EXCERPT – I Plagiarized This Book from Myself by Boyd Jamison

I Plagiarized This Book from Myself by Boyd Jamison

234 Pages

Will Nicholl has little in common with a private investigator working a missing person’s case and a young woman avoiding her abusive ex-boyfriend. That is until he finds a book – the book- that throws his whole world into chaos. The book is blank except for one page; a page that Will wrote and told no one about. As he delves deeper into the genesis of the book he finds he is spectacularly connected to both the young woman and the private investigator. But the deeper he digs the more dangerous life becomes.

Print:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/I-Plagiarized-this-Book-Myself/dp/1629890081/
Createspace: https://www.createspace.com/4529078
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/i-plagiarized-this-book-from-myself-boyd-jamison/1117526303

Ebook:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Plagiarize-this-Book-Myself-ebook/dp/B00H0EX98O/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/378637
Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/i-plagiarize-d-this-book-from/id759222540
Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/i-plagiarize-x200b-d-this-book-from-myself-boyd-jamison/1117533727
Kobo: store.kobobooks.com/en-gb/books/i-plagiarize-d-this-book-from-myself/ZqX6dzA1HkOArBAE2uor4Q?MixID

 

Introduction

First of all, I would like to thank Kacey for including this excerpt on her Read My Dang Book blog alongside many fantastic authors that I have no right to share space with. This excerpt doesn’t come from the beginning of I Plagiarized this Book From Myself but it is pretty close. I shared the first chapter with a class of writers during my Masters degree and it was well received. Even though it has gone through a number of edits by myself and World Castle Publishing between then and the final version, that first rough draft was considered “audacious” and said to have “plenty of scope for exploration”. Yet, when it was published and released, it was this third chapter that really seemed to grab readers. I hope that you will find it just as engaging as others have.

Excerpt

The living room was well furnished, but there was a distinct sense of loss. Perhaps it was the lack of familial photos, but before the parents even spoke, I knew what the issue was. Of course, I knew what the issue was before I even arrived at their home. It was all over the newspapers. A missing child turned up, traumatized, ten years later. I couldn’t imagine how it felt to be reunited with a missing child. In ten years, they’d likely already started the grieving process, believing their son was dead in a ditch somewhere. In some ways, a missing child was worse than a dead one. True, a dead child could never come back to you, but you could at least gain some amount of closure on the situation. A missing child created a constant state of flux.

The father, a heavyset man with a youthful face, sat on a hard wooden chair. I was opposite him, sitting awkwardly alone on their three-seater sofa with only a little glass coffee table to separate us. He wasn’t looking at me, thankfully; he was staring out the window, though his glassy gaze made it obvious he wasn’t looking at anything in particular. He was thinking, about what I didn’t know. Possibly he was considering how best to approach the issue. I was wondering the same myself.

That isn’t to say that I knew what they were about to ask of me. I couldn’t guess at that since the case was ten years old. Any trails were likely to be stone cold and, according to the news, the police were preparing to reopen the investigation anyway. What could they possibly expect me to do? Not that I could afford to deny hearing them out. I had bills to pay too.

The mother entered the room carrying a tray of tea cups, a plate of biscuits, a pot of tea, a little china bowl of sugar, and a jug of milk. The perfect hostess. To an outsider, it would have seemed that she was attending to a visiting acquaintance rather than interviewing a private investigator. She walked with poise and dignity, set the tray on the coffee table, then smoothed out her dress and sat beside her husband.

“Would you like some tea?” she offered.

I noted that three cups had already been prepared on the tray, so it felt rude to refuse. In any other circumstance, I’d have declined due to the abnormal diuretic effect tea tended to have on my urinary system. Few people I knew admitted that tea had any effect on the number of times they relieved themselves a day, but I shared an elevated reaction with my sister. Oddly enough, I didn’t notice any change when I drank coffee. Couldn’t be the caffeine then.

She poured a cup and asked my preference. Just milk for me, all the works for herself, and black for him. I sipped the tea to ease the tension. I didn’t want to be the one to start negotiations.

“I would like to introduce myself and my husband,” she said. “Though, I am quite aware that you probably know exactly who we are rather well.”

It seemed that, aside from hostess, she was also the designated speaker for the pair.

“For the sake of conversation, let’s say that I don’t.”

“Very well. This is my husband, Léandre François, License en Droit, and I am Aryana François, MPharm. We would like you, Mr. Mittelmark, to investigate the disappearance and reappearance of our son, Timothy.”

I made a mental note to translate License en Droit during my research.

“It was my understanding that the case was in the process of being reopened by the police. Is there something in particular that you would like me to research?”

“The police are useless,” the husband barked with such ferocious abruptness that I jolted a little and dribbled tea on my lap. Thankfully, no one noticed and I hid the mark by resting my other hand over the spot.

“What my husband means is simply that we do not believe they will uncover anything more than they could ten years ago. We appreciate their efforts, but we do not think they were as enthusiastic as they could have been.”

“With all due respect, Mrs. François, I don’t believe I can uncover anything new either. You have to understand, this case has been cold for ten years. In that time, memories will have faded, forensic evidence will have deteriorated, and there is nothing to suggest that the kidnapper is still alive.”

“We believe he is. We believe Timothy escaped from his kidnapper, but has blocked the memory from his mind due to trauma. But we are not vengeful people. We do not want the head of the kidnapper delivered to us on a silver platter. We only wish to know what happened to our precious boy during those ten years so that we may better understand how to begin the rehabilitation process.”

“While I appreciate that, I am quite literally at a lost as to how you expect me to reveal something that the police will not also be able to discover.”

“That is because there is one clue that the police are unwilling to consider.”

“And that is?”

“His night terrors, Mr. Mittelmark. His night terrors, we believe, hold the key to the event of his disappearance and what he has suffered since then.”

I shifted uncomfortably on the sofa and took another sip of the tea. It did little to mitigate the growing dryness in my mouth. They were asking me to do something that was completely outside my area of expertise. The majority of my cases involved doing background checks on the boyfriend of someone’s daughter, usually for the father, staking out a wife’s whereabouts or discovering the exact sin that a particular blackmailer was using against the guilty party. I dealt with common emotional problems. It was no trouble for me to admit that I took advantage of people’s insecurities, that was true, but it was easy to justify because those people would be insecure regardless of my participation.

But this couple was asking me for something very different. I was essentially tasked with deciphering their son’s dreams. It was far removed from my familiar territory of sitting outside seedy motels with binoculars, watching as someone’s wife welcomed a greasy garage hand into her room. It would require finesse and intellect. I consider myself a smart guy, by today’s standards at least, and I have a bit of class, but I was no Daniel. Dream interpretation was certainly no skill of mine.

“I’d probably agree with the police on that issue, Mrs. François,” I said. “I don’t think the night terrors are relevant.”

Maybe they were. Hell if I knew. I just didn’t want to do it.

Léandre François threw out his hand toward me. I flinched. My legs lifted slightly, I drew as far back into the sofa as I could go and sipped at the tea, hiding my face behind the cup. For a brief moment, it seemed he had taken offense. He was going to hit me. Then his hand dipped, lifted a pink wafer biscuit, and he sat back down. I swallowed my mouthful of tea in one loud gulp and exhaled. This interview was turning out to be more like torture.

“Ah, but Mr. Mittelmark, of all the private investigators that we’ve considered, you are the only one with an experience in this area,” she said.

