THE AEON CHRONICLES by April M. Woodard

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My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Summary via Amazon: SOULMATES ARE DESTINED TO DIE BUT THE END IS ONLY THE BEGINNING

Darkness descends upon the Infinite Realm as Aalok prepares to wage war with his creator. A plan of redemption has been set forth, but first, heaven and Earth must be destroyed. Sophie is ready to face death if it means saving her brethren. But when she learns that her suitor, Serus has been exiled, she begins to question her new life without him. That is until, she meets her Guardian, Alexander. The Aeon is shifting into oblivion and Sophie has but a short time to decide. Will she choose her love or die to live again?


My Review: The best speculative romance of the ‘fallen’ angel and creation story I’ve read in a long time! Woodard captured my heart with light and dark, intriguing characters, who must choose between their faith and loyalty to their King or exile from their heaven.

My emotions were all over the place with the multi-POV, which was brilliant. Something shifty about Serus made me wary of him from the start, but I love his passion for Sophie, his need to do whatever it takes to win her over. I immediately fell head-over-heels for Alexander, the patient, strong Guardian. Sophie is irritatingly relatable, fickle and faithful rolled up into a confused little mess. I yelled at the book a few times due to her deals with devils and making choices she was warned against. The ending had me fan-girling hard over the inevitable ‘goodbye’ the reader will expect and dread the entire length of the book.

I read this book for my own enjoyment and look forward to discovering what happens now. Will Sophie and Alexander find each other? What will Serus do after a desperate move to make Sophie his again? I’m itching for the next book and have already recommended it those who may enjoy it (including my mother)! Bravo, April! Thank you for sharing your story with me and thank you for signing my copy!

Get your own signed copy of this beautiful book here: http://aprilmwoodard.com/

Cover Reveal! Soulmated: Fighting Fate by Shaila Patel

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ENTER TO WIN: ARC of FIGHTING FATE & $25 Amazon Gift Card

 

FIGHTING FATE Summary

Empath Liam Whelan is determined to protect Laxshmi “Lucky” Kapadia, the girl he loves, at all costs–even if it means breaking her heart to keep her alive. Stopping the joining cold means Liam’s life is in danger from the Soul Seekers and the ruthless Minister Gagliardi who now has designs on Lucky. Liam has no choice but to find the strength to fight his desires, fight the joining, and fight fate.

After the unthinkable happened, Lucky’s “hallucinations” have been working double-time. Heartbroken and plagued by doubts, she meets a man who gives her a mind-blowing explanation for her predicament. Her apparent savior provides her with an escape from her hell: run away with him or return to her drab existence and watch Liam move on with her heart in his hands. All Lucky ever craved was to be in control of her own fate, but when her only choices fight against her heart, can she find the strength to battle for what she wants?

SOULMATED: FIGHTING FATE – EXCERPT

(Joining of Souls Book 2)

Under the cover of her porch, I returned her bag to her. We moved apart. With the connection broken, she let out a shuddering sob. The pain of separating from her hit me square in the chest. I wanted to hold and comfort her, but I was already making a dog’s dinner of this just by being here. This would set her back—set us both back.

She turned away from me. Her hand shot up to her mouth, and her shoulders shook. I instinctively stepped forward, but all I could do was curl my fingers into my palms to keep from touching her.

“I miss you so much, Liam,” she said, the words choked out between hoarse cries. “I’m sorry. I know I’m not supposed to be weak.” She slapped away her tears and turned to face me. A bolt of lightning cracked nearby. I couldn’t stay. The tingling was pulling us together like it was some sort of magnetic current.

“You’re not weak. I miss you too, Lucky.”

Her eyes grew cold in an instant. The fury of the sandstorm I sensed from her made me gasp, and I stumbled back. “Jaysus, Lucky.” We were crossing interpretations again. I was reading her emotions as air metaphors instead.

