Monday, December 31, 2012

Tony Bertauski - Claus: Legend of the Fat Man

8. Claus: Legend of the Fat Man by Tony Bertauski (2012)
The Chronicles of Claus Series Book 1
Length: 326 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Started: 25 December 2012
Finished: 31 December 2012
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Tony Bertauski for sending me a copy of this book to read.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 8 July 2012
Why do I have it? I like fantasy and Tony Bertauski is a new author for me.

In the early 1800's, a family of explorers, Nicholas, Jessica and Jon Santa attempt the first human trek to the North Pole. The family stumbles upon an ancient race of people left over from the Ice Age. They are short, fat and hairy, slide across the ice on scaly soles and carve their homes in the ice that floats on the Arctic Ocean. The elven race has adapted to life in the extreme cold. They are as wise as they are ancient.

Their scientific advancements have yielded many great inventions - time-stopping devices, gravitational spheres that build living snowmen and genetically-modified reindeer that can leap great distances. They've even unlocked the secrets of aging. For 40,000 years, they have lived in peace.

Until now.

An elven known as The Cold One has divided his people. He is tired of their seclusion and wants to conquer the world. Only one elven stands between The Cold One and total chaos - he is white-bearded and red-coated. The Santa family will help him stop The Cold One. They will come to the aid of a legendary eleven known as...Claus.

I have to say that I loved this book! I have been suffering from the flu for about a week and a half and truly haven't been feeling the Christmas spirit for quite a while because I was so ill. I picked up Claus: Legend of the Fat Man on Christmas Day on a whim and was completely drawn in from the first page. This is an unexpected twist on the legend of Santa Claus that I thoroughly enjoyed! I give this book an A+! and am looking forward to reading another book by Tony Bertauski that I have on my TBR pile, The Annihilation of Foreverland as soon as possible.

A+! - (96-100%)

May you read well and often

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

May you all have a Blessed Christmas!

zwani.com myspace graphic comments
Zwani Graphics

I have to be honest with you all, what with all the recent violence that has occurred in the past months, both Mom and I have felt that Christmas sort of sneaked up on us this year. We both usually are filled with the holiday spirit for the entire month of December, but this year we were filled with intense sadness for all the families who lost loved ones in such horrible circumstances.

Added to that sadness, we are both suffering terrible bouts of the flu. Because neither of us could sleep very well, we found ourselves up and about at 4:45 A. M. It was snowing rather heavily, but we were so incredibly happy to have a white Christmas - I don't believe that we had one last year - that we didn't really mind the snow falling.

We opened our gifts at about 5:30 A. M. I asked if we could say a prayer for all the people that were killed in Connecticut and elsewhere before we opened our presents. We spent an hour opening our gifts and then went back to bed for a while. Between us, we received some really amazing gifts, and all in all we enjoyed a quiet Christmas together.

 May you read well and often

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Linda Hays-Gibbs - My Angel, my Light as Darkness Falls

7. My Angel, my Light as Darkness Falls by Linda Hays-Gibbs (2012)
Morovani's Daughters Series Book 1
Length: 166 pages
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Started: 20 December 2012
Finished: 23 December 2012
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Linda for sending me a copy of this book to read.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 31 May 2012
Why do I have it? I like paranormal romance and Linda Hays-Gibbs is a new author for me.

Lady Elizabeth Prudence White - Pru to family and friends - is just about to have her "coming out" by Regency England standards. Her twin brother, Michael David Densington White - the sixth Earl of White - as her only surviving relative has enlisted to fight Napoleon, but Michael assures Pru that nothing will happen to him. At a ball held on the day that Napoleon attacks, Fearghass MacDonald - the Duke of Sumerled - much to Michael's consternation, introduces himself to Pru and asks if he may court her.

Word comes that Napoleon is on the march, and amid the ensuing commotion that this news brings, Fearghass promises Pru that he will protect her brother during the battle. Unfortunately, neither Michael nor Fearghass return. Pru goes to the battlefield to search for them and finds her brother's body as darkness falls. Fearing that she will lose her mind because she is so terrified, Pru believes that she is imagining the warm, strong arms that hold her during that long night.