“You’re referring to the Dunwich case.”

“Yes. We are well aware of your foray into the paranormal.”

The Dunwich case. It was the blip on an otherwise mundane record of investigations. Oh, it started out regular enough, though it was a bit more sensationalist than my usual cases. After six months, the police had been unable to find the murderer, so the family began paying various private investigators to search for the killer. I was one of them. I flew over to Dunwich, Suffolk in England immediately to begin my inquiry. The victim was Harriet Huxtable, daughter of Henry Huxtable, who was chairman of the parish council. Her mother had died when she was young. She had one sibling, an elder brother, but he lived in Australia with his wife and worked as an architect. He had flown over after the body had been found, and returned shortly after the funeral, though he assisted in paying for further investigation. It was proven that he was in a meeting during the dates of the murder; I made my own phone calls to verify this to eliminate him as a suspect.

Though the body had long since been removed by the time I and the other P.I.s arrived, the police report stated that she had been found at her mother’s grave. The cause of death was listed as blunt force trauma. The murder weapon was never found, but the police suspected that the killer deposited the item off the coast and into the North Sea. That seemed likely. My own searches came up with nothing too. I drew the same conclusion as the police. The murder of Harriet was tied to the death of her mother.

Unfortunately, the mother couldn’t possibly have died in a less dramatic fashion. When Harriet was just ten, her mother developed breast cancer. According to interviews I conducted with family and friends in the small town, it came as quite as surprise apparently. She didn’t smoke and rarely drank alcohol. Henry, who had known her since their days at the University Campus Suffolk, said she’d never had anything to do with drugs after her younger brother became addicted to codeine. She had a perfect standard of health until the cancer hit, and doctors expected it to go into remission. She was dead within seven months.

The question then became, “how do you connect a healthy woman dying of cancer to the murder of her daughter?” and it was a question that the police had been completely unable to answer. I was only three weeks into my investigation when things started to get really weird. The ghost of Harriet Huxtable was seen walking from her mother’s grave to where the harbor had once been. Coastal erosion had done away with it years ago, but the ghost would walk to where it would have been and then seemed to flicker and disappear.

On the first night, all the private investigators, myself included, dismissed it as local folk nonsense. Most of the townspeople still talked of church bells being heard beneath the waves. We were trying to be serious about our analysis of the crime and didn’t want to indulge them in their tales, but then it happened again. And again. And it kept happening, every night.

A lot of the investigators left immediately. Admittedly, that was refreshing because we were no longer stepping all over each other. A couple of psychics showed up, and they were infinitely more annoying. One psychic said he had a direct link to the girl who revealed the murderer was a homeless drunk known only as Blake. This drunk apparently found Harriet praying at her mother’s grave and attempted to sexually assault the girl, who fought back, but in the struggle, she fell and hit her head against her mother’s tombstone. Blake had then fled, and in his drunken state, fell into the sea. The ghost always walked to the place where the body had been found. But the psychic was a fraud. Firstly, there was no evidence of blood on or damage to the tombstone; secondly, the autopsy showed no signs of a struggle or sexual trauma, and finally, the police had already combed parts of the sea nearest the town. They would have found the body, and even if they hadn’t, it would have washed up somewhere close by. There had been no reports of another dead body washing up anywhere. The town’s people found that particular psychic to be insensitive and tasteless, and they ran him out of town pretty quickly after that.

While other investigators began looking for possible suspects with connections to the occult, I maintained my vigilance with the connection to the mother. A couple of the investigators had begun to believe that the father was involved, but that road seemed like a dead end. There was no history of abuse on his part, and he was good terms with his daughter, or at the very least, as good as a father could be with his teenage daughter. No, it seemed that if there was any motive for murder, it had to lie with the mother. So I dug deeper than anyone else, and began chronicling the life of Ellen Huxtable, née Meadows.

Ellen Meadows was born in 1978 and died at the age of 42. She attended Middleton Community Primary School as a girl and Leiston Community High School as a teenager. She continued into further education at the University Campus Suffolk, where she studied psychology and sociology and met Henry Huxtable, who studied business management and psychology. They shared a psychology class and met during a partnering assignment. They dated for the three years of university and then married in the summer following their graduation, using a little of their student loans that they’d saved and some money provided by her father. Her family had always lived in Suffolk, but she hadn’t moved to Dunwich until after she married. It had been due to her that they had taken up residency in Dunwich because she had accepted a position in the town to work with the community and church members to build better communication networks within the neighborhood and the surrounding towns. Henry soon found himself on the parish council. Three years later, she gave birth to their son, and six years after that, she brought Harriet into the world. She was a peaceful and caring woman, and it saddened the whole village to hear how she passed. But there was one recurring name.

Eddie Thorpe attended Middleton Community Primary School. Eddie also attended Leiston Community High School. In both cases, he was in the same class as Ellen and, in fact, they had even dated for a month in high school. No one in Dunwich knew that because no one in Dunwich had known Ellen before she was married. But they knew Eddie Thorpe. He was the village grounds keeper.

I armed myself and confronted him. He told me the whole torrid story after I revealed that only I had made the connection. Though others had questioned him, it had only been to ask what he’d seen or heard on that night, but no one—not the police, the psychics, or the other private investigators—had made the connection to her past. He explained that he began work as an assistant grounds keeper after school because his grades hadn’t been good enough to allow him to continue on to further education, and after two years, the old grounds keeper, Mr. Whateley, passed away, and Eddie took over the full position. When Ellen arrived with her husband a year later, she didn’t recognize him for two years until he attended a friendship club at the church. She was aloof at first, he said, but slowly, she began to confide in him more and more. They would have long conversations in his hut at the far end of the village, where she would reveal that she hadn’t intended on settling down in Dunwich, or Henry had gotten her pregnant when she had wanted to wait another year before having kids.

A year after the birth of her son, Eddie claimed that he began an affair with Ellen that continued on and off for five years. It ended after the birth of Harriet, at which point Ellen cut off all contact with Eddie. I was never able to substantiate the claims that Eddie made. Statements from neighbors and her husband left me with the impression that she would not have had time to conduct an affair. She never missed a meeting and was never absent from home for long periods of time that weren’t accounted for. The only evidence I found that it happened was in Harriet. A DNA test came back positive for Eddie Thorpe’s paternity. He explained that he’d always suspected as much, but kept quiet out of respect for Ellen. Ten years after the birth of their daughter, Ellen died, but it would be another six years before Harriet would be murdered by her father. In a way, some of the other investigators were right. They were just looking for the wrong father. According to him, she had been digging in her mother’s past as part of a school project to create a family history. She’d found his name in the school records and connected the dots. Smart girl. Pity she died.

The police were right about the murder weapon, but that was about all they were right about. He’d been working on some fencing near the church, but it had gotten too dark to continue. Oh his way home, he stopped by Ellen’s grave to pay his respects. At the same time, Harriet snuck out of her house and confronted him. When he refused to divulge anything about his past with her mother, she threatened to tell her father. He panicked and got violent, clobbering her with the hammer, which he tossed into the sea afterwards.
The spirit had been nothing more than Eddie using an old projector, photos of Ellen that he kept in a shoebox under his bed, and a bunch of basic magic tricks that he learned from watching Breaking the Magician’s Code. It’d only been a trick to get rid of the private investigators. Then he began to cry. I called the police. He didn’t even try to escape while we waited. He just sat there and sobbed.

