Saturday, August 31, 2013

Book Review: Half Truths, by Lauren Dawes

Yesterday I came to you with a review for Half Blood, by Lauren Dawes. As we count down to the release of the newest book in the Half Blood Series, I'd like to give you my review of Half Truths, the second book in the Half Blood Series.

Picking up only days after the end of Half Blood, Half Truths brings us into deeper contact with another wolf from the Helheim wolf pack, Vaile. In Half Blood, Vaile had the look and feel of a cold-hearted brute, but right from the beginning of this story, we're given a deep look at his softer side. We're given a chance to see him in a different light, a chance to understand why he's so gruff ... we're given a chance to like him. We watch him learn to open up again after the pain of his past, and we get to know a few new characters, too.

But this doesn't mean that Lauren has forgotten the first of our Helheim loves; Indi and Rhett are still very much a part of the story, and we're taken along as Indi learns more about what it mean to be the felvair, as she learns more about the ways her life will be changing. Rhett's life is changing too, as he learns to take on new responsibility, standing strong for his alpha as tragedy threatens the pack.

And in the midst of everything, a war among the wolf packs is looming ever closer in Half Truths by Lauren Dawes. If you've read Half Blood, believe me, you want to see the next installment. You want to follow the story. You want to know what's coming next. So get on over to Amazon, and get that one-click finger to clicking.

Lauren Dawes is an urban fantasy/paranormal romance writer and the author of the Half Blood Series and the Dark Series. You won't find any friendly vampires or werewolves in between the pages of her books; just blood, teeth and violence. When she's not writing, she's reading or teaching. She currently lives in Victoria, Australia with her husband and cat. Follow her: Facebook / Twitter / Blog / Website / Amazon / Goodreads / Pinterest

Friday, August 30, 2013

Book Review: Half Blood, by Lauren Dawes

I have to start by saying that Lauren isn't writing my typical genre. I read a little mix of everything, including fantasy and paranormal, but I'll admit that most of what I tend to read is in the contemporary romance area. It just seems to be the genre I relate more clearly to, since I tend to be a bit of a romantic most days.

Still, I do branch out here and there. I get into stories about ghosts, witches, and even faeries. I get into vampires and werewolves from time to time too, and that brings me to Lauren Dawes and the intricate story of 'Half Blood.' In the beginning, there are a number of characters to keep track of, but Lauren pulls you right in, giving you little pieces of back story and little bits of the plotline, hooking you, and coaching you through the story as your mind races to figure out just where she's taking you.

As we're brought into the war between the werewolves and the vampires, little twists and turns keep things lively. We're introduced to a cast of well-developed characters, each with their own back story, each with a purpose and a point. And then there's Indi. Indi, the felvair, the half blood. She's valuable, she's scary, she's tough, and she doesn't take any sh*t from anybody. Then again, she's got her sensitive side, her soft side. And she's got one weakness, other than her developing thirst for blood: Rhett.

Rhett has been appointed Guardian of the felvair, and it's his job to watch over her. He gains her trust, earns her friendship ... saves her life. He's strong and sweet, and incredibly protective, willing to give anything or do anything to see to Indi's safety. But he has his own weakness: a birth defect that sets him apart from the rest of his pack and leaves him emotionally scarred and insecure.

In the end, what will happen with the Helheim pack? Will Rhett be able to rise above something he's always seen as a fatal flaw within himself? Will Indi be able to accept the changes that are coming her way? And what will happen when an enemy does something unforgivable, asking a ransom that simply cannot be paid??

You can find the answers to all these questions in Half Blood, by Lauren Dawes, but if you need an extra nudge to get you branching out and trying something new, consider this me nudging. This is a book you want to read, with a cast of amazingly lovable characters, and plotlines that get you really thinking about the real world and what could be hiding in the shadows. If you're looking for a thrill in your next read, get yourself on over to Lauren's Amazon page and one-click yourself into something new.