Pierre Blanchard - a courier for Napoleon's army - realizes that he must return quickly to make his report, however he must first locate his friend's body. He is suddenly drawn to the golden-haired angel, weeping and wailing on the battlefield and, although he knows it's impossible, he loses his heart to her. Pierre promises himself that he will not reveal himself to her, but he knows that he has to see that she is safe.

In the morning, Pru persuades a passing soldier to help her transport her brother's body home, as well as the body of an unknown soldier whose dog wants his master taken with them. Pru and the dog escort the bodies back to England. Pru is destitute, and follows the dog aimlessly until he takes her to a crumbling, run-down castle. There, with the clandestine help of Pierre and the dog she has named Knight, Pru hopes to live in peace for a time.

Under God's protection, and with the protection of an angel sent from her brother, Michael; Pru has no idea that her display of grief had actually interrupted the original plans of something demonic. This presence has now followed Pru home to finish what it started - turning Fearghass MacDonald and Pierre Blanchard into vampires. Bound to this phantom existence by his promise to Pru and by the duties of his title, Fearghass MacDonald must guard this castle until the new Duke of Sumerled - his twin brother - arrives.

Fearghass MacDonald is aware that he was murdered, however it wasn't by the French. Dughlass must be warned that his life is in danger and then the darkness that has invaded Fearghass' home must be vanquished. Then, with God's grace, Pru would be allowed to freely make her choice between Dughlass or Pierre.

Dughlass MacDonald returns home and is totally amazed by the disrepair his home has fallen into. He can see that someone has attempted to clean up, however no one appears to greet him - not even Fearghass, who was supposed to be there. Sable, his brother's loyal dog is there to greet Dughlass, however, the dog appears not to recognize him. Dughlass has no idea what is going on, but he intends to have his answers from the alluring young woman who has just tumbled down the stairs, landing at his feet.

I really enjoyed this book and loved almost all the characters. I found myself laughing and rolling my eyes at some of their actions. There were twists and turns in the plot that grabbed my attention and kept me reading. I give this book an A! and look forward to reading Linda Hays-Gibbs' next book sometime in the very near future.

 A! - (90-95%)

May you read well and often

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Jan Fischer-Wade - Veiled Virtues

6. Veiled Virtues by Jan Fischer-Wade (2012)
The Rosetta Guard Series Book 1
Length: 225 pages
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Started: 13 December 2012
Finished: 19 December 2012
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Jan for sending me a copy of this book to read.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 8 February 2012
Why do I have it? I like paranormal romance and Jan Fischer-Wade is a new author for me.

When Paige Stewart left America to house-sit for family friends in England for the summer, her only thoughts were to escape her controlling mother and to have fun. Little did she know that her working holiday would find her hearing eerie voices, experiencing alarming dreams and bleeding from old scars. Although Paige's differences confuse and disgust her, she eventually opens up to the owner of a strange metaphysical store in town, where she finds much more than tarot cards and crystals.

Soon Paige is stalked like prized game, becoming a pawn in the ancient battle that constantly rages between good and evil. Relentlessly pursued, her holiday takes a turn for the eerie and dangerous. Her only saving grace may be the modern-day English knight who sweeps her off her feet and recognizes the hidden virtues that the American teenager unknowingly possesses.

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book as I always enjoy stories that are full of intrigue and elements of the paranormal and supernatural. I give this book an A+! and am eagerly awaiting the sequel,  Latent Legacy.

A+! - (96-100%)

May you read well and often

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Publishing Hearts Connecticut Online Auction to Benefit the Victims and Families of the Sandy Hook Shooting


On December 18, 2012 I received an email from young adult author, S. R. Johannes - author of the best-selling Nature of Grace series and the tween paranormal, On the Bright Side. She and two very caring and devastated ladies - Miral Sattar and Kate Tilton - have joined forces to host a fundraiser within the publishing industry. The auction began on December 17, 2012 at 9 A. M. EST and all money raised will go to help The Sandy Hook Relief Fund to benefit the victims' families.

