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.

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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.

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.

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.

The Alien’s Mail-Order Bride

The Alien’s Mail-Order Bride  by  Ruby Dixon  description:

Though still carrying the scars of his past as an intergalactic soldier, Emvor doesn’t mind the quiet of his chosen life as a farmer. He doesn’t even mind that most nights are lonely on remote Cassa, but he does need help around his farm. A mail-order bride from his homeworld seems like the perfect solution. She’ll be a tall, sturdy female to help with the chores and bear his children.

Unfortunately, the person that arrives is Nicola. She’s small, delicate…and human. She also knows nothing about farming, and she’s lied and deceived her way across the galaxy to get to Cassa so she can hide from those that would capture her. She’s a problem, and also the most enticing thing he’s ever seen.

Now Emvor has to decide…can he keep the woman who’s nothing like what he asked for but is everything he needs?

The Alien’s Mail-Order Bride    4 STARS

This was a fun little novella, and if you’ve read Dixon’s Ice Planet Barbarians series then it’s in the same universe, though you don’t have to in order to enjoy this story. Having read her other books, it was interesting to see what happens to humans out there. It’s illegal to trade in them, even though people frequently do, but even when they’re “saved” by the authorities their fate is no better. It’s one of the things that makes you immediately sympathetic to Nicola’s plight, and something that Emvor feels as well. Dixon did a great job of developing these characters quickly, and really making the relationship that grows between them realistic and rather sweet. That’s really what this story is all about, even as it’s out in space and about a human on the run, it’s rather low-key and focuses on what Emvor and Nicola are feeling, what they want out of life, and what ultimately ends up making them the perfect couple. Altogether, quite enjoyable.

The Martian

The Martian by Andy Weir  description:

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills — and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit — he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

The Martian   5 STARS

I actually saw the movie before reading the book, and so I knew a lot of what to expect, and in a way it helped me visualize what was going on. But as funny as Matt Damon was playing Watney, it’s no where near the level of humor that is so easily displayed in the book. You wouldn’t think that a book about a man stranded on Mars with one thing after the next going wrong and him almost dying every other page would be hilarious, but it is. Watney is a very light-hearted man, with a quirky view of the world, and is just trying to make the most of what life he may have left. There is a lot of science in this book, and it tries to show things in a realistic way. But you’re also dealing with a character who decides to use terms like pirate-ninja for measurements instead of the long convoluted names you’re supposed to use. We also get a look at what’s going on back on Earth, and how they’re all working to save Watney, but the best part of that is when they’re just trying to figure out what he’s doing, and the comparison between their conclusions and the actual facts once more is worth a giggle. As extreme as the situations got, and having to take breaks just because my little baby heart couldn’t take worrying over this guy for another page, it was a wonderful book. I couldn’t put it down, and I had to know how it would all play out in the end. Even having watched the movie, I still had to know whether or not he was going to be okay.

Jon Lee Grafton has been INTERVIEWED!!!

1. What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?
Jon Lee Grafton, you can find me at
 www.twitter.com/jonleegrafton.  

2. Tell us a little about your life outside of the world of writing.
I dwell in Kansas City on the Kansas side, two blocks from the Missouri line at the moment.  As a human who prefers to smoke his cocktails instead of drinking them, my life outside of writing involves living with a constant, subtle paranoia that I’m doing something wrong.  Accordingly, I spend a lot of time thinking about equality and civil rights as they apply to American citizens who make alternative, health-conscious, recreational drug choices.  I’m also a fine art & architectural photographer, which is my “day job.”  I drink copious amounts of green tea, smoke hand-rolled American Spirit cigarettes, wear sunglasses too much and read as much indie science fiction as I possibly can on my phone.  I also spend time with my elderly mother helping her remember the joy of yesterday, and in the evenings hang out with my girlfriend, Tiana and our cat, Lebowski, “the dude.”  Tiana’s making me watch The Office on Netflix right now, nope had never seen it until 2 months ago – and that show makes me cry laughing.       

3. How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.
I started writing poetry and nonfiction short stories in college, that was circa 1993 – 1998.  I published a few poems and stories back in the 90’s with literary magazines… but I stopped around 1999 and became seduced by the evils of photography for about 12 years.  I didn’t write anything new until I began working on The 18th Shadow, my current sci-fi series, in 2013.  

