Book Review: Poison

review-cover-poisonTitle: Poison [Wind Dancer 1]

Author: Lan Chan

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult, Fantasy

Rating: 5 Stars



Since the night her mother was murdered, sixteen-year-old Rory Gray has known one truth: There are no good Seeders.

In post-apocalyptic Australia, the scientists known as Seeders have built a Citadel surrounded by food-producing regions and populated with refugees from the wars and famine. To maintain their control, the Seeders poisoned the land and outlawed the saving of seeds.

It’s been six years since Rory graced the Seeders’ circus stage as the Wind Dancer and still the scars on her body haven’t healed. Even worse are the scars on her heart, left by a Seeder boy who promised to protect her.

Now the Seeders are withholding supplies from Rory’s region for perceived disobedience. Utilising the Wanderer knowledge she received from her mother, Rory must journey to the Citadel through uninhabitable terrain to plead for mercy.

However, the Citadel isn’t as Rory remembered. The chief plant geneticist is dying and rumours fly that the store of viable seed is dwindling. The Seeders are desperate to find a seed bank they believe Rory can locate, and they will stop at nothing to get it.

To defy the Seeders means death. But Rory has been close to death before–this time she’s learned the value of poison.


I thoroughly enjoyed Poison by Lan Chan. The first book in the series, and my first foray into Lan Chan’s writing, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I picked up this book, but I soon discovered the amazing action-packed adventure of Aurora Gray.

As far as the technical side of the narrative is concerned, the book was extremely well written. I ran into no more than two or three errors in the entire book (which is pretty damn good considering this was an ARC from NetGalley). The sentences were well structured and easy to follow, the narrative kept a steady, fast pace, and I didn’t stumble over awkward phrases, tense, or POV problems. Setting wise, Poison forayed into a unique dystopian world, set in a far future Australia. The world building was easy to pick up and detailed in a way that seemed expansive without bogging me down with too much terminology or explanations. I was engaged with the story from the very beginning and had trouble putting it down. It was that good.

The characters were both complicated and unique, and though some of them weren’t particularly nice, I can’t pick out any that bothered me or irritated me in any way. I liked even the characters who avidly worked to thwart Aurora in her quest to reach and then survive the Citadel. I think out of all the characters, though, Aiden and Aurora were definitely my favorite. There was a chemistry between them both as rivals, friends, potential lovers, and enemies that I ate up with a spoon. Even when they were bickering I loved the dynamics of their relationship—and honestly, I’m still not sure which side Aiden stands on… Aurora’s, or the Seeders.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and I’m extremely glad that I picked it up on a whim. It was everything I love about YA Dystopians without any overly whiny characters. If you’re looking for an action-packed YA Dystopian that’s heavily situated in fantasy and world building (and NOT zombies for once), I’d highly recommend that you give this book a try. It isn’t heavy in romance, so if you’re looking for a book with more story and less teenage angst, this may be the book for you. I know I’ll definitely be heading on into the rest of the series. This one is going on my keeper shelf.

Book Review: Witch Hunter

review-cover-witch hunterTitle: Witch Hunter [Witches of the Woods 1]

Author: Steffanie Holmes

Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Historical

Rating: 5 Stars



Europe – 1351. Centuries ago a curse was placed on Ada’s family; every seven days a woman from her line must sleep with a man – any man – or the entire coven will lose their powers forever. As a fledgling witch, it is Ada’s turn to continue the seven-day cycle, but with the plague wiping out more men every day, who will she find to take into her bed? BBW Ada goes to a sacred grove to perform a ritual to bring a man to her, and a man appears. But he is as dangerous as he is handsome …

Ulrich of Donau-Ries is a battle-scarred witch hunter, tired of the stranglehold the church has over his destiny. His heart hardened by violence and the woman who betrayed him, Ulrich is determined to never again fall in love. But that all changes when he finds Ada, naked and waiting for him. She is the first woman to loosen the chains around his black heart.

