Monday, December 1, 2014

Choosing Evil by Kristina Rienzi Review, Interview & Giveaway!


Choosing Evil (Ensouled Trilogy, #1)
Choosing Evil
Ensouled Trilogy
Book 1
Kristina Rienzi

Genre: Paranormal Suspense/Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Midnight Frost Books
Date of Publication: November 25, 2014

Word Count: 70k estimated

Book Description:

Serafina Murano is no stranger to the paranormal. All of her life she’s lived harmoniously alongside demons. Damon Serpe is a conflicted demon on a mission. Unexpectedly, they collide into each other’s lives and are inexorably drawn to one another.

Dark deadly secrets, gut wrenching betrayal, and elusive questions haunt her and have her entire life. Instinctively, Serafina realizes Damon holds the key to her understanding. If she trusts him, can he help decipher her recurring nightmares and unravel the mysteries surrounding her?

On the eve of her thirtieth birthday, she must select her path and make a difficult choice. One which will change her, and perhaps the world, forever.

Will Serafina embrace the truth and face her evil?

Would you?



Find Choosing Evil on Amazon and Goodreads



Excerpt:

          Already late, Serafina began sprinting toward her building. She was still deep in thought and failed to pay attention. A second later, she slammed into what felt like a brick wall. Her coffee cup filled with mocha latte went flying, landing all over an impeccable pinstriped suit.
          She stopped breathing when she faced the victim of her morning beverage. A handsome bronzed man, almost two feet taller than Serafina, stood in front of her. His irises were so light they looked almost clear. They held a world of intrigue and reeled her right in. Those iridescent opal eyes were magnificent and haunting, telling her almost everything she needed to know about him. He was a demon.
          His smile was perfection, revealing a set of incredibly beautiful teeth. He was stunning and he wasn't human. Serafina wiped her moist palms on her dress and gave him a half-smile. "I'm so sorry." She rummaged through her purse for napkins or tissues, not fully understanding why the universe had chosen this moment, a time when her best self wasn’t present, to meet a gorgeous demon, like him.
          "No problem, I’m Damon.” His smoky voice made her shudder with pleasure. 
          "Serafina,” she lowered her voice but it didn’t sound natural and it wasn’t nearly as sultry as she wished it had been. She stepped forward to shake Damon’s hand and her heel caught on the pavement. As she began to tip over, he grabbed her arm and pulled her up straight, all in one swift motion. Now attached to him, her arms wrapped around his waist in desperation. When she realized what she was doing, she shuffled away from him and tried regain her balance.
          "Are you okay?" His expression showed his concern. 
          "I'm fine. But, I didn’t have my coffee yet."  Serafina tried to flatten the wrinkles in her dress and right herself.
          Damon laughed, catching her off guard. Relieved, Serafina laughed too. She didn’t expect her attempt at humor to work. Given her morning, she didn't think there was any wittiness in her to begin with, let alone, for it to come with such ease.
          When Serafina’s laid eyes on the mess she had made, her posture went rigid. It was a coffee crime scene, straight out of a forensic textbook. Luminal would have exposed her caffeine attack for all to see. For her assault, she should have been handcuffed on the spot. "I've ruined your clothes.”
Damon brushed himself off and buttoned up his suit jacket. "I’m fine.”

          "Yes, you are." Serafina meant to say it in her head, or at the least under her breath, but it had come out of her mouth loud and clear. Her face became hot in an instant, so she began fanning herself.  
          "This might sound like a line, but I’m glad you bumped into me. Where are you from?” Damon’s eyes twinkled, but his question sounded forced as if he already knew her answer.  
          "Home, today that is.” She failed horribly at making another joke. “But I've lived at the Jersey Shore all of my life." She tried to redeem herself "And, yes, it did sound like a line.” He was definitely the new one in town. "Did you move here recently?"
          Damon shook his head. "I'm as new as you. I've lived in Rivershore for many years. I work in Maroon County and for just as long."
          Rivershore was an upscale town not far from where she grew up in the modest beach town of Silver Lake. Although she had worked in the city for several years, Serafina spent all of her free time at the Jersey Shore, mainly Maroon County. Even more coincidentally, Serafina would turn thirty years old soon, so Damon was technically the same age as her. Demons never aged past the age of thirty.
          From what he said, they had shared the commonality of living and working in nearby towns. So, it didn’t make sense she had never seen him before. Clearly, he had a knack for hiding. However, many years in demon terms could have been any amount of time since demons were practically immortal.
          She studied him for more reasons than one, although he was striking and easy to admire. Damon’s exquisite appearance reminded her of a model or an actor. He had a rugged look, yet he was polished. He wore his expensive suit coupled with his five o'clock shadow as if it were a fashion statement. His ebony hair was long enough to push behind his ears. He was a unique mix of a tattoo artist and a Hollywood movie star. The combination really worked for him.
          Serafina’s eye contact with him was firm but her muscles lost all of their tension. “Where exactly do you work? I can’t believe I’ve never seen you before.” She felt weak as she visually devoured Damon. She was certain she would have remembered him if she had seen him before. The fact their paths had never crossed was inexplicable to her. Then, so was the supernatural. Humans living with a paranormal reality made anything possible.
          Right as Damon was about to answer, his watch alarm went off. He silenced it. "I've got to run, but it was nice meeting you, Serafina. I hope to bump into you again, and soon.”  He touched her arm lightly in a goodbye gesture and once more flashed his award-winning smile.  
          By the time Serafina summoned the nerve to reply, "Me too," he was already gone.

