Selection Box Reviews- Caramel delight- Chic lit

perfectThe Perfect Match by Katie Fforde

The wonderfully romantic new novel from the No. 1 Sunday Times bestselling author of Recipe for Love.

Three years ago Bella Castle left her home town nursing a broken heart over Dominic Thane, the man she fell in love with but couldn’t have …

Now she’s made a new life for herself in the country, working as an estate agent.

Bella loves her job and she loves her boyfriend Nevil. But recently he’s been preoccupied, and she’s starting to question if his future hopes and dreams are a perfect match for hers.

And when Dominic turns up unexpectedly in search of his dream house, she begins to wonder if home is really where the heart is. But she’s over him, isn’t she?

perfect meme

This was a highly anticipated book for myself. I really enjoyed it. I loved the secondary story lines and wanted a bit more of that.

I don’t know if I agree with some of Bella’s actions and at times I found her to be a bit of a scaredy cat. I wanted to yell at her to stop being such a door mat. I think perhaps that is part of Bella’s charm because it is a journey for her- to find her inner strength.

The Perfect Match is a very enjoyable read and just the perfect book to take on holiday or to curl up on the couch with.

 

herb

The Herb Gardener by Maris Morton

 

Still hurting after a painful divorce, Joanna leaves the city, moving with her six-year-old daughter Mia to a country town. She’s looking for a better, happier life, and when she meets farmer Chris Youngman, she discovers the possibility of a future as a farmer’s wife.

Joanna is at first dismayed by the unexpected isolation of the farm, but Chris’s affection helps her to adjust. Then the unexplained death of a young farm worker brings complications she could never have imagined, and Joanna has to fight for her happiness, her family, and even her own life.

 

I am a big fan of Australian fiction and this book exceeded expectations. It was the perfect blend of mystery and romance. From the start you are dropped right in the middle of the action. Slowly you get to know these characters by deed and reaction; It is very refreshing not always to have to be told.

The countryside is beautifully described and comes alive on the page. It made me want to look up Berricap on a map to see if that town really exists.

The Herb Gardener is one of those book that the sub plots are so tightly knitted together that everything mergers with the main plot and keeps you riveted right until the end. It is really hard not to give anything away, but this book has one of the most unique endings I have ever read before.

This is an undiscovered gem of Australian fiction, as well as being a great mystery that will keep you guessing until the end.

 

heartbentA Heart bent out of shape by Emylia Hall

For Hadley Dunn, life so far has been uneventful—no great loves, no searing losses. But that’s before she decides to spend a year studying in the glittering Swiss city of Lausanne, a place that feels alive with promise. Here Hadley meets Kristina, a beautiful but elusive Danish girl, and the two quickly form the strongest of bonds. Yet one November night, as the first snows of winter arrive, tragedy strikes.

Hadley, left reeling and guilt-stricken, begins to lean on the only other person to whom she feels close, her American Literature professor Joel Wilson. But as the pair try to uncover the truth of what happened that night, their tentative friendship heads into forbidden territory. And before long a line is irrevocably crossed, everything changes, and two already complicated lives take an even more dangerous course…

 

 

A heart bent out of shape is set in Lausanne Switzerland and offers the most breath-taking frosty setting. It is a slow burning mystery with plenty of sub plots. The characters are so beautifully crafted that you are immediately drawn into the story.

Hadley is a true representation of a young woman off on her own in the world alone for the first time. It is also a great depiction of the bonds and friendships that she forms along the way.

A Heart bent out of shape is a wonderfully crafted book with an amazing setting. This book has it all: suspense, mystery, friendship, first love and a young woman finding her place in the world.

The heart of the book is a mystery. Like all great mysteries, this one keeps you guessing right until the end. I highly recommend this book. It is an excellent read.

 

 

Review: What happens in Nashville by Angela Britnell

nashWhat Happens in Nashville by Angela Britnell

“What happens in Nashville, stays in Nashville!’
Claire Buchan is hardly over the moon about the prospect of her sister’s hen party; travelling from the UK to Nashville, Tennessee, for a week of honky-tonks, karaoke and cowboys. Certainly not straight-laced Claire’s idea of a good time, what with her lawyer job and sensible boyfriend, Philip.
But then she doesn’t bank on meeting Rafe Castello. On the surface, Rafe fits the cowboy stereotype with his handsome looks and roguish charm but as he and Claire get to know each other, she realises there is far more to him than meets the eye.
Can Claire keep to the holiday mantra of ‘what happens in Nashville, stays in Nashville’ or will she find that some things are far too difficult to simply leave behind?

A novella of approximately 35,000 words

This is an adorable romantic comedy that will bring some sunshine into your day.

Claire goes to Nashville as part of her sister’s hen party. While she is there she finds herself. Promptly ending her long term relationship with Philip because she realized it can no longer be resuscitated.

Claire and Rafe start off on the wrong foot but she can not help but be attracted to him. I doubt anyone us could. A romance ensues born out of mutual electricity and it soon gets as steamy as the Tennessee humidity.

Rafe is full of surprises. He is a complex character and not just the local eye candy. He is everything a romantic hero should be.

This was a good old Southern fried love story. Being American myself, I could recognize all the locations and wonderful descriptions of all that delicious southern cooking. I came away feeling like I had been to Nashville, that is how vivid the book was.

What happens in Nashville was an effortless read. Put on some country music, sit back with an American style sweet tea and enjoy this wonderful read.

rafe chocChocLit-logo-Web3Choc lit, The publisher of What happens in Nashville by Angela Britnell is running a competition. Visit the website www.choc-lit.co.uk , leave a review for What Happens in Nashville and include how you would describe the character Rafe as a chocolate.

You could win a choc lit novel in their flavour of the month competition.

To show you how easy it is, I will start you off and hopefully inspire you.

“If I could describe Rafe, Angela Britnells Romantic hero from What happens in Nashville in term of chocolate; he would be a Thornton’s Dark Caramel. Seductive on the outside but deliciously soft on the inside- with an added bite!”

