Happy Trick or Treat!

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Book Review: The Omega Project by Steve Alten

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Title: The Omega Project
Author: Steve Alten
Published by: Tor/Forge
Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Genre: Post-apocalyptic, Science Fiction



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The Omega ProjectThe Omega Project
Steve Alten
Forge, August 2013
ISBN 978-0-7653-3632-3

From the publisher—

On the brink of a disaster that could end all human life on earth, tech genius Robert Eisenbraun joins a team of scientists in Antarctica on a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa to mine a rare ore that would provide for Earth’s long-term energy needs. But as he and the rest of the team train under the ice shelf in preparation for the long journey, trouble erupts, and before they embark Eisenbraun is the odd man out, put into cold sleep against his will….

When Robert wakes, he finds the ship deserted and not functional. He escapes to the surface of an Earth terribly changed. The plan has gone horribly wrong, but as he adapts to a hostile environment, he realizes that there is still a way to accomplish what his mission had set out to achieve. But he also discovers that he faces a new adversary of the most unlikely sort. For now,  his own survival and that of the woman whose love has sustained him in his darkest hours depend on the defeat of a technological colossus partly of his own making. Confronting a foe that knows him almost as well as he knows himself, he faces the prospect of depending on resources that he has reason to believe will be available on one particular night of a full moon, a night foretold by a mysterious unseen ally to be a pivotal moment for the fate of the earth. The game has changed, and Earth’s future depends on him and him alone.


I’ve been a fan of Steve Alten for a number of years, since I first read MEG, probably in 2005 or so. None of his succeeding books have evoked quite the terror and sheer creepiness that one did but all have had certain qualities that keep me coming back for more and The Omega Project has kept up the tradition.

A few elements of this book bothered me somewhat, especially the lack of worldbuilding regarding the Great Die-off and the quick jump from one story arc to another. In fact, there may be too many ideas so that none seem to be fully explored but I still enjoyed the overall concept. In particular, I’m always won over by man’s insertion into a world so vastly different from ours and Robert’s finding himself on an Earth of the very distant future was quite engaging. However, I have to say the overdone preachiness left me cold and had me skipping pages.

I can’t claim to be a hard-core science fiction reader since I find some of it inaccessible because of an overabundance of scientific fact and/or theory that I don’t want or understand well or because it’s too heavy on the military theme. I like the kind that just offers a cracking good story with well-crafted character and plot development and strong worldbuilding. With some reservations, particularly regarding worldbuilding, moralizing and pacing, The Omega Project misses the mark a bit but is still enjoyable. I’ll be interested in seeing where Mr. Alten turns his attention next.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2013.


About the Author

Steve AltenSteve Alten earned his Bachelors degree at Penn State University, a Masters Degree in Sports Medicine from the University of Delaware, and a Doctorate of Education at Temple University. Struggling to support his family of five, he decided to pen a novel he had been thinking about for years. Working late nights and on weekends, he eventually finished MEG; A Novel of Deep Terror, a thriller about Carcharodon megalodon, the 70-foot prehistoric cousin of the great white shark. MEG went on to become an international best-seller, with movie rights sold. The Mayan Calendar plays a big part in his Domain series — another international best-seller sold in the U.K. as THE MAYAN PROPHECY series. Steve’s other work includes The LOCH — a modern-day thriller about the Loch Ness Monster, The SHELL GAME — about the end of oil and the next 9/11 event, and GRIM REAPER: End of Days — a modern-day Dante’s Inferno which takes place in New York when a man-made plague strikes Manhattan. His best work yet, THE OMEGA PROJECT – was released in August 2013. As an author, Steve has two goals. First, to continue to work hard to become a better storyteller and create exciting page turning thrillers. Second, to remain accessible to his readers. Steve reads and answers all e-mails, uses the names and descriptions of his loyal fans as characters in all his novels, and even hires readers as editors, depending on their particular expertise.

