Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Review - 'The System' by Teshelle Combs


1 + 1 = Dead.
That’s the only math that adds up when you’re in the System.

Everywhere Nick turns, he’s surrounded by the inevitability of his own demise at the hands of the people who stole his life from him. That is, until those hands deliver the bleeding, feisty, eye-rolling Nessa Parker. Tasked with keeping his new partner alive, Nick must face all the ways he’s died and all the things he’s forgotten.

Nessa might as well give up. The moment she gets into that car, the moment she lays her hazel eyes on her new partner, her end begins. It doesn’t matter that Nick Masters can slip through time by computing mathematical algorithms in his mind. It doesn’t matter how dark and handsome and irresistibly cold he is. Nessa has to defeat her own shadows.

Together and alone, Nick and Nessa make sense of their senseless fates and fight for the courage to change it all. Even if it means the System wins and they end up…well…dead. 

Readers become a part of 'The System' from the first page. However, unlike Nessa Parker, who unwillingly becomes immersed in an underground world of assassins, readers can't get enough.

Nessa's world no longer centers around boy-crazy friends and familiar hugs. Rather, she is surrounded by "recruits" - trained killers - and a captor that prefers extreme corporal punishment, such as cane beating, to address unwanted behavior...like asking questions. However, Nessa's character growth drives the plot, with all its heartache and tough lessons. She is smart, spry, and, most importantly, armed with humor.

"If I succumb to my wounds in the night, will you cremate me? Spread my ashes on the beach to the theme song from Pocahontas?" -Nessa Parker

Of course, it's easy to keep a sense of humor in the face of death when your new partner is as hot and feisty as Nick Masters. Handy with an automatic weapon, Nick can also move faster than it takes Nessa to blink...because of his algorithm. You see, everyone in the System has a personal mathematical algorithm that allows the use of a special gift, whether it be reading minds, healing others, or controlling electronics. Everyone has their own algorithm...except Nessa. So why is she there? The answer surprises Nessa more than anyone.

'The System' will definitely appeal to 
fans of the 'Divergent' series.

'The System' embraces the tough and gritty moments of Nessa and Nick's lives in a poignant manner. Nothing is ever clean or easy. People die. People kill. And people learn to survive. But what does this mean for Nessa and Nick?

Is this the end? 
Or simply a new beginning?

Purchase 'The System' here.

Also check out Teshelle's first novel, 'Core', if you like kickass female leads and dragons. Yeah, I said dragons. :D

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

"Research, research, research!" -said in my very best whiny Jan Brady voice

I am undertaking my first historical fiction project, so you know what that means:


Now, I've led a sketchy past with research. I've despised it at times. But other times, I've  embraced it and cooed, "Sweet, sweet Bey," while kissing its head. And this time around, I can't wait! My excitement is beginning to dominate my thoughts, encroaching on other projects and chores. I want to research.

!My history teachers would be so proud!

And being my first historical fiction WIP, I'm staying local. (Also, I do a great old school NC country dialect. So I gotta represent.) I've even been lucky enough to meet some local history buffs while exploring some of the older homes in the area.

Harris House, central NC
It was an honor to meet one of the Harris'. I have to admit that I had to apologize for groaning when he first approached my family and I. To be fair, we used to get chased off of old properties quite regularly when we were younger, and the skepticism of someone approaching has never fully waned. Ha! However, Mr. Harris' company and eagerness to share his family's history was greatly appreciated. His mother was born in this house, and he had many wonderful recollections of his relatives enjoying their time here.

Harris House, original homestead before front addition

I also plan to track down a local historian and follow him around like that weird little thing from 'Lord of the Rings' (you know, "My precious, my precious.") Hahaha! Okay, I won't go that far. 

There is nothing more important (especially while researching) than being able to talk to locals because they have special insights into the area that books and online research just can't capture. They bring stories that have been passed down through generations. They can mentally relandscape a home or area, allowing you to see it as it once was: Grand, prominent, busy, loved. Most importantly, they bring heart to history. And as a writer, I want my backdrop as well as my characters to have heart.I want the area to be its own character in a story.

That is probably the greatest lesson, to date, that I have learned while researching for historical fiction purposes. 

