Saturday, December 31, 2011

Darkness, my friend by Lisa Unger

"After giving up his post at the Hollows Police Department, Jones Cooper is at loose ends. He is having trouble facing a horrible event from his past and finding a second act. Then, on a brisk October morning, he has a visitor, Eloise Montgomery, the psychic who plays a key role in Fragile, comes to him with predictions about his future, some of them dire.

Meanwhile Michael Holt, a young man who grew up in the Hollows, has returned, lookig for answers about his mother, who went missing many years earlier. He has hired local PI Ray Muldune and psychic Eloise Montgomery to help him solve the mystery that has haunted him. What he finds might be his undoing.

Fifteen-year-old Willow Graves is exiled to The Hollows from Manhattan when six months earlier she moved to the quiet town with her novelist mother after a bitter divorce. Willow is acting out, spending time with kids that bring out the worst in her. And when things get hard, she has a tendency to run away-- a predilection that might lead her to dark place.

Set in The Hollows, the backdrop of Fragile, this is the riveting story of lives set on a collision course with devastating consequences. The result is Lisa Unger's most compelling fiction to date.





Darkness was a novel that Lisa's publicist had directly contacted me to review for. This was the second novel she requested me to review, thankfully it wasn't as tragic as the first.

I am unfamiliar with Lisa's previous novels, but it appears this is possibly a sequel to another published work. This was a combination of crime, suspense and slightly a psycho thriller. I was not truly captivated by the book until about chapter 15. The story was overwhelming up to this point, as chapter 15 arrived things began to clear up and I was able to sort the pieces and recount the prior pages into an organized one, for myself. I really got into the story of each character towards the end of the novel. It was such a gritty, dark story.

My favorite quotes:
"Surely you see that spending, your life fearing death is a death in and of itself."

""...suspense is for people with small vocabularies..."

"When did it become a badge of honor to be too busy, to have too much to do?"

"You might be in New York City. You might be in The Hollows. You might be on the moon. But you'll always be,(Willow). When you can be happy there, you'll be happy any where."

"Be yourself? Do your best? How could that be true for every one? Not everyone was nice and kind, talented, pretty, intelligent. Sometimes your best was not good enough to achieve what you wanted. What happened then? Were you just stuck with yourself, your life just whatever sad product of your "best" effort?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Updates

Hey Follower's:
I am excited to see a few new Follower's have joined the blog. I have also added the "Books I've Read" page. I will be adding to this list as I burn through my reviews. I have also added the "2012 YA Debut Author Challenge" page. For those of you who followed me in 2010 you know that I was a part of the Story Siren's challenge. I won't bore you with details, but this is the current year challenge and I am excited to immerse myself into some great debut author's novels. The last page that I have added is the "2012 Debut Author Fiction Challenge." This is much like the YA challenge, but focuses solely on the fiction of adult aged novels. See the page for further details. I will be adding my lists of debut novels asap. Best wishes. Keep up the reading!!!
xoxo

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mike McCarty Interview


In your novel, Liquid Diet and Midnight Snack (Whiskey Creek Publishing), it features a right-wing religious organization. Although they may be fictional, some religious groups frown upon the horror genre. What was your intent on this inclusion?


Michael McCarty: The Opposition to the Occult is a fictional organization (thank God), but they represent different groups who have targeted horror, heavy metal music, gay marriage, different religions and different cultures – anything that is outside the norm.

Your novels have been printed through various publishers. Do any of those publishers stand out in any specific way?

McCarty: My favorite so far are: Wildside Press (who have published Giants of the Genre, More Giants of the Genre and Dark Duets), Damnation Books (who have published A Hell of A Job and Partners in Slime), Whiskey Creek Publishing (who have published Liquid Diet), Sam’s Dot Publishing (who have published Little Creatures, A Little Help From My Fiends and Rusty the Robot’s Holiday Adventures), BearManor Media (who have published Esoteria-Land, Masters of Imagination and Modern Mythmakers), Medallion Books (who will be publishing Monster Behind The Wheel) and McFarland & Company (who published the first edition of Modern Mythmakers). I also enjoyed Delirium Books & Corrosion Press too.


We have a mutual friend, Joe McKinney. What was it like to work with him?

McCarty: I really enjoy working with Joe, he is a very hard working writer and is very imaginative, full of so many ideas and directions; it is a delight collaborating with him. Joe and I are both members of the Horror Writers Association and that is how we met.

When I was putting together my short story collection A Little Help From My Fiends, I asked Joe to write the afterword, which he wrote a great one for the book.

Joe asked me to look at a manuscript he was working on and asked if I wanted to collaborate, the project eventually became the novella Lost Girl Of The Lake, which is one of my best pieces of long fiction. It is set the early 1960s and has as many twists and turns as a rattlesnake slithering across a hot highway does. The book is set to release early 2012 from Bad Moon Books.

Joe and I just finished another novella called Terror Of Bristol Plains for the anthology Before Plan 9: Plans 1-8 from Outer Space.


Do you have any horror mythos that you haven't written about? If so do you plan on doing so?

McCarty: I’ve written about vampires in Liquid Diet and Midnight Snack and Bloodless (with Jody LaGreca) -- a novel I am currently shopping around and all the short story collections. I’ve written about werewolves. I’ve written about robots for the kid’s book Rusty the Robot’s Holiday Adventures with Sherry Decker. I’ve written about zombies with Mark McLaughlin with Monster Behind The Wheel. I’ve written about ghost with Amy Grech with Fallen Angel.

I’d like to write more about vampires because they are my favorite and zombies too. As for something I’ve never written about before, I’d love to write a book about Frankenstein’s monster, I have some ideas and might tackle that someday.



A comedian, a musician, a managing editor. Those are just a few of your previous jobs. So what made you pursue such a (successful) career as an author?

McCarty: Actually I have been writing since 1973. I sold my first newspaper article in 1983. I sold my first national magazine article in 1993. My first book was published in 2003. I did all the other things such as stand-up comedian, musician and editor between my writing gigs.


What can you tell us about Monster Behind The Wheel the novel you co-written with Mark McLaughlin and going to get published by Medallion Press?

McCarty: The automobile is the most dangerous weapon in our society. Cars kill more people than wars do. More than 50,000 people will die this year in car accidents. Monster Behind The Wheel tells the story of Jeremy Carmichael. During his childhood he falls from a Ferris wheel, landing on and killing a beautiful woman. Years later, as a young man, he is involved in a horrific car crash. Soon he finds himself transported between the worlds of the living and the dead on an all-too-regular basis. Jeremy strikes a bargain with an older woman and purchases her car (a 1970 Barracuda), exchanging sexual favors in returned for a reduced payment plan. Then, all hell breaks loose – literally. We learn the shocking aftermath of that long-ago fall from the Ferris wheel.

This novel is a surreal helter-skelter ride of humor, lust, thrills and gut-wrenching horror and oil changes (laughs). I hope the readers will enjoy it. It took five years for Mark and I to finish this novel.

Sounds like an interesting book. How would you describe your protagonist Jeremy Carmichael from Monster Behind The Wheel in 10 words or less?

McCarty: He’s a young man desperate to outrace his own demons.

Why did you choose a 1970 Barracuda as the haunted car?

McCarty: Another great question. The 1970 Barracuda was completely restyled and re-engineered. It was considered then and remains to this day one of the finest muscle cars design from Chrysler. The high performance ‘Cuda model came standard 426 Hemi engine. The car also had the shaker hoodscope that sat atop the 426 six-barrel. It was, and still is, a real monster on the road. It could eat Christine for breakfast.

You have the same name as the acclaimed horror special effects artist, Mike McCarty. Has anyone ever confused you two?

McCarty: Oh yes, it happens from time to time. I met Mike at the World Horror Convention in Burbank, California when Monster Behind The Wheel was up for Best First Novel at the Bram Stokers. I wish I took a photo of the two of us, we will probably crossed paths again someday. I’m a big fan of Mike’s work. He is a very talented special effects guy and enjoy seeing is work.

What novels do you enjoy reading? If any?

McCarty: I am a book nerd, so I am also reading a ton of books. Currently I’m reading Bentley Little’s His Father’s Son, I also picked up his book The Disappearance (which I plan to read next, I am a big fan of Bentley Little). I interviewed Bentley in Modern Mythmakers and he wrote the introduction to my book Dark Duets.

I am also re-reading Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451: The 50th Anniversary Edition; I haven’t read this book since high school and am glad I am reading it again. I interviewed Ray for two of my books Masters of Imagination and Modern Mythmakers.

I am also reading Joe McKinney’s Flesh Eaters. I read the other two books in his zombie series Dead City and Apocalypse of the Dead which I really enjoyed both. He’s cranking the zombie books out faster than I can read them.

What about movies?

McCarty: I really want to see that remake of Fright Night. Recent genre movies I saw include Rise of the Planet of the Apes (which was great) and Cowboy & Aliens (which was okay) – I saw both of them at a drive-in this summer. My wife and I enjoyed the third season of TrueBlood. We also really enjoyed the last season of Futurama. I am looking forward to season two of Walking Dead. Other movies I enjoyed this year Paul. I also enjoyed the comedies Cedar Rapids, Hang Over 2 and Horrible Bosses.

