Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Review - Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres

Title: Burn Bright - Night Creatures book 1
Author: Marianne de Pierres
Age Group: Young Adult
Release Date: March 1st 2011
Publishers: Random House Australia
Available from: Amazon (kindle edition)

Into a world of wild secrets and deadly pleasures comes a girl whose innocence may be her greatest strength. 

In Ixion music and party are our only beliefs. Darkness is our comfort. We have few rules but they are absolute . . . 

Retra doesn’t want to go to Ixion, the island of ever-night, ever-youth and never-sleep. Retra is a Seal – sealed minds, sealed community. She doesn’t crave parties and pleasure, experience and freedom. 

But her brother Joel left for Ixion two years ago, and Retra is determined to find him. Braving the intense pain of her obedience strip to escape the only home she’s ever known, Retra stows away on the barge that will take her to her brother. 

When she can’t find Joel, Retra finds herself drawn deeper into the intoxicating world of Ixion. Come to me, whispers a voice in her head. Who are the Ripers, the mysterious guardians of Ixion? What are the Night Creatures Retra can see in the shadows? And what happens to those who grow too old for Ixion? 

Retra will find that Ixion has its pleasures, but its secrets are deadly. Will friendship, and the creation of an eternal bond with a Riper, be enough to save her from the darkness? 

Listen well, baby bats. Burn bright, but do not stray from the paths. Remember, when you live in a place of darkness you also live with creatures of the dark.
Burn Bright immediately drags you in and doesn't let you go. As soon as I started to read it, I knew it would be a page turner that would have me up all night. The world in which Retra first inhabits seems dull with an underlying darkness, and when she arrives in Ixion - a world of artificial light, pleasure and non stop parties, the dark is even more terrifying. She has grown up in sealed environment where everything is a sin. She escapes her home to find her brother, who already escaped to Ixion. Retra braves the pain of an obedience strip and finds her self on the ship bound for Ixion. To say she doesn't fit in is an understatement. Retra is so far out of her depth, it's not funny. She knows she doesn't belong, but she has an inner strength she doesn't realise. This strength helps her to survive and adapt. You think you've got her character down, but she always did something to surprise me. Ixion seems like the ultimate party place, but it hides so many secrets. My imagination ran wild with Burn Bright. Marianne de Pierres has created an epic sci-fi/fantasy realm that is full of sinister and mysterious characters that you don't know who to trust. Compelling, intriguing, and utterly fantastic, if you haven't read it I highly suggest you do. One of my favourite books this year.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Review - Magical Gains by Nicola E. Sheridan

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 304 KB
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Eternal Press (a division of Damnation Books LLC (March 2, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English

  • Purchase Info:

Imran is sexy. He is available, but taking anything from him is illegal and could land you in prison or, at the very least, with an extraordinarily large tax bill. Imran is a Genie and Primrose a government employee, and in a world where magic is heavily governed to ensure equality for all, their relationship appears doomed from the start. When Primrose finds herself the unwilling mistress of a hot male Genie, her stifling suburban lifestyle is shattered. Thrust into the steamy Free Zone, filled with lascivious Satyrs and treacherous Sirens, Primrose discovers that three wishes can give her anything she needs, but can they give what she truly wants?
I stumbled over Nicola E. Sheridan's debut Magical Gain's, and hit her up for a review copy. I was happy to see she was a fellow West Australian, too. 
It was a little strange reading about parts of my own city, but man did she do it justice! The alternate universe she has created is similar yet different. Magical Gains Tax is applied to anything magical, and when Primrose becomes the unwilling owner of a genie lamp and it's sexy occupant, she is perturbed to say the least. 
Primrose is a little shy and unassuming. She has some serious self confidence issue thanks to her overbearing ex. I did find her character a little weak, but I was always rooting for her. She had this naivety about her, and she somehow keeps it through the whole story even though she grows and gets a little tougher by the end. She also seemed very real. There are a few moments in the book that had me cringing, and thinking that it was something I'd do, or thats what would have happened to me. 
Imran is way yummy, and tries so hard to help Primrose. In the beginning he is out for himself, but then he sees how her fiancĂ©e treated her, and realises that he can help her. I loved Imran from the get go. I definitely wouldn't mind finding him in a bottle. He always made such an effort to help bring Primrose out of her shell and help her realise what a beautiful person she was. Inside and out. 

