Into the Dreaming Imaginative Fiction from Author, Reviewer, and Writing Coach Christine Amsden

Book Review: Vampire and the City (Love at Stake #2)

Vamps and the City (Love at Stake, #2)The silly fun continues in this second book in a vampire series that works by not taking itself too seriously. In this volume, Darcy, a young vampire recently freed from Roman’s harem, wants to get a serious job reporting the news like she did in her human life. But in the vampire world there’s only one network — DVN (Digital Vampire Network — “On 24 hours because it’s always nighttime somewhere!”) The trouble is, vamps are sexist. She only got the interview because Darcy isn’t an obviously feminine name and in the end, instead of getting a job as a journalist, she gets to produce the first vampire reality show — “The Sexist Man Alive!”

But Darcy isn’t convinced, as others are, that the sexist man alive will necessarily be a vampire. She decides to mix things up by casting some humans. That’s when Austin comes in. He’s a member of the Stake Out team, which is investigating vampire activity. We met Austin in book #1, when Shawn was kidnapped by her father, the head of the Stake Out team. Well, her father is on a mission now — a mission to find and rescue his happily married daughter from her vicious vampire hubby. When he learns about the new reality show, he fixes the casting so that two of his agents will get picked, including Austin.

Austin is instantly attracted to Darcy, but he doesn’t want to believe she’s a vampire. He wants to believe she’s in trouble and can’t escape the evil monsters.

I am continuing to enjoy this series. I liked Darcy’s story, and I liked the way this book ended (sorry, no spoilers). The romance continues to be (and I suspect will always be) “love at first sight” but there’s enough other stuff going on that I can forgive it. Besides, this isn’t the sort of book you want to take too seriously. :)

Book Review: How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire (Love at Stake #1)

How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire (Love at Stake, #1)This book was silly and fun, in a sort of “don’t take this too seriously” kind of way. I really liked the setup — a vampire losing a fang and needing a 24-hour dentist to reattach it, then falling into the middle of a Russian mob hit on the aforementioned dentist and saving her life. 

I was strangely annoyed by the title, which despite setting the tone of silliness did not otherwise feel connected to the story. 

The romance in this book was okay, but not my favorite aspect of the book. That could be because I don’t normally enjoy vampire romance, but I think it’s more likely because of the “love at first sight” style. That style works for many readers — you know who you are. :)

But I did enjoy the characters, the silliness, and even the suspense of this story.

Excerpt + Giveaway: Mermen

MBB_TourBanner_Mermen copy

BLURB:

From New York Times Bestseller Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

These Mermen Don’t Have Tails, They’re Deadly as Hell, and They’ve Got Something He Wants…

INFAMOUS BACHELOR and SELF-MADE BILLIONAIRE ROEN DORAN IS A BASTARD. Yes, he knows it. And no, he doesn’t care. He’s got money and power, and he depends on no one. But when his estranged father dies, willing him a secret island, Roen will come face to face with an even bigger secret: its occupants. And these savage, sea-obsessed warriors are quick to make their position clear: Leave now or die.

There’s only one problem. Nobody tells Roen what to do. Ever. Oh, and one other thing. He’s just met the island’s other new “guest” and something about her brings out his possessive side.

SOLE SHIPWRECK SURVIVOR LIV STRATTON had been adrift at sea for ten grueling days when salvation miraculously appeared: an uncharted island. Only, the deceivingly beautiful men who live there aren’t interested in saving her. No, not at all. Because they somehow believe she is their property, a gift from the ocean to do with as they please. This is not good.

Her only hope? Billionaire Roen Doran, of all people. A man who’s said to care for nothing and no one. But if he’s so heartless, then why is he about to risk everything to help her?

~ ~ ~

NOTE FROM MIMI ABOUT MERMEN: Anyone who has read the Accidental Series or King knows I love to flip things on their heads. Mermen is no exception. THIS IS NOT A FLUFFY STORY ABOUT men with fins and tails who sweep ladies off their feet and make them long to be mermaids. Uh-uh. This is NOT that kind of story. Nobody in their right mind would want to hang out with these very beautiful yet dangerous men (who don’t actually have tails, fins, or gills, by the way) NOR would anyone want to be their mates. Well, at least, not me! Run. Away!!