If one of your novels was turned into a movie, which would you choose. Why?

McCarty: That’s a great question, but a tough one to answer. I always write in a very visual style, so all my novels would make great movies. But if I had to choose just one, I’d say Liquid Diet because vampires are so popular right now and there is a lot of humor in the book and the novel does feature cameos by real life people like The Amazing Kreskin, Joe Hill, Chris Alexander (the editor of Fangoria) – it would be fun to have them appear in a film version of the book.

The novel is set in Chicago, which is a very visually interesting city, and plot-wise it there is a lot of action adventure and biting in it, so that would also make great cinema.

Last words?

Thank you Steven Foley for a great interview. If people are interested in getting my books, here are some links they can go to get most of them:
Most of my books can be found at:


http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JS0L06

Liquid Diet & Midnight Snack:
http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/torrid/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=3&products_id=606&zenid=3e4bb3f047f5949991dc72a0776ce3f3

Monster Behind The Wheel:
http://www.medallionpress.com/authors/mcCarty.php

Rusty the Robot’s Holiday Adventures:
http://sdpbookstore.com/storybooks.htm

Sam’s Dot Publishing:
http://sdpbookstore.com/anthologies.htm

Other Social Media:
Facebook
http://www.face-book.com/profile.php?id=1158897579

Good Reads
http://www.goodreads.com/michaelmccarty

MySpace
http://www.myspace.com/monsterbook

Blog
http://cafehorror.ning.com/profile/MichaelMcCarty

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Goosebumps Horror Land: Claws by R.L. Stine

ME! OW!!!

Mickey is put in charge of his vacationing neighbors' cat, Bella. His best friend, Amanda, comes along to help out. All they have to do is make sure Bella has enough to ear and doesn't destroy the furniture. Seems simple enough. But Bella escapes from the house and is hit by a truck. Mickey feels awful. What is he going to do? Amanda has an idea to replace the cat with a look-alike from the local pet store, Cat Heaven. They find a cat that looks exactly like Bella, but the clerk won't sell it to them, so they decide to steal it. Big mistake! These cats are more than what they seem to be...





This was another ARC I received from my friend Mandee at Scholastic Publisher's. My first thought when I saw the title of this book on the catalog I was sent, was the recollection of reading R.L. Stine when I was a child. It brought back some great memories and rekindled my love for the author's creative tales of scary stories for children.

Goosebumps Horror Land is a new collection of stories from R.L. Stine. In the beginning of the story there is The Storykeeper. He collects the stories of children from Horror Land and retells them for the reader's pleasure. I think that this is a unique way to inspire children's passion for all things horror.

Chapter one introduced the main characters and set the pace for the entire novel, in only a matter of two pages. The main characters are Mickey and his best friend Amanda. I believe that R.L. Stine has significantly portrayed the friendship of two young children in a very realistic way. This is something that will help any child reading this feel that it is relevant to themselves. Another thing that is great for the reader is at the end of each chapter they are all cliffhangers. This suspense keeps them eager to continue the story.

On the downside of the novel, I was confused at how Mickey supposedly always got along well with cats. It appeared, from my perspective, that he never once got along with any cat! The ending felt like the author simply ran out of energy. It just appeared to be too simplistic of an ending, almost as if his muse disappeared.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Amber Kizer Interview

What inspired you to become a writer?
My freshman year of college I developed a rare nerve disorder in my legs. You can’t tell by looking, but I deal with a ton of whacky and weird symptoms including really tough pain on a daily basis. So I had to change my plans and figure out how to have a career that was flexible and didn’t rely heavily on my legs cooperating on a schedule.

I took a friend’s writing workshop and by the end had a story idea I wanted to keep working on, the first manuscript was born! Then it’s about studying the craft and practicing it like an Olympic athlete or a concert pianist. It’s not easy, it takes discipline and determination to be a published author. It takes writing when you can’t even remember how to spell “Muse.”


How long have you been writing for?
I started working on ONE BUTT CHEEK AT A TIME in 2005 and it was published in 2007 by Delacorte Press/Random House. The second in the series, which actually stands alone too, is coming out in April 2011 and it called 7 KINDS OF ORDINARY CATASTROPHES.

Of your work, which is your favorite, or that you hold dear for one reason or another?
At the time I'm writing a book that is my favorite book. You have to remember that authors are working on books that readers will see in 1-3 years. Right now I'm writing a survival odyssey called ECHOES OF 1492 and it's my favorite. I absolutely adore Gert Garibaldi's voice (ONE BUTT CHEEK and 7 KINDS)--she's a hoot to write. But I also love dealing with the taboos and mythology around death like in the Fenestra series of MERIDIAN and WILDCAT FIREFLIES (July 12 2011). There's something I love about all of them. I wouldn't want to give readers a story I didn't love--what's the point of that? :)

As an author who is your favorite to read from?
I read 20-25 books concurrently—like other people change channels on the remote. Readers who are interested can keep up with me on Goodreads, Facebook or by joining my email list at www.MeridianSozu.com, I recommend my faves for the month in my newsletter. Overall favorites include Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Margaret Atwood, Jude Deveraux, Nora Roberts, Stephen King...I read just about anything but math theory and computer programming--everything else is fair game!

What is your favorite genre?
I grew up in a house full of books and love of story, but it wasn't until I found romances in seventh grade that I really fell in love with stories. So they will always hold a special place in my heart--I am a sap for happy endings! But YA is amazing in the last five years--it's exploded, there is something for everyone in that section and adults who don't read in it are missing a ton.




What do you like to do in your spare time? Writing isn't an answer! :)
I'm a huge college basketball fan--so there's that. I love reality TV--the trashier the better. I do a lot of gardening (when my legs cooperate). I quilt. Make cakes and lots of yummy desserts for friends. I spend time with the dog, cats, chickens and wildlife of the area. Spending time with family and friends is a priority even though they know when I'm working I tend to disappear for weeks or months. There is never enough time in the day to explore all the amazing adventures in the world.

Have you ever collaborated with another author? Or plan too?
I have a critique partner and we work each other's writing. I don't have a plan to collaborate officially with an author, I wouldn't rule it out though!

Do you have any pen name(s)? If so, why do you choose to use a pen name?
Nope, I write under my own name!

Any words of wisdom for your fans and readers?
I want to thank readers for their enthusiasm and heart. You guys rock! More questions and answers can be found at my websites: www.amberkizer.com, onebuttcheek.com and meridiansozu.com. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter--I'll be sending out a sneak peek to my fans via there and Facebook in February.

I think the one piece of wisdom I have worth sharing is to not limit yourself to the books and stories you're willing to try reading. You never know what will connect with you on an emotional level. Some of the best books I've ever read I picked up in an airport (I love book buying in airports!) because I was just browsing and open to reading anything that struck my fancy. So when people say "I don't like this genre" or "I only read this" I feel bad for them because there are amazing stories--both made up and true in our world and they'll miss them!

Thanks very much for having me! Happy reading! Amber

Leah Cypess Interview

What inspired you to become a writer?
Hard to say, since I've wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I don't remember deciding - it feels like I always knew.

How long have you been writing for?
I have a copy of my first short story, which I wrote when I was in first grade (it was told from the point of view of an ice cream cone). I began writing what I thought of as my first "book" when I was in third grade. And when I was 15, I finished the first book that I thought was publishable (I was wrong).

As an author who is your favorite to read from?
I can't possibly pick a favorite! But of the books I read this past month (yes, that's about as far as I can take it) my favorites were WHISPER by Phoebe Kitanidis and MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins.

What is your favorite genre?
Fantasy. (See, *that* one was easy.)

What do you like to do in your spare time? Writing isn't an answer! :)
Is "I don't have spare time" an answer? ;) Reading, obviously; but I also really love biking, and I don't get to do it as often as I like. I live near some great biking/walking trails in Boston, one of which takes me along a creek, past two lakes, and to the Arboretum. With occasional scatterings of wild geese along the way.




Have you ever collaborated with another author? Or plan too?
My cousin and I used to try and write joint books when we were in high school. None of them ever came to anything. However, we once wrote down 100 "first lines" for stories, and tried to each write a story starting from the same first line. The story I wrote for that exercise ended up being the first story I got professionally published. (It was called Temple of Stone, and you can read it for free on my website!)

Do you have any pen name(s)? If so, why do you choose to use a pen name?
I don't.

Any words of wisdom for your fans and readers?
Don't give up on your dream, but at the same time be flexible about it. For writers specifically, this translates into not letting rejection get you down - but also being ready to move on to another manuscript if the first one isn't going anywhere.

Thanks!

Shawna Yang Ryan Interview

Did the inspiration of Water Ghosts come from your ethnic background? Or was that just a portion of it?
--I was interested in exploring Chinese American history, but my interest in exploring local history was more of an inspiration for Water Ghosts. I grew up in Sacramento, but I knew very little about its history, or the role the Chinese played. The wonderful thing about fiction writing is that it's an opportunity to research topics I'm curious about and then apply what I've discovered.

Water Ghosts is your debut novel? Do you plan on writing any further novels?
--Water Ghosts is my first novel. I have about 4 other novels floating around in my head, two others in drawers (ok,well, laptop files) and one on paper, halfway through. So the answer is yes!