Review: No such thing as immortality by Sarah Tranter

imortalityNo Such Thing as Immortality by Sarah Tranter

“I will protect you until the day I die … forever!

A vampire does not have to feel any emotion not of his choosing. And Nathaniel Gray has spent two hundred years choosing not to feel. But when he accidentally runs Rowan Locke off the road, he is inexplicably flooded with everything she’s feeling, and that’s rage, and lots of it.

He is consumed with the need to protect Rowan at all costs including from himself. To Nate, what is happening is unthinkable and is pretty much as unbelievable as the existence of faeries.

But you see, ‘There is no such thing as …immortality.’ 

 

This book has been on my wish list for some months now, and it was worth every moment of my waiting. No such thing as immortality is a beautifully crafted adult vampire love story.

A car crash is what starts it all- and hooks you in. I found I couldn’t put down the book down. Nate is so overprotective at times, he behaves like a mother hen, but it is that fierce loyalty that makes him such an exceptional character.

The thing that impressed me about No such thing as immortality is the portrayal and importance of family and friendship. Usually vampires are shown as solitary creatures but here we have actual family members in Nate’s sister, Elizabeth. It is refreshing to have a vampire marriage (Frederick and Elizabeth) and feature monogamy as theme.

Rowen’s and Nate’s relationship is portrayed honestly. Rowen’s reaction to finding out what Nate truly is- is probably as close to how it would be if you found out the man you loved was a vampire. At no point does it get all dreamy, the author did a wonderful job of dealing with all the practical problems of a vampire to human relationship.

In essence, I think this book is about unconditional love. It is about finding that rarity of a person whom you love more than yourself and would die to protect. Sarah Tranter’s writing is so beautiful and she expresses love so uniquely.

This is another gem of British Vampire fiction, and luckily for us- this is book one of a trilogy.

 

Also not to be missed by Sarah Tranter:

romancingRomancing the soul by Sarah Tranter

“Your Soul Mate is out there! Let a past life lead the way Rachael Jones hasn’t exactly chosen an average career path. She’s a ‘past-life regressionist’ and is now hoping to help her clients find their Soul Mates through reconnecting them with their past lives. But despite her best intentions, there are problems. Rachael made the mistake of regressing her best friend, Susie Morris, who has since been haunted by events that occurred in her past life.
When Susie meets Hollywood actor, George Silbury in unlikely circumstances, she is completely unprepared for her reactions. There’s an intense mutual attraction that neither can explain nor ignore.
Can George help Susie to overcome the sense of desolation she feels as the result of her past-life regression or will history’s habit of repeating itself ruin all chances of her finding happiness?

 

 

 

irishOn March 17, 2014 I reviewed “Beneath an Irish sky” by Isabella Connor. Isabella Connor is the pen name for two very talented ladies who wrote this book transatlanticaly. Liv Thomas lives in the U.K. and Valerie Olteanu lives in Canada. Today I caught up with one half of this dynamica duo- Liv Thomas. She stopped by to answer a few vampire questions and to tell us what she and Valerie Olteanu is doing next:

EPBR: Would you ever write a vampire novel?

LT: It’s not currently on the agenda, but never say never. I’d have to learn a bit more about the topic before I’d ever contemplate it, though I’ve learned a bit from Being Human (which I loved) and books by Jane Lovering, Sarah Tranter and Berni Stevens – the first vampire stories I read.

EPBR: What is your favourite vampire book and or film?

LT:I did like The Lost Boys, way back in the 80s. Maybe because there was a lot of humour in it, and it wasn’t too graphic. As mentioned above, I enjoyed the books by Sarah, Bernie and Jane. I also like The Mortal Instruments – series, though haven’t caught the movie yet.

aiden
EPBR:Who is your favourite vampire?

LT:Definitely Mitchell from Being Human. And Aidan Turner, who plays Mitchell, is a werewolf in The Mortal Instruments – City of Bones. Obviously trying to see both sides of the coin!

EPBR: You and Valerie Olteanu are working on a new book titled “An Irish Promise”, can you tell us about that?

LT: An Irish Promise is a book about the long-term effects of bullying on a young girl in a small Irish village, and how it also impacts on her family, and in later years, the bullies themselves. This is the blurb:

“Rachel Ford has returned to the Irish village of Kilbrook intent on keeping her promise to take revenge on the school bullies who ruined her childhood and destroyed her family.

Australian actor Finn MacKenzie sets hearts fluttering when he turns up in sleepy Kilbrook to help his aunt with a school production. He seems to have a charmed life, yet his confident façade hides heartbreak and tragedy.

When Finn and Rachel meet, there’s a definite spark between them, and she is torn between her desire for revenge and this new love affair. She doesn’t want to deceive Finn, but can she trust him to keep her real identity a secret? And will he understand why she must keep her promise, no matter the cost?”

Thank you Liv Thomas and Valerie Oltneau, I can not wait for “An Irish Promise”.

 

amandaI managed to pull Amanda James from away from her keyboard to answer some vampire questions for us. It is short and sweet because she is busy writing her next work in progress. I am personally desperate to read her next adventure and I didn’t want to take the very talented Mandy away from her computer for too long.

EPBR: Would you conside writing a vampire book?

AJ: I have no plans in that direction at the moment.

deppEPBR: What is your favourite Vampire book?

AJ: No Such Thing as Immortality by Sarah Tranter. She is such an intense writer and gets across the emotion of her characters in just a few well chosen words. Brilliant!

EPBR: Who is your favourite Vampire?

AJ: Johnny Depp, but I guess it would also have to be Christopher Lee. He’s not what you call sexy, but he is the classic vampire in my mind’s eye.

Great news on the horizon- Amanda James just finished the sequel to “A Stitch in time” and should hit shelves in December.

 

Books by Amanda James:

stitchA Stitch in time  by Amanda James

A time-travel tale á la Dr Who only with a heroine going back to three different periods, making sure people find their happy ending. It is a pure delight according to my reader. –Sarah Broadhurst, The Bookseller, Paperback Preview, December 2012.

