Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Holding on to Heaven

Holding on to Heaven
By:  Keta Diablo
ISBN:  2940011264900
Published January 30, 2012
Available Format:  ebook

My Rating:  ★★★★★

Holding on to Heaven takes the reader back to the time just before the Civil War breaks out in the United States, when the Midwest was still "uncivilized" and the American Indians were being forced farther and farther out of their homelands. Lauren is a spitfire young woman from the south who travels to visit her aunt and uncle in Minnesota. Love finds her there, but it is far more complicated than boy meets girl. Pregnant with one man's child, she consents to marry his brother. One leaves for war; the other goes missing during an Indian skirmish. That's just the beginning of the turmoil that Lauren must face. Soon, her path will cross that of her twin sister that she did not even know was alive. Sage's life was very different from Lauren's, but she has her own burdens to bear, and she must somehow bring a new strength and love into Lauren's life just when she will need it the most.

There was a time that I would have said, "I don't read erotic fiction." I still might wade in with a little trepidation, but I think Holding on to Heaven was so far from what I imagine erotic fiction to be. Honestly, I wouldn't even label it erotic—just historical romance. There is such a well-written plot, a true deep story, within this novel. There is sex, there is romance, but it isn't the focus of the story at all. 

Keta does an amazing job developing the characters, introducing us to each of their storylines and then weaving all of those lines together in interesting and profound ways.  It is so much more than your run-of-the-mill love triangle. There is so much more complexity involved. Then, add in the fact that these sisters are about run across each other again after all these years, not knowing the other even existed. It is such a fantastic story!

I was honored to help Keta with preparing the manuscript prior to publication, and I have to say that sometimes it was difficult to do my job because I was so engrossed in what was happening!  I became completely emotionally invested in the lives of each of the characters. I cannot tell you how many times I started crying. I absolutely cannot wait to see where the story goes from here. 

Find Keta on her blog:  http://ketaskeep.blogspot.com
Buy Holding on to Heaven:  http://amzn.to/Ad5tnz

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pazuzu's Girl by Rachel Coles

Pazuzu's Girl
By: Rachel Coles
ISBN:  9781936564361
Expected Publication:  February 10, 2012 by JournalStone
Available format:  Hardcover, paperback, ebook

My Rating: ★★★★★

Publisher's Synopsis:  Morpho Wilson thought her life was difficult enough. Her father is Pazuzu, the Mesopotamian demon of plague and the Southwest wind. As a teenager Morpho struggles against her father, while trying to adjust to high school in a new neighborhood. The family is constantly moving in an attempt to elude Pazuzu’s murderous ex-wife, a demoness known for killing children.

Then something unique happens. A socially-impaired classmate becomes so intrigued by Morpho that he pursues her, despite the mystery surrounding her family and the danger that accompanies it.

But before their romance can grow the demoness tracks Morpho down, and now only needs an ancient artifact called the Tablet of Destiny to complete the destruction of the world. The tablet confers on its owner the ability to control the fate of everything and everyone on earth.

Once the tablet is discovered in the Middle East, the oldest and most powerful gods begin a battle for its possession, with the human population caught in the middle. Morpho, her family, and her new friend must decide, do they escape from the horrifying demoness or fight for their own destiny. How far will Pazuzu go to save his daughter from a hellish fate? Will his banishment from Heaven so many millennia ago end up being a curse...or a blessing?

I love working with JournalStone because I have been fortunate enough to get an early look at so many amazing novels. Pazuzu's Girl is definitely in those ranks!  It has such an interesting, unique plot and is so well written. I continue to be impressed by the caliber of writers who are being discovered or re-discovered by this company.

One thing that always snags me is when the seemingly bad characters, Pazuzu in this case, turn out to really be the good guys. Pazuzu is almost like any other normal, single father, trying to raise his rebellious teenage daughter right. Sure, he can dissipate into a swarm of locusts, and he's been known to spread a plague or two. A guy has to make a living, right? Deep down, Pazuzu has real heart, and the author does such an amazing job developing his character, keeping in his scary side and melding it with his humanity. We all have a scary side; admit it.

Another great thing about this novel is Morpho's character. We get to see her grow and come into herself, much like the butterfly she is named after.  We get to see her in the normal, angsty teenage life of an outcast. Our heartstrings are tugged as she finds love, and then we are crushed when her whole world comes apart around her. Morpho is able to find her strength, cling to her morality, and stand up to the evil that plagues her life and the world as a whole. 