As Shelli herself says,
"We are devastated about the tragic events that happened last Friday. As parents, we are horrified. It cut me so deeply I needed to do something with that energy and make it positive. Maybe help in some small way. We understand that money could never replace any lives." 
"But from my perspective - as a parent, mother, I needed to do something to give back. I have children 5 and 8. They attend an elementary school in our neighborhood. We actually went through a lock down last year due to an armed robber in our neighborhood."
"In the end, all the children were fine and there were no events. But, I know the feeling of receiving that robo call about a lock down at the school and the quiet desperation I felt waiting to find out my kids were safe. I cannot imagine how I would feel if things had gone differently. We were obviously the lucky ones.

For more information: 

Check out the list of items
The auction rules
What to expect?

If you do not see any items you need/want, please consider donating directly to the United Way!

If you have any questions, please email me at shelli@srjohannes.com.


The picture used above comes directly from the Publishing Hearts Connecticut website, and no copyright infringement is intended. 

May you read well and often

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Connie Corcoran Wilson - Hellfire and Damnation II

5. Hellfire and Damnation II by Connie Corcoran Wilson (2012)
The Hellfire and Damnation Series Book 2
Length: 170 pages
Genre: Horror
Started: 11 December 2012
Finished: 13 December 2012
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Tracee at Pump up Your Book for sending me a copy of this book to read.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 17 November 2012
Why do I have it? I love Connie Corcoran Wilson as an author and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

Hellfire and Damnation II is the sequel to Connie Corcoran Wilson's first book of short stories that she published in 2011. This book is another tour of Dante's 'Nine Circles of Hell' from his Inferno. It features eleven original short stories: from the 132-year-old corpse of Norwegian immigrant Ole Monson seeking revenge against the living for the desecration of his final resting place in 'Cold Corpse Carnival' to the most intimate betrayal suffered between two brothers in 'The Bureau'. Each story highlights its particular Circle in a novel way, but is partially based on fact as explained by the author at the end.

I really enjoyed this book - it was suitably horrific for me. Each story is well-crafted and believable, and I found myself very satisfied with each story's pacing. I give Hellfire and Damnation II an A+! and I look forward to reading more books by Connie Corcoran Wilson in the very near future!

A+! - (96-100%) 

May you read well and often

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Connie Corcoran, Author of The Color of Evil and Hellfire and Damnation II, Talks About the Evolution of Both Books

I would very much like to welcome Connie Corcoran Wilson, author of the two non-fiction titles - It Came From the '70s: From The Godfather to Apocalypse Now and Laughing Through Life, as well as several other books. Ms. Wilson was nice enough to answer some questions for me about her two newest titles: The Color of Evil and Hellfire and Damnation II as well as her future plans. Thank you so much for stopping by Emeraldfire's Bookmark, Ms. Wilson, and I wish you all the best now and in the future!


Meet Connie Corcoran Wilson:

Connie Corcoran Wilson has published 10 books since 2003. Hellfire and Damnation (www.HellfireandDamnationtheBook.com) came out in February, 2010. Her three volumes of true ghost stories of Route 66 (Ghostly Tales of Route 66, www.GhostlyTalesofRoute66.com) are out from Quixote and in E-book format from Quad City Press. Her first book (Training the Teacher as a Champion) was published by PLS Bookstores in 1989. Her sci fi novel Out of Time was published by Lachesis in 2008 and the screenplay written based on the book was a winner in a "Writer's Digest" competition. Her 2 humor collections are Both Sides Now (2003) and Laughing Through Life (2011). Her illustrated children's book, The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats was released at Christmas in 2011.

Hellfire and Damnation II was released July 28, 2012 in E-book format and in paperback shortly after (The Merry Blacksmith Press.) Her nonfiction book showcasing many of the movie reviews written for the Quad City Times between 1970 and 1979 made up the bulk of the book, along with 76 photos, major cast and interactive trivia.

