Evil Villain Contest ~ 4/30-5/4/13

SHOW US YOUR DARK SIDE!!!

An International Contest

Enough talk about the GOOD guys and heroes! It’s time for the VILLAINS to come out and celebrate! What would the heroes do without a bad guy? Wallow in self pity? Bask in a boring life without tension, excitement and crazy experiments to save the day? Villains get a bad rep but they’re in the spotlight and on center stage this week on Silk Screen Views!

TAKE YOUR PICK!

  1. Create a Villain!
    • Make up a Villain.
    • Give him, her or it a name and describe the most, evil villain of all time!
    • Make us cringe and shiver in fear!
  2. Your Favorite Villain!
    • Who is your favorite bad guy/gal/creature?
    • Tell us who or what it is and where the character is from. Real life? History? Book? Movie?
    • Spill the beans!

DC Comics Villains

The Prize

K.L. Schwengel really enjoys a great villain. The SSV Crew and K.L. wants to know about YOUR villainous characters!

WINNER or WINNERS will receive an eBook of First of Her Kind in a format of the winner’s choice.

Contest Rules:   4/30/13 – 5/4/13

  1. You must follow Silk Screen Views by WordPress or Email.
  2. Add a Comment Below with the Following Information:
    1. Your Name
    2. Email Address
    3. Create a Villain or Name Your Favorite!
    4. Leave a comment for K.L. Schwengel or Silk Screen Views.
  3. Winner/s will be Announced:  5/5/13
  4. Enjoy the Author Interview & Reviews! Links are posted at the end.
  5. Thanks for joining us!

o–o-o–o

Head over and read the Author Interview for K.L. Schwengel and see a bit of what’s behind the screen of the author. Read Bookaholic Olga’s review of  First of Her Kind and get a peek into the story.

Find out more about K.L. Schwengel and her work on her website.

Author Interview: K. L. Schwengel ~ First of Her Kind

Are you ready for another SSV Author Interview and Review series release? 

Yes? Let’s roll!

Bookaholic Olga had a chat with K.L. Schwengel, the author of fantasy novel First of Her Kind, and set up an insider’s look behind the screens into K.L.’s writing and life. Soo had so much fun reading the interview that she had to ask the author a few follow up questions that have been added to the whole. The links to enter the Evil Villain Contest, Olga’s book review for First of Her Kind and more are at the end of the post.

oo–o-o–oo

How long have you been writing? Why did you start?

I’ve been writing ever since I was a kid. In school, when I should have been taking notes, I was writing stories. Nothing really came of it. Then life intervened, and I followed my artistic muse instead. More life intervened, but I always wrote. The problem was: I never finished anything.

A handful of years ago I decided I was either going to get serious and finish what I started, or abandon it altogether. I found out abandoning it wasn’t an option. I’m not sure why I started. Probably because then, as now, there were all these characters running around in my head demanding I tell their tale. You can only keep them bottled up for so long.

You can’t abandon the stories. Which story or book did you finish first? Has it been published?

I honestly don’t remember the name of the first story I every finished. It was in the late 80’s probably. A fantasy, of course. I sent it off to Marion Zimmer Bradley for an anthology. It was rejected, but I received the most encouraging, personal hand-written rejection letter. Of course, I’ve unfortunately lost it. Both the rejection and the story.

How do you develop your plot and characters? What comes first, the plot or the characters? 

Usually it’s the character and a situation that come first. From that, I develop a plot. I’m a complete pantser. Although I generally do know the ending and have it written well before I’m done with the rest of the story.

I’m pretty sure I know what you mean by “pantser” but can you define it for us?

Pantser = I don’t outline. I start writing and let the story and characters take me where they will. I have an idea of where I’m going. Usually that’s just in my head (scarey place to visit, trust me!) although I will make notes, and jot down ideas. But there’s not chapter by chapter map.

Do you outline your stories first or do you follow your inspiration wherever it takes you?

I follow my erratic inspiration. I have an ‘idea’ of where I want to go, some signposts along the way, certain things I want to see happen—but as far as laying out what’s going to happen chapter by chapter, no such thing exists in my world. My characters have a habit of making a mess out of even the loosest outline.

What is harder for you to write: a Good guy/girl or a Villain? Why? 

It’s infinitely harder for me to write the good guy. Usually even my good guys end up slightly tarnished. I think because I see the truly good guys as… well… a bit boring.