There are so many familiar yet revamped ideas included in this novel along with a lot of great, new ideas. I love anything that has to do with gods and goddesses. Heck, you might even find a zombie or two in this one as well—or are those ghosts??  Hmmm…guess you'll have to read to find out!

Monday, January 23, 2012

GIR Blog Hop: Interview with Kiwi from Kiwi in Cat City by Vickie Johnstone!!

I have such a special treat for you all today.  You should know by now how much of a Kiwi fan I am based on my ramblings about Kiwi in Cat City as well as Kiwi and the Missing Magic.  I also previously interviewed author Vickie Johnstone.  

Today, I have non other than Ms. Kiwi herself as my super special guest!  Kiwi has graciously stopped by for a visit as part of the Great Indie Reads Blog Hop.

See details following the interview to get your name in the pot for your very own taste of Kiwi!

Character Interview
Kiwi of Kiwi in Cat City
By Vickie Johnstone

GL:  Please tell us a little about yourself.

Kiwi:  Well I’m just a cat. I’m about 4. I’m a bit small, black, fluffy and I’m not sure if I’m cute or not – that’s up to other cats to decide though Georgie is always buying me Mrs Ebenry’s special delights and winking at me. I live with Amy and James and their parents in the human world. But, at night time I like to visit my other home, Cat City, where I either spend time at the Cat Motel or at my mother Moggie’s place. But I like my independence! 

My best friends are Amy, James, Inspector Furrball and Kip. Siam is cool too. If I tell you a secret, do you promise not to tell, because otherwise everyone will want to meet me?! The secret is, I’m magical. You might notice a faint purple glow to my fur and eyes – look closely or you might miss it – that’s my magic glowing. I could take you to Cat City if you are very, very good and don’t tell a soul!

GL:  Do you have a “full” name or is it just Kiwi?

Kiwi:  I was called Kiwi by my ‘owners’ in the human world. It’s a bit weird being named after a fruit, but, hey, there are worse names. Maybe it suits me. And the children named me, so I like my name! I have a much longer name in Cat City, but I can’t tell you it. It’s a secret (if you’ve read book 3, you’ll know why).

GL:  I haven't read book three just yet, but I plan to do that ASAP!  I can't wait to find out...

GL:  Would you like to tell us how old you are (in cat years OR human years) or is it a secret?

Kiwi:  I’m four… I think that’s about 28 in your years. Yep, I’m adding on my claws… that’s 28.

GL:  We're almost the same age, though I'm a teensy bit older than you.  I'll be hitting the big 3-0 in a couple months...

GL:  Have you used up any of your nine lives yet?

Kiwi:  I think I used up all of them in the human world, but so far I think no harm can come to me there. I’m sure I’ve used up 11 or so. So far, so good. Crossed paws!!

GL:  I’ve heard a rumor—are cats really lactose intolerant?

Kiwi:  Yes that’s correct, alas – correct for me anyway. I’d be rushing to the cat litter tray! I love the milk in Cat City. It’s the best. We have alco-milk machines for adult kitties. And we have normal milk machines for young cats and general refreshment. We have so many flavours that you can add - strawberry, chocolate, lime, honey, grass, lemon, mouse, bird, fish… lots. However, I did tell Inspector Furrball that I’d invented chocolate. I guess that’s not exactly true.

GL:  How do you feel about dogs?  What about mice?

Kiwi:  Dogs? Dogs? Is there one here? Where? Oops I’m chasing my tail. Phew, no dogs. Phew. They give me the shivers. They smell. And the teeth… the teeth… Moving on. Mice are nice. I tend not to hunt much. I try not to, but it’s in the blood. Sometimes I get the urge. But I like mice. I’ve known some nice mice. For example, Whiskers (he’s the mouse in book 2). I like him. You can have a good conversation with him about architecture, engineering – he loves to build things, and he has so many ideas. I can’t wait to see his new inventions. So my answer is I try not to. But in Cat City, I’m rather partial to Mrs Ebenry’s famous delicacies… that’s mouse… but I only accept that as a present. I don’t buy them myself. You know what they say, a minute on the lips… a lifetime on the cat bum.

GL:  What brought about your career choice?  Is there another career you are also interested in?