Hitch a ride and whisk back in time with a heroine readers will relate to, feel sympathy for and then root on till the finish. James effortlessly creates vibrant characters and places them in different eras, with each setting spot on. Even the dialogue changes as the time periods do. Readers will be on the edge of their seats from chapter to chapter waiting for the next adventure to begin in this unique, romantic story. ”

 

 

 

seaSomewhere beyond the sea by Amanda James

“When love begins with a lie, where will it end?
Doctor Tristan Ainsworth has returned with his family to the idyllic Cornish village close to where he grew up. The past has taught him some hard lessons, but he’ll do anything to make his wife happy – so what’s making her so withdrawn?
Karen Ainsworth daren’t reveal her true feelings, but knows her husband has put up with her moods for too long. A chance to use her extraordinary singing voice may set her free, so why shouldn’t she take it? Surely her past can’t hurt her now?
As a tide of blackmail and betrayal is unleashed to threaten the foundations of their marriage, Karen and Tristan face a difficult question. Is their love strong enough to face the truth when the truth might cost them everything?

 

dancing Dancing in the rain by Amanda James

“What if the responsibility for preventing a major disaster lay with you?
Jacob Weston has felt like he doesn’t belong for as long as he can remember and the strangely vivid dreams he experiences only serve to make him feel more alone …
But when his job in research science takes him thousands of miles away from what he thought of as home, Jacob finds the mystery of his past begin to unravel. A trip to the breathtaking Monument Valley and an extraordinary encounter with a Navajo guide seem to hold the key to who Jacob really is.
After meeting the beautiful Rosenya Neboyia, Jacob feels he may have found what he’d been searching for. But with this meeting is the discovery that his dreams come with a responsibility, and that responsibility is bigger and scarier than he could have ever imagined …”

 

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Some other vampire themed series you may enjoy:

carriger Soulless by Gail Carriger

“Soulless is a character-driven romp with great worldbuilding and delicious rapier wit that recalls Austen and P.G. Wodehouse.” – io9.com
“Deliciously, vampiricly satiric, a tremendously clever, sexy read.” — Karen Marie Moning, New York Times bestselling author
“”Soulless” has all the delicate charm of a Victorian parasol, and all the wicked force of a Victorian parasol secretly weighted with brass shot and expertly wielded. Ravishing.” — Lev Grossman, author of “The Magicians”

other books in the series:

 

Changeless 2
Blameless 3
Heartless 4
Timeless 5

 

tanyahuffBlood Price by Tanya Huff

It began with blood and death. And Vicki Nelson, PI was at the scene. The victim had been brutally, inhumanly opened up. Messy work. She’d had to cover the corpse with her coat. It had sort of made her feel involved.

 

Now Vicki is caught up in the deadly pursuit of a mass murderer with an inhuman appetite for mayhem and destruction. And her advisor on the case is doing nothing to dampen her growing sense of foreboding. But then, with a being of unspeakable evil stalking the city, only Vicki Nelson would ally herself to Henry Fitzroy, the illegitimate child of Henry VIII and a five-hundred-year-old vampire.

This popular book series was made into a Canadian Televison show called “Blood Ties”.

 

Today’s quiz is “Test your vampire knowledge”. Don’t forget to post us your result and visit the Facebook sister site for more freebies, book recommendations and fun. Happy Reading!

 

 

 

 

Review: Vampire State of Mind by Jane Lovering

VampirestateofmindVampire State of Mind by Jane Lovering

“Jessica Grant knows vampires only too well. She runs the York Council tracker programme making sure that Otherworlders are all where they should be, keeps the filing in order and drinks far too much coffee.

To Jess, vampires are annoying and arrogant and far too sexy for their own good, particularly her ex-colleague Sil, who’s now in charge of Otherworld York. When a demon turns up and threatens not just Jess but the whole world order, she and Sil are forced to work together.

But then Jess turns out to be the key to saving the world, which puts a very different slant on their relationship. The stakes are high. They are also very, very pointy and Jess isn’t afraid to use them – even on the vampire she’s rather afraid she’s falling in love with … 

 

Vampire State of mind is a new and inventive twist on the vampire genre. I really was impressed with this book! A time-slip opens in Wales and it is a door way to other dimensions filled with supernatural beings. They start filtering through to our world and cause havoc. The themes are very Lovecraftian as well as being alternative history at its best.

I can’t remember when I highlighted so many paragraphs in a book before. There were so many funny lines, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. There was one line about using the television show “Buffy the vampire slayer” as an instructional video, that kept me giggling al day.

Jessica and Sil have a bizarre romance. At times it is more hate than love- but it adds another dimension to Sil’s demonic symbiot. There is a lot of the man left behind in their to make an impact. There are some very tender scenes about redemption and salvation towards the end.

Vampire State of mind is a roller coaster ride of excitement with added pithy retorts. It is a must read for Anita Blake and Kelly Armstrong fans.  Jessica Grant is fierce heroine that can not be missed. She is the Yorkshire version of Buffy.

This is Urban Fantasy at it finest and a new chapter in British Vampire Mythology. Jane Lovering injects her trademark humour and plenty of kickass.

Falling Apart is the next book in the series and it is going to be available June 6th, 2014 from Choc lit:

fallingapartFalling Apart by Jane Lovering

“In the mean streets of York, the stakes just got higher – and even pointier.

Jessica Grant liaises with Otherworlders for York Council so she knows that falling in love with a vampire takes a leap of faith. But her lover Sil, the City Vampire in charge of Otherworld York, he wouldn’t run out on her, would he? He wouldn’t let his demon get the better of him. Or would he?

Sil knows there’s a reason for his bad haircut, worse clothes and the trail of bleeding humans in his wake. If only he could remember exactly what he did before someone finds him and shoots him on sight.

With her loyalties already questioned for defending zombies, the Otherworlders no one cares about, Jess must choose which side she’s on, either help her lover or turn him in. Human or Other? Whatever she decides, there’s a high price to pay – and someone to lose”

 

I’m very pleased that I was able to have Jane Lovering answer a few questions for us:

janeEPBR: What inspired you to write VSOM?

