3 things I love about Christmas, and 3 things I hate

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1) I love the opportunity to spend time with family and friends. It’s a great excuse to get people together and have a good catch-up. We all live very hectic lives, and this time of year we can take time out and have a festive cuppa and a good old chat.

 
2) Presents. I’ll say it again, presents! I know it’s a bit capitalist/ commercial, but I’m not above saying that I love gifts and also the chance to buy beautiful things for the important people in my life. I’m a bit of a shopaholic, and I take every gift as a challenge to buy something that I think that person will love, something that shows them that I listen to them and know them.

 
3) The promise of a new year. Christmas heralds a new year and a chance to feel like anything is possible. It wasn’t that long ago that such a time started my writing journey, got me published and saw me start a writers’ group that has helped others along the way too.

1) But I do hate Turkey, There, I said it. It’s dry and has a strong taste to it, but this time of year I’m made to eat it. I can usually choke it down if I smother it in oodles of cranberry sauce, but still, I wish a new meat would emerge as a traditional Christmas meal. Although a few years back my mum branched out for Christmas and bought a bird within a bird, within a bird which turned out to be a culinary sin against nature, so maybe I should be grateful for the white meat devil I know!

2) I can’t stand Christmas decorations. I know, bar-humbug! But they smell funny; they make rooms seem claustrophobic and manic (if not done correctly, and mostly they are not) Competing with neighbours as to who can have the most flashing lights dripping off your house that waste electricity and distract drivers is just crazy. Then add in the cost and time for putting all those tinsel-encrusted decorations up and taking them down… it’s exhausting. Now, I’m not against everything; I love a bit of bunting just as much as the next girl, but a little moderation can go a long way.

3) Christmas cards. I really hate being told what to do, and for years my family forced me to write Christmas cards. What a waste of time, paper, money and thought. I’d much rather see that person and buy theeventing_and_dog_fall_photos_118m a drink and have a proper chat than give them a card of one of four designs I bought in last year’s sale with a scrawled signature in. Yes, as an author I’m still buzzed when I get to sign a book, but having to write fifty cards at once is just wrist numbingly wrong. I always appreciate when someone gives me a card, and I respect other people’s belief in them, but instead of just a hurried pre-bought Christmas message, why not use them to invite that person round for some mulled wine or, if they are too far away, set up a Skype call.

And for no real reason, other than it’s Christmas, here’s a cute dog dressed as Santa!

Merry Christmas to all my readers, and to all a good blog. May your turkey be moist and everyone you love be near enough to hug. Nicx

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A Writer’s 10 New Year’s Commandments.

file0001372488933These started off as resolutions for writers but ended up with a kind of biblical theme – so (as per point 10)  I’ve changed it to ‘Commandments’ and just gone with it! So here are your New Year’s writer’s resolutions – if you have any more you’d like included, feel free to include them at the bottom.

1)      Thou salt not procrastinate. Writing shall come before: TV, housework, and random/ impromptu pub visits.

2)      I am a writer – this shall be repeated at least 10 times a day to both reinvigorate your desire for the written word and reinforce your chosen career path.

3)      Thou shalt not make a rod for your own back. Too many publishing deadlines lead to a dangerously high consumption rate of caffeine and general panic. Thou shall say ‘no’ when you’ve reached your optimum level of manuscripts.

4)      Remember social media and use it wisely. No more posts of cute animals and evidence of Bigfoot.

5)      You shall help to get the word out for fellow authors, mostly in hopes that they will do the same for you – but also because it’s nice.

6)      Do not take your editors’ names in vain – they are just trying to help!

7)      Thou shalt not kill or give away any psychopathy tendencies (no wait, this one is just for me!)

8)      Honor your publishers and readers with free bonus materials and stories.

9)      You shall not covet the same ol’ genre troupes – thou shalt spread your literary wings.

10)   Thou shalt roll with the punches and just go with it. Evolution can happen on small scales.

Although I hope there’s some good advice above, I’d like to leave you with a serious, yet playful, piece of life advice that I wish someone had told me sooner.

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One of my favourite books is ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and there’s an exchange between The Cheshire Cat and Alice that perfectly demonstrates the point:

“Excuse me sir,” Alice enquires, “could you tell me which road to take?”

Wisely the cat asks, “Where are you going?”

Somewhat dismayed, Alice responds, “Oh, I don’t know where I’m going sir.”

“Well,” replied the cat, “if you don’t know where you are going, it really doesn’t matter which road you take.”

Know where you are going! People that say that it’s ‘the journey not the destination’ are the kind of people you see in the supermarket with their trolley proudly holding a stick of garlic butter, a jar of olives and a three for two offer on doughnuts! Make a list, people – know where you are going!

