Gypsy Blood

Who would have thought that helping an old man being attacked by three albinos in tragedy masks could go so wrong? Down on his luck writer Corbin Stewart is living in Paris and was trying to do a good deed, little did he know that it would lead to a whirlwind of horrific events. The man he was trying to save was a powerful gypsy named Gregor and his blood and part of his soul has now infected Corbin. Now Corbin is in the middle of a gang war between two blood cults, the T’acho Rasa and the Fantomes de la Nuit.

Corbin isn’t the only victim of the war. A woman named Margot and police detective Besson are also involved in circumstances beyond their control. Everyone has their own agenda and no matter who wins the war between the cults the result will be mass destruction from a supernatural event.

Gypsy Blood by Jeff Gunhus is a paranormal thriller that starts with a simple idea and expands into a complex tale about morals, making choices, dealing with a horrific past and hope for a new beginning. I loved how the three main characters in this book all have points where they do something bad but they also attempt to do what’s right. Even the villains in the book show that they have a compassionate side. When you hear their back stories you understand why they are how they are, even though you may not agree with them.

One of my favorite scenes was when we hear the backstory of Alexis who is the head of the Fantomes de la Nuit. At this point in the book you see him as pure evil but as you hear his story you understand him more and see where he is coming from. At one point Alexis hears about the T’acho Rasa torturing his people, Alexis has committed some horrible acts himself but you see the anguish he experiences over how his people are treated and your opinion of him changes. The lead character Corbin starts to feel empathy for him but then decides that Alexis isn’t worthy of redemption. This left me as the reader wondering: “Is he really not worthy of redemption? There are moments in the book where you experience that for all the characters and even the characters wonder if they are worthy of it. The characters in Gypsy Blood are fascinating and as you read on they show you that there is more to them then you see in the beginning of the story.

I also love the exotic settings of Gypsy Blood with parts of it set in the Paris Catacombs and the Notre-Dame Cathedral. The settings adds a certain mood and the book comes across as highly original since it focuses on history that I only knew very little about. You learn about how badly the Romani people were treated and how African Albinos are used for their body parts because people believe that they’re bones are magic.You see how certain people are affected by this and you feel for them even when the victims become villains. Jeff Gunhus has written an action packed character driven thriller that you’ll find hard to put down.

 

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An Interview With Ryan Hauge

Recently I had the chance to read and review Be Careful What You Joust For by Ryan Hauge and Ivy Smoak. It’s an epic fantasy novel with plenty of action and adventure. Ryan Hauge was nice enough to answer a few questions I had about his writing:

What was the inspiration behind Careful What You Joust for?

How can I narrow it down to just a few things? Everything I’ve ever encountered has inspired it in one way or another. Some of my influences, like classic RPGs, will be obvious to those who have played the same games. I really enjoyed how A Song of Ice and Fire had multiple POV characters, so I wanted to emulate that. And I loved the depth of the world. But I wanted to create something more lighthearted…more along the lines of Harry Potter as far as tone goes. And definitely something accessible to readers of all ages and backgrounds.

You’ve built a complex universe where the story takes place, how long did it take to create it?

Five years. When I first started, I wrote a book set in the world. And then I scrapped it. The book wasn’t very good, but it turned out to be a fantastic world building exercise. After that, I tried to research everything I could about how the world works. Plate tectonics, medieval commerce, weather patterns, where oranges grow and what their growing season is. Everything. I created a pantheon for all the major ancient religions in my world. I gave them festivals. And then I let their cultures evolve throughout history. It made my head hurt at times. I felt like I was working in five dimensions but recording all of it in a 2 dimensional spreadsheet. But it was all worth it in the end.

How long did it take you to write the book?

About a year. But while writing it, I was planning my wedding and running my toy business at the same time. If I had really been able to focus, it might have only taken 4 months.

What was the hardest part about writing it?