*ducks*

Okay, I know, there are probably stellar examples of interesting good guys and gals, but if they don’t have that hint of villainy they lose me. Villains tend to get a bad rap, and most of them should. We tend to look at them as the guy in the Black Hat, and that’s all we see. But something, at some time, pushed them over the edge and made them choose that Black Hat. All of us, I think, have that potential and it’s rather fun to explore it in a safe and controlled environment.

Who is your favorite Villain?

Oh, that’s a tough one. The first one that pops into my head is Sikkukkut from C. J. Cherryh’s Chanur series. Villains who have that smooth, oily, feel–yeah, like that.

How did you come up with the title? Is the title important to you? 

Titles are always very important to me. For the longest time Between Darkness & Light was my working title, and among my Betas it was referred to as BD&L. I always knew that was more of a theme for the series, but I hadn’t settled on anything I liked for a title until I was nearly done with final rounds of editing. I heard a similar line in a song and it just clicked. It is, after all, what Ciara is.

What was the hardest part about writing this book for you? What was the easiest? 

The hardest part of writing this book (and, for me, any book) is finishing. That sounds like such a simple thing, you start, you finish. But I suffer from extreme rewriteritis. I tend to want to make every sentence perfect before moving on. I get mired in editing and rewriting, polishing and honing, before I ever get through. Then I lose interest and it goes into a file. I have to force myself, on the first draft, not to look back. Not to worry if things aren’t quite right. That’s what editing is for.

The easiest part… the second, third, fourth, fifth drafts. Okay, so maybe that wasn’t easy, but it was more fun. Because I had the structure, the bones, and now I got to start fleshing it out, adding details, and giving depth to characters and scenes.

Why did you end this story with a cliff hanger? Why not reward your protagonist for all her suffering and then start a new story about her in a new book?

Because not everything ends with Happily Ever After and because on a personal level, I’m a big fan of cliff hangers. Seriously. If The End is just that, I might fall out of love with the characters in the time between installments and have no real reason to pick up the next installment. But if I’m dying to know what comes next, if I’m left without complete resolution… it’s like having that desert tray next to the table and knowing I’m not allowed to touch it until I’ve finished my meal. The biggest reason, I suppose, is because Ciara’s story doesn’t end after Book One. This is just the beginning for her. One step in her journey. Bolin’s as well, though his story started long before First of Her Kind.

As a side note, I never really thought of the ending as a “cliff hanger” per se, so I’m surprised to hear it called that by several readers now. Surprised and, yes, a wee bit delighted.

Do you have a favorite cliff hanger?

Joe Abercrombie and any one of The First Law books.

What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing this book? 

That there’s a lot more of me in some of my characters than I care to admit. And also, I can put a lot of words down in a day when I’m on a roll.

You write fantasy. Do you think it needs research? What kind? 

Absolutely. At least for me, it does.

  • Food
  • Drink
  • Herbal Medicines
  • Weaponry
  • How far can a horse and cart travel in a day?

I’ve researched all of that. I’ve even gone so far as to check the etymology of words to make sure they fit. Even though I’m not creating historical fantasy, my world has a medieval feel to it, and I think it helps draw the reader in when certain details have familiarity to them. If everything is strange and unique, it’s like having too much to look at. Plus, *I* need to know. I sometimes get hung up in details, even when I’m not using them in the story.

So, yeah, research. A lot.

How many books/stories have you written? Which is your favorite? 

Well, if you’re talking finished… under ten. It’s very hard to pick a favorite. There is a fantasy piece due to come out in an anthology this summer that I’m quite fond of because I interjected a bit more humor into it. I love the characters in it and the interplay between them.

What is the name of the short story and the anthology that is coming out??

The story’s title is A Woman’s ScornThe anthology should be coming out mid-summer. I don’t think a final title has been decided on. Or, more likely, um . . . I just haven’t asked.

You made the decision to self-publish. Why? Did you consider going the traditional route? What are advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing in today’s publishing world?

A lot has been written on the topic of self-publishing vs. traditional. I did a couple blog posts myself when I made the decision. It wasn’t an easy one for me because I was a dyed in the wool traditionalist. Never, ever, was I going to stray from that path. I had my list of dream agents, my query letter polished, and had started First of Her Kind on the first set of rounds.

Ironically, research I was doing to find reasons NOT to go the independent route is what caused me to do just that. In the end, what it boiled down to was control. Yes, I’m a bit of a control freak. Being an independent allowed me to have my fingers in every aspect of my book’s success or failure.