When Ada is accused of witchcraft, Ulrich seizes his chance to be close to her once more. In Ulrich’s dungeon, they find solace in each other, and innocent Ada learns to embrace her lover’s dark fantasies. But will Ulrich’s heart thaw in time to save Ada from being burned alive at the stake?


I’m actually a little surprised to say that I really enjoyed this book. I’m not huge on BDSM or dungeon play in my romance. I don’t particularly have a problem with it, but I don’t actively seek it out, and it’s always left me feeling a little uncomfortable when it pops up in my romance reading, so when I went into Witch Hunter by Steffanie Holmes, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about that aspect of the plot. Surprisingly, I was completely fine with it—though I know there will be some people out there that won’t. So before I get much further into this review and waste your time, let me say that there are quite a few scenes held within this book where the main female lead is strapped into or onto torture devices. She was in pain… BUT she was also consenting and enjoyed herself. If that isn’t your thing, then feel free to move on.

That being said, even though there was a fair bit of somewhat torturous BDSM involved, I never felt like Ulrich was being intentionally cruel or harmful to Ada, even when she was in genuine pain. I never questioned that she was happy to be put in the situation she was in and she enjoyed it. The situation was tricky, though. She was, after all, in a real dungeon dealing with a man who “tortured and burned witches at the stake” for a living, and I can understand how some more sensitive readers may find this book a little much to handle. To each his own, right?

Personally, I thought the story was fabulous. I loved Ulrich as the dark and brooding anti-hero and Ada as the sadly naïve newbie witch. The characters were colorful and distinct, and though I didn’t like all of them (I’m looking at you Bernadine), I felt they were necessary to the plot and well written.

Now, I was holding onto an ARC copy, so there were a few typos here and there (all of which I turned into the author/publisher), but none of them were distracting or particularly detrimental to the story. For the most part, the writing was clean, easy to follow, and well paced.

My only nitpick was one particular scene where Ada had been held in a dungeon for days on end before she was ravished by Ulrich, and I just kept thinking “omg… I bet she smells so bad right now.” She’d had rotten food thrown at her, she’d been locked in a damp cell with little food or water, and she certainly hadn’t had a bath… and I’m sure the guy loved her dearly…but… ew.

Overall? I really enjoyed the book. It was a great romp into medieval paranormal fantasy. If you’re a fan of Dark Romance, give it a try. You may really enjoy this book! If BDSM/Dark Romances are your thing,  you may want to look for something a little fluffier…but you’ll be missing out. Personally, I can’t wait to read further into this series, and I look forward to the next book!

Weekend Wrap-Up #16

What I Read


I actually got reading done this week. Woot! I’ve spent a good part of my week trying to catch up on reading, or rather, get ahead. With my upcoming Disneyland trip coming up (Oct 18-24), I only have a few weeks to get a bunch of reviews written up ahead of time and scheduled so that my blog doesn’t fall majorly behind in my absence. It’s a bit of a marathon. I’ve still got about 4 reviews that  I need to finish before the end of October, and about 2 weeks to get them finished and scheduled.

This week, I had some really great books, and some not so great. The first of which was Witch Hunter by Steffanie Holmes. I’ve actually read a book by Steffanie Holmes before, though it was a novella, so when I was given the chance to pick up another book by an author that I thought did a pretty decent book on a novella (you all know how I hate novellas at this point) I was excited to see what she could do with a longer work. I was disappointed. Witch Hunter is a dark historical fantasy romance, and despite it’s questionable content (torture/BDSM/burning people at the stake) I really enjoyed it.

The second book I picked up this week was Poison by Lan Chan, book 1 of the Wind Dancer series. I grabbed this one at NetGalley on a whim, and I’m really glad that I did. It was a fantastic YA Dystopian heavily bent towards world building and a “let’s fight against society!” vibe. No zombies—for once. I really enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to moving further on in the series.