“That was a year ago, Mrs. François, and I’m afraid I don’t see the relevance of that case to this one,” I said. “The ghost was always going to have a practical explanation, but you can’t say the same for dreams. Some of it might be relevant, some of it might be complete red herrings, and it’s impossible to know which is which unless you go on a wild goose chase searching each and every possible symbol as a lead. If he remembers falling in his night terrors, do I take that to mean his kidnapper dropped him or just that he has a fear of letting go? It would be impossible to know which is which.”

“The Dunwich case is relevant because it highlights exactly why we specifically asked for you to take this case,” she said. “It proves that you go further and deeper into your cases than the average private investigator, and that you alone see clues that others might not. As for the night terrors, well, they seem far too vivid and linear for us to really believe that they are truly up for interpretation.”

I loathed admitting it, but they had piqued my interest. Moments ago, I’d have given anything to just leave, but now, I wanted to hear those night terrors for myself.

About the Author

Writer and blogger, Boyd Jamison lives in the Northern Ireland countryside and holds a BA in English Literature and a MA in Creative writing. Aside from authoring I Plagiarized This Book From Myself, a mystery thriller, he spends his time watching television, reading and playing video games.

Author page: http://preposterousprose.wordpress.com/about/
Goodreads profile: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7477195.Boyd_Jamison
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/boyd.c.jamison
Twitter account: https://twitter.com/legendaryboyd

REVIEW – Infinity + One by Amy Harmon

Infinity + One by Amy Harmon

Available June 8, 2014

327 Pages

Digital $3.99

Paperback $12.99

Amazon

Goodreads

When two unlikely allies become two unwitting outlaws, will two unforgettable lovers defy unbeatable odds? Bonnie Rae Shelby is a superstar. She’s rich. She’s beautiful. She’s impossibly famous. And Bonnie Rae Shelby wants to die. Finn Clyde is a nobody. He’s broken. He’s brilliant. He’s impossibly cynical. And all he wants is a chance at life. One girl. One boy. An act of compassion. A bizarre set of circumstances. And a choice – turn your head and walk away, or reach out your hand and risk it all? With that choice, the clock starts ticking on a man with a past and a girl who can’t face the future, counting down the seconds in an adventure riddled with heartbreak and humor, misunderstanding and revelation. With the world against them, two very different people take a journey that will not only change their lives, but may cost them their lives as well. Infinity + One is a tale of shooting stars and fame and fortune, of gilded cages and iron bars, of finding a friend behind a stranger’s face, and discovering love in the oddest of places.

My Review:

I bought Infinity + One on a whim. The blurb reeled me in, and whatever doubt I had, was blown away by the beautiful cover. Then I read the book, and I wasn’t disappointed by my impulse buy. Infinity + One follows Bonnie Rae Shelby and Infinity (Finn) Clyde as they traverse the U.S. evading the law, Bonnie’s family, and the ghosts of their pasts—what transpires is a modern day tale of Bonnie and Clyde.

Bonnie is a broken girl. A hillbilly from a nowhere town turned country/pop superstar. She has fame and fortune, and an unstable family to go with it. Finn is an ex-con and a mathematical genius with enough baggage to ground a 747. Together, they make one heck of a force.

The night Finn meets Bonnie, she’s standing on the ledge of a bridge ready to jump and end it all. Finn can relate—he’s running, too, though it isn’t clear if it’s running from or to somewhere, but it seems all that’s left is the running. He talks Bonnie down from the ledge and so begins their story.

Bonnie’s history unfolds in sad starts and stops. She’s a twin who has lost her other half to leukemia. Her Gran runs Bonnie’s money—and her life—like an entitled dictator. Finn’s story isn’t much better. He’s also a twin who’s lost his other half, and he spent years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

I liked Bonnie and Finn separately as characters, but the two of them together was lovely. They played off of each other, Bonnie being a little bit country and Finn being a genius, but still from the wrong side of the tracks. The romance was nice, not too over the top, and sprinkled in at just the right times. The romance was definitely a lot more traditional than I expected. The author won’t be ticking off any religious people with this book.

I do think that the story tried too hard, however. There were just too many elements that made it unbelievable. It seemed the author tried to cram everything in, Bonnie’s country roots and Finn’s Boston accent, Bonnie’s sister’s leukemia, and Finn’s brother’s history with the wrong crowd, Bonnie’s obsession with music, Finn’s math, Bonnie’s do-good personality, Finn’s prison history, Bonnie’s religion, Finn’s father. When you added all of these things with the constant up and down of the story line, it was overkill. I think that if the author had focused on a few of these things and let the less important ones fall away, the story would’ve really shined. I felt like I was trying to juggle all the plot points and I couldn’t tell which ones were the most important. I think the music, Finn’s math, and their twins would’ve sufficed (even though I find the twin thing highly improbable—it IS fiction, so I let it slide).

At one point, when Finn is describing his prison tattoos, he talks about what each card means. He mentions that the heart represents his willingness to love (or something like that). It seemed that this would be important, but the author never followed up on it. I took it to mean that he was willing to receive other inmates as sexual partners, which is discussed later in the book as it never happened, but I thought there would be clarification of this point. It stood out to me as a missed plot point.

Overall, this was a quick, enjoyable read. I did like the Bonnie and Clyde references as well as the math. Who knew? (:

3.5 STARS

INTERVIEW – Karoline Barrett Author of The Art of Being Rebekkah

Karoline Barrett is the focus of Read My Dang Book today. Karoline’s book, The Art of Being Rebekkah can be found in all the following locations.

AMAZON PAPERBACK

AMAZON KINDLE

B&N NOOK

KOBO

When talented Jewish artist, Rebekkah Gelles finds out her husband has a frightening dark side, she wants out of her marriage; but her life gets complicated when she moves back to her parents’ home in Park Slope, Brooklyn and falls for the charming Italian detective who’s investigating her estranged husband. Convinced he’s all wrong for her—he’s not Jewish for one thing—Rebekkah struggles with love, faith, family, and a surprise pregnancy.

carol i - CopyAbout Karoline-
She was born in upstate New York and has lived in South America, Indiana, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. At the moment, she lives in a small Connecticut town with her husband. When she’s not writing, she loves reading, spending time by the water, traveling, and doing anything that has nothing to do with math.
She’s currently working on her third novel, a cozy mystery set in upstate N.Y.

Contact Karoline-

Website:           Karoline Barrett

Facebook:         Karoline’s Facebook author page

Twitter:         @KarolineBarrett

Pinterest:          Pinterest

Email:               karoline@karolinebarrett.com

Agent:             Frances Black, Literary Counsel

Publisher:      E-Lit Books

Publicist:         Candice Frederick   candice@djccommunications.com

Interview with Karoline

Kacey, thanks so much for hosting me on your blog! My novel, The Art of Being Rebekkah, was published in December 2013 by E-Lit Books. It’s a coming-of-age story about the challenges Rebekkah, a Jewish artist faces regarding deception, family, faith, and love.

  1. Think back to high school. Were you good at English? It was my favorite subject!

  2. Which writers inspire you? Debbie Macomber, Naomi Ragen, Ann B. Ross, Jane Heller, Faye Kellerman, Tova Mirvis.

  3. So…what have you written? I’ve written short stories and a few poems over the last few years, but I won’t bore everyone with every single one! Here are links to my latest ones; all published by All Things Girl. THE SMELL OF BREAD; L’CHAIM; LIFE RUNNING BY. My creepiest story came from a dream I had about a disturbed priest. It’s called THE LEGEND OF LILLY MARCH and was published by Necrology Shorts. I don’t write horror or creepy, so this was an aberration for me! One of my favorites, THE VISIT, was published Eastown Fiction.

