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Review: The Z Word by Bella Street

Title: The Z word
Author: Bella Street
Series: Apocalypse Babes # 1
Genre:  Science Fiction
Format: E-book
Source:  Giveaway
Pub. Year: 2011
Purchase: Amz/ B&N/ Smashwords
I won this book in a giveaway that was hosted by the author.

Blurb from Amazon:

The Z Word follows Seffy Carter and her longtime friends Gareth, Addison and Lani. The four besties share a past dysfunctional and dark enough to keep them bound together under do-over identities. But rends develop in their relationships from the flesh-eating pressures of ending up in 1980, in a Montana desert, surrounded by zombies wearing dated disco duds.

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Odd thoughts: No questions will be answered in this novel. Plus, it has weird slang.  Apparently, saying someone is “soup” is code for “crazy” or maybe it’s 80’s slang.

Another different take on the zombie apocalypse. It doesn’t really deal with the zombies. It focuses on shallow relationships and emphasizing secrets that are not going to be reveal right away. One reviewer on Amazon called the characters the Scooby-Doo gang. While I agree on some level with that reviewer, I feel the gang is more Victorious style. It was a decent book though.

Let’s talk characters. Seffy Carter, what a self-centered person to have for a main character. She was a hard person to like because she is only concerned with only herself and her attraction to Gareth. She barely cares for her friends, Addy (the redheaded bitch) and Lani (scatterbrained). She has no interest in being intelligent because she rejects anything nerdy or anything that hurts her image as Hollywood/ The Hills girl. It’s sort of disappointing because I’m all about female empowerment; Seffy does not have my vote. Addy may come of as a bitch (her reasoning for hating Seffy is not explained like Jade and Tori) but she can handle a gun. Something bad happened between them, can’t wait to find out what though. Lani is the Kat from Victorious or Luna from Harry Potter; random as hell and her logic doesn’t make sense most of the time. Even though Seffy is careless, there is something about her that I find intriguing and I can’t hate her for who she is. The reason is that on some level she is beginning to gain a consciousness about who she is and is slowly unwrapping her character. There is good potential in her character development.

Moving on to the guys in the book. Gareth is the one Seffy is interested. He has a nerdy side that Seffy tries very hard to suppress. Not sure what to make of him because he appears bi-polar when it comes to Seffy. He is willing to comfort her then pushes her away (without explanation) and finally, gets jealous when someone else is near her. Street likes bi-polar men because he reminds of a previous character she wrote. Gareth has potential as a lead male character but he is not that attractive. It’s like there is a shield around him. Trent is a survivor from another group and he is a jerk (so I liked him immediately, kidding). He has a very rough side but later comes out of his shell and is on friendlier terms with Seffy. The fact that Seffy distrusts Trent makes him character that much more appealing. Another appealing man is Fenn the Doctor who might be married but definitely is in a relationship with Fiona the Preppy Bitch Nurse. She is funny but this is the men’s section. There is this weird moment of flirtation between Seffy and Fenn that I just loved.

World-building wise, it is a closed book. There is no rational explanation behind the existence of the zombies. As readers, we end knowing how the zombies are being created but not why. It’s even weirder to have Russian mercenaries in Montana. It is true the Cold War is still going on in the book so that could be it. It looks like a dystopian setting but it doesn’t come out and spells it for the reader. I’m unsure if the United States has been conquered by zombies or not because Montana has reception for the television. I don’t think television rates that high in a post-apocalyptic world. For now, I’m saying dystopian because zombies are around.

This book is seriously closed lipped about everything. It doesn’t explain the time travel at all. It looks like Montana might be the only one affected by the zombies but I could be wrong. The gang shares a past but there is no in depth details as to how they know each other or what prompted them to make a pact to never speak of their past. Seffy and Addy have a love-mostly hate relationship but it is never explained why. Having read a previous book by Street, this is really surprising because she answered most of the questions that can arise from a reader. I realize this is the start of the series but not one bone was tossed to the reader.

Overall, it’s a zombie book but not Resident Evil style. Surprising but it is a little more mellow. There is an inexplicable glue binding the gang together and I’m looking forward to seeing what that it.

4 BB-Ready for capture

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68th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for Dystopia, Zombie, Science Fiction, First in a Series, E-book, Self-Published, Where are you reading?-Montana

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Interview +Giveaway with Kathy Logan of The Ruby Brooch

Let’s give a warm welcome to Kathy Logan. She is the author of The Ruby Brooch, a historical time-traveling novel.

Katherine is a distance runner and an avid reader who turned her love of reading into a passion for writing and has completed a sweeping time-travel romance The Ruby Brooch, Book 1 in the Celtic Brooch Trilogy. She is currently working on a contemporary story with a spin off character who demanded his story be told before she completed the other two planned time travels.

A graduate of Rowan University in New Jersey, she earned a BA in Psychology a minor in Criminal Justice. Following graduation, Katherine attended the Philadelphia Institute for Paralegal Training earning a General Practice Certification. She returned to Central Kentucky and worked for twenty years as paralegal. She currently resides in Lexington and writes full time.