The third book I picked up this week was Rising Inferno by Lucile Wild. I was sent this book through one of my ARC review programs, and to be honest, I was kind of thrown. I –thought- the book was a short dragon shifter erotica (though for some reason they chose to give the guy on the cover angel wings), but soon discovered that it was a shifter romance. The lead male wasn’t even really a dragon, and the sex was barely considered sex. They basically dry-humped. It was still a cute story in a way, but certainly not what was advertise (which, by the way, it was advertised as a BBW Ménage—which is absolutely not the case).

The fourth book I picked up this week was 10 Step Plan to Promote Your Book by Scott Hughes. This one made it into my inbox as a bit of a push from an online website geared towards marketing books. No surprise there. It also wasn’t much of a surprise to figure out that it was literally a 10 point bulleted list on some pretty common sense ways to market and a whole lot of self-promotion for the author and his affiliates. I wasn’t impressed. I’ve already gotten a few negative votes on my Amazon review.

Upcoming Reviews & Things:

  • Monday, October 5 – Witch Hunter
  • Wednesday, October 7 – Poison
  • Monday, October 12 – Rising Inferno
  • Wednesday, October 14 – 10 Step Plan To Promote Your Book

What Was Posted

What I Did

DSCN0500Honestly, most of my week was taken up by reading. What little was left was devoted to working on the first draft of Daughter of Abraham (I’m now working on Chapter Six and I’m on schedule to have the entire first draft finished by the end of December).

Of course, all my plans are a bit thrown off by the upcoming Disneyland tip. There’s just so much to do! Cleaning my house, finding a cat-sitter so my fur-babies don’t starve to death while I’m gone, shopping for supplies, getting everyone packed, getting caught up on my blog and having everything scheduled ahead of time, and of course, getting ready for my daughter’s 12th birthday, which happens to fall two days after we return from Disneyland, and about four days before Halloween. October is a busy month in the Morton household.

In less related, but far more pleasant news, my computer (yes, the one that died) has FINALLY been shipped back to the manufacturer to be fixed and have parts replaced. My only fear now is that they’ll ship it back while we’re out of town and my computer will disappear into the ether. I’m trying not to think too heavily about it.

Next Week

More reading. Lots more reading. I need to finish four more book reviews (to have all of October covered) within the next two weeks so I can go on vacation and not worry about missing blog posts. I will unfortunately still be forced to skip a Free Fiction Friday the week I’m gone, but that can’t be avoided. FFF’s aren’t scheduled ahead of time because it would defeat the purpose to post a list of free books that may not be free anymore by the time the post is put up. FFF’s should resume the following Friday. Here’s to a busy October!

Free Fiction Friday #57

Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #57! For those of you who are new to this blog or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays, every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre and on sale for less than $5. I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars and over 40+ reviews and 100 pages minimum—so that you can get a list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things than post, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: YA Romance!





Book Review: Sparked


Title: Sparked

Author: Lily Cahill

Genre: Romance, Science Fiction, New Adult

Rating: 4 Stars



Independence Falls, Colorado. 1954. It was the start of a perfect summer—until the fog rolled in and changed everything.

Clayton Briggs has always had it easy. The pampered second son of the prestigious Briggs clan, Clayton’s poised to take over the family business. His playboy days aren’t quite over, but his mother is on a campaign to match him with a woman suitable to his station. When he meets a beautiful girl at the Firelight Festival, he’s instantly attracted—until he realizes she’s a member of the notorious Murphy family. The Murphys and Briggs have been feuding for decades, but Clayton can’t control his feelings for Cora. Will passion trump family responsibility?

Cora Murphy has always had it hard. When she isn’t scraping together pennies by baking for the town’s wealthy families, she’s all but a slave to her father and brother, who drink and gamble away most of her profits. She could run, but Cora won’t leave her sister behind. All she needs a bit of luck, but luck has never sided with the Murphys. Then her entire life changes in one moment. When Cora is caught in a mysterious purple fog, she suddenly discovers powers beyond anything she’s ever imagined. And it seems Clayton might be the only man who understands … because he has powers of his own.


Going into Sparked by Lily Cahill, I wasn’t sure how much I was actually going to like it. The synopsis was interesting, but a little odd. I’d never heard of the author previously, and it’s one of those books that came across my inbox with a deadline date that was still a month or so away. I thought, “Well, I’ll give it a chance.” and half an hour later, I was completely engrossed.

