Thursday, January 18, 2018

Guest Blog: The Dark Proposal by Megan Cashman

UFI welcomes Author Megan Cashman. Thanks for Joining us!!

No two vampires are the same. What I mean by that is, it seems like vampires in each book, movie or TV show have their own appearances, powers, and blood drinking requirements. Sometimes these characteristics are based on folklore (the Eastern European of the vampire has had a big influence on how we see vampires these days) or at times, the author creates their own version (I never heard of vampires sparkling before "Twilight").

So I say it is safe to say writers of vampire stories got their ideas from various sources - as did I. In this post, I will discuss where the characteristics of my vampires in my book, "The Dark Proposal", came from.

Firstly, let me lay out what those characteristics are:

  • very pale skin that turns into a healthier tone after feeding,
  • the ability to read minds and erase thoughts,
  • move at a very quick speed (think True Blood),
  • turn into mist,
  • no need to sleep in coffins,
  • being able to walk around in daylight or even overcasts after many centuries,
  • superhuman physical strength,
  • heightened hearing and seeing,
Some of my vampires also have difficulty stopping themselves from consuming blood from a person, which leads to suspicious deaths among humans.

So how did I come up with these traits? Allow me to explain:

Very pale skin that turns into healthier tone after feeding: Almost white skin I think is one of the hallmarks of a vampire. Having one without pale skin is like not giving a vampire fangs. It also comes from Slavic folklore that a vampire was spotted by its pale skin that turned ruddy after feeding. Plus, for my trilogy, there needs to be something suspicious about their appearance. Without the skin issue, there's no hint that something is off someone.

The ability to read minds and erase thoughts: Many vampires have done this and I think it can come from the heightened senses these undead creatures have. If they can hear and see things humans cannot see, why not human thoughts? And since I have my vampires inherit supernatural abilities, why not also erase human thoughts if necessary? If you are wondering why my vampires do not hypnotize people, like Dracula did or the vampires on True Blood, well, I did think about that. But it wouldn't have worked for my book. If Daniel was able to make Claire say and do things through hypnosis, then my story had no point, would be boring, be done in 50 pages, with the whole idea down the drain. Plus, I didn't want my vampires to be too much like their True Blood counterparts.

Speaking of True Blood...

Move at a very quick speed: Honestly, I gave my vampires this skill because I think it is so cool to see them zip around a room in a blink of an eye. Also, when I wrote the scene where Daniel proved to Claire that he's a vampire, I just had to have him to do that. It worked so perfectly.

Turn into mist: Comes in handy, basically. I loved the 1992 flick, "Bram Stoker's Dracula" by Francis Ford Coppola, and the way it showed Dracula turning into green mist. While the mist in stories aren't green, it is still a fascinating ability to have. It adds to the mystery and fear of the vampire.

No need to sleep in coffins: I really didn't like the idea of a vampire sleeping in a coffin, even if it is basically a dead creature. It was just too archaic for me. I was also inspired by one of my favorite vampire books as a young teen, Christopher Pike's "The Last Vampire" series. His vampire heroine, Sita, didn't use a coffin and slept in a bed like anyone else.

Which leads to the next trait inspired by Mr. Pike's books...

Being able to walk around in daylight or even overcasts after many centuries: This was something Sita was able to do, although not every single day since the sun would exhaust her after a while. I also had always wondered if a vampire could walk around during a cloudy, rainy day. After all, there is no sun to fry him, right? But I do think being able to deal with some sunlight is best for more mature vampires because age does make them stronger. At least for mine.

Superhuman physical strength: Because my vampires got their traits from ancient tribal gods, why wouldn't they have the power and strength of those deities? Same goes for heightened hearing and seeing. Vampires are supposed to be, to me at least, creatures that we fear. We fear them not simply because they can kill or torment us, but because they have the supernatural ability to hunt us down easily, get us to do things other humans aren't able to, and go mostly unnoticeable in everyday life. It's hard to fear something or someone who isn't two notches stronger or skilled than you.
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Born and raised on Staten Island, NY, Megan Cashman currently lives in Brooklyn, where she can be seen checking out the borough’s numerous coffee shops to work on her writing projects. She has a Masters’ degree in journalism, and has worked for cable news, both local and national, as well as a major New York newspaper. She is currently a freelance journalist and an adjunct professor at the City University of New York (CUNY). When she’s not writing or teaching, Megan can be seen taking nature photos with her iPhone, crocheting, doing yoga and Pilates, and trying out new dinner recipes.

