New Release! The Star Touched Queen! Don’t miss it!


THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN (St. Martin’s Griffin; April 26, 2016) is a lush and vivid standalone debut young adult fantasy that seamlessly weaves the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone with Indian folklore.  Featuring a smart, independent anti-princess who must take her place as queen and a forbidden romance that defies the odds, debut author Roshani Chokshi pairs beautiful writing with a thrilling pace and compulsive plot, using her own Filipino and Indian heritage to create a culturally diverse and vividly imagined world.


Falling for Jillian by Kristen Proby – Review & Release Day – @SignetEclipse @Handbagjunkie @BerkleyRomance

Falling for Jillian by Kristen Proby


Check it Out!

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From New York Times bestselling author Kristen Proby comes the third romance in the Love Under the Big Sky series, featuring a veteran struggling with PTSD and the one woman who can help him recover—and learn to love again.

Jillian thought she was a city girl through and through; the fast cars, high fashion, and glamour—she loves it all. But when her ex tells her he’s having a baby with his new wife (after Jillian struggled for years to get pregnant), she hightails it back to Montana to cry on the shoulder of her best friend, Cara.

But in truth, Jillian would rather be comforted by someone else…specifically Zack, Cara’s brother-in-law. Zack is a veteran of the Iraq War who came back to the family ranch to raise his preteen son after the boy’s mother took off. He’s struggling to re-establish a relationship with his son, and warding off the demons of PTSD, which still haunt him. The last thing he needs is bold, brassy Jillian…but why can’t he keep his hands off her?


by Catherine for Sunshine & Mountains

Grade: A (5 Stars)

I so loved this book, I just love anything Kristen writes.  A very sweet love story, Zack and Jillian both have major baggage from previous relationships, in spite of it all they find a true love.  They are so sweet together and Zack is just plain hot.  I love the connection they seem to have from the beginning and the relationship between them two and Zack’s son, Seth.  An amazing book.  I am so hoping that there will be more to this series.
I was given a copy by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

About The Author:


Kristen is the author of the Amazon and USA Today bestselling With Me In Seattle series. She has a passion for a good love story and strong characters who love humor and have a strong sense of loyalty and family. Her men are the alpha type; fiercely protective and a bit bossy, and her ladies are fun, strong, and not afraid to stand up for themselves.
Kristen spends her days with her muse in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys coffee, chocolate and sunshine. And naps.

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#Review – Some Like It Wild by M. Leighton – @mleightonbooks @BerkleyRomance #5StarRead

Some Like It Wild by M. Leighton




First was The Wild Ones. Now, the next book in M. Leighton’s Wild Ones series… How far will a good girl go for the bad boy she loves? Laney Holt is a preacher’s daughter. A good girl. Her only goal was to get married, have babies, and live happily ever after, just like her parents. Only that didn’t happen. The two people closest to her betrayed her, and Laney’s dreams came crashing down. Now she’s left with an empty space she doesn’t know how to fill. Until she meets Jake Theopolis, a daredevil with a death wish who has heartbreaker written all over him. Jake has no interest in thinking beyond the here and now. All he wants out of life is the next rush, the next “feel-good” thing to keep his mind off the pain of his past. His latest rush? Showing Laney there’s more to life than being a good girl—and that going bad can be so much fun. Her only concern now is how she can ever hope to satisfy the wild side of a boy like Jake. She’s looking forward to trying. And so is Jake. If you love The Wild Ones, you’ll be just as wild for M. Leighton’s Bad Boys series which includes Down to You, Up to Me, and Everything for Us.


