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Guest Post with Samantha Durante!!!

Published July 10, 2013 by crysbookreviews

A Profile of Evil: the Engineers by Samantha Durante, author of the Stitch Trilogy

As readers learned in Shudder (or got a glimpse of in the sneak peek at the back of Stitch), the true villains in the Stitch Trilogy are not the Ruling Class (the elite high society governing over the citizens of Paragon), but a small group of crafty baddies (also known as the Engineers) who masterminded the entire colony and put the Ruling Class in power. Following is a quick cheat sheet with a profile of each of the individuals within the Engineers:

The Developer

Role: Architect behind the entire Paragon scheme and de facto leader of the Engineers

Skills/Experience: Talented software programmer/hacker, world’s youngest billionaire after launching an online social media outlet that eventually grew to include almost every individual on the planet

Appearance: Your classic computer nerd – lanky, greasy hair, glasses, t-shirt, whiny voice

Defining Traits: Intelligent, arrogant, impatient, brusque

Classic Quote: “Zombie apocalypse. The people eat that garbage up.”

The General

Role: Leads Paragon’s military and prison, delegates labor assignments to citizens, also organized a secret ring of forced concubines

Skills/Experience: Previously the head of the government’s mandatory civil service program, had access to classified military intelligence including stolen research on the “stitch” technology

Appearance: Shorter in stature, handsome except for cold dark eyes and rasping voice, scar across lips

Defining Traits: Cruel, brash, misogynistic, defensive

Classic Quote: “I say we make an example of her, send a message to the rebels that we won’t tolerate their insubordination any longer. Stupid bitch.”

The Doctor

Role: Oversees Paragon’s medical center, including administering the “stitch” and researching the viral outbreak

Skills/Experience: A leading world geneticist who mapped the human genome and studied the role of trait inheritance in species survival

Appearance: Silver-haired, tall, trim, often seen in a long white lab coat

Defining Traits: Severe, logical, calculating, dry

Classic Quote: “The memory alteration research mentioned some, well, unfortunate side effects…”

The Economist

Role: Guides the Ruling Class in their deliberations to determine Paragon’s future structure and laws

Skills/Experience: Built a quiet legacy in academia studying socialist economics and espousing the merits of a communist government

Appearance: Middle-aged, boyish face, side-parted hair, slight stutter

Defining Traits: Nervous, idealistic, fervent, warm

Classic Quote: “Just imagine it – no hunger, no poverty, no war. Ever. Never again. We’ve learned from the m-mistakes of those who came before us, and we are building upon the foundation they laid to create something more.”

The Draftsman

Role: Manages daily operations of the colony, including logistics for food, shelter, power, maintenance, sanitation, infrastructure, etc.

Skills/Experience: An experienced engineer with expertise across the fields of mechanical, electrical, and structural engineering

Appearance: Older, plump, thick gray beard/whiskers, glasses, soft-spoken

Defining Traits: Paternal, practical, craven

Classic Quote: “But the plans were already in motion, whether I got on board or not. Perhaps I’m a coward, but I quickly realized that I was better off with them than against them. You think on that now.”

Want to know more? Get to know the Engineers in Shudder, Book 2 of the Stitch Trilogy!

If you haven’t read Stitch yet, you definitely should!!! You can see my review of that amazing book HERE.

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Guest Post by Cindy C. Bennett!!!!

Published February 17, 2013 by crysbookreviews

Trends in Books

As in everything else, books tend to go through trends. Vampires and werewolves dominated for a time, dystopian overshadowed all else for a while, zombies have taken up arms (and eaten them), now it seems to be fairytales. Is this a bad thing?

Personally, I don’t think so. Anything that causes would-be writers to pick up the pen (or keyboard as it may be) can’t be a bad thing. If a trend hits that sparks someone’s creative bone and pulls a story out of them, then we the readers win. I’ve discovered some amazing new writers in the midst of various trends.

