Author Profile: Ilona Andrews

I know…I know…I’m a day late from my promise.  But, here it is.  My author profile this week is about Ilona Andrews.  She writes the Kate Daniels series.  I am currently on book 4 of this series, Magic Bleeds.

Ilona Andrews is actually a pseudonym for a husband and wife writing team.  Ilona is Russian-born and came to America when she was a teenager.  Her husband Gordon is a former communications Sergent in the U.S Army.  They met in their freshman English class in college at Western Carolina University.  Gordon helped write and submit Ilona’s first novel, Magic Bites.  They have been a writing team ever since.  Ilona and Gordon currently reside in Texas with their two children and many dogs and cats.

The team of Ilona and Gordon do an extraordinary job at creating a familiar world with a twist of magic and paranormal.  Their writing style has allowed for them to have two bestselling series’ that have appeared on the NYT and USAT bestseller lists.  I have only read one of their series’ but am very impressed.  I know it is difficult to differentiate yourself in an already flooded genre.  But, somehow they have distinguished themselves.

I am currently reading Magic Bleeds which is part of the Kate Daniels series.  I was actually apprehensive to begin reading this series.  I was unsure it would keep my attention. Boy am I glad I gave it a shot.  I have been listening to it in audio book form and now feel I need to physically read this series too.  The writing is very good and the interactions between the characters are natural and very funny.  Kate Daniels as a character is phenomenal.  I would compare her to Anita Blake or MacKayla Lane.  They all could be friends if they knew each other.  These books are more paranormal suspense/thriller then romance.  But, that doesn’t say that Kate doesn’t have her drama in that department.  I would definitely recommend reading the Kate Daniels series especially if you are a fan of Anita Blake.

Here is an Excerpt from Ilona Andrews’ first book in the Kate Daniels series, Magic Bites:

I sat at a table in my shadowy kitchen, staring down a bottle of Boone’s Farm Hard Lemonade, when a magic fluctuation hit. My wards shivered and died, leaving my home stripped of its defenses. The TV flared into life, unnaturally loud in the empty house.
I raised my eyebrow at the bottle and bet it that another urgent bulletin was on.

The bottle lost.

“Urgent bulletin!” Margaret Chang announced. “‘The Attorney General advises all citizens that any attempt at summoning or other activities resulting in the appearance of a being of supernatural power can be hazardous to yourself and to other citizens.”

“No shit,” I told the bottle.

“Local police have been authorized to subdue any such activities with all due force.”

Margaret droned on, while I bit into my sandwich. Who were they kidding? No police force could hope to squash every summoning. It took a qualified wizard to detect a summoning in progress. It required only a half-literate idiot with a twitch of power and a dim idea of how to use it to attempt one. Before you knew it, a three-headed Slavonic god was wreaking havoc in downtown Atlanta, the skies were raining winged snakes, and SWAT was screaming for more ammo. These were unsafe times. But then in safer times, I’d be a woman without a job. The safe tech-world had little use for a magic-touting mercenary like me.

When people had trouble of a magic kind, the kind of trouble that cops couldn’t or wouldn’t handle, they called the Mercenary Guild. If the job happened to fall into my territory, the Guild then called me. I grimaced and rubbed my hip. It still ached after the last job, but the wound had healed better than I expected. That was the first and last time I would agree to go against the Impala Worm without full body armor. The next time they better furnish me with a level four containment suit.

An icy wave of fear and revulsion hit me. My stomach lurched, sending acid to coat the root of my tongue with a bitter aftertaste. Shivers ran along my spine, and the tiny hairs on my neck stood on their ends.

Something bad was in my house.

I put down my sandwich and pushed the volume button of the remote control, reducing the TV to a low hum. On the screen Margaret Chang was joined by a brick-faced man with a high-and-tight haircut and eyes like slate. A cop. Probably Paranormal Activity Division. I put my hand on the dagger that rested on my lap and sat very still.

Listening. Waiting.

No sound troubled the silence. A drop of water formed on the sweaty surface of the Boone’s Farm bottle and slid down its glistening side.

Something large crawled along the hallway ceiling into the kitchen. I pretended not to see it. It stopped to the left of me and slightly behind, so I didn’t have to pretend very hard.

The intruder hesitated, turned, and anchored itself in the corner, where the ceiling met the wall. It sat there, fastened to the paneling by enormous yellow talons, still and silent like a gargoyle in full sunlight. I took a swig from the bottle and set it so I could see the creature’s reflection. Nude and hairless, it didn’t carry a single ounce of fat on its skeletal frame and every dry, hard cord of muscle was clearly visible beneath its taut pallid hide.