She barreled toward me, her hands balled up, apparently unaware of the effect her anger had on me. “You have no right to miss me. You left me!” She beat her fists against my chest, and I had to grab her by the wrists to stop her.

“Are you thinkin’ this has been easy for me?”

She wriggled free from my grip. “Whose fault is that?” she yelled above a roll of thunder. I didn’t want her to see the pain on my face, so I turned away, holding myself up on the white, wooden railing. The whirlpool of her anguish surrounded me, making my head ache.

I took a deep breath and lowered my voice. “Lucky, I broke my promises to you. For that, I’m truly sorry. But I had little enough choice. None of that changes my feelings for you.”

“I’m not The One, so it’s time to move on. Is that it? Regardless of how you feel? Of how I feel?” Her voice cracked. “You’re a coward.”

I heard her fumbling for her keys. She’d be inside soon, and I’d rather be fighting with her on the porch than be without her.

“So where next, hmm?” she asked. “North Dakota? Vermont? Ooo, I know. You should go to India. You could play this game for the rest of your life!”

I turned to face her. Her sarcasm was brutal, but I deserved all that and more.

She tried to unlock her door, but the keys slipped from her grip. She stooped to pick them up, but her fingers were shaking so badly, she dropped them again.

“Dammit!” She crouched a second time and sucked back another sob.

I swept down and set my hands over hers to steady them. Taking the keys, I unlocked the door, followed her inside, and bundled her in a blanket from off the sofa. Lucky didn’t protest. We stood there, dripping water on her mum’s carpet, staring into each other’s eyes. Grabbing fistfuls of the covering around her neck, I gently rocked her, tugging her closer, fighting the craving to kiss her. My breaths came out fast and shallow, and only clinging to the material with both hands kept me from sneaking a touch of her soft skin. If I didn’t leave now, I’d stay because I didn’t have an ounce of the strength she had. Maybe I was the coward she’d accused me of being.


About the Author: Shaila PatelShaila_Patel_3x4.5[5776]

As an unabashed lover of all things happily-ever-after, Shaila Patel’s younger self would finish reading her copy of Cinderella and chuck it across the room because it didn’t mention what happened next. Now she writes from her home in the Carolinas and dreams up all sorts of stories with epilogues. A member of the Romance Writers of America and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, she’s a pharmacist by training, a medical office manager by day, and a writer by night. SOULMATED, her debut novel and the first book in the Joining of Souls Series, was the winner of the 2015 Chanticleer Book Reviews Paranormal Awards for Young Adult. Book 2, FIGHTING FATE releases April 2018. She loves craft beer, tea, and reading in cozy window seats—but she’ll read anywhere. You might find her sneaking in a few paragraphs at a red light or gushing about her favorite books online.

Represented by: Agent Amanda Leuck of Spencerhill Associates

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Start Reading Book 1, SOULMATED, today!

Given a 5-Star Book Review by H.A.LYNN

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All eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan—an Irish royal empath—wants to do is stop the frustrating search for the elusive girl destined to be his soul mate. The rare union will cement his family’s standing in empath politics and give the couple legendary powers, painting a bullseye on Liam’s back—and hers.

All Indian-American Laxshmi Kapadia wants is to free herself from her traditional mother’s ultimatum: graduate from high school early and go to medical school, or have her marriage arranged. Neither allows her to pursue her dreams of a career in dancing or of falling in love.

When Liam moves in next door to Laxshmi—a non-empath, he’s immediately drawn to the purity of her emotions, and she sees in this charming Irish boy a future with the freedom to follow her heart. But Liam’s father will never consent if she’s not The One. And Laxshmi’s mom won’t even let her talk to their handsome new neighbor. But hiding their relationship can’t keep them from becoming targets of a dark and ancient group determined to destroy the soulmated.

What will these two risk to choose their own fate?


ENTER TO WIN: ARC of FIGHTING FATE & $25 Amazon Gift Card


Would you risk death to join (I mean metaphysically, of course!) with your soul mate?

