Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Dusty Pages Review: Hit List

A serial killer is hunting the Pacific Northwest, murdering victims in a gruesome and spectacular way. The local police suspect 'monsters' are involved, and have called in Anita Blake and Edward, US Marshals who really know their monsters, to catch the killer.

But some monsters are very real. The Harlequin have been the bogeymen of the vampire world for more than a thousand years; they are a secret so dark that even to speak their name can earn you a death sentence. Now they are here in America, hunting weretigers, and human police.

The Harlequin serve the Mother of All Darkness, the first vampire. She was supposed to be dead, but only her body was destroyed. Now she needs a new one, and she's decided that Anita Blake's is the body she wants. Edward thinks the serial killings are a trap to lure Anita closer to the most dangerous vampire they've ever hunted. The vampires call Edward 'Death,' and Anita the 'Executioner,' but Mommy Darkest is coming to kill one, and possess the other, and she doesn't care how many others have to die along the way.

As it turns out this might actually have been a re-read for me. I couldn't remember where I'd gotten to in this series when I had stopped reading it for reasons even I can't remember. There were parts of the book that seemed familiar but I'd forgotten the majority of it so it was enjoyable.

I was glad however to return to Anita's world and found that I missed it. The plot of this book had a better balance between the police work and the sex without one over shadowing the other that had become a problem in some of the previous ones. It was also a really good point for me to jump back in as it reminded me about a great many of the characters - there had been an explosion of new ones in the previous few volumes if I remember correctly - and it was easy to work out where Anita's life was at.

I enjoyed the police work though I have to wonder how many men in law enforcement are actually like that. Constantly ragging on the woman in the group to both prove herself in the field and be the picture perfect ideal of femininity. They certainly weren't my favourite characters with their double standards towards sex. And I still don't know why Marshall Raborn hated Anita so much. However I am looking forward to the next installments that are all lined up on my bookshelf. I may have stopped reading but I didn't stop buying lol.

I give it

Friday, 26 May 2017

Vampire Rules

The vampire is a very popular subject for both books of a fictional nature and non fictional. With so much information out there and so many different types of vampire characters, what is right and what is wrong? Essentially, the answer to that is nothing. You can believe whatever you want to but here is a list of 5 things I will never believe about vampires.

1. They can all walk around in the day.

Say what you will about Twilight, but the fact that her vampires are not bound by the whole creatures of the night thing opened up a huge array of situations for her sparkly fangster. However, its not something I will ever choose to do myself. Walking in daylight should, for me, be a rare power. Something that must be achieved either through a special bloodline, living to a certain age or by some sort of magical talisman. I am totally down with the daylight rings in Vampire Diaries but not every vampire has a Bennett Witch as a pal.

2. They don't want to drink blood

I don't understand why so many authors want to write tortured vampires, who don't want to drink blood, but must to survive or try to sustain themselves on a diet of animal blood. Blood equals food. Most people enjoy their food, especially the food that is bed for them. I'm not saying I am down with massive vampire killing sprees but the average human body holds eight pints of blood, I don't know anyone who can drink eight pints of something the thickness of soup.

3. They all have tragic pasts

What is wrong with a happy vampire? Can't a few blood suckers be living their un-life to the full. In this I include the whole, turned against their will, stick that seems to be popular among teen books. I'm pretty sure there are plenty of vampires that took to vampirism with full knowledge of the consequences of their actions. I will also include here the not knowing who sired them crap as well. If you could have the possibility of creating someone who could literally live for ever, would you pick someone you knew who wouldn't annoy the heck out of you a hundred years down the line or some random stranger you dove upon in an ally.

4. They must all be drop dead gorgeous.

There are two schools of thought about what vampirism does to the person. There are those that say that it physically changes them to make them more beautiful - like really good plastic surgery that you just had to die for lol. Or there is the school of the more realistic vampire which has its own split. There is the belief that it enhances certain qualities you already possessed, makes hair shinier, eyes brighter, skin clearer but no hard line changes to your appearance. Then there is the track that it changes absolutely nothing about you physically, you just get a bit paler and live off a liquid diet. These ultra real vampires are one of my favourite because although they do not look more attractive, they have a certain je ne sais quoi that still draws prey in.

5. They are all incredibly old.

In some books its like there was a mass turning of vampires 2 to 3 hundred years ago and no one has bitten anyone since. Old vampires are great but for me there need to be some generations. New baby vamps just learning, vamps who've been dead a while but still aren't use to it, those that are looking forward to reaching their centenary. Variety is the spice of life or un life

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Dusty Pages Review: Shadow Kiss

It's springtime at St. Vladimir's Academy and Rose is close to graduation, but since making her first Strigoi kills, things haven't felt quite right. She's having dark thoughts, behaving erratically, and worst of all . . . might be seeing ghosts.
Consumed by her forbidden love with her tutor Dimitri and protecting her best friend, the Moroi princess Lissa, Rose is in no state to see the deadly threat that will change her entire world - and make her choose between the two people she loves most.