Hope you enjoy the ride. – MIMI

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Excerpt 

Two large hands popped from the water and gripped the side of the raft. If she’d had the strength to gasp, she would’ve. The man’s face appeared just inches from hers, and it was exquisite—short black beard and dark-green eyes surrounded by long lashes. Ropes of wet black hair snaked down his deeply bronzed, powerful-looking shoulders.

“How the fuck did you get here, woman?” he growled while studying her, his thick lips lacking any sign of warmth or reassurance.

Of course, she didn’t have the mental clarity to respond.

“Well,” he said, “if you live, maybe you’ll save me from the Collection—waste of fucking time.”

Liv now had no doubt in her mind that she was still hallucinating. Large, beautiful men didn’t paddle around in the middle of the ocean and strike up random conversations.

Bump.

The man’s body jerked to one side. He winced and then glanced over his shoulder before being yanked beneath the surface.

Oh shit. Oh shit. The shark. She used her last ounce of energy to flip to her stomach. There was no sign of her manly hallucination, but red liquid clouded the water, encircling the raft. She wanted to scream, but she could barely swallow let alone make a sound.

Large bubbles surfaced next to her, and then the man’s head reappeared.

He half-gasped half-growled. “Fucking shark. Bit my ankle.” He swung his arm and flung a large gray mass right into her raft.

Whatthefuck? The shark flopped around, the lower half of its jaw missing and gushing blood.

Liv stared, unable to believe there was a ten-foot shark bleeding out in her raft.

“And now we’ve got dinner.” The man smiled at her, but it was a cold, calculating sort of smile that didn’t touch his eyes. “By the way, welcome to El Corazón.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Remy PamfiloffNew York Times and USA Today bestselling Romance author, host of the radio talk show, Man Candy, on Radioslot.com.

When San Francisco native Mimi Jean went on an adventure as an exchange student to Mexico City, she never imagined the journey would lead to writing Romance. But one MBA, one sexy husband, and two rowdy kids later, Mimi would trade in corporate life for vampires, deities, and snarky humor.

She continues to hope that her books will inspire a leather pants comeback (for men) and that she might make you laugh when you need it most.

She also enjoys interacting with her fans (especially if they’re batshit crazy). You can always find her chatting away on Facebook, Twitter, or saying many naughty words on her show MAN CANDY on Radioslot.com !

Find out more about Mimi and upcoming books at www.mimijean.net.

BUY Links:

Book is priced at $0.99

http://www.amazon.com/MERMEN-Mermen-Trilogy-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00TYNANIS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1430433097&sr=8-1&keywords=mermen+mimi+jean+pamfiloff

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mermen-mimi-jean-pamfiloff/1121333650?ean=2940151313155

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The author is giving away the following 10 prizes:
PRIZE #1:Mermen Pillow + Signed Mermen
PRIZE #2: Mug + Signed Mermen
PRIZES #3-7: Tote + Signed Mermen
PRIZES #8-9: Signed Set of KING Trilogy + Signed Mermen #1&2
PRIZE #10: KING TRILOGY Audiobooks on CD + Signed Mermen #1&2

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Book Review: Burned by Karen Marie Moning

Burned (Fever, #7)I LOVED the Fever Series (Books 1-5). I’ve read it three times. 

But the magic is gone. Mac is gone, though she was here. 

First of all, there are serious continuity errors in this book. I felt like the author was trying to pull a fast one on us. 

1. The prologue shows a scene from book one that I know well, except this time it’s from Barrons point of view. According to his account he did a mind wipe on Mac after their second meeting so she wouldn’t know she’d had sex with him — something I absolutely don’t believe. A convenient mind wipe doesn’t change the fact that Mac 1.0 wouldn’t have done it with Barrons. It was out of character. It wasn’t just that she wasn’t “ready” (the apparent reason he wiped her mind — also something I don’t believe because it’s out of character for Barrons. “Deal with it, Rainbow GIrl.”) it was that however much she was grieving for her sister, she hadn’t reached that dark place. 