Synopsis of The Color of Evil:


Tad McGreevy has a power that he has never revealed, not even to his life-long best friend, Stevie Scranton. When Tad looks at others, he sees colors. These auras tell Tad whether a person is good or evil. At night, Tad dreams about the evil-doers, reliving their crimes in horrifyingly vivid detail.
But Tad doesn't know if the evil acts he witnesses in his nightmares are happening now, are already over, or are going to occur in the future. He has no control over the horrifying visions. He has been told (by his parents) never to speak of his power. All Tad knows is that he wants to protect those he loves. And he wants the bad dreams to stop. 

At Tad's eighth birthday party (April 1, 1995) in Cedar Falls, Iowa, the clown his parents hire to entertain Tad's third-grade classmates is one of the bad people. Pogo, the Killer Clown (aka Michael Clay) is a serial killer. So begins 53 nights of terror as Tad relives Pogo's crime, awakens screaming, and recites the terrifying details to his disbelieving family. The situation becomes so dire that Tad is hospitalized in a private institution under the care of a psychiatrist--who also does not believe the small boy's stories.

And then the police arrest Pogo, the Killer Clown.

Flash forward to the beginning of Tad's junior year in high school, 8 years later. Tad is 16 and recovered from the spring of his third-grade year. When Michael Clay was caught and imprisoned, the crime spree ended and so did Tad's bad dreams.

Until now, in the year of our Lord 2003, when evil once again stalks the land.

This is a terrifying, intense story of the dark people and places that lurk just beneath the surface of seemingly normal small-town America. As one reviewer says, "Wilson nails the darkness beneath the surface of small-town Midwestern life with an intense story based on fact." 

Tad must wage a silent war against those who would harm the ones he loves. A battle to the death.



Coming to Amazon on January 11, 2012!

Synopsis of Hellfire and Damnation II: 

Hellfire and Damnation II is the sequel to the award-winning short story collection released in 2011 with a framing device of Dante's Inferno and the 9 Circles of Hell and sins/crimes punished at each. (www.HellfireAndDamnationTheBook.com).
The first book won an E-Lit award, plus Silver Feather, NABE and Pinnacle awards. The book is unique in featuring illustrations with each story, and it also has a "From the Author" section that tells what inspired each story. It is 56,000 words long and has a cover by award-winning artist Vincent Chong of the U.K. The stories have variant settings, but it is not necessary to have read the first collection to enjoy the second.


Coming to Amazon on July 28, 2012!


Emeraldfire's Bookmark: After writing two non-fiction books, what interested you to begin writing books in the horror genre?

Connie Corcoran Wilson: I have been writing for over half a century and was hired by Performance Learning Systems, Inc. (of Emerson, NJ) to write their book Training the Teacher As A Champion, which was published by PLS in 1989. My next book, in 2003 (Both Sides Now), followed on the heels of the sale of my 2 businesses. (I had founded and run a Sylvan Learning Center in Bettendorf, IA, and a Prometric Testing Center there from 1987 and 1995, repectively).

When I sold my two businesses, I wanted to fulfill my life-long dream of trying to write "one of everything." I dabbled in humor (Both Sides Now and Laughing Through Life), wrote a Writer's Digest award-winning screenplay based on a sci-fi book in 2007(Out of Time), wrote that science fiction book (Out of Time, published by Lachesis and now out of print), wrote a children's book for my twin granddaughters (The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats) and began writing short stories, which became Hellfire and Damnation. I've always loved Stephen King's book NightShift and the short stories of William F. Nolan (Nightworlds) and other such psychological, supernatural suspenseful thrillers. I wouldn't call what I write "horror" so much as dark suspense or dark thrillers.

I had never written fiction until 2008, when I began collecting and recording the Ghostly Tales of Route 66 while driving cross country on the Mother Road (3 volumes) as "work for hire". That led to short stories, which were first published as Hellfire and Damnation and were framed by Dante's Inferno and the sins or crimes punished at each of the 9 Circles of Hell. Later, I decided there would be a series of these Hellfire and Damnation books, and that is why there is a dedicated website (www.HellfireAndDamnationTheBook.com), as there is for www.GhostlyTalesofRoute66.com. The Color of Evil also has one (www.TheColorOfEvil.com).

Emeraldfire's Bookmark: How did you come up with the plot of "The Color of Evil" series?

