Tag Archive: Siren Bookstrand

Nov 20

Book Review – Windswept by Diana MacArthur

 

This time around we’re doing something just a little different…

Here I’m reviewing Windswept by Diana MacArthur, and the difference is that Windswept was just released on November 14, 2012 and Diana will be here to Guest Blog on November 22, 2012. Yes, on Thanksgiving Day!

Before we get into the review, I think I should mention a short caveat…Diana and I both write for Siren/BookStrand. Yes, I’m not above being a little biased in favor of Siren, but that’s with good reason: Siren is a top-shelf publisher, and they release quality books. By “Quality”, I mean that unlike so many of the e-publishers out there, Siren puts the same work and effort into their books as do the big names in the print world. Trust me…the edits alone are vicious! With all of that said, I have tried to keep my positive bias for Siren/BookStrand under control, but I make no promises.

Now, let’s talk about Windswept

 

 
First Impression – 5 Stars

Windswept is a short book checking in at just under 25,000 words. Let me just say for now that this is MUCH shorter than I would have liked. My first reading took only about twenty minutes, and I would have LOVED to stay in the world Diana created for a lot longer.

Anyway…

The first thing that grabbed me was the cover. Siren/BookStrand has a slew of great cover artists, and Ms. Kirchoff did a great job on Windswept.

After that, there is the overall professional appearance of the book in the reader. Nice layout and easy to read. More on this later.

The final thing is that we find out on the very first page that Cadence has got 99 problems, and not all of them have anything to do with music.

I knew at once that I was going to love this story.

Story and Plot – 5 Stars

Let me remind you that I’m deaf. As in “Deaf As A Post” deaf. I do love music, but that comes in a way that most hearing people can’t even begin to understand. I can’t, obviously, hear music like you do, but I can feel it. I can pick up the vibrations and follow the music well enough to sing along and dance.

The bottom line is that many of the things in Windswept about music are completely outside of my experience, and to a point are totally lost on me. But even though I don’t understand those things—and I have no way of ever understanding them—the little musical tidbits weren’t a distraction for me. In other words, the story is strong even without that aspect.

And that, my friends, is the sign of a well written story…when you take out a good deal of the back-story, can the book still stand? Well, rest assured, Windswept passes that test.

I’m a character freak. I like detailed, well-developed characters. Without strong characters, a story just simply falls flat on its face. Let me tell you about the three main characters in Windswept

I mentioned Cadence briefly above, and she is, of course, our heroine. Pretty, bright, and a technically accomplished musician, Cadence Bennett looks like she’s on her way to stardom. Wrong…Cadence has so focused on the mechanics of music that she has completely lost sight of the emotion of music. Along with that, she has built a wall around her own emotions and has become cold and distant. I was reminded of an old episode of the M*A*S*H TV show when Charles told a young soldier who was a concert pianist but had now lost function in one of his hands that, “…I can play the notes, but I cannot play the music. You capture the heart and soul of the music in the notes you play.” Cadence knows this, but she doesn’t know how to fix it. She needs help.

Chris Clements…other than “damn it”, what else could I add? I could tell you about how wonderfully delicious he looks, or how his passion flows through his music and spills over into his work-a-day life and words, but I could never come close to telling you how strong and intelligent Chris is. Let me just add that Chris has an entire menagerie of great things about him…some are even above his waist!

Ryan Matias is at least as amazing as Chris, but there are subtle differences, and those differences make the two men compliment each other. Given a choice between them, I’d take both.

Just like Cadence.

Continuity – 4.5 Stars

Windswept flowed very well, and the internal consistency was great. There were no loose ends left hanging that distracted me from the story, and in general Diana did a wonderful job with the tale.

The only issue I had with this area goes back to the cover…while Ms. Kirchoff created a great cover, I felt that the piano on the cover was a bit out of place. The group that Cadence, Chris, and Ryan form is wind instrument group, and I would have liked something more directly related than the piano.

Editing and Mechanics – 5 Stars

One of the things that Siren/BookStrand does best is the editing process, and Windswept is no exception. In my half a dozen or so reads of the story, I found no errors that are even worth mentioning. They did not detract from the book at all.