One of the things I liked most about the first five books was Mac’s gradual slide into darkness. It’s a series that I use as an example of well-done character growth and change. The sexual tension between Mac and Barrons in book one was so thin I wasn’t entirely sure the author planned to go there at first, but that was okay, because Mac 1.0 wasn’t right for Barrons (and vica versa). 

I also want to point out that there were no clues in the first book to suggest this turn of events. 

2. Danni’s little problem came out of nowhere. It was unsupported, unnecessary, and kind of lame. 

3. I don’t remember the bookstore changing rooms and stories in the original books. I might reread them at some point to make sure I’m right on this one, but it seems like if that were true, Mac 1.0 would have made a big deal about it in the very first book. 

Second, there were point of view problems in this book.

Thi was initially a standard first person series. Eventually, Danni took on a big enough role (and Mac was unable to weigh in) that she got some chapters. I was okay with that. But now we have point of view chapters from Mac, Barrons, Lore, Danni, Jada, Kat, and Christian. Talk about your POV explosion! 

First person does not handle multiple points of view well. I think this story got away from the author a bit, switching from being mostly about Mac to being about the need for a world to heal. As an author myself, I understand that difficulty. But there was yet another problem with the POV, beyond the multiple firsts: Present tense. 

Mac tells the story as if it is happening to her right now. This creates a dreamlike quality to the story. It killed Mac’s attitude and voice, which were key factors in making me fall in love with her in the first place. It also took away Mac’s power to foreshadow.This hurt the tension level of the book and at times it felt boring to me. I didn’t read it as quickly as I normally would have. 

Basically, the story-telling style in this book was completely different, and I didn’t like it. 

So, was there anything good about it? 

I do hope that the mystery of Barrons and the nine is solved in these new books. I like some of the new characters who are stepping up and getting their own points of view, and I’m curious about them. 

But honestly, very little happened in this book. It was boring. It barely wet my appetite for the new arc it seems to be presenting. 

Though I’ve tried, no words can express my disappointment in this new installment.

Characterization: Choosing a Name

When it comes time to choose names for your characters, there are plenty of strategies you might use: baby names books, Internet searches, random name generators, sitting in a crowded restaurant and writing down the first name you hear …

Most of these strategies are fine, especially for characters of secondary importance, but when it comes time to name your most important character(s), I would remind you of this important fact: Your character didn’t name himself. His/her parents did.

What does this mean? Well, for me it means that when I’m brainstorming a new idea and I just can’t call my main character MC anymore, then it’s time to start thinking about MC’s past, especially his or her parentage. Are they the kind of people who choose names that sound good? Would they name a child after a beloved friend or family member? Do they care about the meaning of a name? Were they high at the time and chose something that seemed hilarious but has been haunting the child ever since?

The answer to these questions could bear serious weight and import. Names are part of our core identity, and the origin of those names says something about where that identity began, even if just a little bit.

Cassandra Morgan Ursula Margaret Scot’s parents derived her many names from the names of powerful sorcerers and alchemists throughout history. They believed there is power in a name, in its length, its grandeur, and its namesakes. Cassie didn’t believe she lived up to the name, so she shortened it.

Authors of children’s books often have fun with alliteration, personification, and archetypes when choosing names. And that’s fine. Sometimes the story you’re telling is more of an allegory, in which case your names would reflect the style you’ve chosen.

But if you’re looking for realism in your characterization, then begin with the name – and know where it came from.

Red Tide Rising: $25 Giveaway + Excerpt

MediaKit_BookCover_RedTideRisingBLURB:

What good is immortality when every moment is agony?

The vampire Ash has returned from his watery grave, proving that death is merely a minor inconvenience. Picking up where he left off? That might not be as easy. Because someone else is vying for Sami’s attention – the last person he ever would have expected.

