**Notice** Due to transfering back from a godaddy hosted wordpress blog back to blogger, reviews published before june 2017 don`t all have a pretty layout with book cover and infos. Our apologies.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Random Act of Kindness: February Edition

The girls at Book Soulmates started a very cool project. The concept is to post a wish list and someone might just send a gift to you! Of course, you might wanna be nice to and offer someone something from their wish list as well!

Here are the details, from their website.


• Sign up each month you'd like to participate in.

• Show off your participation! Grab one of the buttons available :)

• Create a wishlist and post it in the Google Doc located in each R.A.K post for the month.

{Post on your blog, Amazon, where ever as long as there's a link to it.}

• If you choose to do a R.A.K for someone, check out their wishlist and contact that blogger for their address.

• At the end of the month, SHOW US YOUR R.A.K!

Make a post saying 'Thank You' to whoever granted one of your wishes and share it with us :)


Let's keep our International bloggers in mind and in our hearts.

Remember, there's always the Book Depository and they offer FREEshipping!

Last month I received

Touch of Power (Avry of Kazan, #1)

by Kayleigh

Thank you!! <3


I also offered...

EntwinedThe Unidentified

to Michelle                 to Grace      


Here’s my wish list for this month ^^ I know it’s quite long, but you’ll have plenty to choose from!

If you wish to offer me something, just email me at TyngaUF(a)gmail.com and I will give you my mailing addy

  • Beautiful Chaos – Kami & Margaret

  • Fallen in Love by Lauren Kate

  • Venom, Tangled Threads & Spider’s Revenge– Jennifer Estep

  • Frostbitten, Waking the Witch – Kelley Armstrong (I’d like the MM edition, to match my collection ^^)

  • Thirteen – Kelley Armstrong

  • Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon (MM please ^^)

  • Alien Huntress series by Gena Showalter

  • Wrong Side of Dead – Kelly Meding

  • Wings of the Wicked – Courtney Allison Moulton

  • Wraith by Phaedra Weldon

  • Cold Sight – Leslie Parish

  • The Rift Walker -  Clay & Susan Griffith

  • Charlie Madigan series by Kelly Gay

I really hope you join the fun! I think it’s a great way to meet new bloggers as well as give a bit of joy in this world!

“When I’m not writing” with James R. Tuck + giveaway!

celebrity with words Today’s visit is from James R. Tuck, a new dark urban fantasy author. He’s stopping by as part of his Blood, Blogs, and Bullets tour, celebrating the release of his first novel, the start of an exciting new series about Deacon Chalk, an Occult Bounty Hunter.

Last week, I told you how much I enjoyed his novella, That Thing at the Zoo, which introduces us to Deacon in the most wonderful way. I’m looking forward to Blood and Bullets and hope you are, too.

Keep reading to find out what James does when he’s not putting words on the page. And don't forget to enter the giveaway at the end of the post!

You mean there is a life outside of writing? LOL. Well, writing does take up a LOT of my time. In approximately one year I have written about 195,000 words in the Deaconverse. (And I will top 300,000 by April.) Plus I have written short stories and short screenplays in between. So I do a LOT of writing.

But my day job is just as interesting. I have been a professional Tattoo Artist for over a decade and a half. I own my own shop called Family Tradition Tattoo in Marietta, Ga.  Here is a picture of the shop.

Family Tradition Tattoo

I love my shop. Tattooing is something that I love to do. The chance to create art on someone’s skin is an experience that cannot be described, not even by a writer! And I have built a clientele that lets me really go wild and do some nice custom tattooing. Here’s some examples:

Tattooing  tattooing again

And when I am not at work I have a lovely family that I really enjoy spending time with. I am lucky enough to have a wonderful wife who is not only easy on the eyes but she is funny and charming. We still stay up to the wee hours of the night just talking. I have daughter who is growing up to be a lovely young woman. She is getting ready to start college next year and I am very proud of her. My son is becoming a personality of his own. It is fun to watch him become an individual. Our family also includes my wife’s nephew who is a pleasure to be around. He’s a sharp kid. There is a lot of snark and laughter at the Tuck house. Here is us at the Georgia Aquarium.


Finally I am a fan of the firearms. I have a carry permit and a growing selection of guns. There is nothing as fun as a day at the range.