Have you learned any great tips while researching for your next novel?

Thank you Mr. Harris for taking the time to share your family with my family! It has definitely inspired me to strive to capture the life of an area and era in my writing.  

Friday, March 28, 2014

As It Turns Out...

I made a life choice a few months ago to take things more seriously, talk less, and listen more. Honestly, I felt like I was always talking, but never really saying much, and missing a lot that was being said around me. So I cut out the shenanigans and focused on work. Errr...I tried to, at least.

As it turns out...

No one else was really saying much. And I'm apparently incapable of leading a focused, serious adult life. But I have learned a few things about myself and have accepted them, like...I will never have "it" completely together. I will rarely be on time, no matter how hard I try or how many stink-eyes I deflect. And in particularly cumbersome time limits, I will always dump my flippin' drink on my flippin' crotch in my flippin' car. But there is always a silver lining. Though I am terribly inefficient, it turns out that I can be wildly innovative.

For example, the cats ran out of food last week. Did I panic? No. Did I forget to go to the store and buy more cat food right away? ......Of course...... BUT, as their human, I hunted and gathered some dog food, which I immediately smashed into cat-size bits. Cat-tastrophy avoided!  

As it turns out...
I should have just rolled with it. Rather than agonize over having (or not having) something awesome to say, I should have accepted my inner Gina Linetti (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and let her out, jumpsuit and all.

As it turns out...

Being too serious is just as destructive as not being serious at all. 

Who wants to be...
The serious kid who can't make the lamp work,

when I can be...
The weird girl who throws bologna?

Friday, March 14, 2014

To blog or not to blog

I have been taking a blogging hiatus.

So here is a photo of a baby giraffe drinking from a bottle.

Photo by cuteemergency.com
Please be patient with us.

Thank you.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Nhys Glover, author of the 'Werewolf Keep' series

Nhys Glover is a romance author with many books under her belt. I love her 'Werewolf Keep' trilogy, which chronicles the lives of werewolf victims living in a castle tucked away in the moors. Each book addresses "Grand Passion", as Nhys has coined. And each heroine, while young and/or naive in the ways of love, always proves that each woman, no matter how delicate, has a wealth of strengths and all she must do is channel them and believe in herself. This is very important because many romance novels focus on the heroine being saved in one way or another, always in need. And while these women find a reprieve from the storm of life in the arms of their loves, they are, in return, equally saving the men who adore them.Sometimes even fighting for their honor. All of the characters of the Keep are shockingly poignant and realized, which make every milestone and special moment all the more intimate.

Nhys has been kind enough to offer her insight into the characters of the Keep below. Thank you, Nhys! 

And please scroll down for links to all three books in the 'Werewolf Keep' series. They are a great addition to any romance reader's library. 


A study done in a University somewhere was trying to measure what makes for popularity or likeability. They found that the more information the test subjects had on a ‘person’, including their weaknesses as well as their strengths , the higher that ‘person’ ranked on the popularity scale.  All such in-depth ‘people’ ranked well ahead of those with only limited, if more sterling characteristics, listed.

As human beings we value depth, we want to see beneath the surface of others as we can see beneath our own surface.  Unfortunate, real life gives us mainly surface stuff about the people in our lives. Everybody wears masks. Is it any wonder we’re all addicted to TV, movie and books series that allow us to maintain a relationship with fictional people over an extended period. People we feel we really know.

I don’t feel like I create characters, I just get to know imaginary people. And some of those people are more real to me than the actual people in my life because I can plumb their depths.  I write because I can spend time getting to know these people, and often find, somewhere down the track, that I’ve actually modelled a character on someone I knew, without consciously meaning to. This was particularly true with the denizens of the Keep.

The more I explored the Keep, the more familiar it became, particularly the inmates ambivalence to their werewolf side, their issues around incarceration, and the guilt they carried. I realised I was writing about life in the medium security male prison I worked in for four and a half years, and some of the characters, like Jasper, were lifted right from that world.

Jasper is a very upright gentleman with a gifted life, up until the night he walks home from his club and encounters a werewolf. When he unknowingly kills his housekeeper on the first night of his change, he’s devastated, and carries that guilt with him for years.

