Stories from beyond and Guarding Angel Cover Reveal

I’m very excited today to be able to share the cover of my book, Guarding Angel, coming April 28, 2014. Many book bloggers are sharing in my excitement today, so check some of them out (at the bottom of the post). But first, to commemorate this occasion, I wanted to invite my readers to share in some stories with brushes from beyond this life.

What do I mean precisely?

Have you ever had contact with a loved one who has died? Or have you ever been seeking something out and felt an answer from your guardian angel or spirit guide? Maybe God Him- or Herself? Have you ever seen a ghost? I will share a couple of stories, and I invite you to share yours in the comments below.

My Grandmother Says Goodbye

My first story happened directly to me. Although I’m absolutely certain that I had contact with my grandmother soon after she died, but you might not quite believe it–I’ll leave it up to you.

When I was 15 years old, my paternal grandmother had a stroke and went into a coma. We lived three states away, so unfortunately, it had been awhile since we’d seen her. My parents, brother, and I packed up the car a few days before Christmas and headed to Ohio. I was able to visit her in her room, but she was on life support and it didn’t feel like she was really there.

The other aunts and uncle came from out of town to say goodbye. On Christmas Eve, in the early morning, her children all gathered in her room to carry out her living will. They took her off the ventilator, and in a few short moments, she passed away.

This wasn’t something they wanted the kids experiencing, so I was at home, still asleep, since it was so early morning and I was, after, all, a teenager. Right before I awoke, I had a dream that Grandma came to me: We talked about her life and my life, everything that had happened and lots of things that were going to happen. I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of peace about the rest of my life, but I can’t remember any of the specifics. At one point, I recall her saying she had to go, that she couldn’t stay. I begged her not to leave, but she disappeared, and I ran through a strange dreamscape looking for her. But she was gone–I couldn’t “feel” her there any more.

My mom was shaking me awake as I searched for Grandma. I opened my eyes. “Grandma’s gone, isn’t she?” Mom looked surprised and nodded. I said, “She visited me before she left.”

I don’t know for sure that she did or didn’t. Maybe it was my overactive imagination making this up, since I knew what was happening that morning. But I really felt her there, and I honestly believe that she did, indeed, stop by before she went into the afterlife. If only I could remember all the secrets she’d divulged about my upcoming life before she left …

My Uncle Comforts My Dad

My second story happened to my dad last year. He has four sisters but only one brother, and they were fairly close despite not living near one another. Unfortunately, Uncle Lanny had a clot that moved into his brain at the beginning of April, and he died within seconds.

Right before the visitation, Dad was getting out of his car when his pocket starting making noise. At first he thought his phone was ringing, but when he pulled it out, he saw that iTunes had started. “El Paso” by Marty Robbins–one of his and Uncle Lanny’s favorite songs–was playing. The last time he’d played that particular song was when they’d visited months before.

Was it Uncle Lanny, comforting Dad, who was quite distraught over his brother’s death at a relatively young age and only the beginning of his retirement? Or did the phone somehow happen to pocket dial a song that hadn’t been played for months and months? I, and my dad, like to think that it was Uncle Lanny’s way of saying goodbye.

What about you? Do you have any stories of contact with the “other side?” I want to hear about them in the comments.

Guarding Angel Cover Reveal

Now … The moment I, at least, I don’t know about the rest of you!, have been waiting for. I wrote Guarding Angel because I believe in something beyond this life. It started with a question: What if angels, just like humans, have personalities and struggles? What if they’re more than just silent watchers but have friends and lovers and decisions to make? Thus Enael, my main character, was born.

This cover was created by the fabulous Regina Wamba of MaeIDesign. As soon as I saw her work, I knew I had to have her. She did an amazing job, so if you just like gazing at beautiful fantasy/paranormal romance book covers like I do, take a gander through her portfolio on her website and Pinterest.

Here it is, Enael and her struggles, all summed up in one beautiful piece of cover art:

FallenRedemption-ebooksmgoodreads-badge-add-plusAbout Guarding Angel (Fallen Redemption #1):

Guardian angel Enael can’t seem to keep her human Wards in check. They’re the ones who choose their paths before reincarnating—she’s just there to help make sure they stay on track. But it’s not as easy as it might look.

When she meets and falls in love with charismatic Kaspen, a fellow Guardian, Enael’s feelings about Heaven, Hell, demons, and the life she’s known are turned upside down. Worse, angel-turned-demon Yasva, Kaspen’s former love, still holds him in her clutches. Even as Yasva works toward obtaining complete control of Earth, she taunts and haunts Kaspen’s and Enael’s lives.