Magical Gains is a different paranormal romance, a nice change from the usual. I really enjoyed the story, and thought the idea of a tax on magical creatures and the like a great idea. It make's you think how would all us normal people react the having the extraordinary 'come out', so to speak. Magical Gains get really interesting when they end up in a Free Zone, where magic isn't policed. Primrose finds herself in a spot of bother with some Satyrs. Then we meet Imran's brother and find out about their dark past. 
If you're looking for something inventive and new in the PNR genre then give Magical Gains a go. It's a fresh, funny, fantastic read with a healthy dose of sexy thrown in. I can't wait for the second book in the series, Magical Creations.
I give it 3.5/5.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I met Rebecca Lim!

On my last day in Melbourne I was lucky enough to meet Rebecca Lim, author of Mercy and Exile. She signed my books and I even got a photo with her. She was lovely and I wish I had more of a chance to talk to her, but I had to rush off to catch a plane.
(Please ignore my face, I was talking at the same time.)

Signed Mercy.

Signed Exile.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Winners from my blogoversary!

Hey everyone. Thank you to all the wonderful authors and all those who took part in my 1st Blogoversary! I am now going to announce the winners. So without further ado: 

$50 Book Depository giftcard winner is MARY!!!

Signed copy of Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione is KARLA VOLLKOPF!!!

Copy of either Deadly Heat or Deadly Lies by Cynthia Eden is LISA DUNICK!!! 

Please contact me within 48 hours via email, to claim your prizes. Thanks again to everyone who entered. 

While your here you may want to know that H.P Mallory has all her ebooks on sale for 99 cents! If you haven't read them, then now is the time to grab a copy of each. Trust me, you won't be disappointed. This is only for the next 4 days so you better hurry.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Interview with Nicola E. Sheridan

For those who haven’t heard about your book, can you tell us a bit about it?
Magical Gains” is my debut novel, and was released in March this year through Eternal Press. It’s a paranormal romance between a woman and a Genie.
Basically, it’s set in an alternate version of our world, where all Magical and Mythological Beings are real, and merely considered to be minority groups. To keep things running smoothly, the government has developed departments to help assimilate Magical Beings into everyday life. To do this they created “Magical Gains Tax” – to stop Magical Beings and humans making illegal financial advancements through magical means. This means that when my rather repressed heroine finds herself the mistress of a gorgeous Genie, she’s completely unwilling to take his wishes. Then all the fun and games start!

How did the idea for your story originate?
Well, a few years back there was a television advertisement for chocolate biscuits. In it there was a woman who appears to be the mistress of an attractive Genie – but all she wants is a packet of biscuits that never ends... I wouldn’t have wished for biscuits if he were my Genie... Anyway, it got me thinking that if the magic was real, the Government would definitely tax it – after all it tax’s just about everything else! That’s when the Magical Gains Tax was born, and subsequently Primrose and Imran’s story. You can check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkTFrwnL5eA

Have you always wanted to write?
Yes. I can remember writing elaborate stories from quite a young age. Then at high school I used to write fantasy stories for my friends to read. I absolutely thrived on their enthusiasm and the stories got wilder and more ridiculous from it. It was then I knew I eventually wanted to be a published author.

Why did you choose paranormal romance as your genre?
I loved fantasy as a kid, and as an older teen I adored Anne Rice’s vampires, but I just wanted more romance in the stories. Then I discovered Laurell K Hamilton and although I don’t read her new stuff, her early Anita Blake’s were great for romance and sexual tension. So after a writing a tweenie fantasy, and failing to complete a manuscript about an Incubus, I saw the advert mentioned above and I was inspired to write about Genies and wrote “Magical Gains”, “Magical Creations” and my current WIP “Magical Redemption”.