JL:I’d read quite a lot of vampire fiction, but it ALL seemed to be completely US-centric, which I, never having been to the States because I am rarely allowed out, couldn’t relate to. Also, all the vampires were so… BUTCH. All Alpha-Males, dedicating to Saving Their Soul Mates (don’t get me started on the soul-mate thing..free will? What free will?). So I decided to write my own take on vampires. If vampires really were real, and really existed in Britain, what would we do? What would they do? Well, there would be a phenomenal amount of paper work involved, and someone would have to do it..and, if vampires used to be purely human, then surely there should be OCD vampires, and shy vampires and pretty rubbish vampires, just like there are people. They can’t ALL be gorgeous alpha-males stalking their soul-mates, because nothing would get done!
BUFFYSTABSo I took the view that vampires lived among us, and went from there…

EPBR: What is your favourite vampire book/film?

JL: I really loved the first few Anita Blake books from Laurel K Hamilton, before she got possessed by the porn fairy and started writing loosely-linked sex scenes. When Anita Blake was just a zombie raising necromancer and the vampires were threatening characters. So I’d probably say Guilty Pleasures is my favourite. Again, it’s US set and the vamps are very…well, I have the feeling bulging thews are probably mentioned somewhere, but I did like the kickass heroine. Before she just became ass.

EPBR: Who is your favourite vampire?

JL: I’m going to hark back to a book very few people have heard of, by Louise Cooper, called ‘In Memory of Sarah Bailey’. The protag in that is a vampire (sort of) called Keith (stop giggling, vampires are allowed to be called Keith). It’s a book I read years and years ago, and one that first made me sit up and take notice of vampires as something other than creatures in black cloaks with suspicious middle-European accents. That’s the vampires, not their cloaks, obviously.

 

Also by Jane Lovering:

 

pleasedont stopPlease Don’t stop themusic by Jane Lovering

 

How much can you hide?
Jemima Hutton is determined to build a successful new life and keep her past a dark secret. Trouble is, her jewellery business looks set to fail – until enigmatic Ben Davies offers to stock her handmade belt buckles in his guitar shop and things start looking up, on all fronts.
But Ben has secrets too. When Jemima finds out he used to be the front man of hugely successful Indie rock band Willow Down, she wants to know more. Why did he desert the band on their US tour? Why is he now a semi-recluse? And the curiosity is mutual – which means that her own secret is no longer safe …

 

starStar Struck by Jane Lovering

“Our memories define us – don’t they?

And Skye Threppel lost most of hers in a car crash that stole the lives of her best friend and fiancé. It’s left scars, inside and out, which have destroyed her career and her confidence.

Skye hopes a trip to the wide dusty landscapes of Nevada – and a TV convention offering the chance to meet the actor she idolises – will help her heal. But she bumps into mysterious writer Jack Whitaker first. He’s a handsome contradiction – cool and intense, with a wild past.

Jack has enough problems already. He isn’t looking for a woman with self-esteem issues and a crush on one of his leading actors. Yet he’s drawn to Skye.

An instant rapport soon becomes intense attraction, but Jack fears they can’t have a future if Skye ever finds out about his past … Will their memories tear them apart, or can they build new ones together?

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Vampire1Romance and the Vampire

What is the primal allure that the vampire possesses? Why is the vampire such a seductive creature. In some ways, the vampire represent who we want to be by appealing to our vanity. We all want to be young and beautiful forever and vampires provides us with that. As part of the package comes the sense of power. The idea of living without fear, or the fear of death is an exceptional cathartic notion. I don’t know how many of us would refuse such an offer. You could argue that immortality is more of a curse than a blessing but it is something that we will never experience as mere humans.

Vampires represent total freedom. They are not tired down jobs or the pursuit of money. They don’t worry about heating bills- instead they flit from one place to another in search of hedonistic pleasures. Sexually they are free to have as many partners as they please regardless of gender. They are predators totally without consequences.

vampire1a

Vampires live off other people by imbibing blood, and they will feed indiscriminately. They have no compassion or empathy for their victims; human are just cattle for eating or playing with. If we look at the traits of the vampire and apply them to a human- you would call that person a psychopath; and it would be very fitting.

Why is that the vampire dances a fine a line of what will set our hearts a blaze and what would result in a restraining order in the real world. This is my problem with the Twilight series; although I did largely enjoy it- I found they got their romance mixed up with creepy. It felt like it was more about possession than loving partnership. Why do we dream of these supernatural scenarios but when they become reality with a human, the word stalker is used.

Fantasy is just that, and should remain in the realm. The kind of relationship between a human and vampire could never exist between humans, because that would be a very unhealthy co- dependant/narcissistic relationship. Probably best leaving the Eric Northmans’ of the vampire world to our dreams and romance novels.

samSamantha Tonge the author of Doubting Abbey stopped by to answer a few vampy questions for us:

 

ST: I would love to write a paranormal book, but not so much a vampire one – much as I love the vampire genre, I wonder what I could contribute to it now. I feel to add something of worth, I would have to come up with something REALLY original, which is difficult since there has already been so many successful takes on the concept.

 

dountingEPBR: What is your favourite vampire film and/or book?

ST: Oh, it has to be Twilight. I LOVED the books and ADORED the film series and have to admit to a wee bit of a crush on vegetarian vampire, Edward Cullen. To me, he is the ultimate romantic hero, torn between desiring the heroine but wanting to do the best for her. A great creation by Stephanie Meyer.

EPBR: Who is your favourite vampire?

ST: Much as I love Edward Cullen, I am also a huge fan of Klaus from The Vampire Diaries and The Originals series. He is a ruthless, unforgiving character who nevertheless occasionally shows glimpses of vulnerability. The baddies are always fun!

Samanatha Tonge has a dectective story in The People’s Friends Special No. 87  April 2nd, 2014 entitled “The Mother’s day jinx” be sure you get yourself a copy- I know I will.