Your friendly neighborhood Spiderman.

The creature raised its left hand. The dagger talons diced the empty air, back and forth, like curved knitting needles. It turned its head doglike and studied me with eyes luminescent with a particular kind of madness, born of bestial blood thirst and free of any thought or restraint.

In a single motion I whipped around and hurled the dagger. The black blade sliced cleanly into the creature’s throat.

The vampire froze. Its yellow claws stopped moving.

Thick, almost purplish blood swelled around the blade and slowly slid down the naked flesh of the vampire’s neck, staining its chest and dripping on the floor. The vampire’s features twisted, trying to morph into a different face. It opened its maw, displaying twin fangs that glistened with yellow like miniature ivory sickles.

“That was extremely inconsiderate, Kate,” Ghastek’s voice said from the vampire’s throat. “Now I have to feed him.”

“It’s a reflex. Hear a bell, get food. See an undead, throw a knife. Same thing, really.”

The vampire’s face jerked as if the Master of the Dead controlling it tried to squint.

“What are you drinking?” Ghastek asked.

“Boone’s Farm.”

“You can afford better.”

“I don’t want better. I like Boone’s Farm. And I prefer to do business by phone and with you, not at all.”

“I don’t wish to hire you, Kate. This is merely… a social call.”

I stared at the vampire, wishing I could put my knife into Ghastek’s throat. It would feel very good cutting into his flesh. Unfortunately he sat in an armored room many miles away.

“You enjoy screwing with me, don’t you, Ghastek?”

“Immensely.”

The million-dollar question was why. “What is it you want? Make it quick, my Boone’s Farm’s getting warm.”

“I was just wondering,” Ghastek said with dry neutrality particular only to him, “when was the last time you saw your guardian?”

The nonchalance in his voice sent tiny cold shivers down my spine. “Why?”

“No reason. As always, a pleasure.”

In a single powerful leap the vampire detached itself from the wall and flew through the open window, taking my knife with it.

For more information about Ilona Andrews you can visit her website:  www.ilona-andrews.com.  For more information about the Kate Daniels series you can go to Barnes and Noble, Amazon or any other Book Retailer.

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When Friendships Attack

I promise I will have my author profile for everyone up tonight, but I just need to talk this out.  I think everyone has had that one friend who has crossed the line and double crossed you.  Some people do this for attention, others for control and others border on mental illness.  I will share a story and you can make your own judgement where this person lies.

I am part of a forum where we discuss books, men, sex, our personal lives etc.  This is a safe place and everyone on there is on there with the understanding that it is for fun.  With this being online you meet people from all over.  From Australia to New York to Texas to California to Canada…you get the idea.  So we all have different view points and different life experiences.  Thats what makes a group like this so awesome.  As adults you can have the freedom to discuss, “argue” and gush without it turning into something mean.

Well, today i found out one of the members has been having problems with another member.  Normally, I don’t get involved with this.  I figure its between those two people and they are adults and will work things out.  But, when I heard the extent it went I got really upset.  Without going into details and since this is third and fourth hand I will summarize.  Apparently one of the members of this group became friends with a couple of the other members.  This is not unusual, but the events that happened after the friendship began is what is disturbing.  One of the friends became very possessive.  She began acting that if she didn’t get her way she would say mean and hurtful things.  When that didn’t have the desired effect she began to attack others.  She tried to corrupt other members of the group against these persons.  I think what was most twisted was that she would send gifts to her friends family and husband.  This person would use any and all information contorting it to suit her needs.  She even went as far as contacting one of the authors that we all like and telling lies about a few of the members out of jealousy.

Now, I know that was all very vague and I am not using names.  But, when I heard that these very sweet and supportive people were under attack from someone who is either not taking her medication or in need of some I couldn’t just stand by and not say anything. So I am using this as my forum to vent about those people we have met in our lives that are just mean.  People who double cross, are back-handed and manipulative.

I don’t understand why people treat friendships like toilet paper.  They use it then shit on it and flush it down the toilet.  I am a very loyal person and take my friendships seriously.  People who live with hate in their heart and get their kicks from hurting others don’t deserve to have friends that empathize and care for them on a level they don’t deserve.  I experienced a lot of this first hand in High School.  The only thing is we aren’t in High School anymore and there is no reason to purposefully hurt someone.

So I ask you do you know people like this?