Lauren Dawes is an urban fantasy/paranormal romance writer and the author of the Half Blood Series and the Dark Series. You won't find any friendly vampires or werewolves in between the pages of her books; just blood, teeth and violence. When she's not writing, she's reading or teaching. She currently lives in Victoria, Australia with her husband and cat. Follow here: Facebook / Twitter / Blog / Website / Amazon / Goodreads / Pinterest

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Standing Strong II

Yesterday I talked about taking a stand; I talked about using my public voice to say something about something that's close to my heart. Through Cass Keaton's character in Fat Chance, I was able to speak up about subjects like self-confidence and bullying, and while that was incredibly personal to me, it's only the tip of the iceberg.

When I was young, I was a fairly thin child - a scrawny kid with awkward teeth and big blue eyes, a kid whose worst problems were the common issue of divorced parentage and single-mom poverty.Things progressively worsened from there ... but I didn't start struggling with my weight and my body until my teen years and the onset of hormones. My body changed rapidly in both shape and size - in some ways much more rapidly than those of the girls around me - so I have personally experienced the ugliness of the sort of peer bullying and resulting low self-image used in the story of Fat Chance.

In the years since, both through my own personal self-reflection and through the exploration writing allows, I have taken quite a long and intricate journey of self-discovery, and my sense of personal confidence is hard won. But honestly, that's not the deepest issue. After all, this body is only a body, and like the Carrie Underwood song, "this is my temporary home." I'm not going to live in this damaged body forever.

But my mind and the injuries to my soul ... those will go with me into eternity, I think, because they make me who I am; I am this person specifically because of the things I have seen and the things I've endured.

Sounds dramatic, doesn't it?

I know it does.

But I'm not being dramatic.

I was raised in a world of extreme domestic abuse of all kinds. My soul is injured by the circumstances of my childhood because it was an extremely volatile, extremely violent situation, and I remember horrible things that no child should ever be witness to. And yet ... there's another perspective on that too, a perspective completely apart from that of a child raised in fear.

The perspective of the woman, the direct victim, the target.

That woman is often left alone, feeling trapped, like an animal with no way out. She's afraid that if she leaves, her abuser will come after her. She's afraid she can't get by on her own. And if there are children, she's afraid he'll hurt them or take them. She stays, often because she simply has no other truly viable option. She stays because, despite the frequently given advice of those around her, there really is no way out.

Even the police and the legal system often fail to protect women in these situations ... or worse, the victim is blamed for any desperate or extreme acts resulting from her efforts to escape.

Lately, I've been closely watching the news for updates on the case of Marissa Alexander, one such woman who has come to my attention recently. In 2010, nine days after the premature birth of her new baby (who was still in the hospital), Marissa was attacked in her home by her husband, who had been in trouble on multiple occasions for violently attacking other women (he admits this string of abusive behavior on several different records). When Marissa had had enough, she retrieved a weapon from her truck in the garage (which was locked; she could not get out through there and her husband knew it). This weapon was licensed and Marissa did possess a carry permit. Upon re-entering the house, Marissa's husband saw the gun in her hand, screamed that he was going to kill her, and then began to approach her. Having already been assaulted by him, Marissa was in fear for her life, and would have been within her rights to shoot her husband and kill him in self-defense under the "stand your ground" law that is currently under fire.

For whatever reason, Marissa did not kill her husband. She did not give him "eye for eye" or "tooth for tooth." Instead, she took action to preserve the life of a violent man who had threatened and beaten her repeatedly. Instead, she turned away from him and fired a warning shot into the wall of her home, causing her husband to flee outside the home, at which point he phoned the police and reported that his wife had shot at him. Marissa was then arrested, jailed, and eventually sentenced to 20 years in prison despite the domestic record of abuse on file. Despite the fact that no one was injured.

Women like Marissa - cases like Marissa's - are so much a part of why women are too afraid to leave domestic violence situations. Cases like this, where a woman did everything in her power to diffuse a dangerous situation in the safest way possible, and still received a tragically inappropriate sentence, are why women all over the world would rather take the risk of staying instead of the risks involved with leaving.

Every day, the law fails women like Marissa, women who have done everything they could do and still slip through the cracks of the system. Every day, women like Marissa are punished for following their human instinct to survive.

