Monday, July 24, 2017

Blog Tour: Omega's Choice, by Lilli Carlisle

Welcome to the Omega's Choice 
Blog Tour,
sponsored by 
Bewitching Book Tours!!

For my stop, I'm featuring an 
excerpt with mini-review!

Omega's Choice
(The Black Ridge Wolf Pack, Book 1)
Lilli Carlisle
Trade Paperback, 186 pages
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
 Digital Edition, 183 pages
Boroughs Publishing Group
May 25, 2017
Fantasy. Humor, Paranormal Romance

 Scarred but powerful, Black Ridge Wolf Pack leader Aldric Forst has been selected to mate with an Omega—but first he must protect her from the dark forces that would corrupt her magic.

In a realm of elves, ogres and white witches, where danger is ever-present, Princess Helena Lichtenberg lost her parents at a young age. Raised by her uncle and aunt, Helena values family above all else. Now, as decreed by tradition, it is time to select a mate.


Enormous, scarred and scary, Black Ridge Wolf Pack leader Aldric Forst has never drawn the eye of any Omega. Why would he? But, on this, the night of what he swears is his last selection celebration, everything is different. One of those most beautiful, magical and powerful women, the niece of the king and queen themselves, wants him. And Aldric has never wanted anything more in return. No force—no matter how dark, no matter how powerful—will take Helena from him.

This mini-review is of the excerpt below, 
and not of the entire book.

Ever since I met a certain wolf shapeshifter named Jacob Black, I've enjoyed reading such stories. And this one sure looks wonderful! I really like the brief scene shown here. The interaction between the two brothers is funny, and Aldric's instant attraction to Helena is obviously the stuff of fairy tales. I also like the hints here that the world of this novel is a very complex one, with interesting family and social networks. In short, this excerpt has certainly hooked me, so I'm really looking forward to reading this book!

Princess Helena took that moment to turn toward him again. Instantly, his heart raced, his palms became sweaty, and a nervous excitement rolled around in his stomach, which he wasn’t entirely sure he liked. After all, he was a feared warrior, people looked to him for guidance and strength, and now he felt like he was going to pass out because a gorgeous woman was smiling at him with such joy. 

As Amalia spoke to Helena, the princess’s small omega stone on her forehead glowed, and it was impossible to miss the waves of happiness coming from her. 

“Looks like the princess is happy you agreed to dance with her, brother.” Godric looked about ready to burst with excitement. “Should I call home and have the rest of our party get on the road?” 

“No, not yet, Godric. Let’s see how the evening goes first. Then we can call in reinforcements.” Aldric didn’t want to get ahead of himself. He refused to be let down again. “What do you think Lady Amalia meant by she’d waited years?” 

“I have no idea, but I do know the only way you’re going to find out is by asking the princess herself. Ready to waltz, brother?”
“At least all mother’s lessons are about to come in handy. What if she expects our normal life to be like this?” Aldric panicked. 

“Okay, now you’re just looking for problems that aren’t even here yet. Get out there and sweep that princess off her feet with the alpha you are. Wait until I tell Cassandra she was right yet again.” Godric had a look of absolute glee at the prospect of making that call back to the pack. 

“Yeah, well, if Cassandra was right about this, brother, then she also predicted that I would have to fight for my omega.” 

Godric turned to face Aldric and all humor fled from his expression. “If we have to fight for your omega, then it’ll damn well be one we win, I can assure you of that. If this night goes well, I’ll be calling in more warriors as well. They will be here before the sun rises.” Both Theron and Tofa nodded in agreement, even if Theron continued to tap away on his tablet. 

“We shall see, Godric. Let’s hope I don’t step on her foot. Then it may be the royal guard we need to fight.” Aldric laughed as he, Godric, Theron, and Tofa stood and made their way across the ballroom to stand in front of King Leonidas, Queen Alexandra, and Princess Helena. 

Princess Helena was simply stunning; her emerald green eyes beamed with happiness as he approached. Aldric had never felt this level of immediate attraction before in his lifetime. Helena’s curly blonde hair was pulled away from her face, showcasing her royal tattoo and tiny vines twisting down her slender neck to her collarbone. Her smile lit up everyone and everything around her and her green eyes shone with happiness. 

