Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Book Review -- The Music Book by Dave O’Leary

A digital copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

When I talk about a book, I do not usually start with my experiences as a reader. I prefer giving my take on what the book is about, before going on to what I felt about it. But in this case, the experience of reading the book got me so intricately entangled with my own thoughts and retrospections, that I cannot follow a specific structure or pattern in my review. This is an all-out powerful book - one of introspections and reminiscences. Rob, the protagonist is an erst-while musician who take music critiquing for a living. Through Rob's eyes, author explores all sentiments of one looking back over the roads that have been crossed. It's mighty hard to categorise this book as music-based, primarily because it is so much more than that! Music is just the premise and platform that the author has chosen to look at an entire life's journey conceived by existentialism. The book touches one's soul many a time, and it is very hard not to empathise with the protagonist's longing for what once was and what could have been. That said, this book is in no way a melancholic take on life - in fact it is everything but that. It reinforces that one is not far from finding one's haven if one knows what to look for and where to look for it. And yes, the cat - if one is lucky enough! I particularly loved the use of the cat as the surprise companion Rob finds - where the author has used the cat as a wonderful abstraction figure to visualise Rob's companionship.

I was pretty impressed with the deep research that had gone into the making of the book. The author not only knows his way around Seattle's music circles, but is also adept at analysing the bands of the time, replete with their music and his inferences from those. Being someone who has never visited Seattle in her life, this book was a revelation, and I was left stunned at how much the author has taken in of the city, and how beautifully he has articulated all about it. One can't help wanting to read up all about the bands mentioned and look up the places that figure in the book - such is the compelling flavour that the book adds to the tale.

O'Leary is certainly a master of narration - his prose blends so tastefully into poetic recounts at many places, and yet this book gives no impression of being reserved for those with eclectic tastes. The language is a pleasure to read, and the book is hard to put down (I finished it one go, since the moment I started). This is definitely a must-read and I highly recommend it.

My rating for the book: 5 stars

Review links

Book Review -- Neverland Academy by Daelynn Quinn

A digital copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

This coming-of-age story revolves is inspired from the ever-enjoyable classic, Peter Pan, and around 17-year-old Daphne Werring. Daphne is quirky and is at a critical point in her life. Her world comes crumbling down, when she not only gets grounded for a month by her parents for car theft and sneaking out, but also gets dumped by her bou friend. To top it all, she is moved away from Atlanta, the place she has known all along, to Georgia, which, with its rural lands and woods, appears as bleak to Daphne as anything possibly could. When on tour at the Neverland Academy, an all-boys school, where her brothers get sent to, she comes across the headmaster, Byron Trappe, who doesn't seem to Daphne to be giving good vibes. She happens to meet the fascinating Finn by chance at the school library window and she discovers a lot more about the academy with the help of Finn and his pals, who are all academy outcasts. Ostracised by their parents and the academy, these boys live a secret life that proves intriguing and alluring to Daphne, who joins them in many adventures, uncovering many dark secrets of the academy. All goes well until Daphne realises she is falling for the elusive Finn. Does Daphne's love for Finn succeed, or does she suffer a heartbreak, is what the book ends with.

The plot is full of potential, and although the book pace slackens a bit, the plot hold's the reader's attention. The characters are well-etched. Daphne, with her inner conflicts and teenage struggles and Finn, the boy who prefers being a child as opposed to growing up, complement each other well. The expressions are typical of characters of that age, and there is nothing heavy or bombastic about the vocabulary, which is an advantage to the book.

My rating for this book: 4 stars

Review links

R.C. Bean’s Bookshelf

R.C. Bean on Amazon


The Progeny by Ashlynne Laynne -- Character Interview with Ascher Rousseau

His arms filled with a large cardboard box, Ascher Rousseau strolls into the SimpliRead Readers Lounge. He hands RC Bean the box, and then slips his dark aviator sunglasses off, revealing intense, blue eyes that focus in on her. “This is for you. I read somewhere that you like Toblerone chocolate. My wife is a chocoholic.”

“Wow.” RC beams. “That was really thoughtful of you. Thanks for the gift, and thank you for coming, Ascher.” She motions toward a plush leather sofa. “Please, have a seat.”

RC taps on the screen of her tablet. “Thank you for agreeing to the interview.”

Ascher flashes a smile, sweeping the long, black hair from his pale face. “It’s an honor to be here. I was very excited when Ashlynne informed me that you wanted an interview for your SimpliRead blog. This is my first solo interview, so I’m a bit nervous. I usually do these with my wife, Shauna, but she’s home at Promesse, recovering from the birth of our first child. It was a difficult delivery and it has left her somewhat weakened.”

“I’m sorry to hear that she isn’t well.”