Finding the voice of each character. A lot of the characters were quite different in the first draft. Garrion was incredibly dumb and had severe anger issues. He was horribly unlikable. And Marcus was all over the place. He had a different personality every time he appeared.

Rewriting all those parts was so hard to do. But it was so worth it.

You wrote this book with your wife, did you plan everything out together or did you both write certain parts?

We had an initial plot, and each had certain characters that kind of belonged to us. But near the end we would just discuss a chapter and see which of us had a clearer vision for it, regardless of which POV it was. Really every chapter was a collaboration – one of us would write it, and then the other would add some finishing touches. Generally that meant I’d be adding world-building/fantasy type stuff to Ivy’s chapters, and she’d be adding emotion and depth to mine.

When did you start writing?

Five years ago I wrote that book that turned out to just be a really involved world building exercise. This one is so much better.

What are you working on now?

Marketing. So much marketing. But I’m also thinking about ideas for book 2…

Where can people find you online?

My website: http://www.RyanHauge.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/RyanHauge
Amazon: http://bit.ly/HaugeAMZ
Facebook: http://bit.ly/HaugeFB
Twitter: http://bit.ly/HaugeTweet
Instagram: http://bit.ly/HaugeInsta

The Fabergé Entanglement

Being the daughter of a billionaire isn’t easy, Sabinne Darieux has had to put up with threats and several times her father hired people to watch her. This time Sabinne has a different problem, her father has been kidnapped. In order to get him back Sabinne has to steal an object and deliver it to the kidnapper.

Sabinne has competition though there is also a British Intelligence agent by the name of Adrian Steele trying to steal the same object. If that doesn’t complicate things enough then the mutual attraction they feel for each other should. Now the question is who can get to the object first, and can they deny their feelings for one another.

The Fabergé Entanglement by Lesley Meryn and Elle Brookes is an action adventure story with a great mystery at its core. This is a fast paced novel with several little sub-plots and enough twists and turns to keep you reading all night. My favorite part of this book was how it was all described, it felt like I was watching an action movie on the big screen. This book was a lot of fun and if you love secret agents or mysteries you will love it.

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Guest Blog Post: George Benay

Let The Story Unfold

by

George Benay

When I do readings or book signings, I’m often asked how do I go about writing my novels. Do I prepare an outline? Are all my characters well-defined before I start writing? How about the plot, is it clear in my mind and well thought out? In short, do I know what I’m going to write about before I start writing my piece?

To all these very important questions I’ve one and only one good answer which I borrowed from a good friend fellow writer. You see, he once told me fiction authors fall into two general categories: the “Plotters” and the “Pantsers.” The Plotters’ answer to all the above questions is a simple “yes”. They spend countless hours, if not months thinking about plots, characters, storyline, setting etc. and when they are done and have carefully researched and documented their thoughts, they start writing the novel. It’s a laborious task and many good authors swear by it.

I like to think that I fit more in the “seat of the pants” writer category. Indeed, for the most part I’m a genuine Pantser. I do start with a very general idea of what the book is going to be all about but a) I don’t document my ideas in great details beforehand and b) I remain totally flexible about the storyline and any other issue concerning the novel as a matter of fact. I let my characters take over and guide me to where they want me to go. I feed off the mood of the moment to mold the plot and storyline. I allow my characters to decide whether they want to play a bigger part in the story or not. I’m afraid to admit it but when I’m totally immersed in my writing, I take dictation from my characters more than create ideas on my own. The best way I can describe my writing process is what some might call it stream of consciousness with a definite purpose to entertain.

So next time you pick up a book try to guess the kind of author who wrote the novel. A useful tip is to look for cliff-hangers at the beginning of the book. Sometimes it’s done to mislead you ( in the murder/ mystery genre for instance), other times to keep you hooked on to the storyline. But the key in most cases is that the author had a game plan in place before hand. A cautionary note, however, this so-called telltale sign does not always work. After all good writers are skillful teasers.