Aldric, Godric, Theron, and Tofa stood before the king and queen, bowing respectfully and waiting for King Leonidas to speak. The entire time, Aldric hoped like hell he didn’t screw this up. 

The room had grown strangely quiet.

Lilli Carlisle lives outside Toronto, Canada. She’s a member of the Romance Writers of America and its chapter, Toronto Romance Writers. Lilli is a mother of two wonderful girls, wife to an amazing man and servant to the pets in her life. She writes both contemporary and paranormal romance and believes love should be celebrated and shared. After all, everybody needs a little romance, excitement, intrigue and passion in their lives. Lilli loves to hear from readers! You can find her here:

To access the rest of the tour, just 
click on the button below!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Shelf Candy Saturday No. 220: A Thousand Nights. by E.K. Johnston

Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!

*Late Edition*
This is my weekly feature
showcasing beautiful covers!
It also provides information, 
if available, on their 
very talented creators!

Here's my choice for this week!!

A Thousand Nights
(A Thousand Nights, Book 1)
E.K. Johnston
Hardcover, 336 pages
October 6, 2015
   Fairy Tale Retellings, Fantasy,
Romance, Young Adult Fiction

My Thoughts About This Cover

Although I usually prefer covers where images are the main feature, I do enjoy highlighting those where calligraphy is the star. This is one such cover. 

The calligraphy here is SO richly ornate, so exquisitely beautiful! I see a slight Art Deco influence here, but it's been embellished by several graceful, sensuous, ornamental curves that give this cover a very feminine feel. 

Especially interesting are the words surrounding the title, which then become part of the design. These words are done in a more ornate style, and are also very beautiful. They are not very easy to read, because of all the curlicues, but that doesn't detract from their effectiveness. They are colored gray, which forms a nice contrast with the gold used in the title itself, which, of course makes the title stand out more.  The overall impression is one of shimmering elegance. The golden tone of the words in the title also contribute to this effect, as well as alluding to the fact that the plot involves royalty, as gold is the color of royalty.

I have to add that, before I finished this post, I looked at the cover again, and was able to make out the words, "She will stitch her own secrets" at the very top of the design. What a poetic phrase! And how very mysterious, as well. 

Something else, in reference to the the words. I have posted a link below to an interview of the artist. In that interview, mention is made of a Star Trek joke in the words that are part of the design. I honestly couldn't make out the words of this joke, lol. It's supposed to read: "Sokath, his eyes uncovered", and it comes from the New Generation episode, "Darmok". Gosh, now I like this cover even more!! 

Another interesting visual element is the figure of the young woman floating in mid-air, surrounded by the golden ribbon that "falls" from the letters in the title. This, of course, is a reference to the book's female protagonist. She seems to be either dreaming, or in a trance. This is a referenee to the fantasy atmosphere she creates with her stories. 

I also love how the ribbon that becomes the title paradoxically seems to flow upward from the palace at the bottom of the cover. It's as if the castle were representing Aladdin's lamp, and the title were emerging like smoke from it. It's an entirely lovely effect! I also LOVE the overall circular shape of this "smoke".

The background colors help the entire design stand out, and the lighter color surrounding the palace also makes it stand out.

I do have a couple of quibbles here, though. The author's name should have been a bit bigger, I think. Furthermore, I wish the writing at the top of the cover had not been included. But that's it. I LOVE this cover anyway!!

The BRILLIANT designer behind this GORGEOUS cover is Marci Senders, the Lead Designer at Disney-Hyperion. Originally from Brooklyn, she is based in NYC. In addition to being a children's book designer, she also likes to crochet, create altered books, and do illustrations. 

Senders attended Tyler School of Art, of Temple University, where she graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design. 

And here's yet another name to add to my list of favorite book illustrators/designers!


Online Links

What do you think of 
this week's cover?
Do you agree or disagree with me?
Please leave a comment
and let me know!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Book Blogger Hop No. 101: Toxic Books

Welcome to the Book Blogger Hop,
hosted by Billy @

For more information, and 
to find out the topic of next week's question, click HERE.