  4. What are your ambitions for your writing career? I’m working on a cozy mystery series that I hope will be a favorite among cozy mystery lovers.

  5. Who is your main character? Rebekkah Gelles is my main character in The Art of Being Rebekkah. What makes him/her so special? She faces a lot of challenges: Letting go of a brain injured fiancé, a husband who isn’t who he seems, and when she falls in love with a man who isn’t Jewish, having to rethink what family, love and faith mean to her.

  6. What genre do you write and what draws you to it? I like women’s fiction because it tends to be character driven, and as a writer I love developing my characters. I also like cozy mysteries with humorous protagonists who feel as if they could be your best friend.

  7. Do you outline or fly by the seat of your pants? Any horror stories related to the “other” way? I outlined my novels. I have total admiration for writers who just sit down and see where their book takes them. With my short stories, I don’t bother outlining. Sorry, no horror stories as I am afraid to attempt a novel without an outline! Maybe someday…

  8. How have you evolved as a writer? I certainly hope so! Compare yourself to when you wrote that first page to where you are now. I started out a few years ago writing short stories. I think now my writing is tighter, not so superficial, and I get to know my characters before I begin writing about them. The first draft of my novel was a mess because I was going in too many directions. I had to start over at chapter fifteen and decide what exactly my book was supposed to say.

  9. What is the easiest thing about writing? Developing my characters.

  10. Do you read ebooks or are you a traditional paperback/hardback reader? I have a whole pile of traditional books to read, so once I get through those, I’ll go to ebooks! I do prefer the look, feel and smell of traditional books, but ebooks definitely have their advantages as well.

  11. What books are you reading right now? You’re assuming I have time to read! Right now writing is my priority, but as I mentioned I do have a “to be read” list!

  12. Who designed your book cover? Martin Blanco. He is an awesome freelance illustrator. Here is a link to his website, Martin Blanco.

  13. How important is it to judge a book by its cover? The first thing you see is the cover. If a cover doesn’t convey something intriguing about your book, you’ve lost readers. I think Martin did a great job of illustrating key points about The Art of Being Rebekkah.

  14. How do you feel about good/bad reviews? So far I have been lucky-no bad reviews. I love the reviews I’ve had so far; they make me feel that my book is resonating with readers; that Rebekkah’s journey is something with which readers can identify.

  15. What phrase or quote motivates you? I came across this quote by Toni Morrison recently, and I thought it was very inspiring in its simplicity: If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.

  16. At what moment did you finally consider yourself a writer? When my first short story was published.

  17. Is there an underlying message in your story? Family, love, and faith don’t always appear, or stay, in our lives the way we envision.

  18. What books have most influenced your life? Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier, any of the Enid Blyton series from when I was a child, anything by Naomi Ragen.

  19. What is your current project? Book two in a cozy mystery series featuring amateur sleuth, bakery owner Molly Tyler. And can you share a little of it with us? It’s currentlynameless, but involves a cosmetic heiress, a murdered library advisory board member, a frog on the endangered species list, and a jilted fiancée.

  20. What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received? It came from my husband who told me, “If you don’t try and write to get published, you’ll always wonder, ‘What if?’”

  21. Do you find inspiration organically or do you seek it out? Usually it comes at 3 a.m., or when I’m driving, or in the shower. You know, when I am nowhere near a pen and paper! I don’t usually have to seek inspiration as I have a very active imagination.

  22. What is your biggest writing weakness and biggest writing strength? My biggest weakness is not staying on schedule-so many distractions! My strengths are plotting, dialogue, and creating believable characters.

  23. What emotions/ideas/purpose do you hope readers will take away from your writing? I hope they fall in love with Rebekkah and her journey to find happiness.

  24. What is the hardest thing about finishing a piece and how do you overcome it? The Art of Being Rebekkah was hard to finish because I didn’t want to say goodbye to her, or Nick, the man she ultimately falls in love with.

  25. Why should someone read your work? The Art of Being Rebekkah explores what happens to a woman after she discovers her husband has a dark side, then falls for a man that seems all wrong for her. If you love romantic women’s fiction that illustrates the female journey, is character driven, emotional, suspenseful, and easily digestible, this book is for you.

  26. What do you do OTHER than write? I love to read (when I have time…), go to the beach, and visit museums.

  27. If you could do it over again, would you change anything in your book? No, I think it’s what it should be.

  28. Who are your favorite NEW authors? I confess to usually reading authors that I am familiar with.

  29. How did you come up with your title? I came up with it during a visit to the Kurt Vonnegut museum. Rebekkah is a complicated woman. She’s an artist. The Art of Being Rebekkah seemed perfect!

  30. Give us 3 words to describe the type of writer you want to be. Popular! Successful! Emulated!

 

Thank you for visiting, Karoline. I’ll be reviewing The Art of Being Rebekkah in the near future. Be sure to look for it!

 

EXCERPT & INTERVIEW – Keeper of the Lost Souls by Kristy Centeno

It’s another great day on Read My Dang Book and we have the lovely Kristy Centeno here for an interview and to promote her NA book.

Keeper of the Lost Souls

380 Pages

Goodreads

Amazon

Bryn McCaskey is young, naïve, and can talk to ghosts…

Like her mother and grandmother, Bryn comes from a breed of witches called The Keepers of the Lost Souls. Their main purpose is to guard those spirits who are permanently or temporarily grounded in the world of the living. Handling supernatural creatures is something which comes naturally to Bryn, however, dealing with people is a whole different story.

As her 18th birthday approaches it’s time for her to take on her first assignment. Bryn is forced to confront her inability to communicate with others in an effort to save the one soul that can mean the difference between life and death for mankind.

Johnny Shaw is a lost soul with a personal vendetta against witches…

A vendetta he has carried on even after death. As much as he hate’s them he must join forces with a keeper witch, in order to stop a century old threat. When fate brings them together, not only will they be forced to learn how to work as a team, but they will have to depend on each other to stop an evil witch carrying a six hundred year grudge!

Excerpt # 1
Before entering the property, I’d made sure I was protected and no amount of demon magic could’ve bypassed that spell. Unless of course, the demon happened to be hundreds of years old. This wasn’t the case, however— of that I was sure. A demon looking to destroy a witch wouldn’t wait so long to finish her off, especially when she was already down. With that in mind, I lifted my bruised body off the ground and stared ahead of me.

“Well, isn’t that something.” Yes, I was pissed. And yes, I wanted whoever or whatever attacked me to know it, too. “You must think yourself really tough because of that surprise attack. But I’ll tell you one thing, you’re not really original.”

When I received no response, I hurried to add, “Come out and fight me like a man.” I was unsure of what I was dealing with, but aware of the fact that somewhere ahead of me there were a pair of eyes on me. I could feel them practically peeling my skin off. “You want to battle? Then show yourself and let’s get to it! I’m not afraid of you.”

“Go away, witch!”

He knows I’m a witch? How? None of my previous charges could tell and even after I told them who I was and why I was there, they still had a hard time believing me.

“You waste your time by coming here.” That voice was as angry as any I’d ever heard.

“I’m not so sure about that.”

“Get the hell out of here,” the voice demanded.