***To A, N, J, C, S, K and all the other wonderful ladies in IB.  I love you all and you all have been supportive and wonderful friends of mine.

An adventure in Mavenland

I have been meaning to write about my super busy Saturday.  It was literally a day full of a birthday, a 911 call, a wedding and vampires.  I know these don’t seem like they are connected at all, but believe me they are.

Saturday was my birthday.  It wasn’t a big one and if you ask I won’t tell you how old I am.  It’s not that bad, but I like to leave an air of mystery.  Well, my birthday started out with me getting up at the crack of dawn to go to my second job. I work at a gym for my second job.  This is normally a very easy job except for those days that go all to hell.  Saturday was one of those days.  I won’t go into all the details, but the biggest highlight was me having to call 911 because a woman passed out in the parking lot. She didn’t eat before her exercise class.  She claimed this happens often.  You would think people would learn, but I know better than to think that. So, me being the person who called had to stay later at work because of it.  This just set the tone of the day.

I proceeded to rush home to get ready to go to the wedding.  My husband and I hopped into the car and set out.  Now, I am going to preface this by saying my husband is a truck driver and knows the area.  That being said.  He missed his turn and we arrived at the wedding just as it was about to start.  It was a very nice wedding.  It was a beautiful ceremony and I wish them all the happiness. The wedding was a bit unorthodox with the groom being 30, the bride being 19 and her something new was the very visible baby bump.  I think this is going to be a very challenging road ahead but if they work together they can get through anything.  I would have to say there were two interesting parts to the wedding and reception.  First, the couple stood and braided a rope as a symbol of their relationship with God.  I didn’t realize what it symbolized until a bit later.  I thought at first they were incorporating the pregnancy and thought that was weird.  Guess that will teach me for not paying attention.  Second, I noticed there were a lot of children at this wedding.  There is nothing wrong with having children at a wedding, but when they are unruly and you can’t control them then that’s a problem.  It’s just amazing how people can just ignore children running around especially their own mother and grandmother.  Anyway, we ended up leaving before the cake was cut so we could do something for my birthday.  I chose to go to the movies.

What movie did I choose?  Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  Now, normally I don’t see movies I want to see because my husband and I have such differing tastes.  This was an anomaly that I got to pick whatever movie I wanted to see.  So I told my husband and he was very amicable about it.  I did put one stipulation on it.  I told him he wasn’t allowed to scream like a girl (he doesn’t like scary movies).  He promptly informed me “I make no promises.” I laughed at that.  So we went to see the movie and it was an excellent movie.  I would recommend anyone to see it.  But, one little warning do not take someone who is going to sit through the whole movie saying “I missed that in History class.”  Throughout the WHOLE movie.  I kept reminding him that it was based on a book, a FICTION book.  This did not stop the commentary.  Even though I had the peanut gallery sitting next to me I did enjoy the movie.  The rest of the evening ended pretty tamely with dinner and going home.

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I haven’t had quite a birthday before.  A birthday beginning with a 911 call and ending with Abraham Lincoln slaying vampires.  All I have to say is I wonder what my next one will consist of.

Weekly Thought/Funny

Anyone else felt this way?  I know I have.  🙂

Review: The Irish Princess by Karen Harper

YEAH!!! I finished another book off of my summer reading list.  I feel like I am really slow going on this list. The book I just finished is The Irish Princess by Karen Harper.  Ms. Harper is well-known for writing historical fiction and this book is included in this genre.

We meet Gera, our heroine, first as she is sneaking into King Henry VIII’s bedchamber.  With murder in her eyes and a dagger in her hand she is intent on revenge for the damage the king has caused to her family.  Just as she is about to plunge the dagger into the King he turns and whispers to her.  We are then spirited back to Ireland where Gera grew up.  She is part of what would have been royalty if Ireland had royalty.  At this time in history, Ireland was not an independent nation, but a part of the English crown.  Ireland was not considered part of the empire yet, but was still overseen by English governors.  Gera was part of one of the remaining Irish families that were still allowed to rule with the approval of the King.  This peaceful coexistence was short-lived for Gera.  When Gera was only 11 her father is imprisoned in the Tower of London with claims that he was trying to start a rebellion in Ireland.  Not long after being imprisoned her father dies.  This spurs her half-brother, now the Earl of Kildare,  into declaring rebellion against King Henry VIII.  When this happens Gera and her brother, the heir, are the only Fitzgeralds left at their home in Mayhoon.  When the rebellion begins Gera stays and Gerald is sent away to the continent so that he will be safe.

