Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Fifth Gospel

Ian Caldwell

Publish Date
March 3, 2015

In 2004, as Pope John Paul II’s reign enters its twilight, a mysterious exhibit is under construction at the Vatican Museums. A week before it is scheduled to open, its curator is murdered at a clandestine meeting on the outskirts of Rome. That same night, a violent break-in rocks the home of the curator’s research partner, Father Alex Andreou, a Greek Catholic priest who lives inside the Vatican with his five-year-old son. When the papal police fail to identify a suspect in either crime, Father Alex, desperate to keep his family safe, undertakes his own investigation. To find the killer he must reconstruct the dead curator’s secret: what the four Christian gospels—and a little-known, true-to-life fifth gospel known as the Diatessaron—reveal about the Church’s most controversial holy relic. But just as he begins to understand the truth about his friend’s death and its consequences for the future of the world’s two largest Christian Churches, Father Alex finds himself hunted down by someone with a vested stake in the exhibit—someone he must outwit to survive.


I have read all of the Dan Brown books.  I read all the books the pre-dated Dan Brown, such as Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, and David Morrell’s The Fraternity of the Stone, and many more that fed my insatiable appetite for the great religious mystery and thriller of what happened to the great relics of Christ. Even Ian’s first novel, The Rule of Four ranked as one of the more tantalizing works that sent me seeking for more info and left me with more questions than answers at the end. Some of the best of these books left me wondering just how much access they were able to acquire to the great vaulted and guarded stacks of the Vatican Library.  Others reached so far into the improbable, that they pushed even “literary license” to its’ limit. 
The Fifth Gospel was a book that, according to Ian Caldwell, was ten years in the making.  The journey took many turns and twists and hit many snags as he struggled to bring the tomb to production.  It is my humble opinion that his labor was not in vain.  I could not put the book down.  We are talking about my most revered subgenre of subgenre.  I read every archeology journal article, every book on every new finding, anything new I come across about the subject of the historical Christ and what new has been discovered in an archeological dig, or buried in a library. 
This all aside, Mr. Caldwell took the premise of the story back in time to just before Pope John Paul’s death.  His greatest wish was to bring the two great churches back together again – The Greek Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.  This story is told through the eyes of two brothers who worked at the Vatican.  Both brothers were of Greek descent. One brother had converted to Roman Catholicism.  The second brother was part of a very little known small group of priests in the church who are married and who are Greek Catholic priests.  These two brothers and a lay museum curator become the nucleus around which there is a great secret that can make or break John Paul’s great hope for the Church before he dies. 
What can they know or find in the process of preparing for a great Vatican Museum show that would rock the Church world and could cost people their lives?  In the process, Ian lays out the beautiful story of the Shroud of Turin.  New details that I have never heard before are revealed in the story…how much of this is factual?  How much is literary creation? 
As an “outsider”, I do not claim to know and understand the workings of the Catholic Church, nor its politics.  But will attest to the fact that not all Men-of-God are Godly men  (nor on the other hand are all Godly men, Men-of-God).  The trappings and robes that one must wear does not speak of the heart of the man beneath the robe.  This does not hold true for just the Catholic Church, but for all organized religion, in general. Even with this knowledge, it was not much assurance or help, as you tried to figure out who the bad guys were, or if there were bad guys as you careened through the pages of the novel.  Even with this seeming subterfuge and mafia style activity going on, you never felt like anyone was taking potshots at the Vatican.  This small kingdom just happened to be the location of this top rate action thriller, and because of its’ location, the fever pitch went up a notch or two.  
The sub-narrative and story is a wonderful touching story of the young priest who is trying to raise his four year old son on his own inside the Vatican grounds after his wife abandoned them shortly after the birth of his son.  One never thinks of the idea of a family growing up inside the Vatican.  But I was taken in by the simple scenes of a stressed and exhausted father sitting over a very late supper table with a son who is happy to eat the pro-offered bowl of cereal and milk for his supper, while he tries to explain why his uncle is not coming home tonight.  The sweet innocence of the child juxtaposed against the terrorizing battle going on in the mind of the “father” of the child sitting next to him at the table…in the safety of the Vatican. Layers on layers on layers. 
Ian took the time and care to develop his characters. His central characters had layers to them like an onion.  Just as you thought you had a character figured out, you discovered you had him wrong.  He paid just as close attention to the supporting characters.  The plot and sub-plot to the story were so entwined, that it took a while to realize that there were actually two plots and three story lines.  Ian just kept taking the reader back to the table.  We had to look at the facts again and again, each time we would see something new had been added or had been missed. 
Like the intimate touches of the kitchen scene, it was the minute details of the novel that make the book so believable.  You can get the sense and feeling of living in the hallowed space of the most Hallowed kingdom on earth.  
I would give this work a well earned FIVE STAR rating.  In the fast paced competative world of cutting edge religious thrillers, Ian has shown his mettle and has earned the right to challenge the wits of the most ardent literary thrill seeker.   
A copy of The Fifth Gospel was provided to Shade Tree Book Reviews and Blog in exchange for a book review.  

