The Barbarian Before Christmas

Due to the number of books in this series I’m just going to add the link to the list of books I’ve reviewed by Ruby Dixon. While this is apart of the Ice Planet Barbarian series, it still requires you to have read the first book in the Icehome series.

The Barbarian Before Christmas   description:

The growing barbarian tribe is about to celebrate No-Poison Day – a time of love, laughter, and gifts. But all Elly wants is for her mate to be at her side before the brutal season arrives. All Bek wants is a way to quickly return to his female despite the mountains between them. Thanks to the talents of a newcomer…they’re both about to get their wish and celebrate the happiest of holidays together

BOOK 17.5: The Barbarian Before Christmas    5 STARS

This was a short story, but still managed to give such a fun look at their No Poison Day celebration. I love these short stories because you get to see so many of the couples and get a more rounded view of what’s going on in the village, both in Croatoan and Icehome. The main focus was on Bek and Elly, who are definitely my favorite couple. I loved that Dixon didn’t just automatically “fix” Elly. Elly loves Bek and they have a great relationship, but she still has trouble socializing, and hasn’t gotten over her fears, such as needing someone else to taste her food before she eats. Perhaps I like her so much because I can relate to the anxiety and depression of being a part from the one you love for long periods of time, and altogether Dixon handled it perfectly. After them, seeing Lila and getting to know what it was like for her being able to hear now was wonderful. I’d been curious considering she hadn’t seemed all that moved over the change when it first happened, but in this we really get to experience what it’s meant to her. All the Barbarians, humans, and new alien men gave a lot to this story even in such a short format, and it always just makes me want more.

Advertisements

Elizabeth Corrigan has been INTERVIEWED!!!

1.      What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

I’m Elizabeth Corrigan! The best place to find me is on Facebook.

Twitter: @ERCorrigan

Website: www.elizabethrcorrigan.com

2.      Tell us a little about your life outside of the world of writing.

Well, I’m just coming out of NaNoWriMo, so I’m a little like, “What is life outside of writing?” 😉

By day I am an Army contractor. I’m a QA data analyst for a part of the Army that works on monitoring and preventing suicides and other behavioral health issues. By night, when I’m not writing, I’m usually playing games. I’m a huge fan of cooperative board games and tabletop role-playing games.

3.       How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.

I wrote my first novel in high school. My friends all liked it, but in actuality, it was terrible. It was an over-dramatic contemporary young adult novel. My published novels are all fantasy novels—the first three books in the Earthbound Angels series and my mystery/fantasy Catching a Man. Last week I finished the first draft of my first science fiction novel, which I hope to publish next fall.

4.      What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…

My writing has so many influences, it’s hard to pick any as the “greatest.” Probably the thing that has sparked the most plots for me is my dreams. I can’t count how many times I’ve woken up from a vivid dream and thought, “That would be a great novel!” Sometimes it pans out and sometimes it does not.

My Earthbound Angels series is most influenced by the television show Supernatural and the Nightside books by Simon R. Green. Probably the biggest fiction influence on Catching a Man was the novel Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder. She wrote about a military dictatorship who were the good guys, and I wanted to do something just as different.

As for my writing structure, that has been influenced a lot by Red Adept Publishing/Editing. They’ve really helped me clean up my style.

5.      Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…

I just finished the first draft of a science fiction novel called Arachne’s Web. It’s a space opera about a group of characters who are suddenly having memories of past lives. One of its working titles is “Space Trains” because the primary method of traveling between moons is trains in space. And yes, one of the first scenes features two of the characters robbing the train.

Up next after that is the sequel to Catching a Man, because I’ve been putting that off for way too long.

6.      How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?

I spent a lot of time planning books in my head before I write anything down. It’s something for my mind to do when I’m bored on a long car drive or I’m trying to fall asleep. At this point in time, I’m on-and-off working on about 6 series in my head. I generally do a brief outline, just a one-liner of what’s going to be in each chapter, before I start writing, and I find that my outlines change a lot as I write the novel.