Find Megan and her books
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The Dark Proposal
The End of Eternity #1 
Amazon Smashwords
A young woman copes with being forced to become a vampire as the man she loves reveals he is more evil than she can comprehend.

Claire McCormick has graduated from college and is eager for her new life to begin. She thought it would happen when she began dating Daniel Bertrand, who was everything she wanted in a boyfriend. But just as her dreams are about to come true, Claire’s life is turned upside down when Daniel reveals to be a bloodthirsty vampire, with the intent on making her his eternal companion. Frightened, Claire desperately tries to rid herself of him, but Daniel is too evil to defeat. She has to come to terms with reality, as she faces a vampire world fighting to survive in modern times, with many of them unaware of how devious Daniel can be.

The Dark Proposal is the first book in a trilogy that follows what becomes of Claire and the vampires.

WARNING: contains thematic elements, explicit content and some strong language
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/zw7ih2c9GN4

 Excerpt:

There was a pregnant pause with both waiting for the other to speak or make the first move. For a second, she wondered if this was going to be the moment he would make her like him or kill her instead.
“No, Claire,” he spoke suddenly. She jumped, startled. “It’s up to you to say yes. And remember I did tell you I can read your thoughts.”
“Then please stop, because you’re freaking me out,” she said.
He arched one eyebrow, and for a moment, she feared he would attack her. But instead, he crossed one arm across his chest and put the opposite hand under his chin, as though contemplating something.
“I see you’ve accepted somewhat of what I revealed to you,” he finally said.
“A little.” She felt like she was preparing for war.
“What?” He sounded curious. “Is there something else you can’t comprehend?”
“Yeah,” she said in a shaky voice. Her eyes were downcast, and when she was ready, she lifted them to look right at him. “I did some research while in New Jersey. There’s a lot of websites about real vampires.”
“Yes?” Daniel raised his eyebrows.
Taking a deep breath, she said, “I think you killed Colin Willis.”
His face expressionless, he lowered his arms and closed his eyes, shaking his head. He ran one hand over his face as Claire continued.
“I read a blog about his murder. There are rumors going around that he had two holes on the side of his neck. There was no blood in his body.” She swallowed and asked, almost pleading, “Did you really do it? Honestly, Dan?”
Removing his hand, he looked right at her and said, “I think you know the answer to that question.”
She did, and whatever hope she had that he did not murder Willis quickly dissolved. She began to pant in horror at first, but then in anger. “I mean, you knew as everyone else that there was no evidence of foul play,” he was saying, nonchalantly watching her. “Plus, there were no suspects -”
Claire suddenly pounced on Daniel, arms flailing as she hit him in the face and chest. She was screaming about him being a murderer and how evil he was.
It didn’t last long because he soon caught her flying fists and held a tight grip on her wrists, holding them away from him. His grip was beyond solid, like a steel machine, and his eyes were hollow with rage. For a moment, she thought he was going to attack her again. No, he was going to kill her. She dared to hit him, dared to defy him and now she would pay the price.
He held her in his harsh eyes for a moment, and then shoved her hands away, practically pushing her away from him. “Honestly, who else would’ve done it?”


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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Review: How to Save an Undead Life by Hailey Edwards

How to Save an Undead Life
Release Date: August 19, 2017
Publisher: Self-Published
ASIN:   B074YDTNBS
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Purchased

Grier Woolworth spends her nights weaving spooky tales of lost souls and tragedies for tourists on the streets of downtown Savannah. Hoop skirt and parasol aside, it's not a bad gig. The pay is crap, but the tips keep the lights on in her personal haunted mansion and her pantry stocked with ramen.

Life is about as normal as it gets for an ex-necromancer hiding among humans. Until the society that excommunicated Grier offers her a second chance at being more than ordinary. Too bad no one warned her the trouble with being extraordinary is it can get you killed.

Warning: This book contains one ex-con/ex-heiress with a pet zombie parakeet who lives next door to her ex-army/ex-crush. Brace yourselves, we're talking more exes than a pirate treasure map here.
I picked up HOW TO SAVE AN UNDEAD LIFE because I was in a rut of not wanting to read anything I had and not sure what I wanted to read next and I am beyond glad that I did. I LOVED it. It was nothing like I expected and everything I didn't know I wanted.

Grier has not had it easy and it looks like easy is not a word that is in her future. I don't know how she kept it together and at times she has a hard time doing it, but she was SO strong when most would have given up and it endeared me to her from the start.