“And if I don’t?”

“Leave! Or I’ll make you leave!”

Excerpt # 2
Contrary to my mother’s words, out of the corner of my eye I happened to catch a glimpse of Marianne’s ethereal form fading into the restaurant right at that precise moment. I should have known she wouldn’t stay away for long. In fact, it kind of surprised me that she’d stayed hidden this long, especially since she had a nasty habit of making me miserable. Thank God for bathrooms, otherwise she would never leave me alone for more than five minutes at a time.

How unlucky to be permanently stuck with my worst nightmare. I tried my best to ignore her and continue eating. It was my birthday, after all, and I had high hopes for this day. Even after Marianne’s best friends walked into the restaurant with their boyfriends, I refused to allow their sour presence to ruin my day.

Unfortunately, pretending not to see her didn’t come off as well as I’d hoped. Marianne wasn’t one to be ignored, and as soon as she saw me she started jumping up and down and swinging her arms from side to side in order to get my attention, which I couldn’t ignore no matter how much I wanted to. There’s something incredibly distracting about a see-through form only you can see, making all kinds of idiotic gestures in order to gain your attention that makes it hard to ignore.

“Oh, geez,” I muttered.

Unfortunately, Mom and Grams had their backs to the restroom— where Marianne chose to appear— so they couldn’t see her.

“Did you say something?”

“Um, uh, I’ll be right back. A trip to the ladies’ room is in order.” Without waiting for a reply, I hurried out of my seat and started for the restroom. By the time I opened the door, Marianne was already inside and sitting on one of the white sinks.

Excerpt # 3
The only reason I escaped being ripped into twenty chunks of flesh was due to Uncle Hung’s intervention. Had he not been in the room with me, I would’ve suffered a gruesome death. Instead, I ended up succumbing to the huge gash on my abdomen, a product of my one on one battle with the evil beast.

As the demon spun around, facing me, I waited to see whether or not it would pick up on my presence a mere fifteen or so feet away. So far, it seemed to have a hard time finding me. Somewhat relieved to have the upper hand for once, I summoned as much energy as I could while the Voltus demon remained oblivious to my whereabouts.

The second the atmosphere began to change around him, the demon started to back away from me, suddenly wary of the unseen threat nearby. Just as his rump reached my bedroom doorway, I hurled a ball of energy his way, sending him crashing into my bedroom with a loud thud.

In less than three seconds flat he was up and out of my room, rushing toward me with deadly intent. Because he’d seen the direction the energy ball had come from, he had an idea of my whereabouts, so in order to avoid his dark magic, I sidestepped him and ran down the hallway in the same direction he’d come from just seconds before.

I hurried down the hall to the opposite staircase, the Voltus demon fast on my heels. Because it detected my movements, it could follow me everywhere I went, and as I rushed to the first floor, it did an excellent job keeping pace with me.

Directing my invisible feet to the center of the living room, I continued forward, determined to mock and outsmart the angry beast chasing me. Intent on annoying him as much as possible, I failed to notice the black ivory stones laid in a perfect circular pattern on the carpet. Because I was too busy acting like a six-year-old, I ran straight inside the circle just as Una’s form materialized right in front of me.

“Well, well, well. Johnny Shaw, how nice it is to see you,” she mocked.

Coming to a stop, I assessed her curly, store-bought red hair and brown eyes filled with hate. I’d waited so long to confront the hated fiend that for a second or two I couldn’t believe she was actually there.

“Una!” I spat her name out as if was venom to my lips. “I can’t say the same thing about you.”

 

Author Bio:

As a child, she used to lose herself in an imaginary world by the means of a good book. Now that she’s all grown up, Kristy gets to create her own fictional realms and make them come to life in ways that most readers might not expect.
She’s always had a passion for writing but never had the opportunity do so until now. After trying out numerous options, she realized that writing was what she loved the most so when she found herself with some free time on her hands, she decided to pursue her passion. As it turned out, her very active imagination helped her achieve her goals of creating believable plots with some ordinary, and some not so ordinary characters that helped the stories move along in one way or another.
As she keeps moving along in achieving her dreams of becoming a published author, she divides her time in between her five children and her very understanding husband.

Author Links:

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Interview with Kristy-

Think back to high school. Were you good at English?

I did well. I received compliments often for my essays and writing style.

Which writers inspire you?

I have too many to name.

So…what have you written?

Secrets of the Moon, a young adult novel. Keeper of the Lost Souls, which is book 1 of the Keeper Witches series. Fierce Awakenings, a paranormal romance novel. Enchanter, is a new adult novel. Love Resurrected, also a paranormal romance. A Taste of Forbidden, is a short story.

All are available on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

I don’t think of my writing as a career. I see it more as a hobby. I write during my free time, which is not a lot. My ambitions are simply to be able to write and publish several books I have in mind, but have not been able to work on for lack of time.

Who is your main character? What makes him/her so special?

Bryn is a young Keeper witch in training. She can speak with ghosts and often help them move on to the afterlife.

What genre do you write and what draws you to it?

Paranormal is definitely my favorite genre. I love it because I can push myself beyond the box and create worlds with rules I can control.

Do you outline or fly by the seat of your pants? Any horror stories related to the “other” way?

On very rare occasions I outline some chapters, but most of the time I just go with the flow. I allow my imagination to run wild and tell me when and where I need to go as my fingers do the typing.

Is there a reason why I do not enjoy outlining? Absolutely. I find that when I do outline an entire story I get stuck. Believe it or not. I work better when I fly by the seat of my pants, as you put it, than when I let things flow naturally.

How have you evolved as a writer? Compare yourself to when you wrote that first page to where you are now.

I have learned to be more confident. To do plenty of research. To use constructive criticism as a learning tool.

I started out knowing very little of the publishing world and I continued to learn as I moved on. As a writer, I made a lot of mistakes. I had trouble with plotting and character development, but the more I worked on it, the more I learned. The more I read, the more I learned. And I soon realized this is an industry where you never stop learning.

I took in what editors, proofreaders, and other authors advised me and worked with it. I found my own voice and writing style thanks to my determination to better myself and the countless advises.

What is the easiest thing about writing?

For me the easiest thing about writing is writing. I really enjoy sitting down and allowing my imagination to take over. I delight in coming up with all kinds of twists and turns that make a story interesting.

Do you read ebooks or are you a traditional paperback/hardback reader?

I read ebooks because they are more convenient. I can fit over 400 books, and counting, in my Nook. However, I have paperback books in my bedroom as well. I love the feel of a traditional book in my hands—especially late at night before I give in to sleep.

What books are you reading right now?

I just finished reading, Bliss, by Lauren Myracle.

How do you feel about good/bad reviews?

I don’t take bad reviews personally. I understand that not everyone will like my writing style or my stories and that’s perfectly okay. Before I ventured into the writing world, and even now, I read a lot. I found books that I loved and others that I simply liked. I found books that were well written but did nothing for me so I get it.

What phrase or quote motivates you?

Live, Love, Laugh. I feel like it applies to my life perfectly. I’m a busy person but I love the chaos that raising five children can bring sometimes. I live with them. Love them. And laugh with them every day. It’s the best job in the world.

At what moment did you finally consider yourself a writer?

When my first work was published.

What is your current project? And can you share a little of it with us?

I am currently working on a new MS. I don’t want to give out too many details yet, but I will say it will fall into the paranormal and new adult category.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

a) You can never do too much research.
b) Edit, edit, and edit some more.
c) Find your own voice.
d) Believe in yourself.