7.      What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

I always say my strength is punchy dialogue. I like writing conversations between characters. People also tell me I’m good at having distinct voices for my characters. My weakness is descriptions. I don’t pay attention to them when I read, so I don’t bother putting them in my first drafts. I have whole scenes that have no real setting. So when I edit, I need to pay extra close attention to putting in that kind of detail.

8.      After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

Can I go back and make marketing my weakness on the above question? I’m definitely not great at it. I’m trying out some new things, though, that will hopefully work out. BookRazor is a great service that will help you find reviewers.

9.      What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

If someone asks you to pay for their publishing service, they are not a real publisher! Read the Query Shark archives to learn how to query (and write book descriptions). Don’t believe people when they say you have to write for you—you can write for any reason you want. But you’ll probably be happiest if you’re writing for yourself.

The Stroke of Eleven

BOOK 1: The Beast of Talesend  by  Kyle Robert Shultz

BOOK 2: The Tomb of the Sea Witch

The Stroke of Eleven  description:

The adventures of Beaumont and Beasley are at an end.

The Council of Scions has finally caught up with Nick Beasley and his friends–and the sinister enchantress Madame Levesque has plans for them. Nick and Cordelia must solve an ancient mystery for her. Otherwise, Crispin and Molly will be lost forever.

The investigation leads Nick and Cordelia to the Castle of Basile, a bizarre place detached from space and time. Old friends are trapped there, and Nick and Cordelia are soon imprisoned along with them. Their jailer is the Fairy Godmother from the tale of Cinderella…who turns out to be far less benevolent than the storybook version.

A masked man offers to help–but can the White Rabbit really be trusted? What is Cinderella’s dark secret? And what will happen when the clock strikes twelve?

BOOK 3: The Stroke of Eleven   3 STARS

Like the other books, this was a new and rather dark twist on the fairy tales we know and love. After surviving on the run for so long, they’re finally captured. It’s interesting to be back dealing with the Council, as well as Nick’s dream Beast still coming in to play, and them finally questioning what really happened to Cordelia’s father. It helps to tie the stories together to develop this larger over arching plot, and not just a new case of the week. The building of the time loop, and how the world changes around them was fascinating, and practically apocalyptic. And while this is supposed to be about Cinderella’s real story, it was surprisingly more Beauty and the Beast than even the first book was. With the outfits, the song, and even living furniture making little debuts, which was rather charming. However, I found it ridiculous how the other magic users in the story kept ignoring Nick because he was just an ordinary guy, even if he is currently a beast. After all he’d done and the cases he’s solved, it felt like a rather strange turn of events to act like any idea he comes up with couldn’t possibly be worth their time. Also, while this story had so much to offer, and a lot of questions were answered, as well as plenty of plot lines that could build for more stories, it ultimately ended up being rather predictable. The “big reveals” were more of a confirmation of what you already knew. It was a good book, but just wasn’t on par with the previous stories. Even the whole sci-fi bit of Doctor Who style clockwork people and robots really tainted the normally magical aspect. Plus there were a lot of typos. It feels like Shultz may have rushed this story. I still do look forward to see what happens next, especially after that ending which really makes me wonder which Liddell was in that locked room.

The Last Days of Lady Cordelia

The Last Days of Lady Cordelia  by  Kyle Robert Schultz  description:

Lady Cordelia Beaumont is dying.

That’s what her mysterious nurse tells her, at least. Even worse, her magic powers have abandoned her, her friends are missing, and her whole world has completely changed. Everyone around her is insisting that magic and fairy tales aren’t real. Even the name of her city is different. She’s not in Talesend any more—she’s in a place called London.

Cordelia is determined to return to her own reality, but dark forces are working against her. An old friend may be able to help—but he doesn’t remember who she is.

Who are the Neverwolves? What is the secret of the Shadow Parallel? And how can Cordelia use magic to escape from a world where magic doesn’t exist?

BOOK 1: The Last Days of Lady Cordelia   4 STARS

Honestly this shouldn’t really be considered a series all on its’ own. It’s really just part of the regular Beaumont and Beasley series, like maybe BOOK 2.5, because it seems to pick up where The Tomb of the Sea Witch left off. Although it is taking place in a sort of other world, it wouldn’t really make sense without reading the other 2 books. However, it is a rather short story, but an interesting one that does promise a more intricate plot later on. I really loved the idea of the Neverwolves, and how this isn’t just some throwaway short story that can be easily done without. It’s a really good tale, and one that didn’t need to be a full book, but definitely makes me want more. The only thing is that it did need better editing. There were typos that could’ve been easily fixed with another read through. Regardless, worth the read and can’t wait for the next one.

Murder in Little Shendon

Murder in Little Shendon  by  A.H. Richardson  description:

MURDER IN LITTLE SHENDON Picture, if you will, a picturesque village called Little Shendon, suddenly caught up in dealing with a murder of one of its citizens – not a particularly well-liked one at that. Which makes it all the more intriguing because the list of suspects becomes very long. This tantalizing tale unfolds with delightful twists and turns to find out whodunit to Mr. Bartholomew Fynche, the murdered shopkeeper. Fear grips the community as the investigation slowly progresses. Everyone is interviewed; everyone is suspect! From the murdered man’s housekeeper to Lady Armstrong, her staff and her nephew. Or could it be the shy librarian new in town? Or the defiant retired army major and his ladyfriend, the post mistress? Or perhaps the weird sisters who live on the edge of town? Then there is the couple who own the local inn and pub, along with the two Americans who are staying there? Even the vicar and his wife fall under the gloom of suspicion. Uncertainty, wariness, and terror reign as neighbors watch neighbors to discover the evil that permeates their upturned lives. No one feels safe in this charming little village. A.H. Richardson, noted author, places in your trembling hands a mystery murder that will keep you reading until you learn the details, uncovered by Police Inspector Stanley Burgess and his two amateur detectives, his friend Sir Victor Hazlitt and the famed Shakespearean actor Beresford Brandon. Scratch your head with them over the strange clues that turn up. Follow them as they tread carefully among the landmines that appear innocent as they lie hidden beneath the surface of mystery. Something evil skulks in this tiny country village. Who is the murderer? And why was this strange uncivil man dispatched in such a seemingly civil community? You are challenged to discover the culprit before the last few pages. And no fair looking ahead – it’s the journey that proves the most enticing.

BOOK 1: Murder in Little Shendon   3 STARS

This book has an interesting premise, and a mystery that enjoys its’ share of twist and turns. The cast of characters are varied, which helped move the story along. It’s failings, though, begin with the setting. I’m not really sure when it is. The further you get in the more you can figure it’s some time right after WWII, I’m guessing, but it was rather odd not having an exact way to know. Which is even more strange, considering how factual the style of writing is, for it to not give you this one fact that would help create the image of the world better in your mind. And yes, the writing style was very matter-of-fact. You meet a person and the author gives you a detailed description of their looks along with little habits they might have and their level of intelligence all right off the bat. It’s a lot of tell and very little show. You don’t really get other characters perspectives of whoever you’re dealing with. It makes for a rather one-dimensional view, because the author just tells you exactly what is happening in a straight forward manner that can make it almost monotonous. They hang up the phone, they let their hand linger, they think about the conversation and then they turn to do whatever action they’re about to do. It’s very precise, but it’s not exactly the sort that brings things to life. And in being precise, Richardson also gets repetitive. Information that is in no way important will be repeated ad nauseam, and after a while it just feels like filler to stretch the story out. An okay book that could’ve done with better editing, and a little livening up.

Covering Up Freedom

You know what I find hilarious, is how big a hypocrite the average American is. We like to talk about how much better we are than folks in the Middle East, how we have freedoms and we don’t make our women cover up. No hijabs for our women, and definitely no burkas. And yet we’re constantly criticizing women and girls for the clothes they wear if they show even a bit of skin. If you’re wearing a short skirt and you get raped, well you shouldn’t have been wearing something so revealing. Of course no one wants to talk about the women who were wearing extremely conservative clothes and still get raped, because I’m sure there was some other reason she was asking for it.

