Book Review: St. Charles at Dusk. An suspenseful, atmospheric love story

Synopsis:  At twenty-one years old, Oz Sullivan is unable to understand his fascination with and attraction to a much younger Adrienne Deschanel. Adrienne is spirited, passionate, and impulsive… all of the things Oz is not. Oz is drawn to her in a way that is inexplicable to him, and deeply concerning to those who know him.

Amidst her father’s threats, Adrienne makes secret plans to run away with Oz. Before they can act on them, Adrienne and her family are involved in a tragic accident that takes the lives of the entire family. Adrienne’s body, however, is not found in the wreckage. Oz is devastated and unable to move on when an extensive investigation fails to solve the mystery of Adrienne’s vanishing.

Three years later Oz has made a life for himself as an attorney at his family’s law firm. However, the predictability and peace of his quiet life is shattered when Adrienne is discovered, alive and well…but with no memory of anything before the accident. Oz is conflicted: grateful that she is alive but still damaged from her disappearance and hesitant to get involved and re-open a wound that never fully closed. Yet, Oz finds himself unable to resist helping when Adrienne’s desperate attempt to flee the confusing and dark influences in her life instinctively finds her on Oz’s doorstep. Unable to turn her away, but equally unable to get too involved, Oz keeps from her the truth of who he was and what they meant to each other before she disappeared. Against his better judgment he finds himself enmeshed in the mystery of what happened to her when she was sixteen. The more he learns, the less he understands, and as the story unfolds and Adrienne’s memory slowly returns, everything they thought they both knew gets called into question.

Review:  St. Charles at Dusk is a layered story of love, deceit and mystery. Ms. Cradit is an artful storyteller, willing to take risks. The two pivotal characters are Adrienne and Oz, two young people who dramatically fall in love, against their parents’ wishes, and then embark on a journey that takes them (and the reader) on a dark ride through mystery and secrets.

The novel is mainly set in New Orleans, and the author does a wonderful job of making you feel that you are there with Oz and Adrienne as they walk the streets of the French Quarter and the Garden District. The differences within New Orleans class culture are illuminating (“Life did not stop for the dead here the way it did only a few miles away in New Orleans. None of the celebrations of the deceased were found in this cold, crisp suburb.”) and help the reader understand the complex issues that face Oz, Adrienne, and a number of other characters.

Oz is five years older than Adrienne and a long-time friend of her family. Adrienne is only 16 when they begin their affair and initially it feels (to this reader) somewhat incestuous. But that is part of the tension, for as a typical 16-year-old, Adrienne is headstrong and convinced that Oz is the love of her short life. Oz, although he quickly falls in love with Adrienne, has that turn of conscience that makes the reader not just like him, but also hope that they can and will be together happily ever after.

But the parents intervene, an tragic accident occurs, and Adrienne leaves and then returns to Oz and then leaves again. Throughout the novel, Oz is forever playing the grown-up to Adrienne’s willful, confused, and heartsick lover. I did come to care for them both, even if I was also impatient with them at times. But, again, that was part of the attraction of the story: you can’t help but have an opinion about their behavior as they struggle to understand each other and overcome the forces that continually get in their way.

The structure of the novel was difficult to navigate at first, with chapters of flashbacks alternating with other chapters of flashbacks. I read the novel as an e-book, and I think it would have been easier for me if I had read it in paperback, easier to flip pages back and forth. Fortunately, Ms. Cradit indicates at the beginning of each chapter, what the year is, the ages of Oz and Adrienne, and also whose voice begins the chapter. The fact that she did lay a “map” (so to speak) for the reader suggests that she also was mindful of the challenges of this particular structure.

Alternating present day with flashbacks is a very difficult storyline to master, and I did feel some frustration at times when I found myself going deeper into the past when I felt like I should be moving forward. But by that point, I was committed to reading the novel. I needed to know how things would turn out for Oz and Adrienne. My reward was that about halfway through, even though most of the novel was still in the past, there was a sense of moving forward, a sense of coming to some resolution with the upheavals in the affair of Oz and Adrienne.

I won’t give away the ending, but I can say that for the longest time, I felt it could go either way. Either they will live happily ever after or they won’t, and either ending would be plausible. That too is a skill that many new authors don’t have readily: to convince the reader that any number of endings could occur and they could all be right.

I recommend this novel to anyone interested in the struggles of young love, suspense and mystery, and magical worlds such as New Orleans.

The Heretic Priest early release celebration sale!

Quick! Take advantage of these book sales by the ever lovely C.N. Faust!

C.N. Faust

Hello my darlings,

Great news!