“Some like it wild, but not me. At least not forever.” ~Laney



Review by Kayla

Grade: A (4.5 out of 5 Stars)

I really enjoyed Some like wild. I have always liked M. Leighton’s style of writing. She did an awesome job on this book. It was well worth the wait for it. I loved the Wild ones so I knew that this book would not disappoint. Laney is the daughter of a preacher. She is a good girl, and her goal in life is to get married and have babies and live that happily ever after. But that doesn’t happen for Laney. People that Laney has always looked to ruin her dreams and now she doesn’t know what to do and she feels very empty. Then Laney meets Jake. He is a risk taker and a heartbreaker. Jake is a living in the now person, and what makes him feel good. When he meets Laney, he wants to show her that life is more than just being a good girl and that life is worth living and taking risks. She is willing to give it a try and so is Jake. Laney had a lot of tension with her father but I think that was understandable under that circumstances. Her father wanted her to get back with her ex fiancé but she didn’t want to tell him that he had cheated on her. No daughter wants to have to tell her dad that. It is hurtful. I really enjoyed this book. It was well written and was a sweet and good read.

**I was given a copy of Some like it wild by Sunshine and Mountains book blog for an honest review.

#Review – The Way Back ‘Round by Brenda Sorrels – @brendasorrels #5StarRead

The Way Back ‘Round by Brenda Sorrels




Set in rural Minnesota in the 1930’s, The Way Back ‘Round follows young Jake Frye, who enjoys nothing more than sitting between his father’s legs while driving a wagon team of horses. However, when a large buck juts across their path and pitches Jake from the seat, his mother, tender from a string of miscarriages, reins him in. Jake’s frustration builds and he makes a devastating mistake. Rejected by his mother and wracked with guilt, Jake hops a freight train joining the thousands of men and boys riding the rails during the depression. He meets Franz, another runaway, and they become brothers. Picking fruit in California, and cotton in Texas, they beg at back doors, eat in soup kitchens, sleep in “jungle” camps – all under the threat of brutal railroad “Bulls” who patrol the tracks. While Franz dreams about marrying a red-headed girl, Jake yearns for his family. When a farmer tells them about Roosevelt’s Conservation Corps camps set up to help young men like themselves, they head to California and join up.



Review by Kayla

Grade: A+ (5 Stars)

I was very excited that Brenda sent me a copy of this book to review for her. I loved the Bachelor farmer so I knew that I would love the way back ‘round as well. Brenda has a very unique way of writing and I absolutely love it. This book is set back in the 1930’s in Minnesota. This book follows Jake who enjoys sitting with his father on the wagon with the horses. Jake’s mother is always trying to rein him in and he hates it. As Jake gets more and more frustrated he makes a devastating mistake. Being rejected by his mother and full of guilt Jake gets on a train and rides the rail during the depression. He meets Franz, he is another runaway and they become brothers. They picked fruit in California, cotton in Texas and beg at people’s doors and eat in soup kitchens. They sleep in random places. Franz wants to marry a red headed girl and Jake misses his family. A farmer tells the boys about the Conservation Corps in California and they go to join up. This book has some adventure and heartbreak but it is a wonderful journey through these young men’s lives in the 1930’s. I really enjoyed this book. I highly recommend it. I loved it Brenda! Well done!

**I was given a copy of the way back ‘Round by Brenda Sorrels for an honest review.

#Review – Mended by Kim Karr @BerkleyRomance @authorkimkarr #5StarRead

Mended by Kim Karr




Music has the power to heal, but not all broken hearts can be mended.

Always in control, Xander Wilde considered life on the road to be a perfect fit for him. But when disaster strikes on the band’s latest tour, fate intervenes…and a newly single Ivy Taylor, the only girl he has ever loved, steps back into his life.

After moving past her painful breakup with Xander years ago, Ivy was poised to become the next big name in music…when suddenly she withdrew from the limelight—the same day she announced her engagement to her controlling agent, Damon Wolf.

Xander knows he should keep his distance. But once they’re on the road, he can’t resist pursuing her for a second chance. Yet a jealous Damon can’t let her go—and he’s keeping dangerous secrets that could destroy them all.

When the three of them come together, everything falls apart. But if Xander and Ivy can hold tight to the bond that connects them, they just might have a chance to reclaim the powerful love they thought they had lost forever….


“Xander Wilde the boy may have broken my heart once upon a time….but Xander Wilde the man, is the one who mended it.”