 

Interview with S.B. Nova: Author of A Kingdom of Exiles

After having the pleasure of reading A Kingdom of Exiles by S.B. Nova, I was thrilled to give it a five-star rating on Goodreads and Amazon. I was even more excited to pick her brain afterward about her new release, as well as how her writing process has changed and what literary success means to her.

Thank you, S.B. Nova, for taking the time to be interviewed.


What kind of research did you do for AKOE before you started writing?

I delved into all the faerie lore I could find. Of course, I started with books! And I discovered a long and rich history of folklore and poetry. For example, the ‘Faerie Queene’ by Edmund Spenser, or ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ by Shakespeare. I also read books and blogs focusing on the magic of faeries and ‘natural’ magic. That’s where the ideas for sprites and mirror and light magic came from. These sources were usually written by people who believed in faeries, which was interesting because it exposes which ideas stuck with people.

From there, I branched out and looked into fae stories popular on the Amazon charts. It was a great excuse to read or re-read stories by authors I admire. I was wary of doing this at first. There’s always a chance you will read one interpretation of what it is to be ‘fae’ and like it so much that you struggle to come up with something wholly your own. But it would’ve been foolish of me to ignore those texts because they have a great insight into what modern audiences will respond to.

I also knew I wanted the book to be in the vein of a dark fairy tale. So, for example, the fables surrounding forests, the idea of ‘following the breadcrumbs’, the evil stepmother, the imagery of birds and woodland animals have all made it into the book. The Brother Grimm’s fairy tales were always on my writing desk for this reason!

And because I wanted fae society to be a mixture of cultured and animalistic, I looked into a lot of information regarding animals. Particularly, birds and big cats. I liked the idea that fae were just more advanced animals, not necessarily magical creatures. So, I looked into the hearing range of certain birds, the night-time vision of bats, the ‘immortality’ of certain jellyfish … Oh, and I loved the idea of certain fae having unique sounds or calls. I didn’t go too far with this. I just gave Frazer a particular sound, a chuff, that is found in tigers.

Did you hide any secrets in this book that only certain readers will find?

Probably, the most noteworthy one would be at the very end of the book where I quote a character from Draken. My intention was to always connect the Outcast and the Southern Fire series. Inserting the quote was the first step toward doing that.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? I’m thinking specifically about Frazer, since he’s my favorite.

To be honest, I didn’t really have issues with writing male characters. Other than the usual fears of a writer, e.g. How can I make the darkness in Frazer’s character real and relatable and not clichéd? How can I make Cai more than just a bad joke and a waggling eyebrow?

Initially, I was worried about one scene in the chapter, The Past, which I wrote from Frazer’s perspective. I thought about researching how other authors handled this, but I decided against it because he wasn’t just some guy—or male—he was Frazer. And it felt wrong to write with human constructs of gender in mind, or trying to force him into a space of ‘this is how a guy would think.’ Because he’s not a guy. He’s a male fae, who if he was human would be an old man by now! That’s the beauty of fantasy, I guess.

That being said, I did think a lot about how to make Frazer’s voice distinctive. But how to do this stemmed from his background and his personality. So, for instance, I knew his mental processes would be strategic, but also fast. This pattern of thinking came from his time as a palace guard as did his ultra-protective nature. And he would also use one word to say something where Serena would use three. That came from years of silence.

I also have some real-life experience to fall back on, especially regarding Frazer. The relationship between him and Serena was loosely based on a friendship I experienced.

Hopefully, this will all pay off in the next book because I’m going to be writing whole sections from Frazer’s perspective!

How do you choose character names? Specifically, why did you choose Serena?

