Heroines of Fantasy: Miss November

November has arrived! I hope everyone had a fun Halloween. This month’s fantasy feature is a spooky follow-up to the holiday, and I chose her because I’ve been watching Ghost Whisperer lately. 😀

Image credit: CBS Television Studios

Melinda Gordon

Melinda (played by Jennifer Love Hewitt) has been able to see ghosts since she was a child. It’s a gift passed down in her family, and her grandmother taught her how to use it to help earthbound spirits resolve issues so they can cross over into the light. One thing I loved about the first season is Melinda doesn’t start off having to keep her gift a secret. She’s recently married to Jim Clancy, who knows all about her gift and supports her desire to help ghosts, though he sometimes wishes she didn’t have it because some spirits try to hurt her. Melinda’s best friend, Andrea, also knows about her gift and thinks it’s pretty cool.

Melinda is kind-hearted and really feels for the dead. Even at the risk of being laughed at or called a freak, she tries to bring peace to the ghosts’ loved ones. It’s not always easy, and sometimes those earthbound spirits in their confused state cause some scary shit. But with her husband and best friend by her side, she can face anything…even when dark spirits start to take an unhealthy interest in her soul…

~

Anyone fans of Ghost Whisperer? I don’t normally like scary stuff, and a few episodes creeped me out, but more often the stories brought tears to my eyes. It’s a very moving series I’d recommend checking out.

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Heroines of Fantasy: Miss June

Welcome to our sixth installment of this series where I feature kick-ass heroines from the fantasy genre. This month I have a slightly different type of heroine for you. Meet Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle. (For the sake of this post, I’ll be referring to the movie, as the movie and book take completely different plot turns.)

sophieSophie

Sophie is a hat maker. She’s 18, but has taken over her father’s shop so her younger sister can be free to do what she wants. Sophie is responsible, hard working, and plucky when she has a mind to be. She also has very low self-esteem. In fact, she thinks she’s so ugly, that not even the dreaded wizard Howl would deign to eat her heart.

At this point you might be exchanging wary glances with each other. Sophie is our heroine? This mouse of a girl who lives a boring life while her sister goes out and has all the fun? Well now, the story gets better. Or worse, for Sophie.

Grandma SophieThe wicked Witch of the Waste comes to visit Sophie’s shop, and in a rare moment of Sophie showing some of that pluck, she shows the sleazy witch the door. Oops, don’t piss off a mean old witch. Sophie is then cursed and transformed into an old woman. Horrified, she quickly leaves town and heads into the wild. It’s a slow journey, as her bones creak and she gets tired easily.

You’re still wondering why I picked her as our monthly heroine? Okay, here’s the deal. Sophie may not be a vampire or demon slaying chick who wields swords or guns, but she’s got brains. She finds the wizard Howl’s castle and makes a pact with the fire demon inside to help break each other’s curses. And when Howl shows up wanting to know who she is, she claims she’s the new cleaning lady.

Even in an old woman’s body, Sophie still battles traps by the Witch of the Waste, evil sorcerers, and encroaching war. But here’s what I think truly makes her a heroine worthy of our feature—sometimes the hardest obstacle to overcome is ourselves. Sophie may not think she has much to offer the world or anyone, but in the end, she doesn’t need to be saved by a dashing hero. She can save herself. And him. 😉

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Cover Reveal: Darkness Taunts

It’s a celebration of cover reveals on the blog this week! Darkness Taunts is the sequel to Darkness Haunts, a kick-ass urban fantasy featuring a heroine who is in most ways, plain human. Except for the fact she’s a sensor, able to detect magic and neutralize it. Melena isn’t a damsel in distress, however. This ex-military chick knows enough moves to give you a good beating…or just shoot you. Anyway, on to the cover, which is GORGEOUS, and a sneak peek excerpt.

Darkness Taunts by Susan Illene

Book two of The Sensor Series

Cover Design: Phat Puppy Art w/typography by Bookish Brunette

Expected Release Date: June 30th, 2013

Add the book to your To-Read list on Goodreads.

 Darkness Taunts - final copy

BLURB:

Melena Sanders has managed to avoid all things inhuman for most of her life, but after coming to Fairbanks, Alaska to rescue her best friend from supernaturals she hasn’t been allowed to leave. That is, until her long-time nemesis comes to collect a favor she owes him. Lucas might be half angel, but he’s all bad as far as she’s concerned.