 

 

Here are a few vampire series that are worth having a look at:

saintsOf Saints and shadows by Christopher Golden

A secret sect of the Catholic Church, armed with an ancient book of the undead called The Gospel of Shadows, has been slowly destroying vampires for centuries. Now the book has been stolen, and the sect races to retrieve it before their purpose is discovered: a final purge of all vampires. As the line between saints and shadows grows ominously faint, private eye Peter Octavian is drawn into the search. And he’ll do anything to find the book … for Peter Octavian is also a vampire.
Ostracized by his kindred for refusing to take part in the ‘blood song’, he cannot stand by and watch while they are destroyed. In a deadly game with a driven, sadistic assassin, the trail leads to Venice at the time of carnival, where the Defiant Ones, as the vampires are known, are engaged in a savage battle for their lives. Filled with plot twists, mystery, sex and violent death, Of Saints and Shadows is a spine-tingling thriller which opens the door to the world of The Shadow Saga.

tudorvampBlood of the rose by Kate Pearce

When vampire slayer Rosalind Llewellyn had to join forces with her enemy Christopher Ellis to defeat a rogue vampire threatening Henry VIII, their alliance led to a surprising passion. Reunited after a year’s separation, they now face a new threat that could destroy their last chance at happiness.

Today’s quiz is “Which character from Dracula would you be?” Don’t forget to check out the Facebook page and give us a like. I will be posting other book recommendations, freebie and competitions, so don’t miss out.  We love to hear from you so please post us your quiz result. Happy reading!

Review: Dance Until Dawn by Berni Stevens

berniDance Until Dawn by Berni Stevens

“Do you Believe in Love After Life?

At twenty-five, West-End dancer, Ellie Wakefield should be having the time of her life. The only problem is, since waking up in a three-hundred-year-old vampire’s leaky cellar, Ellie’s been very much dead. And to make matters worse, she’s found that an aversion to blood and a fear of the dark aren’t very helpful – especially when you’re a fledgling vampire.

William James Austen has fallen hard. He’s spent the last year loving Ellie from afar and now he’s finally able to be truthful about who and what he is. As the most powerful vampire in London, he’s used to getting what he wants. But this time, Will might just have bitten off more than he can chew.”

 

I found Dance until Dawn positively seductive! Ellie wakes up in a new gothic world of vampires. She is totally confused and that confusion leads to some of the most humourous one liners. There is some truly wonderful dialogue in the book and that is what carries it to a new level. Most of the early part of the book  is just Ellie and Will in one room getting to know each other and those kind of claustrophobic scenes are very well written. Berni Stevens writes in such a way that there are no distractions; it is just a singularly driven piece of written art.

Will is such a delicious character. He has a very tragic past but he still maintains his humanity. He is a cross between an old-fashioned gothic hero and an empathic modern man. This book really alters the misconceptions of what you may think vampires really are.

What really struck me about Dance Until Dawn was the fact that Will and Elinor were equals. They took turns rescuing another from various spots of bother. I found that very refreshing. I can not wait to see what Berni Steven’s writes next.

 

ericI caught up with Berni Stevens for a few Questions and this is what she had to say:

EPBR:What Inspired you to write dance until dawn?

BS: My inspiration initially was the desire to put London on the vampire map so to speak. The market suddenly became awash with paranormal romances from about 1992 onwards, but they were all American. All the television vampire series were American too, until Toby Whithouse came up with Being Human. (No pressure then!)

EPBR:What is your favourite vampire book and or film?

BS: Favourite book is a given – it has to be Bram Stoker’s Dracula which I have read over and over again. Favourite film is a little more difficult. I love the old Hammer Dracula films with Christopher Lee, even though the scripts leave a lot to be desired, they are still very dark and Gothic, and Christopher Lee is one of the best Draculas ever. (Apparently he detests being associated with the role these days, so he won’t thank me for saying this.) The Hunger, with David Bowie is another favourite, and for sheer madness, Quentin Tarantino’s From Dusk Till Dawn.

chrislee drac

EPBR: Who is your favourite vampire?

BR:t has to be Count Dracula, although I love Spike from Buffy and Eric from True Blood too 

EPBR: What are you working on next?

BR: I’m working on the third book in the series, which features a lovelorn werewolf and a beautiful rock singer!

I’d like to thank Berni for all her support and the wonderful interview. I will be looking out for what she does next. Visit her website to keep up to date with her latest releases.

 

To continue our theme of fresh new vampire novels. No mention could be complete without the next book:

vampsovVampsov 1938: A Spectre haunting Europe by Daniel Ribot

“Ludmilla Vatinashkaya already struggles to balance the challenges of marriage and family with her promising career as a captain in Stalin’s army when she is ordered to direct Vampsov, a covert unit created to fight the most implacable enemies of the Soviet Union: vampires. Astonished and initially skeptical, Ludmilla takes her unit on a thrilling and violent trail of destruction as Vampsov hunts down the blood sucking enemies of Socialism. With the help of Vassily, a dark and brooding creature who denies his very nature for his love of the fledgling Soviet state, they confront the most notorious monster of all in his Transylvanian lair.

Vampsov 1938, brings to life in luscious detail the Stalin-era Soviet Union. Daniel Ribot has beautifully navigated this turbulent page of history to create an an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride that’s hard to put down and impossible to forget. “

Fascist Vampires, The Cold war, Political allegories! This book has it all from fast paced action scenes to political intrigue. I don’t want to say too much and ruin anything for anyone but I was blown away by this book. This is a proper vampire story- no sparkles here. Incredible historical research and all fit in with a non stop thrill ride. Once you start you wont be able to put it down. This is an incredible debut and the author  is on the top of the list of writers to watch out for.

me!bwDaniel Ribot lives in Leicester in the United Kingdom and writes all kinds of stuff up to and including science fiction and urban fantasy. He is too fond of travelling and has spent long periods in France, Mexico, Spain and New Zealand as well as the rain-lashed British Isles. He also holds the only PhD in Mexican comic books on the Eurasian landmass. If the circumstance should arise that he develops any hobbies, interests or any of life’s significant milestones, he promises to let everyone know.