The story in The Nomad’s Premonition came to me in a news article about speed traders. I immediately thought that this subject was a perfect fit for my protagonist Eric Martin, a former investment banker caught in a dead-end job. As soon as I sat down in front of my computer, Eric kept shouting in my ears “I love it, keep writing”. (What a pain I thought he was at the time, but I’m now glad that he pushed me so hard). The other characters just popped in when the story needed them. I had no idea they existed in my mind or anywhere else for that matter. The plot line emerged out of some unfinished business with my first novel in the Nomad series–Nomad on the Run.

The Nomad’s Premonition took almost two years to write and rewrite, and I did not know from day-to-day where I was going with it. I just had to trust my characters and my intuition that something good would come out of it. What one might guess, I’d a premonition that I was on to a great story. But above all, I’d so much fun writing this thriller as a ‘Pantser’.

 

You can purchase the Nomad’s Premonitions and Nomad on the Run at:
www.amazon.com/author/georgesbenay

About The Author:
Georges Benay is a former international banker who is now working as a Toronto-based writer and award-winning freelance photographer. He is the author of the Nomad series, including the recently released thriller The Nomad’s Premonition and a collection of short stories. His  award-winning pictures have been featured in several magazines and book covers.
Author Links:
Websites :www.georgesbenay.com
www.georgesbenayphotoart.fototime.com
Twitter: @NomadG8

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Nomad On The Run

Eric Martin was making a good living as managing director for a major international bank in Toronto. Everything changes as he receives a mysterious job offer from a financial firm in Morocco. Having been born in Morocco and wanting to visit his ancestral home, he decides to meet with firm’s president Jeff Offenbach. He finds out that we are at the beginning of a global financial crisis which this firm may be trying to capitalize on.

Eric now finds himself over his head in a world where no one can be trusted and everyone has their own agenda. From Valarie who seems to be keeping big secrets to  Jeff Offenbach who knows more about the crisis than he’s telling anyone. Eric is up against a dangerous cast of characters all motivated by power and money. Can he build a team of financial wizards to help stop the crisis or will he become a victim to the disaster that is coming?

Nomad On The Run by Georges Benay is a thriller about money, greed and power set in exotic locations. The most interesting part of this book was trying to figure out what everyone’s agenda is. One of my favorite scenes in this book was when Eric was deciding to join Jeff’s firm and does it by remembering how his father became successful. His father didn’t have an education and trusted his instincts to become rich and he tried to teach his son to do the same.  To be like his father Eric has to know how to read people and figure out what makes them tick and it’s not always easy.

This is a big part of what this novel is about, Eric is having to deal with different types of people and decide if he can trust them by listening to his gut feelings. This book is light on action but it makes up for it by having characters with very detailed personalities that all have secrets to hide. Another thing I liked in this book was how Eric chooses the team he works with by trying to find people whose agenda is in sync with his.

Nomad On The Run is the kind of thriller that is meant for intellectuals, because there is a lot to think about.  Some of the financial terminology used and the details on economics went over my head but it added a sense of realism to it. I liked the descriptions of Morocco and its history, the setting truly comes to life and is like a character itself.  This is not your average suspense novel, Georges Benay does not talk down to his audience and he uses his knowledge of being an international banker to bring this book to life. If you want to get away to a different country and experience a different way of life without going anywhere, then give this one a look.

http://www.georgesbenay.com/

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Face The Change

Face The Change by Samantha Bryant is the third book in the menopausal superhero series and gets deeper into the lives of the world’s newest heroes. In the last book we discovered that the menopausal superheroes weren’t the only ones with power. Jessica and Fuerte have joined the department which is now gone public and is being called  the UCU, the unusual cases unit.

Patricia is still on the fence about joining but she does do some contract work with them. Leonel is still having issues with David, Jessica is better at handling her powers and is also in love with a member of the department. As the story goes on we still have the UCU trying to track down Cindy and her father plus a new enemy that is using mind control to take over parts of the city.