What is your biggest writing weakness and biggest writing strength?

My biggest writing weakness is being unsure as to where I want the story to go. Sometimes I write a scene and then struggle with the outcome. I find myself thinking whether the story is where it should be and if I should have directed it elsewhere.

My biggest writing strength is determination. Once I’m absolutely sure as to where I’m at I write and write until I get the job done.

What is the hardest thing about finishing a piece and how do you overcome it?

There are times when I feel pressured to write an ending my readers will not expect, but struggle with what will work best. When I happen to come to this point, I give myself time to think. To analyze. To plot further. To put the pieces of the puzzle together. Once I take a few days, I come back with a solution and finish off the piece.

Why should someone read your work?

Though it is a book about a witch, it also has a storyline readers will not expect. Each and every one of the characters play an important role that moves the plot along as you read.

What do you do OTHER than write?

My gosh! What don’t I do? Well, for starters I have five children. The youngest is a few months old and as you can imagine my days are filled with plenty of planning, cleaning, running errands, and providing for my children.

When I do have time to myself, I’m either writing, or relaxing by listening to music, reading, or watching one of my favorite TV shows.

If you could do it over again, would you change anything in your book?

Maybe, I would have added a scene here and there but for the most part I’m pretty happy about Keeper of the Lost Souls.

How did you come up with your title?

The title was fairly easy to come up with. It goes perfectly with the story so I really didn’t have to brainstorm all that much. The second I started typing the first chapter I knew what I wanted the story to be called.

Bryn is a Keeper witch and she’s the guardian of the Lost Souls so the title pretty much fell into place from there.

Give us 3 words to describe the type of writer you want to be.

Inspirational. Entertaining. Great.

 

INTERVIEW – N. Dunham Author of Visionary: Unleashed

VISIONARY UNLEASHED (BOOK 1) is the first of the Visionary Trilogy!

202 Pages

Goodreads

Amazon

Sixteen-year-old Aislinn Lee Murphy accidentally unleashes her hidden ability to see things before they happen, making her a Visionary. But little does she know that this amazing gift comes with a severe price. She must never tell a soul or she risks putting herself and her family in great peril.
When Aislinn meets Sebastian, a fellow Visionary, the two of them find themselves completely captivated by one another as they become entangled in a web of danger and adventure.
A Visionary is someone who has been chosen to see the future and has the benefit of having one of twelve spirit animals to guide and protect them, but Aislinn has had many encounters with a red-tailed hawk and that animal doesn’t fall into the same category. It is one of the rarest spirit animals and it comes with a challenging prophecy.

Please visit my website:
www.ndunham.com
and find out which spirit animal you have!!! You will notice that the three rare spirit animals haven’t been posted yet, but stay tuned, they will be available soon!
The ebook for Visionary Unleashed and Visionary Untamed is only .99. Hard copies available. Also, as a special for “Read My Dang Book Blog” guests. I can send out autographed hard copies for only $10.00 if you contact me through my website!!!
Thank you all for taking the time to read my interview. Have a Magical Day!!!!

Warmly,
N. Dunham

Contact the author:

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

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Interview with N. Dunham

1. Think back to high school. Were you good at English?

Well, I was good at speaking English in school, maybe talking too much at times, but reading it or writing it wasn’t at the top of my to-do list. Reading wasn’t a favorite past time of mine until college and now I think I’d be lost without books. When I’m done with a book, I literally can’t wait to get another one. Its true- my name is N. Dunham and I’m addicted to books.

2. Which writers inspire you?

To name a few, William Shakespeare, Suzanne Collins, Stephen King, Nicholas Sparks, Amanda Hocking, Richelle Mead, Veronica Roth and so many more writers inspire each day!

3. So…what have you written? (include books, novellas, short stories, poems, etc., titles and where we can find the work if it’s available)

I have written 2 young adult books from the Visionary trilogy:
Visionary Unleashed and Visionary Untamed.
You can currently find them on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Visionary-Unleashed-Volume-N-Dunham/dp/1491210540/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1385165695&sr=8-3&keywords=visionary+unleashed
I’m currently working on a children’s book and a historical romance book at this time which are not yet released.

4. What are your ambitions for your writing career?

I plan to continue on writing and learning. It has brought me so much solace and enjoyment – I only wish that I started sooner. I have so many thoughts and ideas but time seems to be a struggle.

5. Who is your main character? What makes him/her so special?

The main character of the Visionary Trilogy is sixteen-year-old Aislinn Lee Murphy. She is young and unaware of her hidden talents and powers, but as she discovers more about whom she really is, she grows and becomes a strong, smart, and brave young woman. She is a character who reflects strength and will power and isn’t afraid to admit when she doesn’t know something. She can also turn into the all mighty red-tailed hawk spirit animal-She is very special

6. What genre do you write and what draws you to it?

I currently write young adult fantasy. I enjoy that genre because they’re usually fun and mystical- not something you see every day. I also enjoy other genres as well, but young adult fantasy is my favorite!!

7. Do you outline or fly by the seat of your pants? Any horror stories related to the “other” way?

Well book 1, Visionary Unleashed, mostly told itself. There was no original outline. The characters kind of led the way. Book 2, Visionary Untamed, had a small outline of major events.

8. How have you evolved as a writer? Compare yourself to when you wrote that first page to where you are now.

I think I’m learning every day and I wish to continue doing so. I’m still fairly new to this so I realize that I have a lot to learn, but I am determined to so because I love it so much.

9. What is the easiest thing about writing?

The easiest thing for me is creating the ideas in my head. I like to think about my stories and play out different scenarios in my head before writing. Then I’m able to write a lot quicker when the story has built up in my imagination.

10. Do you read ebooks or are you a traditional paperback/hardback reader?

I am currently a traditional paperback/hardback fan. I am not opposed to ebooks but I still love having books with me. I just like them and I hope they never go away!!

11. What books are you reading right now?

I am currently reading book 4 of the Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead. When I begin a series, I am compelled to finish them.

12. Who designed your book cover?

My cover was designed by http://www.phatpuppyart.com and the typography was done by Ashley from Bookish Brunette Designs. They are truly creative people!

13. How important is it to judge a book by its cover?

They say it’s important to have an eye-catching photo-that it’s your one chance to grab people’s attention. But, I try not to do that when I’m looking for good books because I wouldn’t want to miss out on a great read. Although, I do suppose we’re all guilty of it sometimes-judging before knowing.

14. How do you feel about good/bad reviews?

I appreciate all reviews. I feel thankful that they took the time to read my book as well as write the review. Plus, it’s still a good way to get helpful feedback.

15. What phrase or quote motivates you?

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
– Albert Einstein

There are a few others that I like too, but I think this one is pretty cool!

16. At what moment did you finally consider yourself a writer?

I’m not sure that I consider myself a writer. I suppose I am just a person who likes, I mean loves, to write!

17. Is there an underlying message in your story?

Well, the characters learn that there is a deeper meaning to their life and that they’re destined for greatness, however, the story is purely fictional – it is for fun and entertainment.

18. What is your current project? And can you share a little of it with us?

I’m currently working on a children’s book that involves a ten-year-old girl and wild animals as well as a historical romance that is completely captivating me right now.

