Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Writers Vineyard Features Julie Eberhart Painter

We are proud to show that our author Julie Eberhart Painter was featured this week on The Writers Vineyard blog. She wrote a post for them called TOUCHY SUBJECTS: Reinventing reality, and discusses how she incorporates the real world into her books without making it sound like her characters are based on real people. 

Take a look at the blog post here:

Friday, April 17, 2015

Divide and Conquer by Carmen Fox - Review from Authors to Watch

Divide and Conquer: Book Review

Divide And Conquer
(Champions of Elonia Book 1)
By Carmen Fox
Flung from her mundane Seattle existence into a world of magic, scientist Lea struggles to make sense of a destiny she doesn’t want. The moment she finds comfort in the arms of a man who appreciates her inner nerd, a new magic sweeps the realms.
Nieve, Lea’s instructor, may be seasoned in the art of war, but she’s clueless when it comes to romance. To save her world, she allies herself with her enemy, a kindred warrior soul, who leaves no doubt he’s after more than her cooperation.
As each tick of the clock swallows another person’s memory, Lea and Nieve will do anything to hang on to theirs, but betrayal drives a wedge in their friendship. Can they reconcile and rally the troops before the magic wipes out their pasts?
My Review: Lea is smart and clever, but naive in many ways. She has no idea where she really came from. She has no idea what’s in store for her, or where destiny might lead her. Battle-hardened Nieve is the royal champion of Elonia. She has dedicated her life to protecting the king, but she’s ready for a life of her own. Her final assignment is to find Lea and bring her back to Elonia. Easy, right? Not so much. It seems danger has already discovered Lea.
I loved this book! It’s a great urban fantasy story with flawless world-building and unforgettable characters. The story is told from dual first person points of view. Nieve and Lea alternate chapters, so we hear the story from two completely different perspectives and it really works well for this book. Lea is such a fun character. At the beginning of the book, we discover she’s a scientist and extremely intelligent, but she still comes across as a little naive and unworldly. She’s clever with words and can be a smart ass, but not in a snotty way. This is a girl who is completely unequipped to handle what is in store for her. Nieve is the opposite of Lea in many ways. She’s a competent fighter and confident in her position as royal champion. She’s tough, but we’re gradually introduced to her vulnerabilities and fears.
I always harp on character development in my reviews, and this story is a prime example of character development done right. Circumstances force both main characters to undergo serious changes, but these characters also exercise free will and make choices that show true character development. Yes, they are pushed and pulled by external forces, but they continue to wrestle for control of their own destinies. When everything falls apart, we see the true strengths and weaknesses of each character in this story, and it’s quite surprising.
If you’re looking for an action-packed read with multifaceted, courageous characters and a little bit of romance, this is the book for you. I highly recommend this book and can’t wait to get my hands on the next installment in the series.
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Buy the BookAmazon US  |  Amazon UK
Learn more by reading my previous interview with the author:

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Divide and Conquer by Carmen Fox - review from Red City Review

Divide and Conquer by Carmen Fox
Lea is just a normal girl trying to find her place in the world. Her job as a translator leaves much to be desired, but it’s a start. She’s just found a cute guy who seems to be interested in her. Things are looking up, until she crosses paths with a woman who will turn her life upside down. Nieve has always lived her life for her king and her country. And as the threat they have been worried about comes even closer, she knows the end must justify the means. But when it all goes wrong can she pull herself together for one last stand?
The synopsis of Divide and Conquer alone grabs your attention, and once you start reading you are not disappointed. Nieve and Lea’s fight to save their worlds (and ultimately their minds and memories) will keep you on your toes trying to put pieces together and waiting to see what happens next. Author Carmen Fox takes urban fantasy (and the fantasy genre in general) to a whole new level. The characters of Divide And Conquer are all fully developed, relatable, and-more importantly-believable. Fox lets you get to know them on a much deeper level and peek into their hearts and souls. The two main characters have been put into an impossible situation and they both react very differently- Nieve is a fighter and ready for anything, while Lea is still hoping for a way out. Throughout it all, her characters feel like people instead of just characters. The world Fox has created is rich with detail-making it easy to see everything in your head as you read, but not too much detail that it slows down the story. She writes from both Lea’s and Nieve’s points of view; adding a depth to the story and immersing you deeper into the world. Going back and forth between characters could easily get confusing or interrupt the flow of the book, but Fox does it with skill. Long story short, this is a must-read book whether you like urban fantasy or not, and if you aren’t sure about fantasy in general, it’s likely that Fox will change your mind.
To purchase a copy of the book, click here to find it on Amazon.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Excerpt from The SHIVA Syndrome