Interview with Rhiannon Frater

RhiannonFraterTell us about your publishing journey…

This is a tough question because the answer is actually quite long. I guess to put it simply, I wrote an online serial that was hugely successful with its audience, so I self-published it as a trilogy. I was eventually picked up by my agent who turned around and sold the As The World Dies trilogy (The First Days, Fighting to Survive, Siege) to Tor. It has now come out in both trade paperback and mass market paperback and has several foreign editions.

Though I’m now published by both Tor and Permuted Press, I do continue to self-publish. The Last Bastion of the Living has been my most successful indie work both monetarily and critically.

My next book from Tor will be Dead Spots and Permuted Press is currently reissuing my vampire/zombie trilogy Pretty When She Dies.

What do you love about being an author? 9781441439888_frontcover-199x300

I love that I can somehow transfer these dynamic stories from my mind to the page so that other people can read and enjoy them. It feels like magic. I’m incredibly blessed that I can write full-time and continue to explore the strange worlds inside my imagination.

What part do you dislike about being an author?

Probably the physical pain that comes with writing so much. My hands and wrists ache every day and sitting for so long does aggravate my back (though standing for too long is much worse).

It also took some time getting used to not having a regular paycheck and figuring out how to create a budget that works with quarterly payments and fluctuating monthly royalties.

9781441440105_frontcover-200x300What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

To never compromise on the story. In the end, I have to be happy with what I wrote. If I alter something to bow to the wishes of fans or an editor/publisher, I have to live with that. That’s a very sobering thought. I will tweak the little stuff to make the story more dynamic, but there are certain elements of a story I will not budge on.

If you could have dinner with a literary character – who would it be and what would you eat?

I would love to hang out with the cast of characters from the Pretty When She Dies trilogy because they’re Austin based and we could go to my favorite restaurant for chicken enchiladas and margaritas. I’d rather meet one of my own characters (since I know them well), than a character from someone else’s book.

What was the last book you read and what were your thoughts on it?

I read Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened. It was wickedly funny, but also very insightful. I have people in my life who deal with depression and/or bi-polar disorder, so there were a few parts that were an interesting portal into the mind suffering from a mental disorder. I also love anything she writes about her childhood and her dogs. I’m a huge fan of Allie Brosh’s blog, so her first book was an auto-buy.

You have a time machine, which era do you go back to and why?

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I would most likely go back to the 1950’s so I could hang out with my mother when she was a young woman. I’d also like to meet my great grandparents during that time period. It would be very tempting to warn my mother about the future, but that probably wouldn’t be the best idea.

If you were to cast your book, who would play the leads?

I’m going to assume you mean The Last Bastion of the Living (since I have a bunch of books!), so I would have to go with Michelle Rodriguez as Maria and George Clooney as Dwayne Reichardt. Those are also the two top actors that fans pick. Of course, in my head the two characters didn’t look like movie stars, but just themselves. It’s always hard to add a new face to a character when it comes to dreamcasting a book.

What’s your favourite TV show, and why?

American Horror Story is my absolute favorite right now. I just love the anthology series and the weird places the writers take the viewers every season. I also love watching Archer with my husband because it’s so wrong, yet so hilarious.

9781481110099_frontcover-195x300What has been the best Xmas present you’ve ever received?

My 12 inch Princess Leia doll who had real hair! That was a big coup for my mom back in the late Seventies. I loved that doll. I still have her in storage.

What’s the best part of Xmas for you?

The nieces and nephews running amok through the house and having fun. The day after Christmas we always have a zombie marathon and play video games. I always enjoy that because they are such rabid little zombie hunters.

Are you on Santa’s nice or naughty list this year?

If he reads my books, I’m probably on both!

Are there plans for another novel in the series?

The Last Bastion of the Living is a standalone novel. I don’t anticipate there being a sequel. It’s been five years since the idea first landed in my mind and it hasn’t spawned a second story, so chances are it won’t. Whenever fans ask me for a sequel they always suggest the same three plots, so that’s a big indicator of what not to write. I absolutely love that world, the tech, and the characters, but the story felt complete when I finished.

Do you have a New Year’s Resolution in mind for 2014?

Not really. I tend to have certain hopes for a year. I’ve learned that it can sometimes take years for a resolution to come to pass, so I generally work toward the same goal every year. Write more, publish more, and sell more.

If your characters could give your readers a Xmas message, what would it be? 

I honestly have no idea. Their world is so far removed from our own I’m not even sure they celebrate holidays.

Where can fans find you online?

The portal for all things Rhiannon Frater is at rhiannonfrater.com It has a full list of all my books, my blog, and links to social media.

Book Review: Ribbon of Darkness by Decadent Kane

rSynopsis:

Before Ribbon had a chance to get used to the idea of being an elf, she ran into Draven who’s body jingled her bells. Unfortunately, he’s the spy sent to haul her and her family back to the North Pole on Santa’s orders.

