Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bonds of Fenris by S.J. Bell + Author Interview

Title: Bonds of Fenris
Author: S.J. Bell
Release Date: May 7th 2012 by S.J. Bell
Edition: E-ARC
Source: Author
Talia Thornwood's life ended one year ago, when she became a werewolf. She survived the attack, and the horrifying transformation a month later, but the life she has now is barely worth living. She lurks about in a filthy, run-down house, with too many werewolves crammed into too small a space. Every day is a struggle against the stress of human contact, the romantic prodding of her obnoxious packmate Pierce, and the gnawing hunger for flesh in her soul.

She's all but resigned herself to a dreary existence on the margins of society when she meets Corwin. Corwin is a werewolf like none other. He walks among humans as if it was nothing, and can keep his wolf under control even when the moon is full. Talia's mind is suddenly opened to the possibilities before her, and the realization of how little she really knows about lycanthropy.

Corwin claims that he can teach her how to cope as he does, even how to transcend her affliction. But it will not be easy. It is a hard education that requires her to question everything her pack taught her, and confront exactly what she has become. And, more amazingly, what she never stopped being.

My Review:
I really enjoyed this book. It was different than other shifter books that I have read. I loved the whole concept of accepting the wolf, human, and werewolf.

I really like all the characters. They each brought a different element to the book. I like Talia, but she sometimes could get on my nerves. Not often, but sometimes. She went through the learning process first and she really developed as a character by the end of the book. Sometimes she didn't give herself enough credit. I know it had to be tough to watch your pack mates go through that kind of torture, but she did and it was admirable. Corwin was awesome! Really loved him :) He was probably my favorite character. He was very intelligent and was kind of adorable when it came to Talia and his emotions. And their romance was just right. It didn't fill up the whole book with all the mushy stuff, but it was just enough to satisfy my need for romance and it wasn't overwhelming.

Bo, Marlene, and Pierce were also great characters. They were each so different from one another. Bo was like the big brother of the pack. He was so caring and loving that you just had to like him. Marlene was kind of sarcastic, but was very intelligent also. You saw a side of her that was devastating and you got to see her experience the devastation in a way that made you realize that she wasn't just this girl with attitude. Pierce really surprise me at the end with all his inner turmoil. That made me like him little bit more than I did. I also like how you see and experience them going through the lessons also, not just Talia. And you can't forget Leroy. It was sad with what happen to him and I really liked him too. But, things happen.

The book wasn't as action packed as I like, but it did have his moments. Like I said before, I really liked the whole connecting with the wolf thing and not viewing it as the enemy. It was interesting to read about and haven't read a shifter book before that goes that route. Who are you? Human, wolf, or werewolf? IDK lol

Overall, I really enjoyed the book! It was a quick read and if you love shifters, then I recommend this book to you! :) Thank you to the author for providing me with an E-ARC of the book :D

 Author Interview

1. Where is the current place you reside and can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I live in New York, specifically Long Island, and have for most of my life. I went to both school and college here, like some dumb family sitcom where the kids grow up but can't be written off the show. Long Island is a nice enough place to live, especially if you tend to get lost while driving. You could wind up going in circles for hours, but you'll never find yourself in another state or something. After all, you can only get so far away before you hit the ocean and realize you ought to turn around.

2.  Have you always wanted to be an author and what or who inspired you to become a writer?
Well, I always wanted to be a storyteller, but I didn't know until recently that I was going to be an author. I grew up in the 1990's, when everybody said print was dying. For most of my adult life I figured I would get a disposable 9-to-5 and make video games in my spare time. It turns out that this is not a terribly viable career strategy, because there's no such thing as a "disposable 9-to-5" anymore. Anything you work at, you're expected to be devoted to. As for the other part, making video games -- especially story-based ones -- is a lot more difficult than you think. You need graphics, music, interface and gameplay, level design, etc.. Writing gives you a much closer connection between author, story, and reader, and is also a lot less labor-intensive for the same amount of story. Once I realized that the market for the written word was not in permanent decline after all, my path was clear.

3. When did you write your first complete book?

Well, for most of 2009 and 2010, I was working on a book called Howling Moon. To be blunt, it stunk. I revised over and over again to try and get it to work, but it just didn't. At one point, I got so hopelessly stuck that I started writing a short story. Just a brief thing to clear my head. But when I started putting it down on paper, I realized that this short story had a lot more potential than I had thought. So I fleshed it out more, and it became a longer story, and then a novella, and today it's a full-length novel called Bonds of Fenris. I lost Howling Moon in a hard drive crash a while back, but I don't really miss it. I've heard a lot of authors mention similar books: early works, usually unpublished, where they made all their mistakes. Embarassing to talk about, but important nevertheless, because it's in those early failures that we learn our most important lessons about writing.