The downside of that? I have my fingers in every aspect of my book’s success or failure. Truly the proverbial double-edged sword. You have to be okay with all the aspects of putting your book out there: marketing, book keeping, editing decisions, timelines, etc. But, a lot of that is falling on the authors even when they sign with one of the Big Six.

What do you like to do when you are not writing? 

Work my dogs. I raise Australian Shepherds and keep a small flock of sheep. I compete with my dogs in stock dog trials, and also help other folks train their dogs to do the same. I break that up with spending time with my family, camping, getting together with friends, and reading.

How did you get into raising and training Australian Shepherds?

As a child, one of my favorite authors was Albert Payson Terhune. He wrote books about Collies. I loved Collies and always wanted one — had a couple of mixes growing up. Through high school and college I got into riding horses. The lady that owned the stable where I rode raised Aussies. I fell in love with them and forgot all about Collies. I believe the heritage of a breed should be preserved. Aussies are working dogs. If I was going to have them, they were going to work. So we do. 🙂

What is your preference: Ebook or print? Why? 

As a reader or a writer?

As a reader, I love my Kindle for ease of packing and portability. But having an actual book in your hands—bending the spine back, carrying it with the cover curled over while you read and cook at the same time (please, don’t attempt this at home), actually turning the pages… and the smell of paper and ink… there’s nothing that compares to it.

As a writer, I love the physicality of the print book. Being able to sign it and hand it over to someone else has an immediacy and a tangibility about it that makes the relationship with the reader somehow more personal.

What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you? 

Oh boy, this is a tough one. I’m not sure there is anything really surprising about me, I’m rather normal. Well, normal in my definition of the word, I guess. I’m the youngest of nine children. Does that qualify as surprising? I write standing up, because my day job (yes, that pesky thing) keeps me on my butt nine hours a day. That might be something.

What’s the layout for you to write standing up? Do you stand at a counter? Adjustable platform desk?

My hubby made me a workstation. Basically a long counter that’s the right height. It’s not adjustable, but my secondary monitor is. I have a stool if I feel the need to perch, but usually don’t. I might add a balance board so I can <strike>fall off</strike> get some exercise while working. It’s important to stay physically fit, you know.

If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be? Why? 

Oh boy! Um… I think I would go with psychokinesis. Not because I’m lazy, but because I’m not as strong as I often think I am, and it would be great to be able to move things with thought alone.

Could you tell us a little about your future writing plans? 

I’m currently finishing up the first draft of Book Two in the Between Darkness & Light series. Emergence is longer and more involved than First of Her Kind. It is also a little darker in spots. You’ll see the relationships deepen. The characters are going through some changes that aren’t easy for them—or me. More characters are introduced and bring with them levels of tension (and humor) that may be unexpected. The ending is already written and, yes, there will be a third book.

Along with that, I’m working on an Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance that I’d like to have out by the end of the year as well. It’s a modern day tale involving angels, demons, and other supernatural sorts. The working title is Crossing Paths.

There are a couple other projects I’m involved in that should see fruition this summer.

Tell us something about First of Her Kind that is NOT in the blurb. 

Wow, this question is tougher than it seems. *drums fingers on keyboard* Okay, how about this? Ciara’s power, the one her aunt calls the wilding, first manifests itself when her mother dies. In grief and anger, Ciara strikes out against the unfortunate healer tending her mother. Her step-father pushes him aside, saving his life, but Ciara’s outburst still manages to destroy the side of their house.

oo–o-o–oo

Evil Villain Contest ~ Show your dark side!

Are you curious about First of Her Kind? Want a peek at the story and see what Olga thinks about it? Read Bookaholic Olga’s review of First of Her Kind!

Did the interview tease your brain about the author K.L. Schwengel? Find out more about her and her work on her website.

First of Her Kind ~ K.L. Schwengel

  • Title: First of Her Kind
  • Author: K.L. Schwengel
  • Series: A Darkness & Light #1
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Format: Kindle
  • Source: Author
  • Reviewed by: Olga
  • Rating: 3 out of 5

Description:  Everyone, it seems, wants to dictate what Ciara does with her life: Serve the Goddess, destroy the Goddess, do as you promised your aunt. All Ciara wants is to keep the two magics she possesses from ripping her apart.

And that won’t be easy.

Not only are they in complete opposition to each other, blood ties pull her in divergent directions as well. And then there’s Bolin, the man sworn to protect her. There’s no denying the growing attraction between them, but is it Ciara he wants? Or her power?