Grade: A+ (5 stars)

Review by Kayla

Kim Karr writes some awesome books! I just love her style and that she captures my attention in all of her books. Xander thought he had things going smoothly until disaster hit the Wilde One’s latest tour. The lead singer was unable to sing so River was going to come back and sing but then Dahlia was unable to travel. So Ivy Taylor said she was willing to help them out. Ivy never thought she would have to see Xander again but she needed the money. Xander and Ivy have the same connection as they did in high school. But there is a lot of anger among them. They try to be friends for the sake of the band. Xander tries to keep his distance because Ivy has a crazy ex fiancé who thinks he owns her. Things get intense. I don’t want to give anything away. But I definitely think if you haven’t read Connected, Torn, Dazed and Mended that you should!

**I was given a complimentary copy of Mended by Sunshine and Mountains blog.

#Review – I Found My Heart in West Virginia by Chelsea Falin and Cory Hammond

I Found My Heart in West Virginia

by Chelsea Falin and Cory Hammond




Cheyenne, or Shy as she is better known, makes the huge decision to move her and her four young children to the mountains of West Virginia. Despite coming from a small town in west-central Florida, she had been living in upstate New York with her ex-husband…had been, those were the key words. After finding out her ex-husband was having an affair with a childless eighteen year old girl, Shy calls it quits. West Virginia had long ago found a special place in her heart. The mountains are beautiful, the people are friendly, and you can find a piece of the old life hidden out in the hollers. It doesn’t hurt that Cheyenne’s favorite cousin, Jace, and his family abide there either. Nor does the cheap property prices. Shy hopes she will find a new life for her and her children. She wants freedom, and a simpler way of life. What she doesn’t expect to find is a rough-around-the-edges backwoods boy with plenty of troubles of his own to entrap her heart so quickly after the end of her marriage…or ever, come to think of it.



Review by Kayla

Grade: A (4 out of 5 Stars)

I liked the way the language flowed in this story. It was a beautiful love story that was tastefully done and had a few sex scenes that were good but didn’t overpower the story. I liked the way you got to see how the characters really were and be able to see into how they were thinking. It was done in a first person story coming from both main characters. This was a very uplifting story and I really enjoyed reading it.

**I was given a copy of I found my heart in West Virginia by Sunshine and Mountains book blog for an honest review.

The Wicked We Have Done – Guest Post & Review #getWicked @sarahharian @BerkleyRomance #NewRelease #MustRead


Guys, I’m totally stoked to share with you today’s blog! 🙂

A guest post from Sarah Harian, author of The Wicked We Have Done ON RELEASE DAY! This book blew me away, literally, like off my chair! She’s a phenomenal talent, and I just cannot wait to see what her career holds for us readers! 🙂

As I was reading this lovely book, I kept wondering hmmm.. .this should have a kick ass playlist.. and LO & BEHOLD! IT does, and I’m getting to share it with you today!  How lucky are we!? But before I do, a little about this book, that you’ll need to pick up, like today. 🙂



Darkly suspenseful and completely unexpected, The Wicked We Have Done is a debut author’s thrilling new take on New Adult romance.

Twenty-two-year-old Evalyn Ibarra never expected to be an accused killer and experimental prison test subject. A year ago, she was a normal college student. Now she’s been sentenced to a month in the compass room—an advanced prison obstacle course designed by the government to execute justice.

If she survives, the world will know she’s innocent.

Locked up with nine notorious and potentially psychotic criminals, Evalyn must fight the prison and dismantle her past to stay alive. But the system prized for accuracy appears to be killing at random.

She doesn’t plan on making friends.

She doesn’t plan on falling in love, either.


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My Review:

Grade: A+ (Five STRONG stars)

HOLY COW! This book… yes, it drew me in, and yes, it had a bit of a Hunger Games feel, but seriously! *claps hands* GO SARAH! This book is so interesting and fresh, I am so glad to have gotten the chance to read it! I ❤ NEW IDEAS, and this book is one of them! As I’ve said in other reviews, romance books for me aren’t a grab, but add in a killer plot line and you’ve got me hooked! I love romance as long as I have a story to go along with it, and Sarah has done this. I feel as though the Compass Room was such an interesting idea, testing the morality of an accused killer, somewhat like Divergent’s testing, it really pulled out some wonderful character building as the story went on, and really gave us a new idea for a justice system.