4. What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…
#1, the epiphanies and understandings made possible by psychedelic drug use throughout my life.  On a less existential plane; I found my father dead in bed from a drug overdose when I was 16 years old.  I am now 45.  But I realize that moment, for me, was and always will be the moment.  It’s when my life changed in indescribably profound ways – and it was the tragedy, balance and understanding of this experience that pushed me to spend my life being an artist instead of a stock broker.  A stock broker can mingle with the wealthy and is loved by their clients.  An artist can mingle with anyone and is loved by everyone, thus in truly vain human fashion, I spend my days pursuing love, freedom and attention in all forms.  I ain’t gonna lie.  Other authors…?  Nonfiction; Charles Bukowski and Raymond Carver will always be my greatest inspirations.  As for fiction, I’m a certified geek, so I always read sci-fi these days – and those authors who have inspired me range from Hugh Howey to George RR Martin to Allen Steele, Dan Simmons, Phillip K Dick and Neal Stephenson.  I recently read a great trilogy called The Breakers Series by an author I hadn’t heard of before named Edward R Robertson.  

5. Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…
Asking me to make something up is dangerous.  Truth be told, being as predictable as possible, I am currently writing Escape from Hypatia 5, the fourth installment of The 18th Shadow Series.  There will be 6 books in all and this will be my primary project for the foreseeable.

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 story board on Post-It notes that adorn the sides of my computer monitor and a framed black and white poster of Clint Eastwood as The Outlaw Josey Wales that hangs on the wall beside my desk.  I rarely actually look at the Post-It’s once they’re up, but having them there for the current project somehow helps push the ideas into my brain via osmosis or magic or daydream implantation.  From there, I just dive in and start writing for the first 4-5 hours of the day.  And I definitely just work on a single project at a time.  

7. What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?
My strength as a writer is my ability to create vivid visual descriptions of scenes, settings, landscapes and the characters who occupy them.  Almost every person who reads my novels has told me they feel like they’re reading a movie.  I like my writing to move fast, to match today’s contemporary media attention span, so this is a blessing.  My greatest weakness as a writer is my OCD desire to read and edit every single new sentence I compose to immediately make sure it’s perfect.  This is inefficient, and impedes my productivity, and is my greatest personal challenge – just getting the story down first, and worrying about the text being “perfect” in post-edits.  I truly struggle with this.  

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?
I spent a lot of time on Facebook, and most recently Twitter.  I follow other successful authors in my genre, see what they’re doing and saying, take the ideas I like and apply them to my own brand.  And I do look at my series as a brand, a product, that has its own unique interpretations of pop culture – which is these days it seems – all culture.

9. What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?
Get off your phone, get off social media, put the cat in the other room and get to work.  Also, if it’s your first book, don’t spend a lot of time telling your friends and family, “Hey, I’m writing a book and here’s what it’s about… what do you think?”  This, like aimless interaction with Facebook or Instagram, will only serve to distract you from the good ideas already in your head.  It will also consume the time you should be spending doing one thing – writing.  If you believe in yourself and your vision 110%, then translate that belief to your project and complete it down to the final period.  Then edit it.  Then start talking about it.  And only then.

Fire in His Embrace

BOOK 1: Fire in His Blood  by  Ruby Dixon

BOOK 2: Fire in His Kiss

Fire in His Embrace   description:

There’s only one way to tame a dragon.

Emma Arroyo knows this. She also knows that the big golden dragon captured by her brother’s biker gang is in trouble, and it’s all her fault. He followed her scent, and now his life is in danger.

She has to fix this, somehow. If she could talk to the dragon, they could form a plan to escape, both of them. But the dragon’s mind is wild and full of uncontrollable, killing rage. There’s no reasoning with him. There’s certainly no freeing him, not when he’s like this. But Emma can’t leave without him.

There’s only one way to solve this problem – a mating. When Emma approaches Zohr to claim him as hers, she realizes just what it means to be a dragon’s mate, and how much she’s in over her head…
And she learns how fiercely possessive a drakoni male can be.

BOOK 3: Fire in His Embrace  4 STARS

This overlaps with the last book, so we see more of how Emma ended up with that gang, and what all she was going through before and after Sasha was kidnapped. I think what I liked most about this story was that Zohr needed Emma’s help as much as she needed him. No getting kidnapped, and no helpless girl unsure what to do. Although, Claudia and Sasha weren’t exactly wussy, Emma just felt like she was a bit more gung-ho. She’s a real post-apocalyptic girl who’s prepared for everything, and fights back no matter what life throws her way. Through Zohr we do get more of an image and understanding of the world the dragons came from, and what sort of evil Azar is capable of. Because Azar is evil. Dixon definitely doesn’t pull any punches with this series, and I’m loving it. It has a great love story to it, but we also have this intense plot and villain to contend with that really keep you tearing through the book, and wanting the next one as quickly as possible. The only thing to complain about is that it really needed better editing. It had its share of typos, but also things like the mind-link conversations not being italicized when they should be to let you know they’re actually talking to each other. And it switching tenses at the wrong times. I know Dixon gets these books out quick, and I love not having to wait too long, but she might need to slow down and do a few more read throughs before publishing.

