Category Archives: Much Ado About Nothing

The Book List 2014 Edition

 

Chethams Library Is The Oldest Public Library In The English Speaking World

 

“She reads books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.” -Anne Dillard

As the year comes to a close and the holiday season is now in full swing, I thought it would be fun to share with everyone some of my favorite books that I have read this year.

I think every writer is a voracious reader. To only read your own work is ridiculous and somewhat narcissistic. No matter how busy or involved I am in writing I always take time to sit down and enjoy a good book.

I have my old favorites that I always fall back on and I have to read once a year or else I feel lost. I also have some new stories that I have discovered and wanted to share them with you.

My tastes are eclectic and I feel no embarrassment that some are a bit risqué while others are downright childlike. I basically will read anything you put in front of me.

 

The Classics

 

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

This is my favorite book of all time and if you haven’t read it then I highly suggest you give it a whirl.

Two words.

Mr. Darcy.

 

2. Harry Potter volumes 1-7.

I have been a Harry Potter fan since The Sorcerer’s Stone came out those many magical years ago. I read the entire series every year before hunkering down for a movie marathon.

 

3. Anne of Green Gables.

I don’t know how to put into words how much I adore this delightful book.

 

4. Jane Eyre.

Heartbreak, mystery, and romance all wrapped up in the dark corners of Victorian society.

 

5. The Count of Monte Cristo.

This is one that cannot be missed! Action, drama, intrigue, moral dilemmas… I read this is the 9th grade and to this day I still try and read it every couple of years.

 

6. Angels & Demons and The DaVinci Code.

These two books are in my opinion almost flawless and if you haven’t read them then I’m not sure what rock you have been living under.

 

For all ages…

 

1. Percy Jackson.

My twin boys have been mesmerized with Greek mythology since they were five years old. When this series came out, I think they thought they died and went to book reading heaven.

Anything by Rick Riordan is a winner in this house!

 

2. Paladin Prophecy.

Percy Jackson meets Dan Brown conspiracy theory.

 

3. Whatever After Series.

My daughter is in love with these books. It’s a genius concept of two siblings who are transported into a magic mirror and meet the real live Disney Princesses. If you have a daughter age four and up, these books are perfect.

 

4. Vampire Academy.

This series is geared more towards young adults but I absolutely love them. Rose Hathaway is one of my favorite female characters.

 

5. The Eyes of the Dragon.

I’ll get some flack for this pick but it is probably my favorite Stephen King book.

 

6. Hunger Games & Catching Fire.

Interesting, gripping and an amazing read.

Why did I leave out Mockingjay?

Sorry, it wasn’t my favorite.

 

7. The Twilight Saga.

Ok, I know some of you more evolved book snobs are going to snort but at the end of the day these books were a worldwide phenomenon that touched millions of readers of all ages.

Why?

Because it was a story about the power of a first love, plain and simple.

 

8. Harlow Whittaker & The Soothsayers.

I know what you’re all thinking and yes, not only is Valerie Day-Sanchez someone who I collaborate with, but she is also a friend.

Her series though is fantastic and I encourage everyone to download a copy today!

 

Oh my…

Adults only!

 

1. Bared to you.

The first book of The Crossfire series is sexy with a capitol S.

 

2.Fifty Shades Series.

I have to admit that I have some problems with all three books but if you want to read erotica this has become the top pick.

 

3. Crashed.

I devoured this series by K. Bromberg in one weekend.

 

4. On Dublin Street.

I really enjoyed this more tame story which had erotic overtones. I loved the character development.

 

5.Gabriel’s Inferno & Gabriel’s Rupture.

I couldn’t put these down for some reason.

 

6. Release Me.

Hot and sexy…say no more!

 

7. The Blackstone Affair.

Slightly shorter novels with great depth and very graphic scenes.

 

Paranormal Romance

 

My favorite category (obviously).

 

1. The Fever Series.

Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series brought me back from the book doldrums and inspired me to write my book after dreaming about it for years.

Absolute perfection. I love her and I fully admit to being slightly obsessed 😉

 

2. A Hidden Fire.

If you haven’t read this series by Elizabeth Hunter you do not know what you’re missing!