Overall Rating – 4.9 Stars

If you have read any of the above, you know by now that I loved Windswept. In case you missed that fact, take a look at my overall rating. I’m the first to admit that I’m tough on reviews…maybe too tough. An author—and the story itself—has to work very hard to get an overall rating of 4 Stars from me.

I gave Windswept 4.9 Stars, and that is an honest number.

Unlike some books I have reviewed over the years where I felt that the number was too high or too low due to the simple math of the equation, Windswept earned this number, and I feel good about it.

My only complaint is the one I mentioned at the start of this review…I would like to have seen the story longer so I could spend more time with Cadence, Chris, and Ryan. The world Diana created is a wonderful place to enjoy an escape from life, and the trio provides a veritable explosion of passion, desire, love, and carnal excitement.

I highly recommend that you drop by Siren/BookStrand today and pick up a copy of this wonderful first book from Diana MacArthur. You won’t be disappointed.

Keep Loving!

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2012/11/20/book-review-windswept-by-diana-macarthur/

Nov 15

Things that go Bump in the night

Hello everyone.

I’d like to start by saying (or is that typing?) thank you to Melodee and all for letting me guest blog here today!

With Halloween just behind us, I thought I’d talk a little about my fascination with the paranormal world and why it’s such a big part of my writing.

My mother always swore I was a bit of a fae child and that title still suits me today. If it has to do with ghosts, goblins or things that go bump in the night, then I love to read about it. I’m a fan of shows like the Walking Dead and Supernatural. This means that I can often be found curled up on my couch, eyes shut tight, heart racing and wondering for the thousandth time why I watch programs that make me jump out of my skin while scaring my cat when I yelp in startled terror. There are some nights I go to bed and have to make sure all hands and feet are tucked safely into the covers, far out of range of anyone or anything that might be lurking underneath my bed. There’s nothing like having a writer’s imagination and a love of all things paranormal to make for some very interesting nightmares.

My fascination with all things dark and scary led to reading a lot about the origins of the stories we love to tell and retell in books, television and around just about any campfire. The “real” stories our ancestors knew, where vampires don’t sparkle, werewolves had no tails and Will-o’-the-wisps regularly lure unwary travelers to their death. When I write, I like to include elements of those dark and dangerous creatures in the story. They’re the perfect villain for heroes we all can fall in love with. Strong, noble and courageous enough to fight for the women they love.

I write the same type of stories that I love to read. My first book, Whispers in the Dark is a vampire tale of sex, blood and evil. And in December Saved by Sin, my first book in a new series will be released, where I’ll be telling the stories of a group of retired military men and women whose clients are those who need help fighting off the supernatural creatures that hunt or haunt them.

Here’s an introduction to Whispers in the Dark:

 

Cover for Whispers in the Dark

 Blurb:

Kyra Robinson is in trouble. She may not believe in monsters, but that won’t help her when an ancient vampire tries to claim her as his eternal consort.

Gareth Harkness is a vampire hunter with supernatural abilities; he spends his nights fighting the living dead and his days dreaming of an unknown woman who has haunted his dreams for years.  When a string of violent murders brings him to Vancouver, Gareth’s learns his past and the future he dreams of are on a collision course. The vampire who once nearly destroyed his family has found a potential blood mate, and it’s the woman from Gareth’s dreams.

Two men, the hunter and the killer, both of them locked into a war only one of them can win.  In the end Kyra will have to choose, but before she can give her heart away she’ll have to survive the darkness that threatens to take her life, her soul and her sanity.

 

Excerpt:

She was there again. He could sense her in the impossible darkness that always shrouded this particular dream. Her voice called to him, guiding him to her in a world without light. Something touched his hand, a caress of velvet and a whisper of silk that heated his blood immediately. Her cinnamon scent tingled at his nose and her voice faded away with a light trill of laughter. He heard a footfall, reached for her, his hand brushing against soft flesh, warm and smooth. He held on, tugged her closer, cool silk and warm skin filled his hands as he lifted her to his chest and claimed a kiss from her unseen lips. Mouths open, bodies melting together in the heat of their need, a moment of surrender and then she was gone. He was alone again, arms empty, and the darkness was colder without her warmth.