I’ll admit, my first impression wasn’t great. The sentence structures at the beginning of the book were choppy and ill-punctuated. I’m one of those people who can’t stand a misused conjunction, and when the sentences become uniform and bite-size because of a misused conjunction? Forget it. It’s a particular pet peeve of mine. I didn’t give up, however. I am happy to say, that other than two minor typos, the rest of the book was free of any large grammatical or punctuation mistakes. The text was easy to follow and well executed.

I love the main characters, Clayton, and Cora. As a couple, the two were an appealing mix of steamy, romantic, and determined. They had their share of misunderstandings through the book, but they never came across as overly dramatic, whiny, or unreasonably moronic. I loved them together, and I loved them equally as much as characters independent of one another. They were a good combination, and I wanted to cheer them on from the very beginning.

Overall, I really liked the book as a whole—but there were a few things that stood out that made me question a five-star rating.

The secondary characters of the book were pretty 2-D. They were all a little overwhelmingly stereotyped. The abusive dad and equally as abusive and cruel son, the father and mother that were all about social class, and quick to blame their son for not having his head on straight… the ex-girlfriend that tried to tear them apart, even the doctor who chose to keep their secrets despite having no logical reason to do so. It made for a very interesting story—don’t get me wrong—but I wish there had been a little more depth and unpredictability to the secondary characters.

Another thing that I couldn’t quite get a grasp on was the world-building. The story was set in the 1950’s, which though quirky and interesting, didn’t seem to have any impact on the story. There didn’t seem to be a particular reason that the story was set in the decade it was—the plot would have been the same had it been set in a more modern time period. I expected there to be some reason, some identifiable point where I could say “That! That is why this was set in the 50’s! They couldn’t have written this event otherwise.” but it never happened. Maybe it will happen in a subsequent book in the series, but frankly, I have no idea.

It was also never explained where the purple fog—the arbiter of the super-powers that brought the main couple together—came from. Other than a few wild guesses by the characters, we never learn its origins, what it does exactly, or where it went. The book was labeled as “sci-fi” (though I didn’t see any sci-fi elements, just fantasy/paranormal), so I can only assume that in a subsequent book we’ll see the sci-fi origins of the purple fog… but at least for now, the question remains unanswered.

In the end, the problems I found with the narrative weren’t big ones. I can live without knowing the origin of the purple fog, and I can live with the stereotyped side characters. The punctuation and minor typos didn’t break the book for me—but all these things added up did knock it down a star. It wasn’t the greatest book I’ve ever read. That being said, it was still a very good book. I was drawn in by the writing, and I loved the romance aspect of the story. The super powers were fantastic and well-executed. Despite it’s flaws, I really enjoyed it, and I’d be happy to continue on into the series. If you’re looking for a good, steamy New Adult book with a bit of a sci-fi/supernatural mystery to it, I recommend you give this a try. I can’t wait to delve further into this series.

Devil and The Deep – Release Day Party + Giveaway!

Ceruleans series poster

It’s an exciting day today here at Author Unpublished! Earlier this month I was given a chance to take part in the Devil and The Deep Release Day Party + Giveaway, and I was more than happy to jump in and participate. The Ceruleans series by Megan Tayte is one of my recent favorite series. I’ve read through the first three books already (Death Wish, Forget Me Not, WIld Blue Yonder) and gave them all 5 star reviews.

Btw, Books 1, 2, and 3 are FREE today for the Release Day Party (September 30)! So go check them out! Go! Go!


Devil and the Deep coverDevil And The Deep by Megan Tayte, Ceruleans Book 4


Scarlett is living her happy-ever-after, back in the real world. Only the ‘happy’ part is proving problematic.

For starters, there’s the isolation. Being a Cerulean among humans is fraught with risk, so her time with people can only be fleeting. Which means being with Luke but not being with Luke.