None of which will matter if Ciara can’t overcome her fear and learn to use her gifts.No one knows the depths of the ancient power she possesses, or what will happen if it manages to escape her control.

Will she lose herself entirely? Or be forever trapped between darkness & light?

Review:  I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I must admit that although I like fantasy, I prefer a lighter approach. This book firmly belongs to the dark fantasy subgenre, and the story’s grim intensity and sheer hopelessness made me drop a star from the rating. Someone else might rate it higher.

The protagonist Ciara is a young woman mage with two kinds of magic warring inside her mind. After her loving aunt dies, Ciara’s small and sheltered world shatters. Confused and grieving, lacking the training to control her conflicting powers, she tries to make sense of her life, to master both sides of her magic, while everyone around her tries to turn her into a meek puppet.

You recognize the trope, don’t you? An ignorant orphan, catapulted out of her safe existence into the dangerous waters of ambition and intrigue, to swim or sink as she might – that is the standard premise of many a fantasy novel. I deplore such a clichéd premise, but despite my objection to the setup, Ciara commanded my respect and affection from the beginning.

Brave and compassionate, she makes the best of the scary turmoil her life is rapidly becoming. Of course, she makes mistake, and costly ones too, but I wonder how anyone else would’ve fared with as little information as she gets. Any time she asks a question, her allies and foes alike ignore them or tell her: “You don’t need to know.” It makes her mad, understandably. It would’ve made me mad too.

The other characters of the novel are less well-defined, kind of blurry at the edges, and not nearly as sympathetic as Ciara. Bolin, a mysterious, self-righteous warrior, is supposed to be a good guy, Ciara’s protector, but his only concerns seem to be his honor and duty, not Ciara’s interests. On one hand, he cares for her, on the other, he never explains anything to her, just demands obedience.

When she inevitably rebels, her inept defiance leads to her and Bolin’s captivity with Donovan, the villain of the story. Like Bolin, Donovan has an agenda of his own involving Ciara. Like Bolin, he wants her compliant with his wishes, and like Bolin, he never explains himself. Donovan is a master dissembler, and his goals are never clear: neither to Ciara, nor to Bolin, nor to the reader. Donovan seems just a generic bad guy, blathering about world domination.

The male arrogance of both those men is staggering. They play their cat-and-mouse power game with each other, and Ciara is caught in the middle, tossed about like a leaf on the wind. She is desperately clinging to her free will, but her choices dwindle to nothing by the end of the book, which irritated me considerably.

The author writes in a clear, expressive language. Her editing is thorough, and her descriptions vivid. Perhaps too vivid, especially in her account of Bolin’s tortures. To tell the truth, I didn’t read those pages, just skimmed through them to get to the end of blood and gore, so I could start reading again. I didn’t relish this aspect of the book. It added tons of gloom to the story.

Neither did I enjoy the ceaseless obstacles in Ciara’s path: one after another, with no respite. The author is very inventive in her plot twists. She ruthlessly throws countless misfortunes at her protagonist, but after a while, the reader becomes inured to the heroine’s suffering. There should be lulls in the pain, breathers between explosions. As there were none, my emotional engagement kind-of stopped, replaced by idle curiosity: so how would she get out of this one?

The denouement of the book was disappointing: an obvious cliff hanger. Nothing was resolved, Ciara was not rewarded for her misery, and I felt cheated. I think such book endings have more to do with marketing strategy than with storytelling, to the detriment of all readers.

But despite all the flaws of this novel, I liked Ciara. I cared for her deeply, as if she was a living girl in the real world. I wanted her to thwart both those domineering men’s plans for her, to rub their noses and show them that she could find her way without their incessant machinations.  I wanted her to be happy.  Because of Ciara, I couldn’t give this novel less than 3 stars.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore ~ Robin Sloan

  • Title: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
  • Author: Robin Sloan
  • Genre: Contemporary, Literary, Mystery
  • Format: Audiobook
  • Source: Library
  • Reviewed by: DarthVal
  • Rating: 5 out of 5

Description:  The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone—and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead “checking out” impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore.

With irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan has crafted a literary adventure story for the twenty-first century, evoking both the fairy-tale charm of Haruki Murakami and the enthusiastic novel-of-ideas wizardry of Neal Stephenson or a young Umberto Eco, but with a unique and feisty sensibility that’s rare to the world of literary fiction. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave, a modern-day cabinet of wonders ready to give a jolt of energy to every curious reader, no matter the time of day.