When the dystopian craze hit, it was like a smorgasbord for me. I love dystopian novels. I think it comes from my childhood love of Star Wars. The Star Wars universe is like dystopian in reverse—the universe before it was civilized. Dystopian is the world after civilization collapses. It seems to be ebbing a bit, but I still can’t get enough of it. I hope that even if it isn’t the current “trend” that it continues to inspire others to write. That’s one genre I’m scared to death to tackle because I just don’t have that specific kind of creativity. So I need others to write it for me.

When fairytales first poked their head onto the scene, I was pretty happy. Okay, it’s more like I was giddy. I love, love, love fairytales. From my first viewing of Cinderella on VHS (!) when I was a kid I was hooked. I’ve long wanted to write retellings, but was afraid no one would care enough to read them. It took someone with more courage than me to decide they were worth throwing out into the world once again, and I happily leapt on the train.

I think the bottom line is that we’re all drawn in by the romanticism of all of the trends. I mean, who knew zombies could be romantic, and yet there are several romantic zombie stories popping up. Whatever trend is current, the underlying theme seems to always be love and hope, that our hero and heroine can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles and keep their love intact while doing so.

So from my point of view, I say bring on the trends. Because bringing them on brings on new and exciting stories that we can all lose ourselves in, and what else is reading for but to be transported to someone else’s universe for just a little while.

 

THANKS so much for doing this Cindy!!!

 

Guest Post by Samantha Durante, author of Stitch

Published October 20, 2012 by crysbookreviews

EPIC Plot Twists: A List of Favorites from Samantha Durante, author of Stitch

 

Thanks so much to Crystal for hosting the Stitch Blog Tour today!

 

Over the course of the tour, it’s been SO much fun for me to share my work with readers and hear reviewers’ reactions to the book.  And in all the reviews and comments I’ve read, there’s been one common theme running through them all: “I never saw that coming!”

 

Those five little words make my heart swell, because there’s nothing I love more than an EPIC plot twist!  For some reason I’ve been blessed (or perhaps cursed!) with an uncanny knack for guessing where a plot is going, and I’m often disappointed to find that I’ve inferred the direction of story before I even make it to the halfway point.  So whenever a twist really takes me by surprise, it makes an impression.  To celebrate the awesomeness of out-of-the-ballpark plot twists, here’s a quick recounting of some of my favorites:

 

****WARNING: MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD!!!****

 

The Sixth Sense

 

Whoa, whoa!  Bruce Willis has been DEAD this whole time??  And the kid knew???  Insane.  I did NOT see that coming!

 

Game of Thrones

 

Okay, George R. R. Martin has pretty much proven himself to be the master of the epic twist, and as much as I HATE him for continually killing off all my favorite characters (especially the wolves!  I love the wolves!), I have to give credit where credit is due: Game of Thrones keeps me on my toes.  And while there are oodles of amazing twists to choose from in this series, I have to select the Red Wedding as the one that stands out most in my find.  FINALLY things are starting to look up for the Starks, my heart is all melty since Robb is in love, the Freys are being uncharacteristically gracious about Robb’s faux pas – and then they all walk into a slaughter.  Just WRENCHING.  I still cringe just thinking of it.

 

Star Wars Episode III

 

Okay, okay, we all watched Episodes 4-6 first, so we knew Anakin Skywalker was going to turn evil, that’s no surprise.  But then I spent all of Episodes 1 and 2 falling in love with him despite his flaws (and Hayden Christensen’s acting…), and I knew he would be redeemed in the end, so I was willing to cut him a little slack.  After all, poor Anakin was dealt quite a hand in life, and his love for Padme was SO deep that he just went a little psycho when she died – that’s excusable, right?  Except then he went and SLAUGHTERED ALL THE YOUNGLINGS at the Jedi Temple!  WTF Anakin??  That is NOT okay.  This was brutal.  And, I’m sorry to say, unforgivable.  Luke should have let him die on the Death Star like he deserved.  Oh, Anakin, I feel so betrayed.