Does your writing schedule ever affect your family routine?
I seriously try to not let it – but at times it seriously does. Generally when I’m writing, I try do it now when no one is home or at night. On school holidays however, it poses a problem and I’m currently behind in my writing because I feel constantly guilty about not spending time with the kids and my husband! Writing can be hard mistress!

Did you do any research for you book? Was there anything interesting you discovered?
I do research for my books, particularly locations and magical/mythological beings. I always try to use locations I’ve personally been to. So generally, I’ve prowled all the places mentioned in the books, making sure the colour of the street lamps is correct etc. With regards to the mythological beings, my favourite new discovery is the Chupacabra, a “modern” mythological beast/ cryptid. I’m sure it’s fairly common knowledge in America/South America, but most people here haven’t heard of them. I love stuff like that!

What inspires you to write?
Almost anything! For the Genie series, it was initially that TV advert and my intrigue about how our world would work if magical beings were real. Where would a Manticore live? Who would employ a Harpy? Those kinds of questions amuse and inspire me. After I finish with Genies, I have an idea for another book that’s been inspired by my very weird cat.

Do you write for yourself or for readers?
I write for myself. I write about things that interest me, but living in the hope they might interest and titillate other people. If they don’t...well, at least I’ve had great fun writing it anyway!

How exciting is it to have your book published?
It is exciting, but daunting. It’s moved writing out of my private sphere into a very public one, and for a while I didn’t know how to deal with that. I have always written and entertained myself with stories. Suddenly when I got my first contract I started feeling like I had to write, instead of wanted to write. It very nearly crippled my writing all together! I was only when I resolved myself to write what I wanted, when I wanted that the words flew again. I don’t want writing to ever be a job, I want it to be what it always has been, a fun enjoyable thing that I do whenever I can make time.

Is your book part of a series or stand alone? How many books will there be if it’s a series?
Magical Gains” is one of a three part series. The second in the series is “Magical Creations” which is due for release on the 7th of October. “Magical Creations” is based on the sub-character of Omar from “Magical Gains,” so if you thought he’d been left in a rut you can find out how he gets his HEA! I am currently working on the third and final in the series is “Magical Redemption”, based on the sub-character of Lucian, from “Magical Creations”.

Do you try to reach a quota everyday? How do you meet it?
Nope. No daily quota’s here. That would make it too structured and rigid for me. Nothing scuttles my creative drive than having to write something. So, I write whenever I can find a spare moment, or if I’m particularly inspired will ask my husband to wrangle children and leave me alone whilst I pump out as many words as I can. It’s really shamelessly disorganised I know, but still it’s amazing how much you can get done!

Was there any inspiration from actors/models for your characters?
Not initially, however when I spotted the Turkish actor/model Burak Ozcivit - oh my! He is my ideal Imran for sure. Google him, it’s well worth your time!

Thanks Jo-Anne!
*sigh* Isn't he gorgeous?

You can find out more about Nicola by visiting her website.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Day 11 - Guest post by Adrian Phoenix

My First Hurts-So-Bad-It-Must-Be-Love Crush

I didn’t know love hurt. That it was a constant, yearning ache, one that would tie my heart into knots, one that would saturate every thought with him, and make me think of him with every breath I drew. He’s breathing too, right this very second. Does he think of me? Has he even noticed me? We both gotta breathe, sure, but I can pretend we’re breathing together.

Oh. My. God. Thirteen sucks. Thirteen is when you discover the meaning of bitter-sweet and gawky and heartsick. (And the rest of your family discovers the meaning of self-absorbed, brooding, and melodramatic and you can agree on one thing: thirteen sucks.)

I would babble about this boy at meals, every word spilling from my lips was all about him, My mother dismissed me as boy-crazy, and while crazy was accurate since that was how I felt, I was only crazy for one boy.