Psychological mind-bender The SHIVA Syndrome is our sci-fi release this month, don't miss it!


Walker stood upright, in a loose stance, while the intruder crouched like an attacking animal. When the knife flashed upward towards Walker’s throat, he extended one palm, which pulsed now with even more energy. The knife was immobilized in midair, the blade dissolving as it touched the energy field. Walker gripped the man’s right hand in his left.
Motionless as statues, they gazed at each other for a moment as the skin, muscle, bone, and cartilage of the assassin’s hand dissolved into a fleshy ball. The man shrieked in agony. Walker tapped his palm lightly to the man’s chest, the touch hurling him backwards, smashing furniture into kindling.
The intruder rose again and shook his head like a wounded bull, his mutilated hand hanging unusably by his side. His eyes flashed wildly. He threw a kick towards Walker, who moved aside so rapidly the man’s foot smashed a hole into the paneled concrete wall. Images of Grimes and Slezak formed in Walker’s mind and projected onto the dark figure. What had been detached action gave way to anger, then rage. The glow from his hands increased, changing from crimson to deep ruby.
Desperately, his attacker threw a knuckle punch with his intact left hand. Without even making physical contact, Walker’s glowing left palm held the fist in place, shattering every bone in it. With a furious scream, Walker ripped off the man’s hood. His hands shot towards the intruder’s head, his palms to either side. Bright eyes widened, and an expression of excruciating pain etched into the man’s face.

An intense aura formed and spread around and through Walker’s hands, enveloping both men. The attacker retched. Blisters rose from his skin, blood dripped from his nose, and pink froth bubbled from his mouth. Walker closed his eyes and breathed heavily. The man’s neck muscles went into spasm, and his pupils dilated. He gurgled wordlessly, his eyes distended as he fought vainly to break contact. Bursts of energy flashed from the man’s eyes and mouth. Smoke hissed from his eye sockets. Walker released him and he fell to the floor, convulsing. A few seconds later, he was still.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Excerpt from Backwoods Justice

Mystery and a serial killer make Backwoods Justice a book that will send chills up your spine.