 

Sharon Shinn’s Samaria Series

 

 

I had no idea what I was getting into with this series.  Funny story – one of my roommates in college said she was recommended Archangel by a friend, but she got the impression from the cover that it was a religious book, and knowing I was Catholic, thought maybe I might like it and gave it to me instead.  Now, I ended up LOVING this book, but not for any reason having to do with my religion.  I loved this series because it initially presents itself as a romance between angels and humans on a carefully constructed world where the angels sing to God for sustenance and medicine and rain, but you find out in the second book that GOD IS A SPACESHIP and the angels are genetically engineered humans and all of these people are refugees from a long-ago ravaged Earth.  WHOA!  That was about the LAST thing I was expecting from this nice fluffy romance novel, and it totally knocked my socks off.  I loved the series even when I thought it was just an angel romance, but that sci-fi twist brought me to my knees in worship at the altar of Sharon Shinn.  Just amazing.

 

Portal

 

After finishing the game Half-Life 2, my husband decided he would play the puzzle game, Portal, which came bundled with it since I was sitting on the couch ignoring him while engrossed in some book.  Initially we were just expecting a simple problem-solving game, where you need to use physics and a neat portal-opening gun to get yourself from one side of each room to the other as your character wanders through some kind of run-down testing environment.

 

There was pretty much no background provided besides some prompts from a female computer voice that guided you through the stages.  The voice (GLaDOS) said some quirky things which were mildly entertaining (“Please place the Weighted Storage Cube on the Fifteen Hundred Megawatt Aperture Science Heavy Duty Super-Colliding Super Button.”  “Perfect. Please move quickly to the chamber lock, as the effects of prolonged exposure to the Button are not part of this test.”), but we didn’t think much of it.  I continued reading my book on the couch while he enjoyed his game and that was that.

 

Until I hear GLaDOS say, “”Please note that we have added a consequence for failure. Any contact with the chamber floor will result in an ‘unsatisfactory’ mark on your official testing record followed by death. Good luck!”  I looked up from my book and said to my husband, “Did she just say that?”  He shrugged an, “I guess so,” and continued on with his game.  And the comments continued to get weirder and weirder.  “Frankly, this chamber was a mistake. If we were you, we would quit now.  No one will blame you for giving up. In fact, quitting at this point is a perfectly reasonable response.  Quit now and cake will be served immediately.”

 

Cake?  Really?  At this point my interest was piqued and I put my book down.  And sure enough, as the game continued, GLaDOS’s character developed and we soon realized that there was much more to this little add-on puzzle game than we expected.  In addition to the fun and challenging puzzles (which often required the two of us working together to solve), there was an engaging storyline filled with memorable quips and even a boss battle against – you’ll never guess it – GLaDOS herself!  Yes, the seemingly helpful computer turns on you in a most vicious way, and you must seek her out and destroy her to save yourself, even as she tries to manipulate you into not doing so (“Well, you found me. Congratulations. Was it worth it?  Because despite your violent behavior, the only thing you’ve managed to break so far is my heart.”).

 

And the best part?  Once you finally reach the end, you are rewarded with an awesome song sung by GLaDOS herself.  This game was about the best lazy Sunday afternoon surprise I’ve ever had.

 

****END OF SPOILERS****

 

Guest Post by Courtney Cole!

Published September 29, 2012 by crysbookreviews

Guest Blog Post for Courtney Cole

 * * *

Courtney Cole as You’ve Never Seen Her

So, you may know that my Twitter handle is @CourtwritesYA.  The YA, of course, stands for Young Adult.  I’ve written ten books and all of them are YA and NA.  EXCEPT for my newest release, Of Blood and Bone.

 

What the heck?  Courtney Cole wrote adult fiction??  This seems to be a common question that I’m hearing this past week or two.   And the answer is…. Heck yeah, I did.   Of Blood and Bone contains a LOT of adult content…racy sex, seduction, violence.  There’s even some blood.   You know, the good stuff.  And it is not PG-13 in any way, shape or form.

 

Why did I do this?   Well.  Simply put… I wanted to.

 

One day, a couple of years ago, I was watching Dexter (the Showtime series about a serial killer) and for some reason, a storyline popped into my head about a woman who fell in love with a serial killer.  The more I thought about it, the more I tweaked it.  It would be a dark romance, not a thriller.  The MC wouldn’t be a serial killer, but he would be someone with dark issues.  He would be good on the inside, but he would be ‘damaged’ and he would hate himself because of this ’affliction.’ I eventually decided that he would have some sort of a Dr.Jekyll/Mr.Hyde complex.  The story kept evolving.