The necromancer part of the book is different and surprisingly enjoyable. Instead of dealing with zombies, necromancers turn those with enough money into vampires. It was a nice surprise. The world was also really enjoyable. There is different hierarchies of both necromancers and vampires and although we don't get as much information about this as I would have liked, we do get enough information so that we understand what the differences between the different groups are.

I really can't explain how much I enjoyed this book enough. The characters were fantastic, the mystery was mysterious, there's a bit of romance, I loved the twists and turns and didn't expect a lot of them. I enjoyed learning about Grier's past and I'm rooting for her future. I seriously just loved everything about HOW TO SAVE AN UNDEAD LIFE and I'm beyond excited to read more. 

I gave it 5/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Monday, January 15, 2018

Promo: Legend by K.N. Lee


Legend
Dragon Rising #1
Amazon

Dive into the world of fallen angels, dragon shifters, demons, and vampires in the Dragon Rising novellas, where one woman must decide if she is content with hiding, or if she will grab her sword, shield, and armor to fight the evil destroying our world. Fans of The Vampire Diaries and True Blood will love Legend.
An angel. Two dragons. A demon. Rae must confront her past to protect her future. But, how can she fight evil when its so intriguing?

Once a general in the Divine Army, Rae now spends her days masquerading as a human. Falling in love with the handsome surgeon in her hospital was dangerous enough. But, when her demon ex-boyfriend starts stalking her, he is the worst of her problems. A powerful dragon shifter wants her in his harem, and will do anything to get her, even destroy the world to win her heart.

New York Times bestselling author, K.N. Lee presents a unique urban fantasy world that mixed sword and sorcery with paranormal romance. Download your copy of this fast-paced novella serial today!

Trigger Warning: Adult situations, violence, cliffhanger ending. For mature audiences.
THIS IS A SERIAL/SERIES OF NOVELLAS. EXPECT SHORT, ACTION-PACKED FANTASY
 
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K.N. Lee is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. When she is not writing twisted tales, fantasy novels, and dark poetry, she does a great deal of traveling and promotes other authors. Wannabe rockstar, foreign language enthusiast, and anime geek, K.N. Lee also enjoys helping others reach their writing and publishing goals. She is a winner of the Elevate Lifestyle Top 30 Under 30 "Future Leaders of Charlotte" award for her success as a writer, business owner, and for community service.

She is signed with Captive Quill Press and Patchwork Press.


Find K.N. Lee and her books
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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Week in Review: 1/7-1/13



Books Received for Review

The Myth Manifestation by Lisa Shearin
Judgment Road by Christine Feehan

Books I've Read

The Emerald Lily by Juliette Cross
How to Save an Undead Life by Hailey Edwards
How to Claim and Undead Soul by Hailey Edwards

Reviews Posted

The Collectors' Society Series by Heather Lyons

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* New Releases for the week. Was there anything you were looking forward to reading?

* Monday- I want to know....What books are you most excited about in 2018?

* Wednesday- DNF's of 2017

* Friday- Guest Blog + Giveaway for Storm Crossed by Dani Harper

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* Did you know you can follow UFI on these other sites?

You can also add me (as in Stacy) to your friends on these sites if you're on them.
 

 * I love comments so if you see something you like (or not) please comment away and let me know.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Guest Blog + Giveaway: Storm Crossed by Dani Harper


UFI welcomes Author Dani Harper. Thanks for Joining us!!

Did you ever think of the setting of a story as a character by itself?

Palouse Falls becomes a faery portal in Storm Crossed Photo credit: Bigstock.com

Imagine it -- the smells, the sounds, the sights, the feel. The direction and strength of the wind, and the long light cast at sunset that caresses the land just so. The brick face of an old downtown building that’s still radiating the heat of the day after dark. There’s a tangible chemistry there that’s almost a presence.

I’ve been fortunate to live in some amazing places, so it’s been very natural for those places to appear in my paranormal novels. My first wolfen shapeshifter series took place in northern Canada and Alaska, for instance. Not only did I write my surroundings into my stories, my surroundings often inspired the stories.

There are two main settings for my new Grim Series. One is the immortal faery realm beneath the country of Wales. For that, I resort to a wealth of old legends, stories I was told as a child, my imagination and dreams, and occasionally Google Earth.