I found that again with this, the third installment in this series, that most of the action didn't take place until the last 20% of the book. I also found that typical of teen supernatural books was that just as the two lovers finally got together and make plans about their future, something happens to tear them apart. I shouldn't really complain as this sets Rose on a journey that will more than likely be the focus of the next book - but I saw it coming a mile away.

The one character that I did end up feeling sorry for over the others was poor Adrian. It is quite clear now that his feeling for Rose are genuine and he's just not getting any of her attention. Its hardly surprising because even for me Dimitri is by far the more attractive (both physically and personality wise of the two) but Adrian is very likeable so hence the pity.

I was also glad to see Rose leaving Lissa behind a little bit - I think some time apart would be good for them, so that the characters can develop and not be quite so dependent on the other.

I give this

Monday, 22 May 2017

Meet A Writer Monday presents...

...Mackenzie Flohr

1. Tell me about your book
The Right of Wands and where you got your inspiration for it?

It’s the first of a new epic fantasy series, debuting in March, written for those who are 8 years and older. The story came to me in 2006 while on a road trip to Indiana to see the LOTR Traveling Exhibition at the Indiana State Museum, featuring costumes, props, etc from the fantasy movie trilogy The Lord of The Rings.

2. What genre do you write in and what draws you into this genre?

Fantasy. I admit I have a strong fascination, or maybe even obsession, with swords and sword fighting. I also admire the elaborate fashion from that time. And of course, who doesn’t like a wee bit of magic?

3. Did you learn anything from writing this book? If so what was it?

Writing is A LOT harder than it looks. If someone tells you that writing is easy, don’t believe them. It’s one thing to write a story, it’s another thing to actually finish it. There are so many people out there who falsely believe they will write the next bestseller on the first try. I cannot tell you how many drafts I had to write before I finally got it right!

4. Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

A, and let me emphasize, a character hijacked my story. His name is Mierta McKinnon, one of the lead characters in The Rite of Wands. He is a very complex, colorful character, and believe me, he lets me know if I don’t have something right lol! He is a prime example of a character that has a life of their own.

5. Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

A bit of both. The first character that came to me, for example, was the warlock, Orlynd. I always envisioned him to be a mentor like Obi-Wan, yet he is burdened because he has the ability to interpret the future. He really feels like he’s an outcast, which is something I can relate to. Fitting into this world while trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do, is something I have always struggled with.

6. If your book was made into a film, who would you like to see play the lead?

MATT SMITH! (Did you hear that, Hollywood?)

Going back to the previous question though, I wrote the character Mierta specifically for Matt. Those who are fans of his in particular will recognize some of his infamous Smithisms in the character.

I am one of those people who believe that people come into your life for a reason. I can honestly say if I hadn’t gotten the opportunity to meet him at Wizard World in Chicago, IL, this book would be still sitting somewhere in my writing office unfinished. Completely serious. Matt has some kind of “magic” about him, I can’t really explain. But whatever it was, seems to have cast a spell on my muse. So, instead of fighting it, I went with it, and turned Matt, so to speak, into a wizard. Wizards are cool!

7. What motivates you to succeed as a writer?

What motivates me is being told I won’t succeed. I know that sounds odd, but I’ll elaborate. Back in 200, I was at the airport in Orlando waiting for the plane to arrive to take my Dad and I back to Cleveland, OH. I was working on a scene, which happens in a later book in the series. There was a young girl who looked about my age with her Dad sitting across from us. They asked what I was writing about, so I mentioned a little bit about it. Afterward, my Dad smiled and told them that I was writing a fantasy series, and that I would never finish it. I was shocked, embarrassed and hurt by the outburst. Even as I am recalling that moment now, it still angers me! But that’s where he went wrong. Not only did I write it, not only did I finish it, I found a company to PUBLISH it!

8. What was your most defining moment in life?

My most defining moment was when I got to work for actress Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki Newman – The Young and the Restless) as her webmaster back in 2004. Not many can say at 18 years-old that they got to live their dream. It still is pretty surreal that it even happened.

At the time, I was running a fan website that I put together myself because I wanted a place her fans to go to. There wasn’t any official website or twitter or anything like that then. I can’t remember what prompted Mel to go online. I did write her a fan letter stating I had made a website for her, so maybe it was that that prompted the adventure lol. Anyway, she was so impressed that she emailed me and told me to contact her agent. As you can imagine, I was sceptical. I mean why would a celebrity want to contact me? LOL! I did and was shocked to find out it was legit. Then months went by and I didn’t hear anything more, and I kept running the fan site as if the conversation never happened.

Then I got a phone call from a producer of the daytime talk show Soap Talk! They had heard about MTS wanting to hire me, and they were going to have her on their show as a guest, and thought it would be a cool surprise to fly me out there and surprise her! So, they flew me out to Hollywood, and we recorded a video to make it appear like I had heard about her being on the show, but wasn’t able to be there. They played it on the show while I was hiding backstage. I could hear Mel state she was hoping she could meet me someday, too, not having any idea I was waiting for the doors to the stage to open so I could surprise her. Really, the whole experience was like an amazing dream. I got to meet her personal assistant, her publicist (whom I’m still friends with and work with on website projects on occasion!), got to see her home, the set of The Young and the Restless, see a photoshoot with CBS Soaps In Depth, and even got to see her renew her vows with her husband, Edward Scott.

