Black Moon, the second book in Teri Harman’s witch fantasy trilogy has just released its cover. From the back of the book:
Simon Howard accidentally killed three people. Four months later, the nightmares won’t stop. Willa Fairfield, his girlfriend, his soul mate, wants nothing more than to help him move on. But guilt isn’t the only thing getting in Simon’s way.
When unexplained earthquakes hit the small town of Twelve Acres, and dozens of people go missing, the Light witches discover their most feared enemy, Archard, is still alive. Employing the twisted, dynamic magic of a legendary witch known as Bartholomew the Dark, Archard plans to exact his revenge and take control of the Powers of the Earth on the night of the black moon, a rare lunar event infamous for Dark magic.
As the Light Covenant fumbles to defend against Archard’s sadistic intentions, Simon’s magic grows inexplicably more powerful, even dangerous. Willa throws all her efforts into solving the mystery of Simon’s transformation, but when the events of the past storm into the present, the couple’s future changes forever.
I read an early version of this manuscript. Black Moon continues the adventures of Simon and Willa as they learn to control their powers and face the black coven. At times thrilling, heart-warming, and suspenseful, readers of Blood Moon will be delighted.
It’s been a long time since I laughed out loud while reading a book. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple is spit your Diet Coke funny. I’ve lived slices of Bernadette’s life, right down to the passive-aggressive snooty private school politics and paralyzing life changes and completely related to her world.
It’s a witty read. The story is pieced together from emails, text messages, and letters that reveal an artistic and well, genius, woman who gives up everything for her daughter. By the time her daughter no longer needs her attention every moment, Bernadette is adrift in a life she no longer recognizes. At the beginning, we see Bernadette at such a low that she hires a virtual assistant in India to take care of everything from Thanksgiving reservations to planning a family cruise to the Arctic. To hide her dysfunction from her husband, she instructs her assistant to deduct her salary from her personal checking account, a grand total of $30 a week since she’s paying her 75¢ an hour. From there things head south in the worst way possible. It takes a remarkable series of events involving mudslides, the Russian mob, school fundraisers, and death by cruise ship for Bernadette to remember who she is and find pleasure and purpose in life as herself, rather than as an extension of her family.
Thoroughly entertaining and perfect for vacation or by the fireplace reading, Where’d You Go, Bernadette is highly recommended.
I’m really excited about Eleanor by Johnny Worthen, available Spring 2014. Johnny says, “Eleanor is a modest girl, unremarkable but extraordinary, young but old, malleable but fixed. She is scared and confused. She is a liar and a thief. Eleanor is not what she appears to be.” Eleanor is a young adult paranormal novel published by Jolly Fish Press. Isn’t the cover beautiful?
When it comes to love there’s a fine line between passion and obsession, ardor and madness, ecstasy and terror. In Beatrysel Johnny Worthen takes all the shades and flavors of love from filial to sexual and whips them into a frenzied frappe of occult horror, thriller, and philosophical treatise on the nature of man, God, angels, and demons.
Did I mention it’s a love story?
One of the major themes of this novel is that the lover protects the beloved. Beatrysel is a demon created to be the personification of love and brought to this plane by Julian Cormac, a professor who has devoted himself to understanding the magick that underpins our universe. Demons, of course, have their own agendas and all the maturity of greedy children in a candy store. It’s up to Julian to banish his beloved, his child and lover, and end B’s reign of terror.
Of course, the story itself is nothing as straight forward as what I’ve described. Johnny keeps the reader guessing and on the edge of his seat as the story twists and turns. Bad things come to those who want to keep Julian on a cocktail of anti-psychotics and there’s more than one puppet master. To say more would spoil the story.
The writing is quick-paced and snappy, with imagery that not only sings, but at times does the hokey-pokey off the page. Told in omniscient present tense with several major flashbacks, I have to admit it took me a couple of chapters to get into the rhythm of the story, but once you get in the head of the characters, you’re hooked.
I loved the scene where Julian’s sister discovers her husband and a skanky musician in the middle of a tryst. What happens next is outrageous, completely cathartic, and applause-worthy—something every woman secretly wishes she’d give in and do if ever in that situation.
I’m not even going to mention the creepy coffee beans. Let’s just say it’s going to be a long time before I can walk past that section of the grocery store again.
A raw, ragged, and convoluted read, it’s not for the timid. You’ll find yourself turning lights on and checking the locks at night.
Beatrysel by Johnny Worthen is published by Omnium Gatherum and is available as a trade paperback and eBook from Amazon.
My friend and fellow Jolly Fish Press author Elsie Park just published her debut novel, Shadows of Valor. (My review here.) Elsie stopped by to talk story with me as part of her blog tour.
You’ve been a wildland firefighter, a police officer, a musician and composer, a poet, a botanist, a zoologist, an ex-pat Christian missionary living in Italy, a stay-at-home-mom with three little ones, and now an author. I’m exhausted from just typing that! Any other careers on your bucket list?