Now Enael is forced to face her past (which is centuries long and bursting with secrets), her present (which is terribly unfulfilling and full of questions), and her future (which becomes more uncertain as time passes). Armed with a newfound love and fear of losing it all, she must figure out how to save the world—-and the angel she loves. Which side will win? Who will Kaspen choose? Will Heaven and Earth continue to exist, or will everything go to Hell?

Thank you to all the bloggers who helped me share the news of my cover:

Leave me comments to let me know what you think! Then find me on Twitter and Pinterest. If you’re a book reviewer and would like a review copy of Guarding Angel, send an email to Samantha.Saboviec@gmail.com or leave a comment with contact info. eBook ARC Copies will be available at the beginning of March, and Guarding Angel will go on sale April 28, 2014 at several online retailers.

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Review: Transcendent Tales, Volume I, by Adam Train

transcendant talesTitle: Transcendent Tales: Volume I
Author: Adam Train
How To Purchase: Kindle | iTunes | Kobo | Google Play

My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The complete first release collection from Transcendent Tales. All ten short stories and multi-part novellas come complete with vibrant covers and cinematic illustrations in a single purchase and download.

Transcendent Tales: Volume I by Adam Train is a deviation from a typical book of short stories in a couple ways. First, it’s illustrated, which I enjoyed: Illustrations are uncommon right now in books, and these enhanced the stories beautifully, catching the mood of the scene into which they were inserted. The second deviation I did not enjoy, which was that some of the longer stories had been chopped into parts, and not all the parts were included in this volume.

The storytelling itself is old school. The language and sentence construction is reminiscent of fantasies from years ago. One story, “The Voyage to Windward Atoll,” even reminded me of Edgar Allen Poe at the beginning and H.P. Lovecraft toward the end. Since I’m a sucker for both those authors, that story was one of my favorites.

Although not particularly heavy, the stories are nonetheless engaging. Whether fantasy, alternate history, or science fiction, they draw the reader into the world. I could feel the resolution of the Japanese samurai when faced with the Mongolian horde in “Saisho No Kamikaze.” I was drawn into the world of bureaucracy tainting the contact humanity made with a new species in “The Third Realm.”

Some of the extraneous words and grammar could be tightened up. I’m a stickler for dangling participles, one of the most frequent offenders in this collection. Possibly no one but professional editors and I would have noticed the problems.

My biggest frustration with this story collection is that at least one story, possibly two, were not wholly contained within. I was really into “The Treaty of Nine,” only to be told that the story continues in Part III, which is not included in the book. The last story, “The Third Realm,” was split into two parts, and I thought the end of the second part didn’t wrap the story up sufficiently. Is there more or not? I guess when Volume II comes out, we’ll find out.

Overall, the stories were engaging and enjoyable, but I’m disappointed in cliffhangers. If this were a regular periodical that came out perhaps quarterly, I would be less unhappy. I would have suspected and been prepared for missing story parts.

I gave this a 3.5 of 5 stars because of the somewhat meandering language and grammar, which could easily be fixed by an editor with a keen eye for detail. I also think this book should come with a disclaimer that the reader will be expected to pick up the next anthology to finish some of the stories. If like you science fiction, fantasy, and thorough world-building, you’ll enjoy this collection.

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Review: A Flight of Marewings by Kristen S. Walker

A Flight of MarewingsTitle: A Flight of Marewings (Wyld Magic, #1)
Author: Kristen S. Walker
Genre(s): Adult Fantasy
How to purchase: Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Note: I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Korinna’s life gets turned upside when the ghost of her father suddenly appears. Her father was duke of Kyratia City and he wanted Korinna to marry his warlord, the foreign mercenary Galenos, and inherit his title–but the city’s Council has other plans. When the Council denies Korinna’s right to rule, she decides to join Galenos’s mercenary company and tame a wild marewing in order to take the city by force. But people whisper that the late duke’s untimely death was murder, an induced madness that forced him to dance himself to death–and now that madness is spreading. Can Korinna become a marewing rider and conquer Kyratia in time to save everyone?

A Flight of Marewings is a solid fantasy with interesting ideas and a fleshed-out world. Its namesake, the marewing, is a flying demon horse, created by a mysterious magical force called “the Wyld.”

The book follows several people’s points of view, but the story centers on Korinna, the illegitimate daughter of the newly deceased duke of Kyratia. In this world, mercenaries are used instead of a city’s own military force because being a soldier carries a stigma to these religious people. Korinna has been targeted for marriage by the leader of one of these mercenary forces, Galenos, who was never able to convince her father to solidify a marriage contract before he died.