And there you have it. I have a full life and I love it.


Thank you for visiting the blog today, James! It sounds like your life off the page is just as exciting as Deacon’s is in your book!

For more James, check out his website. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter, or catch his musings on his blog. You can also try his goodreads page or visit some of the other stops on his tour by clicking on the banner:



Here’s the scoop on the Deacon Chalk series:
Blood & Bullets by James R Tuck
Since hunting down the monster who took the lives of his wife and children five years ago, occult bounty-hunter Deacon Chalk has lived by only one rule.
He does not work for the monsters. He kills them.

So why would a vampire try to hire him as protection against another monster hunter? After enforcing his only rule Deacon goes to meet the target, a vampire slayer named Nyteblade. Professional courtesy demands he tell this Nyteblade the vampires are hiring people to kill him. Deacon finds the vampire slayer waiting in an alley.

Waiting to stake him.

He discovers that Nyteblade is a bumbling, fumbling, wanna-be instead of a badass vampire hunter. Someone who needs saving from monsters instead of the other way around. This is proven when a horde of vampires descend and he has to escape while trying to keep Nyteblade alive.

Someone has set Deacon up. Someone wants him dead. 

Someone should have sent more vampires.

Bound and determined, Deacon will find out who tried to kill him no matter how many bloodsuckers, were-spiders, cursed immortals, undead strippers, or insanely powerful hell-bitches he has to wade through.

It's going to be a long night.

Pre-order: Amazon | Book Depository

And the e-prequel, available now:

That Thing at the Zoo by James R Tuck
Shredding monsters is his stock and trade. He sniffs them out, tracks them down, and corners them. End of story. But when the tables are turned, expect the unexpected. . .

Knowing his enemy is a rule Deacon Chalk swears by. But he's never seen anything like whatever is leaving the Atlanta Zoo's most dangerous predators bloodless, skinned, and hanging high in treetops. And he's only got till sunrise to keep it from turning the entire city into a slaughterhouse. Now Deacon is in zoo lockdown with a handful of staffers to save. His zookeeper backup has more guts than monster-hunting experience. And the only chance Deacon has to run this thing to unholy ground is to risk unleashing his darkest, most uncontrollable instincts. . .

 Purchase: Amazon

Want to get your hands on Blood and Bullets?

James is offering one (1) signed and personalized copy to a lucky reader.

To enter, obey the Rafflecopter!

Giveaway closes February 11, 2012 (the end of James’ tour).

Canada/US only.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Guest Post: Katie Reus author of Alpha Instinct


A little about Katie Reus: I’ve been reading romance from a young age—ever since I discovered my mom’s hidden stash. Luckily the addiction stayed with me into adulthood. I write paranormal romance and sexy romantic suspense for Carina Press, Harlequin Nocturne, and NAL/Signet Eclipse.




Thanks so much to Tynga for hosting me today!

I grew up in Florida though I now live in the South (which ‘the South’ is technically north of Florida, go figure). Almost everyone I know where I currently live goes hunting in the winter, my husband included. Since my husband is so familiar with the forest around here he took me out so I could watch the way animals react to scent as part of my research.

In Alpha Instinct, most of my main characters are lupine shifters and their extrasensory abilities are akin to that of regular wolves or other forest creatures. So, I wanted to see how real animals reacted to human scent. It’s one thing to read about it, but another entirely to see animals in the wild.

So we trekked through the woods, both wearing specially washed clothes and I had been ‘forbidden’ to wear perfume or lotion, etc. After climbing into a giant tree stand, we sat there and waited. Not gonna lie, I got pretty bored but luckily I brought my Kindle. After sitting there for what felt like forever, we heard a rustling below us. A few seconds later a herd of wild sows and one boar cautiously came out of the woods to the left of us (we were high above them). They moved along at a steady pace until they came upon the trail where we had just come from and it was like they ran into a brick wall. They made all sorts of squealing noises and immediately turned and backtracked the way they’d come. It was so cool to see the way they reacted to our ‘predator’ scents.

Wolves have an even greater sense of smell. Some scientists believe their sense of smell is up to 100 times greater than humans. When writing Alpha Instinct it was cool knowing that I wasn’t exaggerating my characters’ extrasensory abilities! I adore wolves or anything from the canine family and I think (or hope) that shows in my new Moon Shifter series.