Fulfilling her desire for immortality seems the surest route to winning her favor. But for Sami, this gift will come at a terrible price. One simple lie of omission is all it takes to send her spiraling into a terminal state of madness. And as the last remnants of her sanity slip away, Ash can no longer deny that her maniacal behavior is putting them all at risk. His perfect angel has become a perfect liability.

But can he find it in his heart to destroy her?

RTR - Playlist

EXCERPT

Haven’t you ever been in love?” She didn’t say not counting Ash, but the implication was there. His impalpable presence, even when left unmentioned, remained a tangible constant hanging in the air between them.

I’m not sure such a thing exists.”

Ah, c’mon. In all these years, you gonna tell me you never had a solid healthy relashumship?”

Tristan snorted a laugh. “You don’t even know what you’re saying. Look at you, drunk off your ass trying to talk to me about relationships.”

I’s just askin’.”

What would you know about a healthy relationship anyway? You seem to gravitate toward the toxic. There is nothing remotely healthy about any of the decisions I’ve seen you make.”

So forget relashumships, Mister Grouchy Pants. Izz all about sex then, right?”

Apparently.”

Okaayyy…” Sami pursed her lips, trying to hide a smirk. “Then why don’ you tell me ’bout the guy from Comic-Con. What’d you say his name was?”

I don’t remember.”

Oh, sure ya do.”

I don’t.”

I don’ belieeeeeve yoouuuu…”

I don’t caa-aaare…”

But see, now I gotta know. Gimme the lowdown. Were you gettin’ it on with the comic book guy? Did Superman put it to you?” For some reason, the whole idea struck her as screamingly funny. Clutching both hands to her stomach, she began to giggle uncontrollably. “Did he wear his cape? Wuzzee faster than a speeding bullet?”

Raising an eyebrow, Tristan shot her a derisive look.

Wuzzee more powerful than a locomomo…locomum…” She tried to stifle the next eruption of giggles and failed. “…choo choo train?”

You’re pushing it, little miss.”

No, I really wanna know! I’m totally serial. Whassit like to get pounded in the ass by th’man of steel?”

In barely the time it took for her to blink, he rolled over on top of her, trapping her between his arms as his silvery gray eyes glittered down at her defiantly. She stared back at him in wide-eyed surprise, her urge to laugh instantly squelched. There was something decidedly wrong here. And that something was pressing against her nakedness with rock hard force.

His mouth mere inches from hers, he whispered, “Would you like for me to show you?”

Huh?” she squeaked.

Well, you just asked…” Never taking his eyes off hers, he moved his lean hips to grind against her slowly and rhythmically. “…what it was like to get pounded by the man of steel. I took that as a request to find out. Or did I misunderstand?”

H-huh?” she echoed.

It’s possible that I did. But no, I don’t think so.” Transferring all his weight to one arm, he slid the other hand beneath her to grip her bare ass. “I think that was an open invitation. So…should I turn you over on your knees and demonstrate? Hm?”

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_RedTideRisingAllie fell in love with books from the moment she was issued her very first Sally, Dick and Jane reader. Born and raised in Alabama, she now resides in the sunny panhandle of Florida with her own blue-eyed Prince Charming and two fat, obnoxious cats. When she’s not busy obsessing over the lexicon of her latest project, she can usually be found watching B-movie horror (the cheesier, the better!), reading or playing online computer games while indulging her unhealthy Pepsi addiction.

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Book Review: Total Surrender

Total Surrender (Sin Brothers, #4)After three amazing books in this series, what a disappointment!

So if you’ve been reading this series, you know the setup. The Sin brothers were created in a lab to be raised as soldiers. They have special abilities. They kick ass. They escaped five years ago and ever since then have been searching for a way to disable the kill chips embedded near their spines. They’ve been searching frantically for three books now and the clock is ticking.

SEVEN DAYS TO GO…

Jory is in a cell. Piper is a computer hacker trying to disable his kill chip. Why is it so much trouble? Apparently, when he was shot, one of the bullets nicked the chip and now it won’t respond to wireless communications. Great start!