When the land finally eased into a flat terrain, the light of a small fire was visible. Forty yards away, through the woods, someone sat by the crackling flame, playing a fiddle, a haunting melody that seemed immune to the eeriness of the darkness.
Dirk stepped closer, turning off his flashlight as the flame lit a path in front of him. Now forty-five feet away, he spotted the worn, rugged face of a man. Dirk raised his hand and waved, but the musician tended to his fiddle.
Standing by the fire, Dirk studied the old man’s eyes, gray and cloudy, frozen in hard stance. His nose almost touched his chin and scraggly patches of white hair were scattered about his face and neck. His violin made a sweet sound that seemed to hang above the fire, soft in the air before evaporating with the smoke.
Dirk remained on the backside of the pit, flashing a smile, but the man stared off into the night. Eyes that couldn’t see?
The man sang, “Where shall I be, when I hear that trumpet sound?” He tapped his foot and his body swayed. “Where shall I be, when it sounds so loud?”
Dirk was mesmerized by the mountain man and couldn’t imagine a more poignant figure to symbolize the way of the land.
“Oh, I’ll be sleepin’ in my grave, when that first trumpet sounds, I’ll be sleepin’ in my grave when it sounds so loud.”
The crooner stopped, tilting his head as a dog might to sniff the air. “Who stands afore me?”
Dirk slipped around the small fire and was but a few feet to the left of the man. “Hello. I hope I didn’t startle you. I’m camping down below on the trail. I heard the music and followed it up here.”
He turned his head toward the source of the voice. “The voice you speak ain’t from this mountain. I take it you’re a passin’ through.”
“I’m hiking the Iron Mountain Trail. You play the violin well.”
“The power of the Lord sparks through this bow. You should be a seekin’ God’s protection this lonely night. Iron Mountain holds only contempt for those who wander upon her.”
“I’m not wandering. Just passing through on the trail. I’ll be in Damascus by Friday.”
“Only God knows whether your plans are as you say.”
Over the man’s shoulder, through the darkness, the dancing light of the fire revealed a small lean-to. “Is this your home?”
“This mountain is my home. The shack is but a place of shelter.”
“Are you the hermit I’ve heard talk about?”
The old man let go a cackle. “Uncle Gaines has been asleep in the bowels of this mountain since nineteen and twenty-three.”
“Is that a fact? You appear like you lead the life of a hermit. Did Gaines inspire you?”
“A man’s life ain’t to be judged by whether he chooses solitary ways, or whether’n he chooses to be a family man. It’s his love for his Maker that determines his worth. On Iron Mountain, ain’t no one to be judged ’cept’n by Him. Answer to no one but the good Lord.”
“How long have you’ve lived here, if you don’t mind me asking?” Dirk was now standing beside the stranger, though the man’s gaze still faced the fire. “How long have you been alone?”
“Alone,” he repeated. “Ain’t never alone on this mountain.”
Confused, Dirk saw no signs of life around him. “What do you mean?”
“Iron Mountain is a graveyard of bones and dust. My ancestry is all around me. Cain’t be alone surrounded by souls of the past. I sing with the dead every night.”
“It’s fairly hard to carry a conversion with souls. You can speak your mind—speak your thoughts. What about the desire to know the thoughts of another? To know their thoughts of you?”

The man grabbed a mason jar on a rickety table beside his chair and took a sip of a clear liquid. “You got no way of understandin’ the ways of my world. My suggestion would be you return to where you came.”

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Excerpt From Safari Stew

Nothing like a murder mystery in South Africa to spice up Safari Stew.


