Welcome to my Love in Bloom Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Portrait of a Book. This hop runs from May 16th – 22nd and you can win a ton of new reads! Check out all of the participating blogs here.
I am giving away a copy of The Espressologist by Kristina Springer.
About the book:
Just fill out the widget to enter for a chance to win. US addresses only, please
Title: Storm Force
Author: Susnnah Sandlin
May Contain Spoilers
I will admit that the idea of reading books as serials holds little appeal for me. I have so many books to read, and the thought of having to download each episode, and then find the time to squeeze it into my packed reading schedule, seems like a lot of work. I’m also afraid that once I start one, I’ll get distracted and not finish it, and the very thought of that frustrates me. I hate the idea of getting caught up in a story, liking the characters, and then not getting closure because they have gotten bumped to the bottom of my Kindle. I was interested enough in Storm Force, though, to sign up for the blog tour with Bewitching Book Tours, and curious enough to see how the episodic thing would work. While I’m still not convinced that the serial format will ever ring my bell, I did enjoy the first episode of this book quite a bit, and even uttered an impassioned “no! It can’t be the end!” when I hit the end of Episode 1.
After a high-rise bombing in Houston, all fingers point squarely at Mori Chastaine and her environmental group she heads. Mori is blind-sided by the accusations, then terrified when she realizes that her family and the man they promised her to when she was a child are involved in the bombing. If she doesn’t give into their demands and marry Michael, she fears more people will die. When Jack “Kell” Kellison walks into her life, she thinks that he just might be her ticket to freedom. What Mori doesn’t know is that Kell is part of a top secret special ops team, and that several members of his team are shape-shifters. Their mission is to find out who is responsible for the bombing, and stop them before they strike again.
The first episode is four chapters in length, and it kept me glued to my Kindle. I was even a bad mom and forgot to feed the puppies! They had their dinner 40 minutes late (with some pasta added in a bid for forgiveness), and I continued reading while they munched down their kibble. There’s just enough setup to get the reader familiar with the characters, and then bam! the intrigue blasts off at full force. I didn’t feel that I got a good handle on Kell’s personality, but something about Mori resonated with me, and I instantly liked her and wanted to know more about her. Her family is cold and uncaring, more concerned that she fulfill her duty than achieve any kind of happiness in life. Her mother had me cringing. I couldn’t imagine having such an unfeeling woman for a caretaker. Ugh!
One thing that’s important with serials is that there’s enough interest and momentum to make the reader excited to get that next installment. This first episode did exactly that; I was caught up in Mori’s struggle to prove her innocence and find a way to stop Michael from killing a bunch of innocent people again. Some guys just can’t accept the word no, I guess, and that had me wondering why? So, I’d say that this installment definitely had me engaged in the story, and ensured that I would be back for the next one. The initial price point of $1.99 is an added incentive to give the book a try.(The entire book is now available for $3.99)
Grade: B/ B+
Review copy provided by Bewitching Book Tours
Please give Susannah Sandlin a warm welcome! She’s here to chat about Storm Force, her new paranormal romance. This will be released in serial format by Montlake Romance. After the interview, I have one serial subscription to give to one of you. Check back later today to read my review of Episode 1, too!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Susannah Sandlin] Obsessive workaholic, hopeless romantic, eccentrically Southern, music-loving, sleep-deprived, deadline-driven, dog-owning, reality-TV junkie.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Storm Force?
[Susannah Sandlin] It’s a blend of paranormal romance and thriller-suspense involving the Omega Force, a quasi-military black ops team who handles cases of domestic terrorism. The team is half Army Rangers and half shapeshifters—an eagle shifter and two black jaguar shifter brothers. In Storm Force, what looks like an act of eco-terrorism in Houston brings on the team, and team leader Jack Kellison soon learns the chief suspect, an environmental activist named Mori, is a lot more than she seems. There are bombs, romance, dark secrets, romance, kidnappings, romance—and a hurricane. Lots of tension; lots of humor.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Susannah Sandlin] When I was finishing the third book in my Penton Legacy paranormal romance series, Omega, I came up with the idea of this combined human-paranormal team that could be used as a top-secret special operations unit with shadowy ties to the military. The Penton books are vampire romances, though, so I wanted to expand beyond the vampire world and also really jack up the thriller/suspense aspects of the story. I like thrillers, and I like paranormal romance, so it seemed as if it would be a fun project to combine the two. The Penton books had a strong element of suspense in them as well, but not as high-octane as Storm Force. The characters…I never really know where my characters come from. I knew I wanted six team members and that three would be human Army Rangers and three would be shapeshifters. I developed Kell and Mori, the hero and heroine, first, and then developed the surrounding cast. As usual, I fell in love with my secondary characters as well!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Mori?
[Susannah Sandlin] Dedicated. Independent. Desperate.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Kell had a theme song, what would it be?
[Susannah Sandlin] Kell’s theme song is actually mentioned in the book. It’s a song by a Texas singer-songwriter named Slaid Cleaves, called “Borderline.” The song itself is about an illegal immigrant from Mexico desperately trying to provide for his family, but it’s the chorus that makes it Kell’s theme song, because as he falls in love with Mori and becomes more desperate to help her out of this huge mess she’s in, he finds himself crossing lines he never thought he would. The chorus is: “When love for family is stronger than fear, when desperation sets in, a man will cross any line that is drawn, and who’s to say it’s a sin?” That chorus gives me chills, because we all find our limits tested as we go through life—although hopefully not in such an extreme way as Kell!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Mori is never without.
[Susannah Sandlin] LOL. Her backpack. As I was writing the book, I kept forgetting it, then having to go back through several chapters to see where she left it last. It has a couple of items in it that really don’t need to fall into the wrong hands, so she really needs to keep up with it better.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Kell’s bedroom?
[Susannah Sandlin] Anything frilly or pink. A cat (he has a Catahoula hound named Gator). A ferry pass from Galveston, Texas, to the Bolivar Peninsula (bad memories).
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Mori’s greatest regret?
[Susannah Sandlin] That she was made a pawn in an act that resulted in the deaths of a lot of people. She’d never intentionally hurt anyone, but because of inaction and bad decisions and fear, a lot of people suffered.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Susannah Sandlin] Music. I draw a lot of ideas from lyrics or moods or stories told in the songs I love, like the chorus lyrics from “Borderline.” I also have my “idea generating” magazines: Discover, National Geographic, Mental Floss, Smithsonian. I tuck away bits of trivia that can later germinate into ideas for characters or stories or situations.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Susannah Sandlin] A deadline—probably my journalism background, but if I don’t have a deadline I will piddle around and get nothing done. A decent block of time—at least an hour, but preferably three or four. And my laptop. I can write anywhere if I have those three things.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Susannah Sandlin] Okay, it’s a bit of a strange one, I guess, but it’s a book that’s coming out in the U.S. in a couple of weeks called APOCALYPSE COW, by Michael Logan. It’s a satire on all the zombie apocalypse books, wherein a government experiment goes horribly wrong and there’s an uprising of flesh-eating zombie cows in Scotland. Really, really funny. At least once on every second or third page, I’d literally laugh out loud.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Susannah Sandlin] When I was a kid, I was so obsessed with Heidi that I wanted to drink milk out of a bowl…and I didn’t like milk (still don’t). But the one that hooked me into becoming an obsessive reader was probably Penmarric by Susan Howatch. I ended up reading all of her books. They’re big, sprawling, multi-generational gothic stories.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Susannah Sandlin] I do have this no-longer-secret affinity for reality-TV shows. I keep up a really strict writing regimen since I also have a day job, so I DVR them and watch them when I have a few minutes to spare. Sometimes, there are no minutes, which is why I have the entire last season of “Swamp People” I haven’t watched yet.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Susannah Sandlin] I’m reachable by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Facebook: www.facebook.com/susannahsandlin. My website: www.susannahsandlin.com. Twitter: @SusannahSandlin. I also write urban fantasy under the name Suzanne Johnson and have a daily book blog, Preternatura: Suzanne-johnson.blogspot.com.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
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Omega Force #1