“Soon.” Her voice whispered to him from somewhere in the darkness. “You’ll find me soon, Gareth.”

Gareth Harkness woke up as he always did from that dream, disoriented and alone. She only ever came to him when he was alone. He scrubbed a hand over his unshaven jaw and stared out the window into neon-splattered night. She’d never spoken before. Or if she had he didn’t remember it. The details always faded away too fast to hold onto, leaving him with fragments and sensations, nothing he could hold onto. In all the years he’d dreamed of her, he’d never remembered more than a few vague impressions. This time it had been different.

He rolled out of bed and went to stand by the window, his hands clenched to his sides as he stared into the night. Somewhere out there, she was waiting for him. If only he knew who the hell she was.

 ****

 Kyra dreamed she’d been dancing in the club after hours, just her and the music, alone in the dark. She’d heard someone speak her name in a low male voice that spoke so softly she wasn’t even startled to realize she was no longer alone. She’d called back to him, wandering in the darkness until she’d heard him step up behind her. A man’s hand had grasped hers, pulling her gently, and then strong arms had wrapped around her as he drew her against a powerful chest. It was so dark she couldn’t see him at all, but there had been warm skin under her hands and her fingers had traced his face, sifted through his close-cropped hair. The kiss had come suddenly, his lips slanting over hers, insistent and demanding. She’d leaned into that kiss and opened her mouth to his, reveling in it as their tongues danced, and they had shared the very air they breathed. Lips sealed and tongues twined but somehow she had heard an impossible whisper. His voice, making a promise. “Soon.” Then his kiss consumed them both and she was falling—.

Kyra came back to herself with a start and forced her mind out of the daydream she’d been enjoying. Erotic fantasies weren’t her usual vice, but damned if her imagination hadn’t been running away with her this time. She touched her cheek with the back of one hand and laughed when she realized she was flushed. Kyra gave herself a mental shake and sat up straighter in her chair. There was no time for lovers in her life, real or imagined.

It was a Friday night and a full moon, a combination that invariably led to misunderstood flirtations and drunken altercations. Her China blue eyes flicked from monitor to monitor, scanning the wall of images that flickered over one wall of her office as she played the same game she played every night, trying to pick out the subtle signs that something was about to go awry in her night club and then fix it before things actually went sideways. It was a game she’d gotten very good at, which was why Silken was now one of the hottest clubs in the city. She went back to work, cradling her favorite mug in her hands as she sipped at her third Americano of the night, feeling the caffeine jazz and jitter its way to her brain.

Security cameras panned over customers and employees, recording everything. In a place as big as Silken, Kyra had learned it was easier to stay put and watch for trouble than to try and be everywhere at once. She sipped on her coffee and watched it all play out before her. It didn’t take long before she noticed a problem.

She left the soundproofed sanctuary of her office and headed out onto the dimly lit floor of the club, the light and noise and sheer energy of the dancers washing over her in a sensory invasion that she had never managed to quite get used to. She ducked and wove through the crowd, making her way unerringly to her target despite being too short to see over the gyrating bodies of her clientele. Just a hair over five feet tall, Kyra had long since learned to adapt to a world not quite built to her scale. She popped up by the shooter bar and ducked under the counter, earning a welcoming grin from the solitary bartender working at frantic speed to keep up with demand.

“Where’s Jasmine?”

“No clue! She left to grab a new tray of glasses and never came back!” Ash shouted back as he managed to fill two more orders.

Kyra just nodded and pulled out her radio. A few quick words later, she clipped it back to her belt and touched Ash’s shoulder. “Nick’s on his way over to give you a hand. You need anything else, call me.”

“Thanks, Boss,” Ash grinned and went back to work.

She headed for the back of the club, concern and irritation warring for space in her mind. Jasmine was a recent addition to her staff, but she’d seemed to be working out well. What the hell happened to make her just walk out mid-shift?

 * * * *

Whispers in the Dark is for sale at Siren-Bookstrand

And if you’re curious about my new series “Paladin Protection Agency” you can go take a sneak peek at Saved by Sin and On Jason’s Watch  Right here.

 Thanks for reading!

Susan Hayes

Links:

My Website

My Blog

And you can find me around the web: Twitter, Facebook, Siren Author Page

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2012/11/15/things-that-go-bump-in-the-night/

Aug 29

You make my speakers go BOOM BOOM…

I don’t know about everyone else, but I absolutely love music. It can make you smile, laugh and sometimes even cry. Some writers use it to help inspire their muse. Artists have even been known to use it while they create their masterpieces. Whether it be on canvas, in sculpture or a mural, there are just so many ways to show the world our creative side.

My personal music tastes vary so greatly that I don’t think I can choose a ‘favorite’ type of music. When I was young my very first concert was Rick Springfield. Yes, that Rick Springfield. LOL. Hey it was a long time ago, what can I say? Then as I got a little older I was a HUGE Motley Crue fan. With that came all sorts of hair bands, Poison, Def Leppard and Kiss. Although I don’t really think you can call Kiss a hair band. Then I started growing up. I know what you’re thinking, Grow Up? My goodness why?? I know, I know.. it happens though, and with maturity and leaving the ranks of high school came my love of country music. As I’ve gotten older – which is only 29 by the way, regardless of what my drivers license says *wink* – I’ve broadened my musical preferences that much wider. Just when I think I would never listen to a certain type of music someone releases something that changes my mind.

My tastes are eclectic and I wouldn’t change that for anything. Music can inspire the mind, awaken the body and touch the soul. For those of you who know who Luke Bryan is, you understand where I got the title of today’s blog. His song, “Drunk On You” coins that phrase in the title and I think it can be applied in many different ways.

So, open your ears and your heart to the wonderful inspiration music can provide us. Oh and did I mention that I’m giving away an eBook today? Leave me a comment below telling me what one of your favorite songs this summer is and what you love about it. I’ll draw one random winner on the morning of 8/31/12 and that lucky commentator will win an eBook copy of my June release When Promise Meets Passion.

Also, I invite you all to take a peak at my new website and blog. They’ve been updated and are all sparkly and shiny. And if you’re on facebook, I love to be “LIKED” so please visit my FAN PAGE. You can see all my Siren Bookstrand titles HERE and all my Silver Publishing titles HERE.

Thanks everyone for stopping by! I hope you have found something that makes your speakers go BOOM BOOM.. 🙂

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2012/08/29/you-make-my-speakers-go-boom-boom/

Aug 16

Oh my goodness…

I am a frequent guest at Melodee’s blog and being that she is one of my Siren Publishing sisters, I always enjoy visiting or chatting with her. In my previous posts I’ve discussed everything from chaotic daily life, to finding happily ever after and you would think that somewhere along the lines I found a way to better manage my time and be an efficiency wizard. Oh, but you would be wrong if you thought that. LOL.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I have at least 3 internet windows open at once, if not more. Between email, facebook, twitter and writing, there are countless things going through my mind at all times. I shutter to think what a psychologist would think about the goings on inside my head. One minute I’m posting a quote on social networking sites, the next I’m returning an email and the whole time I’m thinking about my work in progress and where the story is going to go next. That doesn’t even count the real world. Oh yes, I know many of us may not believe it’s true, but the real world truly does exist. There are three dimensional people and everything! LOL