Review: 
I can just imagine a group of nerdy, but hip guys sitting around, drinking beer, and solving all of the world’s problems. During the course of the conversation, they lament that no one has ever truly written a book designed to appeal to fantasy-reading, dungeons & dragons playing media techno-geeks who have a deep appreciation for cheesy 80’s movies. Clearly, one of those guys thought the idea still sounded good after the buzz wore off and decided to go for it. That book is called Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. How do I know that it probably went down like that? We sense our own kind (except the “guy” part).

I love this book! While I found a lot of geek culture references to be highly amusing, I can see where the mass market audience might not get the humor. Also, the abundance of high tech references will date this work quickly. I don’t care, I still love it. In fact, the potential lack of appeal to the masses may make me like it even more – they DID buy into Twilight, ’nuff said.

The main character, Clay, is so nerdy, but lovable. I absolutely love the way that as he pulls his friends into the mysteries of Mr. Penumbra’s shop, he thinks of them in terms of D&D roles. I sympathize with his struggle to find his place as an adult. It is like the bookstore provides a safe refuge from the fickle and chaotic storm of corporate America in down-size mode.

The excitement of Clay’s merry little band of misfits is palpable as they try to solve the Penumbra’s puzzle. There are no explosions or assassination attempts, and yet this book is chock full of adventure, albeit a dorky one.

Whether you are a hard-core geek, or geek-light, I recommend you read this sooner rather than later to get the most bang out of the pop culture buck. What are you waiting for? Go get it. Shoo!

Darkship Thieves ~ Sarah A. Hoyt

  • Title:  Darkship Thieves
  • Author:  Sarah A. Hoyt
  • Genre:  Science Fiction
  • Format:  eBook
  • Source:  Own Copy
  • Reviewed by: Sonja
  • Rating:  4 out of 5

Description:  Athena Hera Sinistra never wanted to go to space. Never wanted see the eerie glow of the Powerpods. Never wanted to visit Circum Terra. Never had any interest in finding out the truth about the DarkShips. You always get what you don’t ask for. Which must have been why she woke up in the dark of shipnight, within the greater night of space in her father’s space cruiser, knowing that there was a stranger in her room. In a short time, after taking out the stranger–who turned out to be one of her father’s bodyguards up to no good, she was hurtling away from the ship in a lifeboat to get help. But what she got instead would be the adventure of a lifetime–if” she managed to survive. . .

Review:  Who wants to be blessed with the name Athena Hera Sinistra? Quite the mouthful. And so much heritage to live up to. I mean seriously . . . Athena? Hera? AND Sinistra?

At any rate . . . This is an intriguing story with some fascinating ideas. The story begins with Thena sleeping as she travels with her father aboard his spaceship. She is awakened by a stealthy intruder and manages to knock him out. She recognizes him as one of her father’s ‘thugs’. As she quietly investigates the remainder of the ship, she discovers her father in the medical bay, knocked out. She hears more ‘thugs’ searching for her, so she makes it to a lifepod and separates from the ship, thinking she will escape to Circum Terra and return to rescue her father. Unfortunately, her plan is thwarted as she hears a broadcast, in her father’s voice, saying that she is drugged up and having hallucinations. So, instead of Circum Terra, she flees into the dangerous powertrees. Once there, she literally runs into a Darkship, thought to be a myth, harvesting powerpods. The pilot, one Christopher (Kit) Bartolomeu Klaavil, an Enhanced Life Form (ELF) called a cat, enhanced to see in very dark conditions. . . . See . . . the Darkships need people who can see in the dark to pilot them . . .

Ahem. At any rate, ELF Cat Klaavil has now rescued an earthworm. Neither person’s parent planet is likely to welcome both of them. The Terrans believe the Darkships to be a myth. Even if they were real, they would not be welcome on Circum Terra as ELFing is against the law with the penalty of death. And, the Edenites are terrified the Terrans will discover their existence and wipe them out. Therein, our story actually begins as Thena tries to make a way for herself amongst the population of a planet that does not truly trust her and tries to find a way to go home.

The story proposes some very interesting ideas and reaches some very interesting conclusions about our, as a planet, inevitable future. It discusses the idea of a few men (and make no argument, they ARE men) governing and controlling a much larger population and the results of doing so. Eden, on the other hand, is governed by very little actual government. It has few laws (not even traffic laws!) and is, instead, guided by ‘tradition’. (The descriptions of Thena’s rides in the air cars are absolutely priceless, especially to those of us who have taught teens to drive.)

