Final Destination.  Heart-jumping yes. Hurlingly graphic, no!

  • Horror charactersThe monsters from Creature Feature. I just loved their tragic tales.  If you haven’t watched The Strain, American Horror Story or Penny Dreadful, you don’t know what you’re missing.

In The Woods Review:

If asked, I’d say I’m not a fan of horror, not a fan of getting scared out of my skin...yet I’m a fan of King, Hitchcock, & Poe.  I’ve gone to bed more than once hesitant to turn the lights off after a late night of reading or a horror movie marathon.  I think what that says is that I’m a fan of good writing in any genre, including horror done right.  After learning that Nancy Gideon had a horror book, I knew I had to read it.  I snuggled into my comfy spot on the sofa, cracked open the cover of In The Woods, and a couple of hours or so later, I read the last page and closed the book.  Glancing around, I noticed the dark shadows now lurking menacingly around the corners of the room.  Night noises taunted me, daring me to make a mad dash for the safety of my bedroom.  I reached up to turn out the lights…no, not yet...maybe I should leave the lights on…just in case I have to get up during the night…don’t want to trip over something…yes, best to leave the lights on…at least for a little while.  And there you have it – horror done right.   Anytime a book can make me question reality, fear shadows, and afraid to turn off the lights, it is horror done right.

In The Woods opens in medieval times with Prince Freeacas leading the charge to save his lands and heritage from an evil force so deadly, so horrifying, that even the bravest of knights turn tail and run.  King Haggert travels to Sethrye, making a deal with a sorcerer for dark magic to save his people and loved ones.  He doesn't realize that dark magic comes at a high price -  one more precious than silver or gold.  The evil beast is eradicated, its body journeying with men traveling to the New World, bearing instructions to bury the beast in the middle of a forest, and so they do.  The grave lies within a circle of barren ground, guarded only by a cross, as centuries come and go.  But is true evil immortal?  Is it dead and buried forever…or just lying in wait?

Fast forward many years to a small town community, living in fear.  People are disappearing without a trace.  Could one of the town’s people be a serial killer?  Two friends entered the woods on a day hike, a day away to unwind.  They came upon a grave lying in a circle of barren ground, guarded by a cross.  Could this be where the serial killer is burying victims?  If so, the families deserve closure…the chance to give their loved ones a proper burial.  The men tossed aside the cross and began digging.  One of them removed an old bag wrapped in ancient leather thongs from the grave, ripped it open, and an evil transcending centuries sent them racing from the woods.

"Behind them in the woods, in the strange clearing that had been unvisited for centuries, where dirt spilled back from a gaping rave, a thick mist rose.  From out of that blanket of fog, something shifted and began to move.  Something that had no business stirring in this modern century.  The dark form gathered and grew, taking a monstrous, unholy shape that lingered only an instant to taste the air, to stare in the direction the firemen had taken, before disappearing into the trees."  (from In The Woods)

An evil force descends upon the town.  Bloody body parts begin appearing in one of the men’s backyards, almost like a gift, an offering.  Are they pointing an accusatory finger at this firefighter. Are the bloody offerings from the bodies of victims of the serial killer?  Could this firefighter be the serial killer?  Something is horribly amiss here.  No one is safe.  A reign of terror has begun.

In The Woods should be experienced firsthand.  It’s hard to talk about the storyline without giving away spoilers, so I’ll just say it has all the elements of horror done right.  But it’s the author's expert use of what I call the human element and a soft kiss of romance that upped the stakes and took it to the next level – making me really care about these characters.  The couple struggling to save their marriage, the firefighter trying to drown his guilt in alcohol, the young, innocent girl lured from her first car on a dark road at night – all people I fear for and all in danger from the unknown evil descending upon the community.   And there it is - horror done right.  Nancy Gideon’s In The Woods will have you looking over your shoulder, peering into shadows, and sleeping with the lights on.  Fans of horror, thrillers, and suspense will love this book.  It is a Must Read!  Crack open the book and…don’t forget to leave the lights on!