Then there’s her Cerulean light, her power over life and death. Less awesome talent, as it turns out, and more overwhelming responsibility. And it comes with rules – rules that are increasingly difficult to obey.

But what’s really pushing Scarlett to the precipice is something much bigger than herself, than her life in the cove. A force to be reckoned with:


When long-buried truths are exposed, will Scarlett keep her head above water – or will she drown in the blood-dimmed tide that is unleashed?

[Buy it on] [Buy it]


It began with screaming. Shrill, ear-piercing, horrified screaming.

A girl shrieked, ‘Blood! Look, look – it’s everywhere!’ and pressed her hand to her mouth.

A man shouted, ‘Good grief!’ and another, ‘Great Scott!’

An old lady swooned gracefully and would have tipped over the balustrade of the riverboat had a lanky lad not caught her.

The cause of the excitement – a woman lying slumped on the long table on deck, cheek on her bread plate, headdress in the butter dish – twitched a little.

‘She’s alive!’ cried a lad beside her delightedly. ‘She moved!’

‘Did not,’ argued another.

‘Did too!’

‘Gentlemen,’ interjected a short, portly man with a twirly black moustache, ‘if you will forgive my intrusion, it must be noted that this woman has a bullet hole in her head and is logically, therefore, quite definitely deceased.’

Another old dear folded to the deck with a prolonged ‘Ohhhhhh’ and her husband grabbed a feathered fan and began wafting cool evening air in her face while calling, ‘Smelling salts – does anyone have any?’

I tried to keep a straight face. Really I did. I bit my bottom lip until I tasted my cherry-red lipstick. I pinched my leg through the cream satin of my gown. I dug my long cigarette holder into the sensitive flesh of my arm.

But it was no good.

The ‘What ho, chaps’ posh accents.

The buxom woman sagging in the arms of an elephant hunter wearing Converse All Stars.

The production of smelling salts in a bottle whose label read Pepto-Bismol.

The corners of the little round man’s moustache coming looser with his every word.

The fast-pooling puddle of pinkish blood on the bread plate, buffeted by the steady in-and-out breaths of the corpse.

Take it from a girl who’s really died – death on the River Dart, Devon, is hilarious.

‘Dear me, Ms Robson here appears to be quite overcome with shock,’ said the guy at my side suddenly, and he slipped an arm around me and turned me away. ‘Come, madam. Let us get some air.’

I smiled at him. Then grinned. Then choked back a guffaw. Thankfully, by the time full-scale hilarity hit me I’d been led to the rear of the boat, away from the rest of our party, and could bury my face in the bloke’s chest and shake mutely with laughter.

The gallant gentleman rubbed my back soothingly as I let it all out and said loudly, for the benefit of any onlookers, ‘There there, pignsey, there there.’

‘Pigsney?’ It was the final straw. My high-heeled sandals gave way and I melted into a puddle of mirth on the deck.

‘I’ll have you know, Scarlett Blake,’ hissed Luke, my boyfriend a.k.a. gallant gent, hoiking up his too-tight corduroy trousers so he could squat down beside me, ‘I Googled “old-fashioned terms of endearment” and pigsney’s a classic.’

I wiped tears from my eyes, dislodging a false eyelash in the process, and tried to catch my hiccupping breath as Luke went on.

‘Means pig’s eye. No idea why that’s appealing, but apparently in the seventeenth century, calling a lady pigsney was the very height of courting.’

Through his fake specs Luke’s blue eyes fixed me with a stare so earnest I almost managed to stop laughing.

‘But this is a Death on the Nile-Stroke-Dart murder mystery night, Luke,’ I managed to get out. ‘Set in the nineteen thirties, not the seventeen thirties.’

‘Ah,’ he said, ‘but my character tonight, Mr Fijawaddle, is a historical fiction writer, isn’t he? So as well as dressing like a brainy recluse – and I’m warning you now, I won’t hear another slur against this tweed jacket – he’d know all kinds of obscure terms. Like ginglyform and jargogle and nudiustertian and bromopnea and farctate and quagswag and philosophunculist.’