But even before we get to the extreme of rape, there’s little things that constantly show how men in this country think it’s women’s responsibility to keep guys from being distracted by the fact there’s a woman in the room. One of the easiest places to notice this is at school. How many articles have we read where a girl was pulled from class, often missing several classes that day, because of something she was wearing. Now it’s one thing to have dress codes, most places of work have them, but the schools seem to be a bit extreme about them

I currently work in a college, I’m not allowed to wear jeans or flip flops, and that’s the end of the rules. Now I’m sure if I really pushed it to the extremes and showed up in booty shorts and a tank top they would probably make some new rules, but the average outfit I wear are the same things these girls are being punished for. One girl was wearing tights with a baggy shirt that hid all her curves and hung well below her butt. But they considered her tights too revealing, because apparently men don’t know girls have legs. Another case was a girl who got pulled for wearing jeans, a tank top, and a flowy long sleeve cardigan. The reason? They could see her clavicle. So I guess we should require girls need to wear turtlenecks year round.

We’re basically telling girls their education isn’t as important, and that men are in no way in control of themselves and if they realize you have a body under those clothes then they’re not going to be able to stop whatever they do to you. Of course they’re thing is that the girls are distracting the guys from learning. I’m sorry, but do you think that none of the girls may be distracted by the guys just because they think they’re hot? Especially high school, the kids are going to spend most of the time distracted by each other no matter what they’re wearing. What needs to be taught is regardless of what someone is wearing, you need to respect their space, and learn to turn your eyes away in order to get your work done.

But the most disturbing, isn’t when it’s high-schoolers they’re dealing with, but when it’s young girls in middle or even elementary school. For wearing cutesy little outfits, once again usually leggings under a dress or what not. What is wrong with these people to look at a little girl and say she’s too sexually provocative. And these aren’t girls dressed to look grown up, they definitely look like a little girl wearing the average little girl outfit.

We want to say we’re so much better than those other countries or religions that make women cover themselves from head to toe, and yet that’s basically what we’re asking of women now. Any time something untoward happens to a woman the first thing we blame is how they looked. It isn’t the perpetrators fault that you were too enticing for him to control himself, because apparently we’ve never taught men to keep their hands to themselves.

But far worse isn’t the men who may think this way, it’s the women who say it’s okay for men to think this way. So the question is, do you want to live in a country that is free and respects women, or do you want to go ahead and admit that you’d rather us wear a burka?

Why Yoga Isn’t Religious

Yes, yoga was started in religions such as Buddhism, but the actual act of doing yoga isn’t really some huge announcement that you follow these religions. I was just watching a video about how a school has implemented meditation for students who are acting up, rather than give them detention. Since doing this they’ve noticed an improvement in students’ behavior and having to discipline children has dropped dramatically. But the majority of comments on there were either saying this violates the rule of separation of church and state or basically saying it’s demonic. Neither of these are true.

First off, meditation isn’t just for Buddhist, the Bible on many occasions mentions meditating on God’s word. So how about instead of jumping to conclusions on how evil the act of meditating is because someone mentions it in conjunction with yoga, you actually open your Bible and learn a bit about your own religion. Of course, upon pointing that out it sounds like I’m in fact saying it would be a violation of separating church and state. But have you ever been upset or angry and decide to go find a quiet corner where you could take a deep breath and mull over your problems and calm down and come to reasonable conclusion. To block out the rest of the world and really focus within and what you’re really going through. OMG you’ve meditated! Unless they’re asking them to pray to some god out there, then they are in no way bring church into the school.

Then beyond that, there’s doing yoga moves. I saw a comment once talking about how Buddhist believe doing yoga will do something or other to the universe. I honestly don’t know enough about Buddhism to know what they may believe on the subject and I barely remember what the guy was specifically rambling about. But I do know one thing, if you believe in God, and believe he is the only God, then how on earth could doing yoga impower someone else’s religion? Either God is the only God or your whole religion is wrong. So you really got to ask yourself how strong is your faith if this is your fear.