Evalyn has to have her thoughts examined, all while playing a sort of game that will determine if she gets freedom or death. Her, along with other young people, who I must say, the author did a good job pulling quiet a few of them out of the background, and fleshing them out, even if they weren’t the main character, and I love to see that! The author really took a genre and concept that has been flying off the shelves for YA, and crafting into something deeper & stronger for the NA genre, and I’ve got to say, I was impressed.

Some people don’t like seeing books in the same vein as others, but honestly, it’s a theme, and there’s no rule that says author’s can’t play with it. Hunger Games pulled from Battle Royale, and so on and so forth, and I feel like yelling, “DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS THEME,” when I see people complaining.  Sarah does an outstanding job putting her personal creative spin on this genre, and I adored it. The character’s had a really intangible strength to them, in the face of what they were undergoing, and I did think that you really pull the most from characters when you put them in situations like The Compass Room.  She focuses on the story, over the romance, and doesn’t throw in any clichéd love triangle moments. Once you pick this book up, you’ll keep reading… it’s well written, with a lot of thought behind it, and it shines as a debut novel for Sarah Harian! I’m excited to see more from her!


Guest Post by Sarah – #GetWicked Playlist! 🙂

(As I run off to add these to my phone, and grab the book again!)

The Wicked We Have Done playlist is compilation of angsty and mostly dark songs. Since I have a very difficult time listening to music with lyrics while writing (my attention span is embarrassingly short), these songs resonated me while I was brainstorming—either in the car on my way to work or walking my dog. Here is my list of creepy, sad, and intense tracks for The Wicked We Have Done:

Spotify Playlist:

“Seven Devils” by Florence + The Machine: This song is the ultimate creepy. I bought Florence’s album right when it came out, around the same time I was drafting TWWHD, and this song become instant fodder for me. I love how ghostly and chilling it is. It really parallels the book in a sense that the dark pasts of all of the characters are rebirthing.

“End of Me” by A Day to Remember: This song reflects a lot of the darkness of Evalyn’s past and losing those she cares deeply about. Instead of reflecting the grief of her loss, it reflects the anger she feels behind being abandoned.

“New Tricks” by Great Northern: Eerie and whimsical, this track is reminiscent of the strange horrors the characters face while in the forest of the Compass Room. It also parallels the moment when Evalyn decides to take matters into her own hands.

“Sink” by Brand New: This song is a delicious bundle of angst. It’s ragey and twisted. I feel like it represents the states of mind of all of my characters in the Compass Room, and the lengths they go to help each other when it comes to survival.

“Peace of Mind” by The Jezabels: When I first heard this song, I was in the process of revising a death scene. I cried, obviously. I think this song gives meaning to the little hope that the inmates have when they start making relationships with each other, and the refusal to believe that friends and lovers could die at any point within the prison.

“Come Clarity” by In Flames: I’ve loved this song for a long, long time. To me, it is about reflection, the presence of someone new, and their ability to erase the nightmare of the past.

“Millstone” by Eisley: This song IS Evalyn, particularly the line, “There’s not a moment to relive my time and space/ There’s not a moment to undo anything”. It encompasses her confusion and heartache in both The Wicked We Have Done and the sequel A Vault of Sins.

Don’t you love this?!  Shout out! Tell me if you’ve read the book, or if you love any of these songs!  I promise you, fans of NA Romance, The Hunger Games or even Thrillers, will love this book! I’ve still got it’s hook in me, and I can’t seem to shake it! So I’ll be reading it again! 🙂


About The Author:

Sarah Harian grew up in the foothills of Yosemite and received her B.A. and M.F.A. from Fresno State University. When not writing, she is usually hiking some mountain or another in the Sierras, playing video games with her husband, or rough-housing with her dog.

