Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Voices of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn

When modern technology clashes with ancient monsters, seventeen-year-old Kay and her unlikely dragon friend, Artegal, are caught in the middle. Can their friendship stop a war?

While Carrie is not a debute author, her novel is a 2010 Debute Author Challenge novel. This is her first young adult novel. I was intrigued from the beginning. It makes you want to read further to learn about the border between the Dragons and Silver River. The story has the same type of excitement I felt as a kid with the Everlasting Story. If you're an Eragon follower this book will appeal to you as well. There was a cliffhanger type ending that leaves you wondering...Is there more to the story?

I only have one complaint with this book. I feel that there should have been more details regarding the dragon side. It seemed to be more human based. That may have been the author's goal, I don't know. As a reader, I just wished to have read more on the dragon lifestyle. Congratulations to Carrie on the success of her novel. Thank you to both Carrie for her interview, and the opportunity to be able to do this review.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells

After getting dumped by her boyfriend, sixteen-year-old Mia Gordon is looking forward to spending a relaxing summer in the Hamptons with Corine,  her gorgeous and popular cousin. But Corine has better things to do- like ditch Mia at a party.
That's where Mia meets boy-next-door Simon Ross. After devising a secret signaling system, Mia and Simon meet up nightly to swim in the cool, dark ocean and lie on the beach, talking and looking at the stars. Neither feels like they belong in the exclusive resort community.
Mia isn't looking for love that summer, but she finds it. She finds a funny, artistic boy who lives boldly. She finds someone who understands her. And she finds herself.

This was another of my 2010 Debute Author Challenges. I contacted Amanda and her publisher sent me a copy to review. This was a hysterical-uplifting and yet sad summer story. It is a book that I could imagine reading on a beach as I soaked up the rays, sadly when I was reading this the weather was not warm nor was I near a beach! I think this story has the potential of a new decade version of Dirty Dancing. So many young adults would love to read a story like this. It has all the factors that teenagers live for. It is a story that has life lessons and talks of struggle and hardship and moving on. Congratulations to Amanda for her success in this debute novel.

Here are a few quotes I really enjoyed:

"Or maybe that's just the curse of really beautiful people. Everything around them must look so ugly and second-rate."

"It's a long way from Payless to Prada!"

"The surest way to hurt yourself is to give up on love, just because it didn't work out the first time."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Moonshine by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Imagining vampires at the heart of the social struggles of 1920s, Moonshine blends a tempestuous romance with dramatic historical fiction, populated by a lively mythology inhabiting the gritty New York City streets.

Zephyr Hollis is an underfed, overzealous social activist who teaches night school at the underprivileged of the Lower East Side. Strapped for cash, Zephyr agrees to help a student, the mysterious Amir, who proposes she use her charity worker cover to bring down a notorious vampire mob boss. What he doesn't tell her is why. Soon enough she's tutoring a child criminal with an angelic voice, dodging vampires high on a new blood- based street drug, and trying to determine the real reason behind Amir's request- not to mention attempting to resist (often unsuccessfully) his dark, inhuman charm.

This was one of my 2010 Debute Author challenge's. I was immediately drawn to the story for it's vintage- horror appeal with the likes of flappers, prohibition, the classy little newspaper boys, old cars, and various other things. Another thing that caught my eye was the fact it is only 9 chapters long with a total of over 270 pages. I've never read a book like the way this one was laid out in that manner.

As I read Zephyr's story the way Alaya described things, I could very vividly imagine them in my head as if I were watching it on a movie. Overall I wasn't a fan of the story in the end. For me it seemed as if there were too many agendas going on from the beginning to the end. It almost felt like it was more of an encylopedia of supernatural beings: demons, vampires, faeries, djinns, ghouls, goblins. I also felt like the author was trying to use her skill of an extensive vocabulary. I love to learn new words, but it just seemed can I put this...she could have "dumbed" it down a few notches?!

As much as I love to read sex scenes in my novels, I guess I am old fashioned. This novel is for the young adults. For me I don't believe the sex scenes should have been put in it. I am well aware of times being changed since even I was in high school, which isn't that long ago, but the fact of the matter is parents (if they raise their children with morals) aren't going to want their kids reading books featuring such scenes, in my opinion.

For me there really was only one good part in the whole story and that is when Zephyr was in the faust crazed vampire fight. Like I said, overall I wasn't a fan of the story. Although if this evolves into a series I admit I will be reluctant, but I will continue reading it.