But it didn’t take long at all for the problems to begin. Most notably, the chemistry between Jory and Piper was way off. In the other three books I felt it right away, but for these two it simply wasn’t working. Part of this might have been situational. Jory was locked in a cell, using “psychological tricks” to get Piper’s cooperation. (I put that in quotes because I wasn’t convinced by them.) Piper, meanwhile, was convinced Jory was a traitor to her country AND at the same time she was desperate to gain the love and respect of her father — the commander.

TIMING

The biggest problem with this book was timing. With seven days left to live, I felt that the tone of the book was not nearly immediate enough. It got worse when we started counting down the hours. They kept talking when it was time to act, and having sex when it was time to act… and I couldn’t get into it.

The timing was off in another sense too. Piper had to choose between her father and Jory in this book, something that could have been a terrific conflict in another situation but here I struggled with it. She spent the first half of the book waffling, during which time I had trouble buying any romantic attraction on her part. She just wasn’t in the right place, emotionally speaking. I think this is a big reason that the chemistry was off, and the reason why she rubbed me the wrong way. She wasn’t unlikeable, exactly, she just didn’t seem like the right girl for Jory at the right time.

The attraction between these two was so poorly timed that I skipped the sex scenes!

OTHER PROBLEMS

There was a plot twist late in the book that I found both implausible and utterly unnecessary. It never went anywhere.

Piper had a boyfriend at the start of this book who turned out to be a distraction in a book where there was already too much being packed in a short space of time.

The sappiness in this volume got to me more than in the other books. Not sure if there was more of it or if it came down to another timing problem — ie “Will you shut up about how much you love one another already and work on not dying?”

REDEEMING QUALITIES

There was another plot twist relatively early on that I loved and that could paves the way for more books in this world. This was probably the #1 thing that kept me reading to the end.

CONCLUSION

I’m not giving up on this author. Despite the rocky conclusion, this series remains an excellent example of steamy military suspense and I would totally recommend it. Prolific authors are bound to have a dud now and again. Plus, it’s always possible that the chemistry issues between Jory and Piper were my own problem. (I did my best to explain them so you could decide if they’ll be a problem for you.)

Book Review: Blind Faith

Blind Faith (Sin Brothers, #3)This series just doesn’t quit! I can’t remember the last time I got so hooked. I can’t even say that the books are super unique … to tell you the truth, I saw almost every twist coming. But I didn’t care because I so enjoyed the ride. This book was like chocolate … you just want to eat it up. And sure, there’s Creme Brulee and sometimes that’s good too, but for pure comfort, you can’t beat chocolate.

That’s what this series is for me…chocolate. Really good quality chocolate.

Nate and Audrey’s story was just as good as the first two. The four brothers are still in danger, there’s a chip that’s going to explode in a couple of weeks and they’re youngest brother is missing. I cannot wait for the final book in this series! I almost cried when I saw it wouldn’t come out until march!

I highly recommend.

Book Review: Sweet Revenge

Sweet Revenge (Sin Brothers, #2)As soon as I finished the first book in this series I dashed off to read #2 (hence the reason my review of #1 was so short :) )and it was just as good! This time it’s the oldest of the four brothers, Matt, who finds a soft, sweet girl to love.

The four Dean brothers were created in a lab and raised to be killers. They escaped as adults, wanting nothing more than family and a normal life. But they have a kill switch implanted near their spine that is a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. Plus, they still don’t know what happened to the youngest of them, Jory.

I am really enjoying how each of these stories can stand on its own and yet at the same time it builds the bigger story arc. For that reason, I would recommend reading in order.

These books are fast-paced, fun, and steamy. The author has captured the perfect man and pretty much duplicated him four times — he’s strong, capable, loyal, ruthlessly protective, and dominant. If that’s the kind of romantic hero you like, this series is definitely for you!

Book Review: Forgotten Sins

Forgotten Sins (Sin Brothers, #1)
I loved this book! I read it all in one go. I could not put it down. It was fun, adventurous, suspenseful, and the romance was steamy! And okay, so an enhanced soldier waking up with amnesia isn’t the most original idea in the world, but I honestly didn’t care. This story was fast-paced and well-written. I immediately connected to the characters and can’t wait for more. I highly recommend!