19. Do you find inspiration organically or do you seek it out?

I find it every day naturally. So many things inspire me that my brain can’t keep up. I write late at night when I can and my brain keeps saying “please sleep” when it’s like 1:00 am but I keep saying, “Just a little more.”

20. What is your biggest writing weakness and biggest writing strength?

Editing and refining is definitely difficult as well as finding time to get it all done. Creating ideas and enjoying the process of writing is more of a strength for me.

21. What is the hardest thing about finishing a piece and how do you overcome it?

Well, like I said previously, editing and refining is daunting. I guess because it’s my own work and when I reread it – it’s hard for me to notice the mistakes in it. But, I try my hardest and wish for the best!

22. Why should someone read your work?

The idea of people having innate super natural abilities has always appealed to me. To have that coupled with spirit animals that you can turn into, action packed fun, and a beautiful budding romance- then I ask you, why not?

23. What do you do OTHER than write?

I love cooking organic-gluten free foods. I also love hiking, art, theatre and ice cream!!!

24. If you could do it over again, would you change anything in your book?

I wouldn’t change anything about the characters- they seem so real. I suppose there could never be enough editing though

25. Who are your favorite NEW authors?

I am enjoying reading Richelle Mead’s books as well as Jamie McGuire.

26. How did you come up with your title?

It just kind of came to me while writing the story. It fit the theme of the book. The main characters names also are symbolic.

27. Give us 3 words to describe the type of writer you want to be.

I would love to be a creative, inspirational and remembered writer.

 

EXCERPT – HUW THE BARD BY CONNIE J JASPERSON

Connie J Jasperson has the honor of being the very first author on Read My Dang Book. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to work with all the authors and bring some great fiction to the masses.

May I introduce Connie’s book, Huw the Bard.

Genre: Fantasy, Alternate World (mature readers)

Release Date: March 28, 2014

 

Amazon Buy Links:

http://bit.ly/HuwTheBard_US

http://bit.ly/HuwTheBard_UK

Synopsis: The youngest master in the Bards Guild, eighteen-year-old Huw Owyn is at the top of his craft. The Spring Conclave is underway, and Huw is late to the ceremonies. While he lingers with his lady, the Bard’s Guild is attacked. Seeking to become the heir of most powerful man in the valley, Earl Rann Dwyn hangs the Guild Master, Huw’s father. His thugs torch the hall with everyone still inside, burning a quarter of the city with it.

Smuggled out of the burning city in a reeking ale barrel, Huw is a wanted man. Starving, reduced to begging and worse, he must somehow make his way north to safety. It’s a 200-league walk, as the crow flies, to the one place he might have a friend, though the path Huw must take is anything but straight.

Murder and the taint of treason – a lot can happen to a man on journey like that.

Here’s Connie –

One day I woke up and realized I had a lot of stories to tell the world. So I wrote a book. And then, I wrote another, and that lead to another. I am always curious about why people do the frequently amazing and often terrible things we sometimes do.

Also, I’ve always been fascinated by the middle ages, and I am a real fan of fantasy. I write the sort of stories I want to read. They are sometimes harsh, sometimes hilarious, sometimes romantic, and never take the easy path. Huw the Bard is no different. I had written a book in 2010, and while that book is no longer available, one of the minor characters, Huw Owyn, seemed to want attention. In fact, he wanted an entire book, so during NaNoWriMo 2011 I wrote the rough draft of his story.

Huw the Bard is set in an alternative earth, in a country called Waldeyn. This is world just emerging from the dark ages, and many of the nobility do not want that transition to occur as it threatens their power. There is magic, but few people can use it. For the most part it is the environment that has the magic, which keeps things lively.

At the outset, Huw doesn’t realize it, but he is a terribly spoiled, naïve young man. He is the son of Balen Owyn, the most powerful man in the Bard’s Guild. A musical prodigy, Huw’s personal talent and charisma are such that he was raised to the position of master at the age of 16, and now aged 18, Huw is at the top of the craft. He’s a cocky bad-boy, riding the crest of fame and living the good life.

Unfortunately, Huw’s father, Balen Owyn, sometimes meddles in politics, and he has angered the wrong people. One of these men, Earl Rann Dwyn, decides to rid the nobility of the entire Bards’ Guild, and chooses the one day of the year they will all be under one roof in the port city of Ludwellyn to do it. With no further thought, Dwyn ignites a fire that consumes most of the port city to accomplish that. Forced to flee the burning city, Huw is alone and penniless. His lover has effectively abandoned him and his father and all his friends are dead. He must somehow get to the north, where the powerful Grefyn clan has no power.

Huw escapes the conflagration concealed in a reeking ale barrel. Using a false name as he journeys north, he goes from one disaster to another. Along the way, he meets and rescues a mysterious northern mercenary, Sir Julian Lackland, who tells him to go to Billy Ninefingers, captain of the mercenary crew known as the Rowdies.

Huw doesn’t really see himself as a mercenary, but he realizes that Lackland is the sort of man legends grow up around. He is fired with the determination to be the man to write them. He decides to take Lackland’s advice, believing that once he is out of the long valley, he will at last be safe. As Huw will discover, safety is a relative term in Waldeyn.

As I said, I don’t make it easy on my characters, because life is not easy. I put my characters in an environment and give them a problem. Their reactions to that situation begin the story. One thing leads to another, and that becomes the book. At the end of the book, I hope my reader feels they got what they wanted out of the time they spent in my world.

 

Excerpt from Huw the Bard, by Connie J. Jasperson

An owl hooted and the hair on Huw’s body stood up at the sound. Owls are bad luck, he thought. He was tempted to turn back to Imrysdock, but definitely couldn’t return there. All he could do was to try to walk through the eerie village as quickly as possible.

Huw came to what had once been the center of the abandoned town. As he approached, he could hear a squeaking sound, like a sign moving in the wind. Once in the town square, the creaking noise grew louder.

He came upon a tall oak tree from which dangled an odd sort of gibbet-cage. It was like a birdcage in shape and about five feet high by three feet across. The side was fitted with a door just large enough for a man to fit through, and a padlock was firmly latched on the outside.

As the cage swung in the breeze, the light of the moon showed brief glimpses inside. A young knight in chainmail, who appeared about eighteen, was imprisoned there. He was either sleeping or unconscious, although in the dark he looked, at first, to be dead. Dark marks like bruises decorated his handsome face, and dried blood matted his blond hair. He was seated with his legs folded in a position that must have been terribly uncomfortable, and it was impossible to tell how long he’d been there.

Looking around, Huw could see no one who might observe him. Still, he stayed close to the deep shadows of the tree’s canopy. As he circled the trunk, he saw a large sword lying in an intricately worked scabbard beneath the knight’s prison. What’s this? Why did they leave his sword here? Is it to torment him?

Huw came to a decision. Carefully he climbed the tree and inched out onto the branch toward the suspended cage. The stench rising from the man was overwhelming, a fetid combination of urine, feces and misery. Gah! He’s been forced to live in his own filth since they put him here, poor sod. The door was at the limit of Huw’s reach, but by using his sword he was able to break the padlock.

At the sound of the lock falling away, the young knight started and woke. Still using his sword, Huw swung the door to the cage open. “Wait until I get down below you,” he whispered to the battered man. “I’ll catch you when you leave. Your legs won’t work well, for a few minutes at least. I’ve had a similar experience, being forced to stay in a cramped place.”