He again runs a hand through his straight raven locks, exposing several streaks of gray underneath. “No need for concern. My wife is tough. She’s on the mend and getting stronger every day. Now, let’s get to these questions. Just ask away—anything you’d like to know. Anything at all.”
What is your idea of perfect happiness?                                                       

“Wow, R.C. You just get right to the point, don’t you?” He grins, then sighs. “If I’m going to be completely honest, I don’t think I was ever really happy before I met Shauna. I mean, I existed. I did the day to day things that were expected of me. Being half human and half vampire in a home filled with full-blooded vampires was hard. I never really felt like I belonged in either world. To complicate things even more, I was engaged to seal to a vampire named Ursula, whom I didn’t love at all. I went through the motions with her because I believed she was my destiny.” He pauses in contemplation, before speaking again. “Yes, perfect happiness was only a possibility after I met my wife. She was like this illumination that lit up my dark soul and stoked this passion inside that altered my existence forever. With her, came the prospect of unconditional love. A future. Children.” His face flushes, taking on a boyish smile that conveys shyness. “Perfect happiness, for me, is an eternity spent with my wife and vampire family, Shauna and I watching our children grow and develop their gifts.”

What is your greatest fear?

Ascher’s stare cools to an icy blue.

“If you’d asked me this before the baby was born, I would’ve told you losing Shauna. Now that I’m a father, my greatest fear is, undoubtedly, losing my family. Because of this fear, I can be a bit overbearing at times. I think that drives Shauna crazy because she’s so independent and doesn’t like for me to hover. That is actually something I’m working on, attempting to balance my need to protect her with her need for independence.”

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

“I think I kinda touched on it in the previous question. I’m, admittedly, obsessive about Shauna’s safety, even though she is perfectly capable of protecting herself now. My wife is strong in her gifts, but that doesn’t stop me from worrying. I’m mighty afraid that this compulsion to protect my loved ones has only worsened since the birth.”

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

“Closed-mindedness. My father raised us to be accepting of everyone and to joy in people’s differences. Being raised to follow the covenants, I always believed that vampires and Wiccans didn’t mix. This caused me a lot of heartache when I met my Wiccan wife. I fought what I felt for her because I took the covenants’ laws very seriously. They are as close to a religion as most vampires get. I will raise my children, as I was raised, to judge others on the weight of their character.”

Which living person do you most admire?

“Growing up, I really admired my big brother Gabe. My father went into a decade-long depression after my human mother passed away after my birth. Gabe stepped in and became a pseudo parent of sorts. I’m not sure where I’d be if not for him.”

What is your greatest extravagance?

My family is extremely wealthy. I mean—come on—we’re vampires and some of us are multiple of centuries old. I, myself, am a billionaire several times over. Before Shauna, the money didn’t mean much to me. It just sat in accounts drawing interest. My wife was raised without much money, so I take every opportunity to spoil her rotten. We have a home in Saint-Tropez, a penthouse suite above one of the most popular hotels in New York, and we just built our dream home on the grounds of my family’s vineyard. For me, extravagance means the ability to give my wife anything her heart desires.”

What is your current state of mind?

“I’m a bit anxious at the moment. I’m a first-time dad who has absolutely no clue what he’s doing. Loving a child is the easy part. For me, protecting my children from the evil intent on claiming them is a whole other story. You see, my wife has this ancient demon who wants her to join him and rain havoc upon the Earth. And while I love her, she has a temper that has only gotten worse with her turning. There are times when I am afraid that she’ll choose to leave me and follow the cloaked one. I’m not sure what I’ll do if that happens.”

What do you consider to be the most overrated virtue amongst humans?

Being half human, I’ve spent my entire life observing them to understand that part of myself. The thing that always angers me about humanity is the fickleness. They fall in and out of love so easily and most times for the wrong reasons. People take vows of forever that often are discarded when the next best thing comes along. Physical attributes change and bodies decay over time. The real person is always on the inside. And while Shauna is a gorgeous shell, she is luminous on the inside. I fell in love with that deep and caring soul.”

On what occasion do you lie?

“I endeavor to be honest in all phases of my life, but I lie every day. I pretend to be human when I’m anything but. I lied to my wife when we met, keeping the fact that I was a vampire from her. My lies are usually secrets that I keep from those I love, in the hopes of protecting them. That never ends well.”

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

“It’s funny you asking me that. As a half-blooded vampire, I go through these occurrences called hemoglobin dysplasia. During these episodes, my blood volume shifts and I’m more human than vampire. The hormonal changes usually cause my hair to grow at unprecedented rates. The few times this has happened, I usually shave and cut my hair. During Shauna’s pregnancy, I suffered a trauma that caused my system to go haywire. When it was all over, I had grown three inches, gained thirty pounds, and my hair was more than twice its original length and streaked with gray.”

Ascher shifts in his chair uncomfortably and sweeps his hands through the silky mane of black locks.

“I don’t mind the extra height and weight. When I was 6 foot 1, I was the shortest of my brothers. Now at 6 foot 4 and 213 pounds, I am of considerable size. It’s been an adjustment, learning to function in this new body, but I’m finally getting the hang of it. But this gray is a different story.”

His eyes go heavenward, bringing attention to the dark strands accented with white.