Every day, people like Prosecutor Angela Corey stand strong in a long line of injustice against women. And every day that we turn our backs on victims of domestic violence, at least 3 women (and one man) are murdered by their domestic partners.

Why? Because people like Angela Corey refuse to allow these victims the right to defend themselves.

Stand with me against domestic violence. Help stand up for the victims who cannot stand up for themselves. Give them your support. Give them unconditional love. And lift them up. Give them strength. Help them find a way out. Give donations to local women's shelters. Give your time and your understanding to their cause.

It's so easy to convince yourself that you can't help, but chances are, you are in a position to make a difference for someone. Approximately 74% of Americans know someone who is (or has been) a victim of domestic abuse.

You can help, and you can make a difference.

Stand with me. Stand with Marissa, and women like her. Stand with Christine Matthews, the heroine of Fighting For Freedom.

Stand with women like her who have a story to tell but cannot find the voice to tell it. Women like Christine, who aren't noticed and aren't helped until it's almost too late. Help her to speak for the women who are lost, who are victimized, who are abandoned. Who are ignored.

Today and every day forward, stop turning a blind eye and make yourself aware of the truth. Lend your support. STAND.

Cover photo updated, April 2018
Fighting For Freedom, coming soon.

Edited to add: This book is now live - and the mission to spread awareness and taking a stand against domestic abuse is moving forward toward the ultimate goal of opening a Safe House program similar to the one mentioned in Fighting For Freedom. To learn more about how you can pick up a copy of this book, click the book title above - to take a more active role in my mission to create empowerment and the courage to live Undaunted lives in women everywhere, enlist in the Undaunted Army for free today - or go ahead and purchase your Officer Commission by signing up to support the movement on Patreon.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Standing Strong I

I got an email a while back that said (among other things): "You don't just have fans, you have hurting and growing women who really need to hear the message you're telling. They're eager for some grace. They need someone to tell their story for them, with all the brutality and all the courage both, so they can see who they really are - valued, strong, unique, loved and loveable - through the framework of the story. And you do that very well, and with so much heart. You don't shy away from the worst, which makes the best all that much more meaningful."

I love knowing that someone out there is touched by something that I wrote, but it's also been incredibly fun to realize, ever so slowly, that I'm growing as a writer, really growing. Not just within myself, either; I'm growing a somewhat small but still very real public existence and with the success of Cass Keaton (Fat Chance, Kingsley Series, #1), I'm realizing that it puts me in a place to make a difference.

I can now stand out against bullying, or I can lobby for autism awareness. I can make a big issue over my personal views, the debate on gun laws, child abuse, childhood cancer, or whatever. And if I take a stand, people will listen. Maybe not a lot - not yet - but some will.

This has been on my heart for months now ... the idea that I can get involved with something, that I can lend myself and my talent and my voice to something.

With that in mind, I've been thinking of what I might like to make a fuss over, what I might like to take a stand on. I'd like it to be something I can relate to in a big way, something that's real and gritty and personal.

So I've been writing, working a plot line into a story, working some of my personal history into something that I can share with you in hopes of helping other women around the world. This story, when it's finished, will be my way of taking a stand - the first step in what I hope will grow into something much larger and more influential than I can ever be alone.

It'll be me, using what I've got to help make a difference, no matter how small. And I don't know exactly how I'm going to do it yet because I've never been in a position to do something like this before, but as the idea becomes more of a story, more real in my heart, you can bet that I'll be giving more details until I've got it all worked out and ready to show to you, ready for you to show to others.

One day soon, I'll ask you to help. I'll ask you to share things and spread the word. I'll ask you to stand with me. I'll ask you to help me make a difference. Will you?

~~~ Fighting For Freedom ~~~
coming August 2013

Edited to add: Fighting For Freedom is now live and available for purchase (click the title above), and has fostered the start of what has now come to be called the Undaunted Army - a force of readers looking to change the world and stand against the horrors of domestic abuse. Enlist in the Undaunted Army to learn more about how you can get involved - or join the movement today by picking up your Undaunted Army Officer Commission on Patreon. (April 2018)