Paying him back might get her out of town for a while, but her new destination will be anything but enjoyable. Mel’s got to help the nephilim take care of a demon possession outbreak in Juneau. Although something like this hasn’t happened for thousands of years, Lucas is certain Melena’s rare abilities are the key to solving the problem.

With violence in the capital city growing, she’s going to have to figure out how to stop it fast before the trouble spreads to other places. Not only that, but working closely with Lucas is changing the dynamics of their hate-hate relationship—worrying her even more than the demons. Getting back to her captivity in Fairbanks never looked so good.

EXCERPT:

Lucas climbed into the passenger seat. Though his large frame took up a lot of space, he still looked comfortable, in control. There were no delays leaving the airport. The whole thing had been arranged for a quick and smooth pick-up. I wasn’t used to Lucas being so accommodating.

“Did you eat?” he asked.

“Yeah, Emily and I went out to a restaurant earlier.”

He glanced over at me. “You didn’t feel like poisoning her with your cooking before you left?”

I fiddled with his navigation system—might as well get the lay of the land. “That joke got old a long time ago.”

“I wasn’t joking,” he said. “Leave the GPS alone.”

I switched to scanning the radio stations. “Where are we going?”

He nudged my hand away from the controls and shut it off. “To my cabin. We made some progress during your absence. I want you rested and ready to help interrogate a demon first thing in the morning.”

A thrill went through me. My job in the military had been as an interrogator and I was damned good at it with my lie detecting abilities. Plus I’d gained a lot of experience during my combat tours. “You got one?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said. “I’ve worked on him already, but he hasn’t revealed anything of value…yet.”

I shot him a disgruntled look. “You should have waited for me.”

“Time was of the essence, sensor. You’ll get your chance.”

“Then why not go talk to him tonight?” I asked.

“Demons are at their strongest during the hours of darkness. You’ll have better luck after dawn.”

“Fine.” I sat back and tried to admire the snow covered mountains. They would be easier to see during the day, but the moon lit them up enough for me to catch brief glimpses as we drove.

“Sensor,” Lucas broke the silence. “The next time I call…pick up the damned phone. Do not make me come in person to speak with you.”

“That’ll give me incentive,” I said. The pompous ass. He wouldn’t threaten me and get away with it. I let a couple of minutes go by.

“Do you know why I’m glad you never call me by my real name?” I asked.

We were stopped at a traffic light. I’d waited for that. He turned to look at me and raised a blond brow. “I suppose you’re going to tell me.”

I studied my fingernails. “Yesterday, when I heard you say Melena for the first time it gave me chills. It was like the devil himself had walked over my grave and spit on it. I’d rather you not say it again.”

The light turned to green. He jerked his attention back to the road. Lucas was a master at keeping his emotions in check, but he still gripped the wheel a little tighter than before.

 

 Pick up the first book in the series, Darkness Haunts, at Amazon, B&N, and Kobo.

photo of SusanABOUT SUSAN:

Instead of making the traditional post high school move and attending college, Susan joined the U.S. Army. She spent her eighteenth birthday in the gas chamber…an experience she is sure is best left for criminals. For eleven years she served first as a human resources specialist and later as an Arabic linguist (mostly in Airborne units). Though all her duty assignments were stateside, she did make two deployments to Iraq where her language skills were put to regular use.

After leaving the service in 2009, Susan returned to school to study history with a focus on the Middle East. She no longer finds many opportunities to test her fighting abilities in real life, unless her husband is demanding she cook him a real meal, but she’s found a new outlet in writing urban fantasy heroines who can.

CONNECT WITH SUSAN ONLINE:

Website- www.darknesshaunts.com

Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/SusanIllene1

Goodreads- http://www.goodreads.com/Susan_Illene

Twitter- https://twitter.com/@susan_illene

Heroines of Fantasy: Miss May

May is such a sweet sounding month, but I do not have a sweet heroine for you today. For this month’s Heroine of Fantasy feature, we’re heading back into the book world to meet Jeaniene Frost’s Cat of the Night Huntress series.

 Cat Crawfield

Due to her mother being raped by a vampire and getting pregnant, Cat is both half-human and half-vampire, which gives her the unique strength to combat these evil undead creatures. Every night she goes out hunting, hoping to find her father and kill him so maybe her mother can stop living in fear.