Alpha Instinct (Moon Shifter, #1)Fear has a scent. So does desire…

Ana Cordona has been a strong leader for the lupine shifters who survived after all the males and most of the females in her pack were mysteriously poisoned. As tough as she is, with no Alpha male, the pack is vulnerable to the devious shifter Taggart, who wants to claim both their ranch and Ana as his own. When Connor Armstrong comes back into her life, promising protection, it’s almost enough to make Ana forget how he walked out on her before—and reluctantly accept his offer to mate.

The minute Connor sees Ana again, it reawakens a raw hunger. He must have her for his bondmate—his wolf cries out for it. But his human side knows he must proceed with caution because of their complicated past. If he is to truly have her body and soul, he must go beyond his burning desire and win back her heart. Whatever it takes, he is determined not to leave her side again.
But Taggart and his rival pack are not their only enemies. A human element in town is targeting shifters. Their plan not only threatens Ana and Connor’s future, but the lives of the entire pack…

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

What do you like about paranormal romance? What is your favorite type of paranormal creature in romance? Answer either question or just leave a comment about today’s blog post and be entered to win a copy of Alpha Instinct (US and Canada only). There will be two winners.


Katie is offering two (2) copies of Alpha Instinct!

Open to US & Canada Only

To enter: Fill the rafflecopter form below and answer Katie’s questions!

Ends February 6th, 2012.

By A Thread by Jennifer Estep

imageBy A Thread by Jennifer Estep

Book Stats:
Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban fantasy
Mass market paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Pocket
Release date: February 28, 2012

Series: Elemental Assassin #6

Source: Author

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

When killing people is your job, there’s no such thing as a vacation.

Then again, how often does an assassin live long enough to enjoy her retirement? In this line of work, you either get lucky or you get dead. And since I destroyed my nemesis Mab Monroe a few weeks ago, all of Ashland’s lowlifes are gunning to make a name for themselves by taking out the lethal Spider—me, Gin Blanco. So I’m leaving behind my beloved barbecue joint and heading south with my baby sister, Bria, to cool my heels in a swanky beach town. Call it a weekend of fun in the sun. But when a powerful vampire with deadly elemental magic threatens an old friend of Bria’s, it looks like I’ll have to dig my silverstone knives out of my suitcase after all. Complicating matters further is the reappearance of Detective Donovan Caine, my old lover. But Donovan is the least of my problems. Because this time, the danger is hot on my trail, and not even my elemental Ice and Stone magic may be enough to save me from getting buried in the sand—permanently.

Yay, Jennifer Estep!! By now, I’m sure you’ve all figured out that I love, love, love, LOVE her work. She’s one of my favourite authors and her Elemental Assassins books are consistently excellent. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from By A Thread since it’s the beginning of a new chapter in the series, and I was worried that Gin would be directionless with Mab dead. I really shouldn’t have worried, though, because Jennifer has delivered a smorgasbord of awesome in By A Thread. The author maintains all of the things I love about Gin and her world -- clever plot, beautifully choreographed fight scenes tempered by quiet emotional moments, stellar characters -- and added in some extra goodies like the unexpected return of Donovan Caine, some flashbacks to her life with Fletcher, and a whole new setting. It’s also the first post-Mab book, which makes it a milestone in the series.

At the end of Spider’s Revenge, Gin’s in a relatively good place, having accomplished her goal of killing Mab without dying herself. Unfortunately, this has created a new problem for Gin: she’s been outted as the Spider and now everyone wants to kill her to prove how wicked they are. A couples’ weekend away seems like the solution: she can get away from Ashland and the slew of folks wanting to prove themselves and spend time with Finn, Bria, and Owen. Of course, if things went smoothly, it would be an uneventful novel and so Jennifer Estep has thrown a new enemy at Gin: a 300-year-old vampire who’s threatening Bria’s best friend, Callie.

Can I just take a moment and say that assassins on vacation almost always make for a great story?

As interesting as I found the baddy in the book, it was the emotional storyline that I was most invested in, maybe because I know there’s another Elemental Assassin novel due out this year. I’ve been wondering what happened to Donovan Caine since he dumped Gin in such a heartless fashion and now I know. And although they’ve both moved on from their relationship (if we can call it that), his reappearance stirs up a lot of feelings in Gin and we get to see a more vulnerable part of her. In fact, By A Thread really exposes a lot of Gin’s vulnerabilities, particularly when it comes to her relationship with her sister. After all, now that Mab’s dead, Bria doesn’t really need Gin’s protection anymore and it leaves them -- and me -- to wonder if they can have a relationship when they’re so morally divided.

On the Donovan front, it was great to see how much Gin has grown since they were lovers. Donovan is less changed but he wasn’t particularly flexible in the earlier novels so I wasn’t terribly surprised. He’s still got all fo the qualities that made him attractive to Gin in the first place, though, and I was happy to see that Jennifer didn’t take the easy route and make him completely unlikeable. There was one scene that in which I found his actions a bit out of character but it could just be me. (If you see it too when you read the novel, let me know in the comments, please. I’m *dying* to talk about it with someone.)

It’s impossible not to compare Donovan and Owen and this highlights just how awesome Owen is. He accepts Gin’s profession and abilities without judgment, something Donovan could never do, and he understands that they are a part of what makes her who she is. It’s something I knew about him a long time ago, especially when he made her special knives, but it was gratifying to see them interact.

All in all, By A Thread is a wonderful entry into the Elemental Assassin series and I can’t wait to see what happens to Gin in Widow’s Web. In the meanwhile, I’ll have to tide myself over with Thread of Death, a brand new e-novella that is being released tomorrow. It’s set between Spider’s Revenge and By A Thread. You can read all about it on Jennifer’s blog. Make sure you get your copy, too!

Read an excerpt


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Exclusive Facebook Fans Giveaway!


In the hopes of drawing more readers and more interactions to Tynga’s Reviews facebook page, I'd like to do a giveaway exclusive to my facebook fans!

What's the prize?

Well I decided to offer you the choice of 1 out of 3 Harper Collins ebook.

It'll be a kindle edition, but worry not, you don't need to own this device to read the book, as there are many reading options =)

The three titles I selected?

* Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

* Nightwalker by Jocelynn Drake

* Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris


How to enter?

That's very easy!

* You must like Tynga's Reviews on facebook

* You must share the facebook page with your book loving friends

* You must leave a comment on the facebook note letting me know you did!

Giveaway Ends on February 12th, 2012.

Kindle Deals

There are still some awesome deals going on on Amazon, make sure you don’t miss them!

** Prices are accurate at time of posting, make sure you double check before you hit purchase =)






















2,51$ 2,99$ 0,99$

  Happy Reading!


Saturday, January 28, 2012


I’m just an 18 year old girl from New Jersey that loves to read. Books have been a huge part of my life ever since I was little. You’ll most likely see me reviewing young adult books with a few adult books thrown into the mix. I prefer the paranormal romance and urban fantasy genres to anything else, but every now and then you have to throw an amazing contemporary into the mix!
I aspire to be a publicist or an editor in the young adult book publishing industry, thus I’ll be pursuing an English and Publishing dual degree wherever I decide to attend college in the Fall. I hope to go to college in Boston, Massachusetts than move to New York City once I graduate.
Aside from reading, you’ll probably find me working at my local public library or watching a Giants football game with my Dad. A vegetarian for over ten years, animals are really important to me and I’m often found reading with my cat curled up around me.
Don't hesitate to follow me on Twitter of friend me on Goodreads. You can also find me on my personal blog, Lili's Reflections.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Advertise on Tynga’s Reviews

Advertise on TyngasReviews.com is easy. Authors & publishers can promote their latest release or book related event by purchasing ad space on Tynga's Reviews. By choosing us, you target book lovers!

Ads and content are subject to approval.

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To purchase an ad visit my BlogAds account and place your order!

I am offering 15% off right now, just use the OPEN13 code (until April 6th, 2013)

Black heart by Holly Black

Black Heart (Curse Workers, #3) by Holly BlackBlack Heart by Holly Black

Book Stats:
Reading Level: YA
Genre: Fantasy
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release date: April 3, 2012

Series: Curse Workers #3

Source: ARC from S&S Canada

Reviewed by: Tynga

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Cassel Sharpe knows he’s been used as an assassin, but he’s trying to put all that behind him. He’s trying to be good, even though he grew up in a family of con artists and cheating comes as easily as breathing to him. He’s trying to do the right thing, even though the girl he loves is inextricably connected with crime. And he’s trying to convince himself that working for the Feds is smart, even though he’s been raised to believe the government is the enemy.

But with a mother on the lam, the girl he loves about to take her place in the Mob, and new secrets coming to light, the line between what’s right and what’s wrong becomes increasingly blurred. When the Feds ask Cassel to do the one thing he said he would never do again, he needs to sort out what’s a con and what’s truth. In a dangerous game and with his life on the line, Cassel may have to make his biggest gamble yet—this time on love.

Cassel isn’t like anybody else, and the things he has to deal with in Black Heart would most likely be to much for any of us. But if he wants some kind of like, then he has to cope with and do the best he can with what he has. His mom is on the loose, his older brother died and he is protecting the murderer, the girl he loves can’t stand to look at him and he’s got both the FBI and the Mafia breathing down his neck. Talk about pressure right? Cassel really strives to be one of the good guys, but it’s no easy feast we you grew up in a crime family.

The Cruse Workers series is one of my favorite because it stands out so much from anything else you can find on the market right now. Holly Black created a very unique world where some people are born with magical abilities laying in their touch. But magic is illegal and the law forces everyone to wear gloves, because you never know! Picture of gloveless girls is even considered porn hehe.

Black Heart, the third novel in the series proved to be as entertaining as the previous ones, and I wasn’t expecting less! The plot is mostly about Cassel walking the fine line between legal and illegal activities. He stroke a deal with the FBI to become one of them but his love for Lila, daughter of a crime lord, stops him from being completely honest with his new employer. Plus, he doesn’t really trust them, even if they are suppose to be the good guys. Seeing him struggle to do the right thing was great and his dilemma was that much more intense because he can’t rely on anyone else to help him. True to herself, Holly provided a story line full of secrets, hidden meanings and surprises to delight her readers.

Character wise, you can’t really go wrong with a guy like Cassel on the pay roll. He is witty and smart, resourceful and oh-so-surprising. You think you know what’s going on in this head of his, but you can never quite grasp what he’s gonna do until it’s right in your face. He gets himself in the worst situations possible to protect the ones he loves, at the risk of his own life, and your heart pounds because you have no idea how he’ll get out of yet another impossible mission. Barron, Cassel’s brother, also surprised me in this book. I never really liked him, but the little things he did between his “I’m cool and I don’t care” acts really brought a new light on him. The relatioBlack Heart (The Curse Workers, #3) Holly Blacknship between Cassel and Lila also reached new and interesting heights that will likely please you!

One thing I have to mention, is the new design for the covers. I am REALLY disappointed with them. Not only my series won’t match anymore but to new design is general and not relevant to the books. The original covers really captured to spirit of the series. Dark, sophisticated, mysterious, it really had the strong Mafia vibe you feel while reading the book and it was the perfect complement. I really wish the original artwork for Black Heart was available so I could buy it =/

The Curse Workers series is so out of the box that I’m not quite sure in which category it should be filed, but one thing is sure, it must go on your wish list if you haven’t read it yet. Intense with a dark taste of humor, this series promises to take you down unexplored paths.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Daring You To Read…Urban Shaman by C. E. Murphy


This week, I wanted to highlight an amazing series: The Walker Papers by C. E. Murphy. It’s one of the first urban fantasy series I tried and I was instantly hooked. The series is all about Joanne Walker, a police mechanic who discovers she has shamanic powers and has a very limited time to figure out how to use them. The series has a great blend of aboriginal and Celtic mythology, thanks to Joanne’s mixed heritage, and C. E. Murphy’s writing is crisp and captivating. The world building is outstanding and the supporting characters will win you over instantly – Bobby, Gary, and the captain – if the excerpt linked below doesn’t grab you and make you desperate to start reading Urban Shaman.

The seventh book, Raven Calls, is coming out on February 21 and I’m very, very excited to see what happens to Joanne next. But before you read that, you should start at the beginning:

imageJoanne Walker has three days to learn to use her shamanic powers and save the world from the unleashed Wild Hunt.

No worries. No pressure. Never mind the lack of sleep, the perplexing new talent for healing herself from fatal wounds, or the cryptic, talking coyote who appears in her dreams.

And if all that's not bad enough, in the three years Joanne's been a cop, she's never seen a dead body—but she's just come across her second in three days.

It's been a bitch of a week.

And it isn't over yet.

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Read an excerpt


The rest of the series:



Want to participate in Daring You To Read? Here’s how:

- You choose a book you’ve read, loved and would dare your readers to read!

- The book you choose must be an older release (at least 6 months ago), because let’s be honest, we’re all quite aware of the latest releases.

- Write your own blog post, using the button and linking back to Tynga’s Reviews, inviting your readers to read your chosen book.

- Come back on Tynga’s Reviews and put your link in the linking tool.

- Browse other bloggers Dare and let them know if you’ve read their featured book, or plan on reading it.

- Super easy and an awesome way to discover that special book who might have slipped off your radar!

Don’t forget to add your own Daring You To Read… post in the linky below.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Books for Trade / Sale

I’ve been doing some cleaning in my shelves as they are overflowing now and there are some books I’d like to get rid of. I’m hoping to trade them with someone from the general Montreal area, but I will consider selling them if you are willing to pay shipping (this excludes ARCs of course).

If you are interested in trading or buying, please email me at TyngaUF(a)gmail.com and we can talk about it =)

All the books are brand-new or like-new and we are a no-smoking house.

Mass Market books:

Trade Paperback:



Thanks for taking a look!


That Thing at the Zoo by James R. Tuck

That Thing At the ZooThat Thing at the Zoo by James R. Tuck

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban fantasy
e-book: 713 KB
Publisher: Kensington
Release date: January 27, 2012

Series: Deacon Chalk: Occult Bounty Hunter #0.5

Source: Author

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon

Shredding monsters is his stock and trade. He sniffs them out, tracks them down, and corners them. End of story. But when the tables are turned, expect the unexpected. . .

Knowing his enemy is a rule Deacon Chalk swears by. But he's never seen anything like whatever is leaving the Atlanta Zoo's most dangerous predators bloodless, skinned, and hanging high in treetops. And he's only got till sunrise to keep it from turning the entire city into a slaughterhouse. Now Deacon is in zoo lockdown with a handful of staffers to save. His zookeeper backup has more guts than monster-hunting experience. And the only chance Deacon has to run this thing to unholy ground is to risk unleashing his darkest, most uncontrollable instincts. . .

Well, hello, Mr. Chalk. I am hopelessly intrigued about this series thanks to this introductory e-novella. I wasn’t sure what That Thing at the Zoo would be like since James R. Tuck is a new author but he had me hooked from the very first page.  I desperate to know what was killing the animals at the zoo. As it turns out, the answer is both straightforward and complicated. The cover gives you a hint as to what might be doing the killing but it’s not your average vampire. It’s something a little darker, a lot less sparkly, and very, very motivated. It wasn’t what I expected and I love it when authors surprise me. This time around, in fact, I had a couple “Oh no he didn’t!” moments, which was great. James has done a wonderful job with this story and I was sad to see Deacon take care of business so quickly but, alas, this is the nature of novellas. Thankfully, I have a review copy of Deacon Chalk’s first full-length novel, Blood and Bullets, up next in my e-reader queue.

Before  I close, though, I have to talk about Deacon. He’s an Occult Bounty Hunter with tragedy in his path and a gift for tracking down the spooky. I feel like I have a very good sense of what makes him tick, a testament to the author’s talent with words. I’m quite curious to  learn more about Deacon and his friends because they seem like quite the team. After all, anybody who uses a strip club to finance a war on the occult is worth a second glance. Plus, we don’t know where Deacon’s abilities come from and I *need* to know what’s going on there!

In under 100 pages, James R. Tuck has thoroughly captivated my imagination. I can’t wait to see what he does with 300+ pages at his disposal.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

“When I’m not writing” with Lena Coakley



This week, we’re joined by Lena Coakley, the talented writer of the YA high fantasy novel, Witchlanders. Tynga had the chance to preview the book; you can read her thoughts here. Lena has a great “When I’m not writing” post for us and I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know her off  the page!




If you are careful…if you use good ingredients, and you don't take any shortcuts, then you can usually cook something very good. Sometimes it is the only worthwhile product you can salvage from a day; what you make to eat. With writing, I find, you can have all the right ingredients, give plenty of time and care, and still get nothing. Also true of love. Cooking, therefore, can keep a person who tries hard sane.

― John Irving, The World According to Garp

I wasn’t sure what I’d write for this post.  What do I do when I’m not writing?  I procrastinate from writing.  I think about how I should be writing.  I talk about writing with my writer friends.  ‘Dang!’ I thought.  ‘Why did Jenn ask me to do this?  She obviously thinks I have a life!’

It took my dear (writer) friend, Aino Anto, to remind me that I have a second art, one that is so much a part of my life now that I sometimes forget it’s there.  I cook.

The grandmother who raised me wasn’t much of a chef.  She saw cooking as a chore.  And although I sometimes feel nostalgic for some of the things she made—lamb burgers with mint sauce, a bean and rice mess she called “capital casserole”—her repertoire was limited, and she never felt the need to consult any other recipe book other than a battered copy of The Joy of Cooking.

It wasn’t until I came to Canada as a nanny that I learned there was more to cooking than putting five ingredients into a pan.  I was asked when I was hired if I would mind making dinner for the family as part of my responsibilities.  I readily agreed, imagining Kraft Dinner, hot dogs, and other dishes a three year old and a one and a half year old would enjoy.  Little did I know that my charges and their parents were more used to eating cold cherry soup, moussaka, salade nicoise…and many other things I’d never heard of. 

Perusing the family’s library of cook books and learning to make these dishes gave being a nanny a bigger learning curve than it would have otherwise had, but I soon learned that I loved cooking.  The family I worked for saw this and gave me a recipe book for every birthday, starting me off on a library of my own.

It’s been a long time since I was a nanny, but I still love to cook and collect recipe books (far too many!)—and I especially love to cook for other people.  I belong to a gourmet club in my apartment building, and there is nothing like coming home from work knowing that someone is cooking you a gourmet meal, or, if it’s my turn, setting out the good dishes and hearing them sigh when they take that first bite.

LenaRedVelvetLena and her famous red velvet cake 

Lately, it’s occurred to me that cooking and writing have a lot in common.  When I’m planning a novel, I get the same feeling of balancing ingredients that I do when I’m trying to create the perfect menu.  And here are a few other things that work as great advice both for cooking and for writing:

Be bold—Take chances with your cooking and with your writing.  If you fail at cooking your friends will forgive you, if you fail at writing, no one ever has to see your mistakes.

Let it sit—Stews are one of my specialties, and I’ve learned to make them the day before if I’m serving to guests so that the flavors come together.  Leaving your writing for a day and coming back to it later is also crucial.  It will be a different piece when you come back, and you’ll see it with new eyes.

Trust your instincts—Your recipe might say one thing, but with cooking, your taste buds have the last word.  Abandon your recipe if that’s what they are telling you, and abandon your novel outline if your instincts are telling you to follow a new character or a new plot thread. And unlike with cooking, with novel writing, you can always go back to a previous draft if it doesn’t work out. 

Use simple, quality ingredients—Sometimes the best word is the simplest one.  We’re all tempted to over-spice our writing with metaphor and poetic language, but, as with cooking, simpler is often better.

And finally, create with love—That one is self explanatory, I hope.  Your readers and your diners will always be able to tell.

Happy cooking, happy writing, and happy reading!

WritingGroupLena’s writing group, about to tuck into her pork and beer stew


Thank you so much for sharing your love of cooking with us, Lena! That cake is making me hungry! =)

Want to get to know Lena some more? Visit her website or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.



High in their mountain covens, red witches pray to the Goddess, protecting the Witchlands by throwing the bones and foretelling the future.

It’s all a fake.

At least, that’s what Ryder thinks. He doubts the witches really deserve their tithes—one quarter of all the crops his village can produce. And even if they can predict the future, what danger is there to foretell, now that his people’s old enemy, the Baen, has been defeated?

But when a terrifying new magic threatens both his village and the coven, Ryder must confront the beautiful and silent witch who holds all the secrets. Everything he’s ever believed about witches, the Baen, magic and about himself will change, when he discovers that the prophecies he’s always scorned—

Are about him.

Tynga’s review

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Read an excerpt


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