For the duration of the summer, The Dragon’s Disciples will be available on Kindle for $1.99 ! Don’t have a Kindle? The paperback is only $9.99 ! Did I mention it is ever so beautiful?

finalcoverplease

BUT THAT IS NOT ALL.

Tuesday and Wednesday, The Heretic Priest (that would be The Age of Waking Death series book TWO!!) will be having an early release celebration sale to the tune of completely free on KindleBut it is only for Tuesday and Wednesday (because random!) so be sure to grab your copy while you can. Again, no Kindle? Well, the paperback is only $7.99! Not bad for a new release!

lasthereticpriestcoverfinaledit

Both books for less than $2.00, and endless amounts of intrigue, love, and sexy vampires? Yes please!!

Your most adored,

C.N.F.

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Beginning of a Hero for .99 Cents

Get Beginning of a Hero now for just 99 cents. The ebook costs far less than a tall skinny vanilla latter and is far more satisfying!

Legends of Windemere

Yesterday, I decided to put Beginning of a Hero back at .99 cents.  The higher royalty was nice, but it wasn’t selling.  With this price, I can continue creating the foundation that I need for the other books.  After doing research I came to three conclusions:

  1. There will always be people that think a book is wrongly priced.  It will either be too high for the quality or too low.  You can’t please everyone.
  2. When it comes to self-publishing, you really can’t judge a book by its price.  Judge it by the description, cover, and sample.
  3. The first book of a series staying at .99 cents is fairly common and is a proven practice.  I should stick with my research and my gut on this.

So, click on the cover below to visit the Amazon site or be kind enough to reblog.

Hero Cover Final

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Cover Reveal: The Storm and The Darkness by Sarah M. Cradit

Girls Heart Books Tours

Girls Heart Books Tours

The Storm and the Darkness
The House of Crimson and Clover Book # 2
By Sarah M. Cradit
Expected Publication Date:  July 15, 2013

TheStormandtheDarkness_fullcover

Ana Deschanel has made a terrible mistake. The only chance of protecting the other people involved is to flee New Orleans, the only home she has ever known, for the quiet solitude of Summer Island.

Summer Island, Maine (population 202) is not the tranquil escape Ana imagined. The locals are distant and cold, especially her neighbor, the reclusive veterinarian Jonathan St. Andrews. Her only lifeline is the kind but odd caretaker Alex Whitman. Showing up at all the right moments, he warns her she is completely unprepared for a Maine winter. As the first winter storm approaches to whispers of an island shutdown Ana realizes that she may soon be cut off from the rest of the world.

After a surprising encounter with Jonathan’s brother, Finn, Ana finds herself braving the storm to return something to him. Unprepared for the Maine storm, she slips and falls onto the jagged rocks along the shore. The St. Andrews brothers find her in the nick of time, but she remains unconscious. As the storm worsens, the St. Andrews brothers learn there are other, more sinister forces at work closer than they ever imagined.

With no help from the outside world, they must find a way to protect themselves from both the storm, and the growing darkness that looms across the island.

About the Author

Sarah Cradit

Sarah is the author of the Southern Fiction series, The House of Crimson and Clover. The series was born of her combined loves of New Orleans, family dramas, and the mysterious nature of love and desire. Her books combine elements of mystery, suspense, intrigue, romance, and even paranormal. She is always working on the next book in the series, and absolutely loves connecting with her fans.

Sarah lives in the Pacific Northwest, but has traveled the world from Asia to Europe to Africa. When she isn’t working (either at her day career, or hard at work at writing), she is reading a book and discovering new authors. The great loves of her life (in order) are: her husband James, her writing, and traveling the world.

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6914411.Sarah_M_Cradit

Blog: http://sarahcradit.wordpress.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/houseofcrimsonandclover
Twitter: https://twitter.com/thewritersarah

Book Review: Bestiary of Blatherhorn Vale

Disclaimer: I have not read fantasy since I was a kid, and then it was The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, that sort of thing. As a young adult, I read The Mists of Avalon , but I don’t know if that qualifies as fantasy. My point is I know little about the genre, so I can’t tell you if Bestiary of Blatherhorn Vale, a slim ebook (44 pages) by Charles E Yallowitz qualifies as fantasy. What I can tell you is that I love this book.

Like I know good art when I see it or good wine when I taste it, I know a good book when I read it. Bestiary of Blatherhorn Vale is a delightfully creepy compendium of strange creatures. The premise of the book is that it is a “battered field notebook” from an expedition to Blatherhorn Vale. The book reads like an epic poem with a firm beginning (“Blatherhorn Vale lies in wait”) to a neat ending (“Leaving Blatherhorn Vale to rise again”), and in-between a curious cabinet of relics.

