Friday, July 29, 2011

Free ebook: Griffin's Daughter

Griffin's Daughter (The Griffin's Daughter Series)

Leslie Ann Moore

No one of mixed-blood is ever truly accepted in Soldara, especially not a child conceived out of wedlock. Jelena’s mother died giving her life, and she has been raised by an uncle who treats her as little more than a servant. But there’s something more to Jelena that not even she knows about. In a desperate attempt to save her people, an ancestor of Jelena’s stole the power of The Nameless One and placed it where he could never reach it—a thousand years in the future, trapped within Jelena.

To try to understand her ability, Jelena sets off to find her father, her only clue an exquisite ring with the figure of a griffin. But Jelena’s power is not the only thing that has awoken. Deep beneath a mountain an ancient evil stirs, and as Jelena searches for answers, it starts searching for her.

Go HERE to grab your free copy while it lasts!!

Feature: The Superiors by Lena Hillbrand

As part of her promotional tour, Lena has provided three ebook copies of The Superiors for a little giveaway!  Details following the review...

The Superiors
By: Lena Hillbrand
ASIN:  B004ZGB2I4 
Published May 4, 2011 by Lena Hillbrand
Available Format: ebook

My Rating: ★★★★☆

The Superiors is not a gushy, young adult vampire novel.  Set in a future that is dominated by a hierarchy of vampires who raise humans as livestock, just as we humans raise cattle for beef, you’ll find no sparkly love interests and certainly no angsty love triangles.  As a matter of fact, you can forget about romance entirely.  This is a tale of a dark, dystopian future with little hope for the happiness of humankind.

Not all the vampires are heartless.  The main character, Draven Castle, is more than kind and considerate to the saps (humans) he feeds from, especially the intriguing Cali.  He risks a great deal to ensure her safety and eventually in pursuit of ownership, something uncommon for a lower class Superior such as himself.  How far will Castle go to satisfy his preference for Cali’s blood as well as his discontented position in life?

I admit, I found the beginning of this novel a bit stiff, which is why I knocked a star off the rating.  The Superiors speak and act very formally while most of the humans have a rather unrefined (dare I say, southern?) dialect and mannerisms.  To perhaps make this a positive, I think this possibly helps separate the two species even more, actually adding a little extra depth.  The further I got into my reading, the more the characters seemed to loosen up, and the more I reveled in the story.  Otherwise, however, I enjoy the concept.  It isn’t something I want to see come to pass, but the idea that these supernaturals rise in power and take over the world makes for a thought-provoking read. 

I love the dynamic between the characters, especially later in the story.  The vampires relate rather indifferently toward each other, which is understandable considering they basically have an eternity to spend together.  Any real connection is rare or short-lived, unlike human commitment.  It makes for a very interesting contrast with the humans in the story, especially the community type setup that is found in the human confinement camp. 

The ending of the The Superiors leaves you with a bit of a twist (I was beginning to suspect) and a hunger for the sequel to find out what the fate of our main characters will be.  I think it would be fantastic if Hillbrand would do something of a prequel and give a more detailed narration of the evolution and rise of the Superiors!

I definitely recommend this novel for mature readers who enjoy something a bit dark and different from your mainstream vamp story…

To learn more about Lena Hillbrand and her work:

This one is easy, breezy!  All you have to do is leave a comment below answering the following question:

If the world was taken over by vampires, would you rather be a Superior that was essentially immortal OR would you rather maintain humanity, content to suffer for a short time before moving into the afterlife?

The first three to comment will receive a free ebook of The Superiors!

But please, don't stop there!  Inquiring minds want to know... :-)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Free ebook: Five of USA's Best Trips

5 of USA's Best Trips

By:  Lonely Planet

Sample Lonely Planet’s TRIPS Series

Whether you’re a local looking for a long weekend escape, or a visitor looking to explore, Lonely Planet’s TRIPS series offers the best itineraries – and makes it easy to plan the perfect trip time and again.

Series Features:

Easy-to-use maps for every trip, plus driving times and directions
Explore the country with trips ranging from two days to two weeks
Theme icons make finding the perfect trip simple – no matter what your interest
Local experts share their favorite trip ideas
Tune in on the road with our regional music playlists
Family-friendly and pet-friendly listings throughout

Check out all the TRIPS guides in this series, available for Kindle:

Arizona, New Mexico & the Grand Canyon TRIPS
California TRIPS
The Carolinas, Georgia & The South TRIPS
New England TRIPS
New York, Washington DC & the Mid-Atlantic TRIPS
Pacific Northwest TRIPS

Travel America with Lonely Planet! Since 1984 Lonely Planet USA has published over 100 guides to America, working with over 200 American travel writers. For our TRIPS series our authors drove more than 150,000 miles, visited 378 diners, stopped at 1280 roadside attractions and rediscovered the country they love.