I was in eighth grade in junior high school and his name was John. He had dark hair and dark eyes and seemed so mysterious. He was quiet and usually traveled around the school with an entourage of two male friends. He wasn’t one of the popular boys or a jock or even an outcast. He was a regular boy and I thought he was the cutest boy in the universe. I would’ve delivered up my heart on a platter (still quivering) if he would’ve even looked my way.

We often took the same short cut home across the field after school, and I would trail behind him and his friends. I would study every toss of his head, feel weak at the sound of his laughter. I think all I really wanted from him was to just look at him, to be near, to be able to laugh with him and maybe, just maybe, hold hands. I don’t think I even thought about a kiss, just his company and holding hands.

One day, he dropped a glove as he walked home and, heart pounding, delirious, I picked it up. I took it home, thinking I would give it to him in class the next day. I could only hope I wouldn’t faint while doing so.

I never found the courage to give him the glove. I think a part of me never intended to. I kept it under my pillow. A keepsake. A promise. A way to be close to him. I often wished I could walk up to him, smile, and say, “Hey, John” and make him look at me with the same yearning I felt twisting like ivy around my heart whenever I walked past him without a word or a glance, my cheeks blazing as if he could read my thoughts. (Hopefully not about the glove hidden beneath my pillow!)

I pined over John for a long time. Wrote maudlin poetry and moped. A lot. I think I’m fortunate no one in my family smothered me in my sleep (with the glove). LOL. During the year of my crush, John said hello to me once and smiled. I blushed so hard that I’m surprised I didn’t burst into flame. I stammered something, probably, “Uh.” But the unrequited love affair of the century began to wane when John was asked to read aloud in class. As he struggled with each word in the book, I realized he didn’t read much. Well, okay, we could around that. But when he pronounced Chicago as chick-a-go, I knew we were doomed.

I never had a crush as intense and painful and (one-sidedly) romantic as that one. I don’t think I would’ve survived another. My family would’ve made sure. LOL.

And speaking of firsts:

You can read a chapter from the first book in The Maker’s Song series. Here’s a link to a sample chapter of A Rush of Wings.

And the first book in my Hoodoo series. Here’s a link for the first chapter of Black Dust Mambo.

Thanks so much for having me! It’s been a blast. You can also find me at:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day 10 - Guest post by Tracey O'Hara

Since this is Strange Candy’s first anniversary I was asked to talk about one of my big firsts. Now I could think of many first things. My “first” time, which was totally forgettable. My first love who I married, who also fathered of my first child (and my second). Or I could talk about my first book, or my first cover, of my first release.

Instead I decided to talk about another “first” I embarked on this year with my husband, we bought our first house.

Now I never knew how time consuming and stressful it is, but it’s also a bit like getting a book published in a way. First there is the idea, then the research, the plotting, the planning, the making it happen and finally the payoff when you have finished and move into the new house.

For years my family has been living in a rented house unsuitable for our needs and our size. I commandeered one of the bedrooms for my office so my adult sons had to share a room which also acted as their games room. I didn’t realise how cramped we had been living until we move into a place where everyone gets a room and there is room left over to set up my office and the boys games room.

So my big first this year is my first house.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Day 9 - Guest post by Erica Hayes

My first manuscript

No, not the first one I got published. The first I ever wrote. Back in the dim, dark nineties when no one had ever heard of paranormal romance or urban fantasy.

I read a lot of big fat fantasy, so that's what I tried to write. It was this rambling tale of a nun, who was also a doctor, who discovers that the gods she's worshipped all her life are actually a gang of demons intent on taking over the world. I was pretty clueless about worldbuilding at the time. I liked the idea of a four-month-long, dark winter, so I put it in the deep latitudes of the south. And I thought it'd be cool if, instead of swords and bows, they had flintlock pistols. So I shunted it out of the Middle Ages into a kind of quasi-Civil-War era. And the romantic hero was a rabid villain who did horrible things to innocent people for fun, until the heroine showed him the error of his ways by driving him insane (literally).