Kiwi:  I’m really curious about things. I like solving puzzles and riddles. I love travelling – I get that from my father. I miss him a lot because he would take me to places. He took me to the human world, although Moggie didn’t approve. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have met Amy and James. One of my best friends is Inspector Furrball and I like to help my friends. One day he needed my help to solve a mystery and I volunteered. It was fun. So now he’s always asking! But I know that if ever I’m in trouble, he will come to the rescue. As it happens, this actually occurred in book 3, when I got in a bit of a pickle in an old house with an angry ghost – yikes, I shiver remembering! But I like solving crimes. I love watching Scooby-Doo with James. It’s the best thing on his TV. Also, my magic comes in handy. Any other career? Mmm. I wouldn’t mind something to do with travel. I could be a travel agent :-).

GL:  What has it been like working with your human partners, Amy and James?

Kiwi:  They’re fantastic. They are best friends of mine. James is younger, but now and then he comes up with some brilliant ideas. He’s obsessed with James Bond. I think he wants to be him. Of course, in book 1 of Kiwi, we would have been stuck without James. He notices details. I like the way he thinks. Amy… well she’s lovely. Intelligent, pretty and kind. She loves animals. She wants to work for Greenpeace… and she’s just great. It was a real shock to them when I started talking, but well… they’re no longer shocked. I think they’re learning a lot. I like to think that I’m teaching them some good things and widening their horizons. I just hope they never get bored of Cat City and me when they grow up.

GL:  I can't imagine that would ever happen!

GL:  What sorts of silly kitten mistakes do they often make?

Kiwi:  Aha! Well, James falls over his paws. He finds it hard to walk first of all when he changes. But he eventually gets the hang of it. Amy is quicker at adjusting and I think she has the best balance. James still gets a thrill from chasing his tail, which can be a bit embarrassing at times. Sometimes they mix their mews and purrs, and purr when they’re trying to speak. Scratching… it’s a cat thing, but I know they don’t like doing it. And washing, they don’t like spitting on their paw and washing… I guess they may get a bit smelly! That reminds me… James likes to try new things and sometimes it’s not good, such as grass milk, and it took him a while to learn how to lap milk without decorating us all!

GL:  Do you have any brothers or sisters?

Kiwi:  Ah, I can’t talk about that. It’s a sore subject.

GL:  I'm so sorry...

GL:  Have you ever considered settling down and raising kittens of your own?

Kiwi:  Maybe one day… if I meet the right Tom. But I don’t think I have yet. He would have to be an intelligent, manly cat with good balance, a nice smell, a sense of adventure and not mind me going off to solve crimes. In fact, if he enjoyed doing that, well maybe that would be the best partnership.

GL:  Why blue lightbulbs?  Why not pink or green or purple, etc.?  Do the lights in the human world bother you?

Kiwi:  Ah, blue is best for cats’ eyes. It’s purrfect. I don’t mind the white lights in the human world, but I can see better with the blue ones. It’s also soothing. It’s good for your cat mood. Do you know that in the human world, blue light is used for many things? Some types of therapy use the wavelengths of blue light to treat things such as sleep disorders, SAD and skin problems. In Cat City, you don’t see many depressed cats. It’s a happy place. Blue light helps.

GL:  Perhaps we should all use blue lights!  There are some pretty grumpy people here. 

GL:  Do you know the lady (Vickie) who writes about you?  What do you think about her?

Kiwi:  I know that she’s writing my adventures. There are three books at the moment and she’s just started number four. I think she writes fairly and puts everyone and every cat in the right light. I don’t know much about her except that she likes cats very very much! I hope she doesn’t get bored writing about my history :-).

GL:  I think she's pretty cool too.  I hope she doesn't get bored writing about you either, because I love reading about your adventures!

GL:  How many of your other adventures has she or will she write about?

Kiwi:  Ah, I don’t know. I have so many. Every day there’s something new. I know she’s working on the fourth and fifth adventures. I can’t tell you what they’re about though. You’ll just have to wait and see. But one does involve going underground and the other to a different world, and Inspector Furrball’s kitty wedding is coming up. That’s all I can say. Winks!

GL:  How exciting!

GL:  Do you have any favorite films or music?

Kiwi:  Oooh. Well I love Scooby-Doo and Top Cat. I also enjoyed watching Bruce Lee films with James’ hamster, Hammy. Music? Well, I like to listen to whale music! Amy was playing it once and it’s really soothing. She also likes a band called Lynyrd Skynyrd. I think it’s because her mum likes them. She’s always playing Sweet Home Alabama and Free Bird. I like birds so I like that one.

GL:  Do you have a favorite toy?

Kiwi:  Me toys? I’m four! I’m too old for toys! Whispers – I like strokes and playing with Amy and James. My fave toy was a catnip one shaped like a fish.