Go HERE to get your copy while it is still free!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


...Aubrey Laine!  

You are the winner of the 100 Follower Giveaway!!  

Thanks so much for being part of our family tree...  

Happy Reading!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Killers and Demons by A.F. Stewart

Bless A.F. Stewart for promoting short stories instead of a 600 page epic novel! :-)  I was able to recover from my screw-up quite quickly, thankfully...  

Yesterday, A.F. graced us with an interesting guest blog post about reader impressions/feedback.  You can check that out HERE in case you missed it!

Killers and Demons
By: A.F. Stewart
ISBN:  9781458165220
Published 2011 by Smashwords
Available Format: ebook

My Rating: ★★★★★

If you are all about sweet little love stories and happy endings, Killers and Demons is not for you.  But, if you want some gruesome, spine-chilling murders and merciless demons, search no further! 

Killers and Demons is a collection of five short stories about, you guessed it, twisted serial killers and disturbing demons.  From Valentine’s slayings to callous, deceptive, vindictive soul-hunters, A.F. Stewart gets it right!

I was absolutely hooked from page one.  Actually, make that the cover!  Right away, you know what this book is all about, and you know it is going to be remarkable.  Stewart has a fantastic writing style that gives the reader the haunting feel of the story immediately and portrays the terror of a full-length horror novel in just a few enthralling pages.  Her characters are spot on, from the abrupt and heartless murderers of “Devoid,” “You Got to have Heart,” and “London, 1888” (which reminded me very much of Sweeny Todd) to her humanized yet pitiless demons in “Victorian Shadows” and “Advent of Night” (the latter two being my favorites). 

I highly recommend this collection of stories as a quick and entertaining piece—for more mature readers!  You don't want to miss this little thrill ride...

A.F. Stewart's Website:


Killers and Demons Book Link:

Monday, July 25, 2011

Guest Blog: A.F. Stewart, author of Killers & Demons

Okay, I have to admit I have had a monumental mommy-brain moment!  For some reason I had Ms. Stewart's feature on my calendar for August instead of July, so with much embarrassment, I am trying to make up for my goof!!  A.F. has kindly provided us with a wonderful guest blog today, and I am furiously reading Killers & Demons to have a review ready for you all tomorrow!!  Stay tuned...

Guest Blog by A.F. Stewart, author of Killers & Demons

Readers and Writers

The aim of writing a book is to get people to read it.  Writers want people to be entranced with our efforts, and we love to hear what readers think about what we write.  I was no different, eagerly awaiting the insights from the purveyors of my prose.  And I was surprised by what they had to say.

Now don’t get me wrong, they weren’t spouting vitriol or scribbling bad reviews, quite the opposite, my books have been well received.   What surprised me was what they liked and the things that weren’t mentioned.

Some of my books have been the subject of online discussion groups, a back and forth with me, the author.  The chat about Chronicles of the Undead, my vampire horror novel, generated an interest in what happened to my character, Edmund, something unexpected for me, since this character gave me no end of trouble when I was writing him.  (I did know what happened to him though, so I could answer their questions).  And when I published Chronicles I thought I would get feedback regarding a pivotal and, I thought, rather controversial death, but it barely made a ripple with readers.

Another book where I got surprising comments was Passing Fancies, one of my short story collections.  A story from the book, Love is Murder, seemed to be a favourite, where I thought it was one of my weaker efforts.  And the story I loved, Conversation in the Country Club hardly got a mention.  With my latest story collection, Killers and Demons, it’s the tale, Victorian Shadows, which has sparked the fancy of readers, with the plucky heroine Sally, holding her own against the nasty and charismatic villain Balthazar, who was my favourite.

It just goes to show that no matter the vision of the author a reader will find their own interpretation and enjoyment from the story.  And that’s the most wonderful thing about being a writer.

Author Bio:
A. F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada, and still calls it home.  She has always had an overly creative mind, and an active imagination.   She is fond of good books (especially science fiction/fantasy), action movies, and oil painting as a hobby.