 

3. Prince of Wolves.

Quinn Loftis is one of my favorite authors. Her style is geared more toward Y/A but any book by her is a guaranteed worthwhile experience.

 

4. Love is Darkness. A Valerie Dearborn Novel.

I really enjoyed books 1-3. Book 4 was a little slow but in the end it was extremely enjoyable.

 

5. Twist. Mageri Series.

Different and interesting twist on the whole paranormal genre.

 

6. Fury of Fire. The Dragonfury Series.

If your sick of reading about hot vampires, read these books!

 

7. Zoey Rogue.

A very promising start of a new series, it is also extremely sexy and fun.

 

8. The Skye Trilogy and The Cursed Charm.

Oh, was I not supposed to list my own?

My bad.

 

I have to say that I had a lot of fun writing this article. I had a tough time choosing what books to share and I fully intend to update this list twice a year because I already have several more that have come rushing through my mind!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why I became a Paranormal Romance Author.

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It seems like the two most common questions I get asked are:

 

‘How do you write a book?’

&

‘Why did you choose to write paranormal romance?’

 

Usually the second question is asked with curiosity, amusement and sometimes the occasional condescending gaze of someone who believes themselves to be far more intelligent than little old me. I never know what the right answer is to give because to do so is almost ridiculous.

I know that I am not going to win a Pulitzer. I also am very much aware that Hemingway or Fitzgerald will not be mentioned in the same sentence as my name many years from now. I will try to explain it as best as I can and then hopefully I never have to defend my genre ever again.

The best quote in the world that sums up my feelings is in the words of the late John Lennon:

“I believe in everything until it is disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if its in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?”

 

I love the classics as much as anyone. I enjoy discovering new authors that take you on gritty adventures and explore the depth of the human soul with breathtaking realism.

I can read a good regency romance one day and Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte the next. I have lost myself in the horrifying world of Stephen King only to be brought back from the shakes by the smart, great Nora Roberts.

I’m a writer. I love to read but if I had my choice of all the books in the world I would choose a good paranormal romance over any other genre.

I believe that inside everyone of us is a child that still remembers their first fairy tale book and listening with awe as the image of the fantastical was implanted in our young minds.

What girl doesn’t go to sleep dreaming of her prince charming or of having a fairy godmother?

What young boy doesn’t daydream about slaying a dragon or being a swashbuckling pirate?

Or vice versa?

( I actually dreamed about doing all those things so maybe I shouldn’t label! )

I think as we get older, we are almost programmed to ignore our imaginations and focus on the ‘real world’. We are told from a young age to grow up and be more mature so that we may someday take the world by storm in the court room or the oval office.

Our toys get packed or sold away and before you know it we are caught up in the drama of life.

I refuse to give up on those daydreams and I have dedicated my life now to creating crazy stories about the mythical so that people can get lost for a little while and remember what it was like to believe in something that was all too real in our minds when we were young and innocent.

I also wanted to bring a sense of realism and so yes, I swear and I write love scenes a little too graphic for my father’s liking but when you’re writing for adults you want them to be interested enough to continue but you also want to intrigue and tickle their childhood nostalgia.

I believe in happily ever after and I guess I just want you to believe it too, even if it’s only for a short time.

 

~Shannon

 

 

 

Smut, Sluts, or a Female Revolution?

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I was coming down from my writing a book hangover a few weeks ago and I noticed something shocking on my Facebook feed. I saw that there were a lot of free books and promotions from Indie authors whose genre was short story erotica. I was intrigued and slightly disturbed at some of the book titles, taglines, and wording that were used. Now I’m not talking Fifty Shades, I’m talking about 40-60 pages of very graphic sex.

I’m not a prude by any means. Any person who has read my books knows that I use profanity liberally and I also blur the lines between erotica and mainstream while writing love scenes but this shocked even me. I started thinking about the subject and decided to investigate. I found out short story erotic novellas are very happening right now and so that lead me to ponder something.

Who is buying these books?

I asked around and no one would own up to it. All of the woman I put this question to seemed to say that they needed to have an emotional connection to a story and they had no use for smut. Ok, I thought, so again I ask, who are these women that are buying these particular short stories?