Ian Caldwell, author of 'The Fifth Gospel', takes us inside one of the most mysterious places in the world to reveal some little known facts about The Vatican.


Ian Caldwell is the coauthor of The Rule of Four, which spent forty-nine weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, sold nearly 2 million copies in North America, and was translated into thirty-five languages. He lives in Virginia with his wife and children.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What Kind of Reader Are You? - Guest Post


Today I want to welcome my good friend and historical/sci-fi fantasy author, L.Z. Marie.  She is the author of the Merkabah Series  and is currently working on a historical novel.  
Today, L.Z. Marie has graciously taken a break from her busy writing and teaching schedule to share with us.  Thank you, my lady.

L.Z. Marie

We all have our own reading styles and preferences. Some will read anything, while others stick to a favorite genre. You can read a book fast, skimming over the paragraphs or take it slow, savoring the words in a well-crafted sentence.
What kind of reader are YOU?
GenreWhore: Mystery, Action, SciFi, Romance, Historical, Paranormal, non-fiction—these folks don’t care what genre they read, they just need a book—NOW! Any book will do! They’re easy with formatting too. Ebook or hard copy, it matters not, both will satisfy.
E-sexual: Hard copies? Puleeeze! So old school! This reader craves the instant gratification that can only be accomplished by downloading a book whenever and wherever the mood strikes. Downloading two or more is even better—throw in a promoted freebie and it’s oh baby, yeah! Ebooks provide clandestine reading, they’re cheap ( or free ), and don’t take up room on your nightstand. Readers On The Go don’t have time for lugging books around. Another bonus, people can’t see you’re a Genre Whore.
LiteratureDom: These folks scoff at fun “beach reads.”  They demand agonizing symbols, tormenting themes, stinging allusions, and a well-bound plot. An unreliable narrator and taboo subject matter will have them begging for more. They’re not truly satisfied until they have wrestled every nuance from the tale and recruited a literature virgin into their literati lair.
NovelMadonna: Faithful to their genre, these readers know a good thing when they see it and get maximum pleasure from being true to their genre companion. Should one of their novels veer from the expected story arc they show compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. These readers often pray for the release of new titles from their favorite authors.
AuthorSlut: These folks latch onto one author and devour every book they’ve written in record time. “I love this author!” they coo to friends and family. They read the author’s blog, Amazon author page, FaceBook Fan page, follow them on Twitter, and seek them out at book signings. But when they’ve exhausted the author’s novels and are only left with “Coming Soon” promises  they move onto the next author to repeat the cycle.
Bestseller-ophile: If the book is not on the New York Times or USA Today’s best seller list, they ain’t reading it. Period. End of story. They only buy books from the high visibility ( and most expensive to place) bookstore locations—the end caps of bookshelves, promotional tables, the best seller section, high stacks, and/or if the cover is facing out.They wholeheartedly agree with the buzz generated by guerrilla marketing techniques and can talk intelligently about the hot new titles at any social gathering. They do not often bother with reading the author’s older titles and tend to be GenreWhores.
PaperPredator: The feel of the paper caressing their fingers, the sweet swoosh as they turn the page, the first crease in the binding, the delirious whiff of paper and ink. Ah! These readers will spend money for a real book! They lust for substance, heft, paper thickness, artful layout, and font styles. Real books are works of art to be enjoyed multiple times and multiple ways. Fold their pages, annotate them, use them—they plead for the pleasure of your hands. Ebooks are nothing more than technological imposters. Bah!

Did you choose one? Or are you a bit of 

About L.Z. Marie

I began writing the moment I was able to hold a crayon. I scribbled stories in elementary school, penned personalized silly tales for my friends in middle school, and joined the school newspaper in high school.
A part time job as a clerk for the local library located just  through the woods behind my house allowed ample time to wander up and down the musty wooden shelves—it was a very old library.