The third book in the series is the same as the other two books. The first and second didn’t have an ending and neither does this one. This novel series is a lot like reading a comic series where the main story never ends. Some things get resolved but some stories keep going. The reason I like these books and want to read more is that I enjoy the characters, you don’t normally get superhero stories about women in their late fifties and sixties and the issues they deal with you wouldn’t find in other stories similar to this.

What I enjoyed most about this story is that we learn a little more about how Cindy thinks. Cindy isn’t a bad person, she just puts science before people. I though it was interesting how she was thinking of Patricia as a villain, even though Patricia was trying hard to save Cindy from herself.   Also I liked when Cindy was noticing how her new body felt so much better than her old body and was wondering if she could get her life right this time.

The other character that fascinated me in this book was Helen. She’s a woman who seems to be loosing her mind, is it due to her flame throwing power? Symptoms from menopause? or is she just bipolar with her condition making it worse. Helen is a villain but you feel a lot of sympathy for her, you get the impression that she hasn’t had much good in her life and in her mind her fire power changes that. In the past she felt weak and unimportant, now she has power but she doesn’t use it for good. She is out for revenge against anyone who has ever harmed her.

My main problem in this book was that I was expecting a little more action this time around. The action scenes seemed short and like they were there just because it was expected. Since this superhero trilogy is geared towards a different audience, it doesn’t need a lot of action but I still felt that the two fight scenes towards the end could have been better. My other complaint was that Agatha the psychic should have had a bigger role. It seemed like throwing her in as a villain was just a way to show that the UCU does more that just chase after Cindy, but her story seemed unimportant compared to what else was going on. I would still recommend this series. It’s an original spin on superhero stories and it has a lot of great characters.

Change Of Life

The last time we saw the characters of Going Through The Change they were involved in a climactic brawl at the end of a search for answers. Change Of Life by Samantha Bryant begins several months after the events of book one. Patricia who can turn into a lizard like creature is still trying to find her former friend and scientist Cindy Lu who has changed from a 67-year-old woman to a young girl. We also have Leonel who changed from a woman to a man and Jessica who can now fly. They have joined a top-secret organization called The Department and are training to be super spies

Jessica and Leonel believe they are using their powers for something greater and Patricia feels abandoned by them. Things start to get more complicated as Patricia gets kidnapped and the clues to what happened point to a dead man. Jessica, Leonel and the Department lead a search for her that raises more questions than answers.

What I liked most about this book was how Samantha Bryant makes her characters realistic. First of all who ever heard of a superhero going through menopause? The subplots are what made this book stand out for me, the characters may have superpowers but they are dealing with real world issues too. Leonel has a new career as a department spy and now doesn’t have time to be the housewife and mother she use to but she doesn’t want to give up her job. Jessica is dealing with a failed marriage, two young kids and a possible new love interest and Patricia is dealing with retirement and her new body. Also the reason these women have powers in the first place is because they were all taking something to help them with their aging bodies. Change Of Life may be about superheroes but a lot of depth and detail goes into each character.

There are some great action sequences in this book also, I loved the part where  Jessica takes  her test to join the department. Her mission is to retrieve a package from a building full of armed spies, she completes her task and manages to beat up on two department operatives in the process. I found myself cheering for Jessica as she went through her test, this is a woman who is a cancer survivor and mother who has now gained new powers and mastered them. Even the minor characters have a lot going on, I loved the reaction of her new boss Sally Ann who has some interesting powers herself. I’m hoping to see a lot more of Helen and Cindy Lu in book three, they have small roles in this book and I liked seeing how different they are from book one.

Change of Life takes what happens in the first book in a new direction. While the first one was an orgin story this one builds on that and adds a spy element to the superhero storyline. Think Agents of Shield meets The X files or at least that’s what I was thinking as I read it. Above all else this is a human drama disguised as a superhero spy story. I love these characters and watching them deal with the changes they are going through and I’m looking forward to the next book.