#TopTenTuesday

I forgot I did this one already and was about to do it again! Glad I checked. But after a YouTube booktag I started thinking about my favorite black and white movies again, so it’s good to see my top 10 picks here are still the same. 🙂

Sunshine Somerville

Top 10 Favorite Black & White Movies:

1:   The Thin Man Series.  I can never pick my favorite of the series – it depends on my mood at any given moment.  But William Powell and Myrna Loy are my favorite on-screen couple of all time.  The play between these two is mostly what I love about these movies, although the murder/mystery twists are great too.
Also, this was a Halloween costume one year:  
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2:   Casablanca.  The first time I watched this (which was way too late in life, I blame bad parenting), I was shocked to find that I knew over half the lines.  I mean, everyone knows “Of all the gin joints…” but there are TONS of lines that have slipped into everyday use.  It’s also a love triangle with much bigger things at stake, and that’s refreshing.
3:   The Philadelphia Story.   I like wit.  The combo…

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Book Giveaway!

Hey, everyone! I have a Goodreads Giveaway running for “The Prophet” if you’d like to enter to win a free paperback copy!  I’m giving away a total of 5.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Prophet by Sunshine Somerville

The Prophet

by Sunshine Somerville

Giveaway ends June 30, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

Also, you can grab the eBook for free at http://bit.ly/Amazon_TheProphet  or on Smashwords or pretty much anywhere else.  🙂

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Review of “Ewan Pendle and the White Wraith” by Shaun Hume

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It’s impossible to write a review of this and not mention the similarities to Harry Potter.  A parentless boy is whisked away from the ordinary world and taken to a fantastical school.  He ends up with really only two friends, one of whom has constantly unruly hair.  Each class focuses on a different discipline and has a quirky and/or mean teacher.  The kids will all eventually be sorted into different houses…er cliques.  The boy’s past and parentage obviously are important, with more to the story than we’re told right away.  There are creatures.  There are hovering deathly beings.  There’s an unseen dark-lord-type with evil followers.  Etc.  Etc.

In a lot of ways, this feels like an obvious attempt to appeal to a certain crowd of readers, almost like a kind of fan fiction.  BUT, I soon forgave all that and just went with it because the author does a lot of unique things too.  For example, one of Ewan’s two friends (both girls) is a pirate.   It’s also refreshing that the world-building is not *entirely* based in magic.   There is magic, yes, but we’re told pretty quickly that most people aren’t good at it and instead focus on other talents.  And I really enjoyed what the author did with the true Queen of England.

It’s easy to fall in love with Ewan as a character.  The poor kid just can’t win, and he’s a very believable 11 to 12-year-old boy thrown into new and overwhelming circumstances.  Enid and her pirate family added a much-needed feeling of newness to this story, and I loved that her character was rough around the edges.  Mathilde is great too, with her confidence and loyalty and almost-ever-present smile.  I even enjoyed the adult characters, who are a little flat because the focus is more on the kids.  As the plot thickens, you aren’t supposed to know which adults and older kids to trust, so their elusiveness adds to the suspense.  It usually drives me nuts when there’s some huge danger and kids don’t bother to tell the adults about it, but here it completely makes sense that they try to stop the danger themselves.

As for the author’s writing, there is a LOT of description.  It really is a bit too much, slowing the dialogue especially.  And sometimes a word is used incorrectly so that a sentence might sound flowery but really doesn’t make sense.

Still, I stayed in this book for the three main characters because their friendship dynamic was so lovely and fun.  And, yeah, if you miss Harry Potter in your life, give this a go.

3.5 Stars

See it on Amazon!

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Review of “Tongues” by Sam Joyce

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At the start of this book I couldn’t tell exactly where it was going, and I wasn’t sure I was going to like it (based purely on another book’s similar premise where I ended up hating that story entirely).

However, THIS book drew me in pretty quickly.  The twists and complexity of this story were thoughtfully well-crafted.  I wasn’t sure how the elements of “neo-Nazis, top-level federal government, and the strange world of the occult” were going to work together, but the result was a suspenseful, somehow realistic, creepy horror tale.  And I appreciated that, though the events were horrific, the “horror” element was never gratuitous just for the sake of being shocking.

Catherine is a great main character, certainly not perfect but easy to relate to as we see things through her eyes.  I really liked how the plot progressed as she journeys deeper and deeper into what’s going on in Elena.  When we meet the federal agent, I wasn’t sure how everything there would fit, and this could maybe have used a little fleshing out.  I DID like how he got in over his head, and I was not expecting what happened once paths converged.  As for Carmen, I liked how the author slowly introduced him as the source of all the trouble.  The author did a great job of making him not just a dark, evil bad guy but instead a man with thoughts and motives that made sense to him.