I attended the University of Utah for a few years until learning took a backseat to rearing four children. Luckily, I managed to squeeze in frequent trips to the library, checking out the maximum number of books each visit.
Flash forward a few years and I found myself returning to school to complete my literature degree. Teaching, more schooling, and mommy duties kept me running through the day. The moment my children were able to forage for their own food and the day after receiving my Masters, I plunged head first into my passion—writing novels. I haven’t stopped writing since.
By day, I teach literary craft and authorial technique in the International Baccalaureate program. A drive on the harrowing Southern California freeway takes me back home where I write, blog, and avoid housework.
 To date, I’m working on a second historical fiction novel. I love connecting with folks on Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram, & Pinterest.
I have a weakness for a nice glass of wine, good chocolate, ice cream, and cheese, and cupcakes, and…um well, you get the point. Exercise? Not so much. The treadmill sits in the garage where I manage to climb aboard a few times a week and attempt to catch up on what everybody else is talking about.
Folks ask about my inspiration for the Merkabah Series. That’s an easy question to answer! I’ve always been amazed by the links between ancient history and mythology. The two are so closely intertwined we don’t often make a distinction between them. And modern scientific theories only continue to prove the existence of the weird and fantastical! As a  whimsical wordsmith who relishes writing that transcends the blight of the banal, the Merkabah Series tosses science and mythology  into a cosmic salad—sprinkled with a hint of spicy seduction.
An avid reader, I savor well crafted, witty prose that makes me laugh, challenges conventionality, and stirs the imagination. An intriguing mystery-thriller, historical fiction, or urban fantasy will have me reading into the wee hours of the night.
I simply adore too many novels to name!
Quick facts:
too tall
too opinionated
Type A
mocha drinker
analyze literature for a living in the highly-acclaimed International Baccalaureate Program
history buff
always searching for the perfect purse
plan on traveling to exotic destinations…one day
can’t hit a note- so no karaoke for me
believe in the power of humor
lifelong dieter
have a  B.A. in English Literature and a Masters in Curriculum & Instruction

Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Turnip Princess

The Turnip Princess
Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales

Franz Xavier Von Schonwerth
Translated by
Maria Tatar

A rare discovery in the world of fairy tales - now for the first time in English. With this volume, the holy trinity of fairy tales - the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, and Hans Christian Andersen - becomes a quartet. In the 1850s, Franz Xaver von Schönwerth traversed the forests, lowlands, and mountains of northern Bavaria to record fairy tales, gaining the admiration of even the Brothers Grimm. Most of Schönwerth's work was lost - until a few years ago, when thirty boxes of manu­scripts were uncovered in a German municipal archive. Now, for the first time, Schönwerth's lost fairy tales are available in English.  

I grew up cutting my teeth on all the best that the Grimm Brothers had to offer.   The tales from the Black Forest of Germany and Europe were based on folk legend and tales dating back into the middle ages and older. I loved the stories of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and oh so many others.  Disney took these tales and brightened them even more into “Happily Ever After” stories.  What more could any child ever ask for growing up?  It wasn’t until my adult years when I acquired the complete works of the Brothers Grimm that I discovered just how dark their version of the old world folk tales truly were.
But taking these most ancient of oral folk legends and setting them down on paper so that they would not disappear with time was not limited to the Brothers Grimm.  Back in the mid-1800s, Franz Xavier Von Schonwerth determined that he didn’t want the folk legends of his native Bavaria to disappear with time and spent a great deal of time collecting stories from local sourceand binding them into a collection.  Some of those stories have come down through time, but others just disappeared and no one knew what became of his work until a few years ago when they were discovered in the attic of a municipal building in the Bavarian Alps. 
With the translation and release of this new collection, we have been given a glimpse into fairytales of the region and time that have not been adulterated by Hollywood or Disney.  They are refreshing and straight forward, with no preambling "Once Upon A Time" to give us hope of "Everafter".  He starts right in as an old grandmother or grandfather would in the oral tradition of "There was a boy", or a fox or whatever.  In many ways they remind me of the folk tales that Joe Hayes collected and told of Northern New Mexico, and that dated back to the 1600’s in their origins.  The basis of those same folk tales most likely having come over with the Conquistadors in the 1600’s from Spain.  
Like the nursery rhymes of old, where the farmer's wife cuts off mice's tales with butcher knives, Franz doesn't soften and frill things up and make things pretty and innocent.  Life is as life is; hard and harsh, but there are lessons to be learned.  We are not talking blood and guts and gore, but life wasn't polished and programed for evening TV viewing until within the last sixty years or so.  The New Yorker wrote an interesting article on Franz and his work. 
The Turnip Princess is a read that is a delight for story time with older kids, but more important, it is a fabulous find for folk literature.  It is not just Franz’s ability to retain the story for posterity’s sake alone, but also his obvious joy in bringing these tales to life.  With the turn of a phrase and careful attention to his storytelling skills, he makes them dance with humor and sometimes with a touch of terror.   
Hidden within each of the short stories is a basic moral lesson to be learned.  For most folk tales were in fact moral sermons.  The collection is divided into five different catagories that include:

·      Tales of Magic
·      Tales of Enchanted Animals
·      Other Worldly Creatures
·      Legends
·      Tall Tales
·      Tales About Nature

The selection of stories includes titles that capture the imagination. 

