Friday, September 25, 2009

INTERVIEW: Lynn Viehl in the House!

Lynn Viehl, awesome author of the Darkyn and Kyndred series, has graciously consented to answer my questions regarding Shadowlight and...other stuff. Read on to find out more!

Silver: Lynn, thank you for being here and being so generous with your time and answers. You have such a long and successful writing career, with books written in various genre. For the sake of new-to-you readers, can you tell us a few things about yourself? Where would you suggest we start reading your books?

Lynn: Other than the fact that I’m hopelessly ordinary, I live in country with my guy, our two teenagers, two rescued cats, and a Sheltie pup. New-to-me readers might first want to try one of my free e-books posted on ( I have original novels, novellas, anthologies and short stories in a variety of genres posted there, and all of them are free for anyone to read online, download in .txt or .pdf format, and/or print out.

Silver: That's great! I've been to there, and you certainly have a lot of free stuff to delight a reader's heart. Do you have a favorite genre that you love to explore and write? Why does this genre appeal to you?

Lynn: I try not to play genre favorites because they’re like little girls and get jealous of each other, but the world-building involved in dark fantasy and SF make them the easiest and most interesting for me to write. Don’t tell my romances that.

Silver: My mouth's firmly zipped. :) Now, how long does it take you to write a book, from conceptualization to submission, including research? You can take for example, Shadowlight.

Lynn: It varies, but the average time is between four to six months per novel. I write several novels simultaneously so I’m often working on two or three books at the same time. Shadowlight took about eight months, a bit longer than usual because I took a trip to Savannah to map out some of the settings and conduct some interviews with real-life experts for certain parts of the story.

Silver: Wow, the perks of writing! How did your idea for Shadowlight evolve?

Lynn: After my publisher told me to stop writing my Darkyn novels and put together a new series concept for them, I asked if I could use a portion of the Darkyn universe revealed in the last novel as a jumping-off point. I felt it was important to deliver something that my Darkyn readership would enjoy, and as the original series did very well it seemed sensible to put together a spin-off.

Silver: Another researh question incoming! What is the research that went into this story?

Lynn: I’ve already mentioned the research trip I made to Savannah. I also mapped out the concept with help from some friends in the medical science community, and did quite a bit of reading up on genetic science and the practices of biotech corporations. I interviewed a number of experts and real-life counterparts for the characters, including adults who were adopted as children. I also discovered exactly how to disappear, establish a new identity and handle other things related to the Kyndred characterizations.

Silver: *Very* interesting. I'm astounded by the medical terms you used in the story, and they certainly lend an authenticity to the story. Are you a doctor in your other life? *grin*

Lynn: No, but I play one in my science fiction series. :)

Silver: What do you like about Jessa Bellamy?

Lynn: Because of the differences in our backgrounds and our personalities, Jessa’s character was a real writing challenge for me. I love that kind of character because it allows me to step outside myself and my comfort zone, which I think is important at this stage in my career to help me avoid repetition in my characterizations.

Silver: What makes her the perfect heroine for this novel?

Lynn: For this book I needed a character that embodied both the spirit and the mythology that inspired the Kyndred universe, and I think Jessa did the job.

Silver: She certainly did! You've mentioned that you have a hard time writing love scenes. Did you have the same problem in Shadowlight? How did you overcome it?

Lynn: Often there is a great deal of clamor for writers to deliver physical and emotional intimacy early on in the book as well as the obligatory HEA. I’d rather let intimacy happen naturally as the characters’ relationship develops versus forcing it, and I don’t believe in HEA endings because they’re rarely realistic. As a result I always get a lot of revision requests in those departments. I’ve been experimenting with some new approaches to the problems, and in Shadowlight I think I came up with some interesting compromises, but still, it’s an ongoing, frustrating situation.

Silver: Oooh, I know what you mean. I simply love the massage! LOL What else do you have in store for your fans?

Lynn: Right now I’m finishing up a free e-book that has a parallel story to Shadowlight, which I’ll be giving away online at the end of September, and in late October I’ll have another free e-book which will be Darkyn High Lord Richard Tremayne’s story. I’m also writing the last novel in my SF series and putting together some proposals for two new dark fantasy/paranormal novels. Depending on how the new series performs, my publisher may ask me for more Darkyn novels to publish in print, but I’m not sure I want to go back after they had me wrap up that series. I may write a couple of Darkyn standalones as a compromise; it really depends on what they want to see and what I’m willing to write.

Silver: Wow, that's a lot! I'm sure your fans will be happy to know that. I can attest to it! LOL As an author, I'm sure you also love to read! What are your guilty pleasure books?

Lynn: Poetry collections and nonfiction history books, mainly because I have no real professional reason to buy and read them. I also enjoy reading working memoirs by doctors, surgeons and other people in the medical field, which will become a guilty pleasure as soon as my SF series ends.

Silver: If you are to be stranded on an island for a year and you can only take one book, what would this be? Why?

Lynn: Only one book? What if it caught on fire, or got swept out to sea? What if a giant turtle decided to eat it? Ha. If there isn’t a giant manual out there titled “How to survive on an island with no books” then I’d probably want e.e. cummings Complete Poems 1904-1962, edited by George J. Firmage, ISBN# 0871401525. I never get tired of reading e.e.’s poetry.

Silver: What is one advice you would give to writers who are trying to break into publishing?

Lynn: Be persistent, patient, and write daily or as often as possible. It took me ten years and over a thousand rejections before I received my first offer. Also, if you have a manuscript you can’t sell that you consider to be the book of your heart, take it out in the backyard and burn it.

Silver: Ouch. Well, then, to aid would-be-authors, what is one must-have reference book that an author should have?

Lynn: All these one-book-only questions are killing me here.

Silver: I just love torturing authors. *evil laugh*

Lynn: The most complete writing instruction/reference book that I recommend most often is Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide from New York's Acclaimed Creative Writing School by Gotham Writers' Workshop, edited by Alexander Steele, ISBN#9781582343303.

Silver: Any last words for everyone?

Lynn: Please keep reading, and tell others about any books you enjoy. It’s a great way to keep your favorite writers employed, and absolutely the best advertising money can’t buy.

Thank you, Lynn, for this wonderful interview, and for the chance to review Shadowlight. Read my review!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

REVIEW: Shadowlight by Lynn Viehl

Series: Kyndred series, Book 1
(c) 2009
295 pages, Ebook ARC
Author's Website

With one touch, Jessa Bellamy can see into a person's deepest thoughts. In the process, she has uncovered criminals and leaked information to the authorities for many years. However, her activities are catching up to her, and unbeknownst to her, people are watching her--a mysterious man named Gaven Matthias and a biotech corporation called GenHance Inc. Each wants her for his own purpose, but only one will get her...


Lynn Viehl crafted an amazing story--a brilliant mix of the paranormal and suspense. Each scene raises the stakes and escalates the mystery until she reveals the answers one by one, and I couldn't stop turning the pages due to the urgent need to know what happens next.

The worldbuilding is superb, especially with the use of the proper terminologies that lends credence to the world the author has built. Some of the foundation has already been laid during the Darkyn series, and Lynn Viehl just builds more upon it. It was nice to see how Lucan's and Sam's relationship has evolved, for those who love visiting with characters from the previous books. I do wish though there could have been some solid interactions--instead of the almost-interactions--between them and the main characters, but alas, it was not to be. Perhaps I'll get my wish in the succeeding books.

Jessa Bellamy makes the perfect heroine, smart and with a strong character. Having gone through a lot, she has emerged stronger from her experiences, though wary and cautious and protective, especially for her fellow Takyns. She is also smart and resourceful, and she knows when she is at the limit of her strength and needs to trust the hero. Oh, and did I say she's smart?

I love the mystery of Gaven's identity, and I have to admit that it is also in anticipation of the revelation of who he is that makes me keep scrolling down. I have such fun guessing who he could be and what he was about. I also like how his background intertwines with that of the arch enemy's. This makes me eager to read the next book in the series, where I'm sure we'll see more of them both.

I have to admit, I didn't like Rowan so much at first. But I warmed up to her when her backstory was revealed. One thing for sure, Takyns are such a wary, untrusting lot! However, one can't blame them. When evil men want to harvest your DNA, well, that's a lot of cause for keeping important things secret.

Though all the important threads pertaining to this book are addressed by the end of the story, Lynn Viehl leaves enough questions unanswered to make me wish I could get the next book now.