Thanks again to Alaya for the opportunity to do this review, and allow me to mark off another of my debute novels from my challenge. I will leave you all with a quote from the book that had me thinking.

"We were all of us damaged, and I'd lost the knack of pinning blame."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Secret Life Of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life Of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. they escape to Tiburon, South Carolina- a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable novel about devine female power, a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.

The biggest motivation for me to read this book was the movie version. The movie was such a heart wrenching story. In my opinion the books are always better than the movies and so I had to prove my point. For me, I was comparing so much of the book to the movie. If I can recall right, the way that Lily & her mother are described in the story are nothing alike the movie adaptations. I also feel that there were many parts of the story left out of the movie, such as; the parts where characters appear to be daydreaming or something and really thinking of critical moments that give the story a very strong depth. I can't remember June apologizing to Lily in the movie version either. In the movie T-Ray found Lily by a map not a phone call like the book states. That was another part that had me a bit confused but I can see how it is possible to do so. My last gripe between the movie/book versions is that in the book at the end when T-Ray comes to take Lily, it is the Daughters of Mary who stand up for her. In the movie version it is Rosaleen, June & August.

Overall this was a beautifully written story that addresses racism and cruelty. It is easy to see looking back in time that slavery times and segregation are not that far behind us.The story is an eye opener into people's ignorant perceptions and beliefs that certain people are more important than others. That thought process hasn't changed. We still encounter racism in various forms of race, gender, sexuality, religion. If there is any book that can be an educational tool, it would be The Secret Life of Bees. However more than breaking racist barriers, this is a tale of family and of voids. Family knows nothing of sex, color, race, politics and religions! Family knows what it is- simply that, family.

I sincerely can't express how much of an inspiration this book is. Thank you Sue for such an elegant use of words. They have blended together and created a beautiful story that will live on for ages.

Occasionally I find quotes from books that have a sense of purpose and/or meaning to me in one form or another. Here are a few that I just couldn't forget....

"Loss takes up inside of everything sooner or later and eats right through it."

"The world will give you that once in a while, a brief time-out, the boxing bell rings and you go to your corner, where somebody dabs mercy on your beat-up life."

"From now on when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I planned to say, Amnesiac."

"If God said in plain language 'I'm giving you a choice forgive and die,' a lot of people would go ahead and order their coffin."


Everlasting Desire by Amanda Ashley

Desire  Burns  Forever

The clientele at Shore's clothing store includes some of L.A.'s sexiest bachelors. But none of them affects Megan DeLacey as deeply as the dark-eyed stranger who strides into her boutique one evening- and keeps returning, night after night. Megan is drawn to Rhys Costain even as she fears him. Because his reason for being there is clear- he wants Megan, with an intensity that's both tempting and terrifying...

For almost five centuries, Rhy has lived alone, using women as it pleased him and never wanting more. As Master of the West Coast vampires, it's his duty to eliminate the ancient vampire who's draining humans on his turf, putting all of their kind at risk. But Megan's lush beauty and vibrant warmth is blinding him to a danger that will soon engulf them both- and tear him from the only woman who can satisfy his darkest hunger...

First off, I hate to sound like a brown-noser, but I simply can't say enough good things about Amanda Ashley. Not only is she a talented authoress, but she also sets aside ample time to interact with her fans and readers. So I couldn't have been more happy than when I came home from a three week stint to find the ARC of Everlasting Desire she had offered to send me. Thank you Mandy again for another exciting opportunity to do a review for one of your upcoming novels!

My first comment on this ARC was the continuation in the Everlasting books. If you scroll through my past reviews you will notice the Everlasting Kiss review, book one. I have to admit that I fell in love with Rhys Costain's character in book one. I am a sucker for the bad boys er vamps! This was a nice twist to Mandy's previous books. The hilarious mixture of vampires, sex and name brand fashion was enticing.

As you all know I love a saga, series or collection of books. For me I really enjoyed that Mandy has brought back characters from the previous novel into Everlasting Desire. Another thing I liked was that she has no qualms on killing off her characters without endangering the plot of the story. Even more so, the deaths aren't of a simplistic style. She weaves in gritty details into why and how they die. Not to berate other authors, but sometimes they choose to kill off a character and it just seems they ran out of thought, or story. As a reader it gives us a thought that maybe we don't want to read anything further from them because of that. I am thankful Mandy has the gall and the creativity to stand out amongst them.

