Thursday, September 26, 2013

Five Enthusiastic Stars for Aleks Sager's Daemon

I  love the arrivals & departures theme of this new book by Lucinda Elliot, one of my favorite UK writers. It is original  and densely crafted, a suspenseful, contemporary (80s and 90s) paranormal romance that dips into demonology and the distant literary past. I recommend it to literary and genre readers alike.

Initially I was so turned off by Charley, the shallow human who is on and off with our heroine Natalie, a lovely, voluptuous London model hooked on sausage rolls, that I was eager to meet the competition. He is a daemon. And what a daemon! Aleks Sager is vivid, complex, likeable, and even vulnerable as a struggling writer, which doesn't make him any less paranormal. Is he dangerous?
Smitten with Natalie's Pre Raphaelite looks and fluid mind, Aleks finds himself literally and figuratively chasing her through the dark  streets of their desperately fashionable demi-monde world, which is inhabited by  wannabe models, agents, writers, and actors, who  run into each other, hit on each other, and leave each other at parties. The setting never slows the pace; it is gorgeously cinematic.

Lucinda handles all characterization with sure, deft touches. When we first meet  Aleks, he is agonizing over his hate mail and his love life. Demonic physical traits are dropped in subtly. "As he buttons his shirt over the mat of hair on his chest, leaving the two top buttons undone – if you’re as hairy as he is then the only thing to do is to flaunt it – he pulls a wry face, glancing down at those long nails."

The archaic spelling of "daemon" and references to Pushkin make me want to know more about demonology and the author who was the Russian equivalent of Shakespeare. My curiosity is satisfied by elements of synchronicity, a character who comes alive, and helpful ending notes.

Lucinda also has an original way of handling the language. Take the capital letter in these  sentences, which describe a human's foreplay that fails to do the job. "'There? How about There? Is That It?' He doesn’t see the humour in the situation. His tone of irritation just held in check guarantees that it isn’t There or There or Anywhere."  Ingenious and hilarious.

Is Aleks Sager's daemon bad or good ? The paranormals and humans get sorted out. The tension escalates on several fronts, and my interest in the twists and turns in the relationship triangle never lets up.  I read the book in one day, and  my mind was  blown by the ending. Next stop for this book should be a London or Hollywood screen treatment.

I was given an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Rings of Passage by Karla Tipton: Review by Anne Carlisle.

I'm proud to say that Karla Tipton is a fellow author at Lazy Day Publishing.
Anise Wynford is playing the king's wife in Shakepeare's play THE TRAGEDY OF RICHARD III at a Massachusetts summer stock theater.  The  22-year old falls on the porch step of her  dead father's farmhouse  after finding  a mysterious journal and an ancient gold ring. Suddenly she's in armor and on a bucking horse, in the middle of a medieval battle. She has slipped out of time through the magic of the ring, and next she appears as a mysterious  lady in the dream of Richard III, who is suffering from depression, guilt, and loneliness  following the deaths of his wife and son. Despite his proven ability as a warrior, he is doubting his ability to face Henry Tudor.  

History is written by the winners.  Shakespeare wrote in the age of the Tudors, who owed their throne to Henry Tudor's vanquishing of his cousin, Richard III, in 1485.  In Karla Tipton's version of the last few months of Richard III's reign, Richard was no crookback, nor did he have a withered arm, and he was anything but an ambitious butcher incapable of love. If anything, he was love's fool, refusing to take off his wife's ring after her death and therefore exposing himself to the sorcery of  a wizard, a former Welsh monarch bent on revenge.

The book's title brings to mind  rites of passage, wedding rings,  and even Lord of the Rings. In  this case, it refers to a set of rings creating a passage out of  time.   They were forged from the Philosopher's stone by the Welsh sorcerer, who, as the story unfolds,  hovers between worlds, waiting for another necromancer to  bring him  back to life and crown Henry Tudor.