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Cover Reveal: Wasteland by Lindsay Leggett

Wasteland Leggett


Title: Wasteland 
Series: Flight #2
Author: Lindsay Leggett
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult



Wasteland, the next book in the FLIGHT trilogy,
takes place a few months after the ending of book one.

Trapped in a cell and experimented on, Piper Madden’s only hope is
remembering Asher. Then, Elder Corp President Rupert Elder gives her new
orders: to be a leader in a war against the Harpies. Without a choice, Piper
must obey Rupert’s commands or suffer from paralyzing and painful
Nanomachines. But the war is just beginning, and Asher has gone missing.
The resistance is slowly building, and the upcoming war will be larger and bloodier
than anything seen since the Devastation that ruined the earth. Throughout all
of this, Piper remembers the time before she ran to Ichton, when David was
alive and her hope in Elder Corp was still strong.




About the Author

Lindsay LeggettNearly every writer struggles to put together information about themselves, perhaps because we’re so used to detailing the lives and ways of others. For the most part I am a writer, editor, photographer, and all-around artist living in the wilds north of Toronto, Ontario. I thrive on the juxtaposition of beauty and grit, enjoy urban crawls, indie everything, and time well-spent in the woods.

Author Links:

Website / Goodreads / Twitter


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A.M. BurnsFamiliar PathA.M. Burns lives in the Colorado Rockies with his partner, several dogs, cats, horses, and birds. When he’s not writing, he’s often fixing fences, splitting wood, hiking in the mountains, or flying his hawks. As of January 2013, he is the president of the Colorado Springs Fiction Writers Group. www.csfwg.org You can find out more about A.M. and his writing at www.amburns.com, or follow him on twitter @am_burns

Social media links:

Website: www.amburns.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AM_Burns
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/A-M-Burns/226547897358075
Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5134598.A_M_Burns
Pintrest: http://pinterest.com/mystichawker/
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0054EVI6W
Mystichawker Press Author Page: http://www.mystichawker.com/amburns.html
Colorado Springs Fiction Writers Group http://www.csfwg.org

Since it’s nearly Halloween, I figured owls would be a great thing to talk about. Owls are a group of mostly nocturnal raptors, or birds of prey. They occur all over the world and inhabit nearly every available ecological niche except for Antarctica.

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

Over the millennium, owls have worked their way into the human imagination like few other creatures have. They have been the companions of gods, the bringers of death, and the voices of wisdom. An owl was the bird of Athena, one of the major Greek Goddesses. In the folk lore of a large number of Native American tribes, owls were a harbinger of doom. And wizards, from Merlin down to Harry Potter, have all hung out with owls. All you have to do is a simple internet search to see how owls have permeated our folk art and culture.

It is my personal belief that owls, particularly the barn owl, which occurs everywhere but high mountains and frozen wastelands, are the source of most of our ghost myths. Look at a normal colored Barn Owl in flight. You get a round head and flowing, outstretched body, much like what most people think ghost look like. And the cry of a Barn Owl can be downright eerie. Scientist have proven that barn owls hunt mostly by sound and need no light on their nightly prowls. With their silent flight, is it any wonder that they have been scaring humans since we first swung down from the trees?

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

Since prey comes in all shapes and sizes, owls also vary in size. The basic shape of owls is fairly consistent with a bulky body, fairly stubby wings (compared to other birds of prey) and a round head which sits on their shoulders with minimal visible neck. Some of the smallest owls eat large insects with only the smallest of mammals consumed. Larger owls eat larger things, often taking prey that is three to five times their own size. Their bulky bodies give them excellent wing loading and allow them to carry off things that outweigh them. Here in North America, the Great Horned owl can easily carry off skunks and house cats.  A feat that the Red Tailed Hawk, its diurnal counterpart, wouldn’t think about trying.