Book Rating: 4 stars
Disclaimer: This e-ARC is provided for by the author.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

REVIEW: Not Quite A Husband by Sherry Thomas

(c) 2009, Bantam Books, Random House
338 pages, Mass-Market Edition
Author's Website

Bryony Asquith left her tumultous marriage behind and went to India, not expecting that one day, her ex-husband Leo Marsden would come after her. Leo, whose smile had felled her. Leo, who broke her heart before they could say their vows. Leo, whom she still loved.

The short review: I laughed and cried as I read this book. And cried again. Definitely a keeper!

The long review:

Where to start?

I have to gush about Leo. He's a totally to-die-for hero. I think his most endearing quality is that he has loved Bryony since his youth, and even after the terrible things Bryony has done to him, he still continued to love her, protect her and stayed faithful to her. Throughout the book, we can see Leo taking care of her, making sure she's comfortable, that she's not hungry, etc. And I like that he decided to trust Bryony in the end--trust her regarding their future. This is a powerful story of how love makes us a better person.

I especially love the last paragraph of the book. Read it and I dare you not to get tears in your eyes.

Bryony comes across as prickly and antagonistic toward Leo, at least in the beginning, but she has reason. Good reason, though I don't know why she couldn't have confronted Leo with the truth in the first place. Maybe because of the shame she felt, the shame which shut her mouth. Others may this decry this as The Big Miscommunication issue that could've been resolved easily enough, but I feel that the author carried this off well enough due to the emotions that the character was feeling. Moreover, even if Bryony and Leo had talked about this during the first few months of their marriage, the problem might still have existed, because as Leo said (not exact words), there is something about war that distills everything into the essential: that only love matters, in the end.

When one is near death, or close to, because in war, one never knows, one then realizes the things that are truly important.

Though most of the book happened in war-torn India, the author's vivid descriptions made this exotic setting come alive. However, most of the descriptions of the different tribes and the animosity between and among them went right over my head because, to be honest, I truly don't have any idea what these tribes are and I also couldn't be bothered to go look for a map while I'm the grip of the story. Except for Swat Valley, of course.

Sherry Thomas is simply amazing with this book, combining a vivid description of the setting with a sweet, powerful story of love that touches the heart. Highly recommended.

Book Rating: 5 stars

Saturday, September 5, 2009

REVIEW: The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran

(c) 2008, Pocket Star Books, Simon&Schuster
371 pages, Mass Market Edition
Author's Website


Emmaline Martin travels to India to be with her fiance, Colonel Marcus Lindley. Though captivated by the country, she is made aware of the stirring unrest among the troops by Julian Sinclair, heir to the Duke of Auburn, who captivates her and for whom she feels an attraction. On the heels of her fiance's betrayal and mutiny among the native troops, Emma has no one to turn to except Julian.

As they flee toward safety, Emma and Julian fall in love, but due to circumstances, they are separated, only to meet again at a London ball years of grief later...


Meredith Duran brings a refreshing voice to historical romances, partly because of her exotic setting and mainly because of her irresistible writing style. She has a different way of looking at things and this shows in her characters' thoughts and feelings. The words she used are beautiful and perfect, and evokes emotions that make me want to read that particular sentence or paragraph over again.

The Duke of Shadows is divided into two parts, and the first part utterly charms me. Funny how war-torn India could be charming, but I like reading about Emma's and Julian's interactions and the gradual way their feelings for each other developed as Julian tried to bring Emma to safety. I like that Julian is different from other heroes that we normally read about. Though he is dangerous with a rakehell charm, he is kind and patient with Emma, even when there is nothing between them yet. He is also a complex man with hidden depths, brought about by his myriad heritage.

And here is one example of that wonderful inner dialogue of Julian's that charmed me:

...She had not felt like a woman who shared an understanding with
someone else. She had felt like a woman who shared an understanding
with him.

Emma, in this first part as described by Julian, is captivating, a girl who rushes headlong into life, unafraid and excited. And it is so easy to weep with her as she lost her parents and to cheer for her as she takes control of her life, and as she falls in love with Julian.

Here's another passage. The sheer poetry of her words/descriptions astound me:

His hands had performed miracles. Her life had rested in them, balanced in
their capable grace. And now they rested on her, and their grace infused
her as well.

And inevitably, war changes everyone.

I'm torn with the second part. On the one hand, the fairy-tale charm has gone, leaving behind the grim realities of life, wherein we see how Julian and Emma have changed due to their experiences. And on the other, we see a love that has endured through unimaginable sufferings (both characters'), and a love that has matured and is all-encompassing (Julian's). I love that Julian is constant, that his love never wavers, despite what his beloved has turned into. One of the best heroes I've read, and one that makes me want to keep him. This scenario--that of the heroine deteriorating into someone not so lovable due to her experiences--is something we don't often see in books.