Isaac Asimov, Michael Moorcock and Jules Verne first fired Daniel’s imagination as a reader. His later explorations of particularly Latin American magical realism (Borges, Carpentier, Asturias, Garcia Marquez, Vargas Llosa and Bolaño), opened up his mind to the possibilities of fantasy as a vehicle to express serious ideas. He is a founder member of ‘The Speculators’ (Leicester’s SF/Fantasy writers group) and the Phoenix Writers. Daniel blogs (on writing, music and comics) at: http://floppybootstomp.wordpress.com

I managed to track Dan Ribot down and ask him and answer a few questions for us:

EPBR: What inspired you to write Vampsov 1938: A spectre haunting Europe?

DR:  I was inspired when during a discussion down the pub, I argued that Vampires would make natural Nazis, given their love of blood, soil and aristocracy (‘Count’ Dracula, no less!). My fave vampire film has to be the first Blade because vampire killers should look cool in shades.

EPBR: What are you working on now?

DR: At the moment I am working on the sequel to Vampsov 1938 which I have called (Imaginatively enough) Vampsov 1940. It ties up a lot of the loose ends left over from the first volume including what happened to Lieutenant Gansz and the links between Russia’s vampires and Leon Trotsky. It also develops the relationship between Ludmilla and her husband. So far it has been an entertaining book to write. I hope to have a finished draft in the near future”

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The kettle is on at EPBR because you never know who is going to drop by. Rhoda Baxter is a wonderful novelist with such warmth and wit; has a book coming out in the Summer with Choc lit.

drjanuaryDoctor January by Rhoda Baxter

If you keep looking back, you might miss what’s standing right in front of you …

Six months after a painful break-up from Gordon, Beth’s finally getting her life back on track. She has faith in her own scientific theories and is willing to work hard to prove them. She’s even beginning to see Hibbs, her dedicated lab partner, as more than just a lousy lothario in a lab-coat and goggles.

So when Gordon arrives back from America without warning and expects to be welcomed back into Beth’s arms, she’s totally thrown. She also quickly begins to see that Gordon isn’t the man she thought he was … Hibbs has always held a candle for Beth, but he can only wait so long for her to realise there’s more to life than being patronised and bullied by the one who’s meant to love and protect her.

Will Beth forsee the explosive nature beneath Gordon’s placid surface before he destroys everything she’s worked for, both inside and outside the lab?”

rhodaNow to catch up with the wonderful Rhoda Baxter for some vampy questions:

EPBR: What is your favourite vampire book?

RB: Vampire State of Mind by Jane Lovering (I know Jane’s a friend now, but I was a fan way before I met her. You know what they say ‘don’t meet your heroes, they’ll only get drunk and talk about the Tena lady). I loved this book because it didn’t take vampire sexiness too seriously and mixed the fantastical with the really very normal. Although, come to think of it, that book would never have been written if it weren’t for Buffy…

EPBR: Who is your favourite Vampire?

RB: Lestat from The Vampire Lestat (by Anne Rice). In Lestat you have the ultimate innocent corrupted, a superb villain and a chance for Tom Cruise to really act. What’s not to love?

EPBR: What are you working on next?

RB: Well technically, I’m writing a book about a girl called Olivia who is going to be best man at her best friend’s wedding. But really, I’m procrastinating, writing blog posts, mucking about from Twitter and generally doing anything but writing. I will get to it. Honest I will. I just have to polish the sink again…

Thank you Rhoda Baxter and Dan Ribot- it was a pleasure having you here today. Tomorrow I will be reviewing Jane Lovering’s Vampire State of mind, and I assure you -you are in for a treat!

Today’s quiz is “Which Vampire Diaries character are you?” Don’t forget to visit the FaceBook site to give us a like and find more fun, freebies, competitions and recommendations; and don’t forget to post the results of the quiz. We love hearing from you. Now I will leave you with a classic vampire film: George Hamilton’s “Love at First bite”. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Refuge by Kirsty Ferry

refugeRefuge by Kirsty Ferry

“A legendary dagger in the hands of a vampire slayer… A nineteenth century girl with nowhere left to turn… A modern-day field trip to Lindisfarne… When worlds collide and the only way out is a choice nobody should have to make, where do you find your refuge? Set within the sanctity of the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, off the Northumbrian coast, Refuge is a story interlinking modern day with a dark and terrifying past – and the story of the immortals who carry their hatred with them throughout the centuries.”

This is a multilayered book that spans many timelines. Normally that is very difficult to pull off but not only did Kirsty Ferry pull it off, she left you saying “Ahaa” at the end. This book was so well written, it was almost sculpted. From the start you can feel the gothic atmosphere and it immediately made me think of Stoker.

This really isn’t your predictable Vampire story- anything can happen and it often does, when you least expect it. Kirsty Ferry put a fresh spin on a tired genre by making her characters homicidal – verging on psychotic but yet, devilishly seductive. The relationship between Cassandra and Veva is a very complex and bizarre relationship; it reminded me of Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn in “Death becomes her”.

Refuge is steeped in historical details and it is a thrilling ensemble book who characters all come together for different reasons on a vampirical pilgrimage. These day walking vampires, have centuries of intertwining pasts together but it isn’t until they reach the Refuge, that it all comes to a climactic end.

I loved this book because it was fresh and interesting. I found the characters compelling and exciting. I highly recommend.

 

I was lucky enough to catch up with the author for some questions and answers:

EPBR: What inspired you  to write Refuge?

KF: It started from a romantic pocket novel I tried to write which was terrible – I ended up hating the characters and said jokingly to my cousin at my birthday party, ‘I hate them so much I just want to kill them off . In fact, I might just turn them into vampires or something to get rid of them.’ So she said ‘Do it!’ And I thought, ‘Hmmmm, yep, that would work.’ I wanted to write a story about a local place as well, having used Hadrian’s Wall in my previous novel, and thought I could centre the story on Holy Island – the last place you would expect to find a creature of the night. It all just fell into place from there. And I actually love my characters now. They are far more suited to the dark side of love!