Ms. Stewart has been writing for several years, her main focus being in the fantasy genre.  She also has a great interest in history and mythology, often working those themes into her books and stories.  She has authored and published several books, including Killers and Demons, Chronicles of the Undead, Shadows of Poetry, Passing Fancies and Once Upon a Dark and Eerie...



Killers and Demons Book Link:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Love Begins in Winter

Love Begins in Winter
By: Simon Van Booy
ISBN:  9780061661471
Published May 5, 2009 by Harper Perennial
Available Format:  Paperback, ebook

My Rating:  ★★★★☆

On the verge of giving up anchored to dreams that never came true and to people who have long since disappeared from their lives Van Booy's characters walk the streets of these stark and beautiful stories until chance meetings with strangers force them to face responsibility for lives they thought had continued on without them.

I was introduced to Simon Van Booy’s work through a fellow blogger, and I purchased this collection of stories with high expectations.  I also have a copy of Everything Beautiful Began After waiting for me to dive into, and I am certainly looking forward to that even more after this reading!

Simon has an elegantly smooth, lyrical style.  The flow of his stories seems to follow the characters’/narrator’s thoughts, and thoughts don’t always run in a chronological or even logical pattern.  I can see how some readers will adore this while others may find it a bit disconcerting.  There are also some moments where the feel seems to stiffen a bit, perhaps like the author was trying a little too hard or maybe was just a teensy bit too sure of himself.  Overall, however, I found his work beautiful, pleasing, and sophisticated.

I highlighted several passages in this book, a few of which I am including here.  There is no doubt Van Booy certainly has a stunning way with words.

“Music helps us understand where we have come from but, more importantly, what has happened to us...inside each note is the love we are unable to express with words.” 
“Greif is a country where it rains and rains but nothing grows.  The dead live somewhere else—wearing the clothes we remember them in.”
“Another way to punish myself, to look behind for someone I feel but cannot see.”
“If there is such a thing as marriage, it takes place long before the ceremony:  in a car on the way to the airport; or as a gray bedroom fills with dawn, one lover watching the other; or as two strangers stand together in the rain with no bus in sight, arms weighed down with shopping bags.  You don’t know then.  But later you realize—that was the moment.” 
“It ends quickly so that we value it…”

Charley Harper Book of Colors

By:  Charley Harper
ISBN:  9781934429549
Published June 1, 2011 by Ammo Books LLC
Available Format:  board book

My Rating:  ★★★★★

CHARLEY HARPER COLORS is the same size and format as the CHARLEY HARPER ABCs and 123s, making them a perfect trio. This book illustrates the names of colors as they apply to animals and nature, such as red ladybugs, blue birds, and green forests.
Pre-schoolers will have fun identifying the colors and animals in Charley Harper's whimsical and colorful world of illustrations.

I received a copy of Colors from netGalley for review.

My three-year-old daughter and I read this one together.  She is just learning to read and mastering all the different colors.  The illustrations are vibrant and very visually pleasing.  I love how the text is in the color as well, to help the child recognize the color name.  The prose is easy for a beginning reader with a few more challenging words tossed in to help build vocabulary.  My daughter wanted to read it over and over again!

I definitely recommend this one for toddler/preschool readers!

Another Giveaway by a Fellow Blogger...

A fellow blogger is hosting a giveaway for a $10 B&N Gift Card!  All you have to do is 'like' her Facebook page!  Please let her know Gathering Leaves referred you...

If you haven't already 'liked' MY Facebook page, please do!!! ;-)


Get a Friend to “Like” Nerd Light Books and Could Win a $10 Barnes and Noble Gift Card!

                One year ago I created Nerd Light Books and published my first book review.  Since that time I have written over 40 reviews!  I’m growing both as a reader and a writer.  And I am so incredibly grateful to have an audience with whom I can share my passion for literature.
                To celebrate Nerd Light’s first birthday I am having a raffle for new “fans” and the people who refer them.  Right now most of the people who have “liked” Nerd Light’s Facebook page are people that I know.  I’d love to branch out and interact with more readers. 
                Help me out on my quest for new fans, and you will be entered in the raffle for a $10 Barnes and Noble Gift Card
There are two ways to enter:
                1. If you have not already “liked”, go there, click “like”, and PRESTO!  You are entered in the raffle!
                2. If you have already “liked”, then suggest the page to a friend who loves reading.  If they “like” the page, VOILA!  You are entered in the raffle!  Of course you or your friend will need to let me know you were the one that referred them.   Have your friend post on my wall, “Hi! My friend _______ suggested your page to me!  Can’t wait to talk about some great books!” (or something like that).  Or you can just send me an email and say, “Hey!  You know ______, that just liked your page?  I suggested the page to him/her!”  Your friend will be entered in the raffle too for being a new fan.
                Suggest the page to as many readers as you want!  The more people I can reach, the more grateful I’ll be!  You can even cut and paste this note and send it to your reader friends.
                Here’s the fine print:  The maximum number of times any one person will be entered in the raffle is five.  Only fans that are listed as people who “like” on August 1, 2011 will be eligible to win.  (People who “unlike” the page before then will not be eligible to win.)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Check out this Awesome Giveaway!!!