But the magical realism in any of the Grim novels—comprising most of the story—is firmly set in present-day eastern Washington State. This is where my mountain man husband and I landed when we left Alaska. I’m fascinated by the arid landscape around me, a combination of jutting rock and rolling hills, enormous boulders and silver-green sagebrush. This land was scoured by the torrential flooding of ancient inland seas and monstrous glaciers, then blanketed with soft windblown silt that grows just about anything. It’s a wonderland of fascinating geographic features in unexpected places.
And a vast new faery territory lies beneath it...

In Storm Crossed, my latest standalone in the series, the spotlight is on the incredible Palouse Falls. There, the water freefalls about 200 feet into a great round rock basin of blue-green water – a perfect portal for the fae! It’s a place I visit frequently. Sometimes for picnics, sometimes for research, but more often just to walk around and allow my characters to talk to me.

Fortunately for me, they talked a lot for this book! As in the old legends, actions in the immortal faery realm impact the mortal world. And in Storm Crossed, modern humans are not only affected but actively involved. I love to place ordinary people into extraordinary situations, and see how they respond – in fact, I think that’s why I love writing paranormal and fantasy romances so much. What do you do when the impossible is standing in front of you? Is your life changed for good or ill? Are you changed?

With this story, things have been turned around a little… What effects could a mortal have on a fae? 
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Legend, lore, love, and magic. These are the hallmarks of Dani Harper’s transformational tales of faeries, shapeshifters, ghosts, and more, for a mature audience. 
A former newspaper editor, Dani’s passion for all things supernatural led her to a second career writing fiction. There isn't anything she likes better than exploring myths and legends from many cultures, which serve to inspire her sizzling and suspenseful stories.

A longtime resident of the Canadian north and southeastern Alaska, she now lives in rural Washington with her retired mountain-man husband. Together they do battle with runaway garden gnomes, rampant fruit trees, and a roving herd of predatory chickens.

Dani Harper is the author of Storm Crossed, Storm Warned, Storm Bound, Storm Warrior (the Grim Series), as well as First Bite (Dark Wolf), for Montlake Romance. She is also the author of a Yuletide ghost story, The Holiday Spirit, plus a popular shapeshifter series, which includes Changeling Moon, Changeling Dream, and Changeling Dawn.

Find Dani and her books
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Storm Crossed
Grim #4
Amazon
The latest stand-alone novel in Dani Harper’s Grim Series will delight old and new fans alike, transporting them to the ancient fae realm beneath the modern human world, where magic rules and menace abounds…

Heir to a noble fae house, Trahern is forced to watch helplessly as his twin brother is cruelly changed into a grim—a death dog—as punishment for falling in love with the wrong person. Trahern doesn’t believe love exists, but he will do anything to keep his brother alive—even join the Wild Hunt and ride the night skies of the human world.

Lissy Santiago-Callahan believes in love but has no time for it. She’s busy juggling her career as an academic and her home life as a single mom to a young son with Asperger’s. Her hectic life in sleepy Eastern Washington is made even more chaotic with the sudden arrival of a demanding fae and his unusual “dog.”

Mortal and immortal have nothing in common, and the attraction between Lissy and Trahern surprises them both. But when their desire places Lissy and her child in the path of a deadly faery feud, will the connection last, or will their separate worlds prove too great a divide?

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Series Review: The Collectors' Society by Heather Lyons

The Collectors' Society
Hidden Library
The Forgotten Mountain 
The Lost Codex
Publisher: Cerulean Books
Genre: New Adult Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Purchased


This series was recommended to me when I asked for suggestions on Facebook. It took me a while to start them, but once I did I didn't want to put them down.

THE COLLECTORS' SOCIETY was a great introduction to the series. I loved the alternate take on the different fairy tales and the way the author brought them to life.

THE HIDDEN LIBRARY started off  a little slow, but kept me guessing. I enjoyed diving more into her character and learning more about her past. I have to admit that I was truly heartbroken to learn all that Alice has had to give up and endure. 

THE FORGOTTEN MOUNTAIN wasn't my favorite of the series. A few things got a bit tiresome and boring at times and I didn't feel like there was a lot of progression in book three.

I can't say the series ended like I expected in THE LOST CODEX, but it totally worked.  I would love to read more in this world, but it ended well.

I loved all of the characters. Again, I found it so neat the way the author made their stories and characters come to life and the different spins she put on them. The romance was great. I have to admit that once I found out about the White King I was kind of sad that him and Alice had to part and was kinda looking for a way for them to be together again. BUT I really fell in love with Alice and Finn and couldn't imagine either with any other characters.

This is one of those series that I would love to see come to life on the big screen. I would pre-buy my tickets and be in the first showing.

I gave the series 4/5 stars