Nodding, the knight did as he asked. Once Huw was beneath him, the man tried to leave gracefully, but ended up falling out as he couldn’t feel his legs or move them. Huw caught him and tried to hold him upright. The man’s battered face betrayed his misery as he endured the pain of the blood rushing back to his feet. Unable to hold the large knight upright, Huw lowered him to the ground while the man clenched his teeth and groaned with the agony in his limbs. At last he sat up, and through parched lips he tried to thank his rescuer.

 

 Visit Connie

Connie J. Jasperson on Twitter: @cjjasp

Connie J. Jasperson on WattPad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/ConnieJJasperson

Connie J. Jasperson on Linked In: www.linkedin.com/pub/connie-j-jasperson/33/94/b38/

Connie J Jasperson, Author on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/cjjasperson

Life in the Realm of Fantasy (Connie J Jasperson’s Author Blog) http://conniejjasperson.wordpress.com

The Best in Fantasy Book Reviews – http://bestinfantasy.blogspot.com

 

REVIEW – The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi

The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi

Available April 1, 2014 from Sourcebooks Fire

342 Pages

Amazon

Goodreads

Apparently there are two different blurbs for this book, as Goodreads and Amazon are different. Tricky, tricky!

Goodreads Blurb:

Lexi has a secret.

She never meant for her mom to find out. And now she’s afraid that what’s left of her family is going to fall apart for good.

Lexi knows she can fix everything. She can change. She can learn to like boys. New Horizons summer camp has promised to transform her life, and there’s nothing she wants more than to start over.

But sometimes love has its own path…

Amazon Blurb:

Lexi would do anything to keep her broken family together. Even if it means denying who she really is.

You are on the road to truth. Help is on the way.

The road signs leading to New Horizons summer camp promise a new life for seventeen-year-old Lexi. Ever since her mom found out she was in love with a girl, her broken family has been pulled even further apart. But Lexi swears she can change.

Denying her feelings is harder than she thinks. And when she falls heads over heels for one of her fellow campers, Lexi will have to risk her mother’s approval for the one person who might love her no matter what.

My Review:

There is a spoiler below, clearly marked *SPOILER*

This book literally broke my heart. I went into it knowing that I would probably hate 75% of the things that happened in it on principle alone. Camps that “religion” the gay out of people—don’t even get me started. There is a boiling fury under my skin that places like this exist. As if you can apply God to something so inherently innocent and pure—turning love into a sin. But that is a rant for another place.

What I really enjoyed about this book is that it had balance. While there were awful, gut-wrenching parts that made me want to load up on guns and bring my friends, there were also parts of pure, bubbling joy that warmed my heart and made me smile like an idiot. There is something so beautiful about the happiness that love brings.

So here’s the lowdown on the story. Lexi is a gay teenager from a small religious town. The type of place where people make fun of homosexuality and don’t even bat an eye. The type of place where people wield bibles like knives and use them to cut out all the “sinful” parts. After her father dies, Lexi’s mom falls into a deep depression, one where she randomly spaces out and burns dinner, or forgets to pay the bills.

And then Lexi’s mom finds out that her daughter likes girls.

But, never fear! There’s “Pray the Gay Away” Camp!

Oh man. I’m fighting the urge to rant. It’s so hard.

Lexi goes into the camp hopeful. She fears that if she doesn’t become straight, her mom will never overcome her depression. It’s such a sad task placed on Lexi’s shoulders. My heart ached for her. She wants to be straight. She wants to make her mom happy. (And all I can think is, how many times does this actually happen? SO sad.)

But right away, Lexi meets fellow camper, Carolyn, who is beautiful, and, praise Jesus, also GAY! Except that “Pray the Gay Away” Camp is probably not the best place to start a gay relationship.

Things go from bad to worse. The camp’s practices are awful, violent, and emotionally debilitating. It made me wonder how much research the author did when she wrote this book. I get a strong feeling that the book is spot on realistic. Unfortunately, she doesn’t talk about it in the acknowledgments and I don’t have time to Google. Suffice it to say that it was awful.

*SPOILER*

Reading the emotional abuse and sexual assault parts was the worst—but the ending was so worth it.

*END SPOILER*

Verdi takes a very dark, disturbing topic, and brings it to light. Camps like these will never be okay. Telling someone to deny their very basic human nature will never be okay.

Basically, I just want to give Jessica Verdi a giant hug and THANK HER for writing about this topic so sensitively, and giving us multiple viewpoints, while allowing the teenagers to actually be teenagers.

This is a fantastic read. I highly recommend it. I hope it opens a few eyes and even more hearts.

4 STARS

REVIEW – The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

The Kiss of Deception (Morrighan Chronicles #1) by Mary E. Pearson
Available July 15th, 2014 from Henry Holt

In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

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Goodreads

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I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I am in no way compensated for my opinions.

I really, really enjoyed this book. Let’s break it down.

The first awesome thing about The Kiss of Deception is that it’s successfully written from three different points of view (and at one point, four points of view). Also, it’s in first person, but for once, it was necessary for it to be this way.

The story starts out with Princess Lia on her wedding day. She marrying a prince she’s never met to forge an alliance between two kingdoms. Lia, however, has other plans and escapes the kingdom along with one of her ladies before the wedding happens. They travel to a distant town and start new lives working in a tavern.

What Lia doesn’t know is that there’s two people following her, the prince she left behind and an assassin. Both boys show up in the new town on the same night.

Here’s where the first person becomes so important. At the top of every chapter (except the ones written from Lia’s point of view), we get a name or a title. So either Rafe, Kaden, The Assassin, or The Prince. Because it’s written in first person, you don’t know who is the prince and who is the assassin. I found this twist SO GENIUS. So while Lia is falling in love with one or both of these boys, the reader isn’t really sure who is who. Maybe they speculate. Maybe they’re right…but then again, maybe they’re wrong. The only other thing I’m going to say on this point is read carefully, the author drops lots of clues, but the surprise is so worth it.

I liked Lia as a character. She was a princess, but not afraid to get dirty and work hard. She also wasn’t afraid to stand up for what she believed in and recognize her own flaws. There’s a particular scene near the end of the book where she kills a horse to save a child from having to do it himself. The characterization of Lia in this scene was so spot on. It gave me ridiculous amounts of respect for her.

Of course, then there’s the boys. I can’t speak too much about them or it’ll be too spoilery, but I’ll give a few juicy tidbits.

The competition between the two boys is amusing and downright hilarious at some points. While one is clearly winning through most of the story, the different points of view leave the reader wondering if he’s really the person Lia’s supposed to be with.

Kaden is very much the quiet, pensive type. He has a lot going on behind his eyes, a past that molds him into the type of person he is. He always seems gentle, but surprised when people show him kindness.

Rafe is boisterous and sure of himself. He’s kind, but he has secrets of his own that he can’t let Lia find out.

The setting of the story is rich with history and local color. The author did a great job of rooting me in all the different places and cultures. I liked the languages and the way the history wove itself through the story without being overbearing. It was like solving a puzzle little by little, which is the most rewarding type of reading, I think, and even better because I was still surprised in the end. The characters are dynamic, multifaceted, and a constant surprise as the story progresses. I found myself relating to the characters, even when they did things I didn’t agree with.

Artfully crafted, with twists and turns that kept me up at night, The Kiss of Deception will delight fans of Graceling by Kristin Cashore and Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb.

The only disappointment I had from The Kiss of Deception, was when I reached the end. Thank god it’s a series. I need the second book NOW!

5 Stars!