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#AFallofMarigolds – @SusanMeissner – What an outstanding piece! Two time periods, two ladies, #unbelieveablytouching! @penguinusa


I was luckily enough to get a copy of this book from Penguin, to read and review as a part of a blog tour, but in my scatterbrained mind, I MISSED THE TOUR! Of course, that always tends to happen when I LOVED the book I’m reading, so I couldn’t let it pass without praising this wonderful, touching story, and letting people know what a good choice this book is!



A beautiful scarf, passed down through the generations, connects two women who learn that the weight of the world is made bearable by the love we give away….

September 1911. On Ellis Island in New York Harbor, nurse Clara Wood cannot face returning to Manhattan, where the man she loved fell to his death in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Then, while caring for a fevered immigrant whose own loss mirrors hers, she becomes intrigued by a name embroidered onto the scarf he carries…and finds herself caught in a dilemma that compels her to confront the truth about the assumptions she’s made. Will what she learns devastate her or free her? 

September 2011. On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, widow Taryn Michaels has convinced herself that she is living fully, working in a charming specialty fabric store and raising her daughter alone. Then a long-lost photograph appears in a national magazine, and she is forced to relive the terrible day her husband died in the collapse of the World Trade Towers…the same day a stranger reached out and saved her. Will a chance reconnection and a century-old scarf open Taryn’s eyes to the larger forces at work in her life?

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A+ (Five Stars)

I didn’t plan to love this book, I was drawn to it because of the historical element, having had great grandparents who came over through Ellis, I found that interesting, and having been a young child when 9/11 happened, I’m always interested in the stories, real and fiction, which help me understand the event in new ways. 

I started reading, and I was just drawn in, I love historical books, include little to a lot of historical detail is something that really interests me because I have a very big interest in history, but as I was reading these two stories, intertwined by a scarf and two horrible events, I was at a loss, i just kept reading, I kept telling myself, I’d figure out how the scarf was related before the book told me, I tend to do that with some books, but I’m pleased to say I didn’t figure it out correctly, everything I guessed was wrong, and I enjoyed that. I enjoyed the not knowing, because it gave me a crazied urgency to finish the book and really find everything out. I also have to mention how beautiful the cover is, just a bit, because though as reviewers we’re supposed to look beyond the cover, I was drawn in by this. When I picked it up, I had a few other book choices sitting before me, but this one is the one I picked, and it’s partly because of this gorgeous cover.

Clara’s story was beautiful and heartbreaking. I thought she was so lovely in being such a typical female from the time, striking out on her own, but with a bit of naivety left in her. She’s beautiful written, and the character development we see from Clara is something I really appreciated. She’s been hiding out for so long on Ellis making work her life, to avoid living that it’s so inspirational when Clara really starts to live. She’s got so many dreams, and so much to look forward too, as you’re reading you want to shake her, and tell her to get out there and life. I loved the way her story wrapped up and how we saw it finally intertwine with Taryn’s story. It was amazing. She’s a strong woman, with a deep ability to love, and she’s proud of that. I really loved her story, and was so glad for her.

Taryn’s story was hard to read. It might be because 9/11 was so much more recent, or her personal struggles, but I was just so terribly sad when we got to the story of her relationship to 9/11. I thought of both stories, the author did the most beautiful job with this one, weaving it to include those parts we’d rather forget, but delicately in order to preserve the memory, and keep it fresh for the character. She really allowed the reader to feel for the character, and feel what the character was going through. She included you in those moments, and I don’t know about the other readers, but I felt breathless as she did. Her ending was perfect. I don’t think the author could’ve done a better job giving Taryn exactly what she needed. I cried, it was lovely.

Overall this is the book you need to pick up on your next shopping trip to the bookstore. You won’t regret it. Along with the beautiful imagery, the touching emotional situations, and the beautiful woven plot point of coincidence and how things are meant to be. I am still thinking about it after finishing this lovely book, and I urge you to go get yourself a copy, because you really need to experience Clara and Taryn’s stories for yourself, I promise you, they’ll stay with you!

About The Author:


Susan Meissner was born in San Diego, California, the second of three. She spent her childhood in just two houses.
Her first writings are a laughable collection of oddly worded poems and predictable stories she wrote when she was eight.