Most farmers know the benefit that owls bring to their farms. Owls help control rodent populations. A family of Barn Owls might eat between two and three hundred pounds of rodents and other vermin in the course of a season. They really are nature’s pesticides. Across the world right now, Barn Owls are losing habitat as old wooden barns are being torn down and replaced with modern metal structures. Caring farmers are out putting up nest boxes to help bring the Barn Owl populations back up to sustainable levels.

Screech Owl

Screech Owl

Ironically, while we are struggling to save an owl that we’ve known about for thousands of years, we’re discovering new species like the Omani Owl, recently discovered in the country of Omar in the Middle East. Being nocturnal creatures, it’s not hard for them to avoid discovery. It’s amazing the things that the night is hiding from us. Since we don’t see well in darkness, it’s something that we fear, giving those creatures like owls a place of their own to hide from us.

As our nights grow longer, the nocturnal creatures spend more time active. Owls are having a growing presence in our towns and cities. The best way to spot them is listen for them. It’s more than just the classic hoot of the Great Horned Owl, the little Screech Owl sounds almost like a horse, and as mentioned before, the Barn Owls have an eerie screeching call that makes people want to shutter their windows and pray for protection for evil spirits.

So as you wander around this All Hallows Eve, watch the shadows that glide around your streets and listen for the calls in the night. If you’re lucky, there just might be an owl hanging out somewhere, watching you and trying to see if any little mice run from you so they can have a treat as well.

Sins of the Lost—Book Review: Sins of the Angels by Linda Poitevin, an Interview and a Giveaway!

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Title: Sins of the Lost
Series: The Grigori Legacy #3
Author: Linda Poitevin
Publisher: Ace/Penguin Grouplication Datre
Publication Date: October 15, 2013


Sins of the LostFrom the author of Sins of the Angels and Sins of the Son comes the newest novel in the “electric, thrilling and extremely intelligent” (Ex Libris) Grigori Legacy series.

Heaven and Hell are on the brink of war as Lucifer builds his Nephilim army and waits for his new agenda to become a reality — that of having a Nephilim child of his own bloodline to lead his forces to cataclysmic victory.

With rumors of the pending war rampant on Earth, Alex fights to save humanity from its own panic –­ leaving little time for her fledgling relationship with Seth, the man with heavenly origins who has captured her heart. But when Nephilim children begin to disappear, along with Alex’s own vulnerable niece, the inevitable war between Heaven and Hell becomes as personal as sin.

Heaven has its own plans to fight the coming apocalypse, but first it needs Seth back. Asked to betray the man she loves, Alex must turn for help to the soulmate she thought she’d given up — the Archangel Aramael, who may be her last chance to save her family and humanity from the ashes of Lucifer’s Armageddon.


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A Review of Book One

Sins of the AngelsSins of the Angels
The Grigori Legacy #1
Linda Poitevin
Ace, October 2011
ISBN 978-0-441-02091-1
Mass Market Paperback

From the publisher—

When homicide detective Alexandra Jarvis is assigned a new partner in Aramael, a Guardian Angel who doubles as a hit man, they have only one thing in common: a fallen angel hell-bent on triggering the apocalypse. Now they have no choice but to work together-relentlessly, fearlessly, intimately. Because only they can stop the rogue angel from ushering in the end of days.


Oh, my. I hate this book. I love this book. This hardly ever happens to me.

When Alex met Jacob aka Aramael, I knew I was in for a rocky ride but I had no idea I’d be torn between so many emotions, not only my own but also those of many others. That has to be chalked up to really good writing, the ability to invest the reader in every significant character. I found myself liking and simultaneously sneering at Christine, I empathized with Staff Inspector Roberts in his battle of wills with Alex and his increasing frustration at the serial killer’s climbing body count, I felt compassion for that serial killer, Caim, and why he was doing it, and I was aggravated by the machinations of Verchiel and Mittron. Who knew Heaven could be mired in bureaucracy?