GL:  What does everyone do in his or her free time in Cat City?

Kiwi:  Anything!  You can do anything. There’s the Catema – it shows a few different films every week. The owner is Mr Eastwood. At the moment Furrlight is on, along with For a few kitties more. Mr Eastwood is Cat City’s only director. He runs Stage Cats. Anyone can join and learn how to act. I’m not sure where he gets his film ideas from, but they’re amazing. Then there’s Meow Market. You can go there for food, clothes, anything really. There are many parks to visit there. Purrfect Mouse Burgers has amazing food. It’s very popular. Ladycats can get their fur and claws done at Kitty Parlour. Meow Café is nice – they make the most amazing grass cakes and flavoured milk that is the best in Cat City. We only have one hotel – the Cat Motel. It’s huge. We don’t need more than one though. If you want, you can have toys and a scratching post in your room. They also have room service. You can always just go for a walk down the street – the sun is so orangey there and the pavement sparkles with little blue mosaic cat heads. It’s lovely. I’m not sure about your streets here – they’re a bit grey and they sometimes have smelly stuff on! I once trod in something gooey and sticky too. Took ages to get it off my paw.

GL:  Do cats drive cars in Cat City?

Kiwi:  Yes! I’ve been on your buses and our cat cars are nothing like those. We have little cars that fit our size. Instead of wheels they have cat paws that turn round and round, really fast. We peddle our paws to make the cat paws turn and off we go. We don’t get rain very often so we don’t have roofs on the cars. Some younger cats have catboards and travel around on those. They’re fun. You can go quite fast. Just don’t tell Moggie that I used to whizz around Cat City on one.

GL:  Where do you go on holiday/vacation? 

Kiwi:  Ah, I go to the human world, of course. That’s my holiday time. I spend it with Amy and James. That’s the best holiday any cat could wish for. But now and then I get itchy paws for somewhere new. So cat knows where I’ll go next. Thanks for chatting. Have a kitty nice day!

GL:  Thanks so, so much for being our guest today Ms. Kiwi!  It was a joy having you, and I do hope you'll come again soon!

Here's where you can find Vickie and her work:

Anyone interested in any of the Kiwi books, please leave your contact information in a comment below or email me at gatheringleavesreviews@gmail.com.  We are pooling together all entrants from this and our previous giveaway and Vickie will choose several winners to receive copies of one or more of the Kiwi series!!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kiwi and the Missing Magic by Vickie Johnstone

I don't get to see you guys much on Sundays!  I hope everyone has been having an awesome weekend so far. We've been to the ER, had a tire blow on us, and then the spare was also basically flat...sooo maybe I shouldn't comment on that...haha!

Moving along to much better things...  As part of the Great Indie Reads Blog Hop, I am once again hosting the lovely Ms. Vickie Johnstone who is the genius behind the Kiwi Series. For anyone who doesn't know, Kiwi is the star kitty who helps her human friends, Amy and James, visit her magical home in Cat City.  

Well, I have a super special treat for you all this time.  Since we've already gotten to know Vickie pretty well (see her interview HERE), I have invited Ms. Kiwi herself to stop by and chat with us!  So, tomorrow, Kiwi will be here for a little Q&A so we can get the real scoop on all things Cat City.  (Yes, I'm quite fluent in cat...)  

For today, I'm sharing my review of the second of the Kiwi series, Kiwi and the Missing Magic.  You can find my review of Kiwi in Cat City HERE.

Kiwi and the Missing Magic (Kiwi Series #2)
By:  Vickie Johnstone
Published July 4, 2011
Available Format:  ebook

My Rating:  ★★★★★

In Kiwi in Cat City, we were introduced to the magical world of Kiwi and her friends in Cat City. For the second installment of the series, Amy and James join Kiwi in the city again, and there is, naturally, another mystery to solve. This time, the city is suddenly threatened by a giant mouse, and it is up to the gang to find out how he got into Cat City and what exactly he is doing there. In addition, some of the Magic is missing, which could be extremely dangerous for all the catizens. Some old friends are revisited while some new, super cute characters are introduced to round out this highly entertaining, furry fun adventure. You won’t want to miss it!

I have been dying to jump into book two of the Kiwi series since I finished Kiwi in Cat City a couple months ago. I was absolutely not disappointed, of course. Kiwi is such great fun, and it is interesting to see this new world through the eyes of Amy and James as they transform into cats and must integrate themselves into the feline society. I thought it was such a great idea to bring James’ hamster into the group to help them solve this new mystery.