Connie Corcoran Wilson: The Color of Evil came from expanding a short story in the first Hellfire and Damnation collection, which featured Tad McGreevy. That story was entitled "Living in Hell." (It was originally titled "Pufferfish," but I changed that title to fit the H and D theme.) I felt bad about leaving Tad in the situation he was in when the story ended; he was in bad shape. I decided to write him out of the corner I had left him in. There will probably be 3 more books in the series, the way the characters are dictating the plot to me. The next book (Red Is for Rage) will take the students to the middle of their senior year, at the end of the first semester. The third book will take them from the end of first semester to the end of the school year. There may be a fourth book taking the characters to freshman year in college. I guess I won't know until I begin writing more of the other books. (I hope to release Red Is for Rage in early 2013.)

Emeraldfire's Bookmark: Having never read Dante's "Inferno" myself, (I know, 'shocked face'! :)) what would interest me as a new reader in "Hellfire and Damnation" I and II?

Connie Corcoran Wilson: The stories stand on their own and do not have to be read in any particular order. You can read "H&D II" before or after "H&D," the first book, although I recommend starting at the beginning if you can. That is one thing I like: there is complete variety to the series as far as plots, settings and writing styles; the stories are all written in different ways, and you do not HAVE to have read the first book to appreciate and enjoy the second. There are no recurring characters, as there are in The Color of Evil. Each story is a stand-alone experience, and readers will have to determine which ones they like best. If it leads them to, at some point, read the classic original book, so much the better.

Emeraldfire's Bookmark: You have said that both books of Hellfire and Damnation are based on Dante's Inferno - Is that through plot construction or writing style?

Connie Corcoran Wilson: The stories needed a "framing" device." When I collected funny essays or stories (for Laughing Through Life) one criticism was that there was no "frame" to hold them together. that was because the humorous essays had appeared in at least 5 different newspapers or online, and there was really no 'frame" that worked. I considered a variety of "framing" options, but the one that I kept returning to was Dante's Inferno. (The 7 deadly sins had been done in 2 movies and the zodiac had been done and various other "framing" ideas were already out there.) I'm quite happy with using the device over and over, because there are so many sins or crimes punished at each of the 9 Circles of Hell. (I had to remind myself of that by checking it out on the Internet.) The two hardest for me to write have been "Gluttony" and "Heresy." As far as writing style, I just write the way I write: it isn't copied from anyone else, (including Dante.)

Emeraldfire's Bookmark: Give me a little 'sneak peek' if you can - How will the characters develop throughout The Color of Evil series?

Connie Corcoran Wilson: They're young people perched at the very beginning of their lives. They are about to graduate and some will go on to college, and some will marry, and some will leave Cedar Falls to go elsewhere to school, if the series goes on into college, as I think now that it will. The characters are in a state of flux at all times, because they are young and there are many things happening to them, including a classic struggle between good and evil in the person of a demented serial killer who is attempting to silence the young boy (Tad McGreevy) that he thinks could "out" him as he is attempting to evade the law There is romance, crime, horror, intrigue, betrayal---all the good stuff that I like to read about, myself and which I hope my readers will like to read. (No vampires or werewolves; just Carrie meets The Fury meets television's The Medium.)

Emeraldfire's Bookmark: What are your possible future plans for your writing career?

Connie Corcoran Wilson: Great question, Mareena! I was not aware I was forging a "career" until I began looking at this as "writing long," which means writing books, rather than simply short articles for newspapers or blogs. I've done that (writing short) for years (57, to be precise). I decided, when the E-book revolution began to really be talked about and become a reality, that I would try to become a publisher of e-books, anyway, and I have. I own all the e-book rights to my last 6 books, although I've had other small, independent print publishers. I see this as the third Chapter of my life:

I taught others how to write for many years (33, to be precise). I raised 2 kids (the youngest is 25). I always wanted to write for a living, and now I can follow that dream in retirement, even if I'm getting a bit of a late start. Writing short is great fun (and, still, more lucrative, for me. than my books. I was named 2008 Content Producer of the Year for Politics by Yahoo, which has 600,000 members), but a short article, of which I have literally thousands online, does not "stay" or hang around for years.