Most of all, though, I loved spending time with Alex and Aramael as they found ways to abide each other and, when Alex began to believe that perhaps she wasn’t going insane, I lost all resistance to what their story might become. The introduction of Seth Benjamin only made the future more questionable and there was no going back for me.

It didn’t hurt that one of my very favorite subgenres of mystery is crossgenre, particularly detectives and the supernatural and angels appeal to me much more than such creatures as vampires or shapeshifters. I’m fascinated by how any given author approaches the existence of angels and creates a story around them and Linda Poitevin has shown herself to be as good a storyteller as I could possibly want.

A note to the squeamish—you might want to page past the descriptions of Caim’s predations upon humans. In truth, they make the possibility of what might come ever more urgent so they’re not the least gratuitous but they are very graphic.

So, why did I say I hate this book? I’m not telling. Suffice it to say the ending will grab you by the throat AND the heart and make you run to get the next book, which is what I’m about to do 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2013.


An Interview with the Author

Thank you so very much for hosting me here today, Lelia—and for participating in the Sins of the Son blog tour!

1.   Who did you pretend to be when you were a kid?

You are so going to laugh at this…my most frequent “pretend” was to be a horse. I didn’t own one, but I loved horses. I lived, breathed, and dreamed horses. I obsessed over them. And every chance I got, I corralled (no pun intended!) my siblings into being my herd while I played the fearless stallion saving them from predators. I’m sure we made the most awful commotion as we romped around the living room on our hands and knees…my mother was very forbearing. 😉

2.   How much of you is in your character, Alex?

Definitely the stubbornness, lol! I grew up wanting to be a cop and ended up working as a dispatcher for the RCMP for almost three years (that’s where I met my husband), so I’d say that Alex is the kind of cop I would have liked to have been.

3.   What does Alex do for fun?

These days? Not much. Before the world began to fall apart, however, she spent a lot of time with her sister and niece (her only family). She introduced her niece to horror movies…hm…I wonder how she feels about that now that she’s learned how real monsters can be? o.O

She also used to get together outside work with her colleagues…usually for casual get-togethers such as barbecues and game nights. Oh, yes, and she was a runner, too…both to stay in shape and as stress-release. The life of a homicide detective can get a little grim.

4.   What is your favorite scene in Sins of the Lost and why?

Without giving spoilers, there’s a scene between the One and Lucifer later in the book that I absolutely love. I also agonized over it for weeks because it was so challenging to get down on paper. It’s powerful, pivotal, and a total game-changer in soooo many ways. It also made me cry as I was writing it…so yeah, it’s definitely a favorite.

5.   Do you carry on conversations with Alex while you’re working on the story?

Not directly with her, no. At least, not as myself. I tend to become the character whose viewpoint I’m writing. So if I’m writing Aramael, then I am Aramael…and if he’s speaking to Alex, then yes, I am too.

6.   What is the one thing you would say about Canada to lure tourists?

Whatever you’re looking for in a vacation, chances are excellent that we’ve got it. 🙂

7.   Is there one author (mystery or otherwise) who has really influenced your writing career?

Not one in particular, no…but I owe a debt of gratitude to every writer I’ve ever read over the years, because I think I’ve learned something from each of them (even the ones I didn’t like, who showed me what I don’t want to do!).

8.   If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently in your writing career?

I would have been much more realistic in my expectations, and I would have approached it from more of a business perspective. As much as writing fiction is a creative venture, producing a publishable book that people want to buy is a business one. This means knowing your genre and knowing where your audience lies—and these days, it also means building a relationship with that audience through social media long before you publish (which has also turned out to be great fun, incidentally!).

9.   What is your #1 secret–or not so secret–addiction?

Coffee. And it’s no secret! 🙂

10.  If you could spend a weekend with one fictional character not your own, who would it be and why?

Edmond Dantѐs from the Count of Monte Cristo. He was so intelligent and complex, and he could have so easily (and understandably) have given in to the bitterness, but in the end he didn’t. That speaks to a strong character I would like to know better.

11.  You just woke up as a castaway on a remote, uncharted island and you have one book to keep you entertained but it’s the very last book you’d want. What is it?

A cookbook with beautiful, glossy pictures of all the foods that I can’t have.

12.  Please tell us an embarrassing anecdote about yourself—we can always use a good laugh.

High school, grade 9: We had an annual “Greaser Day” where we were allowed to dress in 50s style for the day. I got my days mixed up and came to school one week early in a poodle skirt, bobby socks, and backwards-buttoned cardigan…and I lived too far away to go home and change. I drew a lot of attention that day…not the kind of thing you’re looking for at that age.  Then, to top it off, I did the exact same thing two years later…argh.

13.  What is in store for you? What’s happening next?

I’m currently at work on the fourth and final book in the Grigori Legacy series, tentatively entitled Sins of the Warrior. After that, I have another series in mind, but I’ll need to do some serious research and reading first. I’d also like to tackle a novella as a sequel to Gwynneth Ever After, a romance I self-published over the summer…several readers have asked for one, and it would make a wonderful (and lighter!) project.

Linda, thank you so much for being here today—it has been a real pleasure 😉


About the Author

Linda PoitevinLinda Poitevin was born and raised in B.C., Canada’s westernmost province. Growing up in an era when writing was “a nice hobby, dear, but what are you going to do for a living?”, Linda worked at a variety of secretarial jobs before applying to be a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Due to an error in measurement, however, she was turned down when she didn’t meet the height requirement of that time. Undeterred, Linda became a civilian member in the force and was a dispatcher for two and a half years, during which time she met her husband, a police officer.

Following their transfer to Ottawa, Linda went on to become a real estate agent and then a human resources consultant before starting a family. She remained a stay-at-home mom, homeschooled her youngest daughter for nine years and, now that she has realized writing can be more than a nice hobby, she continues to live her dream of being a cop vicariously through her characters.

Linda currently lives near Ottawa with her husband, youngest of three daughters, one very large husky/shepherd/Great Dane-cross dog, two cats, a rabbit, and a bearded dragon lizard. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found in her garden or walking her dog along the river or through the woods.



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Linda Poitevin Giveaway Prize

There are two awesome giveaways included on the tour –

1 – GRAND PRIZE Giveaway (US & Canada ONLY) for a surprise
prize package from Penguin – ONE Winner

5 – GRIGORI LEGACY Swag Packs (International) – tote bag, pen,
fridge magnet, sticky notes & bookmarks – FIVE Winners

– The Grand Prize Giveaway is open to US/Canada.

– The Grigori Legacy Swag Pack Giveaways are open Internationally.

– Giveaways end on November 10th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific.

– Giveaways are open to anyone 18 and older.

Tweet daily for additional chances to win!

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Book Review: Havana Lost by Libby Fischer Hellmann

Havana LostHavana Lost
Libby Fischer Hellmann
The Red Herrings Press, August 2013
ISBN: 978-1-938733-38-3
Trade Paperback

Author Libby Hellmann, with a number of Chicagoland detective mysteries to her credit, has moved in a new direction. This novel continues that move, beginning with the excellent Set The Night on Fire,  continuing with A Bitter Veil, and now this novel. Here we have a love story set against the turbulent and dangerous background of the Cuban Revolution. The story of two lovers from wildly different circumstances form the catalyst that drives this story.

Hellmann’s skills as a writer have continued to improve and her talent is most obvious when she deals with the principal characters, Luis the revolutionary, follower of Fidel Castro and his inamorata, Francesca Pacelli. She’s the teen-aged daughter of Tony, the American manager of a luxury casino and night-club. Pacelli is a confidant of Meyer Lansky, among others in the nightlife enterprises of Havana in the late 1950’s. Hellmann has created a vibrant, colorful Cuba of the 1950’s on the brink of a revolution as Castro’s oppressive and revolutionary force move to take over the island nation.