To launch her thriller, Bloodletter, and YA fantasy, Legacies of Talimura: War of the Witch, Angel Haze has put together an international blog hop with seven authors.
This International Blog Hop started July 1st and runs for 30 days. There are well over 50 books to giveaway (mostly ebooks but some paperbacks as well) so there are lots of chances to win!
Participating Authors:
Angel Haze
Jeffrey Martin
Lindsay Buroker
Reena Jacobs
C.A. Kunz
Lenore Wolfe
Katie M. John
Haresh Daswani


Get over there and enter for your chance to win!!!

FEATURE: Interview with Die Laughing author, Louis K. Lowy

When Louis K. Lowy contacted me about reviewing his new 1950s inspired sci-fi novel, Die Laughing, I had to let him know beforehand it was pretty much unlike anything I had ever read before.  I am certainly glad I gave it a try.  It was so much fun!  
Today, Mr. Lowy is visiting us for a little Q&A.  So don't be a wet rag and split.  Hang and see what's buzzin', cuzzin'...  (That was my sad attempt at 50s lingo ;-))... 

If you missed my review of Die Laughing, you can check that out HERE.

Author Interview
Die Laughing
By: Louis K. Lowy

GL: Everyone has to start with their blurb.  Tell us about yourself. 

Louis:  I was born in Pittsburgh and moved with my parents to south Florida when I was five. I grew up in Hialeah (home of the racetrack) where I worked as a firefighter. I also played bass guitar in many bands, mostly original music. My most well known band was Hemlock which had the dance hit “Disco Break.” I currently live in Miami Lakes (still south Florida) with my wife and daughter. Our son is studying Asian literature in Japan and our daughter attends a local college.

GL:  You have certainly had a well-rounded, interesting life so far!  I had to look up "Disco Break" and found a video.  Groovy bell-bottoms guys (and awesome bass around 2:35)! ;-)  I have a feeling this one is going to be stuck in my head for a while...

GL:  Another staple:  When and why did you begin writing? 

Louis:  I’ve always had a flair for words. In the bands I played in I wrote most of the lyrics. About four years ago I started drifting away from the music scene mainly because good bands by nature are volatile. It was starting to take its toll. As I became less interested in playing in bands I became more interested in writing. I enrolled in a couple of undergrad writing courses, applied for the MFA program at Florida International University, and was fortunate enough to be accepted. That pretty much set me on my course.

GL:  Die Laughing is such an entertaining read. Can you tell us what inspired this story? 

Louis:  One of my main inspirations was my love of 1950’s sci-fi and horror films. Growing up I enjoyed the really horrendous ones like I Was a Teenage Frankenstein as much as the really terrific ones like War of the Worlds. I also thought the 1950’s was an exciting period: the McCarthy communist witch hunts were going on, people were in fear of the atom bomb, racial equality was starting to come to the forefront with the Little Rock High School confrontation, and of course television and Elvis Presley and rock ‘n roll were being born. I wanted to recreate that atmosphere.

GL:  You did a great job!  I felt like I got a quick but thorough and extremely entertaining lesson in 1950s pop-history!

GL:  Who designed the cover? Any particular inspiration behind that? (A certain movie poster, etc.) 

Luois:  The cover concept came about, again, due to my fondness of the sci-fi and horror movies from the 50’s. I’ve collected some of the posters from that era. They’re hanging on the wall of my writing room. Most of the posters depict a do-or-die moment. The invaders are taking over the world; total chaos abounds, cities crumbling to the ground. I wanted that feel for the cover of Die Laughing. I had in my head a vision of the three protagonists being the final line of defense as flying saucers destroy New York City. My publisher, IFWG, hired a wonderful illustrator named Laura Givens. I gave her a mock up and some character descriptions and she ran with the idea. I loved what she did with it.