My Review

This story is dark and gritty and intriguing. The main character has thought she was just a normal human living along side demons her whole life. Until she finds out that she's got demon blood in her and her world is flipped upside down. It's quite a mystery to read, though you actually get POVs from some of the demons and other characters. It gives you insight to what's actually happening. 

Serafina felt different her whole life. She always had issues, I mean her mom committed suicide when she was 10 and she found her body. She been caring for her sick dad for a long time now, and then tragedy strikes him. Then she finds out she's been told lies, to protect her. She doesn't take this well, she also has a temper and definitely needs to learn to listen, because her rash temper tantrums got people killed. But hindsight and all that. I like that she's regretful when she learns her actions caused bad things, and that she wants to try to make up for it with the right thing. I also loved that she was willing to risk her life for those she loved, like her best friend Jenna. So when she learns the detective on the case is a demon and he's working for demons who want her either dead or in a powerful position, she's in a pickle. :) The whole story revolves around her. A part of me liked her, and another part of me wanted to slap her, cuz I just wanted her to realize that at almost 30, you should know better than to throw a tantrum when someone is trying to tell you something that will help you. Vera, Damon, even her dad. She was a little to self involved when people were around her, and then yet, she's selfless when she does things, like almost dying for her friend, and going up against big bad demons. :) So, I'm a little complicated with how I feel about her. LOL 

Damon is awesome. He's sweet, and I like that he wanted to be better, not just the evil that a demon is. He uses his power to try to help humanity instead of just killing people for evil reasons. I liked that he was also willing to risk it all for Serafina. He seriously could have died a bunch of times. And her best friends, Jenna who I liked alot, and Alison, who is just weird. And crazy. And not the happy kind. Jenna's a great friend to Serafina, even when she didn't deserve it. And Lorenzo, well, I hope to learn more about him in the second book. Being the demon head honcho, I have a feeling he's going to have a lot of screen time in book two, more than in this book. He's an interesting character, regardless if he's not a good guy. :) 

The writing is easy to follow, and the world building was easy. Because it's present time, normal days, without something special. Because the demons live in our world. There's nothing special about that, except that they have powers we don't, and it was interesting to see how the public reacted to their presence. The plot flowed well, and had me wanting to know what was going to happen. Overall it's an enjoyable story and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Serafina and her friends. 4 DEMON PAWS. 



Author Interview

First, tell me a little about your book J….
Choosing Evil is about Serafina Murano, a girl from the Jersey Shore, who is faced with making a decision about her future, one that will change her life forever. At the heart of this decision is Damon Serpe, a sexy, paranormal detective who is just as conflicted about his life as Serafina is about hers. Both are searching for the meaning of their existence and to find their place in a world full of evil. 

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated or did you always just know?  
In fifth grade we were charged with writing a short story. I wrote one about a cursed medallion, and it won an award! I remember telling my parents that I wanted to be an author when I grew up. It was dark story for me to write at such a young age, and I’ve been questioning the paranormal ever since.

What inspired you to write your first book and what was it? 
Something inside of me clicked. I had been working in corporate America for many years, writing short stories and such on the side. Mainly I was a closet writer, never telling anyone what I was doing, except for my husband. I recall the urge to write a novel striking me. It was a drive to write I couldn’t explain, but I knew it was something I needed to do. So, I sat down and started writing a women’s fiction novel about three best friends facing a tragedy together. I never finished it because somewhere in the middle Choosing Evil got in my mind and it wouldn’t let me go. And, here I am!

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? 
From a paranormal standpoint, no – thank goodness! But, from a human standpoint, I’ve certainly lived through the human emotions of grief and anger, which is something I’m sure my readers will relate to as well.

How do you choose when/which characters die in your books? 
Sometimes I have an idea during the plotting process, and usually it’s because it’s an essential part of the story, whether a turning point or some other catalyst for change. Other times, it happens so organically that I end up writing the rest of the story around it.  