This Week's Question

Have you ever read a book or
books you would consider
'toxic' because of the effect it/they
had on you? If so, which one(s)?

(Submitted  by Maria @ 
A Night's Dream of Books)

I totally BLAST the horror genre in this post, 
so, if you're a fan of this genre, 
read no further.

My Answer

There is one book that I would say wins the "Grand Prize for Toxicity" award, although there are some "runner-up" stories. That book is the one pictured above.

Before I start getting into details, I need to explain that I consider one specific literary genre to be HIGHLY toxic, and that's the horror genre. I DETEST this genre with every fiber of my being. Why? The basic answer is: because of its detailed depiction of evil. But there's more. The horror genre thrives on a detailed depiction of FEAR, as well. It painfully depicts the effect of all the evil on helpless human beings. Since fear is a highly unpleasant emotion for me, I do not want to waste any more of my precious time (which I already have wasted, unfortunately, but never again) reading any book which will induce this emotion in me. I do not enjoy feeling TERRIFIED. AT ALL. I also avoid horror movies, for the same reason.

The novel and stories I am mentioning here all belong to the horror genre. Unfortunately, I had to read a few horror stories in high school, as they were required reading. I'm surprised that they were, too, as I attended an all-girl Catholic high school run by nuns. What were those nuns thinking, to assign HORROR stories to their students?!

First, the "runners-up". There's one story by Stephen King. (This one was not assigned reading; I stupidly read it on my own. Lol.) For some reason, I don't remember the title. Unfortunately, I DO remember the plot..... Here is a condensed version: a family moves into a dream home in a beautiful valley where everything is just WONDERFUL. Of course, it's all too good to be true. The price for this paradise-on-earth is a yearly sacrifice to the Devil.... So the family manages to escape one night, with only the clothes on their backs, and they start hitchhiking. They are eventually picked up by a van driven by a middle-aged, friendly hippie couple. Ah, King finally writes a happy ending, right? NOT. Everyone is merrily chatting away,  enjoying themselves, when, without warning, the cute little hippie couple turn into two DEMONS, and the van into a gigantic MOUTH that swallows up the entire family....

Is this enjoyable reading matter? Absolutely NOT. Instead, it's SICK, DISGUSTING, REVOLTING. And, worst of all, it shows THE TRIUMPH OF EVIL. This is totally TOXIC stuff. It poisons the mind and the emotions. Oh, WHY did I read that story?! It has haunted me ever since. I guess I just wanted to see if King was all that scary. Well, he certainly was! I have never touched ANYTHING by him since then. Nor will I do so ever again!

More "runners-up": three SICKENING, NAUSEATING stories by Edgar Alan Poe: "The Telltale Heart", "The Pit and the Pendulum", and "The Cask of Amontillado". These were the stories assigned by the nuns....UGH.

The first story is just totally morbid and sick. A man who is obviously insane murders an old man he had been taking care of, and buries him under the floorboards. The police investigate by coming in to question him. During the questioning, the crazy guy thinks he actually HEARS the beating of the dead man's heart, and it's getting louder and louder.....well, he ends up confessing to the crime, because he just can't TAKE the loud beating of the heart.....

Thankfully, I don't remember much of the plot of "The Pit and the Pendulum", but I do remember that it involves a man getting sawed in half by a swinging pendulum....

The third story, "The Cask of Amontillado", involves a man being tricked into going into a room, attacked, and chained to a wall, while his enemy builds a brick wall, sealing him up alive..... And the man remains callously unaffected by the cries of his victim. I can STILL remember the poor man crying out, over, and over, "For the love of God, Montressor!" Well, obviously, this Montressor guy didn't care about God at all.

All of this stuff is totally morbid, totally SICK. But then, Poe was a very sick guy. Perhaps nowadays he would have been a serial  killer. And I have never understood WHY he is such a revered figure in American literature. For that matter, I can't understand King's appeal at all, either.