·      The Flying Trunk
·      Twelve Tortoises
·      Seven With One Blow
·      The Toad Bride
·      The Prince Dung Beetle

I have added The Turnip Princess to my children’s library, as well as consider it a wonderful literary addition to my world literature collection. The collection is going on the shelf with Aesop’s Fables, the Brother’s Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, and Joe Hayes. 

The Turnip Princess is scheduled for release February 24, 2015.

I give this book a definite FIVE STAR rating for children’s literature, world folk literature, and just a great fun read.  Net Galley provided a copy of The Turnip Princess to Shade Tree Book Reviews for the purpose of reading and reviewing.

About the Author (from Wikepedia)
Schönwerth was born in Amberg in the Upper Palatinate, the first of five children of the royal characters professor Joseph Schönwerth.From 1821 he attended the local grammar school . From 1832 he studied Cameralism in Munich, 1834 jurisprudence at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich . After first working years as a legal intern in 1840 he received a permanent position as Ratsakzessist in the Government of Upper Bavaria . From 1845 on, he was private secretary in the service of the Crown Prince Maximilian and was after his accession to the throne in 1848 his cabinet chief. In 1851 he was Executive Council. In 1852 he moved to the Bavarian Ministry of Finance as Ministerial and was raised in 1859 in the personal nobility.
Schönwerth explored 1852-1886 the life of the Upper Palatinate population and recorded his observations. Between 1857 and 1859 he published his three-volume work entitled: From the Upper Palatinate - customs and legends. But published it is only a small part of his extensive research.
Schonwerth Gravesite

Grave of Franz Xaver Schönwerth on his 125th death anniversary
During his visits in the Upper Palatinate recorded Schönwerth say , fairy tales , anecdotes , kids games , nursery rhymes and - songs and proverbs on. He watched the life in the house and yard, described the rural life, thecustoms and costumes. He left us on the basis of his notes a living image of the life of the Upper Palatinate population of the 19th century. Jacob Grimm (1785-1863) wrote of him: ". Nowhere in the whole of Germany is prudent, fuller and has been obtained so quiet sense" [ 1]
In 1886 Schönwerth died in Munich. His final resting place he found in the Old North Cemetery .

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Accidental Empress

The Accidental Empress

Allison Pataki

New York Times bestselling author Allison Pataki follows up on her critically-acclaimed debut novel, The Traitor’s Wife, with the little-known and tumultuous love story of “Sisi,” the Austro-Hungarian Empress and captivating wife of Emperor Franz Joseph.
The year is 1853, and the Habsburgs are Europe’s most powerful ruling family. With his empire stretching from Austria to Russia, from Germany to Italy, Emperor Franz Joseph is young, rich, and ready to marry.
Fifteen-year-old Elisabeth, “Sisi,” Duchess of Bavaria, travels to the Habsburg court with her older sister, who is betrothed to the young emperor. But shortly after her arrival at court, Sisi finds herself in an unexpected dilemma: she has inadvertently fallen for and won the heart of her sister’s groom. Intrigued by Sisi’s guileless charm and energetic spirit, not to mention her unrivaled beauty, Franz Joseph reneges on his earlier proposal and declares his intention to marry Sisi instead.
Plucked from obscurity and thrust onto the throne of Europe’s most treacherous imperial court, Sisi has no idea what struggles and dangers—and temptations—await her. Sisi upsets political and familial loyalties in her quest to win, and keep, the love of her emperor, her people, and of the world.
With Pataki’s rich period detail and cast of complex, compelling characters, The Accidental Empress offers a captivating glimpse into the bedrooms and staterooms of one of history’s most intriguing royal families, shedding new light on the glittering Habsburg Empire and its most mesmerizing, most beloved “Fairy Queen.”
Allison on the Today Show
One of the true joys of writing reviews about books you love, is being able to read reviews about books some of your favorite authors love.  Recently I have come across several outstanding works because someone has shared a beautiful review of a novel that has affected them.  Jan Moran, recently published a fabulous review of The Accidental Empress  by Allison Pataki,
Jan and I already share a love of history and the love of strong women in history.  After reading her wonderful five star blog about the novel and about the history of Empress Sisi of Austria, I knew this was one story that I would have to read. 
Though I have never had the personal opportunity to travel to the Alps and experience the wonders of Austria and Hungary, I have long been a student of the many musicians and historical characters who populated that region and era.  Through the magic of Allison’s pen and the diligence of her research, I found myself transported by in time.  It was here in the land of the Habsburgs, Mozart, Strauss, Lizst and many other great romantic giants that populated an era of opulence and drama that I watched a drama unfold.   
With each turn of the page, you felt as if you were walking the very halls of the great palaces with “Sisi” and “Franz”.  Suddenly history was no longer those dry facts in that 10th grade history book.  It was living and breathing on the pages beneath your fingers as you witnessed the heartbreak and longing behind the closed doors of the private apartments of the Emperor and Empress.  I loved that Allison utilized the private diaries and took quotes from those diaries and wrote them into the dialogue, so that we actually hear the voice and soul of history.  This alone added such depth to the story.  There was no artifice, this was real. 
The novel was a voice from the past.  A voice of loneliness, a voice of strength even in the face of isolation.  It was the voice of a woman who found strength when she felt she had been totally abandoned.  Her husband had turned to others (his domineering mother, other women who shared his comforts, the men of his council who demanded his focus, the people his perfection), he had nothing left for her, but still said he loved her. What an empty shell of love he had to offer.  Sisi’s mother-in-law was a tyrant.  Her word reigned supreme, even her son bowed to her iron will, isolating Sisi more and more with time, even from her own young children.  Knowing that each of the characters truly felt the heart ache, and struggled with the day-to-day drama underneath the great beauty and pomp that weighted them down on a daily basis.  Once again we were reminded of the fragility of the heart, no matter the loftiness of the status or the bulging wallet that propped up their oppulent lifestyle. 
Despite the inner politics of the court, the people of both Austria and Hungary fell in love with the beautiful Elisabeth “Sisi” Empress of Austria Hungary.  A Vanity Fair article compared the popularity and life of Empress Sisi to Princess Diana.