I admit, I was a bit thrown off in the beginning when we meet the bees, but later in the story I saw how that tied into what was going on in Cat City, so all was well again. Other than that little bit of temporary confusion, there was absolutely nothing wrong with this adorable story! I love the personalities of each and every one of the characters, and there is always something neat to learn about what happens in the fantastical city.

It is always great, also, to find a good children’s/YA series that adults can fully enjoy as well. It is a great story to share with your children or just keep for yourself if you are so inclined!

I can’t wait to see what is next for Ms. Kiwi and the kittens. Maybe it won’t take me two months to dive into Kiwi and the Living Nightmare!

See you tomorrow!  Be sure to bring your cat nip treats and grass flavored cream! :-)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Blog Tour: Author Interview with Stephen Prosapio, Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum...plus Giveaway!!!

Though I've been looking forward to it basically all week, I can't believe another weekend is upon us already.  I'm typing this up at 2:40AM, thanks to my clumsy son keeping me in the ER all evening.  Sigh...  I really hope I get to sleep in this morning!


But now on to much more interesting topics, namely, Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum by Stephen Prosapio!  Steve is stopping by today while on his blog tour to answer a few questions so we can all learn more about his amazing novel and his amazing self :-).

In case you missed my review, you can find it HERE.

Be sure to enter the giveaway following the interview for your chance at your very own FREE ecopy of Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum!

Author Interview
Stephen Prosapio
Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum

GL:  Good morning, sir! Please give us your intro/blurb. 

Steve:  Forced to work with a rival TV ghost hunting show, a paranormal researcher—who is himself possessed—investigates a 19th century asylum and uncovers as many dangerous secrets as he does spirits.

GL:  What was your inspiration for this book?

SP:  I really fell in love with the TV ghost hunting shows, and thought it would be great in a novel to get behind the scenes of them. All of those “WHAT WAS THAT?” moments would be captured in the novel. Also, the character of Zach grew over the course of about a year or so just in my brain, so by the time I started writing the book, I knew him rather intimately. And lastly there was the story of Rosewood and the history of the spirits who inhabited it. Those came to me as the story developed similar to the way it does for the readers.

GL:  Is there a real Rosewood?

SP:  There is a real Rosewood Asylum in Maryland, but the Rosewood in my book is a fictional place shrouded in the very real historical neighborhood of Pullman, Illinois. The entire town actually is a Historical Landmark and most of the old buildings are still standing.

GL:  Which character’s personality most closely resembles your own? 

SP:  Great question. I’m reminded of that movie (I won’t name it so that it doesn’t ruin the film for those who’ve not seen it) where the characters are all shards of someone with multiple personality disorder. They’re really all fractions of my persona at various ages or stages of development. Zach:  the good kid trying to follow his passion. Ray:  the big athletic guy who’s cool and funny. Wendy:  loves history. Sara: ambitious and smart. Rebecca: struggling to develop her talents. Matthew: having to fight to get what he wants. Angel: insecure but loyal. Hunter: wise and centered. How’s that for not really answering the question? LOL 

GL:  Wait, what was the question again??? :-)

GL:  Was there a character or situation you had an extremely difficult time developing?

SP:  Not in Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum. Compared to my other two novels, the characters and the story came together amazingly quickly and smoothly. I ran into some problems in the book I just completed, the next book in the XPI series:  The Atchison Haunting (avoidance so thick that I even skipped ahead and answered two of the next questions avoiding the second half of this question before forcing myself to come back to it!). There is an important flashback in the 2nd book to a scene with Zach visiting his mother for the last time (She’s already dead at the opening of the first book so there’s no spoiler here). That “goodbye” scene was extremely difficult and emotional to write and then to edit and rewrite.

GL:  Do you actually believe in ghosts?

SP:  Absolutely.

GL:  Have you ever had a personal experience with a ghost/demon?

SP:  Not with a demon and I wouldn’t want to. I honestly don’t know that I’d be strong enough to face one. Ghosts, yes. I don’t share too much on that because I use my experiences in my writing and it might impact a reader’s enjoyment of the books.

GL:  Do you have any unusual evil-repelling practices or superstitions?  (For instance, I have slept with a Bible under my pillow to keep away bad dreams. J)

SP:  Oddly, although I seem to write quite a bit about them, I’m not a particularly religious person these days. However, on the wall next to my computer, I have a Psalm quote Bono said before the most powerful performance I’ve ever seen (“O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise.”). Below it, I have the prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel used often by Zach and XPI. Also, I’m careful not to drink alcohol or stay up late writing extremely dark scenes. I stay as cleared and centered as anyone would need to be to actually face down evil. Just to be on the safe side.