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In a sentence or two, please tell us why readers should read your novel.

The Ruby Broochhas an entertaining allure with amazing, non- cardboard characters, great storytelling, and constant action that will keep the reader riding an emotional roller-coaster while either laughing or crying.

Who do you imagine as the reader of your novel?

I’m going to answer with a line from the book. “People like me.” I’m a 62 year old widow and grandmother training for my first marathon. I’m very focused on nutrition, health and fitness. I’m a full-time writer, dating a fantastic man I met on Match.com, and I’m also my ailing mother’s full-time caregiver. In short, a woman who takes care of others, has two full time jobs, is in a relationship, and runs for exercise and health.

I believe that as busy women, we all want a few hours to ourselves to escape from our own worries and concerns and live vicariously through someone else’s troubles with a guaranteed happy ending. I think we’re looking to connect with a strong woman who’s been dealt a bad hand and has the gumption to play it out even though she’s scared to death, and in the midst of her fear, finds her true self. I believe those types of women exist in all genres from time- travels to vampires to regencies. It’s the journey, not necessarily the road. As a reader and as a woman, we want that journey to resonate and in a small way learn something that will make our life fuller and more productive.

How does Celtic mysticism play into The Ruby Brooch?

I’ll share a couple of snippets that aren’t spoilers.

The heroine’s Scottish godfather tells her, “I’ve studied our folklore most of my life, and I believe there are forces in the universe we can’t see or understand. If Sean [the heroine’s father] said this is magical [the ruby brooch], I have no reason not to believe him.” Elliott turned the brooch over and studied the back of the stone. “My grandfather used to say, ‘Some see darkness where others see only the absence of light.’”

Kit drew in a breath. “Meaning?”

Elliott placed the brooch in her hand and curled her fingers around it. “Keep an open mind.”

Later, when she meets the hero they have this exchange. The racing challenge died on the balmy breeze blowing in from the river as they strolled down the rickety sidewalk in silence. By the time they reached the end, the western sky had turned lavender with approaching dusk.

“In Scotland they call the meeting of the day with the night—”

“The gloaming,” the widow [the heroine] said. “Do you believe the time of two-lights is mystical?”

He lifted his eyebrow. “According to Scottish folklore encounters between the visible and invisible worlds occur then.”

“That must be why ghosts sometimes appear at twilight?” Her eyes were as dark and full of mystery as they had been when he first met her.

“And dawn,” he added. “That’s the time of day I saw the lady riding her mighty steed—”

They are interrupted at that point, but Cullen’s childhood vision is very much a part of the story, intertwining the past and present and future, as are Kit’s sightings of Cullen as a ghost that began when she turned 10.

What type of research did you do for the book?

I read dozens of journals written during the Great Migration, a time in our country’s history when women had small voices but indomitable spirits. I talked to experts on topics from carbon dating to rattlesnake bites. I read extensively about the suffragettes; the thoroughbred industry (breeding and racing); genealogy, paramedics; and 19th century legal education, property rights, wines, medicine, childbirth, cooking, oxen, cholera, and dozens of other topics. And, most importantly, I drove the Oregon Trail from Independence, MO, to Portland OR, following mile markers and wagon ruts and talked to people about the land and their family histories. Research, I think, is my favorite part of writing.

What was one of the most interesting data that you stumbled upon?

A week before Christmas 2010, I was researching guns and decided to visit one of our local gun shops. I walked through the front door of a very crowded gun store and stood there not sure where to go. A young man working the cash registered asked if he could help me. I said, “I need a gun that will shoot as many cows in the shortest amount of time.”

The store fell silent. A couple dozen men stared at me like I was crazy. I cleared my throat and explained that I was a romance writer and that my heroine was caught in the middle of a buffalo stampede and needed a weapon. The shock wore off and answers started flying. I still laugh when I think of that visit.

Was there a scene that you absolutely had to have in the book?

I fought (well, disagreed) with editors, dozens of contest judges, and critique partners who nixed the opening of the story. I wanted to show the heroine galloping across the pasture on her thoroughbred. The scene was vividly implanted in my head, and I refused to let it go. Finally, after taking on-line classes, reading, and studying the craft of writing, I slowly began to understand what everyone had tried to tell me. Riding her horse was not where the story action started. It was disappointing to let the scene go, but ultimately I knew it was the right thing to do.

There is a scene about half way through that story that couldn’t be left out. It’s a conversation between the hero and heroine about wearing all sorts of masks to hide who we really are. He asks her who she is down deep inside where no one goes. It was a hard scene to write but one that had to be included.

Quirky Information

Gil Grissom of CSI: Las Vegas or Jethro Gibbs from NCIS?

That one is easy. Jethro is Elliott Fraser, Kit’s godfather.

Captain America or Iron Man?

Captain America – a fish out of water.

If you could be a god/goddess, which one would you be?