And so, one of the brilliant passages in this half of the book is the one wherein Emma was enumerating the places where Julian has searched for her in war-torn India. He said he searched for her everywhere, but he hadn't named London, because he hadn't conducted the search in that city.

"I thought you had not found me here," she whispered. "Or I thought you
would not want me, as I am now. But you
did find me here. Didn't you?"

The words are ordinary, but I love the double meaning here, because it is in London that he has found her--both physically and the real Emma, who was "lost" after the war.

And another:

...Yes: everything was coming alive. Plants with deep roots, that had gone
underground for winter, would be rising again through the soil. She had
always loved him, after all. And perhaps he knew it. Perhaps he saw more
than she had suspected. And despite it, he did not look away.

I love the words "he did not look away". Despite my ambivalence, this second part for me is gripping because we see how the characters have changed and there I was, reading as fast as I can to see how they'll get back together again. I don't understand Lockwood's part in all this, though, except for being instrumental in arranging the venue for Emma and Julian to meet again. Nor that of his wife. (Someone enlighten me?) I feel there's a mystery here, and I have a feeling Lockwood would have his own story someday, but thus far, I don't believe he's the hero of the next two books from Meredith Duran. The fourth maybe?

One thing about this book is that after I read the last page, I immediately opened to the first page again to take a second journey through that wonderful interaction between the characters. I highly recommend this book. I've also heard good things about the next two books by Meredith Duran, Bound By Your Touch and Written On Your Skin, and I can't wait to read them.

Book Rating: 4 stars

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

REVIEW: Dark Time by Dakota Banks

Series: Mortal Path, Book 1

(c) 2009, Eos Books, HarperCollins

306 pages, Mass-Market Edition

Author's Website


Susannah lives in perilous times. A woman with the gift of healing, she uses her gifts to ease suffering, but she is accused of being a witch. Burned at the stake, she is not willing to just let her life go, and thus, she makes a bargain with the demon Rabishu. She is given immortality, but in return, she has to do the demon's bidding, which usually involves killing people who is poised to thwart some purpose that the demon has. Until a series of events culminates in the breaking of the wall around her heart, and she decides she cannot go on this way.

Now, as Maliha Crayne, she is given a chance for redemption, if she can save a life for every life that she has taken. Or if she can find the means to destroy the demons and rid the world of evil forever. However, she is in a race against time, for every life that she saves aged her in indeterminate ways. If she cannot balance the scales before her death, she is in for a lifetime of unspeakable torment, at the hands of the demon who was once her master.


Simply amazing! On-the-edge-of-your-seat brilliant, Dark Time is an intriguing blend of myth, paranormal, suspense, and action-adventure.

Maliha Crayne is a complex heroine. A trained assassin, she now uses her powers for good, not only because it's the way to her redemption, but also because she couldn't ignore people in need. After two coders were murdered, she seeks to find the killer and comes face-to-face with an enemy she might not be able to take down, considering her reduced powers.

Yet, what I like about Maliha is that she faces life head on. She takes stock of what she has and does what needs to be done, no matter that the situation might end in her death. She doesn't give up hope, but strives on toward the goal she sets for herself, no matter the obstacles. She is also fiercely protective about the few friends she has and would die to keep them safe. No wonder these friends feel the same way about her.

I also like the detailed descriptions of Maliha's weapons and action scenes, as they give an authentic feel to the story, with Maliha being what she is. Though this book focuses on Maliha's solving the mystery of the coders' death, the entire series has an overall arc, which leaves the question hanging at the end of this book: Will Maliha triumph over evil and emerge victorious in her battle with her demon master?

Because Maliha is not the only Ageless her demon master employs. It also stands to reason that the other six demons have their own Ageless minions as well, minions who are threats to Maliha and her goal.

There's a hint of romance as well, between Maliha and DEA agent Jake Stackman. Yet, who is Jake exactly? A mystery that I'm sure will be revealed in succeeding books.The ending caught me by surprise, and what a cliffhanger! Makes me anxious to read the next book. I hope I won't be kept waiting long.

Disclaimer: This book is provided by the author.

Book Rating: 4 stars
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