I clutched Michael’s arm as if he were my life preserver in the middle of the ocean. My heart raced, making me wonder for the first time if I should have listened to my doctor and gone for the stress test.
A few months ago I had been able to race all over Keegan Bay Park like a teenager. Who needs an artificial stress test when real life handed them to me several days in a row? Now here I was, clinging to Michael, my fiancé, all the time hoping I would soon see Barclay, my husband, while at the same time thinking I might die before I make it to the administration building of the Auckland Park Kingsway Campus of the university. All my feelings of loss, anger, grief, and hope crowded, jockeying for position in my head.
“We’ll go on to the library, Doll,” Larry said, pointing left.
I nodded as he and the others continued on ahead. Michael and I stopped. The sign in front of us read Hoofingang, translating to main entrance. A part of me was tickled by the Afrikaans words. My mouth went dry.
Michael escorted me through the door and into a large reception area with a marble floor. African themed artwork as well as photographs of the university decorated the high walls. A glass-covered directory hung on the wall to the right. Plastic chairs with cushioned seats lined the walls. We approached a circular information desk at the center of the room.
“Yes, we have Professor John Carruthers here. Your business with him?” the attractive young receptionist asked.
“He’s a relative Mrs. Reynolds hasn’t seen for some years. As we’re in South Africa for only a few days, we hoped to meet with him.”
“Yes, sir. I can check his schedule, then get back to you. Where are you staying?” She held a pencil poised over a notepad.
“Today!” I blurted. “I must see him today. You have no idea how long I’ve waited for this moment.”
The girl’s eyes grew wide. “Madam. Ya. If you will have a seat, I will find someone to help you.” She scanned the room, presumably looking for help. A man in uniform approached her desk. “Would you be kind enough to keep an eye on the desk while I help these people?”
She tilted her head in our direction. The middle-aged man looked toward us grinning broadly. He reminded me of Sidney Poitier, a famous actor from the fifties and sixties. Handsome devil. No matter what character he played, I loved him, especially in Lily of the Fields.
“Doll.” Michael nudged me.
“You’re staring.”
“Am I?” I returned my attention to Michael. “Just remembering.”
“As long as you remember why you’re here.” He sounded grumpy.
“Michael, are you unhappy we came?”
“In a way, though I do want your status settled once and for all so we can be married.”
“Sounds like I’m part of a Middle Ages melodrama. What if Barclay wants to come home? What do I do then?”
“I assumed you worked all this out before we embarked on the trip.”
“Sort of. I mean, I feel like you and I talked it to death. If he’s alive and doesn’t remember who I am, I have to decide whether or not to help restore his memory, especially if he’s happy being here. He might even be married. If he is deliberately avoiding me and our life together—” I didn’t want to think about that possibility. “If it’s not him, we continue to search.”
Michael sighed as the receptionist approached with a tray bearing coffee cups.
“I contacted Professor Carruthers. He will meet with you following his morning classes.”
“How long will that be?” I couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted this entire day, this entire trip to be over. I could find out where he was teaching and go kill him right now for messing up my life so badly. Frustration gnawed at me. My hands shook when I accepted the coffee.
“He has an early day today and should be here within half an hour.”
“Good. We’ll take our coffees outside. We won’t be far, if you would please let us know when he arrives.” Michael helped me to my feet.

We stepped outside. This time I observed the immaculately landscaped and groomed grounds of the university. The buildings were all attached in a circle around a massive green dotted with cypress trees and other larger shade trees I didn’t recognize. A fountain played in a pool just ahead of us. We settled on a bench not far from the entrance to wait.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Excerpt From Bai Tide

Bai Tide is a great mystery/thriller for those who want a little action in their lives!


I put on a burst of speed and kept my eyes on the troublemaker who’d ruined what had been, up until ten minutes ago, a tedious evening of guarding teenage girls at a school-sanctioned Welcome Formal. Of course, when the girls you’re getting paid to protect are the daughters of the wealthiest and most influential people in America, you can’t afford to stop paying attention for even a minute lest you miss something. Something like an intruder dressed in black trying to break in through a window along an unused service corridor. Maybe it sounds weird, but I was actually pretty grateful to get out of there and put my training to use. If not for the man in black, my post at the school would have risked being the most boring assignment of all time. I didn’t sign up to be a case officer for the CIA so I could listen to girls whine about corsages and hair spray.
Without dress shoes slowing me down, my long legs ate up the gap between me and the troublemaker in short order. By the time I could hear his labored breathing and the staccato, panicked sounds he made as he ran, I knew I had him. All I had to do was tackle, disarm, and subdue him, and I’d be free to find out what the heck he was doing trying to sneak into a high school formal. He wasn’t at that dance to make friends, and it was my job to figure out who he’d targeted and why.
The darkest, farthest corner of the ill-lit public parking lot materialized in the darkness ahead. It was empty but for five cars scattered throughout the spaces. I didn’t have time to note their makes and models because my quarry stopped up short, clutching his side as though he had a stitch.
In retrospect, I should have realized it was a trap. If I’d known who was dealing with at the time, I would have handled it differently. Maybe I would have kept my distance. Maybe I would have run away screaming, as fast as possible. What I definitely would not have done is try to tackle him.

Which, of course, is exactly what I did.