GL:  Do you watch ghost reality shows on television? 

SP:  Well, believe it or not, I currently don’t own a television! I watch things online so it’s not like I deprive myself, but I’ve not seen too many of the modern ghost hunting shows. I watched them religiously (all of them) for a period before during and after completing Ghosts. Oddly, though, I’d already completed the first draft of the book before I learned of Ghost Adventures and Zak. Some people have asked if I modeled Zach after him and he’s one that I didn’t.

GL:  I don’t know much about them.  I try not to watch them if I can help it.  They usually just make me giggle…

GL:  What other work do you have published? 

SP:  I ePublished my first novel Dream War. It’s a SciFi tale which presupposes the CIA developed the technology to connect to our enemies’ dreams and extract information. Unfortunately, it was just a matter of time before they took things a little too far…

GL:  What are you working on now?

SP:  I mentioned the follow up novel to Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum. I hope people don’t get the impression the first book didn’t really end. I hate when authors do that. It’s my intention that each book could be read individually. Each book is a new case.

GL:  What book(s) have you read that really surprised you? 

SP:  It’s really hard to surprise me in a book or novel. My mind tends to figure things out pretty quickly…which isn’t always a good thing. When something does surprise me it’s nice. The 6th Sense really got me. That was great. I saw a couple of the twists coming in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows but they were so well done that they did surprise me and affect me on an emotional level.

GL:  Mmmm…I love Harry Potter!

GL:  Favorite scary movie?

SP:  I’d put the original Jeepers Creepers up there. Also The 6th Sense.

GL:  What would you choose for your last meal?

SP:  Interesting question in that I recently considered this having just read “In Cold Blood” for the first time and considered it as they talked about the killers’ last meals. I guess I’d go with a nice salad, lasagna and as much wine as they’d let me have!

GL:  Mine would have to be my momma’s biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, and crispy bacon…  Yum!

SP:  Thanks so much for having me! I’m so glad you enjoyed the book!

Thanks for hanging out with us today and for sharing your book with me!  I’m glad I enjoyed it too ;-)…even if I had some trouble sleeping some nights.  

Dream War is available on Amazon FREE for a limited time.  So, while you're over there snatching up your copy of Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum, make sure you grab that one too!

Here's where you can find Steve:

Buy the book:



Stephen is offering up one ebook to a lucky reader, as well as a signed bookmark and postcard (Hey, I want one of those!)...  All you have to do to enter is fill out the Rafflecopter form OR leave a comment below with your email address!  Good luck!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Feature: Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum by Stephen Prosapio

This is a jam-packed week -- full of awesomeness! I'm heading straight into another blog tour today. I am hosting Stephen Prosapio on his tour promoting his fantastically spooky novel, Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum.

Steve was our guest on JournalJabber this past Tuesday, and he is tons of fun!  Today, I'll be sharing my review with you and tomorrow, Steve is going to be here answering some of my lovely questions about his book, his life, and who knows what other scary stuff we can summon up...

Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum
By:  Stephen Prosapio
ISBN:  9781936593101
Published May 10, 2011 by Otherworld Publications
Available Format:  Hardcover, Paperback, ebook

My Rating:  ★★★★★

I’ve mentioned before, until about the middle of last year, I hadn’t read much horror since I was in high school.  Sure, I’ve watched the occasional horror film, and often I regretted it.  I realized that there were things that didn’t bother me so much, like zombies and aliens, because the likelihood that those things are or will be real is much less than other things.  Some things, however, get to me quite a bit more.  Demons and ghosts fall into the category of the other things.  Why?  Well, because I believe in angels, so conversely, I also believe in demons.  That there are evil spirits roaming the earth toying with our everyday lives, I’m pretty certain.  Are these meddlings as drastic as those on the big screen?  I don’t know.  But, I just can’t entirely discount the existence of ghosts and demons and that they are able to crossover into our world and carry out certain acts, both malicious and benevolent.

So, anytime I wake at 3AM with no explanation, the hair on my arms is often raised in alarm.  And, anytime I read (or watch) anything about hauntings or possessions, I’m much more likely to get those paranoid feelings in the dark or have creepy dreams that have me tossing and turning all night.  Since I read Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum each night right before bed, sometimes into the wee hours of the morning, you can imagine the kind of sleep I had that week J.  It really did creep me out a few times, but I have to say it is one of the best ghost books I have ever read.