Draven North has had one task for the last twenty-four years: find the Winters family and bring them home. He wasn’t expecting their only daughter to deck his halls. No matter how hot and sassy he found his roguess, he had to take her back before the darkness devoured the Pole and Christmas magic along with it. But was it already too late?

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/u6IX–LJnUc

About the Author:

If I had to describe myself, it would be in a word that has infinite meanings with a complexity which falls off the tongue.

A word made up of many elements, is deceptive in appearance, and creates an illusion from the imagination.

My word would be Phantasmagoric.

FB: https://www.facebook.com/DecadentKane

Blog: http://decadentkane.blogspot.com/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/23398789-decadent-kane

Newsletter signup: http://eepurl.com/FDtsL

My Review:

This really shouldn’t work – but it sooooo does! I love that Santa and his elves are put in a more adult book. It’s a short read, but is such a wonderful idea that it really doesn’t matter.

There’s enough intrigue for a decent plot and it doesn’t just revolve around the sugar and spice scenes – like some erotic romances do. The main characters were fleshed out and it really is a perfect read for this time of year – as long as you’re over 18 that is!

From a writer’s perspective, the book works well with a release around this time, but does limit the author to really only this season for the next books in the series– unless of course she expands out into other seasonal worlds – maybe the Easter Bunny is a hot muscle bound egg distributor? The flow was great, it wasn’t very long and didn’t take me more than one sitting to finish it.

The front cover is very pretty and I think really does the book justice. The cover artist obviously read the book and listened to the author.

Overall I’d give Ribbon of Darkness 4 out of 5 stars – a fab holiday read for adults who have stopped believing in Santa!

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Xmas Interview with Lacy Williams

43d6a633094b0ad8956ed2.L._V368184157_SX200_What’s you favourite aspect of Xmas?

Christmas has been my favorite holiday since I’ve been a child. I love putting up the outdoor lights (we had ours up before Thanksgiving this year!), decorating the tree, the music, the feeling in the air, the joy all around.
I *don’t* like: the traffic and crowds at my favorite shopping places!

Are you on Santa’s naughty or nice list this year?

Safe on the nice list.

Reindeer stew – would you eat it?

If I didn’t have any other choice to survive. :)

What’s the best present you ever got?

My parents have been very supportive of me wanting to be a writer, even during my childhood. When I was about 10, I received a typewriter for Christmas. I typed out many a story on that machine–I hate to think about how much money they spend on cartridges and paper for several years!

Kiss/Marry/Avoid the following: Jim Carrey’s The Grinch, Will Farell’s Elf, Tim Allen’s Santa?

Haven’t seen it (love the old animated version, though!)/ Kiss / Marry

Do you prefer giving presents or receiving them?

I love finding the perfect gift, enjoy wrapping, and get a thrill when the person opens it. Yes, I’m a giver.

If your characters from Unholy Alliance could give readers a Xmas message what would it be?

Every day is a gift (Shane would say a risk), so live it to the fullest. Splurge on holidays, like Christmas, and gather your family around.

 What’s your 2014 new year’s resolution?

I’m actually not big on resolutions. I believe in setting goals and living life in a way that I won’t have regrets when I look back. But I do have a lot of goals for 2014. :)

What books can we look forward to seeing from you next year?

Delicate Accord is Lily’s story (she is the computer nerd from Shadow Allegiance). I’m really excited about writing it. It should be out in early 2014. Readers can sign up for my newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/GEpGf to make sure they get the word when it comes out!

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Interview with Laura Lam

5806077Tell us about your publishing journey…

I sent off my first barely-finished manuscript and, to my surprise and bemusement, I had a revision request and, once I revised, I had a publishing deal and an agent. But before that, I studied creative writing at university, focusing mostly on short fiction and poetry.

What do you love about being an author?

That first buzz of getting a new idea, when you have that tingle in your fingers that means it’s an idea that will possibly turn into a novel, rather than a passing fancy. Getting a really nice review or a piece of reader mail. Finishing a book and holding the final, final copy in your hands for the first time.

What part do you dislike about being an author?

The stress, the difficulty in making a living wage, the uncertainty, and negative reviews.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Just write.

If you could have dinner with a literary character – who would it be and what would you eat?

Tyrion Lannister. It would be an amusing meal. We’d eat a meat pie and swig beer. Pantomime-144dpi

What was the last book you read and what were your thoughts on it?

Mapping the mind by Rita Carter – a nonfiction book about neuroscience. Absolutely fascinating and accessible to a layperson like me.

You have a time machine, which era do you go back to and why?

I’d like to visit the time that’s almost my present, like the early 80s or late 70s. Think it would be interesting.

If you were to cast your book, who would play the leads?

 Micah –  Saoirse Rionan or Sterling Knight

Drystan – Alex Pettyfer (in looks, at least. Not seen him act in anything)

Cyan – Ziyi Zhang

Maske – Ralph Fiennes

What’s your favourite TV show, and why?