In addition, the narrative explores the morality of ELF and ‘bio’ing – basically genetically manipulation to achieve the desired fetus – and how the general population may (or may not) react to such things. The populations of the two planets are on polar opposites of the ideas, and it is engrossing to see the author’s viewpoints and resolutions. It also fascinates because, well, unfortunately, I see too much validity here. It is nice to see an author bringing my conspiracy theories to life. 😀

I really enjoyed this story. I found it a refreshingly different, if not unique, approach to a tale. I mean, seriously, there are very few new ideas under the sun, and it is always fun to see an author take some ideas and wrap them up in different paper. Thena is a very scrappy young lady is quite used to fighting her way through situations. Even though she argued incessantly with her father and his rules, she desperately desires to make sure he is ok. Kit has a stable life, yet still has secrets he is not willing to share. You can probably guess where this leads. And, you would be correct. However, the ride along the way is enjoyable and both characters are quite likeable. The conversations have just enough snark to entertain me. And, I really liked the idea of ‘Eden’. Ms. Hoyt’s development of the refuge was fascinating and set my mind a jumping. I always appreciate a narrative that makes me think, “What if . . .?”

I give this book 4 stars. I’m holding off reading the next book until I see a synopsis for book three because I am not completely convinced I like where the story is going. I really like this story and its characters and hope to continue once book three is released.

As a very brief afterword, I have to wonder, how *I*, an avid *dog* person, keeps reading books about cats:  Kitty Katt, wereCats, Cat Kit Klaavil. I suppose none of these situations would be better served by a canine reference . . . but still . . . .

Lust, Money, and Murder ~ Mike Wells

  • Title: Lust, Money, and Murder
  • Author: Mike Wells
  • Series: Book 1, Lust
  • Genre: Thriller/Crime
  • Format: Kindle
  • Source: Author
  • Reviewed by: Mark Matthews
  • Rating: 2.9 out of 5

Description:  This book begins with a young and naive Elaine Brogan as she initially pursues her dream of a career as a photomodel. After becoming entangled with a sleazy modeling agency, she decides to become a Secret Service agent, struggling through the arduous training academy. After her first disastrous assignment, she is transferred to Bulgaria. There, she meets Nick LaGrange, the love of her life.

Review: 
First off, the title and the cover art alone would have put me off from reading this book. The cheese factor was too high. But I picked it up after reading some positive reviews, and one which specially said they had my same concern but read the book and enjoyed it.

The story goes of a young woman who has an incredibly dedicated father who makes some shady moves and breaks some laws to fund her private schooling. The young woman then dreams of becoming a model, (isn’t that why we all go to private school?) but when she falls victim to a scam, and then tragedy strikes the family, she trains to be a CIA agent and exact revenge.

The story is engaging enough and moves fairly quickly and pulls you along. Based on perhaps the most simplistic, straight forward, ‘remove the flowers and cut off any bit of fat‘ narrative you may ever read, my eyes breezed through each page. There are many books I can read while watching a baseball game. This was certainly one of them.

I found something a bit paradoxical about a strong, young adult heroine who’s dream it is to become a model. It didn’t fit. This is certainly no Lisbeth Salander. Yes, freedom and strength means being who you want to be, but this made her seem too superficial to root for as much as I had hoped.

Of course, it is after tragedy hits her family, and she decides to join the CIA that some real strength comes out. There are some awkward romance moments, both awkward for the main character, and awkward for the reader. (Educate me as the SSV token male here: Do women really look for the ‘bulge’ in mens’ pants as she does in the story? Maybe that’s your little secret. If so, feel free to remain silent.)

The book, by the way, does not end. There is no climax. This is not a novel, this is a part of a book. Sure, you know going in that it’s a series, but even in a series the book should stand on its own. In this story, you hear about something that ‘may go down’, and then the book ends. And in what feels like 3 spaces after the last period, there’s a link to buy his next book. (Most self-respecting authors wait at least 4 spaces for such a link.)

I felt like the main character did when the modeling company scammed her and ran off with her money. If I join the CIA, I will track down the author and ask him if this was his initial intention. Does he have ‘trilogy fever?’ A terrible diagnosis that has been a plague ever since Tolkien wrote a trilogy and now everyone feels they have to follow suit. The print length of ‘book 1’, by the way, is just 106 pages, which is more suitable to the first 1/3 of a book rather than the first book in a trilogy.

With all of that said, I am actually curious about what happens next. The story made me care enough to want to know, which is what a good story is supposed to do. And that is what I would call this novel; good, concrete storytelling and a light read that many will enjoy.