As the host of Xavier Paranormal Investigators, a reality television show a la Ghost Hunters, Zach Kalusky is beside himself when he is finally given the opportunity to explore and possibly exorcise the ghosts of the haunted Rosewood Asylum.  With its sordid history of mysterious fires, suicides and other unexplained events, Rosewood is the most fascinating landmark in the Chicago ghost hunting scene.  The catch is that the motley crew from Demon Hunters is to team up with XPI on this particular investigation for a Halloween special.  Sure, their show is often more dramatic, maybe even more entertaining, but their investigations are suspected to be much less ethical than Zach’s XPI.  In the midst of some very real paranormal happenings, Zach finds himself questioning the loyalty of his own team members while he deals with his personal secrets – that he is actually possessed himself. 

Rosewood is the kind of place in which you would not find me, especially not in the middle of the night, roaming the dark halls, asking if there are any spirits who’d like to communicate. No thanks! Prosapio does a fantastic job intermingling the history of the haunted asylum with the modern day aspects of the reality show and the various characters the reader encounters along the way.  I love the mix of history, ghost story, technology, paranormal, psychic, and religious – especially the religious and Zach’s possession.  

My favorite character is probably Father Macginty!  I love a good, quirky man of God who can always handle a dubious situation with a great joke.  And he really grounds Zach’s unusual situation.  Second place would probably go to Hunter, Zach’s psychic friend.  Maybe I just needed these guys’ humor to balance out the creepy so I could actually get some sleep J.

If you like a good ghost story, then you have to check out The Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum.  You might not want to read it at bedtime, though…

See you all tomorrow for Steve's Q&A!!  Don't miss it!! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bleedover Blog Tour: GIVEAWAY & Author Interview with Curtis Hox

Welcome to another fantastic feature here on Gathering Leaves!  Today, my special guest is Mr. Curtis Hox, author of the profound novel, Bleedover.  Bleedover is the kind of novel that really gets you thinking.  In case you missed my review, you can find it HERE.

Curtis has been kind enough to join me for a little Q&A session so you all can get to know more about him and his work.  Be sure to stick around after the interview and enter the giveaways -- an ecopy of Bleedover and your chance at a $50 gift card!

Author Interview
Curtis Hox

GL:  Please give us your intro/blurb.

Curtis:  An intriguing phenomenon in literature and arts. A maverick professor's quest to find answers. And a discovery that will shock the world.
Books, TV, film, advertising. It’s all being mysteriously altered, and no one knows why. Dr. Harriet Sterling claims she understands, even if no one believes her. She calls it the New Phenomenon of Bleedover.
She's alone, though, because the science establishment stands in her way. When trusted graduate students generate an apple out of thin air in a controversial bleedover project, the world takes notice. So does an old enemy thirsty for revenge, Corbin Lyell, who manipulates bleedover to hurtle monstrosities from the world of his pulp heroes, H.P. Lovecraft and R.E. Howard.
Dr. Sterling must stop Lyell's apocalyptic plans, but with enemies on all sides undermining her discovery, can she succeed?
With a heady mixture of serious literature and genre fiction, Bleedover dazzles as a thought-provoking work of science fiction and contemporary fantasy that both inspires and entertains.

GL:  Can you please tell us a little about Bleedover?

CH:  It’s a novel that imagines a world in which the stories we tell become real and bleedover into reality. That’s it, really. It revolves around a university professor’s attempt to explain this with a rational method.

GL:  What was the inspiration for this novel?

CH:  I wanted a rational explanation for things like divinities walking the streets of New York (the premise of a novel I wrote before Bleedover). I’ve been thinking about it for some time, even before Gaiman’s American Gods. It also stemmed from an urge to rationalize the fantastic in a way that doesn’t, de facto, accept them as a given. I wanted all the tropes we love in fantasy, but I wanted to explain how they could exist through some system of scientific inquiry.

GL:  Which character did you pour most of yourself into? Who do you relate to the most?

CH:  The three main characters: Hattie, Masumi, and Towns all have certain aspects of my own thinking. Hattie is the driven person in pursuit of a rational metaphysics, who also maintains a space for the mystical. Masumi is the supreme skeptic, while Towns is the wide-eyed student ready for anything

GL:  Was there a character or situation you had more difficulty developing?

CH:  Developing the main character so that she was driven and determined, yet still likeable, (while not being supremely heroic) took work.