Let’s break it down, shall we? Now I personally think that some of the stories are ridiculous. For example; if a man burst into my dressing room at a store, I would not offer to model lingerie for him and then proceed to have him perform somewhat violent sexual acts on me and make me call him sir. I would yell profanities and threaten to knock his teeth out. I also would not think too kindly to have three men proposition me in a bar and have a four way.

If three strangers came up to me and said anything of the sort, I would laugh hysterically before throwing a drink in all of their faces.

But, is this the point to these books? Are woman finally allowed to indulge their fantasies without having to leave the comforts of their own home?

Reading books are safe. You don’t have to worry about meeting some psycho in a bar or have anxiety over picking up some random guy or girl (or both) to partake in your secret daydreams. You can stay home, snuggle up in bed, and pleasure yourself if you so desire without having to worry about sketchy partners or the ridicule of society.

I know that this next question can make some of us squirm but it is one that must be asked. Are we secretly sluts? Is monogamy really realistic or are these books simply a way for us to have our cake and eat it too? After all, we’re not doing anything wrong but getting caught up in a mindless albeit steamy story? It’s harmless, right?

I then started to think that maybe this is part of a whole new sexual revolution for woman. For decades now, men have had Playboy and Penthouse and we woman have had to bring these men back down to reality. No, breasts are not that full and perky without the help of silicone. Nope, I’m pretty sure I or anyone else I know has never participated in 99% of the ‘True Stories’ that men have written into these magazines and a big Hell no that a woman has a loud, throaty moaning orgasm every single time during sex.

But do men now have their own competition to deal with? Almost every story features a sexy, ripped billionaire who can make all our dreams come true. They can whisk the heroine away, arrange 3 or 4 ways and watch without getting jealous or territorial. They never fart or get anything on their shirts while eating. They buy expensive gifts and have a sexual prowess that is truly impressive.

I also have another observation and I’m sure I will receive a backlash from the author community but have these stories now become a gateway for people to make a quick buck? I mean let’s be honest, 40-60 pages of graphic sex is something probably any teenager can write. Are some of these books written by frat boys who are trying to make money for their weekly beer pong party?

I hate to diminish any writer and their stories. I think it’s important that Indie authors support one another but I have a hard time generating enthusiasm for someone who almost makes a mockery of literature. I’m not saying that every single erotic author sucks. I have read some pretty good stories that have shown a great balance of not only having a great storyline but also hot sex scenes. I’m just weary of these short story novellas that provide nothing as far as substance.

But is that the point? Is this a way for us woman to get a quick fix and go on about our busy lives? How many of us have the time to read a 300 page book in a few days? Is this now the new quickie? Are these writers providing us with a service?

I know that’s a lot of questions but I think at the end of the day, maybe this means that we as woman readers finally have it all. We can read Jane Austen one day and the next we can read ‘The Slutty Submissive’ (I apologize to the author if that’s a real title). We can fantasize about men like Christian Grey but silently tell ourselves that if a man used a switch on us like that, we wouldn’t lose sleep or ten pounds over him.

So, is smut here to stay? Are we sluts? Is this a feminine revolution?

I think it’s yes to all of the above. I also believe that whatever floats your boat is ok with me but remember fantasy is just that. It’s an unrealistic realm in which we dream about. The reality of a good man or woman who will hold you when you’re sick and look at you at your worst with love, is what really the ultimate love story truly is in this crazy world.

I think it’s sexy when my husband empties the dishwasher so maybe I’m not the best judge 😉

 

 

 

 

Writing & Cursing or Cursing Writing?

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*This article is for mature audiences only*

I am going to start off by saying that I swear…a lot. Yes, I am a mother of three and sometimes it can be hard not to drop the f-bomb when I want too but inevitably it happens. I see nothing wrong with it nor do I think badly of those that admit to being a potty mouth. I do not condone it in public or around children but sometimes you just have to say ‘Motherfucker, Holy Fuck, Shit, or my personal favorite, douchbag.’

I’m not proud of this flaw in my character but it is one I own up to when questioned or looked upon with disdain by the lovely people in this world who think they are better than me because they don’t even think to call the guy who cut them off in traffic a fucking asshole. I don’t think that ‘Oh maybe he’s had a hard day’, I think he’s a dickhead who is very eager to get home two seconds quicker than me and sit on his ass so he can watch ESPN.

When I started writing my first book, Isle of Skye, I want everyone to know that I did hesitate to throw in curse words. My hands actually hovered over my keyboard as I was about to write my first f-bomb. I knew that once I started down the cursing path, there was no turning back. In the end I decided, that to write the story the way I wanted too, I was going to have to be real and so I wrote out my first ‘What the fuck sentence.’

 Did I realize it may put off a lot of potential readers? Yes, of course but I have always said that I wanted to infuse a sense of realism to an unrealistic genre and to do that I had to write the way I think and unfortunately for my poor mother, I had to drop the F-word. Not once, not twice but several times. I thought about my character and who she was as a person. I went over in my head many times about how I was going to develop her presence as a real human being and not some little girl who says ‘Oh’ a lot or bites her lip and cries.

I wanted to portray my character as a grown woman who has many faults and one of those just happens to be swearing. When I wrote Isle of Night and Isle of Dawn, her cursing became more of a joke and something that people just expected from her. My readers know that as Willa goes through all her trials and tribulations, she grows up, swears less but she’s not always perfect and will drop it from time to time.

My new book, The Cursed Charm, has very little swearing compared to the Skye Trilogy. I wanted my new character Aston to be a bit more reserved and conservative. I did throw it in a few times but certainly not as much as my previous books.

I was thinking about it today because I am going into my final edits and I noticed how the story has less colorful language. I wondered if people will be surprised by it or will they not even notice the absence of cursing. I also recently read an article about this very subject from another writer and I couldn’t believe the people that wrote in to proudly proclaim their lack of swearing.

I mean, look, I think it’s great but can a story be real without a few carefully placed words that some might find offensive? The purpose of writing a book is to create a story someone can relate too, right?

That’s when it hit me. I cannot believe in something unless I think it’s real. I know that there are libraries stacked with wonderful literary masterpieces that do not contain even Hell or Damn but didn’t I start writing for someone like me? Someone who, if they were told there were vampires and witches roaming this world they wouldn’t say, ‘Oh, really? Wow, I always suspected but never really knew until now.’ No, my readers would say, ‘Are you fucking kidding me?’

So yes, maybe I have alienated a huge niche of readers but like I have always said, I started this journey with a pledge to write with honesty. It may not be what millions of people want to read but it’s who I am and it’s what I want to write.

Basically, I could give a fuck what someone else thinks.

The Dangers of Writing a Novel

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Has writing The Cursed Charm placed a hex on me?

 

Todays blog post is a bit tongue and cheek but a subject I must address. A little over a month ago I started writing The Cursed Charm, Book one of The Fae Witch Series. Three and half weeks later I was done with my rough draft and the slight ache in my neck and shoulders grew more heavy as the days went on. When I had finally finished I told myself that I was taking a well deserved break and two days later I woke up completely paralyzed from the neck down.

I lay in my bed unmoving for a few minutes while I evaluated my situation. After a few minutes I was able to crawl out but the pain was excruciating. I first thought that maybe I had slept wrong and it would eventually loosen up enough throughout the day but the pain only grew worse.

Two days later I went to the doctor and he stared at me in disbelief when I told him I wrote my book out in three and half weeks. He also was pretty stunned at the fact that I had written and published three books, one cookbook, and completed a rough draft of another novel in almost exactly one years time.

I tried to brush it off as no big deal but the more I thought about it the more shocked I became at my work ethic and creative driving force that had propelled me into my current dilemma. Later that night as I paced around the first floor of my house I had a thought, actually it was more of a question.

Why did I feel the need to push myself so hard and are all writers just as sadistic?

It’s hard to convey to someone who does not live in the world I now call home about what it is I go through on a day to day basis. I have a difficult time explaining to people the absolute need to get out what’s in my head and onto the computer screen as fast as I can. I get the same looks all the time and hear the same advice. I need to take time off and relax everyone tells me. But what if I somehow lose my train of thought and story? What if I can’t get my writing mojo back? What if.. I have said it before and I’ll say it again.

What if are the two most dangerous words put together in the English language.

I realize now whilst I sit in pain writing out this blog post that the only real question is, What is the price I’m willing to pay to write?

My only answer is this; I write because it is who I am now. I write because it’s my passion and no matter how tired I am or how much physical pain I’m in right now, it’s still worth it to me. Yes, I need to take more time off and not be such a crazy woman. I am well aware that I can’t push myself into traction to write a book and I should not ignore the warning signals my body is screaming at me right now.

What can I say? I’m a writer and unless you chop my hands off,  I’m still going to pound away on this keyboard.

I also believe that writing The Cursed Charm has been stressful. I will state now that this is by far the hardest book I have had to write. I think it’s because this is a spin-off to the Skye Trilogy. I have to incorporate enough background for new readers and I also have to set up quite a bit of story line for book one. I see this book as being the starting point and I am determined to do it justice. I am also nervous and slightly stressed because the characters are a little different. I have to admit though, I am starting to fall in love with all of them and I suppose in some way I’m praying that my readers will too.

I can’t help but wonder if this is all physical but emotional as well. I also sit and ponder about my fellow writers. Do they put themselves through all of this or am I the only one? Is there some sort of support group out there for us Indie authors? Should I start one so we can all bitch and moan together?

I realized something yesterday when I was having a massive anxiety attack (side effect of steroids) that I am lucky to have a few amazing people in my life to talk me down from my ledge of crazy. I had an epiphany that instead of trying to deal with all of this on my own I need to try and include these wonderful people more in my life.

Instead of writing out my thoughts and fears, I also have to learn to express them better to my loved ones. It truly is incredible that sometimes you have to be broken before you can put yourself back together.

So is writing dangerous to our fragile health? Yes, but damn it feels so good sometimes, doesn’t it?

An Indie Author’s First year Reflections & Tips

Fischer 2011 Forest in Water Droplet, watermark for Shannon (1)

I was looking at the calendar today and realized that it was almost one year ago that I sat down to write my first book. It was a year of numerous changes and many highs and lows. I suppose in some ways, I’m shocked that I’m sitting here with four books under my belt and my fifth waiting for my first round of revisions. I think it’s important for any writer to take time to reflect and regroup before diving back into your work. I thought it would be fun and cathartic for me to post little tidbits to keep me grounded before I retreat back into my cave and into myself.

Shannon’s rules & tips, part one!

~ Write for yourself. You’ll never please anyone if you can’t please yourself.

~Edit, edit, edit and when you want to throw up if you read another word you’ve written, edit again.

~Take unsolicited advice and smile. You can always put them in your next book and tell them off in fantastic style.

~ You will find out who your friends are and you will also find out just how supportive your family truly is in times of need and personal joy.

~The phrase “Congratulations” will warm your heart but make you shake your head in perplexing wonder when it’s followed by “I haven’t read your book but good for you.”

~If you don’t like your story, chances are no one else will either…write for yourself! (Did I mention that already?)

~You will read your first book and curse yourself repeatedly.

~If you find yourself second guessing something you’ve written or you’re leaning over the keyboard with your head in your hands, keep going, and don’t press backspace!

~Don’t ever lose sight of why you started writing in the first place.

~ You will never make every person in the world happy but as long as you make just one reader smile or feel something, that’s all that matters

~If you start spending your fortune before you even sold a book, chances are you are doing this for the wrong reason. Writing a book is not a get rich quick scheme.

~The people out there who ask to be put in your book are the people you want to avoid.

~It’s ok to feel insecure when you hit publish. The writers who think they are great are the ones that suck.

~It’s perfectly normal to regard your fictional characters as friends.

~Writing is cheaper than therapy.

~Self-promoting is part of the job. Don’t worry about annoying your family and friends. After all, how many times have you heard about their fabulous lives, children, dinners, and vacations on Facebook?

~A Pulitzer is probably not in your future. I’m just happy to get one good review from a complete stranger.

~It’s ok to drop the f-bomb in your book.

~There’s no shame in calling yourself a paranormal romance writer or an author that writes erotica. At the end of the day you’re doing something that you love and you are passionate about. How many people can say that and how many people can say they wrote a book?

~Your first query letter is going to stink and your first rejection will cut like a knife. Don’t waste too much time beating yourself up over one email.

~Never forget why you became a writer and why you went down the Indie Author path. You have complete control over your work and you never have to bow to someone else’s demands.

~ Last but not least, write for yourself!!!!

 

 

To Query or not to Query…how and when is the question.

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When I sat down to write my first book, Isle of Skye, I had no real plan as to what I was going to do with it when I was done. The more progress I made, the more I realized that I had to seriously start thinking about the future of my book. I researched self publishing first and I was comfortable with that idea but I also wanted to look into getting an agent as well as what the process was when you wanted to just submit to a publisher yourself. That’s when I stumbled across the words ‘ Query Letter’.

Apparently to submit your manuscript or just a few chapters to an agent or a publisher they want to see a one page letter describing your book and yourself. Let me say this again. A one page letter. I sat down one night determined to bang it out and get on with the whole submitting part. Unfortunately two hours went by and I was still sitting there literally frozen in my seat. I truly did not think that this was going to be such a big deal. I had already written half a book in less than a month, surely a  one page letter wasn’t going to be that hard.

Yup, it totally kicked my ass.

How on earth was I supposed to write in one page what my book was about or the direction that I wanted to take it in? Not only is this book part  of a trilogy but I always knew I would make my second trilogy a sort of continuation of my story but with new characters and situations. Then I was supposed to write a brief paragraph about myself. Several helpful websites suggested listing any awards you had received for writing or degrees you may have earned.

Yeah, I’m a stay at home mom of three and the only thing I had written that any one had ever seen in recent years were notes to my kids teachers. I thought about throwing in some comments I had gotten from some of my family and friends in regards to my more witty and funny Facebook status updates but somehow I knew that wasn’t going to be viewed quite as amusing as I thought it was in my mind to the person I was sending the query letter too in hopes of getting represented or published.

After a few days I decided that self publishing was the way to go for me. It let me have control over my work and I also knew that it would allow me to acclimate slowly into the publishing and marketing world. I have never regretted that decision. Recently I feel as though I am at a crossroads concerning my future as a writer. As of right now book one of the Isle of Skye has been downloaded over 3,000 times and book two Isle of Night which I just released has been doing pretty great as well. I have taken some time off from promoting simply because I am waiting for them both to be edited professionally and then I figured I would go balls to the wall with some intense marketing and I’m sure slightly annoying self promotion on my part.

I’m almost done with book three, Isle of Dawn, and I am now faced with the question of what’s next? When I published book one I had a plan to build up my sales and followings so I can go armed to an agent or publisher with these numbers but now there’s a part of me that is almost resentful of this query letter. I’m not some bright eyed, young hopeful author. I’m a 39 year old mother of three that has 2 books under my belt and a third on it’s way to completion. I don’t want to do a one page letter. I want to present someone with several pages including reviews of my work and my future ideas that are already outlined for several more series that I have planned in my overactive brain.

I also want to work with someone that gets me. Someone who has no problem with an email full of f-bombs or doesn’t get upset when I don’t answer the phone right away. I hate the phone. I only answer when I feel like it and that can be rare, especially when I’m writing. Basically, I can be a pain in the ass but I also am a hard worker that is determined and when I want something I go for it, I don’t believe in the word no. Which is hilarious considering I am still slightly scared to death to write a query letter.

Alright so I’m a complicated pain the ass.

I guess my question is this, how do you send off a one page letter to someone who has the chance to turn your hopes and dreams into something bigger than you could ever imagine and not be scared? I realize that this is a chance you have to take but for right now I am happily ensconced in my writing cave typing away my third book. When I’m done that’s when I will have to figure out whether or not I have what it takes because in the end if I don’t fight for it than no one else will want to either.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Isle-Skye-Trilogy-Shannon-Barczak-ebook/dp/B00H1C3D9K/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1399081258&sr=1-1&keywords=isle+of+skye

 

http://www.amazon.com/Isle-Night-Book-Skye-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00J9KERJC/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1399081287&sr=1-2&keywords=isle+of+night