And now to the prize winner. I don't know WHAT made me read this book.... I guess it was just morbid curiosity, as it was not assigned reading, either. I was in my twenties when I picked it up. Morbid curiosity? Where did it come from? Did I feel I needed to prove something to myself by reading this ton of garbage? I really have NO idea.

The graphic detail in this novel has, thankfully, receded into my subconscious mind. However, it, like King's story, still haunts me. And with good reason: one of the Goodreads synopses  for this book calls it "the most terrifying novel ever written". I believe it. Absolutely. It was a totally terrifying tale. And the worst part......I could NOT put it down. Why, oh, why, did I subject myself to this?! Did this book bring me any positive emotions? Of course not. What it brought me was a fear so great that, during the week I read it, and even weeks afterward, I could not sleep well at night. I had to go to bed with my bedside lamp on at night, as a matter of fact. The images evoked by this novel were just too terrifying.....

In addition to the graphic depiction of evil, I dislike the fact that both of the exorcists involved in the process of trying to get rid of the demon in the story died. Both of them were Jesuit priests. The first one died due to the high stress of dealing with the demon possessing the young girl in the novel. The other one had lost his faith, but regained it at the last moment, after he had ordered the demon to possess HIM instead of the young girl. He had to throw himself out of a window, thus also destroying the demon -- supposedly. This brings up a question in my mind, though. Once this priest was dead, what was to prevent that demon from possessing the young girl again? Demons are spiritual beings. So this is a flaw in the novel, I think.

When I read novels, or watch movies, in which there are monstrously evil villains, I fully expect these villains to be defeated in the end. In horror novels, however, it's very frequently the case that evil, and not good, triumphs in the end. True, in the case of The Exorcist, the second priest sacrificed his life in order to get rid of the demon. However, the fact that he was killed was definitely a triumph for evil. 

This is in fact the most bothersome aspect of this novel for me. The plot includes two Catholic priests, who supposedly have the power of God to back them up. Yet, both of those priests were ultimately powerless against this demon. This was deeply disturbing to me. How can a demon be more powerful than God Himself?

I'm speaking here as a Christian believer. Of course, those who do not come from a Christian background, or who do not profess a belief in a deity, might see this issue differently. But I'm writing about what was toxic for me, what caused me such terrible anguish that I could not sleep well for WEEKS. 

Ultimately, this novel raised questions about the nature of evil, and why a good God would allow it to exist,  that I just wasn't ready to deal with at the time. I don't think I have satisfactorily resolved this issue even  after all these years, either.  

The worst part of this whole thing is that this novel is based on fact. There was an actual exorcism performed on a young boy in 1949, in St. Louis, Missouri, which is the basis of the plot. The second priest's character was based on two real people, too -- the archeologist Gerald Lankester, and the Jesuit priest William S. Bowdem, who also performed an exorcism in real life.

Reading this horrible book certainly took away any 'morbid curiosity' I might have about any other horror novels! I just wish I could get rid of the permanent, unpleasant feeling of existential unease it left in my mind and soul.... This book really shook my faith. It shouldn't have, but it did. And I totally regret having read it. I also regret having read Poe's and King's stories, as they have also had a permanent, and negative, effect on me. 

Evil is very real. Human beings can reach very depraved levels. However, as a believer in Christianity, I must assert that there IS a devil, and this devil can sometimes possess people. This is an uncomfortable fact, as there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of recorded exorcisms in the history of Christianity. (See links below.)

The horror genre is so toxic precisely because it explicitly deals with   the works of the devil. Instead of uplifting the spirit, it poisons it. The proof is in the reading.

Although it might seem paradoxical, I do like paranormal novels. However, these novels do not deal primarily with the fear factor. And many of the characters in these novels are really not evil. I'm thinking here, of course, of my beloved Twilight Saga. 

Reading should be a pleasant activity. It can at times be exciting, suspenseful, romantic, awe-inspiring, and totally fascinating. I do not ever want it to be terrifying. We have enough terrifying and totally horrible events in real life already. Why would I want to voluntarily subject myself to reading about such things as well?

Online Links
WIkipedia Articles

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this topic?
Please leave a comment!
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