If it sounds chaotic, maybe even a little bit crazy, then you’re right. It is, but in a way I think many authors are exactly the same way. A million thoughts are running through our minds all at once. Maybe we’re all “crazy like a fox” or “evil geniuses”, I don’t know. I am sure there is an upside to being pulled in 20 different directions all at once. The only thing I can truly come up with is that my life is never boring! I get up and the chaos ensues. Then after a whirlwind day I lie down, close my eyes, telling myself without a doubt that tomorrow I will be the most organized and efficient woman. So much so that I will put Martha Stewart and the Stepford Wives to shame, but alas that doesn’t happen. Murphy’s Law rears its ugly head and before I know it it’s 11:30 and my breakfast is sitting on it’s plate – untouched and cold – just as it was when I put it beside the computer 3 hours ago.
I’m posting this guest blog late, can anyone guess why? If there is any confusion why, please re-read the first paragraphs of this post. LOL. Let’s face it – because I am coming to terms with it – I will never be super organized. I will never be Super Woman and I will never get every task I set out to accomplish done every day. My fiance may have gotten me a cape (do with that what you will…Haha) so I feel like I can accomplish anything, but each day I set out to push myself and give myself more task that even the most organized could get accomplished. It’s not that I can’t get things done, not that I don’t want to. It’s simply that I love what I do so much that I will keep piling tasks on top of my plate even knowing that it will take me awhile to get it done. So, I push myself, I try  harder, strive for perfection, and in the end hope that I eventually get the job done and do a bang up job! Oh, and I also hope to eat my breakfast too. LOL

PLEASE leave me a comment below letting me know I’m not alone. Surely there are others out there who have chaotic lives, right? Guys? Anyone?

And please take a look at my upcoming release, Intimate Seductions which is releasing August 23rd! It’s going to be a HOT one down in Texas!!!

 

Intimate Seductions (MF)

    INTIMATE SEDUCTIONS (MF) [Intimate Temptations 3]
by
Nicole Morgan [Siren Allure: Erotic Cowboy Romance, older hero, HEA] Warren has already broken Amber’s heart once, but tragedy strikes and thrusts the two back together again. Will he give in to his desires? Or will he let go even though he’s never known a seduction as intimate and sweet as hers?

This title is offered at a 10% discount. Offer ends midnight CST, August 30th.

READ MORE

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2012/08/16/oh-my-goodness/

Jun 28

What happens when Chaos mixes with Creativity?

In today’s world how do any of us get anything done? Sometimes it seems no matter how hard we plot and plan out our days we invariably end up running into a few roadblocks along the way. Things from leaving the house a few minutes late, getting stuck behind a train or in traffic, or finding out the one thing you went to the store for was also the one thing that you forgot. How we handle that moment of frustration when we want to pull our hair out is what truly matters.

As I write this it is nearly 6 o’clock on Wednesday night. My day was supposed to entail just three hours of running around. Between getting the kids to their events, grocery shopping, filling up the gas tank and a million and one other errands that three hours quickly turned into five. Then it was time to put the groceries away, start some laundry and bring in the trash cans. After all that was done, I finally was able to sit down and check emails and start getting some work done. I had originally planned to start writing three hours ago, but soon it will be time to make dinner. So, I ask you all what does one do when chaos interferes with our creativity?

I’m sure we’ve all had those days. It’s not just exclusive to Authors. Regardless of what one has on their agenda fate will always jump in to throw a few curve balls our way to keep us on our toes. Years ago you would have found me either screaming, crying or even a little bit of both. Like a fine wine, I have aged well and gained wisdom from those tantrums. The fact of the matter is at the end of the day what we don’t get done pales in comparison to what we do. We’re alive, we’re free, we have the sun and the stars and the knowledge that tomorrow will be a new day.

Life gives us obstacles because it keeps us fresh and thinking at all times. How do you handle those overwhelming times when you can’t get enough done? Do you throw your hands up in the air and give up?  Or do you grin and bear it, promising to try harder tomorrow? I hope it’s the latter. What you don’t accomplish today, I’m sure you will conquer tomorrow!

 

 

Look for Nicole around the web at these places:

PUBLISHER’S PAGE:

WEBSITE:

BLOG: http://nicolemorganauthor.blogspot.com

FACEBOOK: http://facebook.com/NicoleMorganAuthor

FACEBOOK FAN PAGE: http://facebook.com/NicoleMorganFanPage

TWITTER: http://twitter.com/mornic1

_____________________________________________________

Nicole’s latest release When Promise Meets Passion is climbing the publisher’s best seller’s list.

READ MORE HERE: http://www.bookstrand.com/when-promise-meets-passion

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2012/06/28/what-happens-when-chaos-mixes-with-creativity/