For pure escapism and unwinding – Masterchef. It’s the perfect thing to watch after a long day of work, writing, and the gym.

What has been the best Xmas present you’ve ever received?

My childhood cat, when I was 7.

cover38296-mediumWhat’s the best part of Xmas for you?

Time off work!

Are you on Santa’s nice or naughty list this year?

I’d say I’ve been fairly nice this year.

Are there plans for another novel in the series?

I’m hoping it’ll be a trilogy, but at the moment the third book has not been commissioned.

Do you have a New Year’s Resolution in mind for 2014?

Be kinder to myself.

If your characters could give your readers a Xmas message, what would it be?

“What’s Christmas?”

Where can fans find you online?

 Website: http://www.lauralam.co.uk

Twitter: @LR_Lam

Facebook: http://facebook.com/lauralamauthor

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/micahgrey

Tumblr: http://lauraroselam.tumblr.com/

Bio and photo can be found here: http://staticsplit.wordpress.com/about/

Interview with Amalie Howard


4693312Tell us about your publishing journey.

My publishing journey is an interesting one. My first novel, Bloodspell, published in 2011 by an independent small press, received eight offers from agents in two days. It was thrilling and awesome and overwhelming. I chose one, who for various reasons wasn’t able to sell the book. We separated and I went out on my own sans agent. My first book wasn’t the major deal I’d been expecting, but it was a start. After about a year, I wrote another book and went out to four carefully selected agents. I signed with The Liza Royce Agency, and continued writing, finishing two more books. In December 2012, my phenomenal agent sold all three of my books within a three-week span—a two-book deal to Harlequin Teen (Waterfell Nov 2013 and Oceanborn Aug 2014), a two-book deal to Strange Chemistry (The Almost Girl Jan 2014), and a standalone to Sky Pony Press (Alpha Goddess Mar 2014). All in all, it’s been quite a journey. And I’m grateful for every grueling, heart-pounding, cushion-throwing, chocolate-snarfing second of it!

What do you love about being an author?

I love being able to share my stories with the world, and also hearing back from readers. I love that my books make people feel something, and I especially enjoy when people get passionate about my characters or plot direction or anything writing-related.

What part do you dislike about being an author?

The rule of thumb is to never respond to negative reviews, but that doesn’t mean those reviews don’t hurt. We live in a technological age where everyone has a voice, and not all of those voices are constructive. Imagine walking naked into the most famous building where you live and just standing there, asking people to judge you. It’s kind of a little like that. Not everyone’s going to be gentle.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t give up.

If you could have dinner with a literary character – who would it be and what would you eat?

I would love to have dinner with Hermione, and we would eat in the great hall at Hogwarts. I literally salivated every time those scenes came on during the Harry Potter movies.

What was the last book you read and what were your thoughts on it?

The last book I read was Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and it was one of the best contemporary books I’ve read recently. Beautifully written with characters that just leapt off the page. I devoured it in one sitting.

You have a time machine, which era do you go back to and why?

Since I’m a huge fan of Regency romance, I’d choose to go back to the early nineteenth century where I would live as a young countess in Europe. Notwithstanding the corsets, I’d really like to experience the haute ton with all the balls and all the decadence. And if I met a handsome duke, I wouldn’t mind that either.

If you were to cast your book, who would play the leads? cover38277-medium

Ooh, I love this question! I would cast Astrid Berges-Frisbey or Imogen Poots as Riven, and Brenton Thwaites or Nicholas Hoult as Caden. Which one out of each would you choose?

 What’s your favourite TV show, and why?

My current favorite TV show is The Walking Dead. I am addicted, and I don’t even like zombies. That said, it isn’t just a show about zombies. It’s about survival and relationships, and choices you would make when faced with worst-case scenarios. You become so invested in these characters fighting for their lives every second of every day—struggling to maintain their humanity and empathy. It’s very compelling television.

What has been the best Xmas present you’ve ever received?

My Harley Nightster motorcycle last year!

What’s the best part of Xmas for you?

Watching my children’s faces on Christmas morning. My heart just feels so incredibly full.

Are you on Santa’s nice or naughty list this year?

I’m so on the nice list! I am, check it again. You must have skipped my name. It’s there, I swear.

Are there plans for another novel in the series?

Yes, there’s a sequel in the works to THE ALMOST GIRL, which I am currently writing! Riven is on the hunt for her father, but things don’t always work out the way we expect. To save her world, she’s going to have to do the impossible and the one thing she loathes the most—align forces with her worst enemy.

Do you have a New Year’s Resolution in mind for 2014?

The usual—get healthy, spend more quality time with family, help those in need, write more books, give more, worry less, be thankful, and be happy.

If your characters could give your readers a Xmas message, what would it be?

The spirit of Christmas isn’t a one-day thing—it should be an everyday thing. If I could give just one message, I’d say choose to be kind. You will be happier for it.

Interview with Cassandra Clare

Cassandra ClareTell us about your publishing journey…

I’ve always loved to write stories, but I didn’t start taking it seriously as a career option until after I finished graduate school. At that point I began writing short stories and sending them off to publications, and I also started work on a novel—The Mad Scientist’s Daughter. It was a couple of years before I was ready to take the plunge and send it out to agents. It didn’t catch anyone’s eye agent-wise, but I did send it to Angry Robot’s first Open Door month. They picked it up, and my thus my career began!

What do you love about being an author?

Well, it’s basically my dream job! I love that I’m paid to make up stories and be creative, and I love that I get to set my own hours and work from home. It really is everything I could want in a career.

What part do you dislike about being an author?

I feel like I’m not very good at the marketing side of things—I’m very shy, and I sometimes get anxious posting things on the Internet. But getting published has helped me over some of that, actually.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

This was framed as writing advice, but honestly I think it’s good life advice in general: learn to distinguish between goals and dreams. A goal is something that you can do completely on your own, without depending on luck or other people (for example, write a thousand words a day). A dream is something that’s ultimately out of your control to achieve (for example, get published). By acheiving your goals, you’re able to work toward your dream.

If you could have dinner with a literary character – who would it be and what would you eat?

For some reason, my initial response to this question was Hannibal Lecter, which is a horrific answer. But I think the reason I thought of him is because dinner with Lecter would be a grand, gourmet affair, assuming you insisted on going full vegetarian. But after thinking about it for a few minutes, I realized I could get the grandness without the horror by eating a meal at Hogwarts. I think of all the Harry Potter characters I’d most liked to eat with Remus Lupin, so if Dumbledore could arrange for the two of us to chow down in the Great Hall, eating roast chicken and butterbeers and sticky toffee pudding, that would be excellent.

What was the last book you read and what were your thoughts on it?

I recently finished Marisha Pessl’s Special Topics in Calamity Physics and I loved it! I read Night Film, her most recent book, about a month ago and it completely sucked me in, so I was excited to read Special Topics, which is her first book. I just adored the characters, the language, and the way the plot compels you forward.

You have a time machine, which era do you go back to and why?

Probably the late 1950s/early 1960s, because I love the clothes, art, architecture, and music of that time period, particularly that of the counterculture. Plus I have reeeeeeally bad vision, so I’d definitely want to go back to a time when I could at least get glasses.

If you were to cast your book, who would play the leads?cover22471-medium

For young Cat, I’d like to see Kara Hayward cast—she played Suzy in Moonrise Kingdom. For old Cat, I’d love someone like Kate Winslet, who always does a wonderful job with complex, layered characters. Finn was always the hardest for me to cast. I wrote a blog post about this very question when Mad Scientist’s Daughter first came out, and I named Danny Pudi as my choice for Finn. I still think he’d be great, but I’m also curious to hear what others who have read the book would think!

What’s your favourite TV show, and why?

This is a very difficult question for me because I love television (movies too, but in recent years TV has really been trouncing movies in terms of originality and watchablity and really general quality). There are several TV shows that I’ll always return to, like Star Trek: The Next Generation and Mad Men, but there are also several more recent shows that I’ve gotten obsessed with. I think my favorite of those would be American Horror Story: Coven. On one hand it’s full of random campy horror tropes, but on the other hand the story focuses on several fairly complex female characters and tends to deal with women’s issues. Also, Jessica Lange is a flawless queen.

What has been the best Xmas present you’ve ever received?

I grew up in South Texas, which has extremely mild winters. As a kid, I used to ask Santa for a white Christmas every year, but of course it didn’t happen, the typical late-December meteorological conditions of Texas being what they are. However, when I was in college, a freak snowstorm blew across south Texas on Christmas Eve. I was living in Houston at the time but was in my hometown of Victoria for Christmas; Victoria received eleven inches of snow overnight, one of the few places in Texas to receive that much snowfall. So when I woke up on Christmas day my neighborhood looked exactly like the end of a Christmas movie. It was perfect.

What’s the best part of Xmas for you?

I love so much about Christmas—putting up lights and decorations, shopping for and wrapping gifts, even Christmas music (I know, I know). But I think my very favorite thing is experiencing the traditions that have built up over the years. What food you eat, where you go and on what day, how the presents are opened, all of it. And it’s interesting to see how things vary from family to family. For example, in my dad’s family, gifts are opened in a frenzy of flying ribbons and paper, with people shouting thank you across the room, just on the off-chance the giver hears it. In my mom’s family, gifts are opened in a neat, orderly fashion, one person at a time while everyone snaps photos. I love the contrast.

As a kid every year my Christmases were the exact same. Now that I’m adult those childhood traditions don’t fit anymore, and every year I find myself creating new ones. It’s exciting!

Are you on Santa’s nice or naughty list this year?

Hmmn, good question.

Are there plans for another novel in the series?

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is a stand-alone novel, but I am working on a couple of new novels that are similar in style and theme.

Do you have a New Year’s Resolution in mind for 2014?

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, but I do have a set of writing goals for the year: revise and complete two YA novels and at least one adult novel.

If your characters could give your readers a Xmas message, what would it be?

Cat: Happy holidays! Hope you get all the presents you want.

Finn: May this time of year be full of happiness for you.

Where can fans find you online?

I’m on Twitter at @mitchondrial (https://twitter.com/mitochondrial), on Facebook as Cassandra Rose Clarke (https://www.facebook.com/authorcassandraroseclarke) , and of course I have a website at cassandraroseclarke.com.

Book Review: Christmas Past by Susanna Fraser

pSynopsis:

Time-traveling PhD student Sydney Dahlquist’s first mission sounded simple enough—spend two weeks in December 1810 collecting blood samples from the sick and wounded of Wellington’s army, then go home to modern-day Seattle and Christmas with her family. But when her time machine breaks, stranding her in the past, she must decide whether to sacrifice herself to protect the timeline or to build a new life—and embrace a new love—two centuries before her time.

Rifle captain Miles Griffin has been fascinated by the tall, beautiful “Mrs. Sydney” from the day he met her caring for wounded soldiers. When he stumbles upon her time travel secret on Christmas Eve, he vows to do whatever it takes to seduce her into making her home in his present—by his side.

Amazon      BN

About the Author:

Susanna Fraser wrote her first novel in fourth grade. It starred a family of talking horses who ruled a magical land. In high school she started, but never finished, a succession of tales of girls who were just like her, only with long, naturally curly and often unusually colored hair, who, perhaps because of the hair, had much greater success with boys than she ever did.

Along the way she read her hometown library’s entire collection of Regency romance, fell in love with the works of Jane Austen, and discovered in Patrick O’Brian’s and Bernard Cornwell’s novels another side of the opening decades of the 19th century. When she started to write again as an adult, she knew exactly where she wanted to set her books. Her writing has come a long way from her youthful efforts, but she still gives her heroines great hair.

Susanna grew up in rural Alabama. After high school she left home for the University of Pennsylvania and has been a city girl ever since. She worked in England for a year after college, using her days off to explore history from ancient stone circles to Jane Austen’s Bath.

Susanna lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and daughter. When not writing or reading, she goes to baseball games, sings alto in a local choir and watches cooking competition shows.

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 My Review:

I’m not sure why, but it’s lovely to get your hands (or eyes) on a book that ties into what’s going on in real life. I love reading seasonal books and there certainly isn’t any shortage of good Christmas romances that come out around this time.

Christmas Past adds in a more attractive facet to me – time travel. Although it doesn’t lean on it too much to the detriment to the romance.

The start of the book was a little shaky for me though. Most of the story is told in flashbacks which I felt robbed the reader of the very first meeting of the two main characters. However, it’s a short read, so I do understand why the author had to set up the story so quickly. Griffin is a fab hero, but it kind of let it down for me that he believed Sydney’s time travel exploits without much of a struggle – also that she told him so quickly as she was bound to keep that secret enough to kill herself.

From a writer’s perspective, it flowed nicely and I read it within one sitting, so really felt satisfied that I had had the whole story in one go – kind of like the feeling you get when you’ve had that massive Xmas dinner you’ve spent hours cooking – fortunately I had that sated feeling without the mounds of washing up! It was beautifully written and I’ve always been drawn to the concept of a modern lass getting her hands on an old fashion gent – as there really aren’t any around anymore (too cynical?)

The front cover is lovely and portrays both characters – although there’s not much in the way of hints about the time travel angle – which to me was what made it so special.

Overall I’d give Christmas Past 4 out 5 stars – A perfect read for Xmas eve while you’re waiting for the Fat Man to bring you your stockings filled with goodies!

Christmas Past Banner 450 x 169

12 Books for Xmas

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As we are fast approaching the festive period I ask you to stop, and take a second to think about giving yourself a wee gift, or 12. And what could be better than the gift of books! Ah, there is nothing quite like curling up with a great author and letting them weave you a tale of magic and mayhem that transports you ‘Narnia Style’ out of your own reality.

So, I decided to do the legwork for you and feature 12 books that you could indulge in – or, if you’re feeling overly generous, buy for a loved one.

Each book has a different publication date, some will have to be pre-ordered – which is even better! The gift that keeps on giving! Order them for Xmas and, when they’re out, they will cleverly find their way to your door or eReader. I personally love turning on my Kindle and seeing a book appear fresh off the press, even better when the postman rings your doorbell and hands you a package (hmmm, that kind of sounds rude!)