GL:  Any outtakes? Anything or anyone you really wanted in that just didn’t make the cut?

CH:  I originally had R.E. Howard’s character Conan make an appearance. But I removed it for copyright issues.

GL:  What led you to choose self-publishing?

CH:  I realized self-publishing is also a great way to grow as a writer. I knew I’d just keep writing for myself, while ignoring the business side of publishing, unless I did something soon. I also had plenty of feedback from people who said I should.

GL:  What challenges have you faced during the publishing/marketing process?

CH:  Learning the indie publishing business, of course. My wife, though, has been a huge help with this. She enjoys marketing, so we make a good team. She has to work extra hard, though, because my material has always been difficult. I went out of my way for years to write in a way that was challenging to myself and to the reader. And the current state of indie publishing seems to reward very genre oriented writing, which is great, but carving a niche will be my challenge.

GL:  First of all, you have certainly succeeded in writing a novel that is challenging yet still absolutely enjoyable for the reader.  And, your wife is AMAZING!  She has been a joy to work with, from my end.  I know she is a valuable asset for you...

GL:  Without whom could you just not have made it through writing/publishing?

CH:  My wife.

GL:  If it were possible, what book(s) would you love to travel into?

CH:  Great question! I’ll just pick one: the Bible, so I could run around with a camera and record what really happened, then show it to all the literalists out there and watch them squirm.

GL:  It would be so hard for me to choose.  The Bible, for sure.  I love the idea of making the literalists squirm :-).  Lord of the Rings - the pretty places, like Rivendell!  Hmmm...

GL:  What would you like to bring out of a book or film?

CH:  I’m not sure what you mean. But this sounds like something directly related to the premise of Bleedover. If I could go into a book and return with something (an element that does happen in my novel), I’d have to go into Star Wars and come back with a light saber, of course. Hell, I’d come back with my own X-Wing. Then again, I could go into the world of Battlestar Galactica and come back with Number 6, but then my wife wouldn’t be so happy with me.

GL:  Haha!  That's exactly what I meant.  I didn't want to give too much of the book away, though.  I kinda like one of the important things the main character brings over ;-).  Or just being able to go back and visit lost loved ones...

GL:  What book have you read that was completely uncharacteristic for you (maybe you read a steamy romance when you usually read horror)? What did you think?

CH:  I once read a Daniel Steele novel (I even remember the name: Full Circle) when I was fifteen because a girlfriend at the time liked it. What a sucker I was.

GL:  Do you have any other work published or do you plan to publish anything soon?

CH:  I have a few short stories published, but I plan to release several completed novels in the next year or two.

GL:  What do you do when you just want some down time for yourself?

CH:  Lately, write. Watch some good TV serials. Even play some video games (but I have so little time for that now) like Gran Turismo 5.

GL: Any unique talents, hobbies or habits?

CH:  I have a habit of never getting everything my wife wants when she sends me the grocery store.

GL: I don't think that is unique.  I think it is written in the male DNA. ;-)

GL:  Most interesting place you’ve visited and/or person you’ve met?

CH:  I lived in Salvador Da Bahia (Brazil) for a few years. Think great music, dancing, and fun people. When I lived in NYC I met a guy in the East Village who believed he was a stork and used to stand on one leg. I lived on Tenth and B and I’d see him standing there all the time. I’d give him a thumbs up and he’d start hopping up and down. He never told me his real name, though.

GL:  Hmmm...interesting...  

Thanks so much for stopping by on your tour and sharing your fantastic novel with us!  I wish you all the best with your future endeavors and look forward to having you on all your book tours! :-)

Science Fiction/Contemporary Fantasy
80,000 words
ISBN: 978-0-9846656-0-0
Buy it Now: Amazon

Tags: Science fiction, contemporary fantasy, thriller, pulp fiction, sword and sorcery, portals, alternate worlds, magic, spell casting, demon summoning.

About the Author

I've written six unpublished contemporary, literary science fantasy novels in the last decade, all of which I finished and promptly put away. I didn't even let my wife read one until this year. (I know, ultra critical and self defeating as hell, but that's me.) I've done rounds of agent hunting with little luck, and since everyone is talking about e-publishing, I thought I'd give it a try by self publishing Bleedover and by writing a series of three YA novels with all the juicy stuff I love from science fiction and fantasy and just have fun with it. Those turned into the Transhuman Warrior Series (currently being edited). I’m also forcing myself to be open to everything that goes along with the business side of marketing without griping, "Frack it! I just want to write."


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