I was a little bit nervous upon seeing the table of contents and how many points of view are actually used, but it worked well. Ms. Walker introduces the characters logically, and we got to know them and their quirks gradually.

Because the story is told from both Korinna’s and Galenos’ points of view, I was sympathetic toward them both. First toward Korinna, the poor peasant woman who is simply trying to hold together the farm for the small village she oversees; next toward Galenos, who simply wants to wrest control of Kyratia from an evil, scheming Council so that it may thrive.

The romance between Korinna and Galenos seemed a bit forced. Of course they’re going to end up together, but I would have liked to see some sparks fly.

I loved the magic in the book: A parasitic bug that burrows into humans to cause them to dance to death, a killer vine that strangles anyone who struggles against it too much, and the magestone underlying the city that should protect the citizen from Wyld magic… until one of the evil Councilors brings the Wyld into the city on purpose.

A few typos exist, but because it’s an ARC, those will likely be gone in the final copy. Even if they’re not, there weren’t a lot: The grammar itself was clean and any “oopsies” were definitely typos.

While I liked the marewings, their relationship with the rider-that-tamed-them reminded me of Anne McCaffrey’s dragon/rider relationship. The dragonlings introduced briefly follow all of her rules and are described identically. Whirling eyes, starving when they’re born, imprinting on the first person who throws meat down their gullets. However, enough new and interesting concepts exist that it only perturbed grumpy old me slightly.

If you enjoy fantasy and are looking for a new world to sink your teeth into, I would recommend A Flight of Marewings. Ms. Walker also has several other books out, so if you find her storytelling engaging, you can dig into more. This book is the first in a series, and I eagerly anticipate more of the Wyld magic that winds through her world.

If you’d like to enter to win one of five eBook copies or a signed paperback of A Flight of Marewings, click here to enter the Rafflecopter drawing. Also, if you missed Friday’s guest post by author Kristen S. Walker, go check it out.

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And just who am I?

About a year ago, I happened upon a thought that had been rattling around in my head for years. “When I retire,” I thought, “I’m going to read and write all the time.” Never mind that I’m a mere 32 years old. Never mind that retirement is more years away than graduating college–or even high school. Never mind that putting off the two things that I’ve loved since I was a child was ridiculous. “I’ll write in my twilight years. No need to worry about it now,” is what I’d been telling myself for almost ten years.

When the thought slid into the light of my consciousness, I was shocked. I realized I had been denying myself something that was an essential part of me.

I used to devour books. In elementary school, I’d go to the library and wander the aisles. I’d take a stack of books to the librarian and, barely as tall as the counter, hand over my library card with a smile. I’d carry a book wherever I went. I’d read on the bus, at the dinner table (until my mother would force me to put it away), under the covers at night. And then, something in my little heart shifted, and I wanted to create something. So I wrote short stories and essays and finally, my crowning achievement, a book.

That book is tucked away in a dusty corner of my hard drive. I’ve not had the courage to pull it out again. But it’s compelled me to recapture that same feeling I had as a child.

So a year ago, I started to write and read again. And revise and learn and grow. And laugh and cry and love what I was doing.

I’ve rediscovered the joy that I had a child, a joy which I’m sure many of you share.

I’m sure that, like many things, this blog will change and grow as I do. But for now, I’m planning to blog book reviews. I have met many wonderful writers on Twitter and on the Absolute Write forums, and I want to help them and those like them spread their heart’s creations. I hope that this blog will help me meet more great people, find more awesome stories to read, and help me spread the stories I love–both mine and those I’ve stumbled upon.

My first love is science fiction and fantasy. Although I’ll review some Young Adult and New Adult books, I’m at a time in my life where I appreciate Adult stories more. I wanted to say “Adult themes,” but that doesn’t have the right connotation. I read some romance and erotica, but I like the stories that focus on growth, hard choices, and difficult life events that happen to us as we get older. I’m a sucker for dark stories. I love psychological horror, but I can’t do the gory kind. I love flawed heroes. I love “bad or worse” decisions. I love beautifully developed worlds. Hard science as a complement to a well-told sci-fi story makes me heart go pitter-patter.

I’ll warn you: I’m tough. I don’t give five stars very often, and only when the book changed something about my own world. I’m crazy about grammar. In this day and age, I believe a polished story is worth its weight in gold.

In summary, I hope this blog adds something to my life and to yours.

So tell me: What books do you want me to review?

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