With its US success, how has the novel faired overseas?
--Water Ghosts has been published in New Zealand/Australia by Pier 9, and in Israel by Modan. The reception has been kind, but I am curious about the connection readers may feel to a story set so far away in time and place.

Originally Water Ghosts was published as Locke 1928. What is the significance of the novel's name change?
--Locke 1928 referred to the name of the town where the story is set--Locke. But outside of Northern California, Locke is not that well known. The new title--which came when Penguin picked it up from the original small press--reflects a different aspect of the book--the more supernatural elements--the water ghosts.

The way you wrote Water Ghosts is different than any book I have ever read. Why did you choose to write the character conversations without using the usual quotation marks? Was this a form of creativity? Or something else?
--The style of the book is very moody--a lot of the scene transitions follow an emotional logic. I thought this would help the reader feel more intimate with the characters. To go along with that, I didn't use quotation marks in dialogue because it gives a quieter feel to the words, like the characters are whispering in your ear. At least I hope! But rest assured, my next book definitely uses quotation marks!




The brief glimpses into homosexuality with both male and female characters; was this from the Asian culture point-of-view, author view, or a personal one?
--That's an interesting question. I was reacting in part to what I felt was the pigeon-holing of non-white ethnic writers, which I read as being: "If you are a person of color, you must write about color!" I wanted to show the complexity of my characters beyond race and culture, so I also touched on sexuality. I also think you can't write about the immigration laws, which were so sex-focused, and the old Chinese bachelor communities without writing about sex.

What was the importance for you on the tales you included into this story?
--Fairy tales from any culture are so fascinating in that they really offer a window into cultural values. So I included some of the Chinese ghost stories--but I also included them to underline the ghost story I was trying to tell, and just because I found them fun.

In clarification the "ghosts" in the story, were they of a mental of physical presence.
--Ooh! I'll have to leave that up to the reader to decide! ;)

Priscilla Cummings Interview

What made you want to write a novel about blind adolescents, Blindsided?
I was invited to speak at The Maryland School for the Blind some years ago and was so impressed by the teenagers, especially. I was surprised because many of them were just regular teens with a great sense of humor despite their situation. Also, before I left, a student gave me a poem he had written about being blind. Driving home that day, I vowed I would return to do a story about those kids.

You've written both children and young adult novels. Have you thought of expanding to adult novels?
I’ve thought about it, sure. I have written short stories for adults. But I’m quite happy writing for young adults these days. I had a bad middle school experience so maybe part of my psyche is stuck there . . .

On your website, your author info speaks of keeping a diary and having over twenty pen pals. Was that where your love for writing began? Or was that just a growth of it?
I have always loved reading and writing stories, from the time I was four and five years old. I was one of those kids stapling paper together to make a little book then drawing pictures and scribbling out the words I didn’t yet know how to write to tell my stories.

Both you and I have cats named Romeo! That's a cool coincidence. Animals must be a huge inspiration for your novels?
Oh, my gosh, I love animals. I grew up on a farm and had many, many pets growing up including my beloved palomino, Goldenboy. These days I have a chocolate lab named Sophie and two cats, Shoog and Romeo,both of whom actually belong to my daughter who is away at college. While she’s gone they’re mine, all mine, and sometimes I call Romeo, Mr. Romeow. He is a Maine Coon cat and quite the lover.

With writers as parents, do your children enjoy writing as much as the rest of the family does?
No, they don’t. But they have other talents.

When writer's block hits, how do you overcome it?
First, I try to just write something – anything – and hope that gets me started. If that fails, then I turn off the computer and read for a couple days. I find that reading unlocks my own creativity.

As you work on your stories do you chose the pen & paper method, typewriter, or pc?
Computer




Your novel What Mr. Mattero Did has a very serious subject matter. Was this written for a fictional education, or a different reason?
The story was inspired by an unfortunate situation in Maryland some years ago. While accusations, such as the ones made by the seventh grade girls in my story, must always be taken seriously, I wanted to write a story that showed both sides of the issue. What happens when a middle schooler makes up a story about a teacher? And what happens to that teacher and his or her family?

Before Blindsided, you spent many months with blind people (teenagers and adults). What did you learn the most from that experience?
I learned so much in those months when I was visiting the Maryland School for the Blind that I don’t think I could ever point to just one thing. But for sure, I discovered that many of those young people are just kids who happen to have a vision problem. They don’t want to be different. They don’t want to be treated different. They just want a life -- a job, a boyfriend or girlfriend, a place of their own. They want to be happy.

With Blindsided being written about blind people, was the novel published in Braille as well, for the people in reality who could most enjoy it?
The novel is currently being made into Braille by both the state of Maryland and The Library of Congress’ National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

Tim Lebbon Interview

1) You have quite a collection of works published. Which one was the hardest to get published? The easiest?
Nothing's easy to get published. I guess I'm pretty lucky now in that most of what I write is to commission, but I still get rejections, and am still delighted whenever I receive an acceptance for something.

2) What was is like for you when you got your first book to film deal?
First time I had something optioned I thought, 'This is it, buy a house and a car and never have to worry again!' I've now gone through about fifteen options, and have quickly learnt that it's just the first step in a long process. There's always a chance that something optioned will make it to the screen, but the chance is usually small, and there are any number of obstacles in the way.

There are several film projects that are now looking more and more likely to be made, but I prefer not to say too much until they hit the screen!


3) You have an upcoming series of novels with Christopher Golden, The Secret Journeys of Jack London. Can you tell us more on them?
We're retelling Jack London's most famous works with him as the main character, and with the supernatural as a big part of the story ... the set-up is that he lived through these tales, but they were so challenging and traumatising that he could not face writing them as biography. So he changed details, and wrote them as fiction, and we're telling his Secret Journeys. We're just about to deliver Book 2, and we're having a huge amount of fun. Fox have acquired the movie rights, and Chris and I have been hired to write the screenplay.


4) As a big fan of Twilight, that I am, I found the picture on your site hysterical. Who knew bestiality and necrophilia could be so popular?
Don't knock it til you've tried it.

5) As you write, do you work on one piece at a time or multiple novels?
Usually I'm working on a novel of my own, a collaboration with Chris Golden, and proposals for future novels or screenplays. I've always got several projects at various stages, and - depending on deadlines - I'm able to drop onto a screenplay if I'm having a bit of trouble with a novel, or vice versa. I like being busy.




6) Who are your favorite horror/fantasy authors?
Wow, what a question. King, Simmons, Machen, Blackwood, Hodgson, Lansdale, Straub, Connolly, Golden, Banks, Clarke, Erikson, Carroll, Barker, Smith, Chadbourn, and a thousand others.

7) Can you remember your first horror movie?
It was a TV show actually, Beasts by Nigel Kneale. The episode was called Baby, and was utterly terrifying.

8) Are you reading any novels currently?
The Ocean Dark by Jack Rogan. A great supernatural thriller debut ... he's going to be huge.



9) What do you think makes so many people interested in horror? Sense of thrill? Sheer curiousity?
Fascination with the dark side, death, bad things. Escapism. A good story.

10) What three things do you need while you write?
Solitude, music, coffee.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Vampire Stalker by Alison Van Diepen

"Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction."

Amy is in love with Alexander Banks, a brooding handsome vampire hunter. There's just one problem: He doesn't exist. Alexander is the hero of a series of popular novels, and Amy has breathlessly followed all his fictional adventures.
Then, late one night, fiction becomes reality.
Amy meets a boy who bears an eerie resemblance to Alexander Banks. In fact, he is Alexander, come to life from the pages of her book. And he's in hot pursuit of Vigo, the ruthless vampire who has croassed over into Amy's city. As Amy struggles to unravel the mystery behind Alexander
srrival, she must help him track down Vigo before too msny lives are at risk. But attraction, danger, and dark secrets collide, leaving Amy to wonder if the greatest thing at stake ...is her heart.





Firstly I would like to thank my friend Mandee at Scholastic for providing me with the future catalog of novels, without it I would have never been able to ask her for this book to review. Within a very quick and short amount of time for my original inquiry, The Vampire Stalker arrived along with 11 other ARC's.

I was originally drawn to this novel because of the vampire fiction. It wasn't until I actually received the book did I find that the author is also a teacher. So not only can I relate to the teacher aspect, but also the language arts as well.

I was captivated immediately from the beginning. It encouraged the reader to go on further than chapter one. This story had the interesting concept of a book- in a book. Amy, the lead female character, reads a series of books that essentially comes to life. She goes from being engrossed into the story she reads to actually being a part of the story! A past era of Chicago is ruled by vampires in the story Amy reads. When that story comes to life she fights for her own survival with the aid of her handsome and charming hero from her novel, Alexander.

I was a bit...meh...shocked...um...what's the word? Well...anyways Mrs. P's character reminded me SO much of Giles (No need to include who he is since everyone in the vampire fiction knows.) but maybe a more mild version? There was one scene that I found to be one of the most intense of the novel and that was during the Club Teen Scene- scene. This was the point of the story I felt that caused that much needed climax to not only keep the reader's attention but also keep them on the edge of their seat in anticipation.

During Chapter 19 the introduction was so thoroughly predictable but that I began to get frustrated with the book. However just as my anger began to bubble it quickly subsided when the author remedied the situations she was writing about. This my friends is what a true book should be. A book that causes anticipation. A book that causes eagerness. A book that causes anger, hostility and frustration. A book that causes deep emotions, because really; who wants to read a book that provokes no emotions?

Favorite Quotes:
"How sad that I feel more of a connection to a fictional character than to a guy in real life." - Amy

"Now that I know what it is to love, I won't feel my life has been wasted." - Alexander


"There is violence in a vampire's blood...I believe that we are capable of evolution, but it will take time. It would be a mistake to forget our nature." - I forget who this was. I think it was Hannah who said this ??

Monday, June 27, 2011

Jess Haines Giveaway July 15, 2011

Dearest Vampires and Vampirettes,
On July 15, 2011 the talented Jess Haines will be posting a guest blog on here. On behalf of her and myself I want to run a giveaway of her upcoming(new) novel, Deceived by the Others. The rules are simple. See below. :)




The rules:
1.) Become a follower on this blog. That means you need to make an official FOLLOWER account with an ACTIVE username (and not just one that says anonymous).

2.) Become a Fan of Steven's Cybrary on Facebook, and also send me a private message to my inbox on the FACEBOOK fan page with your name, email and ACTIVE Steven's Cybrary FOLLOWER username. This will ensure that I can contact the winner!

Then on July 16, I will select a random name from a hat, every Follower will be entered, unless your name is ANONYMOUS. The winner chosen will then be posted on both the Steven's Cybrary blog & Steven's Cybrary fan page on Facebook. Good luck and don't forget to thank Jess Haines for this inspiration!
xoxo

Steven's Cybrary Facebook Fan Page:
http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=1785958316

Jess Haines Websites:
www.jesshaines.com

Friday, June 24, 2011

Jess Haines Guest Blog Day!

Hey Followers! Well July 15 will be an exciting day. I will be having an exceptional author, Jess Haines, as a guest blogger on here! I am excited to see what she has to say. You may remember her from the previous review I did for her novel, Hunted By The Others. Jess & her assistant Binah will be sending me Taken By The Others (In stores now), Deceived By The Others (July 5 in stores)and The Real Werewives of Vampire County (In stores Oct 2011). I will be hosting a Jess Haines giveaway as well. I will be giving away Hunted by the Others, Taken by the Others and Decieved by the Others to three lucky individuals. I will make a seperate post for the giveaway information. For now, you can view Jess's website at

www.jesshaines.com

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bound By Night by Amanda Ashley

Bound By Night

A VAMPIRE'S KISS IS FOREVER

Once featured in a horror movie, the crumbling Wolfram estate is said to be haunted by ghosts, witches, and worse. But Elena doesn't believe a word of it-- until she spends the night and wakes up in the arms of a compelling stranger...

Tall, dark, and disturbingly handsome, Drake is the most beautiful man Elena has ever seen. For centuries, he has lived alone, and Elena is the first woman to enter his lair-- and survive. And Drake is the first man to touch her heart and soul. By the time she discovers who he really is-- and what he craves-- it's too late. Blood lust has turned to love, and Elena is deeply under Drake's spell. But forever comes at a price for each of them...





I was contacted by Mandy to do this review for her. I couldn't have been more happier than to do another Amanda Ashley review since it's been awhile from the last one I've done. Mandy sent me an autographed ARC of Bound by Night, autographed bookmarks & book covers of Bound by Night & Bound by Blood. It was an extreme honor as always that she took the time to think of me, a lonely blogger in his hectic schooling. This was a welcomed relief from studies...

So this is my fifth book review for Amanda Ashley. While this wasn't my favorite, my favorite being A Darker Dream, it was at the top of the books I've done for her that has held me so emotionally rapt. Many of the happenings in this novel were so realistic that I couldn't help feeling the full spectrum of emotions carried throughout the novel.

As I have said before in my previous posts, I always write down my notes as I read the book so I can reflect when I finish it. This novel had one and one half a page worth of notes. At some point close to the end of the novel my first page mysteriously disappeared. I cleaned my entire bedroom in seek of this one piece of paper. Much to no avail I never did find it.

One thing that stood out for me with this book is the new vampire lore features Mandy included. One of those features is sheep and I don't mean the cute little farm animals. I mean the human kind that vampires would "farm" in order of maintaining their appetite for blood. I have never read or seen of this in any other vampire movie or book, and trust me I've been through enough! The other feature is that of the aging process of humans living off of vampire blood. It's sort of like a vampiric blood "Fountain of Glory."

Another thing that I immediately picked up on was the use of the names Elena and Cullin. I know that Mandy is a hard-core fan of both Twilight & The Vampire Diaries. I am wondering if Elena wasn't inspired by The Vampire Diaries, and Cullin (different spelling) from Twilight? Or is it just merely a coincidence?!

I found it extremely hard to not jump ahead and find out what happened. Although what I didn't find hard was just how much I despised Tavian Dinescu's character. In all of the books read for Mandy, I have never had a monster mortal or immortal in them that has caused me such intense disgust for. I found myself way more aggravated and upset with a fictional character than I ever have been in any reading from any author to date.

In chapter 20 I did begin to become frustrated with the events going on. I think they could have been played out drastically different, then again I am not Amanda and these are not my characters. On page 193 I was a little confused at how one character was said to be reading books but then it went on to say movies with no mention of movies prior to that? I think this is possibly an editing error, or I am simply not understanding how the author was trying to state this specific scene?!

If it weren't my prior knowledge to knowing how Mandy writes her books I would have been extremely upset, as a potential new reader, on how the novel ended. Thankfully for me, I can appreciate the way that Mandy doesn't do sequels, more like spin-offs. With that being said, I anticipate Bound By Night being in stores for sale in September 2011 for Mandy. I also can't wait for Kaitlyn's story that will be in stores October 4, 2011, the title Bound By Blood.

Thank you once again Mandy for the pleasure of these gifts, this review, your continued friendship and support. Best wishes and all my love.

xoxo

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Upcoming ARC's

Hey guys! I wanted to give you another wonderful update. Mandee a lovely person at Scholastic publishers has forwarded (Is that even a word?) my request for The Wolves of Mercy Falls: Forever - Maggie Stiefvater. She informed me they will be shipping the ARC's out very soon. I am crossing my fingers that my name is on the list. I am so excited to finish the trilogy. I absolutely adored Shiver & Linger.

She also sent me a link to their online catalog of upcoming novels for the summer. This is a list of the items I sent to request for reviews:

Goosebumps: Hall of Horrors #1- Claws!
Goosebumps: Hall of Horrors #2- Night of the Giant Everything
Goosebumps: Hall of Horrors #3- The Five Masks of Dr. Screem
Goosebumps: Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes
Goosebumps: Phantom of the Auditorium
Goosebumps: Vampire Breath (All Goosebumps by R.L. Stine)

Animorphs: The Invasion -- K.A. Applegate
Animorphs: Visitor -- K.A. Applegate
Animorphs: The Encounter -- K.A. Applegate

Star Wars: Head to Head Tag Teams -- Pablo Hidaldo

Ravenwood -- Andrew Fusek Peters

The Vampire's Promise -- Caroline B. Cooney

The Vampire Stalker -- Allison Van Diepen

xoxo

Joe McKinney Interview

Last year I contacted Joe regarding his novel, Dead City. Horror is my favorite genre we all know this. Although vampire fiction holds my heart (pun intended) Joe's zombie novel was so compelling I couldn't resist the urge to do a review. Thankfully he obliged and actually sent me another novel as well with a compilation of zombie short stories, Dead Set. He has also submitted to my intense gruelling interview (LOL!).

You have co-written with another author? What are your thoughts on that?

That’s right, I co-wrote my upcoming novel, LOST GIRL OF THE LAKE, with Michael McCarty, and I had a great time with it. The project developed out of a coming of age story I wrote a few years back. When the first draft was done, I had about 80 pages of pretty good horror…but something was missing. I’d read through it, try to fix it, but it just never came out right. By the time I was fed up with messing with it, I had 120 pages of a story that just didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Around the same time I started corresponding with Michael McCarty. I knew Michael had collaborated on a number of projects with other writers, and so I asked him if he’d like to take a look at LOST GIRL. As it turned out, he was between projects, and agreed. He came back to me with a great angle on the story, and I realized that he had hit on that certain thing that had been eluding me about the story. We started trading the manuscript back and forth. Next thing you know, we had a really great take on the coming of age story…and a full-sized novel. We sent it off to Bad Moon Books, and they loved it. Michael and I are currently working on another collaborative project, this one about meth zombies in the abandoned Midwest of near future America.

Do you feel working as a homicide detective was a direct influence to your sci-fi and horror writtings?