She attended Point Loma College in San Diego, and married her husband, Bob, who is now an associate pastor and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves, in 1980. When she is not working on a new novel, she is directing the small groups ministries at The Church at Rancho Bernardo. She also enjoy teaching workshops on writing and dream-following, spending time with my family, music, reading great books, and traveling.

Caged In Winter by Brighton Walsh #Cover #Reveal! This #book is going to #rock! @WriteAsRain_ and @BerkleyRomance

I’m so excited to be able to share with you guys the cover for “Caged In Winter by Brighton Walsh (What a cool name, right? Plus, she’s as pretty as her cover model *see below*)  I think this cover is so eye catching, and pretty, it’s on of those ones your eye goes right for when you see it at the store! Let me know what  you think in the comments!



Book Blurb:

            In this emotional and sexy New Adult debut from Brighton Walsh, the only thing more frightening than commitment is hope…

Aspiring chef Cade Maxwell is immediately, viscerally attracted to Winter Jacobson. But it’s not her mouthwatering curves he’s drawn to—it’s the strange emptiness in her eyes. When Cade saves her from a drunken customer with grabby hands, he’s shocked at her response…

Winter doesn’t need Cade’s help. After a lifetime of getting by on her own, she’s happy to rely on herself. She’s exactly seventy-six days away from graduating college, and if she can hold it together that long, she’ll finally be able to rise above the crappy hand she was dealt.

But now, every time she turns around, Cade is there, ready to push her, smile at her, distract her from her plans. Winter knows she can’t afford to open up—especially to a man she’s terrified to actually want.



Author Bio:

Brighton Author Photo_Color

Brighton Walsh spent nearly a decade as a professional photographer before deciding to take her storytelling in a different direction and reconnect with her first love: writing. When she’s not pounding away at the keyboard, she’s probably either reading or shopping—maybe even both at once. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children, and, yes, she considers forty degrees to be hoodie weather. Her home is the setting for frequent dance parties, Lego battles, and more laughter than she thought possible. Visit her online at

 Author Social Media Links:

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The Grove by Jean Johnson – Fantasy, Romance and good writing – Interview and Review! @BerkleyRomance @penguinusa @JeanJAuthor



Calm the magics caught in thrall:
Put your faith in strangers’ pleas,
Watcher, Witch, and treasure trove;
Ride the wave to calm the trees,
Servant saves the sacred grove.

At the behest of their leader, the Witches of Darkhana are mobilized. Their mission: gather the most honest, true servants of each deity so that they may respectfully represent their land at the reopening of the Convocation of Gods and Man. For Witch-Priest Aradin Teral, his part in the quest has taken him across the length and breadth of Katan, searching for the best possible representative of an empire bent on preventing that very task.

Ever since the destruction of the last Convocation, the magics of the Grove have been warped, endangering pilgrims and residents alike and requiring the guardianship of the strongest mage the priesthood can spare. Priestess Saleria is now the Keeper of the Grove, and Guardian of the Divine Garden. The arrival of a black-robed stranger bearing the faces of two men brings the promise of change, even peace, to the isolated valley. But it also ushers in an irresistible passion and a threat to Saleria’s control of the wildest magics in the woods..

 Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | Goodreads

Check out this amazing interview, with author Jean Johnson!

1. The Grove, is a hybrid of fantasy and romance, and a very well done one at that.. what do you think they key is to maintain a good balance from being an overly romance book or  being an overly fantasy book?

For me, the key is the fact I hate cheap painted dropcloth backgrounds—it’s good for village theater productions, yes, but if you’re trying to set a story in a realistic seeming universe, the universe has to seem realistic.  If I’m going to cross two genres, say fantasy with romance, it’s easy enough to build a romance story, but if I’m going to put in fantasy, the fantasy has to be integral to the storyline.  It has to be intrinsically consistent with itself and its own rules.  The magic has to work logically for its universe—in this one, it functions in a way similar to the water/rain cycle—and the fantastical elements have to affect the story somehow.  Whether it’s a magical doodad that starts malfunctioning, and thus causes problems for the romatic couple, or it’s a spell misfiring that turns the poor prince or princess into a frog or a newt, which their beloved has to somehow undo and restore them whole…it has to be a part of the story.  But if it’s a romance, then the romance has to be the main focus of that particular book.  Since I’m doing a series of several books, I can let the romances take center stage with each book, and bind them all together with a fantasy plot.  A romance, after all, can be set in a contemporary universe, an urban fantasy universe, a science fiction universe, a western, an historical, an alternate history…and still be a romance.  The rest of it is building the world and the environment and the challenges in a way that enriches the whole.