I know that on several sites my author biography stated that I was a zoologist and botanist, but I actually only minored in those fields in college. I’m far from a scientific expert – LOL. Before I die, however, I’d LOVE to go on different trail hikes around the world to see castles, old monuments, ancient cities, natural structures, forests, wild animals and to try all the different, wonderful cuisine from all around the globe, but I’d like to stay in a hotel every night while I do all these things – LOL – I’m not a “happy camper.” My body doesn’t rough it very well. I need a mattress and pillow.
Me, too! (Showers and room service are nice!) We’ve all been fascinated by stories of people living double-lives, from superheroes like Batman to sleeper agent spies like Mr. & Mrs. Smith to the Count of Monte Crisco. What inspiration helped you tap into your inner secret identity when crafting the backstory to The Shadow?
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy is a story (and movie) I grew up with, and one that I absolutely love. I could watch the film with Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour again and again. When I was working on my hero’s story and the challenges that came with being a spy, I often thought of Sir Percy from The Scarlet Pimpernel harboring his dual identity and having to keep it secret from the one he loved. My hero’s backstory, however, came to me from hearing and reading about the evils of modern smuggling and how it hurts innocent children and others.
In your novel you deal with themes of love and redemption. Tell me, does true love heal all wounds or are some betrayals too deep?
I believe we need to forgive others, leaving the ultimate judgment to God, but I’m the first to admit that forgiveness is easier said than done. I’m not perfect at this principle, but it’s a trait I endeavor to uphold. I believe true love CAN heal all wounds, regardless of the betrayal, and no matter how long it takes, but ONLY if all persons involved are working together toward the same goals: Repentance, restitution, forgiveness and becoming better. True love must encompass both sides of a partnership or this will fail. I believe that where betrayal occurs on one side, true love never really existed or was replaced by selfishness and greed. These can be remedied only through hard work, persistence and love. If half of the partnership doesn’t return love, betrays the love, doesn’t do his/her part to make the relationship work, or doesn’t change his/her ways, then the wounds inflicted will fester, but only on the part of the betrayer. True love can only help heal the people holding onto that love. The selfish people will not heal, but will suffer until genuine changes are made. Though true love on the part of the injured can aid eventual forgiveness for the other, it doesn’t necessarily mean trusting the betrayer again or remaining with that person in a relationship that’s harmful. Trust needs to be earned back by the genuine actions of the wrongdoer to repent and remain penitent.
Wow, did I just deliver a sermon? Sorry for that. *chagrin*
Your debut novel is out, yay! So what’s next?
I’m working on another story that takes place several years after Shadows of Valor. I’ve taken a minor character from Shadows of Valor and weaved a story around him. The story takes place in England again, but ventures into Scotland as well, drawing on the historical happenings and battles that took place between the countries at that time. You don’t need to read Shadows of Valor to read my next book. Though they share a common character, it’s not a sequel. It’s a separate story. I will, of course, compose a song for it (probably not three like I did for Shadows of Valor) and it will be another PG-rated romantic adventure.
Connect with Elsie Park
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorelsiepark
Shadows of Valor by Elsie Park is a step back into a medieval England where a noblewoman’s outward scars hide an inner beauty and fire as a dark knight walks a fine line between upholding the law, revenge, and becoming what he most despises. It’s a delicate dance between light and darkness, subterfuge and revelation, and a flirtation that never wavers past squeaky clean.
But you knew the maiden and the Shadow were going to have a thing for each other, right?
Lady Elsbeth is the good maiden, serving as a midwife and caring more for the common people of Graywall than herself. Sir Calan returns to Graywall under the guise of courting Elsbeth’s cousin, but in reality he’s on a secret mission to hunt down smugglers and to stop a plot against Lord Shaufton. As his alter-ego the Shadow, Calan battles his own inner demons to find the good in humanity, a faith that’s unshakable in Elsbeth.
Like many hero in disguise tales, there’s mistaken identify, misdirection, conflicting codes of honor, and snappy banter between the would be lovers. Elsie’s meticulous research into medieval England is apparent in her details of period clothing, food, social graces, and music. To the modern ear, the novel’s language harkens to the more formal speech patterns of the past. While purists may spot a few rough patches, it doesn’t get in the way of the story.
Lovers of entertaining non-bodice-ripping medieval romances will find an easy afternoon escape into another world. When the dark knight has a thing for cinnamon, you know it’s gonna be good.
Shadows of Valor by Elsie Park is published by Jolly Fish Press and is available beginning September 7, 2013 as a hardback, paperback, and eBook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other purveyors of fine books.
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorelsiepark
Eric Bishop likes to say that The Samaritan’s Pistol is about a guy who had a gun and used it when he needed it. It’s a pithy, memorable way to describe his book and the cover certainly conveys this idea.
But Eric’s book is much deeper than a simple gunslinger western—although there are horses, guns, ranches, sheriffs, and hay bales a plenty. I tease him that it’s cowboys versus mobsters, but even that’s too reductive. The Samaritan’s Pistol blends several different genres into one rip-roaring read that sure to delight readers of thrillers, westerns, spy, literary fiction, and crime novels. There’s even a little skinny dip into romance.