Yeah, it was terrible :) But I had a lot of fun. I revised it about a hundred times. Even submitted it a few places, to editors who sighed at how awful it was and patiently sent me form rejections.

But hey, you've got to start somewhere! And when I look at that manuscript now, the themes that pop out are surprising. Stuff that at the time, I didn't even really know I was writing about.

'Good' and 'evil' as fluid concepts that warp in the eye of the beholder. People who are one thing on the outside and quite another on the inside. Dual personalities, demonic possession, voices in your head, the war against the darkness within you.

Then again, maybe those themes aren't so surprising. I look at my published books, and I see the same things. I write charming demons, evil angels, 'good' as the lesser of two evils. And every single one of my books has characters with twin personalities or voices in their heads. For instance, Joey in POISON KISSED is a shape-shifter with a dark and hungry creature inside him, and Mina is possessed by her magical voice. And Ember, the heroine of my upcoming book BLOOD CURSED, is haunted by the apparition of the stronger, tougher, no-nonsense self she wishes she could be.

Seems I have some deep-seated need to write about insane people! But the idea that writers have a 'core story' – one they tell over and over again, in different forms – is well-known. Mine is 'the darkness within', and I embrace it. It pops up everywhere, whether I mean it to or not. And it started before I knew anything about writing or publishing, way back in that very first manuscript.

Remember: comment and email or you don't get entered. $50 gift card from Book Depository!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Day 8 - Interview with Noah Mullette-Gillman

Welcome to Strange Candy Reviews Noah, thank you for stopping by.

Can you give us a little information about your book/s?

I have three titles available. First, I have a novella called The White Hairs. It’s an unusual story about a white furry creature named Farshoul. The story begins with him participating in a ritual with his people. He is learning how to leave his body and travel in the wind and the snow. When he returns to his physical self, despite what he has experienced, he is told that he failed. He never left his body at all. Farshoul is left with no choice. He has to discover the truth of his experiences on his own, without any help from his society. It’s a gently moving philosophical story.
I then published a short story called The Song of Ballad and Crescendo. It’s available for free on Smashwords (99 cents everywhere else.) This is a love story and a fable. It takes place in a mythical forgotten time when the sky used to be covered with stone and everyone had to whisper so that massive rocks wouldn’t fall and crush them. The story is illustrated with a series of my photographs.
Luminous and Ominous is my first full-length published work. It’s an end of the world horror and science fiction story. Henry Willingham gets three days warning that an alien vegetation has invaded the world. He has to decide which friends he saves and what supplies he gathers. There isn’t enough time. Some terrible decisions get made. Then, after a year or so underground, Henry and two other survivors walk through the transformed ruins of upstate New York, past alien trees and alien animals trying to survive.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Early on, I think I saw all arts as one. When I was a child, there was no real difference between drawing a picture or telling a joke or writing a poem. By the time I got to high school I wanted to write and draw comic books. But I reached a point when I discovered that my real talent, and my real passion was for writing.
I started with comicbook plots, then poetry, then I sang in some bands in Boston and wrote all of my own lyrics. Then eventually I started writing short stories, then movie scripts, and then finally novels. I see my work as having really evolved from fully-gilled fish to woolly land walker. My hope is that the next stage will be when my work starts to glow in the dark.

How long does it usually take you to write a book?

I’m not yet at the point when I have written enough books to know what normal is. I wrote my first novel in a month. My second took two years. I then started and abandoned a few. Luminous and Ominous took me a few months. Since I published that, in late November, I have been hard at work on two novels and a novella. When I’m “in the groove” I think 3,000 words is a decent day.

What was the hardest thing you've had to research?