I may be like Philip K. Dick, who was not lauded during his lifetime but only achieved critical success after his death (some reviewers have mentioned us in the same breath, and I am flattered). Or, more famously, Van Gogh, who only sold ONE painting while he was alive. But I try to do the very best I can with the skill and talent God gave me. I hope to leave behind some good books that my children can take down off the shelf and say, "My mother (or grandmother) wrote this." I hope the reaction will be positive and somebody, some day, somewhere, will say, "You know...she really was a good writer."

May you read well and often

Connie Corcoran Wilson - The Color of Evil

4. The Color of Evil by Connie Corcoran Wilson (2012)
The Color of Evil Series Book 1
Length: 279 pages
Genre: Horror
Started: 20 November 2012
Finished: 11 December 2012
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Tracee at Pump up Your Book for sending me a copy of this book to read.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 17 November 2012
Why do I have it? I love Connie Corcoran Wilson as an author and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

Tad McGreevy has a secret power that he has never revealed, not even to his best friend Stevie Scranton. When he looks at others, Tad can see their auras - the colors around people that tell Tad if they are good or evil. At night, Tad dreams of the evil-doers, reliving their crimes in graphic and horrifying detail. But Tad never can tell if the crimes in his nightmares are happening right at the moment, have already happened, or will happen in the future.

He has been told by his parents never to speak of his powers. All Tad knows is that he wants to protect the people that he loves. And he desperately wants the nightmares to stop.

At Tad's eighth birthday party, the clown his parents hire to entertain Tad's third-grade classmates is just such an evil person. Michael Clay, masquerading as Pogo the Clown during his day job, is a serial killer. So begins 53 nights of terror for Tad and his family, as Pogo goes on a murder spree, and a distraught Tad relives each murder in gruesome detail, then awakens screaming to recite each murder to his disbelieving family. The situation becomes so dire that Tad is hospitalized in a private institution under the care of a psychiatrist, who also doesn't believe the small boy's stories.

And then, the police arrest Pogo the Killer Clown.

It is eight years later, and Tad is sixteen years old, just entering his junior year in high school. He is fully recovered from the events that happened in the spring of his third-grade year. Michael Clay was arrested and sent to prison for life. His crime spree ended with his incarceration, as did Tad's nightmares. Tad's experiences are nothing more than dim and distant memories to him. Until now, in 2003, when evil once again stalks the night.

I really enjoyed this book and was drawn into the story from the first sentence. I really felt for the characters and look forward to discovering what will happen throughout the next books. I give this book an A+! and am looking forward to reading the next book in this series, Red is For Rage.

A+! - (96-100%)

May you read well and often

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Reading Wrap-up For November at Emeraldfire's Bookmark

Hello everyone out there and I hope that you all had a terrific reading month for yourselves. I am known as Emeraldfire around the Internet and this is my new personal reading blog.
Anyway, I started out November with about two hundred unread books lying around the house and ended the month with...umm...uncountable amounts of books unread. All of the books that I acquired this month came from authors.

Let me try to break down the influx for you:

Changes to the TBR pile 

Read from my TBR pile (Yes! I am a reading machine :))
- Taken by Norma-Jean Marie Connors

Added to my TBR pile (oh well, you win some and you lose some! :))
- Amanda's Story by Brian O'Grady
- The Prophet by Ethan Cross
- Sweat by Mark Gilleo
- Running With the Train by Kathryn Meyer Griffith
- The Color of Evil by Connie Corcoran Wilson

Taken off my TBR pile and sent to a new home (Yay! Happy Dance! :))
- Taken by Norma-Jean Marie Connors
- The Turn of the Karmic Wheel by Monica M. Brinkman

Well, there it is...the breakdown! All in all, not a very good reading month for me. Here's a further breakdown:

Books Read: 1
Pages Read: 404
Grade Range: A!

So, there you go! The reading month that was November. I hope that you all had an equally good reading month; if not a little better. :) See you all next month! :)

May you read well and often