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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Savvy Saturday: What is Fantasy?

This week on Savvy Saturday, we put out a call to all of our Fantasy authors on what they think of the ever-popular Fantasy genre. They were asked to respond to the question: What does Fantasy mean to you? We will get to see their opinions, and we would love to see yours. Comment below with what Fantasy means for you.

"What if" without the science. *slinks away*
     -KM Tolan, the Sci-Fi author who snuck in

What KM said.
     -Celia Breslin, Urban Fantasy author
Dragons and pixies.
     -Carol McPhee, Romance novelist

"Boundless creativity."
     -Jenna Greene, YA Fantasy author

I personally think of fantasy as anything with magic.
     -Colleen Myers, another (awesome of course) Sci-Fi author

Fantasy is an escape. When I read fantasy or when I write fantasy I immerse myself in the author’s imagination or in my own and forget all my problems. In fantasy, I can reinvent myself as a hero or a sorceress or a dragon. I can have magic. I can befriend an elf. Like dreams, fantasy allows me to be what I’m not, where I’m not, without complying with the rules of physics or biology or human politics, or my own dull personality. When I dive into fantasy, I don’t have to think about my health or age or finances. I can take outrageous risks, have extravagant adventures, and achieve marvelous victories. Moreover, I can say what I would never dare to say in real life. In fantasy I’m free.
     -Olga Godim, Fantasy author

Fantasy is the literary kaleidoscope which allows a new vision of our reality.

Often that vision is one in which the magical or supernatural is a key element of the created world’s primary existence. This is not the world as we know it (or believe it to be).

It may be an existence populated with brave knights, feisty damsels, and fiery dragons; with wizards, dwarves, and trolls; and perhaps with megalomaniacal supernatural entities bent on world domination [cue maniacal laughter]. Or it may be a world in which things that go bump in the night stalk the streets, or unicorns roam verdant forests.

Conversely it may be a world in which reality is altered only slightly, so that our perception of our own plane of existence grants us a vision of the mystery and magic behind and beyond our general conception of reality. Magical realism allows an extension of our sense of the world so that we perceive the ‘man behind the curtain’—that is, the workings of magic that are an integral part of the myth and mystery of the world we inhabit.

There are more subgenres of fantasy than a dragon has scales. But all of them are born of that desire to alter and expand our perceptions of reality, to show us the magic that inhabits either our world or a world that never was, but should be.
     -Keith Willis, Fantasy author and dragon enthusiast

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Savvy Saturday: Brantwijn Serrah Discusses her Inspiration for Lesbian Erotica

Welcome back folks! Today on Savvy Saturday we have the privilege of hearing erotica romance writer Brantwijn Serrah's inspiration for her lesbian romances. She is going to talk about how different the genre is from public perception, and how she took this not oft-used subject and wrote some amazing novels. Without any further introduction: here's Brantwijn!

***

What do you think when you hear the words lesbian erotica? For too many, it seems the answer is, "Not for me."

There is an unfortunate prevailing idea out there that lesbian erotica is only for lesbians, or for men looking for a literary version of girl-on-girl videos. I've heard so many opinions boiling down to "Lesbian erotica just doesn't do anything for me."

This honestly breaks my heart a bit. Not because I'm an author of lesbian fiction...I write characters of all sorts of orientation and sexual personality, so if my lesbian stories don't catch the reader's eye, perhaps one of my other romances will. What saddens me about this idea, that lesbian fiction is only for lesbians, is that so many readers miss out on truly gorgeous works.

If you are one of these readers, and you feel it won't appeal to you because women aren't your particular pleasure preference, hear me out. Forget for a moment the gal-to-guy ratio and whose genitalia goes where. Let's talk about connection.

Be it a story about deep, abiding love, one of lustful conquest, or one of sexual experimentation, what's loveliest about lesbian erotica is the power of connection. Stories of women loving women delve into deep, aesthetic eroticism of not just the body, but of psychology and emotion. Lesbian erotica provides a setting to reflect on femininity and female-ness: characters who are expressively feminine can be highlighted like illuminated works of art, mirrored in another woman’s eyes; “tom” and “butch” lesbians—less feminine women—are given a unique stage where their own brand of beauty and identity is examined and celebrated. I’m put in mind of Boo, a self-proclaimed butch from Orange is the New Black, who couldn’t be less “feminine” if she tried. Her story to be recognized and respected, despite her utter refusal to put on a feminine mien, brings out a true beauty in her in such a way that viewers can appreciate her as her own, wonderful creation. Pairing women together, whether both parties be femme or both be butch, or be they a combination of expression and identity, makes for a unique opportunity for women to reflect on women, and how our sexuality is articulated.