More so, there are only so many ways the body can move. You’ve probably done bits and pieces of yoga without even knowing it. Every done a plank? It’s in yoga. Ever been doing push-ups and went into the push-up rest position? Ooo that’s downward facing dog. And if you’ve ever seen a runner stretching that weird stretch where the stick one leg far behind the other and lean forward to stretch the back calf muscle, you’ve have witnessed warrior 1, with perhaps their arms not up in the air.

A while ago I injured my back pretty bad; I had to do 6 months of physical therapy to be able to walk without being in excruciating pain. To be able to move and do simple tasks. I went to lift up a picture frame once and I couldn’t do it because my back muscles just wouldn’t move in that way. The exercises I did to strengthen my core muscles was pretty much yoga, with maybe someone weightlifting tossed in. Yoga just blends it into a smooth move from one sort of stretch and strength training to the next. But ultimately, it’s the sort of work out plenty of people have done in various ways.

For some yoga can be a spiritual act, but for most it’s just a way to build strength and balance while calming themselves down after a stressful day. I mean sometimes I need to go beat the crap out of my punching back to work the stress out, but sometimes I need my yoga DVD with the woman’s whose voice slowly puts my husband to sleep while I try and fail to do the position she’s twisting herself into. It doesn’t in anyway alter my faith in God, because for me it’s just a workout. And anyone who can see evil in the fact that a school has found a peaceful and positive way to help children deal with their emotions and be able to function in school, I think you’re the problem not the yoga.

Lauren’s Barbarian

While this is a spin-off series of The Ice Planet Barbarians, it’s still rather tied to the series and I disagree that it can stand alone. At the very least you should read the first book of IPB.

Lauren’s Barbarian  by  Ruby Dixon  description:

A lush, tropical island on an icy planet makes no sense.

Then again, not much makes sense anymore after waking up and finding myself not in bed but on a strange world populated by aliens. Since that moment, I’ve learned that nothing is normal anymore and I’ve got to roll with the punches. I can handle this, though. I’m strong and capable.

So… washed up on a tropical island? Got it handled.
Separated from the others in my group? Handled.
Stranded alone with a brutal but delicious alien man that can’t speak English but has great…ahem…body language? Yup, handled.

Add in the fact that my cootie – a symbiont I need to survive – has chosen my big, hulking alien friend as my fated mate? Let’s just say that the situation isn’t the only thing that’s going to be handled.

But it isn’t long before I learn that the tropical island paradise is a death trap and we’re all in grave danger, aliens and humans alike. To survive this, I’ll need my tempting guy to give me a hand with the situation…good thing he’s got four of them.

BOOK 1: Lauren’s Barbarian   4 STARS

This book starts when they’re finally letting the captives out of the pods, and how they all reacted, and what exactly happened while Taushen and Brooke were away. First off, I’m so glad we finally discovered the secret of the island Josey saw way out at sea. It also does tie into events that happened earlier in the IPB series, and so it was nice that even as it’s breaking off into a rather new story line, it’s still staying consistent with the previous books of this world. Though at first I was a little miffed that we finally find the 4 armed natives that was hinted at previously in the carvings of Croatoan, and it turns out they also are blue with tails and horns, and also calling themselves Sakh. But honestly it was rather clever of Dixon to think about the different species mixing together, and who knows how other Sakh ended up on the island, but it’s not really that far-fetched. Once I realized that it made me like it all the more. And again we’re dealing with a human and alien overcoming a language barrier, and having to work together to save the tribe. It was developed nicely, and of course it sets up for so many more stories with the new Icehome tribe, and learning how they’re going to come together and survive this new world they’ve all suddenly been tossed on. Lauren is likeable and practical. She’s a little unsure of resonance at first but she doesn’t put up a big fight with it, which was nice to be able to have someone just happy to have a man that’s completely devoted to them. The set up of the island and the tribes was interesting, and of course leaves me wondering about the mysterious 4th tribe that no one meets. But altogether it was a fun addition to the series whether Dixon wants to call in the same series or not.