Mr. Yallowitz’s imagination knows no bounds. Every creature is meticulously and poetically described. He brings them to life to the extent that the reader may choose to ignore the caution that “Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.”

Here’s a taste for you: My two most favorite beasts are the Yethys and the Glintra. The Yethys have “scales of gold,” “eyes of crimson,” no mouth, and “[Risk] all To gain some precious warmth.”

The Glintra are delicate, deadly creatures whose:
“Feeble tendrils
Of finest crystal
Drag along the ground
Burning
Those they touch”

Good wine and good art, indeed. Try the Bestiary of Blatherhorn Vale for yourself. It’s only one-third the cost of a tall latte and much more satisfying. Perhaps if the Bestiary becomes popular enough, Mr. Yallowitz could be persuaded to issue a printed version for distribution. This is the kind of book I would want on my shelf.

Guest Blog: Do’s and Dont’s of Indie Authoring by Ionia Martin

Great (and funny) list of do’s and dont’s by Ionia Martin!

Legends of Windemere

This week’s guest blog is brought to us by the delightful, funny, and hard-working Ionia Martin of Readful Things.  She also is the mastermind behind The Community Storyboard where writers and readers from all walks of life can gather for some fun.  Did I mention she’s hard-working?  If you haven’t had the joy of checking out both of Ionia’s blogs then I suggest you take the time to do so.

Now, I asked Ionia to make a list of Do’s and Donts’ for the Indie Authors.  I thank her for taking up the challenge and having fun with it.  Enjoy.

So you have decided to be an indie author, huh?

I can always count on Charles Yallowitz, the owner of this here excellent blog for two things. Number 1: He writes great books.

Number 2: He is always entertaining and ensures that his posts far outweigh any other responsibilities…

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Services Offered

Check out C.N. Faust’s services for authors!

C.N. Faust

Hello my darlings,

This is me creating a post for easier re-blogging because the last one was kind of crammed with too much personal information. So from my other services page, this is a list of what I have to offer. Please feel free to contact me via my Contact page or my email address cnfaust@outlook.com 🙂

Formatting

eBook: For $10 an hour I will format your eBook for Amazon KDP (or various other eBook distributors, including Lulu and Nook). This usually takes me between 2 – 4 straight hours depending on what kind of shape the book is in when I get it. Work hours can be considerably less.

Print: For $12 an hour I will format your book for Amazon Createspace (or various other print distributors, including Lulu). This usually takes me between 4 – 6 hours depending on the shape the book is in when I get it…

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Book Review: Twelve Days–The Beginning by Jade Reyner

In exchange for an honest review, Ms. Reyner provided me with a copy of her debut novel, Twelve Days–The Beginning.  My intent in reviewing her book was mainly to provide feedback regarding a particular chapter that she had softened out of concern that detailed content might be too brutal.  So I read her novel in the space of two days (including the wee hours of one morning) and provided her with the following review.  Ms. Reyner gave a kind review of my review so I’ve since posted it on Goodreads and Amazon, and now here:

Twelve Days – The Beginning is an emotional whirlwind of a novel.  At first, Elise Grayson seems to have it all:  great marriage, great job, great friends, great looks.  But author Jade Reyner doesn’t take long to start peeling back the layers of deception in Elise’s life, as she tries and fails to keep her secrets.  First, her best friend and favorite “eye candy,” Cole Andrews, sees through all her lies; ironically, he is the one she confides in, not her best girlfriends who are left in the dark until the truth refuses to be hidden.  Then Elise meets Vaughn Granger, a tall, dark, and handsome, and highly sexed man who serves as Elise’s boss.  Initially she fights her attraction to him, and initially I wanted her to because I was afraid he would be no better than her husband, that he would be just another man to dominate and control Elise.

But Granger is different and he shows Elise what it means and how it feels to be truly loved and worshiped.  Although married for ten years, Elise has had limited sexual experience.  Granger not only opens a new sensual and sexual world for her, but Elise also experiences a sexual awakening, the kind of awakening that, at least in our dreams, can only happen with someone who truly, truly loves us.  The sex scenes are explicit but not gratuitous:  there’s a context for every touch, every kiss, every caress.  The same is true of the physical and sexual violence that occurs: the detail provides a searing look at Elise’s reality and an unforgiving portrayal of the monster that is her husband.