EPBR: Do you have any other vampire plans for more books?

KF: I left Refuge open-ended. There is potential there for another story – I have a couple of characters who I kind of left hanging there subtly to bring them back from the undead again – but I haven’t thought about a plot yet. Maybe one day…

EPBR: Who is your favourite Vampire?

KF: Angel from Buffy- just has to be!

EPBR: What is your favourite book/ and or vampire film?

KF: Oh it has to be bookwise – Berni Steven’s Dance Until Dawn and filmwise, Johnny Depp’s Dark Shadows.

*Tommorow I will be reviewing Berni Steven’s Dance Until Dawn

Also by Kirsty Ferry:

snow kirst

“Three eras. Three young women. Three Guardians, separated by centuries. Aemelia: the Christian daughter of a Roman Commandant. Meggie: accused of witchcraft in the seventeenth century. Liv: a twenty-first century teenager, intent on finding information for a project. When horrors from the past threaten her, Liv discovers she is a Guardian of the mystical Coventina’s Well. She must work with the spirits who linger there, and use their combined power to banish evil from the sacred spring. Set amongst the wild landscape of Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland, the Guardians must confront the tragic past and the potential future in order to help each other survive.”

 

venge of the modern vampire-

A strange metamorphosis has occurred to the vampire over that past 30 years. Vampires went from the mediaeval scourge of the darkness to vegetarian emos. That is a huge gap after all those centuries. So what happened?

Vampire have always been depicted as the spawn of Satan throughout history. From Vlad Tepes to Elisabeth Bathory- Vampires have always been evil predators that would kill you in seconds. I think it all started with Lord Byron’s Vampyre. He was the first to romanticized the vampire. Then came Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Still a bad boy, but he used seduction rather than brute violence to get his pray. However, when the first motion picture of Nosferatu hit the cinema in 1922, he was played by a rodent faced Max Shrek that in no way could be considered sexy.

It would take another twenty years before Bella Lugosi. Bella did make his Dracula a bit more sexier, but the character was still the evil villain. Twenty more years later we have the Hammer years with Christopher Lee reinventing the genre for a whole new audience.. Twice as sexy as Bella Lugosi but also twice as evil, not entirely at the modern vampire yet.

For another twenty years, vampires continued to be evil blood sucking bastards, but then “Interview with a vampire” hit our screens. The book had a cult following since it’s release in 1976 but it was not until Tom Cruise was mentioned that people took notice. Anne Rice’s vampires had humanity, albeit, possibly a soul. The talked openly  about regrettable mistakes and loss. Although widely remarked as being homo-erotic, here were vampires you could relate to.

The the flood gates opened- Vampire were cool and hip for the first time in history. “Buffy the Vampire” even made them quite lovable. Angel struggles with his vampire identity while trying to maintain relationships and his soul. For the first in history we have a non threatening male vampire would you would want to be friends with.

Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels and the subsequent television show brought us deeper into the political of vampirical hierarchy  and further de-mystified them. Then it happened- Twilight. If you listen closely, that sound you hear, is Vlad Tepes turning in his grave. With twilight we have the first emasculated vampire who would rather listen to emo music in a darkened room than feed off the villagers.

Yet again Vampires are repulsive- not because they have rat faces and feed of you like a parasite; but because they are angst ridden, emotional crippled teens. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the Twilight books, but they did nothing for Vampires Street Cred.

Maybe it is human nature to parody that which scares us, or we just reached a point where there is nothing more that can be added to Vampire mythology. Either way- the only vegetarian vampire that I will take seriously is Count Duckula and twilight sparkles should be left to My little pony. I am hoping that Guillermo Del Toro’s The Strain Television series bring some gravitas to genre and some much-needed Vampire P.R. Luckily the Queen of Vampires, Anne Rice is here to save the day by releasing a new Lestat book called “Prince Lestat” It could not come at a better time to kick-start the vampire genre again.

This week I am very lucky that I am reviewing Four new vampire books this week. Each with its own unique spin on the genre. Vampires will always be with it, as they have been for centuries- but with the help of authors like Kirsty Ferry, Dan Ribot, Berni Stevens, Jane Lovering and Sarah Tranter;  Vampires can be exciting again.

 

I also caught up with the lovely Katie Oliver, Author of the “Dating Mr. Darcy Series” for some vampire Q&A:

prada-and-prejudiceEPBR:Would you ever write a vampire novel?

KO:I would!  I love a good vampire yarn (Anne Rice’s “Vampire Chronicles,” and Matt Haig’s The Radleys, about a vampire family trying to ‘pass’ as normal, are genius).  But with so many great books already out there, the challenge is to write within genre conventions and still deliver a story with a twist. It’d be a LOT of fun to try, though..
Perhaps I could pen a vampire chick lit novel, with a female vamp who spends eternity shopping for shoes, and the perfect shade of… BLOOD? MWAH ha ha…

EPBR:What is your favourite vampire book and or film?

Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice is evocative, scary, moody, and unforgettable. I fell in love with the nineteenth-century New Orleans setting – the moss-draped oaks, the antebellum mansions, the French Quarter, and the dark, mournful beauty of the bayou.  Sting read the book and liked it so much he wrote a song about it – “Moon Over Bourbon Street.”

EPBR: Who is your favourite vampire?

KO: As far as movie vampires go, Frank Langella was the first actor to bring sensuality to the role of Dracula, giving the famous fiend a sexy new dimension. For laughs, you can’t beat George Hamilton in “Love at First Bite” or the campy Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins in “Dark Shadows.” But my favorite literary vampire is Bram Stoker’s Dracula. As a suave gentleman of means by day and a ruthless bloodsucker by night, Count Dracula is diabolical and unparalleled in fiction. But my favorite vampire of all?  It’s got to be Sesame Street’s The Count, of course! One! One vampire bat! Two! Two vampire.