There were a few reasons I settled on Serena. One, it’s used in Edmund Spenser’s poem, ‘The Faerie Queene.’ Two, it’s a soft sounding name and it means ‘clear, tranquil, serene.’ I would say it’s a very feminine name, in that, you could never use it for a boy. Serena’s appearance isn’t stereotypically feminine, and she definitely isn’t tranquil. And while many authors choose names that signify a character’s particular defining characteristic, I think you have to look hard to find why Serena’s name suits her. But for me, it absolutely does.

As for the rest of the characters and how I chose them. It was a mixture of methods. Frazer’s just came to me. I wanted a soft, musical name for Liora. For Cai, I used someone I’d known for inspiration. He was a real joker too and someone that put others at ease. I also loved the idea that Cai would be annoyed by people using his full name, Caiden, which is somehow much more serious. And I loved the idea that he had those two sides to him. And Wilder was inspired by his personality and the poem at the beginning of the book.

What scene was the hardest to write?

Such a difficult question! The first chapter, the Blacksmith’s Daughter, was hard because on the first couple of drafts I fell into the trap of trying to impart too much knowledge and backstory too fast. Thankfully, I had help and was able to correct it!

But to be honest, the one scene that comes to mind immediately, and that I was never 100% sure of, was actually a moment between Frazer and Serena in ‘Because Of You.’ I found it so difficult because it deals with suicide and what that means to Serena and Frazer. It’s a very emotionally charged issue, and I did not want Frazer’s advice to come across as out of character or clichéd. He’s not one for platitudes. I don’t know if I hit the mark in this scene. I can only hope!

Can you share, without too many spoilers, what you edited out of AKOE?

Lots and lots! It might be simpler if I list them:

  1. There was more to the sex scene. Serena was going to perform a sexual act on Wilder. I cut it because it felt too much of a leap given her lack of experience and confidence.
  2. There was going to be a scene where Adrianna stole a canoe.
  3. I had a section in The Cage where Serena compared the look in Gus’s eye to that of a wolf she’d once seen caught in a lambing pen. But it dragged the pace and maybe was pushing the whole red riding hood analogy a bit too far.
  4. Serena bit Wilder at one point.
  5. More information on the fae army ranks.
  6. More about Colt the armorer.
  7. There was going to be more about how the lands to the east were unable to enter into Aldar territory, but it complicated things way too much.
  8. The stuff on Serena’s mate was a little more detailed.

How did publishing Draken change your writing process for AKOE?

When I published Draken, I’d never had a review or sold a single book. My expectations were all over the place. And due to this lack of experience, I tried too hard to edit myself and be all things to all people.

It also took time to develop and discover my author voice underneath all that insecurity. And now, I know that I’m a very expressive person. I love words and I like describing things in ways that I considered beautiful. I also tend to think in terms of metaphors because how things connect and intersect fascinates me. I’ve heard this called purple prose and other less flattering things. That kind of advice stopped me from unleashing myself in Draken.

When I started AKOE, the decision to write in the first person was helpful in freeing me up artistically. And since releasing this book, I’ve heard my writing style described as becoming more lyrical in tone, bordering on poetical. I don’t know if I’d go this far, but I think the most important change was that I just cared less what other people thought of me, so I wrote the book from a deeper place of truth.

How long on average does it take you to finish a book?

About a year. Although AKOE is a loooonnnnggg book. 500-700 pages depending on the format. So, that time might shorten in the future.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I’ve heard writers use the term, so I definitely believe it’s a real thing. Personally, I don’t experience it in the way that it’s described. At least, not for extended periods. I do tend to struggle with the words in the first two hours of writing, but that usually passes as the day goes on and my mind shifts into gear. Perseverance is the only solution I’ve found to these uninspired stretches.

There are certainly times when I know my mind and body is burned out and I can’t/don’t want to write. Usually, that’s after the first draft or after I’ve published. But it doesn’t last forever. So, I just wait for the words to come back or a sign that I’m ready to begin again.

How many unpublished books and half-finished books do you have?

I don’t have any. Although, I have lots of rough sketches/plans of the next books in the Outcast and the Southern Fire series. I also have another series planned called ‘Merlin Rises’ that is also connected to the first two series’.