So, ho, ho, ho, here they are with handy summaries and buy links. Happy reading, and to all a good read!

cover37722-medium#1 Teardrop by Lauren Kate

Never, ever cry . . .Seventeen-year-old Eureka won’t let anyone close enough to feel her pain. After her mother was killed in a freak accident, the things she used to love hold no meaning. She wants to escape, but one thing holds her back: Ander, the boy who is everywhere she goes, whose turquoise eyes are like the ocean. And then Eureka uncovers an ancient tale of romance and heartbreak, about a girl who cried an entire continent into the sea. Suddenly her mother’s death and Ander’s appearance seem connected, and her life takes on dark undercurrents that don’t make sense. Can everything you love be washed away?

Buy Teardrop

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#2 Cracked by Eliza Crewe

Meet Meda. She eats people.Well, technically, she eats their soul. But she totally promises to only go for people who deserve it. She’s special. It’s not her fault she enjoys it. She can’t help being a bad guy. Besides, what else can she do? Her mother was killed and it’s not like there are any other “soul-eaters” around to show her how to be different. That is, until the three men in suits show up.They can do what she can do. They’re like her. Meda might finally have a chance to figure out what she is. The problem? They kind of want to kill her. Before they get the chance Meda is rescued by crusaders, members of an elite group dedicated to wiping out Meda’s kind. This is her chance! Play along with the “good guys” and she’ll finally figure out what, exactly, her ‘kind’ is.Be careful what you wish for. Playing capture the flag with her mortal enemies, babysitting a teenage boy with a hero complex, and trying to keep one step ahead of a too-clever girl are bad enough. But the Hunger is gaining on her.The more she learns, the worse it gets. And when Meda uncovers a shocking secret about her mother, her past, and her destiny… she may finally give into it.

 Buy Cracked 

cover32669-medium#3 Bound by Night by Larrisa Ione

Nicole Martin was only eight years old when she narrowly survived a massacre: her family’s vampire slaves rebelled and killed everyone in her household. Twenty years later, Nicole now dedicates herself to finding a vaccine against vampirism . . . and eradicating the gruesome memories that give her nightmares.

Riker, a member of the wild vampire Moon Clan, is haunted by his own demons – his wife Lorraine had been captured and enslaved by the Martin family. It was during a botched escape attempt that she was killed, along with their unborn child. Still wracked with grief and anger, Riker is now fuelled solely by the desire to rescue vampire slaves . . . and slaughter their owners.

When Riker stumbles upon Nicole in a chance meeting, he immediately recognizes her as a member of the Martin family that once enslaved his wife -and she recognizes him as the wild vampire she saw kissing a pregnant slave in the moments before her violent death – an image that has haunted her dreams for years.

When Riker kidnaps Nicole and they spend a night together in a cave on the way back to his clan, suddenly they begin to realize that they aren’t as different from one another as they may have thought – and they’re finding themselves drawn to one another . . .

Buy Bound by Night

#4 Trancehack by Sonya Clark cover36157-medium

It’s 2065. Those born with magic abilities live in government-run zones, without rights or freedoms. Fear of magic created this segregated world and fear keeps it intact.

A high-profile murder brings Detective Nathan Perez to Magic Born Zone 13. He’s had little experience with the Magic Born and isn’t sure what to expect during his first encounter with a witch, but he never thought he’d be so drawn to her.

Trancehacker Calla Vesper uses magic to break into computers and aid the Magic Born underground. She has no interest in helping a cop, even if he is smoking-hot, but money’s tight and Nate offers a tidy amount for help navigating the Zone. Calla’s determined to keep it all business, but sparks start flying before the investigation even gets started.

When Calla’s trancehacking and Nathan’s investigation uncover a conspiracy, Calla becomes a target. Nate can protect her by keeping her role a secret—but then who will protect Nate?

Buy Trancehack 

#5 Doll Bones by Holly Blackcover27289-medium

Twelve-year-old Zach is too old to play with toys. Or at least, that’s what his father thinks.

But even though he stops hanging out with Poppy and Alice, stops playing with his action figures, it’s no good. There’s one toy that still wants to play with him. A doll that’s made from the bones of a dead girl.

The only way to end the game is to lay the doll to rest forever. It’s time for a journey to Spring Grove cemetery. It’s time to grow up.

A chilling ghost story by the bestselling author of The Spiderwick Chronicles, Holly Black.

Buy Doll Bones

#6 Pretty Dark Nothing by Heather L Reid cover28835-medium

When demons invade her dreams and tease of her death, Quinn, and Aaron, a boy with amnesia, must find a way to banish the darkness back to the underworld for good. That is, unless the demons kill them first.

Book Summary: It’s been twenty three days since Quinn has slept for more than minutes at a time. Demons have invaded her dreams, stalking her, and teasing of her death. The lack of sleep and crippling fear are ruining her life. Energy drinks and caffeine pills don’t make a dent. When Quinn dozes off in the school hallway, Aaron, an amnesiac with a psychic ability, accidentally enters her nightmare. The demons are determined to keep them apart, and Aaron from discovering the secret locked away in his memory. Together, they could banish the darkness back to the underworld for good. That is, unless the demons kill them first.