With a few keystrokes, Eric paints rural life in small town Wyoming where people generally let people live as they please, but fiercely circle the wagons at the first sight outsider trouble for those they consider their own. I’ve lived in these kinds of communities and the small kindnesses that Eric describes are as real and as genuine as the characters he creates. In many ways his story is as much about this way of life as it is about murder, revenge, and money stolen from the mob.
But you knew it had to come back to the mob, right?
Jim Cooper’s ex-military and living as a rancher and wilderness guide in the town he grew up in. Except for a couple of ranch hands and his dog, Duke, he’s pretty much a loner. Like most modern-day cowboys, he’s got his own moral code about fair fights and damsels in distress, so it’s no surprise that when he comes upon three men on a mountain trail about to shoot an unarmed fourth he decides to even up the odds. When the smoke clears, Jim has three bodies to pack out, a dead horse, an injured man to care for, and more trouble than he knows what to do with. It’s a journey that sends him to Las Vegas and back and gives a new meaning to shoot, shovel, and shut up.
But I gotta warn you. The fight doesn’t end in this book. I think Eric’s got a couple more novels about Jim Cooper simmering in the ol’ dutch oven.
If you’re looking for the perfect read for the hardworking, rather-be-fishing, what-these-moody-vampire-kids-need-is-a-job man in your life, The Samaritan’s Pistol fits the bill.
Connect with Eric Bishop
Rounding out my Samoan fiction summer reads is The Bone Bearer by Lani Wendt Young, book three in her Telesa series. With book 2, When Water Burns ending with a literal bang of epic proportions, the story landscape was wide open for book 3 and Lani didn’t disappoint.
In the hospital Leia doesn’t remember much of anything after the time she first arrived in Samoa. Daniel, Simone, and Keahi are strangers to her and you can imagine all the tip-toeing around her fire gifts. Meanwhile Telesa from all over the Pacific gather in Samoa to discuss an ancient doomsday prophecy about to be fulfilled, the return of Pele the terrible herself. Besides the looming threat that all male Telesa should be killed as soon as their gifts are discovered, there’s an ancient bone broken into three pieces and hidden that has to be recovered and united by our gang before Pele gets control and absorbs all the Telesa power forever.
Did I mention Leia’s acting weird?
We meet some new characters, see alliances formed and double-crossed, delve deeper into Pacific mythology flavored with Lani’s unique spin, see cultural biases in conflict as male Telesas are revealed, and finally learn who is Leia’s true soul mate.
It’s an entertaining and satisfying read full of smoky, smoldering heat, adventure, and shhhnap! comic relief from my favorite fa’afafine in literature, Simone. (I swear I went to school with the real Simone, but I digress.) Readers of the first books in the series will not be disappointed. The epilogue even jumps 10 years into the future to show us a sneak peek of how it all turns out. While this book was supposed to end the series, rumor has it that Lani isn’t quite finished with at least some of the characters. Can’t wait.
The Bone Bearer by Lani Wendt Young is self-published and available from Amazon as an eBook and trade paperback. Don’t miss the other works in the series: Telesa: The Covenant Keeper, I am Daniel Tahi (companion novella), and When Water Burns.
Telesa Series Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Telesa-Trilogy/146318935466086?fref=ts
When Water Burns is the second book in the Telesa series by Lani Wendt Young. Loosely based on Polynesian legends, the series is about Leila and Daniel’s discovery of their telesa powers and the complicated alliances and challenges that come from having gifts of fire and water.
One of the great storylines in this book is the will they/won’t they molten fire dance of desire between Leila and Daniel. It’s a great example of a mature and realistic approach to acknowledging and dealing with those overwhelming feelings of new love. Too often fiction assumes that teens have no control or boundaries when it comes to intimacy. It’s also refreshing that it’s Daniel who has the strong moral code based on his grandparents’ traditional Samoan family values.
But When Water Burns is much more than a my-true-love’s-a-fire-goddess-which-threatens-my-own-masculinity tale. The Big Bads in book 1 haven’t been entirely defeated and a few new ones are introduced. Themes about the need to care for the earth and nature being out of balanced are further explored in a race to recover a lost nuclear device, and while readers hope that Leila and Daniel are destined to be together forever, it’s not smooth sailing. As much as she loves Daniel, Leila’s gifts might have something else in mind when Keahi paddles his canoe along Samoa’s shores, voyaging far from his Hawaiian home.
Lani takes us swimming in the deep end with her explorations of belonging, violence against women, gender inequality, and taking charge of one’s own life, but it’s all handled with a deftly light touch that doesn’t feel forced or preachy. Simone’s back and fiercer than ever with a wit and wisdom that keeps the story humming.
Although it’s a complete story, readers are going to want to read Telesa: The Covenant Keeper and I am Daniel Tahi, a companion novella before When Water Burns. Good thing the third book, The Bone Bearer is now available. You won’t believe what happens next!
When Water Burns by Lani Wendt Young is self-published and available from Amazon as an eBook and trade paperback. Don’t miss the other works in the series:Telesa: The Covenant Keeper, I am Daniel Tahi, and The Bone Bearer.
Telesa Series Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Telesa-Trilogy/146318935466086?fref=ts