How many hours a day do you write?

It changes depending on which stage I’m at in the writing process. I find writing from scratch more mentally exhausting, so I can only manage 4-6 hours before burning out. But editing … that usually takes me up to 8-10 hours. Toward the end is always the worse, I think because the adrenaline kicks in and I end up working for however long I can before my body shuts down.

Do you think this contributes to being a successful author?

I think everyone’s got different methods and the only thing that matters is what works for them. Although, personally, sitting down every day with an intent to write helps me a lot. But I think given my personality having that one strict rule in place is the only way I’d finish a book! I’m not so strict with what happens after I sit down. I don’t have a set word count (that would stress me out way too much), and I don’t have a set time to finish by. I only stop writing when my body signals it’s had enough … or it starts getting light out.

What does literary success look like to you?

Being able to write for the rest of my life, never having to work a second job again, and being part of a tight-knit community. By that, I mean making close, supportive friendships with other writers and also watching a fan base for my books grow. Nothing would give me more pleasure to see people on Tumblr, or wherever, talking/arguing about my books, and hearing from people who loved the characters and go so far as to create their own stuff, e.g. art or specialized covers.

Would saying it looked like having a scented candle dedicated to one of my characters count? Hehe.

What other authors are you friends with, and how have they helped you become a better writer?

Well, my main source of contact with other writers comes from social media. And I haven’t been able to form strong friendships that way. I feel like meeting someone or at the very least hearing their voice is crucial to creating those deeper bonds. But I do have a lot of writers that I talk and laugh with on Twitter, which is really important to me. It’s helpful to hear that they have the same insecurities and experiences as I do.

I’m also part of a couple of Facebook communities. I don’t tend to go to them for writing tips, but they’ve helped me understand how to market my books and how important it is. And I’ll always post my cover and blurb and ask for their opinion.

In regards, to the actual writing, the best advice on story structure I ever got was from the author Joanna Penn. I got the confidence to write sex scenes from Sarah J. Maas, and the best general advice I got was from a close friend (not a writer), who said, ‘Screw everyone else, if you’re going to do something for the love of it, then write your damn heart out.’

We’ve talked about your book reviews recently. How do you handle or combat negative reviews when you get them? What tips would you offer writers who struggle with criticism?

Do you know what? I feel like I’ve heard the same advice on repeat over the past few years. In my writers’ groups or in the chat rooms, it goes something like this, ‘A one-star review is actually helpful!’ ‘It helps you grow as a writer.’ ‘Everyone gets bad reviews, and you can’t please everyone.’

In fact, the best response to bad reviews I’ve seen was a gif of Johnny Depp as a pirate and his answer to, ‘You’re the worst writer in the world,’ was ‘Ah! But you have heard of me!’

All of that may be true, and I wish I reacted to a bad review the way Jack Sparrow would! But … here’s the problem. I’m human. And to be real for a second, bad reviews suck. End of. And if you’re a published author, you’re going to get them. People can be cruel and blunt and they don’t care two figs that they’ve just spent two minutes trashing something that you’ve spent a year (or years) working on.

Now, they have the right to their opinion. But it still hurts. So, are there any magical words that have ‘fixed’ this for me? No, not really. There’s no one thing. I’ve tried ignoring the bad ones—this can help. I’ve tried rationalizing—this doesn’t help. I do think it’s important to learn to recognize honest, constructive criticism as opposed to real vindictiveness. Quick tip—if someone uses caps to spell out whole words, they aren’t interested in helping your writing career. If a person criticizes the book for late postage, or the fact there’s no immediate sequel, they’re an idiot … or a super fan. Haha.

But the best piece of advice I can give is to move on. Be sad. Cry a bit. If it affects you, then that means you care! And don’t ever respond to bad reviews. You can be pissed off. Just don’t fall down that rabbit hole of trying to justify yourself.