That said, the back flash for Carmen felt really, really long. It was hard to focus on all this backstory because I wanted to get back to the main story’s timeline.  I liked the idea of what the author was doing, but it probably could’ve been shorter and still gotten the point across.

In all, I’d recommend this book if you’re looking to read an occult-based horror story with unexpected elements.  The uniqueness kept me turning the pages, and the author’s writing drew me in, from dialogue to action scenes and everything in between.

4 Stars

 

See it on Amazon!

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#AuThorsday with Amie Irene Winters

AmieIreneWintersHeadshot.jpgToday I’d like to welcome Amie Irene Winters, bestselling author of the Strange Luck series.   

Can you give us your quickest description of your books?

Dark.  Strange.  Adventurous. P erfect for fans of Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Neil Gaiman, and all things supernatural.  If you love magic, wizards, oddities, teen fantasy, mythology, supernatural creatures, young adult dark fantasy, and other realms, then the world of THE STRANGE LUCK SERIES awaits you!

I love when the “fans of” list clearly sets the tone and feel of the story.  Are these elements things that you look for as a reader as well?  What are some favorite books in your genre?

Thanks.  I tend to look at the description first, but if I’m still not sure about the book I’ll check out the “fans of” component.  I included titles/authors in my description because people have told me that my books are similar to those.

I love anything by H.P Lovecraft and Neil Gaiman.  I’m really into gothic horror literature right now and have been reading authors who influenced Lovecraft.

I’m a Lovecraft fan too.  What are you working on currently?

I’m finishing up the final edits for the third (and last book) in the Strange Luck Series—A Darling Secret.  All the books in this YA Fantasy series center around a specific theme. Strange Luck (Book I) focused on the value of memories and identity.  The Nightmare Birds (Book II) focused on fear.  And, A Darling Secret (Book III) will focuses on inner strength.  A Darling Secret will be released fall 2017.  I can’t wait for the series to finally be complete!

Congratulations on nearly being finished!  Did you always plan to focus each book on a specific theme, or was that something that developed as you went along? Are those particular themes important to you?

I didn’t plan it.  The themes developed as I wrote.  When I write I don’t plot everything out.  I have a very general idea of what I’m going to do and the rest I come up with as I go.  For example, I wanted to write a book about a world built using stolen memories.  That was the general idea I had for Strange Luck.  The rest took form as I wrote.  A lot of the time I don’t even know what is going to happen in the story or to my characters, but that’s part of the fun.

All the themes I discuss in my books are important to me and are largely based on my own experiences/thoughts, like how we are our memories.

I’m a plotter myself, but your approach sounds like a fun way to create.  When you get stuck in your writing, how do you make yourself keep going?

It sounds counter-intuitive, but I take a break from writing.  I’ll go for a walk, hit an aerobics class, paint.  Whatever it takes so that I feel recharged and can look at my work with a fresh eye.  Sometimes it might take a few hours.  Other times it might be a few weeks.

Do you find that your method brings a flood of ideas back to you so you start writing again, or do you eventually just decide to start writing again and hope ideas come?

More often than not, I’ll get a flood of ideas.  This is why I always have a notebook with me or my cell phone, where I can take verbal notes.  I also get inspired by reading.  I’ll be sitting there half paying attention to the story I’m reading and then suddenly, an idea will come.  All my paper bookmarks are covered in notes.  Lol.

Ha!  That’s a great idea for bookmarks.  Do you use your personal experiences in your writing?

Definitely!  Since I’ve always been an outdoorsy girl, I found it easy for my protagonist to be one too.  Daisy’s a bit of a tomboy who loves hiking and camping.  The trails she hikes and places she goes are based on some of my favorite real-life places in California (where I grew up).  Almost all my characters are inspired by people I know.  Even some of my old pets I had growing up!  There’s a lot of other secret things I throw in too, like how my experience as an aerial acrobat influenced writing The Nightmare Birds, which is centered around a dark circus.

If you are curious about more secrets behind my books, check these out:

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Strange Luck

10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Nightmare Birds

Aerial Acrobat?!  That’s definitely a unique experience to draw ideas from!  When real-life people inspire you to create characters, do you ever tell the real people?  And do you ever encounter random people with quirks you use in your characters? 