Absolutely. I think every horror writer is going to need the police sooner or later. I mean, you can’t have a barn full of dead people without the police showing up, you know? So being a cop has given me a great deal of confidence to handle those types of scenes in my writing. And of course a general knowledge of police procedure is valuable in a number of other ways too. But more to the point of your question, I think being a cop has given my writing a thematic focus. You see, most supernatural horror is intensely private. That means that whatever supernatural thing is going on usually happens to only one person, or at a minimum to a small group of people, within the world of the story. That tight focus is necessary to create the tension on which horror feeds. Cops, by their very nature, are public agents. When a cop describes an incident in a report, that incident takes on a public personality. It becomes a matter of public record, available to all through the Freedom of Information Act. It gains credibility, in other words. The cops’ role in horror fiction has always been strained as a result. Think back on all the horror books you’ve read. Nearly all of them have to bring in the police at some point, and then figure out how to get rid of them because making the incident that is at the heart of their horror story a matter public would make it a little more ordinary, and therefore less scary. What I bring to horror is a dose of reality when it comes to police procedure, and hopefully a new take on how to use the cop’s official function in our society as a third column in fiction.

Did the author aspect of your life come about as a hobby? Or did you just want to pursue a new endeavor?

Like a lot of writers, I started writing fairly young. I think I was in my early teens, probably around 12 or 13. I used to write stories on loose leaf notebook paper, staple them together, and leave them on the corner of my desk for a week or two before throwing them away. I never really thought about writing as something I could do for a living. It was always just a hobby. Being a cop, that was my career.

And then, a few years back, my oldest daughter was born. I remember feeling this panicked need to freeze time, to capture who I was at that moment. I don’t know if any of the parents out there can relate to that, but for me, looking in on my new daughter in the nursery, my mind reeling from all the new responsibilities I was under, I felt like I had to express once and for all who I was at that moment in time.

I got lucky enough to sell my first novel to a major New York publisher. After that, the little hobby that I used to do whenever the mood struck me became the job that I did every chance I got.


You have quite a collection of novels, novellas, and short stories. Which of those do you find come easier to write about?

Well, I don’t know if any one of those genres come easier than any other. At least, not for me. Though I can tell you that my favorite form to write is the novella, or short novel. I am really comfortable in the 10,000 to 30,000 word range. It gives you enough space to fully develop a concept without sacrificing the pace and immediacy of a short story. Looking back on my personal favorites from my writing I see that most of them are novellas.

Between your detective career and personal life how do you manage to set aside time to make so many of your author accomplishments possible?

I’m pretty organized when it comes to my writing. I usually write for about an hour in the morning, before the rest of my family wakes up, and then for another two hours after everyone has gone to bed. When it actually comes time to sit down at the computer to write, I almost always have an outline in front of me. Outlining, I’ve found, is the writer’s best friend. It gives you ability to see the whole story first before you start carving away at it. I’ve tried writing without an outline, but to me, it always feels like I’m stumbling around in the dark…which is cool for characters, not so much for writers.

Your first book, Dead City, you're turning into a series. Why did you chose to further its story?

The Lord of the Rings was about the only series I ever enjoyed reading. The overall storylines of most series, generally speaking, tend to be clumsy in their construction. Reading them, you can’t help but wonder how much of the work was stretched for the money. I didn’t want to do that with my writing career. I didn’t want to be that guy.

Still, as a writer, you invest a lot of mental energy in writing a novel. You spend all this time creating a world, creating histories for your characters, you put your heart and soul into it. That happened to me with Dead City. At the end of it, I realized I had suggested a lot of things that were going on outside of the main plot. The City of Houston was underwater. A quarantine wall had been erected along most of the Gulf Coast. The global economy was ruined. So it occurred to me that I could make a series of the book, and still avoid the pitfalls other series have fallen into. I set out to write books that forwarded the overall scenario to its logical consequences, but I would do it by following separate characters in each book. That way, it would be possible for readers to pick up any one of the books in the Dead City series without feeling like they’d come in halfway through the movie. The books can be read in any order, and while they make reference to each other, one is not dependant on the others in any way. The next book, called Apocalypse of the Dead, comes out in November.


Recently you began editing a few short story anthologies. Was that of your own pursuit? If so why?

My first editing job literally fell into my lap. I had published a short story in an anthology called Nights of Blood 2 through 23 House Publishing. I’ve always believed in the power of a handwritten thank you note, so when the book came out, I sent a note to Mitchel Whitington, the publisher, thanking him for letting me be in the anthology. That turned into a running email conversation, and before you know it, he’d talked me into co-editing Dead Set with Michelle McCrary. It was a great experience.

Mitchel and I kept trading emails after that, and that’s how we discovered that we both loved exploring abandoned buildings. For a long while I’d been talking with another friend of mine named Mark Onspaugh about editing an anthology of horror stories set in abandoned buildings, and the time seemed right for the book to finally take shape. We went to Mitchel, and he loved it. So, right now, Mark and I developing a project called The Forsaken, about how abandoned buildings got to be the way they are. The Forsaken is a little different than Dead Set, though, in that this one is invitation only. We’ve managed to get quite an impressive group of writers together, including Piers Anthony, Norman Prentiss, David Liss, and many others. I’m really excited about this project, which should drop in stores in April, 2011.


Is it harder to write on criminal vs horror, considering conflictions of work protocols?

Right before my first novel came out I was approached by an Internal Affairs sergeant who had some concerns about what I was writing. Was I compromising any police tactics or procedures, he asked. “Well,” I said, “my novel is about a zombie apocalypse, so if you anticipate us having one of those any time soon, then yeah, I guess we’re going to have a problem.” I trailed off with a shrug. “Otherwise…”

Of course I was just having fun with him. He knew that. But we both got the point, I think. You see, my department has some very specific rules about writing for publication. They don’t want officers compromising tactics and procedures, sure, but just as importantly, they don’t want officers writing about open cases or cases they have worked on in the past.

So why is that? Well, there is a public trust involved. Imagine a sexual assault victim finally working up the courage to go in to police headquarters and tell her story to a detective. She bares her story, one of violation and shame and bottomless anger, to this total stranger, trusting that he’s serious about the oath he took to be professional, confidential and honest. But then, the next thing she knows, she reads some salacious version of her story in a magazine or a crime novel.

That’s unacceptable, right? Sure, we can all agree on that. And that’s why I’ve always been careful to respect that confidentiality in my fiction. I have never, nor will I ever, write about real life cases in which I have personally taken part. You might think that horror fiction would be easier for me to write as a result, but the truth is that I can do both without overstepping the public trust I’ve been given as a police officer.
Still, I’m reminded of that line from THE HOBBIT that describes how way leads onto way. Even though I never use real life incidents for my fiction, I don’t ever hesitate to let reality carry me off on plot ideas. I imagine it’s the same for musicians. They may hear something and their mind starts riffing off of that, and before you know it, they’ve got a whole new song…and only the guy who wrote it will be able to recognize the seed from which that new song grew. Writing fiction is that way too.


You say that you read as much pulp fiction as you can. What it is about this genre that interests you so much?

Well, it’s all about that sense of wonder you get when delving into a really great story. I know I’ve found a good one when I catch myself leaning forward over a book or magazine, totally caught up in the characters and the story’s premise and the way the story is told. I don’t find that perfect marriage of circumstances coming together often enough, but I’ve found it more in the pulps than I have elsewhere.

Or, if you’ll let me continue the musical theme from my last answer, you could look at like the difference between a polished, professionally produced Broadway musical and an underground punk rock concert. I mean, Les Miserables is cool and all, but seeing The Clash in some smoky London nightclub is something else entirely. That’s why I like pulp fiction so much. I like the rough edges, the writers whose reach many times goes farther than their grasp. I like Chekhov and James and Virginia Wolff, sure, but give me giant city-destroying worms and battling spaceships and zombies crawling up from the grave any day. That’s where my heart is.

Can you tell us more about the charity anthology, Dead Set. Regarding reader's purchase, details, etc?

There are a ton of zombie anthologies on the market right now. Some of them are quite good. Most, however, are not. So, when the folks at 23 House asked me if I’d be interested in editing a zombie anthology, I was hesitant. I didn’t want to dump more crap into an already overly crappy field.

But 23 House Publishing is a really great outfit. They do primarily regional nonfiction titles, which means books about East Texas. However, they also put out one horror anthology a year and donate the profits to charity. That impressed me. Service has always been a big part of my life, and before I knew it, I found myself agreeing to co-edit the book with Michelle McCrary, who, in addition to being a fine writer in her right, is also the coordinator for the Shreveport Food Bank. Working together, we came up with a great lineup. Here’s the table of contents:

“Resurgam” by Lisa Mannetti
“Jailbreak” by Steven W. Booth and Harry Shannon
“Recess” by Rob Fox
“Biting the Hand that Feeds You” by Calie Voorhis
“Judgment” by Stephanie Kincaid
“Hatfield the Usurper” by Matthew Louis
“Ruminations from Tri-Omega House” by David Dunwoody
“Zombies on a Plane” by Bev Vincent
“Category Five” by Richard Jeter
“Survivors” by Joe McKinney
“Pierre & Remy Hatch a Plan” by Michelle McCrary
“Recovery” by Boyd E. Harris
“In the Middle of Poplar Street” by Nate Southard
“Seminar Z” by J.L. Comeau
“Only Nibble” by Bob Nailor
“Inside Where It’s Warm” by Lee Thomas
“Survivor Talk” by Mitchel Whitington
“The Zombie Whisperer” by Steven E. Wedel
“Good Neighbor Sam” by Mark Onspaugh
“That Which Survives” by Morgan Ashe

The stories span a considerable range of subject matter and emotions, and I think it’s a valuable contribution to zombie genre. Readers can find the book at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and through 23 House Publishing’s website. Profits go to the Make a Wish Foundation.


