Wounded by Jasinda Wilder Review

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War has taken everything from me. My family. My home. My innocence. In a country blasted by war and wracked by economic hardship, a young orphan girl like me has very few options when it comes to survival. Thus, I do what I must to live, to eat, and I try very hard to not consider the cost to my soul. My heart is empty, and my existence brutal.

The one impossibility in my life is love.

And then I meet HIM.

War is hell. It takes a chunk out of a man’s very soul to do the kinds of things war demands of you. You live with fear, you live with guilt, and you live with nightmares. If you haven’t been through it, there’s no understanding it. War leaves no room for love, no room for tenderness or softness. You gotta be hard, closed off, and ready to fight every moment of every day. Lose focus for a split second, and you’re dead.

Now the only thing that can save me is HER. – Goodreads

Wounded was an interesting read, but for me I feel like it fell short.

The book tells the story of Rania who in order to survive war-torn Iraq she has to become a prostitute. Rania has no one. Her whole family is dead except her brother goes off to join the insurgents. Rania’s is a fighter. I felt horrible for the moments in her life that brought her to prostitution.

“I am not a woman, I am a thing. An object, a servant for their needs. Sex is a tool.”

It was hard to read of some of the situations Rania experienced. There are many cringe-worthy moments and depictions of rape throughout this novel. If that is a hard limit for you as a reader I would suggest skipping this. It was written tastefully and not overly graphic, but it is still hard to read about.

During a shootout between American troops and insurgents, Rania finds Marine Hunter. Badly wounded and knocking on death’s door, Rania rescues Hunter and decides to treat him.

They both learn to communicate and their relationship starts to grow.

“There is so much. I had no fucking clue I could feel this way, this much. It’s like some deep well opened up inside me, and now all the love in all the world is being poured through me into her.”

I liked the idea of them together. Hunter and Rania have both witnessed the horror and destruction of war and find out that despite their differences they are very similar. What I didn’t like was the intimate scenes. Now I LOVE steamy books but knowing the life that Rania has lived and hurt she is,  I just couldn’t get into it. I guess I just felt like the girl needed more than the love of a man to heal her. And Hunter is a good guy and I liked how he felt about Rania, and saw her as more than a prostitute, but I just couldn’t get into it.

The writing I thought was great, and I felt the emotions of both characters. I think had the book been a little longer with more interaction between them, and maybe less of the sexy scenes toward the end I might have liked it better. I guess it was just too dark of novel for me to feel the peace at the end like the characters did.

3 stars*

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Interview with J.L. Hickey

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About this author

Joe lives in Saginaw, Michigan where he has a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing through Saginaw Valley State University. Joe has written and is currently self publishing his first novel entitled The Deity Chronicles: Origins.

His recent release, The Secret Seekers Society and the Beast of Bladenboro was released 12/31/12 and had already been a huge success (at least in his eyes lol).

He also dabbles in literary short fiction, and poetry.

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1.       What inspired Secret Seekers Society and the Beast of Bladenboro? How did you come up with the characters?

Inspiration came from my obsession with anything paranormal. I actually founded a paranormal group named MIParanormal, and we do a handful of cases a year around Mid-Michigan. Even as a kid, Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Nessie, Mothman, all these legendary creatures captured my imagination.

As for the characters, when I released my first book four years ago, I made a promise to my sister to fictionalize her kids into a book for them. This book was intended to be written only for my family, as a Christmas present to them this year actually. It all changed after I wrote about half of the book, and I realized I was on to something bigger. Originally it was going to be a series of novella’s where the two kids would hunt down a different cyrptoid. It quickly changed into something bigger, and something much more different.

Digging deeper from the surface read, honestly and simply put, the books inspiration for me was a therapeutic pursuit of my inner child dealing with the loss of my father. The kid in me never healed from the pain of his loss. The main characters are fictionalized persona’s based heavily off my niece and nephew, with the exception of Hunter, who to be quite honest, started off with that concept, but slowly turned into a mixed character between my nephew and myself as a child.

The narrative story arc is told through a fantasy lens, mixed in with monsters and secret societies, but the layering of the piece in its entirety truly exposes how scary and lonely the world can be when those who take care of you are stolen away from your life.

It can take a life time to fully come to terms with such loss, if one is even ever able to.

Death does not just change a persona emotionally, but can easily change you physically as well. The children represent my personally emotional turmoil as to how I felt when my father died. The mansion and the crazy world the children are dumped into, represents the physical struggle I endured.

2.       What does your nephew and niece think about being characters in the story?

They think it’s cool. But they are caught up in their young-adult lives, and neither has finished the book. Their too caught up in being a kid, and neither are big readers.

3.       What are you working on now?

The first thing you learn when you go into self-publishing is you spend a hell of a lot of time doing self-promoting. Right now outside of my 50 hours a week retail job, I am spending 30 to 40 hours a week utilizing social tools, trying to build a larger network, and sending out emails to book bloggers, like yourself. So, I am working hard on promoting this book.

I have started the outline process of its predecessor, Secret Seekers Society and Solomon’s Ring. I will be very excited to actual begin fleshing out the manuscript. It’s my hope to release it December 2013.

4.       How many books do you plan to have in the series?

I have roughly eight books outlined. Of course, this is always viable to change. In fact, depending on its success,  I have been toying with the idea of creating shorter spin offs starring the secondary characters like Alistair and Olivia, to dig deeper into their goals and needs.

5.       Favorite moment/scene in Beast of Bladenboro?

I really love the first scene where the children are being driven to the Mansion. You are introduced to the children who are confused, vulnerable, and are in extreme emotional turmoil. They have this fragile bond, where they depend on one another, yet also use each other as their emotional outlet, often times they can’t even comprehend why they say and do the things they do, and you witness this within the first few pages.

One of my favorite images that stand out in my head when I think of the book, is seeing the two children staring up bleakly at this daunting gothic styles mansion, with two giant ominous gargoyle monoliths peering down at them.  The cold rain stinging their young cheeks, mixing their salty confused tears with the pureness of nature, it’s a powerful image.

6. Favorite Book of all time?

The graphic novel, The Watchmen hands down. This narrative is so deep, so well thought out, and plays on so many levels of humanity. One of the deepest and richest stories I have ever had the pleasure to read.

7.       Favorite quote of all time?

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

― Maya Angelou

8.       Other than Seekers Secret Society series what other ideas/books have you thought about writing?

My first book, the Deity Chronicles, follows a young boy who unravels a mystery alternate world where magic replaces technology, and he is their long long Deity.

I have also been working on a few other books over the last few years that have failed to get passed early drafts.

One called the Nihilism Project, centers a dystopian future where God is falsely proven to be fiction, and how it crumbles certain aspects of the culture.

Another is a revenge tale called The Protectors. It’s my take on a urban fantasy  graphic novel inspired novel.

9.       What made you want to write?

I have always written.  I have been spinning tales since grade school. My first book I ever wrote starred myself and two best friends as we escaped a pyramid and a possessed mummy.  That was some good literature right there.

10.   Any advice for future authors?

Love to write, and write for love.  Build bridges with everyone you know, do by them right, and they will do you right. Follow the golden rule. Maybe you’re wondering why this is important, who the hell cares how I treat people? The only reason I was able to fund this project of mine, is because I have been able to create and maintain relationships throughout my life based on a very few simple and basic rules.

-Always be genuine and kind.

-Be the first to help, when help is needed.

-Any other artists, share their works, promote their pages, and you will never have to ask when it comes time for yours to be promoted.

-Just be the best person you can be. Plus, it just feels good.

So how does that help me as a writer?  When it came down for me to ask for donations to fund my book, those people who I have helped, who I have kept a strong bridge with, they were the first ones who came to my aid. When it came down for me to need help with promotion, it was those people who promoted my book, who reviewed it, etc.

Thanks again to J.L. Hickey for stopping by My Book Muse today and answering all our questions! 

Help raise awareness of Beast of Bladenboro here & Make sure to check out my review of  Secret Seekers Society and the Beast of Bladenboro here and make sure to purchase your copy today!

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Sins & Needles (The Artist’s Trilogy #1)

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Ellie Watt is used to starting over. The daughter of a grifting team, Ellie spent her childhood being used as a pawn in her parents’ latest scam. Now she’s much older, wiser and ready to give her con artist life a rest. But returning to the dry desert town of Palm Valley, California means one more temptation than she bargained for – Camden McQueen. Once known as the high school weirdo, Camden is bigger and badder than the boy he used to be and a talented tattoo artist with his own thriving business. Ellie’s counting on Camden still being in love with her but what she’s not counting on is how easily unrequited love can turn into obsession over time. When Camden discovers Ellie’s plan to con him, he makes her a deal she doesn’t dare refuse, but her freedom comes with a price and it’s one that takes both Ellie and Camden down a dangerous road. -Goodreads

Wow. Freaking. Awesome.