Yes, I do tell certain people that a character was inspired by them.  They always get a kick out of it.  And yes, I do encounter random people with funny quirks that I’ll implement into my stories.  An example of both is Christine (the German aerial acrobat) from The Nightmare Birds.  In real-life Christine was a German foreign exchange who stayed with me and my family in high school for a semester.  She was obsessed with the color orange. Everything she owned was orange and she only ate orange food.  She also had really long brown hair, which she always chewed on like a beaver.  You’d be standing there talking to her and she would start chewing on her hair like it was a meal.  I always thought both of those quirks about her were funny, so I used them in the story.

That is funny.  Is there anything you’ve read that made you jealous you didn’t think of it first?

Probably Harry Potter.  It’s one of my favorite series of all time, but I think J.K. Rowling is more than deserving, especially after all that she has been through.  She’s truly an inspiration and a remarkable person.

Many authors seem to feel that way about Harry Potter and Rowling.  Why do you think her stories make SUCH an impact on not only readers, but authors in particular?

J.K. Rowling effortlessly invites you into her magical world, which leaves a delightfully whimsical lasting impression on any child or adult.  I think it’s impactful on authors because the story resonates across multiple genres.

Thanks, Amie, for sharing!

WHERE TO FIND Amie Irene Winters: 
Website:  www.amieirenewinters.com
Goodreads: Amie Irene Winters
Amazon Page: Amie Irene Winters
Facebook:  Amie Irene Winters
Twitter: @AmieIWinters

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Review of “The Elemental” & “The Empath” by Lisa Veldkamp

26786740I’ve read a couple of fantasy/magic-based stories using the elements as the source for magic, and I liked the everyday approach to them in this story. Catherine and her gifted circle of friends lead pretty ordinary lives, but they use their gifts to help others in subtle ways every day. I WOULD say that there’s nothing flashy about the use of elemental magic in this book, but then again, there is the whole climax scene where they have to save the planet.
Catherine, for me, was a very believable and likeable character. She experiences a natural range of emotions in this book, and seeing the story through her eyes (mostly) added some mystery to the book because you’re naturally curious about this mysterious neighbor/love interest and what he really knows.
The first part of the book dragged just a little bit for me because I wasn’t sure where any action would be coming from, but it was a nice look into the fun and magic-quirked lives of these women. The use of the word “Darling” kind of drove me nuts, but once Tristan shows up things take off and the plot gets more direction.
The author’s definite strength is her ability to portray these characters as unique individuals, even if they’re only in small scenes. It felt like a rounded cast of characters. And the danger element was nicely woven in once it was revealed, which gave the book a great build to the end…with hints of something to come.

3.5 Stars

See it on Amazon!

34623300Veldkamp does something really daring with this book, which is basically retell the entire first book, but from a different character’s perspective. This kind of worried me that there’d be no mystery or suspense, but there really was a WHOLE other side plot going that we saw very little of in the first book. I was really impressed how well this worked. For me, this book was even stronger than the first because there was more danger, more intrigue, and more magically gifted people to get to know.
At the same time, it IS the same story. You do see a lot of repeat scenes from the first book, but again this somehow works well because Tristan has such a different take on what’s going on. For me, reading this one only made the pair of books stronger.
If anything, the plot thickens. Not only do we see more behind the scenes all the way through, but there’s quite a different surprise waiting at the end.

4 Stars

See it on Amazon!

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“The Kota” Relauched

THIS WEEKEND ONLY, GRAB THE KOTA FOR $0.99! 

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Kota Cover New Front (1)

A terrifying virus.
A global tyranny.
Humanity remembers no better life.
It’s time to give them one.

Troy Kandoya wants nothing to do with his brother’s Kota movement. But when the DRK virus threatens mankind and strange portals open in the sky, the Kota are the only people with answers. Troy becomes Trok, the immortal Kota Interceder, and he soon finds himself responsible for more than he ever imagined.

After 500 years of war, genetic manipulation, viral plague, and the Dominion tyranny, Trok must unite four prophesied Kota Warriors destined to save Earth.  But nothing about these heroes is what Trok expected. Loree is an assassin with the ability to dematerialize.  Zaak is forced to grow up on an alien planet. Alex is a telepath missing a year of her life.  Ryu has incredible mutate-genes of strength.

Together, the Warriors join Earth’s rebels and use their abilities to fight the Dominion. But rebel politics are complicated. And always, the Dominion threatens its subjects with an unstoppable weapon – the dehumanizing DRK virus.