The only circumstance that would have made this a more enjoyable read for this humble reviewer, would have been if I could have been reclining on a ridge above Vienna, overlooking the valley and its’ river below, so I could absorb the beauty that lay on the pages before me. 

This book is a definite FIVE STAR read.  I look forward to reading additional works by Allison Pataki.

A copy of The Accidental Empress was provided by Net Galley for me to read for this review.

About the Author:
I love books. I love reading them, I love discussing them, I love writing them. I love immersing myself into a great story and having the opportunity to see a new world through a fresh set of eyes. My 99-year-old grandmother once told me: “As long as I have a good book, I will never be lonely.” I feel the same way.
I guess I should have known from the beginning that I wanted to be a writer. I had the great fortune of growing up in upstate New York, in the Hudson River Valley. As the third of four kids, I would often wander off into the woods behind my backyard and spend hours, alone, totally absorbed in my own imaginings. I’d create characters and scenes and lots of interpersonal drama. I still remember many of the characters and storylines I first imagined at around age nine. I’ve always been an avid reader, and I loved staging plays with my siblings and cousins. I recall the difficulty of trying to get my 7-year-old cousins to remember their lines from Romeo and Juliet.
At Yale I majored in English and I could not believe my good luck – suddenly I was able to spend hours doing nothing but reading, writing, and talking about books. And I got to pretend that it was work! After college, hoping to blend my love for English and History, I moved to New York City and pursued a career in journalism. Although I enjoyed so much of the work I was doing, I was sort of a misfit in the industry. I did want to study the major events unfolding in our world, and the way in which individuals reacted to and shaped these events – but the panic-inducing deadlines and the rapid-fire pace of the 24-hour news cycle were not for me.
smoothly weaves intrigue and
So, in my free time, I began to write fiction. It started out as a post-workday release, a way to unwind after the hectic newsroom. Before long, I found myself completely consumed with this new hobby. Suddenly, I was rushing home from work to grab my laptop and get to writing. I’d find myself surprised on the subway, at the grocery store, out for dinner, with some new idea for some scene or character or a piece of dialogue, and I’d run back to my apartment, worried that I might lose the idea before I could get it down on paper.

Energized and encouraged by this early part of the process, I kept going. Writing became, for me, a guilty pleasure. It was an indulgence for weeknights and weekends. It was the fun I got to have after work. Four years and three completed novels later, I realized that perhaps I was in the wrong line of work. Perhaps writing novels, even though it seemed too fun to actually bework, could in fact be my future. I was so fortunate to meet my agent at Dupree Miller and Associates and by the fall of 2012, we had signed a deal to publish my first historical fiction novel, The Traitor’s Wife, with Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster.

This was such a fun project for so many reasons, but particularly because of how close to home (quite literally) the setting was. Like The Traitor’s Wife, my next project, The Accidental Empress, will be set in a rich and captivating time period, but told from a fresh perspective. My protagonist, Sisi (also known as the Empress Elisabeth of Austria), was a woman who had a front row seat to history, though her story remains largely untold. I hope you’ll have as much fun reading my books as I have writing them.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

GUEST POST - Annette Larsen

Hello everyone, I want to welcome Annette Larsen as a Guest Contributor to my blog today.  I am interested in the dialogue that has been generated by this topic.