It's interviews like this that make me smile! I love when author's can take a simple one sentence question and write a few paragraphed response to. That is what makes a true writer and an experienced author. Thanks again Joe for allowing me to do the review for Dead City, the gift of Dead Set, and this zombielicious interview.
xoxo

Erin Bow Interview

Hey guys! Here is an interview with Erin Bow author of Plain Kate. I had the pleasure of doing a review on Plain Kate last year. If you haven't read the novel, get to your local bookstore/library now!

You're an American, but now a Canadian citizen. So where did the Russian background come into play for Plain Kate?

The short answer is I read this three-volume set of Russian Fairy tales just before I started the book. The longer answer is that I've long been a Russophile -- I have great swaths of Pushkin memorized, for instance. I'm not Russian by background, but I feel in love with the poet Anna Ahkmatova in high school and have been reading the Russians ever since.

But the fairy tales -- they blew me away. They have a dark, rough magic, less familiar than the Grimm tales, less cosy. I love their strangeness, and I hope some of their ancient freshness and their magic came through in my KATE.


Both you and your husband are writers. There must be a lot of creativity in that house?!

There are a lot of books in the house, anyway: several thousand. And usually a lot of paper. And some times -- two writers, no day job -- not a lot of money, which can be hard.

But I love being married to another writer. We talk about writing; we read each other's work; we support each other unconditionally and without competition. It can be a lonely, insular, weird thing, writing, and while there's no avoiding that, it's at least good to have someone to be lonely and insular and weird with.


Poetry appears to be easier to write than a novel, in my experience. Which do you find happens with you?

Well, a poem is (say) 50 words, and a novel is upward of 50,000. Would you believe me if I said that the 50 words are harder?

Each word in a poem is harder, anyway. Writing a poem is like writing a spell; it has to be perfect; it has to be organic; it has to seem effortless. And you have to start again every time you want a new poem.

A novel can be banged together more roughly -- you can sketch stuff in and come back to it later. And you can carry the world in your head; you don't have to make a new one every single day. But of course a novel much longer, and there's the whole issue of plot -- getting the story right. That's the level on which it the spell has to work, and a spell of that size and power is incredibly hard.


Your poetry has been given a CBC Canadian Literary Award. Do you have any in mind you would like acheived for your novel?

Well, sure! I'll take a Printz, please! Or how about a Newbery? Or a (Canadian) Governor General's?

Seriously, I feel as if I've already won the lottery with landing Arthur Levine as PLAIN KATE'S editor. He's a genius; the people at Scholastic are wonderful -- I couldn't be happier, and I want nothing more.


What book (s) are you currently reading?

Just at this second I'm reading Magic Thief: Found, by Sarah Prineas. It's the third book in the Magic Thief series. These are so much fun. As a writer admire what Sarah's pulled off, too. Her narrator Conn feels things so strongly -- and never ever talks about that. The smallest reaction from him hits you hard. There was a point in book two where he stuttered a little and my heart was just broken -- I am going to study these until I figure out how the author did that.

I'm also reading a book of Mayan and Aztec folklore, and a book of poetry by Lawrence Raab.


Have you ever thought of incorporating your phsyics studies into any kind of poetry or novels?

I did study physics, and spent some time at CERN, the supercollider near Geneva. The publicity people always make much of this, and I guess it is out-of-the-common as writers' educations go. But it doesn't seem strange to me: it's just a different way of playing close attention -- as poets do -- and telling stories to make sense of the world -- as novelists do.

But a CERN-like setting or a physicist protagonist seem a little unlikely right now. At the moment my controlling obsessions as a writer are memory, regret, and second chances, which seems to mean that I write ghost stories. There might be something at the intersection of ghosts and physics, but I haven't found it yet.


What are your thoughts on books turned into movies?

Depends on the book and the movie.If the director is smart enough to know the interior experiences that words can give need to be changed into something we can, you know, see -- then the movie can be wonderful. I'd rather see movies that make these changes, like the recent Lord of the Rings films, than ones that are faithful and literal and lifeless, like the first two Harry Potter movies.

Can you recall your first written piece?

According to family legend, I've been writing since I had to dictate stuff. My earliest surviving work is a song called "No Dogs Allowed in the Grocery Store," to the tune of "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho," written when I was three. I will leave you to imagine what a masterpiece it is.

How did you come up with the title of The Mongoose Diaries

The Mongoose Diaries is a memoir of my first year as a mom. Mongoose was -- still is -- my daughter's nickname: she is a skinny sharp-nosed bright-eyed meerkat of a person, ferocious and fast-moving and terrifyingly smart. And since I drew the book out of my diary, it does seem like a natural title.

That said, I didn't come up with it myself. Possibly by that stage my brain had shut down with mom fatigue, because I had no idea what the book should be called. I took suggestions on my blog, and my mother-in-law named it.


What was your Book Expo experience like this year?

Exhilarating. Exhausting. Stunning. For starters, Scholastic sent a stretch limo to the train station for my family and me. I'm trying hard not to minimize my work as a poet, but do you know one thing poets never get? Limos. My four-year-old Fancy-Nancy daughter was in heaven.

Arthur Levine got up in front of a huge ballroom full of people and compared my book to others he'd worked on: Harry Potter, the Golden Compass. He said Kate was "eternal." I almost fainted. And the next day I read in front of another huge crowd, and signed so many books that I lost the trick of my signature and had to start printing. Then I started to misspell "Erin."

In short, KATE really stepped out in New York. I was thrilled. And, as a natural introvert, I don't think I've yet recovered.

Thanks once again Erin. I really enjoyed this interview with you. Congratulations on your sucess.
xoxo

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon

They say you can see things here, at the end of the world. Faces in the clouds and waves and leaves. Branches becoming arms and then branches again.

But there it was a flash of white.
Margrethe blinked repeatedly, and the sea air seemed to cut through her.
She wiped tears from her eyes and cheeks and leaned into the wind. The sea
seemed to shift from foam to water, from dark to light, swirling. In the distance,
rocks jutted. It would be easy to mistake one for the monstrous fin of a great fish, the prow of a ship sinking down.
And then: a curving, gleaming tail flaring out of the water. A moment
later, another flash and a pale face emerging, disappearing as quickly as it had
appeared. A woman's face. The tail of a fish stretching out behind her. Silvery,
as if it were made of gems...
Mermaid. The name came to Margrethe automatically, from the stories that had rooted themselves in her mind, the ancient tales she had read by firelight as the rest of the castle had slept.
She no longer felt the wind or the cold as she stood transfixed, watching
the mermaid move through the water. Margrethe had not known such things
could really exist, but the moment she saw the mermaid, it was as if the world
had always contained this kind of wonder...
As the mermaid approached the shore, Margrethe saw that she was carrying
something. A man.





So this just happens to be the third review I have done for Carolyn. I knew in 2010 this book was in route to being published. As with the two previous novels, I most certainly wanted to read it. Thankfully Carolyn offered to send it to me before I had to beg for it. LOL!

Carolyn Turgeon is like Calgon...take me away! From page one until page 240 her words develop such vivid imagery of the scene she writes about. In this novel it features the classic tale of "The Little Mermaid" by Hans Christian Andersen, only with the author's up-to-date adaptation. There are two princesses: Margrethe the human, and Lenia/Astrid the mermaid princess. The story is told from both of their perspectives alternating by each princess per chapter, essentially this is almost like two books in one.

There was a section that was purely poetic to me, some may think in a morbid way. The portion I am speaking of talks about a comparison of human and mermaid death; with humans we rot and with mermaids they turn to foam. This was so beautifully written and phrased that Carolyn can even make death sound pleasant.

Unlike the Disney, way too cheer-y version, this take is definitely nowhere near that. In this version the sea witch is not some psycho lunatic mad woman under the sea. She actually has a very sad back story. I think this is one of the huge differences that made a significant impact upon this story. While on this topic, I felt that Lenia's character gave a more realistic offering for the spell of her transformation from mermaid to human. It was drastically more gothic than that of any other mermaid tale, yet it provided

Mermaid is a fairy tale book of melodic metaphors. When Lenia/Astrid saw Christopher again the lack of her ability to speak causes such a depth of sadness for the reader. Before I began reading Ch. 16 I went to check my email on Yahoo. As soon as I logged on I quickly seen an article about a mermaid book becoming a movie. I knew just what book this was for! I couldn't help but get excited for both the book and Carolyn.

During Chapter 16 I began to get so overwhelmed with frustration with the play of events. I expected one thing but got another. This was further expanded into Chapter 23. During that chapter there was a whirlpool of emotional events with the three main characters: Margrethe, Lenia/Astrid and Christopher. Upon reaching the ending of the novel I was even more frustrated with the ending. Society has turned fairy tales into splendid, glorious tales of happiness. Although I wasn't happy with the ended, the story ended just as it should have. It is a welcoming feeling to know that Carolyn has brought back a true and authentic adaptation of such a classic fairy tale...or in this case fairy tail!

Favorite quotes:
"No one could be whole in a universe so divided."

"Go and you will see nothing is as wonderful as our dreams can make it."

"How many of us can choose to leave one self, one world behind and embrace another, better one?"

"So much pain and euphoria, a sense that, even though her own heart was broken the world could contain such beauty and magic she almost could not bear it."

"I believed in beauty, in magic, because of you..."

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephanie Meyer

BREE TANNER CAN BARELY REMEMBER LIFE
before she had uncannily powerful senses,
superhuman reflexes, and unstoppable physical
strength. Life before she had a relentless thirst
for blood...life before she became a vampire.

ALL BREE KNOWS IS THAT LIVING WITH HER
fellow newborns has few certainties and even
fewer rules: watch your back, don't draw
attention to yourself, and above all, make it
home by sunrise or die. What she doesn't know:
her time as an immortal is quickly running out.

THEN BREE FINDS AN UNEXPECTED FRIEND
in Diego, a newborn just as curious as Bree
about their new creator, whom they
know only as her. As they come to realize that
the newborns are pawns in a game larger than
anything they could have imagined, Bree and
Diego must choose sides and decide whom to
trust. But when everything you know about
vampires is based on a lie, how do you find
the truth?

IN ANOTHER IRRESISTIBLE COMBINATION
of danger, mystery, and romance, Stephenie
Meyer tells the devastating story of the newborn
army as they prepare to close in on Bella Swan
and the Cullens, following their encounter to
its unforgettable conclusion.





Ever since this book was released I would go to the store in attempts of buying it. Money was never the issue. I was more concerned with the effects of my opinions on it changing how I felt about the Twilight Saga. This past Christmas the choice was made for me. My aunt had bought the book for me as a present. That day I read the entire story.

I was happy to return to the Twilight story but focusing on a different character, a different story and even a different perspective. I really enjoyed Stephanies enlightening foreword on her reasoning to include Bree's story in the saga.

During the Eclipse novel and more notably for those who don't bother reading books, the movie, Bree was portrayed as barely even a character to remember. She was also displayed as a weak and timid newly turned vampire. I believe if anyone were to read this book you would quickly change your mind.

I thought it was interesting how the book is layed out with no chapters. This definitely made it more clear how Meyer's didn't want Bree's life thought of as pro-longed but brief, and short like the title states.

Diego, another vampire character, who I don't remember from the books or movies is an addition to the cast of top characters, in my opinion. I think that Fred has the potential for another spin-off story featuring the Volturi.

Overall this added story was written in a new way that the previous Twilight saga was. I also find it comforting to know that she included certain parts from the previous four books to preserve pertinent scenes but specifically planted in Bree's story from her perspective. It's amazing how perspective can play a significant role on how a story evolves or can even change.

Down Among The Dead Men by Robert Gregory Browne

IN THE HOUSE OF DEATH

The newspapers called it Casa de la Muerta, a grisly house of horrors in the Mexican desert where five Catholic nuns were brutally murdered. Freelance journalist Nick Vargas knows it's a terrific subject for a true crime book-and a chance to revitalize his ruined career. But when he arrives at the scene, he learns there may have been a sixth victim: an American woman whose body has disappeared. Now Nick is dead set on finding her...

IN THE SHADOW OF EVIL

L.A. prosecutor Beth Crawford thought it would be fun to join her sister on a cruise to Baja Norte. But when she meets a pair of seductive strangers onboard-Beth follows her suspicions into a sinister world of crime, corruption, and dark superstition. Now, with the help of reporter Nick Vargas, Beth must enter the heart of evil itself, where all shall be revealed...on the Day of the Dead.





This is another ARC that I had requested last year. This is definitely not the typical genre of books I enjoy. However something about this story captivated my attention. The prologue was one that held my attention and catapulted me to continue further reading. This novel's chapters were one of such easy reading that they were actually much shorter than most I've ever. It was an adrenaline ride between Vargas' story & Beth's. I was intrigued on how they would eventually be correlated.

Beth's side of the story is like a tug-of-war with Jen, while Vargas' is more...gripping. Part 2 was significantly more dramatic with a turn of events that had pieces of the puzzle to the story that came together confirming my suspicion from the beginning. The last 1/4 of the book made me want to skip ahead. The intensity of the story became considerably more...intriguing...action packed...clear as the puzzle pieces are assembled from part 2.

I admit at being shocked at the ending. I wasn't sure what to expect or even what my own expectations were. But if you want to read a fairy tale, this isn't it!

As I said above, this isn't my typical genre of choice but the story resonated so well with me that I am happy I was given the opportunity to read it. I actually enjoyed it so much that I am open to reading other works from this author.

Hunted By The Others by Jess Haines

They are the Others-the vampires, mages, and werewolves once thought to exist only in our imaginations. Now they're stepping out of the shadows, and nothing in our world will ever be the same again...

IN A TOWN LIKE THIS, BEING A P.I. CAN BE MURDER

Shiarra Waynest's detective work was dangerous enough when her client base was strictly mortal. But ailing finances have forced her to accept a lucrative case that could save her firm- if it doesn't kill her first. Shiarra has signed on to work for a high-level mage to recover an ancient artifact owned by one of New York's most powerful vampires.

As soon as Shiarra meets sexy, mesmerizing vamp Alec Royce, she knows her assignment is even more complicated than she thought. With a clandestine anti-Other group trying to recruit her, and magi being eliminated, Shiarra needs back-up and enlists her ex-boyfriend-a werewolf whose non-furry form is disalarmingly appealing=and a nerdy mage with surprising talents. But it may not be enough. In a city where the undead roam, magic rules, and even the Other's aren't always what they seem, Shiarra has just become the weapon in a battle between good and evil-whether she likes it or not...





This was an ARC that I specifically requested from the author, whom sent me the final and autographed copy. The story is written in a non-sensical style that doesn't cater to "cheesy paranormal romance novels" other authors have written in the past. More authors in this genre need to strive for the effort Jess Haines has done. I admit I am not anywhere close to a fan of the novel's artwork. I am definitely one to judge a book by its cover. Had I seen this in the stores based on the artwork, I would have never even bothered touching the book.

An interesting piece of information is that I was actually reviewing a novel for Alison Sinclair at the same time I read this one. Both of these novels spoke about their characters eating bagels with lox and cream cheese. This must be some foreign thing because I am still unware of exactly what this is. LOL!

I thought it was interesting as well that she incorporated a new twist on vampire/slayer protection items/weapons. The story is full of female catty humor. I usually include my favorite quotes from reviews, but this book is so full of them from the beginning until the end. It just would save me time to say my favorite quote is the entire book itself.

As I read the story I hoped for Royce and Shia's character to become my new "Buffy & Angel" couple. Arnold's character was getting so annoying. Everytime it mentioned him I felt as if he was attempting to hook up with every female character in the novel. I think he needs to lower his viagra dosage. But as the story came to a close this issue was happily resolved. I believe the story ended with a great turn of events.

Overall this story was beautifully written with a graceful flow of words that of course is counter-acted by the intensity of vampires, mages and werewolves. I definitely hope this story prolongs into a lengthy series of novels. It certainly has a high potential to do so.

We Were Here by Matt de la Pena

When it happened Miguel was sent to Juvi. The judge only gave him a year in a group home-said Miguel had to write in a journal so some counselor could try to figure out how he thinks. The judge had no idea that he'd actually done Miguel a favor. Ever since it happened Miguel's mom can't even look him in the eye. Any home besides his would be a better place to live.

But Miguel didn't bet on meeting Rondell or Mong or on any of what happened after they broke out. He only thought about Mexico and getting across the border to where he could start over. Forget his mom. Forget his brother. Forget himself.

Life usually doesn't work out how you think it will, though. And most of the time, running away is the quickest path right back to what you're running from.

From the streets of Stockton to the beaches of Venice, all the way down to the Mexican border, We Were Here follows a journey of self-doscpvery by a boy who is trying to forgive himself in an unforgiving world.






I had contacted Matt at some point in 2010 and he had so kindly sent me the final hardback copy of this book. The thing that most drew me to this book was the story of troubled youth in a children's home.

This was written so precisely like the age of the character, Miguel. It is amazing how deep into the characters Matt gets to give the reader a complete detail of the individuals. De La Pena's use of racial ethnicities is very profound from the beginning. Miguel's sense of being "alone" hits very close to home. Although a fictional character the scenarios that the kid faces do carry over into reality for a lot of juveniles in the foster care system, such as myself in my younger years. I know from experience.

I definitely felt a compulsion to Mong & Miguel's characters, forming a compassion for both. Rondell is such a sad and depressing character, but there's almost no "life" to him. I did enjoy the fact that the author incorporated real novels into his own fictional one with Miguel finding a passion in novels to escape his reality. As the story progressed my favorite characters revolved from Miguel to Mong to Rondell and back to Miguel.

I think this is a coming-of-age story where group home kids can escape and through their own versions of rites-of-passage become maturing adults.