 

Here are some other great books for you to enjoy:

the radley'sThe Radleys by Matt Haig

“Move over, Cullens! The Radleys are an average family living in the suburbs –
they just happen to be vampires. As funny as it is scary!” (Bliss) “A refreshing
alternative to much of the paranormal fodder out there.” (The Bookseller) “We
should expect something different from the fare provided by Stephenie Meyer and
her numerous imitators. And we will not be disappointed.” (The Irish Times)
“Pointed, clever and witty.” (The Independent)”

 

 

 

 

discoveryA Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

‘Intelligent and off-the-wall, it will be irresistible to Twilight fans’ — The
Sunday Times ‘A bubbling cauldron of illicit desire…all the ingredients for an
assured saga that blends romance with fantasy’ — Daily Mail ‘An inventive
addition to the supernatural craze… Historian Harkness’s racy paranormal
romance has exciting amounts of spells, kisses and battles, and is recounted
with enchanting, page-turning panache’ — Marie Claire ‘A romp through magical
academia’ — Guardian ‘…a grand romance smartly dressed up in the fashion for
the occult…Sauced up with magic as well as being intelligent, the novel will
be irresistible to Twilight fans’ — The Sunday Times

 

princePrince Lestat by Anne Rice

To Be released October 30, 2014

The Vampire world is in crisis — vampires have been proliferating out of control and burnings, huge massacres, have commenced all over the world. Old vampires, roused from their earth-bound slumber, are doing the bidding of The Voice: which commands that they indiscriminately burn vampire-mavericks in cities from Paris to Mumbai, Hong Kong to Kyoto and San Francisco.

 We are back with the worlds and beings of Anne Rice’s legendary Vampire Chronicles — in present-day New York and Ancient Egypt, 4th-century Carthage, 14th- century Rome, Renaissance Venice; with Louis de Pointe du Lac; Armand the eternally young, whose face is that of a Boticelli angel; Mekare and Maharet; Pandora and Flavius; David Talbot, vampire and ultimate fixer from the Secret Talamasca; and Marius, the true child of the Millennia. These come together with a host of new, seductive supernatural creatures in this large, luxuriant, fiercely ambitious novel, to seek out who — or what — The Voice is, and to discover the secret of what it desires and why.

 And, at the book’s centre, is always and forever the seemingly absent, curiously missing hero-wanderer, the dazzling, dangerous rebel-outlaw — the great ‘hope’ of the Undead, the dazzling Prince Lestat…


Don’t forget to check out the Facebook page for news, freebies and other fun.

Today’s quiz is “Are you a Vampire” from the BBC Cult website. Don’t forget to post
your results, as we love hearing from you!

 

Review: Dancing in the Rain by Amanda James

dancingDancing in the rain by Amanda James

What if the responsibility for preventing a major disaster lay with you?

“Jacob Weston has felt like he doesn’t belong for as long as he can remember and the strangely vivid dreams he experiences only serve to make him feel more alone. But when his job in research science takes him thousands of miles away from what he thought of as home, Jacob finds the mystery of his past begin to unravel. A trip to the breathtaking Monument Valley and an extraordinary encounter with a Navajo guide seem to hold the key to who Jacob really is.

After meeting the beautiful Rosenya Neboyia, Jacob feels he may have found what he’d been searching for. But with this meeting is the discovery that his dreams come with a responsibility, and that responsibility is bigger and scarier than he could have ever imagined”.

Dancing in the rain is an immense drama that hooks you in from the very first line. It is so beautifully written, the pages fly by without blinking. It is truly a testament to Amanda James’ talent.

The painstaking details of the Navajo nation has the intricate details that only an insider on the reservation would know. The Authors description of the locations are breath taking and that world comes to life on the page in vivid ochres and dessert sands.

Amanda James is such a brilliant writer, she is able to invoke the tastes and the delicious scents of wild sage with ease. My mouth watered  when Jacobs first Navajo meal was described; I could taste the sweetness of the butter-nut squash myself.

In this epic saga, that spawns from WW2 to the Welsh valleys and concluding in the American South West-,Jacob follows his heart and goes on a vision quest. He discovers the family he never knew and his Navajo cousins- the Redbirds. That kind of Native American Mysticism is what makes Dancing in the Rain so magical.

Jacob is a wonderful character who battles with what he was raised to believe and the truth of his real heritage. He tries to find his identity and place in the world, and ultimately himself along the way. Slowly he realises through Matthius Redbird that it was always his fate. A fate that includes his people’s salvation. Believe me that part of the story arc is fast paced and full of explosive action.

When Jacob meets Roseyna you can feel feel the electricity of love at first site and it is a stunning description of two souls bonding. There is also some very steamy scenes between the both of them.

Dancing in the rain is a triumph of the written word and another masterpiece by Amanda James. This is not just a book but an experience!

 

 

seaAlso by Amanda James:

Somewhere beyond the sea by Amanda James

When love begins with a lie, where will it end?
Doctor Tristan Ainsworth has returned with his family to the idyllic Cornish village close to where he grew up. The past has taught him some hard lessons, but he’ll do anything to make his wife happy – so what’s making her so withdrawn?
Karen Ainsworth daren’t reveal her true feelings, but knows her husband has put up with her moods for too long. A chance to use her extraordinary singing voice may set her free, so why shouldn’t she take it? Surely her past can’t hurt her now?
As a tide of blackmail and betrayal is unleashed to threaten the foundations of their
marriage, Karen and Tristan face a difficult question. Is their love strong
enough to face the truth when the truth might cost them everything.

 

stitchA Stitch in Time by Amanda James

A time-travel tale á la Dr Who only with a heroine going back to three different periods, making sure people find their happy ending. It is a pure delight according to my reader. –Sarah Broadhurst, The Bookseller, Paperback Preview, December 2012.
Hitch a ride and whisk back in time with a heroine readers will relate to, feel sympathy for and then root on till the finish. James effortlessly creates vibrant characters and places them in different eras, with each setting spot on. Even the dialogue changes as the time periods do. Readers will be on the edge of their seats from chapter to chapter waiting for the next adventure to begin in this unique, romantic story.

Look out for the next book in the series, out December 2014.