Athena: a warrior, protector, working woman, and full of wisdom

Thank you so much for stopping by and doing the interview. Kathy has kindly offered to giveaway an e-book of her novel but first the blurb.

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Blurb from Amazon:
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~Anaïs NinCan a 21st century paramedic find her heart’s desire on the other side of time?
From the white-plank fenced pastures of Lexington, Kentucky, to the beautiful Bay of San Francisco, The Ruby Brooch, a saga steeped in family tradition and mystery, follows a young woman’s journey as she searches for the truth on the other side of the heather-scented mist.As the lone survivor of a car crash that killed her parents, paramedic Kit MacKlenna makes a startling discovery that further alters her life. A faded letter and a well-worn journal reveal that she was abandoned as a baby and the only clues to her identity are a blood-splattered shawl, a locket that bears a portrait of a nineteenth-century man, and a Celtic brooch with mystical powers.
After studying the journal, she decides to continue her father’s twenty-year search for her identity and solve her birth parents’ murders. For safety reasons, she adopts the persona of the Widow MacKlenna. Although a perfect cover for her eccentric behavior, she will be forced to lie and MacKlennas don’t lie, or so she thought. Finally, dressed and packed, she utters the incantation inscribed on the ancient stone and is swept back to Independence, Missouri, in the year 1852.

Upon arriving in the past, she meets Cullen Montgomery, an egotistical Scotsman with a penchant for seducing widows. The San Francisco-bound lawyer happens to resemble the ghost who has haunted Kit since childhood. She quickly finds the Bach-humming, Shakespeare-quoting man to be over-bearing and his intolerance for liars threatens her quest.

If she can survive his accusations and resist his tempting embrace for seventy-three days, she might be able to find the answers she seeks, and return home to a new life without changing history or leaving her heart on the other side of time.

Giveaway Time (International): Winner can win an e-book copy of The Ruby Brooch.
Mandatory Entry: Answer this question; what time period would you like to visit? And leave your e-mail.
—-
Giveaway ends on June 18 at 11:59 PM, midnight.
That’s it. Good luck to all of you.
—-
Kathy Logan can be found at her Blog, WebsiteTwitter, and Facebook
The Ruby Brooch can be bought at Amazon.

Review: Kiss Me, I’m Irish by Bella Street

Title: Kiss Me, I’m Irish
Author: Bella Street
Series: Time For Love # 1
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Format: E-book
Source: Giveaway
Pub. Year: 2011
Purchase: Amz/ Smashwords/ B&N
I won a copy of this novel in a giveaway hosted by the author

n 1813, Emily Musgrave is heading to a convent for misbehavior. But it was due to loneliness, not rebellion. In modern-day Tennessee, Liam Jackson is playing his Dobro in seedy bars and it’s doing nothing for his music career–and even less for the dark places in his soul.
Pixie mischief can not only change timelines, it can change hearts. Because every girl needs a little magic in her life

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Random: I have no idea that choking on gum was possible.

This was my first time-travel romance novel. It was really sweet. A departure from the dark fantasy readings I usually do.

It was a lighthearted novel with some characters that drove me up a wall. Liam, especially, but he is a brooding musician (they tend to that). The novel throws in fantasy elements like pixies and time traveling but they feel secondary to the romance of the novel. The fantasy elements do change the lives of the character so they definitely contribute to the storyline and they fit really well with the contemporary feel of the novel.

Liam is seriously bipolar; his mood changes very often. Maybe bipolar is a strong word but  he is incapable of showing the right emotion in the right situation. He gets jealous when men flirt with Emily but turns around and accepts a number from a woman who is dressed “skankier” than Emily. He gets angry when Emily dresses up for her manager’s position but secretly thinks she is attractive. He loves her but wants her gone because she can do so much better than him. I have a slight problem with Liam’s treatment of Emily. He doesn’t like the “going out” outfits that Tinker dresses Emily. They are too suggestive. He prefers her in what I consider conservative or innocent clothing meaning not showing cleavage. It looks like he is trying to keep Emily’s outer beauty a secret from the world. Emily needs his critique of her clothing because she likes him so his opinions matter but he does make her feel self-conscious about the clothes she is wearing. That is never good but the good thing is that Emily does have a backbone and wears the clothing she wants to. She is not completely complacent. Of course not, any girl that runs away has to be strong.

Besides the trying to control the clothes, the relationship between Liam and Emily is well-developed. It goes at a realistic pace and there is enough drama and emotional connective scenes that would draw them together. (Plus, Emily does have a weakness for Irish men). This novel is really good at creating relationships at a realistic level. Tinker and Emily connect really well. It is through Tinker that Emily begins to adapt to the 21st Century and begins to feel more self-assured about herself. Tinker and Emily are really great friends who both gain something from their friendship.

I’m giving this novel 4.5 black butterflies due to Liam trying to control’s Emily’s clothes. It was a great novel on building relationships.

4.5 BB-Ready for capture, Total keeper

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36th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: First in a Series, Self-published,Science Fiction, E-book, Where are you reading?-Tennessee