4. Do you take any part in creating your book covers?

Well, first and foremost, I have to hunt down a decent artist. Self-publishing is different from traditional publishing. I understand in that world the author has very little input on cover design. Self-publishing gives you more control, but also hangs the weight of responsibility on your shoulders. I had some vague experience with Daz3D and thought I might be able to create my own cover, but an old Penny Arcade strip about GBA modding ( ) reminded me that some things should be left to professionals. After some searching, I found Stephanie Mooney, who's done some very good covers in the past, and contracted her to do the work. I gave her some information about the novel and two basic requirements: no romance-novel B.S. (bare-chested men, etc.) and it must obviously be a werewolf book. She did two mockups. I picked the one I thought was better, and made some comments on how it might be improved. That was the tricky part. On the one hand, it's not good for either party to this arrangement -- or the book, for that matter -- if you just nod timidly and say yes to the first thing that looks good. On the other hand, most writers are not graphical artists, and micromanaging or nitpicking is likely to both irritate the artist and be detrimental to the final product. So you have to give clear instruction on what doesn't work, but also have confidence in your artist's abilities and not try and take the reins from her. If an artist is worth working with, they'll usually be able to take constructive criticism. In the end, Ms. Mooney and I worked together very well, and the cover was quite well-recieved in the community. Certainly, I think it looks great.

5. Do you have any bad habits you do when you are reading?
The worst thing I do while reading is lose track of time. This can be a big deal when I've got something I really have to get done. When I have a day job, I tend to read on my lunch hour, which can result in a jog back to the office if I don't keep one eye on my watch. At home the problem is lessened, but not eliminated. If you're into a really good book, it's easy to miss dinner or forget important chores.

6. Where is your favorite place to read?

My bed, since I was a kid. I think it's a learned behavior. My mom used to read Berenstein Bears to me when I was in preschool, and after a while I started reading along, and then reading by myself. I kept doing that at bedtime through junior high: that was my reading time. I don't read before bed anymore, but I still favor the bed as my reading place. You can just recline on your stomach and relax while losing yourself in a good story. Reading in a chair makes your arms tired.

7. Are you currently reading any books?
Alas, no, getting Bonds of Fenris to publication is my top priority right now. But I'll get back to reading soon. I have a few notable series to catch up with. Really, an author has to be a reader, because you have to keep up with what other people are doing. Writing in an ivory tower leads to your stories becoming stagnant.

8. Who are some of your favorite authors?

Well, within the realm of werewolf fiction, I've remarked that there are only three authors I am fanboyish about: Jennifer Lynn Barnes and Carrie Vaughn. You will note that this is only two people. I know this. These things always come in threes, I just haven't found the third yet. More broadly, I was a huge fan of the late Douglas Adams, the work of Chris Avellone, and Babylon 5. When I was a kid, I adored Calvin and Hobbes. Going old-school, I like James Joyce, although people who take English degrees are pretty much required to, and I enjoy the absurdity of Samuel Beckett, though as a writer of plays his work really has to be seen rather than read. It's a motley crew of influences I have, yes.

9. Which do you prefer: Stand Alone or Series when it comes to books?

I don't mind either, so long as I'm getting a complete story. Too many series writers are addicted to the cliffhanger, or just drag out their main plots from book to book without resolution. In my opinion, the right way to do it is to think of a series not as a single, long story, but as a series of connected tales. Each book has to end with an ending, and begin with a beginning. Some authors do that better than others. An annoying portion of them don't try. Little irritates me more than a book that just stops after an important scene, or even mid-scene, with a "tune in next time." The local public library doesn't pay $20 so that their readers can wait two years and two more books to see how the story ends.

10. Do you have any advice for writers out there who want to become authors?

With only a single book published, and self-published at that, I don't think I'm yet at the point where I could offer any advice worth heeding. I can say with certainty, though, that the best way to learn how to write is first to read, and then to write.

11. Where can people buy your books?
At Smashwords, or any of their fine affiliates. It comes out May 7th. It should be available on Amazon, as well, but I'm not sure when.

12. Do you have any websites? (Twitter, Facebook, Blog, etc.)

I have a blog, at . I'm not fond of Facebook, especially considering their personal information problems awhile back. I'm not on Twitter, either, because it requires you to talk constantly. I'm of the opinion that when a man has nothing to say, he should be silent.


  1. Glad to see you liked this book! I definitely like my shifters, I'll have to check this one out. And the interview was very interesting to read. It's so cool to get an inside look at the author.

    P.S. Janina, your blog looks great! I read your tweet that someone designed it for you and I just had to stop by and see for myself. It's lovely.

    1. Shifters are awesome! Probably my fave :)
      And thank you :D

      If you want to check out her design blog, its

  2. I adore shifter books and this one sounds great! I can't wait to pick this one up and meet the characters and read about their romance! Glad you enjoyed this! And thanks for sharing the great interview as well! :D

    ~ Maida
    Literary Love Affair