Most importantly, don’t let anyone’s opinion (and yes, it is their opinion) stop you … I know this for sure—my heart beats to the tune of words and stories. And no one could stop that. No one but me. So, if someone doesn’t like your book, ask yourself will that be what stops me? Is a stranger’s opinion more valid than my own? Short answer—no, it isn’t.


See my review of AKOE!
You can find S.B. Nova on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Her book, A Kingdom of Exiles, can be found on US Amazon and UK Amazon

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Victorian Mistress by Jesse Stuart

My Rating: 5/5 Stars (Can I give it 10 stars?!)

Summary via Jesse Studio: “Charlotte Maguire gets you right in the heart. Literally. 

Charlotte ‘Lot’ Maguire is a thief on the streets of Victorian London until she meets Brandon O’Connor and spies a route to an easier, well paid, life. Except Lot isn’t made for the life of a Victorian lady and can’t resist the lure of trouble. With corrupt businessmen in the drawing rooms, vampires in the gentlemen’s clubs and her old associates in the alleys she doesn’t have to look far to find it.”

My Review: Full of clever metaphors, unique vampire romance and a badass female protagonist, you won’t want to miss out on this fast paced freebie!

Lot is one of my new favorite female characters. She’s independent and strong, but still opens up little-by-little to the idea of love. She’s everything you wish you were, and everything you beg for from a female character.

Victorian Mistress is brilliant and beautifully written. Edited by the author, there are little-to-no errors and mistakes throughout, which is impressive. The story isn’t bogged down with unnecessary narrative or dialogue. It all flows well together, moving the plot and building the palpable world Stuart created. Each character has a unique voice. The tension throughout the dialogue and narrative pulls and pushes you from scene to scene with little room to breath. It’s fantastic! You won’t want to put it down until you’ve consumed the ending.

You can read this book for free at Victorian Mistress on Wattpad, or on the author’s blog, Jesse Studio. Follow Jesse Stuart on Twitter @sisterquill.

Kiss Me Kill You by Larissa C. Hardesty

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Summary via Amazon: “Emmy Duivel believes in true love: heart-stopping kisses, candlelight dinners, and a connection that lasts forever. But not the kind of kisses that land your date in the hospital. Emmy always knew she was different, but not in the supernatural sense. Not in the succubus sense.

Paul Andinn had only one job: watch over Emmy and make sure she doesn’t expose the supernatural world. It should have been easy, but the moment he looked away, she kissed that boy, and everything changed. He should be more upset. But he can’t. Not when he’s falling hard for her.”

My Review: This is definitely for a younger audience, and there were moments I wanted it to be more mature–especially since there are club/dance scenes, lots of physical contact, and the occasional mention of sex. I would have loved for this to be geared toward a more mature YA audience, and those moments to be expanded upon. 

I enjoyed the tension between Paul and Emmy the most. It’s great they work with each other, in a sense, but are also pitted against each other. I would have loved to see one more dangerous scene between these two before the climax. 

This book lacked more discovery, narrative and dialogue on The Powers. There’s mention of “religion”–what Emmy’s mom and Lily call it, but I was left with questions about The Powers. Even with Paul’s POV, there were times it wasn’t enough backstory. 

Speaking of Paul, I don’t think his POV did much to move the story along. It was interesting to see his view of things, but it didn’t really reveal anything to me that couldn’t have been shown or discovered by Emmy herself. I almost wish this story was purely Emmy’s. 

What I really liked was Lily’s plot twist. And without giving away spoilers, I can’t explain why. But this was great. If Paul didn’t have his own POV, his character would have worked in a good plot twist too. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book. As much as I love the cover, though, I thought this might be about Vampires, not a succubus, before I read the summary. I look forward to seeing the difference in this book vs. the second-to-come, to find out more about The Powers and how Emmy will save her friends and family. 

I won this paperback and kindle version in a free giveaway.