GL:  I would guess that you are more like Lee since he is the writer, but which character do you think you relate to the most? 

Louis:  Great question! Sam is outgoing but shallow and insecure, Lee is intelligent but distrusting and lonely, and Cricket is beautiful and tough but lonely. Each one of them is forced to face their demons in the course of the story which, for me, has always been the heart of the book. Actually I think there’s a little of each of them in me.

GL:  Are any of your characters (aside from the famous people the aliens copy) based on real people? 

Louis:  The characters aren’t so much based on real people, but many of the names are. I have many people in my life who are dear to me. As a tribute I slip their names in whenever I can. For instance there are two characters, Dick and Lois, who work at a café. My parent’s names are Dick and Lois.

GL:  That's so sweet!  I do the same when I can.

GL:  Sam E. Lakeside is a stand-up comic with an arsenal of great material. Where did you get all the jokes? Are you a bit of a comedian yourself? 

Louis:  The quips I mainly made up, but the jokes with punch lines were mostly reworked from joke books. The difficult part was taking them and reformatting them to fit the scenes I was writing. The other stipulation I had before using a joke was to make sure that it had been around awhile and was one that wasn’t credited to anyone. In other words, it would have been available for Sam to do the same thing that I did, take it and make it his own.

GL:  Is there anything that you really wanted to include in Die Laughing but had to cut because it just wasn’t working? 

Louis:  Yes. A couple of scenes. In one Cricket is poisoned. In another Sam, Cricket and Lee go to Greenwich Village and spend the night in the apartment of a stewardess who Sam meets. They visit a club and watch Charlie Mingus play (and it was the only time I included a character based on a real person that I knew, a man they meet at the club) but in the end neither propelled the story forward so I cut them. Who knows, maybe in a future edition I’ll add them as bonus “deleted scenes.”

GL:  Who was an essential source of support during the writing process? 

Louis:  I belong to Friday Night Writers, a writing workshop group headed by the highly regarded author John Dufresne.  The group and John himself were great support. My family, of course, for giving me the freedom to hole myself up for several hours a day to write. There are specific names, which I included on the acknowledge page.

GL:  If you had to pick one thing, what is your favorite aspect of the 1950s? 

Louis:  The birth of rock and roll.

GL:  Amen!

GL:  The character Cricket covets a green Thunderbird.  What car (from the 50s or anytime) do you like/want the most? 

Louis:  Wow, any car in the world? The Aston Martin DB5 that was used in the James Bond films.

GL:  Do you believe there is life on other planets? UFOs? Alien abduction? 

Louis:  Yes, I believe in life on other planets. The universe is too big not to have it. UFOs and abductions? As Fox Mulder says, “I want to believe.”

GL:  Since oil is an essential part of your story in Die Laughing, what is your opinion about the oil industry today? 

Louis:  The oil companies are rich and powerful. That, by itself, creates conflicts, and conflict is drama. Lot’s of drama when it comes to oil companies.

GL:  If someone approached you about making a movie or television show based on Die Laughing, would you consent?  Anyone in particular you would like to cast as Sam E.? 

Louis:  To answer the first part of your question – in a heartbeat! I’d love to see John Hamm, the star of Madmen, as Sam.

GL:  Are you working on anything new? Any plans for future work? 

Louis:  I’ve finished the third draft of my second novel. It’s a complete turnaround from Die Laughing. The working title is Pedal. It’s about a 49 year old fired music teacher who struggles to find redemption through bicycle racing. I’m currently working on another sci-fi story that jumps between time, location, and characters. It’s still pretty messy. Eventually I’d like to write a sequel to Die Laughing.

GL:  Both works in progress sound wonderful.  And, I can't wait for a sequel to Die Laughing!

GL:  Do you have any parting words of wisdom or anything else you would like to share with the readers? 

Louis:  If you’re a writer I’d like to say work hard, be sure and submit your work, believe in yourself and have a thick skin. If you’re a reader I’d like to say thank you for being one! And thank you, Cassie, for inviting me over to Gathering Leaves.

GL:  You're so very welcome, Louis!  Thanks so much for hanging out with us...

Die Laughing is currently available for Kindle on Amazon. Nook and PDF formats will soon be available. It will be published in paperback August 2011.

If you'd like to know more about Louis, Die Laughing, or his other work, you can visit his website: