girl clour lindaThe Girl Who Could Change Colour is the first in a super new series of YA paranormal fiction from exciting author Linda Dent Mitchell. Our heroine is teenager Lizzarda Lexx who is headstrong yet also very vulnerable, having been orphaned young and then sent into a string of homes and foster care. She’s a tough cookie but not as impervious to her own and other people’s feelings as she tries to make out.

She finds herself in the small town of Little-Riddell with the Swallow family in their aptly named house, Swallow’s Rest. Sally Swallow is a wonderful foster-mother, kind, understanding and patient. She already has two foster-children under her wing, Lulu and Nathan, the latter who doesn’t take to Lizzarda and has a few problems of his own.

Little-Riddell is dead boring as far as Lizzarda’s concerned, so when a group of ‘undesirables’ start appearing regularly in the park, they become a focus of her attention. At least they’re exciting. However, Lizzarda soon finds she’s out of her depth but fortunately her strange, new ability comes into play just in time. Linda can change colour to blend into her surroundings. However, this ability also causes problems, not least of which is to make her feel as though she’ll never fit in.

How will she cope with her uniqueness? Will she use it for good or sinister reasons? And what do other people really think of her? This novella, that touches on difficult issues such as fostering and underage drinking, sensitively explores this unusual teenager’s psyche and introduces us to a very complex yet likeable character. I look forward to her future adventures as there’s a lot more to Lizzarda than meets the eye.

Only a very interesting author could come up with such an interesting story, so I had to find out more about Linda. I asked her some questions about this book, her writing and herself.

Linda_MitchellWhat inspired you to write The Girl Who Could Change Colour?

I was inspired to write The Girl Who Could Change Colour because I was interested in how a troubled teenage girl might overcome her problems. As the story unfolds Lizzarda discovers how her ‘amazing powers’ can not only be used to her advantage, but also the advantage of others. The combination of these things, and the events which take place in the subsequent books change the way Lizzarda values herself and other people.

Was it an easy story to write? After all, you deal with some quite tough issues such as foster care and underage drinking.

I don’t think any story is easy to write – not for me anyway. The death of Lizzarda’s  parents, foster care and the underage drinking are issues that she struggles with. In time, her ‘amazing powers’, and the people she grows to trust help her to deal with these issues.

Did you design the cover yourself?

The book cover was a collaborative creation. I’m from an art background. I trained in textile design and worked in a design studio for thirteen years. I also taught art and design in schools having gained a BA, MA and a PhD. I work with a digital designer called Jacqueline Abromeit. I send her my ideas for the covers, she interprets them, sends them back, then we finalise the details. This is the fourth book cover she’s done for me and she gets it right every time!

Which character from the book are you most like? Lizzarda? Mrs Swallow? Hopefully not one of the Hoodies!?

I’m probably most like Lizzarda in that I have her independent streak. I looked similar to her when I was younger (but I didn’t have body piercings and multi-coloured hair. I’m from a different generation and those things weren’t as accepted as they are now).  That’s where the similarity ends because (fortunately) I came from a happy loving family and didn’t leave home until I was twenty five.

Who’s your favorite character and why?

As well as Lizzarda, I’m quite fond of Lulu Lang. She’s so bubbly, happy and friendly. Unlike Lizzarda she’s grateful for her new home at Swallows’ Rest – and for the care her new foster parents are giving her.

What are you working on now? Will it be out soon?

I’m working on a few things: The second book in the Lizzarda trilogy, and the third book in my Oribliss castle series for 9-12 year olds. I’m working towards these two books being published this year. As I’m a very creative person, I have lots of notebooks on the go and other titles ‘in progress’.

Which authors or books are you reading at the moment?

I read all sorts of things. As well as children’s books I read lots adult books. I love mystery, suspense, fantasy, paranormal and murder mysteries. I also like ‘tongue in cheek’ humour. I love my new Kindle Fire! I think it’s a brilliant invention. It’s opened up a new world for readers and writers and I download lots of sample chapters to see what books are like. I generally have a few books on the go, then dependent on my mood I can switch from one to the other. I love to give new authors a try. I recently saw an ad in a national newspaper, a book for teens called Fugitive by Louise Miles, so I downloaded a sample, decided I liked it and bought it.

When did you first realise you wanted to be an author?

I never decided that I wanted to be an author. It sort of ‘came upon me’. My art and design background and my educational studies led me to it. I used to get lots of inspiration for my painting and drawing from literary themes, and then a few years ago I suddenly started writing. My biography is on my website www.ldmitchell.com which gives more details about myself and my books.

What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors, adults or children?

If I was to give advice to self published authors it would be similar to that given to me by my PhD supervisors: KEEP GOING. A true professional never gives up. Don’t cut corners! You need a good book cover, a good story, and a punchy website – and the work MUST be professionally edited and proof-read. Use social networking sites, respond to emails and interview requests, advertise in your local area. You need to be visible – if you’re not no one will know your work exists. The hardest part is marketing your work independently, this is one of the disadvantages of self-publishing. I’d also keep trying to get a mainstream publisher, but if you’re lucky someone might find you.

OK, enough of the serious stuff. What are the three favorite things in your wardrobe?

zebraNow that’s a hard one! My wardrobe is overloaded (so is my jewellery box) as I’m a bit of a hoarder. So I’ll say what my favourites are at the moment: The first is my all-in-one that I wear in the evenings. It’s a zebra with a hood and pink ears (no – it doesn’t have a tail) You may smile, but with all this extremely cold weather, and living in a two-hundred-year-old cottage with fluctuating heating, it’s a garment that I look forward to wearing. The second are a pair of black leather shoes that a bought from Dune. There’s something very witchy about them. They’re very plain, with a tiny heel, laces, and a little pointed toe. I’m struggling on my third…but I do like my green tourmaline and diamond ring…

What food can’t you resist?

Easy – a cool glass of wine at the end of the day. White or rose are my favourites. I also like chocolate. I’m veggie so I like fresh fruit, salads, pasta and rice dishes.

Describe your perfect day out

This is another one that’s easy for me to answer. I love a day out by myself – no Kindle – no telephones. I like market towns and cultural cities. I enjoy wandering round streets, window shopping and going for lunch. My daughter lives in Leeds so I love to meet up with her. We always have a restaurant booked in advance – and because I don’t drive on those days I can have a glass of wine…or two!

 

pipelinePipeline by Christopher Carolli is a tense paranormal thriller, the first in a series. A pipeline is when the dead attempt to communicate with the living through technology such as television, phone or computer. This is what happens to Tracy, whose fiancé David died in a car crash six months ago. She suffers from survivor’s guilt since she was in the car too but survived. And suddenly she hears David’s voice on the television, hears his favourite song on the radio which tunes itself and gets silent phone calls from an unknown number. She needs help, but not from a psychiatrist. Her friend Marcia points her towards a group of paranormal investigators. They attempt to solve the mystery of what David is trying to tell Tracy but time may be running out.

This is an extremely exciting and well written book. You’re on the edge of your seat all the way through. Carolli has created some intriguing, complex characters for us to discover. Not just Tracy but everyone we meet has an interesting background and a persuasive reason for being involved in this paranormal investigation. It’s far from being another ghost story. This is a gritty, gripping, modern novel with an ending that is far from predictable. It’s a brilliant and thought provoking start to what looks like being an excellent series.

 

bluemoonThe Blue Moon Café: Where Shifters Meet to Drink by Ioana Visan is a collection of seven short paranormal stories. The short story is not an easy genre to market, especially given the proliferation of novellas these days. However, this collection works almost as a short novel, given the unifying underlying theme of shifters, and the characters who are common throughout, although the disparity in the stories’ lengths mean they don’t really equate to chapters. Werewolves – mutts – and the less common were-eagles who double up as crows are the main characters we meet, but there are humans and “smoking hot vampires” too. The Mayor is trying to keep things calm in his town with a rather volatile mix of different shifter species and has various levels of success.

There are plenty of humourous touches and lots of imagination in evidence in these quirky, tightly plotted stories. There’s romance, tension, craziness, suspense, threat. Each story in the collection has a slightly different tone, from comedy in Once in a Blue Moon, with the added moral of ‘be careful what you buy off someone in a bar’, to tension and conflict in A Mutt Problem, to definite foreboding yet optimism in The Day We Shot the Moon out of the Sky. The various characters are sparsely yet adequately portrayed. This author concentrates her writing energy where it matters most – in creating atmosphere and entertainment. The book would benefit hugely from a more original title. There is a sea of books with Blue Moon Café in the title, many of them collections of short stories, and I worry that this book could drown in them. It deserves to stand out from the crowd. Sadly, the cover doesn’t do the book full justice either and doesn’t reflect the class and quality of Ioana Visan’s writing. But this is definitely a book worth reading.

silver sphereThe Silver Sphere (The Kin Chronicles) by Michael Dadich is exciting YA fantasy. Shelby, Zach and four other youngsters are unexpectedly called to help the planet Azimuth and are transported to Meridia, one of its countries. They discover that each of them is Kin to a member of Azimuth’s Aulic Assembly all of whom have been captured by the wicked Malefic of the Nightlanders, who personifies the ancient evil Biskara. The humans – the Kin who are linked to the assembly by psychic links – inherit the special abilities of the assembly member they replace and have to lead the battle to keep Azimuth, and ultimately also Earth, out of the hands of the enemy. They need the help of the Silver Sphere to do this, an armillary sphere, an old astronomical device, that gives the co-ordinates of where to find Biskara, so it’s crucial to them. But only the Assembly members can operate it.

This is a very interesting and entertaining story. The Kin, none of them particularly special or promising to begin with, rise to the challenge they are suddenly faced with quickly and develop strengths and qualities they never knew they had. They prove to have been good choices. Azimuth is a fascinating new world for us to discover, with much that is good as well as true evil in the form of the Nightlanders. We meet witches and demons too. The story is gripping and has depth to it. Fantasy and science fiction intermingle to create a complex plot that moves at a sharp pace and grabs your attention from the very beginning. There’s more to come in this series which is already a very impressive addition to this genre.

 

 

 

The recent release of the film World War Z, based on Max Brooks’ novel, has brought zombies to the forefront of literary attention again. They’re perennially popular with some readers, although for a long while it’s been a case of love ‘em or hate ‘em. However, there seem to be many shades of zombies now, so some should appeal to all tastes.

I came across my favorite zombie in Nicholas Forristal’s The Chronicles of M, if ‘favorite’ is a word it’s OK to use in connection with an undead monster. This book is a fabulous combination of thriller, the paranormal, sci-fi, demons, fantasy, dark humour, action and, obviously, zombies. As well as being so successfully multi-genre, this book is one of the not-so-many examples of really effective writing in the present tense. This can trip up so many authors, but Nick Forristal isn’t one of them. In his hands, the present tense brings immediacy and atmosphere to his writing. He also handles multiple points-of-view expertly. This is something that can set some readers off on a rant when it’s disjointed and intrusive. However, with this author, as we move from one narrator to another, all that happens is that we see the full complexity of the action and characters he’s created.

M, apparently a young sociopath, has been possessed by a demon, a soul eater. Retiree agent Samuel Horne is called in by Thomas, a man he’s never met before, to help control the unexploded bomb that M represents. He’s practically unmanageable and wreaks havoc whilst fighting evil with methods that aren’t sometimes that far off evil themselves. It’s hard going for Samuel. He encounters zombies, of whom Uhler, now a doctor, is a very unique example. He’s a Stage 5 zombie. I’m not going to explain so you’ll just have to read the book to find out about that and the other four stages. Samuel is introduced to the underground facility that houses M and his various support staff, much against his better judgement, although he does meet the likeable ditzy although highly intelligent Dixie and the accident prone coats (scientists). As repugnant as the demonised M is, he reaches out to Samuel who can’t give up on his mission to help M regain his humanity, especially once he learns the truth about M.

As well as being a hugely entertaining work of imaginative fiction, it’s also only the first in a series. The second book is coming out very soon, so it is definitely time to read The Chronicles of M. That way you’ll be ready to pounce on the following instalment of the chronicles the moment they’re published. And you will not be disappointed … I can guarantee that.

It’s not just me that likes the book. Check out the trailer to see who else recommends it …

Troll or Derby is a crazy, quirky, high-energy fairy tale that’s modern yet traditional at the same time. It has trolls and faes but not like you’ve ever seen them before. They have 21st century attitude and attributes. The heroine, and one of the book’s narrators, is Deb. We meet her briefly as a child when in some way she is pledged to the troll Harlow, who becomes her close companion, but most of the action takes place now she is 15. Her hopeless mother expects her to look after her older sister, pretty much full-time, and the story starts fittingly with Deb rescuing Gennifer from a blazing caravan. That’s a suitably disturbing opening for a novel about a somewhat dystopian fantastical society with corrupt cops, crime and disillusionment, stupidity, and a rather stiflingly inbred population. The only place Deb feels happy is on the skating rink. Deb is top-class roller skater, a skill that’s going to come in useful as well as keep her sane in her crazy world.

The author has a wicked sense of humour, with Sk8r Boi leprechauns, some exaggerated violence and off-the-wall characters. Add this to the requisite paranormal features of prophecies to fulfil, orphans planted on human families, otherworldly characters, magic and the fight between good and evil, and you get a very entertaining read in a popular genre. Red Tash keeps the pace high, and swaps the veiwpoint from Deb to Harlow throughout, which adds an extra dimension to the story. The language is modern and gritty, making for one very original and down-to-earth fantasy.

 

Thrall by Jennifer Quintenz is a zesty and very enjoyable YA paranormal novel. The opening seems a little conventional. We meet teenager Braedyn, bright and gutsy but a bit of a social misfit, against the usual background of American high school with the moody beauties and aloof good looking guys. However, suddenly a handsome new neighbour, Lucas, arrives on the scene and sticks up for her at school. Up to now there’d always been just Dad and Braedyn. He’s never talked much about her mother, whom Braedyn never knew, despite her thousands of questions. But suddenly circumstances change and Dad is forced to tell Braedyn the truth. This is where the author stops teasing us and shows what an original novel she’s created. Suddenly Braedyn learns that there are humans and hunters and guards and Lilitu, demons, in the world, and she’s very, very involved in all this. The crucial question for her now is can a demon ever turn out good? Can a demon ever become human? She has to find out.

This is very much a character-driven story with plenty of action and fast-paced, authentic dialogue. Braedyn, like her friends, and enemies, is a typical modern kid, a little more complicated than most, but ready and able to face up to massive challenges. She develops throughout the novel, as do all the other main figures. Dad, Murphy, moves from shadowy parent to a strong leader, and Lucas becomes way more than the boy next door. Events twist and turn and keep us all guessing in this well thought-out story. And good news – it’s only  the start of a series!

Into the Hourglass by Kelly Marino is one of those unexpected gems it’s a thrill to discover. It’s a fabulous story in the paranormal genre and fortunately just the first of a trilogy. It’s feisty, bright, organized Franny’s nineteenth birthday and she gets a present she didn’t foresee from her parents – the news that she’s not their child. That explains some of her strange qualities, and also the reason that she faints and enters into another realm with two strangers, a young man, Mike, and a young pregnant woman, Abigail, who is not what she seems at all. Oh yes, and it’s 1693 too. That’s a lot to handle but Franny is made of stern stuff – very stern, immortal stuff and is well able to join in the fight against Yorvik, a merciless killer with a long-lived, anti-immortal grudge, and do her bit to ensure humanity remains a viable species.

It’s a book that’s gritty and gripping, tender and terrifying, romantic and horrific, but above all fresh and incredibly well written. It’s all so plausible and persuasive, paranormal as it is. Marino has an amazing way with words and creates some truly exciting situations and likeable characters. Franny has enough attitude to make her interesting but not obnoxious, and although she’s courageous, she’s scared too and makes mistakes. She’s a good person. There’s a lot of goodness in this book, which is a refreshing change. It’s not soppy, it’s an affirmation of what’s good about humans to make them worth protecting, even if history may have to change a little. I can’t wait for the next book in the series.

Find it here on Smashwords.

Out of the Ashes by Lori Dillon is a wonderful combination of romance and history with a dash of the paranormal for good measure. It’s one of those books you can’t put down. It’s a simple yet clever story of love through time. Due to Marsha and Hershel, two bungling yet likeable angels who enjoy bingo, Male 2028 and Female 5293 don’t get to enjoy the loving life together they’re meant to have. Their first reincarnations are as Dacian the gladiator and Sabina the well-born politician’s niece in Pompeii in AD79. Ironically the erupting volcano both frees the pair of them from their restricted lifestyles, yet entombs them in each other’s arms. Nothing daunted,  the angels try again but there are other slip-ups. They have a final chance in war torn Italy in 1943 with Serafina the archaeologist, and David Corbin, working for the Allies. Surely they’ll get it right this time, won’t they? Shadows of the past play a helping hand.

This is a delightfully fresh yet poignant tale. The characters are so real and alive. Nothing seems contrived. The action unfolds at a good pace, with pauses at the sadder moments. Division becomes a strong motif in the book. People are divided from each other by social class, nationality, circumstance and politics. The world is divided by wars. Yet there is a way the divisions can be overcome, but it’s not easy, even if Senior Guardian Angel Smithers is on the case!

Demon Soul by Christine Ashworth isn’t run-of-the-mill paranormal. Ashworth has taken the genre and given it refreshingly original treatment. We have Rose Walters, who has made a bit of a mess of  her life so far and nearly died, being given a chance to come back so she can save Gabriel Caine. Gabriel and his brother Justin are suspicious of her at first as they can sense that she is more than human now. So is Gabriel. He and Justin are tribreds, a mixture of human, demon and fae. Throw in Gabriel’s ex, Satine, who has taken something he desperately needs back, and you have a very interesting story as Rose and Gabriel join forces to solve the very dangerous problem that faces him.

It’s a gritty story. Rose is no angel with a history of drug abuse. But she’s courageous and likeable and very determined. She learns what family love can be like and that’s very heartwarming. All the characters have depth that makes them fascinating. They’re all flawed which makes them all the more human and sympathetic. You get drawn into their conflicts and really care what happens to them. And it helps that some of them are rather sexy too! The plot is far from predictable in this battle of good versus evil. The book is confidently and persuasively written. It’s no problem to suspend your disbelief and accept the paranormal as completely normal. There are more books to come in this series which is seriously good news.