A few random thoughts on the story:
There's a comedic thought on a vampire fretting over what to wear to impress a mortal. (With all of their preternatural powers, you think this would be their last thought!) It really was a laugh-out-loud moment.

There were a few parts that reminded me of True Blood's sense of humor and drama. Towards the end I think there was a similar Twilight.aspect of the story at first. I was glad to see that it did divert and change directions.

I sincerely hope the Everlasting books continue on. There are so many wonderful characters and opportunities for further growth in this early collection of novels. You can find this book in stores October 2010. If you haven't read Everlasting Kiss you still have plenty of time to read it before the release date of this book.

I will leave you all with a few quotes I enjoyed:

"Mortals never changed...They were always looking for new and better ways to destroy themselves."

"Mortals and vampires and witches. Oh, my."


New ARC's & Books

Hey readers. As you all have known that I have had some family emergencies. I was gone for three weeks and arrived home this past Sunday. While I was away, the mail Fairy delivered me five new ARC's to review:

Everlasting Desire (book 2)- Amanda Ashley
Betwixt- Tara Bray Smith

Glimmerglass- Jenna Black (part of my 2010 Debute Author Challenge)
Shadow of the Moon (book 4)- Rachel Hawthorne
Plain Kate- Erin Bow

I also went shopping today and bought a few books to read while in between reviews, for fun!

Magic Fire- Christopher Pike (I am still a sucker for Pike & Stine books even tho H.S. was "so yesterday!)
Execution of Innocence- Christopher Pike
A Darker Dream- Amanda Ashley

Friday, June 25, 2010

Split by Stefan Petrucha

I dream all the time. I dream I'm someone Denby might like better but I don't like at all, someone who never quit school, someone who works his tail off, someone who- get this- keeps trying to get her to marry me. My drunk, deadbent father's around, too. I take him to AA meetings. I help pay the mortgage. I must be nuts.

After days of trying to do the right thing, I always dream I'm doing the wrong thing, that Dad's vanished, probably drinking, and that I am smug and stupid. I quit school, play lousy songs, in a cofee-bar dive, and think it's the center of the universe. I don't want to commit to anything- not to my music, not even to Denby. I just think life's a game. A game? Only in my dreams.

I found one of Stefan's books on some website earlier this year and was eager to read it. However the book I wanted was already published. So, Stefan offered to send me his newest work instead, Split. He also agreed to do an interview which is already in a previously posted author interview.

Firstly the cover art reminds me of something I would expect to see in a school library back when I was in school. It definitely has the art to appeal to it's age-specific audience. If I were in the library and seen this I would have grabbed it up out of curiousity and read it. This novel for me was a bit confusing to read. It was like reading two novels in one. The author clearly delineates the differences of the "personalities." For me it was just missing something that could make the story more....clear? (I'm treading water here in order not to offend!) Another problem for me was there was this "computer- nerd" language throughout the story that just wasn't for me.

Split has a sense of sci-fi appeal. Speaking of some alien best friend of Wade's. I couldn't tell if the alternate Wade was a dream, a figment of his imagination, or simply and alternate version of himself he created to cope with his complicated life and settings?? Overall this novel was hard for me to follow. It reminded sme much of how I felt with Fight Club. If a novel could ever cause my brain to hurt out of confusion this one would do it. Personally this novel was not to my liking.

With all that being said, I want to thank Stefan for the opportunity for making this review possible. I also want to thank him again for the interview he so willingly was a part of. Stefan is an established author and I am sure this novel isn't the last we will see of him. Congratulations on all of your success and in your continued works for the future.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chernobyl Murders- Michael Beres

1985, a year before the Chernobyl disaster. Hidden away in a wine cellar in the western Ukraine, Chernobyl engineer Mihaly Horvath, brother of a Kiev Militia detective Lazlo Horvath, reveals details of unnecessary risks being taken at the Chernobyl plant. Concerned for his brother and family, Lazlo investigates- irritating superiors, drawing the attention of a CIA opperative, raising the hackles of an old school KGB major, and discovering his brother's secret affair with Juli Popovics, a Chernobyl technician.

When the Chernobyl plant explodes scores of lives are changed forever. As Lazlo questions his brother's death in the blast, Juli arrives in Kiev to tell the detective she carries his brother's child. If their lives aren't complicated enough KGB major Grigor Komarov enters the fray, reawakening a hard-line past to manipulate deadly resources.