Buy Pretty Dark Nothing

cover24855-medium#7 Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll

New York jeweller Garet James has her fair share of problems: money, an elderly father, a struggling business. One day she comes across an antiques shop she’d never noticed before. The owner possesses an old silver box that’s been sealed shut. Would she help an old man and open it, perhaps? She does…and that night strange things begin to happen. It’s as if her world – our world – has shifted slightly, revealing another, parallel place that co-exists without our knowledge: the world of the Fey…

Garet learns that one of her ancestors was ‘the Watchtower’: an immortal chosen to stand guard over the human and the fey worlds – a role that she has, it seems, inherited from her mother. But the equilibrium between these two existences is under threat. The 16th-century magician and necromancer Dr John Dee has returned, the box has been opened and the demons of Despair and Discord released. In a race against time and impending apocalypse, it is Garet who must find Dee…and close the box.

Buy Black Swan Rising:

#8 Acid by Emma Pass cover31201-medium

2113. In Jenna Strong’s world, ACID – the most brutal, controlling police force in history – rule supreme. No throwaway comment or muttered dissent goes unnoticed – or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a bloody crime she struggles to remember.

The only female inmate in a violent high-security prison, Jenna has learned to survive by any means necessary. And when a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID – and to uncover the truth about what really happened on that dark night two years ago.

By Acid

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#9 Scorched by Mari Mancusi

Sixteen-year-old Trinity Brown is used to her grandfather’s crazy stories, so she never believed the latest treasure he brought home was a real dragon’s egg. Not until their home is invaded by soldiers trying to steal it and a strange boy who tells her the world as she knows it will be wiped out in a fiery dragon war—unless they work together to stop it. Meantime, there’s a different voice whispering to Trinity, calling to her, telling her what to do…the dragon inside her egg is not ready to give up without a fight.

By Scorched

#10 Shadow Play by Laura Lam 

The sequel to Pantomime

The circus lies behind Micah Grey in dust and ashes.cover38296-medium

He and the white clown, Drystan, take refuge with the once-great magician, Jasper Maske. When Maske agrees to teach them his trade, his embittered rival challenges them to a duel which could decide all of their fates. People also hunt both Micah and the person he was before the circus–the runaway daughter of a noble family. And Micah discovers there is magic and power in the world, far beyond the card tricks and illusions he’s perfecting…

A tale of phantom wings, a clockwork hand, and the delicate unfurling of new love, Shadowplay continues Micah Grey’s extraordinary journey.

Buy Shadow Play

cover38277-medium#11 The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard

Seventeen-year-old Riven is as tough as they come. Coming from a world ravaged by a devastating android war, she has to be. There’s no room for softness, no room for emotion, no room for mistakes. A Legion General, she is the right hand of the young Prince of Neospes, a parallel universe to Earth. In Neospes, she has everything: rank, responsibility and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to find his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited back to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory.

Thrown out of her comfort zone but with the mindset of a soldier, Riven has to learn how to be a girl in a realm that is the opposite of what she knows. Riven isn’t prepared for the beauty of a world that is unlike her own in so many ways. Nor is she prepared to feel something more than indifference for the very target she seeks. Caden is nothing like Cale, but he makes something in her come alive, igniting a spark deep down that goes against every cell in her body. For the first time in her life, Riven isn’t sure about her purpose, about her calling. Torn between duty and desire, she must decide whether Caden is simply a target or whether he is something more.

Faced with hideous reanimated Vector soldiers from her own world with agendas of their own, as well as an unexpected reunion with a sister who despises her, it is a race against time to bring Caden back to Neospes. But things aren’t always as they seem, and Riven will have to search for truth. Family betrayals and royal coups are only the tip of the iceberg. Will Riven be able to find the strength to defy her very nature? Or will she become the monstrous soldier she was designed to be?

The Almost Girl is a richly imagined story of defiance, courage, and heart. It is the tale of a girl who finds her own way on her own terms, a girl who won’t let what she is define her, and a girl who will sacrifice everything she is for the ones she loves. It is a story of someone who eclipses her predestined fate to become something more … something extraordinary.

Buy The Almost Girl

#12 The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke cover22471-medium

“Cat, this is Finn. He’s going to be your tutor.”

He looks, and acts human, though he has no desire to be. He was programmed to assist his owners, and performs his duties to perfection. A billion-dollar construct, his primary task now is to tutor Cat. As she grows into a beautiful young woman, Finn is her guardian, her constant companion… and more.

But when the government grants rights to the ever-increasing robot population, however, Finn struggles to find his place in the world.

Buy The Mad Scientist’s Daughter