Meet Suze, the big, loveable demon guardian from Emi Gayle’s, DAY AFTER


Today, I have a very interesting guest with me.  It wasn’t easy getting this interview as he really doesn’t like to draw attention to himself (not).  Normally, I interview my victims guests in a public arena, but this particular interviewee asked I come to his place.  Want to know where that is?

Would you believe me if I told you a crypt?

Yep, I arrived a bit ago in the still blackness of night and was greeted outside the mausoleum by two goblin-like creatures.  They escorted me inside and down the grey steps to a room that could have come right out of an Austin Powers movie.  In the center of the room, perched on a Texas-sized blood-red beanbag chair, sits my host: a seven-foot, creature with green ears, and horns that stick out of his over-sized, orange-brown head.  He motions to me with his funky claw-hand thingy to take a seat on a large couch.  I do as he says because quite frankly, the dude is scary, even if he is wearing nothing more than a red and blue striped bathrobe that barely covers his behind.

I reach into my bag and pull out my pad and pen when, to my surprise, two teens stroll into the room.  I know right away who they are:  Mac and Winn.  Perfect.  All my pre-thought interview questions just got tossed out the window…well, not really since there isn’t a window, but if there was…

Oh, never mind.  I clear my throat. “Emm, thank you for granting me the opportunity to meet with you Suze.”

Winn and Mac sit next to me on the couch, one on each side.  My insides rattle like  a leaf on a tree but I keep my cool.  Suze simply nods and puts on a baseball cap backwards.

I can’t help but smile.  He looks ridiculous but I’m not going to say anything.

“So Suze, what’s your 411?  What’s your ish with Winn?”  I glance at the handsome guy to my right.  If I was his age, I’d be interested.  Just saying.

Suze makes some sort of noise that reminds me of a horse snort.  It’s enough to get my attention. “411?” he says.  “Whaszat?”  He scratches his head.  “Is that the number you call for emergencies? Does that mean you’re going to call me for emergencies? Me? Ooh!”  His eyes go wide.  “Can I be a paramedic and save people?”

“Um,” I chuckle and shake my head.  “I don’t think so.”

“So why’d you ask if I wanted to be one?”

“I didn’t ask.  I wanted to know what your relationship is with Winn.  I mean, are you guys best buds? Have you been friends long?”

“Buds? Well … if I had to pick any flower, I’d call him a rose because a rose of any other name would smell as sweet.”

I’m pretty sure I have a blank stare on my face.  Just keep going, Jenny.

“Let’s try a different question.  What’ is like being  a demon?”

“Demon!  Who’s a demon?  You?”

I laugh and point to myself.  “Me?  Oh, no, I’m not a demon, but I have it on good authority you are. Emi said so.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. So, what kind of demon are you?”

“Me? I’m Abbaddon.”

“Ah, a destroyer.  Sweet.”  My stomach just tied itself into a knot.  “Don’t get to see many of you around these parts.”

He shifts positions. “Parts is parts.”

I look away while he adjusts his robe.  “Yes, well, let’s talk about something else shall we.  What do you like to eat?  Being a demon you must like meat.  Do you care for fish?  Do you like your food raw and wriggly like Gollum.  Maybe with lots of garlic?

“Gollum? Oh, I don’t know about that. He’s scary. Ewww.”  Suze shivers.  I wonder if Gollum would be impressed.  “Vampires don’t like garlic, did you know that?” Suze says.  “They are the hardest to eat and give me heartburn.”  He rubs his chest up the middle.

Ah yes. Vampires.  I was wondering when we’d get to that.  It’s always about the vampires.  Time to change tactics again.  “So Suze, tell me about your pad, your crib, your crypt.”

A smile gleams across his basketball head.  “It’s soft. And I can … I can …”  He motions me forward and leans in.  “I can change up my whole crib with a snap of my finger. I have fun gettin’ it ready for Mac. She never knows what to expect. Like … what would you like it to be like? I can make it like that! But none of that modern art stuff.”

“Hmm, how about a cabin in the woods.”

Snap and voila folks.  I’ll be doggone if I’m not in a freaking cabin in the woods.  Not too bad.  Not to bad at all.  I sit back and get a little more comfy.

“What’s your favorite article of *clears throat* clothing?”

Suze taps his temple. The finger moves to his nose. To his chin and to his cheek.  “My Superman Underoos. Mac said they aren’t in fashion, but they’re comfy, so I like ‘em.”

TMI, Suze.  TMI.  Change direction again.  I look to my left at Mac who’s eyeing me with great interest. I don’t like it.  “So, Suze, you’re Mac’s protector.  How’d that happen?”

“I dunno exactly. Someone told me I was, and then Winn told me I was, and then I just was.”

“Hmm, interesting. How about you give my readers the scoop about what you and all your fantasy friends are all about.”

“Scoop? I like chocolate. And vanilla. And Mint. And chocolate. Did I say chocolate? Yeah, chocolate and mint. Mac likes chocolate too. Did you know Winn gave her a chocolate diamond and she didn’t even eat it?”

“Suze, can you try to focus for  a minute, please?  Who and what are all of you and why is Mac so important to you?”

He frowns and crosses his arms over his chest.  “Mac’s important ‘cause she’s Mac, but I’m not supposed to say why ‘cause she doesn’t want everyone to know.”

“Okay.  I can see that subject is off-limits.  Who’s your girlfriend?”

“She’s a Dhamphyr. She’s like a vampire-human-combo person and she’s gorgeous. I really like her. Do you think she likes me?”

“I have no idea.  I’ve never met her.  Do you floss?”

“Floss?”

“Yeah, you know, string between the teeth thing after you eat?”  He looks confused.  “Oh never mind. “What do you hate most about your ‘job’ as a guardian demon?  Like most?”

“My job? Well, I get to read a lot. My favorite book is the thesaurus and did you know there’s like a different word for every word in the dictionary in there!”

“You don’t say.”  I close my notepad as I can see this interview is going nowhere fast.  As I put my pen and pad away, I ask, “Is there anything interesting about yourself you want to tell us before I let you get back to your protecting and guarding?

“He flashes a big smile.  “I’m absorbing, charismatic, curious, delightful, magnetic, pleasing, striking, suspicious— you get me, right? I’m interesting!”

Yeah, I got you buddy.  I stand and grab my things.  “Thank you for taking time to talk to me, Suze.  It’s been…different.  Keep up the good work.”  I stop Winn and Mac with my hand.  “Please.  No need to get up. I can see my way out.”

I exit the mausoleum with laughter at my heels.  That’s okay.  I just exposed Suze to the world.  I wonder if he realizes the true scope of that.  Maybe it’s best for me if he never does.  He is, after all, an Abbaddon.

***

Day After

Release Date: May 6, 2013

Target Reader: Young Adult

Blurb

Demon crypts. Vampire lairs. Glowing angels. Sexy sirens. The stuff of fiction.

Or so Winn Thomas always thought.

Since being accepted into the fold of the supernatural, he knows better. None of what he imagined is true, but everything he feared is, and binding himself to his Changeling girlfriend until her nineteenth birthday will give him an education far beyond what he’d get at his human high school.

Luckily, Winn’s not giving up, he won’t back down, and he definitely isn’t going to run away with his tail between his legs. After all, only werewolves have tails. Right?

In this, the second of the 19th Year trilogy, Winn’s facing the challenge of one lifetime. If he doesn’t learn the truth about mythological creatures, his girlfriend Mac Thorne won’t either. That means, in six months, when she chooses her final form, she won’t know what to pick.

Winn, though, has his own ideas about Mac’s final selection—plans she knows nothing of.

He intends to have her pick human.

Whether she can or not.

Read an excerpt here

http://www.emigayle.com

Emi Gayle just wants to be young again. She lives vicariously through her youthful characters, while simultaneously acting as chief-Mom to her teenaged son and searching for a way to keep her two daughters from ever reaching the dreaded teen years.

Ironically, those years were some of Emi’s favorite times. She met the man of her dreams at 14, was engaged to him at 19, married him at 20 and she’s still in love with him to this day. She’ll never forget what it was like to fall in love at such a young age — emotions she wants everyone to feel.

Want to try to win a copy of After Dark and Day After?  All you have to do is go here and enter.  Good Luck!

Book Review – Halflings by Heather Burch


After months of promoting Halflings by Heather Burch, I finally finished it.  It would have been a quick read, coming in at just under 300 pages, had life not gotten in the way, but I guess none of us have control over that.

What is Halflings about?  From the inside cover:

After being inexplicably targeted by an evil intent on harming her at any cost, seventeen-year old Nikki finds herself under the watchful guardianship of three mysterious young men who call themselves Halflings.  Sworn to defend her, misfits, Mace, Raven, and Vine battle to keep Nikki safe while hiding their deepest secret – and the wings that come with it.

 A growing attraction between Nikki and two of her protectors presents a whole other danger.  While she risks a broken heart, Mace and Raven could lose everything, including their souls.  As the mysteries behind the boys’ powers, as well as her role in a scientist’s dark plan, unfold, Nikki is faced with choices that will affect the future of an entire race of heavenly beings, as well as the precarious equilibrium of the earthly world.

When I first discovered this novel several months ago, I was intrigued by the concept.  I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it, not that I was a fan of ‘angel’ books.  In fact, I’d never read an angel book before, but I love Young Adult fantasy and this seemed to be right up my alley.

After reading it, I have to say I was split on my reaction to it.  Halflings has everything a Young Adult urban fantasy novel should have:  a cute, strong heroine, extra-cute hunky guys, a little romance, and a few bad guys.  What it doesn’t have, in my opinion, is a definitive plot.

The novel opens on a strong note:  Nikki is running for her life from a pack of hellhounds gnashing at her heels.  Lucky for her, the hunky Halflings come to her rescue.  But why?  The answer to that question isn’t really explained, nor is the reason why she’s being chased.  We have some hints…the mysterious Omega Corporation, genetic testing, antique weapons dealings…but as to a plot?  I couldn’t find one.  There is no beginning, middle and end to a single scenario.  Nikki doesn’t discover the answers to why she is what she is or why she was chosen.  We don’t learn why she was being chased by the hellhounds.  We learn what she is, but we don’t know how she became what she is.  There are a bunch of leads like endless wires hanging from a vast network of computers, but none of them go anywhere.  The balance between the questions raised and the questions answered is uneven.  I didn’t feel there was any sort of wrap-up, conclusion to anything.  As an author, I found this extremely unnerving.  It also may be why I’m so critical.  Sorry Heather.  🙂

Yes, there are half-human, half-angel hunks:  Mace, Raven and Vine.  Our heroine, Nikki is 17, is an artist and loves motorcycles.  Mace, Raven and Vine are Halflings, creatures caught between heaven and earth with so much to lose should they fall in love with a human.  Mace is a gentle soul who does everything right.  Raven is dark, mysterious with a touch of ‘bad boy’.  Nikki, of course, is drawn to both.  Vine…well, we don’t learn much about Vine except that he’s sort of new to this whole “Halfling” thing.  He sort of hangs around in the background and is occasionally thrown in, almost as an afterthought so the reader doesn’t forget about him.  I suspect he will hold a bigger role later, but for now, he’s just there.  There are other Halflings that are introduced, but like so many others, their characters aren’t fleshed out enough to answer any questions.  In fact, they sort of confuse things even more by creating new questions.

There are other sub-characters in the story…the teacher…the Halfling’s overseer, Will…the mysterious Damon Vessler…Nikki’s parents and Bo.  Unfortunately, I didn’t feel connected with them as much as I wanted.  There is an unexplained mystery hanging around Nikki’s parents that’s not fleshed out enough.  Nikki knows something is up, but she doesn’t pursue it nor does it seem to faze her.  I felt there should have been some suspense, some tension, but Nikki’s reaction to all the red flags and the mystery surrounding her parents fizzles.  In fact, her parents’ presence seems almost arbitrary.  I also felt there was a huge hole missing at the end, like a chapter was missing or something.  The story and suspense surrounding Nikki’s parents just snapped, crackled and popped.   There should have been several OMG! moments, but there weren’t.

Then there were two deaths, both of which should have affected Nikki in profound ways.  One should have played over and over again in her mind like a movie.  It should have affected her future decisions.  She shouldn’t have been able to push it from her mind so easily.  It should have stuck with her, made her more suspicious of those around her.  Her reaction, however, seemed unattached and certainly not the way I would expect anyone, much less a teen, to react.  The other death should have left her, and us, heartbroken, trembling, tears streaming down our faces.  Once again, the emotion wasn’t there.  I felt cheated.

Nikki’s BFF, Krissy, should have played a bigger part, and the villain wasn’t villainy enough.  I suspected this individual from the beginning, but the big reveal was a letdown, kind of like stubbing your toe and saying “ouch’.  I did feel Nikki’s anger at the end, but it was short-lived.  I wanted her, the Halflings to do something, anything, to the villain, but it didn’t happen.  I was left scratching my head and thinking, ‘Is this the end?’

As for the narrative, I found it to be full of clichés and clunky descriptions that at times, weighed the storyline down.  I wanted the action of the first line to continue throughout the book.  Instead, it came in spurts, and while the spurts were exciting when they came, there weren’t enough of them to sustain the pace usually found in YA novels.

With all this said, I still enjoyed the book immensely and would recommend it.  There were some funny scenes between Nikki and the Halflings that left me chuckling and the romantic moments got my heart pulsing and wanting more.  Like Nikki, I couldn’t help being drawn to both Mace and Raven.  I can see the 15 and up female readers loving this book and craving more.  There is definitely room for expansion and the introduction of new characters to help Nikki figure out what she is and what her role is to the Halflings.  I can envision girls sympathizing with and wanting to be like Nikki.  They will also pick sides.  Does Team Mace or Team Raven have a familiar ring to it?  I personally like Raven.  Then again, I’ve always been attracted the dark, handsome ones with brooding eyes.

From my understanding, there are talks of a movie somewhere down the line and a prequel is already available through several venues.  The second novel in the series is scheduled for release in September 2012.

While Halflings has its flaws, as do most novels, they are not enough to keep this reader away from reading more in the series.  In fact, I’m looking forward to this angelic three-way romance where all players stand the chance of losing everything…including their hearts and souls.

Out of 5 stars, I give Halflings a 4.  Happy reading!