What I worry about, writing lesbian fiction, is that at the most accessible level—early budding erotic writers—it is so often fetishized, relying on a perceived 'kink' of girl-on-girl action. I find it funny: it seems much more acceptable for gay erotica, featuring two men, to focus on the emotional needs and complications of the characters, finding eroticism though the emotional as well as the physical interactions. Most authors who set out to write gay male fiction understand this as part of the genre. If not taken seriously, though, lesbian fiction can easily miss the mark and be reduced merely to pornographic renditions of two women screwing.

Now, I realize lesbian erotica is not the only sub-genre to delve into the deep emotion and psychology of femininity in love. It is, however, disproportionately visited by readers. Lots of straight women will seek out gay male romance, but are ambivalent about lesbian tales.

It’s such a shame. Lesbian erotica is beautiful. It can be moving and literary. It can be so deeply gripping: Affinity by Sarah Waters left me shaken for days after I finished it. It can be fun and funny. I've enjoyed stories about fem domme cupcake bakers and island visitors sharing a relaxing evening with a stranger who becomes a new friend.

Whatever lesbian erotica is, it isn't what many people seem to think: an exclusive members-only club. If you've never given lesbian romance a chance, seek out at least one good title. Make it one you'd readily pick up if it were a traditional male/female romance. Give yourself a chance to find a new pleasure in the plethora of attractive erotic sub-genres. I think most folks will find that there's more to it than meets the eye.

Author Bio:


When she isn't visiting the worlds of immortals, demons, dragons and goblins, Brantwijn fills her time with artistic endeavors: sketching, painting, customizing My Little Ponies and sewing plushies for friends. She can't handle coffee unless there's enough cream and sugar to make it a milkshake, but try and sweeten her tea and she will never forgive you. She moonlights as a futon for four lazy cats,
loves tabletop role-play games, and can spend hours penciling naughty, sexy illustrations in her secret notebooks.

Brantwijn has two romance series currently in-progress with Champagne Books. She's also had short stories published in several small press anthologies. She has author pages on GoodReads and Amazon, and loves to see reader comments on her work. Her short stories and audio readings occasionally pop up at Foreplay and Fangs, her blog at http://brantwijn.blogspot.com.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Savvy Saturday: Author Appearance Schedule for July

Hello everyone! This week on Savvy Saturday, we here at Champagne thought you might like to see where and when your favorite authors would be in town. Don't miss out on a chance to meet these amazing people!

Veronica Helen Hart

This lovely lady will be a featured speaker at "The Get Published Series," 9D Palm Harbor, Village Way, Palm Coast, Florida. Addressing the significance of writing groups on July 21st at 5:30 PM.

Check out Veronica's schedule on her website.






Keith Willis

Don't miss this great guy at Altamont Free Library, Altamont, NY on July 21st. He will be having a reading and an author ask-me-anything.

Want more? Take a peek here!






Colleen Myers

It may be the last day, but go see Colleen at the Romance Writers of America conference in San Diego, California at the San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina all day today.

Didn't want to miss her? Colleen has more events coming up, so check out her website for more info.



Saturday, July 9, 2016

Savvy Saturday: KM Tolan Talks About His Time at Comicpalooza in Houston

Hi, I’m Kerry, one of the erstwhile Sci-Fi/Fantasy authors in the June 2016 Comicpalooza convention’s Artist Alley. This is my second Comicpalooza, having heard of the convention by way of one of those “You didn’t go to Comicpalooza?” questions of astonishment while at another comic con.

The first thing to strike me this year was that the event has grown in size, which means I’m even more of a small fish in a larger pond than I was last year (grin). Not to worry. More folks wandering by my table, eh?

Friday was the typical mad rush of getting in at the last moment from Austin, Texas, courtesy of some dump truck who had come to grief on a very crowded Highway 290 just outside the loop. Houston traffic is such a pleasure. I found my spot quickly, and with the understanding help of more than one eager volunteer. Forgetting my registration papers is becoming a tradition, it seems. This year I had six novels to display and a seventh on the way, so we were loaded down with inventory and the usual props and displays. One thing we learned in our eight years of doing comic cons, is that simply tossing books on a table doesn’t cut it.

Friday’s being Fridays, I did as much chatting as selling. Not too many folks were dressed up, but then neither were the wife and I. That was for tomorrow. Instead it was more of a laid back meet and greet. I got to see our literary host Vijay Kale, who popped over, said “Hi!”, then was off in a flash. Pity too, since he was doing a great job beforehand with all the arrangements. The Literary program at Comicpalooza was far above what I’ve seen at other conventions, and this year Vijay outdid himself. I was scheduled for two panels, and looking forward to Saturday night’s get together with my fellow wizards at a local pub—all courtesy of Vijay.

Saturday arrived and it was laces and boots as the wife Vickie and I donned our steampunk finery, and joined in the cosplay while chatting up the books. This year folks seemed more interested in the paperbacks than our publisher’s e-books. I had an advert for my upcoming Sci-fi novel “Siren’s Song” and folks were really interested. Oh, and we were selling books, of course. More importantly, I was getting the much treasured exposure we small press authors crave. Business cards flew off the table. The day’s panel arrived, and I found myself among other writing professionals tackling the business of, well, business. We have a few dozen folks listening, and thankfully we didn’t have to delve into the mysteries of the Schedule C. Instead, it was all about promotion and how to do it. Things really picked up as we discussed the ways of getting yourself “out there” without being chased back again. And of course, the cosplayers were decidedly attending this Saturday, so the wife and I took turns running around checking out the more talented entries. It’s always the homemade stuff that I love to see—especially when the outfit is done up to Hollywood standards. Awesome. We closed the day with respectable sales (I do love the Square application for point-of-sale), and toddled off to meet other authors down at a delightful, if not a tad noisy, bar and grill a couple blocks away. Dodging rain showers, we made it unscathed and dry. Got to talk with several folks in the business, as well as a couple author hopefuls.

Sunday resumed with us in our laid-back gear, and enjoying more sales as folks remembered our display and came back to invest their remaining dollars. My fantasy novel “Tracks” ended up being the best seller, with “Blade Dancer” running up a close second. And then it was panel time again, with the subject being military weapons and Science Fiction. It rapidly became military Sci-fi in general, with a couple dozen eager listeners soaking in what myself and several other military-background authors advised when it comes to ye old pew-pew. And then, sigh, it was time to break down our table displays, head back to the confines of Austin, and plan for Comicpalooza 2017. Great fun was had by all. Next stop? Wizard World in Austin.

K.M. Tolan is a science fiction and fantasy author with six books published through Burst Books (Champagne Books SF/F imprint). His first two novels in the “Blade Dancer” series were both finalists in the EPIC E-book Awards for Science Fiction. “Blade Dancer” was accepted into the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives at Texas A&M. “Rogue Dancer” received his publisher’s award for best novel of the year. Mr. Tolan is a software engineer, a combat veteran, and lives near Austin, Texas.

Check out his website here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Excerpt from Siren's Song

Siren’s Song
By K. M Tolan
Science Fiction

$4.99 eBook
$12.95 Print
Amazon: https://goo.gl/I6zLj0
Kobo: https://goo.gl/t6JuPL
Champagne Books: http://goo.gl/WxBDnQ

He was of two minds about everything, and one of them wasn’t human.

EXCERPT

The mountain lion snarled, baring yellowed fangs. It should be running for the high country, not swishing its tail at him.

Swallowing back his growing dread, Scott eased two big knives from their holsters on his pant legs. “Get out while you can, kitty. I seriously don’t want to do this.”

Kitty didn’t understand the message. The animal’s shoulders bunched.

Fear rose in Scott’s throat. He edged closer to a red fir next to the cabin, knowing how nature intended these issues to resolve. Nature, however, didn’t figure on his particular madness. The source of his twisting guts had nothing to do with the cougar. It was already dead. He reached into a part of himself a legion of psychologists had failed to lock down. The imaginary fishbowl in his head. Scott shoved the lid back with a shudder. He saw her clearly, coiled up in a crystalline ball. He always saw her, thanks to those damn crystals stuck in his skull.

Water.

His personal demon stirred much like a snake rising from a lethargic torpor. Snakes didn’t sing, though. Nor did they look like a murderous sea angel rendered in crystal, fins rippling with bioluminescent menace.

Why do you wake me, thief? Her reply was a melodic vibration through his skull, serrated with venomous undertones.

“Something for you to kill.”

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Excerpt from Howling Hearts

Howling Hearts

By Aspen deLainey
Paranormal Romance
$4.99
Amazon: https://goo.gl/SQyrbe
Kobo: https://goo.gl/WAqy8l
Champagne Books: http://goo.gl/l3yKFP

Twice bitten by love's fickle ways, is the third time the charm? Not quite rescued, but definitely intrigued, Rand starts to believe in love again.

EXCERPT

Frost cracked off his ice-rimed mustache as his lips curved in the sweetest smile Rand had ever seen. “So you’re Calgary bound?”

“Yeah.” Rand watched those blue eyes assess her winter-clad figure. “My friend Leticia invited me to stay with her. Told me there’s jobs galore down there.”

“Ah. Friends in the big bad city. Good thing to have.” He cleared his throat several times, shoving his hands into his parka’s oversized patch pockets. “Look. I get into Calgary every now and then. Would it be okay to call? Maybe we could take in a movie or something?”

Rand watched his sweet smile turn hesitant and a frown pull his eyebrows together, almost as if he expected to be turned down. “Sure. That’d be great.”

He thrust the cell phone from his pocket at her. “Can you put your number in here?”

Rand had to remove her mittens in order to input her number. She noticed his eyes strayed to her left hand several times, as if assuring himself that she’d not worn a ring on that finger recently. She handed the phone back, dragging on her mittens and sighing with relief as they blocked the cold air.

“Thanks. I will be in touch,” he promised. “But if I see you here tomorrow, you are going back to Evermore, regardless of any other plans you’ve made. Keep your radio tuned to the local station. We do get frequent storms out here, as you know. Weather updates’ll keep you informed. See ya, Rand. Drive safely.” He waved before taking off into the wild yonder.

Monday, July 4, 2016

New Book Releases!

This month we have two wonderful releases. Another great science fiction from author KM Tolan, who we will hear from this Savvy Saturday about Comicpalooza, and a paranormal romance from Aspen deLainey. Check them out!

Howling Hearts
By Aspen deLainey
Paranormal Romance
$4.99
Amazon: https://goo.gl/SQyrbe
Kobo: https://goo.gl/WAqy8l
Champagne Books: http://goo.gl/l3yKFP

Betrayed and heart bruised, Rand hightails it out of the Keep hours before a blizzard hits the mountain. After being forced to overnight on the seldom used road, she awakens to RCMP Constable Colby Dunn offering assistance.

Settling into her own home, working in a job she loves, and learning to harmonize not only with the sexy cop who rescued her on that cold winter morning, but a magical wind harp? Rand believes her life's dream is coming together.

When a spring snowstorm drops Rand's ex-lover, man-eating, runaway wife Fern on Rand's doorstop, the happy dream turns into a nightmare.


Siren’s Song
By K. M Tolan
Science Fiction
$4.99 eBook
$12.95 Print
Amazon: https://goo.gl/I6zLj0
Kobo: https://goo.gl/t6JuPL
Champagne Books: http://goo.gl/WxBDnQ

Humans call the crystalline creatures Sirens. They can kill with a scream. Decapitate with a single slash of their cutting fins. The aliens are the most vicious life form Earth has ever encountered, and Scott has one trapped in his mind. Her name is Water, and her hatred for Scott’s species is only matched by her desire to be free of him.

Scott couldn’t agree more, but neither of them understand the cost of letting her out.
In order to save their sanity, Scott and Water have to save her people.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

COURAGEOUS CAIN BY D.J. DAVIS Review from LASR


Courageous Cain by D.J. Davis
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (335 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia
Josie Shepherd loves running free, with no one and nothing to tie her down—until a new job at a kennel introduces her to both an unexpected friend and a vicious, abused dog named Cain.
When Josie stumbles upon the body of a murdered woman, she runs to Deputy Gordon Wolfe, a disfigured man hiding behind his badge. His shy smile and affection for dogs make her reconsider what she’s running from.
Now she’s on the run from a serial killer and her own heart. But when her friend is abducted and Cain appears to be the murder weapon, Josie’s attempt to save them both lands her in the killer’s lair. Josie’s strength and Cain’s loyalty are tested to the limit as they fight for their lives. Facing a killer is one thing, but facing her love for Gordon is Josie’s greatest challenge.
Can Josie and Gordon help each other undo the lessons learned in their youth?
Josie is a complicated woman. Her childhood was very rough and left her with serious trust and commitment issues. Consequently, Josie keeps everyone at arm’s length. The only family she has left is her dog, Fletcher. Josie’s first instinct when she’s around people is to protect herself, but I loved watching her with dogs. She shares a bond with them that is absolutely beautiful and wonderful to watch. When Josie runs from a disastrous relationship, she ends up in Rockglen, a picturesque small town. Josie gets a great job working with dogs and makes some new friends. She even begins to fall in love for the first time when she meets Gordon. Just as she’s finally beginning to feel at home, her happiness is marred by the presence of a serial killer who has made Josie his latest obsession. Cain, an enormous and abused dog, is the only link to the killer. Can Josie use her unique bond with Cain to solve the murders, or will she become the next victim? I must warn readers that this book contains graphic violence that is very hard to read.
Josie and Gordon are a sweet couple. While their childhood experiences were drastically different, they are both very damaged. Josie grew up learning that love is a trap. Gordon believes no one can look past his physical appearance and truly love him. I thoroughly enjoyed watching them learn to open their hearts to each other. There were a few setbacks, but that made their journey feel all the more real. I have no doubt that they are well on their way to a beautiful future.
As much as I loved watching Josie and Gordon, I believe Cain is the heart of this story. My heart broke for the poor abused dog. Cain has spent years being physically and emotionally tortured, and yet when he meets Josie, I could see glimmers of the majestic, loyal, and playful dog he could have been had he been taken care of properly. I cannot give away all the details, but I will say that readers, especially anyone who has ever loved a dog, should have a box of tissues on hand when they reach the conclusion of this book. I sure needed them.
Courageous Cain is an intense and emotional tale. I loved watching Josie forge true and lasting bonds of friendship with humans and dogs alike. Readers looking for a powerful suspense would do well to pick up a copy of Courageous Cain.

Savvy Saturday: A Chat with Joanne Renaud

Hello all and welcome back to Savvy Saturday! This week we have special guest Joanne Renaud talking about her book, Doors. Hi Joanne!

Hi CBG. It’s so good to be here! 

So Joanne, tell us a little bit more about your book.

It’s a character-driven romance—inspired by the movie Sliding Doors and Ursula Le Guin’s alternate-timeline SF classic Lathe of Heaven—where the the heroine Jackie Karam learns about where the paths never taken might lead, and what life for her might be like in a universe frighteningly similar to her own. All she has to do is find a lost book—one that might open up a portal to another world. Would she find greater confidence and success and love…or might she lose her own sanity? 

Where and when did you come up with the idea for Doors?

My friend Kathy approached me with an anthology with the theme of “lost books” and asked me if I was interested in writing a short story for it. I said sure, and started writing the  story—it grew and grew until it became a proper (short) novel. 

What was the most difficult part of writing?

I wrote it with no outline—the most difficult part was the editing, definitely!

Are you going to be writing another book any time soon?

The next story set in the Doors and A Question of Time universe is called Out of Time, and it’s a time travel story where the heroine goes back to 1966. I’m also working on a romance set during the French Revolution, and a Science Fiction romance as well. So much to do, so little time! 

If you wanted readers to know one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I love poofy and historically accurate costumes. I also love punk rock. 

Thank you so much for being here Joanne, we really appreciate your time.

Thanks! It’s great to be here!



Joanne Renaud, who earned a BFA in illustration from Art Center College of Design, has been writing, drawing and painting as long as she can remember. She went to college in a variety of places, including Northern Ireland and Southern California, and enjoys history, comics, children's books, and cheesy fantasy movies from the '80s. She currently works as both an author and a freelance illustrator. Her latest novel Doors was released in February 2016 from Champagne Books, and her illustration clients include Simon & Schuster, Random House, Houghton Mifflin, Macmillan-McGraw Hill, Harcourt Inc., Red Chair Press, and Scholastic. 


Doors is now available through AmazonChampagne BooksAll Romance EbooksKobo, and Barnes & Noble. You can read an excerpt here. You can also check it out on Goodreads

Friday, July 1, 2016

Tattle and Wrye column July 2016 edition

FROM THE DESK OF
DONA PENZA TATTLE, ESQ.
AND
ASSOCIATE WRYE BALDERDASH

Greetings,

“My neighbor’s son swallowed a box of firecrackers.” Wrye enters the office all flush-faced.

“Oh no, is he all right?”

“Don’t know. I haven’t heard the last report!” Does a little vaudeville tap dance, adding, “Da da da daaaa.”

“Ut oh, here goes the Fourth of July jokes.” Tattle offers the heavenly eye-roll.

“I got a million of ‘em. Well, well, maybe not. Halloween and Christmas have a lot more joke fodder.”

“First of all, m’funny buddy, only us Yanks celebrate the 4th and we have a much wider audience that might not be interested. Second, we are late for our Love of Literature Leap, and the books we reviewed are real firecrackers!”

“Betcha thought that was cute.” Wrye adjusts his red, white and blue tie.

“Of course, just like me.”

Wrye groans. “Let’s just go.”

And they do.

The duet leap into their first review, ABSENCE OF LIGHT by Rick Giernoth, a paranormal/horror thriller.

“Oooh, it is creepy and scary and goosebump ut oh in here.” Eyes wide, Tattle snoops about.

“Should be. This is where nightmares begin and probably don’t stop when you wake up.”  Points a finger at a young girl being beaten by two men with hoods. “That’s Helen Slater, she was on her own by twelve and scooped up by a separatist hate group. She thought they were the only ones who cared, but were actually indoctrinating her into a life of hating everyone and everything outside their group of white supremacy.”

Tattle frowns. “David Washington, leader of this malignant group, treated her with feigned humanity and kindness, the only caring she had ever known. His goal hadn’t been birthed from anything natural or good. She was a resource to aid his radical cause. He tutored this blond haired, blue eyed beauty to become the perfect poster child. By the time she was in her mid-twenties, she could spout hate propaganda like Hitler on steroids.”

“Which leads to her being beaten to death right outside a rally.” Wrye shakes his head sadly. “Only, when she makes it to the other side, and her course of redemption is revealed, she rejects it. David did his job too well, and she is thoroughly revolted by the option offered to her. Upon fleeing from deathville, she re-emerges in her battered body, coming back to life after four minutes of being clinically dead.”

“David is elated, for she is now even more essential, a living symbol of what he considers the animalistic nature of non-whites, since they were the ones who beat her. The moment she is released from the hospital, he is ready to put her on the road touting their erroneous message.” Tattle tries to reach into the pages to strangle David Washington, but Wrye stops her, reminding her she is only an observer.  She breathes deeply, and then continues, “Even though you can’t quite warm up to Helen as a character, you still feel for her, especially when reality is overtaken by heinous visions and physical attacks by a mockery of her guide from the other side and demons. Helen has seen the path to the afterlife, and still has a slight hope of redemption which makes her all the more susceptible and desirable to the Legions of Hell.”

“After committing a horrific crime, Helen is drawn to a church, but the evil within her soul prevents her from crossing the threshold. Father Kennedy immediately sees a young woman in ominous pain being manipulated by the supernatural. In an effort to help, he is eventually drawn into a hidden, ancient faction of the church, The Order of Camerone. There they fight against the unnatural, imprison those demonic beings who cannot be brought back to salvation, and continuously learn about their abilities in this supernatural war.”

Tattle maneuvers herself further into the book. “Ah, but not all is as it appears, and there is a battle that will reveal unexpected truths, as well as, expose the second Son of God. There is no certainty as to who will survive.”

Wrye clears his throat theatrically. “This story has all the elements of horror woven with the eternal fight between good and evil in a dramatic, fast-paced page turner. The characters are well-developed, and multi-layered. They reflect the true nature of humanity with both its flaws and nobility. Rick Giernoth has a unique take on an old theme. He did not just put a fresh coat on the plot line, he created his own palette of gory colors.”