His showing off sobered me just enough to control the giggles. ‘You made those words up,’ I accused, poking a crimson talon into his mustard-yellow shirtfront.

He blinked at me innocently. ‘Did not. I told you before we left the house, I did my homework.’

I narrowed my eyes. ‘All right then, Mr Fijawaddle, what does that last word you said mean?’


‘Yes, that.’

‘Er…’ Luke gave me a sheepish grin.

‘Spill it,’ I said menacingly. As menacingly as a girl dressed up as a vintage Hollywood starlet with cute little pin curls and rouge aplenty can be, that is.

‘Philosophunculist,’ recited Luke. ‘Noun. A person who pretends to know more than they do in order to impress others.’

I threw my head back and laughed. ‘Busted!’

Luke slipped an arm around me and pulled me close. Really close.

‘Bet you like it when I use long words,’ he said huskily, eyes fixed on my too-red lips.

‘Bet you like it when I wear a clingy nightgown as a dress,’ I replied, eyes fixed on his too-kissable lips.

‘Brazen hussy,’ he growled at me.

‘Randy boffin,’ I murmured back.

Then neither of us said another word for quite some time.


Megan Tayte

Once upon a time a little girl told her grandmother that when she grew up she wanted to be a writer. Or a lollipop lady. Or a fairy princess fireman. ‘Write, Megan,’ her grandmother advised. So that’s what she did.
Thirty-odd years later, Megan is a professional writer and published author by day, and an indie novelist by night. Her fiction – young adult romance with soul – recently earned her the SPR’s Independent Woman Author of the Year award.
Megan grew up in the Royal County, a hop, skip and a (very long) jump from Windsor Castle, but these days she makes her home in Robin Hood’s county, Nottinghamshire. She lives with her husband, a proud Scot who occasionally kicks back in a kilt; her son, a budding artist with the soul of a palaeontologist; and her baby daughter, a keen pan-and-spoon drummer who sings in her sleep. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her walking someplace green, reading by the fire, or creating carnage in the kitchen as she pursues her impossible dream: of baking something edible.
You can find Megan online at:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

My Review

[Originally Posted Here]

I’m still in a little conflict over how I feel about Devil and the Deep by Megan Tayte. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the book… but it wasn’t my favorite out of the series. The front half of the book felt a little slow to me. Not a lot happened. I read the book 20% at a time, and I didn’t feel like I was itching to get back into the book each time I put it down… If I’d put down the book halfway through, I would have shrugged and moved on—but, I am glad that I continued to read because the second half of the book was much better.

Technically speaking, the book was well written. The pacing was steady, the writing was fluid and easy to follow. I ran into a few minor typos, but nothing that distracted me from the text, or would have made me put the book down. Once again, I loved all the characters…. even Evangeline. It was a solid addition to the series as a whole up until this point. But, like I said, the first half of the book just didn’t engage me like I’d expected.

The ending was great. There was drama and chaos and lines were being crossed, and I was engrossed. When that last line hit, I bemoaned the end of the story. I wanted more.

Overall, I really liked the book. Was it the best book in the series? For me, no. Was it enjoyable? Definitely. Would I recommend it? Yes. If you’ve enjoyed the previous books in this series, you’ll probably enjoy this one too. I can’t wait for the fifth book!

Five FREE Tools To Help Self-Published Authors Succeed.

Originally posted on Nikki McDonagh - author and photographer:

It is hard being an author, whether self-published or traditionally, getting your manuscript/book looking good, free of grammatical/typo errors and noticed when it is published, is very difficult. So the more tools at your disposal that can help you do that is surely a good thing.

I have recently discovered a few neat little devices that can help to make those jobs easier.

1: Scrivener – The first and truly brilliant, especially if you are considering self-publishing, is this word processing and book formatting tool – You can download it for a Free trial to see if it is for you.

Don’t take my word for it, though – the self-publishing legend that is Joanna Penn (you can learn more about Joanna and her books to help self-published authors here: has a blog about the value of using Scrivener.


I’m sure most of you have…

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