The Sugar Queen

The Sugar Queen  by  Sarah Addison Allen  description:

Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night…. Until she finds her closet harboring Della Lee Baker, a local waitress who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother. With Della Lee’s tough love, Josey’s narrow existence quickly expands. She even bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who is hounded by books that inexplicably appear when she needs them—and who has a close connection to Josey’s longtime crush. Soon Josey is living in a world where the color red has startling powers, and passion can make eggs fry in their cartons. And that’s just for starters.
Brimming with warmth, wit, and a sprinkling of magic, here is a spellbinding tale of friendship, love—and the enchanting possibilities of every new day.
The Sugar Queen    5 STARS
Warning: This book will make you crave every sugary goodness that you ever heard of and then some. I love Allen’s books, because they’re always filled with such hope and possibility. There’s never any direct magic, but there’s always these little things. Men who literally can’t break their promises, books that appear when you need them, and the color red bringing about good things. Josey is a character that’s easy to understand, she has a secret love of candy and romance novels, and has no clue what to do when her secret love suddenly shows interest in her. She’s trapped in a town that still holds the things she did as a small child against her, with a mom who doesn’t want her to be able to go out and find her own life. But as usual it’s never just about one person finding her way in the world. There’s Chloe, Jake, Adam, and even several others who get swept up in the story as you go. Allen always create a world that is alive and real in the way that you know these sorts of places, and either are or have met these kinds of people. Yet this isn’t a simple every day story, and I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up late reading it, and immediately started back the moment I woke up. Fantastic!

Barbarian’s Tease

Due to the number of books in this series I’m just going to add the link to the list of books I’ve reviewed by Ruby Dixon.

Barbarian’s Tease  by  Ruby Dixon  description:

It should have been a one-night stand.

I never intended to seduce Taushen, but things happened. I don’t dwell on the past and while it was great, I’m not looking for a relationship. Of course, try telling that to Taushen. The big blue alien’s in love after one night, and it’s making things darn awkward. We’ve got bigger problems than whether or not I’m his woman, like the ‘cargo’ of the space ship that landed here.

But Taushen’s not giving up. He thinks I’m his mate.
And he’ll do anything to keep me.

BOOK 16: Barbarian’s Tease  4 STARS

I hesitated to read this book for so long because of all the people making it sound like Brooke was just this horrible person, but honestly I really felt for her. I don’t consider it a spoiler since it all happens within like the first few pages of the book, but it turns out while trapped together on the ship Brooke was basically roofied, and Taushen unwittingly took advantage of her during a time when she couldn’t stop herself. Brooke is upset over what happened, while she had technically enjoyed it she still hadn’t been in a position to say no. And Taushen is equally mortified to know she hadn’t truly wanted him, and that he’d misunderstood when she tried to tell him she was roofied. But what actually upset me wasn’t that Brooke wasn’t willing to be his mate after that, why would she suddenly change her mind when she’d never wanted to be anyone’s mate, and hadn’t truly been throwing herself at him. It was that Taushen suddenly pushes her aside, won’t let Brooke talk to him, and then his idea to fix the situation where he’d taken advantage of her (even if he too was in a way a victim) was to kidnap her. Then act like a child over the idea of someone else playing with his toy. The beginning was a bit much to swallow, and it made me really not like Taushen. However, Dixon does move the characters on past that, and they do finally get to deal with their issues, and come to truly understand each other. There’s a lot of growth on both of their parts, and Taushen does quickly understand the mistake he’s made and does his best to remedy them and do right by Brooke. As Brooke puts it, these aren’t human men, their culture is completely different, and you can’t judge them by human standards. I mean yes there has been a lot of kidnapping going on, but this was the first one that really bothered me. Regardless, as the plot develops, and the ending comes about setting up the new spin-off series, it turns out to be a good story, and has me wanting more.