Reading Sins & Needles was like getting a tattoo: exciting, kinda scary, a little painful, but worth it for the end result.

Ellie Watt is many things. A con. A cheat. A liar. Growing up in a family of grifters, Ellie is a product of her environment. When most girls were playing with barbies, Ellie was learning to pick locks. Ellie grew up in the school of hard knocks and has returned home to her uncle’s home in Palm Valley in hopes of becoming legit. But as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

“Why are you so afraid of me?” I asked him softly. I thought he’d look perplexed at the question but he only looked chagrined. “I’ve always been afraid of you, little Hellie. You’ve got something dark inside you, you always have. I don’t want to be around when it comes out.”

While Ellie is deceptive there is also a vulnerability to her that makes her a likeable person. This book is written with flashbacks of Ellie’s past and we learn a little more about how she became the way she is. As most of us know, high school is a cruel, cruel place. People are mean and unsympathetic to things they don’t understand. Not only does Ellie deal with the regular pressure of being a teenager, but she also has the added horror of her parents lifestyle hanging clouding her reputation, as well as a certain physical issue that was a result of it.

“She would do anything, give everything, just to be equal with everyone else. And if she was lucky, maybe she’d get to rise above them too. Maybe she’d be able to look down on them one day, the way that they looked down on her.”

The flashbacks to Ellie’s past are heartbreaking. I started to see her in a new light. Ellie did not do these horrible things for the thrill of it, she did it out of necessity.

“You’re a bad person, Ellie,” he said without a trace of irony.
“I’m not bad. The world is bad and I’m just trying to survive in it.”

Camden is no stranger to hell. Being the high school pariah, he and Ellie formed a friendship that ended horribly. But now Camden is all grown up. He is sexy, successful and he has a few skeletons in his closet as well. The chemistry between Ellie and Camden is sizzling.

“I know what I know of you,” he whispered into my ear, his breath hot. “And I want to know more.”

While Ellie is trying to outrun her past and plan her future, Camden isn’t the only complication ahead of her. Without getting too into details a few ‘ghosts’ from her past are trying to interfere in her ‘new’ life and let’s say poor girl has not had it easy.

Ellie and Camden are layered and complex. So different but yet so very similar.

“Do you think because you can’t see my own scars, that they don’t exist? That’s the trouble with pain, Ellie. If you’re lucky, you can wear it for all the world to see. Most people have their pain deep inside, in places no one ever goes. Not until it’s too late.”

I LOVED Ellie. So yea she has a seedy past and does some pretty immoral things but I felt for her. I understood why she did what she did. And Camden….ugh so passionate, so intense, so sexy, and yet scary as hell sometimes. There were moments where I loved him, and then moments I feared him.

“He bared his teeth in a smile before leaning into my ear. ‘I own you, Ellie Watt,’ he whispered. The words sounded just like a cell door closing. Behind me.”

Now I won’t get into any more because I don’t want to leak spoilers, but the book was fantastic. The story was complex, sexy and fun as hell to read. And the ending…..let’s just say it took me a little bit to get myself together. And look at that mancandy down there 😉

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Now I am slightly biased because I am a huge Karina Halle fan. As many as you know I gush about Perry and Dex (Experiment in Terror series, check it out!) all the time, and I loved ‘Devil’s Metal’ but I have to say this book is so different from both those series, but still so totally awesome. Karina doesn’t not write the standard hero/heroine characters. They are deeply flawed. But there is a perfection to the imperfection. The situations aren’t sugarcoated. You will not get your standard HEA. More than likely you will get a crazy ass cliffhanger that leaves you dying for the next installment (just like this one!).

Oh and another reason why I love Karina’s books, especially this one, is because of the badass playlists I have afterwards. I have a whole soundtrack of Dex and Perry songs, as well as Devil’s Metal, and now with Sins & Needles. I am a HUGE music buff so now every time I hear NIN, Billy Joel, and now Dire Straits (teared up immediately, perfect choice btw) I associate these songs with these incredible characters that inhabit my mind. Music is so emotional and powerful and to pair that with my feelings towards a book/character/scene is just awesome. And if you walk away with anything from reading these books a little musical education cannot hurt.

If your looking for a intense, sexy, intriguing story to get into with REAL people with REAL problems you cannot find a better way to spend the night then curling up with Sins & Needles.

5 stars*

ARC Review (subject to change)

Purchase:

Amazon

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