2. What’s one genre you love, but you don’t think you’d be the best at writing, and why?

I like young adult books and some children’s books—obviously I loved the Harry Potter books, since that led in a roundabout way to my getting noticed for publication—but I also know I suck at writing them.  I write for the people who have reached or passed the high school reading level—I was already reading at the college level in junior high—and YA fiction requires reducing the complexity of the language and the vocabulary.    Because I sorta shot past that whole stage in just a few years, I never thought to study how that kind of writing is put together, and thus learned how to write like that.  I admire those who can do it, and do so in a way that’s entertaining for adults as well as youth.

3.  What’s your writing music? Does it differ depending on the type of book you are writing?

My writing music definitely differs depending upon what sort of scene I’m writing.  I’ll listen to a lot of soundtracks, such as Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, a lot of Babylon 5, even things like the music from Assassin’s Creed…but for romantic or intimate moments, I might listen to “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers, or “Chocolate” by Nicki Minaj…or I’ll listen to heavy metal while writing hard action sequences.  There are certain kinds of music I do not like, of course; I loathe most country & western, I’m not too fond of the blues or rap—excepting Linkin Park and the occasional Beastie Boys song—and I can only tolerate jazz once in a while in a live concert.  But mostly I like having access to a wide variety from which I can select tunes that fit the scene’s mood.

4.  What are you favorite movies, and have they ever influenced your writing?

Creative storytelling doesn’t exist in a vacuum; we’re always influenced by the things we see and hear.  Sometimes it’s a direct inspiration, sometimes it’s indirect, a series of thoughts that have the author leapfrogging to a new concept or idea.  The movie “Aliens” for instance—I haven’t ever cribbed the exact scene where Ripley takes on the queen alien in a mechanized stevedore/forklift suit, but I and many other authors have used that concept of an exoskeleton powersuit…and I know I’m not the only one who has wanted to write in the sheer intensity of that moment when Ripley appears on-screen snapping,  “Get away from her, you B****!”  That moment, of enraged, kick-asteroid female, that’s definitely an inspiration.  I’ve watched and enjoyed all the Star Wars films—certain moments of “ugh, they did THAT?” aside—and I enjoy comedies as well as action movies like the Bourne trilogy.  Loved the Firefly movie “Serenity” and I’ve enjoyed a wide varity of what Pixar puts out.  Not everything, but most stuff.  It’s hard to pick out exact moments.  After seeing “Avatar” and having read an article on what the light & heat-radiation cycles would be for a tidally locked, planet-sized moon orbiting a gas giant, I do know I’d love to write up a story about a world like that some day, but it wouldn’t involve the “Avatar” movie’s  concepts of using bottle-grown hybrid alien bodies to interact with an alien race.

5.  The world in The Grove is so wonderfully detailed, how do you go about creating a world for your writing?

First, I try to figure out what sets this new universe apart from the world we live in, and all the other worlds out there.  Some unique twist or level of cultural advancement, so on and so forth.  Then I consider how the world works.  If there’s magic, where does magic come from, where does it go to, who can access it, so on and so forth.  I’ll think about how people get their food, and what sort of education system they have, or transportation modes.  I’ll try to think of the things the current generation takes for granted, based on the tech or magic involved.  Sometimes I’ll make a deliberate choice to exclude something, like leaving out artificial intelligences in my science fiction universe, but then I had to come up with a reason why humanity would stop pursuing that, which lead to coming up with the AI War—and similar wars would be a good reason why the other races stop pursuing AI tech.  Also, different regions will have different levels and kinds of advancement, much like our world today has the high-tech lifestyle of Seoul, Korea, or New York City, versus the nomadic herding lifestyle of the Masaai in Africa or the Mongols of Asia.