I did find myself frequently arguing with the characters–usually Elise–as I read along, a good sign that I was hooked, that I was invested in their exploits and decisions.  Admittedly, Elise and her sermons on the sanctity of marriage and her stubbornness often drove me up the wall.  She makes some, what I can only call, stupid decisions, but  she makes them because she really thinks she is doing the right thing.  I’ve worked with survivors of domestic violence, and it never ceased to amaze me how desperately some of the women I worked with wanted to believe that only if they acted rationally, then all would be OK.  They needed to believe that their lives were not the nightmare that everyone else told them it was.  I see Elise going through this, wanting to believe that there still some rational part of her husband that she could reason with.  So, while I was sometimes angry with her, I also understood her need, her desire that everything turn out OK.

Of course, in real life, things don’t turn out quite OK and the novel has a hell of a cliffhanger.  Fortunately, Ms. Reyner provides her readers with a taste of the sequel, Twelve Days – The Future, and we can at least be assured that there is indeed a future for Elise and a future for us as Ms. Reyner’s readers.

E-book Reader Blues

I’m not really a gadget geek.  Really, I like to keep things simple.  I like the simplicity of picking up a book and leafing through its pages.  Still, several years ago, I became smitten by e-book readers.

I don’t remember how the love affair began.  It was the early 2000s and discussions about ebooks and ebook readers were slowly making their way into the mainstream.  Somewhere, somehow I got wind of a Gemstar eBook reader that I could purchase online for roughly $99 (or $149 for a color version).  I opted for the black and white version, wanting to keep things simple.  And thus the affair began.

Gemstar GEB 1150

Gemstar GEB 1150

My Gemstar is a solid 22 ounces, about the size of a paperback, with a grip on the left side that makes it easy to hold with one hand.  It has a touch screen, a stylus specifically for navigating the “Bookshelf” and two buttons on the left side for paging through books.  It has about 8 MB of memory and I also use a smart media disk of 128 MB.  On my Gemstar, I have contemporary books such as Newjack by Ted Conover, classics such as Les Miserables by Hugo, and lesser-known works such as The Amateur by Richard Harding Davis.  I must have purchased the Gemstar around 2003 because I also have a few articles from the New York Review of Books saved there from that year.

Alas, within a few short years, support for the Gemstar evaporated entirely:  no technical support, no online bookstores dedicated to the Gemstar.  The flame had gone out of the affair.

And, yet there was still a spark.  A few years later, on a camping trip, my husband and I huddled together in our small tent, on a dark windy night.  I pulled out my Gemstar and read parts of Newjack to him until he was ready for sleep.  I often said then and I’ll say it again now that the portability of an ebook reader is its greatest advantage.  I had a long list of books for my husband to choose from that night, and I could not have backpacked all those books into camp.  While the Gemstar was my first love, it may also be my last.  I have since bought a 3rd-Gen Kindle (right before Amazon came out with the Fire and substantially dropped the price … damn you, Amazon!)  But I missed the expanded memory that I had with my Gemstar, the touch screen, the ability to add books and articles of various formats.  I liked the Kindle at first but now it’s primarily an overpriced word game player.

Then I got an iPad 2 which I bought with some hard-earned second job money and found (oh, crap!) that I could have just put the Kindle app on my iPad and been done with it.  I love the touch screen and would read books or catch up with news on the iPad during my lunch hour.  But still, I wasn’t satisfied.  I was itching for something simpler, something more ebook dedicated, something I could read in bed without the lights on, without an LCD burning my eyes out.  I have read review after review after review comparing the Kindle with the Nook with the Kobo with the iPad.  Although we have a Barnes & Noble in town, I was hesitate to buy a Nook.  B&N may not be as big as Amazon, but, bleeding heart liberal that I am, I wanted something more “indie.”

In April I purchased a Kobo Glo.  I had found good reviews of the device, it’s capacity for storage, various ebook formats, and its “night light.”  Unfortunately I had to buy it online since the one independent bookstore in my town didn’t carry it.  Here’s where the blues comes in:  I can’t get the wireless to work, no matter what we do (reset, factory reset, unsecure our network, secure our network).  The device doesn’t always recognize the memory card, and the touch screen can be a little quirky.  I’m using Calibre to download and add books outside the Kobo BookStore, but that can be a little squirrelly too.  And even though I thought I had thoroughly vetted the Kobo, I’ve since learned from Calibre that “The Kobo has very buggy firmware” (from their manual).

Sigh.  When my Kobo works, it’s wonderful, and I have enjoyed using it to read at night.  Nobody is disturbed by the gentle light around the edges of the screen, and my eyes don’t get fried.  Yet, today it took several attempts to transfer a bundle of new books from Calibre to my Kobo.  Admittedly, I may have not been syncing correctly.  All these gadgets seem so sensitive to how they are handled.  Even some of the apps on my iPad are having hiccups following the latest system update.

My Gemstar and I never had such problems.  To remind myself of how advanced technology was, I’m recharging my Gemstar and recharging our affair.

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