“I do not like being gray. I love looking older, but I never imagined myself ever graying. I’m immortal. Ageless appearances are part of immortality. It’s something small, I know, but it still bothers me.”

Ascher stands and stretches his arms above his head, then gives his interviewer an inquisitive stare. “If that’s all of the questions you have for me, I’ll be going. I’m pretty anxious to get back home to my family. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you today, R.C. I hope your readers enjoy the interview.” He offers her his hand for another shake before leaving.

The Progeny by Ashlynne Laynne

Title: The Progeny (The Progeny Series #1)
Author: Ashlynne Laynne
Genre: Paranormal Romance
THE PROGENY (The Progeny Series #1)
“No fate other than the one I choose.”                        

The timeless creed and tattoo bore by the Rousseaus— a vampire clan with the purest bloodline of any vampire family. Out of this clandestine group came one who was different, yet the same: Ascher, a half-bloodling— half- human, half vampire.
Ascher questions the purpose for his existence and which world he truly belongs to: the human world or the vampire world. Two months from sealing to Ursula—a prearranged union to a woman he abhors —he’s at his wit’s end. He knows if he calls off the sealing, the Romanian clan will strike with deadly force, but he cannot see eternity with a cold empty shell of a woman like Ursula.
Just when he thought life was complicated enough, he meets Shauna—a beautiful, bi-racial human Wiccan—and immediately develops an unshakable attraction to her. She makes him feel alive and vital despite his origins and Ascher makes a decision that turns his immortal world upside down.

Character Interview with Ascher Rousseau  

Book Excerpt

Ascher gently twinned their hands, clasping their fingers together while burying his head in the pillow to escape the desire to bite her. With each thrust, she groaned and dug her nails into his palms. His body hyperaware of her every breath and heartbeat, he stroked her softly, gently, his hips swiveling in the slowest circular motion. After several gentle thrusts, he finally broke through her virgin’s barrier. The urge to bite her resurfaced as the smell of her lost innocence smacked him in the face. Damn it to hell.
“I can’t get close enough,” he whispered into her ear, wanting to climb inside of her and lose himself forever.
She rocked up to him at the precise moment he gave her a gentle thrust. “I want to be closer, too.”
Pleasurable waves sped up his spine, resulting in pleasurable grunts. After the desire to bite her passed, he lifted his head from the pillow. The love in her dark eyes flashed a blinding light back at him. He never would have imagined that he could love someone so much. Nor could he imagine that she would so easily adapt to his reddened glare. She stared into his eyes with the same blind love that she always had.
An internal struggle began.
The gratifying sensations filling his body felt too good, and a swift urge to bite her gripped him as he remembered the deliciousness of her blood. Rivulets of sweat saturated his forehead as the fangs burst through his gums, demanding a blood sacrifice for their efforts. Be gentle. Be gentle. Don’t hurt her. He threw his head back into the pillow to hide from the hypnotic pulse of her carotid. A low growl escaped his clenched teeth. He wouldn’t hurt her and he didn’t care how much it pained him to abstain.

Ashlynne Layne is an award winning songwriter, poet, and author of erotic paranormal and contemporary romance. She’s always had a soft spot in her heart for vampires but grew tired of the garlic fearing, sun-loathing night stalkers of old. An avid horror movie fan, she tends to enjoy media and music of a younger, more eclectic nature. This was the catalyst for her writing The Progeny.
Ashlynne loves writing on the edge—combining the erotica and romance genres—and thinks of Ascher and Shauna as the wicked, damned version of Romeo and Juliet. She is currently working on books six and seven of her Progeny Series, book one of her upcoming Alterity Series, and a novella spin off. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, reading, and spending time with her family. She juggles the hats of wife, mother, full time employee and part-time writer, hoping to write exclusively one day soon.

She lives in the Carolinas with her husband and son.                         

More about Ashlynne
Zodiac: Leo               
Favorite Music Genres: Alt Rock, 90’s Grunge, Pop
Favorite Musical Acts: Maroon 5, Rihanna, Lil Wayne, Bruno Mars, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Imagine Dragons, Florida Georgia Line, Adele, Rob Zombie, Robin Thicke, Kings of Leon, Coldplay, Drake, Justin Timberlake
Favorite Movie Genre: Horror
Favorite Color: Pink
Favorite Authors: Stephen King, Anne Rice
Foods: Yogurt, Chocolate Milk, Chicken Alfredo

About The Progeny Series

At its core, The Progeny Series is simply about a man and woman who fall in love. The fact that he’s a half-blood (half-human, half vampire) and she’s a Wiccan human are secondary factors. This series encompasses a family dynamic of which we’ve never seen.
The Rousseaus share a common mortal and immortal bloodline, but loyalty is the thread binding this vampire clan. Shauna and Ascher’s dissuaded love only strengthens the family bonds. Their unique union transcends bloodlines and completes the prophecy, defying the beliefs of centuries old covenants while shattering the wall between the Wiccan and vampire worlds that have existed for ages.

This series is erotic paranormal romance intended for adults and contains strong sexual content, adult sensuality, language and themes.

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