 

And eventually Of Blood and Bone was born.  But I didn’t write it right away.  I put it off because it is so not something a YA writer should write. To do it up the right way, it should contain everything that YA shouldn’t.

 

But with the release of so much darker stuff this year, I decided that now was the time.  And so I wrote it.  And I love it.  In my opinion, it’s the best thing I’ve done so far.  The two things that I hear the most about it are:  “Wow!  I’ve never seen Courtney Cole like that!”  and “It was amazing– I thought about that book for days after I read it.”  Both things make me smile…because you truly haven’t seen Courtney Cole quite like this.

 

Here’s the blurb:

 

Love is dangerous…

“I’m a monster, Eva. There is no saving a monster. But I love that you want to try.”
My heart constricts at the expression on his face. He has no hope for himself, so I have to hope for him.
“You’re not a monster,” I argue softly. “You’re a man, Luca. A man like any other, you’re made of blood and bone.”

As a little boy, Luca Minaldi was told he was a monster.
As an adult, he knows it is true.

He lives in Malta, a fairytale-like place filled with sunshine and sea, beauty and secrets. And Luca’s darkest of secrets is the best kept of them all.

Eva Talbot is spending the summer in Malta to finish up her doctoral dissertation. When she meets Luca, a mysterious and handsome shipping tycoon, there is an instant attraction, a disturbing and beautiful energy that she has never felt before. But she senses the darkness that lives within him.

Eva is hired to care for his mother, who suffers from dementia, but it is Luca who Eva will eventually risk everything to save. Her life becomes a swirling chaos of darkness and romance, of secrets and mystery. And the question that emerges will become the most important answer of all.

Can she save Luca from the darkness that plagues him without losing herself?

The answer is a matter of life or death.

 

And a short excerpt (from Eva’s point of view):

“Evangeline,” he says softly, his dark eyes glued to mine. “I’m so sorry about the other night.  I wish I could remember.  I wish I could take it back.”

“I don’t,” I tell him honestly.  “I really don’t.”

He gazes out the window for a scant moment more, seemingly deep in thought, before he crosses the room to me.  He kneels in front of me and looks into my eyes.  In this moment, he is as vulnerable as I’ve ever seen him, as I’ve ever seen anyone. He’s completely open to me, hiding nothing.

I want so desperately to kiss him.

“I can’t,” I tell his dark eyes, praying that I don’t fall into them.  “I want to kiss you right now.  But I can’t. You’re my patient.  There are ethics…”

Luca shakes his head, his hands on my knees and his gaze upon mine.  “You aren’t my doctor, Evangeline.  You’re my friend.  I’m simply talking to a friend who wants to help me tonight.  You’re not licensed to practice medicine in Malta, remember?  So where does that leave your ethics?”

He smiles wolfishly and waits without moving.  He’s offering himself to me.  I know that.  And it is against his better judgment. He has told me that, as well.  Yet here he is, on his knees in front of me.

I suck in a breath and inhale the air that is so charged with everything that Luca is.

Whatever that is.

It is dangerous on many levels.  I know that.

I reach out unsure fingers and trace the top of his shoulders, moving over the contours.  They are so broad, yet so slender at once.  He’s perfectly built.  Strong, lithe and powerful.  I drop my head.  I know that I don’t want to resist him anymore.  For the first time in my life, I’m going to do something that my heart wants to do, not what my head tells me to do.

I grip him tighter with my fingers and pull him to me.  He folds in between my knees, pressing me to his chest.  I can hear his heart thumping rhythmically against mine as my fingers linger on his warm back.

He dips his head and presses his forehead to mine, staring into my eyes.  His are a smoldering and stormy black.

“I’m afraid to get close to you,” he tells me.  “I’m afraid for you.”

“I’m not,” I whisper.  “I’m not afraid of you.  Kiss me, Luca.”

Even I can hear the thick desire in my voice and Luca hears it too.

He groans and covers my mouth with his own, muffling the sound with my lips.  He is pressed so close that he seems to absorb me.  Every plane of his body is against every plane of mine.  I don’t know where he stops and where I start, but it doesn’t matter.  All that matters is him and me and this.