How Romance Novels are Contributing to Rape Culture
Annette Larsen

Before I was lucky enough to find blogs and other resources that I could rely on for book recommendations, I would troll Amazon. If a description caught my eye, I would look at the sample pages. In doing so I discovered a disturbing trend in romance novel plots. Two books still stick out in my mind. One started with a drunken man stumbling into what he thinks is his room at an Inn. He then assumes that the girl sleeping in the bed must be a prostitute and he treats her as such. The second book started with a 'gentleman' (it was a regency, I believe) coming upon a lady in a garden. He only sees her from behind and mistakes her for someone he was supposed to be meeting for a romantic rendezvous. He ends up assaulting the poor girl before realizing she's not who he thought she was. When he does realize, there is no apology. He just turns on the charm, brushes it off as no big deal, and they part ways. Later, during the social gathering they are attending, he winks at her from across the room.

I went back and read the descriptions of these books and realized that, yes, in both cases I had just met the hero and heroine of the book. These were the two people that were going to fall in love and live happily ever after.

What the crap??!! Are you kidding me?
I'm supposed to root for a relationship that started with the 'hero' sexually assaulting the heroine?? Because it was an 'innocent mistake' and 'no harm was done.' Is that what we want to teach our daughters? Is that what we want to reinforce in our sisters' and friends' minds? Setting aside the fact that the first guy was happy to stumble onto a prostitute and take advantage of her, I'm sure he's still a good guy. He just needs someone to tame him, right? His violent aggression is really just passion, I'm sure. Let's justify his behavior, make excuses for him and reinforce the idea that his choices don't have consequences and he should never feel shame for acting on his baser instincts. He's a man; that's just the way they are.


Am I supposed to believe that the girls in these narratives weren't hurt and traumatized by the situation? Am I to assume that they actually enjoyed it and these men just helped them realize that they should free their sexuality and just enjoy, regardless of whether or not they consented to it?

No. NO!

Let me be clear. I write romance novels. There are many authors who write wonderful, heart warming, love filled stories. I applaud and commend them. But this trend in other romances feeds into the idea that aggression is the same as passion, that lust is the same as love, that force is the same as persuasion, that dominance is the same as protection.


I've had reviews of my books that said it was ok, but they couldn't love the hero because they prefer their men arrogant and dominant. If that's what you're looking for, you will have to look somewhere else because I won't do it. I will continue to write about the kind of men that I will want my daughters to marry. Yes, they will have flaws, but they will have respect, they will know the importance of backing away and keeping their hands to themselves when asked. They will apologize if they ever overstep their bounds, regardless of whether they understand.
I believe in redemption. I believe in second chances. But this corrosive idea that a woman should just give in and let a man show her what she really wants is damning and dangerous.

So let's all do ourselves a favor. Let's reject those plots. Let's reject those ideas. Because if we don't, where does that leave us?

We could all take a lesson from Jane Eyre. When Mr. Rochester tried to assign the blame for his choices to her, she wouldn't allow it:

 "Then you condemn me to live wretched, and to die accursed?" His voice rose.
"I advise you to live sinless; and I wish you to die tranquil."
"Then you snatch love and innocence from me? You fling me back on lust for a passionvice for an occupation?"

"Mr. Rochester, I no more assign this fate to you than I grasp at it for myself. We were born to strive and endureyou as well as I: do so."  -Jane Eyre

Or there's this gem:

About Annette Larsen:
Annette K. Larsen fell in love with Jane Eyre in high school and later decided that if she wanted more clean, worthwhile romance novels, she might as well write few of her own. She is the wife of one handsome husband, the mother and four adorable children, and the author of Just Ella and Missing Lily. Her third book, Saving Marilee will be coming out in a few months, barring any catastrophes.

Twitter: @AnnetteKLarsen.

Thank you, Annette for sharing with us today.  I look forward to having a review for one of your novels up in the near future.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Destined for Dreams , a Series

Destined for Dreams
By Ginna Moran

Seventeen-year-old Nadia Petrov is an outcast in her tight-knit community of people with special abilities. Nadia must invade people’s dreams to survive. She sneaks into sleeping victims’ rooms, slips into their heads, and then turns their dreams into horrifying nightmares.