Barbarian’s Rescue

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 Rescue  by  Ruby Dixon  description:

Bad day? Try mine on for size.
Rogue slavers have landed on the ice planet and captured the tribe. The only ones not snatched? Me, a walking human motormouth with no skill except that of incoherent babbling, and Warrek, who’s as silent as he is attractive. Two more unlikely people have never been paired together.
And now we’re supposed to form a rescue team.

Saving the others is either going to bring us closer together – or drive us completely apart. I’m pretty sure the feelings I’m having for my alien companion are as unrequited as they are inappropriate, but since we aren’t going to make it out alive, what harm is one teeny, tiny kiss?
Who knew that one kiss could change everything?

BOOK 15: Barbarian’s Rescue   5 STARS

There are so many reasons to love this book. I love Summer, and her inability to shut up and her need to fill the silence makes her a rather amusing character, but she isn’t just some silly girl. With the need to rescue her new tribe, it’s her ability to strategize and think of every angle that ends up saving the day. Yes, she needs Warrec and he’s definitely no slouch in the saving-the-day department, but I love that she’s not just some helpless female. She plays the biggest role in all of it, and the twist near the end in their relationship (you’ll know what I’m talking about) was hilariously perfect. Got to love a woman that knows what she wants and goes for it. Lets not forget how sweet and good Warrec is, and bless his heart for being so quiet he struggles to know what’s the right thing to say or how to express himself. He’s a good balance for Summer, and I do like that it’s delving more into the worry and possibility of resonating with someone other than the one you actually love. While in some ways I fear that ever happening, it is a possibility in this world, and I like that it’s not something the characters are just ignoring or willing to just say the khui will decide like the Sa-Khui tend to be willing to do. Though in past books it shows not all of them were so willing to go along with such either.

Spoiler Alert: While it’s not a real complaint, since it wasn’t enough to knock it from 5 stars, it does kind of bother me that in those crates while all the men were aliens all the women were human. I understand obviously for the readers a human woman may be easier to relate too, but I enjoyed the books about Farli and Asha as much as I did about any of the humans, and so it would’ve been nice to throw in perhaps an alien woman too just considering that this is a huge galaxy and if they’re trading in alien men why wouldn’t they trade in alien women. Or perhaps even have thrown in a human man. Something to kind of mix things up a bit more. Once again it wasn’t that big of a deal, and I’m sure I’ll love all the books to come dealing with these new comers, but it’s just a thought.

Prison Planet Barbarian

Prison Planet Barbarian   description:

Being kidnapped by aliens is one thing. Being kidnapped by aliens and then sent to a prison planet is something infinitely worse.

Here in Haven’s prison system, I’m stranded among strangers, enemies, and the most ruthless criminals in the galaxy. There’s no safety for a human woman here, especially not one branded as a murderer. I’m doomed to a fate worse than death.

Then…he decides I should be his. His name’s Jutari. He’s seven feet tall, blue, and horned. He’s an assassin and one of the most dangerous prisoners here. He’s like no one I’ve ever met before…and he might be my only chance.

This story stands completely alone and is only marginally connected to the Ice Planet Barbarians series. You do not need to read those books in order to follow this one.

Prison Planet Barbarian  3 STARS

This book is definitely separate from the Ice Planet Barbarians series. However, if you are reading the series I wouldn’t check this out until you’ve read Barbarian’s Lady, because you do get a mention of Chloe and her connection to the women there. This was a fun look into the rest of the galaxy, seeing more species and how things are ran, and their view on humans and knowledge of them. I really enjoyed this book, and having read Dixon’s other series, it was fun seeing the connections of the different aliens and the galaxy out there, and it’d be great to see how far she can take all of this. I just didn’t like that for once we could see a relationship form between a messakh and a human outside of the influence of a khui, or even the tribe that survives off such pairings, and actually see how they might come together, but instead we get Jutari being influenced by a primal urge. There is no real relationship other than Jutari wanting Chloe, and deciding she is his, and Chloe needing him for protection. Even within the Ice Planet series you’d get more development between the couples that show why they’re a good match, and this just felt too rushed through.