Now the Ukraine is not only blanketed with deadly radiation, but a killing ground involving pre-perestroika factions in disarray, a Soviet government on its last legs, and madmen hungry for power as they eye Gorbachev's changes.

With a poisoned environment at their backs and a killer snapping at thier heels, Lazlo and Juli flee for their lives- and their love- toward the Western frontier.

This novel I found on Medallion Press's website. So many factors were the deciding factor of wanting to review this book. My bro-in-law Olexiy is from the Ukraine, Chernobyl's rich & fact based fiction, re-education, cover art.

I contacted Michael about doing an interview and also the reviews for Chernobyl Murders and it's sequel Traffyck. Michael happily sent me both final copies with an autographed thank you letter, as both pooks are post-publishing. The story focuses on a corrupt, paranoid government with power hungry officials inventing a lunatic conspiracy theory involving the Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion. When the books arrived I briefly thought this is going to be a challenge. I typically read thinner, more "supernatural" based fiction works. After beginning it I was astonished at how Michael forces his readers into wanting to learn more facts about the disaster. It also allowed me to appreciate another countries histor, tragedy and survival instincts. Michael wrote this book based on as many facts as possible. I learned more from his book than I can recall I ever did in history class in school. Even then, we barely even touched upon the event itself. With my brother, Olexiy, being born and raised in the Ukraine made me hungry to learn more of his culture.

This is an intense read and one that I wouldn't recommend to anyone who isn't into history, or this genre of fiction. Michael is a very well acclaimed author and it's easy to see why after reading this fact based work of fiction. I can't wait to begin Traffyck and continue the story, the conspiracy and the deception. Chernobyl Murders is an eye opener and makes you feel grateful for what you have and what you don't have to experience.

Thanks again Michael for the books, the letter and interview.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Epitaph Road by David Patneaude


IN 2067, an airborne virus wiped out 97 percent of the male population. Thirty years later, women rule the world and have ushered in a new golden age on Earth. Poverty, crime, war, and hunger have all disappeared. Growing up in this utopia, fourteen-year-old Kellen Dent feels isolated as one of the few males alive.
When a rumored outbreak of the virus threatens Kellen's outcast father, he knows that he must warn him of the coming danger. During his desperate race to find his dad, Kellen uncovers a secret so frightening that his life and the future of the world will never be the same.
A fast-paced, post-apocalyptic thriller, Epitaph Road, is an exciting and fresh new entry in this best-selling genre.

I found this novel on a website and quickly contacted David in request of an ARC and interview. The premise of this story is a Utopian like society supremely ruled by women in all manners of everything you could think of. The world is afflicted by an air-borne virus that kills 97% of the male population. It's a post-apocalyptic tale of how the world survives and overcomes every tragedy with the lack of males in the world. Starvation, poverty, gangs, violence, disease, drugs, and any other negative thing you can think of. It's a very creative and inventive outlook. One that I think has never been tried before, to my knowledge.

The edgy beginning keeps the reader interested in what is to come further in the book. It is also a very thought provoking tale. One aspect I think US children could benefit is taking history class year round like the students in the book do. The Elisha's Bear reference is a Christianity based one. I can't say if it is a fact  based one or not, but it certainly seems to be. With that said I think it should have been explained more clearly much earlier in the novel so the readers can understand the premise of it being used throughout the novel.

There was a huge and quite unexpected twist at the end of the story which I feel catapulted the story into an even bigger depth of talented penmanship. David has created a story in which almost anyone could read. If I were back in junior high or high school I would have wished this was one of our selected readings, as opposed to some of the mundane and monotanous novels we've had to read.

Thanks again to David for his willingness to do an interview with me and also send me the autographed copy of his story Epitaph Road.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Chick With A Charm by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Lily Revere is free-spirited and fun loving—two dangerous qualities in a witch. Especially while planning her sister Anica’s engagement party, and she needs a date! She’s determined to bring hot Griffin Taylor, but he’s a divorce lawyer who claims his job has warned him off romance. He may pretend he's just not into her, but she knows better—he only needs a nudge in the right direction.

Slipping a love elixir into Griffin’s drink may not be the noble thing to do—but it sure works! Lily’s dreamboat drops all defenses and the two discover they’re perfectly matched—in every way. There’s just one problem: Are Griffin’s feelings the result of some truly good witchcraft—or is he really in love?

Wow, this book was waaaaaaaaaay more exciting to read than its predecessor, Blonde With A Wand. This story tells the tale of Anica's (book 1) rebellious sister Lily. The thing I like about this book was it's a flip flop of book one. In Blonde with a Wand Anica was the boring character and Jasper was the more intense one. With Chick with a Charm, Lily is the rebellious, intense, trouble making sister and Griffin is the "safe" character.

The story revolves a lot around the bar that Lily works in where she makes drinks I've never heard of and make me thirsty. (Harvey Wallbanger, Singapore Sling) VLT definitely up'd the sex encounters for sure in this steamy sex induced coma of fiction!! She was even more descriptive/explicit, if that's even possible? If I were a reader and hadn't read book one, I would have expected the first 100 pages could have explained more of the past story. The animal care Vicki expressed in Blonde with a Wand is as prevelant in Chick with a Charm.

I thought the wizardry version of STD/ birth control prevention is very creative and hilarious. Why can't someone think of potions to create a STD/birth control prevention. The world would be at awe. There was a good turn of events at the end. The ending also left you wanting a third book with a "lesser" character who is featured in book one and two. Aside from my Ally Blue gay-erotic obsession, Ms. Thompson has written the hottest erotica I've read this year... well it is straight but I can make substitutions. :)


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Guns by Phil Bowie

Sam Bass is tall and lanky, loves old western movies, wears cowboy boots, and drives a beat-up Jeep Wrangler. He's a hot-shot pilot running a shoestring charter business on remote Ocracoke Island, and he has a gorgeous girlfriend, Valerie a Cherokee widow with a young son.

When Sam makes a daring and dangerous rescue of a couple lost at sea in a storm, he gets publicity he definitely doesn't need.

The Cowboy, as he's known to certain people, has been located and a hit team is dispatched to take care of unfinished business. Sam, Valerie, and her son are suddenly the focus of evil. Their world erupts with violence, and the only response is a trail of just vengeance as ancient as the ghosts of the Smoky Mountain Cherokees.

The bloody hunt is on...

I originally found Phil's books last year at The Bear's Den in Cherokee, NC. After coming home from my trip I forgot the books and the author's names. I was in the process of reviewing Vicki Hinze's Forget Me Not when I came across a synopsis for them in the back of her book. I became so excited I quickly googled his website and emailed him. Phil didn't take long at all to reply back. He offered to send all three of the John Hardin series as well as doing an interview.

The great thing, for me, about these books is the publisher Medallion Press. This company is just phenomenal and very "reader- friendly." If I can recall right, I believe I received the books not more then a day or two after our initial contact. Talk about speedy delivery. Phil was so gracious as to autograph all three novels as well. Sweeeeeet! The biggest attraction for me to Mr. Bowie's books was the Native American aspect. Being Native American myself it was nice to find a book that featured my culture in it and was an interesting twist.

This was the first "growed-up" book I have read in 2010. The story was a very fast paced suspense. There were quite a few characters who I enjoyed but none more than the Gaskill's. There was a point in the story where there was this utter, heartfelt moment. It was almost like it was a story within a story. I don't want to give away anything more than that . Just know that when you reach the point I'm referring to; that your heart will just smile in such warmth. It's overwhelming when an author can create such fictional characters like them that touch upon your soul...fictional or not.

The ending of the story was quite suspenseful as the rest of the book, if not, even more-so! I am not a reader who enjoys flash back sequencing, but this was ok. Although I would have given this book a A+ if it were timeline written. Who am I kidding, it's still an A+ but you get my point. I would recommend this book to any fan of mystery, supsense, and (Jason) Bourne readers.

Thanks again Phil for your books, authographs, interview, and simply just being an amazing person.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

the cold.
Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed-wolf-her wolf- watches back. He feels deeply familiar to her, but she doesn't know why.

the heat.
Sam has lived two lives. As a wolf, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves. And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace...until noe.

the shiver.
For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance. But once it's spoken, it cannot be denied. Sam must fight to stay human-and Grace must fight to keep him-even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the futute.

Shiver is a book that just called to me much like the Twilight saga, I read the synopsis on a website and was compelled to read it. I contacted Maggie about doing a review and interview. She emailed me back and had her publisher send me an ARC. One critic mentions a comparison to Twilight that surpasses the wolves in (Stephenie) Meyer's novels. I love the cover art bubble (raised) typing/graphics. Shiver is soon to be a movie made by Unique Films, a movie I am most looking forward too.

The story is a multi-view storytelling from the main characters named Sam and Grace. Both lead characters pull the readers into their gravity. One thing I disliked about the way the book was written is the chapters "temperatures." It was so confusing to me. The premise of this author's were-curse is that when it is too cold they turn into wolves; when it is too warm they turn into humans. However sometimes the weather was warm and they still turned into wolves. It just didn't seem to have a cohesiveness to it in that aspect.

Although the novel is a young adult oriented novel, it reads as if it were an adult oriented work of fiction. More than that tho, this book is able to appear to vast age groups, ethnicities, and cultures. The way Mrs. Stiefvater writes beautiful descriptions poetic-like. The thing with reading saga's like this one is that since Stephenie Meyer's saga it is hard to set aside your pre-existing thoughts on a new series like this one. Mrs. Meyer set the pace for sure in that regard, but Mrs. Stiefvater is definitely a "Leader of the Pack," as well! (Pun fully intended.) I admit that even as I tried to set aside my thoughts, I still found myself finding similarities. I don't believe that the story is read as "intensley- obsessive" as the Twilight books, but it was still quite attention grabbing. I apologize for all the Twilight talk.

I think I fell more into the story as the book was ending its final pages. At the time I was writting this review I was highly anticipating the continuation of Grace & Sam's story. I have since finished Linger, book 2. Here is a quote I enjoyed from Shiver.

"Hope hurt more than cold." - Sam

I think for me this was the most powerful quote in the entire book. When people are used to hurting for so longer they become numb to it. Hope is the only thing to look forward to which sometimes can be unattainable. The hope can hurt more than the pain because of that. That is my interpretation.

Special thanks again so much to Maggie and M. Marshall from Scholastic Inc. Publishers for sending me a copy of Shiver and allowing me to do this review.


Author David Moody Interview

Wow, you got a review from Guillermo Del Toro. He's a well acomplished director and writer. How did that make you feel when you read his review?

It was amazing to get a blurb from Guillermo, and I'm very grateful as I know that having his endorsement has helped me sell plenty of copies! As you may know, he's going to be one of the producers of the movie adaptation of 'Hater' which I hope will start filming later this year. It's going to be directed by J A Bayona (who directed 'The Orphanage'), so that's incredibly exciting! I've known about Guillermo's involvement for a few years now, but I still find it hard to believe. I've been a fan of his for a long, long time since I first caught 'Cronos' on late night TV in the 1990's.

When you wrote Autumn you had sent it out for free "to build readership," as you said. With its fame, do you now regret that decision? Do you think you will ever do that again in the future?
I certainly don't regret giving Autumn away for free as it's proved to be the springboard for my career. Pretty much everything has come from me giving thousands of copies of the book away! It was a calculated risk because if I hadn't done it that way, I doubt I'd have found a publisher for it - the market was very different at that time. In fact, I was disappointed when I had to take the book off-line (when I sold it and its sequels to Thomas Dunne Books in 2008). Giving away free fiction is something that I want to do again, and I'm already planning something for the release of Dog Blood in June and the re-release of the Autumn books from October this year and throughout 2011.

You are a horror fanatic, as am I. Do you have a certain horror genre book or movie that you just can't get enough of?
My real interest is post-apocalyptic fiction and movies, and two of the books I usually quote are 'The Day of the Triffids' by John Wyndham (if you haven't read it, you should!) and 'Domain' by James Herbert. 'Domain' is a lesser known Herbert novel (the third in his 'Rats' series which is set after a nuclear war. When I read it in my teens, I'd never come across such a vast and unflinching vision of the apocalypse and it really affected me. Film wise, Romero's original three 'Dead' films influenced me as they have done many, many others. My favourite director, though, is David Cronenberg and I'm a huge admirer of his movies.

Is it easy not making each book similar? With all the vampire hype, as much as I love, it seems stories are running thin?
I don't want to write the same things as everyone else, so I always try and do something different. Part of the way I do that is by focusing on ordinary people rather than 'typical' heroes. But I think you're right about certain types of story running thin. I think when certain monsters or themes are overused it gets hard to write in that genre because people start making assumptions about your work before they've read it. I think it's also unfortunate the extent to which the media is driven by money and how it's all focused on making a profit. If someone writes something which sells, people will be encouraged to get on the bandwagon and produce more of the same and, unfortunately, punters keep buying it! That gives rise to horrible things like the zombie-classic mash-up books doing so well these days (Pride and Prejudice with Zombies etc.). In movie terms, it also explains why we have so many remakes and sequels doing the rounds. The corporations concentrate on getting the maximum return per buck and art, and the readership, ultimately suffer.

How do you feel about sparkling vampires?
Hate them.

You managed to not say the "Z" word in the Autumn series. Man, how hard could that have been?
Not as hard as you'd think. Remember that scene in 'Shaun of the Dead' when Ed and Shaun are about to go outside and Ed talks about 'zombies'. Shaun says 'Don't say that... the Z word." If you really were faced with the living dead, I think you'd find it hard to call them zombies because that's something from the movies that doesn't bare any relation to real life. In 'Autumn' I tried to make the characters as believable as possible and to draw a distinction between my stories and most 'traditional' zombie tales. For those reasons the characters always just referred to them as 'bodies' or 'corpses'.

A house full of women?
My wife, three step-daughters and two daughters. It's great most of the time, but boy do they have their moments. It's hard being the only male sometimes. I'm completely outnumbered - even our dog's a bitch!

I love the graphics on your novels. Can you tell us a little about them?
I set up Infected Books in 2005 to publish and promote my books, and back then it was just me running the show - I did everything myself: writing, marketing, distribution, promoting, designing... even taking the books to the post office each day! I designed the covers myself because, back then, I didn't have anyone to help and also I knew the kind of designs I was looking for. So it's just something I fell into. I guess the most famous cover is the original 'Hater' cover with the bloody writing. I created that with my youngest daughter's paints one summer day in 2006, and it came together perfectly - better than I'd ever imagined. I think the greatest compliment I had was that when Thomas Dunne Books republished the book last year, they used my original design because they couldn't come up with anything better!

Are you excited for the upcoming Resident Evil sequel?
Mildly. I'll be honest, I'm not a massive Resident Evil fan. But, at the end of the day, it's all zombies. And if it keeps them in the public eye and keeps people interested in my books then bring it on!!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Author R. Garland Gray Interview

I was doing a review last month for a Medallion Press author. (Who happens to be one of my new favorite publishing companies!) In the back there were quite a few ad's for other MP authors. Two immediately caught my attention: "Darkscape: The Rebel Lord" and "Faery Faith: Predestined." On my typical whim I googled Ms. Gray's website and emailed her inquiring about ARC's and a possible interview. She immediately wanted to do an interview but with her current schedule wasn't sure when she could get back with me. The author not only contacted Medallion on my behalf, but also had a break from her current editing and was able to do this interview. Of course I was extatic. I want to thank you R. Garland Gray for taking time out of your hectic editing schedule and personal time to do this interview for us. Good luck on your upcoming novel! As well, thank you again Medallion Press for being a very hospitable and generous company.

What do you think compels readers to your novels?

Before I start, I would like to thank you for inviting me. In answer to your question, I think readers enjoy escaping from their everyday lives to the new places that author’s create, places that stimulate imaginations. I think that my books give readers that option to retreat into their imaginations.

The pictures from Medallion Press's "Faery Ball" looked like so much fun! Can you tell us about your experience?
I should clarify that the Faery Ball was at Romantic Times Booklover (RT) convention and Medallion Press was among many of the publishers that attended. The booklover’s convention is a celebration of books, especially romances. RT hosts workshops and panels where books are discussed, lunches and dinners with famous authors are given, and reader parties and book signings happen. One of their evening extravaganzas is called the Faery Ball where authors and readers mingle and dress up in the faerie garb. In the picture below, an escort shows me across the stage of the Faery Court where costumes are being judged. I had great fun in my pink dress and tower of hair. Here is the link to Romantic Times Booklovers convention:

When you go to the website, scroll down to see information about the next convention.

 The other convention that I would like to share is Faeriecon, a celebration of all things faerie. My publisher had invited me to the East Coast Faeriecon when they decided to exhibit. Faeriecon is a two day festival with a large gathering of faerie artists, authors, performers, storytellers. There are handmade crafts, beautiful jewelry and faerie costumes. They also have panels and workshops were you can learn more about the life of faeries. In the evenings, the festival hosts a masquerade ball, one for the good faeries and one for the bad faeries and people dress accordingly. It is an amazing festival.

My days were spent behind my publisher’s booth, signing autograph copies of Predestined, Fey Born and White Fells, my Faery Faith trilogy. In the picture below, you can see the panels of the cover art of the books. I was so excited to be there that I did not sleep for two days.

 I think anyone who enjoys faery lore should go to one of the Faeriecon festivals at least once in their lifetime. It is an experience worth having. Here is the link to Faeriecon:

"Darkscape" and "Faery Faith" are two series you have written. Can you tell us a little about both?
The Darkscape trilogy is a scifi romance mystery that takes place during a time of war. Earth has been destroyed and the people have formed a feudal system of government throughout the solar system. My storyline follows the heirs of Clan Douglas and what they must sacrifice in order to survive and clear their family name.

One reviewer described the books as a preCulloden space opera. Another described one of the books as a kind of science fiction Gone With The Wind. I think of the Darkscape trilogy as a combination of Star Wars, Romeo and Juliet, and Metropolis (1927 film) with a few twists on the side. I recommend that these books be read in this order: Darkscape: The Rebel Lord, Darkscape: Redemption and Darkscape: First Heir.

The Faery Faith books delve into mythic history of ancient Ireland. I have always been curious about the origin of the Irish faeries and decided to do some research into the matter. Predestined, Fey Born and White Fells are the result. Each book takes the reader on a journey with a warrior hero from the faerie tribe of the Tuatha de Dannan. I should warn readers that these books contain dark elements and are not the traditional faery lore. Faeries are not necessarily nice creatures.

Do you plan on continuing both series after books three? Why?
No, not at this time. My muse tends to be fickle and I must follow where she leads.

I have recently fallen under the "paranormal romance" spell. It has a strong fan base. What are your thoughts on one of fiction's newest genres?
I think the paranormal genre is a wonderful escape and entertainment vehicle for those who enjoy these types of books. Stores are presented in ways that contain both the familiar and the unfamiliar, and I think that mixture provides the lure of attraction.

Most fae stories are located in Ireland, Scotland and England. Is there a reasoning why the stories are located to such few continents?
Ireland, Scotland and England have a rich mythic tradition and many authors are attracted to that wealth. However, if you take the time to delve deeper into the research, you will find that faeries exist in other cultures as well.

My friend Anne Elizabeth ( ), a wonderful author in her own right, presented me with “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies” by Anna Franklin. In this book, you can read about faeries from other places. If I open a page in the book, I can read about Meerfraun, female German faeries; Mazapegolo, the Italian faery from the region of Forh. There is Pukis, a Lithuanian faery who we know as Puck. Rarog is a Russain dwarf who turns himself into a whirlwind. And I could go on. These are just a few who are listed in the book.

I noticed you do quite a lot of research when working on a novel. So there's some truth to your fiction?
Yes, there are many truths within in my books. I enjoy weaving threads of history within my storytelling. This is especially true with my Faery Faith books where I delve into the origins of the faeries of Ancient Ireland.

What are your thoughts on the Cottingley Faery Hoax?
I remember reading about Elisie Wright and Frances Griffiths many years ago. The year was 1917 and the girls were playing in the garden of Elisie’s home. It was there that the famous five faery photos were taken. I think if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes, believed in these photos then who am I to say nay.

If your readers would like to see the famous five photo, here is a link that I found:

I hope these links work.

What's in the future for R. Garland Gray and her loyal fans?
For the future, I wait for my muse to decide.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

New Additions to my Library

The Secret Life of Bees- Sue Monk Kidd
Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone- J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets- J.K. Rowling
Goosebumps: Say Cheese and Die- R. L. Stine
Fear Street: One Evil Summer- R. L. Stine
Fear Street: Snowman- R. L. Stine
Fear Street: Goodnight Kiss 2- R.L. Stine
Fear Street: Babysitter- R. L. Stine
Fear Street: Babysitter 3- R. L. Stine
Fear Street: Babysitter 4- R. L. Stine
Fear Street: Missing- R. L. Stine
Number the Stars- Lois Lowry
I Am Legend- Richard Matheson
A Painted House- John Grisham
Message In A Bottle- Nicholas Sparks
True Believer- Nicholas Sparks
Animorphs: #33 The Illusion- K.A. Applegate
The Green Mile: Coffey on the Mile #6- Stephen King
Duma: The Movie
The Hobbitt- J.R.R. Tolkien
Memoirs of A Geisha- Arthur Golden
Frankenstein- Mary Shelley

Saturday, June 5, 2010

April-May Contest Winner

The winner of the contest is.....drum roll please!......


Please email me at stussystuff82@ yahoo dot com
Include in the subject April/May Contest Winner
Make sure you put in your address so I can ship your brand new book to you.

If the winner doesn't claim the prize I will draw a new name to select a winner.

Thanks to all the participants.