When a new girl arrives at her compound, Nadia can’t resist giving the girl a nightmare. In the dream world, Nadia discovers Hunter Sullivan, a soul trapped in the girl’s mind. Intrigued by Hunter, Nadia secretly builds a relationship with him in the dream world, and they find solace through each other. 
Unable to accept a love fated for dreams, Nadia must risk losing the safety of her community to help Hunter get back to his body before he’s lost forever. 
Embarrassed and conflicted by who she is, Nadia is an outcast even in her community of people with special abilities. Nadia relies on volunteers—thrill-seekers and horror junkies—to allow her to intrude their dreams. After an incident leaves her feeling more like a monster than ever, she fights to gain control over her ability. Can Nadia win the battle within herself before her humanity is lost forever? 
The Nightmare Inflictor is a prequel short story to the Destined for Dreams series.
Read as a prequel to the first book in the series, it opens the world of the book and enlarges the understanding of one the central characters. Personally, I wish I had run across this novella before I read Destined for Dreams, because it would have heightened my enjoyment of the book. Not reading it first was not a detraction, but would have just been a wonderful addition, and is a personal preference.
I deeply appreciate the fact that Ginna is taking the time to write these short, in depth novellas of the main characters. With each one, the depth and breadth of understanding of the series and the panorama of the story broadens. 
I look forward to continuing the series and watching the story blossom with each new chapter of its tale.


A new and upcoming young author has burst on the scene with a Young Adult Paranormal offering that leaves you spooked enough to make you think twice about a good night’s sleep.  Ginna Moran has reached into a world filled with people who have genetic special abilities, especially psychological ones.  How does one function in the normal world when you are not “normal”? Well, you don’t very well, especially if your abilities are super paranormal.  The human population of this future earth wasn’t so comfortable with this group of “super” being, either.
With the telling of the story of four young people who seek to find a safe haven in a world that is on edge because of human fear of their paranormal abilities, mistakes happen, lives are lost, and the least likely of people find bonds of friendship and even love as they seek to save the soul of one friend who otherwise will be lost forever.
What strikes me most about this novel is that these four young people, who have very little in common except for their uniqueness, come together in such a tight bond to protect and aid each other as the world continues to close in on them.  Even with their potential deadly differences, they come to care for each other and reach beyond their own fears and concerns as two of the principal characters circumstances continue to deteriorate. 
What each of the characters craves most is to “belong”, to “be accepted”, to be “loved” for who they are.  Though a universal theme, Ginna presents it in such a way, as to be appealing to not just the younger audience she wrote this for, but to a wider audience.  For we all know and understand that longing and need for acceptance and friendship, and can easily identify with the angst and terror that the characters are feeling as the story progresses.
The twisted kink of the love interest being between a soul living in the mind of a Sin-Eater, and a Nightmare Inflictor is truly original.  The only time they can communicate is when the Nightmare Inflictor, enters the Sin-Eater’s dreams to visit and talk to the Innocent Soul that was inadvertently trapped.  The interpersonal dynamics between the four main characters is complex, as the Soul Eater is not aware that the other two girls know about the guy who lives in her head and in turn she is not aware of the Nightmare Inflictor’s ongoing invasion of her dreams. 
I was thankful when I reached the last page of the book, for I knew I would be soon reading the continuing story of this interesting set of friends in a turned-upside-down-world.  Though the story is complex and intricate, the underlying story of the power of friendship and the fight for right is straight forward and powerful.  I see great promise for the entire series, as it unfolds and we come to know and appreciate each of the characters of this debut novel better.
I would definitely recommend Destined for Dreams by Ginna Moran. 

The Nightmare Inflictor
Ginna Moran

Born half-human and half-nightmare inflictor, seventeen-year-old Nadia Petrov struggles to find balance between her humanity and her predatory side. She must invade dreams to survive, though she hates inflicting terror in people.

Embarrassed and conflicted by who she is, Nadia is an outcast even in her community of people with special abilities. Nadia relies on volunteers—thrill-seekers and horror junkies—to allow her to intrude their dreams. After an incident leaves her feeling more like a monster than ever, she fights to gain control over her ability. Can Nadia win the battle within herself before her humanity is lost forever?

The Nightmare Inflictor is a prequel short story to the Destined for Dreams series. 

The Nightmare Inflictor was a wonderful addition to the Destined for Dreams Series. The series of vignettes about Nadia's dream sequences, her interactions with her best friend Alyssa, and her coveted short times with her beloved father gave great insight into this puzzling young lady. 
Read as a prequel to the first book in the series, it opens the world of the book and enlarges the understanding of one the central characters. Personally, I wish I had run across this novella before I read Destined for Dreams, because it would have heightened my enjoyment of the book. Not reading it first was not a detraction, but would have just been a wonderful addition, and is a personal preference. I deeply appreciate the fact that Ginna is Qtaking the time to write these short, in depth novellas of the main characters. With each one, the depth and breadth of understanding of the series and the panorama of the story broadens. 