The author  went to England to research the truth about Richard III, the much maligned king who was toppled from the throne after only two years. The time-travel romance between  a modern-day, American drama student  and a  medieval English monarch who is about to die on the battlefield  seems doomed from the start. But the author deftly weaves revisionist history and a fantasy  plot, moving toward an ingenious HEA . The events take place over several months prior to the battle of Bosworth Field in August, 1485. They are covered in scrupulous detail as the action zooms  from the fumbling sorcerers to  the traitors and loyalists in the king's retinue to the heroine's 21st century family history,  connected, through the ancient ring, to the story out of time.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Review by Anne Carlisle
A Fast  Five Star Read!

I became an instant fan of Michele McGrath when I gobbled this book at one sitting. It is a historical romance blended with suspenseful  police action set in post-Revolutionary France, and  a thumping good read! It would make a terrific movie. All the characters are multi-dimensional, even the cameos, such as the feared Minister of Police, a Jacobin regicide.  I'm totally hooked  by the unassuming hero and first person narrator, an injured French soldier returning from service in Germany with only a letter of reference to secure his future.  Alain Duval's mother is dead and  he is estranged from his father. Duval longs to  be away from  the  violence and putrid smell of Paris, but  because of a connection, he gains a position as  a Ministry agent,  a job he manages with courage, common sense, and generosity. He soon finds himself at the center of a high-profile  case. The Infernal Machine, which is how Parisians describe the primitive bomb that barely missed killing Napoleon en-route to the Opera, has left few traces, which are the focus of  a carefully executed hunt.  The pace escalates into nail-biting action and a deadly confrontation, followed by the enticing  prospect of  romance for our hero . Meanwhile, as Duval's efforts  bring him closer to rounding up all the ringleaders in the Royalist plot, a friend  is turning out to be different from how he appeared.   New adventures unfold. Michele McGrath knows how to tell a great story, from beginning to end!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Already ten five-star ratings for Anne Carlisle's newly released best-seller in the paranormal ebook collection of LazyDay Publishing!

THE SIREN'S TALE is a stand alone novel  and the second in Anne Carlisle's HOME SCHOOLING series. The author has been compared to Anne Rice and Erica Jong (Jong gave us the "zipless fuck"). The series is a sexy, smart saga about a family of sirens operating as humans, offering a new twist on the paranormal-historical romance  field for New Adult readers. 

This novel features three generations of gifted, bawdy sirens, following them from 1900 to modern times. The suspense deepens when the sirens get tangled in their own webs and struggle against the dark, punishing presence of a family curse.  The central story traces the history of Cassandra Vye, a talented, gorgeous, and highly intelligent siren whose libertine behavior brings about the a family curse in a remote Wyoming village at the turn of the century. After luring the town's choicest bachelors into her net,  she goes on to San Francisco, finding fame and additional affairs. The dire fates of her lovers are cautionary for her descendant, Marlena Bellum, a young architect conflicted on what to do about an illicit pregnancy by a powerful man and a budding romance with an old flame. Meanwhile, Cassandra's grandson, a demon in disguise has penetrated the family. More hot romance and calamity await the dramatically haunted sirens, so stay tuned for book three.

A different take on the paranormal field, Anne Carlisle's siren series addresses young women's career decisions, family connections, and sexual relationships, New Adult issues explored from the perspective of female beings with supernatural powers.  The sirens are free spirits who stand up against bigotry and intolerance. They achieve their HFN's through an unabashed love of their own sexuality. They grow toward an understanding of their own natures  aided by the fabulous power of storytelling. Are you a siren in human form?

Short Links: Amazon   B&N   Lazy Day  All  Romance Ebooks

BLOG APPEARANCE 9/7 ON Coffee Time Romance:

Monday, August 26, 2013

8/27/2013 New Adult Tour Spotlight


Synopsis: Nineteen-year-old Emily is new to pairs skating, but she and her partner Chris have a big dream–to be the first American team to win Olympic gold. Their young coach Sergei, who left Russia after a mysterious end to his skating career, believes they can break through and make history.

Emily and Chris are on track to be top contenders at the 2002 Winter Games. But when forbidden feelings spark between Emily and Sergei, broken trust and an unexpected enemy threaten to derail Emily's dreams of gold.

Author bio:
Jennifer Comeaux earned a Master of Accounting from Tulane University and is a Certified Public Accountant in south Louisiana. While working in the corporate world, she sought a creative outlet and decided to put on paper a story that had played in her head for years. That story became Life on the Edge, her first published novel.

When not working or writing, she is an avid follower of the sport of figure skating, travelling to competitions around the country. Those experiences allow her to see another side of the sport and serve as an inspiration for her writing.

Find Jennifer on:

Purchase links:
Amazon -


Thursday, July 11, 2013

New release! THE SIREN'S TALE

The Siren's Tale,  by Anne Carlisle, LazyDay Publishing

5 star review from Donn: "Anne Carlisle combines erotic, siren-infused romance with a fictional view of rustic frontier Wyoming in THE SIREN’s TALE, the second book in the HOME SCHOOLING TRILOGY. The dominance of the educated, cunning, and alluring sirens over their male conquests makes Carlisle’s novel a staple on the nightstand of female readers seeking steamy paranormal passion. However, the story also contains abundant suspense, capable of pulling readers of all genres anxiously through the novel -- page to page, chapter to chapter."

5 star review from Rick F. "Everything a great novel should be! Anne Carlisle is a magnificent writer! The Siren's Song has it all..a superb plot, characters who jump off the page and a wonderfully macabre tinge of supernatural! I loved this book!!"          

The Siren's Tale (Home Schooling #2)
5.0 of 5 stars 5.00  ·  rating details  ·  3 ratings  ·  3 reviews
The sexual pursuits of a siren in human form, operating in the Old West, makes for charming erotic-paranormal entertainment and spicy inspiration for Young Adult and New Adult readers. Female power and intellect clash with rustic superstition as the siren seeks a life of fiery passion. Deadly consequences arise for Cassandra's human lovers, owing to a curse that deflects her paranormal powers toward the dark side. The frame poses contemporary questions: Will the youngest gifted woman learn from her ancestor's exploits? Can a siren's voracious appetite for adventurous passion be reconciled with core human values.
Literary readers will enjoy the theme of storytelling's power of storytelling to alter one's life.

Friday, March 1, 2013

New Fast-Paced Shapeshifter Novel

 For me, there is a cartoonish quality to the rapidity with which things change in the shapeshifter world. Authors of such fiction sometimes  offer not more than a sentence  for readers to digest exactly who or what  is seen  before she/he/it wings into a new shape, gender, or essence. I had a dizzying experience at the opening of  Emperor's Hostages by  Gloria Piper.   I re-read the prologue several times and still was confused about what happens in the woods and the basic nature of the two characters. In chapter 2, the point-of-view suddenly switches into first person, and as to the identity of the narrative voice, I was clueless. 

In my opinion, the overall pace needs to be slowed and care taken to be clearer, especially since multiple characters abound on every page.  That said, the sentences in themselves are finely honed bits of work, with excellent imagery and action verbs. 

Here is a typical paragraph, at the midpoint. "Meanwhile rumors and speculation flooded the Cloister, reaching En and Yon, two brothers newly fated by the Wheel to grub in the Cloister.  They hoed to the end of the field, dropped their tools, and slid into the bushes.  I alerted ben Saludin, he told Zhin, and Zhin found them.  The new men hollowed out their hiding places in the bamboo. "

There is powerful writing here  -short, active verbs driving the sentences - that  would be invigorating to read, except for  too many characters being thrown together.  In this same  paragraph, besides the aforementioned characters, there are "landlord knights," "servants,"  "the festival crowd, "and "two fugitives."  Too many to keep track of and too much to digest in a short space for my comfort zone. However, this book would be an excellent read "as is" for those who can't get enough shapeshifting  and rapid-fire action.
Anne Carlisle
author of the Home Schooling trilogy

Monday, February 11, 2013

Action-packed Read

Surfer Girl by Lynn Blackmar  is an action book, basically within the spy genre,  with an interesting angle:  the main character is not a male spy but rather a fit, smart college girl with a board-surfing skill. Her talent brings her to the attention of CIA recruiters for an outfit (called the Misfits) specializing in the round up of the enemy's James Bond-ish toys--in this case, a hovercraft.  The agents press Arena into service, and a large part of the book is about her training.  Though at the beginning the setup seems a bit implausible--I doubt CIA operatives are in fact recruited this way--all seems to fall into place as the plot puts Arena under increasing pressure.  The software games used as training are ingenious, a missing roommate turns up again, and so forth. 

I am charmed by the author's description of how she was pursued by her characters after literally dreaming up the story.   I must also say I'm not the target audience for this novel, as my reading taste runs to Thackeray, Dickens, and Austen.  However, I read Lynn's short book with pleasure.  I think it has a lot going for it.  In terms of meeting the expectation set up by its author--"a good afternoon read by the pool"--it earns four stars from this reviewer for accomplishing what it sets out to do. 

I like the way the plot marches forward, driven by action verbs.  The description, while sparse, is adroit.  The characters are not so distinctively drawn as they might be--a bit more idiosyncrasy might be in order. But they are likeable, and their dialogue, which dominates the book, sounds authentic.  I'm interested to see how they emerge in the next book in the series.  I might add the book is well edited, that this eagle-eyed English professor detected very little to fuss over. 

Overall,  Surfer Girl  is a fast-paced, enjoyable read, a good choice for fans of action novels.
Anne Carlisle, author of the Home Schooling trilogy

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Randy & Random View of the Planet

RANDOM ACTS OF TRAVEL: Featuring Trepidation, Hammocks and Spitting,  by Dean Johnston
Like the man says in his title, this book is random. It has no obvious pattern of organization and  no unifying style outside relentless wise-cracking as Johnston shares a compilation of observations gathered from his wanderings around the planet for twelve years. Instead, the book resembles a series of essays that might appear in, say, Mad Magazine or Playboy.

It is long on pages and short on  substantial/ sophisticated coverage of travel basics (like cities).  But, first and foremost, the book is  terrifically, almost fiendishly, funny. I often laughed out loud, though  I sometimes wished he'd drop the banter and write something that would make me want to pack my bag. There are moments when the descriptions really take you there (for better or worse)--on the Ilala ferry in Malawi, for instance.

The author falls into two questionable practices: one that an English professor of mine called the "imitative fallacy," where the writer  twists  the style to mimic what's going on in the material. The other is an annoying tendency to talk up his sleeve. The  "best and worst of___"  lists are some of the worst offenders in this regard. The material is riffy and arcane rather than entertaining and useful.

Bottom line, if you're put off by scatalogical, randy, punsterish, puckish, and sometimes tortuous prose, this isn't the book for you; there are lots of polite, densely detailed travel guides you'd prefer. But, if you're a fan of Dave Barry, and/or your idea of great travel is a knapsack and making do with rice krispies or kicking back in Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala (Ultimate Travel Experience #6) , you'll probably want to check out this book.  Johnston  writes he and his wife  travel in spite of the food, not for the food, and in this case, he's not kidding.  "Snickers, everywhere," he advises. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Review of New Fantasy Novel

REVIEW BY ANNE CARLISLE (also on Goodreads)

First  up, elements that I like in the book. The simplistic writing style works well for fable. The opening scene of the novel successfully creates a suspenseful premise-- a struggle over the transfer of power.  the theme of taking on custodial responsibility is also strong and layered in quickly, when a key character walks into a gruesome situation. 
I realize writing a book which  posits an original world requires nomenclature, but  I'm not sure that the made-up words here  always add value. The word "Luima," for example, is just close enough to "Lima" to be confusing. I find myself wanting to call  "Ilona"  a name I'm familiar with, "Iona."  But that may just be a personal reaction. 
Two deaths, including a queen killed by a prince, are big events to take in at the outset. Perhaps if they were combined with fuller characterization, the opening would seem less sketchy. Also, to my eye, the dialogue is sometimes stilted, and the prose is not as tightly edited as it could be. The word "startled" is used twice within a few sentences.  "Confidante" is written as "confidant" throughout. More than a few sentences  need whittling. Here's an example:  "The soldiers escorting them flanked the convoy of carriages on either side." "Flanked" means on either side, and we already know they are carriages. Finally, expressions such as "the dead of night" will be regarded by some readers as too cliche.
As the book progresses, it gets stronger and  better. It is a plot-driven fantasy and a good read for those who enjoy following the trials and tribulations, the codes of honor and conduct, that pertain to knights and royalty of a faraway realm.