Jasper was modelled on an upright young man I met ‘inside‘ who was serving time for vehicular manslaughter. It was his 21st birthday party, and his friends plied him with drinks he wasn’t used to. Like so many before him, and since, he got in his car after the party and drove home. On the way, he killed a mother of four. The sentence he received was mild, but they could have given him life and it wouldn’t have been punishment enough, as far as he was concerned. I knew that young man would never forgive himself for what he’d done, nor would he ever stop making himself pay. I remember thinking at the time, ‘there by the grace of God go I’. So when I met Jasper, he became in essence that young man, and where I couldn’t help that real young man, I could help Jasper, by allowing Phil to offer acceptance and Dee to give him unconditional love.

Creating a world filled with ‘deep’ characters who can be liked, respected, and most importantly, empathised with, is important to me. And once I’ve met such people I want to come back time and again to see them, in the same way I like catching up with old friends. I have my favourites (for me it’s Will at the Keep), but mostly it’s just about hanging out with people I’ve come to know and like over an extended period. They become a kind of family. My readers feel the same way, it seems.

Werewolf Keep is not an easy place to live, but it’s a wonderful place to visit, and though it was only ever meant to be a trilogy, readers are already suggesting a ‘reunion’. It may well turn out to be like my New Atlantis novels. I decided to end that time travel series at Book 7, but found I missed the world and the people so much I had to go back. I’ve just published Book 9, and there’s definitely a Book 10 to come. Lucky I write fast and have lots of time on my hands! 

For more on Nhys Glover and her work, please visit her website.

Thank you Nhys for writing books with smart women and for sharing your thoughts today!

Philomena Davenport is shocked at her first sight of Breckenhill Keep, the monstrous ruin she had inherited from the father who had deserted her as a child. Even more shocking was the mysterious stipulation in the will that required her to remain at the Keep for three months, before she could claim her inheritance. How could she do that when the Guardian of the Keep, the handsomely daunting Byron Carstairs, wants her gone, and the spine chilling howls echoing up from the bowels of the ruin urge her to escape while she can? But Phil is made of firmer stuff than that. She will take on the denizens of this dark domain, and make the place her own. No monster or man would keep her from it, and only love could drive her away. 

For Byron, Phil is a light in the darkness of his duty-bound life. He had never expected to meet someone as beautiful, courageous or compassionate as she. In only days, she manages to spin her magic around the hearts of all who dwell within the sanctuary. But no matter how much they needed her, it is no kindness to keep her there. She deserved far better than a burdened man and a castle filled with monsters. For her own good, he must drive her light from his dark life. 

This is the first exciting book in the Werewolf Keep trilogy by Australian author Nhys Glover.

In mid-Victorian England a contagion runs rampant, unbeknown to its citizens. Those afflicted are either killed or confined to a desolate pile of stones on the Yorkshire Moors called Breckenhill Keep. The denizens of that Keep loath the monsters they have become. None more so than Jasper Horton, a refined gentleman in all ways but one.

When Lady Fidelia Montgomery arrives at the Keep, seeking to escape the clutches of the madman who has killed her husband, she unwittingly unleashes the wildness Jasper has gone to such lengths to contain. His love for her puts innocent lives at risk, including Dee’s own, and threatens to turn the doll-like widow into a monster he abhors.

Having the werewolf contagion has advantages Lily, a terminally ill invalid, discovers when she is infected by a beast in the walled garden of her home. However, along with renewed health and strength come challenges. She must leave her home and loved ones to move to an ancient Keep in Yorkshire, spend three nights a month locked in a dungeon and, most challenging of all, deal with the unexpected attentions of an attractive man whose wolf is determined to claim hers as its mate.

Will, the tough Scottish enforcer of Breckenhill Keep has always found his werewolf side easy to bear. But when he meets the fragile Lily, his angry, closed-off way of life is turned upside down. His wolf wants hers, and though he knows he’s not good enough for the young, innocent woman, he must convince her to accept him. His only other alternative is to have his best friend put a bullet in his brain.

Because a thwarted werewolf who has found his mate is a very dangerous creature.