“Rick’s story is sharp, crisp and, yes, downright scary. Personally, I read it with a lot of lights blazing, and still found myself looking over my shoulder and haven’t slept without a nightlight since. No matter your personal beliefs, this gives you pause to consider evil at its most horrific. Plus, it has more than its share of unpredicted twists and shocks. If you want a thrilling ride of terror, read ABSENCE OF LIGHT!


Off the two go into UNSCRIPTED, Duty Bound I by J. S. Marlo, a contemporary woman’s suspenseful romance.

“My oh my,” exclaims Tattle. “This book truly is a brew of deception, manipulation, courage, honor and intense love.”

“That it is m’literary prowler. “With a backdrop of arson, murder, tragedy and romance, the two main characters are tossed and tousled between their dramatic personal lives and dynamic careers.”

Tattle scans pages with dedicated intensity. “When Blythe Huxley, skip-a-heart-beat attractive with sigh-worthy charm, meets Riley Kendrick a close friendship evolves. Both are married, both have endured hardships, and both become entangled in suspenseful mysteries. They become each others’ support and confidantes.”

“Blythe, an actor for the Canadian show, Wild Rescue, must manage his career along with daily visits to his wife, Claire, who languishes in the hospital in a vegetative state.” Wrye’s face is a mask of compassion. “She had been shot while trying to help a young boy. Blythe must, also, decide when and if to take Claire off life-support. Something her parents refuse to even consider. Adding to his already tremulous life is Isabella Neuville, a gorgeous, gotta-fan-yourself, co-actress, who makes her desire for Blythe obvious. It isn’t easy to keep his distance when Riley’s “winning” script developed a lovers’ relationship between their characters on the show.” 

“Yes, indeed, Riley won the contest Martin had contrived, which brought Riley into this exciting new endeavor. However, W. H. Martin, producer-director, sees something in her writing and takes her on as a staff writer. Andy, the lead writer, thinks she is inspiring and she quickly meets his demands. Paul, a co-writer, alternately hits on her or sabotages her. Either way he is obnoxious.” Tattle wrinkles her nose in distaste and sticks her tongue out at the character. “Meanwhile, Riley flies back and forth from her country hometown to the glamorous set while her second husband Ollie, once a firefighter, now a fire investigator, works on uncovering the arsonist responsible for multiple fires.  Riley must also deal with her daughter, Rowan being in Iceland studying volcanoes and her son, Hunter, wanting to follow in his step-father and birth father’s legacies to become a firefighter. The latter had died while trying to save a child, leaving Riley a young widow.”

Fully impressed, Wrye adds, “With each page turn, you become hopelessly attached to the characters while truth becomes increasingly rather than less evasive. Nothing is safe. No one they love is safe. Neither are Blythe and Riley.”

“I believe Marlo deliberately doesn’t want you to take a single breath from tale’s beginning to end. The story is that intense.”

“I hear you, m’sister-in-review.” Wrye gives an approving nod. “As a reader, I followed a tangled story that I thought could never be resolved, nor could I figure out the true persona of the villains. The story is a splendid mixture of suspense, thrills, drama and hot-to-the core yet tasteful romance. The author sets a new standard for women’s contemporary romance. It is edgy; engaging yet still harbors the spicy sweetness that originally drew romance readers.”

Tattle flips the book’s last page and offers an exaggerated sigh. “I was completely hooked, not just on hunky, dreamy Hux (Blythe), but on the building pace of the story and the multifaceted characters from the main cast, to the secondary characters, to the antagonists, that I absolutely adored hating. The plot had been well-developed and I kept expecting it to be over-complex causing problematic resolutions, but each scenario resolved itself smoothly and believably. Congratulations on a job well-done, J. S. Marlo!  I would highly recommend UNSCRIPTED, Duty Bound I and look forward to reading the next two in the Duty Bound series.”


Hope you all enjoyed our reviews! Until next month, keep reading.


Dona Penza Rutabaga Tattle, Esq. and Associate Wrye Balderdash
of Blather City, Wannachat

Created and written by:  Angelica Hart and Zi

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