Sadly though, good things sometimes have to come to an end. After almost 3 years working for her, she decided to go in another direction. It wasn’t until about a year or so ago I learned what really was going on at the time, which now if I could back, I wish I had known because she doesn’t know we also have THAT personal thing in common.

Celebrities are really no different than you and me. They simply make a lot more money than most people. J

9. Do you think the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

Absolutely! As a reader, if I really like the cover, I’m already intrigued in the story without even knowing what it’s about.

10. Do you think giving away books for free works and why?

Yes and no. I have been part of some amazing book launches, featuring authors and books I would never been exposed to otherwise. Because of these launches, these authors have been able to introduced to new readers. On the other hand, I have seen authors who give away their books for free in hopes it will bring in new sales, which is a great marketing strategy, especially if they are trying to sell a series. However, while some authors do have a number of extra downloads, I can admit myself as a reader I have a number of books on my kindle I have downloaded for free and have YET to read them! So, you can run into that kind of problem, too.

11. What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

The whole review process system is flawed honestly. For example, Amazon has changed their review process so much half of the time you don’t know if they are going to allow a legit review or delete it. And Goodreads doesn’t have any process what so ever to prove the person reviewing actually read the book they read, permitting trolls to just give you a 1-star review without reading the book (which happened to me before my book wasn’t even published!).

On the other hand, I know a lot of readers who won’t buy a book if it has all 5 stars because they think the author has gotten a bunch of people to give them 5 stars just for the rating, whether that be true or not. Instead they want to see a book get a 1 or 2 star so they know it’s safe to buy. So, those who think that giving a book a 1 star is hurting the author, you’re wrong. It is actually doing the opposite.

12. What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

The toughest criticism given to me was that I had no structure to my story. I had a lot of good ideas, but no structure. That is one of the worst things an author wants to hear. But in all honesty, the person who told me that was correct. You see, Part 2 of my novel, was written before Part 1, and if you take Part 1 out completely, there IS no structure!

13. What makes you cry?

This may sound odd, but I don’t generally cry. If I do, it’s normally because I’m so angry I cannot hold it in anymore. I grew up believing that crying was a sign of weakness. I was also bullied horrifically by students, teachers, and people I trusted most of my childhood and teenage life, so that really affected me psychologically. My writing allows me to express myself and truly show my vulnerable side.

14. Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?

I do! I work full-time at call center for a bank. I generally spend my afternoon and evenings speaking with customers on the phone about their various banking issues, then come home, and write, or read my kindle while I unwind.

15. Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?

Don’t give up, and if someone tells you can’t do something, don’t believe it. As one of my dear friends has said, sometimes in order for something to happen, you have to give to the universe, and the universe in turn, gives back.


One boy…one Rite… And a world of deadly secrets that could change the course of history—forever

And so begins the tale of Mierta McKinnon. When a horrible fate reveals itself during his Rite of Wands ceremony, he must find a way to change not only his destiny but also the land of Iverna’s.

Forbidden from revealing the future he foresees to anyone, he is granted a wand and his magical powers, but still must master the realm of magic in order to save himself and those he loves.

But Mierta is not the only one with secrets…especially when it’s impossible to know who to trust.


About Mackenzie

Mackenzie Flohr grew up in Strongsville, OH, chasing leprechauns and rainbows and dreaming of angels. Her parents nurtured a love of fantasy and make-believe by introducing her at a very young age to the artistic and cultural opportunities that the state of Ohio had to offer. While following her love of adventure, Mackenzie found a second home at the Beck Center for the Arts Children's and Teen Theater School. It was there that a world of wonder was only a script and a performance away.


Friday, 19 May 2017

Magical Worlds

There are to my mind 3 big questions that are essential that you answer when building a fictional world with magic.

1. Is magic born or can anyone be taught it?

I put this question first because this decides what type of people inhabit your world. If magic must be born in you then you have a smaller or larger percentage of the population that can do it. If a smaller percentage can do it, it means normal people out number them, which can lead to trials, adventure and a good story. However the reverse is true, if the larger percentage of the population can do magic and your character can't, it can also lead to trials, adventure and a good story.

If anyone can become magical, then you have to imagine that it would be a course you could select at a school or college.

2. Is Magic using a secret or is it publicly known?

This affects the attitude of the people around your magic user and what kind of world they live in. If Magic is a secret, you get further questions about why is it secret and have a whole host of ideas about rules for maintaining that secrecy and punishments for breaking those rules. If its public...that leads us onto question three.

3. How are Magic users viewed?

This can be either in a public or a private setting. Public - where magic is known about by everyone thought only some use it, you have to ask yourself why is this? How do those who don't use magic view those that do? Are they considered cool or loathed?

In Private of course - a world where magic is a secret, the view here is about how magic users see each other. Is there some sort of ranking system? Is it based on power level or what family you were born into? The biggest example of this is of course Harry Potter with your Pure Bloods, Half Bloods and Muggle Borns.

I hope that by answering these three questions for yourself, you will be able to start to build a magical world of your own.