One night, she tries to lure and kill Bones, a vampiric bounty hunter that’s on to her. He imprisons her in a cave for days until he convinces her that the two of them would make a pretty good team. Of course, romance isn’t far off.

Cat is very young in the first book, so it’s no surprise that she can be immature. Throughout the series she does grow up some. She serves on a secret military team hunting vampires for a while, and delves deeper into the vampire world with Bones (I’m not going to go into detail and give anything away, but it’s a wild ride). Cat is stubborn, tough, and not afraid to take risks—she’s basically been using herself as vampire bait since she was sixteen.

She also has a hot temper, as does her lover, Bones, which makes for some very fiery spats—and fiery make-up sessions. Caution to those who may not like the racy so much: Frost is very graphic in her descriptions. But if you’re comfortable skipping over the sex scenes, the rest of the story is a lot of fun and very imaginative.

Cat is a badass girl we can all admire. Be it monstrous vampires, ghouls, or ghosts, she’ll take them all on. She is, after all, half dead herself.

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Excerpt of Dreamstealer: Lexa vs. The Dress

I have another excerpt of Dreamstealer for you today, this time one with a little humor. Lexa is on her way to Teltania to see if their princess is in fact a new dreamwalker. Unfortunately, her cover for this mission is to go as a visiting diplomat of Artasia. And one must dress to fit the part…

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Neil gestured to the gray-toned, crackle-textured trunk. “Mathias left this for you, but he insisted you not open it until the day before our arrival. So, here it is.”

Lexa could tell she was not going to like this. She strode forward, flipped the latch, and swung the lid up. The trunk was full of clothes, it seemed, and dresses at that. She stared at the fitted, maroon velvet gown with a cross-laced bodice on top.

“Hell no.” She slammed the lid down again.

Neil cleared his throat. “I believe his words were something about you being a lady and needing to dress to fit the part.”

No wonder Mathias hadn’t wanted her opening it until the last minute…or while he was still around. She would have strangled him. Yes, she understood the importance of playing the role of diplomat, but did he have to choose such…opulent clothes? If he had given her more time, she would have done her own shopping—which had probably been his plan all along.

Lexa threw the lid open again; the hinges rattled as they quaked under her wrath. She grabbed the maroon dress and lifted it up. It was even worse in full form: puffed sleeves at the shoulder, which tapered down into a tightly fitted cuff at the wrist. Her arms would look like mutton legs in it. She tossed it on the bed. The next dress on the pile was an aquamarine with wide, billowy sleeves and lace around the neck meant to imitate sea spray. Underneath that lay a dark green gown with a loose skirt that Lexa thought she could tolerate, but for the most part, she discarded the various dresses on the bed, her lip curling in even more disgust with each one.

“I’m going to throttle him.”

Neil arched a brow at the mess. “So you two hadn’t discussed this?”

Lexa glowered at him. “Don’t pretend that comes as a surprise. He did tell you to keep this until the last minute.”

Neil rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m not sure I see the problem.”

Lexa gestured to her plain shirt and pants, then at the dresses. “Seriously?”

He quirked a smile. “They would look stunning on you.”

“They’re ridiculous.”

“Perhaps you should try one on first.” He dug under the pile, pulled out the maroon one, and held it out to Lexa. Her fingers twitched, unwilling to even touch the extravagant fabric. But with Neil watching her closely, she swallowed her discomfort and snatched it from his hand.

“You’re forgetting a piece.” He reached into the trunk and pulled out a corset.

Lexa gave it a blank stare.

“It’s all the fashion in Teltania right now.”

“You wear it.”

~~~

I hope you enjoyed the sneak peek. I was also on Mistress of the Dark Path’s blog this weekend for an interview. Curious if I have a naughty side? … 😉

Dreamstealer-AngelaWallace-600x900

Dreamstealer is available on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and iTunes.

When her kingdom’s former enemy suspects their princess is a budding dreamwalker, Lexa is drafted out of retirement and sent to Teltania to train the twelve-year-old girl. But hidden agendas complicate her mission, and Lexa doesn’t know whom to trust. Meanwhile, her own dreamwalking powers are waning when she needs them most. Can Lexa decipher the mysteries at every turn, or will the dreamscape claim yet another dreamwalker?

~~~

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