My Rating:  4.5 Carve Your  Out Hearts!! 

With over 60 sales since her first publication in 1987, which was written in long hand then typed up on a manual Smith Corolla, Portage, Michigan author Nancy Gideon’s writing encompasses romance genres from historicals and regencies to contemporary suspense and the paranormal.
Under her own name, she’s a bestseller in contemporary romantic suspense, has written an award-winning vampire romance series, and has a six book shape-shifter series with Pocket Books. Also listed on the International Movie Database (IMDB), she collaborated on Indie horror films In the Woodsand Savage with screenwriting and ADR script credits, and even played a small role, that of “bar extra.”
Writing historical romance as Dana Ransom, she’s a “Career Achievement for Historical Adventure” and “K.I.S.S.” award winner with books published in Romanian, Italian, Russian, Danish, Dutch, Portuguese, French, German, Icelandic and Chinese.
As Rosalyn West, she’s a HOLT Medallion winner with nominations for “Best North American Historical Romance” and “Best Historical Book in a Series.”
A prolific writer, Nancy attributes her creative output, which once peaked at seven novels in one year, to her love of history and a gift for storytelling.  She also credits the discipline learned through a background in journalism and OCD.  The due date for her third book and her second son were on the same day . . . and both were early!  When on deadline, she turns on the laptop between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m. to get a chapter in before heading in to her full time job as a legal assistant. She’s a member of GDRWA, MMRWA, FF&P and dotes on her critique group.
Be sure to visit these other blog stops:  In The Woods BTB Tour Stops

Enter our giveaway below for a $5 Amazon gift certificate & a Kindle copy of In The Woods!

As always, thanks for stopping by!

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

IWSG: Beating Deadlines - Before They Beat You!

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a community of writers whose purpose is to share with and encourage other writers. Writers can express doubts and concerns and offer & receive encouragement and guidance.  IWSG posts the first Wednesday of every month.  Be sure to check out other IWSG writers/bloggers here:  IWSG Members

Beating Deadlines...Before they beat you!

deadline - n. the time by which something must be done.

How hard can it be?  You have a deadline, you write, you meet said deadline.  So why do I repeatedly struggle with meeting deadlines?!  I'm an organized person - some might say excessively so.  I have my notes, lists, & a big red X marking important dates on my calendar.  I budget my time, strive to keep a schedule, and yet time and time again, I find my back up against the wall facing a deadline with an unfinished project.  Does this ever happen to you?  How do you manage your deadlines?

I know the short answer to managing deadlines is to put my behind in the chair and write - get it done.  While that sounds easy, it's not always realistic.  As they say, stuff happens! I often find myself falling behind schedule and then stressing over a looming deadline, having to pull an all-nighter...or two.  I'm sure you've all been there, done that, at least once or twice.

Being the List Girl I am, I've worked  on a few strategies to help me meet my deadlines and goals.  This is a work-in-progress list...trial & error, seeing what works for me and what doesn't.

  • Set my own deadline a week ahead (yes, I'm dreaming big) of the real deadline.
  • Plan a writing schedule complete with number of words or chapters needed per day or week to meet my goal & mark it on my calendar
  • Set a writing schedule taking my end goal into consideration
  • Track my writing progress - put it in writing
  • Remove distractions during scheduled writing time
  • Write
It remains to be seen if this will help me meet deadlines consistently and with less last minute stress.  I am writing this article 4 days ahead of the posting deadline.  That's improvement.

What strategies do you use to avoid facing the stressful reality of a looming deadline with an unfinished project?  Any tips for those of us struggling with bringing projects in on time? 

I do realize that one thing needed to make dreams a reality is discipline.  The discipline to set a schedule & stick to it, the discipline to set your behind in the chair & write it, the discipline to sometimes say No, I can't today...I'm writing.  Self-Discipline is a powerful tool for beating deadlines before they beat you!

Happy Writing!