For centuries, no one’s been able to stop the Dominion and the DRK. Can four Warriors really make a difference?

Excerpt:

Lee’s expression was one of complete confusion as he looked up from within the cryogenic bed and saw Trok kneeling beside him. Reviving him had been a shockingly easy procedure, but the Kota scientists with Trok had prepared for this their whole lives.

Lee coughed and struggled to sit up in the steaming cryo bed.

“It’s alright,” said Trok. “You’re okay. Just take it easy.”

He was so excited and relieved to see Lee alive that he nearly grabbed him in a long-overdue embrace. Instead, he placed a hand on Lee’s shoulder to steady him. Trok was tense for several reasons, but first off he wanted to make sure Lee was okay.

He’s my long-lost little brother, thought Trok. Please, oh, please, just let him be okay!

As the doctors examined him, Lee looked beyond Trok at the dozen men and women gathered. Then he looked around the lab-cave. Trok knew Lee would see immediately that a good deal of time had passed – the state of the lab-cave showed centuries of disuse. Trok and the descendents of the Kota remnant had always kept a careful eye on the place, but some things couldn’t fight age. Faint running lights hummed overhead, but the balcony around their lower level had rusted long ago and collapsed in places. Most of the ancient machinery was broken. Only the life support functions remained intact, though the system had been repaired many times by the Kota assigned to guard over Lee throughout the years.

Lee looked back at Trok and examined his face. Lee himself had physically aged maybe ten to fifteen years while sleeping. Now middle-aged, his forehead was wrinkled. His hair and beard were peppered gray. His body underneath the medical scrubs appeared only minimally atrophic, though very pale.

“You…” Lee cleared his throat to find his voice. “You were frozen too?”

Trok lifted an eyebrow. “Not exactly. Let the doctors check you over, and then we’ll take you out of here. I’ll explain everything once we’re safely away.”

“These are the Kota?”

“Yes.”

“How long has it been?”

Trok hesitated, knowing this would be hard, but there was no real way to ease into it. “Five hundred years.”

Lee’s eyes widened, but he’d been prepared for this. He asked no more as the doctors finished examining him.

The doctor in charge stood, lowered his x-ray scanner, and turned to Trok. “Sir, he’s as stable as we could’ve hoped. I think we’re safe to move him. He’s weak and groggy, but that’ll wear off soon.”

“Good.” Relieved by this news, Trok focused on the next concern. He lowered his voice so as not to worry Lee. “I don’t want to stay here any longer than necessary. I’m sure Dominion patrols check this place on a daily basis in hopes of intercepting us.”

“Good thing we brought soldiers, then.”

Yes, thought Trok bleakly. Kota soldiers, anyway. And we’ve only got five with us. They’d be no match for Dominion drone soldiers.

“I’d rather we didn’t have to use them,” he told the doctor. “We can’t afford getting caught in a firefight.” He looked down at his brother.

The doctor nodded and turned to help his partners with their patient. Lee seemed curious about why the Kota deferred to Trok, but he allowed himself to be lifted into a wheelchair. Once he was ready, the whole group hurried for the ancient building’s exit.

Outside, the warm sunlight pouring down didn’t bother Trok’s eyes. He looked over the wilderness beyond the crumbling gates, searching for danger. Trok saw Lee take a deep breath of fresh air and close his eyes to feel the sunshine. This once again reminded Trok how disconnected he was from everything around him.

But now Lee’s with me, thought Trok. I’m not as alone anymore. I just hope he can handle this.

“No patrol activity in the area, sir,” called a Kota soldier from his position near a hover hummer.

Trok snapped into action and took over wheeling his brother toward this soldier’s vehicle. “Let’s be sure we’re gone before they arrive.”

“Yes, sir.” The soldier whistled to his partners. “Load up!”

The Kota doctors and soldiers piled into the other vehicles as Trok helped Lee into the backseat of their hover hummer. Once Lee was secure, Trok closed his door and stepped around the vehicle to climb in the other side. He watched as the first hummer started off toward the road.

So far, so good.

Inside the hummer, Trok ordered their driver to go. They took off smoothly, and Trok relaxed enough to face his brother. He remembered the last time they’d been here – at the lab-cave, in a hover vehicle, with a Kota driver.

Things are so different now, he thought.

Lee took a drink from a thermos the doctors gave him. “I don’t think I can wait until we get to wherever it is you’re taking me.” He was coming to life a bit. “What’s happened?”


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e-Book:  AMAZON   

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