The rebellion is shortly quelled and Gera’s uncles and half-brother go into hiding.  After a few months of hiding the five uncles are tricked into a meeting to discuss terms of peace.  They are shackled and taken to the Tower of London.  This trap was planned by Gera’s English uncle, now the governor of Ireland.  Gera is now sent to England to live with her mother and her siblings.  On her trip over she meets Edward Clinton.  This clandestine first meeting will continue to appear throughout the book.  Her random encounters spur on the love story between them.  All the while, the court politics of King Henry VIII play a central role to both the story and Gera’s plans for revenge.  Though Gera has a lot of tragedy in her life primarily caused by the Tudor family she also has some unexpected happiness while in England .  This is one story that you just want to learn more about.

Karen Harper does a phenomenal job on this book.  Her detailed illustration of the court intrigues and the political gauntlets that are thrown down during this time is extraordinary.  Taking a fairly well-known subject of Tudor London and highlighting a little known character with an incredible backstory that is heartbreaking.  Gera’s life leads her from her beloved Ireland to Whitehall Palace where the English court is held.  I personally wish I had met the real Gera.  I think she would have been a loyal and exciting friend to have. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in a good historical fiction that highlights many smaller characters in a part of history that was so large.

For more information on The Irish Princess by Karen Harper you can go to Barnes and Noble, Amazon or any other book retailer.

Author Profile: Gena Showalter

This week’s Author Profile is a bit late.  Its been a really hectic week and I apologize for its tardiness.  I am profiling Gena Showalter this week because her new book Wicked Nights comes out on Tuesday.  This is the first in her new series, Angels of the Dark.

Gena Showalter is a National Bestselling author.  She has written 8 different series’ that vary from Young Adult to Paranormal Romance.  She published her first book at age 27 and has since published many more books that have been New York Times and USA Today best sellers.  In looking into biographies about Ms. Showalter I have found that she is an immensely private person.  There is very little information circulating about her. What I did discover was that she has become more focused on her faith since an illness in August of 2011.  I would recommend reading her Healing Testimony on her website. It is very moving.

Ms. Showalter lives up to all of the accolades she has gotten.  The stories and worlds she creates are always very detailed and complete.  Her characters are thoroughly constructed and this allows for you to develop an affinity for them and their world.  I have read all of Ms. Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld Series and look forward to her newest series Angels of the Dark.  This new series is an off shoot of the Lords of the Underworld.  I am going to share with you an excerpt from my favorite Lords of the Underworld book, Darkest Surrender and a description of Ms. Showalter’s newest book due out Tuesday, Wicked Nights.

Here is an excerpt from The Darkest Surrender:

In the kitchen—Kaia skidded to a halt, her heart banging frantically against her ribs. Strider. Gorgeous, sexy Strider. He sat at the pool table she’d plucked from his fortress her very first visit there and now used in the breakfast nook. Food was scattered in every direction, from bags of chips to cheese slices to candy bars.

He wasn’t looking at her, hadn’t even glanced at her, but he had stiffened when she’d stepped inside. “I figured that, since these things were here, they were acceptable for you to eat,” he said. “Which means I more than kept up with you. I outwitted and surpassed you.”

“Thanks,” she said dryly. How disappointing. The one time she wanted her man to forget he had a brain, he remembered.

She leaned against the doorframe and crossed her arms over her chest. Her stomach tightened, threatening to growl, but she remained in place, waiting. Only when he’d gotten a good once-over would she move.

“Kaia. Eat.”

“In a minute. I’m enjoying the view. You should give it a try.”

He tensed. “There’s a note from your sister on the fridge. She said she’s in the heavens with Lysander, and she’ll see you in four days for the games.”

“’Kay.”

“What games? Never mind,” he rushed out before she could reply. “Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know. What perfume are you wearing? I don’t like it.”

Asshat. “I’m not wearing any perfume.” And she knew he loved it. He had a weakness for cinnamon, something she’d noticed while stalking, uh, hanging out with him. Within hours of learning that little tidbit, she’d stocked up on cinnamon-scented soap, shampoo and conditioner.

“Stop enjoying the view and come eat,” he said through clenched teeth.

He’d closed the blinds over the only window and flipped on the overhead light. Natural sunlight complemented her skin the best, but— Oh, who was she kidding, acting all modest? Any light complemented her skin.

“Kaia. Come. Eat. Now.”

Gods, she adored that authoritative tone. She shouldn’t. She should hate it—barbarians weren’t supposed to be attractive to modern women—but still, she shivered. “Make me.” Please.

Finally his gaze skidded over to her. He was on his feet a second later, his chair sliding behind him. His mouth floundered open and closed, and his pupils dilated. He licked his lips. He reached out to grip the edge of the table, his nostrils flaring as he fought to breathe. “You… Your… S***!”

Every pulse point hammering, she twirled. She knew what he saw—rainbow shards dancing hypnotically over every inch of visible flesh, the blush of health and vitality…the promise of seduction. “You like?”

As if in a trance, he moved around the table and stepped toward her. Closed the distance…stopped just before he reached her and cursed.

And now for Ms. Showalter’s newest book, Wicked Nights, due June 26th, 2012:

Leader of the most powerful army in the heavens, Zacharel has been deemed too dangerous, too ruthless, and if he isn’t careful, he’ll lose his wings.  But this warrior with a heart of ice will not be deterred . . . until a vulnerable human tempts him with a carnal pleasure he’s never before known.

Accused of a crime she did not commit, Annabelle Miller has spent four years in an institution for the criminally insane.  Demons track her every move, and their king will stop at nothing to have her.  Zacharel is her only hope for survival, but is the brutal angel with a touch as hot as hell her salvation—or her ultimate damnation?

 

 

If you enjoy reading Karen Marie Moning, J.R Ward or Larissa Ione then you will enjoy Gena Showalter.  She has many books to choose from, but I personally love her Lords of the Underworld and would recommend reading them first.  You won’t regret it.

For more information about Ms. Showalter you can go to her website: www.genashowalter.com.  For information about or for purchasing the Lords of the Underworld or Wicked Nights you can go to Barnes and Noble, Amazon or any other book retailer.

 

A Letter to Bullies

To the Bullies:

You stand proud amongst your friends as you sling slurs.  Slurs that berate someone for their appearance or for things that have happened to them.

You stand with your wall of ignorance and intolerance to support you as you tear down someone before the eyes of those cheering you on for more.

You stand looking down on those who are different.  Different in your mind, but to those who you’re looking down upon don’t find themselves very different.

You stand leaning on those chanting for you to keep going.  To go farther with the unbearable and the unthinkable.

While you stand, we sit and rise above your low blows and your low curses.

We rise to a level that you will never be able to achieve.  A level that is unattainable to you because all you can do is tear down and hurt.

We rise with our friends to walk away with our heads held high even as your still spouting your viscous slurs about our appearance or references to our traumatic past.

We rise so that when the time comes we are the better for having withstood your torment and will be able to face any challenge that comes our way.  So, in reality by tearing us down you help us to rebuild and be strong for we know we will always rise and be the better for it.

You will never be able to say that.  You tore us down because that is all you know and what you have been taught is acceptable.  The true difference between you and us is that we rise above and you will always sink below.  We will transcend and you will only sink lower.

Sincerely,

Those of us who have overcome.

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

My blog is not normally so serious, but I had to address this today.   I read an article today about a woman who was tormented on a school bus by middle school children.  The teasing and bullying got so bad that the woman was brought to tears.  It really impacted me because it just reminded me of how cruel children can be.  No matter what age the person being bullied is it still has the same outcome.  There is never a winner.  Just one person feels better about themselves because they tore someone down to make themselves feel better.  You also have the victim who continually asks themselves “Why me?”

Having been someone who was bullied and teased tremendously growing up I could relate.  The pain that woman felt is the pain many of us have felt and some have felt on a daily basis for years.  When I started thinking about this topic today it really got me to wondering how children learn that this is acceptable behavior.  I wondered if bullies/mean kids begot more bullies/mean kids.  And if that is the case then do victims beget victims?  I am sure there is come correlation and validity to this, but honestly I think children are just not told what is acceptable and unacceptable anymore.  Sure there are kids with diagnosable disabilities but this is not the majority.  I think the majority just haven’t been told that they can’t treat people that way.  This, however, is not an excuse.

I can tell you this though.  If one of those children on that video were my son he would learn what is acceptable and not by spending his summer helping that woman around her house and mowing her lawn and doing her gardening ALL summer.  I know this seems weak but I no doubt he wouldn’t enjoy it.  But, I just hope that I raise a child who knows from the beginning what is acceptable and what is not.  I truly think these children need to be taught a lesson and not one by an outsider.  Their parents need to step up and finally teach their children something that should have been taught a long time ago.  Respect others.

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