Favorite quotes:
"You ever wonder why some people get so much darker than others? It's about people's genes, I know. And how all the continents were once connected or whatever. But how did it start? Who was the first person to come out looking all different from everybody else? Sometimes I trip on shit like that."

"By the way, I decided what I like about reading books. When I'm following a character does in a book I don't have to think about my own life."

The Mage In Black by Jaye Wells

Sabina Kane doesn't have the best track record when it comes to family. After all, her own grandmother, leader of the vampire race, wants her dead. But when Sabina meets her mage relatives in New York, at least they put the fun in dysfunctional. Though, bizarrely, everyone seems to think she's some kind of Chosen who'll unite the dark races. Sabina doesn't care who chose her, she's not into destiny.

But the mages aren't Sabina's only problem. In New York's Black Light District, she has run-ins with fighting demons, hostile werewolves and an opportunistic flame. Sabina thought she'd take a bite out of the Big Apple, but it looks like it wants to bite back.





This is the second book in the Sabina Kane series that Jaye had sent me upon request. Immediately I could tell that Jaye's sense of humor still dominated the story. I was frustrated that there was no talk of Lavinia's predicament from the ending of book one to her locality in book two. There was also talk of Lavinia...but she never appeared. I expected some conflict or even a resolution with her and Sabina in some way or another.

The layout of chapters in this book were a bit longer than book one's, but still filled with excitement, yet not overly lengthy to a feel boredom. (Basically still a sense of easy reading and flowing.)It did feel like at one part the story became a mix of Fight Club meets Pokemon of Demons. I did think eventually this Demon Fight Club took away from Sabina's actual story. I also felt that Damara's character was predictable from her entrance in the story.

Again, I did find a handful or more of errors as I did in book one. I don't blame the author. I just think that the publishing department needs to seriously consider their employees who do these things. If I were an author, which eventually I hope will happen one day, I would be embarrassed to be told about many mistakes in a final copy of my work.

Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells

In a world where being of mixed blood is a major liability, Sabina doesn't really fit in. And being an assassin-the only profession fit for an outcast-doesn't help matters. But she's never brought her work home. Until now.

Her latest mission is uncomfortably complex and threatens the fragile peace between the vampire and mage races. As Sabina scrambles to figure out which side she's on, she uncovers a tangled political web, some nasty facts about her family, and some unexpected new talents. Any of these things could be worryingly life changing, but together they could be fatal...

Sabina Kane:
She's down, but she's not out.











This is an ARC that I had requested from the author awhile ago. Jaye actually sent me book one and two with an autographed note. Ok so moving on to this much overdue review....

Red-Headed Stepchild has such an intense introduction that you are able to see immediately that Sabina has some psychological issues that she needs to overcome. The entire story is very descriptive. I am typically a non-political person. However the political situations, even though fictional, did capture my attention and had an opening with a great mystery.

I think that Sabina Kane comes in a close tie with Gin Blanco, (Jennifer Estep's fictional Elemental assassin, who are two main characters as the top paranormal heroines of 2010 that I immersed myself with. I loved the way that Jaye incorporated her sarcasism and humor and even ironical references such as Adam Lazarious in this novel.

I also sometimes run into novels that have a great storyline but still are unclear or confusing. This book simply spells everything out and doesn't leave the reader sitting on the curb contemplating. In Chapter 21 I was confused with a contradictory statement when Sabina states about being embarassed in front of her friends, but then in the end of the chapter she talks of not being/having friends? Either I was having a blonde moment, or maybe Sabina is simply bi-polar. LOL!

This was a final printed edition and not an ARC. I did find a few grammatical errors. I would suggest the editorial department should do a few extra editing runs before a final submission.

Favorite quotes:
"Never had a loss cut so deep. I worried I might bleed from the pain."

"Pain was my friend. It meant I was still alive."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Spring Update

Hey everyone! I know it's been awhile. I've been so busy with many things involved on campus as the school year is coming to a close and a new one begins. I will be posting some more reviews soon.

I have since been contacted by my good friend Amanda Ashley to review her upcoming novel Bound By Night. This book will be in stores sometime in September. I was also contacted by a publisher to review Before Versailles by Karleen Koen. This is a new author for me and what appears to be a new genre of reviews as well. You will find this novel in stores June 28, 2011.

So stay tuned and I'm so sorry once again for the lack of my posts. Best wishes and happy reading!

xoxo

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Update Part 2

So here's a list of my newest books to my library:
Thirst #1- Christopher Pike (Omnibus: 1/3)*
Thirst #2- Christopher Pike (Omnibus: 0/3)
Thirst #3- Christopher Pike (Omnibus: 0/3)
The Midnight Club- Christopher Pike
Eat, Prey, Love- Kerrelyn Sparks
Butterfly- V.C. Andrews
Pretties- Scott Westerfield
Uglies- Scott Westerfield
Ironman- Chris Crutcher
The Short Second Life Of Bree Tanner- Stephanie Meyer*
The Chronicles of Vladimir Todd: Eighth Grade Bites- Heather Brewer*
The Chronicles of Vladimir Todd: Ninth Grade Slays- Heather Brewer
The Chronicles of Vladimir Todd: Tenth Grade Bleeds- Heather Brewer
The Chronicles of Vladimir Todd: Eleventh Grade Burns- Heather Brewer
The Chronicles of Vladimir Todd: Twelfth Grade Kills- Heather Brewer
Black Beauty- Anna Sewell
May I Kiss You On The Lips, Miss Sandra?- Sandra Bernhard
Fey Born- R. Garland Gray
Are You There, Vodka? It's Me Chelsea- Chelsea Handler
The Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Capture- Cathryn Lasky
The Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Journey- Cathryn Lasky
The Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Rescue- Cathryn Lasky
Charm- Kendall Hart
Undead & Unemployed- MaryJanice Davidson
Undead & Unappreciated- MaryJanice Davidson
Undead & Unreturnable- MaryJanice Davidson
Undead & Unpopular- MaryJanice Davidson
Undead & Uneasy- MaryJanice Davidson
Undead & Unworthy- MaryJanice Davidson
Sleeping With The Fishes- MaryJanice Davidson
Swimming Without A Net- MaryJanice Davidson
Fish Out Of Water- MaryJanice Davidson
The Witching Hour- Anne Rice
Red Riding Hood- Sarah Blakely-Cartwright
The Yearling- Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Tuck Everlasting- Natalie Babbitt
The Beach- Alex Garland*
His Bright Light- Danielle Steel*
The Green Mile: Coffey on the Mile Part 6- Stephen King*
Words in the Dust- Trent Reedy (won from GoodReads contest)

First ARC of 2011:
Mermaid- Carolyn Turgeon

Update

Hey followers! I know my posts have been lacking and I am sincerely sorry for that. School this quarter (winter) is killing me worse than fall. I still have reviews I have finished that I need to post. I also have new books to my library and I just won a book off of Good Reads again and a new ARC from Ms. Carolyn Turgeon. I will do another post about this later tonight. If possible.
xoxo

Monday, January 10, 2011

Darkborn by Alison Sinclair

For the Darkborn, sunlight kills. For the Lightborn, darkness is fatal. Living under a centuries old curse, the Darkborn and the Lightborn share the city of Minhorne, coexisting in an uneasy equilibirum but never interacting...

When Darkborn physician Balthasar Hearne finds a pregnant fugitive on his doorstep just before sunrise, he has no choice but to take her in. Tercelle Amberley's betrothed is a powerful Darkborn nobleman, but her illicit lover came through the daytime. When she gives birth to twin boys, Balthasar realizes that they can see- something unheard of among the Darkborn.

Soon after, men arrive in search of the children. Balthasar is saved only by the intervention of his Lightborn neighbor-and healed by the hands of his wife, Telmaine. Soon Balthasar finds himself ensnared in a web of political intrigue and magic as an ancient enemy of both Darkborn and Lightborn appears in a new guise and with a hatred that has not never waned. And Telmaine must confront a power she can no longer keep sheathed in gloves, a power she neither wants nor can control.


This was an ARC that I had requested a very long time ago, or so it seems. Alison also sent me the sequel Lightborn, which both are now in stores.

This novel for me was very confusing throughout most of its entirety. It has a very, and I mean a very! extensive vocabulary. Sonn, demimonde, salle, passe-muraille, sundered rappier, gallard, sibilant, difidently, embittered...just to name a few. While I love reading books to learn new words this just seemed like an overcompensation and overwhelming as well.

I was unsure if the characters were some kind of vampires, faeries or other supernatural entity. I feel as if I were thrown into the middle of a story- which usually makes me like a novel. This, however, just made me feel overwhelmed with the vast amount of characters and locations. A previous novel, prequel, may have helped clear up the utter confusion I felt.

Nearing the end the intensity was amplified, as was the confusion, the vocabulary, and even more characters. It was like bits and pieces fitting together but as they came together it resulted in a blurry image?

Originally I was not feeling the novel much at all. There were so many minute details and factors that just had me confused. Thankfully the story came to a close and then I was aware of the understanding needed for this novel.

Soon I will begin the sequel to this trilogy. Hopefully with the first novel it will allow me to embrace the story more?! Thanks again to Alison for sending me both novels and allowing me to review them for her.

Favorite quote:
"...like two roses kissing in the wind..."