The evolution of Francesca Pacelli from a headstrong hormonal teenager in exotic Cuba to a steely, self-assured Chicago matron, head of a far-flung business enterprise, is fascinating and very well handled. One can argue that the Angola device (you’ll have to read the novel for explanation) carries the principals far afield and is something of a distraction. Never mind. The central story is compelling and what gives this novel its fire and its depth of feeling, is the character movement. Consistent, logical, rising out of circumstances, Luis Perez and Frankie Pacelli set in motion both life-affirming and tragic, nearly inevitable violent confrontations set against the wider forces of the times.

The scope and sweep of this novel is spectacular, beginning in the 1950s and terminating in today’s difficult circumstances, from Cuba to Africa to Chicago. But over and over, Hellmann effectively brings the focus down to the individuals important to this narrative. Truly, a novel to be savored.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, October 2013.
Author of Red Sky, Devils Island, Hard Cheese, Reunion.

Book Review: Spellbinding by Maya Gold

Maya Gold
Point, April 2013
ISBN 978-0-545-43380-8
Trade Paperback

Oh, how we all longed for our 16th birthday!  It meant freedom in the form of a driver’s license.  No longer at the mercy of busy parents, or snarky older siblings; we could go where we wanted, when we wanted, all while listening to whatever we wanted to.  Good times.

Abby Silva had those very same expectations, but her sixteenth birthday brought wicked nightmares, skull-splitting headaches and strange sensations.  Maybe manifestations created from the stress of preparing for her driving portion of the exam.  Maybe she is bipolar.  Maybe she has a brain disease.  Or, maybe something that has been dormant inside of her since birth, is rapidly emerging.  Abby doesn’t know what the problem is, only that something very strange is happening.

Oddly enough, an extra-credit assignment to create a family tree leads Abby towards the answers.  While she knew a bit of her father’s background; her mother died when Abby was only eleven.  She knew very little of her mother’s ancestors.  Imagine her shock and disbelief when she discovers that she is a direct descendant of an alleged witch, destroyed by the people of Salem in 1692.  Further research leads Abby to believe that her kin’s witchcraft was very real.  Is this the answer?  Is Abby a witch?

With a new door opened, Abby recalls recent oddities.  Her fervent wish that her driving test parallel parking was good enough to pass, immediately followed by shock and disbelief as the red cone seemed to move closer to the car’s bumper.  Ever the student, Abby quickly hits the library to research the phenomenon.  Among the dusty reference books, she discovers a small book filled with hand-written spells.  There is clearly only one way to test her theory, but which spell to try?

As Abby dabbles with her newfound power, the witches of Salem take notice.  As with humans, there are good witches and there are very, very bad witches.  It is up to Abby to determine which is which.  The wrong choice will have adverse consequences on the entire town of Salem and its surrounding areas.  All along the way, temptations are ruthlessly tossed her way, keeping her in a state of flux and she works to seek the truth.

I enjoyed this fast-paced, suspenseful story tremendously.  On the surface, it could be said that it is about a young witch with a tough decision; but, to me, there is so much more.  I found this to be a book of self-discovery.  Abby’s struggles are very real-life.  In the book, her rise to popularity is due to witchcraft, but in the real world; all teens go through this roller-coaster ride of fitting in.  We all had a moment in the sunshine, in addition to time in the shadows.  Once we got what we wanted, we had to decide if we really wanted it after all.  We had to stop focusing on the surface lives of the beautiful people to look deep within ourselves.  We were given opportunities that seemed easy, with guarantees of success.  We also had harder choices, the ones with no guarantees.  We all had the same bottom line: if I make this choice, am I being true to myself?

Spellbinding is a fun read with characters that elicit empathy and support, as well as a mysterious, suspenseful plot.

Reviewed by jv poore, April 2013.