I look forward to continuing the series and watching the story blossom with each new chapter of its tale. 

* Where did the idea of an innocent soul living in a Sin Eater's mind come from?

When I was plotting Destined for Dreams, I knew that Nadia had to stumble upon some sort of major secret in a person’s head. One so big, that it would turn her world upside down. So I thought, what would be the craziest, most unexpected thing to discover in a dream? And that’s how Hunter came about. His character was much louder than his host, Jacqueline, so he ended up with his own perspective.

After I knew that Hunter had to somehow exist in someone else’s mind, I thought about all the different kinds or supernatural creatures who could do such a thing. I came across the idea of a sin-eater in my research and tailored Jacqueline’s abilities so she was capable of manipulating souls while also easily hiding who she was and what she could do. I put limits on all my creatures abilities, so they’re not all powerful, and since a sin-eater needs sins to redeem a soul, one who doesn’t carry the burden of major sins would not be redeemable and become trapped as a sort of punishment. Hunter is Jacqueline’s reminder that she’s not all-powerful.

* What drew you to the YA fantasy genre?  

I’ve loved fantasy for as long as I remember. I was a huge fan of Anne Rice as a teenager and actually wrote my first unpublished novel when I was fresh out of high school. My voice was distinctly young adult as were my themes and characters, so that’s how I ended up writing YA fantasy. My voice never grew up. Besides fantasy, I also enjoy writing YA contemporary that deals with themes of self-discovery and overcoming obstacles. Hopefully I’ll be able to share novels across both those sub-genres in YA.

*In the story Nadia struggle's with the perception of her as a monster.  I read your prequel novella, The Nightmare Inflictor.  After reading this, I came to understand that Nadia was half human and half Super.  Can you tell us how this affected her?

Coming from a nightmare inflictor father and a human mother left Nadia straddling both the human world and the supernatural world. Unlike her father who is in complete control over his ability and hasn’t known anything different, Nadia struggles with the constant fight between her humanity and her nightmare inflictor side. She wants the same control over her ability and life like she has when she takes control of a dream world. She despises that she lives off creating nightmares, with possible psychological effects on her volunteers/victims, and knowing her mother succumbed to insanity caused by nightmares, it gives her more awareness of the damage she can unintentionally cause if she lets her nightmare inflictor half take control.

*Destined to Dream is the first book in a series.  Can you tell us about the series and your vision for the series?

The Destined for Dreams series will follow Nadia and Hunter and their journey in navigating a world that leaves them star-crossed. As the series progresses we’ll get to see Nadia and Hunter manage life outside of the dream world and also get to see where Hunter comes from. It’ll definitely be a rollercoaster ride for all my characters. Besides Nadia and Hunter’s story I also have planned two companion series which will take place in the same Destined for Dreams world with different main characters, but don’t worry, some of the favorites will still make appearances.

*What is the title of your next novel that will be released?  What is the premise? When will it be out?

The next novel in the Destined for Dreams series is called Destined for Despair and will be out in early March. Below you can find the book blurb.

Life isn’t easy for seventeen-year-old Nadia Petrov once she’s in love Hunter Sullivan, a boy whose mother is on the board of the Human Preservation Agency, an organization determined to kill people with special abilities like her own. Desperate to experience a forever love, Nadia and Hunter risk their lives to be together even though the discovery of their relationship will not only destroy it, but will kill them in the aftermath.

A swell in HPA activity in a nearby city puts Nadia and Hunter on edge. Nadia finds her world falling apart when someone she loves is captured by the HPA and held prisoner in their termination facility.

Nadia and Hunter’s relationship must survive the ultimate test when Nadia, with the help of her friends, plans to cross enemy lines on a rescue mission to free her loved one. Faced with a heartbreaking decision, Nadia must decide if her love for Hunter is worth the fight or if she should accept that their life together is destined for despair…

Ginna Moran started writing poetry as a teenager in a spiral notebook that she still has tucked away on her desk today. Her love of writing grew after she graduated high school and she completed her first unpublished manuscript at age eighteen.

When she realized her love of writing was her life’s passion, she studied literature at Mira Costa College in Northern San Diego. Besides writing young adult novels, she was senior editor, content manager, and image coordinator for Crescent House Publishing Inc. for four years.

Aside from Ginna’s professional life, she enjoys binge watching television shows, playing pretend with her daughter, and cuddling with her dogs. Some of her favorite things include chocolate, anything that glitters, cheesy jokes, and organizing her bookshelf.

Ginna is currently hard at work on her next novel.

Links to Books by Ginna Moran at

                   Advance Order: