Sunday, 29 April 2012

GOLD TRAIN by Lada Ray Paperback Launch Blog Tour

Today I'm excited to be part of Lada Ray's blog tour to celebrate the launch of the paperback of Gold Train, I have interviewed the Lovely Lada and she has also been kind enough to offer a giveaway too.

First things first, I'll remind you of my thoughts on Gold Train;


For the fans of The Da Vinci Code and National Treasure comes this gripping new thriller, based on true historic events! 1918: Civil war in Russia. The entire Gold Reserve of the Russian Empire vanishes without a trace. Today: journalist Jade Snow travels to Russia to uncover a dangerous conspiracy, find the world's largest treasure and experience forbidden passion, defying time and space.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book - the opening chapter gives us a little insight into the Gold Train in 1918 and then goes to present day where we meet Jade Snow, it’s been her lifelong ambition to visit Russia, a promise she owed to her Grandma’s memory.

I found myself quickly engrossed into this book as I needed to find out the mystery of the Gold Train. I don’t want to give much more away about the plot lines but they were brilliantly written and the story is just fantastic - there is layers that go deeper and deeper as we go along and I just loved it.

I love the relationship between Jade and Alexi - you can sense they’re feelings from that initial meeting as he was her rescuer when she was mugged. This was the start of the real action in the book, I thought the action scenes were once again brilliantly written - especially the one at the station. I also enjoyed the suspense in the book, I just had to carry on reading to get to the end.

I found that the way the author described the scenery and landmarks of Russia was just amazing - it made me want to go and visit myself. I was as interested in reading about the landmarks as I was about the actual storyline!

This book had it all, not only a great mystery, and action but a little romance and even some humour. It really was superb, fast paced and well written. For me it was also one of those books that gets you thinking about things - even after you finish reading.

I really hope that we get to here more from Jade Snow and also Alexi

As you can see I really enjoyed it :) Now let's meet the lovely Lada;



Tell us a bit about yourself and how you decided to be a writer.
When I decided to start writing, I wrote My Manifesto, in which I pretty much summarized the answer to this question:

MY MANIFESTO

For years, I was afraid to take a risk. As we all grow up being conditioned by our society and parents, so did I. 
And this was my conditioning: I broke through the Iron Curtain, moved across oceans and continents, traveled to exotic countries, translated foreign languages, worked for major companies and mastered new professions... but in all that time I was utterly terrified to do something totally unchartered and intimidating – sitting down and writing a book.
 My fear is gone. I've done my share of the same-old-same-old routine! It's time to explore that which is aching to be explored - the murky waters of the human psyche, the dangerous landscapes of what was, and the fascinating, undiscovered world of what can be. As I make the most crucial and courageous step of my life, I am finally sitting down at my desk to write these words. I am officially the explorer of the ultimate frontier, located right here, at my computer.
 I am ready for new adventures! Are you?
March, 2011
I was born in Moscow, Russia, but my parents moved around a lot for work and I spent part of my childhood in the beautiful city of Odessa on the Black Sea. Throughout my life, I traveled to over 26 countries and finally settled down in the USA. I worked as a linguist and translator, and later as a financial consultant on Wall Street. I also obtained my Master’s certification in feng shui directly from the revered Asian Masters of this ancient art.
Once, I was flying to Asia via Dubai. After a very interesting meeting with several international journalists returning from Afghanistan, I imagined a smart, beautiful, and witty journalist, Jade Snow, who mastered to perfection the art of being in the wrong place at the right time.

I decided that it was now or never and started writing my debut novel, STEPFORD USA, a Jade Snow Prequel. I also wrote GREEN DESERT, a Jade Snow Novella.
GOLD TRAIN was a natural progression for the series. The story of the lost Russian Imperial treasure, the conspiracy to overthrow the Russian government and to upset the balance of power in the world fit the world of Jade Snow perfectly. 
How did you learn the story of the Gold Train treasure?
A couple of years ago, during one of my Internet expeditions, I stumbled upon an informative documentary on Russia Today, the Russian TV network, much like what happens to Jade Snow in the book. The documentary was about the disappearance of the Gold Reserve of the Russian Empire in August 1918, during the Russian Civil War. There were various theories as to what really happened to the reserve, however everything was on the level of speculation, as no conclusive evidence or proof was available.

I avidly watched the documentary, absorbing every single detail, and immediately knew: it was my book to write. Once I sat down to write it, the story materialized on my screen effortlessly and several month later, the book was finished.
How did you create the world of Russian royalty?

The stories associated with the Russian aristocracy were the ones I grew up with. Much like Jade and Alexei’s in the book, my heritage is rather diverse, and some of the facts are borrowed from my own experiences.
Additionally, the information about various facets of the Russian royalty’s life was always widely available and even taught in Russian schools. I grew up in the Soviet Union, and perhaps it would come as a great surprise to my American readers, but various excellent movies were made in the USSR, and more recently in Russia, about the life of aristocracy. This topic never seems to get old, as many, even today, perceive it as an important page in history. Certainly, glamour associated with the Russian aristocracy’s lavish lifestyles serves as a big attraction as well.
By the way, I wanted to mention that while the story is based on true historic events, all characters and events are either the product of my imagination or are used fictitiously, according to the book’s disclaimer.
That said, some of the legendary Russian aristocratic family names are present in GOLD TRAIN. Although they are used fictitiously, per disclaimer.

The Romanovs were of course the Imperial Family. Prince Obolensky, Duchess Golitsina (sometimes the Dukes Golitsin would be referred to as Princes as well), Baron Vrangel, Count Vorontsov, Count Goncharov, Duke Menshikov (or Prince Menshikov) are all real historical names. Only Jade’s name – Countess Rosanova - is fictitious, as I wanted her to stand out and have her own identity. But you will also notice that her family name Rosanov sounds a lot like Romanov, the Imperial family name. This is a hint at Jade’s blood relation to the royal house. 

Also I gave Alexei, the handsome and mysterious stranger, who is destined to change Jade’s life forever, the title of Prince Obolensky. He is the only prince in the book, which also sets him apart. His first name, Alexei, is the same as the last Russian Tsar Nicolas’s son and then heir to the Russian throne. This is not accidental. Alexei, with his unusual and amazing background, may well be the new heir to the Russian throne, figuratively speaking, of course. In other words, he represents contemporary Russia.

For more on the Russian royalty and history please read my post on Lada Ray Blog on 5/5/12: FACT AND FICTION IN GOLD TRAIN.
Here is the blog link: http://ladaray.wordpress.com 

Action in GOLD TRAIN’s takes place against the magnificent backdrop of historic Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Tell us more about the book’s magical setting.
GOLD TRAIN is a mystery thriller based on true historic events and it boasts a truly magical setting of historic Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia.
When I first heard the story of the disappearance of the Russian Empire’s Gold Reserve during the 1918 Russian Civil War, I immediately knew it was my story to write. I carefully watched a very informative documentary shown on a Russian TV network and imagined what would happen if…
The dramatic beginning, depicting the great Gold Train robbery, takes place in 1918. Then the story fast forwards to October, 2011, when Jade Snow prepares to leave to Russia. The actual story of the conspiracy and the race to find the gold takes place practically in real time: in November – December, 2011.
The protagonist, Jade Snow, resides on the Upper West Side in New York City. But most of the action in the book takes place in Russia, namely among the historic monuments, streets and oligarch’s mansions of Moscow and St. Petersburg, at the FSB Headquarters (former KGB), the old monastery, as well as on Russian trains and the beautiful Russian Metro.

As mentioned before, I am originally from Russia and just like in Jade’s case, it is the country of my ancestors, the country I love. Of course, every setting in every book is challenging to create. However in this case, I felt inspired. It took me only a few months to write the entire book and once I sat down, the story materialized on my screen as if by magic. I wrote about places I grew up in, except from a different angle. When Jade visited the Kremlin, FSB Headquarters and the oligarch’s mansion, the Red Square and gorgeous Russian Metro, rode Russian trains and walked the beautiful streets of historic St. Petersburg, I saw all these places anew, through the eyes of my heroine. It was a fascinatingly fresh perspective, and I just love it!
How do you go about making the setting come alive for the reader?
I call creating the right setting: anchoring the story in the here and now. As such, I am a big believer in creating a beautiful, vibrant setting, which comes alive for the reader. It is extremely important to anchor the story in both the time and space, so that the reader can be actively present every moment inside the story and participate directly in everything that happens. A beautiful, stand out setting can sometimes make or break the story.
I certainly put a lot of effort into creating a setting that speaks to the reader, one that fascinates, entertains – and absolutely does not let you go.
I usually visualize the place, as well as what is happening in the scene, as if in a movie. I play the movie in my head, until it translates into words. Sometimes I need to feel the texture, touch the scene, so to speak.
Since GOLD TRAIN is action adventure thriller, it has lots of action scenes. To make such action scenes come alive within the particular setting, I would usually re-enact them. Besides making the scene crisp and believable, this game is also lots of fun!

How did you create the unusual character of Jade Snow?
When I meditate on a new character, I try to picture him or her as a complete person. What do they look like? How and where do they live? What do they wear? What’s their background? How do they behave in various circumstances? Often, the character just jumps at me, complete with the name, look and personality to suit the plot. The character gets further refined and perfected as my writing progresses. Most of the time, the story’s twists and turns dictate the character development. Sometimes, my characters even surprise me.
Several years back, when I was flying to Asia via Dubai, I met some international journalists returning from Afghanistan, who told me stories of their adventures. As I was boarding my plane, the image of Jade Snow, complete with her flaming hair and unusual blue-green eyes, appeared before me. I knew right away that this young, smart, fearless and beautiful journalist who had mastered to perfection the art of being at the wrong place at the right time, would make an amazing heroine for the international adventure series.
The result was STEPFORD USA, prequel to the Jade Snow International Adventure Series. In it, Jade, 28, gets stuck in an idyllic town in the Berkshires, MA, where she is supposed to take it easy before the birth of her child. But this little sheltered paradise is harboring a terrible secret which Jade must uncover risking not only her own, but also her unborn baby’s life. Next, I wrote a short novella, GREEN DESERT, describing Jade’s experience in Iraq, before the start of the series.
When I stumbled upon the story of the Lost Russian Imperial Gold, I knew - this was to be Jade’s next adventure! Now that the series has taken off, the characters and stories write themselves.
I didn’t plan it to be a first person narrative. I am the third person gal, as a rule. But it was as if Jade insisted on telling the story herself – and there was nothing I could do about it! There is some of me in Jade (what writer can resist that!), and that’s why it’s so easy to write her.
Correction: I don’t really write her. She just tells me her story and I transcribe it on paper.

What’s next for Jade Snow?
Jade Snow adventures continue! There are many more mysteries to solve, conspiracies to uncover and wrongs to right. There is also much happiness to find.
The next Jade Snow adventure, DRAGON GATE, will take her to the mystical lands of Asia where Jade has to solve another mystery, uncover another conspiracy and avert yet another global disaster.
DRAGON GATE will be released later this year. Incidentally, you can read exclusive description and excerpt from Dragon Gate in GOLD TRAIN Paperback (release 4/25/12). For a limited time, Gold Train paperback is available on Amazon for $9.99 (reg. $14.95)

Will we see Alexei, the mystery man who captures Jade’s heart in Gold Train, in the future Jade Snow Adventures?
Absolutely! The relationship between Jade and Alexei is the kind both men and women dream about their entire lives. A match made in Heaven – literally. Yet seemingly, it’s not meant to be, or at least, it’s not going to be easy…
But I’ll let you in on my secret. I have big plans for both Jade and Alexei. They can’t help but keep bumping into each other, first in Asia (DRAGON GATE), and later in Siberia, Russia, where Jade will be traveling after her Asia adventure. I have hinted in Gold Train that there is more treasure to be found. That was done for a reason, as Jade and Alexei will head to the legendary Lake Baikal in Siberia for the continuation of the Tsar’s gold saga. And their relationship will continue developing throughout the series with heart-stopping twists and turns throughout.

Dear reader, please join us for the future Jade Snow adventures, where Jade and I promise you a non-stop thrill ride with heart!
What other books are you working on right now?
I am also working on THE EARTH SHIFTER, a new YA fantasy/thriller, set in Russia, USA and China. It will also be released in 2012.
All up-to-date information about my present and future books may be found at my official author site: http://www.LadaRay.com
Thank you, Hayley, for an opportunity to share my writing and Jade Snow with the readers of your blog. I enjoyed our conversation very, very much!
Now, as I mentioned before Lada has kindly given me two ebook copies to give away, all you need to do to enter is fill in the rafflecopter: Here's some useful links that you may need to help you:
Blog Tour and Giveaway info: http://ladaray.wordpress.com/blog-tours
Visit Lada Ray Author Website - all about GOLD TRAIN and other books: http://www.LadaRay.com
Twitter: @LadaTweets
YouTube: Lada Ray Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/LadaRay/videos
Facebook @ Lada Ray



Good Luck and if you can't wait to get your hands on a copy then please visit any of the following links to get your copy:


Sunday, 15 April 2012

Review: Spare Change by Bette Lee Crosby


A Woman who is Superstitious to the Core...
A Boy who claims his Parents are Dead...

A Murderer who wants to Silence the Truth of What Happened.

Spare change see’s the story of Olivia Westerly who thinks that eleven is the unluckiest number on earth, children weigh you down and cannot let herself fall in love. She’s managed to avoid marriage for forty years but then along came Charlie Doyle. Newlyweds on they’re honeymoon when disaster strikes, things will never be the same again for Olivia.

In another city far away we see Ethan Allen Doyle, an eleven year old boy who is setting off on a journey to find his grandpa after his parents are found dead. But unfortunately for him there is someone hot on his tails.

This book is written well, it has a strong storyline and I loved the way that the stories ran so well, I soon found myself engrossed into the stories of both Olivia and Ethan. There is many scenes filled with humour and quick wit alongside scenes of sadness and heartbreak, the way the writer has wrote the scenes so beautifully is wonderful.

All in all a good read, I don’t want to give anything away but I was personally abit disappointed with the ending, but that is probably because I’d of liked to of read more

To grab yourself a copy visit: http://www.amazon.com/Spare-Change-ebook/dp/B005SHN43A/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1334523882&sr=1-1

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Review: Ghost of a Threat by Beth Dolgner


In this book we meet Betty ’Boo’ Boorman, a paranormal investigator who spends her Saturday nights with ghosts instead of guys! We see her forced to join forces with Carter Lansford from a rival paranormal investigation team, to investigate a spirit with a difference, this leads them to work together on a case where it’s not the spirits that they need to watch out for.
This book isn’t just another Paranormal Romance - it is a Unique Paranormal Romance, which was very refreshing to read.
I really enjoyed this book, the storyline was well thought out and instantly gripped me and once I started reading I found I couldn’t stop! There was times when I felt as though I was literally in the scenes with them.
It was brilliantly written and just flowed so well between the paranormal aspects and romance aspects. As well as the paranormal romance there was some humour and action, it really was non-stop - I loved it!!
I cannot wait to read the second instalment of the Betty Boo series and find out what’s in store for her next.

To grab yourself a copy visit: http://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Threat-Hunter-Series-ebook/dp/B0060PYKEQ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1334177930&sr=8-2

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Review: Cracks in the Ceiling by Dave Cornford


I really enjoyed this collection of short stories, with storylines that are believable and that you can relate to. The author has come up with characters that you can just connect with.

Each story although having the same ‘theme’ is different and unique. Seeing how people deal with money worries sometimes serious stories and some that make you laugh out loud!! These stories really are brilliant and they are perfect for reading on the go or when you just want a quick relax.

My only complaint is that some of them were ‘short’ stories - there were a few that I thought would of made great full stories and I also felt that I wanted to read more about the characters and storylines but then thats probably just me being greedy!!!

To grab yourself a copy visit: http://www.amazon.com/Cracks-in-the-Ceiling-ebook/dp/B005KNAU9S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334085478&sr=8-1

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Review: On The Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves


I really enjoyed On the Island, I found myself engrossed in the book pretty much from the outset. And once I started reading I couldn't stop.

We see Anna and TJ on they're journey to the Maldives where they are due to spend the summer holidays. Anna is TJ's tutor as he has recently missed alot of school due to recovering from hodgekins lymphoma. They're journey to they're destination is plagued with delay after delay and finally after 30 hours travelling they are on the last lap when disaster strikes.

They find themselves stranded on a desert island with only the clothes that they are wearing. They hold out hope that they will be rescued. This isn’t just a normal stranded on a desert island story, it’s one that grabs you in as part of the story.
I found myself intrigued by the story, seeing Anna and TJ thinking of ways to survive, and I also thought that the things that they did and came up with were just brilliant! I really enjoyed reading about the years that they were stuck stranded on the island and loved the romance that you can see blossoming between them.
I thought they way that they were eventually rescued by fluke of a national disaster was a great part of the storyline and found reading about them back at home was almost even more intriguing than the island!!
I must say that I LOVED the ending - to me it was just perfect. I highly recommend this book and think that everyone should own a copy.

To buy your copy visit: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005L9B5YU/ref=cm_cr_mts_prod_img

Monday, 16 January 2012

Review: Finding Justus by Amanda Bretz


I really enjoyed ‘Finding Justus’ the book is the story of Justus Kendall, an interior designer from St. Louis. I can think of nothing worse than going on your honeymoon with your best friend, but that’s the position Justus finds herself in. When she is touring the hotel she is set to re-model she finds her fiancĂ© Alex in one of the hotel suites, with a blonde wrapped in a bed sheet tangled in his arms. A month before her wedding.
So off she goes on her ‘honeymoon’ cruise with her best friend Krystal. Determined to enjoy herself and have a good girly time. Not long into the cruise they sign up for dance lessons and meet Miguel, an extremely good looking Latin dance instructor. I loved these initial scenes, you can see the chemistry between them. Obviously Justus is wary of getting involved with a man, even for just a fling.
It takes some heavy persuasion from Krystal for Justus to even consider meeting him for a drink, once they do she finds herself having to really evaluate her life, what happened in the past, what she wants in the future. It makes you think about your own happiness as well as your reading it which is something that I liked.
I was really willing Justus and Miguel to get together but after spending just one week together on a cruise, it’s time to say good bye. I love the way that this book ended and I would love to find out more about Justus.


Review: Then and Now: The Harmony of the Instantaneous All by Randy Attwood


I enjoyed this book, It tells the story of Stan Nelson and his time at KU in Lawrence, during winter and spring 1969 - 1970, Stan was like the central character in the middle of everyone that was involved in the scenes.
I loved the fact that we were hearing it in Stan’s narrative and the fact that we were going back in time to hear about his experiences and also other characters stories of that time period. I even enjoyed when Stan had to improvise certain characters parts. I particularly enjoyed Charlie’s parts of the story and his romance with Betty. We also had the use of diary extracts from Melvins diary which almost made it feel like you were reading a true story.
There were several romance’s in the book, the main one being with Stan and Yen-Li which then grew into an obsession, and then how he dealt with that. But this book isn’t just all romance, we see riots with police caught in the middle and also causing more trouble!
We also hear about the play that Stan decided to participate in, this was almost like another story in the story and I was glad that we got to ‘see’ the play being acted out. I thought the way the book ended was lovely and was glad to see that Stan would be ok at last.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Review: Bleedover by Curtis Hox


When I started reading this I wasn’t quite sure where it was going, we see Dr Harriet Sterling claiming that the New Phenomenon of Bleedover is all around us, books, TV, films - all being mysteriously altered. If I’m honest I struggled at first to get my head round the technicality of bleedover but once I’d got it I was intrigued to find out more.

I enjoyed the way the book was split into three different sections, each section building the background story for our final confrontation. I found that each detail of the background was important to understand the reasoning behind the obvious frictions between Hattie and Corbin - almost a lifelong battle had been between them. As well as detailing the background we also found out about each of the scenarios that had happened in the few weeks leading up to the final confrontation.

Part One - The Apple we see Alice (Hattie’s best student) stumble across the success of incanting by Towns’ earlier in the day, and then repeated again in front of Alice, Hattie and Masumi. This is the beginning of the end, if it wasn’t for this success then the final showdown would of waited a little bit longer!

Part Two - The Portal was a really good section, I was trying to read the book quicker so I could find out what was behind that door, and when we found out thought it was amazing!

Part Three - The Symposium was quite tense to say the least, I had a vague idea by then what would be happening at the end - just not sure how it was going to end and in whose favour! I thought that these final scenes were brilliantly written and at last had the pace that I missed throughout the rest of the book.

I enjoyed reading about each of the characters as it was nice for the book to focus on them all rather than just our two main characters Hattie and Corbin. We see that Alice is faithful and loyal throughout, we see Masumi in turmoil over her beliefs and we see Towns’ pushed to the limits.

All in all I enjoyed the book, a little technical in places but I suppose that’s to be expected with the Sci-Fi Fantasy genre. I found the storyline itself very intriguing and it definitely got me thinking.



To buy a copy please visit: http://amzn.to/x4XZFp

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Review: Heart of Glass by Christy Hayes


I absolutely loved this book. I enjoyed the fact that it was almost in two halves, we started off with the past and then moved on to the present.

You can tell right from the very beginning that sparks are going to fly between Danny and Kat, I really enjoyed reading the banter between them when they met. The way they both tried to hold back they're feelings towards each other - I was so pleased when they finally gave in!

The scenes with Danny's brother Kyle were so endearing to read, the author did a wonderful job of getting across just how much Kyle meant to Danny. And I thought that Kat's instant bonding with him was great too. I even found that I enjoyed it when Danny was explaining to Kat how to do the wall ramming - it was just so nice to see them getting closer and Kat really did show an interest.

The abrupt end to Kat and Danny's relationship was one of those points where I found myself going 'noooo' and honestly could not see how the present was going to pan out.

I don't want to give too much more away about the storyline but thought that the second half of the book just accelerated even more. It really is packed full of emotions; anger, hurt, love, passion, regret - it was that well written that as I was reading I literally could feel the emotions. I was hoping and praying that Kate and Danny could have a second chance.

This wasn't just a simple love story, there was more complexity to the storyline than just that, friendships & families and the consequences that they're actions can have as well as the influences they can make on people's lives just to name a few.

The depths in places of the sub story lines were just fantastic, I know I've already mentioned that it was well written but I honestly felt as though I was there living it out with them. The author has really made me feel that I actually know the characters and if I'm honest I'm missing them already! I don't know if there are any plans for us to hear any more from the characters from this book but I really hope that we do.

I also thought the description of the setting and surroundings was fantastic, it was written in such an amazing way that I felt as though I could feel the heat of summer, the breeze of the ocean, even the feel of the warm sand. I literally was there!

This book is definitely a MUST read and also one that you'll want to read over and over again

RUN and grab a copy now: Amazon.co.uk http://amzn.to/vtcbkv Amazon.com http://amzn.to/zJpPf2