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? 
There’s so much talent out there, it’s hard to choose. I’d have to say my two favorites this year are Jenny Milchman, author of Cover of Snow and Ruin Falls, and Kristi Belcamino, author of the Blessed are the Dead Series. Both are fantastic storytellers, and people. I should be so lucky to walk alongside either of them one day.

Who do you look up to as a writer? 
In life, it would have to be the three most important people: my parents and my husband. They’ve shown me how to live a life full of love, and how to experience each emotion to the fullest. I owe it to them for my ability to dive deep into a character, feeling what they feel and expressing it to the best of my ability on the page. From a craft standpoint, I truly admire Anne Rice’s work as an author and as a person. She’s not only wildly talented, but she connects with her readers on their level. You can’t help but admire someone with her track record who so genuinely connects with others.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book? 
I’ve rewritten my book so many times and made so many changes, it’s a hard question to answer! Ultimately, there were a few scenes I wanted to keep that my publisher removed, but I believe they know best, so I guess there’s nothing I would change now.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 
Everything! All of it.  But, if I had to pick just one thing, I’d say that my biggest challenge is in writing intricate details. I like to write fast paced stories that only slow for emotional impact. I tend to be a skeleton writer, meaning: I get the story out and then fill in the blanks later. It helps keep my plot moving along with ease.

What book are you reading now? Or what genre? 
Actually, I’m reading non-fiction book right now. I read a lot of motivational books. I find when I’m inspired to be successful and work hard that I do my best work. Right now, I’m reading “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell.

Who designed the cover? And do you help with them? 
My publisher, Midnight Frost Books designed it. Actually, they asked me for input and I requested they put the symbol at the core of my novel, wings on fire, as the center feature. I think they did a pretty good job!

Did you learn anything from writing your books and what was it? 
Oh, man. I’ve learned so much, yet I still feel like it’s only the beginning of what I need to know. On the craft of writing, I’m leaps and bounds from where I was when I started. Choosing Evil is my debut novel and it took over two years to write from first draft to completed version. It was a huge learning curve from my history of writing mainly short stories. However, since then I’ve started two other novels and I feel like I have a handle on them (for now!). Overall, writing a book has taught me that a marathon is not only for runners. And, that sometimes a sprint can be continuous. I think I like to torture myself because the amount of work involved is nothing short of mind blowing. But, all in all, I’ve learned that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to, and that I’m a hopeless workaholic!

If you could be one of your characters, who would you chose? 
I think I would choose, Damon, which is odd because I find myself more like Serafina than any other character. But I love that there’s darkness within Damon and he’s conflicted about it. I feel that way many times, guilty over being stressed or anxious or generally always wanting to be this other person I see in people I admire. I connect with him in many ways and would love to see how I’d react in the story if I were Damon. 

Are there any books you think some of us should read, just because? 
Oh, so many to count. A couple of important books for everyone to read: In non-fiction, it’s Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. It’s honestly one of the best books ever written. It’s all about connecting with others genuinely, something I try to do with everyone on a daily basis,  from the gas station attendant to a corporate vice president. Getting to know people in life isn’t easy, but it’s what makes life interesting. In fiction, it’s John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. Love and loss are two of the strongest emotions, and John does them justice with his humorous and eloquent writing. We could all learn a lesson from Hazel Grace’s story.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 
Oh, yes. A big THANK YOU to my readers for spending your precious time reading my words. I’m honored and blessed to be able to publish a novel, and I only hope Choosing Evil does what it was intended to do – entertain you, while opening your mind so you may embrace the unknown in life.


About the Author:
 
Kristina Rienzi was born and raised at the Jersey Shore where she still lives today.  Her debut paranormal suspense novel, CHOOSING EVIL, is being published by Frost Books on November 25, 2014.

Professionally, Kristina has been active in the writing community as a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime-Central Jersey, Romance Writers of America and New Jersey Romance Writers, serving as Chair of the Literary Book Fair in 2013. Kristina has her Masters Degree in Psychological Counseling and her Senior Professional in Human Resources Certificate, working in both fields throughout her business career.

Personally, Kristina is married and a doggie mommy to Pekingese and Shih Tzu pups. Although a lover of New Jersey, she dreams of one day moving to Hawaii and living the “Aloha” way. When she’s not writing, she spends her time reading, watching paranormal investigations, rooting for her West Virginia Mountaineers or relaxing with her loved ones, wine in hand.

Kristina is currently working on BREAKING EVIL, the sequel to CHOOSING EVIL, as well as another paranormal suspense novel, UNLEASH THE WICKED, about an unsuspecting witch at the Jersey Shore.





Tour giveaway

1 $25 Amazon Gift Cards
1 $10 Amazon Gift Card
1 ebook copy Choosing Evil

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope you guys check this one out and good luck on the giveaway!! Thanks to the author for allowing me to read her book and stopping by to hang out with us!! Happy reading and alter gators!