* * *

That scene continues on to become quite steamy.  Seriously, I had a fan on my desk for writing moments like those.  Haha.  I’m just kidding.  Or am I?

 

Of Blood and Bone is the first book in new trilogy, The Minaldi Legacy.  It is available here  on Amazon and here  on Barnes and Noble.com

 

Check it out and see why people are saying, “Holy moly!  I’ve never seen Courtney Cole like that!!”

 

I really hope that when you do, you’ll like what you see.  J

Guest Post by Magan Vernon!!!

Published August 20, 2012 by crysbookreviews

Magan here, the author…obviously, to tell you some secrets of My Paper Heart.

Elsbury, Louisiana– Is it a real place? No, but it is rooted in something real. There is a sign between St. Louis and Lake of the Ozarks, MO that says “Elsberry Louisiana” and points to an exit. I actually thought the exit lead to a town in Missouri and thought “WOW, Louisiana IS SO CLOSE TO MISSOURI!” It turns out…it’s not. Those are both just towns in Missouri. But it did give me the idea for a name for the town Libby moves to. The extra ‘R’ was removed because I got tired of spell check telling me it was wrong and changed it and a ‘U” was added.

Libby Gentry– Libby’s real name is Elizabeth Grace Gentry, but when I first started this book her name was Olivia Grace Gentry. I ended up liking the name Olivia so much I gave it to my own daughter and with some of the scenes in the book (sexxxxxxxxx), I didn’t want to think of my own daughter in that way and promptly changed Libby’s name to Elizabeth.

Blaine Crabtree– Blaine’s name was a harder one. For a long time he was just “hot guy with blue eyes” and then I got a glimpse of Blaine Gabbert, former Mizzou quarterback. Talk about swoon worthy. I combined that with former Texas Tech player, Michael Crabtree, and College football added a whole new hottness to the novel.

Aunt Dee’s shop- Aunt Dee’s shop was originally a newspaper office and Libby writes an article that gets her back in to college. I can’t exactly pinpoint why I removed it from being a newspaper office, but one of the big reasons was because my in-laws own and run a newspaper in mid-Missouri and I learned quickly that there was a whole lot more to running a newspaper than I thought there was when I first wrote the book. Thus, Aunt Dee ended up with an antique shop and almost 10K was cute from the book…partly because it also wasn’t that exciting, I would have rather had more kissing scenes than newspaper office scenes.

The Ending- How can I say this without giving away spoilers? Originally, the ending was simple and *poof* Libby and Blaine were just in love and I neglected anything about Libby going back to school. That obviously doesn’t work because Libby failing out of college is a big point of the novel. Thus, the ending changed and it became a little less predictable and at one point I loved Blaine and at another I really just wanted someone to punch him. Maybe in the sequel someone can…

Thank you so much for having me here! I hope you and all your readers enjoy My Paper Heart

*************************************************************************

There are worse things in life than failing out of college- such as having your
parents receive the letter that you’ve been kicked out.
Now to appease her
parents self-proclaimed sorority princess Libby Gentry is packing up her Prada
bag and heading to work for her great aunt’s antique shop in tiny Elsbury,
Louisiana. She’s pretty sure she can tackle the swamp and deal with her great
aunt and tom boy of a little cousin, but what she doesn’t know is if she can
handle the local town playboy, Blaine Crabtree.

As Libby’s feelings for
Blaine grow, so does her need for acceptance and all of the insecurities she has
kept inside are coming out. She may have survived the Louisiana swamp, but she
may not survive Blaine’s reluctance to say the ‘L’ word. When Blaine finally
commits to the three words Libby’s been waiting for, she only hopes they haven’t
come too late.
Available now for Amazon and wherever Ebooks are sold!
**************************************************************************

Magan started out writing Olympic fan fiction and then transitioned into writing Young Adult and New Adult. Her debut novel, How to Date an Alien, is currently free wherever Ebooks are sold. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her daughter and husband, who just happens to have the same birth date as the Olympic speed skater she used to write fan fiction about. Find her online at www.maganvernon.com