6. Heroine vs. Hero.. what’s your favorite to write and why?

That question is kind of like asking,  “What’s your favorite sweet treat or dessert?”  and having to choose between chocolate chip cookies, marshmallow treats, whipped-cream-frosted cake, and rich ice cream.  I like writing both heroes and heroines equally, and try to make my main characters interesting and compelling whatever the gender, but I’ll admit I write more heroines than heroes—not just in the published stories, but in the plot-bunnies cluttering up my harddrive.  Partly because I myself am female and it’s easier to write from the female perspective and mindset, but partly because there just aren’t enough female heroes running around in the entertainment industry, whether it’s in books, movies, television or whatever.  I’m a bit of a rabid equalist, so I guess I’m trying to make up for the deep lack of good female role models.  But that’s just what I tend to write; I wouldn’t say that’s a favorite, per se.  There’s also the level of primary hero/ine, and secondary—not necessarily a sidekick, but not the main character.  In my military scifi series, I like both Delia Helsted and Glenn Spyder equally, because they’re unique characters each in their own way.  Spyder has a horribly thick accent and talks like a street rat, but he has a brilliant tactical mind.  Helstead is kinda ADHD in a way, but she’s equally sharp-minded, and approaches most everything with a sense of humor.  It’s easier for me to pick out my favorite character, flat-out, than a preference for a gender.

7. Lastly, since it’s the holiday season, do you have a favorite holiday movie or book, or both?

Oh yes, absolutely.  “A Muppet Christmas Carol.”  Makes me sniffle and grin every time, I really love the design of the Ghost of Christmas Future, and the swirlie-portal they step through…and I love the line, “I am mortal, and liable to fall.”  I’ve even quoted that line a time or two in some of my stories, or some variant of it.  I also love the music, and the acting, and…  Just overall, it’s my favorite version of that holiday tale.  Plus so many quotable lines—“I know the story of A Christmas Carol like I know the back of my hand!”  “Prove it.”  “All right! Um, there’s a little mole on my thumb…”  and “Light the lamp, not the rat! Light the LAMP, not the RAT!”  I’d recommend it to just about anybody.  🙂  There are a few Christmas-themed short story romances (historicals) which I also like to reread once in a while at this time of year, but mostly it’s that movie.

(Good choice on Muppet Christmas Carol, it’s also one of my favorites, along with Polar Express!)


Grade: B+ (Four Stars)

This was a fun read. I really enjoyed the way the author mixed the fantasy with the romance, but kept both parts strong. She really did a wonderful job staying true to what really makes a fantasy novel. I’ve said before when mixing fantasy with another genre, true fantasy lovers will notice where a non-fantasy author would slack, but Johnson does a great job of living up to the fantasy title. She took a lot of time in her world building, and really fleshed everything out for us. I’m not saying the romance part of the book isn’t well done, it is, but the fantasy didn’t take a back burner to the romance. Bravo! I’ve seen a lot of other books try and fail this same mixture. I didn’t read The Tower first, so I figure you probably should, it’s got amazing reviews, and people are loving it, so if you loved this book, you’ll love the first one. Another wonderful thing I love about this book is the mythology built into it. There’s all kinds of characters and they all have such good back stories. Johnson really took her time with the series in order to really allow the reader to feel like they are in her world, and I completely did. I was walking around, going on adventures, solving problems, and generally loving this book. If  you love well written romance, that also supports an amazing fantasy story right along with it, you’ll truly want to check out the Guardians of Destiny series. Start with The Tower and move on to this wonderful book! This is one book I’ll be looking for this holiday season to add to my book shelf!

*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

About The Author:


Jean Johnson currently lives in the Pacific Northwest, has played in the SCA for 25 years, sings a lot, and argues with her cat about territorial rights to her office chair. She loves hearing from her readers, and has a distinct sense of humor. Right now she’s living in a home with zone heating & decent plumbing, but hopes to some day put turrets and ramparts on it so that it looks like a castle.