Without competition, that was my senior project in college. I went to Bard College, in upstate New York. I graduated with a multidisciplinary degree in Philosophy and Creative Writing. My senior project was on the expression of experiences.
That said, I do a considerable amount of research for my writing. I am working on a science fiction novel about magicians now. To prepare for this I have read about the Hermetic magicians, the alchemists, Emperor Rudolph II of Prague, John Dee and Edward Kelly’s communications with angels, etc, etc. I’ve read several books on the history of stage magic. I don’t approach a book about magic as a Dungeons and Dragons-esque opportunity to just make up a story off of the top of my head. I take it seriously.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

Far more chaotic than I wish it were. Life isn’t simple. I do also teach. I have a lot of other responsibilities. Also, the fact that I do do so much reading and research for my books means that a large portion of the time that I spend on my stories doesn’t immediately result in any pages at all. But, all of that being the case, I am still hoping to publish four books in 2011.

Do you think you have an interesting writing quirk?

Quirk?” I don’t think of my work as quirky. I hope that there’s a lot about the way I approach my work which is interesting, at least. One thing that readers might want to know is that I do give a lot of thought to the symbolic meaning of the events in my stories. The symbolism is never the point. The plot must always be paramount, but if you see a snake in my story, I will have considered what snakes represent on the psychological level and how this symbol relates to the others in the story.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

I put a lot of intentional work into inspiring myself. I carefully select the books I read, movies I watch, music I listen to. The walks in the woods, the drives across the country, the hours spent walking through the streets, the time I spend abroad… It’s all intended to generate ideas.
There is a myth that authors and creative people are simply gifted their ideas like Christmas presents which require no work or effort. There is nothing harder than keeping the fire burning.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

That I could have a single coherent thought which went on for hundreds of pages.

What do you think makes a good story?

Ha! Is that all you want to know? I’ll tell you what I aspire to. I like to be imaginatively competitive. However original my ideas have been in the past, I always want to surpass them. Whenever I read a book or watch a movie and the ideas amaze me, I see that as a challenge to be more original than they are. I never steal anyone else’s ideas because my stated goal is always to try to outdo them. I wouldn’t be satisfied with any work wherein I wasn’t at least trying to accomplish this.
But of course, writing is even harder than that. We need to make people care. We need to move them. We need to be of psychological use. We ought to be honest. AND we have to catch all the typos…. I’m telling you, writing is hard!

Why did you choose to take the self published route?

I did seriously consider submitting Luminous and Ominous to agents and publishers. Here’s why I didn’t. If I were to submit the book, I could expect to wait 6-9 months for a reply. IF I were lucky enough to find someone right off the bat who was interested in my book, I could then expect to wait another year or more to see it actually published.
Instead, I published the book with very little delay. It’s done. It’s in the world. More than 500 people have read the book in a little over four months. I have moved on and am working on a sequel and other works. I’m getting a modest check every month. I continue to own all of the rights to my work and I enjoy 100% creative control. I have begun to build an audience, and I have earned a 4/5 star average of reviews on Amazon.com with 26 reviewers. I’m off to a good start!

Do you have any advice for others who are thinking of self publishing?

Edit. Take the time and catch all the typos. Also, spend some time thinking about if the book is the best it can be.
Then do it.

Name five things you can't live without.

  1. Input: Movies, music, books, ideas, conversation. Deep thought.
  2. Output. I need to write and create.
  3. Friends and animals.
  4. Rain.
  5. Cheese.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Day 7 - Guest Post by Marianne de Pierres

My First Story Proofs

If I had to pick one of the highlights from my life, one would be the day I got my first set of proofs. These were for a children’s chapter book I published years ago, called Dylan’s Magic Cards. And funnily enough it wasn’t seeing my story typeset that was the exciting thing, it was the internal illustrations and cover rough that made it so memorable. For me, nothing beats seeing how a story you’ve written is interpreted by an artist (whether it be an animator, videographer, film maker, painter or whoever). The sight of those pictures in Dylan’s Magic Cards was worth a million dollars to me – and more. Someone had breathed another kind of life into my words.

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